NBC – 1853.07.16 – The Twelfth of July – #266 – F12221

The Twelfth of July has for some years past brought with it, in the neighbourhood of the City, scenes of riot and bloodshed alike uncalled for and disgraceful to the parties concerned. This year the City was unusually quiet during the day, and we were in hopes that nothing would occur in the vicinity to disturb the general tranquility. But this did not prove to be the case, as towards evening an affray took place on the Western side of the Suspension Bridge, on the Parish of Lancaster, which may yet be attended with fatal results. Exaggerated reports of the occurrence having been circulated, we have made enquiries relative to the unfortunate affair, and find the circumstances, as detailed to the authorities by the complaining party, to be as follows:

William and Margaret McAvoy, state that on Tuesday afternoon, while they, in company with two young men, aged from 21 to 35 years, and three young women, all cousins, were going up a hill from a cove a little to the northward of the west end of the Suspension Bridge, on their way to Carleton, when near to the main road they met a horse and waggon with three young men in it, all sitting on one seat, who began throwing about their hands and ballooning to the party. The first couple, Wm. McAvoy and Miss Norris from Eastport, passed on and did not mind them; when the second couple were passing, one of the men in the waggon, who had a lobster shell in his hand, said something offensive to them, whereupon Owen Culliman picked up a stone, but did not throw it, but afterwards said “he’d knock hell out of them,” or words to that effect. The waggon went on a short distance and stopped, and the man got out and came back to the party – one of the men having Culliman by a shirt collar, pulled out an orange and blue handkerchief, and said that was his colour, to show his. Another waggon came up at this time, and one of the men in it, winding the lash of his whip around his hand, said he would murder some of them. The girls and Wm. McAvoy tried to prevent any fighting, but a tall young man, whom they described, took off his coat and went forward and struck Dennis McAvoy with his fist. The latter (D. McAvoy) was knocked down with a stone, and a regular melee then began. Owen Culliman was cut badly on the hand – Wm. McAvoy was bruised in the face with a stone – Dennis McAvoy was stabbed in the side with some weapon, supposed to be a Spanish knife – (the girls said it snapped like a pistol upon opening.) Wm. McAvoy saw his brother lying at the side of the road bleeding profusely, crying “Oh! I am done!” He (Wm.) then run down the hill, call out murder. The whole affair did not last much over five minutes, when the young men, five in number, getting into their waggons, drove rapidly over the Suspension Bridge into the Parish of Portland. Dennis McAvoy was dangerously wounded, but, under all the circumstances, is doing well as yet; one of the girls was hit with a stone during the fracas, and two others pursued up the hill, but they escaped.

Wm. McAvoy is of opinion that all parties could have been pacified, but for the tall young man before alluded to, and a short young man, who were “full of fight.” Upon information of what had occurred being communicated to the Police Magistrate in Portland, he immediately ordered the Police force to the Bridge, but nothing further was elicited that night. The toll-collector said he could not identify any of the parties in the waggons by name, nor did he know that any person had been hurt, until some time after they had passed. The next morning, Mr. Payne proceeded to the Parish of Lancaster, where, as a Justice of Peace for the City and County of Saint John, he took the depositions of the wounded parties. Several persons were arrested afterwards on suspicion, but upon Wm. McAvoy stating that they were not present, they were discharged.

Information was subsequently obtained which led to the street of William Reed, sailmaker, and George [Clingham] and John Starkie, who are also mechanics, and all quite young men. They are in jail awaiting examination, which has been deferred until the other two be taken.