Griffith's Music Hall 1859

"Dancing Saloon and Grog Shop, Main Road, Ballarat, May 30th/55", by S T Gill.  Courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales Collection.

A week after the Sly Grog cases heard in the Indigo Police Court described in the last blog post, the cases were resumed.  On this occasion, George Griffith made an appearance.  On this occasion the vague hints at some form of establishment are clearer - it is now described as a "music hall" which actually has a window, and at some stage a sign was painted thereon describing the business as "Music Hall, George Griffits" (sic).   Mrs Griffiths is alleged to have been serving nobblers behind a bar.

Indigo Police Court,

Tuesday, 15th February, 1859.

(Before J. S. Morphy, Esq., J. P.)

Sly Grog Cases. 

William O'Connor was brought up charged with permitting the sale of spirituous liquors without a license. 

Mr. Keefer appeared for defendant. P. Carroll, deposed, that on Tuesday evening, about a quarter past ten, went to the Shamrock Restaurant; Constable Bassett was with me; we sat down for about 15 minutes; we then got up and went into the bar, and I asked for brandy; asked a woman behind the bar; she left a decanter on the counter and we helped ourselves to two nobblers of dark brandy; I gave the woman half a crown, and she gave me 6d. out of it;  saw the prisoner in the dancing room;  when we went out he came out of the bar room; it is a calico place; I observed a sign over the door of the Shamrock, Restaurant, by Wm. O'Connor ; have seen the woman several times; she is prisoner's wife; the place is not a public house.       

Cross-examined by Mr. Keefer. Did not understand that was to get £5 for every case; Never heard Mr. Cook say so to Bassett. Was not to receive any thing more. Mr. Bookey said I would get something ; am more anxious to get a conviction than to see the case dismissed ; had moustachio's on when I went to O'Connor's; had on different clothes than now ; had a grey shirt;  wanted-to appear like a working man; did not want to give myself an air of respectability; do not disguise myself to puzzle the witnesses ; the house is on the right hand side going down the Main-road; have laid six informations the same day ; it was not the last place we went to on that occasion; we went to two places afterwards ; never  compare notes with Bassett; told him there were three cases coming on ; did not ask him anything at all about the cases ; saw other men in the ball-room and in the bar; was not trying to entrap any other persons ; was waiting till I was ready before laying the information ; when we went in we sat in the dancing room; the same woman served the bar all the time we were there ; was not watching all the time ; could not say how many people were in the house during the quarter of an hour ; Bassett did not dance ; have been once in this restaurant since : did not see any men in the bar ; anybody can see from the bar to the dancing room ; I threw the money-down on the counter; I pay for the nobblers out of my wages; we never told one and other what the time was.   

F. Bassett deposed: That on Tuesday 18th January, I went into a dancing place with Carroll; it is a calico place ;  it is at the right hand side going down; called the Shamrock Restaurant; know this by the; sign over the door; went into the place, at night about 20 minutes after 10 o'clock; were three about 10 minutes or ¼ of an hour; as we went away Carroll called for two nobblers of brandy; we had  one glass each; Carroll gave the woman half-a-crown ; she gave  him sixpence back ; do not know who the woman was; saw the prisoner in  the bar.   

Cross-examined by Mr. Keefer. Mr.

Cook told us something about getting £5 for every conviction; my wages were the only inducement I had to join the service ; was not aware that I could get better wages elsewhere; we did not receive instructions from our superior officers to disguise ourselves; when I went to this house I was dressed in a pair of white trowsers and a blue shirt; we went in their on purpose to procure a conviction for illegally selling liquor ; do not think we went to any other places on this same night ; did not speak to Carroll about the case before the information was laid; took no notice who was in the bar when we went in; the woman who gave us the nobblers was in the dancing room when we went in first; did not dance ; cannot recollect if Carroll danced ; did not see a man behind the bar when we had our brandy ; would  rather see this case end in a conviction  than an acquittal; went to this house to procure a conviction.

D. McKay, constable, deposed that he knew the prisoner ; he lives in a place called the Harp of Erin, I believe, it is on the right hand side of the Main-road as you go down; arrested the prisoner on Sunday morning at his own place; it is called the Harp of Erin; cannot say if that name is on a sign.

Mr. Mulligan proved that the Indigo was in the licensing district of the Murray.

Mr. Keefer submitted that though two witnesses had sworn to a sale of liquor at a certain house, they had produced no evidence that the prisoner was in any way connected with the house.

Case dismissed.

Eugene Prost was brought up, charged with selling spirituous liquors without a license.

Mr. Young appeared for the prisoner.

Peter Carroll deposed that on Thursday 13th January, about 7 o'clock in the morning went into the prisoner's place on the Melbourne road ; asked for brandy ; a man in the bar left a bottle on the counter ; we helped ourselves ; laid half-a-crown on the table ; defendant took it up ; he is the man who gave us the liquor ; the place is called the Washington hotel.

Cross-examined by Mr Young: I laid the information on the 7th of February ; delayed the information because we were not ready. I passed over this man because of orders from my superior officers ; was at Palmer's on the 20th ; went to no place on the 14th, 15th and 16th ; was at Heilbronn's on the 17th, there was defendant and a woman in the house ; did not call at any house near defendant's-; this was the first place I called on my way from Beechworth ; expect to get my wages from the Government ; expect to get the prices of the nobblers ; have not kept an account of the number of nobblers ; have had no conversation with Bassett regarding this case; did not see what defendant did with the money.

