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Colonial Cases


Sydney Gazette, Sunday. II/98: 13 Jan 1805/2a

ACCIDENT.   A shocking accident happened at Richmond Hill, to Mr. FAITHFUL, settler at that place, the consequences of which it is apprehended, will be fatal to him.  In examining one of his ricks from which the end of a pitchfork projected, it unfortunately escaped his notice, and he fell upon it, the prongs entering the lower part of the belly, and passing upwards through his right side.


Sydney Gazette. II/100: 27 Jan 1805/3c  

Last Thursday a child [MARTHA MAY] about four years old was so dreadfully burnt at Parramatta, in consequence of her clothes taking fire, as to occasion the death of the unhappy infant, after five hours inconceivable torture.


Sydney Gazette. II/103: 17 Feb 1805/2b  

SARAH BIDDLESTONE [buried 11 Feb as SARAH BIGGLESTONE], a poor woman, was on Sunday last delivered of a very fine infant, but unhappily expired shortly after.  It was the will of Providence, however, that the infant should survive the melancholy circumstances of its birth; and every necessary attention is paid to the little survivor, who unconscious of its own affliction, prefers a claim to public liberality and protection.

3a  mention of a tombstone for the snake bite child.


Sydney Gazette. III/117: 26 May 1805/3a 

During the night of Wednesday last a fine boy, son of KATHARINE KENING, on the Rocks died without previous ailment, having gone to bed apparently in good health.


Sydney Gazette. III/118: 2 Jun 1805/2b & c 

ACCIDENTAL DEATH.  On Wednesday se'nnight WM STUBBS, a settler on the river Hawkesbury, was unfortunately drowned in crossing that river in a canoe; a second person was accompanying him, and when in about the center the vehicle unexpectedly upset, and the above unfortunate man depending on his ability to swim on shore, advised his companion not to quit the boat, as it would be sure to drift on the banks.  He did so, and saved his life, and Mr. Stubbs, after very nearly gaining the shore, unfortunately became entangled among a clutter of reeds, from which unable to extricate himself, it was his fate to perish in the presence of his children, who witnessed the melancholy disaster from the bank.  The accident is the more afflicting, as the deceased leaves a widow and large family to deplore his untimely fate; the circumstances that led to which still heighten the calamity.  The house was the day before surrounded by natives, at which appearance Mrs. Stubbs being excessively alarmed, she fled towards the river side, and would have precipitated herself into the stream, had she not been prevented by assurances from one of the natives that she or her infants should not be harmed.  They afterwards gutted the house of its whole contents, and retreated with the plunder, and as soon as the deceased was made acquainted with what had happened, were closely pursued towards the Mountains, but in vain, as no single article of the property was recovered.  As not a requisite to comfort remained to the family, Mrs. Stubbs set out that night for Parramatta, in order to procure a few requisites more immediately wanting; and during her absence the unfortunate event of her husband's death took place.

   In addition to the lamentable circumstances that tend to multiply embarrassment upon the above unfortunate family, we have feelingly to mention, that within the space of twelve months they have been four times bitterly distressed by hostile natives, who have at either time stripped them of domestic comforts or "swept their fields before them."  The poor child who sadly witnessed the dying struggles of an unfortunate parent is a fine boy, nearly eight years old; and eldest of four helpless orphans in the dispensation of the Divine Will left to deplore a father's loss.  For poignant afflictions, happy for the fortunate, Heaven still provides by bestowing its bounties upon some among the many, who by the most delightful application give testimony, that all Mankind are not insensible of what they owe Providence, and when distress like this presents her claim to sensibility, generously step forward to discharge the debt.


Sydney Gazette; 2 Jun 1805/3b 

On Monday night last WM JOHNSON [buried as SAMUEL JOHNSON on 28 May], a seaman belonging to the American ship Favorite, died suddenly on shore, owing to the fracture of a blood-vessel, occasioned by a cough.


Sydney Gazette; 2 Jun 1805/4c 

Yesterday at 12 o'clock an account was received of a dead body being floated up by the tide at Double Bay near Woolloomoolla; in consequence of which the Provost Marshall as Coroner was directed to investigate the causes of death.  A Jury was accordingly summoned, and went by water to the spot; when, from the putrid state of the body, which was naked, it was concluded the deceased had perished accidentally, and a Verdict to that effect was accordingly returned.


