Spotlight: Ben Hall and his gang (26/08/1864)

Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), Friday 26 August 1864, page 7


The Burrangong Star of the 13th says :— For the last three weeks Sir Frederick Pottinger and a party, consisting of two troopers and a black tracker, have been paying particular attention to the movements of Hall’s gang, and on Sunday evening, after a hunt from the Lachlan to Cowra, and a most industrious scour of the bush between this place and Forbes, they had the good fortune to come on the bushranger’s camp, at a place in the bush, about six — seven miles from the Seventeen Mile Rush, and a short distance from Pring’s station. The bushrangers had their tent fixed, and were standing close to their horses when the troopers came up; and on seeing the latter they immediately rode off. Sir Frederick, however, managed to secure a pack-horse, and the tent, rugs, &c., belonging to the party. The Young Tribune, of same date, reports that between six and seven o’clock the following night (Monday), Mr. F. Chisholm, of the Groggan station, on the Levels, while sitting comfortably at his own fireside, heard the report of firearms outside, and immediately went to ascertain the cause. He was met by some of the men on the station, who questioned him as to whether he had fired off a pistol or not, and he replied that that was just the question he was going to put to them. At that juncture Ben Hall and his two mates an elderly man and a young one — made their appearance. They immediately cried out to Mr. Chisholm to bail up, and that gentleman at once recognising the voice, said “Is that you, Ben?” and was answered in the affirmative. He then expressed his fears that the bushrangers would tie him up, but Ben Hall remarked that there were plenty of them this time, and that there was no necessity for resorting to harsh measures. The last time, he said, that he was there he was afraid of being doublebanked, and that was the reason for his taking such a precautionary step. The highwaymen then went into the house and to the blazing fire. The elderly brigand took Mr. Chisholm on one side, and told him that the object of their visit that night was on account of Johnny Doyle, who was recognised a short time since in Murphy and Son’s store, as having on a pair of breeches which were taken by Ben Hall from Mr. Chisholm during one of his raids on that gentleman’s properly. They keenly interrogated Mr. Chisholm as to the evidence he had given in the case, and particularly alluded to one item of his statement, as it appeared in the local papers, which Mr. Chisholm designated a lie. The elderly man said he could easily understand that, for the papers had told lies about them, for which there was not an iota of foundation. In the course of conversation Hall asked Mr. Chisholm if he had no more money on the premises than 20s, and whether he had not got some grog for them. He inquired where Coronation was — a first-class racehorse Mr. Chisholm had purchased a long while back from Mr J. J. Roberts — as they wanted him. Ben Hall then asked if there was not some arsenic on the premises, and wanted to know what it was for, as there was £1000 on his (Ben Hall’s) head, and it might be for him. Mr. Chisholm remarked that it was for killing native dogs. The freebooter then said he had heard that Patsy O’Meally had joined the mounted police, and inquired from Mr. Chisholm if it were true, to which he answered that he was not aware. Mr. Chisholm then asked Hall for a revolver he had taken away from him on a previous visit. The latter said he would have been welcome to it only it had gone where he was very near going himself — in the Lachlan River. The rascals then ordered tea, and kept a man cooking for them nearly all night. They appeared ravenously hungry, as though they had been very hard pushed by the police. During tea — everything of which he compelled Mr Chisholm to taste — Hall mentioned where Troubadour and a horse belonging to Mr. Chisholm’s brother, which they took away on a former visit, could be found, stating that the former horse had been ridden to death by the police down the country, and it had given him a sore back, but he (Ben Hall) had ordered him to be given up to his owner. They then told Mr. Chisholm he had better go to bed, while they indulged in a little recreation in the shape of music, but he graciously declined the mandate. After a little while, two of them retired to sleep, while one kept watch and ward. About seven in the morning, they prepared to evacuate the place, taking with them three fresh horses belonging to Mr. Chisholm, and everything in the shape of wearing apparel, even to Mr C.’s collars. A little after seven, the Groggan Station was freed from its unwelcome visitors. The black boy on the station planted himself during the stay of the bushrangers for fear they might molest him.

Spotlight: Local & General Intelligence, Tumut and Adelong (11 May 1865)

Tumut and Adelong Times (NSW : 1864 – 1867; 1899 – 1950), Thursday 11 May 1865, page 2

Local & General Intelligence

The Araluen Escort Robbery. — Daniel Ryan, of Murrumburrah, lately arrested at that place, by Mr. Bray’s volunteer party, on a charge of being concerned with Ben Hall’s gang, in the attack on the Araluen escort, and who was remanded to Braidwood for identification, has being identified as being with the party on the Araluen mountain, and also when they stuck up Boyd’s store, at Tarago. — Goulburn Argus.

Expensive Gents. — The Yass Courier calculates that, during four years, it has cost the colony £200,000 to hunt Hall, Gilbert, and Dunn, in which all the efforts of the police have been ineffectual.

Captain Thunderbolt and his Gang. — The Tamworth Examiner says : — After various petty robberies this gang were surprised by the police whilst in possession of Mr. Walford’s inn at Millie. The police had been tracking them for four days, and reached Mr. Walford’s about an hour after the bushrangers had arrived there. The situation of this house is on an open plain, without a tree for miles in any direction. The bushrangers, four in number, were at the house, at the time, one being outside on guard, and on the latter seeing four men galloping across the plain to the house, a whistle was given to those inside, and all four came out to see who it might be. On learning that it was the police, they all mounted their horses, one of them holding up his revolver as a challenge to the police to come on, at the same time retreating from the house to the open plain at the rear. They had all drawn their revolvers, but the police, nothing daunted, gave chase, and came within firing distance a short way from the house. Tunderbolt fired the first shot, to which the police replied, at the same time endeavours were made to cut off the young lad from the rest of the gang, who seemed not to be so well mounted as the others, Firing was continued on both sides with great vigour, when a well directed ball from the revolver of constable Dalton, took effect on the young lad, entered the back and came out near the stomach. He fell from his horse, and Dalton shouted to constable Norris to take charge of him, while he went after the others. On leaving with that intention, he fortunately turned round and saw the young vagabond, while on the ground, presenting his revolver at him. He threw himself on his horse’s neck, and the ball luckily passed over him. Constable Norris came up at this moment, and again fired at the ruffian, the ball taking effect, having entered the jaw and escaped at the back of the neck. During the whole of the time constable Lynch was keeping the other three bushrangers at bay, and succeeded in doing so, notwithstanding that Ward, who was mounted on a fine chesnut horse, several times rode between the police and the youth, constantly discharging his revolver at the same time, in order to give his mate time to escape. He was, however, unsuccessful. About forty shots were fired by the police, and their ammunition was nearly all expended. After securing the youth, they proceeded a short distance after the others, but their horses were completely knocked up, having ridden them fully five hundred miles. The fight is described by eye witnesses as an exceedingly plucky affair, and highly creditable to the police engaged. The encounter lasted altogether about an hour, and the balls from the several revolvers flew about in all directions, one passing through the whiskers of one of the police, but not injuring him. The youth who was shot was at once taken to the inn, and a doctor sent for to Moree; but he is in a very weak state, and it is doubtful if he will recover. The head of the gang, who goes under the name of ‘Thunderbolt,’ is named Ward, and has been engaged in several robberies. He was at one time employed in breaking in horses at the Tareela station. The second is supposed to be a man named McIntosh, and is said to be a brother of McIntosh who was mixed up with Picton in a cattle stealing case some years ago. The bushranger who is shot is named John Thomson, a youth about sixteen years of age, and is described as a very dangerous vagabond. He had frequently expressed a wish to join the bushrangers. The fourth man is known by the name of ‘Bull’ or ‘Bully.’ Thomson and Ward are well acquainted with the part of the country on which they have been recently committing their depredations, and the former with his companions will doubtless make for his old haunts on the head of some of the creeks running into the Barwin, near Walgott. [Thomson has since died.]

Attempt on Wendlan’s Life. — Almost as might have been expected, the life of Wendlan, who shot Morgan, has become endangered through the spirit of revenge on the part of some of the scoundrel’s accomplices. A fellow named Thomas Maslen has been brought before the Bench at Wahgunyah, charged with threatening to avenge Morgan’s death by shooting Wendlan. He was found with arms, powder, balls, caps, and a bottle of strychnine. On Wednesday, Sergeant Hayes stated to the Bench that Maslen could be identified as an accomplice of Morgan, and the prisoner was remanded for a week. — Albury Banner.

A Good Chase and Capture. — The police in this colony have been so unfortunate in their attempts to capture the more notorious bushrangers, that the notion has become general that they are unequal to their duties. But such conclusion is very erroneous, as may be easily seen by reference to the list of captures recently made. The latest successful chase we hear of occurred at Uralla in the North. A man with blackened face robbed a shepherd’s hut, taking from him his only half-crown and everything else of value, and not for three days could information be conveyed to the police. There, however, two troopers started, and after riding 350 miles in five days, succeeded in surprising the robber with his mate in camp, and both of them were lodged safely in limbo. — Pastoral Times.

