Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Crieff Crimes of Yesteryear !



Nowadays  citizens of Crieff and indeed the whole country are confronted  by a raft of legislation  concerning the family car ! The punishment  for contravening  the laws  are  extensive and quite draconian . Private car parks , parking meters , average speed cameras , lines  on the road , traffic  wardens  (aka blue meenies !! ) and so on and so on !
In days  gone by , long before Mr Daimler  had invented  the four wheel metal  box , crimes  were of a different nature and indeed  a different scale of punishment . I have  had  a look through the archives  pertaining to the town in the 18th and 19th centuries  and judge  for  yourself  whether a £60 parking  fine is  more tolerable than some of the felonies  listed below !

In 1770, Andrew Wilson from Aberfoyle  and Janet Graeme his wife were tried at Perth Circuit Court for breaking into the Waulk Mill at Monzie and stealing there from two pieces of cloth . They were found guilty and banished to the Plantations ( America ) for life .
In June 1776 John Fisher alias Anderson from Alloa was found guilty of shop breaking in Crieff and condemned to be hung at Perth. He was hanged on the 24th July .

At Edinburgh on the 19th February 1781 , James Maxtone , stocking maker , James Fisher and David Campbell his apprentices , James Fisher , apprentice to William Key, weaver , all of Crieff, and William Ross, day labourer , Pittenzie , Crieff, were indicted at the instance of the King's Advocate for having on the evening of 16th December 1780 , assembled  with other associates in a riotous and tumultuous mob , and broken into the dwelling house of William MacLellan, meal seller, Crieff, and assaulted his person , dragged him violently out of his house , put him upon a cart , carried him in that manner throughout the streets , and then along the highway to the River Earn , where they threw him in with the cart above him, where he was almost drowned . After a searching trial , the jury found the libel not proven against Maxtone and Fisher , his apprentice ; but found unanimously against the other Fisher , Campbell and Ross. By a plurality of voices Fisher and Campbell were recommended to the mercy of the Court on account of their youth. It appears that Campbell went into the water and rescued MacLellan when he was almost drowned. He was dismissed with an admonition , and Ross was  kept in Edinburgh Prison till 18th April and then sent to Perth prison , and  whipped publicly the first market day through the streets and set at liberty and then to leave Scotland within twenty days never to return . Fisher was sentenced to 5 months imprisonment and Campbell to three months, and afterwards to find caution to keep the peace for 12 months under a penalty of 308 Merks Scots each. There were great meal riots about that period in Perthshire, and Church Officers were enjoined to ring the church bells on the appearance of any mob. On this signal the lieges were commanded to repair to the churches on horse and foot, and armed as best they could to get instructions for further action.

In the 18th century, the County Justices had great power and their proceedings were viewed with awe by the populace. With the exception of capital offences, all manner of cases were brought up at their Courts. According to reports, a Justice would sometimes sit on his own case. Frequent ludicrous cases were tried, and amused both judge and audience .Amongst them was a case of a man from Muthill who had struck his wife. The Bench rebuked him for his action. He answered that he considered a weaver had as much right to thrash his wife as any other body. So much for 18th century sex equality!

Another case was that of two Gallowhill weavers. One had a game cock and the other a pig. The cock had gone into the piggery and was picking away when the pig opening his mouth caught the cock’s head and neck and tried to swallow them. But the body of the cock could not get in and after a short struggle the cock ceased to flap its wings and the pig got choked. The owner of the pig sued the owner of the cock for damages and vice versa. The Justices enjoyed the trial and in the end decided that the piggery was the domain of the pig and that the cock had no right to enter therein without authority. Had a pig intruded into the hen coop and the cock swallowed the pig, it would have been different. Judgement was given in favour of the owner of the pig.     

Maybe a £ 60 ticket aint that bad after all ! 

3 comments:

  1. An amusing and interesting read. Thanks Caledoncol :)

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  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. Wow. Though a mere drop in the ocean.I imagine a white Scotsman being ostracized to be experimented upon by all kinds of demented police doctors and their accomplices in the remotest parts of scotland, only to, when he thought his punishment through, find himself shipped to south america where on arrival he is led as a black man to a tree to be hung UNtil dead.

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