C – Dancing reported by Police

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CAINS, Margaret

Irish fling, 1832 Sydney

Margaret Cains, exhibiting the Irish fling at soirée, to the great delight of a numerous assembly, who were shouting ” Go it Mog, you’r the girl for bewitching them; hurrah, ould Ireland for ever, &c.” when the Charleys, who were attracted by the hubbub, introduced themselves, and the unfortunate Margaret was conveyed to the watchhouse. She now appeared to treat the case as a trifle, and was greatly astonished on being ordered for a month to Mrs. Gordon’s dancing academy.

*Mrs Gordon’s dancing academy refers to Mrs Gordon, the matron of the Female Factory in Parramatta.

POLICE INCIDENTS. (1832, August 2). The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 – 1842), p. 2. Retrieved January 13, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12844964


COCHRONE, Caroline

Encouraging fiddling and dancing, 1825 Sydney

AUGUST 20. Caroline Cochrone or Marton, free, charged with keeping a disorderly house, open for the reception of loose characters at unseasonable hours, and with encouraging fiddling and dancing therein, was brought up, and fully committed for trial.

POLICE REPORT. (1825, August 25). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), p. 2. Retrieved November 26, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2184378


COLE, William

Dancing in public house 1840 Hobart

John Wilson and William Cole, assigned to Mr. Nuttall, were charged with being in a public-house amusing themselves on the light fantastic toe ; fourteen days treadmill.

HOBART TOWN POLICE REPORT. (1840, May 15). The Hobart Town Courier and Van Diemen’s Land Gazette (Tas. : 1839 – 1840), p. 4. Retrieved January 2, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8747866



Dancing reels, 1836 Sydney


A few more constables’ stations on the South Head Road would not be amiss; they should also be scattered, not lounging in groups, or dancing reels; the result of such conduct is, that persons are robbed, though the South Head Road be comparatively free from robbers, with impunity, without a chance of being protected by the very men placed there for that purpose.

THE SYDNEY STREETS. (1836, April 16). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), p. 3. Retrieved January 13, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2203803



Dancing in the tap room, 1850-54 Hobart

Court records in Hobart for 1850-54 give some insights into the master-servant relationship. They are full of charges against the convict women: ‘going into a brothel with a man’; ‘not proceeding to be married’;…taking the master’s child to a pub;…dancing in the taproom;…not in the proper care of her husband.

Daniels, K. (1998). Convict women. St. Leonards, N.S.W: Allen & Unwin. p. 87


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COX, Ellen

A great noise of fiddling and dancing – case discharged, 1835 Sydney

Ellen Cox was brought forward by Constable Aldred, on the charge of keeping a disorderly house. Aldred deposed that an Sunday morning last at Church time, he heard on passing the prisoner’s house, a great noise of fiddling and dancing; and after it had continued for some time, the prisoner came outside the door and behaved in a disorderly manner, in “black guarding” some of the parties then engaged in the jollification inside the house, deponent thereupon took her into custody; she did not appear to be intoxicated. Mr. Windeyer observed that the Constable should be aware, that the proper course for him to have adopted, was to have lodged an information against her for keeping a disorderly house J as she was sober, he was of opinion that the Constable was wrong in putting her in the watch-house, he had thereby gone beyond his duty ; the defendant was discharged.

POLICE INCIDENTS. (1835, May 28). The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 – 1842), p. 2. Retrieved December 16, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12852269


COUST, Thomas

Glee singing and dancing round constable

Thomas Coust, Thomas Hackett, and Willam Biggs, a trio of the most amiable description, were charged with glee singing in George-street.

” A boat a boat and to the ferry, For we’ll go over to be merry,

To laugh and quiff and drink old sherry.”

A constable amazed at this course of proceeding, stepped up and wished to know what they were at, when they joined hands and danced in a circle round him; irritated at this, he surrounded them, as Pal would say, and conveyed them to the lock-up ; they now looked in each other’s face with amazement and appeared astonished at their vagaries. The usual question touching the pecuniary having been put and answered in the negative with a melancholy shake of the, they to the Stocks took their lonely way, there to repose and enjoy the healthful breezes and glorious sunshine for one hour each.

