Constable Daniel RILEY


Constable Daniel RILEY



September, 1836


The Sydney Morning Herald of 29 September, 1836 reported that “A constable named Riley, at Goulburn, was drowned some days since in the Wollondilly. The unfortunate man is supposed to have been intoxicated, and in that state stripped himself and went in to bathe. The body was afterwards found in the same spot where Riley had gone into the water, although, what is most remarkable, it was a running stream.”


The Sydney Monitor of 1 October, 1836 mentioned the constable’s death in a slightly different light, reporting that “The recent rains, in all parts of the country, have swollen the rivers and creeks to a considerable degree, thereby rendering them unfordable. Several persons, in attempting to cross them during last week were drowned. One of these unfortunate persons was a man named Riley, a constable of Goulburn.”


Letters received by the Colonial Secretary provide an interesting insight into both the incident and Riley himself.


State Records NSW: NRS 905, Letter No.36/6819 [4/2330.1] re Daniel Riley (drowned) indicate that the constable left Moses Inn on 19July 1836 and was subsequently found drowned. There was no mark of violence upon the body and as I now understand Riley was much addicted to drinking, and has nearly met with a similar end sometime ago while under the influence of liquor, thus is little room for doubt that he had stumbled into the river the night he was seen leaving Moses Inn (the 19 June) [sic, actually July from accompanying letter], and being much intoxicated he was unable to regain the bank. It should also be noted from his petition for a conditional pardon in 1836 (SRNSW: NRS 905, Letter No. 36/3852 [4/2326.1])that Daniel Riley [recorded in the petition as Reilly] “was the constable who led and assisted the Horse Police in the capture of three notorious bushrangers who had infested the Argyle Road and it appeared in evidence given at the time that he acted with great promptitude, courage and forebearance” according to H.C. Antill, the Police Magistrate for Stonequarry. Riley had arrived as a convict on the ship Guildford 8 on 4 November 1829, having been sentenced to life at Armagh on 12 March 1829 for manslaughter. He was appointed as a constable in 1831 and “his general conduct [was] irreproachable”.


At the time of his death the constable was stationed at Goulburn.

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