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John Jenkins (1814–1834)

from Sydney Herald

John Jenkins, by John Austin, 1834

John Jenkins, by John Austin, 1834

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an5600121

The extraordinary and reckless conduct of the culprit Jenkins on his trial made such an impression on the minds of the Public, that, on Monday morning last, the time appointed for his execution, the neighbourhood of the goal was crowded to a degree never before observed on any similar occasion, to witness the last scene of one of the most depraved of the human species. At the usual time, the culprits were led into the yard, to the foot of the scaffold, attended by their respective Clergymen. Tattersdale entered first, accompanied by the Rev W. Cowper, and testified the most sincere repentance and devotion through the melancholy scene; Jenkins followed, staring wildly around on the spectators, and seeming perfectly indifferent to the ignominious fate that awaited him. McCormack appeared penitent, but his demeanour on the whole, seemed to indicate extreme despair and dejection. The prayers being ended, the Under Sheriff read the warrant which consigned them to their fate; when Jenkins ascended the ladder with the greatest expedition, and on arriving on the scaffold went over to one of the ropes suspended from the fatal beam, and struck it with his hand in a playful manner; the dreadful preliminaries being adjusted, Jenkins addressed the felons in the yard to the following effect, "Well, good bye my lads, I have not time to say much to you; I acknowledge I shot the Doctor, but it was not for gain, it was for the sake of my fellow prisoners because he was a tyrant, and I have one thing to recommend you as a friend, if any of you take to the bush, shoot every tyrant you come across, and there are several now in the yard who ought to be served so. I have done several robberies, and for fear that any innocent man should suffer on my account, I have made a confession to the gaoler and given such marks and tokens as will prove it was I that committed the acts. I robbed a man named Mills at Kissing Point, and also a man on the Liverpool road, named Farrell, and a man at Liverpool whom I stabbed; he may be since dead for aught I know; I have heard that he was missing since that time, and it is most probable he has been eaten by the native dogs, I have told where the property is, in order to show that I have told the truth. I have not time to say any more lads, but I hope you will all pray for me." This address being ended, the rope was secured round his neck, and the other culprits shook hands, but Jenkins turned away from Tattersdale with disdain, and said something like, "let every villain shake hands with himself". At the solicitation of the Rev. Mr. McEncroe, he consented to shake hands with him, and as he approached his unhappy companion in crime, who appeared to be absorbed in prayer, and making pious ejaculations, he said come, come my lad, none of that crying, it’s no use crying now; we'll be all right in ten minutes time. He then gave him a hearty shake of the hand, and tool his stand. The clergymen having retired, and the arrangements being complete, the platform fell, and the world closed on one of the most ruthless assassins that over infested the Colony. The case of these Convicts show in a striking point of view, the absolute necessity for an unrelaxing system of restraint on the Convict population.

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Citation details

'Jenkins, John (1814–1834)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 18 April 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

John Jenkins, by John Austin, 1834

John Jenkins, by John Austin, 1834

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an5600121

Life Summary [details]


London, Middlesex, England


10 November, 1834 (aged ~ 20)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Passenger Ship
Social Issues
Convict Record

Crime: theft
Sentence: 7 years