Spotlight: Bushranging on the Williams (1840)

Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 – 1842), Thursday 10 December 1840, page 2



The bushrangers who were at Newcastle lately, and more recently at Mr. Pilcher’s farm, on the Hunter, have paid us a visit en passant, and now that they have found themselves in every necessary, have left the district for a bold dash somewhere else. On Sunday night last, the 29th ultimo, between nine and ten o’clock, as Dr. McKinlay with a guide, was proceeding towards Mr. Chapman’s, of the Grange, from Mr. Coar’s, of Wallaringa, where he had been to visit a lady reported as being ill, he and the guide were “bailed up,” and commanded to “bundle back” to Mr. Coar’s again, otherwise they would have their brains blown out. Being unarmed, they, of course, made no resistance. They all proceeded then to Mr. Coar’s, where, to the astonishment of the captured party, the house was in possession of bushrangers, handsomely dressed, and “armed to the teeth.” They demanded the Doctor’s watch and money, but by the intercession of one of Mr. Coar’s men (who was lately a patient) who “begged him off,” everything was returned to him again. The Doctor says he was treated in the most gentlemanly manner by them, and that he never spent a happier night in his life. They insisted on his making himself quite at home, and not to be alarmed, as they did not intend injuring him, and pressed him to eat some eggs, beer, damper and butter. They then cleared a sofa for him to lie on, and covered him up with their great-coats, the pockets of which were stuffed with ball cartridge and buck shot. The Doctor’s guide had his arms tied behind him, and was thrust under the pianoforte, sans ceremonie, the chief telling him that if he either broke the paddle or fell asleep, he would blow his brains out. Here they were detained prisoners until morning, and then were marched off towards Mr. Chapman’s. Their attire was rather gaudy, as they wore broad-rimmed Manilla hats, turned up in front with abundance of broad pink ribbons, satin neck-cloths, splendid brooches, all of them had rings and watches. One of them (a Jew I believe) wore five rings. The bridles of their horses were also decorated with a profusion of pink ribbons. The leader was formerly an assigned servant of Edward Sparke, Esq., of the Upper Hunter, and another (named Shea) was lately an assigned servant of Mr Coar, the third, I believe, was a Jew named Davis, a very wary, determined fellow.

They “bailed up” Mr. Chapman and his men in the back yard, and searched the house, but took nothing of consequence save two saddles, saddle bags, bridles, brandy, tea, sugar, buck-shot, &c., they then caught two mares of Mr. Chapman’s, when Robert Chitty (one of Mr. C.’s men) joined them, and after having breakfast galloped off. They neither used violence nor uncivil language, and on leaving promised to return Mr. Chapman’s mares as soon as possible, and I am happy to say they have kept their word. Immediately after this, they met a man of Mr. Lord returning from Morpeth, leading back to Underbank his master’s horse, which they took from him, as also 11s. They cut open a carpet bag which he had, then gave him a kick on the ribs and dismissed him. They then met a Mr. Morrison, from the Namoi, proceeding towards the Paterson, from whom they took the horse he rode. They then proceeded towards Mr. Walker’s, of Brockfield, from whom they took about £37 in money and refreshments. The Rev. Mr Comrie was there at the time, from whom they took a mare, which had been kindly lent him by D. F. Mackay, Esq, of Melbee. I understand they have left this mare on the road, not very far off. They next directed their course to the station of Timothy Nowlan, Esq., on whom it would appear they had a great “down,” for they fixed a saddle on his back, flogged him, took £5, a horse, and a gold watch from him. They then galloped off to the residence of a small settler, “bailed up” all in the house, and insisted on having their horses shod, the man of the house being by profession a smith, but having neither nails nor cash, they met with a double disappointment. Back they came to Walker’s again, had some refreshments, and the Dungog postman chancing to pass through in that direction at the time, was “bailed up.” They cut open the Sydney bag but touched nothing, took £3 from the postman, and his watch, the latter of which they however returned him. They then made for the Paterson, and in the afternoon robbed Mr. Jones (Settlers’ Arms), of about £30. They then crossed the river, and have not since been heard of, but as one of the horses which they took from this has been seen near to Black Creek, it is probable that that is the route they have taken. They promised to visit Dungog, but it is fortunate for them they did not come, as the “city was in arms,” and would have given them a much warmer reception than they calculated upon. Had we only a batch of the Mounted Police stationed here, it would have been quite impossible for these marauders to have escaped, and from the frequency of these depredations it is now high time that a detachment of Mounted Police be permanently resident here, which is the only sure method of eradicating recurrences of this nature, and securing to the settlers of the district that peace and quiet, both of body and mind, which they have a good right to expect, and which it ought to be the study of Her Majesty’s representatives, as far as in them lies to cherish and promote. On Tuesday last, the 1st instant, another posse of these freebooters made an attack on the establishment of John Lord, Esq., at Underbank (sixteen miles above Dungog), “bailed up” all the servants, Mrs. Lord, and Mr. Craig, and after carrying away all the ammunition and fire-arms they could lay their hands upon, together with tea, sugar, flour, butter &c., besides £8 or £10 in cash, and a horse, they left at about half past four in the afternoon, after dining comfortably, and pursued their course over the mountains in the direction of the Paterson, and have not since been heard of. There is a party out in pursuit of them at present, but I fear their search will be unavailing.

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