Lord Chancellor’s Mace-Bearer Fined for Assaulting Dublin United Tramways Conductor, 1902

From the Irish News and Belfast Morning News, 1 July 1902:


Today in the Southern Police Court, before Mr Wall KC, a respectable-looking elderly man named Matthew Orr, a crier in the Four Courts, was brought up in custody of Constable 46B, charged at the instance of Patrick Reddy, a conductor in the employment of the Dublin United Tramways Company, with having been guilty of disorderly behaviour by catching Reddy by the corner of the coat, shaking him, and striking him on the left jaw with his clenched fist, also refusing to pay his fare of one penny, and refusing to tell his name and address to the conductor, and further with endangering his life by running through the front door of the car and jumping from the platform onto the guard-shafts, the car being then in motion.  There was a second charge preferred by the constable of refusing his name when asked for it in Westmoreland Street, and also with assaulting him by catching him by the collar of the tunic and endeavouring to knock him down, and violently resisting arrest.

Mr Gerald Byrne prosecuted on behalf of the Tramway Company, and the accused was defended by Mr RF Todd (instructed by Mr Wm McCune).

When the defendant entered the dock, Mr Wall asked – What is this man? I know his face very well.

Mr Todd – He is the crier of the Court of Chancery.

Patrick Reddy, 6 Brighton Avenue, deposed that he was conductor of a tramcar coming between Rathfarnham and Drumcondra, which was proceeding northwards towards the latter place between four and five o’clock on Saturday evening.  Accused got on the tram at Leonard’s Corner at Clanbrassil Street and paid a penny fare.  The stage began at Harold’s Cross Bridge and ended at the Grattan Statue, College Green.  Witness on reaching the latter place told him that the stage was ended.

Mr Byrne – What did he say? He told me I did not know where he got on the car.  I told him I knew very well where he got on, and that in any case the penny fare was up.

Witness, continuing, said the car went on towards Westmoreland Street, and he asked Orr for an extra fare.  He said he would pay no more.  Witness demanded his fare three times altogether.

After further evidence the accused, acting on his counsel’s advices, apologised, and Mr Wall said that settled the case from the tramway point of view.  In regards to the police charges he would impose a fine of 10s.”

Mr Orr was a person of considerable importance in the Four Courts, being responsible for looking after the massive silver mace with ancient Irish ornament which had been part of the insignia of the Lord High Chancellorship since that office was first established.  Always displayed prominently on the left side of the court during the presence of the Lord Chancellor, the mace was carried before him by his crier as he moved from court to court.   

Stolen during the occupation of the Four Courts in 1922, the mace was subsequently recovered under the floorboards of Arran Quay.  The Weekly Irish Times of 15th July, 1922, ran a piece dealing with its recovery, which included (above) a late 19th century photograph of Mr Orr holding the mace.  It looks rather imposing, and with some sharp edges. Just as well its bearer was off-duty during his altercation with Mr Reddy – or he might have done a lot more damage!

The transition from a position of authority at work to mere everyday customer outside can be difficult! But Four Courts tipstaffs could sometimes be over-zealous even in the pursuit of their official duties. Read about another criminal case from the mid-19th century involving a Mr Falkner here.

Was Mr Orr a relation of David Orr, the Four Courts plumber involved in a gas explosion in the Bankruptcy Court in 1888? It would be interesting to know!

Author: Ruth Cannon BL

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

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