[Editor: This article, regarding the hanging of Ned Kelly, was published in The Hay Standard, and Advertiser for Balranald, Wentworth, Maude, Booligal, Wilcannia, Menindie, Bourke, &c (Hay, NSW), 17 November 1880.]
Hanging of Ned Kelly.
According to the account in the Argus of Friday last, and from telegrams received by us, asserting that Kelly was executed, the miserable criminal suffered the penalty of his crimes upon the gallows, on Thursday last. May his career and end act as a deterrent to those who are prone to look upon such acts as elevating or heroic. The sheriff demanded the body of Edward Kelly. The governor asked for his warrant, and having received it, in due form bowed in acquiescence.
The new hangman, an elderly grey-headed, well-conditioned-looking man, named Upjohn, who is at present incarcerated for larceny, made his appearance at this juncture from the cell on the opposite side of the gallows, entered the doomed man’s cell with the governor, and proceeded to pinion Kelly. At first the doomed man objected to this operation, saying, “There is no need for tying me;” but he had to submit, and his arms were pinioned behind by a strap above the elbows. He was then led out with a white cap on his head.
He walked steadily on to the drop; but his face was livid, his jaunty air gone, and there was a frightened look in his eyes as he glanced down on the spectators. It was his intention to make a speech, but his courage evidently failed him, and he merely said, “Ah, well, I suppose it has come to this,” as the rope was being placed round his neck. He appeared as in court, with beard and whiskers, never having been shaved.
The priests in their robes followed him out of the cell repeating prayers, and another official of the church stood in front of him with a crucifix. The noose having been adjusted, the white cap was pulled over his face, and the hangman stepping to the side quickly drew the bolt, and the wretched man had ceased to live.
He had a drop of eight feet, and hung suspended about four feet from the basement floor. His neck was dislocated and death was instantaneous; for although muscular twitching continued for a few minutes, he never made a struggle. It was all over by five minutes past 10 o’clock, and was one of the most expeditious executions over performed in the Melbourne gaol.
Half an hour afterwards the body was lowered into the hospital cart, and taken to the dead-house. On removing the cap the face was found to be placid, and without any discoloration, and only a slight mark was left by the rope under the left ear. The eyes were wide open.
The outside crowd had increased by 10 o’clock to about 4,000 — men, women, and children; but a large proportion of them were larrikin-looking youths, and nearly all were of the lower orders. When the clock struck 10 the concourse raised their eyes simultaneously to the roof of the gaol expecting to see a black flag display; but they looked in vain, for no intimation of the execution having taken place was given. One woman, as the hour struck, fell on her knees in front of the entrance, and prayed for the condemned man. As the visitors left the prison the crowd dispersed also, and no disturbance occurred.
An inquest was subsequently held upon the body, and the jury returned a verdict that deceased had been judicially hanged, and that the provisions of the act for the private execution of criminals had been properly carried out. The remains will be interred in the gaol yard this morning.
The Hay Standard, hangings and Advertiser for Balranald, Wentworth, Maude, Booligal, Wilcannia, Menindie, Bourke, &c (Hay, NSW), 17 November 1880, p. 3
dead-house = a morgue, a mortuary (a building or place where dead bodies are temporarily kept, prior to burial or cremation) (also spelt: dead house, deadhouse; also known as: corpse house, mort house)
expeditious = fast, prompt, quick, speedy (especially in an efficient and competent manner)
gaol = an alternative spelling of “jail” (prison)
livid = deathly pale, very pale, ashen-faced (can also mean: red or dark purple in colour; flushed, reddish; greyish or greyish-blue in colour, such as caused by bruising or strangulation; enraged, furious, very angry)
pinion = to secure or tie a person’s arms (from “pinion”, referring to a bird’s wing); (in the context of a hanging) to secure or tie the arms of the condemned person so that his or her arms would not flail or thrash about, nor attempt to grab the rope, during the hanging procedure
[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]
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