Tuesday, 22 May 2018


Behind this stylish image was a woman who divided the nation.. as  to her innocence or guilt... is it possible that she killed at least two husbands, possibly a third... and did she kill her five month old son?
In 1888, there was barely a week gone by from July to December, that the headlines weren't referring to Julia Collins... innocent or guilty?

Published in The Bulletin

Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931), Monday 16 July 1888, page 6
National Library of Australia  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article107326794

Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931), Monday 16 July 1888, page 6

Suspicious Deaths at Botany.


The City Coroner (.Mr. H. Shiell, J.P.) commenced an inquest at the South Sydney Morgue on Saturday, on the remains of a man named Charles Andrews and a child named John Collins as stated in Friday's Evening News, the bodies were exhumed for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not deceased died from poisoning. John Walters, employed by Mr. Kinsela, undertaker, deposed to burying the deceased Charles Andrews, aged about 53 years, on the 5th February, 1887, and the deceased John Collins, aged about 5 months, on the 22nd April, 1888. He believed them to be the husband and son of Louisa Collins, of Pople's-terrace, Botany road, Botany. In the presence of Sub-Inspector Hyam, acting under a warrant from the City Coroner, witness exhumed the bodies on Friday and conveyed them to the South Sydney Morgue. The coffins and remains viewed by the Coroner and jury that morning are the same. Dr. Martin, on affirmation, stated that on or about January 27, 1888, he was called about 8 o'clock in the evening to see a man named Charles Andrews, residing in Pople's Paddock, Botany. He then complained of severe pains in the stomach and constant vomiting, accompanied by diarrhoea. He prescribed a mixture to relieve the vomiting and the pain. He gave directions to his wife as to his diet, and asked her to let him know the next day how he was. About two days after a man named John George Osborne, who took the doctor out on the first visit, went to witness' residence and informed him that the vomiting still continued, and the doctor prescribed another medicine. Dr. Martin, continuing, said that on February 1, same year, he was again called to see Andrews, and found him in a very weak state. He said that he could keep nothing on his stomach, and that the pain still continued. Witness again prescribed for him, and the next day he was in formed of his death. During his illness witness entertained no suspicions as to his being poisoned, and he gave a certificate as to the cause of death being gastritis. Witness did not attend the child, John Collins, professionally ; but was called to see him on April 20, 1888, and on arrival found he was dead. Witness saw nothing on the body to lead him to think that death resulted from other than natural causes. The child showed signs of teething, and appeared to be a constitutionally delicate child. That morning, at the South Sydney Morgue, in conjunction with Dr. Knaggs, witness first examined the remains in the coffin, the lid of which bore the inscription of Charles Andrews. The body was in a considerably advanced stage of decomposition, they removed a portion of the lungs, both kidneys, and an undistinguishable mass of tissues from the abdomen, which included the stomach and portion of the smaller intestines. The kidneys and lungs were the only principal organs that could be distinctly recognised. All these were placed in three sealed jars and forwarded to Mr. Hamlet the Government Analyst. They then examined the remains of a child, in a coffin which bore the inscription of John Collins. This body was very much decomposed; in fact, more so than the other, which had been buried for about thirteen months. The lungs were the only organs clearly visible, and these, with a portion of the abdominal contents, were placed in a sealed jar, and forwarded with the others. By the Jury : Gastritis means inflammation of the lining of the stomach, and may be produced by many causes. Inspector Hyam deposed to receiving from Dr. Knaggs four glass jars which were properly sealed and contained human viscera, and handed them over to Mr. Hamlet, the Government Analyst. At this stage the inquest was adjourned till Monday morning, the 23rd inst., to allow of the viscera being analysed by the Government Analyst in the meantime, and also for the pro-duction of further evidence.

Louisa Collins pictured aged about 40 with her second husband, 23-year-old Michael Collins not long after their wedding by which time she was already pregnant with their child, a boy who only lasted five months before dying in strange circumstances and being buried under another name in a pauper's grave

Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), Monday 6 August 1888, page 9 (2)
National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article28344424

