Juggler Murder 1861

Harp of Erin Inn

Indian Jugglers were performing at ‘The Harp of Erin Inn’ located in Macquoid Street, Queanbeyan, when one of their juggling team went missing in November 1861. 1

The missing Indian Juggler was about 40 years old and it was believed that he had been “murdered … shortly after giving a juggling performance”. 2

A body was found at White’s Saw-pit Gully, on 14 January, 1863 although it was never identified it was presumed to be the missing Juggler. 3

Not the Juggler’s bones

Even though the Queanbeyan Riverside Cemetery was used for burials from 1846 it was consecrated ground and so called “heathens” were not accepted for burial, and as the murdered Juggler was presumed to be an “unfortunate heathen” his burial place is thought to have been in the paddock next to the first Emsall Inn,  on 8 April 1863) as “no other spot could be described” [as the] “Queanbeyan Old Burial Ground“.4

On 21 April 1991 a report which caused some consternation in Queanbeyan that a skeleton had been unearthed by a back-how operator digging a storm-water trench in the drive way of 9 Florence Street, Oaks Estate, 5 might be the missing juggler.

The discovery of the skeleton was also claimed as proof that the Florence Street area was indeed the Old Oaks Burial Ground, especially when an “anthropologist from the Australian National University confirmed the bones to be 150 years old”. 6

Take away 150 years from 1991 puts the date of the skeletons burial as c1841, which is 22 years earlier than the Juggler death, but still during the time of the operation of the first Emsall Inn before it’s license was transferred and it moved to new premises in Trinculo Place, Queanbeyan in 1842. 7

Whilst the body could prove to be the location of the ‘Oaks Burial Ground’ the body could also have been buried separately and have nothing to do with the Old Oaks Burial Ground because during that period death found a ready home in a hole anywhere that was convenient and we may never know for sure if this spot was the exact location of the Oaks Burial Ground but it was certainly somewhere close to it.8


In the five years between 1841 and 1846 Queanbeyan experience a growth rate of 188.9% from 72 people to 208 showing that then and now Queanbeyan was and is one of the fastest growing towns in NSW. 9

Queanbeyan’s opposition to transportation was led by Charles Campbell, of Duntroon at meetings held in Queanbeyan in 1847 and 1850 yet even during this period  the town increased from 208 to 372 10 and although less convicts were transported an increase in migration, like the Jugglers, more than made up the difference.

During the same period Joseph Jones leased The Dog and Stile Inn in Macquoid Street from Thomas Booth, who travelled to England in 1847. 11

In 1849-50 Jones, a member of the Oddfellows Lodge, built The Harp of Erin Inn, commonly know as The Harp, next door to The Dog & Stile on the corner of Trinculo Place and it was there that Charles Campbell organised the Queanbeyan 1850 anti transportation meeting. 12

People’s palace

To understand why the Harp was the most popular Inn in Macquoid Street during the 1850s, 13 until the new Courthouse and Oddfellows Hall were built in the early 1860s it is necessary to look at the Harp’s design. 14

For obvious reasons The Harp’s main room was called the “long room” as it stretched 56 feet in length on the Macquoid Street frontage. 15

Along the long room’s 56 feet length six French windows (double doors) opened onto Macquoid Street and inside the long room six doors opened into six guest rooms. 16

The long room was ideal for entertainment and social gatherings because of its large size but could also be used for smaller meetings as there were three tall thick cedar folding doors that could be used to subdivided the long room into three smaller meeting rooms. 17

Ye Old Kent House

The competition expected from William Hunt’s new building Ye Old Kent House 1849-50, on the opposite corner (now known over time as the Kent Hotel alias The Union Club Hotel) didn’t eventuate as Hunt failed to get a license so the Harp stayed the popular social watering hole and Hunt’s became the temporary Courthouse during the 1850s. 18

The Harp’s bar was operated from a small room separate from the long room. 19

In the 1850s The Harp became the home for the Oddfellows Lodge but was not immune from politics and sport as the first Queanbeyan Race meeting was organised there and William Forster gave speeches at The Harp, which returned him as the first member of Parliament under responsible government. 20

Entertainment and instructional classes at The Harp included Madame & Herr Glogoski’s Dancing School and Quadrille Assembly and a performance by Madame Hartwell’s Negro Minstrells. 21

Moran’s Coach

It was not the Cobb and Co. Coach line that operated from The Harp but James O’Neill and Thomas Moran formed a partnership that operated a coach from The Harp to the Lanyon property – the 12 shillings return fare seems excessive for those times. 22

The coaches left for Lanyon at 3pm and departed on the return trip at 7am the next day suggesting that people or school children travelled from Lanyon to Queanbeyan and returned home in the afternoon or perhaps goods and mail were delivered to and from Lanyon. 23

Joseph Jones held the license for three years and then transferred it to John Breen – when Breen died in 1856 his wife continued until she surrendered the license in 1865. 24

Samuel Walker, grandfather of the famous Queanbeyan Public School teacher May Walker came to Queanbeyan in 1861 to open his Braidwood Store. 25

In August 1866 Walker moved his Braidwood Store to The Harp and ran a store there until 1879 but the Walker family descendant’s had Harp connections, in some form or other until the Harp was demolished c1969. 26


Footnotes / Resources

1. (i) Connee-Colleen © “Queanbeyan Outlook (156), Harp Chords, The Queanbeyan Age, September 5, 2008, p. 26.  (ii) Queanbeyan Pioneer Cemeteries. Queanbeyan City Council, 1986, I, 7.
2. Queanbeyan Pioneer Cemeteries, I, p.7.
3. Ibid p. 7
4. Ibid p. 4
5. Australian Cemeteries (website) <http://www.australiancemeteries.com/act/theoaks.htm> The information on the old Oaks Burial ground was contributed by Barry Stephenson, Nov 3, 2005, total records = 44. Barry Stephenson has also contributed names from the Riverside Cemetery, and other local cemeteries (over 3,000) and they are all on line at the above Australia Cemeteries website. He lists his email on the Australian Cemeteries site barry.stephenson@homemail.com.au
6. Ibid.http://www.australiancemeteries.com/act/theoaks.htm
7. Cross. Rex L, Bygone Queanbeyan – Revised edition, 1985, p. 31
8. Queanbeyan Pioneer Cemeteries, I, p. 4.
9. (i) Lea-Scarlett, Errol. Queanbeyan District & People. Queanbeyan Municipal Council, 1968, p. 36. (ii) Queanbeyan Information Centre.
10. Lea-Scarlett. p. 36.
13. Cross, p. 58.
14. Lea-Scarlett, pp. 120-121.
15. Ibid p. 120
16. Ibid.
17. Ibid p. 121
18. Cross, p. 58.
19. Lea-Scarlett, pp. 120.
20. Cross, p. 58.
21. Ibid.
23. Ibid.
24. Ibid.
25. Cross, p.58, 264-285.
26. Ibid.


All content on “Before Canberra” Copyright © Connee-Colleen unless otherwise noted; Apologies extended if inadvertently a copyright has not been acknowledged please inform me so this can be rectified.

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