P. Bassett deposed that on Thursday morning he called at defendant's place with Carroll. Carroll called for two glasses of brandy ; defendant gave them to us ; Carroll gave him half-a-crown, and he gave him 6d. change ; we had pale brandy ; there was a sign under the verandah with the words "Washing hotel" on it.  

Cross-examined by Mr. Young : We came to the house about 7 o'clock ; we star ted at sunrise, and might have walked about 2 miles; the defendant and a woman was present ; there was a counter in the place; there was no calico on the house ; they were not papering the bar ; have had no conversation with Carroll about this case ; do not know what was the reason for the information in this case being delayed so long ; was on the Indigo on the 15th. Mr. Mulligan proved that the house of the defendant was in the licensing district of the Murray.

To Mr. Young, am not aware of a license having been granted or applied for this house within the past month.

Mr. Young for the defence, complained of the delay which had occurred in laying the in formation, and contended that the conduct of the police was most disgraceful, there had been no evidence but that of common in formers, and he should bring evidence to show that they had sworn falsely.

Ambrose Grandjuks deposed : That he remembers the 13th of Jany., Mr. Tidyman; brought some merchandise to the house on that day ; Mr. Prost went out to look for his horse on that morning; he went about 5 o'clock and was back again about 8 or 9 o'clock. 

To Mr Weldon. Mr. Prost was home to his breakfast; we generally breakfast about; half past six or seven o'clock until 8 o'clock on the morning in question; he went to Indigo about 7 o'clock.

Louis Belmont, painter, deposed : that he lived at Mr. Prost's; remember the day when the goods came from Mr. Tidyman; Mr. Prost went to look for his horse on that morning ; he was out long that day ; was papering the bar the same day ; did not see either Carroll or Bassett in the house.

To the police. No one could be in the bar without me seeing them.

Case dismissed.

George Griffiths was brought up, charged with permitting the sale of liquor in his unlicensed house.

Mr. Keefer appeared for the defendant.

P. Carroll deposed : That on Tuesday 18th January, about a quarter to ten in the evening, he went into a dancing house on the right hand side as you go down the Main-road ; went to the bar and called for brandy ; a woman was behind the bar ; we helped our selves ; I put a two-shilling piece on the counter ; she picked it up.

To Mr. Weldon : Know the woman, she is Griffith's wife ; know the place, it has his name on the sign ; saw defendant on the evening in question, he was trimming lamps ; his place is not a public-house.

Cross-examined by Mr. Keefer; The words "Music Hall, George Griffits (sic)," was on the window that night when I  came out; might have staid about ten minutes in Griffiths ; there were not many there when I went in ; there was no music playing.; Mr. Griffiths is a violinist ; have gone and had a dance in the place ; sat  down on the seat; did not go in for the purpose of trapping the people;  we had our nobblers ; the bar is immediately as you go in at the door ; did not apply to Mr. Griffiths for the two nobblers ; the woman was behind the bar ; do not know how many nobblers I had ; cannot say how many nobblers I had on that day ; cannot say how many I can stand : was not "oblivious" ; I had no conversation with the woman.

F. Bassett deposed that on the evening of Tuesday, the 18th January, he went with Carroll to defendant's place ; went into the dancing room ; Carroll said ' Come away '; their was a woman in the bar ; Carroll called for brandy, she put the decanter on the counter ; we helped ourselves ; Carroll laid 2s. on the counter, the woman took it up, and we then went away.

Cross-examined by Mr. Keefer. Saw Mr. Griffiths in the place ; our object in going in, was to lay an information ; there was no dancing or music while we were in the house ; saw Griffiths near the bar doing something; think he went into another room when we had  our nobblers ; will not swear he was in the room at the time we got the drinks. Carroll only asked for brandy ; believe he asked the woman what was to pay, but am not sure ; it was about 10 minutes or a quarter to ten when we went, into Griffith's house, there were two men at the bar when we were drinking. ....

Constable Scanlan deposed that he knew the defendant Griffiths ; he lives at the Music Hall ; know the place, the words "Music Hall" are written in the window ; there is nothing else, on the window ; served him with a summons at, that place.

Mr. Mulligan deposed, that the house in question was in the licensing district of the Murray. Mr. Keefer contended that there was no evidence. to connect the defendant with the place in question. An actor might be convicted in the same way if a glass of  liquor were sold in the theatre. 

The Bench decided that they would hear  the defence. 

Mr. Keefer addressed himself to the evidence, and commented on the small amount of credibility which ought to be attributed to the evidence of the informers. He did not believe but that Carroll and Bassett talked  over their evidence together before they came into court. There were several discrepancies in their evidence to which he (Mr. Keefer) would call attention, and one in particular which referred to the words said to be on the windows. He should be able to prove that no such words were on the window on the day which the informers referred.

S. G. Bartlett, painter, deposed : That he knew a house in the Main-street with the words "Music Hall, George Grifilths " ; painted the word " Music " on the 17 th Jan.; painted the rest of it on the 19th ; can swear to the dates.

To the Bench : There was no sign on the place before I began to paint the present one.

Case dismissed, there being no evidence to connect the defendant with the house.

Indigo Police Court. (1859, February 17). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1857 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved October 8, 2013, from

One can only think that the Griffiths' got off on a technicality.  Or did they?  Was it a set up?  Further allegations were to come.


  1. Another great image. Shame we can't see a violinist in there. I can see a harpist. An odd type of music to be doing a jig to!

  2. I think the sketch was incomplete - Gill has included notes for the colour scheme, and probably hadn't got the band stitched up yet. Harpists were common musicians on the goldfields, which is a bit surprising considering the size of them. But I expect they could knock out a jig if required.


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