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Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Monday, March 28, 2011 - 11:50 am:   

Castle Hill Affair


Message: 1
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 2010 12:28:57 +1100
From: "Ken Thompson" <kethomps@tpg.com.au>
Subject: [HV] Castle Hill Affair
To: <aus-nsw-hunter-valley@rootsweb.com>

There have been several recent postings relating to the Castle Hill Affair. The trial took place in Sydney 10 and 11 December 1833 and is on line as "Rex V Hitchcock and Others". The inquiry took place at Patrick Plains in the Hunter in the period 19-28 December 1833. It is reported in full in the Sydney Monitor 21, 28 and 31 January and 4 and 7 February 1834. Events leading up to the trial and subsequent to the inquiry are reported in the Sydney newspapers. There is a publication "The Castle Forbes Affair" by David Roberts and Sue Wiblin.

Twelve convicts were taken from the Hunter to provide evidence at the trial. They were kept in the hulk Phoenix on 10 and 11 December 1833, except for John Richard Hartnett (Java 1833) who was released 7.1.1834. In the event, six of the twelve convicts did not give evidence, as the Judge ruled that their evidence would be inadmissible.

Eight of the twelve convicts either gave evidence or are named by other witnesses at the trial or the inquiry. They all seem to have been assigned to either Mudie or Larnach. John Sawyer (John 1827), who also gave evidence, was assigned to Dr Rutherford.

Michael Minchan (Java 1833) and James Kimmorley (Lord Melville 1829) did not give evidence and are not mentioned by any witness.

My interest in the Castle Hills Affair relates to James Kimmorley. However there is no direct evidence in any of the records that he was at Castle Forbes on the day of the offences, who was his Master in the Hunter, or anything else about him.

I am posting this note in case anyone knows anything about John Sawyer or Michael Minchan, as that may provide some clue relating to Kimmorley. Dr Rutherford had property in the Hunter, but as far as I know it was nowhere near Castle Forbes. I wonder why John Sawyer was washing sheep at Castle Hill.

James Browne, a witness at the inquiry, named five convicts and himself as having been in Sydney "on behalf of the prisoners". The list does not include Sawyer, Minchan or Kimmorley. Sawyer provided eye witness evidence, presumably expected to be of an unbiased nature because he was not normally employed at Castle Forbes. Perhaps Minchan and Kimmorley were held similarly, but the Prosecution judged that it was not necessary to call them as the trial proceeded.

Any relevant facts or speculation would be appreciated.

Ken Thompson

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