Two youngsters found scrumping – find out about their punishment

By John Hoskins

Two youngsters found scrumping – find out about their punishment

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A FRUSTRATED aunt harboured no illusions about her wayward nephew.

"He is a very bad, wicked boy and continually absents himself from home as well as perpetually commits thefts there," she bemoaned of teenager Thomas Goff. "His father is at sea and his wife has told me that when he's at home, he cannot control him."

The 14-year-old was certainly not the black sheep in the family. His brother had been sent to a reformatory and she only wished he could be similarly punished.

"If he takes his father's tobacco from the drawer and go and sell it, what will he do?" she rhetorically asked. "He wants to be put somewhere else."

Goff had been charged with scrumping in the back garden of a house in Blechyden, Southampton.

Magistrates taking the case at the town's petty sessions on August 5, 1868, were not merciful, sentencing him to seven days hard labour with a warning that if he-offended, he would probably be whipped.

He was not the only youngster accused - to put it in legalise - of being found in a tree for an unlawful purpose. This time John Middlewich was said to have been up to no good in the garden of fruit growers Oakley and Sons.

Another lad called Brake told the court how he was asked to act as lookout after the 12-year-old and a pal clambered over a bank and had begun picking up fallen apples until they were caught.

But the boys had not been the only ones up to mischief, it appears, and owner Richard Oakley was in no mood for him to be given a mere ticking off.

"I am bound to ask for some punishment," he said. "We are being pestered by these boys. Upwards of 20 got into our garden last Sunday, and though we have made a deep and wide ditch and remade our hedge which has necessitated them clambering some eight to ten feet to get into our garden, we still cannot keep them out."

Middlewich received three days hard labour with a caution about his future behaviour.