The Execution of Fredrick Bailey Deeming 1892
From all accounts, that I have looked into, Frederick Bailey Deeming (1853-1892), appears to be a socio path and serial killer long before those terms had been coined.
He was a self gratifying murderer, fraudster, braggard and bigamist. The retelling of his story will at times leave more questions unanswered than answers. He went by many names and smoozed and faked many occupations in his travels. He weaved many a tale about his past as it suited him at the time, making the facts and the fictions hard to separate. Many of these tales were disputed by his brother Albert at the time of his last arrest.
He married 3 times and was about to marry a fourth woman when apprehended, his victims were his wives and his four children. He was widely travelled, and came out to Australia from the UK several times, he was caught for some of his minor offences in various countries and spent some time in various prisons. This relentless travelling and name changing aided with his subterfuge for both murder and bigamy. He was known to have at least 8 aliases.
He has been accredited as one of the Jack the Ripper suspects. I will concentrate on his exploits and offences carried out in Australia as this is where his final undoing was detected and where he was eventually executed.
On Deeming’s last trip to Australia he murdered his most recent wife, Emily Lydia Mather and buried near the fireplace of No. 57 Andrews Street, Windsor (Victoria), the body being discovered after he had left the State, for Southern Cross in Western Australia, changing his name to Baron Swanston.
57 Andrews street Windsor as it is today
Upon his arrest there was a frenzy of hysterical press coverage and it could be fairly said that this was the first incidence of trial by media in Australia.
On 3 March 1892 the distinctive smell of death was emminating from 57 Andrew Street leading to the discovery of Emily Mather’s body.
A banquet invitation from Rainhill (UK) in the name of A. O. Williams was also found in the house and around this same time (16 March 1892), the bodies of Deemings first wife and four children were found within a recently cemented floor of the Dinham Villa at the Rainhill premises. On 11 March 1892 Deeming was arrested at Southern Cross, Western Australia.
THE WINDSOR MURDER.
Further particulars of the Windsor murder shows that the body was built in in cement under the hearthstone, which was evidently done by an expert workman. The tenant of the cottage has not yet been traced.
He was more than once seen seen at home with a female companion, about 35years of age, fair complexion, and light hair, who was showily dressed. The supposed murderer is of gentlemanly appearance, medium height, square shoulders, wore light moustache, and in appearance generally was a Swede or Norwegian, but betrayed no foreign accent. He had plenty of money, sovereigns and notes. The parties had evidently only just arrived from a long sea voyage, as they had sent a large quantity of linen to be washed.
THE WINDSOR MURDER
About half-past seven last Friday evening the following message came through from
Western Australia to Melbourne:
“Perth, Western Australia,
“March 11, 1892.
“Telegram for the Chief Commissioner of Police, Victoria.
“Williams, alias Swanson. arrested today at Southern Cross. Arrive here next week. Send officer to identify, &1BO original warrant and information.
“(Signed) “G. PHILLIPS, Commissioner.”
This was the first news of the arrest of the Windsor murderer, and it was at once handed to the police authorities, to whom it caused no small satisfaction. There was some delay in handing it to the press, but by midnight it had been wired through to the leading dailies inthe other colonies.
THE WINDSOR MURDER CASE.
The more the circumstances revealed in connection with the Windsor murder case are studied the greater is the horrible fascination which the tragedy creates.
The display of public feeling has been phenomenal, and what was written of as “The Windsor Mystery “in small paragraphs less than three weeks ago has already filled many scores of columns, whilst the sensational story has been circulated throughout the British dominions.
Beside so general a manifestation of popular feeling the excited demonstrations begotten by the atrocious Sullivan murders in New Zealand at the Hokitika gold rush and by the villany of the Kelly Gang of bushrangers in Victoria during1879 seem very ordinary and tame.
There can be little doubt that if Williams or Swanston had been in the United States instead of in Australia he would before now have been unceremoniously tried by Judge Lynch and executed as summarily by the mob. Fortunately for the interests of justice and of human life the thirst for blood which so characterizes the American people in their treatment of such cases is not a distinguishing feature of the Australian.
Here even the most graceless criminal is sure of a fair trial. The unprecedented character of the proceedings of Williams have caused his case to be quite exceptionally treated, and less than this could not in, the nature of things have been expected.
It may be well, however, to remember that, speaking judicially, the accused man is not legally proved to have com-mitted the crimes charged against him in the legal indictments. This may modify the tendency to connect him under some of his many aliases, and in circumstances of greater or less cruelty or romance, with most of the mysterious crimes or other wrongdoings which have occurred in Australia during many years past.
