In a party mood: prisoner Michael LYNCH (as Horrigan, Harrigan or Sullivan), Christmas Eve, December 24th 1881

Indecent assault charges under the Act of 1863
Court martial with transportation and DD branding

Sixty-five (65) year old cook, Michael Horrigan (or Lynch, Harrigan and Sullivan), transported as Michael Lynch per Waverley (1) in 1841, was feeling festive on Christmas Eve, 24th December 1881. He celebrated by breaking into the residence of Alexander Denholm junior at Forcett, south-east of Hobart near Sorell, helping himself to a gold watch and some very fancy clothes. In a party mood, and probably dressed to the nines in Denholm’s tweeds, he then sought out and made amorous sexual advances to Robert Freeman.

Photographer: Thomas J. Nevin (1842-1923)
Date and Place: Hobart Supreme Court March 1882
Black and white copy of sepia print printed in cdv mount
Verso indicates alias, crime, date of transportation, photo or archival no. 466 etc
QVM:1985:P:89, QVMAG Collection, Launceston, Tasmania

This prisoner’s proper or real name was Michael LYNCH alias Horrigan and Sullivan, according to the police gazette notice on his arraignment at the Supreme Court Hobart, 7 March 1882. The archivist who wrote his name on the verso on this black and white copy used the later spelling of the alias “Harrigan” which was recorded by the police gazette notices of 1884 and 1885.

Verso inscription:

“Michael Horrigan or Sullivan –
F. S. [Free by servitude]
Waverly (Irish) 13.8.41.
12 Months

Ref: QVM:1985:P:89
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, Tasmania.
Earlier accession numbering (at top of verso) shows the date 1958.

This police photograph was numbered “466” when inscribed verso, either by police for inclusion in the Hobart Gaol Photo Book and criminal rap sheet in 1882 on the prisoner’s incarceration, or by later archivists at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery on accession from the Beattie Collection for exhibition at various dates and venues between 1934 and 1983. This black and white copy was made at the QVMAG in 1985 from the sepia original for reasons best known only to the QVMAG.

The complainants, December 1881
Michael Lynch raided Alexander Denholm jnr’s dressing room on Christmas Eve 1881 to steal his fine clothes, gold watch and fob chain. Denholm appears to have been an easy target. He published warnings to trespassers in the press warning them he had laid poison at his property, Woodside, Forcett.

Andrew Denholm, warning to trespassers
Notice in Mercury, 2 Sept 1882

Alexander Denholm had interests in the importation of agricultural machinery. He was also the licensee of the White Hart Hotel at Bothwell by 1884.

Andrew Denholm
Agricultural equipment brought into Sorell
Notice in Mercury 20 January 1880.

Who was Robert Freeman, the other complainant with a case against Michael Horrigan/Lynch? He brought charges of indecent assault resulting in a 12 month sentence against Horrigan. Robert Freeman’s name was recorded in the Supreme Court Rough Calendar at Horrigan/Lynch’s trial on 7 March 1882 but nothing was published in the press which named him as the victim of Horrigan’s assault on December 24, 1881. He may have been a local Sorell lad, 21 years old, son of a labourer, who died in 1883 of a chronic abscess. If so, he would have been 19 years old at the time of Horrigan’s intent to commit a homosexual act. Such acts were deemed illegal and incarceration or even death were  the only outcomes for the offender.

Deaths in the district of Sorell 1883
20 May, 1883 – Robert Freeman, 21 yrs old, son of labourer, chronic abscess
Archives Office of Tasmania Names Index RGD35-1-52P189

The Act to consolidate and amend the Legislative Enactments relating to Offences against the Person. [31 July, 1863] was presumably the Act under which Michael Horrigan/Lynch was charged. It  stipulated severe punishments ranging from death, imprisonment for life, and  imprisonment for ten years, dependent on proof of complete penetration of the [male] person. It appears, therefore, that insufficient proof was mustered agains Michael Horrigan/Lynch at trial in the Supreme Court, Hobart, on 7 March 1882 to warrant a severe sentence for indecent assault. He got off with a light sentence of 12 months’ incarceration at the Hobart Gaol on the grounds of “intent”.

