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The Execution of Edward Feeney 1872

THE CRIME

The Argus (Melbourne)

7 March 1872

THE TRAGEDY IN THE TREASURY-GARDENS.

Edward Feeney, the man who was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of shooting the man Charles Marks, who was found dead in the Treasury-reserve, was taken before the City Bench yesterday on a charge of murder. He made no remark, and Mr. F. Stephen appeared on his behalf. The Bench remanded the prisoner to the inquest, which will probably take place this afternoon.

The following further particulars have been obtained :- The two on Tuesday afternoon, about half-past 1, went to the shop of

Mr. Davies, photographer, Bourke-street, and had their portraits taken. They said they wanted to be taken “in action” with

pistols they had, and Mr. Davies jocularly suggested that they should represent bushrangers, and take their coats off. They took

off their coats, and were “larking” with each other, playing with the pistols. One of them suddenly presented a pistol at the head of the operator, and snapped the trigger, but the weapon was not loaded.

Feeney seemed to be aping the swell, and the other was rather sullen. They were taken standing hand in hand, and also in a very curious position which they chose themselves. They stood within arm’s length of each other, face to face, and each pressed the muzzle

of his pistol against the other’s breast.In this position their portraits were taken.

Marks, who was very bounceable, having given a deposit of 10s., had first had his portrait taken alone in a standing position. The two were not sober, and were consequently so unsteady that the photographs were somewhat blurred. They left instructions for a couple of copies of each picture to be prepared. One of them had something like a powder-flask in his pocket. The following is a copy of the

letter found in Mr. Clay’s wine-shop:

“Melbourne, March 6.

My Dear Mother, –

I send you this. You will never hear from me

again. When you hear from Jack Burton

I shall be in eternity. Send out money

to put a headstone to us. Two of us die as

brothers.

P.S. – Leave Louise what you were

intending on leaving me. I can say no

more, and I am, dear, yours while on earth

CHARLEY.

Heaven have mercy, and receive

our souls.”

A young man named Henry James, living at the Great Britain Hotel, Flinders-street, who knew the strange couple, has stated that the cause of the tragic occurrence was the two men being in love with one woman, who was employed at the hospital. Marks told him they were both courting this woman, and that it was not the first time they had fixed their affections upon the same object, both having courted one girl in Portsmouth.

One of these women was a Jewess. Marks tried to prove, in a conversation, that he was unaware of his chum’s being in love with the same girl, and that Feeney was much annoyed at this selection of one woman by both occurring so often,and said that, in consequence, the acquaintance between the two must cease. After Feeney took the poison at the hospital,Marks, who was then on board the Edina,

took some rat poison, but vomited it, and then tried to cut his throat with a razor, but failed. He afterwards said that it was Feeney’s attempt which made him try self destruction, and he told James that he intended suicide, and gave James a letter, which he said was important, for Feeney.

He said, when the Edina got to Warrnambool, he would either go up the country or something surprising would be heard about him. When James remarked on the folly of the proceeding,

Marks said, “Oh, it’s all right,” and rushed away. Marks had the woman in question on board ship on Sunday week, and was very frightened that Feeney should hear of it before Marks himself should tell him.

Feeney and Marks slept in the same room in the Great Britain Hotel on Sunday night, and were heard talking over this double mutual murder, which Marks at other times made no secret of, speaking openly about the proposal.

James is to be a witness at the inquest.

marks feeney 2

THE COURT

The Argus (Melbourne)

18 APRIL 1872

 THE TREASURY-GARDENS MURDER

THE TREASURY-GARDENS MURDER.

Edward Feeney was indicted for the wilful murder of Charles Marks on the 5th March.Mr. O’Loghlen prosecuted; Mr. Moles-worth (who was instructed by the Crown) defended the prisoner.

The witnesses examined for the prosecution were— Dr. W. McCrea, Thos. Ambrose, gardener at the Treasury gardens; Michael Cain, another gardener; Benjamin Bride, caretaker at the gardens; Nicholas Bickford, Crown lands bailiff; John Balfour, police constable; W.A. Bradford, surgeon at the Melbourne Hospital; Dr. Edward Barker; James Stewart, photographer (assistant to Mr. Davies, Bourke street); A. Clay, wineseller, Bourke-street east; Frederick Rutherford, hall porter at the Melbourne Hospital; and Anne Mackenzie, formerly nurse at the hospital, a witness who was only found a few minutes before the case for the Crown was brought to a conclusion.

The case as proved by these witnesses was that Feeney had been for about l8 months a wards man at the hospital. Marks was wards-man for about a year.

Both left about the beginning of February. After Marks left he was employed as steward on board the Edina steamer, and whilst thus engaged he attempted to commit suicide. None of the witnesses spoke of this as to their own knowledge, but Clay said he had heard it. Feeney had also tried to commit suicide by taking laudanum, and Mr. Bradford said there was great difficulty in saving his life. On Sunday, the 3rd March, Feeney and Marks were seen together on board the Edina. On the following Tuesday, about half-past 1, they went together to Mr. Davies, to be photographed. Mr. Davies asked how they wished to be taken. Marks replied that he wished to be taken in action.

Davies answered, “What, as young bushrangers?” Stewart then asked how they would be taken, and Marks said with the pistols pointing at each other. Stewart told them if they wished to get into one carte de visite they must not stand too far apart.

Marks replied, “Oh no, we won’t stand far apart; we want the pistols pointing at the breasts.” They then placed the pistols close to each other’s breasts. They then had another photograph representing each as shaking hands with the other. Feeney objected to the photograph being taken, but, Marks insisted upon it, and spoke in a very commanding voice. Marks then had a picture of himself taken alone.

