John Joseph

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State Trial Prisoners, Mount Alexander Mail, 02 March 1855.
State Prisoners from The Revolt at Eureka’ by R. Wenban. Schools Publishing House, 1959.
John Joseph at the Treason Trial from the Guardian Eureka Centenary Issue, University of Ballarat Historical Collection

Background

John Joseph was born in 1831. He is thought to have left New York for Australia. Raffaello Carboni called him honest and kind. Although an African American, Charles Kenworthy did not intervene for his release once arrested after the Eureka Stockade battle.[1]

Goldfields Involvement, 1854

John Joseph was arrested near the Guard Tent[2] after the Eureka Stockade. A reported described him as: a negro, a very tall and powerful man, but with a stupid and vacant expression of countenance. [3]

Patrick Hynott of the 40th Regiment said he saw Joseph with a pike in his hand looking over the stockade at the time. Hynott fired at Joseph when he saw him. An order was given to fix bayonets and troops charged. Joseph was taken prisoner by Captain Carter and a constable.[4]

Treason Trial

Governor Charles Hotham decided to hold separate trials for the thirteen accused of Treason. John Joseph the Afro-American who was accused of firing the first shot that killed Captain Wise, was the first brought to trial. The government believed that a jury would have no trouble convicting a black man. A number of lawyers came forward to help those accused of High Treason. Butler Aspinall and Henry Chapman appeared for Joseph, while the Attorney General William Stawell represented the Queen.[5]

The first clash came with the selection of the jury. The Crown challenged potential Irish jurors and publicans. John Joseph sent the court into a spin when he objected to gentlemen and merchants being selected on the jury. No Irish jurors were picked for jury for Joseph's trial. [6]

The Crown called two government spies to give evidence, both claimed they saw Joseph in the stockade. Two privates from the 40th regiment claimed they saw Joseph fire the first shot that struck down Captain Henry Wise. The charge against Joseph that had to be proven, was that Joseph had attempted to subvert the authority of the Crown in the colony by wounding and killing her soldiers ­ in other words the Crown had to prove "treasonable intent". The defence lawyers didn't call any witnesses and made much of the point that "a riotous nigger" or a "political Uncle Tom" could have "treasonable intent", leaving it up to the jury to decide if Joseph had any intent to commit treason. The jury returned quickly from their deliberations, finding John Joseph not guilty of High Treason. Pandemonium broke out in the court at the not guilty verdict. The cheering was so loud that Chief Justice William a'Beckett (the residing judge) in a fit of pique, singled out two members of the public gallery and jailed them for a week for contempt of court.[7]

"On emerging from the Court house, he was put in a chair and carried round the streets of the city in triumph" ­ Ballarat Star. Over 10,000 people had come to hear the jury's verdict. When you consider that Melbourne's population wasn't even 100,000, the crowds that had gathered to listen to the jury's verdict were an indication of how important many people believed these trials were.[8]

