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

McLoughlan v. Jones [1840] NSWSupC 51

common money counts, set off, arbitration, employment, indentured, Hunter River

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Willis J., 22 September 1840

Source: Australian, 24 September 1840[1]

TUESDAY. - Before his Honour Mr. Justice Willis and assessors.

            McLoughlan v. Jones - This was an action brought by the plaintiff, Donald McLaughlan, against the defendant, Richard Jones, Esq., M. C., to recover damages due to him as defendant's overseer, at Hunter's River, from the year 1834 to 1837, and money paid on account of the said defendant, to discharge several dishonoured orders given on him by the plaintiff for work and labour performed on the farm by various persons in the erection of buildings, cutting sawed stuff, and other agricultural purposes. Damages were laid at £10,000. The defendant pleaded the general issue, and gave notice of set off.

            It appeared that the plaintiff came out to this Colony in the same ship with the defendant, as overseer to Mr. Potter Macqueen, and had charge of some sheep belonging to the defendant. He had discharged his trust so faithfully, in both instances, that on the expiration of his indentures to Mr. Potter Macqueen he was engaged by the defendant as his principal overseer over his various farms and stock-stations at Hunter's River, Drayton, and Black Creek, and given unlimited authority to manage things to the best advantage after the death of defendant's brothe[sic], which was proved by letters from the defendant to that purport. In the year 1834 the plaintiff entered the defendant's service, and so unbounded was the mutual confidence between the parties, that they did not think it necessary to have their agreement reduced to writing; but the plaintiff had been in the habit of receiving £150 per annum. From the extensive superintendence the plaintiff had over so many stations at distances from each other, a large discretion was given him, and he had been in the habit of giving orders on the plaintiff for sums of money due to persons employed in agricultural works upon the various establishments, which were duly honoured by the defendant up to the year 1837, when he complained, for the first time, of the enormous expense incurred, and gave orders for the discharge of all the free workmen on the farm. At this period a number of masons, carpenters, sawyers, fencers, and splitters were engaged in the erection of some new buildings, and they were consequently discharged, with orders on the defendant for several amounts due to them, which being returned dishonoured, the plaintiff was compelled to liquidate out of his own pocket to the amount of upwards of £200, in small sums of from £6 to £8, all coming within the jurisdiction of the Court of Requests; therefore he sought for damages from the defendant.

The defendant was willing to refer all matters in dispute to the arbitration of Messrs. a'Beckett and Darvall, as he had a set off to the action, but the other side would only consent to refer the things in dispute in the present action, without reference to any other transaction. The case was, therefore, proceeded with, and the assessors returned a verdict for the plaintiff. Damages £220 6s. 6d.


[1]              See also Sydney Herald, 23 September 1840.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University