According to Stewart he was very talkative and excited, Feeney being rather depressed. Between 3 and 4 o’clock on the same day Feeney and Marks went to Clay’s wine-shop. Clay knew them both for about nine months. Marks ordered two glasses of wine. They both went into a sitting room, and Marks got pens and ink from Clay.

Both were engaged for some time in writing. Marks said they were going home. During the conversation that took place Feeney held up a pistol, cocked and loaded apparently to the muzzle, as there was some blue paper sticking out of it. Clay seized hold of the weapon, and Marks told Feeney to put it up. Marks also had a pistol in his breast. As they were leaving the shop, Feeney said, “You’ll see me again this evening, Clay;” to which Marks rejoined, “No, you never shall.” Nothing more was seen of them till about 25 minutes past 4, when the report of a pistol was heard in the Treasury-gardens.

 Dr. McCrea, Ambrose Cain, Balfour, and Bickford, with a number of other persons, rushed to the spot. Feeney and Marks were lying under a large willow, beside an artificial watercourse, or creek. The “creek” was 3in. or 4in. deep, and about 18in. wide.

Both Marks and Feeney were lying on their backs, and about 6ft. distant from each other. Between the two was a loaded pistol, capped and cocked. This pistol was about 2ft. 9in. from Marks, and less than 4ft. From Feeney. Portion of another pistol—the one that was fired, and which had exploded—was found in the creek, about 4ft. From Feeney, and 10ft. from Marks. Marks was  quite dead. His left breast was exposed, portion of his shirt having been on fire. Feeney was lying smoking a cigar. Dr.McCrea asked who shot the deceased. Prisoner replied he shot himself. Cain also asked who shot the deceased, but got no answer. Cain tore off a portion of the burning shirt and threw it into the creek. Some linen material was afterwards picked up there, all scorched, which Cain thought was what he had thrown away.

Bickford also asked the prisoner who shot Marks, and Feeney replied, “We came here to die together. He tried to shoot me, but could not.” Bickford said, “But you shot him though.” To this he made no reply. Bickford expressed an opinion that both were lying down when the shot was fired, as the branch of the willow under which they were was only about 3ft. from the ground.

Balfour, the constable, said that when he arrived he asked Feeney “Are you wounded?” Feeney

took part of a cigar out of his mouth, and said

“No.” The constable, on examining him, found

embedded in the breast of his coat a small

piece of wood, part of the exploded pistol. As

he was pulling out the fragment, Feeney said,

“It’s all right; I’m an old campaigner.”

Balfour also noticed that his right forefinger was cut. He found on him a powder flask, 15s. in silver, a bank pass-book, and three letters—

13th February, from Marks ( To Edward Feeney – Ned) 

27th February, from Marks ( To Edward Feeney – Ned) 

And the 28th February, from a woman, under the signature of “A.”

This last letter Anne Mackenzie acknowledged to be in her writing. It was as follows:—

“Melbourne, 28th February.

” Ned, you wrong me very much when you speak about Marks. I asure [sic] you this would be the last of my thoughts. If there was not a nother man in Melbourne, I would not cast a thought over him. Walk with him that I did twice, but never a gain Ned, let me know When you can see me a gain once more, and then as you like let us be as strangers, and believe to be yours &c, one who Wish you Well. A”

The other letters were .”S S. Edina, 13th February, 1872.

” Dear Ned,

—I have wanted a serious chat with you for some days, and have not had the chance, so I have written what I wanted to say. Ned, we are much alike; placed in this way, we have both lived, but cannot obtain our ambition; therefore we shall both remain single. I want to know if you like me well enough to accede to the proposal I make, that is, to remain fast friends, not friends to-day and to-morrow, but for ever. I do not attempt to deny, but am proud to say, I love you as a brother, and perhaps more, for I don’t know a brother’s love, never having had one, and I know you are fond of me, or at least I hope you are. Ned, we are both getting old enough to look out for the future, so I want us not ever to part. I am, as I told you before, expecting at the death of my poor old mother about £800 to £1,000, but in what way I am to receive it I cannot say; but when I know you shall know also. Of course, when we have sufficient to start business with, we will, that is if you intend to be the friend I desire, which I sincerely hope you do; but think, Ned, if you like me well enough for that; I hope you do. If I go home you come. If you go I come with you, but as we neither have many friends we care much for, I think we might do far worse than be united in close brotherhood. If, as I said before, you can without any scruple say yes, do. I shall be waiting in dread, for fear of no.

Answer this in the same manner, by writing. Hoping, please God, you accede to my proposition, which I’ll close, and believe me to remain your sincere friend until death does part us, Charlie.

I mean every word, and more than is here written,

—Yours, CHARLIE.”

“Don’t be advised by any one, but let it come from your own heart.”

“S.S. Edina,

Tuesday, 27.February

“My dear Ned,

—I was glad you got in all right last night, not but what I should be very glad for you to leave, but I should like you to leave on your own account.

“Ned, you know the strain you were in at — time. Now, as you are my friend, don’t do anything of the sort. If you do I shall not remain long. Ned, now I know the reason of your determination, and that we  are, what by the blessing of God we shall remain, true to the core. I feel happy, and shall sail to-day with a light heart. “Fancy the good reception we gave each other in the morning, and then at night, and that you and I are the same as before. “Ned, for my sake don’t do anything to yourself. When you look at your money you will find you are a note short. Perhaps you remember my taking it. I only took it, Ned, as you should not lose it. When I see you on Friday I will return it. “Hoping you will enjoy every blessing life can afford, I close. I remain yours truly,

“CHARLIE.

