Mudie, James. 1779-1852.
The felonry of New South Wales : being a faithful picture of the real romance of life in Botany Bay, with anecdotes of Botany Bay society and a plan of Sydney / by James Mudie. (London : Printed for the author by Whaley and co., 1837)
James Mudie was infamous in Sydney in Governor Bourke’s time, the early 1830s, for his savage treatment of the convicts assigned to him and for the harsh sentences he handed down from the bench, where he served as a magistrate. There were court cases, angry pamphlets and an investigation by the Governor, the result of which was that Mudie was not re-appointed as magistrate, sold his property and returned to England. The Felonry of New South Wales is an attack on the colonial society he had left behind. It made him many more enemies than he already had, and when he, very ill-advisedly, returned to the colony in 1840, he was horse-whipped by the son of Judge Kinchela whom he had maligned in the book.
MORE OF MUDIE’S COLOURFUL SNIPPETS OF LIFE IN SYDNEY. MUDIE IS FROM THE SAME GENERATION AS PATRICK MCNALLY (1787 – 1850? ) AND WRITES OF THE PERIOD WHEN MELINDA LIVED HER YOUTH IN HAWKESBURY AND SYDNEY.
The government was not more secure in its pastoral
operations. Owing to the scarcity of cattle, large herds-
on government account were formed in different parts
of the settlement. The overseers and stockmen (again of
course) were felons. After a time, there were frequent
allegations that the herds were plundered. To ascertain
the truth, an order was issued, directing that on
certain days specified, the cattle at the different stations
should be successively mustered and counted. This was
done; and, to the surprise of the informants, the different
stocks of cattle were found to be numerically
The suspicion that some deception had been practised,
was unavoidable ; and a second muster was ordered to
take place ; when some functionary, more sagacious
than the rest, suggested that the muster should take
place at all the stations on one day. An enormous deficiency
was now discovered.
On the first occasion, the guilty overseers and stockmen
had played to each others’ hands, by secretly driving,
from station to station, the requisite number of
cattle to make a show of the stock being complete at
each place successively.
Thus were laid the foundations of fortunes for another
portion of the colonial felonry