Spotlight: Committal of Power the Bushranger (18 June 1870)

Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 – 1918, 1935), Saturday 18 June 1870, page 19



Henry Power, alias Johnston, was brought up charged with highway robbery under arms, near Hooper’s Crossing on the Ovens, on the 7th May, 1869. Arthur Woodside, a squatter, detailed the occurrence. He deposed that he was on the road when the Bright coach was approaching the crossing. He saw the prisoner walk out of the bush with a double-barrelled gun in his hand and stop the coach. Witness rode up; but Power presented the gun at him and ordered him to dismount. Prisoner then told the driver to throw out the parcels, which was done. (Prisoner here told witness to speak up, and said he could speak loud enough when they had met on a previous occasion.) Prisoner, after making a Chinaman in the coach show his money, some few shillings, took witness’s horse, bridle, saddle, and spurs. Prisoner promised to return the horse, and did so about five weeks afterwards. The prisoner’s gun was cocked and capped. Witness offered no resistance. Edward Coady, coachdriver, stated that on 7th May he was returning from Bright to Beechworth. When about two miles on the Beechworth side of Hooper’s, the prisoner came across the bush, and, presenting a gun at witness, told him to ”pull up.” He then told witness to turn out the swag of gold he had on the coach. Told him there was no gold. Prisoner said. “Here’s another coming; don’t you stir.” When Woodside came, close, prisoner told him to pull up and dismount. Witness then pulled out some of the mail bags. Prisoner took one or two of them in his hand and threw them back, saying there was nothing he wanted in them. He did not open them. Witness then threw a paper parcel out. Prisoner broke the paper and threw it back, saying it was of no use to him. The Chinaman’s carpet bag was then thrown out by the owner. Prisoner opened the bag, looked at some of the things which were in it, but took nothing from it. Prisoner wanted to take the leading horse. He (witness) told the prisoner that the horse would be of no use to him, as it had not been broken in to saddle. Prisoner said that he wanted nothing from witness on that occasion, as whatever he (witness) had he worked hard for. Woodside got on the coach with witness, and prisoner told them that they could start. Prisoner rode off on Mr. Woodside’s horse towards the Ovens River.

The prisoner informed the magistrate that the gun was cocked, and entered into an explanation as to his having wished to purchase an oilskin coat and pair of leggings from the driver, which the latter refused to sell. He further stated that he told the driver that he would not take any money from him, as he (Power) knew that drivers earned their money hardly, as he did himself.

Power was next charged with highway robbery under arms from Thomas Thomas, at the Buckland road, on the 7th May, 1869. Thomas Oliver Thomas, storekeeper, residing at Wangaratta, stated that on 7th May, 1869 he was on the Buckland road travelling on horseback to Hooper’s Crossing. He was riding one horse and leading another, and when within about seven yards of him observed that the prisoner had him covered with a double-barrelled gun. Prisoner called out to witness to stop. Witness was on the point of going when prisoner called out “If you go, I’ll fire.” He (witness) then came towards prisoner, who told him not to come too near, and said that his gun could kill at 300 yards. Prisoner then asked witness what money he had. Told him first that he had none. Told him afterwards that he had a couple of notes. Prisoner said to hand them to him, which witness did. Prisoner then asked him what had become of the other fellow who was with him (witness). Told prisoner that he did not know. Witness then asked prisoner to give him one of the pounds back, as he had taken all his money. Prisoner said he would not, as he had just stuck up the coach and got nothing. He further told witness  to consider himself lucky that he did not take his hat and coat from him. In answer to the prisoner, witness said that he did not remember his asking whether he was a policeman or detective, or inquiring what he was doing off the road. Power then entered into an explanation of the circumstances that occurred, stating it was a matter of indifference to him what charges were brought, only he wanted to hear the truth spoken.

Henry Power was then charged with highway robbery under arms at the Buckland Gap, on 28th August, 1869. Edward Coady stated he was driving the Buckland coach from Beechworth to Bright on the 28th August, 1869. When going down the Gap, witness observed some logs on the road. Put his foot on the break to stop the coach, and pulled up, when he saw prisoner standing on the bank about five or six yards distant with a gun presented. Prisoner said that he thought he had seen witness before, and asked whether there were any constables on board, whether he had any firearms, and how many passengers there were. Told him that there were no constables or firearms, and that there were three passengers besides the boy. Mr. Hazleton, a passenger, turned out his pockets and produced some silver and a watch at prisoner’s direction. Prisoner told Mr. Hazleton to put his money and watch on the ground, and he did so. Prisoner told Hazleton to stand back, and came forward and took up the money and watch. Prisoner then told witness to turn out whatever money he had. Gave him a pocket-book and purse, in which were £2 13s. 6d. and a threepenny piece; the latter coin prisoner gave to the little boy in the coach. After emptying the purse, prisoner returned the pocket-book, containing some papers, to witness. Prisoner told the ladies to turn out. Both came out of the coach, and one of them, Mrs. Le Goo, handed her purse to prisoner. He opened it and took out the money, which amounted to 13s. She told prisoner that was all the money she had, and asked him for a shilling back to get a cup of coffee on the road. Prisoner returned her a shilling. Miss Hart told prisoner she had no money, and he took no further notice of her. At this time, another young, lady — Mrs. Boyd he believed was her name — came down the Gap on horseback. Prisoner also told her to bail up, and asked whether she had any money, and she replied that she had not. Prisoner said he did not know how it was that young ladies could ride round the country with horses and side-saddles and yet had no money in their pockets. Prisoner then said he would take the horse and saddle from her. Mrs. Boyd asked him if he would allow her to go back to her father’s on top of the Gap, and she would give him anything he wanted. Prisoner told her he would not, but that if she gave him £5 he would give her the horse. Mrs. Boyd replied she had no money. Prisoner said if she chose to borrow the money from the other ladies in the coach — he knew that the tall one had money — he would not ask where she got it, but would give her back the horse. Prisoner then said as it was a cold morning he had got a fire ready for them close by, at his camp. Prisoner then said he had a good mind to shoot him (witness). He inquired what for. Prisoner replied for speaking disrespectfully of him in Fisher’s bar. Witness replied that he had said nothing further than that if he met Power at a shanty or public house he would shout for him. The other persons then went to the fire, about a hundred yards distant, close to the road side, leaving witness on the coach. Prisoner stopped close to the coach and purchased a knife from a little boy, who also remained. He gave the boy a shilling for the knife, and the little boy offered him back the shilling if prisoner would give his sister (Mrs. Boyd) her horse. The prisoner smiled at this. The passengers then came back from the fire, and prisoner told him (witness) to turn out some of the mail bags, which was done. Mr. Hazleton told him that the bags would be of no use to him, as no money went that way, that all went by escort. Prisoner returned the bags. A man. on foot was at that time coming up the Gap, and on his approach prisoner told him to bail up and deliver up his money. The man put his hand into his coat pocket, when prisoner told, him to take it out, saying, “It was not there people were in the habit of carrying their money.” Prisoner then told the man to turn out his trousers’ pockets, which was done, but there was no money in them. Witness had his foot on the break all this time, and asked prisoner to allow him to take the coach further down the Gap. Prisoner gave him permission to do so. A Chinaman coming along was then stopped; then two drays were noticed proceeding towards where they were standing. Power told all who were standing round to keep still, or he would shoot them. When the drays, with which were two men, came near, prisoner ordered them to stop and deliver up their money. A man with a spring cart then came forward, and he was likewise stopped by prisoner, and told to give up his money. This man said, that he was a very poor man, and had not much money. Prisoner told him to get out of the cart, put his money on the ground, and then stand back. This was done. Prisoner then came forward and took up the money. Prisoner then said to witness that he must have one of his horses. He took a saddle and bridle from one of the drays that came down the Gap. Prisoner said that he must have the snip horse — the off-side wheeler from the coach — and told some of the men who were standing about to unharness the horse and saddle it for him. One of them led the horse to the prisoner after it was saddled. Prisoner led the horse about forty yards further off. He tried to get on the horse with the gun in his hand, but the horse would not allow him to get near it. Witness thought that prisoner then laid down the gun and tried to mount the horse but could not. Prisoner then said he would take the brown horse, one of the leaders. The horse was unharnessed and saddled and led away by prisoner. He got on this horse, and rode back to where the coach was, and told those assembled there they could start. Before starting prisoner gave Mrs. Boyd her horse, saddle, and bridle. Prisoner said that he would ride on ahead and stick up in front of the coach. He rode down as far as Rowe’s, and then turned back. When he met the coach on his return, he said to witness and the others that he had changed bis mind. That was the last witness saw of the prisoner. The coach was stopped about three hours.