“P.S.—My hand shakes so from taking a little too much last night—CHARLIE.”

On Marks were found a D box of percussion caps, a memorandum-book, a bag containing swan shot, two letters, and 14s. 8d. The letters were said by Rutherford, of the hospital, to be in Feeney’s handwriting:—

“Melbourne

February 20th  1872.

“My dear Charlie,—I have at last come to the conclusion to answer your letter, and I dare say you will brand me as one of the most deceitful beings in existence. “I would have replied sooner, but I was trying to battle with myself; and as you noticed me every night so very dull, I suppose you won’t now wonder at the cause. I knew I would have to separate from you, and I did not like to mention it. The cause of my determination must remain a secret; and I trust that any little matters known to you will also remain secret. “Your kindness to me during and since my illness I shall never forget, also your offer last night, which I could not accept. “As I told you, I have come to the conclusion to remain in the hospital, as I consider it would be ungrateful for me to leave after the attention I got during my late illness. “Wishing you ever y happiness that the world can afford, I remain, yours,

“EDWARD.

“Your trunk I shall put a rope on. I dare say Jack will see it safe. Three shirts I have sent to the wash which I shall take an opportunity of forwarding next week. With regard to the little running account between us for tobacco, washing, and cash, let Jack know, and I shall forward it as soon as I possibly can.—E.”

“24th February, 1872.

“Dear Charlie,—

I received yours of the 20th February. I regret much that you should think I am so frivolous as to trifle with your feelings. As I said in my last letter, I am sorry that we should part, but fate has decreed it so, however unpleasant it may be to both of us.

“What I said in mine of 18th inst. I mean. “Trusting you will forget my unkind treatment to you, I remain, &c,

“EDWARD.”

pistol

The loaded pistol was drawn by the constable, who found in it nine swan shot, similar to those found on Marks; the wadding was white paper.

Dr. Barker made the postmortem examination on Marks. He found powder ingrained on the right hand; the left hand was across the breast. There were three gunshot wounds superficial on the left arm—one at the elbow, one in the centre of the fore arm, one about an inch lower down, and one between the thumb and the forefinger.

On the right side of his chest and on the breast there was ingrained powder; on the left side several scars. There were nine perforations in a square of two inches. Three of the shot had passed through the apex of the heart; that was apparently the fatal wound, paralysing the heart’s action.

Two of the pellets had also passed through the stomach and one was found in the liver. Seven of the shots altogether were found; the other two were still in the body. The weapon from which they were fired must have been about two or three feet from the body. The wounds could not have been self-inflicted.

On this evidence, the case for the Crown was shaped thus, that for some reason which could not be explained Marks had a hold over Feeney, and that Feeney was for some reason desirous of getting Marks out of the way. There was also probably some jealousy between them about the girl Annie. Whatever may have been the motive, there was little doubt that it was by Feeney’s hands that Marks came to his death.

That Marks inflicted the wounds himself was disproved by the evidence. There could be only two lines of defence. One that Feeney was insane—of this there was not a shadow of evidence, and the jury might dismiss it from their consideration—the other that the shot was fired in self defence.

But this was contradicted by Feeney’s own statement that Marks had tried to shoot him and failed, whether from want of nerve or having changed his mind did not appear. As to both persons determining to commit a sort of cross murder, the law was clear that where parties went out with such a design and only one was killed, the survivor was guilty of murder.

Mr. MOLESWORTH addressed the jury for the defence, remarking that the difficulties of his position were considerably increased by the

fact that neither he nor the attorney could get the prisoner to give any account of the transaction which would guide them in shaping the defence.

All he could do, there-fore, was to watch the case, and to make such suggestions on the evidence as might assist the jury in arriving at a just decision.

He contended, first, that Marks inflicted the wounds himself; and, secondly, that on the evidence the only conclusion to be arrived at

was that Feeney was insane. Feeney had no motive whatever for committing the crime.

He appeared to have been very friendly with Marks—so friendly that Marks offered to share £1,000 with him. Was it likely that he would voluntarily kill a person who was on such terms of friend- ship with him. The motives of jealousy were altogether disproved, for till the last both were on very friendly terms.

That he never contemplated committing any crime was shown by his telling Clay he would see him again that evening. He argued, therefore, that Marks had killed himself; and that unless it was shown Feeney had persuaded or encouraged him to the act, he could not be found guilty. Instead of Feeney encouraging Marks, all the evidence was that Marks was the one who possessed the most influence.

As to his insanity, he urged that it was not probable any one in his right senses would commit such an act, and Feeney’s whole demeanour from the time of the occurrence till that hour was proof of his not being in his right mind. Of all the persons who were in court Feeney was the one who was most unmoved at this trial. He concluded by asking the jury to find the prisoner not guilty on the ground of insanity, when he would be confined in a lunatic asylum for the rest of his life.

Mr. O’LOGHLEN submitted that the jury could not consider the question of insanity, as there was no evidence of it.

His HONOUR, in summing up, said that there were two defences—one that Marks did the act himself, the other insanity. The latter might be disposed of at once. Evidence should hve been brought forward for the defence to show his state of mind before and

after the occurrence. It would never do to say that a man was insane because he committed a crime, otherwise there would be a direct encouragement to crime, and the more atrocious the offence, the more reason for saying a man was insane. It would be said that a sane man would never murder his mother, nor a sane clergyman murder his wife.

The question of the prisoner’s sanity need not therefore be gone into. The other question was whether Marks destroyed himself. It was said, that as these two were friends, why should Feeney kill the other, and kill a man who offered to share £1,000 with him.

