Spotlight: MORGAN, THE BUSHRANGER. THE INQUEST.

The following account of the inquest of Daniel Morgan lays out what occurred at Peechelba Station in April 1865. One of the curious aspects of this recounting the end of Morgan’s life is the spelling of the name of the man who fired the fatal shot. Herein spelt “Windlaw”, he is more commonly known as John Wendlan or Quinlan. The lack of conformity in the spelling of the name in the press has produced much confusion as to what the correct spelling is. Overall, the inquest provides a fairly clear narrative of what transpired on that fateful day in April, and the subsequent letter paints a more vivid picture of how things played out. Reports such as this continue to prove invaluable to historians, both professional (academic) and amateur. ~AP

Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), Friday 14 April 1865, page 6


MORGAN, THE BUSHRANGER.

THE INQUEST.

The inquest on the body of Morgan was commenced on Monday, by Dr. Dobbyn, the coroner, at the woolshed, Pechelba [sic].

Mr. Superintendent Winch examined the witnesses.

After viewing the body, the jury were taken to the spot where Morgan fell, and were shown as near as possible where Windlaw stood when he fired the fatal shot. They then adjourned to the parlour in Mr. McPherson’s house, where Morgan the previous evening had bailed up the family. On the previous morning, Morgan’s body was sewn up in a woolpack and brought into Wangaratta; and the head was cut off and a cast taken of it.

The following evidence was taken:-

Edmond M. Bond, Bunganwo station, King River, squatter. — Have seen the deceased. Recognise him as a man that I knew three or four years ago as “Down the River Jack,” alias ” Bill the Native.” Saw him at that time about a mile and a half from my paddock fence. I pursued him at that time, and fired at him, with a charge of shot, at his left arm ; he dropped a coat, which I afterwards picked up riddled with shot, and supposed from that I had wounded him. I identify the deceased by his general appearance.

Thomas Kidston, settler, Walbundra sta-tion, Billabong, said, — I have viewed the body of the deceased. Recognise him as a man that has stuck me up twice, and told me his name was Morgan. It was in October or November, 1863. He took a horse from the station. The second time was two months afterwards. I heard a shot near the house. Met the deceased, and saw a pistol, my property, in his belt,which he must have taken from my house. He admitted he had been in my house, looking for a revolving rifle. I have no doubt that the deceased lying outside is the man Morgan, who stuck me up twice. I have not seen him since. I know that a reward has been offered for the capture of the deceased man, Morgan, by the newspapers.

Ellen Turner, wife of Thomas Turner, labourer, Mulwala. — I have seen the deceased outside. I have seen that man alive at Dr. Mackay’s, Wahgunyah station, New South Wales. I think it was on the 1st February, 1865, that he was there. He came overnight, and remained there till morning, when I saw Mr. John Mackay’s rifle in the deceased’s swag. Mr. Mackay’s horse bolted, with the swag on him. The deceased carried away with him the rifle, a saddle, and a horse, and about £4 in money. I was in bed when he came, and did not hear him say much. Have no doubt that the deceased is the same man.

William Ariel, of Corowa, New South Wales, storekeeper. — I have seen the deceased man outside. I recognise him as the man that stuck me up at Wallandual, New South Wales, fifty miles from Corowa, on the 28th December, 1863. He called me out of the hut, and told me he wanted my cash. Told me to put it on the ground. Presented his revolver at me, and I put the cash on the ground. He said, “Now I want your watch.” I put that on the ground. He then said, “Now your ring.” He took that. I was hawking at that time, and the property he took amounted in value to £35. Have no doubt whatever that the deceased is the same man that I have referred to as having robbed me. I do not know his name.

Morris Brash, hawker, Beechworth. — Have seen the body of deceased lying in the shed. Recognise him as a man that stuck me up and robbed me about four miles from Wallan Wallan station, New South Wales. He took £4 10s. in money, and about £30 worth of property. This was in June, 1863. On the second occasion he stuck me up twenty-five miles from Wagga Wagga; then took £12 cash, and £50 or £60 worth of property. Am sure that the two robberies were committed by the same man, and by the deceased. Saw him next, at a distance, in February, 1864 ; and have not seen him since.

John Pickering Jackson, carrier, residing in Melbourne, stated. — On Friday night last I was about four miles on the Benalla side of Winton. I was walking alongside the horses when a man galloped up to the leaders, waved one revolver about, and presented it at me. He said, “Stop the waggon.” I stopped it. He said, “Cash, cash; I want your cash; quick, quick.” I said “All right.” He uttered no verbal threat. I gave him £7 under coercion. I have seen the deceased, and I swear he is the same man that committed the offence. Have no doubt about his identify. I noticed him carefully, and am certain he is the same man. He was riding a black cob — a sort of Arab breed. After leaving me he galloped forward, and stuck-up the next waggon.

