Monday, July 5, 2010

Emma Trevithick

In searching for any mentions of the Trevithick family in newspapers, my three finds so far had been the inquest into the death Elizabeth TREVITHICK (nee CANDY) in 1871 in Sydney, a mention of the death of her husband Thomas TREVITHICK in 1813, and a brief mention of a gold find in a claim being worked by Thomas TREVITHICK. These give little information about the family at Hill End though, so it is sad that such a terrible event had to occur for me to be able to learn more about them. The following article describes the alleged rape of 12 year-old Emma Trevithick three months after she had found her mother dead in their small house in Sydney.

Australian Town & Country Journal
Saturday 18 November 1871
A painter, named Colbron, residing at Hill End, has been committed 
for trial on a charge of committing a
capital offence upon the person of a child, named
Emma Trevithick, aged twelve years and four months.

The Sydney Morning Herald
Tuesday 30 April 1872
LAW
BATHURST CIRCUIT COURT
(From the Free Press)
WEDNESDAY APRIL 24TH
Before his Honor Acting Judge Sir William Montagu Manning.
RAPE.
John Colbran was indicted for that he, on the 1st November, 1871, at Hill End, Tambaroora, did feloniously and violently assauly and carnally know one Emma Trevithick.
The prisoner pleaded not guilty, and was defended by Mr. Dalley, instructed by Mr. McIntosh. The Crown prosecutor opend the case, and called Sergeant Ford, who deposed: I know the prisoner and Emma Trevithick ; both prisoner and Mr. Trevethick lived at Hill End ; I arrested prisoner on Thursday, 2nd November, at Tambaroora, and charged him with committing a rape on Emma Trevethick the evening before.
Thomas Trevethick deposed: I am a miner at Hill End ; prisoner lives near me ; I knew him about four weeks before the occurrence ; I have a daughter named Emma ; she was twelve years old in June last ; she was in prisoner's service ; prisoner employed her ; he came to me and asked me if I could let one of my children attend to his wife in her confinement ; I think it was in October that my daughter went to his service ; she was there about five weeks before she made any communication to me ; I went to the prisoner's house with sergeant Ford ; my daughter told me something on the evening before ; I was at work at Vickery's engine ; she was accompanied by John Cox ; we then went home, and the girl made a statement to the effect that she had been assaulted by somebody ; the next day I went to prisoner's house with sergeant Ford ; the sergeant went in and I stayed outside ; my daughter after making the statement to me went away with Mr. Cox and came back with him ; she went to bed afterwards, and I went to my work at the engine ; I was on the night shift ; as far as I know, no one had access to her that night ; my eldest daughter slept in the house ; next day I took the girl to Dr. Cortis ; after that I took her to the prisoner and asked him what he was thinking of to do such a deed to my child - trying to ruin her ; I told him that such a man as he should be put out of the world ; he put his hand to his head, and said "Oh, the cursed drink;" I told him he ought to be ashamed of himself as he was the father of a family himself ; I don't remember every word he said to me ; he told me he would like to make me some recompense, but I told him not to talk of such a thing to me, as I would not take the value of what I had in my hand - a piece of hoop iron ; he said to me afterwards, "Will you allow my wife to make your daughter a present of a 5 pound note?" I would not ; I told the prisoner that I had been to the doctor, and had had the child examined and said to him, "He told me that you had been with the girl;" he did not deny it ; I did not go to work again until the following day ; when I was at home prisoner and another person came in ; prisoner said he had come to see me about this case, that he had a share in a reef which he wished to make over to me, not for covering it up, but for my kindness in not bringing him to justice ; I told him I did not want his share, as if I took it I would be opening my house for others to do the same ; he said the share was worth 100 pounds ; the constable afterwards charged prisoner with rape and arrested him ; when I spoke to prisoner in his own house, Mrs. Colbran, his wife, was present.
To Mr Dalley: When I spoke to him about the doctor, and what he had said, prisoner said he had been with the child, but had done her no harm ; I might have said to him, "The doctor says you have been meddling with the child."