But look at Feeney’s letter, in which he declined the offer. The inference from it was, that he was trying to get rid of Marks—possibly in a gentle way, still that he was trying to edge off from him. Marks’s letters were all more warm than those of the other. There was no doubt that all through that day of the 5th March the prisoner was under Marks’s influence. Marks was the spokesman on all occasions, and once insisted on him doing what he wanted.

All through there was for some reason a dominance by Marks  over the prisoner. The law as to two persons going out with a common purpose of taking away their lives was this—that if one died, and the survivor, repenting at the last moment, saved his own life, the law would demand that life from him afterwards.  But the case for the Crown was not put on that footing; and it would be better, therefore, for the jury only to consider it in the aspect in which the Crown did present it, namely, whether the wounds were self-inflicted or not. If they found that Feeney fired the shot, they ought to find him guilty.

The jury, after deliberating 20 minutes, returned into court with a verdict of “Guilty,” The foreman of the jury stated that the scorched linen handed to them as part of the deceased’s shirt was really part of a handkerchief.

In reply to the usual question as to what he had to say why sentence should not be passed upon him, prisoner said he had nothing to say. His HONOUR, addressing the prisoner, said:

I really have not much to say to you. But I do think that if the statement you made is true, that both of you went out to die together, it was a cowardly act on your part when you found that the deceased’s life was gone you did not take the pistol and blow your own brains out.

Probably this is the severest thing I could say to you. But it was a cowardly thing of you to go there at all; and it was cowardly in you not to per- form your part that you had agreed to do.

You took his life when he could not return the fire. What your motives were for going there are inscrutable; they are known only to you and to him, but they must have been powerful motives.

Prisoner was then sentenced to death in the usual form. He was removed to gaol; and was as much unmoved by the sentence

as by anything that occurred during the trial.

The Court adjourned till next day.

POST CASE EDITORIAL

The Argus (Melbourne)

19 April  1872

THE EDITOR

We have always been of opinion that a judge should feel himself capable of rising superior to public opinion when  his duty demands that he should do so. This virtue, however, may be exaggerated into a vice, and we fear that his Honour Mr. Justice WILLIAMS is prone to such amplification of the judicial faculty.

The way in which his Honour elects to ride roughshod over the proprieties of the Bench has become of late unpleasantly marked. Not long since we were compelled to remark upon the eccentric notions of his Honour as evinced in his sentence of DRAPER, and now a still more startling evidence of his peculiarity of temper has been thrust upon us by his alarming utterances when sentencing FEENEY on Wednesday for the murder of MARKS. 

There is no need to comment upon the merits of the case. It appears from the evidence that FEENEY and MARKS went into the Treasury-gardens resolved upon mutual murder. Each was simultaneously to fire at the other, and so bring about simultaneous death. It would seem that—whether by accident or design —we do not pretend to say—FEENEY fired first, and shot his companion. The jury properly found a verdict of ” Wilful Murder,” and it became the [duty] of Mr. Justice WILLIAMS to pass the just [unclear] sentence of the law upon the survivor of this strange duel.

His Honour seizes the opportunity of displaying his opposition to commonplace views on the subject of suicide, by indulging in the following observations upon the conduct of the prisoner :-

” I ” really have not much to say to you ;

” but I do think that if the statement  you ” made is true, that if both of you went ” out to die together, it was a cowardly “act on your part, when you found ” that the deceased’s life was gone, that ” you did not take the pistol and blow ” your own brains out. Probably this “is the severest thing I could say to ” you.” It seems to us to be the most foolish thing that could possibly be said to anybody.

Whatever may be the private opinion of Mr. Justice WILLIAMS on the question of the cowardice of a man who refuses to kill himself after having failed to be killed by somebody else, the Bench is of all places in the world the precise spot where he should have refrained from

uttering such a sentiment. Suicide is recognised by the English law as a punishable crime, and for a judge to publicly call a man a coward because he did not break the law is an indefensible piece of folly. But when we remember that this judge was at that instant addressing a murderer for the purpose of sentencing him to death the folly becomes a public scandal which cannot fail to bring discredit upon the judicial office.

 We wonder how Mr. Justice WILLIAMS will justify himself when it next becomes his duty to reluctantly punish some courageous person for “an attempt at suicide.”

The law of partnership seems to have been intruding itself into his Honour’s mind, and having a dim recollection that by civil law a  ” contracting party ” is compelled to perform his contract in all particulars the unfortunate dulness of his reasoning faculty induces him to apply the argument to murder. If Mr. Justice WILLIAMS is determined to bring his office into contempt, nothing that we can hope to say will turn him from his purpose. We can only regret that we are charged with the painful duty of recording such exhibitions of indiscreet whimslcality —prejudicial alike to the Bench and to society at large.

VictorianCollections-medium

The Argus (Melbourne)

7 May 1872

The condemned man Edward Feeney, who  is to be executed on Tuesday morning for the murder of Charles Marks in the Treasury- gardens, still maintains the reticent and  almost indifferent demeanour which has  characterised him since the day of his conviction.

During the last week he received a letter from his mother in Ireland, which   he was permitted to answer, and a re- quest he made for the contents of his Communication to be kept secret, was com- plied with by the authorities. The Rev. Mr. Lordan and another Roman Catholic clergy- man attend regularly on the prisoner, who pays earnest attention to their ministrations. In the course of the week Feeney was visited by an old soldier comrade of the 18th Regi- ment, to which Feeney formerly belonged, and also by Miss Annie McKenzie, with whom Feeney and Marks were acquainted. He declined taking any exercise on Thursday and Friday, and seemed rather duller than usual, but on Saturday he again took the usual exercise allowed to prisoners in his situation.

