Capt JAMES WILLIAM FISH 1794 - 1830

Capt James William Fish 

Born 15 Dec 1794 and Baptised 4th Jan 1795 at St Johns Church New Windsor Berkshire England, son of Robert Fish and Sarah (nee Law).

1794 15 December - Birth - Windsor Berkshire

1795 4th January - baptism - St John's Church New Windsor, Berkshire England

1814 22 February -Madras Almanac in 1815 that states that ‘James W. Fish’ a ‘free mariner’ arrived in Bengal from England on 4 July 1814 on board the East Indiaman Asia, Captain Tremenheere. Left Portsmouth on the Asia for Madras

1814 J W Fish arrives in Calcutta from MADRAS on HEIC ship EUROPA Ref Calcutta Monthy Journal Aug 1814

1820 18 March, James William Fish leaves Calcutta India on the American Ship Favorite and departs with Matilda Batho and her family to Sydney Australia. Ref: The Sydney Gazette 22 July 1820 

1820 18 July -arrives as chief officer of the Ship Favorite Ref: (Reel 6050; 4/1747 pp.131-2)

1820 19th August - Petition for permission to settle in the colony

1820 Sep, Bound for Penang and Calcutta. Re attested copy of muster roll Ref: (Reel 6018; 4/3521 p.260)”

1820 16 Nov, James (aged 26) married Matilda Batho (nee Booker) in Sydney, NSW, Australia See the following website detailing the 1st inhabitants of Sydney Australia

1821 4 March - It was known as the Geary Gang and made its mark in Ku-ring-gai on 24 March 1821 by robbing the “Dwelling house of... James William Fish” in what is now Killara. Fish’s wife Matilda, his brother- in-law William Booker and sister-in-law Eliza Booker “being in the said Dwelling house (were) then and there put in Bodily fear and Danger of their lives”.

1821 19 June, James Fish acquired an 80-acre portion of land originally granted to his brother-in-law, Edwin Booker, younger brother of Matilda.

1821 7 Aug to 15 Feb 1822 served as the master of the Government Colonial Cutter Snapper

1821 1 Nov to 22 Nov, He commanded the Snapper on a voyage to Newcastle when the ship was sent as a tender vessel, accompanying the government brig Elizabeth-Henrietta when Governor Macquarie undertook a brief tour of inspection. Accompanying the governor was James Meehan, Deputy Surveyor-General; John Nicholson, Master Attendant; and Lieutenant Robert Johnston, RN. 

1822 Capt J.W. Fish late master of His Majesty's Colonial Cutter Snapper, employed surveying         the coast of New Holland, to the Southward of this Post as far as Cape Howe.

1822 Departed on the Britomat, leaving the Colony in the Ship Britomart, requests all Claims to be presented.          Ref: Sydney Gazette 19 April and 26 April 1822 p.2. The ship was sailing for Valparaiso, Chile

1825 4th December James father Robert Fish dies in Windsor England
1827 James arrives in Calcutta from Penang on the ship SUNBURY (ref “1827 - The quarterly Oriental Magazine - review & Register”)

1830 4 March Dies in Old Windsor, Berkshire England

1830 16 March James William Fish buried at St Mary Winkfield Berkshire England 


James William Fish (aged 20) travelled as a Free Mariner from Portsmouth England 22 Feb 1814 on "The ASIA" to Madras (Now Chennai) in India. They arrived in Madras in 4 July 1814.  The master of “The ASIA” was Captain, The Honorable Henry Pendares Tremenheere. This can be confirmed on the FIBIS Website (Families in British India Society) 

Painting on canvas of “The ASIA” East Indiaman in waters off Hong Kong, China (of the Honourable East India Company) of London England, James William Fish travelled on this very ship in 1814, isn't that fantastic, just over 200 yrs ago.

High Definition copies of this print is available from the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England, 
Title: “ASIA 1836”  East Indiaman. 
QUOTE NEGATIVE REPRO ID No - BHC3209 if you want a print. 
Painting on Canvas: The East Indiaman 'Asia'  by William John Huggins

Date painted: 1836, Oil on canvas, 81.3 x 127 cm, Collection: National Maritime Museum
This oil painting of the East Indiaman 'Asia' belonged to Thomas Gardiner, who had been purser when she sailed to Madras, Bengal and China in 1831 to 1832. The ship was built in 1811 and is shown off Hong Kong between 1831 and 1832, towards the end of her career.

