Margaret Coghlan - Hanged on the 18th of February 1862
At 10.15pm on Sunday, the 5th January 1862, Margaret Coghlan was seen outside the gate of her house, having been shut out by her husband. Constable Waller of the City Police, persuaded John Coghlan to let her back in. She had been drinking. An hour later, John Coghlan was also seen to be drunk. At about 1.00am on the 6th January, Constable Waller saw Margaret outside the house again and she said she was waiting for her “old man”. When Waller said her thought John was inside drunk, Margaret said the house was empty. At 3.00am, Margaret was still standing outside. Later still, Waller saw Margaret open her window shutters and say, “Oh, Lord! Bless me! He’s come home and cut his throat!”. Waller entered the house and found John Coghlan dead on the bed with his throat cut and a razor in his left hand.
The ensuing investigation found that their pair were involved in a drunken row where John picked up an iron bar and threw it at Margaret just missing her head. Margaret then grabbed the bar and in a rage, beat John to death. This was evident by the wounds found on the side of his head.
Margaret thought to cover this by making it look like John had suicided. She took his razor and sliced his throat then placed it in his hand.
Margaret was poorly represented during the trial by a newly appointed barrister. Although she acted in self defence, she did cover her actions by further incrimination. She was condemned to death and confined in Cascade's Female Factory.
At 9am Monday the 17th of February 1862, Margaret was removed from the Female Factory and escorted to Hobart Town Gaol and placed in the condemned cell to await her execution.
"A few minutes before eight o'clock the Under-Sherriff, T. J. Crouch, Esq., arrived at the gaol, and when the clock struck, he, together with Mr. Reidy, the governor of the gaol, proceeded to the small yard adjoining the condemned cells. Margaret Coghlan then came out; she was much thinner than at her trial, and was clad in deep mourning, and most humanely, her eyes had been bandaged, before she was led out from her cell, so that she could see nothing that was passing around her. Her face was blanched and her lips were colourless; she also trembled greatly, so much so that she had to be supported yet, nevertheless, in a loud voice she fervently uttered supplications for God to have mercy on her soul.
The executioner quickly pinioned her, and then she was supported to the scaffold. Here the dreadful preparations were soon completed, the prisoner all the time praying earnestly and audibly, until just as she uttered the words, 'Lord Jesus have mercy on me!' the drop fell, a thud succeeded, and after some spasmodic struggles, the body was still, and the spirit of Margaret Coghlan had passed into the presence of THE ETERNAL!" - The Mercury (Hobart, Tas), 19 Feb 1862, pg2