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

R. v. Tremby [1818] NSWKR 14; [1818] NSWSupC 14

sheep stealing - Van Diemen's Land - transportation to Newcastle

Court of Criminal Jurisdiction
Wylde J.A., 16 June 1818
Source: Sydney Gazette, 20 June 1818

           Sheep stealing. Joseph Tremby, senior, James Tremby, Joseph Tremby, junior, and Connor Shean, were indicted for stealing a number of sheep on the 10th of January last, at Launceston, Port Dalrymple, the property of Mr David Gibson, and others.

           David Gibson, settler at Launceston, deposed, that about the end of October last, 73 sheep were reported absent from the flock of Mr Robert Campbell, of which he has the management and care; and that in the month of December last, he missed from the joint flock of himself and Mr Edward Lord, of Hobart Town, 150 more. But in consequence of these very heavy losses he deemed it incumbent on him to make every possible enquiry; that all efforts to gain intelligence respecting them proved unavailing till the 15th of January following, when he received information that the Tremby's flock had recently received an addition of a number of newly marked sheep; and he therefore accompanied Mr Howard, the Chief Constable at Launceston, to the farm of the prisoners. On their arrival at the house they found all the prisoners, to whom they communicated their intention of searching their flock, to which Tremby the elder of objected, whereupon the Chief Constable, shewing his authority, demanded to be conducted to them, and was led by Connor Shean, the shepherd, to a flock of about 700, and on their return they fell in with another flock of nearly 200, both of which were driven to the sheep inclosure of the prisoners, upon their entrance into which witness, at the first glance, recognized about 100 to form part of those absent from his flocks, from perceiving the figure of 8 on some of their foreheads, Tremby, sen. and James Tremby being present; the latter of whom owned the whole of the sheep as his individual property. That on the Monday following, the sheep remaining in care of constables, the witness returned to the house of the prisoners, and then drew from the flock 112, the property of himself, Mr Robert Campbell, and Mr Edward Lord; at the same time drawing of 40 more, which he, the witness, knew to be the property of Mr Skelton; who, having also lost a number of sheep, upon receiving this information, dispatched his shepherd to the prisoners' farm, and he also selected from their flock 47 others. Mr Gibson stated to the Court that his own sheep were marked with three parallel lines, but on recovering them they had again been branded with the letter T. reversed, (the initial of the prisoners' names), which made four lines; those belonging to Mr Lord were branded with the letter L., but which had awkwardly been converted into a T, and also of course became reversed; and that those belonging to Mr Campbell were marked with the figure 8, and had also received the addition of the letter T., leaving that figure entire; and he further deposed, that the animals had so recently received the additional marks, that the scab, produced from the effects of branding, yet remained, on taking off which the original brand became so apparent, that he could positively identify them.

           Walter Snow, stock keeper to Mr Gibson, deposed that he attended his master to the sheep yard of the prisoners, and from a flock of sheep, of nearly 1000 in number, he recognized 150, having himself branded the whole of them, but the marks had been much disfigured, though not so effectually as to prevent his knowledge of them. The witness then went to corroborate the latter part of the foregoing testimony.

John Garrett, Shepherd to Mr Gibson, corroborated the principal points deposed to by the last witness.

           Arthur Duggan, shepherd to Mr Skelton, of Launceston, deposed, that about a fortnight prior to the 23rd of January last, a quantity of sheep were missing from his master's flock; and having received directions to proceed and search the prisoners' flock, he found 47; and from thence went to the Court yard at Launceston, and there identified 40 others that had been picked out by Mr Gibson, making 87, the whole of which he swore to be the property of his master. This witness further deposed, that Mr Skelton's sheep were all branded with the letter B, and burnt across the nose; but had subsequently received the additional brand of a reversed T; which, however, did not obliterate his master's brand, that remaining still perceptible; but on removing the scab from the face of the animal, the former brand was as apparent as ever.

           The prosecution here ended; and the prisoners were placed on their defence; when Joseph Tremby, senior, Joseph Tremby, junior, and Connor Shean, denied all knowledge of the charge; and James Tremby declared that the sheep were his own property, and that he bought them at different times of various individuals. The Court retired, and after half an hour's deliberation, the members resumed their seats, one verdict was returned of Guilty against the three Tremby's, for receiving the said sheep knowing them to be stolen - 14 years to Newcastle. Connor Shean Acquitted.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University