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Colonial Cases


Empire (Sydney), 3 February 1866
 A man named Edward Sweeny committed suicide at Ashfield on Saturday last, by hanging himself in his bedroom.  The cause of his having done so is unknown.
  A man named James Corr was drowned lately in a waterhole at Marshall Mount Creek.  He was bathing and got out of his depth, not being able to swim.
  A child, aged eighteen months, a son of Mr. David Bell, on Nimitybelle, was scalded to death the other day, buy falling into a tin dish in which some boiling hot cabbage had been just placed.
  Two children, belonging to a woman residing sat Adelong, were discovered lately, in a tub of water, under somewhat peculiar circumstances.  The tub is said to be hardly deep enough to drown them unless foul means were used.  The police are investigating the matter.
  A man named Samuel Denford died very suddenly at his residence. Sussex-street, on Monday night.  An inquest was held, and inflammation of the bowels was found to be the cause of death.
  A man named John Woods was found dead in the Macquarie River lately.  The appearance of the body was such as to indicate that there had been some foul play, and a magisterial inquiry was held, but nothing was elicited.
  A man named Henry Cnen was drowned in the Macquarie River, on Monday last.  He was seen to strip and go into the water, when he got out of his depth and sank.
 A daughter of Mr. Thomas Kelly, of Wollongong, was very severely burnt on Monday last, owing to her clothes catching fire.  There is little hope of her recovery.
  On the 16th ultimo a girl, names Lynch, was burnt to death, near Monaro, owing to her clothes catching fire.

Freeman's Journal (Sydney), 3 February 1866
An Irish story about a Liverpool death

Sydney Mail, 3 February 1866
SUSPICIOUS CASE. - Some weeks ago, says the Gundagai Herald, two children, aged respectively 4 12 and 2 years, belonging to a married woman living at Adelong, were found dead under suspicious circumstances.  It seemed that both of them were partially immersed in a tub 19 inches in diameter, 11 ½  deep, and containing 5 ½ inches of water. A Coroner's inquest was held by the coroner, Dr. Falder, and a verdict oi accidental death returned; the children were interred, and the affair apparently concluded.  Some dissatisfaction was expressed that no post mortem examination was held at the time of the inquest, as it was hinted that the children may have met their death by foul means.  The police took the matter in hand; and the result of their inquiries has been the apprehension on Saturday last of the mother, pending the examination of the children, and the result of a post mortem examination.  The dimensions of the tub, and the water it contained, are strictly correct; and we confess our inability to understand how a child 4 12 years old could, except by foul means, or being  seied with a fit, have been drowned in it.  It is even very doubtful if the younger child could have been drowned accidentally in it.
  FATAL ACCIDENT AT THE BULLI COAL-MINE. - On Wednesday, the 24th ultimo, a German miner, named Frederick Eiscrea, was killed while working in the Bulli Coal-mine, owing to a lump of stone falling down upon him.

