Farmhand in court for breach of contract

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1914 Court

At the North Riding Police Court today before Mr F Baker (in the chair) Mr AH Robinson, Mr AM Daniel, Mr J Hall, and Mr Yarborough Anderson, Fred Flinton, Staxton, was summoned under the Employers’ and Workmen’s Act, by John William Newham, farmer, Killerby Grange, Cayton.

Mr J Whitfield appeared on behalf of complainant, and said the action was brought to recover £3 for breach of contract. He was engaged three days after Martinmas at £15 a year. He commenced work on December 3rd, and on the following Sunday morning he left the farm without saying anything of his intentions, with the result that his client had been very much inconvenienced on the farm, and the foreman and other employees and himself had to do his work. This year it was very difficult indeed to get men. Complainant had had great trouble in getting a man to fill defendant’s place. The foreman had to look after the horses, and Mr Newham had also to do part of the work defendant would have done.

Mr Newham, in the witness box, stated that he engaged the defendant as butcher groom on November 27th at Scarborough at a wage of £15 per year. He also paid him 5s fest money. He came on December 3rd and left the following Sunday, December 7th, without saying word of his going. His work was to look after the horses and to bring produce into Scarborough and perform various other duties about the farm. He had not been able to engage men in his place and the work had come rather heavy upon them. When he got another man he expected that he would have to pay him a higher wage, and £3 was a very low estimate of the damage. Defendant had never made any complaint to him whatever. The defendant said that his employer wanted him to take meat on Sunday morning. That was why he left.

Mr Newham said he only had to take 2s worth of meat across three fields.

Defendant added that he did not like it, as a meat house it was very bad.

Mr Whitfield: You did not stay long enough to sample it.

Defendant: The pies were too high – (laughter) – and on one occasion there was nothing but meat and a basin of 
water for my dinner. There were no vegetables.

John William Stead, foreman, said he had been in Mr Newham’s employ for seven years. In consequence of defendant’s leaving, work had fallen heavily upon him, and as hands were hard to get, he would have to pay a high wage – £20.

Mr Whitfield: Did you polish off all the vegetables at your dinner?

Witness: I don’t think so. We don’t often do so. There is usually plenty.

Defendant, in his defence, said his employer did not give him the chance to go back, as he had done other boys. He had been doing nothing since he left Mr Newham.

After retiring, the magistrates assessed the damages at £1, and said defendant would have to pay the costs.