Gentlemen, I never was a coward, and I feel nothing out the meanness of convicting myself in the judgment of the public by any such an act as that. When I die I will not die by my own hands, but will die as a man and as a Christian; and to have done such a thing as that would have been signing my own death-warrant. I see that as the case has been laid before you, the evidence is calculated to convict me. But can you not see the motive and spirit of that case? On the other hand, can you not see the motive of the case which I wish to prove to you by the evidence which I would lay before you in my favour, if I had the liberty to do it. If you can question the motive of a man who would call on the men hired to shoot him to death, on other men who saw all, and have no motive to speak in his favour but only the motive of speaking the truth, and on others who are also the men to stand their trial for the same crime I have done. I must submit to die, and I shall be happy to leave a life where no justice can be done to me. Continue reading Spotlight: Melville’s Defence and Charges Against the Convict Superintendent (1857)
The former Burmese cargo ship Success was converted into a floating prison in the 1850s as the influx of immigrants seeking their fortunes on the goldfields caused the crime rates to explode. As a result, to alleviate the overcrowding of the prisons, the government purchased a set of abandoned ships (Success, Deborah, Lysander, President and Sacramento) and had them fitted out with cells.
The Success was the only one kept intact when the ships were decommissioned. Continue reading Spotlight: The Floating Museum
Francis MacNeiss McNeil McCallum, better known as Captain Melville, is one of Australia’s most intriguing bushrangers. He at once bears the tropes of the traditional bushranger – a charming, adventurous highwayman and escapologist with a flair for drama – while … Continue reading Captain Melville: an overview
[This report of the trial of one of the most infamous bushrangers of the 1850s, Francis McCallum aka Captain Melville, gives a brief run down of the charge and the trial. McCallum was a Scottish convict who used a myriad … Continue reading Spotlight: The Trial of Captain Melville
No examination of Victoria’s penal system is complete without mention of the prison ships that were on use at Point Gellibrand in Williamstown through the 1850s and 1860s. The most renowned of these craft was Success, which toured the world … Continue reading Hell on High Water: Victoria’s Floating Prisons