Mary Thomas

From Hotels of Ballarat
Mary Thomas
Occupation Publican
Years active 1869-1871
Known for Lord Napier Hotel
Home town Ballarat

Mary Thomas was a publican in Ballarat, <1869-1871>

History[edit | edit source]

Thomas was the publican of the Lord Napier Hotel in Wills Street, Ballarat.

In November 1869 the publican was charged with Sunday trading:

Police v Mrs Thomas, keeping open her licensed house on Sunday for the sale of liquor. The hotel was the Lord Napier hotel. Senior-constable Sheridan deposed that he looked into the house and saw a man get some beer in a jug; and Mr Lewis, for Mrs Thomas, called two witnesses, who were in the bar at the time, who swore not only that no beer was sold, but that it was tea they were drinking, and that it was impossible for anyone to get beer with out their seeing him. His worship adjourned the case till Friday to enable Senior-constable Sheridan to bring up the man who was alleged to have bought the beer, as he considered the case was one o£ flat perjury.[1]

Cause List.— Sergeant Larner v Maria Thomas, for selling liquor on Sunday. This was an adjourned case for further evidence. A witness was called, but he was not sure whether or not he had got drink on the Sunday spoken of at the Lord Napier hotel. Another witness was called, who deposed that no drink was sold during the day in question. Mr Gaunt thought there was some mistake, but had no course open to him but to dismiss the case.[2]

In January 1870 she was caught committing indecent acts in public and sentenced to three months in prison:

A Disgraceful Exposure. — A man who gave the name of Malcolm M'lntosh and Mary Thomas, the one, we believe, a hard-working man with a wife and family; the other, keeper of the Lord Napier hotel, Wills street, were brought up, charged by Senior-constable Mansfield with indecent conduct in a public place on Saturday night. Mr Finn appeared for Mary Thomas, and Mr Lewis for M'lntosh. Thomas was sentenced to three months in gaol, and M'lntosh to 14 days. An appeal was lodged on the part of Thomas, on the ground that the Cricket Reserve was not to be considered “a public place.”[3]

A report of the incident in the Ballarat Courier suggested that Thomas had used drugs or witchcraft on her companion:

Mrs Mary Thomas, the lessee of the Lord Napier hotel, was brought up at the Eastern Police Court yesterday morning, charged with indecent conduct in the Eastern Oval last Saturday night. She was sentenced to three months imprisonment with bard labor, whereupon Mr Finn, who appeared for her, gave notice of appeal. He did not state the grounds, but from his previous line of argument it is not improbable that he will raise the question as to whether the Oval is or is not a " public place " Mr Finn seemed to hold that it is not, and he urged that if it were no money could be charged for admission. A man named M'Intosh who was in court was with Mrs Thomas, and who was alleged to have been drugged or " hocussed," was sentenced to fourteen days' imprisonment.[4]

The Courier also questioned the disparity in the sentencing, as well as general outrage on what people were doing in public areas after dark:

Mr Gaunt, P.M., is not a man to trifle with his judicial duties. When he acts he acts vigorously. He has given one more proof of his determination of character in the sentences be passed yesterday on two prisoners who were brought before him for indecent conduct in a public place. The delinquents were a man named Malcolm M'Intosh and the landlady of the Lord Napier hotel, named Mary Thomas. These worthies had applied the Eastern Oval on Saturday night to a purpose to which neither the Government nor the trustees ever intended it should be devoted, and very properly Mr Gaunt sent the man to gaol for fourteen days and the female to the same place for three months. Opinions may differ as to the justice of the disparity observable in these two punishments, and we confess that in a case of this description we think both prisoners should have received the same sentence; but waiving this point we congratulate Mr Gaunt on the disposition he evinced to put a stop to this indecent conduct in our public reserves, and so make them accessible to people of different inclining's after dayfall. There can be no doubt that very scandalous practices have long prevailed at a somewhat late hour of the night, not only in the Eastern Oval, but also in other public reserves about Ballarat. It is notorious that the railway reserve alongside the Melbourne road is a popular place of resort for certain characters when darkness prevents decent people from seeing what is occurring there, and it Is equally notorious that the Public Park is utilised in the same manner. And it is said, and we believe with much truth, that even the Old Cemetery is not free, on Sunday nights in particular, from this sort of occurrences, while the Swamp has long borne a very indifferent character from the same cause. It is high lime these libidinous occurrences were brought to an end and Mr Gaunt, by dealing out vigorous punishment to those delinquents who are caught by the police, has hit upon the proper and most salutary method to do this. We do not belong to that class which believes that people can be made virtuous by Act of Parliament, or by severe decisions from the judicial bench. But to lessen vice and crime, the opportunities for their committal should be restricted as much as possible, and by severely punishing those who are discovered on our reserves, in flagrante delicto, this end is to a considerable extent secured. Mr Gaunt, therefore, merits the thanks of the more respectable portion of the community for the vigor he has latterly thrown into his magisterial decisions on this subject, and the police are equally deserving of praise for their promptitude and vigilance in the matter. It is to be hoped that the appeal made on be half of Mary Thomas will fall through when reviewed by the Court of General Sessions, so that the police may not be hampered in the future by any legal quibbles when endeavoring to clear our public reserves of these impurities. If people must indulge in these practices they should be compelled to confine themselves to houses. It is simply infamous that so many parts of the town should be closed to decent people after daylight, because these malpractices are indulged in in the open air.[4]

In August 1870 she was charged with breaching Sunday trading laws:

The other case was that against Mary Thomas, the landlady of the Lord Napier hotel, and it also broke down through the insufficiency of evidence.[5]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1869 'POLICE.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 16 November, p. 4. , viewed 14 Jan 2017,
  2. 1869 'POLICE.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 20 November, p. 4. , viewed 14 Jan 2017,
  3. 1870 'POLICE.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 1 February, p. 2. , viewed 14 Jan 2017,
  4. 4.0 4.1 1870 'No title', The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1869 - 1880; 1914 - 1918), 1 February, p. 2. , viewed 14 Jan 2017,
  5. 1870 'No title', The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1869 - 1880; 1914 - 1918), 18 August, p. 2. , viewed 14 Jan 2017,

External links[edit | edit source]