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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.

 

EXECUTED THIS DAY – September 16, 1889

THE CARLTON MURDER.

The last scene in the tragedy which opened in Somerset-place. Carlton, on the 8th July was enacted at the Melbourne Gaol at 10 o’clock yesterday morning, at which hour the miserable man Castillo suffered death at the hands of the common hangman.

A minute or two before 10 the iron gate leading into the yard swung open for the admission of the sheriff, Col Rede; the Governor of the Gaol, Colonel Hall, having preceded him a few minutes, and taken his station by the door of the condemned cell. As the sheriff advanced to claim the body of the convict in the usual manner, the hangman, Jones, disguised in a false beard, noiselessly appeared at the other side of the drop, and crossed over and entered the cell. The sheriff’s demand was soon answered by the appearance of the miserable man Castillo, leaning heavily on the arms of two warders, who evidently had all they could do to support him. It is but a step from the door of the cell to the drop, and the convict was quickly in position, with his back to the iron railing. His appearance was ghastly in the extreme. The prison dress is not the most picturesque in the world, and the contrast between the dark colour of the terror-stricken face and the revolting head gear, called the “white cap,” was startling. The executioner having adjusted the rope, the sheriff, in a firm voice, asked the convict if he desired to make any statement. The answer of a distinct though faint “No” conveyed a volume of suppressed agony, and the unfortunate creature’s body began to sway and bend like a reed before the wind. Supporting hands were ready, and while Dean Donaghy whispered some last words of consolation, the signal was given, the bolt was drawn, and Castillo dropped the full length of his rope, a dead man. He must have died instantaneously.

There were some amongst the spectators who declared that the man was dead before the drop fell, dead from sheer fright and exhaustion of the nerve, which had been kept in such terrible tension. Whether that be or not, the cause of death must be ascribed to dislocation of the neck. After the drop not a muscle moved, and the medical officer, Dr. Shields, pronounced him dead at once. The drop, on account of the light weight of the prisoner – he was only 7 stone, and undersized – was longer than usual, being about nine feet. Not the slightest hitch occurred. and the whole business was mercifully short.

ON THIS DAY…… 28th August 1871

A most deliberate and cruel murder of a Chinaman was committed on the Beechworth- Myrtleford Road. Two Chinamen in a cart named Ah Woo and Ah Cow, were stopped by James Quinn who offered them a shilling for a ride, which they agreed. Not 30 yards down the track Quinn attacked Ah Cow so violently that the Chinaman passed out. Quinn then threw his lifeless body from the cart. A struggle then began between Ah Woo and Quinn until Ah Woo was also unconscious. Stopping the cart Quinn then drowned Ah Woo in a water race beside the road.

Witness watched as Quinn took 40 pounds from his victim, before running into the hills. The police under the guidance of Inspector Smith were able to find Quinn, and had him brought to the Beechworth Goal were four witnesses identified him as the killer. Quinn murder trial was on the 14th of October 1871 in the Beechworth Circuit Court. The Judge Sir Redmond Barry, known as the hanging Judge, presided over the case, which finished at midnight. On passing the death sentence Sir Redmond asked James “do you have anything to say?” Quinn replied “It’s not my fault, my wife made me do it.” On the morning of 14th of November at 9.00am Quinn was walked from the condemned man’s cell with Father Moran and Bamford the hangman. On reaching the gallows Quinn asked if he could speak, “I wish to say something. I am going to die an innocent man. I blame my wife for what has happened to me. She and her friends got me to come over from Tasmania and then they robbed me of 50 pounds.” Bamford then tied Quinn’s legs and his hands behind his back, placed a white hood over his head and a rope around his neck. Quinn said “She brought me to this, God Help Me.” The lever was pulled and Quinn dropped to his death After his execution it was discovered that the gates of the gaol had not been opened and the official witnesses, numbering 70 in total, hadn’t been let in. The gates were hastily opened but the public could only see Quinn’s lifeless body swinging from the rope. Quinn’s description after death was height 6 foot, black hair, hazel eyes, scar on left eyebrow, long scar on right shoulder and two scars on right breast

 

EXECUTED THIS DAY – April 29, 1912

VICTOR PFEFFER

Joseph Victor Pfeffer, 33 years of age, suffered the extreme penalty of the law in the Melbourne gaol to-day for the murder of his sister-in-law, Florence Whitley, at Albert Park. The condemned man appeared resigned to his fate, and took a farewell of his wife yesterday afternoon. He slept well during the night and walked to the scaffold calm and fearlessly. The sheriff, the governor of the gaol, Dr. Godfrey, and half a dozen others were present, in addition to the warders. When asked by the sheriff if he had anything to say, Pfeffer replied in a clear voice, “I have to thank the Rev. Kieth Forbes for his administrations to me, and also the governor of the gaol and officers for their kindness. I am sorry for what I have done, and sorry that I have to leave my wife, children, and mother to mourn my disgrace.” The hangman then adjusted the rope, the bolt was drawn, and Pfeffer, who weighed 10st. 1lb., dropped a distance of 7ft. 10in. Death was instantaneous and without any quivering of the rope. The usual formal inquest will be held this afternoon. A crowd, including a number of women, had collected about the gaol gates, but there was no demonstration.

