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Old Tom Gidley, Oh!

While searching for more information about my 4th Great Grandfather James Baker Worldon who was also known as James Baker Waldon/Walden and by the alias 'Milbank Jim' I came across the following newspaper item on Trove which mentions him and which it turns out I had been sent a copy of by another researcher some time ago and had forgotten (Thanks Brian, sorry I did not remember this sooner!).

Source: Trove. OLD TOM GIDLEY, OH! (1872, August 15). Melbourne Punch (Vic. : 1855 - 1900), p. 6. Retrieved from

In the bush at El Dorado
Curious games were lately played, oh!
By a squatter known to fame,
Which Old TOM GIDLEY is his name.
GIDLEY, which there's no concealing,
Twice was tried for cattle stealing,
Twice, "not guilty" verdicts meant
The accused was innocent;
Than the Beechworth snow more pure he
Seemed to that enlightened jury,
Who returned him to the station
And his usual avocation.
Some time back, on taking stock,
GID declared he'd lost a flock,
And imagined all along
That his sheep, two thousand strong,
Had on emigrating trotters,
Bolted to a neighbouring squatters,
Trespassing in search of feed,
On the run of ROBERT REID,
Who these muttons had converted
To his use, so GID asserted, 
And that virtuous claimant's loss
Benefited BOB, of course,
Through the wool and flesh and bone
Of sheep in thousands not his own.
Then having made this grand discovery
GID brought an action for recovery;
But when last week the case was tried,
The story told on plaintiff's side
By witnesses, prepared (in lots)
To swear big holes through iron pots,
Corroborative and compact,
And natural, looked just like fact, 
Until the evidence was sifted,
The curtain being rudely lifted.
First GIDLEY spoke, then after him
Who'd been convicted as he oughter
Of his own wretched wife's manslaughter;
Then more ex-convict malefactors
That didn't bear the best ka-rac-ters
Came forward with unblushing face,
In favour of the plaintiff's case.
For the reply, a straight denial
Of all the facts alleged on trial
Were made by men whose credit stand
Above suspicion in the land,
Giving emphatic contradiction
To their opponent's tales of fiction;
Some even swore that they'd be loth
To trust the plaintiff on his oath.
The Judge, although in general sparing
Of censure, said "since harder swearing
Was never heard in Court before
Through his experience of law,
One side or other must be liars!"
Whereat the four empanelled triers,
With common sense in the ascendant,
Concurred, by finding for defendant;
Showing the world that more or less
In law the right commands success.

The situation is quite fascinating; two powerful, wealthy neighbours at war with one another, each using their workers, assets and connections against the other!  Reid comes across as the more establishment man of the two, with Gidley the outsider and rogue.  Gidley's employment and trust of former convicts seems to be a major strike against him from the start!  You get a real feel from this case and the reporting of it, of the attitude many in the wider Australian community had at this time towards convicts and former convicts.  The nation was growing and changing, with convicts place its history and their continued existence within the community being an inconvenient truth and source of embarrassment and shame for many.   

Gidley using men like James as a witness in a case against an upstanding powerful 'pillar of the community' did not go well for him, them or the case.  It is obvious from the article that James' past was used in this case to undermine the plaintiff's case and James' testimony . Further the writer makes it abundantly clear that he believes that Thomas Gidley's association with ex-convicts, especially a convicted killer is a reflection of Gidley's character and honesty and that justice was ultimately served with him losing the case.  

More information on the court case can be found in the article below.

Source: Trove. GIDLEY v. REID. (1872, August 10). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1855 - 1918), p. 8. Retrieved from

