ON THIS DAY – February 25, 1896


Enquiries made concerning the murder and suicide at Albert Park on this day in 1896, were not altogether successful in demonstrating a motive for the crime. Some additional facts were discovered, however, which tend to show that John Priestley was probably seriously involved in domestic troubles, and might by them have been driven to murder his child and kill himself. Priestley came from Adelaide to Melbourne about six years prior accompanied by a woman who joined him about the time of the disagreement with his wife. When he arrived here he had in his possession over £600. With this sum of money he entered into occupation of a free hotel at Carlton. Within two years he ran through all his money, and quarrelled with his female companion, who passed herself off as his wife. He sought, to shake her off, and suddenly and secretly left for Adelaide by sea. She learned of his intention somehow, and, taking the child with her, journeyed to Adelaide by express train, and was the same woman he saw as the boat reached the wharf. The quarrel was patched up, and they returned to Melbourne together. They quarrelled again, and Priestley finally deserted the woman. He went to South Melbourne and took service with the Gas Company. The woman remained in Carlton, where she was arrested on some minor charge. Priestley attended the Court when her case, came up for hearing. He undertook the care of their child, but refused to have anything to say to the woman. The child was the one he killed.