Sydney Mail, 3 January 1856
  Coroner's inquest. - An inquest was held before the city Coroner, at the Blue Bell Hotel, Sussex-street, on the death of a man named Samuel Denford, aged 53, who died at his residence, Sussex-street, on Monday evening.  Deceased was a hairdresser, and had lived by himself for the last six months.   John Longford, landlord of the Blue Bell Hotel, stated that deceased went to his house on Monday morning and had some brandy; he went again in the evening, and complained of being in great pain, and asked Mr. Longford to send for Dr. Merryweather.  William Green, waiter at the Blue Bell Hotel, went to deceased's residence about half-past 9 in the evening, with some medicine; he found the front door locked, and could make no one hear.  He then went round to the back, and seeing as light burning, he opened the door, when he found the deceased lying dead on the floor.  Dr. Merryweather saw deceased about 7 o'clock on Monday evening; he was then suffering from severe pains in the stomach.  Believing the man would die before morning, Dr. Merryweather advised deceased to have some one stay with him, but he declined.  The immediate cause of death was inflammation of the bowels.  Jury's verdict, Died from natural causes.
SUICIDE AT ASHFIELD. - A melancholy instance of self-destruction occurred at Ashfield on the 26th ultimo, and formed the subject of investigation before the City Coroner the following day.  Deceased, who was a gardener and servant, employed at Ashfield, was named Edward Sweeny; he was a married man, but his wife and children are living at Thrulee, Tipperary.  He had been in the colony about a year, and purposed sending for his relatives as soon as he could afford to do so. He went to bed in good health and under usual circumstances at about nine o'clock on Thursday night, and at about six o'clock on Friday morning was found by one of his fellow-servants.  Deceased's knee rested on his bed, his body inclined forwards, and a broad piece of calico was passed round his neck, the ends being fastened to a hook in a wooden partition near the bed.  The bed had been lain in, and the unhappy man appears to have got up in the dark, and his candle was carefully covered with an extinguisher, to have strangled himself.  Dr. Aitken   was immediately called to the deceased, and he was of opinion that death occurred two hours before.  Dr. Aitken thought that deceased, when standing, must have intentionally thrown himself forward, and that thus the pressure in the anterior part of the windpipe was so great as to produce strangulation.  The fingers were clenched and their appearance, as well as that of threw whole body, indicated convulsive struggles before death.  The body was not fully suspended, and as the hands were unfettered, deceased might easily have saved himself had he wished to do so, or had he not been rendered incapable by insensibility.  The fall forwards from an erect position, would, the doctor declared, under the circumstances, caused asphyxia and congestion of the brain, and death would thereby be accelerated by shock.  Death was evidently caused by pressure on the windpipe, producing asphyxia.  Jury's verdict - Deceased, aged thirty-seven years, expired from strangulation, and the act was his own.  What state of mind he was in at the time we have no evidence to show.

Sydney Mail, 3 February 1866
CORONER'S INQUEST. - An inquest was held before the City Coroner, at the Australian Inn, Woolloomooloo-street, on Thursday, respecting the death of a child named Edward Marston, aged one year and eight months.  The mother of the child stated that her husband, Edward Marston, a labourer, had been without employment for the last six months, and they were in circumstances of great poverty.  She had taken the child, who had been ailing some time, to a chemist who had given him medicine from which the child received no benefit.  Dr. Milford stated he had examined the body, which presented a very emaciated appearance'; but he had not found any marks of violence on it. He was of opinion that the child died from a protracted illness, caused by worms and diarrhoea, and want of proper medical treatment. Verdict - Died from natural causes.

Sydney Mail, 3 February 1866
MREDER. - Charles, an aboriginal of Wentworth, was charged with the murder of Richard Hickson, near Wentworth, on the 19th of November last.
  .  .  .  the body of Hickson was found three days afterwards; there were marks on its throat as of a thumb and fingers, the nose was broken, and there was a wound at the back of the head about three inches long; this wound had the appearance of being inflicted with a heavy blunt instrument.
  .  .  .  The jury retired, and after an absence of forty minutes, returned into Court with a verdict of guilty of wilful murder.  Sentence of death was recorded.
  William Tarrant Merson and John Alfred Lewis surrendered to their bail to answer the charge of feloniously killing and slaying Michael M'Cabe on the 3rd August last, at Bundurra. .  . .  
  To Mr. Blake: At the coroner's inquest heard the examination of prisoner Merson; believe that Merson said he took up the parcel of arsenic, and thinking it flour, threw it into the flour-bin; recollects Merson saying something to the effect that he did not take particular notice of the parcel on account of the cats having soiled his desk.
  John Stewart deposed he was a surgeon. He made a post mortem examination of the body of John M'Cabe, and delivered the stomach unopened and sealed to constable Meehan; there were marks of irritation about the lungs and the intestines, apparently produced by a corrosive substance; arsenic would have produced the appearance; received the piece of damper from Allen; deceased had then been dead three days. .  .  .     Charles Watt deposed he was an analytical chemist; He received from constable Meehan a stomach in a sealed jar, and a piece of damper; found the stomach to contain distinct traces of arsenic; the damper contained a considerable quantity of arsenic. .  .  .
  His Honor summed up favourably, and the jury returned a verdict of not guilty in each case.