There must be a limit even to the atrocities of such a scoundrel as he who murdered Emily Williams. The proceedings in Western Australia, detailed with great minuteness by our correspondent, throw important side-lights upon the circumstances of the Windsor murder.
Previously the identity of Swanston with Williams had not been absolutely established. Now the accused is understood to admit that he arrived in Victoria with his wife under the name of Williams. He states, however, that she could not have been murdered on the date which conjecture named for her death, because he saw her about a week later.
He asserts that he quarrelled with her at the Federal Coffee Palace on account of her conduct with some other man, and knew no more of her fate.
The effect of this statement would be to raise a question respecting the identity with Mrs. Williams of the woman found in the Windsor cottage, and, presuming that were sufficiently established, to throw the onus of the murder upon a third party.
When the inquest was opened a fortnight ago in Melbourne, however, the body of the dead woman was positively identified as that of Mrs. Williams by the gentleman who was a fellow passenger with the accused and his wife in the Kaiser Wilhelm, and who picked out Williams yesterday in Perth from amongst a number of other prisoners.
Another witness stated that he met Williams in Sydney late in January, and that Williams told him that his wife was “all right and up here.” A point which suggests further enquiry is why, if Williams left his wife in Melbourne because of her misconduct, he should within a few days have proposed marriage to Miss Rounsefellon his way to Sydney, where his wife then was, according to his own assertion.
Concerning the theory that the cottage must have been taken and the murder committed by another man, the evidence already adduced sets forth that the house was rented by a person who described himself as a toolmakers engineer, whose general resemblance to the man now under arrest in Western Australia has been presumptively established.
The complete closing of the link rests, of course, with the prosecution. Passing without discussion the improbable idea that the six-feet man who married a South Australian lady in 1875 and then mysteriously disappeared has reappeared as Williams and shrunk six inches in the interval, the attempt to connect Williams with “Jack the Ripper” is worthy of reference.
The incriminating testimony appears to be of the slightest kind. It may be expressed in the logical formula—the Whitechapel assassin was a clever scoundrel; the accused Windsor murderer is a clever scoundrel; therefore the Windsor murderer is the White-chapel murderer.
There is a distinct difference in the nature and evident motive of the crimes in the case of “Jack the Ripper” and in the present instance, and the only evidence yet published of association between the two is that the chronological sequence thus far traced would allow of the bare possibility that the man who left Australia for South Africa in 1887 or early in 1888 arrived in London a few weeks later, in time to appear in the fiendish character of “Jack the Ripper ,”and perform his other misdeeds in the intervals of the subsequent White-chapel murders. One thing beyond question is that the atrocities of “Jack the Ripper” seem almost to dwindle down in comparison with the barbarous cruelty of a man who murders his own wife and children to pave the way for another marriage. Minor matters of interest amongst the disclosures of the last few days are the apparent fact that Deeming or Williams, like the poisoner Wainwright, cannot plead hereditary predisposition to crime, as his family seem to be of respectable character. Whether, also like Wainwright, the Windsor and Rainhill murderer is afflicted with that moral insanity which to some extent is distinct from mental insanity, future revelations may disclose.
With all its repellent horrors the whole case is intensely interesting to the student of human nature in its most morbid and revolting aspects.
The Windsor Murder
The public excitement in connection with the Windsor and Rainhill tragedies continues unabated.
A large crowd has assembled daily outside the house at, which the Liverpool murders were committed and, overborne with mad excitement the people broke through the cordon of police and stormed the building which the owner has now resolved to demolish. The search for further discoveries there has now been completed without any developments of a especially exciting nature.
Swanson was despatched from Perth on Friday morning en route for Melbourne via Guilford and Albany. On the way from the inland towns to Albany the Prisoner was subjected to strong demonstrations of an all but unimaginable horror and hatred on the part of the crowds of spectators who everywhere lined the route in a fearfully excited condition.
He was hissed and hooted, while a woman mustered courage to fling a stone through the carriage window, and others shouted ‘ Lynch him,’ ‘Drag hint out and etc.’
The prisoner has borne the trying ordeal with remarkable equanimity though lie expressed at one time the tear that he is afraid ‘ he would peg out to the evident disgust of the interested world, who would bitterly regret his death by natural causes.
On being lodged at Perth, Swanson, with some inexplicable object except it be that of self disguise attempted to shave off his hair with a piece of glass from the neck of a bottle about the size of a shilling.
