MURDERS of WOMEN and CHILDREN 19th century Tasmania
EXECUTIONS: DEATH by HANGING Hobart Gaol 1880s
HEAD CASTS and PHRENOLOGY 1880s
Detail of photograph below:
Henry Stock: carte-de-visite photograph by T. J. Nevin in buff mount pasted opposite death warrant dated 13 September 1884
Death Warrants V.D.L. Tasmania Supreme Court. Mitchell Library C203. SLNSW
Photos copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2009
Henry Stock: carte-de-visite photograph by T. J. Nevin in buff mount pasted opposite death warrant dated 13 September 1884
Death Warrants V.D.L. Tasmania Supreme Court. Mitchell Library C203. SLNSW
Photos copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2009
This carte-de-visite in an oval mount is a booking shot of Henry Stock still wearing his fine street clothes. It was taken by government contractor T. J. Nevin when Stock was incarcerated at the Hobart Gaol in July 1883. Even as late as the mid 1880s, Thomas Nevin, assisted by his brother Constable John Nevin who was armed in sessions involving violent prisoners, continued to compose and print mugshots of prisoners for police and prison records within the conventions and techniques of 1870s commercial studio portraiture. This cdv may have been taken soon after Henry Stock’s arraignment at the Supreme Court, Hobart, 24 July 1883, charged with forgery, and reprised a year later to accompany his death warrant when he was arrested for the murder of his wife in September 1884. Bequeathed from collector David Scott Mitchell’s estate in 1907, both the photograph and death warrant were certainly the property of the Tasmanian government when collated in Volume 2, Tasmania Supreme Court Death warrants and related papers, 1818-1884 (C 203), held at the State Library of NSW.
1883: Henry Stock charged with forgery
Imprisoned at the Hobart Gaol, Campbell Street, for six months for “alteration of a figure on a cheque” with another man William John Lawrence, Henry Stock was discharged on 16 January 1884.
CRIMINAL SITTINGS, Tuesday July 24  …. Henry Stock, charged with forgery at Hamilton, pleaded not guilty, and was defended by Mr R. Sergeant. He was convicted, and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment.
SUPREME COURT, HOBART. FIRST COURT. (1883, July 25). Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas. : 1883 – 1928), p. 2.
Henry Stock was 19 years old , locally-born (“native” indicates he was not a transported convict) when he was arraigned in the Supreme Court Hobart, 24 July 1883 for forgery and uttering, and sentenced to six months.
Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime for Police, (police gazette)
Henry Stock, Tasmania Supreme Court trial dates and sentences
Griffith University, The Prosecution Project Historic Trials
1884: murder of wife and child
Discharged on the 18th January, 1884 from the Hobart Gaol, the Tasmania Police Gazette listed Henry Stock as 22 years old, although he was 19 years old only six months earlier. The police added an “s” to his name – Stocks, which the press repeatedly published, gave his height as 5 feet 7 inches, determined his hair was light brown, and recorded a large scar on left wrist. His status was free, prior to arrest.
Henry Stock was discharged from the Hobart Gaol 18th January 1884 (Tasmania Police Gazette: p. 12). Less than two months later, on 28 April 1884, Elizabeth Stock, his wife, was reported missing by police. Henry Stock was arrested on suspicion of murdering her, and her three-year old son (his step-son) Walter Stock.
Information is requested of a married woman named Elizabeth Stock, and her son, aged 2 years, who are missing from their home, Victoria Valley, since the 5th ultimo. Description – 21 years of age, about 5 feet high, stout build, light brown hair, dark eyes, fair complexion, supposed to be wearing a blue cross-barred dress, white hat trimmed with white and red rose, and wore elastic boots. Has two sisters in service at Mr. Terry’s, New Norfolk.
Notice of missing woman Elizabeth Stock and child Walter Stock, with illegible comment written across it. Tasmania Police Gazettes 2 May 1884, p. 70.
Henry Stock was arrested on suspicion of murder of his wife. Tasmania Police Gazette 2 May 1884, p. 69
The inquest of 1st May 1884 returned the verdict that Elizabeth Stock, 21 years old, and her son Walter Stock, aged 3 years, were murdered at Victoria Valley (Tas) by Henry Stock on or about 6 April 1884.
Henry Stock was remanded for the murder of his wife Elizabeth on 13th May 1884, and again on 22 July 1884 for two murders, his wife and her son as well. In the latter session, according to the footnote at the bottom of page 139, the jury was locked up for the night, “being unable to agree, and discharged at 10 a.m. on the 23rd July.” On 23 September, 1884, the verdict of death by hanging was determined.
Arraigned at the Supreme Court, Hobart on 23 September 1884, Henry Stock, 23 years old, was sentenced to death for the murder of Elizabeth Stock. The charge of murder of her son Walter Stock was dropped – “Nolle prosequi“. Source: Tasmania Police Gazette 3 October 1884, p. 159
The death warrants
Death Warrants V.D.L. Tasmania Supreme Court. Mitchell Library SLNSW C203.
Photo copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2009
Catalogue Notes: State Library of NSW
Tasmania. Supreme Court – Death warrants and related papers, 1818-1884
Creator: Tasmania. Supreme Court
Call Number: C 202 – C 203
Date: 1818 – 1884
Contents: 1818-1884; Death warrants for the execution of prisoners in Tasmania; with related papers including receipts for bodies received at hospitals, orders for sentences to be commuted to penal servitude for life, and for transportation to Macquarie Harbour. There are two photographs in volume 2 (C 203) which may be of James Sutherland in 1883 and Henry Stock in 1884. (Call No.: ML C 202 – C 203)
Arrangement: The warrants and papers are not in chronological order within the two volumes; volume 1 contains documents dated between 1818-1855 and volume 2 between 1827-1884.
Source: Mitchell Bequest, 1907. State Library of NSW, Sydney.
Henry Stock: carte-de-visite photograph in buff mount pasted opposite death warrant, 13 September 1884
Death Warrants V.D.L. Tasmania Supreme Court. Mitchell Library C203. SLNSW
Photos copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2009
To the SHERIFF of Tasmania and to the Keeper of Her Majesty’s Gaol at Hobart in Tasmania, jointly and severally.
Whereas at a Session of Oyer and Terminer and General Gaol Delivery of the Supreme Court of Tasmania holden at Hobart in Tasmania aforesaid on Thursday the Twenty third day of September instant Henry Stock was convicted before me of the murder of Elizabeth Stock and thereupon for that Offence received Sentence to be hanged by the neck until he should be dead – NOW IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that executing of the said Sentence be accordingly made and done upon the said Henry Stock on Monday the Thirteenth day of October next at the usual Hour and Place of Execution, and that his body when dead be buried privately by the Sheriff.
Given under my Hand and Seal at Hobart in Tasmania aforesaid this Thirteenth day of September in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and eighty four.
[signed by W. L. Dobson and stamped with the Royal Arms colonial seal ]
John Swan Sheriff, 10 October 1884: his authorisation for the execution of prisoner Henry Stock.
Death Warrants V.D.L. Tasmania Supreme Court. Mitchell Library C203.SLNSW
Photo copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2009
To all to whom those present shall come Greeting. I John Swan of Hobart in Tasmania Esquire, Sheriff of Tasmania and its Dependencies hereby appoint, authorize depute Philip Samuel Seager of Hobart aforesaid Gentleman for me and in my stead to execute on the Thirteenth day of October instant the sentence of the Law passed on the prisoner Henry Stock at the last Session of Oyer and Terminer and General Gaol Delivery held at Hobart aforesaid before the Honorable William Lambert Dobson Acting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Tasmania aforesaid, and to do and execute and perform all things that may be necessary in or about the premises.
Given under my hand and Seal of Office this Tenth day of October One thousand eight hundred and eighty four. John Swan Sheriff.
[signed by John Swan and stamped with the Royal Arms colonial seal]
The use of the word “execute” in this warrant, given the circumstances, is misleading. At a glance, it might appear that Sheriff John Swan was authorising his deputy Philip Samuel Seager to perform the hangman’s duty, to carry out the actual execution of the prisoner. His use of the word “execute” twice in this document, though unfortunate given the context, is correct idiomatic English, meaning to put a plan or order into action. John Swan had only deputised Seager to carry out the order – to “execute … the sentence of the law“, and to “to execute and perform all things that may be necessary in or about the premises” in preparation for the execution of Henry Stock; the actual hangman for this and several other executions at the Hobart Gaol was the socially shunned Solomon Bray (Breay, var. spelling of father’s name). He pinioned the prisoner. i.e. tied his hands and legs with leather straps, according to this summary from the Daily Telegraph (Launceston):
EXECUTION OF STOCK.
