The Cornishman of 8 June 1882 reported on the previous day's Penwith Petty Sessions hearing held at Penzance Guildhall. Among the usual minor misdemeanors involving drunkenness and cruelty to animals (not necessarily connected) was a case which the paper reported under the heading “Horsewhipping a young girl”.
Michael Bennetts of Paul was charged with assault on a young girl called Martha Harvey, also of Paul. Martha's claim was that Bennetts had “got of his cart and beat her with a double whip, on 6th May, on Newlyn cliff, and for nothing, having offered the man no insult.” Her claim was supported by two or three other girls who had been with her at the time.
Bennetts pleaded guilty, under great provocation; the provocation being that the girls had called to him and ragged him while he was in the company of a “respectable female”. He was irritated and insulted by the girls behaviour, said his counsel, and got down from his cart and used his whip. Bennetts was fined 1s plus expenses for his crime. In the another case reported from the same sessions William Roberts of Paul was fined 2s 6d plus expenses for ill-treating a horse while Thomas Ellis of Causewayhead was fined the same amount for illtreatment of a donkey.
The message seems to be clear, if you want to indulge a penchant for violence then beat a woman not an animal but whatever you do don't get drunk, that will get you a fine of 5s. Just ask Josiah Rowe of St Just or John Carbis.
Cornishman 8 June 1882