ON THIS DAY…… 28th October 1849

On the 28th of October 1849 a prisoner named James MacDonald, undergoing a sentence of eighteen months’ imprisonment for robbery at Geelong, attempted to escape from the gaol. He managed to scale the top of the northern wall by climbing the gallows and then let himself down by means of a rope made of his clothes and blanket, but the sentry private Bryan Kennedy greeted him at the bottom, and marched him at the point of the bayonet to the gaol gate, when he was delivered over to the warden. MacDonald was sentenced to seven days solitary confinement on bread and water.


On this day …….. 28th of October 1916

Billy Hughes, Australia’s 7th Prime Minister, most controversial policies was conscription, an issue which not only created a rift in the Labor Party, but divided the young nation as well. On 28 October 1916, the first referendum to introduce compulsory military enlistment into World War 1 was voted on, and narrowly defeated. Two weeks later, on 13 November, the Labor Party expelled Hughes over his support for conscription. However, just a few days earlier Hughes had formed the Nationalist Party which incorporated both expelled Labor Party members and members of the opposition. Hughes formed a new cabinet and remained as Prime Minister, a position he retained until 1923.


On this day …….. 28th of October 1880

Ned Kelly first stood trial on 19 October 1880 in Melbourne before the Irish-born judge Justice Sir Redmond Barry. Mr Smyth and Mr Chomley appeared for the crown and Mr Bindon for the prisoner. The trial was adjourned to 28 October, when Kelly was presented on the charge of the murder of Sergeant Kennedy, Constable Scanlan and Lonigan, the various bank robberies, the murder of Sherritt, resisting arrest at Glenrowan and with a long list of minor charges. He was convicted of the willful murder of Constable Lonigan and was sentenced to death by hanging by Justice Barry. Several unusual exchanges between Kelly and the judge included the judge’s customary words “May God have mercy on your soul”, to which Kelly replied “I will go a little further than that, and say I will see you there where I go.” At Kelly’s request, his picture was taken and he was granted farewell interviews with family members. His mother’s last words to him were reported to be “Mind you die like a Kelly.”

ON THIS DAY – October 27, 1856

At around 4am on the morning of October 27th, 1856, Sergeant-Major Cahir discovered a woman coming along Bellarine Street from the direction of the Barwon River. He recognised her as Catherine Finnegan, the wife of Sergeant Owen Finnegan. Cahir asked her why she was out so early and she admitted to murdering her two youngest children, 3 week old twins John and Judith. Mrs Finnegan was known for her eccentric behaviour, and so Cahir escorted her back to her Bourke Crescent home, where he found Sergeant Owen Finnegan in distress. Finnegan asked his wife what she had done with the children, which she wouldn’t answer. Cahir and the Finnegan entered the property and soon discovered a bloody razor on the foot of the little bed where the children had lain. Mrs Finnegan was conveyed to the watch house and a more thorough search was made for the children. The foot of Mrs Finnegan’s bed was found to be saturated with blood although the covers had been drawn over the mess. The bodies of the children were found at the bottom of the water closet, when blood stains were discovered at the top. Around 6am Constable Grant went down and retrieved the children’s bodies. Both infants had their throats cut, from their ears to the centre of the throat and John also had a deep cut to one of his hands.  The inquest into the children’s death was conducted at the Portarlington Hotel on the same day, the 27th October 1856. At the conclusion of the inquest, Forster Shaw, the district Coroner, returned a verdict that the children had been “put to death by their mother who was at the time insane”. Catherine Finnegan was committed to trial.

On this day …….. 27th of October 1872

When Mrs Gomerson of Burrangong, New South Wales, broke open an egg to fry on this day in 1872, she discovered an entire but slightly rusted needle in the centre of the yolk. There where no sign of entry in the eggshell and the content were fresh, but the portion around the needle was a little discoloured.


ON THIS DAY – October 27, 1927

Hailing a taxi-cab in Lonsdale Street at 5 o’clock on October 27, 1927, Squizzy Taylor, accompanied by two men, ordered the driver, John Hall, to go to Carlton. When he hailed the cab Taylor gave no indication of his destination beyond saying that he wished to visit a hotel in Carlton. Calls were made to several hotels in the vicinity of Rathdowne, Lygon, and Elgin streets. The movements of the men indicated that they were in search of another person or persons. Their conversation, however, gave no clue as to whom they were seeking. Eventually Taylor told the driver to go to Barkly Street. Turning from Rathdowne Street the cab had only travelled a few yards in a northerly direction along Barkly street, when the driver was told to stop. Taylor, accompanied by one of his friends left the cab, and walking some distance along the northern side of the street went into one of a terrace of houses.

The house belonged to Bridget Cutmore, mother of Snowy Cutmore.  Cutmore’s bedroom would be the scene of the final shootout with Snowy dying in his bed and Squizzy dying in St Vincents Hospital a few hours later.



ON THIS DAY…… 27th October 1902

On this day in 1902, a young man John O’Brien, who had come to Geelong, five weeks earlier from Melbourne by boat and urged a constable to lock him up, as he was too ill to provide for himself, died in the Geelong Gaol from phthisis. On a charge of vagrancy, he was sentenced to a month’s imprisonment. This term he completed a few day’s ago but as he was too ill to be removed he was allowed to remain in the Gaol Hospital. An inquiry resulted in the return of a verdict that death was due to phthisis.


