Great Britain. Court of Quarter Sessions of the Pe.

Middlesex county records. Calendar of the sessions books, 1689 to 1709 online

. (page 2 of 49)
Online LibraryGreat Britain. Court of Quarter Sessions of the PeMiddlesex county records. Calendar of the sessions books, 1689 to 1709 → online text (page 2 of 49)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

given point to another ; the locality selected had, no doubt, some
special applicability to the culprit's offence.

A somewhat remarkable punishment was inflicted by the Bench
in 1704 on Elizabeth Staines, the wife of a coachman, who pleaded
guilty of an assault on Mr. John Howard. The Court ordered her
" to make a submissive and public acknowledgment of the said offence
in the open market at Brentford, where she gave the abuse to the
said Mr. Howard, and to ask his pardon there, which Mr. Howard is
willing to accept in regard to the poverty of John Staines, the
husband " (p. 275).

With regard to the condition of the prisons wholly in the
possession of the county, or those to which county prisoners were
committed, we learn a good deal from the present calendar. At

xiv Preface.

Newgate the state of affairs was abominable, and in 1702 the debtors
set forth, in a petition to the Bench, the miseries and ill-treatment
they suffered (pp. 244 and 245). The report of the Magistrates
appointed to enquire into the matter shows that the petitioners' story
was correct, and a series of regulations were drawn up for the better
government of the prison (pp. 247, 248). Had these been carried
out, the sufferings of the prisoners would have been alleviated, but
they were not. A second appeal was made to the Bench in 1707,
in which it was shown that the previous order of the Court had not
been observed (p. 317). This further petition was referred to certain
Justices for report, and their report, when received, was laid before the
Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Sheriffs of London (p. 320), and this
is the last we hear of the matter in the present volume.

One of the great abuses in Newgate seems to have been the
extortion of "garnish" money, which if prisoners — were they male
or female — could not, or would not, pay, led to stripping, beating,
and confinement in a dungeon known as " Tangier."

The House of Correction at Clerkenwell was a building near the
New Prison, erected at the cost of the county (pp. 2-3). The inmates
of this house complained, in 1698, that, by reason of the small
quantity of food allowed, two of their number had " been starv^ed to
death " ; and they also complained of being detained as prisoners,
after the expiry of their terms of imprisonment, for refusing to pay
fees which could not be legally demanded. The matter was referred
to certain Justices, who reported, giving instances of the detention
as to which complaint was made, and stating that " when Captain
Jones was keeper the prisoners had flesh on Mondays and Thursdays,
and about a pennyworth of bread a day, and also meal pottage,
water gruel, or pease pottage every day." This dietary was at first
followed by the then keeper, but he had reduced the allow-
ance of meat to one day a week, though he had lately — probably
on knowledge of the enquiry — returned to the former allowance
(p. 191). But, as at Newgate, so at the House of Correction, things
drifted back when the keeper thought it safe to return to his evil
ways. In 1709 the Justices had before them a complaint from the
inmates of the House of Correction who had suffered greatly "during

Preface, xv

the late hard frost," and six of them had nearly died of starv^ation
(p. 342). Their neighbours in the New Prison also complained, in
the same year, of the exactions of the keeper (p. 345), who had not
allowed prisoners to buy any food except through him, and who had
extorted {^Qi, above those authorised by law (p. 347). He was
dismissed and a new keeper appointed.

In 1705 we have reference to the fact that a prisoner in the
Marshalsea had been almost starved to death, and had been so
weakened by his confinement there that he was incapacitated from
thereafter earning his own livelihood (p. 281).

It is probable that much of the evil in the administration of
prisons arose from the fact that the keepers, in effect, "farmed"
these prisons of the county. In 1690 the keeper of the New Prison
complained of the great diminution in his perquisites, and of his
consequent inability to answer his rent, by reason of the numerous
commitments to other prisons in the county, " proper only for the
detention of debtors " (p. 4).

The question of licensing was one which occupied a considerable
amount of the Justices' attention at the period covered by this
volume of the calendar, and the difficulties in regard to it experienced
by the Middlesex Justices at the time of William III and Queen
Anne will doubtless be appreciated by their successors of the present
day. Licenses — we are speaking, of course, of alehouse or tavern
keepers' licenses —were, as a rule, suppressed (in two instances, only
for a limited period) for ill-rule, for allowing " tippling" at unreason-
able hours, or for permitting it on '" the Lord's Day," during the
hours of Divine service. Various devices were practised by the
owners of such houses to defeat the operation of the law, and it was
no uncommon occurrence for an individual whose license had been
suppressed to obtain surreptitiously, or " by surprize," a renewal of
that license from a Magistrate in some distant part of the county.
Thomas Charlesworth, of Leman Street, Whitechapel, whose license
had been suppressed and renewed under these circumstances, had
the temerity to put over his sign this couplet : —

" Here I doe dwell in my own defence,

Noe rogues nor knaves shall ever drive me hence."

xvi Preface.

