Category Archives: Non White Men

The Execution of Charlie Deen 1913

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Charlie Deen was the last man to be hung in the State of Queensland and Queensland was the first State in Australia to end Capital punishment in the Country in 1922.



Queensland Times

Northern Tragedies.

Commutation and Confirmation.

The Executive Council had before it yesterday the case of Paddy Flyn, an aborigine, against whom a sentence of death was recorded at Townsville, on the 4th March last, by Mr. Justice Shand, for the wilful murder of  an aborigine named Roderick; also the case of a Cingalese, named Charlie Deen, who was sentenced to death at the same sittings, for the wilful murderer of another Cingalese, named Peter Dins.

The sentence on Paddy Flynn was commuted to imprisonment with hard labour for the term of his life, but it was decided that’ the law should take its course in the case of Charlie Deen, at Brisbane Gaol, at 8 a.m. on the 5th May 1913.

The Judge’s notes in connection with the trial of Paddy Flynn, state that at about midnight on the 30th December, the prisoner went into the yard of the Great Western Hotel, Hughenden, where Roderick and two others aborigines where camping and shot Roderick through the head with a revolver, killing him instantaneously, in his sleep. The motive suggested was a desire, not apparently of Roderick himself, but of another aborigine to obtain possession of the prisoner’s gun.

The facts in the case against Charlie Deen briefly were as follow: The prisoner, the deceased, (Peter Dins), a kanaka, and a Chinaman were boarding at a work-shop in Innisfail, kept by a China man named Kum Koon.

At the end of January last the cook-shop was flooded, and on Saturday, 1st February, the house was still surrounded by water.

On the morning of that date the prisoner and Dins were helping. Kum Koon to clear the water out of the house and scrub the walls. A quarrel occurred, in the course of which Dins struck the prisoner with his fist. Kum Koon separated them, and Deen went away to a back room, in which he, the deceased, the kanaka, and others were accustomed to sleep. 

Deen got up into the loft or shelf where he usually slept. The kanaka who did not sleep at the cook-shop on the night of the 31st January, went back to room the morning of the 2nd February and got up into a loft opposite to that occupied by the prisoner.

Dins came into the back room from the front part of the house, and was standing at a side door looking out into the yard, when the prisoner jumped down from his loft, and, coming behind Dins, stabbed him in the right side, under the ribs, with a knife. The prisoner then got back into the loft, and Dina managed to rise and stagger into the front portion of the house. Dins died at about 7 a.m. on the 3rd February.-“Telegraph.”

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Townsville Daily News


Charlie Deen Hanged.

(By Telegraph.) BRISBANE,

May 4.

Charlie Deen, a Cingalese, suffered the extreme penalty of the law in Boggo Road Gaol this morning. Punctually at eight o’clock the prisoner who was rather short and thick set, walked from the condemned cell, escorted by a number of warders, and accompanied by Major Geo. Wilson, of the Salvation Army. The Army officer was reciting the Lord’s Prayer in slow measured tones as the condemned man walked into view of the scaffold. Deen walked with firm steps, and did not require any assistance from the warders. He walked with a steady tread up the stairs to the drop, where he stood unflinchingly, gazing down upon the small group of prison officials and pressmen.

He called out in a firm voice: “Good-bye, all you gentlemen, I am going.” The noose was placed round his neck, and he was asked the usual questions as to whether he had anything to say before he died. Deen appeared to have become bewildered, and slowly replied: “Nothing to say.” The question was again put to him, and he replied “Nothing.” The white cap    was placed over his face and the rope adjusted.

The under Sheriff dropped his handkerchief by way of a signal, and the hangman pulled over a lever causing the trap doors to fly open with a crash. Death was apparently instantaneous, as there was not the slightest tremor in the body. After waiting 15 minutes Dr. Dods  examined the swinging body, and pronounced life extinct.

