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The Sydney Morning Herald, Fri 7 Mar 1856 1

WATER POLICE COURT.
Thursday.

    Before the Water Police Magistrate [Samuel North]

    George Williams, seaman, belonging to the steamer Tamar, was charged with having attempted to commit an unnatural offence on a boy belonging to the same vessel, named William Ryan, aged sixteen years, while the vessel was at Eden. The evidence, which entirely substantiated the charge as to the commission of the offence, was of course unfit for publication. It appeared, however, also, that when the boy charged the prisoner with it he threatened to murder, and cut him up in pieces, and throw him overboard, if he repeated the accusation. Prisoner was committed to take his trial at the next Criminal Court.

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Depositions for George Williams 8 April 1856 Sydney trial 2

The Attorney General

    Water Police Office
    Sydney 8 March 1856

No. 56/34
Sir
    I do myself the honor to forward the depositions and Recognizance to give evidence in the case named in the margin (Regina versus George Williams charged with assault with intent to commit Sodomy) In which the prisoner has been committed for trial at the next Court of Gaol Delivery to be holden at Darlinghurst on Monday the seventh day of April next.
I have the honor to be, Sir, your most obedient servant.
[Signed] S North, WPM.

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(O. 1.)
Recognizance to give Evidence.

New South Wales, Sydney
TO WIT.                        }

Be it remembered, that on the sixth day of March, in the year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty six Aaron Kerridge of Sydney Sergeant in the Sydney Police, Charles Stephen Ferguson Chatfield of Sydney Master of the steamer Tamar, William Ryan of Sydney mariner on board the steamer Tamar, David Little of Sydney steward of the Tamar and Charles Roderick Clifford of Sydney mariner on board the Tamar, personally came before Samuel North one of Her Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the said Colony and acknowledged themselves to owe our Sovereign Lady the Queen the sum of forty pounds each of good and lawful money of Great Britain, to be made and levied of their goods and chattels, lands and tenements, to the use of our said Lady the Queen, her Heirs and Successors, if they the said Aaron Kerridge, Charles Stephen Ferguson Chatfield,  William Ryan, David Little and Charles Roderick Clifford shall fail in the condition indorsed.
[Signed] Aaron Kerridge, CS Chatfield, William Ryan, David Little, CR Clifford.

Taken and acknowledged the day and year first above mentioned, at Sydney in the said Colony, before
[Signed] S North, JP.

    The condition of the within written Recognizance is such, that whereas one George Williams was this day charged before Samuel North Esquire the Justice of the Peace within mentioned, for that he the said George Williams did on the 3rd day of March Instant at Twofold Bay in the Colony of New South Wales unlawfully assault William Ryan with intent to commit sodomy. If therefore they the said Aaron Kerridge, Charles Stephen Ferguson Chatfield, William Ryan, David Little and Charles Roderick Clifford shall appear at the next Court of Gaol Delivery to be holden at Darlinghurst in and for the Colony of New South Wales, on Monday the 7th day of April next and there give such evidence as each of them knoweth upon an information to be then and there preferred against the said George Williams for the offence aforesaid, to the Jurors who shall pass upon the trial of the said George Williams then the said Recognizance to be void, or else to stand in full force and virtue.
[Signed] S North, JP.

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(M. 1 & 12 Vic., Cap. 42.)
Depositions of Witnesses.

New South Wales, Sydney
TO WIT.                        }

The examination of Aaron Kerridge of Sydney in the Colony of New South Wales, Sergeant in the Sydney Police, Charles Stephen Ferguson Chatfield of Sydney Master of the steamer Tamar, William Ryan of Sydney mariner on board the steamer Tamar, David Little of Sydney steward of the steamer Tamar and Charles Roderick Clifford of Sydney in the said Colony, mariner on board the Tamar taken on Thursday the sixth day of March in the year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty six, at Sydney in the Colony aforesaid, before the undersigned, one of Her Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the said Colony in the presence and hearing of George Williams who is charged this day before me for that he the said George Williams did on the third day of March Instant at Twofold Bay, in the said Colony, unlawfully assault William Ryan with intent to commit sodomy.

