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Colonial Cases


The Sydney Gazette, Saturday 2 April 1803

On Monday last George Patterson (a labouring man), was picked up in the Back Row, apparently in a state of intoxication.  He was taken into a house and put to bed, but some hours after was found cold and lifeless.  On Tuesday an inquest was summoned, whose verdict was, DEATH in consequence of an apoplexy.


The Sydney Gazette, Sunday 10 April 1803

On Saturday the 2d inst. the Provost Marshal went with an inquest to Garden Island, in consequence of a Native being shot the preceding evening, while plundering the grounds of Captain Scott, at that place. After a very minute investigation of the circumstance and its antecedent cause, the Jury brought in a verdict "Justifiable Homicide."  The canoe of the deceased was found to be full of maize, melons, &c. taken out of the above grounds; and although several others had assisted in the depredation, yet upon the appearance of Captain Scott's servants, they leaped into the water, and got clear off.  It also appeared, we are sorry to say, that several white men were among the natives, who, there is every reason to suspect, had assisted and encouraged them in this delinquency, but who then also escaped apprehension.  A fishing-boat was found near to the native's canoe, which, as it appeared without an owner, was confiscated to the public use.  Some of the natives have since named the white men, who assisted them in the maraud; and although such evidence may not be resorted to, yet the police are determined to use every vigilant exertion to bring them to justice, upon the first misdemeanor in which they may hereafter be implicated.


The Sydney Gazette, Sunday 21 August 1803


On Monday morning last, between seven and eight o'clock, the body of Andrew Kenelly, private in the New South Wales Corps, was found suspended and lifeless.  The unfortunate Man had first attempted to effect the crime of suicide by stabbing himself Twice.  He left a Letter for a Comrade in which he declared himself accessary to a false accusation of the Deputy Commissary's, malversation of the King's Stores, and implicated John Thorogood, who was consequently taken into custody.  On Tuesday an examination took place on Thorogood, before the Judge Advocate and several Magistrates, when Charles Cathcart, a private Soldier, declared that he was intimately acquainted with the deceased, and verily believed that the rash and fatal step he had taken proceeded from a mental derangement, under which he has every reason to suppose he had unfortunately laboured.  James Harris, private Soldier, also gave evidence to the same effect, but nothing then appeared in support of the charge upon which Thorogood was examined.  The prisoner was ordereed to rewmain in custody.  The Coroner's Inquest brought in a verdict of Lunacy.


The Sydney Gazette, Sunday 28 August 1803


   JOSEPH LUKER, a Constable, whose time of duty commenced at twelve o'clock, went off his post, as is conjectured, at or rather before day-light, with a design of examining the brush behind back Row; but was shortly afterwards found on the edge of the Road leading to Farm Cove, a breathless Corpse, shockingly mangled, and with the guard of his cutlass buried in his brain; the sheath lay near the body, and his hat more than 20 yards distant.  The wheel of a barrow was found near the spot, the carriage of which was traced to the yard of Sarah Laurence, at the opposite corner of Back Row, whose Sklling was inhabited by persons on whom suspicion of the Robbery had fallen.  The carriage of the Barrow appeared to be stained with blood; from which, and other circumstances, William Bladders, alias Hambridge, was immediately apprehended, with several other suspected persons.

   The velocity with which the necessary measures of Enquiry were adopted, could only be equaled by the Public Anxiety to discover the Perpetrators of the unhuman act.  The New South Wales Corps were out under Arms, and blockaded the Town at every avenue, while the strictest search was made throughout; and all persons of suspicious character were thereby secured, and brought before the Coroner's Inquest, which assembled between the hours of nine and ten.  John Harris, Esq. Surgeon of the New South Wales Corps, strictly attended the Enquiry, and inspected the Body; as did also Thomas Jamison, Esq. Surgeon General, and Messrs. Mileham and Savage, Assistant Surgeons to the Colony.

   On the head of the deceased were counted Sixteen Stabs and Contusions; the left ear was nearly divided; on the left side of the head were four wounds, and several others on the back of it.  The wretch who buried the iron guard of the cutlass in the head of the unfortunate man had seized the weapon by the blade, and levelled the dreadful blow with such fatal force, as to rivet the plate in the skull, to a depth of more than an inch and a half.

   The Search was animated by the Presence of HIS EXCELLENCY; the LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR was also present; [???] every Officer, whether Civil or Military, exerted himself in endeavoring to trace the Assassins.

   The Coroner's Inquest, was was composed of Twelve very respectable Inhabitants, after an Enquiry of Five Hours, returned a verdict of WILFUL MURDER against William Bladders, alias Hambridge, and some other Person or Persons unknown.  The prisoner was consequently committed to close Custody, and several others were detained on suspicion. [Continues.]


