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EXECUTION OF DUNN
(From Tuesday's Herald)
A sadder scene was never enacted in that arena of sorrow suffering and sin, comprised within the walls of Darlinghurst
Gaol, than when John Dunn—the last of the notorious trio who setting religion and law at defiance excited feelings of indignation, insecurity, and terror throughout the colony—died an ignominious death upon the scaffold. Sad was it, indeed, to see a young man cut off in the very flower of his youth before twenty summers had passed over his head, and steeped to the eyes in crimes at which humanity may well shudder: and yet it was evident from the calm fortitude displayed by the young outlaw when the awful hour of execution came, that with pro per training; he would have proved himself worthy of a better fate More fortunate than his two quondam friends Hall and Gil bert, who fell by the avenging bullet, Dunn hand the advantage of a trial, with all the solemn forms of law, and with a lenity which he accorded not to his victims, he was allowed time to prepare for his appearance before the Great Judge he was permitted, moreover to avail himself of the services of a clergyman of the faith he professed, to instruct and direct him in his appeals for mercy to an ever merciful God. It is satisfactory to know that these services were not rendered in vain but that the guilty man, whose short life had been stained
by outrages and blood, gave proofs of the sincerity of his repen tance aud a desire to atone for his past sins. We understand that from the time of his conviction he was most attentive to the admonitions of his religious instructor, giving no trouble to his keepers, and questioning not for a moment the justice of his sentence, and was perfectly resigned to his fate . Judging from the improved physical condition which he exhibited as he left the condemned cell yesterday morning his mind could not have been much disturbed by the thought of his impending doom for he was much more robust than when he first arrived in Sydney. He gained in weight upwards of a stone during his incarceration in the gaol. We are informed that the roman Catholic chaplain of the gaol, the Rev. J Dwyer, and the Rev T McCarthy, of St Benedict s (to whom the bushranger Vane
surrendered), were with the condemned culprit until half-past 11 o'clock on Sunday night, and that soon after they left he fell into a sound slumber and remained asleep until haif-past six o'clock yesterday morning, when he awoke and performed his ablutions. He ate a hearty breakfast, and having smoked a pipe of tobacco, and to all appearances enjoyed it. he was pre- pared to reoeive two of the Sisters of Charity, who now paid him a visit. Between seven and eight o'clock the two clergy- men who were with him over-night again presented themselves and the two sisters bade him a final adieu. The clergymen now endeavoured by the usual religious exercises to prepare the mind ol the wretched man for his approaching end, and at a few minutes to nine o'clock the Sheriff proceeded to the cell
and with the customary formality demanded Dunn's body. The two executioners then pinioned the oulprit, and the mourn- ful cortege moved slowly from the wing of the gaol towards the gallows, erected at the eastern side of the yard. Dunn who limped slightly from the effect of the wound in his leg, walked between the two clergymen, and repeated after them the solemn words of prayer which they uttered. Arrived at the foot of the grim instrument of death, the condemned man proceeded without assistance to mount the steps, followed by the
Rev. Mr. Dwyer, in his clolcrlcal robes, and the execu- tioners. Upon the platform the reverend gentleman read a short prayer, shook bands with tho poor misguided youth who was about to pay the penalty of his crimes with his life, and left the scaffold. The fatal rope was speedily adjusted, the white cap was drawn over the condemned man's face, the bolt
was withdrawn, and, with the heavy thud which immediately followed, the young outlaw ceased to live. The neck was evi- dently broken by the fall, for there was not the slightest move- ment of the muscles to indicate that any life remained. After hanging about twenty minutes, the body was cut down, and subsequently delivered to a Mrs. Pickard (who when the dead man was an innocent infant stood as his godmother), for private interment. Thus perished on the scaffold, by the hands of the common hangman, the last at large, and the most bloodthirsty of Gardiner's gang. Of this once formidable band of highway- men, which for so many years kept the colony in awe, it may not bo out of place to mention that four still survive viz.. Gardiner, the chief who is undergoing a sen tence of thirty-two years penal servitude: Vane who surrendered through the instrumentality of Father M'Carthy, and was sentenced to fifteen years on the roads; Bow and Fordyce, sentenced to death, which was afterwards commuted
to fifteen years' penal servitude. Peisley and Manns were hung; the other five, namely, Lowrie, Burke, O'Meally, Ben Hall, and Gilbert, were shot dead—Burke and O'Meally by private hands, and the remainder by the police. The last who joined the gang was the "Old Man," who gave himself up to the police, and is now in penal servitude. We understand that
a short time before his execution, Dunn wrote a letter to the governor of the gaol, thanking him and the warders also for his
and their kindness.
The Empire of the same day says:—We learn from a reliable authority that Dunn was born December 14th, 1846. His mother was in the service of Mr. James Manning, brother of Sir William Manning, nnd waa married to Dunn's father at the age of seventeen. Mrs. Pickard, who is the wife of Mr. W. P. Pickard, storekeeper to Mr. Keele, merchant, was present at Dunn's birth, and became godmother to him. She had a general order from the Colonial Secretary to visit the condemned criminal, and we understand she called to see him daily. She may be truly said to have behaved like a mother to him, and to have acted like a noble, kindhearted, good woman. When Dunn joined the bushrangers, his father rode in search of him in the hope of rescuing him from an evil life, but his horse died
from over-exertion, and he was compelled to return home from his unsuccessful search. Dunn's parents are settled on a small farm, and are in poor circumstances.