Late of ?
New South Wales Police Force
Regd. # Not listed on NSW State Govt. Archives – Registers of Police
Rank: Patrolman – appointed 6 August 1834
Conductor – appointed 1 January 1835
Conductor – Dismissed
Patrolman – appointed 1 April 1835
Conductor – appointed 12 July 1835
Inspector – appointed ? ? ?
Final Rank = Inspector
Stations: ?, Sydney Police
Service: From ? ? ? to 23 January 1839 = ? years Service
Awards: No find on It’s An Honour
Born: ? ? 1812 – 1813?
Died on: Wednesday 23 January 1839
Cause: Murdered – Clubbed to death with a Nulla Nulla ( Waddy ) * see below
Event location: Phillip St, Sydney
Event date: Monday 21 January 1839
Funeral date: Friday 25 January 1839
Funeral location: ?
Wake location: ?
Funeral Parlour: ?
Buried at: Devonshire St Cemetery, Sydney – January 1839.
In 1901 his remains were exhumed to make space for Central Railway Station and re-interred, with thousands of others and 2285 tombstones of the first settlers in Australia, at the new cemetery at La Perouse, named Bunnerong Cemetery.
In 1976, the Botany Cemetery Trust destroyed most of these historic monuments by creating a new, low maintenance lawn area. The remaining 746 headstones were reinstalled in concrete strips, unrelated to the graves below them. The new lawn was named Pioneer Memorial Park.
The words recorded as being on his original tombstone are “Peter, the son of Edward and Mary Ann PROSSER, who was struck by John PENDER; in the execution of his duty 25th January 1839 which caused his death in 48 hours. He was an Inspector in the Sydney police and an Active officer. also sisters Adeliza and Jane, passengers in the ship ‘Fairlie’.
Adeliza buried at the Cape in October ???? Jane aged 16 years. Adeliza aged 29 years. Peter aged 26 years”.
Memorial located at: ?
[alert_green] PETER IS mentioned on the Police Wall of Remembrance[/alert_green]
FURTHER INFORMATION IS NEEDED ABOUT THIS PERSON, THEIR LIFE, THEIR CAREER AND THEIR DEATH.
PLEASE SEND PHOTOS AND INFORMATION TO Cal
May they forever Rest In Peace
On the afternoon of 21 January, 1839 a man named John Pender ( known to Sydney police as “Jack the Waterman“ ) was behaving in an indecent manner in Raynor’s Public House, Sydney. As a result of his behaviour he was arrested by Inspector Prosser who began to march him to the Sydney Police Watch-house.
En route they passed Pender‘s home in Phillip Street where a mob attacked the inspector and dragged his prisoner into the house. Prosser clung to his prisoner desperately however, until he received a blow from a club to the back of his neck, which resulted in his death a few days later in hospital. Pender was quickly apprehended and charged with murder, while five others were also charged in relation to the riot.
The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser of 24 January, 1839 reported the incident in some detail.
On Monday afternoon a man named John Pender, well known about the town as the driver of a water-cart, and a bad character, went into the public-house of Mr. Rayner at the corner of Hunter and Phillip-streets and in the absence of the landlord was guilty of much indecent behaviour.
He was remonstrated with by the landlady, but this seemed to have the effect of urging him on to still farther excesses. He approached Mrs. R., who was behind the bar, when she took up a New Zealand waddy to defend herself; this the brute wrested from her, and after having struck her he left the house, flourishing the weapon over his head and making a great noise.
He was perceived at the time by Inspector Prosser, who was approaching alone. Prosser came up behind him unperceived and took the waddy from him, and desired him to accompany him to the watch-house.
Pender accompanied the Inspector a short distance, when, stopping suddenly, he turned round and struck Prosser a violent blow on the face with his fist, which knocked him down. While he was on the ground, the man stooped down and snatched the waddy from the hands of the Inspector, and as the latter was rising to his feet he struck him a tremendous blow with it on the back of his neck, and then ran into his own house which was close at hand.
“A mob of blackguards, as usual on such occasions, soon assembled on the spot, and although they witnessed this unprovoked outrage none among them were inclined to render the poor fellow any assistance, but rather endeavoured to screen the villain and hasten his escape. After a few moments Prosser was seen to get on his feet with difficulty and move on towards the watch-house, holding his hands to his head. He shortly afterwards met Sergeant Kilpatrick, and desired him to go and apprehend Pender who, he said, had murdered him.
Killpatrick hastened to the station-house for assistance, and procured that of the two keepers, the only persons present, and the three then returned to Phillip-street.
