Some history of the Old Guy Inn on Digbeth in Birmingham in the County of Warwickshire
This historic tavern was originally known as the Earl of Warwick, though the name was soon changed to the Old Guy of Warwick. In the early 19th century the house became known as the Jim Crow before a century of trading as the Old Guy Inn. The pub also traded as the Albion Tavern in the 1850s and 1860s. The three-storey building was located on the southern side of Digbeth, almost opposite Oxford Street. In the 21st century the site of the pub was occupied by Birmingham Coach Station.
The Old Guy of Warwick appears in the first trade directory of Birmingham published in 1767 so the house was of some antiquity. The sign of this house referred to Guy of Warwick, or Gui de Warewic, a legendary English hero of Romance popular in England and France from the 13th to 17th centuries. The legend of Guy of Warwick is that he falls in love with the lady Felice but, as she is part of a higher social circle, to win her heart and hand in marriage, he has to prove his valour in chivalric adventures and earn a knighthood. His exploits included battling dragons, giants, a Dun Cow and great boars. He triumphantly returns and marries Felice but soon afterwards he is consumed with remorse for his violent past. Consequently, he sets off on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and returns to live out a life as a hermit. According to legend his hermitage was in a cave overlooking the River Avon, situated at Guy's Cliffe.
Christopher Fuller is possibly the son of John Fuller and recorded in the Baptism Register for Saint Martin's Church in January 1727. I did not see a listing for Christopher Fuller in a trade directory published by Myles Swinney in 1774. In this book James Lees is recorded at No.51 Digbeth, which some may think is the Old Guy of Warwick. However, four years earlier in Sketchley's directory for Birmingham, James Lees is recorded at No.51 whilst Christopher Fuller is listed two doors away at No.53. By the way, in 1770 the property between the two public-houses was occupied by the pattern-ring maker Edmund Wharton. In later years the Old Guy Inn would be listed at No.55 and, later still, at No.57 Digbeth. Just to throw a spanner in the works - in 1777 Christopher Fuller is listed as a pawnbroker at No.52.
I know I keep banging on about numbering but it is important for identifying the correct property, particularly when Digbeth had so many taverns in the late 18th century. The house number drifted slightly over the years and, by 1823, the building was listed at No.55 Digbeth when Joseph Hollick was the licensee. The house number settled at No.57 soon after.
When the Old Guy Inn was advertised for sale by auction in March 1827, the agent J. P. Tregent described the house as being "in every respect commodious and convenient for the business in its various branches, having a newly-fitted up smoke room, large and well-frequented tap room, and a good bar to the front, accompanied with a fair run of outdoor custom, four full-sized lofty chambers, dry cellars, entire yard, brewhouse, malt-room etc., the whole in complete repair." The Snow Hill-based agent also stated that "the sale is a desirable opportunity to persons in want of a good and lucrative concern, as an establishment of this kind so situated is rarely offered to the public, being unquestionably in an enviable situation, and not to be excelled, and is capable of transacting business to any extent; for upwards of 40 years it has only been in the occupation of four families, two of them have retired with an ample fortune, and the proprietor relinquishes the same on account of his leaving the town." Of course, this was a sale of the freehold. Leaseholders would have opportunity again and again to run the place as the tenancy of the Old Guy Inn was advertised on a regular basis.
I was pleased to find this advertisement that appeared in Aris's Birmingham Gazette during November 1832 as it is unusual to see the previous location of a publican. But here we can see that the maltster Charles Scambler, a resident of Summer Lane in one of the houses close to the old General Hospital, was selling his furniture and household items, along with his brewing equipment before moving to the Old Guy Inn. The Spirit Vaults may have been vacated by Charles Ross. Certainly, he had been removed to the Debtor's Prison in London and was listed as insolvent in the previous year. He applied to be discharged in December 1831.
When Charles Scambler acted upon an advertisement for the 'Old Guy, Earl of Warwick,' as it was still called, the property boasted an extensive piece of land at the back for the accommodation of horses and carriages. The pub also had skittle and marble alleys for the entertainment of patrons.
Thomas Thayer was already established as a wine and spirit merchant and licensee of the Old Guy Inn at No.57 Digbeth when he married Mary, eldest daughter of the late Mr. Richard Johnson of Bartholomew Street, the service being conducted at Saint Martin's Church. Whatever the turn of events he would later appear as a beadle in the workhouse.
The above sale notice for the Old Guy shows that the house was known by the sign of the Jim Crow. There was a term of 17 years remaining on the lease of the wine and spirit vaults. The stated reason for the business being offered was because the licensee, Edward Tomlinson, was leaving Birmingham. I was intrigued by the name change of the house - at first I thought it might have been a contemporary reference to the theatre character by Thomas D. Rice which was based on a folk trickster named Jim Crow.
