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1858 or 1859 there was a branch house established in Anlaby-road, Hull. I had much to do with the arrangements for removal, and that necessarily brought me into frequent contact with externs. I was not found fault with at the time for that communication with them. At this period Mrs. Star was rather distant in her manner towards me, but there was nothing remarkable in the manner of Mrs. Kennedy. About twelve months after the ladies came over from Dublin there was a project entertained, though never carried out, for giving up the establishment at Clifford, in consequence of the attendance at the schools there having greatly fallen off. Mrs. Star and Mrs. Kennedy asked me to go to Clifford to get the schools up, as I was a favourite with the girls. I accordingly went back to Clifford and devoted myself to this task. That brought me a good deal into contact with the parents of the children and with Mr. and Mrs. Grimstone, the principal supporters of the convent and schools. In the course of a few months I succeeded in bringing up the schools to their former state. Mrs. Star and Mrs. Kennedy afterwards came over to Clifford to meet the Bishop, when it was arranged that the establishment should be continued. Mrs. Star came to Clifford about May, 1861, and stayed there till the following August “ Retreat." The August “ Retreat” lasts ten days, and at that time the observances are stricter than usual. While Mrs. Star was at Clifford Mrs. Kennedy was at Hull. During this period of 1861 Mrs. Star treated me on every occasion very unkindly. She was dissatisfied with and disapproved almost every thing I did. There was some work brought from Hull which she told me to prepare and cut out on Sundays. I had never known such a thing as a nun working on Sundays. We usually rose at half past five, and went to bed at ten, but I was required to get up at three o'clock on several mornings in order to finish this work. In August Mrs. Star went to Hull for the “Retreat," and took me with her, I remained at Hull after the “Retreat” had closed. After returning to ifford in September, I received a visit from my uncle, the Rev. Mr. Mathews, the parish priest of Drogheda. I felt that Mrs. Star's manner was very different towards me to what it had been. Mrs. M'Owne was the Mother-Assistant at Clifford. She appeared to treat me with some reserve. I received very few letters from my friends at that time. When I did receive them I was obliged to return them to Mrs. M'Owne. I never knew that to be done in any other instance. Mrs. M'Owne told me it was done by Mrs. Star's orders. I became anxious to go back to the establishment at Dublin. Accordingly I wrote a letter in March, 1862, to my uncle, Mr. Mathews. I left that letter in my cell. Mrs. Kidd, one of the sisters, found it there and sent it to the Superioress at Hull. (The letter was put in and read.) Some days after this I received a letter from Mrs. Star in reference to what I had done. In that letter, which Mrs. Star subsequently took away with her, she said she supposed I was aware that my letter had been sent to her, and she said it was a breach of rule and vow to write as I had done. She also wished to know whether I desired to return to Baggot-street, and, if so, whether she or I should write to my uncle on the subject. In my reply to her letter I said I did wish, if possible, to return to Baggot-street that night. I don't remember receiving any reply to that letter. I wrote a second letter to my uncle without leave. Soon afterwards I was visited by my mother and my brother, when Mrs. M'Owne came into the school-room and ordered me to go into my cell, saying that she could not allow me to see my mother and brother, as Mrs. Star had given her directions to that effect. I was afterwards allowed to see my mother, who clasped me in her arms and said, “ My child, are they going to make a prisoner of you :" Mrs. M'Owne tried to excuse her conduct, saying she had been obliged by Mrs. Star to refuse her permission to see me. My mother and brother stayed an hour or two with me. My mother told me Mrs. Star complained of the impertinent note which I had written to her. She said she thought if such were the case that I ought to apologize. Accordingly, I wrote a long letter of apology to Mrs. Star. Before sending it I showed it to Mrs. M'Owne, who approved it. After this there was a very great change in Mrs. M'Owne's deportment towards me. She took all writing materials away from me, and she appeared to be a great deal more reserved at recreation. On one occasion she said she would rather speak before a lay postulant than before me on any matter she was particular about. The other sister, Mrs. King, appeared to be with me wherever I went. Mrs. M'Owne suddenly came into my cell at nights. I was asked as to whether I had written letters to my relatives when at the Hull “Retreat,” and I acknowledged it.
