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EXECUTED THIS DAY – April 20, 1891

The execution of Cornelius Bourke, convicted of the murder of Peter Stewart at the Hamilton lock-up, took place in the Ballarat Gaol at 10 o’clock on Monday morning. It will be remembered that after sentence was pronounced, some doubts arose as to the sanity of the prisoner, and he was examined by medical men who failed to find any evidence of mental aberration beyond imbecility consequent on old age. The law was therefore allowed to take its course, and on being informed of the determination of the Executive, Bourke listened without emotion, and has since looked calmly upon his fate, his only solace being his pipe and tobacco. He has been most diligently attended by the Rev. Father Rogers, who at first appeared to make little impression upon the condemned man, but within the last few days he was more attentive to his ministrations. However, Bourke was quite resigned to his fate, and when spoken to on the subject on Saturday last said he might as well die now as at any future time, as life was only a few minutes strung out, and that he was now an old man and had nothing to live for. On Sunday he was visited by Bishop Moore, and he slept soundly on Sunday night. On Monday morning he was engaged in religious devotion with Father Rogers in the condemned cell, and punctually at 10 o’clock the Sherriff (Mr Anderson) demanded the body from the Governor of the Gaol (Mr Gardiner) in the usual manner. Shortly afterwards Bourke emerged from his cell with his hands securely bound behind him. He was given over to the custody of Jones, the hangman. The melancholy procession proceeded towards the scaffold, the clergyman, at the same time, pronouncing the service for the dead. There were very few spectators besides the officials and the representatives of the Press. On taking his place on the drop of the scaffold, and his legs being bound together, the Governor asked Bourke if he had anything to say, to which he replied, “No, I have nothing to say. What should I say ?” The white cap was then drawn over his face, and the rope adjusted by the hangman. This being done, Jones, the executioner, was proceeding to draw the fatal bar, when Bourke ejaculated, ” I am choking, I am choking” at the same time moving off the drop as well as he could with his legs pinioned together. A little excitement was caused by this incident, but Jones and some of the officials managed to place Bourke on the drop again, when the bar was drawn and he fell a distance of about 5ft. Death appeared to have been instantaneous, as there was not the slightest contraction of the body or other movement. Thus ended the career of Bourke, and at the formal inquest held it was decided that he had been hanged in a judicial manner. The body was buried within the precincts of the gaol, and destroyed as usual by quicklime.

 

On This Day – September 30, 1931

The Burwood police are investigating a story told them by an undertaker concerning elaborate arrangements made with him for a funeral on Tuesday.

A woman who is believed to have no family, died in a private hospital at Burwood, and a man, whom the undertaker understood to be her husband, ordered an expensive funeral. An elaborate polished oak coffin, costing £40, was ordered, also several mourning coaches, and wreath costing £2 2s.

Yesterday the undertaker, the mourners, and the clergyman waited for the “husband” of the dead woman, but he did not arrive. The undertaker, refusing to allow the funeral to be carried out, cancelled the arrangements until sufficient money to pay expenses was forthcoming. The mourners commandeered the coaches , and searched Canterbury in vain for the missing man.

The police have learned that the man’s employer was with him at 2 p.m. In a hotel which they left in the employer’s car to go to the funeral chambers. On the way the “widower” asked his employer to stop and allow him to enter a house to get money. There the employer waited for some time; and then made a search of the house, but found no trace of the man.

So far the undertaker, the private hospital, and the Macquarie Street specialist who attended the woman are still unpaid and the “widowed husband” is missing.

The woman will probably be given a paupers funeral.

EXECUTED THIS DAY – April 20, 1891

The execution of Cornelius Bourke, convicted of the murder of Peter Stewart at the Hamilton lock-up, took place in the Ballarat Gaol at 10 o’clock on Monday morning. It will be remembered that after sentence was pronounced, some doubts arose as to the sanity of the prisoner, and he was examined by medical men who failed to find any evidence of mental aberration beyond imbecility consequent on old age. The law was therefore allowed to take its course, and on being informed of the determination of the Executive, Bourke listened without emotion, and has since looked calmly upon his fate, his only solace being his pipe and tobacco. He has been most diligently attended by the Rev. Father Rogers, who at first appeared to make little impression upon the condemned man, but within the last few days he was more attentive to his ministrations. However, Bourke was quite resigned to his fate, and when spoken to on the subject on Saturday last said he might as well die now as at any future time, as life was only a few minutes strung out, and that he was now an old man and had nothing to live for. On Sunday he was visited by Bishop Moore, and he slept soundly on Sunday night. On Monday morning he was engaged in religious devotion with Father Rogers in the condemned cell, and punctually at 10 o’clock the Sherriff (Mr Anderson) demanded the body from the Governor of the Gaol (Mr Gardiner) in the usual manner. Shortly afterwards Bourke emerged from his cell with his hands securely bound behind him. He was given over to the custody of Jones, the hangman. The melancholy procession proceeded towards the scaffold, the clergyman, at the same time, pronouncing the service for the dead. There were very few spectators besides the officials and the representatives of the Press. On taking his place on the drop of the scaffold, and his legs being bound together, the Governor asked Bourke if he had anything to say, to which he replied, “No, I have nothing to say. What should I say ?” The white cap was then drawn over his face, and the rope adjusted by the hangman. This being done, Jones, the executioner, was proceeding to draw the fatal bar, when Bourke ejaculated, ” I am choking, I am choking” at the same time moving off the drop as well as he could with his legs pinioned together. A little excitement was caused by this incident, but Jones and some of the officials managed to place Bourke on the drop again, when the bar was drawn and he fell a distance of about 5ft. Death appeared to have been instantaneous, as there was not the slightest contraction of the body or other movement. Thus ended the career of Bourke, and at the formal inquest held it was decided that he had been hanged in a judicial manner. The body was buried within the precincts of the gaol, and destroyed as usual by quicklime.

