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The Execution of Nicholas Baxter 1907

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The Execution of Nicholas Baxter 1907

Nicholas Baxter was the last man hung at Darlinghurst Gaol, hangings after that time were performed at Long Bay Prison. The newspaper report made mention of the older traditions of a hanging were pared away. NSW  in the later part of the  1800’s had the same hangman (read the post Robert Rice Howard, Executioner NSW 1873-1903) for 30 years, he retired just a few years prior to this hanging and must have had his own ways of going about the hanging.

THE CRIME

17/7/1907

Cootamundra Herald

The Enmore Tragedy.

BAXTER COMMITTED FOR MURDER.

Sydney, Monday.

The inquest concerning the death of Mrs. Mary MacNamara, who was murdered at Sarah Street, Enmore, on 5th instant, was held today.

Nicholas Baxter was present in custody. The prisoner occupied a seat at the table, and appeared composed. Sergeant Curry said that at the police court, Baxter said, ‘ I don’t know what possessed me to do it.

I must have been mad. I did not intend to hurt the poor old lady, but she would not’ keep quiet. After what I had done I took train for Homebush.’ Baxter said his ‘object was money.

”If I had got a few pounds, he said, ‘I would have gone to Queensland. It is a bad job for the wife and children. ‘The Coroner found that Baxter wilfully murdered deceased, and committed him for; trial. 

THE CONFESSION

13/7/1907

Maitland Mercury

The Enmore Tragedy.

Nicholas Baxter, the man held for the brutal murder of Mrs. Mary Macnamara, at Enmore, on Tuesday made a confession.

At 9 a.m he was driven in a cab with two officers from the Burwood police station to the morgue at Circular Quay, and in the presence of the City Coroner (Mr. A. N. Barnett), Dr.Hardman, nephew of the murdered woman, and the police, identified the body.

It’s rather dark, I can’t see, be remarked as he stood before the glass partition running along the front of the chamber. He was taken along through a doorway, and allowed to stand beside (he slab, ‘ That’s the body of Mrs. Macnamara — I know her, ‘were his words Baxter was next taken to the Water Police Court, and while Sergeant Curry was Standing near the door be leaned forward, and, speaking in a low, husky voice, confessed that lie was guilty. He intimated that later he would put his statement in writing.

Five charges were shortly afterwards preferred against’ the prisoner He pleaded guilty to having been drunk in Bridge road, Strathfield, on Monday, and was fined 5 shillings, or the rising of the court. A charge of having murdered Mrs. Macnamara was read, and on the application of the police a remand was granted till Tuesday next. The following charges were also held over till Wednesday: — having in his possession two gold brooches, suspected of having been stolen; assaulting Constable Holtsbaum while in the execution of his duty, and damaging that officer’s trousers. Later in the day Baxter told the police how he entered the house, and conceded with a full confession of the murder.

On Thursday last he left his home, a cottage next door to the factory, on the opposite side to where he committed the terrible deed, and took with him a tent and other things. He told his wife be was going to Nyngan.

He walked along the railway line, and pitched his tent in the scrub near Homebush. He remained there until Sunday, when he started to return, and at 1 o’clock on Monday morning he went to his home.

He did not enter the cottage, however; but passed along the yard, and by climbing: to the roof of an outhouse built against the factory wall, it was an easy matter to reach up a few feet still higher, and then drop over into the factory yard.

The locality was very dark, and Baxter, stealing along the outskirts of the buildings, reached the email double gates leading to the house near the office. Both doors leading to Mrs. Macnamurra’s room were securely looked.

One opened from the hall of the foot of the staircase and tho other stood faking the small verandah overlooking tho factory yard. The watchman was somewhere about tho factory on his rounds, and Baxter pushed his bludgeon through the glass in the double doors outside. He placed his hand through, turned the catch back, and was beside the sleeping women.

Whether he first of all murdered the woman or was disturbed in his search of the boxes and then committed the murder has not been told.

That Mrs. Macnamurra found beaten about the head and with a strip of sheeting round her throat wore subsequent facto. Baxter left tho room by the door he had entered, walked along the verandah, and then opened an unlocked door and was in the hall.

He passed on by the front door of the house, as was shown by bloodstains there, and went away to Homebush again.

About eight hours later he was arrested in Bridge road for drunkenness. When news of the murder reached the Burwood police the bloodstained articles in Baxter’s possession aroused their suspicions, and, as has before been told, he mode a dash for liberty when returning from the bush where, he told the police, he had his humpy. The bludgeon used By Baxter was made from a piece of wood obtained on his way to Homebush.

When found on the roadside on Monday night the unstained port revealed the fact that it bad been made quite recently. ‘ I took it with me to defend myself,’ he remarked to the police on Tuesday. The City Coroner will open an inquest on the victim at noon on Monday next.

The Burwood police on Tuesday made a search in the bush for what Baxter bad called his ‘ humpy,’ and to which he was supposed to have been leading them after he was arrested.

The officers at first thought, when they had been, walking through the scrub, that it was nothing but a hoax, had returned to the station, Subsequent happenings, however, proved that Baxter had taken a tent from home, It was still pitched when the police came across it in tho scrub at Flemington, on the outskirts of Homebush. They gathered in the tent, blankets, and miscellaneous articles belonging to Baxter, and took them to the Burwood Police Station.

THE TRIAL

The Byron Bay Record

31/8/1907

The Enmore Murder.

Sydney, Tuesday.

The trial of Nicholas Baxter, charged with the murder; of Mrs. Mary McNamara, aged woman, at Enmore, was concluded at the Criminal Court to-day.

Accused made a lengthy statement in which he said he did not know what he was doing at the time of the murder, as he was not in his right mind. He attributed the collapse of his mental faculties to the fact that for years he had worked 90 hours a week.

He called as a’ witness his wife, who stated that he had been strange in his’ manner for 18 months. ‘Dr. Bohrsman. who had attended accused for several years, regarded him as of weak intellect. Dr. Paton stated that accused had shown no signs of insanity during his confinement in goal. The jury after a brief retirement returned a verdict of guilty, and accused was sentenced to death.

