Tuesday, 24 April 2018



A few years ago, I had the opportunity to wander through Gore Hill Cemetery, in Sydney. A fascinating, sad, but totally amazing repository of history... It is under the care of Northern Cemeteries...

Gore Hill Cemetery History - Northern Cemeteries | Northern Cemeteries

"Gore Hill Cemetery was established on 19 May 1868 by the New South Wales politician William Tunks. The first body was interred in 1877, and until its closure in 1974, 14,456 burials took place. ... The last burial in Gore Hill took place in 1974, but the cemetery is still open for the deposition of ashes."

You can see some of my photos at
Some Irish Graves, Sydney, Australia 53 photos · 386 views

One grave in particular held my attention.. and I've often wondered about the story behind it... I knew a little, but decided to explore some more.. 

Many of you will have heard of the young man that rests there... better known as Barney.. or simply Kieran. You will see some references to him as Keran, as that is the name he was registered as in error.

His mother was Annie Mackin, who arrived on the "Surrey" in 1875 from Co Louth, Ireland, along with her sister, Rose.

Image courtesy of State Archives, NSW.. click to enlarge
She married Patrick Kieran .. Bernard, known as Barney, was their sixth child, born on 6 October, 1886 in Sydney.

Just five years later,  Patrick, seaman and labourer,  was killed in a train accident... 17 April, 1901.
Inquest result..

NRS 343 Reel 2925. The verdict of the inquest: death was caused by the: ‘Effects of injuries accidentally received through having been run over by a passing train.’

Image courtesy of State Archives, NSW.. click to enlarge

By 1900, Barney was giving his mother and family a hard time, so much so that she looked for help. Barney was admitted to the Sobraon school in the hope that it would help him.

Proof of Baptism needed for entrance to Sobraon entry..
Letter from Father Piguet of St Patrick’s Church certifying he baptised Barney in St Patricks Church Sydney, the sponsors being Michael Maggin and Louisa Baker. This confirms the correct spelling of KIERAN [he was registered as ‘Keran’ (NSW BDM ref: 3702/1886) and he was admitted to the Sobraon under ‘Keran’.]

"Sobraon entrance book, 1900 (note spelling of name). His mother stated the boy will not go to school, that he stops out at night and that she has no control over him. After being committed by the Water Police Court on 1 March 1900 Barney was sent to the Sobraon. NRS 3902 [8/1747], page 475"

Images courtesy of State Archives, NSW.. click to enlarge
"Naval Officers and cadets on the N.S.S ‘Sobraon’, 11 Aug 1893. Digital ID 4481_a026_000966"

 As you will have seen, the Sobraon school was a school with a difference, it was actually on a boat, a boy's delight...

From the Sunday Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1903 - 1910), Sunday 3 May 1903, page 8...
This Article Tells How the Sobraon Boys Live.
A. party of 250 boarded the training shlp Sobraon. Some of us were rather distinguished — from an Australian point of view. Some were not. The category in which I stood does not matter.
Two little fellows, In white sailor costume, ran down the steps and stood bolt upright-one on each slde of our steamer's gangway. Members of the Sobraon |tralnjng staff came to the top of the steps and welcomed us as we ascended. Oh the top-deck a squad of 50 boys were shouldering arms and standing at attention in our honour. We were flushed with pride. 
THE SOBRAON SINGERS. We descended the grand staircase, or companion ways, to the lower parts, where we inspected and admired the mess deck, and the sleeping deck. We were next led into the schoolroom, where on the sides were hung pictures, maps, art specimens,, and teaching paraphernalia, similar to all that is to be found in the best of the superior public schools on land. Here 240 boys, from little to big, were standing between the desks, and they remained erect until we were all seated around them. Mr. A. Matthews, the chief schoolmaster, was ready with a conductor's baton. The boys sang a number of part songs in excellent style, a portion of the ship's band accompanying. The lowness of the ceiling made the singing sound a little loud, but if the boys could have been heard in the Sydney Town Hall the volume of sweet sound would have been just grand! These boys, unfortunately, are not allowed to take part in public competitions, or to show in public what they can do. It may be truly said, however, that in listening to their voices the visitors had a rare treat. It was certainly one that they had not expected. The boys seem to sing with pleasure; and certainly they sang with spirit. 
A COMING CAVILL. From the school we were taken through the engine-room, the recreation hall, the library, and the museum. At every stage expressions of surprise, pleasure, and admiration were
heard. In the museum were pointed out all the medals that had been won by one of the boys for swimming. He was 14 years old, and was said to be the fastest swimmer of his age in Australasia. On the Sobraon they look on him as "the coming rival of Cavlll." A Mauser rifle was pointed out as a trophy captured from the Boers by an ex-Sobraon boy, who was a trooper In the war. Out of affection for his old home and gratitude to his old school he had sent the trophy to the museum. We saw hundreds of other trophies in glass cases. In addition there were hundreds of geological and botanlcal specimens furnished by the Education Department. 
PHYSICAL DRILL. We poured into the hospital, which is in charge of Mr. N. Pickett. He is an enthusiast, and merits much praise. The whole place looked clean and cosy.. We reascended the companion ways, and got up on the poops — fore, aft, and amidshlps — to watch a full muster of the boys go through naval and military evolutions. The large band, consisting of boys, some barely old enough to go to school, and others who were nearly young men, played a big part in the drill and exercises. Mr. J. Bourke is a capital bandmaster. The physical exercises were carried out under the direction of Boatswain S. Thurston. He is amiable Instructor. He was assisted by a number of divisional officers and seamen, who are all experts in drill. Gymnastics and sailor exercises were followed hy military drill and evotutlons. The marching was delightful. Rifles, sabres, and bayonets played a part, and In the handling of them the boys evinced great skill. The "Phantom Guard" in "Dirk Whittington" was recalled by the Sobraon evolutions. The public schools are not equal to such a display. 
A MARVELLOUS CONVERSION. We made some speeches while the boys squatted in rows on the deck. We praised the boys heartily, and eulogised Captain Mason and his staff for the evidences of good work and excellent training that had been witnessed. He modestly replied, but while he spoke it was clear from nearly half a thousand beaming faces that the boys regarded him with affection. Altogether there are 422 hoys on the ship. The Instructors number 19. Including the officers of the commissariat department there are all told 22 officers. The band consists of about 30 members, and though many of them are very young boys, they are by no means poor players. We were struck by the re markable cleanliness of the vessel all over. The decks were as clean as any of the floors in the Sydney Hospital. The boys were clean too — not only their faces and clothes. Their eyes were bright and merry, and their faces cheerful. They seemed to have great respect for their Instructors. We got the impression that the staff were not taskmasters, but "big brothers." How different those boys were when they stood before Messrs. Wilshire, Smithers, Payten, Donaldson, Macfarlane, and other stipendiary magistrates to be rescued from the perils of bad homes, bad parents, and bad companions! How sad it made one to think that some of the boys will have to return by-and-bye to their old environments — to the same old haunts, to the same worthless unchanged parents, and to the same bad companions. Many will prove superior to the temptations of their earlier days. Let us hope that the proportion of the reformed will be overwhelming. There is not an Institution to equal the Sobroan for bringing about a mar-vellous conversion. 