The inquiry concerning the deaths of Charles Andrews and John Collins, who were respectively husband and child of the woman Louisa Collins, was further continued on Saturday morning, at the Coroner's Court, Chancery-square, before the City Coroner (Mr. H. Sheill, J.P.). Louisa Collins appeared as on Friday. Alfred Newman, assistant custodian of wills in the department of the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court of Now South Wales, produced a document purporting to be the will of Charles Andrews on the 31st Janunry, 1887, and signed by John Stephen and William Farrer as witnesses. The Coroner, after reading the will, said it was evident that the will was not prepared by the deceased. The only part in the handwriting of the deceased was the signature.
Mrs. Collins : A man in the insurance office filled the will up.
Constable Jeffs, of Botany, stated that he knew the deceased, Charles Andrews ; on the 16th December, 1886 in the afternoon, Mrs. Andrews, the woman before the Court, went to the police station, Botany, and complained of her husband " fighting and rowing' with the boarders ;" witness went down that evening, to Popple's Paddock, to the residence of the deceased, and found everything quiet ; knocked at the door and got no answer; a neighbour named James Lawes made a statement to him ; the week after Andrews's death, witness went down to Popple's Paddock
to what he believed was the house in which the deceased had lived, and there saw several people dancing and singing; amongst the persons there was Louisa Collins ; witness saw Andrews about five days before he heard of his death.
Charles Sayers, residing at, Botany, stated he knew the deceased Charles Andrews, he was a man who enjoyed first class health ; he was not in the habit of drinking to excess ; first heard of his illness on the Saturday prior to his death, which took place on the following Wednesday ; went to his house on the morning of the day he died ; he was lying on a sofa in the front room ; he was conscious; in reply to witness he said, he was vomiting, and had pains in his stomach ; he said he had seen a doctor, and got some medicine for it, but he could not keep it on his stomach, and if he did not get better he thought he would die; witness cheered him as well as he could, but he heard of his death the same afternoon.
Mary Laws, residing at Popple's-terrace, Botany, stated that she knew the deceased, also Michael Peter Collins ; knew that the latter had been living in Andrew's house prior to the latter's death; witness once heard a quarrel between the two and Mrs. Andrews ; Andrews seemed very angry at Collins being in the house, and told him he had brought trouble on him (Andrews) and his family ; Collins had left previous to that quarrel, and was living at another house, but he called that day, and that gave rise to the trouble ; Mrs. Andrews had told witness that Andrews was jealous of Collins and her ; a few days after Andrews's death, Collins returned to the house; there was dancing the week following Andrews's death in an empty house in the terrace ; Mrs. Andrews and Collins were there; it was understood that the merrymaking was in celebration of the wedding of Mrs. Andrews and Collins, although they were not aware of any ceremony having taken place ; remembered the day Andrews died; on Wednesday, the 2nd February, a little girl went over to her house, and said that Mrs. Andrews wanted witness to go over, as Andrews was dead ; witness went over; it was only a minute or two after Andrews's death, and she saw Louisa Andrews ; she said " she was going to Sydney by the next tram, to let the insurance people know, and to the Savings Bank;" she went by the next tram.
Dr. M. Martin, recalled, said that taking into consideration the whole of the symptoms of the deceased, Charles Andrews, during life, and the fact that arsenic had been found in the remains by Mr. Hamlet, wilness was of opinion that the deceased died from inflammation of the lining membrane of the stomach and bowels ; caused in all probability by some irritant poison, gastritis was one of the results of arsenical poisoning, and even if arsenic had not been found in the remains witness would still have the same opinion as to the cause of his death, from the symptoms and from the well-known fact that arsenic may not be found in the bodies of those who have died from poisoning by that drug. During witness' attendance on the deceased he was struck with the idea that she had her eye on a second husband ; witness formed this opinion from her manner; she seemed indifferent as to the fate of the deceased ; believed he gave instructions that deceased was not to have beer; but found afterwards, that he had been getting beer; on the 1st of February witness saw Andrews, and there was nothing to lead him to suppose that he would have died so soon; heard of his death the next day ; witness ordered bismuth for him ; there was no arsenic in any of the drugs prescribed for the deceased.
Dr. Samuel Thomas Knaggs said having heard the evidence of Dr. M. Martin, he now believed that the vomiting was uncontrollable by the usual remedies; the symptoms which Dr. Martin had described the deceased Charles Andrews to be suffering from were those of " gastro enteritis, " and were also in common with symptoms often found in arsenical poisoning ; the uncontrollability of the symptoms by the usual remedies would indicate the presence of some irritant poison.
By the Coroner : Not finding traces of arsenic in the body after death was no evidence that death did not arise from arsenical poisoning ; there were cases recorded, where the poison was eliminated by vomiting and purging, and yet produced fatal results without leaving a trace behind ; taking into consideration the symptoms of the deceased (as described) during life, and the fact that traces of arsenic were found in his remains, witness was inclined to suspect arsenical poisoning.
Louisa Collins declined to call any evidence or to make a statement.
The Coroner, in summing up, said that the jury in considering their verdict, must exclude from their thoughts the child John Collins. He died from natural causes. lt was necessary in exhuming the body of Andrews to do the same with the child, and the chemical analysis demonstrated the fact that not a trace of poison was found in the body. In the case of the deceased Charles Andrews it was different. They were perfectly aware that the death of Michael Peter Collins led to this inquiry. In his case Dr. Martin was called in and held a consultation with Dr. Marshall, who was in attendance upon the deceased, and noticing that the symptoms were the same as in the case of Andrews, that led to the holding of this inquiry', and they must know that in the remains of Collins, nearly three grains of arsenic were found. That Charles Andrews died from arsenical poisoning, very few could doubt. Tho symptoms were these of arsenical poisoning. The fact that a small trace of arsenic only was found in his remains, afforded no evidence whatever that the deceased did not die from arsenical poisoning. There were cases recorded, as Dr. Knaggs had said, in which deaths were proved to have taken place from arsenical poisoning, and in a remarkably short time after death no traces of arsenic had been found. The poison (arsenic) was eliminated by vomiting and purging, and it found its way out of the system in that manner during life. If they were of the opinion that Charles Andrews died from arsenical poisoning, they would have to ask themselves by whom was the poison administered and who had an interest in giving the drug to him. The woman Louisa Collins, formerly Andrews, was the wife of Charles Andrews. She had her last husband living in the house with her when Andrews was alive, and Collins was expelled from the house, and, according to the evidence of the son, Arthur Andrews, his father was at that time in good health. They had further evidence to show that at that time Andrews was a hale and hearty man, and able to work 15 hours a day. This was within a few days of his death; and young Andrews had stated that within a few days of Collins being thrown out of the house his father became ill, the illness being a pain in the pit of the stomach. That continued up to his death; and very soon after his death a wedding feast followed.
They welcomed the new bride nnd bridegroom-viz., Louisa Andrews (now Collins) and Michael Peter Collins. Was there no suspicion in all that : On the 31st January, two days before his death, the deceased (Andrews) made a will, bequeathing everything he possessed to his wife. Of the
contents of that will Louisa Collins was perfectly aware. It was read to the witness in her presence. The question for determination was, whether the death of Charles Andrews caused by arsenical poisoning ? If so, by whom was the poison administered ; If they were of opinion that Louisa Collins administered that poison to her husband and thereby caused his death, they would have to return a verdict of murder against her. If not so satisfied, their verdict would have to be in the opposite direction, exonerating her. If they considered that the deceased did not die from arsenical poisoning, then they must return a verdict of death from natural causes ; but they must consider the fact that in a number of cases where death had taken place from arsenical poisoning, no traces had been found after death. The symptoms in this case were those of arsenical poisoning, and from the fact that arsenic had been found in the remains, how could they arrive at any conclusion other than that arsenic was the cause of his death.
After 10 minutes' deliberation, the jury returned a verdict as follows : " We find that the child John Collins died from natural causes. We find that Charles Andrews met his death by arsenical poisoning, and further, that the poison was administered by his wife, then Louisa Andrews, now Louisa Collins; and we further find that Louisa Collins is guilty of the wilful murder of her husband, Charles Andrews."
The Coronor, then committed Louisa Collins to Darlinghurst gaol, to stand her trial for the wilful murder of her husband, Charles Andrews.

