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Colonial Cases

New Zealand Army

New Zealander, 9 August 1845


COURT MARTIAL. - On Thursday, a Court MAartial was held in the mess room of the Officers in the barracks, on Lieut. Barclay, 96th Regt., for his conduct on the 111th March, when Kororarika was attacked and taken by the natives.  Colonel Despard was the president, Lieut. and Adjutant Deering, 9th Regt., Assistant Deputy Judge Advocate, and Colonel Hulme conducted the prosecution by order of The Commander in Chief in New South Wales.  It was intimated at the opening of the Court, that the proceedings must not be made public until they have been submitted to Sir Maurice O'Connell, therefore we are not at liberty to publish the proceedings for the present.


Hobart Guardian, 13 November 1847


  On Friday and Saturday, the 5th and 6th instant, the four soldiers who were attempting, a short time ago, to escape from the colony, in the barque John, while she lay at Spring Bay, were tried at the military barracks, by a Garrison Court Martial, and received sentences of various periods of imprisonment, with hard labour.  Mr. Morgan, our most active chief constable, attended,  and gave evidence, as to the manner in which he had captured the prisoners at Spring Bay, which elicited from Colonel Cumberland, a most handsome compliment, not only for his intrepidity in effecting such capture, but for the straightforward manner in which Mr. Morgan gave evidence.  We quite agree with our contemporary, the Colonial Times, that Mr. Morgan deserves something more than bare thanks, from the agents of the John, for had these men effected their escape in the vessel, something serious might have been the result; which, fortunately for the owner, was prevented by Mr. Morgan's  promptitude, and we are certain that the C.C. is not the man who would look for any remuneration from individual, still we think the agents of the John would only be doing their duty by acknowledging the great service dine by Mr. Morgan and his men, in some more substantial way than thanks, as it certainly costs the vigilant C.C. many pounds, at times, to trace parties, as we believe was the case with regard to the John.


Wellington Independent, 26 January 1864


EXECUTION OF A MAORI SPY. - The Maungatawhiri correspondent of the New Zealand Herald writes as follows - "The General seems to have begun to show the friendly natives that the playing the spy and carrying two faces will do no longer.  The following are the facts of the case as I heard them about a Maori spy.  As your readers are very well aware from my former letters, that the mail was carried from the Head Quarters of the Army across the country to Raglan by friendly natives.  The postman goes twice a day, and it appears that one of the natives has been in the habit of coming to the campo among the soldiers, and passing himself off as the postman.  While he was in camp, he had been in the habit of making enquiries of the number of troops at the different posts.  Suspicion having been raised against him, a party was set to watch him, and at last the gentleman was caught.  A drum-head court-martial was held over him, and the result was that the natives of Te Wheoro's tribe were drawn up in a line; the prisoner was brought up, the word 'fire' was given, and the spy fell a lifeless corpse.


New Zealand Spectator, 3 February 1864


    This morning, about 6 o'clock, a private of the 40th Regiment, named Rowshill, underwent the degrading punishment of flogging, receiving 50 lashes.  It appears while stationed at Meremere, that he was acting as sentinel over the commissariat stores, and permitted two soldiers of the 12th Regt to enter the stores and steal three gills of grog.  He had before been guilty of some dereliction of duty.  The troops not on duty were drawn up to witness the infliction of the punishment.  A court-martial has been held over two other soldiers, who have been accused of appropriating unto themselves a small quantity of grog, belonging to an officer, and it is believed they will also be punished by flogging.


New Zealand Herald, 15 September 1864

  In the Police Court yesterday, a man named James Calderwood, was charged with desertion from the Royal Artillery.  The accused behaved very impudently in Court.  His worship ordered him to be handed over to the military authorities, desiring the Sergeant to bring forward his conduct against him on the court martial. [See also New Zealand Herald, 20 March 1865.]


Daily Southern Cross, 7 October 1865


  Dr. AGASSIZ, who was at Opotiki when Mr. Volkner was murdered, had been sent down to the coast by the Government in order, it is said, to identify any of the murderers that may be caught.  Strict orders have been given by Mr. FitzGerald that immediately on any one suspected of being concerned in the murders being taken, he shall be tried by court martial, and, if found guilty, instantly executed.  We may add that, martial law having been proclaimed at Opotiki and Whakatane, it will be unnecessary to try the murderers by a court of law.


