June 1874 – What the papers said 150 years ago

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High-wire Act (Microsoft Bing AI Image)
High-wire Act (Microsoft Bing AI Image)

News / Police Courts

A BATTLE ROYAL – The Newtownards Chronicle and County Down Observer 13 June 1874

The Newtownards Chronicle reported on an assault case with a tangle of summonses:

Agnes Heburn summoned Agnes M’Cann and Mary Rogers for assault, and for maliciously breaking her door. Agnes M’Cann summoned Jane Adair and Mary Clotworthy for an assault, and Jane Adair summoned Agnes McCann for an assault.

The Newtownards Chronicle and County Down Observer 13 June 1874

The reporter noted that “Mr. Gibson appeared to prosecute on behalf of Heburn, and to defend Adair and Clotworthy”.

The circumstances leading up to the incident was an argument between Heburn and a woman named M’Dowell about their children (the specific reason for the dispute is not specified).

M’Cann and Rogers interfered on behalf of Mrs. M’Dowell, while Clotworthy and Adair sided with Mrs. Heburn. The result was mayhem:

A general fight was the result. Rogers used a bed post and an old spade, and M’Cann a shovel shaft, with which handy weapons they broke Mrs. Heburn’s door. Miss Clotworthy had a crook as her weapon, with which she “split” Miss M-Cann on the head, and otherwise disfigured her.

The Newtownards Chronicle and County Down Observer 13 June 1874

On completion of the evidence Rogers and M’Cann were each ordered to pay a fine of 10s and costs, or be imprisoned a fortnight, and Clotworthy £1 and costs, or one month’s imprisonment.

‘A Volcanic Countenance’ – Belfast Morning News 1st June 1874

The Belfast Morning News on 1st June 1874 brought us a case from the Belfast Petty Sessions of Catherine Nelson, a women described rather poetically as “an old woman, with a volcanic countenance bearing the seams and wrinkles of more than a human century”.

Catherine was charged with “a moral eruption” in North Street – being drunk and disorderly. When challenged she spat in the face of Constable Nolan “necessitating the employment of a car to remove her vileness from the public gaze, and being generally outrageous“.

Catherine was ordered to pay 10s and costs, or retire from public life for a month.

Correspondence / Comments

What to do with your husband when shopping – The Newtownards Chronicle and County Down Observer 6 June 1874

The Newtownards Chronicle, on 6th June, carries an article from the Standard reporting on the “enterprising proprietors of the Bon Marche in Paris.” These wise gentlemen observed that one of the greatest obstacles to a successful shopping experience on the part of the ladies was “the ill disguised impatience on the part of the male envoy”.

A “bold stroke of genius” encouraged the proprietor of the Marche to overcome this difficulty through the installation of a billiard room for the use of the gentlemen to amuse themselves while the ladies continue their shopping in peace, making their purchases uninterrupted.

A word of warning is included for those gentlemen indulging in their sporting distraction:

Alas unconscious of their doom “The little lambkins play”
while the bargains that are to deprive them of their fleece are made outside.

In addition, any ladies who complete their purchases before the conclusion of the billiard game have the option to enjoy a relaxing dejeuner without their companions.

The reporter is no doubt as to the obvious success of this bold experiment.

The Waiter – Belfast Morning News 8th June 1874

The Belfast Morning News, carrying a report from the Daily News, suggests a solution to the problem often faced by those gentlemen in restaurants wearing formal attire (specifically morning suits) i.e. being mistaken for a waiter and asked to take a food/ drinks order.

The key question asked raised is “Why should the dress of waiters be precisely the same as the evening attire of gentlemen?

The embarrassment to all concerned is described “Every one is aware how constantly blunders are made by persons who, in a crowded supper-room or in the hurry of getting away to their carriage, mistake an inoffensive young gentleman for a servant of the house or for a hired waiter, and who go home with a perturbed conscience at a result of their unintentional error”.