In the Supreme Court, Melbourne, before His Honor Sir W. F. Stawell, Chief Justice, and a special jury of four, the action of Gidley v. Reid, was commenced on Saturday, and concluded on Tuesday.  This was an action of trover, the plaintiff, Thomas Gidley, lessee of El Dorado West Station, suing Robert Dyce Reid, lessee of El Dorado East Station, for the wrongful conversion to his own use of certain sheep and wool.
Pleas - Not Guilty, and that the sheep and wool were not the property of the plaintiff.
Mr Ireland, Q.C., Mr Fellows, and Mr Branson, for the plaintiff ; Mr Higinbotham and Mr C.A.Smyth for the defendant.
The solicitors' instructing counsel were Mr M.G. Smith, of Beechworth, and Mr G. Godfrey, of Melbourne, for the plaintiff; and Mr W.L. Zincke, of Beechworth, for the defence.
Plaintiff and defendant are squatters, owning adjoining runs in the Ovens district. Plaintiff is the possessor of El Dorado West run, and the defendant owns the Clear Creek, El Dorado East, and the Wooragee runs.  Plaintiff alleged that the defendant, by his servants, in the years 1869, 1870 and 1871, took some 8,000 sheep belonging to him (Gidley).
Thomas Gidley (the plaintiff) said that in 1869 he lost about 620 sheep, leaving about 4,000 sheep on his station.  In 1870 he lost 919 sheep, and in 1871 he lost 2476 sheep besides lambs.  They were branded G on ? ?, the ear marks were in 1869 notch out under the ear, in 1870 notch from top of the ear; the ear marks were on the wethers' right and on the ewes' left ear; in 1871, two notches on one ear.  In September, 1870, he saw a shepherd of defendant's, named Ward, with 40 sheep having the G brand, value about 8s each.  He spoke to Ward about them, and arranged to send for them.  He sent to the overseer (a German named Ferdinand) for the sheep, but did not get them.  In December, 1870, lost 1,100 weaners from the yard ; next morning found 600 or 700.  Next saw about 400 in one of the defendant's paddocks.  He went to the overseer about them, and the overseer said they could be got when he mustered.  Received no notice of the muster.  At the latter end of the month he saw 200 sheep, but he could not say if they were part of the previous lot of 400.  In September, 1871, he went through Reid's paddock, with one Thomas Mitchell.  He saw a dead hogget, branded G.  Next day, in going to Beechworth, he saw over 600 of his sheep in Reid's paddock's.  Could not say if they were the same he had seen previously.  One evening in October 1871, he and a shepherd of his, named Waldron, while riding to the upper part of the creek, saw a lad named Tommy Welsh (in the employ of Reid) driving sheep from his (Gidley's) land, over the fence, into Reid's paddock.  It was a chock and log fence.  The sheep jumped on the fence, and then sprang away.  Welsh rode away.  Went up to the sheep.  Some were branded G, some R.  There were about 1,000 to 1,200 altogether.  Went to Reid and told him about it.  Reid said he did not believe it.  He, however, rode down to the place ; when he came there he saw some had gone through, but not so many as had been stated.  Reid said he was sure that there was not a sheep of his (Gidley's) in the paddocks.  Reid said he would muster all the sheep into a yard for examination  Next day rode over to the yards, but saw no sheep there.  Then rode down to the shearing shed.  Saw a lamb there earmarked, but no brand.  Reid said "That's yours." Went into the shed with the overseer (Michael Kenny). Found a hogget with the off ear slit and near cut off.  Claimed it, and the claim was allowed by the overseer.  Found two more in the next pen which the overseer said he might take.  Found that day about 14 sheep and two lambs.  Waldron caught a lamb which had the ear cut off.  This was his (Gidley's) brand.  When it was let loose it went to a G sheep, and suckled it.  Kenny said he might take that lamb.  Asked Kenny how many sheep Reid had.  Kenny said that they had mustered some months before after the death of the German overseer, and found 15,000.  On the following Wednesday or Thursday went again to Reid's; saw two wethers there with the ears cut off, and blood running on the wool.  Asked Reid "What made you cut the ears off my sheep?" He said, "You know more about that than I do." Claimed some more sheep, and Reid said, "Be off my place, you shan't have another sheep here."  From June to Christmas, 1870, was ill. and during the greater part of the time was confined to bed, but used to ride out sometimes.  Had heart disease.
In cross-examination, the witness was asked whether he had not in 1870 signed a statutory declaration as to the extent of his run, and the cattle and sheep on it.  He said he thought he had not.  A statutory declaration was produced purporting to have been taken before Mr Telford, J.P., of Beechworth, and signed "Thos. Gidley."  Under the heading "number of sheep" there was a blank.  The witness said he could not say if it was his signature; he believed it was his daughter's.  He had the run since 1860.  It was a cattle station till 1866, then put 2,100 sheep on it.  Got 1,960 from Mr Wallace, of Mudgee, the rest of Mr Strickland on the Lachlan.  Did not buy any sheep afterwards.  The rest were increase of those first put on.  The run would carry 6,000.  Told Reid, at a meeting at Bethanga in 1871, of his losing his sheep.  Went to Beechworth to get a warrant against Reid for stealing the sheep, after the affair with the lad Welsh.  Could not get a warrant.  Went to Wangaratta for a warrant ; could not get one there.  Did not bring this action at Beechworth.  Was charged with cattle stealing twice.  Once the jury did not agree ; the second time he was acquitted.  Knew a person named McEvoy.  Before the second trial, assigned the station, &c., to him.  (The assignment purported to be in consideration of the sum of pounds747, paid partly in cash, partly in bills, and purported to be for 1,873 sheep on the station.)  No money was ever paid, and McEvoy never took possession.  In fact, the whole thing was a sham.  Waldron was known by the sobriquet of "Milbank Jim."  He was committed for trial about a year ago for a criminal assault on his (Gidley's) daughter, aged about 11 years.  No trial took place.  A man named Roscoe falsely charged Waldron with the offence.  Roscoe was now stopping at the station.  Roscoe made an affidavit that Waldron did not commit the offence.
