First a heartwarming story of philanthropy:
"Terling Colonel Strutt's Benevolence. Although Col. has been living at Bath upwards two years in consequence of ill health, he is continually doing good amongst the poor of this parish. the November in every year (being Col. Strutt's birthday) a number of blankets are delivered out on loan to the poor children during the winter months; and bread has been distributed to fifteen families every Sunday morning regularly for the last two years, taking the families alphabetically. Lately the Colonel ordered two shillings and sixpence to be given to each aged person on the first of every month, which has been continued, and besides this several infirm persons receive weekly allowances, &c.- On Christmas eve there was distributed Col. Strutt's annual gift to the poor: two bullocks, five sacks of flour baked into half peck loaves, and flannel to the widows; in addition to which this year a large sum of money was also distributed amongst them in silver, many reiceiving as much five shillings each family. Besides this Col. Strutt ordered breakfast on Christmas day at the White Hart Inn, Terling. which was provided by Mr. Smith, the landlord, for the ringers, and also a good hot dinner at five o'clock of roast beef, plum pudding, &c. and a plentiful supply of old Christmas ale, for the tradesmen and of this this parish."
Chelmsford Chronicle - Friday 29 December 1843, page 3.
Now a typical tale of drunkenness:
"William Francis, a labourer, of Purleigh, was on Monday last charged before Joseph Pattisson, Esq. by police constable (41) Smith, with being drunk and disorderly, on Saturday night, about twelve o'clock, in Purleigh street. It appeared that a party had been making free with Mr. Harris's old Christmas ale, at the Bell public-house, and a quarrel arising in the house they were put into the street. A pugilistic combat followed, on which the police interfered, but Francis refused to leave, abused the police, and was eventually lodged in the cage. Dr. Baker, however, spoke highly of his previous character, in consideration of which he was discharged, on paving 8s. dd. expenses.
Chelmsford Chronicle - Friday 06 January 1843, page 3."
Finally something much mastier:
"AFFRAY WITH POACHERS. At a late hour on Monday night last, two gamekeepers in the employ of Mr. Wilton Harlingscone, of Fell wood Hall, near Strunfield, were returning to their homes from the hall, where they had been partaking of their worthy master's hospitality. On arriving at a secluded lot of plantations called the "Dells" they came suddenly upon a party of four men- three ef whom had guns, whilst the fourth carried a large and apparently well-filled sack. On perceiving the game, keepers the three men presented their guns, and warned the others to keep off, at the same time calling to the man who carried the sack to lun, upon which he immediately made off with his burden. One of the keepers then called out, as though they had assistance at hand, " Here they are, come on my lads," when the poachers, thinking, doubtless, that a strong party was upon them, turned and retreated with all possible expedition, closely followed by the keepers, who being strong, active fellows, and moreover somewhat elevated by the liberal quantity of old Christmas ale they had been imbibing, dashed after the poachers, shouting at the top of their voices, and haviug no other weapons save a couple of stout cudgels. After a chase of several hundred yards the keepers succeeded in overtaking the man who carried the sack, whom they seized, upon which the man shouted to his companions for assistance, calling out that there were but two of them, meaning the keepers, and one of the poachers returned to the spot, and presenting his gun swore that he would blow the keepers' brains out if they did not instantly quit their hold of tbe captured man ; but tbe keepers, thrusting the fellow they held before them so as to cover themselves from the effects of the poacher's fire, told him to fire away and shoot his confederate. The man then dropped the muzzle of his piece, and, clubbing the firearm, dealt the keeper nearest him a heavy blow with tbe but-end, which, lighting on the back of the other's neck, brought him to the ground. Upon this the other keeper quitted the grasp on the man he held, and springing on the poacher with the gun, seized him round the waist whilst in the act of aiming a blow at him (the keeper), and threw him down. The gun exploded in the fall, and part of the contents lodged in the poacher's back, upon which the wounded man calling out that he was shot, his companion immediately took to flight. The keeper who had been struck down recovered, and as no further attempt at attack or rescue was made, the two keepers carried the wounded man between them to the nearest habitation, and sent off for medical advice, the man complained of great pain from his wound. It was nearly two hours before a surgeon could be procured, and it was then ascertained that the spine was severely shattered by the shot. He remains in a very precarious state. The poachers were probably aware of the " merry-making" at the hall, and calculated on the absence of the keepers. Upwards of 30 head of game were found in the sack."
London Standard - Thursday 30 December 1841, page 4.
I really should get on with mylife rather than spending my evening looking for refeerences to Christmas Ale.