Morgan’s Legacies. — The Pastoral Times hears that Mr. Commissioner Lockhart is engaged in the district around Albury in trying to clear the country of the wretched villains who aided and abetted the recently slain murderer. Little mercy should be shown to those who, residing on Crown Lands illegally, gave shelter and food to Morgan while he went forth to rob and kill. It is to be hoped that the other Commissioners of Crown Lands in the Wellington districts, and the country where Messrs. Hall, Gilbert, and Co. carry on their avocations, will see that the powers invested in them are used to rid their districts of the aiders and abettors in these crimes.

Spotlight: Gilbert, Hall, and Dunn’s Raid on the Nubriggan (2 May 1865)

Clarence and Richmond Examiner and New England Advertiser (Grafton, NSW : 1859 – 1889), Tuesday 2 May 1865, page 3


A correspondent of the Western Examiner reports that on the evening of Sunday, as Mr. Brazier, land lord of the Nubriggan Inn, with some other gentlemen, were enjoying their pipes, four horsemen well mounted, three of them with every appearance of wealthy gentlemen, dashed up to the door. The stoutest immediately dismounted, entered the inn, and walking up to Mr. Brazier, ordered him to turn out his pockets, Mr. Brazier thinking it was making rather free, asked him sternly what he meant, and ordered him behind the bar, but the sight of a revolver in hand and a number round his waist caused him to unbend his brows, and submit with as good a grace as possible. Gilbert turned the pockets of Mr. Brazier inside out, and threw the few shillings they contained on the counter, and demanded to know where he kept his cash. He was told generally in the pockets of his pants. In the meantime Gilbert and Dunn placed all the men, women, and children that were about the house in one room, locking every door. Dunn went over to Mr. Peter’s house, and the house of Mr. Cousin’s shepherd, bringing all the inmates, and turning them in with the rest. Mr. G. West had just arrived from Wellington, and was putting his horse in the stables, when Gilbert walked in and asked if he was the groom. Not giving a satisfactory reply, Mr. West was immediately requested to walk into the parlour. The fourth party had his face masked and muffled, and walked as sentry on the outside of the house, nor did he once come in or allow his face to be seen during the night, he was armed with a revolving rifle and a revolver. All were now in the room, and Gilbert said he would be under the painful necessity of finding the cash.

He looked, over some drawers and disturbed the things in them very slightly. He then opened a little workbox, and taking out a parcel he said, “Ah, here is what I want “. On opening it there were six pounds in silver, some half-sovereigns and notes to the value of about 14 pounds. He was proceeding to examine the other boxes, when Mrs. Brazier told him they contained nothing but receipts and letters.

He immediately desisted, and said he would take her word for it. He then turned to the men in the room and said, “Now, my lads, I’m going to shout, but I wish to say a few words to you. Generally when we go to a public-house we are in the habit of making ourselves agreeable but those we meet with, after they get liquor in, get Dutch courage, and talk about mobbing us. Now if we hear anything of that kind, somebody is apt to get hurt, and I don’t think it will be us. And another thing, I will not allow any swearing, blackguard language, or obscene songs, before the females, and now, as we understand each other, let us liquor.” So the drink was called in fast and furious, before one round was drank another was called on. Dunn wanted, music and a dance, having found an accordion. Mr. Brazier objected on account of its being Sunday. In a short time, twelve o’clock struck. “Now” said Gilbert, “it’s Monday morning let’s have a dance.” A gentleman named Mr. Charles Gardiner was compelled to exert his talents in the music line, and the bushrangers had such a persuasive way with them, between brandy and bullets they soon had nearly all hands dancing. The dance and song went round, Gilbert and Dunn taking the principal parts, Hall remaining as a spectator, and the ranger incog still continuing to guard outside. Two of the parties confined had words and peeled to decide it with fists, but Gilbert instantly interfered, and threatened to tie up anyone who attempted to interrupt the harmony of the evening. In vinum Caillai veritas began to show itself. One gentlemen was silenced in a peremptory manner. In the midst of the hilarity they never for a moment relaxed their vigilance. Any person leaving the room for a moment was missed and brought back, and the sentinel at the door drove back with his rifle any person showing his head. Mr. Thomas Stephens, a contractor, spoke seriously to Gilbert on his course of life, pointing out to him not only the sinfulness, but the certain end sooner or later. After talking in a religious strain to him some time longer, Mr. Stephens said, “You have never had Morgan with you.” “No” said Gilbert, “we would not allow such a blood-thirsty wretch to have remained with us, we would have shot him long since.” The bushrangers paid for all the liquor they called for, also tea, sugar, tobacco, &c. They handed back a cheque for a pound which they had taken from Mr. Brazier and told him not to take pay out of that, handing him a note at the same time. Hall asked Brazier if he had a horse called Brandy P and was answered in the affirmative. He said we must have it, but that Brazier would get it back. They “shouted” back nearly all the money they took, and at daybreak, mounted their horses and started towards Shepherd’s Creek. They tried hard before leaving, to persuade Mr. Stephens to accompany them as chaplain, but he found his exortations were of no avail, so declined having anything to do with them. They threatened vengeance if anyone they left before two hours. They have stuck up Mookernwo and Junction and are hourly expected at the Barks.


Sydney Morning Herald’s correspondent says :–

This young man gave himself up to the Hon. Father McGuinn, on Sunday last, and is now in the look-up, under remand. He is a cousin of Mick Burke, who was shot by Mr. Keightley, and has been several times in gaol; He is suspected to be one of the party that lately took Mr. Burton’s racehorses.

With reference to the above the correspondent of the Bathurst Times says :–

I have great pleasure in informing your readers that this young desperado, who, in company with two others, has latterly been levying black mail in the Carcoar district was delivered up to the authorities on Tuesday, by the Rev. D. McGuinn. The following particulars respecting the surrender may be relied upon: Father McGuinn, it appears, had occasion to visit the Tuena gold-fields last week, and being informed that Burke and party had been in that quarter, he used every effort to come in contact with them, and persuade them to desist from the lawless career they were entering upon. He met young Burke on the Abercrombie Mountains, and, after vividly painting with true Christian earnestness the guilt and horror of a highwayman’s life, succeeded in prevailing on him to surrender, and throw himself on the mercy of the law. He then accompanied the rev. gentleman to the Long Swamp, where they remained for the night; and next day (Tuesday last) proceeded on to Carcoar, when the unfortunate – or perliaps fortunate – youth was formally handed over to the care of the ofllcer of police here, Mr. Sub-Inspector Roberts. It will be recollected, that this is the second bushranger whom Father McGuinn has, by his intermediation, induced to desist from his evil course, having given up Dunleavy some few months ago to Superintendent Lydiard, in Bathurst. The colony must owe a great debt of gratitude to the rev. gentleman for thus protecting. the public from the depredations of these characters, It Is not improbable, if what I hear be true, that some of Ben Hall’s gang may yet surrender themselves to justice, were a guarantee given that the extreme penalty of the law would not be carried into effect.


About a dozen gentlemen at Wagga Wagga have raised the sum of £20 19s. as a token of the admiration with which they regard Mr. Morriss’s conduct on the occasion of the visit of the bushrangers to Binda, when his store was burnt down. The money was forwarded by the treasurer, Mr. George Forsyth, to the manager of the Joint Stock Bank at Goulburn, to be paid over to Mr. Morriss.


Reply of the bushrangers, Gilbert, Hall, and Dunn, to the judicial summons to surrender to take their trial for murder, on or before the 29th instant.— “We’ll be hanged if we do!” – Bell’s Life,

Spotlight: Bushranging reports in the Yass Courier (20 April 1864)

Yass Courier (NSW : 1857 – 1929), Wednesday 20 April 1864, page 2


[From our Gundagai correspondent.]