The only, request made by the prisoner was that his wife should ‘not be present while the sentence was passed.

THE HANGING

Execution of Nicholas Baxter.

DEATH INSTANTANEOUS.

Tuesday.

Nicholas Baxter was hanged in Darlinghurst Gaol this morning for the murder of Mary McNamara at Enmore. The whole affair was carried out quietly and quickly.

Apart from the representatives of four daily newspapers, only officials were spectators of the scene. During the morning the condemned man was visited by the Rev. Father Barry, of St. Mary’s Cathedral, who had been in constant attendance on him since Baxter, was placed in the condemned cell, and from whose, ministrations he derived much consolation.

He was also visited by two Sisters of .Mercy, who left him a few minutes before 9 o’clock this morning Father Barry, however, remained with him to the last, and sought to comfort, him with words of hope. The many formalities of old executions were dispensed with, according to high authority the demanding, of the body by the sheriff is a fiction.

A few minutes before 9 the Executioner and his assistants went to the condemned cell and pinioned Baxter’s arms.

About three minutes after the gaol clock struck – the condemned man appeared at a doorway leading on to the drop. His spiritual adviser was concealed from view behind the doorway, although he accompanied him to the edge of the scaffold.

Baxter was clad in the regulation grey gaol uniform, wearing a tight fitting whitecap, and his arms tied behind, him.

From a momentary glance which was obtained of him he did not appear to have suffered by his incarceration. Although pale, he looked fuller in the face than at the time of his arrest, while his short beard appeared to have thickened and grown more regular.

Without a sign or word he walked unassisted to the drop. Ho gave one glance down to the yard in which the reporters were standing, then gazed on the drop, made a light movement as if to plant his feet solidly upon it, and in another couple of seconds the executioner emerged and placed the rope round his neck, drawing tho knot tightly round under the right ear.

That official then drew down the long flap of the cap over Baxter’s face. Giving the signal the bolt was quickly drawn the doors of the trap opened, and Mrs.’ Macnamurra’s murderer hung lifeless, with a string of rosary beads in his right hand.

Death was instantaneous, not the movement of a muscle being discernible.

During his incarceration Baxter had given no trouble, to the gaol officials. He had been visited frequently by his wife and children, and a commutation of his sentence never appears, to have been considered seriously, by him.

He was perfectly resigned to his fate, last night he, slept, fairly well and awoke quite, refreshed this morning.

baxter house pic

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Tom Long, Executioner New Zealand 1877 – 1906

TOOM LONG

Tom Long,  Executioner, New Zealand 1877 – 1906

Tom Long was known the length and breadth of New Zealand. Newspapers regularly reported his antics in detail. He was like most of the Hangmen on this site, a habitual drunk, created chaos with his disorderly behaviour and a ealandvagrant. Long was reportedly convicted on over 200 occasions, but was best known as the government’s hangman.

Tom Long was an Irishman who was a bachelor, it appears he never registered to vote, and his life is best known through newspaper reports and people’s later reminiscences.

He claimed he started his killing in the Indian army, acting as official hangman – a claim that is unverifiable.

However, his first New Zealand execution can be dated to Picton in early 1877, when he hanged William Woodgate for murdering a child he had fathered with his 14-year-old niece Susan.

27/1/1877

Marlborough Express

EXECUTION OF WOODGATE.

At our last issue we had to report a state of things which, so far as we are aware, never before occurred, namely the extraordinary failure of justice m regard to the execution of Woodgate, and we now proceed to place On record how the difficulty was got over, and as we can readily believe that the account will be distasteful to some of our readers, we shall have to request them m that case to pass on to the next article, and leave the following authentic statement to those who really wish to know how the law was Vindicated.” We shall riot say how or by what means a person was discovered who was willing to take the place vacated by one who undoubtedly undertook to do the duty.

Suffice it to say that the police or somebody did discover such a person, and that m the early morning the Sheriff, accompanied by the Inspector of Police, drove through again to Picton. There they called on the Rev. Mr Ronaldaon, who went to the gaol and informed the condemned prisoner of the imminence of his fate at about 4 a.m., and remained v/ith him to the last. At about 620 a.m., a procession was formed from the condemned cell, where the prisoner had already been pinioned, to the scaffold.

The Minister came first, reading the service for the dead, Woodgate came next, followed by the hangman, gaoler, wardens, &c. The other persons present, were the Sheriff, Mr Allen, R. M., Dr Tripe, Mr Caute, Gaoler, the wardens, and the police. The moment the Minister ceased speaking, he turned to Woodgate, and appeared to say something-, as it might be, Now is your time if you want to speak.” Woodgate then turned round and addressed the gaol officials, giving them his best thanks for their kindness to him during his stay m gaol, adding and I thank you, gentlemen, for using your utmost endeavours to get my life spared by trying to get a reprieve.

I thank you all very much indeed, and I die m peace with all men. I have nothing more to aay. He seemed a little affected as he spoke, but he ascended the scaffold with a firm step. Now comes the most disgusting feature of the whole business.

The hangman, while adjusting the cap said to the prisoner, Good bye, old fellow, I wish you a pleasant journey. You’re only going a few days before us, perhaps I might follow you to-morrow, or next day myself.” He then adjusted the rope, and again said, “Well, how do you feel is it comfortable, or is it too tight V Woodgate replied, No.”

He was still looking upwards, The hangman again said, “Well, good-bye. I wish you a pleasant journey,” at the same moment kicking the bolt with his foot, and the drop fell, Woodgate dying without a struggle,, his legs below the knee and his hands just twitching twice at an interval of a few seconds.

The hangman then faced round, and addressing the spectators, said, “Well, gentlemen, are you satisfied?’ There was no reply, and he again asked, Are you satisfied that I have done my duty.” Dr Tripe said there was no doubt that no man could have done it more efficiently, as the neck was quite dislocated.

