An appeal is being made to the squatters of Riverina and Victoria towards the fund now being collected for the benefit of John Wendlan, who shot Morgan, the bushranger. Messrs Goldsbrough and Co, Power, Rutherford, and Parker and Ainslie, are interesting themselves in the matter. The owners of the Peechelba Station state that Wendlan has been in their employ for four years, that he had conducted himself to their entire satisfaction, lie is steady, and any fund collected for his benefit would be put to good use. He has, acting on the advice of the police, left the Peechelba Station, as he was in some danger from Morgan’s friends, who doubtless would be glad of an opportunity to avenge their comrade’s death. Wendlan only received L300 from the New South Wales Government, and he is now out of employment. It is therefore hoped that the squatters of New South Wales, Riverina, and Victoria will unite in aiding to set the courageous young man up as a farmer
Tumut and Adelong Times (NSW : 1864 – 1867; 1899 – 1950), Thursday 11 May 1865, page 2
Local & General Intelligence
The Araluen Escort Robbery. — Daniel Ryan, of Murrumburrah, lately arrested at that place, by Mr. Bray’s volunteer party, on a charge of being concerned with Ben Hall’s gang, in the attack on the Araluen escort, and who was remanded to Braidwood for identification, has being identified as being with the party on the Araluen mountain, and also when they stuck up Boyd’s store, at Tarago. — Goulburn Argus.
Expensive Gents. — The Yass Courier calculates that, during four years, it has cost the colony £200,000 to hunt Hall, Gilbert, and Dunn, in which all the efforts of the police have been ineffectual.
Captain Thunderbolt and his Gang. — The Tamworth Examiner says : — After various petty robberies this gang were surprised by the police whilst in possession of Mr. Walford’s inn at Millie. The police had been tracking them for four days, and reached Mr. Walford’s about an hour after the bushrangers had arrived there. The situation of this house is on an open plain, without a tree for miles in any direction. The bushrangers, four in number, were at the house, at the time, one being outside on guard, and on the latter seeing four men galloping across the plain to the house, a whistle was given to those inside, and all four came out to see who it might be. On learning that it was the police, they all mounted their horses, one of them holding up his revolver as a challenge to the police to come on, at the same time retreating from the house to the open plain at the rear. They had all drawn their revolvers, but the police, nothing daunted, gave chase, and came within firing distance a short way from the house. Tunderbolt fired the first shot, to which the police replied, at the same time endeavours were made to cut off the young lad from the rest of the gang, who seemed not to be so well mounted as the others, Firing was continued on both sides with great vigour, when a well directed ball from the revolver of constable Dalton, took effect on the young lad, entered the back and came out near the stomach. He fell from his horse, and Dalton shouted to constable Norris to take charge of him, while he went after the others. On leaving with that intention, he fortunately turned round and saw the young vagabond, while on the ground, presenting his revolver at him. He threw himself on his horse’s neck, and the ball luckily passed over him. Constable Norris came up at this moment, and again fired at the ruffian, the ball taking effect, having entered the jaw and escaped at the back of the neck. During the whole of the time constable Lynch was keeping the other three bushrangers at bay, and succeeded in doing so, notwithstanding that Ward, who was mounted on a fine chesnut horse, several times rode between the police and the youth, constantly discharging his revolver at the same time, in order to give his mate time to escape. He was, however, unsuccessful. About forty shots were fired by the police, and their ammunition was nearly all expended. After securing the youth, they proceeded a short distance after the others, but their horses were completely knocked up, having ridden them fully five hundred miles. The fight is described by eye witnesses as an exceedingly plucky affair, and highly creditable to the police engaged. The encounter lasted altogether about an hour, and the balls from the several revolvers flew about in all directions, one passing through the whiskers of one of the police, but not injuring him. The youth who was shot was at once taken to the inn, and a doctor sent for to Moree; but he is in a very weak state, and it is doubtful if he will recover. The head of the gang, who goes under the name of ‘Thunderbolt,’ is named Ward, and has been engaged in several robberies. He was at one time employed in breaking in horses at the Tareela station. The second is supposed to be a man named McIntosh, and is said to be a brother of McIntosh who was mixed up with Picton in a cattle stealing case some years ago. The bushranger who is shot is named John Thomson, a youth about sixteen years of age, and is described as a very dangerous vagabond. He had frequently expressed a wish to join the bushrangers. The fourth man is known by the name of ‘Bull’ or ‘Bully.’ Thomson and Ward are well acquainted with the part of the country on which they have been recently committing their depredations, and the former with his companions will doubtless make for his old haunts on the head of some of the creeks running into the Barwin, near Walgott. [Thomson has since died.]
Attempt on Wendlan’s Life. — Almost as might have been expected, the life of Wendlan, who shot Morgan, has become endangered through the spirit of revenge on the part of some of the scoundrel’s accomplices. A fellow named Thomas Maslen has been brought before the Bench at Wahgunyah, charged with threatening to avenge Morgan’s death by shooting Wendlan. He was found with arms, powder, balls, caps, and a bottle of strychnine. On Wednesday, Sergeant Hayes stated to the Bench that Maslen could be identified as an accomplice of Morgan, and the prisoner was remanded for a week. — Albury Banner.
A Good Chase and Capture. — The police in this colony have been so unfortunate in their attempts to capture the more notorious bushrangers, that the notion has become general that they are unequal to their duties. But such conclusion is very erroneous, as may be easily seen by reference to the list of captures recently made. The latest successful chase we hear of occurred at Uralla in the North. A man with blackened face robbed a shepherd’s hut, taking from him his only half-crown and everything else of value, and not for three days could information be conveyed to the police. There, however, two troopers started, and after riding 350 miles in five days, succeeded in surprising the robber with his mate in camp, and both of them were lodged safely in limbo. — Pastoral Times.
Morgan’s Legacies. — The PastoralTimes hears that Mr. Commissioner Lockhart is engaged in the district around Albury in trying to clear the country of the wretched villains who aided and abetted the recently slain murderer. Little mercy should be shown to those who, residing on Crown Lands illegally, gave shelter and food to Morgan while he went forth to rob and kill. It is to be hoped that the other Commissioners of Crown Lands in the Wellington districts, and the country where Messrs. Hall, Gilbert, and Co. carry on their avocations, will see that the powers invested in them are used to rid their districts of the aiders and abettors in these crimes.
