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Colonial Cases


SYDNEY GAZETTE, IV/201, 18 Jan 1807/1b

On Sunday last the body of an unfortunate woman that had been barbarously murdered was found in a ditch at Parramatta, with a sheet nearly covering her.  From the appearance of the body it was evident that the perpetrators had endeavoured to conceal their guilt by attempting to consume the unhappy object of their depravity; but failing therein, were afterwards instigated by an avenging spirit thus to dispose of the corps that the foul crime of murder might not go unpunished.  Upon surgical inspection several wounds were discovered on the head; while the attempt to consume the body had so totally disfigured it that it could not be recognized for many hours; till at length it proved to be that of MARY SMITH a decent inoffensive woman who had followed the avocation of an instructress on the Brickfield Hill, and had been induced the day before to visit Parramatta in the hope of recovering a property she had been robbed of some months before, without recourse to legal measures. - JOHN KENNY was the same day apprehended on suspicion; and being fully committed by the Coroner's Inquest, was received in the county gaol on Tuesday.

18 Jan 1807/2a  Court of Criminal Conviction: Notice of trial: JOHN KENNY.


SYDNEY GAZETTE, IV/202, 25 Jan 1807/ 2a,b & c.


On Thursday the Court met for the trial of John Kenny for the wilful murder of Mary Smith on the 10th day of January at Parramatta.

   Mr. Surgeon MILEHAM gave evidence, that upon examining the body of the deceased he found several wounds on the back of the head, but that the skull did not appear to have been fractured; that the body was much burnt; and he was certain such burning was the cause of death.

   James Phalan deposed, that the deceased left his house at Sydney on Saturday the 9th instant to go to Parramatta in quest of some articles she had been robbed of a short time before, suspecting that the prisoner at the bar was concerned therein, and intending in consequence to call on him in order to recover part of her property without resorting to harsher measures; that the deponent went with the deceased to the passage boat, that she then wore a gown the pattern of a piece now produced; and had a pair of leather shoes tied up in a handkerchief, those she wore being nankeen; that she had taken a parasol with her, and that her gown was buttoned at the wrist with a wire button covered with cloth of the gown pattern.  A wire produced in Court the deponent knew to be of the same size.

   Samuel Terry deposed to his having accompanied the deceased up to Parramatta in the boat, and was informed by her that she had been robbed and intended going to Hawkesbury after some of the things that had been taken from her:---That the deponent offered her a passage up in his cart, which was going from Parramatta to Hawkesbury next day, and requiring to know where she should be found she informed him that she intended to sleep either at the house of Margaret Rees or John Kenny, whom the deponent observing at his own gate he pointed out the house to her; and afterwards saw the prisoner advance and taking her cordially by the hand, lead her into his house; the deceased at parting having anxiously requested the deponent to call there for her the next morning, or at the house of Margaret Rees.  The deponent saw no more of her till the next morning, when among others he went to witness the horrible spectacle that the murdered body presented; when notwithstanding its being much disfigured by being burned, he soon conjectured it to be that of Mary Smith, then lying about a hundred yards from the prisoner's habitation.  The deponent said also that she had a parasol with her.

   Margaret Rees deposed, that on Saturday night the 9th instant the prisoner came to her house in company with the deceased, whom she requested to stay all night, but received for an answer that she thanked her, but intended to go home with the prisoner, and to sleep at his house, which he confirmed, and seemed very anxious to get her away.  Her motive for going there the unfortunate woman had explained to her by reciting the circumstances of the robbery, her suspicion of the prisoner, and in confirmation of that suspicion she informed her further, that she had seen the prisoner wear about his neck a hand kerchief which she knew to be party of her property: Upon which the deponent endeavoured to dissuade her from going with him, but she persisted in her determination, with a view of recovering more of her property.

   Eleanor Clavers deposed to having discovered the body, which was partly covered, of which she gave immediate information; this was upon Sunday the 11th.

   Mr. Surgeon WENTWORTH deposed that about 8 on Sunday morning he was informed by Mr. Oakes, chief constable at Parramatta, that a dead body had been found on or near his grounds, upon which he accompanied him to the place; that upon the earth being removed from off the covered part of the body it proved to be that of a woman, burnt and so much disfigured that none of the numerous persons assembled could call to recollection who she was until one of them mentioned that among the passengers arrived from Sydney in the boat the day before was a woman, that had gone to the house of Kenny, the prisoner, which was near at hand.  That Kenny, whose house was so close to the spot, should be almost the only one in the neighbourhood who was absent from the melancholy spectacle it struck the deponent's imagination with much force; he accordingly requested Mr. Hornby to walk with him towards the house, in the way to which was a ditch on the side of which were the evident traces of a man's foot ( proceeding towards where the body lay) that had slipped in ascending it, as it was rather steep; at the same place a quantity of blood was visible, and the footstep continued to the paling of the house which the prisoner inhabited in which was an opening; this was the more conspicuous as the ground had been recently broke up; that the door of the prisoner's hut being locked, he, the deponent, caused it to be opened, and on entering the apartment found it cleanly  swept, but in one corner some tinder was found, which proved to have been cotton cloth; that in a passage adjoining several spots of blood were visible, over which dirt had to all appearances recently been thrown; that a shirt was found in the house, detached parts of which had evidently been newly washed; and that the scraps of tinder found still retained the outlines of their original pattern, which corresponded with the gown found on the deceased; from the union of all which circumstances the deponent considered it necessary that the prisoner should be apprehended, which was accordingly done, he being then in church.

