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

R v Beard and Richardson [1833] NSWSupC 73

bushranging - Bushranging Act, Forbes C.J. captured as a suspect - Maitland - highway robbery - capital punishment

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Dowling J., 1 August 1833

Source: Sydney Gazette, 3 August 1833[ 1]

Henry Beard and John Richardson were indicted for a highway robbery on the person of John Quandron, at Anvil Creek, near Maitland, on the 5th of June last; and John M'Mullins, for receiving the property, so feloniously taken by the other prisoners, knowing it to have been stolen.

Richard Alcorn, Innkeeper at Falbrook, being sworn, desposed, that on the 3d June he despatched a dray from Falbrook to Maitland, for a load of goods; the distance from Maitland to Falbrook is about 40 miles; John Quandron, my assigned servant, had charge of the dray; he had my written order for the articles he was to bring up.

John Quandron deposed, that he was servant to Richard Alcorn, of Falbrook; in June last, had charge of a dray load of his master's property; on the 5th June last he received a dray-load of property from the St. Michael store ship, at Green Hills, for the purpose of taking home to his master; he went on to Maitland towards home; on coming to Anvil Creek, about two o'clock in the afternoon, I was stopped by two men on the road; another man, Joseph Harrison, a servant to Captain Allman, was with me at the time; they came up to me both mounted on horseback, each armed with a double-barreled [sic] fowling-piece and a pistol; they ordered me to into the bush; when they got me into the bush, about half-a-mile from the road, they proceeded to unload the dray, desiring me to sit down and they would not hurt me; they took from the dray a hogshead of rum, a keg of brandy, and sundry other articles in cases, &c., the contents of which I did not know; these things were the property of Mr. Alcorn and were part of what was delivered to me by the storekeeper on board the St. Michael, to be taken to Mr. Alcorn, at Falbrook; they also took 1 bag, 3 blankets, and a package of tea, the property of Mr. Lethbridge, also entrusted to his care, and 1 case the property of Mr. Gaggin; I remained in this situation from 2 o'clock until sundown ; one of the bushrangers went away with as much of the property as he could take in a cart belonging to Captain Allman, whish was under the charge of Harrison; the other bushranger stopt [sic]; the one that went away with the cart returned in about two hours, and took away the remainder of the property; I had no fire-arms; one of the bushrangers, during the absense [sic] of the other with the cart, stood over me all the time with a double-barrelled fowling piece; when they had secured the property, they gave up Captain Allman's cart; they left half-a-pipe of wine and a keg of vinegar; next day in the bush about half-a-mile from where I was stopped, I saw 1 hogshead rum, 1 cwt. Salt, and several of the cases, which had been broken open and the contents taken out; the mounted police were then along with me; I gave information to Mr. Coulson, a settler in the neighbourhood; the bushrangers made me help to load the cart; the prisoners Beard and Richardson, now at the bar, are the two men who robbed the cart; I am sure they are the men; I had not seen them before; I am positive they are the men; I followed a track, in company with three police-men and Mr. Coulson, who went in search of the prisoners; during the time they plundered the dray, their horses stood at a short distance tied to a tree; one had on a short light jacket, and the other a fustain jacket and trowsers answering the description ef [sic] dress the prisoners now appear in.

Joseph Harrison - I am a blacksmith to Captain Allman of Maitland; I was in company with last company with last witness on the 5th of June last; had a horse and cart loaded with iron and blacksmiths' tools; I had been to the St. Michael, store-ship, where I got my cart loaded and returned along with Quandron; two men overtook us on the road beyond Maitland; they had fire arms and were on horse back; Beard and Richardson are the men; they took us into the bush and ordered us to do as they told us; we went about half-a-mile into the bush; I assisted Quandron in taking the goods from the dray into my master's cart; they ordered me to do so; when they were taking away the wine, I asked them to leave a bottle; had no acquaintance with the prisoners before; I have seen Richardson once before at Mr. Bettington's farm; have no doubt the prisoners at the bar are men who robbed Mr. Allman's dray.

Examined by the prisoner Beard - I drank part of a bottle of wine, which I asked you to give me from a can which you were unpacking and stowing away in the cart; I did not drink part of 3 or 4 bottles of the wine, I only drank part of the bottle which you gave me.

