Gravesites Of Tasmania




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Last execution 1946

Capital Punishment abolished in Tasmania 1968    

Click here for photos of old Gaol


1857 Alexander Cullen (Alias “Scotty”) (More to be added)    


“The Mercury” 19th August 1857

The extreme penalty of the law was yesterday morning carried into effect upon Alexander Cullen alias “Scotty” within the walls of the new gaol Campbell Street , for the willful murder of Elizabeth Ross.

The unhappy man seemed perfectly resigned to his fate.   

Melancholy Accident

The Mercury 20th August 1857

When we saw the old gaol disappearing, we had hoped that no more lives would be taken away on that spot-but we were mistaken.  The walls of this horrible building have become so inured to scenes of blood and death, that even the pulling of them down demanded its victim.  On Wednesday morning, at a few minutes after nine, a man named Taylor , whilst undermining that portion of the wall fronting upon Macquarie Street , was hurried into eternity without an instants warning.  The deceased, only a short time ago, was a principal witness against Alexander Cullen-alias “Scotty” who had expiated the murder of Elizabeth Ross within the gaol only the day previous.  There is a strange coincidence connected with this catastrophe.  When giving his evidence against Cullen, he did so with a marked reluctance-having known him from childhood.  On the very morning of Cullen’s execution, the deceased was more than once cautioned of his danger, but he seems to have taken no notice of it.  On the following morning the wall fell upon him –literally crushing him out of all form or shape, and thus, like the friend of his boyhood, although not by the hands of the law-he also came to a violent death within the walls of the gaol.  It will, indeed, be a relief when there is not one brick of this disgusting building left upon another. 

1857 James Kelly – Murder

James & Timothy Kelly appeared in the Supreme Court, Hobart on the 27th October 1857.  They were accused of murdering Coleman O’Loughlin at Avoca in the north of the state.  The Kellys were dressed in grey prison garb.

Coleman O’Loughlin had left Roderick O’Connors at around 3pm on the 3rd July and his horse and cart were later found on the road.  The Kellys had left O’Connor’s service about a week prior.

Daniel Webb had seen two men coming out of the bush towards the road where the horse and cart were found.  He recognised Timothy Kelly who was carrying a gun.

O’Loughlin’s body was found by Reverend Richardson on the 10th July.  The hearing was adjourned until the 29th October.

The Kellys claimed that they were at Cleveland on the day of the murder and had purchased the revolver, found on them when arrested, from O’Loughlin.

George Milner, who was accused with them, was found not guilty and discharged.  The Kellys, however, were convicted and remanded until the 7th November for sentencing.

They were both condemned to hang and their bodies to be dissected.

They were executed on the 28th November, along with William Maher.

Both men declared their innocence to the end.  All three were hung simultaneously.

The bodies of the Kellys were taken to the General Hospital and dissected.

1857 Timothy Kelly – Murder

James & Timothy Kelly appeared in the Supreme Court, Hobart on the 27th October 1857.  They were accused of murdering Coleman O’Loughlin at Avoca in the north of the state.  The Kellys were dressed in grey prison garb.

Coleman O’Loughlin had left Roderick O’Connors at around 3pm on the 3rd July and his horse and cart were later found on the road.  The Kellys had left O’Connor’s service about a week prior.

Daniel Webb had seen two men coming out of the bush towards the road where the horse and cart were found.  He recognised Timothy Kelly who was carrying a gun.

O’Loughlin’s body was found by Reverend Richardson on the 10th July.  The hearing was adjourned until the 29th October.

The Kellys claimed that they were at Cleveland on the day of the murder and had purchased the revolver, found on them when arrested, from O’Loughlin.

George Milner, who was accused with them, was found not guilty and discharged.  The Kellys, however, were convicted and remanded until the 7th November for sentencing.

They were both condemned to hang and their bodies to be dissected.

They were executed on the 28th November, along with William Maher.

Both men declared their innocence to the end.  All three were hung simultaneously.

The bodies of the Kellys were taken to the General Hospital and dissected.

1857 William Maher – Murder

On the 21st September 1857, a coroner’s inquest was held on the body of Catherine Maher.  She and her husband, William, had been at the Brunswick Hotel, Browns River (Kingston), three days before.  Some time later, Maher had arrived at David Gordon’s lodging house and had claimed that his wife had met with a serious accident when she’d slipped off Firths Bridge.

Gordon and his servant went with Maher and brought Catherine’s unconscious body back to the lodging house.  However, Catherine died a few hours later.

