John ARROW 1829-1859 and the Brutal Murder of Catherine Leary
John ARROW, was born at Bathurst on the 26 February 1829. He was the son of William Arrow 1802-1886 and Sarah BURTON 1814-1867.
William ARROW had been born in Albury, Surrey the son of John ARROW 1778-c1810 and Ann ATFIELD 1779-1845 William was sentenced to 7 years transported for 7 years for stealing a bottle of whisky and shooting game fowls belonging to "Weston Manor" Albury, Surrey.
He arrived on the vessel Hindostan in 1821 and was assigned to the church of England minister at Bathurst whom I believe was William HASSALL.
After receiving his ticket of leave William worked as a shoemaker at Kelso where he met and married Sarah BURTON in 1828.
Sarah was born in Albury, Surrey on the 24 December 1814, the daughter of James BURTON 1792-1856 and Elizabeth Hillyer 1795-1829. James had been transported in 1816 and Elizabeth and daughter Sarah followed him out here in 1819.
William ARROW took up a grant of 40 acres at O'Connell, in the Bathurst district, in 1836, where he built a house and they raised their fifteen children. His eldest son John took land further up on Mick's Mount.
The children of William ARROW and Sarah, nee BURTON:-
* 1.John Arrow 1829-1859 m. Sarah Ann CAMPBELL 1838-1884 in 1858
2. William Arrow 1831-1841
3. Anne Arrow 1833-1896 m. (1) Joseph FARNORTH in 1850 (2) Arthur Robert BURTON in 1854 (3) Matthew CONROY in 1882
4. Ellen Arrow 1834-1877 m. Michael William FARRELL 1815-1877 in 1851
5. George Arrow 1838-1921 m. Catherine McNAMARA 1847-1917 on the 30 April 1864.
6. James Arrow 1840-1915 m. Euphemia WALLACE 1835-1908 in 1867
7. Roland Arrow 1841-1866 m. Catherine FINES 1845-1942 in 1863
8. Samuel Godschall Arrow 1845-1910
9. Peter Arrow 1848-1901 m. Ann KITT 1857-1897 in 1878
10. William Arrow 1848-1905 m. Martha LAWRENCE on 23 January 1875
11. Sarah Arrow 1851-xxxx m. George F CLEMENT in 1869
12. Mary Arrow 1852-1899 m. Denis RUSHWORTH in 1871
13. Susannah Arrow 1854-1899 m. Richard HODGINS in 1871
14. Elizabeth Dinah Arrow 1858-1928 m. John James PEARSON 1851-1923 in 1875
*John ARROW married 24 year old Sarah Ann CAMPBELL 1838-1884 in Bathurst in 1858. John unhappy with this marriage and Sarah Ann rarely saw him.
The couple had no children and John left Bathurst soon after the marriage. Using the alias John HALL, he took a job as a labourer for Edward NICHOLLS at Summerhill near Orange. He moved in with Catherine LEARY and the couple were known as Mr.and Mrs.John HALL, husband and wife. Catherine gave birth to a daughter, she named Eliza.
The following year, on Tuesday the 22 March 1859 John ARROW was indicted for having on the 3rd. of December 1858 at Summer Hill in the Colony of New South Wales, wilfully and feloniously and with malice aforethought murdered Catherine LEARY
BATHURST CIRCUIT COURT TUESDAY 22ND MARCH 1859
(Before His Honor the Chief Justice )
John arrow was indicted for that he, on the third day of December 1858 at Summer Hill,
in the state of New South Wales, did willfully and feloneously and of his malice aforesought,
kill and murder one Catherine Leary. The prisoner pleaded not guilty and was defended by Mr. Dalley.
Attorney, Mr Wadeson.
On the evening of Friday the 3rd of December 1858 when doctor Henry WARREN entered a hut at Summerhill near Orange, New South Wales, he found half naked, laying on the floor partially hidden under a mattress, Catherine LEARY whom he knew as the prisoner's wife, as he had been treating Catherine over the past three weeks for another complaint.
On closer examination of the body Doctor WARREN determined she had been dead no more than two or three hours, as the body was quite warm. Her body was covered in bruises, some recent some older. Over the head and face there were a great many bruises and contusions. Several of her teeth had been knocked out, her nose was broken as was her jaw and her skull was fractured. Catherine Leary groaned, just once before she died.
