As people began to flock to ‘The Settlement’, now known as Melbourne, just months after John Batman declared that ” . . . This will be the Place for a Village . . . ” on the 8th of June 1835.  The British governance also sprung into action and quickly swooped in, revoking the Treaty with the Aborigines and imposing their name for the village, their design, and, their “law and order”.  It is incomprehensible to process the fact that the governance of the time would not acknowledge that these ‘savages’ had any right to the land they had had inhabited for some forty to sixty thousand years !!!

John Batman, on the other hand, had always understood that the Aborigines were the ” . . . rightful owners of the soil . . . “.  Interestingly, it was the ‘savages’ that were capable of learning the language and ways of the intruders – not the other way around . . .

From as early as 1837 Captain Alexander Maconochie proposed to recruit members of the ‘Port Phillip’ (as the region was known back then) Aborigines into a roving mounted police force, in the hope that they would become ‘civilised’ and, in turn, teach their families and friends the new ways.  Simultaneously, in the May of 1837, Captain William Lonsdale had sent a request to Governor Richard Bourke for a police force of Aboriginal troopers – both to act as role models for their people as well as perform the function of capturing lawbreakers.  The Governor approved the plan.

De Villiers was the first in charge however, his appointment lasted but a short time as he was considered to be too soft on his troopers – allowing them to indulge in their traditional ways.  In January 1839 the Police Magistrate tried to salvage the Native Police Corps by placing the remaining troopers under the command of the Chief Protector of Aborigines, George Augustus Robinson, however, Robinson was soon seen to concentrate more on the domestic work of the Protectorate, rather than policing the entire district.

January 1842 → Then, along came Henry Edward Pulteney Dana (b. 1820 – d. 1852).

Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas) - Port Phillip - 29 Mar 1842

Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas) – 29 Mar 1842

Commandant, Captain HEP Dana set about to quickly organise and formalise his Aboriginal troopers, providing them horses, uniforms, weapons, food, and accommodation.   He also allowed for rations of European food and clothing for their wives and family members, including children and related elders.  Their food rations were, however, expected to be supplemented by their traditional food and hunting. The Aboriginal troopers families were permitted to live at headquarters.

They had also been promised a salary:

” . . . The rank and file were thus :— Commandant, Captain H. E. P. Dana, £250 per annum ; Second Officer, Mr. W . H. Walsh, £100 per annum ; Third Officer, Mr. W. A. P. Dana (the Captain’s brother), £60 per annum ; Sergeant Henry McGregor, £40 per annum ; Corporal, £20 per annum ; four Privates (natives) at 3d. each per day.

Of course there were, besides, such incidentals as rations, horses, equipments, uniforms, forage, and other etceteras . . . “

Source:   Excerpt – ‘The Chronicles of Early Melbourne – 1835 to 1851 Vol I’ – by Garryowen – published 1888

This equates to the Aboriginal troopers earning around £4 10s. per year, if, they were to work every single day of that year !!!

Quite a contrast to Commandant, Captain H. E. P. Dana at £250 per annum . . .

The commandant proceeded to set rules and regulations in place for his troops.

Rules & Regulations – Native Police Corps c 1846

The following is a transcript of Commandant, Captain H. E. P. Dana’s Rules & Regulations for his Native Police Corps:

[Note at top of Page “For Mr La Trobe on his return”]

Nerre Nerre Warren
November 29th, 1846

Sir,
I have the honor to forward for your Honor’s inspection certain rules and regulations necessary for the Native Police.  Should they meet with your approval I have to request that you will sanction them and allow a few copies to be printed for the use of the Corps.

I have the honor to be
Sir
Your Honor’s Most Obedt Servant
H. E. Pultney Dana

His Honor,
W. Lonsdale Esqr
Melbourne

Rules and Regulations
To be observed and performed by the Non Commissioned Officers and Troopers of the Native Police

First as to Non Commissioned Officers
1st  That they shall exercise towards the Native Troopers under their command the greatest forbearance and humanity

2º  That they shall not hold any unnecessary conversation with the Native Troopers but shall in all respects treat them as persons under their command so that obedience and discipline may be strictly enforced and maintained

3º  That they shall as far as circumstances will permit be orderly and clean in their clothing and accoutrements so that a pattern may be set to the Native Troopers under their command

4th  That should any native Trooper request to see a Commissioned Officer they or he shall report the same immediately or as soon as may be to such Officer

6th  That they shall see that the Native Troopers have the proper Rations served out to them