Thomas Rice, who adapted and popularised a traditional slave song called "Jump Jim Crow," in 1828, blackened up for his popular theatre performances in New York. The legacy of this style shamefully endured until 1978 through the Black and White Minstrel Show on BBC television. The Corporation, who banned Motown records in the 1960s as they were deemed 'too black,' saw fit to televise blacked-up characters during a prime-time weekend slot. It was worse on the other side of the pond where the name Jim Crow was applied to the racial caste system which operated between 1877 and the mid-1960s in a country that was billed as the land of the free.
Despite the fact that a form of Thomas Rice's stage antics would not be out of place in a pub that became known for its freak shows [more on this later], it is hard to imagine that the format found its way to Birmingham so quickly after it was popularised in the United States. Having said that, a version of "Jim Crow," was performed at Birmingham's Theatre Royal in 1836. Thankfully, I have found another possible reason for the name of Jim Crow here at No.57 Digbeth. The above advertisement appeared in 1837 and shows that John Crow, a man who had already established his business in London, was retailing wines and spirits at this property. It is possible that John Crow was also known as Jim.
John Crow, a wholesale London Stout and Porter merchant, started his business at Digbeth in the Spring of 1836. He advertised that he was offering a supply of first-rate quality in casks and bottles from his store at No.57 Digbeth. In April 1836 he stated that the property "was undergoing extensive alterations and improvements, and that it would very soon be opened in the wine and spirit trade, wholesale and retail; and he pledged to conduct his business in the same open and liberal manner as was observed at his establishment at No.16 Farringdon Street in London."
The above advertisement for the sale of the lease, licences, goodwill and possession of one of the oldest establishments in Birmingham may have marked the end of its brief period as the Jim Crow. The premises featured a front spirit shop, brewhouse, cellaring, large yard and outbuildings, along with a carriage entrance onto Digbeth. The incumbent lasted only for a short period and the property was advertised again during the following year ...
This sale notice shows that the Old Guy Inn was providing musical entertainment for its patrons. Moreover, the sale details provide the first tangible evidence that brewing was taking place to the rear of the premises. Elizabeth Bateman kept the Old Guy Inn during the mid-late 1840s. She was recorded here in 1847 and 1849. From the job advertisement above it would appear that the Old Guy Inn was run to strict standards. Elizabeth Bateman was probably succeeded by Samuel Jennings who kept the Old Guy Inn with his wife Fanny. Samuel was born in Yardley in 1815 but his wife hailed from Bromyard.
Samuel and Fanny Jennings employed three live-in servants at the Old Guy Inn, suggesting a busy house. The spirit vaults was to act as a platform for a successful business dealing in ale and porter. Samuel may have honed his brewing skills using the plant detailed in the 1844 Sale Notice. From the Old Guy Inn, the couple traded from the Old Court House in the High Street from where Samuel acted as the sole consignee for Findlater and Co's Dublin Stout. The couple moved to a residence on Speedwell Road in Edgbaston whilst taking over at the Corn Exchange Stores in Carr's Lane. They expanded their wholesale operation in addition to licensed brewing and bottling.
By the time Benjamin Jenkins took charge of the business in 1851 the sign had changed to that of the Albion Tavern. It would seem that Samuel and Jennings were responsible for the change of name. The house was still trading as the Albion Tavern when the licence was transferred from Irish-born Sargent Pearson to James Green on Thursday December 3rd 1857. Sargent Pearson, along with his Coventry-born wife Elizabeth, had previously kept the Dog and Partridge Tavern at Upper Windsor Street in Ashted. After running the Albion Tavern [Old Guy] the couple kept the Train Tavern on Great Francis Street before moving to the Prince of Wales Inn at Thimble Mill Lane. However, they re-acquired the Train Tavern in 1867 where Sergent Pearson died in November 1869.
During the late 1850s and early 1860s there was a revolving door for licensees who came and went in rapid succession, suggesting it was a tough place to run. Indeed, in April 1860 Walter Brandon was hauled before the magistrates charged with keeping a disorderly house. He was fined 20s. and costs. When he disposed of the pub later in the year, the agents stated that the Spirit Vaults was "now doing good business." Either he had turned things around in a short space of time or it was sales bullshit on the part of the agent.
This notice for the sale and clearance of capital equipment and other items was placed in the Birmingham newspapers during August 1860. A similar notice from earlier in the 1850s informed potential buyers that the "smoke room of the house was frequented by a numerous and respectable company." Additionally, the notice stated that "there were two Market Dinners provided weekly, each of which were numerously attended." The premises were described as "commodious and fitted up in the modern style." The so-called incoming was around £350 at this time so if each new tenant paid this before realising it was a lost cause then the freeholder was virtually printing money. The leaseholder was the sucker when things went pear-shaped. Robert Briggs, the previous incumbent, lost all of his money and ended up in the Debtor's Gaol at Warwick.
