On Saturday, 5 January 1833, one of the earliest Western Australian newspapers, The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, was printed and distributed to the Swan River Colony. Edited by Charles Macfaull, Volume I, number I, was four pages long and cost one shilling.
The Colony was still in its infancy (having only been established four years earlier) and the news reflects that which was foremost in the minds of the early settlers of Perth.
Government notices, advertising and shipping details covered the front page. Thomas Brown had applied for permission to leave the Colony with his family via the ‘Governor Bourke’ and had his request granted.
George Leake provided an extensive list of goods for sale at his Perth and Fremantle stores which included things such as window glass, cotton and worsted stockings, crockery, London mustard, white, black and green paint and London soap.
A public auction was to be held at the Perth Jetty on 8 January with the auctioneer, William Sampson, presiding. Up for sale? The finest Sydney flour.
It was noted that William Booker and Benjamin Hinks had escaped from Fremantle Jail (the Roundhouse) within the last 24 hours and a £20 reward was offered for their capture. A description of the two men was further printed to aid with identification.
It’s not known whether the designer of the jail, Henry Reveley, was annoyed by the fact that his prison couldn’t hold its prisoners but it’s likely that at the time he was far too busy seeing to the design and construction of Perth’s first water mill which was located on St Georges Terrace. Considered of great importance to the Colony, the newspaper promised to provide more information in their next edition.
He also may have been a little preoccupied with trespassers.
Various snippets of news from the English papers (up to 13 August 1832) indicate just how far behind the Colony was on current events compared to the rest of the world. Napoleon’s son, Napoleon II, had died on 22 July 1832 and the Perth Gazette announced “So ends the race of him who so long kept the world in awe!”
The cholera epidemic of 1832 had originally started in India, then slowly moved to Russia and had eventually spread to the rest of Europe as well as to England, Ireland, Scotland and then finally reaching Canada and North America. It was still raging at the time of print and claimed over 50,000 lives in Britain.
Pages three and four of the edition were mostly dedicated to the reporting of local civil and criminal court cases…
The Executors of Mr Gaze’s Estate took Mr Butler to Court to recover £40 for work completed prior to Gaze’s death. There may have been mention made in Gaze’s Will relating to the outstanding amount as the Will was noted to be an important piece of evidence required at Court. Much to the Civil Commissioner’s (George Fletcher Moore) annoyance, the Plaintiff had left the Will at home. The Commissioner, it seems, was in no mood to humour those who came unprepared.
Earlier in the week, Thomas Dent found himself brought before the Criminal Court charged with violently assaulting his wife. The opening address by the Chairman (William Henry Mackie) advised the jury to pay close attention to the evidence and further stated that Mr Dent had attempted to silence his wife through intimidation. Due to this, Mrs Dent did not come to Court and a witness, John Cleland, provided the reason why.
Thomas, of course, denied his wrongdoing. Mrs Dent was “in the habit of practising many petty vexations” and he put forward a letter she’d written showing that it was “without any of those endearing epithets, which might be expected, from an affectionate wife, addressing a beloved husband.” Considering it was written while he was in prison for a previous assault against her, it’s no wonder she didn’t address it to her ‘darling husband’.
Mr Dent maintained that his behaviour was caused by the vexations and then he promised not to assault his wife again. The Chairman would have none of it…
The reading of the deposition was not necessary and after retiring for a few minutes, the Jury came back and found Thomas Dent guilty. He was sentenced to three months imprisonment and upon his release, he was required to find security for his good behaviour.
Happy to have a newspaper once again in print after what he described as “unpleasant recollections” with regards to his previous publication, the final bottom right section of page four was dedicated to the editor, printer and publisher, Mr Charles Macfaull and provided all the details with relation to cost and obtaining a subscription.
- Most of the information for this blog post has been obtained from The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal; Saturday, 5 January 1833. Read the full edition here: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/page/1?zoomLevel=3
- Information on Henry Willey Reveley obtained from: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/reveley-henry-willey-2587
- Information on Napoleon II obtained from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napoleon_II
- Information on cholera obtained from: http://www.choleraandthethames.co.uk/