D – Dancing reported by Police

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DANCING master strikes pupil

1832 Sydney

A man applied at the Police Office, on Monday, for a summons against a dancing master, who had struck his toes violently with his fiddlestick, because they had not a sufficiently angular inclination, he — the applicant – -had no idea of such treatment, as he was severely troubled with corns. The Bench dismissed him with a hint at the old adage, ” if you play at bowls, you must take rubbers.”

DOMESTIC INTELLIGENCE. (1832, July 5). The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 – 1842), p. 2. Retrieved August 10, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12844822

A dancing master corrects his pupil’s angular inclination (the feet were required to be turned out).
The Awkward Squad Studying the Graces. Thomas Rowlandson (1809) London.


DAVIDSON, Josiah and KENN, John

Ordered to cut capers, 1833 Sydney

Josiah Davidson and John Kenn, from absenting themselves from their master’s house, and philandering it in the Domain with a couple of Rovers, was ordered to cut a few capers for three days at Murray’s dancing academy*.

*A satirical name for the treadmill.  Andrew Murray was superintendent of the Carters’ Barracks from 1827 to 1834 and was in charge of the government treadmill.  They were located near today’s Central Station.

POLICE INCIDENTS. (1833, July 11). The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 – 1842), p. 3. Retrieved January 26, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12847243

Two treadmills were installed in the Carters Barracks, Sydney in 1823. They remained in service for the next 25 years.
NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC. (1835, June 17). New South Wales Government Gazette.


DENHAM, Thomas

Dancing in a public house, 1840 Hobart

Thomas Denham, holding a ticket-of-leave, was charged by constable Martin with misconduct, in being in Mr. Walton’s public-house, dancing with a favorite lady. His ticket-of-leave was suspended, and he was sent to hard labour on the roads for six months.

Hobart Town Police Report. (1840, 14 April 1840). Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 – 1857), p. 7. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8750654

Inside a public house in England – note the seated fiddler. Isaac Robert Cruikshank (1847) England. © The Trustees of the British Museum



DISORDERLY public houses

1840 Sydney Part 1

Disorderly Public Houses.–We have heard grievous complaints from several of our Sydney correspondents, respecting the disorderly manner in which several public houses in the neighbourhood of the Rocks are conducted; particularly two, one of which is situated near the lower end of Gloucester-street, and the other in the immediate neighbourhood of the Dockyard. The former is considerably the worse. Something should be done by the local authorities to prevent the mischievous influence which these dens of infamy exercise to the destruction of the moral and physical powers of the community.

 Domestic Intelligence. (1840, April 17). Australasian Chronicle (Sydney, NSW : 1839 – 1843), p. 2. Retrieved January 21, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article31728086

  1840 Sydney Part 2

PUBLIC HOUSES.-Neither of the houses referred to under this head in our last is that kept by Mr. Millar, which, we learn, is one of tire best conducted in town, The one we meant is a low haunt in the neighbourhood, where a system of dancing is kept up, and where what is not already depraved must become vitiated by contamination.

PUBLIC-HOUSES. -There are now two hundred and twenty-three applications for publicans’ general licenses posted at the Police-office. The number of public-houses in flourishing trade, in a town containing less than twenty-five thousand inhabitants, shows that there is ample scope for the exertions of the Temperance Society in Sydney. The magistrates should be very careful in examining into the character of the applicants, so that licenses should not be granted to disreputable persons, or those who have heretofore kept disorderly houses.

PETTY SESSIONS.-The petty sessions stand postponed till Monday next, in order to give publicity to the names of the applicants for publican’s licenses, a list of whom may be seen at the Police-office. The reason for so doing is that the public at large may have an opportunity of inspecting the names of those so applying, to enable them, if they know aught against the character of any individual on the list, to communicate it at once to the magistrates.

Domestic Intelligence. (1840, 24 April 1840). Australasian Chronicle (Sydney, NSW : 1839 – 1843), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article31728125

Carousing with low company in a drinking den. Robert Cruikshank, London (1826) © The Trustees of the British Museum


DISORDERLY houses defined

[In London] Sailors sometimes tore down bawdy houses because they were so regularly fleeced and cheated in them.

Any house having a room for music, dancing, drinking or public entertainment, which was not licensed for that purpose, would be deemed a disorderly house.

Norton, R. (2012). The Georgian Underworld: A Study of Criminal Subcultures in Eighteenth-Century England Retrieved from http://www.rictornorton.co.uk/gu04.htm


DIXON, Ann and BAKER, Dinah

Dancing in tavern, 1840 Hobart

Ann Dixon and Dinah Baker, two ticket-of-leave ladies, were charged by Constable Adams with dancing in Mr. Walton’s tavern last evening; fourteen days in a cell on bread and water.

Domestic Intelligence. (1840, 24 April 1840). Australasian Chronicle (Sydney, NSW : 1839 – 1843), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article31728125



Practising the last set of quadrilles with great vivacity, 1833 Sydney

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

Michael Wiggins was a popular dance tune associated with the ‘Burlesque Tragic Opera’ Bombastes Furioso  – a play performed in the convict theatre at Emu Plains.


DODMAN dancing to pipe and tabor

1837 Sydney

On Sunday a woman named Bridget Quigley was given into the custody of the Police, on a charge of cutting and maiming, under the following circumstances; -A Mrs Dedman, who resides next door to Mrs. Q. in Pitt-street, upon coming home from church, was startled at hearing the sound of pipe and tabor, and dancing in her neighbour’s house. She observed it was scandalous such a circumstance should occur upon the Sabbath ; on hearing which, Mrs. Q. rushed up the steps of Mrs. D.’s house, and struck her two or three times; Mrs. Dodman pushed her away, upon which Mrs. Quigley went into her house and brought out a dinner knife, with which she struck at the face of Mrs. D. several times ; the blows were warded off, but in so doing Mrs. D. received a severe wound in the right arm.

SHIP NEWS. (1837, February 16). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), p. 2. Retrieved January 26, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2209416

The pipe and tabor had a long history in England and were commonly used for dancing. A player can be seen in the right of this illustration.
Lawful Liberty Thomas Lane (1822) London. © The Trustees of the British Museum


DUGGAN, Johannah and O’BRIEN, Mary

Going to a hop 1837 Sydney

Johannah Duggan and Mary O’Brien were jointly charged with absconding from their service to which they had been assigned the enormous time of a week. They were taken into custody on the Race Course, and were evidently going to a hop, a bundle being found with them containing sundry fancy dresses well adapted for that purpose, together with pumps, silk stockings, and caps of a cut and ornament not to be sneezed at, so that it was clear to trip it on the light fantastic toe, was the object, and that alone. The only defence they attempted to offer, was looking with a vacant stare into each others face. The Bench cut the matter short by sending each to the Factory* for two months.

*Parramatta Female Factory

POLICE INCIDENTS. (1837, May 25). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), p. 3. Retrieved January 2, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2211061

It’s unlikely Johannah and Mary looked as grand as this London fashion plate from 1836, but the description in the police report suggests a certain degree of splendor. Fashion plate from the Ladies Pocket Magazine

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