On this day …….. 12th of April 1869

William Cook, said to be the best steeplechase rider in the colony was brought into Wahgunyah on this day in 1869 after being injured. Cook had been crushed by a falling horse at Urana Races. The 20 year old died from his injuries.


April 23rd, 1894

A reduction In the staff at the Geelong Gaol has been effected through the adoption by the Penal department of new
arrangements in regard to the disposal of female prisoners of the vagrant class, for whom special accommodation has been provided at Pentridge.

All the enfeebled women will be transferred to the Coburg penitentiary, only female prisoners of vigorous type being retained at the local gaol in order to do the laundry work furnished for then by the military authorities at Queenscliff. Hitherto between 60 and 70 women have been quartered at the local gaol, but the accomodations in the female division will be limited to that required far 30 inmates.

This alteration of the prison arrangements will enable Mr Cody to make provision for the reception of an additional number of male prisoners, chiefly of the invalid class, for whom relaxed discipline is necessary.

The female division will in future be under the control of Mrs Purbrick, who succeeds Miss Fleming, the latter having now transferred to the position of sub-matron at Pentridge while Miss Kilmartin, another of the female warders at the local gaol has received orders to proceed to the Melbourne Gaol. She will leave with a number of the female prisoners under her charge at the end of the week.  Miss Fleming, who has been in charge of the female arrangements at the local gaol for several years past, has been more than a quarter of a century in the service, but her promotion to the position of sub matron only carries with it increased responsibility without a corresponding
advance of remuneration.

The average number of prisoners in the men’s division will in future be about 170, and they will be under the control of nine warders, the proportion being much less than that in other gaols throughout the colony.  If the suggestion by the governor was carried out for the construction of radiating yards for the exercise of a number of separate treatment prisoners under the supervision of one warder, instead of the three posted in the turrets as at present the services of the staff could be utilised to much better advantage.


On this day …….. 29th September 1853

Government Gazette this reward is offered for the apprehension of a prisoner of the Crown, who affected his escape from the Collingwood Stockade, on the morning of the 29th Sept. Personal description -Name, Thomas Quinn, ship to the Colony, Cadet, offence, robbery, age, twenty three years, height, five feet six inches, complexion, fresh, hair, dark brown, eyes, grey particular marks Mary Fanny, on his left arm, nine blue dots left thumb, star or cross above M right arm, date of conviction, 10th February 1853, sentence, seven years on the road’ Remarks – Married, wife and child in Melbourne opposite the Catholic Chapel.


On this day …….. 3rd May 1804

For many years, Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) was thought to be part of the mainland of Australia. In January 1799 Bass and Flinders completed their circumnavigation of Tasmania, proving it to be an island. As an island, Tasmania enjoyed the uniqueness of its own fauna and flora, and its own indigenous peoples, but all of these were severely disrupted by the arrival of Europeans. Van Diemen’s Land was settled as a separate colony in 1803. 3 May 1804 marks the first of the major hostilities between whites and Aborigines which ultimately led to the decimation of pure-blooded Tasmanian Aborigines. What became known as The Battle of Risdon began when a large group of about 300 aboriginal men on a kangaroo hunt inadvertently wandered into the British settlement. Thinking they were being attacked, the soldiers fired upon the party, killing three of the hunters. Debate has continued over the number of hunters actually killed. While early accounts said that two or three were killed, later the figure was expanded to fifty, and then upwards to 100.


On this day …….. 2nd May 1829

The city of Fremantle lies just south of Perth, at the mouth of the Swan River. Dutch captain Willem de Vlamingh named the Swan River in 1697 because of the black swans he saw in abundance there. As the first city in Western Australia, Fremantle is steeped in rich and fascinating history. In 1829, Captain Charles Fremantle was sent to take formal possession of the remainder of New Holland which had not already been claimed for Britain under the territory of New South Wales. On the 2nd of May 1829, Captain Fremantle raised the Union Jack on the south head of the Swan River, thus claiming the territory for Britain. The colony of Western Australia was proclaimed on the 8th of June 1829, and two months later, Perth was also founded.


EXECUTED THIS DAY – April 28, 1857



Execution of Thomas Williams, Henry Smith alias Brennan, and Thomas Maloney.

