Marching orders, Christmas 1910

Photo:Leaving the workhouse (now Brighton General Hospital)

Leaving the workhouse (now Brighton General Hospital)

Drawing by David Sawyer, North Laine resident

Frederick Voice arrested in a North Road pub

“I’m guilty of stealing the boots, but I’m wearing my own regimentals”, pleaded Frederick Voice, aged 58.

Absconded from the workhouse

Charged before Brighton magistrates in December 1910 with absconding from the workhouse with a suit and boots worth £1, the prisoner agreed that he had left the institution without giving 168 hours notice.

Arrested in North Road

Voice was arrested in a public house in North Road, where he said a Good Samaritan had given him a penny for tobacco, after which he had ‘fallen in’ with a wedding party, which had kindly given him ‘a tonic or two’. He told the bench that someone had stolen his workhouse boots. As for the 168 hours notice, this was a burden on the rates.

Give a man a chance...

“If I do 14 days in prison”, he told the magistrates, “I don’t have to give notice to leave. Why don’t they bring in an Act to make it 24 hours notice and give a man a chance?”

Prisoner had 49 convictions

Supt Rampton reported 49 convictions against the prisoner, but when he produced the records, the prisoner said: “Please don’t look at that form. It is unreliable.” (Laughter in court.)

A month's hard labour

On being sentenced to a month’s hard labour, the prisoner addressed the bench: “Thank you very much your worships. I hope you will think of me while you are enjoying your jolly Christmas pudden and I wish you all a Very Happy Christmas.”


[First published in the North Laine Runner, No 64, November/December 1986 and reprinted in No 225, November/December 2013. Exact source unknown but would have been from a press report at the time.]

This page was added on 20/12/2013.

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