He further added that Woodgate felt no pain beyond a momentary one. The fall was about five feet. The drop fell at 6*30 exactly, and the body was left hanging for” an hour. Just when they were about taking it down Detective Farrell, of Wellington, came on the scene, with note to the Sheriff, introducing a man who had arrived by the Hinemoa from Wellington, who was willing to undertake the duty. The Sheriff, however, informed the gentleman that his services were not required, and we believe declined to have anything to say to him.

At 11 a.m. an inquest was held before John Allen, Esq., KM., Coroner, and a jury, ox which MrW. Jameson was foreman. The Sheriff and Dr Tripe gave evidence. The former produced his warrant or precept authorising the execution, and the latter testified as to the prisoner’s death.

The verdict was as follows, That William Henry Woodgate was on the morning of the 25th day of January, 1877, within the common gaol of Picton m the said Colony m due course of law hanged by the neck till he died, m execution of the sentence passed upon him by Chief Justice Prendergast, a Judge of the Supreme Court of New Zealand at a sitting of the Circuit Court of the Supreme Court, at Blenheim in the same Colony on the 5th day of December 1876.

The body was buried on the Thursday evening within the precincts of the gaol. On Wednesday, during an interview with the Rev. Mr Ronaldson and one of the warders the prisoner said that he was not at all guilty of the murder, but of everything else attributed to him he was guilty, and deserved the punishment accorded to him. Little more remains to be told.

At 7.15 a.m. the Hinemoa arrived from Wellington being manned with Armed Constabulary, and bringing Detective Farrell and the man alluded to. But we are given to understand that the Captain ranks as Inspector the Chief mate as Sub-Inspector, and all the men as privates m the Armed Constabulary force. These escorted the Detective and his travelling companion to the gaol, and back again.

There was considerable speculation m Picton as to who the gentleman was who performed the loathsome duty, and it was confidently asserted that he had come from Nelson, but we have reason to believe that he was a swagsman, who came into Blenheim on Wednesday from the southward, and offered his services, which were accepted as before recorded. He stated that he had been m the navy as a seaman, and boasted of having served as an artilleryman at the time of the Indian Mutiny, when he “slung them up m dozens.”

Soon after 10 a.m., the gaoler let him out at the back of the gaol, and he succeeded by making his way quietly and quite unobserved along the line, m getting down to the Hinemoa at the wharf, which steamed away at once as soon as he came aboard, arid before the Pictonians were aware of the circumstance.

We have just a few words to add respecting the extraordinary assumed by some of the Picton people, who we regret to learn put every hindrance in the way of the sentence being carried out, independently of the efforts made by a large number who signed a petition praying for a commutation of the sentence.

We touch on this subject with the greatest reluctance, but the fact remains, and to such an extent was this feeling carried out that even the rope had be procured from Blenheim by the police.

Although it may be thought invidious to mention any names, rather than all should be included m the censure which will surely be meted out by the press of the Colony, we learn that Messrs Allen, Conolly and Seymour, spoke strongly m condemnation of the maudlin sympathy exhibited, and defended the action of the law, notwithstanding some, if not all, had signed the petition before referred to. We may add that no representative of the press was present on the above occasion, nor was any intimation given that the event was imminent.

Further we are at a loss to know upon what understanding or supposition the Hinemoa and a force of Constabulary was sent, as it is quite evident that the services of the local police force were not called upon and therefore could not be insufficient for all necessary purposes. We shall look with interest for our next exchanges to see what impression had got abroad about this matter.

 

14/7/1897

Taranaki Herald

THE AMBERLEY MURDERER.

[BY TELEGRAPH— PRESS ASSOCIATION.] CHRISTCHURCH, Tuesday. The date of Sheehan’s execution is not yet fixed, but Tom Long, the hangman, from Wellington yesterday in charge of warder, who also brought the scaffolding for the gallows.

 

14/8/1895

Wairarapa Daily Times

TOM LONG, “THE HANGMAN.”

By Telegraph.—Press Association. Ashburton, Wednesday.

This morning, Tom Long, the hangman, was convicted of drunkenness and discharged on condition that lie left the town by the next train. He was taken off the express last night very drunk.

 

24/4/1897

Marlborough Express

THE EXECUTION OF BOSHER.

A STOIC’S DEATH. We cull the following particulars connected with the execution of Stephen Bosher in Wellington on Wednesday from the Post

LAST HOURS.

On Tuesday night Father Ainsworth, who with Father Goutenoire had been attending the prisoner for the last fortnight, spent the time in preparing Bosher for his death. A 11.30 p.m. the condemned man had a cup of coffee, and shortly after 1 a.m. he went off to sleep. Father Ainsworth then left the cell. At about 2 a.m. the sleeping man, who had been uneasy in his slumber, wakened for a minute to ask the time, and then went off to sleep again. He was still sleeping when Father Ainsworth came to the cell at 5 o’clock.

Bosher was then wakened by a warder. He had a cup of coffee at 7.30 a.m., but would not eat anything. Father Ainsworth was engaged with him till the last. As the hangman came to the door of the cell to pinion the condemned man, Bosher for one moment faltered and clutched for support at the hand of his confessor, but a whispered “Courage !” braced up the iron nerves of the man, and there was not a tremor in him as he held out his hands to be pinioned, saying, Thy will be done!”

THE PROCESSION.

Then the little procession was formed, and Father Ainsworth began the Service for the Dead; looking back once he whispered words of encouragement to the penitent man, whose nerves were far firmer than those of the priest himself. At about ten minutes to 8 o’clock the sound of a clergyman reciting the Service was heard, as the little procession, in which was the condemned man, wound along the passage from the condemned cell to the scaffold.

Soon afterwards the cortege appeared at the top of the steps leading to the scaffold.

ON THE SCAFFOLD.

Father Ainsworth was still reading the service when Tom Long, the hangman, a little man with a long white beard, appeared at the other side of the scaffold and curtly said, “Bosher, come this way with me a moment,” at the same time leading the condemned man under the central beam, soon to be burdened with its ghastly freight. Bosher’s arms had been strapped to his sides, the elbows drawn behind, and the hands, strapped at the wrists, left free in front of his waist.

