Ungodly Visitation

By Michaela Ann Cameron

Supported by a Create NSW Arts and Cultural Grant – Old Parramattans & Murder Tales

WARNING: This essay discusses a violent murder, which may be distressing to some readers. Reader discretion is advised.

In former, more religious times, when an individual expired suddenly from natural causes with no sign of any previous illness, coroners frequently returned a decidedly spiritual verdict that the deceased had ‘died by the visitation of God’—that it was simply God’s will that they immediately join Him in heaven. By this definition, then, there was nothing at all ‘godly’ about Mary Martin’s ‘visitation’ on the Sabbath morning of 15 June 1823…

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. Father John Therry [pictured above] thought highly of ex-convict Peter Martin, calling him ‘an honest, industrious & well conducted character.’ Father John Joseph Therry, by Wheeler & Co., engd. by H. S. Sadd, (1854?), P1 / 1745 / FL3295805, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.

The 15th of June 1823, in the fourth year of the reign of King George IV, was the Lord’s Day. So, about seven o’clock in the morning, fifty-six-year-old Peter Martin left his home on ‘the new Kissing-point road’ ‘in company with his servant man,’ Patrick Cormick, to attend Divine Service in Parramatta.[1] Martin, formerly ‘Gilmartin,’ was an ex-convict, but he was first and foremost a good, God-fearing Irishman. Only around eighteen months had passed and gone since he had donated his own hard earned money to fund the building of a Roman Catholic Chapel at Cadi (Sydney) in Cadigal Country.[2] Indeed, Father John Joseph Therry himself held Martin in great esteem as ‘an honest, industrious & well conducted character,’ and rightly so.[3] Ever since Martin’s capital conviction at Cora Droma Rúisc, Contae Liatroma (Carrick-on-Shannon, Leitrim) in April 1792 had been commuted to transportation for life aboard Boddingtons (1793), his conduct had been so ‘exemplary’ it had earned him his emancipation as early as 1806, and ‘by honest persevering industry he [had] realised on [his] purchased farm at the Field of Mars a property’ that consisted of ‘32 head of black or horned Cattle.’[4] The property had fully supported not only him and his wife, Mary, and their children, but also a number of servants who were fussed over by Mary and Peter when they were poorly, and ‘ate heartily’ at the Martins’ table where they were furnished with a ‘full and sufficient diet,’ including ‘black puddings’ supplied ‘gratis,’ as well as ‘tea, sugar and other comforts.’[5] Thus, one of those well-cared-for servants, the stockman James Holloway, dutifully took the Martins’ cattle ‘into the woods for grazing’ for the morning as planned shortly after Mr. Martin and Cormick left for church.[6]

Around eight o’clock, the Martins’ neighbour Mrs. Margaret Cronan was passing by the Martin property whilst also making her way to Mass, when a young convict she barely knew greeted her in a disconcertingly familiar way:

“Peggy, you are going very early this morning,” he called to her from two or three yards away.[7]

“Where I am going I do not like to be late,” she whipped back with a suitable amount of curtness.[8]

It was not solely because Dennis Nowland was a convict from the nearby road gang that Mrs. Cronan showed him such disdain.[9] Not only was her husband a convict who had been transported for life per Minerva (1800) as an Irish rebel, she had only just been freed by servitude herself; in fact, she had even spent time in the first Parramatta Female Factory.[10] Yet, despite what had to have been her own nerve-fortifying experiences as a transported convict, or perhaps because those experiences had forced her to become adept at reading people, this brief encounter triggered something in the most primal part of her being: fear. Nowland had rattled her by taking her off guard, being overly familiar, and rather too interested in her comings and goings. He was altogether menacing. She breathed easier as she saw him ‘turn off between some huts and the Martins’ house.’[11]

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. Detail showing “Pennant Street or Kissing Point Road.” This section is now known as f Road, Parramatta. The Martins’ farm was much further up the Kissing Point Road, in the Field of Mars, near One Tree Hill (Brush Farm Park, Dundas) and, thus, is not depicted here. The map detail is from Plan of the Town of Parramatta and the Adjacent Properties, as surveyed by W. Meadows Brownrigg (1844), M M4 811.1301/1844/1 / FL3690457, State Library of New South Wales.

