This section follows on from the William Nicholls and the Early Family page. After William's death in July 1851 Isabella was left in relatively desperate circumstances. William and Isabella had seven children aged between 15 and with William gone they were effectively left without a source of revenue. Isabella's father had died in December 1850, nor could Isabella expect assistance from her older siblings. Her older half-brother George had died in 1835, and William had left the colony for South Australia in the late 1840s. Regarding Isabella's older sisters, Sarah had relocated to New South Wales in the late 1830s but Elizabeth was still living in Van Diemen's Land with her husband John Allan running the Dallas Arms hotel. It seems odd after Isabella's falling out with her father and his quaker associates that it may have been the Society of Friends that provided some assistance. Frederick Mackie, a quaker missionary, recorded meeting Isabella in his diary in November 1852.
20th. In the afternoon, visited a poor widow Isabella Nicholas, not a member. She has a family of 5 or 6 children.1
Mackie was a member of the Society of Friends, 'travelling under concern', to encourage and instruct fellow-Quakers in foreign lands. Although he noted that Isabella was "not a member", the fact that he visited her at all suggests that Isabella's condition was the subject of interest and concern to the Quaker community. Isabella ultimately entered into a relationship with a Joseph Knight. They were never married, although Isabella would adopt his surname. Joseph had arrived in Van Diemen's Land as a convict aboard the Anson, having been tried at Salford in Greater Manchester, Lancashire, England on 24 October 1842 for burglary. He was sentenced to 15 years transportation and embarked on the Anson on 13 September 1843, arriving in Hobart Town on 4 February 1844.2 Upon arrival he was described as follows.
With his age stated as 35 Joseph was born about 1808 or 1809, presumably in Manchester. He had previous convictions, and had also been discharged on a charge of being privy to the death of a child. He had broken into the premises of Mr Nurse of Manchester, and stolen jewellery and cloth. Joseph's family was recorded on his convict indent. His father was Benjamin Knight, and his brothers were John, William, Charles, Henry and Benjamin. His sisters were Mary, Esther and Frances. From the indent it appears some of his siblings had emigrated to America.4 Once in Van Diemen's Land Joseph initial appropriation was in a gang at Wedge Bay where he was sent for 24 months.5 He was appointed a constable on 29 May 1846 and was serving in Swanport on 11 January 1847 when he was admonished for misconduct in being in a public house after hours. On 19 February 1848 he was fined for neglect of duty, and in April 1848 he was admonished for the same misdemeanor. His ticket of leave was issued on 30 April 1850 and he was recommended for a condition pardon in October 1851, even though in the previous month of September he had been found guilty of common assault while still a constable.6 Joseph's conditional pardon was finally approved on 11 January 1853 and he established himself as a butcher in Murray street. In August 1854 he appeared in court as the complainant in a case of assault:
ASSAULT- CURIOUS CASE KNIGHT V HARVEY. Complainant, whose residence is in Murray-street; sworn, deposed, on the night of the 14th was from home returning about half past 8, found a number of people round the house, amongst them was the defendant - heard Harvey say that butcher's shop is mine and all in it - walked up to him and asked him if he was speaking to complainant, Harvey said, yes you - scoundrel, I am. Complainant threatened to send for a constable, when Harvey increased his abuse. He then put up his hand, to push Harvey away but did not touch him. Harvey came again - complainant raised his hand - Harvey seized him by the collar - gave Harvey a push and both fell, Harvey trying to throttle him - complainant was compelled to call for assistance - by-standers told complainant to thrash him, he declined, but asked them to take Harvey away. Harvey was drunk at the time. Cross-examined - did not ask Harvey for balance on account. Defendant pleaded not guilty, and called George Brougham, who, deposed - was coming down Murray-street by Mr. Knight's shop, when Harvey made a remark to witness that Knight ought to pay him some two pounds odd shillings. Knight came up, and they had a few words. Immediately after, Knight had Harvey by the collar on the ground, as if he had thrown him down! Witness took Knight away and Mr. Harvey home. Cross-examined - Harvey had been there some few minutes when Knight came up - did not hear Knight say he would not strike him - Harvey had not hold of Knight - saw no one interfere - Harvey was not drunk - about half. - Case dismissed, plaintiff paying the costs.7
In the following month of September 1854 he signed a petition for the appointment of Justice Horne as the new Chief Justice in the colony.8 It was during this time that he made the acquaintance of Isabella Nichols, nee Rayner. As previously noted, no marriage has been found for the couple but their first child was born on 5 September 1855 in Hobart, Tasmania but recorded as an unnamed male at birth. Isabella was recorded as Isabella Nichols. Joseph registered the event and was recorded as a Butcher living in Murray Street.9 The identity of this child will be discussed later. In November 1855 Joseph was charged with stealing lambs, the property of another butcher, John William Smith.
