A SAILOR OR LARRIKIN?
A Runaway Boy from the
Captain Panter, Another Naval
Officer, a Crown Law Clerk,
two Policemen the
Reporters, &ct., in
The Boy, Nevertheless Escapes
The monotony of the Banco Court was relieved this morning by a strange proceeding. Mr. Duigan moved for a writ to discharge a boy named Hayes, under twelve years of age, from his service on board the Cerberus. The boy's mother made the application, and attended in court. Mr. Billing, on behalf of the Crown opposed the motion. The boy attended court in his sailor's clothes, under custody of a naval officer, and the case was of so much interest that Captain Panter attended likewise, with Mr. Gurner, the Crown solicitor. Young Hayes had been on board the reformatory ship (Nelson). Towards the close of last year they got him to take an oath of allegiance to Queen Victoria, and enter the naval service for five years at a sixpence a day for the first year, 1s for the second, and so on up to 2s 6d for the fifth. Mr. Duigan contended that the oath could not be imposed upon a boy of such tender years. He characterised the Cerberus as an iron pot of war. The court refused the application, and the boy was taken away crying. Outside the court, and at the instigation of his mother he made a bolt for it, followed hard by the naval officer, in whose charge he had been. That party's progress was stopped by the mother, who saluted him with a volley of bluestone, and then engaged in a terrific hand to hand combat. Captain Panter, a Crown law clerk, two constables, and the members of the Press then came flying down to the spot, and the mother was given in charge. After a council of war, it was decided not to pursue the boy further, he having vanished in the dust cloud of Rathdowne street. Led by Captain Panter, the whole posse returned discomfited. Constables are now scouring Carlton in search of the runaway.
The Herald, 2 May 1873
On 30 June 1873 the Cerberus log recorded that at 8.00 am the boy Hayes was taken to the Supreme Court. The log also recorded that Hayes was taken to (the reform ship) Nelson at 5.00 pm.
On 2 July 1873 The Herald reported that earlier that day "Their Honours held that there was nothing before them to show that the boy had been enveigled into the service, but on the contrary there was testimony that he had had three months trial, during which time he was fully instructed in the nature and responsibilities of an oath, the contract should be upheld. The boy was, therefore, ordered to be retained on board the Cerberus."
On 3 July 1873 The Herald editorial argued that the treatment of John Hayes amounted to little more than kidnapping.
On 7 July 1873 the Cerberus log recorded that the boy Hayes was caught telling lies and taken to Nelson.
Name. John HAYES
Date of Birth: About 1861
Place of Birth: Geelong, Victoria
Police Gazettes and newspapers refer to the ‘boy’ John HAYES ‘serving’ with the Victorian Navy on the ‘Cerberus’ and ‘Nelson’ circa 1873. He is not listed in the related muster etc records. This must be in view of his age and type of service, ie, a ‘boy’ and perhaps not paid.
Mother Ellen Elizabeth WALKERTON (previously HAYES) was charged with assaulting Gunner James POUNDS from ‘Cerberus’ 11th April 1873 in connection with the legal proceedings against her son John HAYES who was aged about 11 years and had allegedly left the Victorian Navy unlawfully.
Searched in National Archives of Australia Series B1115, B5520, 5522, 5523, 5524, 5531, 5532, 5534, 5494, 5495, 5519, 5492 and 5493 plus Naval Brigade records circa World War One and Police Gazettes.
The subject cannot be conclusively identified and appears to be the same man who has repeated offences using the name Bawley HAYES. For instance with a Half Caste named Thomas HAMMOND he was charged with vagrancy in 1880. Other possible names are James HAYES AKA James TIPPO who was arrested in Russell Street in January 1880 for insulting a police officer. He had also been imprisoned in 1876 for larceny.
The subject is described as having dark hair eyes and complexion.
The subject’s mother can be traced and although the name WALKERTON appears in police records there is no match in other civil records. She is likely Ellen MEYERS of Geelong who married James HAYES who was father of John.
Research by Neil Smith courtesy of Frank Noonan.