Brawl at the Shielbridge Inn, 1862
by John Dye

The report below comprises transcribed handwritten material from the office of the Procurator Fiscal of Tobermory, currently held in the Argyll Archive at Lochgilphead.

Constable Currie witnessed a pile of fighting bodies outside the Shielbridge Inn, whilst walking his beat one late afternoon in the autumn.

It transpired that Simon McDonald of Smirisary had offered to take on any of the Gillis's and Neil, Archibald and John Gillis from Eilean Shona were happy to oblige. Donald McDonald of Smirisary and Alexander Kennedy of Eilean Shona also joined in.

They were fined five shillings each.

The police summary of the case to be made

Police Report - Assault, Salen 14 October 1862

Simon McDonald, son of and residing with his Father Angus McDonald, Farmer, Smearisary, in the Quod-sacra parish of Aharacle and County of Inverness, & Donald McDonald, Crofter, Smearisary, in the above named Quod-sacra parish of Aharcle & County of Inverness, & Allan Kennedy, son of and residing with his Father Alexander Kennedy, Crofter, Elin Shona in the aforesaid Quod-sacra parish of Aharcle & county of Inverness, and Neil Gillis, Archibald Gillis & John Gillis, joint Farmers in Elin Shona in the aforesaid Quod-sacra parish of Aharcle and County of Inverness, are charged with the crime of assaulting each other in so far as on Thrusday the 2nd day of October 1862 years, the above named parties did attack & assault each other with their clenched fists to the effusion of blood near to the door of the Inn at Shiel Bridge occupied by William Johnston in the Quod-sacra Parish of Aharcle & County of Argyll.

A detailed report of the brawl is made by Constable Currie who was at Shiel Bridge when it happened

Robert Currie, Constable, Ardnamurchan says:

Upon Thursday the 2nd day of October 1862 years, while on patrol duty at Shiel Bridge about 5 p.m., a large number of people came out of the Inn in a very disorderly state, the above named Simon McDonald had his coat or jacket off and appeared to be in a very exited state. He said that he would fight any of the Gillis's.

I then saw Donald McDonald come & stand near to him, shortly after I saw a large crowd of people on the top of each other on the road engaged in fighting. Upon enquiry I found their names to the above named Simon McDonald, Allan Kennedy and Neil Gillis, Archibald Gillis and John Gillis. I saw Neil Gillis bleeding from a cut on his cheek. Later I saw Archibald Gillis bleeding from a cut on his nose. I saw the above said Donald McDonald deliberately strike at Neil Gillis several blows with his clenched fists, the evidence of William Johnston Jun. I sent to you.

Robert Currie, District Constable.

There were other witnesses too


William Johnston Inn Keeper, Shiel Bridge
Matthew Johnston Shiel Bridge, Labourer
Walter Johnston Do. Do. Do.
John Johnston Do. Do. Do.
William Johnston Jun. Do. Do. Do.
William Corbet Samilaman, Moydart

Appended notes give the details:
Simon McDonald & others
Breach of Peace
14 October 1862

Tobermory 28th October 1862
Tried Summarily
Plea - Guilty
Sentence - Fined 5/- each or 5 days Impt. 30/- in all.