EXECUTED THIS DAY – April 27, 1857

On this day in 1857, at eight o’clock, the unfortunate young man, Frederick Turner, convicted at the late Criminal Sessions, of highway robbery in company with others, and of subsequent shooting with intent to murder, underwent the extreme sentence of the law. It is to be feared that the culprit, who was a mere boy, being only in his twenty-second year, indulged in a hope to the last that he would be reprieved, but there were really no circumstances connected with his case which warranted such a hope, or, indeed, warranted any exertion on the part of others to obtain for him a mitigation of sentence. Full of health and strength, abundant opportunities were presented to the misguided youth to obtain an honourable livelihood, but indolence and vicious associations brought him to an early and ignominious end,—a sad warning, we fear, to many others to be found in the colony. The circumstances connected with the crime for which this unfortunate man suffered are simply these:—A short time since he, in company with others, stopped a labouring man in the vicinity of Flemington, and demanded his money. The party attacked, seeing that resistance was useless, gave up all the cash that he had about him, but being in humble circumstances, and having a large family dependent upon him, begged hard from Turner, who took an active part in the robbery, for restitution of half a crown to purchase his little ones the common necessaries of life. “Yes,” said Turner, “I’ll give you half-a-crown,” and deliberately drawing a revolver from his pocket or belt, fired at his victim’s head, but the ball fortunately glanced off, and inflicted only a trifling wound on the side. Of the intention of the act, however, there can be no doubt, and hence the only ground of sympathy was the youth of the culprit, who arrived here a free emigrant, with his parents and brother, in the William Jardine, in 1849. He declined to divulge his real name, but stated that the name of Turner was assumed, that his father and mother were in service in the interior, and that his brother had been for three years in the mounted police force. A love of idleness and dissolute society he admitted had been his curse. He declared that he never intended to commit murder, and the fact of the shot which he fired not having taken deadly effect, it is to be feared produced an ill-grounded impression upon his mind that mercy would be extended to him in this world, and to a certain extent counteracted the efforts of the worthy chaplain of the goal, who attended upon him since his condemnation, endeavouring to prepare him for eternity. Unceasingly did the holy man impress upon the culprit the utter hopelessness of mercy in this world, but still a lingering hope of a mitigation of sentence evidently dwelt upon Turner’s mind, till the near approach of the period at which he had been doomed to suffer. Then he became unmanned, listened with marked attention to the exhortations of his spiritual adviser, and sought and hoped in a few hours to atone for the errors of life time—this moment he believed—the next doubted, and in a state of almost unconsciousness was pinioned, hurried to the gallows, and in a few moments his earthly career was at an end. We have already stated that the age of the culprit was twenty two years. In height he was five feet three inches and a half, of stout make, fresh complexion, with dark brown hair and blue eyes. He was a native of London, and professed to belong to the Church of England. At a subsequent period of the day, an inquest was held upon the body, when a verdict was returned to the effect that the deceased had been executed in accordance with a sentence which had been passed upon him.


On this day …….. 27th of April 1806

Moehanga Ngāpuhi, became the first recorded Māori visitor to England when the Ferret berthed in London on the 27th of April 1806. Moehanga had boarded the Ferret when it visited the Bay of Islands late in 1805. While Māori had travelled as far as Tahiti and Australia in the late 18th century, Moehanga was the first to make it to the other side of the globe. While in England he met King George III and Queen Charlotte. He sailed with the Ferret when it left for Port Jackson, Sydney, New South Wales, in June. After spending the summer in Port Jackson he returned to his home in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand in March 1807.


On this day …….. 27th of April 1564

According to tradition, the great English dramatist and poet William Shakespeare is born in Stratford-on-Avon on the 23rd of April 1564. It is impossible to be certain the exact day on which he was born, but church records show that he was baptized on the 26th April, and three days was a customary amount of time to wait before baptizing a newborn. Shakespeare’s date of death is conclusively known, however, it was 23rd of April 1616. He was 52 years old and had retired to Stratford three years before.


