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1898, Francis Doyle - Unfit For Publication
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The Age, Fri 18 Nov 1898 1


Numurkah, Thursday.

    Francis Doyle, who was arrested on a charge of criminally assaulting a boy at Corowa, is the man described in the “Police Gazette,” but was not the offender, according to the statement of the prosecutor, who came from Corowa and failed to identify Doyle.

    The man is a well-known farm hand round here, and he felt his position very keenly.

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The Cowra Free Press, Fri 18 Nov 1898 2


    The condemned man Archer is to bo executed on Monday morning at the Melbourne gaol.

     A man named Francis Doyle was arrested on Sunday last at Numurkah on a charge of having criminally assaulted a boy st Corowa. He was brought before the Numurkah court on Monday, and remanded till Wednesday for identification, when, however, he proved to be the wrong man.

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Numurkah Leader, Fri 18 Nov 1898 3


Numurkah courthouse, Melville Street, n.d. Image: John T Collins, Vic State Library collection. Reproduction: Peter de Waal
Numurkah courthouse, Melville Street, n.d. Image: John T Collins,
Vic State Library collection. Reproduction: Peter de Waal

    On Monday last at the Numurkah Police Court, before Mr JC Trengrove, JP, a young man named Francis Doyle was charged with criminally assaulting a boy named George Gardiner, at Corowa, NSW, on October 19th. Doyle was arrested at Wunghnu on Sunday by Constable Adams, who applied for a remand, to which the accused said—“I can’t very well object, but could I be let out on my own recognisance? The case is a fearful one, and I am sure, a terrible mistake has been made somewhere.” Bail in such a case was refused, defendant saying he only had a pound or two, and the prisoner was remanded until Wednesday. but before that day the “terrible mistake” was discovered to be one of mistaken identity and Doyle was set at liberty on Tuesday morning. The assault in question is alleged to have been of a disgusting nature, and committed by an unknown man, who, however, was identifiable.

    A warrant for the arrest of such a man was issued, but subsequently the New South Wales police considered that a Francis Doyle was the culprit. This was information contained in the Police Gazette as Senior-constable Hore said in his evidence on Monday, and it was further stated that the man Doyle with two other swagmen, believed to be his brothers, had gone from Corowa about the time of the offence being committed, and it was thought they had crossed into Victoria.

    The police in Numurkah were on the watch, and on Saturday last Constable Adams discovered that three swagmen named Doyle had passed through the town. On Sunday he went to Wunghnu to enquire, and overtaking the men he found, in answer to his questions, that they were named Doyle and that one was called Francis. Being the person indicate in the Police Gazette. Constable Adams arrested him, as stated above, and placed him in the Numurkah lockup, the prisoner all the while strongly protesting his innocence, his appeal for bail, in view of the apparent evidence against him, being refused.

    A groom named Henry Griffin, of Corowa, arrived in Numurkah on Monday night, to identify the alleged criminal, and on Tuesday morning Griffin was confronted with a number of swag men but failed to pick out the offender, and when he saw Doyle he at once said that he was not the man wanted. Therefore, on being taken before Mr J Callendar, junior, JP, on Tuesday at the police court Doyle was at once discharged. This case seems a very curious one, with some remarkable coincidences, for the three brothers Doyle were in Corowa about the 19th October, when the offence is supposed to have been committed, and their leaving the place in company seems an altogether inequate reason for connecting, in the Police Gazette, Francis Doyle with the felony. Doyle has a very substantial grievance but no apparent redress therefor.

    With his brothers he was travelling in search of work, was charged with a horrible offence which in New South Wales, involves capital punishment, and was deprived of his liberty for several days.

    Francis Doyle is a fine specimen of the best kind of the Australian working man, and is well known in the Goulburn Valley as a steady, honorable young fellow, well liked by those who know him. It certainly seems that some explanation should be forthcoming from those in authority who are responsible for the disgraceful blunder of connecting in the Police Gazette a respectable, hard working young man with the commission of such an abominable charge as the one in question, at the same time Constable Adams is to be congratulated on his promptitude and vigilance in the case.

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Numurkah Leader, Fri 25 Nov 1898 4

(By Sazerac).