John Pawling, a serjeant in the mounted police, said, on the 6th of June I went to Mr. Coulson's house wtth [sic] two of my party, when I was joined by him and some blacks, and I went along with them, accompanied by Mr. Alcorn and Captain Allman's servant to the spot where the dray was taken off the road; I had some knowledge of the robbery, but did not ask any questions; we went into the bush and found the dray with several things lying around it; a short distance off we found a hogshead of rum; I then proceeded to a part of Anvil Creek, and came up with two armed bushrangers encamped; the prisoners at the bar are the men; when they perceived me coming they put their arms at the ready position, and took their aim from behind a tree; they had each a double-barrelled fowling-piece; I desired the prisoners to ground their arms; at the same time I called to the other men who were rather apart, and said "come on my lad they are here;" they then grounded their arms, and I secured them, and proceeded to examine the property found in their immediate possession (the witness here read a log list of sundries which proved to be part of the property which was stolen), which was all laying on the ground; this place was about a half a mile from where the dray was stopped; I had previously seen the prisoner M'Mullins; he goes by the name of "Scotch Jack;" I saw him on horseback, about three quarters of a mile from where I took the others; we entered into conversation; I asked him, before I had taken the other prisoners, if he could give me any information respecting them; he told me they had taken breakfast at his house that morning, and that they were to take dinner with him that day at one o'clock; I then asked him if he could put me in the way of apprehending them, he said he believed he could; he then directed me to a small hill in the neigbourhood [sic] where he thought they were, and said he would render me all the assistance he could to put me in the track; he went with me; I sent one of the mounted police to the right of the hill; he took me across the creek, and then said he did not wish to go further, but he was certain the bushrangers were not far off; I went according to his information, and came up with the encampment as already mentioned; but for this information it is probable we should not have taken the prisoners that morning; I saw nothing more of M'Mullins till late in the evening, when I found him handcuffed in Mr. Coulson's house, where I went with the two other prisoners in charge; I enquired how he happened to be handcuffed?  M'Mullins was present and rather in liquor; finding there was no charge against him, I ordered the handcuff's to be taken off; I liberated him with the intention of allowing him to go home as his wife, I understood, was on the point of death; he asked me to allow him to go in and "bounce" the prisoners, what I understood by "bouncing" is, that he wanted to pump them; when he went in, the first question he asked them was, if they "wished to hang him like a b---y dog ?"  Richardson asked M'Mullins what he had done with the keg of brandy, for he had rolled it away while they were rolling the rum?  I was in the room when they asked him if he had not taken away the blanket which contained the fustian jackets, and the tea and sugar; they asked him if he had not been down to a house called the "Blind fiddlers," and ascertained whose property was on the dray and when it would be up, and whether he did not come back and "crack the weed;" his only answers to these questions was, "did they wish to hang him like a dog?"  he said if I would send him the following morning, with Mr. Coulson and a mounted police man, he would be bound to find the brandy, if they could point out where the rum was found; I received the brandy in the course of the day.

Cross-examined by Mr. Stephen, for the prisoner, M'Mullins - It was a voluntary offer of M'Mullin's to go and bounce the other two prisoners; he had no occasion to go unless he liked; he volunteered to go and find the brandy; his showing me across the creek was the means of my securing the prisoners; he rendered every assistance.

By the Solicitor General - M'Mullins was not tipsy, but a little the worse for liquor.

Thomas Coulson - I am a settler on the Hunter; I received information from Mr. Alcorn's drayman that he had been robbed; I did not believe him, but from other information I went along with the mounted police; we proceeded to track until we came to a place where part of the property was hid; when the prisoners, Beard and Richardson, were secured, they informed me that M'Mullins had a case of glass; we went and found some tumblers, &c. at the bottom of a tree about 40 yards from M'Mullins' house; I found a bottle of brandy in his house; he said that was all he had; the cork was sealed black; I told the mounted police to take care of it; the prisoners said M'Mullins had six shillings belonging to them, also two quart pots, which they claimed as theirs, and a canvas bag with some sugar, which were both given to them, as also the six shillings; I think M'Mullins denied ever having seen the prisoners before; the property was packed up and brought to Maitland.

Serjeant Pawling re-examined - The property was given over by order of magistrates at Maitland to the owners, Messrs. Alcorn, Lethbridge, and Harper.

