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Title: History of Australian Bushranging Volume 1
Author: Charles White
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Title: History of Australian Bushranging Volume 1
Author: Charles White


_Author of "Convict Life in New South Wales and Van Diemen's
Land" and "The Story of the Blacks"_


_In 4 parts, picture covers, illustrated, 1s. each,
or 2 volumes, cloth gilt, 3s. 6d. each_



THE EARLY DAYS. -- Howe, Brady, Britton, Cash,
   Kavanagh, Jones, Donohoe, Underwood, Webber,
   Sullivan, The Insurrection at Bathurst,
   Armstrong, Chamberlain, Dignum, Comerford,
   McKewin, Davis, "Scotchey", Witton, Williams,
   Flanagan, Day, etc.

1850-1862. -- Gardiner, Piesley, Gilbert, O'Meally,
   McGuinness, Fordyce, Bow, Manns, Alexander
   Ross, Charles Ross, O'Connor.

1863-1865. -- Ben Hall, Dunn, Lowry, The Mudgee Mail
   Robbery, Heather, Daniel Morgan, "Thunderbolt",
   The Clarkes, etc.

1869-1880. -- "Moonlight", "Midnight", Power, The
   Kelly Gang.



London: The Australian Book Company



Chapter I -- Historical Sketch

Chapter II -- Tasmanian Gangs

   Michael Howe and His Gang
   Brady's Gang
   Britton's Gang

Chapter III -- Tasmanian Gangs (_continued_)

   Cash, Kavanagh and Jones

Chapter IV -- The Early Days in New South Wales

   Donohoe, Underwood and Webber
   Trapping Harbourers
   Fruitless Attempts
   Some Australian "Men in Buckram"
   A Report
   A Bold Robbery and a Smart Capture
   Sullivan's Gang
   The Mounted Police and their Duties
   Prompt Measures
   The Insurrection at Bathurst
   The Bushranger's Act and Its Consequences
   The Troubles of Early Emigrants

Chapter V -- The Last of the Convicts

   "Sticking-up" of a Judge
   A Smart Capture
   The Omeo Murder
   Dignum and His Gang
   The Robber of the Caves
   The Jew-Boy's Gang
   "Scotchey", Witton & Co.
   Williams and Flanagan
   The Blacksmith Bushranger

Chapter VI -- Gardiner and Piesley

   Jack Piesley

Chapter VII -- The Eugowra Escort Robbery

Chapter VIII -- The Last of Gardiner

   Gardiner's Capture
   The Trial at the Supreme Court
   Gardiner's Release and Final Disappearance

Chapter IX -- The Caloola Robbers



[not included in this text file]

Tasmanian Black Gin
Sarah Island, Macquarie Harbour, Tasmania
Ticket of Leave
Frenchman's Cap
Port Arthur
Martin Cash
Eagle Hawk Neck
Reward Notice _re_ Cash, Kavanagh and Jones
Early View of Hobart Town
Hobart Town Gaol and Chain Gang
Ticket of Leave Passport
Pass (1)
Prisoner's Remove Warrant (Special)
Judge Therry
W. H. Suttor
Father Therry
Pass (2)
Skull of a Bushranger Shot in Victoria
The Bushranger's Cave
Head of Williams, from a Plaster Cast
Hon. L. H. Bayley
Captain Battye
Frank Gardiner
Eugowra Rocks
Gold-Commissioner Grenfell
A "Bush Telegraph"
Sir Frederick Pottinger
Senior-Sergeant Sanderson
The Weddin Mountains
Johnny Gilbert
The Capture of Gardiner
Mr. Justice Wise
Trial of Gardiner at Darlinghurst
William Bede Dalley;   Sir Henry Parkes
Mr. Hargrave, Attorney-General
Gardiner Out of Gaol Again
Sir Alfred Stephen
Richard Driver;   William Forster
Sir Hercules Robinson
Gardiner's Mat
Bird's-eye View of Darlinghurst Gaol



[not included in this text file]

County of Cumberland
Port Arthur and the Two Necks
Western and Southern Districts of New South Wales




The early history of bushranging in Australia will never be written, for
the facts have never been recorded. Limited though the colony was in
extent, its literature--even its journalism--was still more limited.
Moreover, the first men who "took the bush" were neither important nor
interesting enough to obtain more than a passing mention in those
Governors' despatches which are our chief authorities for early colonial
history. Owing to the stringent military rule during the first years of
convict settlement, the unknown character of the country, and the
absence of prey in the shape of men with money or other possessions (the
aborigines being the only occupants of the soil outside the properly
formed settlements), those who were called bushrangers then were simply
men who had broken away from their gangs in the hope of escaping from
the torture of labour under Government. The name has been made to carry
a very different meaning since then, being applied to men who, some from
choice and some from necessity, ranged the bush as freebooters,
"sticking-up" settlers and travellers and demanding in orthodox style
"your money or your life."

In 1796 Governor Hunter mentioned in despatches "a gang or two of
banditti who have armed themselves, and infest the country all round,
committing robberies upon defenceless people, and frequently joining the
natives for that purpose." On August 24, 1806, the "Sydney Gazette"
mentions one "Murphy the bushranger" as having been caught, and then,
through carelessness, let go again. But scarcely anything is known of
the hundreds of unfortunate men who slipped away into the inhospitable
wilds that then surrounded the penal settlement on every hand, kept
themselves alive for some time by raids upon the outlying farms or by
companying with the blacks, and in the end died off in such numbers that
an early explorer declared he had counted on one trip fifty skeletons.

In Van Diemen's Land--for many years a receptacle for the worst class of
convicts, who had added to their original offence a record for new
crimes in Australia--the escaped convict was a more virulent evil, and
his doings smacked of a brutal thirst for vengeance, not only on his
former gaolers, but on all, white and black alike, who were less
fiendish than himself. The early necessities of the settlement, which
compelled the authorities to relax their rule and allow many of the
convicts to hunt for sustenance, favoured the after-growth of small
bands of "looters", who made raids upon the settlers in the bush, and
even upon the inhabitants of the principal townships. These banditti had
so increased by 1814 that Colonel Davey, the second Lieutenant-Governor
of Van Diemen's Land, declared the whole colony under martial law, in
hopes of checking their ravages, and punished by flogging all persons,
free as well as bond, who left their houses by night.

Dr. West gives a list of place names then current which denoted the
character or tastes of their early visitors and heroes:- Murderer's
Plains, Killman Point, Hell Corner, Four Square Gallows, Murderers'
Tiers, Dunn's Lookout, and Lemon's Lagoon.

A desire for freedom no doubt excited the convicts in the first instance
to break from control and take to the bush, and the pangs of hunger led
them to plunder; but they soon assumed a boldness and lawlessness that
fairly intimidated the Government. Towards the close of 1813 the colony
was reduced to the greatest distress by their raids; and Governor
Macquarie, in despair, offered to pardon all who surrendered within six
months, provided they had not committed murder--an offer which was
taken advantage of by many who resumed their occupation shortly
afterwards. Among the worst of these was Michael Howe, whose story--as a
typical one--is told at greater length later in these pages. Lemon,
another of them, who particularly affected the neighbourhood of
Oatlands, has been described for us (with a comrade) in words that may
picture his class: "Two savage-looking fellows emerged one from each
side of the path. They were dressed in kangaroo-skins, with sandals of
the same on their feet, and knapsacks on their backs; each carried a
musket, and one had a brace of pistols stuck in his girdle." The author
from whom I quote--Mr. Parker, a barrister of those days--goes on a
little later to describe the bushrangers' hut, in a dense forest only
thirty-six miles from Hobart. "The hut was constructed of turf, low and
uncomfortable in the extreme, covered with sheets of bark stripped from
the forest trees. The fireplace, also of turf, lined with stones at the
bottom, was at one end of the hut, and within it a huge fire soon

Lemon and his mate were at last tracked to this hut: Lemon was shot, and
the companion was forced to cut off his head, place it in a bag, and
march with it to Hobart between his two captors. But punishment of this
kind, brutal as it may seem, was courtesy compared to the deeds of the
bushrangers themselves. Dunne, one of Brady's gang (whose depredations
are narrated in another chapter) was loathed even by some of his mates.
One case will serve to show the villain's cruelty. When out in the bush
he sought to get hold of a rather good-looking black gin, who was living
with her husband, but the blackfellow naturally objected. With scant
ceremony Dunne put a rifle bullet through the objector's breast. The
poor gin, heartbroken at the death of her husband, refused to leave the
mutilated body; but with devilish brutality Dunne cut off the
blackfellow's head, drilled a hole through it, and suspended it by a
string round the neck of the outraged wife. Drawing his knife he drove
her onward at its point to his bush retreat--the den, indeed, of a

A similar story is told of Jeffries, known as "The Monster"; but his
victim was a white woman, whose baby was but newly born--and in rage,
because she did not walk fast enough, he dashed the child's brains out
against a tree.

Yet even men of this stamp found sympathizers. When Dunne was hanged his
admirers presented him with an elegant cedar coffin, and a hundred of
them followed it to the grave. For the bushranger, as says James
Bonwick, "was, in general, looked upon as a sort of martyr to
convictism. It was he who had experienced the shame, the lash, the
brutal taunt, from which they had suffered. It was he who rose against
the tyranny of their prison despot, and the dread consequences of their
criminal law. He was the bold Robin Hood of their morning songs, and he
was now the unfortunate victim of legal oppression, the captured of the
chase. Without denying the atrocities of his career, they would discover
many extenuations for his crimes. His reckless daring would be the
noblest chivalry; and the jovial freedom of his manners, the frankest
generosity. His immoral jests would be cherished for posterity, and the
eclat of his life and death would stimulate the worthy ambition of
sympathizing souls. The very gallows had a charm."

There was, of course, another side to the question. Convict life was
hard at best, and was often made almost unbearable by the petty
cruelties of the prison official or the station overseer. It is worth
while, by way of representing this other side, to reprint here a
narrative which appeared in one of the leading London journals of 1845,
and was then vouched for by the writers as correct in every detail.

In crossing the country one day, and at a distance from any habitation,
Mr. Thornley, a settler, to his surprise and fear beheld at a short
distance approaching him a noted bushranger, known by the name of "The
Gipsy", who had latterly, with a band of associates, become the dread of
the colony. He was a tall, well-made man, one apparently above the
ordinary character of convicts, and whom it was distressing to see in
such a situation. The parties approached each other with mutual
distrust. Thornley knew he had a desperate character to deal with, and
pointed his gun at him, but the bushranger seemed desirous of a parley,
and after a few words, says the writer, he laid his gun quietly on the
grass and then passed round me, and sat down at a few yards distance, so
that I was between him and his weapon. "Well, Mr. Thornley," said he,
"will that do? You see I am now unarmed. I don't ask you to do the same,
because I cannot expect you to trust to me, but the truth is, I want to
have a little talk with you. I have something on my mind which weighs
heavy on me, and whom to speak to I do not know. I know your character,
and that you have never been hard on your Government men, as some are.
At any rate, speak to some one I must. Are you inclined to listen to

I was exceedingly moved at this unexpected appeal to me at such a time
and in such a place. There was no sound, and no object save ourselves,
to disturb the vast solitude of the wilderness. Below us flowed the
Clyde, beneath an abrupt precipice; around were undulating hills, almost
bare of trees; in the distance towered the snowy mountain which formed
the boundary to the landscape. I looked at my companion doubtfully, for
I had heard so many stories of the treachery of the bushrangers that I
feared for a moment that this acting might only be a trick to throw me
off my guard. Besides, this was the very man whom I knew to have been at
the head of the party of bushrangers who had been captured at the Great

He observed the doubt and hesitation which were expressed in my looks,
and pointed to his gun, which was on the other side of me.

"What more can I do," said he, "to convince you that I meditate neither
violence nor treachery against you? Indeed, when you know my purpose,
you will see that they would defeat my own object."

"What is your purpose, then? Tell me at once--are you one of the late
party of bushrangers who have done such mischief in the island?"

"I am; and more than that, I am--or rather was--their leader. I planned
the escape from Macquarie Harbour, and it was I who kept them together,
and made them understand strength, and how to use it. But that's nothing
now. I do not want to talk to you about that. But I tell you who and
what I am, that you may see I have no disguise with you, because I have
a great favour--a very great favour--to ask of you, and if I can obtain
it from you on no other terms, I am almost inclined to say, take me to
camp as your prisoner, and let the capture of the Gipsy--ah! I see you
know that name, and the terror it has given to the merciless wretches
who pursue me--I say, let the capture of the Gipsy, and his death, if
you will (for it must come to that at last) be the price of the favour
that I have to beg of you!"

"Speak on, my man," I said; "you have done some ill deeds, but this is
not the time to taunt you with them. What do you want of me? If it is
anything that an honest man can do, I promise you beforehand that I will
do it."

"You will! but you do not know it yet. Now listen to me. Perhaps you do
not know that I have been in the colony ten years. I was a lifer. It's
bad that; better hang a man at once than punish him for life. There
ought to be a prospect and an end to suffering; then a man can look
forward to something; he would have hope left. But never mind that. I
only speak of it because I believe it was the feeling of despair that
first led me wrong, and drove me from bad to worse. Shortly after my
landing I was assigned to a very good master. There were not many
settlers then, and we did not know so much of the country as we do now.
As I was handy in many things, and able to earn money, I soon got my
liberty on the old condition; that is, of paying so much a week to my
master. That trick is not played now, but it was then, and by some of
the big ones too. However, all I cared for was my liberty, and was glad
enough to get that for seven shillings a week. But still I was a
Government prisoner, and that galled me; for I knew I was liable to lose
my license at the caprice of my master, and to be called into Government
employ. Besides, I got acquainted with a young woman, and married her,
and then I felt the bitterness of slavery worse than ever; for I was
attached to her sincerely, and I could not contemplate the chance of
parting from her without pain. So about three years after I had been in
this way, I made an attempt to escape with her in a vessel that was
sailing for England. It was a mad scheme, I know, but what will not a
man risk for his liberty?"

"What led you to think of going back to England? What were you sent out
here for?"

"I have no reason to care for hiding the truth. I was one of a gang of
poachers in Herefordshire, and on a certain night we were surprised by
the keepers, and somehow, I don't know how, we came to blows; and the
long and the short of it is, one of the keepers was killed; and there's
the truth of it."

"And you were tried for the murder?"

"I and two others were; and one was hanged, and I and my mate were
transported for life."

"Well, the less that's said about that the better; now go on with your
story, but let me know what it is you would have me do for you."

"I'll come to that presently, but I must tell you something about my
story, or you will not understand me. I was discovered in the vessel,
concealed among the casks, by the searching party, and brought on shore
with my wife; and you know, I suppose, that the punishment is death. But
Colonel Davey--he was Governor then--let me off, but I was condemned to
work in chains in Government employ. This was a horrid life, and I
determined not to stand it. There were one or two others in the chain
gang all ready for a start into the bush, if they had any one to plan
for them. I was always a good one at head work, and it was not long
before I contrived one night to get rid of our fetters. There were three
others besides myself. We got on top of the wall very cleverly, and
first one dropped down (it was as dark as pitch, and we could not see
what became of him), then another dropped, and then the third. Not a
word was spoken. I was the last, and glad enough was I when I felt
myself sliding down the rope outside the yard. But I had to grin on the
other side of my mouth when I came to the bottom. One of the sneaks whom
I had trusted had betrayed us, and I found myself in the arms of two
constables, who grasped me tightly. I gave one of them a sickener, and
could have easily managed the other, but he gave the alarm, and then
lots of others sprang up, and lights and soldiers appeared. I was
overpowered by so many. They bound my arms, and then I was tried for the
attempt to escape and the assault on the constable, and condemned to
Macquarie Harbour for life.

"I have not told you that my wife brought me a child. It is now seven
years old. I loved that child, Mr. Thornley, more than a person usually
loves his child. It was all in all to me. It was the only bright thing I
had to look upon. When I was sentenced to Macquarie Harbour for life, it
would have been a mercy to put me to death. I should have put myself to
death, if it had not been for the thought of that little girl. Well,
sir, I will not say more about that. When a man takes to the bush, and
has done what I have done, he is thought to be a monster without feeling
or affection. But people don't understand us. There is no man, sir,
depend upon it, so bad that he has not some good in him, and I have some
experience; for I have seen the worst of us--the very worst--in the most
horrible of all conditions--for that Macquarie Harbour is a real hell
upon earth! There is no time to tell you about the hardships which the
prisoners suffer in that horrible place--it soon kills them. But my
greatest misery was being deprived of my little girl--my plaything--my
darling--my life! I had not been at Macquarie Harbour a month before
news came that my wife was dead. I'll tell you the truth, sir; attached
to her as I was, I was rather glad than sorry for it. I could not bear
the thought of her falling into anybody else's hands, and as our
separation was now absolutely and hopelessly for ever--it is the
truth--I was rather glad than sorry when I heard of her death. But my
poor little child! I thought of her night and day, wondering and
thinking what would become of her! I could think of nothing else. At
last my thoughts began to turn to the possibility of escaping from
Macquarie Harbour, desperate as the attempt appeared; for, to cross the
bush without arms, and without provisions, exposed to the attacks of the
natives, seemed all but an impossibility. But almost anything may be
done by resolution and patience, and watching your opportunity."

(The escape having been effected.) "We scrambled away as well as we
could, till we got a little distance off, and out of hearing, and then
we set to with a will, and rid ourselves of our fetters, all except
three, and these were too tightly fitted to be got off on a sudden
without better tools. We got the three chained men along with us,
however, as well as we could, for we would not leave them, so we helped
them on by turns, and the next day, when we were more easy, we contrived
to rid them of their encumbrances. We hastened on all night. I ought to
tell you that we heard the bell rung and the alarm given, but we had
gained an hour good, and the ungagging of the sentinels and the
overseers, and hearing their story, took up some time no doubt. Besides,
it is not easy to hit on a track in the dusk, and as there were 14 of
us, armed with two muskets, our pursuers would not proceed as briskly as
they otherwise might, and would not scatter themselves to look after us.
We were without provisions, but we did not care about that, and not
being used to long walks, we were soon knocked up. But the desire of
liberty kept us up, and we struck right across the country in as
straight a line as we could guess. The second day we were all very sick
and faint, and the night before was very cold, and we were cramped and
unfit to travel. The second night we all crept into a cave, which was
sandy inside, where we lay pretty warm, but we were ravenously hungry.
We might have shot more than one kangaroo that day, but it was agreed
that we should not fire, lest the report of our gun should betray our
resting place to our pursuers. As we lay huddled together, we heard the
opossums squealing in the trees about, and two of us, who were least
tired, tried to get some of them. When we climbed up the trees, they
sprang away like squirrels, and we had no chance with them that way;
besides, it was dark, and we could distinguish them only faintly and
obscurely. We did contrive, however, to kill five by pelting them on a
long overhanging bough, but they remained suspended by their tails, and
did not drop, although dead. To hungry men a dead opossum is something!
so one of us contrived to climb to them and get them down; and then we
lighted a fire in the cave, quite at the extremity inside, to prevent
the flame from being seen, and roasted them as the natives do. They were
horrid rank things to eat, and almost made us sick, hungry as we were;
but I don't think a hair of them was left among us. The next day we shot
a kangaroo, but we feared to light a fire because of the smoke, so we
ate it raw.

"We first stuck on the outskirts of New Norfolk, and we debated what we
should do. Some were for attacking the settlement, and getting arms, but
I persuaded them that it would be better for us to endeavour to seize
some small vessel, and escape altogether from the colony, and in the
meantime to keep ourselves close, and not to give any alarm. My
companions agreed to this, and we struck across the country to Brighton
Plains, and so to Pitt Water, where we expected to find some large
boats, or perhaps some small vessel, by means of which we might get

"And how is it that you did not follow that plan?"

"We did follow it, we got to Pitt Water, and lay snug there for a while,
but we were obliged to rob a settler's house of provisions for food, and
that first gave the alarm. We made a dash at a boat, but it was too
late; precautions had been taken, and the soldiers were out after us. We
were then obliged to retreat from Pitt Water, intending to get into the
neighbourhood of the lakes, and go further westward if necessary, and
retreat to the coast, where we judged we should be too far off to be

"You did a great deal of mischief before you left it, if all the stories
are true?"

"We did, Mr. Thornley, I own it, but my men were determined to have
arms, and the settlers of course resisted, and some of my men got
wounded, and that made them savage."

"And afterwards you attacked poor Moss's cottage?"

"My men had been told that he had a large sum in dollars at his hut--I
am surprised that settlers can be so foolish as to take valuables into
the bush--that was all they wanted."

"But why did you take poor Moss along with you?"

"I was obliged to do it to save his life. Some of my men would have
knocked him on the head, if I had not prevented them. It is true, Mr.
Thornley, it is indeed--I saved his life."

"Well, that's something in your favour. And now, as the sun is sinking
fast, and as the dusk will come on us presently, tell me at once what
you would have me do for you."

"Mr. Thornley," said the bushranger, "I have told you of my little girl.
I have seen her since the dispersion of my party at the Great Lake. You
know that I and another escaped. Since then I have ventured in disguise
into Hobart Town itself. The sight of her, and her embraces, have
produced in me a strange feeling. I would willingly sacrifice my life to
do her good, and I cannot conceal from myself that the chances are that
I must be taken at last, and that if I do not perish miserably in the
bush I shall be betrayed, and shot or hanged."

"And what can I do to prevent it?"

"You can do nothing to prevent that end, for I know that I am too deep
in for it to be pardoned. If I were to give myself up the Government
would be obliged to hang me for example's sake. No, no: I know my own
condition, and I foresee my own fate. It is not of myself that I am
thinking, but of my child. Mr. Thornley, will you do this for me--will
you do an act of kindness and charity to a wretched man, who has only
one thing to care for in this world? I know it is much to ask, and that
I ought not to be disappointed if you refuse it. Will you keep an eye on
my poor child, and so far as you can, protect her? I cannot ask you to
provide for her, but be her protector, and let her little innocent heart
know that there is some one in the wide world to whom she may look up
for advice--for assistance, perhaps, in difficulty; at all events, for
kindness and sympathy: this is my request. Will you have so much
compassion on the poor, blasted and hunted bushranger, as to promise to
do for me this act of kindness?"

I gazed with astonishment, and I must add, not without visible concern,
on the passionate appeal of this desperate man in behalf of his child. I
saw he was in earnest--there is no mistaking a man under such
circumstances. I rapidly contemplated all the inconvenience of such an
awkward charge as a hanged bushranger's orphan. As these thoughts passed
through my mind, I caught the eye of the father. There was an expression
in it of such utter abandonment of everything but the fate of his little
daughter, which seemed to depend on my answer, that I was fairly
overcome, and could not refuse him. "I will look after her," I said,
"but there must be no more blood on your hands; you must promise me
that. She shall be cared for, and now that I have said it, that's
enough--I never break my word."

"Enough," said he, "and more than I expected. I thank you for this, Mr.
Thornley. I could thank you on my knees. But what is that? Look there! A
man on horseback, and more on foot. I must be on my guard."

As he spoke, the horseman galloped swiftly towards us. The men on foot
came on in a body, and I perceived that they were a party of soldiers.
The Gipsy regarded them earnestly for a moment, and then ran to his gun,
but in his eagerness he tripped and fell. The horseman, who was one of
the constables from Hobart Town, was too quick for him. Before he could
recover himself, and seize his gun, the horseman was upon him.
"Surrender, you villain, or I'll shoot you."

The Gipsy clutched the horse's bridle, which reared and plunged,
throwing the constable from his seat. He was a powerful and active man,
and catching hold of the Gipsy in his descent, he grappled with him and
tried to pinion his arms. He failed in this, and a fearful struggle took
place between them. "Come on," cried the constable to the soldiers, "let
us take him alive."

The soldiers came on at a run. In the meantime, the constable had got
the Gipsy down, and the soldiers were close at hand, when suddenly, and
with a convulsive effort, the Gipsy got his arms round the body of his
captor, and with desperate efforts rolled himself round and round, with
the constable interlaced in his arms, to the edge of the precipice. "For
God's sake," cried the constable, with a shriek of agony, "help, help!
We shall be over!" But it was too late. The soldiers were in the act of
grasping the wretched man's clothes when the bushranger, with a last
convulsive struggle, whirled the body of his antagonist over the
precipice, himself accompanying him in his fall. We gazed over the edge,
and beheld the bodies of the two clasped fast together, turning over and
over in the air, till they came with a terrible shock to the ground,
smashed and lifeless. As the precipice overhung the river, the bodies
had not far to roll before they splashed into the water, and we saw them
no more.

The reader may be interested to know that Mr. Thornley was better than
his word. He sought the daughter of the unfortunate man, took her home
to his house, and afterwards sent her to England.

The gangs of bushrangers that infested New South Wales in the early days
were not so numerous as those in Van Diemen's Land, neither were they as
a rule so cruel and bloodthirsty. But some of the outlaws were terrible
characters, and during the period they carried on their nefarious
operations the country over which they roamed was kept in a continual
state of unrest and fear.

Up to 1815 bushranging--and that of the more harmless kind--was confined
to the country between Sydney and Emu Plains, for the first difficulty
of mountain travelling had not then been overcome. The men who "took the
bush" had escaped either from the barracks at Sydney, or from the road
and ironed gangs about Windsor, Richmond, Parramatta, and Emu Plains, or
had absconded from the service of townsmen or settlers in the localities
named, and were well content if they could, even for a short time only,
eke out a bare existence among the roving tribes of half-civilized
blacks, or by occasional visits to the few cultivated fields or barns
not guarded by the military. These men were, however, sooner or later
driven by starvation to surrender, glad to seek food although associated
with stripes from the "cat" or drudgery in chains, heavier than that
from which they had sought relief by flight. Some were shot down by the
soldiers in the bush; not a few fell victims to the blackfellow's spear
or waddy; others lost themselves in the bush and perished, their
bleached bones--or that portion of them which had been left by the
native dogs--being afterwards found near some "blind" gully or amidst
the scrub.

The opening of the mountain road from Emu Plains to Bathurst not only
extended the area of rapine to the new settlements on the western
plains, but gave criminals a far better chance of intercepting valuable
booty while in transit over the rugged tableland of the Blue Mountains.
But while, as we shall see, the Bathurst district had its full share of
trouble, it was still nearer Sydney that plunder was sought by the more
daring spirits.

The following extract from a Sydney newspaper of 1826 at once
illustrates this type of crime, and brings vividly before our eyes the
closeness of the bush to Sydney in those early days:-

Two daring bushrangers, named Mustin and Watkins, were captured on
Monday last, between four and five o'clock in the morning, near Burwood,
six or seven miles distant from Sydney, by Major Lockyer, J.P., and a
party of military, together with Constables Sutland and O'Meara (and
some others) of the police. The Superintendent of Police, together with
a full bench of magistrates, was engaged for a considerable length of
time on Monday in receiving depositions connected with some of the
atrocities perpetrated by these desperadoes, of which, it is thought, a
considerable number remain undeveloped. It appeared that, on Friday
last, between eight and nine o'clock at night, three men, armed with
guns and pistols, two of whom were the prisoners, entered the house of
Mr. James Coles, publican, on the Liverpool-road, after all the family,
with the exception of a man servant and a girl, had retired to rest.
Immediately on their entrance, having ascertained that the master of the
house was in bed, they, with many threats in case of disobedience,
directed the servants to remain in the bar, leaving one of their party
as a guard over them, whilst the other two proceeded to the bedroom of
Mr. Coles; and telling him that they would blow his brains out if he
made the least resistance proceeded to search the place, and demanded
what money he had in his possession. Mr. Coles denied having any in the
house; but the robbers having discovered a box which they suspected to
contain what they were in search of, one of them presented his musket,
stating that he would immediately blow it open if the keys were not
instantly delivered to him. One of the family, apprehensive of personal
violence being resorted to, accordingly complied with the demand by
giving up the keys, when the robbers possessed themselves of all the
money they could find, amounting to upwards of 60, together with a
watch and seals and a pistol. They afterwards repaired to a storeroom
and took away a leg of pork and a pig's head; and returning to the bar
they ordered the female servant to fill them half a gallon of brandy and
the same quantity of wine, which having obtained, together with about
four pounds weight of sugar and a pair of boots which hung in the bar,
they departed.

It appeared, also, that the same party paid a visit to Burwood, the
residence of Dr. Dulhunty, on the following night, Saturday. The noise
of dogs barking alarmed the family, and Mr. Dulhunty, jun., immediately
proceeded to the hut of the Government servants, at some distance from
the house, which he found, on his entrance, to be filled with strange
men. Some excuse was set up that they belonged to a neighbouring road
party, and Mr. Dulhunty returned to the house, when after some time
receiving a second alarm from one of his family, having seen a flash
from a gun or pistol in the direction of the hut, he again went out,
armed with a pistol and stick, and finding the same party, he ordered
them away, when using some imprecations they rushed out, and one of them
snapped a pistol at Mr. Dulhunty, which fortunately missed fire. A
scuffle ensued, in which Mr. Dulhunty was knocked down, and beaten by
one of the ruffians with the butt end of a pistol. He afterwards ran
towards the house to procure assistance, and on his way perceived a man
getting over a fence, at whom he presented a pistol, and happening to
slip at the moment, the pistol went off as he fell, and the fellow
escaped, but it is thought received his death wound on that occasion,
and was hidden in the bush by his companions, as he has not since been
discovered. The robbers succeeded in effecting their escape on Saturday
night, and on Sunday morning, previous to coming to town to give
information to the police, Mr. Dulhunty discovered part of a steel
watch-chain, with a gold seal and keys appended, lying close to the
fence, and near as he stated to a pool of blood. The chain and seals,
together with a watch subsequently found with the prisoners, were
identified by Mr. Coles as those taken from the premises on the
preceding night. On Monday morning, the constables, accompanied by Major
Lockyer, as a magistrate, and a party of soldiers, apprehended the
prisoners in the bush, about a mile and a half from Burwood. They were
concealed under two fallen trees, with a tarpaulin and brushwood over
them, and, on being searched, the money taken from Mr. Coles was found
in their possession when they were secured. Major Lockyer said to
Mustin, "You are the man Mr. Dulhunty beat last night," he replied, "I
am", and, after finding the money, when Major Lockyer directed a further
search to be made about the place, Mustin said, "Oh! there is no
occasion, you have got enough to hang fifty men." The boots taken from
the house of Mr. Coles were identified at the police station, on the
prisoner Watkins, and upon the Superintendent ordering them to be taken
off, some of the bystanders overheard Mustin say, "You'll make a liar of
your mother now, she always said you'd be hanged in your shoes, but you
won't." They were yesterday fully committed.

In addition to the foregoing, we hasten to give the following from our
Parramatta correspondent:-

About 11 o'clock on Saturday night last information reached Mr. John
Thorn, Chief Constable of Parramatta, that a party of bushrangers were
reconnoitering contiguous to the Western Toll-gate, in the Government
Domain. Mr. Thorn, in consequence, accompanied by Wardsman Wells and
Constable Ratty, aided also by Mr. Piesley, jun., proceeded to the
toll-house, where the Chief Constable concerted that Constable Ratty
should proceed with a large bundle down the road and counterfeit
drunkenness, while the party made a circuitous route on the other side
of the road in the bush. Constable Ratty proceeded as directed, and,
when at the distance only of about 100 yards from the toll-house, four
or five men, as stated by Ratty, jumped over and demanded the bundle:
some of the party were armed. Ratty, as pre-directed, said, in a tone of
voice to be heard by the party, "Well, if you must take the bundle, you
must;" and one of the robbers then took it from him. Ratty immediately
fired at and shot the man through the neck, on which two other shots
were returned. The party then made up, when the foremost, Mr. John
Piesley, found four men contending with Ratty. He fired at one, who
fell, exclaiming "I am killed." The night was extremely dark, and the
repeated flashes from the firearms rendered it still more impenetrable.
Wells then fired, and Mr. Thorn and J. Piesley pursued another of the
gang; Piesley fired, but missed him. They continued the pursuit, when
the man took the fence. Mr. Thorn jumped also upon the fence, and as the
robber was making into the bush, he fired, and the man fell, but before
Mr. T. came up he rose, and ran a few yards and fell again, when he was
secured. He was slightly wounded in the head by a ball. On coming up to
the others of the party, it was discovered that Constable Ratty received
a ball which penetrated the middle of his back, and passed through and
lodged in his breast, within half and inch of the chin, where the ball
was extracted; one of the three robbers that were shot escaped during
the engagement, and it is with considerable regret I inform you, that
another of them, when within about ten yards of the gaol, escaped from a
constable into whose custody he had been given by the chief constable,
while he re reported the circumstances to Dr. Harris. Two of the men's
names so shot are Cook and Ward; the other, who escaped in the contest,
is supposed to be Currey, runaways from the mountain iron gang. Patrols
of the constables and military have since been sent out to scour the
haunts of those marauders. Constable Ratty continues very ill indeed;
considerable danger is apprehended; it is also doubtful whether the shot
by which he was wounded was not fired by Wardsman Wells in mistake.
Great credit is due to the chief constable and party (in which Mr.
Piesley, jun., behaved in a very intrepid manner), for their exertions
on this occasion.

When information of the foregoing depredations reached Colonel Dumaresq,
the Private Secretary, he directly issued orders for three different
detachments of military to proceed and surround the country in the
neighbourhood of Liverpool Parramatta, &c., so as to completely cut off
all chance for the bushrangers to escape; and it is mainly to this
promptitude that the inhabitants of those districts are indebted for the
capture of such desperadoes. It is worthy of remark, that so efficient
have been the means adopted by the authorities of late, that scarcely a
robbery has been committed, the perpetrators of which have not been
secured within a few days after.

Here is a proclamation issued by Governor Darling a few years later. The
Governor's attitude as lecturer on morals is not less interesting than
the rewards which he deals out to the supporters of law and order:-

Colonial Secretary's Office:- The Governor having had under
consideration the circumstances attending the death of MacNamara and the
execution of Dalton, would fain encourage a hope that these awful events
will awaken their abettors and associates in crime to a sense of their
own situation, and will prove a useful lesson to others, less depraved
and vicious, by deterring them from pursuing the like criminal and
unlawful courses.

Let these but for a moment consider the short and dreadful career of
these wretched men, and they will require no further warning. They would
find that the utmost success would be no recompense for the anxiety of
mind which they must have constantly experienced. Driven by their
lawless pursuits to the foulest means--robbery and murder--of obtaining
a precarious and guilty subsistence, they wandered in fear and dread of
being overtaken, as they were at last; when, as if by the dispensation
of a just and unerring Providence, MacNamara, the most atrocious
offender of the two, was, in an instant, deprived of life, to be made
answerable elsewhere for the crimes he has committed here; while Dalton
was reserved to expiate his offences, which he did, in a few days, by an
ignominious death on the gallows.

The fate of those who commit crimes, such as these men have been guilty
of, is certain. They may escape for a moment: it will be for a moment
only. The violated laws of God and man seek retribution, and will not
suffer him to live who has taken away the life of another.

The Governor has been induced to offer these observations, that the
inconsiderate (if there be men who commit crimes from want of
consideration) may reflect and be made aware of the fate which
inevitably awaits the commission of the more serious offences. On the
hardened and more confirmed criminals he has but little hope of making
any impression; but he trusts the effort to restrain those less devoted
to vicious pursuits will not be entirely fruitless.

Robberies would be less frequent if receivers were not so numerous.
These people may be assured that the utmost rigour of the law will be
exercised in their case. Let the fate of Adlan and wife be a warning to
them. The former is now under sentence of transportation to Norfolk
Island for 14 years, and the latter to Moreton Bay for the same period.
These people were the depositories of the plunder of Bowen and Jackson's
houses: plunder acquired by acts of atrocity and outrage. The facility
of disposing of stolen property leads to the commission of robberies and
other serious crimes. Every bushman should feel that it is his duty to
bring to conviction the receiver as he would an assassin, with whom the
former is generally identified, and not unfrequently the abettor and
instigator of his crimes.

It now becomes the more pleasing duty of the Governor, which he
discharges with the sincerest satisfaction, to notice the meritorious
conduct of Mr. John Thorn, the chief constable of Parramatta, who
evinced the utmost intrepidity in pursuing and capturing Dalton.

Samuel Horn, wardsman of Parramatta, had not only the good fortune to
escape the shot of MacNamara, which passed through his hat, but to kill
him at the instant, his ball having lodged in MacNamara's breast.

Anthony Finn, ordinary constable, though not immediately concerned in
the capture of either of the prisoners, has a fair claim to praise for
his zeal on the occasion.

The Governor has been pleased to order, in consideration of the services
of Mr. Thorn, that he shall receive a grant of land of one square mile,
free of quit rent for ever; and that the deed shall specify the services
for which the grant has been made.

Also, that Samuel Horn, holding a conditional pardon, shall receive a
full pardon, with a grant of half a square mile of land, free of quit
rent; and that Anthony Finn shall receive half a square mile of land,
free of quit rent.

Having thus noticed the proceedings of the police of Parramatta, the
Governor has equal satisfaction in expressing his approbation of the
conduct of Mr. Frederick Meredith, junior, chief constable of Liverpool,
in the attempt made on Jackson's house, in the month of March last. The
assailants, five in number, men of desperate character (MacNamara and
Dalton being of the party) were not beat off until after a sharp
contest, in which Mr. Meredith was severely wounded. It is very
satisfactory to the Governor to advert to the highly commendable conduct
of Mr. Jackson, in defending his house: and he has been pleased to order
that William Johnson, his assigned servant, who so courageously assisted
in protecting his master's properly, shall receive a ticket-of-leave for
his services on the occasion.

The Governor has further been pleased to order, as an acknowledgment of
Mr. Meredith's services generally, and more especially on the occasion
of the attack on Jackson, that he shall receive a grant of one square
mile of land, the same as Mr. Thorn, the chief constable of Parramatta.

His Excellency cannot dismiss this subject without expressing the
satisfaction he has derived from learning that Mr. Thorn and Mr.
Meredith are both natives of the colony. They have availed themselves in
the most spirited manner of the opportunity which their situation
afforded them, of serving their country. Let their brethren generally
imitate their example as the Government will foster them as its

A fuller account of Donohoe and Webber, the most notorious of the
Cumberland bushrangers, and of the disturbed conditions which prevailed
in the west during the twenties, and culminated in the Bathurst outbreak
of 1830, will be found in the body of this work. After that date
bushranging ceased to be the serious and all prevailing evil which it
had become in the later twenties; though the exploits of Martin Cash in
Van Diemen's Land, of the "Jew Boy" in the Hunter Valley, and of
"Scotchey" and Witton in the Lachlan district, are important enough to
receive separate treatment.

Mail coach robberies were not frequent in these earlier days, for the
simple reason that there were then very few mail coaches to be "stuck
up". Yet here is one case that occurred some years before the first sod
of the first railway was turned at Redfern. A four-horse coach was
proceeding with the "Royal mail" from Windsor to Sydney, there being
several passengers, one of whom was on the box-seat with the driver,
being well armed. At the foot of a hill the body of a man, lying upon
his face, was seen in the middle of the road. The driver and his
companion at once jumped to the conclusion that the man had fallen a
victim to the bushrangers, and as they neared him, the coachman pulled
up his team, handed the reins to his companion, and was in the act of
descending to see if the man were really dead, when the whole party were
startled by hearing the command, "Bail up, or you're dead men!"
proceeding from the roadside, while the driver found himself looking
fair into the barrel of a gun which was being pointed at him from the
spot. At the same time the couchant bandit--for such he proved to
be--sprang from the ground, turned the leading horses across the pole of
the coach, and then covered the box-seat passenger with his blunderbus
before he could get rid of the reins which the coachman had placed in
his hands. The driver was then commanded to unhitch the horses, and the
passengers were compelled to stand in a row on the roadside while one of
the bushrangers "went through" their pockets and appropriated all their
money and watches. The mailbags were then ripped open and the letters
containing money extracted. The armed passenger had on a pair of
trousers which took the fancy of the tallest of the robbers, and much to
his chagrin he was compelled to disrobe, being left to shiver in the
cold while the footpad drew the trousers over his own. Then taking the
two leaders as "mounts", the bushrangers bid their victims "good-day"
and departed, leaving the impoverished and frightened passengers to
pursue the rest of the journey with two horses instead of four.

The gold discoveries gave bushranging a new lease of life. When the
first gold fever set in, the crowds that left Sydney and other centres
of population for the distant fields at Summerhill and the Turon, and
later still, Adelong and the Ovens, contained not a small sprinkling of
those who, if they were not then bushrangers, afterwards became such. It
suited them better to waylay and rob those who were going to or retiring
from the goldfields than to themselves handle pick and shovel and
cradle, and they scrupled not to murder as well as rob if the hapless
victims made even a show of resistance. As might be expected, it was the
old convict element that first came to the front in this way, and I give
in a subsequent chapter two typical sketches of their mode of
procedure--the story of Day, the blacksmith bushranger, and that of
Williams and Flanagan, the highway robbers of the St. Kilda-road.

But a new era was opening--that of the gangs, made up for the most part
of freeborn men, the sons of small farmers settled on the Western
mountain slopes, whose begetter and prime exemplar was Frank Gardiner.
With them we approach times within the knowledge of most middle aged
Australians; many of my readers will have very vivid recollections of
the tumultuous years that followed 1860, when Gardiner and Ben Hall, in
the west, and the Clarkes in the south, filled the newspapers with their
audacity, and men's hearts with the fear of them. In this volume I have
space to deal only with Gardiner and his mates: the full development of
the gang-system, its wane towards the end of the sixties, and its
unexpected revival in 1878 by the notorious Kellys, will require a
volume of their own.




In early life Howe had been a sailor on a British man-of-war; but he
grew weary of ship's discipline, deserted, and next appeared as a
highwayman on English roads. He was soon caught, convicted, and
transported to Van Diemen's Land, arriving there in 1812. On arrival he
was assigned to a merchant and stockholder named Ingle; but Howe had
large ambitions. "I have served the King," he said, "and will be no
meaner man's slave." Upon which he took to the bush, and gathered round
him the most troublesome of all the gangs then abroad. When Macquarie
made his offer of pardon, Howe and his companions came in with the rest,
and took a holiday in Hobart Town; but life was soon tired of town life,
and took to the bush again under Whitehead, who was the leader of a gang
of twenty-eight.

The gang plundered in a most systematic and relentless way, and did not
scruple to shoot down any who made an attempt at remonstrance or
resistance. Attacking the settlers of New Norfolk, they took away their
firearms, broke open their homesteads, burned their wheat stacks and
houses, and carried off all the portable property upon which they could
lay their hands. Even the Police Magistrate and the district constable
at Pittwater had a fire-stick applied to their stacks, and counted
themselves fortunate not to have lost house and life as well. A second
attack on New Norfolk was unsuccessfully opposed by a mixed force of
settlers and soldiers: the bushrangers shot two, captured a third, and
drove their opponents from the settlement. But a second party of
soldiers, sent post haste from Hobart Town on receipt of the news,
surprised the gang in the midst of its marauding, and mortally wounded
its leader. Two others were captured, but Howe and the rest got clean
away in the darkness of the night. When Whitehead was wounded he
immediately appealed to Howe to cut off his head, so that the pursuers
should not get the reward; for it had been arranged between them that
whichever survived should do his fallen comrade this service. Howe
carried out the agreement, but the head was found in the bush later on,
and the body was carried to Hobart and gibbeted at Hunter's Island.

After the death of Whitehead, Howe assumed the leadership of the gang,
and at once led them on to fresh depredations. Their movements were very
rapid, and covered a large area of country; one day they were reported
at Launceston and shortly afterwards at Bagdad, a hundred miles off,
where their scouts had given them news of rich booty.

Howe assumed the airs of a chief, and introduced naval rule into his
camp. The members were compelled to subscribe to articles of obedience,
the oath was administered on a Prayer Book, and penalties were exacted
for any breach of discipline. He styled himself "Governor of the
Rangers", as opposed to the representative of Royalty in Hobart Town,
whom he called "Governor of the Town".

In all his marauding expeditions he was attended by a faithful
aboriginal girl named Black Mary, who must have been invaluable to him
both as scout and as servant. But his gratitude was as feeble as his
morals, and her fidelity had but ill reward. Some soldiers of the 46th,
who had been despatched in pursuit of the gang, once came across Howe
and Mary apart from the others. Howe ran for his life: the girl could
not keep up with him; he saw that the soldiers must overtake her and
capture him if he remained with her; so he turned and fired upon her.
She fell and was seized. Her master, throwing away his knapsack and gun,
plunged into the scrub, through which his pursuers could not follow him.
In the knapsack was a primitive-looking book of kangaroo skin, upon
which were recorded, in letters of blood, the dreams of greatness which
filled the bushranger's mind.

Mary could not forgive her faithless lord. The wounds were not mortal,
and when they had healed she determined to have her revenge. Leading his
pursuers, she tracked the hunted bushranger from place to place, until
the chase grew so close and hot that Howe offered to surrender on terms.
He wrote to the "Governor of the Town" and managed to get the letter
forwarded by a person who was able to go between the two "Governors"
without injury to himself. And, strange to say, Governor Sorell
entertained the proposals made by "Governor" Howe, and actually sent one
of his officers to treat with him.

Outlaws have dictated terms on many occasions, but never, I venture to
say, under such conditions. Society, as West says, must have been on the
verge of dissolution when letters and messages could pass between the
Government and an outlaw. The surrender took place in due course, and
Howe was once more a prisoner.

His gang, however, was by no means dispersed. Howe had promised to
betray them, but the information he gave was of very little use, and
things were soon worse than ever. A reign of terror began. The richer
settlers abandoned their homes and took refuge in the town. The boat
that carried provisions between Launceston and Georgetown was seized,
and recruits obtained from its crew. The Governor appealed to the
public, who raised by subscription a reward for the gang's capture. A
party of soldiers ran them to earth, but could do nothing against their
well-posted force but kill its new leader.

During this time Howe was in prison. Notwithstanding his previous
character, he was allowed considerable freedom of movement by the
authorities, and soon took advantage of it. He pleaded ill-health, was
allowed to walk abroad in charge of a constable, and walked very much
abroad, leaving the constable in the rear. Soon he was again at the head
of a party, which included some of his old companions in arms. But one
night trouble arose; two of the gang incurred the anger of the leader,
who decided to make short work of them. At midnight, while both were
sleeping, he crept upon them, and put an end to one by cutting his
throat from ear to ear, and to the other by clubbing him on the head
with the stock of a gun.

By degrees the gang was reduced to three--Howe, Watts, and Brown--and
more trouble came. Brown surrendered himself to the authorities, and
Watts plotted against his leader to save his own life. At this time
there were rewards out for Howe and Watts amounting to 100 each, and
knowing this, the men were increasingly watchful; but Watts placed
himself in communication with a stock-keeper on a station near, and
elaborated plans for capturing Howe. The latter suspected that something
was wrong, however, and accused Watts of infidelity, which the latter
denied; as a proof that he was prepared to argue the matter calmly he
suggested that each should knock out the priming of his gun before
coming to an explanation. Howe agreed: Drewe, the stock-keeper (probably
an old confederate), came up, and the three proceeded to "camp". As Howe
stooped to fan the fire into a blaze with his hat, Watts suddenly
pounced upon him, threw him down, and with Drewe's assistance secured
his hands. They then took his knife and pistols and went on with
breakfast, giving Howe to understand that they intended to take him
straight into Hobart Town. When all was ready they started on their
journey. Watts going first with a gun in his hand; Howe, with his hands
bound, coming next; and Drewe bringing up the rear. They had not
proceeded far, however, when the bound leader suddenly exerted his giant
strength, snapped his bands, and sprang upon Watts, stabbing him in the
back with a dirk which his captors had overlooked in their search. As
Watts fell Howe seized his gun and fired at Drewe, shooting him dead.
Strange to say, he did not stop to complete his work on Watts, but left
him where he had fallen, doubtless thinking that the slow death would be
a greater punishment. Watts managed to reach the town, however, and give
information, afterwards being removed to Sydney, where he died of his

Once more free, Howe determined to act for himself, without trusting his
liberty to companions; but he spent a terrible time. The Governor added
a second hundred pounds to the first reward, as well as a free pardon
and a passage to England to any prisoner who might succeed in bringing
him to justice. Hunted more persistently than a wild dog would have
been, Howe betook himself to the mountains, and only appeared when
hunger or lack of ammunition forced him to the settlements: at such
times his reputation and his savage looks gained him time to seize the
supplies he wanted before his victims could make up their minds to
resist him.

Bonwick, who was well acquainted with the locality, thus describes his
hiding place:- "Badgered on all sides, he chose a retreat among the
mountain fastnesses of the Upper Shannon, a dreary solitude of
cloud-land, the rocky home of hermit eagles. On this elevated
plateau--contiguous to the almost bottomless lakes from whose
crater-formed recesses in ancient days torrents of liquid fire poured
forth upon the plains of Tasmania, or rose uplifted in basaltic masses
like frowning Wellington;--within sight of lofty hills of snow, having
the Peak of Teneriffe to the south. Frenchman's Cap and Byron to the
west. Miller's Bluff to the east, and the serrated crest of the Western
Tier to the north; entrenched in dense woods, with surrounding forests
of dead poles through whose leafless passages the wind harshly whistled
in a storm;--thus situated amidst some of the sublimest scenes of
nature, away from suffering and degraded humanity, the lonely bushranger
was confronted with his God and his own conscience."

In October, 1818, a former accomplice in the pay of a man named Worrall,
who had determined to capture him, lured him to his fate by promises of
food. The story of his capture is given in the captor's own words in the
Military Sketch Book, and I cannot do better than repeat it here:-

"I was now," says Worrall, "determined to make a push for the capture of
this villain, Mick Howe, for which I was promised a passage to England
in the next ship that sailed, and the amount of reward laid upon his
head. I found out a man of the name of Warburton, who was in the habit
of hunting kangaroos for their skins, and who had frequently met Howe
during his excursions, and sometimes furnished him with ammunition. He
gave me such an account of Howe's habits, that I felt convinced we could
take him with a little assistance. I therefore spoke to a man named
Pugh, belonging to the 48th Regiment, one who I knew was a most cool and
resolute fellow. He immediately entered into my views, and having
applied to Major Bell, his commanding officer, he was recommended by him
to the Governor, by whom he was permitted to act, and allowed to join
us; so he and I went directly to Warburton, who heartily entered into
the scheme, and all things were arranged for putting it into execution.
The plan was this:- Pugh and I were to remain in Warburton's hut, while
Warburton himself was to fall into Howe's way. The hut was on the River
Shannon, standing so completely by itself, and so out of the track of
anybody who might be feared by Howe, that there was every probability of
accomplishing our wishes, and "scotch the snake", as they say, if not
kill it. Pugh and I accordingly proceeded to the appointed hut. We
arrived there before daybreak, and having made a hearty breakfast,
Warburton set out to seek Howe. He took no arms with him, in order to
still more effectually carry his point, but Pugh and I were provided
with muskets and pistols. The sun had just been an hour up when we saw
Warburton and Howe upon the top of the hill coming towards the hut. We
expected they would be with us in a quarter of an hour, and so we sat
down upon the trunk of a tree inside the hut calmly waiting their
arrival. An hour passed but they did not come, and I crept to the door
cautiously and peeped out. There I saw them standing within a hundred
yards of us in earnest conversation; as I learned afterwards the delay
arose from Howe suspecting that all was not right; I drew back from the
door to my station, and about ten minutes after this we plainly heard
footsteps and the voice of Warburton. Another moment and Howe slowly
entered the hut--his gun presented and cocked. The instant he espied us
he cried out "Is that your game?" and immediately fired, but Pugh's
activity prevented the shot from taking effect, for he knocked the gun
aside. Howe ran off like a wolf. I fired but missed. Pugh then halted
and took aim at him, but also missed. I immediately flung away the gun
and ran after Howe; Pugh also pursued; Warburton was a considerable
distance away. I ran very fast; so did Howe; and if he had not fallen
down an unexpected bank, I should not have been fleet enough for him.
This fall, however, brought me up with him; he was on his legs and
preparing to climb a broken bank, which would have given him a free run
into the wood, when I presented my pistol at him and desired him to
stand; he drew forth another, but did not level it at me. We were then
about fifteen yards from each other, the bank he fell from being between
us. He stared at me with astonishment, and to tell you the truth, I was
a little astonished at him, for he was covered with patches of kangaroo
skins, and wore a black beard--a haversack and powder horn slung across
his shoulders. I wore my beard also as I do now, and a curious pair we
looked. After a moment's pause he cried out. "Black beard against grey
beard for a million!" and fired; I slapped at him, and I believe hit
him, for he staggered, but rallied again, and was clearing the bank
between him and me when Pugh ran up and with the butt end of his
firelock knocked him down, jumped after him, and battered his brains
out, just as he was opening a clasp knife to defend himself."

So closed the last act in Howe's career. His head was cut off and
exhibited in Hobart Town, and those who had feared him felt safe at
last. Many murders were attributed to him besides those referred to. It
was said that among his victims were two of his boon companions, who had
committed some trifling offence, and concerning one of these it was said
that Howe tied his hands and feet before shooting him.

The remaining members of the original gang all met a deservedly
ignominious fate, most of them before Howe's death. M'Guire and Burne
were tried and executed for the murder of Carlisle. Geary, who assumed
command during the interregnum caused by Howe's temporary surrender, was
shot dead in an encounter with the police. Lepton had his throat cut by
a recent addition to the ranks named Hillier, who also nearly "did for"
Collier at the same time. The latter was subsequently hanged in Hobart,
after being tried in Sydney and convicted. Other men who joined the gang
at different times also came to a violent end.


Brady was a Macquarie Harbour convict, whom the authorities supposed to
be as peaceable as he was industrious. Soon after his arrival, however,
he set about forming a secret league among his fellow convicts, of whom
his size and strength made him undisputed leader. In June, 1824, while
the commandant and surgeon were absent from the settlement, the convicts
made a rush for the Government boat, but the officer in charge pushed
off before they could seize it. They captured the surgeon, however, who
could not reach the boat in time, and some of them were about to flog
him, when Brady, whom he had treated kindly, interposed and saved him.
The convicts then secured another boat, belonging to the soldiers, and
put to sea, in spite of pursuit from the settlement. Nine days
afterwards they landed at the Derwent*, and at once set about an
organised plan of bushranging. As leader of the gang, Brady laid down
rules for its guidance; they must neither injure the defenceless, nor
molest females, but could kill traitors, revenge injuries, and carry
away all that was likely to prove useful to them.

[* "They seized a boat (9th June, 1824) and readied the Derwent on the
18th, visited the residence of Mr. Mason, whom they beat with great
cruelty: they next robbed a servant of Lieutenant Gunn of firearms. Gunn
pursued them and captured live, who were tried and hanged along with
Pearce."--"Fenton's Hist. of Tas." p. 73.]

About a week after their escape. Governor Arthur issued the following
proclamation:- "The Lieutenant-Governor feels it necessary to announce
that the party of prisoners who escaped from Macquarie Harbour have
again passed into the interior. His Honour begs in the most earnest
manner to call upon all settlers in their respective districts to enter
with increased zeal and determination into measures for the apprehension
of these robbers. To the most common understanding, not labouring under
the miserable depression of personal danger, means will be presented,
after a robbery has been committed, of tracing the movements of the
depredators; and it must be understood to be the positive duty of any
settler to spread the information immediately, and to adopt the most
prompt and energetic steps for closely pursuing these miscreants until
they are fairly hunted down. All Crown servants are to be immediately
assembled by their masters, and apprized that the Government expects
that every man shall give all possible information as may lead to the
apprehension of these bushrangers."

Their first appearance was at Clarence Plains, where they stopped, and
robbed a Mr. Patrick Brodie. Almost immediately afterwards they
possessed themselves of firearms and ammunition by plundering a man in
the service of Lieut. Gunn. Gunn, a retired military officer on half
pay, was in Hobart Town at the time, but, on hearing of the robbery, at
once set out in pursuit, and captured five of them, who were immediately
placed upon their trial, condemned, and hanged.

The rest still continued their depredations. The soldiers could not
catch them; the settlers were helpless, for their convict servants were
more likely to join the bushrangers than "split" upon them. Many, in
fact, joined the gang, and those who did not join acted as useful
confederates and news-carriers.

On one occasion they were near Oatlands, and were recognised by a lad
attached to a settler's farm. Brady learnt from him there were at that
moment a number of soldiers in a hut near. "But never mind," said the
boy, "we'll beat 'em. Wait a bit--they are tired and hungry; I am
getting their supper; when they are feeding you rush them." "But the
guns!" exclaimed the leader. "Oh, they are all right in the corner of
the hut," replied the boy: "all you have to do is to come softly along
when they are at supper, lay hold of the pieces, and the work is done."
It was dusk when the traitorous cook carried in the chops and tea.
Suddenly a noise was heard at the door; the soldiers looked round, to
find they were each covered with a loaded musket. The robbers tied them
up, robbed the house, and departed, Brady taking with him the lad, who
wanted to join the gang.*

[* Two settlers later on caught this boy and a mate asleep under a tree,
and shot both of them without offering them a chance of escape. For this
act the settlers each received a free grant of land from the Governor.]

At one squatter's house they demanded free quarters of the overseer,
were well looked after by the convict servants, and went off at last
with everything of value. When attempts were made to track them they
burned a farmer's three years' store of wool. With every exploit they
grew bolder.

Up to this time the reward offered for the capture of this gang was only
10 per head, but strong representation being made to Governor Arthur,
he caused the following Government Proclamation to be issued:

Government House, April 14th, 1825. It has occasioned the
Lieutenant-Governor much concern that the continued outrages of the two
prisoners, McCabe and Brady, have led to the death of another settler.
His Honour has directed that a reward of 25 shall be given for the
apprehension of either of these men; and that any prisoner giving such
information as may directly lead to their apprehension shall receive a
ticket-of-leave, and that any prisoner apprehending and securing either
of them, in addition to the above reward, shall receive a conditional
pardon. The magistrates are very pressingly desired to circulate this
order and to direct the constables to visit all huts of stock-keepers,
shepherds, and others in their respective districts, notifying the
rewards offered, and cautioning such persons against receiving,
harbouring, or supporting these men, who are charged with the commission
of murder. Fifty acres of land, free from restrictions, will be given to
the chief constable in whose district either McCabe or Brady is taken,
provided it shall be certified by the magistrate of the district that he
has zealously exerted himself in the promulgation of this order, and to
the adoption of measures for giving it effect.

The magistrates will see the importance of conveying timely information
of the movements of McCabe and Brady; and they will consider themselves
duly authorised to incur any responsible expense in so doing.

By command of his Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor.

JOHN MONTAGU, Secretary.

Three days after this notice had been circulated, Brady coolly answered
it by posting on the door of the Royal Oak Inn at Crossmarch the

Mountain Home, April 20th, 1825.

It has caused Matthew Brady much concern that such a person known as Sir
George Arthur is at large. Twenty gallons of rum will be given to any
person that will deliver his person unto me. I also caution John Priest
that I will hang him for his ill-treatment of Mrs. Blackwell, at


M'Cabe, the colleague mentioned by Governor Arthur, was not much longer
at large. For offering violence to a woman Brady shot him through the
hand, disarmed and thrashed him, and expelled him finally from the gang.
McCabe then began robbing settlers single-handed; but one of his victims
escaped and brought the police upon him, and his race was a very short
one. Ten days later the bushranger ended his career upon the scaffold.

One of Brady's boldest exploits was the capture of Sorell Gaol, and
release of the prisoners. The gang, eight in number, made a descent upon
the Pittwater district, and began by a general plunder. At Bethune's
they put up for the night, imprisoning the owner and his servants: and
as the next day was wet they stayed on quite calmly. In the evening two
visitors arrived, Mr. Walter Bethune and Captain Bunster. Brady rose to
the occasion. He called a groom to take their horses, conducted them
inside, assured them there was nothing to fear, and ordered dinner for
them. During dinner something was said about Brady's giving himself up.
He was quite indignant about it. There was not the slightest necessity,
he said: the gang was quite at its ease; in case of being hard-pressed
they could retire to a mountain farm where they had a stock of flour,
with sheep, cattle and horses, and could quietly "lie by" until all
danger had passed.

At last conversation flagged, and Brady enlivened it by telling his
guests he was about to take the gaol at Sorell. His eighteen captives
were tied and marched off with him to the town, about 10 o'clock at
night. They reached the gaol most opportunely: the soldiers had been out
in the rain all day looking for them, and were just cleaning their guns.
There was a rush: the wet guns were easily seized, the inmates of the
gaol were freed, the soldiers and the Bethune contingent took their
place in the cells. The gaoler ran to fetch the doctor, and the
commanding officer, Lieutenant Gunn; but the doctor was caught without
trouble, Gunn was shot in the arm, and the two were locked up with
Brady's other captives. Then the gang propped a log against the gaol
door, dressed it up to look like a sentry, and went off triumphantly
into the bush.*

[* Gunn was the only person injured in this encounter, and, as his arm
had to be taken off, the Government rewarded him with a pension of 70
per annum, and appointed him to the post of Superintendent of the Hobart
Town Prisoner's Barracks.]

Of course there was a great stir in Hobart Town. The Governor issued
another proclamation, doubled the monetary reward, and added others. The
townsfolk were allowed to enrol themselves as special constables.

