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Trove Tuesday - The Murder of Patrick McCooey

These articles involve my 5th Great Grandmother Ann Puckeridge (nee Maund) and her son William Puckeridge (my half 4th Great grand Uncle).  Ann was born in England and married her first husband Joseph Puckeridge around 1796.  There are records of two children being baptised in St Marylebone, Middlesex, England for this couple Sarah (1799-?) and James (1800-?).  Their lives took a turn in 1800, when Joseph was sentenced to death for stealing scotch ticking, this sentence was later remitted to transportation for Life.  In 1801 Joseph, the convict and Ann his free wife arrived in Australia on board the ship Earl Cornwallis, their English born children's fate is unknown.  They went on to have the following children in Australia: William (1802-1877), John (1804-1885), Ann Sawyer nee Puckeridge (1806-1882), Mary Ann (1809-1818), Richard (1812-1881), Joseph (1814-1857) and Henry (1817-1819).   Joseph worked as a brickmaker in Australia and died in Sydney in 1818.  In 1820 Ann married John Sneid/Snead/Sneyd/Sneed (my 5th Great Grandfather) who was a convict transported to Australia on board the ship Hadlow in 1818 and they had the following children Eleanor Bell nee Snead (1820-1889), Richard Sneed (1822-?)  and Mary Baker Sparkes nee Snead (1823-1889).  John died in 1826, leaving Ann a widow yet again with young children dependent on her.  Her life took a turn for the worse after John's death with alcohol playing a major role.  Ann Puckeridge as she was known, died in 1850 and was buried at St Stephens, Newtown.

Source: CRIMINAL COURT.—(Friday.). (1827, March 20). The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 - 1848), p. 3. Retrieved June 18, 2013, from



William Puckeridge, Edward Holmes, Richard Sneid, and James Lee were indicted for the wilful murder of Patrick McCooy, on the 19th of February last.
JOHN DUNNOVAN examined ---is a housekeeper living the Brick-fields, Sydney ----Patrick McCooy, deceased , lodged in his house at the time he met his death ---this was on the night of the 19th of Feb. last ---about eight o'clock on that evening, witness had occasion to go into a paddock adjoining his house, to look after some cattle, which he suspected had broken out of the enclosure --- he discovered that a calf was missing --- happening to see McCooy, whom he had a few minutes before left in the house, standing by the paddock fence, he called to him for his assistance, to secure the stray calf ---McCooy did so --- whilst employed in securing the fence, two of the prisoners, Puckeridge and Holmes, came up ---- the former laid his hand on McCooy's shoulder, enquiring, at the same sime, who he was?  McCooy evaded the question, but Puckeridge insisted on an answer ---McCooy then told him his name. --- Puckeridge asked him if he recollected a particular night, and mentioned some street --- McCooy said he did not --- the prisoner Holmes said he did, and addressing his companion, Puckeridge, said "now's the time, sheet it home to the -----."  Puckeridge replied "I've been looking out for you, McCooy, some time, and now I'll McCooy you" ---he thereupon struck him in the breast, knocked McCooy down, and afterwards falling on the man, rose himself from the body, and with his whole weight fell on his knees upon the man's bowels --- this he repeated two or three times.  Holmes appeared to be the instigator of this act of violence --- his language appeared to excite Puckeridge to proceed to those extremes.  Holmes said to Puckeridge "stamp his guts out."  McCooy, in a faint voice, said "Oh, oh, oh, I am dead." Witness then interfered, to prevent any further outrage, when Holmes caught hold of his throat, and said, if he took part with him, meaning McCooy, he would serve him in the same way.  Puckeridge thereupon struck witness several blows, and likewise kicked him --- he eventually knocked him down.  Puckeridge was pursuing the same course of treatment towards him, as he had used to McCooy, having once jumped on him, with the whole weight of his body, when a woman of the name of Kennedy was seen approaching with a light --- a voice, which witness could not recognise, but thought it to be that of some spectator, cried out "knock off, knock off, here are lights coming" --- the person came up with a light, and a crowd of persons soon became assembled.  Puckeridge and Holmes still remained on the spot ---- witness had known Puckeridge for four years past, and Holmes for a considerable time --- there were six or seven persons who stood at a short distance, witnessing the affray --- a woman called Ann Puckeridge, who is reported to be the mother of the prisoner Puckeridge, was not present at the scene of those occurrences --- she was not at witness;s house during the whole of that day on which the fatal occurrence happened.  Ann Kennedy corroborated much of the testimony of last witness.
WM. FULLER --- remembered the night of McCooy's death --- about eight o'clock on that evening, he was proceeding along Goulburn-street, on his way homewards, when interrupted by four men, who were standing against the fence of Dunnovan's paddock --- the night was dark --- but previous to being interrogated by the men and being within a short distance from them, heard one of the men say to each other "here comes the ______, now's the time" --- on witness's approach, the prisoner Puckeridge asked him if he lived in yon corner house, alluding to the dwelling of Dunnovan --- witness replied in the negative.  Puckeridge then told one of the party to look at witness in the face, and see if he was the person they wanted --- the person who was spoken to said not.  Puckeridge then apologized to witness, for interrrupting him, and bid him good night --- witness proceeded on --- about a quarter of an hour after, there was a considerable tumult in the street, near to Dunnovan's house --- witness went out to ascertain the cause --- he came up to a concourse of persons, who had assembled, and then witnessed McCooy's lying on the ground, apparently in a dying state, and McCooy's brother, with Dunnovan standing close to him --- amongst the number of spectators were some girls --- one of whom observed, that it had just served McCooy right --- the person who said this was a stranger to witness.  Felix McCooy corroborated some of the testimony of first witness.
____ FORRESTER deposed, that on the same night as the outrages occurred, he saw a man leading the mother of the prisoner Puckeridge round the corner of Dunnovan's house --- this was a little before the assault took place on McCooy --- the man had his arm round the woman's waist --- witness, however, was at thirty yards' distance from them, and the night was dark --- he could not distinguish the features of the man --- about ten minutes after, or a little better, heard a noise in the street --- went up to the place where several persons were collected together --- witness enquired what was the matter --- Homes said some person had been ill-using Mrs. Puckeridge --- Dunnovan was standing by at the time --- Puckeridge struck him, and afterwards kicked him --- witness interfered, and succeeded in persuading Puckeridge not to repeat the violence --- deceased McCooy, was lying down at the time --- the woman witness alluded to, appeared to be intoxicated --- the man appeared the same --- but the woman seemed particularly so --- she appeared to resist the man --- observed her to hang back, as if unwilling to go with the person --- heard the woman cry out "don't kill," or "murder me" --- the prisoner Lee, was also a witness to this occurrence.
DR. BLAND deposed to examining the body of deceased ; on opening the body he found an extensive lacerated wound of the liver, apparently the effect of some mechanical violence ; considered it to be the cause of the man's death ; is certain the death was occasioned from external violence.  This was the case for the prosecution.  Witnesses were called for the prisoners.
The CHIEF JUSTICE summed up at great length.  