April 18. — On Thursday night last Messrs. Collins, do Body, Brown, and Victor Frank arrived here, and reported that about noon on that day they were attempted to be stuck-up by two men near McKay’s dam, on the road leading to Gundagai, and about three or four miles abreast of Cootamundry. They stated that when the two bushrangers galloped out of the bush towards them, they made off at the top of their horses’ speed; Mr. Collins, who was the best mounted, took the lead, followed by the others. The bushrangers having galloped after them for about a mile they were joined by seven others, all of whom took up the chase for a short time, when they turned back, and allowed the Gundagai-bound men to go their way. Immediately on receipt of the information, Sub-inspector O’Neill with a party of mounted police started for the scene of action, and have not since returned. But now the best of the joke comes, and which I have learnt from a person residing at Mr. Dallas’ station. It seems that for some time past Mr. Dallas has had eight men assisting him in the mustering of young horses. On Thursday last Mr. D. got a mob of these horses collected in the bush near McKay’s dam, which were guarded by seven men; two others were out scouring the bush for stragglers, when Collins and company rode up. The two men, hearing horsemen galloping along the road, and fearing they would start the mob of young horses then ahead, called out to them to stand or go easy. This, in these days of war, was quite enough for the travellers, who at once took to flight. Mr. Dallas himself, with the view of explaining matters to the other party, cantered after them, but finding they increased their speed, turned back. The seven stockmen set up a jolly shout, which closed the so-called “sticking-up” affair. Now it is quite enough to saddle the country with the amount of crime it is guilty of, and not lay to its charge groundless and absurd crimes which do not exist. Could none of the fugitives distinguish between a stockwhip and a revolver? I hope, however, that the gallant four will never have such a horrible alarm again.


[From our Marengo correspondent.]

April 15. — Yesterday, Messrs. Victor Frank and P. de Body, and two others, while proceeding from Young to Cootamundry, were stuck-up by Hall and Co., but the gentlemen being well mounted, refused to bail-up, so striking spurs into their horses, dashed off, closely pursued by the robbers, who followed them almost into the town of Cootamundry before they relinquished the chase. The robbers were met near the spot where the unfortunate Mr. Barnes was shot by O’Maley, therefore the chase was rather long as well as sharp. [Our Gundagai correspondent sends a different version of the above.]

The information I sent you about a week ago respecting Hall re-organising a fresh gang turns out to be quite correct, for he has now under him seven well mounted and armed men. A very pleasant prospect for travellers and isolated settlers this winter!

Inspector Shadforth. — This police officer has sent in his resignation. He has taken this stop contrary to the wishes of his friends, who were desirous that he should submit to the enquiry into his conduct with respect to the escape of Ben Hall from Wilson’s station.

Wrong Apprehension. — Not Ben Hall. — With the usual acuteness which characterises the majority of the police of this colony, an elderly man, lame, and very much delapidated in his garments, was apprehended on the Murrumbidgee River and escorted to Young as the notorious Ben Hall. On his arrival there on Saturday he was immediately liberated, his personnel agreeing in no one particular with that of the celebrated bushranger. The old man’s hair and beard were fair, while those of Hall are very dark. There appears to be something not only stupid but heartless in dragging an old man such a distance without the remotest possibility of his turning out to be the real “Simon Pure.”

Examination of Gardiner the Bushranger. — On Friday last Francis Clarke alias Gardiner was brought before Capt. Scott, P.M. and G. Hill, Esq. J.P., in the debtor’s department of Darlinghurst gaol. Messrs. Roberts and Redman appeared for the prisoner, and Inspector Read was allowed, on his own application, to conduct the prosecution. Mr. Roberts not objecting or consenting, though he took occasion to express his strong disapprobation at the way the prisoner had been treated since his apprehension, and remarking, that on his professional visits to the gaol, he was watched, and could not consult the prisoner privately. The gaol was turned into a curiosity shop; he didn’t know by whose fault or authority, but evidently with the sole desire of gratifying morbid curiosity. The only charge against his client was that of being a prisoner of the Crown illegally at large, preferred against him by Captain McLerie. He also found fault with the mode in which the investigation was conducted, believing that such a court as the present was entirely without precedent. He did not know whether such, a step would enlist sympathy for, or create prejudice against, the prisoner; but in either case it would tend to frustrate the ends of justice. Mr. G. Hill said he did not know how he came there. He certainly expected to have some authority to conduct the prosecution, and fully believed that the criminal court would be opened. — Captain Scott said he he thought the same, and did not exactly know what he had come to try. — Inspector Reid explained the absence of a legal prosecutor, by the fact of Mr. Butler, the Crown Prosecutor, being out of town. — Francis Gardiner was then charged with feloniously shooting and wounding with intent to kill troopers Middleton and Hosie at the Fish River on the 10th July, 1861. Daniel McGlone, detective officer, had arrested prisoner at Apis Creek, on the charge of committing various highway robberies in New South Wales; also, for the escort robbery at Eugowra Creek, about June, 1862. He brought him to Sydney, and delivered him to Inspector Read; saw him received at the gaol. When apprehended, prisoner merely said “June, 1862.” Had no warrant at the time, and had never received one; was not aware that a warrant was endorsed by the authorities of Queensland; when he arrested the prisoner, he asked for a warrant, and he (McGlone) told him he would let him know all about the warrant by and by. He, at the same time, cautioned prisoner against saying anything that might he used against him. John Long Horsey, clerk in the Inspector-General’s office, produced the calendar of convictions at the Circuit Court, Goulburn, in March, 1584, before Sir Alfred Stephen, by which it appeared that a man named Clark was sentenced to seven years on the roads, for horse stealing he received a second sentence for a similar offence, of an equal duration, to commence at the termination of the first. He was sent to Newcastle Breakwater, or Cockatoo Island, till further orders. He did not know, of his own knowledge, that he ever went to Cockatoo. On the 31st December, 1859, Clark received a ticket of leave for Carcoar district. Received a letter from the Police Magistrate at Carcoar. Objection was here taken at continuing the case in the absence of the Crown Lawyer, and after some discussion between the magistrates and the prisoner’s counsel, the examination was postponed till Tuesday next, at the same place. — Bell’s Life.

Spotlight: Ben Hall Wounded (22 March 1865)

Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston, Tas. : 1835 – 1880), Wednesday 22 March 1865, page 6



According to the “Goulburn Argus” of the 8th, there is no doubt that Ben Hall was wounded in the encounter at Mutbilly. That journal says :–

He seems to have lost blood on the spot where he fell, but be managed to make his way either on foot or horseback to the Gullen district, and being concealed in a house there, he obtained the assistance of a person, who knew something of surgery, and the ball, which had lodged in his arm, beneath the elbow, was extracted from it. He stayed several days at the place, and then left, some friend or sympathiser having in the meantime come into town and obtained some ointment for dressing the wound. The house in which he had been hid was searched by the police on Friday last, but he was then non est. It is stated that since the affair at Byrne’s, and whilst he had no other arms than revolvers, and was on foot, Hall was charged by three mounted policemen near Mr. Warne’s, at the Crookwell, but he managed to effect his escape. It is also reported that Gilbert and Dunn joined Hall somewhere in that neighbourhood, and they signalised their meeting by a round of firing. Another version is that the man now with Dunn and Gilbert, and supposed to be Hall, is not that individual, but some one personating him, and that Hall himself is still unable to join them, and has merely changed his place of concealment. This version states that Gilbert, Dunn, and the other man have been close to Collector ever since the affray at Mutbilly.

The present history of New South Wales seems to consist of a record of the murders, robberies, and other depredations perpetrated by gangs of marauding bushrangers, aided by the residents in the districts thus infested. Nothing more disgraceful to the people who tolerate this state, of things has ever existed in the worst bandit ruled fastnesses of Italy. In generalisation of this assertion we submit a few of the telegrams recently received at Sydney from the interior and from Sydney and Melbourne.

Sydney, Feb 24

News reached town today of a savage encounter between the police and Hall’s gang of bushrangers. The particulars to hand are as follows :– The police surprised the bushrangers early this morning, at Mutbilly, fifteen miles from Goulburn, when they were camping. A desperate fight ensued. Hall is reported as wounded The bushrangers eventually escaped, but were half naked. They left their arms and horses behind them. The police are in great hopes of capturing them tonight.

Feb. 27

The bushrangers, after having escaped from the police on Friday morning, procured fresh horses and firearms, and are still at large. The police have discovered notes, cheques, and drafts to the value of £1000 which had been planted by Ben Hall, near Goulburn.

March 6

Parliament assembled today. the Chief secretary, Mr. Cowper, made a statement to the effect that the Government intended the present session to be a brief one, and they would only introduce a few important measures. It was proposed to meet the existing deficiency by raising a loan and to provide for the current expenditure by the present tariff and direct taxation. Sir Frederick Pottinger, late inspector of police accidentally shot himself yesterday. The wound was pronounced mortal. Bushrangers were plundering near Berrima yesterday. Three bushrangers, not previously known to the police, have been arrested near Goulburn. A police telegram, respecting the escort robbery, states that the attack took place half a mile from Major’s Creek. The bushrangers were four in numbar, Hall, Gilbert, and Dunn had double-barrelled guns and revolvers. The gold was conveyed in an iron safe, on a coach. The bushrangers fired on the driver from behind some logs, but missed him and he fled; the police fired in return, when the bushrangers ran up the side of the mountain to their horses and disappeared. One constable kept close to the cart, and with some people that came out from the township, escorted the gold safe to Major’s Creek. Only one trooper is wounded. The ball entered his breast. Upon the receipt of the telegram troopers started from Braidwood, with Superintendent Orridge. About 200 armed diggers left Araluen to assist the police.