The Lord Chief Justice.—Is it contrary to the rules to send letters without the Superior seeing them ?
Plaintiff.— It was contrary to the custom. It was explained by counsel that there were two books—the book of rules or constitutions, and the book of customs.
The plaintiff's examination was continued. Mrs. Star, she said, wanted her to give a written acknowledgment of her fault, and also resolutions for the future. She gave the written acknowledgment accordingly :-“I acknowledge to have written two notes to my uncle, the Rev. Thomas Mathews, of Drogheda, and sent them without the knowledge of my Superior.” Mrs. Star, however, desired her to sign another acknowledgment drawn up by herself:-“I acknowledge to have written two letters to my uncle to obtain his assistance in obtaining admission into another community, and I sent them without the knowledge of my Superior.” Witness said she did not write “letters,” but only “notes.” Mrs. Star said it made no difference. She asked Mrs. Star if she should acknowledge her fault openly before the “chapter.” Mrs. Star said no- that it might disedify the community. (The resolutions were here called for, but not produced, and were stated to have been destroyed.) She had never been charged with any other misconduct than writing the letters; she had never been charged with habitual disregard of rules, with unauthorized intercourse with “externs" (i. e. strangers), with disregard of the rule as to silence, or with want of truth. She was not aware that at this time a council or chapter was being held as to her conduct. Neither had she any idea that at this time Mrs. Star was proposing to the Bishop that she should be released from her vows. Mrs. Star told her that her father had written to her and wanted her to leave, but that she had no notion of letting her go. Mrs. Star did not tell her that her father was dangerously ill. She was not allowed to go to see her family, although it was usual for the sisters to be allowed to go and see their friends upon request. Mrs. Star said once a year was enough. Mrs. Star said she had letters from her family, but did not give them to her. Going to a drawer one day she saw letters from her brother in it-her brother the Jesuit. After all this she went back to Clifford, where Mrs. M'Owne was Superioress. This was after August, 1862. She was then subject to restrictions. Upon her return to Clifford Mrs. Star gave her a “ distribution of time,” which she never had before, and was not usual among the
community sisters.” It prescribed the employment of every hour through the day. Mrs. Star told her she was to consider herself the lowest member of the community, and to obey the orders of a novice. She was treated as a junior laysister—though she was the senior sister next to Mrs. Star. The lay-sisters were generally like servants in the house, and had to do the household work, and she had to do such work. Added to this, restrictions were placed upon her speaking to any one at the schools, the result of which was that she was placed in a very awkward position, and when people spoke to her she could not answer them and had to make signs. In November she went to a visitation at Hull, and saw the Bishop there. She received advice from him, and spoke to him on the subject. But on her return to Clifford there was no improvement in her treatment. Mrs. Star spoke to her, and said she would never be able to bear the punishment which might be inflicted upon her. Further restrictions were placed upon her, as to speaking to any one, even to the novices. The domestic duties were put upon her, and she had to do household work-black stoves, brush floors, &c., and other work which had been done by the lay-sisters. She had to go to the schools every evening for two hours, from six to eight. Every day she had to acknowledge her faults on her knees. That was a custom which had been introduced by Mrs. Star. Her food, also, was different from what it had been, and different from that of the others. She was known to have a constitutional aversion to mutton, yet nothing but mutton was given to her. This was in 1863-4. She had nothing but mutton to eat.