Chief District Constable Beresford inspected the accident site but could find no evidence of Catherine having slipped.  On his return, he arrested Maher.

A doctor who examined Catherine’s body, found finger marks on her throat and her injuries were consistent with blows from a heavy object, used with considerable force.

Maher appeared in the Supreme Court, Hobart on the 1st November, charged with the wilful murder of his wife.  He was found guilty, sentenced to death and executed on the 29th November in company with Timothy and James Kelly.  His body was taken to St.Marys Hospital for dissection.



1858 Thomas Callinan – Murder

Thomas Callinan appeared in the Supreme Court, Hobart charged with the murder of Amelia Dorcas Murray, on the 7th December 1857.  Amelia had vested Harriet Dorman on the 6th December collecting beef, sugar and tea before leaving for her mother’s house.  Amelia was 14 years old and Callinan “had paid his addresses to her”, which she had been agreeable to at first.

However, when she discovered he had a bad temper, she would have nothing to do with him.

Mrs.Hamilton, Amelia’s mother, had heard a scream in the distance on the 7th.  On the 27th January 1858, William Miller and a man named Banks, found a disturbed area of ground near a lagoon.  An inspection revealed a skull and some bones.  Nearby were a bag, cloth and sugar.  The remains were apparently identified by the teeth as those of Amelia Murray.

When Amelia first went missing, her mother assumed that she had gone to Hobart.

Callinan was arrested and tried on the 8th April 1858.  He was sentenced to death with his body to be dissected.  His execution took place on the 20th April.  Callinan protested his innocence to the end.  The dissection took place at St.Marys Hospital.

1858 Thomas Gault – Felonious Assault

On the evening of 7th September 1858, Mr. John Duffy, Superintendent of the Mount Nelson signal station was at home with his wife.  Suddenly, the door burst open and three men rushed in.  The first, Thomas Gault, placed a pistol at the head of Archibald Stacey, Duffy’s assistant.  The second Anthony Lovell, levelled a double-barrelled gun at Duffy’s chest.  The third man, Joseph Johnson, went into another room.

A scuffle ensued between Lovell and Duffy, who was struck behind the ear by Lovell’s gun. The men then ransacked the house while Gault searched Isabella Brown, Duffy’s niece.  The men took a watch, portmanteau with four pound and all the books in the house.

Duffy reported the robbery to the police and said that he could identify the thieves.  As a result, the three were arrested and appeared at the Supreme Court, Hobart on the 2nd December 1858.  They were charged with having feloniously assaulted John Garth and robbing him of forty pound and, on the same day, assaulting Duffy, Stacey and Isabella Brown, placing them in bodily fear and robbing them of a number of articles.  Gault was also charged with having feloniously assaulted Thomas Parlour on the 29th August and robbing him of a watch and five pound.

The three men were tried only on the second charge relating to the robbery at the signal station, which was a capital charge.  The jury returned a verdict of guilty against Gault and Lovell but discharged Johnson.  Both Gault and Lovell were sentenced to death.  Gault was an ex-convict who had served 4 years at Norfolk Island.

A petition from Duffy and Stacey to spare Lovell and Gault, was considered by the Executive Council but they confirmed the sentence on Gault.  Fortunately for Lovell, the jury had petitioned the Council regarding Lovell and his sentence was commuted.

Gault was executed on the 21st December 1858.  He expressed much contrition for his past crimes.

Due to Gault’s request, Lovell was allowed to remain with Gault in the condemned cell until the time came for his execution.


1859 *John King – Murder

John King was arrested and tried for the murder of his defacto wife.

Supposedly he had put a pistol to her head and pulled the trigger saying

“There, that will settle you.”

More research to be done  

1859 *William Davis-axe murderer

Was drunk and needed more money so beat a man’s head in with an axe to steal what he could.

More research to be done  

1859 *Peter Haley (Alias “Black Peter”) Bushranger *William Ferns (Alias ”Flowers”) Bushranger *Daniel Stewart (Alias “ Wingy”) Bushranger

Classed as “Robin Hood” type of bushrangers by the press because of their gallantry towards women they were however found guilty of shooting at Chief District Constable Richard Propsting and their defence was they had, in reality, fired at his horse to stop him.

Mr. Lees, their lawyer, obtained a petition which over 160 signatures to be presented to the court in their favour.

