A forlorn sandstone headstone, toppled and in poor condition in
St. Peter's Burial Ground, East Maitland, marks the last resting place
of legendary Police Magistrate Edward Denny Day, who was known
throughout the district for his courage, integrity and persistent
pursuit of justice.
Born in County Kerry, Ireland in 1801, he served in
the British army and was appointed Ensign on 22nd September 1826. He
served until 1834, attaining the rank of Lieutenant before leaving the
army for medical reasons.
He travelled to Australia where in 1836 he became a Police Magistrate
and married Margaret Raymond. The couple were to have eleven children
together. Margaret is buried in St. Peter's Burial Ground having died 21
months after her husband in 1878.
By mid September 1849 Edward Denny Day had been
Magistrate in the Hunter Valley at Invermein and Maitland for thirteen years and it was announced
that he was to succeed Captain Innes as Superintendent of the Sydney
By early October the family were ready to move and it
was announced that a sale would take place at 11am on 8th October at
Government Cottage East Maitland. To be sold on the day was a quantity of
'splendid and useful household furniture' as well as a first rate second
hand Stanhope gig, a superior second hand set of gig Harness in good
style, a splendid cob, a first rate and handsome pony in foal, two
superior cows very docile, two excellent carts, one good water cart etc.
Mr. Ledsam the auctioneer was instructed to sell without the least
reserve as Mr. Day was on the eve of his departure for Sydney. Later a
Whirligig and toy horse were added to the list.
Most residents considered Day's conduct on the bench had been marked by a strong desire to administer the law uprightly,
impartially and strictly. Many thought his vigilance and energy in the
management of the police has afforded general security and his zeal and
ability in the discharge of his functions had kept the district in a
well ordered state.
Shortly after the announcement a number of residents
resolved to commence a public subscription to present Mr. Day with a
testimonial of respect and esteem for the 'intrepid exertions and
meritorious conduct and other services' he had rendered to Maitland and
the district. A well attended meeting was held in the court house on the
4th October 1849. The
Rev. Dean Lynch moved the first resolution
at the meeting after a short speech in which he reminded those present
that Mr. Day had devoted his time and intelligence and risked a life
valuable to his family in the performance of his duty and for the good
of the community. Those in Maitland who had enjoyed the happiness of
living in peace and quiet did right to come forward and acknowledge they
owed these blessings in great measure to the energy and vigilance of Mr.
Day. Rev. Lynch wished to thank not only Mr. Day but Mrs. Day for their
work at the
seconded the Rev. Lynch's resolution stating that he did so with mingled
feeling of regret and pleasure; of regret for the loss of Mr. Day and of
pleasure in meeting others assembled there to do him honor. He had known
Mr. Day for thirteen years and had always known him a disinterested,
upright, magistrate. In the Courthouse Mr. Lipscomb could bear testimony
to Mr. Day's impartiality and integrity on the bench. In political
matters he felt that Mr. Day had never allowed himself to be mixed up
with any party.
Mr. C. M. Doyle moved the second resolution stating
that he regretted the loss of Mr. Day to the community. He felt the
government had made a wise selection in nominating Mr. Day to fill a
higher situation; it gave him great pleasure to hear of the appointment
but greater pleasure to bear testimony to Mr. Day's long services, which
rendered him worthy of being called the greatest friend Maitland ever
Bank Manager Mr. Saunders made the third resolution
stating that he could testify to Mr. Day's courtesy both in his public
and private character. He thought the people did well to make the
testimonial although they were not so rich as they were in years past
due to the depression or the fund would have been much greater.
Mr. Peter Green felt the district had lost services
of the greatest importance to it for there was not a more upright, just
and impartial magistrate than Mr. Day. 'It must be obvious to all, and
particularly to those who had lived sufficiently long in the district to
be aware of its former state, that they were greatly indebted to Mr. Day
for his vigilant performance of his duty.' It was well known that Mr.
Day had not hesitated to risk his life in the course of duty.
The gentlemen appointed by the last resolution as a deputation proceeded
to Government Cottage to the residence of Mr. Day and read the
resolutions which had been passed and presented Mr. Day with a purse
containing the sum raised as a testimonial.
