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Chapter 16 ~ Murder

Excitement    Mansforth    I have a dream    Opposition    Processing    Approval    The Licence    Notification    Scams    Footnotes   

Note about Footnotes. All footnotes are directly linked to two transcibed newspaper articles which are to be found as Appendix 4 and 5. If a footnote comes from another source, it will be attached to the bottom of this chapter as in all other chapters.


The effects of the carting weren't as drastic as at first thought. The Adams family settled down to the daily routine of raising their son, a flock of sheep and their wheat. It seemed that dire poverty always seemed close at hand. The pattern of farming life kept them busy with little of the feared intrusions making an impact. However the peace of Skillogolee became shattered once again by the problem of great violence.

The story of the brutal deaths of Mansforth and Yates in 1850 forms a tawdry episode for the residents of Skillogollee Creek. It is the most documented incident in the life of Kudnarto and it well details the life lead by the people living in the area during this period. The information and dialogue has been reconstructed from testimony given at the trial of Yates by the witnesses. No person had any reason to exagerate or alter their testimony to suite the occasion. The story is very touching for the speeches made by all the people in this chapter are authentic voices of the past. Each speaks with a strength reflecting their thoughts after the violent events.

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John Mansforth, commonly known as the Sergeant, was an old but strongly built military pensioner. [1] His hair was grey [2] in keeping with his age. On the right arm was the letters T.M. tatooed in Indian Ink, [3] apparently done some years ago. On the day of his death, he was feeling very cold. He wore a set of white flannel drawers covered by a pair of trousers. [4] [5] He wore a warm striped woollen Guernsey shirt next to the skin on his chest. [6] Covering the Guernsey shirt, he wore two further blue shirts, the outer shirt being very dirty. [7] He kept a blue handkerchief between his shirts. [8] Over his shirts he wore a waistcoat. [9] Inside the pockets of the waistcoat he carried a tinderbox and steel, a few shoestrings, a broken pipe, and piece of tobacco. [10] Wrapped around his neck was an old but comfortably well worn woollen scarf. [11] His clothes were similar to those worn by the shepherds during this era.

Although Mansforth had a wife and family, [12] he lived separately from them. This separation revealed the darker side of Mansforth. He was prone to bouts of drunken violence. The reason why Mansforth did not live with his wife was that he was quick to anger and had a very violent temper. The same problem existed with his hut-mates. One hut-mate, James Yates, a butcher by trade and an ex-convict from Van Dieman's Land who was described by the The South Australian Register as "having that low, brutal expression of countenance so common among those who have led a life of crime", was the last person to put up with his temper. Although Yates said that even though he agreed with the Sergeant and everyone seemed to think that they got on well, he was an exception. Very few people ever got on with Mansforth.

Many people believed that Mansforth could sometimes become extremely impassioned with rage, especially when under the influence of alcohol. Various people in the area commented that the Sergeant was a bad hut-mate. Most people remembered a former hut mate of his, a hut-keeper named Howe. Rumour was very strong that Mansforth had laid his face open with the handle of a frying pan. When Howe left his employment, he complained to his employer, William Slater JP of being struck by Mansforth. During this discussion, Howe did not describe weapon Mansforth had used against him. However the impression is that Howe was definitely leaving because of Mansforth's drunken brutality.

On Tuesday, 23rd July 1850, the day before Mansforth's tragic murder, his employer, Slater last saw Mansforth at the head station. Slater was settling the quarter's wages with his shepherds. Over the last nine months, Mansforth had worked in the employ of Slater who considered Mansforth the best shepherd he had ever employed.

For the past quarter, the balance of Mansforth's wages amounted to 6. To cover this sum, Slater wrote a cheque for the required amount to be drawn against his account at the Bank of South Australia. After paying his wages, Slater told Mansforth that he wanted to see Yates. He was dismissing Yates early although his contract of emplyment was not due to expire till Saturday, 27 July 1850. Yates had been employed for only a month by Slater but he no longer wanted his services as a hut-keeper. This arose as a consequence of the various complaints Mansforth made about Yates. Slater asked Mansforth to tell Yates to collect his final wages on Thursday, the 25th July 1850. Also Mansforth was to inform Yates that another man had been hired in his place.