Naval cadets from N.S.S. ‘Sobraon’ receiving swimming instruction, 11 Aug 1893. Digital ID 4481_a026_000977
Images courtesy of State Archives, NSW.. click to enlarge
Cockatoo Island Sutherland and Fitzroy Docks. Photograph by Janette Pelosi. Barney Kieran did much of his early training at Cockatoo Island where the Sobraon boys were able to go on land. The Fitzroy Dock (472 feet = 144 metres) was used as a venue for swimming races watched by Barney Kiernan and he used the Sutherland Dock for his swimming training. The Sutherland Dock, completed in March 1890, was 638 
feet (194 metres) when built."

Images courtesy of State Archives, NSW.. 

Swimming Certificate (reproduced with permission from the Powerhouse Museum)

There are numerous articles on TROVE re Barney's successes, and his trials.. some readers will have heard of Dick Cavill, a brilliant swimmer, who was ahead of all others. However, it wasn't long before B.Kieran was challenging him and being listed as a very close second to Dick in many races... as in this report.. 

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miner's Advocate 25 Jan. 1904

Note the use of the name, Keran in lieu of  Kieran. 

Soon the roles were reversed...

Following a number of such successes, an invitation was issued.

Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), Monday 27 March 1905, page 5
The full article can be read here...

This is an excerpt...

Money was raised to get Barney to England, through swimming carnivals, public  subscriptions and any way possible. Australians were keen to show off the prowess of their home grown super star, yet it wasn't without controversy as to whom should accompany him. Eventually, it was agreed that his long time trainer and friend, W.  Hilton Mitchell, should be the one.
After the "Grand Farewell Concert", they were on their way..
Image courtesy of State Archives, NSW.

Many positive headlines told the story of Barney's success in England...

He returned home to a hero's welcome... and was soon racing again, this time in Brisbane.


To quote from the Australian Dictionary of Biography, " After winning three Australasian titles in Brisbane he became ill on 8 December ..."

Wagga Wagga Express (NSW : 1879 - 1917), Tuesday 12 December 1905, page 2


B. B. Kieran, the champion swimmer, who was taking part in the championship matches at Brisbane last week, became ill on Thursday, and on Saturday night his medical attendants pronounced him to be suffering from appendicitis. He was removed to a private hospital and an operation performed yesterday. Although not out of danger, Kieran is improving.

 Among numerous publications, the Sydney Morning Herald kept reader's informed... Their notice on 23 Dec 1905, was poignant to say the least... as it had been updated over days...

Their next notice even more so...

Please click to enlarge...

Australians weren't prepared to let their hero be forgotten, so a public subscription was mooted once more and the money raised to ensure a lasting memorial was erected in B.B.Kieran's honour.

Kieran Memorial Concert invitation, held on board the ‘Nautical School Ship ‘Sobraon’ on 19 January 1906. NRS 3905, [8/1753.1]. This was one of the events organised to raise money for the Kieran Memorial Fund. The Fund was set up to perpetuate the memory of the champion swimmer. The money raised was used in part to defray the family’s medical and funeral expenses associated and to erect a suitable monument over his grave (L.J Fromholtz, The Sobraon Wonder: a biography of Bernard Bede Kieran (Barney) Kieran, 1991).