 However, The Mercury 15th February tells us

The Condemned

The petition from Mr. Propsting and others praying the Governor to remit the sentence of death passed upon Wingy and his associates has been forwarded to His Excellency, and a reply thereto has been received by the petitioners to the effect, that the Governor and the executive Council had sat and reconsidered their determination with regard to the fate of these unhappy men; but that, after the most careful deliberation, they were unable to alter their previous decision or interpose in any way to prevent the law from taking its course.  The three bushrangers, therefore, together with King and Davis, convicted of murder, will suffer the extreme penalty of the law within the precincts of the jail tomorrow morning at the usual hour

On the scaffold, Daniel Stewart refused to shake hands with the Rev. Davenport declaring

“This is worse than a savage government to hang men for doing nothing at all”

The Mercury 17th February 1859


Yesterday morning being appointed for the execution of the five culprits condemned to die at the last Criminal Session, that awful ceremony was performed at the usual hour and place within the precincts of the prison in the presence of the Under Sheriff and the Governor of the gaol, Mr. Reidy.  In addition to the representatives of the press, and the various subordinate officials, there were only three spectators of the fearful scene.  The Rev. Mr. Davenport, Chaplain of the gaol, was the only clergyman in attendance on the wretched criminals.

Fearns was the first who appeared, and on reaching the platform leading to the drop he turned round to the bystanders and wished them goodbye.  He then advanced steadily, and took his place under the rope. Stewart (Wingy) came next and walked firmly to the drop; Haley (Black Peter) followed and appeared completely prostrated in mind and body.

The dread silence of the preparatory arrangements only being broken by Mr. Davenport who read portions of the penitential psalms appropriate to the solemn occasion..  The arrangements being at length concluded the bolt was drawn and the unfortunate culprits were launched into eternity.  After being suspended the usual time, and on production of Dr. Benson’s certificate, the bodies were removed and interred. 

1859 Robert Brown – Carnal Knowledge

Robert Brown was arrested and tried for carnal knowledge.  His defence was that he was too drunk to know what he was doing.

More research to be added  


1859 Bernard Donohoe- wounding

On Tuesday the 31st May 1859, Bernard Donahoo (or Donahue) was arraigned in the Supreme Court, Hobart charged with the wilful murder of James Burton, at Browns River (Kingston).

When asked to plead, he said, “I think I’m guilty, Your Honour. I’m guilty of striking him!”

When the Chief Justice asked him if he understood the nature of the charge, Donahoo answered in the affirmative and his plea was recorded.  He was then remanded for sentence.

On appearing in court again two days later, Donahoo said he had not killed Burton but was informed by the Chief Justice that he had already pleaded guilty.

Burton had employed Donahoo to thresh wheat for him.  On the evening of the offence, Donahoo had asked Burton for lodgings as he (Donahoo) had sold his bed.  As Burton left to milk his cow, Donahoo had hit him with a large frying pan, and then had hit him with a spade, as he lay unconscious.  Burton, however, recovered and crawled out of the hut but Donahoo had followed him, hitting him with a stick.

Burton later managed to crawl to a neighbour’s house.

At the Executive Council hearing, the Vicar General’s letter proposing an examination of Donahoo’s mental state was read.  A three-man medical committee found Donahoo was of sound mind.  Under the circumstances, the Council confirmed the death sentence.

Donahoo’s execution took place on the 12th July 1859.  The “Hobart Town Advertiser” described him as “appearing to be totally ignorant”.




1860 John Nash – Robbing/Shooting

John Nash had been sentenced to death at the Supreme Court, Hobart on the 25TH January 1860 for the murder of John Dowling near Richmond on the 27th November 1859.  After sentencing, evidence came to light that Nash had not purchased the knife with the special blade with which the deceased’s injuries had been created until after the date of the murder.  The Chief Justice, therefore, stated that the death sentence should not be carried out.  It was commuted to a life sentence.

On the 16th April 1860 Nash again appeared before the Supreme Court.  It was now at its new location in Brisbane Street, Hobart.  Nash was charged on this occasion, of shooting at Mr. William Isles near Cleveland in the north of the state, with the intent to kill.

On the 1st December 1859 Isles had been walking towards Cleveland when he met Nash who had bailed him up and had ordered him into the bush where he was robbed.

Nash then shot Isles with a pistol, the ball striking Isles in the back.  Nash then shot him again in the side of the face.  At the time, Nash was being pursued as a suspect in the Dowling murder.  Two days later, Nash was arrested at Longford.

He was duly found guilty of shooting at Mr. Isles and sentenced to hang.