British Fort St George in Madras the destination port for HEIC ships in the early 1800's 


James William Fish leaves India on the American Ship Favorite as Captain and departs with Matilda Batho and her family to Sydney Australia.
JAMES aged 25 married Matilda Batho 1820 in Sydney City, Greater Sydney, New South Wales, Australia See the following website detailing the 1st inhabitants of Sydney Australia


Sydney 19th August 1822
Capt James William Fish (came free as Chief Officer of the ship Favorite, former master of the ship Snapper)

Capt Robert Johnson above at one time superior officer to Capt James William Fish on the ship SNAPPER

Capt J.W. Fish late master of His Majesty's Colonial Cutter Snapper, employed surveying the coast of New Holland, to the Southward of this Post as far as Cape Howe.

This is the only picture of the Snapper that we could find so far, If anyone finds more details like the plans or any pictures please send them to me at, thank you.

 This is a painting of the Colonial Cutter the "Mermaid" - We expect the Snapper to look very similar

1827 September

Arrival of James William Fish on the ship called Sunbury, in Calcutta from Penang, Malaysian ref “1827 - The quarterly Oriental Magazine - review & Register”


Captain James William Fish died aged 35 years old on 4th March 1830 in Old Windsor and was buried on 16th March 1830 at St Mary Winkfield Berkshire England.

The gravestone on the right is for Capt James William Fish who died on 4 March 1830.
His father's gravestone is on the left, Robert Fish died in 1825 in Winkfield Berkshire England.

Text on Grave Stone: Buried at St Mary's Churchyard Winkfield Berkshire England. 
THE 4th OF MARCH 1830

Please see the following document in the library of Ku-ring-gai in North Sydney  
1984, English, Unpublished edition:
A bibliography concerning Matilda Fish and her husband James William Fish - : early settlers in Lane Cove, in the Colony of New South Wales / Florence Battye. [manuscript] / 
REFERENCE Work citations
Edition identifier
APA citation

Battye, Florence (1984).  A bibliography concerning Matilda Fish and her husband James William Fish - : early settlers in Lane Cove, in the Colony of New South Wales.

REFERENCES for data on Capt James William Fish in Australian Libraries

Colonial Secretary Index, 1788-1825

"FAVORITE". American ship

1806 Mar 27

Proposal by Governor King to charter ship to bring rice to Sydney (Reel 6041; 4/1720 pp.52-3)

1820 Aug 19 James William Fish arrived as chief officer of (Reel 6050; 4/1747 pp.131-2)

1820 Sep Bound for Penang and Calcutta. Re attested copy of muster roll of (Reel 6018; 4/3521 p.260)”

The document below has been RESEARCHED By Robin Walsh of the Macquarie Library in Sydney Australia 2015
Robin, our family are most grateful for your excellent work and our family say a BIG THANK YOU to you.

FISH, James William (c.1794-1830) [?]
Born: 15 December 1794, Berkshire, England, United Kingdom.?
Served in HEIC?
There is an entry in the Madras Almanac in 1815 that states that ‘James W. Fish’ a ‘free mariner’ arrived in Bengal from England on 4 July 1814 on board the East Indiaman Asia, Captain Tremenheere. 
James Fish arrived in Sydney from Calcutta on 18 July 1820 as an officer on board the 149-ton Brig Favorite. The ship was carrying a speculative cargo of sugar, Bengal rum, spirits, soap, fabric and cotton goods.
On Tuesday last arrived from Calcutta the brig Favorite, Captain Lambert. She sailed from Calcutta
the 18th of March, left the Pilot the 29th; and brings a cargo of spirits, sugar, soap, and bale goods. The Sydney Gazette 22 July 1820 p.2a.

The voyage from India via Bass Straight to Sydney (11400 kms) had been extremely difficult and storm bound, with the death of three crew members.
The brig Favorite, Captain Lambert, experienced a great deal of bad weather on her way from Calcutta to this port, having encountered no less than nine gales of wind, some of which lasted for several days. 

On the 7th ult. in lat. 35° 30' long. 115°, she fell in with a tremendous gale; part of the cargo was thrown overboard to prevent foundering, viz. 85 bags of sugar, 100 cases of soap, and 15 water butts. The gale continued till the 13th. and left her almost a wreck, the damage sustained in her hull being considerable, besides carrying away most of her rigging. Having been on an allowance of a quart of water a day for 6 weeks.

Captain Lambert endeavoured to make Port Dalrymple, but from the heavy sea and tempestuous state of the weather was compelled to alter his course and bear away across the Streights to Sealer's Cove, near Wilson's Promontory, where the long-boat was stove by the sea; but they happily succeeded in procuring water enough to bring them to Sydney. 

