It might be supposed, that with this exercise, and the company of their females, their angry and turbulent passions would be at rest, and that the idea of murder could not enter their minds; yet have they been known to start away, in search of some unsuspecting object of their revenge or hatred, who before the morning has received a dozen spears through his body: and this is man in his uncultivated state!
Several offenders having been secured for trial, it became necessary to assemble the court of criminal judicature; and on the 16th Simon Taylor was brought before it, accused of the murder of his wife; of which offence being clearly convicted, he received sentence of death, and was executed on the 20th at Parramatta. This unhappy man was thoroughly sensible of the enormity of his guilt, and in his last moments admonished the spectators against indulging in drunkenness, which had brought him to that untimely and disgraceful end.
At the same court, one man, Robert Lowe, was adjudged corporal punishment, and one year’s hard labour, for embezzling some of the live stock of Government, which had been entrusted to his care. He was a free man, and had been one of the convicts who were with Captain Riou in the Guardian, when her voyage to New South Wales was unfortunately frustrated by her striking upon an island of ice; on account of which, and of their good conduct before and after the accident, directions had been given for their receiving conditional emancipation, and being allowed to provide for their own maintenance. Few of these people, however, were in the end found to merit this reward and indulgence, as their future conduct had proved; and this last act of delinquency pointed out the necessity of a free person being sent out from England to superintend the public live stock, with such an allowance as would make him at once careful of his conduct, and faithful in the execution of his trust.
It should seem that the commission of crimes was never to cease in this settlement. Scarcely had the last court of judicature sent one man to the gallows, when a highway robbery was committed between the town of Sydney and Parramatta. Three men rushed from an adjoining wood, and, knocking down a young man who was travelling to the last mentioned town, rifled his pockets of a few dollars. On his recovering, finding that only one man remained, who was endeavouring to twist his handkerchief from his neck, he swore that no one person should plunder him, and had a struggle with this fellow, who, not being the strongest of the two, was secured and taken into Parramatta. A court was immediately assembled for his trial; but the evidence was not thought sufficient to convict him, and he was consequently acquitted. The want of any corroborating circumstance on the part of the prosecutor compelled the court to this acquittal.
A quantity of fresh pork having been for some time received into the store, there were found at this period six months salt provisions remaining; which, without this supply would have been all consumed, and the colony left without animal food, save in the article of live stock, a resource on which it could not have been prudent to have touched as a supply, except in a case of the last necessity.