Robert Jillett - Sydney & A New Trial in 1803
MUSTERS AND LISTS FOR NEW SOUTH WALES AND NORFOLK ISLAND, 1800 - 1802. List of Expired or Emancipated Convicts and Free People, off the stores in 1801.
Ref. No. AE070, Ship Hillsborough, Elizabeth Bradshaw, resident at Sydney, Ticket No. 066, arrived free.
[No reference to Robert Jillett in convict lists. Possibly under his alias, ELSTON
but more likely that serving convicts were excluded from these lists].
HRNSW 28 March 1803
GOVERNMENT AND GENERAL ORDER
28th March 1803
The General order of the 18th instant is annulled.
The quantity of salt meat sent from the Cape by the Admiral [Sir Roger Curtis] on that station enables the Governor to ................(relaxation of strict rationing previously in force)...... "off stores settlers can exchange salt beef at 8d. and salt pork at 1s. per lb; [for] wheat at 8s. per bushell.
[This is intended to encourage settlers to refrain from slaughtering their breeding swine]. Background to Robert Jillet s subsequent theft of pork from H M Stores.
SYDNEY GAZETTE AND NEW SOUTH WALES ADVERTISER, Saturday April 2, 1803 (Vol.1, No.5) - final page, under shipping news: "..........and on Wednesday came in the Little William, R. Jillet, owner" arrived at Sydney from the Hawksbury River, Wednesday 29th March 1803.
SYDNEY GAZETTE AND NEW SOUTH WALES ADVERTISER, Sunday April 10, 1803 (Vol.1, No.6) - almost whole front page, account of the trial of Robert Jillet, death sentence passed for theft of 77lbs salted pork from the government store. Evidence given by the prisoner incriminated James Healey (Hailey, Haley) as an accomplice. Transcript as follows:
Court of Criminal Jurisdiction
At ten o;clock the Court opened, and ROBERT JILLET, Labourer, stood indicted, for that he, the said Robert Jillet, on the 6th day of April, in the year of Our Lord 1803, at Sydney, in the Territory of New South Wales, with force and arms, 77 pounds weight of Salted Pork, value £1 10s of the lawful money of Great Britain, the Goods and Chattels of our Sovereign Lord the King, out of the shops or out-house adjoining His Majesty s Stores at Sydney aforesaid, then and there being, feloniously did steal, take and carry away, against the Peace of Our Sovereign, His Crown and Dignity, and against the Statute in that case made and presented.
The evidence for the Crown being called, John Croker, Soldier in the New South Wales Corps, deposed, that on Wednesday the 6th inst. he stood Centry at the Provision Store, between the hours of 3 and 5 in the afternoon; that he saw the prisoner pass by him with an empty barrow, and afterwards go into the yard belonging to the said Store, taking with him the barrow; that he remained in the yard about a quarter of an hour, when he came out with two bags upon the barrow, which he proceeded in wheeling away; that the deponent called to him, but that the prisoner went onward until he had gone beyond the deponent s post, and returned no answer.
That a Light-horseman standing near to the deponent, he ordered him to bring the prisoner back; that he had said it was not his duty, but afterwards did bring back the prisoner, who returned without his barrow. The deponent asked what the bags contained, to which the prisoner answered, "the sweepings of the Store". The deponent ordered him to bring back the barrow, in order that he might be convinced as to the truth of what he said, with which the prisoner complied, requesting at the same time that the deponents would suffer him to wheel the barrow into the yard of the Store, from whence he had taken it, and that he would let him see the contents of the bags. This done, the prisoner opened the bag which lay uppermost, and showed to the deponent some damaged bread; upon examining the other, he found it contain a quantity of Pork, of which he accused him of having robbed the Store. To this the prisoner made answer, "I hope you will not make it known, for if you do, it will be the destruction of my family, and perhaps I may be hanged." He several times begged that the deponent would suffer him to return the meat, in consideration of his family, and that he would make hil any acknowledgment; but that he, (the deponent) assured him, that he would not betray his trust for 5 ol.
Here the Judge Advocate asked the deponent, if he had ever lost sight of the barrow from the time of its going out of the yard to that of its being brought back, to which he positively answered that he never had lost sight of it.
The deponent further said, that immediately after he had taken the prisoner into custody, he had dispatched the Light-horseman (who had brought the prisoner back) to the Sergeant of the Guard, and that he (the deponent) gave immediate information to Mr Laycock, that he had detected a man in robbing the Store.
The prisoner objected to that part of the evidence which stated, that the Light-horseman had brought him back, for that he had called to him to return, and that he did so.
W. Barnfield, (Light-horseman), deposed, that he was, at the time the felony was committed, standing at the door of the horse-barrack, that he saw the prisoner pass him with two bags on a barrow, and that the centinel desired him to search Jillet and to bring him back; that he called to the prisoner who returned as stated by the former evidence; that the centry, very shortly after the prisoner had wheeled the barrow into the yard, came out and ordered him to go for the Sergeant of the Guard; he immediately went, and returned with a Corporal and one Private; that upon his return he saw the bags opened. one of which contained a quantity of pork; he afterwards went to the cooperage, and there assisted in searching for the cask out of which it had been taken, and which the prisoner himself pointed out.