Possibly the same family that kept the Groveland Brook Inn at Tipton, father and son, John and Joseph Cleton, dabbled with the business for a short period, though between them they only held the licence from December 1861 to December of the following year. They were succeeded by George Froggatt who took over the pub that had reverted to the sign of the Old Guy. He may have been the same George Froggatt who, along with his wife Harriett, kept a beer house in Bishop Street in the early 1850s. If so, he came from a family of metal workers that plied their trade in Digbeth for many years. Several branches of the Froggatt family were involved in steel, brass and wire production in the locality.
George Froggatt had not long settled in before he found out that dealing with the local riff-raff was challenging. In August 1862 he was assaulted by two roughnecks who became violent after refusing to pay for beer served to them. Both he and the licensee of the nearby Minerva Tavern were on the receiving end of blows inflicted by Abraham Haines and Patrick Kelly. The Magistrates, who described the men as a pair of desperate vagabonds, committed them to gaol for one month of hard labour.
The licence of the Old Guy Inn was transferred from George Froggatt to Henry Brookbanks on Thursday October 4th 1866. In the following year's trade directory there is a George Froggatt at the Spread Eagle at Acock's Green but, as yet, I have not established if this is the same publican. More certain, is that his successor, Henry Brookbanks, was already a licensed victualler when he married Eliza Deeley in September 1866. This could have been at the Old Guy whilst waiting for the next Brewster sessions. Born locally in 1842, the publican was the son of James and Elizabeth Brookbanks who operated a grocery and provisions shop in Palmer Street at Deritend. I believe that this family moved to the United States not long after leaving the Old Guy Inn. The licence was transferred to the suitably-named James Wort on August 5th 1869.
James Wort had only been in charge of the Old Guy Inn for a matter of days when he was brought before the magistrates on a charge of opening during illegal hours. The Bench found the publican guilty and he was fined 5 shillings and costs. He didn't last long at the pub and the licence changed hands yet again on April 7th 1870, the next incumbent being Thomas Wells Gould. The Manchester-born publican kept the Old Guy Inn with his wife Eleanor who was a Brummie. He had earlier been a retail brewer at the General Wyndham in Bissell Street and immediately prior to taking over at Digbeth, had kept the Traveller's Rest. Given this background, it is possible that he maintained a homebrewing tradtion at the Old Guy Inn.
Thomas Gould did not stay long, neither did William Wright who came and went in a flash. The above sale notice somehow attracted the attention of Abraham Hardy who took over the helm and secured the licence on Thursday August 3rd 1871. He lasted a little longer and remained until 1874 when he took over the Eagle Tavern on Farm Street in Hockley. Somehow he had survived a creditors' meeting in August 1873 when it was found that he had debts of £614.
By now the Old Guy Inn had been run by a ridiculous number of licensees. All that changed when the Griffiths family took over the business. The licence of the house was transferred from Abraham Hardy to Henry Griffiths on Thursday May 7th 1874 and, at last, some stability and indeed prosperity was established at the Old Guy Inn.
Henry Griffiths, along with his wife Hannah, had previously kept the Turk's Head in Lichfield Street and were taken to court by their successor, Henry Getley, who claimed he had been charged too much for the goodwill and fixtures of the beer house. The Judge found in favour of the claimant so Henry and Hannah Griffiths were forced to repay £49. 19s. to Henry Getley.
Born in Birmingham in 1831, Henry Griffiths was a carpenter turned retail brewer. His wife Hannah hailed from Ludlow in Shropshire. The couple applied for a music licence for the Old Guy and, in August 1876, were successful in gaining a licence for Tuesday and Thursday evenings. They also commissioned the architect Henry Holmes to draw up plans to improve the building. I am not sure if this included any rebuilding work or if it simply updated the older fabric.
Henry Griffiths died in 1877 and the licence of the Old Guy Inn passed to his wife Hannah. She was helped by daughter Selina and sons Thomas and John. She may have had a wobble in the early 1880s as the lease of the pub, which still had 14 years to run, was advertised in February 1883. However, as can be seen, she remained at the Old Guy for many more years. Her son Thomas Griffiths assumed the role of brewer and her daughters Selina and Harriet continued to work behind the bar.
When not helping their mother at the Old Guy Inn, Thomas and John Griffiths launched themselves as sporting promoters. One of the events that they organised was a Woman's Walking Contest at Bingley Hall. However, this was not without controversy and, through a newspaper article, had to assure the public that the dress code of the participants would not be an affront to decency! After the event the press remarked that the ladies were all dressed with scrupulous neatness.
A total of fifteen women competed in the six-day event in which competitors walked for up to ten hours per day. It took eleven laps of the hall to complete one mile. A good crowd cheered them on and two bands played music alternately. The local woman, a young Miss Adelaide Richards, surprised everyone by upstaging some of the outstanding pedestrians of the day. At the end of the first day, battling with Mrs. Graham, who competed under the rather beguiling name of Miss Vampiere, she recorded 42 miles and 8 laps. The promoters, Thomas and John Griffiths, offered a first prize of £10, along with the championship belt of the world [valued at 30 guineas]. The second prize was £20 and third was £10. At the end of the six-day event Adelaide Richards won the event after walking 208 miles and 9 laps.
