The Queen vs. Kelly: Part II

Continued from The Queen vs. Kelly: Part I.

The Queen vs. Kelly

Bathurst Courier, 16 April 1841

“We are informed it was committed whilst in a state of intoxication,” wrote the Bathurst Courier (16 April 1841) of John Kelly’s fatal stabbing of his brother-in-law Michael Hourigan.

Not surprisingly, the Courier took a lively interest in the case, publishing three brief notices of Kelly’s arrest and detention, along with a lengthy account of his trial. A case like Kelly’s offered the newspaper a chance to entertain its readers with the lurid details of a brutal act of violence, while moralizing on the theme of peace, order, and good government. The fact that “the unfortunate man Kelly” was the only person arraigned at the Assizes for a crime, opined the editors at the Courier, “[said] much for the otherwise peaceable and orderly condition of the Districts.”

As recorded by the Bathurst Courier, the Grand Jury at the May 1841 Bathurst Assizes was composed of the following men: G. Lyon (jury foreman); John Haggatt; W.R.F. Berford; Joshua Adams; G.H. Sache; Edward Malloch; Thomas Reed; George Tennant; Ebenezer Wilson; Doctor Barrie; John Richey; Anthony Leslie; Alexander Fraser; John McNaughton; John Ferguson; and Joseph Maxwell. Given the demographics of early Perth, it’s not surprising to find that many of these names were Scottish. Given the verdict that this jury would return in the case of an Irish Catholic shantyman on trial for his life, it’s worth noting the apparent lack of Irish Catholics amongst their ranks.

There were no witnesses for the defense.

The Queen’s Counsel was a Mr. Cartwright; while the counsel for the prisoner was Daniel McMartin, a prominent early Perth lawyer of Loyalist origins. Witnesses for the prosecution were: John Brennan; William Headley; Henry Smith; and Dr. Hill. There were no witnesses for the defense.

John Kelly’s trial took place on Thursday, 20 May 1841. The prisoner entered a plea of “not guilty.”

To be continued…