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    This deponent Aaron Kerridge a Sergeant in the Sydney Police on oath states: About 7 o’clock this morning the prisoner was given into my custody by Captain Chatfield of the steamer Tamar for committing an unnatural offence on a boy named William Ryan. I told the prisoner the charge, he made no reply. I confined him.
[Signed] Aaron Kerridge.

Sworn at the Water Police Office Sydney this 6th March 1856.
Before me [Signed] S North, JP.

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    Charles Stephen Ferguson Chatfield on oath states: I am Master of the steamer ship Tamar. I know the prisoner. He is a seaman off that steamer. On Tuesday morning last (4 March/56) whilst I was on shore at Eden Twofold Bay the Chief Officer reported to me that prisoner had attempted to commit an unnatural offence on a boy names William Ryan – I questioned the Mate and he told me he had examined the boy and that he had told him

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that an attempt had been made on Saturday night but he could not say by whom as it was dark but that another attempt was made on Saturday night (3rd March/56) by the prisoner. I applied to the Clerk of the Bench at Eden and the Bench there directed me to give prisoner in custody on arrival here. I accordingly sent for the Police when I came in this morning and I gave prisoner in charge.

    I did not say anything to the prisoner about the charge.
[Signed] CS Chatfield.

Sworn at the Water Police Office Sydney this 6th March 1856.
Before me [Signed] S North, JP.

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    William Ryan on oath states: I am sixteen years of age and am a seaman on board the Tamar. I have been about four weeks on board. Prisoner is a seaman of the same ship. He joined after me. On last Saturday night whilst at anchor in Twofold Bay I turned in to my berth about 8 o’clock. I fell asleep. I was awoke by a man who came into the bed to me. He was not undressed. He did not speak. I was sleeping on my side and he got

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behind me and he took off his trousers and took put his private part between my legs and tried to put it into my body. I sung out and he ran away and I could not find out who it was. I was sleeping in the forecastle. The steward and cook also slept there. The steward hear me call out but did not say anything. After that I went to sleep again. On Monday night last while still at Eden I turned in about the same hour and I was again awoke by someone in my berth. I said “Who is that?” Prisoner said “It is me, Bill.” I knew it was prisoner by his voice.

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He was trying to put his private part into my body. I sung out and he ran away up the ladder just as the person had done the first night. He had no trousers or his cap on. Next morning I reported it to the Chief Officer and after I did so prisoner said he would take my life and chuck me overboard and he then struck me and some of the men came to take my part. There was no light. I could not be positive as to seeing the prisoner’s face but I know his directly by his voice. Prisoner had never made any attempt of this kind before. I never had

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any quarrel with prisoner.
[Signed] William Ryan.

Sworn at the Water Police Office Sydney this 6th March 1856.
[Signed] S North, JP.

    David Little on oath states: I am steward on the Tamar. I know prosecutor and defendant. On Monday night last while I was in bed I heard Ryan say “Oh!” I fancied he was talking in his sleep and took no notice. I heard no voice at all.
[Signed] David Little.

Sworn at the Water Police Office Sydney this 6th March 1856.
Before me [Signed] S North, JP.

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    Charles Roderick Clifford on oath states: I am a seaman off the Tamar. On Tuesday morning last I heard a rumour on board while we were at Twofold Bay that Williams had attempted to commit an unnatural offence on Ryan. I called Ryan and asked him. He said it was so. I then went in to the forecastle to deft and said it was a pretty yarn was going around about him. He said “What?” I told him. He said it was a lie. He then came on deck to Ryan and asked him what he

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meant by circulating such stories about him. The boy said it was no story nor no lie. It was the truth. Prisoner said to him “How do you know it was I?” The boy said he heard by his voice. Prisoner again denied it and told the boy if he circulated such reports he would wring his neck and heave him overboard. He struck the boy. The prisoner was talking to me on Monday night in the berth till between 10 and 11 o’clock. I don’t recollect awakening at all that night. Prisoner might have left the forecastle without my hearing him.
[Signed] CR Clifford.

Sworn at the Water Police Office Sydney this 6th March 1856,
Before me [Signed] S North, JP.

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(M. 11 & 12 Vic., Cap. 42.)
Statement of the Accused.