The World Championship belt put up by Thomas and John Griffiths could only be retained if a successful defence of the title was made. But there was the rub .... it would appear that the brothers did not make as much money as they had hoped. The fee for Bingley Hall was probably a fair whack, then there were the officials and staffing, advertising, general expenses, not to mention two bands of musicians. I assume income was generated by ticket sales and patronage once spectators were inside the venue. It was not until May 1890 that the winner, Adelaide Richards, and her father, John Henry Richards, of Moseley Street, professional athletes, brought a court action against John Griffiths, then of the Star Tavern in Summer Lane, and Thomas Griffiths of the Old Guy Inn. Adelaide Richards sought to recover £20, the balance of the prize money she won in the walking competition, along with the delivery of the championship belt or £25., its value. Mr. Dorsett [instructed by the Richards family] told the judge that the belt was not to become her property until she won it twice in succession. He added that, although Adelaide Miss Richards won the first prize, Thomas and John Griffiths refused to pay more than £16. 10s. and the brothers had not staged another competition so that she could compete again for the belt. She had waited nearly six years before bringing the action in order to give the brothers the opportunity of organising a second competition. Judge Chalmers ruled that she could not claim the belt, though he recognised that she had been treated badly by the brothers. He did, however, find in her favour for financial compensation and ordered the Griffiths family to pay her £23. Combined with the earlier case of overcharging for the goodwill of the Turk's Head, this case seems to indicate that the Griffiths family were rather roguish.
Hannah Griffiths was also involved with sporting events in that she was awarded the sole refreshment contract at Hall Green Races in May 1886. The contract meant that only she was able to sell ales, wines and spirits at the races, apart from what was sold in the grandstand. She also had two profitable booths at Lichfield Races. Hannah Griffiths also operated outdoor bars at events such as the Annual Flower Show at Castle Bromwich.
Meanwhile back at HQ, the Old Guy Inn, the music and entertainment for which Hannah and Henry Griffiths submitted a licence application in 1876, a music hall was flourishing. Hannah Griffiths booked some rather bizarre acts to appear at the Old Guy Music Hall. For example, in October 1887 the bill included Captain Dan Fisher, "the Great American Tattooed Man, Club Performer and Juggler, the greatest novelty travelling who was appearing at the Old Guy with immense success."
Hannah Griffiths was certainly ambitious. In August 1890 she sought a provisional full licence to premises that were about to be constructed on a piece of land in Coventry Road, opposite Golden Hillock Road. Mr. Ansell supported the application, and said that it was desired to erect a commodious suburban hotel. A similar application had been made in the previous year with the Rev. N. M. Hennessey presenting a memorial against both Griffiths and Ansell. He collected the signatures of ratepayers within two hundred yards of Muntz Street who stated that the additional accommodation was not required and any licence issued would devalue their locality. Mr. J. W. Wise, of Victoria Street Baptist Chapel, also presented a petition against the granting of the licence. The Justices refused the application. Of course, a licence was eventually granted as this was the location of the 'new' Malt Shovel. I know that at least seven applications was made for a full licence here.
The Old Guy must have drawn a fair audience when the man who claimed to be Sir Roger Tichborne had a month-long run at the house. The above advertisement shows that he had quite a demanding schedule with three lectures per day. Hannah Griffiths was clearly determined to get her money's worth! This was the man who caused a sensation in the Victorian era when he claimed to be the missing heir to the Tichborne baronetcy. However, although he was accepted by Lady Tichborne as her son, he was subsequently exposed as a fraud. Arthur Orton was found guilty of perjury and served a lengthy prison sentence. It is quite a story and you can click here to read more juicy details. His appearance at the Old Guy was, it has to said, at a period when mass interest had waned somewhat. He had divorced his wife an married Lily Enever, a music hall singer. He enjoyed a celebrity lifestyle while it lasted but ultimately died destitute in 1898, ironically on April Fool's Day.
The Old Guy became something of a focal point for freak shows at the end of the Victorian era. I suppose Hannah Griffiths was aiming for a niche in the hectic theatre and music hall market. Dating from July 1891, the above advertisement is for one of the less grisly or macabre shows at the house.
