Thursday, August 23, 2012

Amatory Adventures at Mrs. Bailey’s House

Colonial Night Life

In July 1847, trouble was brewing in George Street, Brisbane Town. A group of soldiers from the local regiment were enjoying the hospitality at the Victoria Hotel. Leaving the hotel, they decided to continue their night-out at the nearby house of Mrs. Bailey, a popular local entrepreneur who catered to the recreational and entertainment needs of the many single men and, no doubt some of the married men, in the colony.

Hotel on George Street, ca.1870

Sometime after midnight, a police constable passing by on his beat, heard the sound of breaking coming from Mrs. Bailey’s house.

Further details emerged at the Police Office the following day.[1]

Colonial Infantry Private
WILFUL-DAMAGE - AMATORY ADVENTURES. - At the Police-office yesterday, Sergeant Faulkner, and two private soldiers, named John Randall and Henry Herring, belonging to the detachment of the 99th Regiment stationed in the town, were placed at the bar charged with destroying property in Mrs Bailey's house in George-street, between the hours of twelve and one o'clock on the previous night.

Constable Macalister, on being sworn, stated that while on duty on Thursday night he observed some of the military coming out of the Victoria Hotel, and that he saw them go to Mrs. Bailey's house where he shortly afterwards heard the breaking of panes of glass. On hearing a screech, he immediately ran to the barracks for the corporal and guard, who accompanied him to the house.

Reinforcements arriving from the barracks, most of the riotous soldiers quickly decamped.  An unlucky two were arrested while a third tried to disguise himself by changing out of his uniform.  His attempt to flee was foiled by two of Mrs. Bailey’s civilian guests, one of whom floored the desperate soldier with one accurate punch.

All the soldiers then ran away, except two, who were taken into custody by the guard. Corporal Horan corroborated the constable's testimony, and informed the Magistrates that Randall broke away from the soldier who had him in charge, and ran up to his room, where he put on an undress[2].

Mr. Hawkins and Mr. Featherstone, who were visiting at Mrs. Bailey's house on the evening in question, identified the Sergeant and the prisoners at the bar as being present while the windows were being broken; Randall was the most riotous person there. When the Sergeant attempted to burst open the door, a well-directed blow from Mr. Hawkins sent him head over heels to the ground.

The Original Brisbane Military Barracks

Unfortunately the departing soldier in his haste to return to barracks left behind a piece of incriminating evidence, namely his cap. His attempt to discretely retrieve his cap from the Police Office the following morning was not successful and the full force of the law was brought to bear on the Sergeant and his comrades.

The man of war, on finding sharper work than he had calculated upon, took to his heels, and ran to the barracks, leaving his cap behind him, which was picked up by the constable. The Chief Constable stated that the Sergeant called upon him on the following morning, and made enquiries respecting his cap, and said that he wished to compromise the matter by paying all expenses, provided he would not inform the Police Magistrate of what had occurred.

The Magistrates, after a short consultation, found all the defendants guilty, fined each of them £5, and sentenced them in default of payment to be imprisoned for two calendar months with hard labour in Sydney Gaol. They were then removed and placed in the lock-up. We understand that the fine has since been paid by Sergeant Faulkner, and that the others will also "shell out the tin" rather than go to quod[3].

What sparked the incident at Mrs. Bailey’s house was not revealed in the court proceedings, but it might be assumed to be just another great night out ruined by out of control high jinks.

© K. C. Sbeghen, 2012.

[1] The Moreton Bay Courier Saturday 10 July 1847
[2] Civilian dress i.e. changed from his uniform.
[3] Military slang for prison.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Furious Riders

Furious Riders - Colonial Hoons

In an age before automobiles, some residents still felt a need for speed in urban areas, endangering the lives of pedestrians. The Towns Police Act was enacted to deal with this unsociable behaviour termed “Furious Riding”.

Early View of Queen Street, Brisbane showing horse traffic.

Furious riding cases were common cases in the Colonial courts.

GROSS MISCONDUCT.-At the Police-office, on Thursday, a recently imported prisoner[1] of the Crown, named Dennis Galvin, attached to the General Hospital, was placed at the bar charged with furiously riding in the public streets, and conducting himself in an insolent manner towards A. C. G. Kent.

It appeared that the prisoner was ordered by Dr. Ballow to lead his horse to the Government Paddock; instead of doing so, he mounted the horse, and galloped him through the streets. On reaching the paddock the prisoner found that he had forgotten the key, and proceeded to effect an entrance in a summary way by pulling down the fence.

Mr. Kent, who had been watching his proceedings, went to the paddock, and desired him to desist, when the prisoner indulged in very gross language, and abused Mr. Kent all the way on his return to his own house.

On being called upon for his defence, the prisoner behaved in the most impertinent manner to the Bench, which called forth a severe reprimand from the Police Magistrate, who sentenced him to fourteen days solitary confinement.[2]

It was not only males who indulged in these carefree habits. In 1847, a certain Mrs. Bailey was charged with furious riding in company with a Mr. Macintyre.

