- News of the day
THE DISTRICT COURT. Thursday, 15th June.
The quarterly sitting of the District Court was opened here at ten o'clock this morning. His Honour Judge Miller presiding, and Mr. H. E. King appearing to prosecute on behalf of the Crown.
Martin Funk, was charged with having, on the 7th of May last, at Raglan, unlawfully taken, and caused to be taken, Christina Louisa Parsons out of the possession of, and against the will of, her father, Edwin Parsons, publican, Raglan, with intent to have carnal knowledge of her, she then being an unmarried girl under the ag of eighteen years, to wit, seventeen years and seven months.
The accused, who was defended by Mr. Swanwick, pleaded not guilty.
After several challenges, the following jurors were empanelled : — Messrs. J. Neilsen, E. Adams, M. Leahy, C. Fleetwood, B. Bogh, A. Gunn, T. Murphy, G. H. Birch, E. Farrington, W. Conachan, W. Earl, and G.Hallett.
Edward Parsons, licensed victualler, residing at Raglan, said he first saw accused on the 29th of January last, when accused came to witness's place with his brother and three horses; he had a daughter named Christina Louisa, who was present in Court; she was born on the 20th of September, 1875; her mother's name was Christina Parsons; the certificate (produced) was that of the birth of witness's daughter Christina; be had a conversation with accused about his daughter on the 27th of February ; on that date accused asked witness if he would let him have Christina, and witness replied “She is too young. I could not do without her ; she is only between sixteen and seventeen yet;” on several occasions after this accused asked for the girl, and witness replied on one occasion “I have no objections to a young man who has a home to take her to, but I must know where she is going first;” in consequence of what he afterwards heard, he told accused to pay up what he owed and clear; accused was stopping at witness's place off and on; from a report he heard, he wrote a letter to accused's wife to which he received a reply; after receiving the reply be showed accused the letter which he told him came from his wife; accused replied that it was not his wife at all and that he was not married; accused also said it was a girl who used to live with him; it was on the 24th of April when he asked accused to clear; accused said that he had two horses to finish breaking in and he asked witness to allow him to stay until he had finished; witness remembered Sunday, the 7th of May, on which date he was at home; he saw his daughter Christina on that day at home; he also saw accused at his place on that day; he went to bed about half-past eight; witness had to pass through his daughter's room to go into his own, and he locked the door of her room leading on to the verandah; witness got up at six o'clock the next morning and went through his daughter's room; he noticed the door leading to the dining-room was open, and he saw that Christina had gone ; . he noticed a letter on the dining room table; neither accused nor witness's daughter were in the home that morning; he next saw his daughter at the Royal Hotel, Rockhampton, on the 9th of May, and he saw accused next in the prisoners' dock; he never consented to his daughter going away with defendant; his wife had been dead nearly two years; the letter (produced) was the one he found on the morning of the 8th of May; the signature “Martin” was in accused's hand-writing, as also was the body of the letter; he never delegated his authority over his daughter to anyone else; she was in his sole charge; his daughter Christina had no horses of her own.
Cross-examined : He never told his daughter to leave the house nor did he threaten to turn her out ; he remembered Saturday, 6th of May; a woman named Mrs. Clowes did not make a complaint to him on that day ; Mrs. Clowes told witness on the 5th of May that Christina was washing accused's clothes, and witness said he would not allow Christina to wash for anyone ; he never told Christina that he would kick her out bag and baggage; he did not say to his daughter on the 7th of May “When Martin has gone to-morrow, I will give you a good hammering;” he never threatened to strike his daughter.
