Spotlight: A Bushranger’s Autobiography (part three)

Australasian (Melbourne), Saturday 15 February 1879, page 7


(continued from last week.) THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY.

In the year 1841, on April 15, I was tried at Berrima for being in the bush under arms. I was found guilty, and transported for life to Norfolk Island, never to return. I remained in the gaol waiting to be conveyed down to Sydney. One morning the order came for me to go. I was placed in a cart and guarded by three mounted police and a constable. One night on the road I was placed in the lock-up at the Stone Quarry for the night. I put my wits to work to get out, and succeeded. I instantly made for the place where the mounted police slept. I took what arms I wanted, as they were all fast asleep. Next, I scaled the wall of the lock-up yard after a deal of trouble, for I was so heavily chained I could scarcely walk. Before I could get well into the bush, daylight made its appearance. I was surrounded by constables in all directions searching for me. I expected to be taken every minute. The thought came into my head to get up a tree. I picked out a good one, and scrambling up, there I remained all day. At night I came down, but dare not proceed any further, as the constables would be lying in wait all round me. I remained in this way for four days, up in the tree in the daytime, and down at night.

The fourth night I made to a house I could see some way off, to seek some refreshment and likewise something to cut my irons with. I knocked at the door, they opened it, and I went in. They all appeared to be very much frightened at my appearance. They were very poor people, and it grieved me to the heart to take anything from them. They gave me some refreshment, and I felt a different man altogether. I asked them for a knife and file to cut off my irons with. They gave them to me, and I bid them good night. I now walked into the bush, and cut my chains off that night. The next morning, I concealed myself under a bridge, waiting to stop the first man that came. In the course of an hour a gentleman came on horseback. I made my appearance in front of him with no hat and no shoes; all the clothes I had on was a shirt and a pair of trousers. I was something like a wild man, but I gave the old war cry, “Stand, or I’ll blow your head off.” I then ordered him off his horse, and to turn out his pockets. Then I mounted his horse, and marched him in the front of me a mile into the bush. I made him take off everything but his shirt. Then I put on his clothes and gave him my trousers; his own mother would hardly have known him. I told him I was going up the country, and bid him good day. After I had got out of sight, I turned my horse’s head right round, and took down the country. I came on to the road and held gently along until I met two gentlemen going up the country. I stopped them, and took all their money and their watches. This job over I put spurs to my horse, and went lull gallop along, robbing everyone I met until I came to the Cow Pastures. Here I turned my horse adrift, as I did not consider I was safe on his back. He was dead beat. I then went to one of my friends to take a spell, and get some things I required.

The next place where I made my appearance was on the West End road, close to Paramatta. I stood by the road, and the first person I stuck up was a parson going to the West End church to preach. I did not rob him. I let him pass as he was a parson. I had an hour’s conversation with him. He tried to get me to go to church with him, but that did not answer. A horse and chaise now made its appearance, and I bid the parson good day. When the horse and chaise came up to where I was standing, I ordered the driver to pull up or I would shoot him. I made him come down and empty his pockets. He was very loth to perform this part of the business but turned out about £27. I took also his coat and hat and let him go.

I did not fancy that part of the country, so I took the coach and went up towards Goulburn. Here I was in a part I knew well. I began again by sticking up Mr. H. I took all his money and his clothes, but I gave him mine in return. I then took him to a bridge and placed him underneath for about an hour. Three horsemen now made their appearance, all abreast and in earnest conversation. As they came near I jumped into the centre of the road with the word of command, made them get down and tie their horses to a tree. Then their pockets were turned out, and they stood back. I then advanced and took the money up. I then took Mr. J. M.’s horse and bid them good day.