Australian Star 19 Jan 1906

©Bob Meade

"Monument at Gore Hill Cemetery. Photograph by Bob Meade. Inscription: Erected by the public as a tribute to the late Champion Swimmer of the World. He won his laurels by courage, self denial, and patient effort. His achievements and manly qualities will long be remembered in this, and other countires in which his victories were gained."

Many of the photos are from the State Archives NSW, unless otherwise noted. You can find even more here...

The site above is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
As such, attribution is give to  © State of New South Wales through the State Archives and Records Authority of NSW 2016.

Thanks to TROVE and also to Australian Dictionary of Biography

Tuesday, 17 April 2018


While browsing through a newsaper recently, it struck me as to just how different reports of yesterday are compared to what is deemed important today. We are overwhelmed with the news of today, with politics and sport and celebrities or 'would be's... We read of natural and man made disasters with such frequency that it easy to gloss over all but the most severe, in a manner of indifference. 

After all, it it hasn't happened today, it's sure to tomorrow and besides, we can catch up on the evening television news, or the radio, or online...or any manner of ways...

Yesterday, in fact, many yesterdays ago, news, as such, was far more limited... maybe you found out what was happening around you on market day, or perhaps a visiting farmer from up the road, a traveller... or in the villages, at the local inn, at church or even in some places, from the town crier. 

Courtesy of State Archives NSW

Local news was all you got, rarely did you hear what was happening in other towns, nevertheless other countries. Today, someone sneezes in London and someone offers a tissue in New Zealand.

 I have written before about the founding of Australia's first newspaper, The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW: 1803-1842)... you can read the earlier posts here and here.

 It not only contained local news, but the government news, proclamations, rules and regulations.. and of course, shipping details, among other things. After all, shipping was the only means of transport from outside of the newly settled colony.

Browsing through the following edition,
Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), Thursday 22 May 1823, page 2 (8)
National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2181883
was quite revealing.

Firstly, we learn that the Magistrate for the week was John Oxley, ESQ. Sound familiar?

 Then we get the prices of necessities... Now that's a lot of bread, wonder if it lasted longer than what we have today?

Market prices were a little different to today's.. 
potatoes 8s. (shillings) per cwt.. 
1 cwt (hundredweight) equals 50.8023 kilos..
8s. in the old money (Australia) was about 80cents...

On to the Ship News...
ships were from all over the place... Calcutta, via Hobart Town..
from the sperm fishery, wherever that was, and of course, whale sperm.. also England, and Port Dalrymple (George Town Tasmania)
They brought people, supplies and news...

Judicial appointments were published, though there does seem to some doubt as to who will ultimately be appointed as Judge of the Colony in this report..maybe not Alexander Forbes Esq. as first mentioned, is it to be Francis Forbes, Esq. instead? (above page)

The Wesleyan Sydney Sunday School Union made the news... and promoted the benefits of sending children to Sunday School.

 1848   Project Gutenberg Australia

A true change of subject... the foundation stone being laid for the Sydney Distillery.. and the hope 'that the settlers would find New Holland's Gin equally as palatable as Bengal Rum.'

Now on to much less serious matters (?)

'unfeeling monsters, called carters and drivers'
William Barber, convict was charged with 'britally beating and flogging a colt'.. that earned him 200 lashes...and transported to Port Macquarie, a much harsher environment, for the remainder of his sentence.
  One of a number of books available through the Publications of Port Macquarie Historical Society.

Today he would be most likely be out on bail with a good behaviour bond...

A 'melancholy task' ..reporting the decease of Nicholas Bayly Esq. late Cashier of the Bank of New South Wales.. who 'left a very large family of children (now orphans)' as their mother had died some 3 years prior after the birth of her ninth child.

Then we read of a bad accident and a poor old woman, who was beaten 'in a most inhuman manner' taking advantage of the fact that her son had been quite injured.

Straight after that, there are a number of 'unhappy men' sentenced to death.. George Richardson, Robert Oldham, Wm. Davis and Ralph Churton. James Smith saved them the trouble by hanging himself prior to the execution of the others.

The hanging of Moonlight and Rogan 1880 Darlinghurst Gaol

Others, had their sentences commuted and escaped the gallows.. however they were given 'labour in irons for life'.

They were Richard Somerton, Charles Curran, James Woods, Joseph Byrne alias Dempsey, and James Woodward.

More shipping news, listing a number of passengers.. 28 in all, on the Lusitania, which arrived on Friday April 25, 1823 from England..


and then a report of the bad weather the ships had faced...

In summary, how does this compare to today's newspapers? 

It seems to be a lot more practical in some ways, more sensational in others and yet they still painted a great picture of life in the colony. Considering that many were illiterate, you can picture those who could read being surrounded by many listening...did they add a bit of drama in their voices, or merely present the news in their normal way.. were there oohs and aahs from the listeners, were they horrified at the list of executions or yell out in agreement? 

We will never know, but what it does show, is that we will always be hungry for news...

Tuesday, 10 April 2018



The Old Court House.. originally a school room...  in white

Plan of Sydney ... 1836 (Sydney: Select Committee on Transportation; J. Basire, lith., 1837), detail; National Library of Australia, digitised

The originals from TROVE... of the first stories.. and below, a much easier selection to read.
Enlarge to read...



