This Week in Port Phillip 1842: January 1-7

In 1842, there wasn’t the extended January break that we now enjoy. Instead, things returned pretty much to normal after New Year.  But let’s just laze around a bit longer for this first week of the year 1842.  I did write about New Years Eve/New Years Day 1841 in an earlier posting, so you might want to flip back to have a look there. My posting for this week is an elaboration on that description of the New Year holiday 1842.

What was on New Years Day 1842?

1. The William’s Town Festivities

newyearsday

The day dawned fine:

The dawning day exhibited a most favourable promise of congeniality; the blueh eavens were unspooted with a cloud, and as the sun arose gloriously refulgent, casting his invigorating beams on the glad earth, a light breeze sprung up, gently rippling the face of the still waters… in fact every prospect was afforded of what is, in Australia Felix, emphatically termed “a beautiful day”, when the purity of the air is such, and the alternations of heat and coolness so nicely poised, that it is impossible for the imagination to conceive, or the desire to yearn for an atmosphere more grateful to the sense.[PPP 3/1/42]

Williams Town was a-bustle getting ready:

On Saturday, the first day of the present year, the good folks at WilliamsTown were on the qui vive at an early hour in the morning, to do justice to the bill of fare which had been drawn up for the occasion, and have everything in readiness by the time the shoals of Melbournites had arrived, who came dropping in after nine o’clock by all modes of conveyance,

” Some pushed along with four-in-hand, while others drove at random

In britsky, buggy, or go cart, curricle, or tandem.”

others sought, the more gliding motion of the London wherry, the gig, or the whale-boat, exhibiting their separate insignia, and stoutly struggling as to whom should first arrive at the goal of contention; lively strains of music came wafting over the water, and added much to the hilarity and excitement of, the scene. The Aphrasia steam boat was also laid on for Williams Town for that day, and was filled with a most respectable assemblage. The Town band engaged for the occasion took up its position in front of Dawson’s, Albion Hotel. The committee of management, consisting of Captain Lawrence, Messrs, Hutchinson and Latham, and Mr. John Davies having been appointed Judge of the sports, finding every thing in readiness, orders were given that the amusements should commence, which was attended to by the

GIG RACE,For gigs pulling four oars, coming off. The prizes were for the first boat £6, and for the second £3. The boats entered, consisted of Captain Sullivan’s, Caroline,(white),Mr. Austin’s Fairy Jane, (green,)and Mr. Levien’s Mary Ann, (black.) Distance: from a boat moored off the wharf, round the shipping and back again. At starting, the gigs kept together in excellent style, but after some short distance, it was clear the Caroline was drawing a-head; the scene now. became particularly animated and interesting, the Fair Jane, with the Mary Ann close on board, struggling hard for the superiority ; the Caroline, however, kept the lead, and came in upwards of one hundred yards before her adversaries. The following was the result.

Caroline 1

Fair Jane 2

Mary Ann 3

The Caroline performed the distance, about four miles, in twenty minutes. The

JUMPING IN SACKS,

which had been added to the amusements of the day by way of novelty, was next exhibited, and probably produced more fun than anything going during the day. Four men named Brown, Freeman,Moffit, and Hussey, were the competitors for the £2 prize, and appeared to think the affair quite a matter of course. The candidates having been introduced into the canvass were duly arranged in a line, and “start,” was the word; Brown shot ahead like a planet in its sphere ;Hussey found himself prostrate with his nose exhibiting the process of drill husbandry upon an improved system; Freeman bit the dust, and was released from his confinement, after going through as many contortions as an eel in a sandbasket ; Brown and Moffit had it all to themselves, and the first heat terminated by Brown coming in winner. The second heat had a similar termination, causing immense sport.

The next article on the bill of fare was

A FOOT RACE

For £3 Between three competitors, C.M’Intosh, C. Buckley, and M. Mooney.The contest was spirited, and the spectators appeared well satisfied with the exertions of the runners. After one false start, the race was decided in favor of C.M’Intosh, who clearly evinced his ability to trip it on the light fantastic toe.

