George Oakes and Susan Casey: Who Were They?

Genealogical notes by Andrew Lancaster. Main page.

On this webpage, I’d like to summarize what we now know, with the aim that it will help us all learn more! This is a particularly mysterious branch of my family tree, and I have benefited from the advice and information of many people including Bev Penfold, Judy Taylor, Philippa Garnsey, Dorne Saunders, Donna Bradley, Mary Thorne, and Denise Marshall.

My Great-great-great-grandmother, was Martha Jane Oakes (or Oaks). At Albury on the 27th June 1859, she married Matthew Bradley, a man who had immigrated to Australia via Melbourne, during a gold rush period. He became a drover in the Tumbarumba area west of what is today Canberra. The Albury Banner and Wodonga Express 28 June 1901 mentioned her age and birthplace: "The late Mrs, Matthew Bradley died at Clover Bank on 4th June, aged 59. The deceased was born at Yass." The Wagga Wagga Advertiser Saturday 8 June 1901 gave more details:
 

TUMBARUMBA.

DEATH OF AN OLD RESIDENT.

One of the oldest residents of the district in the person of Mrs. M. J. Bradley, relict of the late Mr. M. Bradley, passed away at her late residence, Clover Bank, early on Tuesday morning last, very suddenly. On the previous night she was in her usual health, and did not even complain of feeling unwell.  Miss Blackman, who was staying with her, retired to rest at a little before 12, and Mrs. Bradley retired some time after. At about daybreak Miss Blackburn was aroused by a peculiar noise, as if Mrs. Bradley was choking. She held her up and thought she was in a faint, and called one of the sons up. They found she was dead. A magisterial inquiry was held by Mr. Peisley, P.M., when a verdict of death from natural causes, viz., heart disease, was recorded, the deceased lady's heart having been affected for some time past. The funeral took place this afternoon in the private graveyard at "Clover Bank," the Rev. J. D. Nicholson conducting the funeral service. The deceased lady leaves a grown up family of six sons and three daughters to mourn.

The Bradley family, discussed on another webpage, is relatively easy to trace back in the Northern English town of Kirkby Stephen. Martha actually had more than 15 children in total. But Martha’s own family was one concerning which no information was ever passed down to me or my close relatives. It seemed clear that she belonged to the family of George and Susan Oak(e)s, a family which had been in Yass, Albury, Young, and finally Marengo, now spelt “Murringo” – all inland towns in the area between the Riverina and Goulburn, which was perhaps at that time the most remote region of relatively fast European settlement for grazing sheep and cattle, and for a while, gold mining. (These days, vineyards appear to be changing the area.) The settlers here, coming from Sydney, had to cross the Great Dividing Range. It is in the area where the Rivers begin to flow west towards the plains of central Australia.


1. A quick summary of the children of George and Susan Oakes.

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Child 1: Martha Jane OAKS
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Spouse:  Matthew BRADLEY (1833-1892). Marriage 1859 in Albury, NSW. (Although on Martha's death certificate it says "Yarra Yarra" NSW, which is a parish of Goulburn.)

Birth       11 Dec 1841             Yass, County Murray, New South Wales. Newspaper articles reproduced below show that George Oaks had two remote stations somewhere in the rugged country east of Canberrra at this time, but we can also add that at death the Albury Banner and Wodonga Express of 7 June 1901 reported that Martha had been born in "Coppabella". There was apparently an old station of this name near Bogolong Creek and Bookham, about 25 miles from Yass.But there is also a Coppabella Creek west of Tumbarumba.
Baptism     23 Feb 1846 (age 4)     Yass, NSW. Baptism has Oakes crossed out and replaced by Oaks

The record does not say where in the Yass district, but it suggests that the parents live at Yass River (or does that just mean in the district of Yass River?)
Parents were George Oaks, labourer, and Susan Oaks, Yass River.
Google suggests that there is a place called Yass River, between Yass and Gundaroo. The modern Yass district is shown clearly on this webpage.

Death       3 Jun 1901 (age 58)     Tumbarumba, New South Wales 
Burial      6 Jun 1901 (age 58)     Private cemetary, Tumbarumba
Death Cause: Sudden heart failure

Additional information: Despite the name given on the birth registration, at death Martha’s father is named as William Oaks. Her mother was left unnamed. Presumably her own children knew very little about her parents.

Also notice the very long gap before her siblings are born. She marries in the same town, Albury, where they are born.

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Child 2: William OAKS
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Spouse:  Sarah TAYLOR. Marriage 27 February 1882 Murringo (6895/1882 Young).
Birth       4 Mar 1854              Mullengandra Inn, Albury. (Mullengandra is east of Albury town, towards Tumbarumba, along the road to Sydney.)
Baptism     11 Jun 1854     Albury Parish, Goulburn County
Parents were George Oakes, labourer, and Susan
Religion was given as Church of England.
Death       25 Apr 1926 (age 72)    West Wyalong, New South Wales 
Burial      1926 (age 72)           Marengo

Memorial:   Oakes William In loving memory of William Oakes Died 25.4.1926 aged 72 years Erected by his wife and family

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Child 3: Rebecca OAKS
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Spouse:  Andrew MAHER (died 1931). Marriage Burrowa 3158/1891
Birth       9 Jun 1859  Bullytop 851 Vol. 161/1859.
Baptism     10 Sep 1868 (age 9)     Wagga Wagga circuit Wesleyan Methodist, by Henry Wiles
Parents were George Oakes and Susan
Death       1942 (age 82-83)  Young (14434/1942)

Additional information: Rebecca is Mary Thorne’s area of expertise. Rebecca seems to have had illegitimate children. Ernest W Oakes was baptized in Young in 1887, with  only the mother’s name, Rebecca, appearing in the index, and on the certificate. He died two years later from diphtheria, again with only his mother mentioned. Mahalah Oakes was baptized in Young in 1889, with parents Edward and Rebecca, but the certificate shows Rebecca’s maiden name was Verner. Mary makes a convincing case that two other older girls were also hers, though baptisms have not been found: Daisy, married 1903 at age 23; and Rose Ann, who married Joseph Lowe in 1901 at the age of 17, with her mother Rebecca the only parent mentioned. Although Daisy’s marriage certificate says her parents are Rebecca Coffey and William Oakes deceased, a couple we can not trace, she and Rose kept contact, as have their families, and they were understood to be sisters.

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Child 4: Mary OAKS
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Spouse 1:  John CODDINGTON (died 23 May 1878). Married at Young, 21 March 1874.
Spouse 2:  James John TAYLOR (her brother’s future brother-in-law; note NOT John James). Married at Young 1880.
Birth 7 Jul 1856  Albury  NSW (2718/1856)

Parents were George Oaks, 55 year old Farmer Servant born in England, and Susan Cacy, 36 years old and born in Ireland. The certificate also states that the parents were married in 1839 in Yass, and had previously had 4 other children, of which one was deceased.

Additional Information: At the time of the birth registration, George was called a farm "servant". This normally indicated a convict status.

I have also been shown that on her death certificate her mother is named as Mary instead of Susan. But something starting with S was crossed out, and for the father's name John was crossed out and George put in. He is called a shepherd on that record. Like the birth record it just says she was born in Albury.

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The parents need to be discussed further, but I’ll already mention their memorial, which now lies next to that of their son William. The photos are taken by Donna Bradley.

Sacred to the Memory of Susan Oakes Died 5.4.1873 aged 47 years.

Also George husband of the above Died 23.12.1880 aged 74 years At Rest

photo by Donna Bradley

The information that can be found on the internet about George and Susan is very confused, which will hopefully be helped now by this webpage. There were several Oakes families and Casey families in this region of southern New South Wales in early Australia, and various theories had developed to propose links. Some of this was reflected in public databases such as the Mormon’s IGI. With the help of genealogists from those families I have come to the conclusion that none of those proposed links are likely to be correct.

There is no link with the Caseys of Gundaroo, near where she married, nor seemingly with those from Marengo, where she later settled. They did not come from Limerick. My great thanks go to Philippa Garnsey, a Casey genealogist, though sadly apparently not related to my Caseys.


2. The Marriage.

The first problem to solve was finding the marriage of George and Susan. This was difficult because for some reason the marriage is not indexed. Luckily Judy Taylor had found it in her study of the Oakes families of the region. It took place in the district of Yass, 12 Jun 1839. They are named as George Oakes and Susannah Casey, both of the district of Yass, and both single.

It was a marriage by banns, with consent of friends; in presence of Wm Cook, Gownion (difficult to read), and Th. Jones, Manairoo. It took place at “Davis Inn” in Gownion.

A Thomas Jones married a Davis and was buried at the Davis family property of Gounyan (or Goonyan) near Murrumbateman. There is still a Gounyan Road north of Murrumbateman, which heads towards the stretch of the Yass River referred to as Yass River (see the baptism of their first child Martha Jane above). This Davis family is known to have indeed established an inn, “The Sawyer’s Arms”, which brewed it’s own ale. See for example: http://www.mygenerations.net/biographies.htm and http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/di/2003-331/current/pdf/2003-331.pdf#search=%22gounyan%22.

