At the London Sessions held at Guildhall the 10th of April 1809, these scandalous women were indicted by the parish officers of St. Botolph, for keeping a disorderly house.
Mr. Knowles, who was counsel for the prosecution, called a number of witnesses, who proved that the house had been frequented by a vast number of disorderly women for about two years; twenty or thirty couple having been observed to go there daily. The indecencies exhibited in and about the premises, which were within fifty yards of a charity-school for females, in Cavendish court, Houndsditch, compelled the neighbouring inhabitants, from motives of decency, either to block up their windows, or keep their shutters continually closed. The house at length came under the cognizance of the parish officers, who applied to the elder prisoner to shut up her house, and desist from such practices; she refused to comply, saying she had no other means to obtain a livelihood;—they then preferred the present indictment.
Mr. Knapp, for the prisoners, admitted the case to be proved, but argued that the daughter must be acquitted, she being included in the indictment as one of the owners or occupiers of the house, whereas she only acted as the servant of her mother.
The Recorder, in summing up to the jury, stated, that the objections made by Mr. Knapp must go for nothing, as the law in cases of this kind, held a person engaged in the management of a disorderly house equally guilty with the renter, and that if a woman acted under the influence of her husband in such an occupation, the law would punish both equally.
The jury returned their verdict, finding both the prisoners guilty. The Recorder then, with much emphasis and feeling, proceeded to pass sentence upon Ann Illiard the elder, in which he impressed upon her the necessity of reforming her life, as she could not, from her advanced age, have long to live; and desired her to reflect seriously upon the natural consequences of bringing up her daughter to such a scandalous, wicked, and shameful life, merely for the sake of gain. He then sentenced her to pay a fine of 150l. and to be imprisoned until it was paid. He then addressed himself to Ann Illiard the younger; and, after a suitable admonition, sentenced her to pay a fine of 50l. and to be imprisoned until she had paid it.
The daughter then begged to say a word or two to the Court, in which she declared her innocence; said she had only been to see her mother, whose line of life she lamented; and that she was unable to pay even 50s. She added, that the names they went by were not their real names, and that the premises belonged to others, who let them to her mother at a weekly rent, and who had now abandoned her. She then retired, apparently overpowered by her feelings. The mother seemed to be about sixty years of age, and the daughter about thirty; the latter was in deep mourning, as a widow—the mother was also in mourning.