Nine pennyworth of rum on a cold morning

Hertfordshire Advertiser, 20th January 1917



Woman of 72 Charged


An aged Harpenden woman, Elizabeth Crawley (72) was summoned before the County Magistrates at St Albans on Saturday (Alderman S Ryder in the Chair) with having been drunk at Harpenden on Boxing Day. Defendant, who is very deaf, admitted the offence.

Pc Dowty, Harpenden, said he was in High Street on December 26th at ten minutes past one o’clock, when he saw defendant leave the Cock Public House. She pulled the door behind her but when she released her hold of the handle she staggered across the footway and fell into the gutter. She was unable to stand without assistance and smelt strongly of drink, and from her general manner witness came to the conclusion that she was drunk.

Defendant handed in a letter expressing sorrow and stating that it would not happen again. She stated that she went into the village and feeling very cold she went into the public house for some rum and had three pennyworth. As soon as she got into the open air it overcame her. Defendant in conclusion, stated in her letter that she was over seventy, that before this she had been a teetotaler for nearly ten years and that she felt very much ashamed of what she had done.

Supt Peck said there were nine previous convictions for drunkenness  and in 1907 defendant was sent to an inebriates home for three years. Her last conviction was in 1910

Mr Mundin, police court missionary, said he had been trying to help defendant for a great number of years. When she came out of the inebriates home she got into trouble the same day, but there had never been any trouble with her since then. Some ladies in Harpenden had interested themselves in her and a lady, now in Court, was very anxious that defendant should have the benefit of all the leniency their Worships could give her.

Miss Mabel Bates, St Michael’s, Harpenden, said that for some years defendant had been leading a very respectable life and she thought she really intended to keep straight. She was working for witness now and was a good worker.

The Chairman said that under the circumstances the Bench would give defendant another chance and dismiss the case.


George Gillham, the Cock Public House, Harpenden, was then summoned for permitting drunkenness on his licensed premises and was defended by Mr Stanley M Robinson, St Albans.

Pc Dowty repeated the evidence he gave in the previous case, and said he asked defendant if he had served her with any drink. Defendant replied that she came in shivering with cold and that he served her with three pennyworth of rum. He said he then left the bar and when he returned she had gone.

Cross-examined: It was a very cold morning. There was ice on the ground in some places, but it was thawing. The doorstep was an ordinary one; it was five inches high but it was not slippery.

Mr Robinson argued that the woman had slipped on the frozen ground and that the only evidence the Constable had of drunkenness was that the woman smelled of drink.

Witness replied that defendant’s legs were absolutely useless when she left the public house.

The Magistrates’ Clerk (Mr A Rowden) asked Mr Robinson whether he was defending the woman, in view of of the admission in the previous case.

Mr Robinson : No but I should like to have defended her – Mr Robinson added that his impression was that the woman wasn’t drunk at all.

Witness, replying to Mr Partridge Smith, said he had no idea how long the woman had been in the public house.

Mr Harry Valentine, Harpenden, said the woman had just got on to the step when she immediately collapsed and fell into the gutter. There was very little doubt that she was drunk.

Mr Robinson : Why do you say she was drunk ?

Witness: Because she could not stand.

Mr Robinson: would that not happen to any other woman of 73 after she had fallen ?

Witness said he did not know – in reply to the Bench, witness said he would swear that the woman was drunk.

By the Mayor : She did not strike her head, she rolled over into the gutter.

Supt Peck was about to call the previous defendant, when Mr Robinson objected, as did some of the Magistrates – Supt Peck said he had proposed to call the woman to state where she had obtained the drink that made her drunk.

Mr G E Marten : You are charging defendant with permitting drunkenness.

Mr Robinson : We are not charged with serving drink.

Supt Peck: If the Bench object to her going into the box, of course I can go no further.

The Chairman: The bench have decided to stop the case.

This page was added on 18/07/2014.

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