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

R. v. Turley [1804] NSWKR 2; [1804] NSWSupC 2

threatening language, use of

Court of Criminal Jurisdiction

Atkins J.A., 14 February 1804

Source: Court of Criminal Jurisdiction Minutes of Proceedings, 1801 -1808, State Records N.S.W, 5/1149 [1]

[179] Mary Cole being duly sworn deposes that on the 24th of last January she, in company with Mary Turley, came down in the passage boat from Parramatta to Sydney; that John Sullivan and Moses Davis took their passage in the said boat at said time. The deponent says that she neither heard Sullivan or Davis make use of any expressions, as stated in the indictment and sworn to by the prisoner, but she heard Sullivan make use of these words that if the French were to land, they would take Col. de Clomb's [180] head off. Deponent further says that such expressions as stated in the indictment might have been spoken by Sullivan and she not here them.

            Anne Martin being sworn deposes that she was in the passage boat at the time Mary Turley came down from Parramatta to Sydney on the 24th. That she neither heard Sullivan or Davis make use of any such expressions as stated in the indictment. That she heard Sullivan say that when the French would come her husband would lose his head, and that the word husband she believes means Colonel de Clomb. That she did not pay attention to the whole of what passed between Sullivan and Mary Turley.

            Michael Donovan being sworn deposes that he was in the passage boat with the prisoner, together with Sullivan and Davis on the 24th; that no such words as stated in the indictment were expressed either by Sullivan or Davis.



[1] Concern about the recent French revolution and the ambitions of Napoleon Bonaparte fostered an environment of fear about France in the early nineteenth century. The Sydney Gazette of 30 March 1806 recorded a similar incident to this: "Joseph Smallsalts, a prisoner for life, was on Tuesday last brought before the Judge Advocate, charged with having uttered expressions of an inflammatory and seditious tendency, highly disrespectful of his Majesty's government, and with intention to disturb the tranquillity of this colony... the offender was ordered 100 lashes (which punishment was inflicted accordingly) and sent to public labour at the Coal Mines at Newcastle. He was permitted to travel to Newcastle ... with a label on his back, on which Thomas Paine was decyphered in large characters, the culprit having declared that 'he would be worse than Tom Paine if thwarted'."

See also Court of Criminal Jurisdiction, Indictments, Informations and Related Papers, 1796-1815, State Records N.S.W., 5/1145, p. 235; Sydney Gazette, 19 February 1804; G.D. Woods, "Public Confidence in the Judiciary : Some Historical Observations and a Proposal", Confidence in the Courts Conference: National Judicial College of Australia, A.N.U., 9-11 February 2007.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University