The following is an account of a trial in the Supreme Court regarding Thomas Shone and the bushranger Martin Cash, who held up and robbed Thomas and his Family, and James Bradshaw in 1843
R. v. Wilson and others
Supreme Court of Van Diemen s Land
Montagu J., 22 April 1843
Source: Hobart Town Advertiser, 28 April 1843
Before the business of the trials began, the Attorney-General brought to the notice of his Honor, an application which had been forwarded to him by Mr. Shone, in reference to the expences of his daughter, as a witness in the case of the "Queen v. Pratt."
His Honor tartly replied, that it was not a judicial matter; he declined to say anything on the subject.
John Wilson, John Smith, and James Simpson, the three runaways from Brown s River, were charged with burglariously entering the house of the Rev. E. W. Gibbs, at Brackman s Bay, on the night of the 6th of March, and stealing therefrom a gold watch of the value of £20 and some other articles.
The case was simply as follows:- The inmates of the house having retired to rest, with the exception of Mr. Gibbs, that gentleman heard a knock at the back door, between 9 and 10 o clock; on enquiring who was there, a voice answered "Jones," and said, that he wanted to see Mr. Gibb s assigned servant, Henry Bowden; witness called Bowden up and told him to see what the person wanted, and, going to the door for that purpose, the three prisoners rushed into the house, and, after tying Mr. Gibbs s three servants, they kept him a close prisoner in the parlour, while they ransacked the house; they were there about two hours, and took away a gold watch, three silver spoons, and one or two other things. The prisoner Wilson was formerly in the prosecutor s service and Mr. Gibbs swore positively to the three men.
Master Robert Gibbs and Henry Bowden were called to substantiate Mr. Gibbs s testimony; and the Attorney General called Thomas Clarke, one of Mr. Manley s servants, who so meritoriously assisted in capturing the robbers, when his Honor said that he could not see why so many witnesses should be dragged before the Court; the expence attending such a proceeding was very great, and the Government had been lately complaining of it; in this case an expense of some £20 would be incurred, while the evidence of Mr. Gibbs, and of the man, who opened the door, was all that was necessary. The Magistrate, through caution, might have deemed it proper to examine all the witnesses, but it was for the Attorney-General to use his discretion, as to the witnesses that might be required. His Honor threw this out as a suggestion for the consideration of the Attorney General, and expressed his regret in having to do so.
The Attorney-General, as public prosecutor, was placed in a very awkward position by his Honor s observations. How frequently did it happen where prisoner were defended by Counsel, that he claimed to have all the witnesses called that were examined before the Magistrate, and if they were not produced, to ask why such and such evidence was not produced? The learned advocate had known prisoners acquitted for that very circumstance, and he felt that the public would regard this remark of his Honor in the light of a censure upon himself as the public prosecutor.
It was a principle in law, and it was also due to a prisoner, to have all the witnesses called that were examined before the magistrate, in order to give him an opportunity to cross examine them, even if they were not examined by the crown. Upon these grounds, he, the Attorney-General, felt called upon to offer these remarks, and if he had been irregular in doing so, he begged his Honor s pardon for the course he had pursued, but, in a community where censure was so freely dealt out, and where his conduct was likely to be misconceived, even by a mere legal objection taken by the learned Judge, he thought it a duty to himself to make these observations. The learned gentleman concurred with his Honor, that in the present case, it was not necessary to call so many witnesses; there had been nine summoned, when three would have proved the case, but the magistrate thinking, probably, that the prisoners would have been capitally indicted, supposed all the witnesses would have been required, and had the prisoners been so indicted, in his, the Attorney-Generals view of the case, some of them would have been wasted.
His Honor disclaimed any intention to convey any censure to the crown prosecutor, but merely to throw out a suggestion. The magistrates here were not so experienced as they were at home, and unless the Attorney-General dealt with the dispositions as he thought fit, grant expences what he incurred. If his Honor were Attorney-General, he should, in the exercise of his discretion, and if he thought proper, strike out all the witnesses except the prosecutor, who ought to have the onus of proving his case. His Honor was bound to allow all the witnesses their reasonable expences, and it mattered not to him how many warrants he signed, but the Government was complaining of the expence, and he had received a letter, not long ago, upon that very subject.
The Attorney General, with great suavity, here said:- "I thought your Honor said, in reference to Mr. Shone s case, that the payment of the witnesses expences was not a judicial matter?"
