6th November 1835.
George had been drinking at William Leeder’s Tavern in Perth.
A fight with George Rewell down by the river in front of Mr. Mackie’s fence and near Mr. Hapgood’s and Partridge’s gardens. The fight took place between 10 and 11 o’clock, resulting in a ruptured bowel and death the following day.
Witnesses to the event were Thomas Clayer a boatman, Mr. Hunt and Mr. Blenchyndenon a passerby on his horse, and Robert Habgood.
Inquiry into the cause of the death of George Eyre of Perth, Fisherman.
Before W.H. Mackie Esq., Hon. P. Brown, Esq., Rev. J. B. Wittenoom, J Lewis, J.R. Lewis, J.R. Phillips and H.R. Bland, Enquires, Justices of the Peace.
[The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, Saturday 14th November 1835. Accidental Death.]
Newspaper Paper trails 1834 – 1836 indicate that George and his family had a home built on the river.
About 150 cubic yards of good Building Stone, to be placed on the Allotment occupied by Mr G. Eyre, and abreast of his house. Tenders to be made to G. Leake, Perth.
[The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal. Saturday 1st November, 1834.]
Apart from being a fisherman he also rented out a boat belonging to Mr. Armstrong.
To Let. A small easy-pulling DEAL BOAT, in good repair, will carry two or three people, with four or five hundred weight of luggage. One person can manage her easily. The property of F. Armstrong. Terms-3s. per day or 12s per week. Enquire of George Eyre. Perth, April 24.
[The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, Saturday 25th April, 1835.]
He had been allocated land further up the river which he had sold to Mr. Mews.
On the 29th Of November, 1836 after the death of her husband on the 6th November, 1835, Mrs. Eyre may have boarded the Joshua Carrol with her children and sailed for Mauritius.
Shipping Intelligence. Departures. On the 29th November, The Joshua Carrol, Captain Toby, for the Mauritius. Passengers, Captain Beete, H.M. 21st Regiment. Mrs. Lamb and her daughter, Mr. Bland, Mr. and Mrs. Hardey and family, Mrs. Eyre and children, Mr. Kerr and Captain Hill late master of the Champion.
[The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, Saturday 3rd December 1836]
William Leeder, of Perth, Publican being called, deposed -The night before last (5th Nov.) the deceased George Eyre and Rewell were at my tavern. Eyre had two glasses of grog at the bar, and asked me for a third, which I refused, because his wife had often requested my wife not to let him have grog on credit. He went into the parlour, where Rewell was sitting I was in and out at different times, but did not attend to what was going on. All who were there appeared to be “chaffing” with one another in a good-humoured way. I saw no symptoms of a quarrel. I saw him and Rewell come out of the parlour together, at the bar, and heard Rewell ask Eyre to take a glass of grog in a friendly manner.
Eyre said something to the effect that they would have but few glasses together, because Rewell was too fond of his “chaffing”. They then almost immediately went out together ; but there was no appearance of a quarrel I had no idea that they were likely to have a fight, and did not hear that they had been fighting, until the next morning. It was about half past ten O’clock when they left my house. Eyre appeared to me to be sober at the time. I think Eyre went out of the house just before Rewell ; but I did not hear Eyre call Rewell out or any conversation between them.
Thomas Hunt, sworn – I was at Leeder’s tavern the night before last (5th Nov.) I saw the deceased standing at the bar, as I went in, talking to Mrs. Leeder. He asked her for a glass of grog, she refused, and told him he had better go home, for it would do him more good in the morning. I went into the parlour; Eyre followed, and sat down. Shortly afterwards Clayer and Rewell came in.
Eyre said to me, that he hoped I would not press him for payment of some promissory notes he had given me for a net he had bought.
Rewell said “Is that the mullet net?” and then Rewell and the party began to joke Eyre, and Eyre to joke them in return, about the net, but with perfect good humour. The company began to sing-and the deceased sang. I laid down on a form and dozed, until Clayer told me they were all gone, and desired me to go home with him. On leaving Leeder’s I went down towards the river, close in front of Mr Habgood’s house, for my horse which was tethered on the river bank, near Partridge’s garden. On passing Mr. Habgood’s I heard a kind of scuffle and some voices, on the road leading down to the river. I thought it arose from one person trying to get another, the worse from liquor, home and passed on.
