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William Curran

William Curran, one of 260 convicts transported on the Adelaide, 16 April 1855

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: William Curran
Aliases: none
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: -
Occupation: Soldier
Date of Death: -
Age: -

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 60 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to Life

Crime: Murder
Convicted at: Guernsey. Court Royal Guernsey
Sentence term: Life
Ship: Adelaide
Departure date: 16th April, 1855
Arrival date: 18th July, 1855
Place of arrival Western Australia
Passenger manifest Travelled with 260 other convicts


Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 93, Class and Piece Number HO11/18, Page Number 149 (76)
Source description: This record is one of the entries in the British convict transportation registers 1787-1867 database compiled by State Library of Queensland from British Home Office (HO) records which are available on microfilm as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project.

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Community Contributions

Keith Pike on 20th May, 2013 wrote:


9TH MAY 1853

Suspicious death - An Irish woman named Curran residing on the Glatney Esplanade died suddenly at an early hour this morning. Death being ascribed to the ill-treatment of her husband who is a military out pensioner. Assistant Constable Brown was called by a neighbour of the deceased, on the night of Saturday, to appease the violence of William Curran, the husband who was alleged to have ill-treated her. On Mr Brown’s arrival, the wife ignored the reason of his having been sent for and protested that her husband had not in any way molested her. This morning however information was sent to the constable that the woman had died during the night, and on his repairing to the room occupied by Curran, he found the fact to be as represented. The corpse we hear, presented marks of violence. An enquiry was there upon instructed by the Court with closed doors, and Mr Collenette, Surgeon, and Dr Cockburn were directed to perform a post-mortem examination, with a view to ascertain the cause of death, the inquest being mean while adjourned until tomorrow morning. It having been represented to the Court that Curran was intoxicated, in which state he had been since Friday last, Mr Brown was directed to convey him to prison to await the result of the investigation.

12TH MAY 1853

The late suspicious death – The inquest on the body of Mrs Curran was resumed on Tuesday last. When the Court after hearing medical and other evidence, proceeded to examine the corpse, in a house in Salter Street: The investigation however was again adjourned to this day when it was re-opened at about 2 o’clock; but the private examination has not yet terminated, at 5 o’clock.

16TH MAY 1853

The late suspicious death – The investigation into the death of Mary Donavon, wife of William Curran, which was again adjourned at a late hour on Thursday evening, and came to a conclusion on Friday afternoon, has resolved itself into an accusation of homicide against the husband, who has been committed for trial. The act of committal recites that the prisoner, not having the fear of God before his eyes, did feloniously slay and murder Mary Donovan, his wife: having from the 6th to the 9th May instant in an apartment occupied by him in the house No 47 Glatney Esplanade, on one or more than one occasion violently struck, beaten and maltreated the said Donovan, and kicked her in the sides, back and stomach: and the said Donovan having died in the aforesaid apartment during the night from the 8th to the 9th instant, such death having been accelerated by the blows and maltreatment she received from the prisoner. Curran who is about 43 years of age, is a discharged soldier on rolled in the local corps of pensioners, and a native of Kilkenny. He was produced before the Royal Court on Saturday, for the purpose of answering to an indictment for murder and choosing counsel, but for some unexplained reason was re-conducted to prison without these forms being gone through.

