DEEMING, Frederick Bailey (1853-1892)

DEEMING, Frederick Bailey (1853-1892)
was born in Kent, England, on 30 July 1853 of respectable parents. He ran away to sea at 16 years of age and afterwards began a long career of crime, largely thieving and obtaining money under false pretences. Most of his time was spent in Australia and South Africa, but he was in England in February 1890, when he contracted a bigamous marriage with a Miss Matheson whom he afterwards deserted; he already had a wife and three children. A fourth child was born and in July 1891 he murdered his wife and children at Rainhill, Lancashire, buried the bodies under the floor of the house he had rented, and covered them with cement. He explained their disappearance by saying that his wife was his sister who had been staying with him, and had now gone to join her husband at Port Said. In September he married a Miss Mather and took her to Melbourne where they arrived in December. He rented a house in the suburb of Windsor, murdered his wife on about 24 December, buried her under the hearthstone of one of the bedrooms and again covered the body with cement. He paid a month's rent in advance, early in January spent some time in Melbourne and Sydney, where he became engaged to be married to another woman, and then went to Western Australia with the understanding that she would follow him. On about 3 March a new tenant at the Windsor house complained of a bad smell, the hearthstone was raised and the body found. In the meantime by means of forged testimonials Deeming had obtained a position at Southern Cross, and as part of the preparation of his house for his new bride, had purchased a barrel of cement. He was traced to Southern Cross, arrested and taken to Melbourne. Furious demonstrations against him were made on the journey to Perth, and again on the way to Albany. Tried at Melbourne on 21 April 1892, with Alfred Deakin (q.v.) as his counsel in spite of a plea of insanity he was found guilty and was hanged on 23 May 1892.
Deeming was extremely long-armed and had other physical characteristics that suggested some affinity with the anthropoid apes. He appears to have been without any redeeming qualities, a cruel calculating murderer, insensible to pity.
J. D. Fitzgerald, Studies in Australian Crime, second series; G. B. H. Logan, Masters of Crime, p. 198 (dates incorrect); The Argus, 24 May 1892; private information. The Biography of Frederick Bayley Deeming published at Melbourne in 1892 is an imaginative compilation without value.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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