The following account of the inquest of Daniel Morgan lays out what occurred at Peechelba Station in April 1865. One of the curious aspects of this recounting the end of Morgan’s life is the spelling of the name of the man who fired the fatal shot. Herein spelt “Windlaw”, he is more commonly known as John Wendlan or Quinlan. The lack of conformity in the spelling of the name in the press has produced much confusion as to what the correct spelling is. Overall, the inquest provides a fairly clear narrative of what transpired on that fateful day in April, and the subsequent letter paints a more vivid picture of how things played out. Reports such as this continue to prove invaluable to historians, both professional (academic) and amateur. ~AP
The inquest on the body of Morgan was commenced on Monday, by Dr. Dobbyn, the coroner, at the woolshed, Pechelba [sic].
Mr. Superintendent Winch examined the witnesses.
After viewing the body, the jury were taken to the spot where Morgan fell, and were shown as near as possible where Windlaw stood when he fired the fatal shot. They then adjourned to the parlour in Mr. McPherson’s house, where Morgan the previous evening had bailed up the family. On the previous morning, Morgan’s body was sewn up in a woolpack and brought into Wangaratta; and the head was cut off and a cast taken of it.
The following evidence was taken:-
Edmond M. Bond, Bunganwo station, King River, squatter. — Have seen the deceased. Recognise him as a man that I knew three or four years ago as “Down the River Jack,” alias ” Bill the Native.” Saw him at that time about a mile and a half from my paddock fence. I pursued him at that time, and fired at him, with a charge of shot, at his left arm ; he dropped a coat, which I afterwards picked up riddled with shot, and supposed from that I had wounded him. I identify the deceased by his general appearance.
Thomas Kidston, settler, Walbundra sta-tion, Billabong, said, — I have viewed the body of the deceased. Recognise him as a man that has stuck me up twice, and told me his name was Morgan. It was in October or November, 1863. He took a horse from the station. The second time was two months afterwards. I heard a shot near the house. Met the deceased, and saw a pistol, my property, in his belt,which he must have taken from my house. He admitted he had been in my house, looking for a revolving rifle. I have no doubt that the deceased lying outside is the man Morgan, who stuck me up twice. I have not seen him since. I know that a reward has been offered for the capture of the deceased man, Morgan, by the newspapers.
Ellen Turner, wife of Thomas Turner, labourer, Mulwala. — I have seen the deceased outside. I have seen that man alive at Dr. Mackay’s, Wahgunyah station, New South Wales. I think it was on the 1st February, 1865, that he was there. He came overnight, and remained there till morning, when I saw Mr. John Mackay’s rifle in the deceased’s swag. Mr. Mackay’s horse bolted, with the swag on him. The deceased carried away with him the rifle, a saddle, and a horse, and about £4 in money. I was in bed when he came, and did not hear him say much. Have no doubt that the deceased is the same man.
William Ariel, of Corowa, New South Wales, storekeeper. — I have seen the deceased man outside. I recognise him as the man that stuck me up at Wallandual, New South Wales, fifty miles from Corowa, on the 28th December, 1863. He called me out of the hut, and told me he wanted my cash. Told me to put it on the ground. Presented his revolver at me, and I put the cash on the ground. He said, “Now I want your watch.” I put that on the ground. He then said, “Now your ring.” He took that. I was hawking at that time, and the property he took amounted in value to £35. Have no doubt whatever that the deceased is the same man that I have referred to as having robbed me. I do not know his name.
Morris Brash, hawker, Beechworth. — Have seen the body of deceased lying in the shed. Recognise him as a man that stuck me up and robbed me about four miles from Wallan Wallan station, New South Wales. He took £4 10s. in money, and about £30 worth of property. This was in June, 1863. On the second occasion he stuck me up twenty-five miles from Wagga Wagga; then took £12 cash, and £50 or £60 worth of property. Am sure that the two robberies were committed by the same man, and by the deceased. Saw him next, at a distance, in February, 1864 ; and have not seen him since.
John Pickering Jackson, carrier, residing in Melbourne, stated. — On Friday night last I was about four miles on the Benalla side of Winton. I was walking alongside the horses when a man galloped up to the leaders, waved one revolver about, and presented it at me. He said, “Stop the waggon.” I stopped it. He said, “Cash, cash; I want your cash; quick, quick.” I said “All right.” He uttered no verbal threat. I gave him £7 under coercion. I have seen the deceased, and I swear he is the same man that committed the offence. Have no doubt about his identify. I noticed him carefully, and am certain he is the same man. He was riding a black cob — a sort of Arab breed. After leaving me he galloped forward, and stuck-up the next waggon.
Thomas Tuckett, carrier, stated, — On Friday night last I saw the deceased, about half past three. He stuck me up about four miles the Benalla side of Winton. He rode up on the near side of the waggon, pointed a revolver at me, and ordered me to stand. I pulled up the horses, and by his direction got off the waggon. He presented his pistol at me and demanded my cash, and all my jewellery, and told me to throw them on the ground. I threw down one pocketbook containing £7. He then asked me if I had any more. I said I had another pocketbook, containing three halfcrowns and a sixpence, and at his request I threw that down. He told me to get on the waggon, and as I turned round he demanded my watch, and at his request I threw the watch on the ground. I recognise the silver watch produced as my property, by a piece of string tied round the guard, and by the thinness of the case, and by the maker’s name, “Harrison, Liverpool.” l am confident that the man lying dead is the same that robbed me.
