Read The Mayne Inheritance Online

Authors: Rosamond Siemon

Tags: #True Crime/Murder General

The Mayne Inheritance (4 page)

BOOK: The Mayne Inheritance
8.74Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

By his early twenties the daily manhandling of heavy beasts had increased Patrick's muscular strength. The promise of developing into a strong man, so evident in his youthful frame, was fulfilled; and he presented not only as good-looking, but as an agreeably powerful young man. Brute force was in that body and in the hard, mocking slit of his mouth. But its threat was diverted and somewhat softened by chin-length dark curling hair that framed his large, dark-eyed, mobile face.

Once the slaughterhouse had transferred to R.J. Smith's more stable ownership and wages were paid on time, life at Kangaroo Point again settled into a comfortable routine of working, drinking at the Bush Inn, and, because Patrick had the Irish gift of the gab, endless talking. At day's end there was a carefree atmosphere amongst this group; its robustness suited the energy he expended. He made special friends of Mathew Stewart and his wife Honoria, who had a small cottage near his lodgings. Stewart's goal in life was to become a publican. He occasionally made a little profit from the chickens and illegally kept pigs he raised in his tiny backyard. When the pigs strayed beyond his fence, damaging neighbours' gardens, he and Honoria brawled with their equally quick-tempered neighbours. On
occasions the police were summoned and the Stewarts were fined. Most of the settlers lived their lives at flashpoint. There was a certain defiance of authority and convention and not a lot of respect for the law. Brawling and drunkenness were common problems in the colony and often involved women. And what might be an explosive release of tension for those settling an argument with their fists was also good sport for the onlookers.

With no banks, very little cash was available, so most men's wages took the form of promissory notes, which were soon lodged with the publican. He gave back another I.O.U. or some cash for necessities, and ticked up a steady flow of alcohol until the balance cut out. It was not unusual for out-of-town men to sell their produce and buy provisions, then hand the promissory note to the publican. They then existed in a blissful alcoholic daze until lack of credit balance brought sober morning and a long trek back to the crow-shattered silence of their selection. From where he lived at Kangaroo Point, such distant selections suggested no promise of wealth to Patrick. Although he had been a farm labourer, he was satisfied to gaze across the river to the dark shadows scoring the dense, scrub-covered slopes of the hills, then turn back to the cosy huddle of people, talk and argument. That distant view was alien. He liked to confront others with his always definite views. For him, opportunity lay in the town. He was quick-thinking, wanting instant results. Not for him a lonely, patient battle with capricious seasons.

Strangers with money came and went. Drunken men were often robbed. That was life in the raw settlement of early Brisbane—as it is now in any metropolis. Wise men kept silent about any wealth they were carrying. But once the drunken sawyer, Robert Cox, accused his friend William Fyfe of stealing his money, speculation spread rapidly amongst the crowded patrons of the Bush Inn. Money was something most of them would have liked to get their hands on; their lack of it was chronic. On 26 March 1848, more than one hotel patron would have taken a sudden speculative interest in Robert Cox, the stranger, from out of town.

Patrick Mayne said he was not drunk on that night. The evidence indicated that at intervals during the day he had been drinking. His later business life shows that he habitually made long-range plans and did not have too much respect for others' property. On learning that Cox had money, it would be in keeping for him to cease drinking and begin planning. He was also a man who could not bear to be thwarted and was prone to react viciously with his fists, and on later occasions with a whip. He had neither respect for the law nor fear of it; when confronted by it, he could, if he chose, maintain an arrogant detachment.

What is difficult to understand is the utter savagery of his attack on the hopelessly drunken Robert Cox. It seemed the act of a demented man. Carving up the body like a sheep was one thing; butchery was his daily work and he was doubtless desensitised to such routine actions.
But the macabre placing of the parts with no attempt to hide his crime, flaunting them in view in different locations and then propping up the head so that it would stare at those who found it, was bizarre. Even throwing the intestines down the well was no haphazard disposal. Many houses had wells and kept such foodstuffs as meat and butter in their cool, dark depths. These foodstuffs were clearly protected by a weighted, fly-proof cover topping the well. This would have had to be removed for the Bush Inn's meat and butter to receive their hideous decoration.

