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EXECUTION OF WILLIAM CONROY.
On Friday morning, Sor. IS, William Conroy suffered tkfi extreme penalty of the law for tile wilful murder of the l£*»tfr. John Snook, It will no doubt be still fresh in the minds of the majority of our readers that the celebration of the Queen's Jubilee was brought to a close at Fremantfe on Thursday, the 23rd June last, by lie hold
ing of a children's fancy dress £^i m the local Town HalL Th£ oeceased gentleman, Mr. Snook (who was about 70 years of age acted as one of the stewards on that occas ion; and in tie discharge of his duty, as sisted by the caretaker of the Town Hall, he had occasion to refuse Conroy admittance to the HalL Conroy, however, persisted in his attempts to foree an entrance, but with out avail; and eventually he was turned away by the combined efforts of Cr. Snook and the caretaker* greatly to the amuse ment of the crowd that toad assembled in front of the entrance door of tie building. Conroy then went off to the National floteh of which house he was tie licensee ; nI'1 after the children had left the hall at about midnight some of tie »M-'i present in dulged in a couple of dances, subsequently to which the stewards and other persons whe had been engaged in supervising the arrangements went to supper. At about half-past one on the morning of Friday, tie 24th June, Conroy returned to the hail, looked into the supper room, and in reply to a question put 10 him stated that he was
occupied in waiting for Cr. Snook. A few minutes afterwards Conroy met that aged gentleman, when he drew a revolver from one of the side pockets of his coat and de liberately fired at Mr. Snook's head. The ball entered the unfortunate man's month and made its exit just below the right ear, having shattered the lower jawbone on the right side in its passage. The ««m»l»mt was at oaee arrested* and was subsequently committed to take his trial at the October criminal sessions of the Supreme Court. Shortly before the opening ot the session Cr. Snook died, and en Thursday, tie 6th of Oetober, the prisoner was ar raigned upon tie charge of wilful murder. The trial took place before the ActingChief Justice and lasted two days, the accused being defended by Mr. Sept Butt, Q. C. (instructed by Mr. J. Horgan), who raised the plea of insanity in his client's defence. But after his Honor (Mr. G. W. Lease) had summed up strongly against tie p'°'nfr the jury returned a verdict of guilty, coupled however with a strong recommendation to mercy, bat unfortunately the Judge did no: ask the foreman upon what ground tie jury based their recommendation. Conroy was then sentenced to death in due form and was removed to the Perth Gaol, when he was ironed in tie usual mqimAr and placed in one of the condemned cells. Owing to the Governor ha ving goneon along tour through the Murchiaon district before tie trial took
place tie consideration of the verdict by his Excellency and the Executive Council was necessarily delayed for about a month, during which time the prisoner's numerous friends took active steps to prepare a peti tion to Sir F. N. Broome praying for com mutation of his sentence. The peti tion was signed by over 1,500 citizens and residents of Fremantle, including tie whole of the jury who had tried him. Upon the Governor's return to Perth about a fortnight ago the petition was presented to him, and at a meeting of tie Executive Council held last week the serious case was taken into their most earnest, anxious and careful consideration, the result being that
by and with the unanimous advice of his Executive the Governor decided tie law should take its course. The decision was at once announced to the condemned man by the Sheriff (Mr. J. B. Soe) in the most delicate and considerate '?''?'? ; bnt Con roy did not appear at all dismayed at tie fearful fate awaiting him, for as we shall subsequently show he had been prepared to meet his doom in a proper manner. There the case rested until Monday, tie 14th inst, when we published a long letter written by Dr. Kenny, in which that gentleman stoutly urged that that the execution of Conroy would under the circumstances of the case be an act of legal murder, rhe literary controversy thus provoked was continued in Dr. Kenny's support by Dr. Jameson, and en the other side by Dr. Eope and Dr. Lagoldby. On the evening
of Wednesday, the 16th '» gtMit, a public meeting was held in the Perth Town Hall to pass a resolution respectfully urging tie Governor to respite the condemned man. The meeting was attended by about 1,009 citizens, and after addresses had been given by Dr. Jameson, Mr. A. P. Hensman and Cr. Crowder the resolution was unanimous ly adopted. That resolution was presented to the Governor on the following day, Thursday, and was most carefully considered by his Excellency. It does indeed redound to the credit of Sir F. N. Broome that in
determining this case he spared neither time nor trouble. His Excellency again re-perused the whole of the evidence of and all the documents connected with the trial, and by bis direction the Acting Chief Justice (lor. G. W. Leake) and Mr. Justice Stone held a consultation upon the subject. Subsequently his Excellency held a long conference with the two Judges, after which he consulted also the medical gentlemen who were personally acquainted with tie