An Act To Consolidate And Amend The Legislative Enactments Relating To Offences Against The Person (27 Vic, No 5) 31 July, 1863

Unnatural Offences .

59 Whosoever shall be convicted of the abominable crime of Buggery, committed either with mankind or with any animal, shall suffer Death as a Felon.

Attempt to commit an infamous crime.
60 Whosoever shall attempt to commit the said abominable crime, or shall be guilty of any assault with intent to commit the same, shall be guilty of Felony, and being convicted thereof shall be liable to be imprisoned for Life.

Indecent assault upon a male person.
61 Whosoever shall be convicted of any indecent assault upon any male person shall be liable to be imprisoned for Ten years.

27° VICTORIlE. No 5. 43
Carnal knowledge defined.
62 Whenever, upon the trial of any offence punishable under Carnal knowledge of this Act, it may be necessary to prove carnal knowledge, it shall not be defined necessary to prove the actual emission of seed in order to constitute a carnal knowledge, but the carnal knowledge shall be deemed complete upon proof of penetration only.

READ the FULL ACT here {pdf}
An Act To Consolidate And Amend The Legislative Enactments Relating To Offences Against The Person (27 Vic, No 5) Austlii Database.

The revised NSW Crimes Act No. 40 of 1900, items 79-81, still maintained severe penalties for indecent assault on a male. Under this Act the offense committed by Michael Horrigan would have incurred a sentence of five years:

Indecent assault on male
81. Whosoever commits an indecent assault upon a male person of whatever age, with or without consent of such person, shall be liable to penal servitude for five years.

Act No. 40, 1900.
An Act to consolidate the Statutes relating to Criminal Law. [31st October, 1900.]

Horrigan’s assault on Robert Freeman might have escaped the notice of the press but the Hull-Calder contretemps certainly did not. It was reported with relish on Christmas Eve, Saturday, the 24th December 1881, by the Hobart Mercury and Launceston Examiner. They rose to the occasion with a thrilling account of the assault between two gentlemen of the highest standing in Hobart society: Hugh Munro Hull and James Eerskine Calder.


TASMANIA. (FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENTS.) HOBART, Dec. 23. At the Police Court, before Mr Tarleton, P.M., and Mr W. P. Green, J.P., Mr H. M. Hull charged Mr J. E. Calder with having unlawfully assaulted and beaten him on the 12th inst. Mr Calder pleaded not guilty, Mr Bromby appearing for him. Mr Hull deposed that on the day named, at about ten o’clock in the morning, he was proceeding to his office, when he was met by the defendant, who walked up hurriedly, and said, ” Are you the writer of the letter in the Launceston Examiner signed ‘Older Chum ?’ ” I retorted by asking him if he was the writer of the letter in the same paper reflecting upon me. Instead of replying to me he said, “I’ll teach you;  there, take that,” and dealt me a violent blow on the side of the head with his open right hand ; I felt stunned for a moment by the violence of the blow; when I recovered I did not return the blow, as I thought it unseemly for an old magistrate of five-and-twenty years’ standing to be seen fighting in the public street with a man twice his size; I told him I should summon him for assault, when he came towards me as if to repeat the blow, at the same time calling out something which I was too deafened by the blow I had received to hear distinctly; … etc etc

Read the rest of this story here:
CITY POLICE COURT. (1881, December 24). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), p. 3.

TASMANIA. (1881, December 24). Launceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 – 1899), p. 2.

Ten years ago ….
Almost to the day, 10 years previously – Wednesday 31st January 1872 – was a memorable day for Thomas J. Nevin when he photographed these two men among a group of visiting colonists and dignitaries during an excursion to Adventure Bay on board the steamer City of Hobart. His commission to cover the day’s events was initiated by townsman John Woodcock Graves (the younger).

One of several captures by T. Nevin of the VIP group relaxing on shore at Adventure Bay, 31st January 1872. The man laughing, sitting between the Hon. Alfred Kennerley (lower left) and Sir John O’Shanassy, is Hugh Munro Hull, Parliamentary librarian. He seems to have appreciated comments coming from Nevin at the point of capture, while Sir John O’Shanassy (with stick), reads on, oblivious. The figure running into the scene at centre is John Woodcock Graves (the younger), organiser of the excursion.

