Trailblazer- Bridget Dunne

Trailblazer – Bridget Dunne

In the twentieth century it was common for occupations to be handed down from father to son, particularly when it relates to a position in a government department – this was seen to be a very successful step forward, indeed, a hand up. This week we are looking at an interesting case of a father to daughter occupational connection. Christopher and Bridget Dunne were both employees in the Prisons Department for their entire careers in Australia, both having served a portion of their career in the Brisbane Prison later known as Boggo Road Gaol. 

In the twentieth century it was common for occupations to be handed down from father to son; particularly when it relates to a position in a government department as this was seen to be a very successful step forward; indeed, a hand up.   This week we are looking at the interesting case of a father to daughter occupational connection.  Christopher and Bridget Dunne were both employees in the Prisons Department for their entire careers in Australia.  Both having served a portion of their career in the Brisbane Prisons later known as Boggo Road Gaol.

THE TWO GAOLS AT BOGGO ROAD

Indeed, it was very common for nepotism to take place in Government Departments, usually because those in the employ of the government could often afford to educate their children (particularly sons) in some of the finer schools in Queensland. Those students would then make the finer cadets and employees of the department. Young ladies also had the option of better schooling, but it was very uncommon. Women in society of the time were not generally among the working classes, particularly if she was interested in marriage and children (which was just the done thing).

Some young ladies, however, were not. I suppose dear Bridget would fall into that category. Most of the ladies in the Prisons department were the wives of prison officers. This is in fact the first father – daughter connection I have come across. Bridget was indeed a trailblazer.

 

Christopher Dunne

Clipper ship Golden CityChristopher Dunne was born in Kells, County Meath, Ireland in 1830. He was married first to Bridget Timmins in 1862. They had two older children and Bridget was expecting their third child on the voyage to Queensland on the Golden City. Their third baby was born somewhere between London and Brisbane and was listed at the customs inspection of the ship. Baby Bridget Dunne was the fifth member of the family.

Sadly, it seems that Bridget Dunne (nee Timmins) did not do well from the pregnancy and long voyage and died just a few weeks later. She was buried at the Paddington Cemeteries (where Suncorp Stadium now stands) and there is no formal registration of her death.

Paddington Cemetery Brisbane

Christopher Dunne joined the prison service not long after the family arrived from London. His first appointment was at the Brisbane Gaol then located at Petrie Terrace; then at the police lockup at Ipswich.

It was in Ipswich that he would meet his future bride Maria Doorley. Maria too was a young Irish lass; she had emigrated with her father on the Saldanah in 1863 at just fourteen years old. They were married at St Andrew’s Catholic Church in Ipswich in 1872.

Indeed, the Catholic faith would be a strong influence in Christopher’s life. All his children were baptised into the church, both of his marriages were solemnised in the church, and even his last moments would be in faith.

Christopher and Maria went on to have four more children. The family resided at Ipswich at their home “Argan” on Margaret Street for the remainder of their days. Christopher would go on to work at the new HM Brisbane Prison in 1883 (Number One Division Boggo Road Gaol) for two years before returning home to Toowoomba and joining the staff at the Toowoomba Gaol.

Christopher remained at the Toowoomba prison as Senior Warder until his retirement in 1899. He died some twelve years later in 1911 and was buried at the Toowoomba Cemetery.  His obituary in the Darling Downs Gazette summarised his extensive career but also his character:

He was the last surviving member of “The Dunne’s of Carstown”; Deceased was of a very retiring disposition but by his unostentatious manner he endeared himself to numerous friends. Numerous wreaths, telegrams and letters were sent from all over the state (fifty-three wreaths and thirty-one telegrams and letters).

St Patrick’s Church, Toowoomba

His remains moved from St Patricks Roman Catholic Church to the Toowoomba Cemetery where he was laid to rest.

 

Bridget Dunne

Bridget began her career in the prison service working under her father at the Toowoomba Prison as wardress in the industrial school for girls in 1898. This was initially under a trial basis for six months; I suppose something like a traineeship. It obviously meshed well, as Bridget was officially made a wardress in the official announcements for the Prisons Department in 1899. Interestingly, just before her father retired!

Bridget went on in leaps and bounds from there, working under the mentorship of Sarah Ann Nixon, Wardress in the Women’s Prison at Toowoomba. Quickly rising through the ranks, she was soon temporary senior warder when Sarah Ann Nixon was made Matron in 1901.

During this time a great deal of change was happening in the prisons of South East Queensland.  Indeed, a great shift was soon to be made, in the next twelve months three prisons would close and the Her Majesty’s Prison Brisbane (Female Division) would open.

The female division is the only remaining section of the Brisbane Prisons (later known as Boggo Road Gaol). This division would later be taken over as a men’s division and the women would be moved several times on the gaol reserve.

One of the prisons that eventually closed was the female prison at Toowoomba. Bridget Dunne became Warder and Sarah Ann Nixon became Senior Warder under Matron Sarah Browne.

Over the next five years, Bridget learned to manage the women under her charge. Towards the end of 1908, Matron Sarah Browne fell ill and subsequently retired. Sarah Ann Nixon was promoted to Matron and Bridget was promoted to Senior Warder, quite a step up from her position as wardress.  As the years would pass she would rise in rank again, this time in March 1923 when Sarah Ann Nixon fell ill, she was made Temporary Matron. By September, Sarah Ann Nixon had retired, and Bridget was made Matron of the Female Division, Boggo Road Gaol.

Sadly, Bridget would only remain in the position for two and a half years. Having been ill for the previous twelve months, she was forced to take leave in July 1926 after almost thirty years of service.   Bridget would never return to her position. She died on the 13th of October 1926 at just fifty-eight years old. 

Bridget Dunne had never married, nor had she had any children. Her remains were sent by train to Toowoomba. She was buried with her father at the Toowoomba Cemetery.

Her obituary in the Queensland Times newspaper best describes her career and her character:

She always displayed a sympathetic and humane spirit to those who came under her charge. Often at personal inconvenience. Little acts of kindness were performed by her, particularly when they were once more entering on the battle of life.


These remarkable officers are just two of many that entered the big iron gates each day. This Sunday, you too can get locked up by one of our former officers! Come inside and find out some of the fascinating aspects of life behind bars. If you are on good behaviour you might even get early parole! You can book your tickets here

This article was contributed by Research Coordinator Sue Olsen as part of the ongoing research program for Boggo Road Gaol Pty Ltd. The aim of the program is to bring to light and share articles relating to Boggo Road for the purposes of review and study. Do you have a story to share or something you would like us to know about? You can contact the research team here

Mischievous, Malevolent or Mad? Cyril James MacIntosh

Mischievous, Malevolent or Mad? Cyril James MacIntosh.

