Gregson v Allen


The following newspaper reports detail a trial between Thomas George Gregson and John Allen which garnered much excitement at the time. As background, according to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Gregson -

…was given 2500 acres (1012 ha) at Jericho; here he built a home and named it Northumbria. Later, on an additional grant of 1000 acres (405 ha) at East Risdon, he built a second home and named it Restdown. It became the town house where, with his wife and family, he entertained lavishly and became well known and popular. Gradually his public and social activities increased so much that he sold Northumbria and concentrated on the Risdon property. He was interested in horse-racing and hunting, imported a pack of hounds from England for the local hunt club and helped to organize in 1827 the first race meeting in the colony.

In 1824 Gregson, one of the foremost protagonists for free settlers' liberties, had drawn up the petition for the separation of Van Diemen's Land from the administration of New South Wales. Successful, separation brought some advantages, but put the lieutenant-governor's power beyond control. When Colonel (Sir) George Arthur determined to maintain the island as a prison and to subordinate the settlers' interests to this end Gregson opposed him at every turn. He protested at the usury laws of 1829, delimiting interest rates; he objected to the public works programme and to Arthur's arbitrary power to ruin the settler by resuming his land and withholding convict labour. He took a leading part in the movement for trial by jury and, to increase public opposition, supported the anti-government newspaper Colonial Times, until, under the Press Licensing Act of 1827, the lieutenant-governor withdrew its licence. With others, Gregson organized a protest meeting, and petitioned the secretary of state who disallowed the Act. With typical egotism, Gregson claimed the success as his own, and with equally characteristic unconcern, refused the 500 acres (202 ha) of land some colonists wanted to give him. In July 1832 he launched his own newspaper, the Colonist, financed jointly with George Meredith, to be 'The Journal of the People'. Publishing violent personal abuse against governor and officials, he soon had to face libel charges and meet an £80 fine. It was paid by public subscription.

In September 1835 Gregson organized a political association which petitioned the Colonial Office for a legislative council of elected members instead of government nominees. When no answer came a petition was sent to the King setting out the colony's grievances. This brought a reply from the secretary of state that the petitioners had exaggerated their wrongs. Gregson then realized that no progress could be made while Arthur remained, so he sent to London a series of accusations against the governor. In 1836 Arthur was recalled, but his officers remained, and Gregson fought a pistol duel with Henry Jellicoe, one of Arthur's supporters, and horsewhipped the governor's nephew, Henry Arthur, collector of customs. Jellicoe was severely wounded and taken to hospital, and Henry Arthur filed a criminal prosecution against Gregson for assault. Trial by jury was refused, and he was sentenced to three months imprisonment and fined £200. A petition signed by 1400 people asked for commutation of the sentence. The new lieutenant-governor, Sir John Franklin, received the petition and remitted the remainder of the sentence 'as an act of grace calculated to allay public feeling'.1

That Gregson was full of a sense of his own righteousness is evident here, and the case is an early example of the man's litigious nature, but the following exposition is not an attempt to learn more about Thomas Gregson, and it doesn't rate a mention in the lengthy thesis about Gregson by Robert Brain.2 The case was initially recorded on the Macquarie Law site, and was expanded here in an attempt to determine more about the origins of John Allen, and how he might have arrived in the colony of Van Diemen’s Land.3

The substance of the case is that Gregson charges Allen with stealing his horse, while Allen maintains he claimed the horse on the belief it was his property. Thomas Rowlands, Allen’s attorney, bases his defence on his client’s character, and on the fact that Allen never attempts to change the appearance of the horse, and so does not act in the manner of someone who stole the contentious property. The action proved successful, for while the jury decides it is Gregson’s horse, Allen is acquitted of stealing the animal. A further irony is that much of the content to follow was published in the newspaper Gregson sought to champion, The Colonial Times.

The Hobart Town Courier Friday 22 December 1837

Saturday, 16th December.

William Davis, was sentenced to one month on the treadwheel, for having been found in Mr. Wilson's garden with apples in his pocket.

Mary Cobett, a ticket-of-leave woman, one month to the House of Correction, for being drunk.

John Carter was fully committed for embezzling £4 of his master's money.

William Clapperton, cook to Alfred Stephen, Esq., was remanded on a charge of having embezzled various sums of money received by him to pay the several tradesmen.

John Allen, on a charge of horse stealing made by Mr. Gregson - remanded.

Monday, 18th December.

Several drunkards fined 5s. each, and several assigned servants dealt with in a summary manner.

Tuesday, 19th December.

The whole of the day was nearly occupied in examining into the case of John Allen, charged by Thomas George Gregson, Esq. with horse stealing. This case excited unusual interest, and was not disposed of until after seven o'clock. The number of witnesses examined was very great, and the whole affair altogether appeared most extraordinary and mysterious. We shall therefore report it more fully than we generally do cases of this description.

Mr. Gregson deposed that some days since he stood with Mr. Rawling in the front of Mr. Kemp's premises in Macquarie-street, when he saw Allan riding on a horse which Mr. Gregson knew belonged to him. It was thorough bred, and was called Jacky Jack (sic).

John Ogle Gage, Esq. deposed, that about seven months since he observed the same horse coming up to his gate; he caught him by the fore hair, and put him into his paddock; with his other horses. No owner for it appeared during two months, when he advertised the horse in the newspapers. Shortly after Allen came to him saying that he believed he had a horse of his in his possession, as it answered the description given in the newspaper. Mr Gage questioned him in a particular manner, and then showed him the horse. Allan said he was almost sure the horse was his, but as he had not seen him since he was five months old, he would not venture to remove him till he should see Mr. Jarvis, who had permitted him to run amongst his horses in the paddock. Some days after, when Mr. Gage was from home, Allen and Jarvis came and took the horse away.