The hangman now pinioned Bosher’s leg’s. Then, at a gesture from the priest Bosher knelt, and was granted the Last Absolution. The condemned man made the responses in an audible tone, but from the voice of Father Ainsworth, it was perceived that the strain was telling on him the most.

 THE MURDERER’S LAST WORDS

 Asked by Father Ainsworth whether he had anything to say, Bosher replied, in a steady, even, firm voice, looking up towards the press representatives: What I have to say now I say of my own free heart, and I have never been asked for it. l am very thankful to be in the position I am. I wish to express my thanks o Mr Gaivey, who has been very kind to me and done everything he can for me, as well as Dr. Martin and Dr. Cahill, who helped to prepare me for my death. Also to Chief Warder Millington, who has done everything in his power for me without going outside his duty, and Warders Keany, Knight, Downs and Bethune, who have been with me night and day, and done all they could, I thank them from my whole heart. I forgive all those who were witnesses in my case; those who spoke the truth and those who spoke the untruth, I forgive all those witnesses who swore falsely against me. Years ago I left my own Church, and have never since known a day’s joy. It has been my own fault.

When I was in my trouble I was left alone, and no one came to see me. Then Father Ainsworth and Father Goute* noire, from Meanee, came to me. I forgive all my enemies. May God bless them abundantly. That is all I have to say.”

THE END.

The priest then commenced to read the Burial Service, breaking off to comfort Bosher, and at last bending down and shaking him by the hand. Bosher returned the kindly grasp, and in reply to the priest’s Goodbye, till we meet in Heaven,” spoken in French, said in the same language, “Till we meet in Heaven.”

Then the officious hangman placed round Bosher’s neck the noose, adjusting it with a leather washer to prevent it slipping, and put on Bosher’s head the white cap, which completely covered the face.

Father Ainsworth said thrice, “Jesu misericorde,” and twice Bosher from under the cap repeated the words after him, when the bolt was drawn, and the body fell.

DEATH INSTANTANEOUS.

There was not a sign of a struggle, and death must have been instantaneous the taut rope swayed gently from one side to the other, and in horror-stricken silence all turned away. A moment later the hangman, who had run down a little ladder at the back, re-appeared on the scaffold, and said “Now, gentlemen, I have done my duty. You, can look for yourselves.” These horrid words, which we believe Long always uses after an execution, gave a shock to every spectator of the grim scene. Bosher, the murderer of Mr and Mrs Jones at Petone, had gone to his last account, penitent and atofcal to the end, and had found that Justice though tardy, had afforded no pity to the pitiless destroyer of two old and inoffensive people.

 It is understood that Father Ainsworth obtained permission from, tho Administrator of the Government to have the body buried at Karori Cemetery.

 

Within days of being paid for doing his duty Tom long was arrested for drunk and disorderly… 

 

29/4/1897

Otago Times

At the Police Court to-day Tom Long, the hangman, was fined £3 and sentenced to fourteen days’ hard labor on three charges drunkenness, resisting the police, and obscene language.

 

7/4/1898

Mataura Ensign

New Zealand’s Hangman.

A COOL CUSTOMER. Tom Long, the hangman, who gets £25 every time he swings off a human being into space says a writer in a contemporary, was at one time gold-mining at Ross.

I was standing some eighteen months ago by the post-office at the corner (Wanganui). Round in the Avenue leading straight up to St. John’s Hill was the cab stand, and Tom’ Long, who had just returned from the finishing off of Bosher, the Petone murderer, was’ describing minutely to the bystanders how he had done the job satisfactorily.

In the’ long line of cabbies waiting a fare, was one good-natured whip with as thick a neck as I ever remember to have seen in occupation by any human being.

To he in particular Tom Long seemed to be addressing his remarks There’s a art in it— ‘specially in the trussin, then you got to humor him and guy ver him until he  will want to shake hands with you. Then it’s quite a pleasure to swing ’em off. Why, it makes me feel quite sad- when I look’s at that there neck’ of yourn, ‘specially when says to myself, ‘here’s a neck goin’ to waste, of want of proper attention and here is me, Tom Long, a standing idle.’

The cabby, quite disconcerted, drove off, and so lost his place, whilst’ many of the crowd, forgetting- the cold blooded harangue of the callous hangman, roared over the ignominious flight of the cabby with the great neck.

 

20/3/1905

Hawera and Normanby Star

TOM LONG

The Wellington correspondent of Christchurch Truth writes to most people Tom Long is no more than a name, and a rather gruesome and misty sort of person. I had tho experience one could hardly call it a pleasure of discoursing with this celebrated individual the other morning.

He is, as he proudly informs you, working in the bush up Wanganui way a vagueness of geographising that he did not seem inclined to strengthen by anything more definite.

He has worked there “and been me own boss” for some twenty years or thereabouts. “They’ve a prejudice against me on account of me doing the executions, but someone has to do them,” he complained, fixing his eye reflectively on my neck.

“Once I refused to do an execution, but they was in a fix, and so I agreed after a lot of persuasion, and ever since then they can get me when they want to. How many have 1 swung off fifteen in this country, but hundreds in India. They pay me £30 a time now. They used to pay £40 and £50, but those times have passed.” He has a grievance, and it is this; that there are men who would do the hangman’s work for £18 and then disappear from the country.

“And I’m here all the time, an’ they know they can get me when they want me, and I reckon they oughtn’t to cut the price.’ He did not seem to think much of my suggestion of a Hangmen’s Union, which I thought would meet this difficulty. He has been offered 10s per foot for some of the ropes he has used, but he has refused.

“There is some callous beggars about,” he commented on this point, of medium height, plump, and with a red face and thick white whiskers, he looks anything but a hangman, until he talks to you on his hobby. He informed me that he would give me a six foot drop, when I asked him out of curiosity.

He is talkative, and sees nothing to be shy about in his business. He relates with many winks how once, travelling with a plain clothes constable from the country to officiate at a hanging, the news got about that ‘Tom Long was on the train.” 

