Old News

A Row at

The Cricketers, St Albans

From the Herts Advertiser, 2nd August 1890


Before the Mayor (Mr. H. J. Toulmin ), Mr. S. L. Harding  and Mr. H. P. Smith .


Henry Walter Skinner , Old London Road , was summoned for being quarrelsome, and refusing to quit the Cricketers public house, on the 26th ult.

Mr Annesley, who appeared on behalf of Mr. Seabrook, the landlord, to prosecute, said that the case was one of extreme violence. He then detailed the facts of the case, and called complainant’s daughter, Mrs Austin. She said that on Saturday afternoon she was in the bar with her mother, and the defendant with another man named Roe came into the house. They were perfectly sober, and conducted themselves properly till two men drove up in a trap. Skinner began abusing the men, saying they worked under price. He called them bad names, and after exchanging high words commenced fighting with the strangers. Upon this Mrs. Seabrook and witness called on him to quit the house, but as he refused they sent for the police. In the meantime Mr. Seabrook came home, and as the men continued “rowing” and the defendant struck the stranger, he asked him to leave, and, this request not being acceded to, he endeavoured to put Skinner out. Upon this skinner caught hold of Seabrook’s neckerchief, and pulled so tight that witness and her mother thought he would strangle her father. Seeing how matters stood witness called on Roe to cut the neckerchief, which he did. Seabrook also called out “He will choke me, you must cut it.” When Seabrook was released and came into the house, his face appeared very red, and his eyes were starting out of his head. He afterwards was so bad that he had to lie down on the sofa to recover from the effects of the struggle.

By the Mayor: Defendant was not the worse for drink when he came to the house. He was excited when he tried to strangle Mr. Seabrook, but he was not drunk.

By defendant: There were three or four beanfeasters in the house at the time defendant and his companion came in. Witness did not remember seeing the beanfeasters toss for who should pay for drinks nor did she see one of them “stand treat” to defendant and his companion every time he won. One of them did, however, pay for some beer for them. Witness’s father in trying to release himself did catch hold of defendant’s neckerchief, but witness did not see him turn black in the face.

Mr Seabrook deposed that he had kept the Cricketers for over 20 years. On the day in question he returned home about 5.30, and was having his tea when he heard very foul language proceeding from the bar. He went there and saw the defendant abusing another man. The two began to quarrel, and defendant said “I’ll knock your --- head off.” When this he dealt the stranger a blow in the face, and witness thought it time to eject him. He pulled defendant away by the collar of his coat, and then Skinner turned round and caught witness by the neckerchief. He said, “I’ll choke the old ---,” and as witness was unable to get away and was being choked he called out “Cut it, cut it.” At this Roe came out of the house and cut the neckerchief.

By defendant: Witness took hold of defendant’s neckerchief but only to free himself.

Defendant: He made me cackle.

Witness continuing: He only used so much violence as was absolutely necessary to eject the man.

Defendant said that some beanfeasters who were in the house were playing “tommy doddy” – pitch and toss – as to who should pay for the beer. A man to whom the witness owed some money came in and asked for payment, and the two got to high words. Mr. Seabrook held him quite as tightly by the neck as he did Mr. Seabrook, and after the encounter he was black in the face.

He called Frank Roe, who said that he was with Skinner the whole of the time. When Mr Seabrook put him out of the house they both held each other by the neckerchief, one quite as tightly as the other..

By Mr. Annesley: Witness did not notice whether Seabrook was black in the face or not. Witness cut Mr. Seabrook’s scarf because his wife asked him. He did not hear defendant say “I’ll choke the old ---.” Defendant was perfectly sober all the time, and so was the witness. Witness did not notice two other men drive up to the house and come into the bar, but he heard Skinner say something about working under price. Mrs Seabrook asked defendant to leave the premises several times. She [?He?] did not see her send a little boy off for the police. He heard Mr. Seabrook say to the defendant that if he did not leave he would have to put him out.

Frederick Stone said he was in the house part of the time. He never heard the defendant use abusive or bad language during that time.

The Bench considered the case clearly proved, and told the defendant that he was lucky in not having to answer to a charge of assault also. If he had been charged with the offence he would certainly have been sent to prison without the option of fine. On this charge he would be fined £1 with 12s. costs and also solicitor’s fees. In default a fortnight imprisonment; a fortnight for payment allowed.

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