The body was quickly placed in a rude coffin and taken from the prison. The prisoner, who was middle-aged, weighed 11st. 7lb., his height being 5ft. 6½in., and he was given 7ft. 1in. drop. He gave the prison officials no trouble during the time he was under their care. Deen was sentenced to death at Townsville in March last for murdering a fellow countryman named Dins at Innisfail, after having a quarrel with him. Deen was a Buddhist prior to being placed in Boggo Road Gaol, but he became a convert to Christianity.


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The Execution of Jackie Underwood 1901.


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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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.


Nepean Times

28 July 1900



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.



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



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.



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



Duram and Glouster Advertiser

27 July 1900


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 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. ‘




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 Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 24 November 1900

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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 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.


Western Herald

19 January 1901



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?



Singleton Argus

19 /1/1901


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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The Execution of Dundalli 1854

The Execution of Dundalli 1854

The murder in Caboolture, Queensland of Andrew Macgregor and William Boiler caused a sensation and struck fear amongst the white settlers in the region. It was generally known who the murderer was but it took some time to apprehend the culprit. The hangman was Alexander Green, from Sydney, this was of a time when Queensland formed a part of New South Wales and so shared the same executioner. Green’s bungling of this execution may well have been the thing that got Governor Dennison over the line banning Public Executions. This form of bungling had happened before by Green, in 1848, but that time he had a shovel to dig a hole, this time he was interstate and out of his comfort zone and used some lateral thinking with a piece of rope to solve the problem. The Press were appauled.


(Spelling as per the era in which it was written)


Maitland Mercury


Dundalli, an aboriginal, was indicted for the murder of William Boiler, at the Pine River, on the 16th September, 1847. Boiler and James Smith were working together that day in a sawpit, Boiler being the top sawyer, when a number of blacks threw several spears at them, several of which struck Boiler Smith was getting out of the pit, when Dundalli, one of the blacks, threw a waddy at him, which struck and stunned him; subsequently the blacks plundered the sawyers.

Smith took Boiler into Brisbane, where, four days afterwards, Boiler died, in the hospital, from the spear wounds. Smith, the principal witness, was positive as Dundalli’s identity, and another witness also saw him at the Pine River about the time.

Mr. Faucett addressed the jury for the prisoner. They returned a verdict of guilty, and Dundalli was sentenced to death.

Dundalli, the same aboriginal, was indicted for the murder of Andrew Gregor, at Cobulture Creek, on the 1st September, 1846.Dundalli was working for Mr. Gregor, at Cobuiture Creek, 30 miles from the Pine River ; Dundalli had brought some bark in, and Mr. Gregor was stooping down, examining it, when Dundalli struck him to the ground with the blow of a waddy, killing him on the spot; Dundalli and other blacks then rushed into Mr. Gregor’s hut, and killed Mary Shannon.

Mr. Gregor’s servant, and plundered the hut. These facts were deposed to by Ralph William Borrow, who was in Mr. Gregor’s employ, and saw the first at-tack. His correctness was disputed by Mr Faucett. The jury returned a verdict of guilty, and Dundalli was sentenced to death.

One or two prisoners were discharged, and the criminal business of the court was then finished.



Sydney Morning Herald


THE LAST WORDS OF DUNDALLI.-In our report of the execution of the aboriginal Dundalli, it was mentioned, that just before the cap was drawn over the wretched criminal’s face, he cried out with a loud voice to some native blacks assembled on a lull opposite the gaol, and addressed them with much earnestness and rapidity. The Brisbane blacks generally agree that this appeal was made to his wife and other members of his own tribe, whom he called upon to take revenge of those Brisbane aboriginals and others who had been instrumental in capturing him and lodging him in the watch house. There can be little doubt from the agreement of several statements, that this was the subject of the dying man’s address ; and he thus retained to the last moment that cruel ferocity of character which had so prominently marked his life.

