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Decisions of the Nineteenth Century Tasmanian Superior Courts

R. v. Nicholls [1841]

bigamy - women defendants in crime

Supreme Court of Van Diemen's Land

Montagu J., 2 & 3 March 1841

Source: The Hobart Town Courier and Van Diemen's Land Gazette, 5 March 1841[1]


Sarah Nicholls pleaded guilty to a charge of bigamy and was remanded for sentence.


Sarah Nicholls was brought up for sentence, when his Honor observed, that although this was the first case for bigamy which had come before the court, it was a very bad one; she had married her first husband in 1839, and while he was absent whaling, she had married another man, and even made a matter of jocularity of it as she returned from church!  His Honor was very glad that the Attorney-General had prosecuted the prisoner, for bigamy was by no means unfrequent in this colony, in consequence of the impunity with which it had been hitherto permitted.  The sentence that he should pass was, that the prisoner be transported for seven years, and he hoped that the publicity which would be given to this sentence would have the effect of putting a stop to so bad a practice.


[1]              See also Hobart Town Advertiser, 5 March 1841. According to AOTSC 41/4, p. 69 by order of the Colonial Secretary Nicholls was to be sent to the Cascades Female Factory for six months and then assigned.


Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University and the School of History and Classics, University of Tasmania