Elizabeth Scott - The Shanty Keeper's Wife

We have assembled here information about the historical characters in the novel, which is a great many of them. Only the 'great and the good' merited photographs or sketches, so there are several very important players, including Elizabeth herself, for whom we have no likenesses.

Jack Bamford

The hangman. William ‘Jack’ Bamford a notorious criminal himself, executed 71 prisoners in his sixteen year career. Having lost an eye in a drunken brawl, his fearful appearance was seemingly appropriate to the grisly task he undertook. An instantaneous death was seen as the hallmark of a good executioner, later to earn Bamford a meritorious mention in the 1892 Hangman’s Manual as a ‘professional’.

Source: The Chronicles of Early Melbourne, Chapter XXIX, EXECUTIONS: pp394-396


Sheriff William Gore Brett

Sheriff Brett had experience in gaol administrations having been Deputy Sheriff in several bailiwicks where he had oversight of local gaols like Beechworth.

Source: From Pentonville to Pentridge Peter Lynn and George Armstrong 1996
Image source: Beechworth Court House


Alfred and George Chenery

Alfred Chenery (shown right) originally bought the Delatite run on the south side of Devil’s River (later the Delatite) with John Goodman.  The name Delatite came from the Aboriginal chief of the district’s lubra.

His brother, George Chenery, joined the partnership in 1851 replacing John Goodman.

As a Justice of the Peace, Shire Councillor, First President of the Hospital Board and Land Board Official. Alfred was "a gentleman who stood very high in the estimation of all who knew him foremost. He was valued amongst the early settlers as a manly and gentleman colonist.”

Sources: The Mansfield Guardian Newspaper Farewell Banquet 1882; Kilmore Free 6 June
Image source: Mansfield Historical Society Inc.

Superintendent Francis Cobham

Superintendent Francis McCrea Cobham joined the police on 1st January 1853 as a Sub-inspector.  Rapid promotions bought him to Benalla in 1858, a year later he was promoted to Superintendent 1st class, a position he held until he resigned in 1870.  All reports from the investigating Mansfield and Jamieson Police camps were forwarded to him.

Superintendent Cobham replied to Chief Commissioner Standish’s request in early 1861 to do something about Robert Scott:

‘I was informed of this man’s character by Mr. Chenery some time during the month of January and on his applying to the bench for a renewal of his refreshment licence it was refused him…’

Image source: Courtesy of Victorian Police Historical Unit

Julian Cross

Police Camp, Mansfield, 27 October 1863
Respecting the prisoners from Mansfield lately sentenced to death – Sergeant Moors reports as follows –

‘Julian Cross – a coloured man – little known of this prisoner. It is believed that he came to this Colony about twelve months ago. Six or seven months ago he was employed as cook by Mr McDiarmid near Mansfield, who considered him to be a very treacherous and vindictive man, he usually carried a knife in his belt or in his (knee) boot and on one occasion Mr McDiarmid horsewhipped him for drawing the knife or threatening to do so on another of the workmen.
After this he was a cook at one of the Jamieson Hotels and next he was employed by the late unfortunate Bob Scott.
He gave the following account of himself – He was born of a Portuguese Father and a Chinawoman on an island in the China Sea. He served several years on board a pirate ship (believed to be Spanish). He was afterwards serving on board French, American and British merchantmen until he was discharged from one of the latter on arriving in this Colony. He made some kind of a statement about having murdered his one brother because both were sweet on the same girl, but when spoken to by the police on this subject he neither affirmed nor denied it.’

Sir Charles Darling

On Friday 30th October, His Excellency Governor Darling, new to the Colony, presided over the Executive Council meeting which would consider the fates of the three prisoners. His Honor, Chief Justice Stawell vouchsafed his opinion that ‘he had no shadow of doubt of the guilt of the whole of the prisoners.’

