Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Windsor Boxing match 1836 ~ Trove Tuesday

During the nineteenth century, boxing was a popular form of sport in the colony. The fights were often motivated by betting on the outcome and at times were frowned upon by the law. The following case relates to death in a boxing match at Windsor in August 1836. The death was dealt with as a case of manslaughter in the Supreme Court of NSW. The case of  R. v. GAUDRY & OTHERS took place on the 10 November 1836 with Judge Dowling presiding. Several newspapers provided detailed reports of the court case which in turn gives us a picture of these prize fights. 
A prize fight boxing match was held on the 26 August 1836 at Windsor between George Gaudry and James Bishop. Gaudry was indicted for the manslaughter of Bishop. A group of men were charged with “abetting in the same” Charles Gaudry, Samuel Taylor, John Bates, John Allcorn, John Lucas, George Keys and Thomas Martin. 

William Gaudry’s testimony was recorded:
I live at Windsor, and recollect the 24th of August last, was at a fight that day about two miles from Windsor, my brother George was one did not know the other, but had seen him on the previous evening, took no part in the fight; Dutch Sam (Taylor,) was second to deceased, and George Ray second to my brother, there were bottle holders also, saw Bates, my brother Charles and Allcorn there, someone kept time, the fight lasted about an hour, my brother won the fight. Bishop became insensible soon after the fight, I then spoke to Dr. Rutter who bled him, he was taken into Windsor but died the same evening, there was a regular ring formed by the crowd, a great number of people were there, saw nearly all the prisoners there.
Supreme Court where the case was heard from 'Sydney in 1848' by Joseph Fowles.
Courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW

Others that were examined as part of the case, included, Christopher Flynn, dealer in Sydney, provided his assigned servant James Bishop, a pass to go to Richmond. Flynn had not seen him since. Under examination Flynn said Bishop “had been with me four years, complained sometimes of a head ache.” Robert Smith, a publican at Windsor, recalled the day of the fight. As a result of the fight the injured man was taken to Smith’s house where he died later that evening. 

John Hibbert attended the fight & saw deceased fall a few times, “he was very much beaten”. Apparently Gaudry “threw him frequently, the last time thrown he laid on the ground speechless a considerable time.” He was taken by chaise to Smith's house and Hibbert stated that he thought it was a “fair fight” while Richard Crampton, a witness stated “I was at the fight in August between Gaudry & Stringybark, I believe Lucas was one of the parties who kept the time, Taylor & Haddygaddy were the seconds.” John Earl, a Cabinet maker, was also at the fight. He said he saw George Gaudry and Bates at the fight. He also mentioned a Mr Dight who held the stakes. Apparently both Bates and Gaudry gave £10 as the stakes. He thought that as Allcorn and Lucas both held watches that they were the time keepers. However when cross-examined, it was noted that other people had watches as well.

Charles Kelly stated that he attended the fight and “saw John Allcorn was one of the time-keepers; saw him act as such; a round or two had taken place before he was called into the ring.” William Maughan was the local constable and was on duty on the day of the fight. He did try and stop the fight but was unsuccessful. Dr. Rutter the doctor that treated the deceased lived in Parramatta but was in Windsor on the day in question.  After the fight the doctor was to examine him. He stated the man “was insensible, labouring under a concussion of the brain; I bled him; the injury I imagine was the effect of a fall; death was occasioned by a profusion of blood on the brain; his head had received an extensive blow, which might produce compression of the brain.” When cross examined, the doctor stated a “fall was more likely than a blow to produce compression; over exertion might produce it.”

Another doctor, William John Whitethorn was also called upon to give evidence. He examined the deceased and stated “death had been occasioned by extravasated blood on the brain; there were several wounds on the scalp which might have been caused by either blows or falls.”

William Henry Gaudry stated “I heard Bishop say that he came up to Windsor on purpose to fight somebody, and mentioned the name of my brother in particular; he was about the same size as my brother.”  Apparently there was some question about the identity of deceased, as no-one who knew Bishop, identified the body. However it was thought the pass was evidence enough. Those being charged did not say anything in their defence but did provide character witnesses. The judge stated that six of the prisoners were born in the colony, and it was “absolutely necessary that prize fighting should be put down, it was a brutal practice and tended to disgrace all parties concerned.  It was also high time that the young men of this Colony should be taught to respect the laws of their country.”  

Interestingly as Taylor was already a convict, his punishment (two years to a penal settlement) was harsher. George Gaudry received six months whilst the others Charles Gaudry, Bates, Allcorn, Kay and Lucas were sentenced to three months imprisonment in Windsor Gaol.

(1836, November 15). The Australian, p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article36854511
(1836, November 12). The Sydney Gazette & NSW Advertiser, p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2207709
(1836, November 14). The Sydney Herald, p. 2. Retrieved May 10, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12859840