Friday, September 14, 2012

Troublesome Characters at Large

In March 1851, two troublesome characters were mentioned in the Brisbane court, one for assault and the other for being assaulted.  The first, a local carouser living at Kangaroo Point, was charged with assaulting her house-mate.

Kangaroo Point Hotel

A TROUBLESOME CHARACTER. - Ann Ferguson, a well-known visitant at the Police-office, was yesterday presented at court by Constable John Conroy, under the following circumstances:-

On the previous evening Mrs. Ferguson had been indulging in vinous fluids to a considerable extent, and reeled home to Kangaroo Point in a state of the most exalted independence; and Catherine Driscoll, who lived in the same house with her, having opened the door for her, was immediately rewarded by the ungrateful Ann Ferguson seizing her by the hair of the head, and buffeting her in a most ferocious and scientific manner.[1]

Luckily there was a policeman nearby who intervened to stop the attack, and was set upon by the bellicose Mrs. Ferguson.

Mrs. Driscoll screamed murder, and Constable John Conroy, bursting open the door to assist her, was saluted by Ann with a blow on the mouth, and his shirt was tom to shreds before he could get her to the watch-house.

The Constable finally managed to restrain the belligerent, but more trouble lay ahead.

She jumped out of the punt in crossing the river, and was nearly drowned. The Bench ordered her to find bail for good behaviour for six months,-herself in £10, and two sureties in £5 each: and, in default thereof, to be committed to gaol.

Boat crossing the river from Kangaroo Point

The second case involved one James Macalister, a resident of Fortitude Valley. After stumbling back towards his residence after celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day in the traditional libratory manner, proceeded to wake up his neighbours. Understandably they did not react well, particularly one William Hyland.  Perhaps there was already some bad blood between Mr. Hyland and his bibulous neighbour.

ST. PATRICK'S DAY IN THE MORNING - The festal day of Erin's patron saint passed off in Brisbane, with remarkable quietness, the only broken head that came under our observation having been that of James Macalister, who appealed to the Magistrates at the Police Office on Wednesday last, by charging one William Hyland with assaulting him.

It appeared from the evidence of the complainant, that he and the defendant resided in that pleasant locality known as Fortitude Valley, in the suburbs of North Brisbane, and that late in the night of the 17th instant, Hyland had beaten him about the head with a broomstick, causing divers contusions, the patches on which were visible enough.

Hotel in Fortitude Valley

A witness named Thomas Crawley threw some additional light on the matter by deposing that Macalister had come home very "glorious" at about one o'clock on the morning of the 18th, and had annoyed the neighbours, and Hyland amongst the rest, whom he challenged out.

The witness saw Hyland come out, and saw a scuffle between him and Macalister, but did not know who struck the first blow. Afterwards witness went to look for a constable, and on his return saw Macalister pick up something and go towards Hyland's house, calling upon him to come out.

Hyland came out, and told Macalister to drop the stone he had in his hand. After this witness went to bed. Defendant stated that he had taken up a broomstick afterwards, which his wife took from him, and complainant then seized it and struck him with it on the wrist, upon which he wrenched it away and beat the complainant with it.

Colonial Residence Fortitude Valley

It appears from the evidence, that there was a strong case for provocation and self-defence, but the bench found that the assault was unjustified.

Mr. Roberts, who appeared for the complainant, contended that an assault had been fully proven, as there was nothing to show justification for the violence with which his client had evidently been treated. The Bench, after consideration of the case, fined defendant 20s., with 10s. 6d. costs, which was paid.[2]

© K. C. Sbeghen, 2012.

[1] The Moreton Bay Courier Saturday 22 March 1851
[2] The Moreton Bay Courier Saturday 22 March 1851

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