Executed convicts bodies were suspended from gibbets to deter other would-be trouble makers.
Simon Barnard.. artist.. painted this as there were few representations of convict life.


Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), Saturday 26 March 1803, page 4
On Tuesday last, the 22d instant, Patrick Gannan, Francis Simpson, and Patrick Macdermot, three of the criminals capitally convicted on the 16th instant, were taken out of the gaol between the hours of 8 and 9 in the
morning, and committed to the custody of the Provost Martial. They were then put into a boat at the Wharf, and, under a guard of constables, conveyed to Parramatta, where they were secured in the watch- house until the following-morning, when the awful sentence of the Law was to be carried into execution.
At eight o'clock on Wednesday morning the prisoners were again brought out, and, in solemn procession, conducted to Castle-Hill, a distance of about eight miles, whither they arrived at half past ten, attended by the Rev. Mr. Marsden. The fatal tree, which had been purposely erected near to the spot on which they had committed the offence for which they were about to atone, was half-surrounded, by the Parramatta Detachment, formed semi-circularly. At a proper distance stood a concourse of spectators, composed chiefly of the prisoners employed at Castle-Hill and places adjacent, orderly assembled,
with their overseers. Mr. Marsden, with his usual fervor, emphatically administered the only consolation the unfortunate men were capable of receiving, the only balsam that could alleviate the agonies of reproaching
conscience. At 11 the criminals ascended a temporary scaffold that had been erected on the end of the cart ; and, when the executioner was about to drive away the vehicle, Macdermot was reprieved. As soon as he descended, Gannan and Simpson were launched into eternity. The latter man behaved penitently during the whole of his confinement ; but the former, as if insensitive of the terrors of his situation, had conducted him-self with unbecoming levity and the near approach of death, when he listened with much attention to the exhortation of the Minister, and we feel the highest satisfaction in adding, also died a penitent.

Macdermot was conducted to the gaol at Sydney, where he remains, with 11 others, a Respite during His EXCELLENCY'S pleasure.

On Monday last, the 21st instant, (as per Adjournment), the Civil Court re-assembled and adjourned to Tuesday, on which day some small disputes were adjusted, and the court adjourned again till Thursday morning when they proceeded to business, and after determining several cases adjourned to Monday next, the 28th instant.



Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), Sunday 4 May 1806, page 3
On Monday morning Herbert Keeling was executed pursuant to his sentence. About a quarter before ten he was taken from his cell, and requested to be permitted to walk to the place of execution, towards which he advanced with a quick pace and much composure, which was however sometimes disturbed by passing objects that seemed to wound his recollection. At ten he arrived at the spot at which his destiny awaited him, and was here attended by the Rev. Mr. FULTON, by whose pious labours he had already confessed himself sincerely benefitted. — He joined in prayer with the Minister with much fervor ; and when given up to the executioner, advanced to the cart from which he was to be launched with an air of confidence ; but when on the
brink of eternity was so much overcome by the dreadful pause that preceded the removal of the cart, that strength forsook him, and he dropped into the arms of death. — While the body remained suspended, corporal punishment was inflicted upon Henry Stanley, convicted before a Court of Criminal Jurisdiction of stealing wheat, and sentenced to receive 800 lashes. The fate of the unfortunate Keeling, it is to be hoped, will have the desired effect, in restraining the frauds and forgeries too frequently practiced upon the Public by men who unhappily for themselves are possessed of talents, which when perverted are turned against the interest of the community, and in the end draw down remorse of conscience and ignominious death.

On the 1st of May was compleated by John Jennings for His Majesty's ship Buffalo a 15 inch cable 120 fathoms in length made of English cordage, and de-clared by Captain Houstoun and his Officers to be executed in a masterly style of workmanship. On Friday it was taken on board and coiled down for the inspection of His Excellency, who is pleased to certify the highest approbation at the accomplishment of a work which in this Colony could scarcely have been hoped.

Last Sunday night between the hours of 8 and 9 four ruffians is attacked and plundered the farm house of T. Phillips at Farm Cove, having treated him with extreme cruelty. When they at first approached the house an alarm was given by the dog ; whereupon Phillips came out, and demanding their business received for answer that they were in quest of some sailors, who upon good information were concealed in his house, which they determined to search. The poor man assuring them they were misinformed readily conducted then in, and at the threshold received a blow on the temple with a huge club, which laid him senseless. They then bound an Otaheitan rug about his head, and beat him mercilessly whenever he stirred. From his wife
they demanded and received some money, notes, wearing apparel, and other articles, among which was a musket : she had resolutely attempted to escape out of, a window, to give the alarm ; but was knocked down by one of the villains who threatened to murder her, if she uttered a syllable ; and after ransacking the place made off with their booty. 

A soldier of the New South Wales Corps brings from Port Dalrymple a beautiful black cockatoo, in perfect health, and so remarkably tame as to be already capable of conversing. The value of this bird is much enhanced by the rarity of its species falling alive into the fowler's snare." It was shot by a ca?an and purchased by its present master, Thomas Bates, under all the disadvantages of a broken wing and a prospect of speedy dissolution. His care and attention however produced a cure, and the humanity of his efforts is rewarded with the succesful attainment of their object. 