Sydney Gazette; III/120: 16 Jun 1805/2b & c 

On Tuesday a Coroner's Inquest was held on the body of THOMAS DICK, who had been absent from his house near the burial-ground from some part of Sunday night.  The body was found by research in Cockle Bay on Tuesday, owing to a dog belonging to the deceased hovering about the spot where his unfortunate master lay, covered by the tide at low water.  Besides several bruises about the body, the deceased had received a blow, apparently with an axe helve or similar implement, on the back of the head by which the skull was laid open.  Several persons were examined by the Coroner, and after an investigation of many hours, the Jury returned a Verdict - Wilful Murder, against some person or persons unknown.  The poor man got his livelihood by tending horned cattle for several private inhabitants, and being careful of his little earnings was conjectured to be possessed on money, which he carried about him, and which it is concluded stimulated his murderers to the abominable act.  [Buried 12 June.]


Sydney Gazette; 16 Jun 1805/4a  

A person (whose name upon so serious an occasion it might at present be considered imprudent to make public) from some circumstances rather interesting, apprehended in consequence of the Murder of Thomas Dick, whose melancholy fate is made mention of in the second page of this paper, was liberated upon the condition of his re-appearing when called upon, Much to the credit of the persons who sat upon the Coroner's Inquest, they have generally and individually exerted themselves in aid of the Police, to bring to light the circumstances attending this horrible transaction, which, though they at present appear to be enveloped in mystery, will, it is sincerely hoped, be ultimately unravelled to the confusion and ignominy of the perfidious offenders.  Horror increases on the reflection, that the unhappy object of their barbarity was old, feeble, and defenceless; a useful member of society because he was industrious, harmless, and inoffensive.  A hat, not supposed to belong to the deceased, was found between his residence and the place where the body lay, but no owner to it has yet been traced; he was possessed of a metal watch, which he usually wore, as it was useful to his occupation; and this was taken from him, with every other article of the most trifling value.  The body was interred the following day at the expence of a few of his friends in a decent manner; and humble although his circumstances during the latter part of his life had been, yet report declares him to have been of very respectable parents, his friends residing in the City of Edinburgh, of which he was himself a native.


Sydney Gazette; III/124:14 Jul 1805/4a  

On Friday last the following distressing accident occurred upon the Rocks; ...  a fine boy nearly four years of age, son of ESTHER SMITH, was between 8 and 9 in the morning left in the house with another about the same age; and playing near the fire was supposed to have been pushed into it.  The screams of the infant brought a passenger to its assistance, who found the whole of its clothes consumed, and the poor child burnt in a most dreadful manner from head to foot.  A Medical Gentleman from the General Hospital immediately attending, used every exertion to alleviate its anguish, which the unfortunate little sufferer endured with extraordinary patience until four yesterday morning when its agonies ceased for ever...... Many accidents of this kind have taken place, but never was a more doleful spectacle witnessed than the above; and pity it is but some mode of prevention could be generally adopted; as it is almost miraculous that events of this kind are not still more frequent than they are.


Sydney Gazette; III/125: 21 Jul 1805/2a  

Last Wednesday a free labourer whose name was [JOHN] GREENWAY fell over Toongabbee Bridge, and was suffocated.  He was said to be extremely intoxicated when the accident happened.  [Buried 20 July.]


Sydney Gazette; III/127: 4 Aug 1805/2a  

Last Friday G. BLAXCELL Esq. as Coroner, convened an inquest upon the body of Mr. HUMPHREY EVANS Settler of Seven Hills, who died the evening before in consequence of a tree striking him in its fall, The Jury returned a verdict of accidental death. - The deceased leaves a widow and two children to bemoan his unexpected loss, and was universally respected throughout his neighbourhood.  On the Inquest it appeared, that at four in the afternoon  of the preceding day he had gone out to procure paling for a stye; but not returning when expected, his wife expressed much anxiety, and at dusk dispatched a man in search of him, but he returning without any tidings of his master, his mistress directed him to accompany her, and after a long research discovered the unfortunate object of her anxiety outstretched, and across his breast a heavy oak tree which he himself had fallen. [Buried 3 Aug.]


Sydney Gazette; III/130: 25 Aug 1805/1c 

On Friday morning JOHN RANDALL [ALIAS SAMUEL SANDALL], a labouring man, was found dead of an apoplexy near Parramatta.  Buried 25 Aug.]


