Cemetery, Port Douglas, Queensland by christopherlevy on Flickr.
From the Douglas Shire Historical Society’s website:
1887 Ellen Thomson became the only woman legally hanged in Queensland. She was sentenced over the murder of her husband, William Thomson, 24 years her senior, after increasingly violent confrontations. She proclaimed her innocence but her young handsome English ex-marine lover, John Harrison, was also convicted for the same crime. They were hanged in Boggo Road jail, Brisbane, and buried there.
Ellen, 11 years of age and her sister Mary, 9, arrived in Australia on the 6th of April 1858 on board the ship “Joshua”. The ship’s manifest lists their widowed mother Mary Lynch as a native of County Cork, Ireland. They would join her sister residing in Goulburn, N.S.W.
During the Palmer River gold rush in the early 1870’s, Ellen was known to be in Cooktown, widow of William Wood, and struggling to support her children.
Arriving in Port Douglas about 1878, Ellen commenced work as housekeeper to William Thomson who had selected a farm on the Mossman River. Ellen and Billy Thomson married in November of 1880 after the birth of a daughter, Helen.
By 1886 life was difficult. The marriage was strained, the children sent away.
The friendship of Ellen with a young marine deserter on the adjoining “Bonnie Doon” selection caused conflict.
That conflict would explode into murder and the execution of Ellen Thomson and John Harrison at Boggo Road Gaol, Brisbane on the 13th of June 1887.
On the eve of execution, Harrison confessed he alone shot and killed William Thomson in self-defence.
The admission came too late - the double execution proceeded!
The name of Ellen Thomson was written into history as the only woman ever hanged in Queensland.