POLICE INCIDENTS. (1837, April 11). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), p. 3. Retrieved January 30, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2210369



The amusements of the evening being fiddling, dancing, 1830 Sydney

Two prisoners of the Crown, bearing the remarkable cognomical appellations, James Crankey, and John Snacks, were charged with being found at ” the midnight hour” preceding, in a certain disorderly house, situate in Castlereagh-street, where the constables found these Crankey gentlemen going Snacks in the enjoyment of sundry of the good things of this life, viz. rounds of beef, rum, and other such pic-nic matters, the amusements of the evening being accompanied with fiddling, dancing, &c. Twenty-five lashes each.

Police Incidents. (1830, September 2). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), p. 3. Retrieved December 16, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2195941


CROWD dancing

Shuffling and shaking their dirty duds in street, 1834 Hobart


The following police report of a case which was tried at the Mansion-house in October last, will serve to amuse the reader, and as an example to the justiciary in this island, of the practice pursued in similar cases at that great fount of police perfection, before one of the first and most successful chief magistrates of the city (Sir Peter Laurie) who has yet sat upon that bench:–

William Bonteflein and John Clarke, the one a violin player, the other a horn blower, were charged under the following circumstances:–

A police officer stated that as he was walking in Moorfields, the defendants, who were accompanied by two other musicians, a bass violincello player and a flute player, stopped to perform. The moment they struck up a crowd collected, and two Irish labourers, who were half drunk, kicked off their brogues and began to dance. The dancing caused a greater crowd, and at length the street was completely blocked up. The witness thinking it would be less dangerous to attempt to check the nuisance by expelling the musicians than by interfering with the Irishmen, requested that the former would shift their quarter, or, at least, play some slow tune that would not be so likely to innoculate people’s heels. This request, however, seemed to inspire the sons of Orpheus with greater spirit and energy, and they scraped and blew in such a manner that the whole crowd, men, women arid children, set to

“Shuffling and shaking their dirty duds”.

As the horn blower made the most noise the policemen went up to expostulate with him seriously, but, instead of making any impression upon him of the right kind, received such a salute to convinced him that there were more ways than one of sounding the horn. On receiving the blow he, of course; laid hold of his assailant, and both defendants fell upon him and tore his coat. The music, thereupon, suddenly stopped, and the Irishmen danced off to the next public house.

The Lord Mayor –Did they positively cause an obstruction? for if they did not you were wrong in preventing them from playing, as it is their way of getting bread and keeping themselves from the lazy ignominy of a poor house.

The officer said the obstruction caused by the Irishmen, who certainly would not have danced but for the music, was very great. Nobody could pass without getting a kick on, the shins at least, or perhaps in the face; they capered so high — (laughter).

The Lord Mayor–Well, defendants, what have you to say to this? I have not the slightest objection to your trade, but I can’t allow you to obstruct or to beat my officer.

The horn blower declared that the officer assaulted him first, and assured the Lord Mayor that there was no obstruction caused. It was true the people began to dance, but that he considered to be a good effect of his music, which never failed to enliven and invigorate even those who had hungry bellies. He had travelled through France and was convinced that music made all the difference between that lively people and stupid John Bull? (laughter).

The Lord Mayor–How long have you been street musicians?

The Horn blowers — Ten years my Lord, but we pick up very little. Although we are able to make a crowd shake their heels till they oil the ground, we can very seldom shake anything out of their pockets? (laughter).

The Lord Mayor — You must get this officer’s coat mended.

The Horn blower — I offered to mend it my- self but he wouldn’t consent, and I think his object was to get the very thing he refused to let us earn out of us — money.

The officer declared that he could not take money from an itinerant musician, who. in his opinion, was very little above a ballad singer or a beggar man.

The Horn blower — That’s because you have no ear for music. I’ve blown men into a good humour, but whatever way you give him the horn, it doesn’t signify, he’s dissatisfied — (laughter).

The Lord Mayor, finding that the officer thought nothing of the awkward manner in which he was made to contribute to the sound of the horn, desired the defendants to get the man’s coat mended in a proper manner, and discharged them.

POLICE REPORT. (1834, May 2). The Hobart Town Courier (Tas. : 1827 – 1839), p. 4. Retrieved January 21, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4185340

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