Elizabeth Hunter

Evidence Type: Newspaper Report
7 August 1838

LAW

SUPREME CRIMINAL COURT

FRIDAY—Before Mr Justice BURTON and a Military Jury.

ELIZABETH HUNTER and ARTHUR O’BRIEN were indicted, the former for uttering a false certificate of marriage, purporting to be an extract from the St. James’s Church, Sydney, Register, of the marriage between the said ARTHUR O’BRIEN and ELIZABETH HUNTER, performed by the Revered R. CARTWRIGHT, in presence of JOHN SHANNON and MARY SHANNON, after the duly publishing of the banns, and signed by VINCENT JOSEPH WILLIAMS, parish clerk, and countersigned by MR CARTWRIGHT; and ARTHUR O’BRIEN stood indicted for aiding and abetting in the exhibiting the said forged certificate of marriage, at Windsor, on the 24th of April last.

On information he received, Constable NOEL CHAPMAN apprehended the prisoners at Windsor. The male prisoner stated himself to be free, produced his certificate of freedom, and stated the female prisoner to be his wife. When doubts were entertained of the female prisoner being his wife, she produced the certificate in question, which was secured and delivered to the Bench of Magistrates at Windsor.

Mr THOMAS RYAN, Chief Clerk in the Superintendent of Convicts’ office, deposed that the female prisoner was taken to the office, where she was identified as a prisoner of the crown illegally at large, and she appeared on the indents of the ship by which she arrived as a single women. She had been assigned to a free person named WELSH, and had not been reported in the customary way. Mr RYAN wrote to the Police Magistrate at Maitland, who reported that she had absconded, leaving a child behind her, and that the male prisoner was well known in that neighbourhood. Mr WESTGATE, the clerk of records at the police-office, deposed that he had searched the registry books of St James’s Church carefully, and there was no such entry as that exhibited in the alleged forged certificate of marriage.

His Honor, in putting the case to the jury, said that by the act 4 William the IV, chapter 66, section 20, it was made felony to utter, knowing it to be forged, and writing purporting to be a copy of, any register of marriages, deaths, births or baptisms, and as regarded the female prisoner perhaps they would have little doubt upon their minds; with respect to the male prisoner, the question was whether by his statement that she was his wife he assented to the document produced by her.

The jury retired for about ten minutes and returned a verdict of guilty against both the prisoners. The crown prosecutor prayed the judgment of the court on the prisoners, and his Honor said that he did not wish to pass a severe sentence on them, and sentenced the male prisoner to two years imprisonment in Sydney gaol, and the female to two years to the factory.


See Original: “LAW. SUPREME CRIMINAL COURT,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), Tuesday 7 August 1838, p.2