The proposed solution is simple –

“Our servants and waiters might wear green ties. The objection to asking them to wear a different sort of coat is that at present they are ordinarily glad to get the cast-off coats of their masters. But a green or bright red tie would be a sufficient beacon to guide the most nervous and short-sighted of dowagers who happen to be in search of a lemon-ice.”

How to Avoid Sea Sickness – The Newtownards Chronicle and County Down Observer 13 June 1874

The Newtownards Chronicle meanwhile reports on a potential solution to cross channel sea sickness – “a question which has disturbed men’s minds since Julius Cæsar did us the honour to visit us.”

They reported that, within the week, the Thames Shipbuilding Company would launch Captain Dicey’s ‘double steamer‘ – offering sailings from Dover to Calais or Newhaven to Dieppe, without sea sickness.

The new vessel, costing £60,000, could carry 1,000 passengers with ease with a greatly reduced probability of sea sickness. This is to be achieved by fastening two steamers with full engineering apparatus together with “the paddles by which they are worked between the two hulls”.

It was anticipated that the sixty foot width of the conjoined vessels would do much to reduce the “rolling” motion on the seas and this would provide a comparatively smooth sailing for the sensitive passenger.

Rather ominously, the report ended with the observation

“Of course there is always the danger that in a rough sea the hulls might separate, when nobody can tell what would become of the 1.000 passengers on board. But that is a detail to be considered later on”.

Fahan Graveyard – A Poem (Londonderry Journal and Tyrone and Donegal Advertiser 19th June 1874)

It lies far from the city’s noise and bustle,

With all its silent graves,
And through its giant trees the breezes rustle

Fresh from the Swilly’s waves.

And where those trees look down so old and hoary,
Two living walls of green
Shut out the summer sunshine’s noontide glory,

From the dark aisle between.

The shadows linger in the dim recesses

Of that dark, leafy aisle:
A strangely-solemn beauty it possesses,

Yet full of awe the while.

And over all the clinging ivy creepeth,

Above, around, beneath,
O’er dingy tombs where many a proud heart. sleepeth
The dreamless sleep of death.

Each chiselled slab, each weather-beaten column,

Speaks to the passer-by;
Each represents a story sad and solemn-
A lifetime’s history.

And over all the ivy green is trailing,

Creeping along the ground,
The ruined gable and the rusty railing
It twines itself around.

Yet in the graves there is no care nor sorrow,

For those in death’s dark night
Are waiting for a grandly-glorious morrow

Of everlasting light.

Contributed by S.S.

A Puzzle – Enniskillen Advertiser 11th June 1874

The following puzzle was reproduced by the Enniskillen Advertiser on the 11th June 1874

K. C. K. of Norton staggers us by the following

There is a dispute in our neighbourhood about the relationship of various parties.

Two of our widowers married each other’s daughters. Both have children, and the question is, what relation do their children bear to each other, and how are the parties generally related?

Puzzle set by K. C. K. of Norton

The men are fathers-in-law; the children are half brothers and sisters to their aunts; and are half brothers and sisters-in-law to to their own grandfathers. They must also be half uncles and aunts and one-quarter brothers and sisters to one another, and …

But we give it up! If any of our readers can elucidate the subject then they are welcome to try it.

First Friday of June, A Marrying Night – The Newtownards Chronicle and County Down Observer 13 June 1874

Reproduced from the Glasgow Citizen

MARRY in May, rue aye” runs an old adage; and though, doubtless, few people are credulous enough to think seriously that nuptials celebrated in May are any more or less likely to be followed by leisurely repentance than those which occur in other months, yet the “merry month” is very generally avoided in connection with “the naming of the happy day.”

Consequently, June is always honoured with something like a double share of marriages, the first Friday being the day usually selected.

Friday night was no exception to this rule. Cabs and carriages were to be seen flying about in all directions, conveying happy couples and their friends, wearing Hymeneal favours, to the houses of their ministers, to be united “for better, for worse.”