Christina Louisa Parsons, daughter of Edwin Parsons, said up till the 7th of May last she lived at her father's place at Raglan ; she knew the accused Martin Funk, whom she first saw on the 28th of January last; she had been on friendly terms with accused; accused asked her to marry him about February; she remembered Sunday night the 7th of May; during that day she was at her father's place; she went to her bedroom about half -past seven; at about half-past nine she got up, and Funk went away for the horses; when she went out Funk had the horses at the gate, and she got her saddle and saddled one of the horses; she had some of her clothes wrapped up in an oilcloth, which she took to the Gracemere Hotel; she packed np some other clothes which she put in the mail coach ; Funk carried the clothes to the coach; she had had a conversation with Funk about six weeks previous to this, when she talked of leaving home; the letter (produced) was the one written by Funk on the 7th of May ; that was her signature attached to it. The letter was as follows :—
Raglan Hotel, 7/3/93
Dear Edwin.- It is with the greatest regret and pain that I pen this information to you. A little while back you gave your permission for me to marry Christina. Mrs Clowes went to Gladstone, and when she came back things were not the same. I gave you then to understand, and her also, that I would always be true and faithful to Christina. I told you and her the same thing, that I would have her in spite of you all, and I have kept my word. I am taking her to a good home, where she will have all my love and care. I love your daughter madly, fiercely. I will always be true to her. In a few years perhaps, Edwin, you may think, and if thought remains, of her whose heart you tried to break for the sake of trying to please Mrs. Clowes. I am going back to Wombah Station where I will have a good house to live in, and where Christina will be surrounded by kind and loving friends. When I told you I was not married you did not believe me, but I again repeat I am not a married man. I will marry Christina at once and be true and loving to her throughout life. Why did you doubt and mistrust me without just cause? Mrs Clowes is a bitter and cruel enemy of me, but she has done no harm, thank God, to either of us. You can take the trouble if you like to follow us, but remember, I overheard you say to Christina that you would kick her out of the house. There is a law to protect a child from remaining at home if she can prove that she was tormented until she was forced leave her home through unkindness etc. With reference to the account I owe you I will send it to you as soon as ever I arrive at Wombah. At present I shall require all the money to carry us away. Hoping you will not blame me, but consider how could I possibly leave Christina, loving her as I do. If you write to Wombah Station I shall at any time only be happy to answer any communications you may want to know yourself. Mrs. Clowes will be able to manage the house comfortably. If Christina were to remain here, her pure young life would be unhappy. I would not for the world deceive Christina. I have told her everything. She is leaving her home here in Raglan of her own free will. She says it is without one single regret. The only thing that does grieve her are her young sisters and brothers; but it is to be hoped that yourself and Mrs. Clowes will give them every care and attention. God knows, it is very hard and cruel that we have to go away like the way we have, but it was our only way. Blame Christina and me if you like; but, Edwin, remember I told you I would have her, therefore think of Martin as you win, but I swear to God I will always be true and loving to Chris, and if you will only let me I will be kind and honorable to you. If you will answer my letters I will write to you from Wombah and explain anything that you may ask me. I cannot be any fairer. This is all I ask until you know me better. I hope you do not think too hard on Christina, but forgive both her and me for the abrupt manner in which we left you, and wishing you every success and happiness, and that you may live to a ripe old age. God bless you and your children. We remain yours faihtfully and forgiving, Martin and Christina.
Witness continuing: - When they went away they rode until they reached the Gracemere Hotel; before reaching this hotel accused told her she was to pass as his wife; they only had one bedroom at the hotel which contained one bed; about a fortnight after she knew accused she told him she was between seventeen and eighteen years old; shortly before they left Raglan she told accused she was eighteen years of age in answer to a question from him; she was only joking at the time, and that was why she told him she was eighteen; she was present when the accused was arrested at the Gracemere Hotel.
Cross-examined : They were talking about ages soon after she knew Funk, and it was then that she told him she was between seventeen and eighteen; on a subsequent occasion accused said “Which am I to believe; are you seventeen or eighteen? and she replied “I am eighteen;” she also told accused she was eighteen before she left Raglan; accused said he believed she was eighteen years of age; before she left Raglan she knew accused was a married man; she knew he was married some time before they left Raglan; her father had threatened her but not directly ; her father said to her about the 5th of May “When Martin goes away on Monday I will give you a jolly good hammering;” she heard her father say to Mrs. Clowes, after Mrs. Clowes had complained about witness washing accused's clothes, “If she doesn't like to do what you tell her she can go;” her father also said to her “If she did not like to do what Mrs. Clowes told her she could go away with Funk;” Mrs, Clowes was the cook at her father's place; witness did all the house work.