Mr Rawling deposed that when Mr. Gregson and himself were standing a few days since in front of Mr. Kemp's house, Mr. Gregson thought he recognised the horse, and asked Rawling to inquire of Allen if he would sell it. Allen said yes! and fixed the price at £85. He was asked of whom he had bought the horse and replied, that he had reared it himself, and that it was gotten, by a Sydney horse. Mr. Rawlings upon a question being asked by Mr. Rowlands for the defence said, that the price fixed by Allen was fair and full the value of the horse. The prisoner said to Mr. Rawling in the street that he could come and look at the horse at any time he might please.

Edward Abbott, Esquire, deposed as to the identity of the horse, and believed him to be Mr Gregson's property.

George Davis deposed that he had sometime before had some discourse with Jarvis about the horse, and said he was much like a racer. This man was strongly cross-examined by Mr. Rowlands. He had been a partner of Allen's, had brought him to the Police-office several times, had spoken to District Constables Wright and Watkins, wishing them to lay information against Allen, for feloniously cutting timber, had written concerning it to the Chief Police Magistrate. Jarvis in whose possession the horse had been for upwards of two years, said that the horse had about 7 or 8 months since, got away from his paddock, he believed the horse now in the Police Yard, to be the same, though somewhat different in appearance, did not look so rough as before, his tail was then long. Had any one brought him to his place, he would have paid the reward offered on Allen's account.

Woolding a veterinary surgeon deposed, that about two-years since, he was called upon by Jarvis to operate on several colts, about 12 months old, and he believed, the horse in the Police yard to be the same, but could not swear positively.

Mr. William Williams the next neighbour to Jarvis on the New Norfolk Road, deposed that the horse had run amongst his horses in the paddock. He believed that the horse in the Police-office yard was the same. Had he seen it anywhere else, he should have claimed it as Allen's.

William Davis deposed, that the horse in the yard, had got into his paddock, and he thought it belonged to Mr. Austin. He then went to acquaint Mr. Austin with it, when the latter told him that Fox the boatman had informed him, that he had seen a horse swimming cross the river, from Stony Ferry, and land about Davis's place. The horse remained with the witness about a fortnight, and then got away when he opened his gate to let out other horses. He afterwards saw him amongst Mr. Gage's horses. Jarvis and Allen then took him away.

John Fox deposed that he saw a horse at the time mentioned, swim across the river, and land about Davis's place.

The evidence was of a conflicting character, but the sitting magistrate Mr. Champ, could elicit nothing to fix the prisoner with a felonious intention and discharged him.4

The Colonial Times Tuesday 2 January 1838

J. Allen appeared to the charge of having feloniously stolen and carried away one blood bay cold, the property of T. G. Gregson, Esq. In our last paper, we gave the evidence produced at the Police-office, Hobart Town when a similar charge was preferred, and after a patient hearing was dismissed by the Sitting Magistrate. On the present occasion, Mr. Allen appeared by virtue of a warrant, issued by T. A. Lascelles, Esq., J, P. As the case excites a good deal of interest, we give the following report of the evidence produced on Friday last, at Richmond:

T. G. Gregson, Esq. sworn. - I have seen the horse taken under Mr. Lascelles warrant; he has been in my stables since the 26th inst. under my charge since Tuesday morning. I swear positively he is my property, and the same horse I lost. I have seen the horse now produced, it is my property. I value him at 100 guineas. I know him by his general appearance, but partly by a remarkable star on his forehead, he has besides the following marks - an injury on the off fore leg, termed a "speedy cut"; he has been bled in a particular manner, not having been pinned; I put a piece of brown paper over the orifice, and tied his head up; there are two or three white saddle marks along the ridge of his back; there was also an injury on the hook, that was occasioned by his getting his legs ____ in some rails, which caused my bleeding him; the age is three years old-off-an-early 3 year old; he was a horse of quiet habits, and might be easily caught by anyone in the bush. The horse is so quiet that it is impossible any person could have taken him for an unbroken horse, and his appearance is such, that any person must at one perceive he was a broken-in horse; the tail at the time he left me, when I missed him, was square, close up to the dock, and could not have grown more than four or five inches, during the time he was absent. Mr. Rawling spoke to Allen in my presence and hearing-this was eight or ten days, as near as I can recollect, previous to my finding the horse in the possession of Hedger. Rawlings called to Allen to stop, when we were together, and said; "Allen, what horse is that you've got," or "that's a nice horse you've got," or words to that effect. Allen said, "yes, he's a very nice colt, he's out of a one eyed mare of mine; I don't know what horse he's got by - he's got by some horse in the bush." He did not at that time explain under what circumstances he had found the horse. Some few observations passed between Rawlings and Allen, and he then went away with the horse. When I first saw Allen, I was going down the street, and met Mr. Rawlings, to whom I said, "why, there goes my horse, Jagha Jagha;" he replied, "well I'll be d___d if I did not think so the other day, when I saw the horse. I know the man - it's Allen; I'll stop him, he's a very honest man, and will give you every explanation about the horse." I did nothing more in the case, for eight or ten days, till I saw the horse in Hedger's possession-except making some enquiries with regard to Allen; the result of those enquiries induced me not to place that reliance in character which Mr. Rawling had given Allen. I learned subsequently, from several persons, that Allen was well acquainted with horses, and that few men in the island had so many pass through his hands, and was as good a judge of horses as any man in the Colony.

Cross-examined. - Thursday fortnight last, I made a charge against Allen for stealing the same horse which I now charge him with, before Mr. Champ at his house; the case was heard by Mr. Champ about a week after; I was present at nearly the whole of the proceedings, and I more than once told Mr. Champ that he was acting illegally and contrary to law. I do not know, of my own personal knowledge, but have been informed that Allen was discharged on that charge; I believed him to be at large; I have applied for a warrant. I did not hear Rawlings say anything about Allen selling the horse but Allen said, "I'll sell you the horse for £30 or £35," or words to that effect. Rawlings did not say that was not good enough for your horse by £50, or anything to that effect; Allen did not offer to let me have a trial of it. The impression on my mind at this moment is, that he did not offer the horse for trial to Rawlings; since the proceedings terminated at the Police office. I have been served with a summons to appear in the Supreme Court at the suit of Allen in an action of trover on the case; such summons being served since the dismissal of the case in Hobart Town. Allen made no hesitation in stopping when called by Rawlings, I did not give the same description of the horse on the former investigation as I have now done; 1 have been more minute on this occasion than I was then.

John Ogle Gage, sworn. - I am a J. P.; I have seen the horse now outside the Court house. In the month of June last, to the best of my recollection, he came to the outside of the paddock, at the Old Beach, where my horses were; I went down to him and caught him by the forelock; let him go, he jumped the fence, and joined my horses, where he remained, I should think, from four to five months; I advertised him after he had been there for about six weeks. I advertised him as dark-bay horse, with a star on the forehead, and a tail like a racer; he was perfectly quiet and tractable - no-one could mistake him for an unbroken horse; saddle marks on his back were then as they are now. His tail was longer and more bushy, and much longer than it is now; when it went away it was bushy and curly. My place is about four or five miles from where Mr. Gregson's horses run. None of Mr. Gregson's horses have joined mine within the last twelve-months.

Allen called upon me some two or three months ago; on a Sunday, and asked me whether I had not a strange horse in the paddock, as he had lost one, and he had been told I had one. He described the horse which he had lost as a cart colt, long head, and ____ made horse. I told him the horse I had got did not answer the description at all; I thought it was a thoroughbred horse, and his tail was square, but that I would show it him. We went up to the paddock, and I showed Allen the horse; he said it was very like his; and ____ the marks, white star in the forehead, black points, and same colour. I did not observe the speedy cut on the horse while in my possession. Allen said he would not take the hose on his own judgement, but would go to New Norfolk, and bring the person where the horse had been running, and where the horse had been lost from. He left for the purpose of going there, as he said. Allen said he had not seen his hose since it was five months old. Before I pointed out the horse, Allen pointed to the horse, and said "that's the horse." Allen then went away; he took away the horse the following day. Before he went, I told him if the horse was his property he might take it. Two days after I was told he had taken it during my absence. I have known Allen this ten or eleven years, and always considered him well acquainted with horses. I always had a very good opinion of him. Not knowing the breed of the horse, I should not have hesitated to give £45 or £50 for him. He said the colt he lost was got by a cart horse-a Sydney. I think if a horse had attempted to cross the Derwent by my place, be must have been taken down by the tide. I should think it most improbable that any horse which had been foaled on the west side of the Derwent should swim over to the Opposite side, but certainly not in any way in the direction of my paddock Or Davis's.

Wm. Kearney sworn. - I have seen the horse outside the Court-house; I know him perfectly well from his general appearance; his name is Jagha Jagha. I consider him a very remarkable horse; he ran for the Trial Stakes at the last New Town Races as the property of Mr. Gregson. I recognised him last Wednesday fortnight, when I saw him in Hobart Town; Hedger was then riding him. I said to Mr. J. Lord, "there comes Jagha Jagha, Mr. Gregson's horse that was lost;" I should consider him worth about £50; I consider him a thorough-bred horse and not got by a cart horse. Shortly after, I told Allen and Hedger the horse was Mr. Gregson's; Allen said I probably might be mistaken; Allen asked me if I would ride the horse; he was a heavy brute; he did not make any attempt to conceal his having the horse, but said it was his property. His tail is cut race-horse fashion; I remarked to Mr J. Lord as he went by, that there was the Peter Fin breed-the peculiar curl. Allen asked me to go to the farrier to see if the horse had ever been shod before. I think that if a colt bred on the Hobart Town side of the Derwent was placed in a yard by the side of the water, that he would starve before he would swim across. The horse at the Police-office door ran against Van Tramp for the Peter Fin Stakes on the 3rd day of the New Town Races. I do not believe any person acquainted with horses could have mistaken that horse for a cart colt.

Cross-examined. - The conversation between me and Allen took place about the time the proceedings were going on at the Police office. I think Allen and Hedger told me that they were going to Court about the horse which Mr. Gregson claimed as Jagha Jagha.

John Lord, sworn. - I have seen the horse at the Police-office, and I believe it to be Jagha Jagha, but will not swear positively to it; I think it Mr. Gregsons, from the general appearance, the peculiar manner in which he carries his head.

George Davis, sworn. - I reside in Hobart Town; I heard Allen say he had lost a horse; he told me what sort of a horse he had lost; I and Allen are on bad terms - not so very bad. He told me he had lost his three year old colt, it wast of the cart breed; he told me that about six or seven months ago; I've seen the horse in the yard - I saw that horse in the possession of Allen; it was in the early part of November when I first saw him; Allen asked me what I thought of the horse? I stepped up to the horse, and measured his height; I said it was a very nice horse, and it was more like a racer than a cart horse? I asked him how the horse's tail got cut - he said it was cut by the road party men; where the horse was running. He said he had no trouble with the horse the first time he mounted it - that it was already broke in to his hands. On a former occasion he said, he would know his horse, if he only saw his head amongst a thousand. He told he found the horse at Mr. Gage's.