The hour of two having arrived, it was thought judicious that the Lion should feed, Mr.Dawson having gratuitously provided a glorious spread for that purpose. About three hundred availed themselves of the opportunity, and ample justice was done to a sheep which had been roasted whole, and an enormous round of beef with the usual concomitants. The scene was rich and entertaining, and varied with all the tints of the rainbow- Here might be seen in one corner a bush man tendering to his lady love a cube of beef, delicately tinged with mustard, and inviting her to soothe her irrited[sic] feelings by its demolition ; in another portion of the apartment, a miniature Hercules was slaughtering the sheep, and accommodating the various claimants with portions, not exactly dismembered according to the strict rules of anatomy, ” Cabbage, oh” was vociferously shouted by an active youth, who distributed the foliage in such portions as he thought correct. The popping of corks, the gurgling of the liquor, with a thousand other et ceteras, contribute: to make up a scene worthy the easel of Wilkie. [PPG 5/1/42]

The Port Phillip Patriot was likewise amused by the scenes at the free lunch:

THE FEED. Father Time, combining business with pleasure had, but the completion of the occurrences we have narrated, caused the hour hand of the dial to closely approximate to the hour of two, and half past one being fixed upon as the period of commencing the grand feed liberally provided by Mr Dawson for the occasion, the assembled multitude were invited to partake thereof, “without money and without cost”. Accordingly a rush was made towards the feeding room, where was to be seen at one end of the table a sheep roasted whole, and at the other an immense round of corned beef; the interval being garnished with concomitants…. The scenes that followed were worthy the pencil of a Cruikshank. At one side of the table might be seen a man busily dividing a junk of beef and a loaf of bread, between himself and three females, while in another place a curious wight was examining the contents of the cruet of cayenne, as suspiciously as if it contained poison.  One individual, who evidently possessed  great talents as an explorer, after probing the carcass of the unfortunate sheep, discovered an enormous lump of fat, with which he danced round the room in ecstasies, calling the attention of his acquaintances to the circumstance of it being “a nice bit for making candles”. Another audibly expressed his opinion that their entertainer was a “jolly good fellow” and that he would always take care to patronize him when he gave a dinner on the same terms.  Between 200 and 300 persons availed themselves of this pro bono publico dinner, and, as may be supposed, by the time the room was finally deserted, the beef, mutton and “wegibles” were but as “things that were” [PPG 3/1/42]

Lunch disposed of, let’s go back to the games and frivolity:

THE SAILING MATCH,

Between Mr. Thompson’s Ariel and Mr. Dawson’s Lively, next came off . The odds at starting were considerably in of the smallness and peculiar build of the Ariel but all is not gold that glitters ; the Ariel proved her superiority at starting, and maintained it throughout the race. Running too near in shore, the Lively grounded, leaving the Ariel to take it easy-for the rest of the run, and to her judge and committee awarded the prize. The owner of the Lively wished to make it a drawn match, but the former decision was confirmed. It is expected that these boats will again try their respective merits for £40 a side. The above match being brought to a close, the

WHALE BOAT RACE

Was called on. Three boats were entered, the Cornstalk, William, and Paddy from Cork, and the prizes, for the first boat £10, and second ditto £5,with entrance money added. At starting, the contest was very spirited, the boats keeping abreast for a considerable distance; shortly after the Cornstalk took the lead, which she kept in admirable style throughout. The result was,

Cornstalk 1

William 2

Paddy from Cork 3

The winning boat, as well as the second in, are of colonial manufacture, having been built by Mr. Charles M’Intosh of Williams Town. The Paddy from Cork is what her name denotes.

THE GREASY POLE.

Next excited the interest of the company being surmounted with a very tolerable tile, to obtain which it was necessary to travel through various states of Greece. Several attempts were made to reach the beaver without effect, and some of the aspirants even went so far as to touch the under portion of the brim, and then found themselves again on terra firma —a most annoying circumstance. At last, as the competitors stood gasping for breath, one of the sons of Mr. Liardet,of the Pier Hotel, essayed the attempt. As Beau Brummell left on his writing-table that invaluable secret which has caused so much discussion in the beau monde, as to the stiffening of cravats, that starch was the man, so did young Liardet exclaim on seizing hold on the pole, ” Sand is the man!” and after making a liberal use of this article, with which he had loaded himself like a Blackheath donkey, he quickly attained the dizzy height, mounted the castor, and was quickly upon his legs.