SINGULAR CHARGE OF LAMB STEALING. (Before F. Burgess, Esq., Chief Police Magistrate.) POLICE COURT, Nov. 12. Joseph Knight was charged by detective constable Gordon with feloniously stealing eleven live lambs (14s, each), the property of John William Smith, a butcher, residing in Elizabeth-street. Mr. Crisp appeared for the accused. Prosecutor deposed that, on Friday, he met Mr. Knight, who had asked him previously for some lambs; witness had some lambs with him, near the Turf Hotel, in Murray street, and told prisoner if he had any left he would let him have some. Prisoner then knocked him down, and took away eleven lambs. Next morning he gave information to the police, and constable Gordon went with him to Knight's, when he saw three skins of lambs, and in a yard eight lambs, which witness claimed. Prisoner said, "I believe they are the lambs I took from you." Cross-examined. - It was about three, in the open day, when these Iambs was taken from me. He said he would take the lambs in spite of me; said nothing about my having bought them with his money. I had not received money or bills from Knight to purchase lambs. I received bills from him, accommodation bills, but not for this transaction. The day before I had some conversation with him about some lambs. I reported the matter to the police the next morning. I am a butcher and dealer. I never bought anything for Mr. Knight since I was in partnership with him. He has kept a butcher's Shop in Murray-street two or three years. I was not drunk on this occasion, nor was I perfectly sober. I was never charged with sheepstealing myself. - I know Mr. Nance. I had some conversation with him on Saturday, did not tell him I had two or three persons who would cook Mr. Knight. I was stopped once with some sheep, I might have been charged with sheep stealing; nothing could be done with me. I was brought before a magistrate. (A laugh.) This never occurred before in my lifetime. Prisoner claimed these lambs as his property, so far, that he said he would take them in spite of me. I had some conversation with Knight after this took place - he did not conceal the lambs. When the constable came, he said "there they are." By the Chief Police Magistrate. - I told him after I had been to my customers if there was any left I would let him have them. Henry Jerratt, a butcher, corroborated in part, Smith's evidence, but said, when Knight struck him, he said, "'Where are the bills that bought the lambs!" By Mr. Crisp - Prisoner said those lambs were bought with his bills. By His Worship - Prisoner removed the lambs to his place. I know nothing at all about the affairs of Knight and Smith. John Dogherty gave evidence, that prosecutor purchased the lambs at Constitution Hill, on the 6th inst, with which he paid in cheques and money, but not by bills. Constable Gordon proved apprehending Mr. Knight, and finding the eight lambs in a shed at the back, and the skins of three lambs, which were owned by Smith. By Mr. Crisp - They were not concealed. Knight did not not attempt to say they were not Smith's. Mr. Crisp submitted that the taking was not such a taking as in law would constitute a felonious taking. It was clear that prisoner took the lambs under a claim of right. He admitted Mr. Knight might have acted indiscreetly, but Mr. Smith had his remedy by an action of trover, for the sheep, or of trespass for the assault, if he complained of that. Mr. Burgess asked the learned counsel what he said to the conversion afterwards? Mr. Crisp said, that did not come in question, the only point was as to the taking, and he adduced an authority in support. He was prepared to call a witness. The usual formal question was put to the accused, and replied to, after which the following evidence was taken: James Nance, sworn - On Friday afternoon I was in Murray-street, near the Turf Hotel. Smith had some lambs; Knight said they were his property, and were bought with his money. Smith, who was very near tipsy, would not let him have them. I saw Knight take the lambs; he claimed them as his. Something was said about bills; Knight said his bills had been passed for those lambs. I have known prisoner three or four years; he carries on business as a butcher. Eliveni Stracey Sharp, clerk to the prisoner, deposed, that he was present during part of the occurrence. Mr. Knight took the lambs to purchase some live stock for him ; that was on the 22nd October. Three bills for £71 5s. 10d. were handed by Mr. Knight to Smith to purchase stock for Mr. Knight. Before Knight took the lambs he told him they were bought by his bills. By Mr. Burgess - The lambs were not named specifically when the bills were given, but live stock generally. By Mr. Crisp - Smith told Knight, on a former occasion, he had discounted one of the bills with Mr. Speke, Constitution Hill. The magistrate said, under all the circumstances, he did not think there was sufficient to call upon him to send the case to the grand jury. Mr. Knight was therefore discharged. The court was much thronged during the investigation.10
On 4 November 1857 in Hobart another child was born to Isabella and Joseph, this time recorded as an unnamed female. Isabella registered the event and was recorded as Isabella Butcher of Hill Street. The incorrect surname for Isabella was probably a transcription error as this was Joseph’s occupation.11 No further information is known about this individual. Isabella's daughter Eliza Ann under the surname Nicolias married Richard Wrathall on 8 February 1858 in St. David's Church, Hobart, Tasmania.12 Richard was born about 1829 or 1830 in Middlesex, England, the son of Stephen Wrathall and Mary Ann Walker.13 By 1859 Elizabeth and Richard had moved to Smythesdale, Victoria where they started their large family of eleven children. In November 1858 Isabella as Isabella Nicholls was taken to court by the City Inspector, a Mr. Thomas.