Soldiers concealed themselves among the luggage on drays, and were
driven through lonely paths in the bush in the hope of coming upon Brady
or some of his gang. But while he could be seen here, there, and
everywhere by the settlers, the anxious troopers could not obtain a
sight of him, although they knew he was frequently in the near
neighbourhood. One narrow escape from capture is recorded. He had been
in the habit of visiting the hut of a confederate of the gang, near
Campbelltown, and this confederate at last decided upon betraying him.
Brady visited the hut in disguise and unarmed; and, being quite worn out
with long fatigue and watching, he threw himself upon the bunk and was
soon fast asleep. As soon as his betrayer saw him in the land of dreams
he stole away to the town to give information. A couple of soldiers
returned with him, and Brady was rudely awakened by their seizure and
the pressure of a rope on his wrists. He took things very coolly, and
asked for a drink of water; his captors went off together to bring water
from the stream (for the night was very dark, and the men afraid to go
alone), and in their absence he held his hands over the blazing fire
until the rope was so far burned that he could snap it. Thus free he
awaited the return of the soldiers, and as soon as they entered he
fastened the door upon them, and made his way back to his band. For many
days he nursed his wrath against the betrayer. At last they met in the
hut of Bill Windsor, of the Cocked Hat Hill, near Launceston, a
well-known receiver of stolen goods and friend of the bushrangers. Brady
did not settle the score at once: he only said "I'll give you while I
have my supper." The man knew that there was no escape, and while others
in the hut vainly interceded for his life he indulged in joking. At last
Brady rose from his seat, and, gun in hand, called to his betrayer,
"Just walk to that tree yonder." The wretched man started to obey the
command, but had only taken two or three steps when a ball crashed
through his brain.

Yet it cannot be said that the gang were brutal or even savage, and they
were most scrupulous in their treatment of females, as even the Hobart
Town papers acknowledged. One man, who had asked a servant girl for a
kiss, was at once knocked down by his leader, and one of the plundered
settlers afterwards said that Brady's first word was "Are there any
ladies in this house?" and receiving a reply in the affirmative, he said
"Then tell them to get up, and let them dress themselves and go into one
room, and no one shall molest them."

Presently the leader of the gang thought they had got enough plunder,
and decided to seize a vessel and escape in her from the colony. This
design being frustrated, partly by the treachery of a comrade and partly
by bad weather, Brady calmly notified the Commandant at Launceston,
"with the bushrangers' compliments", that he proposed to rob Mr. Dry's
house (about a mile out of Launceston) and attack the gaol on the same
night. The authorities treated this message as a capital joke. But when
evening came the parties concerned learned that bushrangers' jokes are
rough articles. Mr. Dry's house was duly visited; the family and
servants, with some visitors, were secured; some of the gang kept guard,
others searched the house for valuables, and Brady entertained the
ladies in the parlour with amusing stories, and even a sentimental song
to his own accompaniment on the piano. But one of the servants had
escaped and given the alarm in the city. Colonel Balfour, with ten
soldiers and a few volunteer civilians, hurried to the spot. The
bushrangers were made aware of their approach and retired behind a
hedge, from which they kept up an active fire. When this suddenly ceased
the Colonel, thinking they must have run away, hastened back to town in
case the second half of the joke was also serious. An attack, indeed,
had been made, but nothing came of it beyond the wounding of the local

There was another spasm of excitement. Another proclamation was issued
by the Governor, and a reward of three hundred guineas, or three hundred
acres of land free of quit rent, was offered for the capture of any of
the gang; while an offer of free pardon and free passage to England was
made to any prisoner of the Crown who should succeed in capturing one of
them. The Governor himself took the field in search, and men who had
before been indifferent, or friendly to the bushrangers, also sallied
out in hopes of securing the reward. Several desperate conflicts took
place between pursuers and pursued, both parties being well armed, and
several of the gang were captured and lodged in gaol.

The desire of the settlers for vengeance was very great, and it is on
record that a petition signed by fifty prominent citizens was presented
to Colonel Arthur, praying that the prisoners might be speedily
executed, in order that all fear of their escape from gaol might be
removed. Such, indeed, was the condition of society at this time that no
less than thirty-seven prisoners were condemned to death at one sitting
of the court.

But Brady was still at large, and he did not want for followers. Escaped
convicts rallied round him as to a common centre, and every day carried
its record of daring deeds. The following extract from the "Van Diemen's
Land Annual" furnishes an idea of the systematic course of outrage and
plunder that was followed: "On the night of the 5th, the bushrangers set
fire and burnt down the stockyard, with all the wheat belonging to Mr.
Abraham Walker and Commissary Walker, opposite Mr. Thomas Archer's. The
extent of the damage is not yet ascertained. The bushrangers were seen
between the punt and Mr. Gibson's stockyard, and on the 6th they sent
word to Mr. Massey, on the South Esk, Ben Lomond, that they would hang
him and burn his wheat. A great fire was seen in the direction of his
house, but it is to be hoped that they have not executed their threat.
The bushrangers have Mr. Dry's two white carriage horses with them. They
shot Thomas Kenton dead at the punt on the South Esk; they called him
out of his house, and deliberately shot him. Two runaways were last week
sent into Launceston from Pressnell's, where they were taken. One of
them broke out of gaol, and was met by the bushrangers, who asked him to
join them, and on his refusal, they shot him dead. Brady now wears
Colonel Balfour's cap, which was knocked off at Dry's. When the
bushrangers were going down the Tamar they captured Captain White of the
"Duke of York" in his boat; Captain Smith, late of the "Brutus", who was
with him, being mistaken for Colonel Balfour, they knocked him down, but
discovering their mistake they apologised. They then made Captain White
go down upon his knees, and were going to shoot him, but Captain Smith
interfered and saved his life, on representing to them the misery it
would inflict on his children. During the night Captains Smith and White
were allowed to depart, and they made the best of their way to
Launceston, where they gave the necessary information; but unfortunately
it was too late, the bushrangers having crossed the river and proceeded
to commit the dreadful enormities before stated."

Gradually, however, the band was scattered, and pursuit was concentrated
on Brady himself. Once he was shot in the ankle, but still evaded
capture. At last John Batman, hereafter to be known from his exploits in
the Black War, and still more famous for his settlement of Port Phillip,
set himself to hunt the bushranger down among the contorted gullies of
the Western Tiers. His search was successful. One day he espied a man of
dejected, care-worn aspect, slowly limping along through the bush with
the aid of a cut sapling, and evidently in great pain. Suddenly the man
caught sight of Batman, and at once the stick was thrown aside and his
gun was at his shoulder. With finger on the trigger Brady called out
"Are you a soldier officer?"--for soldiers were his abhorrence, and
Batman was wearing a frock coat and foraging cap. "I'm no soldier,
Brady," was the reply; "I'm John Batman; surrender, there is no chance
for you." For a moment or two Brady communed with himself, and then said
"You are right. Batman; my time is come; I will yield to you because you
are a brave man."

It was natural that his capture should be received with demonstrations
of joy by the populace. Yet, strange to say, hundreds of persons,
including ladies, openly expressed sympathy with him, some of the latter
freely shedding tears at the recital of the sufferings of the "poor man"
whose chivalrous treatment of all females was one of the distinguishing
characteristics of his career in the bush. He was taken to Hobart Town
in company with a notorious scoundrel named Jeffries, and was very
indignant at being made to keep company with such a "low character".
Conviction followed trial, and he was sentenced to death. "Yet", says
Bonwick, "petition followed petition for his deliverance from the
halter. Settlers told of his forbearance, and ladies of his kindness.
His cell was besieged with visitors, and his table was loaded with
presents. Baskets of fruit, bouquets of flowers, and dishes of
confectionery prepared by his fair admirers, were tendered in abundance
to the gaoler for his distinguished captive. The last moment came. The
dramatic scene was maintained to its close. Pinioned, he stood on the
scaffold before a dense mass of spectators, who cheered him for his
courage, or grieved bitterly for his fate. He received the consolations
of the Roman Catholic faith; he bade a familiar adieu to the gentlemen
about him, and he died more like a patient martyr than a felon


During 1832-3 four escaped convicts, Beaven, Britton, Jefkins and Brown,
kept the country side in terror. Beaven was a native of the Hunter, in
New South Wales, and had been transported to Van Diemen's Land for
horse-stealing. Britton was a convict from the old country, his offence
being smuggling; but during the affray in which he was captured he saved
the life of one of the coast-guards, who had been knocked overboard, and
the sentence of death passed upon him was on that account commuted to
penal servitude for life. After several assignments to settlers, during
which he made a very bad name for himself, he took the bush with Beaven,
who had absconded from the Cataract Hill gaol gang.

Before the two men had been out very long they killed Mr. Bartlett and
his servant at the Supply Mill. The murder was discovered by a Mr.
Cathcart, from whom the police received information, while a clerk in
the Commissariat Department named Wilson went to bring Mrs. Bartlett
away from the scene of the murder. On his way he saw and shot a large
mastiff belonging to Beaven, and for that act the bushranger posted
notices in public places that he would shoot Wilson in return. Later on,
indeed, the gang (now including another escapee, Jefkins) stuck up
Neale's farm in the hope of finding Wilson there on official work:
failing to discover him they ransacked the place and tried to extort
information about him from the overseer, whom they threatened to shoot.
In the end they spared the man and made off.

On this visit they had a woman with them whom they had taken from the
Female Factory in George Town, after shooting the gatekeeper, an old man
of 60. She appropriated some of the overseer's clothes and afterwards
accompanied the gang in man's attire.

In the "Government Gazette" of May, 1832, the following rewards were
offered:- 250 and 500 acres of land for the apprehension of Britton,
dead or alive; 200 and 500 acres of land for Beaven; 150 and 250 acres
of land for Jefkins; or to any prisoner of the Crown a free pardon, his
passage paid to England, and 200. Hearing of these rewards, and knowing
something of the outlaws and the country where they "ranged", a prisoner
named Hall, volunteered either to kill or capture them, and the
authorities accepted his services. He was thereupon allowed to go into
the bush, and at once joined the gang, who were pleased to receive an
old "mate" and admit him into their circle. They then planned a robbery,
and while Britton and Jefkins went to reconnoitre, Hall stayed with
Beaven to watch the road. The two men were standing together when
suddenly Hall placed his gun close to Beaven's head and fired. The shot
was fatal, the back part of the bushranger's skull being nearly blown
off, and the man fell dead.

Hall rushed off to give information to the police, who returned with him
to the spot and removed the body. An inquest was subsequently held and a
verdict of "justifiable homicide" was returned. Upon Hall's return he
informed the police that an assigned servant in the town, named Brown,
had been assisting the bushrangers; but when search was made for this
man it was discovered that he had joined Britton and Jefkins in the

Hall then set out with the police in pursuit of the two remaining
members of the gang, and knowing the country he was able in a short time
to drive them from their haunts. The unfortunate woman whom they had
taken from the factory was discovered alone in one of the gullies, the
bushrangers having left her behind in their flight. The search was
continued for several weeks without success, and it was generally
believed that all three criminals had escaped from the colony. Hall
received the reward from Government, and obtained an appointment in the
Sheriff's office, which he held for many years, after which he left the

The bushrangers had not gone. In April, 1833, they appeared on the
Tamar, plundering right and left. In October they became more daring.
Lieutenant Vaughan, Mr. Henty, of Landfall, and a neighbouring
hotelkeeper were all visited and robbed with much audacity. Having shot
a constable during this last raid, the idea occurred to them of
pretending to be constables looking for themselves, and in this guise
they plundered the George Inn at Georgetown. The Launceston press waxed
indignant: rewards were again offered for their capture, and increased:
the police were doubly active: but all to no purpose. Their hunting
through the bush was fruitless, although on one occasion they came
across a boat which the bushrangers had only just left, and apparently
in haste, as though closely pressed; for in it were found some bedding,
a couple of guns, and some provisions--the boat having been hauled up a
small creek that runs into the Tamar.

On New Year's morning, 1835, the pilot on the river conveyed some
information to the police at George Town which set them in active
motion. He had been looking through his glass and had observed three men
on the western beach, who he at first thought must be excursionists or a
hunting party; but closer observation led him to the conclusion that
they were either police or bushrangers. The chief district constable and
three others at once set out for Kelso Bay, where the men had been seen,
and on the road met a shepherd who informed them that at midday he had
seen three men with heavy knapsacks and firearms crossing the Badger.
Camping on the road that night the constable picked up the tracks on the
following morning on the beach, and from their freshness it was decided
that the men could not be far off. Resting on this discovery, the party
leisurely breakfasted, and then followed the tracks to the edge of the
bush. But here they were confronted by Britton, who stepped out about
sixty yards from them, challenged Constable Smith (who happened to have
come to the colony in the same ship with him), and at once fired. The
fire was returned with interest by the police, when Britton dropped on
one knee as though to shelter himself behind a bush. Smith wanted to
advance; the chief constable, urging that it would be an unnecessary
exposure of life, ordered a retreat, saying he would get reinforcements
and resume the pursuit next day. Accordingly eight constables were told
off next day to follow the runaways, but, as might be expected, the game
had disappeared.

About three weeks after this Brown and Jefkins made their appearance at
a limeburner's hut at Port Sorell. They were emaciated, and declared
they were starving, having had no water for three days and nothing to
eat for five days but a parrot and a cockatoo. They had pieces of
blanket and leather tied about their feet instead of shoes, while Brown
had a grey jacket drawn on instead of trousers and Jefkins had pieces of
blanket sewn around him. They tied their host up, and camped with him
for the night, but while moving across to a bark-chopper's hut the next
morning they were surprised by the police. Brown shot a constable
(Britton's enemy, Smith), and was himself shot in the shoulder. Jefkins
ran up to his help, calling out to his opponents "Come on, there's
enough of you to eat me." He fired two shots harmlessly, and was then
hit in the head.

Brown was taken with the two dead bodies to George Town, but he did not
long survive. As for Britton, no more was ever heard of him. Brown
before death owned that he (Britton) had been hit in the first fight,
and had been left behind in the bush with a badly-injured leg while the
other two went in search of food.

The remains of Constable Smith were honoured with a public funeral at
which the whole of the police and military attended. The others who were
with him at the time of the skirmish received the rewards that had been
offered for the capture of Jefkins and Brown, and one unfortunate
constable, who had been very active in the pursuit, but had been sent on
other duties on the day the capture was made, took the loss of the
reward so much to heart that he shot himself in the stomach and died
instantly. He was a prisoner constable, and doubtless hungered for the
free pardon and passage "home" which would have been his portion of the
reward had he been present at the time of the capture.


TASMANIAN GANGS. -- (Continued.)


Among the more notorious of the Van Diemen's Land convict bushrangers of
later days was Martin Cash, who, first singly, and then in association
with Kavanagh and Jones, committed many depredations among the small
settlers during 1843, and some time previous.

Cash was born in County Wexford, Ireland, and in 1827, at the age of
about 18 years, was transported to Botany Bay for seven years for a
deliberate attempt to murder a rival of whom he was jealous. He was well
connected, and strenuous efforts were made by his wealthy friends and
relatives to obtain a mitigation of the sentence, but without avail. He
reached Sydney in February, 1828 (by the "Marquis of Huntley"), and was
soon assigned to Mr. Bowman, of Richmond, who presently placed him on a
cattle station in the Hunter district between Denman and Merriwa. By
steady service in a responsible position he won favour from his master,
and in due time obtained a ticket-of-leave, which enabled him to engage
with another stock-owner as overseer at 20 per year. Gaining his
freedom by similar good conduct, he determined to settle down on his own
account; but here, after nine years of quiet, his troubles began. One
morning he was innocently branding cattle for an acquaintance when two
strangers rode up, watched the operation, and again rode away; after
which his friend informed him the cattle were stolen beasts and the men
who had ridden away would certainly report what they had seen. This
alarmed Cash considerably. "Norfolk Island for life" was the punishment
for illegally branding, and he made up his mind to leave the colony as
quickly as possible. He took with him a woman whom he had some time
before induced to leave her husband (for convenience we will call her
Mrs. Cash in future), and, leaving her at Mudgee, set off to collect for
sale some cattle of his own from a distant Namoi station. His
treacherous friend of the branding episode had, however, sold these
behind his back. Cash accordingly recouped himself from his friend's
herd, sold the animals on his way back to Mudgee, picked up Mrs. Cash
there, and struck southwards to Bathurst. His account of his stay there
is an interesting contribution to the social history of the time.

"On our entrance I noticed two gentlemen on the verandah, one of whom
proved to be the landlord. We had not been long in the sitting-room
before we heard a knock at the door, a policeman making his appearance
immediately after, who at once requested to know what I was (meaning if
I was free or bond). I answered that I was a free man. He next asked if
I had anything to show for it. On this I produced my certificate of
freedom, which satisfied him at once. I treated him to a glass of
brandy, after which he excused himself by saying that one of the men who
was standing in the verandah was no other than the district constable
(Mr. Jones) who instructed him to make the before-mentioned inquiries.

"On the following morning I presented one of the 5 cheques which I
received from "Gentleman Jones" (who had purchased the cattle on the
Namoi) in payment of my bill. The landlord, after examining it for some
time, returned me the change, and having remained that day and the next,
I changed the other 5 cheque also, and on finding that the landlord
kept a general store, I purchased wearing apparel and other necessaries
to the extent of 50, presenting a 150 cheque in payment. He examined
this with greater minuteness than the others, wishing to be informed how
it was that there appeared to be two different handwritings on the face
of the cheques, observing that the amount on all the cheques which I had
presented was evidently filled in by a lady. I accounted for this by
telling him that the lady who filled up the cheques resided with
"Gentleman Jones", but in what relation she stood to that gentleman I
could not attempt to say. Not appearing to be satisfied with this
explanation, he observed that if I wished he would send it to the bank,
but I would not agree to this, telling him that I knew where I could get
it cashed in a moment. He then suggested that as there happened to be a
son-in-law of "Gentleman Jones's" (a Mr.------) keeping a public house
at Gorman's Hill, within one mile from Bathurst, he would send for him
if I had no objection, and if that gentleman vouched for the correctness
of the cheque, he would cash it in a moment. To this I consented, and in
the course of an hour Mr.------ arrived, and at once pronounced the
cheque genuine. He therefore gave me a written order on the Bank at
Maitland, on presenting which the cashier commenced counting the notes.
I told him that as I did not believe they were current in all parts of
the colony, I preferred gold, but I had to take it in silver, and my
companion indulged in a laugh on seeing the bag that contained it."

From Bathurst Cash made for Goulburn, and soon got an engagement as
dairyman under Captain Sturt, the famous explorer, on his Mittagong
station: but quarrels with a new overseer forced him to throw up this
job, and he started for Sydney with a view of taking ship to Hobart
Town. Near Camden he narrowly escaped arrest by knocking down the
constable who stopped him, but reaching Sydney in safety he secured
passages to Hobart Town (20 for himself and Mrs. Cash, 5, exclusive of
fodder, for his horse), and arrived in the island early in 1837.

Within twelve months of setting foot in Van Diemen's Land Cash's
troubles commenced. On two occasions he was wrongfully charged with
theft; and, although the first case against him broke down, lie had
beaten the arresting constables so badly that he became a "marked man".
When brought up on the second occasion he was convicted and sentenced to
seven years' transportation to one of the penal settlements, some
distance from Hobart Town. But he had not been there more than a day
when he effected his escape, having been sent out with a road-making
party to draw stones in a handcart. Choosing a suitable spot and a
favourable opportunity, he slipped away from his companions and hid in
the bush until darkness had set in, when he started on his way back to
Campbell Town, where he had left the disconsolate Mrs. Cash. During the
night he stealthily entered the kitchen of a settler, appropriated a
quantity of provisions, and pursued his journey until daylight, when,
turning off into the bush, he was in the act of cooking some of the
victuals at a fire he had kindled, when he was pounced upon by three
soldiers and retaken. For thus escaping he was subsequently brought
before the Police Magistrate at Oatlands, and received an additional
sentence of nine months' hard labour in a chain gang, and nine months in
a road party.

While in gaol awaiting transit, Cash formed the acquaintance of a fellow
convict, to whom he unfolded a plan of escape; but the expected
opportunity did not present itself until some time after he had arrived
at his destination, and as his custodians had received a report
concerning his previous attempt at flight, he was subjected to stricter
surveillance than the other prisoners. For greater security he was
leg-ironed with a pair of seven pound cross irons, and placed in a
barrack, surrounded by a stockade twelve feet high. But he was equal to
the emergency. Although within sight and hearing of a gang of billeted
hands, who were working in the yard, he seized his opportunity, procured
a goodly sized stone, and resting the centre ring connecting his leg
irons upon another stone, struck and broke it, thus disconnecting the
irons, although each leg still retained its separate adornment.
Fastening the chains about each leg beneath the knee, he was prepared
for action. The fitting moment arrived when the billeted gang left the
yard for "grub", and seizing two night tubs that were lying near he
placed them end on end and mounting managed from this perch to spring
and catch the top of the palisade with his hands and drag himself over
into the public thoroughfare. It was past 3 o'clock, and midwinter, so
nobody observed his descent into the street, and walking quietly away he
gained the bush, where he hid until darkness had set in. Late at night
he broke into a mill and obtained a supply of provisions, then walking
on till dawn, when he camped in the scrub and spent the day getting rid
of his irons. Near Springhill he stole a good outfit of clothes,
abandoning his prison suit, and so was able to make his way less
cautiously to Mrs. Cash, at Campbelltown. They determined to leave
Tasmania for Melbourne as soon as might be: and, with a view to raising
the necessary cash, betook themselves to the Huon, having many narrow
escapes by the way.

In this district Cash and his escapades were unknown, and after a steady
year's work the money was saved. But Justice was not to be baulked so
easily of its prey. They were detained a day or two in Hobart, Cash was
recognised, seized by six constables, and again lodged in prison. Tried
on the charge of absconding, his twelve months' honest work was put down
to "cleverness". "But," said the presiding magistrate, the well-known
John Price, "you will not best me, Martin" and he got two years added to
his original sentence, and four years at Port Arthur besides.

What Port Arthur meant will be known to all readers of Marcus Clarke.
Cash, however, was comparatively well off; he was strong and able to do
all the log-lifting imposed upon him, and so did not come under the
displeasure of the brutal overseers and sub-overseers.

Still, he determined to escape--not immediately, for it was
midwinter--and took every opportunity of learning the bearings of the
land; particularly he marked Eagle Hawk and East Bay Necks, the two
strips which must be crossed in order to reach the main land, and which
were guarded by armed sentries and chained bloodhounds posted at equal
distances along them. But his movements were accelerated by the harsh
treatment of a sub-overseer; he knocked the man down, threw him over a
steep bank into Long Bay, and made a start for liberty. After a night
and a day in the bush he swam the inlet at Eagle Hawk Neck, but lost his
way soon after, and five days after bolting was captured, half starved,
within a mile of the second Neck. When brought before the commandant,
O'H----a B----h, he escaped the lash by assuming a very penitent
attitude, but was sentenced to eighteen months' hard labour in chains,
and sent to work in a stone quarry with other ironed prisoners. Here he
met with two men, Kavanagh and Jones, who had been transported for
robbery under arms, committed near Sydney; and the three plotted a
scheme for simultaneous flight. These new comrades of his relied greatly
upon the man who had already proved his ability as an absconder, and
said they would trust implicitly in his guidance when once they set foot
upon the road to liberty.

On the afternoon of Boxing Day Cash, who was one of a gang that drew the
stone carts, walked across the quarry and looked steadily at his two
mates. At once they dropped their picks and sprang into the scrub,
followed by Cash himself. Almost as soon as they started their absence
was discovered by the sentries; a hue and cry was at once raised, and
the rest of the gang placed under strict guard, while as many soldiers
as could be spared set about searching for the runaways; the semaphore
signals were also kept in full play, so as to put all the sentries on
their guard. Having picked up a bundle containing some provisions, which
had been placed conveniently for them by one of the cooks on the
settlement who had been let into the secret, the trio made their way
through the scrub to the foot of Mount Arthur. Here they hid for three
days, hoping that by that time the sentries at the Neck would have
relaxed their vigilance. On the third night they left their hiding
place, and worked their way northwards through the scrub, often on hands
and knees for a mile at a time, till their clothes were torn to shreds.
At dusk next day they came in sight of Eagle Hawk Neck, and saw that the
line was literally ally swarming with constables and prisoners. They
concealed for three hours waiting for the coast to become clear, and
then, with some trouble, swam the inlet, as Cash had done before, but
when they reached the further side each one was stark naked, the clothes
having been washed from their heads by the waves which had buffeted them
in crossing.

Travelling without boots over rugged ironstone ridges and forging
through prickly scrub without clothing to protect the body, were not
pleasant exercises. Cash, therefore, led his mates to a roadside hut
which he had noted on his last bolt, and fortunately reached it when the
soldiers and prisoners were absent, except one man, who acted as cook.
They made a simultaneous rush, Kavanagh arming himself with an axe which
was standing at the door; the cook, seeing three naked men enter,
completely lost his head, and before he could recover his senses was
seized and securely lashed to one of the centre posts of the hut. They
then helped themselves to clothes, of which there was an abundance,
belonging to the prisoners who were away at work, as well as to a
quantity of flour, beef, tea, sugar, and a flint and tinder box, and

Knowing that this last enterprise would give their pursuers a clue to
their whereabouts, and that a double watch would therefore be kept at
East Bay Neck, they decided to conceal themselves for three or four
days. During this time they had a very narrow escape from recapture, as
a party of soldiers passed within a few feet of the spot where they lay
concealed; and a little later on they nearly walked into the camp of one
of the parties in pursuit. Creeping towards the neck, however, on the
third day and hiding in the bush until nearly midnight, when only a few
sentries remained on duty, they took off their boots, crawled past one
of the sentry boxes, and got over the line into a paddock of wheat on
the other side, through which they again crawled to the dense bush
beyond. At last they breathed freely. "If I had a crown of gold," said
Jones to Cash, "I would give it to you." "A little of it in my pocket
would be more useful", said Cash, sardonically. Then for three hours
they skirted the bay--on the right side of it now--and at the first
halt, dropped sound asleep till long after sunrise.

Next day when Kavanagh put the question what was to be done, Jones
answered, "Take up arms and stand no repairs", and to this they all
agreed, though the decision meant certain death if they were ever
caught. Their next move, therefore, was towards the more settled
districts in the valley of the Derwent. At Pittwater they obtained
provender from a hut, and proceeded towards Jerusalem, securing on their
way a couple of guns, with ammunition, and some decent clothes. At
Jerusalem a third gun and more provisions were obtained, and a complete
outfit of clothes for each of them at the Bagdad public-house. Still
making westward, they stuck up a farmer's house at Broadmarsh, and then
camped for a few days to prepare for more serious business. They now
decided to attack the Woolpack Inn, about ten miles from New Norfolk;
but before reaching the place they fell in with a convict shepherd who
told them that they would encounter an armed party at the inn, as a
party of constables were stationed there. To this Cash replied that an
encounter would suit them very well, as it would give them an
opportunity of proving their arms.

Having planted their swag about a quarter of a mile away, they took the
nearest road to the inn, and immediately "bailed up" the landlady, her
two sons, and three men who were drinking there. While dealing with them
people were seen moving outside; these proved to be the advancing party
of constables, who had been made aware of the presence of the three
desperadoes. The latter at once marched outside the house, Cash taking
the lead. The leader of the party challenged Cash to stand. He stood,
but only to take surer aim, and the challenger fell. There was an
exchange of shots, but the darkness prevented any proper aim, and no
damage was done on either side. Kavanagh and Jones now retired without
acquainting their leader of the fact, and when he turned to speak to
them he found that he was alone. He then retreated to the house, the
constables apparently not caring to follow, and having secured a keg of
brandy got out into the darkness and started for the spot where the swag
had been left. Here he found his two companions; and after holding a
"council of war", and testing the quality of the brandy, the gang
retraced their steps to the Dromedary. Three days later, after pillaging
a farmhouse for provisions, they reached the house of an old
acquaintance of Cash's, who entertained them on the best and promised to
take a message to the town for Mrs. Cash, who was residing there. On the
way they learned that two of the constables had been seriously wounded
by their fire, but not fatally.

Next morning the promise was fulfilled and Mrs. Cash joined the party,
who had in the meantime made a kind of fortress of logs for themselves
on the top of the Dromedary. For three days they remained quiet, and
then set out to make a raid upon a large establishment owned by a Mr.
Shone. On the way they fell in with a friend of the family, whom they
compelled to go with them, and having obtained entrance to the house
(the door having been opened to the voice of their prisoner) they
immediately ordered the occupants, among whom were some ladies, to sit
upon the floor. Six or seven working hands belonging to the
establishment were also brought up from an outhouse to keep the owner
and his family company, and two young ladies and three gentlemen who
drove up in a vehicle on a visit were also, much to their surprise,
placed "under cover" with the other prisoners. Kavanagh kept guard over
the imprisoned company while Jones ransacked the house--"it being
understood," says Cash, "that the professional process exclusively
belonged to him"--and Cash watched outside. Before the bushrangers left
the ladies and gentlemen in the room were relieved of their watches,
jewellery, and purses; but the young ladies were not at all alarmed,
having heard that Cash and his mates were very considerate in their
treatment of the "weaker vessels" who chanced to fall into their hands,
and being now in a position to personally test the accuracy of the
report. Taking a respectful leave of their victims the bushrangers
marched off, carrying their booty to what they termed their fortress.
They literally loaded Mrs. Cash with silk dresses and jewellery from the
store which they had so readily acquired.

For three days the party remained at the fortress, and then learned that
a detachment of H.M. 51st King's Own Light Infantry under Major
Ainsworth were scouring the bush in search of them. They then decided to
remain in hiding for a few days longer; and in order that Mrs. Cash
might not be exposed to danger in case of an attack they escorted her
part of the way into the town and then left her. But the police were on
the watch, and she had not been long in town before she was arrested on
a charge of receiving stolen property, some of the articles belonging to
Mrs. Shone being found in her possession.

Meanwhile the outlaws were not idle. They found shelter for a time at
the house they had visited before, and from here they made two or three
sorties upon residents in the district. One of the places "stuck up" by
them was Mr. Hodgkinson's, that gentleman being at home with his wife
and daughter (described by Cash as "a very pretty young woman about
eighteen years of age") at the time. Before searching the premises they
tied the old gentleman, although they admitted afterwards that there was
more need really to tie the old lady, who persistently endeavoured to
get out of the house, the while giving the robbers "the length of her
tongue". At the request of Miss Hodgkinson they set her father at
liberty, but this did not satisfy the mother, who made attacks upon
Cash, and when the three were leaving she followed them and kept
screaming after them until they were clear out of sight of the farm.

A few days afterwards they attacked the residence of Mr. Charles Kerr,
in the Hamilton district. On the morning of their arrival they secured
two of Mr. Kerr's shepherds, who gave them the necessary information
concerning their master's premises, number of hands in his employ,
together with similar information concerning other neighbouring
settlers. Going up to the house with these two men about dusk they were
met by a young lady, who immediately ran back crying "Here are the
bushrangers", and then fainted. Leaving Kavanagh in charge of the men in
the kitchen. Cash repaired to the drawing-room where he found Mrs. Kerr
and the young lady, whom he urged not to be alarmed, as they should not
be subjected to any insult. At Cash's request Mrs. Kerr pointed out the
men's hut, and Cash and Kavanagh went there to find Mr. Kerr and three
working hands. Kavanagh ordered one of the men to tie the others, but
not liking the manner in which he performed his work he did the tying
business over again himself, having to threaten Mr. Kerr before he would
submit to the indignity. When the whole of the occupants had been placed
in one room, the robbers released Mr. Kerr and permitted him to sit down
in the room, and Jones, having produced writing materials, wrote the
following letter to his Excellency the Governor:-

"Messrs. Cash and Co. beg to notify his Excellency Sir John Franklin and
his satellites that a very respectable person named Mrs. Cash is now
falsely imprisoned in Hobart Town, and if the said Mrs. Cash is not
released forthwith, and properly remunerated, we will, in the first
instance, visit Government House, and beginning with Sir John,
administer a wholesome lesson in the shape of a sound flogging; after
which we will pay the same currency to all his followers.

"Given under our hands, this day, at the residence of Mr. Kerr, of


"His Excellency the Governor."

It thus appeared that the gang had become aware of the fact of Mrs.
Cash's arrest. At the same time they wrote and signed the following note
to Mr. Shone:- "Understanding through the public press that Mrs. Cash is
in custody for some things you have sworn to, we hereby give you notice
that if you prosecute Mrs. Cash we will come and burn you and all you
have to the ground." These letters Jones read to the imprisoned company,
and then the gang gathered up the valuables in the house and took their
departure, Mr. Kerr urging them to give up their evil ways, and offering
to intercede on their behalf with the Governor; but they replied that
they thought their letter would be a powerful appeal on their behalf,
and Mr. Kerr's kindly offer in this direction was politely declined.
They left the letters with him, however, to be forwarded to their

Two more attacks on stations in the Hamilton district brought them in so
much spoil that they determined to rest awhile at their friend's house
under the Dromedary, where they had an old Irish fiddle: to play to

Meanwhile the police were actively searching for them, but without
success. In addition to a pecuniary reward offered for the apprehension
of the outlaws, the Governor offered a free pardon and a free passage
from the colony to any convict who might be instrumental in their
capture. The state of alarm into which the community had been thrown was
great. Even the officials not actively engaged in the hunt were in fear,
as may be gathered from the following paragraph which appeared in the
Hobart Town "Advertiser":- "So universal has been the panic among the
police that the acting police magistrate, living in one of the most
populous towns in the country and at a distance of several miles from
the scene of their depredations, has actually applied for a military
force for his own particular protection, fancying, as he alleges, that
he may be carried off and obliged to pay ransom." The same paper, of a
later date, contained the following:- "The perfect insufficiency of the
police to apprehend Cash and his troupe is at length acknowledged, after
some months' unavailing efforts. The military have been in consequence
ordered to their assistance. Thirty-nine men, under the command of
Lieutenant Doreton and Mr. Stephenson, have been ordered to occupy
several posts in the district which has been the scene of their daring
exploits. Here, stationed at different points, they may intercept them
in their progress when necessity compels them to leave their haunts,
which the knowledge of the locality renders secure while they choose to
remain in seclusion. We have no doubt that these measures will prove

While this arrangement was being made the gang were contemplating an
attack upon Mr. Edols' establishment, at the Bluff. They had heard that
a party of soldiers and police were stationed at the place and appeared
desirous of putting the prowess and bravery of the detachment to the
proof. Accordingly they watched the place for some time and having
(after the plan usually adopted by them) intercepted one of the men
servants and obtained from his not unwilling lips a full account of the
strength of the inmates, they made arrangements for the descent, taking
the man with them as a guide, and threatening him that if they did not
find his story true in every particular they would "send him to sleep
with a bullet in his brain." The man told them that the first
obstruction they would meet with on the premises would be a very savage
dog; and sure enough, as soon as they entered the gate a large mastiff
flew at them. Cash met the savage animal, and as it sprang open-mouthed
at him, he drew a pistol from his belt and rammed the muzzle down its
throat, at the same time pulling the trigger. The dog fell dead at his
feet. The members of the gang were in momentary expectation of being
fired upon from the house, and they made a rush at once for the
verandah. Knocking at the door of a room in which they observed a light
and receiving no answer, they together burst the door open and entered
the room to find Mr. Edols and his two nephews (young men) sitting there
with the ladies of the household, in a great state of alarm. On looking
behind the door Kavanagh found three stand of arms all loaded with ball,
and subsequently Mr. Edols was found to have about his person a pair of
duelling pistols. After twitting their victims with their want of pluck,
the gang broke the firearms, being afraid to discharge them on account
of the noise they would make, and proceeded to help themselves; then
bidding the ladies good night they left the place, and retired to their

They now struck northwards across Constitution Hill, but in a few days
grew tired of idleness--though Cash seemed to have enlivened things with
a discourse on the vanity of human wishes, which made Jones declare that
mouths were made for eating, not for jabber. Presently they came into
open collision with a magistrate in the bush. Just before this Cash had
coolly walked into a public house bar in Greenponds, at which several
persons were drinking and purchased two bottles of rum; but although the
inmates eyed him suspiciously, and a constable looked in at the door, he
was not recognised, and an hour afterwards he had rejoined his
companions and was rehearsing the scene to them. The magistrate, whose
name was Clark, was riding towards his residence, having as a follower
one of his assigned servants, armed, but on foot; and as soon as they
came near the party Kavanagh ordered the man to drop his gun, which
command was promptly obeyed, and master and man were then detained by
the gang and compelled to accompany them to an adjoining farm, which
they were about to "stick up"; Cash observing to the magistrate that he
would give him a lesson in the art of robbing and then set him at
liberty. On the road they met two other men, who were also compelled to
go with them. They found the premises (Allardyce's) in charge of an
overseer, whom they at once secured, together with the workmen, and
having driven them all into a room with the other inmates of the house,
they proceeded to ransack the place. Before they left Clark requested
Cash to allow him to go to the Governor and sue for terms, but the
outlaw declined, saying that when Sir John had them in custody he might
dispose of them as he thought fit, but that while they lived they would
not ask any favour at his hands.

Having replenished their store of provisions the gang made for the
Shannon, and for about a fortnight their chief pastime was firing at
targets marked on the trees; Cash declared that he "seldom failed to
place a bullet in the circle at a distance of 180 yards and further."
Soon the party were ready for fresh exploits; and so we find them
creating a sensation near Lake Echo, "sticking up" the settlers, and
even making a successful raid upon the establishment of Captain McKay,
who was renowned as a very determined soldier, and a vigilant hunter of
escaped criminals. As usual they first visited one of the huts and
obtained from a shepherd full particulars of the place and the habits of
"the master", and then took the man with them to prevent him raising an
alarm. On the way to the house, they fell in with a settler named
Gellibrand, whom they also took along, making him go forward and gain
entrance for them. Captain McKay and his servants were speedily placed
under guard, and the gang set to work to "entertain" them, liberally
handing round spirits and tobacco among the assigned servants, who were
strangers to such luxuries; when McKay protested he was reminded that he
was not now in command--"We're in charge now," said Kavanagh, "and I'll
shoot the first man who leaves off smoking." Having "looted" the house
they loaded two of Mr. McKay's horses with the booty and marched their
prisoners to Mr. Gellibrand's, where, after a short delay, Cash gently
upbraided his captive host with lack of hospitality, and so secured an
invitation to tea for the whole band. McKay was placed at the foot of
the table between two of his own men, much to that gentleman's
discomfiture. Only Cash's firmness, however, saved him from a worse
fate: for Jones was very anxious to flog him as cruelly as he was wont
to flog his servants--a retaliation, said Jones, which he had found to
work well in New South Wales. Before leaving the place with their
"takings" the gang stripped the whole party of their boots, in order to
prevent them from following them or giving the alarm to others. They
then speedily made their way back to their old camp under the Dromedary,
and sent in all haste to Hobart for their fiddler. While here Cash
learned from the papers that Mrs. Cash had been released by the
Governor, and he flattered himself that this was the result of the
threatening letter he had sent to his Excellency shortly after the
arrest of that lady; but the truth of the matter was that she had been
liberated in the hope that some clue to Cash's movements might be
obtained through her, and that he might be even induced to visit Hobart
Town if he learned that she was living there in freedom. As will be seen
farther on, this ruse proved successful.

The next exploit of the bushrangers calling for notice was an attack
upon the residence of a well-to-do settler named Kimberley, near
Broadmarsh. On reaching the house they found the door barred and the
inmates in bed, and as their demand for admittance was not promptly
answered, Kavanagh shot the lock off the door and the three men entered.
The first thing Cash saw was a man trying to escape through the window:
he tried to drag him back, but the man's belt came loose in his hands,
and in it Cash found fourteen rounds of ball cartridges. Mr. Kimberley
was found in bed in another room, with a loaded gun standing near at
hand; he meekly rose when ordered, and was led into another room, where
four others had already been placed. Kavanagh stood guard over these
while Jones proceeded to further search. Coming to a door that was
locked he applied the muzzle of his piece to the lock and was about to
fire when Cash made him desist, saying he heard female voices in the
room. Mr. Kimberley then called out that his three daughters were in the
room, and then Cash told them not to be alarmed, but to dress quickly
and come out. This they did, and having been transferred to Kavanagh's
keeping, they had to look on with the others while Cash and Jones
ransacked the place.

Leaving Mr. Kimberley's they went off to the hut of a friendly convict,
left their knapsacks outside, and sat down to supper. Suddenly they
heard a voice outside saying "Surround the hut; we have them; here's
their swag." A party of soldiers and constables--ten in all--had at last
come within reach of the outlaws. On hearing the exclamation Jones at
once blew out the light, while Cash seized his gun, opened the door and
fired both barrels right and left, at the same time shouting "Come on,
my hearties; you have got us!" There was no response, and Cash returned
to the door and reloaded his piece, Jones asking what should be done.
"We'll have to shoot two or three of them", said Cash, and stepping
outside again he loudly inquired if they were all dead, at the same time
reminding them of the large reward they would get for capturing them, if
they were only brave enough to try. At this time there was a reward of
150 on the head of each of the bushrangers, with 100 acres of land and
a free pardon, if the capturer happened to be a convict. The three now
advanced together about fifty yards from the hut, but could not see
their assailants. At last they heard the soldiers at the hut calling
upon them to surrender; they fired, and the soldiers returned their
fire; one ball grazed Cash's ear, but did not wound him; but it was too
dark to aim straight, and the soldiers sought shelter in the hut. The
bushrangers challenged them several times to "come out and fight like
men", but they contented themselves with firing from their shelter,
promptly answered from the darkness outside. At last Cash and his mates
began to think about retiring, but did not care to go without their rugs
and knapsacks; Cash accordingly crept up to the hut, but could find only
one rug, which he at once carried back to his mates; and all three then
made for the Western Tiers, where they camped.

A few days afterwards the gang took a new departure, and bailed up the
passenger coach at Epping Forest. There were a number of passengers in
the coach at the time, including several ladies, but one of the first
things the bushrangers did, after stopping the coach and telling the
passengers to alight, was to assure the ladies that they were "not the
men to hurt women." They emptied their purses, nevertheless, in common
with those of the male passengers, and then allowed the coach to
proceed, themselves making across country in the direction of Ross,
where they varied the entertainment by attacking the residence of
Captain Horton, which was near the troopers' quarters. Mrs. Horton
escaped through a window and ran into Ross to give information to the
authorities, but the soldiers arrived only to find that the birds had

During the next week Cash and his mates kept quiet in the fastnesses of
the Western Tiers, and it was when starting from his hiding place bent
on another raid that an event happened which led to the break-up of the
gang. When travelling over some very rocky ground Kavanagh fell, and his
gun exploded, the ball entering his arm at the elbow and coming out at
the wrist. It was decided to return towards Bothwell, in the hope of
obtaining surgical assistance from the township, as Kavanagh's wound was
a very serious one. Cash's plan was to find out where the doctor lived,
and march him off in custody to attend to his wounded mate; but the
letting of blood appears to have deprived Kavanagh of some of his
bravery, and before this plan could be carried out he determined to
surrender himself to Mr. Clark, at Cluny, an old acquaintance. Nothing
that his companions could do or say was effective in shaking Kavanagh's
determination, and finding that he was not to be moved from his purpose,
they accompanied him within a short distance of Cluny and then left him.

Speaking of this affair. Cash subsequently wrote: "I am sorry truth
obliges me to say that Jones, while on the road to Mr. Clark's,
privately hinted the necessity of shooting Kavanagh, being under the
impression that he might reveal our haunts. I rebuked him for making
such a heartless proposition, observing that had I been in Kavanagh's
situation he would treat me in like manner, and regretting very much to
hear him suggest anything so unmanly, I kept my eye upon him until
Kavanagh was far away on the road, being of opinion that Jones would do
almost anything rather than forego his visit to Mrs. B----n's at the
Dromedary. We returned in very bad spirits, as neither of us liked the
idea of Kavanagh giving himself up to the authorities, although I never
for a moment thought that he would make disclosures to injure us. For
the first time I now became disgusted with my calling, being of opinion,
after what had lately transpired, that there could be no confidence or
friendship between men placed in our position. But the die was cast, and
I was obliged to follow it up to the end."

After leaving Kavanagh, Cash and Jones made their way back to Mrs.
B----n's house at Cobb's Hill, half fearful that their former retreat
would become a trap, as it would undoubtedly have done if Kavanagh had
"split" upon them. But they found everything as it was before, only
their friends being in the house. Cash, however, became suspicious, and
could not make up his mind to stay long. It was while waiting here that
they planned one of their most successful robberies. Hearing that a Mr.
Clark, of the Tea Tree, had about 200 in the house they determined to
make a raid and possess themselves of that treasure; and under the
guidance of one of their friends they made their way to the place.
Entering the house suddenly they gave the inmates no time to make
resistance; and almost before the astonishment created by their visit
had subsided they had disappeared again. On the same night they bailed
up the mail coach at Spring Hill, relieving the driver and the
passengers of all their money, watches and jewellery, and the mailbags
of all the letters having the appearance of containing money. They also
helped themselves to the latest newspapers, intending to learn all
contained therein concerning the movements of the military and
constables, who were now accompanied in their researches by black

At last Cash determined to visit Hobart and look after Mrs. Cash, about
whose conduct malicious rumours had been spread. He arrived safely in
town, looked up his friend the old fiddler, and started with him to find
Mrs. Cash's house: but unfortunately he was compelled to ask directions
of a man in the street. The man at once pointed out the house, but at
the same time called out to another man standing near, "This is the
party we are looking for", at which Cash made off, the two men following
him, firing at him as he ran. The remainder is thus told by the Hobart
Town "Review":- "By this time a number of persons had joined in the
pursuit, and the alarm increasing, a man named Cunliffe, a carpenter,
came from his house as he passed, and lifting his hand Cash discharged
his pistol, which wounded Cunliffe in the fingers. Cash then crossed
Elizabeth-street and ran along Brisbane-street, making for the paddock,
and as he passed the public-house called the Commodore, opposite Trinity
Church, one of the Penitentiary constables, named Winstanley, seized
him. A struggle ensued, when Cash drew a pistol and shot him through the
body: he died the next day. A person named Oldfield coming up, Cash
fired at him, wounding him in the face. At this moment another man
tripped him up, and a number of persons arriving he was handcuffed, but
not until he had made much resistance, in the course of which he was
much beaten. He was then taken to the Penitentiary to be identified, but
he was so disfigured in the struggle to capture him that Mr. Gunn could
not then recognise him. He was, however, conveyed to the gaol, no doubt
existing of his identity."

A week later the same paper contained the following:- "Cash and
Kavanagh.--We have already furnished our readers with full particulars
of the capture of these unfortunate men. They were both tried separately
yesterday--Cash, for the murder of the constable (Winstanley); Kavanagh,
for the robbing of the Launceston coach. Cash was defended by the late
Attorney-General, Mr. Edward Macdowell, who, although evidently
labouring (we sincerely regret to say) under severe indisposition, yet
defended the unhappy man with his usual zealous judgment. The jury found
both prisoners guilty, but a point of law, as to whether Winstanley knew
Cash to be a proscribed absentee when he met his death--whether the
melancholy event, deplorable as it was, could be wilful murder, a chief
element of which is malice prepense, and on some other subjects, is
reserved for the decision of both judges."

Cash had walked into the dock in the most unconcerned manner, and stood
during the trial with his arms folded. He was dressed in blue jacket and
trousers, and blue striped shirt, a black handkerchief round his neck,
and a green one round his head to cover up the wounds he had received at
the time of his capture. The indictment against him was drawn up in the
usual elaborate manner, charging him "for that he did, on the 29th
August, with a certain pistol of the value of five shillings, being then
and there loaded with gunpowder, which gunpowder exploded and discharged
a leaden bullet, which did strike, prostrate and wound the left breast
of the said Peter Winstanley, of which wound he died on the 31st
August." Neither Cash nor Kavanagh made any defence for themselves,
except to say that they had never shed blood where it was not absolutely
essential to their own safety--a statement which the judge admitted to
be true. On conviction they were removed to the cells to await
execution, but two days before the time arrived they were informed that
the sentence of death had been commuted to transportation to Norfolk
Island for life. The intelligence of their respite was conveyed to them
by Rev. Father Therry, to whom Cash had taken a great liking, and a few
days afterwards the two men, with twenty-two other convicts, were placed
on board the brig "Governor Phillip", and conveyed to their new
destination. Here Kavanagh was hung within a year for joining in a
mutiny; Cash, however, after many ups and downs, and (if we can believe
his own story at all) a great deal of petty persecution from Commandant
Price*, managed to escape the utmost penalty. Through the
instrumentality of the commandant who succeeded Mr. Price, a petition
for a remission of his sentence was favourably received. He served for a
time as constable at the Cascade, and having married a convict servant
of the resident surgeon on the island, he went back to Van Diemen's Land
when the establishment at the island was broken up. Here for a time he
served as caretaker at the Government Gardens, and subsequently went to
New Zealand, where he managed to accumulate a little property. After
residing in the land of the Maori four years he returned to Tasmania,
and purchased a farm at Glenorchy, near Hobart, where he passed the
remainder of his days "in the calm and tranquil enjoyment of rural

[* With reference to the alleged petty persecution of Cash by Commandant
Price at Norfolk Island, the following statement on the other side is of
interest, I took it down from the lips of the late Mr. Frank Belstead,
Secretary for Mines, Tasmania, who was a young officer under Price at
Norfolk Island when Cash was there:-

"When Martin Cash was reprieved he was sent to Norfolk Island. Major
Childs was the Commandant, but he was shortly afterwards superseded by
Mr. Price. Soon after Price's arrival he sent for Cash. Cash came to the
office. I was present and heard all that passed. Price, after his
manner, called Cash by his Christian name and chaffed him. He said:
'Well, Martin, so you're here, and I hear that you're going to make a
long stay?' 'Yes, Sir' said Martin. 'Well,' said Price, 'I know all
about you, and if you'll act on the square I'll lay up to you.' He went
on: 'It's a bargain, is it?' 'Yes, Sir,' said Cash. 'Well,' said Price,
'remember that if you make a mistake I'll come down on you just as I
would on anybody else; but, if you conduct yourself, I'll give you every
chance.' 'Thank you, Sir', said Cash.

"In a very short time Cash was made a sub-overseer. This gave him the
privilege of sleeping in a hut, instead of being locked up in barracks
with the ordinary prisoners at night. He had tea and sugar and could
smoke if he chose--a great privilege on Norfolk Island, though I think
Cash was not a smoker."

Mr. Belstead then narrated the various steps of promotion which Cash got
at short intervals, and concluded by saying:-

"Cash conducted himself well, and Price kept his word to him, granting
him every indulgence that the regulations allowed, (ash had not the
least reason to complain of his treatment, and the statements he has
made in his "Life", respecting Price's harshness and cruelty to him a re
entirely without foundation in fact."

{For another view of Price at Norfolk Island, see Major de Winton's
"Soldiering Fifty Years Ago" (London, 1898), p. 130, _et seq._}]

Jones, who had evaded capture for about seven months after his leader
had been captured, met his death on the scaffold--a fate apparently due
to his own ferocity, which Cash had so often restrained. After Cash had
left the "Retreat" for Hobart Town, Jones took up a fresh position on
the Dromedary, and formed a new gang with two runaway convicts. During
one raid a woman refused to tell where money was secreted, and in order
to make her confess Jones tied her up, gagged her, heated a spade in the
fire, and applied the red-hot iron to her legs, causing terrible
injuries. On another occasion he deliberately shot a constable who was
in pursuit of him, and subsequently boasted of the murder. Shortly after
this, however, the woman at the "Retreat", Mrs. B------, fearful for her
own safety, gave secret information to the authorities, who set a watch
and trapped the whole party of bushrangers in the hut of a man who had
been harbouring them on the Dromedary. Moore, one of the gang, crept
outside the hut on his hands and knees, and was immediately shot by one
of the constables. Jones came out next, and received a heavy charge of
shot in the face, which blinded him, rendering his capture an easy
matter. The other bushranger, Platt, was taken without being injured.
Then followed trial, conviction, and execution; and for some time
thereafter the peace of the residents in town and country in that land
of notorious bushrangers was undisturbed.




Donohoe and his gang were the most prominent bushrangers of the olden
time, and they kept the country in the vicinity of Liverpool, Windsor,
and Penrith, in a fever of alarm for about four years. John Donohoe was
a native of Dublin, and arrived as a prisoner in the colony in 1825,
being at the time quite a young man. Shortly after his arrival he
escaped to the bush and was joined by ten or a dozen kindred spirits,
who formed a formidable band. They committed most daring depredations,
sometimes simultaneously in different districts, the gang separating
into three parties, which would turn up in unexpected places. Donohoe
was a man of rather prepossessing appearance, somewhat effeminate in
features, having flaxen hair and blue eyes; but he was strongly built,
five feet four inches in height, and a veritable savage when roused to
anger by anything like resistance. His chief mates were Walmsley,
Webber, and Underwood, these three being the first to join him. They
were all convicts, with the exception, it is said, of Underwood, who was
native born, and had joined the others from sheer love of adventure. But
he had one adventure which he did not bargain for. After the quartette
had "been out" for some time, his companions ascertained that Underwood
was keeping a diary of their proceedings, and without further ado they
put an end at once to his ambition as a chronicler of interesting events
and to his life by deliberately murdering him.

During four years the country rang with reports of their desperate
deeds, to narrate which in detail would fill a volume. Cases of
"sticking up" on the road or in houses were of daily occurrence.
Settlers and others were robbed, completely stripped, and left in the
bush to make their way home as best they could. Nor did the ladies even
escape, for there were several instances in which it was related that
the robbers had taken the earrings from their ears, and the rings from
their fingers--these outrages being committed close to Sydney. They had
frequent fights with the police, with results usually indefinite.

Here is a story told by one who subsequently became mixed up a good deal
with crime and criminals, having been appointed a detective under the
Government of both New South Wales and a neighbouring colony:-

At this time I was in the employment of Mr. Wilfred, who had a station
near Bringelly, about 30 miles from Sydney. One beautiful summer morning
along with Mr. Wilfred I started from Bringelly, in a chaise and pair,
driving tandem. I recollect that as we were about to leave, a gentleman
connected with the Union Bank remarked, "Now, Mr. Wilfred, mind you do
not fall in with those boys in the bush." "Oh, no fear," replied Mr.
Wilfred, "I have travelled the road for years, and I have never met with
a bushranger." But we know the proverb of how often the pitcher may go
to the well before it is broken.

All went well until we got about a mile and a half beyond Liverpool.
This hamlet, which was dignified by being considered a township, and
borrowed the name of the shipping metropolis of Britain, consisted then,
whatever it may be now, of about a dozen little huts or shanties,
inhabited by what were termed "Dungaree", or "Stringybark settlers."
These people had a small patch of ground, on which they grew maize, and
this grain constituted almost their only article of diet, for they
considered it a luxury if they could obtain a few pints of flour in the
course of a year to mix with the maize meal. They would indeed sometimes
grow wheat, but they could not afford to consume it. They brought it to
market, and one of the principal purchases which they made with the
proceeds of the sale was a keg of rum, necessary for the annual
rejoicing which they had at the end of harvest, when they drank the
spirits from the pannikins, and for a few days the equanimity and
monotony of their simple mode of life would be disturbed by unusual
revelry. Well we had not got two miles past the settlement of this
enterprising band of colonists, when in a piece of thick iron-bark
scrub, at a sharp turn of the road known as Stamford Hill, we were
stopped by three noted bushrangers mounted on horseback. One appeared on
either side, and one a short distance in front, and each presented a
fowling piece. Of course, resistance was out of the question; we were
but two to three, and we were covered by their muskets. They ordered us
to "stand", and we had no alternative but to obey. Mr. Wilfred then in
obedience to their further commands, stepped out of the chaise, when
they not only robbed him of his watch, money and jewellery, but also
completely stripped him of his clothes, leaving him with nothing on save
his shirt.

"Now, Mr. Flunkey," said one of the worthy trio to me, "it's your turn."
I was subjected to a close search, but as I had only a few shillings in
my possession, they allowed me to retain the money, and I was
anticipating that I would be permitted to go "scot free", when the
attention of one of the men whom I afterwards recognised as Webber, was
attracted by a pair of strong kip boots which I wore. They were
colonial-made, and rare in those days, and were much prized by bushmen.
"Oh," said Webber, just as I thought they were done with me, "but I must
have his boots; they will just suit me." Accordingly, I had to denude
myself, however unwillingly, of my envied boots, when Webber put them
on, and declared them to be a "deuced good fit."

The chaise was next made the subject of their delicate attentions. As
luck would have it, we had in the vehicle some twelve or fifteen pounds
of powder, which we were taking to Mr. Lowe, a magistrate, who lived
about two miles from Bringelly, to be used in duck and kangaroo
shooting. The free-booters (the name seems specially appropriate when I
consider how they treated my pedal coverings) were exceedingly pleased
with this prize, which they declared was "just what they wanted"; and,
having tied the whole of their plunder on their horses, they bade us
good day, and disappeared, in the greatest good humour.

I had to drive back to Liverpool and obtain some clothing for the
denuded Mr. Wilfred, after which we continued our journey, and arrived
with no further casualty at Bringelly.

A Mr. Eaton was proceeding from Sydney towards Liverpool on horseback
when Donohoe or one of his gang fired at him from the side of the road
and severely wounded him. After he had fallen two members of the gang
robbed him of his money and valuables and a portion of his clothing and
then decamped, leaving him bleeding on the road. Before nightfall,
however, some settlers on their way to town picked Mr. Eaton up and
carried him home.

Next day a young man who had gone up to inspect some cattle at Liverpool
was deliberately shot in the neck and chest when on the road, and as
Donohoe and Underwood were then in the neighbourhood they received
credit for the outrage. No attempt was made to rob the victim, who was
left lying on the road.

The "Australian", a Sydney newspaper, published the following paragraph
about this time:-

Donohoe, the notorious bushranger, whose name is a terror in some parts
of the country, though we fancy he has more credit given to him for
outrages then he is deserving of, is said to have been seen by a party
well acquainted with his person, in Sydney, enjoying, not more than a
couple of days ago, quite at ease apparently, a cooling beverage,
derived from the contents of a ginger-beer bottle.

As a commentary upon this it may be stated that no less than six cases
of "sticking-up" occurred on the Parramatta-road during the ensuing

So great became the alarm that travellers joined on the road for mutual
protection, and a newspaper of the day offered the following comments:-

For the past few days there have been fewer instances of robbery than
there were during the last week or two; yet travelling is far from
safe--even between Sydney and Parramatta many persons rather than
venture alone still jog along in sixes and sevens, or keep up, for
protection, with the coaches. Some half dozen constables or so, we
believe, have been packed off along the Parramatta and Liverpool Roads,
but have returned to town, as usual safe and sound, but empty handed.
Not so in Van Diemen's Land--when the bushrangers were playing their
worst pranks, the Lieutenant-Governor himself set forth in search of
them, and even now Colonel Arthur threatens to pursue the refractory
aborigines in person through the island. But here, with a mounted police
and a police establishment, which if not effective is not for want of
expense, and a strong garrison of armed soldiery, the bushranging gentry
seem to carry on their pranks almost without molestation. If the
constables cannot be depended upon or spared in sufficient numbers,
there is the horse-police; and surely out of 800 soldiers, 40 or 50
picked men might be dubbed constables, _pro tempore_, and despatched to
scour the roads of those marauders who, though comparatively few and
weak in number, by the comparative impunity they are allowed to enjoy,
carry terror and devastation into the huts of the lonely settlers. Some
effective measures should be taken, and that speedily, to suppress this
alarming evil.

One evening in September, 1829, Donohoe and Underwood entered the hut on
Sir J. Jamieson's estate, and having tied up the inmates proceeded to
cook supper for themselves. Donohoe actually made preparation to burn
the hut with its inmates, but was prevented by his companion from
carrying out his cruel design. Going to the other extreme, he then
forced the unfortunate victims in the hut to drink a large quantity of
rum, and having further secured their hands and feet, the robbers walked
off with everything they could carry.

At this time a reward of 100 was offered by the Government for the
capture of the two men. If the captor was a convict he would receive a
ticket-of-leave as well as the money.

They then went up the mountains, well mounted and armed, Fish River and
Mount York being reported as their camping grounds. Just at this time
the Governor was making an official visit to Bathurst, attended by a
strong body guard, and a hope was expressed that they would fall in with
the bushrangers, but that hope was not realised.

