Florence Ada McColl

From Hotels of Ballarat
Florence Ada McColl
Occupation Publican
Years active 1900
Known for Surface Hill Hotel
Home town Linton

Florence Ada McColl was a publican in Linton, Victoria, <1900-1901.

History[edit | edit source]

McColl was employed as a companion to Austin Stanton, the husband of Annie Willis Stanton. He was blind, and an undischarged bankrupt, and his wife bought the Surface Hill Hotel[ at Linton, for him to manage. As he was not able to act as publican, McColl was the publican on his behalf. After Stanton's death in May 1900, Annie Stanton refused to pay any of the outstanding debts of the hotel, claiming that they should be paid by her husbands estate, or Florence McColl. Legal action followed in September 1901:

RUNNING A HOTEL. A DISASTROUS EXPERIENCE. A CIVIL SERVANT’S PLIGHT. Before Messrs W. M. Acheson and D. Cooke, J’s.P. The case of J. J. Goller and Co. v Mrs A. W. Stanton, postmistress at Footscray, in which £27 13s 10d was sued for and also that of D. Evans against the same defendant to recover £34 4s 9d, were continued. (Mr M. Lazarus appeared for both plaintiffs, and Mr Fred. Ham, instructed by Messrs Reynolds and Lamplugh, for the defence. The case was originally brought before the court on 2nd August, when the point in dispute was whether the person who was placed in charge of an hotel at Linton, owned by Mrs Stanton, should be held liable for orders given by her for goods supplied to the hotel. The evidence given at that time showed that the person in question held the license in her own name, and the plaintiffs served her with the goods. However, at that time the case was struck out, owing to the difficulty in getting hold of the person who held the license.

On the court opening on Saturday Mr M. Lazarus stated that this difficulty had been got over, and the lady in question, a Miss M'Coll, was present. The case of Goller and Co. was first taken, and Mr Lazarus stated that Mrs Stanton, who was in the Government employ, purchased the Surface Hills hotel, at Linton, and, as she could not hold the license personally, and as her husband was blind, and could not carry on the business, Miss M'Coll was put in charge of the hotel simply as an agent. She was never paid more than 5s per week, and was induced to sign a transfer in blank, by which she could be removed at any time. When Mr Stanton died, Miss M'Coll received notice that she was not wanted any longer, and when she left a lease of the hotel was given to another person. An attempt had been made to prove coverture—that is, that Mrs Stanton, being a married woman, her husband was responsible for all debts. This was an impudent defence, for Mrs Stanton had separate estate, and this hotel was purchased from that estate. It was said also that this was an attempt to get at an unfortunate widow. Mr Ham—So it is. He would show on the contrary that it was an attempt to dodge unfortunate tradesmen. Edwin Powell, traveller for Goller and Co., gave evidence of having taken orders for spirits, etc., from Miss M'Coll and Mr Stanton at the hotel at Linton. He had never seen Mrs Stanton in his life, and had never taken an order from her. The accounts were all tendered to Miss M'Coll, and the cheques were all paid by Stanton, who stamped has name on them, while Miss M'Coll countersigned them. Mr Stanton's name was over the door as manager.

Florence Ada M'Coll stated that some time before going to Linton she was a companion and guide to Mr Stanton, who was blind. When the hotel was taken witness was put in as licensee, and Mr Stanton as manager. At the time she took the license she executed a deed—a declaration of trust—under which she regarded herself as agent. She informed the travellers that she was not liable for the debts, and that Mrs Stanton was. She had never regarded herself as liable. Mrs Stanton said that she was liable for debts, and all that witness got out of the place was 5s per week. After Stanton, died, in May, witness was called on to leave, and she went to Melbourne, and consulted Mrs Stanton as to the payment of the arrears of accounts. Mrs Stanton then said that witness need not worry, as she recognised her liability, and would pay as soon as she could. Mrs Stanton had never denied her liability. Witness had been sent for by Messrs Lamplugh and Reynolds, who had asked her if she was unfriendly towards Mrs Stanton. She said that she had no feeling but that of a wish to see fair play. Mrs Stanton had raised money on her furniture to buy the hotel. Mr Ham-Who ordered the goods? Witness—l did. You ordered just what you liked; you had a free hand? I ordered what I thought necessary in Mrs Stanton's name. You know Mrs Stanton borrowed money to put her husband into the business? I know she harrowed £250. And did she not give it to Mr Stanton? As far as I know. Who paid your salary? Both Mr and Mrs Stanton. Did Mrs Stanton ever go to the hotel at all? She came there as a visitor. Did you tell Stanton what you were ordering? He was blind, you know ? I told him everything. How did you hold the hotel. There was a lease? No, there was a certificate of title in my name. Who was present when it was drawn up? Mr Stanton was there. Did you ever send Mrs Stanton any accounts till her husband died? No not until he died. As a matter of fact, didn’t you communicate with the other side, and offer to give evidence? Yes, I did. You were a little piqued at being ordered out. You had your sister there, you know, and were running the place to suit yourselves? That is not so. I ran it for Mrs Stanton. But when she suggested that you should not keep your sister there, as the business was going back, you said you would keep her there? Yes; I said so. Did Mrs Stanton go to one of the cupboards and find it full of luxuries? Yes; that is so. Did she order you to send them back ? Yes; and I didn’t send them, as they were necessaries in the house. Didn’t Mrs Stanton discover that you had given credit for drinks to boys and young men up to a sum of £144? Yes; she knew credit was given, but not the amount. Do you remember £20 being borrowed from the Ballarat Brewing Company, and paid into your account? Yes; it was used partly for repairs. Mr Lazarus—About that £144. Was it not nearly all given credit far by Mr Stanton? Yes; I acted only according to his instructions. Did you buy the luxuries out of your 5s per week? They were bought for the hotel. Were not some of the wines sent to the hotel forwarded to Mrs Stanton? Yes; and I sent her £10 shortly before Stanton died. And she got all the stock and the unexpired value of the license? She got everything.

