Spotlight: Capture of Mason, the mate of Thunderbolt (21/09/1867)

Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser (NSW : 1856 – 1861; 1863 – 1889; 1891 – 1954), Saturday 21 September 1867, page 4

Epitome of News


(From last Saturday’s Tamworth Examiner.)

The mate of the notorious Thunderbolt, the youth Mason, has fallen into the hands of the police, and is now safely lodged in the gaol at Tamworth.

In a late issue we gave some of the particulars of a chase by the police of Ward and Mason in the Borah Ranges, and expressed an opinion that the pursuit would probably result in the capture of either one or other of these worthies, and such has proved to be the case. It seems that when constables Lynch and McCausland came upon Ward, Mason, and the mistress of the former on the Borah Ranges, they directed their efforts almost exclusively to the apprehension of Thunderbolt, but he managed to escape with the loss of the spare horse he was leading. Mason could have been then arrested had the police been as anxious for his apprehension as for Ward’s, but as he was not such a dangerous character, he was temporarily allowed to escape. During the pursuit Ward and Mason got separated, and from that time until the latter was arrested, they did not again meet. Mason, believing his mate had fallen into the hands of the police, started off as rapidly as possible from the scene of the encounter, and made his way to Bunnawannah station, and thence to the station of Mr. William Dangar, and the Old Oreel, about thirty-five miles from Millie. He was riding a horse of Mr. Pringle’s, and on reaching Millie the animal knocked up, and Mason then threw away his arms and the saddle and bridle, and proceeded the rest of the distance to Oreel on foot. He got to the station on the morning of the 3rd inst.

In the meantime the police had received information of his presence in the neighbourhood of Millie, and Senior-constable Connerty, of Narrabri, and other members of the force, started in pursuit.

On reaching Millie they separated, Connerty taking the bush in the direction of Oreel. He camped some distance from the station on the evening of the 3rd, and early next morning proceeded up to the station, and seeing Mason there, at once arrested him. He admitted he was the person the constable was in search of, and also that he had been engaged with Thunderbolt in a mail robbery. On searching him, cheques to the amount of upwards of £99 were found in his possession, which had been taken from the Merriwa mail. He was conveyed to Narrabri, and from thence to Tamworth, where he arrived on Sunday last.

His name is Thomas Mason, and he seems to be about 16 years of age. He is of slight build, fair complexion, and not by any means tall for his age. There does not appear to be any trace of insanity about him, as was at one time reported, nor any-thing in his outward appearance to indicate criminal propensities. He states that he was apprenticed out of the Orphan School to a Mr. Shaw, in the employment of Messrs. Gilchrist, Watt, and Co., of Sydney, at the age of 12 or 13 years. He remained with him some time, when he left and proceeded up country. He changed his employers frequently, the last he had being Edwards, and with whom he says he was engaged fencing, when he took up with Thunderbolt. He says be did not at first know who Thunderbolt was; that the latter represented himself as a squatter, and engaged him (Mason) to assist in taking a mob of horses overland. He soon, however, became aware of the character of his new employer, and after having witnessed the first robbery, did not have any compunction at adopting a bushranger’s life.

He was brought before the Police Court on Tuesday last, and remanded on five charges of highway robbery.

We compile the following from the various journals to hand :—


The ‘ Yass Courier’ reports the capture of three of the “Blue Cap” gang of bushrangers, namely Jack-the-devil, Duce, and an aboriginal named Jemmy. This leaves two others at large. The gang, after the attack on the Narrandera mail, near Nariah, were so closely persued by the police that they took to the “Levels,” where they know the country well. Here, on Saturday, 31st August, senior-constable Usher, and constables Little and White, after a long gallop, succeeded in getting up to them, and the three bushrangers, on being called on to surrender, immediately did so, without attempting any opposition.


The ‘South Australian Register‘ says: —Captain Barber, of the steamer Providence, reports being stuck up by three bushrangers near one of the sheep-stations on the Darling. He had come on shore from the steamer, and was proceeding to the station for the purpose of transacting business, when he was stopped by three fellows who were splendidly mounted. One of them demanded whether he was the captain of the steamer, and whether they had any money on board. They went on board the vessel, but would not go below, and left without any booty.


Bromley, the victim of the Rokewood outrage in Victoria, has died of the injuries received. His dying deposition accused Whelan, the man now in custody, of having committed the offence.


The ‘Braidwood Dispatch‘ says:— We understand that James Clarke, the only surviving brother of the outlaw, and who was convicted at the March Sessions in 1865 for passing notes stolen from the Queanbeyan mail, and who was sentenced, by his Honor Judge Meymott, to three years’ hard labour on the roads, has been discharged from custody.

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