The following is the full text of a letter written from Windsor shortly
after the occurrence therein narrated took place:-

On Thursday, 14th instant, as two carts laden with divers property
belonging to Mr. McQuade, shopkeeper, Windsor, were returning from
Sydney, and when within two miles of Windsor three armed men rushed out
from the bush and ordered the carters to stand. They pulled up, and then
found the three men to be Donohoe, Walmsley, and Webber, the
bushrangers. The bandits commanded them to drive into the bush about 40
rods, and arrived at the spot Donohoe questioned them as to the owners
of the stores in the cart, and also sought information as to the
movements of the chief constable and police magistrate of Windsor.
Walmsley was then placed to keep the carters under cover while the other
two proceeded to ransack the carts, making one of the carters assist. In
one cart was a crate of earthenware, a large quantity of print and
calico pieces, and two bags of sugar. The bushrangers removed all the
print pieces, etc., but left the earthenware, and cursed the drivers for
not having some tobacco on board. Donohoe said he would give all the
rest of the stuff for half a basket of tobacco, and one of the carters
innocently said "If you let me know where I shall leave you some I will
in less than two hours deposit two pounds for you anywhere." Donohoe
answered rather angrily "What a flat I am." Just then another vehicle
was heard passing along the road, and Donohoe said if they were not busy
they would bail up the occupants, but they could not do it just then. It
subsequently transpired that the travellers were the Police Magistrate
and Mr. Richardson, the surveyor. There was a crate of rum in one cart
among the other things, and this Webber broached, the men expressing
regret that there was not a small crock or keg to put the liquor in.
Donohoe and Walmsley drank very little but Webber drank so much as to
call forth a reproof from his leader, when he replied "I wish I could
get some of this when under the gallows"; then Donohoe replied "I would
rather meet my death by a ball than the gallows." Donohoe is represented
as being lame in the left arm about the shoulder, but remarkably active
nevertheless. On one occasion, rather than go round the cart he put one
hand on the horse's rump and sprang to the other side with remarkable
ease and agility. One of the three proposed to take a bag of sugar
amongst the other articles, but Donohoe objected, saying that he would
not be burdened: but he made one of the carters hold the bag while he
cut it open and emptied some of the contents into a small corn bag.

They conversed rather freely with one of the carters, acknowledging that
they had been harassed of late, and that they were very short of bread.
In rejoinder to something the other carter said Donohoe assured him
angrily that they were not afraid of the chief constable and all his
bloodhounds, and dared him to send them all out after them as soon as he
got into Windsor. "Tell him," said he, "to send us half a dozen flannel
shirts, as the nights are cold; tell him somebody else knows the bush as
well as him, and that we know he has been after us three weeks at a
time; if you have any mind to keep any part of these things in the cart
do so and lay it all on us and welcome, we've got enough." Boyle (the
carter) turned all his pockets inside out to convince the bushrangers
that he had no tobacco, and Donohoe, looking at the spirits, said,
"D---- the rum; I'd sooner have a loaf or some tobacco than all the ----
stuff." Quin, the carter, said that the affair would go hard with him,
as he was only just free and would be made answerable for the goods.
"Ah," said Webber, "What would I give if I were free!" Donohoe then made
two packages of the fifty pieces of print and fine pieces of calico, and
a third package of the sugar, and tied them with a strand of the cart
rope so that they would fit over each man's shoulders and leave the arms
free. They were all well armed, having each a brace or more of pistols
slung before them, by leather belts around the body and holsters to hold
them. In addition to the pistols Donohoe and Webber each had an
excellent fowling piece. They all presented a remarkably clean
appearance, and were dressed as follows:- Donohoe--black hat, superfine
blue cloth coat lined with silk, surtout fashion, plaited shirt (good
quality), laced boots rather worn at the toes and snuff coloured
trousers; Walmsley--black hat, shooting jacket with double pockets, blue
cloth trousers, plaited shirt and laced boots; Webber--black hat, blue
jacket, plaited shirt, with very handsome silk handkerchief round the
neck, blue trousers and laced boots.

After shaking hands with the carters the bushrangers rode away, Donohoe
saying that if it were not for the large reward offered for him, he
would go to Sydney, "fence the swag" and leave the country.

Quinn and Boyle immediately reloaded what was left into the carts and
went into Windsor and reported the matter to the chief constable, who
proceeded himself with the horse police in search of the desperadoes.
Black Jemmy also went out and tracked the footsteps of three men until
darkness came on. The constabulary then watched for fires during the
night, but Donohoe was no novice, and doubtless travelled during the
darkness and rested in the day. From the fact of the bushrangers being
able to find a market for so much calico and print, there can be no
doubt that they have some receivers, and consequently friends who supply
them with comforts and information concerning the movements of the

So the game went on. Mr. Lawrence Dulhunty, who had helped to capture
Mustin, was caught, and stripped naked in revenge, and narrowly escaped
having his ears cut off. Mr. Blaxland, of Newington, was stopped in his
own drive, and only saved from their brutal treatment by the bravery of
his daughters. One day the gang would be heard of as robbing a traveller
within a few miles of Sydney, and the next as having stuck up a store or
station a hundred miles from the quarter where they had been last seen.
Donohoe was, indeed, once arrested, but while being brought from the
prison to the court, he succeeded in effecting his escape. A hero before
in the estimation of the ignorant and tainted portion of the population,
he was now regarded as possessing a charmed life. At one time he was
said to be at the head of at least a score of bushrangers, and all the
efforts of the constabulary to break up the gang proved unavailing.

At last the residents rose in their own protection. A number of
gentlemen formed themselves into a corps to clear the country of the
band of desperadoes, and they arranged and carried out their plans
effectively. Wisely determining that it would be futile to chase the
marauders through the country, the volunteers took post near Bringelly,
which was one of Donohoe's favourite resorts. It was not long before the
banditti paid a visit to this locality, and made their head quarters in
a peculiar recess in the bush, which was known to their pursuers.
Thither the volunteer corps, to the number of about a dozen, repaired,
in the hope of being able to surprise the bandit camp. The feet of one
of the horses, however, dislodged a stone, which, rattling down a
precipice, alarmed the bushrangers, and they prepared to give their
assailants a warm reception. Being about equally matched a sharp action
took place, in which several men and horses on both sides were wounded,
but none fatally. At length, the assailants, finding they could secure
no decided superiority, feigned an attack, when the bushrangers fell
back and the volunteers, taking advantage of the opportunity, turned and
retreated, in order to obtain a reinforcement of mounted police who were
in the neighbourhood.

Joined by the troopers, the volunteers renewed the fight. Both parties
fought best under cover, concealing themselves behind trees and firing
on any opponent who exposed himself. There was among them an old
soldier, a good marksman, who selected the bandit chief for his victim.
He watched for his opportunity when Donohoe was looking from behind the
tree at which he had taken his stand, and fired on the instant; both the
bullets with which the musket was loaded took effect in the bushranger's
head. Their leader slain, the bushrangers took to flight, and most of
them succeeded in effecting their escape. On the person of Donohoe there
was found a small pistol, loaded, with which it was said he intended to
commit suicide if at any time he should find escape impossible.

Walmsley and Webber, the other two leaders, held out a little longer,
until the former, it is believed, betrayed his comrade. While they were
in the act of sticking-up a gentleman and his carriage on the Western
Road, they found themselves in an instant surrounded by a body of police
who conveyed them to Sydney. Walmsley turned King's evidence against
Webber, and caused great consternation among his old friends in the bush
by giving full information as to how they disposed of the whole proceeds
of the robberies. The houses of some thirty different people were
searched and a large amount of valuable property was recovered. Webber
was convicted and hanged, while Walmsley was transhipped to Van Diemen's
Land. The receivers of the stolen property, against whom Walmsley gave
information, were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment, and the
reign of terror in the New South Wales bush was brought to a close.


In the old convict days harbourers of bushrangers and runaways were
looked upon and treated as a very "bad lot"--as, indeed, they were, for
without their shelter and assistance the career of many a bushranger
would have been cut short speedily. Hence, hutkeepers and others who
were convicted of "harbouring" were without much ceremony handed over to
the public flogger or the gaoler, and most curious means were
occasionally adopted by the police in their detection. Here, for
instance, is one story of the kind, told by the trapper himself in an

Westmoreland.--To Wit: William Christie came before me, one of His
Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the said colony, and maketh oath and
saith: That on the 24th day of August, 1825, being at the head of a
party of constables and others in pursuit of bushrangers in the
neighbourhood of Bathurst, he deemed it necessary to send forward one of
said party named Matthew Menfield, disguised in the character of and
personating a bushranger; that accordingly the said Matthew Menfield
went forward in the above character to a hut occupied by shepherds
belonging to Mr. Icely, where he remained until the arrival of deponent
and his party, and when he saw them coming up he (Menfield) went into
the hut and pretended to secrete himself from the party, which he
appeared to be afraid of. On inquiring of the hutkeeper, James
McAuliffe, if he saw a man pass by dressed in a factory frock and straw
hat and with a gun, he said the hutkeeper told a falsehood by stating
that he saw a man answering this description pass by, and pretended to
point out the road which he had run. Deponent then ordered one of his
party, named Thomas Dawson, to dismount from his horse and search the
hut, which he did accordingly, and found secreted therein the said
Matthew Menfield. Deponent then ordered another of the party, named
Patrick Blanchfield, to handcuff the hutkeeper, when the hutkeeper said
to the said Patrick Blanchfield words to the following purport:- "You
---- rascal, many a time yourself and others have come this way hungry
and had your bellies filled, and this is the way I am repaid for it."
Deponent then took him some distance from the hut and liberated him,
telling him he would call for him on his return, and then proceeded with
his party in search of bushrangers. Deponent further stated that on the
same night, after he had left the abovementioned hut, he sent Menfield
on to Captain Piper's station and to act in a similar manner, and on the
arrival of Menfield at the hut he found two shepherds and a hutkeeper,
and they objected to admit him, but told him they would give him bread
and meat, and that two men would be in immediately. He received the
bread and meat, and then returned to deponent and told him the

The unfortunate McAuliffe received a round two dozen, with an extra
stroke "given in", as a lesson not to open his door to a bushranger in
the future. What a poor chance had men in those days of entertaining
angels unawares!

The harbourer, once caught, might expect severe treatment, as will be
seen from the Act here given:-


By His Excellency Sir Thomas Brisbane, K.C.B., Governor of the Colony of
New South Wales, &c., &c., &c., with the Advice of the Council. (An Act
to prevent the Harbouring of Runaway Convicts and the Encouraging of
Convicts Tippling or Gambling.--January 19, 1825.)

Whereas the Harbouring and Employing of Runaway Convicts greatly
encourages them to abscond from their lawful services, and mislead the
Thoughtless into bad Courses of Life; and the Harbourers and Employers
of such Convicts frequently become the Receivers of Stolen Goods, and
conceal dangerous Offenders from Justice:-

Now, therefore, be it enacted, by His Excellency the Governor of New
South Wales, with the Advice of the Council, That, from and after the
First Day of February next, any Householder, Settler, or other Person in
the Colony of New South Wales, or any of its Dependencies, harbouring in
or about his or her House, Lands, or otherwise, or in any Manner
employing any Person illegally at large, shall pay to Our Lord the King
a sum of not less than Five Dollars, nor more than Fifty Dollars, for
every such offence; and a further sum of One Dollar for each and every
Day he, she, or they shall so harbour or employ such Person, whether
knowing or not knowing him or her to be illegally at large: And the said
Fine or Fines shall be leviable, upon Conviction of the said Harbourer
or Harbourers, Employer or Employers, by two Justices of the people, in
a summary Way, upon the Oath of one Witness, or other legal Proof.

II. Provided always, that if any Householder, Settler, or other person,
shall be desirous of employing any Laborer or other Servant, and of
ascertaining whether such Laborer or other Servant is at large contrary
to the legal Regulations of the said Colony, it shall be lawful for such
Householder, Settler, or other Person, to apply to any Justice of the
Peace residing within the district where such Laborer or other Servant
is engaged, or intended to be employed, to enquire into the Fact whether
such Laborer or other Servant is or is not at Large contrary to such
Regulations; and such Justice of the Peace is hereby authorised and
required, upon such Application forthwith, to cause every such Laborer,
and other Servant, to come before him, and enquire into such Fact as
aforesaid; and if it shall appear, to the satisfaction of the said
Justice of the Peace, that such Laborer or other Servant is not at Large
contrary to the said Regulations, such Justice shall grant a certificate
to that effect, under his hand, to such Householder, Settler, or other
Person so applying, and it shall be lawful for such Householder, Settler
or other Person, to employ such Laborer or other Servant without
incurring or being liable to any Fine or Fines as aforesaid.

III. And whereas convicts in the service of the Crown, or assigned to
private Settlers and other Individuals, frequently resort to Drinking or
Gambling Houses, to the great injury of their Masters, and Detriment to
public Order. Now, therefore, for the prevention thereof, and in order
to compel such convicts to confine themselves to their lawful Stations
and Business, be it further enacted, That the Occupier or Person in
Possession of every House, being licensed to sell Ale, Beer, or
Spirituous Liquors, shall pay to the King a Fine, not exceeding Twenty
Dollars, nor less than Four Dollars; and the Occupier, or Person in
Possession of every House, not being so licensed, shall pay to the King
a Fine not exceeding Forty Dollars nor less than Eight Dollars, for
every such Convict as aforesaid, who shall be proved by the Oath of one
Person, or by any other legal proof, before any two Justices of the
Peace, in a summary way, to have been, and been received, at such house
as aforesaid, for the purpose of Drinking or Gambling as aforesaid,
without the leave of his Overseer, Master, or Mistress; and in every
such case as last aforesaid the leave of the Master or Mistress shall be
proved by the Owner of the House, or it shall be held not to have been
given; and if the said offence of employing or entertaining Convicts as
aforesaid shall have been committed on a Sunday or Sundays, the Fine or
Fines to be imposed in consequence thereof shall be at least Ten
Dollars, and not exceed Fifty Dollars.

IV. And be it further enacted. That if any of the said Fine or Fines
hereinbefore imposed shall not be paid within Three Days after such
Convictions as aforesaid respectively, the same may be enforced by any
two Justices, by Attachment and Sale of the Goods and Effects of the
Person or persons convicted aforesaid: And in Case no such Goods and
Effects shall be found whereon to levy the said Fine or Fines, that it
shall and may be lawful for such Justices, before whom such Convictions
as aforesaid shall have taken place, to issue their Warrant to apprehend
the Person or Persons so Convicted, and to cause such Person or Persons
to be imprisoned and, if the said Justices shall think fit, put to Hard
Labour for any Time not less than Ten Days, nor more than Three Calendar

V. Provided, That all Fines, which shall be paid or levied under this
Act, shall be for the local Purposes of the District wherein the same
shall be levied, and shall be paid and appropriated at the Discretion
and by the Order of the Justices of the Court of Sessions holden for
such District, in the Rewarding of such Persons as shall inform against
and prosecute to Conviction any Offender or Offenders against this or
any Law or Act for the Peace, Order and Good Government of the said
Colony; and shall from time to time be duly accounted for to the
Governor or Acting Governor of the said Colony, and a true Account of
the Appropriation of all such Fines as aforesaid shall be published
quarterly in the Public Newspapers.


January 19th, 1825--Passed the Council, FRANCIS STEPHEN, Clk. Col.

I have given this Order in Council in full, from an official copy in my
possession, as it throws light not only upon the method of procedure
then in vogue with regard to harbourers, but upon the liquor law in its
bearing upon the convict system generally. Men not free who were
convicted of harbouring runaways were dealt with after a different
fashion. Here is a case in point:- Thomas Jones, a "ticket-of-leave"
convict, was charged, in July, 1826, with having harboured a notorious
bushranger of that time named Johnston. It appeared that Johnston came
to the hut and demanded shelter, and Jones allowed him to sleep there
during one night, although a hut mate of his protested. In his defence
Jones said he sheltered Johnston and supplied him with victuals, because
he was afraid to resist his demands. But his plea was not deemed
sufficient excuse for the offence, and the Bench ordered his ticket to
be taken away and him to be "turned in to Government", i.e., returned to
the Government gang of convicts to finish his original sentence.


The Bathurst district during the twenties was never without its share of
bushrangers, mostly convicts who were tired of their lot as assigned
servants. They were not criminals of the wilfully brutal Tasmanian sort,
but stole provisions and clothes here and there from outlying huts to
supply their daily needs, A few samples may be given here.

At about the same time that McAuliffe was being judicially "trapped", a
prisoner named Charles Jubey ran away from the Bathurst settlement and
took the bush, in the hope that he would fall in with a small band of
absconders who were supposed to be enjoying quite a picnic somewhere up
the river, away from the restraints of Government rule. But his search
for them was fruitless, and not having arms he was afraid to rob on his
own account; hence he wandered about the bush for nearly a month until
well nigh starved, and then decided to give himself up. He was
proceeding to do this when he was seen by three good-conduct prisoners,
named Good, Harrison, and Butterfield, who had set out in search of the
runaways, and who pounced upon him and conducted him in triumph back to
the settlement. When brought before the Bench he pleaded that he had run
away because he was "so harassed and torn about" by his keepers, but
confessed that he had "a belly-full of it" (queer metaphor for a
starving man to use!) and that he was on the way to deliver himself back
into the hands of his task-masters, when the three hunters found him.

The Court would not believe that he had no knowledge of the other men
who were roaming the bush, and sought to bribe him into a confession; he
was accordingly found guilty and sentenced to 75 lashes, on the
understanding that he would be let off if he told where the bushrangers
could be found.

Poor Jubey had to take the six-dozen-and-a-quarter strokes at the then
well used triangles in the flogging yard.

In those days magistrates required very little convicting evidence, and
prisoners could not command the services of any counsel. Note the case
of Richard Carter, to wit. He is described as "prisoner per ship
Minerva, late servant to Richard Lewis", and was brought up for being at
large in the bush. The only evidence taken against him before the Bench
was that of Sergeant Wilcox, of the Buffs, and Mr. Cheshire. The former
stated that when he was at Davey on the 7th March, 1826, he received
information that a bushranger was on the road to Handowey Plains in
company with Mr. Fitzgerald's stockmen and drays that were going down.
The sergeant and his party at once went in pursuit of him, and found him
on the 12th at Handowey Plains in Mr. Fitzgerald's hut, with the
overseer and men. He took him prisoner and brought him to the
settlement. Mr. Cheshire simply stated that he knew that prisoner had
been the servant of Mr. Lewis. Having heard this much the court
sentenced Carter to be sent to Port Macquarie, or such other settlement,
etc., for the term of three years.


The Bench 'of Magistrates at Bathurst was called upon, on 1st March,
1826, to hear a remarkable story from the lips of Roger Keenan, prisoner
per ship "Mangles", overseer at Mudgee for Mr. Lawson. Keenan said that
he was going to Mudgee about a month before, after nightfall, Mr. John
Lawson riding before him on the road, and when within about three miles
of the station, three men started from the edge of the river quite
naked, each of them being armed with a gun and pistol. They ran past
deponent, and then turned and went round him, telling him to "stand, or
they would blow his brains out." Deponent stood, of course, but called
out to Mr. Lawson to "come back and bring the soldiers." He returned,
and deponent at once jumped off his horse and presented his pistol at
one of the men; but the four men presented their muskets at him, and one
of them desired him to lay down his arms and promised that he should not
be touched. Mr. Lawson then galloped away, leaving his pistol and some
clothes on the road; and deponent did not see him again until the
following day. Deponent was obliged by the men to give up his pistol;
and they then took his other pistol from the holster, while one of
them--a tall, straight man--presented his musket and threatened to shoot
him. The whole party consisted of seven men all dressed. Deponent did
not state how he got away, but passed on to tell what happened on the
following Sunday night. Four men, he said, came to the hut at the
station a little after dark. They stood at the door and shouted, and
then one of them entered and put fire three times to the thatch of the
hut to burn it. When they left they took away with them 5 lbs. of
tobacco, 9 lbs. of soap, and some thread. In answer to a question,
deponent said that he had not heard of any Wellington runaways being at
Mudgee, and that he thought there were only seven in the bush.

There is nothing on the records to show what the magistrates thought of
this story, or whether they were moved to take any action through its
narration. Perhaps the glaring contradictions that fell from Keenan's
lips satisfied them that there was something of the "cock and bull"
about it. First he said he saw three men, quite naked; then four
presented their muskets at him--what they did with the pistols meanwhile
he did not explain, although explanation was necessary, seeing that they
had no pockets to put them in; then seven men, all dressed, demanded
that he should give up his arms. It was all very funny, to say the least
of it.


Frequent reports of night raids by bushrangers were made to the Bench
about this time, but nothing came of them. Here is one:- On the morning
of 6th April, 1826, Thomas Burns, servant to the overseer of Rev. S.
Marsden, was milking the cows at the station at Campbell's River, about
an hour before daylight, when he saw two men near the hut. He went
forward and then saw the men going through the pumpkins, they having
robbed the hut. He followed the two men as they ran, and recognised one
of them as Denis Nowlan. Getting near them he called to them to leave
him a part of the "swag." Nowlan's mate then turned round and said that
if deponent did not go back he would blow his brains out. Deponent went
back as requested and then sent information to Lawson's place. Some
hours afterwards the two Lawsons came over with some blacks, but they
were unable to find the robbers. The articles taken from the hut
consisted of five shirts, two pairs of trousers, seven and a half yards
of factory stuff, a musket, a quantity of tea and sugar, three razors, 9
lbs. of soap, some thread, two quart pots and two pairs of new boots.
This formed a large haul, for in those days all of the articles
enumerated were both scarce and dear.


In July, 1826, Johnston, Jennings, and Carter, three assigned servants
of a settler near Bathurst, determined to take to the bush, and lead a
merry life as freebooters. They left their master's place during the
night, with three dogs, two guns, and food to last three or four days.
Their first visit was to Tindall's station at Warren Gunyah, where they
"lifted" three horses. From this station they proceeded to the station
of Mr. Bowman, where Jennings kept the hutkeeper under cover of his gun
while Johnston and Carter proceeded to ransack the place, the trio
subsequently departing with four shirts, two pairs of trousers, some
wheat, a great coat, and a musket for the man who was unarmed,
threatening the hutkeeper with dire vengeance if he followed them. At
Fitzgerald's sheep station they helped themselves to a large portion of
his flock, nearly frightening the life out of the shepherd who was
minding them. They drove away 52 sheep altogether, and headed with their
spoils through the bush to Tubrabucca Swamp. But in the meantime word of
their depredations had reached the ears of the authorities, and Sergeant
Wilcox and his men, accompanied by Mr. Tindall and Mr. Wm. Lee, started
out in pursuit. The pursuit party followed the tracks to Tubrabucca
Swamp, where they camped for the night. Next day they followed the
tracks for about 20 miles, but could not see anything of the
bushrangers, but the day following they overtook and surprised them when
lying down in a gully in camp, in the midst of their spoils. The attack
was so sudden that they could not make any resistance, and they were
brought by easy stages into Bathurst, where they were formally committed
to the Criminal Court in Sydney.

What became of them will be seen from the following Government Order,
which was issued from the Colonial Secretary's Office in October


The execution of Thomas Mustin, Daniel Watkins and John Brown is to take
place at Burwood on Monday morning next; and the execution of Matthew
Craven and Thomas Cavanagh, on the Western Road, in the neighbourhood of
Parramatta, on the same morning.

The prisoners will move from the Gaol in Sydney, at 6 o'clock, under a
military escort, to the place of execution.

The road parties in the neighbourhood will attend at the places pointed
out, according to the orders communicated to the inspector of roads.

The garrison of Parramatta will be under arms; and the prisoners in the
employment of Government at that place will be taken to the Western
Road, to witness the execution.

James Moran and Patrick Sullivan are to suffer at Irish Town on

The bodies of the whole of the criminals above alluded to will remain
suspended during the day.

Johnston, Jennings and Carter, who formed part of the gang of
bushrangers at Bathurst, are under orders for transportation to Norfolk
Island, where they are to be worked in chains during their lives.

John Sullivan, the only individual of this banditti who had not been
apprehended, finding it impossible to elude the vigilance of the mounted
police, has lately surrendered himself into the hands of justice.

The Governor would willingly hope that the examples thus held up may
have the effect of deterring the evil-disposed from entering on a course
of crime, which must infallibly end in their ruin. The unfortunate men,
now about to suffer, had indulged, for a time, in rapine and outrage;
but let it be remembered they have, in no one instance, enjoyed or
derived any benefit from their plunder. It has all been recovered; and
after leading lives, burthensome to them, as is proved by the voluntary
surrender of one of the party, they have become victims to the injured
laws of their country.

By his Excellency's command, ALEXANDER M'LEAY.

Another Government Order bearing on the case was issued. It reads as


The Governor has again the satisfaction to notice the successful
exertions of the mounted police, under Lieutenant Evernden, at Bathurst.

A party of bushrangers, armed with muskets, have been taken, after
pursuit of three days. They had seized some horses, and were driving off
a number of sheep, having a native woman and her child with them.

These people (two of whom, Carter and Johnston, are notorious offenders,
having escaped from an escort in March last) were promptly pursued, in
consequence of the information given by Mr. Tindall, whose establishment
they had plundered, and who, together with Mr. Lee, and two natives (who
are reported to have been extremely useful on this occasion),
accompanied the mounted police, and by their activity contributed to the
success of the party.

Had Mr. Robert Fitzgerald been as prompt as Mr. Tindall in giving
information to the commandant at Bathurst, when first his horses were
carried off, and not have depended on the bushrangers returning them, as
they appear to have promised to do, or waited until they repeated their
visit and depredations, before he represented the matter, his horses
probably would also have been recovered.

Mr. Tindall is rewarded by the restitution of his property, and the
acknowledgments which are due to his spirited and manly conduct; and he
may be assured that he will always receive from Government the
assistance and support which such conduct merits.

Those who, from supineness or any unworthy motive do not at once come
forward, but acquiesce in the aggressions of the bushrangers, in the
hope of conciliating them, will meet the merited reward of their
baseness by being Plundered by those whom they have endeavoured to
screen, and being held up to the just Reprobation of the Public.

As to the Bushrangers who have been so active in the Bathurst District,
another Example has been recently made, Hostle having suffered the awful
Sentence of the Law. Those who are disposed to pursue this Course of
Life should be aware that the present Arrangements of the Troops, and
the Exertions of the Government, promoted as these are by the Vigilance
of the Magistracy, and the Loyalty of the Inhabitants at large, leave
them, in fact, no Chance of Escape. Even those who, having been
apprehended, have evaded the Vigilance of their Guard, and absconded a
second Time, have been apprehended.

The Government is pleased to add that, when the above Intelligence was
sent from Bathurst, a Party of the Mounted Police had been dispatched in
Pursuit of a second Gang of Bushrangers, who had carried off Cattle from
Mr. West's Station, and it was expected would be immediately overtaken.
This Party was accompanied, as the former, by some intelligent Natives,
whose Zeal and Fidelity are highly spoken of.

*  *  *  *  *

By His Excellency's Command, ALEXANDER M'LEAY.


A party of bushrangers known as Sullivan's gang created a great stir in
the Bathurst district for nearly six months, all attempts to capture
them during that time proving futile, although reports of their raids on
the stations around were frequently received. Their number was variously
stated as anything from three to eight, but only five were taken by the
authorities, who effected the capture through one member of the gang
giving himself up and turning Queen's evidence. They were absconders
from the mountain gang. The report of their trial makes interesting
reading, and is so typical of the conduct of these escapee bushrangers
that it may be given here in full. Three of them--James Moran, per ship
"Isabella"; Matthew Craven, per ship "Guildford"; and Patrick Sullivan,
per ship "Brampton"--were charged with being "at large in the bush, and
for serious robberies and misdemeanours":-

Thomas Evernden, Lieutenant of the Buffs, being sworn, states that on
the 2nd March, about 2 o'clock in the morning, Jeremiah Burns, a
bushranger, was brought to deponent by the chief constable, and he said
he had some information to give respecting the gang to which he
belonged; deponent had Burns' depositions taken before him in
consequence of this information, and then proceeded with Burns and a
party of the mounted police into the mountains at the top of
Windburndale Creek, where they succeeded in securing a quantity of
property in a bark hut. Deponent produced the property there found.

Jeremiah Burns, the bushranger who had given himself up, was then sworn,
and stated that when the prisoners escaped from the soldiers, between
the weatherboarded hut and Springwood, he (Burns) lost his companions;
he reached the top of Windburndale Creek on Christmas Day, and four or
five days afterwards he joined the three prisoners--Sullivan, Craven and
Moran; deponent went with them from the Windburndale to Mr. Lee's
station, on the Turon River, from which place they took a fowling piece,
a sheep, two old jackets, two blankets, and a pair of shoes; on last
Thursday week they went to Hayes' station at the Fish River and took two
sheep, a new great coat, 15 lb. or 16 lb. of flour, a gun and two pairs
of half-boots; the following night they went to Andrew Gardiner's
station and took a piece of linen, three or four pairs of shoes, two new
Parramatta frocks, two guns and a bayonet, one brass-handled pistol, one
common horse pistol, some fine white shirts, the woman's blue coat, a
blue body coat, two blue jackets, one velveteen ditto, a suit of Tartan
plaid, three white stockings, and four or five canisters, supposing them
to contain powder, but it was only found in one of them; previous to
entering the hut Moran set fire to the thatch above the kitchen window,
while Craven made a hole in the window with his musket and fired in;
deponent put out the fire on the thatch and Moran struck him for doing
so; about the second Saturday after they drove Mr. Innis' bullocks up
the creek, and Moran fired at one and struck him on the head, but he got
away. About three weeks ago they went to Mr. Perrier's station, at
Antonio's Creek, and took two sheep; they went to the door of the hut
but did not go in; Sullivan and Moran told him that before he and Craven
joined them they robbed Blackman's station and took two sheep, two pairs
of half boots, a bag with a name which he believes was Mr. Blackman's,
some ammunition and other things which deponent does not know; they also
told him they had robbed Mr. Jones' station and took two lambs, two
pairs of half boots, some powder and shot in a skin pouch, a small
powder horn and some clothes; this robbery took place while deponent
stayed behind in the bark hut on the Windburndale, being unwell at the
time; last night the whole party went to Mr. Ranken's for the purpose of
being joined by Maurice Council and another man at the creek side in a
hut of Mr. Ranken's, below Mr. Thompson's farm; Sullivan told his party
that he was told by one of Mr. Ranken's men that his (Sullivan's)
brother and Maurice Council would join them at the hut, and it was the
intention of the party to shoot a man of Mr. Lewis' and drive away the
flock of sheep; Sullivan first asked deponent to shoot this man, and
then Moran also asked him, but he refused to do so; Craven then said
"Everyone of us will have a blow at him"; deponent told Sullivan that if
he had any intention of committing murder he (Burns) would not be with
him, and in consequence he made his escape, and as he was doing so one
of the party snapped the gun at him, which burned priming; deponent then
gave himself up; the three men placed at the bar were the identical men
who committed the depredations with him.

William Leister, servant to Mr. Marsden, states that on the 16th
February last, about 1 o'clock in the morning, he saw four men come to
Mr. Gardiner's house; before they came in a shot was fired in at the
window and another at the door; they burst the door open and desired
deponent to go up and down the house with them; they said they only
wanted ammunition and muskets; they made deponent sit down and covered
his head; they then took away a quantity of property; before they went
they shut deponent and Mrs. Gardiner into a room and said if they made
any alarm they would blow their brains out; before they entered the
house he heard one of them say "Let's rob the place--take all they
have." Craven was one of the men who came into the house; they took
three canisters and a horse belonging to deponent, and blankets,
jackets, trousers, boots, etc., belonging to Mr. Marsden.

Sarah Gardiner states that she was awakened by hearing a great noise and
immediately called the man who lived in the house; he desired her not to
be afraid, as nothing was the matter; a few minutes afterwards four men
entered the house by forcibly bursting open the door and firing a shot
through the window; when they came in one of them asked who was there
and whose station it was; deponent said it was Mr. Marsden's; they then
asked her where her husband was, and when she said he had gone to Bogie
station they replied they knew that; they said they only wanted muskets
and ammunition, and if they got these they would not take anything else;
they went into the bedroom and opened the box, from which one of them
took a black hat, saying it was a very good one; they made her sit down
on the sofa, and when she complained of being cold, one of them brought
her a shawl and made her cover her head and dared her to look up; they
asked for tea and sugar; one man stood at the door with a musket in his
hand; Craven was that man; they took of her property some blankets,
sheets, riding habit, 27 balls of cotton, a hank of thread, a table
cloth, five shirts, and other things.

The prisoners were fully committed for trial, but before being sent to
the Criminal Court they were charged with other offences, and the
following evidence was given:-

Sergeant Wilcox, being sworn, states that it having been reported that
some of Mr. West's cattle had been stolen from the run, he took five men
and started out for the station; they searched for the bushrangers for
three days, following their tracks to the Abercrombie River, when they
observed where the horses had crossed; they then came up with three men,
who were in a temporary bark hut; the party rushed forward and captured
the three, named Cavanagh, Moran, and Craven; there was a considerable
quantity of property lying on the ground and three horses near, with
saddles, bridles, three firelocks, two pistols and a sword; knowing that
there were two others belonging to the gang deponent and three men went
to watch for their return to the camp, leaving the other two guarding
the three prisoners; deponent had some natives with him, and between 7
and 8 o'clock at night the natives said they could hear the cracking of
whips; the party then planted themselves, and presently deponent heard
the voices of two men driving cattle; he recognised one of them as
Sullivan and heard him say to the other man, "Stay where you are and I
will go up to the hut"; one of the party along with deponent then seized
Sullivan, who was on horseback, and took him prisoner; on searching him
they found a pistol stuck in a belt around his waist; the man that had
been along with him made his escape; the party afterwards marched the
prisoners to Bathurst; the prisoners said after their apprehension that
if they had been all together they would have fired on the police, but
being only three they considered it of no use.

Private George Ecleston deposed that he it was who had seized Sullivan;
he had been planted behind a tree and as Sullivan passed him he sprang
out and seized him by the breast, threatening to blow his brains out if
he did not dismount; Sullivan then got off his horse and was secured.

Robert Fitzgerald deposed that when he was at Mr. Innes' station at
Capertee about a month before two men came to the hut, the time being
about midnight: one of them entered the hut and asked whose place it
was, and if there were any strangers there; deponent said he was a
stranger, and the man then went out to where his companion was standing;
the blackboy, who was in the hut, told deponent that the men were
loading their muskets, and shortly afterwards they both entered the hut;
they asked who owned the horses outside and deponent said he did; they
said they must' have two to go a piece of a journey, and they then took
the saddles and bridles out of the hut and put them on the horses,
saying that they would return the horses in two or three days if they
would not report: deponent agreed not to report if they brought them
back when promised; they then went away; deponent identified two of the
horses taken with prisoners, also the saddles and bridles, as those
which had been stolen; on the third day after the robbery deponent went
to Bogie, and there again he fell in with the two bushrangers, Cavanagh
and Craven, who were in the hut; deponent went into the hut, but shortly
afterwards went back to his horse, when Cavanagh followed him and
ordered him to return; the two men then took two guns from the hut, the
property of Mr. Marsden, and when they left they also took two of Mr.
Marsden's horses.

John Brown stated that a few days before Fitzgerald had been stuck up he
was sitting in a room with his wife and child at William Brown's head
station, about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, when five or six armed men
suddenly entered the house; they ordered deponent out and he said he
would go if they promised not to harm his wife and child; the men then
ordered the three of them into the kitchen and shut the door upon them,
posting a sentry at the door, while they ransacked the place; they
gathered together the following articles:- 4 nightgowns, 2 shirts, 2
jackets, 1 silk waistcoat, 1 white waistcoat, 2 pairs of pantaloons, 1
velvet cap, 12 handkerchiefs, 5 pieces diaper, 1 tablecloth, 5 remnants
of nankeen, 1 knife, 5 towels, 1 green cloth, 2 coats, 1 gown,
razorstrop and shaving box, 1 chemise, a bundle of thread, a
looking-glass, a ball mould, a pair of garters and a sword; they then
went to the overseer's hut and burst open the door of his chest, taking
a quantity of ammunition, lead, tobacco, cheese, and some wearing
apparel; deponent identified Moran as one of the men and Cavanagh as
another, the latter having said to him "Don't let anyone leave the place
tonight, or he will be a dead man"; they then took a horse and left;
the property which they took away with them deponent valued at between
300 and 400.

Richard Waits, prisoner per "Marquis of Hastings", and servant to Sir
John Jamieson, deposed that the two men who had been identified by
Fitzgerald came to his hut at Capertee and took away a brace of pistols,
some gunpowder and a quantity of sugar, also a horse from the yard, all
the property of his master.

Dalmahoy Campbell, on oath, states that he was at Capertee in the
beginning of June on his way to Mr. Innes'; he stopped at Sir J.
Jamieson's station between 2 and 3 o'clock in the morning, and while
there some men rushed into the hut; they told him to cover his head and
asked who he was and where he was going; they told deponent and the
people in the hut to deliver up all the ammunition they had; deponent
said he had no ammunition, and one of the men reached over his head and
took down a fowling-piece; they then went to the dray and took 150 lb.
flour, half a canister of gunpowder, saddle and bridle and other things;
some of these things were among the property produced; after they had
taken deponent's gun they went into the next room and asked the men what
sort of a man he was, and when they said he was a good man they gave him
back his fowling-piece; as they were going away one of the men said "I
hope you won't take the horses," and they replied "the horses, we'll
take them if we want them."

Another witness named William Kent identified Cavanagh and Craven as the
men who had stolen the horses and property from Fitzgerald's.

The prisoners were committed on these charges also, and were placed in
the lock-up, but by the aid of friends and sympathisers outside they
managed to make a hole in the wall of their prison and escaped. Patrick
Sullivan and Moran were, however, shortly afterwards recaptured, and
John Sullivan, the bushranger who had escaped when his brother was first
taken, gave himself up. The two former were transmitted to Sydney,
tried, convicted, and hanged at Irishtown in October following, their
bodies remaining suspended during the day. Craven and Cavanagh were
executed two days before on the Western Road, as mentioned in the
general order already given.


This part of the subject should not be closed without reference to the
Mounted Police--the force specially charged with the suppression of
convict outrages, which operated efficiently in the days of which I have
been writing. The force was drawn chiefly from the infantry regiments
serving in Sydney, and was first established in 1825, when Governor
Brisbane held the reins. At the time of its establishment it consisted
of 2 officers and 13 troopers only, and these were chiefly occupied in
the district near Sydney. In 1839 they had swelled to 9 officers, 1
sergeant-major, 156 non-commissioned officers and men, with 136 horses,
20 of the troopers being footmen.

The officers were magistrates, and the body was subject to military law
and discipline, although appointed to serve as police. They were armed
with sabre, carbine, and horse pistols, and were dressed in light
dragoon uniform. The headquarters division consisting of the commandant,
the adjutant, and about 25 men, was stationed in Sydney, and the
officers of divisions at important inland posts, with small parties on
all the main roads. On the whole the troopers carried out their work
intelligently and efficiently. Occasional complaints were made that they
treated roughly settlers who chanced to fall under their displeasure;
but we may excuse men who were hampered in the pursuit of their
difficult calling by the very persons to whom they would naturally look
for assistance, and not wonder if they sometimes "made it warm" for
anyone who seemed to be in sympathy with the convicts they were looking
for. At times they were subjected to great privations, and were exposed
to great danger; but they generally succeeded in running down the
outlaws and bringing them to justice. Theirs was a hard, unthankful
task, performed cheerfully and well.

So frequent had been the escapes and so numerous the raids by
bushrangers in the central and country districts at this time, that
special efforts had to be made to cope with the evil, and the Governor
ordered a general distribution of the troops in the disturbed districts.
Hence the following Government Order was issued from the Colonial
Secretary's Office on March 21st, 1826:-

The Governor has been pleased to direct that the following copy of a
general order, which has been issued to the Troops, shall be published
for the information of the Public at large.

His Excellency requests that the Magistrates and Gentlemen of the
country will use their endeavours to promote its Circulation. It is no
less desirable that the Settlers should be informed of the Means that
are adopted for their Protection than that the Disturbers of the Public
Tranquillity should be apprized that they will be pursued with
unremitted Perseverance.


1st. The Lieutenant-General has been pleased to order the following
Distribution of the Troops, with a view to aid the Civil Power, and the
more effectual putting down the Bushrangers, who, notwithstanding the
recent Examples, have, it appears, recommenced their depredations.

2nd. The Range of Country within the Mountains will form the Parramatta
District; that beyond, on the line of Communication to Wellington
Valley, will be designated the Bathurst District.

3rd. A Field Officer will be stationed at Parramatta and another at
Bathurst, those places being established as the Head Quarters of the
respective Districts. In the first instance the Detachments under the
former will be stationed at Windsor, Emu Plains, Liverpool and
Campbelltown; those under the latter will be posted at Wellington Valley
and Molong Plains, to the north of Bathurst; and from thence to the
Southward and Eastward, at Cox's River, Weatherboard Hut, and
Springwood; such other Parties are to be detached by the Commandants as
circumstances may render necessary.

4th. The Officers employed will immediately put themselves in
Communication with the Magistrate in the neighbourhood of their Posts,
with whom the Lieutenant-General desires they will be pleased to
co-operate to the utmost of their Power. And He further recommends that
they should attach some of the most intelligent of the Natives to their
Parties, as these People may be made extremely useful, if properly
employed, in tracing the Bushrangers and discovering their Haunts. It
will be left to the Discretion of the Officers to Reward the Natives
according to their exertions; for which purposes some slop Clothing will
be put at their Disposal, and they will be at Liberty from Time to Time
to furnish them with such provisions as they may require when employed.

5th. The Commandants will visit their detached Stations occasionally;
the Officers in Charge will be held responsible for the proper Conduct
of the Men under their Orders; and the Soldiers will recollect that the
Service they are now called on to perform is an important one. The
Tranquillity and Prosperity of the Colony will be promoted by their
Attention to their Duty. Their Employment will give Confidence to the
settlers even in the Remote Districts; and the Lieutenant-General trusts
that their Regularity and Good Order will confirm this feeling. Should
they disregard this Warning, and Misbehave, the Commandants will be
furnished with Means, and they are hereby Ordered to punish Offenders on
the Spot.

6th. The Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers in charge of the
Detached Stations will report Weekly, or oftener, as may be necessary,
to the Commandant, who will report, in like manner to the Major of
Brigade, for the information of the Lieutenant-General.

7th. The Commandants will make a point of seeing the General Order, No.
5 (herewith annexed) read to the detachments as directed.

A reward of 10 sterling will be given for the Apprehension of any
Person who shall be convicted of Robbery, or have been guilty of any
Violence; and 20 sterling for all such Persons as shall have been
convicted as Receivers of Stolen Property.

(Signed) H. GILLMAN, Major of Brigade. By His Excellency's Command,


1st. The Lieutenant-General calls the Attention of Officers in Command
of the Penal Settlements and other Detached Stations, to the
Consequences which must result to the Service, from any intimacy being
permitted between the Soldiers and the Prisoners of the Crown; and they
will be pleased to take the necessary steps for putting an immediate
stop to it.

2nd. It is hoped that the Soldiers themselves are alive to the
Distinction which exists, and which it is of Importance should be
preserved between them and the Convicts. They must not indulge in any
Familiarity with them. Such intercourse would be inconsistent with the
proper discharge of their Duty, and highly injurious to the Public

3rd. The Soldiers are not, however, to suppose that the ill-treatment of
a convict would be passed over with impunity. The Lieutenant-General
assures them, that any such Act would be promptly and severely punished.
It would be as unbecoming the character of a British Soldier, as an
indiscriminate association with Men under the Sentence of the Law would
be derogatory to it.

4th. The aforegoing is to be considered a Standing Order, and to be read
monthly to the Corps and Detachments, with the Articles of War.

5th. The Officers in Command of Penal Settlements and Detached Stations
will consider it their especial duty to see it strictly enforced.

(Signed) HENRY GILLMAN, Major of Brigade.


Immediately after this a remarkably significant Government Order was
issued. It read thus:-


Colonial Secretary's Office, March 6th, 1826.

His Excellency the Governor, feeling that the Tranquillity of the
Colony, and the Safety and Preservation of the Lives and Property of the
Inhabitants, imperiously demand that Measures should be promptly adopted
for preventing a repetition of the daring Outrages which have recently
been committed, has directed that, in Addition to the Execution of
William Corbett, who suffered this Day, the awful Sentence of the Law
shall be carried into Effect Tomorrow Morning, at Nine o'clock, on the
Following prisoners who were condemned on Monday, the 27th Ult., viz.:-


The Governor has further directed that the Persons hereinafter
named--viz., Darby Haggerty, Ralf Howe, James Bayley, James Laragy,
William Turner, Richard Johnson, Christopher Henderson, William Higham,
Jacob Parter--who have been convicted as Receivers of the Property
Stolen by the Banditti abovementioned, and who have been sentenced to be
transported, shall, after witnessing the Execution of their Accomplices,
be immediately removed to the Phoenix Hulk, under a Military Escort, and
be forwarded from thence, by the first Opportunity, to Norfolk Island,
there to be confined during the period of the Sentences.

His Excellency has also directed that the Men at the Convict Barracks,
and those who are allowed to sleep out, shall be assembled and attend
the Execution.

The Troops in Garrison will Parade for the Purpose of Preserving Order.

The Governor is willing to hope that the Example, which a due regard to
the Peace and Tranquillity of the colony under his charge has obliged
him to make on this occasion, will put an immediate stop to the lawless
Proceedings which have lately kept the Inhabitants of the Country
District in a state of Anxiety and Alarm.

The inducements to Plunder, which lead to Murder and other Atrocities,
would be much diminished were the Receivers of Stolen Goods prevented
from pursuing their nefarious Traffics. These People are the Root and
Foundation of the Evils which have been experienced, and the General
Safety and Tranquillity of the Colony require that all classes should
heartily unite in exterminating them. The Public Welfare demands the
Exertion of every Honest Man for the Attainment of this Object; and the
Governor pledges himself! to Reward liberally, and in a Manner which may
be most agreeable to the Individual, as far as may be consistent and
practicable, any person who shall be instrumental in bringing a
"Receiver" to Punishment.

His Excellency, in expressing his unaltered Determination to punish,
with the utmost severity of the Law, any person who shall be convicted
as a "Receiver of Stolen Goods", takes this opportunity of warning those
who are so employed, that such of them as shall be convicted will,
without exception, be sent to Norfolk Island, which Settlement has been
allotted for their confinement, and for that of the malefactors who have
forfeited their Lives. And, in order to render the example now made as
effectual and impressive as possible, the Governor declares, in the most
solemn manner, that he will on no account mitigate or remit the sentence
passed upon any Receiver of Stolen Goods.

By His Excellency's Command, ALEXANDER M'LEAY.

It will be seen that the authorities were very determined to put down
the class known as "receivers", whose existence furnished an inducement
to robbery. Years before this strenuous efforts had been made to
suppress them, but without success; and they carried on their nefarious
calling right under the noses of the authorities. Judge Therry in his
"Reminiscences" has something to say on this point. In the earlier days
the principal thoroughfare in Sydney--George-street--was remarkable for
the number of its jewellers' shops, and the learned judge hit upon the
most reasonable solution of the mystery. He says:-

This display of splendour was, after all, but a very natural result of
the convict element in the town. The receivers of stolen plate and
articles of bijouterie in England had chosen Sydney as a safe depot for
the disposal of such articles, as agents for such a purpose might at
that time easily be found there. A lady, the wife of an officer, wore a
valuable gold comb, which was snatched out of her hair on coming out of
the opera one night in London. The thief escaped, and no trace was found
of the missing article in England. Two years afterwards--about 1825--the
lady joined her husband in Sydney. On the first day she walked out she
was attracted by the display of brilliant articles in the shop of a
well-known jeweller of that period. The first article that caught her
eye, prominently displayed, was the identical stolen comb. She
communicated the fact to her husband, and they visited the shop. Terms
were proposed, either that the name of the consignor of the property or
the property itself should be given up. The shopkeeper did not hesitate
a moment. He gave up the comb rather than disclose the name of the party
who sent it to him, probably aware that, on the disclosure of how and
where he obtained it; all the other articles in his shop similarly
obtained might be subjected to a compulsory surrender. The Sydney
confederates return the compliment to their London allies by melting
down stolen silver, and sending it to England. One fellow, however, was
caught from not having had quick recourse to this notable expedient.
Though for the "respectability of the trade", as he alleged, he joined a
portion of the public in offering a reward for the discovery of an
extensive robbery of plate, a sharp constable knew his man too well to
trust him. On searching his premises a plate-chest full of the stolen
property was found concealed under his counter. The benevolent
contributor to the fund for the detection of crime paid a seven years'
visit to Norfolk Island on account of his participation in the plunder.

So flourishing was this business, and so effective a temptation to those
inclined to take that which did not belong to them, that stringent laws
were passed to correct the evil. And there is a law still on the Statute
Book of the colony which provides a heavier penalty for the receiver
than it does for the thief.


The climax of convict bushranging in the Bathurst district was reached
in 1830 by an outbreak which created a great sensation throughout the
whole colony. It was in reality a convict insurrection, and deserves a
chapter to itself.

In September of that year eight malcontents on the farms of Evernden and
Liscombe deserted in a body, and having armed themselves with stolen
guns, pistols and ammunition, traversed the district in all directions,
compelling the convicts to join them, and seizing for the use of these
conscripts all the arms they could reach.

Their first visit was to the farm of Mr. Evernden (then Police
Magistrate of Bathurst), near Wimbledon. Here they intended to "pay out"
the owner for having ordered the leader of the gang a flogging some
months before for a very trivial offence. Fortunately for Evernden,
however, he was away from home at the time; but his convict overseer
confronted the gang and foolishly dared them to shoot him. "Join us,"
said one of them, "or we'll do it", and at once shot him through the
breast, leaving him dying on the floor of the hut.

By intimidation and persuasion quite a large force was collected--one
unofficial statement gives the number as eighty, but I cannot find any
verification of this. All were more or less armed. It is said that some
of the young native-born white residents had at first agreed to join
them, hoping to turn the tables upon the authorities, whose hard and
rigorous rule had made convict life almost unbearable; but these
freeborn youngsters grew timid in the end, and refused to join the

Disaffection and fear also soon broke up their ranks, and the laggards
were allowed to return to their employment and their homes, until
thirteen only were left in the band; but these were all well armed, and
most of them men of desperate character.

When reliable intelligence of this bushranging organization reached
Bathurst a meeting of the inhabitants was convened by the magistrates
and held on 27th September in the Court House. It was resolved to form
immediately a corps of volunteer cavalry, for the protection of the
inhabitants of the town; twelve gentlemen at once enrolled themselves,
the late Mr. W. H. Suttor being appointed commander, on the
recommendation of the commandant of the district, Major Macpherson.

The volunteers lost no time, and at five o'clock the same evening were
ready to march. Just at that hour intelligence was brought into the
settlement that the bushrangers had made their appearance at Campbell's
River, and had robbed Mr. Arkell's station. The little force set out,
and, pushing on at a smart pace, reached the station just before
daylight next morning. By this time the bushrangers were gone, and the
volunteers, hastily partaking of refreshments, pushed on after them. Mr.
Suttor here met with two friendly aborigines, who were persuaded to act
as guides, and tracked the fugitives to a rocky glen on the Abercrombie

It was nearly sunset when the volunteers came in sight of the camp. They
dismounted under cover of the trees, and prepared for instant action. A
small detachment was sent round by Mr. Suttor to make an attack in the
rear, while the main force charged in front; but one of the men sent
round dislodged a stone when climbing a steep bank, and so roused the
bushrangers, who at once sought cover and began a determined fire upon
their assailants. Although they did not anticipate so warm a reception,
the volunteers returned the fire with spirit, and for fully an hour the
firing was kept up on both sides. Mr. Suttor, being the leader, had
several narrow escapes, as the bushrangers sought to put him out of the
way first.

Two of the bushrangers were wounded in this encounter, but scrambled
into a safe position, and were not then secured. The settlers, having
expended nearly all their ammunition, as a last resort made a feigned
charge to secure greater safety in the retreat which they saw was
necessary. The ruse succeeded: a number of the bushrangers ran from
their positions and the volunteers were enabled to retire with
comparative safety, although the leader of the banditti rallied his men
and followed the retreating party for some distance. He named those whom
he wished to have shot, telling his followers not to be flurried, but to
pick their men; but in calling out the names he revealed the fact that
he was mistaken as to the assailants, being under the erroneous
impression that Mr. Evernden was in command. The attacking party soon
regained their horses, which had been left in charge of the two blacks
and a boy taken from the bushrangers, and Mr. Suttor despatched a letter
to Major Macpherson, giving an account of the affair. The result was
that a reinforcement of soldiers stationed at Bathurst was sent forward
under the command of Lieutenant Delaney, several residents of the town
accompanying them.

The skirmish with Mr. Suttor's men had not daunted the banditti, for in
an encounter next day with a party of mounted police under Lieutenant
Brown, who had fortunately arrived upon the scene, the latter had two
men and five horses killed, and his whole force narrowly escaped
destruction. The robbers owed their safety chiefly to the strong
position which they occupied. The leader of the band was distinguished
by a profusion of ribbons which he wore about his head, and this led the
settlers to call the band the "ribbon-boys."

As soon as the intelligence of the insurrection reached Goulburn,
Lieutenant Macalister, with the mounted police under his command, moved
forward in the direction of Bathurst, and a few days after the events
just recorded encountered the bushrangers. A sharp contest ensued, in
which Macalister and several of the men on both sides were wounded,
including the leader of the bushrangers. Macalister was shot in the left
wrist and immediately dropped, when the leader of the bushrangers called
out to his men "That's number one, boys; take 'em steady!" The wounded
lieutenant at once raised his piece, and putting his broken and bleeding
arm under the barrel as a rest fired and struck the leader, calling out
as he did so "That makes number two!" The assailants were, however,
beaten off in the end.

Next day Captain Walpole, with a detachment of the 39th Regiment,
arrived on the scene. He had been despatched from Sydney on the first
intimation of the rising, and had travelled through an untraversed and
almost unknown country, under circumstances which reflected the highest
credit on his corps. Walpole and Macalister at once united their forces,
and the insurgents, seeing that further resistance was hopeless,

They were conducted to Bathurst, and after undergoing a hurried trial by
special commission, were hanged, to the number of ten, on a large
gallows erected in the centre of the town, about fifty yards from where
All Saints' Cathedral now stands, and nearly opposite the present Royal
Hotel in William-street. The timber for the gallows was obtained from a
hill near the Rocks on the Orange Road, and for years afterwards the
hill was known by the name of Gallows Hill. Six of the men were "swung
off" in one batch, falling together, and four in the second. They did
not die without religious attendance, for the Rev. Mr. Kean, of Kelso,
attended to those of them who were Protestants, while good Father
Therry, who had come from Sydney for the purpose, ministered to the
needs of those who professed the Roman Catholic faith. One of them, at
least, did not profit by the ministrations of religion thus granted, for
just before the bolt was drawn he cried boastingly, "My old mother said
I would die like a brave soldier, with my boots on; but I'll make a liar
of her", and kicking off his shoes he was launched into eternity.

This was the first public execution that had taken place in Bathurst,
all capital cases having previously been sent to Sydney for trial. It
was a big start in the hanging line, certainly, for the young "City of
the Plains".

The difficulties attendant upon journalistic enterprise at that time are
well illustrated by the scant and uncertain news of the outbreak
published at head quarters. The "Australian", a small newspaper
published in Sydney, contained the following paragraph in its issue of
October 1st, 1830:- "A strong body of the military was suddenly marched
off from town on Sunday last, in the direction of Bathurst, with orders
to act against the prisoners who are reported to have risen between that
settlement and Wellington Valley, and to be in some force under the
direction of an individual who formerly held a commission in the army.
The reports are various and conflicting. Some represent the Moreton Bay
prisoners as having risen in a body, overcome the guard, and marched
across the road by which a number of Government cattle were lately
driven to Wellington Valley. Other reports state that the insurgents are
confined principally to that part of the country and the vicinity of
Bathurst, where several on both sides are stated to have fallen. We can
as yet arrive at no authentic conclusions on this subject. As usual,
many circumstances trivial in themselves are exaggerated into great
important events. It seems pretty clear, however, that some disturbances
of a more than ordinarily exciting character have taken place. It is
what we have long since foreseen. Severity, as a rule, defeats its own
end. No doubt an ill-organized, undisciplined body of prisoners may be
put down by force of arms; but it is always better to avoid coming to
such extremes. Were the prisoners in iron and road gangs better fed and
better worked, and more judicious incitements held out to them to
reform, much benefit, we are persuaded, would accrue to all parties

The bodies of the ten men were buried in what was then used as the
common burial ground in Bathurst, and was situated on a rise beyond the
western boundary of the town. Many years afterwards the remains of all
the bodies that had been buried there (or all that could be found of
them) were exhumed and removed to another cemetery, increase of
population having necessitated the extension of one of the main streets
beyond the original boundary. The spot now forms the junction of George
and Lambert streets, and busy traffic daily passes over the place which
was once the resting place of the quiet dead.


In order that the reader may understand the powers given to those
"dressed in a little brief authority", or those who chose to assume
it--whether convict constable or free loafer desirous of showing his
superiority over a "new chum" in any district then occupied--I subjoin a
copy of the "Bushrangers Act", which was passed by the Governor and the
Legislative Council in 1830. It runs as follows:-

1. Whereas crimes of robbery and housebreaking have increased to an
alarming degree, and it is becoming necessary to restrain the same, as
much as possible by temporary provisions, suited to the emergency of the
occasion. Be it therefore enacted that it shall be lawful for any person
whatsoever, having reasonable cause to suspect and believe any other
person to be a transported felon, unlawfully at large, immediately
himself or with the assistance of other persons, and without a warrant
for such purpose, to apprehend, or cause to be apprehended, every such
suspected person, and to take him, or cause to be taken, before any
Justice of the Peace for the colony for examination as hereinafter

2. Every suspected person taken before a Justice of the Peace shall be
obliged to prove, to the reasonable satisfaction of such justice that he
is not a felon under sentence of transportation, and in default of such
proof such justices may cause such person to be detained in safe custody
until he can be proved whether he is a transported felon or free; and in
every such case the proof of being free shall be upon the person
alleging himself to be free. Provided always that every Justice of the
Peace may at his discretion, cause every such suspected person to be
securely removed to Sydney to be there examined, and dealt with in like
manner as aforesaid.

3. And be it therefore enacted that every person whatsoever who shall be
found on the roads or in other parts of the colony, with firearms or
other instruments of a violent nature in his possession, under
circumstances affording reasonable ground for suspecting that such
person may be or intend to be a robber, every such suspected person
shall be liable to be apprehended and taken before a Justice of the
Peace in like manner and be dealt with in all respects as hereinbefore
provided; and in every such case the proof that such firearms or other
instruments of a violent nature were not intended for an illegal purpose
shall be upon the person in whose possession the same shall be found.

4. And be it therefore enacted that it shall be lawful for any person on
having reasonable cause for suspicion and believing that any other
person may have any firearms or other instrument of a deadly nature
concealed about his person to search or cause to be searched every such
suspicious person; and in case of discovering any such firearm or
instruments of a deadly nature apprehend or cause to be apprehended any
such person and take before any Justice of the Peace to be dealt
with . . . . .

5. And be it further enacted that it shall be lawful for any Justice of
the Peace having credible information that any robbers or housebreakers
are harboured in the county or district to grant a general search
warrant to any one or more constables to search any dwelling house or
tenement or other place within or reputed to be within such county or
district; and it shall be lawful for such constable in virtue of such
general warrant to break, enter and search, by day or by night, any
dwelling place, tenement or other place, and to apprehend every person
whom such constable shall have reasonable cause for suspecting and
believing to be a robber or housebreaker, and to seize and secure all
firearms or other arms or instruments of a violent nature, and all goods
and chattels which such constable shall have reasonable grounds for
suspecting or believing to be stolen, and also to apprehend all persons
found in or about any such dwelling house, etc.; and all whom such
constable shall have reasonable grounds for suspecting or believing to
harbour or conceal any such robber or housebreaker; and all persons,
arms, chattels and goods so found, seized and apprehended shall by such
constable be taken before a Justice of the Peace for examination, and to
be further dealt with according to law.

6. And whereas it is expected that robbers and housebreakers shall be
tried and punished as speedily as may be consistent with the ends of
justice, be it therefore enacted that all persons who shall be fully
committed for the crime of robbing or of entering and plundering any
dwelling house, with arms and violence, shall be brought to trial as
speedily as possible, and being lawfully convicted and sentenced to
suffer death, shall be executed according to law on the day next but two
after sentence has been passed; unless the same shall happen to be
Sunday, and in that case, on the Monday following; such sentence shall
be passed immediately after the conviction of such offender, unless the
Court or jury shall see reasonable cause for postponing the same.

7. And be it further enacted that every person who shall be found with
firearms or other instruments of a violent nature in his possession, and
shall not prove to the satisfaction of such Justice of the Peace that
the same was or were not intended to be illegally used, still be guilty
of a high misdemeanour, and being lawfully convicted thereof, shall be
liable at the discretion of the Court to be imprisoned for any term not
exceeding 3 years.

This Act was renewed from time to time, and frequent proclamations were
issued offering gratuities to convicts who should assist in apprehending
bushrangers. The authorities had good and sufficient reason to know that
rogues would, without scruple, "sell" their fellows for the sake of
personal gain.