Mrs. Cronan was soon among her brethren, including Mr. Peter Martin of course, piously communing with her Lord and Master in peace: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee…[12] Yes, even Mrs. Mary Martin—who did not attend church with her husband on this occasion but remained at home in her solitude—was ‘in the peace of God…and the King’ that fine June morning.[13] But while it may well have been the Lord’s Day, the Devil himself was afoot. For while Mrs. Mary Martin’s kin and neighbours prayed and wished each other well, an ungodly visitation between the hours of eight and twelve brought her life to an unnatural and premature end.[14]

By the time Mary’s husband Peter and their servant Patrick Cormick returned from church together around twelve o’clock, her body was already cold.[15] Cormick was the first to come upon the ‘frightful spectacle’ of ‘his Mistress lying dead a little distance from the house, dreadfully bruised on the head, the skull greatly fractured, and covered with a gore of blood.’[16] On sighting the body, Cormick ‘immediately called out for assistance but was not heard’ by his Master, who was still blissfully unaware of his new widower status.[17] The stockman Holloway, however, did hear ‘his fellow servant [Cormick] call out that his Mistress was murdered’ as he arrived home with the cattle.[18] Moments later, Peter Martin reached the spot where his partner of three decades, the ‘faithful and beloved wife’ he had left ‘but a few hours before…in perfect health,’ was now a lifeless corpse ‘stretched upon the ground,…shockingly disfigured with marks of violence.’[19]

Close to Mary’s poor, ‘bleeding and mangled corpse’ was ‘part of [a]…broken stick with a knob at the end,…bloody and with hair upon it.’[20] A more extensive medical examination by Humphrey Douglas, M. D. during the subsequent coronial inquest revealed that the murderer had ‘violently, feloniously, voluntarily and of his malice aforethought struck and pierced [her head]…with certain weapons…producing ‘several mortal wounds into the inner part of the head, of which…Mary Martin…[had] instantly died.’[21] While the inquest makes no mention of it, the Sydney Gazette added that ‘a fork had been driven through both the hands.’[22] If the Gazette’s addition was not merely an embellishment, the wounds inflicted upon Mary’s person may collectively indicate that, for her killer, it had not been enough to take her life; that ‘not having the fear of God before his…eyes, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the Devil,’ he had also deliberately evoked stigmata—mimicking the crucified Christ’s pierced hands and crown of thorns—in further mockery of the Lord’s Day.[23]

Who could have done such a thing to Mary? Not one of the three men could claim that they suspected even one person of the ‘sanguinary deed.’[24] But the question of ‘Why?’ was soon answered. Inside the Martins’ dwelling house the couple’s bedroom door, which had been locked, was ‘forced’ open.[25] The key to the door was still in Mary’s pocket.[26] ‘All the wearing apparel in the room was put on a sheet ready to tie up on the floor,’ undoubtedly to be resold, ‘but nothing taken’ as far as Martin could perceive aside from a quantity of money ‘which was taken from under his bed.’[27] There had been ‘about thirty pounds’ in all, twelve pounds of which had belonged to a Mr. James Lyons and had been ‘committed to [Peter Martin’s] care.’[28] ‘The money was in bills, Dollars, and dumps,’ consisting of three three-pound bills, six one-pound bills, and some smaller ones,’ and it was ‘all the money [Peter Martin] possessed.’[29] The robbery would leave Martin unable ‘to feed his Cattle stock’ and induce him—a proud man who had long shown such independence and habits of industry—to appeal to the ‘humane consideration’ of His Excellency, the Governor, Sir Thomas Brisbane to grant him ‘a portion of land’ to ‘in some degree obviate the inconvenience under which he’ had been forced to labour.[30]