 The warrant for his execution has been received by Mr. Costieau.

 THE HANGING

The Argus (Melbourne)

14 May 1872

Edward Feeney will be executed at 10 o’clock this morning for the murder of Charles Marks, which was committed in the Treasury-gardens. The condemned man was last night calm, self-possessed, and cheerful. After 9 o’clock last evening Mr. Castieau, Governor of the gaol, remarked to him that he was glad to see him so cheerful; and Feeney replied that he was quite resigned to his fate, but that he wished before dying to state calmly that there was not the slightest ground for the suspicion which he was told existed that there had been any relations beyond those of ordinary friendship between him and Marks.

He thought it was unfair that any reports damaging to his character should have been circulated without his being given an opportunity of disproving them. He then spoke disparagingly of Marks, and said the latter had professed to be very fond of him, and was very troublesome in consequence. He requested that this statement should be made public, and Mr. Castieau promised that it should.

He was then advised to get asleep, and said he would go to bed in about an hour.

Mr. Castieau states that, from his experience of the manner of condemned criminals, especially Catholics, immediately before execution, and from the solemn manner in which Feeney spoke, he believes that what he said was true. This statement, it maybe observed, even if true, does not affect the question of the murder, except in so far as it tends to remove one motive which has been assigned for the crime.

The Argus (Melbourne)

15 May 1872

The execution of Edward Feeney for the murder of Charles Marks in the Treasury- 
gardens on the 6th March last, took place yesterday morning in the Melbourne Gaol at 
the appointed hour of 10 o’clock. The sheriff (Mr. W. Wright) was present, as were also the
governor of the gaol, Drs. Barker and Moloney, the representatives of the press, and 
a few other persons.

When the prisoner stepped out of his cell he appeared to be quite resigned to the awful punishment about to be  inflicted upon him, and submitted to the pinioning operations of Bamford without any visible signs of emotion or fear. The Rev. Mr. Lordan, the Roman Catholic chaplain of the gaol, who had been in close attendance on the prisoner all the morning, read prayers during the whole time he was on the scaffold. When the drop had fallen there were slight spasmodic muscular contractions of the body, which lasted for about two minutes, 
but it did not seem that there were any remains of life, or that the contractions 
were different from what are sometimes seen in the bodies of other strongly-formed men in 
similar positions.

All the particulars of the history of the deceased man which are known in this colony have been already published. He was born in Ireland in 1834, came out to Victoria with the 18th Regiment, in which he was a private, in the year 1853, and was for some time latterly employed in the Mebourne Hospital. No public confession was made by him excepting the statement to Mr. 
Castieau published in yesterday’s Argus, in which he denied another crime that had commonly been imputed to him besides that of murder. 

marks feeney 1

THE WEEKLY

18th  MAY 1872

THE EXECUTION OF FEENEY

On Tuesday morning the sentence of death was carried out against Edward Feeney, the man who murdered Charles Marks, in the Treasury Gardens, in March last.

The attendance within the gaol was confined to a limited number of persons, consisting chiefly of those whose professional, duties required .their attendance, and -a. Few others who had gamed admission from motives of curiosity.

There were groups /of people outside the gaol at the time announced for the execution sufficiently large to remind one of those happily bygone days when the

Horsemonger lane gaol and Newgate presented the horrid spectacle of a malefactor swinging in mid air over the heads of the assembled thousands.

The postern door of the .gaol was also besieged by applicants for admission ; but none were let in without showing some good reason why they should be so.

At 10 o’clock the door of the condemned cell was opened for the exit of Feeney, who was preceded by Father Lordan.

The culprit displayed as much indifference as a man possibly could who knew that in another five minutes he would be dangling a

Corpse  at .the end of a few yards of rope.

 The state of mind that enabled him to coolly indulge in a cigar on the broad of his back in the Treasury Gardens, while yet the smoke from his murderous pistol was wreathing above the body of his murdered comrade— the apathy that made him, apparently, the most indifferent man present at the coronial inquiry into the cause of Marks’s death — the unconcern that enabled him to stand in the doek unmoved when the sentence of death was passed upon him, characterised him to the last. The ruling passion of the man was strong in death. His face was perhaps a little blanched, but he submitted to be bound with as much complacence as an ordinary mortal would be able to bear the application of the tailor’s tape to measure  him for new – suit of clothes.

 He muttered the responses to the priest’s ghostly consolations, walked to the middle of the drop with, a firm step, and stood there, seemingly as a matter of course.

Bamford then stepped quickly aside pulled towards him an iron lever like the switch on a railway line, and Feeney was shunted in to Eternity On Monday the man denied the filthy rumours in circulation respecting him and requested tint they might be publicy contradicted

Feeney came to this.colony in the ship Elizabeth Anne Bright in 1863. He was a native of Ireland and had a soldier in the 18th Regiment. His colonial career has been  placed before the public in detail recently.

THE WAGGA WAGGA EXPRESS

18th MAY 1872

THE EXECUTION OF FEENEY

Edward Feeney, themurderer, found guilty at the last Melbourne Criminal Sessions of shooting Charles Markes at the Treasury Gardens in March last, expiated his offence on the scaffold inside the Melbourne Gaol, according to law, at 10 o’clock on Tuesday morning, and a more painfully imposing scene is scarcely possible to be realised.

The terrible ordeal of publicly choking criminals has happily been discontinued in this country, yet the substitute of the private spectacle is none the less revolting, nor less fearful to contemplate, by those whose duty requires their presence on such occasions; and the ceremony of Tuesday morning was, indeed, a very painful one to look upon.