It will be readily understood that the free portion of the population
who lived in the invaded districts were greatly harassed by the
marauders, whether they remained in their own homes or went on journeys.
But they were not the only persons to suffer, for indirectly all
travellers were made to share in the unrest and deprivations consequent
upon the outrages of the convict freebooters; and their sufferings in
some cases were caused by the overzeal of the authorities. On this point
I will let a gentleman speak who had a large acquaintance with colonial
life in those days. Mr. Harris, author of that remarkable book (now very
difficult to obtain) "Settlers and Convicts", narrates some of the
troubles through which he and other free immigrants had to pass in those
unsettled times. He says:--

About three miles beyond Windsor, towards Sydney, we came to a group of
constables, all armed and gathered round a young man, who evidently, by
his English dress, had not been long in the colony. This of course they
could see as well as I could, and as there was not the slightest
indication in any other point of his being a bushranger, there was in
fairness and common sense no ground for supposing him anything else than
a free emigrant. They, however, insisted that, as he had "no
protection", they would take him into custody to be sent to Hyde Park
Barracks, Sydney, the head office "for identification". It was in vain
that he remonstrated; their resolution remained unshaken. The chief
constable of the Windsor bench was at the head of the party, and as he
knew me well by often seeing me at Mr.------'s, he asked me no
questions; otherwise I suppose I should have shared the same fate. They
marched the poor fellow to Parramatta gaol that night, and next morning
as my fellow-traveller and myself walked leisurely on between Parramatta
and Sydney, one of the constables of the former town overtook us, having
him in charge for lodgment at the Sydney police-office. As we walked on
together I had a long conversation with him, and with my little
discrimination in such matters, was soon quite sure that his tale was a
true one. He had come out to the colony to an old friend of the family
who had emigrated some years before to hold a respectable public
situation, but on arrival found him to be dead. After trying to get
employment till everything was gone but the clothing he stood in, he had
wandered on up the road toward the interior, more from the impulse of
hope than of any precise expectation, and had his journey cut short in
the way described.

I felt curious to know how the magistrates would deal with the case, for
to me it seemed a most flagrant outrage, whilst the constables
maintained it was quite legal, and in the common course of things. I had
heard of such things before, but did not quite credit them. I also felt
interested in the poor fellow, for I recollected how my own heart had
often sunk on my first arrival, when I tried day after day to get a job
without succeeding. The magistrate, Captain Rossi, long the chief
superintendent of the Sydney police, sent him to the prisoners'
barracks, where the documents descriptive o' all individual transports
are kept, but he was returned from thence as unknown. He was next sent
to where he himself said he was known in town, and where it seemed to me
he might have been better sent first; from thence he was brought back by
a constable, with the merchant's certificate that he had come out a free
emigrant to the colony a few months previously, in a ship consigned to
his house. Captain Rossi then informed him that he was discharged. The
young man asked what must he do if he was again taken into custody.
Captain Rossi said he should then know him again himself, and would at
once liberate him. The young man said this was not what he meant;
suppose he were arrested again, many miles from Sydney, what was he to
do? Could not Captain Rossi give him a "pass" to protect him as he knew
him to be free? Captain Rossi said no, that was beyond his province; he
would recommend the young man to apply to the Colonial Secretary. The
poor fellow was about to reply, when a couple of constables had him
turned round, marched out, and set at liberty at the courthouse door,
before one could count half-a-dozen. I confess I was puzzled to credit
the honesty of referring a man in immediate necessity of such an urgent
kind to an official whose aid it would certainly require several weeks
to obtain, especially as the poor fellow had no home for communications
to be addressed to; and I was equally puzzled to detect the difference
between the manner in which this son of misfortune had been treated
under the magistrate's eye with his tacit consent, and a common assault,
that it was the magistrate's duty to take cognizance of judicially.

After this affair I began to think myself very fortunate in never yet
having met with the same treatment; which was no doubt owing partly to
accident, and partly to my having always gone well dressed. Previously
to this I had seen portions of such cases, but this was the first I had
had an opportunity of observing throughout. As I am very careful on so
serious a point to state only what I am positive of, I shall pass over
plenty more where again I merely saw portions of the affair, to go on to
such as I can speak positively to throughout.

The next was in my journey, hereafter detailed, up the New Country. In
passing through Stone-quarry I went into a hut, which turned out to be a
constable's, to rest. A few minutes afterwards a middle-aged man stopped
at the door, and calling the constable out, inquired if he knew the man
who had just passed. The constable replied very deferentially that he
did not; the horseman I afterwards found was one of the magistrates of
the New Country travelling to Sydney. After designating the poor
constable by several rather singular names, Mr. ordered him to "be off
after the fellow and bring him back." Without any further directions as
to what was to be done with the man, Mr. pulled his horse's head round
and cantered off towards Sydney. The man was accordingly brought back
and lodged in gaol, where, as it was Saturday, and the court of the
district over for the day, he would certainly have to remain until
Monday. Some years afterwards I happened to meet this old constable in a
distant part of the colony, and after calling to mind with some
difficulty where I had known him before, I asked him what the man had
turned out to be; he said, a free emigrant. He had been brought before
the Stone-quarry Bench on the Monday, and after having been detained
several days for the reply of a gentleman in Campbelltown whom he
referred to as knowing him and able to recognise him by his handwriting
he was discharged, but just as in the other case I have related, without
anything to protect him against the repetition of a similar outrage by
some other constable the very next day.

I come to a much later period of my residence in the colony for a case:
not that no intermediate ones present themselves, but to show that only
so lately as within the last four or five years* matters were becoming
much worse on this point, instead of better, as one would suppose should
be the case as the free population came to outnumber in immense
proportion the bond. In travelling through the upper part of the Hunter
I stopped a few days at one of the principal farms. During dinner the
first day, the farm-constable arrested a traveller on suspicion of being
a bushranger, and put him in confinement in a private lock-up, built on
the farm. The man was kept there several days before any magistrate sat
at the adjacent court to hear cases; and it then turned out that the man
had worked for that gentleman some years before, and who recognised him
and discharged him. The poor fellow said he had come free to the colony
twelve or thirteen years before, and was generally arrested twice every
year under the Bushranging Act. He had made application in one quarter
and another for some protective document, till he was quite tired and
had quite given it up. He had now made up his mind to it, and it did not
affect him as it did at first. He slept the time away as well as he
could, and was all the readier for work when he got out.

[* This was written in 1846.]

A native had once told me he had some time before passed seven weeks out
of three months marching in handcuffs under the Bushranging Act. Having
been born in the colony he had no protective document whatever. Some
busy farm constable arrested him on suspicion of being a bushranger, at
one of the farthest stations at Hunter's River, where he was looking for
work. After being taken in handcuffs to Sydney, full 250 miles, and
discharged, he went to the Murrumbidgee on the same errand, where he was
again taken into custody by a soldier and forwarded in handcuffs to
headquarters under the same law.

As to the practice of the mounted police (dragoons employed on the roads
under the magistracy) of handcuffing men to their stirrup-iron and so
making them march or rather run, it was at one time very common. I have
several times heard it stated that it was at last discontinued through a
trooper leaving his prisoner thus confined at a public-house door, while
he went in to drink, and the horse, startled by something, dashed off
and killed the man.

Whole shoals of men, both emigrant and freed, are daily passing to and
fro from one police office to another "for identification." . . . . .
The farm constables are prisoners of the Crown, actually serving their
sentence, who have been authorised to act ostensibly for the purpose of
convict restraint on the farm. But no one questions their right to
arrest under the Bushranging Act; and now that the settlers have
commenced building private lockups on their own farms this really
becomes a very serious matter. . . . Free men do not like being
continually called upon by prisoner constables to "show their freedom"
and emigrants very often have nothing to show, while at the same time
their bare word will not go for a straw; and thus, after going a couple
of hundred miles up the country for work, they may be marched back in
handcuffs, and eventually turned adrift in Sydney without a penny in
their pockets. At the same time, if it has been regularly done under
"The Bushranging Act", there is no redress.

One of the worst points of the system still remains to be told:
diminution of sentence is held out to prisoners as an incentive to the
capture of bushrangers. Thus there is a direct premium to the convict
farm constable to arrest all individuals he can affix any suspicion to
by the most active ingenuity; for it will be hard if out of ten or a
dozen cards there does not turn up one trump. Hence some of these
fellows' entire occupation is going about peering after every labouring
man they can get a sight of, and demanding his name, business and pass;
in short, putting him through as rigid and often as lengthened an
examination as would a justice of the peace if he were charged with
theft. And as they often do this, whether by Government authority or not
I cannot say, on some unfrequented bush road, with a horse pistol in
hand, there is nothing that can be done but putting up with it.




Judge Therry in his "Reminiscences" gives the following interesting
chapter on Bushranging in the early days:-

For several years after my arrival in the colony the performance of
circuit duty was a service of no small danger. It was positively
perilous to venture a few miles from Sydney, in consequence of the
daring of the bushrangers. It fell to my lot to have once passed through
the exciting ordeal of an interview with them on the Bathurst Mountain
in 1834.

At a lonely spot, on my way to the Bathurst circuit, about 10 o'clock in
the morning I was hailed by two men, partially hidden behind a tree,
their guns pointed at and covering the heads of myself and servant, with
the cry of "Stop, or I'll send the contents of this through you!" We
were at once reduced to a state of terrified submission, and did as we
were bid. A few yards further on, and upon the opposite side of the road
was posted a third bushranger, with instructions (as I afterwards
learned) to fire upon us if we had hesitated in yielding instant
obedience. On alighting from the carriage I put my hands instinctively
into my pockets, the hope suggesting itself at the instant that by
giving my purse I might perhaps save my life. The captain of the gang,
however, a convict for life, named Russell, suspecting that I had put my
hands into my pockets to search there for pistols, desired me at once to
take them out, or he would shoot me on the spot. No fugleman ever
performed a motion more quickly than I disengaged my hands, as directed,
from my pockets, which were then rifled by Russell. This varlet, who led
the gang (they were a party of three bushrangers, each armed with a
double-barrelled gun and a brace of pistols in their belts) consoled me
by telling me that I need not be apprehensive for my life, and that as
to the little they took I would not miss it.

In the midst of this very alarming adventure a somewhat ludicrous
incident occurred. "The captain", as the others called Russell, having
taken my money, my watch and chain, espied a watch and chain on my
servant. He then asked me if the man, whom he ordered to stand at the
horses' heads while he was engaged in robbing me, was a free man or a
prisoner--that is, an emigrant or a convict. With perhaps imprudent
truth, I replied he was a free man. "Then," said the ruffian to him,
"give me that watch." If I had said that he was a convict that
"fellow-feeling that makes us wondrous kind" would have induced him to
spare the poor fellow's watch; but, finding he was not of the convict
clique, he was obliged to surrender it. With great coolness and audacity
the bushranger then asked my servant if the watch was one of horizontal
or lever movement? My servant, probably not knowing the difference,
guessed at which it was, and said "Horizontal, sir." The bushranger
thereupon deliberately opened the watch and examined the works, and said
"What a d---- fool you take me for; why, this is a lever, man!" Putting
his hand to his hat with a low bow, as if some favour were conferred
upon him, my servant replied, "Excuse my ignorance, sir, I know no
better." This explanation was deemed sufficiently apologetic, and we
were ordered to stand aside.

Another traveller came in view, who shared a similar fate. The treatment
of this traveller showed of what little avail it is to carry arms as a
means of defence. On such occasions the bushranger covers your head from
the roadside with his piece, before you have time to use firearms,
though you may carry them. Mr. Beaumont, of Richmond, was the gentleman
who succeeded me as the next bird to be plucked and preyed upon. After
taking the money and watches worn by himself and his wife--a lady just
arrived from England--a brace of pocket-pistols Mr. Beaumont had in his
side-pocket, and a gun strapped to the dashboard of his phaeton, they,
too, were told to stand aside. A third traveller came the same way,
carrying a gun strapped like Mr. Beaumont. Russell quietly unstrapped
both guns and told him and Mr. Beaumont they were "a pair of fools for
carrying guns in places where they ought to know they could not use
them." On examination of the guns finding the last traveller's gun unfit
for his purpose, Russell dashed it against the trunk of a tree with such
violence as to separate the stock from the barrel, and he then flung the
fragments on the roadside. He kept, however, Mr. Beaumont's--a handsome
fowling-piece--which that gentleman did not carry for attack or defence.
He was taking it to his station to amuse himself with shooting up the

[* Perhaps the judge did not know that _black_-birds were good game, and
plentiful, in the interior at that time.]

To other articles of plunder was added a box of percussion-caps, which
the rascals found in Mr. Beaumont's pocket. We had still a further
ordeal to pass through, which is termed "bailing-up." This sort of
ordeal consisted in our being grouped together on the roadside, whilst
one of the three bushrangers was placed as a sentinel over us, with
instructions from the captain to shoot the first man who stirred without

Having been thus detained for about half-an-hour, and robbed of
everything it was worth a bushranger's while to take, the welcome
command was given to us to "move on". These fellows were afterwards
apprehended for another and still more serious robbery. They were
transported to Norfolk Island, where I understood Russell became leader
of the choir in the little church on the island. His fine voice, no
doubt, captivated the chaplain and constituted a "case of special
circumstances", and exempted him from hard labor.

Afterwards I ascertained that the three bushrangers had slept in the
outbarn of the mountain hotel where I had stopped on the previous night.
The bushrangers were up and stirring before me in the morning. I
ascertained, moreover, that the landlord was quite aware of their being
in this barn, but gave me no warning to beware or swerve from the road I
had to travel over. I could not reasonably find fault with him, for
these bushrangers on visiting the mountain hostelry gave the proprietor
plainly to understand that, if he gave the slightest hint of their
having been there, they would visit him at night, set his house on fire,
and destroy him, his house, and its inmates, and they were scoundrels
who (if the occasion required it) would have executed their threat.
These mountain inns were usually about twenty miles apart, without a
single habitation of any kind intervening. It would be, perhaps, taxing
a man's means of information too severely to expect a forewarning of
danger, when one feels that it could only be given at the peril of the
informant and his family.


Colonel Mundy, in his excellent work "Our Antipodes", narrates the
following incident which was related to him by a gentleman well
acquainted with the chief actor. It was a remarkable case of capture of
a large band of armed convicts by an officer's party of the mounted
police. He says:-

This gallant officer having, to the surprise of the people and garrison
of the town of ------, marched one day, as prisoners to the gaol, a body
of bushrangers three or four times the strength of his own force, was
asked by his admiring comrades how he had contrived this sweeping
capture with such long odds against him. The readers of Joe Miller will
recollect the Hibernian soldier who boasted, according to that veracious
annalist, that he had made prisoners of a whole section of the enemy,
single handed, by surrounding them. Mr.------, not being an Irishman,
did no such impossible thing. Stealing cautiously through the bush, with
his little party of four or five men, he espied the banditti, in number
about sixteen, busily cooking and eating in a hollow, some thirty yards
below where he stood--their arms piled a few paces distant.

Leaving the men above with orders how to act, and creeping down the
bank, he suddenly jumped into the midst of the robbers, shouting out,
"Yield in the King's name, ye bog-trotting villains!" Then, looking up
towards his party, "Send down," cried he, "two file to secure the arms;
stand fast the remainder, and shoot the first man that moves." About
twenty stand of arms were thus taken possession of, handcuffs were
applied as far as they would go, and, incredible as it may appear, the
disarmed banditti, with their teeth drawn, were safely conducted by
their captain to a neighbouring township.

Here is another extract from Mundy:-

While on a visit at ------, the Messrs.------, who are natives of the
colony, informed me that in their numerous journeys through the bush,
over a period of thirty or forty years, they had never but once fallen
in with bushrangers. It occurred as follows: the two brothers, with an
old gentleman, a friend of theirs, were riding together unarmed, but
accompanied by some dogs, when the elder brother saw two men, one
carrying a musket the other a bundle, dive into the bush on the
roadside. He told his companions, but they thought he was mistaken.
However, on reaching the spot, he threw the dog into the covert, and
they soon "unkennelled the varmint." The old gentleman, who, it appears,
was of choleric temper, called upon them to yield, at the same time
pouring upon them a torrent of abusive epithets, and closing upon them
with his horse. "Stand back, and keep a civil tongue in your head, or
I'll blow out your brains!" exclaimed the man with the musket; "I don't
want to hurt you if you let me alone, but I'll have some of your lives
if you meddle with me!" Mr.------ then addressed them mildly, but
firmly, advising them to surrender, as the gentlemen were determined to
capture them. He pointed to two stockkeepers who were near at hand to
assist, if necessary, and reminded the musketeer that his shot could
only kill one of their party, and that murder would make his case worse.

"Have you any firearms about you," demanded the sturdy footpad; "if you
have not, I can't and won't surrender. I'm an old soldier; fought
through the Peninsula, and I'm d----d if I strike to an inferior force!"
Mr.------ replied that they had no firearms, but could get them in a
few minutes. "Produce them, and I will give in," was the rejoinder;
"that will be an honorable capitulation."

Meanwhile the man with the bundle had been secured and placed in charge
of a shepherd who came up, and a mounted stockman rode off for the
stipulated firearms, the old soldier-robber remaining doggedly at bay.
Unfortunately, during this interval, the peppery old gentleman
recommenced his vituperation, upon which the other, swearing a terrible
oath, cocked his piece, and pointed it at his head, when Mr.------
spurred his horse upon the robber and threw him to the ground. He
recovered himself actively, however, placed his back against a tree, and
coming down to the "Prepare for cavalry", showed once more an
impracticable front; then suddenly rising, he was in the act of falling
back into the woods to escape, when the accession of force necessary to
dignify the act of laying down his arms arriving, this stickler for the
honor of the army permitted himself to be made a prisoner of war without
further resistance.

Before I pass on to deal with the later-day bushrangers--who for the
most part were native-born Australians--I will give just two or three
more cases, which occurred in parts of the country far removed from each
other, in which "old stagers"--men who had borne the convict's chain and
were of the class to which reference has previously been chiefly
made--were the principal actors.


It was early in January, 1859, while the first gold fever was still
raging in Victoria, that a man named Cornelius Green, a large
gold-buyer, became the victim of as foul and cold-blooded a murder as
was ever committed, the perpetrators being two monsters whose lust for
gold had evidently destroyed the last spark of manhood within their
breasts. The names of these monsters were Chamberlain and Armstrong, and
although I have been unable to discover any previous record of crime
against them, the manner in which they set about this deed of blood
indicates very clearly that it was not their first acquaintance with
deeds of violence.

Green had been at a digging township on Livingstone Creek, in Gippsland,
and having collected about 800 ounces of gold, arranged to proceed to
Melbourne with his treasure under the escort of a mounted constable, a
lady friend of Green's, Miss Mutter, also making one of the party. The
party started in the afternoon intending to make a short journey as far
as a roadside inn, kept by a man named Burns, before nightfall. This
part of the journey they accomplished in safety, but just before
arriving at their halting place they passed three men, one of whom was
known by Mutter as a journeyman butcher named Chamberlain. Next morning,
having breakfasted, the party resumed their journey, a Mr. Dickens, a
storekeeper of Swift's Creek, having joined them, as the road they were
travelling passed near his store, which was situated about two miles
from the inn. On arriving at this place Mr. Green determined upon
visiting the store for the purpose of purchasing more gold, and when
they reached the turning the party headed for the store, to reach which
they had to cross along what was known as the Tongee Racecourse, a fine
flat piece of country, but heavily timbered. As the road was not
sufficiently wide for the party to ride together they proceeded in the
following order:- Mr. Green in advance, leading the pack horse with the
gold strapped upon his back; Miss Mutter, upon the same line, upon his
left; constable Green a few yards behind, with Dickens upon his right,
also leading a pack horse. They had covered about half a mile of the
distance when the constable saw an armed man dressed in short trousers
and white shirt, with a white turban round his head, suddenly step out
from behind a tree, distant about 16 feet from the road, and without
uttering a word raised his gun to his shoulder and deliberately fire at
Mr. Green. The unfortunate gentleman received the full force of the shot
in his side and at once fell against Miss Mutter, whose horse, startled
by the report and the falling of Green, immediately bolted in the bush.
Almost simultaneously the constable was fired at from another quarter,
and received ugly wounds in both arms; and Dickens also was shot with
slugs in the back; it was supposed from the fire of a third party,
although from what transpired subsequently, it appeared that only two
men were engaged in the outrage. Dickens' horse and the constable's both
bolted into the bush with them, having, no doubt, been struck with some
of the shot, but the latter had not got beyond range before he saw one
of the men again deliberately take aim at him and fire, although the
second shot did not, fortunately, take effect. The horse was a
mettlesome animal, and, gaining the mastery over the wounded constable,
made for the Tambo River, into which it threw its rider, although the
constable subsequently managed to remount and ride towards the township
for assistance. After proceeding a short distance along the road, he met
the mailman, who had left Livingstone Creek that morning with the
down-country mails. The constable related to him the circumstance of the
"sticking-up", and inquired from him how far he was from Swift's Creek,
and the direction. In answer to his enquiries, the mailman told him he
did not know, as he was nearly an entire stranger in these parts, this
being his first trip, from the mail contract having changed hands.
However, he stated they were fully two miles from Burns', to which place
he advised the constable to proceed with all haste, himself pursuing the
mail journey, although he took the precaution of first planting his
money at the root of a convenient gum tree.

Miss Mutter's horse, after bolting into the bush for about 200 yards,
managed to relieve itself of its rider by throwing her, although she was
not hurt in the fall. Naturally looking back to the spot where Mr. Green
had fallen, she became witness to a horrible scene. Poor Green was lying
on his back, with his hands uplifted, apparently supplicating the two
wretches who stood over him; but his prayers were of no avail, for
another shot rang out upon the air and the unfortunate victim sank into
quietude. Yet even then the robbers' thirst for blood was not appeased,
and as Miss Mutter turned to run from the spot, she saw one of them
hacking at the prostrate form with a tomahawk. Almost dazed with the
horrific sight which had met her gaze. Miss Mutter ran blindly on
through the bush, and fortunately fell in with Dickens, who also had
been thrown, and was making his way in the direction of his home as fast
as his wounds would allow him. They then had a distance of about a mile
and a half to traverse before reaching the store, and together they ran
until they reached the road, upon which they found Mr. Green's two
horses, they having evidently got oft before the robbers had finished
their murderous work. They drove the horses before them to the store,
and, to their surprise, discovered that the valise containing the gold,
cheques and papers, was still on the saddle. These, of course, were at
once secured, and deposited in a place of safety.

In due course the constable arrived at Burns' Inn, and told the landlord
his story. A pack rider was at once despatched to the police camp at
Livingstone Creek with the news, and before nightfall he returned,
accompanied by Inspector Hill, the whole of the police force there
stationed, and a number of the townspeople, who had volunteered to join
in the hunt for the murderers. Reaching the scene of the tragedy, they
found Mr. Green's dead body, horribly mutilated, his head riddled with
slugs, the nose gashed off from below the arch of the eyebrow, and one
of his hands nearly severed from the arm by a tomahawk cut, while there
was another terrible gash on the left temple. Every valuable he had
about his person had been taken, and it is possible the robbers sought
to gratify their wild passion at the loss of the horse with the gold by
putting him to death as they did.

Near the spot where the body was lying, it was found that the
bushrangers had made a sort of ambush, choosing two gum trees on a line
with each other, and filling up the intervening space with boughs, so
that they were completely hidden from the view of the unsuspecting party
approaching. On search being made, two saddle-straps and some pieces of
cartridge paper were found. The straps were at once identified by Mr.
Day, storekeeper and publican, who was of the party, as having been sold
by him to Armstrong, a few days before, he and Chamberlain having lodged
at Day's house. The murdered man had also been stopping at Day's, and
here it was, doubtless, that Armstrong and Chamberlain obtained
knowledge of his being possessed of the large parcel of gold. The two
men had left the house early on the morning of the murder and had not

Poor Green's body was conveyed to Tongee and there buried in the
presence of all the townspeople, the funeral service being read by a
layman, as there was no clergyman available. No inquest was held, as the
solitary magistrate located on the field was at the time away on leave.

The search for the bushrangers was continued with zeal by Inspector Hill
and his men, but for some time it was unsuccessful. From the scene of
the murder they traced them to a locality forty miles distant, where
they had stolen fresh horses, leaving their jaded animals behind them.
The chase was a long and severe one, but at last the murderers were
caught, and I cannot do better than allow one of the then residents of
Livingstone Creek tell the story of the pursuit and capture, as he told
it when writing to a friend in Melbourne on the 1st January, 1859. He

Inspector Hill, mounted troopers Reid and White accompanied by Messrs.
M'Allister, Sheean, and Davies, left for Mount Gibbo, the police going
by way of McFarland and Pender's stations, at Omeo, the others keeping
the direct route, but again meeting at Murphy's Water Holes, distant six
miles from the place where they parted. They then halted at Green's
stores on the Gibbo Creek, had breakfast, and proceeded immediately
after to Toke's store, three miles further on, where they ascertained
that Chamberlain and Armstrong had arrived early on Sunday, Armstrong
paying a visit to Toke's store. Toke was absent at the Livingstone at
the time, but his storeman acquainted him on his return with regard to
their visitors, and pointed out their encampment. Toke paid them a
visit, and after apparently sympathizing with them, succeeded in gaining
their confidence, and the two then related the whole narrative of
Green's murder, and also that they had intended to murder Dickens, as he
knew them, but the pack horse, which was carrying the gold, having got
off, and while they were looking for it Dickens escaped.

While at Toke's, Chamberlain wrote a letter to Paynter the butcher, on
the township, to be delivered by Toke, who, however, placed it in the
hands of the police, at the same time telling the whole conversation he
had with Chamberlain and Armstrong, and so freely as, perhaps, may
entitle him to the 300 reward offered by Mr. Day. Early on the Tuesday
morning following. Chamberlain and Armstrong removed three miles further
up, at Wheeler's Crossing, in order to steal two more horses, in which
they were unsuccessful. They had left two hours before their pursuers
arrived and their departure was delayed as long as possible by Toke, who
furnished their supplies, taking a very long time to supply them. They
paid him with a horse and bullock receipts. The party of pursuers which
arrived at the Livingstone was joined by Toke and a black named Tommy.
They left at half-past one, crossed the Gibbo, and camped at Wheeler's
crossing for the night, after riding 70 miles that day. They kindled no
fire, and supped on bread, sardines, and water from the creek. After
having spent a cold, wet, miserable night, they started at day break,
and after riding four miles, came up to a diggers' encampment, and were
told by one of the diggers, who had been at Wheeler's Station the
previous evening, that he had seen the tracks of two horses, which had
gone into the scrub. They then rode in pursuit, and after an hour and a
half, reached the place where the two men had been encamped. The men
were, however, gone, but their fire was still burning, and the tracks of
the horses were plainly discernible. One of the party showed them a near
cut, saving three miles, which they immediately took, and within a
quarter of a mile of the main track, Mr. Sheean saw Chamberlain in
advance of Armstrong, who, seeing themselves observed, wheeled their
horses round, and made for the banks of the creek. In doing this,
Armstrong's horse was bogged, and he thrown from his saddle. Both then
left their horses and swags, taking a gun and revolver with them. All
now joined in the pursuit except Davies, who stuck by the horses, as
they had been stolen from him. After going about three-quarters of a
mile up the range, Tommy on their track like a bloodhound, after pausing
for a moment, looked up and spied them in a tree. M'Allister, who was
with him, then cooey'd, and was at once joined by the rest of the party.
Inspector Hill immediately ordered them down, and said the charge
against them was horse-stealing. They never attempted to fire. The
capture took place on Wednesday morning, about eight o'clock. They then
returned by the same route, and when it was known in the township on
Thursday night, that the murderers had been captured, everyone was
overjoyed. They were brought in on Friday, when fully two-thirds of the
population turned out, and cheered the police as they passed through.
Armstrong was the first to jump from his horse and rush into the
lock-up. Chamberlain seemed very indifferent, and even began to chaff
the crowd. So confident were they that they would not be taken, that
Chamberlain wrote a letter to Paynter to this effect: "That he felt sure
the snaffle men (police) would not catch him this time yet. He would
return some fine moonlight night, in about six months, and also that the
articles which Paynter had planted for them amongst the rocks, they
could not find." Paynter was also to school a young man called Sydney
Penny, and should they get clear off, to be sure and maintain that the
last place at which he saw them was the Water Holes looking for horses.

Paynter and Sydney Penny are both in the hands of the police. The former
is chained in the stable, and the latter, being the first occupant, is
chained in a room in the new quarters. The other two are in the lock-up.

I am, yours respectfully, &c.,

In July of the same year Armstrong and Chamberlain were tried in
Melbourne for the murder, and being convicted on the clearest evidence
were publicly executed.


As a rule the members of gangs were true to each other, one member not
infrequently risking his own safety rather than desert his mates when
hard pressed by their common enemy, the police. But there was one
instance of horrific treachery in the days when convictism cursed the
land, before horses were available for general use, and when gold
escorts were things unknown. It was in the year 1837, and occurred on
the overland route between Melbourne and Adelaide. Settlement was only
beginning in the Port Phillip district--then a province of New South
Wales--and convict escapees from the Sydney side or Van Diemen's Land
were more numerous than was desired by the early settlers, who
experienced some remarkably rough times from these reckless marauders.
Early in the year named a company of nine convicts, mostly "lifers",
escaped from the neighbourhood of Yass, and a man named Dignum and two
other runaways "took the bush." Subsequently the three were joined by a
mere youth named Comerford, who is described as fair and tall, having a
most prepossessing cast of countenance, and by five other convicts, who
absconded from the service of the masters to whom they had been
assigned. The gang at its full strength numbered nine, with Dignum as
leader and Comerford as first-lieutenant.

After committing many crimes in the neighbourhood of Melbourne, and
creating a widespread feeling of alarm among the settlers, they
determined to quit that territory and cross the continent to some sea
port, in the hope, doubtless, of making a clean escape from the country.
They appeared to have started on their journey without any definite idea
where it was to end, but when fairly on the march they resolved to make
for South Australia and lose themselves among the free immigrant
population of the colony. They had reached a spot near Mount Alexander
when the discovery was made that provisions were running short; there
were no flocks or game in the locality, and they began to dispute among
themselves as to the best course to follow. The distrust and hatred thus
generated speedily found expression in a deed of blood.

The leader was determined to be leader still, and if his followers did
not choose to obey his behests he would get rid of them. The band
travelled on foot; after the day's march they formed a camp of boughs,
lit a huge fire in the centre, and, wrapping themselves in their
blankets, lay in a circle with their feet to the fire, their loaded guns
being placed within easy reach in case of a surprise.

The night had come, the camp had been fixed, and each man had coiled
himself in his blanket, although sleep was far from the thoughts of the
leader. Dignum was the last to turn in, and before he lay down he
managed to place three of the guns and an axe within easy reach. His
intention was to rise when his companions were asleep, and, by axe or
gunshot, to destroy the whole gang, then making off with the provisions
and escaping alone.

But young Comerford was uneasy, and could not rest, although the others
slept the sleep of the weary. He may have been suspicious, or himself
have contemplated doing what Dignum had decided to do. The latter had
risen to carry into execution his devilish scheme, when Comerford also
rose, and a short consultation between them resulted in an agreement to
join hands in the wholesale massacre. Selecting their posts on each side
of the sleeping circle, the villainous couple set about their ghastly
work. Four of the seven sleepers, smitten swiftly and with fatal
precision, never moved. The three others, desperately wounded, staggered
to their feet, but were quickly despatched; and the two murderers
grinned with delight at the completeness of the slaughter. The bodies
were thrown upon a huge fire of logs, and while they were being burnt
the brothers-in-blood consulted as to future movements. The march
overland was abandoned. Turning upon their tracks, Dignum and Comerford
made their way back towards Melbourne. Here they engaged with a wealthy
squatter, who happened to be in need of hands, and remained with him for
some time; but finding steady work irksome they absconded and hired with
another squatter in another part of the district. The first master
followed them, and had them arrested on warrant for breach of agreement,
but did not succeed in bringing them to court. Seizing a favourable
opportunity, they slipped the handcuffs which had been placed upon their
wrists, took possession of a couple of guns which they found in the hut,
and once more took to the bush.

Again robberies were reported daily to police headquarters, and so
frequent and daring did the exploits become that the authorities were
spurred into unwonted activity to arrest the perpetrators, whose
identity had by this time become known. When they found themselves hotly
pressed, the two villains sought safety in flight, and re-entered upon
the abandoned journey to Adelaide. But that journey was rudely
interrupted. Having once tasted blood, Dignum sought for more, and one
day when Comerford was incautiously leading the way, he fired at his
back. The aim was not true, however, and the younger bushranger at once
turned and fled; he made his way back to Melbourne, surrendered to the
authorities, made a full confession of the murder, and gave such
information as led to the arrest of his erstwhile leader and companion
in crime.

At first the police discredited Comerford's story, so horrible and
improbable were the details; but he was accepted as King's evidence in
the case, and the two men were taken to Sydney under a strong
guard--there being at that time no Supreme Court in Melbourne.

In Sydney Comerford repeated his extraordinary story, which here also
was received with incredulity. The Government at last, however, decided
to test its truth, by sending Comerford back to Melbourne in charge of
an infantry sergeant named Tomkins, two soldiers and two policemen, with
instructions to guard him strictly and take him to the spot where the
murders were said to have been committed.

Securely handcuffed, Comerford correctly guided the party to the
neighbourhood of Mount Alexander, and showed them the exact spot on
which the murders were committed. Proof indisputable of the truth of his
story was furnished in the shape of human skulls, bones, and raiment,
which had remained unconsumed by the fire; and the sergeant having taken
notes of what had been seen, the party commenced the return journey
towards Melbourne. All doubts as to Comerford's truthfulness having thus
been set at rest, his guard became less careful as custodians, and more
inclined to be lenient towards him; nor was he slow to take advantage of
their leniency. Having complained of the heat and fatigue he suffered
from marching in handcuffs, the latter were removed during the day time,
although care was taken to resume them at night, when a halt was made.
When a halt was called at the close of the second day it was discovered
that the soldiers had inadvertently left their supply of tea and sugar
at the last camping ground, and it was agreed that the two privates
should return and recover the lost rations, the sergeant and the
policemen remaining in charge of the prisoner. The privates were so long
away, however, that it was concluded they had lost their way, and one of
the policemen was sent to look after them, two only remaining with the
prisoner. This man having left, the sergeant, the constable, and
Comerford proceeded to make a meal: and Comerford had behaved so well
that the sergeant saw no risk in removing his handcuffs in order that he
might enjoy a little freedom when eating. He was still eating when the
constable sauntered away to a neighbouring hill to see if the missing
men were approaching--and then the sergeant committed the mistake of his
life. He rose, rested his carbine against the trunk of a convenient
tree, and was proceeding to bring some water from a few paces off, when
Comerford, springing to his feet, seized the firelock and presented it
at Tomkins' head, exclaiming, "Now, by God, I'm a free man once more! I
don't want to hurt you, sergeant, but stand off or I'll blow your brains
out, for no man shall stop me!"

In vain the dismayed and helpless sergeant expostulated with him,
exclaiming that his prospects would be destroyed if Comerford got away.

"Never mind," returned his erstwhile prisoner, "you keep off and let me
go, or, by God! I'll do it!" Upon which the sergeant, who was not
lacking in bravery, although he had been foolish and unwatchful, made a
rush at Comerford, who instantly fired and shot him through the body.
Hearing the report of the firearm, the constable hastened back to the
camp, to find that the prisoner had disappeared, and that his superior
officer was on the point of death. Poor Tomkins lived only long enough
to make a statement.

When the others came back, diligent search was made for the escapee, to
whom very scant mercy would have been shown if he had been found; but
the search was futile, and the four disconsolate men returned to

For several weeks Comerford ranged the bush in the neighbourhood of
Melbourne, having made back to his previous haunts. He became the terror
of the settlers, whom he intimidated with threats of violence into
supplying him with food and other requirements. But his day was drawing
to a close. The Government offered a reward of 50 for his apprehension,
and a free pardon to any convict who might secure him, and those of the
latter who had assisted him when there was no "blood money" to be got by
betraying him, now became most anxious to take him prisoner.

Driven to extremity by shortness of provisions, he entered the men's hut
on a cattle station and gave an order for breakfast, intimating that he
would shoot the first man that moved otherwise than to do his bidding.
There were five men in the hut, and for a time none of them could pluck
up courage to attempt a capture. With his gun between his knees,
Comerford made a meal of "damper", beef, and tea, and then asked for
tobacco, saying he wanted a smoke. One of the convicts, a stockman known
as Kangaroo Jack, supplied him with this luxury, and Comerford proceeded
to have a smoke; but while he was in the act of lighting the pipe Jack
suddenly wheeled round and dealt him a terrific back-handed blow, which
threw him off his balance, and before he could recover it he was seized
and held in an iron grip. After a furious fight he was secured, bound
hand and foot, and conveyed in a bullock dray to Melbourne, and thence
to Sydney, where he was placed upon his trial for the murder of the
sergeant, convicted, and hanged.

His companion in crime, Dignum, escaped the fate he merited, through
absence of sufficient evidence against him; but he was sent as a "lifer"
to Norfolk Island.

Kangaroo Jack received the "absolute pardon" promised as the reward for
Comerford's capture.


The reference to Hartley in the case of the mail robbery for which Day
was convicted calls to mind the case of a bushranger named McKewin, a
notorious scoundrel, who evaded capture for a very long time during the
"thirties". For several years this desperado carried on his depredations
in different parts of the Hartley and Fish River Districts, but although
frequently tracked to the mountainous region, which was then unexplored,
he always managed to disappear in a most mysterious manner. At last two
mounted troopers accompanied by Mr. Charles Whalan managed to get upon a
"hot scent", following up which they were enabled to solve the mystery.
This was in 1841. It was concluded that McKewin's retreat must be in one
of the deep gullies which in that part of the country abound, and the
party determined to explore them thoroughly. After much labour his hut
was discovered on a little flat in one of the most secluded mountain
gorges: it was surrounded during the night, and the bushranger, on being
challenged to surrender, came to the door in a woman's nightdress.

After capturing him the party made its way down the gully, and came
suddenly in sight of a huge cavern in the hillside, whose mouth was
nearly three hundred feet high. Passing into it (for it was the only
outlet to the gully) they clambered over gigantic boulders to a
tunnel-like passage at the other end, which led them to the banks of a
creek which emerged from a similar cavern to their right. Thus were
first discovered the great caves now known as the Devil's Coach House
and Grand Arch.

For many years it was believed that McKewin had a secret hoard among the
hills, and many a hunt there was after it: but all that ever was found
was the remains of a rum keg. In a cave not very far from his hut there
has since been found a set of bullock-bows, which the bushranger stole
from one of Mr. Whalan's teams.

It is not necessary to give a detailed account of McKewin; suffice it to
say he was captured, lodged in Hartley Gaol, afterward tried by a Sydney
jury, and, subsequently, sentenced and transported to Norfolk Island,
where he died. His companions were never found.

In those days this district was full of wild cattle. Parties used only
to visit it for the purpose of beef hunting, and it was during some of
their exploits that they came in contact with this wonderful limestone
belt and its strange openings. The various parties returned and told
queer and discredited stories of the district. At different times some
of the more adventurous of them returned to the spot and made attempts
at exploring. They could not penetrate far; the difficulties they met
with were extreme; no roads, no help obtainable, and no house to rest in
after their labours. Their discomforts were very great, and they
wearied. Thus by slow degrees this marvellous locality gained its
reputation. Very small interest was taken in the place, however, and
little or nothing was done until Mr. Jeremiah Wilson and party came from
Oberon and explored them, submitting to all kinds of hardships and
privations in the process. Mr. Wilson was afterwards appointed keeper of
the caves by the Government and chief guide.


One of the more notorious of the bushrangers of the forties was a
convict Jew named Davis, who made his escape from an ironed gang working
near Sydney, and "took the bush", being soon joined by a desperate
character named Ruggy, an Irishman, and two other runaway prisoners.
Shortly after the gang commenced operations in the Brisbane Water and
Hunter River Districts, three recruits joined, the latest addition being
a youth of weak intellect, who had been led away by Davis' florid
descriptions of the freedom and pleasures of a bandit's life.

The members of the gang were well mounted and well armed with
double-barrelled guns and pistols, and supplied with packhorses to
carry "swag". Conscious of their strength and their ability to get away
quickly from any pursuers with whom a fight was not desirable, they
pursued their nefarious occupation with the utmost boldness and
openness. For a long time they eluded the vigilance of the local mounted
police, who certainly were not wanting in energy when fairly "on the
hunt". When advised that the troopers were out, they confined themselves
to the deep bush ravines, where dense forests and beetling rocks
afforded shelter and concealment. Here they would stay until the police
grew weary, when they would again sally forth.

The gang committed so many depredations in twelve or fifteen months that
the Government began to realise that some special effort was needed to
capture them. Hence they despatched a strong body of mounted police
under the command of a subaltern from Sydney to the Brisbane Water
district, with orders to take the Jew-boy and his companions either
alive or dead. But even the force from Sydney could not effect a
capture, although they pressed the gang closely and forced them to make
back to the Hunter River district. On the day of their arrival they
looted a store at Muswellbrook, and then went on to Scone, putting up at
Wilkie's Inn and ordering "dinner for seven, and be sharp about it."
After dinner they ransacked the one local store, adorning themselves
with the gayest ribbons they could find before leaving the place.

Up to this time they had not shed blood, as Davis insisted that his
companions should preserve clean hands in this respect, and only resort
to violence for the preservation of their own lives and liberty. But now
they added murder to their other crimes, and closed the door against
hope of escape from death themselves. As they were leaving the store,
one of the employees, a recent arrival from England, with more courage
than prudence seized a pistol and fired at one of them. The shot did not
take effect, and the rash man threw his pistol down and rushed towards
the police station to give the alarm. His race was a short one. Ruggy
leapt upon his horse and pursued him, shooting him through the back as
he ran, and the young fellow fell dead in his tracks.

This tragedy enacted, Davis and his six companions fled precipitately,
for they knew the murder would raise the country against them. They made
for the densely wooded Liverpool Range, stopping for a while on the way
at Atkinson's Inn, on the Dage River, where they bailed up all the
inmates and indulged in a hearty meal of beef and beer. They declined
the stronger drink that was offered them by the landlord, declaring that
rum could only be taken with safety when they were in camp. Before
resuming their flight they rounded up all the good horses and made an
exchange, leaving their weary steeds in place of the fresher animals;
then they headed for Doughboy Hollow, one of their old bush rendezvous,
where they calculated on passing the night safely.

But Nemesis was already following close upon their heels. A small party
(three or four civilians and a couple of Border Police) headed by Mr.
Day, police magistrate, who had formerly served as lieutenant in the
17th Regiment, were soon in full chase. Their first place of call was
Scone; there the sight of the body of the murdered man inspired them
with fresh resolution, and they pushed on with vigour, easily following
the freshly-made tracks. Several residents joined in the chase, and when
the pursuers reached Atkinson's Inn they formed quite a large party.

The sun was just sinking when, never having lost the track of the
bushrangers in a ride of fifty miles, Mr. Day and his party came in
sight of Doughboy Hollow. The spot was a favourite camping ground for
teams, and a cursory glance was sufficient to show the pursuers that the
men they wanted had joined some teamsters at their evening meal. The
bushrangers were seated round a log fire, a couple of them being engaged
in casting bullets for future use, while their horses were tethered some
distance away. Quickly dismounting, Mr. Day and several of his men made
a rush to seize the gang before they could recover from their surprise;
but Day incautiously raised a cheer as he ran, and at once the
bushrangers seized their guns and rushed to cover behind the nearest
trees. A brisk fusillade commenced. The Jew fired twice at Day, and
Ruggy at one of his companions; but fright had made their hands
unsteady, and the bullets did not take effect. Day returned the fire and
wounded Davis in the shoulder; then he rushed at him, wishing to take
him alive, and after a short struggle succeeded in overpowering him.
Ruggy was also seized when he had exhausted his fire, and four others of
the gang threw down their arms and surrendered. The seventh man escaped,
but was subsequently captured. Altogether about twenty shots were fired,
but no one on either side was killed.

Shortly after their capture the Jew-boy and his mates were removed in
irons to Sydney, where they were tried, convicted and condemned. Up to
the last moment Davis hugged the belief that his life would be spared,
on account of his having prevented the shedding of blood whenever he was
able to control his followers. Strong efforts were made by powerful
friends of his own persuasion to save him, but they were unavailing; and
together the leader and his followers expiated their crimes on the
gallows in Sydney in February, 1841.


Between 1842 and 1844, two convicts named "Scotchey" and Witton
absconded from Waugoola, and with others kept portions of the Lachlan
district in a state of continual alarm by their outrages. They were
wild, reckless, bloodthirsty fellows, and would stop at nothing to gain
their ends. One or two of their exploits will suffice to show what
manner of men they were.

At one of the stations in the district in which they were "ranging", a
large company of men had assembled for the annual cattle muster, and
after nightfall fourteen of them, including several "Government men",
had gathered round the fire in the hut, for the evening smoke and yarn.
Suddenly Scotchey and Witton stood at the door with guns presented,
declaring that the first man that moved from his position would have the
privilege of painting the door with his brains. A third
man--Russell--was with them, and him they ordered to enter the house and
search it for money and valuables, while they kept the inmates under
close cover. In one large box the hunter discovered the owner's branch
bank, in which there was a little money and a number of papers,
including one cheque for 60. The money was secured, but the papers and
cheque were cast aside as useless. One of the prisoners--the manager of
an adjoining station--complained that the fire was roasting him and
that he must change his position. "Then," said Scotchey, "just turn the
other side and you will be nicely baked by the time we have searched the
house; but if you move you are a dead man." The manager took the advice:
but thinking that fourteen men were rather too many to be kept prisoners
in such fashion by two, he suggested in a whisper to an old man at his
side that by making a simultaneous rush they would be able to overcome
the bushrangers. "I will knock one of them down with this block I am
sitting on," said he, "while you tackle the other." He found that he had
made his suggestion to the wrong individual. The man was an old convict
himself, and had more sympathy with the robbers than with the robbed,
though the latter was his own master. "By----," said he "if you move
I'll tell them, and you'll get your brains in your pocket." Under such
circumstances the manager deemed it prudent to remain quiet and

He was destined to meet the same gang on more than one occasion
subsequently. The very next day he was in his own hut telling his wife
and the station hands what had taken place, and expatiating on the power
of two men with guns to make cowards of fourteen, when suddenly another
voice, louder than his own, was heard enquiring "How many are there
here?" This time there were only six; but on looking towards the door
those six saw two men with guns pointed through it, and these the
overseer recognised as Scotchey and Witton, who were evidently making a
tour through the station holdings. As soon as Scotchey got an answer to
his question he ordered them all to march outside on pain of having
their brains blown out. Meekly they obeyed, all except the overseer's
wife. With a daring that must have made her valiant-spoken husband very
proud of her, she coolly walked up to the bushrangers and, "I'm sure,"
said she, "you would not hurt a woman, bushrangers though you are." She
even went so far as to place her hand upon Scotchey's arm, and looking
into his eyes she begged him not to take any of their little store, as
she and her husband were only just married, and were struggling hard to
save a little in order that they might start life on their own account.
Scotchey would have faced a crowd of men, and shot them down without
compunction, if they had resisted; but he could not withstand the appeal
of a woman's soft tongue or the pathetic glance of a woman's eye.
Dropping his gun, and looking the young wife steadfastly in the face, he
declared by his Maker that he would not rob them; and he kept his word
He called his mates, the three without another word left the place,
while the overseer and his men looked on with wide open eyes of

Just a word here, by way of parenthesis, to show that this "weaker
vessel" had a heart stout to meet danger and face death without dismay.
Shortly after the visit of the bushrangers, she removed with her husband
to another station in the same district, belonging to the same owner--a
very lonely spot in the far bush, where the blacks and kangaroos, the
natural denizens of the place, were wild and troublesome. One day the
cattle broke away from the new camp, and the overseer and his men
saddled up and went after them, sleeping on their tracks the first night
of pursuit, and the next day overtaking them and bringing them back.
During the first day of their absence, the lonely woman was startled by
the appearance of about 40 blackfellows at the hut, painted, and without
their gins--a sure sign that they meant mischief. And here I will let
the brave young wife--who was a typical Australian girl of the early
times, a splendid equestrienne, and able to handle a rifle or pistol as
well as most men--tell her own story:-

The blacks came up and asked me--"Where white fellow?" I, of course,
gave them no satisfaction. I was taking my tea, and they ordered me to
give them bread ("tong-ong"), a commodity I was very short of at the
time. Flour was then 5 10s per cwt., and, so far in the bush, it was
not to be had for money. However, I shared what I had with them; but
that did not satisfy them, and one of them threw it in the fire. This so
annoyed me--knowing how glad I should be of it myself--that, in the heat
of the moment, I twisted a leg out of the stool and rushed them out of
the hut, striking the fellow that had thrown the bread in the fire a
heavy blow between the shoulders. He turned and uttered a savage yell
and said, "You be poor fella before euroka begone next night"--you'll
be dead before the sun sets tomorrow night. When they were gone I shall
never forget the feeling of loneliness and horror that came over me.
Night came on, but no Lawrence--no white man; and I was alone in the
wild back woods, in a frail bark hut without a bar or lock. And,
terrible to relate, I never once looked up to "the Strong for strength";
yet, unsought and unseen, His mighty arm was uplifted to shield me from
every danger. As the night advanced I extinguished both fire and candle
and kept myself perfectly quiet. About twelve o'clock I heard my
kangaroo dog bark and growl, and knew he smelt a black. Presently I
heard a small voice softly call "Mittiss, mittiss, you let in black
pickanini--mine pialla (I'll tell you) news." I took courage and
unfastened the door, which I had secured as well as I could, by placing
a stool and four pails of water against it. To my great relief the boy
(a little blackfellow who had occasionally been employed about the place
by my husband) was alone. He had stolen away when the blackfellows had
gone to sleep, and had ventured his life to give me word that the blacks
were going to kill me in the morning, "when the sun jump up"--for they
are afraid to move, except in extreme cases, in the dark for fear of
evil spirits. But for this fear, they can track in the dark, and no
white person they desire to murder would be safe within their reach. The
boy said it was "Gentleman Billy" I had struck, and it was he who was to
kill me. I gave the poor boy some thick milk to drink, of which the
blacks are fond, and we spent the night quietly crouching together. It
was a night of the horror and darkness of death; and no one but such as
have been in similar circumstances can tell how the heart will warm and
cling even to a faithful kangaroo dog in such danger.

Just before day broke I let out the little black boy. Daylight had a
wonderful effect in cheering my spirit and scattering the horror of the
night. I knew the blacks so well that I knew you must never appear
afraid of them, so I resolved to face the danger before it came to me. I
got the double-barrelled gun (it was a little beauty Lawrence had bought
me shortly after our wedding), and, looking to the caps, I set off for
the blacks' camp. They were all up and seated round their camp fire
cross-legged like tailors. On my approach they all held down their heads
and began to jabber. I said firmly, "Good morning." None took any
notice, but still talked. I said, "My men, cobbon mine been dream last
night that blackfellow was going to kill me when sun jump up. Now, then,
which one black fellow?" No response. I immediately levelled my gun at a
tree near them and fired one barrel. They saw where the bark flew off,
and all started to their feet. I again demanded which blackfellow wanted
to kill me, and bade him come on now, for I had another barrel for him,
and my gun never told a lie. I levelled the barrel first at one, then at
another, repeating my question. They all fell back crying, "Not me,
Mittiss, not me, Mittiss. No blackfellow want to kill you--you murry
good woman!" So after a great many assurances, I was allowed to go back
to the hut, and was not disturbed by them that day.

There were heroines in the Australian bush in the early days of
settlement, and this brave overseer's wife was one of them. It was in
this lonely place that she for the second time, and her husband for the
third, came face to face with Scotchey and his mates. On the evening of
the day after her encounter with the blacks, when she was seated at the
fire with her husband, who had returned from his cattle chase wet and
weary, a violent knocking was heard at the door of the hut. "Who is
there?" said the overseer. The answer came in a rough voice "Police,
with a warrant to search your hut." The door was opened and three men
(Scotchey, Witton, and Russell) rushed in, presented their guns, and
repeated the demand with a threat which the inmates had heard before. As
Scotchey turned to search the bedroom, the overseer remarked to his
wife, "I hope these men will behave as honourably to us as Scotchey
did." "What was that I heard you say about Scotchey?" said the robber:
and seeing then who his victim was, he called his mates to sit down
before the fire, assuring the overseer and his wife that now they knew
who they were they would not take anything from them except their
firearms. To look for these Scotchey again essayed to enter the bedroom;
"we can't leave arms behind," he said, "they may be used against us some
day." But once more he was stayed by a woman's voice, and once more
yielded to a woman's prayer. The wife told him how serviceable her gun
had proved on the previous day in intimidating the blacks, and Scotchey
yielded to her petition not to deprive her of so valuable a protector in
her loneliness, at the same time vowing vengeance against the blacks for
daring to molest a white woman. Politely requesting that a damper might
be made for them, they smoked and chatted with each other and the
overseer while the bread was baking in the ashes, and having had supper
retired into the bush.

Next day the overseer quietly sent a message to his nearest neighbour,
an Irishman who had settled in the locality, but some miles nearer the
centre of civilisation, to warn him that Scotchey and his gang were
about and would in all probability give him a call. This settler had at
one time been a convict constable, and had earned the reputation of
being a hard taskmaster. He had only recently been married, and indulged
in loud boasting of the warm reception any bushranger who ventured to
visit his domicile would receive. Nothing happened for a fortnight after
the overseer's warning, and O'Leary was congratulating himself that he
had been overlooked. But he was not to be let off so lightly. In due
course Scotchey and his mates, who had evidently heard of the boasts in
which O'Leary had indulged, paid him a visit. They came at night, rapped
loudly at the bar door, and asked him whether he was coming to fight
them or not. O'Leary made no reply, but went into another room and
brought out his gun, cocking the weapon as he crept towards the window.
The bushrangers heard the "click", and immediately fired a volley
through the closed door. One of the bullets passed through the door into
the second room where the young wife was standing, and struck her on the
thigh, wounding her very severely. The poor woman screamed and fell, and
O'Leary at once called out that he would open the door as his wife was
shot. The door being opened and O'Leary disarmed, Scotchey lifted the
wounded woman and expressed his sorrow that she should have been
injured, assuring her that hers was the first blood they had shed; but
they were determined to punish her husband for his cruelty in the past
to men who had been placed under him. Before they left they loaded their
packhorse with tea, sugar, tobacco, and flour, and scattered what they
could not take, telling the erstwhile boaster before they departed that
he might think himself fortunate that they left him with a whole skin.
The wounded woman recovered, but was lame for a couple of years after
the wound had healed.

Meanwhile the troopers had begun to press closely upon Scotchey and his
mates; they disappeared from the district, and were not heard of for
some time, turning up at last in the Goulburn and Crookwell districts,
where they committed several robberies. While at work here they
announced that there were two men in the district upon whom they
intended to work revenge, not for any injury done to themselves, but for
harsh treatment of their assigned servants. Nearly every convict
bushranger appears to have voluntarily taken upon himself the task--a
congenial one, we may be sure--of hunting out reputed hard taskmasters
with a view of, to use their own words, "paying him back in his own
coin"; and woe to the man, wealthy or poor, a "pure merino" or an
emancipist, falling into their clutches, who had treated assigned
servants harshly, or who had been what they chose to consider a severe

So Scotchey and Witton made no secret of their intentions with regard to
at least two prominent men in the Crookwell district, one of them being
Mr. Oakes, who lived at Parramatta, but had a head station on the
Crookwell River; and the other a Mr. Fry, overseer of a station owned by
Dr. Gibson. During their visit to the district Mr. Oakes chanced to
arrive at the station, bringing with him a confidential man as overseer.
Hearing of his arrival the bushrangers--there were four at this time, a
man named Reynolds having joined the leaders with Russell--proceeded to
the station; mistaking the overseer for the owner they shot him dead
without any ceremony, and then set fire to the station, and pursued one
of the stockmen into the bush unsuccessfully. Mr. Oakes managed to keep
in hiding near the station until they had gone, and thus preserved his

Dr. Gibson's station was visited next, the bushrangers hoping to find
Fry at home. The cause of their grievance against Fry was most probably
his previous treatment of two bushrangers on the Western Road. The story
ran that the coach travelling between Bathurst and Sydney had been
"stuck-up" when Fry was a passenger. The bushrangers demanded that he
should give up his money, and Fry replied that all he had was in an
opossum rug which he had with him in the coach. "Then pitch it out" was
the command, and Fry stooped as if to obey, but as he pulled out the rug
he drew from it a revolver, and by a sudden snap shot ended the career
of one robber, immediately afterwards rushing upon the second, who was
covering the coach-driver, and taking him prisoner. For this Scotchey
now desired to "pay him out." Suddenly appearing at the station they
found him standing at the door of his log hut. They asked if he was Dr.
Gibson's overseer, and he assented. "Then," said Scotchey, "we are
coming to fry you in your own fat." But they had a smart man to deal
with. Turning sharp into the door Fry secured it, and then commenced a
regular siege. One of the bushrangers stationed himself in the calf-pen,
another in the stable, and the other two in sheltered positions; they
blazed away at the logs, and Fry returned their fire through the
loop-holes, with the assistance of an old convict hutkeeper. A bullet
struck one of the slabs above his head, and the splinter wounded him in
the eye. From the sudden cry he uttered the bushrangers imagined that
the shot had told, and Scotchey for the moment became less cautious.
Standing out from his cover he prepared to fire again, when a bullet
came whistling from Fry's rifle and struck him on the eyebrow, carrying
away part of his skull. Falling mortally wounded, he called upon Witton
to put an end to his pain, and Witton, in answer, put the muzzle of his
pistol to Scotchey's head and pulled the trigger. Then the three others
made off, not wishing to share Scotchey's fate.

Shortly afterwards, however, the local sergeant of police, with five
others, brought them to bay, and took two prisoners, Russell shooting
himself to avoid capture. Reynolds hanged himself in prison, and only
Witton suffered the penalty of the law.

About this time there were several other small gangs at work in the
Murray district. Some of them were vile scoundrels. As a rule the
bushrangers, even the most bloodthirsty, carefully abstained from
molesting females; but some of those at large at this period were of the
stamp of Jeffries the monster. Once two of these wretches paid a visit
to the house of a Scotchman who had been boasting of what he would do to
them if they came near him. They had heard of his boasts and sought to
punish him, but when they called at his hut he was absent. His wife was
present, however, busily engaged at the washtub, and to punish the
husband they carried her away with them to their hiding place in the
bush. When the husband returned his nearest neighbour volunteered to go
out with him and rescue the unfortunate woman, but the aforetime boaster
was afraid. The woman was allowed to return to her home on the day
following, and Sandy was no doubt pleased to get her back, although his
courage was not capable of being screwed to the sticking-point of
fighting for her. He lived in constant dread of the bushrangers after
that until he heard that they had been taken, tried and hanged.

Another story is told of another gang of "woman-lifters", as they were
called, but I cannot vouch for its truthfulness. This gang was in the
habit of carrying off women and keeping them in the woods for a week at
a time, and then conducting them to within easy distance of their homes.
The story runs that there was a man to whom word was brought that the
"woman-lifters" were coming. He was in bed at the time, and hurriedly
rising he said to his wife, "Now, S------, I'll kill you myself before
they shall take you--be quiet or die." He then ripped up the bed-tick
and put her into it, leaving her a place through which to breathe, and
then threw down the bedclothes, and prepared to receive the bushrangers,
who came shortly afterwards. He offered them no resistance, and they did
not attempt to do him any injury, and when, in answer to their
enquiries, he said that his wife had gone to a neighbour's at some
distance to spend the night they believed him, especially as they saw
that the bed had no visible occupant. They compelled the man to make
them a pot of tea, and stayed some time smoking and chatting at the
fire, after which they left. The reader may imagine the feelings of the
unfortunate woman as she heard from her hiding place the other than
kindly enquiries which were being made concerning her by the leader of
the gang. But I am inclined to think the story is one of the many which
found currency in the bush in later days, and which were fiction pure
and simple.


Williams and Flanagan were old Van Demonian convicts. They were drawn to
Port Phillip, or Victoria, as it was then being called in official
circles, by the gold discovery, but, being averse to dig themselves and
no doubt ashamed to beg, they sought to make an easy living by taking
what others had earned. Their impudence and daring were conspicuously
exemplified by a series of highway robberies on the St. Kilda Road.

On a Saturday afternoon, the 16th October, 1852, in the clear light of a
bright summer day, these two bushrangers kept possession of this
important thoroughfare for about two hours and a half, sticking up every
passenger who appeared. About thirty victims were secured, and robbed of
everything of value.

The modus operandi was described by Mr. William Keel and Mr. Wm.
Robinson, two of the gentlemen robbed. As they were driving along the
road from Melbourne towards Brighton, where they resided, they observed
two men some distance in front, carrying guns and occasionally looking
up into the trees on the roadside, as if in search of birds. As Messrs.
Keel and Robinson came up, however, they walked into the middle of the
road and presented their muskets, calling out, "Keep still, or we will
blow your brains out." This was supposed to be a joke, so little was
such a rencontre anticipated in such a locality; but it was soon found
to be serious earnest. The gentlemen were unarmed, and could not resist;
they were at once compelled to drive off the road into the bush, where
they could not be seen by passers by. Here they were required to hand
over their money, which they did to the amount of 23 and 46
respectively. They were then taken into a piece of scrub, tied together,
hand to hand, with part of a hempen halter cut for the purpose, and
ordered to sit down. They found themselves in the company of a number of
other unfortunates, watched over by two armed confederates, who were
ready to fire on the prisoners, should they make the slightest movement.

"Keep them close together," said one of the desperadoes, "so that, when
you fire, if you miss one, you'll hit another."