Cross-examined by Mr. Stephen - Cannot say whether "Scotch Jack" said that he never saw the prisoners, Beard and Richardson, before; it is not at all improbable that M'Mullins might have been intimidated by the presence of the bushrangers, so as to let them sit down and cook in his house; he immediately gave up the things claimed by Beard and Richardson as being theirs when asked to do so; there was not time for the prisoners to make away with the property.

William Connor, a private in the mounted police, said - I went along with Mr. Coulson, and some others on the 7th June last, to Scotch Jack's house; M'Mullins, at that time, was a prisoner under my charge; about two miles from it we found some brandy, in a keg; the prisoner M'Mullins told me the night before, if I allowed him to go to his place next day, and if we could point out to him where the rum was found, it was ten to one he would be able to find the brandy; Mr. Coulson, he, and I, in searching, found it ; there were about 30 gallons; when it was found, I went to a place called "Molly Morgan's," to get a cart to fetch it; on my return I met Mr. Coulson and my comrade, with the two prisoners in charge, going towards Scotch Jack's house; the day before I had searched Scotch Jack's house; after the prisoners were apprehended, I asked him if there was any tea or brandy there; he said there was about three-quarters of a pound of tea, which the bushrangers had left the morning they breakfasted at his house; he gave me the tea; I asked him if there was not some brandy left; he told me there were two bottles in plant at the end of the house; I asked him to go and get them, which he did; he said the brandy was left there by the bushrangers; the corks were sealed with black wax; on the second day I went to Scotch Jack's I found a bottle of brandy on the table, and said, "You have more brandy I see;" he asked if there was any in the bottle; I said there is a small drop; in a few minutes after he went and brought out another bottle, three parts full ;on the 6th I had left him one of the bottles three parts full, and he said the bottle then produced was the one which I had left; the other bottle was divided among the persons assisting in bringing in the swag; Serjeant Pawley took charge of all the property.

Cross-examined by Mr. Stephen - "Scotch Jack" gave me information respecting the robbery, but not before I told him I was going to search his house ; on the morning of the 7th June, I saw Mr. Coulson and the two prisoners, Beard and Richardson, walking towards Scotch Jack's house, and one of the mounted police along with them.

William Keating, labourer, now living at Maitland, said, in the month of June last, I lived with M'Mullins as a servant ; I was in the house on the evening of the day on which Mr. Alcorn's dray was robbed; I saw two men in the evening who had supper there; the two prisoners, Beard and Richardson are they; they came there after dark; I had never seen them there before; M'Mullins was there; he had previously told me he expected two strangers; before they sat down to supper, Richardson said, "M'Mullins did you not make three cracks with a whip?"  "M'Mullins said no, he only made two;" the short man, Richardson, then went out and brought in the tall man, Beard; they brought with them a bottle of brandy; I did not understand the crack of the whip; they appeared to know each other; I was standing in the centre of the floor; they did not know me; I never saw them before; I came home in the middle of the day from Maitland; Molly Morgan's is about eleven miles from Maitland; I know a place called the "Black Fiddlers;" it is a place where drays stop sometimes; it is four miles from Molly Morgan's; Hunt's and Molly Morgan's are the same; M'Mullin's house is a quarter of a mile from Molly Morgan's; when I came home from Maitland, I saw some fresh-killed beef; I asked M'Mullins how he came by it; he said, "you will see the men that gave it to me to night;" there might have been 2 cwt. Weight of beef; we had beef for supper, and coffee made of wheat; after supper a glass of brandy was handed round; after they went out, I heard M'Mullins saying to the other prisoners that he could not trust the old man who was in the house, for he did not know him; he said he would do all the business himself; he went out, taking with him two sacks, and was absent two hours; I saw nothing with him when he came back; next morning the two prisoners came again to breakfast; M'Mullins told them to take the things out of his sacks and put him in the blankets; M'Mullins brought the tea for breakfast from outside, in a handkerchief; there is no grocer's shop in that neighbourhood.

Cross-examined by Mr. Stephen - I went to Maitland on the 2d June; was absent two or three days; I do not know what conversation passed between M'Mullins and the prisoners when he said "I can't leave the old man in the house, &c."; I have been left in the house five months by myself intrusted [sic] with property during the absence of M'Mullins; never heard the prisoners say a word to M'Mullins; I saw nothing more of the bags; if the prisoners had asked me to take up the bags and accompany them, I should from fear have done so; I never saw the prisoners at M'Mullins house, or with him until the 5th June.

