Workhouse misdeeds by a town ‘character’

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1913 Court

Robert Hunter (63), labourer, described as of the Workhouse, was charged at the Scarborough Police Court today, with having been guilty of misbehaviour whilst an inmate of the Workhouse, on October 13th.

Hunter is a well-known character in the town, and is popularly called, by his association, and others, “Daddy fra Cayton.”

He pleaded guilty, and 
Albert Huckans, the porter at the Workhouse, said that on Monday evening about 7.30, Hunter presented himself at the Workhouse in a half-drunken state. He applied for permission to enter the casual ward, and the master endeavoured to get him in quietly, but he absolutely refused to obey the regulations, and the master’s orders in any particular. He used bad language, and eventually laid down in the entrance.

By the Clerk: Hunter had been out of the Workhouse, and was applying for permission to re-enter.

Mr J Hall (one of the magistrates): Was he going in for the winter?

The Porter replied that Hunter went in and if he thought there was such a thing as him being able to beg successfully he went out.

Mr Hall: I know.

Prisoner said he found a soldier’s medal, and reported it at the Police Station. He added: I got a drop of drink through finding it!

John Dyde, Master at the Workhouse, said his attention was drawn to Hunter, who was sitting outside the casual ward. He had entered the Workhouse without permission. Witness asked him if he had an order, and he replied that he had not. Witness 
requested him to go to the 
relieving officer and get one.

He used bad language, but after persuasion he went, 
witness accompanying him. They found, however, that the relieving officer had left his 
office. Hunter then requested to be admitted as a casual, but ultimately would not go in, and said he would go to the 
Police Station.

At this stage Hunter appeared to have a seizure. He began to shiver violently, and laid his head on the side of the dock. PC Allan assisted him, but later the officer left him alone, being evidently under the impression that the “seizure” was not a genuine one.

Asked if he had anything to say Hunter at once recovered, and said that he had found the medal referred to. He had let a man see it, and the man “gave him some drink for being honest”. He had had no drink he said, previously, this year.

Replying to Mr Hall as to where the medal was, Hunter was understood to say that a publican had it. He had reported the matter to the police.

The Chief Constable said that there were 103 convictions recorded against prisoner.

The last time he was before the court was in January 1913 for having been drunk and disorderly. On that occasion the case was adjourned sine die. The last actual conviction was in the latter part of 1912 when Hunter was sent to prison for six weeks for absconding with workhouse clothing. He was in the workhouse until Friday, he went to Hull Fair on the Saturday, and found the medal in Hull. He went to the Police Station, and the Police had communicated with Hull. The excitement of finding the medal had apparently upset Hunter (laughter).

Replying to the magistrates, the Workhouse Master said there must be discipline in such cases, and the only thing the Workhouse officials could do was to bring such persons as Hunter before the bench for punishment.

The Chairman (Mr H Stephenson) to Hunter: Are you prepared to go back to the Workhouse and behave yourself?

Hunter (who had some minutes before recommenced to shiver): Yes.

The magistrates thereupon adjourned the case until Monday week, telling Hunter to go back to the Workhouse and behave himself. They would, on Monday week, see what sort of report was given of him. “If you are found at this job again,” said the chairman, “you will have to go to gaol. There is nothing else for it. You have been dealt with leniently. Again and again you have promised to reform and be better, still you are here again. We will give you another chance. Go back and behave yourself.” Hunter left the dock with back bent, and as if he were in pain.