One day as I came out on to the road, I saw some drays encamped. I tied my horse to a tree about 300 yards from the drays. I walked down to the drays. I knew one of the men. I asked him to make me a pot of tea. He told me I had better get off into the bush, as I was in danger there, five constables being with them looking for me only half an hour ago. I took his advice, and went back to my horse to wait while he brought me some tea and other refreshment, as he said he would. About five minutes after I had left the drays, I saw four mounted police come full gallop up to the drays. They did not stop there long, but came full speed towards me. My horse was unsaddled, with a tether rope round his neck, taking a feed of grass. I had no time for anything before they were upon me. I mounted a tree close to where my horse was tied, from which I had the pleasure of seeing them seeking for me for about an hour. They took my horse, but did not discover me. I got clean off, and they did not know how it was done.

I now thought the sooner I get a new horse the better; so, I made to Mr. Stukey’s, to pay him a visit. I arrived at his place before he was up. When he made his appearance, I rather surprised him by telling him to stand. At this time there was no one up but himself. I went to the kitchen, and called the servant-man. He dressed himself, and came down stairs.
“Tie your master’s hands behind him,” I said. At this time all the young ladies came running down stairs in their nightgowns. “For God’s sake, don’t hurt my father,” they cried. It seemed there was an ill-feeling between the servant-man and his master, as he had got him flogged a few days before. The servant-man now commenced pitching into his master, right and left; at which the young females appealed to me to prevent the servant from beating their father. I gave I the young ladies no answer to that, for I considered he was doing nothing but right.
The man now came to me and said, “Give me a pistol and I’ll shoot him.”
“No,” I said, “I’ll do no such thing.”
I now over hauled the house. I found a double-barrelled gun. I then went into the kitchen and ordered the servant-woman to get breakfast ready. I then asked the master where the key of the store was. The servant-man took the key and unlocked the store. I went in, and found plenty of rum, wine, and brandy. I took a glass of the brandy, gave the servant-man one, and likewise the woman. I then asked the young ladies to take a glass of wine with me. This they did, and drank my health. After I had got such things as I required out of the store, I took breakfast with Mr. and Mrs. Stukey. After breakfast I ordered Miss Stukey to go and bring me a suit of Mr. Stukey’s best clothes. At this time the servant-man and also the servant-woman wanted to join me as companions. I gave my consent to the man, but not to the woman. He then put on a suit of his master’s best clothes, while I went into the stable, saddled a horse, and put the plunder on his back. He was quite a young horse, and had not been rode many times. I mounted him, and off we went. The servant-woman came running after us and caught me by the hand. The horse took fright, and by chance flung me off and galloped away into the bush. I went back to Mr. Stukey’s, and he begged and prayed of me not to let his servant-man go with me, as his time was almost done, and he promised me faithfully not to take him to court for his conduct that morning. I then advised the man to stay where he was, for mine was a very bad game to play. Having arranged my swag, I bid them good day, and was getting out of the paddock, when the female servant came running to me again, and catching hold of me said, “Where you go, I will go, so say no more.” I tried to persuade her to go back, but she would not. So, I let her come with me, and a faithful companion she was whilst I remained in the bush.

I now thought I would pay my friend Mr. “Black Francis” McCarthy a visit. He was in the habit of going to Goulburn church every Sunday. I came to the road and waited. About 4 o’clock in the afternoon I saw him coming in his carriage. I was ready, and sprang out before them, and bid them pull up or be shot. I then ordered him down out of the carriage, and turn out his pockets, and be sharp about it, and not dare to speak one word to me, as he hadn’t me in Goulburn Court-house now, and trying to make men swear away my life, and his life was now in my hands. It was my firm intention to tie him up to the wheel of his carriage, and make his driver flog him; but through his sister being with him he escaped this punishment. I next ordered him to take one of the horses out of the carriage and take off the harness, and I warned him that if he let the horse escape, I would consider he did it purposely, and blow his head off. When I had picked up the money and watch I got on the back of his carriage horse, and left him to his reflections. He was “black” enough when I met him, but I left him white enough; and from the top of a hill, I looked back and had the pleasure to see the coachman leading the one horse up the hill, and Mr. Black Francis pushing the carriage behind — a sight that gave me real satisfaction.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s