On this day …….. 27th April 1971

The ‘Batavia’ was a ship built in Amsterdam in 1628. On 29 October 1628, the newly built Batavia, commissioned by the Dutch East India Company, sailed from Texel for the Dutch East Indies to obtain spices. During the voyage two of the crew, Jacobsz and Cornelisz, planned to hijack the ship, with the aim of starting a new life somewhere using the supply of trade gold and silver on board. After stopping at South Africa for supplies, Jacobsz deliberately steered the ship off course away from the rest of the fleet, planning to organise a mutiny against the captain at some stage. In June 1629 the ship struck a reef near Beacon Island, part of the Houtman Abrolhos island group off the Western Australian coast. 40 drowned but most of the crew and passengers were taken to nearby islands in the ship’s longboat and yawl. The captain organised a group of senior officers, crew members and some passengers to search for drinking water on the mainland. Unsuccessful, they then headed north to the city of Batavia, now Jakarta. Their amazing journey took 33 days, and all survived. After they arrived in Batavia, a rescue attempt was made for the other survivors, but it was discovered that a mutiny had taken place. Cornelisz had planned to hijack any rescue ships, and organised the murder of 125 men, women and children. The rescue party overcame the mutineers, executing the major leaders, including Cornelisz, while others were taken to be tried in Batavia. The mutiny and murders brought infamy to the story of the lost Batavia. On 27 April 1971, relics and artifacts from the Batavia wreck were salvaged, later followed by the stern of the ship. In 1972 The Netherlands transferred all rights to Dutch shipwrecks on the Australian coasts to Australia. Some of the items, including human remains, which were excavated, are now on display in the Western Australian Maritime Museum in Fremantle, Australia. Others are held by the Geraldton Region Museum. Included in the relics is a stone arch which was intended to serve as a welcome arch for the city of Batavia.


EXECUTED THIS DAY – April 27, 1891


On this day in 1891, the execution of Fatta Chand took place for murdering his Hindoo partner, Juggo Mull, near Healesville in November last, took place within the Melbourne gaol. The condemned man on finding he could not accomplish his purpose of cheating the gallows by starving himself, partook of food voluntarily. Mr Gilbert Smith, interpreter, states that when he saw Chand he was perfectly resigned to his fate, and said in his native tongue “I will go to the scaffold like a man and not like a woman.” There was an unusual number of spectators at the execution, including 30 policemen, private individuals and representatives of the press. Shortly before ten o’clock the sheriff demanded Fatta Chand’s body from the governor of the goal in the usual manner, and the condemned man, who looked lank and lean, on being bound, marched on to the scaffold with firm step. The governor of the gaol asked him if he had anything to say, whereupon he replied through an interpreter “No I have nothing more to say. I did not kill the man. I am not guilty. I am not guilty.” The cap was then drawn down, the rope adjusted and the bolt drawn, death being instantaneous. It was feared that Chand’s reduced weight would not have broken his neck. None of his countrymen were present at the carrying out of the sentence. Before Fatta Chand was taken to the gallows he told Mr Smith, intetpreter, that after death he would become a wanderer on earth. He requested that his parents be informed that he died from cholera, and that his body had been burned.


ON THIS DAY – April 27, 1895


The case of the man Arthur Buck, who is now in Melbourne Gaol under sentence of death for the murder of his paramour Kate Norton on April 27 last, was considered by the Executive Council. After carefully discussing the facts the Executive decided that the law should take its course. The execution has been fixed for July 1. It will be remembered that Buck met the woman, who was one of the unfortunate class, in Clive street, South Melbourne, on the night of April 27 last, and while engaged in conversation with her, he suddenly drew a razor from his pocket, and slashed it across the woman’s throat. An extensive wound was inflicted, from which she died soon after.


