by Carol Baxter

The true story of Jane New
and a colonial scandal


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 Jane’s sentence was soon quashed through a legal technicality, the autocratic Governor Ralph Darling refused to set her free. Like bees to a honey pot, the gentlemen of Sydney swarmed to her defence. Barrister and political agitator William Charles Wentworth and Supreme Court Registrar John Stephen Jnr were particularly vigorous and manipulative in their appeals to liberate her.

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, its legal and political ramifications pushed the colony to the brink of a constitutional crisis and it contributed to the savagery of Governor Darling’s public vilification, bestowing 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 area and eventually back to the rarefied atmosphere of Britain’s House of Commons.

The above text is quoted from the back cover of the book. ((Source: An Irresistible Temptation – The True Story of Jane New and a Colonial Scandal))


Carol Baxter is a Fellow of the Society of Australian Genealogists and one of the country’s leading genealogical researchers. She has published widely in the area of Australian colonial history and is the author of the critically acclaimed “Breaking the Bank – An extraordinary colonial robbery“.