1870 - The Bank Hotel- Still in use today as a public bar the bank hotels publican was today in 1870 committed to Maitland Gaol on a charge of attempted arson. Mr John Halliday caused quite a stir at the courthouse where it became overcrowded with people wanting to hear the examination. The evidence presented by Inspector Harrison was that on the previous evening, whilst under the influence of drink, the defendant deliberately attempted to set fire to the hotel by throwing down on the floor one of the kerosene lamps. The defendant was heard yelling that 'rather than see another man come into the house over my head he would burn the place down'. It appears that Mr Halliday had sold the hotel but now leaving was imminent he did not want to go. Halliday was described as 'raving mad drunk' however drunkenness could not be used as an excuse for the crime committed. The hotel being so close to the bank of Australasia means a fire could have had detrimental impacts on the community. He was not granted bail and remanded in Maitland Gaol for sentencing at the next Quarter Sessions.
1900 - Peter Joskinsen, aged 21 arrived at the gates of Maitland Gaol today. Joskinsen was charged with having assaulted Captain Neils Johan Ellifsen, Master of the ship St Jorn. The evidence was to the effect that Joskinsen had boarded the ship in an intoxicated and excited state, armed with a knife and ran amok threatening the Captain and others. The accused was eventually overpowered, disarmed and handed over to the police. Luckily no serious injuries were inflicted on the Captain or any of his shipmen. Joskinsen was sentenced to 4 weeks hard labour in Maitland Gaol, after which he would return home aboard his ship.
1897 - An old man, aged 70 years, was today liberated from Maitland Gaol. Patrick Hickey had been serving a sentenced of 12 months imprisonment for assault. Hickey had been in the colony for 50 years, this is his first conviction. The name Hickey became well known in the hunter region, with Mr Kerry Hickey serving as the local member for Cessnock for 12 years, perhaps they were some relation?
1900 - Two new prisoners arrived in Maitland Gaol today after being convicted in Murrurundi on the 1st of July. Frank Harris convicted of forgery arrived with a sentence of 2 years hard labour. Joseph Easterbrook who'd been found guilty of arson, also arrived but with a shorter sentence of 9 months hard labour.
1889 - Joseph Coplon today entered Maitland Gaol for his first ever Gaol sentence. He had been found guilty of receiving hides known to be stolen at the Narrabri Quarter Sessions. He was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, a harsher penalty than expected as he would not provide details about where the hides were obtained.
1898 - Tenders were called today for the supply of stone to Maitland Gaol. All information could be obtained from the Department of Public Works in Newcastle. This stone was possibly used to infill the windows in the top of C Wing, which was completed in 1899. This wing was then completely converted to cells as it is seen today.
1890 - New Overseer at Maitland Gaol- It was recorded today in 1890 that a new overseer had been appointed for Maitland Gaol. Mr Richard Wall, a stonemason, was appointed to the overseer’s position to take over from Mr Lowe. Mr Wall would oversee any building works happening within the Gaol walls, it appears he was well known in Maitland and regarded as a gentleman. The Maitland Mercury reported that his appointment was very satisfactory.
1880 - Correspondence received today at Maitland Gaol that the position of gardener had been approved for the Gaol. Wages of 128 pounds per annum was assured for the new employee with 100 pound extra reserved for materials.
1898 - Revolt in Maitland Gaol- A strong rumour had been circulated to the effect that there had recently been a revolt in Maitland Gaol. The rumour was so strong that almost every newspaper in NSW reported it. Today the Comptroller of NSW Prisons finally made comment about the revolt and advised that there had been a little trouble as some prisoners had made complaint about the tobacco they received. He suggested that overall the incident had been about a trifle matter and that it was quickly settled. Eye witness accounts, however, differed from this opinion greatly with people who were near the Gaol at the time stating that a ruckus could be heard for over 3 hours starting at around 4pm. Items including tins were thrown over the walls and tables and planks could be heard being thrown and destroyed. Local reports suggested that one officer was bitten and another struck on the head. Reporters later found out that several prisoners were sentenced to a further 6 months imprisonment as punishment and were transferred to Parramatta Gaol. It became widely believed that the revolt was caused by the reintroduction of the drill regulation.