Tom saw a lot of curious people peering through the window of the railway carriage, and lie pointed stealthily to the constable and winked at him without the unfortunate Robert knowing him. The crowd naturally concluded that the policeman was Tom, and the policeman was the most surprised and hurt man in the world when going on to the platform everybody scuttled away from him, and regarded him with disgust from afar. It breaks Tom up to ever think of it now.

 

It was and expensive exercise for publishers to infer that one was the public executioner as the following article reflects…

 

16/5/1906

Ashburton Guardian

An Unfortunate Name.

In the District Court at Brisbane recently Thomas Valentine Long, formerly of Maryborough, proceeded against Charles Henry Johnson publisher of the Wide Bay and Bamett News at Maryborough, claiming .£5OO damages for alleged defamation.

The alleged libel was contained in a letter from a New Zealand correspondent to the effect that Tom Long, at one time of Maryborough, had performed the duties of hangman at the execution of Ellis, and afterwards discussed the deed with a number of loungers on the wharf whilst he was waiting for the boat. Plaintiff stated that he was not in New Zealand on the date mentioned.

Defendant pointed out that there was at least three Tom Longs in Maryborough, and be offered to publish a paragraph stating that plaintiff was not the person meant. Lengthy evidence was given for plaintiff, but no witnesses were called for the defence. The jury, after a brief returned a verdict for defendant, with costs.

 

Poor old Tom Long met his death felling trees…

 

16/12/1906

Ashburton Guardian

ACCIDENTS AND FATALITIES

Per Press Association,

WANGANUI, December 15,

Two accidents occurred this afternoon in the vicinity of the sculling race. A man named Orel was found in a dying condition at Upokongaro, and passed away shortly afterwards. A man named Wheeler was knocked off a bicycle, and fractured one of his legs.

Tom Long, the hangman, was killed while felling bush at Kauangaroa today. An inquest is to be held.

CHRISTCHURCH, December 16. The child Juriss, who was seriously injured by falling into a boiler of hot water in Addington on Monday, died yesterday morning. An inquest was held in the afternoon, and a verdict of accidental death was returned.

Last evening a man named James Jebson was taken to the hospital suffering from a compound fracture of one of his wrists, sustained in a fall from a hay-cart at Sheffield during the afternoon.

 

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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.

pol gaz jg

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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The Execution of Christian William Benzing 1917

Execution of Christian William Benzing 1917

Christian William Benzing’s name would not be out of place on any war memorial in the country had he the misfortune of being killed in action. But he wasn’t. He was a member of the 3rd Battalion, in the rank of Private, that was raised in response to the beginning of World War One and was a part of the Australian Imperial Forces.

The war was declared in August 1914 and Benzing enlisted in September on that year. He had been employed as a Drapery salesman from the Central Coast town of Gosford. Christian was 19 years and 9 months of age, 5 foot 6 inches tall, weighed about 60 kilos, brown eyes and fair complexion.

The 3rd Battalion arrived in Egypt in December 1914, from there arriving on the 7th May 1915 at Gallipoli for the second wave of troops to attempt to take the Cove.

Christian endured life at Gallipoli Cove from May through to August and then part took in another fabled battle, the Battle of Lone Pine between the 6th and 9th of August 1915. The 3rd Battalion suffered great losses in what was a diversionary attack to split the attention of the Germans and the Turks from some larger and more central actions taking place elsewhere.

These attacks by the Anzac were part of a plan known as the ‘August Offensive’. This was aimed at nothing less than victory by the Anzac forces, by driving the enemy from the heights of Chunuk Bair and positioning the Allies for an advance across the peninsula in the Turkish rear.

lp trench 1915

28 August 1915

Sydney Morning Hearald

LONESOME PINE.

HEROIC  FEAT.

FIRST BRIGADE’S WORK.

(FROM CAPTAIN C. E. W. BEAN, OFFICIAL PRESS

REPRESENTATIVE WITH THE AUSTRALIAN

FORCES.)

GABA TEPE, Aug. 18.

An inspection of the Turkish trenches captured at Lonesome Pine has shown what an extraordinarily formidable obstacle the First Australian Infantry Brigade was up against when ordered to take this position. For month upon month we had seen the Turks piling up colossal parapets, and could see that the place was a labyrinth. It was be-cause it was so strong and important, and because we desired to give the Turks a really heavy blow at the southern end of the line, that these trenches were chosen for attack.

The Third Brigade had made a famous assault on the landing; the Second made a wonderful charge at Helles. The First Brigade was therefore chosen to assault Lonesome Pine. It was a tremendous job to put before any brigade, but these Australasian infantry never from first to last showed the least concern about it. I was with them five minutes before the start behind tho parapet over which five minutes hence they knew they would have to scramble in face of rifle fire, machine guns, and shrapnel. They did not know what might be awaiting them in the deadly space between the trenches, but not one man showed the slightest sign of uneasiness. A man would pass along the trench to find his platoon just as a belated spectator might hurry to a seat before the curtain rises. Passing he would recognise some friend.

lone pine cigggie card

“Good-bye, Bill,” he would say; “meet you over there.”

“So long, Tom,” was the reply. “See you again in half-hour.”

“Are you going to got a photograph of us?”they would ask me. “How do you work it on sandbags or through a periscope? What sort of camera is it? My word.  A great chance for a photographer.”

And then conversation was suddenly cut short by the voice of a little officer crouching just below a parapet: “Get ready to go over parapet.”

He glanced down at a wrist watch, and so did I, 5.27. The men crouched up a little higher on the recess, preparing to spring. Those in the trench below got a firmer foothold. The little officer unstrapped a whistle from his wrist, and held it between his teeth. He looked down at his watch again.

The man next me asked “What time is it?” I looked down. “Well, I make it 5.30,” I answered. The bombardment had apparently stopped. A few minutes’ breathless silence, then a whistle sounded. Within a second the little officer had blown his whistle, too.

