Spotlight: The Late Mrs. Taylor (20/07/1917)

Dungog Chronicle : Durham and Gloucester Advertiser (NSW : 1894 – 1954), Friday 20 July 1917, page 7


Mrs Jane Taylor, who recently died at Cox’s Creek, at the advanced age of 94 years, and whose memory never failed her, was an interesting conversationalist of the days gone by. She was born in Bedford, county Devonshire, England in 1823, and came to New South Wales in ’39 with her parents in the sailing vessel, Kinnear, and the voyage took six months. Nowadays six weeks steam is considered a long trip. Her father, Mr Boyce, was a lawyer in England and practised his profession, but the spirit of Westward Ho was in his soul, and the enticing reports of the glorious country across the sea, Australia, lured him from the law courts, and he landed in Newcastle in 1839. On arrival he was offered a high government position in the legal sphere, but his determination was to take up land and as that was what he came out for, he obtained a stretch of country at Cockle Creek. There the family resided for many years and enjoyed the new life under sunny skies. It was whilst at Cockle Creek that the homestead was visited by the bushrangers Ruggy, Marshall and Shea, who terrorised the country at that time. Those outlaws bailed the family up in the big fire place and ransacked the home. Mr Boyce had a beautiful watch and it was seen on him by one of the marauders, but he slipped it down the leg of his trousers, the knee breeches of those days, and despite all the searching it could not be found. This same watch is now in the possession of Mrs Albert Taylor of Cox’s Creek. The only other article in the whole house that was of value, and was saved from the robbers, was a silver spoon, one of a handsome set brought from the Old Country. The late Mrs Taylor was ordered to get the unwelcome visitors afternoon tea, and they carried off the complete tea set, except the spoon she hid in her clothes, and the spoon and watch still remain with the memories of those days clinging to them. Cockle Creek did not appeal to the Boyce family and they moved to Paterson. The daughter, Jane, prior to leaving, married Timothy Taylor and went to Cox’s Creek with him, where he selected, occupying the place now the home of Mrs Albert Taylor. These pioneers resided at Cox’s Creek for a considerable time, after which they moved to the property of their son-in-law, Mr George Osmond, at Sugarloaf. Mr Taylor pre-deceased his wife by 25 years. Mr and Mrs Taylor were pioneers of the right kind. They saw the district grow and played no mean part in its progress. The descendants of the old family are found throughout the whole of the coast. The children numbered five sons and three daughters, and of these there are living Mrs Thos. Richardson (Binglebrah), Mrs Wm. Osmond (Cox’s Creek), J. and C. Taylor (Barrington). There are also 39 grand-children, 68 great grand-children, and one great-great grand child. The deceased lady was of a kind hearted and happy disposition, ever ready for a laugh, ever willing to do a kindness. She was a boon to her neighbors, always helping them in their cares and worries, her death removes one of the finest type of pioneers that the country can boast of. At the graveside a high tribute was paid to the deceased by Ven. Archdeacon Luscombe, who performed the last sad rites.

Spotlight: The Trial of the Edward Davis and His Gang (1841)

Australasian Chronicle (Sydney, NSW : 1839 – 1843), Thursday 25 February 1841, page 2


(Before, his Honor the Chief Justice)

John Shea was indicted for the wilful murder of John Graham, by shooting him, on the 21st of December, 1840, at St. Aubins, near Scone; and John Marshall, James Everett, Edward Davies, alias Wilkinson, Robert Chittey, and Richard Glanville, were indicted for being present as accessories, aiding and abetting. A second count charged the murder to some person unknown; and all the prisoners as being present aiding and abetting. The Attorney General opened the proceedings, and said that all the prisoners had originally come to the colony convicts, and were assigned to different persons; and he was sorry to find that no reformation had taken place in their characters, although they had been allowed that indulgence which the law held out as an encouragement for good behaviour to persons in their situation. He believed also that in the case of the prisoners he might say that they were, especially Glanville, as comfortably situated in their respective services as persons in their circumstances had a right to expect. He then stated the facts of the case, and called Edward Daley Day, Esq., P. M., who was examined by Mr. Therry, and said, that on the 21st of December he was at Muswell Brook; and, in consequence of information which he had received on the previous evening, he collected a party of mounted men, and started about seven o’clock on Monday morning in pursuit of some bushrangers, in the direction of Scone, passed through that place, and came up with them about fifty miles from Muswell Brook, and thirty-six from Scone, at a place called Doby Hollow; about half a mile from the road the witness and his party saw about six or seven men rushing to the opposite side of the gully; they galloped in amongst them, and shots were fired on both sides; he particularly observed Davies, who ran to gain the cover of a large tree, when Mr. Day fired at him, and Davies returned the shot; he then gained the tree, and rested his gun on the fork of the tree, and again fired at witness, who was not more than twenty yards from him; witness immediately returned the shot, and wounded the prisoner in the shoulder. Shea, Marshall, Everett, Davies, and Chitty were captured almost immediately after; they had in their possession ten or eleven guns, a great number of pistols, and seven horses with bridles and saddles. Witness sent out two parties at daylight the next morning, and Glanville was brought in by one of them. During the night the prisoners Davies and Marshall kept them awake with talking; they were all, in fact, very communicative, and, without any questions to induce them to make any confession, they gave a history of their proceedings. Shea said distinctly that he was the man who shot Mr. Graham; it was no use saying anything more about it, for he was the man who shot Graham, and no one else. Davies said that he would always oppose the shedding of blood, for he knew if they once committed a murder they would not reign a week; whilst saying so he looked at the other four men, and said, you now see we have not reigned a day. Marshall said he would shoot any man who attempted to oppose him, and Graham was a very foolish young man, and he could not expect anything else, when he fired amongst so many armed men. Shea then said he would shoot his own father if he attempted to shoot him. Some of them said that up to that morning they had done nothing, in all the robberies they had committed, that could affect their lives. Shea acknowledged that he had fired six shots, Davies said he had fired four, Everett said he had fired two, and Chitty afterwards said that he had fired one. They appeared to be quite pleased at the resistance they had made, and said, if they could have got hold of the two men of their own party who had deserted, they would rather have shot them than anybody else; they called them recruits, and not tried men. There were with him, Mr. Edward White, Mr. Shinquin, chief constable of Muswell Brook; constable Nolan; Walker, Dawe, Evans, and Kelly, ticket-of-leave holders; and an assigned servant named Donohue. He was afterwards joined by Mr. Richard Danger and one of his assigned servants, Dr. Gill, and Mr. Warren. The ticket-of-leave holders all behaved admirably. They found upon the prisoners some trinkets, watches, and about £60 or £70 in bank notes, silver, and sovereigns. At the time witness and his party came upon them, one of them was casting bullets, and another making cartridges; they said they had never before left their camp without a sentry stationed about half a mile from the camp to give the alarm, and they said they only left off firing when all their ammunition was expended.

Cross-examined by Mr. Purefoy, who appeared for the prisoner Davies. — It was clear daylight, about six o’clock in the evening, when witness and his party came up with the prisoners, who might have seen the party about half a mile before it reached them. They afterwards said they saw the party at the time it turned from the road, but, not thinking it to be in pursuit of them, they took no notice of it; they said they did not expect to be pursued that day, and they intended to shift their camp at night, as they knew very well that the country would be up in arms after them the next day. Witness thought that Everett also said he was opposed to the shedding of blood.

