Monday, October 19, 2009

1803 inquests

Sydney Gazette in 1803

Saturday 2 April 1803
On Monday last George Patterson (a labouring man), was picked up in the Back Row, apparently in a state of intoxication. He was taken into a house and put to bed, but some hours after was found cold and lifeless. On Tuesday an inquest was summoned, whose verdict was, DEATH in consequence of an apoplexy.

Notes. NSW burial V18031776 2A/1803 PATERSON GEORGE
Buried at the Old Sydney Burial Ground.


Sunday 10 April 1803
On Saturday the 2d inst. the Provost Marshall went with an inquest to Garden Island in consequence of a Native being shot the preceeding evening, while plundering the grounds of Captain Scott, at that place. After a very minute investigation of the circumstance and its antecedent causes, the Jury brought in a verdict "Justifiable Homicide." The canoe of the deceased was found to be full of maize, melons, &c. taken out of the above grounds ; and although several others had assisted in the depredation, yet upon the appearance of Captain Scott's servants, they leaped into the water, and got clear off. It also appeared, we are sorry to say, that several white men were among the natives, who, there is every reason to suspect, had assisted and encouraged them in this delinquency, but who then also escaped apprehension. A fishing-boat was found near to the native's canoe, which, as it appeared without an owner, was confiscated to the public use.

Some of the natives have since named the white men, who assisted them in the maraud ; and although such evidence may not be resorted to, yet the police are determined to use every vigilant exertion to bring them to justice, upon the first misdemeanor in which they may hereafter be implicated.


Sunday 21 August 1803
On Monday morning last, between seven and eight o'clock, the body of Andrew Kenelly, private in the New South Wales Corps, was found suspended and lifeless. The unfortunate Man had first attempted to effect the crime of suicide by stabbing himself twice. He left a Letter for a Comrade in which he declared himself accessory to a false accusation of the Deput Commissary's, malversation of the King's Stores, and implicated John Thorogood, who was consequently taken into custody. On Tuesday an examination took place on Thorogood, before the Judge Advocate and several magistrates, when Charles Cathcart, a private Soldier, declared that he was intimately acquainted with the deceased, and verily believed that the rash and fatal step he had taken proceeded from a mental derangement, under which he had unfortunately laboured. James Harris, private Soldier, also gave evidence to the same effect, but nothing then appeared in support of the charge upon which Thorogood was examined. The prisoner was ordered to remain in custody. The Coroners Inquest brought in a verdict of Lunacy.


JOSEPH LUKER, a Constable, whose time of duty commenced at twelve o'clock, went off his post, as is conjectured, at or rather before day-light, with a design of examining the brush behind Back Row ; but was shortly afterwards found on the edge of the Road leading to Farm Cove, a breathless Corpse, shockingly mangled, and with the guard of his cutlass buried in his brain ; the sheath lay near the body; and his hat more than 20 yards distant. The wheel of a barrow was found near the spot, the carriage of which was traced to the yard of Sarah Laurence, at the opposite corner of Back Row, whose Skilling was inhabited by persons on whom suspicion of the Robbery had fallen.

The carriage of the Barrow appeared to be stained with blood : from which and other circumstances William Bladders, alias Hambridge, was immediately apprehended, with several other suspected persons.

The velocity with which the necessary measures of Enquiry were adopted, could only be equalled by the Public Anxiety to discover the Perpetrators of the inhuman act. The New South Wales Corps were out under Arms, and blockaded the Town at every avenue, while the strictest search was made throughout ; and all persons of suspicious character were thereby secured, and brought before the Coroner's Inquest, which assembled between the hours of nine and ten. John Harris, Esq. Surgeon of the New South Wales Corps, strictly attended the Enquiry, and inspected the Body ; as did also Thomas Jamison Esq. Surgeon General, and Messrs. Mileham and Savage, Assistant Surgeons to the Colony.

On the head of the deceased were counted Sixteen Stabs and Contusions ; the left ear was nearly divided ; on the left side of the head were four wounds, and several others on the back of it. The wretch who buried the iron guard of the cutlass in the head of the unfortunate man had seized the weapon by the blade, and levelled the dreadful blow with such fatal force, as to rivet the plate in the skull, to a depth of more than an inch and a half.

The Search was animated by the Presence of HIS EXCELLENCY ; the LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR was also present ; every Officer, whether Civil or Military, exerted himself in endeavouring to trace the Assassins. The Coroner's Inquest, which was composed of Twelve very reputable Inhabitants, after an Enquiry of Five Hours returned a Verdict of WILFUL MURDER against William Bladders, alias Hambridge, and some other Person or Persons unknown. The Prisoner was consequently committed to close Custody, and several others were detained on suspicion.

A man was seen lurking about Cockle Bay in the afternoon, whose appearance was such as to create a strong suspicion of his being accessary to the above crimes. He was described to be rather tall, wore a blue jacket, and then had a small bundle with him. Parties were immediately in quest of him, and a Trooper was dispatched to Parramatta with the Hu and Cry. Avenging Heaven directs the Hand of Justice, and the MANES of the Deceased inspires us with Indignation and Resentment !

Notes. NSW Burial - V18031817 2A/1803 LOOKER JOSEPH

Curiously, the Sydney Gazette  has a follow-up article that describes LUKER/LOOKER's headstone:

Sunday 6 November 1803
"A grave-stone has lately been erected over the head of the late unfortunate LUKER, with an Inscription and Epitaph descriptive of the circumstances of his death, and of which, as the catastrophe ingressed Public attention, we literally subjoin a copy:-

Sacred to the Memory of
JOSEPH LUKER, Constable;
Aug 19, 1803, aged 35 years
Ressurexit in Deo
My midnight vigils are no more;
Cold sleep and peace succeed;
The Pains of Death are past and o'er,
my wounds no longer bleed.
But when my murderers appear
before JEHOVAH's Throne,
Mine will it be to vanquish there
And theirs t'endure alone

At the head of the stone, which is four feet in height, the head and bones appear as a "Memento more" with the addition of a Cutlass, as by a weapon of that decription the skull of the deceased had been most inhumanely fractured."

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