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ON THIS DAY…… 26th September 1853

Elizabeth and Michael Finnessy were married in Burra, South Australia, they had two children who had both died. The couple had moved to Victoria and lived in a small house in Chinatown. A week before Elizabeth was murdered, she had found at that her husband was married to another woman, who was still alive. With this news Elizabeth began to drink heavily and was locked up in the watch house to sober up. On being release she was taken back to her house to speak with her husband. Sitting in the lounge room Michael said “Won’t you speak to me Lizzy” and upon this the man who lived in the house with the couple left the room, thinking they would become reconciled.  Remaining just outside in the street, he heard a pistol shot. Returned to the room he saw Elizabeth stumbling across the room, she returned to the part near where she had been sitting, and falling under the table.

She was raised up and placed upon a sofa in the room, but was barely able to speak. In a soft voice she begged the man who placed her there, to fetch a priest, as she knew she was dying. So didn’t speak again and died within 10 mins.

Her husband, almost immediately after the dreadful deed, rushed into the next room, and proceeded to reload the pistol, but was stopped before he could kill himself. He was arrested and charged with his wife’s murder. Michael was executed on the 25th of October 1853, at the same time as another murderer. After hanging the usual time, one hour, the bodies were taken down and conveyed to their destination at the Melbourne Cemetery.

 

 

 

ON THIS DAY…… 16th September 1861

On this day in 1861, there were altogether 291 prisonors in the gaols of Melbourne; 214 males and 3 females in the Central Gaol; 31 males and 43 females in the Western Gaol. Tho prisoners are classified as follow:-Awaiting trial at the Police Court, 18 males, 1 female ; under remand from magistrate, 9 malee., 7 females; belonging to other stations, 2 males; road-gang, 2 males; hard labour, 124 males, 6 females; imprisonment only, 47 males, 32 females; lunatics, 14 males, 8 females; in default of surettes, 8 males debtors, 8 males ; contempt of court, 1 male.

 

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 – August 13, 1905

At the police court, Mary Ellen Cuthbert, a young unmarried woman, was charged with having murdered a female infant. The child was found dead in an oilcloth bag, on the banks of the Campaspe, on the 13th August 1905. Accused was housed at the Melbourne Gaol. A certificate was received from the medical officer stating that the woman was not fit to appear before the Court. The case was accordingly adjourned to August 29. Cuthbert was found to be insane.

 

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.

 

A rare photo of Ned Kelly not seen by the public in 138 years has resurfaced

A RARE photo of outlaw bushranger Ned Kelly not seen by the public for 138 years went under the hammer at auction in February 2016. The photo has only previously been seen by a select few when Lawsons auction house sold it in 1988. The photo formerly belonged to descendants of William Turner, the 1878-9 Mayor of Launceston in Tasmania and since its 1988 sale it has been kept in a private Sydney collection. It has now resurfaced and will go under the hammer once again. The photo taken in December 1878 shows a relaxed Ned Kelly, centre, standing with his brother Dan Kelly on the left and gang member Steve Hart on the right. The photo was signed by all three men but the signatures were written by Joe Byrne, a Kelly Gang member, as none of the other men could read or write. Tom Tompson, a publisher and specialist for auction houses, told News Corp Australia the photo was taken in the town of Euroa on the day the Kelly Gang robbed the local bank. This was the Kelly’s first bank robbery and a means to support themselves while in hiding from authorities. Tompson said the photo was taken as an attempt for the men to gain support from sympathisers. “Ned was compiling letters, which Joe Byrne actually wrote for him, and these were put to newspapers who in the main would not publish them because the Victorian police were coming down hard on anything that looked like sympathetic treatment of outlaws,” Tompson said. Tompson said the photo shows the three men deliberately portraying a different image of themselves having gotten rid of their old clothing. “You can see a larrikin streak which is obviously there, they’ve got their new duds (clothes), they’re making their mark and it’s a very likeable shot of the Kellys instead of the dour, dark and troubling ones that exist,” he said. The photo has been pasted on a Tasmanian photographer’s card, then glued to 1920s Kodak paper. The photo has now been published in the new edition of George Wilson Hall’s book The Kelly Gang, Or, Outlaws of the Wombat Ranges. Tompson said there is huge historic value to the photo. “The Kellys are very much part of a mythical Australia,” he said. “At the time the Irish were being treated incredibly badly, they weren’t allowed to have schooling or own horses. “They bought out the Irish police to create the Victorian police force to keep a form of class distinction,” he said. The Kelly Gang became a Robin Hood-type myth for a lot of people who were struggling with their life in Australia, he added. Tompson said photos such as this one were traded between sympathisers and photographers for years. Lawsons auction house expects the photo to sell for between $10,000 and $15,000 but Thompson predicts it could go for much more. The photo was taken just over a year before the Kelly Gang’s last stand with police at the siege at Glenrowan where Ned and others wore their homemade metal armour. Ned Kelly was the only one of his gang to survive the siege and was hung at Melbourne Gaol in 1880 where he uttered “such is life” before he was hung.

