Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Trove Tuesday - Missing Mares at Elphinstone

Amy of the Branches Leaves & Pollen blog has come up with a brilliant new blogging prompt for Australian geneabloggers - Trove Tuesday (With thanks also to Jill at Geniaus and Fi at Dance Skeletons for alerting me to Amy's idea).

I have decided to join in with this blogging prompt each Tuesday. This should be great motivation to finally begin organising the tumultuous tangle of Trove tags I have accumulated since 2008. 

My first contribution to Trove Tuesday will be one of the first interesting (if confusing) articles that I found through Trove about one of my ancestors. 'Wm. Fullarton' mentioned in the article is my 3 x Great Grandfather, William Fullerton.  
1855 'CASTLEMAINE.', The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956),
13 April, p. 5,
viewed 27 August, 2012,



10th April, 1855.

Resuming my report of the Sessions here, I may remark on the lightness of the calendar, which has proved to be much lighter than it appeared to be at first sight, especially as to the absence of any deep or deadly crimes, which speaks greatly in favor of the moral condition of these gold-fields generally.

W.H. Smith was charged with horse stealing. The prisoner, who is well known as late landlord of the Carriers' Arms, challenged two jurymen. The Crown Prosecutor presented two counts in the indictment, one for the felony, and another for the unlawful use of the animals, to the injury of the owner. There were two mares taken from the paddock of Wm. Fullarton, a near neighbor of the prisoner's, at Elphinstone. The complainant, on or about the 8th December, found his fence broken down, and the marks of the horses passing through. Saw one of his horses that day in the bush, but did not get it for three weeks, and got the other in six weeks. Smith and himself had quarrelled. They were on bad terms. One Wm. Reid, a servant of Smith's, had been tried for stealing one of the horses and been acquitted last sessions.

Edward M'Grath, late servant of the prisoner, swore that on the evening of 6th Dec. he was offered £5 by Smith to steal Fullarton's mares, which he refused to do. That on the night of the 7th he saw the prisoner and other two men, Leach and Benton, break down Fullarton's fence, and take away the horses, bringing them into prisoner's stable. They saddled them, and Leach and Benton rode them away. Witness had a tent outside the house. Had been with Smith thirteen months. He remained with him up to the 24th January, and gave no information of the robbery till after that, not liking to be an informer. He heard Smith use threats of further injury to Fullarton after the horses were lost. He was turned off, and charged with stealing three half-crowns when he demanded his wages, an usual plan, he said, with Smith when wages were asked. The two abettors tried to make him drunk the night of the robbery. He had married a servant woman in Smith's house after the robbery, but had never communicated a word regarding the robbery to her from that time up to the prosent. Never said anything about it to his wife, nor combined with her as to their evidence. There were no other persons in the house but himself and the said Ellen Fenton, now his wife, and Smith's family.

Ellen M'Grath, wife of former witness, saw the mares brought to the yard by the parties aforenamed, there saddled and ridden away. Had given the prisoner a coat to put on before he went out, and watched from her bedroom window. Smith said next morning to her that Fullarton's mares were stolen. He answered that she knew it. A foal of one of the mares passed by, and Smith said to her, "What fools they were to have let it come back ; they should have cut its throat." Never told her husband a word about it, nor agreed as to what they should swear; never spoke about the trial to him; had other things to talk of. Never informed Fullarton of what she saw, and only told the police when Reid was taken up for stealing one of the mares. Was married after the robbery. They had their wedding dinner at Smith's, for which they paid. There was no one in the house but herself and Smith's family.

Mr. Ireland, for defendant, sought chiefly to discredit the two former witnesses, dwelling on the improbability or impossibility of their never having communicated on such a subject.

For the defence, J. L. Brown swore that he was in Smith's employ, and living at his house at the time of the mares being stolen, and that Smith was then absent at Melbourne from the 6th to the 10th December, and that what M'Grath said was false. He himself was about to leave.

Henry Potter had been also in Smith's employment, slept in the stable that night, and swore the same as last witness as to Smith's absence. Leach and Benton were also absent.

William Reid swore that he got off on his trial on M'Grath's evidence, who said to him, when he was discharged and left the court, that he only said what he did to get him off.

Ellen M'Grath had been offered money by Smith, but never said she would make all right if paid £20.

William Reid swore that she came to him, and asked him to tell Smith that if he gave her £20, to pay her passage to Van Diemen'sLand, she would be off.

The learned Judge summed up briefly, remarking on the incredibility of the witnesses, M'Grath and wife, who never communicated a word on all this matter to each other ; and that he could not see that the case for the prosecution was established on such evidence, leaving that for the jury to decide. Verdict, "Not Guilty."

1855 'CASTLEMAINE.', The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), 13 April, p. 5, viewed 27 August, 2012, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4806666
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  1. So pleased you've joined the Trove Tuesday challenge - this idea is really taking off.

  2. 'The lightness of the calendar' shall now be heard at my place. I love that phrase. Great finds in Trove, Aillin!


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