Hannah Griffiths was still running the Old Guy when in her 80s. She died in October 1911 and, as can be seen from her will, she left a decent amount in her estate. She had been a tenant of the Old Guy which I note from Edwardian rate books was owned by Avery's. Only a few publicans warranted a column in the local newspapers when they passed away. However, when Hannah Griffiths died, the Birmingham Mail reported that "Birmingham has known few more remarkable women than Mrs. Hannah Griffiths, Birmingham's oldest licensed victualler, whose death took place at the Old Guy Inn, Digbeth. To the older generation the name of Mrs. Griffiths, who had attained the ripe old age of 82, was well known as that of a woman who had all the instincts and much of the ability of the great Barnum. She was a show-woman in the truest sense of the word, and made her house one of the attractions of Birmingham, not only to the people of this city, but to the visitors who came here from the surrounding districts. The novelties she introduced were many and remarkable. It was at the Old Guy that the notorious Tichborne claimant was on view, where he was engaged for a period at £10 a week, and Mrs. Griffiths was also responsible for the appearance in Birmingham of the two-headed Nightingales, a couple of females joined together somewhat after the style of Siamese twins. One of the deceased lady's greatest achievements was the organisation of a female walking race at Bingley Hall, in March, 1884. The competition extended over six days, and was won by a Miss Richards, of Birmingham, who covered 203 miles. It was estimated that upwards of 20,000 persons were present on the closing night. Among the many trophies held by Mrs. Griffiths was a handsome silver cup, presented to her by the Lichfield Race Committee and other gentlemen connected with the Turf, in 1894, in mark of their esteem and appreciation of twenty-five years' continuous connection with the course. The lady also boasted that she had held over 400 special licenses in Birmingham under three different Chief Constables, and was awarded the prizes offered by a local newspaper for the most popular in Birmingham, no fewer than 6,000 votes being recorded in her favour. She was a well-known figure at most of the local race meetings, as caterer, and had not been absent from the Hall Green course for upwards of a quarter of a century. She was in many other respects a remarkable woman, with a peculiarly dominating personality."
I guess one could say that was a tough act to follow. However, the task fell to Albert Yates, a former gold and silver chaser who kept the Old Guy with his wife Charlotte. However, their stay was brief and they were succeeded by Albert and Emma Rose. The couple worked for Dare's Brewery Limited and moved from the company's off licence at 161 Montgomery Street, Sparkbrook, to the Old Guy which was also a Dare's-operated house by this stage. Albert Rose was born in 1872 at Wolverton in Buckinghamshire but Emma hailed from Wolverhampton. They met because Albert's parents had moved to Wolverhampton in the late 19th century. They married in July 1897.
In March 1933 the Justices gave sanction for the removal of the publican's licence from the Old Guy, Digbeth, to the Compasses [beer and wine on] in Broad Street. Mr. Douglas Jenkins, who made the application on behalf of Dare's Brewery Ltd., explained that "it was proposed to equip the Compasses with modern electrical equipment for the provision of meals and special snacks, and to re-name the premises "The Hungry Man." The application was opposed by Mr. A. J. Long on behalf of the Crown and The Woodman licensed houses, and by Mr. H. Willison on behalf of Showell's Brewery. However, in the following month the Justices, after a lengthy hearing, confirmed the grant to Dare's Brewery Ltd. The Old Guy Inn closed on November 19th 1933, a sad end to one of Digbeth's more illustrious houses.
"About two o'clock on Wednesday morning last, Mr. and Mrs. Farmer, general dealers, Oxford Street, were aroused by a loud crash proceeding
from the lower part of the premises. Mr. Farmer immediately got out of bed, and going the top of the stairs, inquired who was there, but received no answer. Meanwhile Mrs.
Farmer, who had opened the window, saw a man in dark clothes run directly away from the house and make off. Shortly afterwards she observed a man, whom she directly knew to
be an idle character, and always loitering about the street, named Thomas Walters, who got clear away, leaving a cap which he was accustomed to wearing, behind him. Walters
then proceeded to the Old Guy, Digbeth, which was open, and partook of some ale, and afterwards left the house. Next morning he was seen in Digbeth by Mr. Farmer, and
immediately collared, at that time without a hat. It was then discovered that the cap which was left behind belonged to him, and he was given into the custody of Detective
Officer Rafferty. He was brought up at the Public Office on Wednesday, Dr. Melson and C. Shaw, Esq., being upon the Bench, when the above facts came out in evidence, and
the case being clearly proved, he was committed to take his trial at the assizes."
"Burglary in Oxford Street"
Birmingham Journal : August 12th 1848 Page 5.
"Thomas Taylor, 23, filer, was charged with stealing a coat, the property of John Gibbs, a retail brewer. It was shown by the evidence that
on the evening of the 6th July last, prosecutor went to the Guy Tavern, Digbeth, to have a game at skittles. He hung his coat up at one end of the alley, and soon after
missed it. Two respectable witnesses deposed to seeing the prisoner take the garment away, and when he returned to the alley, which he did, the coat did not, nor has it
since been seen. Superintendent Norton, in consequence of information received, went to the alley, and subsequently caught Taylor as he was running along the gullet
leading from Bradford Street. The prisoner called a man, a file-iron maker, who formerly employed him, and this person gave him a rather odd but good character. The
jury at once returned a verdict of guilty, and the prisoner was sentenced to five months' imprisonment."
