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Covering the villages of Wilsden and Harecroft


A Sentence of Six Months’ Imprisonment

At the West Riding Assizes, at Leeds, on Tuesday, before Mr. Justice Shearman, Hannah Mary Donaldson (37), of Wilsden, Bradford, pleaded “Guilty” on three charges of perjury. As the defendant in an action at Sheffield in 1916, she swore that she had a share, value £11,000, of the estate of the late William Bateman, the yearly income from which was between £480 and £520. On March 15, 1917, in Bradford, in her preliminary examination in bankruptcy before the official receiver, she stated that under the will of her grandfather, William Bateman, she had received since the age of 21 the sum of £300 a year, and also she was entitled to £3000 under the will. … Mr Simey, [for the prosecution] said that the prisoner’s past dealings revealed a course of systematic swindling for years. She lived by answering advertisements, matrimonial or for a housekeeper, getting hold of foolish men, telling a story about her grandfather’s estate and inducing them to lend her money. She had been doing that for fifteen years.

Inspector Bates, of Bradford, said the prisoner was born at Wilsden. Her father, the late Joseph Hardy, was at one time a manufacturer, but he failed and eventually became an old-age pensioner. In her younger days the prisoner was a teacher at Bingley. Then she went out housekeeping for men usually in good positions. She had two children, one born before her marriage and one after. In 1909 she married a Mr. Donaldson, and contracted debts which caused his failure. Donaldson found that her statements concerning her well-to-do father were false, and they parted.  Mr. R. A. Shepherd, who appeared for the prisoner … [said] that he had very grave doubts whether she was responsible for her answers [in court]. Mr Shepherd laid emphasis on the fact that the creditors had not been injured by the misrepresentations, which, he suggested, were the result of an obsession that she had a fortune. It was a stupid story that she told. It was easily ascertainable that her grandfather, who was called Bateman, died in a workhouse, and that her father died in a workhouse. Her mother was insane for two or three years before she died.

The Judge said he had no doubt that the prisoner had desired to live luxuriously, and had carried on the life more or less of an adventuress. But she had not been indicted for fraud, and he had no right to punish her for what he suspected her of doing for a considerable time because she had eventually done something else. What she had done was to make wildly irresponsible and ridiculous statements as a judgement debtor. She must have known she was committing perjury. It was said in her favour that she put it right, but it was obvious that she only put it right by some other equally wild and untrue statements.

Sentence of six months imprisonment was passed.

- Keighley News, 20th July 1918

 17th July – Just after midnight, in the cellar of a house outside the Russian town of Yekaterinburg, the deposed Russian Tsar Nicholas II was murdered by a group of Bolshevik revolutionaries. Nicholas’ wife, Tsarina Alexandria, and his five children Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Alexei, as well as four family retainers were killed alongside him. The killings were so badly botched that most of the victims survived the initial hail of more than seventy bullets (in part thanks to the jewels that they had sewn into the linings of their clothing) and were killed instead by bayonets. The bodies were then hastily buried in an unmarked grave. The royal family remained undiscovered until 1979, and their discovery was not then made public until the fall of communism. Two remaining bodies were discovered in 2007, finally putting an end to decades of rumours and fraudulent claims that one of the daughters of the family had survived in exile.    


The Royal Family pictured in 1913 or 1914. Picture via Wikimedia Commons