 

EXECUTION THIS DAY …….. 5th April 1865

The execution of John Stacey, for the murder of a child named Daniel McDonnell, at Emerald-hill, on the 28th of February, took place at the gaol, in presence of a smell number of spectators. Since the lest execution a new “drop” has been constructed at the gaol, and the general arrangements materially altered. On a level with the gallery, in front of the middle tier of cells, a small platform, part of which is composed of a trap-door, has been erected, stretching across from the gallery on one side of one of the corridors to that on the other side. Above this platform a beam has been fixed, reaching from wall to wall, and to this the rope is suspended. The prisoners under sentence of death will be placed in the cells on a level with and immediately contiguous to this platform; the long distance which the convict had formerly to be conducted and the ascent of a ladder being by these arrangements avoided. The Rev. D. Lordon, by whom the convict Stacey has been constantly attended, visited him at an early hour yesterday morning; sad at the time of the execution the Rev. Dr. Bleasdale read the prayers of the church (Roman Catholic) to which the prisoner belonged. Punctually at ten o’clock the sheriff, accompanied by the governor of the gaol, had the door of the cell opened, and the unhappy man was informed that the hour had arrived. He stepped outside the cell, preceded by an attendant with a crucifix, and accompanied by the clergyman. The pinioning was done on the gallery in front of the cell, the prisoner the while keeping his eye fixed upon the emblem before him. Not more than two or three short steps ware required to bring him upon the centre of the trap-door before mentioned, and the prisoner stepped to the place indicated without any visible sign of trepidation. He was very pale, but had the expression of steady resolve, and his nerves did not fall him in the least while the rope was being adjusted. Thu only words spoken by him were now and then the repetition, in a low tone, of portions of the sentences recited by Dr. Bleasdale. The executioner, having completed the adjustment of the noose, stepped back to a lever handle, and released the bolt, allowed the drop to fall. Death must have been instantaneous; no struggling took place, and one or two slight movements, which lasted for perhaps a minute and a half after the drop, were evidently but the effects of a spasmodic action of the muscles after life had departed. Not more than about eighteen or twenty persons were present of whom the greater number were official. The prisoner stated at his trial that his true was Michael Casey. He is entered in the gaol books as thirty one years old, born at Bristol. He arrived in this colony in 1852, free, his calling as a stoker. He made no distinct confession of having committed the deed for which he was sentenced, unless he did so to the clergyman.

 

On This Day – September 30, 1931

The Burwood police are investigating a story told them by an undertaker concerning elaborate arrangements made with him for a funeral on Tuesday.

A woman who is believed to have no family, died in a private hospital at Burwood, and a man, whom the undertaker understood to be her husband, ordered an expensive funeral. An elaborate polished oak coffin, costing £40, was ordered, also several mourning coaches, and wreath costing £2 2s.

Yesterday the undertaker, the mourners, and the clergyman waited for the “husband” of the dead woman, but he did not arrive. The undertaker, refusing to allow the funeral to be carried out, cancelled the arrangements until sufficient money to pay expenses was forthcoming. The mourners commandeered the coaches , and searched Canterbury in vain for the missing man.

The police have learned that the man’s employer was with him at 2 p.m. In a hotel which they left in the employer’s car to go to the funeral chambers. On the way the “widower” asked his employer to stop and allow him to enter a house to get money. There the employer waited for some time; and then made a search of the house, but found no trace of the man.

So far the undertaker, the private hospital, and the Macquarie Street specialist who attended the woman are still unpaid and the “widowed husband” is missing.

The woman will probably be given a paupers funeral.

