IT was matter of principle and if he had to go to prison, then so be it.

Stubborn William Maffey had refused to pay the meagre toll of a halfpenny so a dog could be transported over the River Itchen, which brought him before the magistrates a few days later on December 4, 1868.

Maffey admitted being with the animal but denied he was the owner. That made no difference to the toll company who stipulated he was still in charge of it.

There was no dispute Maffey had paid the one penny fee for himself, as the collector confirmed when he approached the bridge from the Itchen side.

"He had a dog with him," said Mr Gray. "But when I asked him for the halfpenny, he replied: "How do you know its mine?"

Gray insisted he must still pay and if he refused, he would have to leave it at the gate.

His response was less than complimentary: "Am I your servant? Put it outside yourself."

Displaying admiral patience, the collector asked Maffey to catch the dog so he could detain it but he was again dismissive.

"Catch it yourself," he snapped.

As a last resort, Gray produced the toll table giving the conditions of payment.

"I told him he was legally payable but he immediately walked over the bridge, taking the animal with him."

Magistrates heard corroborative evidence from other witnesses before Maffey gave his side of the story - a bizarre one.

"As I was coming from Bitterne, I threw a piece of biscuit to the dog which naturally followed me. I didn't want to catch it as I was not going to have my fingers bitten by someone else's dog."

The prosecutor naturally questioned him over its ownership but Maffey remained adamant it did not belong to him.

"I have not seen it from that day to this."

The chairman told him that irrespective of the ownership, he had clearly taken the dog over the bridge and was guilty of the fact.

"You must pay a fine of 10s with costs of 8s," Mr Bernard instructed him.

Maffey would not.

"Well, I shan't pay it, sir. I would not pay the halfpenny for it."

Bernard: "Then you must go to prison for a week."

Maffey: "All right, sir" - and he was at once led away.