Cyril James MacIntosh was perhaps one of the most frequent prisoners in gaols all over the eastern side of Australia. His remarkably habitual career as a celebrated bogus doctor graced Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. Known by at least seventeen aliases and with at least forty charges to his name, the question remains: was he simply mischievous, malevolent or completely mad?

 

Cyril James MacIntosh

Known Alias: Cyril McIntosh, James Thomas Fletcher, Dr. Fletcher, James Fennett, Thomas Fennett, Dr. Fennett, Dr. Ferguson, Dr. Fletcher Fitzgerald, James Leo, James Leo Anderson, David Hardie, David Hardy, John Thomas Fraser, George Arthur Sampson, Morgan Lane, Dr. Morgan Lane, Dr. Gillespie, John Thomas Fletcher and of course Cyril James MacIntosh!

Native Place:  Queensland

Year of Birth: 1887

Height:  5 ft 7 inches (170cm)

Weight: 11 stone 2oz (71kg)

Eyes: Blue

Hair: Brown

Make: Slight

Complexion: Fresh

Marks: Scar centre of forehead; scar right eyebrow; large mole under right ear; operation scar right side of stomach;

 

It was very difficult to figure out what exactly to call Cyril James Macintosh. With seventeen known aliases and no doubt many more that lie undiscovered, we thought best to call him what he was most commonly known as. Even that statement is borderline; his convictions were so numerous, and over such a vast area it is practically impossible to find them all. We will do our best to pick some of the more fascinating stories amongst his lifetime of crime and outline them here.

Cyril James Macintosh was born James Thomas Fletcher in Brisbane, Queensland in 1887.  It was here that he would have his first run ins with the law.

James Thomas Fletcher

On February the 19th 1908, James Thomas Fletcher entered Mrs Macdonald’s boot shop adjoining the Royal Bank. He approached the counter and asked if Mrs Macdonald could oblige him with a blank cheque. She refused and sent him to the bank. A short time later Fletcher returned and said that the banker had told him he could obtain a cheque from anyone he knew. Again, Mrs Macdonald refused.  He returned a while later in an exasperated state stating to Mrs Macdonald that he must have the cheque before 5pm at the latest and the bank was closed. Mrs Macdonald relented and presented a blank cheque.

Earlier, Fletcher and two of his friends had checked into the Transcontinental Hotel; of course, they had no money to pay for the lodgings, which necessitated the need for the heist on Mrs Macdonald.  Fletcher returned to the hotel in the afternoon and presented the cheque, but by then, it was no longer blank. The cheque was made out for £10 sterling and made out to cash for John Thomas Fletcher. The cheque was cashed by Arthur Earl. Quite casually, Fletcher told him to deduct a weeks board and also the bill for his young friends who were leaving soon. Earl made the deductions and handed over £7 and 11 shillings in cash. Earl later saw Fletcher in the hall with his young friends and their luggage; Fletcher stated that he was just seeing them off. Of course, he didn’t just see them off, he went with them as far as Dalby.

Fletcher was later arrested in Dalby posing as the travelling millionaire. Appearing before the bench, Fletcher admitted that he had forged and uttered a cheque, and falsely misrepresented himself. He was sentenced to two years hard labour. The sentence, however, was suspended, and he entered a bond to be under good behaviour for £100.

Fletcher however, did not remain on good behaviour. He was sentenced in November 1908 for consenting to an act against the order of nature or an unnatural offence. This was the legal term for having engaged in a male homosexual act. Fletcher was sentenced to six years imprisonment; his counterpart, four years, both received sentences with hard labour. Whether or not Fletcher was a gay man is not known. This was his only sentence on such an offence of the time. Indeed, Fletcher did seem to have a very quiet social life. Very little evidence is available, however, to confirm his sexual preference.

Fletcher couldn’t behave himself in prison, therefore, he was sentenced to an additional four months for breach of the prison rules! He was released in September 1913.

Fletcher would continue with his mischievous ways, repeatedly in and out of prison in Brisbane for a range of offences relating to fraud, uttering and false pretences.


Thomas and James Fennett 1915

We next hear from him in Sydney, New South Wales, where again he misrepresented himself and fraudulently obtained the use of a motor car. This time, he is registered in Long Bay Gaol as Thomas Fennett. Everything about his description matches with James Thomas Fletcher apart from the fact that he had also added more marks – a tattoo on his right forearm  – J.F. above S.H. After being found guilty, he was sentenced to six months prison with hard labour.

No sooner had he been released, he appeared a second time at the gates of Long Bay Gaol. This time, for an additional eight months for false pretences. Subsequently, he was sentenced for a further 6 months under the name of James Leo Anderson.

 

The “Doctor” at war?

Returning to his birth name -James Thomas Fletcher, He enlisted into the Australian Army in Sydney on the 16th May 1916. 

Even in this honourable role, Fletcher misrepresented himself as a medical student or a dentist. Thankfully the army seemed to have seen sense and not made him a medic. In the infantry, Fletcher was wounded in action in France. However, his life of crime was not over, even in the military he could not obey the rules. Fletcher was court martialed three times for various offences all relating to dereliction of duty or not obeying orders. Seems typical doesn’t it? Eventually, the Army had had enough of Fletcher and discharged him home. His file held at the National Archives has a remarkable 140 pages.

Home for only six weeks, he was again in trouble and was lodged in the Long Bay Gaol. This time, using the alias James Leo Anderson. He would go on to serve the next five years with hard labour, bouncing in and out of Long Bay under James Leo Anderson, Cyril McIntosh and David Hardy (or) Hardie.  

An extensive career

This list of names, sentences and time served for Cyril McIntosh simply goes on and on and on. Into the late 1920s he was in trouble in Victoria, again, for posing as a licensed medical practitioner, for fraud and false pretences, and obtaining the use of a motor vehicle and lodgings by fraud.

In the early 1930’s, MacIntosh reappears in Queensland. This time, passing himself off as Dr. Cyril McIntosh, he again passed himself off as the good “doctor” looking for rooms to practice from. Again, he obtained these under false pretences and was sentenced twice for six months with hard labour for each time. In the late 30s and into the 40s, he appears in numerous courts in Adelaide and Tasmania, this time as Dr. Morgan Lane.

This man’s remarkable career of crime goes right up until his death as Cyril James McIntosh in McMahon’s Point, New South Wales in 1960. Something must be said for Cyril James McIntosh and his many aliases; while he was not a registered medical practitioner, 

there is no doubt he believed himself qualified. There are many stories of the good “doctor” having helped people in situations of peril or sickness and even tragedy. So, while his crimes were illegal, he never did harm to another person. In fact, some would go as far to call him a hero in the truest sense of the word.