 Notwithstanding the expression of many contrary opinions, we hold to the belief that this public and terrible punishment of a notorious criminal, in the presence of some of his own people, must act os a salutary warning upon them, as, from the years of impunity which he had enjoyed, they must have believed that he could forever defy the terrors of our laws. Nevertheless, no prudent     means should be neglected for the preservation of life, and we would again urge the propriety of immediately stationing a body of native police between Brisbane and the northern shores of the bay, to which the defunct outlaw belonged.


The Moreton Bay Courier


EXECUTION OF DUNDALLI.- This aboriginal native, convicted, at the last Brisbane Circuit  Court of the murder of Andrew Gregor and William Boller, paid the just penalty of his crimes by the forfeiture of his life, in front of the gaol, yesterday. Up to Thursday last the guilty man did not express much fear, but when preparation was made for erecting the gallows, he seemed to be aware that his case was almost hopeless ; and when the executioner went into his room to pinion him, he cried and wailed piteously, appealing to all near for their help to save him. As, owing to the desperate character of this criminal, some resistance was expected, more than the usual pre-cautions were taken to prevent an escape. A few Native Policemen, under Lieutenant Irvine, were on the ground with the town police, under arms, and a rope was passed through the cord that pinioned the culprit’s arms ; but he went up the ladder without the aid of force, continuing, however, to call upon the names of those who know him, and crying out loudly in his own tongue when on the scaffold, to some blacks who were witnessing the execution from the ridge at the Windmill Hill, opposite the gaol. The preparations having been completed, at a signal from Mr Pront the Under Sheriff, the bolt was withdrawn and the murderer fell ; but in consequence of some wretched bung-ling on the part of Green, the hangman, the feet of Dundalli fell firmly on the top of his coffin, beneath the gallows.

A turnkey quickly drew away the coffin, but still the feet of the hanging man touched the ground, and the spectators were shocked by the sight of Green lifting up the legs of the malefactor, and tying them backwards to-wards his pinioned arms, by the rope that passed through the pinioning.

Death seemed to be al-most instantaneous after the fall ; but, richly as the blood-stained convict deserved the death he suffered, it was still a most sickening sight to behold the cool and butcher-like conduct of the hangman, made necessary by nothing but the grossest neglect. If anything could be more disgusting than this, it was the presence of large numbers of women, many of whom had brought their children with them! After hanging the usual time, the body was lowered down for interment. Thus died one of the guiltiest and most incorrigible of the aboriginal natives of this quarter.

His many crimes had long made him the abhorrence of the whites, and it is to be hoped that his death will teach the blacks who had been in the habit of looking up to him, that our laws may overtake the guilty, however long the time since he first eluded his punishment.


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The Execution of Ah Pew 1870

(Spelling as per the era which it was written)


Riverine Herald




(From the M. A. Mail.)

The quiet neighborhood of Glenluce has been horrified by the murder of a little girl, the daughter of a farmer named Hunt, who for some time has resided at Glenluces. It appears that the murdered child attended a school situated at about two: miles from her home. On Friday she; went to school as usual and did not return, her parents were naturally anxious,, and a search was, instituted.

Glenluce and its surrounding localities is full of prospectors ravines, and deep valleys, besides being, pretty well timbered. Through this kind of country the girl, who was nine years of age, had to walk daily. It was, therefore, at the most surmised that she had either lost her way, and would be easily recovered, or that, if any fatality had over taken her, it was by falling over some rock. The search was continued as far as possible during Friday night, and on Saturday the unfortunate child was found in a small drive at the bottom of a broad hole about five feet deep, and quite dead.  When’ discovered she was lying with her face uppermost, and the drive was not long enough to, admit the whole of her body.

The face was, partially covered with sand, and-leaves, and in as much as some of the sand-had passed into the oesophagus there can be little doubt that she was alive when the sand was forced into her mouth.

