Spotlight: The Late Bushrangers

Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Wednesday 24 May 1826, page 2


On Saturday last, the following criminals received sentence of death :- Matthew Brady, Patrick Bryant, James Goodwin, James M’Kenny John Gregory, William Tilly, William Brown, and Samuel Hodgetts, (the above eight composed the residue of the gang of bushrangers of which Dunne only remained at large.) Thomas Jeffries, John Perry, and James Hopkins, whose horrid crimes are fresh in the recollection of the Public and John Thompson, for the murder of Margaret Smith in the watch-house. His Honor Chief Justice PEDDER, addressed the unhappy men in the most feeling manner. He stated to them, that the Law had awarded the punishment of death to the crimes of the least magnitude amongst them. Those of the greatest were attended with circumstances of atrocity, that he should only shock the feelings of the auditory by repeating them. His Honor addressed this to Jeffries and Perry. He then made some impressive observations upon the offices of Brady and the rest, and finally passed the awful sentence of death upon the whole, in a manner which powerfully excited the feelings of all present ; and in the course of which, he himself was most seriously affected. Brady behaved with the utmost fortitude and firmness . Jeffries appeared much agitated, as did several of the rest.

On the return ot these unfortunate men to the gaol, Tilly offered to shake hands with Brady, who refused with much contempt. M’Kenny also refused to speak to him – this was on account of their supposing that he had given information.

Brady, M’Kenny, and Bryant being Roman Catholics, were then conveyed to the cell adjoining the debtor’s side, which they had hitherto occupied. The two former seemed serious, though cheerful. The remainder (except Perry, who was alone) were confined in one cell. Jeffries who was amongst the rest of the Protestants, became penitent, and fully sensible of his approaching fate. During the whole of the week, the Rev. Messrs. Bedford, Connolly, and Carvosso, have been unremittingly attentive in their endeavouring to bring these unhappy criminals to a due sense of their awful situation.

The death warrant arrived on Tuesday, by which fatal instrument they were ordered for execution is follows :- Jeffries, Perry, Thompson, Brady, and Bryant, yesterday, and this morning the whole remainder. The Reverend Ministers of Religion were with the unhappy men at an early hour of the morning, and rendered them every consolation which in their wretched situation could be afforded. At a few minutes after eight o’clock, the Sheriff, D Fereday, Esq. attended by the usual cortege, arrived. The criminals were then brought out into the lodge, to undergo the usual awful preparations. Mr. Bedford (of whose attentions to these unhappy men, and indeed upon all similar occasions it is impossible to speak in terms of sufficient praise), first led out Jeffries; he appeared firm and composed; while the executioner was pinioning his arms, Mr. Bedford exhorted him in the most feeling manner to let his repentance be sincere, and from his heart, in which case he might trust safely to the Divine mercy for forgiveness. — Jeffries prayed fervently, and seemed really penitent. Then followed Perry and Thompson, to whom Mr. Bedford shewed similar attention. When the executioner had adjusted the ropes, these unhappy men retired to a bench, where they knelt down in prayer, while the same ceremony was undergone by Brady and Bryant, who were attended by the Reverend Mr. Connolly, with whom they had performed the devotional duties of their Church, and by whose zealous exertions they appeared to have become truly and sincerely penitent. When this ceremony had been gone through, and all was ready, the melancholy procession was set in motion. Mr. Bedford, with the deepest solemnity, commencing with reading aloud that portion of Scripture, “Whosoever sheddeth man’s blood, by man also shall his blood be shed.” This passage was so peculiarly applicable to the crimes of the wretched sufferers, and the tone in which Mr. Bedford uttered it was so solemn and emphatic, that the whole five seemed to feel deeply their dreadful situation. Jeffries first ascended the fatal scaffold — he was firm and composed. Mr. Bedford occupied his attention with devotional consolation, while the executioner affixed the rope. During which interval Messrs. Connolly and Carvosso administered all possible consolation to the unhappy men who were at the foot of the ladder. When they had all ascended, and the necessary preparations for their entering upon the awful change before them had been concluded, Mr. Bedford addressed the people who had collected in great numbers outside of the gaol, nearly as follows:- “The unhappy man, Jeffries, now before you, on the verge of eternity, desires me to state, that he attributes all the crimes which he has committed, and which have brought him to his present awful state, to the abhorrent vice of drunkenness. He acknowledges the whole of the crimes with which he has been charged, and he implores of you all to take warning by him, and to avoid the commission of the sin of drunkenness, which infallibly leads to all other crimes.” During this, Brady and the rest preserved the composed deportment which they had exhibited from the first, wholly without levity, but firm and resigned. Nothing now remaining, Mr. Bedford commenced reading certain portions of the funeral service ; and when he came to a particular passage, the drop fell, and this world closed upon the wretched men for ever!

This morning the following criminals underwent the awful sentence which had been passed upon them :- James Goodwin, James M’Kenny, John Gregory, William Tilly, William Brown, and Samuel Hodgetts. The whole of the Rev. Clergymen were unremitting in their assiduities, by which the unhappy men had been brought to a state of the most sincere penitence, trusting to the Divine mercy for that forgiveness hereafter, which the magnitude of their offences prevented them receiving here.

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