ON THIS DAY – April 27, 1929

On the 27th April 1929, Edward Arthur Jenkins was admitted to the Geelong Hospital in a pitiful state. He was suffering from shock and puncture wounds and was spitting up blood. Jenkins had four stab wounds to his chest, abdomen and elbow. Jenkins was admitted to the wards and received treatment which in spite of, he died at 7.45am on May 5, 1929. The marriage of Edward and Lillian Jenkins was never a happy one, and they had frequently separated and reunited over the years. On December 13th, 1928, they separated for the final time. Lillian lived at a number of places over the next few months which always resulted in Edward (known as Ted) making a disturbance and forcing Lillian to move once again. Lillian Jenkins moved into 70 Mercer Street in Geelong, the fruit shop belonging to Bartolo Natoli three weeks prior to the murder. The fruit shop was located downstairs of the two story building with a number of rooms upstairs. It was in one of these rooms that Lillian and her toddler child resided. On the 27th April, 1929, Ted visited the shop a number of times, attempting to see his wife and reportedly arguing with Natoli and calling him a “black dago bastard”. His brother Charles, reported that Lillian had appeared on the balcony at one stage and had thumbed her nose at her husband in “an offensive manner”. Charles also stated that his brother became “excitable” when under the influence of alcohol. Other witnesses state that Jenkins had been observed drinking at the fruit shop earlier in the day. Jenkins himself admitted that he was under the influence of liquour in his deposition taken before his death. At around 9.30pm, Jenkins returned to the shop in Mercer Street, in another attempt to talk to his wife Lillian. At the time, Lillian’s sister and brother were visiting her. Once they had entered her bedroom, Lillian and locked the door behind her. All witnesses stated that Jenkins had knocked but when refused entry became angry and started kicking at the door. Lillian’s sister and brother in fear had climbed through the window onto the balcony and were making their way to the street. Lillian had screamed out and Natoli came to her aid. Witnesses heard Jenkins say to Natoli “You come up here you dago bastard and I will throw you down the stairs”. Natoli rushed up the stairs to Lillian’s aid and was greeted by Jenkins who kicked him in “the privates” and punched him in the face. Natoli grabbed a knife and scuffled with Jenkins who was stabbed 4 times during the altercation. Jenkins was armed with a piece of wood with which he struck Natoli. Lillian managed to get past the struggling men and rang the police. Constables Robinson and Bennett arrived on the scene to find Natoli holding Jenkins in an upright position as if to stop him from falling down the stairs. When the Constables investigated they found Jenkins to be covered in blood. Constable Robinson asked Natoli if they had been fighting and whether he had stabbed Jenkins to which Natoli replied he had. Natoli then handed over the knife and was taken to the police station. Natoli was reported to be calm and answered all questions when asked. Constable Robinson reported that he knew Edward Jenkins and that he “was a desperate man when drinking but alright when sober”. Jenkins had an extensive criminal history with charges for unlawful assault and larceny and obscene language dating back 10 years. Bartolo Natoli went to trial in the Geelong Supreme Court on the 15th August 1929 charged with Manslaughter. He was to be tried twice as the first jury failed to reach an agreement. The second trial found that Natoli was not guilty and he was acquitted of all charges.


On this day …….. 26th April 1904

While the steamer Star of Australia was coming up the Yarra on this day in 1904, two seamen, named Wendt and Larson who were getting the gangway ready preparatory to landing, fell overboard into the river. Life boys were immediately thrown out, and several boats lowered. Larson was rescue in an exhausted condition, but although the steamer was slowed down, and every effort was made, no trace of Wendt was found. He was wearing heavy sea boots, and I’d believed to have sunk immediately.


On this day …….. 26th April 2003

An unnamed Perth man was lucky to escape unharmed on the 26th April 2003 when he attempted to recharge his mobile phone battery in a microwave oven. Firefights were called to the man’s house after the battery exploded.


On this day …….. 26th April 1974

Mr Doug Laing-Smith, 38, died in hospital on this day in 1974, 27 days after he was crushed by an elephant while working for Ashton’s Circus in Melbourne. He was knocked down and crushed by Abu the elephant after it was frightened by children playing on mini-bikes, Mr Laing-Smith, who is survived by his wife and five children, had been unconscious since he was admitted to the Preston and Northcote Community Hospital after the accident.


On this day …….. 26th April 1941

Constable L. Ferrter had his hand nearly bitten off when he put it between the bars of a lion cage at Lismore on this day in 1941. Crowbars were used to free him. The policeman later had the hand amputated in hospital. Two lions in a cage were beaten away from the stricken constable by their trainer with a fork. Ferrier then collapsed. Part of his uniform was slashed to ribbons.


On This Day ……. 26th April 1906

Archibald Tough, who has been previously convicted, was charged with being found by night without lawful excuse on Mr. H. Dunn’s premises and was sentenced to four months imprisonment at Geelong.