As news of the murder spread and local folk gathered at the scene, where was Mayne? Hiding in terror at the realisation of what he had done, or remorseless and resting after a busy night? Was he agitated, or so sick with revulsion that his mind obliterated the frightful experience from his thoughts?

Violence was part of the male culture and one could speculate on circumstances which might have triggered such brutality. If he had planned a robbery and found no money, his frustration and anger could have boiled to a pitch where he lost control. But new money did come into his hands and he must have contemplated the deed to be carrying the bone-cutting instruments.

Evidence at the inquest strongly implied that Cox and Fyfe, who had been prisoners together, had a homosexual relationship. But even if Cox had propositioned the large, muscular, twenty-three-year-old Mayne, he was obviously not capable of more than the proposition in his drunken state. And in a rough colony with its dearth of women,
where homosexuality was common, it is difficult to imagine that righteous indignation would trigger such butchery.

Such speculation is idle. The cold-blooded murder and robbery of Robert Cox was committed by Patrick Mayne and proved rewarding. How else could Patrick, who drank the surplus of his weekly wage, afford to marry, and the following year purchase and stock a Queen Street house, shop, and butcher's business?

In hindsight, the evidence at the inquest clearly showed Mayne's cunning and careful planning as he deliberately implicated the innocent William Fyfe as the murderer. It took a cool head to return a day later to the cook's hotel bedroom and plant blood, most likely sheep's blood from the slaughterhouse. Incompetent police work and scant knowledge of forensic science protected him. There is no evidence that Mayne recognised murder and mutilation as an immoral act; no sign of remorse. In inflicting such violent indignity on his victim was he achieving a superiority that he craved and had never had?

Knowing of his deathbed confession, it is chilling to re-read his articulate and damningly precise testimony of his own and others' supposed whereabouts on the fatal night. Such a calculating man would not be foolish enough suddenly to produce unexplained money. He was wise enough to hold back until public memory of all the incidental witnesses at the trial faded. He was helped in this by temporarily dropping from view.

Good as the busy slaughterhouse was for the economy
of Brisbane town, the effluent from it attracted sharks upstream and cast a stinking pall over Kangaroo Point and cross-river areas such as North Brisbane. The townsfolk objected frequently and loudly. Soon after the murder, R.J. Smith was pressured to move his works elsewhere. He decided to take it several miles upstream to the north-west bank of the Bremer at its junction with the Brisbane River. The area was called Moggill and the move had several advantages. Kangaroo Point land attracted good prices for homesites, whereas land at Moggill was not only cheaper, it was closer to the source of Smith's supply from Ipswich, Long Pocket, Fassifern Valley, and Redbank where the stock route from the Darling Downs and the Brisbane River Valley converged. The surrounding scrub could provide abundant fuel for his steam boilers, and the hides and tallow could be easily barged down to the main shipping wharf at North Brisbane. In early October 1848, lock, stock, barrel and staff were moved.

The new site was opposite the parish of Goodna, well away from the sensitive noses of complaining townsfolk—and far, too far, from the workmen's leisure haunts in crowded hotels. Many of his employees were bonded; they hated the move. The quiet bush had no calming effect on their tempers. To them the isolation was little better than prison. Within weeks there was rebellion and violence amongst the workers. James Millar, bonded to his employer, downed tools and threatened his boss with an axe; Smith had to carry a pistol for protection until Millar's continued violence saw him sent to gaol in Sydney.
Three others absconded; once caught, they too went to gaol. Patrick Mayne, free of bond, kept his distance from trouble and maintained his low profile until it suited him to move.

He had found lodgings at Moggill and made a new set of friends: Darby McGrath from Waterford, Ireland and his brother John, a former convict; and Patrick Pacey, an Irish tailor and political rebel who had come on the same ship as John—the
They had taken advantage of a new land regulation designed to provide fresh meat for Moreton Bay, which allowed them to squat on land there. Once the convict settlement had closed, people were encouraged to take up a square mile (640 acres) of land within the settled districts for pastoral purposes only. The rent was an affordable ten shillings a year but they could not enclose the land, build on it or cultivate it.