Glasgow Citizen

The Square of Comber, Co. Down, with the Statue of Rollo Gillespie (Photo Daniel Williams shared under CC BY-SA 4.0)
The Square of Comber, Co. Down, with the Statue of Rollo Gillespie (Photo Daniel Williams shared under CC BY-SA 4.0)

Rollo’s Fury – The Newtownards Chronicle and County Down Observer 27 June 1874

Robert Rollo Gillespie was born on 21 Jan 1766 in Comber, County Down and schooled in England and commissioned into the 3rd Irish Horse (6th Dragoon Guards) in 1783. Subsequently Lieutenant Gillespie transferred to the 20th Light Dragoons in 1792. An eventful army career followed, ending with his death in October 1814 as he led a column to attack Kalanga in the Nepal War against the Gurkhas. He was a major-general when he died, and was posthumously awarded the KCB on 1 Jan 1815.

On the 24th June 1845 a 55 ft high statue & column was erected in the town square of Comber, County Down in his honour.

Nearly 30 years later, on the 27th June 1874, the Newtownards Chronicle published the irate correspondence below highlighting Rollo’s displeasure with the view from his elevated position on that column…

SIR, I am sure, like all my old friends, you will be pleased to hear that I have got a new suit of beautiful drab, with white strips up and down and across, and don’t I look A1?

But when I look down from my elevated position, and sees that most detestable shade, I am grieved, and wonder how any party ever could think of putting it there to disgrace me, and insult the noble and generous parties who put me here, and as every one understands no General requires a sentry-box.

But if I could get down (as I cannot now; for the painters have taken away the ladders) I would get powder and send the whole edifice in true balloon style to the Glass Moss, where there is plenty of room, and few to see it but the goats, and it might be useful to the bearding in the winter time.

I have nothing to say to the weighmaster. He did not put it there. No, no; but I would have a great many pleasant things to say to any who would find a more appropriate place for it than where it is, and thus free me of bad company, which I never liked – brave company I ever loved.

I hope something will be done, and then you can boast of the nicest square and handsomest monument in the county (but this, perhaps, is blowing my own trumpet rather high), which could then be seen from all sides. If not for my sake, let it be done for the beautifying of the, square, and the honour of Down.

Yours truly,

ROLLO GILLESPIE. Comber, 24th June, 1874.

Advertisements / Classifieds

A selection of advertisements and amusements of June 1874

Advertisements - Enniskillen Advertiser 25th June 1874
Advertisements – Enniskillen Advertiser 25th June 1874
Amusements - The Newtownards Chronicle and County Down Observer 6 June 1874
Amusements – The Newtownards Chronicle and County Down Observer 6 June 1874
Classifieds - The Newtownards Chronicle and County Down Observer 27 June 1874
Classifieds – The Newtownards Chronicle and County Down Observer 27 June 1874

Local Theatre, Amusements and Events

Book Review: “The Ribbon Informer, A Tale of Lough Erne” – Enniskillen Advertiser 4th June 1874

The Ribbon Informer, A Tale of Lough Erne -supplied by the Author, PETER MAGENNIS (Knockmore, Derrygonnelly). Sold at the Office of the ADVERTISER, and by all Booksellers. Price, la. 6d. per copy.

Critical Notes as reported in the Enniskillen Advertiser are reproduced below:

“In an age like the present, when books are published by the thousand, it is a painful fact that but a small portion of our literature speaks of Ireland. This book possesses great merit as a chapter of Irish local history, as a mirror of local customs and prejudices, as an album of local scenery, and as an orthodox monitor of the future.”

Fermanagh Reporter

“It is a novel that will not suffer by comparison with the productions of our most distinguished Irish novelists. Its ballads would make the character of a poet. It gives a new illustration to the fact that Truth is stranger than fiction,’ since the hair-breadth escapes, exciting chases, scenes of love and death with which it abounds, are almost in every instance founded on fact.”

Irish Teachers’ Journal.

