From the Darlington & Stockton Times of May 13, 1871

AT Stokesley magistrates court, said the D&S Times 150 years ago this week, there were the usual petty offences to be considered: Mary Ward was accused of allowing drunkenness in her pub, Robert Rontree was charged with breaking into a grocer’s shop and stealing £3 of coppers, and then a chimney sweep, Richard Stephenson, was charged with aggravated assault upon the woman he cohabited with, Mary Harvey.

“The woman stated the prisoner had been in the habit of ill using her for some time. The present assault had been committed about half-an-hour previous to the hearing, and blood was flowing freely from a wound on her head caused by a blow from a stick with which the prisoner had beat her.

“The magistrates said that this was the worst case of assault that had ever been brought before them, and they should give him the severest punishment the law would allow: six months hard labour.”