Inspector Peter PROSSER

Murdered – Clubbed to death


23 January, 1839

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 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.


A ‘waddy’, it is believed, is similar to an Aboriginal nulla nulla.  A waddy is a heavy club constructed of carved timber and could also be a walking stick.

Three Aboriginal nulla nulla waddy clubs, carved in…