Empire (Sydney), 5 February 1866
MELANCHOLY ACCIDENT. - On Saturday the City Coroner opened an inquest at his office touching the death of a boy named George Robinson, aged fifteen years, lying dead in the Infirmary. The youth was in the employ of Mr. E. N. Thompson, stevedore.  On Friday evening he gave deceased 1 Pound to get some chaff for the horse.  Decease took the horse, it had no saddle on, and shortly afterwards the horse came back without any rider.  Thomas Carmody happened to be standing near the Circular Quay and saw deceased on the horse riding up Pitt-street.  He had not gone far before a second boy got on the horse, which became restive, and before they had gone one hundred yards, the boys both rolled off, one boy escaped without injury, but deceased's head went against a stone, and he vomited blood, and blood came from his ears. Dr. Shaw was at once on the spot, and had deceased removed to the Infirmary, where he died.  Dr. C. M'Kay examined the deceased before death and attended to him, but he died shortly after admission from effusion of blood on the brain, caused by the violence of the fall, and the fracture in the skull;.  The inquest was adjourned until 10 o'clock this day.

Sydney Morning Herald, 5 February 1866
INQUEST.  - An inquest was held on Wednesday last, at the residence of Mr. Alfred Dalton, before Mr. Laban White, Coroner, and a jury, on the body of Frances Emma Eather.
 John Wyatt deposed: I am a tanner, residing at Windsor; the deceased is my daughter; she is married, and her usual place of residence was Muswellbrook; she came to my house a little before Christmas, having to visit Windsor on business; she remained with me until yesterday week; I reproved her for something she had done, and she left about 12 o'clock that day; requested her to leave her two little girls with me; have seen her once since; she called at my house one evening quite tipsy.
  By a juryman: For three weeks during the time deceased was at my house she was continually drinking; I do not know that she met with any accident from a fall while at my house.
  Rosina Dalton, wife of Alfred Dalton, deposed: The deceased, my sister-in-law, came to my house on last Monday week; I noticed she had been drinking; asked me to lend her money to send a telegram to her husband; lent her three shillings; she went away, but returned before dark intoxicated to a greater extent than when she left; she left again, and I saw nothing more of het till the following day; she said she had been at Blanchard's and her father had put her out; deceased made no complaint of her father ill using her; when she went to bed that night she was under the influence of drink; I went into her rom and found a half-pint bottle of brandy under her pillow; deceased told me that she had fallen two or three times coming down the street.  On Thursday deceased was very unwell.  Twice I found spirits concealed under her clothing, which I threw away.  On Friday she was taken so seriously ill, that I called in a medical man, who attended her until death, which took place at a quarter-past 11 o'clock on Monday evening.  The deceased was thirty-seven years old.
  [Dr.] Day handed in a certificate to the following effect: That he had attended the deceased since Friday last, and from the first viewed the case with out much hope.  The deceased was then suffering from congestion of the brain and lungs, with feeble pulse and cold surface.  Arrow root and brandy were prescribed, and the balance of circulation endeavoured to be restored by immersing her feet in mustard and hot water, and rubbing the extremities with dry mustard, but without v ail.  Dr. Day was of opinion that death resulted from intemperance.  Verdict - That the death of Frances Emma Eather was caused by excessive drinking.

Sydney Morning Herald, 6 February 1866
CORONER'S INQUEST.  The inquest which was commenced on Saturday, touching the death of a boy named Robinson, who accidentally fell from a horse in New Pitt-street, on Friday evening last, was resumed and concluded yesterday, before the City Coroner.  Robinson was riding the horse barebacked, with another boy behind him; the animal was stated by its own, Mr. Thompson, stevedore, to be a very quiet one, and at the time of the accident, according to one witness, Thomas Carmody, was going quietly down the street, when Robinson and the other boy both fell, Robinson's head striking the ground.  Dr. M'Kay, who saw deceased shortly after his admission into the Infirmary, stated that the lad died from effusion of blood to the brain, consequent on the injury.  Verdict, Died from injuries accidentally received by falling from a horse in Pitt-street.