But who were George and Susan? The only thing that could be said from the marriage record is that it appears they could sign their own names – no small thing in that place at that time.


3. George Oakes: Convict.

George Oakes, it is now certain, was a convict. What’s more, he failed to keep out of trouble in Australia, and a large paper trail can be made from official records:

His initial conviction is recorded in the UK Public records office in Kew (CHES 21/8). According to other records, the incident described had something to do with poaching: presumably that is what John Eadley and George Oakes had been doing when they got into bigger trouble…

Agsh. John Eadley

late of Somerford Booths in the County of Chester Labr that he on the 24th day of Dec in the 6th year te with force & arms at Somerford Booths afsd with a certain gun loaded with gunpowder & leaden that felony & unlawfully did shoot at one Thos Jackson with intent to Kill & murder him gh. the peace te----

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AND THAT GEORGE OAKES late of Somerford Booths afsd Labr then & there to wit on the day & year afsd with force & arms at Somerfd. Booths afsd. did counsel aid & abete the said John Eadley in the sd. felony then & there to do & commit ags. the form te----

There are other Counts to this Indict. Charging the said John Eadley with intent to maim & diable the said Thomas Jackson - & also to do him some grievous bodily harm - AND that the sd. Geo. Oakes aided and abetted the sd John Eadley in the these Counts.

Both plead Not Guilty Jurors say both guilty on the 3rd Count.

Judgmt. Death recorded agt both. Sentence commuted. That John Eadley be transported beyond the Seas for & during the term of his natural life - And that George Oakes be transported for the term of seven Years.

I have been able to get more information from the newspapers of the time about what really happened, and in particular from the Chester Chronicle. It all apparently took place on the early morning of Christmas Eve.

On Friday 6 January 1826 in a "Political Remarks" section, the incident is summarised. Note that Swettenham Hall and Somerford Booths are on the north side of the river Dane, while Somerford Hall is on the south side, facing them. Also notice that while the court records George's residence as being the place where the crime happened, the newspaper says he and John Eadley are from Siddington.

POACHING.---About two o'clock on Saturday morning week, a party of siz poachers were observed in the grounds in front of the hall of Clement Swetenham, Esq. of Somerford Booths, by the gamekeepers of C. W. J. Shakerley, Esq. of Somerford Hall, who informed the keepers of Mr Swetenham. They went to the spot from whence the firing proceeded, and soon came in contact with the poachers, who appeared to be drawn up with their guns shouldered to act on the defensive; one of them, John Dudley [sic.], of Siddington, took deliberate aim at and shot one of the keepers in the right hand and thigh - the man was wounded, seized the person who fired, when a desperate struggle took place, and both fell into the river Dane. Assistance being at hand, this poacher and another of the gang, George Oakes, of Siddington, were secured. They underwent examination on Monday, and were committed to Chester Castle. We are glad to learn that the man who was shot, is not seriously injured.

On Friday 10 February 1826. An article titled "Prisoners in the Castle" remarks that there are 34 prisoners in the County Gaol waiting for trail. "The calendar, however, is more remarkable for the weight of the crime than the number of offenders." They give a full listing of the 34, which includes John Eadley and George Oakes under "Wilful Discharge of Fire-arms". (There was a third such case, Samel Boothby, who ended up also being tried on the same day as them, but his case is quite separate.)

On Friday 31 March 1826. Under "Chester Assizes" We read that "Our Assizes will commence on Monday, before the HON. CHIEF JUSCITCE WARREN, and MR JUSTICE JERVIS." It then gives a list of 59 people to be tried including: 

57. John Eadley, (35) charged with maliciously shooting at Thomas Jackson, of Smallwood. 

58. George Oakes, (20) charged with aiding and abetting John Eadley, in the last-mentioned offence.

On Friday 7 April 1826. There is a large summary of the Chester Spring Assize, which had started on Monday April 3rd. The High Sheriff had arrived in Chester on Saturday already and taken up residence at the Royal Hotel, after having had an "elegant breakfast" at his estate, Shrigley Hall, with "a very large company of gentlemen, who attended to do honor to the High Sheriff of the county". On Monday, his escort of tenantry, friends and 8 officers, all kitted out in livery, formed up at the hotel, and made procession with two trumpeters at their head. "For many years we have not witnessed so splendid and imposing an exhibition on a similar occasion". After joining chief justice Warren and Justice Jervis, he returned to the city and the "assize sermon" was given by the High Sheriff's chaplain before their Lordships proceeded to Shire Hall. It is very interesting that amongst the men of the grand jury then sworn in, appears none other than Clement Swetenham, Esq., Somerford. Justice Jervis then proceeded to deliver the charge to the jury, running through the cases at hand. "It was with the utmost concern that he perceived the calendar contained a vast increase of crime since the last time he had the honor of addressing a Grand Jury in this Court. They would perceive, by looking over the calendar, that there were no less than 59 prisoners for trial, most of whom were committed for offences of a very grievous nature." Concerning Eadley and Oak(e)s he said to the jury that "If, in these two cases, they found that a number of persons had gone out together for an illegal purpose, armed, and determined to repel force by force, they must bear in mind, that under such circumstances, the act becomes the act of all, and in the eye of the law they are equally guilty with the one who fires the shot." Jervis asked for the easiest cases to be handled first, so it is notable that Eadley and Oakes were not heard until Thursday, which was the second last case the reporter heard before leaving the court at 5:00 pm. This was the day before the printing of the paper, which perhaps explains a number of text errors and ommissions. See my notes in square brackets.

JOHN EADLEY, (aged 35) stood charged with wilfully, maliciously, and unlawfully shooting at Thomas Jackson, of Smallwood, on the 24th of December last, with intent, in so doing, to maim, disfigure, or disable the said Thomas Jackson; or with intent to do him some other grievous injury. GEORGE OAKES stood charged with aiding and abetting Eadley in the said wilful shooting. The prisoner [sic.] pleaded NOT GUILTY. 

MR. ATTORNEY GENERAL, (with whom was MR. DEACON). stated the case, which he described as one of capital nature and of importance both to the public at large, and to the prisoner at the bar. It would be for the jury to say, after hearing the evidence, whether the offence was perpetrated with the intent to kill, or whether it could be reduced to the crime of manslaughter [sic, though no one was killed; again, note that the case mainly revolves around Eadley]. 

THOMAS JACKSON examined by Mr. DEACON.--Is an assistant keeper to Mr. Shackerley. I was keeping watch on the night of the 23rd and morning of the 24th of September [sic, should be December] last, with Samuel Grimes, Bartholomew Harvey, Charles Bibby, Thomas Henley, and Peter Thackeray. We were keeping watch on Mr Shackerley's farm. About 12 o'clock we heard the report of a gun in the direction of Mr. Swetenham's wood, which is near Mr Shakerley's park. We heard another gun fired between the hour of one and two o'clock; this was also in the wood. I did not see the flash of the gun. We sent Peter Thackeray to Mr. Swetenham's house, and went towards the wood; I believe they had all guns; it was sufficiently light for us all to see. They came to us, after putting their guns to their shoulders. We met one another; before we said any thing to them they presented the guns to their shoulders. They were about 40 yards from us, when they halted. The men from the wood spoke first, telling us to keep off. I then whistled, and Mr Swetenham's keeper whistled again. Mr. Swetenham's keep was not at this time come up to our party. Two of the other party ran away when we were told to stand; the other four ran when I whistled. We followed, and as we were in pursuit of them, John Eadley, the prisoner, turned half-round, and holding his gun at arms length, shot me. I was shot both in the thumb and in the thigh. Our party, with the exception of one, had guns. After John Eadley had fired at me, one of the men, Samuel Garner, immediately fired at them. I heard no other gun fired. I said to Eadley, "You have shot me, but I'll take you."Eadley ran on, and I pursued him. He again presented his gun to me, which was a double-barrelled gun, but before he discharged it, I seized him by the collar. He still ran on; I still kept hold of him, and he ran into the River Dane. My seizing hold of him, prevented his firing a second time. I went into the river after him: and when we were in, Eadley dropped his gun. and so did I. Eadley got to the opposite bank of the river, and got up the bank, but I pulled him again. He struck me then on the breast. I found my gun loaded, and kept him at arm's length. Bracegirdle, Mr. Swetenham's keeper, then came up, jumped into the river, and picked up the prisoner Eadley's gun. We brought him to the bank of the river, and Eadley struggled with Bracegirdle to get possession of the gun, himself having held it at one end, and Bracegirdle the other. Bracegirdle dragged him along the ground with the gun. I threw myself upon Eadley, threw my arms around his neck, and "HUNG" him till he let go his hold. Bracegirdle then hit him on the head and he surrendered   Between thirty and forty shots were lodged in my thigh. My thumb was so shattered, that it was afterwards amputated. I have not been very able to work since. Witness then produced a double-barrelled Blunderbuss, which was picked up in the River Dane the next morning, by Saml. Grimes. The gun, when delivered to witness, was unloaded. The gun that Eadley fired at me, had a double barrel, and of the same description as the one produced. The gun that I dropped in the river was different in make from the one found, and was a single barrelled one. 

