Press reaction to the case of Sudds and Thompson

William Charles WentworthWilliam Charles Wentworth, 1872
by James Anderson 
Oil painting ML 411

In the 1820s the colony of New South Wales was evolving from a penal settlement to a free society. A free press began to be established by men seeking democratic rule and law reform. The Australian newspaper, owned by William Charles Wentworth and Dr. Robert Wardell, and The Monitor, edited by Edward Smith Hall, were already critical of the punishment inflicted on Joseph Sudds and Patrick Thompson, but upon Sudds’ death, the press exploded with demands for an inquiry. Wentworth set about his own investigation and interviewed Patrick Thompson. Thompson’s account stated that on the day of Sudds’ death the chains were removed from Sudds and placed on Thompson. He wore them from the 27th November till the 8th December when, by order of Governor Darling, they were removed.

Wentworth accused Governor Darling of murder and called for his impeachment in 1829. Meanwhile Wardell was prosecuted for seditious libel over his comments about the Governor. Sir Francis Forbes stated that the popular movement in the press concerning the case was a 'war cry to bring the people together' to correct the abuses of power in New South Wales.

 

Return of letters in reply to the Governor's despatches

Extract from New South Wales: Joseph Sudds: return of all the letters ... in reply to Governor Darling's despatches. [London : ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, 1832]
Bound volume DSM/ Q991/ G