Empire (Sydney), 6 February 1866
DEATHG. - Henry Hyam, the jockey, who, as we mentioned in out issue of last Saturday, received a sun-stroke when riding round the racecourse on the previous day, died on Thursday from the effects of it.  It will be remembered that when mentioning that Hyam had received the sun-stroke, we mentioned that some four weeks previously, he had ha d a fall.  It now appears that this fall was occasioned by his being thrown by Mr. John Lawler, and in consequence of Hyam's death, Lawler was apprehended yesterday evening. A magisterial inquiry is to be held this morning by Mr. Allman into the cause of death, the usual coroner's inquest not being held, in consequence of Dr. Waugh being the principal witness. - Goulburn Argus.
 CHILD MURDER AT ADELONG. - We alluded in our last issue to the suspicious circumstances attending the deaths of two children, named Gilbert, at Adelong, on the 6th instant.  The mother of the children was tried at the Adedong police-court, a few days since, and committed for trial to Wagga Wagga; and the following particulars have been furnished by the Adelong correspondent of the Tumut Times:-
  The prisoner., Mrs. Gilbert, whose husband left her some two years ago, has been supported since thern mainly by an Italian, who was previously a mate of her husband's; he has since been living with her occasionally; she resided in a small hut on Surface Hill, to which an addition had been made at the side; the addition, or cabin as called in the evidence, had but one door, not opening into the main building, but leading outside; she had three children, two boys and one girl.  On the 6th instant, a Mrs. Walters called at the house of Mrs. Steward who resides about 50 yards from the accused to obtain the assistance of her boy to look for some cows, and while there saw the prisoner, who was going for some wood.  The boy, aged eight years, was accompanied by Mrs. Walters, and as they neared Mrs. Gilbert's hut, the boy said "Mrs. Gilbert' two children are drowned," pointing out the cabin as the place.  Mrs. Walters then looked into the cabin, and seeing the children in the tub, called out to the accuse, and also to Mr. Crain, who was passing, and when he came he removed the children from the tub, and on perceiving that they were dead he went to the reef and informed the magistrates, the coroner, and the police.  The children when found by Mr. Crain had their heads in the tub, one on each side, the eldest by (aged 4 years and 6 months) was on his knees, and the other (aged two years) on his feet, the former was black round the mouth when taken out of the water, and the latter had bitten his tongue through and firmly clenched his teeth.   The coroner (Dr. Falder) quickly attended, a jury was empanelled, and a verdict of accidental death returned.  The police, however, becoming acquainted with further information, arrested Mrs. Gilbert on the 17th ultimo, and she was arraigned on a charge of wilful murder on Tuesday.
 The evidenced also showed the relationship between the prisoner and the Italian, and that he was desirous of taking her away with him if he could get the two boys provided for elsewhere.  Another witness also stated that he had seen a woman coming out of the cabin a few minutes before Mr. Crain arrive, who seemed greatly excited  The medical evidence went to prove that the children could not, being healthy children, have possibly drowned themselves in the quantity of water (some six inches), and in the tub produced.  Other witnesses were examined who corroborated the main statements, and the prisoner, after a most patent investigation, was committed for trial at Wagga Wagg.  The bodies of the children were exhumed on Monday, but Dr. Falder states that decomposition had taken place to such an extent that it was impossible to separate such portions as would be required for analysis, so the coffins were re-interred.
  The case has caused great excitement, and generally the police have condemned the verdict at the inquest.  The police have acted with much discretion, and the thanks of the community are dud to Sergeant Egan for his exertions to clear up this mysterious tragedy..  Should the woman be guilty she deserves punishment, should she be innocent the trial will clear her.  Without giving you the full evidence I can't say more, but should anything transpire I will publish it. - Goulburn Herald.

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