Drunken chef chased assistants with knife

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1913 Court

Today at the Scarborough County Court, Henry Gibbs, a chef, sued Charles Henry Martin, landlord of the Salisbury Hotel, for wages in lieu of notice.

Mr J Whitfield, solicitor for plaintiff, said his client was engaged as chef at the Salisbury Hotel on the 15th August this year at a wage of 35s a week. On Saturday September 13th, there were only three visitors in the hotel, and plaintiff said to the defendant: I think you are slack to keep me on; you had better dispense with my services next Saturday. Defendant said: I was considering the matter over, and I think the same, you can leave next Saturday. On the following Monday, however, at about 5.30 in the afternoon, the defendant went and tendered Gibbs 5s, and said: You have finished. Gibbs objected, and said he was entitled to stay a week or be paid a week’s money.

Defendant said that when he engaged Gibbs the hotel was full.

Gibbs, he affirmed, went in on the Monday at 5.55, the worse for drink, and he deliberately quarrelled with the cook, who assisted him in the kitchen, because she had been getting the dinner, which was timed for 6.30 ready. Gibbs picked up a knife and ran round threatening the assistants – one of them being Ellen Hardy, a housemaid-waitress. The court could readily imagine the justification witness felt he had for refusing to pay him his week’s wages, when the two women, the cook and Hardy, refused to stop if Gibbs remained. The man had done his duty, with one exception, up to then, but witness could not pardon or allow him to start again, in face of such conduct. Witness was sorry he had not had advice, and the case put properly before the court. He had one witness.

The Judge: What did you do afterwards?

Defendant: Well, I had to threaten I would put his head through the wall if he did not go after his conduct to these women. Eventually I got him out. He came in again and he fell down the steps twice when my guests had just finished dining. I was terrified to death that he would be seen there by them. Proceeding, witness said he consulted a constable at the top of the street, and the officer said that as the man 
was living in the hotel he could not interfere, 
but he would consult the Inspector.

Later, when the constable went to the house witness had persuaded Gibbs to go upstairs. “He mustered up sufficient muscular energy to get upstairs.”

“In virtue of my position as a licence holder” added witness, “I ought to have been protected to a certain extent from conduct of this character. With all honesty of purpose I would have paid the man. He did his duty to me 
until this night.”

Plaintiff said that the kitchen was upstairs, and it was when he was passing the bar downstairs, that Mr Martin offered him the 5s. Nothing happened in the kitchen, he did no damage and he denied the allegations made.

The Judge: He says you threatened the cook?

Plaintiff: I deny it, I have been a chef since 1880. He added that he had been in large kitchens, and had a good many in the staff under him, and he had never been found fault with, neither had he ever been in a court before to “defend his wages.”

Replying to Mr Whitfield, defendant denied plaintiff’s statement. Plaintiff did suggest that as they were slack he should leave– he gave him credit for that.

Gibbs: I was sober enough to say “Mr Martin.” (Laughter.)

Amy Hogg, the cook, said that Gibbs went in at five minutes to six so drunk that he had to stop near the table. He complained of her getting the dinner ready, stating it was his business, and he used language which was not fit for any person to hear.

She went down and complained to Mrs Martin. Mrs Martin went up and asked him to desist, and come out of the kitchen until dinner was over. Then she went down and sent Mr Martin up. Gibbs went out of the kitchen at 6.05, and 
dinner should have been on the table at 6.30.

Plaintiff asked witness if she did not go down to take him “his allowance” at 11 o’clock, 1 o’ clock, and 7 o’clock.

The Judge: Your what? (Laughter.)

Gibbs: What the hotel 
allowed to drink. I had three stone gingers after the first week I was there – three stone gingers a day, and she fetched me them.

Finally the Judge said that plaintiff had not proved his case, and he found for the defendant. Plaintiff had done wrong.

Plaintiff urged that it was a concoction.

The Judge said plaintiff should have acted properly in the last week he was there. He could do nothing for him.