ON THIS DAY ……… 5th February 1936

A remarkable, story of an alleged attempt to poison a Brunswick married couple by sending them a poisoned pudding through the post was related at the Brunswick Court on the 5th February 1896, when Dorothy Davies, married, a needlewoman, of West Brunswick, was charged with the attempted murder of Harry Sumbler, confectioner, of Brunswick, and his wife, Margaret Sumbler. In evidence it was stated that Sumbler and his wife received a pudding by post on the 12th of December. After Mrs Sumbler took a bite she thought it tasted bad and spat it out. A small quantity was given to a kelpie dog, which died within an hour and a half. Expert evidence was given that ground poisoned wheat had been sprinkled over the pudding and that analysis showed that the pudding contained sufficient poison to produce death in an adult. The police produced a statement alleged to have been made by Davies, admitting the crime, in which she said that she had known Sumbler for many years. She used to help him look after his shop and did other work for him. Because there was too much work in the shop he obtained the services of Margaret O’Connor, whom he married last year. Because of the way he treated her and took a fancy to Margaret O’Connor she became aggrieved with both him and her and in December decided to send to Mr and Mrs Sumbler a pudding with something on it to make them sick. She got some poisoned wheat she had for poisoning mice. She ground the wheat into powder, sprinkled it on top of the pudding, and replaced it in the cover. She intended only to make the Sumblers suffer as they had made her suffer. She did not know it would kill anybody. Sumbler told the Court that after his marriage Mrs Davies was aggressive towards him and he told her that it would be best for her to stay away. Once he had an argument with her and she went towards a gun. On numerous occasions she had threatened him, and once she said she would put a bomb on his roof. He denied having proposed to Mrs Davies.



On This Day – January 15, 1894

THE hanging of Frances Lydia Alice Knorr not only split the community, but also had a dreadful impact on the executioner. Knorr, born Minnie Thwaites, was known as the “Baby Farming Murderess” and her arrest and trial made national headlines. She’d been found guilty of strangling two infants she’d taken into her paid care. The executioner, Thomas Jones (William Walk), had an impressive record as a hangman. He’d sent 15 men to their deaths. But Knorr would be the first woman he’d hang. Jones not only had problems with alcohol, he was under immense pressure at home, namely from his wife who strongly believed Knorr should be saved. Two days before the execution, the hangman killed himself. Jones cut his own throat while drunk. Nevertheless, the execution proceeded, creating much public opposition, particularly from women’s and church groups. On being walked to the gallows Knorr was asked ‘Have you anything to say?’ prior to the drawing of the bolt. “He received in answer the words: ‘Yes, the Lord is with me. I do not fear what man can do unto me, for I have peace, perfect peace.’ “The first sentence was spoken almost inaudibly, but the last words were delivered in a full, clear voice. “The next instant the bolt was drawn, and death was instantaneous.” Her entry in the hangman’s manual, called the Particulars of Executions, states she had a one-pound lead weight sewn into the shirt to stop it billowing out. In a matter-of-fact way, it was stated that the 5ft 2in Knorr was hanged with a rope with a drop of 7ft 6in. Soon after her execution, prison authorities found a confession back in her cell, penned a few hours before she left it for the last time. She wrote: “I express a strong desire that this statement be made public, with the hope that my fate will not only be a warning to others, but also act as a deterrent to those who are perhaps carrying on the same practice.” Although Knorr was convicted of the murders of two babies, police inquiries later revealed she could have been responsible for the deaths of a dozen, and even more, infants.



ON THIS DAY – January 7, 1936

Having pleaded guilty to having conspired with Violet Ada Walker (23) of East Brunswick to murder her and himself, Edward Miller (39), of North Fitzroy, was sentenced to nine months gaol. Miss Walker was found dead on the bank of Merri Creek on January the 7th and the evidence given at Miller’s trial was that he and Miss Walker agreed to commit suicide by taking poison. Miss Walker died from the dose, but Miller recovered in hospital. Sentencing Miller. Justice Duffy said It had been urged on the prisoner’s behalf that a prosecution of this kind was without precedent. His Honour assumed in the prisoner’s favour that the prisoner Intended to sacrifice himself equally with the girl, but he, the Judge, had been very unfavourably Impressed with the conduct of Miller who showed callous Indifference as to the fate of the girl throughout the proceedings.