For the first time in a month during his stay at Skillogollee Creek and Slaters sheep station, Yates decided to visit the settlement. He had some business to conduct. At about ten o'clock in the morning of Wednesday 24th July 1850, Yates came to William Titcume's house which was some fifty yards away from Hoiles' Port Henry Arms. Titcume lived there with his wife and also carried out his trade as a butcher. During the conversation with Titcume that morning, Yates produced a large hessian bag. Within the bag was some sheep fat which Yates proceeded to offer to Titcume for sale. Titcume agreed to purchase the fat at teh rate of two pence half penny per pound. While weighing the fat, Yates asked Titcume if he had seen the old Sergeant. Titcume said that he had not seen the Sergeant that particular day. Yates remarked that the Sergeant had promised to be at Skillogolee Creek before Yates would arrive. Titcume bought in total some eighteen pounds of sheep fat from Yates. He paid Yates three shillings and nine pence making up the coinage with two single shillings, three sixpenny pieces, and three pennies worth of coppers.

Following this transaction and some more small talk with Ticume, Yates walked over to the Port Henry Arms at about twelve o'clock noon. This was the first time Yates had ever entered into the public-house. Yates spoke to the barman, John Hawkesworth and asked for a glass of rum. While Hawkesworth was getting Yates the rum, Yates told him that he was waiting for the Sergeant who had promised to meet him that day. Yates told Hawkesworth that Mansforth had brought the message for him to go into the head-station.

"Have you seen the old Sergeant?" Yates asked Hawkesworth while drinking the rum.

"No," replied Hawkesworth.

"I am afraid he is making a fool of me, " commented Yates in an irritated voice. Then, adding in a menacing tone, "If he is, I'll open his eyes for him."

Yates slowly drank his rum while talking to Hawkesworth. After consuming the first glass, Yates ordered another glass of rum and paid Hawkesworth a shilling for the two drinks. He remained at the bar of the Port Henry Arms for about one hour.

Afterwards, Yates left the Port Henry Arms and walked over to where he saw Titcume working in his garden. Titcume was busily constructing a pig-sty. Yates started talking idly about his stay at Van Dieman's Land. When he had exhausted this subject he discussed reaping. Yates also mentioned that he was going into the head-station of Mr Slater to finish up because he was sacked. Slater had made an offer for Yates to make brush yards. He said that he was going to leave the old Sergeant's hut but repeated his belief that although some people could not agree with the old Sergeant, he could get on very well with the Sergeant.

Titcume lay down his tools and took a break from erecting the sty. It was at about three o'clock in the afternoon that Titcume's wife called him for dinner. Since Yates was around, they extended the hospitality of their table and invited Yates to join them for dinner. He accepted the invitation and followed the Titcumes inside their house to the dinner table.

About an hour after their meal, at four o'clock Mrs Titcume looked through the kitchen window. Outside she saw the Sergeant make his way to the Port Henry Arms. Knowing that Yates wanted to see him, she mentioned the fact to Yates. After thanking the Titcumes for their hospitality, Yates left their house and made his way over to the Port Henry Arms.

Hawkesworth saw Mansforth came into the Port Henry Arms at four o'clock in the afternoon. He also saw Yates join Mansforth at his table soon after.

"What will you have to drink?" Mansforth asked Yates.

"I am drinking rum," Yates replied.

Mansforth gave Hawkesworth a shilling to pay for a glass of rum for Yates, and a pint of ale for himself.

"I thought you were going to disappoint me," said Yates to Mansforth. " I didn't think you were going to meet me today."

"I've been asleep on the run," replied Mansforth by way of explanation, "I could not get here any sooner."

Hawkesworth served Mansforth his dinner. Mansforth took his dinner and paid for another glass of ale and rum. Mansforth paid for this with a half crown piece. He sat down and proceeded to eat his dinner. His eating utensils were the common knife and fork used by the hotel for all its customers. In the spirit of good humour, Yates poured his glass of rum into the Sergeant's ale and offered it to Mansforth. This was angrily pushed away by Mansforth. He explained that he didn't like to mix his drinks. Mansforth then ordered another pint of ale. No one drank the mixture of ale and rum and eventually Hawkesworth took it from the table and threw it away. While eating and drinking, Mansforth and Yates began conversing about Yates' visit to the head station on the next day.

"You had better go back to my hut," said Mansforth.

"What's the use of going there," retorted Yates in anger. "You have sent me away, and I must go."

Some time after Mansforth, having finished his dinner, went to the fire to light his pipe. He looked at Hawkesworth when he entered.

"Fill me a bottle of whisky," requested Mansforth.

Hawkesworth filled an ale bottle full of whiskey while Mansforth paid for it with a 4 order. Hawkesworth got three pounds five shillings worth of change to give Mansforth.

