Records of correspondence show that overcrowding was becoming a major problem in Maitland Gaol, only A Wing had been completed and it contained just 26 large cells and two small cells. It was housing men, women and children and each of the upcoming Circuit Courts and Quarter Sessions sitting had 35 and 29 people on trial respectively. Unfortunately for the staff and prisoners at Maitland Gaol it would be another 12 years before B Wing was completed.
1885: It was reported that prisoners Mary Ann Burton and Sarah Keep (mother and daughter), who were confined in Maitland Gaol under a sentence of death, have decided to starve themselves in protest to their sentence. They were found guilty of poisoning William Henry Keep, husband of the younger prisoner. The two prisoners were not housed together in one cell however both are refusing all food. It comes as the two female prisoners are informed that other bodies are to be exhumed, including that of Mr Burton (Mary’s husband) and Miss Cook, who both died within hours of having tea at the prisoners place. Whilst it was reported in the newspapers that many people don’t believe the women will hang, the authorities assured them that if any trace of poison is found in either of the other bodies that the gallows will not be spared.
1901: During the sitting of court yesterday Ethel Anderson, age 17 years, was found guilty of vagrancy and removed to Maitland Gaol. Miss Anderson had been charged with having no visible lawful means of support and pleaded guilty. The police gave her a very bad character reference and she was sentenced to six months imprisonment. Despite the severity of the sentence it meant that Miss Anderson would have shelter and food over the winter.
Edward Pennar was charged and sentenced with having, at Stockton, stolen a watch, one silver chain, one silver medal and one blue suit all to the value of four pounds. It was alleged that he also took: one pair of trousers, one pair of silver cuff links, a necktie, one card case, a silver chain and matchbox. The accused pleaded guilty stating that he had been drunk at the time. He was sentenced to imprisonment for two months with hard labour with the bench claiming that drink was no excuse for his crimes. A further set of charges was later bought against Pennar for theft from a Railway tool house, the accused was remanded in Maitland Gaol for these charges.
John Towney was yesterday sentenced to six months hard labour. He had pleaded guilty to stealing a box of tobacco from the Richmond Tobacco Company. Towney arrived at the Gaol in the company of Andrew Faulkener who was doing a much shorter sentence for being absent from his ship without leave.
A prisoner named Edward Fallon today affected his escape from Maitland Gaol. He used the ramp that had been set up to remove rubbish and sandstone rubble from the Gaol and escaped by simply running up it. He caught the clerk, who was watching the ramp, off guard and unable to mount the ramp himself he attempted to poke Fallon off it with his baton. Fallon was a stone cutter by trade and was quite a fit man, so he managed to run quickly up the ramp and drop to the ground on the outside of the Gaol wall. It appears that even though an immediate search ensued, Fallon got clear away and a five pound reward was offered for his recapture.
A part Japanese man arrived in Maitland today after appearing yesterday in Newcastle Police Court. He was charged with having obtained money by means of a valueless cheque from John Holt (who runs the Reserve Hotel). After evidence was taken the accused elected to be dealt with quickly by pleading guilty and was sentenced to six months hard labour.
For stealing five brown leghorn fowls worth two pound, George Carruthers was fined five pound, in default one month hard labour. Unfortunately for Mr Carruthers records indicate that he spent that one month.
The escapee Edward Fallon who had been recaptured was returned to the prison. He was captured in Newcastle after being recognised by a police constable by the description sent out after his escape.
1851: The Gaol doctor sent a letter to the Government today pleading that he be sent five straight jackets and a large tub to help bath the lunatics. Even though the Gaol had been open for a few years, basics where still missing including some medical supplies. A combination of this and the limited cells that where available to house prisoners, it was becoming increasingly difficult to care for prisoners especially those who came in under a charge of lunacy.
1865: The tender of Thomas Brown, for the supply of building stone to Maitland Gaol, was accepted by the Government. The tender would last 12 months and Brown would need to reapply if he wished to continue to supply stone.
Richard Leighton and Peter Curran, who were being housed in Maitland Gaol in connection with recent explosions in Minmi, where today liberated. Leighton was released on his own bond of 400 pounds and two sureties of 200 pounds each, Curran on his own bond of 200 pound and two sureties of 100 pound each. They have been released from custody to appear for trial in Sydney next month.
A rather large cohorst of men appeared in West Maitland Court today charged with drunkenness. Four men appeared in total, however the worst offender had been a recent regular with four appearances in as many weeks. William Mortimer, the regular attendee, was the only one sentenced to a Gaol term. That sentence was six weeks imprisonment with a reminder by the Magistrate, Mr Green, of the evils of drink and he thought that this would be a good amount of time for Mr Mortimer to clear his head.