Thomas Tuckett, carrier, stated, — On Friday night last I saw the deceased, about half past three. He stuck me up about four miles the Benalla side of Winton. He rode up on the near side of the waggon, pointed a revolver at me, and ordered me to stand. I pulled up the horses, and by his direction got off the waggon. He presented his pistol at me and demanded my cash, and all my jewellery, and told me to throw them on the ground. I threw down one pocketbook containing £7. He then asked me if I had any more. I said I had another pocketbook, containing three halfcrowns and a sixpence, and at his request I threw that down. He told me to get on the waggon, and as I turned round he demanded my watch, and at his request I threw the watch on the ground. I recognise the silver watch produced as my property, by a piece of string tied round the guard, and by the thinness of the case, and by the maker’s name, “Harrison, Liverpool.” l am confident that the man lying dead is the same that robbed me.

Ewen McPherson, of Peechelba station, squatter, stated, — About a quarter past six on Saturday evening I noticed the man now lying dead. I was sitting on the sofa in the room I am now in, with my family. I saw the figure of a man passing along the verandah. I called out to know what he wanted, and he walked into the lobby to the room door, and ordered me back, as I approached within three inches of him. As soon as he came in he said, ” I am Mr. Morgan. I suppose you have heard of me?” I said “It is all right : step in.” Immediately afterwards Mr. Telford and two men came in, and he ordered them up to the end of the room. He let me sit on the sofa. He ordered the girls in, and asked me if there was a man cook. I said “No.” He put no more questions. He stood against the check of the door. He had a revolver in his hand at this time. He remained in the room all night. He conversed with me about Round-hill. He said it was said he was drunk when he was at the Round-hill station, but he was the only sober man there. He said positively that it was he that stuck-up the Round-hill station. With reference to the shooting of persons at Round-hill, he said it was reported in the newspapers that his own revolver went off when he was mounting his horse, but it was not so. That Watson, the super, or some one in the shed, fired at him. He said he found the old pistol in the shed afterwards. He said Watson was catching at his bridle when he fired, shot Watson through the hand, and with the same ball broke young Heriott’s leg. He said he was sorry for that, and did not mean to shoot him. About shooting McLean, he said McLean asked his (deceased’s) leave to go for Dr. Stitt. He said he gave him positive instructions not to go to the police camp, saying, “I saw you there yesterday ; don’t go there.” He said McLean, after getting out of the paddock, made straight for the police camp. He called to him to stop and take the other road : but McLean did not do so, and he (Morgan) mounted his horse, followed him, and after calling several times to him to stop, put spurs to his horse, and shot McLean. He said he was not going the straight road to Dr. Stitt’s He said “To show you I was not drunk, after I had shot McLean I put him on a horse and carried him back to the station, and found young Heriott lying in mud, where he had left him,” and that he took him in and attended to him also. Deceased told me it was Sergeant McGinnerty’s revolver he had in his hand while in my house. He made no allusion to having shot McGinnerty. The revolver produced is the one deceased said he took from Sergeant McGinnerty, of the New South Wales police, and is the one he covered us with in the room. Deceased told me he was on the Upper Murray a few days before. He told me that two days before he was riding a fine racing mare worth 200 guineas. Deceased told me he was convicted in 1854, and sentenced to twelve years. He said he had been at Warby’s, and spoke of a mare in Warby’s stable, which he did not take, because her hoof was cracked. I understood from deceased’s conversation that he had lost his way coming from Warby’s, and that meeting the two men he brought them in with him. He (deceased) remained in my house till a quarter or twenty minutes past eight on Sunday morning. He then went out. I went out with him, and Mr. Robert Telford, my son Gideon McPherson, and two other men also, went with deceased. As we were starting deceased said he would have to press a horse from me, but that the horse would cast up tomorrow or next day. We all then walked down towards the stockyard. I asked Morgan how the horses were to be got in, and he agreed to let my son go for them, but when we got outside we saw the horses at the stack. The stack-yard is about 250 yards from the house, and we were within twenty or thirty yards of the stack-yard when, looking round, I noticed a number of men running down behind us. I was then close to Morgan’s side, and my son was on the other side of him. I stepped aside three or four yards when I noticed the men behind, and immediately after that I heard a shot fired, and deceased fell within three or four yards of me. A number of people came up. I saw Percy the trooper. He was about the first man up, and took Morgan’s pistols from him. John Windlaw told me that he fired at and shot Morgan. Windlaw has been a servant of mine for years. Deceased was then carried down to the woolshed. I heard deceased say nothing after he was shot. I was confined to the house by deceased from his arrival until we all went out together, except that he allowed me to go on the verandah once. I have seen the body lying in the woolshed, and identify it as that of the man who stuck me up.