Prisoner, on being asked whether he had any questions to ask witness, said no that all the driver had said was correct.

Wm. S. Hazleton, storekeeper, residing at Bright, and Ellen Hart, residing at, Wahgunyah, also gave corroborative testimony. Prisoner, to last witness : I never asked you for money. Witness : Yes; you asked me if I had any, money, and when I replied, “No,” you replied, “I don’t, suppose you have.” This closed the evidence in the third charge.

The prisoner was then charged with the highway robbery of John Hughes, on the 28th. August. John Hughes, dairyman, residing at Whorouley, deposed that on the 28th of last August he was traveling towards Beechworth. On coming near the Buckland Gap he saw the coach standing in the road and a number of persons crowding about. On driving up saw prisoner walking about with a gun in his hand. Prisoner ordered witness to drive on one side, and then told him (witness) that he was doing a little sticking-up business. He asked witness for money, and on being told that he had very little, prisoner cocked both barrels of the gun and ordered witness out of the cart, in order to see how much, he had. Witness got down and drew £1 18s. from his pocket, which he handed to prisoner. This witness corroborated the evidence of Hazleton and Coady. William B. Montford, sergeant of police stationed in Melbourne, deposed to the arrest of the prisoner in the Glenmore ranges as already reported in these columns.

In reply to the bench, prisoner said he had nothing to say to any of the charges. The prisoner was committed to take his trial on the first three charges at the General Sessions to be held in August, and on the fourth charge he was committed for trial at the Circuit Court in October.

The Ovens Spectator writes :— “It is not generally known, but it is nevertheless a fact, that about four years ago, when Power’s former companion, McKay, was arrested and placed in Beechworth gaol, he stated to one of the police officers that Power and another man were the murderes of Somes Davis, who disappeared so mysteriously about six or seven years ago, and that Power took the most prominent part in the foul deed. The information given was not sufficient for the police to act upon, and so the matter dropped. Among those, however, who made inquiry into the matter, suspicion was generally directed against Power and tho notorious Toke, of Mitta Mitta. It will be in the recollection of our readers that about six or seven years back, Somes Davis, a storekeeper and gold buyer, left Yackandandah in the direction of the Mitta Mitta, to buy gold, and he disappeared and was never seen again. From the marks of his spurs on the saddle, and from some other circumstances, it seemed as if he had been violently dragged from his horse, previously to his being killed. The rumor at first spread that Davis was still alive and was keeping out of the way of his creditors was soon disproved, as it turned out on his affairs being wound up, that he could pay a good deal more than 20s in the pound. His body never yet has been found, and the mystery has never been cleared up. If, however, McKay’s statement was true, Power has something more to answer for than all his known crimes.”

“It is alleged,” says the Kyneton Guardian, that the black tracker who led the police to Power’s retreat was no other than the man Kelly, who was so soon discharged after his arrest, in consequence of no one being able to identify him. If it had been reflected that Kelly was standing in the dock of the Kyneton Police Court between 10 and 11 o’clock on Friday morning, it would have been seen that it was a physical impossibility for him to have assisted in any way in the capture of Power, which took place, at half past 7 on Sunday morning, at a place over 200 miles distant from Kyneton. Kelly has never left Kyneton since his discharge. He has been seen about the streets every day, and he is waiting for his friends either to come for him — they, were expected last night — or to send him money with which to defray the expenses of his journey home.”

Spotlight: Apprehension and Robbery (21 May 1855)

Tasmanian Colonist (Hobart Town, Tas. : 1851 – 1855), Monday 21 May 1855, page 2

APPREHENSION OF ROCKY WHELAN. — The celebrated Norfolk Islander and bushranger John Whelan, was apprehended by constables Mulrenun and Gabriel, formerly non-commissioned officers in the 99th Regt. Whelan was in the act of purchasing a pair of boots from Mr. Gourney, of Liverpool-street on Saturday evening, when he was recognised by constable Mulrenan, to whom he was not unknown during his stay on Norfolk Island. He was not unarmed at the time of his capture, and was in no way short of cash.

HIGHWAY ROBBERY. — About 4 o’clock on Wednesday last, Mr. D. C. Brown, when riding within half a mile of Hadspen, saw a boy, son of Mr. Beams of that place, come out of the bush crying, who said he was driving a cart home when a tall well-dressed man made him go off the road, and robbed him of 17s. 6d. The man presented a pistol at him, and said if he turned his head round for the next twenty minutes he would shoot him. From the similarity of the description and the locality, this appears to be the same scoundrel who robbed Mrs. Dell about twelve o’clock on the same day. — Ibid.

Spotlight: Capture of “Thunderbolt’s” Wife (10 April 1866)

Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), Tuesday 10 April 1866, page 3


We have Sydney papers to the 4th inst. The following are extracts :–

CAPTURE of “Thunderbolt’s” Wife. — A short time since, a police party, consisting of senior-sergeant Kerrigan, constable Scully, a black tracker, and a volunteer – Norman Baton, went through the New England and Stroud district in search of Ward, alias Thunderbolt, and on Tuesday last, at a place called Pignabarney Creek, about thirty miles from Nundle, they sighted a half-caste woman with horse, saddle, bridle, and swag, and believing her to be Ward’s wife, they asked her where Ward was; she said she was “the captain’s lady,” and Ward had been chased two days previously by the police; that she had since been in search of him with provisions and was unable to find him in the mountains. Her swag contained a suit of man’s clothes and some provisions, and on the grass lay a child about nine months old, and by its side a shear blade, fastened to a long stick, with which she used to ride up to cattle and kill them when short of provisions. She was taken to Stroud (a journey, of three days) on horseback, and was there charged with vagrancy, having no fixed place of abode nor visible means of support. On this charge she was convicted, and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment in Maitland gaol. She stated that Thunderbolt had some time ago been wounded by the police with a bullet in the leg, and that his horse, since falling on him, had hurt the same leg so much that she did not think he could long survive; and further, that they had gone to where she was taken as a sort of refuge to be out of danger of capture, whilst he rested to receive the use of his leg. On the day she last saw him she had to lift him on his horse just as the police came in sight. The camp at Pignabarney was in a wild unfrequented part of the New England district, and fully twenty-five miles from any house, hut, or homestead. Two parties of police were still in pursuit of Thunderbolt when our informant left Stroud.