Cross-examined. - There were several of my men present at the conversation, when I measured the horse on the Government Lime Kilns at Hobart Town; I cannot say how far off but they were within hearing. I positively swear that Allen told me the road-party men had squared the tail in the manner it then was, and all the other horses in the same neighbourhood for the purpose of making fishing-lines. I was examined at the Police Office, Hobart Town, upon the same charge against Allen for stealing the horse; I gave as near as near as possible the same account at Hobart Town without exaggeration, but Mr. Gregson asked me no questions, a little more has been added to it now. I volunteered my evidence on that occasion; the reason was, I thought justice ought take place on both sides; I have caused Allen to be once apprehended ; I think on the 3_ November last – it was for threatening my life, and to pull down the house we lived in. I have not recently applied to any constable or constables to cause Allen to be apprehended on a charge or charges of felony. My reason for my last action is, that Constable Watkins told me that Allen, and three of his men, with timber carriage and dray, were on the government land, taking away government timber. I informed District Constable Wright what Watkins had told me, and left the case in his hands, and nothing else ever passed between us. I don’t recollect that Allen ever told me that the horse swam across the Derwent.

Upon the closing of the case, on the part of the prosecution, two of the Magistrates were for immediately committing Allen to take his trial for horse-stealing, to which Allen's Attorney strongly objected, stating, that he could produce such evidence, as would clearly move there could be no felonious intent in Allen taking the horse, even admitting, for the sake of argument, that the horse was Mr. Gregson's. Messrs Breton and Hector were decidedly of opinion, that the defendant was entitled to call any witnesses he thought proper; and, as he had been arrested on Wednesday, and although he had applied for summonses for his witnesses, could not obtain them, he was entitled to time. The other Magistrates strongly objected to his calling witnesses, intimating that he might produce his witnesses in the Supreme Court - they ultimately yielded, and Saturday next was fixed for the final hearing. We shall endeavour to procure a faithful report of the proceedings next Saturday, which we shall lay before our readers.5

The Colonial Times Tuesday 30 January 1838


Before his Honor the Chief Justice, and the following Military Jury:

Captain Pedder, Paymaster, P. Jean D.A.C.G. Carr, Dr. Pilkington, Assistant Surgeon, Smith, Captain McKay, Quartermaster Fairgreave.

John Allen was charged with feloniously stealing a horse, valued £100, in October last, the property of T. G. Gregson, Esq.

T. G. Gregson Esq. examined. - I live at Risdon; I have seen a horse outside the Court this morning; I have known it 15 or16 months; when I first knew it, it was in the possession of Mr. Edward Abbot – I purchased it from Mr. Abbott, for the purpose of running at the last New Town races, which were last March, and he ran at them. After the races, I brought him to Risdon, and rode his for about a month, and then turned him into the bush on my own land, I had frequently seen him after he was turned out, until the latter end of May; after then; I lost sight of him for several months, and caused search to be made for him, but he could not be found where he was turned out. I next saw him in the beginning of December in Collins-street, opposite Mr. Melville's printing office, in the possession of the prisoner; he was riding behind. Mr. Rawling called to Allen at my suggestion-I told Mr Rawling the reason; I said, “that is my horse, Jagha Jagha.” Allen stopped; I had no conversation with him then. Mr. Rawling put a question to him - he said, “Allen that is a nice colt you have got." Allen replied, “yes, he is a very nice colt," and said it was out of a one-eyed mare of his, but he did not know what horse it was got by, but that it was at cha___ horse in the bush. His manner at the time struck me as rather remarkable; I think Allen said to Mr. Rawling, "I will sell you the horse." At this time the horse had every appearance of having been broke in; I saw no more of him on that day-he rode off; I next saw the horse about 8 or 9 days afterwards in Macquarie-street; I came to town on that day to have Allen apprehended; I saw a horse in Macquarie-street in the possession of Mr. Hedger; It was the same horse that I had seen in the possession of Allen. Upon that occasion I took possession of the horse; that is the same horse the Jury have looked at outside the Court to-day. The horse has the character of a racer ; his colour was of a brown or bay. Before I lost him, he had two or three white saddle marks on his back; he had an injury on his left hock, and a mark on his right off thigh, of a peculiar, description. The orifice also where he had been bled was very large; I did not pin it up as usual, but put a piece of brown paper over it. Mr. Wilson suggested to me not to pin it; it’s tail also was square docked-it was about six weeks before I lost it. The horse was remarkably quiet. When in training, he had a cut on his left hock that I observed also before I lost him. When I saw him in Allen's possession, I perceived the cut. I did not observe the mark Where he had been bled at either time when with Allen or Hedger; the tail had a little off when I saw him with the prisoner. I examined him more minutely when I found him with Hedger, but not so carefully, for I knew the horse. I have examined him since more carefully; there is the mark in the hock ; the saddle and roller marks on the side occasioned by the buckles, and the hair of the tail has the same remarkable appearance. All those marks are there and are now to be seen. I have been accustomed to horses about thirty-five years; I consider myself a good judge of horses. At the time I saw him with Allen he was quite as steady as an old horse.

