Problems of Street vending

Here’s a problem that local court had to deal with. How could you get angry with a woman called Tabitha? I heard a DJ recently say it was a perfect name for a pet mouse. This woman is no mouse. This is from 1806:

A very eloquent old lady named Tabitha Thompson who retails apples, walnuts and other fruit in season in the vicinity of Devonshire Sq, charged a man named Cogsden, who is a constable in her neighbourhood with a violent assault on her person and the total destruction of her vehicle, by upsetting it, and throwing her merchandise into the mud; and all this for only humanely chiding him for barbarously taking a poor woman to prison for 2s. He not only broke her barrow into 1,000 pieces, but broke her knuckles with some fragments of the same by striking her across the hand.

Cogsden, however, told a rather different story of the provocation he had received. Mrs T, h said, had long been a dreadful annoyance to the whole neighbourhood, as a Common Scold; that she had, both on this occasion and frequently before, cursed him most bitterly and called him every ill name she could invent; told him he should have been hanged 20 years ago; and with uplifted hands, fervently prayed that she might live to see his execution. He desired her to remove her barrow then on his premises, which she refused to do and then he did upset it; upon which she tore a board from the vehicle, struck him on the back of the head, and set his blood flowing about his hears; not till then did he take up a piece of the broken barrow.

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