The Execution of Richard McGwire

On the 7th of June 1815, Richard McGwire was hanged on Hunter Island for his involvement in the shootout with Dennis McCarty at New Norfolk and the subsequent deaths of Charles Carlisle and James O’Burne. In the days leading to the execution, Reverend Robert Knopwood paid three visits to the condemned man and recorded the following in his diary, “This morning, early, I attended on M’Guire and administered the sacrament to him. At 11, went with him to Hunters Island where he was executed. […] At 3 p.m. he was hung in chains on the island by Whitehead the murderer; they both belonged to the same party.”

It should be noted that the method of execution adopted in the early 1800’s was that of short drop hanging, with the 1809 illustration of a triple execution at Newgate in London clearly showing how little drop was given at this time. Meaning 23-year-old Richard McGwire would have died by strangulation.

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