The plaintiff went on to state that she became unwell, and asked for medicine, but it was refused. It was refused by Mrs. Star, who said it was by order of Mrs. M'Owne. She had to stand also when at the schools, which wearied and exhausted her. On the 18th of February, 1863, her brother Thomas died, and she did not hear of it until two or three weeks afterwards—Mrs. M'Owne told her of it. She had no sympathy from any one. In September, 1863, she had a visit from her mother and aunt and two uncles, and she was alone with her mother on that occasion. In October the Bishop came to visit Clifford, and she saw the Bishop. Mrs. Star came and saw her, and spoke to her about certain monthly letters she was to have written to her, and said she had not written sufficiently of her faults or thoughts; that there was nothing in them which a saint might not have written. She was told she ought to try and recollect and write more, as the other sisters did. Her treatment continued as it had been, and a watch her father had given her was taken from her as contrary to rule, though it was returned to her before she left the convent. After this Mrs. Star, who was re-elected Superioress, had a conversation with her, and said she was an unfortunate creature, and that her life was a martyrdom, and would continue to be so if she remained there, and that it would be better for her to go as a “ postulant ” to any house rather than remain there; and why did she not go to another convent ? After this she had her bedding taken from her, except a blanket, counterpane, and sheets, upon an iron bedstead. Mrs. Star gave her additional duties of a menial character-sweeping out the passage, &c.
After this, continued the plaintiff, I was shown by Mrs. Star a letter from my brother to the effect that he did not know where I was, and wanted to know, but Mrs. Star took it out of my hand and tore it up before I could read it through. She gave me a scrap of paper, and told me to kneel down and write upon it “Sister Scholastica” (my name in the house) “ is at Hull.” I did not know what she wanted it for. I wrote it and she took it. She said the Superioress of Baggot-street was changed, and I might get back there. She said if she had gone through half what I had gone through she would have been in her grave long since. I said I had striven to give her every satisfaction. She said I had complained to the Bishop. The plaintiff went on to describe what she had to do at the convent at Hull. She had, she said, to sweep the corridors, some closets, the water-closet, sink, dust-box, &c.-duties never done by any other community sister but herself. She went on to describe other grievances she alleged she had sustained in the convent. Her food, she said, was not the same either in quantity or quality as the others got.
The plaintiff then deposed to various instances of petty persecution to which she had been subjected, such as not having enough clothes on her bed, not being allowed to change her dress, having to put a thimble on a cut finger, &c. She was not allowed to receive letters from her relatives or friends, except through the hands of the Superioress, and then was only allowed to look at them for a few minutes, and they were then taken away and torn up or kept by Mrs. Star. Moreover, parts of the letters she had were often obliterated or scratched out. This was done, she said, with a letter from her father.
The examination was then taken to August, 1864, when the plaintiff was in the Hull convent. She stated that one afternoon, after she came in from school, Mrs. Star sent for her into her room, where Mrs. Kennedy also was, and commanded her, on the obedience she owed to her as Superioress, to undress herself. She was obliged to do so, even to her stays ; and as each article was taken off Mrs. Star examined it. She then, continued the plaintiff, made me take off my stays and my last skirt, and then examined my person. I was crying and asked for my pocket-handkerchief, and she would not give it to me. She searched in my pockets and took out every thing. She then told me to dress myself again, and sent me away. Among the things taken away was a small memorandum-book, &c. (These articles were called for and produced.) Something of the same sort occurred in December, 1865. I was sitting working, and Mrs. Star came in and took me into a small room and called Mrs. Dawson (another of the sisters) to her, and then she said she wanted to see my stays, and desired me to take off my dress, standing opposite the open door, and the sisters constantly passing, and also coming into the room. She made me take off my clothes until I had nothing on but a thin tunic, and I thus remained undressed from shortly after ten until near twelve.
The Lord Chief Justice.- What were they doing all that while ?