Three of the crew died from fatigue and constant exertion, without which, and the mercy of Providence, the vessel and those on board could never have gained any port. Several of the crew are unable to walk, and the remainder are in a very ill and reduced state, although the kindest treatment, under circumstances of extreme privation and distress, was shewn them by Captain Lambert.

The Sydney Gazette 22 July 1820 p.2a.
The cargo included water damaged goods that were sold
soon afterwards at a public auction:
TO be SOLD by Public Auction, on Thursday the 3d Day of August next, by Mr. Lord, at his Auction Mart, Macquarie Place, for the Benefit of the Underwriters, a Quantity of Sugar, Canvas, Calico, Blue Gurrahs, Hearth Carpets and Soap, more or less damaged by Salt-water, being Part of the Cargo imported on the Brig Favorite. Capt. Lambert.
THE CARGO imported on the Favorite, consisting of Bengal rum 30 per cent, over proof, very fine Benares sugar, best Dacca soap, sannahs 20 yard pieces, baftas, blue ditto, cotton and common canvas, and a few bales of hearth carpets, is now open for sale at the Stores of Messrs. Eagar and Forbes, Pitt- street. The Sydney Gazette 29 July 1820 p.2a.
Fish served as ‘Chief Officer’ or ‘First Officer’ on the Favorite, while Thomas Lambert was the captain of the vessel.
Within one month of his arrival Fish sought permission from Lambert to leave the Favorite and remain in the Colony.
[See: Letter dated: 19 August 1820; Thomas Lambert, Ship: Favorite: Master; certifying that
James William Fish was leaving of his own accord from the Favorite. Colonial Secretary’s Papers, 1788-1825. Reel 6050; 4/1747 p.132].
The dangerous voyage may have induced Fish to defer going to sea again so soon.

To His Excellency Lachlan Macquarie
.... The humble petition of James William Fish Sheweth That your Petitioner arrived in this Colony in the Brig
Favorite in the capacity of Chief Officer of the said Brig. That your petitioner being desirous of becoming a resident in this colony and having obtained permission from the Captain of the said Brig to leave his employ - humbly prays that Your Excellency will grant him leave to remain in the Colony - And your Petitioner as in duty bound will every pray.
J.W. Fish
Sydney, 19 August 1820

Colonial Secretary’s Papers, 1788-1825. Petition 19 August 1820. (Reel 6050; 4/1747 pp.131-132)
However, far more likely, was the fact that he had developed a romantic attraction to the widow Mrs. Matilda Bartho (nee Booker) (1794-1850) during the voyage from Bengal. She was returning to NSW with her four children on board the Favorite following the death of her husband Captain Anthony Bartho. She had been living in Calcutta with him and their children since c.1814. Bartho had died on 5 May 1819 (at sea or in India).
Death. Mr. Anthony Bertho, [sic] ship Fame. East India Register 1821.
Matilda and her children returned to NSW in 1820 presumably to improve the opportunities for herself and her children. She may have also returned at the urging of her sister Mary and brother-in-law Daniel Dering Mathew (1787-1856) who had been residing in Sydney since 1812. She arrived with a personal fortune of approximately £500 sterling.

On 16 November 1820 Fish married Matilda Bartho at St Philips Church of England, Sydney.
James William Fish, aged 30, Bachelor, Abode: Lane Cove [NSW AUS],
Timber Merchant, Signed; & Matilda Bartho, aged 25, Widow, Abode: Lane

Cove [NSW AUS], Signed; married 16 November 1820 Church [NSW AUS], registered St Philips Church of England Sydney [NSW AUS] by Banns by Richard Hill.
Witness: Daniel Dering Mathews, Signed; Witness: Eliza Sarah Booker, Signed