EXECUTED THIS DAY – April 20, 1891

The execution of Cornelius Bourke, convicted of the murder of Peter Stewart at the Hamilton lock-up, took place in the Ballarat Gaol at 10 o’clock on Monday morning. It will be remembered that after sentence was pronounced, some doubts arose as to the sanity of the prisoner, and he was examined by medical men who failed to find any evidence of mental aberration beyond imbecility consequent on old age. The law was therefore allowed to take its course, and on being informed of the determination of the Executive, Bourke listened without emotion, and has since looked calmly upon his fate, his only solace being his pipe and tobacco. He has been most diligently attended by the Rev. Father Rogers, who at first appeared to make little impression upon the condemned man, but within the last few days he was more attentive to his ministrations. However, Bourke was quite resigned to his fate, and when spoken to on the subject on Saturday last said he might as well die now as at any future time, as life was only a few minutes strung out, and that he was now an old man and had nothing to live for. On Sunday he was visited by Bishop Moore, and he slept soundly on Sunday night. On Monday morning he was engaged in religious devotion with Father Rogers in the condemned cell, and punctually at 10 o’clock the Sherriff (Mr Anderson) demanded the body from the Governor of the Gaol (Mr Gardiner) in the usual manner. Shortly afterwards Bourke emerged from his cell with his hands securely bound behind him. He was given over to the custody of Jones, the hangman. The melancholy procession proceeded towards the scaffold, the clergyman, at the same time, pronouncing the service for the dead. There were very few spectators besides the officials and the representatives of the Press. On taking his place on the drop of the scaffold, and his legs being bound together, the Governor asked Bourke if he had anything to say, to which he replied, “No, I have nothing to say. What should I say ?” The white cap was then drawn over his face, and the rope adjusted by the hangman. This being done, Jones, the executioner, was proceeding to draw the fatal bar, when Bourke ejaculated, ” I am choking, I am choking” at the same time moving off the drop as well as he could with his legs pinioned together. A little excitement was caused by this incident, but Jones and some of the officials managed to place Bourke on the drop again, when the bar was drawn and he fell a distance of about 5ft. Death appeared to have been instantaneous, as there was not the slightest contraction of the body or other movement. Thus ended the career of Bourke, and at the formal inquest held it was decided that he had been hanged in a judicial manner. The body was buried within the precincts of the gaol, and destroyed as usual by quicklime.

 

EXECUTION THIS DAY …….. 5th April 1865

The execution of John Stacey, for the murder of a child named Daniel McDonnell, at Emerald-hill, on the 28th of February, took place at the gaol, in presence of a smell number of spectators. Since the lest execution a new “drop” has been constructed at the gaol, and the general arrangements materially altered. On a level with the gallery, in front of the middle tier of cells, a small platform, part of which is composed of a trap-door, has been erected, stretching across from the gallery on one side of one of the corridors to that on the other side. Above this platform a beam has been fixed, reaching from wall to wall, and to this the rope is suspended. The prisoners under sentence of death will be placed in the cells on a level with and immediately contiguous to this platform; the long distance which the convict had formerly to be conducted and the ascent of a ladder being by these arrangements avoided. The Rev. D. Lordon, by whom the convict Stacey has been constantly attended, visited him at an early hour yesterday morning; sad at the time of the execution the Rev. Dr. Bleasdale read the prayers of the church (Roman Catholic) to which the prisoner belonged. Punctually at ten o’clock the sheriff, accompanied by the governor of the gaol, had the door of the cell opened, and the unhappy man was informed that the hour had arrived. He stepped outside the cell, preceded by an attendant with a crucifix, and accompanied by the clergyman. The pinioning was done on the gallery in front of the cell, the prisoner the while keeping his eye fixed upon the emblem before him. Not more than two or three short steps ware required to bring him upon the centre of the trap-door before mentioned, and the prisoner stepped to the place indicated without any visible sign of trepidation. He was very pale, but had the expression of steady resolve, and his nerves did not fall him in the least while the rope was being adjusted. Thu only words spoken by him were now and then the repetition, in a low tone, of portions of the sentences recited by Dr. Bleasdale. The executioner, having completed the adjustment of the noose, stepped back to a lever handle, and released the bolt, allowed the drop to fall. Death must have been instantaneous; no struggling took place, and one or two slight movements, which lasted for perhaps a minute and a half after the drop, were evidently but the effects of a spasmodic action of the muscles after life had departed. Not more than about eighteen or twenty persons were present of whom the greater number were official. The prisoner stated at his trial that his true was Michael Casey. He is entered in the gaol books as thirty one years old, born at Bristol. He arrived in this colony in 1852, free, his calling as a stoker. He made no distinct confession of having committed the deed for which he was sentenced, unless he did so to the clergyman.

 

GEELONG GAOL CHAPEL – 1867

One of the most interesting places in the gaol is the chapel, where those of the inmates belonging to the Protestant denomination attend on Sundays. It is fitted up in a singular manner, so that not one of the prisoners can see the one next to him. This is skilfully arranged by means of doors every seat is divided into so many compartments, with a door to each. The first that enters the seat goes to the inner end and the others follow in their order, each shutting his door after him, and when the seats are full the warder runs a bolt through the whole of them. These doors and the backs and fronts to the seat are higher than a tall man, so that the occupant cannot see any thing but what is above him. Consequently a gallery is fixed at one end of the room high enough up that the prisoners can see it. In this stands the clergyman and an armed warder who can see the movements of every one in the chapel. The seats and in fact all the fittings have been lately beautifully grained by one of the prisoners now undergoing a sentence of two years imprisonment.