Not much has changed in the last two centuries when comparing the weekend ritual of young people today and those of our ancestors. 19th century newspaper reports of drunken brawls are not dissimilar from today’s articles.
9 April 1879 – Rowydism in Oban – Last Saturday was pay day for the navvies working on the Oban end of the railway line and in the course of the afternoon and evening there was a good deal of noise in the town but very little disorder or breach of the peace. If the navvies were pretty quiet, the same cannot be said of some young men belonging to the town, who on various occasions, notably Saturday last, behaved in a most outrageous manner. Publishing their names may have a salutary effect.
Two ancestors can be described as “rowdy young men who behave in an outrageous manner”, their local watering hole, the Bridgend Tavern.
Neil MacDougall, licensee of the Bridgend Tavern appeared before Bailies Menzies and MacIntyre in early April 1879 seeking renewal of the tavern’s licence.
Acting Fiscal, Sgt Campbell, objected on the grounds that the tavern was a disorderly one and that no less than 28 police cases had occurred in the house during the last year. MacDougall also had one conviction for breach of certificate. Adjourned until the following Tuesday.
26 April: Mr Macgregor, solicitor appeared for Neil MacDougall, Bridgend Tavern. In relation to the charge made previously by Sgt Campbell that there had been 28 police cases during the last year, he [MacGregor] had been unable to discover more than two cases in the Fiscal’s books and statements of this kind should not be made without foundation.
The licence was renewed on the distinct understanding that the house should be regularly conducted and no loose characters be admitted.
John McDougall, first cousin 3xr, fisherman and brawler with a taste for alcohol.
On Monday before Bailie McIntyre in the burgh Police Court: John MacDougall, a fisherman better known by the cognomen of “Coaton” was charged with a breach of peace on Saturday by threatening to split up the town beliman’s bead and also with giving a Mrs MacIntyre a slap on the face. “Coston” denied both charges but after hearing evidence, the Bailie found the charge proven and sentenced him to 24 hours longer in the cells or pay 2s/6d into the police exchequer.”
Mrs MacIntyre is likely to be Margaret Buchan widow of slater, John McIntyre, son of Peter McIntyre and Mary McFadyen (3xgreat aunt) and the mother of John McDougall’s only child.
Having found several convictions for John and second great uncle Charles McFadyen on the Inveraray Jail website, this article in the Oban Times on Saturday 1st November, 1879 confirmed my suspicion both were involved in the same skirmish in late October.
The local constabulary arrive and manage to restrain John. His mates, as mates do, led by Charles, a noted “bruiser” rush to free him.
Eventually police overpower the drunken brawlers and cart John and Charles off to the lock-up.
The “wholesome” sentences handed down by Bailie Menzies the following Monday – Charles 14 days and John 42 days with hard labour at Inveraray.
A deterrent to John! – Well, he was back again in March 1880 when Bailie McColl sent him down for 30 days and Charles, that appears to be his last visit to Inveraray.
Just a pity one year (1879) of the Oban Times is digitised on britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk – heaven knows what else I would find.