Cross-examined by Mr. ASHWORTH.---I am employed as a night-looker on Mr. Shackerley's grounds. When we met the other party, we were off the grounds of Mr Shackerley. We were on the grounds of Mr Swetenham. When the other party put their guns to their shoulders, we did the same. We were then about five roods from the other party. I will swear that we did not put up our guns to the shoulders first. There was five of our party (one having been sent to Mr Swetenham's) and we advanced towards them abreast. We stepped [sic. stopped?] about five roods distant from them. When the other party put their guns to their shoulders and told us to "keep off, we told them to stand, or we would shoot them." [sic. closing quote in the wrong place?] I swear that they put their guns to their shoulders before we said we would shoot them. I will not aggravate the case because I have been injured. I tell the truth. When we saw them they were not in it; they were below it a good bit [sic. see below to see that "it" possibly refers to a footpath]. One of our men fired his gun, but I swear it was not till after Eadley had discharged his. We went towards them with our guns to our shoulders when they ran away; I think we had lowered them. Eadley had not cried out for mercy before Bracegirdle "punched" him on the head. 

SAMUEL GRIMES exmained by Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL.---I was out with the keepers on the night of the 24th of December last. When we came up to the prisoners and their party, four of them stood and presented their guns at us, and two of them ran away. We said nothing to them before they presented their guns. They presented first. As they were presenting, they told us to stand our ground. They were about 5 yards from us. We then presented our guns, and one of our party whistled, which was answered. One of our party had gone for assistance. We pursued them, when Eadley turned half-round and fired, when Jackson rushed upon him. Jackson said ÿou have shot me, but I'll take you." I saw Jackson pursuing Eadley, but I followed after the prisoner Oaks, and came up to him at  [space left, possibly Radnor?] Bridge. There were 3 of their party before me: Oaks was the nearest to me, and when I was within a few yards of him, I called out to him, telling him to surrender as I should take him. I immediately after came up to him, seizing him by the collar, "gave him the leg," threw him into the ditch, and secured him. He made no resistance. I searched him, and found in his coat pocket 3 pheasants, and a quantity of small shot. I went to the river next morning, followed the track (which was very plain) of Jackson and Eadley, and went into the river and picked out the gun produced. Another gun was here produced (a common single barrel one) which witness took from Oaks. 

Cross-examined by Mr. ASHWORTH ---There was a foot road near the place where we first met them, but they were not in it, but much below. [So possibly the foot path was raised above where the incident happened, which might indicate that the incident happened in the river's flood plain?] This witness was further examined by Mr. ASHWORTH, but his evidence was in nowise shaken. 

BARTHOLOMEW HERVEY was called by Mr. DEACON, and corroborated the testimony of the last witness. 

Mr ASHWORTH---Now Sir, upon your oath, did not your party fire first? The question was put in a very earnest manner and the witness exclaimed, "No!" in so sudden, loud, and boisterous a manner, as to startle the learned questioner. 

Mr. DEACON.---If my learned friend puts to you any more questions, do not answer them in so loud a manner. You see you have quite put him to a stand-still. 

Mr. ASHWORTH replied, that knowing there were fire-arms in the witness box, within reach of the prisoner, he certainly was somewhat alarmed at the EXPLOSION. 

CHARLES BIBBY and THOMAS HEALEY being sworn.---What we have heard the other witnesses say to day in this case is true.

This was the case for the prosecution.

v. OAKES, in his defence, acknowledged to his having the game on his person, but said he had no intention to do any body any harm. He, with the party, were on the footpath, when the keepers ran down the hill towards them, and told them they would shoot them before his (Oakes's) party preseeted [sic.] the guns. [Note: this now implies the footpath was downhill. Looking at modern footpaths, maybe the path had parts which were both up and down hill.]

EADLEY made a similar statement, and said, the keepers threatened to "shoot them clean through the head" before his party presented their guns. 

JOHN SLATER, a brother in-law of Eadley, examined by Mr. ASHWORTH.---I have known Eadley fifteen years as a most exemplary character. He got his living by making brick and tiles. He never heard of him "going out" before this time.

The CHIEF JUSTICE summed up the evidence to the jury, and stated to them the nature of the law as applied to the case.

MR. ASHWORTH, in a very lengthy address to the bench, contended that a case, in accordance with the enactments of the particular act upon which the prisoners were indicted (Lord Ellenborough's) was not made out, as they, the prisoners, under all the circumstances of the case they not being in a preseve or inclosure, were justified in standing in their own defence.

When the learned counsel resumed his seat, the CHIEF JUSTICE rose, and said: "Gentlemen, I have already summed up to you at great length, and stated to you the nature of the particular Act upon which the prisoners stand charged: and notwithstanding Mr Ashworth has thought proper to make an objection, which he thinks, but which I do not, is a fatal one, I have no further remarks to offer to you."

The jury, without hesitation, found both the priosoners GUILTY, Eadley with shooting, with the intent to do some grievous bodily harm; and Oaks with aiding and abetting in the same.

DEATH recorded.

George sailed to Australia as a convict on the Speke 3 of 1826, when he was about 21. It appears that when he was married, he was still serving time, and may well have absconded, as he did at least twice. Furthermore, after his 7 years were done and his first child Martha Jane was born, he was convicted again, this time for stealing 60 head of cattle (along with Daniel McGane alias Dandy). The Sydney Herald of Friday, 8 October 1841 reports under the heading "QUEANBEYAN": 

ON Monday night, the 20th ultimo, a lot of cattle, consisting principally of fat bullocks, were driven away from Mr. Campbell's Estate at Limestone Plains. Two horsemen had been seen prowling about the dairy station late that evening, and when some cows were missed the next day, suspicion was excited that these men had driven away the cattle. They were tracked across Canbury Plain towards the Murrumbidgee, and fifteen of the bullocks were found at a station called Balconan, bearing the marks of hard driving and cruel treatment. Men were sent after the remainder in all directions, and Mr. Campbell offered a reward of fifty pounds for the conviction of the parties concerned in this daring outrage. Our readers will be glad to learn that Mr. Campbell's superintendent, Mr. Kennedy, succeeded, after a very hot pursuit, in tracking the cattle to the station of a man named Oaks, where twenty of them had been shot, and the brands cut out for the purpose of evading detection, and in apprehending Oaks himself. We trust that the chain of evidence, which it is believed is sufficient to convict the parties suspected, will not be found defective ; and we hope that the Commissioners will watch with a jealous eye certain squatters, principally emancipists, who contrive, beyond the limits of location, to acquire small herds of cattle, in an amazingly short time, to the astonishment of their poor neighbours, and the serious detriment of the large graziers, whose herds they are in the habit of inspecting. We annex an extract from a letter received from Mr, Kennedy, dated the 30th September:- I am just returned from the search after the cattle.  The track was followed from the Majura dairy station into the mountains, between the Gudradigby River and the head of the Tumat, a distance of from eighty to a hundred miles, where twenty of the cattle-sixteen of them beautiful fat bullocks--- were found dead. They had been shot and the brands cut out. It seems they had found themselves so warmly pursued that to escape with the cattle was impossible, and I am of opinion that to prevent the cattle being identified they shot them for the purpose of cutting away the brands. The offenders were two men who usually stay in those mountains, one of them named George Oaks, the other named Daniel Macquin, commonly called Dandy. Oaks I apprehended about twelve o'clock on Monday night, at an outlandish station in the mountains; he is now in custudy on his way from this to Queanbeyan, and the Police are after the other. It is likely that he is now, or will very soon be taken; and I have no doubt that such evidence can be adduced as will lead to their conviction.

Note that Gudradigby is today Goodradigbee, into which Flea Creek empties, Tumat is today Tumut, and Canbury is the word from which Canberra is derived. The Limestone plains and Majura/Madura, where Campbell had bought land from the explorer Charles Sturt, are in the area of modern Canberra, and were referred to sometimes as Balconan (which was therefore much bigger than the modern Balconnen). Little River is apparently near the Tumut Plains area today. The case came before court in 1842. The Sydney Herald Saturday 26 March 1842, under the heading "CATTLE STEALING":

George Oakes and Daniel M' Gane, alias the Dandy, were indicted for stealing twenty five head of cattle, on the 21st of September, 1841, from Madura, in the district ot Queanbeyan, the property of Charles Campbell, Esq., Merchant, Sydney.

The following jury were then impanelled, namely :-Messrs. John M'Kee, Alexander Frazer, John Gordon, Samuel Benjamin, Thomas Loseby, John Laugmoor, William Hutchinson, James Osborne, Kenneth Monro, William M'Donald, Joseph Henry Jones, and George Nicholson, Esq., jun., Foreman.

