Submitted by Editor on Thu, 06/08/2020 - 05:07

July–September 1897


In Edinburgh Police Court this forenoon—Sheriff Orphoot presiding—James Tocher, engineer, 5 North East Cumberland Street Lane, pleaded guilty to assaulting a man named Donaldson on the 20th inst., on the stair leading to Marshall Street Hall, by striking him on the mouth with an umbrella.

It appeared that the accused and complainer are members of the Heart of Mid-Lothian Football Club, and had a dispute just after leaving the hall, where a meeting was being held.

Tocher poked Donaldson with the point of the umbrella, and cut the inside of his mouth. Sir Henry Littlejohn[1] said he had asked continuation of the case, as at one time the wound looked as if it might have serious results, but had not developed seriously.

The accused expressed contrition for the assault, and the Sheriff, saying it was impossible to get over the gravity of the attack in respect of the use of the umbrella, fined Tocher £1, with the alternative of seven days’ imprisonment.[2]

Edinburgh Evening News, 29 July 1897

[1] See News from the Mews 12n.8.

[2] A fine of about £78 today, or 3 days wages for a skilled tradesman in 1897.





Before Bailie Sloan, in Edinburgh Burgh Court, to-day, Catherine Curly or M’Pherson, residing in Gilchrist’s Entry, Greenside Row, was charged with having, on the 7th inst., in Gilchrist’s Entry, assaulted Janet Stuart or Folay, and Amelia Turpie or Collison, by seizing the former by the hair and beating her with her fists, and kicking the latter. She pleaded not guilty.

There had been bad feeling between the parties, it appeared, and the assaults were the outcome of a stairhead row.

Considerable amusement was caused in Court by the cross-examination of Collison by the accused’s agent, Mr M’Masker. The witness completely lost her temper, and despite the efforts of the magistrate and officers of Court would not be pacified, leaving the box at last apparently in disgust and point blank refusing to answer any more questions. The incident was allowed to pass without any censure by the magistrate.

The charge was found proven, and a fine of £1, with the alternative of ten days in jail was imposed. The accused had a number of previous convictions against her.

Edinburgh Evening News, 11 August 1897





The King of Siam[3] arrived at his hotel from the Forth Bridge about seven o’clock last night. After dinner, accompanied by his suite, his Majesty attended the Theatre-Royal.[4]

As the King left the Balmoral Hotel,[5] and again when he entered the theatre, where boxes had been reserved, he was loudly cheered. He readily acknowledged the compliment, but it is a moot point whether or not his Majesty understood what was meant by the calls which came from the gallery for a “speech”.

Evidently he enjoyed the piece, for he remained till the curtain fell on the last act. Before that act commenced, his Majesty smoked a cigarette in Mr Holland’s private room, and expressed to the manager his admiration of the performance.

A hearty cheer was raised as the King drove off from the theatre.


His Majesty Chulalongkorn I of Siam left Edinburgh for the South this morning by special train.

Before leaving the hotel for the Waverley Station, a ceremony, all the more interesting because it was unexpected, took place. When his Majesty was at the Forth Bridge last evening about six o’clock a little lady of seven years toddled up the steps of the hotel and gravely said to one of the detectives on duty, “Please, may I see the King?” The officer replied that he was a black man and slept during the day. Keeping his countenance with an effort, the detective suggested that if she came back in the morning the King would be glad to see her before he went away. Doubting nothing, she went contentedly away.

To the surprise of everyone, she returned this morning. Mr Verney, the Secretary to the Siamese Legation in London, was informed, and then one of the Princes came upon the scene, and he gave her a flower.

When his Majesty appeared in the hall, Mr Verney introduced her to the King, who asked her name. Without hesitation she answered Divina Sivewright Macgregor, and said she was seven years of age and lived at East Northumberland Street Lane.[6]

The King kindly petted her on the head and face, and presented her with a box of sweets and a sovereign. Most of the people staying in the hotel witnessed the ceremony. […]

Edinburgh Evening News, 12 August 1897

[3] This King of Siam (today’s Thailand) had been educated by (among others) Anna Leonowens, whose story formed the basis of the 1951 musical The King and I. In the film version, Yul Brynner played Chulalongkorn's father Mongkut.  Remarkably, as king, Chulalongkorn's careful balancing of French and British interests succeeded in protecting Siam from colonisation.

