Tuesday, January 4, 2011

More hangman's tales

Further to these previous posts:
Lewis the Hangman
Other NZ executioners


Henry Hislop
Asserted that he executed Wiremu Hiroki (Taranaki) 8 June 1882, although this has been attributed to Heyman/Lewis (see above)

Hiroki, who was condemned to death on the 4th May last for the wilful murder of John McLean on the Momahaki, was executed this morning at the New Plymouth gaol …Hiroki ascended the scaffold with a firm step, and, although his countenance was pallid, he betrayed no other sign of emotion. He stepped forward to the spot indicated by the executioner, and stood firmly. Archdeacon Govett commenced the bural service in the Maori language, reading it in a very impressive manner. He paused for a short time while the executioner put the rope and the cap over Hiroki's head. When everything was adjusted, the Arcdeacon continued the service. Before the last words were uttered, the drop fell, and Hiroki disappeared from sight. It was done so suddenly that no one heard anything to denote that the last moment had arrived. There was no pause, and the service seemed scarcely completed when Hiroki fell. Hiroki scarcely moved a muscle during the time he stood on the scaffold after everything had been arranged by the executioner, nor did he utter a word. Not the least hitch occurred in connection with the apparatus, and in an instant Hiroki was no more. The persons on the scaffold descended, and, after waiting for a few minutes, the spectators withdrew. The gallows was erected under the superintendence of Mr. Micaiah Read, gaoler, of Wellington, and every care was taken by him to prevent any mishap occurring.

(Taranaki Herald, 8 June 1882)

A BALD-HEADED BRUTE.
Boasts He's a Hangman.
A disgusting old brute named Henry Hislop, whose partially-bald pate offended the eye like a half-munched field turnip showing signs of decay, broke out of Christchurch Samaritan Home recently and allowed his filthy tongue to earn him a period in gaol. The grey-whiskered re-probate got into an argument with another ancient named Halliburton, in Manchester-street, arid called him by a horribly obscene name, so that the police Intervened, and discovering a bunch of keys belonging to the Home on his person, added a charge of theft in the Magistrate's Court next morning.

Asked how he pleaded, Hislop remarked, "Kahore moia te korero Maori eakiwhai," or words to that effect. "I don't wish to implicate anybody;" he said, condescendingly. "I was chucked out of the Home because I hung Hiroki in the Taranaki gaol in 1861 [sic]." Old Halliburton testified that Hislop had called him a "dirty old blankard and "a blanky old blankard," and it wasn't true that he, Halliburton, had hurled a stone at his slanderer.

The cross-examination led to an altercation.
"WHAT HELL DID YOU COME OUT OF?"
asked the unpleasant accused, to which Halliburton replied that he would have none of Hislop 's damned cheek. Religious persons in the Court were horrified at the proceedings, which were presided over by a trio of JPs.

"I'm a hangman, anyway," pursued Hislop, addressing no one in particular. "I'll hang you," he asserted, eyeing Halliburton with ferocity. "I'll give you a good drop," he added magnanimously.

Attendant Roache, of the Samaritan Home, stated that Hislop wasn't kicked out of the Home, as has been alleged by him; moreover, his ordinary demeanour was nothing like his conduct in Court, which looked like simulated lunacy. He identified the keys as belonging to the Home.

Hislop hurled brutally obscene suggestions at this witness, and hinted about the receipt of an extra pound of tobacco in return for an unmentionable consideration. "What about the red-haired matron?" he asked. He also spoke darkly of indecent practices in the Home, and the obscenities issued from his mouth like bloated maggots from the orifice of a month-old corpse. Two months for obscene language and a month for theft (concurrent) were the sentences. Verily, the pressman sees the seamy side of life.

(NZ Truth 1 August 1908)

"Pinching" a Paper. — Henry Hislop was charged with having stolen a newspaper, the property of the Samaritan Home trustees. The officers at the Home for some days, according to the police, had not been receiving the morning newspaper that was regularly left by the paper-runner. Early this morning Constable Jackson concealed himself in the grounds of the Home and caught Hislop in the act of taking the paper. Hislop denied his guilt, but the Magistrate upheld the prosecution and the accused was convicted and discharged.