Perhaps the Truth in describing the career of McIntosh said it best…

“Truth” in various states has exposed McIntosh time and time again. But exposure means nought to the man. He doesn’t resist the inevitable arresting hand of the police force. He “goes quietly” and quite genially.  

He has been in gaol so many times that gaol has no terrors for him. “Inside” he is a good and obedient prisoner and makes every use he can of the penitentiary library. But his career of imposition has been so long maintained that he can now be regarded as utterly incorrigible and thus the question arises whether Mcintosh is mad.

He certainly is not normal.

 

Doctor” MacIntosh, Fletcher, Anderson, Hardy, Lane etc. is certainly one of the more interesting characters I have had the privilege of researching.  A fascinating man. The question of his sanity is one that comes up time and time again in the court records. His career is so long it is simply impossible to do it justice in these pages. So, if you have the time, search the newspapers on Trove and read for yourself the fascinating antics of this bogus character.


 

This Sunday at Boggo Road Gaol is our monthly Prisoner Tour.  Come along, get locked up, and hear from one of our former prisoners Wayne Weaver what life behind bars was really like! Tickets are selling fast, you do not want to miss this! You can book your tickets here

This article was contributed by Research Coordinator Sue Olsen as part of the ongoing research program for Boggo Road Gaol Pty Ltd. The aim of the program is to bring to light and share articles relating to Boggo Road for the purposes of review and study. Do you have a story to share or something you would like us to know about? You can contact the research team here

 

 

 

Escape! The Cracow Robber – John Howard

Escape! The Cracow Robber – John Howard

John Howard – The Cracow Mail Car Robber was charged in May of 1936 of having held up the Cracow Mail Car.  The charge was highway robbery just like many bushrangers before him, it was a serious crime.  Howard was fortunate to only receive seven years with hard labour in Boggo Road Gaol.


Native Place:  Queensland

Age: 38

Height: 6 feet (183cm)

Weight: 12 Stone 6 oz (79kg)

Hair:  Sandy Brown

Eyes: Blue

Complexion: Ruddy

Marks:  Scar right cheek


John Howard – The Cracow Mail Car Robber was charged in May of 1936 of having held up the Cracow Mail Car.  The charge was highway robbery just like many bushrangers before him, it was a serious crime.  Howard was fortunate to only receive seven years with hard labour in Boggo Road Gaol.

Armed guard on the tower

 

Attempted Escape

Monday 7th August 1937, Officer Wyndibank was escorting John Howard from his cell shortly after 5am to the gaol kitchen for his breakfast shift.  While Wyndibank was bolting a side door to the kitchen Howard ran from the room by another door and just then a section of the wall lights fused.

The lights in the kitchen and nearest wall towers were not affected however Wyndibank immediately gave the alarm and began to search.

Warder McCarthy ran to the track that runs between the stockade fence and the prison wall, Howard, spotting him ran back towards the kitchen where he was challenged by Officer Wyndibank and taken into custody.

Once Howard was secured, the officers searched the area around the stockade fence and found a rope fashioned from unbleached hanging from the stockade fence and nearby was a pair of slippers.

The rope, about 25 feet long was made from material smuggled from the prison tailors shop and plaited into a thick rope. It was attached to the wall by a hook formed from a kitchen fire poker.

A second prisoner Patrick Naylor who was working in the blacksmiths shop was charged with having assisted in the attempted escape. Evidence at a subsequent inquiry would allege that Naylor had obtained a 3-foot length of galvanised iron water pipe and cut it into a section fifteen inches. It was wound around the kitchen poker to strengthen it.

Both Howard and Naylor were taken into custody and imprisoned in Number 1 division in solitary confinement.   Six other members of the kitchen staff were discharged from their position and replacements sought.  A conspiracy having been suspected.

Both Howard and Naylor were convicted on the escape attempt and sentenced to the maximum additional term of 6 months with hard labour.

Robbery Under Arms

Saturday March 28th, 1936;

The Cracow mail car left Eidsvold shortly after 3pm for the return trip to Cracow with the pay of the workers of the Golden Plateau No Limit gold mine.  The regular driver Alexander Miller being unavailable to drive that afternoon the job was left to 23-year-old Charles Walter Williams. Williams had along with him Mrs Violet Mc Dowell the wife of a tool sharpener engaged at the mine, fifty-two miles into the sixty-six-mile journey, around 5:45pm Mrs McDowell left the car to open the wire gate crossing the road when Howard leapt from his hiding spot and held a rifle to her chin.  Howard next pointed the rifle at Williams telling him to “get out of that seat” he did.  Howard told them both to get back, as he climbed into the driver’s seat and disappeared into the dust on the road to Cracow.

In the back of the car was the £1400 cash for the wages of the employees at the Golden Plateau, twelve registered packages belonging to the mine and eight sacks of mail.  The cash £1350 in notes and £50 in silver and copper.

Williams and McDowell raised the alarm after walking over ten miles before being picked up on the road to Cracow.  Local police at once set out in pursuit of Howard.  Described as 30 to 40 years old, six feet high and weighing around 12 to 13 stone.  He was dirty, wearing a Garbadine coat, dirty sand shoes and a dirty handkerchief tied on the lower half of his face.  He had sandy coloured hair and blue eyes.

Map of the route from Eidsvold to Cracow

 

Capture

Foolishly, Howard returned to Cracow a few days later and tried to purchased goods with some of the stolen cash.  Howard had been there some months before to purchase goods some of these items he were found by the police at his hide out back on the side of the road. Subsequently identified by the shopkeepers in Cracow, Howard was arrested and charged with Robbery under arms.

He was transported to Eidsvold, where he made an appearance in the Eidsvold police court. He was then remanded to appear in the Gayndah police court the same afternoon.   Where he admitted that he was the man they were after and deeply apologised to Mrs McDowell for having caused her significant distress.  He further assisted the police in locating the remainder of the missing money and the 22-caliber automatic rifle used in the hold up.

The Hudson motor car used to carry the mail from Eidsvold to Cracow had earlier been found by police.   Mrs. McDowell and Williams had identified it as the vehicle they were riding in and positively identified Howard as the one who had held them up on their journey.

It was the assistance the gave police and the subsequent apology that Howard would rely on as his grounds for appeal.

1934 Hudson Car similar to that owned by Mr Alexander Miller


 

Trial

Remanded to appear before the Rockhampton Circuit Court on the 12th of May 1936, Howard was subsequently found guilty of all charges.

  1. Engaged the successful hold up of the Cracow mail car.
  2. Robbery under arms of money intended to pay the workers of Golden Plateau Mine.
  3. Having stolen with actual violence a motor car.

