As the citizens of Christchurch went about their business at the Land Office (which is now a part of the Canterbury Provincial Chambers), upstairs, in a very small room sat four of our founding fathers, squished in side by side behind a small table.
They were John Robert Godley (founder of Canterbury), Mark Stoddart (first European to explore Lake Coleridge and who also named Diamond Harbour), Captain Simeon (remembered in the naming of the suburb of Barrington and Simeon Street) and Edward Jerningham Wakefield (son of Edward Gibbon Wakefield, owner of The New Zealand Company) and they were to hear the very first session of court in Christchurch. It was the 15th May 1852.
The case was Dalton vs. Duffty (both employees of Riccarton Farm) for assault. As the court took a look at those involved, it was recorded down that George Dalton “…exhibited marks of desperate punishment…”
A drunken fistfight had broken out around 11pm a few days before in what seemed to be a power struggle. Samuel Duffty was found guilty of the assault of George Dalton. He was fined 50 shillings – 20 of these to go to George directly.
For a more in depth look at Christchurch’s first court case, please checks out the following link: http://www.peelingbackhistory.co.nz/first-court-case-held-in-christchurch-15th-may-1852/