There was a scramble of feet over the parapet, the sound of falling earth, the knocking of accoutrements, the peck, peck of Mauser rifles from the trench opposite had already begun, and gradually swelled into a rattle. A man fell past me into the trench, bleeding from a wound in the mouth. Out in the scrub a line of our old pea soup Australian khaki was racing, jumping low bushes and wire, straight for the enemy’s trench. When they got there they experienced what in military phraseology is known as a check. That is to say, instead of an open trench into which they could jump and bayonet Turks they found themselves looking down on a solid roof of pine logs, covered with earth on which the bombardment had not made any perceptible impression. This surprise might well enough upset the nerves of some troops, but the behaviour of the First Brigade did not give the onlookers the least cause for anxiety. The men were clearly puzzled what to do, but did not show the least sign of ever thinking of retreat. Some ran on to the second and third trench till they found open trenches where they could fire down and jump in. Others strung out along the first trench, firingin to loopholes from which the Turks were still shooting.

Others jumped down into a few gaps left without head-cover; others noticed small manholes every here and therein the solid roof of the trench, and began to lower themselves into the trench feet fore-most through these, a feat of daring which, it had been a solitary example, would certainly have won the Victoria Cross in any previous war. Those who could not get in simply lay down outside on the parapet, firing down the communication trenches until they could think of something else to do. The first Australian infantry has made itself a wonderful name at Gallipoli.

Certainly no finer feat has been accomplished here than this taking of Lonesome Pine and holding it against a counter-attack-lasting six solid days. New South Wales cannot be too proud of her men.

The Australian naval bridging train has landed with a British force at Suvla Bay.

lone pine 1919

This was a hopeful attempt had all gone to plan, to achieve the original objective of seizing the Straits of the Dardanelles and the Royal Navy could sail triumphantly through to Constantinople.

Shortly after the Battle of Lone pine Christian caught a case of Salmonella Entrica, a form of food poisoning. On the 12th August 1915, he was admitted to the field hospital. He was moved to a hospital, in Heliopolis, suffering from debilitating Shock and the food poisoning. He received 10 days treatment.

The link below is Christian Benzing’s AIF 74 page, service record it is in parts in triplicate and so repeats itself over but you can glean lots of information about the state of his health from it.        

 http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/scripts/Imagine.asp?B=3074656

Like a macabre soap opera reporting about far off places no one could pronounce, mothers all over the country would watch like a hawk the body count reports of the dead or injured that would appear daily in the major papers. Christians’ mother Susanah, living in the family home at Rockdale, in late August 1915 saw his name in the lists. From the battle reports she would have been half out of her mind with worry about her only son. Susanah sent a telegram to the Department of Defence asking about where her son was and they replied they would inform her of more information when they knew.

telegram benzing

Christian was evacuated from Heliopolis Hospital and repatriated back to Australia in November 1915 and arriving back home in December. Christians medical records note his physical ailments from his food poisoning case like stomach pains not eating well regular bowel movements and the like but there is no notations in the records of his mental health. He was medically discharged from the AIF on the 14th March 1916 aged 21, having served his country for 18 months and seen active service for a solid 3 months of that time.

discharge letter

I felt it was important to give as much background information about Christian Benzing  and to explain that there was circumstances not mentioned in the newspaper reports but gleaned from his service record . Almost exactly 9 months after his discharge from the Armed services, with no further medical intervention and displaying the Encephalitic symptoms of Wernicke-Karsakoff’s Syndrome coupled with the  post traumatic stress /shell shock  the following happened…

The Crime

15th January 1917

Ballarat Courier

Murder Alledged

Sydney Saturday. In the Central Police Court this morning Christian William Benzing was held with the murder of Dorothy Myra Small at Rockdale. Benzing a native of New South Wales is a short thick set man 22 years old. Remand until 19th January was granted.

The above medical conditions do no way excuse the seriousness of this crime but possibly more weight could have been taken into account when sentencing this man.

central police station

The Inquest

23 January 1917

Young Examiner.

ROCKDALE HORROR.

WHAT A BOY SAID.

BBNZINO “WRITES TO HIS FATHER

VERDICT OF MURDER.

An Inquest  was held yesterday morning by Mr. Jamieson at the Coroner’s Court, Sydney, concerning the death of Dorothy Myra Small, aged 10, which took place at her home at Rocky Point Road, Rockdale, on January 12th January.

Christian William Benzlng, 22, who has been charged with murdering the girl, was in court.

Mr. ,W. P. Blackmore (Crown Law Office), represented the police, and Mr. E. J. Spear appeared on behalf of Bemzing.

Ernest Albert Small, a cooper, living in Rocky Point Road, Rockdale, stated ‘that .there were seven children in his family. Dorothy was his daughter, and was 10 years of age. She was born at Rockdale. He last saw her alive in Rocky ‘Point Road at 3 p.m. on January 12th 1917.

He was then about 300 yards away from his home. He gave her come money, later in the day, witness, who was working at Rockdale, was told something, and went to the Royal Hotel. A man said, “Your daughter has been murdered and criminally assaulted, come with me. Witness went to the home of Mr; Willoughby, which ls near witness’ place at Rockdale.

On arriving there he saw the daughter who was dead. Witness did not know Christian William Benzing personally, but he remembered seeing him once prior to his daughter’s death.

Dr. Sheldon said that on’ the 13th Instant he made an internal examination of the body of Dorothy Myra Small. She was 4ft. 4in. in height and about 11 years old.

About an inch below and a little anterior to the Jaw angle there were two abrasions, one on each ,side. There was very little bruising underneath these. Below thls on the left side at short intervals there were a few abrasions, which were more diffuse.

Tho upper part of the chest showed some signs of escape of blood into tho tissues. The lower, parts of the body were bruised, and the injuries had been inflicted just before her death.

There were two bruises on the tenor and anterior aspect of the right thigh. Tho lower one was peculiarly marked by certain straight lines. The buckle of a strap produced peculiarly corresponded with the mark on the thigh. The lateral margins were quite distinct. The tongue of the buckle had actually cut into the skin superficially, and a deficiency of leather of the buckle made a triangular gap which was distinctly apparent in the bruise. The roller at the end of the buckle had made a mark by the end of its margin corresponding with the deficiency of the lateral.