 

EXECUTED THIS DAY – July 26, 1859

 

Richard Rowley, who was sentenced to death at the Supreme Court on the 18th instant, for a violent and premeditated assault, with intent to murder, committed by him on Denis Kilmartin, one of the overseers at the Pentridge Stockade, on the 25th of June, suffered the extreme penalty of the law at 10 o’clock yesterday morning at the Melbourne Gaol.  The unhappy man, since his conviction has been attended by the Rev. Mr. Studdert, the Gaol Chaplain, and the Rev. Mr. Bryan, the Chaplain at Pentridge. He expressed a deep contrition for the offence of which he was found guilty, and at the last moment died penitent. On being summoned by the Sheriff from his cell, precisely at 10 o’clock, he walked out, pale, but with a firm step. His arms having been pinioned by the executioner, the mournful procession walked slowly down the passage towards the scaffold, the Burial Service being read by Mr. Bryan. Rowley mounted the steps leading to the drop without hesitation or apparent fear; he had evidently braced his nerves and summoned all his resolution to meet his impending fate with firmness. On reaching the drop he knelt and prayed. When he rose his countenance was blanched, but apparently not from terror at the dreadful apparatus of death on which he stood. He turned round to his minister, and bade him good-by, and then, noticing the Governor of the Gaol, said, “Goodby, Mr. Wintle.” These were the last words he uttered. A white cap was then drawn down tightly over his face, and a few moments later — the only sound now heard being the solemn voice of the clergyman repeating the service for the dead—the bolt was drawn, and the wretched man was launched into eternity. A slight convulsive shudder ran through his frame, and in a few moments he ceased to live, death taking place in 42 seconds from the time of his fall. He was cut down at 11 o’clock. Shortly afterwards, an inquest was held on the body by the City

The deceased was a native of Greenwich, and was born in 1824. At 13 years of age, having been tried and convicted of a robbery, committed by him in London, he was transported to Van Diemen’s Land for a period of seven years. He has since repeatedly been sentenced to various terms of imprisonment in this colony for numerous thefts. At the time of his committing the offence which has led to his execution he was confined in the Pentridge Stockade under cumulative sentences, altogether making a term of 32 years’ imprisonment. It would seem to be the knowledge of this fact, and despair of ever regaining his liberty, which led him to the commission of the deed for which he suffered. The unhappy man stated that he had been brutally ill-treated by his overseer Kilmartin, at the Stockade. There do not, however, appear to be any grounds for supposing such a statement to be correct, and it will also be remembered that Rowley made this statement in a moment of great excitement at his trial, but he never subsequently alluded to it in calmer moments. Kilmartin was frightfully injured in the desperate affray, in which also Mr. Mitchell, another overseer, was severely wounded by the wretched criminal.

