Samuel Cann

Evidence Type: Newspaper Report
4 November 1843




Before GILBERT ELIOTT, Esq., P. M., M. ANDERSON, Esq., J. P., and THOMAS FORSTER, Esq., J. P.

DENNIS HANNAN, late overseer to the Parramatta Hospital, and JOHN HAMILTON, appeared on summons to answer a charge of fraud and embezzlement, at the Colonial Hospital, Parramatta. Mr. NICHOLS appeared for Mr. HAMILTON, and Mr. PUREFOY for Mr. HANNAN.

PATRICK HILL, Esq., Surgeon in charge of the Parramatta Hospital, being sworn, deposed as follows:—The information on which the summonses were granted, and now read in the presence of the defendants, is true. I produce a book kept by the clerk of the hospital, of the daily expenditure of every article in the establishment; the passbook now produced was handed to me by RILEY, the sub-contractor; also another book, from the same person, containing an entry of all wood supplied by him for the use of the different Government establishments in this town; the document marked A is a statement shewing the quantity of wood delivered to the hospital by him from 1st May, 1842, to 1st May, 1843; it likewise shews the quantity actually paid for by the Commissariat during that period; the quantity delivered by RILEY amounts to 254, 627 lbs., the quantity paid for by the Commissariat 454,413 lbs; it also appears by this statement that, excepting the months of June and July, 1842, an extra quantity above the fixed scale has been paid for; I also produce the receipts given in by HAMILTON at the Board of Inquiry; they are from HANNAN to him, and purport to be receipts for the quantity of wood supplied by HAMILTON, to meet deficiencies caused by RILEY; they are rolled together, and marked B.

Cross-examined by Mr. PUREFOY—I have been in charge of the hospital since 1st January, 1841; it is part of my duty to ascertain that the Government supplies are duly furnished by the contractors monthly; the book of hospital expenditure from May, 1842, to November, 1843, was kept by JAMES SCOTT, and from that time to May, 1843, by JAMES TEMPLE FRENCH; I had no means of ascertaining the quantities of wood unless from the books and the statement of the overseer, whose particular duty it is to receive the supplies; I have seldom signed the monthly accounts without enquiry, and never without reference to the books; it is upon my verifying the accounts that the Commissariat pay; each of the monthly supplies of wood have been furnished upon my certificate, similar to the one I now produce; it is also necessary that I should sign a receipt that the articles have been duly supplied by the contractor, according to the return produced D; the price of supplies was generally filled up by the clerk of the hospital; in March last HANNAN complained that RILEY, the subcontractor, had failed to supply the wood; I directed him to apply to Mr. HAMILTON; he afterwards told me he had done so, and that HAMILTON had purchased a load; he also complained of the bad quality supplied by RILEY more than once; I first learnt that there was an irregularity in the supply from a person named CANN; HANNAN stated to me that CANN was making enquiries referring to the supply of wood, which he thought reflected on him, and requested me to enquire into the matter; I at once did so; during the inquiry before the board, CANN was dismissed from his situation as dispenser at the hospital; I had at first a good opinion of HANNAN, and did not at all doubt his integrity; HANNAN’s complaint of the conduct of CANN led to the investigation.

By the Bench.—CANN’s dismissal did not occur from any complaint made by me.

By the Bench.—While CANN was under me I had no reason to doubt his integrity.

MICHAEL RILEY, Publican, of Liverpool, on oath states, I had an agreement with Mr. HOSKING, from May, 1842, to March, 1843, to supply the hospital at Parramatta with wood, and from March till the present time I have agreed with Mr. MILLER for the same purpose; I have supplied all the wood I have been required to do, with three or four exceptions, from 1st May to present time; I can read,  but cannot write; the pass-book produced was given to me by a man named JOHN NULTY; HAMILTON used to pay me for the wood supplied; the wood required for the hospital during the last year was less than what was required before; shortly after Mr. HANNAN came to the hospital, I saw to him that the wood required was much less than it used to be; he said, “he could not help it;” I could have supplied more if it had been required; I have seen either three or four loads of wood left at the hospital by other people for HAMILTON; there might be more; I refer to one occasion when the wood was objected to; I cannot tell the other occasions on which the wood was supplied.