James Baker Waldron, who was a boundary rider to plaintiff since 1868, said that one day in 1871 he was with Gidley, when he saw a man driving some 1,200 or 1,800 sheep through a fence into Reid's land.  The man galloped off.  Five or six hundred of the sheep had the G. brand on.  On 9th October, 1871, mustered 3,000 sheep. On 12th October, went to Reid's home station.  Saw some sheep of the plaintiff's there.  Gidley told Reid that he must have some of his sheep, and mentioned about seeing the man drive the sheep through the fence.  The witness went on to state how he had attended at the shearing at Reid's in 1871, and on different days had picked out altogether about 100 sheep with the G. brand.  Gidley went to Mr Reid, and told him not to shear till he had drafted his sheep out.  Reid ordered him and witness out of the shed.  Had "raddled" about 40 sheep as belonging to Gidley; only got about a dozen of them.  Some of the sheep had the G. brand partly plucked out.  Saw 60 or 70 of Gidley's sheep at Box's station.  (These were said to form part of a flock that Reid had sold to Box, a neighboring squatter.)  Knew them by the ear marks and general appearance.
In cross-examination, this witness said he did not leave England a free man; was known by the name of "Milbank Jim." Since he came here was charged with murdering his wife; was found guilty of manslaughter.  Was afterwards charged with larceny, and found guilty.  Was subsequently charged with an assault on a little girl, but no bill was found against him.
James Ward (a shepherd, at present in Gidley's employ).-Was in Mr. Reid's service in 1868.  Saw about 50 sheep with the G. brand.  Pointed them out to the overseer.  He said "It does not matter to you so long as you get your wages."  Afterwards saw some more at the woolsheds.  Mr Reid was always at the sheds.  The overseer put a little brand over the G. brand on some 300 sheep.  In October, 1870, was present at the washing.  Saw sheep with the G. brand washed by direction of the overseer (the German). The overseer cut off the ears of a ram and some ewes that had the G. brand.  Took sheep to Horrocks, a butcher; they had bottle and G. brand.  The overseer ordered witness to cull some sheep for rations.  Did so.  The overseer complained that they were poor.  Told him there were better sheep in the flock, but they were not Mr. Reid's; they were Gidley's.  The overseer then culled one of Gidley's sheep.
Cross-examined.- Was not dismissed for losing sheep.  I went away.  Have been with Gidley about two months.  Told him about six months ago about his sheep being with Reid's.  Gidley took him (witness) and three others to a police magistrate and witness made a statutory declaration about it.
Thomas Leech, carter had a contract for some grabbing with Reid.  In September, 1870, saw 250 or more G. sheep in Reid's paddock.  Told the overseer "There's a lot of G. sheep here."  He said "Gidley has been driving in Mr. Reid's sheep by mistake."  Afterwards saw 10 weaners with the G. brand among Mr. Reid's flocks.  Remembered "foot-rotting" the sheep in 1870.  The overseer pointed out a sheep, and said "You can kill it for rations;" it was branded G.  Recollected the sheep being sold to Box.  Mustered the lot.  There were a number with the G. brand.
Cross-examined.- Left Reid's employ about three months ago.  Had lost about 800 sheep.  Was not dismissed for that.  Had been in trouble about cattle stealing.  Did not come out free.
John Leech, son of last witness, said that in 1868 he saw about 300 or 400 G. sheep washed and shorn in Reid's shed.  Mr Reid was present.  In 1870 brought sheep to be shorn.  There were about 600 or 700 branded G.  There were some in every flock.  At the "foot-rotting" killed one of Gidley's sheep, by order of the overseer, for rations.  In the early part of 1871, while going to Chiltern, noticed some sheep on Gidley's run.  On returning saw them on Reid's run.  Did not know how they got there.
Cross-examined.- A public road runs through Reid's paddock.
William Leech also said that at the shearing in 1870 he had seen 400 or 500 G. sheep shorn; in 1871 had seen sheep killed with the G. brand.  Was with his brother (the last witness) on the occasion of his going to Chiltern.
John Williams, was in Reid's employment in June 1871, at the "Pilot," as shepherd.  Kenny, the overseer, told him he had picked up 500 or 600 of Gidley's sheep.  He did not know whether he would take them over in the morning, or turn them loose on the run.  Next morning saw the sheep in the yard.  When he came home at night they were gone.  Saw a sheep killed with an R on it.  Knew it was Gidley's, on account of the ear mark.
John Strachan, a splitter, said he had seen on two occasions 40 and 300 sheep of the plaintiff's on Reid's run.
James Newburn, a shearer, at Reid's in 1871, said that three of Gidley's sheep were shorn then.  Gidley claimed some sheep, but the overseer, Kenny, said he should not have them, and Reid ordered him out.  Mr Reid said not to shear any with the G. brand, but to turn them loose.  Partly shore one, when Mr Reid told him to stop.
Mary Jane Gidley, daughter of plaintiff, said that in Christmas, 1870, she went with her father to one of the defendant's stations, and saw two flocks of Mr Gidley's sheep there; she also corroborated the evidence about a lamb running up to a G. ewe and suckling.  As to the statutory declaration relating to the run, and which purported to be signed by her father, she said that she signed it in her father's house.  There was nobody present; one of the men told her to sign it.  Mr Telford's name was not attached to it then.  Roscoe might have told her to sign. He was schoolmaster then.  (The witness at the request of one of the jury, then wrote the name "Thos. Gidley" on a piece of paper, and it resembled the signature in the declaration.)
Michael Gidley, son of plaintiff, about 14 years of age, said that in 1870, while looking for some cattle, he saw some of his father's sheep in a flock driven by one of Mr Reid's shepherd.  He caught one.  The overseer said, "Will you swear it's a G.?" It was half a G. with the bottom plucked out.  In 1871 his father lost about 1,100 sheep.  Went to look for them on Mr Reid's run; saw a good few there.  Saw more of them at the wool yards.
Cross-examined.- Father's sheep were larger and had finer wool than Mr Reid's.  Have been able to read and write seven or eight years.
James Ross said that in November, 1871, he was in Mr Box's employment.  Purchased sheep from Mr Reid at Telford's sale-yards.  Gidley afterwards claimed some.  They correspond in age, ear mark, and station mark with what Gidley stated.
Michael Ward said that he had in 1870 seen sheep with the G. brand, branded on Mr Reid's station, with the bottle brand.  Saw G. sheep shorn
Wm. Edwards and Henry Edwards, two shearers, said that in 1870 there were some G sheep shorn at Mr Reid's.
James Rowe, a butcher, residing at Beechworth, gave evidence of a conversation he had with Mr Reid last February at Mr Perry's, the scab-inspector.  Reid told him to go to Gidley's and get what information he could, and bring it to him.  Went to Gidley's on 1st March and remained a night.  Afterwards came back and told defendant what he had heard.  He promised to pay well for the information, and in any event to give a situation.  Defendant said that Gidley was a rogue, and that witness was to get a bribe from him, so that it could be used against him.
