O'Brien v. Brigstock

Original Correspondence. O'Brien v. Brigstock.

The Sydney Herald

2 June 1842


One of your numbers of April last, contains the proceedings and report of the Ecclesiastical Court of Enquiry which sat in St. James's Church, on the 13th of that month, to inquire into certain matters arising out of the libel case, "O'Brien v. Brigstock."

Mr. Hamilton Hume (one of the reverend gentlemen's friends, who alone were heard on the occasion, owing to the positive instructions to that effect, under which the Commissioners acted,) declared on oath, that Doctor Alleyne, of this place, had told him but a few days previously, that I had borrowed a horse from him for the purpose of hunting on the Sabbath.

The impression made on the minds of the Commissioners by that assertion was evident to all present, nor can it be doubted that it led in a great measure to the report afterwards made by those gentlemen to the Lord Bishop of Australia.

Doctor Alleyne was far in the interior at the time: I knew the charge to be utterly false, yet it passed and was received as truth by the Commissioners. I lost no time in writing to Doctor Alleyne on the subject. Circumstances pre vented his answering letter "till within the last few days."

His reply will reach you with this, to which and to Mr. Hamilton Hume's evidence, I request you will give insertion at your earliest convenience in your paper, that both may have equal publicity.

No doubt, Mr. Hamilton Hume will feel himself called on to explain the monstrous discrepancy and too apparent perversion of truth which exist between his evidence, and Doctor Alleyne's version of the conversation which had passed between them, - particularly as I am told that Mr. Hume admits having related a part only of that conversation to the Commission of' Enquiry.

I And I trust that your renders will pardon my troubling them with a subject already, no doubt, become tiresome to them, when they consider that they themselves may be made the subjects of the slanderer's pen, and afterwards find the attempt made to support that slander by the suppression of truth.

I remain, Gentlemen, Your obedient servant. C. O'brien. Yass, 24th May, 1842.


To C. O'Brien Esq., J. P. Yass Plains.

My Dear Sir.- In reply to your letter, I beg to state that Mr. Hume must have misunderstood me.

If from any conversation I had with him on the subject, he supposed I meant him to understand you borrowed a horse from me for the purpose of hunting on a Sunday, and invited me to join in your sport on that day.

The facts of the case are, as well as I recollect at present, as follows:- I was at your house in company with Lieutenant Christie and some others, when it was proposed to hunt the hounds on as early a day as was convenient to all parties present to meet for the purpose, and a day was fixed on, which afterwards proved to be Sunday, and a horse borrowed from me, either by yourself or Christie, for Christie's use, on the, day of the hunt.

At the time we appointed the day for the hunting, I believe that neither you nor any of the party present knew that it would be Sunday.

I sent the horse according to my promise, which was returned, with a message, "that as it was Sunday the hounds would not go out."

I remain, dear Sir, yours very truly, Haynes Gibbs Alleyne. Sydney, May 14th, 1842.


The following is the evidence referred to :- "Hamilton Hume: I reside at Yass; I lived there early in 1841; I know Mr. Cornelius O'Brien and Mr. Brigstock; it may be a quarter of a mile from my house to Mr. O'Brien's; on two occasions I have seen the Yass subscription hounds out on the sabbath day.

On the first occasion a man passed at the foot of Mr. O'Brien's paddock, trailing something which I believed to be a drag; the hounds passed that way soon after; to the best of my recollection, that was at the latter end of March; the hounds were at that time under Mr. O'Brien's care, and kept on his premises; the hounds were in full cry; it was between eight o'clock in the morning and two in the afternoon: if they went any distance, they would be out during divine service.

The second occasion was in April, 1841, about three o'clock in the afternoon; I first heard the cry of the hounds at the bottom of Mr. O'Brien's property; I did not see them off his property at all on that occasion; they were making the same noise as if they were after game; I did not see that any one was with them.

I did not see them on more occasions than two; I saw no drag on the second occasion; I know it was before the 15th of April; Mr. O'Brien was at Yass on both occasions, as I saw him on both the days.

If Mr. O'Brien had been at home on the second occasion, he must have seen the hounds, as they passed his house, and he must have heard the noise they made, as they were not more than a hundred yards from his house; at the time I believe the hounds were kept in the yard.

I was told by Dr. Alleyne last Thursday week, that months back Mr. C. O'Brien had applied to him for the loan of a horse, for the purpose of hunting on a Sunday; a horse was accordingly sent, but was in a short time returned, the party stating that it was not required.