Jul 05

Moses Storer was the first of my direct family branch to arrive here in Australia. He came from England and arrived in Adelaide in 1848. He was married to Mary Ann and came with their first child Moses.

Moses was born in 1827 in England. He was baptised in September that year.

Moses is a bit of a mystery really. He was one of 10 children, as far as I can work out, he had 6 of his own children, and lived for a while in Branxholme in Western Victoria, just south of Hamilton. However, he is buried in Western Australia, well, that’s as far as I know.

Moses sounds like such a respectable name, alas, that’s not what he was! In 1859 he appeared in an article in the Adelaide Observer:

GAWLER: WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 12.

HORSESTEALING. – James Fletcher and Moses Storer were charged with horsestealing under the following circumstances: – William Edson, farmer, of Bald Hill, near Lyndoch Valley, deposed that on the evening of Wednesday, the 5th inst., after ploughing with a horse and mare (which he minutely described) till 7 o’clock, the animals were put into a paddock by his daughter. They were his property, as shown by receipts containing marks and brands which with as produced. On fetching the working cattle up at 6 o’clock the next morning, the horse and mare were missing. Witness did not see his horses again till he met them on Tuesday, in possession of the police, on their way to Gawler, the two prisoners being mounted on them, near Butler & Grant’s Station. Moses Storer, who had formerly been his neighbour, said to him jocosely, as he came up. “Well, Mr. Edson, you see we’re bringing your horses back again.” The other prisoner, whom he did no know, shook his head, and said, “It’s a bad job”.

The brands had been very cleverly altered by additions, but the old marks could be readily distinguished.

Storer claimed the mare, saddle, and swag as his property. Fletcher claimed the horse. They said they had the receipts for the horses. Afterwards they said they not had got them, and they charged witness with having taken the receipts from them. Witness on searching them had found no receipts upon them.

They were both committed to take their trial at the Supreme Court

Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 – 1904), Saturday 15 January 1859, page 4
National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article158125528

Because rebranding a horse always works… It would appear Moses and Fletcher were thrown into gaol to await their trial.

And then, tucked away towards the bottom of the Sheriff’s office notice is this:

South Australian Weekly Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1858 – 1867),
Saturday 5 February 1859, page 4 –
National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article96493384

Moses Storer, James Fletcher, Thomas Brasher, George Brasher, and Robert Cooper attempt to break prison! Now that must be a story. Come to Australia as a free-settler, steal a horse, then try to break out before you even get to trial!

The South Australian Advertiser has the full story:

DARING ATTEMPT TO BREAK OUT OF THE ADELAIDE GAOL.

A most determined endeavour to escape from prison was on Thursday discovered to have been made by the prisoners confined in the ward allotted to the prisoners committed for trial in the Adelaide Gaol. The facts of the case are simply these. Mr. Lawrence, the head turnkey, had for some days past observed a number of prisoners constantly hanging about the water-closet. This circumstance awakened his suspicions, and he took an opportunity of listening to their conversation, which he had an opportunity of doing from outside through a crevice in the wall. From expressions which he overheard he was convinced that some secret operations were being carried on. He therefore took an observation from the tower which overlooks the yard. He then perceived that a number of the prisoners were constantly about the closet, apparently relieving one another from time to time, at some secret work, while one was posted at the gate of the yard, obviously with a view of giving intimation of the approach of the guard. At 11 o-clock on Thursday morning Mr. Lawrence entered the ward, and surprised three of the prisoners at work excavating a passage under the closet. These were – Thomas Brasher, committed for trial on several charges; Cooper, committed for the attempt to murder Sergeant Badman; and another named Fletcher, committed for horse-stealing. The superfluous clothing of these persons was found lying on the floor of the closet. Mr. Lawrence with great promptitude ordered all the prisoners into their cells and locked them up, having previously placed a guard in the space between the outer and inner walls of the prison. The guard, while on duty there, happening to tread on the place under which the tunnelling had been made, broke through the crust of earth, and fell into an excavation nearly breast deep. This disturbance of the soil exposed a tunnel of about two and a half feet in diameter, leading under the outer wall. On inspection of the ground outside the wall, the earth was discovered to have been undermined, and Mr. Egan, the keeper of the gaol, while walking round, fell through into an excavation of the same kind. The surface soil had been approached within a few inches, and it was evident that the prisoners had been just on the eve of their escape. The plan of operations appeared to have been well matured, and skilfully executed. In order to understand the attempted scheme, it will be necessary to describe the obstacles overcome. From each ward in the prison there are culverts leading from the water-closets into the river Torrens. The culvert in No. 4 ward, where the committed prisoners were confined, had recently been cleaned out, thus removing one difficulty. The prisoners had evidently taken into account the circumstance that the construction of the culverts would necessarily loosen the surrounding soil, which would consequently be easily removed. They had descended through the seat of the closet, and transmitted the earth by means of such instruments as they had at command, and disposal of the clay removed by depositing it in an intervening cesspool, so that no traces of their work were visible above ground. There is no doubt that each prisoner relieved the other at stated intervals, and that everything was ready for an escape at noon on that day, when the guard in charge of the prisoners working outside would be off the beat. The vigilance of the head turnkey, however, frustrated their well-laid plans, and the attempt will only remain on record as one of the most skilful and determined ever recorded in the criminal annals of South Australia. There are 17 prisoners in the ward, committed for trial, all of whom would have been at liberty within a few minutes after the discovery was made. It would not be out of place here to notice the very small guard in the gaol. Four guards only watch over about 110 prisoners. One of these is constantly employed superintending the prisoners engaged in quarrying outside; one of the other three is frequently engaged in taking prisoners to the courts, and in additional, has to be on guard at night. It will thus be seen that very frequently there are only two available guards to watch over the safety of 110 prisoners. It can matter of no surprise that an escape has been attempted, but it is almost surprising that the recent attempt has not proved successful.

