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

R. v. Beaumont [1834] NSWSupC 8

receiving stolen goods - Supreme Court, jurisdiction of

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Forbes C.J., 3 February 1834

Source: Sydney Herald, 10 February 1834[1 ]

Monday. - Before his Honor the Chief Justice and a Civil Jury.

Andrew Beaumont was indicted for receiving goods, the property of John Mackanness, Esq., knowing the same to have been stolen.

The circumstances of this case were as follows.

The house of the prosecutor had been feloniously entered, in December last, by James Hamilton, Alexander McCullum aiding and abetting therein.  These men, who were in the employ of the prisoner Beaumont, have been tried and found guilty of the offence.  After the robbery, Mr. Jilks the Chief Constable went to the house of prisoner, at midnight, and inquired if he had any shirts or other property which did not belong to him, to which a direct negative was given.  Mr. Jilks then proceeded to search the house, when he found in a box several shirts, a pair of trousers, a waistcoat, and a pair of slippers, which from information received he had no doubt had been stolen from prosecutor's house in a former robbery.  Beaumont said he did not know how those articles came there, but his wife had washed for Hamilton and McCullum, who were in his employ at the Salt Pans, at Botany.  Mr. Jilks took Beaumont and his wife into custody, and at the Police Office Beaumont was committed for trial, and his wife discharged.  The prosecutor and his servants now identified the shirts and other articles in Court as having been stolen from prosecutor's house at a former robbery, in November last.

The prisoner produced many witnesses as to his former good character, and the Jury after retiring a short time, pronounced the prisoner Guilty, but recommended him to the lenity of the Court on the ground of previous good conduct.

The prisoner was remanded.


Forbes C.J., Dowling and Burton JJ, 15 February 1834

Source: Sydney Gazette, 18 February 1834[ 2]


Andrew Beaumont, convicted of receiving stolen property with a guilty knowledge, being called up for judgment.

Mr. Rowe rose, and said it had occurred to several of the members of the bar, that the Court had acted extra-judicially in holding two Supreme Courts of criminal judicature at one and the same time.  Upon this point, it was his intention to move for an arrest of judgment in Beaumont's case, that this subject might be brought under the full consideration of the Court.  Mr. R. cited two sections from the Act of Parliament, 9th George IV. and was about to argue their applicability to his motion, when Mr. Justice Dowling enquired what was there on the record of the conviction, to shew that two Supreme Courts had sat?

Mr. Rowe thought that was not necessary, as it was a circumstance within the judicial knowledge of the Court.

Mr. Justice Burton said, he did not wish to prejudice the motion of Mr. Rowe, but he was certainly in error.  Nothing could be moved in arrest of judgment except what appeared on the face of the record.

The Chief Justice observed that, although strictly speaking Mr. Rowe's objections could not be entertained in the present instance, yet as enough had been disclosed to shew the intention of those objections, he would make use of the present opportunity to state that this difficulty had been foreseen by the Court, and maturely deliberated on, before the system of two Judges sitting at the same time, for the trial of separate criminal issues had been adopted.  For his own part, he should have patiently listened to any arguments which might have been raised against the adoption of this practice, the more so, as he had felt constrained, on some former occasions, to give up a previous opinion he had formed, to the arguments of the bar; but in this instance, he was quite satisfied that no difficulty could exist with respect to the point sought to be raised.  The question having come rather unexpectedly upon him at the present moment, he was not prepared to quote all the law authorities on this head, but there was a rule laid down in Hawkins's Pleas of the Crown, which he apprehended would at once set the matter at rest.  It was held that what the Court can do, may be done by any one or more Judge or Judges of the Court; and it was competent for Courts of Oyer and Terminer, and of Gaol delivery to be held before two or more Judges in separate apartments under the same roof.  So he apprehended it could not be said that more than one Supreme Court existed in the Colony, although two Judges sat for mere convenience, to determine distinct issues in separate apartments of that Court.  This appeared to be the practice of the superior Courts at Westminster; and his two learned associates, whose former extensive practice in the circuit Courts of the Mother Country enabled them to bear witness to the fact, united with him in opinion that there was no legal ground to entertain the present motion.

Mr. Justice Dowling stated, that the practice was not a new one; it existed in most parts of England, and was a mere arrangement among the Judges for an equal division of labour.

Mr. Justice Burton concurred in the same opinion.  In England there was but one commission of Oyer and Terminer, one of gaol delivery, and one of Nisi Prius, and yet the Judges sat in their respective Courts, determining issues at the same time.

Mr. Rowe was happy that this point had been decided, as it had occurred to several of the members of the bar, that objections might hereafter be raised to such a mode of procedure.  One difficulty which had been contemplated, was that which might occur in cases of prosecution for perjury, where two judges presided in the distinct apartments of the Court at the same time.

Mr. Justice Burton. - No difficulty can occur to any one aware of the legal practice of England.

The Chief Justice then sentenced the prisoner Andrew Beaumont, to transportation to a penal settlement for the term of 14 years.



[1 ] See also Sydney Gazette, 4 February 1834.

[ 2] See also Australian, 17 February 1834; Sydney Herald, 20 February 1834.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University