   Mr. Francis Oakes, Chief Constable, deposed, that having been informed of then murder he went to examine the house of the prisoner, where in addition to what had already been related by Mr. Wentworth he stated, that he discerned spots of blood extending in a direct line from the place where the body lay towards the prisoner's house, which he then searched, and in the fireplace of his sleeping room saw a great quantity of blood.  The deponent picked up several pieces of scorched leather about the room and passage, and a handkerchief stained with blood was also found in the bed-room; and in all other respects his testimony coincided with Mr. Wentworth's.

   Richard Partridge, who was present when the house was searched, recounted all that had been already stated; adding moreover, that the brass ring of a parasol was picked up on a dunghill close to the house, and that the prisoner acknowledged the handkerchief that was stained with blood to be his.

   The evidence closed here; and the prisoner being put on his defence, simply denied the charge.

   Upon such evidence as had appeared the Court with little hesitation found the prisoner Guilty; and the JUDGE ADVOCATE proceeded to pass sentence of condemnation.  He first apprised him that his situation was the most wretched and inconsolable to which all human nature could be reduced by any act of enormity; that upon testimony the clearest that the ends of justice could require, he had been convicted of mercilessly taking the life of a fellow creature, incapable of defending herself against the violence of an assailant from whose superior strength she could have no retreat:---That the crime of murder was equally detested and abhorred in every country; in whatsoever region tine perpetrator should have committed the offence, yet the aggression  was the same, an d could only be expiated by death.  By his crime he had violated the Laws of God! the Voice of Nature, Reason, and Mankind have ever demanded, "that whosoever sheddeth Man's blood, by Man shall his blood be shed."  In a c rime like this, then, so fraught with the most dreadful aggravation of a horrible offence, argued a disposition, savage, sanguinary, and unrelenting, and precluded him the pity it was not in his nature to bestow.  He had daringly presumed to torture & destroy a fellow creature; to send her, with all her crimes upon her head, before the Supreme tribunal, at which he was in turn devoted shortly to appear.

   Here the Judge Advocate pathetically admonished him to repentance, to implore forgiveness of the Great Avenger of Crimes, and to supplicate that his heart might be cleansed from the corruption that had seized upon its noblest faculties.  "Let not death," continued he, "prevent your grasping at the moments that remain to you to implore forgiveness, for great tho' your offences are yet Divine Mercy is superior.  May remorse of conscience awaken in your guilty breast an inclination to repentance; and may sincere contrition become the ground work of your future hope."  The Judge Advocate then pronounced the awful sentence, which doomed the culprit to die on Saturday.

   Pursuant to the sentence the culprit was executed yesterday; and the body having remained the usual time suspended, was sent to Parramatta to be hung in chains.


SYDNEY GAZETTE, IV/210, 21 Mar 1807/1c

On Tuesday an infant daughter of SARAH THOMAS unfortunately fell into the water at Lane Cove, and was drowned. - The day after an Inquest was taken on the body, whose verdict was Accidental Death.

   On Friday the infant son of Mr. SHELLY was scalded in so dreadful a manner as to endanger the life of the unfortunate little creature, now about three years old.


SYDNEY GAZETTE, IV/212, 5 Apr 1807/2a

On Sunday last an affray took place at Prospect, in which JAMES CORE received a fatal blow on the head with a stick.  Several persons were apprehended in consequence, and committed to the gaol at Parramatta.


SYDNEY GAZETTE, IV/214, 19 Apr 1807/2b

On Monday Mr. BROWN, a midshipman on board the Cornwallis, shot himself through the head in a fit of insanity, and immediately expired.  An inquest was the same day held on the body, whose verdict was descriptive of the unhappy state of mind under which the young Gentleman unfortunately laboured.

   On Thursday a labouring man who was employed in a brick ground at the Green Hills, Hawkesbury, was smothered by a quantity of earth unfortunately falling on him; and a servant of Mr. PALMER'S was yesterday drowned in the South Creek.