On Friday night Elizabeth Hayland, a poor woman, who laboured under one of the severest dispensations of providence, the loss of sight, was burnt in a most dreadful manner by her clothes taking fire as she sat alone by the fire side. The unfortunate woman receives every assistance from the General Hospital that can be afforded her ; but little hope can be entertained of her long surviving the dreadful accident.

John Baker and John Creswell were apprehended at Castle Hill on Friday fe'nnight with a quantity of women's wearing apparel of which they could give no account. They were sent to Parramatta, after an examination committed to the gaol there ; Notice was at the same time sent to Hawkesbury, from whence the articles are suspected to have been stolen, in hopes that the owner or owners may appear.

A bush ranger of the name of Hughs was yesterday fe'nnight apprehended and sentenced by a Bench of Magistrates at Parramatta to receive 200 lashes.
Many losses have lately been felt of poultry ; and these have in general fallen
upon the poor, whose premises were but ill defended against the depredator. 

poor family at Farm Cove in the course of one night lost 18 or 20 fowls, which comprised their whole flock, and similar depredations happen every night.



Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), Sunday 31 August 1806, page 2

At ten o'clock the Court met, and proceeded to the trial of Offenders;

Michael Dowden and Dennis Kaneen being first put to the bar, were indicted for feloniously breaking into the dwelling house of John Bennet, at the Field of Mars, and stealing, therefrom sundry articles of wearing apparel the property of Mary Bryant; who deposed to several articles produced in Court, which by evidence of other witnesses appeared to have been found in the premises occupied by the prisoners.

Richard Partridge, gaoler, at Parramatta, deposed to his having searched the house inhabited by the prisoners ; and having found the property therein; some part of it in the actual wear of Catherine Hickey, who cohabited with the prisoner Dowden. 

Catherine Hickey deposed to the truth of the above testimony, and declared she had received the various articles from the prisoner Keenan who acknowledged that to the fact.

The prisoners being put upon their defence, denied the charge; Keenan, with whom the rebut particularly rested accounting for his becoming possessed of the articles by purchase from Matthew Hoey, some time since executed. To substantiate which he called evidence ; and afterwards set up an alibi, which was supported with much precision and probability. 

The Court having considered the evidence, acquitted Dowden without hesi-tation; but thought it necessary to impress on the mind of Keenan the extreme danger of his condition, as notwithstanding the inefficiency of the evidence adduced, yet private opinion most certainly preponderated against him :—He likewise was acquitted. 

Elias Davis was next put to the bar, and indicted capitally, for having on the 1st of August instant, broke and entered the dwelling house of Robert Broughton, near to Parramatta, with intention to steal therefrom sundry articles of value the property of Thomas Davis ; whose evidence went to say, that about two in the afternoon he left the house, having locked the door, and that upon his return the same afternoon found the door broke open, and his property scattered about the floor.

Samuel Taylor deposed, that between 2 and 3 in the afternoon of the above day, he saw the prisoner running towards the farm house of Robert Broughton ; that his attention being engrossed by his manner, he attentively watched him to the door, where after examining the lock he struck it with a brick bat three times, when it flew from the staple, and the door flew open; that the prisoner then went into the house, whither the deponent followed, and looking in at the door saw him busily employed in throwing some wheat out of a handkerchief ; that the deponent challenged him, and in re-turn received an enquiry from the prisoner, whether he had any concern wíth the house? to which the deponent answered in the negative, but nevertheless avowing a determination to secure him easily affected his purpose.

Here the evidence of the prosecution closed ; and the prisoner being put upon his defence, made use of no other re-ply than a simple denial of the fact 
alleged ; but as the evidence was full, clear and satisfactory, the Verdict of the Court pronounced him Guilty ; where-upon the JUDGE ADVOCATE acquainted the prisoner, that the offence for which he stood convicted was capital, and that the pains of death were a retribution which the law required ; the present situation of the Colony was unfortunately such as to render example necessary to the security of Society, as in the present instance it was unhappily essential to the claims of justice. It was his painful duty, not with any design of adding to the poignancy of his feelings, but the more strongly to impress him with a due sense of his condition, to summon to his 
remembrance a very recent similar act of atrocious outrage from which he had been permitted to escape, under a hope that had been charitably entertained by a Gentleman that must other wise have become his prosecutor, of his contrition and amendment. His guilty courses had at length, however, reduced him to a situation the most awful and distressing : - he was now upon the very brink of eternity ; and the work of his own salvation became his only duty. Sincere contrition and undisguised repentance could alone afford to him the balm of consolation, the hope of happiness hereafter. - The Judge Advocate pronouncing then the awful Sentence of death, the prisoner was taken from the bar.

William Hounslow was next indicted for having on the 24th of August stolen 3 bushels of wheat, the property of Mr. A. Thompson at Hawkesbury, of whose farm he had the charge as overseer ; but this not being sufficient evidence against the prisoner, whose character for twelve years had been unsullied, he was acquitted.

John Stephens was then arraigned and his indictment recited, whereby he stood charged with having, upon the 7th day of June last, stolen from the garden ground of D. Wentworth Esq. at Parramatta, a quantity of linen apparel.