Cross examined by Shea. — Witness thought Shea and all the rest were quite sober that night; they did not, in fact, appear to have been drinking.

Re-examined. — The horses appeared to be very jaded; they said they had taken the grey mare from Mr. William Dangar’s that morning; they appeared very merry, and said they would much sooner be hanged than go to Norfolk Island for life.

James Ducliaw, sadler, Scone, examined by the Attorney General.— Was in the employ of Mr. Thomas Danger; recollected the morning when John Graham was shot; he was Mr. T. Dangar’s clerk, and was about twenty-three or twenty-four years of age; it was on the 21st of December, on a Monday morning; witness had soon Mr. Graham that morning, a little before seven; in about a quarter of an hour after, as he was at his work, witness saw a strange man come into the yard on horseback, and just before that a number of horsemen passed the yard gate. When the man went into the yard, he sung out “cook, cook, come out here;” and witness then said to the man who was in the shop with him, “they are bushrangers.” He thought so because the man had a very wild appearance, and came galloping into the yard; he saw no ribbons about the man, and he could not say that any of the prisoners were the same man. Witness then ran out the back way for the police, and as he was running through the bush, he saw Graham running in the same direction on the road; Graham afterwards walked, and then started off running again, and he staggered. Witness had heard two shots fired; as he came near Graham, he said to witness, “Saddler, I am shot through; I am a dead man,” and witness got up to him as soon as he fell. Witness turned round, and saw a man about five or six rods from him; he called out to witness, “come back here, or I’ll blow your brains out.” He was on horseback, and armed, but witness could not identify him. He asked Graham also to go back, but he said he could not, as he was shot through; he then ordered witness to march on, and they left Graham lying there. When they got back, witness saw another man standing at Mr. Dangar’s store door, apparently armed and keeping guard; another man came out of the store; the rest were down at the inn. One of them came out with some bracelets, and the one who was standing guard trampled on them, and they were broke. The man who brought the witness back said there was a man shot, and the time for them to stop was short. He then galloped off up the road. Witness was so much alarmed that he did not know any of the men; he was ordered to stand at a tree opposite Dangar’s store; they went down to Mr. Chiever’s, about five or six rods off on the opposite side of the road; one house could be seen from the other, and if the talking at one place was loud, it might be heard at the other; the men might be there for about a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes: they all went off together from Chiever’s door on horseback; there were seven of them, and they were all armed. The whole of Mr. Dangar’s family were in the house at the time; as soon as they were gone away, witness ran up to Graham; he was still alive, but quite insensible. There was a large wound in the small of his back, and some blood on his shirt; he did not live more than ten minutes after.

Cross-examined by Mr. Purefoy.— Witness could not swear who fired the shot; he only heard two shots fired. It might be about a hundred rods from Mr. Dangar’s store to the place where witness saw Graham; a person could not be seen or heard, unless he shouted very loud, or stood on the fence, front the stores to the place where Graham was; or a person might be seen at that distance on horseback. Witness did not examine the pistol which was lying by the side of Graham, and could not tell whether it was loaded or not.

Elizabeth Chievers, wife of John Chievers, publican of Scone, remembered seeing some men go to Mr. Dangar’s house on the morning of the 21st of December; she heard the noise of horses’ feet, and on looking out of the window she observed three men, having the appearance of gentlemen, who rode up to Mr. Dangar’s gates, and one of them dismounted and went in; one of them had a light coloured ribbon in his hat, and she thought on that account they were bushrangers; she turned round to go out of the room to see if they were bushrangers, but as she was going towards the door a man came and said, “Well, mistress, what have you got for us?” Witness asked him what he wanted, and he said money, and he knew that she had plenty, and he must have it; Glanville was the man. This witness also identified Marshall and Everett, and said she believed Davies was also there; on looking at him again she said she was sure that he was the man who was standing at the bar door with ribbons in his hat. Glanville was armed with two guns, and several pistols in his belt. The witness then sat down, and Glanville told her to get up and give him the money, as he had not long to stop; she then gave him the cash box out of the bedroom window; there was in it about thirty £1 notes, two £10 notes, half a sovereign, and about £20 in silver; there were also some orders, but he said they were of no use to him, but he took the money and went round the place to see if he could find any fire-arms; he then called Ruggy, and the prisoner Everett came and asked what was in the cash box, and witness told him that the other man had taken it all. Everett then went towards the mantelpiece and took two bullet moulds, and a gun from the fire-place. In looking about the prisoner Everett found a fiddle, and called out, “Morey, can you play the fiddle?” to which some one answered, “no; but I should like to have a bugle.” She went down then to the kitchen, where some persons were bailed up, and saw Davies standing armed at the bar door; she said she was afraid, and Davies said he would not hurt her, and at the time showed her a pistol; at the same time Marshall came into the room with a gun in his hand and said, “Is it all right here?” to which Davies replied, “Yes.” There was a border policeman in the room, and Marshall said, “You have got a policeman here,” and Davies said, “Yes; but he is a government man.” Marshall then asked the policeman who he belonged to, and he said to Mr. Macdonald, to which Marshall said it was a good job for him. They went out soon after and called the policeman; witness followed them to the door, and then saw five or six men with broken firearms; they soon after that rode away past Mr. Dangar’s as fast as they could, and she counted seven of them; at the time witness went to the door she saw three other men bailed up under a tree opposite Mr. Dangar’s house. During the time she was in the bedroom she heard three shots fired, and she saw the body of Graham brought down about two hours after the men had gone; while they were in the house she heard one of them say “Is he settled?” and another replied,” Yes; it is all right;” she did not know what they meant then, but she afterwards thought it referred to Graham being shot. Mr. Chievers was not at home at the time. This witness was cross-examined at considerable length by Mr. Purefoy, but nothing new or material was elicited.

Cross-examined by Marsall.— The first time she saw him was when he came into the room; he was then in his shirt sleeves with a broad leafed hat and ribbon on it.

Re-examined — There did not appear to be two parties of them, they all seemed to be acting in concert.

William Day, cook at Mr. Chievers, remembered some persons on horseback coming to Mr. Chievers on the 21st December; one of them came into the yard and held a pistol to his head; the prisoner Everett was the man; he was dressed in a dark coat and a Manilla hat with pink ribbon on it; he was then taken into the bar and bailed up with the rest. A man in the passage said “Is that fellow all right?” witness supposed that referred to Graham, as he had seen a shot fired by a man who stood in the road opposite Mr. Dangar’s house; the shot was fired at Mr. Graham; I saw him running along the road, and the man who fired at him was about twenty yards from him; witness saw that before Everett came up to him. He thought he heard a shot fired, and that caused him to look towards the building, and then he saw the second shot fired; he thought it took effect from seeing Graham slacken his pace all of a sudden; he did not see him fall, for he was instantly accosted by Everett; witness thought when the man said “Is that fellow all right?” he alluded to Graham; as soon as he could he made his way out the backway to call the police, and as he was returning he saw seven men riding along the road about three or four hundred yards from the house, and he had no doubt but they were the same men who had been at Dangar’s and Chievers’; witness could not say which was the man who fired, but he had a light coat on.

