Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Execution of Alfred Bye 1941

THE CRIME

29.9.1941

Canberra Times

STABBED TO DEATH

Soldier Found with Five Wounds

MELBOURNE, Sunday.

Thomas Edward Walker, garrison soldier and returned soldier, was stabbed to death last night behind the Mines Department in Parliament Place.

There were six stab wounds on the body, five in the chest and one in the neck.

It appeared that they were inflicted with a dagger or a knife with a blade like a stiletto.

Money found in his clothing indicated that robbery was not the motive of the attack.

The police have not yet ascertained his address.

THE TRIAL

20/11/1941

The Argus

GUILTY OF MURDER

IN GARDENS

Sentence of Death

Sentence of death was passed on Alfred Bye, 42, driver, formerly of Railhead Camp, Bacchus Marsh, by Mr. Justice Gavan Duffy in the Criminal Court yesterday on a charge of having murdered Thomas Edward Walker, 45, in Treasury Gardens on September 27. Walker, at the time of his death, was a member of the Garrison Battalion at Broadmeadows.

The jury returned a verdict of guilty after a retirement of 45 minutes.

Asked by Mr. Justice Gavan Duffy if he had anything to say, Bye declared, “I never intended to murder him. I had to do something to defend myself. When he had me by the throat I had to make him release his grip.”

From the witness stand Bye denied saying to the police that he was jealous of Walker. On September 27he obtained leave from camp and came to Melbourne. He had a knife which he had bought some weeks before and brought it to town to put in a box to send to a friend in Gippsland. In Swanston st. That night he met Miss Ogier with Walker and her 2 nieces, and was speaking to her when Walker approached and “put his hands up.”

He thought Walker was going to strike him so he “got in” first and struck Walker.

At the corner of Swanston and Bourke streets he again approached Miss Ogier and asked her to forgive him for a previous occurrence and shake hands. Shortly afterward Walker approached and said: “I’ll see you in half an hour.” He did not say anything in reply.

Bye said he did not know where the others were going. He went to the corner of Bourke and Spring St.’s and saw Walker standing there.  Walker said, “Come over here”. He followed Walker, who seemed hostile, into the gardens. When they arrived at a spot in the gardens Walker took his coat off and said: “Come over here and take your coat off.”He walked to a tap and took his coat off.             

“I said to Walker,” Bye continued, “I believe you are an old Digger. Why should 2 old soldiers fight? Walker then let fly and hit me on the jaw. Before I could do anything he made a flying leap at me, knocking me on the broad of my back. He had me by the throat with his 2hands. His thumbs were pressed into my windpipe and he kept calling out, ‘You rotten —, you rotten —’I could not move. I had a knife in my pocket and reached down with my hand to get it out.”

Bye said the knife “got” Walker in the back as Walker rolled over on to it.

Bye then explained how he had struggled with Walker for possession  of the knife. Both had a grasp of it, Walker pulling it toward him, and he (Bye) pulling it back toward himself. He did not realise at the time that the knife was “getting” Walker, who, being stronger in the arm, kept pulling it back toward his  body. He realised Walker was wounded but did not think it was serious. When Walker began to call out he picked up his coat and walked away. After throwing the knife away he stopped to put on his coat. He returned to Bacchus Marsh by the 11.25 train that night. Before catching the train Bye said he washed some blood of his trousers at a horse trough in Spencer Street.  

Mr. Murray McInerney (instructed  by Mr. J. Barnett) appeared      for Bye. Mr. C. H. Book, KC, prosecuted.

PENTRIGDE  ELONG

PETITION FOR REPRIEVE

20/12/1941

Adelaide News

PETITION FORREPRIEVE

Victorian Murder

MELBOURNE.-A petition for commutation of the death sentence on Alfred Bye, 42, for the murder of Thomas Walker, 45, has been presented to the Governor-in Council by the Howard League for Penal Reform. Executive Council recently decided that Bye should be hanged at 8 a.m. on Monday. The petition states that it was not discovered until after the trial that the condemned man was under 7 st. in weight, and was thus of lighter build than Walker, and that this fact might have influenced Bye in having used a protecting weapon against possible odds in strength. Bye, according to the petition, was backward as a child at school and reached only the third class.

 

THE HANGING

23/12/1941

The Argus

Alfred Bye, 42, formerly a military transport driver at Darley Camp, was executed at the Metropolitan gaol, Pentridge, yesterday morning. He made no final statement.

Bye was sentenced to death for the murder of Thomas Edward Walker,45, a soldier, of Broadmeadows Camp, in a reserve near the Government Printing Office on September 19.Walker died from a number of knife wounds.

No appeal against the sentence was made by Bye, but requests for com-mutation of the sentence to life imprisonment were made by the Labour party and the Howard League for Penal Reform.

  interior pentridge

The following report is from a record kept by the Gaol Warders closely involved with the Execution of Alfred Bye…

Alfred Bye aged 42

Executed at Pentridge Gaol 22/12/1941

Height 5 foot 4 inches

Weight 7 stone 2 lbs.

Length of drop (was 8 foot 6 inches) N.B. Extra length of drop was allowed as Bye fell less distance owing to being in a sitting position in a chair. Drop 8 foot 9 inches.

Neck measure 13 inches .

After 13 and a half inches.

Bye was judiciously hanged today in this Pentridge Gaol by the hangman who performed this task in another State (NSW), and whose services were obtained for the last two hangings in this gaol.

“As Bye was a nervous wreck for some days, he was given some sedatives over the week and had hypertension this morning.

“He was therefore in a partially hypnotic condition this morning and incapable of standing erect, so that it was necessary to place him in a chair.

“His legs were not strapped. This preparation was necessary to avoid what would most certainly have been a hysterical scene at the gallows with all its attendant unpleasantness.

“Without delay, the hangman released the trapdoor and there was a slight break in the fall as the chair hit the trapdoor before the body left it.

“Death was instantaneous. The gaol priest anointed the body whilst it was hanging during the first 10 minutes.”

The pulse continued on right wrist for about 12 minutes and on the left wrist for 18 minutes, changing from regular strong beat for nearly 10 minutes to irregular rate and strength later. Heartbeat could be heard with a stethoscope up to 22 minutes.

The  autopsy showed a thin body with no external blemishes there were no marks or abrasions on the neck owing to his light weight, no doubt. The internal organs were well developed. the lungs were not conjested and air was found. a small amount of blood had been inhaled.The organs, kidneys, splein, pancreas and heart muscle were all tough. The heart valves were normal but there were abnormalities in the front part of the aorta. The stomach was empty except for a little fluid and blood stained mucus. The skull was thicker than normal and very hard in nature.

Death was due to fracture of the neck in the region of the lower 3rd and 4th cervical vertebrae.

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The Execution of Frances Knorr 1894

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The Execution of Frances Knorr

Frances (Minnie) Knorr (nee Thwaites) born in England, Frances (known as ‘Minnie’) migrated to Australia, in 1887, she was one of only five women hanged in Victoria.

 On 2 November 1889 at St Philip’s Church of England married Rudolph Knorr, a German-born waiter. They moved to Melbourne, then onto Adelaide. During the financial depression, of the 1890’s and after the birth of their daughter in 1892, Rudi was sentenced to a gaol term in Adelaide for selling off the family’s furniture, even though, they did not own the furniture yet themselves.

Fending for herself and child Frances tried to support herself by dressmaking but when this venture failed she stole money and returned to Melbourne. Whilst in Melbourne she had an affair with a man named Ted (Edward) Thompson, living together, but he soon left her as well.

Desperate for money Frances turned to the business of ‘baby farming’ taking care of other women’s (usually illegitimate, read into that, unwanted) children. Frances Knorr moved around Melbourne frequently living in several rented houses and when her husband was released the couple returned to Sydney.

After a new tenant, discovered of the corpses of three infants in premises at 25 Davies Street Brunswick, Melbourne, that Frances rented, she was arrested and, after giving birth to a second child on 4 September 1893,Frances was  brought back to Melbourne, where she was tried for murder.

THE CRIME

The Argus

5/9/1883

TRAFFIC IN BABIES.

SHOCKING DISCOVERY AT

BRUNSWICK.

A CHILD’S BODY BURIED IN A

FURTHER SEARCH BEING MADE.

Added to the long list of child murders on the records at the City Morgue is one which was discovered yesterday by Mr. Clay, a commercial traveller, who has recently taken up his residence in Moreland-road, Brunswick.

 He was digging in the garden, when he came across the body of a child, which had been buried about a foot beneath the surface. The police were advised of the matter, and Senior-constable Percival went to the place and took charge of the body.

The state of decomposition indicated that the child had been buried for about three months. The coroner for Bourke, Mr. Candler, has been informed of the discovery, and he will hold an inquest when the Brunswick police have had time to make the inquiries necessary in the case.

An examination of the body clearly showed that its death had undoubtedly been caused by violence, and that murder had been com-mitted. The skull was fractured, in fact almost broken to pieces. Other injuries were also visible on the body, which was perfectly nude. The corpse was placed by the police-man in a box and sent to the morgue.

