Saturday, 10 December 2011

Extraordinary Assault Case

I'm really intrigued by the fight between James Calder and J.T. McNellan. Thankfully, with access to thousands of newspapers, finding out more isn't as tricky as it might once have been.

Remember me wondering if Calder had ever been put in the dock? Well the answer is yes. The trial sounds as entertaining as the fight.
"ALLOA. Extraordinary Assault Case.-On Saturday, at three o'clock p.m., James Calder, a partner of the firm of McNellan, Son, & Co., brewers, was brought up at the Burgh Police Court charged with assaulting Jas. Tait McNellan, a partner of the same firm. The trial caused great excitement in the town, and not only were the courtroom and its approaches crowded, but Candle Street, in the neighbourhood of the Burgh Chambers, was thronged with an eager crowd, who, as Mr Calder came forward, hooted and hissed him. Wm. Bailey, Esq., one of the junior Magistrates, was on the bench. Mr Cunningham, solicitor, Stirling, advised by Mr James Moir, jun., writer, Alloa, appeared for the panel, and Mr M. Brydie, writer, Alloa, watched the case in the interest of Mr McNellan. The indictment bore that on the evening of Monday the 31st ult. the panel assaulted Mr McNellan by seizing him by the collar of the coat and throwing him to the ground, then seizing him by the throat, and with his knees violently compressing his chest; and farther, with having, with an iron fireshovel or similar instrument, struck him one or more blows about the face or head, whereby his forehead was bruised and wounded and his left eye swollen and discoloured. Mr McNellan's appearance in Court testified to the treatment he bad received. Mr Calder pled not guilty, and the case went to proof. The witnesses examined besides Mr. McNellan were--Mr John Haldane, Mr Wm. Stephen, and Mr Robert Hutton, clerks in McNellan, Son, & Co.'s office. The evidence given was to the effect that, on the day on which the assault had been committed, a letter addressed to Mr McNellan had been opened in the office, He had been annoyed at this, and going I into the office in the evening, he asked the clerks collectively who had opened it. They made him no answer, whereupon he put the question to Mr. Calder, who answered that he had, and then told McNellan to go out for a drunken beast. McNellan retorted by telling Calder that he was a low sweep. McNellan than went and sat down at Calder's desk and commenced to write, when Calder came behind him and put out one of the two gas jets which light the desk. He was putting out his hand to extinguish the other when McNellan put up his hand to prevent him. The clerks then saw Calder put his hands about McNellan's neck and throw him on the ground, after which he planted his knees on his chest. The clerks all left the office at this stage. McNellan stated that they struggled and rolled about on the floor until they were near the door, and one of the clerks on returning found them in that position still struggling. After they separated they got to their feet, when McNellan struck Calder a "back-hand" blow on the face, upon which Calder, going to the fire-place, seized the iron shovel, and struck McNellan above the left eye. The clerks testified that they saw blood oozing from the wound thus inflicted. At this stage the Burgh Fiscal said that as the evidence showed the assault to be one of a much more serious nature than he had supposed, he moved that the case be remitted to the Sheriff. The Magistrate, taking the same view of the matter, granted the request, so that the case will now be disposed of in the Sheriff Court. Mr McNellan, on leaving the courtroom, was loudly cheered by the crowd, and Calder, who remained in the Burgh Chambers for about two hours later, was followed to his house by an immense crowd, who groaned and hooted him all the way."
Falkirk Herald - Thursday 10 November 1870, page 5.

Calder seems to have been treated like a pantomime villain, with all that booing and hissing. Nice that the crowd followed him home.

I'm still highly confused by the dates of all this. I thought James Calder had become the sole owner of the brewery in 1862. Yet in 1863, he was identified as a wood merchant:

"Theft by a Foreign Seaman.- On Monday, before Sheriff Clark, Andraes Andersen, a Danish seaman, one of the crew of the Anna, at present lying in this harbour, was charged with the theft of a silk umbrella, the property of James Calder, wood merchant, South Alloa. Andersen could not speak the English language, and Lauritz Johansen, a Dane resident in this town, was sworn as interpreter. A plea of not guilty was put in for Andersen, but evidence having been led, the charge was found proven, and he was sentenced to imprisonment until his vessel should be ready to sail. "
Dunfermline Saturday Press - Saturday 6 June 1863, page 5.

Had he not entered the brewing trade then or was his timber business more significant?


Ed said...

Boo! Hiss! He's behind you!

Sounds like great fun.

Matt said...

I like the insults - "drunken beast", "low sweep" - and the image of the lowly clerks, still working by gaslight in the evening, keeping their heads down as two of their employers fought each other.

The Beer Nut said...

I'm just going out for a drunken beast. Back in an hour.