One man, John Chapman Morris, was found guilty of forgery by the the same court, and received sentence of death; but as this had been determined by the majority of one voice only, whereas the letters patent for establishing the court expressly say that five of the members are to concur in a capital case, this business must, as provided also by the patent, be referred to the King in council. It was hoped that this circumstance would but seldom occur, as the object of it must, during the reference, remain a prisoner, with all the miserable sensations that a person would experience under sentence of death. The time that he must linger in this uncomfortable situation could not well be less than fifteen or eighteen months; and, admitting that the length of it might have deadened the acuteness of his first sensations, and rendered him thoughtless as to the event, yet how would that acuteness be aggravated, should, unhappily for him, the sentence be at last confirmed by the royal approbation!*
[* It may be pleasing to the reader to learn, that both Isaac Nichols (see Chapter XVII viz: “The criminal court was only once assembled during this month; when one man was condemned to death for a burglary, and another transported for fourteen years to Norfolk Island. This man, Isaac Nichols, an overseer, had been accused of receiving stolen goods; but from some circumstances which occurred on the trial, the sentence was respited until his Majesty’s pleasure could be taken.”) and this man, have recently received his Majesty’s pardon.]
The body of the settlers having again represented their total inability to bear any reduction in the price of the wheat of this season, on account, not only of their former heavy losses, but of the exorbitant price of all those necessaries of life which they required for paying their labourers, the governor at length consented to receive the wheat only at the former price of ten shillings per bushel, and they were at the same time told to prepare for the reduction that would certainly take place in the next season. He also permitted a certain quantity of wine and spirits from the prize to be landed, for the immediate accommodation of those who had their crops to secure, and to prevent the impositions to which they were subject in being obliged to procure them from a second or third hand.
On the 24th the Reliance and Francis schooner returned from Norfolk Island, with the relief of the military, having been absent on that service between seven and eight weeks.
About ten o’clock of the night of the same day, the log gaol at Parramatta was wilfully and maliciously set on fire, and totally consumed. The prisoners who were confined were with difficulty snatched from the flames, but so miserably scorched, that one of them died in a few days. This building was a hundred feet in length, remarkably strong, and had been constructed with much labour and expense.