Not a smiling matter
Do you have any ancestors who ran into trouble with the law or did anything rebellious? Chances are good you will find at least one in your family tree! One of my favorite stories appeared in the Northern Whig and Belfast Post on Wednesday, September 2, 1931. The subject of the article, Boyd Hawkins, was a younger brother of my Great Grandmother, Mary Jane McDonald.
Boyd Hawkins was born in Blackhill, Co. Antrim on June 27, 1908 and was the fourth of seven children born to Thomas Hawkins and Mary Jane (Gillis). According to British merchant seamen records, Boyd had worked as a Stoker on board cable ships, and probably went to sea at a young age. At the time the article below was written, Boyd Hawkins would have been twenty-three years old. It had probably been a difficult year for Boyd as his mother had passed away just nine monthly previously.
Northern Whig and Belfast Post (September 2, 1931)
The article paints a picture of Boyd riding his brother’s motorcycle carrying two female passengers and without proper insurance. Two years later, Boyd would mary Elizabeth Howie Marshall. Had Elizabeth been one of the two girls on the motorcycle? We may never know as the details around this event have likely been lost to time.
The magistrate obviously hadn’t been impressed as he said Boyd was lucky he didn’t get three months. Did he mean three months in prison? The article doesn’t say. The magistrate also seems to have taken issue with Boyd’s reaction to the verdict, and decided to fine Boyd’s older brother Thomas as well. I wonder how Thomas reacted to hearing this news! The fines weren’t large sums of money, but probably served as a deterrent against future offenses.
Sites like FindMyPast allow you to search petty session and prison records which can reveal amazing details about your ancestors. The British Newspaper Archive is also well worth a look as articles like the one above can reveal personal details about our ancestors not found in other sources.
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