ON THIS DAY – October 27, 1915


At the Morgue on Saturday, Dr. Cole, P M , city coroner, investigated the shooting tragedy at a house in Nelson street, Abbotsford, on October 27. After a quarrel, William Green, aged 32 years shot Eileen Veronica McCormack, aged 25 years, his housekeeper, who died instantly. Green then committed suicide. Mary Green, of Docker street, Richmond, said that William Green was her son. On the day of the shooting Green asked his housekeeper to come inside, as he wanted to speak to her. McCormack refused. Green took her by the arm and pulled her inside. He then caught her by the throat, and it seemed as if he was strangling her. Mrs. Green tried to pull him away and struck him over the face. Green caught hold of McCormack’s legs and threw her on the ground. Mrs. Green at once left to obtain help. During her absence shots were fired. The bedroom was full of smoke, and Green and McCormack were found dead on the floor. McCormack’s infant was sitting beside its mother, playing with the revolver.  It was stated that Green was a married man, living apart from his wife, and McCormack a married woman, living apart from her husband. Dr. Cole found that the deceased died from gun shot wounds. He was of the opinion that the shots were fired by Green but there was not sufficient evidence to show his state of mind at the time.



On this day ….. 26th of October 1878

On the 26th October, 1878 Sergeant Michael Kennedy and Constables Lonigan, Michael Scanlan and Thomas McIntyre rode into the Wombat Ranges searching for Ned and Dan Kelly, who were wanted for the attempted murder of Constable Alex Fitzpatrick at Eleven Mile Creek, near Benalla, on 15th April, 1878. That evening the policemen established a camp near Stringbark Creek, and the following day Kennedy and Scanlan set off to patrol the area whilst McIntyre and Lonigan remained behind. Towards evening the camp site was attacked by the Kelly’s, together with their associates Steve Hart and Joe Byrne. Constable Lonigan was shot dead whilst Constable McIntyre was captured and held hostage. The outlaws then hid themselves around the camp, and left McIntyre on view as a decoy. When Kennedy and Scanlan returned Ned Kelly called on them to “bail up”, then almost immediately the outlaws began firing and the policemen were cut down. In the confusion McIntyre was able to escape and raise the alarm. Over the next two years the Kelly gang, as they became known, remained at large, only coming out of hiding to make two much publicised raids, one on the township of Euroa, and the other at Jerilderie. Finally, in June, 1880 they received information that an associate, Aaron Sherritt, had betrayed them, and a large contingent of police were travelling to Euroa by train to arrest them. The gang moved swiftly. They murdered Sherritt, took over the township of Glenrowan and imprisoned the residents, and wrecked the railway line in the near vicinity. They then settled down to wait, planning to set upon the police party after their train ran off the rails at the point of sabotage. A local resident managed to allow the gang to release him, and he warned the approaching police and averted a disaster. Soon after the gang were cornered in a local hotel. A siege developed and Dan Kelly, Steve Hart and Joe Byrne were killed. Ned Kelly managed to escape, and returned later in his famous “suit of armour”, and attempted to shoot it out with police. Soon overpowered, he faced trial at Melbourne for killing Lonigan, and was hanged at 10.00 a.m. on 11th November, 1880.



ON THIS DAY – October 26, 1929


Eric Pike (15 1/2)was committed for trial by the Coroner on a charge of willfully murdering a farmer named John Willam Smith (36), at Werrimull on October 26. Smith’s body was found in some timber about a mile from his home. There were indications that he had been dragged some distance behind a cart. He had 11 bullet wounds in the head and body.

ON THIS DAY…… 26th October 1902

The young man James Revell who was arrested in Melbourne charged with obtaining £3 by means of a valueless cheque from Frank Shepherd of the Union Club Hotel, Geelong, was on this day in 1902, was fined £5 and one month’s imprisonment in the Geelong Gaol.


On this day …….. 26th of October 1878

A group of four policemen from Mansfield set out to search for the Kelly brothers who they thought were hiding in the bush near Mansfield. They set up camp at Stringbark Creek on 25 October 1878, not knowing that the Kellys were living in a small hut on Bullock Creek, less than 1km away. The next day Kennedy and Scanlan went to search the nearby forest, while Lonigan and Constable Thomas McIntyre stayed at the campsite. The Kellys heard noises from the police camp and went to investigate. Ned Kelly decided to try and capture the policemen and take their guns, horses and food. He called on the two policemen to give themselves up. McIntyre raised his hands, but Lonigan attempted to run and reached for his gun. Ned Kelly shot him in the eye. The bushrangers then waited for Kennedy and Scanlan to return. When they rode into the camp, McIntyre warned them that the Kelly brothers were there, and to give themselves up. Scanlan went to unsling his rifle and was shot dead immediately. Kennedy jumped off his horse, and while shooting at the Kellys ran into the bush. Ned and Dan Kelly chased after him, shooting him twice as they hunted him for over 800 yards. Kennedy surrendered. Kelly walked up to him and shot him again in the chest and killed him. During the earlier shooting at Scanlan and Kennedy, McIntrye was able to get onto Kennedy’s horse and escaped. He reached Mansfield the next day to report the deaths. Ned Kelly, Dan Kelly, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart were made outlaws, and a large reward was offered for their capture, either dead or alive. The three murdered policemen were taken to Mansfield and buried in the cemetery. A large memorial, funded by public donations, was built in the main street of Mansfield.