On this day …….. 21st of December 1839

A wager was decided on the 21st of December 1839 in Launceston, Tasmaina. For a bet of £5, Mr Rudge undertook to walk blindfolded and unaided from a house of Mr Francis round the Church Square and on to his own house inside an hour. He won the bet and gave great amusement to bystanders when he made mistaken detours.


ON THIS DAY – December 21, 1941


On a charge of having murdered his wife, Beatrice May Stroud, aged 16, Albert Edward Stroud, 20, was committed for trial by the City Coroner. The mother of the dead girl said that the couple had been married for seven months. The police said that the husband made a statement that he had an argument with his wife. He had a pea-rifle, and his wife seized hold of it. He wrenched it away and stepped back. The rifle was discharged. He had forgotten that the rifle was loaded.


ON THIS DAY – December 21, 1890


The adjourned inquest into the circumstances attending the death of William Hughes on December 21, last year was held at the Morgue by Dr Youl. The two men implicated were present in custody. Their names are Patrick M’Ginley and John Harmer, and they are at present undergoing sentences of imprisonment at Pentridge for an assault committed by them upon Hughes on the 27th September. The circumstances of the case, according to the evidence at the previous trial, are briefly these Harmer and M’Giniey attacked Hughes, whom they suspected of giving information to the police, at Swanston street. A man named John O’Neil interfered, and the assailants made off as the police appeared. O’Neil escorted Hughes to his home, in Little Lonsdale street, and afterwards went out with him again, when the same two men rushed at them, and Harmer struck Hughes a violent blow on the head with a slingshot, while O’Neil was also severely maltreated the assailants were afterwards arrested by Constable Lowry and Constable M’Leod, and were found guilty at the Criminal Sessions of an assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. M’Ginley was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment, and Harmer to two years Hughes never recovered from the injuries which he received, and died on the 21st ult. from an abscess on the brain brought about by fracture of the skull. The men who had inflicted the injuries upon him were therefore arraigned on the capital charge. Mr. Finlayson conducted the examination for the Crown, and the prisoners were not represented by counsel. John O’Neil, who was with Hughes on the evening of the 27th of September, described the circumstances of the assault, and identified the convicts Harmer and M’Ginley as the men who had committed it, evidence relating to the previous trial at the Criminal Court was tendered by Mr Daniel Berriman, of the Crown Law department Dr. Stirling, Dr Syme, and Dr Rudall supplied the medical evidence, which went to show that death was due to an abscess on the brain, produced by a fracture of the skull. Witnesses were also called to show that the deceased had not suffered any subsequent injuries to the head. The Coroner, in summing up to the jury, stated that if they believed the evidence which had been adduced it was their duty to find the prisoners guilty of the capital charge. After an absence of a few minutes a verdict was returned to the effect that both convicts were guilty of wilful murder. They were removed in custody, and will be brought up at the criminal sittings of the Supreme Court in February.


ON THIS DAY – December 21, 1946


Mrs. Gloria Mary Bruin, of East St. Kilda, aged 19 years wife of a Dutch serviceman, was committed for trial at the coroner’s court for the murder of her father, Francis Herbert, aged 51 years. He was a postal employee and died from gunshot wounds in the head at his daughter’s home on December 21. Flt.-Sgt. Robert Charles Herbert, R.A.A.F., said that his father was given to extreme violence when he was either drunk or sober


ON THIS DAY – December 21, 1908


An examination by Dr. Brett has disclosed a peculiarly, revolting case of infanticide: The victim was a child who, on the 21st December, was found on a vacant allotment opposite the mint. When found the body was wrapped in a piece of towelling, and enclosed in a card board boot box. A piece of towelling had been forced into the wind pipe of the child, who had thus been choked to death. Wounds were also found upon the front portion of the head, obviously caused by some sharp instrument. There is not the slightest clue to the perpetrators.