Further evidence given at the trial would show that Howard was a returned solder with a good record. He was in the service for three years and had been shot in the right cheek during the war and gassed.

Judge Brennan in summing up said

“The crime for which you have been charged is a most serious one.  I have sentenced you to seven years with hard labour. I could have sentenced you for life.  If you feel the punishment is too harsh you can appeal to the full court.”

Rockhampton Courthouse

The Appeal

John Howard would attempt to appeal the decision.  As we said earlier on the grounds that he had been most helpful in assisting the police to locate the remainder of the stolen money, had lead them to the location of the missing rifle and had apologised for his actions.

Justice Henchman having none of this said “you only apologised because you were caught. You said yourself had you have been free you would not have apologised”

A modern-day bushranger.

Justice Henchman continued further “We thought that Ned Kelly and his gang had gone in Australia. Ned Kelly was kind to women too.  In this case you made careful preparation to hold up that coach. It was done in keeping with the greatest traditions of such robberies under arms, and you took the opportunity when you knew the wages were going to Cracow.   Your request for appeal is denied.”

So, it was, Howard was sent of to St Helena Island prison for seven years with hard labour.  Only that St Helena closed, John Howard would not have ever been in Boggo Road Gaol.  Howard was one of the prisoners moved across to number two division Boggo Road Gaol when the women’s prison was moved elsewhere on the block.

This escape attempt had a profound effect on the prison. The rules for the management of prisoners and how they would be punished will forever be changed as a result.  Prisoners lost privileges,  Officers were severely reprimanded; and the prison searched from top to toe.


This Sunday, you can see for yourself the section of wall that John Howard climbed over in our Escapes Tour.  Located directly behind D Wing. The Escapes tour is hosted by Director Jack Sim this is a rare treat! Don’t delay book your tickets today!

This article was contributed by Research Coordinator Sue Olsen as part of the ongoing research program for Boggo Road Gaol Pty Ltd. The aim of the program is to bring to light and share articles relating to Boggo Road for the purposes of review and study. Do you have a story to share or something you would like us to know about? You can contact the research team here

Juett sisters – The tragic life of Lily Juett

Juett sisters – The tragic life of Lily Juett

Young women of poor origins quite frequently found themselves falling afoul of the law.  Her Majesty’s Prison for Women Brisbane at Boggo Road was where most of these women ended up. 

The Juett sisters were no exception.   Minnie and Lily Juett were natives of Bundaberg, North Queensland.  Their parents had nine children and were of simple farming stock.  The children were sent out to work as soon as it was suitable.  Minnie and Lily were sent to work as servants in some of the finer homes and their brothers as labourers on farms around the Rockhampton and Bundaberg region.

Minnie and Lily were not long in their new profession, both having been discharged for theft and improper conduct.  Both could not return home and turned to the streets to make their living.  After some time had passed, the sisters had saved enough money that they made their way by ship to Brisbane; hoping to change their futures for the better.

Today, we are going to turn our attention to the youngest of the two sisters, Lily Juett.

Lily Juett

Native Place:  Bundaberg, Queensland.

Age:  20 years 11 Months

Height:  4 feet 8 ½ inches (143cm)

Weight:  6 stone 10 lbs (42.6kg)

Make:  Slight

Complexion:  Pale

Hair:  Fair

Eyes:  Blue

Marks:  Three vaccination marks on left arm and scar on left temple.

 

Before the court

Lily was only just sixteen years old when she first ran afoul of the law. Being charged with the common offence of Vagrancy.  The police magistrate took pity on her, her situation could only be described as terrible, and he sent Lily to the Salvation Army Home for wayward ladies. It mustn’t have had much effect; for just six months later Lily was again before the court, charged with having no lawful means of support.  Again, she was sent to the Salvation Army Home.

Salvation Army Home, Yeronga 1897

This was the beginning of a downward spiral for Lily.  She was found in one of the more notorious brothels in town, George Antoni’s Oyster Saloon on Albert Street.  She with other young girls were attracted to Antoni’s by the offer of free food and lodging.  Little did these young girls know, they had to work for their keep in the most degrading way.

Antoni’s was regularly in the press and often raided by the police and the health department as a house of ill fame. Lily would continue to reside at Antoni’s often over the next two years.

In 1906, Lily was charged with quitting the lock hospital and breach of the communicable diseases act.   Two laws that prostitutes were regularly charged with having broken.  Lily spent most of 1906 in gaol after numerous small offences.

We next hear from Lily in June of 1908 when she is charged with having created a public disturbance in Albert street and for damaging a policeman’s trousers while engaged in a scuffle.  She was given a fine or 7 days in gaol.  Lily chose gaol.

Again, in September of 1908 Lily was in court.  This time having been charged for being armed in public with no lawful reason.  She had allegedly fired several shots into the air in Albert Street.  Luckily for Lily, not enough evidence was available to proceed, and the case was dismissed. It wouldn’t be long however until Lily’s luck would run out.

 

 


Mary Street Tragedy

10:30pm , Monday 31st May 1909,  O’Brien’s cottage, 82 Mary street, Brisbane.

From the headlines of The Truth.

Shortly after 10:30pm in a dingy cottage adjoining the Oriental Hotel on the corner of Mary and Albert Streets, Brisbane.   Shots rang out.   


A witness screamed… “Someone is shooting Lily” The ladies of the cottage ran to her aid.  Only to find the door barricaded from the inside.   Thelma Woods, a single woman, who lived in the room next to Lily poked her head through an open window seeing Lily on the floor and turning to see a man blocking the door before he turned the gun on himself and fired.  She screamed and ran to meet Constable Roche who having heard the shots was making his way toward her.  

Earlier that evening, Lily and the unknown man had been sharing drinks at the Oriental Hotel.  They seemed very friendly and at closing time were very drunk.   It would later be known that Lily had previously been in a relationship with the seafaring, powerfully built man.  She had received word that he was arriving at Pinkenba. He was an engineer on a ship called Strathspey.  

That evening after their day together, Lily announced that she had been keeping company with another man and that his case was hopeless.  She intended to marry her lover.    This is said to have thrown the man into a rage and quite possibly have caused the crime.

Just before entering her room that night, she had told another of the ladies of the cottage that should anything happen to her that night, to tell her lover that she loved him to the last.

It was not long until a crowd had formed surrounding the cottage and news had reached another lady of the evening, Minnie Juett.   Minnie came rushing forward, eventually being allowed into the room by the police.  When she saw her little sister lying on the floor covered in blood, Minnie cried out and was carried from the room by the kindly officers.  She communicated with her mother who at once made for the scene from Bundaberg.

 

The subsequent magisterial inquiry and post mortem would show that poor Lily had been shot twice in the head and once in the chest at extremely close range. Her death was instant.

It would also prove that the man identified as Karl or Carl Eberhardt (alias August Hesse) was in possession of a five chambered revolver and a pocket watch when spoken to by police in Newcastle New South Wales some months previously.    These items were found in the room along with other personal effects with the name Carl Eberhardt.  It was conclusive, it was he that fired the fatal shots and murdered Lily before turning the gun on himself.


The Truth newspaper published the most complete coverage of this story. The editor summed up this tragic tale of woe with the inventory of Lily’s worldly possessions.

“For any young ladies having any doubts on the Fairy Tales of the earnings of vice, the inventory of her possessions will round out this tale of vice, debauchery, degradation and death.  In hard cash, £1 and 13 shillings, of which 3 shillings and 6 pence were from her last transaction on earth.  Lily Juett was young just on the verge of 21.  Her only other possessions included: one umbrella, three blouses, one petticoat, one chemise, one singlet, one pair of stockings, one pair of slippers, one chain purse (empty), one steel belt, one string of beads and a pawn ticket for a ring in the name of Miss Wilson.

That inventory is a better homily on the folly and degradation of vice than all the sermons that were ever preached and comment of any sort would lesson not increase its effect.”


Lily was laid to rest at Toowong Cemetery on the afternoon of Tuesday the 1st of June. Sadly, their mother never made the service, arriving that night. Lily was loved by all those who knew her; So much so her friends all contributed to pay for her burial.  A year later, an expensive monument was placed on her grave, with one special note at the bottom. “Erected by her sister Minnie”.

 

For many ladies that have at one time seen the inside of the walls at Boggo Road Gaol, this life would be all too familiar.   Not all ended so tragically.  Some would say though that living numerous years longer in the same daily cycle of degradation and despair would be much worse.

 

Of all the charges passed on the women in the earliest days of the female division, the vast majority had a charge for Prostitution.  Often listed in the registers as vagrancy, without visible means of support, offensive language and public disturbance.   It was very common, and a sad commentary on society of the time.

 

 


Want something cool to do this Sunday? Learn more about the women at Boggo Road Gaol by taking an 11am History Tour and watching our Prison Players perform!  You can book your tickets here

This article was contributed by Research Coordinator Sue Olsen as part of the ongoing research program for Boggo Road Gaol Pty Ltd. The aim of the program is to bring to light and share articles relating to Boggo Road for the purposes of review and study. Do you have a story to share or something you would like us to know about? You can contact the research team here

From the headlines Officer retires after 41 years

From the headlines… Officer retires after 41 years

Chief Warder Henry ‘Harry’ Victor Vanderwolf

‘Harry’ retired on the 25th of May 1953, just one day after his sixty-fifth birthday. He and his wife retired to 4th Avenue in Caloundra where they can be found into the 1970s. Indeed, it would have been a wonderful sea change for a man who worked inside brick walls and iron bars for most of his days.

Henry Victor Vanderwolf, known as Harry, was born in Maryborough to John Rowe Vanderwolf and Jane Ann Payne. His parents had emigrated with his older siblings from Cornwall in England on the Duke of Athol in 1881. The family set up home in Maryborough and proceeded to live there for over fifty years.  

Duke of Athole

 

Harry was one of a large family of ten children, eight of whom were sons. He had a large family already here in Queensland with his fifty plus cousins. Frustratingly for the researcher… they all had a Harry.

Harry joined the prison service shortly after his 22nd birthday, officially recognised as a probationary warder in the Queensland Government Gazette of 1912. It is unconfirmed where he spent his first few months in the service, although it is likely it would have been in the Brisbane lockup. By the time Harry completed his probation, he was transferred to the notorious St Helena Island. Known for its harsh conditions both on officers and prisoners alike, St Helena would have been no easy mark.  Certainly, St Helena would prove useful to Harry as his career was to progress.

In addition to relatives in Queensland, the Vanderwolf clan had made their way south of the border into the suburbs of Sydney, New South Wales. It was here, on summer vacation in 1917 he would find his sweetheart in Christina Ellen Mitchell; they were married a few months later in Marrickville, New South Wales.

At the end of the war, Harry had set the family up and had returned to his post at St Helena Island. It would not be long before a daughter would grace their little home. So onwards time went, Harry had seen his friends and family go off to war and come home greatly changed. It wasn’t long until his life would be profoundly changed too, in a good way!  

In the newspapers of the day, numerous entries can be found talking about the prison at St Helena Island. There had been murders, terrible assaults, formal complaints and disciplinary action; it truly was a hell hole for everyone. Succumbing to overwhelming pressure, it was clear something had to be done. St Helena would be closed as a maximum security prison, and the prisoners moved to the female division at HM Prison Brisbane (later known as Boggo Road Gaol). The female inmates were transferred to another section of the Gaol to make way for the men. For Harry, this was a most unexpected windfall.

HM Prison Brisbane 

Harry was moved to his new station at HM Prison Brisbane with one of the first loads of men to be transferred. It would prove to be a great move. Just ten years later, Harry climbed the ranks to be Chief Warder of Boggo Road Gaol, a position he would go on to hold for the next twenty years.

Just after Christmas in 1932, Harry was promoted to Chief Warder at Boggo Road. The family celebrated and moved into their new home, the quarters of the prison. This indeed was a step up socially and personally. Sadly though, things were to take a sad turn. His beloved wife passed away aged just 47 years. Christina Ellen Vanderwolf was laid to rest at the Lutwyche Cemetery.

Again, the years moved on, each day entering those gates at the prison and looking after some of society’s worst characters.

A few years later at a church social, he was to meet the future Mrs Vanderwolf. Eliza Linda Letty Uhllman, a spinster and a bit younger than Harry, caught his eye and the rest would be history. They were married in 1939, just at the beginning of yet another world war.

Indeed, his own daughter joined the service, it is not known what exactly she did as her records are not open for viewing.

Harry, however, had an eventful next year, becoming instrumental in the apprehension and conviction of Ernest Arthur Halliday or ‘Slim’ as he was known around the Gaol. In February of 1940, Slim would make the first of his two escapes. Harry was the officer that found a rope hanging from the prison wall. Halliday had escaped over it all right. The rest of this story you will hear on your tour, so I will leave it there for now. Harry would raise the alarm and would be involved in this story for years to come.

In 1948, with just a few years to go before compulsory retirement, Harry was again promoted to Chief Warder second class, which would certainly have been a pay increase and perhaps other long-term benefits as well. It is here we lose Harry for a few years before he reappears in the papers.

Casket Win

Remarkably, just shy of his retirement, Harry collected a handsome Casket win. Fifth prize of £300 to be exact. It would certainly be nice to add to the retirement fund. Harry remarked that it had been the most timely gift of his life. He had just finished building his retirement home at Caloundra where he intends on spending his time fishing.

Retirement

Harry retired on the 25th of May 1953, just one day after his sixty-fifth birthday. He and his wife retired to 4th Avenue in Caloundra where they can be found into the 1970s. Indeed, it would have been a wonderful sea change for a man who worked inside brick walls and iron bars for most of his days. In all, Harry served 41 and a half years in the prison service, which by today’s standard, is an eternity. Harry lived at Caloundra until he died in 1976. He is buried with his wife at the Caloundra Cemetery.

 

 


Want to know what it was like to be an officer at Boggo Road Gaol? Come along this Sunday for our Officer tour and meet Former Officer Kevin Hayden! For more information click here

This article was contributed by Research Coordinator Sue Olsen as part of the ongoing research program for Boggo Road Gaol Pty Ltd. The aim of the program is to bring to light and share articles relating to Boggo Road for the purposes of review and study. Do you have a story to share or something you would like us to know about? You can contact the research team here.

Officer’s requests

Officer’s requests

Some would say that Prison Officers have one of the toughest jobs in the world. Everyday they enter the world behind bars and work with some of the worst of the worst.  Ever wonder what it takes to do the job?  Well in this week’s article we talk about the prison service and the role that officers had in shaping the correctional institutions in Queensland as we know them today.

Officer’s requests

Some would say that Prison Officers have one of the toughest jobs in the world. Every day they enter the world behind bars and work with some of the worst of the worst.  Ever wonder what it takes to do the job?  Well in this week’s article we talk about the prison service and the role that officers had in shaping the correctional institutions in Queensland as we know them today.

Officers

Prison Service in Queensland

The prison service in Queensland is one of the foundation departments formed when Queensland was separated from New South Wales in 1859.  Officially forming in 1860 the service was represented by various small gaols, penal establishments and lock ups in the colony. These were all under the management of the Sheriff of Queensland.  Sounds a bit like the wild west doesn’t it?  In 1887 a commission into the management of the various gaols, penal establishments and lockups in Queensland brought about a sweeping change. The report recommended the consolidation and amendment of legislation to make room for the creation of the Prison Service and the appointment of the Controller General to manage all prisons in the colony.

These changes would not happen quickly, it takes quite some time to make significant changes to legislation.  The Prisons Act of 1890 would be the eventual result.  The act will be the first of many changes over the coming decades.

The changes in the management of prisons in Queensland would mean the hiring and retraining of staff.  These continual changes in expectations over the life of HM Prison Brisbane later known as Brisbane Correctional Centre or Boggo Road Gaol were posted on the wall for officers to see and apply as they happened. A copy of the vast majority of these are kept in a fascinating series of records held at the Queensland State Archives.  These records were held in each of the prisons in Queensland.

Prison Rules and Orders Book: 1869-1961 – Brisbane Correctional Centre.

Description:

Books of letters, circulars and memoranda from the Sherriff of Queensland and later the Controller General of Prisons to the Superintendent of the Brisbane Gaol later known as HM Prison Brisbane or the Brisbane Correctional Centre.

So, what happened if you didn’t follow the rules?  Well, you would be officially charged, and the details recorded in an equally fascinating series the Register of officials and warders and defaulters book 1865-1947.   The punishment being anything from being docked a day’s pay, to dismissal and even a prison sentence!

Prison and Asylum Workers Union

Just like any other union, it is set out for the purposes of protecting the rights of workers. Founded in 1915, it was the beginning of the union movement in the prisons and asylums in Queensland.  In August of 1915 the inaugural conference was held in Trades Hall, Brisbane.  The first conference set out the rules and regulations of the union and elected a committee.  In attendance were representatives from all the gaols, penal institutions, lockups and asylums in Queensland. It certainly must have been an impressive turn out.

As an outcome of the conference, the subsequent report set some of the foundations of the modern system of employment in the correctional services industry. Indeed, you will probably recognise some items that are still in practice today and some that are still under negotiation in most industries a century later.

  • A 40-hour week
  • Salary increases
  • Night shift allowance
  • Overtime
  • Vacancies posted in the Government Gazette
  • Equal pay for male and female employees
  • No extra duties for night staff
  • Charges made in writing – what we later know as a written warning.

The conference committee then approach the Sherriff or later the Controller General for approval of the items discussed.  The conferences held under the Prison and Asylum Workers Union continued until 1918, when the two were separated. These unions are now covered under the Australian Workers Union.

Sublime to the ridiculous?

An article published in the Courier Mail Newspaper in August of 1939 dealt with the need for prison officers to have slippers… so as to not wake the prisoners at night!  Of course, at the minister’s discretion! Whether or not this ever came in, is not yet known. But we will keep you posted!

 


Want to know what it was like to be an officer at Boggo Road Gaol?  Come along this Sunday for our officer tour and meet former officer Kevin Hayden!  For more information click here

This article was contributed by Research Coordinator Sue Olsen as part of the ongoing research program for Boggo Road Gaol Pty Ltd. The aim of the program is to bring to light and share articles relating to Boggo Road for the purposes of review and study. Do you have a story to share or something you would like us to know about? You can contact the research team here.

 

Escape! – Percy Lee

Escape! Percy Lee

Percy was a ‘dip artist’ (pickpocket) and a good one. Percy served numerous short sentences in gaols’ all over New South Wales; all for theft in one way or another. Escaping the heat from his crime, Percy ventured over the border into Queensland.


Escape! Percy Lee

Description:

Age: 28

Height: 5ft 10 inches

Weight: 12stone 8lb

Hair: Dark Brown

Eyes: Brown

Complexion: Sallow

Build: Proportionate

Marks: Four vaccination marks on Left forearm.

Cut right side of forehead. Scar left forehead, scar on each knee.

Occupation: Tailor

Native Place: New South Wales

Aliases: James Lee, Percy John Lee.

Percy Lee was born into a large family living in Merriwa, New South Wales. His father, a farmer, and his mother, who worked home duties, raised him in a good catholic family. Percy was well educated and worked the family farm from a young age and later as a jockey riding in the local race meetings. In 1914 war broke out and the losses were heavy. As war entered its second year, reinforcements were called for. Percy lied about his age so that he could enlist. He was only sixteen when he was sent to France. Twice wounded in action, he returned home at the end of 1918.

Back home, the great depression had hit. There were no jobs, especially for young men with war wounds that were unable to work doing physical labour.  This was when Percy first had his run in with the law.

Percy was a ‘dip artist’ (pickpocket) and a good one. Percy served numerous short sentences in gaols’ all over New South Wales all for theft in one way or another. Escaping the heat from his crime, Percy ventured over the border into Queensland.

It wasn’t long until the arm of the law reached Percy. Percy Lee was charged on the 8th of May 1926 with two counts of stealing. The police magistrate sentenced him to six months for each charge to be served cumulatively.  Off in the black maria to her majesty’s prison (Boggo Road Gaol) he went.  Just two short weeks later, he would meet John James Roberts, also in for stealing. Roberts was in for six months, however, he could reduce his sentence by paying a fine if he could get the money together. In the meantime, Percy and Roberts put their heads down and were of best behaviour. They became good pals. Thick as thieves, so they say.

Their friendship didn’t long get started when Roberts was released on the 19th of June; he had raised the funds to pay the fine. To Percy, all was lost. His mate was gone, but he knew what he had to do. He had to keep his head down and be on his best behaviour. He had to get out of there.

The Escape

At 10:40 am on Monday the 16th of August, 1926 Percy was engaged in repairing a fence outside of the gaol walls under the supervision of an armed warder. Just then, a speeding dark yellow motor car was driven up and swerved around as Lee sprang to his feet and onto the footboard and slid into the car. The car sped away in the direction of the city carrying its four occupants. The warder, realising what has happened fired his revolver, the bullets struck the car twice, but without much effect. Percy had escaped.  The alarm was sounded, and the area was quickly swarming with police and warders from the prison.

The next afternoon, a pair of prison trousers, a black vest and leather braces that the prisoner was wearing at the time of his escape, were found in Grey street, South Brisbane.

Over the coming months, it would become clear that Percy was gone. He certainly wasn’t in Queensland and the authorities have not found trace of him in his home state of New South Wales. Where had he gone?

The Investigation

The investigations were continuing in Brisbane; how had he got a message out from inside the prison? How had he set up the escape at that exact time? The police put out a request for information. Weighing heavily on his mind, a taxi driver of Russian heritage named Alexander Douglas stepped forward. He admitted that he was the driver of the car that aided the escape of Percy Lee.

Detectives badgered Douglas for hours; he explained that he was threatened into driving the car by another man, John Roberts. He explained how Roberts wound cloth over the number plate of his cab so it wasn’t seen. Roberts had arranged everything, even clothing for Percy to change into.

A patrol car was sent to collect John James Roberts. He was charged with having aided and abetted Percy Lee, however, not before he had named the fourth man in the vehicle, Joseph William Living, a friend of his. A wharf labourer residing at New Farm, Living was sent for. However, he denied he knew anything at all about the plan. The first he knew of it was at the moment it was happening.

Living protested his innocence. Finally, Roberts confessed that he had cooked up the plan with Percy Lee while he was inside Boggo Road. He had received a message over the weekend that the work on the fence would be completed soon… and Monday was the day.

Just how that message got out of the Gaol is a matter that is lost with time. Roberts and Living were charged with having aided and abetted Percy Lee. Roberts pled guilty, adding the statement that Living had nothing whatsoever to do with the escape, he had just been in the car at the time. Living was released. Roberts gained another year in Boggo Road.

Capture

Seven long months later, in March 1927, a police officer in New Zealand spied a man that looked familiar. It was the escaped prisoner from Australia, Percy Lee.

Percy was returned to Australia. Though not to Brisbane; Percy had an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Sydney on the charge of serious assault and robbery. Percy was to be lodged in Long Bay Gaol for the next twenty three months, with the Queensland authorities waiting to bring him back to finish his seven months in Boggo Road. He never did return to Queensland. Instead, he married and spent the rest of his life with a sickly, emotionally tormented wife and no work. He loved her, but she needed help that he could not afford to give her. Consequently, Percy was in and out of prison. His wife died tragically young. Percy was in and out of prison into the forties, before finally disappearing from the records forever.


Want to see where Percy Lee escaped?   You can!  Join us for our Escapes tour this Sunday! Hosted by Director Jack Sim, you will hear of some of the greatest escape stories from the history of Boggo Road Gaol.   To book click here

This article was contributed by Research Coordinator Sue Olsen as part of the ongoing research program for Boggo Road Gaol Pty Ltd. The aim of the program is to bring to light and share articles relating to Boggo Road for the purposes of review and study. Do you have a story to share or something you would like us to know about? You can contact the research team here

From the Archives – HM Prison for Females

From the Archives – HM Prison for Females

His Majesty’s Prison for females (later known as number 2 division Boggo Road Gaol) operated from 1903 to 1921 before being moved to other buildings on the gaol reserve. Each month the prison players bring to life the female division of Boggo Road Gaol.
This Sunday why not escape the 21st century and experience it for yourself?

From the Archives – HM Prison for Females

His Majesty’s Prison for females (later known as number 2 division Boggo Road Gaol) operated from 1903 to 1921 before being moved to other buildings on the gaol reserve. Each month the prison players bring to life the female division of Boggo Road Gaol.

Coinciding with the Prison Players performance this Sunday we would like to make mention of a series of records that has become invaluable to adding colour to the performances.

Held at the Queensland State Archives, the admission registers to HM Prison for females and the description books are wonderful resources used to find out more personal details of each prisoner.

Sadly these records are far from a complete series; however they do cover the initial period where the women were housed in what we now know as number two division Boggo Road Gaol, the only remaining portion of the gaol.

The admission register lists the basics on the prisoner for each admission that they make to the prison. This record is arranged by alphabetical order by surname and then in numerical order by year (for example:  243 /1903 Smith, Agnes) this record goes on to record the sentencing information, the location of their trial, the magistrate that heard the case, and even how the prisoner was disposed of. (For example:  how much of their sentence did they serve and their release date)

The description book lists the basic information about each prisoner, such as their full name, place of birth, any aliases that they may be using. Physical information such as their weight, height, eye colour, skin tone and build are also recorded.   In some records their level of education and occupation is recorded as well as any prior convictions that the prisoner may have.   

As you can see, for the researcher these records give a picture of the prisoner at a time where photographs were not taken.  Therefore they become an essential part of the story of Boggo Road Gaol.

The research team hopes that this gives the reader an idea of the types of records that are available for specific research on a particular prisoner in Boggo Road Gaol.

So when you get the opportunity to see the prison players in action, you can understand the level of research that goes into providing the most immersing and accurate portrayal possible.


This Sunday, why not escape the 21st century; leave behind the cars, air conditioning, electricity and modern technology.   Bring along the family and show them what life was like before all of the modern conveniences and even some of the things we see as basics to everyday.   Click here to secure your tickets.

This article was contributed by Research Coordinator Sue Olsen as part of the ongoing research program for Boggo Road Gaol Pty Ltd. The aim of the program is to bring to light and share articles relating to Boggo Road for the purposes of review and study. Do you have a story to share or something you would like us to know about? You can contact the research team here.

 

From the headlines: Officer Frank Johnstone

From the headlines: Officer Frank Johnstone:

A short story this week; again from the headlines of the Courier Mail newspaper:  The remarkable story of the officer who accidentally shot himself with his own pistol!

From the Headlines: Officer Frank Johnstone

 

The morning started out like any other for Frank; he rose early and dressed for work, eating his breakfast and collecting his lunch and flask of hot coffee from the kitchen table. Hurriedly he kissed his wife on the cheek as he left the door of their Bardon home.   Little did he know how his morning would unfold!

The cold winter’s morning had taken its toll on Frank, even before he had arrived at work.  He had put on an extra layer of clothing before the ride on the tram to Annerley and the short walk to the gaol.

Arriving at the gates of the gaol he clocked in with his fellow officers.  As usual he lined up at the Armoury door for his pistol.  Shortly before 5:45am as he was collecting his pistol it slipped from his cold hands, with a crash the pistol hit the floor and Bang!  It went off.

The bullet flew from the chamber passing through Frank’s right leg, only narrowly missing his fellow officers before lodging in the wall of the armoury.

Frank fell to the floor wounded, the noise from the discharge of the pistol rang out over the prison and all haste was taken in discovering its source.

Frank was seen to at the prison hospital, his wound not being serious he was allowed to go home to recuperate.

A subsequent investigation ruled that the incident was an accident and no disciplinary action was taken against officer Johnstone.

The armoury and likely the bullet remain to this day, inside the gates of number 2 division Boggo Road Gaol.   You can see the armoury on any of the tours of Boggo Road Gaol.


Want to know what it was like to be an officer at Boggo Road Gaol?  Want to know how easily an accident like this could happen on a cold winter’s morning?  Come along this Sunday for our officer tour and meet former officer Kevin Hayden!  For more information click here

This article was contributed by Research Coordinator Sue Olsen as part of the ongoing research program for Boggo Road Gaol Pty Ltd. The aim of the program is to bring to light and share articles relating to Boggo Road for the purposes of review and study. Do you have a story to share or something you would like us to know about? You can contact the research team here.

From the Headlines…From Boggo Road to Marry

From the Headlines …From Boggo Road to Marry

“From Boggo Road to Marry & Back to 10 Year Sentence” A story from the Headlines of the Truth Newspaper on the 10thof December 1939, tells the remarkable story of prisoner John Daniel Robertson who was given the extraordinary permission to marry while under sentence of ten years at HM Prison Men Brisbane (later known as Boggo Road Gaol)

 

“From Boggo Road to Marry & Back to 10 Year Sentence” A story from the headlines of the Truth newspaper on the 10thof December 1939, tells the remarkable story of prisoner John Daniel Robertson who was given  extraordinary permission to marry while under sentence of ten years at HM Prison Men Brisbane (later known as Boggo Road Gaol)

The Crime

John Daniel Robertson was found guilty of the rape and indecent assault with violence of a young woman in Mackay in August of 1938.   He had followed her from her work and dragged her into a laneway and viciously assaulted her.

The victim was able to make an escape and found a nearby policeman; he followed her to the scene and arrested Robertson.  A short time later she formally identified him in an interview.  Robertson was held for trial before the police magistrate.

The Sentence

In the March 1939 trial, Robertson and his team failed to impress upon the jury and Mr. Justice Douglas of his innocence of the four charges against him.  He was found guilty and sentenced to Fourteen years imprisonment with hard labour.

The Appeal

Mr E. M. Hanlon

Almost as soon as the cell door had slammed shut on Robertson, His friends and workmates had begun to rally behind him raising the funds for him to be able to appeal his case.  He wished to have a new trial, this was denied. However with the review of the case his sentence was changed to ten years with hard labour.

Permission to Marry

In days gone by, it was traditional to ask the bride’s father for permission to marry… In this case permission to marry had to be sought from the minister for home affairs Mr. E.M. Hanlon.   It was very uncommon for a long term prisoner to seek permission to marry simply because they were held behind bars for a long period of time. The case was given very close inspection by the minister before giving his permission.  The location of the wedding was also a problem.  It was out of the question for the wedding to be held inside the gaol. So an alternative location had to be sought.

 The Wedding

Romance descended on Boggo Road Gaol that Saturday October afternoon.   A prison officer in his civilian clothing entered one of the cells and escorted Robertson to the superintendent’s office.  A word of congratulations and wishes for good luck from the Superintendent and Robertson (still under control of the officer) left the gaol precincts for the Holy Trinity Church at Woolloongabba.  The wedding was held with great secrecy so as to prevent the public finding out, with the risk that it would turn into some sort of circus with a large number of curious spectators flocking to the site. Under this veil of secrecy only the immediate family of the couple was permitted to attend.   A few short minutes after the service was completed Robertson was bundled off back to his cell in Boggo Road with his bride left to entertain the family.

Holy Trinity Church, Woolloongabba 1949

The Aftermath

Robertson no sooner had married that he had sent a request to the parole board for release.  He wished to be released into his wife’s custody, with other requirements to be met under the parole agreement.

At the date of this article no decision had been made on his parole.

However not wanting to leave the reader in any suspense… The Truth Newspaper published the verdict on parole just a week later.

NOT TO GO FREE was the headline.  And is perhaps all the reader needs to know.

The article goes on to state:

Robertson is at liberty to lodge a further petition at a further date but the board will not consider his release until he has served a longer portion of his ten year sentence.

Robertson was very certain he would secure his parole.  He considered that he had been granted permission to marry; his freedom then on parole should be almost automatic.  Reports to the truth from inside the gaol show that Robertson was a very disappointed man when the decision was communicated to him.

 

So it was, Robertson was locked up in Boggo Road Gaol serving his ten years… waiting for his opportunity to apply for parole again.

This story has so much more to tell… so many unusual twists and turns to be revealed… Perhaps the most unusual that was yet to be revealed to the public we will tell you right now.

The woman he married with such extraordinary secrecy was the same woman that put him in gaol in the first place.

His victim.

 


This Sunday, you can hear more stories from a prisoner’s perspective.  Larry Campbell, a former prisoner at Boggo Road, will guide you through some of the most turbulent years of the Gaol’s history.   To book tickets for our fascinating prisoner tour click here.

Did you know that unlike John Daniel Robertson… you can have your wedding in gaol?  For more information visit here

This article was contributed by Research Coordinator Sue Olsen as part of the ongoing research program for Boggo Road Gaol Pty Ltd. The aim of the program is to bring to light and share articles relating to Boggo Road for the purposes of review and study. Do you have a story to share or something you would like us to know about? You can contact the research team here

 

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