While the Jury was being sworn in, the prisoners, through their Attorney, Mr. Ogle, challenged the Messrs. Badgery, and several others of the most respectable inhabitants, of the district. As Mr. Ogle was stating who were challenged apparently from a list in his hand, The CHIEF JUSTICE said, there was something indecorous in Mr. Ogle performing his duty so publicly, and desired that the challenge, in conformity with the law, should be made by the prisoners vive voce. There was something ominous in the circumstance that it was principally in cattle stealing cases, where the parties were enabled by their previous guilty courses to give large fees to counsel, that such wholesale objections were taken to the most respectable inhabitants when they were-called on to act as Jurors. He could not allow the Attorney to object or to speak for the prisoners ; the proper way was for the prisoners to object themselves, or to challenge through their counsel. The attorney was justified in standing beside the dock end doing his best to assist the prisoners, but he was not to speak for them ; such a wholesale system of challenging did not prevail when parties were on their trial for murder.

Mr. OGLE stated that it was the members of the Cattle Association who were objected to. A bye-stander said there was no such association.

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL, in stating the charge to the Jury, remarked, that the case he was about to prove to them was decidedly the most extensive and most important case of cattle-stealing which had come under his notice during the present Circuit ; it was, in fact, a case of wholesale cattle-stealing. He had observed that the prisoners had made a very extensive exercise of their right of challenge, and had rejected some of the most respectable residents in the district; as the law allowed prisoners the right of challenging any juror they thought proper, he would not notice the subject further, but he trusted the present jury had too great a sense of their duty to themselves and to the public, to prevent them from being led away by any pretences of the prisoners as to their ignorance of the offence charged against them. The prisoner Oakes was a freed man, and the other prisoner, M'Gane, had at one time been a ticket-of-leave holder in the district of Queanbeyan, from which he had been sent to Port Macquarie until his sentence had been completed, when he again returned to the district, with which he was but too well acquainted, and had continued there until the present charge was preferred against him. He then gave a detail of the case, and concluded by remarking that cattle-stealing was an offence which had become so prevalent in the Colony that it was now a part of the professional studies of those engaged in the law to get acquainted with the practices of persons who lived by cattle stealing; in the discharge of his official duty he had prosecuted a great many people for cattle stealing, and had defended about as many more, so that he was pretty well acquainted with their modes of proceeding. He did not know what was to be the defence in the present instance, but it would probably consist in raising doubts as to the identity of the cattle. He thought if he made out his case against the prisoners that the jury were bound to convict them; for if they allowed them to escape they would only meet their reward if they had their own cattle stolen at a future period. It was but the other day that one of the gentlemen present had stated from the jury-box, that so prevalent had the offence become in the district, that the cows and tame cattle were frequently stolen from the paddocks in front of the
settlers' residences. He then called the following witnesses.

John Grove, a licensed squatter, living at Mullian, Little Forest, Murrumbidgee, deposed : I know Mr. Campbell's station at Limestone Plains, about one hundred and ten miles from this; my residence is twenty five miles from that station ; Flea Creek lies east from me ; Oakes' mountain station is twenty-five miles west from my place ; the prisoners came to my place about the 10th of September, on horseback, and asked if they could stop there all night, and I allowed them, having known them before ; in the morning Oakes told me they were going to the Flea Creek after cattle ; when they left, after breakfast on Monday morning, the one was riding a rusty black horse, the other rode a bright bay horse ; they came back between sunset and dark on Tuesday night, bringing a mob of cattle with them, which they put into my stockyard ; I took notice that there was one black one and some red ones among them ; they were full grown cattle; I cannot say what kind of cattle they were ; they had my permission to put them into the yard; they had stopped with me about three months before, when they also had a mob of cattle with them ; they left in September, just after sunrise.

By the Jury : One of the prisoners lives twenty miles from me at the Little River ; Oakes is a settler ; I had seen Dandy four or live times belore at my place; I saw him twice with cattle and once without cattle ; I saw him with Oakes, but he had no cattle then, and I saw him twice on the road.

By the ATTORNEY-GENERAL : Oakes' cattle are branded GO; Mr. Campbell's stock keeper brought back sum of the cattle three or four days after they left with the herd ; Mr. Campbell's cattle are branded CC ; it is possible to alter CC to GO.

John Cassidy deposed : I was in the service of Mr. Kennedy, superintendent to Mr. Campbell, at Madura; I have been three years in his employ as dairyman ; I have not been drinking this morning; I recollect when the cattle were missed, it was after I left Pialliga station ; when Mr. Kennedy went down the Murrumbidgee to look for them the day after they were missing, I saw some calves returning of their own accord, the day after they had been missed; before the cattle were missed I saw two men on horseback as I was coming out of the Sow and Pigs; one rode a big bay horse and the other was on a small horse ; they went in the direction of Mr. Campbell's run ; I took one of them to be round shouldered. Next morning a number of cattle, I think thirty five of them, were missed; the big man rode a yellow horse with white feet, I did not notice a blaze on the face of either of the horses.

Cross-examined : The horses I saw at the Police Office, Queanbeyan, were not the same as I saw the men riding on ; the coat I sawwas like the one I saw on the man riding the horse with the blaze on his face.

William Vardy.-I was in Merchant Campbell's service at Madura, on the 20th of September last, when I saw two mounted men come there ; they carne over a range at the back of a hut where I lived, went over our plains, and watered their horses. One of the horses appeared to be a bay horse. They were 400 or 500 yards from me; I saw the horses had white feet. I am not sure that one of the horses had a white face. I might haye sworn that one of the horses had a white face. I have seen none of the prisoners since their committal. One of the men I saw on horsebuck had on a Petersham coat, and the other had on a jacket. I saw one of the men was bigger than the other. (This witness's deposition was read, when it appeared that he had sworn that one of the man had on a white beaver hat, he had now no recollection of this. Some calves were missing next day and came back again; that was the way we tracked the others, by going in the direction they returned from.

Thomas Johnstone : I was in Mr. Campbell's service on the 21st September. I saw the prisoners at Groves' house that night. Oakes had on a dark rough coat. I had seen him a month before with a white felt hat on. Dandy had on a blue jacket. When I saw him before, he wore a white cabbage-tree, or straw hat. I stopped there that night, and left next morning about 8 o'clock. They left before me. I slept in the same room with them. I told them I had been at our head station.

Cross-examined; Groves knows Mr. Campbell's stations, there is one within a mile of Groves' place; some of Mr. Campbell's men were then there. I do not know of any empty or deserted station near Groves' place. I went to Groves' after the prisoners had arrived there. I have heard that Oakes had cattle.

Donald Kennedy deposed : I am superintendent to Mr. Campbell, at Madura. I missed some cattle on the morning of the 21st of September. On that day I missed upwards of 40 bullocks, and a number of young cattle, cows and steers, in all above 100 head, on the 22nd they all returned, except from twenty to thirty. Upwards of twenty fat bullocks did not return. The great majority of them were branded CC on the rump off side. Oakes branded in the same place with GO, it would be easy to alter the former to the latter brand. Some of them might be branded S H, for Sarah Hook, Mr. Campbell's sister. A number of the SH cattle returned on the morning of the 22nd. In company with Neil Kennedy, Duncan M'Pherson and some others, we tracked them to the Murrumbidgee, where I left the party to give information to the Police, the others went on to Grove's. I offered a reward of ten shillings per head, and fifty pounds for the conviction of the thieves. In consequence of information I got a search warrant and joined the tracking party again at the Little River, on their return from Oakes'. On Tuesday I went with M'Pherson and another man to the place where I found the cattle had been slaughtered; it was ten miles from Oakes' lower station, and twenty miles from his upper one ; I saw twenty carcases, viz., sixteen bullocks, two cows, a yearling heifer, and a yearling steer all lying dead, with the brands cut out, unskinned; they might have been dead two days before, and appeared to have been shot through near the shoulder ; the brands were cut out of the off rumps ; I could and do swear that they were Mr. Campbell's cattle ; Flea Creek is sixty miles from Madura [NOTE: compare to Groves, who is more accurate]; the cattle were found about seventy miles from Madura ; there was no hut or residence where they were found ; they were spread over a distance of about two miles ; they were very fat cattle ; it was on the 2Sth of September : I saw them dead ; I saw some horse tracks, at least, of two horses ; one track appeared as of a horse shod only on the forefeet; I found this track where the cattle where slaughtered, and about two miles from Madura, where the cattle were taken from (the witness here produced a horseshoe) ; this shoe was taken off the horse claimed by Oakes, which had no shoes on the hind feet ; I compared this shoe with the marks on the track, and it exactly corresponded; I saw the prisoner taken ; his horse was a dark brown with a white face ; he was rough ; Oakes claimed him; he was taken at his mountain station by the chief constable of Queenbeyan, who told him what he was taken for, when the prisoner said if he wanted cattle he might go and look for them ; the horse appeared very much jaded and hurt by the saddle as if severely ridden ; the value ofthe cattle was £8 each for the sixteen bullocks ; no use was ever made of them, they were left there to consume.