Mr. Clay, the present occupier of the house, has only been in the occupation of the premises for a very short time, they having previously been vacant for a considerable period. From information gained by the police, it appears that a local agent was visited on the 10th of April last by a woman who wished to rent the house.

 She paid a deposit of 4s., and got possession of the keys. On the 15th of the same month, or five days after securing the keys, she sent them back to the agent by a boy, who de-livered a message that the house did not suit. The same woman, it has been discovered, then removed to a house in Davis street, in close proximity to the one in which the body was found. It has also been discovered by the police that the woman, while in the former house, borrowed a spade from a neighbour, which she only kept for about a  hour and then re-turned, the plea given when asking for the spade being that she wished to dig the garden. This woman, while occupying the house in Davis-street, came under the notice of the police in connection with a baby-farming case, and soon afterwards she most mysteriously disappeared from the district. Since her removal she has been most anxiously required by the police, owing to her connection with nearly all the recent cases of trafficking with babies which have been reported in The Argus as occurring in nearly all of the suburbs.

 The Prahran, Carlton, Brunswick, and Coburg courts have each had cases brought under their notice, and the woman’s identity, owing to her innumerable aliases, has almost become an impossibility. It is estimated by the police that this woman has been the means of scattering scores of children throughout Melbourne and suburbs. Owing to the discovery the police at Brunswick are making a thorough search of the yards of the two houses which have been occupied by this woman. These yards are being thoroughly dug over, but up to last night nothing further had been discovered. The work will be continued this morning.

From the information already in the possession of the Brunswick police, it may be seen that there is reasonable ground for sup-position that the present case of child murder will be presently cleared of all the mystery, and the perpetrator of the murder brought to justice. For many months past the crime of infanticide has been prevalent in the city and suburbs, and the records of the city and district coroners have been plentifully marked with cases in which verdicts of murder have been re-turned against some person or persons un-known in connection with the deaths of infants.

The bodies have been found in field and river, on the public street, and in private enclosures, and while most have been wrapped in paper and clothing, some have been absolutely nude. The post-mortem examinations made by the doctors have generally shown that death was caused by suffocation, induced by pressure, and that the abandonment was after death, but in one instance recently, where the body was found in the bay, it was discovered that death had been due to drowning, and that therefore the child must have been cast alive into the water and abandoned to the tide.

In all these cases the police and detectives were employed in the task of tracing the parentage of the children, but in none did they succeed. Indeed it  is remarkable that for years past only one  such case has been satisfactorily cleared up. In that the detective police succeeded in establishing the identity of the child, but only after its mother had committed suicide at the residence of her employer in East Melbourne. In addition to the children thus murdered and abandoned, there have been many others which have come directly under the notice of the police though not of the coroners. Those are the unfortunates which have been left alive in public parks and on doorsteps by baby farmers, such as the one who was residing in April last in Brunswick.

These women, until the passing of the Infant Life Protection Act, had an easy way of ridding themselves of children they had undertaken to nurse. They had merely to feed them with unsuitable food till marasmus rendered death certain. Then a doctor would be called in ,and while under his care the child would die. His certificate of death from wasting was generally accepted as sufficient, unless there were circumstances surrounding the case specially suspicious and known to the police.

Since the passing of that act, however, every death of an infant boarded out has to be inquired into by the coroner, whether the circumstances are suspicious or not. The inquests thus held have exposed the regular baby-farmers to much danger    of verdicts of manslaughter, and it has been noticed that of late such inquests have become less frequent, whilst cases of desertion or murder have be-come more common.

The suburban courts have been inundated with the deserted children, and the state is now supporting many who have been commended to it by “a heart-broken mother who cannot afford  to bring the child up,” and is a “Roman  Catholic” or a “Protestant,” as the case may be. If the discovery at Brunswick be traced to the woman who was suspected of being responsible for many of these desertions it will have considerable importance, the police having hitherto sought her in vain as an inveterate baby-farmer whose capture was much to be desired.

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THE INQUEST

26/9/1893

The Argus

THE BRUNSWICK INFANTICIDES.

CONCLUSION OF THE INQUESTS.

The inquest on the third child, whose body was found buried in the back yard of a house at Brunswick, was concluded at the Morgue yesterday before the coroner for Bourke, Mr. Candler. The jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against Mrs. Knorr, and found that Rudolph Knorr was an accessory before the fact. Both prisoners were committed to take their trial at the Criminal Court on the15th November,

25 Davies Street as it is today, ( it is the house with a trailer locked to a tree).

 http://www.street-directory.com.au/sd3_new/gsv/index.php?ll=-37.756637,144.966586

 

THE TRIAL

29/11/1893

Sydney Morning Herald

[BY TELEGRAPH.]

(FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT.)

THE BRUNSWICK BABY-FARMIMG CASE.

THE TRIAL OE FRANCES KNORR.

MELBOURNE, TUESDAY.

A sensational turn was given to-day to the trial of Frances Knorr, for the Brunswick baby-farm murder, by the appearance in the box of a young man named Edward Thompson, to whom she sent a letter while the inquests were going on at the morgue, asking him to ” manufacture ” certain evidence for production at her trial. Thompson, who described himself as  a fishmonger, is a man about 27 years of age, with

the dress and demeanour of a better class artisan. In the letter certain lines had been obliterated by the witness with black chalk. His explanation was that when he got the letter these lines had already been run through in pencil, and as the words referred to” his intimacy” with the prisoner with whom he  had lived, and as he did not want his mother to see them he blotted them out. Counsel for the prosecution asked whether the words scratched out were not these :—” Ted, you know you are guilty of what I am charged with, and if you look after my two children I will never divulge. I will bear the blame.” The witness replied that  

there was not a word of truth in this. He could not remember either the exact words he had scratched out or the substance of them. The trial will be resumed to-morrow.

 

2/12/1893

Sydney Morning Herald

THE BRUNSWICK CHILD

TRIAL OF FRANCES KNORR.

A VERDICT OF GUILTY.

[BY TELEGRAPH.]

(FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT.)

MELBOURNE, FRIDAY.

At the Supreme Court criminal sittings to-day, before Mr. Justice Holroyd, the trial was concluded of Frances Knorr, alias Minnie Thwaites, for the wilful murder of a female child unknown  at a house in Moreland-road, Brunswick, on or  about the 11th April last. Mr. Walsh, Q.C., in    addressing the jury on the whole case, said the account given by the prisoner in the box was the most extraordinary piece of audacious evidence he had ever heard in a court of justice.  

Mr. Justice Holroyd, in summing up, said in this case there was no direct proof of killing,  but the jury might, as the prosecutor asked them to do, come to a conclusion. The surrounding circumstances brought before them constituted such a charge that it was impossible to escape coming to the conclusion that the prisoner was guilty. Was there motive to impel the prisoner to commit the crime ?The highest sum she appeared to have got aspremium with any child was £20, and the lowest  about £5. Judging from her impecunious circumstances, she seemed to have spent the money almost as soon as she got it. What she did was to hire out those babies, in some instances to pay for them for a time, and then cease to pay, and in other instances to take the children back, while in some cases it was not known what became of them. Of three children the prisoner herself had given an account. That being her habit, and it being necessary for her to live, she had a strong temptation upon her if she could not pay to get rid of the child by some other means. That was the force of  the whole of the evidence as to the prisoner’s dealings with the babies. Whether that temptation overbore her on any occasion was another matter. The jury would have to consider what would be the conduct of a sensible innocent woman under such circumstances as those described by the prisoner.

She knew the law relating to the boarding-out of  the children and regarded it as troublesome and inconvenient to comply with its provisions. That being so, she must have known the law would be still more particular in requiring an account  from her of the death of a child under her charge.

 Would a sensible woman bury a child in the garden, and would she not give in-formation to the police, and at any rate to the neighbours, who could as soon as possible ascertain whether or not the child died from convulsions ? If it had died from convulsions it was to her own interest to have made the fact known as promptly as possible.

The prosecution put it that if these precautions were taken to avoid the discovery of death what conclusion could be drawn but that the child met with foul play ? It was difficult to understand the object of substituting one child for another. The prosecution put the question, What was the object of passing one child for another except to conceal something from persons likely to make inquiries ?

 As to the prisoner’s accusation against Thompson the jury would have to consider what motive Thompson had to murder the child, seeing he was under no obligation with regard to it. If the prisoner’s    evidence were true, Thompson ought to stand his trial. If false, it was a horrible accusation. There were several coincidences in the mode of burying the three bodies. It was extraordinary, if the prisoner’s story were true, that three persons—Wilson, the prisoner, and Thompson should each bury a body at precisely the same depth, within an inch or two, and that the prisoner should bury a body in exactly the same  spot, or so close as to touch that which she alleged had, unknown to her, been buried by Thompson.

The summing-up occupied three hours. At 25minutes past 3 the jury retired. Mr. Mullen asked his Honor, in the event of a certain verdict, to hear an application by Mr. Smith (the prisoner’s counsel), in Chambers on Monday. Mr. Justice Holroyd assisted.  

After an absence from the Court of a little over half an hour, the jury returned, and at their own request were supplied with the versions of the prisoner, Edward Thompson, and Mrs. Thompson, in the letter from prisoner to himself respectively, of the words scratched out by Thompson in the letter.