Cross-examined — Witness might be about a hundred yards from the man who fired at Mr. Graham at the time he fired; he was then standing quite still; did not see a pistol fired by Mr. Graham; there appeared to be two parties of them, one at Dangar’s and the other at Chievers’; it was about seven o’clock in the morning, and there might be a distance of about fifty or sixty yards between the houses; a transaction might be going on in one house and a party in the other not know anything of it.

Re-examined — From what he said, the men at Dangar’s and at Chievers’ seemed to be all of one party.

Joseph Chievers, brother of Mr. Chievers, publican of Scone, was at his brother’s house on the 21st. of December, and saw Marshall, Everett, Davies, and Glanville there. Marshall inquired if it was all right about, half an hour after the other three had been there; he was in the bar when he asked that question, and some one answered, “Yes, it is nearly all over.” Witness had heard two of three shots fired; and about half an hour after the shots were fired they all went away, seven in number. Everett met him in the yard, with a pistol in each hand, and ordered him to bail up in the bar. Davies kept the bar door. He saw Graham when they brought him down on a board. Thomas Dangar, storekeeper at St. Aubin’s, near Scone, said he remembered the men coming to his house, and one of them knocking at the bedroom door. Upon opening it Marshall entered the room, and asked if that young man (meaning Mr. Graham) was witness’s son; he (witness) answered no; and Marshall said that the young man had fired at them, and they would have his life. Witness did not hear any shots fired. Marshall asked for the keys, and they were delivered to him. He took some watches and bracelets, which latter witness afterwards found had been trampled to pieces. Marshall said if witness left the room he would shoot him. He left some valuable property behind him, and did not stay more than two minutes in the room. He appeared to be alarmed after Graham had been shot. The prisoner Marshall, in cross-examining this witness, admitted being in the bedroom and questinning Mr. Dangar, as stated.

Thomas Dangar, aged eleven years, proved that the prisoner Chittey was the man who rode into the yard and called out “Cook, cook;” and that he was the man who rode on towards the township. The witness also saw Marshall in his father’s bedroom, and heard him ask if that young man (Graham) was his son, and say that he had shot at them, and they would have his life, or words to that effect. Marshall afterwards went through the yard. and said to the cook, “It is through you the other man got away.” Witness afterwards supposed that the prisoner, in saying that, alluded to Mr. Graham. Witness saw Mr. Graham dead about an hour after.

Sarah Dangar, wife of Mr. T. Dangar, was then called, and corroborated the evidence of the above witnesses in every particular, and also said that she heard the report of a gun three times. She also identified the prisoner Marshall, but could not identify any of the others.

William Jones, fencer, remembered being in the bush on the 20th of December last, where he fell in with seven men, six of whom then stood at the bar. One of the prisoners, whom he knew, desired witness to go down to the creek in the shade. When he went down he saw six more sitting on the grass. Marshall and Everett went up to his hut, and asked what beef he had. He showed them what he had cooked; and they asked him if he had not any more, and he told them none cooked. They took what was cooked, and had two or three pots of tea. They were all armed, and they left him about sundown. It was about twelve o’clock in the day when he fell in with them. He heard of Graham’s death the morning after. On this witness retiring from the box Everett said he hoped he (the witness) would be the next man who would be shot, and all such b—y dogs.

John Paterson, a settler living about four miles from Scone, recollected seven bushrangers coming to his house, on the 21st of December, all armed and mounted. All the six at the bar were there. They staid about five minutes, and took a horse from him, and appeared to be very much agitated. Some had hats, and others not; one man had blue ribbons in his hat. He heard of Mr. Graham’s death in the course of the day. They took a pistol from him as well as the horse.

James Norrie remembered seven bushrangers calling at his house, about eleven miles from Scone, on the 21st of December, on horseback. The prisoners at the bar were there; they breakfasted at his house, and paid for what they had. He held their horses at the door, and they told him he was to look out, and give them due notice if he saw anybody approach. Witness thought it was Davies who said to him, “Go into the house; we can shoot a man in a minute; we have shot one already,” He had seen Davies before; he had stopped at his house once or twice before.

Cross-examined. — he would not positively swear that Davies was the man who said they had shot one already, but he believed he was. The man who said so was quite sober, and the others were in the house at the time.

Richard South, publican at Page’s River, twenty five miles from Scone, remembered the prisoners calling at his house about twelve o’clock on the 21st of December. They bailed up all the family, and broke up some fire-arms. Marshall said he would deal with witness before he went away. Marshall, Shea, and Davies had stopped him about three weeks before on the road, and robbed him of his horse, saddle, and bridle. While they were at his house he heard a shot fired, but could not tell who fired it. When they went away they left a horse behind them.

Isaac Haig, surgeon of Red Bank, near Scone, examined the body of Graham, and proved that his death was caused by a gun-shot wound in the cavity of the chest, which was filled with blood. The ball had entered in the back of the deceased, a few inches from the spine, and had penetrated the chest. He opened the body, but the ball could not be found.

John Nolan, constable of Muswell Brook, was one of the party who went with Mr. Day to apprehend the prisoners; witness fired some shots, and Everett and Sires fired at him; about sixteen or seventeen shots were fired at their party by the prisoners; they captured five of them, and the next day they took Glanville on Liverpool Plains; he was then unarmed; he said that he was not present when Graham was shot. This closed the case for the prosecution, and Mr. Purefoy then addressed the jury on behalf of the prisoner Davies, contending that he was not present at Dangar’s robbery at all, much less at the murder of Mr. Graham; but that from the evidence it was clear that during the whole time he was at Chievers’, and that the transactions were entirely distinct from each other, and there had been no evidence whatever to show that the party at Chievers’ had any participation in the robbery and murder which was committed at Dangar’s. The learned gentleman further urged the fact that Davies, who it had been assumed was the leader of the band, had expressly and distinctly avowed his disapprobation of the shedding of blood; and it was also in evidence that the party with whom he was at Chievers’ conducted themselves in a quiet manner, and that Davies himself had assured Mrs. Chievers that no one should be hurt. The learned gentleman then commented at some length, and concluded by saying that he could safely leave the case in the hands of the jury; but he must contend that there was no evidence to pin the murder on his client. The other prisoners made no defence, with the exception of Everett, who said he was innocent of the murder.