7th  That they shall at least once a week inspect the clothing and accoutrements of the Native Troopers under their command reporting to the Commissioned Officer as soon as possible any article that may be missing

[Note in Left Margin “This should be done by Mr Dana & his Assists”]

[Note at the Bottom of the Page “The terms Commissioned & Non Comd Officer are improper”]

Second as to Native Troopers
1st That they shall in all things be obedient to their Officers and non-commissioned officers

2º That they shall keep their clothing and accoutrements perfectly clean

3º That should they be ill treated by the Non Commissioned Officers or any other person or persons they shall immediately report the same to a Commissioned Officer

4th  That all reports shall be made to a Commissioned officer through a Non-Commissioned Officer

5th  That they shall behave with respect to all settlers and their servants on whose station they may be quartered for the time being

6th  That it shall be lawful for the chief Commandant or the Commandant of the Division to which they are attached at his discretion to punish any Native Trooper for Desertion or Disobedience of orders

7th  That they shall attend every morning when the Bell Rings for delivery of rations for their Rations and in default shall forfeit the same for the day

8th  That at the Beat of the Drum they shall immediately turn out for parade clean and equiped as they may be ordered and in default shall be punished as a commissioned officer may order

9  That they shall not load or fire their arms without proper orders either from a Commissioned officer or Non Commissioned officer

[Note in Upper Left Margin “How & by What Authority”]

[Note in Lower Left Margin “Punished under what rules”]

No 1  The Officers commanding Divisions when at Head Quarters will take the general routine of duty to be performed upon the Station, alternately

“ 2  Drill Sergeant to parade the men once every day weather permitting

“ 3  A General Inspection will take place twice a year by the Commandant

[Note in left margin @ No. 3 “this should be done constantly”]

” 4  Officers commanding Divisions will Inspect their Men Horses arms and accoutrements every month and report to the Commandant

[Note in left margin @ No. 4 “this should be done constantly”]

“ 5  No Officers Non commissioned Officers or private to appear in the Street unless dressed according to regulations

Troop Orders
1  The Men of the Native Police are forbidden to appear in the streets unless dressed strictly according to order – and at all times the Commandant expects them to be smart and clean.

2  Non Commissioned Officers and Troopers from the Out Stations coming to Melbourne are always to appear dressed according to order, and any one observed walking about in a slovenly and unsoldierlike manner will be punished.

3  The former manner of saluting on horseback by bringing the right hand across the body is to be discontinued.

4  When men Mounted have occasion to pay a compliment, they are to do so by sitting at attention and looking at the person to be saluted in a steady and respectful manner.

5  On foot the men salute by bringing up the hand to the forehead in the usual manner.

6  [Crossed Out:  “The men of the Native Police are not to be employed as grooms or servants.”]

7  The Officers Commanding Divisions will periodically relieve the men of the stations attached to the Commissioners of Crown Lands, by one or two at a time every nine or ten months – but taking care that not more than half the detachment is changed every year.

Troop Orders

1  Officers Commanding Divisions will in future visit their Station, at least once every two months and mention the same in their monthly reports.

2  The Commandant calls upon the officers generally for a more active and Zealous discharge of their duties, for upon their example and exertions entirely depend the efficiency of the Corps.

The duties of the Officers of the Native Police are never ending, their presence is required everywhere, and it is solely by their intelligence, unceasing vigilance and watchful Superintendence of their men that that protection can be afforded to the Country which the public have a right to expect and the Commandant feels assured, that this can in no way be more effectually carried out than by their constant personal Superintendence of the different Stations, and more than ordinary care in visiting & patrolling those districts infested by Robbers, Blacks and Bushrangers.

3  Several instances having occurred of Men losing their Horses, by allowing them to stray away from not taking the usual precautions to secure them or by putting in paddocks improperly closed.  The Commandant makes known that he will punish severely any man who becomes non-effective by losing his horse, and should the horse be not eventually found the man will be charged with the full value

Instructions for the Native Police

Officers and the Non Commissioned Officers commanding Stations will make themselves as soon as possible acquainted with all the Bush Roads and pathways in their respective vicinities so as to enable them to take every advantage of any information they may receive as to the Route, or hiding places of any Bushrangers (and the soldier will be required to have the same knowledge) they will give directions to stop all suspicious persons on the Roads, or in the bush and to demand their passes, (if they appear to be prisoners) but they must be cautious in doing this so as not to give offence.

They will cause occasionally any suspected Houses to be visited and be watched if any information has been laid.

