At 8 o’clock on Monday morning, 13 June 1887, Ellen Thomson was hanged at Her Majesty’s Brisbane Gaol for the murder of her husband. She is the only woman to be executed under Queensland law.
But did she receive a fair trial, and did she deserve the ultimate punishment?
Author Vashti Farrer’s latest book reveals a tropical Queensland alive with goldrush excitement, and the hard lives of pioneering communities in Port Douglas, from English immigrants to Chinese settlers, all looking to make a better life.
Into this world stepped a young widow, Ellen Thomson, who married an older farmer, Billy Thomson. After many years of working the farm on the Mossman River together, on the night of 22 October 1886, Billy Thomson was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head.
The book outlines events of that fateful night, the subsequent trial and executions and gives a fascinating insight into life at the time.
It also raises the question, was Ellen Thomson guilty beyond reasonable doubt?