Thomas Walker was called as a witness for Davies, but did not appear. The Attorney General briefly replied to the remarks made by Mr. Purefoy. His Honor summed up at great length, and said the case was one of the most important which had come before the notice of that court during the present sittings, or perhaps during the last two or three sittings; and the only question to which the jury would direct their attention was that of murder. They were not to take into account the numerous robberies which the prisoners had committed; for they were not being tried for being bushrangers, but on a capital charge of murder; that, therefore, was the question to which the jury would direct their attention. His Honor then laid down the law, and stated, that though a party of men might go out to commit a felony, and a part of them should, during the transaction, commit a second felony, they would all be liable to be called to an account for it; and quoted a case, in which he was retained for the defence some years ago, of a party of young men going to rob a certain house, and one of them taking with him a loaded blunderbuss; and that, on arriving near the house where they intended to commit the burglary, some alarm was made, and the occupier threw up the window to see what was the matter, when one of the young men, who was nephew to the person, immediately shot him; and, though none of the other prisoners were near him at the time when he fired, some of them being even at the back of the house, seven of them were tried, condemned, and executed, along with the actual murderer. If, therefore, the jury were satisfied that the prisoners were all of one party, and that the locality of the houses was such with reference to each other that the party who were in one could be cognizant of what was going on in the other, they must return a verdict accordingly. His Honor then read over the whole of the evidence, commenting on it as he went along; and said, if the jury were satisfied that two distinct felonies had been committed, and that the party engaged in one had nothing to do with, or were not cognizant of what was done by the others, they would then be justified in making a distinction. If they were satisfied that Davies, Glanville, and Everett were not present at Dangar’s robbery, in that constructive manner which the law required, then they would make a distinction in the cases; and that appeared to be the only point for their consideration, and if they were satisfied upon that point, then he (the Chief Justice) did advise the jury to acquit those men of that charge. The jury then retired, and after a consultation of three-quarters of an hour returned a verdict of guilty against all the prisoners. The Attorney General then prayed the judgment of the court upon the prisoners, and his Honor, in a very impressive manner, passed sentence of death upon them all. The trial, which appeared to excite great interest, was not concluded till nearly eight o’clock in the evening, and the court was densely crowded throughout the whole of the day. The prisoners all appeared to look upon the proceedings with the most perfect indifference.

Spotlight: Letter to the Editor, Concerning the Jewboy Gang (1841)

Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser (NSW : 1838 – 1841), Friday 22 January 1841, page 2


To the Editor of the

Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser.

Sir,—Considering it a duty due to the public I beg leave to request that you will permit me through the medium of your paper, to enquire how it was that the party of mounted police, headed by sergeant Lee, who were in pursuit of the notorious bushrangers “Marshall,” “Ruggy,” “Shay,” “Davis” and “Chitty” on or about the 14th December last, allowed them to escape their notice when they were so close that they captured three of their horses. This occurred at Reid’s Mistake Heads. The police party had a native guide and they must have known that the bushrangers were not very far away when the horses loaded and saddled were found grazing. The bushrangers said that the police were so close upon them that they only evaded them by swimming across the Lake Macquarie. Had the police quietly laid in ambush they would in all probability have detected the marauders mounting their horses – all throughout, I must confess that there appears to have been very little military skill or common forethought shown by the police party.

I remain Sir your obedient servant.


Spotlight: News from the Interior (1840)

Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 – 1842), Thursday 31 December 1840, page 2



On Sunday last, the 20th instant, information was received by Mr. Day, who fortunately for the inhabitants of the Hunter’s River districts happened to be here, that the bushrangers had visited a station of Sir Francis Forbes, distant about three miles from this place, and bailed up the persons there in order that a report might not reach Muswell Brook, and kept them so until nearly sundown, when they departed.

On the bushrangers quitting the station, a person named Jones, holding a ticket-of-leave, lost no time in reporting the matter to Mr. Day, who with that energy and decision so peculiar to him, immediately determined on pursuit, to carry which into effect, he caused information to be forwarded to the surrounding settlers of the contiguity of the bushrangers, and requested their co-operation and assistance in the pursuit the following morning (Monday.)

On Monday, the 21st instant, Mr. Day was joined by Mr. Edward White, Mr. R.C. Dangar, also by the Chief Constable, John Nolan, Peter Daw, Martin Kelly, William Evans, William Walker, the five latter are ticket-of-leave holders, Martin Donohoe, who is an assigned servant, and a black boy. The party proceeded in a direction likely to fall in with the tracks of the bushrangers, in which they succeeded not quite a mile from Muswell Brook, and continued on that track for about five miles, when they were informed the bushrangers had crossed the Hunter at Aberdeen the previous night; on receiving the intelligence the party in pursuit pushed on in the direction of Scone, when after crossing the Hunter, the party met a man who had been despatched from Scone, for the purpose of reporting at Muswell Brook the robbery at Mr. William Dangar’s, at Turanville, that of the Inn at Scone, from which they took £70, as well as Mr. Thomas Dangar’s store, where the bushrangers, in addition to their other atrocities added that of murder — having taken what they wanted from Mr. Dangar’s, they were on the point of quitting when a young man named Graham, clerk to Mr. Thomas Dangar, imprudently fired a pistol at one of them, who deliberately shot him on the spot — he survived but twenty minutes. On hearing these particulars Mr. Day’s party proceeded as quickly as possible to Scone; on reaching which Mr. Day proceeded to the Court House, where the Police and two other Magistrates were then sitting, and a number of settlers at the time, both in and about the Court House, who, it were only reasonable, to suppose, were equally interested in the capture of the bushrangers with Mr. Day and those then in pursuit, but strange to say no exertion was made, no notice of the occurrences above-stated forwarded to the surrounding settlers, nor could Mr. Day obtain a horse, although applying for one to the settlers then at Court!

At this time, Mr. E. Warland, Robert Evans, John Teely, the two latter are ticket-of-leave holders, and one of the border police, joined Mr. Day’s party, who now proceeded with the utmost dispatch to Page’s River, distant from Scone about twenty-five miles; on reaching which they ascertained that the bushrangers had been there about three hours before, and robbed Mr. Atkinson’s Inn, as well as Mr. Rundle’s store; the bushrangers did not appear to be in a hurry when at Mr. Atkinson’s, as they stopped to refresh, and made themselves as comfortable as circumstances would permit; they also committed some robberies on the way from Scone to Page’s River. Being now nearly confident of falling in with the bushrangers, Mr. Day’s party halted a few minutes at Page’s River, which became imperative from the party being completely drenched with rain, and the arms, from damp, were obliged to be reloaded and put in order. They were here joined by Dr. Gill, and proceeded over the Liverpool Range to Dough Boy Hollow, distant about six miles from Page’s River; on arriving at which some drays were observed encamped down the creek; the party proceeded towards the drays, and soon after saw some horses, and directly came in view of the bushrangers, it was now six o’clock. Mr. Day and his party dashed on at full gallop, cheering as they went; the bushrangers stood to their arms and took trees. Robert Chitty was first taken; he fired one shot and was not allowed time to reload until secured; Davis and Marshall (the latter the leader of the gang, and the murderer of Mr. Graham) were next secured; Davis fired four shots, in two of which he took deliberate aim at Mr. Day. Marshall fired two shots; Shea and Ruggy ascended a hill overlooking the combat, and from thence fired ten shots. The bushrangers fired in all eighteen shots during the capture, fortunately not one of which took effect. Thus in less than five minutes were five of these seven secured who have so long and so wantonly acted as they thought proper — and had it not been for the prompt and energetic conduct of Mr. Day, seconded so zealously as he was, this gang would still have been roaming through the country carrying on their system of plunder and destruction.