Cross-examined: On the Tuesday, when the cattle were missed it was fine weather; it sometimes happens that people ride horses near Madura without the hind shoes; there is a blacksmith within two miles of Madura. The cattle were not traced to the Port Phillip road, only where they crossed it for the Murrumbidgee ; I did not examine the wounds particularly ; Mr. Campbell is the proprietor of the Madura station, and of all the cattle running there; I only compared this shoe with one track at different places ; all of the tracking party had horses but they were shod ; I missed the cattle at five in the morning of the 21st; I had seen them the night before ; it is a very hilly country where the cattle were found, and so is Oakes' station ; the Madura station is three miles from the Port Phillip road. The cattle might stray a short way from Madura, but I have no reason to believe that the cattle found dead had strayed to where I found them ; I found three head of cattle at Mullion's, about a mile from Oakes' station, and about half a mile from the track of the killed cattle : they had not strayed there, but appeared to have broken off from the mob and were on their way back to Madura; several cattle were found along the track; Mr. Charles Campbell has some stations near Groves' residence. 

Re-examined: I particularly recognised a large black bullock as being Mr. Campbell's lying among the shot cattle ; I would as soon believe that the cattle shot themselves and cut out their own brands as that they strayed where they were found.

Neil Kennedy, cousin to the preceding witness, and storekeeper at Mr. Campbell's head station on Limestone Plains, corroborated the preceding witness, and had tracked the cattle from the Murrimbidgee to where they were discovered, and had found the tracks of the cattle within 50 yards of Oakes' stockyard, at his station.

Alfred Witts, chief constable of Queanbeyan, proved the apprehension of the prisoners, and that when he searched the prisoner Oakes for the fire arms which had been employed in shooting the cattle, he told him he only carried arms for his own defence in the bush, and if the witness wanted them, he might go and look for them. He had reason to believe that the prisoner Oakes had some cattle of his own. The prisoner Dandy had given himself up at the police office after the cattle had been stolen and when a warrant had been issued for his apprehension. This witness also proved that when he asked the prisoner M'Gane for the road to Oakes' mountain station, that he attempted to deceive him by stating that there was no road to it, whereas there was a very distinct road to the place, which the witness subsequently
followed without the least difficulty. 

This closed the case for the Crown.

Mr. PUREFOY enquired if his Honor Intended putting the case to the jury, as neither an active nor a constructive possession had been proved.

His HONOR replied, I suppose you have asked me as a matter of course.

Mr. PUREFOY then addressed the Court for the prisoners, contending that no case had been made out against his client, and alleged that the cattle they were seen with at Groves' were Oakes's own cattle, which he had been driving to deliver to James Hughes, with whom he had a contract.

James Hughes, a squatter, proved that he had bargained with Oakes about a fortnight before he was apprehended, for 10 heifers, 10 cows, and 10 steers, to be delivered as soon as they were got in at £ per head ; also that the prisoner, being again spoken to, promised to deliver them about the 20th of September, but none ever came, till the prisoner was in custody, when six head were delivered, which he had sold again at £4 10s. per head ; the cattle were to be delivered at a place in the immediate vicinity of Oakes' station, viz., at Mullion's.

Henry Bingham, Esq., J. P., and a commissioner of Crown Lands ; knew the prisoner, George Oakes, as an excellent bushman, who led him, one dark night, to the hut where and when he apprehended the notorious Curran. From enquiries he subsequently made he had been induced to recommend him for a squatting license. He had heard rumours unfavourable to the character of the prisoner.

Surgeon William Butterfield Algeo, settler, at Yass: Had known Oakes for two years, and always believed him to be a sober well-conducted man. He had attended him professionally shortly before he was taken on the present charge. 

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL considered [him]self under great obligations to his le[arned] friend who had conducted the defence, [for?] supplying all that was defective in his [...] by the testimony of Hughes. If such a [...] as the present was to fail he would desp[air of] ever being able to prove a case to the [satis]faction of a Jury in this district; he [con]sidered it as a most wanton and black out[...] and one which was without a parallel ¡[...] history of cattle stealing, and concluded [...] stating that he considered that the chai[...] evidence was as complete as could be desi[red]

His HONOR, in putting the case to the Jury instructed them to disregard the speeches of the Attorney-General and of Mr. Pure[foy] and endeavour to ascertain from the evid[ence] 1st-Whether Mr. Campbell's cattle had [been] stolen : 2nd-Were they the same ca[ttle] which had been slaughtered? and 3rd-W[ere] the prisoners the persons who had ta[ken] them? With regard to the insinuati[on] against Mr. Witts, chief-constable of Qu[en]beyan, for not moving in the affair until he heard of the reward ; it was no imp[...]tion upon him, as he only heard of cattle being stolen when the reward [was] mentioned ; the Jury must see that [...] was a person of character, or the ma[gis]trates would not keep him in such a [re]sponsible situation. He directed the att[en]tion of the jury particularly to the false [and] evasive answers given by Oakes when was arrested. He also adverted to that p[...] of the defence whereby it appeared that s[...] the committal of Oakes he had execute[d] deed of conveying all his property to [his] wife, and concluded by adverting to [the] want of evidence in support of the alleg[ed] defence, and said that the witn[ess] Hughes, brought forward to prove this, [was] a lamentable instanca of the ignorance wh[ich] prevails in some parts of this colony, as [he] did not know either the, month or the day [...] the month when the festival of Christmas [...] celebrated, and tha' character was of [...] avail where the date was clearly made [...]. As it appeared in evidence that Dandy [was] in the practice of frequenting races, [His] Honor observed, that he had good rea[son] for believing that the frequenting of races [in] this colony, was attended with anything [...] an improvement of the morality of the p[er]sons who did so, particularly those who w[ere] in the same station in society as the prisone[r].

The Jury retired for five minutes, and [re]turned a verdict of guilty against both.

Mr. PUREFOY, in arrest of judgment argu[ed] that the information did not charge the offen[ce] in the form prescribed by the statute, as l[aid] down in page 47 of Archibald's practice, t[...] form was " wilfully."

His HONOR considered the terms " unla[w]fully" and " feloniously," as the proper wor[ds] and rejected the objection.

His HONOR in passiag sentence remarke[d] that the Counsel of the prisoners had do[ne] everything which mortal man could do [for] them ; that' the prisoners had no excuse, a[nd] that it was a case which exceeded in enormi[ty] and barbarity any case of cattle stealing whi[ch] had been tried before him for the last fifte[en] years. He felt it his duty to put forth t[he] whole power ol the law as it at present stoo[d] to check the evil of cattle stealing, which [was] so prevalent in the d¡strict, and sentenc[e] each of the prisoners to be transported to penal settlement for fifteen years.

The Court adjourned at a quarter to sev[en] P.M., till ten A.M., of the next day, Thursda[y].

The Australasian Chronicle Tuesday 29 March 1842 reports: 

George Oakes and Daniel M'Gane, alias the "Dandy," were indicted for stealing twenty-five head, of cattle, the property of Charles Campbell, merchant, Sydney, at Madura, in the district of Queanbeyan, on the 21st September, 1841. The prisoners challenged several of the jury, andwhen the jury were sworn, 

The Attorney General opened the case by remarking that it was decidedly the most extensive and important case of cattle stealing which had come under his notice during the present circuit. The prisoners had made an extensive use of their right of challenge, but he trusted the jury had too great a sense of their duty, both to thenmselves and the public, to be led away by any pretences of the prisoners. From his extensive professional practice he was pretty well acquainted with the mode in which cattle stealers generally proceeded ; and if in the present instance he fully established his case against the prisoners at the bar he had no doubt the jury would find them guilty, as if they sulfered them to escape they might expect at no distant period a visit to their own cattle stations, as it was only the other day that a gentleman had stated from the jury box that, so prevalent had cattle stealing become in the district, milch cows and tame cattle were frequently stolen from the paddocks in the front of the settlers' residences. The learned Attorney General then gave an outline of the case against the prisoners, and called 

John Grove, a licensed squatter, who resided at Mullian, Little Forest, Murrumbidgee; deposed that he knew Mr. Campbell's station at Limestone Plains, about one hundred and ten miles from Berrima, and witness's own residence was about twenty-five miles from that. Flea creek lay east from him, and Oakes's mountain station was twenty-five miles to the westward of his place ; the prisoners went to his place about the 19th of September last, on horse back, and stopped there all night. In the morning, Oakes said they were going to Flea creek after cattle; they went away after breakfast; one of them rode a rusty black horse, and the other a bright bay one; they returned between sunset and dark on Tuesday evening, bringing with them some cattle, which they put into witness's stockyard with his permission ; the cattle were full grown, and amongst them was a black one and some red ones. 

By the Jury: One of the prisoners lived twenty miles from witness; witness had seen Dandy several times before.

Re-examined: Oakes's cattle were branded GO; Mr. Campbell's stockkeeper brought some of the cattle back three or four days after; Mr. Campbell's cattle were branded CC, which might be altered into GO. 