They will be careful in seeing the Mens Arms and ammunition are not placed in any situation where they can be seized by improper characters, or where they cannot lay their hands upon them at night for attack or defence.

They are at all times to be in readiness when called upon by any Magistrate to accompany him forthwith to assist in the capture of any Bushranger or Runaways he may receive intelligence of, or to act under his orders in quelling any riot or disturbance.

Whenever any of the Native Police are sent from one Station to another they will invariably have the hour on which they commenced their journey marked on the letter or Despatch; if necessary the rate of travelling will be mentioned, otherwise it will not be more than six miles an hour, and when they are to be out more than a day or two, or are going to any Station, they will have a Route or pass shewing the time to which they and their Horses were Rationed.

For the undermentioned offences such punishment as the Government may think fit

No 1  Desertion

      2  Carelessness

      3  Disobedience

      4  Disorderly Conduct

      5  Drunkenness

      6  Absence from Parade

      7  Fighting

      8  Stealing

H.E.P.D.

Uniform for the Native Police
Undress for Officers

Blue frock coat, Brass seales, oval buttons with the Crown, ten on the breast, & four on the Shirt, two on each Sleeve, Blue forageing Cap, gold band, half inch lace on the Peak, chin Strap, patent leather Stock, Blue trousers, with double stripes red, an inch and quarter wide, or white trousers Wellington boots.  Brass spurs, Patent leather sword belt, light Cavalry Sword.

Blue Shell Jacket, Scarlet cuffs and collar.  Sleeves & back piped with Scarlet, braided & embroidered hook & Eyes.

Non Commissioned officers

Blue Shell Jacket, Scarlet cuffs and collar, Sleeves & Back piped with Scarlet, braided round the edge

Brass bell Buttons, blue forage cap with red band, with number of Divisions in front.  Blue trousers with double Scarlet stripes inch wide, Cavalry Boots.  Shoulder belt & pouch, girdle yellow lace on red Morocco leather, three inches wide

Black Patent leather sword Belt.

Arms, Carabine two Pistols & Sword

Privates

The Same

There were many conflicting opinions about the usefulness of the Native Police Corps:

” . . . So far as actual experiment proved, the Australian Aborigine had not been a successful repressor of black or white outrages, or capturer of criminals.  As a police subsidiary the modern black-tracker may be useful, though his powers in the search of white criminals have been much exaggerated.  An experiment of this sort was tried in the early days, and, after being tested for years, was given up in despair as an abominable, costly toy, which did more injury than otherwise.  In 1840, a notion prevailed that the inauguration of a mounted corps of blackfellows to be used as a supplementary bush police, would be a capital thing and work wonders, especially in the detection of aboriginal evil doers ; and accordingly the Legislature of New South Wales voted in the Estimates for 1841, £1000 to start the experiment.  This was to be appropriated to the payment of a salary of £100 to a Superintendent, and the balance for rationing, clothing, and equipping thirty-five Aborigines as policemen.  The organisation was soon after effected, and the expenditure as usual in all such projects, swelled considerably.  Instead of one officer the corps had a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in command.  A depot or barracks was formed at Narree-Narree-Woran, near the Coran-Warabil Range, some twenty-three miles from Melbourne, in the trans-Dandenong country, and hence it operated for years, making a great noise occasionally, its chiefs quarrelling, and in one instance, as related elsewhere, with nearly fatal results.  Periodical excursions used to be taken, ” cooked” reports furnished to the Superintendent, any quantity of row and bustle, with little or nothing of utility to show.  Instead of the native police ” force,” this piece of useless extravagance should be called the “farce,” for it was actually one, relieved by a touch of tragedy which sent its second officer for years to Pentridge.  It went on for some time, and, to add, if possible, to the absurdity, every year lopped off some branches from the main body, whilst increasing the ornamental part until 1847, when the corps actually numbered five white officers to hector four booted and belted blackfellows, the rate of pay graduating from top to bottom at from £5 to 1s. 9d. per week !

The rank and file were thus :— Commandant, Captain H. E. P. Dana, £250 per annum ; Second Officer, Mr. W . H. Walsh, £100 per annum ; Third Officer, Mr. W . A. P. Dana (the Captain’s brother), £60 per annum ; Sergeant Henry McGregor, £40 per annum ; Corporal, £20 per annum ; four Privates (natives) at 3d. each per day.