During this time, Yates was sitting by the fire smoking his pipe. When Yates saw Hawkesworth go up to Mansforth's table to give the change, he left the fire and came to the table as well. Yates watched intently as Hakesworth paid Mansforth his money. After Hawkesworth finished counting out the change, Mansforth left Hawkesworth and Yates and went to the fire for a light for his pipe. While Mansforth stood at the fire, Yates walked up and grabbed him by the sleeve of his blue shirt.

"What do you want of me?" asked Mansforth in an angry voice.

"I want nothing of you," answered Yates.

Mansforth threw his arms open.

"Well let me go!" Mansforth snarled.

Yates let him go. He went over to a young woman known as Miss Claire. During their conversation, Yates made use of some insulting language to Miss Clare. He was partially intoxicated when he spoke indecently to Miss Clare, but his manner to her was not that of a drunken man. Yates' language and suggestion was too strong for her to bear so she left the room. Very shortly, Yates followed Miss Clare into the parlour where she had gone to escape his approaches.

When Yates had left the bar, Mansforth called out to Hawkesworth.

"I am going now," said Mansforth. "Can I have my bottle of whiskey."

Hawkesworth gave Mansforth the bottle of whiskey. When Mansforth received his bottle he departed from the Port Henry Arms.

At the same time, Yates behaved so improperly that he was ordered out of the parlour by Mrs Hoiles.

"I have as much right as any one else to go into the parlour so long as I pay my way," Yates argued with Mrs Hoiles as he walked out of the parlour. On seeing that Mansforth had gone, Yates looked at Hawkesworth. "Which way has the Old Sergeant gone?"

Hawkesworth looked out the window with Yates and pointed Mansforth out on the horizon. Since there were no other houses between the Port Henry Arms and Mansforth's hut, and there was no path leading there, Hawkesworth scanned the open pastures to find Mansforth. He spotted Mansforth going down a hill. Mansforth had crossed one creek on the way to his hut and was near the second.

"If you look," said Hawkesworth to Yates, "you can see him going over the hill."

"I'll go after him," said Yates hurriedly.

Yates then left the house. At that time Yates was not drunk, but merry.

About twenty minutes after Mansforth returned very much flurried, and said that he had been insulted by Yates.

"That blackguard!" he exclaimed in an excited tone. "He has insulted me, taken away my bottle of whiskey, and struck me on the shoulder.

Hawkesworth then advised him to leave his money under his charge, and Mansforth accordingly gave Hawkesworth three 1 notes, and a five shilling Burra order, from a pocket-book. Mansforth then left saying that he would put up his sheep, and Hawkesworth watched Mansforth go in the direction of his hut for about two hundred yards.

Sometime between five o'clock and seven o'clock in the evening a scuffle broke out between Mansforth and Yates. While no one can know what happened, the unfortunate result was the murder of Mansforth. The ground had the appearance of having been the scene of a struggle. His body was dragged to the cover of some grass trees, which partially hid it, so that it could only be seen close by. From the appearance of the ground, the body of Mansforth had been drawn three yards from where he was killed. A pocket lay close by.

Laying near the body was an open knife which was not very sharp. The knife resembled one seen in the possession of Mansforth. Nearby the body lay a stone and some fragments of a stick which were covered with blood and had grey hairs similar to those of Mansforth adhering to them. The stone was an iron-stone which was common to the area while the sticks were from a sheoak which also grew near the scene.

Contused wounds existed on the back part of both hands and arms. The groin also was much bruised as if kicked. No bruise could be produced by a blow after death. A stick such as the one that lay at the scene would have inflicted the injuries on the arms. Mansforth's trousers had been unbuttoned and appeared to have been removed and then later but forced over his body.

There was a stab on the left side of the abdomen, about half an inch in width and three inches deep. The wound in the abdomen corresponded exactly with the knife found near the body. There were cuts in Mansforth guernsey, drawers, and trousers which corresponded to the wound in the abdomen. The stab wound in the abdomen would, most probably, have proved mortal, but not immediately. If Mansforth had survived the attack, the stab wound would have probably induced an infection resulting in disease known as peritonitis. This would most likely have resulted in Mansforth's death within four days of the wound. Evidence indicates that the stabbing wound in the stomach was the first inflicted.

Mansforth's head and face had been smashed in by a stone or some other blunt instrument. No vestige remained of the eyes, the nose, the left cheek, or the forehead. Several portions of the skull were missing, and there were contused wounds on the right cheek. The upper and lower jaws were both broken, and the teeth gone. Stabs appear on the upper and lower lips, and the latter being completely severed.

