Continuing with the series of articles on the murderers of Rowland Edwards, along with the report of the release of the wrongly accused, the Sydney Gazette of Saturday 30th July 1814 ran with an announcement from the Governor. It addressed various aspects of the case and circumstances, and was to be read in all churches the next day during sermon (no doubt in part to reach the ears of the illiterate). The first part of the announcement reinforced that it was illegal to hide/harbor escaped or runaway convicts - a difficult task given how many ex-convicts lived free in the colony and the relative isolation of many parts of outer Sydney. The announcement also rues the fact that Donovan went to the gallows still denying that he comitted a murder. The courts almost hung two innocent men, but the advertisement places the blame with the perpetrators, rather than the court that sentenced them. This has never set comforatbly with me.
Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser
Saturday 30th July 1814
GOVERNMENT AND GENERAL ORDERS
Secretary’s Office, Sydney
Saturday 23rd July 1814
1. THE GOVERNOR and COMMANDER in CHIEF having performed the painful Duty of consigning to an ignominious Death for of his Fellow Creatures, lately convicted before the Criminal Court of a Series of Offences too shocking and atrocious to admit of any Mitigation of their Sentences : He now feels it is incumbent on him to observe, that had the Settlers and other Inhabitants of the Country taken those Pains to apprehend Runaways and Bushrangers, which their Duty as good Subjects required, the chief Part if not all of the Murders now brought to light, would have been avoided, and thus four Men, and one Woman, peaceable and unoffending Persons, saved from deplorable and untimely Ends, and possibly their Murderers themselves reserved for a better Fate than has attended their flagrant crimes.
2. THE GOVERNOR trusts that the melancholy Occurences herein alluded to and the Sacrifices now of Necessity made in the offender ?? of God and Man, will have their due influence in deterring the regular inhabitants in future from harbouring, or in any Manner countenancing such lawless Banditti as have for some time infested the Coutrny, and rendered the necessary Intercourses of Life full of Danger ; and he most earnestly entreats each Individual of the Society, for the Benefit of the Whole, to do his utmost in apprehending those Bush Rangers who are still at large, and from whom acts of Atrocity, similar to those now adverted to, may be expected unless speedily secured and delivered over to Justice.
3. Any Persons who shall be known after this Admonition to harbour or hold Intercourse with Runaways, or Bush Rangers, will forfeit every Indulgence on the Part of Government which they may at present enjoy, and be punished with the utmost rigour of the Law, when the Offence shall be proved.
4. The GOVERNOR cannot reflect, but with the greatest Abhorrence, on the unparalleled Depravity exhibited by one of the lately executed Malefactors, namely, Dennis Donovan, at the Instant he was about to be precipitated into Eternity, for Crimes of the blackest and most detestable Nature. At such an awful Moment, all Artifice, all Disguise is supposed to cease, as being no further useful in this World, and the unfortunate Criminal is expected to think, then, only, of making his Peace with his offended Creator, by an open Confession of his Guilt, accompanied with a fervent Prayer, to the Throne of Grace, for Mercy. Such a Line of Conduct would naturally excite general Commiseration for the wretched Man, however depraved his former Life had been ; but instead of such Confession, Humiliation, and Contrition, this Malefactor (shocking to relate), went out of Life protesting in the most solemn Manner his total Innocence of the Murders of the two unfortunate Men, Jenkins and Edwards, at the Parramatta Turnpike House, which in (in Addition to the several Crimes for which he then suffered), he was strongly suspected to be concerned ; although it is now clearly proved, that he was one of the Perpetrators ; and whilst two Men (since proved innocent), then stood convicted of those Murders, under erroneous Testimony, and were on the Eve of atoning for them by an ignominious Death. In this Manner did Dennis Donovan, with his latest Breath, and without other apparent Motive than the most detestible Maligulty to his fellow Creatures, and to Human Nature itself, endeavour to deprive two innocent Men of their Lives, for a Murder perpetrated by himself, in Conjunction with John White, who yesterday suffered the sentence of the Law, on his own Confession, and the clear Evidence of others.
5. The providential Discovery of the real Murderers of Jenkins and Edwards, which has saved the Lives of two innocent Men, is to be attributed to the humane, zealous, and indefatigable Exertions of D WENTWORTH, Esq. Superintendant of the Police ; and the GOVERNOR desires to make him this public Acknowledgement of this Thanks, for his praise-worthy and well-directed Measures on that Occasion.
6. The Chaplains in the several Districts are to read this Order in their respective Churches or Places of Public Worship, durin the Time of Divine Service, on Sunday the 31st Instant, and on Sunday the 7th of August next.
By Command of His Excellency
J T CAMPBELL, Secretary.