Skip to Content

Decisions of the Superior Courts of New South Wales, 1788-1899

Research based on this site


If you are working on these materials, and wish to have your work recorded, please contact us.


Peter Karsten, Between Law and Custom: "High" and "Low" Legal Cultures in the British Diaspora Lands (the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) of the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries (Cambridge University Press, 2002).

Lauren Benton, Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, 1400-1900(Cambridge University Press, 2002)

Greg Woods, A History of Criminal Law in New South Wales The Colonial Period, 1788-1900 (Federation Press, 2002)

David Clark and Gerard McCoy QC Habeas Corpus: Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific (Federation Press, 2000)

John Bennett, Lives of the Australian Chief Justices: Sir John Pedder (Federation Press, 2003)

Kirsten McKenzie, Scandal in the Colonies (Melbourne University Press, 2004)

Ian Barker, Sorely Tried (2003)

John Connor, The Australian Frontier Wars 1788-1838 (UNSW Press, 2002)

Ian Holloway, Natural Justice and the High Court of Australia (Ashgate, 2002)

Tim Castle and Bruce Kercher, Dowling's Select Cases, 1828 to 1844: Decisions of the Supreme Court of New South Wales (Francis Forbes Society, Sydney, 2005)

Tim Castle and Bruce Kercher, The Dowling Legacy: Foundations of an Australian Legal Culture 1828 to 1844 (Francis Forbes Society, Sydney, 2005)

Carol Baxter, An Irresistable Temptation: the True Story of Jane New and a Colonial Scandal (Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 2006)

Bruce Kercher, Outsiders: Tales from the Supreme Court of New South Wales, 1824-1836(Australian Scholarly, Melbourne, 2006)

Bruce Kercher and Brent Salter, The Kercher Reports: Decisions of the New South Wales Superior Courts, 1788-1827 (Francis Forbes Society, 2010)


Damen Ward, "Constucting British Authority in Australasia: Charles Cooper and the Legal Status of Aborigines in the South Australian Supreme Court, c. 1840-1860" (2006) 34 Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 483-504.

Katherine Biber, "Cannibals and Colonialism" (2005) 27 Sydney Law Review 623-637.

Ian Holloway, "Sir Francis Forbes And The Earliest Australian Public Law Cases" (2004) 22Law and History Review.

James Spigelman, "Foundation of the Freedom of the Press in Australia" (2003) 23 Australian Bar Review 89.

Bain Attwood, "The Law of the Land or the Law of the Land? History, Law and Narrative in a Settler Society" (2004) 2 History Compass 1-30.

Nancy Wright, "The Problems of Aboriginal Evidence in Early Colonial New South Wales" in D Kirkby and C Coleborne (eds), Law, History, Colonialism: the Reaches of Empire (2001).

Wright, N.E. and Buck, A.R., "The Transformation of Colonial Property: a Study of the Law of Dower in New South Wales, 1836 to 1863" (2005) 23 University of Tasmania Law Review97-127

Keith Mason, "Believers in Court: Sydney Anglicans Going to Law" (Cable Lecture, 2005, St James' Church, Sydney)

Brent Salter, "Beyond the rudimentary and brutal: Procedure, evidence and sentencing in Australia's first criminal court" (2009) 33 Criminal Law Journal 87

Brent Salter, "Coming Clean in the Colonial Courts: The 1822 Confession Trial of Hatherly and Jackie"(2009) 14 Deakin Law Review 125

Brent Salter, "Early interactions between indigenous people and settlers in Australia's first criminal court" (2009) 83 Australian Law Journal 56

Brent Salter, "Forming Impressions From Ordinary Words: A Narrative of Three Moments in Australia's History When the Visual Arts and Law Converged" (2009) 14 (4) Media & Arts Law Review 498

Brent Salter, "For Want of Evidence: Initial Impressions of Indigenous Exchanges with the First Colonial Superior Courts of Australia"(2008) 27 University of Tasmania Law Review 145

Bruce Kercher has written the following papers:

Kercher, Lessons from the web: the publication of early New South Wales case law( online, November 1998

Kercher, ``Publication of Forgotten Case Law of the New South Wales Supreme Court" (1998) 72 Australian Law Journal 876-888

Kercher, "R v Ballard, R v Murrell, and R v Bonjon" (edited law reports, with introduction) (1998) 3 (3) Australian Indigenous Law Reporter 410-425

Kercher, ``Recognition of Indigenous Legal Autonomy in Nineteenth Century New South Wales" (1998) 4 Indigenous Law Bulletin 7-9.

Kercher, ``The death of Dr Wardell, and Other Forgotten New South Wales Cases" (1999) 18Australian Bar Review 178

Kercher, ``Where the future meets the past: Pre-1900 NSW case law on the web" (paper delivered at Austlii's ``Law via the Internet '99" Conference, Sydney, July 1999). (published in (2000) 2 UTS Law Review 132-138)

Kercher, "Establishment, Freedom of Speech and the Church of England: Pew Disputes in Early Nineteenth Century New South Wales and Newfoundland" (2000) 6 Australian Journal of Legal History 135


Kercher, "Legal History and the Study of Remedies" (2001) 39 Brandeis Law Journal 619-630

Kercher, "Colonial Contracts and Expectation Damages: Girard v Biddulph, New South Wales Supreme Court, 1834" (2001) 1 Macquarie Law Journal 103-107

Kercher, "Perish or Prosper: the Law and Convict Transportation in the British Empire, 1700-1850" (2003) 21 Law and History Review 527-583.

Kercher, "The Recognition of Aboriginal Status and Laws in the Supreme Court of New South Wales under Forbes C.J., 1824-1836" in A. Buck, J McLaren and N. Wright (eds), Land and Freedom: Law, Property Rights and the British Diaspora (Ashgate, Dartmouth, 2001)

Kercher, "Native Title in the Shadows: the Origins of the Myth of Terra Nullius in Early New South Wales Courts," in Gregory Blue, Martin Bunton, and Ralph Crozier (eds), Colonialism and the Modern World Order: Selected Studies, ME Sharpe, New York, 2002.

Kercher, "Judges and the Application of Imperial Law in Eastern Australia, 1788-1836: Resistance and Reception" in David Lemmings (ed), The British and their Laws in the Eighteenth Century (Boydell Press, Woodbridge , 2005)

Kercher, "Why the History of Australian Law is Not English (2000 Alex Castles Lecture on Legal History, Adelaide, October 2000)" (2004) 7 Flinders Journal of Law Reform 177-204

Kercher and Jodie Young, "Formal and informal law in two new lands: land law in Newfoundland and New South Wales under Francis Forbes" in Christopher English (ed),Essays in the History of Canadian Law: Volume IX: Two Islands, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island (University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 2005)



Two honours papers were completed in the Division of Law at Macquarie Univesity in 1999, based on the cases in this collection.  Jodie Young wrote about land law in the Forbes court, arguing that Forbes was more willing to allow for local land law practices in cases between subjects than he was when the Crown was asserting its own title.  Marie Mittiga wrote a subtle paper about the interplay of the limited legal abilities of married women and of convicts: women married to convicts had more legal rights than those married to free or emancipated men. In 2002, Justine Rogers wrote a fine paper on the development of equity in NSW.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University