SYDNEY GAZETTE, V/215, 7 Jun 1807/2a, b & c


On Monday the 11th ultimo a Court of Criminal Jurisdiction assembled in Sydney, for the trial of offenders; and sat several days.

   John Tarleton and Henry M'Cudden, [?????] of Prospect, were indicted, jointly and severally, for the wilful murder of James Core, on the evening of the 29th of March last.

   The testimony of Mr. Surgeon MILEHAM was first taken as to the cause of death; but the body of the deceased being in a state of putridity before the deponent was called upon to examine it, he could not see any thing that could lead him to conjecture the cause of his death.

   George Stanbury deposed, that on the evening of that day many persons were at his house at Prospect, among whom were the two prisoners at the bar; and observed that Henry M'Cudden was in a violent rage, and had a stick under his arm.

   Patrick Allen deposed, that he was at the house of Stanbury when the unfortunate event took place; that he saw Tarleton strike the deceased with a stick, in the yard, near the house, and saw him fall; that about ten minutes after the deceased was reported to be in a dying state, and that Tarleton, who did not appear to be much inebriated, immediately absconded.  The deponent further said, that a general riot and confusion had subsisted the whole of the evening.

   Michael Connelly deposed, that on the evening stated he saw many persons engaged in a fight at Stanbury's; and on going towards the house perceived M'Cudden to be running away, he being pursued by Tarleton, who having a stick in his hand, frequently desired him to return and fight like a man; that he, the deponent, stopped and advised Tarleton to desist and be peaceable; that the latter consented to do so, an d the cause of quarrel being demanded by the deponent, Tarleton's answer was, that James Core (the deceased) had struck him, in consequence of which he had knocked him down; that upon the report of the unfortunate man's death, he, the deponent, immediately accused Tarleton, who had absconded with several others.  A quantity of blood he saw streaming from the ears of the deceased.---Being questioned as to the terms on which Tarleton and the deceased lived, he replied that he never knew or heard of any thing that could cause animosity on either side.

   John Moss deposed to his being present during the riot at Stanbury's house; and seeing M'Cudden in an enraged state, in consequence of his man having received a blow or cut; that he exclaimed as he entered the house "the man who cut him that man will I kill."  That the prisoner M'Cudden then went out at the front door, and struck the first man he met with his stick, namely, one Joseph Barnes.---That Tarleton then came to the house, and enquiring of the deponent whether any of his men were there, went out and leaned against a chimney by the side of James Core, the deceased; that M'Cudden soon after went towards the chimney, and seeing Tarleton, levelled a violent blow at his head; which the latter stooping to avoid, it was received by the deceased, who instantly fell.  M'Cuddden again struck at Tarleton, who had defended himself with a stick; and shortly after the unfortunate event of death was pronounced.  The witness was very collected and, was perfectly sober at the time.  He was conscious the blow received by the deceased had been intended for Tarleton, and that no malice had ever to his knowledge subsisted between the parties.

   Joseph Jones, servant to Stanbury, corroborated the last evidence by a narrative precisely correspondent; and here the evidence being concluded, the prisoners were put on their defence; which being gone through, Tarleton was acquitted, and M'Cudden found guilty of manslaughter:---he was therefore fined one shilling, and sentenced to be imprisoned six months.


Long account trial for murder of James Core.


SYDNEY GAZETTE, V/216, 14 Jun 1807/1c

On the night of Tuesday last GEORGE LEGG was unfortunately drowned off Howe's Point near the heads, in consequence of his boat upsetting, in which were several natives, who the next morning came in with the tidings of the melancholy event.  From their account it appeared, that the weather being very boisterous, the boat's sail jibed unexpectedly, and that the unfortunate man wearing two great coats at the time, was thereby prevented from saving himself by swimming.

   On Wednesday evening the murder of a male infant was discovered in the following manner:-  A young man in charge of a gentleman's house had the day before perceived what he considered to be the shell of an egg floating in the privy; and the day following his attention was more minutely attracted by a second appearance of the same kind, which induced him from mere motives of curiosity to inspect more closely into the reality of what he saw; when dreadful to relate, these appearances proved to be the little naked elbows of an unfortunate innocent, whom he naturally conjectured to have been devoted at the very moment of its birth to a short existence, by one whose duty it was to have cherished and preserved it.  The little body being taken from the loathsome place of its concealment, an Inquest was summoned on Thursday morning, whose verdict was wilful murder against the mother of the babe.  At this very period a young woman whose name is SERMON, was at the house on a friendly visit, and in a dangerous state of illness.  On her suspicion fell. - Several Gentlemen of the Faculty inspected the body; and declared that the child, which had every appearance of having been a fine infant, was born alive.  The suspected woman was then visited by one of the Gentlemen, in whose presence she acknowledged herself the wretched parent, and made a confession of her guilt: but such was her dangerous state of` illness as to prevent her immediate removal to prison; wherefore it was determined that she should remain where she was until sufficiently recovered to undergo the necessary forms essential to the ones of justice.

