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1884, William Cox - Unfit For Publication
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The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Sat 19 Apr 1884 1


    Yesterday morning this Court opened at East Maitland before His Honor Mr Justice Faucett. Mr FH Bartlett, JP, acted for the Sheriff, and Mr AG Plunkett was Clerk of Arraigns. The Crown Prosecutor was Mr BR Wise. The other barristers present were:—Messrs E Rogers, W Edmunds, Herbert Elles, and AG Ralston. Mr Charles R Walsh represented the Crown Solicitor.

    The Clerk read Her Majesty’s proclamation for the suppression of vice and immorality.


    Mr Samuel Chapman, JP, was sworn in as Coroner for the district of Newcastle.

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The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Thu 24 Apr 1884 2



    POLICE COURT.—On April 12, before Thos Drinan, Esq, JP, Mary Ann Jones was charged with drunkenness. It being her first offence, she was admonished and discharged.—On the 17th inst, before JN Brooks, Esq, PM, William Cox was charged with bestiality. There were two charges against him, [bestiality with a bitch and mare ], and he was defended by Mr Young of Maitland. The evidence was wholly unfit for publication, and prisoner was committed to take his trial at the Circuit Court, Maitland, on the following day, 18th inst.

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The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Sat 26 Apr 1884 3

FRIDAY, APRIL 25, 1884.
(Before his Honor Mr Justice Faucett.)

    The Court re-opened at 10 o’clock. Mr BR Wise prosecuted for the Crown.


    William Cox, aged about 60 years, was charged with having on the 12th day of February, at Elderslie, committed this offence.

    The accused pleaded not guilty, and was defended by Mr FE Rogers, instructed by Mr RW Thompson.

    The details were of a disgustingly filthy nature, and we cannot print particulars. The offence was said to have been committed in a barn on the premises of the accused, about 11 o’clock in the morning, and he was caught in the commission of the act by members of his own family,—some of them being young children. Eliza Cox,  the accused’s eldest daughter, aged 21 years was the principal witness, and she was subjected to a lengthened cross-examination. She laid the information against her father on Easter Monday, and her reason for so doing was, she alleged, in consequence of the dreadful example the crime would set to the young children. On the same day she charged her father with a similar offence on the 12th January. In regard to the latter case she admitted having stated at the police court that she and her little sister Matilda were attracted by the offence being committed and gratified their curiosity by looking. This offence was committed after 11 o’clock at night. She did not tell any person about the occurrences till Easter Monday when she laid the information. In the mean time she saw Constable Ritchie, but did not tell him, and there were persons living in the neighbourhood. She knew fifteen or twenty married women in the locality, and she never told either of them about what took place. She knew what bestiality was by having seen it described in a book which she found in a paddock. The book had no cover, and when she read some of the contents she destroyed it because she found that it was not fit for her to read. She did not know its title. She also read the term in the newspaper, a married sister having called her attention to it. It was about six months since she learned the meaning of the word. The witness further admitted that she said on the Saturday before Easter Monday “We will put him somewhere where he will not kill us.” The accused was the father of twelve children. The girl further said that she had quarrelled with the accused, and he had found fault with her for purchasing goods from a hawker. In re-examination, witness stated that it was because the accused had repeated the offence between February and Easter that she laid the information. It was further elicited by counsel for the defence that the barn was situate near the main road leading to Branxton, and anyone passing could see what was taking place. She did not tell her father what she had seen as she was afraid he would kill her if he found out she knew. She did not remember what other words she saw in the book she found in the paddock. It had in it pictures of ships and houses—William Cox, aged 11 years, grandson of the accused, was also examined. He admitted that he stated at the police court: “We all stood looking on,” referring to his brothers and sisters.—when Constable Ritchie stated the charge to the accused he said “It’s beastly; what won’t they charge me with next?”

    Mr Rogers said he hardly knew whether the jury desired to hear him. It seemed to him that they would hardly find a jury in the world that would believe the story; and the most painful part of the case was that the prisoner’s eldest daughter (who came into court with a strong feeling against the father) was the main witness. He argued that the charge was the result of morbid, insane action of the mind, coupled with a strong hatred against the prisoner. The man was the father of twelve children and his wife was living. Did they think that men became brutes in their old age. When the poor old man was charged with the offence he replied, “It’s beastly; what won’t they charge me with next?” He submitted it was a case which the jury would scout as being an invention.

    The Crown Prosecutor briefly replied.

    His Honor summed up. It was an abominable offence, and no doubt the crime had been committed by some persons, and there was also no doubt that persons had been charged with the commission of it, and the evidence, to say the least, did not support the charges. Cases of that kind depended on the degree of credit they attached to the evidence of the witnesses; and it was important that they should ascertain if there was any motive, and also to consider if there was corroborative evidence. His Honor reviewed the evidence and commented on several features of the case. With regard to the statement of the daughter that she read certain terms in the newspapers and in a book his Honor said it was true that some some [sic] wretched newspapers did call attention to cases of a filthy nature in bold type and attractive headlines of a kind he did not wish to refer to there. It was said that it was with a desire to caution the public, and did so by informing the public that these offences were rife.

    The jury retired at ten minutes past 12 o’clock. At a quarter to 1 they returned to ask his Honor if the girl’s mother was at home at the time. The daughter [Eliza Cox] was recalled and stated that her mother was in Sydney. She left home in last June, and has not since returned. Witness could read and write; she had not written to her mother, and she had not written to her or her sister for eight months; her mother stayed in Sydney for fear her husband would kill her.—

    To Mr Rogers: She did not say at the police court “My mother is enjoying better health now, and did not do so at Elderslie;” she did not know her mother’s address.

    After a further deliberation of three or four minutes the jury returned a verdict of not guilty. The Crown Prosecutor said he did not intend to proceed with the other charge. The accused was then released from custody.


1  The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Sat 19 Apr 1884, p. 3.

2  The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Thu 24 Apr 1884, p. 7. Emphasis added.

3  The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Sat 26 Apr 1884, p. 4. Emphasis added.