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

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


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

Spotlight: Bushrangers in court in Bathurst (13 April 1865)

Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Thursday 13 April 1865, page 2


MONDAY, APRIL 10, 1865.

(Before His Honor Judge Wise.)

Crown Prosecutor, E. Butler, Esq. Barristers, W. B. Dalley, J. L. Innes, and E. Lee, Esqrs. Attorneys,

Messrs. James and McIntosh.


James Mount alias Gordon alias the “Old Man,” and James Dunleavy were charged with, on the 7th day of July, 1861, assaulting and robbing William Brandon, and taking from him a quantity of letters, the property of himself and another.

Mr. Dalley applied for time to plead on behalf of Dunleavy, which was granted.

Gordon, after having objected to be arraigned by any other name, pleaded guilty. His Honor reserved sentence.

Another count charged Gordon with having, on the same day, in the Half-way House, robbed Ebenezer Davis of £3, and with, on the same day, at the same place, assaulting and robbing one George Asmus, to both of which he pleaded guilty. He also pleaded guilty to having robbed, with fire-arms, on the 13th June, 1864, one Charles David Clements of a quantity of fire-arms and £2 in money ; on the 19th August, in the same year of having stolen horses, &c, the property of William Faithful Gibson ; and on the 22nd June, at Canowindra, a quantity of wearing apparel and £3 in money, from Joshua Pierce.


Sam Poo was indicted with, on the 18th February, at Barney’s Reef, shooting at one Henry Hughes, to prevent his lawlful apprehension. The prisoner remained mute, and would not answer the charge.

Wilson Ramsay being sworn said that the prisoner since his arrest had not to his knowledge spoken, but he had been told that he could speak English well.

John Duff deposed he knew the prisoner. Had spoken to him in English, and he had replied to him. He can speak English as plain as witness can.

It was therefore decided that the jury should be empanelled to try whether he was mute by malice, or by the visitation of God. The jury being sworn, Mr. Butler said that the only thing they had to try was whether he was wilfully mute or only unhappily so. He thought he could prove by various witnesses that the former was the case, and that he had only become obstinate.

Tommy Hoy deposed that he had a conversation with the prisoner on the previous day in the coach, both in English and Chinese, and he understood him.

John Duff re-called, repeated his former evidence. He asked him in English where he was going to, and he said if himself and his brother did not go on he would soon make them. Asked him where he lived, and he said, pointing down a log, “there.” This was in English. Told him he would fetch somebody to shift him. He said, “You had better not.”

Senior-constable Webb deposed that the prisoner had been in his charge. He heard him ask for a drink of water whilst on the coach, and he also spoke at his examination before the Bench.

Mr. Sub-inspector Davidson had never heard him speak.

Mr. Chippendall said that after he came into gaol he would not speak at all. Was informed he had eaten the food given to him.

Edward Clark deposed he had seen the prisoner in Mudgee, but could get him to speak. Had heard others speak to him, but he would not answer. He refused to take his food for some fourteen days.

Constable Burns deposed to his having spoken in the lock-up at Sofala, and also in the coach.

The jury retired for half an hour, and brought in a verdict of dumbness by malice.

His Honor decided that this was equivalent to a plea of not guilty, and directed the trial to proceed.

Another jury was therefore empannelled.

Mr. Butler, in opening the case, said that the prisoner was charged with shooting at Henry Hughes with intent to kill him, and in a second count with shooting to resist his lawful apprehension. The prisoner was arrested on suspicion of having shot constable Ward, but the evidence was not at present sufficiently complete to go on with that case. The Chinaman had been told by the police what he was arrested for, and he then shot at them, being well armed both with a gun and pistol, and it was only when knocked on the head with the butt end of a rifle that he was arrested.

Miles Burns deposed he was a constable in the Western Police. Remembered hearing of the death of constable Ward, about the 5th or 6th of February. Went out with senior constable Webb and another to apprehend a Chinaman. Was stationed at Mudgee then. Received information on 17th March that the Chinaman was about the town and went in pursuit with three others. Saw prisoner about fifty miles from Mudgee. McMahon was with him, the other two having taken another direction. A shot was fired and they saw him retreating. Called on him to stop but he would not. Did not see him till after the shot was fired. He was about sixty yards distant. Heard the shots passing over their heads. Fired at him and missed him. Chased him through the bush and met the others. Other shots were fired. Saw Hughes’ hat after the prisoner was taken. When prisoner was taken he was on the ground, taking deliberate aim at witness, when he knocked him over the head and stunned him.

Told him five or six times to surrender, as they were police. Found on him a powder horn, a large pistol, and a fowling piece. The pistol was loaded and the gun discharged.

Senior-constable Webb deposed he was with Burns when they went in search of the prisoner. Saw Ward when he was dead. Was not present when the firing took place.

Henry Hughes, a half-caste, deposed he was lately in the employ of Mr. Blakeman, being brought up by him. Was with the police when the prisoner was taken. He fired at witness, and the shot went through the rim of his hat (produced). The hole was not in the hat when this occurred. The hat was knocked off his head at about six yards from the prisoner. The other time he was fired at he was about twenty-five yards away. Whilst taking aim the last time constable Todd shot him, and Burns knocked him on the head. There was only one hole made in the hat.

Constable Burns was re-called, and in reply to his Honor reiterated his former evidence.

His Honor, in charging the jury, said that as the prisoner had been adjudged guilty of wilfully holding his tongue, and as others had said he could speak, the only course left open was to show them the evidence and leave it to them to judge whether he was guilty upon the first or second count.

The jury, after retiring a few minutes, returned a verdict of wounding with intent to kill. The prisoner, who appeared to be very weak and emaciated, was remanded for sentence.