The walls and floor of the hut were covered in blood. He saw an old gun barrel in the hut also covered
in blood which he deemed to be the murder weapon.
Dr Henry Warren deposed, I am legally qualified medical practitioner;
on the third day of December last I saw the dead body of a female in a
hut at Summerhill, near Orange.
When I first went to the hut, Mr. Thomas Finnerty, C. C.
of Orange was there and I saw the body of a female who I had known as
the wife of the prisoner at the bar ; I went into the inner room
of the hut, and saw a mattress on the floor,
when the mattress was removed I saw the
woman under it, she was nearly naked having
only a small bandage round the loins; she could
not have been long dead as the body was quite
warm. On examining the body externally I
found a great number of bruises upon it
some of them of recent date and others of longer
standing; on the head and face were several severe contusions,
the bridge of the nose was broken in, and the lower jaw was
broken on each side. The next morning I made a further
examination, and on dissecting back the scalp
of the head I found that all the muscles and integuments
were in one coagulated mass;
the skull was not fractured, but there was an
effusion on the brain, several of the teeth were
dislodged from the jaw, evidently by violence, as
the teeth were in the mouth;' 0n opening the
body I found the organs generally healthy;there
were several bruises on the body but none of
any great consequence; one, a bruise upon the
arm appeared to have been caused by a blow
with some heavy instrument ; I believe, indeed
I have not the slightest doubt that the woman
died in consequence of the injuries I have
described ; I discovered marks of blood on the
wall of the hut near the place where the body
was lying; the body was- on the bare floor and
covered with the mattress ; the deceased had
been confined five or six weeks before, and I had
attended her in her confinement, from the effects
of which she had recovered ; I saw an old gun
barrel in the hut and found same blood upon it,
(the gun barrel was here produced and identified)
there were no gun shot wounds in the body;
the woman would not have bee dead more than
two or three hours as the body was quite warm
when I first saw it.
Cross-examined by Mr. Didley : I attended
the deceased' during her confinement; on that
occasion the prisoner came for me some bours
before she was confined ; I visited her three or
four times after that, and the prisoner was
present once or twice while I was there, and he
appeared to be kind and attentive.
Although the evidence against John ARROW was circumstantial, the jury only took five minutes to pronounce him guilty.
John ARROW preserved a remarkably cool demeanour throughout the trial, not the slightest emotion having been exhibited by him even during the recital of the most shocking and most painful portions of the evidence.
When his honour sentenced John ARROW to hang and said. " May the Lord have mercy on your soul". John ARROW petulantly exclaimed, "God will have mercy on me." He was then removed from the court quite unconcerned for the awful situation in which he had been placed.
The afternoon of the murder John had been drinking at a nearby public house and Catherine LEARY went to the Inn and asked him to come home for his dinner. He ignored her the first time and she repeated the request. He then left the Inn and went home with her where they quarelled and he then bludgeoned her to death with the barrel of a gun, stripped her of her clothes and burnt them.
On the 11 May 1859 the day of execution a special train was dispatched for John ARROWS's wife and his family for their final farewell. According to The Sydney Morning Herald 100 people attended the execution and John Arrow confessed his guilt and acknowledged the justice of the sentence.
After the execution, the ARROW Family returned to O'Connell's Plain with John's body for burial on the family property.
Here is part of the description given by the Bathurst Free Press
14 May 1859
EXECUTION OF JOHN ARROW AND
THOMAS RYAN, alias WILLIAM MARTIN.
The last dread penalty of the law was carried
into execution upon these wretched men on
Wednesday morning, within the precincts of the
Gaol, in the presence of the Under Sheriff and
the other authorities required by the Act to be
witnesses of the terrible scene. A considerable
assemblage of persons, "adult freeholders," were
also present, probably numbering as many as one
hundred individuals. The hour of 9 a.m., had
been appointed for the execution, but the fatal
ceremony had not concluded until shortly after
10 o'clock. A large number of persons were
congregated outside the walls of the Gaol, and
we regret to add that the roof of the new
Wesleyan Chapel was occupied by several individuals,
who, anxious to obtain a sight of the
awful proceedings, had availed themselves of that
opportunity, to gratify their morbid feelings of
curiosity, without any sanction from the
authorities, and who, more than once, disturbed
the scene by their most unseasonable clamour
About half-past-9, the two prisoners, having
been previously pinioned in the interior of the
building, came forth into the yard; Arrow, who
was a young man, of good height, was extremely
pale, and appeared to be labouring under very
great exhaustion; his companion, Ryan, who
was of dimminutive stature and of most
unprepossessing appearance, did not seem to have
suffered so much from the confinement or the
anticipation of the terrible fate which lay
before him, and moved with considerable
activity. Arrow was attended by the Revds.