At 5 o’clock the jury once more returned into court, this time with a verdict of ” guilty.” On  hearing the verdict the prisoner swayed backwards    and forwards in the dock, and sank down in tears upon the seat. Mr. Justice Holroyd said the prisoner would be removed until after Monday in order to hear an application from her counsel. The prisoner was then removed from the dock. She sobbed and cried, and had to be supported by a female warder and a police officer.

As she descended the steps from the dock, she turned to the gallery where Thompson was sitting, and exclaimed, ” God help yours ins, Ted,” and still sobbing and crying her last words as she disappeared through the doorway were ” God help my poor mother,” and ” God help my poor baby.” The scene was a most    painful one.

The hearing of the further charges of murder against Mrs. Knorr and her husband, Rudolph Knorr, has been postponed till the 15th instant.

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19/12/1893

Evening News

Melbourne Baby Farming.

FRANCES AND RUDOLPH KNORR.

Melbourne, Tuesday. — The Crown has entered a nolle prosequi in the two child murder cases in which Mrs. Knorr was committed for trial together with her husband, Rudolph Knorr. The latter was in consequence discharged from custody. A special meeting of the Cabinet has been convened for December 29, when the case of Frances Knorr, who is lying under sentence of death for the murder of an infant at Brunswick, will be considered.

 (Nolle prosequi means a Crown Law Officer may inform any court, by writing under the officer’s hand, that the Crown will not further proceed upon any indictment)

 

THE HANGING

15/1/1894

The Argus

THE CASE OF MRS. KNORR.

CONDITION OF THE CONDEMNED WOMAN.

The execution of Mrs. Knorr will take place at the Melbourne gaol at 10 o’clock  this morning in the presence of the sheriff, Mr. L. Ellis, the governor of the  gaol, Captain Burrowes, and several magistrates. The sheriff has been approached by all sorts and conditions of men for orders for admission to witness the execution, but he has very properly refused them all, and has only issued orders to those who are entitled by virtue of their positions to gain admittance to the gaol. The  suicide of Jones, the late hangman, having deprived the sheriff of the services of the only person in the colony who had had practical experience in the working of the gal-lows, special care has been taken to see that  the new executioner, Howard, should have the benefit of any information or instruction that experience has suggested. As a result it is expected that no difficulty or hitch will occur this morning so far as the hangman is concerned. Much will depend on the behaviour of the condemned woman, however, and her state of mind during yesterday indicated that she was not likely to face her death calmly. In the morning she laboured under the influence of a strong religious excitement and while the other female prisoners were gathered together at a church service, sent messages to them asking them to sing “Abide with Me,”  

and other hymns. Her requests were, of course, complied with, and in the singing of the hymns the condemned woman joined heartily. Later in the day her state be-came calmer, but at night, when her husband visited her and took farewell of her, the interview greatly disturbed her, and she utterly broke down. Her actions then and subsequently showed  her to be thoroughly unnerved, and led Captain Burrowes, the governor of the gaol to enjoin upon the guard set over the woman the strictest watchfulness, lest in her excitement she might do herself injury.

DEPUTATION TO THE GOVERNOR.

The approaching execution of Mrs. Knorr was the occasion yesterday evening of a largely attended public meeting in Russell Street at the instance of a number of persons who object to capital punishment. From9 to 10 the little audience which assembled on the vacant land in Russell-street were addressed by a number of speakers, the most prominent of whom was Mr. Hancock; and  having been reinforced by the Rev. Dr. Strong and the Rev. Mr. Edgar, a deputation of some 150 persons proceeded to Government-house. The news had been previously conveyed by telephone, and under the impression that an attack might possibly be made upon the premises a strong force of police, under command of Sub-inspector Walstab, was  detailed from the neighbouring barracks to command all the avenues of approach. Presently the deputation arrived, and in view of its powerful character a selection of dele-gates, including the Rev. Dr. Strong, the Rev.

A. R. Edgar, Mr. Hancock, Mrs. Goldstein,  and Mrs. Oldfield, was allowed to enter the building and to interview the Governor.

The Rev. Dr. Strong said that they had come    with the object of getting Her Majesty’s  representative, if he had it in his power, to  extend the prerogative of mercy to Frances  Knorr, now lying under sentence of death.

They had no word to say in extenuation of the crime of which the woman was convicted, but they felt that the ends of justice would be sufficiently met if the  sentence of death were commuted to imprisonment for life. The hanging of a woman would be felt as a blot on Melbourne, and thus even at this late hour they had ventured to intrude upon His Excellency in the hope of saving the criminal’s life.  

The Rev. S. R. Edgar said that the  sentiment of the people was in favour of the extension of mercy towards the condemned woman. Had sufficient time been allowed he was sure that a numerously-signed  petition would have been prepared on the prisoner’s behalf. The hanging of a woman  would be an act which would disgrace the colony. In fact, as a proof of the strong public feeling on the question he might mention that at a meeting held in his church on an entirely different subject a petition in favour of the commutation of Mrs. Knorr’s  sentence was dawn up and largely signed. They had no fresh facts to bring forward, but they asked for a reprieve on the simple ground of mercy.

Mr. J. Hancock said that everybody must sympathise with the position in which His Excellency was placed. They came at this late hour because they realised that a woman’s life was to be saved. If action had    been so long delayed it was only because from the first the public had believed that women would not be executed. In a great number of similar cases in the old country female prisoners had been reprieved. When the public of the colony read the details of the execution in the  papers they would recognise that the real criminals had escaped. The colony was not  in such a terrible condition that a victim was required. Unfortunately, at the trial stress had not been laid upon the epileptic symptoms to which the unfortunate woman was subject. The subject had been brought under the notice of the Premier by telephone, but Mr. Patterson had held out no hope of any remission of the sentence. If His Excellency would only intervene it would add to his popularity, not only in this world but in the next.

 

16/1/1894

Narracourte Herald

Tbe Execution of Mrs. Knorr.

(By Telegraph.)

Melbourne, January 15.,

Mrs. Frances Knorr, the baby farmer was hanged at the  Melbourne Goal at ten o’clock this morning. . A large crowd of morbid minded people collected outside the goal in “Victoria, and Russell Streets, but only a few persons were allowed in to witness the execution.

Shortly before the new hangman (Roberts) entered the condemned cell, Mrs. Knorr sang the hymns “In the Sweet By-and-bye and “Abide with Me.” She’ walked firmly to the scaffold.

The noose haying been laid on her neck, the Sheriff asked if she had anything to say. She replied “Yes 1 The Lord is with me, I do not fear what man can do to me, for I am at peace at perfect peace” The, lever was then polled, and she dropped into eternity without a struggle.

Mrs. Knorr confessed several days before the execution that she murdered two of the babies, but “No. 3” she did not murder. 

 

The following report is from a record kept by the Gaol Warders closely involved with the Execution of Francis Knorr

H>M Gaol Melbourne

Particulars of the Execution of Francis Knorr on 15/1/1894

Height 5 foot 2 inches

Weight 11 stone 2 lbs add 1lb for her skirt.

Remarks

Death was  instanteneous. On examination after being cut down the Doctor found that  there was just the slightest scratch on the neck. The spine had been dislocated.

R.Burrows

Governor at 

Melbourne Gaol

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The Execution of Jackie Underwood 1901.

underwood

The Execution of Jackie Underwood 1901.

Jackie Underwood was one of the perpetrators of a crime known as the Breelong massacre that occurred on the night of the 20th July, 1900.

The story of will of the Breelong massacre sound strangely familiar as it has been immortalised in the fictionalised novel and film, The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith.

Jimmy Blacksmith’s real surname was Governor, he had a fencing contract with a man named John Mawbey at  farm called Breelong, near Gilgandra in Western New South Wales.

Governor in turn sub contracted the work to some of his family and friends. One of them being a man named Jackie Underwood, sometime known as Charlie Brown.

Jimmy had been insulted by reports from Ethel, that Mrs Mawbey and Helen Josephine Kerz, a schoolteacher who lived with the Mawbeys, had taunted his wife for marrying Aboriginal.

On the night of 20 July 1900, accompanied by Underwood, Governor confronted the women, who were alone in the house with seven children and Mrs Mawbey’s 18-year-old sister Elsie Clarke. Jimmy alleged that the women laughed at him and Helen Kerz said: ‘Pooh, you black rubbish, you want shooting for marrying a white woman’.

Jimmy’s reaction was disproportionate to the insults on the day, but he snapped as he had no doubt that this type of insult about him was rife. The cumulative effect of the racism he had endured is an often put up theory as to what initiated the massacre at Breelong, the same could be said for Jackie Underwood’s and explain Jackie Underwood’s actions/reactions at the house that night.

Jimmy Governor  and Jackie Underwood, with nulla-nullas and tomahawk, killed Mrs Grace Mawbey, Helen Kerz, and Grace (16), Percival (14) and Hilda Mawbey (11); Elsie Clarke was seriously injured. Undeerwood was attributed as the killer of Percival Mawbey.

Underwood was quickly caught and held at Dubbo for his trial and hanging.