Emma Trevithick (a child a little over twelve years of age) was called, and her father informed his Honor that she had received her education in a day and Sabbath school, that she was a moderately quick child. Mr. Dalley admitted that the child looked intelligent and fit to give evidence. The child was then sworn, and deposed: I am daughter of Thomas Trevethick, who lives at Hawkins Hill. I was in prisoner's service, and used to take care of the children ; I was there, I think, about six weeks ; Mrs. Colbran was only confined to her bed one week ; I remember Mr. Watson's funeral ; that happened while I was at prisoner's house ; Mrs. Colbran went out that day and left me with the children ; prisoner was in the house with me ; we were in the ktichen together ; (witness here described the effence ; she deposed that prisoner had assaulted her on two occassions) ; I told Mrs. Tebbut, who is a neighbour of prisoner's ; I also told my sister ; I told prisoner that I would tell me father ; I was crying at the time he committed the second assault ; I was afraid to tell my father.
In cross-examination witness deposed that on every morning after the first week of her service in prisoner's house, the prisoner used to behave indecently and improperly to her, and used nasty words.
Dr. Cortis, a legally qualified medical practitioner residing at Hill End, Tambaroora, desposed to having examined the girl Emma Trevethick on the 2nd November, and to having discovered symptoms that were indisputable that the offence had been effectually committed.
The case closed for the Crown.
Mr. Davey addressed the jury for the defence, contending that the evidence did not prove that the offence had been fully committed ; and submitted that the jury, if they found a verdict of guilty at all, they must return a verdict of guilty on the minor charge, viz. either an assault with intent, or indecent assault, and not on the capital charge.
The Crown Prosecutor replied.
His honor, in summing up, remarked that, although he would not be justified in withdrawing the capital charge from them he felt it is duty to caution the jury that the evidence adduced would hardly warrent them in returning a verdict on the capital charge. It would be better for them to direct their attention to the attempy with intent to committ a rape. He pointed out to the jury in a very lucid manner the law bearing upon the case as it related to the minor charge, and if they thought that the evidence proved that an assault with intent had been committed, they could return a verdict accordingly.
The jury retired, and after an absence of about hald-an-hour, returned into Court with a verdict of guilty of assault with intent to commit a rape.
Mr. Dalley called witnesses to character.
The prisoner in answer to the question whether he had anything to say why the sentence of the Court should not be passed upon him, replied, in a voice broken with emotion : Your Honor, for myself I make no excuse at all, neither do I ask in any sense for your mercy on my own account ; but for the sake of my poor wife and my poor little children I do implore you to shew and extend mercy to me, and be as lenient as possible. I have been nineteen years in the coloney, and never had a stain on my character. I have ever been willing and anxious to work out for myself and my family an honest and respectable living ; and until I fell into this great temptation, never, never was my name disgraced. The prisoner here leaned his head on the front of the dock and sobbed bitterly.
His Honor, in passing sentence, addressing the prisoner, said : The Jury were quite right in acquitting him on the capital charge. The prisoner had, however, come very near to committing the capital offence. The highest penalty  the law could enforce in his case was fifteen years. It was not possible for him (His Honor) much as he fely for prisoner's wife and children, to pass lightly over the offence of which he had been found guilty. His crime had been very great. He had injured a young child ; he had demoralised her in the present ; and God only knew what the effect of his crime would be upon the girl when she grew up and into womanhood - it might lead to her degradation and ruin in after life. As it was such a serious offence, his Honor thought it was his duty to mark his sense of the criminality of prisoner's action by sentencing him to four years' hard labour on the roads or other public works of the colony. He would not be justified in passing a less sentence.
The prisoner was removed from the dock weeping bitterly.


Emma married Frederick William SPRATT at Hill End four years later, aged about 16. It appears that afterwards they moved to the Orange area where they had at least seven children. She died in 1942 in Burwood (a suburb of Sydney), but was buried at Orange Methodist Cemetery.

 John and Rachel COLBRAN had children registered in Richmond and Orange from 1859 up to 1871 - the evidence suggests that that family arrived in Hill End/Tambaroora only a few weeks prior to the offence taking place. Rachel had another child in 1873, suggesting John may have been released early from his sentence, and more children followed in Dubbo (well away from Hill End). A John Colbran died in Dubbo in 1914, Rachel also in Dubbo the following year.

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