Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Justifiable Homicide?

I was recently reading a report of Inquests in Victoria 1852-1853 published in 1854.
This made very interesting reading and I came across a mention of "Justifiable Homicide" relating to the inquest into the death of Jeremiah Fahey.

It stated he was "Shot by some person unknown, whilst engaged in a murderous attack upon the inmates of a tent" and in the remarks section said " The verdict of the Coroner's Jury accurately describes the case which was one of Justifiable homicide"

The Coroner was J. McCrea and the inquest was held in Bendigo on the 15th August 1852.

This excited my curiosity and of course the first stop was Trove. Nothing was found in the Victorian papers on Trove but two entries relating to the event were found.

One was in the South Australian Register  11 September 1852 and the other was in the

The Perth Gazette and Independent Journal of Politics and News 1 October 1852.

They are pretty much the same text reproduced here for easy reading:


"A fatal affray occurred at Peg-leg Gully on Saturday last. A dispute between two men arose about a hole, and violence was resorted to. The man who got the worst of the struggle chanced to be an Irishman. He went away and returned with a number of his countrymen, who had armed themselves with pick-handles and other bludgeons. A regular fight ensued, and the Irishmen were beaten back. They returned to the attack, however, to the number of about 150, and on this occasion fire-arms were displaced. They scorched the tents of several parties for a man whom they wished to find, and among others, that of three brothers named Hood. One of the Hoods ordered them to leave the tent, and on their refusing, turned them out. An Irishman, named Jeremiah Fahey, then struck one of the Hoods on the head with a bludgeon, through the calico of the tent, when Hood fired, and Fahey fell dead. A general engagement now took place, and many individuals were wounded, some of them severely. A man named Casey suffered concussion of the brain, and is said to be since dead. Another received a severe wound with a pick on the back of the neck. Broken arms and legs and heads were numerous. The assailants bore away five very severely injured, to what part of the bush is not known. The three Hoods are in safety, which probably they would not be if following their usual avocations. The verdict in Fahey's case, "Justifiable Homicide," has irritated the Irishmen, and they promise to repeat the attack. It is to be regretted that the affray assumed a somewhat national aspect. Disputes, hitherto, having been usually confined to Gold claims, have been of short duration and trivial consequence; but the introduction of national prejudice is likely to aggravate and perpetuate the present feud, especially in the somewhat lawless locality in which it occurred."  

(There was no mention of an inquest for Casey listed in the Inquests)

So remember to expand your search to other geographic locations that may report on your event and it is also important to allow enough time as often it will be reported much later in those newspapers ie 11 September in South Australia and 1st October in Perth  for an event that occurred in August in Bendigo.

Victorian inquest reports are held at the Public Record Office of Victoria, at this stage not available on their website as digital images. It looks as though they have been digitised as Family Search have a page saying it is a coming collection but only from 1865-1925 so maybe they will also become available at PROV online  sometime in the future.