John Cassidy deposed that he was in the service of Mr. Campbell's superintendent, and recollected the time when the cattle were missed, and that about the same time he saw two men on horseback going in the direction of Mr. Campbell's run; some of the cattle returned of their own accord the day after they were missed.

William Vardy, in the service of Mr. Campbell, recollected seeing two men on horseback come over a range at the back of the hut where he lived about the time the cattle were missed; one of them had on a Petersham coat, and the other a jacket.

Thomas Johnstone saw the prisoners at Groves's house on the night the cattle were taken away; Oakes had a dark rough coat on, and Dandy a blue jacket; they left next morning before he did.

Donald Kennedy. superintendent to Mr. Campbell, deposed that on the 21st of September last he missed above a hundred head of cattle, all of which returned the following day except about thirty; there were upwards of twenty fat bullocks which did not return ; most of them were branded CO on the rump off side, others were branded SH ; those branded SH returned; Oakes branded GO in the same place; it would be easy to alter CC to GO.

Witness, in company with some others, tracked the cattle to the Murrumbidgee, where he left to give information to the police, and offered a reward of ten shillings per head, and £60 for the conviction of the thieves. On Tuesday a search warrant was obtained, and the cattle were found slaughtered at a place about ten miles from Oakes' lower station, and twenty from his upper one; there were twenty carcases, sixteen bullocks, two cows, a yearling heifer, and a yearling steer, they were unskinned, but the brands were cut out ; they appeared to have been shot through near the shoulder; witness could swear that they were Mr. Campbell's cattle; the cattle were found about seventy miles from Madura.

Witness saw the tracks of a horse which was only shod on the fore feet; Oakes' horse was shod in that manner; he was a dark brown horse with a white face, and appeared to have been severely ridden; the sixteen bullocks were worth £8 each ; no use was ever made of them, they were left there to consume.

Neil Kennedy, storekeeper, corroborated the above evidence, and said that he had found tracks within fifty yards of Oakes' stockyard.

This closed the case for the crown.

Mr. Purefoy addressed the jury for the defence, and called several witnesses.

The Attorney General then replied, and after his Honor had summed up, the jury retired for about five minutes, and returned a verdict of guilty against both prisoners.

Mr. Purefoy moved in arrest of judgment that the information was not according to the form prescribed by the statute; but his Honor overruled the objection, and sentenced the prisoners to be transported to a penal settlement for fifteen years.

The court then adjourned.

Once again George was to be made an example of during a crime wave, and the presiding judge pretty much told the jury what to decide. It possibly did not help that once again, his apparent victim, Robert Campbell, one of the first settlers in what is now Canberra (which is where Majura/Madura is), was a very powerful man. I notice a blogger has mentioned the case. 

Of the 10 years he finally served, 3 were to be on the dreaded Norfolk Island during one of its worst periods. The first two years of the sentence, before Norfolk, must have been on the mainland, after Norfolk he was on Van Dieman’s land (Tasmania). He survived and was returned to freedom.

His basic convict records describes him:-

Oakes George, 21, R&W Protestant, single, b Cheshire, Farmer’s labourer, reaps.

Offence: Poaching and shooting at gamekeeper.

Tried at Chester on 3 April 1826, Sentence: 7 years.

5 foot 10 inches, ruddy complexion, Brown hair, Hazel eyes.

Number of warts on right hand, scar on outer corner of right eyebrow.

Key dates from convict record and other records:-

1828 census (age 22)

Location: Goulburn Plains, a servant to Mr Andrew Allen. (Andrew Allen mentions leaving George ("one of my men") on some land he had purchases, to thrash barley. This would have been late 1830 or early 1831. The Sydney Herald Monday 17 June 1833.)

29 Sep 1831 (age 25-26)

Ticket of Leave: Goulburn; Torn up 5 Feb 1833

14 Apr 1833 (age 27-28)

Certificate of Freedom 

November 1834

Accused. The Sydney Gazette recorded that:

"George Oakes and John Rubden (sic; in fact Bugden), were indicted for stealing at Cabramatta, on the 29th August last, one Ox, the property of Richard Jones; and Henry Doran was charged with feloniously receiving the same, well knowing it to have been stolen by the first named prisoners. NOT GUILTY.”

(Thanks to researcher Greg Bugden of Armidale for this!)

12 Jul 1836 (age 30-31)

Absconded (1)           Goulburn

31 Jul 1836 (age 30-31)

Assigned                Goulburn

10 Aug 1836 (age 30-31)

Arrested                Goulburn

12 Jun 1839 (age 33-34)Marriage near Murrumbateman to Susan Casey

25 Feb 1841 (age 35-36)

Absconded (2)           Wingello

21 Sep 1841 (age 35-36)Day the cattle were seen to be robbed from Mr Campbell

6-14 Dec 1841 (age 35-36)

Location                Various places in and out of custody: Berrima, Hyde Park Barracks, Parramatta, Liverpool, Tumut, Towrang Stockade, Queanbeyan

13 Dec 1841 (age 35-36)

Examination             Goulburn, Discharged

5 Feb 1842 (age 36-37)

Committed (1)           Queanbeyan (3 years irons; Towrang Stockade)

23 Mar 1842 (age 36-37)

Conviction (2)          Burrowa

11 Mar 1842 (age 36-37)

Berrima Circuit Court. The Sydney Herald reports a case concerning George Oakes, free, and Daniel M'Gane, alias Dandy, free, cattle stealing

25 March 1842 (age 36-37)

Committed (2)           Goulburn Admitted to bail

27 Apr 1842 (age 36-37)

Committed (3)           Queanbeyan (15 year transport and Sydney Gaol)

1 Jan 1843 (age 37-38)

Location                Parramatta. Signed statement: intention to give up contracts for Berrima and Goulburn within 3 months. (Contracts for what?)

22 Feb 1844 (age 38-39)

Location                Cockatoo Island

10 Mar 1844 (age 38-39)

Arrived (2)             Norfolk Island

6 Aug 1847 (age 41-42) 

Arrived (3)             Van Dieman's Land per Lady Franklin

9 Aug 1847 (age 41-42) 

Assigned                to Jerusalem depot
Also a record of an offence on this day.
Also recorded as being a “Probation Pass Holder”.

10 Aug 1847 (age 41-42)

Prisoners’ Barracks

25 Aug 1847

Parson’s Pass

25 Aug 1847

Brushy Plains

7 Sep 1847

Richmond

23 Jan 1849 (age 43-44)

Ticket of Leave        

31 Aug 1849

Richmond

10 Sep 1850

Recommended for a CP   

2 Sep 1851 (age 45-46) 

Conditional Pardon     

18 Mar 1852 (age 46-47)

Departed Van Diemans Land per Shamrock (steerage)



He was described in more detail in 1833 for his Certificate of Freedom:-

Height: 5 ft 10 ins
Complexion:  facial(?) ruddy
Hair: Lt Brown, Eyes: Lt Blue
General remarks: Small scar outer corner of right eyebrow, small mole over left eyebrow, little finger of right hand contracted, small scar back of top  ? finger of right hand, scar on thumb and forefinger of left hand.

And once more, in more detail, for his second conviction, his complexion having changed a bit perhaps. (At least one version of this can be found on page 206 of an online scan at the Tasmanian records website:-

Shepherd
5 foot 11
41 years
Sallow complexion
Large Head
Brown Hair
Brown, small whiskers
Large, Broad Visage with a high broad forehead.
Brown Eyebrows
Gray Eyes
Large Nose
Medium Mouth and Chin?
Nat Place
Chester
Married with one child
Stout made” . It is interesting that this was noted as a distinguishing feature rather than the normal list of scars and moles. It matches the newspaper reports above which seem to imply that he was perceived as a relatively big person.
C of E

These records also confirm that he could read and write, and that his wife was Susan.

Finally, we have his death certificate, with many boxes not filled in:

REF NO 1879/9857
NAME        -GEORGE OAKES
DATE OF DEATH     -22/12/1878
PLACE -MARENGO FLAT, DISTRICT OF YOUNG NSW
OCCUPATION  -FARMER
SEX   -MALE
AGE   -76
CONJUGAL  STATUS
  -
PLACE OF BIRTH    -CHESHIRE ENGLAND
TIME IN AUST COLONIES   -NOT STATED

FATHER      -UNKNOWN
OCCUPATION  -UNKNOWN
MOTHER      -UNKNOWN

PLACE OF MARRIAGE -
AGE AT MARRIAGE   -
NAME OF SPOUSE    -
CHILDREN OF MARRIAGE    -

INFORMANT   -W OAKES, BY INFORMATION, SON, MARENGO

CAUSE OF DEATH    -UNKNOWN
LENGTH OF ILLNESS -7 DAYS
MEDICAL ATTENDANT -NONE
DATE LAST SEEN    -

DATE OF BURIAL    -24/12/1878
PLACE OF BURIAL   -MARENGO CEMETERY
MINISTER &
RELIGION     -JOHN DEAN, PRO CLERGYMAN, CHURCH OF ENGLAND
UNDERTAKER  -JOHN DEAN

WITNESSES   -PATRICK KEARIN, GEORGE SMITH

REGISTERED  -6/2/1879 YOUNG

The electoral rolls of 1878/79 show that later in life, George managed to become the owner of the property he then lived at, named Illunie. His younger three children appear to have remained in the area. This was now to the north of Yass, between Young and Burrowa, and quite far from his old mountain station. William Oakes (77/78 with father at Illunie, 81/82, a freeholder of Marengo/Murringo), John Coddington (74/75 Stony Creek, 77/78, 78/79 Murrumburrah) and John James Taylor all appear in the electoral rolls of the area. Illunie itself now appears to be a placename most associated with a large Nature Reserve. It must have been on the northern edge of Marengo, with Stony Creek on the eastern edge.