But this appears to have been but partially successful for at least 75 per cent of the hair found in the cells has been pulled out by the roots, On being taken aboard” the R.M.S. Ballarat for Melbourne, Detective Cawsey, who has been largely identified with the investigations which hire proved so successful, placed the prisoner in manacles; and under the joint care of 3 police officers and 4marines, he has been sent on his way to Adelaide. Detective Ciawsey strongly believes, for reasons he does not see fit to disclose, that Williams is identical with the notorious murderer, Jack the Ripper.
The Iatest intelligence has brought some further disclosures of a most startling character. The Criminal Investigation Department has now in its possession information which identifies the prisoner with the assasinations of a white man and two coloured lads in South Africa, where Swanson is also known to have been the principal actor in certain diamond robberies.
THE WINDSOR MURDER.
The lawyers retained by Albert Deeming on behalf of his brother Frederick hope to be able to collect sufficient evidence of insanity to procure a mitigation of the death penalty in the event of Deeming being found guilty of the murder at Windsor.
Wagga Wagga Express
THE WINDSOR MURDER.
It has now transpired (says the Melbourne Herald) that Williams, under a strong pledge of secrecy, made a confession of his having committed the crime prior to his conviction and the sentence of death.
Under a pledge that this statement would not be revealed until after the trial, if at all, the prisoner stated that he had committed the murder, but did not recollect a great deal about it.
He was afraid of killing his wife, and warned her to leave him, but she refused. He would not say when the murder was committed, but it may be taken for granted that it was close to Christmas Day, for on more than one night about this time his apartment at the Cathedral Hotel was not visited by him at all.
He states that he killed his wife by using the battle-axe first and cutting her throat immediately after.
She made no cry, and she was lying on the air bed at the time, so he was enabled to prevent any blood getting on the floor. Immediately after the murder, so Williams told the doctors for the defence, he went to sleep, and slept for six hours. All this time the body of his wife lay beside him wettering in the blood which had poured from the terrific wounds inflicted upon her.
He does not know, he declares, why he killed his wife, but this, the doctors remark, is the secret which has yet to be dragged out of him, and it is suggested the task should be undertaken by Dr. Shields, the Government medical officers
.It appears that at no time in his defence did the murderer suggest the plea of insanity — or, rather, not until close to the day of trial. He argued that no one had seen him kill his wife, that she could not be properly identified, and that the Crown could not prove him to be the murderer.
Execution of Deeming.
AT three minutes to 10 on Monday, the unhappy man was hurriedly brought from his cell. The fall front of the white cap being raised, exposed the livid pallor of his fierce, repulsive face.
When he was led on to the drop he gazed round at the assembled crowd with a dazed, uncertain look, asthough even yet he failed to appreciate his awful proximity to death.
A stony smile flitted over his features for a moment, and then his face became as rigid as marble, and utterly expressionless.
The strain on his nerves during the last week had made a great change, and his old defiant and wolfish malignity had deserted him.
As he cast one glance at the little window behind the drop and saw the last gleam of light he would ever gaze upon his lip quivered, and he slightly trembled, then bracing himself up and looking straight into the crowd he resumed his look of hopeless inanity.
The hang-man who had led him on to the drop in a quick businesslike manner, made a hasty examination of the rope, running the noose quickly up and down to be sure it was sufficiently greased, and glancing hurriedly at the knot, adjusted it behind the murderer’s ear.
There was a deathlike silence in the echoing gaol as the sheriff asked the doomed man if he had anything to communicate, and the grave faces of the spectators were strained to catch the merest whisper of the confession they had waited for so long; it was the last chance that would ever occur, and everyone felt their nerves strung to their highest tension.
The prisoner opened his mouth to speak, and the words came so faint and tremulous as to be scarcely audible, as though he was labouring under a tremulous emotion or like one in a dream.
” The Lord receive my spirit.” That was all. The white cap was then drawn over his face. At this point the wonderful nerve of the man seemed about to fail him; but he braced himself up and stood swaying slightly as he listened to the last words he would ever hear in life. Amid the awful stillness of the gaol arose the quiet low tones of the Rev. Mr. Whitton, who read the last impressive service over the doomed wretch as he stood quavering on the drop: ” Man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live, and is full of misery. He cometh up, and is cut down, like a flower; he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay. In the midst of life we are in death.”
A sound like a giant’s sigh swelled up from the body of the gaol as the lever was thrust quickly forward by the assistant hangman, and the murderer fell into the yawning space that would see his last death agony.
