Page:An account of the English colony in New South Wales.djvu/45

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[1788.
13
OF NEW SOUTH WALES.

quisite to keep the gangs at their labour. Petty thefts among themselves began to be complained of; and the sailors from the transports, although repeatedly forbidden, and frequently punished, still persisted in bringing spirits on shore by night, of which drunkenness was often the consequence.

To check these enormities, the court of criminal judicature was assembled on the 11th of February; when three prisoners were tried, one of whom received one hundred and fifty lashes, and a second was confined for a week upon a small rocky island on bread and water.

The mildness of these punishments seemed rather to have encouraged than deterred others; for before the month was ended, the criminal court was again assembled for the trial of four offenders, who had conceived and executed a plan for robbing the public store. This crime, in its tendency so pregnant with evil to the little community, was rendered still more atrocious by being perpetrated at the very time when the difference in the ration of provisions which had till then existed was taken off, and the convict saw the same proportion issued to himself that was served to the officer and the soldier, spirits only excepted: but it was seen with concern, that there were among them minds so habitually vicious that no consideration was of any weight with them, nor could they be induced to do right by any prospect of future benefit, or fear of certain or immediate punishment. The charge being fully proved, one man, James Barrell, suffered death. His Excellency (in whom the power of pardoning was vested by His Majesty’s commission), having caused one example to be made, extended lenity to some others who were tried the following day.

It appeared by the letters patent under the great seal of Great Britain, that His Majesty had authorised, by his commission under the great seal, “the Governor, or in his absence the lieutenant-governor, to convene from time to time, as occasion might require, a court of criminal jurisdiction; which court was to be a court of record, and to consist of the judge-advocate and such six officers of the sea and land service as the Governor shall, by precept issued under his hand and

seal,