Bev Russell, Guest Writer
Edited and illustrated for this website by Diane Oldman
Mary Ann Haynes was born in Perth on 22nd June 1866. Who could have predicted that her life would become one of tragedy and sadness? Her parents were Henry Benjamin Haynes, a convict and a tailor, who arrived in WA on the Palmerston on 10th February 1861 and Ann Clough. Ann had been baptised on 15th August 1831 at Newton Heath, Lancashire, daughter of Israel Clough and Sarah, nee Travis.
Henry was convicted of murdering Mary McGowan in the London Tavern, Aldershot, on 8th March 1859, by cutting her throat with a razor [Times:7]. He was a soldier in the 9th Regiment and had served in the Crimean War. It is thought he was mentally affected by this experience. He was convicted at Winchester in 1859 and transported for life to Western Australia. According to a report on the Perth Gaol execution that appeared in the Daily News Henry Haynes had been saved from the gallows in England on the grounds of insanity. The report states that he was saved in the nick of time as the reprieve came just as he was being pinioned. How true this is, is debatable, as reports in the London Times don’t mention this. Haynes was granted a Ticket of Leave in WA on 4th August 1861 and a Conditional Pardon on 16th August 1871.
Being a tailor by trade Haynes was employed to make suits for Governor John Stephen Hampton. Hampton was appointed Governor of WA on 28th February 1862. Ann Clough was a cook who also worked for Governor Hampton when she first arrived in the colony. Ann had sailed to WA on the Hastings arriving on 17th December 1864. It is thought Ann and Henry met through working for Governor Hampton and that Governor Hampton warned Ann not to marry Haynes as he felt that she “would be his next victim”; a warning that was to tum out to be correct.
Apart from committing larceny on one occasion and attempting suicide he appears to have led an honest, quiet life after arriving in WA. Henry Benjamin Haynes and Ann Clough were married in the Congregational Church in Perth on 9th August 1865.
Haynes worked for himself from a workshop in Goderich Street (Murray Street) in Perth. The family moved into a house in Wellington Street between Mackie (Pier) and Lord Streets with one room for his tailoring workshop. Later, a room at the front of the house was used as a small shop for Ann to sell home-made cakes and ginger beer [Purdue:31].
In 1866 a daughter, Mary Ann, was born, followed by Charles Henry in 1868 and George Robert in 1871. Unfortunately Haynes was constantly troubled by his past and his drinking problem only aggravated the delicate state of his mind. He was jailed for a month for stealing some cloth in order to make ends meet. After his release his drinking increased. He had become very argumentative and was jealous thinking Ann had had men in the house while he was serving his time.
On Saturday morning 13th October, 1883, Haynes took a suit of clothes he had made to the Adelaide Terrace residence of Alfred Burt with a bill for £1.14.0. He then went to the office of Frederick Spencer, the Chief Clerk of the Audit Office, where he picked up some clothes for minor repairs and cleaning. He reached home about 9 o’clock and there demanded money for a drink. Ann offered him coffee as it was still early in the morning, but Haynes was not satisfied and demanded beer [Purdue:31].
An argument ensued so Hayes picked up a hammer and hit Ann over the head several times. He then headed to the ‘Horse and Groom’ for a beer. On his way home he was waylaid by Constable Connor. The two continued on to the house where Haynes was arrested, after Connor assessed the situation. Ann died that night in hospital.
Soon after the first shipload of convicts arrived in WA in 1850, the Surveyor General, John Septimus Roe, selected a suitable site for the much needed new Perth Gaol on a slight rise on the corner of what are now Beaufort and Francis Streets. Plans for the building began in 1853 and when drawings were finally submitted in December of that year it was promptly cut back in size due to a shortage of money.
In 1854 tenders were sought, but when this was unsuccessful, work began on a subcontract basis commencing in 1855. Plans were altered on two more occasions. A newspaper article appeared reporting on two public executions and expressing the need for the completion of the Gaol so public executions may cease: While on the subject (of public executions) we cannot help expressing a hope that a portion of the new Perth Gaol may be appropriated to a fitting place of execution. If such an arrangement were carried out such spectacles we have here recorded would soon cease. [Inquirer:2].
On 19th June 1856 the work was completed. In May 1858 all prisoners were moved from Perth to the newly completed Fremantle Gaol. From then until 1875 the Perth Gaol was used as a depot for convicts and soon afterwards the gaol was handed back to the Colonial Government.
Henry Benjamin Haynes was hanged in the Perth Gaol on 23rd January 1884. His hanging was witnessed by Sheriff James Roe, a Justice of the Peace, Albert Woodbridge the gaoler and Alfred Robert Waylen Colonial Surgeon and Medical Officer of the Perth Prison. The Sheriff, in his statement to the Colonial Secretary wrote, I have the honour to inform you for the information of His Excellency the Governor, that Henry Benjamin Haynes, who was sentenced to death at the Criminal Sessions of the Supreme Court held at Perth on the 8th instant, for the murder of his wife, suffered the extreme penalty of the law this morning at eight o’clock in the Perth Gaol. Enclosed are the several certificates as required by the Act 84th Victoria No.15. Signed by James Roe, Sheriff.
A fairly graphic account of the execution appears in the Daily News of 24th January. Whilst in gaol Haynes was visited regularly by Reverend Dean Gegg and he eventually saw the error of his ways and spent the remainder of his time in religious contemplation.