W. Alcock, Clerk to the Deputy Comissery, deposed, that in consequence of his being informed by Barbfield of the above circumstance he went immediately to the Sore, where he saw the prisoner in charge of the centry, standing by two bags on a barrow, one of which contained a quantity of por?: Of this he acquainted Mr Chapman, who demanded of him the keys of the Store, which he delivered to him. At Mr Chapman s order he weighed the pork, which proved to be 77lbs. he also weighed what remained in the cask, which was 240lbs. He here stated, that a cask of pork generally weighs 318lbs. and that what remained in the cask, added to the quantity found in the prisoner s possession, amounted to 317lbs. nett weight. He further deposed, that a number of casks of beef and pork, His Majesty s property, had been landed from the Bridgewater, of which he had taken a regular account, but of which, on comparing the books, one cask was deficient; this, he could take upon himself to say, was the identical cask so missing, as it exactly corresponded with the others, and, moreover, as the word "Limerick" was marked upon it, which he had not seen on any cask prior to their being landed from the Bridgewater.
W.N. Chapman, Esq. proved the cask found concealed in the cooperage to be the property of the Crown.
T. Laycock, Esq. gave evidence, that at the instance of the centinel he had gone into the cooperage shortly after the prisoner was taken into custody; and that, upon searching for the cask out of which he supposed the pork to have been taken, one was pointed out by the prisoner; he saw the contents weighed both of the cask and bag, which together amounted to 317lbs.
Here the evidence closed, and he set up a defence, which contained nothing that could possibly alleviate his own guilt; but went on to criminate James Healey, who was also in custody upon the charge. He lastly called several Gentlemen of respectability for a character, who spoke highly favourably of him.
The JUDGE ADVOCATE summed up the evidence, and the Court, after much consideration, returned a Verdict of GUILTY!
The JUDGE ADVOCATE now came to the last and most painful duty of his office, and after a pathetic and interesting admonition to the prisoner, he pronounced Sentence of Death upon him.
The prisoner was returned to his confinement, and at half past 12 the Court broke up.
SYDNEY GAZETTE AND NEW SOUTH WALES ADVERTISER, Sunday April 17, 1803 (Vol.1, No.7) - details of James Hailey s trial, giving further details of the robbery and Robert Jillett s involvement.
Bench of Magistrates
Monday, April 11
This day a full Bench sat for the examination of such offenders as might be brought before it, when James Hailey stood indicted with having aided and assisted in stealing Meat from His Majesty s Stores, and in which he had been implicated with Robert Jillet, now under Sentence of Death.
Peter Douglas being sworn, deposed, that he was an attendant at the Store, and that he had three or four times seen the prisoner Hailey (exclusive of his Ration) give pork to Jillet; that he had seen him bring a bag which Jillet afterwards took away; and that he had seen Jillet take pork out of the bag, which he put into his own bag, along with his own Mess.
The Court interrogating him ans to the quantity that might have been so given by the prisoner to Jillet, he replied, that he supposed it might have been from 14 to 16lbs and that it was in three or four pieces.
Joseph Coates being sworn, deposed, that he had seen the prisoner take pork out to His Majesty s Stores; and that he had seen him take meat out of the cask, which he gave to Jillet without weighing it.
John Croker, private soldier in the New South Wales Corps, who stood centinel at the Store, and there apprehended Jillet, being interrogated by the bench whether he on that day had seen Hailey go out at the front gate of the Store, or whether he supposed he had got out the back way, replied, that he must have gone out the back way; for that had he come out the front gate he should have apprehended him likewise.
W. Alcock, late clerk to the Deputy Co,,issary, being sworn, deposed, that he had for some time previous to the detection that had been made, strongly suspected the prisoner, and the attendants generally, of improper practices, and that he had made those suspicions known.
R. Sidaway deposed, that he heard the centinel say, after Jillet had been made prisoner, that the Cooper had gone.
The Magistrates having no room for doubt of the prisoner s guilt, sentenced him to receive Two Hundred Lashes, and to be otherwise disposed of as His Excellency should judge proper.
SYDNEY GAZETTE AND NEW SOUTH WALES ADVERTISER, Sunday April 17, 1803 (Vol.1, No.7) - detailed account of Robert Jillett s reprieve at the scaffold, sentence commuted to life imprisonment at Norfolk Island. Hailey flogged at the scaffold.
