Christmas Crime in Edinburgh.

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Christmas Crime in Edinburgh.

Post by Currie » Tue Dec 10, 2019 11:11 am

Edinburgh Evening News, Thursday, December 29, 1898.


There were 29 new prisoners brought to the bar. The charges were: Disorderly, 11; incapable, 8; furious driving, 2; loitering, 2; nuisance, 2; putting ashes on the street, 2; and keeping an improper house, and drunk in charge of a child—each one.

George Robertson, a cabman. living at 13 Wardlaw Place, pleaded guilty to having, on Tuesday, in a baker's shop at 165 Corgie Road, created a disturbance, broken a Sultana cake, and assaulted two of the occupants by kicking one and striking the other. The prosecutor stated that Robertson went into the shop the worse for drink, ordered some articles, and, when served, refused to pay for them, and then behaved as charged. Accused explained that the breaking of the cake was an accident. He was fined £1, with the option of 10 days' imprisonment.

A middle-aged lady, living in Morningside Road, and a shop-girl employed in a confectioner's shop in South College Street, were charged with, and pleaded guilty to, emptying out ashes and waste-paper on the street on the night of the 19th inst. In the first case the accused threw the ashes at midnight over the window, but explained that she was ill at the time and could not come down. They were both admonished.

Somewhat amusing evidence was led in a charge against a gentleman named Heslop, residing in Polwarth Gardens, of allowing to be at large a ferocious and vicious collie dog, a quiet-looking animal, who accompanied his master into the dock. The evidence showed that the viciousness of the dog was specially confined to fox-terriers, especially a fat one, the property of the first witness, to which he apparently entertained an undying hatred, attacking it on every opportunity. None of the witnesses would admit that their dogs—"these miserable little curs." as the defender's agent characterised them—were ever the aggressors in the almost daily fights that occurred. They were walking along like quiet, sober, respectable members of the canine tribe, when the collie jumped out and attacked them, the white of a fox-terrier's back, to all appearances, having a similar effect on the animal to that of a red rag on a bull. For the defence the owner stated that his dog was a very quiet and inoffensive one, and it was always the fox-terriers that attacked him first. Bailie Gulland ultimately continued the case for a fortnight, to allow the defender to come to some arrangement as to the restraint of his dog.

Note the charge of being drunk in charge of a child. I searched the whole of Gale’s British Library Newspapers collection for this charge and the results were as follows.
Edinburgh = 98
Dundee = 28
Aberdeen = 5
England = 15
Total = 146

There’s probably a perfectly good explanation for all that. It seems the charge, at least for the latter ones, related to a child under seven years. I guess that at age eight the child could be in charge of the drunk.

Hope that’s interesting,

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Re: Christmas Crime in Edinburgh.

Post by Rockford » Wed Dec 11, 2019 10:52 pm

Hello Alan,

I've had a couple of dodgy sultana cakes in Edinburgh with the consistency of a house brick, fair play to Mr Robertson for being able to break one, accidentally or otherwise.. :D

I also wonder what the definition of 'driving furiously' was?!

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Re: Christmas Crime in Edinburgh.

Post by Currie » Thu Dec 12, 2019 5:57 am

Hello Brian,

I don’t know what the legal definition of “furious driving” was but possibly a bit like the stage coach trying to get away from the Indians.

Seems it was worth a fine of £10 or 30 days. The Grocer in this story would have had to have sold quite a few groceries to make up for the fine, and maybe even the replacement of Muirhead's horse.

Edinburgh Evening News, Thursday, September 24, 1891
In the Sheriff Court to-day—Acting Sheriff Substitute Baxter on the bench—George Armstrong, grocer, Mid-Calder, was charged that on 30th August 1891 he did recklessly drive a horse and dogcart along the public road at Saughton Mains, whereby it came into violent collision with a horse and waggonette under the charge of Adam Muirhead, 5 William Street, Edinburgh. It was stated in evidence that Armstrong at the time of the accident was driving furiously and was not on the proper side of the road. As the consequence of the collision Muirhead's horse, which had been struck in the breast by one of the shafts of Armstrong’s machine, dropped dead. Sheriff Baxter said there was no doubt that the accused was driving to the danger of the lieges, and imposed a fine of £10, with the option of 30 days’ imprisonment.

The term “ danger of the lieges” was a new one for me and led me to “A Practical Treatise on the Criminal Law of Scotland”, published 1877. ... 22&f=false

All the best,

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Re: Christmas Crime in Edinburgh.

Post by WilmaM » Thu Dec 12, 2019 10:38 am

They were walking along like quiet, sober, respectable members of the canine tribe,
I love the turn of phrase used in the old newspapers - far cry from the mono-syllabic utterances printed now.

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Re: Christmas Crime in Edinburgh.

Post by Elwyn 1 » Thu Dec 12, 2019 9:57 pm

I think that “driving furiously” is still on the statute books. Or something similar is. In the 1960s, a friend (aged about 16) was stopped by the police. He had cycled down a hill in Glasgow at well over 30 miles an hour and had overtaken a police car which is why they had stopped him. As I understand it, in order to be charged with speeding under the Road Traffic legislation you have to be in a vehicle fitted with a speedometer. Obviously a bike doesn’t have one. So the charge for speeding on a bike or any other vehicle without a speedometer is “furious driving”. My friend was fined something like 5 shillings, and was very proud of this conviction.

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