On this day in 1857, at eight o’clock, Thomas Williams, Henry Smith alias Brennan, and Thomas Maloney, the first three prisoners convicted at the late Special Sessions of the murder of the late Inspector General at Williamstown, on the 20th March last, were executed in the Melbourne Gaol. The unhappy men, who were all members of the Roman Catholic Church, were attended in their last moments by two ecclesiastics, and it, will be satisfactory to the public to know that all exhibited the appearance of sincere contrition for their criminal career, find patient resignation to their fate. It is remarkable, however, that only one of them, the convict Maloney, made any reference to the crime for which he was about to suffer, and of, which he declared himself innocent to the last. The other two, Williams and Smith, maintained from the first in perfect reserve upon the subject. To those familiar with the criminal character, and its notorious and habitual cunning, this circumstance will not appear in the least subversive of the verdict, of the jury, or of the righteousness of the sentence, as it is quite probable that one or all of the three cherished to the last some faint hope that the penalty would be commuted. There is reason to believe that Smith certainly did this, in consequence of the recommendation to mercy which in his case accompanied the verdict. Of course, a confession of guilt would be incompatible with such expectations. A few minutes after eight o’clock, the condemned men were removed from their cells, and brought into the corridor. Maloney came first, then Henry Smith, and last Thomas Williams. Maloney and Smith appeared in the act of fervent and unceasing prayer. Smith hold his hands closely pressed together above his head, and his lips moved rapidly. Maloney fixed his eyes upwards and never once removed them, also continuing to pray silently, and repeatedly placing his right arm across his breast in the manner of penitential humiliation. He held a crucifix in his hand. Williams did not appear to be so devoutly inclined as the others at first, but as though even his hardened nature had become affected by their example, his lips at length moved rapidly, and he continued to pray to the last. The demeanour of the three was most becoming and reverent. As the process of pinioning was going on, Maloney leaned over and whispered some last request to his spiritual adviser. When all was ready the sad procession moved on, and as it was passing from the corridor the prisoner Smith turned round and made a low bow to the persons who were looking on, as though taking his last farewell of his fellow creatures. Smith appeared to feel his awful position very keenly, and all three betrayed the symptoms of a strong mental and physical agitation, which was with difficulty mastered. Maloney was the first to ascend the scaffold, then came Smith, who was slightly supported by one of the warders, and lastly Williams. In a few minutes the preparations were completed and the drop fell. Smith and Williams seemed to die instantly, but Maloney, who was a slightly framed man, gave a few convulsive movements, and than all was over. The prisoner Maloney came to tho colonies in the year 1840, in the ship King William, a prisoner. He was subsequently convicted of felony and had a sentence of five years hanging over him from 9th August, 1853. His age was S3. He could not read or write, and was a native of Tipperary, by trade a butcher. Henry Smith, or Brennan, came free to the colony in the Coromandel, in 1817. He was 37 years of age when executed, and had previously been convicted of horse-stealing. He was a native of Dublin, and could not read or write. A sentence of six years from 15th August, 1854, was impending over him. Thomas Williams was thirty-two years old, and came to Australia a prisoner in the year by the ship Constant, for robbery. After completing his time, he was, on the 18th November, 1832, convicted on three separate charges, and was sentenced successively to twelve years, six years, and twelve years penal servitude, in all thirty years. He could read imperfectly.


On This Day…… 25th April 1869

Margaret Johnson was brought from Howlong to Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum on the 7th of May 1868, by her brother in law William Johnson. Johnson escaped from the Asylum on this day in 1869, and was not seen again. It was believe that she crossed back over the boarded into the colony of New South Wales.


On this day …….. 25th April 1809

Australia’s first postmaster was Isaac Nichols. Nichols had arrived with the Second Fleet on the Admiral Barrington in October 1791 after being found guilty of stealing and sentenced to seven years transportation. However, he was found to be a diligent worker, greatly trusted by Governor Hunter. Although accused of receiving stolen goods in New South Wales in 1799, his innocence was upheld by Hunter, who believed evidence had been planted against him. He ordered the suspension of Nichols’s fourteen-year sentence, but it was not until Philip Gidley King’s government that Nichols was awarded a free pardon, in January 1802. An enterprising man, he bought several properties and even established a shipyard, becoming quite prosperous. In 1809, Nichols was first appointed superintendent of public works and assistant to the Naval Officer. One month later, the same month that Governor Macquarie arrived in New South Wales, Nichols was appointed the colony’s first postmaster on 25 April 1809. Nichol retained this position until he died in 1819.


On this day …….. 24th April 1858

On this day in 1858, the infamous Spider Dance arrived in Beechworth. However not pre formed by the notorious creator Lola Montez. For some reason, Lola was unable to keep her engagement in Beechworth, and the miners had to content themselves with reading about Lola’s exploits in other parts of the colony. It was not untill this day in 1858, that the Spiter Dance arrived, and danced by a beautiful young entertainer named Julia Matthews. Matthews enchanted her audiences, particularly the towns police commander and explorer Robert O’Hara Burke.


On this day …….. 12th of April 1869

William Cook, said to be the best steeplechase rider in the colony was brought into Wahgunyah on this day in 1869 after being injured. Cook had been crushed by a falling horse at Urana Races. The 20 year old died from his injuries.


ON THIS DAY ……… 20th March 1902

The new £2252 lighthouse at a Point Lonsdale, mouth of Port Philip Bay, Victoria was lit for the first time on the evening of the 20th March 1902. The 24 metre high lighthouse had been under construction by builder George Coate for about 14 months. When the foundations was being dug by a workman, he rammed his crowbar into the excavation and it disappeared into the ground. On investigation the crow bar was found inside Buckley’s Cave. Because of this the lighthouse foundations needed to be shifted nearly seven metres eastward. Almost 180 tons of concrete was used to build the lighthouse. (Buckley’s Cave is rumoured to be where escaped convicted William Buckley lived before white settlers arrived in the colony).



EXECUTION THIS DAY – March 10, 1857


At 8am, the condemned criminals, William Twiggem and Chu-a-luk, a Chinese, underwent the last sentence of the law in the Melbourne gaol. Twiggem, it will be recollected, was the accomplice of the notorious Gipsy Smith, in the murder of Sergeant McNally, and was sworn to on the trial as the man who actually fired the shot. He came to this colony, in the ship Joshua, in the year 1851, and was born at Wolverhampton in the year 1824. His demeanour immediately before his execution was one of hardened defiance. Chu-a-luk was convicted at the last Castlemaine Sessions of the murder of his mate A-pud, whom he stabbed during a quarrel arising out of a dispute relative to an account. He was thirty years old. Both the convicts underwent the process of being pinioned and ascended the drop with the utmost coolness, Twiggem exhibiting a total indifference to his position, and Chu-a-luk was apparently in a state of stolid resignation. Neither of them spoke a word, and both died almost instantaneously and without a struggle.