I had just got on my horse, when I heard a voice, which I knew to be Rewell’s say, “This is what you brought me here for, is it eh.?”
I was then satisfied that it was a fight, and pushed my horse through the bush towards them. I then saw Eyre and Rewell together; Rewell was on his legs, with his hands stretched out towards Eyre.
Rewell exclaimed to Eyre ”I suppose you brought me here to murder me!”
I got off my horse, and said to Rewell “Come, have no more of this : leave off.” Rewell pushed me on one side, and I fell down. Rewell then said that Eyre had asked him to go down to the river-side, to settle their account, and had set upon him first.
Eyre called out, “You see this, Hunt – I am seriously injured.”
When Eyre said this, he was lying on the ground, close under Mr Mackie’s fence ; but whether he was on the ground when I first cam up, or fell immediately afterwards, I cannot tell.
Gordon and Clayer came up almost immediately afterwards, and Blechynden and Mr. W. Trimmer came up about the same time. There was hardly the interval of a second of time between my coming up and the arrival of Clayer and the others.
When Eyre said he was injured, he said he was injured in his private parts, and said “I am very bad ; I cannot walk.” He did not say whether the injury was from a kick, or a blow, or a fall. He accused Rewell of having struck him a cowardly and foul blow.
Rewell said, ”No George, you began with me first, and I never struck you or any-body else a cowardly blow”
Gordon and Clayder laid hold of George’s shoulders; raised him and walked with him along the road towards his house; Clayder went up to the house door with him. It did not appear to me that there was much the matter with Eyre, but that he had kept on the ground to avoid Rewell’s striking him. They were both of them wet, and covered with mud. Eyre had blood on his face. In my opinion, from their appearance, they must have had a great deal of scuffling together. When I saw them together, before Mr. Habgood’s house, it was between ten and eleven o’clock.
Hannah Leeder, wife of William Leeder, aforesaid, deposed. – To the same effect as the evidence given by her husband.
Thomas Clyder, boatman, sworn. – The night before last Rewell and I went together to Leeder’s and went into the parlour, where we found Mr Chapman, Hunt, S. Knight and the deceased, Eyre. Hunt and Eyre were talking, as we entered, about a net.
Rewell said, Is that the mullet net?”
Mr. Chapman proposed a song, and several songs were sung. Eyre sang the first song, but could not get through it, because he forgot the words ; he appeared sober, but was merry. I did not see an person give him liquor in the parlour. Eyre and Rewell left the parlour about the same time, seemingly good friends with each other. Shortly afterwards I aroused Hunt, who was sleeping : Hunt went down the hill, towards the river, for his horse. I stood waiting for him at the front door, talking with Gordon. We heard a noise as if some people were fighting, near the palings in front of Mr. Habgood’s house. I, at the same time, saw Hunt riding his horse up the hill, and fond Eyre and Rewell together, along with hunt and Blechynden.
I said to Rewell, “Hallo, George ! Have you been fighting?” for I saw a mark of blood on his shoulder. Rewell appeared much agitated, and in a passion, and said, “that wretch, pointing to Eyre, who was lying on the ground, has got me here, and began fighting me”
Blechynden pacified Rewell, and drew him away home. I and Gordon assisted Eyre to rise. Eyre complained that he had received a violent blow on his navel, and said he was very much injured.
He repeatedly said, as we walked with him home, “Oh my navel ! Oh my navel !”
I supposed he had got it in fighting. I got him to his own door, which his wife opened, and he immediately fell, head foremost into the room. I thought at the time that Eyre had received a serious injury, because he could not walk upright, doubled up, with his hand constantly on his navel. Not more than 7 or 8 minutes had elapsed between my seeing Eyre and Rewell go out of the parlour and my afterwards seeing Eyre on the ground opposite Mr. Hapgood’s.
Mr. Joseph Harris, being sworn, deposed .- I was called yesterday forenoon about half o’clock, to attend the deceased, who was complaining of a violent pain in his bowels. I saw him shortly afterwards.
