Spotlight: Trial of John Brown

Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Sunday 5 June 1808, page 1


On Monday a Court of Criminal Jurisdiction assembled; when John Brown was put to the bar and arraigned, on various charges of murder committed by him, assisted by Richard Lemon in the neighbourhood of the settlement at Port Dalrymple. Upon the investigation of the facts charged in the indictment it appeared, that the prisoner, who had been 20 months absent from the settlement, and had resorted to the woods, with his daring accomplice, was present at and accessary to the murder of John Curry, Robert Grindleston, and James Daniels; the particulars of which were recounted in last week’s Gazette; that in November last eight prisoners who had absconded from Hobart Town, joined company with them at Oyster Bay; at which time John Morey, the prisoner whom they had taken from the hut at the head of Port Dalrymple with the two soldiers whom they afterwards cruelly murdered, was then with them; that Morey had privately informed several of the other party of their horrible excesses; in consequence of which the two miscreants were themselves surprised and bound, in which situation they were left, and their guns and ammunition taken from them; that Morey joined the party of eight, who afterwards seized upon the Marcia, and were here capitally convicted for the offence; that after adding numerous robberies, to their wanton murders, a settler who had been surprised by them in the woods, and detained as a guide; but who had at length extricated himself by a promise of returning with such necessaries as they wanted, in exchange for the fat of emues, attended in seeming compliance with his appointment, with two other persons in company; and embracing a favourable opportunity, attacked them with intent to make them prisoners; but Lemon’s resistance preventing the possibility of taking him alive, he was shot dead, and Brown was then overpowered and secured. Lemon’s head being afterwards severed from the body, Brown was compelled to be the bearer of it into Hobart Town; from whence he was shortly after sent under an escort to Yorkton, where he was kept until sent to this Settlement in the Porpoise for trial. During his confinement at Yorkton he had in the moments of compunction recited various acts of enormity committed by himself and Lemon; he had repeatedly acknowledged himself privy to the crimes for which he was shortly to atone; as well as many acts of barbarity against the straggling natives, one of whom he said had been killed by them. It was most painful to listen to the unheard of catalogue of crimes with which the prisoner was charged; yet it was no less a matter of regret that the equally if not more infamous associate of his guilt had by a sudden and unexpected fate avoided the avenging power of the Law. After a long and thorough investigation the prisoner was found guilty, and sentenced to be hanged; his body to be dissected, and afterwards hung in chains. On Tuesday he was taken to the place of execution; where a Gentleman of the Missionary Society attended him. Here he appeared to be most sensibly impressed with the horrors of his situation; he frequently looked upwards in a supplicating posture; and when given over to the executioner he repeatedly requested the spectators to beseech the Divine Mercy in his behalf; but did not deny the justice of his sentence; the the latter part of which was carried into execution on Wednesday, by the body being hung in chains on a small island near the cove.

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