Farm Servant’s Plea, 1899

Here’s a story which highlights how much times have changed in the last 120 years.

James McDonald, a farm servant from Blantyre found himself in court in March 1899. The charge was he was heard to be using obscene language at the Blantyre railway station in public. Being an honest man, and knowing there were witnesses, he pled guilty. However, he went on to explain to the court that he had a suit of clothes in a parcel sitting on a railway bench and that somebody had tried to steal it. The witnesses could not confirm if this was the case. but did confirm they had heard bad language being used.

A fine of 7s 6d was given to James, (a sum of around £50 in todays money) with the alternative of spending 5 days in prison. Photo illustration by AI.

On social media, the following comments were provided by readers:

John Richardson I would be doing the days everytime!

Paul McLauchlin If the same laws applied today I would either be permanently skint or doing life.

Carol King !!! Aye tough hard times – Magistrate and the power of leniency

Betty McLean There would be lots of fines today with the language people use.

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