Friday, May 23, 2014

Ned the Pieman

My convict ancestor Edward EWER (1796-1859) had ten children (that we know of) with his wife Ann EDWARDS (1808-1854). One of those children was my ancestor Edward EWER (1827-1884). He was born and baptised in Parramatta in 1827, and when the family moved to Bathurst in the early 1840s he went with them. In 1864 he married Catherine AHERN(E) (1834-1910) and they had nine children. While not the subject of this entry, in late 1883 he was assaulted with an iron bar by a man named John Brown, and in 1884 died, probably as a result of that attack.

There is little information on Edward's occupation, but his father was occasionally described as a baker. In 1863, Edward the younger is entered as filing as insolvent, "a confectioner from Bathurst NSW". I recently found a series of articles referring to Edward Ewer as "Ned the Pieman". The initial article I found was actually from a series of reminisces on Bathurst published in 1918, and then using "Ned the Pieman" I could find these other articles. The reminisces  ('After 40 Years') are not uncommon in papers at the turn of the century, written (usually anonymously) by 'old-timers', though given that the article below is number 70, this was obviously a long-lived serial.

Exciting indeed, particularly that between the contemporary articles and the historical account they give some more insight into Edward's life. Edward was in trouble with the law on multiple occasions, and these of course dominate his presence in the newspapers, with the exception of when he saved the life of a young boy who fell in a river. These articles reinforce that troublesome streak, but clearly this was a man known by all the town.

And so, we learn:

Newcastle Morning Herald 
26 September 1883
Murderous Assault at Bathurst
BATHURST, Tuesday. On Saturday night a murderous attack was made by an old shepherd named John Brown, on a man named Ewer, known as "Ned the Pieman". Ewer had his head terribly smashed and one arm broken. The assault was committed with an iron bar. The house in which the affray occurred is the haunt of gaolbirds and other low characters. Brown had been "knocking down" a cheque for 20 pounds, and accused Ewer of having robbed him. Ewer lies in a precarious state in the hospital, and Brown has been remanded for a week.

Newcastle Morning Herald
25 October 1883
A Bathurst Assault Case.
BATHURST, Wednesday - A man named John Brown, for maliciously wounding Ned "the pieman" at Bathurst, has been sentenced to eight years' penal servitude.

Evening News 
12 February 1884

Bathurst Items
BATHURST, Tuesday. That Bathurst identity, yclept "Ned the Pieman" was found dead in bed yesterday. He had led a disreputable life for years past, and was only recently discharged from the hospital after having been the victim of a murderous assault by a man named Brown. At the inquest the jury found that death had arisen from natural causes.

Bathurst Times
15 November 1918
(By Old Bathurstian) No 70
Getting along Durham-street, after leaving the Victoria Theatre, the Red Lion and Hillyar's Grammar School, we cross Stewart-Street and find that the neat cottage built by Mrs Gore (nee Suttor) in the seventies, had been converted into an inn, and is once again a private residence. It is doubtful whether the requirements of the neighborhood ever warranted the granting of the license. Perhaps the Bench had kindly feelings towards the personal interests off the odd sergeant, I was not here and cannot say. Below the old "Belle Marie" cottage - and they tell me the hotel was named similarly - a well known identity of the sixties and seventies dwelt, "Ned the Pieman"; for that was the name by which Edward Ewer was familiarly known alike to men, women and children. Ned was one of the characters of the old town and his pie can, with burning coals underneath, was as familiar about the main streets as Steve the Bellman. Certainly the block from the Belle Marie Cottage to Peel-street has been improved the last forty years; but there is not particularly anything to write home about.


After posting this entry, I decided to look into John Brown, the man who assaulted Edward Ewer in late 1883, probably causing his death in 1884. Given the commonality of his name, and the lack of personal details about him, I have tried and failed in the past, but Ancestry's index to Gaol Description Books brought luck, and while I don't know what Edward Ewer looked like, I certainly know what his assailant looked like shortly after the crime:

Name John Brown
Date of photo Feby 1884
Native place England
Year of birth 1820
Arrived ship Theresa year 1839
Trade or occupation nil
Religion C of E
Degree of education nil
Height 5 feet 2 inches
Color of hair bald brown
Color of eyes blue
Marks or special features Scars of face and left hand flagellation marks on back
Tried Bathurst 24 Oct 1883
Offence Wounding with int
Sentence 8 years penal servitude
Previous conviction
Bathurst 1877 grievous bodily harm, sentence 1 month
Bathurst Sep 1883 obscene language, sentence 2d or 7 days
There are other crimes many years ago of which we have no particulars 

I have not been able to learn more about John Brown from the records, though the 'Theresa' was a convict ship, and there are several other gaol description book entries for him at earlier dates. That he was a convict is reassured by the fact that one of his distinguishing marks were 'flaggelation marks' on his back from being whipped. I've not been able to find a death certificate, but given his age, he could have died in gaol given that it was an eight year sentence.

I would like to learn more about John.


Anonymous said...

I love your blog Matt!
It seems we share Ned the Pieman as an ancestor.
Thanks for sharing.
Cheers Nat :)

Matt Hall said...

Thanks Nat - there's a LOT of EWER posts on this website - search by EWER and you'll get it all! Let me know what line you descend through from Ned and i'll send you some info on that line (whatever I have).

Anonymous said...

Emma Eliza EWER and John Denning, Matt
Any info welcomed. I take it there is not a pic left of Ned the Pieman?
Cheers Nat :)