The men who had robbed Messrs. Keel and Robinson then went back to the
road, but made frequent returns to the scrub with new victims. Among
these were Mr. and Mrs. Bawtree, Mr. Larman. Mr. Striker, and other
well-known and wealthy colonists. A gentleman of the name of Moody was
the only passenger that escaped the bushrangers while they held control
of the thoroughfare. The two robbers were at some distance from Mr.
Moody, when they called on him to stop, but instead of doing so he
clapped spurs to his horse and galloped off. Two shots were
ineffectually fired after him. Mr. and Mrs. Bawtree were subjected to
the rudest treatment, the villains, although remonstrated with,
continuing to use the most abominable language, undeterred by the
presence of the lady, whose pockets they insisted on searching. They
were doubtless a little aggravated on finding that Mr. Bawtree carried
no money with him.

Soon after Mr. Moody's escape the four bushrangers, probably fearing
that he might raise a "hue and cry", mounted their horses, which were in
the scrub; and their victims soon after left the scene of their
imprisonment. Before information reached the authorities, the robbers
had made good their retreat. The Melbourne detectives were, however,
well up to their work, and succeeded where the ordinary troopers failed.
We may let one of them tell his own tale:-

As the bushrangers had made no attempt to disguise their appearance we
got a full description of their personnel, which I could identify as
that of some well known old hands, distinguished by all the audacity
necessary for such an exploit. We learned a day or two after the St.
Kilda Road affair that four bushrangers, who had been practising their
profession at Bacchus Marsh, had been seen in that locality by a
trooper, and their description corresponded with that of the heroes of
the 16th October. A little later we got information of four diggers, on
their way from Bendigo to Melbourne, being robbed at Aitken's Gap by
what seemed to be the same band of bushrangers. One of them was relieved
of four nuggets and 23, and another, named Whelan, was, among other
things, deprived of a pistol which he carried.

As they had enjoyed a successful campaign, we began to anticipate the
early appearance of the robbers in Melbourne, where they might, through
their ill-gotten gain, enjoy for a time the sweets of dissipation, or,
more probably, attempt to ship for some other locality, as their victims
in Victoria were too numerous to render their continued residence in
this colony prudent or advisable. The usual precautions, which I have
already described, in connection with other cases, were taken to secure
the arrest of the men by watching the approaches to the city. In town, I
and others did not despair of finding them, perhaps on our ground, and
as anticipated, two of the men dropped into our hands as a party of us
were, according to our wont at that lawless period, patrolling the
streets at night. A little after midnight, while we were in Flinders
lane, we observed two horsemen approaching--a suspicious circumstance at
such an hour in that locality--we resolved to accost them, and got them
to stop by asking a question on some irrelevant and unimportant subject,
when we got up close to them. Their appearance, if not incompatible with
innocent pursuits, was such as usually distinguishes the criminal; I
could recognise the one I stood beside as an old convict; their answers
to our questions were suspiciously evasive--they were evidently
impatient of delay. In short, we felt assured that they would not suffer
much from being overhauled at the watchhouse, and accordingly at an
understood signal, acting simultaneously, we hurled them from their
saddles, and, in an instant, they were handcuffed and secured.

When taken to the watchhouse, their effects made rather a respectable
appearance. One of them, Thomas Williams, had 55 in sovereigns and
notes, a nugget, a bundle of clothes and a pair of fowls, with which the
unlucky rascals had probably anticipated making a comfortable supper,
but they were destined to feed a more honest man, for the detective who
searched Williams afterwards under cross-examination, amid the laughter
of the court, said he had consumed the poultry, and that "they were very
good". On the other man, John Flanagan, we found 47 10s. Each had a
pair of heavily loaded pistols, which convinced us that the precautions
we used in securing our prisoners were not unnecessary. One of the
pistols was identified by Whelan as his property.

Both men were sworn to as being two of the four St. Kilda Road robbers
by several of the gentlemen who had fallen victims to their audacity.
They were likewise identified as the men who had robbed Aitken's Gap.
They were found guilty, and each received three cumulative sentences,
which, in all, amounted to thirty years' hard labour on the roads, a
considerable portion of the time in irons. Both were old convicts who
had been sent to Van Diemen's Land from England during the
transportation era. Even in durance, the "wicked" Williams would not
"cease from troubling" but took a prominent part in the murder of Mr.
Price, for which he was executed, and it is to be hoped that he is "now
at peace."

Of the fate of their companions in the St. Kilda Road bushranging, I
remember nothing; but, probably, they were soon brought "before their
betters" for some other crime.


William Day was an old convict, sent to Van Diemen's Land from the old
country under a heavy sentence. Having gained his liberty he made his
way to New South Wales, and joined a motley crowd on the "rush" to the
Turon goldfields. He settled at Sofala, where between blacksmithing and
fossicking he managed to live in comparative comfort, it being generally
understood in the locality that he had amassed quite a little fortune.
But the old instinct was still apparently strong within him; he joined a
man named Wilson, alias Doyle, with whom he shared an unenviable
reputation on the diggings--it being currently believed that one or both
of them had been concerned in the murder of Trooper Codrington on the
Bathurst-Turon road some time before--and the pair set out on a journey
across the mountains.

In the mail coach on its journey from Bathurst to Sydney in June, 1859,
there were only two passengers, one of them no less a personage than the
Hon. L. H. Bayley, Attorney-General for the colony, who was returning to
Sydney from Circuit work in the west; but the mail bags contained nearly
5000 in bills, cheques, notes and cash, sent from the country banks to
head quarters, or from country business men to Sydney merchants.

The mail was slowly ascending one of the long hills nearing Mount
Victoria, on the Blue Mountains, the two passengers walking some
distance in advance, as was the custom, when suddenly the driver,
William Andill, who was at the horses' heads, was startled by the
appearance of Day with a gun and a peremptory order to stop. The unarmed
driver could but obey, for the hill was too steep to permit of escape.
The next order was "Chuck out the mail bags." "I must not do that," said
Andill, "if you want them you must take them yourself." All this time
the bushranger, who had a piece of blanket or bag over his head, with a
hole cut in it to see through, kept his double-barrelled gun presented.
Three times he repeated the order, and was disobeyed: at last he said,
"I have asked you three times: I don't want to shoot or murder you; but,
by God, if you don't give me the bags I will." Andill then got upon the
box and threw the bags out, the gun being pointed at his head the whole
time. When all the bags were on the road in a heap, Day, still keeping
his gun at the "ready" and with a large horse-pistol sticking out
prominently from his belt, ordered the driver to proceed. Without
waiting for a second bidding he did so, and reaching his two passengers,
pulled up and informed them excitedly that he had been robbed. "Yes,"
answered the Attorney-General, "we saw it all." The bushranger, who
still kept his gun levelled in their direction, then threatened that if
they did not move on at once he would shoot them; they hurriedly climbed
into their seats, the driver gathered up the reins, and pushed his
well-rested steeds forward on the hilly road.

At the time of the "sticking-up" there was a road-party working on the
mountain road, a few hundred yards distant, but they did not take any
notice of what was going on; about a mile further on the road was a
company of about a hundred Chinamen, travelling from Sydney to the Turon
diggings. But the bushranger had done his work before they arrived on
the scene; and it is not likely that they would have interfered had they
arrived in time, seeing that they were all "new chums", and altogether
ignorant of English. The Chinese in those days were frequently to be met
with travelling in hordes; they trotted along the road in single file,
with huge mushroom hats, baggy trousers and sandals of every conceivable
pattern, balancing their basket-poles on their shoulders and jabbering
cheerfully to each other as they jogged.

Passing this crowd of gold-hunters, the driver tooled his team to the
toll-bar on the road, about a mile distant, where information of the
robbery was given to the keeper, Mr. Shepherd, and then the coach
proceeded on its way to Hartley, where there was a police station.
Several mounted troopers happened to be at Hartley at the time, and
Andill conducted them to the spot where the robbery had taken place; but
the bushranger had disappeared and left no tracks.

As soon as he had seen the coach well on its way, Day lowered his gun,
gathered up the mail-bags (it was a heavy load, but he was a remarkably
strong man), and plunged into the bush, making for the retreat which he
and Wilson had arranged upon. After leaving the road he was joined by
Wilson and the load was divided, the two men pushing on as fast as
possible across a very deep gully, using a primitive sapling bridge to
reach the opposite side, and destroying the bridge after crossing in
order to throw their pursuers off the scent. They then penetrated a
thick scrub and there cut open the bags and bundled the contents into a
heap for sorting, subsequently selecting all the letters containing
anything of value and putting them into one bag.

Having thus lightened the load they penetrated further into the
mountains, tree-marking as they went for the purpose of making the road
to the "plant" more easy to find. Reaching a favourable spot, where the
scrub was very dense, they proceeded to examine their booty further, and
at once picked out all the red-taped registered letters and placed them
apart. After they had "gone through" the bag, and counted the cheques,
notes, watches, jewellery and other valuables, they supplied themselves
with some silver and a number of the notes, replaced the rest in the
bag, and "planted" it carefully in a large hollow log. The letters which
had contained money they burned, together with the cheques and other
papers which were not negotiable; and having also concealed their
firearms and obliterated their tracks, crossed the bush for Bell's line
of road, which they followed past Bowenfels to the Mudgee-road,
intending to put up for the night at Walton's public house.

Day had previously stayed at this house, and was on good terms with
Walton; he was, therefore, somewhat disappointed on entering to find
that Walton had sold out to a retired sergeant of police, named
McGregor, who had been stationed at Hartley. When they entered the
landlord and some of his customers were talking about the mail robbery,
news of which had reached them during the day--for the place was only
about 12 or 14 miles from Hartley, and the robbery had been committed at
about 8 o'clock in the morning. Turning to Day, the landlord asked him
if he had come up the road. "Yes", said Day. "Did you hear aught about
the coach being stuck up?" added McGregor. "Yes," replied Day, "but a
man was taken up at Hartley for speaking of it, and I don't wish to talk
about it as I might be taken up myself." This set the landlord's wits to
work; he soon became suspicious of his customers, and when he showed
them to the bedroom which they were jointly to occupy, he quietly locked
the door and sent his servant post haste to Hartley for the police.

At an early hour next morning Chief-Constable Armstrong and Trooper
Moran arrived at the house, and McGregor told them his suspicions. At
once proceeding to the room they found Day and Wilson in the act of
dressing, and straightway began to question them. A bundle of notes was
found on Day, as well as a pistol capped and loaded, and a knife;
between the bed and mattress there was a letter. Wilson had about seven
pounds in money on him. They were at once arrested and taken to Hartley,
and their boots, when compared with the tracks, were found to correspond

The letter which had been discovered in the bed was an ordinary business
letter, preserved by Wilson from the heap that was burned. Day
subsequently declared that Wilson had kept it for the purpose of
betrayal after they had returned to the diggings, intending to place it
in Day's hut and inform the police that he believed him to have
committed the mail robbery, when they would of course search the place,
find the letter, and arrest him; and when he was Out of the way Wilson
would return to the mountains, "spring the plant", and disappear with
the treasure. That Wilson (who had fallen out with Day on the very
morning of the robbery, which accounted for his absence when the mailman
was stopped) intended treachery was abundantly proved before many hours
had elapsed.

At Hartley the two men were locked up in the cells, and there kept until
the arrival of Captain Battye, Superintendent of the Western Patrol, who
was on his way to Hartley when he heard of the capture of the robbers.
Battye, who was a skilled thief catcher, at once enquired if any of the
stolen property had been discovered in the bush, and receiving an answer
in the negative he determined to keep the prisoners in the locality
while search was being made, knowing that it would be a difficult matter
to gain a conviction unless some of the property that could be
identified were produced. Having interviewed the prisoners he determined
upon making an experiment with Wilson, who had given signs that he would
not be averse to turning Queen's evidence, provided such turning would
secure him immunity from punishment. He accordingly took Wilson out of
the cell in the afternoon of the second day, and having supplied him
with a horse started with him into the bush, ostensibly to search for
the hidden treasure. But Wilson was not quite prepared for the
"splitting" process, and night came on while they were still in the
bush, having discovered nothing.

Captain Battye then told Wilson that he intended to camp out in the bush
until the missing bags were found, and the man, who evidently had no
desire to lie _sub jove frigido_ in that inclement season of the
year--he was lightly clad and the party had no blankets with them--at
once raised an objection. "It can't be helped," replied the gallant
captain, "here we are and here we'll stay until I find those bags; and I
mean to chain you to a tree when we camp for the night." Then turning to
one of the troopers who accompanied him he enquired if he had the chain
ready. Agreeable to previous arrangement, the chain was produced, and
Wilson came to the conclusion that the threat was not an empty one. The
party continued their ride for a few miles further into the bush, and
then the crestfallen prisoner gave in. He confessed to his complicity in
the robbery, and revealed the position of the concealed booty, but
explained that it would be impossible for them to reach the spot on
horseback, or even to get near it.

Rejoicing at the success of his ruse. Captain Battye then decided to
return to Hartley for the night, intending to form a foot party to
search the locality pointed out by Wilson. The start was made early next
morning, the search party consisting of Captain Battye, the Police
Magistrate (Mr. Thomas Brown), the Chief Constable (Armstrong), Sergeant
Middleton, Trooper Bagnall, and the prisoner Wilson; three black
trackers also being with them. The party rode as far as the top of Mount
Victoria and then sent their horses back to Hartley, going into the bush
on foot, with Wilson as their guide.

The search occupied the whole day, the distance covered being over
thirty miles, in the rough country where the Grose has its headwaters;
but nearly everything was recovered, and the party returned to Hartley
after nightfall, almost worn out, but elated with their success.

Two days afterwards Day was brought up before the Hartley Bench, and
Wilson was the chief witness against him. The informer told the whole
story, stating among other things that he and Day had lain in wait for
the mail for eight consecutive days, and that on the day before the
robbery they had arranged to "stick up" the gold escort as it passed the
same spot, and in fact had the mail covered with their guns when they
saw mounted troopers behind it, and fear prevented further action. Day
declined to ask any questions, and was then fully committed to take his
trial at the Assize Court at Bathurst to be held in the following month.

Up to this time Wilson had not been formally proceeded against for his
part in the robbery; but in order that he might be legally kept in
custody until Day's trial, while yet not committed, he was from time to
time brought before the bench of magistrates and remanded. He was
remanded once too often. He was kept at the lock-up, and allowed to take
exercise in the yard. One day he took advantage of this, climbed the
paling fence surrounding the lock-up, and disappeared. It was nearly
dusk at the time, and, although mounted troopers were out very shortly
after the alarm was raised, scouring town and country, search was
fruitless, and Wilson was never recaptured.

Day was convicted and sentenced to seven years' hard labour, serving his
sentence on Cockatoo Island. On the whole he was a ''good conduct"
prisoner while there, and received such indulgences as his orderliness
among a disorderly crew merited. But if he had not taken life before, he
took a life on the island. He had been appointed overseer of one of the
prison working gangs, and enjoyed immunity from slavish work. His
previous knowledge of prison discipline stood him in good stead, and he
was able to shape his conduct with a constant eye to indulgences; but on
one occasion he took part in an affair which might have cost him his
position, if not his life. A group of the convicts were spending a
portion of their "airing" time in "yarns" about the native blacks and
their weapons, their skill in throwing the spear being chiefly dwelt
upon. Day was present and boastfully said he could throw a spear as well
as any blackfellow, as he had learnt the art when at the blacks' camp in
the bush. One of the convicts named James Heald questioned his ability,
when Day dared him to stand at a certain distance before him while he
threw a long strip of Kauri pine, much like a spear, and about II feet
in length and an inch in thickness. Heald did stand and Day threw the
piece of wood, there being a space of about 60 feet between the two men.
The missile, propelled with great force and precision, struck Heald in
the face just below the eye and inflicted a terrible wound. The convicts
managed to hide the occurrence from the authorities until Heald's death
made it impossible. An inquest was then held, but as it was sworn that
all that Day did was done in "sport" and that Heald contributed to his
own death by engaging in that "sport", very little was made of the
matter. Heald's removal from the prison yard and cells made one convict
less--that was all.

Before the full term of his sentence had expired Day was released, and
shortly afterwards he returned to the old locality near Sofala and
resumed his dual calling--that of blacksmith and digger--which he
followed until old age and infirmity had robbed him of his vigour. For
many years he lived in comparative solitude. He died in 1898, in
Bathurst Hospital, having sought admission there when he realised that
he was sick unto death.




The mere mention of the name of Frank Gardiner in any part of the
Western or Southern districts of New South Wales is sufficient to set
any of the residents in those districts of 30 years' standing talking of
the "old bushranging days". For Christie, alias Clarke, alias Gardiner,
has been ever looked upon as the "father" of that bushranging which was
followed by so many young men during the decade commencing in 1860.

There was a great difference between the men who "took to the bush"
during the old convict days and those who made bushranging a profession
after the country had been fairly opened up and settled; there was a
great difference, too, between their methods. The former, as I have
already pointed out, were mostly escaped convicts; some had been
brutalised by the harshness of the system--others, knowing that a price
was set upon their heads, were prepared to go to any length in
preserving their freedom. But the men of the sixties were, as a rule,
native-born Australians, spoilt by a life of laziness, and enamoured of
the romance which attached to bushranging. Love of excitement more than
desire of pillage led them to take up the "profession", and in at least
three cases the career had its origin in a midnight "lark."

Frank Gardiner--to use the name by which he was commonly known in the
bush--was born at Boro Creek, near Goulburn, in 1830, and when quite a
young man crossed the border into Victoria, where he was soon notorious.
In June, 1850, Mr. Lockhart Morton, who had recently taken possession of
Salisbury Plains Station, on the Loddon, suddenly discovered that all
the horses on his station, with the exception of four which were in a
secure paddock, had mysteriously disappeared. He was a man of pluck and
energy, and after making a supply of cartridges for his guns and writing
to the chief constable in Melbourne, asking him to send intelligence of
the robbery to Geelong, Portland, and Adelaide, daylight on the
Wednesday morning (the horses had been removed on the previous Sunday)
saw him in the saddle fully equipped and determined to run down the

The only reliable man he could take with him was Will Mercer, the cook
at the station, who was an experienced bushman and expert tracker, like
his master; but an old man named Williams, who had reached his
seventieth year, volunteered to make one of the party, as a horse
belonging to him was in the stolen mob; and although he could not be
expected to do more than follow and keep the two men in view, he was
allowed to start with them. Getting on the tracks they ran them past
Korong towards Charlton, and south through the bush to the Wimmera
River; thence to Lexington, where they took the road and kept it past
Chirnside's cattle station at Mount William, and Dr. Martin's Mount
Sturgeon station, to an hotel at the Mount. There they learned from the
publican that at races held two days previously the robbers had run
horses against those entered by the police. From him also Mr. Morton
obtained a letter which one of the gang had left behind to be posted.
With this they went off full gallop to Hamilton, where the clerk of the
bench opened the letter. It was addressed to Mr. Crouch, the postmaster
at Portland, who also was an auctioneer, and ran as follows:-

Sir,--I have no doubt you will be surprised to receive a letter from a
stranger, but as it is on business I presume it does not matter. I have
sent my representative, Mr. William Troy, to Portland with thirty-three
head of horses, which I consider a fair sample for any market. I wish
you to dispose of the same by the hammer to the highest bidder. I have
authorised Mr. William Troy to receive the proceeds, and his receipt
will be sufficient. Be good enough to let him have only such money as is
current in Portland. Should the price realised please me I will send
over another draft in the course of a month.

I remain, sir, yours obediently, WILLIAM TAYLOR. Lake Mingo, Murray

From Hamilton they followed the tracks towards Portland, and at last
heard that there were men with horses at Bilston's Hotel, on the
Fitzroy. There the robbers were found and secured--Gardiner, Newton, and
the overseer, William Troy. The latter was handcuffed before he was
quite awake, and was very contemptuous of his captors. "Oh, you have
done a heavy trick," he said; "you have come here with guns and pistols
and swords, and one man with a big whip around his shoulders, to take
three men unarmed, asleep in bed. Oh, you have done a heavy trick!" Old
Mercer called him a scoundrel for stealing a poor man's horse. "Had you
a horse among the lot, old fellow?" said Stuart; "if I had known that I
would have cut him out for you; but I was not coming up to your kitchen
to tell you we were going to take the horses."

On the following day the three horse-stealers were fully committed to
stand their trial.

The court was to sit at Geelong in October, but about a week before the
time fixed William Troy managed to escape from custody.

The other two were tried, convicted, and sentenced to five years
imprisonment with hard labour in Pentridge Gaol. Gardiner, however,
shortened his term to five weeks. The superintendent employed a number
of black troopers as guards in the open, where the prisoners worked, and
Gardiner suddenly one day attacked his guard, wrenching the carbine out
of his hand, and fired as he fled: whereupon the whole gang of eleven
prisoners got clear away.

Shortly afterwards Gardiner was seen on the Bendigo goldfields; but
finding himself observed he suddenly disappeared across the Murray into
New South Wales, and made his way back to Goulburn, where he remained at
large for three years. He at last resumed his old practice of
horse-stealing, and in 1854 was arrested, brought before the Goulburn
court, and convicted on two separate charges, receiving a sentence of
seven years' hard labour on the roads or Other public works of the
colony for each offence. He was forthwith sent to Cockatoo Island.*

[* This prison was on a large island in the Parramatta River, about two
miles west of Sydney Cove. In those days it was used as a penal
establishment for the worst kind of male offenders, and was capable of
accommodating nearly 200 prisoners. The prisoners' quarters were
situated in an enclosure on the summit of the island, the governor's
house being built on the east side. On the east end of the island was
the Government slip and dry dock, called the Fitzroy Dock, at which her
Majesty's ships of war on the station were cleaned and repaired. These
stupendous works, constructed in the solid rock, were built almost
exclusively by prison labour, and convicts incarcerated on the island
were subjected to the most rigorous treatment, escape being almost

Here he behaved well (but for one attempt to escape), and after serving
about half his sentence was released on a ticket-of-leave** for the
Carcoar district. Shortly after his arrival at Carcoar he reported
himself at the police station, and at the same time enquired if a
settler named Fogg resided in the district. "No," was the reply of the
Police Magistrate, "he lives on the Abercrombie, and if you go over
there it will be the duty of the police to arrest you for being out of
your district." In spite of this he seems to have visited Fogg, but was
left unpunished until certain horses and cattle mysteriously
disappeared; then, search being made for him, he disappeared also. It
turned out afterwards that Fogg and he had gone off to Lambing Flat
gold-diggings, and were engaged in a butchering business at Spring
Creek. There a petty quarrel brought him again under the notice of the
police, and only the lack of quick communication between Carcoar and
Lambing Flat saved him from renewed imprisonment.

[** The holder of a ticket-of-leave could only reside in the district
named in his ticket.]

When next he was heard of in the Lambing Flat district he had developed
into a veritable Knight of the Road, a terror to every settler, and the
boldest and greatest breaker of law that ever troubled the police. Fogg
had also disappeared and gone back to his farm on the Fish River, near
the Abercrombie, and soon after road robberies became frequent, which
were at last attributed to Gardiner: whereupon the police began to
"shadow" Fogg, in hopes of catching the greater criminal.

Early in the month of July, 1861, Sergeant Middleton and Trooper Hosie,
who were stationed at Tuena, the nearest police station to Fogg's, left
Bigga early one morning, information having been received by them that
Gardiner had been seen in that locality. Reaching the Fish River they
proceeded as quietly as the rattling of their accoutrements and their
heavy-shod horses would allow, and arrived at the "slip-panel" which
gave ingress and egress to the Fogg domain. The point of entrance was in
front of the house, and as soon as the horses had got through Middleton
rode forward at a canter, Hosie following at a smarter pace as soon as
he had put up the rails--the object in again closing the entrance being
no doubt to hinder the escape of the man for whom they were looking if
he happened to be within the enclosure. As Middleton reached the door
Mrs. Fogg appeared, and ran back indoors in alarm. The sergeant jumped
off his horse, and made after her, when suddenly Fogg and his wife, with
the children, ran past him into the open. This act alone was sufficient
to convince the police that they had arrived at an opportune moment.

Middleton could see that the one front room was empty, but that there
was another doorway at the back, which was covered with a calico screen.
As he stepped inside he saw this screen move, and, going up to it, heard
a loud call from the inner room "If you enter I'll shoot you." Making no
reply, the sergeant suddenly lifted the screen with his left hand,
having a pistol in his right ready for use. No sooner had he done so,
however, than a shot was fired from within the room; and Middleton,
unharmed, at once dropped the screen and drew back a couple of paces.

But he had seen a man within the room, and knew the exact position in
which he stood; he raised the screen a second time and fired as he
raised it. Simultaneously, however, the man fired also, and the bullet
from his pistol struck Middleton fair in the mouth, and passed into the
lower jaw. Once more the sergeant dropped the screen and fell back,
expecting his assailant to rush out; but there was no movement from
within and Middleton determined to have another shot. But his pistol was
empty, and when he proceeded to reload he found that he had also been
shot in the left hand, the bullet passing through the back of his hand
into the wrist. He went to the front door where Hosie was standing and
told him to go round to the back of the house, and see if he could enter
the hut from that direction. Hosie did so, and reported that there was
no entrance from the back. "Then," said Middleton, "come and take your
chance here with me." But the chance proved a poor one, for as he rushed
for the inner room calling upon the man to surrender, at the same time
firing into the room, two sudden answering shots came back in reply and
Hosie fell wounded and stunned to the floor.

The man inside was thus far master of the situation, and if he had kept
inside he would probably have come off victorious. But seeing Hosie fall
as though killed, and knowing that Middleton was badly wounded, he
determined to make a rush for liberty, without waiting to reload.
Seizing his pistol by the muzzle, he ran out towards Middleton and
attempted to strike him with the butt-end. The sergeant parried the
blows with a heavy-handled whip, and managed to deal his assailant some
severe ones in return; in the nick of time Hosie recovered, sprang up,
and caught the man from behind, while Middleton used the whip-handle on
his head. In the struggle they all three rolled out of the house, and
then Fogg ran up and interfered. "Don't kill the man, Middleton," he
cried, and then "You'd better give in, Gardiner." At that the police
knew they had the man they wanted, and Hosie redoubled his exertions to
secure him. The two fell, locked in close embrace, Hosie being
uppermost, and Middleton again attempted to strike, but was prevented by
Fogg, who kept calling to Gardiner to give in and prevent actual murder.
Middleton then threw his handcuffs to Hosie, who still managed to keep
uppermost, and after some trouble, Fogg still persuading him to "give
in", Gardiner was secured. It was then found that he had grown suddenly
weak, and also that he had been wounded in the firing, while his head
had been much cut about by the blows from the hunting whip.

Fogg and his wife assisted to get Gardiner into the house, where Hosie
kept guard over him, while Middleton searched other portions of the
premises, under Fogg's guidance, to make sure that no more bushrangers
were about. If there had been, they would have shown themselves long
before, but the police did not think of that. In the end Fogg was asked
to send to Bigga for assistance, but he replied that there was no one
there who knew the way. "Then lend me a horse for a man to ride", said
the sergeant, to which Fogg replied "I can't do that, for I have no
horse." There was nothing for Middleton to do but start, wounded and
weak from loss of blood as he was, for Bigga, leaving his equally weak
and wounded companion to stand guard over the prisoner, who was also
weak and wounded, but still in the house of the man who sympathised with
him and who had previously associated with and harboured him.

So Middleton mounted his horse and faced for Bigga, giving Hosie
instructions to start with his prisoner in the same direction as soon as
he had recovered a little strength. The journey, which under ordinary
circumstances would have occupied about an hour and a half, was not
accomplished under five hours.

When Middleton rode slowly away he left Gardiner lying on the floor of
the house, handcuffed and so badly hurt that he believed him to be
dying; but if all that was subsequently stated by the man in whose
charge he had been left be true, he was very far from dying, although it
would have been a good thing for the colony if he had been actually
dead. How the escape was effected has never yet been made known with
sufficient clearness to satisfy the minds of an "inquiring public." At
the time and for many years afterwards contradictory stories were told,
some of them not at all to the credit of the officers concerned; but the
version that was officially put forth to the world as the correct one
was that it was a case of rescue by other bushrangers with whom Gardiner
had been associated, and who formed part of the gang of which he was
chief. Hosie's story, given in evidence during Fogg's trial for
obstructing the police, was as follows:-

(After describing what happened up to the time when Middleton left for
Bigga) . . . . "In about an hour and a half I found myself getting faint
and called upon Fogg to take Gardiner in charge, which he did, and when
I recovered I found Gardiner in the same place as when T fainted. I do
not know whether he made any attempt to get away from Fogg, but shortly
after I recovered he tried to get away from me; he attempted to throw me
down, and we struggled together for a quarter of an hour, when he got
away and rushed towards the river, which was flooded, when he turned and
got a sapling and rushed at me with it. I fired at him and overcame him.
Fogg then assisted me again, and we took him back to the house and gave
him some refreshment. As Middleton did not return with assistance, I
thought he must have died on the road, and I asked Fogg to assist me to
take Gardiner to Bigga, which he did, and got two horses, one for
himself and the other for Gardiner to ride. Fogg led Gardiner's horse,
and I rode behind. When we had got about 3 3/4 miles on the road toward
Bigga we were attacked by two bushrangers, one of whom I believe to be
Piesley, who ordered Fogg to let go Gardiner's horse, or they would
shoot him; he did so. They then fired at me, and I fired at them--the
only charge I had--when they both rushed at me and covered me with
their revolvers. Fogg rushed up and begged of them not to shoot me, but
to spare my life, and T believe they would have shot me only for Fogg's
interference. They then left, taking Gardiner with them. After they
left, Fogg accompanied me for about a quarter of a mile on the road for

Who dressed Gardiner's wounds and nursed him back to health has never
been disclosed; but that he was nursed back to health in a comparatively
short time is proved by the fact that within a few months he was again
reported as being "on the road", robbing travellers, in company with
another noted bushranger named Jack Piesley and a couple of others. In
the meantime, the Government had offered 50 for information that should
lead to their capture, and soon followed this up with the following
announcement, made in the "Police Gazette" of January, 1862:-




(_Vide_ Report of Crime of 29th July, 1861, and _ante_.)

On the 16th July last Sergeant Middleton and Trooper Hosie, of the
Western Patrol, were attacked and severely wounded at the Fish River by
Francis Clarke, alias Jones, alias Christie, a ticket-of-leave holder,
illegally at large from his district; a native of Goulburn, New South
Wales, 31 years of age, 5 ft. 8 1/2 in. high, a laborer, dark sallow
complexion, black hair, brown eyes, small raised scar in left eyebrow,
small scar on right chin, scar on knuckle of right forefinger, round
scar on left elbow joint, two slight scars on back of left thumb, short
finger nails, round scar on cap of right knee, hairy legs; wounded in
the above affray on left temple by pistol ball or whip. He was captured
and afterwards released by two armed men of the following description:
John Piesley, a ticket-of-leave holder, illegally at large from his
district; a native of Bathurst. New South Wales, laborer, about 28 years
of age, about 5 ft. 10 in. high, stout and well made, fresh complexion,
very small light whiskers, quite bald on top of head and forehead,
several recent marks on face, and a mark from a blow of a spade on top
of head; puffed and dissipated-looking from hard drinking, invariably
wears fashionable Napoleon boots, dark cloth breeches, dark vest
buttoned up the front, large albert gold guard, cabbage-tree hat and
duck coat. Sometimes wears a dark wig and always carries a brace of
revolvers. He was in Sydney some weeks ago in company, it is supposed,
with Zahn, alias Herring, of the Abercrombie. The other man is about 26
years of age, and about 5 ft. 6 in. high, light hair and whiskers, and
small light moustache, sallow complexion. A reward of 20 is offered for
Gardiner's apprehension, and 50 will be paid by the Government to any
person who may, within six months from the present date, give such
information as shall lead to the apprehension and conviction of the said
John Piesley, and 50 will be paid for the apprehension and conviction
of each of the other offenders.

But leaving Gardiner for a time, we must turn aside to the history and
exploits of the man whom Hosie declared to be the chief instrument in
his rescue from custody.


From the very first of Gardiner's road adventures in the West he was
associated in the police and press reports with another notorious
criminal named Piesley, who was also an old Cockatoo hand.* Piesley had
been sent to Cockatoo for cattle stealing, or a similar offence, and had
either escaped before his sentence had expired or been released on a
ticket-of-leave, as was Gardiner. He returned to where his parents
lived, in the Abercrombie district. During the years 1860-1 many
robberies (mostly of travellers) were perpetrated on the roads in the
Goulburn, Abercrombie, Cowra, and Lambing Flat districts, and Piesley
was generally credited with them. Sometimes the "sticking-up" was done
by one man, at other times by three or four, but whether singly or in
company, the bushrangers always succeeded in "clearing out" their
victims without meeting violent resistance, as well as in keeping out of
sight of the police. The day after one robbery they would be heard of as
having committed another scores of miles away, perhaps in an altogether
different district.

[* The term applied to those who had served a penal sentence on the
island near Sydney which is now called Biloela.]

As I have already stated, at the time of the encounter between Gardiner
and the two policemen at Fogg's, the general impression was that Piesley
was not far off, and that Gardiner had simply left him at a friend's
house while he went to have a yarn with his old partner, so that Hosie's
story found ready acceptance. But Piesley always denied that he had
anything to do with rescuing Gardiner, and stoutly maintained that Fogg
had bought his release by giving Hosie 50 to let him go. So indignant
was the bushranger at the charge made against him that from his hiding
place in the Abercrombie he wrote a letter to the "Bathurst Free Press",
emphatically denying it. This was dated "Fish River, September 4th,
1861", and ran as follows:-

To the Editor of the "Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal."

Sir,--You will no doubt be surprised to receive a note from the (now by
all account) noted Piesley; but, sir, through your valuable paper I must
make it known that, if it be my lot to be taken, whether dead or alive,
I will never be tried for the rescue of Gardiner, in the light in which
it is represented; nor did I ever fire at Trooper Hosie. And such I wish
to be known, that it is in my power to prove what I here assert, and
that beyond a doubt. I am no doubt a desperado in the eyes of the law,
but never, in no instance, did I ever use violence, nor did I ever use
rudeness to any of the fair sex, and I must certainly be the Invisible
Prince to commit one-tenth of what is laid to my charge. And, sir, I beg
to state that it is through persons in high positions that I now make
this assertion, and I trust I may never have to allude to it again. I
love my native hills, I love freedom and detest cruelty to man or beast.
Trusting you will publish this, my bold letter no doubt, but you can be
assured it comes from the real John Piesley, and not any of his many

I am, Mr. Editor, your much harassed writer, JOHN PIESLEY.

Piesley felt so deeply on the subject that he reiterated his denial when
on the scaffold in Bathurst Gaol in April of the following year, while
the hangman was standing by.

In the latter part of 1860 the mail coach was being leisurely driven on
its way from Gundagai to Yass, having only the mail bags and a few
parcels "on board", when the driver was startled out of a deep reverie
by hearing a sudden and peremptory demand to "pull up." He obeyed with
alacrity, and on looking in the direction from which the voice had
proceeded saw two mounted men, with firearms presented towards him. One
of them went to the heads of the horses while the other called upon the
driver to dismount. This order he also obeyed, and was promptly covered
by a pistol, while the other robber lifted the bags out of the coach and
strapped them on his horse. Having secured all they wanted--the bag
containing newspapers was cast aside--the bushrangers told the driver he
could resume his seat, and while he was gathering up the reins they rode
off with their booty. The description of one of them answered to that of
Piesley, and the impression that he and a mate of his were the robbers
was strengthened when the driver described the horses they were riding
as "upstanding bays." As soon as the local police were informed, they
started out in pursuit, but the robbers had vanished from the locality,
carrying the bags and their contents away with them.

A few days afterwards the two men on bay horses were heard of as
"keeping the road" between Lambing Flat (or Burrangong) and Cowra, which
at that time was alive with travellers on their road to the "diggings"
or returning. For a couple of days they robbed all and sundry who
chanced to come within hailing distance. Even bullock drivers were
"bailed up" and made to hand over whatever money they had. One of these
drivers, who was returning from the Flat with his empty dray after
having delivered a load of goods in that then thriving canvas township,
was eased of all his earnings most unceremoniously. Carrying in those
days was a lucrative employment, and not a few cases could be cited of
men, now wealthy, who laid the foundation of their fortunes as
hard-working teamsters. This man had 47 in his pocket, every penny of
which he was compelled to hand over. Leaving him to his sorrowful
meditations the robbers passed on, and next came across a company of six
men bound for the diggings with swags on their backs. Piesley stood
guard over them with levelled revolver while his companion made each in
turn empty his pockets, getting about 10 between them. On the same day
a solitary straggler, the whole of whose wealth in money consisted of
eighteen pence, was also stopped, and the robbers took from him every
copper. Another teamster returning with his empty dray to Bathurst had a
narrow escape of losing his money. He had earned between 40 and 50 on
the trip, and this he wrapped up in the folds of an old comforter which
he wore round his neck. When the bushrangers demanded his money he
handed over the loose silver which he had in his pockets, protesting
that he had no other money, and they did not dream of searching the
greasy looking woollen wrap which protected his throat.

One traveller, who was on his road home to the Bathurst district,
escaped their clutches, and made the best use of his escape. Meeting the
coach, which was crowded with passengers for the Flat, he gave warning
that bushrangers were about, and the passengers at once set about
secreting their money and valuables under the seats and in other parts
of the vehicle; but they were not molested on that journey--perhaps
because in number they looked too formidable. For four days the two men
pursued their work of "bailing up", and then the police arrived upon the
scene--as usual, just a day too late.*

[* At this time only one constable and two troopers were stationed at
Cowra, and had all their work cut out for them in a locality about which
gathered some of the worst classes of the colonies on their way to the

They now made back by the old Lachlan road for the Abercrombie, where
one of them at least had relatives, sympathisers and friends. On their
way they called at Cheshire's Inn, near Caloola, for drinks, and at
night revisited the house and bailed up the inmates, while one of the
party searched the premises in quest of spoil. From some diggers they
took two revolvers; from a Mr. Paton, who had 17, but managed to drop
15 of the amount whilst being led from the kitchen to the front part of
the house, they got a poor 2. Another person was there who, it had been
reported, wanted a wife. The robbers took two shillings from him, but
learning who it was, they gave him his money back again, saying that as
he wanted a wife they would not deprive him of the means of obtaining
one. He said he did not want a wife, but he would like a piece of the
liquorice that had been taken from one of the party; the rogue who had
possession of the article referred to, immediately cut it up and
distributed it among the company. The robbers then shouted for all
hands, paid the score, and took their departure. There were no police in
the locality to disturb the roadmen, and some days elapsed before the
police in the Tuena district heard that Piesley was again in the

But while the news was travelling the bushrangers were travelling also.
They had cut across country to the southern side and caused a sensation
by "sticking up" the mail between Gundagai and Yass, choosing a dark
night for the purpose. They had compelled the driver to dismount from
his seat and stand at the roadside with the passengers, and were in the
act of ripping open the mail bags to search for money letters, when some
police rode up, on their way to the station at Yass. As soon as the
bushrangers discovered that the horsemen approaching were not ordinary
travellers they abandoned their spoil, mounted their horses, and beat a
hasty retreat into the bush. The astonished troopers at once took in the
position and gave chase, but police horses never yet have proved a match
for bushrangers' steeds, and the robbers got clean away.

Several highway robberies were committed on the Goulburn road during the
next few days, and then the men appear to have made back for a "spell"
among the Abercrombie Ranges. They certainly needed a spell, if they
were concerned in all the robberies about this time which the public put
down to them. Here is one, for instance:-

Between three and four o'clock, two men named Charles Blatner and George
Jones, when about two miles on this side of Paddy's River, on their way
to Goulburn, were set upon by three men armed with revolvers and en
masque. The tallest of the three called out to the travellers "to stand
and strip", and forced them to take off every stitch of clothing. The
highwaymen then proceeded to possess themselves of the money of their
victims, amounting to about 19, being 12 in notes, 5 in gold, and the
rest in silver. The robbers being apparently satisfied with their booty,
returned the travellers 15s and decamped. The highwaymen are thus
described by Blatner and Jones:- One was about 5 ft. 10 in. in height,
with blue shirt, moleskin trousers, cabbage tree hat, and Napoleon
boots; the other two were about 5 ft. 8 in., and wore the same dress,
viz., blue shirt, moleskin trousers, and Californian hat.

Within a fortnight the "Bathurst Free Press" contained the following

Robberies have now become of such every day occurrence that we are
surprised when a day passes without hearing that something fresh has
occurred. On Friday last as two Chinamen were proceeding from this place
to the Abercrombie they were stopped by three mounted highwaymen who
robbed them of 12 in gold, two horses, two new saddles, and a new coat.
On the following day as a party of diggers and their wives were coming
from the Lambing Flat, they were stopped near the Sheet of Bark by three
armed men, who placed the whole of them under tribute, and then
compelled one poor fellow to strip, and took three 10 notes from him
which he was taking to his wife and family. A man named James Newsome
was sentenced to six months' imprisonment for a robbery at Marooney's
inn. On Sunday last as a number of Chinamen were proceeding from the
Abercrombie to the Lambing Flat, four mounted men attempted to stop them
for the purpose of robbing them; but the Chinamen fired at them and the
rogues made a hasty retreat. We also heard of several other robberies,
but have not as yet heard the particulars, and although our constables
are always on the alert they have not as yet been able to apprehend any
of these bushrangers, and we are much afraid that it will require some
determined steps to be taken by the Government before they are captured.

A few days afterwards the following appeared in
the same paper:-

On the night of Friday, the 23rd inst., Mr. Charles Bell, storekeeper at
Back Creek, received an unpleasant and unceremonious visit from two of
the bushranging fraternity. It appears that Mr. Bell is in the habit of
purchasing small parcels of gold from the diggers in that locality, and
he visits Bathurst weekly for the purpose of turning his purchase into
cash. On the day named Mr. Bell had been into Bathurst, and it is
supposed that the villains knew he had brought home some money. About 10
o'clock p.m. just before retiring to bed. Bell went to the door where he
was met by two men, disguised by wearing red comforters around their
throats and faces, and each of them armed with a revolver. The men
presented the revolvers at Bell's head, and marched him into one of the
rooms, where he was ordered to stay while they went into the bedroom to
search for the money. Mrs. Bell was in bed, but they told her not to be
alarmed as they would not injure her. Having found the cash box in one
of the drawers they at once decamped with their booty. Early the next
morning Mr. Bell proceeded to Mr. Keightley's at Pye's station, and
obtained the assistance of two troopers, who returned with him to Back
Creek. Close by were discovered the tracks of three horses, which tracks
were followed to a barn of Mr. E. Golsby's, where the cashbox and
certain promissory notes, cheques, and receipts for cash were found. It
is evident that the villains having obtained the cash box went to this
barn and struck a light (some matches were found on the spot) and
divided the spoil, leaving the box and papers which were of no use to
them to be reclaimed by Mr. Bell. Three men who had been working for Mr.
Golsby for a short period were not to be found next day, nor have they
been since. The troopers endeavored to get on the tracks of the
villains, but we believe they have not succeeded in capturing them.

About this time a proclamation appeared in the "Government Gazette",
offering a reward of 100 to any person who should within six months
from that date give such information as would lead to the apprehension
and conviction of Piesley; and also a reward of 50 for the apprehension
and conviction of the other offenders associated with him.

All this had happened before Gardiner's rescue from Hosie, and Gardiner
had been already named as one of Piesley's companions. That they were at
this time acting in concert there can be no doubt, although they were
not always together.

Shortly after the publication of the Government proclamation offering a
reward, Piesley and his mates again shifted quarters--from the
Abercrombie to Carcoar, from Carcoar to Cowra, from Cowra to Lambing
Flat. They devoted one day to the road between Carcoar and Bathurst, and
stopped and robbed seven or eight persons on a lonely part of that
highway. Mr. Dooley, a butcher of Carcoar, had a narrow escape from
something worse than robbery. He was on his way to Bathurst to purchase
cattle, and for this purpose carried with him a considerable amount of
money. When nearing the top of "The Mount" he was accosted by three men,
one of whom asked him for some tobacco, and while he was in the act of
taking some out of his pocket, the men revealed themselves to him in
their true character and demanded his money. But Dooley could not see
any virtue in this method of dealing, and without a word put spurs to
his horse--he was fortunately well mounted--and galloped down the hill.
The men pursued, one of them firing at the fugitive to check his flight.
The bullet passed through the horse's ear, but Dooley escaped unhurt,
outdistanced his pursuers, and kept up speed until he reached Bathurst,
when he at once gave information to the police, who rode "up the hill
and down again", with the usual result. While the troopers were scouring
the bush in the locality where the robberies had taken place, Piesley,
Gardiner, and the unknown were speeding towards Cowra, and the Bathurst
newspaper of the day was saying--"Truly we live in troublous times, and
unless some steps are taken to arrest these daylight marauders, and put
a stop to their proceedings, it will very shortly be unsafe to travel
any distance from the town."

The "daylight marauders" were not arrested, however, neither was a stop
put to their proceedings. A few days afterwards the Cowra correspondent
of the same paper under a heading "sticking-up", said:-

I have again to record several exploits of this nature that have taken
place between Cowra and Burrangong. One occurred at Bang Bang. Three
men--two of whom were mounted, the third on foot--stuck up a poor
fellow, robbing him of his blankets, tea, sugar, and 36s, all the money
he had. The same day another man was served the same way, and 33 taken
from him. A few days afterwards, a hut near Bland was attempted. One or
two men were in this hut, when the door was burst open, and the usual
salutation took place--"Stand! or your brains", &c., &c. One of the men
in the hut sang out "Take care. Gardiner, what you are about, for I am
armed!" "So am I", was the reply, a shot being fired on the instant. The
fire was returned, and the assailant was observed to reel back with a
stagger as if shot, and shortly after made his escape without further
molestation to the brave inmates of the hut; so you see, as I said in my
last communication, the folks out that way (Bland) are not to be trifled
with. Our six police left Cowra last Monday, apparently with sealed
orders; when last seen they were in company out to the north-west, Cowra
astern, bearing south-east by compass; weather squally; men and horses
somewhat down in the mouth. Signals were exchanged with a stockman bound
to Cowra, and the convoy spoke the Condobolin mailman, two days out all

The bushrangers now appear to have made a retreat in the Weddin
Mountain--a place which subsequently became famous as the hiding place
of the escort robbers, and the resort of Gardiner, Gilbert, Hall & Co.,
whose exploits will be fully narrated in chapters to follow. Here a
fourth man joined the gang, probably Johnny Gilbert; and it was from
this point that the full tide of bushranging set in. One morning,
shortly after the affair at Bang Bang, a messenger rode into Cowra and
reported that the bushrangers were out in the neighbourhood of Bogolong
and Wheogo, there being four in the gang. They had bailed up and robbed
McGuire's station at the Pinnacle, near Forbes, taking all the money
they could find, stripping the men about the place, and dragging them in
that condition two miles into the bush. Another man they stopped on the
road, stripping him also, and leaving him in that state.

After this, Piesley separated himself from the gang and started to
revisit his old haunts at the Abercrombie; but he could not resist the
temptation, even when alone, to indulge his freebooting inclinations.
Single handed he stopped the Lambing Flat coach early one morning,
shortly after it had started from Cowra. There were eight passengers in
the coach, three of whom were females, and about three miles from Cowra
on the Carcoar side, Piesley, mounted and armed, and with a piece of
crape over his face, rode up to the coach, and presenting a revolver,
called upon the coachman to pull up or he would make him. The highwayman
immediately jumped off his horse, which he left standing in the road,
saying--"You see he is used to this sort of work"; he then called upon
Mr. Minehan, of Bathurst, who was one of the passengers, to leave the
coach and deliver up his cash. Mr. M. fortunately dropped his money in
the coach, and the robber found only a few shillings upon his person,
which were speedily appropriated. The other passengers were invited to
follow the example of Mr. Minehan, and were ordered to "shell out",
which they did, to the amount of about 15 between them. The robber (lid
not attempt in any way to interfere with the females, but with his
revolver presented and with his finger upon the trigger, told the male
passengers they were to deliver up all they had, or if he found anything
upon them afterwards he would make it a caution to them. He ordered Mr.
Ford, one of the coach proprietors who was present at the time, to
deliver up the mail bags, which order being complied with, he asked Mr.
T. Cummings, another passenger, for a knife, with which he soon opened
the bags, and selecting such letters as he deemed valuable he left the
rest to be gathered up by the coachman whilst he made his escape. One of
the parcels thrown aside from the mail bag as useless contained a large
sum of money addressed to a gentleman in Carcoar, and several of the
passengers managed effectually to secrete their cash and valuables
either in the coach or upon their own persons. The highwayman gave back
some silver to some of the passengers to assist them in paying their
expenses on the road.

"The passengers had no arms," said Taylor, the coachman, afterwards,
"and did not make any resistance; one of the passengers said that it
would have been very easy for them to disarm him, but they did not
attempt it." The police superintendent, who was at Carcoar, with all the
available troopers and constables, started out to catch the robber, but
they had their trouble for nothing. Piesley had made his way past
Carcoar and was again among the Abercrombie Ranges, where he evidently
intended to remain quiet for a time.

And now we come to the crowning act of this wretched man's life.

On 27th December, 1861, after having spent Christmas with some relatives
in the locality, Piesley picked up an old acquaintance named James
Wilson, who kept a store on the Abercrombie, and went with him to
McGuinness' public house at Bigga, where they remained all night
drinking pretty freely. Next morning, with a bottle of liquor each,
Piesley and Wilson started away to a farm kept by a man named Benyon, at
no great distance from Bigga. Between 9 and 10 o'clock in the morning,
when the men at the farm were busy with the harvest, they rode up to the
house and asked for Benyon; Mrs. Benyon directed them to the barn, first
supplying them with something to drink, and learning from Wilson that
his companion--about whom she was curious, doubtless through seeing him
carrying firearms--was a stranger in the district.

The whole party spent the morning amicably together, but about dinner
time Piesley challenged Benyon to run, jump, or fight him for 10, and
then tried to provoke him to fight. During dinner time he said, "I have
a down on you, Benyon; when I was a kid, 17 years ago, you swopped a
horse with me which was no good, but I am no kid now." This talk
naturally led to a rough-and-tumble fight between the bushranger,
Benyon, and Benyon's brother Stephen; and a little later in the
afternoon Piesley was seen galloping off to the barn, where the Benyons
had gone to work. In the skirmish which followed Stephen Benyon got a
bullet in his arm, and the master of the house was shot through the
throat and spine.

The strange part of the affair is that none of the men about the place
attempted to arrest Piesley, although they saw that poor Benyon had
received his death wound. The murderer stayed in the house for a couple
of hours afterwards, "looking at Mr. Benyon," said the poor wife
afterwards, "with a revolver in each hand." There were ten reapers on
the farm, and not one stirred a finger against Piesley. His victim
lingered for six days, much to the surprise of his medical attendant,
and then died in great agony.

Meanwhile Piesley had disappeared from the locality, knowing the police
would now pursue him with renewed vigour. And so they did, but all their
watching and tracking was of no avail. He had "cleared out" of the
district, and nothing was heard of him for a month. Then came the
welcome news that he had been captured at Tarcutta, in the Wagga Wagga
district, while making his way towards the border, with the intention of
leaving the colony for good.

The following letter, written at the time by James Campbell, one of the
parties concerned in the arrest, will show exactly how the capture was
effected:- "On Wednesday night, 29th January, I was in bed reading, when
Mr. McKenzie came into my room and asked me if I knew the man in the
kitchen; I replied that I did not know him; Mr. McKenzie then said he
thought the man was a bushranger, and would like to have him taken. I
said I was no constable, on which Mr. McKenzie said he could act as a
constable on his own premises, and that he thought the man was Piesley.
As soon as I heard him say that it was Piesley, I got up and dressed
myself, and went inside the house. In the passage between it and the
kitchen, it was arranged how we were to take the man. Mr. Beveridge was
to rush on to him, and I was to take the revolver from his hand; Mr.
McKenzie was to stop inside the door with a revolver in case of danger.
Mr. McKenzie told me he had seen a revolver with the man in the evening,
stuck in the waistband of his trousers, but it turned out to be a
pistol, capped. When we went into the kitchen, Piesley was having his
tea, and a man was lying drunk beside him, nearer the door. Piesley
caught hold of the man and shook him, and asked him if he was going to
sleep all night, telling him to get something to eat and he would be all
right; the man said 'Who is that?' when Piesley replied, 'It is me.' The
man said 'He is a ---- rogue', on which Piesley asked 'Who?' the man
replied 'Why he who came in the evening with the bay horse.' Piesley
replied, 'Is that it, you ---- dog; would you come it?' The man then got
up off the form and challenged Piesley to fight for a pound. I found out
afterwards that the man had been at work for Mr. Beveridge. He pulled
out eight shillings, on which Piesley said 'you ---- dog, do you know how
you came by that money? Did I not give you a pound this evening, and now
you are going to turn on me; you would hang a man.' Mr. Beveridge heard
some conversation between them in the evening, and we were in hopes that
they would quarrel and fight. Had they done so, a good opportunity would
have been afforded to take Piesley. I began to get tired while they were
wrangling, and sat down on the form beside Piesley, thinking about the
safest way to catch him. He had his left hand on the table, and was
lifting the cup of tea to his mouth, when I put my two arms under his
arms, and getting my hands together, at the back of his, bent his head
downwards and cocked his arms out. Mr. McKenzie and Mr. Beveridge then
rushed on him. I told them to take the revolver from him, and Mr.
McKenzie put the handcuffs on him, and he was thus secured."

Piesley was now handed over to the police, brought under a strong escort
by a long and wearisome road to Carcoar, where he was charged before the
local magistrates with the murder of William Benyon, and by them
committed for trial to the Bathurst Assize Court. The news of his arrest
spread through the country like wildfire, and people assembled at
different points where he was expected to pass, all anxious to see the
man to whose charge so many outrages on the road had been laid, and who
had been the associate of Gardiner.

He was tried on March 13th, 1862, and found guilty. On the scaffold,
twelve days later, he tried to give his own account of the murder,
asserting that they were all drunk together, and Benyon was the provoker
of the whole quarrel. With reference to the charge which had been made
against him, of being concerned in the rescue of Gardiner from the hand
of the police, he called God to witness, that the charge was utterly
groundless, as he was not near the spot on that occasion. He knew that
Fogg had promised Hosie 50 if he would let Gardiner go free, and the
money being made up, the sum of 50 10s was given by Fogg. Among the
money paid to Hosie was a cheque for 2 10s, and that was the reason of
his receiving 10s over the 50.



After his escape from trooper Hosie on the Fish River Gardiner
reappeared in the neighbourhood of Burrangong, and engaged with Piesley
and others in the congenial employment of "sticking-up" travellers and

After Piesley had returned to the Abercrombie, Gardiner appears to have
sought and found other and less restless followers in the Burrangong
district, which became a hot-bed of bushranging. The following letter,
written by Mr. Robert S. Stevens, of Marengo, and countersigned by
fifteen other residents in the district, will show the state of the
country about this time:- "I am the national school teacher of Marengo.
My wife and family are in a distant part of the colony. I require the
professional services of my wife, yet I am afraid to send for her
because the schoolhouse is in an isolated position, and we have no
police protection. This neighbourhood is infested with disreputable
characters--from the petty larceny vagabond up to the ruffianly
bushranger. Within the last three months no less than twenty robberies
have been committed. About seven weeks ago the Plough Inn and Mr.
Hancock's stables were broken into, and four saddles stolen; directly
afterwards Mr. Kelly's house was entered by four armed bushrangers, the
family tied back to back, and the place plundered. The primary cause of
the death of our respected townsman, Mr. Thomas Robinson, was a burglary
in his stable. About a month since, Mr. M. Scanlan was stuck up, fired
upon, and escaped only through the fleetness of his horse; fourteen days
ago the store of the relict of the late Thomas Robinson was
burglariously entered and plundered of property to the value of seventy
pounds sterling. Strong suspicions were entertained of two parties, but
having no police protection within seventeen miles, the spoil was
disposed of before we could obtain their assistance. Last Sunday night a
burglary was perpetrated in Mr. Fowler's hotel, and all the inmates
robbed and ill-treated. In every one of these cases the guilty parties
have never been detected."

It soon became evident that Gardiner and his associates were operating
in "flying squads", each squad making a certain part of the district its
centre of operations for a short time and then suddenly appearing in
another part. It was only occasionally that the full body came together,
but when they did the report of some bold and dashing raid was sure to

One of the most daring robberies in which Gardiner was personally
engaged was on the road near Big Wombat, in the district of Young, when
he stuck up Mr. Alfred Horsington and robbed him of 253 ounces of gold
and 145 in money. Horsington was a digger and a storekeeper at Lambing
Flat, and was proceeding from Little Wombat to the Flat in a spring cart
on 10th March, 1862, his wife and a boy named De Burgh being in the
vehicle with him and a Mr. Hewitt, another Flat storekeeper, riding on
horseback behind. The boy was driving, as Horsington was suffering from
a broken leg. They had not proceeded very far on the road--it was not
yet half-past lo in the morning--when Gardiner and three other
bushrangers, Gilbert, O'Meally, and McGuinness, rode up, presented their
revolvers, and ordered the party to "bail up." At the same time a shot
was fired by one of the men, and Mrs. Horsington declared that she heard
the bullet whistle past her head. Horsington had known Gardiner when he
was keeping the butcher's shop with Fogg at Spring Creek, and as none of
the bushrangers were disguised in any way he had no difficulty in
recognising them; in fact, he said he knew who they were before they
came within fifty yards of the cart, but there was no possibility of
escape. Gardiner caught the reins of Hewitt's horse, while his
companions surrounded the vehicle, and at a word of command from the
leader a start was made into the bush, one of the men riding in front
and one on each side of the cart, while Gardiner conducted Hewitt. About
half a mile away, at a convenient spot in the bush, a halt was called
and the captives were told to dismount. While the three men kept their
victims covered with revolvers, Gardiner personally did the searching,
and very little time elapsed before the gold and notes--representing in
all nearly 1000--were transferred from the owner's pocket into his.
Gardiner then proceeded to search Mrs. Horsington, excusing his
ungallant work on the ground that ladies were sometimes fond of planting
money. Mrs. Horsington, however, had only a 1 note. "You may want
that," said Gardiner, "and you can keep it." "Thank you for nothing",
said the lady, who knew what he had got from her husband.

From Hewitt also Gardiner took some notes and gold, which were in a
valise on his saddle. One of the other bushrangers subsequently took the
saddle, valise and riding whip, and the horse was only left because it
was badly bred. Horsington's horse was also left to him, because of his
broken leg; but they made the boy take it out of the shafts and
unharness it; to prevent speedy pursuit. "I hope you'll have another
load for me next time you come along", said Gardiner, and the
bushrangers rode off with their booty.

When the police at Lambing Flat heard of this exploit they at once set
out to scour the country, but, as usual, their search for the robbers
was futile. It was one of the most successful raids that had yet been
made, and it was generally believed that instead of satisfying the
robbers the large haul which they had made would have the effect of
sharpening their appetites. Those who had gold dust or money in any
quantity became naturally very much alarmed. And that belief was
confirmed and that alarm was intensified by an exploit which made the
colony ring with its record from one end to the other--an exploit which
cast into the shade even the road outrages of the most notorious
banditti of the olden time.

To say the town of Forbes--then in the height of its popularity as the
chief centre of the Lachlan goldfields--was thrown into a state of the
greatest consternation, when on the night of Sunday, June 15th, 1862, a
mounted messenger brought the news that the gold escort had been
"stuck-up" and robbed by bushrangers on the road near Eugowra, conveys
but a feeble idea of the effect created by the startling intelligence.
The news was first taken to the police camp, but soon spread from one
end of the diggings to the other; and before many hours had elapsed the
thousands of gold-seekers and those who lived by them and on them were
engaged in the discussion of one absorbing topic, each being anxious to
learn if his neighbour knew more than himself, and each speculating in
his own way whether the police would manage even to find out who the
bushrangers were and where they had gone to.

The gold escort was instituted shortly after the discovery of gold. The
necessity for making special provision to convey the precious metal
safely from the goldfields to Sydney was apparent to the authorities
even before any pronounced case of bushranging had taken place. The
individual digger very rarely kept the treasure which he had succeeded
in winning from his "claim", whether that treasure could be weighed in
ounces or in pounds or in hundredweights; almost invariably he sold it,
either to peripatetic buyers who made it their profitable business to
give coin or notes for gold dust and nuggets, or to the banks, who
purchased, also with an eye to profit, in order to forward the precious
metal to headquarters in Sydney. The banks also undertook to transmit
gold for depositors, whether diggers or buyers. The gold thus
accumulated was, of course, not sent by ordinary conveyance along the
road at irregular and uncertain intervals; packed in strong boxes and
safely sealed, it was handed over to a properly constituted escort of
police, who placed it in the mail coach and guarded it all the way from
the diggings to the metropolis. The escort travelled on fixed days,
generally once a week.

On the morning of the 15th June, the four-horse covered mail coach was
drawn up at the police camp at Forbes, and four iron boxes containing
gold and bank notes amounting to about 14,000 in value, were safely
placed therein.

