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

In re Harrison [1833] NSWSupC 40

adultery, imprisonment for - habeas corpus

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Forbes C.J., Dowling and Burton JJ, 1 June 1833

Source: Australian, 7 June 1833[1 ]

Ex-parte Eliza Harrison. - Mr. Williams moved for a writ of habeas corpus directed to the Gaoler at Newcastle, commanding him to produce the body of Eliza Harris on a day certain before the Court.  He observed that the motion was made rather late, as the unfortunate applicant had already been horded in gaol with the most abandoned of her sew for upwards of 60 days, under the most illegal warrant, both as to the absurdity and duration of punishment he had ever heard of.  Would their Honors believe it, the gravamen of the offence was living with another man in a state of adultery, she being a married woman, which accusation, the unfortunate woman denied.

Mr. Williams proceeded to read the warrant, a copy of which we insert, as an amusing specimen of the legal knowledge of a Country Justice,



New South Wales


to Wit.

To the Constables of Darlington, in the Colony of New South Wales, and the Keeper of the Gaol at Newcastle, in the said Colony.

Whereas Eliza Harrison was this day duly committed before me James Glennie, Esq., one of His Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the Colony of New South Wales, as a rogue and vagabond, for that she, the said Eliza Harrison on the 18th day of March, 1833, at Patrick's Plains, in the said Colony, was deposed to have left her husband, and to having been living in a state of adultery with another man, cantrary [sic] to the form of the Statute, in such case made and provided and was by me adjudged to be committed of the said offence, to the gaol aforesaid, as the House of Correction, there to be kept to hard labour for the space of 90 days.  These are, therefore, to command you, the said Chief Constable, to convey the said Eliza Harrison to the gaol aforesaid, together with this warrant.  And I do hereby command you the said keeper, to receive the said Eliza Harrison into your custody, in the said gaol, as the House of Correction, and her there safely keep to hard labour for the space of 90 days; and for so doing this shall be your sufficient warrant.

Given under my hand and seal, at Patrick's Plains, in the Colony aforesaid, this 18th day of March, 1833.


The reading created much merriment at the Bar, in which their Honors could scarcely refrain from joining.

The Chief Justice, - "Take your writ Mr. Williams, and let a certiorari accompany it, directing Mr. Glennie to send up the proceedings."


Forbes C.J., Dowling and Burton JJ, 1 June 1833

Source: Dowling, Proceedings of the Supreme Court, Vol. 83, State Records of New South Wales, 2/3266

[p. 52]Where a magistrate by his warrant committed a married woman as a rogue & vagabond, for three months under the vagrant act, setting forth as the only act of vagrancy that she had left her husband & was living in a state of adultery with another man.

The Court granted a Habeas Corpus to bring her up & have [p. 53] her discharged.

Wms for the prisoner.



[1 ] See also Sydney Gazette, 4 June 1833; Sydney Herald, 6 June 1833.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University