[4] The Theatre Royal stood next to St Mary’s RC Cathedral at the top of Broughton St. On 11 Aug, the evening performance was Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

[5] Not today's establishment of that name. The Balmoral Hotel in 1897 was situated at 91, 93, 95, 98 Princes St and 3 Frederick St.

[6] Davina Sivewright or Macgregor was born on 15.1.1890 at the Royal Maternity Hospital, Edinburgh. Her mother, Mary Ann Sivewright, married Duncan Macgregor in Newington on 16 October 1885 (SR 685/5 411). At the time of Davina’s birth, he was a Clerk of Works whom she declared ‘is not the father of the child, and further that she has had no communication with him since she left him nearly four years ago’. MAS’s address in 1891 was 21 Jamaica St (SR 685/2 163). In the Census of that year she appears as a 33-year-old housemaid at the Conservative Club on Princes St. Ten years later she was enumerated as a widow and caretaker at the School of Medicine, living with Davina at 26 Clyde Street. ('School of Medicine' may refer to the Edinburgh Central School of Chemistry and Pharmacy at 25 Clyde Street.) Davina arrived in Canada in 1912, and at some stage settled in Toronto. Here she married the 58-year-old James Taylor (a widowed carpenter born in Bolton, Ontario) on 20.12.1919. One of the witnesses was a Mary Macgregor, also resident in Toronto and possibly her mother. Davina had a son in 1923, and was alive in Toronto in 1963. For these and further details of Davina’s background (which see here), I’m indebted to the genealogical expertise of Caroline Gerard and Fergus Smith.


INTERFERING WITH GIRLS IN THE STREETS.—In Edinburgh Police Court yesterday—Mr Kellock on the bench—John Gourlay, a man of no fixed residence, pleaded guilty of having on Tuesday evening molested a girl in College Street by following her, using obscene language, and catching her by the shoulder.

The Public Prosecutor said the accused was an utter stranger to the girl, who was much alarmed by his behaviour. The Magistrate passed sentence of seven days’ imprisonment.

—William Smith, a middle-aged man, described as a woodworker, residing at No. 46 High Street, Fisherrow, was charged with having on Sunday morning molested a young girl in Princes Street, St Andrew Square, and Duke Street Lane. He pleaded not guilty.

The evidence showed that the girl, who is fifteen years of age and a domestic servant, had been to the General Post Office about nine o’clock on Sunday morning, and was returning home when the accused met her and spoke to her, persisted in walking beside her, and behaved in an unseemly manner until Duke Street Lane was reached. At this point a constable, who had been watching the behaviour of the accused, came up and arrested him.

It was stated that there had been numerous complaints from the locality of men interfering with young girls. The Magistrate said the evidence showed the case to be a rather serious one, and he imposed a fine of £2, with the option of fourteen days’ imprisonment.[7]

Scotsman, 23 September 1897

[7] About £156 today, or 6 days wages for a skilled tradesman in 1897.



In Edinburgh Police Court to-day—Sheriff Sym on the bench—William Murray, blacksmith, 6 New Broughton, was remitted to the Sheriff on charge of assaulting his wife last night by striking her once on the head with a walking stick and the face with his fists, causing her, in order to escape his violence, to throw their male child, ten months old, and to jump herself, from the window on to a vacant piece of ground below, a distance of about 20 feet, whereby the child's right thigh was fractured.

It is alleged that Murray, going home, barricaded the door by placing a large box against the inside and then struck his wife with the stick and his fists as charged. The woman raised the window and let the child fall to the ground below. With the object of jumping after it she hung for a few minutes on the clothes pole, which projected from the wall, and her husband, it is said, unfastened her hands and she dropped on to the top of a man, who had been attracted by the noise and was in the act of lifting the child.

At the Royal Infirmary it was found necessary to stitch a wound the mother had received in the head and bind the fractured limb of the infant in splints before they could return home.

Edinburgh Evening News, 28 September 1897

News from the Mews will resume in 1900 on Monday.