In the meantime, the wounded Inspector got to the watch-house, and was shortly afterwards found by Sergeant Partington lying across one of the benches, nearly dead; he called for assistance, and Mr. Driver, the publican, attended and with vinegar attempted to revive him.
Dr. Whittle, who was near the spot, was then sent for; he immediately attended and by copious bleeding restored animation, but Prosser continued in such a dangerous state that his immediate removal to the Hospital was recommended and performed.
The Police had in the interim secured Pender and five or six other persons who appeared to take a prominent part in the mob assembled in Phillip Street.”
The Sydney Morning Herald dated 25 January, 1839 printed the following brief account of the inquest into Inspector Prosser‘s death.
An inquest was held at the same place the same day, on the body of Peter Prosser, lately an Inspector of the Sydney Police. The evidence was very lengthy but the substance was very simple, viz, that Prosser had a man named Pender in custody, and that Pender in order to make his escape struck the deceased a blow on the head with a New Zealander’s waddy, which was so violent as to cause an extra vasation of blood on the brain, from the effects of which Prosser died. The Jury returned a verdict of willful murder against Pender, who was committed on the Coroner’s warrant.
At the time of his death the inspector was aged 26 and was attached to the Sydney Police.
Judging by newspaper accounts of the time, he was a courageous and energetic policeman who seemed to have worked tirelessly against violent offenders in the inner city of Sydney. He is not listed in the official New South Wales Police Honour Roll.
It would appear that the Rank structure of this period ( 1835 ) was:
Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Saturday 9 August 1834, page 4
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 6.
HIS Excellency the GOVERNOR has been pleased to approve of the following Alterations in the Police of the Colony, namely
John Price, free, to be Conductor, from the 18th June.
To be Patrolman – James Woodward, free, from the 25th June; John Murray, free, from the 5th July ; Peter Prosser, free, from the 8th ultimo; John Gorman, free, from the 14th ultimo ; Edward Tierney, free, and John McCarthy, free, from the 15th ultimo ; Bryant Naughton, free, from the 16th ultimo ; Michael Armstrong, free, from the l7th ultimo, and James Cook, free, from the 18th ultimo.
Thomas McConnell, free, to be Constable at the North Shore, from the 16th June, and James Woodward, free, to be Constable of the Water Police, from the 5th July.
John William Smith, Constable, North Shore, on the 15th June.
Patrolmen – John Sullivan, on 24th June ; Patrick Muleady, on the 7th ultimo; James Drew and Patrick Dougharty, on the 13th ultimo ; David Leighton, on the 14th ultimo , George Stewart, on the 15th ultimo; and Patrick Curran, and John Sheehy, on the 17th July.
Water Police Constable — Alexander Lee, on the 4th July,
William Berry, free, to be Constable in the room of William Carroll, resigned.
Edward Gaynor, holding a Ticket-of-Leave, to be Constable, from the 14th ultimo, in the room of Daniel McFarlane, resigned.
Michael Cotton, holding a ticket-of-Leave, to be Constable, in the room of John Jaggers, resigned.
By His Excellency’s Command,
Colonial Secretary’s Office,
New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 – 1900), Wednesday 21 January 1835 (No.151), page 45
Colonial Secretary’s Office,
Sydney, 20th January, 1835.
HIS Excellency the GOVERNOR has been pleased to approve of the following alterations in the Police of the Colony ; namely,—
To be Conductors.— Edward Rollins and Peter Prosser, raised from Patrolmen, from the 1st instant.
To be Patrolmen.— William Elkins, and to be Market Constable, from the 1st instant ; Mark Gilmore, Michael O’Neal, William Howarth, Thomas Barrett, James Carwell, and William Barnett, from the 1st instant ; James Matthews, Robert Lodge, John Hundley, and James Kennedy, from the 9th instant ; and John McCarthy, from the 13th instant.
Conductors Dismissed.— William Barnett, reduced to Patrolman.
Patrolmen Dismissed.— George Brereton, Market Constable ; Herbert Green, James Matthews, John Cummings, James Carwell, John Smith, Peter Butler, Peter Christie, and Peter Colgan.
By His Excellency’s Command,
New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 – 1900), Wednesday 29 April 1835 (No.165), page 257
Colonial Secretary’s Office,
Sydney, 28th April, 1835.
HIS Excellency the GOVERNOR has been
pleased to approve of the following alterations
in the Police of the Colony, namely :—
SYDNEY.— To be Wardsman : George Mitchell, from the 6th instant.
To be Conductors : Philip Boyce, from the 1st, John Moore, from the 7th, William Hanson, from Joe 14th, and John Matthews, from the 20th of April.