Fish served as the master of the Government Colonial Cutter Snapper from at least 7 August 1821 until 15 February 1822.
He commanded the Snapper on a voyage to Newcastle from 1 November-21 November 1821 when the ship was sent as a tender vessel, accompanying the government brig Elizabeth-Henrietta when Governor Macquarie undertook a brief tour of inspection. Accompanying the governor was James Meehan, Deputy Surveyor-General; John Nicholson, Master Attendant; and Lieutenant Robert Johnston, RN.
Six days after returning to Sydney the Snapper was sent on an exploratory and survey voyage along the south coast of NSW to Jervis Bay and Bateman’s Bay,
returning via Port Macquarie. Lieutenant Robert Johnston RN [son of Lt. Col. George Johnston, formerly NSW Corps] was in command of the Snapper during this voyage (27 November to 10 December 1821). [see below: Appendix 1: for Official Report of the voyage by Robert Johnston].
Fish was dismissed from service in early 1822 when his behaviour during the December voyage was reported by Lt. Johnston (‘the Gentleman who accompanied him on that service’) to have been unacceptable. Master Attendant John Nicholson advised Frederick Goulburn, the Colonial Secretary, that he had also discovered a deficiency of £3.9.1 in the victualling accounts kept by Fish – and had deducted this amount from his wages, Event Regarding Improper Conduct April 3, 1822.
Majesty's Dock Yard Sydney 3rd April 1822

In compliance to your direction to report the conduct of J. W. Fish late master of His Majesty's Colonial Cutter
Snapper, employed surveying the coast of New Holland, to the Southward of this Post as far as Cape Howe - I beg leave to state that the Gentleman who accompanied him on that service, having represented to me his very irregular and ungentlemanly behaviour, I thought it proper to discharge him forthwith from the command; and on examining his victualling accounts, from the 7th August 1821 to the 15th February 1822, I found a deficiency amounting to 3 pounds nine shillings and 1 pence, which I deducted from his wages and paid into the hands of the Commissary General.
I have the honour to be Sir
Your most obedient humble servant
John Nicholson
Master Attendant
Colonial Secretary’s Papers, 1788-1825. 3 April 1822. (Reel 6053; 4/1756 p.120). [State Records. NSW].

Fish was replaced by William Lawrence Edwardson (c.1788-1826) who had formerly served as Chief Mate of the transport Surry (1816-1818), and later Deputy
Harbour Master and Pilot.
[see: Ballard, P. W. L. Edwardson in H.M. Cutter Snapper. The South Coast of New South Wales Voyage 1822 – Technical & Biographical Notes. Duntroon, ACT: Department of Geography, Royal Military College, 1983].

On 19 June 1821 James Fish acquired an 80-acre portion of land originally granted to his brother-in-law, Edwin Booker, younger brother of Matilda.
[Note: Booker had already disposed of the land to Fisher by an article of agreement on 5 September 1820, that is, prior to his marriage to Matilda, and before the deed of grant was officially granted. This may have been a mechanism for ensuring that his widowed sister was provided for: as an unmarried woman Matilda could not hold property in her own name].

After his dismissal from colonial service Fish applied, unsuccessfully, for a land grant.

Reply to Petition: April 25, 1822. James William Fish (came free as Chief Officer of the ship Favourite, former master of the ship Snapper.
Colonial Secretary's Office
25th April 1822

In reply to your Memorial of the 25th Feby I am directed to acquaint you that the circumstances are such under which you were obliged to quit the Colonial Service as to preclude His Excellency the Governor from being able to cede to your request of obtaining a Grant of Land.

I am Sir
Your Obedient Servant
F. Goulburn Col. Secy.
Colonial Secretary’s Papers, 1788-1825. 25 April 1822. (Reel 6009; 4/3505 p.198). [State Records. NSW].

A ‘William Fish’ appears to have planned to depart from NSW in early 1822 on board the Britomat
WILLIAM FISH leaving the Colony in the Ship Britomart, requests all Claims to be presented. Sydney Gazette 19 April and 26 April 1822 p.2.
The ship was sailing for Valparaiso, Chile.

In March 1824 Matilda Fish was advised by the Colonial Secretary Francis Goulburn that permission had been granted to her to lease any vacant allotment of land of
her choice in Sydney. [25 March 1824. Re application to lease land in Sydney (Reel 6012; 4/3510 pp.580-1)].

However, in time, this led to complications and by early 1825 she was seeking assistance from the Governor. In a Memorial addressed to Governor Brisbane Matilda sought relief for herself and her family, explaining how the absence of her husband 18 months earlier had created a domestic crisis.
To His Excellency Sir Thomas BrisbaneK.C.B. Captain General & Governor in Chief & over His
Majesty’s Territory of New South Wales & its Dependencies.