Mrs. Bailey was well known in Brisbane Town as the proprietress of a “house” in George Street popular with member of the local regiment, but more of Mrs. Bailey anon.

Understandably, Mrs. Bailey and Mr. Macintyre chose to be discreet and not appear in court together.

Furious Riding -On Monday an information was filed by the Chief Constable against Mr. Macintyre and Mrs. Bailey, for riding furiously through the streets in North Brisbane on Saturday evening last.

As neither of the defendants appeared before the Bench to answer the charge, evidence was taken in their absence, when the case was fully proved by the Chief Constable and a person named Sloan, who stated that several children playing in the public streets in the town would have been run over, had they not opportunely removed them to a place of safety on seeing the horses coming at full speed.

The Bench fined each of the defendants £5 and costs, which was paid. We hope that the result of this case will operate as a caution to persons galloping through the public thoroughfares; an example was required, and we have no doubt that others who think proper to indulge in freaks of this kind will be mulcted to the same extent, as the Magistrates are determined to put down such dangerous, practices.[3]

Furious drink-riders

Then there was the combination of speed and alcohol.  A rural worker in Ipswich for a spree, as was fell afoul of the law.

William Stewart, an up-country "flash-man,'" was confined by Mr. Hart, for being drunk and disorderly at Little Ipswich, and was fined five shillings. He was then, on the information of the Chief Constable, brought up for furious riding, and endangering the life of a child, as well as assaulting Mr Hart in the execution of his duty. Mr. H., however, withdrew the information, but the Justices considered him worthy of being fined £2.[4]

As children of the times often played in the streets, furious riding was punishable by substantial fines.

"Furiously Riding - On Tuesday last Richard Bostridge appeared at the Police Office to answer an information exhibited by the Chief Constable, for riding a horse in a furious manner through the streets of South Brisbane, on the previous Sunday.

Constable Swinburne deposed to the fact, and that he saw a little child fall down with fright as the defendant was galloping along Grey-street.  Mr. Little, for the defence, contended that there was nothing to show that defendant had urged on the horse, and that he had neither whip nor spur, but the Bench considered the case proved, and fined defendant 40s. with 5s. 6d. costs.

-- Yesterday Mr. Richard Sexton was charged on information with riding furiously at Kangaroo Point, on Sunday last. He pleaded   guilty, and was fined 20s., with 5s. 6d. costs.[5]

Technically, galloping through the street was not against the law. The offence of “furious riding” had to also involve “actual endangerment”. In 1854, a Mr. Orr had his charge dismissed due to lack of o proof of “actual endangerment”.

Understandably the local press expressed outrage by ending their report of the case with an exclamation mark!

POLICE CASES. - On Tuesday, Mr. James Orr, of South Brisbane, appeared to answer an information charging him with furiously riding though the town on the l8th January last. Mr. Anderson, District Constable at Kangaroo Point, deposed to having seen defendant, on the day named, galloping after a herd of horses, through the public streets; and Capt. Geary, the Harbour Master, deposed that he witnessed too same thing, and called the Constable's attention thereto.

The Bench, however, dismissed the case, as there was no direct proof that any person was "actually endangered" as required by the Act. (!)[6]

Early View of Brisbane Street, Ipswich

One defendant charged with furious riding down the main street of Ipswich in 1857, maintained that he was only breaking in a horse for a friend, and riding a horse “pretty hard” was part of the process.

 This explanation failed to impress the Bench and earned the urban horse-breaker a further admonishment.

Patrick Hill was brought up under the Towns Police Act for furious riding in Brisbane-street.   Mr. Cooke appeared for the defendant. The Chief Constable called Constable Harris to prove the fact; who stated that he had spoken to defendant   at the time, as there were a number of persons in   the street, who had scarcely time to get out of the   way.

Mr. Cooke called, as witness for the defence, Adam Watson, who stated that he was a horse-breaker by profession; that the horse was in his charge to break in, and he lent him to the defendant to ride and keep quiet. Mr. Cooke argued that it was the custom of the country,   when breaking in young horses, to ride them pretty hard, to keep down their temper.

The Chief Constable stated that, even in that case, the defendant had acted illegally, for according   to the 15th section of the same Act no person was allowed to break in horses in the streets. The bench found defendant guilty, and fined him £3 and costs, or one month in Brisbane gaol; they also told him that he had acted illegally in breaking in a horse in the public streets, and warned him not to do so for the future.[7]

Legal Furious Riding in Open Country

© K. C. Sbeghen, 2012.

[1] A ticket of leave man or “exile” i.e. an ex-convict.
[2] The Moreton Bay Courier Saturday 8 May 1847
[3] The Moreton Bay Courier Saturday 31 July 1847
[4] The Moreton Bay Courier Saturday 20 March 1852
[5] The Moreton Bay Courier Saturday 2 July 1853
[6] The Moreton Bay Courier Saturday 18 February 1854
[7] The Moreton Bay Courier Saturday 28 March 1857