Crime in Richmond in the 1900*s

IN THE 1900’S
Olivia Millett
Many children in the 1900’s finished their
education at age 12, not going on to high
school. Children worked at a trade or on the
family farm to help out the family. This meant that
after 12 years old you were considered an adult
and had to work to support your family. In result
of having to become an adult so quickly some
believe that this was the cause of some crime
from young people in the 1900’s. They may have
felt trapped and therefore acted out by
committing a crime.
In the 1900’s, there was quite a lot of crime, like
there still is today. There were many different
crimes to be charged for, three examples are
assault, theft and murder. Crime in Richmond in
the 1900’s is not very different to crime today.
The same felonies are committed although
hopefully not as many murders in Richmond.
Martha Needle:
Martha Needle is well known for murdering four
people. Martha needle murdered her Husband,
her two children Elsie and May and her soon to be
brother in law to her new soon to be husband
Otto. Martha Needle murdered all of the victims
with rat poison, which she put in their food. She
was found guilty and was the last women
Squizzy Taylor:
Joseph Leslie Theodore (Squizzy) Taylor is well
known for many crimes in the 1900’s. Taylors first
known crime was assault which he was charged
with when he was 18. He also stole and murdered
many people and was sentenced to 6 months in
prison. He was later killed in a gun fight in 1927.
Martha was born near Morgan, South Australia in 1863, an attractive woman with a kindly disposition she grew up in a
violent and abusive household, and had shown signs of mental instability from an early age. At 17 she married Henry
Needle at North Adelaide and in 1882 gave birth to a daughter Mabel followed by Elsie in 1883 and May in 1885. The
family moved to the Melbourne suburb of Richmond in 1885.
On the 23rd of February 1885 little Mabel Needle died after a short illness. Martha stated that she " seemed to fade ".
Martha later collected 100 pounds life insurance on Mabel's death. Henry, who was insured for 200 pounds, died of a
mysterious illness on October 4, 1889, followed by Elsie in 1890 and May later that year. Doctors were baffled. Martha
spent almost all the insurance money on an elaborate family grave which she visited regularly.
Louis Juncken, a friend from Adelaide, operated a saddlery business with his brother Otto at 137 Bridge Road, Richmond
and in 1891 Martha sub-let the attached house and took in lodgers. Martha began an affair with Otto in 1893 but Louis
and his other brother Herman disapproved and attempted to prevent their engagement. The following year Louis
became ill and died of suspected typhoid. In June 1894 Herman travelled to Melbourne from Adelaide to handle his late
brother's affairs, he ate a meal prepared by Martha and suddenly became ill. He recovered but became ill again the
next day after eating breakfast. Two days later Herman had fully recovered but while eating lunch, prepared by Martha,
he was seized by painful violent cramps. Doctor Boyd treated Herman for suspected poisoning and took a sample of
Herman's vomit and sent it to the Government laboratory for analysis. The analyst reported that the sample contained rat
poisoning, arsenic.
Doctor Boyd informed the police of his suspicions and a trap was set, the police asked Hermann to ask Martha to make
lunch. After being served a cup of tea, Hermann literally "blew the whistle", summoning detectives who arrived as Martha
was struggling with Hermann to upset the tea cup, which was found to contain enough arsenic to kill five people.
Martha was charged with attempted murder. The body of Louis Juncken, interned in Lyndoch, South Australia was
exhumed and samples sent to Melbourne. The bodies of Henry Needle and the three girls, interned in Kew, were also
exhumed. All five bodies were found to contain fatal levels of arsenic and Martha was charged with the murders of all
five people. Pleading not guilty, the trial lasted three days, with Martha being found guilty and sentenced to death,
though she pleaded her innocence. Martha Needle was executed at 8.00am on 22 October 1894, she was Hanged.
Despite insisting her own innocence when asked for last words, Martha replied, "I have nothing to say."
Joseph Leslie Theodore (Squizzy) Taylor, , was born on the 29 th of June 1888 at Brighton, Victoria.
The family moved to Richmond where he came to the notice of the police. At 18 he was
convicted of assault. Other convictions followed, mainly on minor charges of theft.
Between 1913 and 1916 Taylor was linked to several more violent crimes including the murder and
robbery of Arthur Trotter, a commercial traveller, the burglary of the Melbourne Trades Hall, in
which a police constable was killed, and the murder of William Patrick Haines, a driver who
refused to participate in the hold-up of a bank manager at Bulleen. Taylor was tried for the
murder of Haines and found not guilty.
Although rarely convicted after 1917, Taylor remained a key figure in an increasingly violent and
wealthy underworld. His income came from armed robbery, prostitution, the sale of illegal liquor
and drugs, as well as from race-fixing.
Squizzy was involved in the 'Fitzroy vendetta' of 1919 in which several men were shot. Taylor was
among the principal figures in these gangland shootings. Charged under warrant in 1921 with
theft from a city bond store, he eluded the police for twelve months but gave himself up in 1922.
He was acquitted.
In 1923 the bank-manager Thomas Berriman was robbed and murdered at Glenferrie railway
station. Angus Murray and Richard Buckley were charged with the murder. Taylor faced charges
of aiding and abetting the crime, and of assisting Murray's escape from Pentridge prison. On both
counts he again escaped conviction. He was eventually found guilty of harbouring Murray and
sentenced to six months imprisonment.
On his release from prison Taylor continued thieving, but concentrated his efforts on race -tracks.
Involved in selling cocaine, he came into conflict with several Sydney gangsters. He was
wounded in a gunfight with one of them, John 'Snowy' Cutmore, at a house in Barkly Street,
Carlton, and died in St Vincent's Hospital, Fitzroy, on 27 October 1927.
Crime in the 1900’s is not that different
from todays crime and it effected the
people in the suburbs as much as it does
today. Some people felt it necessary to
move out of the area after a terrible
crime and that is still what happens to
this day. Crime may have effected some
family's and caused them to feel unsafe
in the area of Richmond and this caused
them to move to other suburbs
sometimes. There were approximately
20,000-30,000 people living in Richmond
in the early 1900’s. Crime did effect
society in the 1900’s like it still does today
and it is still being dealt in mostly the
same way.
By Olivia Millett
By Olivia Millett
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