New South Wales, Sydney
TO WIT.                         }

George Williams stands charged before the undersigned, one of Her Majesty’s Justices of the Peace in and for the Colony aforesaid, this 6th day of March in the year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty six for that he the said George Williams did on the third day of March Instant at Twofold Bay in the said Colony, unlawfully assault William Ryan with intent to commit sodomy and the said charge being read to the said George Williams and the witnesses for the prosecution, Aaron Kerridge, Charles Stephen Ferguson Chatfield, William Ryan, David Little and Charles Roderick Clifford being severally examined in his presence, the said George Williams is now addressed by me as follows:– “Having hear the evidence, do you wish to say anything in answer to the charge? You are not obliged to say anything unless you desire to do so; but whatever you say will be taken down in writing and may be given in evidence against you upon your trial;” whereupon the said George Williams saith as follows:

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“On Saturday night we were singing and drinking in the forecastle till near 2 o’clock on Sunday morning and on Monday night I was talking to Clifford till near 11 o’clock and I have witnesses to prove that they heard the boy call out and got up and that I was asleep at the time and there is another man who had occasion to get up several times on Monday night who can prove I was asleep every time he was up.
[Signed] George Williams.

Taken before me at Sydney aforesaid and the day and year first above written.
Before me. [Signed] S North, JP.

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    Thomas Hymans on oath states: I am a seaman of the Tamar. I know the prisoner. I was on board at “Twofold Bay” on Saturday Monday last. We went to bed about 9 o’clock. I had occasion to go on deck once during the night and I saw him asleep. I do not know what hour it was. I went to bed on Saturday night about half past nine o’clock. Prisoner was not in bed at that time nor can I say at what hour he came to bed. We were singing some time after we went to bed.
[Signed] Thomas (his X mark) Hymans.

Sworn at the Water Police Office Sydney this 6th March 1856.
Before me [Signed] S North, JP.

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    Peter Murray on oath states: I am a seaman off the Tamar. I recollect Saturday night last. I went to bed about half past twelve o’clock. I cannot say if prisoner was in bed then or not.

    On Monday night I went to bed about 8 o’clock. Prisoner was then in bed. I was awoke during the night by someone speaking in the forecastle. I thought it was someone speaking in his sleep. I looked up and I saw prisoner in his bed. He was on the opposite side from me. There was a light in the forecastle.
[Signed] Peter Murray.

Sworn before me at the Water Police Office Sydney this 6th March 1856
[Signed] S North, JP.

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    Committed to take your trial at the next Court of Gaol Delivery to be holden at Darlinghurst on Monday the 7th day of April next.
[Signed] S North, JP.

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[On the depositions’ cover sheet is the following]

1856
[Sydney] Supreme Court Sittings
W[ater] P[olice] O[ffice] No. “16”
Regina
v.
George Williams
Depositions

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6th March 1856
488
Depositions
Queen
v.
George Williams
Ass[ault] with intent to commit Sodomy
WPO Sydney

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Justice SF Milford’s Notebook  3  4

58

[Sydney] Tuesday April 8th 1856
George Williams assault with intent to commit sodomy.
Plea not guilty

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George Williams
Assault with intent to commit sodomy.

    CS Chatfield I am the Master of Tamar. Know prisoner, seaman; joined on or about 25th February; he is able seaman employed; generally had a boy on board; William Ryan joined about month before prisoner; on the 4th March I was ashore on Tuesday at Eden; I received a report from Griffin chief mate; went to the (court ? comt ?) saw him on board but did not speak to him or did anything; gave him in charge at Sydney on 6th March. The ship had been lying in the bay from the Saturday to Tuesday; don’t remember being on board during

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that time.

    Cross-examined. On the mate making the charge I sent for the boy. I stated in the police court that who the mate said the boy told him that when the person came to him he turned round & saw the prisoner.

    By Jury man. The boy never slept after the time of the charge with the seamen; I never took any means to prevent the prisoner & boy having any communication.