Nash was executed on the 4th May 1860 dying “without a struggle”.  His written statement claimed, “that he had not intended to kill Isles and that he was completely innocent of Dowling’s murder”.  He was the first person convicted in the new Criminal Courts to be executed although he was followed a few days later by Julius Baker, who had been condemned at the same sittings.
1860  Julius Baker – Shooting with Intent

Four men at Port Arthur, Julius Baker (a constable), Nicholas Dingle (another constable) and two convicts, James Stretton and John Donohue, plotted to arrange the escape of Stretton and Donohue for the sum of twenty pounds, payable to a fisherman who would take them off the peninsula.

Stretton had the money for his share but Donohue, who was a servant to Reverend Maguire, stole money from him to pay his share.

On 22nd December 1859, Stretton and Donohue followed Baker, who was carrying a gun, out along the Wedge Bay road.  Cutting across Wedge Bay Marsh, Baker asked the others to walk ahead.  Suddenly Donohue was hit by a ball in the shoulder, smashing the bone.  Stretton was also hit in the back.  Donohue and Stretton staggered off in different directions before Donohue fell unconscious, then Stretton fell.  Baker left both men dying but they eventually managed to stagger independently back to Port Arthur.

Baker was arrested and tried in the Supreme Court on the 25th January 1860.  The case was adjourned until the next sessions to be held in the new Criminal Court on the 17th April 1860.

His was the first case to be heard in the new No.1 Court before Chief Justice, Sir Valentine Fleming.  Baker was found guilty of feloniously shooting at John Stretton with intent to kill and sentenced to death.

Baker was executed on the 10th May 1860.

(As to Nicholas Dingle’s part in the crime, there appears to be no mention as to whether he was charged with any offence.)
1860 Martin Lydon – Indecent Assault

Martin Lydon was transported to Van Diemans Land for 14 years for striking his superior officer in the army.  He was sent to Norfolk Island where he was constantly in trouble.  In 1858, he obtained his ticket of leave in Van Diemans Land.

Ann Nora Hanby, aged 9 years, lived with her parents at Port Cygnet and Lydon worked not far from the Hanby house.  On the 21st July 1860, William Hanby, Ann’s father and his son, were at work some distance from the house.  Her mother had gone into Port Cygnet, leaving Ann to look after her 6-year-old sister.  Lydon came to the house, locked the door behind him and sexually assaulted Ann.  The younger sister, however, managed to escape before the door was locked and ran to a neighbour’s house.  The man there ran back and found the Hanby’s door locked.  He overheard Lydon say, “If you shout I’ll murder you!” so he hurried off for help.

When men finally managed to burst into the house, Lydon was getting off the bed with his clothing disarranged.

Lydon appeared in the Supreme Court, Hobart on the 6th September 1860, for sentencing after being found guilty in the sessions, “of an unnatural offence upon Ann Nora Hanby, a child of tender years”.

Chief Justice, Sir Valentine Fleming, sentenced him to death.  Lydon was executed on the 25th September 1860.  He left two written statements, one that outlined his life and how he took to drink.  He attributed his time at Norfolk Island into turning him into an animal.


1862 Margaret Coghlin – Murder


Confession of the Murderess


Mercury 19 February 1862

We would like to thank Leanne Clark for copies of convict record, inquest, “Mercury” articles etc. relating to the trial and execution of Margaret Coghlan.


“The Mercury” 7th January 1862

Yesterday morning a rumor prevailed in the city that an old man named John Coghlan, a lodging house keeper and milkman, had been found murdered in his house which is situated in Goulburn Street at the rear of the Baptist Chapel in Harrington Street .  The rumor turned out to be too true.  The following are some of the particulars connected with this frightful affair.

The deceased and his wife were both of dissipated habits and were drinking the whole of Sunday.  About half past three o’clock yesterday morning the wife of the deceased came out into the street, and shouting to the constable on duty, said that her husband was lying in bed with his throat cut.  On entering the house Coghlan was found lying in bed, undressed, with his throat frightfully gashed, and his head battered about. The bedclothes were saturated with blood, and there was also blood on the floor of the room.  A constable was at once placed in charge of the premises and deceased’s wife, Margaret Coghlan, whose clothes were stained with blood, and another woman, named Catherine Lowe, who was residing in the house, were taken into custody, and were brought up at the Police Office before the Right Worshipful the Mayor yesterday morning charged with the murder.  Detective Vickers stated that he had no evidence to offer against Lowe, for although there was blood on her clothes, yet she had satisfactorily accounted for its being there, and he therefore prayed that she might be discharged and she was discharged accordingly.  She is a native of the colony.  The other prisoner, Margaret Coghlan, is a grey headed old woman.  She said “I hope I shall be allowed to call witnesses for the purpose of showing how the blood came on my clothes.  God Almighty knows that I am an innocent woman, my husband used to sleep out every night.”  The Mayor said that she need not make any statement then as she was not upon her trial.  She was then remanded to the 13th instant, awaiting the result of the coroner’s inquest.  As she was removed from the house to the watchouse she said “they have taken away the innocent one this time.” 