Robbery of the Up and Down Mails between Campbelltown and Wollongong.— We learn from a gentleman who arrived in town yesterday, from Wollongong, and who left that place by the Monday evening mail, that on reaching London Creek, some twelve miles from Wollongong, about one o’clock on Tuesday morning, they stopped to change horses. It was then discovered that the down mail from Campbelltown, with one passenger, had been stopped there by two armed men, with masked faces, at about ten o’clock the previous night. The fellows immediately seized the coachman, whom they bound securely hand and foot to a tree; the solitary gentleman passenger was served in the same way; and as if determined not to be baulked in their design of overhauling the mail bags, the ruffians also secured the groom in charge of the horses, and his wife, the latter being strapped tightly into a chair. This done all four were gagged, some rags and pieces of cloth being rolled up tightly in hard balls, and forced into the mouths of their helpless victims. The ruffians then lay in wait for the up mail, which, as already stated, reached the customary place for changing horses close upon 1 o’clock, there being eleven passengers by her, bound to Sydney. The night being beautifully fine and clear, one of their number alighted, and walked towards a man whom he saw standing in the direction of the stables. Without looking at the party addressed, he asked in a jocular tone if they had got any grog? The fellow spoken to immediately replied, “Go up into that corner and you will find grog there.” He hesitated, however, and looking up at his newlymade acquaintance, remarked “you’re surely joking,” which observation was followed in a commanding tone by an order to “get into the corner immediately, or he would blow his head off if he disobeyed.” Having by this time found out that he was in the hands of a bushranger, and that resistance was useless, the wayfarer yielded to his fate. The fellow then proceeded to make the passengers fast, as they had done the others, whilst his mate covered them with a loaded pistol. Subsequently, however, on the suggestion of one of the passengers, the highwaymen agreed to dispense with the bailing-up and gagging part of the proceedings, on condition that they would quietly hand over what money they had upon them, which they gladly consented to. The robbers thus got about £20 from the passengers, besides which they rifled the down mail, opening every letter and scattering them about the road. The up passengers – amongst whom were several Sydney gentlemen, the Rev. W. Curnow, Wesleyan minister, being of the number – were detained rather better than an hour. Before allowing the coachman to drive on, the robbers took a couple of his horses, which they mounted and rode off. Shortly after one of the stolen animals was recovered, some distance ahead on the road to Campbelltown. The animal being rather refractory, and ill to ride, it is conjectured his new masters were glad to get rid of him, lest his pranks might draw attention to them, and possibly lead to their detection. One of the highwaymen is described as being a tall, strapping young fellow, evidently a native, the other a short, thick-set elderly man, rather round-shouldered. Besides the pistols, the men were each armed with formidable looking carving or bowie knives, which they seemed quite disposed to use if necessary. Information, we understand, was given to the police at Appin, and also at Campbelltown, and the troopers, somewhat tardily, turned out and went in pursuit, with what success we have yet to learn.

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: Trial of Kavenagh.

Austral-Asiatic Review, Tasmanian and Australian Advertiser (Hobart Town, Tas. : 1837 – 1844), Friday 15 September 1843, page 4


Contrary to general expectation, it being now after two o’clock, Laurence Kavenagh was ordered to be placed at the bar, to take his trial for the robbery of the Launceston coach at Epping Forest. After some little delay, he was accordingly ushered into the dock, and a fresh jury was called, the other jurors being discharged altogether.

Laurence Kavenagh was capitally charged, under the colonial Act of Council, with robbing James Hewitt on the 3d of July last, being at the time armed with a certain offensive weapon, to wit, a gun — with puting [sic] the said James Hewitt in bodily fear, and stealing from him a watch of the value of 50s., and seven one pound promissory notes.

To this information the prisoner pleaded Not Guilty; in a very cool manner, and addressed the Court, requesting to have counsel assigned for his defence. He had no ways and means, he said, of employing one.

His Honor said that he had no power to appoint a counsel for the prisoner. He had read the depositions, and he did not see anything in them to justify him in doing so. It must not go abroad that, in all capital cases, a counsel was to be appointed. At Port Arthur, his Honor knew that, in all cases of murder, it was supposed that the Court would assign counsel to the prisoner; this was a common notion there. His Honor did not see he could appoint a counsel in the prisoner’s case, unless upon petition. The Attorney-General observed, that at home the Judge asked the counsel to assist a prisoner in his defence, if the Judge thought it was a case which required the aid of counsel. The learned gentleman stated, that on looking over the depositions in the recent case of the two boys who were charged with the murder of their overseer at Port Arthur, he had felt it his duty, as Crown prosecutor, to suggest the appointment of counsel, as he saw that points of law were likely to arise; but there was nothing, in the present case, to warrant such an appointment.

His Honor told the prisoner, that he did not think he should be justified in putting the public to the expense of assigning counsel to him. It would do him no good, nor the public either. In cases where points of law were likely to arise, or in which there was any difficulty, his Honor would always appoint counsel; but here there was nothing complex or ambiguous in the evidence, and it would be of no service to the prisoner.

The prisoner — As you think proper, your Honor.

The Attorney-General, after a short address, in which he explained the law of the case, under the Colonial Act, proceeded to call his witnesses.

James Hewitt, coachman to Mrs. Cox — Had seen prisoner at the bar before, on the 3rd of July, in Epping Forest, witness was driving the coach; Mr. Darke was with him on the box; it was about a quarter-past ten in the morning; there were three men came up, and desired them to stop; they were armed with guns; the prisoner at the bar was one of the men; he had a gun of some description; they came up in front of the horses, and desired witness to stand, and said they did not want to molest any one, only to rob them; they told them not to be afraid; the three men had their guns pointed from their shoulders; witness could not tell which of the three men told him to stop; witness stopped his horses, because he expected they would have shot at the horses, or something of that sort; the arms were presented at witness; the passengers were Miss Hilton, Mr. Darke, and Mr. Jacobs, who with Mrs. Cox, was inside; witness was ordered off the box; he came down, because they presented their arms at him; they robbed him of his watch; they asked him for what he had got, and witness told them they had better take it themselves, and then they would be sure of it; witness let them take his watch, to save further bother; witness expected that if he had not let them take the watch quietly, they would have taken it by force; he was afraid to refuse; they took £7 in notes, and a watch; the watch from his fob, and the notes from his breeches pocket; witness had no doubt the prisoner at the bar was one of those persons.

By his Honor. — The prisoner stood guard at the side of the road, when witness first saw him; this was after he (witness) got off the box; they made no threat, but told witness to stand, which he instantly did.

Mr. John Charles Darke was passenger on the Launceston coach in Epping Forest, on the 3rd of July; Hewitt was driving it; a man made his appearance in front of the coach, armed with a double-barrelled gun; the prisoner was that man; when he got to the horses heads, he desired the coachman to stop, when two other men came out of the bush; one of the other men desired them to get down; the prisoner told them to stay where they were, until he had ascertained who were in the coach; Hewitt got down from the box; witness saw one of the men take something from Hewitt, which witness thought was money; the double-barrelled gun appeared to be presented at witness and Hewitt, on the box. The prisoner at the bar said, “I dare you to stir; don’t stir, or I will shoot you.” His gun was then pointed to witness and Hewitt; the gun was under his arm, not to his shoulder; witness had never seen the prisoner before, nor either of the other two persons; witness had not the slightest doubt that the prisoner was one of the men; he knew him the moment he saw him in the jail; he (witness) never looked through a hole in his cell, to identify Kavenagh.

By the prisoner. — You were carrying the gun with the butt-end to your arm pit; I never came to look through the cell; the gun was a double-barrelled gun; I am quite sure of that; when I heard that one of the bushrangers was wounded, I thought there were strong doubts whether they were the party that robbed the coach, and I went to the gaol to ask Mr. Capon about it, as I was about to leave the colony.

By His Honor. — Mr. Price addressed the prisoner as Kavenagh, but this was after I had recognized him; I recognized him going up the stairs, before he was brought into the room.

By the Attorney-General. — The moment I saw him I knew him, as one of the men who robbed the Coach, but did not know his name till Mr. Price addressed him.

Prisoner. — Pray Sir, did you come free to the Colony?

Witness. — I did come free into the Colony.

By His Honor. — I knew him by his face, his figure, and his voice.

By a Juror, (Mr. Carter). — He had not the same dress on when he robbed the Coach as he has on now; he had on a drab coat.

Mrs. Mary Ann Cox corroborated the testimony of the other witnesses, as to the stopping of the Coach in Epping Forest, by the three men, the prisoner at the bar as one of the persons who stopped it; she was quite positive he was one of the men. This being the case for the prosecution, his Honor intimated to the prisoner that this was the time for him to make his defence. The prisoner bowed, and spoke as follows:— I have seen a good many scenes of misery in my time; but what I saw at Port Arthur beat all. There is one circumstance that I feel bound to mention. I was driven to a place of worship by the lash of the law. My own prayer-book was taken out of my hand by the Superintendent, and I was forbidden to read it under pain of severe punishment. I do not blame the Superintendent; it was not his fault. But I put it to any conscientious Protestant in this Court, whether he would like to be driven to a Catholic place of worship, or punished for going there! All men are not of one mind at Port Arthur. There are some men who forget that they have been men. I have not forgot that. I flew from Port Arthur on this account, at the hazard of that life I am now about to forfeit. While I was in the bush, I would rather have been shot than have fallen into the hands of the Government. But I fell into a mistake; for since I have been in custody, I have been treated well (with emphasis), and I am very much obliged to the gentlemen for their kindness and attention.