To be Patrolmen : Peter Prosser, James Shaw, Archibald Kelley, and Dennis Connelly, from the 1st instant ; Thomas Kinchela, from the 14th instant, ; John Thorn, John Pendar, James Jackson and William Troop, from the 16th instant ; John Price, and William Vernon, from the 17th, and Patrick Galvin, from the 20th of April.
Wardsman resigned : John Skinner.
Conductors Dismissed : Peter Prosser, Patrick Ogan, and John Price.
Patrolmen resigned : William Howarth, John Gorman, James Tobin.
Patrolmen dismissed : Robert Grindle, James Cone, John Carey, John Connor, James Wells, Patrick Fitzpatrick, and L. Walsh.
LIVERPOOL.— George Harvey, holding a Ticket-of-leave, to be Constable, from the 20th Instant, in the room of Denis McCarthy, resigned.
PENRITH.— John Baxter, free, to be Constable, from the 26th Ultimo, in the room of John Brown, dismissed.
BONG BONG.— John Coffee and Lawrence Larken, free, to be Constables— the former in the room of, James Harper, resigned, and the latter from the 20th Instant, in the room of William Austin, dismissed.
YASS.— James Donald, free, to be Constable, from the 20th of February last.
MERTON.— Jeremiah Burns, holding a Ticket-of-leave, to be Constable, from the 6th Ultimo, in the room of Thomas Boline, resigned.
PORT STEPHENS.— John McCarthy, free, to be Constable, in the room of Edward Frost, resigned.
By His Excellency’s Command,
New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 – 1900), Wednesday 29 July 1835 (No.178), page 518
Colonial Secretary’s Office, Sydney, 28th July, 1835.
HIS EXCELLENCY the Governor has been pleased to approve of the following alterations in the Police of the Colony, viz. :—
To be Wardsman.— William Abbott, from the 1st instant.
To be Conductors.— Matthew Thomkins and John Price, from the 1st instant ; James Shaw, from the 4th instant ; Peter Prosser, from the 12th instant.
To be Patrolmen.— Patrick Conner, William Moore, William Cox, John Kelly and Stephen Bunen, from the 1st instant ; Thomas Lynskey, from the 4th instant ; Timothy Foley and Andrew White, from the 8th instant ; James Pearson, Samuel Deacon, and Samuel Freebury, from the 12th instant.
Wardsman resigned.— William Small.
Conductor resigned.— Constantine Molloy.
Conductor Patrick Reid, reduced to Patrolman on 30th ultimo.
Wardsman dismissed.— William Abbott.
Patrolmen dismissed.— William Brown, William McCready, James McGruggan, William Noop, Patrick Petty, Thomas Phillips, John Hauley, Michael Armstrong.
Daniel McCarthy, holding a Ticket-of-leave, to be Constable, from the 18th instant, in the room of James Silvester, resigned.
William Rossborough, holding a Ticket-of-leave, and Thomas Shuttleworth, also holding a Ticket-of leave, to be Constables, in the room of Ralph Hodgson and Henry Workman, dismissed— the former from the 10th and the latter form the 30th ultimo.
Constable John Brest, dismissed on the 20th instant.
By His Excellency’s Command, ALEXANDER McLEAY.
Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser (NSW : 1838 – 1841), Wednesday 13 February 1839, page 2
Before Mr. Justice Willis and a Civil Jury.
John Pendar, alias “‘ Jack the Waterman” was tried yesterday for the murder of Inspector Prosser.
The case occupied Mr Justice Willis and a civil Jury up to half-past nine o’clock, when the Jury returned a verdict of manslaughter.
Mr Windeyer was counsel for the defence, and raised three objections – which were,
that there was no proof of drunkenness to warrant the deceased in taking the prisoner into custody,
that the prisoner would have been justified in using force to any degree to expel the constable, who was in fact transgressing on his premises, and
lastly the learned gentleman relied upon a statute ; which he believed was in force, as far back as Henry the Eighth ( which had never been repealed ; rendering fatal any indictment not drawn up in intelligible English, and
contended that ” Waddy” was not an English word, and therefore fatal to the indictment.
These objections were reserved and the prisoner remanded for sentence.
The court was crowded during the whole time.
Commercial Journal and Advertiser (Sydney, NSW : 1835 – 1840), Wednesday 20 February 1839, page 2
James Pendar alias Jack the Waterman, for the manslaughter of Inspector Prosser, was brought up for sentence yesterday, and ordered to be transported for the term of his natural life to Norfolk Island.
Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 21 February 1839, page 2
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 1839.
(Before their Honors the Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Willis.)
On this day there being no cases ready for trial, the prisoners remanded during the Sessions were brought up for sentence.
