An extract of
correspondence to the Archbishop of Canterbury by E.S. Hall, editor of the
Sydney Monitor in which he describes the lead up to the execution of Anthony
Hitchcock and John Poole in 1833..........
The two men in question
Anthony Hitchcock and
John Poole suffered death near to the road which bounds one side of
the estate of
Castle Forbes, the residence of Mr. Mudie, where one of the
several outrages for which they suffered had been committed. It took place on
Saturday the 21st December 1833.
The Reverend Chaplain of
Newcastle, left that place on the Wednesday preceding; and such were the
feelings of the Settlers on the solemn occasion, that some of them piously
construed this departure, as the prelude to the Rev. gentleman's attendance on
the unhappy men. The prisoners landed at the Port of Maitland, on the Friday
after noon, and, escorted by an Officer and 16 files of soldiers, and one or two
of the mounted police dragoons, proceeded towards Patrick Plains.
The men were conveyed in a cart;
sitting on their coffins, and previously to the mournful procession setting out,
all eyes were engaged looking out for the Chaplain. The time being come, and the
Rev. gentleman not appearing the procession moved on. The prisoners,
particularly Poole, a man of a bold and irascible temper, complained of this
neglect with great emotion. His ardent feelings hitherto engaged in folly, had
been, by the affectionate exhortations of the Rev. Mr. Cowper, and other good
men in the Sydney Jail, (conjoined with the general humane treatment and
sympathy of the officers of the Government, the soldiers and the people at
large), wonderfully softened down; so that with equal candour and anxiety, he
had devoted his mind of late, to the reading of the Scriptures, and of religious
Tracts. The non attendance, of a Minister of the Gospel, was deeply felt by the
A melancholy night was spent in
the forest, when the prisoners again complained bitterly of spiritual neglect.
Early in the morning, the procession resumed its journey and arrived at the
place of execution about nine o'clock.
Hopes had been
entertained by the cavalcade, that at the place of execution, the Reverend
Chaplain of Maitland (he having slept the preceding night within eight miles of
Castle Forbes), would be in attendance. In this they were once more disappointed
and the unhappy men's expressions evinced much anguish.
The fatal hour at
length arrived. An accident however occurred, which protracted their mental
sufferings four long hours. No blacksmith was in attendance to knock off their
irons. A blacksmith, a fellow servant of the prisoners, attempted to loosen the
rivets, but for want of an anvil he could not accomplish the task. The unhappy
men were therefore once more placed in the cart, and conveyed to Darlington, an
obscure hamlet on the other side of the river; there, a blacksmith succeeded in
disencumbering them of their chains. By the time the procession had returned to
the place of execution, it was past twelve o'clock.
A Convict present who
had been a schoolmaster (this was
William McMackin), but dismissed for improper conduct, now charitably offered to read
prayers for the men, which offer they accepted. After which Poole presented some
religious Tracts to his fellow servant the blacksmith, marked with the names of
other of his fellow servants and in his own handwriting, and with short scraps
of advice; and in a private manner, he begged him to tell his comrades, to read
them and to take no man's advice, contrary to what they would find in the
Tracts. He also informed his comrade, that he attributed his ignominious end, to
the violence of his own temper. Hitchcock was more reserved, but seemed equally
devout and penitent, and under these feelings, the unhappy men were suspended
from the jibbet temporarily erected for the purpose.