Monday, February 20, 2012

Joseph Roche, the Inebriate Tailor

It is a hot November morning in 1862 and just another day at the Central Police Court in Brisbane Town.

Police Court, Elizabeth Street, Brisbane
John Hennessey, an aboriginal, was charged with, furious riding. Prisoner, who said he was drunk at the time, was discharged with an admonition.

Edward Ryan was sent to gaol for seven days, under tho first clause of the Vagrant Act, for being illegally on the premises of the hon. D. F. Roberts on the night of the 27th instant.

Patrick Maher was summoned for unlawfully blasting rock at Kangaroo Point, on the 21st instant, with- out having previously obtained the permission of a magistrate to do so.

Henry Stacey was summoned for allowing three horses, his property, to stray about the streets.
Thomas Crawley appeared to prefer a charge of assault against Mrs. Muir.[1]

The last case was little different than the usual line-up.  Here a police sergeant was appearing on a stealing charge.

Some time since a charge was formally brought against Sergeant Wright, lock-up keeper, of illegally detaining a ring, the property of an inebriate named Roche, a tailor, residing in Fortitude Valley. Wright was immediately suspended, and an investigation accordingly took place.

Tailor Shop, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane

The evidence, however, being of an unsatisfactory and inconclusive nature, his Worship reinstated the sergeant in his former position, informing him at the same time that the present decision would not affect any ulterior proceedings which might be taken in the matter.[2]

The inebriate Roche himself appeared in court a few weeks later.

Joseph Roche, a diminutive tailor, was brought up on warrant for having used obscene language on the night of the 21st instant. The prisoner pleaded guilty to the charge, and said that whenever he took a glass too much he made a fool of himself; he also expressed a hope that his Worship would overlook his offence.

In answer to a question from the Bench as to the general conduct of defendant, Constable Hogan said that Roche was very often drunk and disorderly. He resided in Fortitude Valley with some very decent people, who had frequently to get out of their beds at the dead of night in order to pacify him. Several other members of the force having given him a "character," defendant was ordered to pay a fine of 40s - in default, seven days' imprisonment.[3]

Petrie Terrace Police Barracks, Brisbane 1867

The diminutive inebriate tailor was back in court early in the new year.

Saturday.— Before the Police Magistrate and Mr. J. Petrie, J.P.  Joseph Roche, an inebriate tailor, from the Valley, was mulct[4] in the sum of 10s.[5]

Roche managed to stay out of trouble for a few months but was soon back to his old self. He appeared with his female drinking partner.

THURSDAY - Before Mr. L. A. Bernays and Mr. R. Cribb.
DRUNKARDS - Catherine Folder and Joseph Roche were each fined in the sum of 5s. for drunkenness.[6]

He was back a week later with a new inebriate companion.


Thursday. - Before the Police Magistrate.

INEBRIATE. - Joseph Roche and Richard Moss, the former for drunkenness, the latter for indulging in the free use of the very vulgar tongue, were respectively fined 5s. and 50s. for their sins.[7]

And with this last appearance the diminutive inebriate tailor vanishes from the Brisbane newspaper reports of court proceedings. His last mention is in an advertisement placed in the Toowoomba press, offering his services as a tailor. He feels it important to mention that he has now given up the “barley juice”.

To the Inhabitants of Toowoomba

BY leaving your address at the office of this paper it will be punctually attended to by JOSEPH ROCHE, Tailor, for the repairing all kinds of clothing, who will call at the above place on MONDAYS and THURSDAYS.

J. R. undertakes to mend and make your clothes, adopting the quickest system in doing business, that is, simply — values the most trifling job, neither gives nor takes credit, dispensing with the barley juice, is always to be found at No. 1, SHARP NEEDLE. Therefore, encourage colonial industry, buy your own material in cloth, and he engages a perfect fit, good style, and workmanship.

N. B. — Riding Pants strapped[8], and store work made, on the most Moderate Terms.

Address— J. ROCHE, Trowsers and Breeches Maker, Brisbane Street, Drayton, next Shepperd's New Saddlery Warehouse.[8]

[1] The Courier 29.11.1862
[2] The Courier 29.11.1862
[3] The Courier 25.12.1862
[4] Fined
[5] The Courier 6.1.1863
[6] The Courier 17.4.1863
[7] The Courier 24.4.1863
[8] Strengthened by overlaying with piece of stronger material. (OED)
[9] The Darling Downs Gazette and General Advertiser Thursday 13.10.1864

© K. C. Sbeghen, 2012.

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