“It is a wild and powerful novel, a tale of startling adventure and strange pathetic scenes. No writer since Banim has so ably depicted the Irish peasantry with their fierce passions and wild mirth. He illustrates Irish character through the thoughts and deeds of the actors on the scene. His book is free from that atrocious vulgarity of so- called Irish writers, who try to depict Irish character only by an elaborate system of barbarous spelling of English words. He draws scenery like a painter, and depicts passions like a poet. The tone of the work is also healthful and elevating.

Saunders’s News-Letter.

“The book possesses a great deal of literary merit, and deserves to be generally known.”

Lady Wilde, (Speranza).

“It is a composition picturesque, racy of the soil of Fermanagh, and very interesting.”

W. F. Wakeman, Esq., (author of a Guide to Lough Erne)

The Banbridge Great Fair – The Newtownards Chronicle and County Down Observer 13 June 1874

On June 13th, the Newtownards Chronicle reported on the “admirable” Banbridge Great Fair held on the previous Tuesday last noting that it was the best attended for many years.

However despite a plentiful supply of stock of all kinds and numerous English and Scotch buyers attending sales were poor. This was attributed to the fact that livestock dealers seemed afraid to buy “owing to the scarcity of grass at present existing, occasioned by the drought”.

Two-year-old heifers sold at from 212 to £18, the same class of bullocks, £10 to £15 with weanlings, £6 to £10 each. The abundance of fat beef sold at from 8d to 9d per lb. Springers were plentiful, and realised from £15 to £23 each. In the sheep fair, there was a great abundance of lambs, selling at 25s to 40s each.

Mutton was scarce, but sold at from 8d to 10d per lb. The pigs were also plentiful, but prices were regarded as high – suckers bringing from 30s up, while bacon was also somewhat exorbitant, selling as high as 60s per cwt.

The Horse fair was also well supplied, but many of a good quality were bought up either the day before or early that morning. Carriage horses went the length of £100 each. The hacks present were mostly of a middling class, and anything worth was bought up quickly at a good price, and good, strong farming horses were not to be had at any price in fact.

The Newtownards Chronicle and County Down Observer 13 June 1874

Other News

Cremation Made Easy – Belfast Morning News 2nd June 1874

An American company, the “Cataclysmic Cosmic Cremation Company” plans to issue a prospectus resolving the “embarrassments regarding the disposal of the dead.”

The company plan is to run “mortuary trains” from different parts of Europe collecting the bodies of the dead with a view to cremation. Incredibly, these trains are to head to Mount Vesuvius and, on reaching the summit, will tilt their contents into the abyss. The “process of cremation will be intrusted to the natural resources of the locality”.

As part of the charges for the use of this service, the friends and relations of the deceased will, after accompanying them to the edge of the crater, be entitled to take “an excursion to Naples and its environs, under the auspices of the company, which undertakes all details, including the regulation of the eruptions“.

A Circus Affair – The Newtownards Chronicle and County Down Observer 20 June 1874

An court case, reported in Moscow, involves to two female acrobats, the sisters Korsacky. While performing in a circus in Moscow, the elder sister, Levina, was undertaking a high-wire act when the iron wire snapped. She broke both of her legs in the fall.

High-wire Act (Microsoft Bing AI Image)
High-wire Act (Microsoft Bing AI Image)

The wire was found to have been cut but no-one had been near it except Levina and her sister Lina. Lina had left the circus before the end of the performance and returned to her hotel room. A police agent was sent to the hotel, where no one knew that any accident had happened at the circus, and asked Lina to accompany him to the circus. She immediately exclaimed “I had nothing to do with it!

Lina was searched, and a pair of thick sharp scissors were discovered – these bore marks of having cut through a hard substance. She then confessed that she had cut the wire, intending to lame or disfigure Levina for life, because Lina’s own lover appeared to be fascinated by the beauty of her sister. Lina was condemned to six years’ imprisonment.

A Man Eating Plant – The Newtownards Chronicle and County Down Observer 27 June 1874

The Newtownards Chronicle and County Down Observer reported on a harrowing description of a “man- eating plant” going the rounds of many papers.

