Spotlight: Capture of Mary Cockerill

Hobart Town Gazette and Southern Reporter (Tas. : 1816 – 1821), Saturday 12 April 1817, page 2

On Thursday returned to Town a small party of Capt. NAIRN’S Company of the 46th Regt. who were lately sent in quest of the Bush Rangers; the following particulars of their pursuit we lay before our Readers:—

After a diligent search in the woods the party at Jericho perceived Michael Howe, accompanied with a Native Black Girl, named Mary Cockerill, with whom Howe cohabited. On the approach of the party Howe darted into a thicket, and effected his escape, after firing at the native girl, who, from fatigue, was unable to keep pace with him in his flight, and was taken. Howe being so closely pursued, threw away his blunderbuss and knapsack. The native girl then led the party to the Shannon River, a distance of 11 miles from Jericho, where they found four huts, which they burnt. While thus employed, they perceived three of the bushrangers (Howe, Septon, & Geary) at the side of a high hill, contiguous to the river. On the appearance of the party, they were not in the least alarmed, for being in an advantageous position on the other side of the river, they by their gesticulations put them at defiance, and afterwards made off. The party then forded the river, and for two days, continued eagerly their pursuit, accompanied by their native guide, till all traces of them were lost; still their exertions were not in vain, for she led them to the discovery of 56 sheep, the property of different individuals which had been driven into the woods by the runaways. From the severe hardships endured by the party in this arduous pursuit, their provisions being all expended, they were compelled to kill two of the sheep for their present substinence, & the remainder with difficulty they brought with them to town; part of which have been since claimed by the owners.      

The native girl has since been repeatedly examined; and we have no doubt, some important information may be derived regarding the numerous depredations of the bush-rangers.  

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