The McGraths and the Paceys, none of whom could read or write, remained lifelong friends with Patrick Mayne, a friendship which included the Stewarts from Kangaroo Point. They witnessed each other's weddings and christenings and several times in later years Mayne stood surety for Mathew Stewart when he sought a liquor licence. They all prospered, but Darby McGrath was the smart one. He became a land speculator and in fairly short time one of Moreton Bay's wealthy men. He purchased land from Moggill to Aspley, a shop in North Brisbane, claimed brother John's widow's grazing land near the rafting ground at Moggill (there were no children to inherit),
and then set himself up as a gentleman at Willowbank, in the Ipswich area.

Looking at the Crown Land sales over the next ten years it seems that he was something of a mentor for Patrick Mayne's own land deals. They often attended sales together, with Darby buying the choicest, most expensive blocks and Patrick taking up the adjoining, cheaper allotments. Patrick Pacey, the former Irish political rebel, who was ultimately declared innocent of his crime, followed the pattern of many colonial men of ambition by buying a shop in Queen Street. He also acquired some twelve hundred acres south-west of Gold Creek, in the Moggill area.

It was at Moggill that Patrick, a Catholic, met a young Irish servant girl, Mary McIntosh, a Protestant from Kilkeshan in County Clare. Her soldier father, William McIntosh, was dead. Her mother, also called Mary, was a housemaid and remained in Ireland. She had carefully placed her twenty-year-old daughter under the protection of Timothy and Mary O'Donnell, farm workers from Kilkeshan who, with their two small daughters, were migrating to Sydney in the Bounty ship
The O'Donnells were Catholics and had in their charge four other young servant girls. They left Liverpool on 12 February 1842. Like Patrick, who had sailed five months earlier, Mary McIntosh had received enough elementary education to be able to read and write. Her certificate showed that she was a housemaid, strong and with good bodily health and had been baptised at Clonlea.

The little group of friends at Moggill knew Patrick as a
big, handsome, hardworking butcher at the boiling-down works, keen to get his foot on the next rung of the worldly ladder. He may have seemed worldly and older than his twenty-four years, and he must have been very attractive to Mary—who, to her dying day, concealed the fact that she was almost three years older than he was. In a society in desperate need of marriageable women, and where marriage conferred some status on a female, it was most unusual for a young housemaid to remain single until she was twenty-six. Whatever Mary's reasons for remaining unwed during her first six years in the colony, she was feminine enough to want to pass herself off as a younger woman. It was a short courtship; on 9 April 1849, just a year after the Cox murder, Protestant Mary and Catholic Patrick went into Brisbane to be married by Father James Hanley. In that pluralist society, noted for its gender imbalance, which fostered homosexuality, most colonial priests had a soft policy on mixed marriages. Dispensations were readily given. Mathew and Honoria Stewart stood as their witnesses at the little Catholic church, converted from a former convict barn in Elizabeth Street, not far from where Fr Hanley had his cottage at Gardens Point.

For the young couple it was back to the leafy solitude of Moggill. Very soon Mary was pregnant with their first child, Rosanna. In July, when Mathew Stewart finally achieved his goal and purchased the licence of St Patrick's Tavern at Kangaroo Point, his friend Patrick Mayne had
had enough of life and work in the country. He was ready to move back to Brisbane town.


Law Courts & Land Deals

On 29 September 1849, the little-known slaughterman Patrick Mayne suddenly announced to Brisbane town that he had purchased the business of Queen Street butcher, James Newbould.