Jimmy Governor and his brother Joe Governor, continued to rampage, terrorizing a wide area of north-central New South Wales for the next fourteen weeks. Seeking revenge on persons who had wronged them, they killed Alexander McKay near Ulan on 23 July, Elizabeth O’Brien and her baby son at Poggie, near Merriwa, on 24 July, and Keiran Fitzpatrick near Wollar, on 26 July.

After some robberies in the North of the state, they moved onto the Manning and Hastings rivers, pursued by black trackers brought down from Queeensland, bloodhounds and hundreds of police and civilians.

On 8 October the NSW Government offered a reward of £1000 each for their capture.

Jimmy was shot in the mouth by Herbert Byers, a hunter, on 13 October1900; in a weakened condition he was captured by a party of settlers, near Wingham, on 27 October 1900.

Joe was shot dead, north of Singleton on 31 October. They had been outlawed on 23 October 1900.

Underwood was executed on the 14th January1901, in the Dubbo gaol four days later, Jimmy Governor was hanged at Darlinghurst Gaol on 18 January 1901 and buried in an unmarked grave in the Anglican section of Rookwood cemetery.

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THE CRIME AT BREELONG

Kiama Independent

26 July 1900

The Breelong Murders

The whole of the Great West is up in arms in consequence of the murders perpetrated by Blacks in the Breelong district on Friday night last.  Another murder was committed 20 miles from Mudgee on Monday. a man named Mackay being killed and his wife injured; and a woman and child were butchered to death 13 miles around Merriwee, near the Goulburn River, There seems some ground for the belief that word has passed around among the blacks to massacre  different families in widely separated localities at about the same time.

Jacky Underwood, one of the participants in the outrages on the Mawbey family at Breelong, was captured on Tuesday night. Only the two aboriginals named Governor are now at large.

THE INQUEST

Nepean Times

28 July 1900

THE BREELONG MURDERS.

INQUEST

Albert Mawbey, stated : I am 9 years old, I canread and write a little; I am the son of John Mawbey, and reside at Breelong ; last Friday night went to bed at about half-past 8 in the back bed-room ; Jack Mawbey, whose proper name is George  Mawbey, went to bed with me ; I think I was asleep, when I was awoke by the voice of a black fellow singing out, ‘I will blow your brains out, and stamping his feet; I jumped out of bed and came out of the door, and saw a black fellow standing in the middle of the sitting-room ; he was big and tall; I saw no head ; he had trousers and shirt on ; I don’t know his name, and never saw him before ; he was belting into Percy, hitting him with a rifle or a stick ; I don’t know rightly what it was; it was dark, but there was a little light from the fire; there was no candle burning ; Percy was on the floor lying down ; he hit Percy 10 or 13times; I was frightened, and ran out over the creek and hid in some bushes for about 10 minutes ; I then heard screams coming from the house ; I saw no other black fellow except the one belting Percy;  I then ran on to our old house, to my father and Fred Clarke and Reggie Mawbey, my brother ; I said ‘A black fellow is killing Percy,’ and father  ran up to this house, where Percy was being killed ; Reg and Fred ran after him, Reg took his rifle ; I saw no more ; I know Jim Governor, who lives at the camp, about three miles away ; the black fellowI saw was not like Jimmy Governor ; I did not see my mother when the black fellow was hitting Percy ; I heard her screaming in her bedroom; Miss Clarke was also sleeping in hers ; I did not see her; My sisters, Hilda and Grace Mawbey, were also sleeping in the room with my mother ;Miss Kerz also slept in the room ; Cecil and Garnet aged 7 and 4, slept in the kitchen ; Percy usually slept in my bedroom in the same bed.

George Mawbey, called also Jack, said : I am 13years ; I am the son of George Mawbey, and live at the house at Breelong with my uncle, John Mawbey ; I remember last Friday night; I went to bed about 7 or 8 with Bert and Percy ; we had undressed, and all got into bed ; we were lying in bed talking; I am sure I did not go to sleep ; Mrs Mawbey always sleeps in the kitchen with uncle, also Garnet and Cecil sleep there; I heard Mrs Mawbey say,’ Oh, there’s a black fellow, he has hit me on the head with a brick ;’ she was screaming this out; Percy ran out of the room ; I lay in bed for a minute and then heard Mrs Mawbey and the girls screaming ; I ran out and saw a black fellow near the back bedroom door ; he was stooping  down, watching Percy; I heard another black-fellows voice outside the house; it was Jimmy Governor’s voice, I am quite sure ; I know it well; I have met Jimmy Governor a dozen times, perhaps more, and have had a good long talk with him ;Jimmy Governor said ‘ Go on, Jacky, don’t take no notice of them ; dash out their — brains ; I have had enough of them ;’ I was frightened and ran past Percy into the front bedroom, but the door was fastened ; afterwards they let us in, and Percy  was standing looking towards the back of the house with something in his hand, and saying to  the black fellow whom I saw first, and whom I think to be Jacky ; ‘What is it you want ?’ Percy  said this several times, and then his voice stopped ;after he screamed I got into the front bedroom, and got under the bed; I heard the sound of blows coming from the sitting-room ; I heard a black-fellow, but which one I don’t know, say ‘ There’s another one about somewhere;’ I then heard a body fall on the floor; I think it was Elsie Clarke ;there was a barefooted black fellow in the bedroom ;I heard a sound as if he was picking up axes or tomahawks; then very shortly I heard Reggie coming in with his rifle; I then heard Jimmy Governor sing out before Reggie came,’ Come on, Jack, come on;’ I came from underneath, the bed, and saw Reggie standing with a lighted match crying and holding his rifle ; Reggie said ‘ Oh, here’s poor little Jack,’ meaning me ; Reggie and I left the house after uncle came in and went from the front of the house towards the creek, and found Miss Kerz this side of the creek, lying dead ; Uncle and Reggie carried her up to the house ;  some time after I saw uncle bring Hilda’s body in ;about two weeks ago I went to the blacks’ camp, about three miles from here ; I saw Jimmy Governor and two other bleak fellows; the black-fellow in custody was not there ; I also saw a white woman, Jimmy’s wife ; I have seen the black fellow Jack Porter outside the court; I don’t think he was one of the two blacks I saw with Jimmy Governor at the camp; I was under the bed when the bedroom door was smashed in ;when I came out from under the bed the window was open ; after I got into the bedroom I heard somebody smashing in the door.”  

John Thomas Mawbey, of Breelong, said : I identify the four bodies as those of Miss Kerz, Hilda, Grace, and Percy Mawbey ; the last three mentioned are my children; Helen J Kens was a teacher at the public school at Breelong : she lived with us as a border ; I last saw the deceased alive at midday on Friday last; she was sleeping at my old building; about 11 p.m. last Friday Jimmy Governor, a three-quarter aboriginal, and another man, I don’t know whether white or black, came to within eight or nine feet of the back door and sang out, ‘ Anyone there ?’ I said, ‘ Hullo there, who’s that ?’ Jimmy Governor said,’ It’s me, will you bring me up a bag of flour in the morning?’I had just gone to bed; I replied, ‘I will bring it  up in the morning or sometime to-morrow;’ I had opened the door and gone out them ; he said, ‘All right;’ I said, ‘You had better come in and have a warm;’ he said, ‘We won’t come in, we will get  home ;’ they went away and I went to bed ; about20 minutes or half an hour afterwards my son Bertie came running, and said ‘ Jimmy Governor has shot Percy and is killing him on the floor; jumped up, put my boots on unlaced, and called Reg. and Fred. Clarke to bring their rifles; I ran on, and they overtook me before I got to the house ;after crossing the creek we heard someone calling out, and we ran up and found my daughter Grace and Miss Kerz close together on this side of the creek; I picked Grace up; she never spoke, but only groaned ; I brought her in through the backdoor, and saw Mrs Mawbey lying across Percy’s face just inside the sitting-room near the back door ;I shifted Mrs Mawbey and put her on pillows ; I thought she was dead ; I sent Fred at once for the doctor and the police; Reggie, I, and little Jack went and got Miss Kerz ; I then stationed Reggie in tbe fireplace, and lighted the lamp on the table and opened the back door ; I told Reggie if he saw any black fellows, to let them come in first and then shoot them ; I then went in search of Hilda; in half an hour I found her in the creek dead ; I could not carry her; I came up to the house and got Reggie; I heard a noise in the bush, and would not let Reggie go out; I then went and carried Hilda into the house, and ran into the bedroom off the kitchen, where my wife and two little fellows and I usually sleep, and found them fast asleep; I  then went to old Johnny Owen, who was camped over the creek, and got him to go for Julias Auber,  who was camped a little higher up ; they came, and I then covered the bodies up; Miss Kerz, Hilda, and Percy ware dead ; Elsie Clarke was lying in her bed in the front bedroom groaning,  and was badly wounded and covered with blood ;  Mrs Mawbey was terribly wounded and unconscious; Grace was wounded in the forehead, and  groaning ; as soon as I saw the wounds I was sure that they were not shot wounds; Grace never recovered consciousness, and died on Sunday morning ; Mrs Mawbey is still living, but frightfully injured ; Elsie Clark is still alive, but unconscious ;my wife knew me on Sunday when I came home, but was too low for me to question her; Jimmy Governor had a contract for splitting, and erecting a fence for me; he had other blacks working for him ; one was his brother, Joe Governor, a three-quarter caste; another was Jack Underwood, a full-blood black fellow, and another named Jacky Porter, who came from Dubbo ; there was a little black boy named Peter; Jimmy Governor’s wife (Ethel Page) is legally married to him ; she has a little baby ; I never saw any other blacks but these mentioned as being in camp; there was no bad feeling existing between me and Jimmy Governor, but I had to condemn about 100of his posts about a fortnight ago; I said ‘I will condemn those posts he said ‘Will you allow me  half-price for them ?’ I said ‘ All right, they will do for a cross fence ;’ that was the only affair in the shape of a grievance that he could have; he  wanted money, but I told him I would give it to  him as soon as he had it coming to him ; I have no  reason for supposing they had any grounds of  enmity against me and my family ; Governor  always got everything be wanted in the way of  rations ; I have never seen Jimmy Governor drunk, ‘nor have I known him to be drunk; I have never  known a drop of grog to come into the camp ; I am quite positive that he was sober that night; he never showed violent temper, nor was he of a quarrelsome disposition ; the boys Percy and  Reggie had heard Jimmy Governor say he would  like to be a bushranger, as no police would ever  catch him ; he was making about 5s a day when  he was working; he spent a lot of time catching  rats and ‘possums to eat ; I believe Mrs Mawbey  told Mrs Governor that Jimmy was not to come  about the place ; I have never refused Jimmy or his wife rations or tobacco ; they had plenty of flour, tea, and sugar; I was not aware of any  money being in the house on Friday last; I have  not missed anything ; all the blacks in the camp  have boots except Jackey Porter ; it was very dark ,when they came to me ; I could not see anything in their hands ; I slept at the old house that night, because we were sacking wheat, and it was very late; my family knew I would not be home; I  often sleep there when I am busy ; Reggy or Percy  always sleep here: Percy always brings his rifle  to this house, but forgot it last Friday and left it  at the old place ; the blacks could not have known  that; Jimmy Governor had an old rifle, and wanted  to sell it to my boy; he also had a tomahawk similar to the one produced ; it is a peculiar make, and rather uncommon in shape ; Jimmy said he bought it; I cannot swear positively that the  tomahawk in the possession of Constable Berry is  the same as that I saw in Jimmy Governor’s hand,  but I believe it to be the same; I never saw a  tomahawk like it before ; I don’t think it has the  same handle that I saw ; we heard no screams as  we ran up to the house on Friday night; I know    of no other aboriginals within 30 miles ; Jacky  Porter came here about a fortnight ago; Jimmy  was the leader and head man of the camp ; I have  not been in camp since Joe Governor and the others  came, but I was there when Jimmy was about; I did not see any aboriginal weapons.  

