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

R. v. Catterall, 1837

criminal procedure, military defendants in crime, Governor's Aide de Camp

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Dowling A.C.J., and Burton and Kinchela JJ, 21 October 1837

Source: Sydney Herald, 26 October 1837[1 ]

The Attorney General moved the Court for a rule calling on Mr. Joseph Catterall to shew cause why a criminal information should not be filed against him for attempting to incite Captain Adams, 28th Regiment to commit a breach of the peace.  From the affidavit of Captain Adams, it appeared that in June last he was acting as Aid-de-camp to the Governor, when Mr. Catterall called, and wished to see the Governor, when Captain Adams informed Mr. Catterall that His Excellency being at Counsil could not be seen; Mr. Catterall made two subsequent calls with the same effect.  Two months after this Mr. Catterall fancied that Captain Adams had some private motive in keeping him from having an interview with the Governor, and wrote to Captain Adams to that effect.  Of this communication Captain Adams took no notice, when he received a very angry letter and a correspondence ensued, which ended in Mr. Catterall posting placards about Parramatta, designating Captain Adams a `mean despicable coward."  The Court granted the rule, and Judge Dowling said he would advise Mr. Catterall to set himself right outside.


Dowling A.C.J., and Burton and Kinchela JJ, 28 October 1837

Source: Sydney Herald, 2 November 1837[ 2]

Ex-parte Adams. - In this case a rule nisi had been obtained, calling on a gentleman named Catterall to shew cause why a criminal information should not be filed against him for attempting to incite Captain Adams, of H. M. 28th Regiment, to commit a breach of the peace.  Mr. Foster now appeared to show cause; from the affidavit of Mr. Catterall it appeared that he applied on three successive days at Government House to see the Governor, but was refused an interview by the applicant, who was at that period Ade-de-Camp to the Governor, and that from the circumstance of Mrs. Catterall having committed a disgusting act of adultery with an officer of the 28th Regiment (among a plurality of adulteries), and the officer having said that if it came to the ears of the Governor he should be ruined, he imagined that the applicant might have been actuated by improper motives in depriving him of an interview with the Governor, a supposition which was strengthened by hearing that Mrs. Catterall had been repeatedly seen walking with Captain Adams, and on two occasions had entered his quarters, and in a conversation which she had with his solicitor respecting a legal separation, she said that Catterall had been to the Governor three times, but had not been able to obtain an interview, but immediately added it was not Captain Adams that told her; and this supposition was rendered a moral certainty when in an interview that that he had with the Governor, His Excellency expressed great surprise at hearing that he had been denied an interview three times, and stated that a letter which he (Mr. C.) left with Captain Adams for His Excellency had never reached him.  That upon the evening of this interview he wrote a civil polite letter to Captain Adams, requesting to be informed on what grounds he had denied him an interview with the Governor, and it was not until he received an insulting note from Captain Adams that he wrote anything that could in any way be considered offensive, and that he did not post him as a coward until he felt convinced that he was one.  Several affidavits corroborating Mr. Catterall as to the fact of Mrs. Catterall and Captain Adams having been seen walking together were read.  These affidavits, Mr. Foster contended, disclosed facts which showed that this was not a case calling for the interposition of the Court, but that the applicant should be sent to seek his remedy elsewhere.

The Court decided that the information must be granted.  The Attorney General wished to address the Court to rebut some of the insinuations in the affidavits; but as the rule was made absolute the Court would not hear him.


[1 ] See also Sydney Gazette, 24 October 1837.

[ 2] See also Sydney Gazette, 2 November 1837; Australian, 31 October 1837.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University