Young Bar Fracas, 1829

From the Belfast Newsletter, 6 November 1829:

“On Saturday morning, at four o’clock, Mr Scully, the barrister, accompanied by Mr Blake, of Galway, and his brother-in-law, Mr R. Browne, were taking oysters, in Duke Street, Dublin, and entered into conversation with the Rev. Mr Grady, Mr Armstrong and Mr C. Browne. The parties were not, at that time, known to each other.

The conversation turned upon the trial of Grady and Richards, when Mr Scully said that Mr O’Connell had been too lenient on the trial to Mr H. Deane Grady. The Rev. Mr Grady denied this, and gave Scully the lie. The latter demanded gentlemanly satisfaction.

Mr C. Browne said that Grady ought to kick Scully down stairs, and accordingly, Browne kicked Scully, Blake kicked Browne, Grady kicked Blake and Robert Browne kicked Brady, until they literally kicked each other into the streets!

It was then agreed that Mr Grady and Mr Scully should meet, at six the same morning. Mr Scully had the pistols of a fighting young baronet, but could get neither powder nor balls. However, they all met at the place and time appointed, when Mr Blake, as the friend of Mr Scully, demanded time until the powder shops were opened. Mr C. Browne, as Grady’s friend, refused to concede this right and called their antagonists cowards. They then separated, and in the course of the day Mr Grady apologised.

Mr Blake afterwards carried a message to Mr Browne, on behalf of Mr Scully. It was accepted, and on Monday morning, at seven o’clock, they met at Portobello. Mr Scully was attended by Mr Blake, and accompanied by Mr R Browne; and Mr C. Browne was attended by Mr Armstrong, and accompanied by Mr Thompson, an ex-officer. The ground was measured, and the principals fired three shots each, without effect.

Mr Thompson then came up to Mr Blake, and called him a blood thirsty fellow. A message was the consequence, and they agreed to settle the affair on the spot. Blake was seconded by Mr R. Browne, and Thompson by Mr C. Browne, who had been a principal only a few minutes before. Mr C. Browne won the toss and gave the signal.

Upon being placed on the ground, the signal agreed by them for a mutual discharge of pistols was ‘make ready’ and ‘fire!’ Mr Blake misinterpreted the signal, and discharged at the words ‘make ready,’ upon which Mr C. Browne called out, that he had fired before his time. Mr Blake then said, ‘My opponent shall have every opportunity of firing at me; and he walked up deliberately towards his antagonist, and, when within a short distance of him, Mr Thompson discharged his pistol, and the ball passed between the thighs of Mr Blake.

The moment Mr Thompson discharged his pistol he flung it at Mr Blake, and struck him with the butt-end of it. The instant he did so he perceived that he himself had been wounded in the hip, from which he then saw the blood flowing. They were carried off the ground by their respective friends, and it is said that the first principals in this extraordinary deed intend meeting again.”

Oysters in town after a night out, political discussion ending in disagreement, a good mutual kicking, followed by not one, but two duels and a pistol-whipping. Just another weekend for the Young Bar of 1829!

Picture credit: Pinterest (not of Messrs. Scully, Browne & Co but I like to think they may have looked like this!)

Author: Ruth Cannon BL

Irish barrister sharing the history of the Four Courts, Dublin, Ireland, and other Irish courts.

Leave a Reply