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

R v Long Dick [1835] NSWSupC 43

Aboriginal defendants - stealing - Brisbane Water 

Jack Jones

Abraham

Gibber Paddy

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Dowling J., 12 May 1835

Source: Sydney Gazette, 14 May 1835[ 1]

 

Military Jury

Long Dick, Jack Jones, Abraham, and Gibber Paddy, all Aboriginal Natives, belonging to Brisbane Water, stood indicted for stealing a quantity of property, value £50, the goods of Alfred William Jaques, and William Ross, on the 25th of October, 1834.

Alfred William Jaques sworn - I was a housekeeper on the 25th October last, at Brisbane Water; I was at home that day; between the hours of one and two I saw a party of natives, about sixty in number, marching for the house; on their coming up three of them tried to get in, and made a demand for various articles of food in broken English; I forcibly ejected them, upon which the whole party went to the adjoining farm with spears in their hands, where the men were receiving rations; they saw the party there was too strong for them; they then returned to my farm and commenced rummaging the men's huts, and throwing the goods, &c. into the creek; one of the men came to my house and told me what they were about; I told him I was aware of it; I was sorry I could render him no assistance; I then shortly after saw a party approaching my house in a hostile manner with their spears shipped; they shortly  surrounded the house, when I directed a man named William Ross to take up an adze, and keep the door way as long and as well as he could; I then went to the back of the house, opened a window and presented a double-barrelled piece; I told them I would fire on them if they attempted any violence; they then coo'ed and another party joined them, making in all, at least, one hundred and fifty; they then commenced battering the house with stones lll [sic] they effected a breach, and one of the natives threw a spear which struck Ross in the side and wounded him; I told him not to mind that; I gave him a gun to act as I had done and not to fire; I then went and reconnoitred and determined on making an escape, accompanied by Ross if possible; we then made a rush out of the door, when a spear was thrown at me, which struck the rim of my hat; we then by dint of hard running made the adjoining farm; I then saw the aborigines were in possession of my house and were throwing articles of furniture and other things out of the window; they took away all they wanted; I know Long Dick and Gibber Paddy; Gibber Paddy was one of the three who first came to the house; Long Dick was also among the large party; I know Jack Jones and Abraham well, but I cannot swear whether they were among the parties; the aborigines have been committing several depredations on me within the last nine months to the amount of one hundred and fifty pounds; they have been treated very well by me and my men; none of their gins were ever taken away from them; my opinion is that the blacks are not solely to blame, being led on either by bushrangers or prisoners of the crown; from the depredations of the aborigines I was obliged to leave my farm.

William Ross, sworn - I was assigned to Mr. Jacques, and was on his premises the day his house was attacked; Long Dick, John Jones, Abraham and Gibber Paddy, were all there; I asked then what they were destroying the house and stealing the furniture for, and they told me they had right to steal what they thought proper; I saw some of my master's shirts on John Jones, and I saw Gibber Paddy take some of them away; I can swear all the prisoners at the bar were there; I got wounded in the left side by a spear; it was not a dangerous wound, the spear was not jagged; Long Dick is a knowing cove, and pretends not to understand English, but he can speak it well enough to make an Englishman understand him.

Jack Jones held a conversation with this witness in tolerably good English, and threatened him if ever he caught him in the bush again; they all acknowledged to knowing this witness.

Examined by the Court - I have cut off pieces of spear three inches long from the bullocks in one day, that the aborigines have endeavoured to kill; they do kill bulocks [sic] and eat them; my master has had many losses in his cattle.

Mr. Threlkeld, sworn - I believe the aborigines are capable of reasoning, and knowing wrong from right; and I believe they commit robberies and depredations from sheer wickenness [sic]; I don't think they have any idea of any responsibility hereafter although they appear to have an idea of hereafter; I have never converted any of them yet, not being sufficiently versed in the language; they have some sense of being above, but I know not what  they suppose that being to be.

This closed the case for the prosecution.

His Honor then amply detailed the evidence to the jury, who, after retiring about five minutes, returned a verdict of Guilty against all the prisoners.  They were remanded.[ 2]

 

Notes

[ 1] See also Australian, 19 May 1835.  For commentary, see Sydney Gazette, 14 May 1835.

For other cases concerning Aborigines in this period, see also R. v. Mickey and Muscle, 1835;R. v. Lego'me, 1835; R. v Monkey and others, 1835.

[ 2] They were all sentenced to death recorded: Sydney Herald, 18 May 1835; Sydney Gazette, 19 May 1835. Death recorded meant a formal sentence of death, without an intention that the sentence would be carried out.  Under (1823) 4 Geo. IV c. 48, s. 1, except in cases of murder, the judge had considerable discretion where an offender was convicted of a felony punishable by death.  If the judge thought that the circumstances made the offender fit for the exercise of Royal mercy, then instead of sentencing the offender to death, he could order that judgment of death be recorded.  The effect was the same as if judgment of death had been ordered, and the offender reprieved (s. 2).

At least one colonist wrote in support of the Aborigines over these attacks at Brisbane Water: see the reply by the Australian, 3 July 1835.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University