“It is wise to for entertainment in the
things of daily life.”—Bhagavata Gita.


    Praise for worthy acts is an obligation which society owes to the performer thereof. However, that obligation is all too seldom recognised, for when a man unselfishly and at considerable sacrifice of personal comfort, devotes himself to the consolation of the afflicted, he often comes in for depreciatory comment. Small-minded people think that when a man receives deserved eulogium in the press for worthy deeds, he has been seeking notoriety, and they are not chary of saying so, especially if they happen to know the man. These remarks are made by me in view of the fact that I have heard in Numurkah persons who ought to know better speaking in disparaging terms of the self sacrifice of the Rev Robert Elliott in ministering to Alfred Archer in his last days on earth. A prophet has no honor in his own country, is an ancient saving, but the very small section of people who are continually seeking for mean motives in the actions of their fellow men, require in this instance to be plainly told that Mr Elliott’s altruism is acknowledged and reverenced by lovers of humanity and charity. The man with whom Mr Elliott walked to the gate of eternity, must surely have been sincere when he penned his last message to his earthly comforter, and asked God whom he was so soon to meet to bless his friend.

    The other day I came across a new phrase, and I don’t know whether it belongs to the Australian slanguage, or where it comes from. In a debt case in Numurkah police court, the plaintiff, in describing the terms on which he did certain grubbing work, said that part of those terms were—“eat myself.” Now, how could a man eat himself ? I have seen cannibals of the ordinary sort in the Solornons and New Hebrides, but I never heard that any of them were capable of performing that operation. Snakes have been said by romancers of the Rougemont brand to put their tails in their mouths and swallow themselves, but that has to be seen to be believed. The phrase in the case alluded to above is evidently a synonym for a man finding his own rations, grub or tucker, and as the plaintiff was doing grubbing work perhaps that fact explains the esoteric meaning of “eat myself.”

    The local guardians of the peace have had lively times of late, with one thing and another. The other night the editor of this paper had a lively time, too. A picker up of unconsidered trifles, who had been successful in getting some loot in two hotels, evidently considered a newspaper office would pan out well by prospecting boldly. That chap must have been more or less of an amateur, for one of the last places where good portable blunder is to be found is a country newspaper office. He calmly tried to appropriate the editor’s coat, but the latter was too quick for him. There was a breezy minute when the editor, who is by no means a crack pugilist, but a man of peace, fired out the bold intruder on his ear. He might have gone scot free if the redoubtable [Constable] Adams had not craned his neck round the doorway. Perhaps Adams thought the office not an unlikely place for suspicious characters—some do appear occasionally. At all events the visit of Constable Adams proved unlucky for the robber of other people’s goods, who in a very short space of time was apprehended and subsequently properly dealt with. The moral of this incident is—when on plunder bent never visit an editor’s sanctum, for he is also a guardian of the peace, and in this case proved a vigilant one.

    That affair of Francis Doyle, arrested and charged with a terrible offence at Corowa, seems to me unusually hard. The law, everybody knows, is defective in many ways, but in none is its imperfection more glaring and grievous to sufferers as in such a case as that of Francis Doyle. There are many people who will consider that, from the mere fact of a person being arrested and charged with an offence against the law, though afterwards proved completely innocent, “there must be something in it.” Doyle suffers in reputation and in pocket from the aspersion on his character which the incident has caused, and should, in all justice, be recompensed. But, unhappily, the law makes no regular provision for such cases. There are, of course, many instances on record of serious individual injury committed by officers of the law upon innocent persons, who in an irregular, roundabout fashion, have obtained some monetary redress from the authorties. If there does exist any means, whether strictly conformable to regulations or not, whereby Francis Doyle may obtain some compensation for the injury and disgrace brought upon him by the blundering of the law’s myrmidons, I consider he is as richly deserving of such redress as man ever was, and I hope he may get it.


1     The Age, (Melbourne, Vic), Fri 18 Nov 1898, p. 6.

2     The Cowra Free Press, (NSW), Fri 18 Nov 1898, p. 3. Emphasis added.

3     Numurkah Leader, (Vic), Fri 18 Nov 1898, p. 7.

4     Numurkah Leader, (Vic), Fri 25 Nov 1898, p. 8. Emphasis added.