On examination, it was evident that she had been beaten about the head though not with sufficient force to break any bones. There had evidently been great pressure towards the neck and behind both, eyes heavy blows with a blunt instrument, had been delivered. The deceased was h fine grown girl, and she has doubtless been the victim to some scoundrel who deprived her of life probably to prevent her identifying him. The child was. seen by one or two of her playmates a short time before her life was :taken,. and we understand that a Chinaman has been arrested on suspicion.




Sydney Morning Herald



(From the Melbourne Daily Telegraph.)  

AT the Castlemaine Circuit Court, on Tuesday, Ah Pew, a  Chinaman, was charged with the murder of Elizabeth Ann Hunt, at Glenluce. Mr. C. A. Smyth and Mr. A. Wyatt prosecuted for the Crown, Mr. G. C. Leech defended the prisoner. The first witness examined was Thomas L. Brown, surveyor, who produced a plan of the locality in connection with the murder. Senior-constable Bell de-posed to the finding of the body; examined the paddock;    found two small pieces of gimp, with fair hair attached; it appeared to have been torn from the head of the child; also some gum scattered over the bottom of the hole; also  found the pipe-stem produced; had not yet touched the  body; when he picked up the pipe the oil was oozing from it, showing it had been recently used; the pipe had been recently broken; the break had a little of the oozing oil on  it; the body was placed in the drive feet first; saw finger marks in some fine sand as if some had been lifted up; afterwards found the bowl of the pipe, from which oil was also oozing at two places, and had  evidently been recently used; then went to the hut of the prisoner because of information received; on the child’s  collar-bone and cheeks were the marks of a boot; placed his  own boot over without touching; it covered exactly; went  to the prisoner’s hut and saw him there with Ah How; had the pipe rolled up in a piece of paper; prisoner was sitting on the side of the bed; began to unroll the pipe; prisoner could not see the pipe, but might have seen the top of the stem, and said, “Me no savee, that not my pipe,” and  got another one from the bed; asked him if he saw the  little girl; prisoner said, “Me mend him cradle; she came on Friday, asked about a boiler; stopped five minutes, and then go away;” asked him where he last saw the child, and he pointed to the hill south-east; asked where he had been on Friday evening; prisoner replied that he never left his hut that evening; asked him if he had seen Sheng Yen; prisoner said, “He came here at 6 o’clock in the morning and went  away, and never saw him again”; found some thread and    twine (produced) in the prisoner’s tent; both corresponded with the thread and twine on the pipe; arrested the prisoner on the following Thursday; found the hat produced  in a box under the prisoner’s bed, found light hairs inside the hat; a jumper was also found; the child’s hat produced is the one found in the hole; a long black hair is inside it like the prisoner’s. Samuel Hunt and his wife gave evidence as to the loss of the child, and the search made for her. Other witnesses gave evidence as to conversations with the prisoner, who denied all knowledge of the  murder. Leonard Naylor had seen the prisoner smoke a pipe similar to the one produced. William Goodwin, a shoemaker, identified the boots produced as those which, in  January last, he repaired for Ah Pew, and the jumper as the one Ah Pew wore. 

Ah How recollected seeing the prisoner speaking to deceased on the afternoon of the murder; went out, and when he returned  Ah Pew had left the hut; prisoner had on the hat produced and check shirt; the boots produced he identified as Ah Pew’s; the pipe also belonged to the prisoner; Ah Pew had it; recollected Dr. Malcolm and a constable coming and showing a pipe; after they went the prisoner said, “Do not say the pipe is mine; yesterday the girl called  me outside, and she perhaps took the pipe away;” Ah Pew also took the boots produced and hid them in an old fireplace, and told him not to say anything about it; did not know until the Monday that the child was dead; he  was arrested with Ah Pew, and at the lock-up, as they were being put in separate cells, Ah Pew told him not to say that the pipe was his(prisoner’s); he saw Ah Pew repair the pipe, and saw Ah Pew smoking it on the Monday and Tuesday of the week of the murder; Ah Pew always  smoked European tobacco, and a good deal of it; only him and Ah Pew had supper together on the evening the girl called there. Several other witnesses were examined, and their evidence went strongly to criminate the prisoner. Mr.Leech made an able defence in his behalf.