Post 1854 Experiences

Newsworthy

BALLAARAT. (FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.)
8th December.
I resume my narrative of the proceedings in the Police Court yesterday, in reference to the State prisoners. I am induced to give these proceedings at perhaps greater length than your columns can easily bear, from my conviction of their importance, and of the fact that the evidence adduced will furnish more satisfactory testimony as to the events of the melancoly Sabbath morn than any personal representation can furnish.
James Beattie, John Fenwick, Josephs, and Raphaello, were placed at the bar. Beattie has rather a feeble and timid expression, and very unlike one's idea of a rebel. Fenwick is apparently a Dane, has a sailor-like look, and appears strong and active. Josephs is a negro, a very tall and powerful man, but with a stupid and vacant expression of countenance. Raphaello is an Italian, of middle age, of spare but vigorous form. His hair and beard are thin, and of a red color. He has black eyes, and an earnest, enthusiastic manner. He was secretary to Mazzini when Rome was captured, and bears the traces of several wounds.
H. Goodenough, a trooper, saw Beattie offer himself as a volunteer at the meeting at Bakery Hill, on Thursday, the 30th ult. He was drilled, then marched with the others to Eureka, and was drilled there that day and the next. On Sunday, the 3rd December, Beattie was arrested by him, at the London Hotel, about one hundred yards from the stockade. Prisoner had no arms when drilled nor when arrested. Many of the volunteers were armed. Fenwick was among the volunteers. Raphaello was captain of a company of about twenty-five, armed with swords and knives. He commanded his company with a sword by his side, and on Thursday a way was opened for them up to the platform where Raphaello made a speech. He said—"Gentlemen soldiers, those that cannot provide themselves with firearms, let them provide themselves with a piece of steel, if it is only six inches long, attached to a pole, and that will pierce the tyrant's heart." He marched his men to Eureka, and drilled them there on that and the following day. In answer to Raphaello, witness said that prisoner's company were more than one-half foreigners, apparently Germans and French.
In answer to the Bench witness stated that the origin of the Wednesday meeting was the return from Melbourne of a deputation to the Governor, and repeated the words used by Hayes and others.
Thomas Atkins, constable, saw one hundred and fifty men being drilled at Eureka on Friday last.
Beattie was in the ranks. Saw Raphaello, mounted, and with a party capturing horses, and giving them over to another party. Was threatened by the party and withdrew.
Patrick Reilly, sergeant in the mounted 40th, saw Beattie on the Sunday morning standing with his back to the stockade and crying fro mercy. Took him prisoner and brought him round to the rest of the prisoners. The firing had just ceased.
William Rivel, of the mounted force of the 40th, saw Beattie come over the wall of the stockade, before the firing had quite ceased. After the soldier ceased firing, several shots were discharged at them from tents. Beattie had a large horse-pistol in his hand as he climbed the stockade. When he saw the troops without, he dropped the pistol inside the stockade, and either fell or dropped on his knees and cried for mercy, saying he "was beaten and would give in."
Samuel J. Furnell, sub inspector of police, was at the stockade, in command of the mounted police. Some time after the firing had ceased, he saw Fenwick running away at a short distance from the stockade. Cantered after him, and told him he was his prisoner. He endeavored to escape, but being struck and slightly wounded, he yielded.
John King, sergeant of police, saw Beattie and Raphaello taken out of the stockade.
James Goar, private 40th, charged the stockade. Raphaello and two others charged him with pikes as he entered the stockade. He jumped out of the stockade and ran back, pursued by Raphaello till he met the troopers. Raphaello now retreated till he reached the stockade.
Patrick Hynott, a private of the 40th, saw Fenwick in the stockade. He had on a pair of red drawers. He was on the right hand of the tent, armed with a fowling piece. He was very busy. Afterwards saw him a prisoner in the Camp. Saw Josephs with a pike in his hand looking over the stockade at the time. Witness fired at him when he saw him. An order was given to fix bayonets and troops charged. Josephs was taken prisoner by Captain Carter and a constable. Saw Raphaello pursuing the last witness. He was armed, but is not certain as to the weapon, as he only saw the handle.
Daniel Hagherty is a sergeant of the 40th. Identifies Fenwick. Was one of the skirmishers on the 3rd. The troops halted about twenty paces from the stockade, and extended from the right. The 12th were extended from the right of the 40th. The troops advanced a little when the firing began, and received a good many shots, which they did not return until the bugle sounded. We fired and then charged. Several of the 40th were shot Captain Wise fell at this time. Some of our men under Captain Thomas went into the stockade. When the firing slackened a little, Captain Thomas ordered the troops outside. Came out and remained outside the stockade. Fenwick was brought out bleeding at the time, and was put with the other prisoners. Took the principal charge of the prisoners. Josephs resisted the soldiers who had taken him. Raphaello was brought out of the stockade a prisoner. Does not know who took him. Saw Fenwick brought out with a lot of prisoners, but did not see him arrested. Saw Josephs resisting the two soldiers who had him in charge. Told them to push him on with the remainder of the prisoners.