The Respectful Memorial of Matilda Fish Humbly herewith
That Your Memorialist is the Wife of James William Fish, by whom she is left in an Unprotected & Destitute State, in this Colony for 18 months past her Husband being gone to Batavia leaving behind him
four small Children
without the Means of Support. Memorialist purchased a Farm at Lane Cove Cost £105 – it was Transfer’d in her husband’s Name. Consequently she Cannot Sell without his Authority. Memorialist is fearful he is Dead, not having any tidings of him since his Departure from the Colony & she has no means of Subsistence. Living on the Farm being Unprotected & has suffer’d great Losses by Robberies Committed by Bush Rangers & is Compell’d to fly to Sydney to Endeavour for Support & Rent being heavy induced her to make this Application for a Grant of Land in Sydney – having a Friend who
will advance the Means of Erecting a Dwelling on it for the Shelter of herself & four helpless Children without Rent.

That your Memorialist Arriv’d in this Colony a Free Subject (1812) by the Ship Clarkson.
Your Memorialist most Humbly prayeth that Your Excellency will take her Unfortunate Case into Humane Consideration by Granting her the Indulgence herein Ask’d for their Assistance and Memorialist as in Duty Bound will pray &c.[Annotation]:Commended for consideration John Piper
Naval Officer
‘Memorial: Matilda Fish to Governor Thomas Brisbane, March 1825’. Colonial Secretary's Papers, 1788-1825 (Fiche 3131; 4/1841B No.274 pp.753-754). [State Records. NSW].
Letters addressed to James Fish were advertised in the Sydney Gazette as awaiting collection on 28 December 1825 and 25 March 1826.
Matilda is listed as a ‘widow and landholder’ in the 1828 Census; in addition, she was residing with her four (4) children (Eliza, Amelia, Leonard and Henry), at her farm named ‘Hunter’s Hill’, [later re-named] and employing five (5) persons:
William Cruise, aged 15 as a ‘sawyer’. John Price, aged 25 as a ‘sawyer’. James Lediard, aged 30 as a ‘sawyer’. Sarah Mahar, aged 49 as a ‘servant’. Jane Humphries, aged 30 as a ‘servant’.
Fish never returned to New South Wales. Apparently he abandoned his wife, child and step-children in NSW? No further records exist for him in Australia.
There is, however, a gravestone in St Mary's Churchyard, Winkfield, Berkshire, England, that may belong to him. If this is the same James William Fish, then he died on 4 March 1830, aged 35 years.

His wife Matilda never remarried. She died on 18 November 1850 at her property named ‘Lane Cove’, [near modern-day Killara, Sydney], aged 57 years. She is buried in St Thomas’ Cemetery, North Sydney.
[DIED] : At her residence, Lane Cove, on Monday, the 18th
November, after a short but painful illness, Mrs. Matilda Fish, in the fifty-sixth year of her age, the relict of the late Captain J. W. Fish, formerly of the H.E.I.C.S. and eldestdaughter of the late William Booker Esq., of Rotherhithe, London, and for many years in the
Ordinance Depot at the same place. Sydney Morning Herald 19 November 1850 p.3.

please see Matilda Fish - website below wife of Capt James William Fish

Ballard, P. W. L. Edwardson in H.M. Cutter Snapper. The South Coast of New South Wales Voyage 1822 – Technical & Biographical Notes. Duntroon, ACT: Department of Geography, Royal Military College, 1983 [Occasional Paper No.37].
Census of NSW, November 1828. Edited by Malcolm R. Sainty and Keith A. Johnson. Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1980.
Thomas, Thurles ‘Matilda Fish (c.1793-1850) and Her Family’ in The Historian (Ku-ring-gai Historical Society) Part 1, Vol. 16 No. 4 December 1987 and Part 2 Vol. 17 No.1 March 1988.
Wyatt, Margaret. ‘Matilda Bartho Fish’ . Women of Ku- ring-gai: A Tribute. (ed.) Helen Malcher. Gordon: Ku- ring-gai Historical Society, 1999 pp.76-78.
© Notes prepared by Robin Walsh, Sydney, Australia. 19 August 2015.


Matilda Fish and the Bushranger come to Eskbank House (2018)
The Blaxland and Daughter play Matilda Fish and the Bushranger will be performed in the Courtyard Gallery of Eskbank House and Museum on Saturday 17 September with two performances at 3.00 and 6.00pm.
Matilda Fish and the Bushranger presents the real story of a woman who was held up twice by the same bushranger, William Geary. Award- winning writer Wendy Blaxland brings to life these events that happened right where Killara train station stands today. Acclaimed actress Brigid O’Sullivan from Pioneers in Petticoats plays Matilda Fish, joined by versatile British actor Andy Simpson. The creative team includes director Jessica Blaxland Ashby, designer Deirdre Burges and composer Andrew Chessher.
This production is being performed exclusively in historic houses this season and Eskbank House is very proud to be one of their chosen venues. Join this outstanding cast and crew for a swashbuckling performance in the intimate Courtyard Gallery of Eskbank House.  Bookings can be made at 

