Historic Tails

Cats Purr-suit of Justice Fails in Rhode Island

evicted cats new newProperty rights were shredded by a Rhode Island probate court in June of 1950 when it helped evict three lawful tenants of a Providence home – simply because they happened to be cats.

The dark tale begins with the passing of Mrs. Sophie H.S. Howarth in April of 1949. In her will, she declared that the mansion she shared with her three cats should be maintained for the cats’ use, and she provided a $10 weekly stipend to her maid, Elizabeth Bernie, to continue feeding and caring for the cats.

Mrs. Howard’s two stepdaughters, however, didn’t care for this arrangement. So they set in motion the machinations to evict the tomcats from their 16-room bachelor pad.

The property in dispute as it appears today.

The property in dispute as it appears today.

The perfect front man for their plan came along in the person of Anthony Parshley, archdeacon of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island. Parshley said he wanted to lease the cats’ house, but he did not want to share it with them.

Court actions ensued, and a meeting was held between the heirs, the maid, the judge and the executor. When the doors to the (smoke-filled, we presume) room swung open, the maid had a $4,000 payday, the “venerable” preacher had the lease to the house and the cats were evicted into the care of Bernie, after just 15 months of having the run of the mansion.

- This has been an update from the History Cat News Network

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