6th June 1908

Missing woman case’s happy ending… for some

Elizabeth Price had been missing for nearly two weeks when the police found her in Lucy Biard’s St Helier home. This might not have been a problem had her parents and the police not spent days searching for her.

And so, Lucy Baird found herself facing the court on 6th June, accused of harbouring Elizabeth Price in her St Helier home for immoral purposes. Elizabeth had been invited to the house by Baird’s son, Raymond, the court was told, and Baird had allowed her to stay in the boy’s room. In 1908 doing something like this would likely have been quite irregular.

Significant evidence

The housekeeper all but confirmed that the two had been sleeping in the same room, telling the court that Baird had forbidden her from entering the room, and had taken in the meals herself. Notably, she had taken two meals on each occasion.

The defence argued that Baird had had little option but to allow Raymond and Elizabeth to carry on as they were doing, as her son had threatened to shoot himself if not. Further, she wasn’t keeping a house for immoral purposes – or, as we might know it today, a brothel.

A split verdict

The jury retired to consider its verdict after the Bailiff had summed up the evidence and returned 15 minutes later without having come to a decisive conclusion. The Bailiff agreed to consider a split verdict and asked each of the 24 jury members what they’d decided. Five of them declared that she was not guilty which, despite being a minority, was enough to see Baird set free.

Elizabeth Price’s parents may not have been happy with that outcome, but – for them – worse was yet to come. The Jersey Times of 24 July announced the marriage of their daughter to Raymond Baird the previous day. Its short report concluded, “The couple have left the island”.


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