Mary E. Beckwith

From Hotels of Ballarat
Mary E. Beckwith
Occupation Publican
Years active 1920
Known for Cherry Tree Hotel (Bendigo)
Sir William Don Hotel
Home town Bendigo
Spouse(s) Henry George Beckwith

Mary E. Beckwith was refused a publican's license in Ballarat in September 1920.

History[edit | edit source]

Mary E. Beckwith was the publican of the Cherry Tree Hotel in Bendigo in 1920. She purchased the Sir William Don Hotel in Ballarat in September 1920. The Licensing Court refused her license transfer application on the ground of convictions for Sunday trading in Bendigo, During the application hearing, a police constable from Bendigo gave evidence about the management of the Cherry Tree Hotel:

SIR WILLIAM DON HOTEL. TRANSFER OF LICENSE DISPUTED. POLICE OPPOSE EX-POLICE OFFICER. The matter of the transfer of the license of the Sir William Don Hotel, Ascot street, from Miss E. Thomas to Mary E. Beckwith, was the cause of a Special sitting of the Licenses Reduction Board in Ballarat yesterday. Mr T. Graham was the only member of the Board present. Mr J. B. Pearson appeared in support, of the application, and Superintendent Nicholson to oppose it on behalf of the police.

Superintendent Nicholson put in certain documents, and called Constable Earnshaw, of Kangaroo Flat, who was proceeding to give evidence, when Mr Pearson objected to general evidence being given. The witness proceeded to give specific evidence. Mr Pearson said that the documents put in proved all that the police wished to say. Witness said that he had investigated certain complaints. He found difficulties in approaching the Cherry Tree Hotel, then conducted by Mrs Beckwith. The place was guarded by spies or “pimps.’ - Mrs Beckwith told witness that she took very little part in the management of the hotel. Mr Graham — Did you, tell them what you had discovered. I told them of the complaints as to after hours trading. The licensee's husband said that if they did not do some such trading they could not “make a do” of the house. Once he found the bar door open and the licensee’s husband serving drinks behind the bar. Five men rushed out of the bar. He found a football match in progress at the rear of the hotel, and about 100 men and boys present. It was a Sunday. Mr Pearson.—Well, the convictions are in. How long have you been in Bendigo?—Nineteen years. And the Cherry Tree is a “sporting pub,” as the phrase goes?—Yes. Are there tea gardens there —Yes, but they were never used. There is a sports ground there. Were not the tea grounds used in Beckwith’s time? —No. But they are provided with seats and tables? —Yes, it was a very popular resort. There was a large picnic on the ground on one occasion, when I was paying attention to the house. You particularly shepherded this place?—No. Sunday school teachers told me things. Oh, that is where you get your information from. There was nothing unusual in a football match, going on on Sunday. Was not this place what you might call the Olympia of Bendigo? —That is so. Amongst the crowd was a number of ladies? —Not on the premises. Not for the world would I suggest it. But there were some ladies? —There were some motor cars. And more of the crowd were respectable people?—Yes. Excepting the “pimps,” of course. Can you name half-a-dozen hotel in Bendigo that do not trade after hours ? —I could not name one. (Laughter.) And don’t they all tell that they could not “make a do” of it otherwise? —They don’t tell the police that. Mr Graham — "Were the people found on the premises respectable ? Yes, well-behaved people. Supt. Nicholson —And the people who were playing football ? Mr Pearson —It was a Sunday school picnic. Mr Graham —I don’t see much difference between playing football and kiss-in-the-ring on Sunday.

Mr Pearson—l claim that the Sir Wm. Don hotel in Ballarat is quite a different thing from keeping the “sporting pub’ of Bendigo. Mr Beckwith is a retired police officer, with 38 years’ service. He being the husband of the licensee of the Cherry Tree hotel naturally assisted her with the management. After some experience of the place they decided that it was not what they wanted. He had decided instead of taking his pension from the department to take his compensation and endow his wife’s family with it. The Sir William Don hotel was a place in which Mr Beckwith's services would not be required. Mrs Beckwith and her two daughters would run it.

Mrs Beckwith stated that she had been boarding at the Sir Wm. Don for a fortnight. She would not require the assistance of her husband in running the place. She had never told the police anything against her husband. Mr Graham —You have heard the reports of the police. The objection of the police was as to the management of the house. Did you leave it to your husband?—No, he assisted me to get the beer from the cellars. That was all. Did you know anything about the “spotters” or spies?—l do not. Were you in the house when he was caught on that Sunday? Yes, but I was resting. But he had the keys of the bar?— I did not give them to him. Did you tell the constable that you had little to do with running the hotel; —that was done by your husband?— It was run by me and my daughters. Did you regard the hotel as your own—I did. How are you going to deprive your husband of the same rights as he had at the Cherry Tree?—l haven’t got to turn him out, have I ? No, but he will he living, on the premises? —I hope so, but he is not in sapable, he can find something to do. Mr Graham said that he was in a most difficult position. There was not a single suggestion against the character of the applicants. The husband was for years a member of the very force which is now opposing the license. He (Mr Graham) knew the Sir Wm. Don hotel, an excellently conducted house. He did not intend to grant the transfer.

Mr Pearson—Mr Beckwith was not called at first but l would like to do so now. It will not interfere with the ends of justice. Mr Graham—Very well. Henry George Beckwith stated that he had heard Constable Earnshaw’s evidence. He (witness) left the service on 23th February, 1920. As far as the Cherry hotel was concerned, he had practically nothing to do with it. As regards Constable Earnshaw’s evidence, he had visited the place three times, and only on one occasion did he find anything wrong. As regarded the Sir William Don hotel, he intended to take no hand in it., He wished to go to New South Wales and go into business with his son. Superintendent Nicholson —You well understand that this is a very painful position for myself and the police. Witness —I do appreciate that. I would ask that my wife be given the transfer. Peter J. Early, hotel broker, stated that he had arranged the sale of the Sir William Don hotel to Mrs Beckwith who had come with excellent references The deposit and balance of the purchase money had been paid. Mr Graham said that the evidence somewhat altered the ease, but not much.

Mr Pearson - The wife is a married woman with separate property, and she was not the nominee of her husband. Mr Graham—l don't go so far as that. Mr Pearson argued that the conduct of the Cherry Tree cast no reflection on Mrs Beckwith, who was quite capable of managing the Sir William Don, which was right in the City, and under direct supervision of the police, and it anything illegal occurred, action could easily be taken. It was a serious thing to say to any woman "You shall not earn your living in this trade". Any reflections cast on Mr Beckwith had been mitigated by that gentleman’s own evidence. In any case, the license would have to come up for review in December, and there was no doubt that a special eye would be kept on the house. He asked the bench to grant the transfer, with the warning that anything illegal will imperil the license' immediately. -Mr Graham—l consider that Ballarat has a good asset in this hotel. From my own observation, it is one of the best-conducted houses in the district, and I would be sorry to see its standard lowered. Mr Pearson— Mr Beckwith intends to go to New South Wales; but even if he did not do so, that is no reason why his wife and family should not have the license.

Mr Graham—l am going to take the constable's evidence as correct, and l refuse to transfer. Mr Pearson — I ask leave to with draw the application before you do M Graham—Very well.[1]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1920 'SIR WILLIAM DON HOTEL', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 15 September, p. 2. , viewed 23 Dec 2018,

External links[edit | edit source]