Incorporating the Ku-ring-gai Family History Centre • Patron: The Mayor of Ku-ring-gai SIDNEY AUSTRALIA
March 2009 Monthly Newsletter Vol. 27 No. 2 
Inauspicious Beginnings, Happy Endings
We have been reminded many times that in the first half of the 1800s Sydney’s northern shore was the “resort of disreputable people” inhabited by “a great set of ruffians”. At the top of the list was a roving band of bushrangers under the captaincy of William Geary. Some of its members were virtually full time, others part time. It was known as the Geary Gang and made its mark in Ku-ring-gai on 24 March 1821 by robbing the “Dwelling house of... James William Fish” in what is now Killara. Fish’s wife Matilda, his brother- in-law William Booker and sister-in-law Eliza Booker “being in the said Dwelling house (were) then and there put in Bodily fear and Danger of their lives”. The quotations are from a Record of Proceeding in Parramatta Court House. In August of that year William Geary and a number of his Gang were hung, not just for the Fish offence but also for “various highway robberies and felonious entries of dwelling houses”.
been a member of the Geary Gang. They were further astonished to find that their ancestors had been before the Courts at the same time charged with the same offences.
From being partners in crime, the Bakers and Beckets are now partners in marriage, with neither having earlier known that the paths of their families had touched 188 years before.

Macquarie University-Court of Criminal Jurisdiction - William Geary
Courts of New South Wales, 1788-1899
R. v. Geary [1821] NSWKR 10; [1821] NSWSupC 10 R. v. Smith
R. v. Young
R. v. Whiteman

R. v. Cochrane (alias Cockling) R. v. Becket
R. v. Hilson
R. v. Baker

R. v. Mills
R. v. Lloydhighway robbery, housebreaking, harbouring, secreting, countenancing, bushrangers, capital punishment
Court of Criminal Jurisdiction
Wylde J.A., 16 August 1821
Source: Sydney Gazette, 18 August 1821 

William Geary, Thomas Smith, Charles Young, William Whiteman, John Cochrane alias Cockling, Samuel Becket, Peter Hilson, Wm. Baker, John Mills, and John Lloyd, were conjointly and severally indicted for having perpetrated various highway robberies, and felonious entries of dwelling houses; and Charles Franklin and Robert Allan, were also indicted for receiving the proceeds of the said felonies, knowing them to be stolen; and also, upon a second count, these latter prisoners were charged with harbouring, secreting, and countenancing the above- named prisoners. The information being read, the prisoners were severally called on to plead, and they pleaded Not Guilty, with the exception of William Geary, who declared himself Guilty of the charges exhibited to the Court.
In behalf of the prosecution, the first witness called was Mary Young, who deposed, that at the commencement of the present year she was on her return home from the Sydney market, in a cart, on the Windsor road, on a Saturday evening, in company with the man who was driving the vehicle, and had reached as far as the district of Baulkham hills, about twilight, when their progress was suddenly retarded by an unlooked for visit of a gang of plunderers; the foremost of whom commanded the man to desist driving, under the penalty of having his brains blown out. They proceeded to divest the cart of its contents, of which a small barrel of porter was the chief, and then began to regale themselves with what small share of provisions they thus obtained, and drank the porter; in the interim of doing which, some of the party were very inquisitive as to those cuts that were supposed to be on the road. The witness deposed, that, as nearly as she could call to recollection, they detained her two hours, when another car was heard to approach; and the already plundered one was then permitted to proceed. Geary had pleaded guilty, and this witness swore positively to the person of the prisoner Mills; but as to any of the others she had not obtained a sufficiency of observation to enable her to identify them.

