Friday, 13 February 2009

Villagers act on careless drivers

We're all familiar with the collective efforts of small villages to preserve their amenity against the efforts of careless drivers; the locally-made signs, and the sense that the curtains are twitching to note down the registrations of offending vehicles. It seems this is not a recent phenomenon. From the pages of the Ipswich Journal of 19th February 1803:
Last week the following persons were convicted in the penalty of 10s. each, before the Rev Fran. Capper, one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for this county, viz. James Holmes servant to Rich. More of Bedingfield, for misbehaviour in the King's highway in the parish of Easton, on Wednesday se'nnight, being in liquor, and more than 100 yards behind his waggon, drawn by 5 horses. Jonathan Shelver, servant to Barnaby Shelver, of Rishangles, for misbehaviour in the above parish, by driving a waggon with 4 or 5 horses on the same day, and walking at a considerable distance from them. Wm. Ward, servant to John Whitmore of Bedfield, for being asleep in his master's waggon, on the same day and in the above parish, and of course had no rein or reins in his hands whereby he could guide his horses. John Whistlecraft, servant to Nath. Welton of Bedfield, for driving a waggon on the same day with 5 horses in it, in the parish of Easton, and sitting in the buck of it, without any rein or reins in his hands. Robt Hawes, servant to Sam. Malster of Horham, for a similar offence in the parish of Kettleburgh. We understand the inhabitants of the several parishes of Earl Soham, Brandeston, Kettleburgh and Easton, have agreed to use every means in their power, to bring to punishment all such offenders on the King's highway, when and where-ever they shall meet with them.
I love the image of the horses, knowing exactly the route home to their stable, plodding along unguided with the drunken carter staggering along the road behind them.


an ex-apprentice said...

Today, of course, the good citizens of those several parishes would be too frit to intervene for fear of a trip to the cells themselves.

Technology aside, have we advanced as a civilisation?

John Page said...

"Jonathan Shelver, servant to Barnaby Shelver" - sounds like an interesting family.

Anonymous said...

Not confined to the days of yore.

In Bradford in the 1960s - there was a pub called the Blue Ball which on a Friday was the meeting place of the city's "totters"

On frequent occasions these worthies were admonished for sleeping on their carts while the trusty steed plodded home without human guidance.

On one occasion a vigorous debate in the pub resulted in a Ben Hur style race around the streets of the city centre. This resulted in several of the competitors appearing before the local magistrates on charges of "furious driving" - doubtless a novel experience for all concerned.

Happy days - when life had a little more colour - and health and safety inspectors knew their place.