Spotlight: Inquest on William Drew and other news (18/10/1817)

Hobart Town Gazette and Southern Reporter (Tas. : 1816 – 1821), Saturday 18 October 1817, page 1


HOBART TOWN, SATURDAY, OCTOBER 18, 1817.


Sitting Magistrate – Reverend R. KNOPWOOD, A. M.


SHIP NEWS – On Tuesday arrived the ship Frederick, Capt. WILLIAMS, from Calcutta, via Bencoolen and Batavia, with a valuable cargo of merchandize, – Passengers, Mr. WINDER and Lieut. STEWART, who removed to the Pilot, and sailed the following day for Sydney. In this vessel arrives 7 male and 3 female prisoners, destined for Port Jackson.

On Wednesday sailed the ship Pilot, Captain PEXTON, for Port Jackson, having on board Colonel DAVEY, late Lieutenant Governor of the Colony, Mr. O’CONNOR, Lieut. STEWART, and Mr. WINDER. The following prisoners, lately committed to take their trial before the Criminal Court at Sydney, were sent up in this Vessel:- Collier, Hillier and Watts, the bushrangers; Clarke, Scott and two Crahans, for sheep stealing. A number of evidences on behalf of the Crown also went up in this vessel, amongst whom is Black Mary, a native of this Colony, who some time back was an active guide to the military parties in quest of the bush-rangers.

Remain in the harbour the ship Frederick, and the brigs Spring, Jupiter and Sophia.

On Tuesday Colonel DAVEY, our late Lieutenant Governor, embarked on board the ship Pilot, under a Salute of 13 guns from the Battery. He was accompanied to the Government Wharf by His Honor the Liuetenant Governor, and most of the Principal Officers and inhabitants of the Colony; and on leaving the shore, was greeted by the cheers of a numerous assemblage of spectators.


CORONER’S INQUEST.—An inquest was taken on Monday last at the County Gaol in this town, before A. W. H. HUMPHREY, Esq. Coroner, upon the body of William Drew, whose death we mentioned in our last.

The first evidence was Mr. Assistant Surgeon Hood, of the 46th regt., who deposed that the death of the deceased, William Drew, seemed to have been occasioned by a musket ball passing through the thorax, by entering the back a little below the right shoulder, and shattering the breast bone in its passage; he did not perceive any other injury about the body.

The next witness was Mr. W. Williams, who stated that the deceased was his servant, and employed in looking after his sheep in the vicinity of New Norfolk. It appeared by the testimony of this witness, that he left Hobart Town on the Wednesday prior to the death of the deceased on a visit to his flock; and that when he got to the First River, he found Drew in the hut there. The next morning, Mr. W. went to his grazing ground for some sheep, which he brought back and sheared himself; and on the following morning, soon after daylight, he sent Drew for some more to the same place. Drew being absent for upwards of 4 hours, witness became alarmed, and went to look for Drew; and when he arrived at the place where he had sent him, he walked about for nearly an hour before he found him, who was then running towards witness with a gun, and a dog; upon his coming up, Mr. W. asked him what was the matter, to which he replied, “George Watts was stopping with Howe, whilst he came to acquaint him of it,” and delivered his musket to Mr. W. saying “he did not want it as they had got Mich. Howe’s gun, and that Watts had one of his own.” During their conversation Drew shewed Mr. W. two knives, which he said he had taken from Howe; and upon Mr. W. asking him if he could be of any assistance, he replied “no, as Howe was secured;” he then ran away; Witness and the deceased had previously agreed to take Howe the first opportunity.

George Watts deposed, that after Mich. Howe had been to Drew, at William’s hut, with a letter for the Lieutenant Governor, about six weeks ago, he (Watts) went to Drew, and enquired of him whether he had seen Howe; he replied he had a or 3 times successively, and was again to see him on the Friday following at sunrise; he said should he come on Thursday or Friday, they could take him.

On the Thursday night Watts went to New Norfolk, took Triffit’s boat and proceeded across the river, and concealed himself along-side of a path, near the place Drew appointed to meet him, till daylight. About sunrise Drew came, and told him he was to meet Howe at a place called the Long Bottom, where William’s sheep were. Watts told Drew to leave his gun, as he thought Howe would not come up to them if he perceived it; Drew left it hidden; they then both proceeded to the place where they expected to meet Howe; upon arriving there, Drew called two or three times, which Howe answered, from the opposite side of the creek. When Watts came within ninety yards of Howe, he told him to knock the priming out of his gun, and he would do the same, which both parties did; they then went about 50 or 40 yards and began to light a fire. The first opportunity, Watts caught Howe by the collar and threw him down; Drew tied his hands, and took two knives from his pocket; Watts and Drew got breakfast, but Howe refused to eat; they then were about proceeding to town, when Drew proposed to take his master’s musket and dog back, which Watts agreed to, desiring him not to inform his master of any thing, which he promised. Upon Drew’s return, they all proceeded towards Hobart Town, Watts with his gun loaded walked before Howe and Drewe behind. When about about 8 miles on the road, Watts heard Drew scream and on turning round received a wound in his stomach from Howe; but how he got loose, he did not know, excepting by cutting the cord. Howe said, that “he would settle Drew’s business,” as he had by this time got possession of Watt’s musket; he immediately fired at Drew; Watts being amongst some wattles did not hear him speak or see him fall; he enquired if Drew was dead? Howe replied “yes,” and “he would shoot him as soon as he could load his piece.” Drew carried Howe’s musket previous to being shot, but it was not primed. Watts dreading being shot, ran about 200 yards, and lay down a few minutes from cold and loss of blood. Upon being able to walk, he made all haste to a hut belonging to James Burne, and on being put to bed he told Mrs. Burne that he was stabbed by Howe, and requested her husband to get Waddle the constable to take him to town; by the time Waddle arrived he was hardly able to speak; he only informed him of his name, and, when able to talk next morning, he told him Drew was shot. The testimony of the other witnesses merely relates to searching after, and finding the body of Drew, and conveying it to town.

The Jury, after a short deliberation, returned a verdict that the deceased, William Drew, was murdered by Michael Howe.

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