Spotlight: Country News (14/11/1863)

Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), Saturday 14 November 1863, page 6



THE POLICE AND THE BUSHRANGERS.— Superintendent McLerie and seven or eight troopers have returned safe and sound to Albury. The gallant fellows are looking remarkably well, and they do not report having been stuck-up or ill treated by the bushrangers, although we believe some of them “sighted” Gilbert or O’Meally, or what is much the same, Gilbert and O’Meally “took sights” at them.

PROCEEDINGS OF A BUSHRANGER.— On Monday morning last, Morgan the bushranger made his appearance at Burrumbuttock, the station of Mr. Gibson, who was absent. He went into the house, ordered breakfast, and he sent one of the men to fetch up Mr. Gibson’s favourite horse. Meanwhile, he turned out all the drawers, &c., and provided himself with a full suit of Mr. Gibson’s clothes. Having breakfasted, he led the horse away, and went to the publichouse at Piney Range: there he remained some time. On remounting, he proceeded to Walbundrie, and at the stock-yard stuck up Mr. Thomas Kidston and four men who were inoculating cattle. He said he wanted the chesnut horse Euclid, and said he would shoot Mr. K. if he did not get the horse up. The stockrider went, and brought the horse in, and Morgan took him away, refusing some pressing invitations to go inside the house. Shortly after leaving Walbundrie, he let Mr. Gibson’s horse loose, having ridden him as far as he wanted. He then went to Bulgandra lower station, where Mr. Gibson was busy shearing. Morgan appeared before him in the suit of clothes which he had taken from Burrambuttock, which was the first intimation Mr. Gibson had of what had been going on at the upper station. After remarking that “he was now Mr. Gibson,” he ordered all the shearers out of the shed, and told the over seer, Smith, to prepare for death, as he would not see the morrow’s sun. The overseer’s wife told him if he killed her husband, he must kill her and the child too, and have three murders to account for. Whether this consideration influenced him or not, he let the overseer off, and went into the house, took a pair of pistols, smashed the overseer’s gun, and made Mr. Gibson sign nine cheques of £30 each, which he gave to the shearers, and told them they were discharged. He also made Mr. Gibson sign one for £95 for himself, and another for £15 to pay a man to go in to get them cashed. He then took leave of Mr. Gibson. That was one day’s work. Early next morning, he called on Messrs. Stitt Brothers, of Walla Walla, and helped himself to various articles which struck his fancy.

Spotlight: The Diverting History of John Gilbert (29/10/1863)

Melbourne Punch (Vic. : 1855 – 1900), Thursday 29 October 1863, page 1


JOHN GILBERT was a bushranger
Of terrible renown
For sticking lots of people up,
And shooting others down.

John Gilbert said unto his pals,
“Although they make a bobbery
About our tricks, we’ve never done
A tip-top thing in robbery.

We’ve all of us a fancy for
Experiments in pillage;
But never have we seized a town,
Or even sacked a village.”

John Gilbert stated to his mates,
“Though partners we have been
In all rascality, yet we
No festal day have seen.”

John Gilbert said he thought he saw
No obstacle to hinder a
Piratical descent upon
The town of Canowindra.

So into Canowindra town
Rode Gilbert and his men,
And all the Canowindra folk
Subsided there and then.

The Canowindra populace
Cried, “here’s a lot of strangers,”
But suddenly recovered when
They found they were bushrangers.

John Gilbert with his partizans
Said, “Don’t you be afraid —
We are but old companions whom
Rank convicts you have made.”

So Johnny Gilbert says, says he,
“We’ll never hurt a hair
Of men who bravely recognise
That we are just all there.”

The New South Welshmen said at once,
Not making any fuss,
That Johnny Gilbert, after all,
Was “just but one of us.”

So Johnny Gilbert took the town,
And took the public-houses,
And treated all the cockatoos,
And shouted for their spouses.

And Miss O’Flanagan performed,
In manner quite “gintaaly,”
Upon the grand piano for
The bushranger O’Meally.

And every stranger passing by
They took, and when they’d got him,
They robbed him of his money, and
Occasionally shot him.

And Johnny’s enigmatic freak
Admits of this solution,
Bushranging is in New South Wales
A favored institution.

So Johnny Gilbert ne’er allows
An anxious thought to fetch him,
Because he knows that Government
Don’t really want to catch him.

And if such practices should be
To New South Welshmen dear,
With not the least demurring word
Ought we to interfere.

Spotlight: Gilbert (08/07/1865)

Albury Banner and Wodonga Express (NSW : 1860 – 1938), Saturday 8 July 1865, page 4

