Mid North Coast Pioneers - Newcastle to Lismore and beyond

Alice May TRICKLEBANKAge: 66 years18831949

Given names
Alice May
Married name
Alice May HARTUP
Birth about 1883 39

Death of a fatherEdwin TRICKLEBANK
October 10, 1892 (Age 9 years)
Address: Outside his residence in Close Street.
perpetrator: George MORTONstep-son
Cause: Shot by his son-in-law, Mr. George Morton
Quality of data: primary evidence
Publication: Newspaper NSW : 1843 - 1893
Citation details: Thursday 13 October 1892, page 5
Tricklebank - Edwin - Inquest report
Tricklebank - Edwin - Inquest report

Note: Downloaded from Trove.

Publication: Newspaper NSW : 1843 - 1893
Citation details: Thursday 1 December 1892, page 7

Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893), Thursday 1 December 1892, page 7

The Morpeth Murder Case.


At the Central Criminal Court, Sydney, on Tuesday, before his Honor Judge Murray and a jury, Mr. Healy prosecuting on behalf of the Crown, George Morton, a young man of 19, was charged with feloniously and maliciously murdering Edwin Trickelbank at Morpeth on the 10th October, 1892. The accused, who pleaded not guilty, was defended by Mr. B. R. Wise and Mr. Mocatta.

Mr. Healy said that the prisoner was charged with murdering Edwin Trickelbank, his stepfather, but, under the indictment, if the evidence justified them, the jury could find him guilty of man-slaughter. The case was one of a very painful character. It appeared that Trickelbank and the accused lived in the same house with the wife of the deceased and mother of Morton and some children. On October 10, which was a Monday, the prisoner, who was a labourer, employed on one of the wharfs at Morpeth, went home at about half-past 5 o'clock. His stepfather was at home at time, and one of his daughters, but the mother was unfortunately absent. Morton went into his room, and Trickelbank, who was standing on the front verandah, passed into the house and complained about his having brought opossum-skins into the house, as they were a nuisance. The prisoner brought his gun—a double-barrelled breech-loader —into the yard. It had been loaded on the previous Saturday night, and he discharged one barrel into the air. As it happened, a young woman named Dickson was leading a horse down a lane beside the yard, and the report startled it. The stepfather, hearing the report, came out and said, " You might have waited until the woman went by," and made as if to chase the young man. He ran away by means of a lane beside the house into the street, his stepfather still pursuing him. When Tricklebank had nearly caught the accused the latter turned round, and the gun went off. A girl living next door said that Morton said, " If you lay hold of me I will shoot," and she said she saw him raise the gun to his shoulder and fire. The daughter of the deceased said her stepbrother did not say anything, nor did he raise the gun, but anyhow it went off, and Trickelbank fell down, and it was subsequently discovered that he had been killed instantly, the charge having penetrated into his heart. When the accused was taken into custody, he said, " I am the culprit," and he added that his stepfather always kicked up a row when he was going opossum-shooting. The constable said that at that time Morton appeared to have been drinking, but, under ordinary circumstances, drunkenness was no excuse for crime. On the road to the lockup he denied having shot his stepfather wilfully. These was a section in the Criminal Law Amendment Act which enabled a jury to find a person guilty of manslaughter if he took another's life under provocation, but in that case, there must at least be a violent blow or menace, and it would be shown that Trickelbank had nothing in his hand when he was chasing the accused, and in no way went to strike him.

The first witness called was Nellie Trickelbank, a daughter of the deceased, and the stepsister of the accused. She said her father and brother were at home at about half-past 5 o'clock on the evening of October 10, when her father said, " George, you have no business to leave opossum skins lying about the house. You ought to take them away." He muttered something to himself, and came out of the room with the gun in his hand. It was loaded in both barrels, and was at full cock. He took it into the yard and fired one barrel into the air. Just then Agnes Dickson was leading a horse up from her yard. At the report of the gun her horse started, reared up, and nearly jumped on her, her father was at that time on the verandah, and he walked through the house and said, " George, you might have waited until that lady had gone by with her horse before you fired off the gun." George then again muttered something, and witness's father said, " I won't have any of your cheek here," and chased George through the house, around the side, and into the road. Father had nearly caught up to George, when the latter turned round quickly and the gun went off. He never said a word, and father was five or six yards away and had nothing in his hands. Her father stood for a moment ; then he began to stagger, before a flow of blood came from his heart. She went to the bar-racks, and her brother went along the road in the direction of Miss Dickson. When she got back with the police her father was lying dead. She was positive her brother said nothing after the gun went off, and he and her father were usually on good terms. They were friendly at dinner-time that day.