Ewen McPherson, of Peechelba station, squatter, stated, — About a quarter past six on Saturday evening I noticed the man now lying dead. I was sitting on the sofa in the room I am now in, with my family. I saw the figure of a man passing along the verandah. I called out to know what he wanted, and he walked into the lobby to the room door, and ordered me back, as I approached within three inches of him. As soon as he came in he said, ” I am Mr. Morgan. I suppose you have heard of me?” I said “It is all right : step in.” Immediately afterwards Mr. Telford and two men came in, and he ordered them up to the end of the room. He let me sit on the sofa. He ordered the girls in, and asked me if there was a man cook. I said “No.” He put no more questions. He stood against the check of the door. He had a revolver in his hand at this time. He remained in the room all night. He conversed with me about Round-hill. He said it was said he was drunk when he was at the Round-hill station, but he was the only sober man there. He said positively that it was he that stuck-up the Round-hill station. With reference to the shooting of persons at Round-hill, he said it was reported in the newspapers that his own revolver went off when he was mounting his horse, but it was not so. That Watson, the super, or some one in the shed, fired at him. He said he found the old pistol in the shed afterwards. He said Watson was catching at his bridle when he fired, shot Watson through the hand, and with the same ball broke young Heriott’s leg. He said he was sorry for that, and did not mean to shoot him. About shooting McLean, he said McLean asked his (deceased’s) leave to go for Dr. Stitt. He said he gave him positive instructions not to go to the police camp, saying, “I saw you there yesterday ; don’t go there.” He said McLean, after getting out of the paddock, made straight for the police camp. He called to him to stop and take the other road : but McLean did not do so, and he (Morgan) mounted his horse, followed him, and after calling several times to him to stop, put spurs to his horse, and shot McLean. He said he was not going the straight road to Dr. Stitt’s He said “To show you I was not drunk, after I had shot McLean I put him on a horse and carried him back to the station, and found young Heriott lying in mud, where he had left him,” and that he took him in and attended to him also. Deceased told me it was Sergeant McGinnerty’s revolver he had in his hand while in my house. He made no allusion to having shot McGinnerty. The revolver produced is the one deceased said he took from Sergeant McGinnerty, of the New South Wales police, and is the one he covered us with in the room. Deceased told me he was on the Upper Murray a few days before. He told me that two days before he was riding a fine racing mare worth 200 guineas. Deceased told me he was convicted in 1854, and sentenced to twelve years. He said he had been at Warby’s, and spoke of a mare in Warby’s stable, which he did not take, because her hoof was cracked. I understood from deceased’s conversation that he had lost his way coming from Warby’s, and that meeting the two men he brought them in with him. He (deceased) remained in my house till a quarter or twenty minutes past eight on Sunday morning. He then went out. I went out with him, and Mr. Robert Telford, my son Gideon McPherson, and two other men also, went with deceased. As we were starting deceased said he would have to press a horse from me, but that the horse would cast up tomorrow or next day. We all then walked down towards the stockyard. I asked Morgan how the horses were to be got in, and he agreed to let my son go for them, but when we got outside we saw the horses at the stack. The stack-yard is about 250 yards from the house, and we were within twenty or thirty yards of the stack-yard when, looking round, I noticed a number of men running down behind us. I was then close to Morgan’s side, and my son was on the other side of him. I stepped aside three or four yards when I noticed the men behind, and immediately after that I heard a shot fired, and deceased fell within three or four yards of me. A number of people came up. I saw Percy the trooper. He was about the first man up, and took Morgan’s pistols from him. John Windlaw told me that he fired at and shot Morgan. Windlaw has been a servant of mine for years. Deceased was then carried down to the woolshed. I heard deceased say nothing after he was shot. I was confined to the house by deceased from his arrival until we all went out together, except that he allowed me to go on the verandah once. I have seen the body lying in the woolshed, and identify it as that of the man who stuck me up.
George Rutherford, of Peechelba Station, squatter, stated, — On Saturday night last, about seven or eight p.m, Mr. McPherson’s nurse informed me Morgan had stuck them all up. I came up to the back of Mr. McPherson’s house, and found all the girls, with the exception of the nurse, in this room, I knew, as a matter of fact, that the place and inmates were stuck up, but did not know for certain by whom. I started a man with a note to Sergeant Montford, at Wangaratta, requesting police assistance. A party of volunteers arrived, with Constable Evans, and we concerted measures for capturing the man who had stuck up the house. I saw one person come out of the house in the morning, about eight a.m. I saw Mr. McPherson, his son, two other men, and Mr. Telford come out of the house. One of the two men was a labourer on the station, and the other was a man whom I supposed to be Morgan, and who is identical with the man now lying dead in the woolshed. I was at that time at my house, about 400 or 500 yards from here. I saw the five persons walk down to the gate, the now deceased walking behind the others. After passing through the gate, deceased came up between Mr. McPherson and his son. I saw a number of armed men running up from different directions towards deceased, and I saw John Windlaw fire at deceased from a distance of about forty yards. I saw the deceased drop simultaneously with the firing of the shot. It was arranged by Windlaw, myself, and Evans that Windlaw was to shoot the man that had stuck up the house, and whom we believed to be Morgan. It was not particularly arranged that Windlaw was to shoot the deceased, but that any of the men who had arms and got a chance was to shoot him. The directions given by Mounted-constable Evans in my hearing to the armed men were given under the belief that the man who was sticking up the house was Morgan, and that warrants had been issued for his arrest. I have read descriptions of Morgan in Government advertisements in the newspapers. I identify a portrait purporting to represent Morgan to be a likeness of the now deceased. I conversed with deceased soon after he was shot. He said he did not know me ; did not know Mr. Connolly. I asked him if he knew Mr. Warby. He said, “Yes.” I asked him if his real name was Morgan or Moran. He said, “No.” He then said, “Why did they not give me a chance? Why did they not challenge me?” I asked him which was his real name, Morgan or Moran? Deceased said, “No.” I have seen deceased, and he is the same man that I saw shot. Windlaw has been an old servant of mine. I saw five men, whom I took to be, and believed to be, police, coming towards the house before Morgan came out of the house. Constable Evans and another Wangaratta policeman arrived before the Beechworth police.
