Series VPRS 1100
Capital Sentences Files
About this Series Related Series Accessing the records in this Series
Date Range: Series 1889 - 1975
  Series in Custody 1889 - 1975
  Contents 1889 - 1975
Public Access: Part Open
Location: North Melbourne
Format of Records: Physical
 
Agency which created this SeriesAgency which created this Series
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Date Range Agency Title Agency Number
1889 - 1975 Governor (including Lieutenant Governor 1851-1855 and Governor's Office) VA 466
Agency currently responsible for this SeriesAgency currently responsible for this Series
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Date Range Agency Title Agency Number
1982 - cont Department of the Premier and Cabinet VA 1039
Description of this SeriesDescription of this Series
  • How to use the Records
    In October / November 2014, VPRS 1100/P0 was reprocessed as 1100/P2 and VPRS 1100/P1 was reprocessed as 1100/P3. The relationship between the unit numbers in the original and reprocessed consignments is not one-to-one, as the opportunity was taken to remedy the physical housing of overpacked and underpacked boxes, and (to facilitate annual openings of closed records) to separate cases from different years which had been housed in the same box.

    Capital Sentence Files are arranged in chronological order by year in which final decision was made. The files are listed in the Consignment Details by name (first name and surname) of the convicted person and year of the Governor's decision.

    An alphabetical card index, created by the Public Record Office Victoria, listing the name, year of decision and unit location for this series up to 1957 and for VPRS 264 Capital Case Files to 1925 has been microfilmed as part of VPRS 4325 for use in Public Record Office Victoria reading rooms if desired. This index may be found towards the end of the microfilm.

  • Function / Content
    This series consists of files compiled to assist the Governor in deciding whether the Royal Prerogative of Mercy could be extended to persons convicted of a capital crime. In most cases the mandatory sentence was death although some offenders (notably those under 21 years of age) were sentenced at the Governor's discretion. Although the Governor had the power to use the prerogative and thus commute the sentence to a lesser one, the final decision was based upon the advice of the Executive Council (also known as the Governor in Council) which in turn had formally approved the decision as made in Cabinet. A few files in this series relate to subsequent applications for early release made by persons whose sentence had been commuted or by their relatives.

    This series consists of two consignments; an original transfer of 18 boxes covering the period 1889 to 1957 and a consignment of 24 boxes for 1922 to 1975. Unit one of the second consignment includes files within the date range of the original transfer.

    Most files will contain a letter sent by the trial judge to the Attorney-General officially notifying him of the sentence, a copy of the judges case notes and the trial transcript. Other items variously found include reports (e.g., prison, psychiatric, etc.) written by various agencies regarding the appropriateness of commuting the sentence, a copy of the Executive Council minute, (taken from VPRS 1080), any letters, petitions, telegrams or other correspondence received, police photographs of the person and newspaper cuttings. The size of files varies considerably reflecting the degree of action taken and the publicity the case may have attracted.

    For all intents and purposes the files in this series and those in VPRS 264 Capital Case Files 1852-1925 are part of the same sequence. The difference between the two series lies in the ultimate destination of the file. Until 1888, all files were returned to the Law Department and are thus part of VPRS 264 Capital Case Files. From 1889 some files were retained by the Law Department and others by the Governor's Office. For some cases, duplicate files often containing copies of the judges' notes and the trial transcripts were created. Therefore there may be files in both VPRS 264 and VPRS 1100 for some individuals.

    Summary information pertaining to the decisions is found in VPRS 7583 Register of Decisions on Capital Sentences 1851-1975 which provided the basis for the series arrangement. Not all cases referred to in these registers are found in this series indicating that there may be some missing or non-existent files. For information relating to the original court case, VPRS 30 Criminal Trial Briefs may be consulted.

    The series finished in 1975 following the abolition of the death sentence under the provisions of the Crimes (Capital Offences) Act 1975 (No. 8679).

  • Recordkeeping System
    No system of control was originally placed over capital sentence files. Consequently they have been placed in chronological order according to the year in which the final decision was made.

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Consignment Number Contents Date Range Public Access No. of Units
P0002 1889 - 1957 Part Open 32
P0003 1922 - 1975 Part Open 36
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