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1848, Charles Robinson - Unfit For Publication
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The documentation of our history has to me always been a very important aspect. Although victories or celebrations are seldom part of this history, it’s important that it is put on record.

The cases recorded verbatim here, cover a very wide spectrum of emotions ranging from sadness, humour, violence, to compassion and even love.

For gay historians, this material gives an interesting insight into the lives of what we might call our ‘tribal ancestors’, for not only is the legal process on full view, but the evidence presented in each case gives us a window into these people’s lives, and how they managed their desires in a hostile society: where they might meet, how they might interact, and how they saw themselves and their ‘condition’.

Foreword by
Gary Wotherspoon

Peter de Waal

In the Central Police Court, George Harrison, alias “Carrie Swain,” an effeminate youth, was charged with vagrancy.

From the evidence of Senior-constable Sawtell and Constable Brown, it appeared that the prisoner was in the habit of frequenting Hyde Park and College-street, painted, powered, and bedecked so as to represent a female.

In this state he perambulated the streets and parks after dark. When arrested, it was found that he was wearing stays. The prisoner was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment with hard labour.

Gaol Photo - "Said to be a Pouftah"

1889, George Harrison

1889, George Harrison


The position of Darlinghurst Gaol is well known, and the prison forms a conspicuous object to persons travelling along the eastern tramline near where Botany-street branches off from Oxford-street. It covers an area of about 4¾ acres, and is situated on about the highest point of a ridge having between it and Oxford-street the Darlinghurst Courthouse, with the large plot of tree-planted land in front.

Darlinghurst gaol and courthouse, in foreground, complex, c. 1930.

"I looked over the rocks. I saw the two prisoners now before the court committing an unnatural crime. The prisoner Weston was in a stooping position with his head down and trousers down, and the prisoner Blackwell was behind him with his trousers down; and both in the act of copulation."

Blackwell and Weston were both sentenced in 1845 to twelve months hard labour in Darlinghurst Gaol.

The Sydney Morning Herald, Mon 8 Mar 1886

Mr George Newbolt, Assistant Superintendent on Cockatoo Island.

Darlinghurst gaol and courthouse, in foreground, complex, c. 1930.

He took me into his wife’s bedroom.
He brought into the room a bottle of Vaseline.

He said “I can easily do it with a little Vaseline.”

I said I didn’t believe him that kind of thing.
I said “What good will it do me?”

Vaseline Advert

1899, Simeon Alexander Moss

1899, Simeon Moss

Charge of Indecent Assault.

Simeon Alexander Moss was charged with having committed an indecent assault on Stanley Lake at Bowral on 20th July, 1899.

‘We are glad to be able this week to present to our readers an illustration of the new court house at Yass, now in course of erection, the ceremony of laying the foundation-stone of which, on this 20th of July last, by the Honourable the Colonial Secretary, in the presence of the Premier, Minister of Works, Attorney-General, &c, was duly recorded in our columns. The design has been prepared by the Colonial Architect, and is on a scale commensurate with the requirements of the district. The style chosen is classic of the Roman Doric order. Advantage has been taken of the site to give effect to the design by its approach, which is by a very broad and imposing flight of steps.’

The April sitting of the Yass Circuit Court opened before his Honor Mr Justice Faucett on Wednesday last. Mr Plunkett acted as Judge’s Associate and Clerk of Arraigns, Mr Mann, prosecuted on behalf of the Crown, while Mr Ould represented the Crown Solicitor. The other legal gentlemen present were Mr Colonna Close, barrister-at-law, and Mr EA Iceton, solicitor. Mr T Colls JP represented the Sheriff.

1885, Henry Smith was found guilty of having committed bestiality and sentenced to three years’ hard labour in Yass gaol.

Australian Town and Country Journal, Sat 31 Aug 1878

The Yass Courier, Fri 17 Apr 1885

IN writing this pamphlet my sole desire is to bring before the public the present injudicious system of treating juvenile delinquents, and those unfortunate children whose only crime is their poverty.

That a lad should be imprisoned simply because he is poor, is both brutal and unwise; but that he should he indiscriminately herded with young criminals is the height of folly and injustice.

That it is so, is undeniable.

On 25 January, 1867 the Colonial Secretary purchased the wooden sailing ship the “Vernon” and at a cost of more than eight and a half thousand pounds it was fitted up as an Industrial School. The ship, moored in Sydney Harbour between the Government Domain and Garden Island was declared a Public Industrial School on 6 May, 1867.

Industrial Schoolship - Vernon


The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Wed 13 Sep 1848 1


    This court was opened on Monday morning, at ten o’clock, before his Honor Mr Justice Dickinson, by her Majesty’s proclamation against vice and immorality being read.

    The barristers present were the Attorney General; W Purefoy, Esq, and J Dowling, Esq, FW Perry, Esq, acted as Clerk of Arraigns, and C Prout, Esq, Deputy Sheriff, attended on behalf of the Sheriff.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Sat 16 Sep 1848 2

(Before his Honor Mr Justice Dickinson.)
Wednesday, September 13, 1848.    


    Charles Robinson was indicted for having committed an unnatural crime, [on a bitch], at Armidale, on the 6th July, 1848.

    The evidence in this case is unfit for publication.

    The jury returned a verdict of guilty, and sentence of death was recorded against the prisoner.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

The Australian, Thu 21 Sep 1848 3


The Criminal Sessions commenced at Maitland on Monday the 11th instant, before His Honor Mr Justice Dickinson and a common Jury.




Charles Robinson was found guilty of having committed an unnatural offence at Armidale and sentence to death was recorded against him.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer, Sat 9 Dec 1848 4


    Darby an Aboriginal.—The sentence of death recorded passed on his man by his Honor Mr Justice Dickinson at the last Criminal Court held at Maitland, on the 13th September, when he was convicted of rape under circumstances of peculiar aggravation, has been commuted by the executive to fifteen years labour on the roads or other public works. And a similar sentence passed at the same Circuit Court, on Charles Robinson, for an unnatural crime, has also been commuted to twelve years labour on the roads or public works.

1  The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Wed 13 Sep 1848, p. 4.

2  The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Sat 16 Sep 1848, p. 4.

3  The Australian, Thu 21 Sep 1848, p. 3.

4  Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer, Sat 9 Dec 1848 p. 2. Emphasis added.