HC Deb 21 June 1843 vol 70 cc179-80
Lord Stanley

said, in reply to a question put by Mr. Ewart, having had an opportunity of looking at the documents in the Colonial-office, he was able to state the facts of the case to which the hon. Gentleman alluded, as they had been reported to him by the Governor. Some time ago. at Norfolk Island, a very desperate attack was made by a body of convicts employed in discharging a vessel which had brought provisions and other stores from Sydney. There was a crew of eighteen persons in the vessel, besides a sergeant and eleven men, and the prisoners amounted to only twelve. These were left on the deck with two sentinels, the whole of the crew and the rest of the guard being below. Under these circumstances, in broad daylight, and within view of the shore, the prisoners suddenly turned on the sentinels, pinioned them, threw them overboard, fastened down the hatches, and took possession of the ship. After a considerable time the guards and crew succeeded in recovering possession; but so desperate was the resistence made by the convicts, that five of them were killed, besides one of the crew. All the prisoners were desperate characters, having been convicted in England, and afterwards for various offences in New South Wales. They were all put on their trial for the piratical seizure of the vessel, and six out of the seven were found guilty. Sentence of death was passed on those convicted, and carried into execution on the four who appeared to have taken the most prominent part in the transaction, by the advice of the executive council, whom the governor consulted on the occasion, and who were unanimous in their opinion. It did not appear, however, that there were any circumstances out of the ordinary course in carrying the sentence into effect. The representations, therefore, which had been made by the single individual from whom the petition cattle were founded in error, as there had been nothing of an objectionable character in the circumstances.

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