He returned to a far busier town than he had left a year earlier. The area had been given a social and numerical boost by some 420 of John Dunmore Lang's Scottish immigrants who arrived on the
(21 January) and the
(1 May), and 84 more were on their way in the
(3 November). They were mainly Scottish Calvinists, better educated, better dressed, and more soberly behaved than many of the populace. The numbers meant more customers for trade. Some opened shops, offering a wider variety of goods. New buildings that filled the gaps
in the network of straggling streets gave them a more established appearance, but business rivalry between North and South Brisbane remained just as strong. There was no clear indication of where Brisbane's commercial strength would eventually reign.

Perhaps precipitantly—trade had been depressed—the sole Queen Street butcher, Newbould, had decided that two years of struggle was enough; he wanted to move. His business was not advertised for sale and there is no indication of what Mayne paid for it, but a reasonable guide lies in a similar sale at the time by Thomas Dowse, the local auctioneer. Because of pressing difficulties, Dowse sold his house and attached business premises in Queen Street for £240. This amount falls well within my calculations of the amount of money stolen from Cox when he was murdered. As a single man, Patrick had barely managed to stretch his pound a week to provide his lifestyle. With two to house and feed, there could have been no saving during the past year. Now he had money and became a man of the town. As a man of property he was on the electoral role and the jury list. His property was four shops up from the banana plantation at the corner of Queen and Edward Streets. It was a small, dark, almost windowless shop extending at the back to cramped living quarters with a semi-detached kitchen, and beyond that was a narrow backyard. Here Mary, like every good village wife, kept chickens and a vegetable patch. The Maynes' education and ability to read and write was
minimal, but Patrick had maximum self-esteem as his own boss.

Within months of opening his shop he was a family man, father of Rosanna, and had money in his pocket. Their daughter had been born in Queen Street on 30 January 1850. Immediately he began living up to his new status. Now it was no cocky but unimportant slaughterman who joined his uproarious friends at the hotel, but an assertive Queen Street butcher in expansive mode who displayed his new prosperity and gained popularity by readily going surety for three Irish publicans. This was a smart business move; for many years he continued to go surety for publicans at licence renewal time. The hotels all had dining rooms that served meat, so he had an assured trade. His enthusiasm to show himself as a big fellow dropped him into an early trap, however, when he went surety for the forger James Field. Patrick's money was forfeited when Field absconded. And Mayne was not quite so enthusiastic about donating to worthy causes. He made only an average donation to support the stipend of Fr Hanley and gave ten shillings and sixpence to the Hospital Fund. Late in 1851, he was to enter that hospital for ten days, but that page in the records is missing and there is no indication of his health problem.

Less than a year after he opened his shop he was summoned to court in the first of a long series of misdemeanours that brought him into conflict with the law. Despite his undoubted desire to be an important man of business, reports in the
Moreton Bay Courier
underline the fact that
throughout his short life he had little regard for the law and seemed sometimes to believe that what he wanted, he could have. There are occasional indications that a dark and stronger mind-force took control.

On this first occasion, he had sighted and taken home a pig which had been sold by another Queen Street trader, Robert Cribb, to Richard Sexton of Kangaroo Point. In a district where ownership of wandering stock was frequently disputed, owners of pigs usually made their identifying mark on one ear of the animal. When Sexton's servant and Cribb's son were searching for the pig and eventually identified it as it slumbered in Mayne's backyard, Patrick's instant reaction was brute force. Strong and fit from years of handling heavy animals, he easily gave a savage beating to the two young men and forced them from his yard. The assault was proven and he was fined £2.10.6d. Five weeks later he was back in court on a similar charge.

Although 1850 was a good year with expanding trade, Patrick Mayne could not, so early in his business venture, have had much surplus money for his new, expansive lifestyle. It is possible that having established his shop and too readily shown some largess to suit the idea of his new position, he was for a time a little short of money. One of several puzzling incidents occurred eighteen months after he bought his business.