Andrew Peters, a constable at Ballaarat, saw Raphaello drilling men on the Bakery Hill. Josephs was in the ranks, armed. Raphaello had about twenty men in the ranks. This was on the evening of the second day after the meeting. Raphaello was armed. Never saw him but once. Was not present at the stockade on the morning of the 3rd. On the evening after the meeting, Raphaello was armed with a pistol or revolver.
Cross-examined by Raphaello: Saw him with 20 or 30 men. They were chiefly foreigners.
John Badcock, a constable at Ballaarat, was present at the Eureka Stockade on Sunday morning when it was charged. Jumped over the stockade. Saw Raphaello going round the corner of a tent. Presented his firelock at him, but it missed fire. did not see him again until he was a prisoner. He was armed with something like a pike. Saw Josephs and Beattie prisoners outside the stockade at about twenty paces from it.
John Donolly, a private of the 40th: Saw Josephs with a double-barrelled piece in his hand outside the stockade. Saw Raphaello inside the stockade armed with some weapon.
This morning the court sat at half-past nine.
The case of Beattie, Fenwick, Josephs, and Raphaello, was resumed.
Mr. Dunne stated that he appeared for Raphaello.
Thomas Milne deposed: That he was a sergeant of police at Ballaarat. Was in the stockade on the morning of the 3rd. Was at the large slab tent after the firing had ceased. The slab tent was inside the stockade. Saw a number of men running towards where the soldiers were stationed. Saw the prisoners Raphaello and Josephs in custody. They were unarmed. Never saw any of the prisoners previously.
Cross-exmained by Mr. Dunne: Has been here stationed about four months.
Patrick O'Keefe, a private of the 40th, was pre- sent at the attack on Eureka. saw Josephs there. He fired on us. Saw him afterwards with a pike running towards the tent, and again in custody outside the stockade. Cannot identify any of the other prisoners.
By the Bench: he fired towards where Captain Wise was stationed and some of the soldiers. At that time Captain Wise fell.
George Fraser, constable, was at the attack. Saw Josephs and Raphaello when in the stockade. Josephs was in custody. Was ordered to join guard to secure the prisoners. Saw Raphaello brought out from the direction of the stockade in the custody of two men.
Cross-examined: Have been stationed here and in the force about twelve months.
Inspector Evans, in reply to a question from the Bench, stated that he had evidence to produce with regard to the meetings on Bakery Hill.
Charles Jeffreys Carter: Was in charge of the foot police. Took Josephs out of the tent called the guard-room, while the firing was going on. Did not see any of the other prisoners. Called out to any that were alive in the tent to give themselves up. There were two there. One of them said "For God's sake don't fire on us; we will surrender." He was unarmed. I saw many arms in the guard-tent, which is inside the stockade, as well as many dead and wounded.
This was the case for the Crown.
Mr Dunne submitted that there was no case against Beattie, but the Bench overruled the objection, and committed the prisoners to take their trial for high treason.
Nicholas Edwards, Joseph Gray, Francis Kent, Henry Trynon, Henry Bazley, Thos. Bisk, George Davidson, Richard Humphreys, Charles Adams, John Delamere, Hen. Robilliard, Nicholas Allaire, Peter Priaulx, Isaac Hinds, Joseph Hindon, Andrew White, Joseph Macknon, Charles Brown, and Thomas Barry, were discharged, there being no evidence against them.
Mr. Dunne appeared for the following prisoners who were likewise discharged, there being not sufficient evidence against them to warrant a committal:— Patrick Gilhooly, Walter Ryley, John Powell, Joseph Penrose, Robert Winkfield, Dugald Magennis, John Quin, Edmund Burn, Wm. James Steer, Arthur Smith, Kennedy O'Brien, Martin Kinnear, Matthew Orr, Alexander Ross, Robert Leslie, George Thompson, Martin Ryan, Thomas Box, Thomas Ferdinand Tighe, and John Cahill.
John Manning, reporter of the Ballaarat Times, was next arraigned.
Mr. Dunne appeared for the prisoner.
Inspector Carter saw Manning on Sunday morning in the tent called the guard-room. It was within the stockade. I arrested the prisoner and handed him over to the 40th. The firing had not ceased. The tent was full of arms. He was one of the two taken out of the tent.
Daniel Higgarty, a sergeant of the 40th, was in the engagement at the stockade. Saw Manning brought out of the stockade under the charge of Lieutenant Richards, 40th.
Cross-examined: Manning was in custody when he saw him.
Thomas Barr, district surveyor, was present at several meetings. Was on Bakery Hill at the meeting on Wednesday 29th November. The object of this meeting was to raise subscriptions for organising a large force, and to defray the expenses of delegates to the different diggings. Heard Black, Lawlor, Vern, Kennedy, and some others speak at the meeting.
Mr. Dunne submitted this was not evidence, as the prisoner was not alleged to have been present.
The Bench ruled that the evidence must be received.
Examination resumed: Did not recognise the prisoner there.
William Dalgliesh: I was at a meeting on Bakery Hill on the 30th ultimo. Recognised the prisoner as one of a party of about twenty being drilled armed with pikes. Does not know who commanded them. Saw the prisoner the next time in custody. Did not see him in the stockade.
[A portion of the copy appears to have miscarried and this examination is incomplete.]
Four men — Pohill, Bryant, Rodan, and Ferguson were brought up.
John Gillman, sergeant mounted police, was at the attack at the Eureka. Saw Bryant about 100 yards from the stockade; was called to the seize him. Did so when he was running from the stockade. He had no arms, but was running to hide himself behind a chimney.