This closed the evidence for the plaintiff.
The following witnesses were examined for the defence.
Robert D. Reid, the defendant said,- I have been in occupation of the Clear Creek station for 30 years.  Purchased the others, with 8,800 sheep, in 1870, from Dr Brough.  These sheep were branded with a B.  Was present at the shearing of 1869 and 1870.  Never saw a G. sheep there.  The overseer never reported there being any of Gidley's sheep on my run.  The first complaint I heard was from Gidley in October, 1871.  He said, "I come on a very unpleasant subject; a boy of yours named Welsh has put 1,500 of my sheep into your paddock."  I said, "I don't believe it." I went with him to the place, about five miles off.  We saw a 1000 sheep on the road, and I told him to go and see if he could find any of his sheep among them.  He could not find any.  We then went to the chock and log fence, which is about 2ft. 6in. high.  He said the sheep had jumped up and sprung right away, and that that accounted for there being no marks.  It was perfectly impossible to put sheep over in that way.  You might smoother them, but you could not get them over.  Welsh denied having put the sheep over.  Next morning showed the place to Mr Docker, who happened to be on a visit to me.  A few days after, Gidley came to me and asked me to allow Waldron to stop and pick out his sheep.  I said he might have picked out a better man, but I allowed him to stop. At that time, I did not know of his losses in 1869 or in 1870- in fact, I never heard of them till in this court.  While Waldron was in the shed eight or nine of my sheep  came in with my brand partly erased; the bottom of the R was cut off, and Gidley's brand put on the flank.  An ear had been cut off about three weeks.  I asked Waldron if he claimed the sheep.  He said, "No." I said, "What, though they have your master's brand?"  He said, "I don't care." This was on Saturday.  Gidley came on Monday.  I said, "What about these sheep, with my brand cut out?" He said, " You and your men know as much about it as I do."  I said, "If you don't know how to behave you had better clear out."  Gidley then claimed some sheep in a pen.  Kenny asked him their age, and he said they were young sheep.  Kenny caught one, opened its mouth, and there was not a tooth in it.  Gidley said there must be some mistake.  I said, "You make a good many mistakes, and the sooner you are off my ground the better."  He said, "I'll send some one who will watch you better than I can." I said, "Send 20 if you like,"  He then called Waldron, and both left the shed.  Waldron came back in a day or two, and remained till the end of the shearing.  He took away 70 or 100 sheep.  One of my men assisted him.  I ought to have shorn 17,000 sheep. I only shore 15,000.  Ward and Leech were dismissed for losing sheep.  Never said Gidley should not have a sheep.  Altered my ears marks every year, but every time I made an alteration, Gidley altered his to the same.  The sheep sold to Box were part of those I purchased from Dr Brough.  With regards to the sheep having the bottle brand, that was to show they were to be sold or killed.  That brand was put on a different part from where Gidley branded his.  That was the only time the bottle brand was used.
William Telford, of the firm of J.H. Gray & Co., cattle salesman, Beechworth, and a justice of the peace, deposed that the declaration which Gidley said was signed by his daughter was signed by him (Gidley).  It was signed at Gidley's house.  Explained to him that it was a declaration under which he might be punished for perjury if it was untrue.  Had about ten days before seen Gidley at Beechworth about it.
Cross-examined.- Called twice about the declaration. Miss Gidley told him the first time that it was filled up. (The piece of paper on which Miss Gidley had written her father's name was handed to the witness, and he said it was an imitation of Gidley's signature.)
J.B. Docker, land owner, corroborated defendant's evidence about accompanying him to the chock and log fence.  There were no signs of sheep having jumped it.  He did not think plaintiff's evidence was reliable.
Michael Kenny, defendant's overseer, said there was not a G. sheep among those sold to Box.  He saw three G. sheep in 1870 on the defendant's run.  Milbank Jim and Gidley's son took them away.  Never saw any more till just before shearing time 1871, when he was 60 in a paddock.  Told Gidley about them, but he did not come till shearing time.  He (witness) denied that any of Gidley's sheep were shorn at any time.
Thomas Welsh, boundary rider denied having driven any of plaintiff's sheep on to defendant's run.  At the time he was said to have done so he was at the hut of one Edmund Canning, six or seven miles distant.  In this he was corroborated by Canning.
A number of the persons who were shearing for defendant in 1869, 1870 and 1871, denied that any G. sheep were shorn.
Richard Perry, inspector of scab for the Beechworth district, said he had frequently examined the plaintiff's and defendant's runs.  Gave a permit for the delivery of the sheep to Box.  Saw those sheep; they were branded R.  This witness was examined as to a conversation he had with Rowe.  He said Rowe said to him, if Reid would employ him he would get up evidence for him.  He afterwards said he had been to Reid, and Reid wanted him to do what his conscience would not allow him to do, ?, try and get a bribe from Gidley so as to use it against him.
This closed the defendant's case.
His Honour in summing up, said that it was a question for the jury which set of witnesses they would believe, because it was a case in which there was no middle course open to them.  They must believe one set, and disbelieve the other.  It certainly was strange if the plaintiff was losing sheep in the way he stated that he took no steps to obtain redress- that he did not demand restitution until so late a period.  Some people would, under the circumstances he had stated, have made the country side ring with their demands for justice.  According to the plaintiff's statements, his sheep were taken by men on the defendant's station, who apparently would derive no benefit themselves for what they did.  If they had taken the sheep for themselves, their conduct would be intelligible but it was so not intelligible where they were merely servants of another. 
The jury, after a short deliberation, returned a verdict for defendant.
Mr Higinbotham asked his honour for a speedy execution for defendant's cost.
His Honour said there was no reason for granting such an application.