His Honour proceeded to sum up to the jury, and ex-pressed his regret that they had had to suffer through the public business not notifying an adjournment. The case was one of circumstantial evidence—more valuable than  direct testimony, because facts cannot lie. During his remarks his Honour said that there could be no doubt but that the pipe was found in the hole, and that the object of the murder was to cover the crime of violation. If he had previously taken liberties with the child, she would have never called for him. The instincts of children  are strong in this respect. There could be no doubt that the child was at Ah Pew’s hut on the evening in question. The prisoner had denied seeing  Sheng Yen that afternoon, and stated that he was not away from his hut after the child left. The pipe had been identified by De Forest, Jun., and Ah How. Others thought it was like the pipe. If they thought the evidence was conclusive, the jury would have little difficulty in believing that the prisoner committed the crime.

 The prisoner had thrown the blame on Mackay, saying that Mackay was loitering about the hut when the girl was there, and that he came to the hut and threatened him not to tell, on the next morning. All this had been proved to be false. If the prisoner’s statement had been ably and properly taken, it had been proved untrue, and therefore told against him. Nothing could be more satisfactory than  the manner in which it was done. It had been interpreted by Mr. Hodges for Mr. Superintendent Winch, read over  and signed. There were a series of circumstances outside  the evidence of Ah How. There was distinct evidence of  the prisoner being away from the hut, although the prisoner said he was not. This was another lie. The evidence of Ah How was most important. His Honour then read it over, and said, if believed, the case against the prisoner was very much strengthened. His statement in reference to the boots was proved by the fact that the boots were found where he said they were hidden. All the circumstances contradicted Ah Pew’s testimony; if they rejected that testimony they would, perhaps, reject the other circumstances as not sufficient to justify a verdict of guilty. The    jury then retired, and after the absence of an hour, re-turned a verdict of guilty.

The Judge, through the interpreter, told the prisoner  

that he had been found guilty on the most cogent evidence, and that no one in Court who had heard the evidence, but must believe that the verdict was a just one. No hope of mercy could be held out on the sentence about to be passed. His Honour then passed sentence of death in the usual manner, the prisoner the whole time saying, “I did not do it.”




Sydney Morning Herald

28/5 1870 


(From the Castlemaine Representative, May 23.)

All during the week the Chinese murderer, Ah Pew, has been lying heavily ironed in his cell—visited only by the officials, his friends, and the clergymen—waiting for his doom. That he has passed through the ordeal with unshaken firmness it is impossible to deny, and to the last he has asserted his innocence. There was no sign of flinching or of terror throughout, and from all we can hear his last night was passed either in sleep or indifferent stupor. The Rev. Mr.Hollis, who was with him several times during the week, was unable to extract any admission of guilt, but the rev. gentleman is of opinion that his discourse produced great effect, and that Ah Pew at the last died “believing in the truth.” The Venerable the Archdeacon also saw the prisoner; but to all, clergymen, friends, and officials, the man now dead has steadily refused to admit his guilt. Bamford, the hangman, arrived here on Saturday afternoon, and all the other preparations having been duly made, the prisoner was informed that at 10 o’clock this morning the sentence would be carried out. At 10 o’clock, the sheriff, Mr. Collee, mounted the steps of the gallery, and, going to the door of the condemned cell, demanded the body of Ah Pew, sentenced to death under vice regal warrant for the murder of Elizabeth Annie Hunt.

The formal surrender was then made by Mr Hyland, the governor, and the prisoner came out from his cell, walking steadily, and looking far calmer than some of the spectators. The Rev. Mr. Hollis, who had been praying with the doomed man previously, came out with him, and the Ven. the Archdeacon was also in the gallery. They had both done all they could for the man’s spiritual comfort, and now the hangman’s work began.

