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Colonial Cases


SYDNEY GAZETTE, VI/229, 22 May 1808/1b

On Tuesday morning about 8 o'clock, an infant daughter of THOMAS MORLEY [OR MOTLEY], who keeps the sign of the Cornwallis frigate, in Pitt's Row, was unhappily burnt with such extreme severity, as to occasion the death of the little sufferer after enduring the most excruciating agony until Friday morning between 12 and 1, when it was the pleasure of the Divine Will to put a period to its worldly torments.  The unfortunate child, which was nearly 6 years old, met with the dreadful accident at a neighbouring house, by falling from a chair into the kitchen fire, when alone; by which means her cloaths taking fire, she ran into the front part of the house in a perfect blaze.  The mistress of the house ran immediately to her assistance, and was herself much burnt in endeavouring the extinguish the flames; which had however already so shockingly scorched the infant, as to render ineffectual every attention that parental fondness, assisted by every exertion of skill an humanity, could possibly afford.  The little sufferer in its last hours talked with much composure, and intermingled its little collected observations a strength of infant reasoning which could not fail of attracting admiration, and adding, if possible, to the [emotion]? endured by every one who witnessed the distressing spectacle.


SYDNEY GAZETTE, VI/230, 29 May 1808/1c

JOHN BROWN:  charges of Wilful Murder against Privates JOHN CURRY, ROBERT GRINDLESTON, JAMES DANIELS, also RICHARD SCANDLING, a prisoner.


SYDNEY GAZETTE, VI/231, 5 June 1808

as above


SYDNEY GAZETTE, VI/233, 19 June 1808/2b

On Tuesday se'nnight an infant of JOHN HOPKINS, a labouring man on the Rocks, was scalded in a shocking manner, owing to the skirts of its frock getting entangled with the spout of a tea kettle then on the fire with boiling water; - in consequence of which melancholy accident the little sufferer departed this life on the morning of Friday.

   During the heavy squall which set in on Friday evening and continued greater part of the night, a boat was upset off Bradley's Head, in which were three white persons and two natives, all of whom made the shore in safety except one fog the former, who was commonly known by the appellation of South Head Joe, he being unfortunately drowned.


SYDNEY GAZETTE, VI/235, 3 July 1808/1c

A few days ago a fine boy, about 12 years of age, hung himself on a farm at Hawkesbury, and was found lifeless, though his feet were on the ground, his knees half bent.  He had fastened the rope to the rafter of an outhouse, placed a looking glass before him, and was supposed to have thrown himself from a height of between two and three feet, and that he could not recover from the violence of the fall.


7 Aug 1808/2b   On Sunday last the Brig Fox was got afloat, after remaining under water since the night of Wednesday the 20th ult. when she was discovered to be on fire between decks, a little after 7 in the evening; but being scuttled, she filled and went down before ten.  In the confusion that prevailed a young man was drowned, whose body was found floating on Friday last much decayed.  The deceased proved to be GEORGE WILLIAM SNAPE, a deserving young man, aged 24 years, who was in Mr. Campbell's employ.  An Inquest was the same day held on the body of the unfortunate youth; whose verdict was descriptive of the melancholy accident; and in the evening the interment took place, which was respectably attended.


SYDNEY GAZETTE, VI/243, 28 Aug 1808/2a

On Tuesday night JOHN BRAZIL, a free servant of Mr Thompson, at Hawkesbury, was found murdered by the contents of a musket being lodged in his belly.  The circumstances attending this murder are of a singular nature. - It was suspected that the deceased had gone in company with some other person or persons to rob the pig stye of ROBERT RICHIE, on the South Creek; and being separated from his accomplices was by them mistaken for one of the servants of the house, and shot dead upon the spot.  The day following a representation was made to ARCHIBALD BELL, Esq. who by virtue of a special appointment performed the duty of Coroner, and took an Inquest on the body of the deceased.  In the course of the enquiry it was represented to the jury, that the deceased lodged in a hut of Mr. A THOMPSON's, in company with two other men, Robert Rope and Mark Eivers, who were brought forward; when it appeared that Rope was in the continual habit of carrying a musket, for the protection of his master's property; upon examining which it appeared to have been recently discharged.  On the investigation some circumstances appeared, which induced the jury to commit both the above persons for the murder.