Nelson Examiner, 11 November 1865





New Zealand Herald, 18 January 1866

   .  .  . And what do we find now, as resulting from the unconstitutional and indefensible proclamation of martial law on the East Coast? Why, simply this, that his Excellency the Governor has quashed the whole proceedings.  The trial of the murderers of James Fulloon and his companions by court-martial has been declared null and void; and the Whakatane murderers have been ordered for trial before the legal tribunal in Auckland.  .  .  .  


Daily Southern Cross, 19 January 1866

  .  .  .   Punishment was to follow on the heels of crime, forsooth; and the Southern Ministry set aside those legal checks which guard a subject's life, and arraigned men accused of murder before an illegal tribunal - (because a Governor has no legal power, without a special Act, to proclaim martial law where Parliamentary government exists) - on whose finding it would not be safe to hang a dog, much less a man.  Now, to follow up this digression, the accused may plead that having been once tried for murder, they cannot be tried for the same offence a second time, and they will in all likelihood escape from justice altogether.


Evening Post, 16 March 1866


  The murderers of poor Fulloon have now been found guilty in a regular organised Court of Justice, and the most captiuous cannot cavil at the fairness of this trial.  We have already expressed our disapprobation of the steps that caused these men to be released from the sentence of  a court-martial in order that they might go through the regular course, and we did so because we believed that the example which would have been given to the rest of the rebel race by carrying that sentence into prompt execution would have been accompanied by the greatest good in convincing them of our power and will to swift yet even handed justice when the occasion called for it.


Daily Southern Cross, 23 May 1866


[Before T. Beckham, Esq., R.M.]

  Michael O'Brien was charged with using threatening language to John Hooper.

  Defendant was an artillery man, and was in custody of some men of his corps on another charge, for which he was to be tried by court martial.  The charge was withdrawn as the Battery will soon be out of the country.


Daily Southern Cross, 25 June 1866


NAVAL COURT MARTIAL. - By a private letter received from New Zealand, we learn that a court-martial had been held on board the 'Esk,' to try Commander E. R. Fremantle, first Lieutenant B. G. A. Belson, and Mr. Stovin (master of the 'Eclipse') for having run that ship ashore in January, 1865.  The inquiry occupied three days.  The result was, that the commander and first lieutenant were reprimanded, the master severely reprimanded, and the whole admonished to be more careful in future.


Nelson Examiner, 25 September 1866

ESCAPE OF A SOLDIER FROM THE MAORIS. - The Wanganui Times has the following - "Private John Hennessy, of H.M. 57th regiment, gave himself up to Sergeant Murphy, of the 18th Royal Irish, at Manuwapou, on Monday last.  He says that he had been taken prisoner by the Maoris; and had frequently endeavoured to be forwarded to his regiment, now in Auckland, where the circumstances of his desertion will be inquired into by a general court martial. [The background story.]


Evening Post, 31 May 1867

  One of those rare occurrences in the British Army, styled "Drumming out," took place in Wanganui on Monday last. Tuesday's Chronicle says: The 2nd batt. 18th regt., at present garrisoning Wanganui, paraded yesterday morning on the race course, to witness the sentence of a court-martial of the regiment executed upon Private White.  The companies having arrived on the ground, and formed a hollow square, the list of White's misdemeanours was read aloud by the Adjutant.  This comprised repeated attempts at desertion, for which he had undergone long terms of imprisonment, and the branding of letter D; the offence of striking his superior officer, breaking his arm, besides convictions before the civil power.  The sentence of military court-martial, endorsed by Major-General Chute was that private William White should be drummed with ignominy from the regt., and branded on the right breast, B. C. - "bad character." The men were then formed into two open lines, forming a right angle, and down the lane the culprit had to be marched.  The prisoner appeared under a guard with the red uniform of the British army, from which the shoulder straps, facings, and buttons were torn, after which he was escorted, the fifes and kettle-drums playing the Rogue's March, down between the lines, and then handed over for imprisonment during the remainder of his service time.  The prisoner carried to the last an imperturbably devil-may-care bearing, and even while being escorted to the guard-room showed utter recklessness by taking off and tearing up his defaced jacket, and pitching his cap away.

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