John Pender was next placed at the bar. The prisoner had been tried for the wilful murder of Peter Prosser, a policeman, and had been found guilty of manslaughter.
Mr. Justice Willis, before whom the case was tried, said to the prisoner that the mercy of the Jury had saved his life in finding him guilty of manslaughter – the manslaughter was of a more aggravated nature than he had ever known or heard of.
The police must be protected in their duty, and should be protected.
His sentence was that he should be transported for life.
Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Saturday 26 January 1839, page 2
Coroner’s INQUEST. –
On Thursday morning at nine o’clock an Inquest was held upon the body of Prosser, the late Inspector of Police, who died in the General Hospital on the preceding day. The Jury assembled at the sign of the Bunch of Grapes ( King St ), whence they proceeded to the Hospital to view the body, and then returned to the Jury room, where the following evidence was taken :
John Pender, the man charged with the murder, being in custody.
Jane Rayner, of Phillip-street, being sworn stated, I knew the deceased Peter Prosser, and the prisoner before the Court ( John Pender ); I keep a public-house.
On Monday afternoon the prisoner came into my house very tipsey; he made use of very bad language to me, and I refused to serve him, telling him if he could not use better language to me he should leave the place; he then turned round and exposed his naked person to me twice ; I took up a jug of water and threw it over him, and desired him to be off about his business for an impudent blackguard ; that appeared to enrage him the more ; he turned towards me as if he would strike me; I took up a New Zealand waddy to defend myself as he was making to me ; he snatched it from me, and struck me a blow across the shoulder, and afterwards made several blows at me with the waddy, which I avoided ; I thought he would kill me, and I sent my little girl to the watch-house for a constable ; the prisoner then went into the street making a noise, and flourishing the waddy ; in the mean time Prosser came up, and seeing how badly the prisoner behaved, who was storming violently, and flourishing the waddy, he approached him, and I cautioned him of the weapon the prisoner held in his hand ;
Prosser came up behind the prisoner, and took the waddy out of his hand ; and collared him ; the prisoner forced himself into my house in the custody of the deceased, and said he would not go to the watch-house; I told the deceased of his bad behaviour, and said I would appear the next day against the prisoner;
the deceased then told him he must go to the watch-house ; the prisoner tried to get away by the back door, but the deceased stopped him ; at this time a mob of persons had come into the house ; with some difficulty the deceased induced the prisoner to go quietly with him ; they left the house together; I cannot say which of them had the waddy as I was so confused ; I did not leave the place to look outside to see which way they went, but I saw that they turned towards the watch-house ; they had to pass the prisoner’s house on their way there; the deceased had much difficulty with the prisoner in the house ; I cannot say whether the prisoner was struck ; the deceased had to scuffle with him to make him submit and go with him ; I am dull of hearing, and cannot say whether the prisoner made use of any threatening language to the deceased, but they struggled a good deal with each other ; I saw nothing after they left the house.
By the Prisoner. – I cannot say that I saw any blows struck ; there was much struggling; several people were in the house; Mr. Roberts‘ servant was there.
George Clark, free, was then sworn. I recollect seeing the deceased and prisoner in Mrs. Rayner‘s house on Monday last; I saw Mrs. Rayner point out and give charge of the prisoner to deceased ; Prosser came behind him, snatched the waddy out of his hand, and dragged the prisoner towards the watch-house; the prisoner struggled, and seized hold of a fence, on which the deceased pushed at him with the staff or waddy ; they both got back to Rayner‘s ; I looked in and saw a struggle ; the prisoner attempted to get out by the back door and the deceased either struck or knocked him down ; he was down ; they had some high words in the house, and the prisoner took the staff from Prosser, on which the latter attempted to get it again ; the prisoner refused to let him have it, and said he should not have it, but he would go to the watch-house ; they then went quietly that way, the prisoner holding the staff;
I stood at the corner to watch them ; as they passed the prisoner’s house the prisoner forced himself in ; they had a scuffle ; I went down to them, and saw that Prosser had got the staff from him, and was shaking the prisoner to get him to the watch-house; the prisoner refused, on which the deceased struck him a blow on the head ; the prisoner refused to go to the watch-house, and wanted to get into his own house; I cannot say what occurred immediately in the house ; in about a minute I saw Prosser staggering out holding his hands to his head ; I could not tell whether he said any thing, as there was such a noise at the time; a young man had the waddy in his hand, and said, ” that shall not be used again.”
