From the Freeman’s Journal, 22 April 1882:
“ROBBERY FROM THE FOUR COURTS
A fish dealer named Ennis was charged by Police Constable 69D with having stolen a goat, the property of Mr Alexander Blyth, Four Courts. A workman named Michael Higgins, in the employment of the Board of Works, stated that he saw the prisoner take the goat away, which was grazing on the plot of grass near the law courts in Morgan Place, about twelve o’clock today. Witness followed the prisoner and gave him into custody. Mr Blyth said the goat had been grazing on the plot for the last twelve months.
The prisoner – A man gave me 6d to bring him the goat.
Mr Keys asked the prisoner if he could produce the man who sent him.
The prisoner said he could not; he did not know him. He was sent for trial to the City Sessions.”
Mr Blyth was the carpenter attached to the Four Courts. He subsequently gave evidence in an inquest into the death of a plumber’s assistant killed in an explosion in the Bankruptcy Court in 1888.
The evolution of Morgan Place is interesting. Though not originally within the curtilage of the Four Courts, it seems to have been developed around the same time, possibly with a view to capitalising on its proximity. I have not been able to trace the origin of its name, but perhaps there was a connexion with Mr Robert Morgan, resident at 7 Morgan Place, who was issued with a Game Certificate in August 1817.
The Sheriff’s Office was located on Morgan Place, and Saunders’s News-Letter of July 1799 contained advertisements for three small houses to let there, describing them as contiguous to the New Courts and particularly convenient for attorneys’ offices. Certainly at least one attorney or barrister took up residence shortly after, as the Dublin Evening Post of July 1806 includes an advertisement from Mr Phelan, of 2 Morgan Place, for return of a valise containing papers of consequence of the utmost moment (of no use to any person but the owner) last seen in the cabin of the Castlereagh Grand Packet Boat, on its passage from Dublin to Athy. A lost brief?
There was residential property in Morgan Place too. Saunders’s News-Letter of 15 September 1803 advertised for sale two complete new built houses in thorough repair and fit for the accommodation of two genteel families, held under a lease of three lives renewable forever. Later that year there was an advertisement for the upper part of a neat house to let at No 3 Morgan Place consisting of two sitting rooms, two bedchambers and kitchen; a most eligible situation for a small family, or two Gentlemen of the Law, being so contiguous to the courts.
And in June 1804 an intriguing advertisement in the same publication from Mrs Morrison, Embroiderer, respectfully acquainted her friends that she had a great Variety of Masonic Aprons, Sashes and Ribbons at her premises at 4 Morgan Place ready for sale; also a French and English School for young Ladies, with the most approved Masters attending!
Warehouses on Inns Quay and premises on Pill Lane also had rights of way through Morgan Place. A ripe opportunity for neighbour disputes was removed by the 1833 decision of the Wide Streets Commissioners to acquire these properties, along with Numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 Morgan Place, for the purposes of expanding the Four Courts.
Not a moment too soon, as it seems that Morgan Place was becoming home to some rather unsavoury individuals. In September 1836, there was a robbery of houses which had been purchased by the Benchers at Inns Quay. The Magistrates granted a warrant for the search of No 2 Morgan Place on foot of information that the watchman of the houses robbed, a man named Rainbow, was concerned in a combination prevailing in the neighbourhood to plunder the establishments situated in it, and that persons living in No. 2 were his accomplices.
Some of the premises compulsorily acquired were subsequently demolished, rebuilt and let out to private owners, advertisements for most commodious Law Chambers in 1 and 2 Morgan Place, all new papered and painted, appearing regularly in the newspapers between 1849 and 1852. These buildings continued to be let out as Law Chambers even after the remainder of Morgan Place had been compulsorily acquired in the 1860s.
In 1886, No 2 Morgan Place hosted the inaugural meeting of the Irish Red Setter Club, at which the standard of points for the breed was first approved. Not inappropriate, since Morgan Place and the western end of Inns Quay generally has a long tradition of dog-stealing dating back almost to the opening of the Four Courts.
Saunders’s News-Letter contains touching advertisements offering reward monies in respect of two animals ‘lost’ there in 1806 and 1808: a large young rough white Spaniel Dog, unbroken, with red ears, some red spots over his body, and a large bushy tail, answering to the name of Sancho, and a small red and white Lapdog, answering to the name of “Flora’. Sancho’s owner offered two guineas; Flora’s advertisement stated that whoever brought her to 98 James’s Street would receive half a guinea reward, no questions asked.
Poor Sancho and Flora – they must have been much loved! At least Mr Blyth got his goat back!