The knot being fixed at the back of the head, the white cap was drawn over the prisoner’s face, the hangman shook his passive hand, a few prayers were muttered by the clergyman, there was a distinctly heard exclamation of “No, no,” and then the crank was touched, the platform fell with a dull thud, and Ah Pew swung lifeless in the center of the corridor.

After hanging the usual time, the body was cut down, and at noon the inquest was held, and the customary verdict re-turned. The post-mortem examination showed that the neck was dislocated, and consequently death must have been instantaneous.

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The Execution of Georgey 1861

Who Georgie was has been lost with time, we don’t know his family name, age, where he was from, anything of that nature. The press even spells his name differently within their reportage of the case. We  do know he is of Australian indigenous descent.

This is an era when Rape is a Capital Offence, whereas Attempted rape is not. Georgie has been accused of Raping Mrs.Bridget Ryan. It is also an era where even the attempted rape of a white woman by an indigenous man meant you would be condemned by a all male white jury.

(Spelling as per the era it was written.)

courier mast head


The Courier Mail (Brisbane)

19 /11 /1961





Georgie, an aboriginal, was charged with ravishing one Bridget Ryan, on 11th October last, at Little Ipswich.

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL prosecuted, and Mr. BLAKENEY was assigned for the defence.

Bridget Ryan, on being sworn, stated that she lived at Little Ipswich, and that on the evening of the 11th of October last she went out to look for some calves. She crossed over the One Mile bridge, and turning off the road to the left, she saw the calves in a hollow. She went towards them, and on her way found that a black-fellow was running after her, with his hands open, as if to catch her. She was frightened, and screamed, and when the black fellow attempted to seize her, she gave him a push, which caused him to fall down.

He got up again, and after a violent struggle, succeeded in committing the offence with which he stood charged. (The witness here entered into the details of prisoner’s con-duct, which displayed the most disgusting barbarity.) He beat her about the head and face with a boot and a spur. The prisoner in the dock was the man who committed the offence.

The black fellow had a lump upon his body by which, amongst other causes, she could identify the prisoner as being the man. The man was with her about two hours. When he left her, she crawled on her hands and knees until she came to the One Mile Bridge; it was then moonlight. She was almost blinded by the blood which streamed from the wounds on her head and face.

When she reached the bridge she called to two men who were passing, and subsequently her husband and some neighbours came and bore her home. Dr.Challinor then saw her. She was unable to stir without assistance for three weeks after.-In answer to the cross-examination of Mr. BLAKENEY, witness said that there was a considerable amount of traffic on the road near the scene of the offence.

When she attempted to scream the man choked her, and beat her with the boot and spur. She could not tell whether he was in liquor, for he had not been with her long before he gave her blood to drink instead of liquor. She threw up nearly two quarts of blood when she got home.

Dr. Challinor was examined, and described the nature of the bruises and cuts on the head, face, and breast of the woman when he went to visit her on the evening of October the eleventh. He believed the wounds might have been inflicted with a heavy boot.

The woman was in a state of extreme collapse, almost pulse less. He did not examine her person to ascertain whether the offence with which the prisoner stood charged had been committed.

His HONOR remarked that in future in such cases Dr. Challinor should, as soon as practicable, institute such an examination.

Dr. Challinor explained that he did not examine the woman on the evening in question, because she was in such a state of exhaustion that he thought she might die before morning, and being a magistrate he felt that he would be liable to blame if he did not ascertain from her a full statement of what had occurred.

He accordingly asked her if the man who assaulted her had told her what his design was. She said” yes.” He (Dr. C.) then asked her if the man had succeeded in accomplishing his purpose. She said ” no;” that she had pre-vented it, and that she had been struggling with the man for two hours. There were several persons in the room when she made this statement, and witness believed that the woman’s husband was present. This occurred a few hours after the assault.