Goulburn, March 6

Richard Middleton, John Wilson, and Thomas Tracey, who yesterday committed highway robbery with arms near Paddy’s River, were apprehended this morning and committed for trial at the next assizes. Or Saturday afternoon, Ben Hall, Gilbert, and Dunn stopped the mail from here to Gundaroo; Mr. W. Davis, of Ginninderra, and some females were passengers. Mr. Davis was walking up the hill when the bushrangers came out and covered him with their revolvers. They took his gold watch and a revolver, and in the coach they found a revolving rifle and a double-barrelled gun, also belonging to Mr. Davis, which they took. They opened about half the letters, from which they got only £2. It has been reported since, that they have been seen at Gunning and Collector, and it is said that Hall was actually wounded in the latest encounter, and that the ball has since been extracted from his arm.

Wagga Wagga, March 9

A frightful case of suicide occurred here last night (Sunday), Mr. Renauf accountant of the Bank of New South Wales, in the most determined manner threw himself down the flue of a lime furnace — which was then in a white heat. The firemen present attempted to prevent him from doing so but failed. The body was horribly disfigured and charred. The caust which led to this terrible catas-trophe is at present unknown.

6 p.m.

News has just reached here that another victim has been shot by the ruffian Morgan, at Wollondool. The information is reliable; but it is not certain that the unfortunate man is dead.

March 11

Ben Hall’s gang paid a visit to Gunnings on Thursday night, and helped themselves to three horses, with which they got clear away.

March 12

has been committed for trial on a charge of personation at the late elections. The inquest on the body of Castor (of the Christy’s Minstrels), who poisoned himself, has resulted in a verdict of temporary insanity. The Maitland telegram reports that about noon to day D. Cohen and Co.’s store took fire. The flames spread thence to the Commercial Bank, and Mullen’s, Lipscomb’s, and Hines’s stores, all of which were destroyed. The bank saved the books and valuables, but the loss is supposed to be very heavy, probably about £80,000, which is covered by insurance, of which Cohen’s amounts to £50,000 The manager of the Victoria Insurance Office goes up tonight to protect the interests of the insurance offices. The total damage is estimated at about £170,000. Sir Frederick Pottinger is recovering.

Sydney, March 15

The total loss by the Maitland fire is estimated at £170,000. The bushrangers continue their depredations in the southern districts. Arrived: Agnes and Jessie, from Launceston.

Spotlight: Robberies by Hall & Co. (November 1864)

Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Wednesday 16 November 1864, page 3


The town of Goulburn was thrown into a state of great excitement on Wednesday morning last, by a report that Mr. Rossi’s house at Rossiville, only two and a half miles from town had been stuck up the previous night by Hall, Gilbert, and young Dunn. It was at first stated that the robbers had their faces covered when committing the outrage, and this led to the rumour being discredited as to the identity of the men, as it was well known the three individuals named never resort to concealment of their faces; it proved, however, that there had been no concealment.

On inquiry we learnt that about eight o’clock on Tuesday evening three men entered the back yard of Rossiville with revolvers in their hands, and the servant girl seeing them, immediately cried out that there were bushrangers. There were at the time on the premises only William Cushing, the coachman; an old man named Jim; and the servant girl – Mr. and Mrs. Rossi being absent with the Right Rev. Dr. Thomas on his diocesan tour. The inmates were all obliged to go into the kitchen, and the girl was made to fry some eggs for the robbers’ supper. They aIso made them fetch wine, of which, as well as the eggs, they, obliged the servants to partake before touching themselves. Gilbert told them they ought to feel highly honoured at their taking the meal in the kitchen, as it was a thing they never did before, being always accustomed to use the dining room or drawing room for that purpose. They complained of the quality of the bread, saying the flour was very dark, and asked, if that was Mr. Rossi’s fault. Being informed that it was the miller’s, they requested that their compliments should be presented to Mr. Conolly, with the request that he should send a couple of bags of his best flour before their next visit. The bushrangers made a thorough search of the premises at Rossiville and broke open boxes and drawers, but fortunately, all the plate and jewellery had been removed into town for safe custody before Mr. Rossi’s departure. Gilbert, however, selected a pair of new Bedford cord trousers and a new pair of Napoleon boots, and having arrayed himself in them, asked if they did not suit him admirably. They stopped at the house until about ten o’clock, when they left, taking with them three horses — viz., a pair of carriage horses which had been lately sold to Mr. Augustus Morris, M.P., but had not been removed, and Mr. Rossi’s grey Arab — a rifle, a couple of saddles, and some smaller articles. As the inmates of the house, however, were not sure about their departure, it was near eleven before Mr. Jordan, the overseer, who lives close by, could be communicated with and informed of the affair. He immediately accompanied by a young lad, came into town and gave information at the lock-up, viz., at about a quarter before midnight. Owing to our splendid system which leaves the troopers’ barracks two miles away from the centre of the town, it wast near one o’clock before four troopers started for Rossiville senior constable Paget and the lad having gone down to the Old Township to make their report, whilst Mr. Jordan, went to acquaint the Rev. Mr. Sowerby with what had happened. The boy eloquently and forcibly explained how the robbers were armed, by saying that they had “bushels of revolvers,” a not very inapplicable simile, when, as it appeared next morning, Hall alone had no less than eight revolvers in his belt.

Having now stated what occurred at Rossiville, we must turn to the robbery of the Sydney mail. Latterly, owing to the fine weather and excellent state of the roads, Messrs. Cobb and Co.’s coach from Picton with the Sydney mails has arrived punctually to its time, nine o’clook a.m., if not a little earlier. Its non-arrival, therefore, at ten o’clock on Wednesday morning coupled with the previous night’s proceedings, gave reason to believe that the coach had been stuck up, a suspicion that was changed into certainty by the arrival on horseback of Mr. William Sidwell, from Towrang, at a quarter past ten o’clock. Mr. Sidwell stated that a man passing through the bush had seen the coach bailed up and driven off the road, that the man had hastened to let him know, whereupon he had mounted his horse and galloped into town through the bush as hard as be could ride. To make the matter more explicit to our readers, we will give a narrative of the bushrangers’ proceedings, so far as is ascertained.

After leaving Mr. Rossi’s, their proceedings and whereabouts are unknown, until at early dawn they were seen skirting the outside of the town, though there was then no suspicion who they were. They then appear to have proceeded to Towrang, and remained in the vicinity of the toll-bar till they saw Mr. Thomas Parr, clerk to Mr. C. H. Walsh, the solicitor, who had been driving an invalid lady down to Sydney, in Mr. Walsh’s carriage, and was returning with a female friend who had accompanied her. On seeing Mr. Parr they bailed him up, made him stop the carriage and get out; telling him to go to the horses’ heads, which he did. They then asked him if there were any firearms in the carriage, to which he replied in the negative. Not content with the answer, the junior of the party, young Dunn — who they said they had engaged as apprentice for five years, although he had only served four months — was ordered to search the carriage, which he did, and reported Mr. Parr’s statement to be correct. Mr. Parr was then told he might leave the horses. One of the animals attracted the robbers’ fancy, and they took the harness off it. Mr. Parr attempted to decry it as a saddle horse, but Gilbert seemed inclined to take it, so much so that Mr. Parr said, if they did he hoped they would use it well. They then asked whose horse it was, and being told that it was “Lawyer Walsh’s,” they left it alone, but said that if they could get hold of Mr. Walsh they would make him give them a cheque for a good amount, and keep him in their custody till it was cashed. From Mr. Parr they took £2. Having left Shelly’s Flats that morning, and having had no breakfast, Mr. Parr’s female companion felt the want of it, whereupon the bushrangers obligingly made her some tea, and offered her part of a turkey and some cakes obtained from a traveller.

Soon after Mr. Parr was stuck up, a person named Nye who was riding, and who is a brother to a man who was arrested some twelve months back at Sutton Forest on suspicion of being Gilbert, to whom he bears a great resemblance — was stuck up by them. The bushrangers seem to have known who he was for they would not take his money (£1 11s ), and Gilbert laughingly said he might keep it as some compensation for the inconvenience his brother had suffered.