This closed the case for the plaintiff; and for the defence Mr Ham claimed a non suit on the grounds that as the debts, if contracted by Mrs Stanton at all, were so during Mr Stanton’s life. She was not liable under the Marriage Act. But as a matter of fact Mrs Stanton never incurred any liability, Miss M'Coll and Mr Stanton having ordered the goods on their own responsibility; and it was only when Goller and Co. found that they could not get anything from Stanton’s estate they came down on Mrs Stanton. It was claimed that she had been drawing profits from the hotel; as a matter of fact she was nearly insolvent through having to raise money on her private estate in order to put her husband into the hotel. And because she had done this kindness to her husband she was to be saddled with all the debts of the hotel, debts owing by her husband’s estate. Another thing, the debts before Stanton’s death could not be claimed from Mrs Stanton. The amount owing before his death by the hotel was £88 10s 10d, but the death of Stanton determined the agency. Then, if the agency was continued on Mrs Stanton’s behalf after her husband’s death, there was nothing owing for Goller’s own accounts showed that while they claimed £23 8s 3d, they had actually received £25 from Miss M'Coll.

Annie Willis Stanton, defendant, stated that she had raised £250 on her furniture and gave it to her husband to do as he liked with. He bought the hotel in the name of Miss M'Coll. She did not put Miss M'Coll in, nor did that lady hold the hotel for witness. She did not know who Miss McColl dealt with, nor did she receive any money or any accounts from the hotel until after her husband’s death. After her husband’s death defendant went to the hotel to see how the business was getting on, and found that it had depreciated to the extent of £100 in six months. The wine sent to her was part of the old stock that was there when her husband went in. Mr Lazarus—While the hotel business was going on at Linton you were drawing your screw at Coburg? Defendant (frigidly)—Do you mean my salary? Yes; that is what I mean. My salary was going on, but that had nothing to do with the hotel. What about the indemnity you offered to Miss M'Coll? I offered her no such thing. But did not you offer to accept the liability? Nothing of the sort. I do not acknowledge any liability. Didn’t you get Miss M'Coll to sign a blank transfer ? Yes. Your husband was an uncertificated insolvent. How did you come to lend him money? I lent him the money, and I have had up to now to pay £140 in interest, and I am bound hand and foot by the money lenders. But you have leased the hotel to a Miss Peters, and you are drawing £2 10s per week? I am not; the rent is reduced. This terminated the case, and the bench remarked that Mrs Stanton had got herself into a most unfortunate position, but it was no fault of the plaintiff’s; and an order for the amount claimed would be made, with £4 4s costs.

The case of David Evans was then taken, the facts and evidence being identical with those of the last case. An order for the amount, with £2 2s costs, was made ; the bench remarking that they sympathised with Mrs Stanton, and it was a pity that she did not assert herself immediately her husband died. Mr Ham asked for a stay, which was opposed strongly; and it was finally decided that the parties should meet and discuss the matter, and come before the bench on Tuesday to argue whether or not an order to review should be sought.[1]


See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1901 'THE POLICE COURTS.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 9 September, p. 1. , viewed 30 Nov 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article207507408

External links[edit | edit source]