Murder of two policemen, and suicide of the murderer, PN22/09/77/00

Are you interested in the ne’re-do-wells and crims of colonial Victoria, and those who helped catch them?

There are many tools and resources to help you find out more about lives of crime and justice in Victoria and Port Phillip.

If you want to find out what was illegal, and what kind of crimes were being committed, Paul Mullaly’s excellent book Crime in the Port Phillip District 1835-51 is the place to start. It includes summaries of hundreds of court cases, using information gathered from newspapers, and government and court archives. Name and subject indexes for Mullaly’s book are available on his publisher’s website; and printed copies of the indexes are shelved next to the book in the Library’s La Trobe Reading Room. The subject index allows you to search for mentions of specific types of crimes, for example pig-stealing, or sexual crimes against men or women.

A striking feature of Mullaly’s book is the diversity of lives represented, from Dick the Melbourne ‘taffee man’ (sweet maker), to William Robinson the Indonesian shepherd, and Chundabully, a Hindu man who gave evidence against Ned Kelly. Other documents from the same era – like Prisoners: committals, trials from 1st July to 31st December 1853 and 1st January to 30th June 1854 – also include a rich and suprising variety of names which may not be highlighted in traditional colonial histories:

Appovoo (committed Bacchus Marsh, acquitted of stealing in Melbourne, 1853)
Casmeriri, Pasquale (convicted of larceny in Melbourne, 1853)
Gosm, Nasir Hadge (convicted of child stealing in Castlemaine, 1854)
Von Der Feez, Adam (acquitted of larceny in Melbourne, 1853)

Mullaly’s research refers to documents stored at the Public Record Office Victoria. One of their most significant sets of records are criminal trial briefs (record series VPRS 30). Briefs include the documentation created by Crown prosecuters when individuals were committed for trial on indictable and capital offences (more information). Trials relating to these offences were held in either the Supreme Court or Court of General Sessions (now known as the County Court). You can access the Uhl index to criminal trial briefs (1841-1861) online, however it’s worth noting that that the Public Record Office Victoria holds a more complete index on microfilm.

The State Library has a copy of the Uhl index of Victorian Supreme Court records, 1841-1873. This index will help you to find:

V. 1. Index of soldiers, index of seamen, index of pastoral properties, index of place names, index of convicts to Tasmania.
V. 2. Index of police
V. 3. General index of names A-C
V. 4. General index of names D-H
V. 5. General index of names I-P
V. 6. General index of names Q-Z
V. 7 Index of medical men
V. 8. Index of ships and shipping, 1841-1863
Lithograph showing Supreme Court buildings on the corner of Russell and La Trobe Streets Melbourne in 1853.Supreme Court & Gaol, 1853, H889

To discover many more resources to help you research law making and breaking in colonial Victoria, visit our guide to Court cases in Australia.  The Library have also digitised many images from the 1870s periodical Police News.

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