Gentlemen, after I went into the bush, and when I was under arms, I committed no act of violence or cruelty, and did nothing but what became a man. I did no violence to anybody. Stains of blood we always avoided — both me and my companions; and if I have been unfortunate, and done wrong, thanks be to God I have no stain of blood upon my hands! If I abstained from violence, it was not because I expected any mercy while standing at a bar like this. I did not surrender through any exportation of mercy, but through a feeling that I had in my own breast, having met with an accident. I would have pleaded guilty to this charge, only I was accused of having used violence, and violence I never used to any one; but if I came against armed men, I would stand against them the best way I could; but as to using violence against an unarmed man, or an unarmed party, I would not be guilty of so cowardly an act. I have nothing more to say, your Honor. I have no witnesses.

His Honor addressed the Jury; he explained in his usual lucid manner, the nature of the charge against the “poor man” at the bar, and the fatal penalty attached to its commission. Upon the evidence little was said, as it was explicit, plain, and incontrovertible. The defence set up by the prisoner, his Honor observed, was being forcibly driven to a place of worship contrary to the tenets of his own religion, and this was the only defence; but it touched not the duty of the jury, neither had they any evidence of such a fact; yet if that was the case, it was most detestable and cruel tyranny, and an instance of bigotry against which his Honor, for one, would most resolutely set his face. Why the prisoner should have stated this circumstance, his Honor did not know, unless it was to excite the compassion of the jury; but their duty was plain and straightforward, and must be performed without favour or affection.

The jury retired for about twenty minutes, and then returned a verdict of Guilty.

The prisoner was then remanded, his Honor deferring his sentence, but affording him no hope that the capital part would be abandoned. The many outrages committed by the prisoner and his companions, and the anxiety and terror which they had caused in so many families, rendered an example necessary. His Honor was glad to see the prisoner in a state of mind so favourable to the reception of that religious instruction and consolation which would be abundantly afforded him. He earnestly hoped that such a state of mind was sincere; and although his Honor could not deny that the prisoner had used no violence, yet no mercy could be extended to him on that account.

The trial lasted but a very short time, and the prisoner throughout preserved a demeanour cool, firm, and collected; there was nothing of the bravo about him, and he appeared fully aware of his situation; he expected no mercy — and he asked for none; and he delivered his defence in a style of natural but simple eloquence which was extremely affecting. He related the cruel treatment which he had received at Port Arthur, with an expression of indignant feeling, which to our minds carried a conviction of its truth, while he avowed his abhorrence of bloodshed, with a fervor which evinced his sincerity. He was dressed in a long dark great coat, and had his left arm in a sling; he appeared, otherwise, in good health. He is rather a good looking man, with an expression of vivacity and intelligence on a fair countenance. We need scarcely add, that the Court was crowded throughout the whole day. — Colonial Times, September 12.

Spotlight: Cash & co. rob a coach in Epping Forest.

Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), Thursday 27 July 1843, page 2

THE BUSHRANGERS. – Cash and his party, about ten o’clock on Monday morning last stopped the Launceston coach on Epping Forest. They came up in a direction from the South Esk River, by a by-road which leads to one of Mr. Gibson’s farms. They desired the coachman to stop, and all bands to alight. Mr. Jacobs said to Mrs. Cox and another lady inside, “don’t be frightened, these men won’t hurt us.”
“No, no,” said Cavanagh, “we are not the men to hurt the women – let’s see what you have got,” and Jones proceeded to search all hands, but used no violence, only asked them for their watches and money. Jones stood by and took the booty whilst the others stood near and watched. They were all well armed ; one was without his hat, and neither had a knapsack. Jacobs gave Jones his purse with four sovereigns in it, and a valuable watch and chain ; Jones then asked Jacobs for the key of his box, which was on the top of the coach, unlocked it, and examined it, and called out “Martin, do we want any clothes?”
“Oh, never mind,” said Cash, and Jones only took out of it a pair of trousers ; he took Jacobs’s hat from his head, and tried to put it on his head: Jacobs said, “Give us that back, it won’t fit you.”
“No, no,” said Jones, “that won’t do.”

Mrs, Cox gave him her pocket-book, in which were some notes and papers ; she said, “give me my book and papers,” some of which had dropped out with a pound note on the ground ; he returned the book and papers, and she said “Why you are more frightened than us, you have dropped a pound. Pick it up and keep it, you are so civil; why what a miserable life you must lead.”
“Miserable, be d—d,” said Cavanagh ; he then took a pound note from Miss Hilton; two pounds from Mr. Darke; and seven one pound notes and a watch from Hewett, the coachman ; searched the residue of the coach, then asked how far it was from Thornhills, and made off the same road they came ; the coach drove on, and soon after met a police party from Campbell Town – so that there is every possible reason to believe, one being without his hat, that they had been closely, and were closely pursued. The above facts have beep sworn to at the police office. – Hobart Town Advertiser

The Midlands Highway as it runs through Epping Forest towards Cleveland.

The Araluen Escort Robbery

By March 1865 the Hall Gang were struggling. The murders of Sergeant Parry and Constable Nelson had elevated these highwaymen to murderers and thus the hunt for them had ramped up. Because of the lowered success from highway robbery, the gang decided to take a crack at the big game: a gold escort.

In 1861 Frank Gardiner had successfully robbed the Orange gold escort at Eugowra Rocks. Among his gang were members of what would come to be popularly known as the Gilbert Gang, then later the Hall Gang. While Hall’s involvement in the heist is questionable, Gilbert’s was undeniable and thus it is possible that it was his idea to attempt another escort robbery in the bush at Araluen. Araluen, near Braidwood, was outside the gang’s usual beat, but its gold diggings were yielding much treasure even though most of the other goldfields had stopped rewarding diggers. The gang’s plan seemed to be as simple as ambushing the escort in the bush en route from the diggings. To achieve this they had to recruit at least one man more for the job.

Historians have debated over who the mysterious fourth gang member was, but there are two leading theories. The first is that it was up and coming bushranger Thomas Clarke, whose stomping ground encompassed the very spot where the heist was to happen. Clarke, despite being the popular suspect as far as the police were concerned, was not known to have worked with the gang on any other occasions, nor indeed with any of the other notable bushrangers in the region apart from those in his own gang. The second, most likely theory, is that it was Daniel Ryan, a friend of John Dunn with a criminal history of his own who went unaccounted for at the time of the robbery. While he wasn’t positively identified at the time, he was later arrested for his suspected involvement with the gang.

The gang descended upon Paul Burke’s Jinglemoney station on the Sunday night and swapped their horses for three of his. With fresh horses at the ready the gang headed for their point of attack at Major’s Creek. The hiding place the gang chose was a large, hollow tree at a bend where four paths converged. Two years previously a gold escort had been attacked in a similar fashion. The gang were equipped with a sledgehammer, an axe and a chisel to enable them to get the lockbox open once they had it in their possession.

Just after 8:00am on 13 March, 1865, the wagonette carrying the gold from the Araluen diggings left on it’s journey to Braidwood, rattling along the road. Riding ahead of the escort was a man named Payne who worked for a company called Rodd and bros. Unfortunately for Payne, he was bailed up by Gilbert who kept him covered with his Tranter revolving carbine. Payne was ordered to dismount and stay quiet as he was taken to the gang’s hiding place. With Payne’s being horse unrestrained, it naturally wandered off. Soon others were added to the collection of prisoners: a man named Nairn, another named Griffin, and a woman named Mrs. Jonas. The prisoners were restrained and kept on an embankment between the gang’s horses and the road. While held prisoner, the captives got a good look at their captors. Gilbert was in control, calling the shots to the other three and interrogating the captives regarding the escort. Hall remained, as always, quiet and subdued. Dunn concerned himself with preparing for the incoming escort while the mystery man kept well back from the group with his face hidden behind a red scarf or handkerchief. Gilbert declared to the captives that if the driver of the coach were to be unarmed he would not be targeted.

