Spotlight: Gilbert (08 July 1865)

Albury Banner and Wodonga Express (NSW : 1860 – 1938), Saturday 8 July 1865, page 4


THIS week we are able to give an illustration of the death of the notorious Johnny Gilbert, the bushranger, and accomplice with Hall, Dunn, and O’Meally in many an act of robbery and crime within the last few years. Gilbert was but twenty-five years old at time of his death, but was of a stout build and capable of undergoing great exertion. He was the son of respectable parents, and his father is now living Taradale, in Victoria where he has for some years resided, following the occupation of mining, and is stated to have been much grieved at the lawless habits of his unfortunate son. But little is known of the early life of Gilbert, except that he was engaged as stock rider in some stations about Forbes, and that at the end of the year 1862, he, like several other young men of loose habits, became inflamed with the passion and desire of becoming highwaymen, thinking it no doubt a grand thing and a noble pursuit instead of honestly and quietly working industriously for a livelihood. The violent end of Gilbert, coupled with the similar fate of two of his comrades and of Daniel Morgan, shows the fallacy of such a delusion. Throughout the year 1863, Gilbert, associated with either Ben Hall, O’Meally, and, Dunn, and, sometimes with the whole of them, perpetrated several daring crimes, such as robbing stores, stealing race-horses, stopping the mails and taking therefrom everything of value. Every thing was of late done by them in the most daring manner and in the most open way. They would ride up to places, bail up, as it is called, a whole village, adjourn to a hotel and compel those whom they pleased to join in all kinds of revelry and amusement and treat every one with the liquors, &c. of the landlord, who was forced to submit to this barefaced levy of black-mail. No one attempted to lay a hand on them, or if they did, the intended attempt was signalised to these freebooters and then vengeance was sure to fall upon the head of the person having the courage to endeavor to rid society of those who were making it their prey. The burning of the store of Mr. Morris, at Binda, is an instance in point, and it will be remembered that he nearly lost his life through attempting to secure Gilbert and Dunn. So matters went on every week, the list of crimes and offences swelling in magnitude until the 15th November last, when Gilbert, Hall, and Dunn stopped the mail from Gundagai to Yass at about four miles from Jugiong. The mail was escorted by two of the police, and on that occasion the bushrangers fired at them and Sergeant Edmund Parry was shot dead. Great excitement arose upon this and large parties of police were sent in pursuit and scattered about their haunts, but they were always “five minutes too late.” More robberies were committed, and on the 26th January last another police constable named Samuel Nelsen, was shot at Collector by these ruffians, it being believed that Dunn fired the shot which killed him, but both Gilbert and Hall were with him and were accessories to the murder. A reward of £1,000 was then put by Government on their heads, and the well known Felons’ Apprehension Act was passed into law, leading eventually to the breaking up of these gangs of robbers and murderers. At length in May the police got well on the trail of Gilbert and Dunn, Ben Hall having, been shot by a party of them near Forbes on the 29th April. On the 12th May, information was given that Dunn and Gilbert were in the neighborhood of Binalong, and that night Senior Constable Hales, with Constables Bright, King and others went to the hut of a man named Kelly and watched it all night. Kelly’s son came out in the morning, and, on being asked, denied that any one was inside. Hales, however, doubted him, and went up the door, when the elder Kelly called out, “here are some troopers surrounding the house.” King and Hales rushed inside and saw two men in another room, the door of which was shut to instantly, and a shot was fired at the police, who returned the fire, and called upon all to surrender, threatening to burn down the hut if they did not. Gilbert and Dunn thereupon jumped through a window at the back and commenced running to a paddock where their horses were, turning round and firing at their pursuers as they ran. Gilbert got into a creek, the bed of which was dry and ran along it, when Hales called on him to stand. This was unheeded, when Hales fired; Gilbert looked round and the next moment Bright aIso fired and Gilbert fell. King was close and was fired at by both Gilbert and Dunn and a shot from the latter hit him in the ankle and rendered him unable to give further assistance. Dunn got off in the scrub and was lost by the police, who, on their return, found Gilbert dead. On a post-mortem examination by Dr. Campbell, it was found that the bullet had passed through the left lung and the left ventricle of the heart, causing almost immediate death, and the jury, on the occasion of the inquest at Binalong the next day, immediately returned a verdict of “justifiable homicide.” Our illustration shows Gilbert falling from the wound, and Dunn firing at King. Dunn has not yet met his fate, which is, however, impending; and with him we hope there will be an end to our bushrangers.

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