Darlinghurst Gaol State Archives NSW

Sydney Morning Herald 
10 August 1888

Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931), Monday 10 December 1888, page 4
National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article108118623
The fourth trial...

There was a petition organised.....  
Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954), Friday 28 December 1888, page 2
National Library of Australia   http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article139043745

 Still, the press carried letters to the editor such as this... Evening News 24 Dec 1888

The petiton was unsuccessful...

Freeman's Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1932), Saturday 12 January 1889, page 8
National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article115380911


My interest in this woman began when I came across this once more, just one of many in the NSW  Gallery of Crime and Punishment

Weekly Times Melbourne Sat 12 Jan 1889

If you would like to read more about her, you may like to read...
Black Widow - the true story of Australia's first female serial killer, 
by Carol Baxter, Allen & Unwin, is available from all major bookshops or online

Tuesday, 15 May 2018


Rushcutter’s Bay 
Photograph taken before the spire of St Mark's Church was added in 1875 (top left) from the collections of the State Library of New South Wales.

 As a lover of history, I find it's always fascinating to read of how places were, how they evolved and search to see if there is anything that seems the same today... I wonder how much you will find that is at least vaguely familiar... please feel free to leave a comment.


Truth (Brisbane, Qld. : 1900 - 1954), Sunday 12 April 1908, page 9
National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article206479807

N.B. You may have to go to View ( on your top bar) and zoom in if these are difficult to read.

