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The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers’ Advocate, Wed 12 Dec 1923 1


AN organisation in Sydney called the Feminist Club has passed a resolution urging that the jury system be altered to provide that every jury panel be comprised of an equal number of men and women. This Club, in conjunction with other female organizations, has decided to wait on the Minister for Justice, by deputation, to urge amendment of the Women’s Legal Status Act that will render women eligible to act as jurors upon the same conditions as men. No one will envy the Minister when confronted by a deputation of this character. He will see advantages in having mixed juries in some cases and disadvantages in others, but we fancy the latter will outweigh the former. Of course there are some women robust enough in body and mind to enable them to perform most of the duties that the sterner sex discharge, but they are few and far between. The average woman is not endowed by Nature to stand the physical and mental strain needed in many walks of life, and her attendance on a jury would be one of them. And, besides, the average woman would naturally shrink from the ordeal. It is questionable whether, in country districts, a sufficient number of women could be obtained to make up a mixed panel without the infliction of considerable hardship, with a possible disorganisation of home life. There are many other serious objections to the suggested change in the jury system that need not be mentioned here, but they will loom up before the minds of men who have an intimate acquaintance with the workings of our law courts. Women by no means suffer any injustice as the result of jury panels being composed wholly of males, and why there should be a movement to establish mixed juries is not at present clear to us. We may be enlightened when the deputation states its case to the Minister for Justice.

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The Lithgow Mercury, Fri 14 Dec 1923 2


    At the Parramatta Sessions on Wednesday, Joseph Edgar (43) was indicted before Judge Armstrong on two charges of an abominable nature at Lithgow. The jury returned a verdict of guilty on the first count, and the accused was sentenced to three years’ penal servitude in Grafton gaol. On the second count he pleaded guilty and received a similar sentence—the two to be concurrent.

    The jury was of opinion that after the expiration of the sentence the prisoner should be put in some place where the offence could not again be committed.

    His Honor said there was at present no legislation for this, but he hoped there would be in the near future.

    The arrest at Lithgow was due to exhaustive inquiries by Constables Sheridan and Boon.

    James Henry Newcombe (16) was charged with breaking and entering the residence of WJ Ryan, Cobar Paddock, and stealing about £5 in notes and silver and other articles. He pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to twelve months’ hard labor, sentence to be suspended under the First Offenders’ Act .

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The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers’ Advocate, Sat 15 Dec 1923 3


    “For next year, I have arranged an extra sitting of the Court at Parramatta, on account of the growing business”:—Judge Armstrong.

    Though at one time it seemed scarcely possible, the criminal list at the Parramatta Quarter Sessions was concluded on Wednesday night.

    On Wednesday morning, there were still eight cases to be tried. All day the work was carried on at high pressure. Dinner and tea adjournments were shortened. And the objective was attained!

    “These three days have been very strenuous,” said Judge Armstrong, in discharging the jury.

    “I want to refer,” continued the judge, “to a complaint made in a newspaper of standing, about the high pressure of business in this Court.

    “I must say this list of cases has been a very heavy one to dispose of in three days.

    “For next year, I have arranged an extra sitting of the Court at Parramatta, on account of the growing business.

    “I see no other way of satisfactorily handling the business at present, except by endeavouring to get through the list without calling unduly on the jury—without asking them to serve beyond what is a fairly moderate time.

    “I think the three days they are asked to serve is a heavy call on their time. I am very unwilling indeed to ask them to serve for a longer period, unless arrangements could be made for a second panel, the same as in Sydney.”

    The judge again referred to the increasing volume of business.

    “I think,” he concluded, “the course that has been pursued is the one that, for the present, we will have to adhere to.”

    His Honor referred to the matter again when opening the District Court on Friday morning. He repeated, in effect, what he had said before.

    “If,” added his Honor, “the business at Parramatta continues to increase in the way it has in the past, some measure will have to be taken in the was of summoning a second panel.”

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The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers’ Advocate, Wed 19 Dec 1923 4

Wednesday, December 12.
(Before Judge Armstrong.)


    Joseph Edgar, who conducted his own defence, was found guilty on a charge of indecently assaulting a boy, [Albert George Wilbertree Viles ], at Lithgow. To another charge of a similar nature, he pleaded guilty.

    He was sentenced to three years’ hard labor.

    The jury expressed the opinion that accused, after serving his sentence, should be kept under observation, in order to prevent a recurrence of these offences.

    His Honor said he would coney the recommendation to the proper authorities.

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Joseph Edgar, Gaol photo sheet 5

SRNSW: NRS2397, [3/6014], Parramatta photographic description book, 1917-1928, No. 1569, p. 87, R5138.

Gaol Photo Sheet - 
Transcribed Details

No. 1569

Date when Portrait was taken: 3-1-1924

Name: Joseph Edgar

Native place: Ireland

Year of birth: 1880

Arrived       Ship: Trefusis
in Colony }   Year: 1904

Trade or occupation
previous to conviction  } Engine Driver

Religion: R. C.

Education, degree of: R & W

Height: 5' 9"

Weight     On committal: 56
in lbs     } On discharge:

Colour of hair: Brown

Colour of eyes: Blue

Marks or special features: Bracelet on Right Arm. Crossed flags. Left forearm Scar left shin

(No. of previous Portrait ... ) 


Where and When




Bristol PC


Parramatta Q.S











Stealing bicycle (3 cases)

1) Indecent assault on a male person
2) Attempt to commit buggery


1) 2 months HL )
2) 2 months HL )
3) 2 months HL ) Consecutive

3 years PS on each charge
consecutive in Grafton Gaol

Prisoner admits serving a sentence of 6 months in Bristol Eng[land] in 1918. Particulars not yet to hand.


1     The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers’ Advocate (Parramatta), Wed 12 Dec 1923, p. 2.

2     The Lithgow Mercury, Fri 14 Dec 1923, p. 4. Emphasis added.

3     The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers’ Advocate (Parramatta), Sat 15 Dec 1923, p. 1.

4     The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers’ Advocate (Parramatta), Wed 19 Dec 1923, p. 4.

5     SRNSW: NRS2397, [3/6014], Parramatta photographic description book, 1917-1928, No. 1569, p. 87, R5138.