The Sydney Gazette, Sunday 25 September 1803


This morning the Court assembled again, (as per adjournment) and proceeded to the Trial of Wm. Bladders alias Embridge, and Isaac Simmonds, for the wilful Murder of Joseph Luker, on the morning of the 26th of August last.

   JOHN HARRIS, ESQ. gave evidence as a Surgeon respecting the condition of the body of the deceased when he saw it, and declared his opinion that the wounds he received on the head had occasioned his death.

   The prisoner Bladders Mr. Harris declared he saw at the Inquest held on the body, and that marks of blood were visible on his legs, feet, and hat, as if they issued from an artery or vein; these appearances he had endeavoured to account for as being produced by fleas and scratches, but when Mr. Bloodworth in Mr. Harris's presence, wiped off part of the stains no marks whatever remained; his shoes were free of blood, but several spots were visible on his feet, with which sand was intermixed.  The prisoner did not offer to account for these various spots until a bye-stander reminded him of assisting to slaughter a pig that morning, and seemed when in custody shortly after the fact, very much agitated.

   THOS. JAMISON, Esq., Surgeon General, gave evidence to the same effect, adding, that on the frame of a barrow found in the yard of Sarah Lawrence, opposite the Skilling in which the prisoner lived, some marks of blood were obvious.

   Mr. Bloodworth, one of the Inquest, being duly sworn, deposed that on the legs of the prisoner a quantity of blood was visible, for which he accounted for as above.  The frame of the barrow the witness declared to be marked with blood, the wheel was not on the barrow, but was then in the yard, and acknowledged to belong to it.

   Mr. Mann being sworn deposed, that at half past 5 in the morning of the 26th of August, he saw the body of the deceased, which was then perfectly warm, and his wounds fresh bleeding.  He heard the prisoner Simmonds declare that if he, the deponent would be answerable for the payment of 100l. Reward, he would be bound the whole affair would come to light.

   Mr. Smyth deposed, that he saw the wheel of a barrow near the place where the murdered body lay, and that the body of the barrow was afterwards found by the door of the skilling in which Bladders had that night lain; that he apprehended the prisoner, who appeared agitated.

   Henry King also deposed, that he had heard the prisoner Simmonds declare, that if 100l. Reward were offered he would be answerable the Murder would be found out.

   Christopher Ward deposed, that he slept on the night of the 25th of August, in the skilling of Saran Lawrence, in which Bladders also lay; and that Bladders did not go out until after drum beat the next morning.

   John Ward's testimony was to the same effect.

   John Archer deposed, that at Reveille-beat he heard a voice exclaim in a lamentable tone Lord! Lord! but supposing it to be some person calling to the miller, he took no further notice of it.

   Rd. Jackson deposed, that himself and Simmonds were called up that morning at a much earlier hour than usual by Simmonds.

   Mr. Redman, Chief Constable, deposed, that Simmonds had gone off the watch at 12 o'clock, and should have relieved another watchman at 6 the same morning, but that it is unusual for the morning relief to be made before 7; that the desk found belonging to Mary Breeze had been placed under his care by order of the Lieutenant Governor, and that Simmonds attempted to rub off several spots of blood that appeared on it.

   Wm. Biggs gave testimony to the same effect.

   Wm. Evans deposed, that on the 31st of August he searched the house of Isaac Simmonds, where he found a shirt and handkerchiefs stained with blood, and this was corroborated by the testimony of Edw. Quin.

   The evidence for the Crown closed, and the prisoners entered on their defence.

   Bladders declared that when apprehended and challenged with the murder, he was agitated.  From the time of his rising to that of his apprehension he accounted for, and particularly remarked on the testimony of John Archer, which said that during the Reveille-beat he heard an exclamation which might be reasonably supposed to proceed from the deceased.  This he compared with the evidence of Christopher and John Ward, who both deposed that at the drum-beat he was in bed, and did not go out until after it had ceased.  The manner in which the spots of blood came on his legs and feet he accounted for as having that morning  held a pig while it was killed, which he afterwards helped to dress; to support which he called several witnesses, who deposed, that he was at Mr. Lord's a little after 6 o'clock, where he held a pig, and after it was killed assisted to hang it up; one of the witnesses positively declared that the prisoner's shoes were off at the time, and that he, the deponent, held a bason to receive the blood, a great deal of which was spilt.

   Simmonds declared his innocence, and said that his nose had long been habituated to bleed, whereby the handkerchiefs had become stained, and the spots on his shirt must have proceeded from a fish he had cleaned, or a duck stolen by Samuels, which he had killed.  The Court cleared and in a few minutes returned a Verdict---Not Guilty.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School