    William Ryan. I am 16 years old; been at sea about 3 months on board steam ship Tamar. I had been on board 3 weeks in March last; knew prisoner; complained of something having been

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done to me; he had been on good terms with me; on the 1st March Saturday I was at Twofold Bay on board steamer; about 8 o’clock turned into berth; awoke by a man coming to me; was in fore cabin; not where seamen are; I and cook & steward 5 slept in fore cabin; I think all the persons who slept in my cabin on deck when we went to sleep; no (passages ?) 6 was in berth of passages; it was a top berth about 3 ft. from ground; I awoke; can’t say at what time; was light in cabin when I went to bed but not when I awoke; it was a lamp; steward has charge; man came into

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my berth. The man put his private between my legs & attempted to put into my body; I was lying on my side, back turned out towards cabin; that woke me. His face was towards me; his head lying by mine; he was at my back. He had not his trousers but had his shirt on. I asked two or 3 times who it was; he did not answer. I gave a jump; the person jumped out of the bed ran up the ladder & down the forecastle. I got out of bed after him & followed him up the top of the forecastle; about 8 feet from entrance to cabin; a ladder to each. I saw the person but it was dark; could not tell then who it was;

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the person never spoke. Did not say any more about this because afraid of row between me & men. On the Monday on board saw prisoner there; we (dined ?) on the deck altogether. Saw him on Monday working on board. On Monday night went into berth about 8 o’clock; same berth; there was a light; a lamp; did no[t] observe any body in cabin then; I undressed then. On the Saturday night had on trousers & found them taken down; not as when I went to bed. On the Monday night took off the trousers. A person came into bed & woke me up as before; there was no light when I woke; can’t say how long I slept; not morning; got up. The person woke me.

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I was lying on side as before; he was on his side; can’t say whether undressed or not but think so; the man wanted to put his private into my body; he put it between my legs; I asked, who is that; he did not answer; I then asked again; he said, it is me Bill. I knew by his voice who it was. It was the prisoner. I knew his voice well; I am sure of it. I turned about in my bed. I saw the person; I could it was dark; I began to cry; the person ran on the deck. I followed & saw him go down the forecastle but could not tell him; had no had 7 on; had shirt; can’t say if trousers; went back into berth; can’t say what hour. There was no

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watch kept at that time; did not see if any person in berth when I returned. In morning reported to mate about 8 o’clock; spoke to the fore cabin steward & told the men. Saw prisoner afterwards on the Tuesday; spoke about indifferent things not about this matter; on Thursday morning about 8 o’clock after I had spoken to mate & steward 10 minutes; one of the men was present; the prisoner asked me did I say was he in my berth. I said, yes; he said, he would throw me overboard & slapped my face; he would get a knife; cut me up to pieces & throw me overboard; nothing further said. He asked me how could

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I tell about his his voice; this before slapping; I said, knew his voice. He called me I answered (him ?). When I awoke I called out. He wanted to put it into me; he was hurting me. He did not penetrate you’re my body.

    Cross-examined. The I said at water police could not tell person; don did not say I recognized the person by his face. I told Captain Chatfield Police Magistrate something. Nothing took place in the police court except when I was examined as a witness.

    By the Juror. I don’t think went up the ladder & when I came down the I turned in.
The depositions of the witness before the Magistrate were put in & read by request

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of the prisoner.

    Cross-examined. Ask Called some of the ship’s company; the greater part. He asked me if I said he was the person & I said, yes & then he said, I was a bloody liar; this was I think before he gave me a box on the ear; I told ship’s company man came to berth & that I saw prisoner; I followed man on deck. He Told the Magistrate that I was obliged to dry my blankets before I could use them again. I did not dry them; I turned them inside out. They were wet. I think prisoner asked, why not call person up & I said I did not because I did not like to wake up the people out of their beds. Don’t think he asked question if steward &c. did not sleep

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in cabin. I did ask the steward if he heard any thing; he said, he did not; can’t say if prisoner present.

    Re-examined. I told the police magistrate that the I turned the blankets because they were wet. I turned the blankets at the time I was woke up. The blankets were wet in the middle. I told the ship’s crew when they were called up; this was before slapping on the face; one of the men said, if prisoner struck me again he would strike him; can’t be sure if before or after. Told the crew.

    By Juror. On the Saturday night all hands on board; did not make great noise; made noise but not enough to disturb the crew.