A man in the prime of life pinioned, and with the noose of a rope round his neck, dropping into eternity—not so, however, in this case, for the unfortunate man struggled for fully three minutes after the fatal rope had extended to its length, so clumsily had the mechanical part of the operation been performed by the common hangman, Bamford, who is himself at present undergoing a sentence of imprisonment for vagrancy. The particulars of Feeney’s case are so fresh in the memory of our readers that it is unnecessary to repeat any portion of them to-day.

Since his conviction, the prisoner has maintained the most stolid silence and indifference as to his fate, and also as to the crime of which he has been found guilty, neither admitting his guilt nor protesting his innocence in reference to it. And this determination on his part was maintained to the last. He was visited yesterday by the young woman Annie McKenzie, whose name has been mentioned as having been acquainted with both Marks and Feeney. He slept well during the whole of last night.

He was up early this morning, when he was at once visited by the Rev. Father Lordan, whose spiritual ministrations to the unfortunate man since his conviction have been most consoling and unremitting. When the hour appointed for carrying the sentence into effect (10 o’clock) arrived, the sheriff, the representatives of the press, and a few gentlemen authorised by Mr. Sheriff Wright, were admitted to the gaol, when the formal demand of the governor of the gaol, Mr Castieau, delivering the body of Feeney to the sheriff was gone through.

he was led from the condemned cell, which is immediately opposite the drop, to the platform of execution, the Rev. Father lord on still administering the consolatory assurances of his church, the prisoner appearing quite penitent and audibly repeating the prescribed responses. Bamford, having completed his arrangements, shook the prisoner by the left hand, and then let the long white cap over the man’s face, after which the fatal bolt was drawn, and the unfortunate man was on his way to eternity. Feeney struggled visibly by raising up his legs and dropping them down again. For fully three minutes he did this four or five times, and appeared as if suffering from cramp. The upper portion of the body gave no sign of animation.

Besides those mentioned, Dr. Maloney, the resident medical officer, Mr. Castieau, Governor, and several officers of the gaol, were present at the execution, and, the necessary certificate having 
been given and attested by several of those present, the awful ceremony had concluded. We learn the following particulars of the prisoner from the gaol 
register: —

His name was Edward Feeney, aged thirty-eight years, born in Ireland, arrived in this colony by the ship Elizabeth A. Bright, in 1863, had been in the 18th Royal Irish Regiment; he was 5ft 6in. high, stout make, fresh complexion, dark brown hair and blue eyes, a Roman Catholic, and could read and write  well.

He was admitted to the gaol on the 7th of March, on committal for trial for the murder for which he has suffered. During the last few days of his life he has been most anxious to leave the impression that he is entirely innocent of the charges made against him in connection with the unfortunate victim, and he wished this to be understood, although he made no actual denial of details in direct terms. He never once alluded to the terrible tragedy in the Treasury Gardens, and has remained doggedly reticent to the last.

He received a letter by the last mail from his mother in Ireland, which he has replied to, and the answer is now in Mr. Castieau’s hands for transmission by the next outgoing mail; but, as he requested specially that Mr. Castieau would not divulge its contents, we are, of course, unable to say anything about them. It is Mr. Castieau’s belief, from thought and close observation, that the man Feeney murdered Marks with premeditation and deliberation, and that, if ever man did, he has justly suffered for his crime.—Melbourne Argus.

THE AGE

20TH May 1872

The cast of Feeney’s head, exhibited in the window of the Waxworks Exhibition has attracted a large number of gazers. It is stated that the proprietor has obtained the actual hair and beard of Feeney to place on his wax model.

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The Execution of Alexander Pearce 1824

Hobart gaol

The Execution of Alexander Pearce 1824

These crimes occurred at a time in Australian History when newspapers were in there infancy and accounts of these events are sparse by modern standards. Alexander Pearce had been sent to one of the most notorious hell holes of a penal colony in the history of Australia.

The after the initial shock of transportation, Convicts in Australia felt that they had landed on their feet there was many letters sent to the homeland encouraging family members of Convicts to steal something and get themselves sent out to Australia. The British establishment decided to send a harsher Governor. In 1822 Governor Brisbane established a penal colony in Morton Bay to be a Prison within a Prison. This colony had a weather pattern so pleasant it kind of defeated its purpose. Governor Brisbane next established a Penal colony in the inhospitable and geographically isolated Macquarie Harbour on the western coast of Tasmania. Bleak is not putting a too fine a point on this place. This is where Alexander Pearce was sent as he was a repeat offending absconder.

To quote Mark Twain, Australian History is made of the most delicious lies, or rather  that the truth is stranger than fiction, to imagine that a prisoner confessed to eating his fellow escapees to be not believed and sent back to the prison camp to do it again is one of those particular and peculiar Australian historical moments.

The newly established Supreme Court of Tasmania cast it first death sentence on Alexander Pearce and was hung in Hobart gaol 1824.

young hobart

THE TRIAL

Hobart Town Gazette
25/6/1824
THE SUPREME COURT,
OF VAN DIEMEN’S LAND.
Alexander Pearce, a convict, was arraigned for the murder of a fellow-prisoner named Thomas Cox, at or near King’s River, in the month of November last, and he pleaded—Not Guilty.
The circumstances which were understood to have accompanied the above crime had long been considered with extreme horror. Report had associated the prisoner with cannibals; and recollecting as we did, the vampire legends of modern Greece, we confess, that on this occasion, our eyes glanced in fearfulness at the being who stood before a retributive Judge, laden with the weight of human blood, and believed to have banquetted on human flesh! It was, therefore, with much satisfaction we heard His Majesty’s ATTORNEY- GENERAL, whilst candidly opening his case for the prosecution, entreat the Jury to dismiss from their minds all previous impressions against the prisoner; as, however justly their hearts must execrate the fell enormities imputed to him, they should dutiously judge him, not by rumours—but by indubitable evidence.
The Learned Gentleman then proceeded to detail, certain confessions made by the prisoner, before the late much-lamented Lieutenant CUTHBERTSON, (Commandant at Macquarie Harbour), and at his examination by the Rev. ROBERT KNOPWOOD—confessions which, although in some respects inconsistent, would yet, when coupled with all the facts, merit the most serious attention.