It seems that the thief or thieves initially targeted the Martin house believing it to be entirely empty, since all the good folk of the Field of Mars were away at church and the stockman was off tending to the cattle. They had not considered that Mary remained there alone on the property and within earshot when they noisily broke through her bedroom door.[31] We can imagine them quickly searching the room and seizing the money, then turning their attention to the less valuable items of clothing, only to be interrupted by Mary rushing in to see what was amiss; the guilty party seeing her and abandoning the clothing they were in the midst of stealing in order to pursue her as she ran out of the house as fast as her fifty-two-year-old feet could carry her, no doubt crying for help—in vain.[32] For there was no one there to either hear her or aid her as they struck, pierced, and tore the life from the body that had endured an Irish gaol in Contae an Chláir (County Clare) and transportation on the convict ship Sugar Cane (1793), had adapted to an alien climate, had brought at least three babes into the world, and had toiled for all of those around her.[33]

The ‘most prompt and indefatigable exertions were made…to discover the perpetrators,’ with Coroner John Eyre leading the coronial investigation just hours after Mary’s demise.[34] Several ‘respectable Gentlemen of Parramatta and its vicinity,’ including James Elder, William Bean, Robert Batman, William Robert, George Smith, Charles Weavers, Edward Powell, Robert Armstrong, John Haywood, Andrew Snowden, Thomas Woodhouse, John Tuckwell and John Montgomery, served as jurors.[35] With the whereabouts of all those closest to Mary fully verified, the investigation immediately turned to ‘the adjoining [convict] road-parties’ of the ‘One Tree Hill gang’ in the region of Brush Farm Park, Dundas.[36] They were ‘strictly searched,’ and ‘several of the men were lodged in custody for further examination.’[37] A few of the convicts from the road gang, namely William Barry, Thomas Kief and Charles Connor, were brought in for questioning.[38] Despite having ‘no remembrance’ of what the Priest said [that] morning at Mass…particularly,’ Barry was found guilty only of inattention and underwhelming religiosity, because Mrs. Margaret Cronan was able to verify that she saw Barry at Mass the entire time; nor did she refute Barry’s claims that Kief and Connor were in attendance with him.[39] Still no closer to identifying the ruthless killer (or killers), the inquest was adjourned until the next morning at nine o’clock.[40]

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE. The nearby convict ‘road gang’ were ‘immediately suspected’ as the perpetrators of Mary Martin’s shocking murder. Augustus Earle, “A Government Jail [sic] Gang, Sydney, N. S. Wales,” Views in New South Wales and Van Diemens Land: Australian Scrap Book, (London: J. Cross, 1830), D F83/19-20 (set) / FL3540250, State Library of New South Wales.

The first witness to be questioned the following day was Mrs. Margaret Cronan.[41] In light of the shocking events, she had reflected on her strange and unnerving interaction with that other convict from the nearby road gang that fateful morning: Dennis Nowland. She gave her full account of what was said, Nowland’s proximity to her (‘two or three yards off,’ i.e. a couple of metres), as well as his proximity to the Martin property (‘a hundred rods,’ approximately 500 metres), and stated that he had ‘a stick in his hand having a knob at one end burnt on one side.’[42] The coroner did not immediately pounce upon this revelation, instead opting to establish how long Cronan had known Dennis Nowland (‘about sixteen months’) and obtaining from Cronan an admission that she ‘could not say any thing of him’ as to ‘whether…his character [was] suspicious or no[t].’[43] From these statements, it was clear that Mrs. Cronan was not over-eager to paint Nowland as the killer merely out of a personal animosity for him, her testimony appeared to be impartial. Only then did the Jury show the deponent ‘the part of the…broken…stick’ with the characteristic knob at the end, which was found close to the deceased’s body, and asked:

“Do you think that the broken stick now produced is a part of the stick you saw yesterday in Nowland’s hand?”

“Yes,” said Mrs. Cronan, “upon my oath.”

Their next question for Mrs. Cronan was how she had heard of Mary Martin’s murder: “My husband told me.”

“Had you any suspicion of Nowland when your husband told you of the Murder?”

“Yes, I did suspect him, and told my husband that I saw a man when going to Mass and felt afraid of him.”[44]

Based on Mrs. Cronan’s statements solely, twenty-six-year-old Dennis Nowland, a labourer from Baile Átha Cliath (Dublin), was now the prime suspect. He had a motive: he was a convict on a road gang, so stealing money could have set him up for a more comfortable life once his sentence was served and he was a free man in the colony. He also had both the weapon and the opportunity: he had been seen with a stick that was an exact match for the murder weapon while standing close to the Martin property within the timeframe of Mary’s murder.