Mrs Governor stated : My name is Ethel Governor, am married, and wife of James Governor, a half-blooded aboriginal; I reside three miles from Breelong, up the creek ; I am willing to give all the evidence I know about the crime ; I remember last Friday night, and was in the camp with my husband, also Joe Governor, Jack Underwood, and Jacky Porter, and a little blackboy, Peter Governor, who is Jim Governor’s sister’s son ; at tea time I  and my husband quarrelled because he thought me and his brother Joe were sweet with each other; Jimmy said he would leave me, and the others  could do the fencing if Mawbey liked to give it to  them ; Jimmy bid good-bye to Jack Porter and Joe  and went away at 10 at night, accompanied by Jack Underwood ; Jimmy said ‘ We are going down to Mr Mawbey’s, we will see them ;’ they went in  the direction of Mawbay’s ; Joe, Jacky, Peter and  I stayed in camp ; they came back in about an hour ; Jimmy came back by himself, he had the nulla nulla and the blanket with him which he had taken away with him; Jack Underwood had a 44  calibre Winchester 16-shot repeating rifle and a tomahawk when he went away with Jimmy ;  shortly after Jimmy came back, Jack Underwood  came back with the rifle and the tomahawk ; when  Jimmy came back he said to me and Joe Governor  and Jacky Porter, ‘Now all will have to go from the camp to-night, because Mr Mawbey and the  others are close behind us. We have killed all the  women and one boy. Joe, you will have to come with me or I will take your life ; he turned and told Jack Porter and said ‘You can go to the Wollar and get mother and all the children, take  them to Redbank’ (that is a darkies’ mission near  Coonamble) ; He finished speaking and then immediately Jack Underwood came back ; he said ‘ I  heard Mr Mawbey coming up from the old place ;crying out, “Jimmy Governor, you black wretch,”  then I ran out of the house and sang out for you’  (James Governor) ; Jack said ‘ I have killed three  of them with the tomahawk, Mrs Mawbey and  Percy Mawbey are not quite dead, and I killed the  girl; he did not say which girl: Jimmy Governor  said ‘ When the three women jumped out of the  window and ran I ran after them and hit them ;  it was half way between the house and the creek ; I don’t know why Jimmy and Jacky Governor  went to Mawbey’s, except that Jimmy had a grudge against Mrs Mawbey for a few shillings that she made him pay for rations, when she made  up the bill about two months ago ; Jimmy complained to me that Mrs Mawbey made out that he  (Jimmy) owed more than he really did ; he said ‘Mrs Mawbey is a swindler;’ that’s why I judge  Jimmy had a grudge against her; Jimmy never accused me with being familiar with any of the  Mawbey boys, only with Joe Governor ; I was  married to Jimmy Governor at the Church of England, Gulgong, about 19 months ago ;about two months after Jimmy said to me ‘ I will be a bushranger before long ;’ he had been reading about bushrangers before I married him when he was tracker in the Cassilis police ; I am 18 years old ; Mrs Mawbey was always kind to me and Jimmy ; Jimmy never threatened to injure any of  the Mawbeys ; I forgot to say, after Jack Under-  wood came back to the camp last Friday night  Jimmy said—speaking to all of us—’Jack was too  slow for me, or we would have killed Mr Mawbey and all the others down at the old place ; When Jacky Underwood and Jimmy went away to Mawbey’s Jimmy had empty cartridges capped, but no powder in them ; He had loose bullets in his pockets ; I saw Jimmy taking all that there was; Jack Underwood had no cartridges ; there was no  powder in the camp at all; that’s why the shells were not filled ; no other black fellows have been near the camp the whole time we have been camped there, for about four months; the blacks in our camp never said to me they had met any other when out in the bush ; Jimmy also told us all at the camp, when he and Jack Underwood came back from Mawbey’s, that the police would be at the camp that night and watch it, and if we did not go away they would arrest us, because they knew he did it ; in about  a quarter of an hour from the time Jimmy  and Jacky Underwood came from Mawbey’s we all left the camp together at about half-past 11,  as far as I could guess, some time before the moon  rose ; all went ; towards sunrise Jimmy was ahead of me, and Joe and Jack Underwood and  Jacky Porter behind ; in about a mile and a half Jimmy killed with a nulla a dog of Jacky Porter’s, because it was barking, and made a fire where the dog was killed ; Jimmy said to me ‘ You go away to Dubbo, you know which way to go—go across the gully and this pine hill, follow the flat to the dam ; you will come to the creek, follow the creek and you will get to the road ; you will know where you are then ; you can’t keep up with us and I don’t want you with me, or they will say you were in it too ; we are going to Merrygoon, then to Digilah, then to Wollar;’ Jimmy said ‘ Iam going to Wollar to kill the other blacks—old Jimmy  Coombe, and Eliza, and Kitty and Molly, but not my own’—meaning his own mother and brothers and sisters. Jimmy said he would get ammunition from the kangaroo shooters at Wollar he said ‘ We will watch the hut, see the men away, and then go down and take all the ammunition and food, and then we will go out into the mountains and stay; we will go round and get into the point and watch the police, and all that comes underneath, and we will kill them all;’ I would know the ‘tomahawk ; it has a yarran  handle ; the one shown me by Constable Berry is Jimmy’s ; Joe made the handle of green yarran ;Jimmy has had the tomahawk nine weeks; he got it from Sam Ellis, a Mudgee hawker, at our camp ;I have often used it ; I am sure it is his ; it has marks where he put ridges and nails in the back of it ; it has a mark on the blade where Joe Governor threw it at a bird, missed it, and it struck a stone ; Jimmy ‘took the tomahawk when we all left the camp last Friday night ; the yarran stick produced  was made by Jacky Porter and belonged to him;  Jimmy or Jacky Underwood could have taken the stick from Porter’s gunyah that night ; Jacky Porter has been a fortnight in the camp ; Jacky Underwood had no hat on when he came back from Mawbey’s that night ; I would know it again;  it is a straw hat with a red band ; the hat produced is his hat; Jimmy’s nulla had a long point; the wood was not very dark, and there was a little white wood on the knob ; Jimmy and Jacky told me they ran all the way back from Mawbey’s; I have given all the evidence quite freely because people’s lives are in danger from these two men; Jimmy Governor and Jacky Underwood and I would not like to see Joe Governor and Jacky Porter punished for nothing when they had no hand in it; the police have not offered any reward, nor threatened to have me punished.  