(Christchurch Star, 26 October 1908)
Vagrancy. — Henry Hislop was nominally sentenced to three months' imprisonment on a charge of having no lawful means of support, the Magistrate suspending the warrant if the accused remained in the Samaritan Homo for that time.

(Christchurch Star, 19 November 1908)


Tom Long
Executed: William Henry Woodgate (Picton) 25 January 1877
(initially as “An unknown swagman”, but his identity revealed in 1901)
Possibly executed: Makoare Wata (Napier) 28 September 1889
Possibly executed: Alexander James Scott (Auckland) 22 May 1893
Executed: Minnie Dean (Invercargill) 12 August 1895
Possibly executed: Etienne Brocher (Wellington) 21 April 1897
Possibly executed: William Sheehan (Lyttleton) 21 July 1897
Executed: Frank Philpott (Wellington) 23 March 1898
Possibly executed: Charles Clements (Dunedin) 12 April 1898
Possibly executed: Enoka (New Plymouth) 2 May 1898
Executed: Alexander McLean (Lyttleton) 31 August 1901
Executed: James Ellis (Wellington) 28 February 1905

Tom Long, appearing virtually from nowhere as a travelling swagman with experience of using the noose in India, became the late 19th and early 20th century’s most well-known hangman in New Zealand, rivalling Hayman/Lewis.

Nowadays, the hangman selected generally, and wisely so, hides his light under a bushel, but it was not so in the old days. In the eighties and nineties, when old Tom Long used to give condemned murderers the official despatch, he didn't mind a little publicity. Long was an Indian mutiny veteran, v/ho, when not engaged m a hanging capacity, used to live with the Maoris up the Wanganui River. He was a. bit of a character and would be described nowadays, as a hard case … Long met his death in a bush accident, by a tree falling on him. Although he can be said to have "died in harness," so far as his little job of official hangman is concerned, it is a fact that his whims and caprices were getting him in bad odour with the authorities. It appears that he had come to regard himself as a specialist in his gruesome profession, and began to give himself airs. It is on record that on the morning of one of the last executions at which he officiated, he nearly upset the arrangements by demanding that he be paid his £25 fee immediately after the hanging. In vain it was explained by the sheriff that a voucher would have to be sent to Wellington and put through the usual channel. Long would have no red tape or Government circumlocution. It was a case of "cash down or no hanging," and in despair the sheriff appeased Long by paying the amount out of his own pocket and recovering it from the Government later. Many other curious matters could be written about the subject of hangmen and hangings, but the exigencies of space will not permit.

(NZ Truth 26 June 1920)


Execution of William Woodgate:
In this instance, one Sam Chandler, who had been chosen as the executioner, was run out of town before the first scheduled day of execution. The authorities tried obtaining someone else from Wellington, tying up the telegraph line until midnight, by one report.

Finally, they found a replacement.
“We shall not say how or by what means a person was discovered who was willing to take the place vacated by one who undoubtedly undertook to do the duty. Suffice it to say that the police or somebody did discover such a person, and that in the early morning the Sheriff, accompanied by the Inspector of Police, drove through again to Picton …

“At 7.15 a.m. the Hinemoa arrived from Wellington being manned with Armed Constabulary, and bringing Detective Farrell and the man alluded to. But we are given to understand that the Captain ranks as Inspector the Chief mate as Sub-Inspector, and all the men as privates in the Armed Constabulary force. These escorted the Detective and his travelling companion to the gaol, and back again. There was considerable speculation in Picton as to who the gentleman was who performed the loathsome duty, and it was confidently asserted that he had come from Nelson, but we have reason to believe that he was a swagsman, who came into Blenheim on Wednesday from the southward, and offered his services, which were accepted as before recorded. He stated that he had been in the navy as a seaman, and boasted of having served as an artilleryman at the time of the Indian Mutiny, when he "slung them up in dozens." Soon after 10 a.m., the gaoler let him out at the back of the gaol, and he succeeded by making his way quietly and quite unobserved along the line, in getting down to the Hinemoa at the wharf, which steamed away at once as soon as he came aboard, arid before the Pictonians were aware of the circumstance.”
(Marlborough Express, 27 January 1877)