Nevertheless, one person’s word—even the oath of a church-going woman—was not enough to declare Nowland the culprit. Certainly he had a motive and opportunity, but so did every other lowly convict in the adjoining road gang at One Tree Hill (Brush Farm Park, Dundas). As for the weapon, given the shocking nature of the crime within what was likely a close-knit community since it consisted of largely Irish Catholic convicts and ex-convicts, it was probably impossible to prevent details of the crime scene leaking out in the hours after the event and between the first and second days of the inquest. Mrs. Cronan admitted she had heard about the murder from her husband—had he also discovered and divulged the characteristics of the murder weapon? Mrs. Cronan’s description of the stick was, after all, rather detailed considering that she saw it from ‘one or two yards off’ at a time when she had little reason to pay particularly close attention to a stick, as she could not have known the significance it would have hours later.[45] While the coronial inquest does not record every word uttered during the investigation, it is perhaps noteworthy that Margaret Cronan only mentioned her interaction with Nowland and the stick on the second day of the inquest, even though she was questioned on the first day regarding the other members of the road gang; this raises another possibility that she heard that the coroner asked the stockman James Holloway on the first day of the inquest whether or not another suspicious individual named John Lynch ‘had a stick in his hand.’[46] It may be that the events transpired precisely as Mrs. Cronan said and that Nowland was both her pest and Mary’s killer; but it is just as possible that in her genuine desire to help expose her neighbour’s killer, and suffering from a degree of shock that such a brutal murder had occurred so close to her own doorstep, she conflated the killer and a person with whom she had merely had an uncomfortable interaction. At the very least, Mrs. Cronan had given the investigators a new person of interest, and they did not fail to scrutinise Nowland’s movements or make enquiries among other members of the community to either verify or disprove the intelligence she had provided.[47]

The marker in the map above indicates the rough location of One Tree Hill where the road gang were living and working. Note how close this area is to the Kissing Point Road, where the Martins’ property was located.

William Matthews, the overseer of the road party, and John Newland, the deputy overseer, were therefore the next to assist the coroner with his inquiry.[48] The convicts were mustered each morning, so the testimonies of the overseer and his deputy would be crucial to determining whether Dennis Nowland really did have the opportunity to commit the crime between the hours of eight o’clock and twelve o’clock. Unfortunately, neither Matthews nor Newland could be specific about the hour the convicts were mustered as Matthews did not have a watch. They both stated, however, that the muster took place ‘between the hours of nine and eleven,’ at which time, Matthews stated, ‘the [convicts] were all present standing without the Huts in their rank.’[49] The coroner asked Overseer Mathews ‘will you not allow it to be a probable case, that you may be deceived relative to Nowland’s being present at the time of mustering and that another man may answer for him[?] [G]ive yourself sufficient time to consider and remember you are put to your oath.’[50] Significantly, Mathews had to admit that it was possible he could be deceived, but that he could distinguish every man without seeing him by his voice’ and, in any case, was adamant that ‘he saw Nowland stand in rank.’[51] Yet doubts were soon cast over Mathews’s certainty, as Dennis Nowland himself informed the Jury under examination that he was not in line but ‘shaving when Matthews was mustering Sunday morning, and that he put his head out of the hut door to answer his name.’[52] When the deputy overseer was questioned, he admitted that while the convicts ‘were all present’ at the muster, he had ‘no recollection of seeing Nowland before mustering time that morning.’[53] If nothing else, the investigation revealed that the protocol in place to ‘muster’ convicts was apparently being carried out in a mechanical way, without the attentiveness that should have existed when managing a large group of convicted felons living and working in such close proximity to free people with livelihoods, property and their very lives to protect. Henceforth, Mathews would need to eyeball each convict at every muster, and he needed a watch.