Senior-constable Berry, Gilgandra, gave evidence as to finding the wounded and dead, and also to the arrest of Jacky Porter and the black boy, Peter Governor. Jacky Porter, a very old and feeble aboriginal, said : My name is Jacky Porter ; I am 80 ; my father and mother were full bloods; I have been living at the Redbank Mission, and had been at camp about a week ; the camp was Jimmy Governor’s; I remember last Friday night being in  Jimmy Governor’s camp with Joe Governor; Jack  Underwood (also called Jack Brow), Peter the boy, Jimmy Governor, and his missus, a white woman ;Jimmy sneaked away from camp, saying to me, ‘Well, old man, I’m going away ;’ just woke up,  and saw Jack Underwood go away with a blanket,a rifle, and a tomahawk ; Jimmy carried a nulla-nulla ; it was his own, not mine ; they were away about two hours ; Jimmy came back first ; he said  to all of us, ‘ Well, we better get away from here. We have been rushing Mawbey’s house, and have hit tbe girl and the boy and two more girls;’ Jimmy said, ‘ One jumped out of the window, and I hit them with a nulla-nulla ; when Underwood came back he said, ‘Me and you bushrangers now, Jack.  We must go away out of this to the camp at Digilah. The police will shoot us if we stay in camp ;’ I said to Jimmy, ‘You’ll get banged now; Jimmy said, ‘I knocked down four;’ he also said,  ‘ Joe, I’ll kill you. I want to take you with me. If you don’t come I’ll kill you ;’ Jimmy said to Jack Underwood when he was coming into camp, ‘I thought you got killed ;’ Jack said, ‘ You have my blanket;’ Jimmy said,’ Yes—it’s all right ;’ Jimmy said, ‘ Jacky, how many did you knock down he said, ‘ Only one;’ Jacky said, ‘ I hit the little boy with the nulla, Jacky also had a boondah ; Jack also still,’ I hit the little girl on the head ;’ Jimmy said he killed three; Joe owns the tomahawk Peter, the black boy, aged 10, saw Jimmy and Jacky go away ; Jacky had a rifle and a tomahawk  Jimmy had a nulla-nulla ; Jacky had the rifle and tomahawk in his hand; when he came back Jimmy said, ‘Oh, my, uncle Joe, I killed two of the Mawbey’s girls, and Jack killed one boy;’ he said Jimmy was going to kill all the blacks at Wollar, and then go out bushranging ; he said he was going to kill old Jimmy over at that place.

The tomahawk that was picked up by Davidson and some other civilian when they fired on the two blacks at Digilah on Sunday exactly fitted in the wound in Percy Mawbey’s neck, and also fitted Grace Mawbey’s wound.

A verdict of wilful murder was returned against Jimmy Governor, Joe Governor, Jacky Underwood, Jacky Porter, and Mrs Governor.

Mrs Mawbey positively stated that she heard a woman’s voice outside while the men were striking the victims.

 

THE OTHERS

Joe Governor (Jimmy’s brother, younger by 2 years)

 Born 1877 – Died 1900. Joined his brother and went on a murderous spree between July through to October 1900. Joe was shot and killed near Singleton late October.

Ethel Governor (Jimmy’s wife)

 Was initially arrested on the evidence of the dying Mrs Mawbey who said she had heard a woman’s voice during the massacre. Ethel was pregnant by Jimmy when all this erupted and gave birth to a Daughter a couple of months after Jimmy was executed. She remarried in Wollongong to Frank Brown. She had two children to Jimmy, Sidney in April, 1899 and Violet in April, 1901. Ethel died in 1945 in Sydney and is buried at Rookwood Cemetery, Lidcombe NSW.

Jackie Porter (Jimmy’s xxx)

Also known as the Old man was initially arrested on very little evidence of being involved in the murders at Breelong, it was decided that he was far too old to have had any  involvement in the massacre. His arrest was mostly for his own protection from revenge inspired vigilantes.

 Peter Governor (Jimmy’s xxx)

Born 1890 Died 1921. Was an Uncle of Jimmmy Governor. Also was initially arrested on very little evidence of being involved in the murders at Breelong, this was also for his own protection from revenge inspired vigilantes. Peter was about 10 years of age at the time of the murders.

 

3 October 1900

Evening News Sydney

UNDERWOOD CONVICTED AND SENTENCED TO DEATH.

ETHEL GOVERNOR AND JACETPORTER DISCHARGED.

DUBBO, Wednesday.— The trial or Jacky Underwood for the murder of Percy Mawbey, at :Breelong, on July 20, was concluded in the Circult Court, before Mr. Justice Simpson, last evening.

The evidence was practically the same as that given at the inquest. Mr. Colonna Close, in his speech for the defence, admitted the accused’s presence at the house during the murders; but claimed that he was intimidated into attending, Jimmy Governor and struck the fatal blows. The dying depositions of Mrs. Mawbey, in which she clearly implicated accused, were not put in. After an hour’s deliberation by the Jury, a verdict of guilty was returned. The Judge asked the jury for an opinion as to whether the prisoner actually dealt the fatal blow, but the jury failed to agree on this point The prisoner was then sentenced to death.

During the hearing his Honor commented several times on what he regarded as the inexplicable detention of Mrs. Governor and Jacky Porter in gaol for so long a period, they presumably being innocent; and remarked, in summing up, that from the evidence there was nothing to convict Ethel Governor.

Acting under Instructions from the Attorney-General, the gaoler discharged Ethel Governor and Jacky Porter on Monday. Both stayed at the lockup of their own free will till Tuesday.

 

THE VICTIMS

Mrs Grace Mawbey at Breelong by Jimmy Governor 20 July 1900

Hellen Kerzs (aged 21) at Breelong by Jimmy Governor 20 July 1900

Elsie Clarke (aged 18) at Breelong by Jimmy Governor 20 July 1900

Grace (aged 16) at Breelong by Jimmy Governor 20 July 1900

Percival (aged 14) at Breelong by Jackie Underwood 20 July 1900

Hilda (aged 11) at Breelong by Jimmy Governor 20 July 1900

Alexander Mackay (aged xx) at  Ulan NSW by Jimmy Governor/Joe Governor

Elizabeth O’Brien  (aged xx) near Merriwa by Jimmy Governor/Joe Governor

James O’Brien (aged 1 Year 3 months)  near Merriwa by Jimmy Governor/Joe Governor

Elizabeth O Brien’s unborn child near Merriwa.

Keiran Fitzpatrick near Wollar, by Jimmy Governor/Joe Governor

 

THE CAPTURE OF JACKIE UNDERWOOD

Duram and Glouster Advertiser

27 July 1900

JACKY UNDERWOOD CAPTURED.

The third aboriginal, Jacky Underwood, connected with the Breelong murders, was captured by Mr James Hatton, late postal assistant at Mundooran, and lodged in Leadville lockup yesterday afternoon.

Duram and Glouster Advertiser

31 July 1900

JACKY UNDERWOOD.

Jacky Underground arrived at Mudgee oh -‘Friday at 11.45 a.m. under police escort from, Gulgong, Sergeant Harvey and Constable Dunlop bringing him in. There were about 220 people at the lock up to witness -his arrival. He is a small, wild looking man. ‘

 

underwood

THE TRIAL OF JACKIE UNDERWOOD

Muswellbrook Chronicle

6 October 1900

Trial of Jacky Underwood.

T:ik Circuit Court opened on Tuesday at Dubbo before Judge Simpson. Mr. Pike was Crown Prosecutor. Jacky Underwood was arraigned for the murder of Percy Mawbey, at Breelong, on July ’20. Mr, Colonna-Close, assigned by the Crown, appeared for the defence.

 Ethel Governor and Jacky Porter, who were committed for trial on warrants from the Coroner’s Court, were on Monday released, the Attorney-General declining to file a bill against either. At the trial on Tuesday Ethel Governor was called as the first witness against accused Underwood.

Other evidence was given by the two boys who escaped on the night of the massacre, but both deposed that they did not see accused among the assailants. Other witnesses were Senior-constable Berry, Mr. Garlin, Mr. W. H. Shaw (at whose house accused was captured), Mr. Mawbey, and Mr. W. Davidson, who fired on the blacks the day after the murders. Jacky Porter and the boy Peter were put forward by the Crown, but were unable to satisfy the Court that they understood the nature of an oath, and were withdrawn. Mr. Colonna-Close, in a speech for the defence, admitted the accused’s presence at the house during the murders, but claimed that he was intimidated into attending ,and struck no fatal blows. The dying depositions of Mrs. Mawbey, in which she clearly implicated accused, were not put in. After an hour’s deliberation by the jury, a verdict of guilty was returned. The judge asked the jury for an opinion to whether the prisoner actually dealt the fatal blow, but the jury failed to agree on this point. The prisoner was duly sentenced to death.

During the hearing his Honor commented several times on what he regarded as the inexplicable detention of Mrs. Governor and Jacky Porter in gaol for so long a period, they presumably being innocent.

 JG capture

 

THE TRIAL OF JIMMY GOVERNOR

JIMMY GOVERNOR’S TRIAL

The Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 24 November 1900
THE BREELONG TRAGEDY. TRIAL OF JIMMY GOVERNOR. THE CASE FOR THE ACCUSED. VERDICT OF GUILTY. JIMMY GOVERNOR SENTENCED TO DEATH.