He said he had received a blow on his left side. I examined it, and found it very sensitive. I told him he must be bled ; he objected to this, as he had been told in England that if ever he was bled, he would die. I had occasion to go up the river on the same day, and as his wife said that Dr Davidson had attended the family, I requested that gentleman to attend the deceased during my absence. Dr Davidson has informed me that he applied leeches, and had also bled the deceased. The deceased to me that the blow was inflicted by a fist, and named the person who gave him the blow, but I do not recollect his name. He said he had been provoked to quarrel in consequence of having been annoyed about an invoice. He did not complain to me of any other blow than the one on his left side.
On examining his left side, there was an external mark of a blow visible ; but the spot was a little to the left of his navel. He did not complain of any foul blows or unfair fighting. This morning I examined the body of the deceased along with Dr. Davidson. The bowels appeared to be generally inflamed, particularly at the before-mentioned spot to the left of his navel. The Omentum and peritonaeal coat both showed marks of injury. I found the bowels ruptured in one place, the spot before mentioned, a little to the left of the navel, and a considerable effusion of serum had taken place, which I consider quite sufficient to have caused his death. I attribute his death to the rupture of bowels. Even if the inflammation had subsided, he must have died from the rupture ; even if surgical aid had been called in immediately, the deceased could not have been saved. The blow of a fist might undoubtedly, if violent , have produced the rupture of the bowels, without leaving any external mark so soon after the accident, but in my opinion such an injury in the deceased’s case, was more likely to have been occasioned by his falling on a pointed but blunt object, like the top of a wooden paling.
George Rewell, being asked if he had any thing to say in answer to the above depositions, stated as follows: – All that the witnesses have said as to what took place between me and the deceased up to the time of our leaving Leeder’s, is quite correct.
When he called me out of the house, I went out, and said to him, just outside the front door, “Now what is it?” He said he had something very particular to say to me, and asked me to go down to the water-side. I asked him why he could not as well say it where we were, as by the water-side. He caught hold of my arm in a friendly way, as thought ; I again asked him why he could not speak at once.
He said, No, we must go down to the water-side. We walked several yards down the road leading to the river, in front of Habgood’s. When we had got in front of Mr. Habgood’s house, I refused to go any further.
He said he intended to give me a good threshing – I asked what for.
He said because I had been so fond of my “Chaff”
I said, “Surely Mr. Eyre, you are dreaming : you are not serious ?”
He said no I am not, and instantly pushed his head against my body, as I was standing with my hands in my pocket, and caught hold of my legs with his arms, and threw me backwards to the ground, and got upon me and held me down.
I asked him what he meant to do with me – whether he meant to use violence to me, or not.
He said “No he did not mean me any mischief,” – and then let me go.
We got up, and I asked him his reason for what he had done.
He said he would serve me so again, and immediately threw me in a pool of water, in a tub sunk in the ground. He fell with me, and on me. We both fell close to the tub.
I again asked him what he meant, and I got irritated. He let go of me, and we got up again.
I asked him whether that was the way he meant to pay his debts, or settle his accounts.
He made a rush at me and caught hold of my left leg ; but I was on my guard, and though he brought me down, I twisted round so that he did not fall on me, but fell into the water himself. I fell with my left arm over the tub – and to the best of my belief, me must have fallen on the tub. We got up again.
He said he had thrown me three times, and considered himself the better man.
I told him if he tried it again, I would knock him down again. He again came towards me, and supposing that he meant to throw me again, I struck him in the face, believing it was necessary for my self-defence, and fell on the road, where he lay when Hunt cam up on horseback. I never struck the deceased or lifted my hand to him but once, when I struck him on the face.
During the scuffle, I saw someone come near us, and I said to the person “Come here” ; but the person went away. The whole scuffle from the first time he threw me, to his being knocked down by me, was from five to ten minutes.
Robert Habgood, of Perth, aforesaid merchant, being sworn, deposed. – About ten o’clock the night before last, I was returning home, when I heard a scuffling just opposite my house, as if some persons were fighting. I listened, and distinctly heard voices, which I knew to be those of Eyre and Rewell. Rewell was making use of very bad words, and appeared to be very much exasperated about something that had taken place.
I heard Rewell say “You have called me down here to fight, and you shall fight, “ – and I then heard several heavy blows. I heard Eyre (but whether after or before the blows I do not recollect) offer to shake hands with Rewell.
Rewell said “Never, after what has taken place.” It was moonlight, but in a spot shaded by trees, and at one time Eyre appeared to me to be down on the ground, near a sunk tub, with water in it.
