21 October 1864 – Alexander McLean

Today we head Down Under to New Zealand for our next date with death.

In McLean’s case, he was done for murdering his wife. She was shot, but he maintained until his death that the gun had gone off by mistake.

At McLean’s trial, the jury threatened to go on strike. Not that they wanted many creature comforts, but a few ‘blankets, beds or refreshments’ would have been nice, according to Robin Hyde’s book ‘Journalese’.

In the end, their complaints were heard and the judge presiding, Sir George Arney, actually paid their hotel bills out of his own pocket.

This open display of humanity didn’t soften the jury one bit. They chose to ignore McLean’s weak defence and found him guilty of bumping off his wife.

As a result, Alexander McLean was hanged in Auckland for the murder. His execution took place in private, just two years after they stopped carrying them out in public.

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