"Stealing From a Bowling Alley"
Birmingham Journal : October 29th 1859 Page 10.
"John Jones, 26, wood turner, was charged with stealing a watch, the property of Thomas Harrow. Mr. Motteram prosecuted, and Mr. Elers
defended the prisoner. The case for the prosecution rested on the evidence of two witnesses. The prosecutor stated that he fell asleep in the Old Guy public house,
Digbeth, on the 14th of October last, having previously ascertained that his watch was safe in his pocket. On awakening he went into the yard, and in a few minutes
returned into the house, when he discovered that his watch was gone. Police Constable Evans stated that he saw the prisoner on the 27th of October in the act of
pledging the watch at the shop of Mrs. Timmis, pawnbroker, Coleshill Street. Mr. Elers having addressed the Jury, called Mr. Collier, wood-turner, Coventry Street,
who stated that the prisoner was apprenticed to him ten years ago, and had worked for him up to the time his place was burnt down in September last. He had always
found the prisoner honest. The prisoner was found guilty on a second count in the indictment, charging him with receiving the goods knowing them to have been stolen.
Inspector Spokes having stated, in answer to questions from the Recorder, that the prisoner was a known associate of thieves, the prisoner was sentenced to three
years' penal servitude."
"Charge of Stealing a Watch"
Birmingham Daily Post : January 10th 1860 Page 3.
"Abraham Haines, Oxford Street, engine-fitter, and Patrick Kelly, Trent Street, metal roller, were brought up on the charge of
perpetrating a series of outrages at the house of Mr. George Froggatt, the Old Guy, Digbeth. Mr. Froggatt stated that about eleven o'clock on the preceding night
the prisoners came to his bar, and had two glasses of ale, for which they paid. They then called for more, and refused to pay for it. Mr. Jakeman, landlord of the
Minerva Tavern, Bordesley Street, with his wife, happened to be at the bar, and the former observed to the latter that the accused were at their old game again -
referring to a similar occurrence with them at his own house, about a month before. Kelly overheard the remark, and instantly struck Mr. Jakeman a violent blow, which
knocked him down, and then both ruffians began kicking him. Mr. Froggatt went to his aid, and was assaulted by the vagabonds, one of whom, Haines, pursued him into the
private bar, tried to strangle him, and smashed his watch. Police Constables Keefe and Harrison were called in, and were also assaulted by the ruffians, whom it required
five constables to secure. Even after being handcuffed, Haines kicked Mr. Jakeman in a vital part of his person. The Magistrates said they were a pair of desperate
vagabonds, and committed them for one month to hard labour, in default of paying a penalty of 20s. each, with the costs."
"A Brace of Desperadoes"
Aris's Birmingham Gazette : August 16th 1862 Page 7.
"William Price , brassfounder; Richard Parker , butcher; and John Jarvis , plane maker, were
indicted for having on October 10th feloniously robbed Thomas Meredith of 7s. 6d., with personal violence. The prisoners were further charged with maliciously wounding
the prosecutor with intent do him grievous bodily harm. Mr. Stubbins prosecuted, Mr. Harris defended Price, Mr. Daniell appeared for Parker, and Mr. Lloyd for Jarvis.
The prosecutor stated that he lived in Hicks Street, Birmingham, and about half-past eleven on the night of October 10th he was passing down towards Rea Street. He
had previously been drinking in Clements's public house, but was not drunk. He was turning the corner of Rea Street, when he was attacked by three men, who knocked
him down and commenced kicking him. They continued to assault him until he was insensible, and when he recovered he found himself lying in a cab on his way to the
Queen's Hospital. He sustained some very severe injuries; he had four cuts on the head, one in the cheek, and three of his teeth were knocked out. He had three
half-crowns in his possession before he was assaulted, but when he searched for them afterwards he found that they had been stolen from him. John Ridgway, a young
man in the employ of Mr. Griffin, horse dealer, of Rea Street, deposed to seeing the prosecutor lying on the ground and Price jumping on him, and the other prisoners
kicking him. He and his master were then standing at the entrance to the stables. He afterwards saw the prisoners leave Meredith on the ground and go some distance up
Rea Street. Shortly afterwards they returned to where the prosecutor lay, and Jarvis kicked him again on the temple. Witness's employer then asked him to go to the
police station for assistance, and when he came back the prisoners had carried the prosecutor round the corner. The prisoners were afterwards arrested by the police. Mr.
Thomas Griffin, cab proprietor, gave evidence corroborative of that of the last witness. He said that when he saw prisoners kicking the prosecutor he thought at first it
was a "dummy" from the tailor's shop at the corner that they were kicking. When he got a few yards nearer he saw the prosecutor's legs. There were four
men engaged in the attack upon the prosecutor, but one of them made off. As he walked up to the spot where the prosecutor lay the three prisoners left him [the
prosecutor] and walked up Rea Street. As they passed witness he had opportunity of identifying them. He swore positively that the prisoners kicked the prosecutor.