William Clayton deposed, that he was only a short distance from the cart of Mary Young, the former prosecutrix, which he stated to be about the 3d or 4th of February, when he was in like manner accosted, by being desired to stop, or else be laid low. Only two of these marauders appeared first in view, but four others quickly presented themselves, and the prosecutor was immediately secured, by having his arms tied behind him; that effected, the cart was rifled of all its valuables, such as rum, calico, nankeens, &c. The only prisoners that he could identify as being part of the gang were Geary and Mills; the latter of whom he particularly recognized, and solemnly and repeatedly swore to.
William Widget deposed, that he was returning to the interior, from the Sydney market, on the morning of Saturday, the 3rd of February, and was the foremost of three carts a few miles on the other side of Parramatta, when they were stopped by four armed bushrangers; and that three of the prisoners at the bar were of the number, the fourth being dead, whose name was Butler. [The circumstances of this deluded and infatuated creature meeting with a premature destiny, in being shot some short time since, was reported in our present on the 21st ultimo.] The three carts were driven a short distance from the road, and then plundered. The names of the prisoners identified by this witness were Geary, Young, and Cochrane. Young was armed with a musket, and Cochrane had a brace of pistols pendant to his waist. Wm. Madgett, who was in the cart with the above witness, corroborated, in every particular, the circumstances already related.
Thomas Thompson deposed, but his house, at Pennant hills, was forcibly entered on Tuesday the 20th of March last, by a gang of bushrangers, of whom the prisoner Geary was the ringleader; that they remained on the premises till the Thursday following, living all the time in the family and compelling the prosecutors wife to prepare provisions for them as often as required. Having provided themselves with some tea and sugar, and a pistol, the family became liberated from the incumbrance of these unwelcome visitors, who decamped, taking with them the prisoners at the bar, William Smith, government-servant to the prosecutor; who wish to make it appear that he was impressed, as it were, into this dreadful employ; but in this point, that prisoner failed. Strange as it may seem to be recorded, still it was sworn to by this witness, and firmly adhered to, that, notwithstanding this gang was on the farm from the Tuesday to the following Thursday, he (the prosecutor) was unable to identify anyone else, save William Geary.
James Bellamy deposed, that on the 23rd of March, the following prisoners came to his house; viz. Geary, Young, Cochrane, Whiteman, Smith, and the deceased Butler; and feloniously and forcibly took from his dwelling, a musket, bayonet, cutlass, and a powder horn. Geary, and most of the other prisoners, endeavoured to invalidate the testimony of this witness, by acknowledging their guilt, and proclaiming him to the Court and auditory, as one that had harboured and encouraged them in their various spoliations; and participated, to a great extent, in such nefarious and hazardous speculations; but, however, he (the witness) solemnly and readily averred that the assertions of the prisoners were wholly false, and without foundation.

Mrs Matilda Fish deposed, that her residence at Lane cove was twice feloniously entered and robbed; that the last felony was perpetrated in the month of March last, between the hours of four and five in the afternoon. The prisoners at the bar; viz. Geary, Cochrane, Whiteman, Smith, and Young, Mrs Fish positively swore to be of the number. They remained in the house about 20 minutes, and took away with them two watches, a gun, sextant, and some other property. The miserable Butler was also of the party.