The throat of Mansforth was cut form ear to ear and very jagged as if done by repeated cuts with a very blunt knife. The sheer brutality of the attack on Mansforth's neck resulting in dividing the arteries and vertebrae between his torso and head. It was impossible to say whether his throat was cut from the left to the right, or vice versa. It was difficult to know when his throat was cut for the separation of the carotid artery immediately after death would cause an effusion of blood nearly as great as if it was cut during life. That great arterial vessel running through the neck, when cut, rapidly emptied the body of all its blood. It appeared that Mansforth's throat had not been cut till he was beaten senseless by his assailant. Judging from the quantity of blood described, the frightful neck injuries could not have been done until Mansforth's throat was cut. Whether the fracture of the skull or cutting the throat would have caused instant death is unknown but Mansforth could not have lived many seconds after either attack upon him.

Titcume next saw Yates about seven o'clock that evening. On his arrival, he was invited in by Titcume to join them by the fire. Yates entered the room where Titcume, his wife and John Tobin were having tea. Once in the room, Yates went up to the fire where Tobin was sitting and proceeded to get a light for his pipe.

"Why, I thought you were gone to the head-station," Titcume said with some bemusement.

"No." Yates replied very abruptly.

Yates appeared to be behaving is a very strange manner while his face had a far away look. Upon lighting his pipe, Yates took more notive of his surrounds. He looked carefully at Tobin for a few moments and then gave a snort of recognition.

"I think I know you," Yates stated with an air of certainty.

"Why, master you are all bleeding!" Titcume's wife suddenly exclaimed startling everyone in the room. They all stopped what they were doing and began to stare at Yates.

"No I am not!" was Yates replied quickly and defensively.

"Yes you are!" Mrs Titcume reasserted in an unyielding manner. Mrs Titcume's horror had been aroused when she saw that Yates had blood all over his face and hands. Added to this there were some spots of blood on his trousers. She was worried about her cooking and did not want anything to be spoiled as a result of bleeding.

"Stand back from the fire," Mrs Titcume cried out in exasperation, "because I've got bread placed before the fire to rise and I don't want any blood on it."

Yates said nothing. Without any resistance he stood back from the fire as Mrs Titcume requested. He stood there silently smoking his pipe.

"Why," said Mrs Titcume a little less stridently now her bread was not to be spoiled, "you've been fighting with the Old Sergeant."

"I have not," replied Yates. On reflecting over this answer, he decided upon an explanatory afterthought. "The Old Sergeant returned to the Port Henry Arms."

"I am sure that you have been fighting," Mrs Titcume continued pressing her allegations against Yates.

Turning to Mr Titcume, Yates gave an enigmatic look.

"Perhaps I have, perhaps I have not," was his whistful but muttered response.

Mrs Titcume left the room and came back a few moments later with a scrap of rag which she intended to use as a bandage. With little hesitation and the confident actions of a practical person who is fully in charge of herself, Mrs Titcume tied the piece of rag around his left thumb. Since it was severely lacerated the thumb would not stop bleeding. The rag soon changed to the colour of blood. Since the wound needed cleaning and a fresh bandage, Yates asked for some water in a bowl. Titcume left the room and obtained a bowl with water in which Yates could wash his hands. When Titcume gave Yates the bowl, he proceeded to wash his hands in it. He cleaned his thumb and removed most of the blood from his face. At the completion of his ablutions, Titcume began to bind Yates' thumb with a fresh piece of rag.

Yates' left thumb was cut on the back, between the first and second joint. It was unknown as to the cause of the wound on the Yates's thumb; he never revealed the true reason to anyone. Judging from the weapons available that night, it could have been either the knife belonging to Mansforth, the whisky bottle, or the sharp stone found near by the body. If Mansforth's throat was cut from behind, with the murderer holding the chin in the left hand, and the knife in the right, the killer would be very likely to cut his own thumb in the way that Yates's was cut.

"You'll lose the use of your thumb," said Titcume while tying the rag. "It looks like its been cut with a knife."

At this point, Titcume showed Yates his own thumb where it had been cut by a butcher's knife. When he moved the thumb around from the hand joint, the rest of it remained completely rigid. The display did not please Yates. He felt a certain fear enter into himself and take some control over his emotions.

"The Old Sergeant did take a knife to me," explained Yates in an effort to account to everyone and himself for the cut. Yates paused for a few moments reflection and then added; "The cut might have been done in the row."

"You must have had a deuce of a row with the old man for him to use a knife!" Titcume exclaimed with consternation. Although Titcume knew that Mansforth could occasionally be violent, he had only heard rumours about Mansforth using weapons in a fight.