William Mainwaring, first-class detective, stationed at Beechworth, stated, — I was, with others, in pursuit of the deceased, supposed to be Morgan. I departed from Mr. Connolly’s on Saturday evening, my destination being this station (Peechelba). Was in company with Constables Percy, Hall, and Chilly. Before that I was with Superintendent Winch and Constables Nicholson and Ryan. First obtained information of this man about five miles on the Melbourne side of Wangaratta, and we tracked him on to Peechelba. We were bushed on the road, and arrived about seven a.m. on Sunday. About an hour and twenty minutes after we arrived I saw deceased come out at the slip-panel. I saw deceased shot by John Windlaw. He was the only person that fired at the time. I went up after deceased fell. I searched deceased, and Mounted-constable Percy found seven £5 notes and thirty-two £1 notes. I took from his left-hand trousers pocket a purse containing three £1 Sydney notes, a draft on the Australian Joint-Stock Bank at Wagga Wagga in favour of Charles Barton Pearson for £7, marked “A.” five sovereigns, and one half-sovereign. In his swag I found £6 12s. 9d., in silver. Percy handed me the watch produced. I saw Percy, when he ran up, draw one revolver from deceased’s belt and throw it over his shoulder. I had been out after the supposed Morgan since early on Friday morning, with Superintendent Winch, Constable Shoobridge, and the other constables before mentioned.
James Percy, mounted constable, stationed at Beechworth, stated, — I was one of a party of police who started in pursuit of the sup-posed Morgan. I went as far as Glenrowan when a man brought information to us that Morgan had just stuck up Warby’s station. We went to Warby’s, and found that the bushranger had started three-quarters of an hour before towards Connolly’s. We went to Connolly’s, and Superintendent Winch arrived shortly after, and ordered us to go to Peechelba. This was about four p.m. on Saturday. I reached this place (Peechelba) between six and seven a.m. on Sunday. We ascertained that Morgan was in Mr. McPherson’s house. We were going to the house, when a man ran out and told us to keep back. Mainwaring’s party, of which I was one, was here while Morgan was in the house. The first time I saw the deceased was when he was walking towards the stack-yard. Windlaw and I were close together, and as I turned to see where the others were I saw Windlaw take aim and fire at the deceased, and I saw deceased fall. Windlaw fired with a single-barrelled gun, at a distance of sixty paces. As soon as deceased fell I rushed on him, drew a revolver from his belt, and threw it away. The revolver produced is the one I took from deceased. Deceased’s left thumb was in his pocket, and some notes were sticking out. I saw the butt of the pistol sticking up at his left side, as he lay on his back. I took the two watches produced from deceased’s waistcoat. I handed the notes and property that I took from deceased to Detective Mainwaring. The pistols were loaded.
George Evans, foot constable at Wangaratta, stated, — I arrived at this place (Peechelba) about one or two a.m. on Sunday with two volunteers and another constable named Leverton. One of the volunteers was armed. We had received information that the station was stuck up. We made our way to Mr. Rutherford’s house with the help of a guide along the river bank. I stationed the men round the house. I, Windlaw, and Donald Clarke were stationed twenty or thirty yards from the verandah. We were there from 2.30 a.m. till near daybreak. I saw deceased shot, and I identify deceased as the man I saw shot. When day broke I shifted the men to the back of the house, and I afterwards saw deceased come out of the house. Deceased was shot by Windlaw.
John James Hallett, M.D. — I have made a post-mortem examination of the body of the man now lying dead in the woolshed at the Peechelba Station. I found the lowest of the cervical vertebras to be shattered, and the spinal marrow within, as a consequence, destroyed. I found that whatever may have caused his death must have entered just above the left shoulder blade. It was apparently a bullet wound. The edges of the wound were inverted. I traced the exit of the ball to a portion of the neck high up and under the chin to the right side of the windpipe. The wound of exit was a little more dilated than the wound of entrance, and was a little ragged. I consider the cause of death was the destruction of the spinal marrow, caused, I should suppose, by a gunshot wound. A man wounded like that, I should consider, would fall immediately, and might linger and live a few hours. No blood-vessels were destroyed. By the Jury. — I noticed a fatty tumour a little to the right of the centre of the back of his head.
Joseph Henry, duly-qualified medical practitioner, stated, — I assisted to make a post-mortem examination of the body outside with Dr. Hallett. I found the cause of death to be the fracture of two of the cervical vertebrae by a gunshot wound. Such a wound would cause a man to drop immediately, and he could not live very long.
Dr. Dobbyn, the coroner, was examined by Mr. R. W. Shadforth, police magistrate of Wangaratta. — Yesterday, shortly after twelve noon I arrived at Peechelba. I saw the deceased, who was then alive. I examined him, and found two bullet wounds — the entrance wound on the left scapula, and the wound of exit on the right side of the lungs. When I saw him first he was in a dying state, but quite sensible. I asked him if he was in much pain. He said, after some time, that he was choking. He died very shortly after. I examined deceased for peculiarities immediately after death. I had the body stripped. I observed that deceased was about five feet ten inches in height, of very spare build, had very long darkish brown hair; a fibrous tumour, rather larger than a pigeon’s egg, on the back of his head ; his eyes were greyish-blue ; he had lost the top joint of the third finger on the right hand ; and there were shot marks, or what appeared to be such, on the back of one of his hands. The most peculiar look of his face was his nose. He had several very small moles on his back, and a vaccination mark low down on one arm, six inches above the elbow. There was a small piece of nail growing over the top of the mutilated finger. The description of Morgan exactly tallies with that of deceased.
“That the deceased, whom we believe to be Daniel Morgan, met his death from a gunshot wound, inflicted by John Windlaw on the morning of the 9th April, 1865, at Peechelba station, on the Ovens River; and we further consider that the homicide was justifiable. We further consider that great praise is due to all concerned in the capture of the deceased.”
(BY AN EYE WITNESS.)
WANGARATTA, April 11. As a spectator at Morgan’s death, I have thought fit to send you my impression of the scene.
Peechelba station is twenty-one miles from Wangaratta. Being a friend of the families there, the messenger sent by Mr. Rutherford for the police aroused me near midnight on Saturday with the news—”Morgan is at Peechelba.” Mounted on a fast horse, I soon over-took the party of police, with two other men and the guide ; but we had not gone half-way when another party of four joined us. The messenger guiding, we were brought to a re-tired spot within a few hundred yards of Mr. Rutherford’s house, and here we dismounted ; while the guide on foot went to reconnoitre, and find whether Morgan had come down, and taken possession of it also. In the deepest anxiety we waited in the thick river-side scrub.
