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Early Wellington

Protection from the Police

Protection from the Police.

On Monday, 21st March. 1841, a public meeting was held at Barrett's Hotel, in order to take steps necessary to protect the public from the outrages of the Police establishment. Mr. Earp was in the chair, and Messrs. Wade, Waitt, G. F. Moore and Rhodes spoke at the meeting.

Complaints had been made of the use of pistols and handcuffs, and ruffianly dragging to the lock-up, on unfounded charges, by the police constables.

About this time four gentlemen were appointed Magistrates of the Territory. These were Colonel Wakefield, Mr. Geo. Hunter, Mr. Henry St. Hill and Captain Edward Daniell. The three gentlemen who had composed the deputation to Sir George Gipps had been placed in the commission of the peace some time before. The aggrieved parties had determined on requesting Dr. Evans and Mr. Hanson (Mr. Moreing being absent) to take their places on the Bench of Magistrates. Dr. Evans had acceded to the request, notwithstanding the petulant display of temper made by Mr. Murphy on the occasion of his first acting page 82 upon this resolution. The hitherto unrestrained potentate declared, in the Police Court, that he would not sit on the Bench while Dr. Evans did, except in cases which, by law, required the presence of two magistrates.

In connection with this affair a report appeared in the “New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator” of the 3rd May, 1841:—

“Dr. Evans took his seat in the bench on Wednesday last, when the following conversation, we understand, took place between the learned doctor and Mr. Murphy.

“‘Is it your intention to sit here in your Magisterial capacity?’

“Dr. Evans: ‘Such is my intention.’

“Mr. Murphy: ‘Then, sir, in consequence of the proceedings of a public meeting and a letter used in the paper last week, I shall be compelled to leave my seat.’

“Dr. Evans: ‘You can do as you please, sir. It is my intention to sit here for the purpose of administering to the best of my ability, justice to the people.’

“Mr. Murphy then made the remarks quoted above.”