All in all, from the prime suspect’s own words, the deputy overseer’s deposition, and Mrs. Cronan’s sighting of Nowland, a case was gathering strength that Dennis Nowland did have ample opportunity to be at the Martin property from eight o’clock for at least an hour, and possibly much longer if he had worked in concert with another convict; that is, by getting them to stand inside his hut and answer on his behalf at the morning muster. The fact that Dennis Nowland was among six men missing from the road party’s huts on Sunday afternoon around two o’clock when Constable John Thorn visited only added to the sense of Nowland’s guilt and raised the possibility that the robbery and murder had been a larger operation, involving ‘a gang of the ruffians’ from the road gang who acted together and shared the bounty, rather than the work of a single perpetrator.[54] The trouble with that theory is that no one could swear to having ever seen the distinctive murder weapon in any of the convicts’ huts.

The coroner and the jury made ‘a particular inquisition’ at the Field of Mars ‘of the neighbouring farmers and others, hoping to ascertain whether they had heard ‘any alarm, any screaming, or any one calling for help,’ on the Sunday morning.[55] But all replied, ‘no, not any.’[56] No one other than Mrs. Cronan had seen Dennis Nowland near the Martins’ property that morning, nor did anyone aside from Mrs. Cronan claim that they had seen the stick before or knew its owner.

Still determined to catch Mary Martin’s killer, the Jury attempted to provoke a confession from their prime suspect, Nowland, by taking him ‘under charge of a Constable with them on Monday morning to Martin’s house that he might see, and, touch, the Body of Mary Martin.’[57] However, when Nowland did so, he ‘appeared no way particularly affected.’[58] But what did this tell them? It may have simply meant Dennis Nowland was guilty of the crime and devoid of any conscience at all; wholly probable if the gruesome attempt to evoke stigmata on the body on the Lord’s Day is anything to go by. Or perhaps it merely indicated that he was simply in no way moved by the sight of an innocent woman whose life was so ferociously snuffed out because he was already so psychologically damaged by his own life experiences. Short of a complete breakdown at the sight of Mary’s body and a full verbal confession to the robbery and murder, this test was just as flawed and inconclusive as the various statements of the witnesses under oath.

The initial newspaper report of the crime and prompt inquisition had stated with such confidence that the case against the man ‘in custody on suspicion’ was ‘so strong that he will be committed for trial.’[59] Their certainty that the killer would be caught and justice would prevail is understandable; after all, Mary Martin had been brutally murdered ‘in the open face of day’ and the ‘adjoining road party’ had been ‘immediately suspected.’[60] Yet when all was said and done, there would be no trial. The killer would continue to walk among them, and justice for Mrs. Mary Martin was never served, because with what they had to go on, Coroner John Eyre and his twelve Jurymen could only return a verdict of ‘Wilful Murder against some person or persons unknown.’[61]

Justice or no, the body of Mary Martin was laid to rest at St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta, with a prayer on her headstone that ‘the Lord be merciful To her Soul, Amen’—words that carry so much more meaning when one knows how merciless her killer or killers had been to her corporeal form.[62] In the year after losing his wife in the horrific crime, Peter Martin would remarry, finding himself another Irish convict woman, forty-year-old Bridget Walsh alias Sheehy / Sheehan per Almorah (3) (1824).[63] And just under three years after Mary’s violent end, the prime suspect in her murder, Dennis Nowland per Neptune I (2) (1820), had his Certificate of Freedom and, perhaps, the Martins’ stolen money in his pocket, too.

The grave of Mary Martin in Section 2, Row P, No. 7, St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta, states: “HERE / Lieth the Body of MARY MARTIN / Who departed this / Life 15th June 1823 / Aged 52 years / And the Lord be merciful / To her Soul. Amen.” Video by Michaela Ann Cameron.

CITE THIS

Michaela Ann Cameron, “Ungodly Visitation,” St. John’s Online, (2020), https://stjohnsonline.org/bio/mary-martin, accessed [insert current date]

References

  • Judith Dunn, The Parramatta Cemeteries: St. John’s, (Parramatta, NSW: Parramatta and District Historical Society, 1991), p. 134.
  •  “PETER FANNING Coronial Inquest, 21 July 1820,” New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898; Reels: 6020–6040; Fiche: 3260–3312; Page: 200, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).
  • “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).
  • “PETER MARTIN, Memorial, September 1824,” New South Wales Government, Memorials to the Governor, 1810–25, Series: 899; Fiche: 3001–3162; Number: 621; Pages: 611–4, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).
  • MURDER,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 19 June 1823, p. 2
  • Further particulars of the horrid murder perpetrated last week…,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 26 June 1823, p. 2.

