The Trials of Richard Lees

Richard Lees had a troubled career spanning a number of decades. Mostly he was a carpenter who ran to petty theft and other minor misdemeanours. In the early days, these seem to have been focussed on trying to provide food for himself and his family, mostly that of his father and mother and the remaining children of the Lees family. Later his misdemeanours became more adventurous.

Richard Lees, son of John Lees and Mary Lees nee Stevens was born in the Colony of New South Wales in 1805. In 1833, according to the Gaol Admission information about Richard, he was a tall, stout man with straw-coloured hair and brown eyes. Richard had a smattering of freckles across his face, probably due to continuous work in the sun, as a farmer and carpenter, in the early colony. He also had a small scar under his left eye.

In one of Richard’s earliest trials, he was arrested and held at Penrith before being handed over to stand trial at Windsor. Richard may well have spent his time at the Emu Plans convict farm, close to Penrith, where he would have been expected to help with the farming prior to his trial at Windsor.

The Windsor Court House was built in 1822 and this is where Richard would have faced his trial. The Windsor Court House was an imposing building. Richard would have faced a magistrates bench composed of military officers. Richard got off lightly with this early case, so his fathers standing as an ex-soldier, farmer and religious man may have helped Richard.

Windsor Court House –—in-the-beginning-part-one.html

Windsor Quarter Sessions

Tried 13th July

Verdict- Not Guilty

The King of the Prosecution of Joseph Ludd


Richard Lees

Information for a Larceny


  • Joseph Jubb
  • Thomas Beanham
  • Robert Claxton
  • James Rew
  • Samuel Henry Salinon (Salmon)

In the Court of Quarter Sessions New South Wales to wit -Be it remembered, that Frederick Garling, of Sydney, in the Colony of New South Wales, Esq. who Prosecutes for Our Sovereign Lord the King, on his behalf, being duly appointed for such purpose by His Excellency the Governor of the said Colony; and being present in the Court of General Quarter Sessions of the Peace now heron the twelfth day of July in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty one at Windsor in the said Colony, informs the said Court, that Richard Lees late of Parramatta in the Colony of New South Wales, Labourer on the first day of June in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty one at Parramatta aforesaid in the Colony aforesaid one silk handkerchief of the value of two shillings of the Goods and Chattels of one Joseph Jubb then and there being found, felonious lay did steal, take, and carry away, against the Peace of Our said Lord the King his Crown and Dignity, and against the form of the Statute, in such case made and provided. And the said Frederick Garling further informs the said Court that the said Richard Lees afterwards to wit on the same day and year call aforesaid at Parramatta- aforesaid in the Colony aforesaid one other silk Handkerchief of the value of two shillings of the Goods and Chattels of one William Hamilton then also there being found felonious lay did steal take and carry away against the peace of our said Lord the King his Crown and Dignity and against the form of the Statute in such Case made and provided.

Frederick Garling

Richard Lees states that on Monday the 30th May 1831 he was proceeding on the Road from Penrith to Sydney and at Dean’s on the Western Road he fell in company with Prosecutor, since circumstances took place- between them respecting the Examination of Thomas Bean at the Penrith Court House, a short time after Prosecutor saying he was going to Sydney, we agreed to walk together, we called at several places on the road and had something to drink until we arrived at Snowden’s were we had supper after which Prosecutor finding himself the worse for Liqueur wished to go to bed and desired me to take care of his handkerchief and some papers stating he was incapable himself. I did so- the following morning he enquired for his Handkerchief- I produced it and told him to come along and I would give it him on the Road at the Parramatta Turnpike.

Prosecutor being some distance behind. I took coach and proceeded to Sydney on the following morning I saw Prosecutor and gave him a letter directed to Mr Forbes which he had given me to take care of and I told him if he would go with me to my Lodging I would give him the Handkerchief as I had left it there, he did not and I returned to Penrith bringing the Handkerchief with me this was the Saturday and on the Monday following I received a summons to attend the Court at Penrith to answer a complaint there and then be brought forward – I thought this an opportunity to send the Handkerchief to Prosecutor my house being distance 3 Miles from the court and not having an opportunity before a short distance from the Court House I saw the before mentioned Ths Bean and gave him the Handkerchief to return to Prosecutor which he did- shortly afterwards I was to my surprise arraigned at the Bar on the charge of stealing from Prosecutor the Handkerchief I had returned I was remanded the second examination W Cox, JP Alexander was on the Bench with the Police Magistrate who contended there was not sufficient evidence to commit me, I was again remanded- third examination remanded again and on the fourth same committed being further evidence than was advised at the time Capt Cox was present no Magistrate save Cpt Wright upon the Bench. Under the above circumstances, I did not think it necessary to employ an attorney.

