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At Edinburgh Sheriff Summary Court this afternoon—Sheriff Rutherfurd on the bench— Messrs M’Donald & Deveneau, drapers and dressmakers, were charged with contravening the Factory and Workshop Act, 1875,[1] by having three women working in their premises 4 Shandwick Place, after 4 p.m. on Saturday, 26th April.

An agent for the accused objected to the relevancy of the complaint, but after some discussion the Sheriff allowed it to be amended in court. A plea of not guilty was then tendered, and evidence was led.

The agent for the defence contended that under section 53 of the Act an employer was justified in cases where there was a statutory holiday in a particular week in getting his employees to work at hours otherwise forbidden by the Act if the total number of work hours allowed by it in a week was not exceeded. The Thursday immediately before the date of the offence charged was the Fast-Day, and that was the reason the women were working late on the Saturday afternoon.

—In giving judgment the Sheriff said there could be no doubt that when the inspector visited the premises at five o’clock on 26 April two women were at work, and the forewoman, if not actually at work, was there superintending the others. There had therefore been a violation of the Act. It was said that there had been no intention to infringe the statutory provisions, but he did not think he could take intention into account in such a case.

The statute was intended for the protection of work people, not only against their employers, but against themselves—to prevent them from working after certain hours, and on Saturdays after four o’clock. Where an intimation was made by the employer under Section 53 of the Act to the inspector of an intention to work overtime to make up for a holiday, it was expressly provided that the overtime should not be worked on a Saturday. The employers were responsible for the carrying out of the very important provisions of the statute.

Taking into consideration the whole circumstances of this case, he would not impose any penalty, but the accused would have to pay the expenses in connection with the prosecution, amounting to 10s. 6d. But it must be distinctly understood, and he hoped it would be widely understood by all employers, that on no occasion whatever, and on no pretext whatever, were the employees to be detained on Saturday beyond four o’clock, the hour mentioned in the statute.

—Messrs Thomas Thomson & Sons, drapers and dressmakers, admitted a similar offence on the same date in their premises 5 Hope Street Lane, Edinburgh, having three women working there after four o’clock. They were cautioned in similar terms, and had to pay 10s 6d of court expenses, but no penalty was imposed.

Edinburgh Evening News, 6 May 1884

[Image: Wikipedia, creative commons.]

[1] This is wrong; the Act was passed in 1878. Among much else, it limited women’s working time to between 56.5 and 60 hours per week, and entitled them to 2 full holidays and 8 half holidays per year. Children under the age of 10 were not to be employed.




COLLIE DOG (Handsome Scotch), thoroughly broke to Sheep and Cattle. Bargain. Christie, 12 William Street Lane.

Scotsman, 7 May 1884

[Image: Wikimedia commons.]



Mary Archibald or Lindsay, 36 years of age, was remitted to the City Police Court to-day—Bailie Clark presiding—to the burgh authorities, charged with assaulting her daughter Mary, a girl of eight years, on Friday last, in the house at Gilchrist’s Entry, Greenside Row, occupied by the accused’s husband, by beating the girl severely about the head and body with a brush handle to the danger of her life. 

It is alleged that to escape further chastisement the girl went out at the window, and after standing or sitting for some time on a clothes-pole she jumped off the pole, falling a height of two storeys and severely injuring her spine. As stated in our issue of Friday, she was taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary where she is progressing favourably, and is to-day considered to be out of serious danger.

Edinburgh Evening News, 18 June 1884



At Edinburgh Sheriff Summary Court this afternoon—Sheriff Rutherfurd on the bench—Mary Archibald or Lindsay, a middle-aged woman, who appeared at the bar with a child in her arms, was charged with assaulting her daughter Mary, eight years of age, in a house at 2 Gilchrist’s Court, Greenside, Edinburgh, the 12th June, by striking her on the head with a brush, whereby she was injured. She was further charged with ill-treating and neglecting her daughter Mary and her infant son Alexander, having them in a dirty and untended atate, and leaving the infant on various occasions without proper food or protection for lengthened periods between the 16th May and 13th June.

In consequence of the assault by the mother and her threats of violence the girl was put in such a state of terror that, on the 13th June, she tried to escape by a window, and fell into the area below, a distance of between 20 and 30 feet, and was injured.

The accused denied the charge, and was defended by Mr M’Donald. Several neighbours said they heard the girl scream on the 12th June, while the mother was beating her, and again on tne 13th she screamed, opened the window, and sat for ten minutes on the clothes-pole and on the window-sill. The mother was in the room, and on her going to the window the girl cried, “Oh, mother, you’ll kill me. I’ll do it.” She then leaped down into the area below.

The accused kept the children in a very dirty and neglected condition. She was of very drunken habits, and on one occasion the young child, a fortnight old, was left without nourishment in charge of the girl Mary for a long time. They gave it food, and when the mother was got she was drunk.

—The nurse and a doctor spoke to the dirty state in which the child was brought to the Infirmary. She was all marked with vermin bites, and her clothing had to be destroyed. She was not seriously injured by the fall.

—The Sheriff found that the assault on the girl with the brush was proved, and that the cruel and unnatural treatment of the mother caused her to leap from the window, but did not think the charge was proved as regarded the infant child. His lordship then passed sentence of 60 days’ imprisonment.

Edinburgh Evening News, 4 July 1884





Two small boys, named Thomas Brown and George Tait, were charged with having yesterday, in Rose Street Lane, been noisy, and annoyed the inhabitants. Mr Linton said that the prisoners had big sticks, and, protesting to be Zulus, were shouting and disturbing the neighbourhood.[2] They were dismissed with an admonition.