Thomas v. Nicholls. Mrs. Isabella Nicholls, Lansdowne Crescent, was fined 15s. and costs for allowing three goats to be at large in the public streets.14
In September 1860 Joseph Knight was charged with the inappropriate slaughter and preparation of a calf for sale:
HAMILTON against KNIGHT. -An information by Mr. Superintendent Hamilton against Mr. Joseph Knight, butcher, Elizabeth-street, the information complaining that defendant did on the 7th instant, in Elizabeth-street, expose for sale the unsalted carcase of an animal, to wit, a calf, which had not been slaughtered at the Public Slaughter House, the said carcase not being the carcase of an animal landed from any vessel arriving in the port of Hobart Town, the said exposure for sale being contrary to the provisions of the Act to regulate the slaughtering of cattle and sale of meat in the City of Hobart Town, and the vicinity thereof. Mr. Moriarty appeared for the defendant who pleaded guilty. Mr. Hamilton in reply to the Bench said that in this case the Sub-Inspector on visiting Mr. Knight's premises, found the carcase of a calf fresh killed, hanging exposed for sale, and on enquiry at the Slaughter House, the Sub-Inspector found that defendant had not slaughtered the animal there, and was also told in answer to enquiries made to every butcher in Hobart Town that they had not sold a calf to defendant on the day named in the information. It was the first case against defendant. Defendant said he had bought the calf the day before the Sub-Inspector came to his shop, a distance of 20 miles from Hobart Town, and had told the man to bleed it. He sent for the calf on Friday morning to take it to be slaughtered at the Slaughter House, but finding it had been bled too much it was killed in the morning, and brought as it was in the cart to defendant's shop and had been killed something like twelve hours before the Inspector came in. The Slaughter House was a long distance from defendant's shop and if the calf had been taken there it would have been dead and cold before it could have been taken out at the yards, but it was not with defendant's consent that it was slaughtered where it was, as he invariably sent his animals to be slaughtered at the yards. When the Sub- Inspector came in the calf was hanging with the skin on and there had been no desire of concealment on his part. Mr. Stewart asked if defendant had any witnesses. Defendant said his man was at the shop, and should their Worships think it necessary to adjourn the case for a short time he would send for him. The Mayor said it was a pity the defendant had not pleaded not guilty and then the circumstances could have been enquired into. It was unusual even to hear a statement after a plea of guilty. In reply to the Bench, Mr. Hamilton said he scarcely thought Mr. Knight would advance that which was not true. The Superintendent had merely stated the circumstances as they occurred, and he had never had a complaint against defendant before. Mr. Dossitor, Inspector of Stock, was in attendance and could inform the Bench if defendant was in the habit of slaughtering at any other place than the Slaughter House. The Mayor said the Bench were disposed to accept the statement made by defendant as being correct, and in that case it was evident that the offence originated in accident. Under any other circumstances the Bench would have felt bound to inflict a very heavy fine, as the butchers must be protected, and it was not fair for one to kill on his own premises, whilst others were compelled to go to the Slaughter House. The Bench, however, in this case believing defendant's statement, and that the breach of the Act originated through accident, fined defendant in the mitigated penalty of 20s. and costs.15
The following year Isabella and Joseph’s third and last child was born on 7 May 1861 in Hobart and named Esther Knight.16 While still the mother of very young children, Isabella's older children were at the opposite end of the spectrum. While Esther Alice was just a toddler, David Nicholas married Mary Ann Geeves on 20 February 1863 in the Honeywood Chapel in the Franklin district. Osborne Geeves, John Newell and William Geeves were witnesses.17 Mary Ann was born about 1843 or 1844, the daughter of William Geeves and Susan Warboys.18 David and Mary Ann would go on to have twelve children. Later that year, in July 1863, Joseph was charged with keeping an unregistered dog which resulted in an unusual plea for mitigation.
Joseph Knight pleaded guilty to having in his possession an unregistered dog but pleaded in extenuation that the animal was old and useless. The defendant also requested the magistrates to make an order for the dog's destruction. The Bench imposed the mitigated penalty of 5s. with costs, but declined to make any order for the destruction of the animal, the defendant to take out a licence immediately in the event of his electing to retain the dog in his possession.19
In January 1864 Joseph appeared as a witness in a case of false pretences which was ultimately deemed to be a case of mistaken intent.
False Pretences John William Smith was charged with obtaining by false pretences from Thomas Dean Robertson at Ross on the 30th November last, 121 sheep of the value of £72 12s... Joseph Knight, deposed : I have known the defendant for 12 or 14 years. He has been a master butcher in Hobart Town. He has been in the habit of making large purchases in the country. His usual custom was to carry blank cheques ; he at one time took cash with him, but being apprehensive of being robbed, he discontinued doing so. His cheques so far as I know were always honored. I believe him to be an honest man. I would trust him myself. I know that he has had dealings with Mr. Bendall for the last twelve years to the amount of thousands of pounds. I remember there were some transactions between the defendant and Mr. Webb, but I do not know any of the particulars.20
By 1864 the family would have possibly comprised Isabella and Joseph, along with the Nicholls children - George, Anna, John, and the Knight children - an un-named male, an un-named female, and Esther Knight. The un-named male born to Isabella and Joseph in 1855 is almost certainly the Thomas Rayner Knight who died in Hobart Town on 19 September 1865. The event was registered by the Coroner.21 The use of Isabella’s surname as the child’s middle name is convincing enough, but it is supported by the details reported in the paper, starting on 17 September 1865.
