Thomas Jeffries: an overview

He was referred to as “the monster”, accused of a string of horrific crimes including murder, infanticide and cannibalism. His reputation was so repulsive that the gentleman bushranger Brady threatened to break him out of prison so he could have the privilege of hanging the villain himself. But was Thomas Jeffries (aka Jeffrey) as bad as he was claimed to be? Continue reading Thomas Jeffries: an overview

Spotlight: The Man Whelan and Convict Discipline (28 May 1855)

“He has been for years the play-thing and sport of officials, who scarcely deserve the name of men. Many years ago he was sentenced to transportation beyond the seas for a limited period. That sentence did not say one word about the petty tyranny which has been practised upon him and upon his fellows, under the name of prison discipline. Those who are conversant with the history of Botany Bay, at the time when Whelan was sent there, will be free to acknowledge, that it was not a convict paradise.” Continue reading Spotlight: The Man Whelan and Convict Discipline (28 May 1855)

Spotlight: Apprehension and Robbery (21 May 1855)

Tasmanian Colonist (Hobart Town, Tas. : 1851 – 1855), Monday 21 May 1855, page 2 APPREHENSION OF ROCKY WHELAN. — The celebrated Norfolk Islander and bushranger John Whelan, was apprehended by constables Mulrenun and Gabriel, formerly non-commissioned officers in the 99th Regt. Whelan was in the act of purchasing a pair of boots from Mr. Gourney, of Liverpool-street on Saturday evening, when he was recognised by constable Mulrenan, to whom he was not unknown during his stay on Norfolk Island. He was not unarmed at the time of his capture, and was in no way short of cash. HIGHWAY ROBBERY. … Continue reading Spotlight: Apprehension and Robbery (21 May 1855)

Spotlight: Brady’s Threat (17 May 1826)

Brady, on Tuesday night, told Mr. Dodding, one of the turn-keys at the gaol, that if Jeffries was not taken out of the cell ” he would be found in the morning without his head.” Jeffries was consequently removed to another cell. He voluntarily gave up two knives, which he had concealed about his person, either to carry his former threats into execution, or to cut his irons, in attempting to escape. Continue reading Spotlight: Brady’s Threat (17 May 1826)

Spotlight: Westwood writes to his parents (29 April 1847)

In a former number we gave the copy of a letter written by William Westwood, better known as Jackey Jackey, and at the time of its appearance an attempt was made to shew that he had died breathing a spirit of bitterness very unsuited to any man at the last hour of his existence. What the motives for doing Westwood such an injustice, it is not our present purpose to inquire; certain however it is, that such was not the fact, as the following copy of another letter will show. “Justice to free and bond” is our maxim in such matters, and we see no reason why the last dying thoughts of the malefactor should not be as fairly represented as those of him whose life has not been forfeited to the offended laws of his country. Continue reading Spotlight: Westwood writes to his parents (29 April 1847)

Spotlight: Cash and Co. near Richmond (14 March 1843)

Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 – 1857), Tuesday 14 March 1843, page 3 Domestic Intelligence. BUSHRANGERS.— On Sunday last the township of Richmond was put into great excitement by a report that Cash, Kavenagh, and Jones were in the neighbourhood. “What is to be done?” was the general inquiry, there being only two or three constables at the place. These, with the Police Magistrate and Captain Forth, were soon in pursuit, and in the end two men with a woman were apprehended ; the latter being an assigned woman from a farm near the township. It appears that being … Continue reading Spotlight: Cash and Co. near Richmond (14 March 1843)

Spotlight: The Bush-Rangers – Dreadful Outrages and Murder! (10 March 1826)

Colonial Times and Tasmanian Advertiser (Hobart, Tas. : 1825 – 1827), Friday 10 March 1826, page 2 THE BUSH-RANGERS. Dreadful Outrages and Murder! Extract of a letter from Launceston, dated on Monday last :— “On Saturday evening last, Brady, with his whole party of fourteen attacked Mr. DRY’S house ; and, after putting in the necessary centinels and securing the servants in an inside room, proceeded to rifle the house of all its contents —very coolly emptying all the drawers and boxes of their contents of linen, clothes, and everything valuable, and deliberately tying them up in bundles to be … Continue reading Spotlight: The Bush-Rangers – Dreadful Outrages and Murder! (10 March 1826)

Spotlight: A Bushranger’s Autobiography (part four)

We got to the place agreed on, and where I could see the main land at about two miles distance. We must get across to it, and had no boat. I was a very bad swimmer. and two miles was a long pull for a new beginner. But my two companions did not hesitate, but pulled off their trousers and plunged into the water, with me after them, with my trousers thrown over my neck, for I was determined to get over to the mainland or be drowned in the attempt. After swimming about a mile, one of my companions — and very soon after the other — was seized, and drawn down by the sharks. I was left alone to the mercy of the waves, expecting the same fate every minute. At last, after a desperate struggle, I got to the land, but had lost my trousers and shirt, and scrambled ashore quite naked. In this state I found myself alone in a bush that I did not know, and greatly grieved at the death of my two companions. I made a bed in the long grass and picked up some shellfish that kept me alive for three days. On the fourth day the constables saw me, and I was brought back to Port Arthur once more, where I was punished with 90 days’ solitary confinement and 12 months’ “E.H.L.C.” (extension with hard labour in chains). Continue reading Spotlight: A Bushranger’s Autobiography (part four)

Spotlight: A Bushranger’s Autobiography (part three)

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. Continue reading Spotlight: A Bushranger’s Autobiography (part three)