Some other parties having been stuck up, at eight o’clock the mail was slopped about fifty yards this side of the Towrang toll-bar. Johnny Daly, the coachman, saw a couple of men ride out of the bush, and one of them called out to him to bail up, and told him to drive into the bush which he had to do for a distance of some two hundred yards on the Boxer’s Creek side. The passengers in the coach were Mr. and Mrs. Hoskins and daughters, of Foxlowe, near Bungendore; a Mr. Iredale, from Sydney; and a man named Lee, a Yorkshireman; just arrived in the colony, who had been engaged by Mr. Campbell, of Duntroon. The robbers offered no violence whatever, and told the ladies not to be alarmed, as they would not be interfered with. From the males they demanded their money and valuables. Mr. Hoskins had twenty sovereigns in his purse, and these they took, but returned to him his watch. From Mr. Iredale they took £7 10s.; and from Lee £3, although they gave each back when leaving, 10s. in silver. From Daly they took nothing. They boasted of their doings of the preceding evening, and said that they intended giving Mr. Rossi fifty lashes if they had caught him at home for impounding poor men’s cattle. They observed, however, that the servants had told them Mr. Rossi wasn’t as bad as he was painted! They also said that they had seen the police magistrate, Mr. Allman, out near Rossiville the previous evening. They intimated to the persons stuck up that they intended to keep them there until after the arrival of the mail from Goulburn, as they intended to bail that up. Somehow or other they learnt that the gold escort would be coming down in the mail, but this did not appear at first to alter their determination, as they said they would put the first coach across the road at a turn, and thus blockade the path and take the escort unawares. The mailbags were taken down from the coach and all opened, Gilbert and Hall showing that they were well used to the work of “sorting” the letters. Cheques and bills of exchange they thrust aside with contempt, except in one case when they found, as an eye-witness expressed it, a “fistful” of notes in a letter, and a couple of cheques, which Gilbert remarked he could get cashed. There were a number of photographs in the letters, all of which they looked at and expressed their opinion on. In one case there was the photograph of a policeman, whom they apparently receognised, for one of them, pointing his revolver at the photograph said to the other “Wouldn’t I like to have the original here!” Of their findings generally they expressed their opinion by saying that it wasn’t an over and above good morning’s work. There was a large quantity of stamps going from the Postmaster-General to country postmasters, and these they scattered about in all directions, besides appropriating a few to themselves. Shortly after ten o’clock Dunn, who was acting as scout, gave the alarm that a man bad ridden off through the bush towards Goulburn after seeing them. This led to an immediate abandonment of their prisoners. One of Mr. Rossi’s horses, they said, didn’t suit them, and after saying that any one might take it into town, they left it, and made off.

It appears that the freebooters were at Mummell on Tuesday afternoon, had dinner at Mr. McAIeers; and shouted for all hands, but of course they were not known. Their coats were buttoned up, and there were no signs of arms about them, which is the more remarkable, as when seen “professionally” afterwards, they had each, in addition to an apparently almost unIimited stock of revolvers, a short rifle or carbine.

There can be no doubt now, from what we have since heard, that it was Ben Hall’s party or their accomplices that put the logs across the culvert near the Redhouse, on the Yass road, on Tuesday morning, as it is positively stated that the party working on the roads had nothing to do with it. A Mr. Griffiths, who was passing, had them removed immediately that they were seen. Very probably they intended to stick up the mail from Yass on that day, unaware of the fact that it being escort day, the mail came down in a buggy, which probably passed them without particular notice. A curious coincidence, if it be nothing more, may also be remarked in connection with this barricading of the Yass road, and that is, that although when the driver of the Braidwood mail passed a particular spot about three miles this side of the Shoalhaven, at six o’clock p.m., on Tuesday evening the road was clear, yet on his return by the same spot at two o’clock a.m., towards Goulburn, it was barricaded with branches of trees, quite newly cut down, at the time, the coach was among them before the driver had observed them. He immediately dismounted, however, and removed the obstruction, expecting every moment to be stuck up; having put the branches on one side, however, be proceeded on his route and reached town in safety.

On Thursday morning, a rumour prevailed, that the three bushrangers had been at Collector and had stuck up a store there. The sticking up turned out not to be correct, and it is doubtful if any of the trio were concerned in the affair, though if they were not, there is no doubt some of their confederates were. The facts appear to be these. Two men, well mounted on horses somewhat resembling those ridden by two of the bushrangers, and dressed very similarly, rode up to Mr. Wheatley’s store, in Collector, about 6 p.m. One of them having dismounted, entered the shop and made some purchases including a pair of spurs, the latter he put on, but the other things were put in a bundle, and he gave £5 note in payment, then went outside with the bundle and mounted. Mr. Wheatley, on looking at the note, saw that it consisted of two different halves joined together. Immediately suspecting the character of his visitors, he ran outside, and showing the note to the man, who had the bundle, he pointed out the error. The man replied, taking the note, “Well, you won’t get any other,”, and the two rode off. Mr. Wheatley, however, made a snatch at the bundle and secured it. No arms were seen on either of the men, but these might easily have been concealed by their coats, and if it was two of the three bushrangers, the third, we may be sure, was with the other horses, and guns, not far distant in the bush.

Since the preceding was written, we have heard that the gang were seen at the back of the Governor’s’ Hill, near Boxer’s Creek, about 11 o’clock on Wednesday after the mail was robbed, which would lead probably to the supposition that they were at Collector that evening.

Goulburn Argus


YESTERDAY morning at half past eight o’clock the mail from Yass, Young, Tumut, Albury, &c., an unusually heavy one, was stuck up by Hall, Gilbert and Dunn, about a mile on the Gunning side of Mr, T. J. Lodge’s, on the Breadalbane Plains, some sixteen miles from Goulburn.

There was only one passenger in the coach a Mr. William Dawson, a messenger in the Insolvent Court. From him they took his watch, a silver one, Gilbert saying be wanted one. Thinking from the appearance and costume of Mr. Dawson — he being dressed in dark blue, and wearing high boots — that he was, a member of the police force, they searched him closely for firearms, and it was only on production of his warrant as insolvency messenger, that they believed his assertions that he was in no ways connected with the “blues.” This time they did not oblige the driver to take the coach off the road, nor did they examine the letters there; but all of the bags were opened, and the letters, thrust indiscriminately into a couple of bags, which were strapped on in front of their saddles and took away with them. Hall was mounted on one of Mr. Rossi’s bays, Dunn on the same gentleman’s grey, and Gilbert on a very dark iron grey. Having taken what they wanted, they told Thomas Jenkins, the coachman, to drive on to Lodge’s, where they also went. There they treated all hands, including six or seven men belonging to a road party, and Gilbert, in payment, threw down a one pound note, declining to take any change. In reply to a question whether they had not been at Collector on Wednesday evening, Hall said “No, the fellows there were two chaps in our employ, whom we give £3 10s. a week to, and in six months’ time they can go on their own hook.” In all probability, however, the two men at Collector were part of the gang. When the news of this last mail robbery reached town, it did not cause the slightest astonishment, as everyone had been expecting to hear of another outrage ere the week was out. The bushrangers are evidently intending to pay frequent visits to this district. Mail robberies are already a constant occurrence, and no doubt, when it is seen that they can be accomplished with such ease, and that they go where they like with but with little chance of interference from the police, these robberies will become even more frequent. Respecting the movements of the police, all we can say is that “they are out.”

Yesterday afternoon, between one and two o’clock the bushrangers were seen at Mummell; going apparently in the direction of Laggan. — Goulburn Argus.

Spotlight: The not unfriendly biography of Ben Hall

Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston, Tas. : 1835 – 1880), Saturday 27 May 1865, page 2


The Forbes correspondent of the Western Examiner (Orange), of May 13th, furnishes the following not unfriendly biography of Ben Hall :—

