The number of convicts which it was intended to receive for the present into the New South Wales corps being determined, a warrant of emancipation passed the seal of the territory, giving conditional freedom to twenty three persons of that description, seven of whom were transported for life, and three had between six and nine years to serve, having been sent out for fourteen. The condition of the pardon was, their continuing to serve in the corps into which they had enlisted until they should be regularly discharged therefrom.
Several instances of irregularity and villainy among the convicts occurred during this month. From Parramatta, information was received, that in the night of the 15th four people broke into the house of John Randall, a settler, where with large bludgeons they had beaten and nearly murdered two men who lived with him. The hands and faces of these miscreants were blackened; and it was observed, that they did not speak during the time they were in the hut. It was supposed, that they were some of the new-comers, and meant to rob the house; and this they would have effected, but for the activity of the two men whom they attacked, and for the resistance which they met with from them. At this time seven of the male convicts lately arrived from Ireland, with one woman, had absconded into the woods. Some of these people were afterwards brought in to Parramatta, where they confessed that they had planned the robbing of the millhouse, the governor’s, and other houses; and that they were to be visited from time to time in their places of concealment by others of their associates who were to reside in the town, and to supply them with provisions, and such occasional information as might appear to be necessary to their safety. They also acknowledged that the assault at Randall’s hut was committed by them and their companions.
About the same time the house of Mr. Atkins at Parramatta was broken into, and a large quantity of provisions, and a cask of wine, removed from his store-room to the garden fence, where they left them on being discovered and pursued. They, however, got clear off, though without their booty.
At Sydney, in the night of the 26th, a box belonging to John Sparrow (a convict) was broke open, and three watches stolen out, one of which with the seals had cost thirty-two guineas, and belonged to an officer. This theft was committed at the hospital, where Sparrow was at the time a patient, although able to work occasionally at his business; and being a young man of abilities as a watchmaker, and of good character, was employed by most of the gentlemen of the settlement. Suspicion fell upon a notorious thief who was in the same ward, and who had some time before proposed to another man to take the box. On his examination he accused two others of the theft, but with such equivocation in his tale as clearly proved the falsehood of it. As there was no evidence against him, except the proposal just mentioned, he was discharged, and during the month nothing was heard of the watches. An old man belonging to the hospital was robbed at the same time of eight guineas and some dollars, which he had got together for the purpose of paying for his passage and provisions in any ship that would take him home.