1862 Charles Flanders – Murder

On the 25th April 1862, Charles Flanders entered New’s public house at Bagdad.  He asked Thomas Riley to join him in a fencing job and Riley agreed.  After drinking for a time, they left for Riley’s hut.  About 100 metres from the hut, Riley’s two children met them.  Despite the fact that Riley was very drunk and fell down several times, he did not reach the hut until between 10 and 11pm that night.

When Riley had first collapsed, Flanders had gone on with the 10 year old Mary Ann. However, when Riley eventually reached the hut, neither Mary Ann or Flanders were there, so he went out looking for his daughter.

He searched until 8am the following day, and then went into Green Ponds (Kempton) to report her missing.

Four days later, her body was found in a gully among ferns.

Dr. Oldmeadow, who examined the body, found that she had been strangled and sexually molested.

Flanders was arrested on the 7th May in Hamilton.

He appeared in the Supreme Court, Hobart on the 4th June. He was dressed in grey prison clothing as his own clothes were tattered and torn.

The case ran for two days, the jury being accommodated overnight in Mr. Allen’s Royal Exchange Hotel in Campbell Street.

Flanders was found guilty and sentenced to death with his body to be dissected at the General Hospital.

He had come to Van Diemans Land in 1846 from Norfolk Island after having been convicted in Sydney.  He had originally been transported 1in 1827 and was sent to New South Wales.

In 1855, he had been sentenced for robbery and was sent to Port Arthur.

Flanders was executed on the 24th June 1862.  He was converted to Roman Catholicism in prison and died very penitent.


1862 William Mulligan – Rape

William and Johanna Harbach were German settlers who lived on Captain Chalmer’s farm at Bagdad.  Mr. Harbach was away from home on business when William Mulligan called at the Harbach’s house.  He was armed with a pistol and a stone wrapped in a handkerchief, “in such a manner as to constitute a most formidable weapon”.

Mulligan raped Mrs. Harbach and then stole money and other items.

He was duly arrested and appeared in the Supreme Court, Hobart on the 30th October 1862, charged with rape and a second charge of felonious and violent assault of Johanna Harbach.  He was found guilty and sentenced to death.

Mulligan was a former penal settlement convict, who had spent half his life in prison.

He was executed on the 18th November 1862.  He left a statement in which he admitted his guilt.  His body was buried in the Campbell Street burial ground.



1863 Hendrick Witnalder – Sodomy

Convict Indulgencies 1860 tell us that Hendrick (or Frederick) Witnalder had been involved in the Mutiny of the Cape Rifles in South Africa and arrived in Sydney on the “Pekoe”.  He had also been sentenced to death in the Sydney Criminal Courts for raping his mistress.  He arrived in Tasmania on the “Louisa” and was well known in the Colony as a drunkard and disturber of the peace.

In 1863 he was arrested for sodomy, tried and found guilty of this offence and sentenced to hang being the last person in Tasmania to pay the penalty for this crime.

Because of his prior history, it seems unlikely this was a way of life for him

 On the day of the execution he had weights attached to his legs in an effort to shorten his suffering.

More research to be added  

1864 Robert McKavor – Robbery under arms

Robert McKavor was arrested, tried and sentenced to hang for “Robbery under Arms”.

Apparently a shepherd by the name of Edward Conningsby was driving sheep towards Oatlands when he came across McKavor.  Conningsby invited him to share his tea with him which they did.  McKavor returned later in the night and finding Conningsby asleep he attacked him with a stick in order to steal his money.

On the day of the trial, the judge told McKavor he would probably hang for such an ungrateful act.  After he was found guilty, the jury petitioned the court for him not to hang.

He was executed in 1864

More research to be added

1865 William Griffiths – Murder

18th October 1838-2nd.December 1865                

William Griffiths was born in the town of Denbigh in North Wales in 1833.  His parents held a very comfortable position in life, his father being well known and respected as a tradesman of the town and several other relations on the paternal side being well to do.

