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2 corrections, most recently by peter-macinnis - Show corrections


MYSTERIOUS DEATH. -An inquest was convened on Tuesday last, by C. T. SMEATH MAN, Esq. Coroner for the Sydney district, at the Ship Inn, on the Parramatta Road, on view of a body discovered the day pre- vious on the Dobroyd estate. It appeared, that as two of Dr. Ramsay's men were pas- sing through the bush on Monday, they smelt a most disagreeable effluvia; one of them   remarked that there surely must be a dead body not far off, and the other, in conse- quence, proceeded in the direction from whence the stench proceeded, into an al- most impervious scrub, where he found the body of the deceased in the hollow of a large tree, about five feet in diameter. He immediately hastened home and related what he had seen to his master, who trans- mitted the information to the proper autho- rities. On the jury proceeding towards the spot, the effect produced on the air by the decomposition of the remains was so power- ful that they were scarcely able to perform their painful office. The body was coiled up, and lying on the left side; a bundle con- taining clothes and other necessaries in tra- velling, being placed under, as if to answer the purpose of a pillow. The tree in which it was deposited was a white gum, which had at some former period been hollowed by fire, and was situate about half a mile from the road at Iron Cove bridge. At a   distance of some twenty yards from the body, was a black hat containing a pass, dated 19th September last, giving a description corresponding with the deceased, stating the bearer's name to be James Cunning- ham, late a private of H. M. 50th regiment of foot, and that he had permission to pass from Sydney to the interior in search of work; it was signed by Colonel Snodgrass.   In the bundle was a dirty shirt, the collar of which bore marks of blood, though not saturated, and on the body was one appa- rently clean, as if they had been charged   just previous to death. Four goannas ran up the tree, and the animals of the bush had preyed so very lavishly on the remains of mortality that the thorax and other parts of the neck, together with vari- ous portions of flesh from the rest of the body, were missing. Doctor Jeaneret ex- amined the body, and certified that none of the bones were fractured, but it was in such an advanced stage of decomposition, as to render it impossible to decide whether a wound had at any time been inflicted. The jury were somewhat divided in opinion ; the idea of some being that the deceased had been murdered, and the majority of opinion that he had placed himself in the tree and died a natural death. After much delibera- tion, however, they agreed upon the follow- ing verdict -" That this jury are of opinion, from the extreme state of decomposition in which the body of the late Thomas Cunning- ham has this day by them been seen, and the total want of evidence, that they cannot de- cide on the actual cause of his death."

In the latter part of the afternoon, a young woman arrived, who stated herself to have been the wife of the deceased ; that he had accepted the commuted allowance, and arrived lately in the colony with herself and child, but being reduced to a state of utter destitution, they placed the child out to nurse, she went to service, and the deceased left Sydney last Wednesday three weeks, to seek for the means of supporting them up the country, taking with him the things just as found in the bundle. It also ap- peared that he had been seen passing the Plough Inn on that afternoon.