I heard Rewell say ”Well, with all, I will help you “ ; but Rewell used some oaths at the same time against Eyre, calling him a bloody villain. I saw Rewell raise him ; after that, I saw them fighting and scuffling together. I thought of going over to part them ; but at that time Hunt came up, and sever other parties, I then went in doors. Before Hunt came up I did not hear Eyre complain of any hurt or harm The tub has about a foot of it above the ground, and is very rough at the top.
William Jones, Of Perth, aforesaid, domestic servant, being sworn, deposed – The night before last I heard a row in front of my master’s house. I went out, and saw Eyre and Rewell fighting. I saw Eyre stoop down and throw Rewell twice. I went near to them.
Rewell came towards me and asked who I was, and what business I had there. I walked off a little way ; I then saw Eyre throw Rewell a third time ‘ Eyre fell along with Rewell quite close to the lower side of the tub : he might haven fallen on it, for what I know. I saw Eyre rise afterwards, and saw Rewell strike him in the face, and Eyre stoop down, as if nearly falling down, and he stood for a minute or so, and then did fall.
I heard Rewell use some bad language to Eyre.
I heard Eyre ask Rewell to shake hands. Rewell refused. I was quite near enough to see their persons, and to know them. I did not hear Eyre complain of any harm. When Eyre threw Rewell the third time, and fell, he (Eyre) raised so far as if sitting, and then asked Rewell to help him up – and Rewell did so.
Eyre asked for help, in a way as if he had been hurt, and stooped as if he could not stand upright. I am quite sure that up to that time, Rewell did not strike Eyre.
Mr. J. Harris re-examined, deposed – I have examined the tub referred to by the witnesses, and pointed out to me by the witness Robert Habgood. One of the staves has the corner of its top broken off – a piece about three inches long and an inch and a half deep, which is still attached to the other portion of the broken stave. It is my opinion, that if the deceased had fallen with his face towards the tub, and with the front part of his body, upon the stave in question, such a fall is very likely to have caused the injury, and rupture of the bowels, which he received. If I had been asked, after first having seen the deceased, whether in my opinion the blow of a fist or a fall on a stave or paling, was the most likely to have produced such an injury. Between the broken stave I allude to and the next entire stave, there is a space of about twelve inches, within the tops of the intervening staves, are broken down to the first iron hoops, and sufficient to have admitted the side of the deceased in his fall.
The Justices present were of opinion that the deceased met with his death accidentally. [Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, (WA : 1833 – 1847) Saturday, 14 November, 1835.]
In the administration of George Eyre, late of Perth, in the Colony of Western Australia, Fisherman deceased.
To the next of kin of the said George Eyre, and to all Christian People. You, and each of you, are hereby cited to appear, on the 19th day of January instant, at the Office of the Civil Court of the said Colony, and or there take upon you, or one of you, the administration of the Goods and Chattles, Rights, Credits and Effects of the said George Eyre, deceased, represented to have died intestate, or forever renounce the same. By the Court, A.H. Stone, Registrar Ordinary.
On the application of Thomas Hunt of Thomas Hunt of Perth, a Creditor of the said George Eyre, deceased.
[Perth Gazette and Western Australian 9th January, 1836]
Death of George Eyre.
We have given this week a full report of the examination before the Magistrates, touching the unhappy circumstances attending the death of George Eyre. As this examination was going on when we went to press on Saturday last, we were misled by partial statements and erroneously attributed his death to intoxication. In justice to the feelings of the widow, and from a perusal of the evidence, we feel it our duty to make this acknowledgement.
[Perth Gazette Western Australian Saturday 14th November, 1835.]
Surrender of Land. The undermentioned Application for the surrender of Land having been received, in conformity with the Public Notice issued from this Office on the 29th of September last. His Excellency the Governor has been pleased to direct the publication of the same, with the view of affording interested persons an opportunity to stating their objection to such surrenders being made.
Thomas William Mews. To surrender 1,140 acres of Land, being portion of a Grant situate to the southwest of a location belonging to W.L. Brockman, on the left bank of the Avon River Yorkshire, and originally assigned to George Eyre, and sold by him to Thomas William Mews.
[Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, Saturday 11th August, 1838.]
Written by Myree McGoldrick – East Perth Cemeteries Volunteer