Aireborough Historical Society

1850 Rawdon Man Charged as Drunk

Rawdon Man Charged as Drunk
Date 1850
Location Rawdon
Photo ID

                               "A Singular Sleep - Walker

      Samuel Sutcliffe, a tall middle-aged man respectably dressed, appeared in the dock at Leeds Court House on Wednesday charged with having been found drunk.

At an early hour the same morning policeman John Helmsley discovered him lying on the flags (flagstones or pavement) near St Paul's Church  asleep.

The officer roused him but he was so much intoxicated that he was quite incapable of making use of his legs and had it not been that a cab was passing at the time, the driver of which undertook to convey the prisoner, Helmsley would have been quite unable to get his charge to the police office.

      In reply to questions from the magistrates (Ralph Markland Esq. and Wm. Pawson Esq.) the prisoner, with a very grave face, said the policeman, in supposing he was drunk was altogether mistaken and that if he had been properly awakened, instead of being taken to the police office, he would have most undoubtedly gone straight to Rawden where he lived.

He also stated that he was a slubber, that in consequence of a "break-down" at the place  where he worked he came to Leeds on Tuesday and that he went to a public house kept by Mr Winder where he remained "talking over family affairs" until a late hour.

       The magistrates, not appearing to credit his statement that he was sober when found as described, he again declared that he was merely asleep and further , "that it is quite a common thing for him to fall asleep when he was walking and that he had many a time awoke and found himself standing straight upon his legs".

       This statement proved rather too much for the gravity of the bench.

However, to give the accused a fair chance, Mr James the superintendent of police was called in order that he might confirm Helmsley's testimony or the contrary, and Mr James, who was at the police office when the prisoner was taken thither, said he was not only drunk but so much so he was unable to walk.

       The result was that the bench inflicted the usual penalty of 5s and costs".

Image courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive, research by Edwy Harling

Additional information by Christine Lovedale

     The St Paul's Church mentioned was in the south east corner of Park Square, it was built in 1793 on land donated by Bishop Wilson and the architect was William Johnson.

As the industrial landscape of Leeds encroached round the prestigious Square and surrounding area the inhabitants moved further from the city centre, by the late 1800s no congregation was left and the church was demolished in 1905.



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