Dunfermline Saturday Press 24 March 1866

John May, grocer, Cairneyhill, was charged with having on Saturday the 24th of February, with exciseable liquor on his premises and this was the second offence. Mr May pleaded not guilty and was defended by Mr Macbeth.

Inspector Napier deponed to having gone into a back-room in John May’s premises in Cairneyhill, and seen James Fotheringham, senior, James Fotheringham, junior, John Anderson and John Philp. He saw a half mutchkin measure, a glass of whisky, two empty quart bottles, and a tumbler of small beer placed on the table. He saw no money pass.

John Manclark, labourer, Cairneyhill, deponed – on Saturday 24th February, I was in a room in John May’s house with James Fotheringham, senior, James Fotheringham, junior, John Anderson and John Philp. We were supplied with exciseable liquor. We had been invited into the house by James Fotheringham, junior. We paid nothing for the drink, and did not promise to pay anything.

Cross-examined by Mr Macbeth – we all had been at a teetotal lecture together – (laughter) – delivered in the schoolroom by Mr Dunnachie. We left between 9 and 10 o’clock, and proceeded homewards through the village. When we came to the house of John May, James Fotheringham, senior, went in as he haad some business to transact with May, and the rest of us stood at the door waiting for him. After standing some time, James Fotheringham, junior, asked us to come into his room in May’s house. We all went in, and Fotheringham, of his own accord, brought in the drink and treated us. While we were drinking Inspector Napier came in, and he was told we were really there as friends.

John Philp was examined in corroboration of this evidence, and the previous conviction against Mr May was admitted by Mr Macbeth, who stated the offence had been committed during an election period.

James Fotheringham, junior, was the first witness examined for the defence. He deponed – I am a carter in Cairneyhill. About three years ago I was married to niece of John May, and have lived in a portion of his house ever since. I have a room in the house, in which I live, and into which I have the power of taking my friends. On Saturday 24th February last, I was at a teetotal lecture, and left shortly after nine o’clock with my father, John Manclark, John Philp and John Anderson. We all lived to the west of the school-room, and we all proceeded west-wards through the village together. I invited them all into my room in John May’s house, and gave them a dram and two bottles of beer. I do not think that when I left the room and went into the shop for the drink any one of them knew what I left for. I did not measure the whisky. When we were drinking the beer, Inspector Napier came in. There was nothing said abut paying for the beer; it was purely a friendly dram. My wife and I have occupied this room exclusively for three years. I pay a rent for the room.

By the bench – I paid nothing for the beer, but will require to pay for it.

James Fotheringham, senior, was also examined by Mr Macbeth on behalf of the accused.

Mr Bremner and Mr Macbeth then successively addressed the court, and

Mr Spowart said – the bench has given your case its best consideration, and is of opinion that the charge against you has been proved. To some persons there may appear some hardship in this case, but we are here to administer the law as we find it. We have, therefore, mitigated the penalty to £2 10s, the lowest possible, with £1 0s 6d of expenses.

Mr May – if a stranger come to my house, am I now allowed to give him anything I please at my own fireside?

Mr Spowart – I am afraid we can give you no advice in this matter. we are only here to judge.


  1. The area opposite the playground on the main street used to be called Fotheringhams. There was also a small shop there in the 1950’s.


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