Mr. King: You were examined in the Police Court in this case, weren't yon ?
Mr. King: You didn't say at the Police Court that your father threatened you.
Mr. Swanwick: I object to this, your Honour. He can't cross-examine his own witness.
Mr. King: I submit I am entitled to point out any inconsistency, and I will ask your Honour’s permission to go a little further, because as this girl agreed to go away with defendant on that night, it is probable she will try to shield him.
His Honour: You can ask why she did not say that in the Police Court.
Mr. King : Why didn't you say anything about your father threatening you when you were examined in the Police Court? Witness : I wasn't asked that question.
Mr. King: Did your father ever directly threaten yon to leave his house ? Witness: No, not directly.
Mr. King : Did you know when you came away with the defendant that you were going against your father's consent ? Witness: No.
Mr. King : Had you your father's consent ? Witness: No.
His Honour: This is not re-examination.
Charles Albert Devenish, licensee of the Gracemere Hotel, said on the 8th of May last, he saw accused and Miss Parsons at his hotel at about five o'clock in the morning; accused asked for accommodation for himself and his missus; witness gave accused a room with a double bed in it; the two went into it, and stopped there until about half-past eight, when witness called them for breakfast.
Cross-examined: There were other rooms on the same floor as the bedroom.
By Mr. King: He saw the two go into the room. This concluded the case for the Crown, and Mr King handed the depositions given by accused in the Police Court to His Honour, who read them aloud.
Mr. Swanwick called the defendant.
Martin Funk, horse-breaker, said he first knew Edwin Parsons and his daughter on the 28th of January last; he got friendly with the Parsons, and spoke to Miss Parsons about matrimony; he told Miss Parsons he was a married man, but be thought he could get a divorce, and he asked her if she would be agreeable to marry him if he got the divorce; Miss Parsons said she would see what her father said; witness saw Mr. Parsons and said that there was an obstacle in the way, but if that was removed would he allow him to marry his daughter, and Mr. Parsons said “Yes;” soon after he knew Miss Parsons, they had a conversation about their ages ; Miss Parsons said “How old do you think I am and witness replied “Seventeen;” Miss Parsons replied “Yea;” and started laughing ; witness said “Are you really?” and she replied “Yes ;” Mr. Parsons never mentioned the girl's age to witness; when he asked Mr. Parsons for his daughter, he (Mr. Parsons) said they were both too young to marry ; Parsons never said his daughter was too young, but he seemed anxious to get her off his hands; about a fortnight before they left Raglan he heard Parsons say to his daughter “Martin is a married man; if you don’t mind what I am telling you you can go with him, and don't come back here any more;” a day or two before they left he heard Parsons say to his daughter “You are still washing for that fellow;” she said “Yes ; do you begrudge a little bit of soap or soda;” Parsons said “Look here, my lady, you will have to do what Mrs. Clowes tells you or I’ll bundle you out of the house bag and baggage ; you can go with that fellow, but when you are sitting in a tent with a baby on your knee you will want me then ;” Miss Parsons was washing witness's clothes at the time; he asked Miss Parsons her age about four times ; and on every occasion but the first, she said she was past eighteen ; he believed Miss Parsons was eighteen years of age all along. Cross-examined: Where does your wife live? Witness: Near Mount Perry.— How many children have you? One. — When did you last send any money to your wife and child? About a month before I left Raglan.— How were you going to provide for your wife when you went off with Miss Parsons? I intended to apply for a divorce from my wife. — To get a divorce, and leave your wife and child to do the best they could for themselves? When I left my wife I left her with my father and mother in a good home, and she was to be independent. — Is it not a fact that she had not money enough to come to Rockhampton? She may have wasted her money for all I know.— You say you asked Miss Parsons her age four times? Yes.— What was the object in repeating that question over and over again? I don't know. — You don't usually ask a person her age time after time, do you? It is not an usual thing. — How is it you did it then? I can't give any reason why.