[Source]

George Rutherford, of Peechelba Station, squatter, stated, — On Saturday night last, about seven or eight p.m, Mr. McPherson’s nurse informed me Morgan had stuck them all up. I came up to the back of Mr. McPherson’s house, and found all the girls, with the exception of the nurse, in this room, I knew, as a matter of fact, that the place and inmates were stuck up, but did not know for certain by whom. I started a man with a note to Sergeant Montford, at Wangaratta, requesting police assistance. A party of volunteers arrived, with Constable Evans, and we concerted measures for capturing the man who had stuck up the house. I saw one person come out of the house in the morning, about eight a.m. I saw Mr. McPherson, his son, two other men, and Mr. Telford come out of the house. One of the two men was a labourer on the station, and the other was a man whom I supposed to be Morgan, and who is identical with the man now lying dead in the woolshed. I was at that time at my house, about 400 or 500 yards from here. I saw the five persons walk down to the gate, the now deceased walking behind the others. After passing through the gate, deceased came up between Mr. McPherson and his son. I saw a number of armed men running up from different directions towards deceased, and I saw John Windlaw fire at deceased from a distance of about forty yards. I saw the deceased drop simultaneously with the firing of the shot. It was arranged by Windlaw, myself, and Evans that Windlaw was to shoot the man that had stuck up the house, and whom we believed to be Morgan. It was not particularly arranged that Windlaw was to shoot the deceased, but that any of the men who had arms and got a chance was to shoot him. The directions given by Mounted-constable Evans in my hearing to the armed men were given under the belief that the man who was sticking up the house was Morgan, and that warrants had been issued for his arrest. I have read descriptions of Morgan in Government advertisements in the newspapers. I identify a portrait purporting to represent Morgan to be a likeness of the now deceased. I conversed with deceased soon after he was shot. He said he did not know me ; did not know Mr. Connolly. I asked him if he knew Mr. Warby. He said, “Yes.” I asked him if his real name was Morgan or Moran. He said, “No.” He then said, “Why did they not give me a chance? Why did they not challenge me?” I asked him which was his real name, Morgan or Moran? Deceased said, “No.” I have seen deceased, and he is the same man that I saw shot. Windlaw has been an old servant of mine. I saw five men, whom I took to be, and believed to be, police, coming towards the house before Morgan came out of the house. Constable Evans and another Wangaratta policeman arrived before the Beechworth police.

William Mainwaring, first-class detective, stationed at Beechworth, stated, — I was, with others, in pursuit of the deceased, supposed to be Morgan. I departed from Mr. Connolly’s on Saturday evening, my destination being this station (Peechelba). Was in company with Constables Percy, Hall, and Chilly. Before that I was with Superintendent Winch and Constables Nicholson and Ryan. First obtained information of this man about five miles on the Melbourne side of Wangaratta, and we tracked him on to Peechelba. We were bushed on the road, and arrived about seven a.m. on Sunday. About an hour and twenty minutes after we arrived I saw deceased come out at the slip-panel. I saw deceased shot by John Windlaw. He was the only person that fired at the time. I went up after deceased fell. I searched deceased, and Mounted-constable Percy found seven £5 notes and thirty-two £1 notes. I took from his left-hand trousers pocket a purse containing three £1 Sydney notes, a draft on the Australian Joint-Stock Bank at Wagga Wagga in favour of Charles Barton Pearson for £7, marked “A.” five sovereigns, and one half-sovereign. In his swag I found £6 12s. 9d., in silver. Percy handed me the watch produced. I saw Percy, when he ran up, draw one revolver from deceased’s belt and throw it over his shoulder. I had been out after the supposed Morgan since early on Friday morning, with Superintendent Winch, Constable Shoobridge, and the other constables before mentioned.