From a family tree point-of-view, it is very important that the Tasmanian records also give details of his family back in England. His parents were Thomas and Elizabeth, residents of his native place in Cheshire, and his siblings were Thomas, William, Mary, Esther and Charlotte.

This exact family can be found a short walk from Somerford Booths appearing in the parish registers of Swettenham, with a couple of baptisms apparently in neighbouring Goostrey-cum-Barnshaw, and other neighbouring churches. George's family appears to have been originally in the hamlet of Lower Withington. And because the Cheshire parish registers can be checked online these days, we can be confident that this combination of children's names is unique. (On the other hand the parents' names are amazingly common even in the small area involved.) It is striking that though they did not have to live through Norfolk island, many of George’s siblings in Dickensian England died much younger than he did, dead before he could manage to get convicted the second time.

Here are the register entries, plus some which may be relevant.

So who were Thomas an Elizabeth? This is more difficult, because these names are common in the area. Also it seems that either a lot of marriages are missing from the registers, or else there was a tradition of marrying in the bigger churches, not the local chapels. (See the discussion of wills below, which gives evidence for this.) Marriages we could consider include:

Astbury parish actually stretched to cover Somerford Booths, and is geographically the best fit, but 1805 is near the end of this series of children. We can perhaps make a reasonable guess at their ages, based on their apparent burial records:-

If Elizabeth was significantly older than Thomas then perhaps the 1799 marriage in Middlewich should be considered likely, at least if we think the 1791 baptism of Mary is one of theirs. One problem with this scenario is explaining the long wait before marriage, despite earlier children. Another doubt arises because she would have been 46 when she had Charlotte. I am tempted to suggest that Thomas married two different Elizabeths in his life. But I do not see any clear sign of the burial of the first one.

If Thomas was about 68 in 1835, meaning he was born about 1767, then it appears that his baptism fits into the Capesthorne and/or Siddington register entries (these registers seem to be referred to by both names?). Capesthorne seems to be the parish which actually officially included Withington.

But it is not certain that this represents one family. Further work may allow me to put together a likely tree. It is already clear that the Oaks family were in the Withington area all the way back to the earliest registers in the 1500s. George's family seems unlikely to have been wealthy, but being well-established in the area, may have once owned land, so with some luck we may get back to earlier generations about whom there are some records worth reporting. There certainly are Oakes wills for Lower Withington and Somerford, but mainly back in the 1600s.

The most obvious will to check has been that of John Oakes of Lower Withington of 1789, a joiner, whose entry in the Swettenham burial register indicate he was 96:

I can not even find the baptisms of John's daughters, and he mentions no sons, either because he had none, or because they were otherwise employed. This John is also clearly about old enough to be a grandfather of our Thomas, rather than a father.

An admon document exists for a Hannah Oaks of Lower Withington, in 1773. It mentions that the widower is James Oaks, Pot Carrier. Again no real lead seems to come from this.

Unfortunately the wills therefore so far give us no potential link back from Thomas to the apparently land-owning Oakes of the 1500s and 1600s in this area. Placenames associated with them include Shanwick and Matlow, which are today spelt Shannock and Mutlow. (See here.)


4. Susannah Casey: lost Irish girl?

Just about all we know of Susan/Susannah is from her death certificate:

REF NO 1873/3617
NAME        -SUSAN OAKES
DATE OF DEATH     -5/4/1873
PLACE -STONEY CREEK, NEAR BURROWA NSW
OCCUPATION  -
SEX   -FEMALE
AGE   -48
CONJUGAL  STATUS
  -
PLACE OF BIRTH    -LIMERICK IRELAND
TIME IN AUST COLONIES   -UNKNOWN

FATHER      -CASEY (NO OTHER NAME STATED)
OCCUPATION  -UNKNOWN
MOTHER      -UNKNOWN

PLACE OF MARRIAGE -AUSTRALIA
AGE AT MARRIAGE   -UNKNOWN
NAME OF SPOUSE    -GEORGE OAKES
CHILDREN OF MARRIAGE    -1 MALE, 3 FEMALES LIVING

INFORMANT   -WILLIAM OAKES, SON, STONEY CREEK

CAUSE OF DEATH    -SEVERE COUGH AND COLD
LENGTH OF ILLNESS -16 DAYS

DATE OF BURIAL    -8/4/1873
PLACE OF BURIAL   -MARENGO
MINISTER &
RELIGION     -NIL
UNDERTAKER  -WILLIAM KEATING

WITNESSES   -JOHN CODRINGTON, MANUEL SILVIA

REGISTERED  -27/6/1873 BURROWA

This age of 48 (47 on the memorial) would make Susan seem to have been born about 1826 and married about 13 years old! On the other hand, when her daughter Mary was born, a birth year of about 1820 was implied on the certificate, meaning she would have been 19 years old at the wedding. In any case she was young, and her parents were not there for the marriage. What on earth was she doing there? Australia at this time was still mainly settled by convicts and soldiers, and new arrivals were generally well documented, at least if they were adults. No record has been found of her arrival. Presumably she came as a child, either with a convict mother (convicted mothers were allowed to bring their children), or perhaps shipped over by special permission granted to a convict. Could she had alternatively been the child of a soldier or free settler?

In early 2010 I finally found an index online of a ship called the James Pattison, which arrived 11/02/1836, sailing from Cork. This was a ship loaded with single young ladies as part of the program of the Emigration Commission of 1831-1832. This became searchable online after my initial lead was proven very likely to be wrong (see below, appendix). In the words of Dr Liz Rushen, who has researched and published about this program (see her website),

Elizabeth Casey, aged 24 and her sister, Susan aged 19 emigrated from Limerick, Ireland on the James Pattison, arriving in Sydney on 7 February 1836.  Elizabeth was #223 on the ship's list and Susan was #224.

There is another genealogical webpage for a woman on this ship, Honora Austin, and this researcher also discussed has been helped by the research of Dr Rushen. She writes:

Between 1833 and 1837, fourteen ships disembarked approximately 2,700 women at Sydney, Hobart and Launceston under the first scheme for female emigration between Great Britain and the Australian colonies.

In order to be eligible for the government bounty, the women had to meet certain requirements:

- They had to want to emigrate – they were not ‘shovelled out’.

- Age - at the outset of the scheme, emigration was open to single women and widows between the ages of 18 and 30 years of age, but before the first ship departed, the minimum age was lowered to 15 years. With the inclusion of families on the later LEC ships, girls as young as 12 years of age were allowed the government bounty provided they were travelling with their families.

- Health – the women had to be healthy enough to undertake the three-month voyage – one woman was not allowed to emigrate as she had a ‘sore knee’. Others, however, emigrated with consumption and two or three died from this cause during the voyages.

- Conduct - the women had to obtain references from two reputable people.

- The final check was an interview by the committee or its agent.

- Money to cover the costs of emigration - in 1833, the cost of a passage to Australia was estimated to be between £17 and £19. Initially it was proposed that the British treasury would pay to the LEC £6 on the departure of each woman eligible for the bounty, £6 was to be paid on their arrival in the colonies and £6 was to be raised by the woman herself. By the end of 1834 the government agreed to cover the passage costs for each woman. Emigrants still had to have sufficient funds to get to the ports of departure and provide the required outfit for the journey.

Administered for the Colonial Office by the London Emigration Committee, the scheme met with immediate criticism. The Committee was condemned for its selection processes in what was seen as a plot to transplant immoral women and the sweepings of British and Irish workhouses and charitable institutions to colonial society.

Intensive research has revealed that, at most, only one quarter of the women were from workhouses or charitable institutions. Many of the women were emigrating in family groups, or joining family or friends on the colonies.

Condemned for their independence, most of the women were enterprising individuals who successfully managed the migration experience and made valuable contributions to the development of Australian colonial society.

The age and date for Susan Casey is clearly very close to what we need, and the place of origin, Limerick, is a match. We have found that there was one more way that young ladies might suddenly appear in the colony, ready to marry! Elizabeth Rushen had never traced the two sisters to any marriage, although Elizabeth had made an application to marry a convict in 1840.