"Perhaps I have and perhaps I haven't," remarked Yates to no one in particular. However, the repeated questions began to take their toll. Yates could feel a certain frustration well inside of himself with the way things were going. Any person could realise that once the body of Mansforth was found, everyone would suspect him. The continued references to blood confirmed this conclusion. Yates began to feel agitated. In an effort to regain control over events, he stated loudly for all to hear; "Those who could see nothing could say nothing, and those who did see I will take bloody good care shall say nothing."

Yates thought for a minute.

"The old bugger, let him lay," Yates muttered to himself.

"If you were having a row with the Old Sergeant," explained Titcume feeling concerned for Yates, "you had better go and see Mr Slater."

"Yes I will," agreed Yates. "I'll go to Jemmy Bentley's house tonight and go to the head station in the morning."

At that, Yates took his bundle departed the Titcume's house. About half an hour later, at 8 o'clock in the evening, Yates arrived at the Adams hut. Sitting in the hut was Thomas Adams, Kudnarto and two visitors. Yates knocked and called through the door.

"Could I have a light for my pipe?" he asked.

"Walk in and get one," replied Adams.

Yates put his bundle down by the door, and walked up to the fire. He stood with his back towards the fire and faced the men in the room.

"Don't you know me?" said Yates.

Adams looked at him carefully.

"Yes," replied Adams on recognition. "You were hut-keeper for the Sergeant."

"Yes, I am," agreed Yates, "I am going into Mr Slater's head-station to do some work."

Adams looked at Yates face. He then noticed some blood on his cheek.

"I suppose you've been quarrelling up at Mr Hoile's, as you've got a cut on the face."

"No I haven't!" exclaimed Yates as he growned inwardly with distress and anxiety. After all, he had just washed himself down at the Titcume's place. He didn't expect to show any further traces of blood. Now here was Adams making the same insistant claims as those made by Mrs Titcume. To settle the matter, he needed to view his reflection. He looked at Adams and asked; "Bring me a looking glass."

Yates walked towards the light cast by the lamp suspended from the cieling while Adams brought him a looking glass. Yates took the mirror and looked at his face searching out for signs of blood. As Yates was gazing searchingly in the mirror, Adams realised that it was only one or two spots of blood rather that a cut.

"The old fellow and I," clarified Yates who was now feeling rather poorly, "had been having some words together. The Sergeant had carried a big stick with him. We always agreed very well together, too, though he has had many living with him who would not stay."

"The Sergeant must have carried a big stick or knife with him," said Adams looking at Yates. "Your thumb is cut."

"Titcume had told me that I wouldn't have use of it," explained Yates. He noticed that the bindings he had placed upon his thumb at the Titcume's were now soaked in blood. Yates needed a new rag to bandage his wound. "I would like some rag to bind it up."

Adams' wife, Kudnarto, got some scraps of white rag for Yates. During this time she had noticed that there was a great deal of blood over Yates' trousers but had said nothing in deference to her husband. Adams inspected the wound. Afterwards he bound up Yates' thumb to stop the bleeding.

"I do not think," reflected Adams in a helpful voice, "that you will lose the use of your thumb from that cut."

"It is getting late," said Yates yawning. "Would you let me stay till morning? I should be much obliged."

"Yes," Adams replied, "you are welcome to do so as you are going to Mr Slater's."

Yates then put his bundle on the sofa. Carefully and furtively he opened up his bundle. No one was able to see its contents. However, what he saw gave him great cause for concern.

"Damn the bundle!"

Yates swore to himself a few times while rummaging around the bundle. He rummaged around in his bundle for a few minutes. Then he tied the bundle up and joined everyone else.

"My head aches," complained Yates. "Can I lay down?"

"Yes," replied Adams.

Yates lay down upon the sofa in an attempt to get some sleep. His mind was churning over the events of the previous hours and he knew he was facing real trouble. As Yates lay reflecting, he felt very restless and uneasy.

"He looked plenty cross," said Kudnarto as she pondered on Yate's behaviour during the night while giving direct testimony at Yates' Police Court arraignment on 4 August 1850. "Me sure him kill the Sergeant. He ask to lie down, but him have but picaninny sleep, and swear in the night."

During the night, Yates got up. Kudnarto heard him move around and go out of the house. Later on Yates came back inside the house again and lay down. Sometime later Yates repeated this process by going out and returning some time after. The noise was enough to keep Kudnarto awake. Although she was in bed in another room, Yates' restless behaviour was noisy enough to be heard. Her husband, however, had slept soundly and didn't hear a thing.

Next morning at about half past five o'clock, Yates arose along with all the other members of the Adams' household. Yates felt very sick. Possibly the lack of sleep and tension of previous events caused the mailise.