In estimating the character of this man, who has obtained such an unenviable notoriety throughout the colonies during the past three years an insight into his early life may be of some assistance, and I have therefore, taken some pains to collect the following brief history of certain incidents concerning him. I can assure the reader that the facts were obtained from what I believe to be the most authentic sources. He was born at Breeza, Liverpool Plains, in February, 1837, and was therefore twenty-eight years old last February. His parents are still living at Murrurundi, where his father is a freeholder and well-to-do farmer. It was at Breeza and Murrurundi, where the elder Hall had charge of a station (Duna) that young Hall lived until he was about ten years old. While in Murrurundi he attended school for about two years and a half, and learned to read and write, and obtained sufficient knowledge of arithmetic to enable him to conduct his own business. Thus early in life and while assisting his father upon the station, it is related that he evinced a remarkable degree of perception and aptness in regard to stock. If he saw a calf dropped, he could in a year afterwards identify the cow and the calf, and locate them. When this lad was about ten years old, his father, Benjamin Hall, senior, who is a native of Bedminster, Devonshire, and who has resided in New South Wales more than forty years, removed to the Lachlan district, and took charge of a station belonging to Mr. Hamilton, called Uah. This station is about fifteen miles from Forbes, on the road to the Pinnacle. The son resided with his father upon this station until he was about eighteen years old, and was almost exclusively engaged in stock-keeping, looking after the stock of Mr. Hamilton, as well as that belonging to himself and father. About 13 years ago, the elder Hall returned to Murrurundi, purchased a farm, and has since cultivated the land. The father and son have never seen each other since. It was very much against the father’s desire that the son remained behind. The young man, however, had formed an intimacy with Bridget Walsh, the second daughter of Mr. John Walsh, of Wheogo, and nothing could induce him to leave. The father, intent upon separating his son from this connexion, not only removed his own, but the cattle belonging to his son, to the other side of the country. A short time previous to his father’s departure, Ben surreptitiously left home, and went into the employment of Mr. Walsh, at Wheogo, as stock-keeper. In about one year after, he was married to Miss Bridget Walsh. Two children were born to him by this marriage; the youngest, Henry, is still living, and about six years old. It was not far from twelve months after the birth of this child, and while he was yet in arms, that his wife eloped with a Mr. James Taylor, with whom she has continued to live since. They reside somewhere on the Fish River. Shortly after his marriage, he, in company with Mr. John Maguire, obtained a lease of a run adjoining Wheogo, called Sandy Creek, which they stocked with cattle and horses. Sandy Creek, Wheogo, and Bundaburra are estimated to be among the very best runs in the Lachlan district. Up to this period Ben Hall was held in high esteem by the settlers throughout the district, not only for his generous, open-hearted qualities — always showing a disposition to assist his neighbours —but for the enterprise and energy he displayed in conducting his business affairs. Very shortly after the elopement of his wife with Taylor, which occurred while he was absent attending a muster at Bland — and after he had taken a most affectionate leave of her, without for one moment entertaining the slightest suspicion of her infidelity — he was arrested by Sir Frederick Pottinger at the Wowingragong racecourse, charged with highway robbery under arms. The surprise that was expressed by the residents of this district that such a charge should be made against Ben Hall is well remembered. However, after lying in the lock-up four or five weeks, and being taken to Orange and undergoing trial, the jury acquitted him without leaving their seats. He then returned to his station, Sandy Creek, and commenced mustering his horses. This was during the latter part of May, 1862. Mustering necessarily required several weeks, and the business was still progressing, and before the mustering was completed, during the latter part of July, 1862, he was again arrested by Sir Frederick Pottinger and Sub-inspector Saunderson, charged with being in some way implicated in the celebrated escort robbery. He remained in Forbes lock-up six or seven weeks, being brought before the bench of magistrates from time to time, and remanded at the instance of Sir F. Pottinger and Inspector Saunderson, for the production of further testimony. He was ultimately admitted to bail, himself in £500, and two sureties of £250 each, to appear when called upon. He was not committed. When he returned to Wheogo and Sandy Creek, he found that all his labour in mustering his horses was in vain. The horses had all dispersed. Some had perished in the yards. After looking about to see if he could recover them, he found they were hopelessly scattered, and gave up the idea of collecting them that season. About this time the police station at the Pinnacle was stuck up and robbed of firearms and other things by Patsey Daley. The same night this was done, Ben Hall, unfortunately for himself, happened to be stopping, by mere chance, at the house of a Mr. Allport, on the Lambing-flat road. It was to this house that Patsey Daley went after robbing the police station. It was further unfortunate that Ben Hall left Allport’s in company with Daley. The police tracked the single horseman to Allport’s, and from that point they tracked two horsemen, Daley and Hall. It may be remarked that when the police station at the Pinnacle was stuck up, only one constable (Knox) was in charge, and he had gone to Mrs. Fechley’s for his breakfast, and was thus engaged when Daley took the firearms. It should also be remembered that Frank Gardiner, Gilbert, and O’Meally were at that time operating rather extensively upon the road between Lambing Flat and Forbes. It is supposed that Daley intended to join Gardiner and company — in fact he had joined them, but it was unknown to the police, and was making himself acceptable to that fraternity by this preliminary exploit by which he supplied himself with arms. Hall knew at this time that Daley was compromised with Gardiner and Co., but the police did not. But Hall did not know that Daley had just robbed the police station. When he discovered that they were being pursued by the police, knowing that he was in company with one of Gardiner’s gang, he fled, and from that time took to the roads, and made his name notorious. The police pursued and fired upon them, but they escaped. From that time both were lost to all and everything desirable in life. Some two or three months afterwards, Patsey Daley was captured, having secreted himself in a shaft at the Pinnacle. Upon being tried, he was convicted at Bathurst and sentenced to 15 years. Hall was not taken, but continued to pursue a daring and desperate career, the particulars of which are too well known to need comment. But with all his crimes, I believe he has never been accused of being bloodthirsty, nor did he directly kill any of the victims he robbed. It is claimed by his relatives and those who knew him best that he was affectionate and generous. It is said that the miniature found upon his person by the police after his death is that of a favourite sister, now living on the Maitland side, and that he has constantly worn it upon his person during the last three years. Such then, in brief, are some of the incidents connected with the early life of a most desperate bushranger, who has eluded the grasp of a strong and active police force for three years, and who was ultimately captured, but not until his body was pierced by bullets and slugs from his feet to the crown of his head. The Forbes correspondent of the Western Examiner communicates the subjoined description of the funeral of Ben Hall :—

“The corpse of Ben Hall, after being enclosed in a coffin, remained at the police barrack until 10 o’clock on Sunday morning. In the meantime his relations had arrived from the Pinnacle, and were allowed to take charge ot it. From the barracks it was removed to the residence of Mr. J. Smith Toler, undertaker, Templar street. A very handsome coffin, covered with black cloth and trimmed with gilt ornaments, was here substituted. At about 2 o’clock in the afternoon individuals began to collect in the neighbourhood, and soon after the face of the corpse was exposed, so that those who had not seen it on Saturday now had the privilege. A great many availed themselves of the opportunity. When his brother’s wife was turning from a last look, it is said she remarked that, ”had it not been for Ben Hall’s wife, he would not have been lying there.” The funeral procession started for the cemetery at 4 o’clock, and consisted of hearse, ornamental with black plumes in profusion, and drawn by a black horse, driven by Mr. Toler. Immediately following were his brother William Hall and wife, two three carriages, and 40 or 50 persons on foot. In this way they passed into Lachlan street on their way to the grave. The procession turned by Jones’s store, and passed by the head of the North Lead. Arrived at the cemetery, where about 100 persons, from motives of curiosity or otherwise, had collected, the coffin was taken from the hearse and placed over the grave. A bottle of holy water was then sprinkled over it by Mr, Toler, and the burial service of the Roman Catholic Church was read by Mr. Jas. K. Montgomery. The coffin was then lowered into the ground and covered with earth. Amongst the spectators there were between 40 and 50 females, young and old.”


Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston, Tas. : 1835 – 1880), Wednesday 24 May 1865, page 2



(From the S. M. Herald, May 16.)

Yass, Monday Evening.

On Thursday night a horse was stolen out of a paddock at Murrumburrah, of which no particulars could be ascertained till about eleven o’clock on Friday morning, when a man named Furlonge, who was travelling with sheep, stated that he had been visited by Gilbert and Dunn, who rounded up his horses and took a favorite animal, leaving in its stead the one taken from Murrumburrah. On Friday night the bushrangers camped at Rieley’s-hill, two miles from Binalong, some one having seen them there apparently fast asleep. When the police received their information they went to a farmer’s hut, in which a man named Kelly resided, who is the grandfather of Dunn. The police watched all night, but they saw no indication of the bushrangers, and left in the morning, being hopeless of success. Fresh news, however, reached them between eight and nine o’clock on Saturday morning which induced a fresh start to Kelly’s. When the party arrived there, they watched for about an hour, when Kelly came out of the hut and walked up and down in front of the door; and afterwards his wife came out. A little while after Kelly’s youngest son, Thomas, made his appearance, and was beckoned by Constable Hales, who inquired whether there was any one besides his parents in the hut, to which the boy replied that no strangers had been in the house during the night. Hales, however, proceeded to the house, and burst open the door, when he was saluted by a volley from the two bushrangers. The fire was returned, and the police withdrew for a short distance, when almost immediately after Gilbert and Dunn were observed running through a paddock adjoining the hut. Constable Bright started in pursuit, and was followed by the three other troopers. Several shots were then exchanged on both sides, when the bushrangers again retreated, and Hales and Bright fired together, and Gilbert fell. The pursuit after Dunn was continued, but although several shots were fired at him none took effect; and he has since been heard of at Bogolong, ten miles from Binalong, having stuck up Mr Jullian’s station yesterday, and whence he took a horse, saddle, and bridle. The inquest on Gilbert’s body was held yesterday at Binalong. The evidence of Constables Hales, Bright, and King was taken as to the shooting of Gilbert; the body was identified by Messrs Hewitt and Barnes and Constable Bright — the latter knew him for five years, and Hewitt knew him when a storekeeper at the Wombat. Barnes, who was stuck-up by Hall and Gilbert and kept two days in camp, had a good knowledge of Gilbert, and was able immediately to identify him. Dr Campbell, from Yass, made a post-mortem examination of the body, and found that a single bullet had entered the left part of the back, gone through the centre of the heart, and passed out through the left side, fracturing one rib. Dr Campbell stated that death must have been immediate. After Gilbert was shot, constable King received a bullet in the ankle from Dunn’s revolver. The revolver rifle taken from Mr Davis has been recovered. Gilbert had possession of it, and he made several attempts to use it, but the rifle missed fire three times; three chambers were loaded, and one had been discharged. The following is the verdict :— “That the said John Gilbert came to his death by a gunshot wound inflicted on Saturday, 13th May, 1865, near Binalong, in the said colony, by one of the constables in the police force of New South Wales, in the execution of their duty; and that they were justified in inflicting said wound which caused his death. The jury desire further to express their approval of the conduct of the constables, and in their opinion they are deserving of great credit for the gallant manner in which they effected the capture of Gilbert.”