Mr. Hackett, Stipendiary Magistrate for the District : Received on Sunday morning a message from Captain Thomas requesting him to accompany the troops and police on an expedition. He did so. They advanced in the direction of the Eureka. As they approached the position of the intrenchment, he was told that it was quite near. To night being very dark, he lay down, and saw a flag flapping. One shot, and then a volley, shewed where they were. The bugle sounded, which he believes is the signal for the troops to fire. After ten or twelve minutes the troops went into the stockade. Identifies Pohill, Bryant, and Ferguson. Cannot say when they were taken. Has been informed that Ferguson can bring evidence to account for his being found where he was. Dr. Kenworthy and another American gentleman can account for his being there.
The Bench advised Ferguson to lose no time in procuring the evidence of these gentlemen.
Bryant asked Mr. Hackett if he knew him?
Mr. Hackett said he did, and his feeling was surprise to see him where he was.
Bryant called the attention of the Bench to a cut on his head, and stated that it was the cause of his being where he was. The wound had been inflicted by a trooper because he could not move fast enough and then he arrived at the Camp he was detained because he was bloody.
Sub Inspector Cossac saw Rodan inside the stockade, attempting to crawl out. He called to him to surrender, and he did so. There were arms lying about.
John Mordan White, trooper, saw Rodan in the stockade, at a corner between two tents. There was a passage out on the left and a dray on the right. The prisoner was under the dray. Many arms lying about.
Cross-examined: Prisoner had been wounded in the left shoulder, though slightly.
William Murrell, corporal of the 40th, was at the Eureka on the 3rd. Saw Ferguson twenty years inside the stockade, and ordered him to join the other prisoners.
George Byford, private 40th, recognises Fergus- son. Saw him inside the stockade. He had no arms. Saw him run from one tent to another.
Henry Perry, private mounted 40th, recognises Bryant. Saw him jump over the stockade. He had a pike, and struck at witness.
For Rodan, in defence, George Anderson, who had lived two years near the Eureka, deposed that Rodan was his mate, and was in the tent at ten o'clock on Saturday night; that they ordered Rodan out saying, "If you don't come we will shoot you." Witness had concealed himself between the tent and the lining, or he is sure he also would have been compelled to go. Had incurred odium by not attending the meetings. Had been attacked on Friday night by three men, knocked down and called a "trap."
Rodan assured the Bench that he had been forced away unarmed.
Ferguson described himself as having been seized on his way to visit a friend, and detained by the rioters against his will.
The Bench decided on remanding Bryant till next day, in order that he might produce the witnesses he spoke of. The other prisoners were discharged, with an admonition to some of them for allowing the stockade to be erected so near them without giving information to the authorities and seeking their protection.
A public meeting of the inhabitants of the town- ship was held this afternoon, at which a committee was appointed to draw up a memorial to the Lieutenant Governor. The committee met this even- ing, and adopted a memorial for general subscription, of which I enclose a copy.
To His Excellency Sir Charles Hotham, K.C.B.,
Lieut.-Governor of the colony of Victoria.
The memorial of the undersigned merchants, landholders, storekeepers, and inhabitants of the goldfields at Ballaarat,
Humbly sheweth —
That your memorialists view with extreme regret the late disturbances on these gold-fields, arising from causes on which they do not feel called upon to express an opinion.
Reposing the utmost confidence in your Excellency, they earnestly urge the necessity that exists for your Excellency's presence on these mines, and humbly, yet earnestly, pray your clemency, and the issue of an amnesty in favor of those individuals who have taken a part in the late lamentable disturbances.
That your memorialists desire to express their loyalty towards Her Majesty, and pledge themselves to support your Excellency in the maintenance of order.
Your memorialists would respectfully draw your Excellency's attention to the benefits that would arise by the issue of an amnesty, in restoring confidence, and in the return to their occupations of hundreds who have left this district from various causes connected with the late disturbances.
And your memorialists as in duty bound will ever pray.
11 P.M.
A slight alarm was created a short time ago by a gun fired in the proximity of the Camp. All were instantly on the alert. Sounds of preparation were heard all over the Camp, and the frequent challenge of sentries. Two troopers galloped south- ward along the road, and one of them soon re- turned with a prisoner in charge, but whether or not he had anything to do with the suspicions shot, or it had any omen of danger to the authorities, it is equally impossible as yet to tell.
A reward of £500 is offered for "the body, dead or alive, of Frederick Vern, sometimes called Colonel Vern."
The Right Rev. Dr. Goold, Roman Catholic Bishop of Melbourne, arrived at Ballaarat this evening.[9]

See also

Butler Aspinall

Treason Trials

John Badcock

Further Reading

Corfield, J.,Wickham, D., & Gervasoni, C. The Eureka Encyclopaedia, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2004.

Goodman, David Goodman, Eureka and Democracy IN Reappraising an Australian Legend, edited by Alan Mayne, Perth, Network Books, 2007.

References

  1. Corfield, J.,Wickham, D., & Gervasoni, C. The Eureka Encyclopaedia, Ballarat Heritage Services, 2004.
  2. Blake, Gregory, To Pierce the Tyrant's Heart, Australian Military History Publications, 2009, p.178.
  3. The Argus, 11 December 1854.
  4. The Argus, 11 December 1854.
  5. http://www.takver.com/history/eureka.htm, sighted 07 May 2013.
  6. http://www.takver.com/history/eureka.htm, sighted 07 May 2013.
  7. http://www.takver.com/history/eureka.htm, sighted 07 May 2013.
  8. http://www.takver.com/history/eureka.htm, sighted 07 May 2013.
  9. The Argus, 11 December 1854.

External links


Pikeman detail from the Peter Lalor Statue, Sturt Street, Ballarat. Courtesy Ballarat Heritage Services.