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Broughton, Edward (c. 1803–1831)

Edward Broughton (c.1803-1831), a labourer, was found guilty in 1824 at Sussex of housebreaking. Sentenced to 14 years transportation he arrived at Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) in August 1826. In April 1827 he was found guilty of stealing a blanket from a man at Sandy Bay and was sentenced to seven years transportation to Macquarie Harbour penal settlement.

With four other men Broughton escaped on 3 September 1830. Once their provisions were exhausted, the men resorted to killing, and eating, each other. Only two — Broughton and Matthew McAlboy (referred to as MacAvoy)— survived. They surrendered to authorities and were executed. Broughton's sensational account of the men's cannibalistic acts were published in the local newspapers. He was described as being 5 feet 4 inches tall, with dark brown hair, brown eyes, and had a deep dimple on his chin.

Broughton and McAlboy were tried and executed for being illegally at large while under sentence of transportation; they claimed that their three dead companions had been killed by natives. The court did not quite believe their story with the Hobart Town Courier reporting on 9 July 1831 that 'his Honour in passing sentence exhorted them to repentance, if their consciences were burthened with the crime of murder, which there was much reason to fear was the case, with reference to their unfortunate companion, Patrick McKane, William Taylor and William Jones [ie. Patrick McKean, William Coventry and Richard Hutchinson]'.

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Citation details

'Broughton, Edward (c. 1803–1831)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/broughton-edward-31469/text38924, accessed 28 July 2021.

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