NOTES

[1] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia). For the identification of Parramatta as the location of the service Martin attended, see Martin’s subsequent memorial to the governor: “PETER MARTIN, Memorial, September 1824,” New South Wales Government, Memorials to the Governor, 1810–25, Series: 899; Fiche: 3001–3162; Number: 621; Pages: 611–4, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). Regarding the location of the Martin farm on ‘the new Kissing-point road,’ in the Field of Mars see: “Further particulars of the horrid murder perpetrated last week…,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 26 June 1823, p. 2.

[2] Peter Martin, aka Peter / Patrick Gilmartin / Gillmartin / Kilmartin, had donated money around eighteen months earlier for the building of a Roman Catholic Chapel at Sydney: the first “St. Mary’s” at Hyde Park, Sydney, see: “No title,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Saturday 1 December 1821, p. 4. According to the State Heritage Register, the building of a Catholic church had commenced at Parramatta in the 1820s, too, but it was incomplete and converted to a schoolhouse, see: New South Wales Government, “St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, Presbytery & Precinct,” New South Wales State Heritage Register, https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=2240368, accessed 27 October 2020. Regarding Martin’s noted attendance at “divine service,” see “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[3] For Father John Therry’s endorsement of Peter Martin see: “PETER MARTIN, Memorial, September 1824,” New South Wales Government, Memorials to the Governor, 1810–25, Series: 899; Fiche: 3001–3162; Number: 621; Pages: 611–4, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[4] “PATRICK KILMARTIN,” New South Wales Government, Indents First Fleet, Second Fleet and Ships, NRS: 1150; Item: [SZ115]; Microfiche: 623, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). For his 1806 emancipation courtesy of Governor King as well as the details about his Field of Mars farm see “PETER MARTIN, Memorial, September 1824,” New South Wales Government, Memorials to the Governor, 1810–25, Series: 899; Fiche: 3001–3162; Number: 621; Pages: 611–4, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). See also Irish Convicts to New South Wales, 1788–1849,((http://members.pcug.org.au/~ppmay/cgi-bin/irish/irish.cgi, 2011), “PATRICK or PETER KILMARTIN,” http://members.pcug.org.au/~ppmay/cgi-bin/irish/irish.cgi?requestType=Search2&id=16161, accessed 27 October 2020.

[5] See the Coronial Inquest of the Martins’ former stockman, Peter Fanning, for these details, including the fact that he was fussed over by the Martins with milk and ginger concoctions to ease his bloatedness, as well as hot bricks on his feet: “PETER FANNING Coronial Inquest, 21 July 1820,” New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898; Reels: 6020–6040; Fiche: 3260–3312; Page: 200, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[6] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[7] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[8] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[9] “DENNIS NOWLAND Certificate of Freedom, 23 January 1833,” New South Wales Government, Butts of Certificates of Freedom, Series: NRS 1165, 1166, 1167, 12208, 12210; Item: 4/4314; Reel: 990; Number: IX-65-87225, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