1875 - During Legislative assembly some concerns were raised about Maitland Gaol and forwarded to the colonial secretary. These questions included items about a Chaplain for Maitland Gaol and whether any altercation has been made to the time of days in which warder’s work at the Gaol. It was suggested by Mr Bennett, who raised these questions that the Gaol has been in a mutinies state. It had recently needed to transfer 10 prisoners to Berrima over unruly conduct. The Colonial Secretary’s response was diplomatic stating that the Chaplains position within his church was currently under review therefore his time was limited. He also provided evidence that proves an extra Warder had been transferred to Maitland Gaol to deal with the current problems. Other questions put forward would not be commented on.
1865 - The young lad Thompson who had recently been captured in the company of Thunderbolt was today removed from Maitland Gaol. He had been transferred on Sunday from Tamworth, along with four other prisoners, and had arrived by train. Thompson had been sentenced to 15 years hard labour after being found guilty of armed highway robbery. Thompson was removed to Cockatoo Island where he would have been put to work building the Fitzroy Dock, which would service Royal Navy ships.
1900 - Mr Richard Wall, who was appointed overseer of Maitland Gaol ten years ago, was today gazetted as a permanent officer in the public service general division. His salary was also set to increase to 180 pounds per year. One can only imagine that this came as a welcome relief as he could now hold the office of public servant until his retirement.
1850 - The Sydney Morning Herald today reported the costings for Maitland Gaol. It appears that to run the prison for a 12 month period cost around 725 pounds. The cost breakdown was listed as; Gaolers Salary 100 pounds, Surgeon 40 pounds, two chaplains at 25 pounds ea., Clerk 73 pounds, Principle Turnkey 63 pounds and six turnkeys at 355 pounds. They also allowed for contingencies including stationary and postage. None of this included any building expenses or allowance for building work to continue.
1897 - Mr W.A.E. Lewis was today removed from East Maitland where he had been residing as the Clerk of Works. He has been moved to Forbes where he will oversee the district. During his time in Maitland he had a splendid impact on the works around the district. He has overseen the Courthouse building in Maitland and the extensive alterations to Maitland Gaol for which the community is indebted to him. Mr Thomas Barnet is to be Mr Lewis' successor but sadly he was to reside in Newcastle.
1889 - The Denman Police Court sentenced Charles Folpp to Maitland Gaol on the 11th of July. He was bought to the court on a charge of larceny and had stolen a quantity of goods from an Indian Hauler on the Goulburn River. Senior Sergeant Forrest conducted the prosecution. Folpp had at first pleaded not guilty but soon changed his plea to guilty. Evidence was presented by 2 constables and Ahmud (an Indian who owned the goods), the court was also advised that almost all the goods had been recovered. Most were found in the defendant’s house, the rest on his person. Considering most of the items had been returned Folpp was ordered to spend only 2 months in Maitland Gaol but with hard labour. Folpp arrived to the Gaol today and was received into the Gaol's entrance records.
1898 - 14 days ago 8 Nyanza firemen were imprisoned in Maitland Gaol for having disobeyed Captain McLachlan's lawful commands. They had given the excuse during their appearance in court that they were scared to go to Manilla because of the war there. In accordance with an order made by the Minister for Justice they were today released. 5 of the men returned to Sydney by steamer today and 3 remained in the city. The 3 who remained said they preferred to holiday in Maitland Gaol than a trip to Manilla for the purpose of helping to stop bullets.
1889 - Daniel Sullivan was charged with wilfully damaging a window valued at 14 pound. After a lengthy trial from which the defendant pleaded guilty and then not guilty he was found guilty. Sullivan was ordered to pay a 1 pound fine plus damages; he was unable to pay and was therefore ordered to reside in Maitland Gaol for 6 months.
1889 - Robert George O'Neill was forced today to begin a sentence that could last up to 12 months if his debt remained unpaid. Previously O'Neill had been ordered to pay for the maintenance of his wife who had begun proceedings to divorce her husband some time ago, on grounds of infidelity. They had not been living together since the proceedings were begun and O'Neill was already on bail from the previous order. The Police Court ordered that O'Neill pay 7 pound to his wife and 7 shillings in court costs, it was also ordered that it was unpaid he would be confined in Maitland Gaol for 12 months. G.F. Scott (who was overseeing the Police Court) ordered that the 12 months was to begin immediately and he would be released upon payment being made. This decision was taken as Scott believed O'Neill had a complete unwillingness to pay his wife what she deserved.