This was not the end of Thomas Gidley and Robert D. Reid's court cases against one another and you just know that ultimately one of them will eventually emerge from it all as the victor.  A couple of months later in February 1873 Robert D. Reid turned around and took action against Thomas Gidley for sheep stealing (see below).  

Source: Trove. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 1873. (1873, February 25). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 5. Retrieved from

The litigants in the case of Reid v. Gidley, an action which occupied several days in the hearing at the civil sittings of the Supreme Court at Melbourne some months ago, have again come into collision.  The Wangaratta Dispatch states:- "Mr. R.D. Reid, of Eldorado, has for a neighbour Mr. Thomas Gidley, who for many years has been a source of trouble to him, and who in every way tries to annoy him.  These Christians do not love one another, and some time ago Mr. Gidley, who has on more than one occasion figured in court cases, actually took out a warrant against Mr. Reid for sheep-stealing.  Acting, however, under the advice of his friends, he did not execute the warrant, but instead instituted civil proceedings against him.  The circumstances of this cause celebre will be in the recollection of most of our readers ; suffice to say that it came off in Melbourne.  The best procurable talent was engaged on either side.  A cloud of witnesses went to town, and the result was a verdict for the defendant.  Since then things have been quiet, but now Mr. Reid has lodged an information against Gidley, charging him with having stolen certain sheep, his property.  The case was heard at Beechworth before Mr. W. Butler, P.M., on Monday, and occupied nearly the whole of the day.  After hearing a large amount of evidence, the Bench considered that a prima facie case had been made out and committed the accused for trial at the next circuit court.  Bail allowed, himself in pounds 200, and two sureties of pounds 100 each."

