Monday, 13 April 2015

Gannon To Gaol

On 17 July 1850 my 4x Great Aunt Catherine Quinan (Or Quinnin/Queenan) married Dennis Gannon at St Andrew's RC Church, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Catherine was the widow of John Costelloe, who had died two years previously.
Dennis and Catherine's Catholic marriage entry.
Note the mistake - 'Gallon'.
Dennis and his family lived in Durham city in Court Lane, and had lodging houses. In the year following the marriage Dennis' father Patrick appeared in court on the charge of "having suffered common prostitutes and idle and disorderly persons of bad character to continue and lodge in his house." Patrick had repeatedly been cautioned by the police before, and was fined 5s and costs. He didn't pay however, so was committed to gaol for fourteen days. Obviously not liking prison, Patrick paid the fine and was released. A couple of years later, Dennis was also in court for "harbouring common prostitutes" in his house and was also fined 5s and costs.

Dennis and Patrick often appeared at the courts together, one example being when they were charged under the Lodging House Act for not properly white-washing the walls and ceilings of their respective houses. The houses were said to be in a "most filthy condition, and unfit for habitation of human beings." They were each fined 10s and costs.

In 1858 Dennis and James Gannon were attacked by Thomas Fawcett and Thomas Wilkinson. They struck the Gannons numerous times and were noted to be using "bad language". Thomas Fawcett appears to have been quite a racist and bigoted man, as he declared "they would drive all the Irish out of the land." As Dennis had hit Fawcett in self defence, he was also fined 10s and costs.

Patrick Gannon appears not to have learnt his lesson, as in the following year he was again charged with harbouring prostitutes in his house. Police had found "a man who is a thief, and a woman who is both a prostitute and a thief." The same year, Patrick Gannon died.

In 1861, Dennis appeared in court a few times. He was charged with assaulting one of his lodgers, John Wright and for this was fined 2s 6d and costs. Dennis was then in court for allowing "several unmarried persons, of opposite sexes" to sleep in the same room. The police officers also found a woman in a cupboard, who had went there to hide when she saw them approaching. In the end Dennis was fined 5s and costs. Dennis' mother Catherine was also charged with this offence in the same year. Her excuse was that the lodgers were elderly. Catherine was discharged after promising not to offend again.

The Gannon family rarely appear in the newspapers or courts after this, but in 1877 Dennis' son, Edward and son-in-law, Patrick Lavy were both charged with assault. The Mayor described the assault as "a most cowardly and unprovoked attack", and Edward and Patrick were each sentenced to two months hard labour, and ordered to pay the costs or fourteen days in gaol.

Dennis Gannon died on 5 September 1889 after falling in Mr Chapman's shop, Market Place, Durham. Mr Chapman was the local grocer. The cause of death was heart disease. 
The death of Dennis Gannon, in the
local news section.

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