The only way to try to confirm this new theory is perhaps by trying to find Elizabeth, and see what her death certificate says. More generally, if there are lots of coincidences, the case becomes stronger. As a first step in this process it is fascinating to find that one of only 3 Elizabeth Casey marriages from 1836 to 1860 was very close to Susan in 1853 in the Church of England, Gundaroo, Gunning, Yass. This was to one William Griffin. Perhaps most interesting for us is that this couple, or at least one of their sons, settled in the small village of Murringo, where the Oakes family also came to live.

More records should be checked however, because as mentioned above Casey was a common name in the Gundaroo area, and furthermore the distance between Yass and Newcastle, where the sisters were initially assigned to work for James Reid, is a big one!


APPENDIX. A False Lead

Before I found a record of the young ladies on the James Pattison, I found leads which all headed in one direction. In 1838 I found a record of Susan being either in Australia, or expected there, because there was a letter waiting for her:

Casey Susan Miss NSW Sydney 1 June 1838 Postal Government Gazette 1838 p359

Secondly, given that Casey was and is a common name in Australia, I looked at Caseys who come from Limerick, the options narrowed down a lot…

A good internet resource for such a search is Peter Mayberry’s website: http://www.pcug.org.au/~ppmay/cgi-bin/db/search.cgi?query=casey&stpos=0&stype=AND. Extracting…

First Name

Ship

Tried

Trial Place

Term

DOB

Native Place

Remarks

Connor

Pilot (1817)

1816

Limerick Co

7

1779

Limerick

Labourer

John

Brampton (1823)

1822

Limerick Co

7

1783

Limerick

Carter reaper

Mary

City of Edinburgh (1) [1828]

1828

Limerick

7

1803

Limerick Co

Farm servant

Michael

Brampton (1823)

1822

Limerick Co

7

1797

Limerick

Carter reaper

Michael

Guildford (3) [1818]

1817

Limerick

7

1786

Tipperary

Labourer

Michael

Providence I (1811)

1809

Limerick City

7

 

 

 

William

Prince Regent I (2) [1824]

1823

Limerick

Life

1789

Limerick

Fencer reaper

 

We can eliminate all those who traveled significantly before 1820, because Susan’s father and mother must have still been in Ireland to conceive her around then at the earliest it seems. So Connor, and Michael on the Providence, are out. (Besides, Michael died before reaching Australia.) I can also say that Michael of the Brampton’s descendents are known. See http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~casey/cas_0001.html.

Our most interesting line of enquiry has been through looking for convicts who might have brought children over. For some listings of such requests see especially http://www.nationalarchives.ie/topics/transportation/search01.html. In this respect the outstanding candidate is William Casey who came over on the Prince Regent.

The original crime of William Casey is described in a newspaper: http://www.irelandoldnews.com/Galway/1823/MAY.html

Connaught Journal

published Galway, Ireland

Monday, May 26, 1823

PROVINCIAL NEWS

(From the Limerick Chronicle)

On Monday last, at the hour of ten o'clock in the morning, the dwelling-house of Robert HARDING, Esq. of *erawalin, in this county, was assailed and broken into by a band of ruffians, some of whom had their faces disguised; they dashed thro' the windows on the ground floor, forcing in the sashes, and then rushed upstairs, forcing the females of the house before them. On the landing of the stairs they were met by Mr. HARDING, who fired at them, but (by the interposition of his sister) without effect. They then knocked down Mr. H., beat him most severely, and fired several shots at him while he lay on the floor. They then possessed themselves of all the arms in the house, consisting of two double-barrelled guns, two single guns, a pistol, a powder-horn, shot-pouch, and a small di*k, which they carried off. Immediately after the outrage, Richard MASON, Esq. a Magistrate, accompanied by this brothers and Messrs. H. & R. HARDING, with a detachment of the Rifle Brigade, from Ballyagran, scoured the country in the direction of Drumcolloher, but without effect at that period; but at seven o'clock the same evening, they proceeded to the neighbourhood of Garryfeine and Fort, on the borders of the county of Cork, where they succeeded in apprehending 11 of the most notorious character, four of whom we are happy to find, were fully identified by Richard MASON, Esq. The names are Michael RYAN, Thomas MEADE; Richard MOLONY; and William CASEY.

The newspapers of the time were very concerned with attempts by Catholics to arm and organize themselves, and this appears to be precisely such a case. A special law had been introduced making it illegal for Catholics to posses arms or gather in numbers. NSW State records holds a copy of summaries of results from the Limerick Summer Assizes of 1823 for William Casey of the Prince Regent, confirming that he was convicted with Michael Ryan, Thomas Meade, Richard Malony/Molony, as well as others at the same time all for “seizing arms”. So it appears clear that the above newspaper article was not meant to imply that this was a robbery with money or violence as the aim. In short William was one of the many Irish sent to Australia because he was a potential political trouble maker in a time of great fear of rebellion.

His letter requesting that his family be sent out names the two men who caught him as references!

To his Excellency Sir Thomas Brisbane K.C.B. Captain Generale Governor and Commander in Chief in and near? His Majesty’s Territory of New South Wales and its Dependances?

The Humble Memorial of William Casey

Sheweth

That your Memorialist came to the Colony in the Ship Prince Regent Wales master in 1824 and was tried at Limerick at the Summer Assizes in 1823 and received sentence of Exile for life. Left a Wife Joan and Three children (residing at the time your Memorialist left his native Country) in the Parish of Rock Hill near? The town of Bruff in the County of Limerick ??? married in the year 1810 by the Rev. M. Sullivan [maybe Garret O’Sullivan?] pastor of Knockaderra, to whom and Richard Mason ??? and to Mr Harding both of the parish of Ballynghrame? [Ballyagran] In the aforesaid County of Limerick your Memorialist most respectfully begs leave to refer for the truth of which he then states. –

Your Memorialist therefore humbly prays that your Excellency may be graciously pleased to grant that your Memorialist’s Wife and Three children may be sent out to him to this Colony as he can be honest industry support them without any ??? to the Crown. [After this point a mass of small writing makes it difficult to decipher much more; this appears to be made up of a positive note from a person (John Wyley) who vouches for William’s industriousness in the colony.]

It is fascinating that he mentions three children, but only two are mentioned as coming with his wife on the Forth of 1830. More specifically, according to Perry McIntyre “In May 1830 his wife Johanna Casey and two daughters, Mary 19, Catherine 9 appear in a list Dublin Castle enclosing a list of wives and children of convicts in NSW who were from Limerick and had been embarked on board the convict ship Forth as free passengers to NSW”.

Was Susan a third daughter who somehow made her way separately to the colony and perhaps became lost?

William was quite far from Yass, though on the right side of Sydney it seems, and perhaps in the 1820s he had not been so far from his fellow convict George Oakes. In 1824, to quote the NSW “Colonial Secretary’s Index” he was “On return of convicts maintained and mustered by John Oxley in 1824; listed as Carey (Fiche 3148; 4/1843B No.617 p.949)” which means that he may have been part of an early expedition up to what would become Brisbane. But in 1828, the year Oxley the famous pioneer died, he was a Government Servant working as a labourer for Mr John Coghill, in Kirkham, Cooke. At the time he was 40 years old. As I understand it, the Coghills had worked for Oxley and Kirkham had belonged to him.

He eventually became a free man for all intents and purposes within the colony, first collecting an exemption from government labour (the first one mentions district Bringelly, and the second is for the district of Cook)…

Surname

Firstname

Vessel

Year

TicketNo

Date

SRref

SRFiche

Remarks

CASEY

William

Prince Regent

1824

31/148

20/5/1831

4/4284, 4/4062

1004, 1006

with his wife and two daughters, free per "Forth"

CASEY

William

Prince Regent

1824

32/103

2/1/1832

4/4285, 4/4062

1005, 1006

with his wife, free per "Forth"; torn up on his receiving a ticket of leave (no.33/632)

Note the mention of a ticket of leave. There was also 33/678. In 1837 he is recorded as having been living still in the district of Cook. Soon after, came a conditional pardon…

Surname

FirstName

Alias

Vessel

Year

Pardon No

Pardon Type

Date of Pardon

Item

Reel

Remarks

Page

CASEY

William

-

Prince Regent

-

38/11309

CP

30 Oct 1838

[4/4481]

774

-

28

CASEY

William

-

Prince Regent

1824

39/328

CP

1 Nov 1838

[4/4437]

777

-

155

 

In 2008 I have finally been lucky enough to be contacted by a descendant of Mary Casey, the daughter of William and Johanna, named Tracey Jones. She informs me that Mary lived and died in Burrowa, an area where Susan also lived. She died there in 21st May 1888, and her death certificate confirms the that her parents were from Limerick, while a marriage application mentions her arrival on the Forth. Mary had 4 living sons and 1 living daughter when she died. Only one son has not been traced, and the others were all born in the Burrowa area, starting about 1840. She had children to at least 3 men during her life, William Nealon or Naylor, John Ure or Hure, and Stephen Woodcock.

This lead started to come to an end when we decided to take the bull by the horns and we arranged a mitochondrial DNA test, to compare direct maternal line descendants from a daughter of William Casey (Tracey’s family) and Susan Casey. The mismatch was very clear!