New prisoner James Smith begins his sentence of one month after he is convicted of indecently exposing himself in view of a public road. The incident happened in Mulbring and two of Mr Smith's friends were also convicted of drunkenness in a public place. Unfortunately, what seems like a bit of fun gone wrong, Mr Smith was sentenced to his one month with hard labour. Dr Spink, the presiding Magistrate, suggested that this would be enough time away from his friends and family to learn a valuable lesson.
Eliza Witty arrived under escort this morning to Maitland Gaol after being sentenced to seven weeks imprisonment. Ms Witty had been caught stealing a woollen comforter from Charles Osmond in Newcastle. It was the first time Ms Witty had been in trouble with the law.
Frederick Johnson arrived today after a lengthy court appearance for breaching the Vagrancy Act. Four witnesses where produced throughout the trial to prove that Johnson had illegally been in Dr Douglas' premises. Ellen Thompson, a servant at Dr Douglas' house, had found the prisoner at 10.00pm hiding under her bed. The prisoner had threatened that he would knock her brains out if she made a sound and had proceeded to escape via the window. With the evidence stacked up, the Magistrate found Johnson guilty and sentenced him to 12 months imprisonment. As Johnson was being escorted out he broke in to a tirade of abuse aimed at Miss Thompson, for this the magistrate increased his sentence to two years imprisonment.
Sadly a prisoner named Timothy Haplin, under a sentence of two years imprisonment, died today. It appears that he had an internal complaint for some time and succumbed to it in the early hours of the morning. An inquest is pending but is expected to find death by natural causes.
Anthony Moore was transported to Maitland Gaol from Newcastle today after being sentenced to seven days imprisonment. Moore had been found drunk in Ranelard Street, Merewether and was described by police as a filthy looking individual with a list of convictions an arm in length. Upon arriving Moore would have been forced to bath and given a new set of clothes.
Maitland Gaol received a special grant today from the Government to the total of 138 pounds. The Gaoler had applied for the grant to employ a gardener at the Gaol and has been successful. The gardener would look after the Maitland Gaol reserve and the John Street side of East Maitland Court House, the 138 pounds was to cover his annual salary.
D. Hutton, W O'Conner and J. Butler the three leaders of the mining trouble in January had been sentenced to eight months imprisonment for breach of the Industrial Disputes Act and transferred to Maitland Gaol. Today they were released too much media attention and fan fair from the Miners Federation. Upon their release and being interviewed they did not care to speak much of their incarceration, however they did make one complaint. Mr O'Conner claimed that they had been starved in Maitland Gaol and that it wasn't until he had made a complaint to Mr McCauley, Deputy Comptroller of Prisons, that they had started receiving better rations. After his complaint all three men where moved to work in the cookhouse, which would have surely bought the men some relief. The released men where to be entertained on Saturday night at a celebration organised by the Miners Federation.
Margaret Maroney arrived today under a charge of unsound mind and would spend the next seven days under observation in the Maitland Gaol Hospital. Constable Hickey had received Ms Maroney from the Matron at the Benevolent Asylum, the Sub Matron appeared to give evidence during the hearing. The Sub Matron deposed that the women was received at the institution about four weeks ago and had been strange in her manner, she had become very violent in her behaviour of Saturday evening.
The last execution in Maitland Gaol’s history took place today. Charles Hines was hanged for the rape of Mary Emily Hayne, his step daughter. The sorrowful procession to gallows started in the rain and came to an end on the sad note of Hines proclaiming his innocence before being hurled into eternity.
Mary Minter arrived at the looming gates of Maitland Gaol today after being found guilty of being a vagrant. Sadly, she had been found lying in the watch house stable and when asked informed the constable she had no fixed place of abode and no means of support. Ms Minter was sentenced to one month’s imprisonment which may have come as some relief to her. Whilst in Gaol Ms Minter would have had access to a bath, fresh clothing and three meals a day for the duration of her stay.
A notification received by telegram told the Gaoler at East Maitland Gaol that tender for the cooking plant had been accepted. There were eight tenders all up and F. Lassetter & Co where accepted with a price of 499 pounds.
Gladys May Cribb was released from Maitland Gaol today after serving her sentence for theft. Unbeknownst to her whilst she was in prison evidence had been found that she maliciously and feloniously murdered Cyril Eagan Cribb, her infant son, in mid April. She was arrested upon her release today and charged with murder, she was transported to Muswellbrook to await trail.