No one else came out of the house but the deceased ; Prosser went towards the watch-house; he continued reeling as he walked along the street as far as four or five houses; I was not exactly opposite the prisoner‘s house, and could not see into it ; the young man before mentioned was in the yard of the prisoner about a minute after the deceased came but ; the deceased was then going out of the yard, and the prisoner was in his own house; I saw some blood coming down the head of the deceased, but I saw no mark upon his face ; I did not notice the young man who had the waddy until after Prosser came out of the house ; if he had come out of the house I must have seen him ; I walked out of the yard after the deceased into Phillip-street, as I thought he would fall, and I did not return ; Prosser was coming out of the prisoner‘s house when I arrived ; he had no hat on ; I heard no noise of blows when I came to the door ; I should know the person of the young man who had the waddy if I were to see him again; the prisoner and the deceased struggled very much for about seven or eight minutes before they went into the house ; they remained in about three or five minutes; I did not see Prosser fall, nor did I observe any marks of a fall upon his clothes; in about three minutes after I lost sight of Prosser while I was conversing with Mr. West opposite Pender‘s house ; I saw the prisoner standing opposite his fence going down the street, and two constables running round him to get in front of him ; the prisoner got over his fence, and was defending himself with the waddy, and the constables striking with their staves.
By the Prisoner.- I saw the deceased hit you several times; there were several marks upon you.
William Badcock examined- I recollect on Monday last, seeing the prisoner and the deceased in Phillip-street ; I saw the prisoner before he was in custody and afterwards ; I saw the struggle, and saw Prosser lay hold of the prisoner’s hair, and endeavour to knock his head against the door of Mr. Rayner‘s house; I also saw him endeavour to kick him, which the prisoner prevented by holding up his leg ; the prisoner got up and said he wished to speak to Prosser; they went quietly along Phillip-street, till another came up to the assistance of the deceased ; when opposite the prisoner‘s house a scuffle ensued ; I can’t say whether it was occasioned by the violence of the other constable or a desire of the prisoner to get into his house ; the other constable was evidently drunk, and struck the prisoner with his staff on the head ; the prisoner got to his own door, and Prosser sent the other constable away for assistance; the deceased had the waddy in his hand when he entered the house; I did not see the deceased strike prisoner any blows in the struggle that took place as they entered the house ; there was blood on the prisoner‘s face and shirt, which was produced by the blow of the drunken constable ; they entered the house and I followed them ; they were struggling on the bed, the deceased being uppermost ; Prosser was holding the prisoner‘s shirt collar with one hand, and thrusting his knuckles into his throat ; in my opinion with the intention of strangling him, and with the other arm trying to hold the waddy from the prisoner; in the struggle the prisoner succeeded in getting the waddy out of Prosser‘s hand, and the deceased held his hand upon the arm of the prisoner that had the waddy in it ; it was then the prisoner struck the deceased with the flat part of the waddy upon the top of his head ; he did not fall from the blow, but he put his hand to his head and cried “oh,” and walked out of the house and down Phillip-street as far as I then could see him ; he went away without his hat; I did not see the deceased strike the prisoner with the waddy ; I do not believe he struck him at all ; the prisoner was very drunk ; after the drunken constable had been despatched for assistance, the prisoner continued his resistance and violence to Mr. Prosser; I did not consider he intended to injure Mr. Prosser ; he was very lenient to him, and it was only on the deceased taking him by the throat, as I thought to strangle him, that he struck him ; I did not hear the sound of the blow, but it evidently stunned him ; I was so interested in the proceeding that I noticed only the actions of the parties; there was no other person in the house ; after the deceased left the house the prisoner pulled off his shoes and stockings, brandished the waddy, and was more violent than ever ; he only struck one blow ; he appeared stupidly as well as furiously drunk ; when in liquor he appeared almost mad ; I did not hear Prosser say anything to the prisoner in the house, he attempted to conquer him by force.
( Constable Bradley being produced, was identified by him as having struck the prisoner on the head. )
Sergeant ( William ) Kilpatrick of the Police was next examined.- He stated, on Monday last I was in the station-house when Bradley came in, between one and two o’clock, and said that a number of persons had assembled in Phillip street, and that Mr. Prosser was beaten and wanted assistance; I went there immediately with Bradley ; I met the deceased about fifteen or twenty yards from the prisoner‘s house ;
he held both his hands to his head and had his handkerchief to the left side of his face, where a scar appeared ; he turned round and pointed to the prisoner, who was in view with blood upon his shirt, and said, ” there’s the man, Kilpatrick, that struck me, take him into custody ;” he then walked on towards the watch-house ; I went in pursuit of the prisoner, who had a waddy in his hand and put himself in a posture to attack me; I secured him in his own house ; Bradley was with me, he struck the prisoner in my presence; he was perfectly sober.