Bridget Ryan was again put into the box, and examined by the ATTORNEY-GENERAL :-I saw Dr. Challinor on the night of the occurrence. I recollect him speaking to me on that evening. I understood what he said. I told him something. What I told him was not true. I was ashamed to say the truth in my husband’s presence. To-day, I have been sworn to tell the truth, and I have told it.

Thos. Ryan deposed to going to the assistance of the previous witness, and helping to carry her home on the evening in question. He went next day to a place in the bush near the One Mile Bridge, and found a bag, a spur, and big boots there. The bag was the one produced. There was plenty of blood on the ground.

This witness was examined closely by his Honour as to any conversation which took place between his wife and Dr. Challinor on the evening of the occurrence, but could recollect hearing no such conversation as that deposed to by Dr. Challinor. He recollected, however, that his wife told the doctor, in answer to a question, what it was the black fellow tried to do to her.

Colin Peacock stated that he resided at Warrell Creek, about five miles from Ipswich, towards Normanby. Knew the prisoner. He was in the service of witness on the 11th of last month. Sent him on that day to the Three Mile Creek on a message.

 He was dressed in a pair of trousers. Those were the trousers produced. He had ankle boots on when he left the house ; took a bag with him, and the bag produced waste one. The bag belonged to witness. He had on one spur. That is the one produced.

Mr. BLAKENEY addressed the jury for the defence, and contended that although they would be justified in finding prisoner guilty of the attempt, yet after the statement of the woman to Dr. Challinor, they would scarcely be justified in finding him guilty of the more serious charge.

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL replied, and His HONOR, in summing up, commented upon the statement made by the woman in the first instance to Dr. Challinor. It would be for the jury to decide, after seeing and hearing the woman give her evidence, and after viewing all the circumstances of the case, whether, in making that statement, she told an untruth, prompted, as she had alleged, by delicacy of feeling. If the jury were of opinion that such were the case, they would of course find prisoner guilty of the capital offence. If, on the other hand, they believed that statement to have been a truthful one, then they could find the prisoner guilty of the attempt only.

The jury, after retiring for a few minutes, returned a verdict of guilty, and his HONOR passed sentence of death upon the prisoner in the usual form.

ipswich street scape 


Sydney Morning Herald

12/12 1863


BY the Telegraph we have Brisbane papers to the 9th Instant. We quote the following from the Guardian of Saturday: –


On Thursday morning tho extreme penalty of the la if was carried out within the precincts of the gaol on the aboriginal Georgey, convicted of having committed a rape at Little Ipswich, on the person of Mrs. Ryan, on the 11th of last October.

 For some days previous to the execution Georgey had manifested great uneasiness, and complained of the long delay which occurred in carrying out the sentence, several times expressing his wish to ” see it over.”

On Wednesday night he slept soundly, and ate well on Thursday morning. On being asked by the gaoler, Mr. Sneyd, how he felt, he replied that “he was sure to go to heaven after what the Bishop said to him.” Considerable impression had evidently been made on his mind, and he was frequently found in the attitude of prayer. He several times expressed anxiety to know what difference there was between the punishment of a white and of a block man here-after.

 He freely confessed his guilt, and attributed his crime to the influence of liquor. On arrival in the gaol yard, at a quarter to nine, the process of pinioning was being performed by the hangman in the prisoner’s cell. Until nine o’clock he paced up and down his narrow chamber, weeping bitterly, his loud moaning being heard on the opposite side of the gaolyard.

On approaching the foot of the steps, the chaplain read prayers, kneeling for some moments with the prisoner, who still continued crying. He mounted the gallows with a steady step, without speaking, As the noose was being adjusted, he turned round suddenly and looked at the hangman, who immediately pulled the cap over his eyes, and at a signal given by the sheriff’ tho bolt was drawn and the wretched man was launched into eternity. He died without a struggle.

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