 

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 ……… March 10, 1866

CASTLEMAINE

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

EXECUTED THIS DAY – September 16, 1889

THE CARLTON MURDER.

The last scene in the tragedy which opened in Somerset-place. Carlton, on the 8th July was enacted at the Melbourne Gaol at 10 o’clock yesterday morning, at which hour the miserable man Castillo suffered death at the hands of the common hangman.

A minute or two before 10 the iron gate leading into the yard swung open for the admission of the sheriff, Col Rede; the Governor of the Gaol, Colonel Hall, having preceded him a few minutes, and taken his station by the door of the condemned cell. As the sheriff advanced to claim the body of the convict in the usual manner, the hangman, Jones, disguised in a false beard, noiselessly appeared at the other side of the drop, and crossed over and entered the cell. The sheriff’s demand was soon answered by the appearance of the miserable man Castillo, leaning heavily on the arms of two warders, who evidently had all they could do to support him. It is but a step from the door of the cell to the drop, and the convict was quickly in position, with his back to the iron railing. His appearance was ghastly in the extreme. The prison dress is not the most picturesque in the world, and the contrast between the dark colour of the terror-stricken face and the revolting head gear, called the “white cap,” was startling. The executioner having adjusted the rope, the sheriff, in a firm voice, asked the convict if he desired to make any statement. The answer of a distinct though faint “No” conveyed a volume of suppressed agony, and the unfortunate creature’s body began to sway and bend like a reed before the wind. Supporting hands were ready, and while Dean Donaghy whispered some last words of consolation, the signal was given, the bolt was drawn, and Castillo dropped the full length of his rope, a dead man. He must have died instantaneously.

There were some amongst the spectators who declared that the man was dead before the drop fell, dead from sheer fright and exhaustion of the nerve, which had been kept in such terrible tension. Whether that be or not, the cause of death must be ascribed to dislocation of the neck. After the drop not a muscle moved, and the medical officer, Dr. Shields, pronounced him dead at once. The drop, on account of the light weight of the prisoner – he was only 7 stone, and undersized – was longer than usual, being about nine feet. Not the slightest hitch occurred. and the whole business was mercifully short.

ON THIS DAY…… 28th August 1871

A most deliberate and cruel murder of a Chinaman was committed on the Beechworth- Myrtleford Road. Two Chinamen in a cart named Ah Woo and Ah Cow, were stopped by James Quinn who offered them a shilling for a ride, which they agreed. Not 30 yards down the track Quinn attacked Ah Cow so violently that the Chinaman passed out. Quinn then threw his lifeless body from the cart. A struggle then began between Ah Woo and Quinn until Ah Woo was also unconscious. Stopping the cart Quinn then drowned Ah Woo in a water race beside the road.

Witness watched as Quinn took 40 pounds from his victim, before running into the hills. The police under the guidance of Inspector Smith were able to find Quinn, and had him brought to the Beechworth Goal were four witnesses identified him as the killer. Quinn murder trial was on the 14th of October 1871 in the Beechworth Circuit Court. The Judge Sir Redmond Barry, known as the hanging Judge, presided over the case, which finished at midnight. On passing the death sentence Sir Redmond asked James “do you have anything to say?” Quinn replied “It’s not my fault, my wife made me do it.” On the morning of 14th of November at 9.00am Quinn was walked from the condemned man’s cell with Father Moran and Bamford the hangman. On reaching the gallows Quinn asked if he could speak, “I wish to say something. I am going to die an innocent man. I blame my wife for what has happened to me. She and her friends got me to come over from Tasmania and then they robbed me of 50 pounds.” Bamford then tied Quinn’s legs and his hands behind his back, placed a white hood over his head and a rope around his neck. Quinn said “She brought me to this, God Help Me.” The lever was pulled and Quinn dropped to his death After his execution it was discovered that the gates of the gaol had not been opened and the official witnesses, numbering 70 in total, hadn’t been let in. The gates were hastily opened but the public could only see Quinn’s lifeless body swinging from the rope. Quinn’s description after death was height 6 foot, black hair, hazel eyes, scar on left eyebrow, long scar on right shoulder and two scars on right breast

 

EXECUTED THIS DAY – April 29, 1912

VICTOR PFEFFER

Joseph Victor Pfeffer, 33 years of age, suffered the extreme penalty of the law in the Melbourne gaol to-day for the murder of his sister-in-law, Florence Whitley, at Albert Park. The condemned man appeared resigned to his fate, and took a farewell of his wife yesterday afternoon. He slept well during the night and walked to the scaffold calm and fearlessly. The sheriff, the governor of the gaol, Dr. Godfrey, and half a dozen others were present, in addition to the warders. When asked by the sheriff if he had anything to say, Pfeffer replied in a clear voice, “I have to thank the Rev. Kieth Forbes for his administrations to me, and also the governor of the gaol and officers for their kindness. I am sorry for what I have done, and sorry that I have to leave my wife, children, and mother to mourn my disgrace.” The hangman then adjusted the rope, the bolt was drawn, and Pfeffer, who weighed 10st. 1lb., dropped a distance of 7ft. 10in. Death was instantaneous and without any quivering of the rope. The usual formal inquest will be held this afternoon. A crowd, including a number of women, had collected about the gaol gates, but there was no demonstration.

 

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 ……… March 10, 1866

CASTLEMAINE

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.