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Crime File: The man they couldn’t hang

John Stanley

Early on the morning of 26 September, 1803, the citizens of inner Sydney arose to the now all-too-familiar beat of the drum of the redcoats as they accompanied the condemned cart as it made its way at a deathly pace up George Street on its way to the town gallows. The scaffold was situated in a paddock alongside Brickfield Hill which in many years in the future would become the site of the famous Anthony Horderns building.

In the cart the two condemned men sat upon their coffins, their heads in their hands. Dressed in a black broad-brimmed hat and cloak, the Reverend Samuel Marsden kept in step to the slow beat of the drum alongside the cartload of misery, while reading appropriate passages from the Bible.

One of the men on his way to his death was Joseph Samuels. In 1795 Samuels was just 14 when he was convicted at London’s Old Bailey on a charge of breaking into a house and stealing a variety of items including sheets, a table cloth and two silver teaspoons to the total value of just over three pounds.

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John Stanley
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