Tom Morris of St Andrews by David Malcolm & Peter E. Crabtree

Tom Morris of St Andrews by David Malcolm & Peter E. Crabtree

Author:David Malcolm & Peter E. Crabtree
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Birlinn
Published: 2011-07-14T16:00:00+00:00

29 A Felon in the Family

In July 1880, some six months after the Links Road was laid, posts connected by chains were erected, designating the limits of the ‘golfing green’ and making the road out-of-bounds of play. To the local golfers this was rubbing salt into a seeping wound, because no prior notice had been given and no motion put before the Council. No one was surprised when the posts and chains became targets for vandalism. Letters to the editor in the St Andrews newspaper make clear that the local golfers perceived the posts as a symbol of their own impotence in the affairs of the Links.

The St Andrews Citizen reported that on the night of Saturday 7 August, Jof Morris together with Andrew Perrie, a stonemason, and two caddies, Walter Gourlay and William Honeyman, were found lying on the Links close to three of the posts that they were alleged to have pulled from the ground. It was not until the following morning that they were arrested and charged with malicious mischief and Breach of the Peace.

The four had spent the evening drinking in George Leslie’s Golf Inn, but according to Leslie they had left at eleven o’clock quite sober. At about this time, Mr David Scott the joiner, who had been contracted to set the posts and chains, was out walking on the Links in the darkness with the Procurator Fiscal, Mr Woodcock, and two police officers, Inspector Stuart Maiden and Constable Robert Lang. Hearing a noise in the darkness close to Grannie Clark’s Wynd, they had gone to investigate and found Jof and his friends lying on the grass, ‘with their caps over their faces and whispering to one another’. In what followed, Jof declared that Procurator Fiscal Woodcock had assaulted him and demanded that the policemen arrest him immediately. Some attempt was apparently made to calm Jof who was incensed that the police would do not so and he continued to ‘swear at the Procurator and the posts until his father came to take him away’. His anger unabated, he continued to complain about the Procurator, shouting that he would ‘take £500 off him in damages in the Court of Session and tie him up there for two years’. It says something for Jof’s tenacity that he did send a letter of complaint to the Lord Advocate.

In Cupar Sheriff Court in front of Sheriff Lamond, Mr McKechnie, an advocate from Edinburgh, represented Jof and his friends. Jof entered a plea of not guilty to a Breach of the Peace charge and of using foul and abusive language to both the Procurator Fiscal and police officers in the course of their duty. Charges of vandalism and malicious mischief were dropped. Under cross-examination, Woodcock conceded that Jof Morris ‘is usually a quiet lad’, but would not agree that he had ‘pushed him about’. Both Inspector Maiden and Constable Lang said that they had never had any prior connection with Morris, Gourlay or Honeyman, but that Andrew Perrie had previous convictions.


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