On this day …….. 21st of December 1936

Falling from one of the cars of the ‘big dipper’ at Luna Park, St. Kilda, on this day in 1936, Harry Maltby (22), of Albert Park, was struck by another car and was so severely injured that he died. Maltby, who was accompanied by Vincent Clancy of Albert Park, was riding in one of the three cars of the ‘big dipper’ train. He stood up and fell onto another track of the ‘big dipper.’ The brakeman applied the brakes and then rushed across and tried to drag Maltby clear of the rails, but Maltby’ s clothing was entangled in the brake slides. Another train struck Maltby, and then struck the rear of the train from which he had fallen.


ON THIS DAY – December 21, 1939


Following an altercation at North Melbourne, Frederick Stringer, aged 42 years, died while being taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital. In the City Court James Simpson, 33, wharf labourer, of Buncle street, North Melbourne, was charged with having murdered Stringer. Asking for a remand, Sub-inspector Charlesworth said that at about 10 p.m. on the 21st December, an altercation occurred between the accused, James Simpson, and Frederick Stringer at a house in Buncle street, where both men lived. The police alleged that Simpson obtained a butcher’s knife and attacked Stringer with it, inflicting a deep wound in the front of the chest and one in the region of the heart. Simpson was remanded until the 29th December.


On this day …….. 21st of December 1903

At Snake Valley, after a lapse of some months, the ‘Tantanoola tiger’ has again made its appearance. It was first seen about three weeks ago by a resident of Haddon. The animal was apparently journeying towards the Smythesdale bush. The residents stated that they had a view of the animal, and are sure it was a tiger, although much smaller than the Bengal species. It was again seen by Mr. Hedley, the manager of the Watson’s Hill Dredging Company, when visiting one of the company’s dams in the vicinity of Ross’s Creek last week. He saw the tiger drinking only about 50 yards distant, and it was on view for fully ten minutes. Mr. Hedley says it resembled a panther rather than a tiger


ON THIS DAY – 20th December 1908

A little boy named Christian Bulguard informed his parents on this day in 1908, that there was a parcel behind some scaffolding of William St, Melbourne. The matter was brought under the notice of the police, Constable Porter, made an examination and discovered that the parcel contained the body of an infant child, with n piece of calico lightly tied round the neck. The body was removed to the morgue, where an inquest was held.


ON THIS DAY – 20th December 1890

A man Mr. James Johnston has been removed from hospital to the Ballarat gaol under a warrant for murdering his daughter. Johnston asked Dr. Scott if he was in a mad house. Sergt. Charles, who read the warrant, says that Johnston seemed bewildered, and that when he was told his children were dead his features underwent a fearful change, and he seemed stunned ” Oh, no, who says so, take me home to them”. Johnston was executed on the 18th May 1891.


ON THIS DAY – December 20, 1940


Found guilty of the murder of Alfred Thomas Atherton, 35, hotel useful, on the 20th of December, at Ferntree Gully, Morris Ansell, 19, metal polisher, of Victoria Street, Carlton, was sentenced to death by Mr. Justice Martin in the Criminal Court. The Jury added a strong recommendation for mercy because of Ansell’s youth. In the course of evidence at the trial, Mrs. Atherton, wife of the murdered man, said that she had been living apart from her husband. About eight months ago she met Ansell in a house in South Yarra, and two months later went to live at Ferntree Gully, and later at Victoria Street, Carlton. She had hoped to obtain a divorce so that she could marry Ansell. According to police evidence, Ansell confessed that he shot Atherton. An sell had said that he had arranged to go with Atherton to Ferntree Gully, where he Informed Atherton that Mrs. Atherton was working. Before leaving home he had placed his pea rifle under his coat. When walking along the road to Boronia, Atherton had said to him (An sell): ‘I suppose my wife is running about with other men. If I thought that she was in trouble I would kill her.’ Ansell told the police: ‘I said to myself I will kill you first.’ Ansell then said that ‘Atherton turned his head and I shot him.’


On this day …….. 20th of December 1910

The weather in Melbourne on this day was quite wintry, and colder than has been for some time. At Ballarat such cold weather has not been experienced in December for about 40 years, snow fell.