Wednesday, April 13
At ten o clock this morning, the New South Wales Corps and Inhabitants attended at the place of execution and Robert Jillet the Criminal under sentence of Death, and James Hailey left the Gaol; Jillet appeared at first little affected at his situation; but when the cart reached the Provision Store, for robbing of which he had been convicted, he burst into tears, as he also did at the upper end of Pitt s Row, when passing by the avenue which led to his former habitation. Here, the recollection of his family overwhelmed him with an anguish which, if possible heightened as he approached the intended place of execution. Hailey had read several passages of Scripture to him on the way, to which the Criminal paid much attention, but afterwards upbraided him in harsh terms, declaring that he had not assisted in concealing the cask found in the cooperage, (the circumstances of which are stated in the trial of the prisoner in our last week s paper).
When arrived at the awful spot, the prisoner got out of the cart, and was received by the Rev. Mr. Marsden, who had attended him while under sentence, and who now emphatically performed the duties of his function. Jillet again ascended the cart, and, after he had been delivered over to the executioner, his Reprieve was received and published by the Provost Marshal. Convulsed with unspeakable joy and gratitude, for so unexpected an extension of mercy, he fell motionless, and for some moments continued in a state of insensibility;
When he recovered, he was taken back to his late confinement.
James Hailey, late cooper at His Majesty s Stores, now heard his sentence read, in pursuance of which, he received 200 lashes under the gallows, an example, by which we earnestly trust others may be deterred from the commission of such offences.
The Store attendants at Sydney, Parramatta, Castle Hill, and Hawkesbury, were indiscriminately ordered to attend on the occasion, to be spectators of the punishment.
[ Note: Reference to the prisoner breaking into tears when passing the upper end of Pitt s Row on recollection of his former habitation and family is consistent with his living with Elizabeth Bradshaw, who had a house in Chapel Row. Though not married, their sons William and James were subsequently christened on Norfolk Island, with their sister Susanna.]
HISTORICAL RECORDS OF NEW SOUTH WALES 13 April 1803
GOVERNMENT AND GENERAL ORDER
3th April 1803
The Governor anxiously hopes that the example intended to have been made this day by the execution of the convict sentenced by the Criminal Court to die, for having robbed the King s stores, and the punishment awarded by the magistrates inflicted on the other, who was equally guilty, will deter others from committing those crimes, a repetition of which will prevent the Governor extending His Majesty s grace to those who may in future have the temerity to commit such acts as strike so deeply at the very existence of this colony.
On this occasion the Governor considers it incumbent on him and what he owes to His Majesty;s service and the public, whose interests, as well as the prosperity of this colony and the real welfare of its inhabitants, it is his duty to watch over, promote, and protect, to inform every description of His Majesty s subjects resident or stationed in this colony that it is a duty equally imposed on them, collectively and individually, to detect and bring forward those, however high their rank, or low their situation may be, who in any wise abuse the public trust reposed in them, or who may commit any robbery on the public stores, either by violence or fraud.
And as a proof of the vigilance of those who are actuated by the same motives of honourable duty which marked the soldier-like conduct of Private Croker, of the New South Wales Corps (who was centinel at the store and detected the robbery, which he brought forward like an honest man and a good soldier, although offered a tempting reward for its concealment), will not pass unnoticed, the Governor has directed the treasurer of the goal fund to present Croker with fifteen pounds sterling - not as a reward for having done his duty, but as a mark of the Governor s appropriation of his conduct.
SYDNEY GAZETTE AND NEW SOUTH WALES ADVERTISER, Sunday April 17, 1803 (Vol.1, No.7) - Various bits and pieces of interest. HMS Buffalo gave a shipboard party on Tues 12th April; sailed for Norfolk Island on Thursday 14th (later delayed until Saturday 16th).
Sailed on Thursday last for Norfolk Island and from thence to proceed for the Moluccaus and Calcutta, His Majesty's Ship Buffalo, Capt. W. Kent, Commander
On Saturday the 16th instant and two following days a number of Prisoners, convicted of misdemeanors, were shipped on board the Buffalo for Norfolk Island, Robert Jillet was also put on board, with Hailey, implicated in the same offence, and several of the Store Attendants, whose conduct has been such as to render them suspected. Several persons were permitted to go at their own request, some to accompany their husbands, and others from a desire of a change of air.
Robert Jillett and James Hailey were subsequently transported to Norfolk Island on Buffalo, Captain W. Kent, departed Sydney 16 April, voyage reported later by Capt. Rhodes (whaler) of the Alexander to have taken 17 days. Arrival on Norfolk would have been on or about 2nd May 1803.
At time of departure of the Buffalo for Norfolk Island, the armed tender Lady Nelson was also in port at Sydney. The Alexander (Captain Rhodes) was later one of the first non-government ships allowed to enter the Derwent, coming up the River on Friday 10th August 1804. Rhodes men struck and killed the first whale taken in the Derwent on Sunday 12th August 1804], this being claimed as a personal deed by one man in particular, Jorgen Jorgensen].
Note: Searches have been conducted by the research staff at the Macquarie Library in Sydney for the Reprieve. They are at a loss as to where it could be, but had never heard before of a prisoner with two reprieves and this one should have been in the Governor’s papers! They advise that a lot of documents were lost in an uprising.