I was going through some books the other day when I came across one I bought many years ago and, apart from having a quick flick through occasionally, I am ashamed to say I have never read properly.
Before you tut tut me it is A4 sized and over four hundred pages long. Not the kind of book you can cart around with you for a bit of light entertainment!
It is called the Complete Book of Australian Folklore (by Bill Scott) and is a combination of folk tales, songs (with music), illustrations and snippets from old newspapers or reports. This book was first published in 1976 and the edition I am reading is from 1997.
Once I started reading it I realized that some of the things referred to in there are things I could look up in the digitized newspapers.
One section of the book I found interesting was about tin-kettling. Tin-kettling is when the peace and privacy of a wedding night is rudely interrupted by a group of noisy hooligans outside banging kerosene tins, pots and cans; hurling rocks onto the roof, and generally ruining the mood.
I’m sure that other countries have different names for similar traditions, and we have all seen that modern version of tin-kettling, when cans are tied to the back of the newlyweds car to rattle down the road attracting attention as they drive away from the ceremony.
For a time in the late 1800’s tin-kettling (also known as ‘rough music’) became a real problem in some parts of Australia. Newlyweds would be seriously harassed until the noisy ones had been bought off with sufficient alcohol.
Ignoring these ‘kerosene heroes’ would only cause the ruckus to become more destructive, with stones being thrown through windows. Even running off for a lengthy honeymoon wouldn’t help matters, the offenders would be aware of their return and the noisy torture would still be inflicted as though the wedding had just occurred.
A look through the archives shows that there were quite a few incidents, like this report from 1893, where the tin-kettling got out of hand and people were injured.
An example was mentioned in the book of a man whose daughter’s wedding day was interrupted by a group of determined tin-kettlers.
Instead of buying them off as many did he shot at them, injuring one or two. The article suggested that if all victims of such a noisy attack reacted in such a way this annoying practice would soon end.
I wondered if that tale was true and, naturally, had to have a look. I found this article from The Sydney Morning Herald in 1873 regarding the charges and evidence against a father who had done that very thing.
Interestingly the article ends with the Police Magistrate reprimanding the youth involved; saying that it was their bad behaviour which had nearly cost their friend his life, and the prisoner his liberty, and that they were as much and more to blame than the prisoner was.
I have also found articles that show tin-kettling was used at times as a form of protest against the union of the couple. In 1861 this much married widow was tin-kettled upon her marriage to a youth who was younger than one of her sons.
The article notes that some of the most demonstrative members of the noisy crowd were the widow’s many children!
Another report noted that the Rev. Grindle of Manuden, who married his late wife’s nurse a mere month after her death, was vigorously tin-kettled by the villagers in protest. They vowed to continue until he left the town, to which her protested that his late wife would have been happy with his new union.
Too bad if you lived in a town filled with people who didn’t like you or your new partner, the wedding is not likely to be remembered as the happiest day of your life!
If any of you were tin-kettled or tortured in any other way when you were married please share 😀
If you are interesting in more wedding traditions I did a long ago post about the origin of using a bouquet in weddings. Tussie Mussie.
The Tussie Mussie post sheds a whole new light on wedding traditions… I’m refraining from writing my firts thoughts re weddings, I hate being a hater, and if I have any associated negativity I have only myself to blame.
I went a country wedding, where the location of where the bride and groom were spending their wedding night was OTT top secret as there were some weird young male cousins who were quite open about their intent to disrupt the happy couple’s evening. Now from your post I understand it was a rough self-serving approximation of tin-kettling 🙂
I think that tin-kettling started off as a friendly way to send off the happy couple to their new life and ended up as the local louts using it as an excuse for hooliganism. It doesn’t surprise me that your country bride and groom were doing their best to keep it all quiet from their immature cousins.
I am not a wedding person either, and have managed to avoid getting married so far! I have been to two that were great. Quiet, private and happy. The rest have been just for the sake of appearances, blah.
Sounds like a good set of earplugs wouldn’t have helped much.
I don’t think so! 🙂
I’ve recently bought something similar with two volumes of John Roby’s ‘Lancashire Myths and Legends’ where the guy went around the county recording all the local stories before they vanished and published in 1829. It’s a bit older than yours and sadly probably doesn’t include Lancashire traditions like tin-kettling. It looks pretty dense and fanciful, but instead I have the likes of the Goblin Builders, the Mermaid of Martin Mere, The Spectre Horseman, and the Black Knight of Ashton to look forward to.
That sounds like a great book. I love that there are people out there preserving old traditions and songs, and people that still buy the books! I’m going to have to look up the Goblin Builders now 😀
Sounds like one of those traditions best forgotten.
I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of a tin-kettling, that’s for sure.
With all the expectations of a wedding night I can imagine that there were a few frustrated grooms that did something they later regretted to those who were members of the tin can band!
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Wow… just found this post. Give me confetti any day.
😀 Wait until you read chapter 2, Things get worse!
lol – just did. I like how you balanced your Dad’s story with the one from Texas.
Because you’re a TROVE enthusiast and might like to win a TROVE t-shirt Metan I’m passing on this link. All you have to do his fill in the research doco… 😉
Oooh! Thank you for that, I’m off there right now! 😀
Good-oh… fingers crossed for both of us 🙂
I’m easily pleased, I would rather the tshirt than the voucher!
Sending Much Love and Massive Hugs xxx