Source: Trove. GENERAL ITEMS. (1873, April 23). The Albury Banner and Wodonga Express (NSW : 1871 - 1938), p. 3. Retrieved from

THE CASE OF T. GIDLEY.- The trial of Thomas Gidley, on a charge of stealing certain sheep, the property of Robert David Reid, of Eldorado East station, took place at the Beechworth Circuit Court on Saturday last, and resulted in the acquittal of the prisoner.

While Thomas was acquitted in this case, Robert Reid would soon prove to be the ultimate victor in this war, as in June 1873 it was reported that Thomas Gidley had sold El Dorado West Station to him.

Source: Trove. VICTORIA MEMS. (1873, June 21). The Albury Banner and Wodonga Express (NSW : 1871 - 1938), p. 5. Retrieved from

SALE OF STATION.- We understand that Eldorado West Station has been purchased by J.H. Gray & Co., acting for Mr R. D. Reid, from Mr Thomas Gidley, for the sum of pounds 5620.

The fallout from the initial case, that he lost against Reid would lead to Thomas Gidley's downfall.  His witness in that first trial Ward took him to court for unpaid wages and that case led to Gidley being charged with perjury. Subsequently in October 1873 Thomas Gidley was convicted of perjury and was sentenced to two years hard labour.   

Source: Trove. ACCIDENTS AND OFFENCES. (1873, October 25). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), p. 20. Retrieved from
At the Beechworth Circuit Court on Thursday, before his Honour Mr. Justice Fellows (we learn from the Ovens and Murray Advertiser), Thomas Gidley, recently the owner of a squatting station, was charged with perjury, in having sworn, in a case in the Beechworth County Court, that he had not engaged the plaintiff, a boy name Ward, who was suing him for wages.  He was found guilty and sentenced to two years hard labour.

