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Decisions of the Nineteenth Century Tasmanian Superior Courts

Macarty v. Gregson [1830]

work and labour, payment in kind

Supreme Court of Van Diemen's Land
Pedder C.J., 11 August 1830
Source: Colonial Times, 13 August 1830 [1]

Assessors - J. H. Moore and W. Sorell, Esquires.

This was an action brought by a labouring man to recover from Mr. Gregson, the late wood contractor for Government, the sum of £16, being the balance of account for cutting 437 loads of fire-wood. This trial occupied the court from 11 o'clock in the morning till 8 in the evening. Counsel for plaintiff - Mr. Gellibrand, for defendant -- Mr. Solicitor-General Stephen. An idea of the circumstances of the case may be formed from the following extract from the evidence adduced on the trial:--
James Tolman - I was Mr. Gregson's overseer; he had the Government contract for wood last year; I employed plaintiff for Mr. Gregson, to cut dry she-oak at 15d. per ton, in pieces of 3 feet in length; Macarty cut the wood under my directions; I kept an account of all the wood that was cut while I was at Mr. Gregson's; it is common to engage with one man for a job of work to be done, and for that man to be responsible to any others assisting him, but I did not make such a contract with Macarty; I remained at Risdon from the beginning of the contract to the 2th of June; Mr. Gregson then took charge himself; there was an account of the wood cut rendered by me to Mr. Gregson, thinks there was about 300 loads.
Cross-examined - The 300 loads I consider only equal to about 200 tons - 12 cwt. is a very good load; I had often reason to complain of the wood cut by Macarty - it was rotten stuff, and longer than 3 feet; there were four men cutting for three weeks, and the plaintiff and another continued a fortnight longer; when the roads were good I took loads as tons; I settled with plaintiff and the three others up to the 6th April, on that day, deducting for the provisions they had had; had no settlement with them after the 6th April.
Re-examined - I do not know of any wood having been drawn down to the jetty and refused by the boatmen, of which the defendant had not the benefit; I charged them for the provisions when I settled with them, mutton 2½d. per lb., flour 2½ per lb., sugar 6d per lb., tea 3s. 6d. per lb., and tobacco I think 5s.; Mr. Gregson has since charged the same mutton at 3d., flour at 3d., and the sugar at 7d. per lb; I agreed with the men that 1s 3d. should be paid them per load; up to the 6th April the whole (164 loads) was settled for at the price which I agreed with them.
John Wilson - Was with Macarty when he presented his account to Mr. Gregson; saw the account; heard defendant say he had no money, but if he called in a day or two he would settle it.
Mr. Solicitor-General Stephen for the defence called several witnesses, but they proved nothing more than what was either willingly admitted by the plaintiff, or appeared from the evidence of his witnesses.
At 7 o'clock the Judge and Assessors retired. On their return a verdict was given for the plaintiff - damages £6 1s. 2d.


[1] AOT SC 139/1, p. 75 gives the parties as John McCartney (not Macarty) and Thomas George Gregson.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University and the School of History and Classics, University of Tasmania