Cross-examined by the prisoner Beard - M'Mullins was in gaol for five month's for selling rum without a license.

John Cradditch, belonging to the mounted police gave evidence similar to that given by his comrades.

Robert Lethbridge, Esq. - I sent by Alcorn's dray that was robbed, 6 bottles brandy, 6 lbs. tea, 3 blankets, and 3 fustain jackets; I saw the things delivered into the charge of Mr. Robbins of Maitland, with an understanding that he was to forward them by Alcorn's dray; they were to be left at Alcorn's until my dray called for them; they did not go in the regular course of transit; I afterwards got possession of the blankets and jackets at the Police-office, Maitland, also three pounds of tea, but not any of the brandy; I had sealed the brandy with black wax; the cork now produced, I have every reason to believe, belonged to one of my bottles; the value of the brandy and tea was about £2 10s.

John Quondron examined - I knew Mr. Robbins of Maitland sent some blankets, jackets, a case of brandy, and some tea.

William Keating re-examined - I saw the tea at M'Mullins'; it was black tea, about 1 lb.; M'Mullins' brought it in; Maitland is the nearest place that tea could have been purchased at.

Cross-examined by Mr. Stephen - He brought in the tea on the evening of the 5th June; after he took out the bags he brought in the tea; he might have brought it from Maitland for anything that I know.

Richard Alcorn - I got some glassware at Maitland, also a hogshead of rum, a keg of brandy, and a bag of salt; I keep a public-house at Falbrook; I ordered some vinegar and pickles, but did not receive either; the glass in the box now produced answers the description of the glass in my bill of parcels; I have paid for it.

This was the case for the prosecution.

The prisoners upon being called on for their defence, said they had subp¿naed several witnesses.  The Solicitor General stated the subp¿nas had been regularly forwarded according to the prisoners' request.  Their witnesses were called, but none of them made their appearance.

His Honor summed up at considerable length, recapitulating the most material points of evidence.

The Jury retired for about five minutes, and returned a verdict of guilty against the three prisoners.

Henry Beard and John Richardson, were again indicted for stealing in the dwelling-house of Mr. William Harper, a double-barrelled fowling-piece, and other articles; one ____ Burke then being therein, and put in bodily fear, at Oswald, Hunter's River, on the 22d of April last.

The prisoners were found guilty on the clearest evidence.

They were again indicted for a similar offence, committed in the dwelling-house of Mr. Alexander M'Leod, at Hunter's River, and also found guilty.

The learned Judge proceeded to pass sentence upon them in the most feeling and impressive manner.  He said they must long ere this time have made up their minds that their earthly career had very nearly drawn to a close.  He beseeched the to spend well the few remaining hours they had to live in this world.  Their conduct had been of the most lawless and aggravated nature; it had been one continued round of plunder and robbery, until they had become the terror of the settlers in the district where they had carried on their depredations.  It became him painful but necessary duty to act upon the local ordinance; which enacts, that persons found guilty of house-robbery, shall suffer the extreme penalty of the law in forty-eight hours after conviction.  Earnestly imploring them to make their peace with their offended God, he sentenced them to be executed on Monday morning next, at nine o'clock in the morning.[2 ]



[1 ] See also Sydney Herald, 5 August 1833; Dowling, Proceedings of the Supreme Court, Vol. 85, Archives Office of New South Wales, 2/3268, p. 157.

On the Bushranging Act, see also R. v. Ryan, Troy, Smith and Anderson, 1832.

The Bushranging Act sometimes caught surprising people: in 1835, Forbes C.J. was apprehended as a bushranger, that is, as a suspected runaway convict: Australian, 23 January 1835.

[2 ] In accordance with the Bushranging Act (11 Geo. 4 No. 6, s. 6), Beard and Richardson were hanged on 5 August 1833, two days after the trial (Australian, 9 August 1833).  The Act allowed some discretion in the trial judge to postpone the date of execution: see R. v. Jones, reported in the Sydney Gazette, 3 August 1833: Dowling J. said that some circumstances of the case constrained him to sentence him to death not within 48 hours, but at a time to be fixed by the Governor.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University