Cross-examined by Mr. Rowlands. - I have caused the horse to be advertised-that is the advertisement; I requested Mr. Abbott to advertise him; that is Mr. Abbott's description; I told him the horse had been stolen. Hugh Dunn, my overseer, I sent to enquire at the pound; Harry, who has charge of my horses, I sent repeatedly; I think Allen said to Mr Rawling, you shall have the horse for £30; I value the horse at £100; I gave sixty guineas for him; I have no recollection of Allen saying where the horse could be seen; I do not remember any further conversation,-I was engaged examining the horse; I have had the prisoner at the police-office, on two different occasions, on this charge. I do not know whether I stated, on those occasions that I came to town on purpose to have Allen apprehended; the horse, since Christmas Day, has been at Risdon; his appearance now is better than when I received him from Hedger; he is not looking so well as I should have expected, since he has been in my custody; I have not mentioned the buckle marks at the police office; I charged the prisoner before Mr. Champ, at the police-office, on the 14th December-the case was dismissed, but not in my presence. I made a second charge before Mr. Lascelles, at Kangaroo Point; I had no conversation with Mr. Lascelles' at any hour, at all prejudicial to the prisoner: the charge was investigated at the police-office, at Richmond; After the case was dismissed at Hobart Town, I received a summons from Allan signed by Mr. Rowlands, as attorney for him, threatening an action against me - this was before I commenced the second proceedings; I know a person named Smith, who resides at the Old Beach ; he takes in horses to pasture; I asked him in his house, after the first examination, if he had any horses of Allen's running there; did not tell Smith that a horse named Rover was mine; I reside .about four miles from Mr. Gage's.

Re-examined by the Attorney General. - I reside about-four miles from Mr. Gage's, on the other side of the Derwent. I swore distinctly, without going into particulars, the horse was mine before l saw him, in the possession of Hedger; I had made a deposition before Mr. Champ. Hedger got possession of the horse after the first examination; I saw him with it on the evening of that day; I applied to Mr. Champ the following morning for a warrant to take the horse, which was refused, and I then applied to Mr Lascelles at Kangaroo Point.

Mr W Kearney, examined. - I reside in the district of Richmond; and. have been-accustomed to horses about thirty-five years; I know the horse outside the Court-house; the horse is Mr. Gregson's; I have known it to be Mr. Gregson's since last March' races; he ran at New Town, in the trial stakes the first day, with five or six others; one was mine; I am quite certain this is the same horse; the next time I saw him, was about a month since in Macquarie-street, coming from the Old Wharf, and at the distance of a hundred yards; I recognised it to be .Mr. Gregson’s horse, Jagha Jagha; Mr. Hedger was riding it; I think the horse is thorough-bred; he is decidedly not a cart horse; nor has he the least appearance of being got by a cart horse, or from a cart mare; I remember having a conversation with Allen on the Friday before the case was heard at the Police-office, in Collin-street; Allen asked me if I knew Jagha Jagha; I said yes; he asked me the last time that I had seen it; I said it was the last time I was in town, that Mr. Hedger was riding it; Allen said, you might be mistaken, and he said that he had got the horse docks, was going to take them to the Police-office.

Cross-examined by Mr. Rowlands. - Allen asked me if I would ride the horse; he said the horse was a very bad hack, and any horse that he had got would beat him; I said very likely, for I never thought he would make a first-rate racer; I have seen the horse out- side; there has been no appearance to disfigure it any way.

John Peters examined. - I have been accustomed to horses many years; I have seen the horse outside; I saw the horse when Mr. Gregson purchased it in November or December 1836; I saw him afterwards at Risdon repeatedly. I have rode the horse; he had met with an accident when in training; his off hind leg was swollen, and also his body; saw him the day after he was bled. I live on Mr. Gregson's property, and the horse was missed about six months since. I saw it the first week in January, after Mr. Gregson had discovered him. I can swear positively that it is Mr. Gregson's horse, Jagha Jagha, and have ridden him since.

Cross-examined by Mr. Rowlands. - The mode of bleeding the horse was rather unusual. I know Allen; there has been no attempt to disfigure the horse.

Mr Benjamin Wilson examined. - I reside at Woodford, about two miles from Mr. Gregson's, on the same side of the river; I have seen the horse outside-I understood it has been viewed by the Jury; I first saw it about 12 months, ago, but it was before the New Town races; it was at Mr. Abbott's in Macquarie-street - afterwards at Mr. Gregson’s at Risdon; my attention was directed to the horse, he being a fine 2 year old colt. The horse was put in training for the races, during which time it met with an accident. I saw it repeatedly afterwards; it was injured; particularly on the off thigh, in an attempt to leap the fence, while he was in preparation for training; there was a mark left, and is still there; saw Mr. Gregson bleed it, and when it was bleeding stopped it by placing my finger over the orifice, then put on a piece of paper; and afterwards applied a cold stone ; it was not pinned up; my object for doing so is, that it scarcely leaves any mark. The horse outside has got a slight mark; I should say it was a thorough-bred one; it certainly could not have come out of a cart mare; can swear it is the same horse I saw at Risdon. I was at the races at New Town, and saw the horse run.

Cross-examined by Mr. Rowlands. - I have been examined before Mr. Lascelles in Mr. Abbott's room-the prisoner was not present. I am not acquainted with the Sydney breed of horses; should say this horse could not have come out of a cart mare-at the very least it is three quarters bred. I know the Arab breed, this horse might have come out of an Arab mare, but not very likely.

William Athorpe examined. - I am a constable at Risdon, and have been accustomed to horses a great many years - since I was 4fteen. I entered the army when I was sixteen. I attend Mr. Gregson’s horses, and have seen the one outside; I have it in charge. I saw it for the first time about twelve months. I attended as veterinary surgeon for an injury it had received in its hind quarters; the horse was bled, but not in the usual way that I bleed them. It left a slight mark, also the speedy cut on the hock; those marks I perceive on him now. The horse is Mr. Gregson's - he is good bred horse.

Cross-examined by Mr. Rowlands. - There has been no appearance to disguise or disfigure the horse since I first saw it at Mr. Gregson's.