It was in 1877 that Long made his debut as a hangman in this colony. In that year, Woodgate was under sentence of death at Blenheim, and great difficulty was experienced an finding a man to undertake the execution. Detective O'Farrell, of Wellington, was entrusted with the task of finding a hangman. However, the night before the execution was to take place, no word having been received at Blenheim, from Wellington, the sheriff became very anxious, and as he knew that the steamer from the Empire City could not reach Picton before the time fixed for the execution, he began to look out for a substitute. Just at this time, Long, who had been in Blenheim looking for work, presented himself at the gaol and announcing that he had had considerable experience with executions in India, applied for the job of hanging Woodgate. His services were at once accepted, and at 8 o’clock the following morning successfully carred out the task he had undertaken. A couple of hours later Detective O'Farrell arrived from Wellington with the man he had secured for the work, only to find that the execution had been carried out, and the inquest held.

(Christchurch Star, 28 August 1901)


Execution of Minnie Dean

The Hangman.— Thus the Auckland Observer : — Tom Long, or " Long Tom," the executioner, has returned North after his recent trip to Invercargill, by the Manapouri. Although a Government official, Thomas modestly travelled steerage. He had to put up with a good deal of chaff from his fellow passengers. "You may chaff," he told them, "but it isn't everybody who can make £25 in five minutes." He referred with professional pride to the hanging of Mrs Dean as "a beautiful job." Tom's face is full of contrasts. His nose is a fiery red, reminding one of the tail lights on a guard's van, while his moustache is as white as milk.
(Marlborough Express, 16 September 1895)

On August 12, 1895, at Invercargill, Minnie Dean, the notorious baby farmer, was hung, she being the only woman in the history of New Zealand to suffer capital punishment, and Tom Long was engaged to carry out the grisly task. Feeling ran high in the country as to the propriety of hanging a woman, but every channel of reprieve had failed — even that common circumstance of civilised law which refuses to put to death a creature who in dying would not die alone, who bears within a second principle of "life." Minnie Dean's only hope was if she could plead she was "quick with child," and this she could not do.

It was deemed advisable by the authorities to take certain precautions in regard to Long, the hangman, and he was smuggled into Invercargill gaol a week before the date fixed for the hanging, and kept there. Everything seemed to be going on all right. Long, by reason of his enforced incarceration, had been kept strictly sober, but on the fatal morning of August 12, when the head warder knocked Long up at an early hour, and reminded him that the time had arrived for him to enter the condemned cell and perform the awful preliminaries, Tom went on strike. The head gaoler was promptly communicated with and an attempt was made to cajole Long into keeping the terms of his contract with the State. At last they found a weak spot in the recalcitrant hangman's armour and he announced that he would "carry on," providing he was allowed to settle as much whisky as he felt constrained to drink.

It was then discovered to the gaoler's horror that there wasn't a "spot" of whisky in the prison, and the predicament was explained to the hang-fire hangman. Tom, with a sly look at the gaoler and sheriff, folded his arms and said,
"NO WHISKY, NO HANGING."
The gaoler then recollected that a bottle of brandy, which was kept for medicinal purposes, was on the premises, and he suggested to Thomas the obdurate, that perhaps brandy would fill the bill. "Very well, bring out your brandy," said Long . When it arrived, he helped himself to a "long beer" glass full of raw spirit. This he gulped down, smacked his lips, and, turning to the sheriff, said, "Now, if you like, I will hang twenty women."

The execution of Minnie Dean then proceeded without further hitch, but it is worthy of note that when the unfortunate, standing on the fatal trapdoor which was so soon to open under her and hurl her to her doom, said good-bye to the officiating clergyman and prison officials, Long stepped forward and said to her, "Won't you shake hands with me, ma'am? I am the hangman, ma'am. I am only doing my duty!" The woman took the hangman's hand in hers and pressed it. Then a short minute later, as she uttered the words, "O, God, let me not suffer," the self-same hand she had clasped in forgiveness withdrew the bolt, which launched her into the unknown.

After it was all over, the police smuggled Tom Long aboard a north-going train, but it hadn't stopped at many wayside stations before Long the hangman was very drunk. During the rest of the journey north he promenaded the train selling souvenirs of the woman he had just hanged, in the shape of her alleged shoes. By the number of old shoes Long produced it would appear that the deceased woman either had a very extensive wardrobe, or that Long's souvenirs were spurious.

