Genealogists researching their family tree face a constant risk of uncovering some unsavoury truths about their ancestors. But, up until now, for me, it has always been possible to distance myself from such would-be wrongdoers, by labelling them as in-laws or even as relatives on a collateral line. Now, though, on this occasion, we are talking about my third great-grandfather – on my mother’s side.
It seems Miles McGrane probably had a tendency to overindulge in alcohol, which, when he was in his thirties, got him into trouble more than once.
The first incident occurred on 31 March 1865, when Miles was in his thirty-fifth year and at a time when his wife was five months pregnant with their eighth child. There were two men named Miles McGrane living in Dublin city then, but the second Miles was a businessman and far more ‘well-to-do’ than my labouring-class ancestor. So, I strongly suspect this case involved my Miles McGrane, at a time when he was supposedly working.
On the day in question, there was a fire-escape stationed at Nelson’s Pillar in Sackville Street, Dublin. Miles McGrane came along driving a horse and dray and crashed into the fire-escape, knocking it over. One of the shafts broke, causing £3 worth of damage to the appliance.
During the resulting court case, the fire officer on duty claimed he had shouted a warning as the cart approached, but the driver was ‘under the influence of liquor at the time and took no notice.’
Luckily, Miles McGrane had the £3 necessary to cover the damages and lodged it with the court. The judge then closed the case, and Miles avoided a prison sentence. He was not as lucky the next time he ended up in court, though the circumstances of this second incident were entirely different.
One Sunday night in July 1867, Miles McGrane and a man named Edward Denis were fighting at Mulligan’s Court, off Moore Street, in Dublin city, in front of a large unruly crowd.
When a police constable attempted to arrest the two men, Miles McGrane became 'exceedingly violent'. He tried to draw his sword from the scabbard for use against the constable. (Presumably, the police officer wore the sword, not Miles, though the account is unclear.) A second police officer came to assist with the arrest. The crowd started rioting and throwing stones and launched an attack on the policemen. Edward Denis escaped their custody.
‘Both police constables lost their hats in the tumult, and constable 105 also lost his baton and gloves. Both officers were knocked down and kicked most unmercifully by the prisoner McGrane, and the crowd generally.’
The following morning, Edward Denis was rearrested, and he and Miles McGrane soon found themselves before the courts. Denis, who had not assaulted the police officers, got away with a five shilling fine. Miles McGrane got to serve two months in prison, with hard labour.
In this instance, the prisoner was my third great-grandfather, no doubt about it. There was no mention he’d been drinking again, but really, what else might explain his actions that night?
Hard to know what to say! :-}
Our McGrane lineage
See also: The McGranes of Fishamble Street Dublin
Source: Saunders's News-Letter, 3 April 1865, p. 3; Penny Despatch and Irish Weekly Newspaper, 27 July 1867, p. 8.
© Black Raven Genealogy