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Told nobody on Sunday of what had occurred on Saturday night. Can’t say if dark but think it was. On Monday night made great outcry; steward next person; he was then same side of cabin. Made noise sufficient to wake steward; I sung out, oh look at man in my berth; he heard me but never came to my assistance. I think Monday night starlit; did not attempt to follow down forecastle; can read & write. I went one trip in Yarra Yarra. Did not report on Sunday because it would kick up a row. I was employed in taking things about the town before going on board steamers. The wet on the blanket was from the man; the shirt was

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wet.

    Cross-examined. Never shewed wet blankets to any person. I told police magistrate about following the man on deck & also about the blankets.

    David Little. Second steward on board Tamar; know prisoner & Ryan; remember 4th March; Tamar in Twofold Bay; was asleep on that night in pantry in fore cabin; went to bed about 9 o’clock; the lamp was alight; the it was in my charge; I trimmed the lamp; lam not usually alight all night; it burned all night if allowed; the lamp trimmed as usual; heard Ryan call out, oh; don’t know how long after going to sleep; middle of night I think;

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no light then. The boy called out, oh; did not call out more than once; he cried as if in pain. The cook & I went down to bed at same time. Remember complaint on Monday Tuesday; this all happened on the Monday night. Ryan complained at 8 o’clock. I laughed at him. I gave him no advice; he was talking to all hands on deck after this. He mentioned a name; did not speak to any person nor did I. I was principal person in fore cabin; did not speak to any person about it. Ryan told prisoner it was him; he said at breakfast that prisoner was person; all hands were there; prisoner denied it. He said, it was not him; he threatened the boy; he said if he told his 8 about him he would throw him

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overboard; did not see him strike him. Nobody but I cook & Ryan slept in cabin.

    Cross-examined. I did not heard Ryan s; Told magistrate that like a person in dream so took no notice. The

    Jury Man. I tol laughed at boy because I thought it nonsense; did not believe it. If Ryan called out I should have heard it. I should have got up & gone to assistance. If h Did not heard boy sing out, If There is a man &c; I should have got ho up. When prisoner said, if Ryan told his about him &c he appeared as if he did not like lies to be told about him – I don’t think Chas prisoner in cabin but once when he went for

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grog. There were sixteen berths; Ryan occupied the corner one close to the entrance.

    Charles R Clifford. Seaman on board Tamar; know Ryan & prisoner; Tamar in Twofold Bay on March 4th; went to bed on the Monday night at ½ past 11 in forecastle; the ship’s company were there, amongst them the prisoner; he was went to bed about 4 minutes before I did. I saw him go to bed. I slept. I was not awoke . Remember Ryan complaining about ½ past 7 Tuesday morning; spoke to prisoner about ¾ hours after. I said, there’s (a) pretty yarn going on about you; he said, damned lie; went on deck; all crew there; prisoner asked boy if down in berth; he said, no boy did. Boy said he knew him by

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voice; he slapped the boy on the face. I said not to strike boy; if he did I would strike him; he was in a threatening attitude; he said nothing further. Came up afterwards to Sydney; saw him Captain next night; on Tuesday evening; arrived at Sydney on next day. Prisoner & boy both about ship as usual. Short distance from forecastle to fore cabin; a few feet.

    Cross-examined. I knew nothing but what was told by the boy.

    By Jury man. Prisoner went to bed; I went to sleep directly; could have gone up without waking me; might have waked me heard any person coming down if awake. Don’t know anything about prisoner’s character. Never saw heard anything wrong about character on board.

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    Chatfield. Gave prisoner in custody in Sydney; he did duty during the voyage.

Evidence for prisoner.
    Thomas Hymans. I am seaman on board the Tamar. Recollect being in Twofold Bay on Monday night; recollect turning out of berth; saw the prisoner in his; can’t say at what time; might have been at one or two. Did not hear any disturbance in the forecastle during the night. I think I should have known if any body had run down the ladder in a hurry. There was a light in forecastle when I turned out. Did not hear any noise on deck during the night.

    Cross-examined. Went to bed on Monday night about 9 o’clock;

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can’t say when I went on deck; might have been about 1 or 2 o’clock. I was on deck about a minute or two; went then to bed again; slept till morning; I sleep soundly. If I were awake I should hear bef person going down ladder; not if asleep.

