Spotlight: Wollombi (1840)

Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 – 1842), Saturday 26 December 1840, page 2


I am sorry to have occasion to inform you that the neighbourhood has been for a third time within the period of few short weeks the scene of almost unparalleled and licentious outrage – the perpetrators, the well-known bushranging ruffians whose depredations have been so alarming to the Lower Hunter – On Friday morning, the 18th instant, about 11 o’clock, these villains, six in number, in their route from Brisbane Water, visited, for a second time within a few weeks, the station of E. C. Close, Esq, and, after committing their usual depredations, forced his overseer to accompany them to Mr. Crawford’s establishment, unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, Mr. and Mrs. C. were absent at the time, on a visit to Maitland. The scene which presented itself on their return was truly a distressing one, every place of security about the house was broke open; and almost every piece of furniture more or less injured. After remaining about two hours at my house they forced a free man, whom I had left in charge, to show them the road to my brother’s station (Illalong), about 5 miles distant.

I forgot to say that the conduct of two of the Wollombi district constables on the premises was disgraceful in the extreme, worse if possible, than that of the bushrangers, as the spirits, &c, were handed out of the house by the bushrangers these pseudo protectors of the peace received them, knocked the necks from the bottles, and drunk the contents till they became in a state of beastly intoxication. The conduct of these vile constables on this occasion ought to become the subject of strict inquiry; they appeared to be with the bushrangers “Hail fellows well met.” At Illalong, the bushrangers, after making their usual inquisitorial inquiries, asked if there was not a bell on the premises? On being answered in the affirmative, they ordered one of the assigned men to break it to pieces, which was apparently very willingly done; after ordering corn for their horses and ransacking the house they pressed the services of one of the men to conduct them to Mr. J. M. Davis’s, about two miles distant, they found Mr. D. just sitting down to dinner, having, as a guest, Mr. Dunlop the police magistrate, who, armed with a pair of small pistols, resisted the first intruder, but upon seeing, immediately after, five others enter the room prudently desisted. After ordering Mr. D. and his guest to “bail up” in the room, the rascals sat down to the savoury viands, and cracked their jokes with as much case and familiarity as consisted with convict dignity, observing to Mr. Dunlop (at the same time applying a quizzing glass to his eye) it was the first time they had had the pleasure of meeting him at dinner; but they intended honouring him again with their company on Christmas Day. After remaining about an hour and a half on the premises and committing the usual spoliation, and making the servants drunk, they took away three of Mr. Davis’s horses; they then proceeded to the Rising Sun Inn, kept by Mr. Pendergrass, whom they robbed of £13 cash, here they met with Mr. John McDougall, who keeps the inn at the township, and for some alleged offence stripped him and tied him up, two of them inflicting a most unmerciful lashing, had it not been for the interference of Mr. P. it is probable they would have taken Mr. McDougall’s life

Pursuing their course of infamy, the miscreants directed their way to Mr. White’s, of the Red House on the Maitland Road, whom they robbed of a double-barrelled gun, a saddle, and a few shillings in money, several of them being in a state of intoxication, so that in leaving they could scarcely keep their seats. They then proceeded to Mr. Garrard’s (late Mr. Harper’s) station, about a mile distant, which they ransacked.  

I cannot conclude without making a few remarks respecting the praiseworthy conduct of our P. M., Mr. Dunlop, who, under the cover of night, and in danger of falling in with his late quondam companions, rode to Maitland for the purpose of obtaining the services of the mounted police; as these were proceeding from Maitland to Black Creek, they were met by a gentleman from the latter place, from whom information was given, which I flatter myself will lead to their detection.

It is reported they have since robbed the mail on its way from Darlington to Maitland.

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