( The witness here observed that almost immediately afterwards Bradley came to him in the watch-house and said that he heard that a charge of drunkenness had been preferred against him, and he wished him to smell his breath to see if he could distinguish any smell of liquor, he did so but could discover none. )
Bradley struck the prisoner so did I ; I made several blows at his hand with my staff to make him drop the waddy ; Bradley was not violent but cool and deliberate ; the prisoner did not say anything respecting Prosser; he was intoxicated and very violent; he made one determined blow at me with the waddy which I caught on my staff, the dent occasioned by it still remains ; I afterwards saw Prosser in the station-house, he seemed feeble and almost dead. ( The prisoner put a few unimportant questions that did not affect the evidence. )
One of the Jurymen, Mr. Driver, here stepped forward and observed to the Coroner that he saw Constable Bradley about ten minutes after the transaction, and he was then perfectly sober.
Dr. Robertson certified that the deceased was received into the Hospital about ten o’clock on Monday evening in a state of insensibility. There was a small scar of recent formation on his left cheek. On a post mortem examination of the body, he found on opening the skull a large quantity of extravasated blood on the back part of the brain, and the whole of the back part of the brain appeared to have been in a violent state of inflammation, sufficient to produce death. The effects, he was of opinion, were such as would have been produced by the blow of a flat, heavy instrument applied violently, such as a waddy. The extravasation and inflammation consequent thereon produced death.
Dr. Whittel corroborated the evidence of the other Doctor, as to the appearances on the post mortem examination. He in addition, stated that he had been called to attend the deceased shortly after he received the blow ; he bled him and recommended his removal to the Hospital.
The Coroner had commenced summing up the evidence, when it was intimated that a young man was present who was there at the time the blow was given.
He was called in and examined. He stated that his name was Manuel Josephson, and that he arrived at Pender‘s house when the deceased held the prisoner against the wall of the house. On their entering the house he could not tell which carried the waddy, but when they were inside ( the witness having followed them ) he saw the waddy lying on a chest beside the bed. As soon as Prosser observed it there he took it up to secure it, on which the prisoner snatched at it ; they struggled and the deceased got Pender down on the bed, but the prisoner succeeded in getting possession of the instrument with which he struck the deceased on his naked head.
Prosser arose from the bed after receiving the blow, and, uttering a cry, he staggered out of the house ; and shortly afterwards Pender was apprehended. He added, that in his opinion the deceased used no unnecessary violence in securing the prisoner.
The Coroner having summed up the evidence and explained the distinctions between manslaughter and murder, pointed out the fact of the prisoner being in the commission of an unlawful act, was given into the custody of a peace-officer, whose attempts to take him to the watch-house he resisted with a deadly instrument.
The jury, after a short consultation, returned a verdict of wilful murder against John Pender, who was forthwith committed on the Coroner’s warrant.
The prisoner is a man of low stature but of great apparent strength of body and very muscular, whereas the deceased was a man of very delicate habits of body.
The enquiry lasted seven hours.
Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Saturday 1 August 1835, page 4
By His Excellency’s Command,
Colonial Secretary’s Office, Sydney,
28th July 1835.
HIS Excellency the Governor has been pleased to approve of the following alterations in the Police of the Colony, vis –
To be Wardsman – William Abbott, from the 1st instant.
To be Conductors – Matthew Thompkins and John Price, from the 1st instant ; James Shaw, from the 4th instant ; Peter Prosser, from the 12th instant.
To be Patrolmen – Patrick Connor, William Moore, William Cox, John Kelly, and Stephen Bunen from the 1st instant ; Thomas Lynskey, from the 4th instant ; Timothy Foley and Andrew White,
from the 8th instant ; James Pearson, Samuel Deacon, and Samuel Freebury, from the 12th instant.
Wardsman resigned – William Small.
Conductor resigned – Constantine Molloy
Conductor Patrick Reid, reduced to Patrolman on the 30th ultimo.
Wardsman dismissed – William Abbott.
Conductor dismissed – Henry Ball.
Patrolmen dismissed – William Brown. William McCready, James McGruggIn, William Noop, Patrick Petty, Thomas Phillips, John Hanley, Michael Armstrong.
Daniel McCarthy, holding a Ticket-of-Leave, to be Constable, from the 18th instant, in the room of James Silvester, resigned.
William Rossborough, holding a Ticket-of-Leave, and Thomas Shuttleworth, also holding a Ticket of Leave, to be Constables, in the room of Ralph Hodgson and Henry Workman, dismissed-the former from the 10th and the latter from the 30th ultimo.
Constable John Brest, dismissed on the 30th instant.