7TH JUNE 1853

William Curran, aged about 45, of Dungarvon, in the County of Kilkenny, Ireland, formerly a Private in the 97th Regiment of Foot, and now a pensioner residing in this Island, was indicted on a charge of having between the 8th and 9th of May 1853 in an apartment occupied by him in a house situated on the Glatney Esplanade, in the parish of St Peter Port, on one or more occasions, feloniously struck, beaten, and ill-treated Mary Donovan, his wife, and kicked her on the sides, back, and stomach, she being at the time in a dangerous state of illness, the said Donovan having died in the said apartment during the night of the 8th – 9th May, and her death having been accelerated by the blows and ill treatment she received from the said William Curran.
The prisoner had pleaded not guilty, and on his examination had denied having struck his wife excepting once – namely, on the evening of Friday, the 9th of May – when, after having received blows from her he struck her face with his hat, thereby giving her a black eye, and stated that the other injuries she had sustained had been caused by her falling over some stones in the yard attached to the house in which they resided when she was in a state of intoxication.
The Queens Procureur having stated the case for the prosecution, the following witnesses were examined _ John Goubey and wife, Kelly and wife, Mary and Eliza Kelly, (the whole of whom reside in the same house as the prisoner). Mrs O’Brien, Mr Brown, Assistant Constable and Mr B Collenette and Dr Cockburn, Surgeons.
The prisoner, who belongs to the Enrolled Local Company of Pensioners in this Island, had, with his wife and child – a boy of about fifteen months – resided for several months in a room in a house at Glatney Esplanade, in the first week of May, the Pensioners being called out for their periodical drill, the prisoner attended duty several days, on Wednesday, the 4th, the deceased was observed to have a black eye, which she said had been given to her by the prisoner, and which he though present, did not deny. On the following Friday, the pensioners being paid, the prisoner received about £3, upon the strength of which he and his wife, both of whom, and especially the latter, were addicted to drink, made an orgie in the room of Mrs Kelly, where they remained till from two to four o’clock on the following morning, when both returned to their room drunk. A few hours after, in the same morning (Saturday), Curran had his breakfast in Kelly’s room, where his wife joined him, although she did not eat. At that time she was not sober. The deceased went out for a short time, and afterwards coming back again much intoxicated, without any apparent provocation struck her husband, who, in return, struck her on the face or head with his hat. Curran and his wife then left Kelly’s room, and shortly afterwards, between eleven o’clock and noon, the prisoner was seen pushing his wife into their own room, she being apparently scarcely able to stand, and he having his hand on the knot of her hair. Shortly after Mrs O’Brien, who was in the house, heard the deceased exclaiming “Leave me alone,” but as she did not enter the room she did not know the cause of this cry. About noon Mary Kelly entered the room where the prisoner and his wife were sitting, he either asleep of stupefied with liquor. About the same time Mr Le Cheminant a Baker, to whom the prisoner owed about 30s for bread, went into the room and demanded payment. At first the deceased said she had no money, but on Le Cheminant pressing for payment she put her hand into her husband’s pocket and took out a sovereign and some change, part of which she gave to Le Cheminant, who thereupon departed. Upon rousing up the prisoner discovered that his money was gone, and being still under the influence of drink, and without giving himself time to make enquiry, he hastened off to Mr Brown, Assistant Constable, to lay a charge against O’Brian of having robbed him. On Curran’s return with Mr Brown the deceased said that it was not O’Brian, but herself, who had taken the money. Much pains was taken in elucidating this part of the case, and in fixing the time at which the abstraction of the money took place, as the whole of the subsequent acts of violence with which the prisoner was charged appeared to be traceable to this circumstance. After this incident the deceased laid down on her bed, having then no other visible mark of violence than the black eye; and the prisoner went out, in the afternoon Mary Kelly saw the prisoner returning, and she gave notice to his wife, and made her get up from the bed. On the prisoner entering some altercation took place between him and his wife, and shortly afterwards Mary Kelly heard cries proceeding from their room, but the door being locked, she could not enter. In a short time she heard the cry of “Murder,” and again went to the door being glazed, she looked through, and saw the deceased, whom she had left clothed in the usual manner, lying on the floor completely naked, the prisoner stooping down beside her with one hand on her person, and the other lifted in the air, exclaiming. “Are you going to give me my money?” this was about four o’clock in the afternoon, and Mrs Kelly returning home at this time, and learning from her daughter what was going on in Curran’s room, went to the door, which was still locked, and, looking through the glass, saw the woman sitting on the floor naked, and Curran lying on the bed. The deceased observed the witness looking at her, and cried out “Curran, you have kicked the belly out of me. See Mrs Kelly, how he has kicked and skinned me all over.” At the same time showing marks on various