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Alexander Green, one of 172 convicts transported on the Countess of Harcourt, 16 March 1824
Name, Aliases & Gender
||Sander Grein, Sander Grijn
Birth, Occupation & Death
|Date of Birth:
|Date of Death:
life span was 58 years*
* Median life span based on contributions
Conviction & Transportation
Sentenced to Life
||Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 88, Class and Piece Number HO11/5, Page Number 120
||This record is one of the entries in the British convict transportation registers 1787-1867 database compiled by State Library of Queensland from British Home Office (HO) records which are available on microfilm as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project.
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Eric Harry Daly on 22nd December, 2012 wrote:
Alexander Green was born 1803 and Christened 24 Jul 1803 in Westmaas, Zuid, Holland, Nederland
The son of Gijbert Grein and Bastiaantje Van Driel.
Alexander Green, flogger and public executioner, was born in the Netherlands, son of a travelling circus performer. At Shrewsbury Quarter Sessions on 16 January 1824 he was sentenced to be ‘transported for the term of his natural life’ for stealing a ‘piece of brown stuff from a shop’. His indent read: ‘Native Place: Holland; Calling: Tumbler; Age: 22; Height: 5 ft 4½ ins [163.8 cm]; Complexion: Pale, pitted; Hair: Flax; Eyes: Lt Blue’. He reached Sydney in the Countess of Harcourt on 12 July 1824.
Lodged in Hyde Park barracks, Green was assigned briefly to William Hutchinson, then Samuel Marsden. He received a conditional pardon in May 1825, worked intermittently as an official scourger at the barracks and Sydney gaol, as a labourer and honorary constable at Port Stephens, and eventually as assistant to Harry Stain, the hangman. When Stain died in January 1828 Green became public executioner of Sydney Town and the colony of New South Wales at £15 14s. 2d. per annum plus accommodation within Sydney gaol.
Over the next twenty-seven years Green officiated at the public execution of almost 490 people, including six women. More than 70 per cent of these were carried out in his first ten years, when harsh penal policies prevailed: under Governor Darling he hanged 170 people in 3 years 10 months, under Bourke 183 in 6 years. But under Gipps it was 10 in 8 years and under FitzRoy 27 in 8 years 6 months. The last, shortly after Denison arrived in January 1855, was the first under the Act banning public executions.
Most of Green’s hangings were carried out at the rear of Sydney gaol, on a high, wooden platform visible to crowds in the Rocks. On thirty-seven occasions, almost all before 1840, four or more prisoners were executed together, the largest group being eleven men in October 1828. Other notable executions were of ten bushrangers in Bathurst in November 1830, thirteen convict mutineers over two days on Norfolk Island in September 1834, seven stockmen hanged in December 1838 for the Myall Creek massacre and the Aborigines Broger and Dundalli.
In classic ‘Bloody Code’ tradition, thirty-two of those executed by Green had their bodies ‘given over for dissection’, to be ‘anatomised’ by the surgeons. The bodies of two men executed at Goulburn Plains in November 1831 were ‘hung in chains’, until Bourke ordered their burial in 1833. Despite several ‘botched’ executions, ‘the finisher of the law’ appears to have been a competent hangman. He was strong, and skilled with ropes and mechanical drops and at assessing his victims. Notwithstanding occasional reports that prisoners ‘died hard’, or that Green swaggered and strutted, most executions went off routinely.
Green associated with warders, criminals, ex-convicts and the lower orders generally. He had several minor brushes with the law, some of which involved incidents with women, but apparently he never married. He was instantly recognizable, having a livid scar down the side of his face, the result of an axe attack by a prisoner in December 1830. On 26 January 1831, his original sentence having been commuted to seven years, he became free. With the opening of Darlinghurst gaol in July 1841, Green moved into a small tenement on ground later known as Green Park, though whether it was named after him or an alderman is not clear. Most executions were now outside the main gate, the most famous being that of John Knatchbull in February 1844.
From the mid-1840s Green, by now earning just over £60 a year, was in growing disfavour with the authorities for intoxication, insolence and mental instability. In early May 1855 the colonial secretary (Sir) Edward Deas Thomson ordered him committed to the Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum. Nothing further is known; the relevant records are missing.
Convict Changes History
Eric Harry Daly on 22nd December, 2012 made the following changes:
alias1, alias2, date of birth 1803, gender, occupation, crime