The first hanging was in October, 1841, and the last was in October, 1908.
most of the
people who were hanged were notorious criminals. One was the bushranger,
Captain Moonlight. Another was the murderer,
John Knatchbull, See Story Below
Of the 76 people hanged only one was a woman.
The woman, Louisa Collins, is said to have
poisoned both her husbands with arsenic. See Story Below
of prisoners were taken at Darlinghurst gaol in Sydney in 1872.
on the jail in 1835 and it took 50 years to finish. By 1840 the Governor's
residence, one men's cell block and the women's
cell block were ready.
Darlinghurst gaol takes first prisoners
1841 june 7th early morning
113 men chained together at the ankles , 45 women some
walking some in carts ,all in chains began the trek from the old
gaol, lower George street then along south head road to the new gaol
on darlinghurst hill latter the same day gaol staff packed what was deemed
necessary, including the death masks of those executed and various soft
furnishings and made their way along south head road to the new gaol on
1842 October George
Stroud & Robert hudson
become the first prisoners to be hung at the new prison, their execution
witnessed by 600-700 people
1844 the knatchball execution see estimates of 10,000
plus people to watch the condemned hang
1853 public execution abolished
"g" is the
is still standing on the corner of darlinghurst
road (at top) &
burton street (to the left)
Story of Darlinghurst
In the 1820s, Sydney needed a
Government chose the site for the gaol site because it's on a hill, so it was easy
to see from the city. This was important because Sydney was still a convict town
in 1820. The gaol reminded people of this fact. It was also a good site because
there was plenty of sandstone nearby for building,being sourced from the eastern
side of the hill on the west estate, Barcom Glen.
The walls of the
Woolloomooloo stockade were
built by convicts from 1822-1824. The
marks were made to show how much work each convict did.
as can still be seen on Darlinghurst
gaol was built using
the plans of a jail in Philadelphia. The ideas was that it should be like a
wheel. The chapel was in the centre and the cell blocks were the spokes.
gaol was built for 732
prisoners. The women's cell block was for 156 women. But in the 1850s there were
as many as 450 women there. Over the years, a total of 79 people were executed
at Darlinghurst Gaol.
It was used as a prison
from 1840 till 1912. In 1912 Long Bay Jail was opened and
Darlinghurst gaol was no longer needed. But during the First World War
(1914-1918) it was used as an internment camp.
In 1921 the site was made
into a technical college. Since then the outside of the buildings have been
looked after by the National Trust. The insides of the buildings were completely
changed and made into classrooms.
bus stop nearby forbes
BUS STOP OUT
Darlinghurst Gaol On Wiki
sentenced to hang
to be held outside
of the three-year-old gaol,
At the crack of dawn
scores of people,
were swarming across the racecourse (Hyde
towards Darlinghurst Hill.
The Australian newspaper
judged the throng to be
The paper was
disdainful of the ghoulish mob
yet, at the same time,
Captain John Knatchbull
aged 56 years,
was led out into Forbes Street,
at the gaol gates on the
Wearing genteel black broadcloth,
“ascended the fatal scaffold without
trepidation or fear,
and was launched
into another world
noble and fervent prayer
trembling on his lips”.
the bell of
St Phillip’s tolled thrice
John Knatchbull was dead.
has clung to his name
for over 120 years.
rape at mount rennie
chaplain, the Reverend Father Byrne, informed Duffy, Martin and Boyce of
Reverend Curtis asked to be present at the execution of Robert Read.
In Read’s written
view of the Mount Rennie episode, he emphatically denied being intimate
with the girl.
He had fled
Sydney with Boyce for fear of wrongful arrest.
It would be
easier to die, he wrote, knowing he was innocent.
The procession of
the condemned appeared at 9 a.m.
four boys, all
prison officials and ecclesiastics.
the first in NSW to be held indoors, were attended by 120 “privileged”
On the platform,
the boys’ lips moved in prayer.
The Reverend Tom
Curtis announced in a broken voice:
“On behalf of
Robert Read, I desire to say he declares his innocence.
He will enter the
presence of the Almighty God with a clear conscience.”
down his face, Curtis threw his arms around the 19-year-old boy and kissed
Then he stood
back and buried his face in his hands.
Robert Read took
several minutes to die.
At 9 a.m. 12 witnesses stood in the small yard below
the gallows in Darlinghurst Gaol, five were members of the press. They
were to witness the first woman to be hanged in that 48-year-old gaol and,
as it turned out, the last woman to be hanged in New South Wales.
Louisa Collins appeared from the condemned cell
dressed in a long, brown prison dress, her arms pinioned above the elbows.
A female warder held each arm but not for support.
As she walked across the sunny patch of grass Louisa
“as calmly as if she were performing an everyday
Minor Canon Rich, the gaol chaplin, followed behind.
She walked up the steps to where the public hangman,
Robert ‘Nosey Bob’ Howard was waiting with his new young assistant, Mr
To one side of the trap door was a chair with a
piece of carpet thrown over and on this rested the noose of the rope.