From them it appeared, that as other evidence would prove the prisoner and the deceased, on the 13th November, absconded from their duty into the woods, each of them taking his axe, and the prisoner being heavily ironed;—that they for several days wandered on without provision and reduced by weakness, until, on the following Sunday evening, the deceased and prisoner arrived at King’s River;—a quarrel then arose because the deceased could not swim, and after prisoner had struck him on the head three times with his axe, the deceased seeing him about to go away (his irons having been knocked off), said, in a faint voice, “for mercy’s sake come back, and put me out of my misery!” Prisoner struck him a fourth blow, which immediately caused death; he then cut a piece off one thigh, which he roasted and ate, and after putting another piece in his pocket, he swam across the river, with an intent to reach Port Dalrymple.
Soon afterwards, however, he became so overwhelmed with the agonies of remorse, that he was constrained to recross the river, and, on seeing a schooner under weigh from the Settlement, he made a signal-fire, which on being seen, induced the pilot boat to put off and take him on board. He was then conveyed to the harbour, where he publicly owned the murder, and said “he was willing to die for it.
The Attorney-General concluded a thrilling tale of almost incredible barbarity, by calling Thomas Smith, who swore, that in November last he was coxswain to the Commandant at Macquarie Harbour; he knew the prisoner and the deceased; they absconded from Logan’s gang on the 13th; on the 22d, Pearce made his signal fire on the beach, near King’s River, and was taken back to the Settlement; he said Cox had died, and he had cut off a bit of his flesh to show what had become of him.
Witness, on the following day was ordered by the Commandant to go with prisoner, and get Cox’s body; he went, and it was found. The head was away, the hands cut off, the bowels were torn out, and the greater part of the breech and thighs gone, as were the calf of the legs, and the fleshy parts of the arms. Witness said to the prisoner, “how could you do such a deed as this?” he answered, “no person can tell what he will do when driven by hunger.” Witness then said, “Where is the head?” the answer was, “I left it with the body.” Witness searched for and found it a few yards off under the shade of a fallen tree; witness then picked up what appeared to be the liver of the deceased, and an axe stained with blood, on which prisoner was asked “if that was the axe with which he had killed Cox,” and he answered, “it was.” The fragments of the body were quite naked; near them were some pieces of a shirt, and the cover of a hat.
There had been a fire near the body, and not far from it lay a knife, which witness picked up. The body was then placed in two rugs, and witness, with the prisoner, returned to the Settlement. Prisoner on being asked “where Cox’s hands were,” said “he had left them on a tree where the boat landed;” a search was then made for them, but they could not be found.

Prisoner said, “he had cut off Cox’s flesh to support him on his intended journey to Port Dalrymple, but when he had crossed the river, something came over him, and forced him to return; he threw the flesh into the river, made a sign, and gave himself up.”

William Evans, of the Waterloo schooner, had gone on shore to take the prisoner, who said, ” Cox was drowned in the King’s River.” Prisoner’s hands were fastened, and his pockets searched, in one of which was a piece of flesh; he was asked “what that was?” and said, “it’s a piece of Cox, and I brought it to show that he is lost.”Witness heard the Commandant say to prisoner, “tell me, Pearce, did you do the deed?” prisoner answered “yes, and I am willing to die for it.” Witness asked him “why he had killed Cox ?” he said, “I’ll tell no man, until I am going to suffer.”

Many other witnesses were then called, who corroborated the above depositions in every essential point; and proved, that the clothes and hat, worn by the deceased when he absconded, were those which the prisoner wore when he was taken on board the pilot boat; but that the hat covering had been taken off.

The prisoner’s written confessions were afterwards most fairly commented on by the CHIEF JUSTICE, who addressed the Jury at considerable length with much solemnity, and submitted to their consideration, whether or not it was fully proved that the deceased had died from blows inflicted by the prisoner? and then, even if he had so died, whether, as a quarrel had been stated to have occurred before death, the prisoner was guilty of the crime charged, or of manslaughter? The Jury retired for a short time, and found a verdict of—Guilty.

alex pearce d sent

THE HANGING
24/7/1824
Hobart Town Gazette
Executions.—On Monday, Alexander Pearce, for murder, and yesterday, John Butler, for sheep stealing, John Thompson, Patrick Connolly, James Tierney and George Lacey, for burglary and highway robbery, were executed in this town pursuant to their sentence

Pearce’s body was, after it had been suspended the usual time, delivered at the hospital for dissection. We trust these awful and ignominious results of disobedience to law and humanity will act as a powerful caution; for blood must expiate blood and the welfare of society imperatively requires, that all whose crimes are so confirmed, and systematic, as not to be redeemed by lenity, shall be pursued in vengeance and extirpated with death !