Unfortunately for Thomas Gidley and his family the heart disease he mentioned suffering from in the initial case became progressively worse, resulting in his early release from prison as it was known it would be fatal for him in the immediate future.  Then in March 1874 after his release from prison,  Thomas suddenly dropped dead in the streets of Melbourne.

Source: Trove. MR. WHALLEY, M.P. (1874, January 29). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1855 - 1918), p. 2. Retrieved from

RELEASE OF THOMAS GIDLEY.- This unfortunate man, against whom death seems to have returned a final verdict, has received an order of the Executive for his release from imprisonment on account of the state of his health.  It was known by himself and his family, at the time of his conviction for perjury, that he could not live to finish his sentence of four years, and that as he was in the last stage of disease of the heart he might die suddenly at any moment.  This disease has now shown one of its usual symptoms, dropsy, which means we believe impending death.  As Dr McCrae has certified that he was in a dying state, and that confinement would only hasten his death, and perhaps also because he has important worldly matters to arrange for his family (as his property is valued at about pounds 15,000), the Executive have allowed him to be enlarged.  He will therefore be removed from jail as soon as some interval in his condition permits.

Source: Trove. No Title (1874, March 21). The Albury Banner and Wodonga Express (NSW : 1871 - 1938), p. 13. Retrieved from

MR. THOMAS GIDLEY,- Mr. Thomas Gidley, who was not long since released from Pentridge Gaol, where he had been undergoing a sentence, dropped dead in the streets of Melbourne last week.

Meanwhile Robert Dyce Reid did not retain ownership of El Dorado West station for very long.  In 1874 he sold his station property and left for a visit to Europe. On his return to Australia he became a politician, enjoying a long career as such.  He died in September 1900 at his residence in Toorak, Melbourne.

Source: Trove. FOUR RIDINGS FOR OXLEY SHIRE. (1900, September 8). Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1855 - 1918), p. 6. Retrieved from

DEATH OF AN EARLY PIONEER.- The death is announced of Mr. Robert Dyce Reid, one of the veteran politicians of Victoria.  A native of New South Wales, where he was born in 1829, he came to Victoria at the age of 17, and settled in the Ovens district, where he engaged in pastoral pursuits for many years.  On his return from a visit to England in the seventies he was returned to a seat in the Legislative Council, and joining the third Berry Government in an honorary capacity, he carried the Reform Bill through the Upper House.  When the Berry Government was defeated in 1881, and Sir Bryan O'Loghlan became Premier, Mr. Reid resigned his seat in the Legislative Council for the purpose of opposing Sir Bryan when he went before his constituents in West Bourke for re-election.  He was defeated by 91 votes.  He was again unsuccessful when later he attempted to win the seat vacated by the retirement of Mr. W.M.K. Vale in Fitzroy, his successful opponent being Mr. O.R. Blackett, who stood in the constitutional interest.  Mr. Reid turned the tables on Mr. Blackett at the ensuing general election, and retained the seat with Mr. A.L. Tucker until he was replaced by Mr. Best in 1889.  In 1894 Mr. Reid was again elected to the Legislative Assembly, this time for Toorak, but at the last general election he retired , and has since taken no part in public affairs.  He died on Wednesday night, at his residence, Boundary-road, Toorak, and his remains were interred in the St. Kilda cemetery on Friday.

Ironically both Thomas Gidley and Robert Dyce Reid were destined to become neighbours of sorts for eternity, as both men were buried at the St. Kilda cemetery,  Thomas Gidley was buried on the 6th March 1874 in the Church of England Section of St. Kilda Cemetery, at Church of England, Compartment C, Grave 705.  While Robert Dyce Reid was buried on 7 September 1900 in the Church of England Section of St. Kilda Cemetery, at Church of England, Compartment B, Grave 435.

This started as a post about my 4th Great Grandfather James Baker Worldon and I sort of got sidetracked.  I wish I could say it is a rare occurrence but it really isn't! My natural curiosity takes over and off I go. For those who may be wondering what were the circumstances that led to him causing the death of his 'wretched wife' the information that follows might help, as I have previously covered the death of my 4th great Grandmother Catherine Rhall at the hands of her partner my 4th Great Grandfather James Baker Worldon and his manslaughter conviction here, here and here and also a case involving James Baker Worldon and Thomas Gidley's children here.  I still have the other abovementioned case against James to post about though.




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