On this day …….. 19th of January 1894

The new executioner and flagellator, Thomas Roberts, who gave the authorities every satisfaction at the execution of the woman Knorr, has not yet acquired the “knack” of wielding the lash. On this day in 1894, a couple of floggings had to be postponed after the fifth stroke, as they were not severe enough. A fancy “stroke” is evidently what is required, and Roberts will practice on a dummy. If he displays unfitness at the next trial, the Penal Department will have to look for another flagellator.



ON THIS DAY ………… 3rd of February 1931

Charles Leslie Dixon, market gardener, of Springvale South, who was arrested following the shooting of his brother-in-law, Albert Henry Avard, 28, labourer of Oakleigh. Dixon was charged before the Dandenong Police Court, with having murdered Avard on this day in 1931. It is alleged that Avard was shot at Dixon’s home following a struggle for the possession of a shotgun.





A fatal stabbing affray took place at Cranbourne on this day in 1882, the victim being a young man named James Bennett Stephens. He was driving a team of bullocks, and on arriving at Flints Hotel he met a man named William Cook. An altercation took place between them, and Cook got a loaded gun, which was taken from him by Stephens, whom he then deliberately stabbed in the aide with a butcher’s knife. He inflicted a wound which terminated fatally the following day. Cook was arrested on the charge of murder.




Eleven hours before the time he was due to hang, Ronald Ryan was joking with his warders, and was in good spirits, in his H division cell at Pentridge. Ryan’s constant companion during the past few weeks, the Reverend Father John Brosnan, said this when he left the gaol shortly after 9 o’clock. Ryan’s 75-year-old mother, Mrs Cecilia Ryan, spent an hour with her son. They kissed and embraced and Ryan promised his mother he would “keep the faith”. Father Brosnan, the Catholic chaplain at Pentridge, celebrated mass outside Ryan’s cell in H division at 7pm tonight. Ryan did not receive communion but will be given it by Father Brosnan in the condemned cell in D division of the gaol about 6am. Last rites of the church, he will be moved to the condemned cell early, as soon as he wakes. He was not drugged and was allowed to make a final statement in the condemned cell, a few minutes before his execution. He was given extreme unction, the last rites of the Catholic Church, under the scaffold by Father Brosnan seconds after he is pronounced dead. His hands, handcuffed behind his back, were freed so that they can be anointed. An autopsy was carried out and his body was buried in quicklime in a grave in the Pentridge grounds about 5pm. Ryan was the last person in Australia to be executed.



ON THIS DAY ………….. 3rd of February 1913


Henry Dorrington aged 30, was arrested on the 3rd of February 1911, on a charge of having shot with intent to murder his mother, aged 70 years, in Clifton Hill. When the police arrived at the house they found Mrs. Dorrington bleeding from a wound in the fore head, caused by a bullet from a pea-rifle. Dorrington said to his mother, “You asked me to shoot a cat, and the gun went off and shot you” Mrs. Dorrington said “No you asked me for five shillings, and when I would not give it to you, you shot me.” The wound was not serious, and after being treated at the hospital Mrs. Dorrington was allowed to go home.



ON THIS DAY – February 3, 1911

The trial of the negro convict William King, on a charge of having on the 3rd of February, in Pentridge prison, attempted to murder Warder William Herbert Schraeder. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty, and King was sent back to gaol. On arriving at the underground cells from, the court he was loudly cheered by a number of prisoners who had given evidence in the case.



On This Day – 3rd February 1892

The February sittings of the Geelong General Sessions Court were opened on this day in 1892 before his Honour Judge Wahe. A fisherman named John Blackney, charged with stealing a shirt from the Corio Bay rowing sheds, was found guilty, and sentenced to three months imprisonment. Some time since the prisoner, while serving a sentence for shop-lifting, created a sensation by braking out of the Geelong gaol, and the circumstance led to remodelling of the prison arrangements.


