Elizabeth Scott - The Shanty Keeper's Wife

...a 'scarlet woman', 'who through her feminine wiles had led Gedge and Cross to their doom'.

The Star, 13 Nov 1863

Gentlemen of the jury, look at my client, is she the sort of person who would commit the murder of a man teetering on the verge of his grave? I think not.

George Milner-Stephen, Elizabeth’s defense barrister, at her trial Friday October 23 1863

His Honor addressed the prisoners in a solemn and impressive manner.

Ovens and Murray Advertiser  Murder Trial Saturday October 24 1863

Beechworth Gaol

Elizabeth was held here from the end of April 1863 until her trial on 23rd October that year. The prison was constructed in 1860  to replace a series of log huts encircled by a stockade. It remained in use until 2004.

Image source: courtesy of Bourke Museum

About four or five o’clock Gedge came to the dray and said to my husband, ‘I have a secret to tell you!’

 Ovens and Murray Advertiser, ‘Murder - Mrs Ellen Ellis interview’ Saturday October 24 1863

Chief Justice Sir William Stawell was the judge at Elizabeth's trial. His authority in the Supreme Court broadened via representative Circuit Courts held at provincial hubs such as Beechworth. Journalists frequented the rounds of the Circuit Courts, ink at the ready. Stawell found himself revered in The Ovens and Murray Advertiser, journalists respecting his high abilities, extraordinary acuteness and profound legal knowledge. Melbourne’s Punch also bowed to Stawell’s abilities, writing he was both strong and bold, choleric and impetuous and, ‘most tellingly, hated crooked ways.’

Image: Beechworth Historic Courthouse. Courtesy of TripAdvisor

 

 

At quarter-to-ten, it was already standing room only in the courtroom; the police were not allowing any more curious onlookers inside.

Beechworth Courthouse, where Elizabeth Scott, Julian Cross and David Gedge were tried and convicted of Bob Scott's murder.

The courthouse was built in 1858 and in service for 131 years. It still retains its original furniture and fittings. However, the design of this modern temple of justice - as it was in 1863 - did not accommodate the variations in inland temperature; the clerks found it hot in summer and cold in winter. The architect certainly had not experienced a muggy October day trapped inside the sandstone walls.

Beechworth Courthouse interior. Image courtesy of TripAdvisor

What was there in her conduct, but that of a tender wife watching her

sick husband’s bed till she was worn out with fatigue... ?

George Milner-Stephen, Elizabeth’s defense barrister, at her trial Friday October 23 1863

The jurors, drawn from a twenty-five mile radius of Beechworth, were landholders or small businessmen, men of substance occupying land assessed annually for rates of twenty-five pounds or leased land with a yearly rent of fifty-pounds or more. They were men used to being masters of their domain.

William Glover
Thomas Johns
George Harvey
John Fraser
John Ross
James Tilley
Christopher Kibble
Isaac Phillips
Charles Connor
John Connor
Henry Mellish
Edward Morgan

Had she been a conspirator, would she not have somehow looked grave and squeezed tears into her eyes?

George Milner-Stephen, Elizabeth’s defense barrister, at her trial Friday October 23 1863

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