Dou­ble Trou­ble

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - LETTERS -

I re­cently re­ceived a copy of an ar­ti­cle an Aus­tralian rel­a­tive wrote for a fam­ily his­tory mag­a­zine. It had de­tails of an an­ces­tor who was trans­ported to Tas­ma­nia, did his time, set up home in Aus­tralia and then was mur­dered in 1859.

I searched the Na­tional Li­brary of Aus­tralia’s web­site of dig­i­tal re­sources Trove ( and found a news­pa­per that re­ported an abridged ver­sion of the court case. The cul­prit was ar­rested, taken to court with his ac­com­plice, tried and both ac­quit­ted, but not re­leased. The very next day the cul­prit was in court again, ac­cused of at­tempted mur­der of a lo­cal gen­tle­man’s manser­vant. He was sen­tenced to hang.

I won­der if the ac­quit­tal was so he could be tried and sen­tenced for the sec­ond crime, per­pe­trated on a per­son with, pos­si­bly, more sta­tus, rather than be found guilty of a crime of mur­der against a man who had been a crim­i­nal him­self? I may never know.

Kim Tozer, by email

Edi­tor Replies: Per­haps the case was just stronger for the sec­ond of­fence. Fam­ily his­tory of­ten poses as many ques­tions as it an­swers.

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