Sunday, March 3, 2013

Love Police Prevail

In 1848, three young men appeared in separate cases resulting from their frustrated amatory adventures on both land and sea.

The first two incidents occurred on the immigrant ship Artemisia which dropped anchor in Moreton Bay in December 1848. The arrival was much anticipated as the Artemisia was the first immigrant vessel to sail directly from England to Moreton Bay. The colony had previously obtained immigrants arriving via Sydney.

The Immigrant Ship Artemisia
On board were 240 immigrants of whom there were 47 single males and 19 single women.

Given previous scandals, single women on board immigrant ships were closely supervised and segregated, but despite the best efforts love would occasionally find a way. These young women were recruited for domestic service in the colonies. Many were escaping impoverished lives in England.

The single women were supervised by the ship’s doctor and a matron recruited from the married women on board. One of their duties was to maintain the chastity of the young ladies in their care.
Constables were recruited from among the married men to keep order on the crowded ship.

It appears one of these volunteer constables on board the Artemisia had made himself rather unpopular during the voyage with the single men given his officious and heavy-handed attitude.

There had been altercations on board as a result of thwarted romantic attachments and two young men were brought before the court upon arrival in Brisbane Town. The first to appear was a crew member.

Between Decks on an Immigrant Ship

DECEMBER 20.-James Greenfield, a seaman, belonging to the Artemisia, was charged with having assaulted Robert Scott, an emigrant by that vessel, and who had been appointed to act as constable on board, on the 13th instant, while the ship was lying in Moreton Bay.

It appeared by the evidence of Dr. Barton, Captain Ridley, and one of the immigrants, that Scott had rendered himself obnoxious to the crew by the strict manner in which he performed his duty, in preventing the sailors from obtaining access to that part of the vessel appropriated to the unmarried women; and that upon two previous occasions he had been assaulted in consequence. [1]

Immigrants on deck
Obviously some romantic bond had been established during the voyage. Now that the immigrants were about to disembark, it appears the sailor tried to visit the object of his affections. When his way was blocked by the officious “constable’, the seaman did not react well.

On the day laid in the complaint, he was charged by the prisoner with having reported to the surgeon that he (prisoner) had gained access to a part of the ship where he was not allowed to be; and on complainant denying the imputation, the prisoner struck him a violent blow on the face, and afterwards twice repeated the assault.

The prisoner did not deny the offence but stated that he only struck one blow.  

The Bench having severely animadverted upon the misconduct of the prisoner, sentenced him to pay a fine of £4 7s. 6d., with 12s. 6d. costs, or to be imprisoned in Sydney Gaol for two months.[2]

Deck Scene of Immigrant Ship
(The Graphic  187
The next to appear was a young man caught up in similar circumstances. He had been trying to rescue his inamorata who had been confined for “improper behaviour”.

John Loudon was next charged, by the same complainant, with having committed an assault upon him, by pushing him, on the 27th of August last. It appeared that this offence had arisen out of similar circumstances to the last; and, in addition, it was proved, by the Captain and Dr. Barton, that the prisoner had acted in a very violent and insolent manner, by attempting to rescue one of the emigrants whom the Doctor had ordered to be placed under constraint for improper behaviour; and by telling his Captain, when cautioned as to his conduct; that he "did not mind getting into a scrape."

The threats of the prisoner had been so violent towards complainant that the Chief Officer had recommended Dr. Barton to remove complainant from his office, for fear that they might be carried into execution. This, however, the Doctor refused to do, as he was determined to maintain discipline, by supporting Scott in the discharge of his duty; but, as a matter of prudence, complainant was removed to another part of the vessel.

The Bench considered, the case clearly proved, and sentenced the prisoner to pay a fine of £4 7s. 6d with 8s. 6d. costs, or in default to be committed to Sydney Gaol for two months.[3]   
The third case involved a young bullock-driver, who was nabbed by a passing constable, while wooing the object of his affections beneath her window.

Thomas Graham was next charged with having been on Mr. G.S. Tucker's premises, at South Brisbane, for an unlawful purpose, at between ten and eleven o'clock on the previous evening.

The prisoner, who is a bullock-driver, in the employment of Captain Collins, had apparently been desirous of whispering a few sweet words to Mr. Tucker's servant woman, who did not receive a highly flattering character from her master. 

Constable McGuire saw the prisoner at the chamber window of the fair Scrubalinda; and apprehended him. There are two circumstances worthy of note, as the character of the humblest individual should be sacred until there be proof of guilty.

 It was   sworn that the girl was in the habit of leaving her bed-room window open, and it was also sworn by the constable that he saw the prisoner before he went to the window, and that, even if he entered the room at all, which seemed doubtful, he came out again instantly.

The Bench said that the prisoner had subjected himself, under the Vagrant Act, to six months' imprisonment, but, at the intercession of Mr. Tucker, and considering all the circumstances, the sentence would be seven days' hard labour in Sydney Gaol.[4]

The blindfolded god Eros (Bottecelli)

Thus did the love police prevail to frustrate the best efforts of Cupid and Eros.

© K. C. Sbeghen, 2013.

[1] The Moreton Bay Courier Saturday 23 December 1848
[2] The Moreton Bay Courier Saturday 23 December 1848
[3] The Moreton Bay Courier Saturday 23 December 1848
[4] The Moreton Bay Courier Saturday 23 December 1848

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