From the April 11, 1838 edition of the Public Ledger:
“OUTRAGE – A respectable and responsible citizen informs us that late on Saturday night, or early Sunday morning last, he, together with other residents of Catherine street between Fourth and Fifth streets, was awakened by the cries of a woman, and on looking out, saw a woman lying upon the pavement, while a watchman was abusing her. Our informant says that the watchman partially raised her, dragged her over the rough stones, and struck her several times with his rattle or mace, and did not desist till the people at the windows reproved him for his brutality. At each blow the woman screamed, and entreated him to let her go home, in tones fitted to soften any but a savage. But he continued to drag her upon the pavement, towards the “Hall.” (1) Our correspondent states that he understood the name of the watchman to be Mitchell.
We give this statement, in substance as we receive it, vouching for it truth though our informant is too respectable to be harshly doubted; and we publish it for the purpose of preventing such scandalous abuses of authority. A watchman has no right to strike a prisoner unless he resists; nor then, unless the resistance be so violent as to put the watchman in danger, or to render the striking absolutely necessary to secure the prisoner. But all violence beyond this absolute necessity, is criminal and punishable. But in the case of a woman, such resort is rare, if ever necessary, and no man but a dastardly villain will ever lay his hand upon one in violence. If she resist, he should call assistance, and the secure her gently. But no one deserves to be called a man, will ever do what is imputed to this watchman.”
This incident occurred just yards away from the rear or north side of Bethel Burying Ground. In all likelihood, the victim was a patron of Margaret Flanagan’s saloon whose door stood very near at the southwest corner of 5th and Catharine Streets. The neighborhood was already a tough violent Irish working-class area when a volunteer fire company established its’ firehouse in the 500 block of Queen Street in 1833. The existence of the Merion Hose Company was to add significantly to the living conditions in west Southwark. More on Marion in another posting.
(1) The local police station was situated in Moyamensing Hall, located in the 900 block of Christian Street about 4 blocks away.