Griffiths received a good education at one of the Denbigh schools and was brought up as a member of the Church of England.  At any early age, however, he displayed symptoms of a restless disposition, and soon broke beyond the bounds of parental control, associating himself with vicious and dissolute companions.  He grew indolent, and as is generally the case, turned to alcohol.  He was led into petty crime to gratify his need for alcohol and found himself on the 16th October 1849 a prisoner on trial for stealing a pair of boots.  On this charge he was found guilty and sentenced to seven years transportation.  He arrived in Tasmania on the “Pestongee Bomangee 1V” 31st July 1852 and was 20 years of age on his arrival.  During the period of his confinement Griffiths appears to have behaved tolerably well and the gaol reports in reference to him are more favourable than ordinary.  Soon after his arrival he was assigned to Mr. Turnley of Broadmarsh and he resided in that district until 1859.  While in his assigned service he frequently manifested habits of intemperance, and was often suspected of being involved in cases of larcency which occurred in the district.  He was once arrested on a charge of stealing a pair of boots and a handkerchief , and on a subsequent occasion he was convicted of stealing a coat and received a sentence of six months imprisonment.  After undergoing his punishment Griffiths seems to have once more endeavored to mend his ways.

He received his Ticket of Leave on 14th February 1864.  A good workman, he continued to give satisfaction to his master and on the 19th December in the same year he received his conditional pardon.  Comparatively a free man it wasn’t long before he relapsed into his old habits receiving frequent reprimands for drunkenness.  In the year 1859 he moved from Broadmarsh to Glenorchy where he obtained employment as a farm servant with Dr. Butler, then Mr. R. Shoobridge and finally Mr. J.P. Lester where he remained for about three and a half years before being asked to leave on account of his unsteady habits.  Turned away from the service of Mr. Lester, Griffiths appears to have supported himself by hiring himself out to one small farmer after the other and always losing his employment because of his drinking and a growing suspicion of his dishonesty.

His last service was in the employment of Thomas Smith a small farmer residing in a cottage at O’Briens Bridge and it was from here he started on the path to his final crime, the murder of the two Johnson children, Sarah and George which led him to the ultimate punishment – death by hanging.  This was carried out on the 2nd. December 1865.  

See The Glenorchy Murders

1875 Job Smith – Rape

This case was one of the biggest arguments against capital punishment.

Margaret Ayres was the servant of the Reverend R. Hayward at Port Arthur and one day was out looking for a cow that was lost in the bush was accosted and assaulted.

 Suspicion fell on Job Smith (Convict).  He was put in a line up with two other men (supposedly he was the only one with handcuffs on) and identified by the girl.

It was noted at the time she had no marks of violence on her and said she had never seen the prisoner before which afterwards turned out to be a lie.

He was found guilty of the crime and executed.



1878  Richard Copping – Murder

This is a case based solely on jealousy.  Richard Copping’s girlfriend at the time told him she had found someone else and in a fit of rage he rushed out and found an axe.  He told people

“She deceived me and I’ll be hanged for her like a man’

He was defended by Lawyer Andrew Inglis Clarke who put forward the plea of insanity which was not accepted by the court.

Unfortunately, he didn’t act like the man he said he was when it was time for his execution.  Apparently, as he was led to the gallows, he sobbed and sobbed.  He was ministered to by the Reverend John Gray who was attending his first execution and even he, upset by the cries of Richard Copping, couldn’t continue.



1883 James Ogden & James Sutherland – Murder

The following notes are taken from “The Tasmanian Gallows” By Richard P Davis

james sutherland.jpg (28724 bytes)A little over two years after Ned Kelly had been hanged at Melbourne gaol, two young Tasmanians, James Sutherland aged 18 and his friend James Ogden, only two years older, determined to emulate his deeds.  Both were small and insignificant looking but Sutherland was of a distinctly more aggressive disposition than Ogden .

Tired of their aimless existence Sutherland and Ogden decided to go bushranging.

They picked on James Wilson, whom Ogden believed to have turned against him a girl he had hoped to marry.

Armed with a shotgun, the young men attacked Wilson ’s house in Epping, occupied not only be the Wilson family, but also by a female guest and her children, as their first victim.  Calling themselves ‘James Kelly’ and ‘Dan Riley’, though well known to the Wilson’s Ogden and Sutherland stormed the cottage, shot Wilson dead, seriously wounding his female guest, and, after taking money from Mrs. Wilson, burnt the building to the ground.  Soon afterwards they bailed up Alfred Holman, a thirty five year old married man with three children, who was driving a lemonade cart.  Holman was not only shot but scalped.  His lemonade cart was pulled off the road into the bush.  The murderers were easily traced into the bush were they were found carousing with lemonade.