His friend Mathew Stewart was now doing well as a publican at the only North Brisbane two-storied hotel, the Donnybrook, on the opposite side of Queen Street. At
two o'clock one chilly Sunday morning, Stewart was awakened by a noise at his bedroom window. His cash-box had gone from the bedside table, the window was wide open and the thief had fled to the yard by a ladder used as a fire-escape, which he had then removed. At an outcry from Stewart, Patrick Mayne suddenly appeared and joined him in the search for the thief. They found only the dropped cash-box, still with its contents of £27. The
Moreton Bay Courier
noted that the thief doubtless expected a much larger sum which was known to be in the hotel. The reporter made much of Mayne's sudden appearance but gave no explanation for it. What remains unexplained is how Patrick appeared so conveniently on the scene at 2a.m. Mary, six months into her second pregnancy, was in bed at the back of their shop some distance away. On that night was Mayne sleeping at the hotel in the same street as his shop, or simply passing by?

When business was slow, one of the pleasant tasks of shopkeeping was to stand at the front and chat to passersby, at the same time noting who was in town and the amount of trade being done elsewhere. It was on such an occasion that Patrick again crossed swords with the law. In the course of duty, Constable Monsell was escorting an obstreperous drunk past the butcher's shop to the watch-house when he was suddenly and forcefully attacked by Mayne. In court, Patrick declared that he did not approve of Constable Monsell's actions.

Mary Mayne was as quick to attack as her husband. When Mrs Sheehan, the neighbouring publican's wife and
her male servant attempted to retrieve their hen and chickens, which Mary had captured and carefully trussed up with string in Mayne's backyard, the all-in brawl ended in court. Screaming threats to kill, Mary rushed at Mrs Sheehan with a fence paling, while Patrick, with the bullying tactics of the larger and stronger man, grabbed the Sheehans' terrified servant by the hair. Holding him up, he enquired tauntingly: ‘‘Now what was the matter?'' The ‘‘Chicken Hash'' as the paper reported it, came only three weeks after Patrick's attack on Constable Monsell. Bullying, sometimes backed up by the use of his whip, seems to have been one of Mayne's ego-boosters. In the early sixties he was pilloried in the press for this standover behaviour.

In his earlier brush with the law over the misappropriation of Sexton's pig, he had considered that even though the crime was his, his home with its yard was his castle, not to be violated. But he did not extend that concept to other people. In 1855, when he asserted that another Queen Street butcher, John Wilson, had stolen eight of
pigs, he stormed into Wilson's shop to inspect the evidence and tried to take the pig carcases back to his shop. Both men were now prosperous butchers, with neighbouring poorly-fenced stockyards at Breakfast Creek. It was not unusual for disputes over pigs to arise. Once again, Mayne was out of luck. The carcases he claimed were minus their identifying ears. He lost the case. More than once he was accused of stealing other people's stock, but, in fairness to him, a widespread attitude to livestock seemed to be: ‘‘claim what you can get away with.'' Both
butchers admitted that the fence was not pig-proof, and their shepherds testified that the animals sometimes became mixed. The record shows that Mayne was often careless about the confinement of his animals, and was fined several times for allowing his pigs to stray into the street.

In his many other court appearances he was fined £10 for trying to intimidate a witness; fined for using bad language; and again charged with assaulting a man in the street. This time it was Thomas Holland who was walking past his shop. A fine of £10 to a pound-a-week worker may have been a deterrent, but the moneyed Mayne displayed an air of insouciance as he paid the fine in cash, on the spot. When Martin Fletcher was on trial for forging and uttering, Mayne, who proudly informed the court that he was a butcher, landed proprietor and owner of the Lord Raglan Hotel, was accused of ‘‘acting in concert'' with his hotel's publican as a witness for the prosecution. The judge decided their accusation was trumpery and threw out the case. It was another occasion when Mayne had no conscience about implicating an innocent man.

In the rough colonial culture of the 1850s, this continued flouting of law and order may have made him appear, in some eyes, something of a folk hero. For the gregarious Patrick it was important to be a big fellow; fear of losing that identity would ensure his continued larrikinism. Even the arrival of six children over that decade and the death of one of them, made no impact on what he saw as acceptable behaviour. Larrikinism has a boundary that stops
short of extremes of human behaviour; in Patrick, an element of irrationality smudged that boundary. At times it seemed as though his consciousness of other people's feelings was non-existent.