Sergeant Condell was ordered to take charge of the escort on this
occasion, the large quantity of gold that was being obtained rendering a
weekly escort necessary. Everything having been set in order the coach
started, driven by John Fagan, one of the best-known drivers on the
western line, who is now, by-the-way, a wealthy squatter in the Carcoar
district, where most of his life has been spent. Besides the driver and
Sergeant Condell there were on the escort Senior-constable Moran,
Constable Haviland, and another constable--five in all.

The treasure on board was made up as follows: For the Oriental Bank,
700 in cash and 2067 oz. 18 dwts. gold; for the Bank of New South
Wales, 521 oz. 13 dwts. 6 grs. of gold; for the Commercial Bank, 3000
in cash and 129 oz. 18 dwts. gold; altogether 2719 oz. 9 dwts. 6 grs.
gold and 3700 cash. In addition to this treasure there was a very heavy
mail, containing many registered letters. This was a small escort, large
though the amount of treasure may appear. The gold sent down by the
previous week's escort from the Lachlan goldfields amounted in value to
34,000. And the fact that the attack was made when a comparatively
small amount was "on board" seemed to indicate that the robbers had
nothing like an organised or well-designed plan, but rather acted
without preparation. The police authorities found in this something upon
which to build hopes of being able to run them down speedily, judging
that those who had not carefully organised an attack would not be likely
to lay any elaborate plans for eluding their pursuers.

The escort started from Forbes at about noon, with Sergeant Condell on
the box beside the driver and the three constables in the coach. During
the five hours consumed between Forbes and Toogong--27 or 28
miles--nothing occurred to warn the party of impending danger. But near
Mr. Clements' station two or three bullock teams were drawn up in the
roadway; as this was not altogether a strange sight, very little thought
was given to it until the coach came quite close to the spot. It was
then seen that there was only a small passage left between the
obstructing teams and a huge mass of broken, perpendicular rocks which
jutted overhead at this particular pass. Even now the escort never
suspected a design to attack the coach, although the driver had to bring
his horses to a walk to steer in safety between the drays and the rocks.
While the horses were thus quietly walking and the constables no doubt
enjoying a more comfortable chat, the jolting of the coach not
interfering with smooth thought or conversation, suddenly there was an
alarm, and all became confusion.

Six men, with blackened faces, each wearing a red serge shirt and red
"comforter" on his head in the shape of a night-cap, showed themselves
from behind a breastwork of rock. "Fire!" cried one, and a volley
crashed into the coach and its occupants. The sergeant was wounded in
the side by one bullet, another bullet was supposed to have gone through
the driver's hat, and a third penetrated Constable Moran's groin.

Confusion and consternation reigned at once. The attack had been so
unexpected and so forcible that the escort was completely unnerved, and
could not handle their own firearms promptly. No sooner had the six men
emptied their revolvers, then they fell back with military precision,
and were replaced by other six, who fired and fell back in the same way.
After the first fire there was no one on the box seat of the coach, for
Fagan had jumped down and was holding the reins as the horses walked
slowly on, while Condell also was on terra firma. He subsequently
declared that the bullet knocked him off his seat.

The second volley roused the constables to action. Those inside the
coach had a very narrow escape, their clothes being pierced in several
places, though they themselves sustained only trifling flesh wounds.
Moran and Haviland now discharged their carbines at the bushrangers, but
their aim was not of the truest, and no damage was done; the firing
frightened the horses, they bolted, and in an instant the coach had
capsized, and driver and police had disappeared in the bush. At once the
bushrangers ran forward with a cheer.

To seize the boxes containing the gold and to cut open the most
promising-looking of the mail bags was the work of a few moments; and
while the late escort was making its way towards Clements' station, the
bushrangers were preparing to decamp with their treasure loaded on the
two leading coach horses.

Mr. Clements was in his paddock when the attack was made, and on hearing
the firing he immediately galloped over. Meeting Fagan he learned what
had taken place, and while the coach-driver sought shelter at the house,
Clements went forward, expecting to come across the dead bodies of the
constables, who had, so Fagan said, all been killed. He shortly
afterwards met Sergeant Condell limping towards the place, and he said
he thought the others had been killed; but just then they saw Moran and
Haviland at the top of the paddock. Mr. Clements at once rode forward
and brought them down; and, the party having been housed, he started
immediately for Forbes to carry intelligence of the affair to Sir
Frederick Pottinger, the head of police at the diggings, riding at the
rate of about ten miles an hour through the dark and on a very bad road.

Meanwhile the bushrangers had made good use of their opportunities, and
were pushing their way with all speed over rough country towards the
spot they had selected for a camp--about three miles distant and on the
opposite side of a lofty ridge.

The bullock-drivers, whose teams had been used by the bushrangers to
block the road, had been kept there in waiting for two hours before the
coach reached the spot, and after having been treated to some grog had
been compelled to lie on their faces some distance off and preserve
absolute silence. They were graciously told that they could resume their
journey after the police had been put to flight and the gold secured.

As soon as the news reached Forbes, Sir F. Pottinger gathered all his
available force and prepared to search for the bushrangers. At 2 o'clock
on Monday morning he reached Mr. Clements' station, with eleven
troopers, two black trackers, and several civilian volunteers. The
blacks picked up the tracks without delay, and shortly after daylight
reached the spot where the bushrangers had camped. The embers of their
fire were still burning, and the fag-ends of their red shirts and
comforters were found therein, the articles having been destroyed to
prevent their being used in evidence against the wearers. The men
themselves, of course, were gone long before, and the tracks made by
their horses indicated that they were making for the Weddin Mountains.

The mailbags were found empty, but, strange to say, many of the
registered letters remained untouched.

The broken boxes, bags, letters and newspapers scattered about were
gathered up and brought back to Clements' station; two of the horses and
the coach were recovered, the broken escort and the empty shells were
again sent on their journey, arriving in Orange about 7 o'clock on
Monday evening. News of the attack had reached Orange some hours
before--and the excitement was intensified by a tragedy that occurred
immediately after the escort's arrival, the victim being one of the

Having delivered the mailbags to the Orange Postmaster, by command of
his superior officer. Constable Haviland re-entered the coach with the
others and proceeded in the direction of Dalton's inn, where the escort
usually put up. Sergeant Condell was seated on the box, and Moran and
Haviland, with a male and female passenger who had come down from
Clements', occupied places in the coach. About half way between the Post
Office and Dalton's the report of a revolver was heard, and his fellow
travellers saw that Haviland had been shot.

"My God!" said the woman passenger, "the man is shot!" and stretching
her hand across felt the blood pouring out from the unfortunate man's
chest. Her companion caught him by the coat and held him up till the
coach stopped at the hotel door, when he was lifted out dead. It seems
that he had put a loaded and capped revolver under the seat he was
sitting on, and was picking it up in readiness to leave the coach at
Dalton's when, by some mischance, it went off and shot him through the
throat and spine.

Some have thought that he took his life voluntarily, through
disappointment and the fear of being laughed at by his companions, for
having no wound to show from the attack; but those who knew him were
vigorous in their efforts to repel the insinuation of suicide, and there
can be very little doubt that the sad event was a pure accident.

Within a few days every newspaper in the colony had published an account
of the daring exploit of Gardiner and his gang; for the public took it
for granted that Gardiner was the leader, while the authorities made no
secret of the fact that they were in possession of proof indisputable
that the ex-butcher of Lambing Flat was the man who gave the order to
the other bushrangers to fire. Sergeant Condell, in his official report,
dated June 23rd, said "The bushrangers were commanded by one man, who
gave them orders to fire and load. I believe it to have been the voice
of Gardiner, as I know his voice well. I cannot identify any of them
with the exception of the voice I heard." Who the companions of Gardiner
were was a mystery, even to the police, nor were they at all sure how
many had attacked the coach--one report giving thirteen, another twelve,
another ten, and others down to four.

Captain Brown and Mr. Gold-Commissioner Grenfell were to have left
Forbes with the escort, but owing to special instructions from
Inspector-General McLerie, they started in advance and were some miles
further on the road towards Orange when the attack was made. They,
therefore, escaped the danger, although had they been with the escort as
outriders they might have immortalised themselves and saved two men from
injury and one man from death, besides preserving the treasure that was
stolen, by attacking the bushrangers from their vantage point on
horseback. As it was they had passed through Orange on their way to
Bathurst before the news of the robbery had reached that town.

Some of the newspapers were very severe in their strictures upon the
authorities for despatching an escort without a mounted guard, at a time
when the roads were infested with daring bushrangers. The Lachlan paper,
speaking of the escort, said:- "The people of Forbes feel that these
unfortunate men have been handed over to the Philistines, as it were,
bound hand and foot, and are persuaded that if the suggestions which
have from time to time been put forth from this locality had been
adopted, the sacrifice, pecuniary or otherwise, which we are now called
upon to make, might have been prevented. The mode in which the escort
business is conducted is neither more nor less than a premium upon
crime. The coach with its four guards, cooped up in a box, containing
the precious treasures of the Lachlan, is, to all intents and purposes,
a locomotive advertisement to the vile and the criminal, to avail
themselves of a splendid harvest; and that the invitation has been
responded to is no matter of astonishment to anyone at all conversant
with the facts of the case. True to its instincts of plunder and profit,
villainy has done its best and its worst, and if it had rested in a
state of inaction, with such prospects of success, the circumstance
would have been something little else than wonderful. . . . . Of what
mortal use, pray, as a fighting body, are four men stuck in a wooden
frame, in two rows, with their firelocks in their hands, as if placed
there for the express purpose of shooting only in one direction, or of
being shot down? . . . Under such circumstances bravery is of little
avail, the assailants taking good care that the advantages shall be on
their side, both as regards number, position, and the first volley. The
mechanism of the escort requires alteration, and until it is remodelled
and strengthened, we consider neither the persons nor the property in
charge of the escort safe, after the excitement caused by the present
onslaught has subsided." This was but an echo of the strong
denunciations which sounded through the colony, and there were many
sympathisers with the remark of poor Haviland's, that he would not again
do duty as escort constable unless a mounted guard accompanied the

That the authorities heard and heeded these denunciations, may be
gathered from the following inspired paragraph which appeared in the
"Sydney Morning Herald" within a week after the robbery:-

A very large quantity of gold is accumulating in the banks at the
Lachlan, in consequence of the insufficiency of the escort guard. The
Oriental Bank alone has upwards of 13,000 ounces waiting to be forwarded
to Sydney. The Government have lost no time in taking the necessary
steps to provide an efficient escort, and they have given instructions
to the Inspector-General of Police to provide suitable vehicles, to be
built in this colony, for carrying out the object. It is intended to
have an advance and rear guard mounted. In addition to this there will
be three guards with the coachman, riding in the vehicle. The vehicles
will be so constructed that no passengers can be taken. Two of the
guards will be seated with their backs to the driver, and the other by
his side.

But not even the presence of a mounted guard was sufficient to deter
bushrangers from making an attack, when they had become emboldened by
the repeated failures of the police to capture them. In fact, it seemed
to be the height of their ambition to "stick-up" the troopers, either
singly or in company, strip them of their Government arms, and send them
back to "report progress." They would not think of taking the Government
horses, for these animals were such as no good bushranger would think of
riding. Times without number the criminals owed their escape from arrest
to the weak-kneed and bad-winded horses ridden by their pursuers; and in
straight chase it was invariably a case of reporting, "Troopers' horses
knocked-up; bushrangers escaped."

It was so in this case. Sir Frederick with his force did not tarry long
at the vacated camp, but pushed on through the bush, led by the black
trackers, who, once fairly on the scent, would undoubtedly have run the
quarry to earth if the horses had held out; but there was a break in the
chase just at the time when close following was necessary, and some of
the party had to return to Forbes to obtain fresh animals, theirs having
knocked up. These men reported that the tracks had been followed to
within a short distance of Finn's public house, within ten miles of
Forbes; but that the trackers could only make out the tracks of six
horsemen, and these had now been made difficult to follow by heavy rain
which had set in.

Meanwhile the Inspector-General had been moved to greater activity, and
inspectors and superintendents in the force stationed in other districts
were ordered out in pursuit. Mr. Superintendent Morrissett with six
troopers went from Bathurst, Captain Battye and some of his men started
from Yass, and all converged to the common centre, which had been made
the chief point of interest to every individual in the colony. As soon
as the Government had received particulars of the robbery, they caused
the following notice to be published:-



Whereas it has been represented to the Government that on the afternoon
of the 15th instant the Gold Escort from the Lachlan was attacked on the
road between Forbes and Orange by a band of armed men, said to be ten in
number, and described as dressed in red shirts, red caps, with their
faces blackened, who fired on and wounded the police forming the guard,
opened the Mail Bags and Letters and carried off a large amount of Gold
Dust and Money: Notice is hereby given that a Reward of 100 will be
paid by Government for such information as shall lead to the
Apprehension and Conviction, within six months from this date of each of
the guilty parties; and a Pardon will also be granted to any accomplice
in the above outrage who shall first give such information. CHARLES

Colonial Secretary's Office, Sydney, 17th June, 1862.

Shortly after starting. Sir Frederick had divided his party, placing
Sergeant Sanderson (now superintendent of the force at Bathurst) at the
head of four men and a black tracker, and leading the other division
himself. The sergeant was quite up to his work, and from his intimate
knowledge of the district and of the men in it who were suspected of
being bushrangers or friends of bushrangers, he was able to shape a
course that promised to be more effective than that pursued by his
superior officer. Proceeding to the river he camped with his men until
daylight appeared and then instituted a search for tracks on either side
for a distance of about 20 miles along the river's course. Not finding
tracks he was satisfied that the escort robbers had not yet crossed the
river, and he at once pushed on through the bush toward the Weddin
Mountains, a locality which he knew was resorted to by the district
banditti as a safe refuge.

Early on Thursday morning the pursuers reached Wheogo, and as they were
now in a district where bushrangers were thought more of than the
police, they became even more cautious and watchful. As they reached Ben
Hall's house, the black tracker saw a horseman coming down a ridge of
the mountain, and immediately pointed him out to the sergeant.

But as the tracker saw the horseman, the horseman saw the tracker. The
former turned upon his tracks, and in haste sped back by the way he
came. This decided the sergeant, who at once gave the order to gallop,
and away went the party, the blackfellow leading, to the spot where the
horseman had first been seen. The latter had by this time disappeared
from sight, but the tracks of his horse remained, and were followed by
the police with the utmost eagerness; for his behaviour clearly
indicated that he was either a bushranger or a "bush telegraph", or
scout; and if the latter, his trail would certainly lead to those on
whose service he was engaged. It was a keen chase and a long one, and,
to the joy of the pursuers, proved partially successful. They did not
catch the robbers, certainly, but at least compelled them to abandon a
large portion of the stolen gold.

For miles the police pressed forward, feeling the inefficiency of their
steeds, which had already done good work, for this new task, and
dreading that they would "knock-up" before the bushrangers had been
warned. Right up the high mountain they pressed for about four miles, at
one time nearly losing the track on the edge of a deep creek. They had
traced the horse to the very edge; here the tracks suddenly disappeared,
and the pursuers came to a stand, thinking that the man must have jumped
into the creek. Close search on the other side, however, showed that the
horse must have cleared the creek at a bound, for there his tracks were
again taken up; the chase was resumed with redoubled vigour, and
followed until the tracks led the party to a camp, which had evidently
just been abandoned in a great hurry. The fire was still smouldering;
there was some tea in a "billy" ready made and nicely warm, and bread
and beef just set out for the meal, not to mention empty gin and wine
bottles; while various articles of bedding"--not spring mattresses and
feather pillows, but blankets and a rug--were scattered about just as
the sleepers had thrown them off before preparing the meal which had
been so rudely disturbed. Here also was found an envelope bearing the
Burrowa postmark, and a pair of gold scales. This showed the sergeant
clearly that he was on the right track, and that at this spot the stolen
gold held been divided. Near the camp were marks showing where horses
had been tied up to trees.

It was not difficult for Charlie, the tracker, to pick up the trail and
lead his party in further pursuit, for the police did not waste time in
partaking of the meal so kindly left in readiness. Five horses had
started from the camp on the opposite side, and were found to be making
for some dense pine scrub on the west of the Weddin Mountains. The trail
was an easy one to follow, being so freshly made and consisting of the
impress of twenty hoofs; and Charlie had no need to steady his pace in
order that he might not override it. It was a case of full speed now,
and the well-ridden troop horses were called upon to do heavier duty
than usually fell to their lot; for the country was very rough and not
pleasant even for easy pacing.

This broad trail was followed for a long time, till the party entered a
dense pine scrub, and the blackfellow called out "Me see him." The
pursuers charged after, but the fellows ahead were too quick, and making
a short turn through the pines were lost to sight. In following on,
however, the police saw a riderless horse, and, thinking this might be
some ruse, separated, took what cover they could find, and captured the
horse. It turned out to be the bushrangers' pack horse, laden with a
costly treasure, some 1200 or 1500 ounces of gold. The gold was in four
bags lashed to a trooper's saddle; there were also two carbines strapped
to the saddle. From this point the tracks of only four horses were
found, and these were followed all round the Weddin till it got dark;
then the party made the best of their way to Forbes, where they arrived
on the following Saturday, and gave up the recovered treasure to the
authorities. Had their horses not been so thoroughly knocked up the
trail might have been kept longer; but they did well to secure the gold,
as it was evident there were four bushrangers, all mounted on
first-class horses; indeed, the horse that was first seen was a splendid
animal, and the creek it leaped was some twelve or fifteen feet wide.

This Weddin range was a most secure place for hiding, and had been so
used some 23 or 24 years before, when Scotchey and Witton were out. It
was said that there was a cave somewhere there which these men made use
of; and as the situation commanded the main roads to the diggings both
at Burrangong and the Lachlan, it was suggested that a police station
should be formed there.

Pottinger and his men continued the search in an opposite direction for
some 200 miles, not having heard of Sanderson's success. The tracks of
five riders and two pack horses led towards the Riverina district; and
from a point there Pottinger reported that he was still in pursuit,
believing that the robbers had made for Victoria, and had escaped across
the border on fresh horses; but as he had a black tracker with him he
felt sure that he would soon catch them. About 70 miles from Narrandera,
Messrs. Clements, Cropper, and other residents of the Lachlan district,
who had volunteered for duty in assisting to track the robbers,
abandoned the chase, leaving Pottinger and two others only to continue

That they were on the proper scent was proved to the authorities in
Sydney by a piece of news which was circulated through the medium of one
of the papers on the goldfields, in the following paragraph:-

From a gentleman who arrived in Forbes, with Cobb and Co.'s line of
coaches overland from Victoria, we learn that they met five or six
mounted men, armed, and one of them leading a pack horse, so heavily
loaded as to attract the attention of himself and one or two others who
were riding in front of the leading coach. There was something so
unusual in the style of the outfit and general appearance of the party,
that one of the Victorians who had formerly been connected with the
detective force in that colony remarked to his comrades that, if in his
former position, he should have at once proceeded to overhaul the
travellers on suspicion of something wrong; and it happened, moreover,
that the front party, armed to the teeth with rifles and revolvers,
could well afford to take such a step. As the mounted men neared the
coaches, one of them, apparently the leader, rode up to the foremost
coach, and, in an evidently disguised tone of voice, addressed a few
words to one of the party. He said as little as possible, however, and
as speedily as convenient, and with an evident desire of shrinking from
too close observation, glided onwards, and with a species of
deliberateness, which was especially remarked, looked into all the
coaches, eight in number, as he passed by, as if for the purpose of
overhauling the passengers. From the description given of the
traveller-chieftain by one of our informants, who was well qualified
from habit to note personal peculiarities, and whose eyes had evidently
taken in the whole man, we have no doubt that he had seen and spoken to
Gardiner. His height, build, complexion, demeanour, the scar on his left
eye, and other particulars were scanned, the only discrepancy being in
the beard, which had been shaven under the chin. On the following day
our travellers met Sir Frederick Pottinger and his troopers, from whom
they gleaned the first intelligence of the escort robbery, and to whom
they communicated the facts now stated. Upon their information, the
inspector and his police pressed on, and with a little good luck and
good management combined, will probably be enabled to give a good
account of the fugitives on their return.

Just about this time also the authorities awoke to the necessity of
preserving secrecy concerning the movements of gold escorts, and
solemnly commanded the sergeants in charge not to communicate to any
person the amount of treasure that they were about to convey from the

On July 7th, after being three weeks on the hunt, Sir Frederick
Pottinger's hopes were raised to the highest pitch by an adventure on
the road near Narrandera with a party of travellers. The two gentlemen
remaining with him were Mr. Mitchell, who had served as C.P.S. at
Forbes, and Detective Lyons. After the other volunteers had departed
these three still followed up the tracks, making inquiries on their
route at several stations until they reached Hay. Here they came to the
conclusion that it was useless to follow that course any further, and
resolved to retrace their steps, although they were still tolerably
certain that a section of the robbers had crossed the border into
Victoria with part of the booty. On Monday, 30th June, therefore, they
turned back, and on the following Monday had just left the Merool
Station, where they had called for refreshment, when, about half-past
one o'clock, and just as they had lost sight of the place, they met
three well-dressed young fellows, booted and spurred, with close-fitting
breeches, turndown collars, and cabbage-tree hats, all well mounted and
leading three horses.

Mr. Mitchell, who first addressed them, asked how far they had come, and
was answered that they had left Lambing Flat three days before. As they
appeared anxious to push on, Mr. Mitchell returned with them until they
met Sir Frederick, who was about 200 yards behind. "By-the-bye," said
Sir Frederick, "that's a good horse you are riding; can you show a
receipt for him?" "Oh, yes," said the man addressed, "here's a receipt."
At the same time he let go the horse he was leading and put his hand
into his waistcoat pocket, as though searching for the receipt; but all
the while he kept edging his horse round to get on the other side of his
interlocutor, and followed up the packhorse, which was heading off the
road. Suddenly he seized the halter of the pack horse, put spurs to his
own horse, and galloped off into the bush at top speed. Sir Frederick,
who had observed the whole movement with suspicion, signalled to Mr.
Mitchell, and they simultaneously drew their revolvers and called upon
the two men remaining to stand, declaring that if they moved an inch
they would send a bullet into them.

The two stood still, and Detective Lyons rode up and at once secured
them with handcuffs. On one of the prisoners, who gave his name as
Charles Darcey, or Dacey, the sum of 2 15s was found; on the other, who
called himself Henry Turner, 153, in which there were no notes of the
Commercial Bank. Upon the horse which Turner was leading a small sack
was found, which contained no less than 213 ounces of gold.

The police had made a "haul", even if the men could not be proved escort
robbers; and in much jubilation Sir Frederick took the prisoners back to
the station which he had just left and sent word of what had happened to
Deniliquin, Wagga Wagga, and Sydney.

On the following morning a start was made with the prisoners towards
Forbes, some 150 miles distant. They were very communicative, and did
not appear to be much put about by their arrest. Turner said that the
man who had bolted carried the firearms, two loaded revolvers, and that
they had made him cashier. The march was continued all that day and the
next (Wednesday) until about one o'clock, when the party reached Mr.
Sprowle's station, on the Levels. Detective Lyons was in advance,
conducting the prisoners, both manacled, and with their horses (now even
worse than those ridden by their captors) tackled together. Sir
Frederick and Mr. Mitchell followed, about ten or a dozen yards in the
rear. Suddenly three men on foot, with red skull caps and faces
blackened, and armed with double-barrelled guns, emerged from the bush
in front of Lyons, and shouting "Bail up, you ----", immediately fired
upon him. The shot took effect in the horse's neck; the animal reared
and threw Lyons, who was trying to get at his revolver. It then bolted
into the bush, Lyons following it, minus his revolver, and under the
fire of the rescuers. Simultaneously with this attack four other
ruffians wheeled out of ambuscade, with military precision, in front of
Pottinger and Mitchell, and fired at them, the leader shouting "I know
you, you ---- Pottinger; I'll put a pill through you, you ----." Both
Pottinger and Mitchell fired in return two or three shots, but the odds
against them were too large, for the bushrangers, in addition to being
superior in number, had spare arms at their disposal, although they had
no horses. The fact that no one was injured is, however, pretty good
proof that they were not expert marksmen. Sir Frederick and Mitchell,
after each discharge of their revolvers, would wheel and gallop a little
distance, receiving fire as they retreated, and then return to fire
again. Thus matters went on, when Pottinger and his companion, finding
that their ammunition was getting short, began to look out for a clear
track away. As the firing from the bushrangers also began to lessen
Mitchell proposed to rush upon them; but Sir Frederick demurred,
alleging that such a course would perhaps result in the loss of the
gold, which he had secured upon his horse. Accordingly they turned and
galloped away, leaving the bushrangers masters of the field, and their
late prisoners free.

With all haste they returned to the station at which they had camped the
previous night, known as "Little George's", some twelve or thirteen
miles distant, which they reached in about 40 minutes. Evidently they
could ride well if they could not shoot straight--although Mitchell
lost his hat and revolver on the road. Here they remained until evening,
recruiting and devising plans for the future. Nothing had been heard or
seen of Lyons since his run after his horse; so, fearing that he had
fallen into the hands of the bushrangers, they returned by moonlight to
Sprowle's, taking a different road, and approaching the house from the
opposite side. Here they learned that Lyons was safe and sound in wind
and limb, and that he had gone out with Mr. Sprowle to search for them,
expecting to find their dead bodies in the bush. They waited, therefore,
for the absentees, and on their return engaged in mutual

They now ascertained that the rescuers had waited near the road for them
to come up with their prisoners, after having tied their horses to the
garden fence, and cautioned two females, the only occupants of the house
at the time, not to venture out lest they might be shot. They had also
bailed up two travellers and forced them to lie on their faces until the
police arrived. These men declared that each of the bushrangers carried
two double-barrelled guns and two revolvers. The horses had broken away
when firing commenced, and to this fact, no doubt, Sir Frederick and
Mitchell owed their escape; for the bushrangers, knowing that they had
the gold, would certainly have followed them and the treasure if horses
had been available. Sir Frederick afterwards declared that he had
wounded one of the men and that he heard one calling out for horses,
saying they would "never be able to take the police without them".

Mr. Sprowle had heard the band swear that Sir Frederick should never
take the gold to Forbes; and a carrier who was "stuck up" on the road
subsequently, for provisions, by five men, positively declared that one
of them was Gardiner, and that it was he who had endeavoured to "put a
pill" through the superintendent.

Sir Frederick and his party, of course, realised the necessity of
getting away as speedily as possible, for at any moment the bushrangers
might return and rescue the gold as easily as they had rescued Darcey
and Turner. Accordingly, in the dead of a dark, cold, and rainy night,
they quietly sallied forth, and proceeded with Mr. Sprowle as their
guide to Beckham's station at Narraburra, reaching it at 3 o'clock next

Here the gold was planted safely, and the party prepared to defend the
place against the attack, of which they were in constant dread. As soon
as he arrived Sir Frederick despatched a special messenger to Captain
Battye, at Lambing Flat, for an escort. The captain could only muster
five troopers at the Flat, and immediately telegraphed to head quarters;
and having, late at night, succeeded in getting nine men together,
despatched them to the station one after another, in order to evade
observation on the journey, himself bringing up the rear. A short
distance from the township he overtook the troopers, organised them,
made all haste to Beckham's, where they arrived on Friday--to the great
relief of Sir Frederick and his companion, who had been in hourly dread
of losing the gold.

And now the gold was safe. Two troopers were sent on 20 or 30 yards in
advance, two sent back to the rear, a native tracker was stationed with
two troopers on each flank, from 40 to 50 yards distant. Captain Battye,
Sir Frederick, Mr. Mitchell and Detective Lyons rode in the centre, and
thus the party proceeded without molestation to Forbes by easy stages,
reaching that township on Monday morning.

Meanwhile the bushrangers had entirely disappeared, and jocular people
spread the report that they had retired to "recruit and devise plans"
for attacking every police station in the colony in turn. It was
somewhat mortifying to Lyons to know that the notes (115), which had
been found upon Turner, had disappeared with his horse when he fell off,
and that the bushrangers had regained possession of them.

A few days afterwards a man named Darcey was arrested by Trooper
Flanagan at Murrumburrah, and the week following a man named Turner was
arrested at Yass. Who they really were and what became of them will be
seen as the story proceeds.

Meanwhile Sergeant Sanderson had been busy in a locality nearer home,
and had arrested three men, named Patrick O'Meally, John O'Meally
and--Trotter, at Forbes, on suspicion of being concerned in the robbery;
and they were held under remand with the gold, as already described,
taken from the men that he had encountered.

Shortly after this a startling wire reached the colony from Melbourne to
the effect that Gardiner had been arrested with two other bushrangers at
Grant's station, in Victoria, and that one of the bushrangers had been
shot; but the falsity of this rumour was made manifest by the report of
a somewhat sensational encounter between Gardiner and Sir Frederick
Pottinger and Senior-Sergeant Sanderson, near Wheogo. The particulars of
this encounter may be given in Sir Frederick's own words, and here is
his story:-

On Sunday morning at half-past 3, said he, I apprehended a youth named
Walsh at the residence of his brother, at Wheogo; being aware that Frank
Gardiner, the bushranger, was enamoured of Mrs. Brown, and believing
that he would take advantage of her husband's absence to tender his
addresses, I proceeded on Saturday with eight men to the premises; I
arrived at 12 p.m., and leaving four of the men in charge I went with
Senior-Sergeant Sanderson and Trooper Holster to watch the place; I
subsequently sent Sub-Inspector Norton and Trooper Holster to guard the
front while Senior-Sergeant Sanderson and I hid ourselves in the bush;
we discovered the house dark and silent as though everybody was asleep;
after about half an hour we saw a light struck and in a few minutes a
woman made her appearance and commenced to collect wood for the purpose
of making a fire, but neither Sergeant Sanderson nor I could identify
the woman, as we were concealed at a distance of 150 yards from where
she was standing, in a thick pine-tree scrub; it might be 20 or 25
minutes after my seeing the woman that I observed a man mounted on a
white horse approaching Brown's house at a quiet pace, upon which I
called upon Sanderson to fall back, and we did so to our original
position; suddenly the noise of horse's hoofs sounded nearer and nearer,
when I saw Gardiner cantering leisurely along; I waited until he came
within five yards of me, and levelling my carbine at him across his
horse's shoulder (the weapon, I swear, being about three yards from his
body) I called upon him to stand; I cannot be mistaken, and on my oath I
declare that the man was Frank Gardiner; deeming it not advisable to
lose a chance I prepared to shoot him, but the cap of my piece missed
fire; Gardiner's horse then began to rear and plunge, and before I had
time to adjust my gun, he had bolted into the bush; as Gardiner was
riding away on the back of the frightened animal. Sergeant Sanderson
fired at him, as also did Holster; I called out to those who could hear
me to "shoot the wretch." Gardiner, however, made his escape; we then
proceeded to Mrs. Brown's house, and having seen her she frankly
admitted that Gardiner had been at her place; I saw a bed made upon the
sofa, and a four-post bedstead with a bed upon it in which two persons
had been reposing; the boy Walsh was in it asleep and he declared that
he had heard no noise and did not know what had happened; he had
lodgings at his mother's and was not obliged to sleep where he was
found; I immediately arrested him; on the table in the kitchen I saw the
debris of a supper, a bottle of gin, a flask of powder and a box of
revolver caps; some few days ago I received information that Gardiner
had been seen, accompanied by a lad answering the appearance of Walsh,
near to Mrs. Walsh's residence, and that while a man named Humphreys was
stuck-up on the road a youth like Walsh held Gardiner's horse while he
perpetrated the robbery; when I came across the bushranger's camp a
short time since I picked up a small monkey jacket, only large enough
for a boy to wear; Walsh says he is 17 years of age, but I don't think
he is more than 15; I may add that the gun missing fire was purely an
accident, as Sergeant Condell, when he loaded it, took every precaution
to prevent the misadventure.

But another version of the story, differing in some important
particulars from that given by Sir Frederick, gained currency at the
time. It was to the effect that Gardiner was actually in bed in Mrs.
Brown's house when the troopers surrounded the place; and one of the
district papers closed the account of the affair given in its columns by
expressing astonishment that ten men, all fully armed, should let one
man escape, when that man was in the house, and asking "Was there not
gross mismanagement somewhere?" It may be remarked that the men who were
with Sir Frederick never had their bravery questioned; but they were
under orders, and could not move a finger to intercept the King of the
Road until the order was given. When that order was given their chance
was gone. The leader had taken all the chances, and had missed his
throw. Those whose duty it was to stand idle while he acted cannot be
blamed for failure if the word to "shoot the wretch" came to them after
the "wretch" had flown.

It was reserved for Senior-Sergeant Sanderson to score the second
success, as he had scored the first. He knew the field over which he was
working and the men who lived on that field; and quietly, but
effectively, he carried on his work. Proceeding to Wheogo he arrested,
on suspicion of cattle stealing, several well-known characters, amongst
them being John McGuire (quartz miner), Benjamin Hall (labourer), John
Brown (labourer), Daniel Charters (labourer), and William Hall (miner),
the whole of the men, with the exception of the last-named, being
residents of Wheogo. Upon one of the men some notes were found which
were claimed by William Hall, but as they appeared to correspond with a
portion of the money stolen from the escort, the men, when brought up at
Forbes, were charged with being concerned in the escort robbery. After
evidence of the arrest had been given, Sir F. Pottinger, who had charge
of the case, applied for a remand for seven days, in order to enable him
to produce an important witness to identify the notes.

Mr. Redman, who appeared in the defence, applied to Sir F. Pottinger for
a copy of the warrant under which the prisoner Hall was proceeded
against, as he intended to make an application to the judges of the
Supreme Court in Sydney for an opinion regarding the legality of the
proceedings taken by the police in this instance.

Sir F. Pottinger objected to the prisoners being allowed bail, as it
would interfere with any future steps he might think it requisite to
take. He said it was through the circumstance of Gardiner being allowed
bail, when at Lambing Flat, that he had escaped the law so long. Had he
been detained two days longer it would have been proved that he was a
prisoner of the Crown at large. As it was, he had since committed deeds
which have made him notorious. He protested against bail being taken for
the appearance of any of the prisoners, excepting the prisoner Daniel
Charters, of whom he had nothing to say. He promised that the copy of
the warrant applied for by Mr. Redman should be forthcoming within the
twenty-four hours.

The prisoner, Daniel Charters, was then admitted to bail in two sureties
of 250 each, and his own recognisance of 500, to appear when called
upon, and the other prisoners were remanded.

And now occurred a fresh and altogether unexpected development. Charters
sent for Sergeant Sanderson, and made a confession to him, which, while
it exonerated some of the men who had been arrested with him,
incriminated himself and a number of others upon whom suspicion had not
fallen. These were Alexander Fordyce, John Bow, John McGuire, and John
O'Meally; and Sanderson lost no time in securing the three first named,
and lodging them in the lock-up at Forbes. As it happened, another of
the men named by Charters was at the time in custody--the man who had
been rescued from Pottinger near Narrandera, who had given his name as
Turner, but whose proper name was Manns, and who had been re-arrested
shortly after his escape. Charters also named eight men, including
Gardiner, all well-known to the police, who could not be secured just

Fordyce, Bow, McGuire, and O'Meally were charged at the Forbes Police
Office, and remanded to Bathurst for a further and fuller hearing. That
hearing took place before Dr. Palmer, P.M., and Messrs. Hawkins and
Clements, J.sP., but as the case was heard with closed doors the
evidence was not published. The result was a further remand, and the
release of one of the prisoners, O'Meally, on bail, thus indicating that
more had been proved against the others than against him. During the
week McGuire, Fordyce, and Bow were again brought up and fully committed
to take their trial at the next Bathurst Circuit Court, or at such other
court as her Majesty's Attorney-General might direct. This occurred in
October, 1862, the prisoners having been already three months in

Now at this time three men were awaiting their trial in Bathurst Gaol
for the attempted murder of a storekeeper named Stephens, at Caloola,
about 18 miles from Bathurst, they having "stuck-up" the store and shot
the owner in a most brutal and cowardly manner. There were also
half-a-dozen other highwaymen under committal for bushranging, and fresh
robberies under arms in the district were being reported almost every
day. It was natural, therefore, that Bathurst people should feel a
concern bordering upon alarm, and manifest anxiety to have the daring
criminals already in custody promptly dealt with. It was, therefore,
agreed by a number of influential gentlemen of the town that a petition
should be got up and forwarded to the Government, praying that the
prisoners who had been committed at Bathurst for the base outrage upon
Mr. Stephens, of Caloola, might be tried by special commission with as
little delay as possible. This course, it was believed, would carry a
warning voice to the villains who were infesting the western country. A
petition was accordingly forwarded, and the Government at once fixed 2nd
February _proximo_ for the trial of the prisoners, but ordained that the
commission should sit at Sydney instead of Bathurst. The Government
acted in this matter so as to carry out the suggestion for the benefit
of the country at large. Mail robberies and other depredations under
firearms were being committed in other parts of the country; and it was
therefore determined that the principal cases of this character should
be disposed of at one and the same special sitting.

The Bathurst people, of course, viewed this change of venue with great
disfavour, and loudly protested against the trials being heard in
Sydney, chiefly on the grounds that the prisoners would have greater
chances of acquittal before a Metropolitan jury, who knew nothing of
bushranging save by name, and that the expense to the witnesses who must
perforce leave their homes and dance attendance upon the Metropolitan
Court, perhaps for a fortnight, would be more than many of them could
well bear.

The protest, however, was ineffective, and in due course the prisoners
were removed by coach from Bathurst gaol to Sydney. They crossed the
mountains under a strong escort, several armed foot police being inside
the coach with them, while a strong guard of mounted troopers, under the
command of Sub-Inspector Sanderson (who had been deservedly promoted)
and Sub-Inspector Orridge, accompanied the party. Fordyce, Bow, Manns,
alias Turner, and McGuire were charged with the escort robbery;
Alexander Ross, Charles Ross, and William O'Connor with the Caloola
outrage; and three other men, Healy, MacKay, and Williams, with acts of
highway robbery.

The arrival of bushrangers in the capital of the colony caused a great
stir, and, to judge from the conduct of not a few, the criminals were
regarded as veritable heroes. That this sort of hero-worship obtained
largely in Sydney as well as in the bush was very clearly manifested
during many subsequent trials.

About this time the following notice appeared in the "Police Gazette":-


1. Frank Gardiner, supposed to have since "cleared out" with Mrs. Brown,
in boy's clothes, via Goulburn, for Portland Bay, where he has two
sisters married; he has (it is reported) since hearing of the
apprehension of Bow and Fordyce, returned to the Bland district.

2. Johnny Gilbert, one of the three encountered by Sir F. Pottinger, at
Meroo, and who escaped, was some days after the subsequent rescue of his
two mates, seen to pass down the Meroo Creek, and is now supposed to be
with his two aforesaid mates, at or near Kilmore, Victoria, where he has
friends. He is a young man, between 22 and 24 years of age, of boyish
appearance, five feet seven or eight inches high, between nine and ten
stone weight, slight, light brown straight hair, worn long in native
fashion*, beardless and whiskerless; has the appearance of a fast young
squatter or stockman, and is particularly flash in his address and

[* The young bushmen of those days invariably wore their hair long,
brushed well behind the ears, well oiled and carefully turned under low
down on the neck.]

3. Charlie, surname unknown, but believed to be a younger brother of
John Gilbert. He was one of the two prisoners rescued by seven men from
Sir F. Pottinger at Spreol's station; he gave at that time the name of
Turner. He is a slight wiry youth, 19 to 22 years of age, about five
feet six inches high, nine stone weight, light brown long hair worn
native fashion, light eyes, was clean shaved but had indications of a
strong beard, he likewise appeared to have been shaved around the nape
of the neck, his neck is very long, and shoulders narrow and sloping;
there was an unusual length in his figure from the crown of his head to
the point of his shoulders; he is very active and a good rider, and very
flash--half jockey and half stockman.

4. Bill, surname unknown, believed to be a housebreaker from about
Burrowa, was rescued from Sir F. Pottinger with Charlie Turner. He is a
particularly fine square-built young man, between 23 and 25 years of
age, five feet eleven inches or so high, about 11 stone 7 pounds or 12
stone in weight, fresh brown complexion, high cheek bones, brown eyes,
dark brown hair, long and wavy, and worn in the native fashion, large
mouth with a fine set of teeth, wore a small downy moustache and a tuft
on the tip of his chin; apparently a native, but said he was a Yankee,
and had come over some years ago in a revenue cutter; had evidently been
in New York and was also well acquainted with the Victorian diggings;
altogether a particularly well-informed, well-spoken young man, but
flash; he rode well, and was riding a half-broken three-year-old, and
had all the appearance of a horse-breaker, or fast young native
stockman; he is at present supposed to be with Johnny Gilbert and
Charlie Turner alias Gilbert, at or about Kilmore. At the time of his
capture by Sir F. Pottinger he gave the name of Darcey; he had an
eruption of boils over his hands and arms.

5. Harry, surname unknown, a dark sallow man, 25 years, 5 feet 9 or 10
inches high, spare built, dark hair and eyes, lately clean shaved, large
nose, knocked aside as if broken; supposed to be a bullock-driver from
the vicinity of Burrowa.

On Tuesday, February 3rd, 1863, the Special Sessions was opened, Mr.
Justice Wise occupying the Bench, and the Attorney-General with Mr. W.
Butler conducting the prosecution for the Crown.

Manns, Fordyce, Bow, and McGuire were placed in the dock, Mr.
(afterwards Sir) James Martin and Mr. Isaacs appearing for the defence.

After some delays, the procession of witnesses began. Sir F. Pottinger
and Inspector Sanderson gave evidence relating to their adventures in
search of the gang, while Condell, Moran, and Fagan described the
sticking-up at Eugowra.

Evidence was called to prove the ownership of the gold, also that the
rifles and cloak found at the deserted camp belonged to the Queen; and
then came the evidence for which all were anxiously waiting--that of
the approver Daniel Charters.

Having entered the witness-box and been sworn to speak "the truth, the
whole truth, and nothing but the truth", Charters proceeded to tell his
story, as follows:- I lived at Humbug Creek, on the other side of the
Lachlan. On the 12th June last, when I was driving some horses near Mrs.
Pheely's station, called the "Pinnacle", I met Frank Gardiner, John
Gilbert, and the two prisoners. Bow and Fordyce. Gardiner is a
bushranger in that part of the country. Gardiner rode up to me about
fifteen yards in advance of the others, and said he wanted me to go with
him for a few days; I said I could not, for if seen with him I should be
thought as bad as him. He said I must go, as he wanted me to show him
the road to some place that he did not name. Gardiner had a
double-barrelled gun slung to his horse, and two revolvers on his
person; Gilbert and Fordyce were armed also. When I declined going with
him, Gardiner put his hand on his revolver, and said, "I've come for
you, and you must go." I then went with him towards John Reeve's place.
On Friday morning we camped a mile and a half from Forbes, and Gilbert
went into the town; I heard Gardiner tell him to fetch six double-barrel
guns, some rations, an American tomahawk, some blacking, some comforters
and some caps, and also a flask of powder. Gilbert returned about one or
two in the morning with three other men. On the Saturday morning
Gardiner said, "Go on to the Eugowra Mountain", and we camped on
Saturday night between Eugowra and Campbell's. On the Sunday, Gardiner
rose early and ordered the arms to be loaded; I asked him what he was
going to do, and he said "You'll see; if I'm lucky I'll stick up the
escort." So we crossed the creek, and went on to the Eugowra Mountain,
tying up our horses there by direction of Gardiner. We each had a gun;
we went to the large rocks overlooking the road; Gardiner went down to
the road, stepped the distance, returned, and said, "that will do." At
about three o'clock someone said, "it would be a lark to get the escort
horses to take them back"; it was then suggested that someone should go
back and look to the horses we had left tied; I proposed to go back, and
after Gardiner studied for a while, he said, "Very well, you go; you're
frightened of your life, and you're the best to go." I said I had never
done anything of the kind and did not like firing on men who had never
done me any harm; I then went away, leaving seven men at the rocks, of
whom Fordyce and Bow were two; Fordyce was under the influence of drink.
I found the horses all right; while away I heard firing, several
discharges; the men returned with some gold boxes, some rifles, and a
cloak; the gold was placed on horses. I asked Gardiner if anyone was
shot; he said, "No, and I'm glad of it; but if there had been it was
their own fault, for I told them to stand, and they fired on me." When
the men came back Gardiner said, "Get ready and make for where we camped
last night"; we came on a piece of clear ground about a mile and a half
near a creek, when Gardiner said, "We'll stop, open these gold boxes,
and lighten the loads of the horses"; the boxes were opened with a
tomahawk; we all had a hand in the opening; I saw the gold bags and the
money taken out of the boxes; did not notice how many bags there were; I
think there were three parcels; we left the boxes there, and we burnt
some of the red comforters which we had used in the attack for disguise;
we packed the gold afresh on one of the escort horses, and on Gardiner's
own horse. We then went on. (Here Charters described the route at some
length.) We crossed the river about twelve at night; we did not stay
more than two hours; the registered letters were opened by the light of
the fire; I heard Gilbert say, "Here's 6", as he put some notes into
his pocket. After leaving this we went to Newell's, where Harry got some
cans of oysters or sardines, two loaves of bread, and some gin; on
leaving, Gardiner said, "Go as crooked as you can so as to bother the
trackers." We went on by direction of Gardiner till we came within a few
(eight or nine) miles of Forbes; when daylight arrived, Gardiner said,
"make for the Wheogo Mountain"; we went on past Wheogo House, and
reached the top of the mountain, where we camped about 2 p.m. on the
Monday; this place was about sixty miles from where the robbery was
done; after camping Gardiner went down to some rocks, and brought back a
pair of scales, some weights, and some grog; we remained there for that
evening. On Tuesday night it rained; we rigged a tent with a blanket; we
weighed the gold, rigging up three sticks to support the scales; I
assisted along with the others; as Gardiner weighed the gold, he put it
on a newspaper on a sheepskin; he also counted the notes; I heard him
say there were 3561 in notes; he weighed the gold off in lots and said,
"there were about 22 lbs. weight for each man"; each man's share was put
up in lots; Gardiner shared out the gold and notes; we gave the strange
men their share, which they packed up and strapped on a police cloak or
lining. Gardiner said to Gilbert, "You had better go down to McGuire's
and tell him to send me some rations--enough for two or three days";
Gilbert was away for about two hours; he returned with some rations in a
large dish, and he had a tin can with tea; after we had something to
eat, the three strange men bade us "Good-bye", and went away. We
remained at the camp till the Wednesday morning, Gardiner and I never
leaving the mountain, but Bow and Fordyce and Gilbert went after the
horses on Wednesday and brought them up. On Thursday we got ready to
start; Gardiner said he wished he had another pair of saddle bags, and
asked Gilbert to go and see if McGuire had some; he went away, but
returned very shortly after in a fright, saying that as he came near
McGuire's he saw a lot of police coming from the direction of Hall's
towards McGuire's. After that we all got ready to start; after we got
ready, we could hear the tramp of police horses coming up the mountain;
we left the bottles and several other things; we had no time to shift
them; we were then five in number--myself, Gardiner, Gilbert, Fordyce,
and Bow; we travelled through some thick scrub, and Gardiner had got off
his horse to take a drink of spirits and water, when I heard the police
horses behind us; Gardiner was with me; I looked back, and saw what I
thought was a blackfellow on a white horse; he was about 400 yards
behind me; I could just see him through the scrub; I pointed him out to
Gardiner; he said, "O Christ, here they are"; I then cantered away;
Gardiner called to me not to go that way; Gilbert went in one direction,
Fordyce in another; Gardiner was prodding his packhorse with the end of
his gun to urge him along, till finding he could not get him along he
left him; this was a very scrubby place, close to Weddin Mountains;
Gardiner galloped after me, and said he had lost the gold, and it was a
bad job; we asked to go back, as they might miss the pack horse; we
turned, and looking through the scrub, saw three men on foot catching
the horse. Gardiner then said, "We'll get on to Nowlan's, at Weddin
Mountains." When I bade Gardiner "good-bye", he called me back, and
said, "here's 50, it's all I can give you now we've lost the gold, and
made such a bad job of it."

In cross-examination by Mr. Martin, Charters said: I have been in the
colony about 18 years, and have lived at Burrowa, where I have a station
with 300 head of cattle, half of them being my own and half my sister's.
I have some land--I cannot say how much--but do not hold a license from
the Crown for my station; there has been no increase in the stock on the
station since it belonged to me. The rest of the cross-examination was
devoted to various discrepancies in his evidence, Charters steadily
denying that he took any voluntary part in the robbery or got any of the

The examination occupied a very long time, and his evidence was listened
to with the greatest possible interest by all parties in the court.

The next witness was a man named Thomas Richards, who was called chiefly
to prove McGuire's connection with the other prisoners.

Two minor witnesses followed, and this closed the case for the Crown.

The defence consisted in an attempt to set up an alibi on behalf of
Fordyce and O'Meally.

The third day was devoted to the delivery of addresses by counsel and
the judge's charge.

Mr. Martin's address to the jury in defence of the prisoners was a very
vigorous one. Upon Charters, the approver, he was very severe,
ridiculing the idea that he had been pressed against his will into
Gardiner's service, and denouncing him as a cowardly accomplice giving
evidence in the hope of obtaining the reward. Pointing out contradictory
passages in his evidence, he passed on to show that it had not been
corroborated, except by another accomplice, Richardson, and to urge that
it was therefore not to be believed.

These addresses were followed by one in reply by the Attorney-General,
and by the Judge's summing up; and then the jury retired to consider
their verdict. But there was some difficulty in the way, and the twelve
"good men and true" could not agree. Hours passed away, and the anxious
spectators and the more anxious prisoners were kept in suspense until
next morning, when the jury, who had been locked up all night (having
told the Judge at midnight that they could not arrive at a verdict),
were called into court.

"Gentlemen of the jury," said the Associate, "have you agreed on your

"No," said the foreman, "and there is no possibility of our agreeing."

His Honour then discharged the jury, and the prisoners were taken back
to gaol, there to remain until the authorities were prepared to again
place them on their trial. Meanwhile the witnesses were kept in Sydney,
hundreds of miles away from home, while the numerous friends of the
prisoners who had gone thither to hear the trial also prepared
themselves for a lengthened stay.

But after the lapse of a fortnight the judicial machinery was again set
in order, and the three prisoners were again indicted, Manns also being
placed in the dock to stand his trial with them. Chief Justice Stephen
presided at this trial, which followed much the same course as the
previous one.

The jury retired at a quarter before eight o'clock on Thursday. At a
quarter to ten p.m. the Chief Justice returned. Great excitement
prevailed about the doors; and on the court being opened great eagerness
was exhibited in securing places to hear the finale of the trial. The
jury being again brought into court, the foreman said that they had
agreed upon a verdict of guilty, on the first count, against Alexander
Fordyce, John Bow, and Henry Manns; and of not guilty as to John

McGuire was then removed from the dock, in custody, the governor of the
gaol stating in answer to the Chief Justice that there was another
charge against him.

The three prisoners who had been found guilty were then asked if they
had anything to say why sentence should not be passed upon them.

Alexander Fordyce said he was not guilty of wounding at the time of the

Henry Manns said he had nothing to say, only he was not guilty of the

John Bow said the jury had found a verdict of guilty against an innocent

His Honour then, addressing the prisoners Manns, Bow, and Fordyce, said:
"It is my painful duty to pass on you sentence of death. Henry Manns,
though sorry to add to your distress, I must say that it is impossible
to avoid remarking that you are, by document before the Court,
self-convicted of perjury. During the time of your trial the case has
been most clearly proved against you. No man can doubt that you are
guilty. You have almost intimated a desire to plead guilty; and that for
the purpose of securing the escape of Bow and Fordyce, by asserting that
they were not present at the robbery, and having two others arraigned in
their place, apparently in order to cast discredit upon the testimony of
the present informer (Charters) and having some kind of revenge on him.
But of what value would your oath have been when it was known that you
stated on oath that if time were given, you could prove by the evidence
of your father and three members of your family that you were not the
person present at the robbery, nor the person upon whom the gold was
found. They have not come forward. They would not perjure themselves.
And now as a last resource, you freely admit that you are guilty. The
jury were quite entitled to believe the testimony on which you were all
three convicted; and I am informed that the general belief in the
country is that the testimony is true. I believe it to be true. There is
this wickedness clearly proved against Manns, that he designed by
perjury to declare Bow and Fordyce innocent. And as to the crime itself,
you must know that no Government on earth having regard to the security
and peace of the country, to the lives and property of its unoffending
subjects, could extend towards it anything like what is falsely called
mercy. I agree in the opinion that there is more mercy due to the
community, to the helpless and unoffending, than to those who stand
convicted of crime. It is too much the habit to lavish pity on
criminals, in forgetfulness of the outrages and misery of which they
have been the authors. Some consideration is due to the police, who
expose their lives in the discharge of their duty, to the interest of
the community, in the security of the produce from the gold fields,
where there are some ruffians, no doubt, but also many hardworking,
honest, industrious men, having wives and children dependent on them.
See to what a state of things this lawlessness has reduced us! Here is a
proprietor of cattle, who joined a band of ruffians to rob, to wound the
innocent--to kill them, unless merciful Providence had prevented. There
is a nest of ruffians about the Weddin Mountains; and there seems to be
scarcely one about that place who is not willing to join robbers in
their crime. I believe you to be all three guilty. The jury have found
you guilty, and I think they are right. You stand convicted of crime.
Can any one doubt the nature of that crime? Is it not a crime demanding
repression by all means at the hands of the Government? For the
commission of this crime, seven or eight men banded together. It was
long meditated. You came unawares on your fellow men, and shot at them.
If they had been dogs they could not have been shot at with more
cold-bloodedness and cruelty. Some of them were shot down by men banded
together for lawless purposes; no man could doubt that you deserve the
punishment the law affixes to such an offence. It is not for me to say
that the law will take its course; but I cannot conceive on what ground
the judge could say that such a sentence would not take its course. If
mercy is to be shown in such cases, the law ought to be altered, and
then there will be an end of all society; it would then be simply the
rule of force; the strongest would take from another whatever he chose.
I believe the punishment to be just; men do dread death; but they cannot
expect impunity. There is a common impression that an accomplice will
not be believed. This day the world will see that the evidence of an
accomplice, if it hangs together as a true story, will be believed by a
jury of honest men who boldly do their duty. It is not merely the danger
of the people, but the character of the community in the eyes of the
world is at stake. The scenes that occur in this colony would be
shocking to read of in any country. I believe that in cases of this
kind, of deliberately planned robberies with cruelty and attempts at
bloodshed, the only penalty men are likely to fear at all is death. If
the Legislature does not think so, the Legislature must alter the law;
but I have only to carry out the law as it is. I can feel for you as
men, but if the taking of your lives should render the country more
secure from such deeds of violence, the cause of humanity will be
promoted by your extinction. Here was a reckless, bloody, murderous
onslaught upon innocent men. While deeply feeling for you I feel that
the interests of society are paramount, and must be defended. The
sentence of the court is that you be, each of you, taken hence to the
place from whence you came, and thence at a day appointed by the
Executive Government, to the place of execution, there to be, each of
you, hanged by the neck till you are dead. And may the Lord have mercy
on your souls."

The prisoners were then removed, and the audience, who had maintained
decent quietness amid all the crowding and excitement, speedily

A word or two will not be considered out of place by way of comment upon
the result of the first trial. The novelty of a Special Commission, and
the strong doubts which had obtained in the public mind, produced by the
fact that the verdict almost solely depended on the evidence of the
approver, were sufficient to create an interest rarely felt in cases of
either robbery or murder. And as many had expected, and many more
wished, so it happened; the case broke down. The people of the west,
when the news reached them, joined in the chorus, "We told you so", and
the fault was laid at the door of the Government, for having fixed the
trial of the men in Sydney, where, according to general impression,
there was a widespread feeling of sympathy for the accused. They did not
go so far, however, as to directly accuse the jury of being sympathisers
with crime. Their condemnation went out rather towards the spectators,
who appear from the reports in the papers to have manifested great joy
at the result, and gave expression to their joy in various ways; yet
even for them an excuse was found.

One writer put the case thus: "The excitement of the crowds congregated
at the trials arose out of a common dislike to the evidence of an
approver. The popular mind detests this kind of testimony, not merely
because it is seldom to be relied on, nor indeed from any other reason
as such, but from a sort of instinctive feeling which rushes at once to
the conclusion that it is an augmentation of villainy. He is regarded as
infinitely worse than those against whom he testifies. He is not only a
thief, but a traitor. His accomplices are punished through his means,
but it is at the expense of a deeper dip into crime. He saves himself,
but to do that probably sends his own companions in guilt to death. What
is called justice is supposed to reap some advantage; but even this is
only apparent, for whilst the law wreaks its vengeance on the condemned,
it lets loose the greatest villain of the mob to prey upon mankind, and
the imagination pictures him as drinking the blood of his accomplices.
But this particular approver endeavoured to screen himself under a
declaration that he was coerced into the scheme. It would have been more
creditable for him not to have urged this, as he entirely failed to make
it so appear. He was disappointed, not from any unfairness of his
associates towards himself, but from the loss of the grand booty. If he
had received 22 lbs. weight of solid gold, and 3000 in notes as his
share of the spoil, would he have delivered it up to the authorities and
turned approver then? Of course this is not exactly what Government
cares about, but it is the popular reasoning; and most men believe that
it would be better for the accused to escape than the accuser to have
his revenge."

There was an end to all disputing in the country, however, when it
became known that three of the prisoners had been convicted and
sentenced to death; but discussion was revived when the fact was made
known that the Sydney people were agitating to obtain a commutation of
the sentence. The result of the meeting of the Executive Council was
soon known throughout the colony. The sentence of death passed upon
Fordyce was commuted to imprisonment for life, but Bow and Manns were to
be left to their fate. The reason for a reprieve in the one case was
given. Fordyce had not fired his gun, and therefore was held less guilty
of the intent to murder than his companions. This reason was a flimsy
one, as the evidence showed it was through no fault of his that a bullet
from his rifle did not do deadly work. Gardiner had upbraided him for
not firing, and he replied "I snapped the gun, but it did not go off."

The act of the Executive in reprieving one of the condemned men made the
petitioners redouble their efforts to save the remaining two. Petitions
poured in upon the authorities, and the city was kept in a continual
state of ferment; but the Executive Council was inexorable. They put
their foot down firmly and declared they had gone far enough; there was
nothing in the case of Bow and Manns to justify an extension of mercy to
them. But his Excellency the Governor had a say in the matter on his own
account, and having been strongly urged to exercise the Royal
prerogative on his own responsibility, he yielded to the solicitations
and reprieved Bow, the sentence being changed from death to imprisonment
for life, the first three years in irons.

But even the Governor drew the line at Manns. Right up to the morning
fixed for the execution the agitation in Mann's favour--the youngest of
the condemned trio--was kept up; it was considered that his Excellency,
having exercised his prerogative--the first time an Australian Governor
had done such a thing in opposition to his responsible advisers--in one
case, could not refrain from exercising it in the other, the two being
"on all fours." One petition was presented to his Excellency with no
less than 10,000 signatures attached, but the reply sent back was that
the law must take its course; and on the morning of the execution he
sent a message to a deputation of prominent citizens who had gone to
Government House to interview him on Mann's behalf, refusing to see them
and declaring that the decision of the Executive was unalterable.

The text of one of the petitions will show the scope of the whole. It
ran as follows:-

Your petitioners humbly approach your Excellency and draw attention to
the following reasons why the life of Manns should be spared:

1. That the prisoner is a young man who has passed his life in the
interior away from all moral and religious training.

2. That hitherto he has borne a character for honesty and industry, this
being the first crime with which he has been charged, and into which he
may have been dragged as Charters, the approver, has sworn he was, from
fear of the noted ruffian Gardiner, or by force of other circumstances.

3. That for many years previous to the 18th instant no person has
suffered the extreme penalty of the law for any crime which has not
resulted in death.

4. That the majesty of the law will be sufficiently upheld by penal
servitude for life.

5. That your Excellency having been pleased to spare the life of John
Bow, who was equally guilty, your petitioners believe the prerogative of
mercy ought to be extended to Henry Manns.

Since his condemnation, the youthful criminal--he was only twenty-four
years of age--had conducted himself in gaol with great propriety, and
under the zealous and untiring efforts of the clergymen and Sisters of
Mercy who attended him, devoted himself earnestly to preparation for the
awful ordeal through which he was to pass; though it would seem he was
not wholly without hope up to the previous evening that his life would
be spared. This belief was intensified, no doubt, from his learning what
had been done in the case of Bow, and in the strong efforts which were
being made on his own behalf. But all those efforts proved unavailing,
and Manns was handed over to the Under-Sheriff in due course, and by him
transferred to the executioner.

His distracted mother, being anxious to have the body for interment at
Campbelltown, made application for it to be handed over to her as soon
as the officers of justice had finished their deadly work. Mr.
(afterwards Sir) John Robertson, Secretary for Lands, who was acting for
the Premier, at once complied, and the body was taken in the hearse and
driven with all speed to the Haymarket; as it was feared that if the
great crowd that had congregated outside the gaol walls knew what was
being done they would follow and make a scene, which those acting for
the unfortunate mother were anxious to avoid. Arrived at the inn where
Mrs. Manns was waiting, the body was removed from the prison shell and
placed in a coffin provided by the friends, and the mother and those
friends having entered the mourning coach, a start was made for the
railway station. But the crowd, true to its morbid instincts, had
followed, and here blocked the way, and the heavy burden of the mother
was made heavier by the jostling to which the mournful party were
subjected. The excitement manifested had in great part been created by a
rumour which had been suddenly circulated that the friends had made such
haste from the gaol in order to make efforts to resuscitate the hanged
man. The body was conveyed by train to Campbelltown and there buried in
a grave wherein two younger members of the Manns family lay.