William Cox examined.-I know Mr. E. Abbott; I know the horse outside; I had it in my care for about two months; afterwards I delivered it to Mr. Gregson, at Risdon; about this time twelve months, the horse was broken in by me; I first saw it after I had delivered it to Mr. Gregson, in Elizabeth-street; I knew it immediately; Mr. Hedger was riding it; I have been in the Colony twelve years, have been used to horses about twenty-five years; the horse outside belongs to Mr. Gregson; I positively swear it; it was a remarkable quiet horse from the first time I caught it; by its pedigree it is thorough-bred; it could not have come out of a cart mare. When I delivered it to Mr Gregson it was perfectly broken in; a child could ride it.

Cross-examined by Mr. Rowlands. – I know the dam and sire of the horse; the dam is nearly thorough-bred; when I took the colt in it was about two years and a month old, am certain.

Re-examined by the Attorney General. - I fetched the colt from Mr. Abbott’s farm in November 1836; I found it running in the bush along with its mother, and seven or eight more.

Mr. John Eddington examined. - I am a proprietor of horses; I was at the last New Town Races; I saw a horse there they called Jagha Jagha; I have seen that horse today outside; I know him by his general appearance, and likewise by his hock, I observed that at the races; I saw him in this town about six or seven weeks ago, in possession of Mr. Hedger; I knew him immediately; Mr. Kearney was with me; I said to him at the time, there is Jagha Jagha; I had not heard at that time that Mr. Gregson had lost the horse; I have known the prisoner about fifteen years; when I first knew him, he was in the employ of Mr. Presnell as carter; I don’t know whether Allen has been a breeder of horses.

Cross-examined by Mr. Rowlands. - I have known Allen about fifteen years; I have not during that time, heard anything dishonest against his character.

Mr. John Petchey examined. - I have known the prisoner twenty years; when I first knew him, he was carter on the Wharf; I have seen the horse outside; I should say it was nearly thorough-bred.

Cross-examined by Mr. Rowlands. - Always considered Allen a hard-working and industrious man, during the twenty years I have known him.

John Ogle Gage, J.P., examined. - I reside at the Old Beach, and know the prisoner. I recollect him coming to my residence on a Sunday; I do not recollect the day of the month, but it was the day previous to the cattle show at Richmond - he came to me about a stray horse that I had in my paddock; I had advertised this stray horse before that time; he gave me a verbal description of a horse that he had lost, and said it was a cart bred bay horse, black points, with a star in the forehead, and that it was got by a Sydney cart horse. I told him it did not answer the description of the one in my paddock, for that was a blood horse, but that I would show it to him; in going, he pointed it out to me - he said that was it, but he would not take it upon his own responsibility, but would go to New Norfolk, to a man of the name of Jarvis, and bring him, for he would know whether the horse was his or not. I do not know Jarvis. New Norfolk is on the opposite side of the Derwent to where 1 reside. I saw the horse the next time when I was examined before Mr. Champ, and have seen it today. The horse was taken from my farm on Monday, the day of the cattle show at Richmond; I was out at the time, but left word that if Allen came, he might take the horse if it was his. I have a servant named Page. The horse was in my paddock about four months. I live on the same side of the Derwent as Mr. Gregson.

Edward Abbott, J. P., examined. - I sold a horse to Mr. Gregson, about 14 or 15 months ago - he was bred at Hamilton, on my own farm; the dam was an imported well-bred mare from England - the sire was Peter Finn. Cox was the man who broke the horse in; I do not know who went to Hamilton for it; the horse outside I believe to be the same.

Cross-examined by Mr. Rowlands - I stated at the Police-office that, to the best of my judgment, the horse was the one I sold to Mr. Gregson. I know nothing against the prisoner's character.

John Page examined. - In May last I was in the service of Mr. O. Gage, at the Old Beach. One afternoon, about the beginning of June, I remember seeing a stray horse on my master's farm - it was a bay one; I don't know exactly how long it was there; I have seen the prisoner on our premises; it was on a Sunday he came concerning the horse. It was on Monday or Tuesday when he came again, with a man of the name of Jarvis, of New Norfolk; my master was not at home. They asked me if there was not a stray horse in the paddock, and enquired for my master; they said they had come for it; I told them I could not let them have the horse, unless they went to my mistress, and got her sanction; they went to my mistress, but what passed I don't know; they came back, and said my mistress had given them leave to take it, and asked me to help them catch it; they told me they had seen the horse, and I went with them to the-paddock. In going, Allen said he did not know the horse himself but that Jarvis did. When we got near to the horse, Jarvis said that is the colt, and pointed to it, and said he could swear to it out of a thousand; we drove it up to the corner of the paddock; with a quiet mare of Mr. Gage's. Jarvis put the halter over his head, and the horse remained quite still; I said he seems a good bred horse. Allen said he was no great thing of a breed, that his sire was a rough Sydney horse. When I said what makes his tail be cut like a racer, Allen and Jarvis said that it had been cut by the road party. I said what did they do that for; they said they did not know - that it could only be to make fishing lines. Jarvis left to go to New Norfolk, when I said to Allen that if the colt was got by a rough Sydney horse, that it must be out of a good mare; Allen said yes it was; he said the horse would give him some trouble; I said, no he will not, for he appears to be broken in.