Thc next morning there were sent five men and two black boys in pursuit of the two scoundrels who escaped during the fight, when after having gone about eight miles, they came up with and secured another, named Glanville, he acknowledged to have fired one shot. The number of shots fired by Mr. Day’s party has not been ascertained; Mr. Day wounded Davis in the shoulder; he also has had a ball through his trousers. Shea has been wounded in the calf of the leg. The party who made the capture remained for the night where they had made it, and escorted their prisoners to the lock-up on the 22nd instant; when within thirteen miles of which they met a party forwarded by Mr. Robertson to assist in escorting them, as he considered, no doubt, according to his usual clear way of thinking, that a party who after riding fifty miles in eleven hours, and were able to capture them, would not be able to take care of them. I believe Mr. Day would not sit with him on the bench next day

* * *

Mr. Robertson was unable to commit the bushrangers from the Scone Bench, although the murder was witnessed, and witnesses in attendance to prove it and the robberies; they were however ultimately committed from the Muswell Brook Bench on Thursday. There were found with the bushrangers’ seven horses, nine double barrelled guns and rifles, a great many pistols, several watches, sixty or seven pounds in money, and a great many other articles.

A committee has been appointed to present Mr. Day with a piece of plate on the occasion. Upwards of £100 was subscribed at the Upper Hunter, and a very large sum is expected, as the settlers feel very grateful to Mr. Day for his exertions.

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.

Spotlight: Hunter’s River Bushrangers (1840)

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


The Rubicon is past – and human blood is now shed by one of the most lawless gangs of bushrangers that ever infested the Hunter. Blood, that cries aloud for retribution at the hands of our vacillating government. Blood – yes blood, the first of a long list which it is anticipated, will mark the career of the Hunter’s River bushrangers. My last letter feebly narrated the career of this gang at the Wollombi; of their assault on the late constable McDougall, and the murderous attack on one of Mr. Crawford’s men; of their recontre at the Red House, and other particulars of their misdeeds. This, though not so full of particulars, will be more full of horror. It appears that, on leaving the Wollombi, they were joined by six others, thus making their number ten, when they proceeded to Scone, simultaneously attacking the Inn of Mr. Chivers and the stores of Mr. ‘Thomas Dangar, their approach was however observed by a young man, clerk to Mr Dangar, named Graham, who injudiciously armed himself with a pistol, which he fired at the advancing party, when one of them (Marshall it is thought) levelled his gun and shot him dead at the door of his master’s house, whose property he was defending. Davis, the chief of the robbers, on hearing the report, came forward; he seemed to regret it much, but I will quote his own words, – “I would give £1,000, that this had not happened, but as well a hundred now as one.” We may therefore expect that this one murder mentioned, is the precursor of others, each more sanguinary than the other. The last report we have had of them is at the Page.


Seven desperate bushrangers are infesting this district. They came from Jerry’s Plains via Muswell Brook. They went to Mr Dangar’s farm on Monday morning, and took a fine grey horse and several light articles, such as watches rugs, &c. They then proceeded to Scone – and called at Chivers, who they robbed of about £70, bailed up the people, and broke what fire arms were in the house. While this was being done some of the party went over to Dangar’s stores, one went to the back and another to the front of the house. Mr. Graham, the Clerk took up a piece and fired at the fellow in front but missed him. He then ran away to the constable, but one of the villains shot him dead in in the middle of the road, and thus is another valuable life lost from the lawless state of the country. The marauders then mounted and proceeded towards the Page. Mr. Day has arrived from Muswell Brook with a number of ticket-of-leave men, and is on his way after them. The magistrates have sent a note with the constables for all ticket men to muster, and form as many parties as possible, some are going by the Cedar Bush, the Wybong and Gammon Plains, and from the activity of the arrangements, hopes are entertained of their speedy capture.

Spotlight: Bushranging on the Williams (1840)

Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 – 1842), Thursday 10 December 1840, page 2



The bushrangers who were at Newcastle lately, and more recently at Mr. Pilcher’s farm, on the Hunter, have paid us a visit en passant, and now that they have found themselves in every necessary, have left the district for a bold dash somewhere else. On Sunday night last, the 29th ultimo, between nine and ten o’clock, as Dr. McKinlay with a guide, was proceeding towards Mr. Chapman’s, of the Grange, from Mr. Coar’s, of Wallaringa, where he had been to visit a lady reported as being ill, he and the guide were “bailed up,” and commanded to “bundle back” to Mr. Coar’s again, otherwise they would have their brains blown out. Being unarmed, they, of course, made no resistance. They all proceeded then to Mr. Coar’s, where, to the astonishment of the captured party, the house was in possession of bushrangers, handsomely dressed, and “armed to the teeth.” They demanded the Doctor’s watch and money, but by the intercession of one of Mr. Coar’s men (who was lately a patient) who “begged him off,” everything was returned to him again. The Doctor says he was treated in the most gentlemanly manner by them, and that he never spent a happier night in his life. They insisted on his making himself quite at home, and not to be alarmed, as they did not intend injuring him, and pressed him to eat some eggs, beer, damper and butter. They then cleared a sofa for him to lie on, and covered him up with their great-coats, the pockets of which were stuffed with ball cartridge and buck shot. The Doctor’s guide had his arms tied behind him, and was thrust under the pianoforte, sans ceremonie, the chief telling him that if he either broke the paddle or fell asleep, he would blow his brains out. Here they were detained prisoners until morning, and then were marched off towards Mr. Chapman’s. Their attire was rather gaudy, as they wore broad-rimmed Manilla hats, turned up in front with abundance of broad pink ribbons, satin neck-cloths, splendid brooches, all of them had rings and watches. One of them (a Jew I believe) wore five rings. The bridles of their horses were also decorated with a profusion of pink ribbons. The leader was formerly an assigned servant of Edward Sparke, Esq., of the Upper Hunter, and another (named Shea) was lately an assigned servant of Mr Coar, the third, I believe, was a Jew named Davis, a very wary, determined fellow.