After he won public office in 1859 and served with some of the town's respected businessmen on the first municipal council, his openly cavalier attitude to the law did not seem to change. Ten months after winning office, he was convicted of horsewhipping an intoxicated William Taylor who entered his shop, called him ‘‘Paddy'' and gave him cheek. If Patrick thought his civic dignity was at stake, he had two assistant butchers behind the counter who could have escorted the drunk away. Instead, their employer savagely slashed at Taylor's head and shoulders six or seven times with his whip, then closed in and attacked him with its butt, inflicting more lacerations. He was fined what seemed to be the customary amount for such behaviour: forty shillings, plus ten shillings and sixpence costs.

It was always a different story when Patrick believed he was wronged. He was quick to charge indentured employees who absconded, and to see they received three months' hard labour. And he was not beyond withholding a worker's wages if it suited him. In 1846, as a slaughterman for Campbell, Patrick had twice taken his bankrupt employer to court for back wages. Yet he had no sympathy for his own employees, trying to survive with little pay. Nor did he have the excuse of trading problems or bankruptcy when he failed to pay the German migrant Heinrich
Bowger for a year's work in 1858. On the contrary—he was a very wealthy man, regularly purchasing tracts of land in the town and outlying areas. Bowger, who was under bond to be employed by anyone who paid his fare to Australia, had accepted Mayne's offer of £30 a year with rations. A shepherd's wage was £40 a year with rations; the balance of Bowger's wage was to be forfeited in repayment of his fare. He won his case against Mayne, who had paid him only £14.7.6d, less than six months' wages, for twelve months' work.

In the young colony, wealth, mostly invested in property, was the indicator of social worth and success. Mayne had invested his accumulated wealth in property, and the local lads may have applied that measure of social worth to him. But those who administered the law were well aware of his lawless reputation and made no concessions. The wording of press reports of his misdemeanours occasionally suggests that the editor of the local newspaper regarded him more as one of the likely lads, a tearaway rather than a civic-minded, respected citizen to which one of Patrick's personae aspired. But it must be emphasised that if anyone other than Patrick himself harboured inside knowledge of his deepest secret, there is no evidence that the press or the general public ever suspected his involvement in the Cox murder.

In the 1850s it was not just the accumulation of land that stirred the commercial pulse of the colonists. The excitement of the Californian gold rush, and the discovery of gold by Edward Hargreaves in 1851 at Bathurst, New
South Wales, roused visions of quick riches amongst Australians. People dreamed of a bonanza. The newspapers and the people talked GOLD. In Moreton Bay it was rumoured to have been found in the Taylor Range at the edge of settlement, as well as on the Darling Downs, and hopeful prospectors panned the local creeks. Some local men had shipped off to the Californian diggings; now Brisbane's traders were concerned that not only would new immigrants prefer to go where gold had been discovered, but that Brisbane would lose many of her precious few citizens to the hunt for quick wealth. These business men, fearing financial loss (and themselves not immune to gold fever) set aside their trading rivalries and united to seek a profitable solution. On 27 June 1851, a North Brisbane group gathered in John Richardson's storehouse and pooled their money to offer a reward to a discoverer of gold in their trading area, the northern district of Stanley, or on the Darling Downs. There were enough glittering visions for the handful of men to contribute £900.15.0d., but they were cautious enough to limit the offer to the next four months. Donations ranged as high as £50, a year's salary for many workers. Patrick's substantial £20 was well up with the majority. In fact, despite the traders' qualms about a deserting workforce, not a great many people were motivated to leave the safe huddle of the settlement and brave the hazards of snakes, thirst, and unfriendly Aborigines that might await any greenhorn prospector in the bush.

BOOK: The Mayne Inheritance
8.74Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

SEAL's Embrace by Elle James
Know the Night by Maria Mutch
South Beach: Hot in the City by Lacey Alexander
Winner Takes It All by Karen Mason
Destined to Last by Alissa Johnson
The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook by The Editors at America's Test Kitchen
Protector by Cyndi Goodgame
The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk