Thursday, April 2, 2009

More on Lewis the Hangman

Jayne has offered to keep an eye on any Aussie records which might pop up on our Mr. Henry Howard Heyman/Lewis (thanks again, Jayne!). I thought I'd see if I could wring any more info from Papers Past on him myself.

Seems that in June 1882 (after the James Walsh execution of 1879, the Ah Lee execution of 1880 of the Wiremu Hiroki execution of 8 June 1882), Lewis and another bloke named John Murphy were arrested around 26 June "for forging and uttering cheques in the name of Alfred Buckland", here in Auckland. (Wanganui Herald, 27 June 1882) Egad. Of all the people they could have chosen to forge the signature of, they had to choose Alfred Buckland? Up until the Long Depression, he was one of the most successful and influential merchants in Auckland. By early July, Lewis had been committed for trial, while the charges against Murpy were withdrawn. (Bay of Plenty Times, 5 July 1882) He was sentenced to three years in gaol a week later. (Bay of Plenty Times, 12 July 1882) It must have been frustrating, then, for Buckland to have seen the culprit have his sentence quashed, so he could continue his hangman's trade for the Winiata execution the following month.

"Lewis, in for forgery, who "worked off" Hiroki, was selected to perform the same kind offices for Winiata." (Observer, 5 August 1882)

Back to the James Walsh execution, the Invercargill Southland Times described it:

"At a given signal from the Sheriff, the hangman, who had stationed himself at the rear of the gallows, drew out the bolt while yet the words of the priest sounded clearly in the solemn stillness of the scene. The next moment all was over. Walsh had paid the earthly penalty of his crime. Death must have been instantaneous, and unconsciousness quite so, as there was a drop of some seven feet, and the hangman took care that his work should be completed effectually by immediately adding his own weight to that of the suspended body. "

1 comment:

  1. Ooooo, Lewis' conviction being quashed would have like salt in a wound!