   From her incautious conduct it would scarcely be thought she had any wish to preserve her own life; the morning after her delivery, which had taken place between 7 and 8 in the evening, she rose at an early hour, and went bare headed and thinly cloathed to a surgeon, from whom she received some medicine, saying she laboured under a severe dysentery. - From this she contracted a cold, and was confined to a bed of anguish, in which the excruciating pang of bodily affliction must have been slight when compared with the dreadful sensation which her mind endured from conscious guilt of the most abominable of crimes, the dread of detection, and the fear not only of the punishment, but of the infamy and detestation that must forever accompany her memory.  In this state she continued until two o'clock yesterday morning; when she expired.

   The remains of this depraved woman who confessed herself the murderess of a poor infant, were interred last night at the place of execution, amid the shouts and revilings of a number of spectators who expressed a regret that she had not survived to atone for her monstrous offence by a public execution. - From the first institution of the Colony to the present moment such a crime has never before disgraced humanity; and may so fatal and horrible a resolution never more be inspired in the female bosom.


SYDNEY GAZETTE, V/217, 21 Jun 1807/2b

On Sunday last a human hand was found in the belly of a shark which was taken near the place at which the late unfortunate GEORGE LEGG was drowned a few days before.


SYDNEY GAZETTE, V/219, 5 Jul 1807/2b

Last Friday se'nnight a labouring man [HENRY ABBOTT] was killed at Hawkesbury by discharging a damaged musket; the breech of which flew, and dreadfully shattered his head.


SYDNEY GAZETTE, V/220, 12 Jul 1807/2b

The name of the man who was unhappily killed some days since at Hawkesbury by the breech of a musket which he himself discharged, was HENRY ABBOTT, and was servant to Mr. Crostley at Richmond.  The accident was no less shocking than remarkable.  He took up the piece to fire at a crow, and was seen to fall as soon as the explosion was made.  A messenger was dispatched to the Green Hills for surgical assistance; and Mr. Surgeon Mason arrived with wonderfull dispatch.  The head of the unfortunate man was dreadfully shattered; the breech penetrated the pericraneum and lodged in the brain; where it lay buried for upwards of two hours, during which the poor man was never heard to utter a groan: but as soon as it was extracted he spoke collectedly, and enquired whether there was any hope? but his case admitted none.  He spoke several times after with much precision; then rapidly recited the greater part of the multiplication table; and at the expiration of four hours expired.


SYDNEY GAZETTE, V/221, 19 July 1807/2b

The natives report their having seen the body of a man amongst the shoals in Botany Bay, about 12 feet under water, supposed to be the body of the late GEORGE LEGG, who was unfortunately drowned near that place a few weeks since.


SYDNEY GAZETTE, V/222, 26 July 1807/2b

On Thursday last such of the remains of the late GEORGE LEGG as could be found, were interred at the place of burial, his widow having employed persons to search for the body at and about the place where the deceased was unfortunately drowned.


SYDNEY GAZETTE, V/223, 2 Aug 1807/2b

On Friday morning died of the adder poison, FRANCIS M'NAMARA, Servant to Mr. SPARROW on the Rocks; the circumstances attending which are very remarkable.   The poor man went into the woods with a boy on Wednesday to procure a load of wood; and while cutting a tree the boy observed a small snake between the feet of the deceased, who did not appear alarmed at the circumstance, and was soon after seized with a dimness of sight and swimming in the head, which however, soon went off again.  Upon his return home he complained not; but supped and went to bed, saying he was much fatigued.  Early on Thursday morning, his master being alarmed by the boy coming out of the room in which the deceased slept, went thither, and beheld him in a state of speechless stupor, beating alternately his head and right heel, upon which was distinctly visible the puncture occasioned by the fang teeth, upon opening which nothing particular was observable.  He remained until nearly daybreak on Friday morning, when his speech indistinctly returned to him, and shortly afterwards he expired.


SYDNEY GAZETTE, V/224, 9 Aug 1807/2a

The unfortunate man who last week died from the bite of a snake was buried by his master in a style of decency which argued the worth of the deceased, of whose fidelity too much cannot be said.  The reptile that had inflicted the mortal wound had been killed on the spot, and was afterwards brought in by the boy.  It was a white viper, not exceeding 18 inches in length; one of the fangs appeared relaxed, the other firm, from which it is supposed, as only a single puncture had appeared in the heel of the deceased, that the latter still retained its undiminished deadly charge.

2a  WILLIAM PARKHURST, unreadable.


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