James Percy, mounted constable, stationed at Beechworth, stated, — I was one of a party of police who started in pursuit of the sup-posed Morgan. I went as far as Glenrowan when a man brought information to us that Morgan had just stuck up Warby’s station. We went to Warby’s, and found that the bushranger had started three-quarters of an hour before towards Connolly’s. We went to Connolly’s, and Superintendent Winch arrived shortly after, and ordered us to go to Peechelba. This was about four p.m. on Saturday. I reached this place (Peechelba) between six and seven a.m. on Sunday. We ascertained that Morgan was in Mr. McPherson’s house. We were going to the house, when a man ran out and told us to keep back. Mainwaring’s party, of which I was one, was here while Morgan was in the house. The first time I saw the deceased was when he was walking towards the stack-yard. Windlaw and I were close together, and as I turned to see where the others were I saw Windlaw take aim and fire at the deceased, and I saw deceased fall. Windlaw fired with a single-barrelled gun, at a distance of sixty paces. As soon as deceased fell I rushed on him, drew a revolver from his belt, and threw it away. The revolver produced is the one I took from deceased. Deceased’s left thumb was in his pocket, and some notes were sticking out. I saw the butt of the pistol sticking up at his left side, as he lay on his back. I took the two watches produced from deceased’s waistcoat. I handed the notes and property that I took from deceased to Detective Mainwaring. The pistols were loaded.

George Evans, foot constable at Wangaratta, stated, — I arrived at this place (Peechelba) about one or two a.m. on Sunday with two volunteers and another constable named Leverton. One of the volunteers was armed. We had received information that the station was stuck up. We made our way to Mr. Rutherford’s house with the help of a guide along the river bank. I stationed the men round the house. I, Windlaw, and Donald Clarke were stationed twenty or thirty yards from the verandah. We were there from 2.30 a.m. till near daybreak. I saw deceased shot, and I identify deceased as the man I saw shot. When day broke I shifted the men to the back of the house, and I afterwards saw deceased come out of the house. Deceased was shot by Windlaw.

John James Hallett, M.D. — I have made a post-mortem examination of the body of the man now lying dead in the woolshed at the Peechelba Station. I found the lowest of the cervical vertebras to be shattered, and the spinal marrow within, as a consequence, destroyed. I found that whatever may have caused his death must have entered just above the left shoulder blade. It was apparently a bullet wound. The edges of the wound were inverted. I traced the exit of the ball to a portion of the neck high up and under the chin to the right side of the windpipe. The wound of exit was a little more dilated than the wound of entrance, and was a little ragged. I consider the cause of death was the destruction of the spinal marrow, caused, I should suppose, by a gunshot wound. A man wounded like that, I should consider, would fall immediately, and might linger and live a few hours. No blood-vessels were destroyed.
By the Jury. — I noticed a fatty tumour a little to the right of the centre of the back of his head.

Joseph Henry, duly-qualified medical practitioner, stated, — I assisted to make a post-mortem examination of the body outside with Dr. Hallett. I found the cause of death to be the fracture of two of the cervical vertebrae by a gunshot wound. Such a wound would cause a man to drop immediately, and he could not live very long.

[Source]

Dr. Dobbyn, the coroner, was examined by Mr. R. W. Shadforth, police magistrate of Wangaratta. — Yesterday, shortly after twelve noon I arrived at Peechelba. I saw the deceased, who was then alive. I examined him, and found two bullet wounds — the entrance wound on the left scapula, and the wound of exit on the right side of the lungs. When I saw him first he was in a dying state, but quite sensible. I asked him if he was in much pain. He said, after some time, that he was choking. He died very shortly after. I examined deceased for peculiarities immediately after death. I had the body stripped. I observed that deceased was about five feet ten inches in height, of very spare build, had very long darkish brown hair; a fibrous tumour, rather larger than a pigeon’s egg, on the back of his head ; his eyes were greyish-blue ; he had lost the top joint of the third finger on the right hand ; and there were shot marks, or what appeared to be such, on the back of one of his hands. The most peculiar look of his face was his nose. He had several very small moles on his back, and a vaccination mark low down on one arm, six inches above the elbow. There was a small piece of nail growing over the top of the mutilated finger. The description of Morgan exactly tallies with that of deceased.

VERDICT.

“That the deceased, whom we believe to be Daniel Morgan, met his death from a gunshot wound, inflicted by John Windlaw on the morning of the 9th April, 1865, at Peechelba station, on the Ovens River; and we further consider that the homicide was justifiable. We further consider that great praise is due to all concerned in the capture of the deceased.”

(BY AN EYE WITNESS.)

WANGARATTA, April 11. As a spectator at Morgan’s death, I have thought fit to send you my impression of the scene.