The inquest on Ben Hall was held at the police barracks, Forbes, on the 6th inst. We take the following report of the evidence from the Yass Courier :—

James Henry Davidson, on oath, states: I am sub-inspector of police stationed at Forbes. On last Saturday morning, 29th April, I left the police camp with five men and two trackers, and started in pursuit of the bushrangers — Hall, Gilbert, and Dunn. On the evening of the fifth day from leaving Forbes, we came upon two horses hobbled in the scrub, about twelve miles from Forbes, near Billabong Creek. We watched the horses for about half an hour, when we saw a man approach who caught the horses. He parssed close by where we were standing. He caught the horses, and led them away about 100 yards. This was about ten o’clock in the evening. We did not recognise the man. He took the horses about 100 yards, and hobbled them again. Shortly after, a tracker, Billy Dargan, informed me that he heard the mean he saw lead away and hobble the horses making a noise among the dead leaves, as though he was preparing a bed for himself. I then placed five of the men in my charge where we were standing, and went with Sergeant Condell, and Billy Dargan on the other side of the man, with the intention of attacking him in his camp should we discover that he was Ben Hall. We could not get within 100 yards of the man, in consequence of his horse snorting at our approach. I then determined to wait until daybreak. About half-past six in the morning I saw a man with a bridle in his hand, about 150 yards from where I was, approaching the horses. By this time the horses were feeding on a plain bordering the scrub, and when the man was about half the way from the border of the scrub to the horses, myself, Sergeant Condell, and Billy Dargan ran after him. After running about fifty yards the man became aware of our presence, and ran in the direction where the five men were posted. By this time I identified the man as Ben Hall. I several times called on him to stand. After running about one-hundred yards, I got within forty yards of Hall and fired at him. I shot with a double-barrelled gun. Hall after my firing jumped a little, and looked back, and from his movements I have reason to believe that I hit him. Sergeant Condell and Dargan ( the tracker) fired immediately afterwards. They were running a little to the left of me and not far away. From the manner of Hall, I have reason to believe that Condell and Dargan’s shots took effect. From that time he ran more slowly towards a few saplings. The five police who were stationed beyond him, immediately ran towards him and fired. I noticed Trooper Hipkiss firing at Hall with a rifle, and immediately afterwards the belt holding his revolvers fell off him. At this time he field himself up by a sapling; and upon receiving Hipkiss’s fire he gradually fell backwards. There were about thirty shots fired in all. Hall then cried out, “I am wounded; shoot me dead.” I then went up to the body, and noticed that life was extinct. I also observed that the bullet fired by Hipkiss passed through his body. I searched the body, there was £74 in notes in two chamois leather bags, one in his trousers pocket, the other in his coat breast pocket, three gold chains, and a gold watch, a portrait of a female, three revolvers, and a number of bullets in his pocket, and a gold ring keeper on his finger. Along with his saddle was a quantity of wearing apparel. There were also two single blankets. I knew the body to be that of Ben Hall. His clothing I observed to be perforated with bullets. We caught the horses and fixed the body of deceased on the saddle, and in this manner brought him to Forbes.

James Condell, on oath, states :— I am sergeant of police stationed at Forbes. On Saturday night last, in company with Sub-inspector Davidson, four constables, and two trackers, in pursuit of the bushrangers — Hall, Gilbert, and Dunn. On the Thursday night following, we observed two horses hobbled in the bush. We watched the horses for about an hour. We then saw a man approach the horses and take the hobbles off, and lead them through the bush for about one hundred and fifty yards. He then hobbled the horses, and let them go. He afterwards proceeded into the scrub, and immediately afterwards we were informed by the black tracker, Billy Dargan, that he heard him scraping on the ground as if to make a place for a bed. Sub-inspector Davidson and myself then posted the men in a half-circle on one side, and Sub-inspector Davidson and myself proceeded to the opposite side. Myself, Mr Davidson and the tracker crept about through the bush in search of his camp. Finding that we could not succeed in discovering the camp, we resolved to watch the horses all night, and about six o’clock next morning I saw a man emerge from the scrub into a piece of open country, and walk in the direction of the two horses, we started in pursuit, and ran about fifty yards before he observed us. He then looked up and saw us, he turned and ran from us. Sub-inspector Davidson then called on him to stand; he looked round and still kept running. Sub-inspector Davidson then fired at him. Immediately afterwards I saw Hall jump; he still kept running. I then levelled my rifle at him, covered him full in the back, and fired. I believe the shot took effect between the shoulders. After this he rolled about, and when running appeared very weak. The tracker then fired with a double barrelled gun, and I believe hit the deceased. We called out for the men stationed on the opposite side. When he saw them emerge from the scrub, he turned and ran in another direction. The men all fired, and I believe most of the bullets hit him. Deceased then ran to a cluster of timber, laid hold of a sapling, and said, “I am wounded; I am dying.” The men then fired again, and he immediately rolled over. He threw out his feet convulsively once or twice, and said, “I am dying, I am dying.” We all then approached him, and found he was dead. Sub-Inspector Davidson searched the body, and found £74 in notes, a gold watch, three revolvers capped and loaded, a powder, two boxes of percussion caps, a bag of bullets, and a quantity of wearing apparel. At his camp we found a saddle and bridle and a pair of blankets. We then packed his body on a saddle, and removed it to our camp, and then to Forbes. I have known the deceased for four years. About three years ago I escorted him a prisoner to Orange, and saw him frequently afterwards. I identity the body of deceased as that of Ben Hall.

William Jones, on oath, states: I am a storekeeper, residing at Forbes. I have seen the body of deceased, and identify it as the remains of Ben Hall. I have known the deceased seventeen years, and have seen him continually during that period, except during the last three years. I am perfectly certain as to his identity.

John Newall, on oath, states: I am a licensed publican, residing at Forbes. I knew Ben Hall nine years ago, and have frequently seen him since until within the last two years and a half. I have seen the body now lying in the adjoining room and identify it as that of Ben Hall.

Charles Assenheim, on oath, being duly sworn, saith: I am a qualified medical man. I have examined the body of deceased, and find it perforated by several bullets. The shot between the shoulders, the two shots into the brain, and the one through the body were severally sufficient to cause death.

The Shootout at the Bang Bang Hotel

The bushranger gangs of the 1860s were not too different to the rock bands of the 1970s. The members were larger than life, they were constantly travelling, and the members were constantly changing either because of “creative differences”, imprisonment or through untimely death. So it was with the highest profile gang of the era – that belonging to Johnny Gilbert and Ben Hall. Having just lost three of their gang within a span of months (Mickey Burke to suicide, John Vane gaoled, and John O’Meally shot dead), the pair were quick to find replacements. Thus was added into the mix Jim Gordon, alias Mount, an old hand known not-so-affectionately as “Old Man”.

Gordon assisted the bushrangers on several outings in 1864, but it was on 20 May he would distinguish himself as a formidable bushranger. The trio began their work by bailing up two men on the road from Cowra and relieving them of £6. The men were on their way to the races at Young (formerly Lambing Flat) and one was carrying pastry to be had there. The brigands helped themselves to the pastry and Hall complained that it was “devilish dry”. Surely it was one thing to rob a man of his lunch, but to criticise his cooking on top of it all must have been insult on injury. At any rate the bushrangers decided to ride to the nearest pub to wash it down.

At 5pm Hall, Gilbert and Gordon rode up to the Bang Bang Hotel, Koorawatha, where around thirty-five men were enjoying a leisurely drink. Hall was mounted on a superb chestnut horse with one white foot, the others rode a bay and a black horse. Each man was armed with a rifle and trio of revolvers. Promptly, the bushrangers bailed up the patrons. All of the occupants of the building were rounded up and guarded by Hall, while Gilbert and Gordon positioned themselves at the gate, still mounted.