Police Court – Thursday September 14th, 1865 STONE THROWING – [Police sub-Inspector] McConnel v. Samuel Johnson, Robert Donelly and Thomas Glansey. – An information charging [the] defendants, three boys, with stone throwing in a public street, on Sunday evening last. William Brown, a boy residing with his father in Bathurst Street, stated that on the above evening he saw Donelly throw a stone, which struck a horse which was being led by Thomas Knight, son of Charles Knight, butcher, New Town Road, the blow causing the horse to become restive and kick the boy on the side of the head, inflicting a serious injury. It was also proved by [the] complainant that the other two defendants were in Donelly’s company, and were throwing stones at the same time. [The] Defendants were fined ?s each and costs, and in default of payment were sentenced to imprisonment for seven days.22
The fact that Thomas had the middle name Rayner, that the event occurred in Hill Street where Isabella and Joseph Knight resided, and that his father’s occupation was recorded as Butcher in the court report, point to the fact that the reporter of the issue incorrectly identified Thomas’ father as Charles, and their residence as New Town. Additionally, there is no birth registration for any child to a Charles Knight at the time in Southern Van Diemen’s Land. The Coroner's Inquest was held on 22 September 1865 and the following judgement was recorded
...Thomas Rayner Knight on the nineteenth day of September ... came to his [death] accidentally through being kicked by a horse he was leading along Hill Street at Hobart Town on the tenth day of September... The Jury also attaches a Rider Censuring the conduct of the boys in throwing stones.23
The inquest was reported in the Mercury the following Saturday:
CORONER'S INQUEST. - An inquest was held yesterday afternoon, at Mr. F. G. Watson's, the Lime Kiln Inn, Veterans' Row, before Mr. H. Hopkins, jun., coroner, and the usual jury, of which Mr. Richard Shoobridge was foreman, to enquire into the death of Thomas Rayner Knight, aged 10 years, son of Mr. Knight, butcher, who died on the 10th instant from the effects of a kick from a horse, as already mentioned in this journal. The evidence disclosed that the deceased was leading a horse, when he was seen by some boys, one of whom, Robert Donnelley, said to the others:- "Here's a kid with a horse, let us have a lark with him," where upon Donnelley took up some stones, and threw them at the horse, who commenced kicking, and kicked the deceased on the side of the head. The deceased was subsequently attacked by fever, and became delirious, when Dr. Carns was sent for on Tuesday evening, and prescribed the necessary remedies. The boy, however, died during the night, and on a post mortem examination Dr. Carns discovered a fracture of one of the temple bones, and effusion of blood on the brain. The jury returned a verdict, in accordance with the evidence, that the deceased came to his death through the kick of a horse, that he was leading along the street, and that such kick was occasioned by some boys throwing stones at the horse.24
In the following month of October it was reported that Joseph had laid information with the police that required them to subsequently charge the boys involved with manslaughter.25 The boys were required to surrender themselves to Police which they did in November 1865 when the first hearings for the case were held.
MANSLAUGHTER. -The three boys Robert Donnelly, Samuel Johnson and Thomas Glansey again appeared to answer a charge preferred against them by Joseph Knight for the manslaughter of his son Thomas Rayner Knight. Mr. Graves appeared for the accused. Joseph Knight, the prosecutor, proved that he was a butcher in Elizabeth-street. His son Thomas Rayner Knight, aged 10 years, died on the 19th September last, an inquest was held on his body shortly afterwards. He remembered Sunday 10th September; deceased asked witness if might ride the horse; witness refused, but said the horse must be turned out in the paddock, or square close to the Wesleyan burying ground. About 4 o'clock in the afternoon of the same day, witness saw deceased at his own door, he was carried by two or three men, and was bleeding. The boy as soon as he saw witness said "O father!" and that was all he said at that time. Witness carried the boy in and laid him on the bed. After witness had washed his face be came to his senses and spoke, making a statement as to how it had happened. Witness sat with him till 2 o'clock next morning and thought he did not require medical assistance. On the following Thursday the deceased attended the Police Court and gave evidence on an information against the three defendants. On the Tuesday following witness received a message to return home, about 6 in the evening, and to take a doctor with him. Witness took Dr. Carns with him, and be examined and prescribed for him. That night witness was awoke by some of the family, and heard the boy making a noise with his mouth; he appeared to be quite insensible; witness sent for the doctor, but at 10 minutes to ten he died in convulsions, the doctor not having then arrived. After the boy was brought home by the three persons, he frequently complained of a pain in his head. The horse was a grey horse, and remarkably quiet. Alexander James Clark, cabinet maker, Collins street, proved that while in the Wesleyan burial ground be heard a cry, and saw a horse kicking and running past. Witness ran out and saw deceased in the road twenty yards from the gate, in a kneeling position, with his head on the ground; he picked him up, and called to his father to help him. On picking up the boy, who was not sensible, witness observed water running from his ears. Witness carried him home, with the assistance of his father. Alexander Clark, father of the last witness, gave corroborative evidence. At this stage of the proceedings, an adjournment took place till to-morrow, the Magistrate consenting to release the prisoners, on Mr. Graves undertaking for their appearance.26
The case was adjourned until the following Saturday when further witnesses were called to provide evidence.
THE MANSLAUGHTER CASE.- Robert Donnelly, Thomas Glanscy, and Samuel Johnson were again placed in the dock on the charge of manslaughter by stone throwing. Mr. Graves appeared for the defence. George Williams deposed that he was near the Wesleyan burying ground on the 10th September last. He saw a horse running down the street, and saw a little boy lying in front of the gate bleeding. Dr. Carns deposed to having attended the deceased boy Thomas Knight. He found him suffering from a contused wound on the right jaw and right side of the head, and also from a wound at the back of' the right ear. He attended the deceased for those wounds but he died. He afterwards made a post mortem examination of the body of deceased. The brain was seriously injured, and he detected a fracture through the petrous portion of the temporal bone of the right side. The fracture was surrounded with clots of blood, and was the cause of death. The wounds and fracture must have been occasioned by very great direct violence, a kick from a horse, or a blow from a sledge hammer would produce such a wound. Unless deceased had fallen from a very great height such results could not have ensued from a fall. Cross-examined by Mr. Graves: Such violence as I have described would fell the recipient, if he were upright on receiving it. It would be possible for the individual to be kicked some distance off and still remain on his feet. A man might be able to walk some distance after such injuries. In the case of Barrett the man walked some twenty yards with his head split in half. The probabilities are against a person getting up after receiving such injuries. In answer to the usual queries the prisoners, under the advice of Mr. Graves, made no statements, and called no witnesses. Mr. Graves submitted that the Bench would now be justified in discharging at least two of the prisoners. The evidence as to the accident was very uncertain. The evidence of the little girl Chaplin was evidently given from impressions which had been made upon her mind since the occurrence, and, the details would not stand beside the evidence of the boy Brown, who was the only other witness whose evidence dealt with the circumstances attending the occurrence. Mr. Graves referred to the various statements comparing them, and said that the evidence of the boy Brown bore strongly against his client Donnelly, but he thought it fully exonerated the boys Johnson and Glansey. Mr. Jones said he agreed with Mr. Graves to a considerable extent, but did not feel justified in taking the case out of the hands of the grand jury. He should commit the three prisoners for trial, and allow bail for each in one recognizance of £20. The Court then rose.27