There was another “bruise, Dr. Shcldon said above this. It was much deeper in colour, and had a serrated edge, formed by something with more actual points at the end than the general something, which caused the bruise. The bruise itself was about an inch in diameter, There were some other abrasions. One above the left hip had been marked as if by a hand. The little girl’s ‘hair was plaited, and entangled in It, especially on the right side, were numerous -Bathurst burrs, and a good many in her loose hair. There was a spot of candle grease on her left thlgh. There were marks of haemorrhage on the left lung, and the lungs were filled with frothy fluid.

Mr Blackmore: What  was the cause of death?—She died from shock and exhaustion, as the result of strangulation.

Were her finger nails long?—Yes.

ln answer to ‘Mr. Blackmore, the witness said that if the belt produced had been worn by a person violating the deceased It would have made the mark spoken of. The belt would have had to be undone and to “be below where it is normally worn by a man. The marks on the little girls neck could have been made by a man’s fingers.

Dr. Asplnall, who was present when Dr. Sheldon made the post mortem examination, said he agreed with that evidence. Assuming that the “buckle produced had made the mark on the girl’s thigh, it might have been caused during the struggle before the belt was unbuckled. The whole of the injuries, in his opinion, had been inflicted at about the same time, which was shortly before death.

Dr. Meeke, of Rockdale, said he examined the girl at (Rockdale, at about 4.50 p.m. on January 12th. She was dead. He noticed swelling and bruises below tho angle on the left jaw. On moving here there was a copious discharge of blood. There was a large bruise on the upper part of her thigh. Some torn underclothing was shown witness which belonged to the girl.

Dr. J. Cahill, Assistant Government Medical Officer, Sydney, said at 8 o’clock on the evening of January 12th he saw Benzing at the Rockdale Police Station. Benzing was not drunk, but smelt strongly of drink. There were two scratches on Benzlng’s right wrist, which could have been caused by finger nails. Later, witness made an examination of Dorothy Small’s body. ‘He agreed with the evidence given by Dr. Sheldon. At about 9o’clock on the following morning he saw Benzing at the office of the Inspector general of Police, and ‘beyond being more depressed Benzlng appeared in the same state of mind.

Sergeant Stevenson, police .photographer, said he went to Rockdale on January 13th. In company with Constable Langworthy he took a photograph of the place where the body was found. There was a lot of “Paddy’s lucerne” growing there. He took another photograph showing the track of a bicycle wheel from the spot leading to the roadway.

Dr. Oleland, Government Microbiologist, detailed tho results of an examination of certain exhibits. On the man’s’ hat produced he found a trail, the coat was also stained near the right side pocket. There were blood stains on two pieces of girl’s underclothing handed to him by Constable Langworthy.

Mrs. Jessie Amy Small said that about half past three o’clock on the afternoon of January 12th she saw her daughter playing with some other children at the store in Rocky Point Road. On the previous Saturday, she saw a man outside her home, whom she now recognised as Benzlng. He asked her about her son “Herbie.” Witness said, “What’s your name ? He pronounced it and spelt It as “Bensing” At the time Dorothy was not there, but witness’ eldest daughter was present.

Arthur Cyril Willoughby, aged 8,living with his parents in Hegarty Street, Rockdale, who was a playmate of Dorothy Small’s, said to remembered being with a boy named Henry Goodwin on a Friday about a week ago. They were going to the Chinaman’s garden, and while crossing a small bridge saw a girl’s hat In a bush. A few yards away he saw the body of Dorry” Small.

 Just before this he saw a man get up and look around. The man had a bicycle, which had black things on the handles He wheeled the bicycle along the bank of the creek as far as witness’s home, and rode along the avenue. The man was wearing a “black suit, hat and boots. The bushes were about 18 Inches high at the spot.

Mr. BJackmore: Would you know the man if you saw .him?—No.

Mrs. Felicltas “Mary Martha” Willoughby, who lives on the corner of The Avenue and Hegarty Street, Rockdale said that on the afternoon of 12th January her son, Arthur, came running home and said “There’s a man down In the bushes with a little girl, I didn’t know whether she is alive or dead. The man rode away on his bike.

Witness ran towards the creek near the Chinaman’s garden, and found Dorothy Small lying on the grass. The lower part of her body was flat on the ground, although her head was slightly turned to one side. The clothing was disarranged. She was frothing at the nose. “Witness picked her up, but could not carry her, so she sent her son to bring “Mr. Willoughby.

Thomas James Willoughby, a brick maker, said that at about 4.45 p.m. on January 12th his son called out, Come at once, dad, a man has killed a little girl.” He went with his son a distance of about 100 yards, and saw “Mrs. “Willoughby with the child in her arms. Ho took the girl, who was dying to his home.

John Joseph Kain, aged 8, of Rocky Point Road, Kogarah, said that while he was going a message for his mother he saw a boy in Skidmore’s paddock, near the Chinamen’s garden, with a girl. The boy and girl were about three feet apart. The boy then got up and went away with a bicycle. The girl did not move from the-spot.

John Thomas Nicholson, a Blacksmith, of Rocky Point Road, said that at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon he was standing in the entrance of his shop, when he saw Benzing sitting on a bicycle talking to Dorothy Small. They were together for about 10 minutes. Benzing lifted his bicycle onto the footpath, and the two of them walked along past witness’ shop, and disappeared In. the direction of the Avenue.

Arthur Joseph Sweeney, telegraph linesman, said that at about 3:30 he, was working on the telegraph wires in ‘Rocky Point Road. Some children were playing in the garden at a cottage a little distance away. Witness noticed a young man sitting on a bicycle, with one foot on the. pedal, and the other on the gutter, kerb. He now identified Benzing as that man. Benzing was watching the children closely, and one or two youngsters’ said “Dorry’s got a sweetheart.” ,The child referred to as “Dorry” left’ the others, and went over to Benzlng.