The unfortunate and misguided youth whose earthly career was thus cut
short in a manner so horrible, was a native of Campbelltown, and many
persons who knew him there as a boy spoke of him favourably as a
well-conducted lad. For the last six years of his life he had been
employed in looking after stock in the district lying between the
Murrumbidgee and the Lachlan Rivers; and during the last twelve months
had been employed on Sutherland's station, called The Gap, at no great
distance from Lambing Flat. Here he made the acquaintance of Frank
Gardiner; and it was commonly thought that he was one of the gang
employed by Gardiner in "sticking-up" carriers and others on the road in
that locality. During his imprisonment he confessed his share in the
escort robbery, and more than once sought acceptance as approver with

John Bow, who was only twenty years of age, was a native of Penrith,
where he was known to many persons as a schoolboy, as a remarkably
well-behaved and intelligent youth. He was very respectably connected,
having a half-brother and sister in very good positions in different
parts of the country. He had been employed for five or six years in the
Burrowa district as a stockman for different persons, but his connection
for the last twelve or eighteen months with parties who were now well
known to have been in constant communication with Gardiner, had no doubt
led to the breaking down of whatever principles of good his earlier
education may have planted in his mind, and to his initiation in the way
of crime--a way that offered a broad and quickly travelled road to the
unfortunate youth, and brought him to the cell over which the terrible
words, "For Life" were written.

Alexander Fordyce, the third escort robber to receive sentence, was
thirty-four years of age and a native of Camden. Having been attracted
to the diggings, he fell in with the Wheogo mob, and then followed the
downward course very rapidly, in the manner already described.

The three men named were the only members of the gang brought to trial
for the escort robbery. Gilbert, Hall, and O'Meally were shot dead in
their tracks after committing many other daring outrages. Gardiner was
subsequently arrested, tried, and sentenced to a long term of
imprisonment; but the then Attorney-General declined to put him on trial
for this offence. Charters, of course, got off scot free, and located
himself in the district where the robbery had taken place--but not until
those who were likely to "pay him out" for turning informer had been

The bulk of the stolen treasure was never recovered. What became of it
is only known to the men who stole it and those to whom they handed it
over: although some of the residents of the district have always held to
the opinion that more than one of the "shares" so carefully divided by
the leader of the gang still lie hidden in the fastnesses of the Weddin
Mountains. My own opinion is that there are persons living at the time
this is being written--and nearly forty summers have passed away since
the robbery--who could if they chose account for the unrecovered gold
and notes. More than this I dare not say.



As a stimulus to extra exertions on the part of the police, and as a
temptation to one or other of the many residents of the district who
were known to be on friendly terms with Gardiner and his "boys", the
following proclamation was issued while the trial of those of the escort
robbers who had been caught was proceeding:-

Colonial Secretary's Office, Sydney, 6th February, 1863.


Whereas the abovenamed Francis Gardiner alias Clarke, and John alias
Johnny Gilbert, are charged with the commission of numerous and serious
offences, and have hitherto eluded the efforts to apprehend them,
principally by their being harboured, assisted, and concealed by parties
resident in the districts they frequent: It is therefore notified that
the Government will pay a Reward of Five Hundred Pounds for such
information as will lead to the apprehension of either of them: And
should such information be given by any person charged with the
commission of any offence, his case will receive the favourable
consideration of the Crown.

All parties are also hereby cautioned against concealing, harbouring,
assisting, or maintaining the abovenamed offenders, as by so doing they
render themselves liable to be dealt with by law, as accessories to the
crimes of which the offenders so assisted may be found guilty.



Native of Goulburn, New South Wales, 32 years of age, 5 feet 8 1/4
inches high, a labourer, dark sallow complexion, black hair, brown eyes,
small raised scar in left eyebrow, small scar on right chin, scar on
knuckle of right forefinger, round scar on left elbow joint, two slight
scars on back of left thumb, short finger nails, round scar on cap of
right knee, hairy legs, mark on temple from a wound by pistol ball or


Between 22 and 24 years of age, boyish appearance, 5 feet 7 or 8 inches
high, between 9 and 10 stone weight, slight, light brown straight hair,
worn long in native fashion, beardless, and whiskerless; has the
appearance and manner of a bushman or stockman, and is particularly
flippant in his dress and appearance.

It is pretty well known that Johnny O'Meally and Ben Hall were, to use
an expressive bush phrase, "up to their necks in it" with Gardiner; but
for some reason best known to themselves the authorities did not put a
price upon them--that piece of official work was reserved, as will
shortly be seen, for a future occasion.

Meanwhile Gardiner and his mates continued in active pursuit of their
calling. After the rescue of Manns and Darcey, Gilbert rejoined
Gardiner, O'Meally, and others in the neighbourhood of the Weddin
Mountains; and while the police of the district were engaged on the
trials at the Special Commission in Sydney, they carried on their
depredations, still pursuing their old plan of dividing forces and
appearing alternately on the Lachlan and the Goulburn sides.

The district police had some difficulty in regulating their movements,
so many and various were the reports received, and it was only
occasionally that they could get upon the freshest tracks. When they
were brought by accident into something like close quarters with the
Knights of the Road, they invariably came off "second best"; if they did
make a capture it was of some raw recruit only, the men chiefly wanted
getting clean away. While the bushrangers were in the Goulburn district,
three troopers--Hughes, Gall, and Bacon--who were out in the hope of
meeting with them, saw several mounted men in the bush off the
Tuena-road, and, judging them to be suspicious characters, took steps to
make their closer acquaintance. In compliance with the semi-military
character of the force, the order was given to extend, so as to hem the
suspects in. The bushrangers, quietly watching the operation, kept
together, and, as soon as the troopers were properly extended, thundered
down in a body on Trooper Hughes. Shots were exchanged, and the trooper
was wounded in the arm before his companions could come to his relief.
Satisfied with having winged the leader, the bushrangers wheeled their
horses and galloped away, while the discomfited force, abandoning all
thought of further pursuit, made haste to return to quarters with their

Another encounter between some of the gang and the police took place
between Forbes and Lambing Flat a few days afterwards. Sergeant
Sanderson, with detectives Lyons and Kennedy, had left the Lachlan in
charge of three prisoners by the coach for Lambing Flat. On reaching
Brewer's shanty three horsemen with two led horses were observed. Two of
the horsemen bolted; the third, Davis, stood his ground and received
four shots from detective Lyons, all of which took effect--one in his
thigh, one in his wrist, and the other two in his head. Davis fell, and
was immediately pounced upon by the detective, Lyons; the prisoners
assisted in securing him, and he was brought to Brewer's shanty. Davis
was one of the latest recruits in Gardiner's gang, and had been present
at the sticking up of Crowther and Croaker's stations a few days
previously. At the former place Gardiner, with seven accomplices, stuck
up Mr. Pring's servants. One of the bushrangers played the piano while
the rest danced and drank brandy and water at Mr. Pring's expense. At
Mr. Croaker's station one of the bushrangers played a concertina, and
sang "Ever of Thee" to the host.

Just about this time the following communication, which throws a little
light upon the operations of the gang, appeared in the "Yass Courier"
from the correspondent of that paper at Marengo:-

In my communication of the 30th _ultimo_, I stated that I was sanguine as
to the result of the expedition in search of the bushrangers, but I am
sorry to say that the police were unsuccessful, and from circumstances I
have since ascertained the cause of this bad luck is explained. It seems
in consequence of the gold escorts being strongly guarded, and the money
order system being introduced by the postal authorities, that General
Gardiner finds it expedient to change his tactics. I am informed that
this captain of the "free companions" has divided his band into two
parts, viz., the "neophytes" and "men-at-arms", and the modus operandi
of his last raid was as follows: Eight or nine of the neophytes, or
apprentices, headed by Johnny Gilbert, were dispatched as a decoy to
beat up the enemy's quarters (that is, the surrounding stations), to
make plenty of noise, etc., and then to securely "plant" for a few days.
The news soon reaches Lambing Flat, and the commanding officer there,
with his usual impetuosity and zeal, arms and musters all his available
force, consequently leaving those diggings contiguous to the Flat quite
unprotected (for the foot police are only of use to the town
itself)--the very thing aimed at and required by the ubiquitous captain
of "free lances", who instantly musters five or six of his most stalwart
and unscrupulous men-at-arms; in broad daylight they ride up to one of
the largest stores in Spring Gully (one mile from the Flat), coolly tie
up their horses, and leaving two men outside to prevent awkward
intrusion, march in, "bail up" the inmates, and obtain considerable
booty, including ammunition, revolvers and about 60 in cash. Of course
they experience no interruption from the authorities, as the villains
were well aware that the police were on a wild-goose and previously
cut-and-dried chase miles away--which was the case with the exception of
one unfortunate constable, who happened to be serving a warrant in the
neighbourhood; he was ordered by the taller of the two rogues outside
the store to "stand and deliver." . . . . The station owners about here
have been so often plundered that they now keep scarcely anything on
their premises that would be available by the bushrangers, therefore
when they are visited by robbers the attack is only a ruse of the junior
part of the rascals, to draw or decoy the police away from a wealthier
place previously spotted.

And another thing that greatly counteracts the strenuous efforts of the
mounted police is the system of "bush telegraphy", which I will explain.
Of all the numerous settlers on the Fish River, Abercrombie Ranges, or
the Levels, scarcely half are true subjects; only five settlers on the
Levels are considered by the police to be truly loyal, and free from the
taint of harbouring and, directly or indirectly, encouraging
bushranging. For instance, about three or four months ago the patrol
were on the Bland Plains (the Levels) in pursuit of some well-known
desperadoes, who they knew were not many miles off, and they called at a
slightly suspected station; being unsuccessful, they proceeded to the
next station, the residence of a truly loyal man--a gentleman, though
boasting of no great birth or education--no scion of aristocratic tree,
yet still a gentleman; "for honest men are the gentlemen of nature." He
gave the officer in command all the information in his power, but while
doing so he suddenly exclaimed, "Haste or you'll be too late; for, by
Jove, there goes the 'telegram' from Mr.------'s place, you passed
last." The officer looked in the direction pointed out, and there saw
straight across one of the highest ranges, at a stretching gallop, a
finely mounted youth. No time was lost by the patrol, but when they got
to their destination they found the residents calmly waiting their
arrival, having been evidently on the look out for some time. Of course
everything was found correct and square; so that the police had to
return sadder, but in slightly one sense (i.e., bush telegraphy), wiser
men. There is a strong suspicion that a "bush telegram" exists in every
township; for upon the day that Gardiner dispatched his junior corps
upon the above mentioned strategic expedition to Bentick Morrell, and
some other stations, after the plundering they camped in the evening in
a secluded part of the bush, near Marengo, not very far off the old
sheep station, and were visited by some two or three members of a
certain family here. This I have been told as a fact, and if, upon
further inquiry, I find it to be so, I will, through the medium of your
columns, regardless of consequences (notwithstanding their social
position), thoroughly expose them; for I consider it the bounden duty of
all loyal subjects of her Majesty to do everything in their power to
check the wholesale atrocious depredations now carrying on; and until
every one of these dens of refuge and "bush telegrams" are absolutely
exterminated, all efforts of the authorities to put down bushranging
will be futile and abortive.

Just about this time a letter was published in the Lambing Flat paper,
purporting to be from Gardiner. Many persons doubted its authenticity,
but the editor of the paper invited inspection of the MS., with the
envelope, post-marked and stamped, and declared his belief in its
genuineness. The following is a copy of the letter:-

(To the Editor of the "Burrangong Miner", Lambing Flat.)

Sir,--Having seen a paragraph in one of the papers, wherein it is said
that I took the boots off a man's feet, and that I also took the last
few shillings that another man had, I wish to make it known that I did
not do anything of the kind. The man who took the boots was in my
company, and for so doing I discharged him the following day. Silver I
never took from a man yet, and the shot that was fired at the
sticking-up of Messrs. Horsington and Hewitt was by accident, and the
man who did it I also discharged. As for a mean, low, or petty action, I
never committed it in my life. The letter that I last sent to the press,
there was not half of what I said put in it. In all that has been said
there never was any mention made of my taking the Sergeant's horse and
trying him, and that when I found he was no good, I went back and got my
own. As for Mr. Torpy, he is a perfect coward. After I spared his life
as he fell out of the window, he fired at me as I rode away; but I hope
that Mr. Torpy and I have not done just yet, until we balance our
accounts properly. Mr. Greig had accused me of robbing his teams, but it
is false, for I know nothing about the robbery whatever. In fact, I
would not rob Mr. Greig or anyone belonging to him, on account of his
taking it so easy at Bogolong. Mr. Torpy was too bounceable or he would
not have been robbed. A word to Sir W. F. Pottinger. He wanted to know
how it was the man who led my horse up to me at the Pinnacle did not cut
my horse's reins as he gave me the horse. I should like to know if Mr.
Pottinger would do so? I shall answer for him by saying no. It has been
said that it would be advisable to place a trap at each shanty along the
road, to put a stop to the depredations done on the road. I certainly
think that it would be a great acquisition to me for I should then have
an increase of revolvers and carbines. When seven or eight men could do
nothing with me at the Pinnacle, one would look well at a shanty. Three
of your troopers were at a house the other night and got drinking and
gambling till all hours. I came there towards morning when all was
silent. The first room I went into I found revolvers and carbines to any
amount, but seeing none as good as my own, I left them. I then went out,
and in the verandah found the troopers fast asleep. Satisfying myself
that neither Battye nor Pottinger were there, I left them as I found
them, in the arms of Morpheus.

Fearing nothing, I remain, Prince of Tobymen, FRANCIS GARDINER, the

Insert the foregoing, and rest satisfied you shall be paid.

As indicative of the widespread notoriety gained by the "King of the
Road", it may be mentioned that the authorities in Sydney kept their
brethren in Victoria fairly posted in his movements, suspected or
ascertained; and the latter ordered a good look-out to be kept on that
side of the Border, anticipating that Gardiner would sooner or later
seek refuge in Victoria. One rather ludicrous instance of over-zeal by
the Victorian police is recorded. A gentleman named Garrett, member of a
respectable business firm, had gone into the country with one of his
men; when nearing his destination, a place called Raglan, he was
accosted and catechised by a policeman, and having given satisfactory
answers was allowed to proceed on his way. On arriving at a public
house, towards evening, he found the house shut up, and it took some
parleying with the landlord before he could be reassured and the tired
travellers admitted. Mr. Garrett retired to a bedroom to perform his
toilet while supper was getting ready, and his man sat down at the table
Shortly afterwards two troopers arrived, took the landlord on one side,
and informed him that Mr. Garrett was the desperado Gardiner; they then
entered, and, placing two revolvers at the head of the man, asked where
his mate was. The man replied he had no mate, but his master was in the
bedroom. Mr. Garrett just then opened the door, and was coming out
candle in hand, when the revolvers were pointed at him, and he was
threatened with a bullet through his head if he dared to stir. Seeing
that the constables had evidently lost all nerve, and were trembling
from head to foot, Mr. Garrett thought it best to be calm. He answered
every interrogation as calmly as possible and allowed himself to be
searched, the documents on him fully bearing out what he had stated. The
police professed themselves satisfied that he was not Gardiner, but
insisted on taking him into custody, right or wrong, on suspicion of
horse stealing, and ordered him to come with them at once. Mr. Garrett,
being hungry and tired after a day's ride, insisted on having his supper
first; and, although the search had proved that he had no weapon of any
description about him, his gallant captors sat during supper with their
revolvers pointed at him within an inch or two of his head, in so great
a fright that their pistols were shaking in their hands, and he almost
expected to be shot every time he moved his hand with the fork to his
mouth. The man could eat nothing under the novel circumstances. After
supper, Mr. Garrett made a virtue of necessity and allowed himself to be
handcuffed, or his captors would have murdered him. The party reached
Raglan about eleven o'clock, and master and man had to submit to the
indignity of being confined in the "logs" all night. Next morning the
telegraph was set to work and Mr. Garrett's identity established, when
he was set at liberty with the assurance that he had no remedy.

Somewhat suddenly, the talk about Gardiner changed to one simple inquiry
to which nobody was in a position to give a satisfactory reply; and that
enquiry was, "Where is he?" The newspapers no longer contained thrilling
accounts of heavily-laden coaches, honest carriers and travellers "stuck
up" by the King of the Road. Others were doing that sort of work, and to
some purpose, too; but Gardiner--the father of bushranging, the man who
boasted that he "never did nothing dishonourable", the chief of the gang
the record of whose exploits had made the colony shiver with
excitement--Gardiner, the handsome, the daring, the ubiquitous, had
suddenly vanished. Had he been shot by any of his followers in some
heated brawl when dividing the spoils? or was he in hiding in some gully
among the mountains, such as formed the bushrangers' favourite resort?
or had he escaped from the colony with the accumulated wealth gotten by
his repeated robberies? Never an answer came. Gardiner had
disappeared--vanished as completely as though the earth had opened and
swallowed him up. And it was all in his favour that the gang he had
formed remained unbroken and active; for well-organised search could not
be made while Hall, Gilbert, O'Meally, and Co. held the roads, and kept
the whole police force of the western and southern districts running
hither and thither.

There was another person who was missing at the same time--the Mrs.
Brown, near whose house Sir Frederick Pottinger had allowed Gardiner to
slip through his fingers, after having gone there with a young army of
police to capture him. This woman proved her liking for the bushranger
by forsaking a comfortable home to share the dangers of his flight and
exile. When and how the pair got away together was not known until long
afterwards, and where they had gone to appeared likely to remain an
unsolved mystery. The only thing definite known was that Gardiner and
Mrs. Brown had both disappeared from the district. But although they
had managed to escape from New South Wales, they had not crossed the sea
to any of the rogues' refuges in the Islands or in America. They were
almost within hailing distance; and the colony was very much astonished
one morning in March, 1864, by the discovery and arrest of the notorious
bushranger and the woman who for him had left a comfortable home.

This news was at first not credited. For a long time people believed
that some mistake had been made and that the man who had been arrested
was not Gardiner; but in due course every doubt was set at rest, and
then men marvelled greatly that the arrest had not been sooner made. The
story of the arrest is a simple one, and may be told in few words.


There was in the Sydney Police Force at this time a detective named
McGlone, who had had a little experience in hunting down criminals,
although not so large an experience as some of his colleagues in dealing
with bushrangers. In some way never fully explained to the public he
received information from what he considered a reliable source that
Gardiner was in Queensland, living somewhere on the Appis Creek road;
and armed with all necessary documents and weapons, and accompanied by
two policemen named Pye and Wells, he took boat for Queensland, reaching
Rockhampton, the port nearest to the locality for which they were bound,
on 11th February, 1864.

The object of the expedition was not made known by McGlone to his
companions, but they were satisfied to know that it was one of more than
ordinary importance, requiring the utmost secrecy. They assumed the
dress and character of diggers, to escape observation on the road. Owing
to the flooded state of the river the party was unable to proceed for
several days; while waiting they observed in the town several persons
whom they had previously seen on the Lachlan, and who there had the
reputation of being sympathisers with the bushrangers. At length the
river subsided and the trio crossed over. All along the road every face
and every hut was rigidly scrutinised, but it was not till they had gone
a day or two's journey that McGlone again recognised several old Lachlan
faces. Hope revived, and the cautious Scot now knew that his game could
not be far away. Weary, dusty, and thirsty, the seeming diggers arrived
at Appis Creek, camping within 100 yards of a store and public house
which (as a signboard indicated) were jointly carried on by Messrs.
Craig and Christie. Without knowing it McGlone was in sight of his

Nine months previously Gardiner and his paramour had entered Rockhampton
by the overland route, and had assumed the names of Mr. and Mrs. Frank
Christie, this being Gardiner's real patronymic. They did not stay long
in Rockhampton, but left the town for the Peak Downs goldfields. After
passing Yaamba the interesting pair fell in with a Mr. Craig, who was
going in the same direction, and travelled together for company. While
thus journeying Craig (who, to do him justice, appears to have been
totally ignorant of the true character of his fellow-traveller) entered
into an exposition of his intentions and prospects; the confidence was
returned by his new acquaintance, who appears not to have concealed the
fact of his having at least sufficient capital to make a good beginning
in the public-house or storekeeping line. What more natural than that
these communicative fellow-travellers should discuss the probable
success of a little "spec" in the public-house and store way? Craig knew
of a good stand at Appis Creek, and had a little spare cash; Christie
(alias Gardiner) was similarly provided; and then, too, how well Mrs.
Christie would suit behind the bar of a country inn, or counter of a
snug little store! Craig did not hesitate; the partnership was entered
into, a public-house and store were opened at Appis Creek, and our
quondam bushranger settled down for a quiet life.

As was his usual custom after camping, McGlone went up to the house to
ferret out all he could without exciting suspicion. As he approached he
noticed an individual seated on the doorstep of the store, head in
hands, elbows on knees, gazing vacantly up the road. The first glance
told McGlone his journey was at an end--there sat his man! But he must
make sure; so putting on a woebegone, sick-man expression, he entered
the store and was confronted by Mrs. Brown. In a few minutes he asked
Gardiner to come and have a drink, and when Gardiner stooped to pour out
the liquor, the detective's sharp eye noticed the peculiar scars on his
head and hands. Lieutenant Brown, of the Queensland native police,
happened to pass just at this moment, but McGlone dared not speak to him
for fear of exciting suspicion; but fortunately he heard Brown say he
would stop the night at M'Lennan's, a mile away.

McGlone now returned to his mates and told them for the first time who
it was they had come to take, and where he was to be found. A plan was
agreed on, and after dark McGlone crept off to Lieutenant Brown and
secured the co-operation of that gentleman and his black troopers, who,
as the sequel proved, behaved most admirably. These precautions were
taken because McGlone saw so many of Gardiner's old chums, and so many
suspicious ruffians about, that he feared a rescue. Next morning the
digging trio struck their tent, picked up their swags, and prepared for
their apparent journey further, merely strolling up to the hotel to get
a parting glass. At the same time Lieutenant Brown and troopers hove in
sight, apparently off for a tour of his district, as they had often
appeared before, the troopers singing gaily their corroboree song.
Gardiner was talking to two men who were grinding an axe, but began to
edge off to the store on seeing the diggers approach. Pye, however,
perceived the move, and pushed up to cut him off, while McGlone threw
him off his guard by addressing a remark to him about his dog. Gardiner
turned to reply, when Pye seized him from behind; McGlone seized him by
the legs and threw him on his back; the troopers sprang from their
saddles and pointed their carbines at the spectators, while Brown
literally poked his pistol into the jaws of one of the axe grinders
before he could be deterred from assaulting the constables. And thus
Gardiner was taken.

McGlone was not the man to spoil his work by the neglect of necessary
precautions. After having assured himself that Gardiner was so bound as
to render escape impossible, he conducted him to McLellan's station,
some distance from the store, where he placed him in confinement pending
his removal to Rockhampton--telling him then for the first time the
reason for his arrest. To make doubly sure McGlone also arrested Craig
and Mrs. Brown, and quite an interesting little company was shortly
thereafter under marching orders for Rockhampton.

At the Rockhampton Police Court, Gardiner was charged with having
"committed various highway robberies in New South Wales", while Craig
was charged with harbouring him, and Mrs. Brown with "concealing and
assisting a bushranger." The two latter were acquitted. Gardiner was
remanded to Sydney, and removed to Brisbane gaol to await the first
steamer. Here McGlone suddenly learned that forces were at work in the
bushranger's favour which called for prompt action. An effort was made
to prevent the prisoner's removal from Brisbane to Sydney, and a
Brisbane solicitor actually obtained a writ of habeas corpus. But
McGlone "knew the ropes", and before the writ could be served he had
removed his prisoner from the gaol to secure quarters on board the
steamer "Telegraph", which was then getting ready for her return trip to
the capital of New South Wales. The steamer was timed to start next
morning; at the hour fixed the start was made, and detective and
desperado were soon beyond the reach of sympathetic Queenslanders.

In due course Gardiner was safely lodged in Darlinghurst Gaol, and his
captor lost no time in hunting up witnesses for the preliminary
examination, which the authorities decided (for reasons which must be
patent to every reader) should be held within the precincts of the gaol.
The greatest excitement prevailed in Sydney when it became known that
the King of the Road had arrived. Here was indeed a distinguished
visitor, and if the authorities had cared to make a display, and
published the programme of proceedings connected with the landing and
the escort from the quay to the prison, they could have drawn a crowd
greater than would have gathered to witness the landing of any royal
personage. But it was deemed prudent to keep the affair as quiet as
possible, and before the majority of the citizens knew that Gardiner had
arrived he was safely housed in the cell that had been prepared for him.

Captain Scott and Mr. George Hill were the magistrates who conducted the
preliminary proceedings. The court sat in the debtor's ward of
Darlinghurst Gaol in April, 1864, and the charge preferred against the
prisoner was that he did feloniously shoot and wound with intent to
kill, John Middleton and William Hosie, at the Fish River, on the 16th
July, 1861. Mr. David Forbes appeared on behalf of the Crown, assisted
by Mr. Williams, Crown Solicitor, and Mr. Frazer; while Mr. Redmond and
Mr. Roberts attended on behalf of the prisoner.

The Bench committed Gardiner to take his trial at the adjourned sessions
of the Central Criminal Court to be held on May 17th following. Mr.
Roberts protested strongly against such a comparatively short time to
prepare his defence, when the Government had employed all their
influence and had so much time to set up a case against him.


On the day appointed the prisoner, under the three names--Francis
Gardiner, alias Clarke, alias Christie--was arraigned at the Sydney
Central Criminal Court, before Mr. Justice Wise, the charge being
shooting and wounding Middleton with intent to murder him.

The Attorney-General prosecuted, and Messrs. Isaacs and Dalley appeared
for the defence.

After a curiously mild trial, towards the close of which the Crown
Prosecutor remarked to the jury that "no one would be better pleased
than myself if you acquit the prisoner", the presiding judge summed up
carefully, and the jury retired. At twenty-five minutes past 6 o'clock
it was announced by the Sheriff to his Honour that the jury had agreed.
A profound silence ensued as they re-entered the box, and the prisoner
was again brought into Court.

The clerk of arraigns put the usual question, "Gentlemen of the jury, do
you find the prisoner at the bar guilty or not guilty?" The foreman
answered in a distinct voice, "Not guilty", and the announcement was
received with a perfect yell of delight, accompanied by clapping of
hands, which all the vociferations of the tipstaves and constables on
duty failed to repress. The Judge--pale as death from illness, fatigue
and agitation--rose from his seat, and in a voice of severity ordered
the constabulary to arrest any person they saw behaving in so
disgraceful and shocking a manner on such an occasion; at the same time
pointing out to the police on duty a lad, about fifteen or sixteen years
of age, who was clapping his hands in a most frantic manner. The boy was
immediately brought before the Judge, and the Court House--which a
minute before was a scene of uproar and confusion--was again as silent
as the grave. "Young man," said Judge Wise, in a voice tremulous with
emotion, "you are committed to Darlinghurst gaol for contempt of Court.
I am shocked--inexpressibly shocked, at this disgraceful and unseemly
exhibition within the walls of a court of justice on so solemn an
occasion as this."

The prisoner, who all the time had been an anxious auditor of what was
going on, listened anxiously for what was to follow. The counsel for the
Crown informed the Judge that there was another indictment to be
preferred against the prisoner, who was thereupon told that he was to
return to gaol on remand. In view of the manifest sympathy existing for
Gardiner amongst the crowd of spectators, however, the judge deemed it
prudent to order the Court to be cleared before he was removed from the
dock, and it was only when the spectators had left the building that the
officers proceeded to take the prisoner away.

The fact that Gardiner had been acquitted after a three days' trial was
flashed along the wires to all parts of the country, and great was the
astonishment thereat. The newspapers in all the colonies made the
circumstance a text upon which to moralise, and never before were the
evils of criminal hero-worship more fiercely denounced. Gardiner's
exploits had furnished a popular history which was the common property
of man, woman, and child in every nook and cranny of the colonies. He
had taken loaded gold boxes from an armed escort by hundredweights at a
time. He had bailed up travellers by the score; he had attempted to
shoot down the police like dogs. He had terrorized a country side, and
given the officers of justice, when in his wake (and they were, always
unfortunately, in his wake) the character and appearance of "Guys." He
had cost the country thousands of pounds in horseflesh, accoutrements,
and rations for his pursuers. Large rewards had been offered for him
alive or dead. Troops of men had been branded as cowards, and brave and
gentlemanly officers had been cashiered because he remained still at
large. Every man who had seen him without taking him was deemed an
accomplice. Such was the number, and the desperate and deeply-dyed
character of crimes committed by him during a period of many months,
that every honest and peaceful subject of her Majesty in the colony
mixed it up with his daily prayers that the marauder, the depredator,
the murderer in intent if not in fact, might soon be taken, and the
country be at peace. He was the Beelzebub of the bush--a modern
Cacus--the prince of robber-devils; and because no term could be found
extreme enough to describe the system he had adopted--because of the
seeming charm which surrounded the mystery of his deeds--his very name
became typical, and the strategies he devised were distinguished by the
name of Gardinerism. In a fortunate moment, however, an intelligent and
daring officer obtains a clue to his distant retreat, journeys to the
spot, makes him a prisoner, and safely deposits him in the metropolitan
gaol. The man he has shot stands before him in the witness box,
confronts him, and identifies him; yet the charge on which he is tried
cannot be sustained, and Gardiner is acquitted! What wonder, I say, that
the people should be indignant? Whatever the causes contributing, the
result was most disappointing to all but the personal friends of the
prisoner and those who looked upon him as the hero of the century, a
veritable Australian Dick Turpin.

For two months Gardiner had a further opportunity for calm reflection
within the walls of Darlinghurst; at the expiration of that time he was
again placed in the dock. The Chief Justice presided on this occasion,
and the prisoner was arraigned on the double charge of robbing Messrs.
Horsington and Hewitt, while Under arms. To the astonishment of everyone
he pleaded guilty to each offence, doubtless under the advice of his

He was then charged with having on 10th July, 1861, feloniously wounded
William Hosie with intent thereby to kill and murder him, and a second
count in the indictment charged him with wounding Hosie with intent to
do grievous bodily harm. It will be remembered that this count was not
included in the first indictment, which was one of wounding with intent
to kill, no alternative between an acquittal or a conviction on that
single count being open to the jury. On this occasion he pleaded not
guilty, and he was defended by Mr. Isaacs and Mr. Dalley, than whom two
more able barristers did not exist in the colony. The witnesses called
to prove the case against him were Middleton and Hosie, Mr. Beardmore,
and Drs. Rowlands and Taylor, their evidence being merely a reiteration
of that given at the former trial. But the Crown sought to make more
plain on this occasion that the two troopers were well within their
rights in going to Fogg's house to arrest Gardiner. Constable Paget, of
Goulburn, gave evidence of the prisoner's conviction at that place on
two charges of horse stealing in 1854, and his imprisonment. Evidence
was also given of his release from the penal settlement on
ticket-of-leave, and the subsequent cancellation of that ticket, John
Budd, clerk of the Executive Council, proving the authenticity of the
Governor's signature attached to the cancellation.

No witnesses were called for the defence, but Mr Isaacs made a powerful
appeal to the jury to acquit. After his Honour the Chief Justice had
summed up the jury retired, and after an absence of three-quarters of an
hour returned into Court saying that they had agreed to find the
prisoner guilty on the second count--wounding with intent to do grievous
bodily harm. It afterwards transpired that five of the jurymen were for
finding him guilty on the capital charge, while one was for acquitting
him on both charges.

On being asked if he had anything to say why sentence should not be
passed, Gardiner handed in the following written statement, which was
read to the Court:-

To his Honor the Judge.

Your Honor,--I do not address you with the desire to impress upon your
mind my innocence of the charge to which I have pleaded guilty, but my
wish is to point out the untruths in the evidence on the part of the
witnesses. In the first place, they all distinctly assert that there
were four in number, whereas there were five; they also state that three
stuck up the cart containing Mr. Horsington, his wife, and boy, and that
I alone went to Mr. Hewitt; now it is just the opposite--I went to the
cart, the four to Mr. Hewitt. Again, they state that Mr. Hewitt was
thirty yards in the rear of the cart, whereas, on the contrary, he was
thirty yards in advance of the cart. Again, it was I who told them to
bail up, using no other words nor threats, and at the same time Mr.
Hewitt received a similar order from the four men. While I was directing
Mr. Horsington where to turn off into the bush, a shot went off from one
of the four men, caused through the restlessness of his horse. I at the
time was within two or three yards of Mr. Horsington and his wife. I
immediately turned round and asked, "Who fired that shot?" M'Guiness
made answer, "I did, but it was purely accidental;" upon which I
replied, that as soon as he had received his share of the spoil he
should leave the party, which he did that night. The man M'Guiness, who
was thirty yards away from me amongst the rest of the party, distinctly
heard my question as to who fired; I also heard his reply; and yet Mr.
Horsington, his wife, and boy, who were only a yard or so from me,
positively swear that they heard nothing of this conversation. Again, on
a former occasion, Mr. Horsington, his wife, the boy, and Mr. Hewitt,
positively swear as to the identity of the man Downey, as to his being
of the party; now, I sincerely and solemnly assert that this man was not
of my party on this or any other occasion. While Downey was in custody
for the alleged offence I wrote to the "Burrangong Miner", acknowledging
that I was the man, and that he was perfectly innocent. Again, Mr.
Horsington, and his party assert that the robbery took place on the 10th
of March, while it really did not take place until some five or six
weeks afterwards; so that if I had been inclined to stand my trial I
might have been enabled to prove an alibi.

This, as your Honor will sec, is not written with a view to escape
punishment, for, on the contrary, it criminates myself; but as there are
only two left of the party--myself and another man, who is at present
undergoing a sentence of fifteen years--I feel that in writing this I am
injuring no one except myself; and my only desire has been to point out
the inconsistency of the evidence on the part of the various witnesses,
so that, had I not pleaded guilty to this charge, I might probably have
escaped; so contradictory is their evidence, that a verdict in my favour
might have been the result.

If I may be permitted, in praying for a merciful consideration of my
case, I beg to say that it is not alone on the above grounds that I do
so, for during the last two years I have seen the error of my ways, and
have endeavoured, with God's assistance, to lead an honest and upright
life, for I have even during this time had temptations (and those great
ones), for I was on one occasion entrusted for some time with the first
escort of gold that arrived from the Peak Downs, consisting of 700
ounces; again, Mr. Manton, whom I beg to refer to, a gentleman connected
with the copper mines, entrusted to my care 264 ounces of gold; and,
lastly, Mr. Veale did the same with 206 ounces;--yet the honest
resolutions I had formed were sufficiently strong to prevent me doing a
dishonest action on either of these opportunities. And I do trust that
your Honor will do me the justice to believe that these were not
isolated cases, or that I would have ever again fallen into those
practices which I have felt for a long time past in my breast to be a
sin against God and man.

And now, your Honor, as we must all on the last and great day of
judgment throw ourselves on the mercy of the great Judge of all our
actions, so do I now throw myself upon your mercy as my earthly judge,
and pray for a lenient and merciful consideration in my case.

I am, your Honor, your humble servant, FRANCIS CHRISTIE.

The Chief Justice then pronounced his sentence: For the offence of which
he had just been found guilty, to be kept to hard labour on the roads or
other public works of the colony for fifteen years, the first two years
in irons; for the armed robbery of Horsington (to which he had pleaded
guilty) to ten years' hard labour, to commence at the expiration of the
fifteen years; and for the robbery of Hewitt (to which he had also
pleaded guilty) to seven years' hard labour, the seven years to commence
at the expiration of the ten--in all, thirty-two years.

It was a heavy sentence, and as the prisoner heard it fall from the
judge's lips he must have wondered whether he would live to see the end
of it. But Gardiner was not of a despondent nature. He had been in
prison more than once before, and had gained his liberty on each
occasion before his sentence had been half completed--once by giving his
custodians "leg bail", and then by means of a ticket-of-leave. The
experience of the past favoured hope, and Gardiner was hopeful where
many a man would have been despairing. That his confidence and hope were
not misplaced was fully proved by after events. The good fortune which
had attended him all through his remarkable career--so pleasantly
exemplified in a hundred different ways: his escape from Pentridge; the
abandonment of the search for him by the Victorian authorities; the ease
with which he obtained his ticket-of-leave from Cockatoo, and bail from
the Burrangong magistrates; his escape from death under Middleton's
fire, and from custody under Hosie's handcuffs; the refusal of Sir
Frederick Pottinger's gun to go off when the muzzle was within a few
inches of his breast; the inability of the police to trace or capture
him; the disinclination of the Attorney-General to indict him for the
escort robbery; the refusal of the Sydney jury to convict him of
shooting at Middleton--the "good fortune" which had thus so effectively
displayed itself in his behalf was not going to be separated from him by
the shutting of such ordinary things as the gates of Darlinghurst! It
had been made evident that he was not born to be hanged, or shot. It was
to be made evident that he was not born to beat the bars of a prison in
despair. And it only now remains for me to narrate, as briefly as
possible, the circumstances leading up to his release from the life-long


It would not interest the reader to learn what were the daily tasks and
recreations of Gardiner--he had both--while wearing the prison garb. For
a certain time and in a certain way he was simply a prisoner among
prisoners; but he had this advantage over many of his fellows within the
walls--he had been there before, and understood how to earn for himself
those little indulgences which relieved the monotony of prison life and
rendered confinement pleasant. From the first he sought, and not in
vain, to ingratiate himself with his custodians. If a good example were
needed in a certain direction, Gardiner was the man to set it; if a
well-executed "job" were desired Gardiner was the man to do it; and
ready obedience, cheerful alacrity, persistent efforts to please, within
prison walls and without, invariably meet with their reward.

Eight years of the thirty-two passed away, and then friends outside
began again to exert themselves in his behalf--this time openly and in
legal fashion. They set about their work with a determination to
succeed, a fixed resolution to bear down opposition from whatever
quarter it might rise up to meet them. It was to be expected that they
should, with such a work in hand, make sure of their ground before
commencing operations, and do first the thing that ought to be first
done. And their care in arranging and energy in prosecuting that work
met with its reward. Importunate prayers, urged amidst falling tears by
enchanting women before impressionable officials--particularly
impressionable under such influences--met with a full measure of
success. Gardiner was released, though not at the time nor exactly under
the conditions for which his influential friends and relatives pleaded.

The principal actors in the affair--principal, at least, so far as the
general public were permitted to know at the time--were the prisoner's
two married sisters, who resided with their husbands in Sydney. There
were others engaged behind the scenes, hatching inspirations and pulling
the strings.

The first step taken was the preparation of a petition for presentation
to the newly-arrived Governor, Sir Hercules Robinson, by the two
sisters. That step was an easy and effective one, based as it was upon
the strong natural affection of loving sisters for an erring brother.
The petition was as strong as it could well be made, and after briefly
reciting the offences of which Gardiner had been convicted and the
sentences passed upon him ran as follows:-

Your petitioners humbly implore your Excellency's merciful
considerations of their unfortunate brother's case, towards affording a
remission of his terrible sentence, on the following grounds:

1. Previous to his apprehension he was obtaining his living as a
storekeeper in Queensland for nearly two years, having abandoned his
former career of wickedness, and had left the colony fully determined to
lead a life of honest industry; proofs of the good character he had
gained could have been produced at his trial; and it is well known that
gold, both by escort and by private individuals, has been placed under
his care with confidence and safety during that time.

2. That only four months after his conviction there was a desperate
outbreak of prisoners in the gaol, in which he took no part whatever;
his conduct on that occasion was so noticed by the Inspector-General of
Police that he assured the prisoner that he would see the Colonial
Secretary, Mr. Forster, and have a record of it made for the future
benefit of the prisoner; to this record your petitioners would humbly
refer your Excellency, the late Dr. West having told the prisoner that
it had been made.

3. That the prisoner has assiduously endeavoured to make himself as
useful as possible in the work appointed for him, and has invented a
contrivance which has greatly improved the making of the selvedge on the
matting, which was previously very defective and much complained of.

4. That the prisoner has always given every satisfaction to the Sheriff
as well as to the Governor of the gaol, and other officers and overseers
during the whole time, now the ninth year of his imprisonment.

5. That your petitioners beg also humbly to direct your Excellency's
attention to the fact, that his Honor the Chief Justice has more than
once publicly remarked that, although during the time there was so much
bushranging he should always inflict the severest penalty of the law,
nevertheless, we might perhaps be permitted respectfully to suggest that
your Excellency would not be unwilling to exercise your prerogative of
mercy now the crime of bushranging has been happily and effectually

6. That the prisoner's health has already suffered so much from his long
confinement as to cause him to be almost constantly under the hands of
the doctor for disease of the heart and other serious symptoms, which
have obliged him for a time to be placed in the hospital of the gaol,
and have totally incapacitated him from continuous work.

Lastly. That your petitioners feel certain that if your Excellency be
pleased to grant him a pardon, he will thus be afforded an opportunity
of redeeming the past; and from your petitioners' knowledge of his
character they can confidently assure your Excellency that they believe
he will never again commit himself; and from the very confident and
feeling manner in which his Honor Sir Alfred Stephen has on many
occasions addressed himself to petitioners' brother, and remarked upon
his reformation, they hope that he will recommend the prayer of this
petition to the most favourable consideration of your Excellency.

Praying the Lord may guide to a wise and judicious conclusion in
disposing of this petition, your Excellency's petitioners as in duty
bound, will ever pray, &c.

The petition was not presented till support had been obtained for it in
the shape of official recommendations and favourable reports, and
supplementary petitions outside the family circle. In obtaining these
the two sisters spent not a little time. When the document fell into the
Governor's hands, therefore, it was buttressed by the most powerful
recommendations procurable. That famous barrister, and then active
legislator, William Bede Dalley, whose name now has a place among the
renowned dead of the motherland in Westminster Abbey, was among its
backers, and the number of signatures amounted at last to nearly five

But there was one recommendation which in point of value must have put
all other recommendations in the shade. It was signed by no less a
personage than the then Colonial Secretary, Mr. William Forster, and ran
as follows:-

Having been referred to in a petition for the mitigation of the sentence
of Francis Christie, as holding the office of Colonial Secretary when an
outbreak occurred in Darlinghurst Gaol, I have much pleasure in
testifying to the fact of Christie's good conduct on that occasion, as
well as to his general conduct during the entire period of his
incarceration, so far as it came under my notice in either case. I am
glad to record this opinion so that it may operate as it ought in the
prisoner's favour. And so far as these and other circumstances mentioned
in the petition entitle his case to favourable consideration of the
Government, I am willing to add my testimony and recommendation.

Then came a report from a medical gentleman, Dr. Moffitt, who evidently
possessed the rare gift of diagnosing moral complaints as well as
physical, and pronouncing upon their several stages. He reported as
follows:- "For about fourteen years I have been medical attendant on the
family of Francis Christie, and have frequently visited him since his
confinement in Darlinghurst, and during my last three visits I was glad
to observe that he was greatly changed for the better, having entirely
lost that peculiar ferocity of character which characterised him
immediately after his capture in 1864; and it is my opinion that he is
now completely recovered from his evil ways, and that it would be
perfectly safe to permit him to go at large." It will be observed that
the worthy physician omitted to say anything concerning the prisoner's
physical health, a rather remarkable circumstance, seeing that one of
the grounds upon which the sisters urged his release was that he was
suffering from heart disease.

When the petition came into the hands of his Excellency's responsible
advisers, the Colonial Secretary (the late Sir Henry Parkes) referred it
to the sheriff and gaoler for report.

The Sheriff, in returning it, wrote the following minute:-


In returning the petition in this case with the usual particulars of
conviction. I have thought it desirable to accompany the same with a
special report from the principal gaoler (herewith enclosed) upon the
conduct and services, together with a report from the visiting surgeon
respecting the health of the prisoner.

Having regard to the prominence of prisoner's career, the circumstances
attending the offences of which he was convicted, and the great length
of his sentence (thirty-two years), the dealing with this case is of
unusual importance in respect of its bearings upon those of numerous
other prisoners serving long sentences for offences of a similar
character imposed during the prevalence of bushranging, who will form
expectations or modify their hopes of commutation according to the
decision that may be arrived at.

There is in the minds of those prisoners an expectation, founded partly
upon the remarks of the Judges when passing sentences, and partly upon
the action of the Government in reductions made in some of the sentences
referred to, that such sentences are not intended to be served in full
or even up to the periods of remission provided by the regulations. And
if this view is to be entertained, it is desirable that the subject
should be considered, and this and the other cases alluded to dealt with
under a general idea of reduction of term of sentence, modified in each
case by the circumstances and the prison career of the prisoner; the
greater proportionate reduction being allowed in the longer sentences
according to the principle laid down in the remission regulations.

It probably was never contemplated that this prisoner should serve the
full period of his sentence, and as he has now served eight years, and
the crime of bushranging has been practically abated, the time for
making any limitation would not seem to be unfavourable. This remark
applies to the other cases in the same category. Such a course would
tend to settle the minds of the prisoners concerned, and give them
encouragement in reformation of conduct and industry.

In the cases of the prisoners referred to, the granting of conditional
pardons (to exile) would in many respects be more desirable than the
granting of actual remissions, and would admit of cases being dealt with
at earlier periods, and without so apparent an interference with the
ordinary operation of the remission regulations. The release of a
prisoner under a conditional pardon is not open, as regards its effects
on the criminal class, to so strong objections as his release in this
colony wherein he might return to his former neighbourhood.

If any reduction be made in the sentence of this or any other similarly
situated prisoner, I would suggest that it be made so that he could earn
remission according to the regulations upon the reduced period, in order
not to withdraw the incitement to good conduct and industry; thus, were
his sentence reduced to twenty or fifteen years, that he could earn a
further reduction of one-fourth. A conditional pardon granted after a
service of ten years would be about equivalent to the reduction of a
sentence to fifteen years on the terms above mentioned. The advantage to
the prisoner, indeed, would generally be with the latter.

September 12, 1872. HAROLD MACLEAN.

It was next sent forward for report to his Honour the Chief Justice, who
had passed the sentences upon the prisoner. And this is what the Chief
Justice said about it:-

The Chief Justice to the Colonial Secretary, Supreme Court, 30th
November, 1872.

Sir,--I have attentively read and maturely considered all the petitions
in Gardiner's favour, with the recommendations attached to them; as also
the reports of the head gaoler and surgeon, and the very judicious
remarks of the Sheriff in his capacity of Inspector of Prisons. I have
seen one or both of prisoner's sisters, who are the principal
petitioners, and the persons to whom he is indebted for the numerous
signatures which are before me. I have also more than once, although not
of late, seen Gardiner, and personally received representations from
him. And I feel deep sympathy for those affectionate relatives, who arc,
I believe, respectable members of society. I moreover think it probable
that Gardiner's desire to abstain from evil is sincere, and perhaps may
be permanent. But remembering what I do of his career, what his past
character and his crimes have been, and the notoriety which these have
acquired, as well as the widely spread mischief which his leadership and
tutoring for so many years occasioned, I dare not incur the
responsibility of advising any mitigation in his case. I do not mean
that none should at any time be granted, but the end and object of all
punishments are, first, the preventing of the individual, and secondly,
the deterring of other individuals, from the committing of similar
crimes. And I am satisfied from long experience and observation, that
the particular crime of bushranging, with its frightful loss of life and
property, and the insecurity of both which it entailed, with its
attendant terrorism, has been reduced to its present dimensions and
state solely by the rigorously severe punishments (in which I include
the deaths of some of the criminals by the police as well as by the
Courts of Justice) inflicted upon the perpetrators. In several
instances, no doubt, the penal servitude punishments have been
mitigated, as the crime itself has gradually diminished in frequency.
But I am compelled by a sense of duty, in this case peculiarly irksome,
to point out, that of Gardiner's companions two or three have been
executed for crimes in which he participated; that for the shooting both
of Constable Hosie and Sergeant Middleton, he himself narrowly (and most
unrighteously) escaped a capital conviction; and that of the thirty-two
years to which he was justly sentenced, he has as yet barely endured


Four days after, the petition with all its attachments was sent on to
the Governor by the Colonial Secretary, who specially directed his
Excellency's attention to the signatures of prominent public men,
notably those of Messrs. Dalley, Driver, Hill, Eckford (members of
Parliament), and also to the minute of the former Colonial Secretary,
Mr. W. Forster. The petition duly reached the Governor's hands, and his
Excellency returned an answer next day in words few but pointed. "When
the prisoner has served ten years," he wrote, "his case may again be
brought forward. If his conduct should in the meantime be good, I should
feel disposed to grant him then a pardon, conditionally on his leaving
the country. At present I do not concur with the petitioners that the
sentence which the prisoner has undergone is sufficient for the ends of

An ineffectual attempt was made early in 1874 to obtain an unconditional
pardon; then suddenly the news of the bushranger's release was sprung
upon the public--for hitherto the negotiations had been known only to
the chief authorities, the prisoner, and the prisoner's relatives. The
news came through the press reports of proceedings in Parliament. Three
months more of the ten years of imprisonment which the Governor had
fixed as the limit of Gardiner's punishment only had to run when an
inquisitive member of the Legislative Assembly asked the Colonial
Secretary if it was true that the Government intended to release the
prisoner before the expiration of the sentence passed upon him; and if
so, when was that intention to be carried into effect? The question was
asked on April 29th, 1874. The answer was given at once; Mr. Parkes
produced and read petitions, recommendations and reports, some of which
I have already given, and stated that the termination of the ten years
would be about the 6th July following.

Then arose a storm as fierce and long-continued as any that had burst
over the political world of New South Wales since the establishment of
Responsible Government. From both sides of the House the action of the
Government in assenting to the release of this notorious bushranger was
denounced as an outrage, a foolish and injudicious interference with the
proper course of justice, an exhibition of weak-mindedness and disregard
of the people's welfare that admitted of no excuse.

Mr. Parkes laid great stress upon the fact that his predecessor in
office--Mr. Forster--had attached a minute to the petition of two years
previously, which he contended was a recommendation that the prayer of
the petition should be granted. From the front Opposition benches Mr.
Forster vigorously denounced this interpretation, pointing out that he
had simply placed on record his endorsement of the statement made by the
petitioners that Gardiner's conduct since his imprisonment had been
exemplary, being careful not to give an opinion that it was right to
liberate the man. And certainly it would not be right, he contended, to
liberate him under the conditions of exile stated, unless the Government
could obtain a bond from others that he would not return. Night after
night the Opposition harassed the Government by putting questions and
moving motions, and for the time being every other question sank into

Meanwhile the time for Gardiner's liberation was rapidly approaching,
and the Assembly waited with not a few signs of impatience for the
production of promised papers relating to the other prisoners who were
to receive conditional pardons with Gardiner. The return asked for came
at last. As it records the exploits of several bushrangers whose stories
appear elsewhere, I give it in the form in which it was laid before


William Brookman, for wounding with intent to murder; convicted 16th
January, 1868; term of sentence, death, commuted to 15 years' roads;
period served 6 1/3 years; previous convictions, none known.
Recommendation of the Sheriff--May be allowed conditional pardon after
13th April, 1874; question of liberation in colony to be postponed.
Decision of his Excellency--Approved; H.R., 1st October, 1873.

Samuel Clarke, for robbery, being armed, and horse stealing; convicted,
18th April, 1866; term of sentence, 15 years' roads; period served,8
1/12 years; previous convictions, none known. Recommendation of
Sheriff--May be allowed a conditional pardon; failing means, to be
brought forward for consideration for liberation in January, 1875.
Decision of his Excellency--Approved: H.R., 1st October, 1873.

Daniel Shea, for robbery, being armed; conviction, 6th November, 1860;
term of sentence, 15 years' roads, first 2 in irons; period served, 8
1/2 years; previous convictions, stealing 2 years. Recommendation of the
Sheriff--May be allowed a conditional pardon. Decision of his
Excellency--Approved; H.R., October 1st, 1873.

William Willis, alias Dunkley, for robbery, being armed, three charges;
convicted 16th May, 1866; term of sentence, 15 years' roads; period
served, 8 years; previous convictions, stealing (3)--9 months, 18
months, 6 months. Recommendation of the Sheriff--May be allowed a
conditional pardon. Decision of his Excellency--Approved; H.R., October
1, 1873.

Alexander Fordyce, for robbery and wounding; convicted 23rd February,
1863; term of sentence, death; commuted to life, first 3 years in irons;
period served, 11 1/4 years; previous convictions, none. Recommendation
of the Sheriff--May be allowed a conditional pardon now; failing taking
advantage, case to be brought forward commencement of June, 1874.
Decision of his Excellency--Approved; H.R., October 1, 1873.

John Payne, for robbery under arms, two charges; convicted 14th January,
1868; term of sentence, 20 years, two of ID years each, second sentence
remitted by his Excellency; period served, 6 1/2 years; previous
convictions, none. Recommendation of the Sheriff--May be allowed a
conditional pardon after service of 7 years. Decision of his
Excellency--Approved; H.R., 1st October, 1873.

James Jones, for robbery under arms; convicted 31st March, 1864; term of
sentence, 15 years, first 3 in irons; period served, 10 1/12 years;
previous convictions, none. Recommendation of the Sheriff--May be
allowed a conditional pardon after service of 10 years. Decision of his
Excellency--Approved; H.R., 1st October, 1873.

Robert Cotterell, alias Blue Cap, for robbery, being armed; convicted
20th April, 1868; term of sentence, 10 years on roads; period served, 6
1/12 years, previous convictions, none. Recommendation of the
Sheriff--Not a case for liberation; may be allowed a conditional pardon.
Decision of his Excellency--Approved; H.R., 1st October, 1873.

James Boyd, alias M'Grath, for robbery, being armed; convicted 24th
February. 1864; term of sentence, 10 years on roads; period served, 9
1/4 years; previous conviction, horse stealing, 5 years on roads.
Recommendation of the Sheriff--May be allowed a conditional pardon.
Decision of his Excellency--Approved; H.R., October 1, 1873.

Thomas Cunningham, alias Smith, for robbery under arms; convicted 9th
April, 1867; term of sentence. 15 years' roads; period served 7 1/12
years; previous convictions, none known. Recommendation of the
Sheriff--May be allowed a conditional pardon; failing to avail, case to
be brought forward for liberation in January, 1876. Decision of his
Excellency--Approved, H.R., October 1, 1873.

Charles Hugh Gough, alias Windham, alias Bennett, for robbery under
arms; convicted 9th April, 1867; term of sentence, 15 years' roads;
period served, 7 1/12 years; previous conviction, assault with intent to
rob, 3 years. Recommendation of the Sheriff--To be allowed conditional
pardon; failing to avail, case to be brought forward for liberation in
January, 1876. Decision of his Excellency--Approved, H.R., October 1,

Thomas Dargue, for robbery, being armed, convicted 28th March, 1867;
term of sentence, 10 years' roads (first year in irons); period served,
7 1/6 years; previous convictions, none known. Recommendation of the
Sheriff--May be allowed a conditional pardon, case for liberation to be
brought forward in September, 1874. Decision of his Excellency--Approved;
H.R., September 1, 1873.

Henry Dargue, for robbery, being armed; convicted 28th March, 1867; term
of sentence, 10 years' roads; period served, 7 1/6 years; previous
convictions, none known. Recommendation of the Sheriff--May be allowed
conditional pardon; case for liberation to be brought forward in
September, 1874. Decision of his Excellency--Approved; H.R., September
1, 1873.

John Kelly, for robbery, being armed; convicted 11th March, 1867; term
of sentence, 14 years (first 2 in irons); period served, 7 1/6 years;
previous convictions, embezzlement. 2 years. Recommendation of the
Sheriff--May be allowed conditional pardon; case may be brought forward
for liberation in May, 1875. Decision of his Excellency--Apprived; H.R.,
September 1, 1873.

James Smith, robbery, being armed; convicted 15th April, 1867; term of
sentence, 17 years' roads; period served, 7 1/12 years; previous
convictions, horse-stealing (2 charges), 3 years' road. Recommendation
of the Sheriff--Case to be brought forward for consideration as to
conditional pardon in May, 1874. Decision of his Excellency--Approved;
H.R., September 1, 1873.

John Foran, robbery, being armed, three charges; convicted 18th October,
1867; term of sentence, 15 years' roads; period served, 6 7/12 years;
previous convictions, none known. Recommendation of the Sheriff--May be
brought forward for conditional pardon in January, 1874. Decision of his
Excellency--Approved; H.R., September 1, 1873.

Edward Kelly, for robbery with arms; convicted, 14th January, 1868; term
of sentence, 15 years' roads; period served, 6 1/3 years; previous
convictions, none known. Recommendation of the Sheriff--Case for
conditional pardon. May be brought forward in April, 1874. Decision of
his Excellency--Approved; H.R., September 1, 1873.

John Williams, for wounding with intent to murder; convicted 14th
January, 1868; term of sentence, death, commuted to 15 years' roads;
period served, 6 1/3 years; previous convictions, none known.
Recommendation of the Sheriff--May be brought forward for consideration
as to conditional pardon in April, 1874. Decision of his
Excellency--Approved; H.R., September 1, 1873.

William H. Simmons, for robbery, being armed; convicted 6th April, 1868;
term of sentence, 15 years' roads; period served, 6 1/12 years; previous
convictions, larceny (2 charges), 10 years' roads. Recommendation of the
Sheriff--May be brought forward for conditional pardon in April, 1874.
Decision of his Excellency--Approved; H.R., September 1, 1873.

William Taverner, for robbery, being armed; convicted 5th April, 1867;
term of sentence, 10 years' roads, commuted to 8 years; period served. 5
1/12; previous convictions, none known. Recommendation of the
Sheriff--May be allowed conditional pardon; case for liberation to be
brought forward in April, 1875. Decision of his Excellency--Approved; H.
R., September 1, 1873.

Daniel Taylor, for robbery, being armed, and horse stealing; convicted
24th October, 1865; term of sentence, 15 years' road; period served, 8
1/12 years; previous convictions, none known. Recommendation of the
Sheriff--May be allowed conditional pardon; case for liberation to be
brought forward in January, 1875. Decision of his Excellency--Approved;
H. R., September 1, 1873.

John Bollard, for assault, with intent to rob, being armed; convicted
19th October, 1869; term of sentence, 10 years' roads; period served, 4
7/12 years; previous convictions, none known. Recommendation of the
Sheriff--May be brought forward for conditional pardon in October, 1874.
Decision of his Excellency--Approved; H. R., September 1, 1873.

Francis Christie, alias Clarke, alias Gardiner, for wounding, with
intent to do grievous bodily harm, and highway robbery; convicted 8th
July, 1864; term of sentence, 32 years' roads, first 2 in irons; period
served, 10 years; previous convictions, horse stealing, 14 years.
Recommendation of the Sheriff--(Full reports, minutes, &c., in this case
already laid before Parliament).

John Bow, for robbery and wounding; convicted 26th February, 1863; term
of sentence, death, commuted to life on roads, first 3 years in irons;
period served, 11 1/4 years; previous convictions, none. Recommendation
of the Sheriff--May be allowed a conditional pardon now (in August,
1873); failing to take advantage thereof, case for liberation in the
colony to be brought forward in June, 1874. Decision of his
Excellency--I approve the Sheriff's recommendation in this case; H. R.,
19th August, 1873.

Undoubtedly, the majority of the bushrangers named owed their release to
the determination of the authorities to open the prison doors for
Gardiner. It would not look well to release such a notorious
offender--and it had been ordained that by hook or by crook he should be
set free--without releasing others who had been guilty of similar
offences. Needless to say, the prisoners concerned were not slow to
avail themselves of the advantage held out to them.

A word or two concerning the conditions of exile. They at least were not
formed for the occasion, but were a relic of the former convict-prison
days. An Act of Parliament, passed in 1847 (No. 34, II Vic.), provided
in the 4th Clause as follows:- "And be it enacted that it shall be
lawful for the Governor, or officer administering the Government, to
grant to any prisoner under any sentence or order for transportation, or
of hard labour, who shall have served on the roads or other public works
of the colony for not less than two years in any case, a remission of
the remainder of the term for which he shall have been so sentenced, or
ordered for transportation, or hard labour, on condition that he shall
not remain in or come within the colony during the residue of his said
term; and it shall be lawful for the said Governor to make such rules or
regulations as he shall think fit for the mitigation or remission,
conditional or otherwise, of any sentence or order for punishment under
this Act, as an incentive to reward for good conduct, whilst the
offender shall be serving under such sentence or order, and to mitigate
or remit the term of punishment accordingly."