The tremor and consequent swaying of the body immediately the white cap was drawn over his face flashed across my mind, and the theory that he had fainted before the fatal bolt was drawn seemed incontestable. Inquiry of several medical men who happened to be present strengthened my sup-position (writes the Evening News correspondent),and I believe I am correct in asserting that over-come by the awful reality of the terrible ordeal this man, whose iron nerve has puzzled the whole world, succumbed to the last strain put upon his system, and lost all consciousness before the hang-man’s rope summoned him to appear before his last tribunal.
He fell like a man of stone, and indeed never moved a muscle after the white cap had been placed over his face. To the last he played his part, and followed but the lines he had laid down for himself. He had told a warder when he came to speak he would not confess. “I shall merely call upon the Lord to receive my spirit,” and though the words came faint and hollow he said it. Soon after the terrible event the visitors began to leave the gaol.
Contemplation of the Rainhill criminal’s career compels one (says the Times) once more to repeat that process of enlarging one’s conception of human folly, which is, perhaps, the most frequent of major mental operations. The fellow was a vulgar and palpable fraud. Wherever he went he was distrusted and disliked by persons of any discernment, yet he never wanted for dupes. It may be admitted that he was clever in his own way, but his cleverness lay chiefly in his instinctive under-standing of fools and how to play upon their weaknesses. Bounce, bluster, romances about far off lands, and a lavish display of money were his principal weapons. Nothing is more curious than to note how, if the right persons be executed for operations, everything that ought to excite distrust be-comes a means of securing blind confidence.
This man swindled his way through the world with the most complete ease and security by adding some elementary strategy, to his knowledge of human weakness. He understood the immense value of capital in such a business as his. He never attempted a coup except when he was still well provided with the proceeds of the last one.
Want of this cautious resolution not to trade beyond the limit of the capital available has been the ruin of many a promising criminal as of many an honest merchant. A man short of funds is driven to expedients which his cool judgment would probably condemn, and his capture becomes a mere matter of time and accident.
The rogue now in question could always afford to take the beat and most expeditious mode of leaving dangerous quarters, and that fact alone goes far to explain his long immunity from detection. Complete analysis of this criminal is difficult; the materials, in fact, are hardly yet forthcoming. It is probable however, that he is essentially swindler and incidentally murderer.
No adequate motive has yet been suggested for the brutal butchery at Rainhill, but it is possible that his wife had found out too much about his past. His instinct of self-preservation was strong, and it the unfortunate woman once presented herself in the sight of a danger he would stick at nothing to get rid of her. The murder of the children probably followed as a corollary in a mind to which ethical conceptions were apparently foreign. His absolute indifference upon any hypothesis to every kind of moral restraint, and to every emotional prompting that might have interfered with his prompting, marks him out as a singularly perfect example of those negations of all that is human in man, which civilisation seems to turn out from time to time.
The Daily Chronicle says: A most singular affair, writes a correspondent, has occurred at Madame Tussaud’s in connection with the notorious Deeming.
As is well-known, the enterprising proprietors of the famous waxwork exhibition have purchased the materials of Denham Villa, and the whole have been removed from Rainhill to London where many of the kitchen stones and cement have been put in the Chamber of Horrors. In the cement there is the print of a hand which is believed to be that of Deeming. A workman was sent into the Chamber to arrange the materials, and, not returning, he was sent for. He was found dead on the very stones which he had been sent to prepare for exhibition this Easter.
The following are note by Gaol warders closely aligned to the Hangman on the day of the hanging.
The skull of Australia’s most notorious murderer, Deeming, did not corrode in quick lime with the rest of his body when he was executed in Melbourne Gaol in mid-1892.
His cranial abnormality was so marked, and various or-gans of the body so out of the ordinary that several surgeons of that per-iod put in a special request for an independent inspection and examinationof the body after it was cut down sub-sequent to hanging for the prescribed two hours.
When the examination was concluded, it was pointed out to authorities that the retention of Deem-ing’s head would serve a valuable purpose, not only to the medical profession,but to the public and students of criminology in general.
When the skull was measured phre-nologically, the brain weighed and balanced, astounding differences were dis-covered between it and those of the average person post-mortemed, the resultsbeing carefully checked, written down, tabulated, and placed in their proper or-der in the medical and surgical laboratory, which had asked for the head of the assassin.
Not only was there a physical hiatus wherever the veneration, benevolence and kindliness should have been, but where the ordinary combativeness and assertiveness should have been seen, there was enough to fill the cells of savagery in a tiger, the destructiveness in a gorilla, and the ferocity of a cannibal.
Bravery was absolutely absent; while craven fear was in abundance, and in its place was the crowded brain cells of a leopard and the flattened bone of a cobra. The skull and brain are, or were a few years ago, in the museum of a section of a big surgical exhibition attached to a university, and probably they are still there.