Thomas Sharp and G. M. Fox: Ryan by the
Very Reverend Dean Grant. On reaching the
scaffold, both criminals knelt, still attended by
their spiritual advisers, in front of the ghastly
machine of death, and were both entirely
absorbed in prayer for about half an hour. This
period was, we understand, somewhat unnecessarily
prolonged in consequence of an accidental
misunderstanding between the clergy present, as
to the exact time when their respective ministrations
were concluded. During this time
Arrow never once removed his eyes from the
scaffold, and the "strong man's agony" was
painfully evident to the spectators of the
sad scene, in the spasmodic motion of his hands
and limbs generally; Ryan made the responses
to the Litany for the dying with great fervour,
and seemed to desire to manifest by his gestures
his penitence and humiliation of soul. At
length, having shaken hands with those persons
nearest to them, the two unfortunate men
ascended the scaffold, accompanied by the
Dean and Mr. Sharpe; Arrow being so much
exhausted as to require assistance, while Ryan
mounted the steps entirely without aid. Immediately
on being placed under the fatal beam,
both commenced uttering the most earnest
supplications for mercy to the Throne of Grace,
and their heartrending cries fell most piteously
on the ears of the spectators. The clergy, having
commended their souls to the mercy of God, then
quitted the scaffold, and after a few moments
of most painful agitation, the bolt was
drawn, and the two wretched men speedily
ceased to exist. Arrow's struggles soon subsided,
but Ryan, whose frame was far more slender,
was convulsed for some minutes. And here a
most horrible scene presented itself; it was
immediately obvious to the by-standers that the
executioner had left the ropes several inches too
long, so that Arrow lay in a semi-recumbent
position on the ground, while Ryan's feet rested
on the earth; death having been evidently
caused by the violent jerk of the rope rather
than by suspension. This discovery elicited
the most unqualified expressions of disgust on the
part of all the bystanders against the Executioner.
We have since been informed
that it has always been customary to stretch the
ropes, and test them adequately with weights,
previous to their being used for their dreadful
purpose, a precaution which had evidently been
neglected on this occasion. We have surgical
authority, however, for believing that, happily,
the sufferings of these unfortunate men were in
all probability not in any wise increased or
prolonged by this circumstance, but we trust
that it will serve as a caution to the individual
who fills the unenviable post of public executioner
to make such arrangements as shall prevent the
recurrence of an accident of so shameful
and even barbarous a nature. Probably it was
intended, by making the scaffold of its present
altitude, to preclude the gratification of improper
curiosity on the part of persons on the outside of
the Gaol, but this defect might be easily obviated
on such melancholy occasions, by the temporary
removal of the soil beneath the machine, so as
to permit a sufficient fall from the platform.
After hanging the usual time, the bodies were
taken down and placed in coffins; Ryan's being
conveyed for interment to the Roman Catholic
Cemetery, while Arrow's was given up to his
relations, to be buried at O'Connell Plains, in
the same grave with some other members of his
As we have already stated, the clergy
have been most indefatigable in their ministrations
upon these unfortunate men, and had
spent the greater part of the preceding day,
and all the night with them, engaged in
religious exercises, and prayer, and we have good
reason to hope that their efforts were attended in
both instances with decided success. Both criminals
died in a most penitent state, and made
confessions of their commission of the crime laid
to their charge, accompanied by a request that
their confessions might be made public. We are
informed on the best authority, that Arrow
attributed his ignominious end, in the first
place to his defective religious education and the
obstacles to improvements which had been placed
in his way by his own kindred, and secondly, to
the fact of his estrangement from his wife, whom
he passionately loved, and with whom he had
hoped to live happily. This separation appears
to have caused an entire apathy to the consequences
of the state of life into which he then
plunged, and thus resulted in the horrible
tragedy which caused the forfeiture of his life.