Of course there were, besides, such incidentals as rations, horses, equipments, uniforms, forage, and other etceteras.  The nuisance was persisted in until it became simply intolerable, when it was abated, to the regret of no one except the few individuals, black and white, pecuniarily, and even pennily interested.  This miserable abortion would soon have died out, but its life was prolonged by the unexpected breaking out of the yellow fever, which so changed everything that the coloured contingent shared the same fate as other branches of the public service in a considerable augmentation . . . “

Source:   Excerpt – ‘The Chronicles of Early Melbourne – 1835 to 1851 Vol I’ – by Garryowen – published 1888

Port Phillip Patriot and Morning Advertiser (Vic) - Letter from De Villiers to Dana - 22 Jan 1847

Port Phillip Patriot & Morning Advertiser (Vic) – 22 Jan 1847

Much controversy has remained as to the suspected large numbers of Aborigines killed by Captain HEP Dana and the Native Police Corps, which were not accurately represented in the official records.

” . . . Mr Villiers, the conductor of an expedition into Gipp’s Land, for the recovery of a white woman forcibly detained by the blacks, has made a charge against Capt. Dana and the native police, who were employed on the same service, of having committed a wholesale massacre of the aborigines in that district; skulls and bones are said to have been found by Mr. Villiers and his party in great quantities; an investigation was to be made into-the circumstances . . . “

Source:  Excerpt – ‘Perth Gazette & Western Australian Journal’ (WA) – published 20th March 1847

POI Australia’s ‘Chronicles of Aus’ Victorian Timelines document the incidents that extensive research have revealed . . .

The Varied Duties of the Commandant

& the Native Police Corps

The duties of the Native Corps and their captain varied greatly during its 11 years of existence.  We have documented the following which are not included in POI Australia’s ‘Chronicles of Aus’ Timelines:

1843 – Calming the Mob

” . . . In the year 1843 an election took place for the return of a Representative to the Sydney Legislature, Melbourne returning one member.  Two candidates stood for election, viz. :  Mr. Henry Condell, a brewer, and the first Mayor of Melbourne; and Mr. Edward Curr, better known as ‘ Circular Head’ Curr ; the former was a Protestant, the latter a Roman Catholic, who was defeated by a large majority.

” The defeat so enraged the Catholic party that a mob of them, low ruffians, assailed the Protestant party with sticks and stones, breaking their doors and windows, and endangering the lives of the inmates.  Amongst those who suffered the greatest damage were Mr. H. Frencham and Mr. J. Green, both auctioneers.  The latter was prepared for the mob, and when his premises were attacked he fired on his assailants, wounding some of them.  This repulse had the effect of causing the mob to retreat out of the range of fire.  The firing brought quickly into action a troop of mounted black police, under the command of Captain Dana, who charged the mob in gallant style, making them fly in all directions ; but he was allowed to carry off  the wounded, two of whom were taken to the doctor.  The scene of this engagement was in Elizabeth street, opposite the present Telegraph Office.  Captain Dana and his black police did good service in restoring order, for he patrolled the town the whole night, dispersing the Catholic mob wherever they assembled.  Mr. Green was brought up at the police office for firing, but was honourably acquitted . . . “

Source:   Excerpt – ‘The Chronicles of Early Melbourne – 1835 to 1851 Vol II’ – by Garryowen – published 1888

1845 – William Dana Fined

” . . . 5th June, William Dana was fined £5 for thrashing Gideon Manton.  Both belonged to the “swell” portion of creation, and Dana, hearing that the other had been talking too freely about him, knocked one evening at the residence of a Mrs. Musgrove, at Collingwood, where Manton was staying, and demanded an explanation.  This was not given, and a horsewhip leathering was administered to the reputed maligner, who found refuge in a neighbouring house . . . “

Source:   Excerpt – ‘The Chronicles of Early Melbourne – 1835 to 1851 Vol II’ – by Garryowen – published 1888

18 May 1846 – William Dana in Trouble again …

” . . . William Dana, brother of the Commandant of Native Police, of which force he was second
officer, was, with a boon companion, named Croker, comfortably enjoying a cigar in one of the boxes or dress circle.  The “blowing of the cloud” soon attracted the olfactory attention of the proprietor (Mr. Smith), who rushed to the footlights, declared smoking to be prohibited, and requested the offending party to desist.  Dana coolly replied, ” He would see him hanged first,” whereupon Smith invoked the assistance of Sugden, the Chief-Constable, who happened to be in the house, but he declined to interfere until there was a breach of the peace, with which he was soon gratified.  Smith, summoning some of the employees to his assistance, proceeded to eject Dana, who showed fight, and cuffed and kicked all round, Croker remaining a passive, amused spectator.  Smith was very partial to the display of large white shirt fronts, and in the fray one of these fineries was irretrievably demolished.  Dana was at length overpowered and cast forth, when he fell into the clutches of another batch of Philistines — the Chief-Constable and some of the police—by whom he was unceremoniously hauled off to the lock-up, but was bailed out during the night . . . “

