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Matthew Kearns

** community contributed record **

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: Matthew Kearns
Aliases: none
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1762
Occupation: -
Date of Death: 1813
Age: 51 years

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 61 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to 7 years

Crime: Theft of household goods
Convicted at: Old Bailey
Sentence term: 7 years
Ship: Neptune, Scarborough and Surprize
Departure date: December, 1789
Arrival date: 26th June, 1790
Place of arrival New South Wales
Passenger manifest Travelled with 1072 other convicts

References

Primary source: Old Baily on line Sydney Gazette 27th March 1813
Source description:

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Community Contributions

Phil Hands on 20th March, 2017 wrote:

Tried & convicted at the Old Bailey on 23rd May 1787 for the theft of earthenware plates and bowls, sentenced to 7 years transportation.
Moved from Newgate Prison to the Prison Hulk ‘Justitia’ until 12th November 1789 when he was transfered to his transport vessel.
Left England on 19th January 1790.
Ship:- the ‘Neptune’ (2nd Fleet) sailed with 424 male & 78 female convicts on board of which 147 males and 11 females died during the voyage, (the worst death rate by far of all the transportation period).
Arrived on 28th June 1790.

From 1793 Matthew was in a relationship with convict Anne Farrelly (‘Sugar Cane’ 1793), they had 4 children before Anne died in 1809.

On 22nd March 1813, in Sydney, Matthew along with his Brother John and his son, also John were tried for the murder of Joseph Sutton, who was shot dead in a Parramatta street on the night of 5th March. All were found guilty and were hanged in Sydney on 24th march 1813.

Sydney Gazette Saturday 27th March 1813 p. 2

TRIAL FOR THE MURDER OF JOSEPH SUTTON
On Monday morning, between 9 and 10 o’clock the Court of Criminal Jurisdiction re-assembled and proceeded to the trial of Thomas Mahony and Pearce Conden, for the wilful murder of Joseph Sutton, on the night of the 5th of March instant; and Matthew Kearns, John Kearns the elder, and john Kearns the younger for inciting, moving, aiding, abetting, counselling, hiring, and commanding the said Thomas Mahoney and Pearce Conden to commit the said murder.
...At 10 o’clock the Judge Advocate and members of the Court withdrew to consider their verdict; and returning to their seats at two o’clock on Tuesday morning, all the prisoners were pronounced ‘guilty’ and received sentence of death immediately.

‘In mid March 1813 Matthew Kearns, his brother John and Matthew’s son (also John) appeared before the magistrate D’arcy Wentworth with Pierce Condon (known as Peery) and Thomas Mahoney (servants of Matthew Kearns). Condon and Mahoney were charged with the murder of Joseph Sutton, the three Kearns men were charged with incitement to murder. All were committed for trial.

The trial at the Sydney Court of Criminal Jurisdiction took place on the morning of 22 Mar 1813. Witnesses said that Joseph Sutton had been shot dead in a Parramatta street on the night of 5 March.

The Rev. Samuel Marsden deposed that he had been visiting a sick perishoner when he heard the gunshot. He saw the man’s body surrounded by a crowd which gathered in the street. It emerged that the dead man had been due to appear as a Crown witness at the trial of several persons for cattle theft, including Matthew Kearns. The two men named John Kearns charged with him were Matthew’s son and brother.

Kearns Farm at the race ground outside Windsor was mentioned [this appears to have been separate from the Nepean Farm].

Matthew Kearns had been in gaol at the time of the murder, awaiting trial on cattle duffing charges.

Eliza plumb, whose husband was also charged with cattle duffing and in gaol at the time of the murder, told the court that she had spoken to Matthew when she had visited her husband in gaol. She said that he had asked her to help - to act as a contact between Matthew and his trusted servant Pierce Condon to help them ‘get’ Sutton (who was living at the house of a Parramatta constable for protection) ‘out of the way’ and to help him (Matthew) escape to the bush.

Eliza agreed and met with Condon. Condon urged her to become friendly with Sutton so she could entice him into a vulnerable situation.

Several weeks passed and Matthew Kearns approached her again when she was visiting her husband in gaol, whispering darkly ‘You are very long about this business’.

Condon later told Eliza that Matthew Kearns and his son John (who had not been arrested) were very angry with him; he had promised them not to show his face before Matthew again ‘till he had done it’ (at this point in the evidence the prisoner Mahoney caused a stir in the court by fainting), but was revived a few minutes later whereupon Eliza continued her testimony.

Matthew’s servant, Condon, regularly drove a cart from the Kearns property to Parramatta and slept in a ‘skilling’ (or lean-to) at the back of the house in which Eliza Plumb was staying, which was a few doors from the house in which the victim Joseph Sutton was staying.

Having heard from Eliza that Sutton was out, Condon lay in wait for him in the company of Mahoney and Thomas Lewis (also a Kearns employee), who gave evidence in return for immunity.

After the shooting, Condon ran back to his bed in the skilling and Mahoney and Lewis hid under a nearby bridge, hearing Rev. Marsden walk above them calling out ‘Keep all in!’.

Mahoney and Lewis made off towards Windsor telling Matthew’s brother John and Matthew’s son (also John) that they had ‘done the trick’.

But they had left the smoking pistol in Condon’s cart. In a panic, Condon hid it in a ‘necessary’ (toilet) and it’s discovery led to his arrest the next day.

Lewis told the court that he and Mahoney had been entreated and threatened by the two John Kearns’s to help kill Sutton after they received a letter from Matthew warning that Sutton’s testimony would hang him; ‘they both shed tears and were very much affected’ he said.

The Judge Advocate described the murder as premeditated and babarous and sentenced the five men to be hanged, dissected and anatomized, quoting the dictum ‘for whoso sheddeth Man’s blood, by Man shall his blood he shed!’.

The three Kearns men were hanged at Sydney two days later on 24 March. They were allowed to walk from gaol to the place of execution. Condon and Mahoney were executed the same day at Parramatta near the site of the crime.

The trial and execution of Kearns undoubtedly caused a sensation. He was a successful businessman and had been referred to respectfully as ‘Mr’ Kearns in the colony’s newspaper.

The Irish exile, Joseph Holt knew Kearns and wrote that he had: ‘some of the best horses and mares that was in the colony, and many of them. I seen his son ride his own mare and win fifty guineas on the race cource of New South Wales.’ He said that Kearns had bought the stolen cow for four pounds less than its true value when: ‘at his shameful death, his estates and stock was valued at nine thousand pounds’.

Sydney Gazette Saturday 27th March 1813 p. 2
TRIAL FOR THE MURDER OF JOSEPH SUTTON
On Monday morning, between 9 and 10 o’clock the Court of Criminal Jurisdiction re-assembled and proceeded to the trial of Thomas Mahony and Pearce Conden, for the wilful murder of Joseph Sutton, on the night of the 5th of March instant; and Matthew Kearns, John Kearns the elder, and john Kearns the younger for inciting, moving, aiding, abetting, counselling, hiring, and commanding the said Thomas Mahoney and Pearce Conden to commit the said murder.
...At 10 o’clock the Judge Advocate and members of the Court withdrew to consider their verdict; and returning to their seats at two o’clock on Tuesday morning, all the prisoners were pronounced ‘guilty’ and received sentence of death immediately.

Convict Changes History

Phil Hands on 20th March, 2017 made the following changes:

convicted at, term: 7 years, voyage, source: Old Baily on line Sydney Gazette 27th March 1813 (prev. ), firstname: Matthew, surname: Kearns, alias1: , alias2: , alias3: , alias4: , date of birth: 1762, date of death: 1813, gender: m, occupation, crime

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