1875 - As the 11 O'clock special train rolled in to Wallsend on the 17th of July in 1875 the people upon the platform had no idea what they were about to witness. Richard Thornton Gilmore would appear behind his girlfriend who was standing on the platform with another young man named Portus. It appears he started an argument and then proceeded to attach his girlfriend names Sarah Cheers. This caused much excitement on the platform; Mr Portus intervened and to all accounts gave Gilmore quite a beating. Cheers and Portus boarded the train. Gilmore purchased a pocket knife before himself boarding the train. All 3 got off at the platform at Waratah, another altercation between Gimore and Cheers took place when Portus again stepped in. Gilmore produced his knife and managed to stab Gilmore quite deeply under her left ear. After witnessing this level of violence a flurry of action took place upon the Waratah platform with as many as 400 people ascending on Gilmore & beating him to the ground. Mr Fletcher J.P. stepped in and called on the crown to behave like men. He guarded Gilmore until the police arrived. Gilmore was charged with unlawful wounding and remanded in Maitland Gaol for 7 days until Miss Cheers was able to give evidence.
1895 - An elderly man named Charles Smith today arrived in Maitland Gaol after being convicted at the Branxton Bench. It appeared that he had been the person pilfering a large number of items from the Greta area. These items included rugs, washing and linen all of which had been left out on the washing line. He was sentenced to 2 months hard labour in Maitland Gaol. The arresting constable testified that 'Charlie' had got off two previous charges of this nature because of his good character.
1890 - Adamstown Mechanics Institute met today in 1890 to discuss, among other things, the practise of having old books rebound at Maitland Gaol. A representative from the Gaol was invited to attend. The Gaoler showed that Maitland Gaol had already rebound up to 60 books at a cost of ten pence each. Mr Williams called attention to the fact that by getting Maitland Gaol to rebind the books they were not supporting a trade outside the prison. Mr Samuel Stewart objected, saying that if prisoners much be kept in gaol's then they should be doing something for their living. Even more so since the Gaol could perform the work for ten pence rather than two shillings. This was generally agreed upon and was adopted. The Gaoler seemed pleased with the outcome as it ensured that as many as 160 volumes would now be rebound at Maitland Gaol.
1895 - Tenders where today called for erection of a brick chimney stack at Maitland Gaol. Government architect W.L. Vernon called for the tender and stated that information could be gathered from the Government Architects office in Sydney or Newcastle and the East Maitland Courthouse. The chimney stack would be completed by the end of the year and would stand inside the walls of the Gaol until the 1970s. Do you remember seeing the chimney peak over the walls of Maitland Gaol?
1856 - On this day in Maitland Gaol a prisoner awaiting trial attempted suicide. Prisoners Browne and Cummins were awaiting trial for committing highway robbery while armed. Cummins attempted suicide using a loop of iron he had converted into a knife. The Gaol contacted Doctor Wilson telling him the circumstances and observing that Cummins showed symptoms of derangement. Wilson treated Cummins and considered him insane, the prisoner was placed on suicide watch and his trial was deferred. When he finally appeared at the Maitland Circuit Court in March 1857 it was concluded that Cummins was feigning insanity, and he was sentenced to 10 years hard labour on the roads for each offence.
1880 - With such an abundance of coal in the hunter region it was a rare case of the theft of it that bought Adolphe Kuhdll before the Police Court of Newcastle yesterday in 1880. The coal belonging to J & A Brown was being held on a lighter in Newcastle harbour when the defendant helped himself to half a tonne of it. None of the evidence produced could prove what the stolen coal had been used for. Nevertheless the prisoner was sentenced to 1 month’s imprisonment with hard labour in Maitland Gaol. Upon arrival to the Gaol today it was recorded that Kuhdll, who was German, could speak very little English.
1898 - It was announced today in 1898 that the tender for the electrical lighting in Maitland Gaol had been won. Morris Bro's had been accepted and were the lowest tender of all the submissions. The price quoted for the electrical lighting to be fitted was 929 pound.
