The following article came to light whilst I was looking through the "Geelong Advertiser" newspaper on the Trove website. Prior to its discovery I had no knowledge whatsoever of this incident. It proves in searching Trove you never know what you may find.

The victim is my maternal great-great-grandfather. He married in Geelong in 1844 and by 1852 was the father of five children.

We all look for convicts but do not often find our forebears on the receiving end of felons.

"Before His Honour the Chief Justice. The proceedings of the criminal sittings were resumed this day at ten a.m. The following jury were empanelled: - James Brown, James Alder, Thomas Butterworth, John Burn, William Bell, John Cumming, Joseph Bray, James Boyle, Thomas Watt, Allen George Armytage, Charles Bennet and Richard George Bayldon.


William Burrows stood indited for committing a highway robbery on Saturday, the 17 April, instant, upon Michael Markham, at the Bell Post Hill near Geelong.

Michael Markham being sworn, deposed that, as he was proceeding home on horse-back on Saturday afternoon, the 17 instant when near the Bell Post Hill, the prisoner at the bar, and two others, came up to him. The prisoner presented two pistols at his breast, and ordered witness to dismount and give his money - he did so, and gave up to the prisoner, forty-two pounds, ten shillings and ten pence in notes and silver.

One of the three held the horse by the bridle, whilst the prisoner at the bar took the money from the witness. One of the men, not the prisoner, had a white veil over his face. He returned to town after the robbery, and after informing the police, walked about the streets of Geelong, during the after part of the same day to see whether he could see any of the prisoners.

Towards six o'clock, he saw the prisoner at the bar, near Mr. White's 'Victoria Hotel,' and pointed him out to Sergeant Cahir, who took him into custody. Witness is quite satisfied that the prisoner at the bar is the man who robbed him.

Sergeant Cahir of the Geelong Police, deposed, that he apprehended the prisoner near the 'Victoria Hotel,' Market Square, on the evening of Saturday 17 of the present month. Previously to taking the prisoner into custody, the last witness, who pointed him out, informed him that a red spot would be found upon the white part of one of his eyes, which was the case. Witness afterwards went to the prisoner's belongings, and on searching under the matress of his bed found a life preserver.

The prisoner when called for his defence, stated that he wished the proceedings against him to be deferred till the next sessions. His Honour said it was too late at the present stage of the proceedings to make the request. The Jury requested to know if the prisoner wore the same dress that he now appeared in, at the time he robbed Markham. Markham stated that the prisoner at the time of the robbery wore a pilot-blue cloth coat: but when taken into custody changed it for a blue serge shirt. His Honour said he would leave the case entirely in the hands of the Jury. The Jury without hesitation returned a verdict of guilty.

The prisoner strongly protested his innocence, but brought no evidence to contradict what had already been given against him. The Judge observed that if the prisoner could bring before him, (even after he had passed sentence), proof that he was innocent, that the sentence would not be carried into effect. The sentence of the court was, that the prisoner at the bar be kept on the roads of the colony for eight years, the first one of which to be passed in irons."


(From the Circuit Court, Wednesday, 21st April, 1852 reported in the "Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer" of Thursday, 22nd April 1852, page 2)

( Contributed by Michael Grogan. PPPG Member No. 1332 )


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