The case was referred to the Supreme Court which went to trial in early December 1865:
MANSLAUGHTER-THE STONE THROWING CASE. Samuel Johnson and Robert Donnelly were placed in the dock, having surrendered to their bail, charged with manslaughter, in having caused the death, on the 19th September, of one T. R. Knight. The prisoners pleaded not guilty. Mr. Graves appeared for the prisoner Donnelly. The Attorney-General opened the case by observing that however much it was to be deplored that two such young lads should be charged with manslaughter, it was nevertheless quite necessary that an example should be made in order to put down the practice of stone-throwing. He had noticed that the authorities were every where trying to put it down, and he thought the exposure of this prosecution would be most salutary to other lads. He then briefly stated the facts of the case. The whole evidence in this ease has been so recently reported in The Mercury, that it is only necessary here to repeat that on the day in question, the deceased was leading a horse in Lansdowne-crescent, when the defendants threw stones at the animal, which thereupon kicked the deceased on the side of the head, the blow causing his death. Mr. Graves addressed the jury at considerable length for the defence, pointing out several discrepancies in the evidence, and urging that there was no case against Johnson. As to Donnelly, there was, he thought, a doubt, that he threw the stone which caused the horse to kick deceased, and he (Mr. Graves), begged them to give him the benefit of the doubt, and to acquit both defendants. His Honor summed up, briefly pointing out the law, and remarking that the occurrence was a most unfortunate one, a most painful one, which the jury must deal with according to the evidence before them. The jury then retired for a short time, and upon returning into Court acquitted both the defendants, who were cautioned by his Honor and discharged.28
The Knight family featured again in the newspaper in July 1866 with Joseph Knight charging Patrick McAuley with ill-treating a cow. The hearing demonstrated deep divisions between the Knight and Nicholls branches of Isabella's family.
ILL-TREATING A COW. - Knight v. McAuley. Joseph Knight complained by information against Patrick McAuley for ill-treating a cow, on the 27th June last. Plea, not guilty. Complainant proved that on the evening of Wednesday, 27th June, about six in the evening he arrived home; a complaint was made that one of his cows was sick and would not eat, she was evidently in pain, and bellowed all the night long. She had got better, but he could not say the extent of the injury. He would estimate the loss of the milk and the cost of calling in the cow doctor at £1. Cross-examined: George Nichols was in attendance on the cows with others that evening. Wm. Henry Parsons, a boy, (examined by the Bench Clerk), proved that he was in attendance on the cows, no one else attended them but witness. He took them out on the 27th last month, and remained with them all day. When he was taking them up to the bush, one of the cows got ahead, and went into defendant's yard; witness went to fetch her out, when defendant ran out of a stable with a thick stick, and struck the cow with all his might, using both hands, hitting her on the back and across the head heavy blows. The poor animal roared out and appeared in great pain; she refused to graze, although before defendant struck her she was to all appearance quite well. When witness went to turn her out, defendant attempted to strike him. Witness took the cow home at half-past three that afternoon, he offered her food, - bran and chaff, - but she would not touch it; she was milked. Mr. Knight: What milk did she give? The Stipendiary Magistrate told him not to interfere. Mr. Knight: I want him to tell the whole truth. The Stipendiary Magistrate: He is telling it. Mr. Knight : Am I not allowed to conduct the examination? The Stipendiary Magistrate : No; he is in the hands of the Bench. Mr. Knight : What am I here for? The Stipendiary Magistrate : He is answering the questions of the Bench Clerk. Mr. Knight: I ought to be allowed to ask the questions. The Stipendiary Magistrate: No, you ought not, and if I have any more of it, I will send you out. Mr. Knight: Well, I will go out, and leave it to you. (He then left the Court ) By Defendant: I do not know what you were doing when the cow went in at the gate. The cow was just inside the fence, and it was there you struck her. I saw Mr. Abel passing at the time. He was below the gate, and was not in a position to see it. Mr. Knight has not told me what to say; nor has Mrs. Nichols. George Nichols and I attend to the cows in the stall. George uses them kindly; I saw him beat them once last week. He kicked a cow in the belly, not this cow, but a red one. Defendant having finished his cross-examination said he would not ask any more questions as the boy had been tutored. His Worship said he would not have that, the boy had given his evidence very fairly and he had no more right to interfere with the proceeding than Mr. Knight had, and he would not allow it from either of them. By the Bench Clerk: I did not see this cow fighting with any of the defendant's cows. Defendant said it was all spite, and complainant had told him he would be revenged of him. Samuel Abel proved that he was passing defendant's gate, but when he saw the cows they were passing his (witness') gate, further on. He did not see defendant before he came out at the gate - at that time he did not see anything in defendant's hand. He saw two cows fighting in the road. It was not possible for him to have beaten the cow without witness's seeing it. By the Bench Clerk : The boy was fifty or sixty yards from the gate when I saw the defendant come out of the gate, that was the first I saw either of the boy or the defendant. The boy was going in the direction of the bush at the time, so that I saw nothing of what took place on defendant's premises. Cross-examined (by Mr. Knight who had re entered the Court): - You came to my house and saw me on the following morning and I said I knew nothing of the beating; I said something about the haystack being between us. John Nichols, in defendant's employ, gave evidence to the effect that it was impossible, from the position of the stable where he was when the cow came in at the gate, for him to get to the cow in the narrow passage that intervened, before the cow got outside the gate. The Knights and Nichols were not on good terms with defendant, and he had heard Mr. Knight say he would be revenged on him as long as he was on the Crescent. Witness also proved that George Nichols, his brother, had beaten the cows in the stall, the last time three or four months ago, and he was violent with cows and horses. He swore likewise that there was not any stick on the premises, such as the boy Parsons said he (defendant) had beaten the cow with. By the Bench Clerk: I first saw the cows when they were past defendant's gate a hundred yards, and I was a mile and a half from them. His Worship said, according to the evidence, he deemed defendant guilty, and therefore ordered him to pay 20s. penalty and costs, besides 20s., the damage. He inflicted the lowest penalty having no discretion, or he might have made it less, seeing that there were some un neighborly disputes between them.29