At last we heard persons approaching. We found these to be Mr. Rutherford and the guide, with the glad news—”Morgan is still at McPherson’s, and likely to remain there till morning.” We all left our horses, and went on foot to Rutherford’s house, and there, after much consultation, the armed men were distributed, and sent off to their respective stations round McPherson’s house.
It was about half-past two when the armed men took their places, while the unarmed remained at Rutherford’s. Three of these, I being one of them, sat in a room looking towards McPherson’s. It was an anxious time. We knew not when we might hear the report of firearms, for we feared that Morgan might attempt to drive his captives down to our quarter. We knew that he could not well go away, as his horse, and indeed all the horses, were in the paddock. We saw the lamp burning hour after hour in that distant house ; and there we pictured — as, indeed, had been described by the bold nurse-girl — the revolvers on the table, the sleepless, but sleepy murderer, and the innocent in-mates huddled together in the room. A brave Scot, D. Clarke, who had been the guide to the placing of the armed men, brought us tidings of the inmates twice through that strange night-tidings that all as yet was well, and that the ladies were in their bedrooms.
As morning broke we extinguished our lamp, to avoid suspicion, threw open the shutters, and then sat down to watch with anxious hearts. While it was yet scarce broad day, we saw a new lamp light, it was that of the hall ; and then a figure on the verandah, whom we judged to be Morgan. Soon the door closed. Then ever and again we saw the women servants going backwards and forwards from the house to the main building. After a while down came a man with pails in his hand, and a message from Mrs. McPherson from her bedroom to allow everything to go on as usual. So the hours flew speedily; and as the house was being lit up by the rays of the sun, one man went to milk cows, another to drive the horses to water, other two with a cart to bring in some mutton killed the night before — and all this in sight of McPherson’s house.
And how we watched that house so eagerly, for that door to open. “O God!” cries one of our party, “there moves these armed men at the fence” (it was a far better shelter, we afterwards learned). About eight, the door again opens. A man comes in his shirt sleeves ; walks in the garden; looks over the fence. It is Morgan! But again the door is shut.
But who is this coming down on horse-back, past McPherson’s house ; and who are these men in the distance, with glancing arms ? The man we find is from Wangaratta, and these are police just arrived, who take their station behind the house (McPherson’s). Well it was that a man had been stationed on the road from Wangaratta to stop any who might come that way, or there would have been a different tale to tell ; however, they were warned in time. Still the door remains closed. A scout brings in news that Morgan is at breakfast, chatting freely with his captives. Mr. Rutherford and his men go about as usual ; while we strangers, to avoid suspicion, stay within doors. It was nearing nine. On that lovely Sunday morning there must be death ere long, were our thoughts-of how many, who could tell? There must be blood spilt – whose we knew not. One thought of one, and another of another – of friends they loved. What was to be the end? Some dozen men, armed, were round that house – a cool, well-trained shot and cruel murderer within. The suspense grew terrible. The clock was about to strike nine, when the door opened, and one, two, three, four, five persons came out into the verandah. In Indian file they passed, Morgan last, through the gate, and evidently through the horses, now eating hay at the haystack. When they were half-way down we saw the three armed men moving at last, running stealthily-running from tree to tree — behind that man driving down his captives before him — little he knew who was behind.
We four now stood in the verandah. One of our party could not restrain the shout of cheer “Well done.” Nearer, nearer. Two are behind a tree. That string of men separate a little. A sharp ringing sound — some smoke — a shout. I ran, fleetest of our party, and I stood at the head of that man — his long black hair, his long dark beard, his keen, half-closed grey eyes, his arms lying still by his side, his mouth with warm blood frothing on his compressed lips — these are the lines of a picture which Time’s weird hand can never blot out.
A warm pressure from the hand of him whom I call my friend — the man whose life was in peril from the murderer’s — and from the avenger’s hand, this was all ; and I fled on speedy horse to the distant township, to hear the bells calling worshippers to prayer.
[The following is an article that was published in the days following the death of Dan Morgan at Peechelba Station. It recalls details of his life as regaled by those who knew him for better or worse, in an effort to record his depredations and decipher his wild life. ~AP]
It is nearly certain that the man known variously as John Smith, alias Bill the Native, alias Down-the-River Jack, alias Moran, alias DanielMorgan, was born of convict parents, going under the name of Moran and who resided, at the time of his birth, in 1831, at Appin, near Campbelltown, in the colony of New South Wales. The first, portion of his life appears to have been passed in a manner similar to that of other children and, for some time, he attended a respectable school at Campbelltown.
What we know, chiefly, of his very early life has been, at various times, derived from prisoners who had been in jail with him, and to whom he was occasionally — only occasionally — very communicative. He was, according to his own account, a very bad boy. His parents could make nothing of him, and his education was entirely neglected.
He had even then solitary habits, living in the bush, and subsisting on ‘possums, grubs, or whatever else he could find, for days together, Morgan described himself as always having a dread of darkness ; a dread that was not in the least dispelled by company. He always longed for daylight as for a friend. He was passionately fond of horses, and had an extraordinary and, from his own account, what would appear to be a mysterious mastery over them ; following, as a child, horses about the bush, and fondling them, until they would allow him to mount them bare-backed while feeding. These moments Morgan used to refer to with extraordinary pleasure when he was in a talkative mood. Without paying anything more of his characteristics, even as he himself described them to other prisoners, we will come at once to his known criminal career, premising that any reference we make to his motives or feelings, has been derived, as we said, from men who have been in jail with him, or with whom — and there are many of these — he has been on intimate terms in New South Wales. We attach no further importance to the narratives of such men than will be found to be confirmed by his life, and we omit many things that appeared to us to be evident attempts at romancing.