The trial of the aboriginal, Jimmy Governor, on a charge that he did at Breelong on July 20 last feloniously and maliciously murder Helen Josephine Kerr, was continued at the Darlinghurst Old Court yesterday before Mr. Justice Owen and a jury of 12.
Mr. G. G. Wade, Crown Prosecutor (instructed by the Crown Solicitor), conducted the case for the Crown ; Mr. F. S. Boyce (instructed by Messrs. Lane and Roberts), was the counsel assigned by the Crown for the defence.
The prisoner had pleaded not guilty (on the facts).
When the Court rose on the previous (the first) day of the trial, the Crown case had closed.

CROWN WITNESSES RECALLED.
At the request of Mr. Boyce, John Thomas Mawbey was recalled. In answer to Mr. Boyce he said he did not know whether anything was stolen from his house. He had not looked.
Did you look round the house ?- I did.
Was there anything to lead you to believe that other blacks had been about ?-Yes, I saw other tracks about.
To Mr. Wade: Blacks used to hunt opposums about the place. It was on the Sunday that the strange tracks were noticed.
Constable Berry, recalled by Mr. Wade, said that when he was following the tracks as previously described by him, he saw two tracks of persons going from the camp towards Mawbey’s, and the same two tracks going back towards the camp. That was in the grey dawn of the Saturday morning.
A juror : Did you see tracks of two men only ? Yes, of two only.
Mr. Boyce : If there was a woman there you would find some difficulty in tracking her ? No, not if she wore boots. I could not say whether any other tracks were about the house, because I did not look for them.

OPENING THE ACCUSED’S CASE.
Mr. Boyce : Your Honor, the accused desires to hand a statement to the associate to be read. He cannot read well.
The Judge : Very well.
Mr. Wade : If he can write a statement he can read one, and the law is that he may not put his evidence in writing if he can give it orally.
The Judge (with an authority before him) said that the Full Court had laid it down that in their opinion the statement of a prisoner must be given orally if it could. In view of that opinion he could not admit the statement.
Mr. Boyce : I am surprised at the Crown taking such a technical point.
The Judge : It is not a technical point ; it is the law. Such a statement might have a prejudicial effect on the mind of the jury. The Crown has not taken a technical point, but has simply pointed out to me what the law is.
Mr. Boyce : The law in England is such that your Honor has power to admit the statement. This is a case of life and death, and surely in this case where the man cannot read English and desires to make a long statement of fact be ought to be allowed to do so.
The Judge : There is no doubt good reason for the law. I do not even know who wrote this statement. It may not have been written by the prisoner. It may be a document carefully prepared by a solicitor and containing ingenious argument. This man can speak good English -as good as anyone in the Court – and if he can reduce a statement to writing he can surely speak it.
The prisoner rose to speak.
The Judge : I would have liked this statement to be taken by a shorthand writer. However, we must go on.

STATEMENT BY THE ACCUSED.
Accused said : Me and my missus had some words about the Mawbeys at the camp, and I said, “Drop it, don’t tell me no more of it, I don’t want to hear any more of that.” So she said to me, ” They rub it in , they do as they like with you.” I said to her, ” You come down and I will see about it.” So we got ready and made off – me and my wife, Joe, and Jacky Underwood. I was going down for some flour and a bag of sugar. I went down first to Mr. Mawbeys. They were in bed. so I sung out to Mr. Mawbey, ” Is Mr. Mawbey in bed ?” Mr. Mawbey said, “Yes Jimmy, we’re just about turning in.” So he came out. I said, ” Please, Mr. Mawbey, I want a bag of flour up in the morning and a bag of sugar. ” He said, ” All right, Jimmy ; I will send them up in the morning or sometime to-morrow.” He asked me inside. I said, ” No, it is getting late I must got back. ” He said, “Good-night, Jimmy,” I said, ” Good- night, Mr. Mawbey. “
So I came back to where my brother and my wife were I said to my wife, ” I am going to see Mrs. Mawbey about those words she has been saying, I’ll make her mind what she is talking about. I’ll take her to Court if she does not mind herself.”
I went up to the house. I said, ” Are you in, Mrs. Mawbey? Did you tell, my missus that any white woman who married a black fellow ought to be shot ? Did you ask my wife about our private business ? Did you ask her what sort of nature did I have-black or white ? ”
With that Mrs. Mawbey and Miss Kerz turned round and laughed at me with a sneering laugh, and before I got the words out of my mouth that I said in court I struck Mrs. Mawbey on the mouth with this nulla-nulla.
Miss Kerz said, ” Pooh, you black rubbish, you want shooting for marrying a white woman.” With that I hit her with my hand on the jaw, and I knocked her down. Then I got out of temper and got hammering them, and lost control of myself. I do not remember anything after that.
The Judge : Is that all you want to say ?
The accused : After that I went to camp. All this bushranging business that we were talking about we all agreed to. It was not all true that we were going to do it. We wanted to get my missus out of the road. We made it up that Joe was not to be there, nor my missus. I had a great name as a smart man and all that, so when we did this they would know I was the man. But it was not true I was the main man. Away we went that night and we camped in the bush. We parted in the morning.
Accused resumed his seat.
Mr. Boyce intimated that he had no witnesses to call. He asked accused if he had anything more to say, and Governor added : “I am speaking straight from my heart, and I am afraid of nobody.”

COUNSELS’ ADDRESSES.
Mr. Boyce addressed the jury for the defence. He said the jury could not have helped reading the sensational accounts served up of the tragedy, but he hoped they would succeed in putting aside all thoughts of the public clamour for vengeance on this particular black. Had the jury ever thought that perhaps after all this man was not so bad ? Had they ever reflected how it was that this calm and quiet mannered man suddenly became a raving demon. The man, they must remember, was not being charged for the murders in the bush, of which they had all heard, but of the murder of Miss Kerz. Now the theory of the defence was that the man had acted in a frenzy of temper in the case of Miss Kerz, and the law mercifully said that in certain cases where provocation was given to the accused by the deceased, and such provocation was intentional and of a nature reasonably calculated to rob a person of self control, and really did have that effect, the killing would be manslaughter.
Here was a man of no high feeling or high sentiment, a rover under the roof of Heaven, a man who by his environment and nature had not learned to control himself as other men had. Could we, who had neglected, despised, and taunted the aboriginals, expect them to exercise the ordinary human control.

This particular man had taken a white wife. He was a man of sensitive nature – a better man than most blacks, because he worked when he could get work – and the taunts hurled at his wife were doubly felt by him.
The jury could picture the white wife of a black fellow knowing [kneeling] in the camp and praying ” O Lord take me away from here, I cannot stand what these women are saying.” The husband had seen that and there was then sown the seed of which the harvest was that terrible night.
Jimmy Governor denied that the object of the men was bushranging, and could not that statement be credited when it was remembered that the men went armed not with guns but with sticks, and they stole nothing.
No motive was suggested by the Crown for the murders, because it was clear there was no motive – it was the outcome of sudden passion. Jimmy used to play cricket with the children of the Mawbey family, and so it was apparent that the two families were in friendly relations. If the idea of wholesale slaughter was in Jimmy Governor’s mind, why did he not start by sacrificing Mawbey when he found him alone and unarmed ?
The answer was that the sudden passion was not there ; that having no intention to commit murder, the idea never entered his head in preconceived form. His intention was to ” take Mrs. Mawbey to the court if she did not watch herself.” He went to the house for that purpose, and it could not be supposed that he suddenly became a raging lunatic for nothing. Mrs. Mawbey and Miss Kerz wheeled round on him and laughed and sneered, and Miss Kerz said, ” Pooh, you black rubbish, you ought to be shot for marrying a white woman.” That was the turning point, when those words were spoken to him the sudden passion rose and that was the last of self-control.
The savage heart, tainted with the thirst of blood, burst through reason and one of the foulest of crimes was committed. The man’s mate seemed also to have lost his reason. Was it not corroborative of the accused’s statement about the sneering remarks that Mrs. Mawbey on her death bed referred to the ” black rubbish.”
The statement of Miss Kerz touched Jimmy Governor on two spots which were susceptible-that of his colour and that of his wife. There could be no question of robbery , there was no suspicion of money being in the house, so the motive of robbery and bushranging was out of the question.
There could be no such motive as revenge, else why did he kill the little children ? Could he have wanted revenge on them? And on the other hand, if revenge were the motive why did he not wreak it upon Mr. Mawbey.
Then, again, let them think of the weapons used. Jimmy Governor had been a tracker in the police force, and was a cunning man in many respects. Would such a man, starting out with the diabolical intention of killing eight or nine people, arm himself with a stick ? There was a tomahawk there, but other blacks were also there. Percy Mawbey was killed by a tomakawk, and Jacky Underwood had killed Percy Mawbey. Miss Kerz was killed by a stick, and she was killed by Jimmy Governor.
There would be in the minds of the jury cases where men had been convicted of manslaughter though half-an-hour elapsed between the time of the provocation and the killing. Here in this case the whole of the event was completed at once-in one burst of temper.
That the Crown had selected the death of Miss Kerz upon which to try Jimmy Governor for his life was perhaps fortunate for the accused. If the death of Mrs O’Brien or of the children had been the subject of the trial, perhaps nothing could have been said against the charge, but in the death of Miss Kerz there was abundant evidence of high provocation, and of unreasoning passion.

