Several of her crew having behaved in a most insolent and mutinous manner to the officer of the Reliance, having armed themselves against the constables with cutlasses, and one of them having presented a musket at the chief constable, they were secured, ordered to be punished on board their own ship, and afterwards turned on shore. But it was necessary to do something more than this; and, a criminal court being assembled for the purpose, the master of the ship was brought to trial, charged with aiding and abetting a female convict to make her escape from the colony. As the offence consisted in aiding a convict, it was requisite to prove that such was the person found on board his ship; but, upon referring to a list of the prisoners who were embarked in the Royal Admiral, the ship in which Arm Holmes had been sent out to New South Wales, no specific term of transportation was found annexed to her name. On the question then, whether the master had aided a convict in making an escape, he was acquitted, it not being possible by any document to prove that Holmes was at that moment a convict. But the master was reprehensible in concealing any person whatever in his ship, and ought to have felt the awkwardness of his situation, in being brought before a court for the breach of an order expressly issued a short time before to guard him and others against the offence that he had committed.
When the Hillsborough was searched, not less than thirty convicts were found to have been received on board, against the orders and without the knowledge of the officers, and secreted by the seamen. This ship and the Hunter, shortly after these transactions, sailed on their respective voyages.
But although, by the measures which had been adopted, it was supposed that none of these people had escaped in the ships, yet many were still lurking in the woods. About this time a young ox was missing from the government stock-yard at Toongabbie, and there was every reason to suppose had been driven away and slaughtered by some of those wretches. In the hope of discovering the offender, a notice was published, holding out a conditional emancipation, and permission to become a settler, to any convict for life, who would come forward with the information necessary to convict the persons concerned in this destructive kind of robbery; and an absolute emancipation, with permission to quit the colony, to any one transported only for a limited time; but nothing was ever adduced that could lead to a discovery.
The scarcity of wheat at this time in the public stores rendering it necessary to deduct two pounds from the twelve which were issued, addition was made to the weekly allowance of salt meat, eight pounds and a half of beef being issued in lieu of five, and five pounds of pork in lieu of three. This alteration was to continue until the new crops came in.