As the gang went about bailing up travellers, a local splitter noticed what they were up to and upon finding Payne’s horse, mounted up and went straight in to Major’s Creek to report the activity. This news quickly spread and within minutes a posse of thirty armed men had gathered and begun heading towards the scene of the crime. Unfortunately by the time they would reach the spot it would be too late, though they would gather more to their number as they passed through Araluen.

The wagonette bearing the gold was being driven by a man named John Blatchford, a gold buyer and owner of the vehicle, and was being escorted by constables MacEllicott, Byrne and Kelly, and Senior Constable Stapylton. Byrne rode abreast of the escort, acting as a kind of pilot. In the lockbox stored on the coach was 1,900oz, or £4000 worth, of gold.

Blatchford’s wagonette carrying the gold, as depicted in ‘The Legend of Ben Hall’.

At ten o’clock the escort descended into the bend. When the escort was within four yards of the gang, heading up to the ridge, Constable Byrne was allowed passage, however Gilbert ordered the others to open fire on Constable Kelly, who was shot in the chest above the heart. It was estimated that eight shots were fired, two striking the coach, two striking Stapylton’s horse in the rump. The firing spooked Kelly’s horse and it bucked the rider off before galloping away back the way the escort had come. Likewise, the coach horses became spooked and tore away from the escort. Blatchford lost his balance and tumbled from the vehicle, also receiving a bullet wound when one of the projectiles ricocheted off the wagonette. Constable Byrne managed to halt the coach as it climbed the rise. He then proceeded to set up a spot next to the wagonette from which to defend the gold.

Illustration of the attack by Braidwood artist George Lacy. [Source]

Kelly remained wounded on the road as Blatchford attempted to fetch the fallen constable’s horse. Kelly used the strength he could muster to call out, “for God’s sake, Mr. Blatchford, don’t leave me here to die!” Blatchford helped drag Kelly to the embankment and propped him up before grabbing the terrified horse and riding it full pelt back towards Araluen.

Daniel Ryan fires at the wagonette in ‘,The Legend of Ben Hall’.

With Constable Kelly down for the count, and Blatchford riding away, the remaining police dismounted and crept into the bush in an effort to flank their attackers. Gilbert ordered the gang to double back to their prisoners. Payne asked if anyone had been injured, which Gilbert responded to by stating that the gang were fine but the police were “bloody well licked”. The gang continued over the embankment and mounted their horses to pursue the runaway coach, one of Burke’s greys in exchange for Mr. Nairn’s horse. Gilbert barked at the gang to hurry but Hall’s stirrup leather had fallen out and he was attempting to fix it. As this was transpiring, Stapylton and MacEllicott had dismounted and come up behind the bushrangers. They opened fire and a shot from Stapylton nearly clipped Gilbert’s ear, to which he called out “That was a bloody fine shot, mark that man!”

The bushrangers locked on to Constable Byrne and rode furiously towards him but realised that the spot where the coach had come to rest was too open and would leave them vulnerable if they attempted to grab the lockbox. They cut their losses and bolted without the booty. They left behind their “safe-cracking” kit and a shotgun worth £30 with a broken stock.

Blatchford’s flight had not merely been a terrified escape. He stopped at Mr. Nelson’s and gave instructions on how to retrieve Constable Kelly, then continued into Redbank where he went straight to the telegraph office and reported the attack to the Braidwood police. It had only taken around twenty minutes for him to accomplish the task. As soon as the news reached Braidwood, the police geared up and took off with Superintendent Orridge leading the way.

Orridge and Dr. Pattison were the first to arrive in the scene and they retrieved Constable Kelly and rode him back to Norman’s. Pattison immediately went to work, noting that despite there being two bullet holes in Kelly’s waistcoat there was only one wound. The bullet that had struck Kelly passed through his body without hitting any organs before lodging at his back just below the skin. Dr. Pattison extracted the bullet straight away. The wound was, fortunately, not life-threatening but just in case Rev. O’Brien was sent for.

The community was up in arms over the affair and in particular over the shooting of Constable Kelly, who had been serving in the New South Wales police for three years. This was his first time on escort detail for the Araluen line and would have been his last action as a New South Wales trooper as he was due to head to Queensland to be with his parents.

As for the bushrangers, the failure seemed to do little to deter them from crime and very soon they would re-emerge to continue their nefarious trade. Little did they know that things were aligning to bring in new legislation that would be known as the “felons apprehension act”. This act would enable the government to declare certain individuals “outlaws” and deny them access to the protection of the law. Anyone could shoot them for the reward money and not suffer any negative consequences.

It was only a matter of time before their days on the run would come to an abrupt and violent end.

Spotlight: Ben Hall’s Gang, December 1864

The following detailed depictions of the final form of the Hall Gang give an intriguing insight into the state of the trio in the period between the murder of Sgt. Parry and that of Const. Nelson. The incident is almost farcical in the sheer scale of the roundup of prisoners (typical of this gang) and the gang appear quite weathered by their criminal lifestyle. There is some discussion of the gang’s own account of what happened at Black Springs, which brings an interesting insight into their attitudes about the events. As none of the gang ever wrote letters or memoirs that have been made public (Hall was illiterate) reports like these are our only insight into their lived experiences. Criminal or not, they had a story to tell and it’s a shame that only one member of the Gilbert-Hall Gang (John Vane) lived long enough to record his memoirs.

Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Tuesday 20 December 1864, page 3


LAST Saturday morning, about ten o’clock, as two of Mr. Frederick Taylor’s sons (George and James) were riding from the Fourteen to the Sixteen-Mile Road, a horseman rode down the side of a steep range and told them to “stand,” but at the same time telling them not to be frightened but to come along with him. This was the notorious Dunn, who led his two young captives up the hill, where just over the brow of which were already twenty prisoners congregated under the guard of Hall and Gilbert. The robbers, had chosen their ground admirably; for the captives were so seated that the top of the hill intecepted their view of the road, and the three highwaymen kept just so far down the “off” side of the hill, as to render their horses invisible to passers by. The first person that they, stopped was a storekeeper from Young, named Henry; this was before six o’clock; then another storekeeper named Conley, both of whom they searched, but found nothing upon them but cheques and silver, which they returned. Soon after a lot of diggers and others were brought in. At about, eleven o’clock, Dunn expressed a desire for something to eat, when Hall told Mr. Henry to fetch six or seven dozen of eggs out of his cart, so that all hands might have a feed; meanwhile another man was sent to fill a large “billy” with water; a third was told to make a fire, boil the eggs and roll them out. Gilbert produced some bread, which he divided as far as it would go among all who would accept it, and a hearty meal was the result. Thus matters jogged on for hour after hour, Dunn and Gilbert alternately and sometimes together topping the hill, riding down its declivity, and shortly reappearing with more captives, until at about three o’clock p.m. there were not less than forty prisoners. Any man that had a poorish look or in diggers’s costume was not searched, but was simply told to keep quiet until the gold buying banker from Young passed, and then all hands might stop and see the fight with his escort, or go where they liked, but those who appeared at all like storekeepers were closely watched. It was now four o’clock, and the banditti appeared to wax wrathful at the non-arrival of their longed-for prey — their impatience testifying itself by great restlessness and almost incessant gazing up the road. Suddenly Hall exclaimed “where’s that — boy who was just now sitting there.” At the same time he and his confederates sprang up and commensed hunting about for their late captive, when Gilbert said “by — he’s slithered; come on lads, we’ll take the Young road for it, and see if we can’t meet the — gold buyer.” Whereupon they all jumped on their horses, and after telling all hands to go where they pleased, galloped down the hill and along the road towards the Flat. My informant, who is a very intelligent young man, and who was for six hours a captive, during which time he paid the greatest attention to all that the gang said and did, says that Gilbert and Dunn seemed very cool and jolly, whereas, Hall’s manner was rather serious and anxious. Gilbert and Dunn’s waistcoats were festooned with gold watch-guards, and their general appearance was that of flash well-to-do young stockmen; but, on the contrary, Hall had a quiet and respectable air — by wearing nicely-shaped high boots and a well-fitting pair of brown cord pants, with fashionably cut cloth coat and vest of the same colour, and only one gold chain, and not much of that to be seen. Were I to tell you half of the robbers’ conversation it would occupy too much space, but what I’m about to state you may rely upon as being unexaggerated truth, that is, that it was really said. Respecting poor Parry’s death, Gilbert remarked that he (Parry) fought unfairly, for after he had shouted ” I surrender,” and he (Gilbert) had ridden close up to him to receive his arms, that Parry fired slap at him, whereupon he shot him. Hall said that O’Neill fired one shot, flung his revolver at their heads, at the same time loudly exclaiming “I surrender.” Likewise, Hall said that constable Roche acted the wisest part of the three, for he did just what he (Hall) would have done had he been a trap, he bolted. Mind you, I do not say that poor Parry, or O’Neill, or Roche really acted thus, but that the bushrangers said they did is perfectly true. Gilbert has not the fresh, clear expression of countenance he used to have. His features are now much embrowned by the sun, and the skin in many places is peeling off. He, in the course of conversation, admitted that he bad not long returned from Queensland, and that when there he was three times chased by the police; and furthemore, that on one of these three occasions, upon his horse knocking up, he jumped off and challenged his two pursuers to come on, whereupon they halted and jawed a bit, and then turned tail. Hall is the only one of the three who cultivates any moustache or whiskers, and he is getting fat. Of his two companions in crime, one wears his hair so long as to touch his shoulders, and the other has it in short crisp curls. They all once or twice stated that they were determined never to surrender, but to fight to the last. Each had six large-sized revolvers in his belt. — Yass Courier.