Quiet a large group of new prisoner where bought through the gates of Maitland Gaol on this day in 1880. Some of them are listed below: William West, charged with drunk and disorderly, obscene language and violent behaviour in lockup was sentenced to 12 days in Gaol. Patrick Monaghan, charged with being drunk and disorderly sentenced to seven days in Gaol. Ah Sing, charged with vagrancy was sentenced to three months in Gaol. Valentine Kaizer, charged with Lunacy was sentenced to seven days observation in the hospital at Maitland Gaol. John Wilson, charged with drunkenness in a public street was sentenced to three days in Gaol.
1863: Wallace, the Gaoler, wrote to the sheriff today requesting the transfer of a blacksmith to Maitland Gaol as the prisoner that was currently employed at the Gaol to sharpen tools was due for release on 3 June and they thought it would be very expensive to employ free labour. The request was granted and a prisoner named Edward Kehoe was transferred however is appears that he was more trouble than assistance. It appears that by August they wanted him removed from the Gaol as he had made quite a vicious attack on a Warder and that he had been giving prisoners weapons.
1886: At about 9.00pm in 1886 a rope was observed by Warder O'Shaughnessy which had been thrown over the western corner of the outside wall. Two black parcels appeared to be at the end of the rope so the warder immediately informed the Chief Warder Mr McLean. Both men proceeded to the rope, one on the outside of the Gaol walls and one on the inside. As Warder O'Shaughnessy got close on the outside of the wall he observed a man holding the rope and called on him to stand still or he would fire upon him. Realising that he'd been sprung the man ran around the corner of the Gaol wall out of site for the Warder. A chase ensued and unfortunately the culprit had been a speedy escape and eluded the two prison warders. Mr McLean managed to secure the man’s hat and the two parcels he was attempting to lower over the wall. One contained a bottle of brandy and the other three cases of tobacco. Suspicion was attached to a previous prisoner who had only recently been released from the Gaol, however it could not be proven. It was reported in the newspapers that the person could obtain their hat and other articles by making application to the Gaol authorities. There is no further record about his incident.
New arrival Michael Eady was bought to the Gaol today after pleading guilty to stealing one collar, one pair of winkers and one pair of reigns from John Barry. Eady admitted that he had stolen the mentioned items and rode to East Maitland where he sold the harness for three shillings. The person who allegedly purchased it from him denied the charge and the reigns where never recovered. Eady was sentenced to six months hard labour.
Ethel Anderson, age 17 years, was removed to Maitland Gaol on this day after being found guilty of vagrancy. Miss Anderson was charged with having no visible lawful means of support and pleaded guilty. The police gave her a very bad character reference and the girl was sentenced to six months imprisonment. Despite the severity of the sentence it meant Miss Anderson would have shelter and food over the winter months.
A young man named Wilson was sentenced to three months hard labour and finalised his journey to the front gates this very afternoon in 1875. He was convicted for stealing three Meerschaum Pipes from Robert Chinchen's shop in Hunter Street, Newcastle. Desiring to sell his loot he took the pipes to a branch shop of Mr Chinchen's where they were immediately identified by the unique mark on the case. Wilson, the thief, was detained and turned over to police. Trying to sell the pipes turned out to be a very costly mistake for the young man.
In consequence of representations made to the Executive by Rev J R Thackeray that they might grant respite to the Chinamen, Ah Yeh, who is currently under a sentence of death in Maitland Gaol. The Rev stated that he had very grave doubts of the prisoner’s guilt and planned to make some enquiries. A telegram was received by Maitland Gaol today to inform the gaoler that respite had been granted and the Executive was waiting for correspondence about said enquiries. The Reverend proceeded to make enquiries at the scene of the murder, he took an inspector and interpreter with him to gain as much information as possible.
1885: Eleven female prisoners arrived from Sydney to Maitland today after a one night stopover in Newcastle police cells. They arrived by train in the mid-morning after causing problems in the cells overnight in the 'Coaly' city. They had been transferred from a number of different Gaol's in Sydney and where all long term prisoners.
1890: Miriam Carter, a young girl, appeared on remand charged with having on 21 May assaulted a boy. The young lad, Charles Henry Mitchell, was under 10 years of age and was caused actual bodily harm by the assault. The accused had thrown a rock at the boy after he accused her of killing a flying fox, which he had found in the park in front of the East Maitland Courthouse. The rock knocked the boy down and he later required two stitched in the wound above his right eye. In view of Miss Carter’s youth the charge was lessoned to common assault and she was sentenced to three days gaol. The Bench said they hoped that the short stay would be a lesson to her that nasty actions have equal consequences.