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

R v Lego'me [1835] NSWSupC 4

Aboriginal defendant, self-defence of land - highway robbery - Brisbane Water - Aboriginal land rights

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Forbes C.J., 12 February 1835

Source: Sydney Herald, 16 February 1835[1 ]

Thursday. - Before His Honor the Chief Justice.

Lego'me, an aboriginal native, stood indicted for a highway robbery, and putting in bodily fear Patrick Sheridan, at Brisbane Water, on the 18th January last.

Patrick Sheridan deposed that, on the day laid in the indictment, he was met by a party of blacks, amongst whom was the prisoner, who asked him for some tobacco, which he the prosecutor divided amongst them; after which, the prisoner, in a menacing attitude, poised his spear in the direction of the prosecutor and darted it forward, but the point went into the ground; prosecutor was exceedingly alarmed, expecting that he would be destroyed, as he had been informed that the blacks had been making enquiries for him a few days previously, and had committed many outrages in that neighbourhood; the party were all armed with their implements of warfare, with which they were observed to invariably furnish themselves since they had commenced robbing the settlers; and Lego'me advanced towards the prosecutor, commanding him to deliver up what he had about him, at the same time thrusting his hand in his pockets and pulled out a pipe and a knife, which was all prosocutor had about his person; having satisfied themselves that he had nothing else, they permitted him to proceed.  The prosecutor swore to the identity of the prisoner, as he had been in the habit of seeing him once or twice every week for two or three years, and he had frequently been allowed to sleep in prosecutor's hut.

Mr. Therry, on behalf of the prisoner, in his cross-examination of the prosecutor, asked him if he was not aware that he had been a squatter for some time on Legome's ground, and had frequently committed great depredations on his kangaroos.  The prosecutor, who did not appear to understand the nature of the question, said, that he believed the ground belonged to Government, and, as for kangaroos, he had something else to do than look for them.  The Jury returned a verdict of guilty, and Lego'me received sentence of transportation for seven years.

 

Notes

[ 1]See also Australian, 17 February 1835, which commented: ``This prosecution appears to us unnecessary - and the sentence severe - it is too ridiculous to think that a man should prosecute in a Court of Law, one of a body of natives who committed so excusable and unimportant a robbery; it may be said, a robbery is a robbery, whether it was a pipe or £100 that was stolen; this requires no answer."  See also Sydney Gazette, 14 February 1835.

For other trials of Aborigines at this time, see R. v. Mickey and Muscle, 1835; R. v. Monkey and others, 1835; R. v. Long Dick and others, 1835.  The Sydney Herald, 16 February 1835, Australian, 17 February 1835, and Sydney Gazette, 14 February 1835, reported that there was another trial on 12 February 1835, of Little Dick.  He was convicted of burglary in the dwelling house of J. Bloodsworth of Brisbane Water, and also received a sentence of transportation for life.  See also Australian, 17 February 1835, reporting the conviction of Toby for robbery in the house of John Lynch of Sugar Loaf Creek; and the conviction and sentence to death recorded of another, unnamed, Aborigine, for robbing the house of Patrick Murick at Wollombi.  The Sydney Gazette, 14 February 1835, stated that Toby had the alias of Monkey.

Sue Castrique has sent us the following very helpful note, explaining who was whom among the defendants:

"The [Macquarie cases] site suggests that the Aboriginal prisoner Toby, who was involved in the raid on Lynch's farm at Sugarloaf Creek, went by the alias of Monkey. 

"The suggestion was first made by made in the Sydney Gazette on 14 February 1835.
 

"During my research of the history of Cockatoo Island I have spent some time researching Toby, who was a prisoner on the island from 1839-41. 

"The goal records seem to indicate Toby and Monkey were 2 separate people.

"Newcastle Gaol Entrance Book, [2/2005-8] Reel 756

"Toby was admitted 24 January 1835 for trial at the Supreme Court. 

"Sydney Gaol Entrance Book, [4/6435] Reel 852

"Monkey was admitted to Sydney Gaol on 6 January 1835 with Joe the Marine and Young Dick. He was remanded for 7 days. Disposed of: ex to patau ? On 14 January [original unclear]

"Monkey was again admitted on 14 January with Joe the Marine and Young Dick.

"'Disposed - interim - to 22 January'

"Monkey was admitted once again with Curribong Jemmy, Tom Jones, Old John, Young Dick and Joe the Marine on 2 February 1835. Monkey was admitted 'for examination' not trial and disposed to police.

"Toby was admitted to Sydney Gaol (presumably transferred from Newcastle) on 28 January 1835.

"This suggests to me that they were two different people, given that they were both in Sydney Gaol and arrived at different times."

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University