Louisa Collins 1849 - 1889

Louisa Collins was the first woman executed in Darlinghurst Gaol and the last woman hanged in New South Wales. She had been convicted of murdering her husband, Michael Peter Collins by slowly poisoning him with arsenic. There was great interest in this case and it was widely publicised across the Colony. Louisa was also being accused of murdering her former husband, Charles Andrews, in order to obtain his life insurance. The all male jurors were instructed not to let this influence their final decision. (It would be hard to imagine how it would not influence the outcome!)

Public opinion was harsh and Louisa’s gender played a big part in her vilification. How could a woman who vowed to ‘love and cherish’ her husband, do such a thing? It was espoused how ‘every right-thinking person must feel that Louisa Collins, while she lived, reflected little credit on her sex. The very fact of a woman nursing with all the attention possible… watching the effects of her own wickedness is heart rending in the extreme’. Although many women ‘prayed’ for a reprieve for Louisa and explained she was a mother and therefore not ‘ready to die’, were reported as ‘somewhat amusing’ in the press. It was stated that she ‘proved herself an unworthy woman and wicked wife, and therefore could be of no possible good to her family’.[1]

His Honour, Chief Justice Darley stated,  "I hold out no hope of mercy for you on Earth". Louisa was hanged on 8 January 1889.

 

[1]The Terowie Enterprise, Friday 11 Jan. 1889, pp.2-3.

Photographic Description Books, (Darlinghurst Gaol).    2138. State Records Reels 5097-5106. Roll; 5103, State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood.

Photographic Description Books, (Darlinghurst Gaol). 2138. State Records Reels 5097-5106. Roll; 5103, State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood.