Police Report of UNIDENTIFIED WOMEN, 20 May 1826

Three females made their debut at the Office on Thursday. One of them calling herself Mistress H., urged some woful complaints against the other twain, who, being only her hand-maids, had forgotten their allegiance and carried their disaffection so far as to put the said Mistress in extreme bodily fear.

Now, this putting in fear was said above all days in the year to have occurred on “a washing day”— it was a day when  not only a heap of “marvellously foul linen” must be passed through the suds, but the process of bleaching must also be gone through. The three dames did set to in earnest, and when the essential jobs of mangling, scouring, washing, &c., were fast advancing to a conclusion, the Mistress could not find it in her heart to resist the idea of stepping out, merely for a minute or two, and just for nothing in the world but to take in a small quantum of “gin and bitters”—a very natural wish, and one that might have occurred to most ladies who would wish to live long and see good days without running a chance of catching their death of cold over the washtubb;  besides, to accomplish this object, it was not over difficult. She had only to step a yard or two from her own door, and there the doors of a public-house would stand most invitingly open, and inside arranged in “due order and decorum,” numerous glasses, may hap, a dozen filled to the brim, would present to her delighted optics, their nectar’d sweets—their sparkling treasures, and looking all the time as if they meant to say, “come drink me—come drink me.”

After giving directions to her maids not to intermit the work during her temporary absence, this dame sallied out just to correct the crudities of her stomach occasioned by abstinence, with a nice glass or two of “gin and bitters,” a delectable mixture; but though the dame’s stay was not overlong, she discovered on returning home that the maids had been also taking a cup and a sup too much, for they now threw off all allegiance and refused to return to the laundry. High words ensued, and it was then the thirsty dame was put in bodily fear by both the ladies, who did not confine their modes of offence and defence to fists alone, but one of them brandished a large clasp knife opposite the mistress, and kept it so until a reinforcement arrived, when both combatants were taken into custody. The Magistrate ordered them to become forthwith inmates of the factory—third class.

See Original: “POLICE INCIDENTS,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848) Saturday 20 May 1826, p.3