Spotlight: The Van Diemonian Bushranging Scourge

Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Wednesday 17 May 1826, page 3

Tasmanian Extracts.


On Monday the Anniversary of His Majesty’s Birth Day was observed here, with every kind of joy and respect, demonstrative of the attachment of a people so peculiarly under his protection as are the inhabitants of this young Colony. Since the world began, no other nation has arrived at an equal pitch of prosperity, nor has there ever been a Government so popular as is the Administration of our present Sovereign, who extends the benignant hands of his power over the whole globe. — Former dynasties endeavoured to spread their dominion by the force of arms and the havoc of war ; but our magnanimous Monarch rises on the wings of peace, and by means of commerce, brings foreign nations to increase his wealth, and by agriculture and colonization, creates new countries and new people from the desert wild. The Levee, held by his Excellency, in honour of the day, was very numerously attended, and many Gentlemen from the other side of the island were present. In the evening, an elegant and sumptuous entertainment was given to a large party at Government-house. The long-room was filled with Gentlemen from among the several classes of the Community, the civil and the military, the merchants and the agriculturists of the Colony. On the cloth being removed, the health of our King was drank with rapturous expressions of attachment, and a Royal salute was fired from Mulgrave Battery, while the band played the National air. The other usual and loyal toasts being drank, His Excellency gave “the health of Governor DARLING, and the prosperity of the sister Colony,” when the new and beautiful “Australian Air” was struck up. This was followed by “the prosperity of Van Diemen’s Land,” when the Lieutenant Governor took occasion to remark, that the greatest drawback might be considered the prevalence of bushranging, and concluded his toast by wishing that every heart and every arm, and (looking towards Mr. Hone) every tongue might be raised to put down bushranging in this island. “Sir Brent Spencer, and the 40th Regiment,” was the next toast. When the health of the Lieut. Governor was proposed, every glass was filled a bumper, and the walls rung for several minutes with the acclamations of the Colonists who were present, expressive of the paternal and indefatigable exertions of His Excellency for the general good. The Rev. Mr. Robinson being called on for a toast, gave this elegant sentiment — “The land we left, and the land we live in, and may we, with His Excellency’s co-operation, promote this important and interesting portion of the globe.” The party did not separate till a late hour.

On Tuesday morning the bushrangers Brady, Bryant, Tilley, McKenney, Brown, Gregory, and Hodgetts, were put upon their trial for making an assault on William Andrews, a private of the 40th, at Bagdad, on the 26th of December last, and stealing his gun. The Jury returned a verdict of guilty against Brady, Bryant, Gregory, Tilley, and Brown, and acquitted McKenney and Hodgetts, their being no evidence to prove that they were present at the time.

Brady, Bryant, Tilley, and Goodwin, were then tried for having committed the crimes of felony and arson at Mr. Lawrence’s, on the Lake River, on the 36th of February, when Brady and Bryant pleaded guilty to the charge, the former declaring that be should plead guilty to every other information that might be filed against him.
On Thursday, Brady and Bryant pleaded guilty to the murder of Thomas Kenton, with malice aforethought, and at the instigation of the devil on the 5th ultimo.

The same two also pleaded guilty of stealing 4 horses from Mr. Lawrence, in which charge Tilley and Goodwin were included, and, upon trial, found guilty.

Jeffries and Perry were then tried for the murder of Magnus Bakie or Baker, the constable from George Town, who was deliberately shot through the head by Jeffries, as they were travelling through the woods on the 11th of January last. The circumstances were exactly as stated in our Journal of that date.

On Saturday, Jeffries the murderer, Perry and Hopkins, were found guilty of stealing a gun, meat and other articles, from the dwelling-house of Joseph Railton, near Launceston. They had been brought up on the Thursday previous, but owing to the absence of a witness on the part of Hopkins, the trial was postponed.

Jeffries and Perry were afterwards arraigned for the murder of Mr. Tibbs’s child, an infant only five months old. When Mrs. Tibbs came into Court, and her eye glanced on the insatiate murderers of her babe, she was so affected as to be able to stand. Her situation powerfully excited the commiseration of every one present. The bare recital of the dreadful journey which the monster had compelled her to take with him in the woods, was a painful addition to her sufferings. When it was necessary for her to look at the prisoners, in order to prove their persons, the suddenness with which she withdrew her eyes, and the tears with which the effort was accompanied, was an instance of detestation more strongly., depicted than any assembly of spectators perhaps ever witnessed. The child was proved to have been taken away from the arms of the mother, and killed by Jefferies and Russel, and its remains were discovered about a week afterwards in a decayed state, and mangled by the carnivorous animals in the woods. When Mrs. Tibbs had asked Jefferies who called himself Captain, and was dressed in a long black coat, red waistcoat, and kangaroo skin cap, to point out the place where she might find the body, he said “it was no odds it had not suffered a moment’s pain in leaving the world,” and he and Russel, who was afterwards shot and partly eaten by the monster, expressed themselves as regarding the life of a child as nothing. Both prisoners were found guilty; the trial lasted till 11 at night.

It is with great pain we state, that most of the men convicted of robbery and murder, in gaol, whose days of probation must now of necessity be very short, continue with hardened and untouched consciences, apparently insensible of their approaching fate. Jeffries is said to have been brought at last to a sense of his unhappy slate, but Brady, Bryant, McKenney, and Perry, excite both disgust and compassion at their insensibility. The whirl of their late lawless and dissipated life seems scarcely to have subsided.

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