circumstances of the case. After a most lengthy and exhaustive deliberation his Excellency finally decided tiat tie law should be allowed to take its course. Meanwhile Convoy's conduct en Pbibon had been of the most exemplary character. Since the date of his conviction be spent most of his time in prayer, the reading of religious works, and profound meditation. The Bev. Father Duff nnd the Sisters nf
Mercy were unremitting in their attend ance, visiting him never less than three times a day, spending much time with the condemned man in prayer. Up to the last Conroy most solemnly declared tiat he had net the slightest recollection of having fired
the fatal shot. He stated that he re membered being rudely and violently repulsed from tie entrance-door of the Town Hall by Cr. Snook, but tiat all after that was a complete blank to him until he found himself in custody in the Fremantle Bound House and accused of tie crime. Tet he expressed his profound penitence for having committed the deed, and eager ly availed himself of the religious minis trations of his spiritual adviser. His spiritual state war considered so satisfactory that the Sacrifice of the Mass was repeated ly offered up on his behalf in tie Catholic Cathedral, and at the hands of the Rev. Father Duff he received the Sacrament of Absolution. Up to the date of tie decision
of the Governor-in-Council being announc ed to him, Conroy was bnoyed. up. with a hope that the largely-signed petition in his favour would lead to a commutation of his
sentence; but after that he calmly resign ed all hope, and assiduously devoted him self to preparing for his violent death. The last Night. At ten minute? past seven o'clock on Thursday evening the Sheriff arrived at the gaol, and announced to Conroy that he was to die at eight o'clock the next morn ing. The condemned man received the
fearful intimation with the utmost com posure, merely remarking that be wished through lie medium of tie Perth and Fremantle Press to thank all those friends who had eo kindly exerted them selves on his behalf ; adding that he hoped a!l true Catholics would of their charitv
pray for the repose of his soul He then devoted himself to earnest prayer and medi tation, in which he was engaged until a quarter of an boor after ''Hnighta when he retired to bed. But not to sleep— for while lying on his couch he assumed an attitude of devotion, and continued in prayer until ten minutes past two in tie morning. He hen fell asleep, and slumbered peacefully until a quarter to five, when he was ronsed in accordance with his previously expressed wish. He then spent an hour in private prayer, from uhich he was interrupted by the welcome arrival at a quarter to six of the Rev. Father Duff, who administered to
him the Holy Sacrament of tie Bfee&ed Eucharist. At seven o'clock tiro Bisters of Marry «alli»fl nrtHm WWr?-¥n1amn^d wn»n_ or,A after amending half-an-hour with him re tired to give place to tie blacksmith, who came to perform the necessary task of Cutting off the Ieon*. Conroy greeted the arrival of this runctiocary wi& a cheerful smile, and actually Assisted him in his work by holding op his irons in a conven ient position for the operation. The man had cut off the head of one rivet, and was just going to drive it out, when Conroy quietly observed—' You have left a little corner, you had better cut it off too.' When the BhncHfs were removed from his legs, and just as tie blacksmith was leav ing tie cell, Conroy coolly drew bis atten tion to the fact that he had left his punch on tie floor* and told him to pick it up. During ri»» few «*™»JT'rp mitintoa left Conroy warmly thanked Mr. ^^^^^ and tteother pr,^ -m-^B ^ «« £nd_ ^^ *'',-? wnich they *''* treated bim ; and again expressed a hope tiat all hie friends who had interested themselves , en his be half would, tiurougH the meduun of the PresB, be publicly thanked for him. At a quarter to eight tie Sheriff arrived, and. formally demaecUdtiie body of the con. uemncd man. Ten minutes after that tie executioner entered the condemned cell and proceeded to pinion tie prisoner. This was done in tie usual mmninr by se curing his arms by Imping them as closely as possible behind the back, just above the elbows, with a thin but strong cord. Then, contrary to all precedent, Thb Pbibghkb was HAHDCtitfrBD behind hu|back. This unusoal.ceurse was adopted on account of his being a strong, lithe, active young man; and it was feared that he might possibly cateh held of the rope above his head with one of his hands after tie bolt had been drawn, aadfthttt prolong his sufferings. A similar case re cently occurred in Victoria; and therefore it was thought advisable to prevent the possibility of such an event happening in tie present case. Sharp at eight o'clock the prisoner was led from his cell into the corridor, and then tie mournful Pboobssion to the Scaffold was formed. And here it may be noted tiat this execution differed in some respects from those which have previously taken place in the Perth GaoL A few months ago tie ^tryf^F residing in t^A immedi ate neighbourhood of thb prison presented a petition to the Governor, praying him to order the tolling of tie death-bell, and the hoisting of the