K-L – Dancing reported by Police

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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 – it was comically referred to as the dancing academy.  Andrew Murray was the superintendent of the Carters’ Barracks from 1827 to 1834 and was in charge of the government treadmill (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



Dancing at convict wedding 1826 Sydney

Kingshaw v. Wife Jane — This was a case of matrimonial strife, and unhappily one in its leading features not at all unfrequent in this country. Defendant is a currency lass. Fifteen moons have filled their “horns” since she and the confiding, deserted, forgiving, disconsolate, “stronger vessel” had joined their mutual hands, and apparently hearts, at the altar, whence many a pair had before sailed on their matrimonial cruise, some still favored by the prospering breezes of love, duty, and affection, whilst others had their course retarded amongst the shallows of strife and bickering, and all their dearest hopes, wrecked by the gales of adversity. Only a few short months previously and their wedding feast had been celebrated by dancing and drinking, and eating and singing, but now how changed — the three last months had glided away in somewhat of a less cat and dog-like, nature, but before the sixteenth moon from the time of their nuptials could shew her ruddy face, “or e’er those shoes were green,” the fair or frail one packed up all the worldly goods with which her partner had endowed her, and also a part and parcel of other articles, to wit, some “marvellously foul linen,” which were entrusted to her for the purpose of being fairly rid of their very foul incumbrances. She trudged it away right merrily to Sydney, leaving her unsuspecting rib to put up with his fate, as re-resignedly as his temperament would admit, and engaged as a fille de chambre. The yet loving spouse, by some natural instinct, scented her place of concealment: What will not love effect? He procured a simple warrant for her apprehension; despite of this, she continued housed, for a few weeks longer, but un-luckily being once seen, and that once too often, was apprehended, sent to gaol, and, to “sum up this sad eventful story,” brought before their worships for disposal. Plaintiff was resolute in a desire of having his wife returned to her home, but the obstinate frail one was as resolute in keeping aloof, and preferred the idea of becoming an inmate of the Factory’s drear halls, rather than returning to partake of matrimonial comforts. Here the case rests for the present, defendant being ordered to be remanded; an opportunity of altering her re-solution being thus afforded her.

“POLICE INCIDENTS.” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848) 30 August 1826: 3. Web. 10 Aug 2016 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article37072080>.

A Tailor’s Wedding. Thomas Rowlandson (1814) London. Courtesy of New York Public Library.


LACEY, Timothy and Mr NASH

Footing it at a hop 1826 Parramatta

Monday last, it seems, was a choice day of fun and variety to the Parramatta folks. In the first place six women eloped, some time in the evening of that day, from the Factory. Mr. Nash’s winning horse Junius took a stroll through the town decked out with blue ribbons and otherwise most “gorgeously apparalled;” and Mr. Nash himself gave a “hop” and supper to many friends which. were kept up unremittingly to a late hour that night. A native youth named Timothy Lacey, who had been confined in Parramatta Gaol for selling spirits without a license, and who, it was intended, should remain there for a term of three months, hearing of the route, and that a certain currency lass, to whom he had but lately been paying his devoirs, was footing it away on the ” light fantastic toe,” broke from his coujineuienr,~ made his unexpected appearance among the merry party, as merry as the best of them, and after dancing away until midnight, returned again to his solitary confinement, before the constables who went in quest of him, armed with blunderbuss, pistols and cutlass, could reach the prison house.

*A hop = a dance

Footing it = a dance step

No title (1826, June 24). The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), p. 3. Retrieved November 26, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article37074780



Irish Jig, 1834 Sydney

Ann Lambert, assigned to Mrs. Hely, made her appearance at the bar for about the twentieth time on a charge, viz. being fond of roaming without leave having been obtained. She was taken out of a house in Goulburn-street, at ten o’clock on Tuesday evening, by a trap, while in the act of dancing an Irish jig. To affect a change in her roaming prowess, Ann was sent to the third class of the Factory at Parramatta, to ruminate for 3 months.

