Unidentified Woman

Evidence Type: Newspaper Report
22 August 1837



FRIDAY.—Before Acting Chief Justice DOWLING, and a Jury of Civil inhabitants.

JOHN ARGENT was indicted for assaulting, and putting in bodily fear on the King’s highway on the Parramatta-road, on the 27th October, 1836, one THOMAS LEWIS, and stealing from his person, and against his will, sundry articles of female wearing apparel, the property of our Sovereign Lord the King, and one iron ring-bolt, the property of TERENCE MURRAY, Esq.

The circumstances of the case were simply these. LEWIS is an assigned servant to the estate of the late CAPTAIN BUNN, in which service he has been for upwards of six years. On the day laid in the indictment, he was proceeding with his employer’s team from Sydney to Lake George, having encamped on the previous evening, in a small paddock, at a short distance from the Sydney side of Ireland’s public-house. He had with him a female assigned servant belonging to the overseer of MRS. BUNN’s estate, whom he had brought down from Lake George for the purpose of returning her to the factory, but as she was unaccompanied with the warrant of a magistrate, the keeper of that establishment refused to receive her. LEWIS was therefore obliged to take her back to Lake George. Between two and three in the morning of the day laid in the indictment, LEWISH was lying asleep under his dray, the woman at a little distance on one side of it, and another male servant of MRS. BUNN’s (who has since absconded) on the opposite side. LEWIS having felt his clothes being violently taken from near his head, was awakened in consequence, and lay in a recumbent posture, as if still asleep, watching for the depredator. In a few minutes he discovered the prisoner in the act of throwing down his (LEWIS’s) waistcoat and trousers, upon which the latter jumped up, and asked the prisoner what he was doing with his clothes in his hand? The prisoner then ran into the bush. LEWIS immediately went to an adjoining hut by the road-side, where he had been in company with the prisoner on the previous evening, expecting that the prisoner would return there. In this he was not disappointed, for the prisoner made his appearance there in the course of an hour, and LEWIS immediately laid hold of him. Shortly afterwards, CORPORAL LANE of the Mounted Police, who was escorting the Governor’s cart into Sydney,  passed the hut, and LEWIS crossed the road to tell him of the attempted robbery. LEWIS was not at that time aware, that his dray had been robbed of any thing, but he subsequently discovered that a box of wearing apparel, belonging to MR. MURCHINSON, and a bag containing the woman’s clothes, and the iron ring-bolt, had been taken away. While LEWIS was speaking to CORPORAL LANE, the prisoner again escaped into the bush—the Corporal did not see him, but heard a rustling noise among the trees, as if some one was going through the scrub. He then made enquiries at the hut above alluded to, and found that the prisoner was a convict shoemaker in the employ of DR. RAMSAY, who lived a short distance on the road. The Corporal immediately proceeded to DR. RAMSAY’s estate, and going to the hut occupied by the assigned servants, found the prisoner was absent. He waited for about an hour, when he saw the prisoner coming home in an opposite direction to where the team was, apparently in a state of intoxication; he took him into custody, and conveyed him to the Sydney Police-office. On his return back he commenced a search for the lost property, and ultimately found it secreted in the bush, about two hundred yards from where LEWIS and his party encamped. The prisoner’s master had retained MR. FOSTER to defend him, and the line of defence adopted, was that the prisoner was going to the hut for the purpose of visiting the daughter of the old man residing there, with whom he had carried on an illicit intercourse., and was the reputed father of her child. LEWIS, however, swore positively to the prisoner being the man who had his clothes in his hand. The learned Judge told the Jury, that there was not sufficient evidence against the prisoner to sustain the capital part of the charge, as the articles alleged to have been stolen were not sufficiently near the person of LEWIS, at the time of their asportation. They would therefore apply their minds to the larceny only, and say, upon the evidence, whether the case had been made out to their satisfaction. The Jury returned a verdict of “Guilty” of larceny, and the Court immediately sentenced the prisoner to be worked in irons on the public roads of the Colony for two years.


Female Factory Online, (femalefactoryonline.org), “Law Report of UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN,” https://femalefactoryonline.org/law-reports/r18370822/, accessed [insert current date].

See Original

© Copyright Michaela Ann Cameron 2017