O – Dancing reported by Police

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Dancing a hornpipe on her person 1832 Sydney

Wilkinson versus O’Brien.- Misther O’Brien, an importation of extraordinary dimensions, from ” the land of paraties,” made his appearance, much against his will, to answer a charge of assault, which Mrs. Wilkinson, a lady from the West-end, was in waiting to prefer against him. The parties are neighbours, but it were presumption, indeed, to consider that a reason why a person of the defendant’s plebeian extraction should dare aspire to terms of intimacy with one who carries in her veins the blood of all the Wilkinsons ; still more, that he should take the unwarrantable liberty, as now alleged, of walking into her room, and seating himself in the midst of the snug party she had assembled to partake of her Christmas nic nacs.

” Dear me, how very rude you are, Mr. O’Brien,” exclaimed the fair hostess, on observing this unwelcome intrusion, “well, I wow and pertest, I do’nt know how some people was brought up ; but I’d have you to understand, as we wants none of your company.”

The defendant, however, finding himself in the midst of good cheer and pretty faces, was not a whit inclined to take the hint, and some more complimentary speeches were exchanged, which at length so ex-cited his choler, that he laid most of the party right and left at his feet, bestowing an especial snare of his fistic favours on the ladies, considering, probably, that they would be less likely to repay the loan than the other sex. The plaintiff ran to the assistance of one who had been thus served, on which he very gallantly knocked her down also, and wound up the amusements of the evening by dancing a hornpipe on her person. These matters having been sworn to by the witnesses, Mister O’Brien was held to bail, to answer the charge at the Sessions.

Police Report. (1832, January 5). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), p. 3. Retrieved January 13, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2204335



Danced to barrel organ at fancy ball, ordered to practice Bell’s quadrilles, 1836 Sydney

Mary O’Brien was charged with bolting, it appeared that Mary had a taste for tripping it on the light fantastic toe, and to indulge that innocent propensity she had made herself scarce the evening before, and betook herself to that classical part of Sydney y’clipt* the Rocks, where a fancy hall was to be held that evening, having attired herself in the character of a match girl, she commenced amusing the company by dancing a pas suel to music ground out of a barrel organ, in the middle of one of the smartest evolutions, one of those destroyers of harmony a charley obtruded his head, a most unwelcome guest, and claimed Mary as a prize ; Mary clung round his neck to suffocation, and tried every blandishment to have her spree out, but the man was made of opposition stuff, and cared as little for the tear of beauty as he did for that phenomenon in mechanics, the fifth wheel of a coach. Mary was ordered to practice Bell’s new set of quadrilles for a month, by which time it is calculated she will be perfect.

* y’clipt =  called; named

POLICE INCIDENTS. (1836, October 29). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), p. 3. Retrieved January 2, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2207450

Dancing to a barrel-organ.  Courtesy of New York Public Library


O’BRIEN, Mary and DUGGAN, Johannah

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.

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


O’CONNEL, Daniel

Dancing in George Street, 1833 Sydney

Daniel O’Connel, not the great agitator, although he thought fit to agitate the good folks of George Street the previous evening, by shouting, singing, dancing, &c, until they all thrust their heads out of their windows to see what was up ; and their shouting brought soon the conservatory, who carried off Dan after a desperate attempt to dissolve the Union. The Bench ordered him to be stocked as cash was not to be had.

POLICE INCIDENTS. (1833, October 7). The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 – 1842), p. 2. Retrieved December 16, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12847886


Dancing in the street.  Reel of Tullochgorum. Walter Geike (1830s) Edinburgh © National Museums Scotland



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

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