   On Thursday the 18th instant an inquest was held on the body of ELIZABETH MURRAY who was servant to HENRY BALDWIN and was taken dead out of the River Hawkesbury, into which she had accidentally fallen. - Verdict - Accidental Death.

   Elizabeth Jones was a fortnight since committed for trial from Hawkesbury on the very serious charge of putting a period to the existence of her new born infant, 4 months since.


SYDNEY GAZETTE, VI/247, 25 Sep 1808/2a

On Friday se'nnight a fine boy about twelve years of age was taken lifeless out of the Hawkesbury river, near to Cornwallis Place.  His name was John Bowman, an orphan, and was in the service of MR WILLIAM BAKER when the melancholy event took place.


SYDNEY GAZETTE, VI/248, 2 Oct 1808/2b

Trial of ROBERT ROPE AND MARC EIVERS for Wilful Murder of JOHN BRAZELL.  Both acquitted.

2c   The last trial was that of ELIZABETH CONNOR for the suspected murder of her own child; but it appearing from satisfactory testimony that the prisoner was not guilty of the dreadful crime laid to her charge, she was acquitted.


SYDNEY GAZETTE, VI/251, 23 Oct 1808/2a

On Monday afternoon JOHN HOWARTH, Settler on the Banks of the Hawkesbury, was unfortunately drowned in crossing the River with a bullock in his boat; which sunk in an instant by the creature's treading on the stern.  We do not hear that the body has yet been found.  The fatality that has attended the family of the deceased for some time past affords a matter of serious contemplation.  On the 8th of October, 1804, his eldest son, a fine boy 11 years old, lost his life from the bite of a snake, while tending a small stock upon his father's farm; the poor little fellow had thrust his arm into the aperture of a hollow tree; and immediately complained of the bite, which he survived but a few hours. - In the month of October, 1806, the wife of Howarth, and mother of the ill-fated child, suddenly disappeared by night, and was never heard of more.  She was conjectured to have perished in the River somewhere about the spot that has now proved fatal to her husband. - And what renders the fatality the more remarkable is, that the unfortunate child fell a victim to accident in the month of October, 1804; the mother, to accident in October, 1806; and the father in October, 1808; leaving an interval of two years between the loss of each.


SYDNEY GAZETTE, VI/252, 30 Oct 1808/2b

On Tuesday last the body of the late JOHN HOWARTH was picked up in the Hawkesbury River, about 100 yards from the place at which he was unfortunately drowned; and the same day was interred.

   On Wednesday morning, between the hours of 10 and 11, ELIZABETH FORD, formerly resident with JOHN CHAPMAN MORRIS, who was drowned in the River Hawkesbury, died suddenly in the house of JEAN WILD, in Back Row past.  The same afternoon a Coroner's Inquest assembled; by the evidence given before whom it appeared that the deceased had for some time past laboured under a depression of spirits, by which her health as well as her mental faculties were much impaired. - On the morning of her death she appeared in tolerable spirits; and conversed with Mrs. Wild and other persons immediately prior to her dissolution, with unusual levity; when falling backwards in her chair, she expired without a struggle. - Verdict - Death by Visitation of God.  The deceased was in her 32d year, and had been 18 years in this Colony.


