Sunday, December 18, 2011


Here is a newspaper report of the trial  of JOHN MOORBEE (MOWERBY) and THOMAS BEASLEY:
The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, Tuesday 2 February 1830
[Campbell Town Assizes. Justice Stephen presiding.]
J. Beasley and J. MOWERBY were arraigned on two indictments, for stealing in the house of Mr. McKune, and also for a burglary in the house of Mr. Harbeson.
It appeared that the prisoners were living on the estate of Mr. McArthur, and the offences charged in the indictment were committed upon persons residing upon the same estate.
Mr. Sydney Stephen conducted the defence.
The trial of these persons lasted from the morning, until half-past-nine at night.
We present our readers with a summary of the circumstances adduced on the trial.
It appeared that a stratagem was resorted to by the prisoners to obtain an entry into the house of McKune.
They feigned some trivial excuse to the person who challenged them at the door, to know the object of their visit.
The pretext appeared sufficient to induce him to open the door, and they accordingly entered and plundered the house.
The proceedings of the prisoners, however, at the house of Mr. Harbeson, assumed a much more audacious character.
Having effected an entry, they proceeded to tie the person (J. Graham) who had charge of the house, in the absence of the proprietor, and when they had reduced him to this state of powerlessness, they proceeded to rifle the house.
After having robbed the house, Graham heard them say, that they would next proceed to the house of the scourger -- the person appointed to carry into effect the sentences of corporal punishment, awarded by the Magistrates.
It further appeared, that they did go to the house of the person denominated "the scourger" who, upon their coming in, fired at them and wounded one of the prisoners.
The circumstances by which they were subsequently identified to be the persons who had visited Mr. Harbeson's, were that at a short distance from "the scourger's" dwelling, a bundle was found, containing articles which had been stolen from the house of Mr. Harbeson,  
--- a handkerchief was also found with the bundle which, it was proved had been seen in the possession of one of the prisoners a few days before; it was stained with blood, and when the prisoners were taken, it was stated that a wound was found upon the person, of one of them which accounted for the blood upon the handkerchief
--- It was presumptive evidence for the Jury to consider, whether or not this wound was inflicted by "the scourger" when his habitation was invaded.
---The strong corrobarative circumstance against the prisoners, was a peculiar nasal intonation in the voice of one of them, which (Graham) Mr. Harbeson's servant, recognized on hearing him speak in the jail, as the same voice which he had heard on the night the prisoners attacked his master's house.
The Jury at half past nine o'clock, found a verdict of ---Guilty. 
Mr. Justice STEPHEN, this morning, passed sentence of death upon Beasly [sic] and MOWERBY.
The Judge proceeded to pronounce sentence of Death upon the four prisoners found guilty of capital offences that day, after which, the business of the Àssize being concluded, His Honour set off for town.
How fascinating! I did not know there were 'scourgers' employed to flog recalcitrant convict workers on colonial estates like that of Mr McArthur in 1830.
I have since come across this practice occurring on other large pastoral stations, including one owned by Mr Richard Rouse in the NSW central west.