It will be observed that this clause was not mandatory, but only
permissive, and it left the Governor (who then possessed almost absolute
powers) to exercise his discretion. The Governor was at liberty to allow
any prisoner to depart after two years of punishment, no matter what
might be the length of his sentence, the only condition being that he
should not return to the colony until his term of punishment had
expired. Such return, however, could not be treated as a new offence,
and the only punishment for it was imprisonment for the balance of the
unexpired term. As the clause stood, exile merely from the colony was
required; but the regulations under it required exile from all the
colonies and New Zealand. It the earlier days expatriation was in itself
a punishment, but as settlements grew up in the neighbourhood of the
colonies, it became much less distasteful to prisoners. Obtaining his
freedom under this Act, Gardiner would not be required to go farther
afield than New Caledonia or Fiji, where he would be within a week's
voyage of the powerful friends who had agitated so strongly for his

The production of the papers relating to the release of the twenty-four
prisoners was the signal for the resumption of angry debate in the
House. It was an anxious time for the Parkes Ministry, for as the debate
proceeded they became aware of the fact that many of their supporters
were undecided as to their vote. When heads were counted it was found
that if all those who had spoken against the proposed release also voted
against it, there would be a majority against the Government; and as a
last resource the Government raised the cry that the motion was intended
to oust them from office. This trick was only just successful: when the
division was taken, it was found that the members were equal, there
being twenty-six for and twenty-six against. For a time there was a
scene of the wildest excitement, the climax of which was reached when
the Speaker gave his casting vote with the Government, and thus defeated
the motion.

But the agitation was still kept up outside the House. Public meetings
were held in every important centre, at which condemnatory resolutions
were passed, and petitions against the release were signed; and every
prominent man in those centres either made a speech or in some other way
gave evidence of his opposition to the action of the Governor and his
advisers. Petitions to the House and to the Governor were prepared and
carried at those meetings without dissent, and no movement since that
for the cessation of transportation to the colony had taken such a firm
hold of the public mind. The character of the petitions did not vary,
and the following, which was passed at a public meeting held at Bathurst
on the evening of June 2nd, 1874, will serve to show how deeply public
feeling had been stirred:-


The petition of the undersigned--Francis Halliday, Mayor of the city of
Bathurst--(signed on behalf of a public meeting of the citizens of the
said city and residents in the district of Bathurst), respectfully

1. That your petitioners regard with feelings of astonishment and
apprehension the proposed action of his Excellency the Governor in
liberating a number of prisoners of the Crown now undergoing sentences
for robbery under arms and other like offences against life and

2. That your petitioners have but recently emerged from a period of
terrorism, in consequence of the raids of bushrangers upon their
property, and the assaults of armed robbers upon peaceful travellers by
public conveyances, whereby many valuable lives have been sacrificed to
the brutality of an armed banditti, by whom law and order have been set
at defiance.

3. That your petitioners believe such a state of disorder and
lawlessness will be revived by the simultaneous release of a number of
prisoners who have served but a minor portion of the time to which they
were sentenced, if the ill-advised clemency of his Excellency the
Governor is carried into effect with regard to the liberation of the
prisoners before mentioned.

4. That your petitioners are strengthened in the belief by the fact that
many released prisoners have already returned to their evil courses, and
that bushranging and mail robberies are now becoming of very frequent
occurrence, and in many, even in most, instances may be traced to old
offenders, who have been set free after serving a moiety of their

5. Your petitioners strongly deprecate a policy of pseudo-sympathy in
their cases, and would respectfully urge upon the members of your
honorable House their individual responsibility as representatives and
protectors of the people whose lives and prosperity are now jeopardised;
and your petitioners desire that your honorable House will use such
constitutional and lawful means as it may be in your power and authority
to employ in order to prevent--or, at least, protest against--a release
of Crown prisoners, which they cannot but regard as a public calamity,
and as tending to the commencement of a new era of demoralisation and

It was all so much useless expenditure of strength, however. The
Governor had given his promise, and the promise must be kept. At the
last meeting of the Executive Council before the prorogation, his
Excellency laid before the members six petitions and memorials which had
been sent to him and forwarded a minute setting forth his views on the
subject. As that minute really formed the Governor's defence, it is
necessary in justice to him that I should give it in full. It reads


I have to lay before the Executive Council six petitions and memorials
which have been addressed to me with regard to the proposed mitigation
of Gardiner's sentence. These representations, viewed in connection with
the public discussions which have recently taken place on the same
subject, have led me carefully to consider whether any fresh facts have
been brought to light which would justify me in disappointing now the
expectations which I raised when this prisoner's case was first
submitted to me--about eighteen months ago.

It is true that no positive compact was then made with the prisoner, or
any decision given in the nature of an absolute remission, which would
of course have been irrevocable; but it is beyond question that a hope
was held out to him by my minute of the 5th December, 1872, that if he
continued to conduct himself well he would in all probability be allowed
a pardon, conditional on his leaving the country so soon as he had
served ten years of this sentence.

I think that this may fairly be held as being tantamount to a promise
contingent alone on the prisoner's good conduct in gaol; and that it was
so viewed by myself at the time, and by the Honorable the Colonial
Secretary subsequently, is apparent from my minute of the 7th December,
1872, in which I stated, "I have already decided to grant a conditional
pardon at the termination of ten years' imprisonment." and from the
Colonial Secretary's minute of the 24th April last, in which, when
submitting to me a petition for Gardiner's release, he observes, "the
prisoner has been authorised a conditional pardon, the condition being
exile." The sheriff, too, obviously viewed the matter in precisely the
same light, and referred in his letter of the 21st January, 1873, and in
his minute of the 20th April, 1874, to Gardiner's case as one that had
been practically decided and disposed of.

I may mention that it has been the practice here for many years for the
Governor, when dealing with applications for mitigation which have
appeared premature, to fix a date at which the case might again be
brought under his consideration. Hopes so held out have always been
regarded by the prison authorities, and by the prisoners themselves, as
equivalent to promises of pardon, conditional on good conduct; and in
every such case the expectation so raised has been, I believe,
scrupulously fulfilled. I remember one case in which Sir Alfred Stephen,
as Administrator of the Government, intimated to one of the most
prominent and daring of the bushrangers that his case might again be
brought forward for consideration as soon as he had served seven out of
the nineteen years to which he had been sentenced. The papers came
before me at the time specified, and, as the case appeared to me a bad
one, I declined to sanction any greater remission than that contemplated
under the general regulations for bushranging cases, unless Sir Alfred
Stephen's intimation was held to be a promise. I was informed by the
Sheriff that this was unquestionably the view in which the decision had
been looked on in the gaol, and I accordingly authorised the prisoner's
discharge on a conditional pardon four years before the date at which he
would have been eligible for exile under the special mitigation
regulations laid down for such cases.

Of course I am aware that, under certain circumstances, it might be wise
and proper to withhold the fulfilment of such promises, whether positive
or implied. For example, a promise given under false representations
would not be binding: and a promise to release a prisoner which it was
subsequently found would, if carried out, imperil the public safety,
should be cancelled. The practical question for consideration in the
present case is, therefore, simply this: Are there any such grounds
which would justify me in now withholding the conditional pardon which
nearly two years ago I led Gardiner and his friends to expect that he
might receive about this time?

I have seen it urged that Gardiner's case was decided upon false
representations, it being alleged that some of the signatures attached
to the petition were forgeries, and that there was a previous conviction
against Gardiner in Victoria, which had been concealed. But I think
these grounds, even if they were facts, which they have not been proved
to be, would be quite insufficient to release me from my implied
promise. In a petition so numerously and influentially signed, a few
signatures more or less of persons of whom I had no knowledge would have
been immaterial; and I cannot say that my decision would have been
different if it had been stated on the papers that before Gardiner
commenced his criminal career in New South Wales, he had been convicted
in Victoria of horse stealing in 1850--nearly a quarter of a century
ago. In view of the grave character of his crimes in New South Wales,
such a comparatively minor offence would have appeared insignificant. I
must, therefore, as I have said, dismiss these pleas as insufficient.

The question remains--would the public safety be in any way jeopardised
if the expectation held out to Gardiner of being allowed to exile after
ten years were now fulfilled? I think not. Sir Alfred Stephen observes
in his letter on Gardiner's case that "the end and object of all
punishment are, first, the preventing of the individual, and secondly,
the deterring of other individuals, from the committing of similar
crimes." Have these ends been attained in the present case? I think they
have. The sentence of thirty-two years passed upon Gardiner was imposed
at a time of great excitement, and his punishment would seem to have
been measured more in view of the crimes with which he was supposed to
have been connected than with reference solely to those of which he was
actually convicted. It was probably never intended that such a sentence
should be served in full; and, looking dispassionately at all the
circumstances of the case, I consider that ten years of rigorous penal
discipline within the walls of a gaol--the first two years in
irons--followed by expatriation for a further period of twenty-two
years, is a punishment amply sufficient to satisfy the ends of justice,
and to deter others from following Gardiner's bad example.

Whether Gardiner's apparent reformation is sincere, is a point which
time alone can determine. I am myself disposed to think after the
experience he has gained, and under the altered circumstances of the
colony, he might be released even in Sydney without any substantial
danger; but there are many persons who apparently think differently, and
who believe that if Gardiner had an opportunity, he would revert to
bushranging; and these fears, which are entitled to consideration, have
been aggravated by a few isolated robberies which have occurred just at
the time when this case was attracting public attention. Assuming,
however, that these apprehensions are reasonable and well founded, it
appears to me that they are fully met by the condition of exile, which
the Government will of course take effectual means to enforce. A
Legislative enactment authorises and empowers the Government to take the
necessary steps for this purpose, and none of the old and settled
countries will offer opportunities for the peculiar crime of
bushranging, even if Gardiner were disposed to revert to it. I do not
think sufficient weight has been allowed throughout the community to
this condition of exile, which it is intended to attach to Gardiner's
pardon, and which supplies, in my opinion, effectual security for
"preventing the individual from the committing of similar crimes."

The end and object of all punishment would therefore seem to have been
secured by the course which it is proposed to adopt in the present case.
The prisoner has, I hold, been sufficiently punished, and he can, I
conceive, with safety be set free, upon condition of his leaving the
country. If, while entertaining, as I do, these opinions, I were to
break faith with the prisoner, and retain him in gaol beyond the time
specified for his liberation, I should be doing so, not because I think
such a course necessary, but simply in response to clamour, which I
believe to be unreasonable and unjust. It is indispensable for the
maintenance of prison discipline, that every hope held out to prisoners
should be scrupulously fulfilled; that every promise made or implied,
should be held sacred, or broken only on grounds the sufficiency of
which would be apparent even to prisoners' minds. I can see no such
grounds in the present case; and I am convinced that the moral bad
effect upon the whole body of prisoners throughout the colony, as well
as upon the community generally, which would result from disappointing
without sufficient reason an expectation raised by her Majesty's
representative, would be infinitely greater than any practical
inconvenience which would be likely to result from keeping faith with
the prisoner and allowing him to leave the country.

For these reasons I think that Gardiner should receive a conditional
pardon at the time when he was led to expect one; and that the
Government should at the same time take steps to secure, as far as
practicable, the continued absence of the prisoner from the Australian
colonies during the unexpired term of his sentence. I am sorry to think
that such an exercise of the Royal prerogative of pardon is unfavourably
regarded at the present moment by certain sections of the public, but it
appears to me that the course which I suggest is the only course now
open to the Government consistent with honour and justice, and I
confidently anticipate that the fairness of this view will eventually be
acknowledged by all impartial and reflecting members of the community.

HERCULES ROBINSON. Government House, 23rd June, 1874.

The Executive under the circumstances could not do otherwise than agree
with his Excellency; disagreement would have involved stultification;
and hence the clerk received instructions to record the following
minute:- "The Council having duly considered the petitions and minute
referred to, are of opinion that sufficient grounds do not exist to
warrant them in advising his Excellency to depart from the promise
implied in his Excellency's minute of the 5th December, 1872, upon the
case of the prisoner Gardiner."

Meanwhile Gardiner was making preparations for bidding adieu to the
prison walls of Darlinghurst; and at last the day of deliverance
arrived. On the morning of Monday, July 20th, 1874, the doors of the
prison which had been closed upon him for ten years were thrown open for
him and the other prisoners who had, on his account more than on their
own, obtained a remission of their sentences. But it was not to the
"bosom of his family" that he was restored. The sisters who had pleaded
so hard for him to be released to their arms had to be content with a
passing embrace. On the evening of the day that the prison gates swung
back to admit of his egress, Gardiner was conducted to a cabin in the
steamer Dandenong, then running between Sydney and Newcastle, a few
officials and the relatives and friends who had been kept in touch with
the movements of the authorities only being present to witness the
embarkation. Two detectives accompanied him, and on the steamer's
arrival at Newcastle he was removed to the lock-up, there to be detained
pending the departure of the vessel (the Charlotte Andrews) in which he
was to be conveyed into exile, and which was not quite ready to start.

On the afternoon of the 27th the vessel was ready to receive him, and
the necessary steps were taken to remove the prisoner from the lock-up
to the place on board prepared. Sub-Inspector Thorpe and Detective
Elliott accompanied him from the lock-up to the vessel, which was lying
in the stream, with the tug alongside, ready for sea. Meanwhile, the
news that Gardiner was being "shipped" had leaked out, and the Newcastle
people were speedily on the qui vive, all being more or less anxious to
obtain a last look at the liberated prisoner. A large crowd had
assembled in front of the court house prepared to follow Gardiner and
his guardians to the wharf; but the officers did not desire display.
Gardiner was taken out of the lock-up by the back way, while a
water-police constable, accompanied by a detective with a bulky carpet
bag, came out of the front door and proceeded to the wharf by the usual
road. The crowd at once concluded that the man with the bag was
Gardiner, and immediately started in full pursuit, escorting the pair of
"dummies" to the ordinary landing place at the steamer's wharf, while
the real Simon Pure went off to the barque in a boat from another point.

Very little more remains to be said concerning Gardiner. If he landed in
China he did not stay there. The free and easy life of San Francisco
suited him better than life with the Children of the Sun, and in San
Francisco he was shortly afterwards found, snugly located as the
proprietor of a "saloon." For many years he plied this calling,
and--whether from choice or necessity, who shall say?--came to the end
of his days an honest man; a free man but an exile, while yet the time
of the sentence passed upon him was unexpired. More than one person who
saw him in his saloon in America has declared to me that he died a few
years ago, and in the absence of any proof to the contrary I see no
reason for disputing their testimony.



[Passing reference has already been made to the outrage committed at
Caloola--a small village about eighteen miles from Bathurst--and the
reader will remember that it was to deal specially with their case that
the Bathurst people first suggested to the Government the holding of a
special assize.]

In November, 1862, Mr. Henry Stephens kept an inn and store at Caloola
and drove a flourishing trade, chiefly with travellers to and from the
Trunkey and Tuena goldfields.

On the morning of the 22nd, three men in the garb of ordinary travellers
alighted at the door, and after spending a short time in conversation
with Stephens and his wife, sat down with them to breakfast. During the
meal, one of the men, who had previously been through the house to the
back, complained that he was unwell, and, begging to be excused, rose
from the table and passed out into the yard. Shortly afterwards unusual
sounds were heard proceeding from the passage leading into the dining
room, and upon looking to ascertain the cause, Mr. Stephens saw the
man-servant entering the room, closely attended by the man who had
retired. The servant's face betokened fear, his arms were pinioned, and
the stranger was holding a revolver to his head. Almost before the
landlord and his wife had realised the situation the two men at the
table sprang to their feet and also drew revolvers. Mr. Stephens at once
made at attempt to rise, saying, with astonishment, "Hello, what's up
now?" when one of the men, without saying a word, fired point blank at
him. The shot struck him in the mouth, and, with a groan, he fell back
on the floor in his blood.

Turning to Mrs. Stephens, who was almost paralysed with horror and
fright, they ordered her to hand over the money in the house, intimating
that if she hesitated, they would treat her like her husband, who
although not dead, was apparently mortally wounded. The distracted woman
had no alternative but to obey their commands, and at once handed over
20, at the same time sobbing out that they might have obtained the
money without committing murder, if that was all they came for. They
threatened to shoot her if she did not keep quiet, and one of the
ruffians took from her pocket about forty shillings in silver. Having
searched the house, and appropriated all the valuables upon which they
could lay their hands, the three men prepared to leave, but before
passing out they took from the store a pair of saddle bags, a box of
razors, a bottle of spirits, and other articles. As soon as opportunity
offered Mrs. Stephens went to her husband, and finding that he still
lived, although terribly wounded, she followed them to the door and
begged them to go or send for a doctor; this they promised to do, saying
that her husband "would come round all right by-and-bye." They then rode
off into the bush.

As soon as the bloodthirsty trio had departed, the man-servant set off
to the nearest neighbour, while Mrs. Stephens sought to assist her
husband. A messenger rode post haste to Rockley, the nearest township,
for the police; but as there were none there at the time, he galloped to
Bathurst, and there gave information to the superintendent of police,
who immediately started for Caloola, accompanied by three troopers and a
black tracker.

The news of the outrage spread rapidly, and it was chiefly owing to this
that the authorities were enabled to pick up the tracks of the three
men, who had disappeared from Caloola long before word of the occurrence
had reached the police. While the police were still in the dark as to
the direction they had taken, two civilians on the Fish River side had
seen them and taken steps to intercept their flight. On Sunday
morning--the day following the robbery--Mr. William Webb, of Mutton's
Falls, observed three suspicious-looking characters near the river
crossing, and shortly afterwards Mr. Edward Locke, who had also seen
them, suggested that they might be the men concerned in the Caloola
outrage. Mr. Webb at once decided to communicate with the police, and
hurriedly rode to Diamond Swamp, the nearest police station, and gave
information of the proximity of the suspicious-looking strangers. Having
secured the services of Constables Woods, Wright, and D'Arcy he returned
with them towards the Fish River. When about eight miles from Diamond
Swamp, they met one of the three travelling by himself, and ordering him
to pull up they asked him where his mates were. He denied that he had
any mates, but afterwards said they had gone towards Bathurst. He was
secured and shortly afterwards said that the other two men were on the
road, and were not very far distant. Leaving the prisoner in safe
custody Mr. Webb and the police galloped onwards, and very soon came
upon the other two men, whom they cleverly captured before the villains
were able to use their firearms. It was very soon ascertained that these
were the three men for whom the Superintendent and his troopers were
searching in another part of the district; and having been kept in safe
custody during the remainder of the day and night, they were on the
Monday morning escorted into Bathurst and lodged in durance vile. They
were shortly afterwards confronted by Mr. Stephens, who without
hesitation identified them as the men who on the Saturday had visited
his place, and after shooting him robbed the house. The saddle bags also
and some of the other articles found in possession of the men were
identified as part of the property that had been stolen. As may be
supposed, the rejoicing was general that the reign on the road of these
blood-thirsty scoundrels had been so short; and the prompt movements of
Mr. Webb and the police who accompanied him were very highly commended
by the residents of the district. Had Messrs. Webb and Locke nursed
their suspicions until the opportunity came to them of communicating
them to the authorities, in all probability the three ruffians would
have escaped, if not altogether, for a time sufficient for them to work
more mischief. Having himself had some experience of bushrangers (under
circumstances which will be narrated hereafter) Mr. Webb knew the value
of "heading his men." He made the opportunity instead of waiting for it,
and the result was the speedy arrest and imprisonment of three ruffians
who were escaping from justice.

Without delay the three men were brought before the Bathurst Police
Court for a preliminary hearing. They gave the names of Alexander Ross,
Charles Ross, and William O'Connor. Constables George Wood and James
Wright were examined and gave evidence as to the manner in which the
prisoners were captured, and described the properties found upon them,
and the case was remanded for seven days. The excitement amongst the
townspeople in this case was very great, large numbers flocking to the
court house to hear the evidence and get a sight of the prisoners. It
was at this juncture that the question was first seriously mooted in
Bathurst concerning the advisableness of memorialising the Government to
appoint a Special Commission for the speedy trial of these men, with
others who were at that time in custody on serious charges of
bushranging in the Western District.

The prisoners were again brought up when the period of remand had
expired, the charge preferred against them being that of attempting to
murder Henry Stephens. The latter had at this time recovered
sufficiently to give evidence against them. He deposed to the truth of
the statements he had previously made in the case, and, positively
identifying all the prisoners, stated that Alexander Ross was the man by
whom he was shot. The witness further stated that when he was shot he
fell to the floor insensible, and when he came to himself he was nearly
choked with a quantity of clotted blood in the throat, and while pulling
the blood from his mouth to prevent suffocation, one of the prisoners
rifled his pockets on one side and then roughly turned him over on the
floor to search the other pockets.

Then Dr. Machattie gave evidence, as follows:- I know the last witness,
Henry Stephens; on Saturday the 22nd November, about noon, he was
brought to my surgery in a gig; he was in a very weak and exhausted
state and suffering from a gun-shot wound; I had him removed as soon as
he was able to bear it to his brother-in-law's residence, and called in
to my assistance Dr. Busby and Dr. Palmer; on the following morning
early I extracted a bullet from the right side of Mr. Stephens' neck;
the bullet I now produce; it is very much flattened, and seems to be
about the quantity of lead that would be in the ball of a revolver; the
ball entered on the left side of the face about a quarter of an inch
from the side of the mouth, breaking several of the teeth, passed
through the root of the tongue, across the upper part of the gullet into
the right side of the throat, a little behind and close to the carotid
artery and jugular vein, where it lodged until I extracted it in the
presence of Dr. Busby and Dr. Palmer; it was a very dangerous wound; the
shot must have been fired in close proximity to the face, which was very
much scorched and a quantity of the powder still remaining in it.

The prisoners declined to ask any questions or make any statement in
their defence, and were thereupon committed to take their trial at the
next Circuit Court on the 5th March, 1863, or at any time and at such
court as Her Majesty's Attorney-General might appoint.

At the close of the examination Alexander Ross asked the Police
Magistrate if he could apply to be tried at any other place than
Bathurst; the Police Magistrate replied that he could, and if he desired
to do so Mr. Chippendale (the gaoler) would furnish him with pen, ink,
and paper for that purpose.

Then followed the memorial to the Government by the Bathurst people,
which resulted in the appointment of a Special Commission to try, not
only the Caloola robbers, but a whole batch of bushrangers from
different parts of the district.

The Caloola case was set down for hearing in Sydney on February 2nd,
1863, and it fell to the lot of the Chief Justice, Sir Alfred Stephen,
to preside at the trial. The indictment against the three men was that
of assaulting, putting in bodily fear, robbing and wounding with intent
to murder Henry Stephens; and upon being called upon to plead the
following dialogue between one of the prisoners and the judge took

Alexander Ross said that before pleading he would wish the case to be
remanded for a few hours, in order that he might have an opportunity of
speaking to his attorney relative to his defence.

His Honor: In the first place you must plead to the indictment. You are
here charged with a capital crime, and of course, if you have any ground
to show, I would not wish to deprive you of any reasonable opportunity
of defending yourself. Who is the person you would wish to consult?

Prisoner: The priest who visited the gaol yesterday.

His Honor: I must take leave to remark that it appears to me that you
have delayed to the very last, purposely. I have spoken to the Police
Magistrate at Bathurst, and I find that you have now been sent down this
last fortnight, and that you yourself requested that you might be tried
in Sydney. In this fortnight you must have surely had full opportunity
for providing for your defence.

Prisoner: That is true; but it was only last evening that I heard I was
to be supplied with counsel.

His Honor: Who is to undertake it?

Prisoner: I cannot say. The priest who came to the gaol yesterday said I
was to be supplied with counsel.

His Honor: But you do not seem to know who is to undertake your case, or
in fact if anybody is to do so.

Prisoner: I was told that it would be Mr. Dalley.

His Honor: Do you know anything of this, Mr. Dalley?

Mr. Dalley: No, your Honor.

His Honor: Prisoner, you have been guilty of very unjustifiable delay,
and if anything prejudicial to your case occurs through it, you have
only yourself to blame. Some person, a clergyman it appears, visits you
in gaol, and perhaps tells you that he will do what he can to provide
you with counsel, and on that you ask for an adjournment. You can
scarcely expect any good result to follow. Is there any person to whom
you can send for assistance?

Prisoner: Yes. If I only knew the priest who yesterday visited the gaol.
I have no doubt the authorities of the gaol know who this was.

His Honor: I have not read the deposition in your case, for I purposely
abstain from doing this in all cases that I try; I am, therefore, not in
a position to say whether your trial will occupy a long time or not. I
will, however, do this: there is another case with which the Crown is
prepared to proceed, and I will postpone your trial until after that
case has been disposed of. It will occupy about two hours, and in the
meantime you can communicate with the person who is to defend you.
Perhaps Mr. Dalley would not object, as this is a capital charge, to
watch the case for you.

Mr. Dalley: I shall be happy to do what I can for the unfortunate men.

His Honor: Then let the case stand over for the present, and let the
prisoners have an opportunity of communicating with their counsel.

Sufficient time having elapsed for the prisoners to make arrangements,
the case was again called on, and a second and third count were added to
the indictment, the second charging the prisoners with the wounding at
the time of the robbery, and the third with the wounding after the

The case was conducted for the Crown by the Attorney-General, assisted
by Mr. Butler. The counsel assigned by the Court for the defence was Mr.

The Attorney-General opened the case, and stated the main facts to the
jury. The prisoners were charged with stealing, and accompanying the
robbery with wounding. The facts of the case were very simple. It
appeared that at Caloola in September last, the prisoners were at an inn
kept by a Mr. Stephens, and that one of the prisoners having left the
room, suddenly returned with a pistol in his hand. Mr. Stephens jumping
up and saying, "Hullo, what is this?" he was at once shot through the
throat, and afterwards robbed. The evidence was very strong that these
were the three persons concerned in the robbery, as would be found when
the witnesses came to be examined. He would remind them that if two of
the parties were engaged in an unlawful offence, and one of them
proceeded to any act of violence, they were, in the eyes of the law,
guilty of a complicity in the more criminal act. All the circumstances,
and the identity of the prisoners, proved by four witnesses of
unimpeachable character, would be found to be so clearly proved, that a
conviction was, he thought, inevitable. There might be an attempt made
to prove the pistol went off accidentally, but the truth or even
probability of such a thing would, he had every reason to believe, be
amply disproved by the evidence.

Henry Stephens, being sworn, stated that he was a publican, residing at
Caloola. Witness saw the prisoners at seven o'clock on the morning of
the 22nd of September last. Two of them--the two Rosses--came on
horseback, and the other man (O'Connor) on foot. Witness did not then
know their names, but identified them. They came before the door and
O'Connor came in with a bridle in his hand. They asked for nobblers. The
prisoner O'Connor said, in answer to a question put to him by the
witness, that he had lost his horse the night before, and that he had
been nobblerizing on the road. He told witness that his name was
Thompson. There was a great deal of talk between them whilst witness was
getting breakfast ready. The prisoner, Alexander Ross, said he was not
very well, and witness gave him some physic which he had in the house.
They subsequently, all three, sat down to breakfast with the witness,
Mrs. Stephens, and a man named Young. Whilst they were eating their
breakfast Alexander Ross got up and said, putting his hand on his
stomach, "You must excuse me, I am not very well", and so retired.
Witness saw him come back afterwards with the cook. He pushed the cook
in, and said to him, "Go in there, you ---- wretch." He had something in
his hand, and held it out. Witness jumped up, and said, "Hulloa, what is
this?" The man, Alexander Ross, then suddenly drew his hand from the
back of the cook's neck. Witness had just time to see that he had a
pistol in that hand, and to say "Hulloa, what is this?" when the pistol
was fired off, and he was hit in the mouth. The man Alexander Ross was
about a foot from the witness when he so fired. Witness had only time
just to shut his eyes before the pistol went off. Witness fell, and came
to himself, after the shock, a few minutes afterwards. Witness was then
lying on his left side, and heard someone in the bedroom say "Come, we
must have it all." One of the men then came to him, and turned him over
and searched his pockets. Witness was at that time lying in his blood on
the floor--he was, in fact, nearly suffocated. There was some money in
his pocket when he was thus robbed. Saw some new saddle bags which
belonged to him at the Court House at Bathurst. These had been in
witness's store at the time that the prisoners came to his house. There
was a martingale and two cheques missing from his house after that
morning. The saddle bags had a private mark on them. The cheques were in
the witness's bedroom. The notes missed witness could not swear to, but
he could swear to the cheques. Witness believes the martingale produced
to be his, but cannot swear to it. The martingale resembles one which
witness had lost out of his house. Witness was taken into Bathurst to
Dr. Machattie, and saw the prisoners on the Monday following. Witness
could not then speak, but he did recognise them nevertheless. Could not
then speak, but wrote down who they were. It was Alexander Ross who shot
witness, but witness also saw Charles Ross with a revolver, which he
presented at Young. O'Connor rose with Charles Ross, when Alexander Ross
came in with the cook. The man Charles Ross pointed the pistol he had in
his hand towards Young. After witness came to, Alexander Ross said to
the cook "You ---- rogue; I have a great mind to shoot you." Young took
up a chair and waved it about, and said "For God's sake don't fire."
Witness scrambled up and got away, as well as he could, to the sofa,
where he fainted. He heard no more. Witness did not hear the cook say
anything calculated to exasperate the prisoners after witness had been
shot. Witness was unable to speak distinctly for a long time. It was a
few days previous to this trial that he was able once more to speak
distinctly. For a long time he could only speak in whispers.

By Mr. Dalley: I did not see any scuffle between the cook and Alexander
Ross when they came in. The cook was pushed in by the prisoner Ross by
the one hand--not that in which he held the pistol. Witness was sitting
in his chair at the breakfast table. The prisoner Ross and the French
cook, St. Maur, were not more than a yard apart at the time. The other
persons at the breakfast table were on the other side. The seat occupied
by witness was in a line with the door. At the very instant that the
cook and the man Alexander Ross came in, Ross lowered his hand, and
fired. They came in from a passage, by the bar, from the back of the
house. The man Ross was using loud language to the Frenchman as they
came towards the door. Witness thought that there was some dispute
between them, that the cook objected to his being in the kitchen or
something of that sort. The prisoners, Charles Ross and O'Connor, rose
as the two came in. Witness's wife shrieked, but not until after witness
was shot. Witness must have come to soon after being shot, as the men
were in the bedroom when he again became sensible. Witness gave evidence
shortly afterwards when he was still unable to articulate. He wrote down
what he had to say. Witness did say that the prisoner Alexander Ross was
the man who had threatened to shoot the cook, as the cause of his having
shot witness. Witness thinks that what Alexander Ross said was "I'll
shoot you, you ---- dog, because you have been the cause of me shooting
him." Witness did not mention this in giving his evidence in chief just
now, because it did not occur to him. Witness believes that his wife
asked the men to go for a doctor for him after he was shot.

By the Attorney-General: Is quite sure that the prisoner Alexander Ross
had the pistol pointed as he came in. One of the other two men also
pointed a pistol at Young. The pistol was lowered down towards me
(witness) with both hands by Alexander Ross as witness sat--at about a
foot distance from him. The cook was, at the time the shot was fired at
witness, past witness. There was no intervening object between the cook
and witness.

Caroline Stephens deposed that she remembered the 22nd of September
last. She remembered the three prisoners being at her house that day.
The man Alexander Ross left the room during breakfast with some excuse,
and afterwards returned with the cook. This man pushed in the cook, and
a shot was fired and the husband of witness was wounded. The man
Alexander Ross had a pistol in his hand. Witness's husband was shot just
as he was rising. He fell down and, on attempting to rise, fell down
again immediately. Witness said, "My poor husband, you are shot." I saw
one of the other prisoners raise a pistol after my husband was shot.
This was the prisoner in the middle of the dock--Charles Ross. Witness
thinks he was presenting it at the cook. After the pistol was fired
witness saw Young raise the chair, and beg them not to fire. Charles
Ross, after the shot was fired, went into witness's bedroom. O'Connor
ran out of the room when the shot was fired, but he afterwards returned.
Charles Ross was in witness's bedroom for some time getting the money.
Witness said to him, "If it was money you wanted, why did you not ask
for it, and not kill the poor fellow?" What witness gave him consisted
of cheques and notes. Witness gave him the money without taking note of
what it was. There were notes and cheques. The man Charles Ross searched
witness's pockets and took silver from them. Witness gave him the
cheques and notes together. Witness then went into the bar. The next
time witness saw Charles Ross was at the bar door. Charles Ross did not
treat witness with any personal violence. Witness asked Alexander Ross
and the two other men to allow her to go for a doctor. They said that
Mr. Stephens was not hurt, and that he would be better by-and-by. They
said they would go for a doctor as they were going away, and went
towards Bathurst. Did not see O'Connor going away with the two Rosses.
O'Connor had a bridle in his hand, and was there with them before and
after the shot was fired. O'Connor said to witness in the bar that he
could not catch a horse that was then in the yard. Witness missed a pair
of trousers and a pair of razors. Is quite sure that the prisoners in
the dock were the three men. They called out the cook, and tied his
hands behind him. Did not hear them threaten him. Young lifted the chair
after the shot was fired. He lifted it up as a means of defence between
Alexander Ross and the cook. To the best of witness's recollection, the
cook put something over the face of Mr. Stephens after he was wounded.

By Mr. Dalley: Saw Alexander Ross pushing the cook into a room. Saw this
taking place just before they came in. The pistol went off just after
they came to the door. Witness's husband was rising from his chair as he
was shot. The cook was then on the other side of witness. Witness was
not watching the pistol at the time it went off. Saw witness's husband
fall. Saw Alexander Ross pointing the pistol towards her husband. It was
of the pistol that Charles Ross had that witness said she did not know
where it was pointed. Witness saw the pistol when Alexander Ross came in
pointed at the neck of the cook. Witness did not see any alteration of
its direction from the time that witness first saw it until the instant
that her husband was shot. Did not see O'Connor do anything but rush out
of the room when the pistol was fired. O'Connor did not leave the house
with the other two prisoners.

By the Attorney-General: O'Connor left the room after the pistol was
fired, but came back afterwards. It was after the husband of witness was
shot that O'Connor said he was not able to catch one of the horses in
the yard. It was not for the purpose of going for a doctor that he was
trying to catch one of the horses.

John Young (a gold digger for twelve years), being sworn, deposed that
he knew the three prisoners quite well. Remembered the 22nd September;
the three men being at breakfast at Mr. Stephens on that day. Witness
was there at breakfast. Alexander Ross complained of being unwell, and
asked leave to quit the table. Leave was granted, and he left
accordingly. He afterwards returned to the room with the cook, holding a
pistol at the back of his (the cook's) neck. The cook said "Don't shoot
me behind." The direction in which Alexander Ross held the pistol, as he
came in with the cook, was not such as could cause Mr. Stephens to be
shot where he then sat, unless it was lowered. Witness's opinion is,
that after Mr. Stephens was shot the prisoner, Ross, wanted to shoot the
cook, saying he had a mind to take his life. The cook was covering
himself behind witness with a dish. Witness covered himself with a chair
as well as he could. Witness told them if they wanted the money they
could take it without letting their ---- pieces off. They made witness
no answer. Charles Ross went into the bedroom, and Mrs. Stephens went to
attend to the child, which was near being smothered in the bed.
Alexander Ross afterwards came and robbed Mr. Stephens as he lay choking
in his blood like a dog. Witness did not see O'Connor do anything in the
affair. Witness saw Mr. Stephens get up after he was shot and creep
round to the sofa. Witness saw Alexander Ross threaten the cook four or
five times after Stephens was shot. Did not hear anything said about
horses; nothing about the inability of O'Connor to catch some wild
horses in the paddock.

By a juror: Did not see the cook pushed past the landlord just before
the pistol went off.

By the Judge: Saw the pistol presented at the master (Mr. Stephens) as
he was rising. The pistol was pointed downwards towards the
cook--between the cook and the master. Will not swear that the pistol
was pointed at the master. Was at the corner of the table just past the
master at the time. Alexander Ross was not in the room. The cook was
just inside the room, not quite a yard or so from Ross. Witness then saw
the pistol. It was then pointed down. Cannot say whether the pistol was
pointed at the master or at the cook.

By Mr. Dalley: The cook was about a yard from Mr. Stephens, between the
prisoner (Alexander Ross) and Mr. Stephens. Witness was not watching the
pistol, but he saw it nevertheless. Saw the direction of the pistol
altered when master spoke. Until he spoke it was pointed between the
master and the cook. After the master was shot and robbed, witness did
not hear any of the prisoners say to the cook, "I'll shoot you, ----
dog, because you have been the cause of the man being shot." The cook
was crouching behind witness, and witness had the bottom part of the
chair held towards Alexander Ross as he threatened to shoot them
--either him or the cook. Witness tried to save himself as well as the
cook, for he believed the man did not care where he shot. Neither of the
prisoners threatened specially to shoot witness. Did not say at his
examination at Bathurst that the prisoners had either tried to shoot him
or had threatened to shoot him. Was not afraid for himself--his whole
concern was for the poor fellow that was choking at the time.

At the desire of the counsel for the prisoner, the deposition of the
witness Young at the police court at Bathurst was here put in and read,
with a view to showing that the witness had there positively sworn that
the prisoner Alexander Ross had threatened to shoot witness, and that
witness was in dread that he would do so.

Examination continued: Witness did not ever say that Alexander Ross
intended to shoot him. If he did say so, it was a mistake. Never saw any
one shot before. Was never present at any robbery with firearms before;
was calm and collected, and perfectly aware of what took place. The
interval between Alexander Ross entering the room and the explosion was
about five seconds, or might have been more. Protected his head and body
with the chair. Prisoner worked the pistol to and fro, and witness
worked the chair. Dodged his head in watching the movements of the
pistol. (Witness here explained with a chair this part of his evidence.)
Saw O'Connor leave the room directly the shot was fired. He went to the
door leading to the front of the house. There is a back door besides.
Did not hear O'Connor threaten or say anything. There was a means of
exit by the back door through the bar, but not otherwise.

By Mr. Butler: O'Connor could see what was going on from where he stood.

By His Honor: At the moment when the cook was driven in, and Mr.
Stephens was about to rise, I rose and saw Charles Ross and O'Connor
rise; they rose as Stephens fell; saw the pistol then; it was pointed at
one of us; the cook was just coming past as Stephens fell. Did not see
O'Connor do anything. He stood at the door near the threshold. Charles
Ross went into the storeroom. Cannot say the pistol was touched by any
one but the party who held it. Am sure it was pointed towards some of us
before it went off. The pistol when I saw it was pointed between the
cook and Mr. Stephens. It might have been pointed at him or the cook. It
hit Mr. Stephens.

Semond, the cook, deposed: Have been in the colony about a year. Was
engaged as cook at Mr. Stephens'. Saw the three men there. The two
Rosses I saw first. Saw them all at breakfast with the "missus", Young,
and Mr. Stephens. Next saw Alexander Ross in the kitchen; asked him to
come in; I was amusing myself, and had the big knife in my hand. He
said, "What are you doing with the knife--are you going to kill
anyone?" I threw the knife down, and he then drew a revolver from his
breast, and said, "Walk in, you ----." I said, "What for?" He said.
"March in, and I'll show you what for." He followed me in, holding the
pistol close to my head. I could feel it several times against my head.
When we reached the room I was shoved in, and Mr. Stephens rose up and
said something. The pistol was then fired, and he fell. On reaching the
room. Alexander Ross kept presenting the pistol at me, using very bad
language and saying, "You'll have to die before I go." I was behind
Young, who was protecting himself with a chair. Only one shot was fired.
When Stephens was, as I thought, dead on the floor. Alexander Ross went
down on his knees and searched his pockets. I saw him take some silver
from Stephens' pockets. Charles Ross, on leaving the room, went into the
bar, and took two or three bottles of spirits. Did not see him take any
saddles and saddle bags; Charles Ross tied my hands while Alexander
pointed the pistol at me. They searched me. Afterwards they went away,
one of them having brought round the horses. I next saw the prisoners at
Bathurst a week after the occurrence.

By Mr. Dalley: Did not see the pistol go off, Alexander Ross gave me a
push into the room, and immediately after the pistol went off. Stephens
was beyond me in the direction I was going when the pistol went off. I
was between Alexander Ross and Mr. Stephens.

By His Honor: Air. Stephens was behind me in the room.

By Mr. Dalley: When shot Mr. Stephens fell at my feet. Cannot say where
Young sat. I had to come about twenty-five yards from the kitchen to the
room. I did not resist or provoke him by word or gesture. He could have
shot me as I was coming along if he liked. He said in the room several
times "You wretch, it was all through you." This was after the pistol
went off. I understood from this that he wished to console the wife, who
was crying and excited, by attributing the occurrence to me. He pushed
me all the way along from the kitchen. I don't know that the pistol came
in collision with my neck or back just before the shot was fired.

By his Honor: There is a passage from the kitchen leading to the bar and
to the room. This (diagram produced) gives a tolerably correct idea of
the situation of the premises. A man standing at the opening of the
passage could guard both the bar and the room.

By Mr. Dalley: Did not see O'Connor after the shot was fired till I
heard him say he could not catch the horses.

George Wood, constable of the mounted patrol, deposed: I and two other
constables went in search of the prisoners on the 23rd November. We came
up with them on a road leading towards the Fish River. This was thirty
miles or more from Stephens'. We came up with O'Connor; asked him where
he came from; he said from Lambing Flat; told him he was arrested on
suspicion of murder; gave him to Wright, and went on in pursuit of the
others, whom we also arrested; told them the charge, put them in
handcuffs and searched them; found a revolver on Charles Ross, and a
5 note, a half-sovereign, and some silver. On Alexander Ross found
another revolver, five 1 notes, and some silver, a portemonnaie, and a
miner's right. On O'Connor, found two cheques and some saddle-bags.
Found also a nearly new martingale on Alexander Ross's horse.

By his Honor: The revolver produced was taken from Charles Ross. Saw the
other revolver taken from Alexander Ross.

James Wright, trooper in the Western patrol, deposed that he was present
at the arrest of the prisoners; took the revolver from Alexander Ross;
ordered him to dismount. He said he had no revolver; afterwards he said
it was in the valise. Unstrapped the valise and took it out. He said it
would have been death between us if he had had it in his hand. Saw the
cheques and other property found on the prisoners.

By his Honor: Have been nearly two years in the police, and understand
revolvers. This is in good working order, except a small breakage on the
head of the lever. (Weapon shown and explained to the jury.)

Dr. Machattie sworn: He attended Mr. Stephens when injured with a
gunshot wound. The ball passed through the cheek, breaking two of the
teeth, passing through the root of the tongue, and out at the neck. It
was a dangerous wound, and for some time he despaired of his life. The
ball just passed the carotid artery, which, if struck, would have caused
death. The weapon must have been pointed downwards.

By Mr. Dalley: The resistance of the teeth when struck would not account
for the downward course which the ball took.

This closed the case for the prosecution.

Mr. Dalley addressed the jury for the defence, requesting in the first
place that they would dismiss from their minds all that they might have
heard out of doors, not only in connection with the case itself, but
also in reference to the cause which had rendered it incumbent on the
Government to anticipate the ordinary sittings of the court by the issue
of a special commission--a step only taken in extreme cases, and when
the state of the country imperatively demanded such a procedure. After
reminding the jury in an earnest and emphatic manner of the solemn duty
which they had imposed on them, and the necessity which existed (under
the circumstances under which the prisoners stood before them) for their
giving a most careful and patient consideration to all the facts
disclosed in evidence--the learned gentleman proceeded to review the
statements made by the various witnesses, pointing out especially what
he regarded as an extraordinary discrepancy between the versions given
of what took place in the room immediately before and after the pistol
was discharged. All the facts, he submitted, went to support the
conclusion that the explosion of the revolver was not an intentional but
an accidental circumstance, and the only witness whose evidence was
contrary to this assumption was Mr. Stephens, who swore positively that
the pistol was pointed and aimed directly at him. It should be
remembered, however, that Mr. Stephens was, according to the bulk of the
evidence, shot immediately after the prisoner Alexander Ross entered the
room, and that he lay insensible on the floor for some time from the
effects of the wound. Therefore the jury must see that he could have had
no distinct or clear recollection of what took place--his impressions
having been arrived at subsequently when he recovered from a confused
idea of the circumstances attending this awful and sudden occurrence.
The evidence of Mrs. Stephens did not show that the shooting was
intentional, or that the weapon was aimed at her husband. In the
evidence of Young, again, it was made pretty clear (although the
witness's statements were in points contradictory) that the weapon was
pointed not at Stephens, but between him and the cook. The prisoner, in
fact, had no intention of shooting either the one or the other, but the
firing, as he before said, was an accident, terrible in itself no doubt,
but still devoid of criminal intent, accidents of the kind were of
frequent occurrence, even in the case of persons who were familiar with
the use of firearms. An officer of the police, not long since, had been
twice shot in a like accidental manner. It was not intended that any man
should have been shot; and what, it was but fair to ask, had been the
behaviour of the accused after this unfortunate shot had been fired? It
was proved, he repeated, by the evidence of the principal witness
Stephens (and it was the only thing that rather told against that
witness, because it did not appear in the evidence-in-chief) that the
threat which the prisoner Alexander Ross had used to the cook was by no
means of an unqualified nature;--his alleged threat to shoot that man
was one accompanied by a strong compunction and remorse at the unhappy
accident which had taken place, and for which, as he thought, the cook
was to blame. Except for the fact of the prisoner O'Connor being with
the prisoners Ross at the time of the occurrence, there was nothing in
any degree to criminate him up to the time that he ran out of the
room--unless, as had been suggested, that he was to be supposed to be
then standing outside on guard, during the commission of the robbery. As
to his being in company with armed men engaged in the commission of a
robbery, they were to remember that, in this country, extraordinary
engagements were often made as regarded the working classes, by the
effect of which innocent men found themselves often associated with
persons landed together for the commission of crime. Supposing O'Connor
to have been thus innocently connected with the other two men, what was
he to have done consistently with the hypothesis of his being perfectly
innocent? If he had run away immediately and had stayed away, would not
that have been construed into a presumption of guilt? And if on the
other hand he stayed, might it not have been equally a presumption that
he was really guilty. The mere possession of the cheques was far from
being a conclusive proof of guilt. Every day it was notorious that
perfectly innocent parties, often in the way of business, came into
possession of stolen cheques. He felt that he was far from being able to
do adequate justice to the merits of the case, having had so short a
time to make himself acquainted with its details--not even time to read
over the voluminous depositions. Still, he had given it his
consideration, and could not but feel that there was no proof that the
pistol had not been accidentally discharged; indeed as he had already
submitted, the evidence decidedly pointed to that conclusion. Supposing
that the prisoners Ross were the parties that were concerned in the
robbery, there was, he contended, no evidence whatever of the complicity
of O'Connor. No other theory in the case, except that of accident, would
explain the shooting of Stephens, and he submitted that whatever view
the jury might be inclined to take as to the counts for robbery, they
would, at any rate, not adjudge the prisoners guilty on the capital
count of feloniously and wilfully wounding. All the facts of the case,
all the circumstances as deposed to by those witnesses who were in a
position best to see and hear correctly what transpired, went to support
the conclusion that the shooting was accidental; and he left the case in
their hands, confident that on a careful and patient consideration of
the evidence adduced, this was the view which would be irresistibly
forced upon their minds, and which they would endorse by their verdict.

The Attorney-General replied. He urged that the arguments of the learned
counsel for the defence as to the supposed accidental discharge of the
pistol were not to be relied upon. The pistol fired off was in good
order at the time, and therefore not likely to go off in the way that
had been assumed. Again, the story of the accidental discharge was
altogether rebutted by the circumstances of the case, as disclosed in
evidence. There was nothing to show that the pistol had been so
discharged, but evidence to contradict it. If the weapon had gone off
unexpectedly would it not have been natural for Alexander Ross to have
expressed his regret for it? Would not a man under such circumstances be
most likely to have thrown away the pistol, and to have said, "I am
sorry for that, it was an accident?" The prisoner, however, was found to
do nothing of the kind. Instead of expressing any such contrition, he
gave way to further threats of violence, repeatedly declared his
intention to take the life of another man, and robbed the bleeding body
of the wounded man with a brutal indifference.

His Honor, in summing up, said there was no dispute on either side as to
the law that should govern their verdict. There were only two questions
for them to consider: first, whether all three prisoners had been
engaged in the robbery; and then whether the pistol with which Stephens
had been wounded, had been fired by accident or not. There could be no
doubt that a robbery had been committed, that the house had been
ransacked, and that extreme violence had been used. First let them see
whether all three were guilty of robbery. Mr. Stephens, Mrs. Stephens,
the cook, and Young, all four declared without doubt that the three men
had come together, the Rosses on horseback, O'Connor on foot; then they
were all at breakfast together, and afterwards they all went away
together. About the participation of the Rosses there was no doubt, but
it had been said that though O'Connor came with them, it did not follow
that he had any hand in the robbery. But then he went away with them,
and when he was afterwards apprehended part of the stolen property was
found on him. Then, in answer to this, it was said that any person might
receive a cheque innocently enough from a third person. Now, these were
arguments such as he scarcely expected to hear addressed to men having
reasoning powers and possessing some knowledge of the world, and he
doubted much whether they for one minute held ground in the mind of the
jury. Not only did O'Connor come with them, breakfast with them, and
leave with them, but he it was who stood sentry at the door, at the
place by which only intrusion could be expected, whilst the Rosses
carried out the concerted plan. Alexander Ross commenced by driving the
cook into the room, and at the moment he did so both Charles Ross and
O'Connor started up from their seats, put their hands into their breasts
and, according to one witness, both drew out revolvers, though it was
doubtful whether O'Connor had a revolver with him. At all events the
motion of the hand to the breast misled one witness to the belief that
he was also armed. Was it likely that all this was done by accident? Was
it not more likely that the three were acting in concert in accordance
with previous arrangements? Then, again, O'Connor was seen trying to
catch a horse in the paddock. It was surely not innocently that he was
endeavouring to possess himself of a horse not his own. The next morning
he was found on the same road as the other prisoners, they being only a
mile in advance of him, and on his person were found two cheques and a
pair of saddle-bags that had been stolen from the place. The next
question was, supposing them to say that the robbery was committed by
all three, was any of them guilty of wounding, because if found guilty
of the robbery and not of the wounding, the jury would have to say so.
This would mainly depend upon the one question whether possibly the
wound might have been inflicted by accident, and not design. If the
pistol had gone off accidentally, or if it had been fired merely to
excite terror and with no intention of hitting any one, then the
prisoner would be acquitted; but if there had been an intention to hit
any one and that one had been shot in the place of another, then they
must be found guilty, for though the shot was fired by one all three
would be equally guilty. There was no distinction in law, neither did he
believe that there was any in morals, between the guilt of any one of
the three; for if three men go out to commit an offence, two only of
them carrying revolvers, those were taken for the purpose of overcoming
any resistance that might be encountered, and overcoming it, even at the
cost of life. And if resistance was made and life taken, all three would
be equally guilty though one was unarmed. If a contest took place it
would most likely be with the man who happened to be nearest to the
person offering resistance, or who happened to be the most rash; and why
if he shed blood should he be deemed more guilty than the others, since
all were acting in concert with the same end in view? The case became
different, however, supposing the pistol to have gone off by accident or
the shot to have been fired with no intention at the moment to hit
anybody. Upon this point the evidence required very minute examination,
because it never happened that in such cases the evidence was of perfect
accord, since different persons were sure to see from different points
of vision and in different ways. (His Honor here went over the evidence
bearing on this point). Then, again, in determining the question, they
must look at the motive by which the prisoners were actuated. If they
went to commit a robbery, then were the pistols to be used as
instruments, and if so, in what way? A revolver was not used for rifling
a pocket, but to intimidate the persons to be robbed, or to overcome any
resistance that might be offered. Now, if intending to intimidate he had
wished to wound either Stephens or the cook without any intention of
taking life, prisoner would be equally guilty; or, if when seeing
Stephens jump up, he might have been afraid of resistance and so have
fired to put a stop to it. If he fired at any person, he must be taken
to be guilty; and if he were guilty, then all three were so alike. After
commenting upon the evidence bearing on this point, his Honor concluded:
If you are clear that it was no accident, but that the shot was fired
with design to hit some one, then the prisoners must be found guilty on
the whole information; but if you have any doubt upon that point, you
will give the prisoners the benefit of it. At the same time, I must warn
you against giving what is erroneously termed a merciful verdict. I
could never understand the meaning of this term, because a verdict is
simply telling the truth. T can therefore understand mercy in the
Executive, or in a judge, but certainly not in a jury, who are simply
required to tell the truth. Mercy is an operation of the feelings of the
heart; whereas a verdict is come to on the operations of the mind and
upon strict facts. Thus the two never can combine. It is the duty of the
jury to speak the truth on the evidence according to their consciences,
no matter what the consequences may be; mercy has afterwards to be taken
into account in other quarters.

The jury retired, and, after being absent for more than an hour,
returned with a verdict of guilty against all three prisoners upon the
first count of the information.

His Honor stated that although sentence would not be passed until the
end of the session, yet he felt it his duty to tell the prisoners that
he entirely concurred in the verdict of the jury. He did not, therefore,
wish the prisoners to build up any hopes founded on an anticipation that
he did not agree with the verdict of the jury. He believed it to be a
just and proper one.

The prisoners were removed, and the Court adjourned until ten o'clock
the following day, when other cases were proceeded with.

At the close of the session the three men were brought up for sentence
with the other prisoners who had been convicted. It was known that the
sentences were to be pronounced, and the greatest interest was
manifested by the public. The Court House was crowded to suffocation,
and although their Honors were fully three-quarters of an hour behind
their time, not taking their seats until a quarter to three o'clock, not
a man amongst all the spectators budged from his post. The first
prisoners put up were the two Rosses and O'Connor, and at a very early
part of the Chief Justice's address it became known, as was indeed fully
understood before, that they were to receive the sentence of death.
Alexander Ross was cool, collected, and argumentative. Charles Ross
seemed anxious and nervous, and, though standing firm, repeatedly wiped
his forehead. O'Connor was eager and restless in asserting his innocence
of complicity with the wounding, and when sentence of death was passed,
he assumed a resolute air, and turning round to the gallery, said,

After the usual formalities had been observed the three men were called
up and sentence of death was passed upon each of them, the judge
informing them that he could not hold out any hope of mercy.

A few days after the condemned men had been cast for death, a new story
appeared with reference to the outrage of which they had been convicted.
The story, which was circulated by the Sydney _Empire_, and which was
said to be well substantiated, certainly showed that Charles Ross had
some claim to mercy. The statement was to the effect that after the two
Rosses left the house of Mr. Stephens, Alexander Ross wanted to shoot
O'Connor, and actually loaded his revolver for that purpose, when
Charles Ross struck the weapon up with his hand, and it exploded in the
air. Further, it was said that Alexander Ross expressed his intention to
return to the house, murder all the inmates, and set fire to the
dwelling, in order to destroy all evidence of his crime, he doubtless
supposing that Mr. Stephens had died from his wounds. This intention, so
said the story, was with much difficulty frustrated by the firm
opposition of Charles Ross. It was strange that nothing of this oozed
out at the trial, or when the witnesses were defending themselves; but
it was generally believed that O'Connor had communicated the facts to
the gaol authorities after the trial and sentence. But it failed to
influence the Executive in favour of the condemned men, although for
other reasons which do not appear the death sentence passed upon
O'Connor was commuted to imprisonment for life.

In due course the two Rosses were executed within the precincts of
Darlinghurst gaol. Alexander Ross, the man who fired the shot by which
Stephens was wounded, was a Roman Catholic by persuasion, and was
attended to the scaffold by the Venerable Archdeacon McEncroe and
Fathers Sheridan and Dwyer. Charles Ross, his companion in crime, was a
Protestant, and was attended by the Rev. P. P. Agnew. Both men while
under condemnation were visited by the Sisters of Charity, whose
exertions they received most gratefully, devoting themselves with
earnestness to that preparation so necessary for men whose lives were
about to cease. The number of persons present at the execution did not
exceed thirty or forty, although there was a crowd of about a hundred or
more assembled outside the gates of the gaol; but these of course saw
nothing of the terrible scene. At six o'clock the criminals had their
irons knocked off, and the remainder of the time, up to leaving the
cells, was spent in devotion in company with the reverend gentlemen
named. At nine o'clock, the Under-Sheriff, who was evidently much
affected at the nature of the duty he had to discharge, made his formal
demand for the bodies of the criminals, and shortly afterwards they were
pinioned in one of the corridors, and the sad procession moved towards
the scaffold erected in the centre of the gaol yard. Both criminals were
habited in the gaol dress, and behaved with an amount of decent
fortitude which struck the spectators, and left no doubt that the
ministrations of religion had not been expended fruitlessly. Arrived at
the foot of the gallows, the two wretched men knelt for a few moments in
prayer, repeating the responses audibly and with much fervour. They then
ascended the ladder, Alexander Ross leading the way, but pausing for a
moment on the steps to bid adieu to the Rev. Mr. Dwyer, who was quite
overcome, and retired weeping from the grim structure. Charles Ross also
mounted the steps without a tremble, followed by the Venerable
Archdeacon, the Rev. Mr. Agnew, and the executioner. Once on the
platform the dreadful preliminaries were speedily completed; the ropes
were placed around the necks of the wretched men, caps were drawn over
their faces, the clergymen retired, and at a given signal, the
executioner drew the bolt. The platform instantly slid from beneath
their feet; a dull heavy jerking followed, and the culprits were
suspended. In the case of Charles Ross there was a complete dislocation
of the neck, and death was instantaneous. Alexander Ross, however,
struggled convulsively for several minutes, the knot of the rope having
slipped in the fall. At half-past nine Dr. West, the medical officer of
the gaol, having certified that life was extinct, the bodies were
lowered into shells, and the two beings who had just shortly before
emerged from the cells in all the vigour and health of manhood, were
carted away as breathless clods--a terrible example to all evildoers,
and one which, for the sake of society and of humanity, it was hoped
would not be without its influence on those misguided men who had
transformed many portions of the colony into arenas of robbery and

The two men who thus ended their lives on the scaffold had each a
previous criminal record.

Alexander Ross, who fired the shot that inflicted the wound, was a
native of Wolverhampton, and arrived in the colony by the Royal George
in 1829. No such name as Ross appeared upon the indent of that ship, but
the name of Rogers corresponded with this prisoner's description. Ross
or Rogers was supposed to have been on Norfolk Island, at which place he
made the first acquaintance of the notorious Ainsworth. This pair of
worthies subsequently met in Queensland, but that youthful colony not
offering scope enough for the extensive range that their talents
demanded, they left for Sydney. On their arrival in Sydney, Ross
represented himself as a man of wealth and a stockowner, but before
anything in the way of business could be done, Ainsworth, who could not
remain quiet, got himself into difficulties in Maitland for passing a
cheque that proved to be a forgery, and, being convicted, was imprisoned
in Darlinghurst Gaol. This broke up the partnership, and Alexander Ross
proceeded to the Lachlan with the evident intention of making gold in
the shortest way, since he promised to return in three months and marry
a young person, servant in an hotel in Erskine-street, at which he
stopped. In her hands he left his portrait, and a quantity of trinkets
as a pledge for his return. Only about fourteen days prior to the
commission of the offence for which he suffered the death penalty, he
met with his namesake, Charles Ross, who, however, was no relative, and
whether they committed any robberies in company prior to that of which
they have been convicted was not known. O'Connor had only joined the two
on the night previous to the robbery. Alexander Ross was forty-nine
years of age.

Charles Ross, who was aged fifty-one years, was born at Cheltenham. Came
to the colony in 1857 in the ship "Lucretia". Only very shortly after
landing at Sydney he indulged in crimes which brought him into trouble.
He made the purchase of a large quantity of jewellery at the shop of Mr.
Beckman, ordering it to be sent to his lodgings at an hotel, which he
named; the jewellery was sent, Mr. Ross received it from the hands of
the porter, bidding him wait whilst he went upstairs and wrote a cheque.
Instead of going up stairs, however, he got into the street by another
door, and was not seen again until some weeks afterwards, when he was
apprehended in the interior on a charge of horse-stealing, and was then
identified as answering the description of the robber. He was sentenced
to six years on the roads, and was sent to Cockatoo Island, from which
place he was discharged in June, 1861, after a punishment of less than
four years' duration. Between the date of his release and his meeting
with the other Ross, it was not known how he occupied himself, but at
all events he managed to keep out of sight of the police.

William O'Connor was fifty-two years of age, and a native of Tipperary.
He came to the colony in the ship "Equestrian", in 1851, and had just
previous to the outrage been engaged upon stations in the Western
districts, there being no crime recorded against him until, in an evil
hour, and under the influence of the demon of intemperance, he joined
with the Rosses in the attack upon Stephens.

The reign of the three men was short. Their first exploit in company
carried disaster with its success, for the money they had taken from the
man whom they had wounded almost to death did not serve even to bring
indulgence in one single carouse, the hand of justice having closed upon
them ere they had well started on the road which they imagined would
conduct them to a safe retreat. The gallows for two and the ironed cell
for the third was not the end they expected; but it was the only end
that would have satisfied the people whose peace and safety had been so
rudely disturbed by the Caloola outrage. Poor Stephens was marked for
life, but that was not all. His business was ruined, and with health
enfeebled by the shock he was compelled to begin anew the battle of
life, as many another man before him, and spent years of toil and
trouble where, but for the wrong-doing of others, born of the lust for
gold, he might have lived in peace and all the comforts a flourishing
business is supposed to bring. Nevertheless, his regrets were tempered
by the reflection that his life had not fled before the bushranger's
bullet. And life being preserved, the loss of earthly goods--great
though that loss was--did not overwhelm the sufferer.


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