Just a couple of months later in September 1866, the family were again in the newspaper but this time their disputes had escalated to various charges of assault:
ASSAULT - Farrel v. Nicholas - This was an information by a boy named John Farrell, charging John Nicholas with assaulting him. Complainant proved that he went last Sunday afternoon to get some cows off Mr. Knight's run to take them to pound. Jack (the defendant) ran after him to 'warm' him (a laugh). Witness in running away fell down, he jumped up, when Jack came to him, struck him in the face, knocked him down, and kicked him while he was on the ground. Cross-examined: - 'Pat' Butler pointed out the cows to me; there is no side line between Knight's and McAuley's runs, but there's a horse track between them.. Henry Parsons, another boy, gave corroborative and additional evidence; he said after 'Jack' Nicholas had punched and kicked 'Jack' Farrell he caught him up by the hair of the head and 'chucked' him into the scrub. Cross-examined: - I know the difference between the runs, because 'Pat' McAuley has frequently pointed it out to me. The creek is the side line. I did not heave stones at you. Defendant said complainant and other boys threw stones at him, but he denied the assault sworn to. Fined 2s.6d. and costs. Nicholas v. McAuley - A charge of assault by Isabella Nicholas against Patrick McAuley. Mr. Thomas Sheeby for the defendant. Complainant, who took the affirmation as a friend, proved that she went to McAuley's on Sunday to speak to her son, the defendant in the last case, for beating little Farrell; he used the word 'lie' to her and she slapped him in the face for doing so; he then began to spar with her, when she turned away. Defendant who was there then called her names and struck her several heavy blows on the face and head with a stick; she caught hold of the stick and became insensible; he tried to push her into a deep drain about 6 feet deep, with water in it. Witness believed she put out her hand and stuck him first, a light blow to defend herself against him, and she struck him several times as hard as she could after he hit her with the stick. Cross-examined: I flogged my son for using bad names. It was not he who tried to push me into the drain. I am a married woman, but have not lived with my husband for 17 years. I know Knight, I live in the same house with him. Anna Maria Nicholas, daughter of the complainant, sworn, gave corroborative evidence, and produced the stick which McAuley used; she positively said McAuley was trying to push her into the drain, which she had measured and found to be 5 feet deep. Her brother John was trying to strike his mother, and witness caught hold of his hand to prevent it. Her mother bled a great deal; the stick was covered with blood. By the Bench: My mother became insensible when defendant struck her with a stick. Henry Parsons, aged 12 years, who was examined in the previous case, a remarkably intelligent lad, gave corroborative evidence. Mr. Sheeby addressed the Bench and proposed to call two witnesses to show that if there was an assault, it was justified by the conduct of Mrs. Nicholas. Thomas Donohoe proved that when [the] complainant chased her son to beat him, [the] defendant desired her to go away, and not create a disturbance; [the] defendant and Mrs. Nicholas then came to close quarters and she struck him in the mouth which bled lightly; then [the] defendant hit her and two women came out and parted them, witness saw the blood on her. Mrs. Nicholas' daughter was not there. The girl came up before the row was scattered. [The] Defendant was a quietly disposed person. By the Bench: I did not see the boy Parsons there, I will not swear he was not there. [The] Defendant struck the complainant with his fist; I swear he did not strike her with his stick; the row did not last five minutes. I did not see her on the ground; she did not fall to my knowledge. By Mr. Sheeby: I did not see McAuley struck with a stick. McAuley had a stick in his hand like that produced. By the Bench: More than one blow might have been struck on each side, but I did not see it. I saw blood on Mrs. Nicholas's jaw, and on the bosom of her dress. It was on the face he struck her. The Bench believed that the assault was committed, and that with a stick, a serious one too, they therefore inflicted a fine of 3 [pounds], and costs, or one months hard labour. McAuley v. Nicholas: - This was a cross case between the parties and as the magistrates were obliged to leave the hearing was postponed until Wednesday next.30
The Mercury reported on the case again on 4 October 1866:
ASSAULT - McAuley v Nicholas: Patrick McAuley complained of Isabella Nicholas for assaulting him on the 23rd inst. Plea - not guilty. Complainant deposed that on coming down the hill near Lansdowne Crescent on the afternoon in question he met [the] defendant, and after a few words about her son having struck a boy, she struck him twice in the face without provocation, upon which [the] witness struck her in the face. Thomas Donovan and Catherine Donovan corroborated the evidence. [The] Defendant said what she did was in her own defence. And that McAuley had struck her with a stick and caused blood to flow. Anna Maria Nicholas, [the] defendant's daughter, and the boy, Henry Parsons, gave evidence to the same effect as on the former occasion, and in confirmation of the defence. Their Worships dismissed the case.31
Lou Daniels, a Rayner family researcher, commented on these reports:
If this is accurate reporting, then it is a bit misleading. [Isabella] had been a widow since 1851, fifteen years, and there is nothing to suggest that she had left her husband before he died. She was the informant on his death register entry. The odd circumstances of the case must have puzzled the court, for it sounds as if John Nicholas was estranged from his step-father [and one would think, his mother - Ed].32
The report confirms that Anna Maria Nicholias and John Henry Nichols are indeed children of William Nicholas (Nichollias) and Isabella Rayner. The report also confirms that the John Henry Nichols who would later marry Anne Laura Cane is Isabella's son as the McAuley family were witnesses to their marriage. Why John would have sided with the McAuley family against his mother in this issue is unknown, although there may have been a bad relationship between John Nicholas (Nichols) and his step father Joseph Knight. The family also came to be divided on religious grounds, with John and his descendants predominantly Roman Catholic, in opposition to the his parent's Protestant and Quaker history. Anna Maria Nichollias was obviously in some form of relationship with a Thomas Lock as they had one son that has been traced. Thomas Lock Jnr. was born on 14 November 1870 in Hobart, Tasmania.33 The relationship doesn't appear to have persisted, as it known that Anna stayed in Tasmania and lived under her birth name. The identity of Thomas Lock Snr. is currently unknown. Two convicts arrived with that name, one arrived in 1841 on the David Clarke and the other in 1845 on the Marion. The Marion convict is well known in association with his Convict Love Token which is held by the National Library of Australia. The Lock family is still being researched. In November 1871 Joseph Knight was charged with having cattle at large in Hill street. The incident demonstrates that the family continued to maintain livestock at their West Hobart allotment as a contributor to their livelihood.
