Just writing up the military career of Private 292, Joseph Bateman, of 6th Dragoon Guards (born 6 May 1808, Haslington), a cousin of my three-greats grandfather James Newton. He appeared for the first time in the Regimental Defaulters Book on 25 May 1832, when he was “Absent from Watering Order Parade and drunk when found about 10 a.m.” For this he was sentenced to “7 days Punishment drill” and “1 Night bells”.
One night bells?? What sort of strange British Army punishment was this? Being forced to ring the bells every hour, Quasimodo-like? Or how about being tied into a harness of Morris Dancer bells overnight? Strikes me it might be difficult to get to sleep like that…
And then, of course, I saw another entry and realised that it wasn’t “1 Night bells” but “1 Night Cells” – it was just the “C” curling round to apparently make a “b”.
Pity – I rather liked the loss of sleep from Morris Dancers’ bells….