Conisborough Inn – Treating Offences

April 1916

Mexborough Times, Saturday, May 20th 1916

Treating at a Conisborough Inn

The visit of two Mexborough police officers in plain clothes to the Castle Inn at Conisborough on April 22 led to extensive prosecutions before the West Riding Justices at Doncaster on Saturday. Brigadier General Bewicke-Copley, C.B., presided.

The licensee of the Castle inn, Thomas Nesbit, was proceeded against under the central control order (liquor traffic) by having supplied intoxicating liquor to persons other than those paying for the same.

His wife, Louisa Nesbitt, and the barman Arthur Brewster, a sewerage works Foreman, were summoned for aiding and abetting, and Samuel Ward, a navvy, Sherwood Harold Harris, miner, Henry Lucas, munitions worker, Ambrose Mangham, Paul Garmody, Samuel Patrick, John Hannan, miners, James Lambert, navvy, William Whittaker, glasshand, Caroline Knight, married woman, Rose Carrigan, widow, Benjamin Ogden, minor, of Conisbrough, were summoned for treating, and Arthur Speight, rope splicer for being treated.

Mr F.M. Farmer, from the West riding solicitors office, appeared to prosecute, and Mr W Baddiley pleaded guilty on behalf of the landlord, the landlady and Brewster. The other defendants who appeared, with the exception of Whitaker, Knight, Carrigan and Ogden, who pleaded not guilty, admitted the offence.

Mr Farmer said whatever the order had done it attempted to stop treating. Regarding one of the defendants, Speight, he had a drink at the expense of the man Whitaker. Each of the defendants, was charged with paying fordrinks for the others, and ifsummonses had been taken out for every offence committed they would have numbered 100. They had therefore contented themselves with issuing one summons against each defendant. 15 or 16 could have been issued against the landlord. On the afternoon of the date in question, two police officers in plain clothes visited the inn about 1.15. There was a number of persons present, and there was exhibited a placard containing the provisions of the order under which these proceedings were taken.

At two o’clock the defendant Speight was standing near the bar and had just finished a drink, shouted out, “I am having a drink with Bill Whitaker,” at the same time pointing to defendant Whitaker, who was at the bagatelle board at the far end of the room. He (Mr Farmer) could not conceive a more flagrant and impudent breach of the order. The landlord supplied the drink and send his waiter, Brewster to Whitaker to collect the money, which he did.

The officers visited the house again at 7:25 pm. There was a large crowd of people present. Soon after the officer arrived the defendants Ward and Lambert came in. There was a man named Knight there, a soldier, and in this case it was for the competent military authority to say whether they would deal with him, or whether they would hand him over to the police. In this case the military authority had decided to act. Knight was the husband of the female defendant. Ward was standing at the bar. Mrs Knight was sitting near, and when Ward came in he shook hands with Knight and asked him what he would have to drink, and he said he would have a pint. Ward therefore ordered two glasses of beer and a pint.

While this was going on, four other defendants were playing dominoes at the far end of the room. Hannan and Harris were playing Patrick and Mangham. The losers paid for 2 pints of beer among the four. After several games, Harris retired and Carmody took his place and the same procedure was followed.

Proceeding Mr Farmer said this conduct was not the way to win the war. They had had an absolute disregard for the order, and an illustration of the absolute need for such an order.

For the Nesbit’s and Brewster, Mr Baddiley said he did not look at the case in the serious light Mr Farmer did. There were many branches of the order and there were many offences which could be committed under it with far greater seriousness than this. Treating in public houses had existed for many years, and he was afraid all the orders in the world would not stop it. He submitted that cases of supplying drink during prohibited powers were 10 times more serious.He had gone into this case very carefullyand found that treatinghad been allowed. Mr Nesbitt had been ill; he had not been able to attend to his business as otherwise he would. He had been a licence holder for 32 years, 26 in the Doncaster division, and during all that time he had only once been before the magistrates, and that was in regard toa Sunday traveller, and ordered to pay the costs. Brewster had not much experience. Conisbrough was very busy at Easter time. Mr Nesbitt had been ill and his son also on this day was ill.

It was alright talking about winning the war, but treating people in public houses did not win or lose wars. They all wished to prevent drunkenness, but they had no evidence that a single person was the worse for drink in this house. After the punishment, Mr Nesbitt had to leave the premises, and that in itself was a serious matter.

The chairman said the law must be obeyed, and it only remained for them to see it was carried out and those who broke it be punished. It was to the credit of the establishment, as had been pointed out, that no one was worse for drink. Nesbitt would be fined £10, Mrs Nesbitt and Knight 20 shillings and the others 10 shillings.

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