|John Smith jnr’s diary entry of 31 October 1851:
Received the melancholy news of the death of my brother James who I believe died on Tuesday, the 28th instant leaving a wife and nine children. What will they do I am at a loss to tell as I am aware their means of support is very limited.
Newspaper report of 1 November 1851:
An inquest was held on Tuesday last, the 28th inst., at the Bell and Crown tavern, kept by Mr. John Bootle, Western Road, halfway between Parramatta and Penrith, before Mr. C. B. Lyons, Coroner, on view of the body of the late Mr. James Smith, aged 55 years, then and there lying dead.
Lorraine Stacker writes:
Catherine Charlotte Dick, having been sworn, stated — I am the daughter of Mrs. Ellard, wife of Mr. Ellard, music-seller, of Sydney; I am on a visit to Mrs. Smith, of Eastern Creek, about two miles from this house; I came here on Sunday morning last, the 26th instant, to see Mrs. Bootle, who is Mr. Smith’s daughter; yesterday morning (Monday), as I came in at the back door of this house, I learnt that on Sunday morning there had been a quarrel between Mr. and Mrs. Bootle; Mrs. B. went to her father’s (the deceased’s) residence, about nine o’clock at night; the servant-maid went with her; she returned accompanied by the deceased between eleven and twelve yesterday morning; Mr. Bootle was at home when she came; she said,
I am come for some clothes, then went to her bedroom to get them, but her husband said she should not have them, and endeavoured to prevent her taking any, but she obtained possession of a small box, which she handed to her father; I left the room but returned, and on coming in saw the deceased strike Mr. Bootle with the handle of a riding whip, which had a bone knot on it. Mr. B. then struck Mr. Smith with an iron bar. I did not see him strike any one else but deceased, who had his hat on. Mr. Smith struck Mr. Bootle first. I ran out of the room; Bootle and Mr. Smith quarrelled; Bootle said his wife should not go; this occurred a few minutes before the blow was struck. I left again and went to Mrs. Smith’s, and returned with her very soon, and saw Mr. S. on the bed; he said something to Mrs. Smith; I heard him say afterwards,
do not send for the doctor.
Catherine Howard, a servant of Mr. Bootle’s, and Eleanor Smith, a daughter of the deceased, were called; but were so unwilling to give evidence that nothing material could be elicited from them, except the facts from Miss Smith that Dr. Rutter was sent for, and that her father died before daylight the following morning.
Dr. Rutter deposed that when he arrived he found Mr. Smith lying on his back, perfectly insensible, with a contused and lacerated wound on the upper part of the right side of the head; he lingered till three o’clock the following morning, when he expired. He made a post mortem examination, and found a wound on the superior point of the parietal bone, with a slight fracture corresponding to that wound, and depression of the lower portion of the same bone, together with effusion on the brain, which injuries were the cause of death; the iron bar on the table would cause such a wound with the flat part of it.
Here Miss Eleanor Smith expressed a wish to give further evidence, to which the coroner assented. She stated that her sister and Mr. Bootle had quarrelled; she saw the iron bar in Mr. Bootle’s hand; when Mr. and Mrs. Bootle were wrangling in the taproom, her father and Mr. B. were together there; Mrs. B. was behind the counter; she (the witness) was in the passage; it was about five minutes after that she saw the iron bar in Mr. Bootle’s hand; then it was that she saw her father’s head cut; she also saw the bone knob on the whip when her father had it in his hand; she (witness) went to her father’s bedside, when he said his head was giddy, and it was time to go home.
This closed the evidence, and the coroner explained the law, as laid down in
Sewell’s Law of Coroners.
The jury, after some consideration, returned a verdict of manslaughter against John Bootle, who was committed to take his trial.
James Smith as well as farming with his father, brothers and brother-in-law James Elder at Toongabbie, Baulkham Hills and Eastern Creek supplememented his livliehood working on various government farms, the earliest being Castle Hill Government farm. By the time he married Ann Maria Bowman on 12 July 1826 at Scots Church in Sydney he had been superintendent at Grose Farm and Longbottom Agricultural Station for two years. James’s first three children were born at Grose Farm. He took over Emu Plains Agricultural Station temporarily in September 1829 and was promoted to Superintendent at Emu Plains and Superintendent of Government Stock in August 1831. He probably never took his family to Emu Plains as he already owned
Smithfield Eastern Creek farm. He left Emu Plains when it closed in August 1832. James was an enthusiastic civil servant who worked to achieve his best but his numerous ideas and schemes were never fully accepted by his superiors. He was the last Superintendent at Emu Plains who oversaw the closure of the convict establishment. He worked at various farms at Bathurst and Smithfield while retaining his Eastern Creek estate. [
Chained to the Soil on the Plains of Emu]