We have reason to expect that by next week, we shall, through the kindness of an esteemed Clergyman, be empowered to communicate some extensive information, of a very interesting kind, respecting the murderer Pearce!

pearce 1

THE PREIST’S ACCOUNT OF THE CONDEMNED MANS CONFESSION
6/8/1824
Hobart Town Gazette
ALEXANDER Pearce. –
In our Paper the week before last we noticed the execution of this criminal for the Murder of Thomas Cox, the leading facts of whose untimely death have already been reported in this Gazette. From much respected Gentleman, in whose Knowledge and veracity the most un-bounded confidence may be placed, we derive the following particulars, which it is to be hoped may excite a proper feeling among that class of society to which it is earnestly addressed:-

The Rev. Mr. Connolly, who attended this unfortunate man, administering to him the consolations of Religion, addressed the crowd assembled around the scaffold, a few minutes before the fatal drop was let to fall, in words to the following effect:- He commenced by stating, that Pearce, standing on the awful entrance into eternity on which he was placed, was desirous to make the most public acknowledgment of his guilt, in order to humble himself, as much as possible, in the sight of God and Man; – that, to prevent any embarrassment which might attend Pearce in personally expressing himself, he had requested and directed him to say, that he committed the murder of Cox, under the following circumstances:

Having been arrested here, after his escape from Macquarie Harbour, Pearce was sent back to that Settlement, where the deceased (Cox) and he were worked together in the same gang. Cox constantly entreated him to runaway with him from that Settlement, which he refused to do for a length of time. Cox having procured fishhooks, a knife, and some burnt rag for tinder, he at last agreed to go with him, to whom he was powerfully induced by the apprehension of corporal punishment, for the loss of a shirt that had been stolen from him. For the first and second day they strayed through the forest – on the third made the beach, and travelled towards Port Dalrymple until the fifth, when they arrived at King’s River.

pearce 2

They remained, for three or four days, in an adjoining wood to avoid soldiers who were in pursuit of them, and were all the time, from the period they started, without a morsel teat. Overcome by famine, Pearce determined to take Cox’s life, which he effected by the stroke of an axe while Cox was sleeping. Soon after the soldiers had departed, Pearce occupied the place they had been in, where he remained part of a day and a night, living on the mutilated remains of Cox; he returned to the Settlement, made signal, and was taken up by the pilot, who conveyed him to Macquarie Harbour, where he disclosed to the Commandant the deed he had done, being weary of life, and willing to die for the misfortunes and atrocities into which he had fallen.
The Rev. Gentleman then proceeded to state, that he believed it was in the recollection of every one present, that eight men had made their escape, last year, from Macquarie Harbour. All these, except Pearce, who was of the party, soon perished, or were destroyed by the hands of their companions. To set the public right respecting their fate, Pearce is desirous to state, that this party, which consisted of himself, Matthew ravers, Bob Greenhill, Bill Cornelius, Alexander Dalton, John Mathers, and two more, named Bodnam and Brown, escaped from Macquarie Harbour in two boats, taking with them what provision the coal-miners had, which afforded each man about two ounces of food per day, for a week.

Afterwards they lived eight or nine days on the tops of tea-tree and peppermint, which they boiled in tin-pots to extract the juice. Having ascended a hill, in sight of Macquarie Harbour, they struck a light and made two fires. Cornelius, Brown, and Dalton placed themselves at one fire, the rest of the party at the other; those three separated, privately, from the party, on account of Greenhill having already said that lots must be cast for someone to be put to death, to save the whole, from perishing.

Pearce does not know, personally, what became of Cornelius, Brown and Dalton; – he heard that Cornelius and Brown reached Macquarie Harbour, where they soon died, and that Dalton perished on his return to that Settlement. – After their departure, the party, then consisting of five men, lived two or three days on wild berries, – and their kangaroo jackets, which they roasted; at length they arrived at Gordon’s River, where it was agreed, that while Mathers and Pearce collected fire-wood; Greenhill, and Travers should kill Bodnam, which they accordingly did. It was insisted upon that everyone should partake of Bodnam’s remains, lest, in the event of their ultimate success to obtain their liberty, any of them might consider himself innocent of his death, and give evidence against the rest. After a day or two, they all swam across the river, except Travers, whom they dragged across by means of a pole, to which he tied himself. Having spent some days in distress and famine, it was proposed to Pearce, by Greenhill and Travers, that Mathers be killed, to which he agreed.
Travers and Pearce held him while Greenhill killed him with an axe. Living on the remains of the deceased, which they were hardly able to taste, they spent three or four days, through weakness, without advancing beyond five or six miles, Travers being scarcely able to move from lameness and swelling in his foot. –

Greenhill and Pearce agreed to kill Traver’s, which Greenhill did, while Pearce collected fire-wood. Having lived some time on the remains of Travers, they were for some days without any thing to eat – their wants
Were dreadful – each strove to catch the other off his guard, and kill him. Pearce succeeded to find Greenhill asleep – took his life – and lived on him for four days. He was afterwards for three days without any sustenance – fell in, at last, with the Derwent River, and found some small pieces of opossums, &c. at a place where the Natives had lately made fires. More desirous to die than to live, he called out, as loudly as he could, expecting the Natives would hear him, and come to put an end to his existence! Having fallen in with some bush-Rangers, with whom he was taken, Pearce was sent back to Macquarie Harbour, from whence he escaped with Cox, as has been already stated, for whose death he is now about to suffer.

Alluding particularly to those who ought to be deterred from the commission of crime by examples like the present, how often, said the Rev. Mr.Conolly, does the justice of Providence bring to light the dark deeds of death and how frequently do we see it verified, that “Whoever sheds the blood of Man by Man shall his blood be shed !” Having stated that the unfortunate Pearce was more willing to die than to live, he concluded by entreating all persons to offer up their prayers, and beg of the Almighty to have mercy upon him

PEARCE SKULL

 

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The Execution of Nicholas Baxter 1907

darlo nosey  bob

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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