Fort Denison is a small island located about one kilometer east of the Opera House and just off Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.
After the First Fleet arrived in 1788, Governor Philip and his advocate-general used the name Rock Island. In 1788, a convict named Thomas Hill, was sentenced to a week on bread and water in irons there, after a time the island came to be known as “Pinchgut.” It was once a 15 meter high sandstone islet, the rock was later leveled by convicts for sandstone, to construct nearby Circular Quay.
In late 1796 the Governor had installed a gibbet (which is a gallows-type structure) on “Pinchgut” from which the dead or dying bodies of executed criminals were hanged on public display, to deter other existing or potential criminals.
A convict to be hanged there, was Francis Morgan. The British Government transported him to New South Wales for life, as punishment for the murder of Simon Raven. On the 30th November 1796, Morgan was hanged for the brutal murder of Simon Raven. Following his execution his body was hung in chains (gibbeting) on “Pinchgut”. His skeleton was still hanging there four years, after his execution.
He said to the hangman that the only thing worth mentioning was “the superb view of the harbour from his high elevation”, and that he was sure there were no waters the world over, to compare with Sydney Harbour’s beauty!Read more