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Decisions of the Superior Courts of New South Wales, 1788-1899

R. v. Bevan [1794] NSWKR 3; [1794] NSWSupC 3


Court of Criminal Judicature

Collins J.A., 1 October 1794

Source: Court of Criminal Jurisdiction, Minutes of Proceedings, State Records N.S.W., 1147A - 397[1]


Sydney in the County }

of Cumberland} 1st October 1794At a Court of Criminal Jurisdicature held by Virtue of a Precept under the Hand & Seal of His Honor Francis Grose, Esq, Lieutenant Governor over His Majesty's Territory of New South Wales & its Dependencies, for the Trial of all such Prisoners as shall be selectively brought before it.


Judge Advocate.

Joseph Foveaux                     Captain                    New South Wales Corps.

George Johnston                    Captain

John W Arthur                         Lieutenant

Edward Abbott                        Lieutenant

Thomas Nowley                      Lieutenant

Thomas Laycock                    Quarter Master 

                        The Precept being read and the Court duly sworn.

                        John Bevan, Labourer, was brought before the Court, charged, for that he on the fourteenth Day of September, in the year of Our Lord One Thousand, seven hundred & ninety four, about the Hour of Two, in the Night of the same Day, with Force & Arms, at Sydney in the County of Cumberland, the Dwelling House of William Fielder, there situate, feloniously & burgulariously did break & enter, with an Intent of Goods & Chattels of the said William Fielder in the said Dwelling House then & there feloniously & burgulariously take & carry away, against the Peace of our Lord the King, his Crown & Dignity.

                        [398]The Prisoner on his Arraignment, pleaded Not Guilty.

                         William Fielder, Labourer, being sworn, deposed, that his House is at the Back of the Storehouse -in which live with him, his Wife & Children  that on the Night of Sunday the fourteenth of last month, he was wakened by his Wife who told him that there was a Man in the House that he recollected he had given Leave to two Men to sleep in the House, & supposed she meant of them she told him no that (?) number, as she had felt a Man this time attempting to draw her Locket from under her head, & that he immediately jumped out of Bed - & ran to the Door, which he found secured with a Knife  that he had some Difficulty in opening it, but on his opening it, by the Light of the Moon, he was able to look around him, he went to the two Men, on opening the Door, to see if they were laying where he left them, but instead of two men he found three this alarming him, he caught hold of one of them, by name Smith & wakened him making him get up  that on looking round he saw a Man in [399] the Chiminey  that on pulling him out, he said his Name was Bevan, and begged him not to hurt him & that on asking him why he came to rob him, who had a Wife & Children, he again begged him not to hurt him & that while talking to & accusing him, the other Person escaped. He had no Jacket on but a Shirt, & Trousers & a brown Waistcoat. That the Prisoner is the Man he found in his Chiminey The Windows of his Hut, were all bolted, & the Door secured with a Nail, to prevent their being forced back.

That the Window at the back of their bed was forced open he other was fast. The Nail of this Window was got out and the Both hunched back. That when he jumped out of Bed, on opening the Door to go into the outer Room  he perceived some Person passed him without shoes That the Prisoners Hand was up the Chiminey  in which there was a Man that wants (?). All this happened about two o¿clock.

Sarah Fielder, Wife of William Fielder, having sworn, deposed, that having seen several people walking about Her Husband's House, when he had been (?) (?) Miller, she had been for this & that [400] Knitted (?) very particularly in (?) the House at Bed Time  that on the Night her House was broken into, she definitely remembers having secured it, & looking to see it was all secured, after she had undressed herself. Her windows are secured with Iron Bolts & that there is but one window in their Bed room, which is at the Back of the Bed - & that window was secured that she generally closed the window at Dusk, but particularly that Night she saw it fastened the last thing she did - - That from Fatige she slept very sound that Night. That she was awakened in the Night, twice, & thinking the noise was occasionally late  She hit her hand against the Bed  to move it away, that the third time she heard it, she thought it must be something more than a pillow, she struck with her hand & is very confident she struck a Man. That her pillow the last time was lifted up, & she supposes from her Lockets  she commonly put her Lockets under her head but had put them down that Night that unusual. That she wakened her Husband, & told him what she had heard  that he answered [401] he supposed noises are of the Men in the next room wanting to go out to make water - she told him the noise was at her Head  That they went to Bed about Ten o'clock  she & her Husband in one room, & two men who they offered to sleep the night in the other  That they had a very good opinion of these two men. That she is certain that there was a Man in her Bed room, the third time she was alarmed & that she hit him with her hand  That her Husband being wakened, they both sat up in the bed together, & on hearing some one turn over a stool, the Husband jumped out of Bed, at which Time the Man got out of the Bed room into the other room.That her Husband having opened the Front Door she perceived him feeling about in the ground she thought for a key that she heard him wake one of the Men, & in fact heard him call out, come down Villain or I will run this Knife into you - That she found their Chest broke open and things tossed about -That the Prisoner, upon the Oath, she has taken, is the Man she saw in Her Husband's House standing near [402] the Chiminey. That she had that Night a Lamp burning in the Bed Room where it stood near the wall - & on being surprised at finding the Lamp not burning, she discovered that fire (?) had been made in the (?) , where the Lamp stood, by which it had been (?)- (?)

John Smith, Labourer, being sworn deposed, that on Sunday Night, the 1st of Sept ¿ he slept at Fielders House ¿ that he went to Bed about 7 o'clock  that he was wakened by Fielder in the middle of the Night, who told him, there was a Man in the house, & to (?) him in his own Defence ¿ that on getting up (?) Fielder (?) a Man in the Chiminey Corner, which Man was the Prisoner.  That on (?) he had nothing but a Frock on, that he desired the Watchman to go with him to the House, where his other clothes lay.

Paul Bushell, Watchman, being sworn deposed, that he with another Watchman, hearing a noise, while they were on their Duty, at Fielders House, they went up to it, & found Fielder at the Door, who gave a Prisoner in Charge to him, which (?) was the Prisoner. That the Prisoner's Jacket was found in the garden.

[403] That the Prisoner in his Defence said, that in having drank some liquor, he strayed up towards Fielder's House, where which he was pulled by some Person, who he does not know -That while he was there, Fielder's Wife got up and gave the Men some water, that he was there a good while, & lay down by the fire place.\That he thinks a Man of the (?) (?) pulled him in & calls upon Joseph Cooper.

                    Joseph Cooper, Labourer, being sworn deposed

                    Questioned by the Prisoner ) Did you not come out of Fielder¿s House the night it was locked ¿(?) at 9 o¿clock.

Question. Did you see any People in the garden at that time.

Answer. Yes, I did such.

John Joseph, Labourer, being sworn

Question by the Prisoner. What time did you go to Bed at Fielders.

Answer. About 9.

Question. Who slept there with you.

 Answer. Mr Smith.

Question. Did any one else go in with you or did you get up in the Course of [404] the Night.

Answer. No.

Guilty- Death.

 David Collins

Judge Advocate


[1] We would like to thank Lynnette Hitchell for her transcription of this document.


Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University