ON THIS DAY – JULY 25, 1916

Antoine Picone the Italian who shot and killed Joseph Luricella, a compatriot, in Queen Victoria Market on July 25, was hanged in Melbourne Gaol. Picone had been attended until the last minute by Father J. Donovan, and when led on to the scaffold carried his hand a small photograph and a paper containing a lock of hair. He asked that they might be buried with him. The sheriff promised him the request would be granted, and then asked him if he had anything further to say. Picone said something in a low, inaudible tone. The lever was then released, Death was instantaneous. Luricella was shot through the head with an automatic revolver as the result of a quarrel with Picone. The tragedy occurred in the early morning.

EXECUTED ON THIS DAY ……………. 11th of July 1861

Henry Coolley, sentenced to death for the murder of his wife at Heathcote, was executed on the 11th inst., at the Central Gaol, Melbourne. On the previous night he made a full confession, a copy of which We append:—”Central Jail, Melbourne, “Wednesday evening, 10th July, 1861. “I, Henry Cooley, by the faith of redemption through our Saviour Jesus Christ, before appearing in the presence of my Maker, desire voluntarily, and of my own free will and accord, to make the fullest statement I can in the world for my heinous crime by confession and acknowledgment of the justice of the sentence of death passed upon me for taking the life of my lamented wife Harriet Cooley.

“Incompatibility of temper was unfortunately for us a source of constant disagreement. On the 15th of March, the day previous to this last occurrence, my wife had been to McIvor races, and we quarrelled between 8 and 9 o’clock in the morning about her having been in company with another woman whose company it was not proper of her to keep, when, instead of curbing my temper and enduring with patience, trouble and affliction, exasperated by passion, I raised the axe and struck my wile on the head—her death was instantaneous. When I found life was gone I did not know what to do. At last I made up my mind to conceal the body. I took the lighted candle off the table, harnessed my horse, in the spring cart, and carrying the lighted candle in my hand, led the horse into the bush about half a mile, and concealed the remains amongst the branches of a fallen ironbark tree. I heard the voice of some person cooeying in the direction of the hut, and drove off in a fright, leaving the candle burning on the ground. I returned home, and walked about the hut all night in great distress. Next morning (Sunday) I went back to the place and found that the candle had set fire to the grass about the tree and consumed the body. I did not then in any way disturb the remains, but turned in horror from the spot. About ten days after this, on hearing that I was about to be apprehended, I went again to the place and scattered the remains.  “The evidence adduced of the remains having been re-burnt is not true, for to my knowledge they were not. The piece of burnt while metal, supposed to have been a ‘billy’ was what was left of the tin candlestick.

“This is my last confession, and the true statement of the murder of my wife and the concealment of her remains; and may God be merciful unto her, a sinner, hurried into eternity, and pardon her sins. A few faults she had, but her good qualities were many; and I earnestly pray that God will forgive her. Husbands and wives, love one another; children, obey your parents; and blessed are they who keep the Lord’s commandments, and through salvation inherit-eternal life. While I deeply deplore and lament the murder of my wife, I do not now regret to quit this earthly scene and term of trial and tribulation to fit us for a better and a happier state. I deserve and am resigned to my fate, and I earnestly pray that others may take warning by my untimely end. “Farewell? May grace be unto all; and the Lord have mercy on my soul!

Amen, “HENRY COOLEY.”