This concluded the case for the defence, and Mr. King called Edwin Parsons in rebuttal.
Mr. King: Did you ever tell your daughter that if she did not obey you she could go with Funk, and never come back again to darken your doors? Witness: Never, sir.— Did you ever tell your daughter that if she did not obey Mrs. Clowes she could go, and when she was sitting in a tent with a baby on her knee she would want you again ? No ; I said that she and Mrs. Clowes must work together, and if they would not, I would make some alteration.
His Honour: Did you at any time ever threaten to give her a hammering? — Witness : Never in my life, sir. His Honour: Did you tell anybody else you would give her a hammering? — Witness : I may have said she deserved a good hammering, but I never said I would give her a hammering. I never rose a band to her yet.
Mr. Swanwick and Mr. King both addressed the jury at length.
His Honour then summed up. He said that originally the age allowed by the Act was sixteen, but latterly the colonies had followed the example of England, and for the better protection of women had raised the age to eighteen years. The object of the Act was not only to protect girls against others, but to protect girls against themselves. If anybody induced a girl under eighteen to leave her father's house to go with him for the purpose of seducing her he was guilty of the offence charged against the defendant. A point had been raised regarding the man’s intention. Nobody could tell any person's intention. But when a person did something, they could judge — if he was in full possession of his facilities — what was his intention. The intention of the defendant was clearly shown when he said the girl was to act as his wife. The jury most consider if the girl, Christina Louisa Parsons, was under the lawful care of her father, and if she was under the age of eighteen; also whether defendant took her away. It did not matter who saddled the horses, nor whether defendant rode fifty yards ahead of her or not. They went off and with one intention as the letter showed. The legislature made it a defence, where a man had reasonable cause to believe that the girl was over eighteen years of age. The defendant was now allowed to give evidence, and of course, it was easy for him to say that he thought the girl was over eighteen. Were they satisfied that this belief was genuine? If not, they could do away with the evidence for the defence altogether. According to the statute, if a man tampered with a young girl, and took her away from her father's house, he did so at his own risk. If she was not eighteen years of age he committed a crime, unless he gave sufficient reason that he believed she was over eighteen. Formerly a prisoner was not allowed to give evidence, their forefathers thinking the love of liberty was so great that a man would commit perjury in order to get that Liberty. There was the strongest temptation for a prisoner not to give the evidence in order to get his liberty. A prisoner was not in exactly the same position as an ordinary witness, and the jury could use their own discretion as to the credibility of the defendant. Her father had spoken of the girl as being too young to marry, saying she was between sixteen and seventeen years of age. Although that statement was not exactly true, it was enough to put the prisoner on his guard. Defendant repeatedly asked the father to let him marry the daughter, but the father put him off on ground of youth until he discovered defendant was a married man, when he immediately ordered him out of the house. Prisoner asked to be allowed to stop a week longer and his request was granted. Miss Parsons said that she told defendant that she was seventeen or eighteen, and on one subsequent occasion that she was eighteen. As was pointed out it was a suspicious circumstance that a person should be repeatedly asking the age of a girl. The prisoner said four times he asked her what her age was, and each time but the first, she said she was eighteen. Although the prisoner said he asked the girl her age four times, the girl stated he only asked her twice. If the jury were satisfied that he believed the girl's age was eighteen, then the prisoner was not guilty. On the other hand if they thought that he knew she was not eighteen be was guilty. The prisoner said himself that they occupied the same bed and the jury could only judge the prisoner by his actions. It had been said that the father threatened to beat his daughter. It would have been better for that young lady if she had had a good sound whipping at the time. If she knew the man was a married man, and she wanted to go away, it was a pity she was not a little younger, so that she could have had a whipping. If, however, the girl was in fear of her life, and prisoner wished to act as her escort, that would be different. From her subsequent behaviour, the jury would find that they were on very intimate terms. When her father saw that his girl wanted to be the mistress of another man, who was married, he would naturally get angered at her doing any little acts of kindness for that man. The evidence brought out no circumstances which would justify anybody in taking away the girl from her father's place. The facts they had to find were: Was the girl in her father's charge? Did the defendant at the time honestly believe, or had he reasonable cause to believe, that the girl was of, or about, the age of eighteen? If the jury were satisfied that prisoner believed the girl was under the age of eighteen, and in spite of this he took her away from the charge of her father, then he was guilty. That was the whole case.
