The Evils of Drink !



I came across these two little stories while going though  copies of an old newspaper, the Halifax Reporter.

The first article was dated 11th July 1839, and reported on a poor individual called Samuel Bancroft born in Ovenden, near Halifax around 1802, and his downfall due to the demon drink!

"Samuel Bancroft [37] was charged with stealing a piece of mutton at Stansfield, the property of Joseph Ashworth. Mr Baines conducted the case for the prosecution. The prosecutor is a butcher at Swan, near Todmorden. On the 20th of May, about 1o'clock, the prisoner came into his shop, and after some delay in the shop, went out by the back door. The prosecutor was very shortly, after missing part of a shoulder of mutton, which was afterwards found in the possession of the prisoner. The identity of the mutton was proved by the circumstance that it was cut with a snipped saw, which tore it in cutting. The jury returned a verdict of guilty, and the Chairman in passing sentence, said that this was the effect of the use of intoxicating drink. He would rejoice to see the principals of teetotalism extended, and in this case the court had determined that it should have effect. The sentence of the court was that he be imprisoned and kept to hard labour for one month, and for that period we shall be sure that you will be kept sober. The prisoner then stated...."But you should consider sir, that I've been six weeks sober already!" ....[presumably trying to suggest to the court that he had not had a drink since this incident...or more likely he had been locked up since the incident!]

Some years later 2nd May 1874, the same Halifax newspaper reported on another incident with a different individual , also called Samuel Bancroft and also born in Ovenden around 1848, the son of John and Martha Bancroft. The newspaper report leave us in no doubt that he had the same problem with drink, and the headline reads as follows:

"A violent son near Halifax.'
Yesterday at West Riding Court, Halifax, Samuel Bancroft, joiner of Ovenden, pleaded guilty to having assaulted his father on the previous Saturday. When the prisoner had gone home, he struck his mother and dragged his sister about by the hair on her head. The father was assaulted when he interfered, and stated that his son was a drunken, lazy and dissolute fellow. The prisoner was fined £2 5s, or else 2 months in prison."
[I have also written a further article about Samuel Bancroft, and his untimely death, which can be read by clicking here]

Around these times the Temperance Society was growing in strength, and produced in one of their magazines the following ‘fire and brimstone’ warning to pub landlords:

"If there is a business in which the candidates of hell are labouring, it is yours, and full well you know it.
Were it not a conscience killing business, you would not take the last sixpence from the trembling hand of the drunkard and give him in relief a poison that, ere the next rising sun, may send him to his tomb.
Were it not a demoralising traffic, you could not stand by unmoved, and see the last spark of mortality and virtue driven from the mind of a man by the poison you administer.
Were it not an inferior business you would not be so assiduous in servicing the devil with victims for his abode of endless misery, for he exalts over every drunkard you prepare for the drunkard’s doom.
Then cease this business of ruin, ere the cry of humanity ceases and ere the wrath of angry heaven be poured out upon your head, for God has announced “a woe to him who putteth the bottle to his neighbour’s lips”.

The Demon Drink
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