Dictionary of Sydney

The Dictionary of Sydney was archived in 2021.

Samuels, Joseph

Convict sentenced to transportation at the age of 14 for theft in London in 1795. In 1803 he robbed the house of Mary Breeze on Back Row (modern day Phillip Street) in collusion with others and the investigating police officer Joseph Luker was murdered. Samuels was sentenced to hang for the robbery, but not the murder. On the day of execution however, three attempts to hang him failed and the sentence was reprieved. He was transported instead to Risdon Cove, a penal settlement at Van Dieman's Land and then to Newcastle. In 1806 he made an attempt to escape from Kings Town with seven other convicts but the boat was overturned and they were all assumed drowned.

Arrived Sydney
Departed Sydney
Kings Town, Newcastle

The murder of Constable Joseph Luker

CC BY-SA 2.0

Convict Joseph Luker placed his past firmly behind him when he decided to pursue a career as a police constable in colonial Sydney. This transition from law breaker to law enforcer would also see him become the first officer of the law killed in the line of duty in Australia.