The dangerous man-eater is said to be a native of Madagascar and traps and digests men and women.

The Chronicle quote one of the least sensational paragraphs of this strange story as reported in The Garden.

“The retracted leaves of the great tree kept their upright position during ten days; then when I came one morning they were prone again, the tendrils stretched, and nothing but a white skull at the foot of the tree. The indescribable rapidity and energy of its movements may be inferred from the fact that I saw a smaller one seize, capture, and destroy an active little lemur, which, dropping by accident upon it, while watching and grinning at me, in vain endeavoured to escape from the fatal toils.”

The Garden.
Man-eating Plant (Microsoft Bing AI Image)
Man-eating Plant (Microsoft Bing AI Image)

Foreign News – Londonderry Journal and Tyrone and Donegal Advertiser 1st June 1874

Foreign news reported in the Londonderry Journal and Tyrone and Donegal Advertiser included:


VERSAILLES – The Left, the Extreme Right, and the Bonapartists voted against placing the Political Electoral Bill before the Municipal Organization Bill. Also, at the next election the Bonapartists will set up the Duc de Padoal as their candidate in the Seine-et-Oise, M. Louvet or M. Berger in the Maine et Loir, the Duc de Massena and Prince Napoleon in the Alpes Maritimes, and M. Provost Lauray in Calvados.

GERMAN ALLEGATIONS – Following the North German Gazette assertion that France, in case of war, would not respect the neutrality of Belgium brought about a Ministerial declaration from Paris that no one in France contemplates disturbing the peace of Europe, and still less that of Belgium.

HENRI ROCHEFORT – M. Henri Rochefort, a gifted French polemical journalist who distinguished himself as a supporter of the extreme left, arrived in New York with two friends but declined to accept the reception intended for them by the Communists and Internationalists of the city.

Rochefort (born Jan. 31, 1830, died June 30, 1913) came to public notice in 1868 with the founding of a weekly newspaper La Lanterne. This was speedily suppressed for its outspoken opposition to Napoleon III. His subsequent open support of the revolutionary Paris Commune (1871) led to his condemnation under military law and transportation to the penal colony of New Caledonia in 1873. Rochefort escaped in less than four months, hence the interest in this visit to New York. Rochefort later became a champion of the extreme right.


THE CARLIST WAR – An update was given on the ongoing conflict arising from the third Carlist war.

The Carlist Wars date back to the death of King Ferdinand VII who died in 1833. Frederick had restored absolutism (i.e. the monarch was the supreme leader of Spain, not answerable to any elected government). When he died, his only legitimate heir to the throne was his daughter Isabel. Frederick had repealed Salic Law in 1832 to ensure Isobel could assume the command of Spain and maintain the lineage of the Bourbons. (Salic Law stipulated that women were to be prevented from inheriting thrones, fiefs, and other property). Her supporters were liberal in outlook, opposing absolutism and wanting the Crown to obey the laws and not accumulate all political power.

However King Ferdinand’s brother, Carlos Maria Isidro de Borbón (hence the name Carlists) opposed the abolition of the Salic Law should and considered the reign of Isabel illegitimate. Carlos was conservative in outlook and a supporter of absolutism declaring there was no authority or law other than that of the king himself.

The outcome was war. Three Carlist Wars were fought (1833-1840, 1846-1849 and 1872-1876). The Carlists lost on all three occasions.

GERMANY AND THE CROWN OF SPAIN – The Madrid correspondent of the Journal des Debats reported on plans to put forward a German prince as a candidate for the throne of Spain.


TAXATION – The Italian Senate has passed bills taxing chicory and beer.


SHANGHAI – The steamer Agamemnon, which grounded when leaving Nankow for England, has been re-floated without damage.

Previous Monthly News

What was being reported in the Belfast newspapers 150 years ago? Read some of the news & stories here…

May 1874 News

April 1874 News

March 1874 News

February 1874 News

January 1874 News

December 1873 News

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