The jury retired at one o'clock, and at half past one His Honour asked the bailiff to see if there was any chance of them agreeing. The Bailiff left, and returned shortly afterwards, stating there was no chance of the jury agreeing. The Court then adjourned until half -past two o'clock.
On resuming. His Honour said : Just ask the jury if they have agreed yet.
The Bailiff left the Court, and on returning said “No, your Honour.”
His Honour: Bring them in. Tell them I want to see them for a second.
The Bailiff again went out, and on returning again said : They want to wait for a minute or two, your Honour.
His Honour : What do they want to wait for?
The Bailiff: I don't know, your Honour.
His Honour: Well, tell them I want them to come in here at once.
The jury came into the Court, when His Honour addressed them, saying it was a case in which they could not answer questions that were stated by him. In a civil case they could answer questions, but in a criminal case they must bring in a verdict of guilty or not guilty. If they found that the girl was in the possession of her father and under the age of eighteen years, and that the defendant did take her out of the possession and against the will of her father, and he did so with the intention of having carnal knowledge of the girl, and also that he had reasonable cause to believe she was under the age of eighteen, then he was guilty. If they were satisfied he believed she was over eighteen, then he was not guilty.
The Foreman (Mr. Birch): The jury wish to know on what date Mr. Parsons received the letter supposed to have been received from the defendant's wife ?
His Honour (reading from his notes) : “I received a letter about the 15th of April. The defendant was at Langmorn then, but on the 24th of April I taxed him with it.” If it is any assistance I can run over the evidence to you.
The Foreman: Yes, Your Honour.
His Honour then read over his notes of the evidence of all the witnesses, and the jury retired again at five minutes to three. At eleven minutes past three it was announced that the jury had agreed, and they were brought into Court.
The Registrar : Gentlemen of the jury, have you agreed upon a verdict.
The Foreman : We have.
The Clerk : Is the prisoner at the bar guilty or not guilty ?
The Foreman : Guilty. (To the Judge) : May I be allowed to express the opinion of the jury regarding the action of Mr. Parsons?
His Honour : I don’t think it comes within your province. Where the rider of a jury is useful is where it might make a public body aware of some omission. But when it comes to a private individual, it strikes me you are going beyond your province. I don't know whether it is of censure or praise. The prisoner was here remanded until ten o'clock to-morrow (this) morning for sentence.
The former Parson's Inn buildings are timber vernacular structures located approximately 5 kilometres south of Raglan on the old coach road, now bypassed by the highway. The proprietor of this wayside inn from 1885 until the early 1900s was Edwin Parson and the property has remained in the possession of members of his family.
Edwin Parson's name first appears in the Post Office Directory of 1874 as being at Long Morn. He selected 517 acres at Black's Crossing, Raglan, in 1873 and an adjoining selection of 667 acres in 1874. On 5 May 1979, a mention is made in the diary of Stephen Creed of Langmorn station of an E Parsons 'in charge of 169 fat bullocks to be delivered to Brisbane by road', which may well refer to Edwin Parsons. The purchase of his selections was finalised in 1881.
Black's Crossing was the local name for a section of Raglan Creek crossed by a stock route.
Parson obtained a license for a hostelry named the Raglan Hotel at Black's Crossing in 1885. Although his name appears in most documents as Parsons, it is spelt on the hotel's signboard on a 19th century photograph without the 's'. He had not held a publican's license before and the license was in his name until 1902.
Courtesy of the Queensland Heritage Register