T. Nevin’s blindstamp impress is on the mount at centre. This stereo is badly water-damaged.
It is held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Ref: Q1994.56.24.
Photo taken at TMAG 10th November 2014
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2014 ARR

Visitors’ photographs on hand ready for sale
The Colonists’ Trip to Adventure Bay
Thomas Nevin’s advertisement, Mercury 2nd February 1872

This image was printed by Nevin from his negative both as a stereograph in a buff oval mount and as the carte-de-visite, the latter labelled verso with his most common commercial studio stamp. The figure of the Hon. James Erskine Calder is visible leaning into the frame on lower right. The proud owner of these photographs, Nevin’s teenage admirer and eldest daughter of John Woodcock Graves the younger – Jean Porthouse Graves – is indicated by an ink mark, and so is the man in the white summer hat who is leaning on top of a man-made stone structure, perhaps Lukin Boyes, son of artist and administrator G.T.W. Boyes. Surname and initial appearing to be “L Boyes” is written on verso.

Verso inscriptions include these identifiable figures at the “Picnic”:
Father = John Woodcock Graves jnr,
Sir John O’Shanassy = former Premier of Victoria,
Self = Jean Porthouse Graves, daughter of John W. Graves,
L. Boyes = Lukin Boyes (?), son of G.T. W. Boyes

From an album compiled by the families of John Woodcock Graves jnr and R. Byron Miller
Private Collection © KLW NFC Imprint 2015

Horrigan/Lynch: Supreme Court Record 1882

ROUGH CALENDAR (Supreme Court Hobart, 1882)

Michael Horrigan aka Harrigan and Sullivan, transported as Michael Lynch
Sentenced on 7th March 1882 to 12 months for indecent assault (homosexual act)
Supreme Court Rough Calendar Ref: GD70-1-1
Archives Office Tasmania


ROUGH CALENDAR [Supreme Court Hobart ]

Name and Age
Harrigan, Michael alias Sullivan alias Lynch
Age 68 – 65

Number and Ship
Waverley (1) (ticked)

Original Sentence
(double ticked)

Condition & Date
F.S [free in servitude]

N.G. [not guilty]

Before whom Tried
C. J. [Chief Justice]

What Committed for
For that the said Michael Horrigan as Sullivan as Lynch did at Belmont in the Municipality of Sorell in this colony of Tasmania on the 24 Day of December 1881, unlawfully assault one Robert Freeman with intent feloniously, wickedly, and against the order of nature to carnally know the Robert Freeman, and perpetrate the abominable crime of Buggery.

For that the said Michael Horrigan as Sullivan as Lynch did at Forcett in Tasmania 1881 feloniously break and enter the dwelling house of Alexander Denholm Jnr there situate and then and there did feloniously steal take and carry away 1 Dark Blue Albert Coat, 1 Black Paget coat, 1 pair Tweed Trousers, 2 Tweed Vests, 1 Gold Watch and 1 Gold Albert Guard of the goods and chattels of Albert Denholm Junior of Forcett aforesaid

What Indicted for

Result of Trial
Found Guilty of Indecent Assault

Sentence and Date
12 Months Imprisonment 7/3/82

Police Gazette Records

On the 6 September 1879, Michael Lynch was arrested as Michael Sullivan and sentenced at the Police Office Glenorchy to six months for larceny. See this conduct record listed under the name Michael LYNCH.$init=CON33-1-12P181

Details of the robbery at Andrew Denholm’s property with description of suspect:


BETWEEN 1 and 7 pm on the 24th instant the dwelling of Alexander Debnholm at Forcett was feloniously broken and entered, and the following propeerty stolen therefrom : – 1 blue fashionable coat; 1 black Paget coat, both nearly new; 1 pair light tweed trousers; 2 ditto vests; the property of Alexander Denholm, jun. 1 gold watch, No. 55738, W. H. Hill  & Sons makers; 1 gold twist Albert guard, with plain gold bar, value £20; the property of and identifiable by Robert Buchanan. A man of the following description is suspected: – 55 years of age, 5 feet 10 or 11 inches high, dark complexion, dark to grey hair inclined to curl, dark to grey whiskers, shaved on chin, medium build, supposed Irish, stated he was a cook; dressed in clean white mole trousers, straw hat, black pilot or saque coat; carried an untanned opossum-skin rug, a white bundle, and a red bundle. Supposed to have gone towards Clarence or Richmond.