George Davis examined. - I am one of the lessees of the Government lime kilns in Hobart Town; I know the prisoner; I have known him for nine years; I have seen a horse outside the Court; I first saw him in the early part of November last with the prisoner; I had a conversation with him; he rode up to me, and asked me what I thought of the horse; I stepped up to it at the time, and found it much higher than my own colt; that he had just been broke in; I said at the time, it looks more like a racer than a cart colt; I asked him how its tail came to be cut in that way; .when he said, it had been cut to make fishing lines by the road-party; he said at the time, he had no trouble with his colt, as I had with mine, for it was already broken in for him; I had a conversation about fifteen or eighteen months ago, respecting the colt that he had running at Jarvis's; He said it was one of such an inferior description, with a large head, that he should know it amongst a thousand; the prisoner and me called at Jarvis's at New Norfolk, at this time, but did not see the colt.

Cross-examined by Mr. Rowlands. - I am not on good terms with the prisoner; I had him up to the Police-office in November last, for threatening my life. A constable told me that Allen had got government property; I told it to another. I was examined at the Police-office here; I volunteered my services, and was examined at Richmond - Mr. Gregson sent for me there; I never had any difference with the prisoner about selling lime cheaper than me.

Mr. James Sharpe examined. - I live at Sandy Bay; I was at the last New Town Races; I was judge there, and have been for the last seven years. I remember Mr. Gregson's horse, Jagha Jagha, running there last year. I have seen him outside to-day-the impression on my mind is, that it is the same. It is a month or five weeks ago, that I saw him, for the first time since the races, at Jackson's stables; I recognised him as being the same horse; at that time I had no idea that be had been missed by Mr. Gregson.

Cross-examined by Mr. Rowlands. - I have known the prisoner some time; I have never heard anything prejudicial against his character.

W. Carter examined. - I know the prisoner; I have seen the horse that is outside. I had some conversation in Elizabeth-street; he rode up, and said, "Mr. Carter, do you want to buy a horse?" I said no, and observed to him, it was a nice looking horse; he said he would sell it to me for forty guineas; he remarked, that it was very quiet, and that he had just brought it in from the bush, and that it had been turned out about ten months. This conversation took place I think in September last - am not exactly certain. I did not examine the horse at all; I think he said that he had bred him.

John Hedger examined. - I live in Elizabeth-street; I have seen a horse outside this Court to-day : he was in my possession a short time; I bought it of Allen; I first saw the horse at New Town; I have never seen it on the other side of the Derwent; I bought him, and put it to a bread cart; I consider him a strong useful horse; I have not been much accustomed to horses; I had no intention of running him at the New Town Races; I gave Allen a mare and- £10 for the horse. I know Gage's farm; I was never nearer to it than the ferry with Allen; I went with him to Smith's, this was about five months ago-I went there for a Government mare.

T. A. Lasscells, J. P. - examined. - I know the prisoner at the bar; he was charged before me at Richmond for horse stealing, by Mr. Gregson, on the 6th January; this is the deposition, signed by myself, Mr. Breton, Mr. Hector, and Mr. G. W. Gunning, and were all present during the examination of the prisoner. This deposition is signed by the prosecutor; it was read over to him before he signed it.

Cross-examined by Mr. Rowlands. - This examination was taken at Richmond; I have seen other examinations of this charge elsewhere; the prisoner tendered at Richmond, evidence of a man named Jarvis, which was refused; upon the first examination at Richmond, the prisoner refused to attend; the Magistrate gave the prisoner a week to produce his witnesses; on Saturday following prisoner appeared with his witnesses; he made a statement on the second examination; on that occasion examined one witness, a second witness named Jarvis was refused examination by the Magistrate, on behalf of the prisoner; I have known Allen this last twelve years; I believe the man's general character…

This closed the case for the prosecution.

Mr. Rowlands addressed the Jury for the prisoner and proceeded, to call several highly respectable gentlemen, who gave the prisoner an excellent character; several witnesses were called who believed the horse to be Allen's, and two ferrymen, who said they saw the horse driving from the direction of Stony Point Terry, and land on Davis's farm. During, the examination of Mr. Rawling, the Jury addressed the Judge, stating, they had made up their minds without proceeding any further into the defence. Their verdict was-they had not the least doubt the horse was the property of Mr. Gregson, but acquitted: the prisoner on the charge of stealing it.

The trial commenced at 10 o'clock in the morning, and continued until 8 in the evening.6

The Hobart Town Courier Friday 2 February 1838


Before a Military Jury. - The Attorney General opened the case; and in the course of his speech dwelt strongly upon the probability, that the horse in question might be Mr. Gregson's, and yet the prisoner not be guilty of feloniously taking or receiving it.

Immediately after the jury were sworn, the necessity of their viewing the horse became apparent; but the mode of exhibiting the animal to them was not so easily disposed of; it was proposed, that they should view-it through the window, but this was overruled by the jury themselves, as inconvenient and ineffective; it was then suggested that the animal should be brought in to the Court house ; but even this proposition, which was perfectly feasible and by far the most eligible, under all circumstances, was, we know not why, abandoned; and the jury were finally allowed, though with great misgivings on the part of the Chief Justice, to leave their box to examine and satisfy themselves of the properties and general appearance of the disputed quadruped. Upon the return of the jury into court, His Honor could not help expressing his doubts and fears of some communication having been made to the jury; it was not, as far as we could understand His Honor, that anyone of the jury would listen to them, but he argued that they could not prevent persons looking on from making remarks, nor could they under these circumstances avoid hearing them. The reiteration of the doubts and fears of the Chief Justice, however, evidently wounded the feelings of some of the jury in as much as it caused the foreman, Capt. Peddie, to observe, that there was not an officer in that box, who would not despise such a meanness. His Honor replied, "I meant nothing disrespectful to you, Sir;" to which Captain Peddie rejoined "well, Sir, it is my duty to respect myself."