Portrait of Ben Hall made posthumously, but closely resembling descriptions of him during the time described in the following reports.

The Burrangong Argus gives the following account of the affair:—

BUSHRANGERS ON THE DIGGINGS.—Gilbert, Hall and Company have been again very close to Young; exhibiting that coolness and effrontery for which they have long since been notorious. The following are the particulars of one of their escapades in this neighbourhood:— On Saturday morning last Mr. John McLachlan, the news agent of Young, was, as is usual with him on Saturdays, on his way to the Rushes, and had arrived between the Fourteen and Sixteen Mile Rushes when be heard a horse galloping behind him, and on turning round be discovered tbat be was chased by Johnny Gilbert, who called on him to bail up. McLachlan said be had only a few shillings, to which Gilbert replied “Never mind, come with me.” He asked McLachlan if that was not his name; whether he had any firearms ; and what time the bankers would pass that way? Arriving at the outlaws’ “Camp” Mr. McLachlan found about eighteen persons, young and old, in durance ; some of whom had been kept there since daylight in the morning; and among the prisoners was a butcher (Mr. Archer’s partner) who had been laid violent hands on while driving out meat to his customer. During the time he was kept a prisoner, the meat was spoiled; and Ben Hall said he was worse off than any of the others. The bushrangers devoured eagerly the news brought by Mr. McLachlan; and Gilbert, after digesting the contents of the morning’s Argus, asked for a Sydney Mail, which having conned over for a short time, he told Hall that some fellows were sticking up in disguise near Mudgee, and he wondered who they were. About this time arrived Mr. Taylor, store keeper, of the Sixteen mile, and when he hove in sight Ben Hall fetched him in. Mr. Taylor offered his money; but as it was only silver, the bushrangers would not take it. Dunn caught sight of a nugget ring on Mr. Taylor’s finger, and tried for ten minutes to take it off. He could not succeed, however, and Gilbert told him to shove it back; on which he desisted. Mr. Henry, storekeeper, was the next addition to the company. Hall ordered Gilbert to go after Henry, as he was the man who had followed them with a gun at Possum Flat, some two years ago, when McConnell’s store was stuck up. This last arrival also had only silver in his pocket, but his cart was freighted with eggs and butter, tea, sugar, and a 4lb loaf. The “grub” as Gilbert called it, was very acceptable to all hands, especially those who had been there since early in the morning. One of McLachlan’s newspapers was turned, for the nonce, into a butter dish; three or four billies full of eggs were boiled, and every one was satisfied; and all the bread and butter had vanished; Gilbert remarking that Mr. Henry’s liberality was so well known that he would not object to having his eatables made free with. A man from Mr. Pring’s station was next on the list. He had a nine pound cheque, but stowed it away; and it was not discovered. Ben Hall remarked that Pring was one of his greatest friends. Mr. Connolly, baker and storekeeper, joined the crowd next; but he, like the rest, did not much enrich the robbers, having only silver which they wouldn’t take. They questioned each storekeeper narrowly about the bankers. Taylor and Henry told them the bankers would not be there, whereupon Hall rather despondingly observed “then there will be no one shot to-day.” The company at last numbered thirty ; and about three o’clock in the afternoon, one of the diggers told the bushrangers he thought a boy had got away. This intelligence created no small excitement. Hall and Dunn made a strict search for the missing boy in the gully but could make nothing of it; and Hall, then wanted to know who had put it into the boy’s head to run away. Hall said if he could find out, he’d take care, whoever it was, should never do the same again. By this time the bushrangers thought it was time to break up this camp meeting; and, previous to giving the word of command to disperse, Hall harangued the diggers. He told them they were too officious in assisting the “bobbies”; and that if they continued the same course of conduct, he would have no mercy on them whenever they might come into his clutches. The bushrangers then all mounted their horses; and told their captives that they were free, and might now run as fast as they could to the nearest police station and give information. This closed the seance, and the crowd dispersed. Connected with this affair, we may mention that Mr. W. R. Watt, on his way to Young, was showing a person the way to the Sixteen mile Rush ; when on sighting the diggings, be pointed them out to the man, and parted company with him. This man in two minutes time rode right into the bushrangers’ camp, and was made prisoner. From him they took a bridle, giving him an old one in exchange, which was all they appropriated of anybody’s property, besides a whip of Mr. Bremlin’s. One of the diggers had a pound note; being he said he wanted to buy a pick and shovel, they let him keep the money. While reading the newspapers, one of the miners read the inquiry into the conduct of Constable Roche; Ben Hall said Roche ought to be shot for deserting his mates, and that as for O’Neill he was a rank cur. The three spoke in the most contemptuous manner of Sir Frederick Pottinger — Hall saying , that he (Sir F. P) had had two or three chances at him, but he would take care not to give him another. The above particulars we have from persons who were present. It was currently reported early this week that the bushrangers were dancing at Bramler’s, at the Seven mile, on Saturday night. They seemed annoyed at not meeting with the bankers, and evidently had taken that road with the express purpose of sticking them up. Mr. Watt had a narrow escape. He could not have been more than two or three hundred yards distant from them, but they did not see him. Had they made him prisoner they might possibly have exacted a pledge from him not to retire from the contest for the Lachlan district.

Harry Power at Buckland Gap

While Victoria was home to plenty of bushrangers of various ilks, there was one highwayman that stood head and shoulders above the rest – Harry Power. The curmudgeonly crim was responsible for a huge number of robberies on the roads, though he never had much luck in bailing up wealthy people. Perhaps his most productive day of robbery was one he undertook in Buckland Gap towards the end of Winter in 1869.

The area Power camped out in at the Buckland Gap was right in the middle of the road that coaches and travellers would take when travelling between Bright, Beechworth, Bowman’s Forest, Buckland and Whorouly among other surrounding towns – perfect positioning for an enterprising highwayman. On Saturdays the farmers would frequently pass through the intersection en route to market, and the nearest homestead was a quarter of a mile away from Power’s camp, allowing him the freedom of relative isolation.

Harry Power [Source: SLV]

Edward Coady was an experienced coach driver, but even the most seasoned veteran might have gone their entire career without ever encountering a bushranger. In May he had been bailed up by Harry Power when he was taking a coach from Bright to Beechworth. Power had interrupted the journey near Porepunkah and demanded gold, but there was none to be had. The passengers were subjected to demands for payment, a Chinese man receiving particular scrutiny from Power who had an aversion to his people. In the end, Power stole a horse from a passing squatter and took his leave, allowing the coach to continue on.