A WHEELBARROW RACE

Concluded the sports of the day. Four men started blindfolded for a prize of a£1 : the sport was capital, the contending parties making off  in all directions except towards the winning post. In consequence of a quibble, the race was run over a second time.

THE DINNER

Followed at six o’clock, got up in Mr Dawson’s best style — that is saying every-thing. About fifteen guests sat down to the repast, and did ample justice to the entertainment. During the dinner, the band played several enlivening airs, and the guests perpetrated the usual loyal and other toasts, and broke up about twelve o’clock. In the evening a concert was held at the Victoria, when a Miss Sinclair made her debut with considerable eclat. Thus ended the amusements of New Year’s day in Australia Felix. [PPG 5/1/42]

2. A concert at the Pavilion

Perhaps a concert at the Pavilion theatre might be more to your taste?

The concert at the Pavilion on Saturday evening to see in the new year was numerously attended. Although there were a number of rather suspicious characters loitering about the Pavilion who had been properly excluded, and those granted entrance were “not all of the upper ranks of society” but they conducted themselves with propriety.  The Pavilion will soon be a most fashionable place of resort.  The star “Miss Sinclair” has excellent command of a good voice, and with a little more practice her success as a vocalist is certain.  Miss Lucas labored under the effects of a heavy cold. When Miss Lucas had to withdraw, an amateur entertained the audience with a variety of dances, expert gesticulations &c and deservedly stands a favourite. [PPH 4/1/42]

3. A bank opening

What a strange time to open a bank for the first time! I assume that the Saturday opening hours were for the benefit of tradesmen and shopkeepers who might want to bank their week’s takings.  Obviously the bank preferred people to put money in, rather than take it out!

Port Phillip Savings Bank open for business on Saturday night 1 January.  Opening hours for receiving deposits Saturday 7-8 p.m. and Wednesday 1-2.  Repayments to depositors on Wednesday only 1-2. [PPG 1/1/42]

4. A Ticket-of-Leave Muster

Even though Port Phillip wasn’t strictly speaking a convict colony, there were convicts, assigned servants and ticket-of-leave prisoners there.  On 1 January each year, there was a Ticket-of-Leave Muster, just to make sure that everyone was where they should be.

5. A cricket match

There was a cricket match between the government officers and the civilians.  The government officers won.

6. A game of shinty

SHINTY. On New Year’s day a splendid game at the good old Scotch game of shinty came off on Mr Donald McLean’s farm on the Merri Creek. About twenty stalwart Highlanders ranged on either side, and the game  was so keenly contested that after a four hours’ struggle under the broiling heat of the mid-day sun the parties were fain to withdraw the game, neither party able to gain the victory. [PPP 6/1/42]

7. A hot roast dinner at the jail

NEW YEARS DAY. On Saturday last, the first day of the new year, the whole of the prisoners at present confined in Her Majesty’s jail, at Melbourne, were regaled with roast beef and plum pudding, at the expense  of His Honor Mr Justice Willis, who had kindly directed that no cost should be spared to make the prisoners as comfortable as their unhappy circumstances would admit. The arrangements for the feast were made under the superintendence of Mr Wintle, the jailer. [PPP 6/1/41]

So how’s the weather?

For the week 1-7 January, the highest temperature was 96F (35C) and lowest 60F (15.5C). “Light airs early in the morning, followed by strong winds A. M.  Fine weather 1st,2nd,6th and 7th, oppressively hot 3rd, followed by squalls and rain”

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6 responses to “This Week in Port Phillip 1842: January 1-7

  1. Re M’Intosh, I believe some printers used M’ to approximate Mc with the c up high. For some reason all of Miles Franklin’s Mc’s are rendered as M’ eg the M’Swats in My Brilliant Career. However in Ten Creeks Run MF refers to Mrs M’Hafferty as Mrs Mac so her intention is clear.

  2. If you ever wonder if anyone reads your blog I do and I so enjoy your book reviews and your Port Philip updates. I just continue to be impressed by your diligence and scholarship. Please keep it up. Have a great New Year..

  3. If you ever wonder if anyone reads your blog please know that I do. I so enjoy your insightful book reviews and your Port Phillip updates. I am always incredibly impressed by your diligence and scholarship. Happy New Year to you and everyone dear to you.

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