The Bang Bang Hotel [Source]

In the paddock plainclothes Senior Constables MacNamara and Scott were with their horses, who were grazing. The officers were on special duty to escort race horses from Cowra to the Burrangong races and had been on the road since 10am that morning. They had been in the company of messrs Wilson of Young, and Skillicorn of Bathurst, and while the civilians were in the bar the troopers had taken the horses to the yard to feed them. Suddenly the troopers were startled when Gilbert and Gordon entered the yard on horseback. Gilbert presented a revolver and Gordon a carbine.

“Leave them horses,” shouted Gordon, but the police were baffled and did not respond. “I say once more, Leave them horses!”

“Old Man” Gordon

Suddenly realising the danger, the troopers went for their pistols but were covered by Gilbert who stated, “Take your hands out of that, you wretches, or I’ll blow your brains out!”

Gilbert fired three shots before the police replied. Seven shots were exchanged with the police advancing upon the mounted bushrangers. As the police closed the thirty yard gap between themselves and their attackers, Hall and Gordon took off, leaving Gilbert to defend himself. Upon realising he was on his own, Gilbert took off after the others with Senior Constable Scott in hot pursuit.

Johnny Gilbert

Scott stuck to Hall who unloaded his revolver at the trooper while riding full gallop. After each shot Hall would rest his revolver upon his thigh while looking to see if the shot took effect. Scott kept at him, resting his weapon on his left arm to steady it. One of Scott’s shots struck Hall’s cabbage tree hat causing it to fly off, though it was attached to a string. Hall clutched at his head and swore before speeding away. With Hall out of reach, Scott returned to the hotel where Gilbert and Gordon were sheltering behind the building. Gordon, seeing Scott 350 yards away, dismounted and fired at him shouting, “Take that, you wretch!” The shot hit the ground and ricocheted into the building. Seeing his shot so ineffective, Gordon mounted and retreated. The trio threatened a return visit as they galloped away with their proverbial tails between their legs.

By the end of the fight around 30 shots had been fired, but there were no casualties. Inspector Singleton was soon informed and a party to search for the bushrangers was dispatched, anticipating that they could be headed to a local race meeting. The search was fruitless and the gang would strike again three days later.

Ben Hall

The gang soon drew 19-year-old John Dunleavy into the fold and after a few more outings, including one wherein a victim was viciously flogged for having been part of a search party, Gilbert decided to take his leave of the gang. It is unclear what prompted his decision, but thereafter the gang would be seen to be led by Ben Hall and referred to as such in the press.

The Battle of Goimbla

In November 1863 the Gilbert-Hall gang were at the apex of their infamy. Raids on Canowindra and Bathurst had elevated them beyond the run-of-the-mill farm raiders, stock thieves and highwaymen that the pantheon of bushrangers mostly comprised of. Things had started falling apart however with the gruesome death of Mickey Burke during a siege and the subsequent split from the group by John Vane who had decided that prison was preferable to bushranging. The remaining members were Ben Hall, Johnny Gilbert and John O’Meally, all of whom had been working together since 1861 when they were united under the leadership of Frank Gardiner.

The trio were determined not to let the sudden decrease in the size of their gang impact on their notoriety and the intimidation factor that came with it. With this in mind they decided to target the Campbells at Goimbla Station near Forbes.

Word had reached the gang that David Henry Campbell, a police magistrate, had been boasting of how well prepared he was to fend off an attack by the bushrangers. Campbell was known to have spoken very openly about his desire to see the bushrangers brought to justice and was even known to have gone hunting for them. Such an avowed enemy, it seemed, could not be left unmolested.

At around 9pm, on 19 November, 1863, David Campbell was in his drawing room when he heard footsteps near the verandah. He immediately fetched a double-barrelled shotgun and headed for the bedroom. He went to the back door of his dressing room where he was met by the indistinct figure of one of the armed bushrangers, likely O’Meally, who promptly fired two barrels from a shotgun near Campbell’s face, but missed. Campbell returned the gesture and the man fled, joining the rest of the gang at the front door of the house. Campbell followed, staying out of sight, and observed the bushrangers as they began firing into the house.

Roused by the sudden bursts of gunfire, William Campbell, David’s brother, went out to the verandah where he saw one of the bushrangers. Immediately the bandit fired at him, striking him in the chest. A second shot proved ineffective. William, in pain from his wound, struggled to his feet and ran to an oat crop for cover. Concealed in the vegetation, he tried to gauge the situation so he could mount a return to the house.

David Campbell and his wife Amelia, taken from a lantern slide. [Source: National Museum of Australia]

David Campbell retreated into the house and raised the alarm. His wife Amelia ran into the drawing room, which was lit up by lamps with the blinds still open, leaving her exposed. The bushrangers fired at her as she fetched a shotgun that was resting against the fireplace and the necessary ammunition. Shots zipped past her as she boldly made her way back through the room to safety. Campbell reloaded his shotgun and the couple took cover between two slab walls that led to the kitchen. From here they had a decent field of view and were able to catch their breath in relative safety. After fifteen minutes of relentless firing, the gang ceased long enough to threaten the occupants of the fortified house verbally.

“If you don’t immediately surrender, we’ll burn your place down!”

Campbell was game and hollered back, “Come on; I’m ready for you!”

Clearly this was not the desired response and one of the bushrangers was heard to exclaim “Oh, that is it!”

Within moments the bandits set about gathering incendiary tools. Fire was something they believed had great persuasive power, and if it did not force their prey to bow to the demands it would teach a valuable lesson about dealing with the bushrangers. They set fire to the barn and it went up quickly. From inside his house, Campbell screamed at the bushrangers to free his horses. Spitefully, they refused to comply. As the flames leaped into the night sky, illuminating the house, the horrific cries of the horses emanated from the barn as they were burned alive. Not satisfied with such wanton cruelty, the bandits proceeded to set fire to a shed opposite the burning barn. Hall, Gilbert and O’Meally must have taken no small amount of joy from the terror they were inflicting upon the Campbells and they continued to mock them as they fired into the house.

Mrs. Campbell ran out of the safety of the house to rouse the workmen for assistance 150 yards away. She was unsuccessful and returned to her husband with a servant girl.

Outside, the gang moved behind a fence to admire their handiwork as the fires raged, the heat incredible and the glow brilliant. Hall and Gilbert continued to fire at the front door and taunt the Campbells, keeping low to avoid being targeted. O’Meally was seemingly entranced by the gang’s handiwork and stood up, watching the fire. Mrs. Campbell spotted him by his cabbage-tree hat, reflecting the glow of the flames. David Campbell ran to the end of the house and aimed at O’Meally then fired. While Campbell reloaded O’Meally fell, blood gushing from a wound in his neck. As the vicious brigand lay dying, blood spurting from the bullet hole, his companions dragged him to the cover of some oak trees. Gilbert and Hall, who only weeks earlier had been willing to brutalise the Keightleys and hold them ransom for hours in retaliation for Mickey Burke’s death, seemed unwilling to show any degree of loyalty to O’Meally. They rifled through his pockets, taking anything valuable, and even took a ring from his right pinky finger. The neck was rested on a comforter, the body was then covered in a towel and a woolpack (sleeping bag) and abandoned.

O’Meally’s death as portrayed by Patrick Maroney [Source: National Library of Australia]

With the firing having ceased, William Campbell headed off on foot to procure police. In the morning he returned with a constable and the scene was investigated. They found O’Meally’s cabbage-tree hat and carbine by the fence where he fell, then a trail of blood led them to O’Meally’s corpse. He was dressed in a corduroy jacket, buckskin, tall boots with long spurs, and three Crimean shirts. Inspecting the fatal wound, it was seen that there was a gaping wound in O’Meally’s neck where the shot had ripped through and smashed his vertebra. Blood was all over O’Meally’s neck and face. It was a grim sight, but a welcome one as far as the broader community was concerned. The body was examined then buried in an unmarked grave in Gooloogong Cemetery as it had not been claimed.

As much of a menace as the Hall Gang were, O’Meally was widely considered to be the worst of the bunch. To that point, O’Meally was the only member of the gang that was believed to have committed murder, that being the shooting of John Barnes near Wallendbeen. His aggressive and intimidating manner held many of his victims in a state of terror. The news of his death was welcomed by many in the Forbes district, with members of the community even coming together to write a letter of commiseration and thanks to the Campbells. Amelia also received a silver tea urn and silk cloth as gifts from the grateful people of Adelong.

Meanwhile, Hall and Gilbert were licking their proverbial wounds. They had not been injured in the fight but had been most resoundingly defeated. Yet, like the mythical Hydra, where one head was lopped off, two grew in its place. It did not take long for Hall and Gilbert to find replacements for O’Meally in the forms of John Dunleavy and Jim Gordon, nicknamed “Old Man”. This new outfit would be very short lived with Gilbert splitting off from the group after another gun fight, this time at the Bang Bang Hotel.