EXECUTED THIS DAY – JULY 6, 1860

The murderer of the Hunts, George Waines, was executed yesterday morning, in the Melbourne gaol. No further confession than that already published was made by the unfortunate man. Up to the last moment he was attended by the Rev. Mr. Stoddart, who states that he appeared deeply penitent for his crime. A few minutes after ten o’clock the cell door was opened, by order of the sheriff, and after a few moments delay Waines came out into the corridor, looking firm, collected, and resigned. After casting a glance round at the small crowd grouped behind him, and wiping away a few tears, he submitted himself to be pinioned without a word or a murmur escaping his lips. During the operation he remained apparently unmoved, and upon its completion marched with a firm step to the foot of the drop, the stairs of which he ascended in like manner. Hardly a minute elapsed before the fatal bolt was drawn, and Waines launched into eternity. The last words of the chaplain, “Man hath but a short time to live” must have been ringing in the wretched culprit’s ears as he fell. A few muscular spasms of the limbs ensued, but there was no sign of suffering; in fact,a more merciful execution, if any can be merciful, could not have taken place. After hanging the usual time, the body was cut down. The one redeeming feature in Waines’ character appears to have been his affection for his wife, of whom he frequently spoke to Mr. Stoddart, In the letter he wrote her it was his wish that a lock of his hair should be enclosed. This last injunction has, of course, been observed. He also gave to an old acquaintance a religious book, put into his hands by the chaplain, accompanied by a request that its contents might be earnestly studied. The story that Waines had been previously convicted for manslaughter, and transported, he was anxious should be contradicted. By the prison books we find that he arrived in the colony a free man, in the year 1853, by the ship Duke of Richmond, from Liverpool, and that he was born at Sherborne, in Dorsetshire, in 1823. His English as well as his colonial occupation was that of a farmer.

EXECUTED THIS DAY – July 1, 1895

ARTHUR BUCK – MELBOURNE GAOL

Arthur Buck, who murdered Catherine Norton at South Melbourne on the 28th April last, was executed in the Melbourne Gaol last Monday morning at 10 o’clock. The arrangements made by the governor of the gaol, Captain Burrows, and the medical officer, Dr. Shields, were perfect, and the execution passed off without a hitch. The murderer met his death calmly, and at his own request the usual prayers and devotional exercises were dispensed with. Though the chaplain, the Rev. H. F. Scott, had been respectfully received by the prisoner, his ministrations fell on an unresponsive ear, and the man died as he had lived, an atheist. The recently appointed sheriff, Mr. A. McFarland, was present in his official capacity, and the attendance of the public totalled seven, the smallest number recorded at an execution in Melbourne for years past.

The crime for which Buck suffered the extreme penalty of the law was a diabolical one, unrelieved by a single redeeming feature. The victim, Catherine Norton, had a short and an usually wretched existence. She married a labourer when only 17 years old, and within 12 months was not only situated in the most squalid surroundings, but was continually quarrelling with her husband. At length her home became unbearable, and she left it to live with Buck, who was about her own age. After a few months Buck went to New South Wales, Norton meantime going as housekeeper to a labourer named Thorpe in South Melbourne. Buck returned to Melbourne in April, sought out Norton, and having vainly endeavoured to persuade her to go away with him, he cut her throat. The dying woman staggered towards her residence, and Buck stood by in a dark corner while the people gathered and doctors and police were summoned. Then he walked to his home in Richmond, went to bed, and slept till Detectives Cawsey, Dungey, and Carter sought him later in the day. He callously admitted the deed, gave the whole of the horrible details, but expressed no word of sorrow for the victim or remorse for the act.

An hour and an half subsequent to the execution a formal inquest was held by the City Coroner, Dr. Youl, when a verdict of “death from judicial hanging” was recorded. At sunset the body was buried in quicklime in the gaol yard.

ON THIS DAY – June 28, 1842

Charles Ellis (alias Yanky Jack), Martin Fogarty , Daniel Gepps (Jepps) and Jack Williams, were raiding farm houses and robbing people around the Dandenong area, when it became too hot there they moved over to the Plenty River area. They made a raid on Campbell Hunters house on the Plenty river. They made a mistake and stayed to have breakfast, and the Law caught up with them. Gang member Jack Williams was shot dead by Oliver Gourlay, after a hand to hand fight. After the gun battle that lasted one hour , Ellis, Fogarty and Jepps surrendered and all 3 were hanged on the hill beside the Old Melbourne Gaol north of Melbourne. All  4 buried together.