JOHN LE ROY
Charing Cross, St. Helier, Jersey
AN IRON MASK FOR A DRUNKEN WIFE
At the police-court, at Jersey, on Monday, John Le Roy, an elderly man, a watchmaker and greengrocer, carrying on business at Charing Cross, was charged with having cruelly ill-treated his wife by having, among other things, fastened her head in an iron mask, the latter offence having been committed on the Saturday previous. This invention for curing a drunken wife, was produced in court, and excited no little astonishment. It consisted of two stout iron rings of about a quarter of an inch thick, attached to each other by vertical bars of strong hoop-iron, each at least an inch wide. One of the rings was about nine inches in diameter, and the other six inches, the smaller part resting upon the shoulders when the instrument was placed in position. The bars were about two inches apart, and to prevent the wearer getting anything to her mouth a piece of iron was placed across two of the bars in front. It weighed three pounds. It turned out, however, on trial that she was able to defeat this object by reversing the mask during the short time (about an hour) that she had it on and drinking a glass of spirits. The mask opened with a hinge in front, and was fastened behind with a padlock. The wife, who had a half-stupid appearance, said that the prisoner forced the mask over her head while she was in a kneeling posture. She contrived to let some of the neighbours see it on her head, and they sent for the police, who went to the house and compelled the prisoner to take it off. In addition to this and other ill-treatment, the prisoner had sometimes shut her up in a large box, on which he had put iron bars, making it resemble a cage. Beyond the confinement she had suffered no injury, as there was ample room in it. The prisoner, on being asked by the magistrate what he had to say, replied that what he had done was solely for the purpose of curing his wife of her drunken habits. He had tried various means, and had placed her five times in the workhouse. He had locked her up at home, but she escaped by the window in order to get drink. He did not know he was acting illegally by putting the mask on his wife, or he would not have done so. The wife, who admitted the truth of what the prisoner said, expressed herself willing to accept 5s. per week and leave her husband. The latter agreed to this, and was then fined 10s. for the assault on his wife. The mask remains in the possession of the police.
Source: The Western Mail - 4th February 1870