In January 1889,Louisa Collins,a 41-year-old mother of ten children,became the first woman hanged at Darlinghurst Gaol and the last woman hanged in New South Wales.Both of Louisa’s husbands died suddenly.The Crown was convinced that Louisa poisoned them with arsenic and, to the horror of many in the legal community,put her on trial an extraordinary FOUR tIMES in order to get a conviction.Louisa protested her innocence until the end.

Much of the evidence against Louisa was circumstantial.Some of the most important testimony was given by her only daughter,May,who was just 10-years-old when asked to take the stand.The historical context is also important: Louisa Collins was hanged at a time when women were in no sense equal under the law except when it came to the gallows.Women could not vote or stand for parliament or sit on juries.There were no female politicians and no women judges.Against this background,a small group of women…

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