By Mr. Wise : I never noticed if my brother knocked against the fence when the gun went off, but he was quite close to it, and looked as if he were turning to get over it. I am sure he did not raise the gun when it went off. I never heard him say, " What have I done ? It can't be true." If I said that in the Coroner's Court I made a mistake. My father had been drinking that after-noon, but I did not notice if George had.

Agnes Dickson, in answer to Mr. Healy, gave corroborative evidence, and added that after the second report she heard George Morton say, " You will never lay your ——— hands on me for the future."

Mr. Wise: Did you tell anyone before the in-quest that you knew nothing about the case because you were too frightened to notice anything ? I forget.

At the inquest, did you say one word of anything being said by the prisoner about his father laying his hands on him ? No.

Kate Naughton, who resided next door to Tricklebank, gave corroborative evidence to some extent, but swore that when the gun went off for the second time Morton placed it to his shoulder, and his father at once fell. At the same time he said, " It you lay your hands on me, you dog, I will shoot you."

In reply to Mr. Wise, witness admitted that she had told Mr. Shaw before the inquest that she knew nothing about the affair until after the second report, when she went to the front door and saw Mr. Tricklebank lying on the ground. That, however, was not true, and she said it because she did not want to be dragged into the case. She ad-mitted that she was not on good terms with Mrs. Trickelbank, who would never speak properly to her.

Senior-constable Ritchie said when he got to the scene of the tragedy the accused said " I am the culprit." He appeared to be drunk, and added, " I shot him with the gun ; he always makes a row when I go out opossum shooting." Trickelbank was lying dead, opposite his house, close to a two rail fence. Witness went into the house with accused and got the gun, which had a cover on, but both barrels appeared to have been recently dis-charged. There was blood on the fence, and on the chest of deceased.

To Mr. Wise: Witness said deceased was a powerful man, and rather quarrelsome when under the influence of drink.

Dr. Bennett said he examined the body of Edwin Trickelbank, which was lying near a fence, opposite his residence. He saw he was dead, and had the body removed to the house. There was a large hole in his clothing on the left side, near the region of the heart. On making a postmortem examination he found a wound two inches in diameter. Part of one rib had been carried away, and a clean hole was made in the chest. The left lung was lacerated, and the heart was lacerated, and he found pellets of shot in the muscles of the back. The injuries, which were caused by a gunshot, must have caused instantaneous death, and the gun had apparently been fired close to the body, and held in front of the body. He saw the prisoner at that time, and he appeared to be under the influence of drink, but he did not examine the body for traces of alcohol.

Annie J. Trickelbank, the widow of deceased, and mother of the accused, said her son had borrowed the gun to go out opossum shooting. He loaded it on Saturday night for that purpose. There had been minor disturbances between her husband and son, but nothing to impress them on her mind.

Mr. Healy said that was the case for the Crown. Accused made a statement to the jury. He said " I remember on the 10th being very drunk. I do not remember much of the affair that happened. I was very frightened and ran against the fence, and the gun went off. I was always the best of friends with my stepfather, and occasionally worked for him. There had never been any words or row between us before."

Morton then expressed a desire to give evidence, and was put into the box and examined by Mr. Wise. He said that his father made some remark to him about the opossum skins, and he (accused) said he would be going out shooting soon and take them with him. He went into his room and got the gun, and taking it into the yard, discharged it in the air. Accused's evidence bore out that given by his sister as to his father representing to him that he should have waited until Miss Dickson had passed. In reply to this he made a cheeky remark, and deceased ran after him. He went across the road, and when he was attempting to get through the fence he knocked against it, and the gun went off. He was holding the gun across his arm, but went to turn it when it went off. It rebounded and hit him in the face. He never had any intention of shooting his father, or even pointing the gun at him. He never faced his father after starting to run away from him. He never put the gun to his shoulder, or said, " If you lay a hand on me, you dog, I will shoot you." After deceased fell he (accused) said something to the effect, " What have I done; it can't be true." He was horrified and surprised.

To Mr. Healy : Witness said the gun struck the bottom rail of the fence as he was getting through, and went off.