Louisa stood calmly on the trapdoor.
Canon Rich whispered something to her and she
inclined her head to catch his words.
The executioner signaled and Mr Stepping pulled the
The trapdoor pin had jammed.
There was confusion and a warder seized a mallet and
struck the wooden pin three times.
It gave and the trapdoor banged open.
Louisa Collins fell through in a slightly curved
position. After swinging to one side she was suspended perpendicularly
with her face towards the yard.
The body was left
hanging for the regulation 20 minutes.
some of those hung
Charles Montgomery- Thomas Williams- alfred Grinnon- thomas Sheridan-
Frank Butler- jimmy governor- joseph campbell- thomas moore- henry jones-
digby grand & stuart wilson christopher briggs
29 October 1841 - Robert Hudson - Publicly hanged outside Darlinghurst
Gaol for murdering a fellow convict.
He was executed with
29 October 1841 - George Stroud -Publicly hanged
outside Darlinghurst Gaol for murdering his wife.
Hudson and Stroud were the first men executed at
13 February 1844 - John Knatchbull - Former Royal Navy
captain hanged publicly in front of Darlinghurst Gaol
for the murder of shopkeeper Ellen Jamieson with a
tomahawk in January 1844.
21 September 1852 - Francis Thomas Green - Publicly
hanged outside Darlinghurst Gaol
for the murder of John Jones at Buckley's Creek on 10
March 1852 with a pistol. This was the last public hanging in NSW.
21 April 1868 - Henry James O'Farrell - Hanged at
for the attempted assassination of Prince Alfred Duke
of Edinburgh on 12 March 1868 in the Sydney suburb of Clontarf.
18 January 1901 - Jimmy Governor - Hanged at
for the murders of Helen Josephine Kerz, Mrs. Grace
Mawbey, Miss Grace Mawbey, Percival Mawbey, Hilda Mawbey at Breelong, NSW.
20 December 1901 - Joseph Campbell - Hanged at
for the rape of 9-year-old Violet Oldfield at
14 April 1903 - Thomas Moore - Hanged at Darlinghurst
for the rape and murder of 10-year-old Janet Irene
Smith at Leichhardt, NSW.
7 July 1903 - Digby Grand - Hanged at
Darlinghurst Gaol for the murder of Police Constable Samuel Long at
7 July 1903 - Henry Jones - Hanged at
for the murder of Police Constable Samuel Long at
29 October 1907 - Nicholas Baxter - Hanged at
for the murder of Mary MacNamara at
The Amazing Mr. Henry Keck, The
First Governor Of Darlinghurst Gaol
Keck was appointed to be the first governor of Darlinghurst Gaol. He had papers
saying that he had been an officer in the British Army and in charge of Dublin
Castle. This was his first deception. Many more were to follow. The papers were
was an enterprising governor with a weakness for easy money, and his new job
perfectly suited his talents. It didn't take him long to set up business
operations designed to line his pockets.
he organised vegetable gardens, a dairy farm, poultry farm and piggery inside
the gaol grounds, using prison labour. His pigs were fed prisoners' grain and
were the finest in the colony. All his produce was sold in the Sydney markets
with proceeds to Keck - and a small allowance for the workers.
this Keck moved into manufacture of clothing, boots, and, most successfully,
cabbage tree hats. He did not however limit his
activities to inside the gaol - he also sent out overnight fishing parties from
was a man of culture and found some musicians among his prisoners. He was able
to train and assemble small orchestras which were hired out to functions around
his most enterprising exploit was the establishment of
brothel activities within the gaol for prisoners with spare earnings. It
operated from the women's cells and proved so popular that he expanded it to
include prostitutes from local brothels outside the gaol. Finally Keck installed
two prostitutes in the courthouse next door, using lawyers' chambers that were
empty at night, and allowing prisoners access to the court through the
courthouse is outside the south wall (on the right)
well as being able to buy the services of prostitutes, prisoners were able to
buy food, tobacco and rum. They were able to buy candles so that they could
continue carrying out work for him at night in their cells. Some were allowed,
for a fee, to have a few days out of prison in which to carry out their own
affairs. Gambling was conducted on cockroach races and card games.
state of affairs continued for eight years. Released
prisoners who told of the proceedings in gaol were
not believed as Keck was generous and popular in Sydney and inspectors saw only
a smooth running operation.
downfall came in 1849 when a prisoner was recognised on the streets when he
should have been locked up. Next, Keck was seen driving around with a notorious
thug as his coachman.
one of his orchestras became very drunk at a public function and refused to
return to gaol. The story was published and warders came forward with
was sacked in 1849 and left the gaol. He was later appointed Clerk of the George
Street Markets (now the Queen Victoria Building). He died in Surry Hills on
Christmas Day in 1863, and you can find his gravestone in Camperdown Cemetery in