Police Incidents. (1834, October 17). The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), p. 3. Retrieved January 13, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article42005131

Women were sent to the Third Class at the Parramatta Female Factory as a disciplinary measure, or for offences committed while on assignment. They were restricted to unpaid menial tasks and hard labour.
Detail from Ways and Means or the Last Shift, cartoon featuring Parramatta Female Factory. Edward Winstanley (c1844′). Dixson Library, State Library of NSW


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Hyde Park Barracks, 1831 Sydney

Monday, September 5.-Two break o’ day lads*, cognominated Sweeney and Leary, were placed at the bar, with no little difficulty to give an account of sundry tricks played by them in the Barrack-square the previous day. It appeared, that on Saturday they had been at a wake, and being determined to keep it up, they proceeded to the Barracks, where they commenced singing, dancing, and cutting divers capers on the grass; when ordered to walk, they declared they would not, as there was a degree of esprit de corps in their amusements, that would exactly suit the taste of the officers. They were sent to the stocks for six hours each, as penance for their offence.

*Break o’day (Peep o’day) lads were part of an Irish Protestant agrarian society which sought to drive Catholics out of County Armagh, Ireland.

*esprit de corps -a feeling of pride and mutual loyalty shared by the members of a group.

Police Incidents. (1831, September 12). The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 – 1842), p. 3. Retrieved January 13, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12843495

Irish traditions of music and dance remained strong in early colonial Australia.  “Rustic Dance in Ireland.” A dance outside Dan O’Leary’s. Illustrated London News, 6 Dec. 1879, p. 538.



Dancing in a public house 1840 Hobart

Tuesday May 5, 1840

John Leary, holding a ticket-of-leave, for misconduct in a public-house, singing and dancing, was sent to the cells for fourteen days on bread and water.

Hobart Town Police Report. (1840, May 12). Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 – 1857), p. 7. Retrieved November 26, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8750711


LINDSAY, Eleanor

Shuffling the brogue 1826 Sydney

Eleanor Lindsay, appeared to a summons taken out by a Mr. Pashley, on Wednesday last, for keeping a disorderly house. A legal objection which was started on behalf of the defendant, contended that the present charge was brought under the 25 Geo. 2d. chap. 36, which rendered it necessary that certain forms should be gone through before a party could be put upon trial; these forms not having been observed — the present information must fail. The case was dismissed.

The defendant was again detained on another information, for selling spirituous liquors without a licence. Chapman a Constable, deposed, that at the hour of twelve o’clock at night, on Saturday last, he saw twelve persons of both sexes, congregated in the defendant’s house; some of them were seated, whilst others, kept “shuffling the brogue,” to the humming drone of a bag-pipe; there were moreover to be seen glasses of all dimensions, with liquids suited to many tastes, spirits, wine, and that refreshing beverage ginger beer. Campbell, another constable, had witnessed the same sights. —Rochester attempted to account for all this carousing, alleging that it was he, upon becoming mate, of the brig Minerva, who gave a treat to which he had invited some ship-mates, and other “jolly dogs,” and that he had paid for spirits and wine, which were supplied from a neighbouring public-houses. Jas. Merrington corroborated the last witness’s testimony, but the Bench being of opinion that no credence should be given to a story, evidently made up; convicted the defendant in the penalty of 25/- and costs.

POLICE INCIDENTS. (1826, June 3). The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), p. 3. Retrieved January 13, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article37071390

A Scottish dance to the ‘humming drone of the bagpipe’. From Hone’s “The Everyday Book or Popular Amusements” (1825-6). Artist George Cruikshank. © The Trustees of the British Museum



Eating, drinking, dancing, singing and smoking, 1826 Sydney

Harry Littleworth, worth nothing at all, and bearing a striking resemblance to the ghost of a scrag of mutton, was placed at the bar on charge of eating, drinking, dancing, singing and smoking with a variety of other pleasant and genteel accomplishments, but as to work, heaven save the mark, that was quite out of his way. Harry who exhibited symptoms of obesity and had nothing to allege in his defence but that he was much astonished at the charge, was sent to reduce his system at Murray’s regulator* for seven days.

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

POLICE INCIDENTS. (1826, June 3). The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), p. 3. Retrieved January 13, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article37071390

Treadmill at Brixton Prison in London designed by William Cubitt, c1817.


LOCHRAINE, Catherine

Hornpipe on the tea-table 1832 Sydney

Catherine Lochraine, was accused by her master of getting drunk and dancing a hornpipe on the tea-table. Kate declared that ” her master had given a very incorrect version of the affair ; the fact was, he asked her to take a glass of rum, and because she didn’t choose to take it, he sent her to the watchhouse. This tale wouldn’t go down, and the Bench sent her to reside a month with Mrs. Gordon.

Police Report. (1832, December 15). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), p. 3. Retrieved January 12, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2209904

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