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Husband Beating at The Cock Public House

The Cock about 1930 [WB/Green4/5/Lu/Cock1]
The Cock about 1930 [WB/Green4/5/Lu/Cock1]

The following piece comes from the Luton News of 1st June 1893:




At the Borough Sessions on Wednesday, before the Mayor (Mr. Asher Hucklesby), and Messrs. A. T. Webster, J. Higgins, C. Mees, Low Giddings, J. Cumberland and R. S. Tomson.

Catherine Collins, of the Cock public-house, Park-street, Luton, was charged with assaulting her husband, Matthew Collins, at Luton, on May 27th. She was further charged with being drunk and disorderly in Park-street on the same date, and also with assaulting P. C. Aylott while in the execution of his duty at the same time and place.

Mr. Beck appeared for the prosecution, and Mr. Lockhart for the defence.

Mr. Lockhart, in answer to the charge, said he had seen the depositions and he thought it was quite hopeless for him to plead anything but guilty on behalf of the prisoner. He mentioned that he believed Mr. Beck had a certain course to suggest.

Mr. Beck asked that the woman should also be charged with using threats, and he went on to say that the complainant was the landlord of the Cock public-house, Park-street, and was very well known. He had lived in happiness and comfort until some ten months ago, when, in an evil moment he took that woman as his wife.

The Clerk remarked that Mr. Collins was responsible for himself and must not blame that on the woman.

Mr. Beck went on to say that for some three or four months they lived quietly and happily, but after that time the woman took to drink and there was no doubt that that was the origin of all that happened afterwards. From that time she had been creating disturbances and had made Mr. Collins’ life almost unbearable. On Saturday afternoon she went out about four o’clock after getting some money from her husband and he saw no more of her until she was brought home drunk at about eight o’clock. She then went into the bar and interfered with the customers and almost immediately afterwards, when Mr. Collins was putting up a curtain in the bar, she threw a couple of glasses at him. She refused to leave the bar, and continued making a disturbance and breaking the glasses for the next half-hour. She threw a pewter pot at her husband but it hit another young man in the face. Mr. Collins could no tallow that to go on in the bar so put her into the tap-room, but she fought her way back, struck him in the face and afterwards threw another glass at him. A policeman was sent for and when P. C. Aylott arrived she struck her husband, who then had no potion but to give her into custody. This formed another charge for on the way to the station she assaulted P. C. Aylott. The woman threatened to stab Collins and he (Mr. Beck) appeared to deal with the matter that day. These were things one could not see a very happy solution to. It was perfectly impossible for the parties to live together again, and it had been arranged that Mrs. Collins should go and live just out of London with one of her sisters and Mr. Collins was willing to make her a reasonable allowance. He should ask their Worships to bind the woman over on a charge of using threats and to adjourn the case of assaulting Mr. Collins sine die, and he would leave the other charges in the magistrates’ hands. He continued that the complainant was prepared to pay the prisoner a fitting sum as long as she stayed out of Luton, and did not molest him but upon her return the sum would cease. He wished to impress upon the woman that if she did return and molest her husband the charge could be brought up again. He then called the complainant.

Matthew Collins, who stated that he was married to the prisoner in July 1892, but since last December there had been a good deal of disturbance between them. It had been occasioned by her drunken habits – getting drunk and making a noise. On Saturday afternoon his wife left the house at about a quarter-past four and returned at about half-past eight when she was drunk – (Mrs. Collins: “Sober” – laughter). – She grumbled at him and abused him when he went into the parlour and so he went into the bar, for he was busy. He was in the act of putting up a curtain in the bar when his wife threw two pint glasses containing  ale at him. The ale went all over him and he was hit by the glasses. She then threw a pewter pot at him and after that smashed glasses and interfered with the customers so that he could not carry on business. He had to lift her out of the bar and put her in the passage where the customers kept her for a time, but she returned and he had to put her out again. When in the passage she smacked his face and punched him repeatedly and threw a pint pot at him. She said she would do for him and he had to send for the police. The mark on his forehead was done when P. C. Aylott was in the house. Mrs. Collins was mad drunk and did not know what she was doing.

Mr. Webster: Was she sober when she left your house? – Yes, sir.

Mr. Lockhart intimated that he did not wish to cross-examine the complainant.

Mr. Beck thought that as Mr. Lockhart did not want to cross-examine it was unnecessary to call further evidence, but he re-called Mr. Collins, who stated that he went in fear of his wife. Mr. Beck said he would leave the remaining two charges in the magistrates’ hands after he had called Aylott and he asked them to adopt the course be suggested in the first two cases.

P. C. Aylott said that at half-past nine on Saturday night he was called to the Cock public-house. There was a large number of people inside and a crowd outside. He went into the taproom and saw Mrs. Collins lying on the floor and Mr. Collins was standing beside her. He said. “I want to give her into custody” and as soon as he had said that she got up from the floor and struck her husband twice in the face in the witness’ presence. When outside Mrs. Collins became exceedingly violent, and bit his arm and finger – though the marks did not show now, and he had to call assistance to convey her to the Police Office. He had to put her on the stretcher to take her from thence to the Police-station. She was “beastly drunk”.

By Mr. Lockhart: He was not charging the prisoner with being drunk before he took her into custody.

Mr. Lockhart next addressed the Bench, and said it was a most extraordinary thing to the woman’s friends as she had never been known to be drunk, and it was only since she had been married that this habit had got the better of her. He was assured that she was a very violent woman, and there was no doubt that on that particular occasion she was more excited and mad than anything, and she got into a very violent state. He went on to say that Mrs. Collins had no intention of coming back to Luton, and with regard to her being drunk and disorderly, he could not see where the charge came in, for she was taken into custody in the house.

The Clerk said the house was a public place under the Act, but she could be charged all the same if it was not.

Mr. Lockhart went on to say that Mrs. Collins very much regretted the occurrence and he asked them to take a very lenient view, looking at the fact that the woman would not dream of committing such actions of she was sober. He asked them to impose a small fine in the charge of assaulting Aylott and being drunk, and to adjourn the assault on the husband sine die, and to bind her over to keep the peace for using threats. He assured them that she would leave Luton.

The magistrates retired to consider the case, and upon their return.

The Mayor said: We are willing in the first case to accede to the request of your advocate to hold it over sine die on consideration of the agreement to an arrangement as suggested by him. Respecting the case where you are charged with being drunk and disorderly, we fine you 10s. and costs 8s. or 14 days. Respecting the assault on P. C. Aylott we commit you without the option of a fine for 21 days. Respecting the threats to your husband you will be bound over in the sum of £20 in one surety to keep the peace for twelve months.

Mr. Lockhart said he did not know whether it would be any good for him to make the most earnest appeal he could to them to mitigate the penalty of 21 days.

Mr. Webster said the majority of the Bench were in favour of a heavy penalty.

Mr. Lockhart went on to say it was in a most sensitive way he approached them at all, but anything he could say to mitigate that penalty to a fine he would do, and he pointed them to the consideration of the fact that for three years the woman had conducted herself with great sobriety

The Mayor said the Bench took the whole of the circumstances into consideration, and they felt this would be the wisest course.

Mr. Collins: Excuse me your worships

The Clerk told Mr. Collins he must not speak, and Mr. Beck addressing the Bench said he should like if possible to make an appeal and he added that no one would feel it more than Mr. Collins.

Mr. Webster: We pity him very much.

The prisoner was then removed.

Mr. Primett of the Greyhound public-house stood surety for Mrs. Collins.

The Court was crowded throughout the hearing.

Later in the afternoon notice of appeal was lodged and upon Mrs. Collins entering into recognizances of £30 she was liberated.