"I'm going to the Port Henry Arms and get a glass of grog," Yates told Adams when he was ready. "My head aches."

Adams looked at Yates' appearance. Being also a reformed alcoholic, Adams knew only too well the effects of Yates' intentions.

"Instead of that," advised Adams, "stay and have a cup of tea."

"No," declined Yates as his mind was already made up.

Quickly he took his bundle and departed from the Adams' hut. He went in the direction of the Port Henry Arms which was in a contrary direction to Mr Slater's.

It was six o'clock in the morning when Yates arrived at the Port Henry Arms. Everyone at the public-house was still in bed. Yates went to the front door and rapped it loudly and insistentyly. This knocking eventually woke up Hawkesworth whose bed was in the public bar. An early morning visitation by Mansforth was his usual behaviour. Consequently, Hawkesworth believed that the visitor was Mansforth as got out of bed and he wandered to the door. The knocking occurred again.

"Hold on Sergeant," Hawkesworth cried out impatiently, "I'll be with you in a moment."

Hawkesworth then opened the door of the Port Henry Arms and was surprised to see Yates. Yates looked at him.

"I want a glass of something to drink," said Yates in a plaintiff tone. "Some ale."

"I can't give you anything," explained Hawkesworth. "You will have to wait until I can get the keys from my mistress."

Hawkesworth invited Yates to enter the public house. Yates walked in and to warm himself up, he sat on a chair next to the fire. Hawkesworth had stirred up the embers and put more wood on the fire. Afterwards Hawkesworth went off to get the keys from Mrs Hoiles. Both Mr and Mrs Hoiles were now up and around the house. Mrs Hoiles was busy cooking food for the guests while Mr Hoiles was undertaking cleaning and maintenance duties. When Hawkesworth came back to the bar, he unlocked the alcohol stocks and poured Yates a glass of ale.

While drinking his ale, Hawkesworth sat on his bed and began to talk about Yates' behaviour of the previous evening. The first subject he raised was the allegations that Mansforth had made against Yates on the previous night. It was not a subject Yates wished to spend much time upon for he vaguely said that he might or might not have struck Mansforth. However, to set Hawkesworth at ease about the whole affair, Yates stated that he would go and see Mansforth later on. Yates declared that he hadn't seen Mansforth that night for he had slept over at the Adams' house.

When this topic ended, Hawkesworth proceeded to express his concern over Yates' insulting conduct towards Miss Clare. Yates expressed his sorrow at his undignified and rude suggestions he made to her. He expressed a determination to apologise to Miss Clare as soon as he possibly could.

While Yates was expressing his contrition about his behaviour towards Miss Clare on the previous evening, Miss Clare entered the room and sat by the fire on a form. After expressing his apology towards Miss Clare, he turned around with his back to Miss Clare to speak to Hawkesworth. Miss Clare could see Yates' back.

"You are quite over blood," Miss Clare remarked with concern to Yates when she saw that he was covered with blood.

"The blood is from my thumb," clarified Yates in a sharp voice. "I fell down twice and cut my thumb the day before,"

This drew Hawkesworth's attention who turned around to view the state of Yates' dress. He then saw that Yates had spots of blood all over his clothes. Also tied upon his thumb was a bloodied white rag.

"I don't believe it," scoffed Hawkesworth with an air of total disbelief. "I expect it was from the bottle."

"I wish that Mr Titcume would come over," commented Yates whistfully. "I left a bag with him yesterday and now I want to get it."

"Mr Titcume is up now." Hoiles commented as he walked into the room. "Would you like some breakfast?"

"No," he replied, "I'm in a hurry."

Yates paid for his two ales with a six penny coin and left for Titcume's house.

At about 7 am, Yates arrived at Ticume's house. Yates asked Titcume for the bag he had brought the fat in the previous day. Yates wanted the bag now even though he had said on the previous day that the bag would be collected by the Manforth. Titcume gave him the bag.

"I'll go and see how the old Sergeant and his sheep are getting on," said Yates by way of explanation.

While he was at the Titcumes' house that morning, Kudnarto passed by with her herd of sheep. She decided to call in to see the her good friend, Mrs Titcume. As they stood talking, Kudnarto she saw Yates talking to Titcume. Since Kudnarto and Mrs Titcume were engaged in conversation, Kudnarto paid very little attention to Yates.