“Detective Lynch said that Benzing made a statement at Rockdale Police Station on the night of January 12th. In it Benzlng stated that he had been In Sydney in the morning, but arrived at Farmer’s Hotel, Rocky Point road, at about 2 o’clock, He admitted riding past Smidmore’s bridge twice during the afternoon, adding that he did not speak to any girls, and did not know Dorothy Small. At Mrs. “Willoughby’s residence witness saw Dr. Cahill fit the buckle of a strap, which Benzing had been wearing, into the mark on Dorothy’s Small’s hip. Witness also showed Benzlng the girl’s body and looking at it ho said, No, I don’t know her, but I know her two brothers.” Later Benzlng said, ‘This looks very black against me.” Witness said, “Do you think so’ He then said, “If they find me guilty do you think they will hang me?”

In a letter to her father, written, while under arrest, he wrote:—

“I am sorry for what has happened. I did not hurt the girl wilfully as I do not  know what happened half the time. ‘I could not have been, responsible for my actions and I must have had one of these changes over me again.

In answer to Detective Lynch, Benzing said he had written the letter. The girl referred to in it was Dorothy Small.

Tho “Coroner returned a verdict of murder against Benzlng, who was committed for trial.

 

The Trial

23 March 1917

Sydney Morning Hearld

CENTRAL CRIMINAL COURT.

 (Before Mr. Justice Sly and a Jury.)

Mr. Herbert Harris, Crown Prosecutor.

ROCKDALE MURDER.

Christian William Benzlng pleaded not guilty to a charge of having murdered Dorothy Myra Small at Rockdale on January 12 of this year. Mr. Martin, instructed by Mr. H. E. McIntosh, appeared for the defence, assigned by the Crown.

For the prosecution the case was that the victim was, on the afternoon of January 12, playing with other children near the Rocky Point Road at Rockdale, and that’ accused lured her Into some bushes nearby and outraged her, also maltreating her to such an extent that she died the same day.

 She was found after the offence seriously injured, and was taken to a house. A doctor was sent for, but tho child died before he arrived.

Accused, at the conclusion of the Crown case, made a statement in which he detailed his movements on the day of the murder, and said he had never Interfered with the girl, and had no desire to do so. He had served four months and a half at Gallipoli, and had been drinking on the day of the alleged offence.

The accused was found guilty, and sentenced to death.

The Appeals

14 April 1917

Bendigo Advertiser

ROCKDALE MURDER CASE.

APPEAL REFUSED.

“GUILT CLEARLY ESTABLISHED.”

Sydney, 13th April

Today the Full Court refused the application of Christian William Benzing for leave to appeal against his conviction on a charge of having murdered Dorothy Myra Small at Rockdale.

BENZING was tried before Mr. Justice Sly at the Central Criminal Court, found guilty, and sentenced to death.

The grounds upon which the application was based were that on the day of the alleged murder he had lost his reason, that he had witnesses to call as to his character, that since he had returned from the war, which he blamed for his bad luck, he suffered at times from loss of memory.

Mr. Justice Pring, in delivering the judgement of the court, said that, the evidence clearly established the guilt of Benzing and in the reasons given by him in his application, he had practically admitted that he had committed the offence.

He now set up that he had lost his reason such defence had been put up at the trial. He wished to examine witness’s of his character, but such witnesses had nothing to do with the crime.

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The Hanging

17 June

Sunday Times

ROCKDALE MURDER

BENZING HANGED

YESTERDAY AFTER TWO DAYS

 POSTPONEMENT

Christian William Benzing was hanged yesterday morning for the murder of the child Dorothy Small at Rockdale on January 13. He was to have been hanged on Thursday, but last-moment representations to the Government induced the postponement of the execution, and he was withdrawn from the condemned cell a few minutes before he should have gone on the drop. 

Late on the night of Wednesday a deputation, of which Messrs. Brookfield and Hickey, M.L.A., were members, waited on the Acting Premier (Mr, Fuller), and stated that there was evidence available which would satisfy the Minister that Benzing had been subject to epileptic fits, and at time could not be responsible for his actions.

In other words, there were periods when the man was of unsound mind. This information was not before the Executive when it decided that Benzing should hang on Thursday, and Mr. Fuller took the responsibility of ordering the postponement of the execution. Further consideration was subsequently given the matter by Cabinet, with the result that it was decided not to alter the original decision.

THE STORY OF THE CRIME.

The locality of the assault and murder was a spot within a hundred yards of a group of houses. The child had been playing with other children, almost in sight of her parents’ home, and was on her way to spend a penny given her by her mother, when she was overtaken by Benzing. Shortly afterwards she was found dying in the scrub. There were marks on her throat which showed that she had been held tightly, probably to prevent her crying out, and other marks.

 Benzing was arrested, and at the Coroner’s inquest into the cause of death of the girl a confession by Benzing was read. In this he stated his sorrow, for what had happened, and said he was quite confident in his mind that he did not hurt the child wilfully. He said he forgot half what happened from the time he left the scene of the crime, had felt out of sorts all day, one of his changes (fits) had come over him, and he was not responsible for his actions on the day.

He concluded : ‘God alone knows I am not guilty, and not responsible for my supposed action. Fancy me doing such a thing like that in cold blood. I cannot realise that such a thing could have happened. ‘In the dock at the Central Criminal Court on March 22 the man denied that he had committed the crime, and said he had no recollection of having seen the little girl. He was found guilty.

Three weeks later there was an application to the Full Court of Criminal Appeal for leave to appeal, on the ground that on the day of the crime he had lost his reason, but as this line of defence had not been taken at the trial of the matter, and as the evidence had established the fact of the killing of the child, the application was refused. Benzing is an unknown. He was adopted by his foster-parents in 1895 in answer to an advertisement inserted from an address in the Richmond River country. When a boy he received a sunstroke, which caused him severe pains in the head and rendered him more or less irresponsible at time, subsequently.

 

He enlisted in June, 1915, and took part in the operations at Gallipoli. While there he was tried for assaulting a comrade, but was released on his application to volunteer for a difficult and dangerous service. He contracted fever while with the forces, and was invalided home, and from the time of his return till he was arrested on the charge on which he was convicted lived with his foster-parents at Bexley.

benzing grave

 

      

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