By the Bench.—HANNAN has frequently applied to me for wood; I always supplied it; he never applied without my doing so; I was paid according to the pass-book produced by Mr. HAMILTON; I cannot tell why I did not supply the wood on the occasion referred to.

By Mr. PUREFOY.—I never spoke but once to HANNAN as to the quantity required at the hospital, and that was shortly after his coming to the hospital; the place from where the wood is brought to the hospital is about 1 1/2 or 2 miles distant from it; I never delivered a load of wood there myself; JOHN NULTY and a man named MORGAN are the only persons who supplied wood there for me; I have been absent from home, from May 1842 to May 1843, about two or three days a week; I have only occasionally seen the wood loaded going into the town,  but I could not say whether the wood was for the hospital or elsewhere; I have been at the hospital once a week for the last 12 months, but never spoke to Mr. HANNAN on the subject of the quantity required but once; I cannot swear that any load of wood that left my place ever reached the hospital.

JAMES TOD GOODSIR, A C.G., being sworn, deposed—I produce a statement, shewing the quantity of wood supplied to the hospital from 1st May, 1842, to 31st May, 1843; HUGHES and HOSKING contracted from May, 1842, to 31st March, 1843, since then Mr. NEW.

By Mr. PUREFOY—The account I produce was prepared by myself and my clerk taken from the monthly abstracts, the original vouchers being forwarded to England; the vouchers furnished by Dr. HILL are copied into a book kept in my office, at the account I produce is from that book; I have no other means of knowing the correctness of the supplies but Dr. HILL’s voucher.

SAMUEL CANN, late dispenser at the Parramatta hospital, on oath, states—I was dispenser from June, 1842, to July, 1843; about the 20th or 21st of last June, I made enquiry of the subcontractor relative to wood supplied to the hospital; on the 22nd of that month there was a complaint made by HANNAN to Dr. HILL concerning me; I was called for, and in HANNAN’s presence asked “what it was I had to state about the wood?” I gave Dr. HILL a memorandum I had copied from RILEY’s book; I produce the same now; it relates to supplies for March, April, and May, 1843; my reason for making the extract was, I had a suspicion the proper quantity did not come into the yard; I did not receive what I was entitled to; Dr. HILL compared the extract I gave him with the expenditure book; he spoke to HANNAN and asked him how he accounted for it; he said that what RILEY had not supplied had been furnished by Mr. HAMILTON; Dr. HILL also asked the clerk, FRENCH, his opinion, who stated that Mr. HAMILTON had supplied some wood now and then, but not the whole of it; during March, 1843, I took particular notice of the wood that was supplied, and there was only four loads received from RILEY, and another load, but I do not know by whom it was delivered; on the same evening I called the gatekeeper, woodcutter, messenger, and cook, and examined them in the presence of HANNAN about the supply of wood; on the 23rd June Dr. HILL asked HANNAN if any person had supplied wood during the month but RILEY; he said there had not; I heard the cook complain to HANNAN about the want of wood; there was one day nothing to burn but an old verandah post; I have seen RILEY’s cart sent away from the hospital with a good load of iron bark on it; since 22nd June last, there has been more wood supplied than could be consumed; HAMILTON used to supply wood after this time, he never did so before.

By Mr. PUREFOY—It was not in consequence of any statement made by Mr. HANNAN respecting my interference with his duties that I caused this enquiry to be made; I had a suspicion in the matter for several months previous; I was medical dispenser; the medical stores were under HANNON’s [sic] charge, but the medicines required for the dispensary were mine; the average number of patients I had to dispense medicines for, including the factory and hospital, were 70 to 80, daily; I visited the factory daily; it is about a mile from the hospital; the hour of my attendance was uncertain; I was generally detained an hour and a-half; my time was not fully occupied; I got the memorandum from RILEY before enquiry took place, I believe it was his clerk who gave it me; I have seen the wood supplied weighed; I have found deficiency in my own supply of wood for months before the enquiry; I did not mention it to Dr. HILL, as HANNAN told me I was not entitled to wood.