His Honor:- It is not a judicial, but a ministerial matter; will you ask this man (the witness) any more questions, Mr. Attorney?
The Attorney-General:- No, your Honor; nor shall I call any other witnesses after what has passed.
The prisoners were then found guilty, and sentenced to be transported for life.
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The trial for the day being concluded, the Attorney-General produced a copy of the regulations, relating to the payment of the witnesses expences, and requested his Honor to permit them to be made more public, in order to enable persons to apply for their expences in a proper manner, as from the applications which the learned advocate had received, there seemed to be some misunderstanding on the subject.
His Honor very warmly censured the manner in which the Attorney-General had brought the matter thus publicly before the Court. If he had wanted to complain of any officer of that Court, or of himself, his course would have been to proceed by affidavit, the present proceeding was vindictive and unnecessarily irritating, and calculated to excite public agitation, in the usual manner, customary in this Colony. His Honor also intimated that the present course was intended to cast odium upon the Court and its officers, and odium upon the Judge.
The Attorney-General most decidedly disclaimed the slightest intention of insulting the Court; his object was in obviate some difficulties that seemed at present to exist in the obtaining of witnesses expences.
After some further discussion, which was carried on with considerable warmth, on the part of the learned Judge, and with great firmness, but proper respect, on the part of the Attorney-General, his Honor asked for the communications which had been forwarded by Mr. Shone, which he had no sooner glanced at, that he exclaimed that all this had been done for the purpose of having it in the newspapers! His Honor could see, he said, very clearly through the whole affair! He then refused to make any allowance in the case; and, to an observation from the Attorney-General, relative to memorizing the Govenor, his Honor said, they might memoralize whom they ple and write to whom they thought proper; it was for him to do his duty in the best way he could
Source: Tasmanian and Australian Advertiser, 26 May 1843
To the Editor
SIR, - Understanding that certain of my neighbours have forwarded a requisition to the Sheriff, to request him to convene a public meeting, to take into consideration my conduct when the bushrangers were at my house, and also the subsequent proceedings, I have to request, that you will announce publicly, that as far as I am concerned I am most willing and anxious that my conduct on that occasion should be fully discussed, and if the public deem me deserving censure, that I may be doomed to linger under the insult and injury I have received from the Local Government.
As, however, I have forwarded a petition to the Secretary of State, praying for compensation, and as I therein stated I meant to publish the same, I request you will insert the petition and documents as an advertisement in your next three numbers - I am, Sir, your humble servant,
TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE LORD STANLEY, HER MAJESTY S SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES.
The Humble Petition of Thomas Shone, of New Norfolk, in the Island of Van Diemen s Land, Farmer
RESPECTFULLY SHOWETH. - That your petitioner arrived in the colony in the year 1816, and forthwith took possession of a location of land, granted to him by Governor Macquarie; and petitioner has since that period received other grants, from subsequent Governors, for improvements; and your petitioner, from 1818 till lately, resided peaceably on the land first granted to him.
That your petitioner, from the period of his arriving in the colony, has, in addition to his free servants, always had under his charge convict servants, that have been assigned to him by the Local Government.
That your petitioner has nearly three hundred acres of land in cultivation, large flocks of sheep, and also large herds of cattle, &c.
That, from his first commencing as a farmer, your petitioner s conduct towards his assigned servants has given satisfaction to the Government - there not being a single instance of censure recorded against him until the 2lst of March now last past.
That, notwithstanding the large sum of money (upwards of five hundred thousand pounds, as your petitioner has been given to understand) that is annually expended by the Home Government for the safe custody and maintenance of the convicts - and upwards of thirty-five thousand pounds annually drawn from the colonial revenue for the protection of the colonists by means of the Police - and yet your petitioner avers that the colonists are not sufficiently protected, neither from the runaways from the various stations and road parties, who, having nothing to stake but their lives, not unfrequently escape from the penal settlement of Port Arthur.