After arrest, Sutherland was immensely proud of himself.  He boasted that it was much better fun to shoot men than rabbits.  He taunted Ogden with cowardice ‘go and cry for your mother’.  In the lockup however, both shouted and sang songs of praise of Ned Kelly.  After their trial and sentence they still laughed and joked.

Public opinion was so strong it became almost impossible to ensure a fair trial.  Hearing that Sutherland and Ogden were arriving at Hobart by train, a mob, shouting for their blood, besieged the railway station.  The authorities prevented a possible lynching by bringing the suspects on a different train.

The actions of Sutherland and Ogden were not those of normal men.  Apparently Ogden , described by witnesses as feeble minded, had a fit which lasted for an hour and a half in the condemned cell.  He eventually walked to the gallows with a bunch of flowers clutched in his trembling hands.

They were both executed on the 4th. January 1883.

1884 Henry Stock – Murder

henry stock.jpg (41781 bytes)

Henry Stock was only 20 years old when he married 17 year old Elizabeth …..

who already had a daughter by another man.  This little girl was the cause of many arguments between husband and wife.  Eventually, Elizabeth took the child and left the family home.

 After a struggle to bring up the child alone, Henry said he would take her back on the condition she came alone and found another home for the baby.

Elizabeth eventually returned but brought the baby with her.

It wasn’t long before their bullet marked bodies were found outside the family hut.

He was found guilty and sentenced to death and was hung 13th. October 1884.

On the day of his execution, it was reported that Henry Stock ate well, then sang and danced, finally waving farewell to the prison muster bell.

Nowadays, showing behaviour like this he would have been taken for a mental

Assessment and probably be held in a prison hospital.

(More to be added)



1887 Timothy Walker – Murder

Elizabeth Woods was living with her aunt, Harriet Hurley and a Benjamin Hampton, in Barrack Street, Deloraine in December 1886.

Timothy Walker lived in Morgans Row, Deloraine.  He and Woods had lived together until she had left him in late October after a quarrel.

About 6.30pm on the 2nd December, Woods saw Walker in Barrack Street and he asked her if they were still friends.  When she replied they were not, Walker lifted his double-barrelled gun and said he would knock her brains out.  Hampton came out of the house and asked Walker to leave quietly.  Walker shot Hampton in the left arm and fired the second barrel into Hampton’s left side.

Walker then went to his son-in-law’s house and gave the gun to his daughter.  He asked her to take care of his 6-year-old son as he expected to be arrested.

He appeared in the Supreme Court, Hobart on the 15th December 1886, on a charge of having “feloniously, wilfully and of malice aforethought, killed Benjamin Hampton”.  Walker attempted to argue that the gun had gone off during a struggle but witnesses agreed that no struggle took place.  Walker was sentenced to death.

He had been transported to Van Diemans Land and had committed a number of offences there between 1833 and 1837.

At the time of his trial, he was 76 years of age.  He was executed on the 10th January 1887.  Death was instantaneous.

1891 Arthur Cooley – Murder 

Arthur Cooley was born 7th July 1872 the son of Jeremiah and Christina White.

He was a rabbiter by profession and apparently had a good physique and had above average intelligence.

In 1891 he was arrested for the murder of Mary Ogilvy who was the wife of the Magistrate for the Richmond District.

She was on a picnic with friends when she got separated from them and was later found shot.  Motive for the crime was possibly rape.

Arthur Cooley confessed to the crime blaming his downfall on alcohol and his early imprisonment with hardened criminals.

He was sentenced to death and it was reported he was brave and composed on the day of his execution.

He was 19 years old when he was executed.

More research to be added


1914 Joseph Belbin – Murder 

Joseph Belbin was 19 years old and a ferreter when he was convicted of the murder of 16 year old Margaret Ledwell who in late 1913 had been found with her head nearly shot away and her clothing rearranged.

His defence was that he had tried to kiss her and she had kicked the gun and it exploded in her face.  However, medical evidence showed the gun could not have been fired when she was standing.  The judge directed the jury to find him guilty if he accidently killed the girl while attempting rape.

He was tried and his defence was that many of his relatives on both sides of the family were prone to taking fits (maybe epilepsy) however he was convicted and found guilty.

Belbin eventually confessed he shot her because she refused him.

For his execution, a hangman had been sent from Sydney .  It was reported that death was instantaneous.

More research to be added

1922 George Carpenter – Murder 


Carpenter George.jpg (98928 bytes)George Carpenter, age 27 married, who had previously been convicted of robbery committed 3 murders at Swansea, was convicted and sentenced to death.  He remained brazen to the end, ate and slept well.  He showed little interest in talks with the prison chaplain and walked silently to his execution.

