Spotlight: The Execution Of The Clarke Brothers As It Was Reported

Mount Alexander Mail (Vic. : 1854 – 1917), Wednesday 26 June 1867, page 3


LATEST INTELLIGENCE

[PER GREVILLE AND CO., REUTER’S AGENTS.]

(BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH. )

Sydney, June 25.

The convicted bushrangers, Thomas and John Clarke were executed at 9 o’clock this morning. The scaffold was erected in the yard of Darlinghurst Gaol. There were only about the usual number of officials and spectators present, and nothing special marked the ceremony.

The men bad been most assiduously attended by their spiritual advisers, and a subdued and quiet manner, with expressions of penitence for their crimes, marked their last moments. In both instances death was almost instantaneous on the fall of the drop. Their relatives and friends were in attendance, and (having previously obtained permission from the authorities) their bodies have since been removed for interment.


Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 – 1939), Saturday 6 July 1867, page 9


EXECUTION OF THE BROTHERS CLARKE.

THOMAS and JOHN CLARKE were executed together within the precincts of Darlinghurst Gaol, on Tuesday, June 25, a few minutes past 9 o’clock, in the presence of about one hundred and seventy spectators, and a large detachment of city police. The execution was conducted in a very prompt and brief manner. The procession was formed exactly at 9 o’clock. Thomas Clarke was accompanied by the Rev. Father John Dwyer, and John Clarke by the Rev. Father O’Farrell. The prayers said by the clergymen were in a low tone. Both prisoners walked with their heads bowed down, and with their eyes partially closed. They looked very careworn and much dejected. They paid no attention to the presence of so many spectators, upon whom they did not so much as cast one look. Their minds seemed to be fully absorbed in meditation and prayer. On arriving at the foot of the gallows they both knelt briefly in prayer. The Rev. Father Dwyer then proceeded up the ladder to the scaffold, followed by Thomas and John Clarke, and the Rev. Father O’Farrell. The prisoners, especially John, manifested slight trepidation. John was placed to the left of his brother. When the rope was adjusted on John’s neck he looked momentarily at his brother, whose eyes remained closed. The rope was then adjusted round Thomas’ neck. A few more prayers — very brief, were said, when the Rev. Father Dwyer took Thomas’ left and John’s right hand, bid them farewell, and left them. The Rev. Father O’Farrell held the cross to each of their lips, and both kissed it—their eyes being closed. Both clergymen having departed, the hangman placed a white cap over each of the culprits’ faces, and drew the bolt. Both fell suddenly to a depth of nine feet — their necks were dislocated — and they died instantly without a struggle, and without any perceptible muscular spasm.

Drs. Aaron and Evans, and a surgeon from one of Her Majesty’s vessels, after the bodies had been suspended for about twenty minutes, pronounced life to be extinct; they were taken down, placed in shells, and given over to their sisters for interment.

Since their conviction they had been attended upon unremittingly by the Sisters of Mercy, by the Rev. Father Dwyer and Father O’Farrell; very early yesterday morning by the Rev. Prior Sheridan; and their demeanor throughout was apparently most penitent.

On Monday afternoon they were visited for the last time by their two sisters. Tears on both sides flowed thick and fast. The parting scene was affectionate and distressing. The prisoners, however, soon regained their composure. The authorities also allowed them to be visited by their uncle, Michael Nowlan O’Con-nell, who is now awaiting trial for being accessory to the murder of Carroll and party at Jinden, and also for harboring tho outlaw Thomas Clarke — now no more. The parting scene was here also of a very sad description.

There are some facts in connection with these two executed criminals deserving of notice. It is well known that their solicitor, Mr. Joseph Leary, spared no personal effort in defending them, and in endeavoring to procure a mitigation of their sentence. He procured two very eminent counsel at their trial; and when sentence was passed, moved the full Court in arrest of judgment. Failing in this he went personally on Thursday and had an interview with the Governor, in the presence of His Excellency’s private secretary, and pleaded ably for mercy, especially for John Clarke. Feeling that it would be necessary to submit his case in writing he drew up an elaborate statement, which His Excellency placed specially before the Executive Council on Monday. There was a full meeting of the Council — the further report of the Chief Justice, and the opinion of the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General being considered with Mr. Leary’s statement. The result of a most anxious deliberation, however, was that the two criminals should be left to their fate.

When this decision had been arrived at and communicated to the prisoners, on Monday evening, they were visited for the last time by Mr. Leary. After some conversation, Thomas Clarke said, ” We should like to make a statement to you.” Mr. Leary replied, “It is useless now for you to make any statement to me; I have done all I can; you have but a few hours to live ; direct your thoughts to One who is just, and before whom you have soon to appear ; that is now my advice.” Thomas Clarke said, ” We have given up all hope, and are prepared to die ; but, for myself, I wish to declare solemnly that I am innocent of murdering either Carroll or his party.” Mr. Leary said, “Don’t tell me anything more about it.” John Clarke said, ” I can solemnly assure you that I am also innocent of murdering either one or the other of those detectives.” Thomas Clarke said, “You know, sir, we have written to the Colonial Secretary, and told him we were innocent of murdering Carroll’s party, and we told him we could prove that at the time they were murdered we were forty miles away from the place; we told him that Mrs. St. Germains, her daughter, her son-in-law (who had been a member of the police force some time since), and another person whom we named, could prove that at the time the detectives were murdered we were at her place. Mrs. St. Germains said to me, a few days after the report of the murder, ‘Well, Tom, they accuse you of a great many crimes, but they cannot say you murdered the detectives.’ These four people are in a position to prove that they saw us during the day, and at the hour, forty miles from the scene of the murder.” They then, in bidding adieu to Mr. Leary, warmly thanked him for the pains he had taken, and requested that he would be so good as to convey certain words to their mother, and that he would strongly advise their sisters and other relatives in the Braidwood district to lead an honest and a good life.

It will be difficult for the public to disbelieve that the Clarkes murdered Carroll and his party; but as they both, almost at the last moment, when there was no chance of a reprieve, voluntarily and persistently protested their innocence of these foul murders, it is but right that it should be recorded. They made no public confession of other crimes. — Empire.

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