Mary McLauchlan - Hanged at Hobart for the murder of her infant son – 19th of April 1830
FIRST WOMAN EXECUTED
We mentioned, in our last, that an unhappy woman named Mary McLauchlan, was on Thursday found guilty of the murder of her infant child; and in compliance with a late Act of Mr. Peel's, order for execution on Saturday morning. Circumstances appeared which induced the Lieut. Governor to respite her until Monday. --- It was then general hoped and expected that the miserable woman's life would have been spared. Such was not the case. --- She underwent the last dreadful human punishment on Monday morning.
We cannot refrain from expressing our regret at this. We believe we do so in common with the whole Colony. The circumstances of the case, as they appeared at the trial, were shortly these - She had been in the service of Mr. C. R. NAIRNE. Having there become pregnant, she was returned to the female House of Correction, where she was delivered of a child which was soon afterwards found dead, in a particular place, under circumstances which induced the Jury to find her guilty of murder.
The unhappy woman received the most kind attention which her wretched circumstances would admit of, from all who had it in their power to bestow such. Mrs. And Mr. Bisdee did every thing possible to alleviate her sufferings. To them she was indebted for the preparation of apparel, (a long white gown and appropriate underclothing,) by which nothing of decency was violated in the last dreadful moment. The Rev. Mr. Bedford was unremitting in his attention to her. It is a most useless addition to human suffering, the provision of Mr. Peel, that no person shall have admission to those under sentence of death for murder, but the gaoler and the Clergyman. It was owing to this law that the wretched woman could not have the comfort of the attendance of one of her own sex, from the moment of her sentence to that of her death.
The unhappy woman was not only the first who has ever suffered death upon the scaffold in this colony, but was also the first who has been sentenced to so suffer for such an offence. Surely then, it would not have afforded any great proof of a too yielding weakness, to have extended to a hapless female, the doubly blessed Kingly prerogative, which renders happy both the giver and the receiver.
The miserable sufferer stated every c[i]rcumstance of her case, without the slightest reserve, voluntarily and freely, to Mr. Bedford, on the night previous to her execution, and again in the morning, when the Rev. gentleman administered to her the consolation of the Sacrament. With that solemn ordinance on her lips, she related her melancholy tale, and the cold-hearted treatment she received from the author of her destruction. [S]he was most desirous to denounce him on the scaffold to the assembled multitude, with her dying words. Mr. Bedford, with a kindness and consideration, most undeserved by him upon whom it was bestowed, dissuaded her from this, which she consented to, only upon the condition of declaring it to the [S]heriff. She did so in the presence of all those in the prison lobby; and she then went forth and submitted to her fate, with calmness and resignation. And what must be the feelings of him who brought her to it! Can he have any? --- Impossible! Can he sleep? At the midnight hour the fearful image of his expiring victim would strike upon his affrighted imagination, in the dreadful agony of death, and awaken him in all the horrors of recollection. --- But we have forgotten. His "respectability" may probably render him callous to conscience.
We have omitted to mention that the Rev. Mr. McArthur, of the Scots congregation, bestowed the utmost attention upon this unfortunate woman. He attended her unceasingly with the very utmost kindness up to her last moments.
The conduct of Mr. Bedford, on this, as on all other similar occasions, is beyond all praise.
Source: Tasmanian and Austral-Asiatic Review, 23 April 1830
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