He did not see them strike him; they were all engaged in kicking him. In reply Mr. Daniell, witness said the reason he did not up to the prisoners and remonstrate
with them for what they had done was because no one's life in Birmingham would be safe if he did such a thing. His Lordship said he supposed the remark was not
intended to apply to the whole of Birmingham, but some particular districts. Alfred Mansell, beer house keeper, of Rea Street, said as he was closing his house on the
night of the occurrence he saw a man being kicked on the opposite side of the road by three men. The night was dark, and he could not discern the men who were kicking
the man on the ground. He went over to the place, and the men went up Rea Street. The man who was being kicked lay "curled up" and seemed to be bleeding badly.
In reply to Mr. Harris, witness said before the magistrates he stated that he saw but two men kicking the prosecutor, and a third man standing by. In answer to the Judge,
witness said he was sure that the three men who walked up Rea Street were the men who were standing by the prosecutor and kicking him. Charles Cranmer, hackney carriage
driver, of Willis Street, Birmingham, swore seeing four men standing over the prosecutor kicking him, but he was unable to identify them. Defective Sergeant Timmins said
on the night of October 10th, about eleven o'clock, he saw the three prisoners near the Old Guy, Digbeth. He heard them as he passed by use bad language, and told
them they had better get away. Price used some further bad language to witness, and the other prisoners led him away in the direction of Rea Street. Since then witness
had seen Jarvis at the Borough Gaol. Witness was ordered by the Chief Superintendent to attend there at Jarvis's request. Jarvis then made a statement to witness,
which was taken down him in writing, and afterwards signed by the prisoner. The statement was to the effect that about half-past ten o'clock on the night of
October 10th [Jarvis] and the other two prisoners went into the Old Guy public house together. They left at closing time, and walked down Digbeth. He [Jarvis]
went up Avery's Passage to look for a closet, and was there about ten minutes. When he came down again the other prisoners had gone on, and he followed them in the
direction of Rea Street. When he got to the corner of Rea Street he saw a man lying on the floor bleeding from his head, and Parker kicked him on the forehead twice. He
[Jarvis] said "Don't do that," and he stepped over the man and pushed Parker away. The other men then came up. Turning the corner of Rea Street he
saw Price stumbling against the clothier's shop, near where the man was lying. He [Jarvis] then assisted to take the man up, and the other men led him up to
Dr. Gibb's back door, when the man who was assaulted was ordered to be taken to the hospital. When he came from the back of the doctor's shop he saw the other
prisoners talking to two policemen. He joined them, and while they were talking together another officer came up, and they were all taken to the station. The next
morning Parker had some blood on his toe, and wiped it off. He [Jarvis] said to Parker, "Who knocked the man down last night?" Parker said, "I
did it myself; I am sorry for you, as you are innocent; but I will tell the magistrates that tomorrow." Police Constable Bird said as he taking the prisoner
Price into custody he noticed him trying to pass some money to a man named Wallis, who was a mussel-vendor, but witness prevented it. At the lock-up, when he was
being searched, Price again tried to pass the money. Witness found a sovereign and six half-crowns upon him. Witness was asked to produce the half-crowns, but
said he could not do so, as he gave them in at the police office, and he supposed they were yet. Mr. Stubbins said he intended to have them produced in evidence, as the
prosecutor knew that two of them were of the reign of one the Georges. In reply to the Judge, the officer said he did not know that the coins would be required, and he
could not describe them. His Lordship said it was piece of stupid carelessness that the half-crowns were not produced. Mr. Harris said it was very rare indeed that
the Birmingham police made such a mistake. The officer, Bird, in answer to Mr. Harris, said that when at the lock-up Price said the money found upon him was his
wife's, and he expressed a wish that it should be taken to her. Mr. Harris, on behalf of Price, produced a beer house keeper, who lives in Barford Street, who stated
that about nine o'clock on the night of October 10th Price called in at his house and asked for a bottle of porter, tendering a sovereign in payment. Witness gave him
seven half-crowns, a two-shilling piece, and some coppers in change. Mr. Harris then submitted that the charge of felony had failed. His Lordship put it to the
jury whether they considered that the charge of felony could be sustained, and a negative answer being returned, the prisoners were acquitted on the charge of robbery
with violence. It was arranged to take the second charge of wounding with intent do grievous bodily harm the first thing this morning."
"The Brutal Outrage in Digbeth"
Birmingham Daily Gazette : November 13th 1877 Page 8.
"Richard Joyce , Meriden Street, was charged with stealing half a sovereign belonging to Emily Green, Oxford Street. On the
previous evening prosecutrix met the prisoner outside the Old Guy Inn, Digbeth, and she told she was going to change half a sovereign. He volunteered to change it for
her, and she accordingly entrusted him with the money. He appropriated it, spending it in drink, and when subsequently taxed by Police Sergeant Benson with the theft
he made charges of impropriety against her, and said she owed him 15s. He pleaded guilty, and was sent to gaol for one month."