On the day before his execution he was visited by Mary Ann and the boys; the last time they were to see their father alive. He said he would prefer to be hanged as otherwise he was facing a lifetime locked away and would be a source of trouble to all. The description of the execution states, The wretched man walked very firmly to the scaffold, and looked at everyone firmly in the face … the cap pulled over his face, and the noose adjusted around his neck, he tembled very violently. The Dean having read the usual prayers, shook the condemned man by the hand, and expressed a hoped that God would have mercy upon him; to which remark Haynes replied in a voice with emotion, “I hope so, Sir!” [Daily News: 3].
Henry requested that, after his execution, he be buried alongside Ann. His body was placed in the coffin provided by his children. This was conveyed to the cemetery in a hearse, with the children following behind as mourners and he was laid to rest beside Ann as he requested. Despite his cruelty he must have loved her. A memorial service had been held for Ann at St George’s Cathedral in Perth. She and Henry Benjamin are now buried together at St Bartholemew’s in East Perth.
Sadly, Mary Ann as a 16 year old, was present when her father murdered her mother and this was to change her iife forever. Who was to look after her brothers? Charles Henry was 15 and George Robert was only 12 years old. There was no trauma counselling in those days; no psychologists to help her overcome her grief or cope with the responsibility of being the ‘head of the household’. Her father was in jail so he was of no help. One has to wonder how she got through those tough times. At the time of the murder her brothers were away at work so they were not to see what happened.
Not only was Mary Ann having to look after the family, she had to give evidence at her father’s trial. The Supreme Court Criminal sitting for case number 1063, the
Crown against Henry Benjamin Haynes, took place on Wednesday 2nd January 1884. Part of Mary Ann’s evidence is as follows:
“A knock came at the door. I went to it – I left my father sitting on a sofa in the kitchen with his hands in his pockets and my mother had the hammer in her hand at
the Kerosene tin (She was about to open the tin). There were two hammers in the house; the other one was among my brother’s tools in the kitchen on the shelf.”
I found at the door a little girl named Tasker? – I gave her a pence worth of cakes and she went away – I closed the front door and just as I was closing the door I heard a scream – I went into the kitchen and I saw my mother just as you saw her lying in a pool of blood – I saw my father standing with a hammer in his hand against the fireplace. She was by the Kerosene tin – when I went into the shop she was stooping down holding the tin. When I was in the shop I did not hear my father or my mother speak nor did I hear any blows. I don’t think I was five minutes from the time I went into the shop til I heard the scream. I did not just then notice the state of the hammer.”
In 1886 the Convict Establishment was officially disbanded and Fremantle Prison was handed over to the Colonial Government.
A year later, at the age of 21, on 24th April 1887, Mary Ann married Benjamin Tolfrey Sweetman and they were to have seven children, six sons and one daughter:
Robert John in 1888
Franklin Joseph in 1889
Eunice in 1892
Percival (Paddy) in 1894
Ernest in 1897
Cecil Kitchener in t 900
Clarence in 1902.
Mary Ann became an alcoholic as she could never cope with what had happened to her mother. She could not forget the past and found life very hard as she was not a strong person.
In 1902, when her youngest son, Clarence, was three months old she put him on the bar of the Beaconsfield Hotel and tried to sell him for a beer. In 1904 it is thought Mary Ann was kicked out of the family home by Benjamin. He was not an easy man to live with. She would return to see her family only to be thrown out again. She would spend the night in the doorway of a shop down the road and her son Cecil would go to her with a blanket to cuddle her and keep her warm for the night.
Mary Ann Sweetman was arrested many times. Between February 1904 and January 1919 Mary Ann had been arrested approximately 129 times in either Fremantle or Perth. Most of the reports stated she was drunk and disorderly, sometimes it was for assault, creating a disturbance or obscene language and the length of her sentence ranged from twenty four hours to six months.
It was clear that Benjamin had told the family that Mary Ann was dead as her son, Ernest, entered that information on his army papers. However, this was not the case. It is sad to think that she spent the rest of her life roaming the streets of Perth and at one stage was living in a hut on Heirisson Island. These huts were run down and derelict so it is a wonder that she survived. Was she prostituting herself in order to survive? Interestingly her prison record does not show any instance of her being arrested for prostitution. On 28th February 1922 Mary Ann died in East Perth. It is thought she committed suicide, however, her death certificate states the cause of death as Gastro Enteritis and Exhaustion. Her children were never told of her death and Cecil recalls he first learnt of his mother’s death through reading it in the paper. Mary Ann was buried on 1st March 1922 in the Fremantle Cemetery.
Charles Henry appears not to have been affected by the tragedy as much as his older sister. He headed north, possibly to find work as a carpenter . On 23rd October 1894 he married Mary Prendergast at the Roman Catholic Church, Back Flats, Greenough.
Charles and Mary had three children:
Annie Mary Teresa in 1897,
Mary Ann in 1899 and
Charles Henry in 1902.
Legal Executions in Western Australia, Brian Purdue, Foundation Press, 1993.
London Times, 10th March 1859, p.7.
Daily News, 24th January 1884, p.3.
Inquirer, 25th April 1855, p.2.
Inquirer & Commercial News, 20th February 1861.
All Saints Parish Church, Newton Heath: Lancashire Online Parish Clerks website.
Governor John Stephen Hampton: WA Now and Then website.
Perth Gaol 1862: Alfred Hawes Stone, SLWA 6923B/137.
Notice of Inquest: Police Gazette, 30th January 1884.
Mary Ann Sweetman: Registers – Local Prisoners (Female) Series S678, Cons. 4186/1, 1897-1906.
West Australian, 17th February 1904.
Transportation Register for Palmerston, HO11-18-174, National Archives, Kew.
© Diane Oldman 2018