Plaintiff.—They said they were mending my staylaces (as was understood). I remember Mrs. Star saying to the sister that she wondered I should stay there, as they wanted me to go. She also said to Mrs. Kerr, another sister, that the Bishop had as long ago as July given me a dispensation from my vows, and that I was to be ready for a quick despatch, and that a secular dress was to be got ready for me. I had asked leave to write to my friends, but was refused. She came to me afterwards, just before chapel-time, and gave me a small piece of paper and said I could write, but that I must not ask them to come to see me. I then had neither pen nor ink, which were brought afterwards. I had only about ten minutes, and wrote a few lines to my mother, which I gave to Mrs. Star, and I don't know what became of it. On the Sunday I asked leave to write to the Bishop, as I was surprised to hear that I had been dispensed from my vows, and had never desired such a thing. Paper was given me, but Mrs. Kennedy sat opposite to me while I wrote. I asked for an envelope, and she said she knew her duty and would send it herself. The plaintiff said she never saw the Bishop until the occasion of the commission. In September, she went on to state, she was told to kneel, and had to worship in a sitting posture ; but Mrs. Star made her have a higher seat, and, as she sat before Mrs. Star, she was often poked by her during
The plaintiff was then examined as to the ring the Bishop had given her on her profession, as a symbol of her mystical marriage with religious life. On one occasion, she said, Mrs. Star asked me for it, and pulled it off and took it away from me, and I never had it again. Some time afterwards my Jesuit brother came to see me; I had not seen him for eight or more years; I was not told that he had called until next morning, when Mrs. Star let me see my brother, but put a quarter-of-an-hour glass into my hand as the limit of my time. I never knew before such a rule enforced in the case of such unfrequent visits from such near relations. I was with my brother half an hour, and I was afterwards subjected to censure for having exceeded the time. Mrs. Star asked me on the following morning why I had not acknowledged it as a fault. I believe I said I thought I had permission ; but I had to acknowledge it as a fault. Afterwards Mrs. Star told me she and Mrs. Kennedy had an interview of an hour with my brother. I never saw him again. I had no interview with the Bishop until the occasion of the commission. In November, 1865, my uncle, the Rev. Mr. Mathews, called at the convent. In January, 1866, I observed the sisters a good deal engaged in writing, principally with Mrs. Star and Mrs. Kennedy. In that month Mrs. Kennedy handed me a note from the Bishop, which first informed me of the commission. I wrote something on the back of it, and I destroyed it. It was merely to say that he had decided on having a commission. I wrote an answer to inquire the day and also to ask what the charges were.
Dr. Cornthwaite, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Beverley, was then called upon to produce the letter. He produced two letters. The first was dated in December, 1865, and implored the Bishop to visit the plaintiff. It did not appear that this letter was answered. Then there was another letter, dated in January, 1866, begging the Bishop to be present at the commission.
The exanıination of the plaintiff was then continued. She said, I received no statement of charges. I asked to be allowed to be alone for a short time to write in preparation for the commission, and it was refused. I could not go to my cell without a sister following me. The others might go for a few minutes, if they pleased, though there was a rule not to be absent more than five minutes without special permission. The day before the commission I was allowed a short time for preparation. It was very difficult to write in the community room among all the other sisters. Mrs. Star told me she went to Liverpool, and saw Mr. Porter (who was one of the commissioners). She said to me also, on another occasion, that I did not think that what I had said to my brother would be known, but that she had been told all. She asked me if I had told him that she had stripped me. I said, “ Yes.” She said if she were to take me by the hair of the head and drag me down-stairs, from the top of the house to the bottom, I ought not to mention it. I asked to renew my vows (according to the rules) on New Year's Day, but she said she believed I had been absolved from my vows. The day before the commission my uncle came to see me for a quarter of an hour. Some papers I had prepared for my trial were taken away from me. (It was stated that they had been destroyed.) The plaintiff then went on to state the formation of the commission, composed of Canon Walker and Canon Chadwick, Dr. O'Hanlon, and two others. Sbe said, I had no statement of charges before I went before the commission.
There was a great pile of written papers containing the charges—that is, the statements of the sisters against me.