The Justices, as a whole, naturally regarded the expression
" rogues or knaves " as intended to apply to themselves, and ordered!
the inscription to be obliterated, and, if not done, the license
was to be recalled (p. 340). This order shows a remarkable
moderation on the part of the Bench, and a further illustration of
the liberal spirit in which that body acted in regard to the suppression
of licenses is furnished by the fact that in those cases where the
Magistrates felt in duty bound to order the suppression of a license,,
such suppression was not to take effect till the alehouse-keeper had
had sufficient time to draw off the stock of liquor he had laid in.

Some of the special reasons given for the suppression of licenses-
are interesting. Thus, in 1692, those of some dozen persons,,
who were the sheriff's bailiffs, were suppressed, when it was found
that their abodes were " common spunging houses," in which they
detained their prisoners several days contrary to law (p. 85). In
1703 the license of the King's Head, in Albemarle Street, was, on
the vote of the majority of the Magistrates, suppressed, on the
charge, primarily, that the owner had refused entertainment to a
soldier billeted on him (p. 260).

The number of alehouses throughout the county was a matter
of evident concern to the Justices, and we find that, in 1695, an applica-
tion for a new license in Hoxton was refused on account of the great
number of licensed houses already established there. The house in
question had " never before been used as a victualling house, but
always inhabited " by " citizens of good worth, or gentlemen " (p. 132).

We do not know how far the " music house" was equivalent to
the modern music hall, but it was certainly, at the period of the
calendar, combined, as a rule, with the alehouse, and evidently not
regarded with much favour by the Justices. In 1693 the license of a
victualler, who kept a disorderly " ale and music house " near Lamb's
Conduit Fields, was ordered to be suppressed (p. 96). There is a
note, under the date 1701, that the Mitre Music House is to be
indicted (p. 235), and a little earlier in the same year the con-
stables had been directed to be very diligent in the search for
those who kept, and those who haunted, disorderly houses, " particu-
larly music hcuscs, which tend only to the debauching of persons.

Preface. xvii

frequenting them " (p. 226). Lastly, in April, 1702 (p. 241), comes
the drastic order that no music houses be licensed !

The due observance of Sunday was also a subject in which the
Bench took an evident interest. Stimulated by the Queen's letter
on the subject, written in July, 1691, the Magistrates ordered that
there be printed and affixed to the great gates of Hicks Hall, and to
the doors of all churches and " other public places " in every parish,
a special notice against " all prophanation of the Lord's Day, by
people travelling, selling or exposing anything to sale by exercise of
their ordinary callings thereon, or by using any other vain imploy-
ments or sports, and especially by tipling thereon, or on any part
thereof, and neglecting the worship and service of God, and also
against the odious and loathsome sin of drunkennesse, and against all
houses of debauchery and evill fame " (p. 49).

Not all that was hoped of it, came of this proclamation — if we
may term it so : " the rash and unadvised actings " of several persons,
" pretending great zeal," had resulted in the issue of the illegal
and irregular convictions of "a multitude of innocent persons" for
exercising their ordinary calling on the Lord's Day, without their
being even summoned, or afforded an opportunity of explanation,
whereby it might have appeared whether what they had done were
" works of charity or necessity." To remedy this, " and to the end so
religious an intention may not miscarry," the Court, in January, 1692^
declared that no conviction should be made before a warrant or
summons from a Justice of the Peace had been served on an accused
person, which summons would be delivered free to any person
requiring the same ; and further, for the better encouragement of
parish officers in searching for and observing profanations of the
Lord's Day, the Justices gave notice that, on request from any
such officer to a Justice resident in his parish, such Justice would go
with him " in person " and search the suspected house. Informers
were promised encouragement, and every alehouse-keeper duly
convicted was not only to forfeit los., but also to have his license
suppressed for three years (pp. 64, 65). We do not hear again of the
matter till February, 1698, when "victuallers, innholders, coffee-
sellers, vintners, brandy -sellers, &c.," were directed to forbear


xviii Preface.

entertaining company on the Lord's Day, " excepting those persons
allowed bylaw"; and " butchers, poulterers, fruiterers, barbers, and
other persons " were forbidden to expose any of their goods for sale
" on Sunday next or on any Sunday following." The King's
proclamation against swearing and immorality was recited, special
diligence being ordered in the search for offenders against it,
" particularly on the Lord's Day " (p. i8i).

