Trials Of Ale House Crime In Cripplesgate Without


Like so many of the digitized records related to beer and brewing through the internet available to us now, Old Bailey Proceedings Online is a fabulous resource. One of the great levelers of the beery discourse is going to be more and more access to open records so that we won’t be subject to the great man theory of beer too much longer. The down side is that the mass of data is going to require a careful eye aware of greater context as well as the skill sets required to receive the information in itself. This post over at The Many Headed Monstergive us a taste. So, it’s just clean fun to come across a data set that one can really get one’s teeth into given the career path to date. What am I talking about? I am talking crime. Crime like this evidence from a case from 1780 in which the evidence of Cornelius Murphy was received:

I kept a public-house in Golden-lane . On the 7th of June, between six and seven o’clock, a great mob surrounded my house, some with swords and some with bludgeons. They came into the tap-room and had what liquor they wanted. They examined my books and were going off satisfied.

Was the prisoner among the mob? – “Not at that time. After giving three huzza’s in the house they went down the street some way. One Clark and his wife called the mob back, and said I was a Papist, and they must down with my house. The mob returned immediately, and began pulling down the house.

When did you see the prisoner? – “About half an hour after they began he was in the bar, drawing the liquor and drinking it.

Had you ever seen the prisoner before? – “Yes; he had been several times at my house; I am positive he is the man.

Did you see him do any thing else? – “I saw him break part of the bar down.

What was the rest of the mob doing? – “Pulling down the house and drinking the liquor.

Court. Whether the mob were pulling down the house during that hour in which you say the prisoner was in it? – “Yes, they were.

Be particular in describing what they did to the house, the wainscoting, and window frames? – “They had iron crows beating them down.

Excellent. An anti-Papist crowd rips apart a public house and someone gets nabbed. The funniest thing is apparently the particular accused was sent into the riot to save the spirits, the hard liquor from being part of the bust up – by the distiller who sold it to the place. The guy got off because he was folloing his boss’s orders: “he desired some of our men might go and assist him to get his liquor from the bar.” Not sure I’ve seen “bar” used for a public house that early but someone will correct me, will be better informed.

That’s what was going on on Golden Lane on one nutty day about 27 years before the image up there of the Golden Lane Brewery was created. You will recall Golden Lane and its ties to hundreds of years of perhaps unremarkable brewing history. It appears to also have associations with hundreds of years of drinks, ale and brewing related crime, too. What else went on there?

• A few generations earlier, one Joseph Towle, was tried for theft on October 10, 1694: “Joseph Towle was Tried for stealing 3 l. in Money, from William Underhill Esq ; at the Three Arrows Brewhouse in Golden-Lane ; the Prisoner was seen to come out of the Counting house, (being Cooper to the Brewhouse) and afterwards the Drawers were found open, and the Money gone; and he being strictly examin’d about it, confest.” Sticky fingered coopers. How often do you see that? He pleaded that he was drunk but was sentenced to a good hand branding anyway.

• Martha Purdew , of St. Giles without Cripplegate was sentenced to death in 1720 for stealing a money bag off someone who offered her a lift en route to Islington when they stopped for a dram of brandy.

• In 1726, Albertus Burnaby, a brewer who formerly lived on Golden Lane was brought before the court to explain himself for defrauding his creditors while being a bankrupt. He was acquitted for a lack of evidence.

• In 1752, Thomas Barnes was sentenced to transportation for stealing a silver tankard while at a public house on Golden Lane: “On the 26th of December, about three o’clock in the morning, two men came in and called for three pints of beer: before the boy could get down into the cellar, one of the men said, I am surprized to see you so dilatory, to be up yourself and have your cellar window open, than opens in the street: immediately the boy, in the cellar called out Aunt! Aunt! here is a thief in the cellar. I ran down, saw the prisoner at the bar, with a silver tankard in his hand…

• One more. In 1766, Sarah Stanley was sentenced to death for stealing money from her employer, the keeper of a public house. When confronted, a scene ensued: “She equivocated a great deal, and said she knew nothing of it; at last she said, they were at the foot of the bridge; in going, they met them both together accidentally by Cripplegate church; I was not there. They went in at the Ship-ale-house, in Whitecross-street, and I and the constable were sent for. The father used me there in a very abrupt manner; he pushed me down flat on my face, and threw beer over me and another…

It’s all so fabulous. In that last case, the details include one drinker testifying that “I had a pint of beer; I said to the girl, put a bit of toast in it…” while the tavern keeper cried out in despair “I am ruined, I am robbed of all I got; it is not mine, it is the brewer’s money“. Hints about serving options and the business of running a tavern all hidden in the sad tale of the thieving serving lass who met her death. Not to mention the glamorous testimony “I felt a knob in his fob.” Fun stuff. A great source of 18th century low life and public house manners – not to mention Stuart and Georgian sentencing horrors. The otherness of the past laid plain before you.

Image #1 for Note #5 below in the first comment:









One thought on “Trials Of Ale House Crime In Cripplesgate Without”

  1. Original blog comments:

    Martyn Cornell – June 21, 2015 2:02 PM
    “Not sure I’ve seen “bar” used for a public house that early” – I suspect the meaning here is the private room behind the actual public serving hatch, later known as the bar parlour – it would be where the spirits would be stored.

    The “toast” mentioned, of course would have been spiced, just to help flavour up the ale.

    Alan – June 21, 2015 10:59 PM
    Note #1: (1720) Three Arrows Brewhouse – Near to Sun Court, Golden Lane, in Cripplegate Ward Without (Strype, ed. 1720, I. iii. 93):

    Note #2: (1758) Sun Court – East out of Golden Lane at No. 14, in Cripplegate Ward Without, adjoining the City Mortuary (P.O. Directory). First mention: O. and M. 1677. Perhaps Sun Alley:

    Note #3: (1810) Sun Court and Sun Alley likely same thing leading to Red Lion Market:

    Note #4: The London Genuine Beer Brewery (also known as the Golden Lane Brewery of Barbican) was founded in 1804 by William Brown and Joseph Parry when they took over the existing Combrune’s Brewhouse. The latter was a small brewery, with a history going back to at least 1792. In the year 1800, the Combrune family business produced 18,000 barrels of ale. This was only a small part of the total production of all 127 London common brewers: 17,780,000 barrels (of which 75% was strong beer and 25% weak beer):

    Note #5: Notice how southern arm of Golden Lane Brewery in the 1827 map sits on north side of lane running east to Red Lion Market. Notice how that section of the brewery in the illustration above is smaller than balance of facility. Is that Combrune’s Brewhouse? Is that also site of Three Arrows Brewhouse? See annotated version of 1827 map:

    Martyn Cornell – June 22, 2015 8:56 AM
    The brewery was actually pulled down in 1826 after its business model – selling cheap to publican shareholoders – finally collapsed. See the extensive commentary In Peter Mathias “The Brewing Industry in England 1700-1830”.

    Alan – June 22, 2015 11:58 AM
    I have seen snippets of that book when I was looking at the joint stock company post a couple of weeks ago. “Pulling down” is a drastic thing. Working in build heritage here as a municipal lawyer one thing we have seen is that buildings considered gone are often reused, partially retained as a means to save resources. I have seen a 1780-90s basement holding up an 1816 new construction. Found an 1880s basement unexpectedly under a 1930s building unexpectedly within a 1970s construction. I do see that the City morgue goes in off Sun Alley in 1880. So what was going on in the spot from 1826 to 1880. You don’t pull down a building – and a relatively new one – if you don’t have a greater money making scheme.

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