After receiving his bag Titcume, Yates walked over to Slater's head station. When he arrived, Slater was busy with other duties and unable to attent to Yates. He had a message sent to Yates asking him to wait a short time. An hour later, Slater finished his task and was able to receive Yates. Examining his wages records, Slater claculated that on the Saturday he would owe Yates some thirty-two shillings less half a crown for stores received by Yates. The balance of wages on account to Yates was then 1 9s. 6d. During the finalisation of Yates' wages, a man known as Rush, who was standing near by, informed Slater that he owed Yates eight shillings. He asked Slater to pay Yates and later on deduct it from his wages account. Slater did as he was requested and wrote out a cheque for 1 17s. 6d..

Although Slater didn't want Yates as a hut-keeper any more, he thought he could use him for other activities. As an alternative, he offered Yates some bushwork, which involved constructing yards and pens. Yates declined the offer because he said he did not have the skills to undertake such work. Then Yates expressed the desire that he wanted to get a place as a bullock driver.

"The old Sergeant was not at the hut last night," said Yates to Slater by way of conversation.

"Where are the sheep?" Slater asked.

"Don't worry," replied Yates in an effort to reassure Slater, "they are all right. Some black gins drove them home last night."

The women that Yates was referring to was Kudnarto and the wife of George Murray who lived three kilometres from the Adams house.

"I suppose," Slater mused to Yates, "that the old man had been drinking as he had money."

"I don't know," Yates replied.

Yates departed from Slater's head-station and went to get a ride to Adelaide.

Meanwhile Slater had not been able to determine whether any Aboriginal people had been in the neighbourhood of Mansforth's hut. When he arrived at the hut, Slater found the sheep had been properly folded. An examination of the inside of the hut revealed that no one had slept there during night despite Yates' assurance that he had done so. This puzzled Slater.

Later that afternoon, at about three o'clock, Kudnarto was driving her flock of sheep towards her hut. While walking along with her flock, Kudnarto saw Mansforth's kangaroo dog bitch and two pups in a gully, by a tree. She walked up to them and found Mansforth lying on his back under some grass trees. At first Kudnarto thought that he was drunk. However, on seeing some fragments of stick covered with blood laying upon the ground she went to Mansforth and saw that he was dead. Kudnarto was very much frightened and screamed. Hurredly she made her way over to the Titcume's house in a state of high anxiety and excitement.

In a funk, Kudnarto gave her information to her friend, Mrs Titcume. The news presented a great deal of horror to Mrs Titcume who promptly called her husband. Titcume arrived and Kudnarto told him that she had found a dead body in the bush. Both Mrs Titcume and Kudnarto went to the Port Henry Arms where they informed both Hawkesworth and Hoiles.

At about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, Titcume left his butcher's shop and walked in the direction that Kudnarto had given for the body's location. After Hawkesworth found out, he took Hoiles' horse and galloped to the site. Hoiles came into the room where James Henderson and was sitting with Thomas Warriner, and told them that a man had been murdered close by. Both Henderson and Warrimer left together and went in the direction indicated by Hoiles. The first to arrive was Hawkesworth followed by Titcume, then Henderson and Warriner.

When they arrived they espied the dead body of Mansforth. He was lying on his back, his face and forehead beaten in, the brains gone, the throat cut from ear to ear, a stab through the lip, a cut across the left hand, the right hand bloody but not wounded. The body way lying in a pool of blood.

The kangaroo bitch growled at the people when they approached. They thought that she had remained there from fidelity to Mansforth. The men moved the remains from the site. They put Mansforth's body onto Hoile's cart and removed it to Port Henry Arms' stables, which was about half a mile off. The men returned back to the scene with the cart in an effort to remove other items of evidence. On the return of the cart, they found that the lower jaw of Mansforth had disappeared during the interval of their absence even though they had not gone for more than a quarter of an hour. The men therefore came to the conclusion that Mansforth's bitch and pups had been feeding upon the mangled remains of her master. Mansforth's remains were mutilated. They concluded that the mutilations appeared to have been done by the dogs, which had also probably eaten the brains.

On Thursday evening Messrs Henderson, Warriner, Titcume and Hawkesworth came over to Slater's head-station and informed him about the death of Mansforth. In their company, he went to the Port Henry Arms, to where the dead body was lying. When he saw it, Slater immediately identified it as the corpse of Mansforth. Slater sent one of his employees to Clare to advise Edward Burton Gleeson JP who was also the Coroner, of Mansforths' death. A further message was sent to the Mounted Police stationed in Clare to assist with the investigation.

