Skip to Content

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

R. v. Sam and others [1852] NSWSupCMB 15

Chinese defendants - assault, shooting - master and servants law

Supreme Court of New South Wales, Moreton Bay

Stephen C.J., 24 May 1852

Source: Moreton Bay Courier, 29 May 1852, p. 4


Sam, Jonny, and Mickey, Chinese, had been committed for shooting at one Michael Robinson.

His Honour the Chief Justice said that from the depositions it appeared that the prisoners had complained of the quality of their meat, and that the overseer struck one of the Chinamen. Then it appeared suddenly that the whites took guns and the Chinamen then got theirs, and cried out "come on." There was firing on both sides, and apparently a regular battle. The witnesses now were not present to give evidence, and no communication had been received from them, but it was reported that they were sick. Under these circumstances it was proposed to release the prisoners on their own recognizances, to appear next Assizes.

It had, however, been suggested that the men would be unable to get employment, because they had not a discharge from their employers; but it appeared to him to be a strange case if these poor men---whom the Attorney-General of the colony was willing to release from prison until their trial should come on in six months' time, should be unable to get their livelihood for want of a discharge from their master. As to returning to his employ at present, it appeared to him that it would be highly imprudent in the employer to desire it.

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL said, that under the Masters' and Servants' Act an information might be laid against any person employing them; but he did think that the situation of the men should prevent any such step being taken.

His HONOUR said that he was not sufficiently acquainted with the Act to speak confidently, but supposing that its provisions on this head were properly construed, he could scarcely suppose that any advantage would be taken of the circumstances of these men. Probably the notice taken of the matter would prevent that. The prisoners were then released on their own recognizances, His Honor advising them, through the interpreter, to remain and employ themselves in the neighbourhood of Brisbane.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University