Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Death of Eliza Evershed: Stories from Gladstone Gaol – part I

The Death of Eliza Evershed
Stories from Gladstone Gaol – part I

On Saturday the 16th of September 1882, Eliza Evershed, a prisoner inside the walls of the Mid Norths Gladstone Gaol, passed away... her last words “Good Bye”...

By all accounts Eliza Evershed had lived a hard life. With her husband Alfred Batchelor Evershed, the couple had once been the owners of the Maid Of Auckland Hotel in Edwardstown, which eventually she ran by herself.
No-one was quite sure of her age, at the time of her death she was listed as 65 years old, but Doctors proclaimed, she had either lived a very hard life, or was at least 80 years old at the time of death.
Eliza was often in court, on both sides of the law, as sometimes her hotel would be robbed, other times she would rob people, and, in fact, she was incarcerated in Adelaide Gaol, on a seven year sentence for Larceny about 12 months previously, but had been moved to the lower security Gladstone Gaol as her health was failing rapidly.

Eliza's character was on show on 1872 when she fronted court with her friend Catherine Mott. Catherine had been charged with stealing a set of scales worth two pound by shop owner Robert Crocker.
Crocker had allowed Catherine into the shop on Grenfell street to work, but when he returned the next day the scales were long gone.
The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA 1858 - 1889),
Wednesday 20 September 1882, page 6
Catherine had required Eliza to be present, as Catherine was a tenant in Eliza's Maid of Auckland Hotel.
Eliza took the stand as a witness and said “ I am Eliza Evershed, the old woman of the Maid of Auckland. I am a widow, and I am perfectly willing to 'have' Inspector Bee”
The court room broke into laughter, and poor Inspector Bee blushed, embarrassed at the grotesque old woman’s actions.
The court ruled the old woman had “decided traces of real or assumed insanity” and that “no satisfactory evidence could be got from her”

Eliza spent her last few days alive in prison, but she was actually a free woman, having had her sentenced re-missed on the 11th of September, but being as she was so unwell, the Warden thought it unsafe to move her
Before her death, Eliza spoke of the kindness she had received from female warder Mrs. Pollit

 Honorah Dunn, a prisoner, said Eliza had been ailing for some time. Honorah had been with the old lady a good deal both day and night for the previous fortnight, assisting her with anything she needed. Eliza had everything she required, and never complained of her treatment, she passed away quietly within the walls of Gladstone Gaol