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

In re Brown [1840] NSWSupC 53

insolvency, imprisonment for debt, strike, judicial attitude to

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Stephen J., 25 September 1840

Source: Sydney Herald, 28 September 1840

The first who obtained his discharge was a genteel dressed person named Charles Brown, a journeyman tailor, who had arrived in the colony under an agreement with Mr. Melzier of George-street.  Brown had been incarcerated for about five weeks by one Patrick Barron, for the sum of £2 15s, which the insolvent had repeatedly offered to liquidate at five shillings per week, but the creditor had, according to the insolvent's deposition refused to receive any thing less than the whole amount of his claim.  The insolvent also swore, that he had since his incarceration sent his wife with one pound to the creditor as part payment in order to obtain his liberation, but Barton had said, that he would keep him in gaol for six months before he allowed him to get clear.  The Judge enquired if the debtor was one of the parties concerned in the strike for wages?  In answer to which the insolvent deposed that he was, but had not lost any thing by doing so, as he had made as much by job work during the time of the strike, as he would have earned by working for a master.  Judge Stephen said he wished it to be made known to all, that if any insolvent came before him, who had been concerned in the system of striking for wages, he would certainly exercise the authority vested in him to punish those parties by remanding them.  As the insolvent then before the court had made an offer of payment, and had also shown that he was still willing to pay, he should discharge him, but at the same time, had to inform him, that if he had any intention of keeping an honest character, he would pay his creditor the sum of 5s. per week, until the debt was liquidated.  The insolvent swore that he was about £50 in debt, £30 of which was passage money, which he, while in Mr. Malzier's employment, had been reducing by weekly payments from his earnings which amounted to from £2. 10s. per week, out of which he was paying 16s. per week for rent, with from 25 to 30s. per week to liquidate his debts.  This insolvent being unopposed, was discharged.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University