Source PROV VA 2903 Executive Council, VPRS1080 /P0  Minutes of Executive Council, Unit 8
Image source: The State Library of Victoria

James Dellar

A friend of Davey Gedge’s from his jockey days, who became the postmaster at The Jamieson.

Claud Farie

Farie was born in Scotland in 1817 and arrived in Port Phillip in 1840. Described as a government officer and a pastoralist, Farie became Sheriff of Melbourne in 1852, a post he held until his death in 1870. He was considered to be a thorough disciplinarian, kind and unpretending and was held in high esteem.

Source: Illustrated Australian News Sept 10, 1870

Elias and Ellen Ellis

On 8th April 1863, Elias Ellis, drayman from Balmutten near Violet Town, was traveling with his wife Ellen to the Jamieson. Mr Ellis in his deposition remarked upon seeing Mrs Scott and the groom Gedge enter the stables at six o’clock on Wednesday morning.  A few days later, the Ellis’ were present on the night of Bob’s demise and were key witnesses at the inquest and, in the case of Mr Ellis, at the trial. Mrs Ellis was aged about 45 and Mr Ellis 43 at the time of the murder. Her final resting place is at Balmattum, located between Euroa and the district of Violet Town. Mrs Ellis, in a twist of fate, died of suffocation, inebriated, just two years later in 1865. Elias Ellis died in 1875.

Source: Deposition of Elias Ellis, Coroner’s Inquest at 11, Queen v Scott, Case 2, Unit 261 (1863), Criminal Trial Briefs VPRS 30/P/0, PROV



Ann Fitzwater nee Baker m 1 Thomas Luckett m 2 George Fitzwater

Elizabeth’s mother was born Ann Baker in Hersham, Surrey in 1814. She married Thomas Luckett , born 1817 in Oxford, in Sept 1836 and they lived in Twickenham near London. Four girls followed: Ann in 1837 (d 1907), Elizabeth 1840 (d 1863), Sarah 1842 (d 1860) and Louisa 1843 (d 1871).

Thomas, a bricklayer, died suddenly from an enlarged heart and fluid on the lungs in 1848, aged only 31.

Ann Luckett remarried in July 1850. Her second husband was George Fitzwater, described in the 1851 Census as a labourer. At the time, the family lived in Queens Square, Twickenham.

Ann died in 1859 aged 45. We have not yet been able to find any further trace of George in England.

Davey Gedge

Eight-year-old Gedge emigrated with his parents and three younger brothers from Shoreditch in England in December 1852. Initially the family went to the goldfields near Ballarat, but in his early teens Davey became an agricultural labourer and eventually moved on to Wallan where he trained as a jockey. Seeking further adventure, he and his friend James Dellar moved to the Mansfield area where Gedge joined the coach company, James A. Bevan and Co. in Victoria’s High Country - newly in the grip of gold fever - as a contract groom.

Police Camp, Mansfield, 27 October 1863
Respecting the prisoners from Mansfield lately sentenced to death - Sergeant Moors reports as follow -

‘David Gedge – a young and innocent looking lad is a native of London and came to this country about ten or twelve years ago with his parents [December 1852]. The latter and some other members of his family are now living in the Ballarat District and are believed to be respectable working people. His father is a quartz reefer supposed to be near Bunningyong. This prisoner was employed by Bevan and Co. Coach proprietors for about twelve months prior to the murder and before that he was employed by several Farmers in this locality and they are unanimous in giving him a good character. They say he was a thoroughly good and trustworthy boy, and so far as can be ascertained by the police, his character up to the circumstances of the murder was irreproachable.’

A petition for clemency for Davey was well supported by previous employers and men of import, but was refused. Similarly, his mother’s request to claim her son’s body after execution was also refused.

John and Edward Goodman

John Goodman (pictured right) arrived in the district of Port Phillip in 1848. He and and his brother Edward took over the Goorambat run which was to become Goomalibee.

