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.


EXECUTION THIS DAY – April 4, 1853

Shortly after eight o’clock, the extreme sentence of the law was carried into effect upon George Whitfield Pinkerton, the murderer of the unfortunate Mrs Smith and infant at Brighton, the particulars of which must fresh in the recollection of our readers. From the moment of Pinkerton’s condemnation, the Rev. Mr. Hetherington, Presbyterian minister, has been unremitting in his attention to him, and it is to be hoped that the Rev. gentlelman’s exertions have not been without their beneficial effects. The same apparent indifference to his fate which was manifested by the prisoner at his trial, was however persevered in to the last moment; no expression of regret for his enormous crime escaped him, and to those around he frquently ridiculed the only plea which could have assisted to save his life. His health had become much improved since his trial, and there can be no doubt he would, under skilful medical treatment, have fully recovered from the inflicted injuries, which it was at first thought would have proved fatal within a few hours of their infliction. During the night previous to his execution, Pinkerton slept soundly and on waking immediately remembered and remarked upon that being his last day upon earth. He attired himself in the suit which he had worn upon his trial and at an early hour was visited by the Reverend Mr. Hetherington, to whom he apparently attended with great attention till within a few moments of eight o’clock, when the wretched man who was so soon to terminate his career upon the scaffold, appeared in the passage, when, upon a signal from the Governor of the Gaol the executioner, who had been for some time in the western extremity of the Gaol, made an appearance, and commenced the task of pinioning the prisoner’s arms. It has been remarked by persons in the habit of attending public executions that it is at this moment the courage of the prisoner usually gives way. Such was certainly not the case on the present occasion, the prisoner remaining as firm as a rock, and immediately afterwards the white cap having been adjusted, he expressed his readiness to meet his doom. On entering the yard in which the instrument of death was erected, the sight which usually strikes terror to the hearts of the most hardened, had no effect on him. He mounted the scaffold with a firm step, attended by the Reverend gentleman we have named, and on the very instant that he reached the platform, the rope was adjusted round the criminal’s neck, the bolt was drawn, and all was over. Death, to all appearance, did its work in a moment, without creating even the slightest appearance of a struggle in the victim. On gazing at the suspended and stiffened corpse, the thought intruded itself that such a scene was more adapted for the barbarous ages than an enlightened nineteenth century. The number of spectators was quite as large as usual on such occasions, notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather, and amongst them, to their shame be it said, we observed many females and children. The body, after hanging an hour, was cut down, and upon examination, the features were found to be distorted to a far less extent than is usually the case. It has been stated to us upon good authority, that Pinkerton within the last few days admitted to a person who visited him, that his original statement to the effect that the attack upon poor Smith was unpremeditated, was untrue. Doctors Youl, Barker, and Hutchison, held a post mortem examination on the head of the murderer, and gave a written opinion which could not fail to prove satisfactory to the Executive Council that the brain was in a sound healthy state, and denoting nothing to lead to the supposition that he had ever been deranged.


ON This Day – 31st March 1908

It was arranged by the Penal authorities, that Mr. R. Paterson, governor of the Geelong gaol, shall take over, the charge of the Melbourne Gaol on this day in 1908. He return to Geelong in the evening, and hand over the care of the Geelong gaol to Mr Furnell, of Beechworth, who has been appointed to succeed him. Mr. Paterson was extremely popular with his staff, who regret his departure from Geelong.


On This Day – 24th March 1866

Convict Jeremiah Lee was charged at the Geelong Gaol with disobedience of orders by Turnkey Sharry and was sentenced to be discredited from billet by the Governor.


On This Day – 23rd March 1875

On this day in 1875, Mr Peter Dwyer, Governor of the Geelong gaol, was asked upon what terms the labour of prisoners can be obtained for working in the Geelong Botanical Gardens.



On This Day – 13th March 1866

Convict George Ingram was charged with using filthy language at the Geelong Gaol by Turnkey Bridget Burns and was admonished by the Governor.



On This Day – 13th March 1866

Convict Henry McKay was charged with using filthy language at the Geelong Gaol, by Turnkey Bridget Burns and was admonished by the Governor.



On This Day – 13th March 1867

Convict William Henry Strut was charged at the Geelong Gaol, with disobedience of orders by Turnkey Wheatland and was sentenced to 48 hours solitary confinement with bread and water by the Governor.



On This Day – 13th March 1867

Convict Elizabeth O’Connor was charged at the Geelong Gaol with disobedience of orders by the Female Turnkey Mary Byrne and was sentenced to 48 hours solitary confinement with bread and water by the Governor.



On This Day – 12th March 1868

Convict Alice Smith was charged at the Geelong Gaol with insolence by Female Turnkey Murphy and was sentenced to 24 hours of bread and water by the Governor.



On This Day – 11th March 1908

It was decided on this day in 1908, that some important changes in the Penal Department with the transfer of Mr. R. Paterson, governor of the Geelong gaol, to a post in the Melbourne gaol. Mr. Furnell, governor of the Beechworth gaol, succeed him in Geelong.



EXECUTION THIS DAY ……… March 10, 1866


At 10am on the 10th of March 1866, at the Castlemaine Gaol, a Chinaman named Long Poy, was executed for murder. Before the execution, the Rev Mr Allnutt attended the criminal, with James Ah Coy, interpreter of Castlemaine. Long Poy was deeply affected and resigned to his fate. He still gave the same account of the murder as at his trial. When the Sheriff entered the condemned cell, the unfortunate man gave himself up quietly, and walked out after the Sheriff and Governor of the Gaol to the drop, which is immediately outside that cell on the gallery, and whilst the funeral service was being read in the usual way (Long Poy being a Christian) and whilst the hangman tied his arms to his sides, pulled the white cap over his face, and adjusted the rope, the convict spoke several times in Chinese, chiefly about his brother caring for his young wife, a Sydney native, and infant, so long as she remained unmarried; also about sending her to her parents to Sydney, and further saying that if she wished to get married she was not to be prevented doing so. Whilst so talking, blindfolded, in a strong clear unfaltering voice, and warning his brother against quarrelling, the fatal bolt was drawn and the body fell with a shock, dislocating the neck, the feet being then suspended about two feet from the flags of the corridor, There was not much convulsion of the body perceptible, but the feet and legs trembled so as to cast off the left boot. The pulse did not cease wholly to beat for eight minutes after the fall; in Young’s case, a powerful man, he died in less than one minute, but the deceased was of slight build. MThere is little about the formation of this place of execution to give the feeling of horror connected with the old gallows. It is a simple yet perfect contrivance; a broad board forms part of the crossing of the gallery floor, with a beam above it, appearing a portion of the roofing, over which hung the rope, the only emblem of the painful scene thereto be enacted.