Peechelba station is twenty-one miles from Wangaratta. Being a friend of the families there, the messenger sent by Mr. Rutherford for the police aroused me near midnight on Saturday with the news—”Morgan is at Peechelba.” Mounted on a fast horse, I soon over-took the party of police, with two other men and the guide ; but we had not gone half-way when another party of four joined us. The messenger guiding, we were brought to a re-tired spot within a few hundred yards of Mr. Rutherford’s house, and here we dismounted ; while the guide on foot went to reconnoitre, and find whether Morgan had come down, and taken possession of it also. In the deepest anxiety we waited in the thick river-side scrub.

At last we heard persons approaching. We found these to be Mr. Rutherford and the guide, with the glad news—”Morgan is still at McPherson’s, and likely to remain there till morning.” We all left our horses, and went on foot to Rutherford’s house, and there, after much consultation, the armed men were distributed, and sent off to their respective stations round McPherson’s house.

It was about half-past two when the armed men took their places, while the unarmed remained at Rutherford’s. Three of these, I being one of them, sat in a room looking towards McPherson’s. It was an anxious time. We knew not when we might hear the report of firearms, for we feared that Morgan might attempt to drive his captives down to our quarter. We knew that he could not well go away, as his horse, and indeed all the horses, were in the paddock. We saw the lamp burning hour after hour in that distant house ; and there we pictured — as, indeed, had been described by the bold nurse-girl — the revolvers on the table, the sleepless, but sleepy murderer, and the innocent in-mates huddled together in the room. A brave Scot, D. Clarke, who had been the guide to the placing of the armed men, brought us tidings of the inmates twice through that strange night-tidings that all as yet was well, and that the ladies were in their bedrooms.

As morning broke we extinguished our lamp, to avoid suspicion, threw open the shutters, and then sat down to watch with anxious hearts. While it was yet scarce broad day, we saw a new lamp light, it was that of the hall ; and then a figure on the verandah, whom we judged to be Morgan. Soon the door closed. Then ever and again we saw the women servants going backwards and forwards from the house to the main building. After a while down came a man with pails in his hand, and a message from Mrs. McPherson from her bedroom to allow everything to go on as usual. So the hours flew speedily; and as the house was being lit up by the rays of the sun, one man went to milk cows, another to drive the horses to water, other two with a cart to bring in some mutton killed the night before — and all this in sight of McPherson’s house.

And how we watched that house so eagerly, for that door to open. “O God!” cries one of our party, “there moves these armed men at the fence” (it was a far better shelter, we afterwards learned). About eight, the door again opens. A man comes in his shirt sleeves ; walks in the garden; looks over the fence. It is Morgan! But again the door is shut.

But who is this coming down on horse-back, past McPherson’s house ; and who are these men in the distance, with glancing arms ? The man we find is from Wangaratta, and these are police just arrived, who take their station behind the house (McPherson’s). Well it was that a man had been stationed on the road from Wangaratta to stop any who might come that way, or there would have been a different tale to tell ; however, they were warned in time. Still the door remains closed. A scout brings in news that Morgan is at breakfast, chatting freely with his captives. Mr. Rutherford and his men go about as usual ; while we strangers, to avoid suspicion, stay within doors. It was nearing nine. On that lovely Sunday morning there must be death ere long, were our thoughts-of how many, who could tell? There must be blood spilt – whose we knew not. One thought of one, and another of another – of friends they loved. What was to be the end? Some dozen men, armed, were round that house – a cool, well-trained shot and cruel murderer within. The suspense grew terrible. The clock was about to strike nine, when the door opened, and one, two, three, four, five persons came out into the verandah. In Indian file they passed, Morgan last, through the gate, and evidently through the horses, now eating hay at the haystack. When they were half-way down we saw the three armed men moving at last, running stealthily-running from tree to tree — behind that man driving down his captives before him — little he knew who was behind.

We four now stood in the verandah. One of our party could not restrain the shout of cheer “Well done.” Nearer, nearer. Two are behind a tree. That string of men separate a little. A sharp ringing sound — some smoke — a shout. I ran, fleetest of our party, and I stood at the head of that man — his long black hair, his long dark beard, his keen, half-closed grey eyes, his arms lying still by his side, his mouth with warm blood frothing on his compressed lips — these are the lines of a picture which Time’s weird hand can never blot out.

A warm pressure from the hand of him whom I call my friend — the man whose life was in peril from the murderer’s — and from the avenger’s hand, this was all ; and I fled on speedy horse to the distant township, to hear the bells calling worshippers to prayer.


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