1870 - John Stokes arrived in Maitland Gaol today after 10 days of waiting after his trial concluded Stokes had recently become somewhat of a celebrity in the Tamworth area after affecting his escape from the Police lock up. On a charge of prison breaking and violent assault he was bought before the Tamworth District Court and Judge Meymott. The crown opened proceedings, presenting evidence from Michael Usher and Denis Meagher who are both officers at the police station at Walgatt. Usher outlined the events that led to the prisoners escape; it was most violent with Stokes hitting Usher with leg irons before running toward the door where he was met by Mr Meagher who he smashed in the face twice with the same leg irons causing Meagher to be blinded by blood. He then fled the lock up with another prisoner named Buckley. After regaining his feet Usher took a horse and bridle from the yard and chased the 2 prisoners. After having fired shots at them Buckley surrendered, Stokes however was harder to detain. Eventually both prisoner where returned to the cells. Meagher was so badly injured that he had to take 3 weeks off work to recover from his facial injuries. The two prisoners were escorted from Walgett to Tamworth; Buckley was drowned on the way, for trial. The jury found the prisoner guilty without leaving the courtroom. For such a violent crime the Judge ordered the prisoner be housed in Maitland Gaol for 3 years.
1858 - Today in Maitland Gaol the extension of the railway from East Maitland to West Maitland, or Maitland as it is by now being known was officially opened by the Governor General Sir William Denison. It had significant impact for the Gaol as large quantities of supplies could now be transported by rail.
1859 - Today in Maitland Gaol an inquest was being held following the death of a prisoner, Matthew Stevenson. Stevenson had been sentenced to 12 months hard labour for obtaining goods under false pretences, however had become ill during his time in Gaol. Dr Wilton testified that he had suffered symptoms of water on the chest and had died of the complaint.
1860 - Furious Riding- Today in 1860 two men arrived at the gates of Maitland Gaol after being charged with riding furiously through Lawes St in East Maitland. It appears that the arresting constable believed they were endangering their own lives and the lives of other persons on the street. Both men pleaded guilty and being unable to pay the small fine were imprisoned for 14 days ea. Interestingly this crime is now similar to our negligent driving crime, which people are charged with if their driving has endangered themselves or somebody else.
1897 - Elizabeth Eckford and Maggie Bullock where both transferred to Maitland Gaol today from Newcastle. It appeared that Ms Eckford was found by Constable McKeller in the street in a flap talking to herself. He took her, with the help of another officer, to the station where she said she wanted to go to Gaol. Elizabeth and Maggie both appeared before the court were they were each sentenced to return to Maitland Gaol. The story goes that during transport both ladies wore smiles as broad as the flagstaff on fortification hill.
1870 - Unnatural Offence- William Moore sentenced to Maitland Gaol for 4 years with hard labour after being found guilty of attempting to commit an unnatural offence. The definition of an unnatural offence is explained today as being homosexual. In NSW this was against the law until 1984, however in 1870 it was punishable by death. However research shows that most of the men punished under this crime where sentenced to much shorter sentences than the law allowed for. The evidence presented about Moore was considered vile and the judge ordered it not be repeated as it was polluting to Christian ears. It appeared that Moore had already served a sentence of 2 years in Port Macquarie for the same offence and the prosecutor suggested that he had also been imprisoned in Darlinghurst for the very same thing. In his defence all Moore could offer was that he had been married and had 2 children but unfortunately his wife had died. The jury found Moore guilty. The Judge was very cruel to Moore suggesting to him that all he could see was a beast in human shape and suggested that it would have served the prisoner right if he'd been thrashed within an inch of his life. He went on to tell the prisoner that if he continued with this way of life that he would undoubtedly be hanged. No information is recorded about what happened to Moore’s children.
1863 - On this day in Maitland Gaol yet another inquest was being held into the death of an infant, this time an infant boy named Stephen Shaw. He was the son of Louisa Shaw who was in prison on a charge of vagrancy. It is believed that he was suffering from teething when he entered the Gaol, however over the next ten days his condition worsened and eventually he passed away of pneumonia. The jury in the inquiry returned a verdict of natural death. The cold was something both prisoners and warders were struggling with; staffing was becoming a problem as many of the warders were off sick at the same time.