Source: No title. (1827, March 20). The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 - 1848), p. 3. Retrieved June 18, 2013, from


When the prisoners Holmes and Puckeridge were taken from the dock and handcuffed together, the court house yard, through which they had to pass, was a scene of distress, which it perhaps never before presented.  The afflicted partner of Holmes, a young woman of genteel deportment, apparently no more than 18 years of age, and who had been married to her ill-fated husband only two months, was seen to hang around him in convulsive agony ; the hapless girl could not be presuaded to part from the object of her affections ; and at last it was found necessary to use gentle force in separating them.  The intense anguish of this young female was indescribable ; and the effect it produced on the minds of the spectators was correspondent.  Men, woman, and children were universal in their expressions of grief at the moving spectacle.  The prisoners were escorted to gaol, followed by a considerable concourse of persons.  The prisoners said nothing on their way, and appeared to have undergone no change in spirits.  As soon as they had reached the gaol, their friends were permitted an interview with them.  Some of them suggested the propriety of preparing a petition to the Governor for a mitigation of the severity of the sentence.  Puckeridge expressed a wish that intercession might be made for Holmes; but professed indifference for himself.  A petition was prepared without loss of time; and some of the nearest relations to the culprits left Sydney on Saturday afternoon to lay the same before the Governor.  Before Monday morning a respite was received at the gaol.  The time to which it extends is not specified.

Source: THE MONITOR. (1827, March 23). The Monitor (Sydney, NSW : 1826 - 1828), p. 3. Retrieved June 18, 2013, from