See also Irish Convicts to New South Wales, 1788–1849,((http://members.pcug.org.au/~ppmay/cgi-bin/irish/irish.cgi, 2011), “DENNIS NOWLAND,” http://members.pcug.org.au/~ppmay/cgi-bin/irish/irish.cgi?requestType=Search2&id=23510, accessed 27 October 2020. For Nowland’s Secondary offence, stealing sugar, for which he was sentenced to receive “50 Lashes, and be confined in a Cell for 7 days on bread and Water,” before being “Assigned to the One Tree Hill gang,” see: “DENNIS NOWLAND, 27 May 1822” New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: 898; Reels: 6020–6040, 6070; Fiche: 3260–3312; Page: 13, (State Records Authority of New South Wales. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[10] Margaret Cronan aka Margaret Cronyen / Cronyon, had arrived in the colony per Francis and Eliza (1815) as a convict named ‘Margaret Murphy’ under sentence of seven years transportation and was sent to the Government factory at Parramatta, in present-day Prince Alfred Park, Parramatta. See: “MARGARET MURPHY, re: on list of convicts disembarked from the Francis and Eliza and sent to the Government Factory at Parramatta, 14 August 1815,” and “MARGARET MURPHY, re: permission to marry at Parramatta, 3 May 1819,” New South Wales Government, Copies of Letters Sent within the Colony, Series: 937; Reels: 6004–6016; Pages: 139 and 101 respectively, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). By 1819, however, she had sought and been granted permission to marry John Cronan, an emancipated convict who came to the colony per Minerva (1800) with a life sentence. See Irish Convicts to New South Wales, 1788–1849, (http://members.pcug.org.au/~ppmay/cgi-bin/irish/irish.cgi, 2011), “JOHN CRONAN,” http://members.pcug.org.au/~ppmay/cgi-bin/irish/irish.cgi?requestType=Search2&id=6047, accessed 27 October 2020. By June 1823, the time of the events recounted above, Margaret was in her late forties, free by servitude, and still living with her husband in the district of the Field of Mars. “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[11] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[12] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[13] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia). Mrs. Mary Martin was an emancipated convict who had been tried and convicted in 1792 and transported at the age of 23 as ‘Mary Rowe’ per Sugar Cane (1793). See Irish Convicts to New South Wales, 1788–1849,((http://members.pcug.org.au/~ppmay/cgi-bin/irish/irish.cgi, 2011), “MARY ROWE,” http://members.pcug.org.au/~ppmay/cgi-bin/irish/irish.cgi?requestType=Search2&id=25903, accessed 27 October 2020.

[14] In former, more religious times, when an individual expired suddenly from natural causes with no sign of any previous illness, coroners frequently returned verdicts that a deceased person had ‘died by the visitation of God’—that it was simply God’s will that they immediately join Him in heaven. By this definition, there was nothing ‘godly’ about Mary Martin’s ‘visitation’ on the Sabbath morning of 15 June 1823. As Catie Gilchrist notes in her discussion of a coronial verdict over four decades later, in August 1866, “the gentlemen of the jury returned the general, vague and frequent verdict of ‘died from natural causes.’ This finding had recently replaced the more religiously inclined, ‘died from the visitation of God.’ Neither were of much value to the statistician or the compiler of morbidity and mortality rates, either at the time, or indeed since.” See Catie Gilchrist, Murder, Misadventure & Miserable Ends: Tales from a Colonial Coroner’s Court, (HarperCollins, 2019), p. xii.

[15] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia); “MURDER,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 19 June 1823, p. 2; “Further particulars of the horrid murder perpetrated last week…,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 26 June 1823, p. 2.

[16]Further particulars of the horrid murder perpetrated last week…,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 26 June 1823, p. 2; “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[17] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[18] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[19]Further particulars of the horrid murder perpetrated last week…,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 26 June 1823, p. 2; “PETER MARTIN, Memorial, September 1824,” New South Wales Government, Memorials to the Governor, 1810–25, Series: 899; Fiche: 3001–3162; Number: 621; Pages: 611–4, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[20] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[21] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[22] It may be that the Gazette embellished the account or that the inquest excluded the information about the fork being driven through both hands, because the latter wounds were not mortal ones; i.e. the ones that occasioned her death, only the head injuries were. “Further particulars of the horrid murder perpetrated last week…,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 26 June 1823, p. 2.

[23] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[24]Further particulars of the horrid murder perpetrated last week…,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 26 June 1823, p. 2.

[25]MURDER,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 19 June 1823, p. 2.

[26] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[27] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[28] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[29] “PETER MARTIN, Memorial, September 1824,” New South Wales Government, Memorials to the Governor, 1810–25, Series: 899; Fiche: 3001–3162; Number: 621; Pages: 611–4, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia); “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[30] “PETER MARTIN, Memorial, September 1824,” New South Wales Government, Memorials to the Governor, 1810–25, Series: 899; Fiche: 3001–3162; Number: 621; Pages: 611–4, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[31] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia); “Further particulars of the horrid murder perpetrated last week…,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 26 June 1823, p. 2; “MURDER,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 19 June 1823, p. 2.

