Executions at Old Melbourne Gaol

During its operation, the gaol was the setting for 133 hangings. The most infamous was that of bushranger Ned Kelly at the age of 25, on 11 November 1880. After a two-day trial, Kelly was convicted of killing a police officer. As stated by law at the time, executed prisoners were buried (without head) in unmarked graves in the gaol burial yard. The head was normally removed from the body as part of the phrenological study of hanged felons. Historian and associate professor of Wollongong University John McQuilton states that the lack of monitoring for burial processes was odd, given Victorian society’s normally brilliant attention to detail. The first hanging of a woman in Victoria, Elizabeth Scott, was performed in the prison on 11 November 1863 – along with her co-accused, Julian Cross and David Gedge. The last person to be executed was Angus Murray in 1924, the same year the gaol was closed.