parts of her body. Mrs Kelly, thinking the matter serious, sent for Mr Brown, the Assistant Constable, who after some unavoidable delay, went to the house. On entering Curran’s room he found the deceased sitting wrapped in a sheet, and the woman, on being questioned by him said, “There is nothing the matter; my husband is not ill-using me; there he is asleep.” Having received this assurance, and having been several times called on before to appease quarrels between the deceased and the prisoner, Mr Brown concluded that this was a similar affair, and took his departure. Shortly afterwards Mary Kelly returned to the room and again formed the deceased lying on the floor without her clothes, which she said her husband had torn off her – a statement was corroborated by the room being strewn with fragments of clothing. This was about six o’clock on Saturday evening. And from that time the deceased never quitted the room. Early on Sunday morning Mary Kelly went into the deceased’s room. She was lying on the bed naked and appeared very ill, accusing her husband of being the cause of her suffering, and expressing a wish to see a priest – all the parties being Roman Catholics. At a subsequent period of the forenoon the prisoner was crying and saying that his wife was very ill, but he had seen her worse. Still the prisoner continued drinking, and a short time afterwards, he being then drunk, he called on O’Brien, whose wife, on hearing of the deceased’s state, went to see her, when the latter said she had been kicked by her husband in various parts, and especially on the right hip, showing the witness the marks. Mrs Kelly was then called into the room, when, for the first time, she saw the second black eye, one eye only having been black on the Saturday night. On Mrs O’Brien returning to her home, where the prisoner still was, she said to him, “Your wife is very bad – you have killed her:” to which he replied “Oh no: no such luck.” At half-past twelve Mary Kelly, who had been to the Roman Catholic Chapel, returned home, and went into Curran’s room, when the deceased complained much of her sufferings, and said that the prisoner had struck her because she could not get up to prepare his dinner. The prisoner, who was then present and heard what was said, made no reply. At about seven o’clock the same evening the prisoner went into Mrs Kelly’s room. The latter said that his wife was very ill, and that he ought to be ashamed of himself to treat her as he had done. He replied, “She is not half so bad as she deserves – give her some gin – she has got the horrors.” On his being told that his wife would die from his ill- usage, he said, “No such luck as that the devil should take her.” At a still later hour he was heard to say to his wife, according to one witness, “If you take my money again I will warm the wax of your ears;” but, according to another, “I will warm the wax of your ears to-morrow, and teach you that you are not to touch my money.” In the course of the day some of the women took tea and water to the deceased, but she was too weak to swallow it. On the following morning (Monday), at about three o’clock, the prisoner was heard crying out in the yard of the house, “My wife is dead! My wife is dead!” Mrs Kelly immediately rose and went to the prisoner’s room, where she found his wife lying on the bed cold and stiff, the prisoner saying that he had seen her expire. Mrs Kelly and Mrs O’Brien, who washed the body and laid it out, deposed that it bore many bruises and other marks of violence.
Mr Benjamin Collenette, Surgeon, deposed follows: - On Monday, the 9th of May, Dr Cockburn and myself examined the corpse of the deceased. We found the corpse to be that of a tall woman, five feet nine inches in height and in appearance about forty five years of age, and of a spare habit of body. She was laid on a board on her back, and naked, being covered over with a sheet. The eye-lids, which were closed, and all around both sockets, bore the usual appearance called “black eyes”; the discolouration around the left eye being less marked than that around the right. The left black eye had existed probably some four or five days previous to death; whilst that on the right side was of more recent date, having probably been inflicted not more than a few hours before death. Over the right eyebrow there was a still more recent discolouration, dating probably not more than five or six hours. The skin had been knocked off the left side of the bridge of the nose, and likewise from near the outer angle of the left edge. The pupils of the eye were fully dilated, and from the mouth issued a dark green fluid, somewhat resembling a stale infusion of coffee, and highly impregnated with the odour of spirits. The countenance was placid, the surface of the body cold, and the limbs but slightly contacted. The arms, legs, and body exhibited several marks of old bruises, and likewise several of a more recent date; no fewer than ten of these latter appearing to have been received within forty-eight hours of the death. The worst and largest of these were situated on the left shoulder, on the left side of the spine near the sacrum; and three, the most recent, on the right hip. These latter must have been received but a few hours before death. There were no further marks of violence, except a very faint and almost imperceptible discolouration in the centre of the abdomen- a little to the left, and about half an inch below the navel. The head was covered with a plentiful supply of long black hair; having removed which, we carefully examined the scalp, but did not perceive any external marks or bruises, except a faint one, over the right ear. On