(NZ Truth 26 June 1920)

Execution of Frank Philpott

Frank Philpott, alias Stanhope, was hanged at the Terrace gaol at 8 o'clock this morning, for the murder of his mate, Ernest Alfred Hawthorn, at Silverstream, on September the 7th last … Tom Long, the executioner, then arranged the rope, and Philpott stood firm. There was a slight increase of color in his face, and it was evident he keenly realised his position, but he showed no signs of breaking down and met his fate manfully. The executioner, curiously, forgot to draw on his cap till reminded by the gaoler, and as he stepped forward to do so, Philpott closed his eyes. When the drop fell death was instantaneous.

(Marlborough Express 23 March 1898)

Execution of Alexander McLean

As soon as it was known that the Cabinet had decided that the sentence was not to be interfered with, the officials put themselves in communication with Tom Long, who for many years has acted as common executioner for New Zealand. He was found working in the country a few miles from Wanganui, and was sent down to Wellington, where an official was to meet him at the train. Long, however, got off the carriage on the opposite side of the station, and eluding the vigilance of the officer,-got away into the town. The officials were in a dilemma, as although they were assured that he had been seen on the train, they were afraid that he had either fallen off the carriage or had got off at a wayside station. As it had been arranged that he should go south the same night with the gallows which was already on board the steamer, they were placed in a very awkward fix. However, later in the evening, Long was discovered in the town by a policeman, and was escorted on board the Tarawera just before she sailed. It had been rumoured in Lyttelton that Long was on board the Tarawera, and as the passengers left the boat on her arrival yesterday morning, they were keenly scrutinised by a knot of persons who had gathered on the wharf, anxious to get a glimpse of the hangman. Several of the passengers were pointed out as being very likely-looking specimens, and one or two of the onlookers persisted in recognising a Government official in quite another department as the man they were looking for. Only very few persons suspected that the undersized, gray-haired man who walked with a decided limp, was the executioner. Such, however, proved to be the case, and it was not until he had disappeared within the stone-walls of Lyttelton gaol that many believed that they had actually beheld the object of their search. Long has now had some little experience, having carried out the dread sentence on seventeen murderers in different parts of the colony.

(NZ Truth 26 June 1920)


Steven John Smart
Executed: Tahi Kaka (Auckland) 21 June 1911

Tom Long's successor was a young married man, whose name was officially given as Sharp [sic]. He was one of thirteen applicants. I am under the impression that, realising the stigma he was placing on his four children by doing such work he gave up the position. Therefore, I refrain from publishing his proper name now. He was a bricklayer employed by the Wellington City Council at the time, and when his work-mates found out that he had officiated as hangman they resented working any longer with him. It transpired that he had invented an excuse to obtain leave of absence from the corporation; stating that he desired to visit a dying uncle at New Plymouth, whereas he had really gone to Auckland to quietly earn the fee of £25 for hanging the Maori. He was discharged from the Council employ, not for hanging a man, but for having obtained leave of absence by telling a falsehood. Although the father of four children he was probably not over 27 years of age. He was rather undersized, not over 5ft. 7in., weighing about 9st. His left forearm was tattoed down on to the back of his hand, depicting a rather artistic figure of a girl in the nude. Probably he had been in the navy, too. When asked why he had applied for the hangman's job, he said, "Oh, I thought it was an easy way of making twenty-five quid." He had applied for a similar position in Sydney. So, it would appear that there was more about it than the fee to fascinate him. There's no accounting for tastes.

(NZ Truth 17 July 1920)


Unknown farmer
Executed: Alfred Mortram Biddle (Lyttleton) 13 December 1913
Executed: Arthur Rottman (Wellington) 18 March 1915
Executed: Frank Edward Bennier (Wellington) 19 January 1918
Executed: Dennis Gunn (Auckland) 22 June 1920

I am not aware of the identity of the man who hanged Dennis Gunn, but I understand he also dispatched four other men — Biddle (Canterbury), Rottman (Wellington), Bennier (Wellington) and Eggers (Canterbury). He is a farmer, working his own property, arid probably finds the occasional fee of £25 handy to pay off the mortgage or for some other purpose.

(NZ Truth 17 July 1920)

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