Court Hearing of the Brisbane 'Bread or Blood' Riot


CRIMINAL SITTINGS - Before His Honour Mr. Justice Lutwyche


William Eaves, Henry Parker, and John Murray were charged with having, on the 11th September, with divers other persons exceeding five hundred, assembled together, being armed with stones and other offensive weapons, assembled riotously and did then disturb the peace of the liege subjects of Her Majesty. A second count charged them with unlawfully assembling.

The Attorney-General prosecuted on behalf of the Crown. The prisoners were undefended.

The Attorney-General, having stated the case, called Neill McKay, who deposed, that he was a commercial traveler; he knew defendants by sight ; he saw them on the 11th September last in the afternoon, about 3 or 4 o'clock, at the Green Hills ; there were

more than fifty people present; he heard Eaves speak; he was addressing the meeting; he was raised above the people; he said they had many (or enough) daylight meetings, and advised them to meet at 8 o'clock that night at the Treasury Hotel, for there were stones there he then said that there was no use relying on the promises of the Government; for they had broken faith already, and would do so again; Eaves said they must have bread; went to another meeting that night, at about half-past 7, to the Treasury Hotel, in George Street, and remained there until 30 minutes past 8 ; at that time there was a large assemblage of people; there were more than four hundred people present; both Parker and Murray addressed the meeting in front of the Treasury Hotel; they were raised above the crowd; shortly after that two guns were fired; the company were cheering the speaker, and afterwards the crowd went down to the Government stores; he saw Mr. Massie there, and heard him read a paper; the police were armed, there were plenty of stones thrown by the mob after the reading of the paper at the police and other people; the stones were coming like hail stones; the police charged the crowd to the top of Elizabeth Street, and down Elizabeth Street; during all this time stones were being thrown in great numbers; the mob moved down to the Dunmore Arms, where Mr. Massie read the Riot Act; witness saw him while so doing hit by a stone in the eye; witness saw further scenes of disturbance, and left at about 10 o'clock ; if his family were in town he would be alarmed for their safety ; when at the Treasury Hotel Parker used the words, " Bread or blood."

The witness was cross-examined by each of the prisoners, but nothing material was elicited.

George Prentice, examined by the Attorney General, deposed: On the 11th October he was at the meeting of the unemployed at the Green Hills ; defendants were there; he was there between 4 and 5 in the afternoon; there were about one or two hundred there; heard Eaves and Murray speak about the claims of the unemployed on the Government; Eaves approved of the meeting being held at night, as the police would have less chance of "spotting" a man, and he proposed that they should meet at the corner of Queen and George streets; some one proposed there should be a committee ; Eaves said, " I will be there, I will lead you," and he afterwards said, " I may not be there, as there is a warrant out against me, but there is a man here who will represent me;" he mentioned the Treasury Hotel as the best place to meet at, because they could then take the street as they I went, that there were plenty of stones there, and that there would be bloodshed over it yet; the meeting shortly afterwards dispersed ; in the evening of the same day he heard an alarm gun and came into town; was a special constable.

Two witnesses, J. Manton and J. Sinel, were also examined, but their evidence did not tend to affect the evidence as regarded the prosecution or the defence.

Joseph Moore Lebort, deposed, that on the evening of the 11th September last he was a special constable stationed near the Government stores ; he was on duty, and the police were there; there was a crowd of people throwing stones, and shouting that they would go to gaol before they would go away; he saw Mr. Seymour step out and arrest a man; Mr. Massie was there, and he and several persons were hit by the stones; the police then formed in line and went up towards Elizabeth Street, and down to the Dunmore Arms; stones were then flying about; witness thought there would have been a row if the rioters were not kept down; would have thought that his property would have been very insecure.

By Eaves : He could not swear that he saw either of the prisoners near the Government Stores.

James Manton deposed having seen a large crowd on the night in question, and that Mr. Massie was struck on the head with a stone.

The witness was cross-examined by the prisoners, but the result of their cross-examination was not of any importance.

David T. Seymour corroborated the testimony of the previous witnesses.

H. H. Massie, Police Magistrate of Brisbane, deposed that about 9 p.m. on the 11th September last, he found an uproarious crowd near the Government stores; people were hammering away at the door; he was struck at the Dunmore Arms in the eye with a stone,

and compelled to leave.

John McAlister deposed to the presence of Eaves at the Treasury Hotel on the day in question.

The Court here adjourned.