Oxford Observer, Volume VII, 15 February 1896, Page 3
The case of Mr Patrick Malone, of Darfield seems to have engaged the attention of some of our public functionaries for a considerable time. From published reports and from enquiries we hare made it appears that the man lost his wife m October last, and since then his principal trouble has been, not to see how much parental care he could bestow on his six motherless children, but to try to rid himself altogether of his natural responsibilities; and he has succeeded pretty well, m our opinion, m effecting that laudable object.
First, the Magistrate at Sheffield was requested, on the information of Malone's advisers, to send the children to a certain denominational school, on the ground that the fathe r was unable to support them. Perhaps he was lo a certain extent under the circumstances but we cannot help thinking that he was quite as unwilling, as he was unable, to make a proper effort to discharge his duty. At any rate he has his health and strength and muscle, and is expected to exert himself as many a laboring man deprived of his wife and with a young family on his hands, has had to do before him. However, the Magistrate found that the proper way to bring the matter before the Court was not at the instance of private friends (however good their intentions might be) but through the police; and accordingly the case was taken m hand by those officers and transferred to the Court at Christchurch but before it reached that stage, the Charitable Aid Board was consulted and, recognising that the man was placed m a difficulty, and would have to employ some person to attend to the children, while the father was (or should be) working for their support, the Board was willing to afford him what we venture to think most people will consider the liberal allowance of £40 a year. But that was "not good enough" nothing short of the children being sent to the Nelson Industrial School, would satisfy Malone and his friends and this modest demand, we are glad to see, Mr Beetham would not comply with, seeing that it would have the effect of saddling the local ratepayers with a prospective cost of about £940 for the keep of the children at the institution m question.
Defeated m this attempt, Mr Patrick Malone left his little ones m Christchurch, but was soon required to explain why he did not fulfil his obligations as a father. The police meanwhile placed the family m the care of the Charitable Aid Board, which has ever since had to provide for their needs, the exemplary parent never having contributed so much as a red cent towards their maintenance and judging from the attitude he has already taken up, probably he never will if he can help it, m spite of an order of the Court that he is to pay fifteen shillings week for that purpose. And even if he should, we still think that he may consider himself a lucky man to be able to escape the responsibility attaching to a father for
the personal care and custody of his helpless babes, by the payment to the State of half-a-crown per head How many hard-working, struggling, fathers and mothers honestly endeavouring to discharge their duty towards their children, would not feel that but for honor and duty and natural affection, they would be "let off cheap" if their families were taken off their hands at the same ratt We are strongly of opinion that the law should be so framed as to prevent any facilities being given to such a man as Malone to evade his manifest duties as a father, by simply pleading "I can't," because he has been overtaken by the misfortune that many others are equally liable to, namely the loss of his wife. In all probability if the poor woman had survived her husband, she would have been as reluctant, as Malone seems desirous, to part with her children, for whose benefit she left the proceeds of her life insurance policy.