An Irresistible Temptation: The true story of Jane New and a colonial scandal

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Allen & Unwin, 2006 - Biography & Autobiography - 432 pages
Carol Baxter has written a work that captures the reader This is largely because of her skill as a narrative historian, her capacity to tell a good story.' - Gregory Melleuish, Australian Literary Review

In 1829 at the Supreme Court in Sydney, the bewitching Jane New was sentenced to death. Her crime: shoplifting a bolt of printed French silk. But was she guilty? Many had their doubts.

Although a legal technicality soon quashed Jane's sentence, the autocratic Governor Ralph Darling refused to set her free. Like bees to the honey pot, the gentlemen of Sydney swarmed to Jane's defence including barrister and political agitator William Charles Wentworth and Supreme Court Registrar John Stephen Jr, who were both vigorous and manipulative in their appeals to set her free.

An Irresistible Temptation is set against the backdrop of a particularly divisive period in colonial New South Wales. Not only did the scandal titillate Sydney and its legal and political ramifications push the colony to the brink of a constitutional crisis, but it contributed to the savagery of Governor Darling's public vilification and bestowed upon Jane New a place in the annals of Australian colonial history.

Compelling and fast-paced, An Irresistible Temptation is a meticulously researched history that takes us from the court docks of industrialising England, to Tasmania's raw penal settlement, the rough-house world of Sydney's Rocks and eventually back to the rarefied atmosphere of Britain' House of Commons.

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An Irresistible Temptation

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An Irresistible Temptation is the true story of Jane New: colonial temptress and habitual shoplifter. New created a scandal in Australia in the early 19th century when several of Sydney's prominent ... Read full review

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Page 26 - FROM distant climes, o'er wide-spread seas we come, Though not with much eclat, or beat of drum ; True patriots all, for, be it understood, We left our country for our country's good : No private views disgraced our generous zeal, What urged our travels was our country's weal : And none will doubt but that our emigration Has proved most useful to the British nation.
Page 177 - Oh, what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive!
Page 23 - ... supply all demands of this nature ; and if the histories of every house were made public, you would shudder. Even in our small menage, our cook has committed murder, our footman burglary, and the housemaid bigamy ! But these formidable truths are hushed up, or tried to be so.
Page 12 - I sentence you,' says the judge, 'but to what I know not — perhaps to storm and shipwreck, perhaps to infectious disorders, perhaps to famine, perhaps to be massacred by savages, perhaps to be devoured by wild beasts. Away, take your chance, perish or prosper, suffer or enjoy; I rid myself of the sight of you; the ship that bears you away saves me from witnessing your sufferings; I shall give myself no more trouble about you.
Page 81 - Hart-Davies) to exercise and use divers kinds of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment, and conjuration, against the form of the statute in such case made and provided, against the peace of our said lady the Queen, her Crown and Dignity.
Page 18 - To see twenty wicked fingers beckoning to him, and twenty wicked eyes winking at him, at one and the same time, no wonder his virtue should sometimes experience a fall ! A very ingenious plan, however, (persevered in from the commencement of the interdictory system until reported to the navy board,) afforded free scope to these amorous flirtations. The swains first gained over the Arguses in charge of the hospital ; forced up the piece of board nailed over the coal-hatch...
Page 69 - Forbes thought his narrow-minded zealot of a governor had "less knowledge of the laws of his country than any gentleman filling his high official station whom it was ever my fortune to meet.
Page 79 - in a high state of neurotic excitement and such an habitual sot that it would have been a violation of all public decency to have suffered him to take his seat on the Bench.
Page 17 - ... in all infant colonies, its growing prosperity in great measure, depends. Let it be remembered too, how much misery and vice are likely to prevail in a society in which the women bear no proportion to the men...
Page 13 - ... or by the said Birmingham and Sheffield Companies, or by the said Wardens or Assayer or Assayers, or any or either of them, every such Person offending in any such or either of the Cases aforesaid, being thereof lawfully convicted, shall be adjudged guilty of Felony, and shall be transported to such Parts beyond the Seas as His Majesty, with the Advice of His Privy Council, shall direct, for the Space of Seven Years...

About the author (2006)

Carol Baxter is a Fellow of the Society of Australian Genealogists and one of country's leading genealogical researchers. She has published widely in the area of Australian colonial history.

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