Source:   Excerpt – ‘The Chronicles of Early Melbourne – 1835 to 1851 Vol I’ – by Garryowen – published 1888

1848 – Judicial Duties

” . . . A very aggravated assault was committed at Brighton, 24th June, 1848, by Dr. Adams operating upon Mr. E. L. Lee, the Private Secretary of Mr. Latrobe.  The parties met near Lee’s residence, and a row was got up about a pony on sale by a Mr. Manby, and which the other two wished to secure.  Adams seized Lee by the throat, and half-throttling him with one hand, horse-whipped him with the other.  Mutual friends endeavoured to effect an amicable arrangement, and some days after Lee received a note from his assailant, enclosing a £25 cheque as a solatium, with a request to apply the amount to charitable purposes, but it was indignantly returned.  Dr. Wilmot and Mr. J. B. Were endeavoured to settle the quarrel, but the case was carried into the Police Court, and the presiding Justices (Mr. James Smith, Dr. Fletcher, and Captain Dana) inflicted a fine of 1s., and £4 15s. costs . . . “

Source:   Excerpt – ‘The Chronicles of Early Melbourne – 1835 to 1851 Vol II’ – by Garryowen – published 1888

Oct 1849 – Captain Dana’s Attitude to “Civilising Savages”

” . . . Mr. Mitchell says that the Protectorate “has only been effectual in convincing the community of its uselessness.”  Captain Dana, who has held the office of Commandant of Native Police for eight years, attributes the failure of all quack civilizers of the natives to “mistaken ideas of the way to civilize savages, forgetting that, before a savage can be civilized and converted to Christianity, he must be subdued; which the present system has no power of effecting.”  This officer recommends the drafting of able young blacks into the native police force, where they would be subject to proper control, taught discipline and obedience, and employed with some advantage to the country . . . . “

Source:  Excerpt – ‘Moreton Bay Courier’ (Brisbane, Qld) – published 6th October 1849

1850 – The First Levée

” . . . The first levée of the first Governor of Victoria was held at 2 p.m., and attended by 450 persons.  His Excellency’s suite consisted of Mr. Edward Bell, Private Secretary and Aide-de-Camp; Mr. E. P. S. Sturt, the Superintendent of  Police ; Captain Dana, the Commandant ; Mr. Lydiard, Lieutenant of the Mounted Police, and Lieutenant Maxwell, of the 11th Regiment, in command of a guard of honour from the same corps . . . “

Source:   Excerpt – ‘The Chronicles of Early Melbourne – 1835 to 1851 Vol II’ – by Garryowen – published 1888

28 Nov 1850 – The Separation Fancy Dress Ball

Captain HEP Dana was amongst those invited to this prestigious occasion which marked Victoria’s successful separation from the colony of New South Wales:

” . . . Dana, Captain Commandant Mounted Police; De Graves, William, a Sportsman; Dana, Mr., Officer of Mounted Police . . . “

Source:   Excerpt – ‘The Chronicles of Early Melbourne – 1835 to 1851 Vol II’ – by Garryowen – published 1888

1851 – Gold at Warrandyte, Victoria

” . . . On 26th July Michael and Habberlin revisited the scene of their previous success ; and on the 4th August further discoveries were communicated to the Secretary of the Reward Committee.  They were said to have, with only spade and tin dish, found amongst the alluvial deposits gold in minute particles, but tolerably abundant.  The place was an agglomeration of quartz rock, and every spadeful of soil washed over the quartz by the rains and floods contained from 7 to 10 grains of gold.  They did not go more than 24 inches below the service.  Some of their samples had been tested by Dr. Greeves, whose certificate was forwarded.  The place was 16 miles from town on the Yarra [Anderson’s Creek, Warrandyte], near Major Newman’s station. 

