ON THIS DAY – December 25, 1888

At the Melbourne Supreme Court, John Anglin was charged with the murder of his wife, Jemima Caroline, by shooting her at the residence of her brother in law, Mr Herbert John Rhodes, Inglesby road, Camberwell, on the 25th December. Anglin had been married to his wife for nine years before the murder. The accused was always exceedingly jealous of his wife, and strange and eccentric in his behaviour towards her, labouring under some delusion concerning her faithfulness. In consequence of that delusion, he used to strike her, and treated her abominably. She had ultimately to leave him, owing to his violence and jealously, mid supported herself by teaching music. At the time of the murder she was stopping with her sister, Mrs. Rhodes, at Camberwell. The prisoner called at the place on Christmas Day, and said he wanted to see his children Mr Rhodes ordered him away, and, as he did not leave, went to the yard and took an axe, with the view of frightening the prisoner away. On Mr Rhodes reappearing at the door with the axe in his hand, the accused shot at him, and on Mrs. Anglin coming out of the dining room into the passage to ascertain the cause of the discharge of firearms the prisoner shot her also, and followed her into the house, where he shot her again one of the bullets entering the lungs and causing her death. The accused then went away, and on being arrested said “I suppose I will be hung for this.” The frequent strange demeanour and behaviour of Anglin towards his wife would render it necessary for the jury to consider whether the prisoner was labouring under a delusion and was to some extent out of his mind, or whether he was sane and conscious of the awful deed he was committing when he murdered his wife. The remark which the accused made on being arrested went a long way to a reasonable man to show that he knew what he was doing when he killed his wife. Anglin received 16 years at Pentridge Prison. On passing sentence his Honour remarking that the question which they would have to consider was not whether the prisoner murdered his wife, but merely whether he was sane or insane at the time.


On this day …….. 25th of December 1937

Charged with the manslaughter of Herbert Scanlon at Fitzroy on Christmas Day Leo Michael Patrick Brooks aged 20 years, grocer, of George street, Fitzroy, was remanded at the Fitzroy Court for seven days. Bail was fixed at £100. Senior detective P T Gooden said that on Christmas night Brooks was involved in an altercation with a young woman in George street, Fitzroy. Scanlon, who was not in the party attempted to intervene and strike Brooks with a bottle. Brooks warded off the blow and knocked Scanlon to the ground. Scanlon struck his head on the pavement. He was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital, where he died the next day. Leo was the father of Judy Moran and grandfather to Jason and Mark Moran.


On this day …….. 25th of December 1916

An aggressive tiger snake which attacked Private Frederick Thoroughgood, a soldier who had been invalided home deaf and dumb from Gallipoli, was the means of his regaining both his speech and hearing. Private Thoroughgood, who since his return has been an inmate of the Camberwell Convalescent Home, Mont Albert-road, attended a picnic at Warrandyte on Christmas day. While walking through the bush he almost trod on the snake, which immediately showed fight, and Thoroughgood, after a short encounter, despatched the reptile with a stick. The affray excited Thoroughgood somewhat, and a little later his companions were surprised to hear him commence whistling. Shortly afterwards he asked in a normal voice, “Well, what’s the next item on the programme ?” Speech and hearing came to him, simultaneously, being doubtless the best Christmas box that he could have desired.


On this day …….. 25th of December 1925

Clarice Hurst (32) a single man, sustained fatal head injuries when he was riding on the scenic railway at Luna Park on Christmas night. The trolly in which he was seated at rear jolted Hurat from his seat and his head struck the scaffolding above. The carriages were stopped, and the sufferer was conveyed to hospital suffering from lacerations and a fractured base of the skull. He succumbed to his injuries early.


On this day …….. 25th of December 1860

Two prisoners named Ryan and Williams escaped from the Kilmore Gaol on Christmas Day 1860.


Kentucky Fried Christmas – Japan

No kidding – just like how Christmas turkey is a must on Christmas, for the Japanese it’s the Colonel’s Chicken. Since the beginning of this marketing campaign four decades ago, KFC has been associated with Christmas in the minds of the Japanese for generations, a tradition passed on from parent to child in spite of its commercialized beginnings. More than 240,000 barrels of chicken will be sold during Christmas, five to ten times its normal monthly sales. “In Japan, Christmas equals KFC.”

On this day …….. 24th of December 1938

Australia hosts the first ever Carols by Candlelight on this day in 1938.

Carols by Candlelight is a popular Australian Christmas tradition. Communities gather together in parks or churchyards to sing carols and Christmas songs on any given evening in the lead-up to Christmas. There is often extra entertainment during these events, with skits, plays and other performers, and participants may hold candles or other electric lights to enhance the festive atmosphere. The concept of Carols by Candlelight was born in 1937 when radio veteran Norman Banks was on his way home after a late evening shift. Walking along St Kilda Road, Melbourne, he saw a woman through the window of her home, her face reflecting the soft glow of candlelight, singing to Away in a Manger as it played on the radio. The sight inspired Banks to create an event which could be enjoyed by many, and which would reflect both the reverence and the joy of Christmas. With the support of his employers and the Melbourne City Council, particularly Lord Mayor AW Coles, Banks organised a programme for the following year. The first Carols by Candlelight took place in Melbourne, Australia on Christmas Eve, 24th of December 1938. Approximately ten thousand people came together at midnight in Alexandra Gardens to sing carols, backed by a choir, two soloists and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Band. A larger production was organised the following year, and the tradition grew, continuing even through World War II. Since that time, Carols by Candlelight events have spread, continuing to be organised throughout the nation, with some sponsored by major organisations, and others quieter affairs in churches and community centres.


Father Christmas Opens Gaol – 1930

The gates of Alabama’s prisons in Vancouver, were opened for more than 3OO convicts, who went home for Christmas. Parole for 15 days was given to men, most of whom were convicted for murder or manslaughter, who have already served 25 years and who so conduct is meritorious. This is the third year that long term convicts have been rewarded, and only five have failed to return. No check will be kept on their movements until January 5.

Tours will be running every night apart from Christmas night over the holiday period.  So if you are looking for something to do over the holidays, why not join the team from Twisted History for a ghost tour or an investigation tour of the most intact 19th century prison in Victoria ….. do you have what it takes to enter the gates of the Geelong Gaol.  For bookings and information, please call 1300865800.


During the Christmas season of 1849, enterprising confectioner John Yewers of Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, baked an enormous Christmas Cake.  It weighed 90 kilograms, was 1.2 meters high and 4.8 meters in circumference.  Because no single customer would buy it, Yewers raffled the cake and managed to get it off his hands for a profit.



Six thousand children and parents watched Santa Claus land by a helicopter for a Christmas party being given by a rubber company.  Santa, Perry McConnaugh (63), a company employee tossed a bag of toys over his shoulder, climbed from the helicopter and started walking towards the crowd.  He suddenly waved, staggered and fell.  McCaonnaugh died before doctors could reach him, apparently dying of a heart attack.


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