[32] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[33] Mrs. Mary Martin was an emancipated convict who had been tried and convicted at Contae an Chláir (County Clare) in 1792 and sentenced to seven years transportation. She was transported at the age of 23 as ‘Mary Rowe’ aka ‘Mary Roe’ per Sugar Cane (1793). New South Wales Government, Indents First Fleet, Second Fleet and Ships, Series: NRS 1150; Item: [SZ115]; Microfiche: 623, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). See also Irish Convicts to New South Wales, 1788–1849,((http://members.pcug.org.au/~ppmay/cgi-bin/irish/irish.cgi, 2011), “MARY ROWE,” http://members.pcug.org.au/~ppmay/cgi-bin/irish/irish.cgi?requestType=Search2&id=25903, accessed 27 October 2020. Mary and Peter had at least three children: (1) Patrick Gilmartin, born 10 March 1796 at Parramatta and baptised at St. John’s, Parramatta on 17 March 1796; (2) John Martin Gilmartin, born 11 April 1799 at Parramatta and baptised 2 June 1799 at St. John’s Church, Parramatta; (3) Margaret Gilmartin, birthdate unknown, but she is referred to as the daughter of Mary and Peter Martin in the coronial inquest into the death of the Martins’ servant Peter Fanning in 1820, “PETER FANNING Coronial Inquest, 21 July 1820,” New South Wales Government, Special Bundles, 1794–1825, Series: NRS 898; Reels: 6020–6040; Fiche: 3260–3312; Page: 200, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia). By the time of Fanning’s death, the Martin’s daughter Margaret was married (having married a Dennis Stacey (aka STEACY) in 1810. See New South Wales Government, Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages (https://www.bdm.nsw.gov.au/), “Marriage of DENNIS STEACY and MARGARET MARTIN,” Sydney, New South Wales, 1810, Vol. V, Registration No. 164/1810 V1810164 5 / 1092/1810 V18101092 3A, (Chippendale NSW: NSW BDM, 2020), https://familyhistory.bdm.nsw.gov.au/lifelink/familyhistory/search?2, accessed 27 October 2020.

[34]Further particulars of the horrid murder perpetrated last week…,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 26 June 1823, p. 2; “MURDER,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 19 June 1823, p. 2.

[35] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[36] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia); “Further particulars of the horrid murder perpetrated last week…,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 26 June 1823, p. 2.

[37]Further particulars of the horrid murder perpetrated last week…,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 26 June 1823, p. 2.

[38] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[39] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[40] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[41] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[42] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[43] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[44] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[45] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[46] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[47] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[48] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[49] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[50] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[51] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[52] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[53] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[54] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia). For the ‘gang of ruffians’ reference see “PETER MARTIN, Memorial, September 1824,” New South Wales Government, Memorials to the Governor, 1810–25, Series: 899; Fiche: 3001–3162; Number: 621; Pages: 611–4, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

[55] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[56] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[57] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[58] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[59]MURDER,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 19 June 1823, p. 2.

[60]MURDER,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 19 June 1823, p. 2; “Further particulars of the horrid murder perpetrated last week…,” The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Thursday 26 June 1823, p. 2.

[61] “MARY MARTIN Coronial Inquest, 15 June 1823,” New South Wales Government, Reports of Inquests, 1796–1824, Series: 2233; Roll: 5607, (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales Australia).

[62] Mary Martin’s headstone in Section 2, Row P, No. 7, St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta. See Judith Dunn, The Parramatta Cemeteries: St. John’s, (Parramatta, NSW: Parramatta and District Historical Society, 1991), p. 134.

[63] “PETER MARTIN, 4 October 1824, re: permission to marry [BRIDGET WALSH alias SHEEHY [sic]] in the Roman Catholic Church,” New South Wales Government, Copies of Letters Sent within the Colony, Series: NRS 937; Reels: 6004–6016, Page: 517, (State Records Authority of New South Wales. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia); “PETER MARTIN per Boddingtons,” New South Wales Government, 1828 Census: Householders’ Returns [Population and Statistics, Musters and Census Records, Census, Colonial Secretary], Series: 1273; Reels: 2551–2552, 2506–2507, (State Records Authority of New South Wales. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia).

© Copyright 2020 Michaela Ann Cameron