In support of the charge Mrs. M. Ainsley deposed, that on the day stated
she had laid the articles enumerated in the indictment to bleach, and in the evening discovered that they had been stolen ; she had entertained no suspicion of the prisoner, but some time afterwards received information of the things being seen in his box at his own place of residence ; whereupon she applied for a search warrant, and the whole of the property was found in his possession. 
The prisoner in his defence endeavoured to account for this ; but failed, and was found guilty. - Sentenced seven years additional transportation to his former term, which expires in the month of February next.

Michael Bacon alias Burgan was now indicated for breaking and entering the dwelling house of Benjamin Millsat Hawkesbury, and stealing from thence sundry articles of trifling value; to which the prisoner pleaded guilty, and implored the mercy of his Judges -The court cleared, and after due consideration of the case re-opened ; when the Judge Advocate informed the prisoner, that the crime of which he stood convicted upon his own voluntary acknowledgment, was a capital offence, and made him liable to the punishment of death ; but that from a humane exercise of its powers, in 
consideration of his extreme contrition, the Court had found him guilty of stealing to the value of four shillings and ten-pence ; by which verdict his life was saved ; and term of transportation for seven years pronounced upon him, to commence at the expiration of his original term.
The Court adjourned to ten o'clock next day.

Murder. — Francis Burke was indicted for the wilful murder David Freight on the Parramatta road, on the evening of the 2d of August instant, near to Duck River Bridge.
Mr. Surgeon MILKHAM gave testimony, that on the 3d of the month he was called upon to examine the body of the deceased ; and found two severe inci-
sions on the head, which had to all appearance been made with an axe or similar implement ; and that the jaw bone was fractured apparently by the blow of a club ; which several wounds he pronounced without hesitation to have been the cause of death. Catherine Eyres deposed, that on the evening of the 2d August, she, with Mary Caunaughty, accompanied the prisoner at the bar from her house at Parramatta as far as Duck River Bridge, where they parted, the prisoner proceeding towards Sydney, and themselves returning to Parramatta. She further deposed, that upon meeting on the road while Burke was with them, a laden cart, he said he had seen the time when he would have knocked down the two fellows that were with it, and taken the
property away ; that about a quarter after eight the same night the prisoner returned to her house at Parramatta, with John Blundell, who cohabited with the deponent, and assigned as the cause of his return his having met with Blundell, with whom he had some business ; that both the men were much out of breath, which she imputed to their having run a considerable part of the way in order to be in before 8 o'clock, as after that hour they were liable to be taken up by the watch ; and that the prisoner told her that Blundell was in charge of a constable when he met him.
Upon cross examination the deponent said there was no mark or appearance on either the prisoner at the bar or Blundell that could authorise suspicion ; nor after she had heard of the murder did any single circumstance recur to her that could awaken such.
Mary Conaughty deposed much to the same effect ; but with the following addîtions to the foregoing testimony :-That upon meeting with the cart, as already stated, the prisoner at the bar's expressions, being addressed to, and more distinctly heard by herself, were, that " there was some good stuff in the cart; and there was a time when he should not have minded knocking down the two fellows and taking it from them - but this was no place for it." And that upon his return to the house of Catherine Eyres the same evening, he jocosely said he had had cruel sport on Duck River bridge, having there met with a woman much intoxicated, who had a bundle tied up in a handkerchief ; that he enquired what it contained ; and was answered by the woman, 
" have you come for it?" meaning her bundle ; that she did acquaint him with the articles tied up in it, viz. tea, sugar, tobacco, cloth, and some money : the prisoner then concluding his narrative by saying, that if he had been inclined to do any thing it would not have answered, as two men at the instant came out of the brush, who might have given him a good beating.
Owen McNanimy deposed, that about 7 in the evening of Saturday the 2d of August, it being then dark, he met the prisoner at between 30 and 50 rods from the place where the body of the deceased was found ; that the prisoner looked earnestly at him, and then accosted him by name, as he in return did also to the prisoner, whom he well knew, and who asked him (tho' he, McNanimy, was going towards Parramatta), if he had met Blundell going down to Sydney? He however observed nothing to constitute suspicion of his guilt in the charge exhibited. The evidence being closed, the prisoner said in his defence, that having business with Blundell, whom he supposed to be at Castle Hill, he went thither, but learnt that he had that morning (the 2d of August), gone on pass to Parramatta ; that he went thither also, and was told by Catherine Eyres that he had gone onward to Sydney, but would return in the evening : as his business was of a pressing pecuniary nature he proposed going to meet him, and was accompanied part of the way by the women ; that he still continued his route ; and meeting with Blundell opposite to Mr. Laycock's farm the exigency of the moment made his re-turn with him to Parramatta necessary.
In support of what he had advanced he called the testimony of John Blundell, which corresponded ; but contradicting that part of both the women's testimony relative to his and the prisoner's having said that he (Blundell), was in custody of a constable when met by the prisoner that evening.
The Court were much embarrassed by the difficulty of ascertaining periods, as delivered by the different witnesses, so critically necessary in the formation of their judgment. The women averred to having parted with the prisoner at about 7 in the evening ; and at a considerable distance further McNanimy met him about the same period ; after which, by his own and Blundell's account, they met opposite to Mr. Laycock's farm, a distance of between 4 and 5 miles from Duck River bridge ; then returning to Parramatta being at least 8 additional miles, was all accomplished by a quarter after 8. The evidence was not, however, sufficiently decisive; and he was necessarily aquitted.



Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), Sunday 27 November 1808, page 1
COURT OF CRIMINAL JURISDICTION. On Friday the Court assembled ; when
Lawrence Lewis, a servant of Lieutenant LAYCOCK, was indicted for robbing his master of cash (in notes) to the amount of 30£. and upwards on
or about the 23d instant.
Lieutenant LAYCOCK deposed to his having missed the amount of notes in question, out of his bureau which he usually kept locked ; and a 10£ bill being produced, he had every reason to be convinced that it was one of the number stolen from him.
Mary Mills deposed, that the prisoner was at her house on the Rocks several days successively immediately succeeding that named in the indictment, and there paid away several bills ; that on Sunday morning last he entered the house, with one Mary Abramsand tendered a bill of 2£ to pay a debt due from Abrams to the deponent ; but this not being sufficient to answer the demand, in addition to a reckoning due from himself, he exchanged it with
one of 20£ which the deponent changed away to Mrs. Wills. The bill she could not identically swear to ; but she positively affirmed, that the bill she paid to Mrs. Wills was the same she received from the prisoner ; and which he had informed her was the property of his master, from whom he had received it to defray small current expences.
Mr. Serjeant Major Whittel deposed, that on his hearing the foregoing circumstance related, he had at Mr. Laycock's request applied to Mrs. Wills for the bill she had received from Mary Mills, which was immediately given to him, and was now before the Court.
Mary Abrams deposed, that she was with the prisoner several times at the house of Mary Mills ; that he gave the latter a ten-pound bill to change, remarking at the same time that it was his master's, from whom he had received it for the purposes above stated ; and that in consequence of which declaration the, the deponent, considering it her duty to inform his master of the circumstance, ac-cordingiy did so.
Mrs. Wills deposed to the bill before the Court being the same she had given charge for to Mary Mills
The evidence for the prosecution here closed ; and the prisoner being called upon for his defence ; said he had nothing to offer further than a denial of the charge, and his ignorance of the fact, as he had been unhappily inebriated at the time it was stated to have been committed. The Court cleared ; and reappearing, returned a Verdict—Guilty—Death.
In point of character, he made an appeal to several Officers of Rank ; who from a twelve years observation spoke of the prisoner in the most com-mendatory terms, and pathetically regretted the oc-casion that had
thus unhappily united the common duties of humanity with simple candour.
Owen McMahon and Thomas Leeson were put to the bar and indicted, the first for burglariously entering the house, being part of the dwelling house

