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Decisions of the Nineteenth Century Tasmanian Superior Courts

R. v. Wallace and Watson [1841]

burglary with violence - capital punishment - reception of English law, capital punishment

Supreme Court of Van Diemen's Land

Pedder C.J., 8 January 1841

Source: The Cornwall Chronicle and Commercial and Agricultural Register,

16 January 1841[1]

The Chief Justice having taken his seat, the following prisoners were brought up for judgment: -

Patrick Wallace and William Watson, convicted of burglary with violence. The Chief Justice remarked that they had been convicted of a burglary, being armed at the time, and putting the inmates in bodily fear. He intended to have sentenced them on another information upon which they had been convicted, but his meaning had been misunderstood by the Clerk of the Court. The charge against them had been fully borne out by the evidence, and nobody could doubt, in point of fact, that they had been guilty of that which in point of law they were charged with in the information.  When the law of England, touching these offences was altered, it was with the intention of the legislature to carry out the same laws here; but the members of the Legislative Council thought it right, having regard to the protection of the settlers, that such men should be liable to capital punishment. He saw nothing in the case which could induce him to hold out any hopes of mercy. His Honor then passed sentence of death upon the prisoners.


[1]              See also The Launceston Courier, 11 January 1841 and AOTGO 44/1, Judge's Report, 16 January 1841.  Despite some attempt to secure their reprieve, the two were hung because they had been 'guilty of robbery with considerable violence', R.P. Davis, The Tasmanian Gallows: A Study of Capital Punishment, Hobart, Cat and Fiddle Press, 1974, p. 37.


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