Monday, November 9, 2009


15 November 1832 Thursday

On Tuesday, a coroner’s Inquest was assembled by MAJOR SMEATHMAN, at the SHIP INN, Parramatta-road, in consequence of the body of an individual named THOMAS CUNNINGHAM, having been discovered, the previous day, by a servant of DR. RAMSAY’S, couched in the hollow of a white gum tree, to which spot, the man was attracted by the strong effluvia emanating from the tree, situated remote from the road, about half-a-mile, in nearly an impervious part of the bush. The body was found coiled up, and under the left side was a bundle of cloths, which the deceased had in him possession at the time he left Sydney, about three weeks before, and at twenty years distance, his hat was found, containing a pass from LIEUTENANT-COLONEL SNODGRASS. One of the shirts in the bundle was marked with blood, but how, or in what manner, no evidence was forthcoming to solve; MR. JEANNERET, who attended professionally, gave it has his opinion, that there were no marks of fractured bones, but from the decomposed state of the flesh parts, it was impossible to say, whether he met his death by a wound. After jury had sat for six hours in deliberation, without any evidence being adduced, that could throw light on the way in which the deceased came to his death, they returned the following verdict;- “This jury are of opinion, from the state of extreme decomposition in which the body of the late THOMAS CUNNINGHAM had been seen by the, and the total want of evidence, they cannot decide on the actual cause of this death.” A coffin was provided, and the remains removed for interment.

NOTES. This sad story was also reported by the Sydney Gazette in some detail on 15 Nov 1832.

MYSTERIOUS DEATH. - An inquest was convened on Tuesday last, by C. T. SMEATH MAN, Esq. Coroner for the Sydney district, at the Ship Inn, on the Parramatta Road, on view of a body discovered the day previous on the Dobroyd estate. It appeared, that as two of Dr. Ramsay's men were passing through the bush on Monday, they smelt a most disagreeable effluvia ; one of them remarked that there surely must be a dead body not far off, and the other, in consequence, proceeded in the direction from whence the stench proceeded, into an almost impervious scrub, where he found the body of the deceased in the hollow of a large tree, about five feet in diameter. He immediately hastened home and related what he had seen to his master, who transmitted the information to the proper authorities. On the jury proceeding towards the spot, the effect produced on the air by the decomposition of the remains was so powerful that they were scarcely able to perform their painful office. The body was coiled up, and lying on the left side; a bundle containing clothes and other necessaries in travelling, being placed under, as if to answer the purpose of a pillow. The tree in which it was deposited was a white gum, which had at some former period been hollowed by fire, and was situated about half a mile from the road at Iron Cove bridge. At a distance of some twenty yards from the body, was a black hat containing a pass, dated 19th September last, giving a description corresponding with the deceased, stating the bearer's name to be James Cunningham, late a private of H. M. 50th regiment of foot, and that he had permission to pass from Sydney to the interior in search of work ; it was signed by Colonel Snodgrass. In the bundle was a dirty shirt, the collar of which bore marks of blood, though not saturated, and on the body was one apparently clean, as if they had been changed just previous to death. Four goannas ran up the tree, and the animals of the bush had preyed so very lavishly on the remains of mortality that the thorax and other parts of the neck, together with various portions of flesh from the rest of the body, were missing. Doctor Jeaneret examined the body, and certified that none of the bones were fractured, but it was in such an advanced stage of decomposition, as to render it impossible to decide whether a wound had at any time been inflicted. The jury were somewhat divided in opinion ; the idea of some being that the deceased had been murdered, and the majority of opinion that he had placed himself in the tree and died a natural death. After much deliberation, however, they agreed upon the following verdict - "That this jury are of opinion, from the extreme state of decomposition in which the body of the late Thomas Cunningham has this day by them been seen, and the total want of evidence, that they cannot decide on the actual cause of his death."

In the latter part of the afternoon, a young woman arrived, who stated herself to have been the wife of the deceased ; that he had accepted the commuted allowance, and arrived lately in the colony with herself and child, but being reduced to a state of utter destitution, they placed the child out to nurse, she went to service, and the deceased left Sydney last Wednesday three weeks, to seek for the means of supporting them up the country, taking with him the things just as found in the bundle. It also appeared that he had been seen passing the Plough Inn on that afternoon."

Genuinely heart-breaking. His NSW BDM burial entry
V18321495 16/1832 CUNNINGHAME, THOMAS, AGE 42


12 November 1832 Monday

On Thursday an inquest was convened at the KING’S ARMS, York-street, on the body of MICHAEL TOWNHEND, who came to his death the previous day under the following circumstances:- On the 6th instant while driving a cart, the animal becoming restive, he fell out, and the wheel injured his head, causing his death in a few hours. The Jury returned a verdict of Accidental Death, and levied a deodand of one shilling on the horse. (note deodand spelt this way in report, could be demand)

Notes. From Wikipedia: Deodand is a thing forfeited or given to God, specifically, in law, an object or instrument which becomes forfeit because it has caused a person's death.


22 November 1832 Thursday

On Sunday an Inquest was held at the WHALERS ARMS, Windmill-street, on the body of a man names DISS-D MOULGUIT, a native of the Isle of France, who met his death under the following circumstances; Deceased and a man names JOHN PETERS, both belonging to the Clementine, having quarreled, they came on shore to fight, when PETERS struck the deceased a violently blow on the side of the head, which caused his immediate death. DR. BLOOMFIELD, who was in attendance, having examined the body, and given it as his opinion that the blow was the cause of his death the Jury returned a verdict of manslaughter, and PETERS was committed under the Coroner’s warrant to take his trial for the offence.


8 November 1832 Thursday

On Sunday an Inquest was convened by MAJOR SMEATHMAN, Coroner for Sydney, at the BRITISH STANDARD TAVERN AND HOTEL, on the body of a man names JAMES ROSE, who was drowned of Friday week last. It appeared in evidence that ROSE was a man holding a ticket-of-leave, and obtained his living by working a wood boat, when on the day above mentioned being of LONG NOSE POINT, a squall capsized the boat, and he was drowned. The body was picked up off GOAT ISLAND. Verdict--Accidentally drowned.

No BDM entry found.

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