They “bailed up” Mr. Chapman and his men in the back yard, and searched the house, but took nothing of consequence save two saddles, saddle bags, bridles, brandy, tea, sugar, buck-shot, &c., they then caught two mares of Mr. Chapman’s, when Robert Chitty (one of Mr. C.’s men) joined them, and after having breakfast galloped off. They neither used violence nor uncivil language, and on leaving promised to return Mr. Chapman’s mares as soon as possible, and I am happy to say they have kept their word. Immediately after this, they met a man of Mr. Lord returning from Morpeth, leading back to Underbank his master’s horse, which they took from him, as also 11s. They cut open a carpet bag which he had, then gave him a kick on the ribs and dismissed him. They then met a Mr. Morrison, from the Namoi, proceeding towards the Paterson, from whom they took the horse he rode. They then proceeded towards Mr. Walker’s, of Brockfield, from whom they took about £37 in money and refreshments. The Rev. Mr Comrie was there at the time, from whom they took a mare, which had been kindly lent him by D. F. Mackay, Esq, of Melbee. I understand they have left this mare on the road, not very far off. They next directed their course to the station of Timothy Nowlan, Esq., on whom it would appear they had a great “down,” for they fixed a saddle on his back, flogged him, took £5, a horse, and a gold watch from him. They then galloped off to the residence of a small settler, “bailed up” all in the house, and insisted on having their horses shod, the man of the house being by profession a smith, but having neither nails nor cash, they met with a double disappointment. Back they came to Walker’s again, had some refreshments, and the Dungog postman chancing to pass through in that direction at the time, was “bailed up.” They cut open the Sydney bag but touched nothing, took £3 from the postman, and his watch, the latter of which they however returned him. They then made for the Paterson, and in the afternoon robbed Mr. Jones (Settlers’ Arms), of about £30. They then crossed the river, and have not since been heard of, but as one of the horses which they took from this has been seen near to Black Creek, it is probable that that is the route they have taken. They promised to visit Dungog, but it is fortunate for them they did not come, as the “city was in arms,” and would have given them a much warmer reception than they calculated upon. Had we only a batch of the Mounted Police stationed here, it would have been quite impossible for these marauders to have escaped, and from the frequency of these depredations it is now high time that a detachment of Mounted Police be permanently resident here, which is the only sure method of eradicating recurrences of this nature, and securing to the settlers of the district that peace and quiet, both of body and mind, which they have a good right to expect, and which it ought to be the study of Her Majesty’s representatives, as far as in them lies to cherish and promote. On Tuesday last, the 1st instant, another posse of these freebooters made an attack on the establishment of John Lord, Esq., at Underbank (sixteen miles above Dungog), “bailed up” all the servants, Mrs. Lord, and Mr. Craig, and after carrying away all the ammunition and fire-arms they could lay their hands upon, together with tea, sugar, flour, butter &c., besides £8 or £10 in cash, and a horse, they left at about half past four in the afternoon, after dining comfortably, and pursued their course over the mountains in the direction of the Paterson, and have not since been heard of. There is a party out in pursuit of them at present, but I fear their search will be unavailing.

Spotlight: Thunderbolt’s Popgun; Jewboy’s Shooter

Cessnock Eagle and South Maitland Recorder (NSW : 1913 – 1954), Thursday 24 December 1925, page 9




A very fine collection of firearms and other relics of the bushranglng and pioneering days has been got together by ex-Councillor Scott, of Cessnock. The collection consists of upwards of one hundred pieces, just a few of which are illustrated and described in the notes herewith. The collection is rich in military arms, by which the evolution of the British Service Rifle can be traced through the period of three centuries. A description of these will form the subject of another paper. —Editor.

“The Eagle” of 18/12/1925 contains an interesting article on certain phases of the Bad Old Days, from the pen of Mr. R. McNamara, of Mount View. Incidentally, he invites me to tell the story of my acquisition of Thunderbolt’s popgun. Also, of other relics. Very well. Listen!

No. 1.

No. 1 — The first weapon in the picture is a flint lock horse-pistol of English manufacture. Single barrel; smooth bore; 16 calibre. Length of barrel, 9½ inches; length over all, 20 inches, weight 4lbs. The principle of the weapon is this: The charge of coarse powder is rammed home (as in ordinary muzzle loading guns; then the wad (generally paper): next the bullet (just about the size of a bottle-oh” marble: and lastly the second wad or paper. That is the “loading” operation. To “prime” the weapon (to prepare it for firing), a small quantity of finer powder is placed in the “pan,” to connect through a vent or touch-hole in the breech with the powder-charge within the barrel. The “anvil” — the piece projecting in front of the hammer — is then closed over the pan. The hammer is a vyce, gripping a piece of flint. When the trigger is pressed this flint is forced into contact with the anvil, which it causes to rise upon a spring, exposing the “priming” — the fine powder. Simultaneously a shower of sparks is emitted from the flint in its semi-circular frictional contact with the anvil. These sparks ignite the priming, which in turn (bar accidents) ignites the charge. It sometimes happens that the ignited priming fails to connect through the vent. (Hence our saying — “A flash in the pan” — a harmless fiasco. Similarly, another saying, “Keep your powder dry” — has its origin in the flint-lock. And who has not heard of one person “priming” another?) In the event of a mis-fire, the weapon could be used as a club; and for this purpose the stock is heavily bound in brass. The flint-lock pistol dates from 1776.

No. 2.

No. 2. — The second weapon illustrated is a percussion-lock horse-pistol of Danish manufacture; Single-barrel. Smooth-bore; 18 calibre. Length of barrel, 9 inches; length overall, 19 inches; weight 3lbs. The butt is steel-shod, so that the weapon, upon mis-firing, or after discharge, may be reversed and used as a club. The bullet-mould (bottom left of picture) accompanies this weapon. The calibre is inscribed in Roman numerals (XVIII). The percussion principle (nipple and cap) dates from 1830.


No. 3.

No. 3. — The third arm is a six-chambered muzzle-loading revolver, of English manufacture (Joseph Bourke: London and Birmingham). The calibre is equivalent to that known in modern arms as ‘point-four-five’ (.45 of an inch diameter). The bore of the barrel, is rifled in thirteen grooves — an unlucky number for the man in front! Length of barrel, 7½ inches; of chambers, 15 inches; length over all, 17 inches; weight, 31bs. The weapon is hammerless, and the whole of it is highly engraved. A silver shield is fitted to the stock — intended for the owner’s initials or crest; amid a neat cavity in the butt, with spring trapdoor, is provided for holding the caps. Each of the six chambers bears the proof mark of the British Government. Made in 1865, it was evidently the last word in revolver construction in those far-off days.

No. 4.

No. 4. — This is a six-chambered pinfire revolver — the earliest type of breech-loader. The pin-fire principle dates from 1847. The specimen illustrated is of later date. It is of Belgian manufacture, bearing on the various parts the proof-marks of the Belgian Government (E.L. over G. In the circle) The calibre is 9 millimetres — the equivalent of the English and American “point-three-eight” (.38 in. diameter). Length of barrel, 6 inches; of chambers, 1¾ inches; length over all, 18 inches; weight 1½lbs. A close scrutiny of the illustration will show that the hammer has no projection — or striker. This is accounted for by the fact that ignition is secured by a “pin” or striker being fitted into the base of the cartridges. In action, this pin protrudes through a slot in the side of the chamber, projecting at right angles to the plane thereof. Modern revolver ammunition is convenient and safe, but the handling of the pin-fire variety in vogue in the days of our grandfathers was playing with sudden death. The various weapons depicted and described in detail herewith have come into my possession at different times and under different circumstances. No. 1 (the flint-lock horse-pistol) was carried by the bushranger, Patrick Bruen during his escapades in and around Cessnock in February, 1843. Bruen was an escaped Wollombi convict, the story of whose shooting and capture by Crawford’s party, in Black Creek, Cessnock, on February 14, 1843, was recounted in detail in this journal by the present writer some time ago.


Bullet mould and handcuffs.