By His Excellency’s Command,
Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser (NSW : 1838 – 1841), Friday 26 April 1839, page 2
Joseph Cutts , a free man, in the service of Mr. Thompson of Phillip-street, was charged by Constable Callaghan with assaulting him in the execution of his duty.
Callaghan deposed, that as he was passing a dray standing in Phillip-street, about half past seven on Monday evening, a dog under the dray ( chained ) flew at him.
He struck it in return. The prisoner said, he might as well strike him as strike his dog, and he would serve him as Prosser had been served by Jack the Waterman, and immediately struck him, the witness.
The drayman had a child in his arms, which he gave to a woman to hold, while he struck witness. He then made into his master’s house, and witness followed him, and struck him with his staff. He also sprang his rattle.
The prisoner denied having struck the constable, and called witnesses. —
Mary Mahany, a soldier’s widow, residing opposite the master of the prisoner, in Phillip street, deposed, that a person left a loaded team standing opposite her door, with a dog on the chain to guard it, while he went over the way to get tea, and she promised to mind it.
The constable came up drunk, the dog barked, and the constable began to irritate it with his staff, and said, if he had it off the chain, he would knock its brains out.
Witness told him, he had better let the dog alone, and go about his business. He called her a dirty w—–.
The prisoner, who was by with his child in his arms, said, he ought to be ashamed to make use of such language to the mother of children. He immediately ran over and knocked prisoner down twice with his child in his arms, and began springing his rattle and making a disturbance.
John Thomas, a dealer, deposed, that the constable was drunk, and corroborated the evidence of the last witness, as far as it went.
The constable also spit in witness’s face, and would have taken witness to the watch house, had he, witness, not got out of the way. ( When the last witness went into the box, he asked the constable if he had any recollection of him? He denied ever having seen his face before. I thought so, said the witness, you were too drunk. )
The constable was ordered to be reported.
Such is the case, as handed to us by our reporter.
We are surprised that men of such tact as Messrs. Windeyer and Innes, did not either order the witness into the box for gross perjury, or the constable; for grosser and more malicious impudent lies, were never told in a court of justice, than what must have been told by one or more of these opposing witnesses.
If Magistrates and Judges will not take the trouble to prosecute for perjury so glaring and open, as that which has evidently been committed by one or other of the witnesses in this case, the land will never be purged of this abominable and daily committed crime.
Smith’s Weekly (Sydney, NSW : 1919 – 1950), Saturday 17 November 1928, page 16
The WAR CLUB of DOOM
A Sailor’s Crime in Old Sydney Town
by The Man in the Mask
CALLOUSLY ATE PEARS IN THE DOCK
JOHN PENDER was an ardent collector of curios. In his rough, ignorant fashion, he expressed his love of the beautiful by picking up, from all the seaports of the world, things that were odd and rare, and fetching them to his bachelor home on the Strawberry Hills in Sydney.
Of the hardy sea-faring men of the ‘thirties he was one of the most adventurous. Wanderlust had taken him back and forth over the seven seas, to strange ports and strange lands. His little cottage was a veritable museum of curiosities, a centre of attraction for half the population of Sydney when the owner was ashore after one of his exciting voyages.
Pender, as is not uncommon with men of his calibre and peculiar mental composition, was loquacious concerning his exploits, and insistently eager to confirm the impression that he was more than an ordinary being.
Towards the end of 1838, Pender landed in Sydney after an adventurous trip to New Zealand, bringing back with him a large collection of Maori weapons, including a huge club with a greenstone head, taken by him in single-handed fight with a tattoed chief of the savages.
This curiously carved weapon was regarded by the sailor as the gem of his collection. He never tired relating the story of the fight that made it his, and day by day, he grew more boastful about its alleged intrinsic value.
Throughout the Christmas festivities, he paraded the street with the club over his shoulder, chanting war songs in outlandish tongue, and generally making a nuisance of himself to the more peaceably inclined citizens.
Inspector Peter Prosser, of the Sydney Police Force, did not look with any favor on Pender and his boisterous ways. On several occasions he reprimanded the sailor sternly for his obstreperous behaviour, once or twice driving him off the streets when his boasting and warlike antics with the greenstone club terrified passers by.
Pender was more disturbed than he showed by this unceremonious treatment at the hands of a high officer of the law. Having come to believe that his prowess gave him the right to swagger and riot through the streets of any sea-port town, he bitterly resented that his inclinations should be frustrated In the place where he had made his home, and on Monday, January 21, he was very much in evidence, parading the streets with the club in his hand and a Maori rug tied about his shoulders, loudly proclaiming that he was afraid of no man.