black flag at executions to be discontinued His Excellency was pleased to comply with tie prayer; and therefore no bell was tolled as the prisoner walked to tie gallows, nor was the black flag flown when the fatal bolt was drawn. At this momgijt-. a large number of curious people assembled in and about the prison reserve ; but of course tiey were unable to see any thing of the execution, and when they looked in vain for tie hoisting of the black flag at the usual moment an incorrect rumor was circulated that the condemned man had been respited on the scaffold. Upon being requested to march to the gal lows Conroy stepped out of bis cell with the utmost coolness. He appeared as joyous and happy as though he was going to bis marriage in'hwd of to bis death, and as he entered tie corridor he cheerfully said, 'Good by!' to tie representative of this paper, who was standing there at tie time. Affftr having received Holy Communion Conroy was asked what be would have for breakfast. But he replied that as be bad just partaken of tie Blessed Eucharist, and as it was a fast day, he would take nothing bnt a cup of tea. That was given him, and bo be went to bis fearful fate physic ally unsupported by any solid imnrigtimcnf.. The condemned man stepped briskly for ward on His Last Shobt Wale, and preceded by tie Bev. Father Duff (who, vested in bis canonicals peculiar to the sad occasion, was reading the funeral service) marched with a firm step and admirably courageoup demeanour to the execution yard. Passing through tie prison office tie prisoner stepped under the gallows, and continuing his way firmly mounted tie winding staircase and at last stood On the FataIi Dbop. He was dressed in prison clothes — a cotton striped shirt open at tile neck, a pair of duck trousers supported by a strap round the waist, and had on his feet a pair of worsted stockings and a pair of brown leather slippers ; his head was, of course, bare. Gloomy was tie morning, and not a single beam of the sun shone forth
To guild with rays so light and free That dismal, dark frowning gaUows^ree. Having been told where to stand Conroy took bis place directly under tie traverse beam overhead, and then the Im-ngnum quickly pulled the white cap (er rather bag) over hit head and adjusted the fatal noose round his neck. Meanwhile the devoted Priest stood near the condemned man, au dibly commending his soul to the infinite mercy of Him Who died on Calvary for the eternal redemption of sinful humanity. And the executioner, who was grasping the upright handle of a huge lever, which when pulled draws tie two bolte at once that support the drop, stood awaiting the dread sigual from tie Sheriff. ' In manus tuas commendo spiritum tneum,' prayed the Priest — tie Sheriff gave a nod, tie hangman drew the long handle towards him with a sudden jerk, the trapdoors swung back wards and downwards, and Conroy was launched into eternity. But not at once — No ! When tie unfortunate man fell he hung at tbe end of tie rope for a few seconds motionless, but then oegan to kick and struggle in a most frantic manner. For fully a quarter of an hour tie
desperate conflict between life and death continued, during which time tie convul sive sobs and gaspings of the hanging man were audible to all present. At last nature ;ave way, and Conroy yielded up tie ghost; but not until he had kicked off his left slipper in his struggles, and had bruised his wrists in tie ineffectual efforte he made to burst the manaf.les. Meanwhile Father Duff stood on the scaffold continu ing his earnest prayers on behalf of the departing soul, and by the time he bad concluded his orisons there hung at the end of tie rope only a lump of lifeless clay. For lie contre temps that occurred the officials were in no way to blame. Conroy was but a light weight, while his neck was a most muscular one — the thoratic einetve being unusually well developed. Under these circumstances a thinner rope than generally employed was used, and he was given a drop of six feet. This, with the fonr feet to which tbe rope stretched, gave him a fall in all of ten feet ; more than that could not have been safely allowed, as even then his feet were within a fen inches of the pavement when he
dropped. Still the unhappy fact remains tie wretched man's neck was aot. broken, but tiat he died from slow strangulation. The only redeeming feature of the case was that the severity of the shock must have deprived Conroy of consciousness, and therefore he felt no pain. Soon after- I wards tie corpse was cut down and placed in a handsome coffin, supplied by Mr. W. Wimbridge to the order of tie deceased's aunt, Mrs. Herbert. The coffin lid bore a plate with tie simple inscription 'William Conroy. Aged 30 years.'
Above that was a medallion of the Blessed Kedeemor, below which in letters of gold appeared the words 'For us He suffered.' and the whole was surmounted with a large metal crucifix. Subsequently a form al inquest into the death was held by the City Coroner (Mr. J. C. H. James, A.P.M.) and a jury composed of Messrs. K. Smith, S. Hymns and E. Stevenson ; when the usual verdict was returned of , ' Death ia accordance with the law.' The coffin was then removed for burial to Fremantle, and eo ended the last scene of tbe fatal Fre luantle Jubilee tragedy.