Sydney Gazette; 25 Aug 1805/2a 

On Wednesday SAMUEL BLAKELY was crushed to death by the wheel of a timber carriage, which overset.  The unfortunate man was employed at the carriage; and taken suddenly ill, chose to ride in. When at Goose Farm one of the wheels was stopped suddenly by a stump, and the oxen still going forward the carriage tilted, the poor fellow was thrown out, and the wheel pitched on his head and breast.  He lived some minutes after, and then expired in excruciating pain.  The same day an Inquest was summoned by G. BLAXCELL Esq. Coroner; and the day following the body was interred by an acquaintance in a manner that reflects credit to his friendship and liberality.  The deceased was a native of Birmingham, where he left a small family to whom it was his intention shortly to return.  His conduct was appropriate and obtained to him respect and confidence.  [Buried 23 Aug.]


Sydney Gazette; III/131: 1 Sep 1805/2a  

On Thursday evening report was made in town that a man named WM [also JOHN] BRACKEN lay dead at a farm near town; in consequence of which a Coroner's Inquest was summoned, and took a review of the body between 8 and 9 in the evening; - their Verdict declared the demise to have proceeded from a long bodily illness.  The body was directed to be removed to the General Hospital, from whence the interment took place on Friday.  The deceased was a free man, and had some time before been employed in the charge of stock; but in consequence of severe illness quitting his situation, at length fell victim to a severe dysentery.

   The name of the man mentioned last week to have been found dead of an apoplexy near Parramatta was SANDAL not RANDALL, as stated in the account.  He had in the forenoon gone into the brush for fuel; and in the afternoon was discovered by two persons led thither upon a similar errand, who at going observed a dog attentively stationed at a particular spot; and upon their return again observing the animal, examined and found the body.


Sydney Gazette; III/133: 15 Sep 1805/2a 

On Friday morning last a Coroner's Inquest was held upon the body of an infant that had died during the night, supposed to be overlaid - verdict Accidental Death.   [ELIZA MITCHELL, buried 12 Sep.]


Sydney Gazette; III/134: 22 Sep 1805/3a 

WILLIAM MILLER was taken into custody on Wednesday last at Hawkesbury for the Wilful Murder of BRIDGET HORAN, by cleaving her head open with a hoe.  Shortly after the perpetration of the barbarous act, the prisoner rendered himself to the custody of a constable, was taken before THOMAS ARNDELL, Esq. and by that Gentleman committed to the county gaol, wherein he was lodged on Friday;


BENCH OF MAGISTRATES.  Saturday, Sept. 21.  WILLIAM MILLER, for the wilful murder of BRIDGET HORAN, was likewise brought before the Bench, and did not hesitate to declare the fact.


Sydney Gazette; III/135: 29 Sep1805/2a 

COURT OF CRIMINAL JURISDICTION.  On Friday morning, the Court assembled, and proceeded to the trial of WILLIAM MILLER, labourer, for the WILFUL MURDER of BRIDGET KEAN, in the afternoon of the 18th of September, at Hawkesbury.  When commanded to plead to the indictment the prisoner answered "Not guilty of the crime wilfully;" and evidence was then called.

   SIMON LUDDITT deposed, that about 2 in the afternoon of the above day he observed the prisoner running towards him in great haste; that he asked him if any thing was amiss? & was answered "Yes: I have killed Biddy, & am going to deliver myself up;" that the deponent offered to and did accompany him to the Green Hills, where he declared his crime to Mr. Andrew Thompson, chief constable who, joined by the residentiary Magistrate, went to the place where the deceased lay, and sought in vain for the body until the prisoner, then in charge, arrived and instantly put a period to the search by discovery with its unfortunate object, a spectacle the most shocking; that upon approaching the body, a hoe was found within a few inches of the head, fragments of which were then adhering to it, and the dreadful instrument much stained with blood, the prisoner having previously confessed that he had buried the eye of the hoe within the head.  The deponent to an interrogatory further said, that he was by trade a smith, and that he had himself made the implement for the prisoner and knew it to be his property.

   Other evidence corroborating the foregoing being gone through, the prisoner was called upon for whatsoever he might have to advance in his defence; but contented himself with saying, that what he had done proceeded not from malevolent pre-intention, but from an unbridled momentary rage.

