Monday, July 31, 2017

The butchers of Syston (part two)

Image copyright the British Library Board.
Reproduced by kind permission of FindMyPast
This is the second part of the story about the family of Elizabeth Toon and her husband, William Holyland. (If you didn't read The butchers of Syston (part one), click here.)

The first sign that things are amiss are newspaper reports from 1842.

The Leicester Chronicle, 17th September, 1842, says that William Holyland, of Syston, was convicted at the Loughborough Petty Sessions court for assaulting Thomas Carte, also of Syston, on 6th of September 1842. He was fined 5s plus costs.

And according to both the Leicestershire Mercury and the Leicester Chronicle, earlier the same year, on March 5th, 1842, William Holyland was in court. He was charged with damaging a cart, which was the property of a Mr. Johnson, Ironmonger, of Cheapside, Leicester. However, it wasn't William who was driving, it was his servant, Joseph Green, and the cart belonged to a Mr. Bevans. Mr Johnson wasn't driving his cart, either: it was his servant, William Clarke, who was driving on the Melton Road between Thurmaston and Barkby when the collision happened. William Clarke told the court that the defendants were apparently drunk, and "were shouting and making a great noise". The defendant (not sure if at this point, the defendant is William Holyland or Joseph Green) said that their horse "ran away", and when they came upon the cart driven by Mr Johnson's servant, it was on the wrong side of the road.

It sounds like the court that day was an interesting place to be, because first there was confusion over who was driving and should be charged, and then, when Johnson and Green were asked to settle the matter amicably, they "seemed unable to do satisfactorily" and the case had to be left to stand over for a "short time".

The Leicester Chronicle commented: "... nor is it (we understand) the first time Mr Holyland's cart has come in contact with others". Though they might have been mixing-up their Holylands.

William's older brother, Thomas (born in 1810) was also having trouble driving his cart. Thomas was a man of many trades; a "higgler" (peddlar or seller of many things); a coal merchant (1841 census)... and yes, in 1851, he lists his trade as a butcher! (Later he moves to Derbyshire and works as a carter, so I have to check on his driving record there, too). The Leicestershire Mercury reported that on February 24th, 1842, a Thomas Holyland and a John Clarke were charged with driving on the wrong side of the road and crashing into a cart driven by Stephen Smith of Quorndon... and not staying to see if they could help when the cart went into the ditch and broke, and the horse ended up on her back. Leaving the scene of an accident, 1840's-style. But the night was very dark, a passenger in the "drug" driven by John Clarke says that he hardly felt a thing, a witness said that Stephen Smith was driving very fast... and after a lot of discussion about the fairness of fines, Thomas Holyland (who was not driving) was discharged, and John Clarke fined 40 shillings (two pounds). (A drug was pulled by two horses, who were guided by reins--much faster than a cart pulled by one horse alone.)

The Leicester Chronicle reports on June 25th 1842, that Thomas Holyland, higgler, of Syston, was charged by the Belgrave constable, a Mr Fielding, of trying to evade a toll payment. He said that Thomas Holyland had altered a turnpike ticket with the intent of avoiding the payment at Thurmaston Gate. Thomas was fined one pound--so it was four times more expensive to avoid a toll payment, than for William Holyland to assault Thomas Carte!

Leicester Chronicle, 4th October 1845.
Image copyright the British Library Board.
Reproduced with kind permission of FindMyPast
William continued to be pulled before the courts; on 29th September 1845, it was before the Mayor of Leicester (probably a magistrate's court), where he was charged with assaulting William Coley the previous Saturday afternoon, in Leicester market place, and then also a police officer, P.S. Sheffield. (William often had a stall on Leicester market.) The assault involved tripping Coley up, and ripping his clothes. P.S. Sheffield said that William had been "drunk all day" and had been disturbing the market. And the bruise on the defendant's head had been caused by P. C. Neale who had been trying to stop William from hitting out. In his defence, William had been serving with the Yeomanry all week, had been drinking too much to celebrate overnight to Saturday, and had tripped Mr Coley up as a joke. William was fined 10 shillings, with his defender hoping that the injuries William had received at the hands of the police were taken into account.

So... we have a history of assault charges, and of public drunkenness. Things come to a head in 1845. That will be Part Three of this story!

References: Newspaper archives, copyright the British Library Board, published through 

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