Some time ago I came across Patrick Linnane in one of my genealogical searches and found his circumstances worth the while investigating.
Patrick Linnane was a former convict from Galway, Ireland. He was tried in 1849 for stealing sheep and transported on the Lord Auckland in September 1852, arriving in Tasmania in January 1853. He received his Conditional Pardon in 1855.
Patrick eventually made his way to the Table Cape district where he established himself as a farmer in Flowerdale. He had a brood of children before he finally married his de facto wife, Jemmima Sophia Davis on 2 October 1879. The minister presiding over the marriage ceremony was none other than Reverend Isaac Hardcastle Palfreyman.
The two were destined to meet again on a collision course that would inevitably lead to a tragic outcome.
Shortly after the wedding, Patrick took it upon himself to revisit Ireland even though 28 years had lapsed since he last saw his homeland. During his absence, Reverend Palfreyman claimed from his wife, Jemmima, two steers, producing an authority for the demand a document purporting to have been signed by Patrick.
On his return to Tasmania, Patrick denied having sold the cattle to Reverend Palfreyman, drove them out of the Reverend's paddock home, and then sued the Reverend for obtaining the cattle by false pretences.
The case was tried in April 1881 when Reverend Palfreyman, pictured above, presented his proof of having purchased the cattle, as well as witnesses who were present when the document was signed.
Patrick asserted that he had never signed such a document.
The Bench gave a verdict for the defendant, and Patrick was subsequently arrested on a charge of perjury.
By this time, Patrick and his wife and their six children were in a state bordering on destitution. Patrick had sold his farm at Flowerdale but the price of it had been frittered away on a trip to Ireland as well as legal expenses, with very little to support his family who lived in a hut on a new selection of land at Sister's Creek, without an acre of clear land around them.
Dismayed at the outcome of the trial, Reverend Palfreyman's two witnesses declared that they would now speak the truth regardless of the consequences. They claimed they had been induced to give false evidence and that Reverend Palfreyman had paid them for it.
Another evidence that came to light was the testimony of a local bank manager, who upon seeing the signature on the document, which differed materially from the specimen, said he would not cash a cheque bearing the signature.
Irrespective of the mounting evidence pointing to Reverend Palfreyman as a shady character, Patrick was found guilty of perjury on 25 August 1881. He was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment with hard labour. Shortly thereafter, while being conveyed from the Launceston courthouse to gaol, Patrick committed suicide through a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
First and foremost, court officials were astounded that Patrick had been carrying a concealed revolver while the trial was underway and as the verdict was being read out. It was such a shocking turn of event that it made the news Australia wide.
Prior to this rash act being committed, Patrick bemoaned to a fellow prisoner who was also being transported to gaol, "I do not believe there is a God in Heaven, or I would have got justice today."
And as for the Reverend, who was highly regarded by many, he left the district shortly thereafter. He had moved to the Table Cape district seven years earlier to take charge of the Primitive Methodist circuit.
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