On the day previous to the execution he was
visited by his parents and brothers, and considered
them most ???? advice, exhorting
them, by the example of his sad fate, to reform
their own lives. He also requested that a
devotional work which had been presented to
him by the Revd. T. Sharpe, should be given
to them, with a written message, dictated by
[??] in the above effect. It should be
observed that Arrow particularly stated that,
with some few trifling discrepancies as to time,
that all the witnesses on his trial, and especially
the boy Coomber, had given their evidence most
truthfully. Ryan also, in the presence of the
Sheriff, stated his sorrow for the crimes which he
had committed against God and against society,
and admitted the justice of his sentence. He
also requested that he might be permitted to
address the assemblage from the scaffold to this
effect, but the Dean, fearing that the excitement
resulting from such a procedure might disturb
his peace of mind at the awful moment of his
impending dissolution, dissuaded him from this
purpose, especially as he had alreaded stated this
to the Sheriff.
The newspapers at the time described it as one of the most savage and barbarous murders ever committed against a woman.
Catherine Leary had a daughter in 1858 she named Eliza. The infant died a month after her mother was killed whilst John Arrow was in gaol on the 5th January 1859 the death was registered at Orange.
The children of James BURTON and Elizabeth, nee HILLYER were:-
Sarah Burton 1814 1867
James Burton 1819 1868
Elizabeth Burton 1821
Elizabeth Burton 1823
Hannah Burton 1825 1912
Catherine Burton 1827 1876
1254/1858 ARROW JOHN CAMPBELL SARAH A BATHURST
1499/1863 ARROW ROWLAND FINES CATHERINE BATHURST
1457/1864 ARROW GEORGE MACNAMARA CATHERINE BATHURST
1457/1864 ARROW GEORGE MCNAMARA CATHERINE BATHURST
1553/1867 ARROW JAMES WALLACE EUPHEMIA BATHURST
1831/1875 ARROW WILLIAM LAWRENCE MARTHA BATHURST
2329/1878 ARROW PETER KITT ANNE BATHURST
V1850831 36B/1850 FARNORTH JOSEPH ARROW ANN OA
V1851467 97/1851 FARRELL MICHAEL ARROW ELLEN LG
1794/1869 CLEMENT GEORGE F ARROW SARAH BATHURST
1559/1871 HODGINS RICHARD ARROW SUSAN BATHURST
1562/1871 RUSHWORTH DENIS ARROW MAY BATHURST
1935/1875 PEARSON JOHN ARROW DINAH E BATHURST
WILLIAM ARROW 1848-1905
It was early in February in the year of 1904 that William Arrow was reported missing by his family. Advertisements appeared in all the newspapers and posted in the stores and inns across the state. An unsuccessful search was mounted.
At the time of his disappearance William owned a farming property at Yeoval valued around 2,000 pounds and another at Wellington valued around the same. He had several hundreds of pounds in fixed deposit. When he went missing he had a 100 pounds in his pocket. William was known to be eccentric and had spent some time twice previously in the asylum.
In June 1904 Martha Arrow, nee LAWRENCE successfully petitioned the court to release funds to appoint a manager for the properties and maintain the family, because of William's mental infirmity and the fact that he had been missing nearly five months.
Almost two years went by without a word on the whereabouts of William. Then, early one Thursday morning on the 21 September 1905 a Mr. Johnson, whilst hunting in the hills behind Yullundry Station discovered a skeleton. There was no clothing, save for a felt hat. The skeleton was declared to be that of William Arrow and it is that skeleton that lies in the grave of William Arrow at Yeoval
I don't know if he was robbed or died of exposure, the 100 pounds he had when he left home was not mentioned.
DENIS RUSHWORTH, The husband of Mary Arrow 1852-1899, in 1873 was thrown in Bathurst Gaol for ten months for stealing a cheque from his father-in-law, William Arrow.
Researched and Written by janilye 1990
* please note. In Australia up until only about forty years ago Australians had three meals a day namely, Breakfast, Dinner and Tea so when looking at records etc. Dinner was our midday meal and usually our main meal. It occurred between noon and 1:00pm