Birmingham Daily Post : January 16th 1878 Page 7.
"James Hodgetts , brassfounder, on bail, was indicted for having on the 27th of April unlawfully and maliciously wounded
Wallace Coates. Mr. Stubbins prosecuted. Prisoner, Coates, and several other lads had been together at the Old Guy Inn, Digbeth. After they left they went along Moor
Street, and when near the bridge at the end of Carr's Lane prisoner is stated to have stabbed the prosecutor, with whom he had just been quarrelling. Mr. E. B.
Wilkins, Metropolitan Free Hospital, London, said that whilst he was house surgeon at the Queen's Hospital he attended Coates who became an inmate of the
institution for three weeks. The prosecutor had received an incised wound in the inner side of the leg, about three inches deep. He had also an incised wound on the
right thumb. The cut in the leg was dangerous. A branch of the main artery had been injured. The case was not concluded when the Court adjourned."
"Charge of Stabbing"
Birmingham Daily Post : June 28th 1878 Page 7.
"On Saturday afternoon there was a gathering of stonebreakers in corporation employment at the Old Guy, Digbeth. Mr. Stretch [one of the
workmen[ presided, and proposed the following resolution - "That the Birmingham Corporation stonebreakers desire to express satisfaction with their
present working conditions, and herewith tender their thanks to the Public Works Committee, and also to the city surveyor and the road surveyor, for the concessions and
advantages which have been given to the Corporation stonebreakers." He expressed the hope that everyone present would be careful to give their thanks practical shape
by steady and conscientious everyday work. The motion was seconded by Mr. Burke, and unanimously carried. Councillor Granger and Mr. Buckland [of the Typographical
Society] also shortly addressed the meeting."
Birmingham Daily Post : April 18th 1892 Page 4.
"An exciting scene occurred this afternoon in the neighbourhood of the Old Guy public house, Digbeth, which led the capture by the police
of a man named Thomas Morgan, a brasscaster, of 3, Ryland Terrace, Stanhope Street. The story, as related to a representative of the Mail, was a remarkable one. The
licensee of the Old Guy, an elderly lady named Mrs. Hannah Griffiths, it seems, was engaged in domestic duties at the back of the house about three o'clock in the
afternoon, when she heard a strange noise in the bedroom overhead. Knowing at the time that there was no one belonging to the house in the room, she ran out into the
bar and told her daughter that she believed someone was in the back bedroom. The two women, taking courage from each other's company, stole softly upstairs, and
listened for a few moments outside the bedroom door, which was closed. They heard the sounds of a person moving about inside. When the clink of cash and jewellery was
distinctly heard, Mrs. Griffiths and her daughter opened the door suddenly, and strode boldly into the room. The first thing they saw was a man stooping down and
filling his pockets with several knick-knacks out of the room. Mrs. Griffiths ran towards him, but, standing a bay, he is said to have attacked her with his fists,
dealing her several blows, which sent her staggering back into the arms of her daughter. Taking advantage of the situation the intruder sprang the window and disappeared
below. Recovering immediately from the shock and fright, the landlady ran downstairs with her daughter, crying "Thieves! thieves!" The cry was at once
taken up by those who were drinking in the bar. A dash was made for the street, and a constable at once informed of the occurrence. Police Constable Turland caught sight
of the fugitive fleeing down Mill Street. He gave rapid chase, but the man was a nimble runner, and presently disappeared from sight. Divining what had become of him,
however, the officer ran into the bar of the Anchor public house, where he saw the fugitive lurking in one of the corners. He was immediately arrested, but made
determined resistance, struggling hard to regain his liberty. So violent were his struggles that the landlord of the Anchor was requisitioned to hold down the man while
the handcuffs were slipped on. It was with some trouble that Morgan was got to Moor Street Police Station, where he continued defiant behind the bars of the temporary
cell. It seems that Morgan had been drinking in the bar with two other men earlier in the day, and it is conjectured he thus got a knowledge of the plan of the house.
His means of entrance were ingenious. Making his way to the back of the premises, he piled up a number of old baskets against the wall and, scaling these, reached the
back bedroom window, easily getting into the room. The latter was found in great disorder. Several parts of the room had been turned out, and a pile of articles had been
made up ready for taking away. A search of the man's pockets disclosed that he had been successful in securing a packet of money amounting to 6s. 7d., sixteen pocket
handkerchiefs, two pairs of spectacles, three old cameo brooches, a razor, a pair of scissors, two sets of false teeth, an elastic stocking, two bags of brass checks, a
bag labelled "copper," and several other small articles. This miscellany he had stowed away in his pockets and in the lining of his coat. Our representative
learned that Mrs. Griffiths had not been seriously injured by the alarming encounter."
"Exciting Scene in Digbeth"
Birmingham Mail : October 10th 1906 Page 3.