   The Court cleared, and after a short deliberation returned a Verdict Guilty

The JUDGE ADVOCATE expatiated on the heinous and barbarous nature of the offence, and enjoined the criminal to devote the little interval allowed him for repentance to the only hope that remained him - of suing for remission of his transgressions when arrived at that great Tribunal, before which, even upon his own acknowledgement, he had iniquitously sent an unfortunate fellow-creature, from her sex naturally helpless and incapable of resisting an inhuman assault for which not even the smallest provocation had appeared, with all her crimes on her head!  The Sentence of Condemnation was then passed: and the prisoner returned to close confinement.


Sydney Gazette; III/136: 6 Oct 1805/2a  

On Monday morning the sentence of the law was executed on the criminal condemned the Friday before for the detestible crime of murder, and after the body had remained the usual time suspended, it was given for dissection.  The unhappy criminal had from the instant of resigning himself to justice behaved in a manner becoming his situation, and in his latter moments appeared to have sincerely benefitted from a true repentance.  It would appear also, that from the fatal moment which consigned him to the terrible reproach of conscience, he entertained no other wish than to atone for his offence by yielding blood for blood: the emotion that choaked his utterance at the bar of justice; his acquiescence and passive acknowledgment of the facts upon which he was condemned, and his resignation at the approach of the awful crisis that was to usher him into eternity, were combined in testimony that life was no longer desirable, and no more to be endured when the pious duties of the Minister were ended, he ascended the vehicle placed to receive him, and without speaking, was launched off.  However by an unbridled and horrible impulse this unfortunate man may have been hurried into the blackest of crimes, yet his conduct prior to the event was fair and uniformly commendable; his age was 23 years; and by his account of himself he was a native of Derbyshire, and of honest and reputable parentage.


Sydney Gazette; III/140: 3 Nov 1805/2b 

A fine boy seven years of age, son [THOMAS] of CHAS. COOPER, was drowned on Tuesday at Parramatta while bathing.  [Buried 30 Oct.]


Sydney Gazette; III/141: 10 Nov 1805/1c  

A fine boy 18 months old, son of CATHARINE BRANNAN of Parramatta, was on Thursday last so dreadfully scalded, that the life of the little unfortunate was utterly despaired of, notwithstanding every aid afforded by the resident Medical Gentleman.  The accident was in consequence of a large culinary vessel of boiling water being left on the floor uncovered, into which the ill-fated infant unhappily stumbled.  [Possibly BARNABY BRANNON buried 16 Feb 1806.]

10 Nov 1805/2a   On Tuesday evening a small boat in which four men imprudently attempted to cross George's River, sunk in about the center, and two of the people named  DELL and RACEY were unfortunately drowned. 


Sydney Gazette; III/143: 24 Nov 1805/1c 

Confession, later retracted, of the murder of THOS DICK  by a MATTHEW LEE.

24 Nov 1805/2a   On Wednesday the infant son of CATHARINE BRANNAN died in extreme anguish at Parramatta, owing to a severe scald of which we before unfortunately had occasion to take notice.


Sydney Gazette; III/145: 8 Dec 1805/1b 

A fine boy between three and four years old died on Sunday night last, in consequence of his getting access to a bottle of spirits unperceived, of which he drank so great a quantity as to throw him into immediate stupor, which was succeeded by violent convulsions; and after continuing in this doleful condition upwards of two days, fell a victim to the imprudence of those who permitted the liquor to remain within his reach.

8 Dec 1895/1c   On Thursday a Coroner's Inquest assembled at Hawkesbury on the body of  WILLIAM YARDLEY, a settler down the river, whose death was occasioned by the following melancholy circumstances: A considerable time after himself and family were in bed on Wednesday night, the house took fire, and burned with such rapidity as o render their escape difficult: he succeed nevertheless, with his wife's assistance, in snatching his children from the flames, and then unhappily returned to save some little cloathing, but the roof falling in, he perished in the attempt.  The body of the deceased presented a ghastly spectacle to the jurors, whose verdict was appropriate to the event.


Sydney Gazette; III/147: 22 Dec 1805/2b 

An infant 9 months old was on Thursday scalded in a dreadful manner in the Back Row East, owing to a large vessel of boiling water being set by its cradle, into which the little creature unhappily pitched headforemost.

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