William Careless and Ephraim Humpage, two youths, were charged in the Magistrates Court with assaulting William Jones, a lad of 12. Jones had been standing at the bottom of Falkland Street, laughing at something some other boys were singing, when Humpage came up to him and boxed his ears. Careless then unfastened his belt and beat the boy severely with it. Humpage then got hold of the boy’s ears again and pulled them very hard. He would have done more but for the interference of a woman called Smith. In reply to the charge the defendants admitted striking the boy but said they were provoked by him shouting out, ‘Who stole the penny from the barber’s shop.’ The complainant said he did not say this, it was the other boys who were singing it. The Bench fined the defendants 1s each and costs.
Wolverhampton Chronicle 19th June 1867
(I love this story, not because it was an unprovoked attack, whic it was, but because when my children sang the rhyme in the 1980s it had been Amercanised and updated and became, 'Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar,' and here we have it, how the rhyme started. Wonderful!)
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