That, about four months since, three desperate characters, named Cash, Jones, and Kavenagh, escaped from Port Arthur, and forthwith commenced plundering, in a most systematical manner, the settlers in the districts of Brighton and New Norfolk, not unfrequently by drafts huddling together into one room from five to twenty persons, whom they have usually bound, and threatened with immediate death if the least resistance should be made; that armed bodies of free and convict constables have been used to pursuit of these men: that, on one occasion, five armed constables were stationed to protect an inn called "The Woolpack," which the three bushrangers daringly gave notice that they intended to attack: and that, nevertheless, these desperate men did attack the inn, and bound the inmates together, and then fired upon the armed constables, who hurriedly returned the fire, when one of the bushrangers was seen by a constable to drop, from a bullet he received; yet with the advantage of five to two, the armed constables almost immediately ran way, when one received a wound in the back, and another a wound in the fleshy part of the leg.
That up to this date the bushrangers are at large, so that your petitioner has been compelled to send his wife and daughter from the country, and your petitioner s friends believe he and his family are not safe in remaining in the neighbourhood of his own property. That although your petitioner s stacks and barns are insured against fire, such insurance your petitioner is informed does not protect him from any act of the bushrangers. That your petitioner has been and still is unable personally to superintend the cultivation of his farm or the protection of his stock, and with the threat held over himself, his family and property, no one will even remain on the premises unless by compulsion.
That your petitioner following the advice of his friends intends at a future period not very far distant giving publicity to this petition in the colony, and entreats your Lordship to believe, not out of any disrespect to the high office your Lordship holds, nor for one moment imagining that should this document ever reach your Lordship that you would deny your petitioner that justice which his case demands, but for the purpose of your petitioner clearing himself among his fellow colonists (by the publication of the annexed documents) of the stigma cast upon his character by the chief authority of his being deficient in firmness and in moral and natural courage, and of being a supporter of the bushrangers, and so degraded in the estimation of the Government as even to be unfit to have charge of assigned servants. And in order by giving publicity on the spot to this petition to your Lordship your petitioner may openly defy refutation or contradiction.
And your petitioner humbly draws your Lordship s attention to the length of time that is required in appealing to the secretaries of State, and that however just and honorable Her Majesty s Secretaries of State may have been and may continue to be, still from the circumstance of such appeals as the present being generally accompanied with secret exparte explanations from the authorities chiefly interested, the Honorable the Secretaries of State have unfortunately hitherto been too frequently misled, and have often times indicted still deeper injury on the applicants seeking justice through them.
And your petitioner is without redress in the colony, and therefore trusts your Lordship will think proper that fair and reasonable compensation should be awarded to your petitioner; firstly, for the property stolen from his dwelling by the crown prisoners absconding from their place of punishment; secondly for the harsh and unjust deprivation of petitioner s assigned servants; thirdly, for the serious direct expenditure in maintaining his family and self at a distance from home; and lastly, the indirect loss caused at your petitioner s farm and stock stations in consequence of your petitioner s absence - all of which loss your petitioner affirms is solely attributable to either the negligence the inefficiency, or the culpability of those whose duty it is to keep in security the doubly-convicted offender under punishment at Port Arthur.
And your petitioner as in duty bound will ever pray, &c.
Dated the twenty-sixth day of April one thousand eight hundred and forty three.
We the undersigned free persons were present during various portions of the time when the bushrangers Cash, Kavenagh, and Jones attacked and remained in Mr. Shone s house at the Back River. The whole of our party were unarmed. The bushrangers were thoroughly armed. Eleven of our party were bound, and obliged to sit on the floor. One fowling piece was always ready for the shoulder; and it would probably have been instant death to several, had any movement been made.
Were we to be placed in the same situation again, we should act as we then did. There was not a possibility of our taking them. We were five only untied, sitting on chairs, and each of the five could have been shot before any one could have reached the door, or before the men who were tied could have risen up from the floor.
Had we been oversighted enough to have attempted a rush, the bushrangers possibly might have run away, but the probability is that every soul would have been put to death or wounded before they would have left the place.
All that were present were:
Mr. Bradshaw )
Henry Ruff ) All tied together
John Pridmore ) and made to sit on
Thomas Sneed ) the floor.