In 1851 he obtained a seat in the new Victorian parliament for the district of Murray. In 1856 he joined the firm of C W Umphelby as a wine merchant. He died at his residence in Toorak on  16th April 1874 aged only 48.

Image source: Thomas Foster Chuck, 1826-1898, photographer.

George Govett

The initial  inquest was held at the shanty before Mr George Govett Esq., J.P. Mr Govett, aged thirty-seven at the time and a gentleman of some standing in the community. Govett held a run with Mr William Highett at Maindample near Mansfield.

Image source: Thomas Foster Chuck, 1826-1898, photographer. In collection: The explorers and early colonists of Victoria 1872

Duncan McDiarmid

McDiarmid employed Julian Cross in about 1862 and was said to have horsewhipped him for pulling a knife on another employee.

Mr and Mrs Hugh Middlemiss, Jane Middlemiss

The Middlemisses were the well-liked and hospitable owners of the Salutation Inn in Longford, a coaching stop on the Sydney Road. They had dealings with the Goodmans at Goomalibee.

Jane Middlemiss was married at Goomalibee the same day as Elizabeth and Bob Scott. The Chenery brothers were  her witnesses. Whether Jane was the daughter of the Middlemisses is not known but given the connections it appears likely there was some relationship.

George Milner-Stephen

Elizabeth’s defense barrister, Mr George Milner-Stephen (1812-1894) hailed from an illustrious administrative lineage and he himself enjoyed an early successful career in Sydney, Hobart and Adelaide where he married the daughter of Governor Hindmarsh. However, various scandals and odd behaviours had led him, by the time of the trial, to Beechworth. He later became a faith healer.

Source: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/stephen-george-milner-1294
Image source: The State Library of South Australia

John and Elizabeth Moors

Sgt John Moors was born in 1823 in England. He joined the Victorian Police Force in September 1857 and was appointed 2nd Class Sergeant in August 1858.  He was married for the second time in May 1862 to a recent emigrant Elizabeth Stewart at Beechworth.

Elizabeth was recorded as a publican and storekeeper in Mansfield on her death certificate in 1867 (at age 31).  Moors resigned from the police the following year and is recorded as the licensee  of the Star Hotel as at 1869.

Police in uniform ca 1860. Source: The Victorian Police Museum Archives

Doctor Reynolds

Dr Samuel Reynolds of Mansfield was sent for to perform the post-mortem examination for the inquest and gave evidence at the trial. He is commemorated with a drinking fountain in Mansfield, which reads:

Dr. Reynolds memorial A.D. 1902 Erected in memory of Samuel Reynolds, M.D. who died 15th February 1901.A friend of the poor. Esteemed by all

He also gave evidence at the trial of Ned Kelly in 1880.

Source of image: Colonial doctor and his town, Cypress Books, Melbourne



John Francis Scott; Thomas Scott

Elizabeth’s surviving boys. John Francis was born ca January 1856 at Delatite and died on the anniversary of his mother’s death, 11 November 1936 in Prahran, Melbourne. He never married. Thomas was born in Sept 1859 in Melbourne and died at Lilydale in 1879 of a fall from a horse.

Source: Victoria Police Inward Registered Correspondence

‘Two children, boys
John Francis and Thomas are ... made orphans by their mother with no heritage but infamy.’

Alexander Smyth

Alexander Smyth, the prosecutor, was born in Ireland in 1828. Called to the bar at Gray's Inn in 1859, he soon afterwards came to Victoria. In April 1861, he received his first official appointment as Crown prosecutor for the Circuit Courts of Bendigo, Castlemaine, and Maryborough. A year later Smyth went to Beechworth. After many years he rose to became a County Court judge but shortly returned to being a private barrister before again taking up his former role as a Crown prosecutor. An effective speaker, recognised as keen and ardent in his duties, Smyth was sought after for his legal knowledge, especially in criminal cases. He died in 1908.