We first find him as a criminal — although, by his own admission, he had committed frequent crimes in New South Wales — attracted here by the gold fields, sticking up two hawkers close to Castlemaine, and, of course, robbing them, half shipping them, tying them to trees, and leaving them there until half dead from cold: They were found by. some passers-by in the morning. This is the crime of which he complains as having been unjustly convicted. He was on this occasion known by the police to be well aimed, and they surrounded a shepherd’s hut in the dead of night, to which he was tracked by one of the old black troopers, then a hanger-on to the Camp at Castlemaine. The shepherd afterwards described him as having a revolver in each hand, and swearing he would use them, but, on finding the party outside too strong to leave any hope of escape, he hid under the bed, from which he was dragged ignominiously. So bad a character did he bear with the police that, on taking him into Castlemaine the next morning, they handcuffed him to the front of the saddle, and led the horse on which he was mounted, and which was one he himself had stolen. The stolen horse, it appears, was a good one, having the foot of anything in his escort. Suddenly Morgan, alias ‘ Bill, the Native,’ stuck his heels in his horse’s ribs, and, with a shout that all horses understand, started away from his captors, endeavouring to guide him with his legs alone. The horse, probably not feeling the support of the bit, stumbled, and before he recovered a trooper, coming alongside of the prisoner, struck him with the butt of his pistol. Morgan fell over on the other side, and, between the grip of his knees and the handcuffs, pulled the saddle over with him. Then there was a painful scene, the horse in full career, and the man dragged by his hands at the horse’s hind legs until he had kicked the man and the saddle from him. In this daring attempt at escape he suffered severe injuries, for which he was for a long time under medical treatment, and from this moment may be traced his now celebrated expression of ‘flash Victorian Police.’ For the crime for which he was captured, and to his innocence of which attributed his subsequent ‘ down’ on society in general, he was at once picked out of a crowd of prisoners by each of the men whom he had stuck up ; and, by a, string of the clearest testimony that ever was produced in a court of justice found guilty, and sentenced to 12 years on the roads. In jail he never hid from his mates his being the perpetrator of the crime; but attributed his capture to the treachery of the shepherd in whose hut he took shelter ; his failure in his attempt at escape to the looseness of his girths and the ‘b—y flashness’ of the Victorian Police ; and his sentence to a want of knowledge on the part of the jury to the laws of evidence. This cut him more sorely than anything in his whole career to-think that a jury of his countrymen should not discover some flaw in the testimony, which he always proudly repeated. Previous to this conviction he as ‘Bill, the Native,’ was known as a notorious horse thief, and was the terror of horse owners in the neighbourhood of Avoca, where he used to live a lonely life in the Mallee scrub which then abounded there. He had several narrow escapes from the squatters, who frequently pursued him, and on one occasion he was raced for his life for several miles by two settlers, one of whom seeing that he was getting the best of him shot him in the knee.
This is a statement of his own to his fellow prisoners, He also, says and mentions the name, that he gave one squatter, whom he met by himself in the bush, an awful horsewhipping because ‘he made himself too busy ‘ about his own horses. In fact he appeared to think himself a very badly ill-used poor fellow because men would not allow him quietly to rob them. The particular trait in his character, that he always desired to excuse himself to those with whom he was present at the moment, is shown by the fact that even in jail, where he occasionally gave all the details of the Castlemaine affair, he invariably explained that he had left blankets with the hawkers ; quietly blinking the fact that he had taken all he could carry, and that the naked men, being tied to a tree, could not get at the blankets; which among other property useless to him, their own clothes for instance, he had left behind him. In prison he was very quiet and orderly, — was believed by officers and prisoners to be a determined but not desperately wicked man, and was a great mark for being drawn out of his solitariness to spin a yam of his bush experiences and bush crimes. He was sent from Castlemaine to Melbourne Jail, thence to the ‘ President’ hulk, subsequently to the ‘Success,’ and lastly to Pentridge. While working with a gang from the ‘Success’ at a quarry near Williamstown he lost the top of the finger, the absence of which has been one of his peculiar marks. The finger was jammed between a heavy bar and the stone they were lifting at the moment.
He was at work with the gangs on the day Mr. Price was murdered, and although his assistance was eagerly sought by the murderers he refused to have any complicity. It was, however, well known among the prisoners that he would have joined in any plan of escape, and, indeed, concocted a few. In all these matters, however, he was invariably solitary, lonely, and tried to make others his tools in the way of gaining information for his own ends. In June, 1860, he obtained his ticket of leave for the Yackandandah district, but never reported himself. As a matter of curiosity, we give his description as gazetted :— ‘Native of Sydney ; jockey; aged 29; height 5 feet 10 ¼ inches; complexion fresh, hair brown, eyes hazel, nose long, medium mouth and chin, small lump under left jaw.’
He was next heard of at the Howqua Station, near Mansfield, and afterwards crossed to the Buffalo, where he for some time hung about the stations on that, the King, and Upper Ovens Rivers, occasionally employed as a horse breaker, but always leading a most secluded life in the bush, not mixing with the men, and never courting the women. While in that part of the country, he was known as ” Down-the-River-Jack,” as a petty pilferer of the commonest necessaries of life, and as a horse stealer. It is believed that he was one of the men who stuck, up a digger’s hut at the Buckland about the time, and subsequently a man returning towards Wangaratta from the Myrtleford races. It was not until after the appearance of Gardiner in New South Wales, that he showed any signs of being the desperate character he afterwards proved, but during the period of Gardiner’s exploits, he certainly made his appearance on the New South Wales side of the river at Mr. Rand’s station, whence several horses were suddenly missed, and where he was found camped one day in Mr Rand’s paddock by that gentleman. Mr. Rand told him to be off, and the answer was that the station was his as much as Rand’s, and that if he talked to him again like that, he would blow his b— guts out.
It proved afterwards that this station and several others appeared rather to belong to Morgan — now ‘DanielMorgan’ — more than to anyone else, and Mr Rand had personally for a time to quit his in danger of his life. By pretending that he was ‘the poor man’s friend,’ and spending the fruits of his robberies pretty freely among shepherds and stockmen, almost all of whom in New South Wales sympathise with such a villain, he gained a most extraordinary influence. While in the Piney Range, Table Top, or Roundhill country, or on any part of the Billabong, he was looked upon with admiration and treated and sheltered as the most gallant and injured of men. His business at this time was horse stealing, in which, it being a congenial employment, he was assisted in every direction by the stock keepers, servants, bushmen, and others all over the territory. Soon too some of the squatters became, partly from terror and partly that they themselves might be free from his depredations, tainted with the prevailing sympathy.
At length in June, 1863, he commenced the real career of a highwayman by robbing mails and stations, having successively stuck up Walla Walla, Cookendina, and Wallandool, all in the same month. On the 21st of August he committed his first known capital offence, by shooting at and wounding, near Urana, Mr Bayliss, Police Magistrate of Wagga Wagga, whom he had robbed on the previous day after a severe race, and firing at that gentleman. When shot Mr Bayliss was camped with a party of police at night, in search of the very man who shot him. There was issued against him a warrant for the capital offence, and he was particularly marked by the police as a dangerous character. The reward of £200 was offered for his apprehension. It would be impossible in this short notice even to mention half the crimes he is known to have, or one hundredth part of the crimes and offences he is suspected to have committed, but among the more heinous we may mention the sticking up the Roundhill Station, owned by Mr Henty, in that gentleman’s absence. His first murder was here committed on Sunday, the 19th July, 1863, and curiously enough, and as will appear to many to be more than a coincidence, on a Sunday he met his doom. And here is the case in which the villain says he has been so cruelly misrepresented by the Press, as we had the affair from the lips of young Mr Heriot himself on the day following the outrage, while that, poor lad was lying wounded after the massacre : Morgan entered the station with a revolver in each hand, and four more ostentatiously displayed in his belt. There were present, Mr Watson, the superintendent, Mrs Watson, a Mr McNeil, a cattle dealer, Mr McLean, the overseer, and Heriot, a young gentleman from a neighboring station. He marched all the men out to a small shed, where they found eight or ten of the men already bailed-up, one of them complacently holding Morgan’s horse. He sent a servant girl in for all the gin in the house, and made those present drink six bottles, he, himself, scarcely tasting it, so that it is quite true that every one on the station was more drunk than himself, but he forgot to add that he made them so. When he was mounting to go away; Mr Watson incautiously said, ‘These are the stirrup irons you stole, Morgan ;’ and, being the writer of the following, we give the report as taken from Mr Heriot’s lips, as already stated ; that young man being then perfectly cool and collected although badly wounded :—” On Mr Watson making the remark, the ruffian coolly turned round in his saddle, took deliberate aim at Mr Watson’s head and fired. Seeing the deadly aim, Mr Watson involuntarily put up his hand, through which the ball passed, turning it probably aside, as it only touched his scalp. The wounded man ran behind the shed, and hid himself, but Morgan returned to the door of the shed, fired right and left, amongst the inmates, crying out, “Now,you b—— b——, clear out of this.” The first shot went through young Mr Heriot’s leg, between the knee and ankle, shattering the bone in pieces, and then hit another man’s leg behind, maiming him; but not, luckily, breaking the skin as its force had been spent. The men then all ran away in different directions, the poor wounded young man among them, dragging his broken leg after him for about thirty yards, when he fell from pain and exhaustion. In the meantime Morgan galloped after another man, across the yard, with pistol cocked, but the fugitive escaped through the kitchen. The horse stood fire well. Morgan then galloped back to young Heriot, dismounted, and put the revolver to his head (Mrs Watson, in the meantime, was running, screaming, and terrified about the yard). Young Heriot said, ‘Don’t kill me, Morgan, you have broken my leg ; ‘ and Mr Watson, who had also, seeing Morgan with a pistol to the boy’s head, come out of his hiding place, cried out, ‘For God’s sake, Morgan, don’t kill any one.’ The villain, who seemed to act with the inconsistency of drunkenness, or of a murderer gone mad, then cried out, Where are the d- wretches gone to?’ and swore a fearful oath that he would blow the brains out of every man on the station if they did not come to Heriot’s assistance. He himself knelt down, cut the boot off the wounded leg, and carried the unfortunate youth to the gate next the house. Two men then, frightened by his threats, came forward and he swore he would shoot them dead if they did not carry him in, which they did, and laid him on a bed. At this time, also, two men (one a half-caste aboriginal) who had not yet appeared on the scene, but evidently Morgan’s men, came up and remained on the ground while young Heriot was carried to bed, where Morgan cut off the other boot and sent a man to attend him. Seeing Morgan apparently relenting, as if satiated with bloodshed, Mr McLean asked him if he might go for a doctor. Morgan answered ‘Yes,’ and then for a short time regaled himself and his mates ; but apparently mistrusting Mr McLean, he followed him along the road, overtook him five or six miles from the station, and without ‘yea’ or ‘nay,’ coming close behind him, fired at him. The ball entered the unfortunate man’s back above the hip and came out close to the navel, and he, of course, fell mortally wounded.” For the first time the squatters and people were aroused to the danger in which they stood, and a party of volunteers, chiefly squatters, who knew every inch of the country, started in pursuit. This, together with the greater activity of the police, made that part of the country too hot for him, and he made for Tumberumba, and here his second cold blooded murder was committed. Sergeant McGinnerty, a man with a wife and family, was riding, along the road on the 24th July, with another trooper; not having heard (having been in the bush) of the Roundhill affair, when they saw a man riding quietly ahead of them. Not for a moment imagining who it was, they rode up to the horseman, as policemen will do, McGinnerty ahead of his companion. On coming alongside, and before a word passed, Morgan fired a revolver into McGinnerty’s breast, and the other policeman seeing him fall, bolted, or as he says, his horse bolted. Morgan robbed the dead man of his money, his arms, accoutrements, and horse, and laid him out on the road side, putting his cap in the middle of the road.
