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Great effort, time and diligence has been exercised in compiling and transcribing this magnitude of materials. Despite this industriousness no guarantee can be expected or provided for the absolute accuracy and completeness of everything contained in Unfit for Publication—regardless of the author’s wish to be absolutely perfect.

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Names, initials, and aliases

  • At times varying names are used in cases, for example, in depositions, newspaper reports, judge’s notebooks, the police gazette, executive council minutes, and etc. In general the name(s) appearing in the NSW Police Gazette have been adopted as the name for the case. However, numerous aliases and spelling variations of names appear in manuscripts and are referred to as—also known as—aka. Person’s initials, in the original documents, are usually expressed, for example as: Mr. H. T. Brown. In this publication the punctuation has been omitted, and is described as Mr HT Brown.
  • Names in this publication are indexed and sorted alphabetically as written, and not as practised in the Australian telephone directory.

For example:

MacDonald, Alexander, labourer
Macguire, John, draper assistant
Maxwell, George, labourer, prisoner
McAlister, Lawrence Milton
McDonald, John, ship apprentice
Mead, John, labourer 

  • To facilitate the inclusion of aliases (or aka) all names—family and/or given names—found have been indexed separately. Where possible a trade or occupation has been included with the person’s name. There are occasions, however, where only an (alias) family name was found (particularly in the database) hence that single name has been indexed. Also the spelling of names used is that which was first found in the NSW Police Gazette.


Courts and punishment

  • Three levels of courts of justice appear in these documents:

a) Court of Criminal Jurisdiction. This was the predecessor of the NSW Supreme Court and also called Assizes.
b) Quarter Sessions now known as the District Court.
c) Police Courts and Bench of Magistrates are now know as Courts of Petty Sessions.

  • In many cases the punishment meted out took several forms, for example: transportation, whipping, imprisonment with hard labour in irons. In cases each form of punishment has been indexed separately.


Chronology, and etc

  • The chronology of cases tried are in date (year) order and alphabetical (family name) within year order. If two or more persons are named as offenders then the family name of the first— corresponding with the first family name in the NSW Police Gazette—offender is used to chronologise the case.
  • In most instances the order of folios as found in the original manuscripts within each case, has been maintained in the transcribed documents.
  •  The NSW Police Gazette was examined from its inception in 1862 to 1930. The resulting database was mostly compiled from details found in the Gazette. Various crime headings in the Gazette were examined and relevant data extracted for inclusion.


Additions, omissions

  • Only on very few occasions is the word aboriginal capitalised in the original manuscripts and hence it has been transcribed as found.
  • Similarly, chinese, china or chinaman are seldom capitalised in the original manuscripts.

  • The original documents often had left-hand marginal notes. These have largely been incorporated in the main body of the text by using footnotes, commencing with the abbreviation Mn.

  • Misspelled words or place names found in the original manuscripts are usually transcribed as found and are followed by [sic]. Repeatedly misspelled words in the same trial case are indicated only at their first occurrence by [sic]. Also incorrect details found in some documents, for example, this prisoner was charged as follows: ‘with intent to commit burglary [sic–buggery] at Maitland’; or ‘Owen [sic–Richard] Davis’; or ‘I was awoke by feel [sic–feeling] my shirt up’; and finally ‘deceased’s wife recognised all she [sic–the] clothes’.
  • Numerals or five tilde ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ are used in this publication to indicate separate folios in the original manuscripts.
  • Hyphens ----- are used in these documents to indicate where relevant text was omitted in the original manuscripts.
  • Ellipses ... are used where non-essential text has been omitted by the author from original manuscripts. 

These are always placed immediately adjacent to the left-hand margin on a separate line. At times ellipses were also found in original manuscripts and hence reproduced in these documents.

  • Text included inside square brackets [xxxx] appears in this publication. This text has been added, either for clarification or as additional useful information by the author, and was not present in the original manuscripts.
  • (?) Denotes an illegible word.

  • (xxxx ?) Denotes a word’s most likely meaning.

  • Struck through text found in original manuscripts has been reproduced as found.


Currency, measurements, and temperatures

  • Currency units found in the documents are mainly pounds, shillings and pence. Respectively expressed as £1 2s. 6d.; £1/2/6; or £1-2-6. Conversion to today’s currency would be $2.25 respectively. Similarly, although expressed somewhat differently £3-12-6 does represent $7.25 in today’s currency. There are also amounts expressed in shillings, for example, 34/- being the equivalent of $3.40 today. Finally, less frequently the letter L occurs which means a £.

Furthermore, 6/3 is six shillings and three pence—today’s equivalent being 63 cents. One sovereign (gold £ coin)—today’s equivalent $2.00. A guinea being £1-1s.—today’s equivalent of $2.10. A farthing is a quarter of a penny. A crown—five shillings—today’s equivalent $0.50.

  • Imperial measures are in the original manuscripts. The height of a person is usually expressed in feet and inches, for example: 5' 8". A person’s imperial weight is described in stones and pounds, for example: 9 stone and 5 lbs.



inch (in) = 25.4 mm.
foot (ft) (12 inches) = 30.5 cm.
yard (yd) (3 feet) = 0.914 m.
furlong (fur) = 201 m.
mile (1,760 yards) = 1.61 km.
1 int nautical mile (2025.4 yards) = 1.853km.



ounce (oz) = 28.3 g
pound (lb) (16 oz) = 454 g.
stone (14 lb) = 6.35 kg.
ton = 1.02 tonne.
hundredweight (cwt) (112 lb) = 50.82 kg.
100 points of rain equals 1 inch.
Rod—an imperial linear measure, of 51⁄2 yards or 161⁄2 feet, equals 5.0292 m.
One Acre = 4046.85 square meters