No. 2 (the percussion-lock horse pistol) was part of the equipment of the ‘Jew Boy’ Gang (Edward Davis and others). Those familiar with the story of the capture of this gang by a mixed party of soldiers and civilians headed by Captain Edward Denny Day, Maitland’s celebrated police magistrate, at Doughboy Hollow (now Ardglen), on the eve of Christmas, 1840, will remember that two of the gang were surprised at the campfire, engaged in moulding bullets for future use. One of the bullet-moulds is illustrated. Both of the horse pistols were presented to me by descendants of men intimately associated with the capture of the respective desperadoes. No. 3 (the muzzle-loading sixshooter) is a relic of “Thunderbolt.” At the time of the last exploit of this bushranger, in May, 1870, the well known telegraph contractor, John Doyle, J.P., of Cessnock, was engaged on a telegraph contract near Uralla. His camp cook (one John Lynch) was an eye-witness of part of the ride for life. At one stage of the journey something fell to the roadway from the flying horseman. Lynch picked it up, took it to his tent, and said nothing. In due course the body of Frederick Ward was identified at an inquest held at Uralla before Mr. Coroner Buchanan, J.P., when a verdict of justifiable homicide was returned. Lynch still said nothing, and kept on saying it until the completion of the telegraph contract. Then, before going on the wallaby, he intimated to his late “boss” that he was not desirous of being a travelling representative for ironmongery, and, producing the murderous looking weapon, with holster complete, and loaded and capped, explained how he had come by it. An inspection of the holster (which had the “flap” removed, and the revolver butt projecting so as to be readily gripped upon emergency) shows that the stitching of the “keeper” — the strap which the belt passes through — had given out, thus allowing the three-pound weight to fall. When one remembers that Ward’s revolver, with which the duel with Constable Walker was fought, was subsequently found in the waters of Kentucky Creek, with one chamber null charged and the cap, bearing the impress of the hammer, indicating a mis-fire, one realises that but for the merest accident the story of Thunderbolt might have had to be told in very different terms. Lynch told his late employer that he had better take the fire-arm and when going on his way his pocket held something of more use to him than a “squirt” — a photo of the Queen, minted in gold. Forty-five years later (In November, 1916) this interesting trophy of the bad old days was passed on to me by Mr. Doyle after he had made an inspection of my collection of ancient arms, which, during the Great War, I had on exhibition for patriotic purposes.


Respecting No. 4 (the pin-fire revolver): If this weapon could speak, it could probably tell a story worth listening to. Its history is unknown, beyond this: that in 1900, with an old pair of handcuffs, it was found by a schoolboy in a cavity under a large log in McGrane’s paddock, Cessnock, just about where Mr Walter Phee, J.P, of Love Street lives to-day. The relic bears no marks indicating Government ownership, (police weapons are broad arrow-branded, and engraved, “New Stouth Wales Police”), thus discounting the theory that some bold, bad man (say “Yellow Billy”) had been “having a lark” with ”the law.” The schoolboy of 1900— now Mr Thomas Frederick Higgins, J.P., of Newcastle — held his “find” for 16 years, when he presented it to my collection.

Ten Bushrangers Who Deserve Their Own Movie

With multiple film productions about Ned Kelly underway, it’s clear that bushrangers are becoming a popular topic once more. However, there are many bushrangers who deserve their own films as well and here are some of the great stories waiting to be brought to life. Some have been brought to the screen before in silent films that have since vanished, some were slated to be filmed but the projects never got off the ground and some just had bad outings in the past.

10. William Westwood: Few stories in bushranging are equal parts adventurous and tragic. William Westwood fills this to a tee. Westwood arrived in Australia as a teenage convict and soon became a highwayman, many oral traditions painted him as a gallant bandit who was courteous to women and more prone to larking about than committing robberies, his horsemanship considered second to none. However, the brutality of the penal system saw him lead a riot on Norfolk Island during which he murdered three men in cold blood. A film exploring just what causes a man not known to be violent to snap and commit a triple homicide would be gripping viewing and a tale that to date has never graced the screen.
Potential Casting: Tom Hughes (Victoria)


9. Teddy the Jewboy: Edward Davis aka Teddy the Jewboy was Australia’s only known Jewish bushranger. Starting out as a street kid in London, he was transported for a failed shoplifting and absconded from Hyde Park Barracks to become a bushranger. Thanks to his father’s connections he soon joined a gang of bushrangers and rapidly climbed the ranks to become their leader. This diminutive, heavily tattooed Jew with a penchant for pink ribbons began a campaign to punish the cruel superintendents who brutalised the convicts assigned to them – but never on a Saturday, according to the legends, as that was the Sabbath. No doubt a colourful character such as this would make for exciting viewing as well as highlight the cultural diversity present in Australia in the 1800s, even if it is within the criminal fraternity.
Potential Casting: Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter)


8. Dan Morgan: Morgan has been brought to life on screen twice already, the first time in a silent film that has since disappeared and the second in 1975’s Mad Dog Morgan starring Dennis Hopper. Why, then, does Morgan deserve his own film when so many bushrangers haven’t had even one film? In short the true story of Morgan is yet to be shown on screen. Mad Dog Morgan took frequent and somewhat bizarre liberties with the facts despite using Margaret Carnegie’s Morgan the Bold Bushranger as a source. Examples of the weird liberties taken in the ’75 film include: Dennis Hopper’s Irish accent; making John Wendlan and Sergeant Smyth recurring villains; turning Success from a prison hulk into a fortress prison; the inclusion of Billy, an Aboriginal bushranger; removing Morgan’s moustache to make him look more like Abraham Lincoln and references to the Tasmanian Tiger as an “extinct animal” despite the last Tasmanian Tiger dying in captivity in 71 years later. The true story of Morgan would make for an incredible Gothic Western or psychological drama with the gaps in the history making room for some artistic license to explain what made Morgan the man he was.
Potential Casting: Sam Parsonson (Gallipoli, Coffin Rock)

7. Jessie Hickman: Elizabeth McIntyre aka Jessie Hickman was commonly known as the “Lady Bushranger” in the Blue Mountains district. A former circus trick rider and champion rough rider, Hickman found herself in a life of crime, stealing cattle from the neighbouring farmers and hiding out with her gang of young men in her headquarters in the Nullo Mountain. Hickman was an amazing rider and master of disguise, she was a wild child who would rather give up her family than leave the bush. Hickman’s story is the subject of an in-development film entitled Lady Bushranger, so here’s hoping that production grows some legs so it can get up and running.
Potential Casting: Teresa Palmer (Hacksaw Ridge)


6. Matthew Brady: He may not be a household name now but at one time Matthew Brady was the bushranger’s bushranger. Transported to Van Diemans Land in the early days of the colony, he and nine other convicts stole a boat and rowed from Sarah Island to Hobart where they took to the bush and set the bar for all bushrangers that came after. They robbed travellers and farms but Brady also enjoyed grander gestures such as breaking into the prison at Sorell and releasing the inmates then locking up the redcoats who had been hunting him. His chivalry towards women was famous and in his condemned cell he received letters and gifts from dozens of female admirers. Brady’s life was full of adventure and drama – perfect for a big screen experience.
Potential Casting: Thomas Cocquerel (In Like Flynn, Red Dog: True Blue)

5. Martin Cash: Perhaps the best candidate for Tasmania’s patron bushranger is Martin Cash who is most famous for his memoirs, which were published in the 1870s. An Irish convict, he started fresh in New South Wales before a stock theft charge saw him flee to Van Diemans Land with his lover. After escaping from Port Arthur twice, he led the band of bushrangers known as Cash and Co. Cash is another character whose doomed romance forms a vital part of the narrative, his passion leading him to a long stint at Norfolk Island. Cash was handsome, cheeky, passionate and wild and with a good supporting cast to pad out the story it could very well be one for the ages.
Potential Casting: Paul Mescal (God’s Creatures, Carmen)