On Saturday, 28 August, 1869, Edward Coady was given a new assignment. He was to drive the Buckland Mail to Myrtleford via Bowman’s Forest. The journey began routinely enough at around 6:00am. The coach trundled along its usual route with its cargo of passengers – a servant girl, Ellen Hart, employed by Mrs. Hay of Myrtleford; Mrs. Le Goo the wife of a Chinese storekeeper in Buckland; and William Hazelton, the Bright storekeeper who took position on the box seat. Part way through the journey the coach stopped at the Gap Hotel. Here the passengers were joined by the young son of Mr. Holloway, the proprietor of the Gap Hotel. The coach soon took off again, mailbags jostling and jumping with every curve and bump along the way. Riding close behind the coach was Mr. Holloway’s daughter, Mrs. Boyd, who had joined the group at her father’s pub. As the horses pulled the coach down the Buckland Gap towards the forest, about 4 miles from Beechworth, suddenly the path was impassable. The horses pulled up and Coady peered down where he saw three large logs laying across the road. He had scarcely any time to think before a voice boomed from the scrub with a slight Lancashire accent, heavily inflected with an Irish brogue.

“Bail up!”

Harry Power emerged, brandishing a double-barrelled shotgun, with two pistols tucked into his belt. He stood slightly less than average height at 5’6 1/4″ tall, and was covered in scars. Beneath his crumpled felt hat his hair flicked out in greasy silver shocks. His face was mostly beard, but when he spoke one could glimpse his mangled and missing teeth, stained yellow, and blackened gums from excessive pipe smoking. His bright blue eyes peered out from behind crow’s feet and a heavy brow as he levelled the shotgun at Coady. The occupants of the coach were ordered to disembark and stand by a fire the bushranger had set up. As they complied, Power demanded the captives take out their valuables and place them on the ground. He scored a gold watch and 4s 6d from Hazelton, £2 16s from Coady, and 13s from the storekeeper’s wife, though he did give her a shilling back so she could buy a coffee down the road. Power was not convinced that the woman had surrendered all her valuables and suggested that if she was not forthcoming he would strip her naked to find her hidden treasures. The terrified woman stood fast by her assertion and it was only the intervention of the other victims that caused Power to relent. Perhaps noticing that Miss Hart was a servant, Power did not bother to get her to turn out her pockets. Finally, he took a penknife and comforter from Holloway’s son but gave him 1s 6d in payment for them. As for Mrs. Boyd, she could not comply with Power’s demand for cash as she had none. Power was unconvinced, stating that a woman riding a horse with a sidesaddle and saddlebags worth upwards of £14 is unlikely to be strapped for cash, then elected to take her mount instead. Mrs. Boyd begged to be allowed to keep her horse and gear, even suggesting she could ride back to her father’s hotel and get him anything he liked if she could keep them. Power refused to bargain with the distressed woman and stated that she could borrow two pounds from one of the other women, whereupon it was brought to his attention that he had just robbed them. Mrs. Boyd’s brother, young Holloway, offered to give the money Power had given him back if the bushranger would allow his sister to keep the horse. Power was amused by the display of solidarity but refused the gesture. Hazelton had, by this point, had a gutful and informed Power that Mrs. Boyd was indeed a poor woman and the gear on the horse was won at a raffle, not purchased outright. The heated exchange was suddenly interrupted by the arrival of a rider, to which Hazelton snidely remarked, “Here’s a haul for you.”

Re-enactment of the Buckland coach robbery. [Source: The Bushranger Harry Power Tutor of Ned Kelly by Kevin Passey and Gary Dean]

The rider was promptly bailed up and made to turn out his pockets. When the man reached for his coat pocket Power cocked his gun, stating “It is not there where people are in the habit of keeping their money.”

At this juncture Coady asked Power if he could move the coach as the incline it was stopped on was putting undue strain on the brakes. Power consented to this and ordered Coady to deliver up the mail bags for him to take away and rifle through at his leisure. On second thoughts, Power decided he wasn’t inclined towards potentially stealing letters from the poor and told Coady not to worry about the mail, to which Coady responded that it would have done him no good anyway as letters carrying money were transported by escorts.

Soon more travellers came along the road and were halted by Power. As before, the victims were made to stand by the fire and place their valuables on the ground. With the cooperation of his victims, he was able to take £1 16s from a Whorouly dairyman named Hughes; 17s 6d from a Bowman’s Forest local named Rath; and a saddle and bridle from a man named McGoffin (or McGuffie), who was in a spring cart on their way to O’Brien’s Station from Buffalo. A local miner was bailed up but managed to retain the two ounces of gold he had concealed in a pocket in his coat.

For the next three hours, Power kept eleven prisoners under his command by the fire, occupying their attention by spinning yarns. He gave Coady an earful, claiming he had half a mind to shoot him as he had heard that Coady had been “blowing” in the bar of Fisher’s Commercial Hotel, Beechworth, about what he would like to do to Power. He also mentioned that he had been intending on bailing up James Emptage, a colleague of Coady’s, but as Emptage had been driving much too fast, he had not had a chance to stop him. Despite the number of people at his mercy, none attempted to overpower him. Power eventually grew tired of the work and had returned Mrs. Boyd’s horse, but needed a good mount. Power attempted to take the snip horse from the Buckland coach (the horse on the offhand side closest to the wheel). The horse bucked and refused to allow the bushranger to prepare him to ride, to which Power replied by striking the animal repeatedly with the butt of his shotgun. Power then took the lead horse (named “Little Johnny”) from the coach, equipped it with the stolen saddle and bridle, and disappeared into the bush. He would be spotted near Stanley at 4:00pm. Dazed and confused by the bizarre turn of events they had just experienced, the victims slowly began to return to their conveyances, counting their blessings that things had not escalated.

Views of Beechworth (Detail). [Source: The Leader, 05/05/1894: 31]

When news of the bail ups reached Beechworth, Sgt. Baber launched a search party to head to Bowman’s Forest to find Power’s trail. Alas, as was a common problem, there were not enough men to get a reasonable sweep of the area and thus Power got away without a care.

[Source: Ovens and Murray Advertiser, 19/10/1869: 2]It was not long before the government, frustrated by Power’s ability to avoid capture, offered a £200 reward for his capture. Power was now officially in the big league but his reign would not be long for this world.

Morgan and the Magistrate

After his release from prison, the man known as John Smith was compelled to head to the Ovens district in compliance with his parole conditions. He never arrived. Instead, he travelled through Victoria and New South Wales as a tramp, picking up odd jobs where he could, usually shifting or breaking in horses, for which he had a natural affinity. He assumed many names and in time his true identity was forgotten. It was years before he would re-emerge with a new trade and a new name: Dan Morgan; bushranger.
Morgan ventured into New South Wales, where he soon teamed up with a man known variously as “German Bill” and “Flash Clark”. The man who would become Morgan’s off-sider was as much a mystery as his confederate. Likely he was one of the many visitors to the colony that had headed to the goldfields in search of fortune but only found disappointment. Perhaps it was destiny that brought these two mystery men together, but the pair seemed to have a common desire to take to bushranging for excitement and easy money, rather than desperation, which was worryingly common in the 1860s. The success of the gold rush had made highway robbery surprisingly lucrative as a career and many young men saw it as a preferable alternative to backbreaking labour.

The first confirmed offence by the pair was the sticking up of two young men who were taking their horses to a race meeting. Subsequently, the pair were connected to a series of other robberies throughout the Riverina. Always on the move, the bushrangers utilised abandoned huts in the bush and natural structures such as caves, particularly around the Piney Ranges, or built themselves shelter out of bark and saplings. Armed with pistols and shotguns, and mounted on grey horses, Morgan and his mate quickly established themselves as a public menace.