Subscriptions amounting to 130 sovereigns had been
raised and it was proposed that Mr. Day could
purchase a piece of plate to suit his own taste
and convenience. It was to be inscribed "Presented
by the inhabitants of the district of Maitland,
New South Wales, and its vicinity, to E. D. Day,
Esq., who for upwards of twelve years held the appointment of Police
Magistrate of that district, gaining the respect and admiration of all
classes of the community".
Over 100 residents of the district
subscribed for the
testimonial to Mr. Day. Mr. Day evidently under feelings of strong emotion briefly
'There could be no higher gratification to a
public officer than the approbation of the people amidst whom he had
performed his duty. The most simple expression of this approbation,
coming from the people would have been sufficient for him; and indeed he
considered himself most happy in having for so many years lived among
those who had on several occasions testified their approbation of his
conduct. But the people of Maitland had done more, they had given him a
proof of esteem which his children would inherit and hold as a
inducement for their future guidance. He need not say with what regret
he left them; nothing indeed would have induced him to have removed but
that there was an uncertainty whether the office he had so long filled
would be continued. He felt deeply grateful this additional proof of the
partiality with which they had regarded his services more so than he
could find words to express, and he again begged to thank them, one and
all, and through them the subscribers.
The following day Mr. Day and his family boarded the
steamer for Sydney. A good muster of inhabitants of Maitland on
horseback and in gigs, proceeded to Morpeth, and three hearty cheers
were given as the party went on board,
Captain Pattison replying by
discharges from his cannon.
Edward Denny Day's heroic exertions in the Valley
included his dogged pursuit of the perpetrators of the Myall Creek
1838 and the Capture of the
Jew boy Gang.
He was fearless and uncompromising in his pursuit of outlaws. Even on
the eve of his departure from the district, he immediately organised and
took part in the pursuit of two bushrangers
Davidson and Smith who had
made a daring escape from the new
Twenty-five years later Day was
approaching the end of his life but his deeds and achievements lived on.
Edward Close (jun.,) wrote to the Maitland Mercury recalling the
old Police Magistrates pursuit of justice and suggesting a medal be
struck in his honour. -
Late Than Never -
To the Editor of
the Maitland Mercury.-
Sir-Seeing in the Sydney Morning Herald of
2nd inst that there has been an issue of several
gold and silver medals in recognition of acts of bravery
displayed by the recipients in conflict with bushrangers
during the years 1863, 1864, and 1866 I think it but just to
state that in the opinion of many this reward should still be
retrospective, even to a date as far back as 1840, for there
is a man now living among us whose claims for reward are far
greater than any of those to whom medals have been awarded . I
allude to our old, valued and respected -P M, Mr E D Day, to
whom, and those who served with him at Doughboy Hollow, on the
21stDec, 1840, the credit was due of ridding this district of
one of the strongest and most determined gangs of bushrangers
ever known in this colony. What Mr Day did was done entirely
from sense of duty, and leaving his own district, he followed
the Jew Boy's gang into that of another P
M, and captured there and then five out of eight desperados,
and afterwards brought the whole gang to that
punishment due to murder and rapine For many years after
little was heard of bushranging. The Sydney Morning Herald of
31st December, 1840, referring to this matter and quoting a
‘Fortunate indeed are we to possess one
magistrate on the Hunter, who has judgment to guide him, and
courage to act in time of need ‘I am aware that justice is
often tardy in such cases as this, as I know to be the fact in
the issue of medals to the officers and soldiers of the
Peninsular war, but when they came, though after a lapse of
about thirty years, they were nevertheless appreciated and
worn with pride and honour by the recipients. And I have no
doubt, the old and tried friend of this district, that even
though he may obtain but may never wear his medal, he would
feel proud to hand it to his children and say. This I have
long since bravely earned It was given me by Her Majesty's
Government here, that I have so long and faithfully served. I
feel satisfied there are few men in this district who would
not rejoice to see Mr Day and those who served with him on the
occasion above referred to reap the reward due to their pluck,
and I trust the Government, thus reminded, will take the
matter into consideration, 9th Dec, 1875.
Edward Denny Day died in Maitland in May
Read his obituary here
List of Subscribers
The Bishop of Newcastle, Morpeth; E.C. Close Esq.,
Mrs. Jane Sheberas; E.C. Close Esq., junior; The Rev. Mr.
Chambers, Maitland; Jones A. Smith, Paterson; William
Innes, Esq, Maitland; Dr.
