Saturday, 11 June 2016

The Jones Family Part V: The Long Arm of the Law and The Blenheim.

I have previously mentioned that the Jones family ran the Blenheim hotel in Adelaide, South Australia from 1855 to 1859. Pubs are eventful places not only as meeting spots and entertainment venues but they can also have their fair share of crime. The Blenheim was no exception.  There are many accounts of Thomas in court dealing with small crimes and bar room fisticuffs.

Sketch of Hindley Street by Rev. Theodore Percival Wilson.
 SLSA PRG 1399/122/1


On the 24th of July 1855 Thomas Rowlands Jones was charged by Inspector Reid (I assume the same Inspector Reid mentioned in Part III) with not closing the outer doors to the Blenheim Hotel after 10pm. There were police reports of people coming and going after 12am, the sound of liquor being served and money was being collected even at 4am. The fine was £2. Thomas appealed to the Local Court with the argument that technically he had closed his doors at 10pm and had not re-opened the doors until after 12 am, which would have been the morning of the 25th and so the next day. Sadly he lost his appeal, but the fine was kept at a token £2.


In the morning of the 25th January 1856 at around a quarter to 7, Thomas R Jones and Thomas Donkin Chisholm left together to bathe at the City Baths. Back in the days before running water and bathrooms, people who could afford it would wash in public bathhouses. Before they left Thomas Jones left a couple of £5 notes under a book on his dressing table taking only small change to pay for his bath.
Thomas Chisholm who had been staying at the Blenheim with his wife and child for a couple of months, went upstairs on his return. Thomas Jones had said that he could borrow books from his bedroom. When our Thomas went upstairs to dress, to his dismay he found that the two £5 notes had gone. When Thomas asked Chisholm’s wife where he was, she told him that he had gone out to get his shoes repaired. When Chisholm had not returned by 11am Thomas became suspicious and decided to ask around at the Livery stables to see if anyone had seen him.  Chisholm had hired a horse and gig from William Rounsevell  a highly successful stage coach company owner. The gig was hired to drive to Mt Barker and a driver to return the carriage as he “did not know that he should return”, but hoped to be back to see the “show” (possibly the flower show).  The gentlemen became concerned that Chisholm may have bolted with the horse and gig. Mr Rounsevell sent his son John off to chase Chisholm. Thomas Jones followed, bringing Police Constable Clark with him. When they got to Mt Barker they learned that Chisholm had “made haste” on to Strathalbyn. Constable Clark and John Rounsevell continued the chase. The journey from Hindley Street Adelaide to Strathalbyn these days only takes about an hour by car, but I imagine that in the 1850s it would have taken hours in a horse and gig on rough roads. 

Detail from a sketch of Hindley Street by Rev. Theodore Percival Wilson.
 SLSA PRG 1399/122/1

It was dark when they arrived at Strathalbyn, but they managed to spot the horse and gig and then saw Chisholm standing in the doorway of an Inn.  John Rounsevell in disguise followed Chisholm and managed to strike up a conversation. Chisholm referred to the horse and gig as though it was his own. Rounsevell heard that he planned to go on to Wellington, New Zealand. Constable Clark then arrested Chisholm and when asked where he was headed, Chisholm replied “Port Elliot”. When he was searched he had only Melbourne notes totalling £10, 10 sovereigns, and some silver. There was no sign of the missing £5 notes.

A Dishonorable Namesake

I am sure John Rounsevell would have made his father proud and relieved when he returned home with the horse and gig. John later became a pastoralist and politician elected to the South Australian House of Assembly in 1865 and served on the Adelaide City Council.
When Thomas Jones returned to the Blenheim more of Chisholm’s deception was revealed. Frederick William Lindrum a billard marker (a person who keeps score on billiard matches and helps run the table rooms) working at the Blenheim knew Thomas Donkin Chisholm as Captain Chisholm. Captain Chisholm had claimed that his pocket book had gone missing containing £9. Over time “Captain” Chisholm had borrowed different sums of money from Mr Lindrum totalling £38 10s, promising to pay it back when his money came in on the White Swan steamer from Melbourne. A portion of the money had been requested to buy apples to send to Melbourne. Of course, the borrowed money had not been repaid. 
As an aside Frederick William Lindrum went on to be a very famous name in Billiards, he eventually ran his own billiards hall and won against a visiting world champion.  Two of his sons were considered billiards prodigies and he devoted his time to training them. Several grandchildren were also world class players. His grandson Walter Lindrum was considered the “best player ever seen” in the 1930s and is considered one of Australia’s all time sporting greats. You can read more here:

Walter Lindrum, 1932. "The Daily Standard"