On 20 August, 1863, police magistrate Henry Baylis was riding along the road from Bullenbong to Brookong Station in order to attend court in Urana when he encountered the two bushrangers. Due to his position as a magistrate, Baylis regularly ventured between Wagga Wagga, Urana and Narrandera to perform court duties. Upon seeing Baylis, Morgan and Clarke attempted to bail him up, armed with pistols and double-barrelled shotguns. They were on foot, their horses evidently hitched nearby. The bold magistrate was not one to be waylaid by bushrangers. He turned and took off back through the bush, one of the bandits, likely Clarke, firing at him, until he found a small camp a couple of miles away. A drayman, to whom the camp belonged, seemed rather surprised by the arrival and queried as to whether Baylis had been accosted by two armed and mounted men in the bush. Baylis replied in the affirmative. The traveller elaborated that the figures were none other than the notorious Morgan and his mate, who he had encountered the previous day. Morgan had procured an axe from the drayman to use in cutting down telegraph poles. As if on cue, Baylis heard the sound of hooves and spotted Morgan moving through the bush on a grey horse. Baylis dug his spurs in and took off through the scrub, the ground perilously soft after recent rains. Morgan and Clarke gave chase. Baylis was knocked out of the saddle multiple times by rogue saplings that brushed against his mount, but he managed to regain his seat, hurtling through the bush for a mile and a half. The magistrate’s reluctance to be bailed up seemed to signify to the bandits that he must be carrying a good haul of cash or valuables, and his haste in attempting to evade them only served to excite the bandits further, like hounds chasing a fox.

The superior mounts and riding abilities of the bushrangers saw them not only catching up to Baylis, but overtaking him and cutting him off with cries of “Pull up! Pull up! or I’ll fire!” They finally succeeded in bailing up the magistrate and held him at gunpoint, demanding he dismount and give up his money. Morgan appeared to have dropped his shotgun in the scrub during the chase but Clarke kept his trained on their target, one barrel had already been discharged but the other was cocked and ready. Baylis refused to comply with the demands. Morgan was impressed by Baylis’ pluck but chided him for his folly in trying to escape them and risk being shot. Baylis finally gave in and did as he was told. He handed over £4 and his watch with much chagrin. Morgan and Clarke were unconvinced when Baylis stated that he had nothing else of value. Morgan enquired as to his victim’s identity. When Baylis introduced himself as the magistrate of Wagga Wagga, Morgan was sceptical. Baylis went so far as to present a valise with official papers to prove the truth of his claim and Morgan was satisfied. He handed the money and watch back to Baylis and stated that as his goods had been returned he had not been robbed and therefore, he reasoned, one good turn deserved another. The request was that if ever the pair came before Baylis in court that he would be lenient. Baylis responded that he had to do his duty irrespective of the circumstances, which disappointed Morgan. Morgan respected the magistrate’s position, but asked that Baylis not make a report of their meeting. Baylis also refused to agree to this demand and was sent on his way without further molestation. As Baylis left, Morgan and Clarke cut down the telegraph poles with the stolen axe to stifle communications about the attempted robbery.

The parley had been in close enough quarters that Baylis was able to take in many details about the assailants. Morgan was about six feet tall with long black hair to the nape of his neck, and a long black beard. He had a sallow complexion and was incredibly lean of build. Baylis noted that Morgan was weak in the knees and looked as if he’d been gravely ill or injured from his stance. He was dressed in a drab overcoat with only the top button fastened and had on a cabbage tree hat. His mouth twitched and his hands were shaky and when he spoke he did so in a slow drawl, which Baylis took to be an attempt to hide his nervousness. Clarke he would describe as a stout man of thirty-five years dressed in a cabbage tree hat and black overcoat with a short beard of a light colour. Both men appeared to be quite nervous, but Morgan was better at hiding it, Clarke trembling violently as he kept Baylis covered. This was hardly the image of two bold outlaws, but rather a pair of nervous and timid men who seemed increasingly unsure of how to approach their situation. Certainly it shows no hint that Morgan was a maniac who would kill and torture for his own amusement as many would later claim from second and third hand accounts.

Baylis continued his ride to Brookong Station where he gained a fresh horse and rode of to find police. He made a report and formed a posse to capture the offenders. In the party were Constable Brown, Constable Charlton and Sub-Inspector Morrow. The following day they set out and searched the surrounding bushland for clues, focusing on the areas around Mittagong and Urangeline. It took several days of searching before they found the first signs of where the bushrangers had been. On 26 August, stumbling across the remains of a campfire with a billy can full of tea, the police discovered the mia-mia where the pair of bandits had been staying. Comprising two forked saplings as support beams for another sapling against which bark sheets rested, the empty lean-to allowed the police to lay in wait for the offenders to return in relative security. Here they found supplies and items belonging to the bushrangers such as Morgan’s black and red-striped poncho, a Bible, blankets and rugs, as well as items that were more than likely stolen, ranging from bottles of gin to a silver snuff box.

When Morgan and Clarke returned, they kept their distance, walking barefoot around the camp, and watched the police in case they were noticed. Constable Brown was the first to notice the sounds of movement in the scrub outside. Baylis scoffed and stated that it must have been a possum, though he would later turn the tables in his memoirs, claiming he was the first to notice the footsteps and it was the others that insisted it was a possum. Baylis went outside to investigate. Two shots were fired from the scrub without effect and Baylis called on the bushrangers to surrender. The offenders refused and a shoot-out began, Baylis opening fire on Fancy Clarke.

In the chaos Baylis was injured, a bullet from Clarke striking his right thumb and ricocheting back to hit him in the right breast, where it passed through his body obliquely to the left side, exiting by his left shoulder blade, and getting tangled in his shirt. A shot from Constable Brown struck Baylis’ sleeve and when Morgan suddenly appeared he fired close to Baylis’ face, singeing his eyebrows and blackening his face with gunpowder. Baylis succumbed to his injuries and collapsed. Morgan and his mate scampered into the darkness, chased by Brown and Morrow, but Clarke had been injured in the firing. It was unclear whether the wound was the result of police fire or friendly fire, though it would later be asserted that Morgan shot his mate as a distraction, despite him helping Clarke escape, which would have slowed him down considerably. Brown and Morrow lost them in the darkness and doubled back to assist the wounded magistrate. Baylis was evacuated and taken for medical treatment.

It wasn’t until the following morning that Constable Brown was able to reach Wagga Wagga to alert people of what had happened. That same day, the Gilbert-Hall Gang struck Hammond’s store in Junee, causing panic in the district. The era of the bushrangers was now in full swing in New South Wales, and what would follow would be nearly a decade of intense lawlessness never seen before or since in Australia, or perhaps indeed in the British Empire.

Henry Baylis wearing his bushranger medal and lucky chain fob containing the bullet that passed through him.

Fortunately, Baylis’ injuries were not ultimately life threatening, though severe, and could be operated on. When his coat was removed, the bullet that had put a hole through him tumbled out of the sleeve. Baylis would later have it turned into a chain fob and wore it as a lucky charm. He suffered intense pain from the wound for years after the battle, even suffering bone fragments working their way out of his body as late as June 1866. The wound would cause him trouble for the rest of his life and he was eventually paid compensation by the government for his injury. However, the initial payout in 1876 of £1500 was argued over for some time and the respective committee decided to reduce the payout by £300 in order to discourage other people that had been injured in the line of duty from seeking a payout. Beyond this, Baylis was presented with a bravery medal for his actions. Baylis continued to perform his duties as magistrate, but he would never have to worry about Morgan or his mate coming before him in court.

Things would not go so well for Morgan and Clarke. Mortally wounded, Clarke was not able to travel far. In a panic, he told Morgan that he wanted to turn himself in. Morgan slung his wounded friend onto his horse and rode to the Mahonga Run. There Morgan tried to make his friend comfortable as he died in the bush. A severely decomposed body was allegedly found on the run two years later, still wearing the same black coat as Fancy Clarke.

Morgan was beside himself and began looking for answers. He settled on a shepherd named Haley. He suspected Haley had supplied the police with the information that allowed them to find the camp. When he located Haley the day after the battle, he shot him in the back, perforating the shepherd’s lungs. Haley would never recover.

In response to the events, a reward of £200 was offered for Morgan’s capture on 31 August. Morgan’s crimes would quickly escalate over the following two years to include three murders and multiple counts of arson and robbery. Morgan’s mastery of the bush and horseriding meant that he was easily able to avoid capture. In the end his biggest vice, alcohol, would lead to his undoing at Peechelba station.

Morgan as he appeared in later life.