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Lucretia (Davies) Dunkley (abt. 1807 - 1843)

Lucretia Dunkley formerly Davies aka Dunckley
Born about in Wales, United Kingdommap [uncertain]
Daughter of [father unknown] and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Wife of — married 1834 in Sutton Forest, New South Wales, Australiamap
[children unknown]
Died in Berrima, New South Wales, Australiamap
Profile last modified | Created 9 Dec 2017
This page has been accessed 1,258 times.



Lucretia (Davies) Dunkley was a convict after the Third Fleet.

Lucretia Davies was born about 1807. She was convicted on 9 Jul 1831 at Glamorgan, Wales, and transported to Australia in 1831 via the ship Pyramus.[1]

She married Henry Dunckley or Dunkley at the All Saints Church, Sutton Forest, New South Wales in 1834.[2]

In 1842, ticket-of-leave convict Martin Beech came to work on Henry and Lucretia's farm near Gunning, and he became Lucretia's lover. Together they murdered Henry in his sleep and buried him in a shallow grave on the property (see story below).

Martin and Lucretia were hanged at the Berrima Gaol on the 17th of October, 1843, and their heads were removed for study. Supposedly Lucretia's headless ghost now haunts the pine trees near the old Berrima Gaol.[3][4]



Mr. Waugh, coroner for Goulburn, and Mr. Surgeon Cartwright, attended here today. An inquest was held by the former on the body of Henry Dunkley, who for some years resided in this neighbourhood, and whose sudden disappearance, about twelve days ago, caused some suspicion. Dunkley having friends residing in Goulburn, their suspicions were awakened a few days ago upon hearing that his wife, in company with a ticket of leave holder named Beech, offered for sale at the steam mill of Messrs. Bradley and Shelly a load of wheat; one of the friends, who had known Dunkley for a great many years to be in the habit of not only transacting his own business, but of driving his own dray, was induced to put some questions to the pair then in charge of the wheat and dray, and the answers to the questions being by no means satisfactory, he felt it his duty to mention his suspicions to the police authorities of Goulburn. A constable was dispatched to Dunkley's residence, on reaching which and interrogating his wife she confessed that her husband had been murdered by the ticket of leave man Beech, who had been in Dunkley's service only a short time.

From what has transpired today, there is not perhaps on record a more revolting murder than that just committed here. It would appear that Dunkley's wife and the scoundrel Beech commenced by a crime closely allied to murder, and then the putting the husband out of the way presented itself to them as the crowning of their future plans. This was accomplished in a room in which the unfortunate man slept. Beech with a heavy axe struck his victim on the neck and breast, and the force of the blows broke even his backbone, the blood pouring out and besmearing the bed and the wall near which it lay; at this part of the horrible tragedy the abominable wife took from underneath the bed a vessel, and held it so as to receive the gore from the mangled body of her husband, in order to prevent any traces of the blood being discovered. The body was next sewed up in a sack, and carried to the brink of a neighbouring waterhole, near which a hole was dug, and the body placed in it. The murderers then repaired to the house, and endeavoured to remove from the bed, walls, and floor every trace of blood, which being done, they prepared and partook of a hearty breakfast of tea, bread, bacon, and eggs. The occurrence has caused quite a thrill of horror in this quarter, poor old Dunkley having been so well known and generally liked.

The woman and her paramour are both in safe custody. It appears it was also their intention to have murdered an old man, a hired servant on the farm, who they believed was not without some suspicion as to the way in which his employer had been put aside. It is said Dunkley has left some property, and that he had a brother living in Van Diemen's Land.


  1. Australian Convict Transportation Registers, Other Fleets & Ships, 1791-1868
  2. New South Wales, Australia, Registers of Convicts' Applications to Marry, 1826-1851.
  3. Davis, Richard (2012). Great Australian ghost stories. HarperCollins Publishers, Sydney South, N.S.W. Chapter 1: A Trio of Headless Horrors. Retrieved from
  4. McColgan, John (1995). Southern Highlands story. J. McColgan, Mittagong, N.S.W. p. 9-10.
    1834. Henry Dunkley and Lucretia Davies of Goulburn Plains married in All Saints Church Sutton Forest 15-1-1834. Lucretia Dunkley later hanged at Berrima Gaol for the murder of her husband Henry Dunkley at Gunning 13-9-1842.
    1843. Lucretia Dunkley and her lover Martin Beech hanged at Berrima Gaol Monday 16-10-1843 for murder of her husband. Her head removed for scientific examination. Later reports of her headless ghost being seen in grove of pine trees near the gaol.
  5. GUNNING. Horrible murder of a husband by his wife. (1842, October 4). Australasian Chronicle (Sydney, NSW : 1839 - 1843), p. 2. Retrieved December 9, 2017, from

Further Reading

  • Brown, Keith Lynden (2014). The day that Dunkley died : murder and retribution in colonial Gunning. Gunning and District Historical Society, Gunning.

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