Future Judge Brings Legal Proceedings to Recover Dognapped Pet, 1830

The Ha’penny Bridge and Wellington Quay, Dublin, by Samuel Brocas, 1818, with the dome of the Four Courts in the distance. Click here to zoom in! Mr Harvey’s warehouse was located among the line of buildings on the left of this image, close to where the Clarence Hotel is today.

From the Pilot, Wednesday 19 October 1831:

“FIDELITY OF A DOG – On Thursday, a servant man of Mr Ball, the barrister, applied before the magistrates of the Head Office, and stated that he had seen a very large sized Newfoundland dog that day, which his master had lost about three months before at Messrs. Harvey’s warehouse, on Wellington Quay. He said that he had made application to some persons in the establishment to have the dog restored to his master, but was told that Mr Harvey had bought him for a guinea, and would not therefore resign him.

A summons was forthwith issued, requiring Mr Harvey’s attendance at the police-office to show cause for retaining the dog. Yesterday Mr Ball, with the Surgeon-General Mr Crampton, from whom the former had got the dog as a present about nine months ago, and Mr Harvey were in attendance before the magistrates. The Surgeon General declared that if the dog which Mr Harvey had in his possession, was the same that he had given to his friend Mr Ball, he would be able positively to identify him, and was quite certain the dog would recognise him. Mr Crampton said he had reared the dog, and would never have parted with him but for his inveterate propensity for killing sheep, as he was a fine animal, and most docile and affectionate creature.

“Why, sir,” (said Mr C, turning to Mr Harvey,) ‘when he arrives I shall make him seize you by the throat, if you have no objection.’ Just at that moment a servant man entered the board room, followed by the subject of inquiry. ‘That’s the very dog!” exclaimed Mr C – “Carlos! my poor fellow Carlos!’ The dog, in evident delight, jumped on Mr C, licked his face, and evinced the utmost joy. ‘Here, Carlos,’ said Mr C., after caressing the dog for some time, ‘jump over this stick,’ Carlos jumped over a walking cane, raised five feet from the ground – ‘Carlos, shut the door;’ in an instant, the door of the boardroom was clapped to. ‘I beg,’ said Mr Harvey, ‘you may not put your proposal in practice, with respect to my throat!’ ‘Oh then,’ replied Mr C, ‘you are satisfied that Carlos and I have not now seen one another for the first time.’ ‘Quite satisfied,’ was the reply. The magistrates ordered that the dog should be given up to Mr Ball; and the parties separated. Carlos left the office jumping about his quondam master, apparently quite delighted with being restored to him.”

Mr Ball was Nicholas Ball KC, subsequently appointed a judge of the Court of Common Pleas in one of the first Catholic appointments to the Irish Bench since the days of James II. Judge Ball suffered from extreme noise-sensitivity, a trying complaint for a judge at the best of times, and one which tended to push him to the extreme during lively Cork Assizes.

Dognapping was a lucrative criminal activity in 19th century Dublin, with a number of much-loved pets mysteriously disappearing in Inns Quay and its vicinity in the early years of the century. Moreover, it seems that Newfoundland dogs were among the most popular breed in the city due to one of them having become very famous due to jumping into the Liffey and successfully saving a child from drowning. The temptation to make off with as fine a specimen as Carlos must have been irresistible!

Many barristers and judges of the period kept dogs, including Charles Robert ‘Charlie’ Barry, Justice of the Queen’s Bench 1872-1883 and Lord Justice of the Irish Court of Appeal 1883-1887, whose ‘fine red setter dog’ accompanied him to the court every morning and came back to take him to the club after work. It may not have been pure coincidence that the inaugural meeting of the Irish Red Setter Club took place in Morgan Place, close to the Four Courts, during Judge Barry’s tenure on the Bench.

If Judge Ball’s dog had indeed a propensity to worry sheep, hopefully he did not take it with him to work at the Four Courts, where it was usual to see huge flocks of sheep passing by several times daily on their journey out of the jurisdiction. One benevolent barrister intervened to prevent an injured sheep being mistreated – and ended up having to pay for its subsequent keep for his pains!

Surgeon-General Crampton seems to have been quite the character – you can read more here about the mysterious memorial erected to him at the junction of D’Olier Street, Pearse Street, and College Green, which remained in place until it fell apart in 1959.

Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons (link in caption below image)

Author: Ruth Cannon BL

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

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