of Mr. JOHN SLOANE, on the night of the 9th, or on the morning of the 10th insant, and stealing therefrom 20 pieces of blue gurrah*, about 20lbs, of sugar, and other property ; and Leeson for receiving, knowing the same to have been stolen.
Maria Ikin deposed to the house being entered by means of a part of the back wall being taken down ; and the property taken away corresponding with that now produced ; when  Daniel Gilmore, King's Evidence, deposed, that on the night of Thursday the 9th instant, he being then at the house of Samuel Pullen, in the Brick-fields, the prisoner McMahon called him out to assist him in the depredation ; and that the brick wall was taken down by McMahon in his presence, whereupon the deponent, fearing detection, went away, leaving his said accomplice to perpetrate the felony alone ; that he went to the house of McMahonand waited for his return, which was about two hours and a half after, when he brought with him, a bag containing few several pieces of gurrah, about 20lbs. of sugar, and remarked that he had possessed himself of a valuable plunder, to which the deponent had by his conduct forfeited every pretension ; that he nevertheless then gave him a piece of the gurrah, and requested him to tell the prisoner Leeson, who he was persuaded would become the purchaser of the property, (as he, the deponent, had come from Hawkesbury only a few days before in company with Leeson, is whose family he then resided), and who had no doubt of Leeson's inclination to the purchase, that he saw Leeson the next morning,
and advised his calling on McMahon ; which he did, and made purchase of 4 pieces of the gurrah, at 1s. 6d. per yard ; that the deponent sold the piece
given to him in Sydney, and Leeson took those he had purchased up to Hawkesbury in his own cart, on Sunday the 13th ; that the day following, the wife of Leeson observing two constables approaching the house, took the bag containing the gurrah out of her own bedroom, and deposited it at the entrance of a small apartment in which the deponent lay ; from which he was in the act of removing it when he was taken into custody.—He was minutely cross-examined by the Court on the various points of his evidence ; which were collectedly adhered to ; and being then questioned by the prisoner Leeson, whether he had not himself conveyed the bag with its contents to Hawksebury, he replied in the negative ; as he did also to an interrogatory, whether, after he was apprehended he did not refute to carry the gurrah towards the Magistrate's at the Green Hills, adding at the same time that he had already carried it far enough when he brought it up, and it was then their turn to do the same.
Sophia Simmonds, who cohabited with the King's Evidence deposed, that she lived with him at Leeson's at Hawkesbury ; that she saw Leeson when he returned from Sydney, and brought with him a bag containing 4 pieces of gurrah, which his wife cautioned him not to mention in the deponent's presence, but which precaution he said was unnecessary, as he had bought it of a friend of the deponent's husband, meaning Gilmore ; that when the constables came to the house, she saw Mrs. Leeson convey the bag into the apartment wherein Gilmore and herself usually slept ; and that he, Gilmore, was apprehended in the act of removing it from thence. The deponent was repeatedly interrogated whether she had ever conversed on the subject of the robbery since the parties were in custody ; and to every such interrogatory answered positively in the negative.
Patrick Flynn, a constable, deposed, that he assisted to apprehend Gilmore ; whom he surprised in the act of removing the gurrah from the apartment
he chiefly occupied, and accordingly made him a prisoner ; that when desired to carry the bundle he made answer, that he had carried it far enough when he had brought it up from Sydney, and he would not carry it anymore ; that he effected his escape from confinement the night after he was taken ; but was soon again apprehended at a barn in which it was suspected he would be attended by Sophia Simmonds ; and that he afterwards made a
declaration inculpating both the prisoners at the bar. Futty and Field, two other constables, corroborated the last testimony ; and the prisoners being put on their defence ; several witnesses were called by McMahon, whose testimony was in all respects nugatory and irrelevant.
Leeson's defence went to invalidate the testimony of the approver, by perverting, on evidence, its most material points. He, Gilmore, had affirmed on oath, that the bag containing the 4 pieces of gurrah was taken to Hawkesbury by Leeson, in his cart ; which he latter undertook to disprove ; the credence, first, of Charlotte Jennings, who deposed, that she went in Leeson's cart to Hawkesbury with her mother and one Catharine Lynch, and that no such bundle could have been in the vehicle without its being noticed, which was not the case.
Mrs. Osborne, her mother, corroborated this testimony ; and Ann Young, who lives at the stockyard on the Hawkesbury road, positively deposed, that Gilmore on his way out stopped at the milk house, with a bag or bundle, and received from her some refreshment, as he appeared much fatigued ; that at going away he took some dungaree, or gurrah out of his bundle, and gave her two yards in presence of a third person ; that she cut out an article of dress for one of her children ; but on hearing of the robbery gave it up to the Chief Constable at Parramatta, who had forwarded it to Sydney, where it was now produced in Court.—Here Gilmore interrupted the evidence with a vehement denial of her statement.
Richard Hicks deposed, that upon his, Gilmore's return to Hawkesbury, he also saw a bag in his possession ;
Several persons who had seen him on the road, said that he enquired of them whether any person was ahead of him, and being assured there was not, that he then took a bag out of the brushwood on the side of the road wherein it was concealed, with which he proceeded forward, saying that it contained some trifling articles of his own apparel.
In contradiction of the evidence delivered by Sophia Simmonds, the woman cohabiting with GilmoreMorgan Jones deposed, that after Gilmore was made prisoner the woman informed him, the deponent, of the event that had taken place, by assuring him, that " Poor Dan was taken with the bag just as it was brought up ; and was as dead as if a house had fallen on him ;'' adding, likewise, that he intended that very night to have concealed it.
Joseph Nobbs deposed, that to him she had made similar declarations ; the whole of which concurred in defeating a testimony, which in the latter stages of the trial had far more the appearance of diabolical contrivance than reality.
The prisoners having ended their defence, the Court cleared ; and in a few moments returned a Verdict— both Not Guilty.
Thomas Leeson was detained on another charge, and Daniel Gilmore was ordered into close custody.
The Court adjourned to ten o'clock yesterday morning ; when reassembling, William Redmond was put to the bar and indicted upon two counts ; the first charging him with the commission of a rape, and the second with a violent assault upon a girl nearly 11 years old. The trial was rendered peculiarly interesting by the heinousness of the offence with which the prisoner stood charged. The examinations were taken with wonderful precision ; and after a painful investigation, the Court cleared ; and upon re-opening returned a Verdict—Upon the charge of rape, Not Guilty—upon the second charge, of violent assault—Guilty :—whereupon he was sentenced to be imprisoned two years ; and to receive 300 lashes.
The prisoner who had been convicted capitally was then recalled to the bar, to receive sentence of death ; which was pronounced by the Acting JUDGE ADVOCATE in a tone and manner that appeared to make a very serious impression on the mind of the unhappy culprit, whose countenance was strongly expressive of the most lively sense of his condition.


*gurrah cloth was unbleached calico, though it was often dyed once purchased.
It came from India originally and was available in many designs and colours, 
though the unbleached cloth was more affordable.


bench-magistrates-guide  NSW State Archives

The first Bench of Magistrates was convened in Sydney on 19 February 1788. By 1800 sittings were held regularly in Parramatta and the Hawkesbury district, and the use of magisterial proceedings had become widespread in the Colony by the 1820s. As settlement spread during the squatting era, magistrates and their clerks performed an increasingly wide range of judicial and administrative functions, particularly in more remote areas.
The Judge Advocate's Bench of Magistrates, presided over by the Judge Advocate and held in his offices from the time that they were erected, met from February 1788 until the promulgation of the Third Charter of Justice in 1824 when the office of Judge Advocate was abolished and new courts were constituted. In fact this Bench seldom met after 1818.