SYDNEY GAZETTE, VI/253, Sunday, November 6, 1808/2a

By the Halcyon colonial vessel, which came in from Hunter's River on Sunday evening last, we receive an account of a tragical event having taken place on the shore opposite to King's Town, on the forenoon of the preceding Monday; which by subsequent accounts has been rendered still more afflicting.  John Spillers and John Bosh, two seamen belonging to the Halcyon, crossed the river in a small boat, in which they were accompanied by a small boy, about eleven years of age, to take a view of the remaining wreck of the Dundee; and on landing were joined by a native, who appeared very friendly, and to whom the child gave a biscuit out of his bosom.  After travelling together to some distance along the shore, the native shipped his spear, and looked intently on the water, as if designing to strike at a fish that had approached the beach; when suddenly turning his point on Bosh, he passed the weapon through his left arm; and at the same instant assaulted the more unfortunate Spillers, who had an axe in his hand, and might have defended himself, had he been aware of the attack; but the first intimation b he received of which was a perhaps deadly stroke with a nulla-nulla,* on the crown of the head, as he walked leisurely onwards in supposed security.  Bosh was some moments extracting the spear from his arm; before he effected which, he had the mortification to see the only companion from whose efforts he could have hoped assistance, extended on the sand beneath the brutal violence of the assailant, who had now possession of two dreadful weapons, while he himself was already wounded, and had nothing to defend himself but the spear with which his wound had been inflicted, and in which he could place no possible reliance, as he was unacquainted with the manner of using it.  Almost petrified with horror and astonishment, he plunged in to the water, and swam for the Settlement, but was by a rapid tide carried upwards of two miles before he gained the shore.  As soon as the report was made to the Commandant, a boat was sent over with an armed party, when the dead body of the unfortunate man was found upon the beach in a horrible state of mutilation, occasioned by blows from the nulla-nulla, and several ghastly wounds from a barbered spear.  The child was no where to be seen:---it was supposed that the murdered had obliged him to accompany him onward to Port Stevens, to which he himself belonged.  Many persons were dispatched on foot in various directions to discover, if possible, and pursue his traces; the Commandant in person headed one of the parties; but all, all was of no avail.

   A Coroner's Inquest was convened on the body of the ill-fated man; whose remains were interred with decency, and a solemnity suitable to the awful event.  On Saturday the 23d the Halcyon came away, but previous to her departure no tidings of the little unfortunate absentee had been received---parties were still out, and hopes of his safety were not totally abandoned.  On Thursday morning, however, an open boat arrived from Hunter's River, with the melancholy tidings of the body of the early devoted victim to barbarity being yesterday se'nnight found within a few paces of the spot where Spellers had been killed.  His brains had been dashed out by the remorseless wretch, who, to conceal so foul a crime, had thrown the body into the sea, from whence the tide restored it.  Now hope was at end end, the measure of horror was complete, and every abominable circumstance concurred to excite indignation and disgust.  The only consolation that remains, is in the possibility that the perpetrator of these crimes may not very long escape the stroke of vengeance, which he has thus wantonly provoked:---his person is well known at the Settlement, where he passes by the name of Port Stevens Robert; and his visage is recently rendered remarkable, by a cut which he received from Bungary, that has occasion beds an indentation nearly in the centre of his forehead.

  • This weapon is formed by affixing to the end of a club a circular piece of a very hard wood, 8 or 10 inches in diameter, with a sharp edge, and of a mushroom form.  It is frequently carried as a weapon of defence, but the natives seldom exercise it against each other.


SYDNEY GAZETTE, VI/254, 13 Nov 1808/1c

Yesterday afternoon GEORGE STACY, a servant of JOHN PALMER, Esq. fell out of a cart near the Tanks, and one of the wheels passing over his head, he remained some time to all appearances lifeless. - Surgical assistance being immediately procured, his state proves happily to be less dangerous than could possibly have been expected.


SYDNEY GAZETTE, VI/255, 20 Nov 1808/2a

WILLIAM NASH, a fine boy about 13 years of age, died a few days since at the Nepean in consequence of the bite of a snake, which was almost immediately succeeded by a lethargy, in which state he lived several hours.

   Last week, a son of MR LAWRENCE MAY, at Hawkesbury, unfortunately fell into a saw-pit, which had been filled by the rains, and perished unperceived.


SYDNEY GAZETTE, Sunday 27 November 1808

On Friday the Halcyon arrived with coals and cedar from Newcastle, from whence she had sailed the 16th with favourable weather, which continued till she nearly reached the north head of Broken Bay, when a heavy gale set in, and she was driven back to Hunter's River.  Her situation being rather alarming owing to the state of the wind and a heavy swell, a boat was sent from the Settlement to her assistance, and the vessel was preserved.---Unfortunately, however, one of the persons employed in this beneficial service lost his life.  This was Thomas Shirley, a prisoner, who arrived in the second Royal Admiral.

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