 The Mercury Dec 28, 1922

So terrible were the crimes committed by the Swansea murderer, George Carpenter, that evenswansea murders.jpg (3198100 bytes) the maudlin opponents of capital punishment, did not even raise their voices to save him from the scaffold.  He began with a murder for robbery, then followed a murder of hatred and vengeance, and finally a murder to escape arrest.  The cool deliberation of the acts is what astonishes.  He shot Duncombe as he sat at his table, his object apparently being robbery, as it was known that the old fellow kept money on his place. Next he shot his cousin, Thomas Carpenter in the same cowardly fashion. What happened between them will never be known, but it is clear that the victim was at his work of wattle bark stripping when the murderer shot him in the back of the head. Tom Carpenter’s dog must have sensed the tragedy and protested, for it too was shot. The tale was not yet complete.  Two murders had been committed, and the murderer in neither had gained his object.  He wanted money, and to get it returned to the hut of his first victim, Duncombe, to make another search.  There he was met by Trooper Henderson, who attempted an arrest, and became the third victim.

Like all criminals George Carpenter doubtless thought that he was hiding all traces of his dreadful acts and that the murders would remain a mystery, just as many others had done.  Fortunately for the community, there is something in human nature that blinds or weakens the criminals, even the most callous and expert in the very act, and causes him to drop clues which the Sherlock Holmes’ pick up and follow.  In this case George Carpenter forgot about his footprints.  When he fled from the scene of the murder of Trooper Henderson he left behind his bag clutched by that brave officer.  He must have known that he was the ‘wanted’ man and prepared himself to fight it out.  But for that lucky shot that found a crevice in the hut in which he had sheltered and shattered his arm, it is quite possible he would have taken another life as, according to his own statement, he was seeking a chance to shoot a man named Johns when he was shot.  He had taken the lives of three good men and it seemed fitting that he too should die.

 Dreadful deeds like those of George Carpenter prove once again that civilization cannot dispense with capital punishment.  Life is the thing beyond price.  The man that takes life from base motives has only one dread-the scaffold.  Imprisonment means life under restraint but it is still life and not the end of all things.  It is something therefore that cannot be tolerated.


1946 Frederick Henry Thompson – Murder

Frederick Henry Thompson, the last man to be executed in Tasmania was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Evelyn Maughan, a child of seven who had disappeared after attending Sunday mass.  Her body was later discovered by a visitor from Sydney who was looking for his father’s grave in the disused Queenborough Cemetery .  

Two women had given a statement saying they had seen a man pushing an old pram towards the cemetery.  Enquiries led to Thompson, a married man of 32 who was brought to trial before Mr. Justice Clark, convicted and sentenced to death.

It was later revealed that Thompson had two previous convictions for indecent exposure and had also been an inmate at the Lachlan Park mental hospital  

The Mercury 15th February 1940 stated  


Frederick Henry Thompson (32) who on Dec. 17 last was found guilty of murdering Evelyn Mary Maughan (8) will be hanged at Hobart Gaol this morning

The Executive Council yesterday gave lengthy consideration to the case.  All Cabinet members were present.

A statement issued after the meeting said “The Council did not see fit to recommend to His Excellency the Governor to exercise the Royal Prerogative of mercy.  The sentence of death will, therefore, be carried out, in accordance with the requirements of the Criminal Code.  No official statement on the time of the execution was made, but it is believed the hanging will be carried out at 6.30 a.m.

The question of Thompson’s mentality was not raised by the defence.  An appeal against the conviction on the grounds that his previous criminal record was wrongfully admitted failed.

Since his conviction Thompson has been in the condemned cell under close guard.

He had shown no outward signs of strain before the Executive Council’s decision not to interfere with the court’s penalty.

He has passed much of his time reading travel literature, particularly the “National Geographic” magazine.  

The next day it was reported that Thompson had gone calmly to his death which was followed by an inquest held by the Coroner (Mr H.R Dobbie) at the Hobart Police Court .  Det-Inspector Fleming appeared for the Police Department.

Dr. W.J Freeman, medical officer to the gaol said that at 6.9 a.m. he examined the body of Frederick Henry Thompson.  The cause of death was dislocation of the cervical vertebrae inflicting fatal injuries on the spinal cord through the hanging.  In his opinion death was instantaneous.

The Coroner recorded a finding of death by hanging in accordance with the warrant of sentence of death.  

Thompson was later buried at Cornelian Bay






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