~ writing niche history

A True Story of Murder, Madness & the News in Colonial Melbourne


It's 1850s Australia.

A double murder.

A locked room.

The murderer is dying from a gunshot.

But the reporter says the scene is near impossible.


Edmund Finn (1819-1898) “Garryowen”


“Early on Saturday 22nd January 1853, news reached Melbourne that a woman and a child had been murdered in their farm house about 12 miles south of the city. The sketchy report added that the murderer was near death.


“The rumours were vague, so reporters from the city’s two newspapers – the Melbourne Morning Herald and the Argus – made their way to the scene. The Herald’s reporter was the brilliant Edmund “Neddy” Finn. He was later better known by his pen name “Garryowen”, author of The Chronicles of Early Melbourne, 1835 to 1852.


“The story they heard that Saturday morning was that the pair were murdered the previous day by the farm labourer, who then shot himself in the chest with a shotgun. All this had happened while Charles Smith, the husband and father, was said to have been twelve miles away on a day trip to the city.


Finn’s report of the murder indicated there was something awry.”


(Extract from Three Rabbits Alibi.)




This web page was created on 13 January 2017 – Finn’s 198th birthday. How can Melbourne celebrate his bicentenary on 13 January 2019? (He was said to have been born at midnight on the 13th, so that may be as good a time as any for a little Melbourne celebration.) I’ll tweet #EdmundFinn200 and let’s see if we might get something happening. A celebration could include Garryowen Park, Fitzroy – the site of Finn’s house.


A Little about Edmund Finn


Here are a few links:


Melbourne Press Club – Edmund Finn, Hall of Fame (watch)


Australian Dictionary of Biography – Edmund Finn (read)


Get to know Edmund Finn; read his reporting – Three Rabbits Alibi: A True Story of Murder, Madness & the News in Colonial Melbourne.


The chronicles of early Melbourne, 1835 to 1852 historical, anecdotal and personal / by "Garryowen" – digitised by La Trobe University.


Edmund Finn’s House was in 20 Leicester St., North Fitzroy. It is now a park.


There is a photo of the house from about 1878 in the State Library of Victoria and it is viewable online.