The case of the two Natives; Puckeridge and Holmes, has excited considerable public interest.  We reside near the spot where the murder was perpetrated, and conversed immediately with those who were present just after the murder had been committed.  In so important a case, it behoves us to be unusually careful in our statements and remarks.  To let evil-doers escape from a false lenity, is pregnant with danger to public morals and safety.  To punish men for a greater crime than they are guilty of, is dreadful to contemplate.  The circumstances of the late murder are these.  The mother of Puckeridge is so drunken a woman, that she sometimes is seen lying about in the streets.  We remember her however when she was a clean sober woman.  In the afternoon of the murder, she lay intoxicated in a grass paddock in Goulburn Street.  A man was seen dragging her about, and it was reported to her son, now in gaol, that a man had been using his mother extremely ill, having taken an unmanly advantage of her helpless situation.  Inflamed with resentment he called on his friend Holmes, just returned from a burial, where refreshment had been had, and they agreed it seems to lie in wait for some one. Out of the paddock a calf belonging to Donovan had escaped.  Accordingly, accompanied by the deceased, Donovan went to put the calf in the paddock.  They were both immediately assaulted by Puckeridge and Holmes.  After knocking the deceased down, Puckeridge kneeled down or stamped on his chest and belly.  The man died of his internal wounds the same night.
IT is clear from these facts that Puckeridge and Holmes lay in wait to assault somebody.  But surely they ought to have been very careful on whom they vented their rage - and if they chose to beat any particular man, they become murderers, if on beating him they either drew a knife or stamped on a man's stomach, for we can perceive little difference in the degree of atrocity.
IN the first instance they intended only to give a good beating to some person whom they suspected of ill-treating the drunken woman.  But because two men choose to take the law in their own hands, are they to fall on every innocent man that comes in their way?  And are they to stamp on their victim?  Let us suppose the deceased to be the father of a large family of little children - is nobody to be answerable for his untimely end?  The very assault was unlawful.  It was premeditated.  It is too much the habit of the lower orders of Natives of this Colony to revenge their own quarrels.  Holmes would not have been so guilty as Puckeridge, if he had not encouraged him in jumping on the deceased.  From beating, the deceased Puckeridge was encouraged by Holmes to do what in our opinion is equivalent to drawing a knife - to kneel or stamp on the stomach and belly of the deceased -  an unmanly, an un-English, a cruel, and a dastardly act, and which displayed a ferocious murderous temper.  We remember pausing a good deal on the execution of a man about 18 months ago, who was hanged for murdering his wife.  He taxed his wife one day with being visited by a certain paramour.  The woman audaciously acknowledged to the visit, and told her husband to his face (although the mother of children) she had been unfaithful to him, and would continue to be so.  The husband in the height of his resentment, lifted an axe and killed her on the spot - seeing her mangled head, his frenzy induced him to repeat the blows on the dead body till it became a spectacle.  The Magistrate on the trial gave him a good character.  In passing sentence, the Chief Justice said, that had he ceased striking after the first blow, the law perhaps might not have implied malice, but the repetition of the blows constituted the act murder.  We doubt not but this was sound law.  But we feel confident that an act of frenzy which would induce most men to stab or strike a wife with an axe, would be sure to continue for a few moments, and that during the paroxysm one blow would excite another.  We remember at the time, we deplored the fate of the unhappy husband, for he seemed to have loved his wife, and who was a woman of some beauty.
PATRICK McCOOEY the deceased was a very steady peaceable man, and not likely to be guilty of the shameful act suspected by the murderers.  It is a remarkable fact that Puckeridge's sister, a loose woman, was the prosecutor of Edwards, who died denying the crime for which he was sentenced to Norfolk Island.  We do not think Holmes and Puckeridge ought to suffer because we think them more worthy of death than the five Pirates so called.  But we shall certainly think if they are saved, the fives Pirates were more worthy of being spared than we were before aware of.  Murder by deliberate assault and battery, committed on a peaceable unoffending man, is a dreadful crime.  To think right on the subject, let us who have wives and children, put ourselves in the place of the deceased.

Source: DOMESTIC INTELLIGENCE. (1827, March 30). The Monitor(Sydney, NSW : 1826 - 1828), p. 2. Retrieved June 18, 2013, from


The result of the investigation into the case of Puckeridge and Holmes, convicted for the murder of McCooey, has been a reprieve and conditional commutation, the terms of which we understand to be transportation for seven years to Moreton Bay, or until His Majesty's pleasure be known, the case being referred to England for the opinion of the Twelve Judges.

Source: Colonial Secretary's Office, Sydney, April 29, 1834. CERTIFICATES OF FREEDOM. (1834, May 5). The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 - 1842), p. 4. Retrieved June 18, 2013, from


Colonial Secretary's Office, Sydney, April 29, 1834.