Mr. Wade said the law was that if a man were provoked and angry, and in anger or passion took a fellow creature’s life, that was murder, unless the man proved that when the blow was struck it was not struck with the intention of taking life.
If Governor had stopped short at the first blow the case might have been different, but it was shown that after he first struck Miss Kerz she ran 100 yards, and Governor, with a murderous implement in his hand, pursued her and beat ber head in.
The case of a black fellow could not be regarded in any different light from that of a white man no matter that his habits of life differed.
The Crown admitted all through that there was ill feeling between the families, and contended that the murder was done as an act of revenge. The reason why the children also were murdered was to clear out the house of all witnesses. The evidence showed that the accused had been taunted by his mates, and told that he had no courage as a bushranger and those taunts no doubt helped him to arrive at the determination to obtain revenge on the Mawbeys.
The accused’s statements had differed in material points on the several occasions on which he had made them.
He (Mr. Wade) proceeded to review the evidence and deduced from it that the two blacks had premeditated an expedition to first ascertain whether, Mr. Mawbey was away from home and if so then to murder Mrs. Mawbey and Miss Kerz and also, in order to remove evidence, everyone in the new house.
Supposing it could be believed that Jimmy Governor merely went down to remonstrate with the Mawbeys, then why did he go with Jacky Underwood, why was Jacky armed with an axe, why did he go into the house, and why did they chase the people out of the house, and kill them outside ? They had to remember the evidence of one of the boys, which was that Jimmy Governor had said to Jacky Underwood, “Go it, Jacky dash their brains out.”
Surely no one would say that was anything but intentional murder then again there was the remark of one of the men, “There’s another somewhere” That again showed the premeditated plan of killing everyone in the house.

THE SUMMING UP
Mr. Justice Owen summed up. He said the counsel for the defence need have no fear that he had not done his duty by his client. The address which he gave to the jury and the way in which he had conducted the case throughout had been admirable. He had said everything that could be said and taken all points on behalf of his client. Now it was the duty of the jury to deal with the case which was placed before them.
No doubt learned counsel laboured under considerable difficulty from, probably, twofold causes – their peculiar circumstances of this case and the defence set up by the prisoner himself.
When the murder first took place a thrill of horror passed through the whole community, and the excitement was not limited to the time of the murders, but for weeks or months afterwards the excitement of the public was kept up in the tracing of the footsteps of those who were supposed to have committed the crime. In consequence the minds of the public were necessarily imbued to a very large extent with preconceived ideas of the persons who were ultimately arrested. Therefore it was a task which taxed the ingenuity of counsel to set the jury to view the case apart altogether from their prejudices.
The jury came there to try the case on the sworn evidence presented to them, and had no right to consider anything outside of that. It lay on the Crown to prove to the satisfaction of the jury that the prisoner was guilty of the crime with which he was charged.
Everyone was considered innocent until he was proved guilty, and even if the jury had preconceived opinions before they came to that court as to the guilt of the prisoner, if the Crown had left the case in doubt, the jury would be bound to give a verdict for the prisoner. But of course if the Crown had made out a case to the satisfaction of the jury they must return a verdict of guilty. The defence which had been set up had relieved him (the Judge) of a good deal of trouble in bringing before the jury all the points of the evidence to show tbat the accused struck the fatal blow.
It was admitted by the defence that the accused was the one who killed Miss Kerz. The defence was that he killed her by an unpremeditated act caused by taunts which she threw out against him and his wife and that, therefore, the act was manslaughter.
The section of the Act under which they could bring in a verdict of manslaughter contained three provisions which were necessary to be proved. He particularly wished to draw their attention to one of those provisions, which was “that the act causing death was done suddenly in the heat of passion caused by such provocation without intent to take life.” The law presumed that when life was taken by a blow it was murder unless the prisoner could prove it was manslaughter. That meant that when a person had received grave provocation and struck a blow there and then – being roused by a taunt or blow or insult – and the blow caused death, but the person striking the blow had no intention to kill, but merely to strike by way of punishment, it would be manslaughter.
Now the jury had to decide whether the blow which the accused inflicted on Miss Kerz was intended to take life.
The Judge then briefly reviewed the evidence, and dwelt upon that part referring to the finding of the body at a distance from the house. Of the points taken by the counsel for the Crown, he said the one which struck him was why Jacky Underwood was at the house at all.
If it was merely a question between the Mawbeys and accused and his wife, why was Underwood there, and why was he engaged in the midst of the carnage?
However, the jury’s duty was clear to them – they must be thoroughly satisfied that the blow was a premeditated one for the purpose of killing.

THE SENTENCE OF DEATH.
The jury retired at 12.15 p. m., and returned into court at 12.25 p.m. with a verdict of guilty on
a charge of murder.

Mr. Boyce handed in writing the low points he had raised on behalf of the accused. They were as follows :-
1. That his Honor should have directed the jury that on the evidence and law the plea of autrefois convict was made out.
2. That his Honor should have directed the jury to return a verdict in favour of the accused on the plea of autrefois convict.
3. That his Honor should have directed the jury that on the evidence and law the plea of autrefois attaint was made out.
4. That his Honor should have directed the jury to return a verdict in favour of the accused on the plea of autrefois attaint.

The Associate asked the prisoner whether he had anything to say why the Court should not pass sentence of death upon him.
Jimmy Governor, who now appeared to be considerably agitated by the circumstances of his posi- tion, grasped the iron railings of the dock as he stood and shook his head. Being asked if he had made reply, he drank water from a pannikin handed to him by one of the attendant constables, and then said in a weak voice, ” No, nothing.”

The usual warning was given by the usher,-
” All manner of persons are commanded to keep silence in court while his Honor the Judge passes sentence of death.”
The Judge then sentenced the prisoner to be hanged, and Governor was removed from the dock.

THE HANGING OF JACKIE UNDERWOOD

Western Herald

19 January 1901

EXECUTION OF JACKY

UNDERWOOD.

Jacky Underwood, alias Charles Brown, who was convicted at the Dubbo Circuit Court, in October last, of the murder of Percy Mawbey at Breelong on July 20, was executed in the Dubbo Gaol on Monday morning.

The scaffold was erected in the exercise yard, and was surrounded by screen. The rev. Father Brophy was with the condemned man from an early hour. The condemned mini listened attentively to his exhortations, which seemed to buoy him up and give him hope.

A few seconds after tho gaol clock struck nine, a procession headed by the priest, came along the corridor, Jacky walked calmly, and required no support from either Howard or his assistant, we were by his side, At the foot of the scaffold, Father Brophy shook hands with the condemned man, and said ” Good-bye, Jacky.” He replied “Good-bye, sir,” and then walked up the steps and stood firmly on the scaffold while the rope was being adjusted. When the bolt was drawn he fell, death being instantaneous, the body was allowed to hang for the usual time, after which it was cut down, and the customary inquest held.

The Gaol authorities said Jacky was a well behaved prisoner, and realised the calamity of taken the life of his fellow man. His future evidently occupied his thoughts for he said Will I be in Heaven in time for dinner?

 governor

THE HANGING OF JIMMY GOVERNOR

Singleton Argus

19 /1/1901

JIMMY GOVERNOR.

Hanged at Darlinghurst

[By Teleqraph Sydney, Friday.

Jimmy Governor was executed at 9o’clock this morning.- He slept well last night, and had a good breakfast. He had nothing to say, and walked firmly to the drop, smoking a cigarette, he was accompanied by the Rev. Canon Rich. Just before the cap and rope were adjusted Jimmy throw the cigarette from his lips.

The bolt was then drawn and death was instantaneous, Since his imprisonment  Jimmy has been fairly cheerful. He exhibited a strong religious feeling towards and, reading with avidity books upon religious subjects, which were given him. On several occasions the prisoner was visited by his wife and child.

Nothing can be ascertained as to what ; transpired, still it is paid that at no time did he lose his tranquility. Once his wife was been leaving the gaol with the child in her arms,. But she appeared cool as a woman who had been discharging some ordinary business duties.

The last hours of the condemned man were passed peacefully enough, and he 1 gave- no trouble- whatever .The prisoner retired at an early hour in the evening, and his guards state that he slept soundly throughout the night.

Shortly after daybreak he awoke and spent considerable time in listening to the ministrations of the chaplain. He is also said to have eaten, a good breakfast. Before leaving the gaol the whole of the spectators, who, including the loading gaol officials and the Sheriff and Under-Sheriff numbered about 18, signed a certificate to the effect that they had witnessed the execution which had been carried out according to law. Among the …names ‘thus appended to of parchment was one George Mawbey, which attracted attention. – Mawbey is a brother to John Mawbey, the of the murdered family.

Speaking afterwards to a press representative, Ho said, ” I would not have been content if I had not seen him hanged. I am only sorry I could not hang him myself.” Mawbey is the father of the boy George Mawbey, who escaped the murderers by biding under a bed.

pol gaz jg hung

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