Edinburgh Evening News, 23 September 1884

[Image: Charlotte Vogel, creative commons.]

[2] The Anglo–Zulu War had been fought in 1879.




At the City Police Court, 37 prisoners were brought before Sheriff Rutherfurd. Two were charged with theft, two with congregating with others on the footpath, one with assault, four with loitering and importuning, 17 with disorderly conduct, and 11 with drunkenness. […]


A respectable-looking young woman named Helen Fraser was to-day remitted from the City Police Court, charged with stealing three £1 notes from a lockfast drawer in a house in North-West Cumberland Street Lane on 17th September last.

It appears that accused lodged for a few days in the house, and then decamped rather suddenly. Soon after she left the landlady missed three keys, and on some locked drawers being forced open, it was found that £3 had been stolen. A pair of stays were also missed.[3]

A description of the lodger was given to the police, but she could not be got until yesterday, when a hotel-keeper in High Street, becoming suspicious of a lodger of his handed, her over to the police. This was the woman Fraser, and on being shown to the landlady at Cumberland Street Lane she was at once identified as the long sought-for lodger.

Fraser was also recognised in the Detective Office as answering the description of a woman “wanted” by the Aberdeen Police, and it is said that she admits being the person “wanted” there. She is alleged to have been in trouble before, both in Inverness and Aberdeen.

Fraser pleaded guilty to theft before Baillie Cranston at Edinburgh Burgh Court to-day, and was sent 20 days to jail.

Edinburgh Evening News, 14 November 1884

[3] Stays—bone-reinforced corset.


Walter Scott



Edinburgh, September 19, 1884.

Sir,—We read frequently in the Scotsman of this house and that house ordered to be shut up on account of the insanitary condition of the same, and of certain common stairs and closes to be cleansed and whitewashed as a necessary preventive against disease, especially at the present time against the outbreak of cholera.[4]

This, of course, every cleanly-disposed citizen will agree is quite right, and shows that the Board of Health Committee certainly takes some interest in the health and wellbeing of the city. But what I want to draw your attention to is the fact that the said Board has evidently overlooked at least one of the filthiest dens the city of Edinburgh contains. The “den” referred to is situated in West Rose Street Lane, and is a scavenger’s depot[5] and public privy combined. The opposite side of the lane is occupied as workshops by the tenants of warehouses on Princes’ Street, while next door to and adjoining this abomination is an aerated-water manufactory, a chairmaker’s, and one or two other shops.

The stench arising from the place at all times, but especially when it is at certain periods being “mucked out” and carted away, can be better imagined than described. I, as one of the men employed in one of the workshops opposite, can testify to its being anything but pleasant and agreeable; and certainly am surprised that cholera or some such equally terrible scourge has not broken out in the locality long since.

The nuisance is right in the centre of a thickly populated district. The building alongside of this “den” was some years ago used as a skittle alley, which the Prince of Wales used to patronise.[6] I doubt very much if His Royal Highness would have patronised the alley had the aforesaid nuisance existed. The “den” itself, I believe, was at one time the stable and coach-house of Sir Walter Scott,[7] and this circumstance alone ought, I think, to claim for it the right of at least being kept clean, and for a decent purpose.

Perhaps the authorities will say they have no place so handy and convenient to store their “muck,” let alone the other purpose for which the place is used. Well, in answer, I would suggest that the whole contents of Sir Walter’s stable, &c., should be transferred bodily to the middle of Charlotte Square!—It has just as much right to be there as where it is at present. It would not be permitted to remain there long, I imagine.

—I am, &c.

Rose Street Lane Workshop

Scotsman, 20 September 1884

[Image: Sir Henry Raeburn, Wikimedia commons.]

[4] There were serious outbreaks of cholera in Edinburgh in 1832, 1848, and 1866.

[5] Rubbish tip.

[6] The future Edward VII studied at Edinburgh University in the summer of 1859.

[7] Between 1797 and 1826, Scott lived at 50 George St, 10 Castle St, and 39 North Castle St.


aerated water bottle


10 Walker Terrace, Edinburgh, September 20, 1884.

Sir,—It is a great pity that “Rose Street Lane Workshop” did not properly describe the locality where said nuisance exists, and not lead my numerous customers to believe that my aerated water manufactory was next door to and adjoining this abomination.

The lane referred to lies on the south side of Rose Street adjoining Princes Street, styled by some Royal Racket Court, but better known as South-West Rose Street Lane, whereas my aerated water manufactory is at North Rose Street Lane, adjoining George Street, and as well kept as the principal streets of the city.

—I am, &c.

Alexander Douglas,

Aerated Water Manufacturer.

Scotsman, 22 September 1884

[Image: Wikimedia commons.]


THEFT OF AN OUNCE OF GOLD—An elderly man, George Griffiths, pleaded guilty at the Edinburgh Police Court yesterday, of stealing 1 oz. of gold from the premises of his master, a goldbeater, in Swinton Row.[8] It was stated that the accused had carried off the gold in small quantities and sold it, the value of the property being about £4.[9] Acting Sheriff-Substitute Baxter passed sentence of thirty days’ imprisonment with hard labour.

Scotsman, 30 September 1884

[9] The business of Fred Wright at No. 4.

[10]  About £264 or 12 days wages for a skilled tradesman in 1884.


News from the Mews will resume in 1885 on Monday.