1855 : Illegal Weights

Two stories of traders adjusting their scale in their favour. From the Croydon Chronicle and East Surrey Advertiser – Saturday 15 September 1855, via the British Newspaper Archive.

Illegal Weights.

— Mary Bateman, shopkeeper, of Mitcham, was charged by Mr. Dart, Inspector of Weights and Measures, with having an unjust balance, a quarter of an ounce against the purchaser.

Mr. Dart stated that the defendant was last April fined 5s. for the same offence, the scales then being half an ounce against the purchaser.

The defendant—I have been in business 40 years, and until this man came I never had a complaint made against me ; all the other inspectors used to allow me a turn, and the people expects it. I had a woman come in the other day, and because the scale did not go down, she said she would not have the butter; and after this man left, I asked an old gentleman who is lodging with me, and who was an ale connor, if it was not right for me to have the turn, and he said “Yes,” and that he always had it, and allowed it himself ; and I have asked my neighbours, and they all say that they are allowed a turn, and if I was not a poor lone widow, but a man that could speak for himself. I should not have been summonsed here.

Mr. Sutherland considered the defendant was quite able to speak for herself, and she must be aware that if the the scales were not allowed a turn, it was not right that the butter scales should. Mr. Dart said he had endeavoured to convince the defendant, that having scales like the butter ones, was wrong.

The Defendant : Yes ; but I am not convinced ; I have done so for forty years, and it takes some time to convince any one against that.

Mr. Sutherland : Then by that you have been cheating the public for forty years ; you must now know that the scales must be right ; you will be fined 5s., and the costs 9s.

The Defendant : Our profits are now so low that we cannot get anything out of the things, and if we are compelled to have the scales this way we shan’t be able to live ! !

The old lady, after some time, produced the money, grumbling all the while she was finding it; and as she was leaving the court reiterated her fear of not being able to get on, now this new-fangled method of weighing was come in.


W. Williams, of Mitcham, butcher, was charged with having an unjust balance.

Mr. Dart deposed, that he visited the defendant’s shop, and just as he drove up to the door Mrs. Williams went to the scale and took off the piece of fat produced ; it was on the scale in which the goods to be sold were weighed ; on testing the scales he found them exact without the fat, hence the addition of that made the weight against the purchaser.

In defence Williams said that the scales were made of wood, that his shop was an open one, and that the weather affected the scales, and the fat was put on to adjust them, without that it was in favour of the purchaser.

Mr. Sutherland considered that the defendant ought to have such scales as were not affected by the weather.

Fined 5s., and 9s. costs.

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