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 ( trove.nla.gov.au) 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.