Both Above
General view of Sydney about 1795

Horse buses outside the old Sydney Railway Station, corner of Devonshire and George streets 1895


 MRS J E FOSTER photographing graves Devonshire Street cemetery, c.1901 [rahs foster glass slide collection]  https://www.rahs.org.au/devonshire-street-cemetery-digital/

Truth (Brisbane, Qld. : 1900 - 1954), Sunday 14 April 1901, page 7 (3)
National Library of Australia

Tomb of Queen Gooseberry of the Sydney Tribe of Aborigines showing the old Sydney Railway Station in the background c1900
By George J Reeve From the collections of the State Library of New South Wales [a1555001 / PXE 1296]  (Mitchell Library)

Devonshire Street Cemetery, Sydney Dated: 1902 Digital ID: 17420_a014_a0140000258 Rights: www.records.nsw.gov.au/

Demolishing the old Devonshire St Cemetery for the new Central Railway Station c1900  https://dictionaryofsydney.org/media/4502
From the collections of the State Library of New South Wales [a7124010 / DL PXX 72]  (Dixson Library)

Image of cross in cemetery courtesy of Pixabay

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Tuesday, 8 May 2018


general photo courtesy Pixabay.


Ever since I was a small girl, I've had a fascination with cemeteries... I can't say I was ever worried by them, or scared, or even repulsed as some are. To me, they were peaceful places, places to remember loved ones and places of history...

I was only five when my beloved grandfather died and I could never have born his loss if I hadn't had a place to go to talk to him, to tell him about the flowers I grew and the very first time I grew a tomato, all by myself. It was Papauli (grandfather) who encouraged me to grow things. He taught me how to dry the seeds, not too much mind you, just enough to make them still able to grow... but I diverse.

My Aunt Mary used to take me with her when she put flowers on his grave and we would weed around it. Then after a while, we would visit most of the others in the cemetery and Aunt would explain who they were and tell me whether they still had family in town. I came to know a lot more about people around me as I grew older, but still remember the stories she told me.

 I guess that had a lot to do with what I do today, discover history through gravestones... as a family historian and writer. Of course, the Greeks had a word for such a thing, don't they always... The word 'taphophile', taken from the Greek, means “to love graves."

 Cemeteries and the care of them have been the topic of discussion for all time... in the following publication, the writer complains about the depth of graves and the drainage... as well as the odour.

Eastern Districts Chronicle (York, WA : 1877 - 1927), Saturday 1 March 1879, page 2

As early as 1900, there were calls for a rethink on a proposed cemetery, as the hard clay wasn't suitable on one site...

The Argus Melbourne  8 Sep 1900

.. while Mudgee Cemetery in NSW was suffering neglect
Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative (NSW : 1890 - 1954), Friday 13 April 1900, page 7
 Click to enlarge...

Not Mudgee.. general photo courtesy Pixabay.

Strong guidelines were declared in Western Australia in 1904..

Kalgoorlie Western Argus 18 Oct 1904

general photo courtesy Pixabay.

Complaints continued over time...
Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 - 1950), Wednesday 31 July 1946
The residents of Parramatta weren't too happy with the lack of maintenance of the cemetery.


There are so many different traditions in cemeteries around the world... I have written about some here... very much a work in progress.. 

Jewish tombs in Poland courtesy of Pixabay

The Jewish faith for instance, seems mostly known for the placing of stones on the gravestone... it is a way of saying someone has visited, someone remembers... you can read more about the many other traditions here..

Courtesy of Pixabay

In Salzburg, Austria, there are many graves with signs like these, 
but there also tombs and gravestones...
These are some examples in the 
cemetery of the monastery St. Peter...

Courtesy of PxHere
and gardens..
Courtesy of PxHere
Then again, sometimes cemeteries were used in a more curious manner...

Cemeteries come in all manner of guises...some are old and sad..

courtesy of Pixabay

Some are old and majestic and still not forgotten as in this one, on the Isle Of Skye, Scotland...

courtesy of Pixabay

Others are quite well looked after, as far as the surrounds  are concerned, but the  headstones have been left to decay and be no longer legible.

courtesy of Pixabay

There are some strange or curious or unusual headstones as in these...

courtesy of Pixabay

courtesy of Pixabay

Some are beautiful, but 
maybe too ornate for today's budget or likes.. and maybe, just too sad.. as is this one in Genoa.

Whether you love wandering through cemeteries simply because they are peaceful, or only when you attend a funeral, or to glean as much history as possible as in this beautiful Irish cemetery, Glasnevin, in Dublin... 

courtesy of Pixabay

.. there will always be cemeteries of one kind or another. Some faiths prefer cremation, others forbid it; some like lawn graves with plaques, some like tombstones; some want memorial stones or niches with ashes beneath or behind... others would rather their ashes be scattered to the winds... It really is such a personal choice, but the main thing we almost all want is to be remembered in the hearts of our loved ones.

Courtesy of Pixabay, words added.