Moreton Bay: Sydney Monitor 1832

The Sydney Monitor Wednesday 25 July 1832 p.2
[text corrected by mark gregory 2011]
 IN this Journal of date the 17th March last, a report appeared of the trial and conviction of Patrick Mc'Guire of Moreton Bay, a prisoner of the Crown, for the murder of Matthew Gallagher another prisoner of the same place. Our Reporter made the following remark in the course of his report. "It appeared in the course of the trial, that the prisoner had received 100 lashes the day before the deed was done, 50 more being due to him. The prisoner when called upon for his defence, offered none, remaining perfectly unmoved, as if resigned to his fate." It also came out in evidence, that instantly after the perpetration, Mc'Guire adopted the sentiments of many others who committed murder at Moreton Bay when Captain Logan commanded there, namely, that he had slaughtered his fellow prisoner merely because he was weary of his existence, and wished to go up to Sydney to be hanged.

Captain Clunie has written to a friend in Sydney, to contradict the testimony given above, so far as to say, that Mc'Guire did not get 100 lashes the day before he committed the murder. Fifty lashes were hanging over his head at that period, in consequence of his having been sentenced thereto for running away the second time within a month. For the first offence he was punished only with a few hours extra work. For the second, he was sentenced to receive 50 lashes; but in consequence of the murder, the sentence was never put in execution.

Captain Clunie also writes to his friend in Sydney, that in a report of another trial of, a prisoner, from Morton Bay, our reporter stated, that "a man named O'Mara, who had informed against an overseer, Blaher, had been about to receive 50 lashes, &c." Capt. Clunie, says, that O'Meara not only did not get 50 lashes, but that he was not to get them at any time, nor had he been threatened there with in any way, or with any other punishment.

On searching our Journal, we find that in the Sydney Monitor of the 22nd of February last, there is reported the trial of John Blewer, (alias Blaher,) a prisoner, for attempting to murder at Moreton Bay on the 19th Nov. 1831, one Thomas O'Meara, another prisoner, by cutting him in the throat with a razor On this trial, one Reily Smith, (also a prisoner from Moreton Bay,) is reported as having sworn, that "O'Meara, on the day he was cut in the throat, had been warned for the Court to get 50 lashes about some pork amid bread, supposed to have been stolen from the Courthouse; and that he heard him say, that be- fore he would go to Court and take 50 lashes, he would put an end to his existence." And Martin Smith, (another prisoner) swore, that O'Meara said to him the day before he was cut in the throat, that "he supposed he should be punished ; but that before he would take 50 lashes, or give any scoundrel the satisfaction of seeing him punished, he would put an end to his existence."

Captain Clunie seems to complain of the report of these expressions. At all events, he denies that O'Meara was ever threatened by him with 50 lashes.

Certainly not. Whoever reads Reily Smith and Martin Smith's several testimony, will perceive clearly, that what they intended to express was, that if O'Meara did go to Court, and was convicted of the theft with which he had been accused, he would most likely be punished with 50 lashes. A very natural conclusion ; and not in the least reflecting on the Magistrate who was to try him.

Captain Clunie also writes to his friend res- pecting a paragraph in our leading article of the Syd. Mon of the 22nd February, which runs thus. "In the trial of one Byford, Mackintosh, chief constable of Moreton Bay, whom Byford attempted to murder, acknowledged, that the prisoner never had a blanket allowed him ; that blankets and slops were often omitted to be sent down by the Commissariat of Sydney; and that in such cases, the prisoners got neither blankets nor slops when due. The ration of food allowed the prisoners was (formerly) six ounces of maize meal porridge before day light. At eleven o'clock one pound of beef each man, or eight ounces of pork ; (quere—what is the quality of the meat? Ed ;) a pint of pease among seven men, and six ounces of maize-cake each man. No supper. That since that period a portion of wheaten bread had been substitlited for the maize-cake. Hours of work, from daylight to 11 A. M. and from 2 to sun-down. Sugar was sometimes allowed to their breakfasts (of maize porridge), at the rate of an ounce per man, but as sugar, like the slops and blankets, was seldom in the stores, the seventh part of a pint of pease was given as a substitute."

Captain Clunie remarks on this paragraph, that the beef is good, and is the same which is eaten by himself and the officers of the settlement. Also, that the prisoners now get more supper than they.can eat and that, in addition to their ration, they in general get as many vegetables as they can consume. If this were the case at the time the chief constable gave his testimony, (and we believe Captain Clunie,) the chief constable did not tell "the whole truth and nothing but the truth." Nevertheless, while Capt. C- is quite right in vindicating the Government from the implied charge of continuing to ill feed the the men with rotten American beef, and bad maize, and hall wheaten meal, as Darling certainly did in Capt. Logan's time (by which the men were accustomed to devour putrid sharks, dead dogs, and other carrion, and to rush to the river and pull up the flags, in order to get at their sweet root); at the sante time, supposing the chief constable's testimony as to the ill-feeding of the men to be true, would not have reflected the least on Capt. Clunie ? Two years ago, we made known the bad feeding of the men at Moreton Bay to Darling? and if he did not choose to alter it, what business would it have been of Captain Clunie? But it appears, the feeding is now improved from unwholesome to wholesome food, and from a starving to a plentiful ration. Therefore, the chief constable was wrong to swear in such a way, as to cause the public here to think the contrary; and Captain Clunie is certainly right, in stating the real truth for the information of the public of London and New South Wales respectively.

We shall be glad to learn, that the full ration is continued, seeing the men work from 4½ to 7½ in summer, with a single intermission of three hours for dinner. Such labour in a tropical climate, (the men being coerced by the Overseers on pain of being severely flogged for skulking, unless sick,) requires a full ration of wholesome food.

But the tale of the blankets and slops being short, remains uncontradicted by Captain Clunie. We are informed that the great flow of perspiration in working eleven hours in the sun of Moreton Bay, renders the men very chilly, and that the absence of clothes and blankets has caused intense suffering there. We doubt not from what we hear of Captain Clunie's character for intelligence and humanity, that whenever the slops and bedding are due, but do not arrive, that he will not hesitate to inform Governor Bourke of the neglect. We know, that neither he, nor any other offlicer who might wish to retain his post, dared to do this in Darling's tyrannical reign. We are ready to prove this by a case or two in point, if required.

For the cruelties practised at Moreton Bay, both as to ill-feeding and ill-clothing the men, and the most dreaful scourging, the same being inflicted without trial by the monster Logan, we refer our Readers both in London' and the Colony, to the Sydney Monitors of date the 17th July and 14th Aug. 1830 Also, for other cruelties practised in the reign of Darling, we refer them to the Sydney Monitor of dates the 24th April, 30th June, 7th July, and 7th August 1830, respectively.