A LOOK BACK IN TIME: Children charged for stealing holly

The Isle of Wight Observer published on Christmas Day, 1869 contains two extracts that amused us. The first is an advertisement advising Island men advice to follow the example of John Scott, the 3rd Earl of Eldon. He had at least ten children with his wife, Henrietta, and lived to the ripe old age (in those days) of 80. The Atlantic public house had opened the previous year at 119 High Street, Ryde, and closed in 1963.

The second extract doesn’t display very much Christmas spirit, but at least the youngsters didn’t get too harsh a punishment. Let’s hope they never repeated the offence!

No, nor there never will be, unless men follow Lord Eldon’s example. Whenever he spent any money in beer, he always shared it with his wife at home. That’s what’s the matter. Now, if during Christmas you feel inclined to have a little of the best beer in the Isle of Wight, send a clean dry vessel of some kind to the ATLANTIC, High-street, and as sure as eggs is eggs you’ll get it for FOURPENCE PER QUART. Crack that net, Messrs. Swipes and Co.

Robert and David Richards, aged respectively 13 and 10 years, were brought up on the above charge.
P.C. Ford was on duty at Binstead on Friday morning last, about 11 o’clock, when he saw the two defendants with a large quantity of holly on their backs. He asked them where they got it from, and they said from Mr. King, of Newport. Witness traced it back by the berries to Sandpit plantation, near Wootton Bridge, where he found a tree cut and pieces lying about. The top of the tree was broken off, and the piece produced exactly fitted it.
John Salmon, woodman to Mr. J. B. Fleming, owner of Sandpit copse, knew the holly tree there; he had seen it yesterday. It was damaged to the extent of 2s.
The boys said some man in the copse gave them permission to take the holly.
The Bench said in consequence of defendants’ tender age, they would only order them to be detained that day. They hoped that would be a warning, for if brought up again they would be sent to Winchester goal.