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On This Day ….. 26th September 1803

Joseph Samuel was born in England and later transported to Australia after committing a robbery in 1801. Samuel then became involved in a gang in Sydney and robbed the home of a wealthy woman. A policeman who had been sent to protect her home was murdered. The gang was soon caught and at the trial Joseph Samuel confessed to stealing the goods but denied being part of the murder. The leader of the gang was released due to lack of evidence and Joseph Samuel was sentenced to death by hanging. In 1803, Samuel and another criminal were driven in a cart to Parramatta where hundreds of people came to watch the hanging. After praying, the cart on which they were standing drove off, but instead of being hanged, the rope around Samuel’s neck snapped! The executioner tried again. This time, the rope slipped and his legs touched the ground. With the crowd in an uproar, the executioner tried for the third time and the rope snapped again. This time, an officer galloped off to tell the Governor what had happened and his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. The Governor and others believed that it was a sign from God that Samuel should not be hanged.

 

On this day …….. 12th of August 1848

On this day in 1848, a plot of a rather serious nature was discovered in the Melbourne gaol, and had it not been providentially disclosed, the most serious consequences might have occurred. It appeared that on that morning, Harris the executioner, entered the treadmill yard to prepare for the erection of the gallows, and under the mill he fancied he noticed something buried. Accordingly he dug up the earth, and found two bundles of ropes concealed a few inches from the surface; they turned out to be composed of blankets torn up, twisted and knotted together one being 24 feet and the other 16 feet in length. The circumstance was immediately reported to the gaoler, and an enquiry was set on foot, when it was ascertained that a conspiracy had been entered into by twenty two of the prisoners, to break out of the gaol. Their plan of operation was thus: on the following day, Saturday, at 8 o’clock in the morning, the prisoners, who were under various sentences, from five years hard labor on the roads to eighteen months hard labor in prison, after being let in to the threadmill yard, were to disarm and gag the Superintendent and Turnkey in charge of them, and then using the blanket ropes, scale the wall by the top of the mill, and slide down the other side. In the absence of any alarm from within, this could be very easily managed, as the only risk they had to incur would be the sentry, who, with an unloaded gun, could not do much. The whole affair was, however, foiled through Harris’ diligence. The twenty-two fellows were then secured and searched, but their leader, a notorious ruffian and highway robber, (Richard Lovell) refused to submit to any search, and threatened to fling Mr Wintle and one of the turnkeys over the bannisters. His conduct was very outrageous, so much so that it was deemed necessary to have the circumstance reported and accordingly in the beginning of the week the Mayor, Captain Mair, and the Visiting Magistrate, investigated the case, and sentenced the culprit to receive fifty lashes. This sentence was carried into effect in morning, in presence of the prisoners and military guard, Harris the executioner officiating as flagellator. Since then orders have been given to the sentries to keep their pieces loaded.

 

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 …….. 19th of January 1894

The new executioner and flagellator, Thomas Roberts, who gave the authorities every satisfaction at the execution of the woman Knorr, has not yet acquired the “knack” of wielding the lash. On this day in 1894, a couple of floggings had to be postponed after the fifth stroke, as they were not severe enough. A fancy “stroke” is evidently what is required, and Roberts will practice on a dummy. If he displays unfitness at the next trial, the Penal Department will have to look for another flagellator.

 

 

On This Day ….. 26th September 1803

Joseph Samuel was born in England and later transported to Australia after committing a robbery in 1801. Samuel then became involved in a gang in Sydney and robbed the home of a wealthy woman. A policeman who had been sent to protect her home was murdered. The gang was soon caught and at the trial Joseph Samuel confessed to stealing the goods but denied being part of the murder. The leader of the gang was released due to lack of evidence and Joseph Samuel was sentenced to death by hanging. In 1803, Samuel and another criminal were driven in a cart to Parramatta where hundreds of people came to watch the hanging. After praying, the cart on which they were standing drove off, but instead of being hanged, the rope around Samuel’s neck snapped! The executioner tried again. This time, the rope slipped and his legs touched the ground. With the crowd in an uproar, the executioner tried for the third time and the rope snapped again. This time, an officer galloped off to tell the Governor what had happened and his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. The Governor and others believed that it was a sign from God that Samuel should not be hanged.

 

On this day …….. 12th of August 1848

On this day in 1848, a plot of a rather serious nature was discovered in the Melbourne gaol, and had it not been providentially disclosed, the most serious consequences might have occurred. It appeared that on that morning, Harris the executioner, entered the treadmill yard to prepare for the erection of the gallows, and under the mill he fancied he noticed something buried. Accordingly he dug up the earth, and found two bundles of ropes concealed a few inches from the surface; they turned out to be composed of blankets torn up, twisted and knotted together one being 24 feet and the other 16 feet in length. The circumstance was immediately reported to the gaoler, and an enquiry was set on foot, when it was ascertained that a conspiracy had been entered into by twenty two of the prisoners, to break out of the gaol. Their plan of operation was thus: on the following day, Saturday, at 8 o’clock in the morning, the prisoners, who were under various sentences, from five years hard labor on the roads to eighteen months hard labor in prison, after being let in to the threadmill yard, were to disarm and gag the Superintendent and Turnkey in charge of them, and then using the blanket ropes, scale the wall by the top of the mill, and slide down the other side. In the absence of any alarm from within, this could be very easily managed, as the only risk they had to incur would be the sentry, who, with an unloaded gun, could not do much. The whole affair was, however, foiled through Harris’ diligence. The twenty-two fellows were then secured and searched, but their leader, a notorious ruffian and highway robber, (Richard Lovell) refused to submit to any search, and threatened to fling Mr Wintle and one of the turnkeys over the bannisters. His conduct was very outrageous, so much so that it was deemed necessary to have the circumstance reported and accordingly in the beginning of the week the Mayor, Captain Mair, and the Visiting Magistrate, investigated the case, and sentenced the culprit to receive fifty lashes. This sentence was carried into effect in morning, in presence of the prisoners and military guard, Harris the executioner officiating as flagellator. Since then orders have been given to the sentries to keep their pieces loaded.

 

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 …….. 19th of January 1894

The new executioner and flagellator, Thomas Roberts, who gave the authorities every satisfaction at the execution of the woman Knorr, has not yet acquired the “knack” of wielding the lash. On this day in 1894, a couple of floggings had to be postponed after the fifth stroke, as they were not severe enough. A fancy “stroke” is evidently what is required, and Roberts will practice on a dummy. If he displays unfitness at the next trial, the Penal Department will have to look for another flagellator.