Rex V’s Richard Lees

Charged with theft

Fully committed to stand his trial at the next court of quarter sessions to be Holden at Windsor

Police office Penrith June 7th 1831

State Archives NSW, Quarter Sessions, Windsor 1824-37. Lees, Richard No. 10 Item 4/8485 Jul 1831, Windsor.

Quarter Session at Windsor

Before Thomas E Wright Esq. J. P.

Sup of Police

Rex v’s Richard Lees free

Charged with theft

Joseph Lubb prisoner being duly sworn states that he is assigned servant to Sir John Davis, that he borrowed a silk handkerchief from Hamilton Sir John’s Butler to go to Sydney the deposed believes the silk handkerchief produced to be the one he received from Hamilton, if it is not the same handkerchief deponent swears that produced is exactly like it- it was red and marked like the one produced and deponent has no doubt that this is the same handkerchief. Deponent on his way to Sydney last Monday, fell in with Richard Lees, the defendant, they passed the evening and slept together at Snowden’s where deponent had passed, a letter for Judge Forbes and the silk handkerchief also in his possession, in the morning when deponent rose he missed them all deponent then asked the prisoner for them, prisoner gave him the pass and then denied all knowledge of the letter and handkerchief, they proceeded on to Sydney and dept went out to Parramatta whilst Lees went into the town. Lees overtook them on the coach and then deponent again asked him for the handkerchief which Lees denied all knowledge of then again, when deponent arrived in Sydney- he went in search of Richard Lees the following morning and found him at the bottom of Brickfield Hills- Deponent asked him for the letter & Lees said he had it at ?Lawes? And whilst they were on their way there, Lees took off his hat and produced the letter and gave it to deponent, prisoner stated that he had lost the handkerchief when dept returned he told Hamilton who acquainted Sir Joshua Jamison of the facts on deponents return he met a man named Salman at Snowden’s again he told him he would bring the handkerchief up from Lees when he came up to the Nepean or else give him the value for it.

Signed Joseph Lubb

Being sworn states that this morning the 7th of June Richard Lees called to him and asked if he knew Sir Joshua Mills Wright, deponent said he did, and Lees asked him to give the handkerchief now produce to him.

Signed Thomas Beaham

Joseph Lubb re examined being sworn states that when at Snowden’s he saw the silk handkerchief with the possessions of Lees, who said he would give it to deponent when he got on the road- before this deponent had asked for the handkerchief and the prisoner denied all knowledge of it, Lees and the man named Salmon who were with them at Snowdens at the morning of deponent producing his silk handkerchief went aside to converse before they left Snowden’s deponent was coming towards them to try and get the handkerchief when Lees said if you attempt to follow me I will strike you, when deponent arrived in Sydney as detailed in his first examination Lees told him in presence of a Man named Claxton that he could not give him his silk handkerchief as he had lost it together with another of his own when drunk the night before, deponent never saw the handkerchief again until Lees got it at the Police Offices on the morning of the examination.

Signed Joseph Lubb

Robert Claxton prisoner being sworn deposed that about the week before last the end of May or beginning of June that he was in company with a man named Lubb in Sydney who told deponent that he wanted to look for a man who had a letter and handkerchief of his as deposed and Lubb was coming down the Brickfields Hills they met with some man and Lubb asked him for his letters and handkerchief- the answer the person made was that he had lost or mislaid the handkerchief and that he could not give it to him deponent does not know the person of Lees being sick at the time but the person Lubb accosted was tall and resembled the prisoner in size.

Signed Robert Claxton

James Rew free being sworn deposed that he was at Snowden’s when a man came there with Richard Lees, they had supper and slept there in the morning when the same rose he said he had lost his silk handkerchief which was round his neck, he went to Snowden to complain of it. Snowden then asked Lees if he had taken it. Lees asked what, why this handkerchief said Snowden and said here it is, deponent learned nothing of the pass or letter being given to Lees to keep. The parties went away and deponent knows nothing farther but when Lees returned from Sydney he saw the handkerchief again in Lees possession who said he should give it to them afterwards.

Signed James Rew (his mark)

James Henry Salmon so worn deposed that he was at Snowden’s as above mentioned and confirmed the statements deposed hearing nothing of a pass or letter given to Lees to keep, he heard Lees say he had Jubbs handkerchief when Lees was in Sydney and that he would give it up, on his return to Penrith.

Signed Samuel Henry Salmons

State Archives NSW, Quarter Sessions, Windsor 1824-37. Lees, Richard No. 10 Item 4/8485 Jul 1831, Windsor- Not Guilty

The Trials of Richard Lees cont.


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