P – Dancing reported by Police

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Practising the last set of quadrilles with great vivacity

MONDAY —John McMahon, John Dixon, John Oldfield, and John Pamington, were charged with having been taken up in Kent-street, practising the last set of quadrilles with great vivacity. The only music they had to keep time to, was McMahon whistling Michael Wiggins. They marched in an orderly manner to the watch-house, and now marched equally as orderly to the stocks, where they were billeted for three hours each.

Police Incidents ( 16 May 1833). Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 – 1842), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12846824


PARR, Arthur

Dancing seraband to mouth organ, 1833 Sydney

THURSDAY.-William Ball, William Horden, and Arthur Parr, three of the Sydney swell mob,  were placed at the bar, to clear themselves of the charge of vagabondism, which was made against them, they having been picked up in the street late overnight, dancing a seraband to music pulled out of a mouth organ. It appeared, that the prisoners were part of a gang of eight, who pig together in a wretched hovel, behind the market-place, from which they make nightly sorties on expeditions, that may be guessed at. There being no positive proof of any offence against them, anti they stoutly maintaining they were engaged on board ship, the Bench discharged them, with an order to the charleys to keep a bright eye upon them.

POLICE INCIDENTS. (1833, June 10). The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 – 1842), p. 2 (Supplement to the Sydney Herald.). Retrieved October 17, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12846998

The mouth-organ was developed in Europe in the 1820s and quickly became popular in the colony. This illustration features on the cover of an instruction manual which included ‘a selection of popular melodies, expressly arranged for the instrument’ (1830).  Courtesy of New York Public Library



Dancing a hornpipe in the street, 1838 Sydney

John Peppermill was charged with dancing a hornpipe in George-street, against the peace of our Sovereign Lady, &c. Fifty lashes.

NEWS OF THE DAY. (1838, July 4). The Sydney Monitor (NSW : 1828 – 1838), p. 2 (MORNING). Retrieved January 26, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article32160594


PERKIN, Jeremiah

Footing it most merrily at a hop, 1833 Sydney

James M’Guigan and Jeremiah Perkin were charged with taking a jaunt from Canterbury into Sydney, for the purpose of appearing at a hop in Kent-street, where they were found footing most merrily. The Bench thinking a little music would be in keeping with the dancing, sent them to try Jack Ketch’s music to the tune of twenty fire.

POLICE INCIDENTS. (1833, February 25). The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 – 1842), p. 2. Retrieved January 2, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12846298


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PHOIR, Henry

Dancing and shouting to the amusement of a rather numerous mob

Henry Phoir, with an incomprehensible kind of figure head, that seemed even to cause the Bench to marvel at its appearance, was charged with kicking up a terrible Connaught row in George Street, he stood he said upon his country, and was ready and willing lo encounter any native of the Emerald Isle, be he who he might.  A charley hearing a row, went to the spot, and found Henry minus hat, and shoes, dancing and shouting to the amusement of a rather numerous mob, who was laughing at, and irritating him, saying, go it Pat, your the boy for be-witching them &c. The constable called upon him to be quiet, but without effect, he offered to have a set too with the dignitary of the law himself, who not understanding such familiarity, handed him to a place of security. Phoir having heard the statement, and looked mighty foolish at it, handed out five shilling as an equivalent.

POLICE INCIDENTS. (1837, April 20). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), p. 3. Retrieved December 17, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2210502


PIKE, John

Watched the dancing

I am servant to Mr. Brownlow of the Canning Tavern; on or about the 6th August, about half-past 1 o’clock in the morning, I was at the house of a man named Mannington on the Rocks; I was perfectly sober; there were 14 or 15 persons, all strangers to me, in the house at the time; I had been there about an hour in company with a man named Martin Bryant, who was rather tipsy, and I went in from having heard a fiddle in the house;  I had nothing to do with the company, and stood between the place they called the bar, and the tap room looking on at the dancing.

Supreme Court. (1829, September 24). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), p. 3. Retrieved December 17, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2193477



Proprietor of a disorderly dancing house, 1832 Sydney

Rex versus Powell.- The defendant, who is proprietor of one of those public pests, and enemies to all good order, disorderly dancing houses, appeared to plead to an information charging him with harbouring on the 12th tilt, one Henry Tate, a prisoner assigned to Mr Steel; the said prisoner being at the time absent after the prescribed hours, without the consent of his master. The defendant acknowledged himself guilty, and was sentenced to pay a fine of twenty-six dollars, together with the costs of the proceedings.

Police Report. (1832, 14 January 1832). Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2204471

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