Young Margaret Casey had been in trouble all her very short life. Assaults, fighting, disorderly conduct and this before she was ten years of age in 1881!
After ten, she appeared in Cardiff town courts on four occasions and was given a wide range of sentences all designed to assist her well-being, including corporal punishment.
Margaret became addicted to alcohol, beer and gin. To obtain the money she became a ‘flower girl’, a profitable occupation often undertaken by young women. It was said she could earn up to 4/– (20p) a day. The problem was that Mary got used to drink, and it took a sizable quantity to make her drunk, but drunk she got!
One evening in 1885, in an inebriated state, she went into the German Harp pub in Bute Street, aggressively trying to sell flowers, and upsetting the drinkers. She was ejected. She then went to the Custom House pub. She was just 14 years of age. The landlord wanted her out, but she didn’t want to go. She threw a glass at him smashing it. She threw a glass at the window, smashing it. The police were called and with great difficulty Mary was dragged to the police station and placed in a cell.
In the court the following morning, after the evidence had been given, the magistrate had to decide what to do with her.
His decision was to send her to prison for 21 days. Nothing else had worked, and she must be shown what would happen if she carried on with her drunken behaviour. He did, though, excuse her from ‘hard labour’.
It was reported the mother said to the magistrate, ‘That is very hard, it is more than ever I have done in my life, and I have been in court seven times.’