On Thursday, 25th July 1850, Yates obtained a ride with Philip Berregan to Gawler Town. He stayed the night and continued on foot the next day. Later that day on Friday the 26th July 1850 Yates obtained a ride from John Hughes, a coachman in the employ of Jemmy Chambers, a general cartage contractor. Hughes' job was to drive the mail between Adelaide and the Gawler Plains. The cart he was driving was the usual bi-weekly cart which had left Clare on Thursday morning at six o'clock. When Hughes saw Yates, he was walking along the road between Para and John Smith's Hotel. Hughes drove to Hawkins public-house, near the Dry Creek where Yates disembarked. While Yates left his bundle in Hughes' cart, he took another cart to Adelaide. The bundle ended up at Chambers' office in Hindley Street.

At Hoiles' Port Henry Arms on Friday, 26th July 1850, an Coronial inquest was held into the nature of Mansforth's death. The Coroner, Gleeson arrived from Clare. He was accompanied by Charles Houlton Webb, the medical practitioner who was used in such matters and a police trooper. Webb examined the body and gave his conclusion to the Coronial Inquest that Mansforth had all the signs of being murdered. The inquest heard further evidence from Titcume, Hawkesworth, Adams and Kudnarto about what they saw and their conclusions. From the evidence presented, the Coronial Inquest issued a verdict of wilful murder against Yates. The verdict was then transmitted to Adelaide by the trooper with a request to arrest Yates on sight.

On Saturday, 27 July 1850, Slater was riding through the bush to the murder site when he found the pocket-book belonging to Mansforth. This was the pocket-book in which Mansforth entered his memoranda about the sheep. It was lying on the ground and the individual pages were strewn all about. The pocket-book had all the appearances of having been hastily torn open and discarded. A Burra order for five shillings was later found by Slater. It was blown against a grass tree. Slater also found pieces of an ale bottle with the cork badly damaged. He gathered the various pieces with the intent of using the items as evidence should they apprehend Yates and send him for trial.

On that same day, at seven o'clock in the evening, in the Adelaide Police Station, Inspector Alford received the notification from the Clare Coroner from the Mounted Police to find and arrest Yates for wilful murder. In the company of Sergeant Soper, Alford went to the various hotels in Adelaide in an effort to track down Yates. At eight o'clock, they went to, William's City Bridge Hotel which proved to have Yates as a guest.

"James Yates?" asked Alford when he first met Yates.

"Yes, that's me," replied Yates confirming the identification.

"We would like you to accompany us to the Police Station," Alford explained to Yates without revealing the real purpose of their visit.

"I have a bundle at Mr Chambers in Hindley Street," replied Yates. "I think I should get it."

The three men left William's City Bridge Hotel and proceeded to Chambers' office and collected the bundle. Then they went to the Police Station.

"Have you ever been to Port Henry?" asked Alford.

Yates was confused by the question. He did not know whether Alford was referring to the town of Port Henry or the Port Henry Arms.

"No, I have never been there," Yates stated clearly opting for misunderstanding rather than accuracy.

"James Yates," said Alford in a stern voice, "I am charging you with wilful murder of an unknown man at Port Henry."

"Murder?" exclaimed Yates in a stunned voice.

At this moment Alford began looking at the contents of Yates' bundle. In it was a pair of trousers, a pair of blankets, and other articles stained or spotted with blood. Yates noticed Alford examining a blood stained blanket. He felt a rising fear and a need to justify the blood stains.

"I am a butcher by trade," said Yates.

Alford directed constable Carl Gors to search Yates at the station-house. Gors described the matters taken from Yates's pockets. He found two half-crowns and a a fourpennypiece in silver, six half-pence, a small knife, a tinder box, a pipe, two handkerchiefs, and a piece of steel. There was a bundle containing a pair of blankets, a pair of trousers, a pair of braces, a shirt, a razor, a cotton bag, a tin box, a comb, some tobacco, a shaving brush, a piece of blue stuff, and a parchment, signed by Sir William Denison, and dated 5th October 1849, giving conditional pardon, to James Yates, who was sentenced at Lancaster in the year 1837 to fourteen years transportation, and arrived per ship Neptune. The shirt and trousers were spotted with blood. He also observed some spots of blood on his braces.

Later that evening, he was taken to the Police Court and charged with wilful murder of a man, name unknown, at Port Henry, on or about 24th July 1850. He was remanded to appear in court the next Saturday 3rd August 1850.

After listening to the evidence presented at the Police Court on Saturday 3rd August 1850, the Magistrate cautioned Yates that he was charged with the wilful murder of John Mansforth at Skillogolee Creek on 24th July 1850 and that anything he said from now on would be taken down and might be used as evidence against him. Yates declined to say anything. He was then remanded to appear at the Supreme Court for his trial later that month.


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Section 346
Skillogolee Creek
The house that Thomas Adams built
Skillogolee Creek
The first letter of Thomas Adams from
Skillogolee Creek