cutting through the scalp, which was very thick and strong, and laying the skull bare, we found three large patches of effused blood, -that on the left side of the head, commencing over the left eyebrow, extending seven and a half inches backwards, and five inches from the ear upwards. There was likewise a smaller patch adjoining this, and situated on the vertex, and measuring two inches each way; whilst on the right side of the head, and corresponding externally to the slight mark over the right ear, there was also a deep red patch of effused blood, measuring an inch and a half each way. On opening the skull we found the membranes covering the brain, and the brain itself, highly congested. There was likewise a considerable effusion of bloody serum between these membranes, in the ventricles of the brain, and at the base of the skull, this serum smelt strongly of spirits. The lungs were soft, shrunken, and firmly adherent to the ribs. The abdomen, on being opened, presented a mass of disease. The stomach was filled with a dark coloured fluid, resembling stale coffee and smelling strongly of spirits, and the coats were greatly thickened and corrugated, having the appearance as though it had been macerated for some time in spirits. The liver and kidneys were softened, discoloured, and diseased, the liver showing the appearance of what is called the “Gin-drinker’s or drunkard’s liver.” The peritoneal covering of the intestines, as well as the intestines themselves, were highly inflamed, especially underneath the faint mark described as being below the navel, and a large quantity of lymph glued them together. There was likewise a considerable quantity of fluid in the abdomen; whilst the omentum, or fatty covering of the intestines, was a mass of disease. In one place, and corresponding to the faint mark on the outside, it was perforated through by ulceration. The inner surface of the integuments here was of a dark red colour. I can state with certainty that the bruise over the right ear had not existed more than three hours before death. The extravasation of blood before mentioned was simply the effect of a rupture of small blood vessels of the head, caused by violence of some kind. The extravasation on the right side may have been, and most probably was, the result of one blow with a fist. I don’t think that all the extravasations on the left side could have been produced by one blow, except in this manner-a blow might have been inflicted on the right of the head, and the left side of it projected by the blow against some hard substance. Or it may have been caused by a succession of blows. This cannot be declared positively, but I account it probable. I don’t think the extravasations had taken place more than three hours before death, and nothing but blows of some description could have produced them. The immediate cause of death I believe to have been the violence on the head-or, in other words, the nervous shock produced thereby. Death may have been instantaneous from the blow inflicted above the right ear; and I have no hesitation in declaring that it was inflicted within three hours of the fatal event. I consider the increase of inflammation of the intestines and the ulcerated omentum to be the result of external violence of some standing. I conceive that the woman was labouring under diseases which would have terminated her life within three of four days, even had she not received the recent violence of which I have spoken; and that, had a medical man examined her before death, he would have discovered symptoms to induce that conclusion. Though, however, she might have lived as long, her condition was such that one could not have reckoned on that-she was not safe from one moment to another. The smell of spirits was so strong in the stomach, that I have no hesitation in saying that the deceased must have taken a very large quantity of spirits within twelve hours of her death. For a fortnight previous to her demise, the least pressure on the abdomen would have caused very great pain. The taking of those spirits would have accelerated death. If the woman had taken a very large quantity of spirits thirty-six hours before death, and continued to take only small quantities, the alcoholic odour might have been equally strong if no other fluids had been taken into the stomach, but these would have lessened the smell; and we found other fluids in the stomach.
Dr Cockburn gave evidence to a similar effect.
Several witnesses were called to the prisoner’s character, who deposed that he had, during twenty-one years service in the 97th Regiment, maintained a good character, and that since his residence in this Island, of about eleven months, he and his wife had generally been on good terms.
It being now six o’clock, the proceedings were adjourned to
Advocate Gallienne, in a careful defence, which occupied nearly two hours, dwelt strongly on the circumstance that, even if it were allowed that the prisoner had exercised violence towards his wife, it was not proved; nor was it charged against him that he had acted with malice aforethought. This being the case, the felonious character of his act was entirely removed. And he could neither be subjected to capital punishment nor to a peine infamante: he would not, after the evidence that had been heard, maintain that the prisoner was really innocent of some of the acts charged against him, but he contended that those acts had not received such proof as would justify a condemnation. On the contrary, strong doubt

Convict Changes History

Keith Pike on 20th May, 2013 made the following changes:

gender, occupation, crime

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