Again, on a Sunday night, Morgan inflicted a mortal wound on Sergeant Smith, of Albury, on the 3rd September, 1864, while the officer was camped with three other men on Morgan’s track. Poor Smith lingered for some time, but finally died of the wound at Albury. Of persons, well known in Beechworth, he has stuck up on the New South Wales side of the river, Mr Manson twice, Mr Braschs twice, Dr Mackay’s station on the Billabong once, Dr Stitt’s station at Walla Walla once at least; Mr Kidston’s station, by common report, constantly (but this has been denied by Mr Kidston on oath), and others, whose names we cannot recall at this moment. He wound up his career in New South Wales by sticking up the Sydney and Deniliquin mails, and by shooting an unfortunate shepherd in a most brutal and cowardly manner, of course, because lie had a ‘down’ on Society. And we are asked, after all this, to believe that this is the much-injured individual, who was so badly treated by being fired at for stealing horses on the Avoca, fired at again for robbing hen roosts, and stealing legs of mutton on the King River, but, above all, because he got twelve years for an offence, which he avowed he had committed, but in the proof of which this jail lawyer discovered a flaw.
It is hard to talk so of a man, who is dead, but not of a beast, who is dead. For some time he has been egged on by his mates in New South Wales to show the b—y newspapers, and the flash police here what he could do, but his own cunning for a long time resisted the temptation of the cowardly scoundrels, who dare not attempt it themselves, yet who thought that the name of Morgan would terrify the people of Victoria, as it did those of the other colony. At length, in a happy moment, but evidently after a mature study of the course he might best pursue, he crossed the river Murray to his doom. Our readers already know his short career here, and the manner in which he finally was disposed of, by the whole of the Ovens district being aroused to the danger of allowing the presence of such a visitant by the pluck of the people, men and women, at the station where he was to pass his last night in Victoria, and where he did pass his last night on earth ; by the persistent pursuit of the police, who had never given him a single hour’s rest, and by the courage of an Irish girl whose name, Alice Keenan, deserves to be immortalised. That Morgan was an extraordinary character is shown by his whole career, but that he had one single manly quality we utterly deny. He cared more about being the talk of a few bad men than :f gaining the admiration or love of one woman good or bad. He never desired the society of the fair sex, or sought it except in the spirit of bravado, and had he had that one redeeming quality he must have been a much worse or a much better man. His fellow prisoners say that in any talk about women he took no interest, but in any conversation about crime he was immediately excited. His head, which has been sent by the police to Melbourne, will show, if there be any truth in phrenology, Locality, Music, Destructiveness, (immense), no Veneration, no Benevolence, Combativeness and Self-esteem large, but Caution larger, and a total want of Amativeness or Philoprogenitiveness. We cannot absolutely tell what Morgan would have been in a fair fight, even for his life, but he never sought a fight of any kind, and was altogether about the most selfish, cold, calculating, and cowardly scoundrel, of whom we ever remember to have heard. He was perfectly cool where he thought he was perfectly safe, and never for a second placed himself in a position where he did notbelieve himself, with his cold drawling voice, his deadly look, the sympathy of convicts, the terror of his atrocities, his stolen race horse, and his loaded revolver, to be master of the situation. Can anyone tell us where Morgan ever did the act of a man?
The few additional items below are contributed by our Wangaratta correspondent :—
The excitement concerning Morgan is still intense. The body was removed from Peechelba to Wangaratta yesterday, and placed in one of the cells of the lock-up. Hundreds from all parts visited the body of the bushranging chief. A cast of the head was taken yesterday. It appears the name of the young man who fired the fatal shot is Wendlan, not Quinlan. He has been in the employ of Messrs Rutherford and McPherson for several years. He was in Wangaratta on last Thursday when, the express arrived from the Messrs Evans’s station; King River. He wished, very much to proceed to the scene of the outrage, but was unable to find a horse. Some of his friends said that Morgan might, next visit Peechelba. Wendlan said if he ever did he was bound to shoot him. It is said,that Mr Rutherford also promised £100 to the man who would shoot Morgan, and Mr Rutherford is a gentleman who will not break his word. One particular Scotch air played by Miss McPherson struck Morgan’s fancy, he asked her to play it over and over again. It was the last time she played, he called the piano an organ, and said often come Miss give me, another tune on that ere organ. He also told Mr McPherson that he passed through Benalla at 4 o’clock on the afternoon of Friday last. Mr McPherson said he was in Benalla himself about the same time but did not see him there. Morgan assured him that it was quite true he was in Benalla on that day, and at the hour mentioned. It is said that Morgan told some of the persons at Evans’ station that he was in Melbourne lately, and had the pleasure of seeing himself in wax — he also told the man that it was a very striking likeness of himself. He also told Mr John Evans that he was on Oxley Plains last winter ; he met Mr Bond on the Plains by accident, and would have shot him dead there and then, but he was afraid of creating a b-—-y stink at the time. Some bullock drivers, who reside in Wangaratta, state most positively that they saw ‘Down-the-River-Jack’ at Oxley last winter, coolly riding on a horse. It has since been proved beyond a doubt that ‘Down-the-River-Jack’ and ‘Bill-the-Native’ was one and the same person.
Morgan also stated at the Whitfield station that Mr Bond must have also observed him, for he looked d——d hard at him. ‘Down-the-River-Jack’, was a frequent visitor at other stations. He was in the district for about two months. It was supposed at the time that he had just got out of prison, as his hair then was cut very short. He was in the habit in those days (four years ago) of stealing saddles, bridles, horses, cattle, &c. When he slept at some of the most remote stations on the King River, it was always with a tomahawk under his head. Two young lads in charge of one of the upper stations on the river used to call him ‘Jack,’ and did not look upon him then as a very dangerous member of society. When engaged chatting, over the fire, he told them he knew every inch of bush in the three colonies. He suddenly disappeared and has never been heard of until seen by the bullock drivers, who reported him at Oxley in last winter.
A reporter, representing the Melbourne Herald, arrived in town yesterday. He has especially been sent up to report concerning Morgan. Mr Evans, the constable, recognises Morgan as the same person who was tried at Castlemaine in 1854, under the name of Smith, alias ‘Bill, the Native,’ for some crime, and for which, he received a severe sentence.
Source: “SKETCH OF THE LIFE AND CAREER OF DANIEL MORGAN, THE NOTORIOUS BUSHRANGER” Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1855 – 1918) 13 April 1865: 3.