Posted in Posts and podcasts

Breeching the law? 1826

Elija Boardman by Ralph Earl 1789 Wikimedia Commons
Elija Boardman by Ralph Earl 1789
Wikimedia Commons
The Australian 5th January, 1826 p3/4
Mary Hartigan, a daughter of Erin, was introduced to the magistrates notice last week. The preceding night constables met with Miss Hartigan (who seemed to ‘tower above her sex’) parading the streets dressed not in silks and satins, but in good substantial brogues and corduroy inexpressibles, and what not.
The guardians of ‘peace and harmony’ first gave their account of the matter. Then Miss Hartigan was requested to state her inducement for assuming what, by the ‘common law’ between the male and female parts, did not exactly belong to her. Mary responded she saw no reason, when all the boys and girls were enjoying themselves, that she should remain at home that night. Feeling inclined for a ‘bit of a spree’ she took a fancy to ‘wear the breeches’. She was also ‘proud to keep the ould game alive.’ Her mother and her grandmother and her aunt’s daughter and all the family of the Hartigans did the same before her – and where was the harm of that?

The magistrate did not understand that this was a universal amusement in parts of Ireland during the Christmas holidays. He and lookers on were not convinced of the prevalence of this fashion. Mary was dismissed with a strong recommendation to the care of the ‘female factory’.



B.A., M.A.(Archaeology); Regional Tour Guide; Dip. Radio Media Tech; H.Dip. Computer Science.

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