Jeremiah Bailey ) )
Richard Headney ) Free )
Robert Bunker ) ) Mr. Shone s
Edward Knight ) Ticket-of ) Servants
Benjamin Stoken ) leave )
Charles Boswell ) Assigned servants )
Thomas Storey ) taken away )
Mr. Thomas Allen Shone (under age)
Mr. Ferguson (left the colony)
Signed THOS. ALLEN SHONE
MARY ANN SHONE
CHRISTOPHER JACKSON Martin Cash Bushranger
The above eleven with two ticket-of-leave and four assigned servants amounting with petitioner to eighteen, Mr. Ferguson (who has left the colony) making up the nineteen, the total
The undersigned hereby certifies, that he (the undersigned) was on the bush road at the Back River, New Norfolk, with three of his servants, conveying a load of wheat to his residence; that he was sitting on the cart, and the men walking by its side, when suddenly three armed men came up from behind, and each presenting a fowling-piece at self and men, commanded us to halt; the undersigned and men were then tied together by one of the bushrangers, the other two keeping guard: that thus bound the undersigned and his servants were compelled to march in front to Mr. Shone s house: that the undersigned whispering to his men that should there be any firing from Shone s to fall down on their faces, one of the bushrangers said the undersigned had too much to say, and that he would soon settle accounts with him: the undersigned was compelled to answer when Mrs. Shone called to know who was there: that the undersigned has read that portion of Mr. Shone s petition which describes what took place at his residence, and it is perfectly correct: that the undersigned that same night went over to the Police Magistrate and related what had occurred, and it was afterwards taken down in writing at the police-office: the undersigned also states that the bushranger who stood sentry at the door of the inner room, over him and the rest of the party, had his fowling-piece ready to fire the whole of the time, and never had but one double barrel gun in his hand ruing the time he guarded them.
Colonial Secretary s Office, 21st March, 1843
SIR, - I am directed to acquaint you, that the Lieutenant-Governor has had before him the deposition of Mr. James Bradshaw, taken before the Police Magistrate at New Norfolk, relative to the robbery at your house by three armed bushrangers, on the 22nd of February last. After a perusal of the deposition, his Excellency is of opinion that the conduct of the whole party on the occasion alluded to was reprehensible in the highest degree, and calculated to increase the confidence of the bushrangers. His Excellency has observed, that in the first instance, six men were left with only one armed bushranger, and that subsequently there were fifteen men guarded by two bushrangers, of whom one had a run in each hand. His Excellency indeed cannot but be apprehensive that all the individuals concerned were influenced by a culpable indifference to the public safety, if not a desire to favor the depredations of these men, who were, it appears, permitted to plunder the house, without the slightest resistance being offered by those present, many of whom remained passively looking on.
It must not be forgotten, that in allowing settlers to avail themselves of the services of the prisoners of the crown, it is the duty of the Government to take care that the charge thus delegated to private individuals, should be entrusted only to persons capable of maintaining that discipline from which it is of paramount importance that convicts should not be released, until they have given proofs of amendment; to maintain such discipline requires on the part of the master, not only moral conduct, but firmness, and that common amount of natural courage, the absence of which must excite contempt in the minds of the convicts.
In the present instance, the Lieutenant-Governor considers that a lamentable deficiency of these qualities has been betrayed; and his Excellency is therefore of opinion that it can no longer be safe or proper to intrust to you the guardianship of convicts, and his Excellency has accordingly directed instructions to be issued for the immediate withdrawal of your assigned servants. -I am, sir, your obedient servant.
G. T. W. BOYES
Mr. Thomas Shone, Back River,
Police-office, New Norfolk, 22nd March, 1843
The Lieutenant-Governor having directed that the prisoner servants assigned to Mr. Shone shall be withdrawn, Mr. Shone is requested to return the men to this office forthwith.
THOMAS MASON, P.M.
Mr. Thomas Shone, Back River
Mr. Shone, in consequence of my observing in the public journal of my wife being in custody, charged with having property in her possession belonging to you, and your wife swears positively to them, I hereby caution you not prosecute or cause to prosecute her, as in consequence of your so doing, we will visit you, and burn you, and all that belongs to you.
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Colonial Secretary s Office, 2nd May, 1843.
SIR, - I am directed to acknowledge the receipt for your letter of the 22nd ultimo, applying for repayment of the expenses incurred by you on account of your daughter s attendance as a witness on the trial of Pratt and Eliza Cash, and to acquaint you that the Lieutenant-Governor cannot interfere. - I am, Sir, your obedient servant.
Mr. Thomas Shone (of New Norfolk),
Martin Cash - Bushranger Martin Cash was Tasmania's most notorious bushranger although his escapade lasted only a brief 20 months from Boxing Day 1842 until August 29th. 1843 when he was captured in Hobart.
A rebellious Irishmen he spent much of his life in and out of gaol, finally finding his way and passing away peacefully in Hobart in August 1877 aged 69.