Source: VOL. XX. FRIDAY, DECEMBER 30, 1881. No. 1171.
Tasmania Reports of Crime for Police Information Only, J. Barnard Govd’t printer.


Vide Crime Report,1881, page 205
Denholm’s robbery – Michael Horrigan, alias Sullivan, alias Lynch, has been arrested by Supt Anderson, of the Sorell Municicpal Police, and charged with the offence. None of the property has been recovered.

Source: VOL. XXI. FRIDAY, JANUARY 6, 1882. No. 1172.
Tasmania Reports of Crime for Police Information Only, J. Barnard Govd’t printer.

In March 1882 Michael Horrigan, proper name Lynch as Sullivan was 65 years old when arraigned for indecent assault and sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment at the Hobart Gaol.

Horrigan, Michael, proper name Lynch, as Sullivan , 65 years old, ship Waverley 1, F. S. Indecent assault 12 months. He was discharged on 5 February 1883.
See this record:$init=CON33-1-12P181


No. of Authority 117
Michael Harrigan [sic] per Waverly spent a month from 16 June 1884 to 10 July 1884 as a pauper at the Invalid Depot in Hobart.

Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime for Police, J. Barnard Govd’t printer


Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime for Police, J. Barnard Govd’t printer

Employed as a cook in Hobart, Michael Harrigan [sic] , native of  Ireland, 71 years old, 5 ft 10 inches tall, was convicted of larceny at New Norfolk (north of Hobart) on 4th February 1885. Because of his various aliases, his prior convictions probably eluded the police gazetteer and were not recorded. He died at the New Town Charitable Institute, Hobart, on 3 May 1894 and was buried as Michael Horrigan, cook, 83 years old. The Archives Office of Tasmania holds his death record at : –

Transportation Records

Details on this record show Michael Lynch was single, could read, his religion was Roman Catholic, and had one brother James living in London, and two sisters Johanna and May. Desertion and branding DD. The Archives Office of Tasmania holds this record at : –$init=CON14-1-9P33

Records show that Michael Lynch, born ca. 1816 at Cork, Ireland, had served 4 years with the 22nd Regiment when he deserted for nine days. He was court martialled at Dublin on 10 September 1840 and transported for fourteen years on the Waverley 1, departing Kingston, Ireland on 25 April 1841, arriving via Bahia after 140 days at sea, at Hobart on 12 September 1841 with 176 male convicts on board. He was sent to the Longford Probate Station, Tasmania, to serve 18 months with pastoralist Edward Archer.
See this appropriation record:

Physical description details on this record (many are illegible) include – :
Laborer, 5’9″, 23 years old, fresh complexion. oval head, black hair, no whiskers, medium height forehead, black eyebrows, brown eyes, long nose, medium mouth, medium chin, native place Cork. Remarks: Pockpelles [?] has been a soldier branded DD on left side Crown flag harp and crown bugle 22 Reg’t FR 7 stars half moon JHS? on ? right arm and hand 2 rings on fingers right hand cross Nil? Sun PW N? on left arm and hand. See this record:

Branded “DD” for desertion
Michael Lynch was branded DD, court martialled as a deserter from the 22nd Regiment. When another prisoner, James Brady was discharged in late January 1874 with the residue of his sentence remitted, the police gazette ( p. 16 January 1874) noted that that he was Free to the Colony (FC) and that he was tattooed with the letter “D” on his left breast: he was a military deserter, one of several prisoners bearing the deserter tattoo who were photographed by Thomas J. Nevin, including prisoner Denis Doherty, made famous by Anthony Trollope’s visit to the Port Arthur prison in 1872.

Mark of a Deserter (Army Medical Services Museum), in Chapter 3 of Hilton, P J 2010 ,
“Branded D on the left side” : a study of former soldiers and marines transported to Van Diemen’s Land: 1804-1854
PhD thesis, University of Tasmania:

Barnard, Simon Convict tattoos : marked men and women of Australia.
Melbourne, Vic. The Text Publishing Company, 2016.

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