Cattle at Large - Joseph Knights was charged with having on 23rd October permitted two heifers and two calves to be at large in Hill street. The City Inspector stated that on the day in question he observed the animals named in the information at large in Hill street, No one being in charge of them he drove them to Argyle street pound. To defendant: He took the cattle, four in number, in charge in Hill street. No one was with them. As he was taking them to pound one other ran with them. Edward Chapman, poundkeeper, at Argyle street, remembered the City Inspector impounding two heifers and two calves, not on the 23rd October, as stated in the information, but on the 25th. As there was a difference in the dates, the Bench had no alternative but to dismiss the case.34
In February 1872 Joseph was also reported as contributing to his local community as chairperson for a meeting of electors in West Hobart
MR. RICHARDS' MEETINGS. Mr. Richards addressed a respectably attended meeting of the electors at eight o'clock yesterday evening at Mr. Bain's, Freemasons' Arms, Murray street, Mr. Joseph Knight in the chair. The chairman having introduced the candidate in a lengthy speech, Mr. Richards proceeded to expound his political views to the same effect as at previous meetings, and concluded by urging the electors to hasten to the poll on Tuesday (this) morning and record their votes in his favour. The candidate having, in reply to queries, expressed himself in favour of promoting education among the working classes, and of imposing an income and property tax to relieve the Customs, a vote of confidence in him as a fit and proper person to represent West Hobart was unanimously adopted on the motion of Mr. Spence, seconded by Mr. Thompson. The proceedings terminated with a vote of thanks to the chairman.35
In March 1872 Joseph Knight was reported as being recovering after being gored by a bull.
Gored by a Bull — A day or two ago says the Mercury, Mr. Joseph Knight, of Landsdowne Crescent, was very severely gored by a bull, which inflicted a wound in his side four inches in length, and about one in depth. As it happened, the accident was fortunately observed by Mrs Knight, who laid hold of a cudgel and gave the animal a sound thrashing which caused him to scamper off. Mr Knight was attended by Dr. Carns, who sewed up the wound, and he is now, we understand, progressing favourably.36
Just two months later Isabella Nichols (nee Rayner) died in Hobart, Tasmania on 15 May 1872, she was 54. Isabella's decline must have been quite sudden given her vigorous defence against the bull that gored her partner in March. The cause of her death was recorded as "Congestion of the Liver and General Disability", and her rank or profession was recorded as "Farmer's Widow". The death registration cited the place of death as Hill Street but strangely enough stated that Isabella was "Born [in] England". The informant was William Clarke the undertaker, so whoever certified Isabella's death was obviously under the impression that was her birth place.37 In the month following Isabella's death Joseph Knight appeared in the Mercury in unusual circumstances, as a witness to the identity of the Tichborne Claimant as being Arthur Orton, a man who Joseph claimed worked for him in the early to mid 1850s. In 1866 Thomas Castro, a butcher from Wagga Wagga in Australia, claimed to be Roger Tichborne, the heir to the Tichborne estates and baronetcy who had been declared lost at sea in 1854. During the protracted court proceedings that followed Castro's claim, evidence was produced that Castro might in fact be Arthur Orton, attempting to secure the Tichborne fortunes by imposture.38
ANOTHER LINK IN THE TICHBORNE-CUM-ORTON CASE. The article which appeared in The Mercury of yesterday copied from the London Standard, in which the career of Arthur Orton was traced, having come under the notice of Mr. Knight, of this city, he has furnished us with the following particulars of his knowledge of Orton whilst in this colony. Mr. Knight, who carried on business in Murray-street, is the butcher referred to in the Standard article with whom Orton found employment on his arrival in Hobart Town. Mr. Knight, who carried on business for nearly twenty years in this city, states that Orton was in his employ either in 1854 or '55, and remained with him up to the time of his leaving the colony to proceed to the service of Mr. Forster, of Gipps Land, Victoria. The statement as to his having taken a butcher's shop in the New Market is Mr. Knight thinks, erroneous, as he left for Gipps Land immediately on quitting his employment at Mr. Knight's, During Orton's period of service with Mr. Knight the latter had many conversations with him regarding his birth, and the course of life which he had led. In these conversations Orton told Mr. Knight that he had first come to the colony with a consignment of Shetland ponies for Mr. T. D. Chapman, of Tasmania. His brother in London imported these ponies from the Shetland Islands. His father was, he said, a butcher, in Wapping, and it was by this means that he became acquainted with the butchering business. Orton stated that he had been at Valparaiso in South America, and knew the use of the lasso, it having been employed there by him in catching buffaloes and wild cattle. He told Mr. Knight that he arrived by the ship Middleton. Mr. Knight, who is a retired pedestrian, and has been a very fair specimen of what is known as a "sporting butcher," says