ON THIS DAY – December 28, 1905

William Carey, a native of Mauritius, and a resident of Edward street, Brunswick, was found unconscious on the roadside at Alphington on December 27th 1905, suffering from a fracture of the base of the skull. Carey died in the Melbourne Hospital on the following day. Deceased was a half-caste and a married man.

An inquest on the body was opened at the Morgue. Dr. Mollison, who made a post-mortem examination of the body, deposed that death was due to extravasation of blood on the brain due to violence. The detectives are making the fullest enquiries into the outrage, and a young man named Rouse is already in custody on a charge of murdering Carey. It appears that Carey was returning home to Brunswick. He had dispatched his wife by the coach, in which, however, there was no room for him, so he obtained permission to travel on the back step of a drag containing a picnic party.

The dray pulled up at the Darebin Bridge Hotel, Alphington, and it appears that Carey got into an altercation with some one in the hotel, which resulted in a quarrel. Enquiries made by Detective Sergeant O’Donnell have disclosed the fact that the hotel on the night in question was occupied by a larrikin mob known about Northcote and Clifton as the “fiddle breaker” push. The gang was armed with pickets torn from fences, and hurled volleys of potatoes and other missiles. Before the drag containing the picnic party, which gave Carey a lift on the road arrived, the larrikin gang had been particularly rowdy and offensive, and several of them tried to pick a quarrel with the picnickers, who were respectable, peaceably inclined people. Sergeant O’Donnell now has a quantity of direct evidence inculpating thirteen members of the “push,” who will be proceeded against on serious charges.


ON THIS DAY – December 27, 1951

Before being remanded on a charge of having murdered his step-brother on December 27, David Eccles, 54, of East Brunswick, said: ‘It wasn’t my fault he died.’ Eccles came to East Brunswick police station on New Year’s Day and told police that his step brother, William Eccles, 46, wharf labourer, had accidentally fallen in the house in Laura Street and killed himself. William Eccles’ body was found on the floor of a bedroom, Detective de Vere said. He had apparently been dead for several days. The detective said that Eccles later stated that there had been an argument and he had struck his step-brother on the head with a bottle and kicked him. He went to bed and found his step brother dead next morning. A post-mortem examination by the Government Pathologist (Dr. K. Bowden) had revealed that Eccles died from the injuries received. Police opposed ball, and David Eccles was remanded in custody to the January 9.


On this day …….. 26th of December 1916

A single man named David Skelly, 26 years, of Albion street, Brunswick, caught one of his feet in the cog wheel of an aeroplane ride at Luna Park on this day in 1916. He was conveyed to the Alfred Hospital, where two of his toes were amputated.


ON THIS DAY – December 25, 1893

On Christmas Day 1893, an unknown male child was found wrapped in brown paper in Park Street, Brunswick. The coroner found that the child had been murdered by a person unknown.



A sad story happened in a house at 6 Sydney Rd, Brunswick. Robin a two year old boy had climbed inside a buggy hitched to a horse standing in the driveway. The horse bolted and Robin was thrown out, either the wheel or the horses hooves ran over his head. The family was so angry that the horse was taken to the Melbourne Zoo, killed and feed to the lions.


James Wessan, a resident of Brunswick, was treated at the Melbourne Hospital on this day in 1904 for an injury to his head owing to his horse falling over.



Reginald Charles Burrows, 18- year-old sheet metal worker, of Percy st, West Brunswick, was committed for trial on a charge of manslaughter by Mr Burke, SM, city coroner, yesterday.

Mr Burke conducted an inquest into the death of Rupert Francis Bowd, 36, of Evans st, East Brunswick, who died in Royal Melbourne Hospital on November 18. Police alleged that Burrows went to Brunswick railway platform and fought with Bowd after Burrows’ sisters had told him that Bowd had behaved offensively towards them. During the fight Bowd fell on to the railway line and suffered injuries from which he died later.