The case, at length proceeded, the first witness on behalf of the prosecution being T. G. Gregson, Esq., who gave his evidence as follows:

I live at Risdon; have seen the horse outside this morning; have known it from 15 to 16 months; it was in the possession of Mr. Abbott; I purchased the horse of Mr. Abbott for the purpose of racing him at New town last year; he ran there; afterwards brought him to Risdon; rode him for about a month, and then turned him into the bush on my own land; I frequently saw him up to the latter end of June; I then lost sight of him for about two months; after that period I caused search to be made for him; I next saw him in the beginning of December, in this town opposite Mr. Melville's office, in the possession of the prisoner, who was riding him; Mr. Rawlings, at my suggestion called him to stop; Allen did so; I heard Rawlings question Allen as to where he got that nice colt; Allen replied, "yes it is a very nice colt," and proceeded to give its pedigree; he said it was out of a one eyed mare, but he did not know by what horse ; it was by some horse in the bush; some observations passed between Rawlings and Allen; I think Allen said, "I'll sell you the horse;" at that time the horse had the appearance of one being broken in; he had a second bit on and a martingal; I walked round and looked at him; Allen rode off; I next saw the horse 8 or 9 days after in Macquarie street; I had come to town to have Allen apprehended; I saw the horse in Hedger's possession; the same that I had seen in the possession of Allen; I took possession of him; the horse which the jury have seen is the same. The character and points are those of a race horse; he was a brown bay, two or three white spots on his back, star on forehead, mark on his off hock, and a mark on the neck of a peculiar kind from bleeding; I bled him; the phlegm was very large; it is usual to pin up the orifice, but on that occasion I used paper; Mr. Wilson was present; it was a his suggestion I put the brown paper over it; the tail was cut square up to the dock; it was a remarkably quiet creature; I have since examined him very minutely; there is the mark on the hock and the saddle mark, and the roller mark, made by the buckle; also a remarkable appearance of the hair of the tail; all these marks are now on the horse and may be seen; I have been acquainted with horses five over and thirty years.

By the Judge. - The mark on the neck requires close inspection; the other marks are obvious; there was nothing remarkable in the horse when I saw him with Allen; he was going steady; he was two years old.

In the cross-examination of this witness, nothing of importance was elicited. Mr. Gregson's evidence was followed by that of Mr. William Kearney; Mr. John Peevor; Mr. B, E. O. Wilson; Mr. William Athorne; Wm. Cox; Mr. John Eddington; Mr. John Petchey; John Doran; Mr. J. O. Gage; Mr. Edward Abbott; John Page; Mr. James Sharpe; Mr. William Carter; Mr Hedger; Mr. Lascelles and Mr. George Davis; by the testimony of almost all these witnesses it was proved beyond a shadow of doubt, that the horse in question was the property of Mr. Gregson; but yet none of them went to criminate Allen, if perhaps we except the evidence of Mr. Davis, who it appeared in the cross-examination, was not on good terms with the prisoner.

The case for the prosecution having terminated, Mr. Rowlands addressed the jury at some length in behalf of the prisoner, and proceeded to call his witnesses in his behalf. We give one at length in fairness to Allen and to show the grounds upon which he presumed the horse to be the one which he had lost.

Samuel Davis, of Old Beach recollects a strange colt getting into his paddock the latter port of May last; It was fenced in all but the water part; the horse was a dark bay colt with star on the forehead; turned it out of his paddock and saw it join Mr. Gage's horses in his paddock; had a conversation with Allen who said he understood that there was a strange colt in Mr. Gage's paddock; and wondered how it got there; witness told Allen that Mr. Austin said he had been informed by Cox that it had swum across the water; Allen asked witness to go over to Mr. Gage's, but he did not go; next day Allen and Jervis came and asked him to go and see if it was the same colt; witness went and said it was; the horse could not have got into witness's paddock without he jumped three or four fences; the horse I have seen today is the same; Allen said it was surprising how the horse could have come on that side of the water, it must have been worried by dogs; the horse appears different now to what it was in Mr, Gage's paddock.

Cross-examined. - In May he was in a fair condition; when witness saw him in Mr. Gage's paddock in October he was very poor; knows Mr Gregson's residence; none of his land joins Mr. Gage's; has known the river Derwent 19 years; has seen plenty of horses swim across it, and bullocks too.

Several witnesses followed, from whose evidence it appeared, that a horse corresponding in colour and description had swam across the Derwent. The following gentlemen gave evidence in favour of the character of Allen; C. M-Lachlan,Esq.; --Fletcher, Esq.; T. N. Champ, Esq.; J. Beamont, Esq.; C. Swanston, Esq.; John Lee Archer, Esq.; W. Bunster, Esq. and Mr. Joseph Morgan the Chief Constable. The trial concluded somewhat abruptly just as the evidence of Mr. Rawlings had commenced; the jury who had sat patiently from ten in the morning until nearly seven in the evening, evidently considered that it would be a waste of time to proceed with any further examination of witnesses, as no new facts were elicited, and their verdict was taken to the following effect." The jury have no doubt that the horse is Mr. Gregson's but acquit the prisoner.7

  • 1. F. C. Green, 'Gregson, Thomas George (1798 - 1874)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, Melbourne University Press, 1966, pp 475-476. (
  • 2. Brain, Robert: Thomas Gregson - a Tasmanian radical; University of Tasmania, unpublished and never submitted thesis; 1955
  • 3. Macquarie University: Decisions of the Nineteenth Century Tasmanian Superior Courts; R v Allen, 1838 (
  • 4. The Hobart Town Courier Friday 22 December 1837
  • 5. The Colonial Times Tuesday 2 January 1838
  • 6. The Colonial Times Tuesday 30 January 1838
  • 7. The Hobart Town Courier Friday 2 February 1838