EXECUTED ON THIS DAY ……………. 11th of July 1861
Henry Coolley, sentenced to death for the murder of his wife at Heathcote, was executed on the 11th inst., at the Central Gaol, Melbourne. On the previous night he made a full confession, a copy of which We append:—”Central Jail, Melbourne, “Wednesday evening, 10th July, 1861. “I, Henry Cooley, by the faith of redemption through our Saviour Jesus Christ, before appearing in the presence of my Maker, desire voluntarily, and of my own free will and accord, to make the fullest statement I can in the world for my heinous crime by confession and acknowledgment of the justice of the sentence of death passed upon me for taking the life of my lamented wife Harriet Cooley.
“Incompatibility of temper was unfortunately for us a source of constant disagreement. On the 15th of March, the day previous to this last occurrence, my wife had been to McIvor races, and we quarrelled between 8 and 9 o’clock in the morning about her having been in company with another woman whose company it was not proper of her to keep, when, instead of curbing my temper and enduring with patience, trouble and affliction, exasperated by passion, I raised the axe and struck my wile on the head—her death was instantaneous. When I found life was gone I did not know what to do. At last I made up my mind to conceal the body. I took the lighted candle off the table, harnessed my horse, in the spring cart, and carrying the lighted candle in my hand, led the horse into the bush about half a mile, and concealed the remains amongst the branches of a fallen ironbark tree. I heard the voice of some person cooeying in the direction of the hut, and drove off in a fright, leaving the candle burning on the ground. I returned home, and walked about the hut all night in great distress. Next morning (Sunday) I went back to the place and found that the candle had set fire to the grass about the tree and consumed the body. I did not then in any way disturb the remains, but turned in horror from the spot. About ten days after this, on hearing that I was about to be apprehended, I went again to the place and scattered the remains. “The evidence adduced of the remains having been re-burnt is not true, for to my knowledge they were not. The piece of burnt while metal, supposed to have been a ‘billy’ was what was left of the tin candlestick.
“This is my last confession, and the true statement of the murder of my wife and the concealment of her remains; and may God be merciful unto her, a sinner, hurried into eternity, and pardon her sins. A few faults she had, but her good qualities were many; and I earnestly pray that God will forgive her. Husbands and wives, love one another; children, obey your parents; and blessed are they who keep the Lord’s commandments, and through salvation inherit-eternal life. While I deeply deplore and lament the murder of my wife, I do not now regret to quit this earthly scene and term of trial and tribulation to fit us for a better and a happier state. I deserve and am resigned to my fate, and I earnestly pray that others may take warning by my untimely end. “Farewell? May grace be unto all; and the Lord have mercy on my soul!
Amen, “HENRY COOLEY.”