F – Dancing reported by Police

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FAY, Mary

Waltzing, 1832 Sydney

TUESDAY.-Mary Fay, a tol-lol, so-so body, was placed, kicking and struggling at the bar of the Court, on a charge of visiting the Sydney St. Giles’s, whenever opportunity presented itself, and on the previous night was diskivered, as the constable said, waltzing and showing off with a fal-la-lal, lal-lal-lal-la, and no mistake, your Worship, but of all the rumbustious customers I ever met vid, this is the crowner.

Mary.-I’ll crown ye, you rapscallion; och, murthei, sure, you don’t credit the wiitin.

The Bench not only credited the statement, but gave her a bill on Mrs. Gordon at six weeks date.

POLICE INCIDENTS. (1832, November 15). The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 – 1842), p. 3. Retrieved January 31, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12845741

Many convicts came from St Giles – the worst slum area in London. At the time the Australian equivalent was the Rocks in Sydney.
A sweetheart in St Giles. Richard Newton (1795) London. © The Trustees of the British Museum


FIGHTING and hornpipe

1832 Parramatta

Supreme Court

FRIDAY. AUGUST 17. [except]

(Before Mr. Justice STEPHEN.) William Jaques, Hugh Taylor, Joseph Rookin, Charles Blakefield, James Hashman, and Thomas Barrett, were indicted, William Jaques as principal, and the other prisoners as accessories, for the feloniously killing and slaying one John Stone, at Parramatta, on the 14th of May last.

I cannot say how long the fight lasted, or how many rounds there were; they fought a good while..

Stone was knocked down several times during the fight … a few rounds before the fight ended, two gentlemen in a gig, whom I heard the people say were umpires, said that Stone fell without a blow, and the fight was ended ; I was at the other side of the ring, and I heard a heavy fall ; I then went over and saw Bumble supporting Stone on his knee, and his head was loose on his neck (!) ; I saw Bumble picking up Stone ; before the fight really ended, the umpires gave it in favour of the native, as Stone fell without a blow ; then there was a great argument ; Stone said he was not half beat, that he could dance a hornpipe ; Tom Corduroy said that the money was won by Jaques, and so did the prisoner, Blakefield ; after Stone said he was not beaten, and that he could dance a hornpipe, he came up to his man in a fighting attitude, and they fought a few rounds more before I beard the heavy fall which I have already described ; there was no more fighting after that ; I never heard Stone speak again ; he did not appear to be much beaten ; Jaques appeared to be more punished than he ; when they found that Stone was senseless, the greater number of persons went away to the public house; a few people remained and tried to recover him by slapping his hands and throwing water on his face ; I then took him on my back and carried him to the huts of the party he belonged to ; he was alive then, but quite speechless; he died about daylight.

The jury found the prisoners not guilty.

Supreme Court. (1832, August 18). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), p. 2. Retrieved January 13, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2208117

A Boxing Match, Thomas Rowlandson (1812) London.
Boxing was regarded as a “manly pursuit” and patronised by the upper levels of society. making it an acceptable entertainment. The competitive nature extended to include dancing matches, as apparent in the above evidence at the Parramatta court.


Fisher, Elizabeth & Matthew; Murray, Hamilton; a black fiddler

Dancing a reel on the King’s Wharf,  1833 Sydney

Thursday.-EIizabeth Fisher, Matthew Fisher, and Hamilton Murray, belonging to the Waterloo, were charged with dancing a reel on the King’s Wharf, at the hour of eleven overnight, to the music of a black fiddler*, who, seated on an anchor stock, most manfully scraped away, all parties being at that time in a very happy state of forget-fulness. On the charleys making their appearance, the three prisioners made some demur to their sports being interuptcd, which caused them to be marched off to the Watch-house ; the black fiddler being too good a judge to be caught in that man-ner, bolted, pulling out of his instrument as he went ” Off she goes.” Elizabeth and Matthew were discharged, as their faces were new to the Bench ; Hamilton, was under the necessity of handing out the rhino, to prevent an exhibition of his ancles.

*possibly John Randall

POLICE INCIDENTS. (1833, September 2). The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 – 1842), p. 2. Retrieved February 26, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12847612



Dancing to St Patricks day in the morning, 1832 Sydney

Sentenced three months third class factory Mary Fitzgerald for leaving her employ without leave, and being picked up in a bad house in George-street, in company with a blind fiddler, and two sailors who were tripping on the light fantastic toe, to the dulcet strains of ” St. Patrick’s day in the morning” performed by our Botany Paganini* on two strings, was sentenced six weeks to the third Class of the Factory. The Bench informed the prisoner, whose circle of acquaintance extended over the rocks, that a recommendation would-be forwarded, that she should be assigned in Sydney no more.

*The Botany Bay Paganini was the blind fiddler, Joe Love.

Domestic Intelligence. (1832, May 2). The Sydney Monitor (NSW : 1828 – 1838), p. 3 (AFTERNOON). Retrieved January 2, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article32077505

Saint Patrick’s Day in the Morning. Isaac Cruikshank (1790) London



Dancing a fandango, 1837 Sydney

Mary Foley, with a figure-head much resembling a huge turnip, decorated with coquelicot* ribbons, was placed at the bar, charged by constable Jones with dancing a Fandango for the entertainment of the proprietors of York-street stock, accompanying the display with specimens of her powers in Billingsgate accomplishments. When before the Bench she hung her head and tried (albeit, unused, to the melting mood,) to drop a pearly gem—but, it was no go. Being well known as a notorious vagabond and common prostitute, she was sentenced to the first class in the Factory, to be kept to hard labour, for four months.

* Coquelicot is a shade of red. The term was originally a French vernacular name for the wild corn poppy.

Police Incidents. (1837, December 30). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), p. 2. Retrieved January 22, 2021, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2214718

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