There was also the matter of Thomas Donkin Chisholm’s bill at the Blenheim. Over his stay, his bill had come to total £88 13s 8d. Thomas R Jones had received a cheque for £70 10s from Chisholm and had deposited it at his bank. The cheque was eventually dishonoured. It was for a bank called the “Union Bank of Victoria”. Jones’ bank did not have a listing for a bank of that name, but they could not be certain with so many new banks opening in Melbourne. The cheque was sent by steamer to Melbourne to hopefully be cashed. There was not a Union Bank of Victoria in existence, and neither of the similar sounding banks named “Union Bank of Australasia” or the “Bank of Victoria” had an account in Thomas Chisholm’s name.
At first the case was heard at the Police Court in Adelaide. Poor Mr Lindrum was laughed at for lending so much money to buy apples, and that it could not be proved that Chisholm had not bought apples. The Police court also heard the matters of the missing notes, the stolen horse and gig and the dishonoured cheque, with the hearing going over a number of days. The lawyer for Mr Chisholm asked for the money found on his client be released for his wife and child, who had no other means of support and were dependent on “Mr Jones’s kindness”. The court rejected the request. Thomas Jones stepped forward promising that “they should not want”. On the 4th of March Thomas Donkin Chisholm was committed to gaol for Larceny in a dwelling house, until the matter could be seen at the Supreme Court.
The trial went to the Supreme Court in May. In the matter of the missing £5 notes from Thomas Jones dressing table, the case was made that it could have been stolen by any number of people. The bedroom adjoined the breakfast room where other lodgers could have easily taken the money and there were around 8 servants who could have taken the money without anyone noticing. As the money was not found on Mr Chisholm there was no proof that he had taken it, so he was acquitted.
On the charge of stealing a mare, gig and harness from William Rounsevell, he was also acquitted by the Judge. Chisholm’s defence had been that he had travelled to Mt Barker to try and find work in the legal profession. He had not had any luck so travelled on to Strathalbyn to find work there. There was no evidence that he had intended to steal the gig, he had paid for the hire and had simply taken it further than first intended.
In the end, the Jury found Thomas Donkin Chisholm not guilty on the other charges. The judge cautioned him “as to his future conduct”.
When I looked into Thomas Donkin Chisholm it appears that he had been accused and again acquitted of a similar crime of obtaining money by false pretences previously in 1854. He had been living at a hotel in Sydney, conducted himself as a gentleman but when a cheque that he had paid his bill with was presented to the bank the bank said that there was not enough money in the account. When Chisholm was approached he said that he would pay money in from another bank account. The hotel keeper then learned that a number of other people were in the same position, eventually it was taken to court, and one cheque was even to be found to be dated months before the Bank had even opened. Despite this, he was acquitted.


On the 26th of April 1856, Thomas Jones observed three men entering the Blenheim hotel for a drink. One man was a very tipsy Arthur James Adlam, a publican from Kanmantoo.  The second man was Henry Ellis who was less tipsy, and the third was an un-named man with a wooden leg who did not seem to bear a very good character but perhaps this was just a matter of 1850s typecasting. The three men stood at the bar to order drinks.  When the man with the wooden leg borrowed 5s from Adlam, Thomas became suspicious and went to fetch a police officer, thinking that maybe Adlam was being taken advantage of. Adlam tried to pay for his order, but discovered that the Blenheim did not accept cheques at the bar, so pulled out his money to pay.  I can just imagine Adlam, a picture not uncommon in pubs today, tipsy and pulling all of his money out of his pockets. He stuffed his notes into his friend Henry Ellis’ hand to mind as he searched for the correct money. The Blenheim’s bartender James Simpson Stevens noticed Henry Ellis hand over to Adlam a £1 note and stuff the others into his own pocket, joking that maybe he should look after them. Adlam asked for them back and some crumpled notes were handed over. The drunk men finished their drinks and left to go on drinking at the Southern Cross Hotel. The man with the wooden leg went his separate way. At the Southern Cross, Adlam realised he was missing a £20 note, so they returned to the Blenheim to see if it had been given to the bar. A man named Charles Hill accompanied them. Thomas checked his takings but found the highest bill to be £10. The bartender James Simpson Stevens informed Thomas that he suspected that Henry Ellis may have pinched the note earlier. Thomas confronted the man and accused him of the theft. Henry replied that he would be happy to subject himself to a search at the police station. Thomas made the observation that he might lose the note on the way to the police station but as Detective Francis Percy had just walked in, perhaps he would be willing to be searched in the private parlour. When they entered the parlour Stevens (bartender) called out to Thomas, “he has slipped the note onto the sofa!”. Sure enough under Henry Ellis’ hat and stick on the sofa was the £20 folded up into a tiny little square. Henry Ellis said “There now you have got the money – now let it drop. “ For God’s sake give him back the £20, and have done with it; it was only done in a drunken spree. I was not aware I had it on my person till I felt it in my pocket, and I threw it on the sofa. If I had known I had the note on me I should have given it up.”
The Case went to trial, with several witnesses; Thomas Jones, Arthur Adlam, James Simpson Stevens, and Constable Percy. There were also witnesses called testifying to the good character of the accused Henry Ellis.  The jury, in the end, found a verdict of not guilty. However, the judge ordered that “the expenses of the witnesses be paid, except for Adlam. The judge declared he “would never allow the expenses of a drunken prosecutor.”


Late in 1856 just a week after little Robert James JONES was born, Inspector Reid charged Thomas Rowlands Jones with not clearing his tap room at 11pm. When the matter went to the Police Court, Eliza Hart a former barmaid at the Blenheim and E.B. Gleeson a lodger at the hotel testified that the doors were always closed to the public at 11pm and drinks were only sold to lodgers after that time. The benefit of the doubt, this time, was given to Thomas Jones.


On the 23 Nov 1858 a man named Michael Lennon/Leonard was placing a horse and gig in Gilbert’s yard next to the Blenheim hotel. Thomas Jones came out and objected to his placing the horse and gig there. They got into an argument which soon came to blows. When Thomas Williams, publican of the Paradise Hotel saw Thomas punched in the chest, he rolled his sleeves up and shouted “Get out of the way and leave him to me!” .  Michael L. then picked up a stick, so Thomas Williams backed off. Michael, however, chased him and struck him on the arm, and then on the head. Thomas Williams described the stick in court as being a bludgeon but Michael described it as just a moderately sized walking stick. Michael L. was fined 5s by the court because there had been provocation and costs were divided.

View of Adelaide from West end of Hindley Street 1849.
State Library of South Australia B 2268


My next instalment will be about the Jones family in Kapunda.

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