It has been a while since I have posted a police report or had any buried words so today you are getting a rather long police report, and it is one of the types that I love to read. Not just a boring account of crime and punishments, we get the story of the amusing goings-on in the court as well. I also get to put in a buried word I have used before, weasen. In this article it is clear the word is being used to describe a throat although it is very hard to find it used that way in other places. Judging by this police report, and many others, I wonder if the courts would have had any work at all if alcohol was taken out of the equation?
Sarah Crane claimed she was only ‘slightly inebriated’ although it sounds as though the Constable was treating her far more politely than he would have been for a man found in the same situation. There are a few other stories of drunks here that didn’t get treated so politely.
Mary Jones was found having a swim in the foundations of a new house. Although she was drunk she was discharged, as they considered she had atoned for her crime by being thoroughly wet on the outside. I think she got off quite easily really. After all, she had chosen to have the swim, it is not as though she was thrown in as punishment.
Jeremiah Wilson was drunk as a fiddler on three glasses of licher and got seven days on the mill.
Ann Burridge was wonderfully described as having a taste for ornamental drapery. She may have been well-dressed, but she wasn’t sober or polite, and after abusing her master she received a bucket of water over the head prior to being punished by the courts.
Joseph Hasley uses the word boroughmonger against the Constable accusing him of drunkenness. My Routledge dictionary of slang tells me a boroughmonger is old Scots for rabbit. Not much of an insult really. A boroughmonger is also a person who buys and sells the parliamentary seats of boroughs. I doubt the constable had that much influence in government, so I am guessing he is using the word to accuse him of impropriety.
Pat and Peter may have said they were just having a lark but it sounds as though the scrimmage was a little more serious than that. Fie-for-shames is a term used for female genitals. I think it is safe to say that Skinner didn’t possess any of them, and it was more likely that the thing Pat ripped with his teeth was the seat of Skinner’s trousers.
The perfectly named John Drink was, unsurprisingly, drunk and skinning the constable like an eel. I am not sure exactly what being skinned like an eel is. Maybe he was verbally abusing him? (Suggestions appreciated!)
The spoilt and overdressed Jane Williams, who probably liked herself a little too much to actually cut her weasen as she had threatened, sounded like she should have understood her situation a little more clearly than she did. She was charged with refusing to work and insolence. ‘If I was allowed to do as I though fit, and my mistress did not find fault, I dare say we might manage to get on.’ Did she not realize she was a convict? Being allowed to do what she though fit would have to involve her being free. She received a months sentence and I am sure she will not be offered any bombazeen dresses there. (Bombazeen or bombazine is a cloth usually used in mourning dresses)
Martha Ward, cruelly described as fat, not fair but forty, needed to learn to keep her mouth shut.
Daniel Mahony got 25 lashes for laziness.
Tom Bowers got a nice seat in the stocks to dry out in after getting all muddy. Not sure how public dirtiness is a crime though.
Eliza Hurley clearly used her hospital leave to go to the pub. She might have got away with it if she hadn’t demanded a ‘stiffner of brandy’ on her return.
Sitting drunk in the street singing heavy-vet (malt liquor, porter or stout) will only get you the attention of the charleys and both Easton and Merrit were given a seat in the stocks to sing themselves sober.
I am a little unsure as to why Margaret Cains was sent away for a month for dancing her Irish fling. It sounds as though the crowd were quite appreciative, and she was at a soiree after all. Perhaps her dancing wasn’t all that good.