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

R. v. Peters, alias Rum Johnny [1815] NSWKR 2; [1815] NSWSupC 2

fraud, obtaining goods by

Court of Criminal Jurisdiction
Bent J.A.., 3 July 1815
Source: Court of Criminal Jurisdiction Minutes of Proceedings, 1813-1815, State Records N.S.W, 5/1121[1]

[684] Rum Johnny otherwise called John Peters is put to the bar charged with unlawfully knowingly and designedly obtaining drivers goods and chattels off and from one James Kurton at Sydney on the 15th of March last past, by means of a certain false order in writing in the name of one M. Dilling.

           The prisoner pleads not guilty, whereupon issue is joined.

           James Kurton sworn and examined for the prosecution, says I live in George Street and keep a shop there. I know the prisoner at the bar. He was servant to Mr Peter Dillon and had been in the habit of coming to my shop for Mr Dillon. Mr Dillon was a customer of mine. He used to send the prisoner who goes by the name of John Peters to my shop for potatoes and other things and Mr Dillon used to pay for them. Mr Dillon is a married man. I recollect the prisoner bringing to me a written order on a Wednesday a long time ago. I can't recollect the month. I can't recollect it was so long ago. He shewed me the order. This is the order. I could not make out the order very well because it is so badly written. I looked at [685] the signature of the order it is "M. Dilling". I took it to be his mistress's. He said his mistress had sent him. He said he wanted for her some shoes, some shawls and some bonnets for his mistress. He said he would bring the payment immediately. There was some cheese on the [counter] and he said he would take a cheese to shew his mistress. He took with him two shawls at ten shillings a piece, two pair of shoes at ten shillings a pair and a cheese which was selling at 3/6 a pound. The bonnets were not finished and he said he would come next morning for them. He came accordingly next morning and brought back one pair of shoes and said his mistress would keep one pair. I asked him about the shawls and he said he did not know whether his mistress would keep both or one. He said he would come back in a little time and bring the money. He took the bonnets away. I was to charge a pound a piece for the bonnets. The prisoner did not call again to pay for these things. Mr Dillon has not paid for these things or Mrs Dillon. In consequence of the prisoners not coming with the money I went to where Mr Dillon lodged. I did not see him at that time, but he called the same evening at my shop. I shewed him the order. He denied any knowledge of it. He denied having sent for the things at all. But after the prisoner was committed to gaol, Mr Dillon said he would go to Mr Wentworth to get him released and that he would pay me for the things. In consequence of some information I received I went after the prisoner. I found him in York Street opposite Sergeant Millar's door. He had the two bonnets with him. I did not see him doing anything with them. I did not see him offer them the sale. I brought him to my house before Mr Dillon his master who was there. His master gave him a reprimand and told me to give him to a constable. I gave him to Dalton. After I had brought him to my house the prisoner said [686] he hoped I would not give the order to his master for his master would kill his mistress. The prisoner was very much intoxicated when he first brought the order. I am sure the bonnets I found on the prisoner were mine. I have since sold them. I gave the prisoner into custody on the night after he brought the order. The shawls the prisoner had from me were yellow shawls made of calico of India manufacture. Dark spots on a yellow ground. They were of the same description as the shawls now shewn me. I cannot swear to them for I had so many like them. I had not recovered the shoes or the cheese. When I took the prisoner into custody he desired me not to tell his master or mistress. He said "you want not to hang me, me bring the money".

           The order is read.

           Mary Cleary sworn and examined for the prosecution, says I live at Hawkesbury. I lived at Clarence Street, Sydney in March last. I have lived at the Hawkesbury about a month. I recollect buying two shawls from the prisoner I believe about four months ago. I think it was after Easter. They were of the same description of shawls as these two now shewn me, but I cannot swear that they are the same. I put the shawls I brought from the prisoner into my window for sale and I afterwards took them out of my window and gave them up to Dalton or the constable in the prisoner's presence. I gave them up to Dalton the same week I bought them. The prisoner told me he drew them from his master as part of his wages. The prisoner was not drunk at the time.

           Richard Dalton sworn and examined for the prosecution, says I took this prisoner into custody [687] on the 16th of March. At his desire on the following day I took him to the house of the last witness where he said there were two shawls which he had sold. Mary Cleary gave up the shawls to me. The two shawls in court are the same shawls. The prisoner did not appear to me to be drunk when I took him into custody.

           The prosecution is closed.

           A written statement is read in the prisoner's defence.

           John Moore sworn and examined for the prosecution, says he is the brother of Mrs Dillon and that the signature to the order shewn him there is no resemblance to the hand writing of his sister or to that of her husband Mr P. Dillon.

           The court having maturely considered the premises doth adjudge that the said Rum Johnny otherwise called John Peters is guilty of the misdemeanours wherewith he is charged.


[1] The Court of Criminal Jurisdiction continued to operate as it had since 1788. It was headed by the Judge Advocate, Ellis Bent, who had effectively been demoted upon his brother Jeffery's arrival in the colony. Ellis no longer heard civil matters. On this case, see also Court of Criminal Jurisdiction, Precepts and Informations, 1788-1824, State Records N.S.W., 5/1144B, p. 595; Sydney Gazette, 8 July 185.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University