In the following February we find a direction for putting into
execution the orders made for the better observance of the Lord's Day
(p. 195) ; and then, in the next year (1700), attention was drawn to the
general observance of Sunday throughout the county. The Court held
that churchwardens and other parish officers were very remiss in
putting into execution the laws respecting profanation of the Lord's
Day, and ordered all persons concerned to be more diligent in that
respect. Attention was also called to idle persons who " go about
in the footpaths and public streets .... with wheelbarrows,
wherein they carry oranges, apples, nuts, and other wares, and
expose them to sale, and carry and use dice to encourage passengers
and others to play for such their goods, and other unlawful games."
Further attention was directed to disorderly persons, both men and
women, who wandered about " singing and publishing obscene ballads
and other licentious books and pamphlets, drawing crowds of people,
and which are the occasion of picking of pockets, affrays, and riots,
disturbing the peace, and corrupting of youth." The summary
arrest of all such persons was enjoined (p. 218).

After the accession of Queen Anne we find a special order for
putting into force the laws " for the observance of the Lord's Day
in accordance with her majesty's proclamation " (pp. 237 and 240).

Pressing for the army and navy was evidently being carried out
with vigour during the years covered by the calendar, the wars
in which both William III and Anne were engaged, necessitating an
active replenishment of the depleted forces. In January, 1705, the
Privy Council requested the Justices to assist in raising recruits
(p. 279}, and in the April following a certain number of Justices sat
daily in St. Martin's Vestry to carry out the provisions of the
Recruiting Act (p. 283). Again, at the close of that year, the Council

Preface. xix

recommended to the Justices the "vigorous execution " of the Act
for raising recruits for the land forces and marines in order to enable
the Government "early to enter upon action next spring" (p. 293).
A similar application was made by the Council at the close of the
following year (p. 307).

In the spring of 1708 a reward of 2Q)S. was offered by the
Government to any parish officer who should bring a person before
the Magistrates to be enlisted ; and the ranks of the army were also
to be filled up by volunteers. Every person who voluntarily entered
the service was to receive a gratuity of £^, and to have his discharge
at the end of three years if he should desire it (p. 324).

In February, 1695, the Court directed the release of a person
who had been forced by Captain Edward Taylor " to take 12 pence for
enlisting as a soldier ": it held that the recruit had been " oppressed,"
and that, not being qualified as a seaman, he ought not to be
impressed as a soldier (p. 128;. Again, in 1704, the Court prayed
the release of the son of " a gentleman of above ;^500 a year," who
had apparently been enlisted — partly, perhaps, as a joke — by an
over-zealous lieutenant in the Welsh Fusiliers, with whom he had
been drinking (p. 268).

Another recruiting ground for both services was the debtors'
prison. An insolvent debtor, owing less than i^ioo, might obtain his
release on enlisting (p. 269). If his debt were over that amount his
request to be discharged to the army or navy was refused (p. 277). A
sheriffs officer, who had refused to release from prison a debtor willing
to enter the service, was fined £\o, but the fine was remitted on it
being shown that the application had not been made in form (pp. 282
and 284). Not only debtors were allowed to terminate their
imprisonment by enlistment ; Robert Dale, who in 1696 was "con-
victed of a trespass and false imprisonment," was, after being pilloried,
sentenced to a month's imprisonment in the New Prison, unless he
should in the meantime " voluntarily list himself as a soldier " (p. 151).

The vexed question of billeting or quartering occupied a good
deal of the Justices' attention. In January, 1690, they, in accordance
with the Act of Parliament, settled the prices which soldiers should
pay to the owners of inns, livery stables, and alehouses for their diet

XX Preface.

and the baiting of their horses ; and the chief constables were there-
upon ordered to furnish the Magistrates with the names of all those
who were liable to quarter soldiers, with an exact account of the
number, both horse and foot, which each house was capable of
receiving. The Magistrates further ordered that such officers as were
obliged to provide soldiers' quarters should, in the first place, assign
such quarters to the houses most fit for their reception, in proportion
with " other of less receipt, having a consideration of those persons
who keep houses liable by the said Act to quarter soldiers who are
poor and not able to provide beds for their accommodation" (p. 4).

In October, 1697, on the expected return of the Horse Guards
and other troops from Flanders, who were to be accommodated in
and about London, the Magistrates ordered the constables to make
lists of suitable inns and livery stables (p. 175).

The actual charges allowed by the Magistrates to be made by
innkeepers in respect of quarter, were settled in Aprils 1702. and
were as follows : — For a commissioned officer of horse, under the
degree of captain, for diet and small beer, 2/- a day ; for an officer
of dragoons, under the degree of captain, diet, small beer, and hay
and straw for his horse, i/- a day; for a commissioned officer on
foot, under the degree of captain, for diet and small beer, i/- a day ;
if the officer has a horse or horses, for each horse 6d. a day ; for a
light horseman's diet, small beer, and hay and straw for his horse,
I/- a day ; for a dragoon's diet, small beer, and hay and straw for his
horse, 9^. a day ; for a foot soldier, diet and small beer, 4

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Court of Quarter Sessions of the PeMiddlesex county records. Calendar of the sessions books, 1689 to 1709 → online text (page 2 of 49)