    Peter Murray. Seaman on board Tamar; recollect Monday night 4th March; slept in forecastle; recollect hearing a noise in the night; can’t say when; thought somebody talking in his sleep; not loud enough; my head towards the feet of another man’s; I heard the noise in fore cabin; board about inch & half thick between. There was light in forecastle; looked up & saw crew in their berths; all there but could not be certain. I thought I saw prisoner in his berth but not certain.

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    Cross-examined. The noise in fore cabin like somebody moaning; did not fall asleep after for some time; ½ hour; heard no other disturbance.

Prisoner addressed the Jury.
The Crown Prosecutor replied.
Verdict. Not guilty.

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Empire, Wed 9 Apr 1856 9

LAW INTELLIGENCE.
————
CENTRAL CRIMINAL COURT.
TUESDAY.
(Before Mr Justice Dickinson.)

(Before Mr Justice Milford.)
FELONIOUS ASSAULT.

    George Williams was indicted for having, on the 3rd of March last, at Twofold Bay, assaulted William Ryan, with intent to commit a horrible offence.

    Mr Callaghan appeared for the prosecution; the prisoner was undefended.

    The prisoner was a seaman on board the steamship Tamar, on which vessel the prosecutor, a lad of about 14 years of age, was also employed. The vessel was lying at Twofold Bay at the time when the alleged offence, on two occasions, took place. The particulars of the case were of a nature which renders them unfit for publication.

    Prisoner, in his defence, denied the charge.

    Mr Callaghan then addressed the jury for the defence, after which his Honor summed up.

    The jury, after a short consultation, returned a verdict of not guilty.
    The prisoner was accordingly discharged.
    After the disposal of the above case (which lasted several hours) the court adjourned until this day. (Wednesday).

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The Sydney Morning Herald, Wed 9 Apr 1856 10

LAW.
CENTRAL CRIMINAL COURT.
TUESDAY.


    Before Mr Justice Milford.

FELONIOUS ASSAULT.

    George Williams was indicted for having, at Twofold Bay, on the 3rd March last, assaulted one William Ryan with intent to commit an offence against the order of nature.

    Mr Callaghan conducted the prosecution. The prisoner was undefended.

    The prisoner was on board the steam ship Tamar; on board of which vessel the prosecutor (a boy of about twelve or fourteen years of age) was also employed. The vessel was lying at Twofold Bay at the time when the alleged offence, which was repeated on two occasions, was committed. Several witnesses were examined, both for the prosecution and the defence.

    The prisoner addressed the jury, generally denying the charge.

    The prosecuting counsel, in a speech of some length addressed the jury, commenting on the evidence and the facts of the case as they bore against the accused. The identity of the prisoner was the main point to be considered, the prosecutor recognising the accused only by his voice.

    His Honor having briefly summed up, the jury without leaving the box, returned a verdict of not guilty. The prisoner was discharged.


1  The Sydney Morning Herald, Fri 7 Mar 1856, p. 2.

2  SRNSW: NRS880, [9/6399], Supreme Court, Papers and depositions, Sydney, 1856, No. 19. Emphasis added.

3  SRNSW: NRS7453, [2/6262], Judiciary, SF Milford, J. Notebooks Criminal Causes, 1856-65, pp. 58-77. Emphasis added.

4  Justice Samuel Frederick Milford was born on 16 Sep 1797 in Exeter, England and educated at the Exeter High School, he further trained at St John’s College, Cambridge. Milford was called to the Bar on 10 May 1822 at Lincoln’s Inn and practised at Bristol and became a judge in the Diocesan Ecclesiastical Court. Milford and wife Eliza arrived in Sydney on 1 Jan 1843 on board the Hamlet. Three weeks later, on 23 Jan, he was admitted to the colonial bar and became master in Equity the next day. First of Jan 1856 saw him appointed an additional NSW Supreme Court judge and also presided at Brisbane CC. In 1865 against medical advice he attended the Maitland Assizes where he died on 19 May. He’s buried in the Anglican section of Camperdown cemetery after a state funeral. ADB, 1851-1890, vol. 5, pp. 251-2.

5  Spelled throughout document as stewart

6  Passengers?, passim

7  Hat?

Clearly, this – passim

9  Empire, Wed 9 Apr 1856, p. 6.

10 The Sydney Morning Herald, Wed 9 Apr 1856, p. 4.