South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 – 1889), Friday 28 January 1859, page 3
National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article788333

I guess that’s one way to pass the time.

The ledger at the Supreme Court shows us the Prisoners for Trial on 14th February, Moses is listed as number 25 on February 18th, along his fellow horse-thief, James Fletcher who also has an alias – H. Roberts. Their ages are recorded, Moses was 31, Fletcher 30. Moses’ age has allowed me to trace it back to his birth year of 1827. The charge says:

Feloniously stealing a bald-faced brown horse and a bay mare, the property of William Edson, 6th January.

Further down the same printed sheet at 42 to 47, we find the names of the prisoners who tried to escape by digging a tunnel through the dunny. That charge reads:

Feloniously and unlawfully attempting to break prison and escape from H. M. Gaol, while in custody awaiting trial for certain felonies, at Adelaide, 27 January.

That case is listed for February 23rd.

In the court ledger, the outcome of the trial is written:

11. James Fletcher als. Henry Roberts

12. Moses Storer

Stealing one gelding and one mare the property of William Edson. Plea by both prisoners – Guilty.

Sentence James Fletcher and Moses Storer to be severally kept in penal servitude for three years.

The South Australian Register published the outcome of the day’s work of the court under a column called Criminal Side and here we find the report of Moses:

South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 – 1900), Tuesday 1 March 1859, page 3
National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article49898267

James Fletcher, alias H. Roberts, and Moses Storer, convicted on their own confession of horse-stealing.
The Chief Justice sentenced the prisoners to three years imprisonment with hard labour.
Moses Storer handed in a paper.
The Chief Justice – You should have given this in before. You state that you had not the intention to steal the animal; then you should have pleaded not guilty and went to trial. I should wish every prisoner to plead not guilty if there is any doubt in his case.

Moses seems to have got that bit wrong! I wondered what the note said. Maybe it was the receipts for the horses that couldn’t be found at the time of his arrest. Still, too little too late for Moses.

We next find him in the Register of all Persons Brought to the Common Gaol of the Province of South Australia. He had been a guest there since his arrest in January.

Moses is recorded in that on page 72. It records he was gaoled on Jan 12 1859 and notes that he could read and write, was married, his religion was Church of England, he was a labourer and arrived in the colony from London in 1848. The Date of Discharge column notes March 8/59 and in the remarks column it seems to say To Dry Creek

And sure enough in the Prisoners’ Register of the Dry Creek Labour Prison we find Moses Storer, number 323. The entry confirms that he arrived from London on the Bezolar, which may be a misspelling or mispronunciation of Bussorah, it lists 2 brothers and 3 sisters as friends in the colony. It goes on to list his physical attributes, height, weight and forehead which is defined as “Good”. His expression is also marked as “Stern”

The only other remark is that he was discharged on 9th April 1860.

Here we leave the tale of Moses, First of Our Kind, Stealer of Horses and Crawler of Cesspools.

Jan 29

For years there have been calls to rename the Margaret Court Arena, she is an Australian tennis great. Great enough for a patch of sealed land to be named after her. 2020 is the celebration of 50 years since she grand-slammed a few balls.

Court is a homophobe. She says very not nice things about anyone not-straight, and she has done this using her position as a sporting legend to generate controversy and to convey her sinister message.

Then, along comes Tim Wilson – member for Goldstein with this little beauty:

“If you believe in a society of pluralism and diversity you have to accept people will have different views on morality,” said Wilson, who is openly gay and married his long-time partner shortly after the passage of the gay marriage legislation in Federal Parliament.

[Source]
Red faced Tim Wilson

This isn’t a different view on morality, the issue here is that of gender identity and sexual orientation. The reason to rename the court isn’t because of a different moral stance, it’s because Court uses her position to vilify people. The rest of society understands that sexuality and gender are not based on morality. Wilson’s attempt to restrict it to a ‘different view on morality’ is foolish. It ignores the real harm done when sporting ‘legends’ use their status to spew rhetoric that has been shown to cause great harm to people. Sure, everyone is entitled to their opinion, doesn’t mean we need to give it credence by naming a sporting field after them.

“Airbrushing people’s legacy for expressing cultural dissent is too ‘1984’ for my liking,” Wilson added, a reference to the totalitarian dystopia of George Orwell’s novel.

[Source]

Airbrushing her legacy? Why on earth not? In any case, she isn’t being erased from the history books, we’re just asking to rename a tennis court. Her record stands. As to it being ‘1984’, that’s a little rich coming from someone who is in a government that does doublespeak all the time.

As usual, Wilson adds nothing to the debate, only ill-thought-out concepts that reek of his own bias and personal privilege.

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