that when Orton was in his service, he matched him to fight for £10 a-side, with a man known as "Bob Bell, the cabman." Mr. Knight was a connoisseur in the selection of likely pedestrians and promising aspirants for the destinations of the prize ring, and his close study of the physique of Orton, when judging of his chances of success with his cab driving adversary, would, he says, enable him to identify him anywhere. This prize fight did not, however, come off, the "articles " not being completed ; the first deposit of £5 a-side was mutually withdrawn. The money was staked with a Mr. Matthew Wilkes, publican of the White Conduit House, Murray-street. Mr. Knight had, he says, many opportunities of observing closely the person of Orton, as he often saw him stripped when using the dumb bells and boxing gloves, in both of which exercises he was very proficient He was not a good butcher, and could not be trusted with "slaughtering work," only inferior jobs at butchering being given to him. In fact, according to our informant, he was more reliable as a "bruiser" than a butcher. As bearing upon Orion's weight when in Mr. Knight's employ, one of the conditions of the fight, as arranged, was that he was not to exceed twelve stone on the day fixed for the encounter. Mr. Knight says he could identify Orton by his mouth, which was much shattered and out of shape, a circumstance which Orton accounted for by stating that he had had frequent falls from horses. Although a young man at the time spoken of, Orton had not a sound tooth in his head. Mr. Knight says he could recognise Orton from among a thousand others, by the peculiar disfigurement of his mouth.39
Joseph Knight died a pauper in the Cascades Invalid Depot in South Hobart on 29 August 1877, aged 69, from senilis. Joseph was recorded as being born in England, and the informant was the Cascades Invalid Depot Superintendent.40
- 1. Frederick Mackie: Traveller Under Concern; Edited with an Introduction by Mary Nicholls; University of Tasmania, 1973
- 2. AOT Convict Conduct Record CON33/1/49
- 3. AOT Convict Conduct Record CON33/1/49 and Description List CON18/1/41
- 4. AOT Convict Conduct Record CON33/1/49 and Indent CON14/1/25
- 5. AOT Convict Appropriation List CON27/1/10
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- 11. AOT Birth Registration RGD 1857/1037
- 12. AOT Marriage Registration RGD 1858/110
- 13. Wrathall Family History, Wrathall, (http://www-mugc.cc.monash.edu.au/~awral).
- 14. "MAYOR'S COURT.—THIS DAY." The Courier (Hobart, Tas. : 1840 - 1859) 11 Nov 1858: 2. Web. 25 Jun 2014; http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2465079.
- 15. "POLICE OFFICE." The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) 18 Sep 1860: 2. Web. 9 Jun 2014; http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8793096.
- 16. AOT Birth Registration RGD 1861/4350
- 17. AOT Marriage Registration RGD 1863/86
- 18. They Came to Preach and Prosper, Read, Kenneth J., (Privately Published).
- 19. "LAW MAYOR'S COURT." The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) 31 Jul 1863: 2. Web. 9 Jun 2014; http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8819617.
- 20. From "LAW." The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) 27 Jan 1864: 2. Web. 9 Jun 2014; http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8824135.
- 21. AOT Death Registration RGD 1865/5914
- 22. The Mercury 17 September 1865
- 23. AOT Inquest Records SC 195/50 No. 5984
- 24. The Mercury Saturday 23 September 1865, page 3
- 25. "LAW." The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) 28 Oct 1865: 2. Web. 9 Jun 2014; http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8835733.
- 26. "POLICE COURT." The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) 16 Nov 1865: 2. Web. 9 Jun 2014; http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8836042.
- 27. "LAW." The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) 27 Nov 1865: 2. Web. 9 Jun 2014; http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8836251.
- 28. "LAW." The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) 7 Dec 1865: 3. Web. 9 Jun 2014; http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8836409.
- 29. "POLICE COURT." The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) 5 Jul 1866: 2. Web. 9 Jun 2014; http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8840283.
- 30. The Mercury 29 Sep 1866
- 31. The Mercury 4 Oct 1866
- 32. Daniels, Lou: The Rayner Family; Privately Published; 30 Dec 1999
- 33. AOT Birth Registration RGD 1870/1490
- 34. "LAW INTELLIGENCE." The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) 17 Nov 1871: 2. Web. 9 Jun 2014; http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8870561.
- 35. "WEST HOBART ELECTION." The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) 6 Feb 1872: 2. Web. 9 Jun 2014; http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8914804.
- 36. "THE MERCURY AND THE LAUNCESTONIANS." The Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston, Tas. : 1835 - 1880) 4 Mar 1872: 3. Web. 9 Jun 2014; http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66029511.
- 37. AOT Death Registration RGD 1872/916
- 38. Wikipedia: Arthur Orton; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Orton
- 39. "THE MERCURY." The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) 22 Jun 1872: 2. Web. 7 Jun 2014; http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8921017.
- 40. AOT Death Registration RGD 1877/715