Tuesday, July 20, 2021

A High Day for Family Quarrels in Brushland

The Stamford Mirror's February 17, 1880 issue had the following item under its Bovina column:

Last Sunday seems to have been a high day for family quarrels in Brushland. A row was begun that day by Charles Allen and wife, which resulted in demolishing the clock and a separation of the parties, Mrs. Allen going off with her father on Tuesday, taking her share of the household goods with her. A similar affair occurred between Robt. Agnew and wife. Agnew is a blacksmith by trade, and located here some time last fall. This worthy couple have been in the habit of quarreling occasionally ever since they have been here, and on Sunday (according to Mrs. Agnew’s story) Agnew shut her up stairs, and kept her there all day, with nothing but two cold griddle-cakes to eat. On Monday, she went up to Mrs. Boyd’s (a relative of Mrs. Agnew’s) and returned home on Tuesday. Agnew came from his shop in the evening, and finding his wife at home, the quarrel was again commenced, when Agnew put his wife out of doors, and threatened to kill her if she came in again. Soon after this, Thomas Miller was crossing the stone bridge, near Strangeway’s store, and heard a noise, as if some one was trying to break the ice, and going down the stream a short distance found Mrs. Agnew, who acted as if she intended to drown herself. She was then taken to M. Dickson’s, where she remained over night. The next day she went to Boyd’s, and is there at present, but is said that she intends to leave Agnew and go back to her mother, who we believe, lives in Scotland.

Mrs. Agnew showed up in the papers again in August 1880. It isn’t clear but it seems she may have overstayed her welcome at Dickson’s:  

Stamford Mirror, August 24, 1880: Michael Dickson having obtained a judgment against, Mrs. Agnew served, an execution on her Monday last, and levied on "three silver dollars, also the potatoes and apples in the garden at present occupied by her," and ordered her to vacate the premises within three days.  The three days have expired and she is still in possession of the premises, and says she has a club laid up to break Mike's head with if he troubles her again."  

I have found few clues as to who she was, but I think she was born either Margaret Jane Boyd or Margaret Jane Mcbirnie. Born around 1849 in Scotland, she was married to Robert Agnew, probably in Scotland. In 1871, she was living in Renfrewshire, Scotland with her husband and one-year-old son, also named Robert.

After her appearance in the news (and in the 1880 census), Mrs. Agnew disappears. Did she go back to Scotland as she threatened? We just don't know. 

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