By Mr. NICHOLS.—I have been absent from Parramatta three times for a day together; I have never been away two whole days; I was twice in Sydney, and once in Windsor; I have been absent in the Town for several hours; Dr. HILL threatened to report me to Dr. THOMPSON for drunkenness, but did not do so in consequence of my good character.

By the Bench—The wood was supplied in large logs from RILEY, but in billets from HAMILTON; if any wood was supplied during my absence from the hospital I would know it, as my bed-room window overlooks the place where it is kept.

WM. TURNER, per Mangles, on oath, states—I am cook at the hospital; have been so employed fourteen months past; RILEY supplies the wood for the hospital, I generally see it delivered; three loads have been purchased—two by HANNAN, and one by HAMILTON; the two purchased by HANNAN were purchased because the wood sent by RILEY was bad; I have repeatedly spoken to HANNAN about there not being enough wood; he said if there was more used, he should be obliged to pay for it out of his own pocket; I have had plenty of wood since 2nd June last; I never knew HANNAN to send to RILEY for wood, that it was not supplied; I have been constantly at the hospital during the last twelve months, and I swear that not more than three loads have been bought—I was called by HANNAN to see it delivered.

By the Bench—I have seen RILEY’s drays twice sent away from the hospital, when they brought good wood.

By Mr. PUREFOY—I do not know the cause of their being so sent away.

By Mr. NICHOLS—I never had any conversation with Mr. CANN about this matter.

By the Bench.—When I was sent for by Dr. HILL I did not know what I was to be examined about.

JOHN HUNTER, per Maitland, being sworn, states—I am messenger to the hospital; I have sometimes to go to the contractor’s; I have been to RILEY’s once or twice a month about wood; I have known RILEY to fail sending for two or three days; I have only seen two loads over and above what was supplied by RILEY come into the hospital; there has been been plenty of wood since June last.

JOHN DUDLEY, per Forth, sworn, states—I am gate keeper at the hospital; have been so, with the exception of ten days, since 27th November last; the wood received at the hospital, with the exception of three loads, has been from RILEY; before 22nd June last I never saw Mr. HAMILTON’s carts being wood; on two occasions I saw two loads of wood, which appeared to me to be good wood, sent away from the hospital by HANNAN; there was frequently wood wanting; I had to complain myself about it; this has not been the case since June last.

PATRICK ROGERS, per Middlesex, being sworn, deposed—I have been wood-cutter at the hospital for three years; RILEY supplied the wood, with the exception of three loads, of which, one was got by Mr. HANNAN, and two by Mr. HAMILTON; I have frequently been to RILEY for wood, but never to Mr. HAMILTON.

By the Bench. There has been no scarcity of wood since June last. Before that there were always complaints. We were obliged to burn verandah post.

WILLIAM REID, Foreman of Works, on oath stated, I had occasion sometime in May last to complain to Dr. HILL, of the Hospital servants burning the old verandah posts and old palings at the hospital.

JOHN NULTY, being sworn, deposed, I am employed by RILEY, as a carter, to deliver wood; I was in his service from January last to September 1st; Mr. HANNAN used to receive the wood delivered at the hospital; the book now produced is the pass-book in which the quantity of wood received was entered. I was turned out of the hospital yard once by HANNAN when I had a load of ironbark wood, and another time from the gate with a load of stringybark wood; on the first occasion HANNAN refused to take the wood because I would not take what he thought proper to allow me, as he said he had not ordered it.

By Mr. PUREFOY. Mr. HANNAN never refused to receive but two loads of wood.

JAMES SCOTT, per Lord Lyndoch, on oath stated, I was clerk at the hospital from December, 1838, to December, 1842; the book, from 1st May, 1842, to November 30th, 1842, was kept by me by order of Mr. HANNAN; he was cognizant of every entry it contained, and from it the contractor’s monthly accounts were made.

JAMES TEMPLE FRENCH, per Earl Grey, sworn. I succeeded the previous witness as clerk. [This witness’s evidence was to the same effect as the preceding one].

It being now six o’clock, the Court adjourned till ten the following morning.

See Original: “COUNTRY NEWS. PARRAMATTA. POLICE OFFICE, MONDAY, OCTOBER 30,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 – 1848), Saturday 4 November 1843, p.3