On this day ………… 3rd February 1903

Eichard Ince (72), a well-known resident of Ballarat, was married to a young woman from Western Australia. The newly-married pair were going to Western Australia by the H.M.S. Ophir, but they missed the steamer, and engaged a room at the Victoria Coffee Palace, intending to catch the express and overtake tho steamer to Largs Bay, Shortly after they retired, however, the bride rushed into the corridor calling for help, and upon assistance arriving, the old man was found to be dead. The body was removed to the morgue. It is supposed that death was due to heart failure.



On this day ………… 3rd February 1853

A potentially serious confrontation between the diggers of the Ovens Goldfields in North East Victoria and authority. The cause of the trouble was the system of licensing miners, and the manner in which license hunts were carried out. The miners were particularly incensed that they lacked any kind of political representation. The trouble had it’s roots in a confrontation the previous November between the authority of the Gold Commissioner and a group of miners protesting about the tax by refusing to take out a license. On this day in 1853, a dispute between the Goldfields police and a group of diggers resulted in an innocent bystander being accidentally killed by a police musket. As news of the killing was relayed quickly around the diggings, a crowed estimate at about two thousand attacked the police, overturned the police camp at Reid’s Creek, and prepared to hang the two officers for whom they felt most antagonism. The superintendent of police was able to cool the tempers of the miners and there was no further loss of life.



On this day ………… 3rd February 1899

Rivalry between Australia’s two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, has been rife since the days of the goldrushes in the mid-1800s. Sydney, as the main city in New South Wales, was regarded as the logical choice for Australia’s capital city. Melbourne, however, was close to the wealth of Australia’s richest goldfields, and lacked the dubious convict past of Sydney. As the idea of Federation of the states gained momentum, it was decided that a new federal capital should be chosen. Thus, on 3 February 1899, at the Premier’s Conference held in Melbourne, it was decided that the new capital city would be in New South Wales but situated at least 100 miles from Sydney. Over the next nine years, numerous locations were considered, until the Yass Plains location was finally selected in 1908. Section 125 of the Constitution of Australia provided that: “The seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be determined by the Parliament, and shall be within territory which shall have been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth, and shall be vested in and belong to the Commonwealth, and shall be in the State of New South Wales, and be distant not less than one hundred miles from Sydney. Such territory shall contain an area of not less than one hundred square miles, and such portion thereof as shall consist of Crown lands shall be granted to the Commonwealth without any payment therefore. The Parliament shall sit at Melbourne until it meets at the seat of Government.”



On this day ………… 3rd February 1830

George Augustus Robinson was born in London in 1788, although some sources set his year of birth at 1791. It is uncertain when he arrived in Australia, but he was concerned for the well-being of the Tasmanian Aborigines. Following increased tensions between the Aborigines and white settlers, the government was intending to implement their policy entitled the Black Line, a military plan to round up Aborigines in Tasmania. In 1829, Robinson requested permission from Lieutenant-Governor George Arthur to travel around Tasmania, persuading the Aborigines that the government’s plan to relocate and “civilise” them was desirable. Robinson set out on 3 February 1830, accompanied by several Aborigines whom he had befriended, to act as cultural intermediaries for him. Robinson’s journey took him almost four years, during which he travelled aound almost the complete perimeter of Tasmania. Whilst he succeeded in assisting the relocation of many tribes, ultimately the government did not live up to their end of the bargain in providing suitable food, clothing and shelter. Because of this, Robinson’s role in Tasmanian Aboriginal history tends to be viewed negatively.



On this day ………… 3rd February 1934

The ghost or Oscar Wilde, the aesthetic poet of the 1890’s, is reported to be disturbing Tony Kelly, an Australian undergraduate at Oxford. Kelly is athletic, plays ice hockey, and is not given to fancies. He says: ‘Last night I was in bed at 11.30, and could not sleep, I could sense some one was in the room, and saw a tall man in an old-fashioned jacket, and a loose-flowing tie, standing near the window. He began to pace the room. I spoke to him, but received no answer. I put out my hand, which seemed to go through him. Finally, he walked out of the room at a corner where there is no door. I now find that Oscar Wilde occupied these rooms when he wrote the poem, ‘Ravenna,’ with which he won the Newdigate Prize.’