His eccentric behaviour did not seriously impede Sydney’s general affairs during the forenoon, and Inspector Prosser not being about, he progressed from inn to inn accumulating large quantities of spirits. During early afternoon he wandered into the bar of Mrs. Jane Rayner’s Inn in King Street, and, thumping the counter with his club, called for drinks for those assembled. The loungers about the place were only too willing to partake of his hospitality, but as the audience was too insignificant for the sailor, he visited the various parlors and tap-rooms and extended his invitation to the occupants. In this way he gathered another eight men into the bar, but at one parlor his peremptory invitation to drink was as peremptorily refused.
Three squatters from the interior, discussing a matter of important business, so resented his intrusion on their privacy that they threatened stern measures if he did not take himself off.
Pender was not far enough gone in drink to be thoroughly quarrelsome, but nevertheless he expressed his opinion of the squatters with such disgusting profanity that they rose to their feet. One of them rushed the sailor, and, taking him by the shoulders, thrust him down a passage into the street. Then he returned and, calling on his friends, left the house; Before going, however, he informed the landlady that neither he nor any of his associates would patronise the tavern again.
Loss of Profits
Mrs. Rayner was considerably put out at losing such profitable customers, and upbraided Pender in vigorous terms when he re-entered the bar a minute later. The seafarer, now furious and irresponsible, threatened to smash up the bar if anything more were said. The landlady was just as brave and determined as the sailor.
Seizing the war-club, which was lying on the counter, she brought it down with a heavy thwack on Pender‘s shoulders and threatened to crack his skull if he did not leave the premises. From her fortress behind the bar, the landlady whirled the stoneheaded weapon, striking at Pender whenever he attempted to seize it.
The half-crazed man was shouting loudly, and using dreadful language as he rushed about the room, creating such an uproar that a crowd quickly gathered in the street. When the disturbance was at its height, Inspector Prosser entered the bar. Taking in the situation at a glance, he rushed at the sailor, grasped him about the middle, and hurled him through the door. While Pender was attempting to rise, the inspector rushed him again and tried to handcuff him. Both men were of like build, and both in perfect physical condition. The sailor, despite the quantity of drink he had absorbed during the morning, was not greatly affected by his libations, and began to fight for his liberty. For half an hour the pair struggled and fought in the Street, none of the crowd offering to interfere.
Prosser, a skilful boxer, plied his fists vigorously, battering his antagonist’s face until it was a mask of blood, Pender, employing tactics of the sea-front, used his feet and hands impartially, but with scant success.
At length Prosser, planting a blow on Pender‘s jaw, felled him insensible to the ground.
When the sailor recovered he was manacled and helpless.
Signifying his intention to proceed quietly to the watch-house, he was permitted to rise, and, held by Prosser, moved down the street. Over his shoulder the inspector carried the war-club. As they were walking along, the sailor informed his captor that he would like to visit his home before going to prison, there being two cats and several birds in the house he desired to liberate.
Prosser, yielding to persuasion, diverted his progress towards Strawberry Hills, and a quarter of an hour later entered the sailor’s cottage with his prisoner. At the door the inspector was seen to unlock the handcuffs on the sailor’s wrists, a proceeding that many of those among the crowd that followed considered a dangerous proceeding.
No warning of this was shouted to the police officer, but when a few moments later he came reeling out through the door to collapse on the ground, those present realised that something tragic had occurred. In the Inspector‘s head was a ghastly wound, clearly caused by a blow from the war-club.
Two men, George Clark and Richard Roberts -rushed into the house. On the floor of the front room they found the blood-stained club. Pender they beheld escaping through the gate at the rear.
Sergt. W. Kilpatrick and Constable Boadley were soon in pursuit of the murderer. Through the streets they chased him, Pender running at a tangent, and screaming insanely of men he had killed in other parts of the world. People dashed from his path and took shelter in the houses. Doors were slammed in his face, but none attempted to lay hold of him. The police took him at last near the Hyde Park Barracks. He had turned at bay, producing a long sailor’s knife, with which he menaced his pursuers. The constables, however, furious at the death of their superior, braved the maddened seafarer, and overwhelmed him with their truncheons.
They battered him into unconsciousness and then, securing a wheelbarrow, trundled him to the Watch-house where he regained his senses.
At his trial some months later, Pender was the most unconcerned man in the court. He sat in the dock eating pears from a bag and spitting out the skin at the constables.
He refused to plead, or give any explanation of the tragic happening in the cottage, a course which decided his fate.
The Judge had nothing else to do but to order his execution.
The green-stone war-club was given to Mrs. Jane Rayner by a formal order of the court, for what reason was not apparent, and her descendants may have it to this day. .
“The Man in the Mask”