Spotlight: The Trial of Richard Lemon and Company

Before we dive into these archival pieces, it is important to provide some context. Although the crimes discussed herein are not strictly bushranging, these are some of the only freely available records of one of Tasmania’s (and indeed, Australia’s) earliest bushrangers – Richard Lemon. In the following years, Lemon would make a name for himself as a robber, murderer and tormentor of Aboriginal people in Van Diemen’s Land before meeting a suitably violent end.


Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Sunday 27 October 1805, page 2


SYDNEY.

On Friday a Bench of Magistrates assembled; when a labourer named Purvey, committed from Hawkesbury on suspicion of embezzling wheat from his employer, underwent an examination and was remanded for a full Bench.

Richard Lemon, a lad about 17 years of age, stood charged with various robberies perpetrated within the space of the last few months.

F. Evans, a labourer and indented servant to J. Harris, Esq. stood charged as an accomplice; Elizabeth Lily stood charged as a receiver of stolen goods; and Henry Harding, a fellow servant with the two male delinquents, was accused of having partaken of the property feloniously obtained by Lemon, well knowing in what manner it had been so obtained; and moreover with having encouraged and taken advantage of his vices, by swindling him at cards of the wages of his iniquity.

A quantity of wearing apparel found in the possession of Elizabeth Lily, was proved to be the property of I. Sutherland, a private in the N.S.W. Corps, who had been twice plundered by the same villains, as acknowledged by Lemon from whom the woman had received the property. This youthful miscreant declared the fact of having committed the said robbery by himself; but in his acknowledgment of the first implicated Evans, who not only accompanied him, but officiated as treasurer, and paid him his dividend. Another felony committed upon the property of A. Snowden, was likewise proved against the prisoners; and in aggravation of the crime itself it appeared, that the latter was a fellow workman, employed by the same Gentleman, and in daily habits of intimacy and friendly intercourse. Lemon acknowledged the fact; and Evans likewise acknowledged that he had told him of it; but gave as a reason for keeping it a secret from Snowden, that he did not like to promote dissention among friends.

Lemon, not content with practising his villainies upon his friends and acquaintances, and whomsoever else chance had thrown in his way, at length threw himself into the arms of justice by a theft upon his Master, which tho’ trivial bespoke him infamous, and justified suspicion of his guilt in crimes of which he had been indirectly challenged.

Evans, although a convict servant, was in the habit of receiving the most liberal encouragement from the Gentleman above-mentioned, and besides his weekly subsistence, a pecuniary reward for his services as a good mechanic, at least equivalent to the wages demanded by the best free labourers; yet it now is manifest that indulgence has been shamelessly abused, and generosity odiously repaid with imposition and neglect.— All the parties were remanded.


Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Sunday 10 November 1805, page 2


SYDNEY.

At a bench of Magistrates convened on Monday, the following persons were examined, viz. William Evans, labourer, for larceny ; Henry Harding, for gambling with Lemon, a boy, and obtaining money from him under a consciousness that he had dishonestly become possessed of it, was ordered to receive 50 lashes, and to work in irons in the gaol gang ; Richard Lemon, charged with various petty theft, all which he acknowledged himself guilty of, was in consideration of his voluntary information to the Magistrates, and other favorable circumstances, excused any further punishment than the gaol gang ; and Elizabeth Lily, for re-ceiving the property stolen by Lemon, was ordered to work three years for the Crown, to commence from the expiration of her original term of transportation.

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