Thomas Best, a settler, deposed, that on the 25th of March last, the prisoners Geary, Cochrane, Smith, Whiteman, Young, and the deceased Butler, paid a depredating visit to his house, and forcibly took from thence a gun and some wearing apparel. The gang remained there the whole day, and in the evening went off. The prisoner Hilson declared to witness that he had been impelled, from apprehension of serious consequences in case of refusal, to
join them, the number and strength of the party being supposed sufficient to carry all before them. This was on the 25th of March last, and they (the prisoners) returned on the following day, with bundles, &c. the contents of which the witness declared he was totally ignorant.
Esther Harley deposed, that the house of Hugh Kelly, on the Windsor-road, was burglariously entered at midnight on the 26th of March last, and property to the value of £100 was taken therefrom. The number of plunderers were nine; eight entered the dwelling, and the other remained as centinnel at the door. The witness swore to the persons of Geary, Smith, Young, Whiteman, and Cochrane. She also stated her belief only, that the prisoner Baker was the man stationed at the door.
Evidence was now adduced against the prisoners Franklin and Allan, to support the counts in the indictment against them, as receivers and accessories after the fact; which only went to criminate the latter, and exculpated the former from any implication whatever.
The prisoners were put on their defence, and what they severally urged in their remarks, only tended to engulph those that were actually guilty the deeper in the many crimes that had been brought against them. Geary was determined on criminating himself in every charge, not only in the onset by pleading guilty, but also in every question that he unnecessarily put invariably to all the witnesses. Some of the others, particularly Young, also managed to further the ends of public justice, in his wishing to exculpate his associates, and thus subjecting himself to the judgement of Guilty. Mills endeavoured to prove an alibi, which failed in its concerted design. Smith, Whiteman, and Cochrane, abstracted from the evidence brought forward, manifested their atrocity and participation in all the charges enumerated in the information.
Against Becket, Hilson, Baker, Lloyd, and Franklin, nothing sufficiently transpired to evince any actual guilt on their part, although suspicion and inattention to the personal security, and the happiness of the domestic state, were but too apparent in some of them. The prisoners being heard with attention and patience in all they had to say in their defence, the Court retired. In about 20 minutes the Members resumed their seats, and His Honor the Judge Advocate remarked, with energy and perspicuity, on the alarming and fearful combination of prisoners, that had been, fortunately for the community at large, that broken up and dissolved, and the offenders brought to justice. It was true (His Honor observed), then in all the cases ellucidated, no violence was proved to have been resorted to; which had been, by the prisoner Geary, held up as a prominent feature of his humanity, and of the feeling of that gang which he had headed; and when no doubt was done with a view of operating in extenuation of the crimes proved. But it was also worthy of consideration, that had violence in the most distant way been used, it would have been brutality inhumanity indeed! The numbers of the party were sufficient to intimidate the most fearless and courageous into awe and obedience; for, it must be recollected, in distant wilds, or solitary dwellings, how could a poor man guard his wife, children, and little property, from the well-armed, determined, and the lawless ruffian, much less a gang of 4, 6, 8, 9, and even 12, if not more. Had resistance been evinced in any one case, there could be little doubt as to the hapless consequences that would, inevitably, have ensued.
But was there not violence sufficiently demonstrated, in presenting a loaded piece at an unprotected head? Samuel Becket, Peter Hilson, William Baker, John Lloyd, and Charles Franklin were acquitted. William Geary, Thomas Smith, Charles Young, Wm. Whiteman, and John Cochrane, were found Guilty of all the various counts and were pathetically besought to reflect on the awfulness of eternity. Robert Allan was found guilty of harbouring and encouraging bushrangers, and also remanded for sentence.
Wylde J.A., 18 August 1821 Sydney Gazette, 18 August 1821
This morning an awful portraiture of the determined depravity of man was exhibited to a crowded auditory, a circumstance unprecedented in our colonial jurisprudence, that of no less than 23 fellow creatures placed, by
reiterated crimes, at the bar of justice, to be visited with its heaviest penalty, death! William Williams, Gilbert Brown, John McGuire, John Whalan, John Read, William Geary, Thomas Smith, Charles Young, William Whiteman, John Cochrane, John Mills, William Kennedy, Francis Pasco, Pasco Haddycott, George Grover, Robert Maggs, Thomas Fitzsimons, John Squires, Peter Burns, John Brown, Edward Farrell, John Ryan, and Miles Jordan, severally received Sentence of Death. Our particularly confined limits will not permit remarking on the excellent and judicious speech with which His Honor the Judge Advocate addressed twenty-three dying men! It was delivered with that energy and pathos so peculiar to the Mind from whence pure sympathy flows; and seemed to have that impression on some of the culprits, which, it is fondly trusted, will inspire them the well-grounded hope of seeking that benignant boon of mercy in another world, which the offended laws, and the justice of the country, necessarily precluded in this.
William Tunicliffe, Robert Allan, and Barbara Styles - transportation for life. Sydney Gazette, 25 August 1821
Executions. On Wednesday morning [22 August 1821] last were executed, pursuant to their sentence, the following unfortunate men, condemned to die at the present criminal sessions; viz. Francis Pasco, Pasco Haddycott, Miles Jordan, and John Ryan. Also, yesterday morning, the following started the awful sentence: William Geary, Thomas Smith, John Whiteman, John Cochrane, Charles Young, John Mills, and William Kennedy.
On the verge of eternity, Geary solemnly exculpated George Bowerman (one of the three brothers that were executed some months since for a robbery on the Windsor-road) from all knowledge of the transaction for which he had innocently paid the forfeit of his life. He (Geary) declared himself to have been the man, in company with the other Bowermans that had perpetrated the robbery; and that George Bowerman was the unhappy man identified in the place of Geary. We must leave the Public to judgement, at so awful a period; but, it may be remembered, that the deceased George Bowerman positively asserted his innocence to the last moment of existence. During his trial, Geary alleged, and in fact it was proved, that he had committed no violence, no act of inhumanity; but at the place of execution, he declared that he had committed an innocent man (the father of a family) to become a sacrifice to his wanton rapacity!
[1] See also Court of Criminal Jurisdiction, Informations, Depositions and Related Papers, 1816-1824, State Records N.S.W., SZ793, p. 338 (no. 40), p. 360 (no. 42); SZ794, p. 370 (no. 85).
Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University

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