Pigs in Little Dockray

Pigs in Little Dockray – who knew? Well, it seems there were some snuffling about for decades (not the same pigs, obviously!) before anyone noticed.

Some background: the Richardsons

1882. Feb. Penrith Observer.

Important Inn and Premises to be Let.

With immediate possession, that well-countenanced and old-established Market Day house known as the General Wolfe, along with the stabling, granary etc, situate in Little Dockray. Now in the occupation of Mr James Richardson, who is retiring from business. For particulars, apply to Mr J W Legat, Low Brewery, Appleby. 

James Richardson (1818-1903) had been the landlord of the General Wolfe since at least 1851.

He and his wife Alice (née Atkinson, 1820-1880) had raised their three children there.

And they had also raised some livestock!

The children were Henry, James, and Elizabeth.

James Richardson junior opened a drapery shop at number 8 Little Dockray – next door to the General Wolfe.

It’s a florist’s today, but you can pick out ‘Richardson’ on the tiles in the doorway. 

Elizabeth married a butcher, Tom Walter Parker.

And Henry Richardson became a solicitor. Which proved handy when his family and wider family needed a lawyer for a will or financial case.

In 1884, Henry Richardson called on his dad for support, when he (Henry) represented the new landlord of the General Wolfe in an unusual court case.

Pigs in Little Dockray

Carlisle Express and Examiner, December 6, 1884

NUISANCES FROM KEEPING PIGS.- John Kitchen, landlord of the General Wolfe Inn. Little Dockray, was charged by Penrith Local Board of Health with keeping pigs within 50 feet of dwelling house, contrary to the Board bye-laws. 

Anyone (personal experience here!) who has ever lived near in a village near a piggery will appreciate why there might be a bye-law about keeping them in Penrith town centre!

Mr. Lamonby appeared for the complainant. He said the swine were kept in a stable.

Henry Richardson said they had measured through a stone wall.

 Thomas Pollock, surveyor and inspector of nuisance for the Local Board of Health, said the farthest distance the pigs were from the General Wolfe was 34 feet.

Henry Richardson said the complaint had been made through spite, and the back door of the complainant was 56 feet 3 inches from the pigs in Little Dockray.

Pigs had been kept there for 50 years and residents didn’t even realise they were there.

The expert witness

At this point Henry Richardson called his dad as a witness.

James Richardson said he had lived at the General Wolfe for more than 20 years, and all that time had kept pigs in the same place as the present tenant. 

No one had ever complained.

The distance from the kitchen window of the General Wolfe to the place where the pigs were kept was 53ft 6in., and from there to Mr. Bird’s wash house was 56ft. 3in.

Sadly for Mr Kitching’s case, this distance didn’t wash with the court.

Cross-examined: he hadn’t measured in a direct line but by the way they had get to the defendant’s pigs.

Given that the smell doesn’t take the footpath to reach a neighbour’s nose, the court were not impressed. But they didn’t come down too hard on Mr Kitching either*.

The Bench fined the defendant one shilling, including costs.

Pigs in Fell Lane

it actually wasn’t the only case of its kind that day. And Henry Richardson was on the losing side of the other one as well.

William Thornburrow, of the Ship Inn, Penrith, was also charged with keeping pigs within 60 feet of a dwelling house.

The Ship was in Middlegate – later demolished to make way for Burtons. William Thornburrow (born about 1849) and family were living there (source: 1881 and 1891 censuses) The pigs, however, were being kept ‘within a distance of 31 feet from a dwelling in Fell Lane’.

Mr Thornburrow said the pigs had been removed since the summons was issued, but was also fined one shilling, including costs.

If at first you don’t succeed

Curiously, both cases seem to have been repeats of ones from October 1884.

Mr Pollock said there were two pigs in the General Wolfe stable – not in a dirty state, but there was a smell. 

Henry Richardson said not through stone walls there wasn’t.

Mr Pollock said Mr Thornburrow’s stye was in a very dirty state and injurious to health.

The bench dismissed both cases as unproven. The board clearly decided to have another go two months later!

How bad was a one shilling fine?

*The defendants were each fined one shilling.

As a comparison of worth, two years later a shopping list comprising flour, mustard, oatmeal, pepper, lard and coffee cost one grocer’s shop customer 4s 5d (four shillings and five pence). 

So you could say the fine was roughly the equivalent of 12 ounces of coffee.

In 1878, when Thomas Huddart, ‘alias Satan’, was charged with being drunk and disorderly near Little Dockray (his 16th appearance in court), he was given ‘another chance’ and fined the ‘nominal sum of five shillings plus costs’.

In 1883, a visit to the hairdresser would cost a woman 3d (so a one shilling fine was 4 hair cuts!).

Mind you, for men it was 2d. Some things never change!

There is more on the history of Little Dockray in this post on consumption.

There is more on William Thornburrow in this post on old Penrith pubs.