Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

1883 and all that

From the Bristol Mercury, 12th May 1883 . Printed here because I'm indebted to Robert Rogers, the 'villain' of the first case . Not that he'd ever have known it of course.

In 1883 Robert Rogers was just 31 years old, and anything but wealthy. But he carried the can for the others, and paid the very heavy fine imposed for illegally moving cattle across the city boundary into the fields south of Bedminster (perhaps even the Ashton Vale TG site?).

We know that he died eight years later in the general hospital, of heart failure; family legend has it that he had been gored by a bull. We know that he was buried in an unmarked grave in the paupers' plot at Arnos Vale, presumably at civic expense, leaving a widow and a two-year old daughter. And we know that Mrs StockwoodPete owes her being to the three of them!

Then, as now, cattle movements did need to be regulated; the coming of railways must have encouraged a surge in shifting the animals to distant markets, heightening the risk of fast spreading virulent disease, while reducing the work available for the drovers who used to drive the beasts across the country. But a 45/- fine?

But the pages of newspapers – even the same short article - are full of heavy court sentences for the most minor of crimes. A ten year old birched for his part in the theft of oranges.... others fined 3/9d (or 7 days inside) for taking rhubarb. Along with reports of industrial accidents and fatalities, not to mention the most lurid of crimes, these old papers make compulsive reading. This one was found through – but they can also be read for nothing in the central reference library!

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