The young man who appeared in Marylebone Police Court in August 1844 refused to give the magistrate his real name. When pressed he said it was ‘John Jones’. The knowing justice asked ‘where do you live?’ ‘I’d rather not give that information, unless you insist on me doing so’ came the reply.
Why was he so embarrassed and reluctant to be identified? His crime was assaulting a cabbie and refusing to pay his fare. However, he had also been out with a young lady when the incident occurred. The cab driver, Edward Pheby, testified that he had picked up ‘John Jones’ (a ‘tall gentlemanly looking young man’) and the young lady in Covent Garden and had been instructed to drive to Westbourne Park.
At several points he had heard the woman cry out for him to stop the cab only for ‘Jones’ to countermand her order. When he got to the Bayswater Road the young man got out and told the driver to take the woman back to Covent Garden. When Pheby asked him for his fare he was met by a refusal (‘No, I never pay my cab fare’, he said) and was assaulted, being struck on the head with a stick.
He took the unnamed woman back but she too refused to pay him and so he had summoned Jones to court. The young man continued to refuse to give his real name or his address but did admit to being ashamed at his conduct. The magistrate fined him £3 for the assault and made him pay the fare (of £5s 4d) plus an extra 3s for the cabman’s trouble.
I wonder who the ‘lady’ was but knowing that Covent Garden and Seven Dials was synonymous with prostitution in the 19th century perhaps that explains his reluctance to say who he was.
[from The Morning Chronicle, Tuesday, August 20, 1844]