Consequent upon the information, official and otherwise, received by the Government, Mr. Latrobe, then a Lieutenant-Governor, with an Executive Council of his own, took measures to authenticate matters as they were really going on out of town ; and by his directions Captain Dana was again despatched as an observation emissary.  He proceeded accordingly to the Pyrenees, and on 3rd August a despatch was received from him stating amongst other facts ” that there were about 60 men employed at the diggings, who on an average were making an ounce of gold per day.”  The implements used in washing were the ordinary tin pot and dish : and he thought gold abundant as at Bathurst would be obtained there when the primitive operating appurtenances were replaced by quicksilver and cradle apparatus . . . “

Source:   Excerpt – ‘The Chronicles of Early Melbourne – 1835 to 1851 Vol II’ – by Garryowen – published 1888

1851 – Gold Fever at Clunes, Victoria

” . . . The diggers mainly consisted of town artizans and station hands, who had abandoned their several handicrafts and the tending of sheep and cattle.  Every hour new faces were showing themselves — some well-provided for the change of circumstances into which they had been plunged, and others diametrically the reverse.  Captain Dana and a contingent of his black troopers were up there, scattered through the immediate neighbourhood.  In the course of some days Dana returned to Melbourne, and on his way back he passed numbers of people tramping on to the Clunes . . . “

Source:   Excerpt – ‘The Chronicles of Early Melbourne – 1835 to 1851 Vol II’ – by Garryowen – published 1888

” . . . The “gold escort” had been established by this time, with an armed guard, which at times included “native police,” a force which had been the best, if not the only, success as yet in our “civilizing” efforts with the aborigines . . . “

Source:   Excerpt – ‘Personal Recollections of Early Melbourne & Victoria’ – by William Westgarth’ – published 1888

Mar 1851 – William Dana Shot

” . . . ONE POLICE OFFICER SHOOTING ANOTHER. — 18TH MARCH, 1851.

Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas) - 7 Feb 1851

Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas) – 7 Feb 1851

William Hamilton Walshe was placed at the bar upon an indictment containing four counts, viz :—

(1)  shooting at William A. P. Dana, on 14th January, at Narre Narre Warren, in the district of Dandenong with intent to murder ; (2)  with intent to maim ; (3)  maliciously wounding ; and (4)  doing grievous bodily harm.  Mr. Stawell appeared for the prisoner.

The parties had been brother officers for six years in the corps of Native troopers.  About 10 p.m., Dana was walking near the Police Station, when Walshe rode up in a state of much excitement, and when three or four yards off Dana, discharged a pistol at him.  The ball entering Dana’s right side under the ribs, passed through his body.  A sergeant hearing the report found Dana stretched on his face and hands, and crying out that he was shot.  Walshe was sitting quietly on horseback looking on, having a pistol in his hand.  The sergeant turning to the horseman said, ” Mr. Walshe ! you are a cowardly fellow to do this ;” and Walshe’s answer was, ” I wish more of them were in it.”  Walshe then coolly rode off to the stables, put up his horse, and retired to his quarters, where he was found by Trooper Tolmie with a carbine in his hand and ” wishing he had another shot at Dana.”  Though he presented the piece at the trooper he was disarmed, placed under arrest, and subsequently sent for trial before the Criminal Sessions.  Dana remained for days in a condition of much danger.  It was elicited that the prisoner, who had not been long married, suspected the other of carrying on a clandestine correspondence with his wife, of which he accused him a few days before ; but the next day they became reconciled and shook hands as friends.  Even on the very morning of the shooting, Dana had lent Walshe a horse for his wife to ride out with him.  The prisoner, it was asserted, had been subject to fits of irritability and occasional eccentricity, superinduced, it was thought, by injuries received several months previously in a brush between the Native police and a tribe of blacks on the Murray.  These infirmities used to be much intensified when he indulged in drink, and he was by no means a teetotaller.  The defence was simply a plea of insanity, and several medical witnesses supported his theory.  One of them, an M . D , was himself manifestly in a state, if not of “D.T.,” at least in something so very much approaching it, as to provoke a severe rebuke from the presiding Judge.  He was, however, most emphatic in regarding the prisoner ” as mad as a hatter.”  The jury convicted on the fourth count, and the prisoner was sentenced to seven years’ hard labour.  The Judge, in a very feeling address, remarking that the circumstances were such as would justify a verdict on the first count, and had the jury so found, nothing would have saved the prisoner’s life.  As to insanity, there was nothing in the evidence to sustain it, or to warrant a belief that the prisoner was not in full possession of his senses when he committed the heinous deed, or that he had ever been otherwise, except when under the influence of drink . . . “

Source:   Excerpt – ‘The Chronicles of Early Melbourne – 1835 to 1851 Vol I’ – by Garryowen – published 1888

 

View other important events in Victoria’s History . . .