THE undermentioned Persons have obtained Certificates of Freedom during the last week, viz. :-Albion (1), John Evans ; Archduke Charles, Thomas Rourke, from a Colonial sentence ; Asia (3), William Bull ; Asia (6), James Jones ; Atlas (3), John Brown, from a Colonial sentence ; Borodino, Edward Phelan ; Brothers (2), Julian Burke ; Bussorah Merchant (1), James Francis, George Mayes, John Martin, John Robins, William Jubb; Cambridge, John Murphy, Joseph Smith, William Moore ; City Edinburgh (1), Johanna Regan ; Countess of Harcourt (2), Edward Madden ; Countess of Harcourt (5), John Baggueley ; Eliza (3), Arthur Hurley, Michael Bryan, James Fowley, Timothy Mc'Auliffe, Thomas Leamy, William Browder, John Davis or Mehegan, Denis Murphy, Robert Walsh, Patrick Fowley, Michael Callaghan ; Elizabeth 3), Henry Thompson, John Whitehead, John Baxter, George Hindson ; Elizabeth (4), Mary Blaney, Eleanor Barrington, Catherine Holmes, Tereasa Henley, Mary Scott, Mary Emerson ; Florentia (2), Charles Jobb ; Georgiana, George Phillips ; Hebe, John Walker, Joseph Johnson, James Wright, Richard Cornwall, John Harrison ; Hercules (3), Bernard Dowd ; Hooghley (2), Jeremiah Holland, John Walker, James Black, William Burgess, William Yem ; John (1), John Green, Robert Hughes ; John (2), John Billing, John Hedges ; Isabella (2), Henry Egan ; Louisa, Ann Johnson, Priscilla Kelly or Weymess ; Manlius, Samuel Maden, Samuel Elliott alias Hurcomb ; Mariner (3), Thomas Siza ; Marquis Huntley (2), Henry Stephenson, John Ryan, Michael Mulcahy, Maurice Cowman, James Dwyer, Michael Coffee ; Mary Ann (3), Margaret Kinchley ; Midas (1), Mary O'Donnell ; Morley (4), Alexander Mulholland, James Atcheson, John Kane, William Taylor, Mathew Carolin, John Gleeson, William Crossey, Samuel Reid, Thomas Malone or Clark, John Comber ; Prince Regent (4), John Moss ; Phoenix (3), William Elsegood, Lazarus Jacobs, James Hall ; Shipley (3), George Gill.  Born in this Colony, William Puckeridge, from a Colonial sentence.
By his Excellency's command,

William Puckeridge received his Certificate of Freedom in 1834. He married Caroline Miles in 1842 and they had the following children: William (1836-1904), Ann (1838-1838), Elizabeth (1839-1909), James (1842-1919), Jane Greenslade nee Puckeridge (1844-1873), Joseph Edward (1847-1925), Richard (1849-1927), Caroline Duncan nee Puckeridge (1851-1903), Maria Hall nee Puckeridge (1854-1919), Phoebe A (1856-1858) and Isaac (1859-1937).  Caroline died in 1876 and William in 1877.

 More information on the case can be found at R. v. Puckeridge, Holmes, Sneid and Lee [1827] NSWSupC 17


  1. I found your blog whilst searching for more information about my Great x6 Grandfather John Snead.

    Thank you so much. This is really interesting. Until now I had been led to believe that Ann's husband had died on the boat on the journey to Australia. I also hadn't realised that Ann had been in the country so long before John arrived.

    Once again, thanks.

  2. I always found it interesting that the first line states that 4 men are being indited and the story continues with only 2.. I also thought that Richard Sneid was Ann's son from her second marriage.... I always found it super strange that you would give 2 sons the same name, especially when the first is still alive.. I am descendant fro Ann's first marriage to Joseph through their son Richard. Nice to meet some more relies :)

    1. Melindsa

      I am descended from Richard and Amelia from their daughter Mary Ann who married Thomas James Selby ...

  3. Thanks for the replies, it is nice to hear from other family members. It was a strange case and it seems much has been left out of the records that are easily available at this time unfortunately. It comes across as if the murder case against Sneid and Lee was not a very strong one, maybe they ended up with lesser charges, had the charges dropped or were acquitted which is not as news worthy.
    From an article on Trove 'Two men named Sneid and Lee, have been committed by the Police, charged as being accessories to the murder of Patrick McCooy, in the Brickfields, last week. A brother to the deceased, happened to be passing near Goulburn-street, when the cry of some person, as if in distress, was heard by him—he hastened to the spot, and amid a groupe of persons discovered his deceased relative on the ground. Persons about him were conducting themselves in an outrageous manner. The prisoner Sneid, who was one of the persons standing by, bid him take himself off, and used some threats. The other (Lee) was one of the disturbers.' Source:
    I have always wondered if this Richard Sneid had some connection with John Snead (surname spellings being what they were in the days of mass illiteracy), I will look into one day. A Richard Sneid was found guilty of highway robbery and sentenced to death in December 1827, whether or not it is the same man I don't know yet. I have a lot more research to do on this family!
    My two of my paternal Grandmothers sisters were named Elizabeth which was also their mothers name. I have no idea why two of them got the same first name, three living Elizabeth's in the one immediate family is a bit much in my opinion! Perhaps the first Elizabeth had been ill and not expected to live when the subsequent one was born and named and to everyone's surprise the first Elizabeth recovered, unfortunately I doubt I will ever know the story behind it all.


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