The execution of Henry Stock, who was convicted at the last Criminal Sessions of the murder of his wife and child, took place at 8 o’clock this morning, in the presence of Messrs. Seager, the Deputy Sheriff; Quodling, the Governor of the Gaol ; Hedberg, Sub Inspector of the Territorial Police ; Smith, the Under Gaoler : Rev. Geo. W. Shoobridge, Chaplain to the Gaol ; Rev. T. M. O’Callaghan ; the members of the Press, and the gaol officials. On Mr Seager asking Stock whether he had anything to say, he replied, ‘All I have to say is that I am innocent.’ When asked whether he had any message he would like taken to anybody, he replied ‘ .No.’ He was then pinioned by Solomon Blay, and he followed Mr Shoobridge to the drop. The condemned man appeared somewhat faint, but his step was firm, and he walked on to the platform bravely and exhibited no signs of breaking down. In his right hand he carried a little bunch of flowers with the following text attached : ‘ He shall speak peace unto the heathen.’ He then mounted the platform, the white cap was placed over his head, the bolt drawn, and the unfortunate man launched into eternity. The operation took over three minutes, Mr Shoobridge continuing the prayer during the whole time. Whilst in gaol Stock was respectful to all the officials. Up to the time of his death he made no confession. On Sunday night his rest was partially disturbed, but this morning he eat [sic – ate] a hearty breakfast of fish. The body was cut down after an hour’s time and examined by Dr. Turnley, who pronounced the body to be dead. His remains were conveyed at 11 o’clock to Cornelian Bay. Mr A. J. Taylor took cast of his head.
Execution of Stock. Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas. : 1883 – 1928), Tuesday 14 October 1884, page 2
A. J. Taylor: head casts and phrenology
Alfred Joseph Taylor (1849-1921), librarian and collector, was born on 24 March 1849 in Hobart Town, son of Emma and Thomas Joseph Taylor. Although he received only a basic education, he gained employment as a librarian at New Norfolk in his teens. In January 1874 he became librarian of the Tasmanian Public Library which was located in rooms at the Hobart Town Hall during the years 1876-1880 when photographer Thomas J. Nevin held the position of Hall and Office Keeper with residency for his family. A. J. Taylor’s large private collection of ethnographic and natural science materials was acquired by the TMAG. Read more here at ADB…
Photograph – Mr A. J. Taylor, Tasmanian Exhibition, 1894-5, Season Ticket Holder – Public Library
Item Number: NS738/1/2585
Start Date: 01 Jan 1894
Source :Archives Office of Tasmania
On delivery of Henry Stock’s body to the Cornelian Bay cemetery, Alfred Taylor took a cast of Henry Stock’s head prior to burial. Stock’s was not the only head cast destined for his private collection, as this photograph (below) of Taylor’s private museum reveals. Shelves and shelves of head casts and death masks line the wall on right. According to the Tasmanian News, Taylor used them for sessions on phrenology in which practitioners of this bogus science claimed to demonstrate the characteristics of criminality through delineations of the head.
The remains of the unfortunate were conveyed to the Cornelian Bay Cemetery at 11 a.m. where they were interred, the Rev. A. Martin, curate of Holy Trinity Church, conducting service at the grave. By permission of the authorities, Mr A. J . Taylor took a cast of Stocks’ head after death, and will probably, at an early date , furnish the Press with a phrenological delineation.
Source: Tasmanian News (Hobart, Tas. : 1883 – 1911), Monday 13 October 1884, page 3
Photograph – A J Taylor’s Museum – Interior
Start Date: 01 Jan 1910
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania
While Andrew Taylor most happily allowed his intention to take a cast of the head of dead Henry Stock to be published in the press, he was not so happy about misrepresentation of his sentiments with regard to the living Henry Stock. He asked the press to correct any suggestion that he wanted to be at this prisoner’s execution, or indeed, at any other, as stated in his letter:
A J. Taylor. letter to editor re visit before execution of Henry Stocks
Launceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 – 1899), Friday 17 October 1884, page 3
EXECUTION OF HENRY STOCKS.
TO THE EDITOR.
SIR,-I notice that a misstatement contained in Tuesday’s Mercury, and corrected in today’s issue, has been copied in today’s Examiner – viz., that I applied for, and was refused, permission to witness the execution of Stocks. As a matter of fact I never have applied, and probably never shall apply, for permission to be present at an execution. I have no wish ever to witness such a scene as that enacted on Monday last.
A few days before the execution of Stocks I told the Sheriff that if there were no objections to my doing so I should like to visit the condemned man in his company, but on Mr. Swan informing me that the Rev. Mr. Shoobridge had expressed a wish that visitors might not be admitted, I at once withdrew my request, as I had no wish to do anything likely to disturb the mind of the unfortunate man lying under sentence of death. By inserting the above you will oblige – Yours, etc., ALFRED J. TAYLOR.
On Alfred Taylor’s death in 1921, his extensive collection of death masks was acquired by John Watt Beattie for display in his own museum at 51 Murray St. Hobart. A portrait of Alfred Taylor hangs above the display of death masks in this photograph (below). Beattie’s collection of death masks, the largest collection in Australia at that time, was purchased by the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in 1927 and largely forgotten until 1978 when they were discovered in an advanced state of decay in a basement under the QVMAG library. Most were unidentifiable.
Death masks lining the walls at Beattie’s Port Arthur Museum, 51 Murray St. Hobart 1920s
TMAG collection Q1993.56.263
John Watt Beattie (on left) and Alfred Taylor (on right) ca. 1920
Archives Office of Tasmania
Press reports of the murder of Elizabeth Stock
The press reported many witness statements in lurid detail as the date of execution approached of Henry Stock for the murder of Elizabeth Stock his wife, and her son Walter Stock.
2nd May 1884:
Launceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 – 1899), Saturday 3 May 1884, page 3
THE OUSE TRAGEDY. (BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH.)
HOBART, May 2. The inquest on the body of Elizabeth Stocks and her infant was resumed at the Ouse, at 3 pm. yesterday, before Mr. John King, Coroner.
William Jenkins deposed he was a farmer, residing at the Dee since March 10 last, and worked with Henry Stocks at Bigmarsh, sleeping in the same hut with him; witness occupied a room with Stocks at the back; and under his bed was a single barrelled gun; in Henry Stocks’s room there was a double barrelled gun; Stocks removed the gun from the premises on one Saturday, and took it to a house where witness’s mother resided, but he could not possibly swear to the exact date; on the night of the 5th April Stocks slept at witness’s place, but he could not swear that Stocks took his gun away, nor could he be positive of the date; Stocks occupied a bed in Jenkins’s room that night, but the hour of his departure in the morning was not known, but when the witness got up Stocks was not in the room; they both, however, went to bed together; witness did not remember the hour on the following morning when he saw Stocks on the road leading from the Ouse to Marlborough, between Dee and Duck Marsh; Stocks was going towards the Dee from the valley, and in his possession there was a double-barrelled gun; witness asked him had he seen his wife; he said “No;” witness was in the habit of visiting his mother once a fortnight; but never remembered Stocks carrying his gun before the above-mentioned day; Stocks often stayed at the house of wit-ness’s mother, but there was no intimacy going on between him and Miss Mary Jenkins before his marriage with the deceased; nor had there been any since; Stocks never spoke to witness about his wife; nor was the latter carrying a gun when he met the prisoner, who told him he was going to see his wife. By the prisoner — Stocks told witness he was going to shoot some opossums, and he did shoot some. Re-examined — Witness did not believe that a gun fired in the valley could be heard at the Dee, distant about a mile and a half; he advised Stocks to leave his wife; Stocks was carrying ammunition on Sun-day morning, the 6th of April, to the best of witness’s belief, and Stocks had the powder flask and belt produced, which be-longed to him; witness used No.1 shot and “BB ” mixed, which was also used by Stocks; the shot produced from the remains of the deceased was similar to that in Stocks’s pouch.
Arthur Edward Stannard deposed that he resided at the Duck Marshes, New Country, and on the 6th April last heard two shots fired, but could not swear to the direction; one shot followed the other in quick succession; immediately afterwards told his mother what he had heard, re-marking it was a very early hour for shooting; this was between 6 and 7 in the morn-ing; it was very rare for any one to be shooting so early in the morning; he lived about three miles from where the deceased lived; his father would not allow strangers to shoot during Sunday on his marsh.
William Keats, junr., deposed that he was a labourer, and the prisoner Henry Stocks was his brother-in-law; Stocks had been married about two years; last Tues-day week Keats formed one of a search party to look for his sister, who was then missing; the search lasted for two days, on Saturday last the party found the re-mains of the deceased; was able to identify them by the clothing; Stocks never said anything to Keats about his sister being absent from the house, but reported the fact of the deceased’s absence to Sub-Inspector Caste.
Wm. Watson, a farmer, deposed, that he also formed one of a search party to look for Mrs. Stocks; when asked concerning his wife, the prisoner Stocks denied all knowledge of her whereabouts; the body was found on Saturday, attention being drawn to the spot where it lay by a powerful odour.
Sarah Stannard deposed that she was the wife of Michael Stannard, residing at the New Country; on the 6th April she saw Henry Stocks passing her house between 9 and 10 a.m.;. he was coming from the valley, and going towards the Dee; he was carrying a gun; early that morning her son told her he heard a couple of shots fired; about three hours elapsed between the hearing of the shots and the time Stocks passed the house; she never saw any other person carrying a gun on that day; no one had permission to shoot over the Duck Marshes; she had never heard that the prisoner Stocks and his wife lived unhappily.
At this stage the Court adjourned to the following morning (to-day).
The Court resumed its sittings at 11 o’clock to-day, being again crowded.
Charles H. Marrock, a shepherd, deposed that he was present when the bodies were found in a thick scrub; believed the deceased was murdered on that spot. Joseph Stocks, uncle of the deceased, a farmer residing at Victoria Valley, de-posed that he was one of the search party for the deceased; prisoner was present at that search, but took no interest in it; the body was found a quarter of a mile from Stocks’s hut; during the search Stocks said — “I suppose they will hold me fast if my wife is found dead;. I shall have to swing and save some other poor ——from hanging.”
Mary Jenkins, aunt of the prisoner Stocks, deposed that he stayed in her house on April 5; prisoner went to bed.at 10 o’clock that night, but was away very early in the morning; returning in the afternoon carrying a gun; she never knew the deceased or prisoner to have a single cross word; her daughter was never engaged to the prisoner.
The Court at this stage was adjourned. The inquest will probably conclude to-morrow. The greatest excitement is prevailing in the district, and on the recovery of the bodies Stocks would probably have been lynched by the indignant friends of the deceased. Stocks is 23 years old of the larrikin type, and behaves in the coolest manner possible, exhibiting not the slightest feeling. The medical evidence to-morrow will show that the deceased was shot in the region of the heart, several pellets, being found in the victim’s chest which correspond with those used by Stocks and found in his pouch.
5th May 1884
Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), Monday 5 May 1884, page 3
The New Country Tragedy.
VERDICT OF WILFUL MURDER AGAINST HENRY STOCKS.
[BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH]
[FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.]
The inquest on the body of Elizabeth Stocks was resumed to day. Betsy Jenkins, cousin of the accused, said she remembered Henry Stocks remaining at her mother’s house on April 6. He went to bed at 10 o’clock. Witness was up at 6 the following morning, and he had gone out. She met him about 11 coming from Victoria Valley. He was carrying a gun. She did not know whether there was, or is, anything between her sister Mary and Henry Stocks, but had heard so during the last week. Prisoner, told her when she met him that he had shot a rabbit near Duck Marsh, and had fired two shots at it.
James Stocks, brother of Henry Stocks, said he slept at Mrs Stocks’ hut on Wednesday night. On leaving on the Thursday morning she told witness that his brother was to be up late on the Saturday night or early Sunday morning following. Witness returned to his sister-in-law’s hut 10 days after. The hut evidently had not been occupied for some days. On his way to Ouse he met William Keats, jun., the brother of deceased, Shawfield, and informed him that his sister was missing. Witness bought some shot at Ouse, and loaded the left-hand barrel of the gun found in deceased’s hut. The right barrel was useless, and he did not load it. The shot produced and the wadding was similar to what he bought, and the wadding he believed was the same as he loaded the gun with.
George Horrocks, an expert, said the shot produced was No. 4, and was the same or similar to that found in deceased’s body. One whole grain is the same. The shot used, was a mixed one. Witness was one of the search party, and distance from the spot in which deceased was found to Stannard’s house, where the shot was heard, is only about two miles and three quarters direct. During early morning no doubt the report of a gun fired could be heard that distance.
John Cashion, Sub-Inspector of Police, proved receiving the report of deceased’s absence on the 23rd ult. from her father. He reported to Superintendent Neylon, and a search party was formed on the following day (Thursday), and the search was continued till Saturday afternoon, 26th ult, when the remains were found. Prisoner was present, but seemed unconcerned. Witness asked prisoner what brought the deceased there, and he answered “I don’t know.” Witness pointed to a hole in the child’s skull, and asked what caused that; Prisoner replied, “Shot, I suppose.” Witness asked him had he brought a gun on April 6 from Dee to the Valley, and prisoner said “No.” Superintendent Neylon, examined, said: He received a report from the last witness of deceased’s absence and instituted a search. He recovered, a double-barrelled gun from the hut occupied by accused, along with a shot pouch and powder flask. He had the remains of the dead bodies which were found removed to the Ouse for inquest.
Superintendent Neylon, by permission of the coroner, then addressed the jury, point-ing out the most salient facts elicited by the evidence.
The Coroner occupied the Court 20 minutes in summing up and reviewing the evidence, and the jury after 10 minutes returned a verdict of wilful murder against Henry Stocks.
The prisoner was not at all affected by the verdict, and appeared perfectly callous, as he had been during the whole enquiry.
The inquest on the child will be commenced on Monday.
The bodies were interred yesterday in the Ouse Cemetery, followed by a large crowd. The Rev. Mr. Earl conducted the service at the grave.
22nd July 1884
Tasmanian News (Hobart, Tas. : 1883 – 1911), Tuesday 22 July 1884, page 3
(Before His Honor Chief Justice Dobson.)
THE OUSE MURDER.
Henry Stocks, aged 22, was charged with having, on April 6, at the Ouse, wilfully murdered his wife, Elizabeth Stocks.
The following jury were empanelled: —- J. H. Propsting (foreman). H. S. Barnett, B. Dixon, A. R. Blacklow, J. Briggs, W. Westcott, J. Kerr, G. I. Newberry, J. W. Lindsray, F.Belbin, E. Taylor, W. Watson. Prisoner pleaded not guilty, and was defended by Mr. A. Dobson.
The Attorney-General prosecuted on behalf of the Crown, and stated his case, saying prisoner was married about two years ago to a young woman named Elizabeth Keats, aged 19, who was then the mother of an illegitimate child, of which prisoner was aware at the time. About 12 months ago prisoner was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for forgery. On his release from gaol, in February, he did not return home, and on March 26 his wife sued him for maintenance. An agreement was made by which the wife and child were to live in prisoner’s hut, where there were provisions, the prisoner remaining at work at the Big Marsh, and agreeing to visit her every fortnight. The Attorney-General then reviewed the case, and cursorily fore-shadowed the evidence to be adduced.
Thomas Oldham and J. T. Smith, officials at the Hobart Gaol, deposed that prisoner had been imprisoned for six months for forgery, and a letter came for prisoner from Mrs Triffet, with a cheque for £1, on behalf of prisoner’s wife, to take him home.
John King, Warden of Hamilton, de-posed that he knew the prisoner and his wife. The latter laid an information for maintenance on March 15 against prisoner. On March 26 prisoner and his wife attended at the Hamilton Court, but the summons was not proceeded with.
Wm. Kents, sen., deposed that he was a farmer residing at Lane’s Tier, Hamilton. Prisoner married witness’s daughter about two and a half years ago. She was then 19 years old, and had a child before marriage, of which prisoner was aware. Prisoner received a sentence about a year ago. and his wife went to service at Mrs Triffett’s, witness keeping the child. Previous to then prisoner and his wife had been living at Victoria Valley, on his father’s property. Witness saw prisoner nine or ten days after he was discharged from gaol. Mrs Stocks went to the hut where they had been living before her husband got into gaol, but could not say whether prisoner lived with her after he returned. Witness’s daughter summoned prisoner on March 26 for maintenance; the case was not proceeded with as it was settled, but witness could not say what were the terms of the agreement. The Warden asked prisoner what objection he had to take his wife back; prisoner said he had no objection to take his wife back, but he would not take the child. He said his wife could go back to the hut where she was before, and he would visit her once a fortnight. Deceased agreed to go back, prisoner promising to keep her suppled with food. On March 31 deceased took her child and went to the hut, a distance of nine miles. Witness never again saw her alive. About three weeks after that witness found deceased was missing, That was on April 23, and a search party was organised to look for her. Prisoner did not join the party the first day, but did so on the second. Witness was not present when the body was found. When she left witness’s house to go to the hut she had on a green plaid dress and black straw hut. On the second day of the search witness asked prisoner where his wife was. Prisoner replied that he did not know. Witness said it was time he did know something about her. Prisoner replied that if she went away she could come back again. The dress on the body found was the same as that worn by deceased when she left witness’s house.
Cross-examined by Mr Dobson — The child was two and a half years old, and deceased was living with witness when the child was born. Wm. Cashion was the father of the child. He was a relative of the policeman at Victoria Valley. Witness had stated at the coroner’s inquest that prisoner had been unwilling to take the child back, but deceased said where she went the child would go, and the Warden said he must take both back. When prisoner returned from Hobart he took a job of fencing at the Big Marsh, about 16 miles from where his wife was living at Victoria Valley. Witness believed prisoner proposed to leave his wife at home whilst he worked at the Big Marsh, and he to visit home fortnightly. Witness did not persuade his daughter to take out the maintenance summons against prisoner, but he had talked with her about him. Witness could not tell if his daughter wanted anything in the hut. There were provisions found in the hut after deceased had left it, but they had been carried there by deceased. There had never been any quarrel between witness and Stocks. Re-examined — The money found in the hut had been given to deceased by witness’ wife. He did not believe prisoner had given her anything after the trial.
James Stock deposed he was brother to prisoner, and knew the latter’s wife. He last saw her alive on Thursday, April 3, at Victoria Valley. She was in the hut with his wife and child. Witness stayed there all night, and left early next morning. Deceased was quite well then. Witness returned to the hut about ten days after. Witness saw prisoner at the Dee then, and asked him if he had seen his wife lately. Witness’s reason for asking prisoner the question was because he had called at the hut on his return, and there was no one at the hut. The hut was tidy, except the breakfast things had not been cleared away. Witness remained in the hut all night. Witness’s father’s gun was standing in the corner. It was a double-barrelled gun, but only one barrel was useful. Witness loaded the gun with powder and shot he had brought from the Ouse. He did so to shoot an eagle-hawk, but the latter flying away, he left the gun loaded. It was on Sunday morning, the 13th, when he left the hut, and the same day he asked prisoner about his wife. There were cakes, flour, and corned meat in the hut. Cross-examined by Mr Dobson: The two bags of flour, together with tea and sugar, were supplied by prisoner’s father The meat came from the Dee, Witness thought deceased was at her father place. Witness was using No. 3 shot. All the people in the district shoot. Knew a man named Pearce, who often visited the hut. Cashion had often visited the hut whilst prisoner was away. He stayed till 12 and 1 o’clock in the morning. Witness heard deceased and Cashion quarrelling one night after witness had gone to bed. She ordered Cashion to leave. Prisoner was very fond of his wife’s little boy, and he never heard deceased complain of receiving any ill treatment from prisoner.
Re-examined: Deceased lived for a short time in the hut after prisoner was sentenced for forgery. She then went to service. Prisoner told witness he went to the hut on his return from Hobart, but his wife was not there, and he then went to the Big Marsh, fencing. Never heard of any quarrel between prisoner and his wife.
Arthur Edward Slannard deposed to hearing two shots fired on Sunday, 5th April, between six and seven o’clock in the morning; and his mother, Mrs Michael Stannard, swore to prisoner passing her house that day. John Cashion, Acting Supt. of Police, deposed to finding on the 26th of April the remains of Mrs Stocks and her child in a thick scrub, half a mile from the hut, very much decomposed. There were shot holes in the child’s skull. Prisoner had said during the search that if his wife was found dead he supposed he would have to swing for it.
Charles Harris, farmer, of Whitemarsh deposed to having seen Mrs Stock chopping wood on the 4th April, when he spoke to her. Both she and her child seemed well. Witness was one of the Search party who found the body of the deceased and her child, he could not recognise the remains of Mrs Stocks when he saw them.
Elizabeth Jenkins gave evidence as to the prisoner saying he would shoot George Harris. Met prisoner on the road after he left her mother’s house on the 5th April. He then said he had not seen his wife. Witness told him that if anything happened to prisoner’s wife she would bear witness against him if she had to go on her hands and knees to Hobart. He said he was not at all frightened of the scaffold, he had been on the scaffold before. He said that if his wife had not had the child she would not be missing. He also said that his wife had gone to New Zealand.
William Jenkins and Maria Jane Jenkins deposed to prisoner having threatened the life of his wife. On the 5th April Stocks slept at their mother’s, and went away early in the morning, When William Jenkins met him on the road between Victoria Valley and their residence, Stocks had a gun, and said he had shot a rabbit.
The evidence of William Keats, jun., brother to the murdered woman, was to the effect that it was the 22nd April before he become uneasy about her. On the 23rd he organised a search party, and Stocks then said he had not seen the deceased. Could not swear to his sister’s dress, but could swear to the child’s hat.
25th July 1884
Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas. : 1883 – 1928), Friday 25 July 1884, page 3
THE DOUBLE MURDER AT THE OUSE.
(Abridged from the Mercury.)
Henry Stocks was charged before His Honor the Acting Chief Justice (Mr W. L. Dobson) on Tuesday with having, on the 6th April, murdered his wife Elizabeth. He pleaded not guilty, and was defended by Mr A. Dobson.
Mr John King, Warden of Hamilton, deposed that Elizabeth Stocks summoned her husband for maintenance on 26th March, but it was not proceeded with.
William Keats, farmer, of Lane’s Tier, deposed — The prisoner married my daughter, Elizabeth, two years and a half ago. She was 19 years of age at the time. She had had a child before her marriage. Remember Stocks getting a sentence last year, and his child was living with me, and his wife was at Mrs Triffett’s, Hamilton, at service. Prior to this prisoner and his wife lived together at Victoria Valley, on his father’s property. Saw prisoner nine or ten days after he came out of gaol, and my daughter went back to live with him. Do not know whether my daughter was living with him before the maintenance order was taken out. Was at Hamilton on March 26 when the case came on. Prisoner and his wife were there also. Had no conversation with the prisoner, but spoke to his daughter. Prisoner said nothing to me about the case. The case was not tried, but was compromised. The Warden asked the prisoner what objection he had to take his wife back, but prisoner made no answer. Afterwards he said he had no objection, but he wouldn’t take the child. Prisoner at last said, in answer to the superintendent, that his wife could go back. My daughter went back on the following Monday, between 7 and 8 o’clock. She took the child, but other wise she was alone. She had to go about nine miles, and took only a change of clothes with her. Never saw her alive afterwards. It was about three weeks after she left that I missed her, that is, about April 23. Formed one of the search party to look for her, but prisoner was not with us at the beginning. This was on the Thurs-day, and I saw him on the Friday. I had no conversation with him. Was not present when the body was found. When my daughter left my house she had a green plaid dress and a black hat. After my daughter left, and before the body was found, I had no conversation with prisoner, except on the Thursday I asked him where my daughter was, and he said he didn’t know, but if she went away she could come back again. The dress on the body at the inquest was the same as deceased wore when she left my house. The child, a boy, was two years and a half old, when she was married. Deceased was living with me at the time. William Cashion was the father of the child, and he is a relative of the policemen at Victoria Valley. After the prisoner was told by the Warden that he must take the child back he agreed to do so. Prisoner did fencing jobs at Big Marsh, about 14 miles away from the hut in Victoria Valley for about four weeks. Believe he proposed to leave his home while he did his work, but he went home about every fortnight. After he left deceased she took out the maintenance summons. She spoke to me about the summons, but I did not persuade her to take it out. Did not propose that it should be done in order that deceased might be allowed so much a week. No order was made at the court. Don’t know whether she ever wanted for any thing. There were two bags of flour and some bread and money in the hut. There was never any quarrel between myself and the prisoner. My daughter some times visited me during her married life, and stayed two or three days at a time. The money that was found in the hut was given to her by my wife.
The Attorney-General proposed to put a question as to a statement as to some thing that was said by the deceased before her death, but it was disallowed.
James Stocks, brother of the prisoner, said : Knew the prisoner’s wife. Saw her last alive on Thursday, April 3, at the hut in Victoria Valley. There were only herself and her child there at the time. Remained there from the previous night, and went away the next morning. She seemed quite well. Returned again to the hut about 10 days afterwards, on a Sunday, April 13. Saw the prisoner, but he said in answer to a question that he had not seen his wife lately. Was led to put the question because I had not noticed the prisoner’s wife about. The hut was clean and tidy, but somebody appeared to have just finished a meal. Remained there from the previous night, but saw no one there on the Saturday. There was a double-barrelled gun in the hut belonging to my father, but one barrel was useless. Loaded the barrel to shoot at a hawk in an adjoining tree. Brought the shot with me from the Ouse, but had no other shot in the hut. Did not fire the gun off but put it back. There were two bed rooms and a kitchen in the hut, but I slept on the sofa. Saw my brother on the Sunday, and put the question to him then. The gun (produced) belongs to my brother. Prisoner never said where his wife was; I never asked him. There were some provisions in the hut when I went there on the second occasion. The two bags of flour were sent by my father, and there was also tea and sugar. The meat came from the Dee. Did not notice whether there was any fire in the hut. The bed was made. My impression was that deceased had made the bed and gone away. When I loaded the gun used No. 3 shot. It is a common thing for people in the locality to shoot such things as kangaroo and wallaby. Knew a man known as “Bumper” Pearce, and he has been in the hut up to 12 and 1 o’clock at night when prisoner was away. One night when I was in bed heard words taking place between Pearce and deceased, and the wife called out to Pearce to “be off” Prisoner was very fond of the boy, and his wife never complained as to his treatment of him. The gun referred to had been in the hut for over 12 months. Had not seen Pearce about the hut since the search was instituted, but had seen him in deceased’s bedroom. I was living in the hut before she went to service. Cannot say whether prisoner and his wife lived together any time since the sentence was up. My father sent the meat that was in the house. Did not say anything about “Bumper” Pearce before the coroner. Pearce was at the hut when the sentence was being served. She was living at service at Mrs Triffett’s, but she came up sometimes. It was four months before the deceased’s death, and before she went to Triffett’s, that I saw Pearce in my sister-in-law’s bedroom. Told this to the prisoner after he came out of gaol, but he would not believe it. Saw prisoner about a fortnight after he left gaol, and then told him of it. Charles Harris, farmer, of Macquarie’s Marsh, said — Know the hut at Victoria Valley where the deceased and her child lived. Saw her last on Friday, April 4. Went to the hut on that occasion about 11 o’clock a.m. Saw nothing of the prisoner. Deceased was outside chopping wood, and both she and the child seemed in good health. Had some conversation with her. She was then in apparently good health, Made one of the subsequent search party, and was one of the first to see the body. Could not recognise the body or the clothes. The remains of the child’s body were close to those of the wife. On April 6 I was looking after some sheep near the hut, and that took me to the place.
Wm. Jenkins, laborer, residing with his mother at the Dee, said — Prisoner and I were working as mates together in March and April at the Big Marsh. Used to sleep in a 4-roomed weatherboard house, in separate rooms. Worked there for about six weeks. It was about a month after the prisoner came up that we took the job. Prisoner sometimes slept at my mother’s house. On the first Saturday in April prisoner left the Big Marsh and I followed him just about dusk. We each had guns. Mine was a single and his a double-barrelled gun. On Saturday we slept at my mother’s, and prisoner went to bed at about 10 p.m. It was about 8 or 9 o’clock when I got up. I saw nothing of the prisoner, and the gun had been taken away. Don’t know why he went away. Saw him again about midday on Sunday, between the Duck Marsh and the Dee, on the road that would lead between the Marsh and Victoria Valley. Prisoner had a gun with him. Asked him whether he had seen his wife. He had told me that he had not. Put the question merely because I thought he had gone there. He asked me whether I had seen a rabbit which he had shot as he was going down. I did see it; it was about a mile away. I went on towards Victoria Valley to Mr Gill’s, and returned home, where I found prisoner. He slept there in my room, and we went away the next morning. When prisoner came up from Hobart he stopped at my mother’s. Prisoner met his wife there, and slept in the house. They appeared to be on good terms. When we went out I suggested that we should take the guns from the Big Marsh to my mother’s in order to shoot opossums. When the body was found did not notice prisoner run away, but saw him come up with the others.
Elizabeth Jenkins, sister of the last witness, said — I live with my mother at the Dee. When I got up on the Sunday morning, at 7 o’clock, prisoner had- gone. Next saw him about midday on the Victoria-road. He had a gun with him, but in answer to my question he said his wife was not at home. Asked Stocks, between this time and the time when the body was found, whether he was going to look for his wife? and he said “No.” Told him that if anything happened to her I would go on my hands and knees to Hobart to go against him. He said he didn’t care; he wasn’t frightened of the gallows; he had been on a scaffold before. He also said to my sister in my hearing, that if his wife had had the child she would not be missing, and to my sister Maria, he stated that deceased had gone to New Zealand. I did not say this at the inquest. Inspector Neylon spoke to me about the case afterwards, and threatened that I would get something (he did not say what) if I did not tell every thing that I knew about the case. He told my sister, in my hearing, that I would get six months or seven years if I didn’t tell everything.
Maria Jenkins deposed — I live with my mother at the Dee. Asked prisoner on one occasion whether he would or would not live with his wife, and he said he would not, and that he would not have got the six months if it had not been for her. He also said in the course of some, conversation, “I will be hung for her yet: I’ll murder her. This was after the time she summoned him. Previous to his going down to his hut, as detailed by the previous witness, I asked him whether he was going to see his wife, and he answered, “No, I don’t think so — no.” I told prisoner that I had dreamed that he had murdered his wife, and he replied that he had, and smiled. Saw him again at my mother’s, when I asked him whether he was going to look for his wife, and he replied “No.” I said to him he ought to go, and he said there was nothing up with her. Told him if he had done anything the search party would dis-cover it. Was not examined by the coroner. Neylon first spoke to me about my examination. He said if I did not tell him, and speak the truth, I would get six months. I had a long talk with him about it, and he asked me a good many questions about it. I told him all I have told to-day, and all I have told is true.
Wm. Keats, jun., deposed — I was at prisoner’s hut on Sunday, the 6th April, about 12 o’clock in the day. The place was clean. The bed appeared to have been slept in. It had not been made. A fire had apparently been lit there that day. I did not see any sign of my sister. I saw a purse with some silver in it on the shelf. That was in the first room. I saw two hoods hanging up in one of the rooms. I made some enquiries about my sister, and on the 22nd April I became uneasy about her. I did not see Henry Stocks until after I had organised a search for my sister. On the 23rd I asked prisoner where my sister was, and he said he did not know. I asked him if he saw her on Sunday when he was down, and he said no. I asked him if he made a fire in the hut on the 6th April, and he answered in the negative. Prisoner said he saw her last in Hamilton. The nearest house to the hut is John Best’s. Cashion’s place is near Best’s. I am quite sure that I asked the prisoner if he had lighted the fire that morning, and he said he had not.
Joseph Stocks deposed — I went out with the search party. When Stocks arrived at the hut he said be put the bark into the fire place and burned it so as to show that he had been there. Stocks said he last saw his wife when she asked him if he was going to live at the valley. I was present when the remains were found. Henry Stocks was also present. I could not identify the remains. There was . nothing strange about Henry Stocks on the day the search was instituted. Prisoner was in the Search party on Friday, and also on Saturday. He did not turn up on Friday until about 12 o’clock, although he promised to be there at the start.
James Lane, farmer, Lane’s Tier, Hamilton, deposed — I formed one of the search party. The remains were found on the 26th April. The day before I had a little conversation with prisoner, and said to him: “Harry, this is a fearful affair;” and prisoner said, “I will have to suffer. The police will find her dead or her alive, and if she is found dead, I suppose I will have to swing. I will, perhaps, save some other poor being from being hung.” I was present when the remains were found. Stocks came up at the time, but made no remark.
Arthur Stannard deposed — I was at home on the 6th April. I was up at between 6 and 7 o’clock. I then heard two gun shots. They seemed to be far away. This was unusual on a Sunday morning. I spoke to my mother at the time about it. I never heard gun shots in that locality on Sunday before.
John Cashion, Sub-inspector of Police, stationed at Victoria Valley, said the fact of Mrs Stocks being missing was reported to me on the 23rd April. I was one of the search party, and found the remains. They were discovered about half a mile from the hut. I could not recognise the remains. They were those, however, of a female and a child. The body was lying face downwards. The body was in a decomposed state. One of the arms was eaten away by vermin. Only the bones were visible. The trunk of the body was eaten by maggots. Prisoner was one of the search party, and came running up after we found the body. I asked him what caused the hole in the skull of the child, and he said it was shot. I asked him if it was possible for his wife to get there, and he said he did not think so. It was a hard thing to get to the place where the bodies were found. When the body was found Stocks run away, and I called after him to come and identify it. Stocks joined us on Friday, and he then said that “if my wife is found dead I will have to swing for it.” After the body was found I went over to Big Marsh, and I asked prisoner if, on April the 6th he had his gun with him when he went to see his wife, and he said “No.” He also said he had no dogs with him. I found a gun in prisoner’s bedroom at Big Marshes. One barrel was loaded. There were about 20 people in the search party. The ground where the bodies were found was a kind of a hollow. Prisoner ran away when I called that the bodies were found. I believe that prisoner tried to shun the sight of the bodies. He ran past me, and did not like to seem to come near me. Prisoner was at first at the head of the search party. He, however, went away and seemed not to pay attention to what was said.
William Bannister, Native Tier, de posed — I was one of the search party. Stocks was near me. Stocks asked me if I smelt anything, and I said “Yes.” He then took some dogwood and rubbed it up in his fingers. I said that was not what I smelt, and prisoner then said “that is an old cow which is dead over there.” Some one then called out “Hullo,” and I ran up to the spot. The bodies had the same smell which I had noticed previously when with prisoner. I did not see prisoner run away.
Martin Neylon, Superintendent of Police, Hamilton, deposed — On Saturday, April 26, I proceeded to the Victoria Val-ley, Hamilton, and saw the remains of a woman and child. The remains were afterwards submitted to Dr. Huston for examination. I asked prisoner when he last saw his wife, and he said he had not seen her since the 26th of March. I then took him in charge for murdering his wife. I proceeded to Big Marsh, and found the gun. The left-hand barrel was loaded. I drew the charge and now produce it in court. The charge in the gun was similar to that in the shotbelt, namely, BB and No. 3. I afterwards received from Dr. Huston some other shot. I produce them. They are similar to that in the shotbelt, namely, the two sizes. On the 26th March I remember a conversation between Stocks and his wife. There was a maintenance case on, and I asked him to settle it out of Court, which prisoner agreed to. Prisoner said he could only come once a fortnight to see his wife, as the distance was too far from where he was working. I got Cashion to fire two shots from where the remains were found, while I was standing at Stannard’s. I could not hear the reports. I have been principally engaged in getting up the case for the Crown. I have never threatened witnesses. I had only difficulty with the Jenkins family in getting evidence against the prisoner. I did not threaten any of them with imprisonment.
Thomas Frodsham, district surveyor, deposed — I made a survey under the instructions of the Attorney-General of the distances and localities mentioned in the map produced. The map shows correctly the position of the various places. I was with Cashion when he fired two shots to test if they could be heard at Stannard’s. Soon afterwards I heard two shots fired from the direction of Stannard’s; the wind was blowing from Stannard’s, in the direction to where I was standing.
Dr. G. F. Huston said — I saw the bodies. The bodies were denuded of flesh. There was no fracture or positive mark of violence, but there was an indication of some injury. There was no scalp left, but there was some red matter. Otherwise there was no injury to the skull. From the examination I made I found shot holes in the clothes, under the right arm. A quantity of the ribs had been driven from one side to the other, and broken in three or four pieces. I searched under the decomposing matter, and found 13 shot within the space of 3in or 4in. These were as nearly as possible where the heart should be. I observed that the injury which I have referred to was a shot wound through the right side. On further examination I found two other marks which showed that some foreign substance had passed through. I saw a piece of skin which must have been charred and burned during life, and if a gun had been fired it must have been very close to the body. I am of opinion that two shots had been fired. The child’s skull had nine small holes in it, caused by several shots. I think the first shot must have been fired from the side, a little to the back of the female, and at a very short distance from the body. My opinion is that some of the shot drove through the ribs, and some entered the child’s head, and through the hat. The other shot must have been fired from a higher level, the muzzle of the gun having been depressed. The bodies must have been lying where found for about 3 weeks. The extravasation of blood would be caused more especially by a wound inside the scalp. It might have been produced by a knock with a gun or a fall, but under the circumstances there would have been an injury to the bones. I held the inquest at the Ouse. The bones were denuded of flesh; everything soft about the body was gone. The remains of the rib bones were left in the left cavity of the chest. The piece of skin of which I am speaking was red. It was the only piece of skin about the re-mains, and it was preserved owing to having been charred. It was red and brown in color. I believe that piece of skin was injured before death. The re-mains that I saw were preserved by the boots and stockings. The skull of the child may have been removed 20 yards away by wild animals, as well as the sub-stance of the body of the woman. The shot taken from the body were of two sizes.
Lucy Evans, wife of David Evans, deposed — I know prisoner and his family. I remember one night in March last going down to meet my husband at Jenkins’ house. I had a talk with one of the girls, and prisoner came in. Harry Stocks said, “I see that Mary has been speaking to you.” I said, “Yes, something about you and her going to bolt,” and continued, “What is to become of your wife,” and he said “I don’t mean to live with her anymore. I hate the b—– sight of her. I would not get into half the bother I do only for her tongue.” Prisoner then said “Have you seen Betsy lately?” — meaning his wife, and I said not. He said “I heard she was to pull me, but if she does I will make it warm for her.” This is the first time that I have given this evidence. Mary Jenkins, mother of a previous witness of the same name, said — I do not believe the last witness on her oath. I never heard prisoner quarrelling with his wife, and he appeared to be fond of the little boy. I heard the Superintendent of Police threaten that he would take my daughter to Hamilton.
This was all the evidence for the prosecution, and Mr Dobson said he had no witnesses to call for the defence. Mr Dobson proceeded to address the jury on behalf of the prisoner. There was no doubt, he said, that this unfortunate woman and her little one had met her death in a terrible and outrageous manner, and naturally there was a great deal of feeling against the one supposed to have committed the foul deed. He asked them to be entirely free from prejudice, because there was no doubt that a prisoner like his client was terribly handicapped, the mere fact of his apprehension on such a charge being sufficient for many people to think him guilty. A man who did such a deed must be a terrible human monster. He asked the jury to consider the nature of the evidence brought forward by the Attorney-General. He held that it was of a purely circumstantial character, and he reviewed the evidence in detail. Suspicion, he continued, might as well have been thrown upon the other man as upon the prisoner. No theory had been suggested as to how prisoner had so suddenly decoyed his wife and the child to this lonely spot upon this particular day. He quoted Taylor on circumstantial evidence to show that such evidence must be connected by degrees, and said that in the present case they had a pretty good exemplification of this writer’s ideas on the subject. If prisoner had committed this crime would he have stayed in Hamilton or in the colony? There was nothing done by him to try and hide the evidence of his now supposed guilt. The case seemed to be like a picture, the principal features of which were faintly sketched, and he did not see how they could convict, or hang any man on such evidence. He made an eloquent appeal for the prisoner, and referred to the many cases in which innocent men had been condemned on circumstantial evidence. It was their duty, if there was any reasonable doubt, to give the prisoner the benefit of that doubt.
The Chief Justice, in addressing the jury, said that he need not tell them that murder was the killing of a person with malice aforethought, and the first question for them to consider was whether the woman and child were murdered, and, secondly, whether prisoner had committed that murder. The evidence had not only to be consistent with the prisoner having committed the murder, but also inconsistent with any other reasonable conclusion. The bodies were found in a dense scrub, and medical evidence was given that shot was found in the bodies. What was the conclusion to be derived from this? There was a mystery as to how they got into this scrub. But they were found there dead, and the question came to be how did they come there? Were they carried there? or had they to walk before the muzzle of the gun, as many others have had to do in this colony in days gone by? The question reduced itself to whether these persons were murdered and whether prisoner committed the murder. His Honor went carefully through the evidence, and pointed out that one of the strongest features of the case against the prisoner was that shot of two sizes were found in the bodies, and that similar shot were found in accused’s shot belt, and in one of the barrels of his gun. The jury had carefully to consider the whole of the evidence, and the question he put to them was, whether the whole of the evidence was inconsistent with any other reasonable conclusion than that the prisoner took the life of that woman and child. It was a case of very great importance — it was a question of life and death to the prisoner. He asked them to care fully consider their verdict. The jury retired at 6.45. At 8 o’clock the jury were called in, aud they had not then agreed as to their verdict. As there seemed no possibility of their coming to a speedy conclusion, they were ordered to be locked up until next morning. On Wednesday morning His Honor asked the jury if they had agreed to a verdict. The foreman, Mr J. H. Propsting, said they had not, and he did not see any possibility of their agreeing. His Honor then discharged the jury, and the prisoner was remanded until next sitting of the Court.
24th September 1884
Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas. : 1883 – 1928), Wednesday 24 September 1884, page 3
CRIMINAL SITTINGS. FIRST COURT.
(Before His Honor Acting Chief Justice Dobson).
Henry Stocks was again placed at the bar charged with the murder of his wife and child. Mr R,. P. Adams, Solicitor-General, conducted the Crown prosecutions. Mr A. Dobson) appeared on behalf of the prisoner. The evidence was almost precisely that taken at the previous trial, except that Mr Ward (Government Analyst) had examined the shots and found that those from the body corresponded almost exactly with those from the gun and pouch. Three shots taken from the body, however, were much lower in weight, but they appeared to have been mutilated. No evidence was called for the defence. After an hour’s retirement, the jury returned and delivered a verdict of guilty. His Honor addressed a few words to the prisoner, holding out no hope of mercy, and then passed the formal sentence of death. The prisoner received ‘the sentence quietly, and in answer to the usual question whether he had anything to say why sentence should not be passed upon him, made no reply. The Court was crowded. During the hearing of the case Maria Jenkins, sister of the deceased took a fit, and had to removed from the Court.
24th September 1884 cont …
Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), Wednesday 24 September 1884, page 3
(Before the Acting CHIEF JUSTICE )
The Solicitor-GENERAL prosecuted on behalf of the Crown.
Henry Stock pleaded not guilty to a charge of having on April 6, at the Ouse, wilfully, and with malice aforethought, killed and murdered his wife The Hon. A. Dobson (instructed by Messrs. Young, Walker, and Allport) defended.
The case was heard at the last sessions, but the jury being unable to agree, a new trial now took place.
Jury: W. S. Firth, W. Bignell, J. Clark, J. F. Strutt, F. H. Belette, G. Parsons, T. Morresby, T. Cosgrove, A. Joseph, J. B. Chandler, T.Illes, G. Hooper.
Prisoner, a young man 22 years of age, was married rather more than two years ago to Elizabeth Keats, a young woman 19 years of age. Prior to the marriage the girl had a child, but her present husband was not its father. The couple did not appear to have lived very happily together, but when prisoner was discharged from the Hobart gaol in January, after having served a sentence for forgery, his wife went back to live with him. Differences seem again to have arisen, for on March 15 she applied to the Warden of the Hamilton municipality for a maintenance information. The summons was returnable on March 26, but although on that date both parties appeared, the difference was settled, and the case was not proceeded with. Prisoner consented to take the wife back, but objected to the child. On the Monday following the day on which the case was to have been heard, however, the wife with her child left her father’s home at Lowe’s Tier, and dressed in a green plaid dress with a common black hat on her head, and a bundle containing a change of clothing in her hand, set out for her husband’s hut. She was seen by a farmer named Harris, at the hut at Victoria Valley, on Friday, April 4, at 11 a.m. At the time she was chopping wood, and Harris entered into conversation with her. Both herself and the child seemed then to be in good health. On the following Sunday the deceased’s brother, a young man named Keats, called at the hut at about mid-day. The place was clean, and the bed appeared to have been slept in, but it had not then been made. A fire had apparently been lit that morning, but Keats could see no sign of his sister. Becoming uneasy, and being unable from enquiries he made to ascertain anything about her, he, on April 22, organised a search party. On the following day Keats asked the prisoner where his wife was, and he replied that he did not know, that he had not made the fire on April 6, and that he last saw her at Hamilton. A lad named Stannard heard two gunshots between 6 and 7 o’clock on the Sunday morning and it was so unusual an occurrence that he spoke to his mother at the time about it. During March and April prisoner had been working at a place known as the Big Marsh, and occupied a weatherboard house with a young man named Jenkins. On April 5 they went to Jenkins’ house at the Dee, and remained there for the night. When, however, Jenkins got up on the following morning the prisoner was missing, and Jenkins did not see him again until midday, when they met between the Duck Marsh and the Dee, on the road running between the marsh and Victoria Valley. Prisoner had a gun with him, but, on being questioned, he stated that he had not seen his wife. During the course of some further conversation he remarked that he had shot a rabbit, and asked Jenkins whether he had seen it. Jenkins replied that he had, and that it was about a mile away.
John Cashin, the Sub-Inspector of Police at Victoria Valley, and a member of the search party, to which reference has already been made, found the body on April 23, about half a mile from the hut. The remains were those of a woman and a child, but they were unrecognisable beyond that. The body was in a decomposed state, and was lying face downwards, while one of the arms and trunk of the body had been eaten by vermin. Prisoner was one of the party, and on a question being put to him after the body was discovered, he replied that it was shot which had caused the hole in the child’s skull. This particular spot was a dense scrub, and prisoner expressed the belief that he did not think it possible for his wife to get there. Prisoner further said that he had no gun when he went to see his wife on April 6, but the sub-inspector found in the prisoner’s bedroom at Big Marsh a gun, one barrel of which was loaded. He said, too, that he had not seen his wife since March 26. The superintendent of police at Hamilton, who arrested the prisoner, found on ex-amination that the left-hand barrel was loaded, and the charge was similar to that in the shot belt, viz., BB and No. 3. The remains of the body was examined by Dr. G. F. Huston and he found shot holes in the clothes under the right arm. Some of the ribs had been driven from one side to the other and broken in three or four pieces. He searched under the decomposing matter in the region of the chest, and found 13 shots within the space of 3in. or 4in. The child’s skull had nine small holes in it caused by several shots. The doctor’s opinion was that some of the shot drove through the ribs and some entered the child’s head and through the hat. An ex-amination was made of the shot by Mr. Ward, the Government analyst, who found that the average of the shot from the pouch and the gun agreed very closely, but three of the shot taken from the body were of much less weight, and appeared to have been mutilated. The remaining 10 of the shot from the body were within the extreme of those from the pouch. The shots from the gun were from 4gr. to 7gr. in weight, while those from the woman varied between 4gr. and 6gr. With regard to the decreased weight of three of the shot they were liable to lose weight through lying in decomposed matter, and from the friction arising from their being fired. Another witness was also called, and he said that he heard gun-shots, but he was almost positive that it was on April 13, and not on April 6. No evidence was called for the defence. Counsel having addressed the jury, His HONOR summed up, and pointed out the serious nature of the crime, and sketched in detail the nature of the evidence, and the peculiar circumstances by which the case was surrounded. The question the jury had to consider was whether there had been a murder, and whether that murder was com-mitted by the prisoner, and they had to con-sider not only whether the evidence was consistent with the prisoner’s guilt, but whether it was inconsistent with any other theory.
After an hour’s retirement, the jury returned a verdict of guilty.
When asked in the usual way whether he had anything to say why sentence should not be passed upon him, prisoner made no reply.
His HONOR then said: Prisoner at the bar, you have been found guilty by a jury of your countrymen of the terrible crime of murder, a verdict involving not only the murder of your wife, but of the little child as well. You have had a long and patient trial, and you have been ably defended by the counsel who has appeared for you, and now the jury, after bestowing every attention upon your case, have arrived at a conclusion which I, for my own part, can-not help thinking that the evidence war-rants. I don’t wish to dwell upon the circumstances of the case, or in any way to aggravate your position. I desire however — and I trust you will yourself — fully realise it without anything I can say to you. You yourself have shown no mercy to your own wife and child, and I am afraid that I can hold out to you no prospect of any mercy from an earthly judge, and I can only conjure you to make your peace with that heavenly judge before who you will have to appear. You will have an opportunity, how-ever, of being visited by a minister of religion. You will now be taken hence to the place whence you came, and taken thence to the place of execution, and you will be hanged by the neck until you be dead. And may God have mercy on your soul.
The prisoner was then removed.
The SOLICITOR-GENERAL said he would enter a nolle prosequi on the second indictment of the murder of the child.
The jurymen were then discharged, and the Court at 9.20 p.m., adjourned sine die.
2nd October 1884
Tasmanian News (Hobart, Tas. : 1883 – 1911), Thursday 2 October 1884, page 3
THE CASE OF HENRY STOCKS.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TASMANIAN NEWS
Sir, — There is one point in Stocks’s case which does not seem to me to have received sufficient attention at the hands of those who have decided that the law shall take its course, namely, the statement made by one of the witnesses, that during the time Stocks was in gaol his wife had been unfaithful to him, and that he (Stocks) had been made aware of this fact. God only knows what may have grown out of this knowledge working upon a jealous disposition. I do not for one moment say that the belief that she had been unfaithful to him would justify Stocks in murdering his wife (if he did the deed ); but there are circumstances which create a very wide distinction, even in cases of murder; and I think that this is one of those cases in which the Executive should hesitate before carrying out the extreme penalty which the law can inflict.
6th October 1884
Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), Monday 6 October 1884, page 3
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
SIR, — I am glad to notice that an effort is being made to induce the Executive to com-mute the sentence of death passed upon Henry Stock. I have had some experience of criminal cases in other countries, and have no hesitation in saying, that the present is not a case in which the extreme penalty of the law should be carried out. Yours etc.,
SIR, — Letters have been written about the demeanour of the condemned man, Henry Stock, from the time of his first apprehension, for causing the death of his wife and her child. Perhaps he being a man of strong will, secrecy and determination is well able to keep up the same appearance under great trial, and even smile to throw ordinary seers off their guard, and let his friends know, even if he died on the gallows, that he would not break down. Sit-ting near the prisoner Stock while the Chief Justice Dobson summed up the case, and directed the jury on that trial (I noticed prisoner Stock’s features the whole time), his attention was riveted on the Judge at that time, and when His Honor spoke of the woman being carried by some one or driven at the point of the gun to the spot in the rough bush, where shot and found, and also about the manner of how the woman and child where shot, and the motive for so doing, persistently Stock’s eyes watered with a pained expression in the face for a moment only, wanting in pity and sympathy, and the whole time after that till the Judge gave his final directions to the jury Stock had all he could do to contain himself: his throat was constantly gurgling as one who had lost all heart and felt his position. Should Stock be pardoned it will be a license to kill with fire-arms, and keep quiet, get a slight sentence, and be set at large again to be a hero. D. K.
SIR, — I think the members of the Executive ought to know that there is a feeling in the minds of many that there is a prejudice against the unfortunate man Stock, because he belongs, to what is called, a “bad lot.” Therefore, his case will receive little sympathy when it is again taken into consideration.
To my mind the unfavourable circum-stances which have always surrounded him, and the extenuating circumstances which have undoubtedly been brought out in this case, form, in themselves, good and sufficient reasons why a commutation should be granted when the Executive meets this morning. — Yours, etc.,
11th October 1884
Tasmanian News (Hobart, Tas. : 1883 – 1911), Saturday 11 October 1884, page 3
T H E M U R D E R E R S T O C K S.
At a meeting of the Executive Council held yesterday, it was decided to let the law take its course in the case of Henry Stocks, who was convicted of murder at the last sittings of the Supreme Court. Stocks was informed of the decision of the final Executive Council by Mr John Swan, Sheriff, yesterday, when he appeared to be somewhat affected. He is still quiet and respectful to the gaol officials and his warders. He also pays great attention to his spiritual adviser, the Rev. G . W . Shoobridge, who visits him regularly .
Stocks takes his meals and sleeps the same as he did before his trial.
On Thursday, he was visited by His Lordship the Bishop of Tasmania, who stayed with him some time. This morning, arrangements were being made for the execution, which takes place at 8 a.m. on Monday.
13th October 1884
Tasmanian News (Hobart, Tas. : 1883 – 1911), Monday 13 October 1884, page 3
THE OUSE MURDER
Execution of the Murderer.
He Protests his Innocence.
The last dread penalty of the law was exacted this morning, and Henry Stocks has passed from the judgement of man to a tribunal that is unaffected by the controversies of time, or the contrarieties of human opinions. The execution of the Ouse murderer took place at 8 a.m. today in the presence of Mr P. S. Seager, Deputy Sheriff; Mr H. G. Quodling, Governor of the Gaol; Mr E. O. Hedberg, Sub Inspector of Territorial Police; Mr J.T. Smith, Under Gaoler, and other members of the constabulary. There were also present the Revs Geo. W. Shoobridge (Chaplain of the Gaol), and T. M . O’Callaghan, as well as members of the Press, and two private individuals.
Punctually at 8 a.m.-, those mentioned above proceeded from the prison yard to the condemned cell, where the Rev. Geo. W. Shoobridge was found busily engaged ministering to the prisoner, who appeared to be listening very attentively. In answer to a question put to him by Mr Seager, as to whether he had anything to say, he replied, “ All I have to say is that I am innocent.” Upon being asked whether he had any message he would like taken to anybody, he replied in the negative. Stocks was then pinioned by Solomon Blay, the hangman, and he followed Mr Shoobridge to the drop. The Rev. gentleman very impressively read the usual prayers, and Stocks listened reverently. The condemned man appeared to be somewhat faint and his face had a ghastly appearance, being deadly pale, but his step was firm, and he walked on to the platform bravely, and exhibited no signs of breaking down. In his right hand the unfortunate man carried a pretty little bunch of flowers, to which was affixed a small scriptural text, bearing the following:—“ He shall speak peace unto the heathen,” which was sent to him by Miss M. Smith, daughter of the Under Gaoler. On mounting the platform, Stocks gave a hurried glance round at those assembled, and at the paraphernalia, which was to cause his death. Almost immediately the hang-man approached him, and placed the rope round the neck of the prisoner, who started visibly, as the fatal noose came into contact, with his flesh. The white cap was then, placed over his head, the Rev. Mr Shoobridge continuously offering up prayer for the unfortunate man, who, however, uttered no response.
At 8:8 am. the fatal bolt was drawn, there was a heavy grinding sound of the platform falling, the body shot from the gaze of the spectators, there was a sickening thud, which proclaimed that the rope had done its terrible work, and all that now remained of Henry Stocks was a quivering mass of flesh and bone, his body was dead, and his soul had winged its way. Henry Stocks had paid, the awful penalty and had solved the great mystery, for “death had told him more than the melancholy world doth know-things deeper than all lore.”
Ever since his incarceration Stocks has maintained the same solid, quiet demeanour and attitude of indifference—with one exception, viz., when he was visited by his parents and brother. From first to last he made no admission of his guilt. His manner towards his gaolers was invariably respectful and reserved. Last night his sleep appeared to be frequently broken and several half hours he whiled away by singing snatches of hymns. He ate his meals heartily yesterday, and observed to his warder that he meant to take a good breakfast this morning, so as not to go to the scaffold empty. This determination he carried out by partaking of a good repast prior to the final event.
The body was cut down shortly after 9 a.m., when Dr. Turnley examined it, and pronounced life to be extinct. A further examination disclosed that there had been no dislocation of the vertebrae. The time that elapsed between the drawing of the bolt and the cessation of muscular action was exactly three minutes. The remains of the unfortunate were conveyed to the Cornelian Bay Cemetery at 11 a.m. where they were interred, the Rev. A. Martin, curate of Holy Trinity Church, conducting service at the grave.
By permission of the authorities, Mr A. J . Taylor took a caste of Stocks’ head after death, and will probably, at an early date, furnish the Press with a phrenological delineation. During the execution all labour was suspended in the penal establishment and the Rev. A. Martin held a solemn service amongst the prisoners. The deceased criminal whilst confined within the prison walls, was daily attended by the Rev. G. W. Shoobridge, the rev. gentleman visiting him last night at 8:15 p.m., and staying until 10 o’clock, and was again in attendance at 7 a.m. today, earnestly ministering the consolations of religion according to the rites of the Anglican Church to which denomination prisoner, professed allegiance.
It is worthy of remark that Stocks occupied a portion of his time whilst in durance by writing various sentences and sentiments, more or less coherent, upon the walls of his cell. Amongst others, the following have been deciphered:- “All young men that don’t wount to die just take a warning by me, don’t be led astray by women, for they will ruin you forever.” —“ Introductory note to Morning Prayer, Our Father’’—”October 12, 1884! —Henry Stocks last day in his cell, and God keep all men out of it; but I hope that them – girls will be in here before long ; so good-bye, all my kind friends and God bless you for ever.” The names of a family were inscribed on the wall with their ages. There were also some drawings of ships, etc., as well; as some other writings which were illegible.
Counts of murder, TASSC
This visualisation shows twelve verdicts of guilty of murders committed by males between 1852 and 1891, sentenced in the Supreme Court of Tasmania. The dates were chosen to reflect the life term of Constable John Nevin (1852-1891) who witnessed several executions at the Hobart Gaol before his own death from typhoid in 1891.
The Prosecution Project, Trial Statistics, Griffith University (Qld)
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