Source: The State Library of Victoria

Rev William Singleton

Rev Singleton ‘arrived in Victoria in 1849, accompanied by Mrs Singleton, who survives him, and ten children. For eighteen years, he faithfully discharged the then arduous duties of incumbent to the parish of Kilmore, and the supervision of an immense district, including several hundreds of square miles, and when there were but few ministers in the diocese. Often, in the performance of what he esteemed the call of duty, he endured hard-ships as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, in visiting the unsettled districts, to make known the glorious gospel to a sparsely scattered population amid the mountains and forests, and often with no little danger to his life.’

Died Sun 13 June, age 73.

Source: The Church of England Messenger (Melbourne, Vic) 5 Aug 1875
Image source: The State Library of Victoria

Chief Commissioner Standish

Commissioner Standish penned a note on 11 February 1861 to Superintendent Frances Cobham stationed at Benalla asking him, on behalf of Mr Chenery of Mansfield, ‘to take the necessary steps to have him [Robert Scott] prosecuted first for the unauthorised occupations of Crown Land and secondly, if possible, for selling without a licence.’

Source: PROV VA 724 Victoria Police VPRS 937/P1, Inwards Registered Correspondence, Unit 45, File E126
Image source: Captain Standish from Royal Historical Society Victoria PH-970782

Sir William Stawell

‘Mr. Stawell came to the colony in 1842, and engaged in squatting pursuits in conjunction with his relative, Mr. J. R. L. V. Foster. He also practiced as a barrister in Melbourne. In 1851, when separation had been secured ... Mr. Stawell was created Attorney-General. In February, 1857 ... the office of Chief Justice of Victoria ... was conferred upon Mr. Stawell. .... As a judge, it may be said of Sir William Stawell that he was upright, impartial, and assiduous. This brilliant man died nearly 74 years of age on 14th March 1889, but not before he acquired the colloquial term of the Hanging Judge.’

Source: 'DEATH OF THE LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR.', The Argus 14 March 1889
Image source: The State Library of Victoria

Rev George Studdert and his sister Jane

'The Rev. George Studdert, a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, came to this diocese in 1853, and was appointed to the curacy of St. James', and after a short service there to the chaplaincy of the gaol, which last office he held till his death, which occurred on the 12th of last month, in his 64th year. His health had been very good till the beginning of this year, when he had a very alarming attack, from which he never recovered .... Mr. Studdert was a very amiable and benevolent man, and was much valued by many of those amongst whom he ministered, though a post such as his presented a great amount of very discouraging work. He had no children but he has left an aged sister, who ministered to him with entire devotedness, in utter destitution.’

Source: The Church of England Messenger, “Notes of the Month” No.60 Vol V, Melbourne September 4 1873 p1

George Wintle

'In January, 1838, there came from Sydney with the appointment of gaoler, a man possessed of special fitness for the post —assuredly the " right man in the right place." This was Mr. George Wintle, so well known for a series of years in Melbourne. Arriving in Sydney in 1836, he was nominated Superintendent of Hulks there, whence he was transferred to Melbourne. He was a good disciplinarian, punctual, patient, and persevering, and it was only the continued exercise of such qualities that enabled him to cope effectually with the hazardous responsibility assumed by him. As the keeper of three gaols in Melbourne, he passed successfully through ordeals undreamed of in the Colonial prisons of to-day, and was superannuated a few years ago, after a lengthened career of usefulness not exceeded in Victoria.’

Source: http://arrow.latrobe.edu.au/store/3/4/4/7/9/public/B12604185V1pages179-252.pdf
Image source: Portrait by A.T.E. Chuck Public Record Office Victoria

James Withers

 James Withers (1824-1906) born Somerset, UK died at Mansfield Victoria, and his wife Mary Trout (1819 -1897) came in 1852 on the Bombay and lived at Avenal then at Mansfield.

A descendant of Withers recalls him telling the story of seeing Elizabeth and Bob in Mansfield on the night of their marriage in December 1853.

Image source: Mansfield Historical Society Inc.