4. Harry Power: Harry Power was Victoria’s greatest highwayman, gaining a price on his head of £500 at the peak of his career. Best remembered as Ned Kelly’s tutor in crime, to date he has only been seen on screen as a bit part in The Last Outlaw played by Gerard Kennedy and will be seen again in the adaptation of True History of the Kelly Gang portrayed by Russell Crowe. Power, however, was an intriguing character in his own right with robberies, chases, romance and prison escapes all part and parcel of the highwayman’s tale. While his association with Ned Kelly is what most people know him for, that association only lasted a couple of months leaving so much more of the story untouched and ripe or the picking.
Potential Casting: Philip Quast (Hacksaw Ridge, The Brides of Christ, Picnic at Hanging Rock)

3. The Clarke Gang: Of all the bushranging gangs that held Australia in a state of tension and fear, few can truly compare to the Clarke Gang who roamed New South Wales in the mid 1860s. Stock theft, robbery, raids and murder are plentiful in the story of their brief and violent reign of terror that concluded on the gallows of Darlinghurst Gaol. To date this incredible story has never been brought to screen and perhaps is far too epic to contain in one standalone film, lending itself better to a mini-series given how numerous the depredations of the gang were. The Clarke story is one of family, lawlessness and the dark side of human nature.
Potential Casting: Hugh Sheridan (Packed to the Rafters, Boar)

2. Frank Gardiner: Few bushrangers earned their place in the pantheon of bushranging like Francis Christie aka Frank Gardiner. Gardiner introduced many of the greatest bushrangers to the game including Johnny Gilbert, John O’Meally and Ben Hall. Gardiner’s greatest claim to fame was the robbery of the gold escort at Eugowra Rocks which was one of the largest gold heists in history. Gardiner’s ill-fated romance with Kitty Brown (Ben Hall’s sister in law) makes for brilliant drama and no doubt the mix of romance, action and sexy outlaws on horses would be a great combination. A film version of Gardiner’s career titled The Legend of Frank Gardiner by Matthew Holmes, the man behind The Legend of Ben Hall, has been in development for a time and would be a fantastic opportunity to bring this fascinating story to life.
Potential Casting: Luke Arnold (Black Sails, INXS: Never Year Us Apart)


1. Captain Moonlite: Few bushranger stories have the potential to tug the heart-strings like that of Andrew George Scott aka Captain Moonlite. The tale of a well-educated pastor’s fall from grace into infamy is gripping, full of drama, humour and the highest profile LGBTI+ romance in bushranger history. From his romances in Bacchus Marsh and his alleged robbery of the bank in Mount Egerton with subsequent playboy lifestyle in Sydney to his grueling prison sentence in Pentridge full of misadventure and the desperation that led him to Wantabadgery Station, Scott’s story would captivate audiences. Throw in his love affair with fellow bushranger James Nesbitt and you have a scandalous and topical tale of forbidden love to boot. A Moonlite film by Rohan Spong went into production several years ago but was never publicly released, so as we reach the 140th anniversary of his hanging it would be nice to see him get some love.
Ideal cast: Dan Stevens (Beauty and the Beast, Legion, Downton Abbey)


Honourable mentions:

There are far too many bushranger stories to bring to life as standalone films, which makes a list of ten extremely difficult to choose. Here are some of the bushrangers who almost made the cut.

* Captain Thunderbolt and Mary Ann Bugg: The story of Frederick Wordsworth Ward and his family is perfect for a film. A loveable rogue with his tough and resourceful wife who frequently sacrificed her own freedom for his. It’s a love story and a tragedy.

* Captain Melville: The gentleman bushranger Captain Melville is one of Victoria’s most Infamous. From being a convict to a notorious brigand to getting busted in a brothel and beyond Melville is a colourful character who will keep audiences entertained.

* The Kenniff brothers: The tragic tale of Queensland’s most infamous bushranging family would make for a brilliant and gripping film. A movie that portrays the intense legal drama that unfolded at the turn of the century to prove that Paddy and Jim Kenniff murdered Albert Dahlke and Constable Doyle then incinerated the remains while trying to recreate what really happened would be incredibly moving and memorable.

* The Ribbon Gang: The uprising known as the Bathurst Rebellion led by Ralph Entwistle is epic and dramatic. Kicked off after Entwistle was unfairly punished for skinny dipping, it became one of the most incredible outbreaks of bushranging in history with Entwistle’s gang rumoured to have exceeded 100 men all raiding, pillaging and murdering in the district before a series of battles with the military saw the bushrangers vanquished, ten bushrangers meeting their end on the scaffold.

* The Gilbert-Hall Gang: The last days of the Hall gang were portrayed in the award-winning The Legend of Ben Hall, but aside from a long forgotten TV series from 1975 and several missing silent films, the glory days of the gang have not been committed to film – and none ever portrayed accurately. Hall and Gilbert with John O’Meally, John Vane and Mickey Burke were once the most formidable bandits in Australia, bailing up Canowindra and Bathurst multiple times and committing countless highway robberies. Few bushranging tales can compete with this one for sheer adventure, drama and tragedy.

* Henry Maple: The story of Henry Maple, the boy bushranger, would make for a tragic and spellbinding story. A taut and suspenseful film could track the brief, wild period that Maple struck terror into rural Victoria in the 1920s with his sidekick Rob Banks, culminating his fatal standoff against an armed posse in the bush. Unlike other bushranger stories it would have the unique aspect of modern technology such as automobiles and the startling youth of the lead character to make for a bushranger film unlike any other.

Spotlight: Bushranger Yarn

The following article, published 21 November 1920, talks about an upcoming book release about Australia’s colonial days. Specifically it refers to the oral legends about Teddy the Jewboy and how they formed the basis of a novel called Castle Vane. If you are interested in reading the book you can access it free online here.
Bushranger Yarn
In his new book about pioneer life in the early days, Mr. Jack Abbott has got back to his old style and quality. The story is admirably told, and the interest is consistently sustained. Further, the novelist keeps reasonably close to the facts of history, and draws a picture that is obviously true to the life of the period he loves so well. Incidentally, he disposes once again of the Jewboy, and sees him satisfactorily hanged at the close of the last chapter. That is a- good thing. The tongue of calumny has often been busy with the Jewboy, to the great annoyance of many reputable living people named Davis. It has been roundly asserted that the Jewboy settled in a convict colony and founded a sort of first
family. All sorts of silly yarns have been put about. It is well, then, that the heartening truth should once again shine forth. The truth is that the Jewboy ended his life at the end of a rope while he was yet quite young, and that he left no progeny to pollute Australian earth. This will go on the shelf reserved for the good Australian novels that are of permanent value. Mr. Abbott works at times a trifle casually and at times he tires of
his characters before he can decently be done with them; but in this story nothing is cramped, and there are no traces of fatigue. The book is of especial interest to all folks who live in the fat lands alone the Hunter, where the Jewboy once roared and ravaged.
Castle Vane : A Romance of Bushranging on the Upper Hunter in the Olden Days, by J. H. M. Abbott. Australia, Angus and Robertson, 1920.
“Bushranger Yarn” Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 – 1930) 21 November 1920: 25.