Kōrero: Violent crime

Tom Long, hangman

Tom Long, hangman

Tom Long was a 19th-century celebrity whose activities were regularly reported in detail. He was a habitual troublemaker but did not commit crimes of great moment – his specialities were drunkenness, disorderly behaviour and vagrancy. Long was reportedly convicted on more than 200 occasions but was best known as the colony’s official hangman.

An Irishman, Long claimed to have acted as official hangman in the Indian army. He carried out his first New Zealand execution in Picton in early 1877, when he hanged William Woodgate for murdering a child he had fathered with his 14-year-old niece. The local newspaper reported that the hangman was a swagman who claimed to have ‘slung them by the dozens’ during the Indian ‘Mutiny’.

Long then went to Hawke’s Bay, where he was soon imprisoned for drunkenness. In late 1879 he complained of police harassment. Charged with using obscene language, Long said he had hanged a man in the South Island, and this was often brought up against him, agitating him and making him swear. He said he was always being ‘run in’ by some policeman.

Long was suspected of a serious crime in January 1881, when John Pierce died in a fire in Napier’s Albion Hotel. The inquest was told Long had been found drunk near the hotel, having said he would do something that would make headlines. The jury thought the fire very suspicious, but no evidence of arson had been produced and Long was not charged.

Te whakamahi i tēnei tūemi

Wairarapa Archive

This item has been provided for private study purposes (such as school projects, family and local history research) and any published reproduction (print or electronic) may infringe copyright law. It is the responsibility of the user of any material to obtain clearance from the copyright holder.

Ngā whakaahua me ngā rauemi katoa o tēnei kōrero

Te tuhi tohutoro mō tēnei whārangi:

Greg Newbold, 'Violent crime - Murder and manslaughter', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/mi/photograph/26489/tom-long-hangman (accessed 17 July 2024)

He kōrero nā Greg Newbold, i tāngia i te 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 3 May 2024 me te āwhina o Greg Newbold