Mr. Wise, in addressing the jury, said that there was no doubt as to the cause of the death of deceased; but, probably, the only point that his Honor would put to them was whether the occurrence was intentional or accidental. If it were intentional accused deserved, and probably would be hanged ; but if it were accidental he deserved the deepest commiseration. He proceeded to deal with the evidence, and asked them if they could really say that it proved to them beyond all reasonable doubt that accused intended to murder deceased ? There was not the least doubt that the gun was in the house accident-ally, and was not taken there with any idea of shooting the man. The evidence of the three female witnesses as to how the actual shooting took place differed, and there was some difference as to the remark accused made at the time the gun went off. The young sister, however, was clear that Morton never said anything at all like that attributed to him by Miss Dickson or by Miss Naughton, and her evidence was given much more clearly than that of the other girls, and she certainly was in a better position to see and hear what actually occurred than anyone else. The statement of accused that he struck the gun against the fence was rather borne out by the evidence of the doctor as to the nature of the wound, but even if they did believe that Agnes Dickson's evidence was right, and that accused said " You will not lay your hands on me again," would they say that such a remark from a drunken man was sufficient to show that he had committed a deliberate murder, and should be hanged?

Mr. Healy also addressed the jury, and maintained that there was nothing in the evidence to lead them to the conclusion that the occurrence was accidental.

His Honor, in summing up, said that the jury must not look out for some shadowy ground on which they could find a verdict inconsistent with the evidence out of a natural desire to be as lenient as possible, but must act in the heavy responsibility cast on them to find a true verdict. The defence was a singular one—that the deceased was killed by accident. The jury would have to say whether the evidence bore out that contention ; and if they found that the death of Trickelbank was not due to an accident, it would be possible for them to find that the evidence reduced the offence from murder to manslaughter. Like so many offences that occurred in the colony, there was doubt that the tragedy was largely due to drink. It seemed clear that if both the parties had not been under the influence of drink the affair would not have happened. That drink was primarily the cause of the death of the man might be taken into consideration by them in one relationship, but the law was that if a man were led by drink to do an act of violence which he would not have done if he had been sober, he was just as responsible for that act of violence as if he had been sober, and they could only admit drink as an element in the case if they found it conduced to an accident. His Honor then reviewed the evidence of the three girls—the principal witnesses—and said while the evidence of Naughton and Dickson was not inconsistent with an accident, was it consistent with common sense that a man, having just shot his stepfather, would use an insulting term, as it was alleged accused had done? The evidence seemed to agree that accused was in a rather irritable and stupid state of drunkenness, and the jury should consider how far that would affect his actions.

The jury, after an hour's retirement, found prisoner guilty of manslaughter, with a recommendation to mercy, and he was remanded for sentence.

Marriage of a half-siblingErnest Ryan TRICKLEBANKAlice Maud PETTITView this family
about 1897 (Age 14 years)
MarriageJesse Francis HARTUPView this family
about 1900 (Age 17 years)
Marriage of a half-siblingFrederick Charles FERRYEllen Maud “Nellie” TRICKLEBANKView this family
about 1901 (Age 18 years)
Death of a half-sisterEllen Maud “Nellie” TRICKLEBANK
December 13, 1943 (Age 60 years)
Citation details: FERRY ELLEN 25541/1943 EDWIN CATHERINE AUBURN
Quality of data: primary evidence
Death of a half-brotherErnest Ryan TRICKLEBANK
about 1946 (Age 63 years)
Death July 18, 1949 (Age 66 years)
Quality of data: primary evidence
Address: Portion 2C Plot 0370
Religion: Anglican
Hartup - Alice May and Jesse Francis
Hartup - Alice May and Jesse Francis

Note: Image kindly made available by the volunteers at Australian Cemeteries Index.

Family with parents - View this family
Marriage: August 14, 1882Morpeth, New South Wales, Australia
17 months
Father’s family with Catherine MURPHY - View this family
Marriage: about 1871Maitland, New South Wales, Australia
2 years
Birth: about 1872 28Morpeth, New South Wales, Australia
Death: about 1876Morpeth, New South Wales, Australia
2 years
Birth: about 1873 29Morpeth, New South Wales, Australia
Death: about 1876Morpeth, New South Wales, Australia
2 years
2 years
Birth: about 1875 31Morpeth, New South Wales, Australia
Death: about 1882Morpeth, New South Wales, Australia
3 years
Birth: about 1877 33Morpeth, New South Wales, Australia
Death: about 1879Morpeth, New South Wales, Australia
3 years
Mother’s family with MORTON - View this family
Family with Jesse Francis HARTUP - View this family
Jesse Francis HARTUP
Birth: about 1877Paterson, New South Wales, Australia
Death: July 23, 1956Newtown, New South Wales, Australia
Marriage: about 1900Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

BirthHeadstone - Hartup - Alice May and Jesse Francis
MarriageH - Marriages Registered in New South Wales
DeathH - Deaths Registered in New South Wales
Quality of data: primary evidence
DeathHeadstone - Hartup - Alice May and Jesse Francis
BurialWeb Site - Australian Cemeteries Index