You have to wonder about the difference between two sentences in the 1840s in England. Both started out with drinking (too much) in pubs. One ended with transportation to Australia and 15 years hard labour, the other ended with a fine and a month in jail.
The first story I have told recently in a previous post. In 1844, Elijah Brown had definitely had too much to drink. He and his brother an friend refused to leave the pub. The constable was called and when he threatened them with the cage they they beat the constable severely. The constable was very lucky and did recover. The judge was not lenient and all three men were sentenced to transportation. There was definitely an ugly element here and Elijah was considered to be of bad character and had been in prison before. Elijah was a poor working man who lived in Isleham.
The second story is about the death of William Burman in 1842. William was also from a poor, hard-working family who lived in the rows in Great Yarmouth.
The story starts out the same. William is out with two friends and likely had too much to drink. Though at the trial his friend says he was not drunk, we could probably dispute that. A quarrel ensued over the price of gin and the pub owner and William argued. According to the testimony of his friend, the pub owner threw William down and beat his head on the floor. William never recovered and died from his injuries four days later. The pub owner was charged with manslaughter and allowed bail of £200 plus two sureties of £100. The pub owner stated that it was an accident; and witnesses confirmed that the pub owner did offer to pay for a doctor for Burman. At the trial, as well as the friend, there were two witnesses for the defense who, although they did not see what happened, did hear the argument between William and the pub owner. They both stated that William banged his head on the bar on the way down to the floor. It should be noted that at trial there were also many witnesses for the pub owner’s character, stating that he was a good man. The judge in the trial told the jury to pay more attention to the last two witnesses than the friend of William Burman. The jury came back with a guilty verdict and the judge ordered one month hard labour.
On the same page of the prison registers as the pub owner’s one month of prison for manslaughter is a man who received transportation for 10 years for house stealing; and another who received seven years transportation for two counts of biagmy.
In a quirky twist, Elijah Brown from the first story later became a pub owner in Australia.
So, is the difference in these sentences because of the pub owner’s good character, or maybe influenced by his social standing? Your guess is as good as mine, but the differences remain interesting.