McCartney, Maitland; Dr. Scott, Williams River; Bourn
Russell, Maitland; Isaac Gorrick, Maitland; John Kingsmill,
Maitland; Mr. Fleming, Maitland; Mr. H.
Grouch, Maitland; Captain Pattison, Morpeth; Mr. E.P.
Capper, Maitland; Mr. Nicholas Dalton, Maitland; The Under
Sheriff, Sydney; Mr. Christopher Cooper, Maitland; Mr. C.S.
Pitt; Mr. Richard Stark; Mr. John
Nott; Mr. George Wood; William
Todhunter; The Rev. Dean Lynch; Beresford
Hudson, Newcastle; Dr. Wilton, Maitland; The Rev. Mr.
Spencer, Raymond Terrace; Mr. Taylor, Morpeth; F.W. Davies,
Maitland; Andrew Lang, Paterson; Mr.
Tristram, Maitland; Mr. Thomas Skinner, Morpeth; Messrs,
Peek & Calvert, Maitland; C.M. Doyle, Midlorn; W.A.
Purefoy, Sydney; Thomas Ward, Maitland; J.M.
Saunders, Maitland; Mr. J. Christian, Hinton; Alexander
Warren, Brandon; Alexander
Dodds, Maitland; Mr. James Thomson, Maitland; Mr. W.
Christian, Hinton; Captain
Maughan, Maitland; Mr. E.J. Daly, Maitland; Mr. J.
Brown, Maitland; Rev. Mr.
McIntyre, Maitland; W.M. Lewis, Maitland; Messrs. Ogg
and co. Maitland; Mr. James
Solomon, Maitland; Mr. Richard Jones, Maitland; Mr. John
Mayo, Maitland; Mr. J.
Borthwick, Maitland; Mr. Charles Whitaker, Maitland; Mr.
Adams, Maitland; Mr. Wright, Maitland; Mr. Wilkinson,
Maitland; Mr. T.
Thomas, Maitland; Mr. McDonald, Maitland; Mr. Brackenreg,
Maitland; Mr. T.B.
Rosseter, Maitland; Mr. John Callaghan, Maitland; Mr. Henry
Reeves, Maitland; Mr. John Stone, Maitland; Mr. Griffin,
Morpeth; Mr. J. Beckett, Maitland; Mr. B.
Nelson, Maitland; Rev. R. Chapman, Maitland; Rev. Mr.
Purves, Maitland; Rev. S.
Wilkinson, Maitland; Messrs, D. Cohen & Co. , Maitland;
Mr. George Turner, Yarrabong; Mr. F.M. Doyle, Midlorn; Mr.
Nainby, Richmond Vale; Mr. Charles Prentice, Maitland; Mr.
William Irving, Maitland; Mr. Neil McNeil, Maitland; Mr.
Doidge, Paterson; Mr. John Eckford, Maitland; Mr. Nathan
Joseph, Maitland; Mr. T. Honeysett, Lochinvar; Mr. Jacob
Gorrick, Rutherford; Mr.
Moorehouse, Swamps; Mr. Samuel Bailey, Maitland; Mr.
George Yeomans; John Crowder, Lochinvar; Mr. Otto
Baldwin, Maitland; Mr. C.V. Earle,
Maitland; Mr. Peter Green, Maitland; Mr. Poulton,
Maitland; Mr. A.
McManus, Maitland; Mr. E. Franks, Black Creek; Mr. F.
Williams, Black Creek; Mr. T.B.
Cox, Black Creek; Mr. T. Raisbeck, Black Creek; Mr.
William Lipscombe, Maitland; Mr. John Stewart, Maitland;
Messrs D & J
Dickson, Maitland; Mr. Cathrow, Maitland; Mr. John
Dickson, Maitland; Dr. Liddell, Maitland; Mr. Jeremiah
Ledsam, Maitland; Mr. W.F. Mitchell, Maitland; Mr. Sloan
Hyde, Maitland; Mr. John Portus, Morpeth; Rev. Mr.
Bolton, Hexham; Rev. Mr. Rusden, Maitland; James Bogle,
Winder, Luskintyre; Mr. Goldingham, Maitland; Lawrence
Potts, Maitland; Mr. Samuel Clift, Maitland; Mr. J.