THIS week we are able to give an illustration of the death of the notorious Johnny Gilbert, the bushranger, and accomplice with Hall, Dunn, and O’Meally in many an act of robbery and crime within the last few years. Gilbert was but twenty-five years old at time of his death, but was of a stout build and capable of undergoing great exertion. He was the son of respectable parents, and his father is now living Taradale, in Victoria where he has for some years resided, following the occupation of mining, and is stated to have been much grieved at the lawless habits of his unfortunate son. But little is known of the early life of Gilbert, except that he was engaged as stock rider in some stations about Forbes, and that at the end of the year 1862, he, like several other young men of loose habits, became inflamed with the passion and desire of becoming highwaymen, thinking it no doubt a grand thing and a noble pursuit instead of honestly and quietly working industriously for a livelihood. The violent end of Gilbert, coupled with the similar fate of two of his comrades and of Daniel Morgan, shows the fallacy of such a delusion. Throughout the year 1863, Gilbert, associated with either Ben Hall, O’Meally, and, Dunn, and, sometimes with the whole of them, perpetrated several daring crimes, such as robbing stores, stealing race-horses, stopping the mails and taking therefrom everything of value. Every thing was of late done by them in the most daring manner and in the most open way. They would ride up to places, bail up, as it is called, a whole village, adjourn to a hotel and compel those whom they pleased to join in all kinds of revelry and amusement and treat every one with the liquors, &c. of the landlord, who was forced to submit to this barefaced levy of black-mail. No one attempted to lay a hand on them, or if they did, the intended attempt was signalised to these freebooters and then vengeance was sure to fall upon the head of the person having the courage to endeavor to rid society of those who were making it their prey. The burning of the store of Mr. Morris, at Binda, is an instance in point, and it will be remembered that he nearly lost his life through attempting to secure Gilbert and Dunn. So matters went on every week, the list of crimes and offences swelling in magnitude until the 15th November last, when Gilbert, Hall, and Dunn stopped the mail from Gundagai to Yass at about four miles from Jugiong. The mail was escorted by two of the police, and on that occasion the bushrangers fired at them and Sergeant Edmund Parry was shot dead. Great excitement arose upon this and large parties of police were sent in pursuit and scattered about their haunts, but they were always “five minutes too late.” More robberies were committed, and on the 26th January last another police constable named Samuel Nelsen, was shot at Collector by these ruffians, it being believed that Dunn fired the shot which killed him, but both Gilbert and Hall were with him and were accessories to the murder. A reward of £1,000 was then put by Government on their heads, and the well known Felons’ Apprehension Act was passed into law, leading eventually to the breaking up of these gangs of robbers and murderers. At length in May the police got well on the trail of Gilbert and Dunn, Ben Hall having, been shot by a party of them near Forbes on the 29th April. On the 12th May, information was given that Dunn and Gilbert were in the neighborhood of Binalong, and that night Senior Constable Hales, with Constables Bright, King and others went to the hut of a man named Kelly and watched it all night. Kelly’s son came out in the morning, and, on being asked, denied that any one was inside. Hales, however, doubted him, and went up the door, when the elder Kelly called out, “here are some troopers surrounding the house.” King and Hales rushed inside and saw two men in another room, the door of which was shut to instantly, and a shot was fired at the police, who returned the fire, and called upon all to surrender, threatening to burn down the hut if they did not. Gilbert and Dunn thereupon jumped through a window at the back and commenced running to a paddock where their horses were, turning round and firing at their pursuers as they ran. Gilbert got into a creek, the bed of which was dry and ran along it, when Hales called on him to stand. This was unheeded, when Hales fired; Gilbert looked round and the next moment Bright aIso fired and Gilbert fell. King was close and was fired at by both Gilbert and Dunn and a shot from the latter hit him in the ankle and rendered him unable to give further assistance. Dunn got off in the scrub and was lost by the police, who, on their return, found Gilbert dead. On a post-mortem examination by Dr. Campbell, it was found that the bullet had passed through the left lung and the left ventricle of the heart, causing almost immediate death, and the jury, on the occasion of the inquest at Binalong the next day, immediately returned a verdict of “justifiable homicide.” Our illustration shows Gilbert falling from the wound, and Dunn firing at King. Dunn has not yet met his fate, which is, however, impending; and with him we hope there will be an end to our bushrangers.

Spotlight: Robbery Under Arms (17 June 1863)

New South Wales Police Gazette and Weekly Record of Crime (Sydney : 1860 – 1930), Wednesday 17 June 1863 (No.24), page 178


Robbery under Arms.

At 11 p.m. on the 7th instant, the stores of the undermentioned persons at Possum Flat, near Young, were forcibly entered by three armed men, supposed to be Johnny Gilbert, Johnny O’Mealley, and another, and property as under stolen therefrom :— From Joseph McConnell, about £14 sterling, and a double barrel gun; from William Hooley, 4 ozs. 10 dwts. of gold; from Mrs. McCarthy, two gold rings, one engraved “E.F. & M.F., 3 July, 1803”; from William’O’Brien, a cash box, containing £37; from David Henry, a quantity of silver coin, amount not known, some printed calico, tobacco, and a revolver.

At 8 p.m. on the 2nd instant, the house of George Gatewood, Norwood, near Goulburn, was forcibly entered by four armed men (not described), with blackened faces covered with crape, and the following property stolen therefrom, viz., £12 sterling, a watch (not described), gun, canister of “powder, box of caps, three pairs blankets, and several articles of clothing. The robbers afterwards proceeded to the house of William Gatewood, son of the above, and forcibly stole therefrom a quantity of wearing apparel and trinkets.

Spotlight: Johnny Gilbert’s Late Exploit (10 June 1863)

Yass Courier (NSW : 1857 – 1929), Wednesday 10 June 1863, page 2


[From our Marengo correspondent.]

June 4. — My hasty communication of yesterday respecting the sticking-up near Young, on the day of the races, was, I afterwards ascertained, too true; in fact, worse than at first reported; for two stores were gutted by Gilbert and his gang, viz., Mr. Chard’s, of Spring Creek, and the Red Shirt Store (Mr. Herbert’s). It seems the robbers were quite convinced that they would receive no interruption from the police, as they (the police) were well known to be all enjoying themselves at the races; consequently they proceeded to work in the most leisurely manner, selecting and packing up carefully all the most valuable part of the stock of the above stores. This party of highwaymen consisted of four well mounted, and armed men, each leading a pack-horse, and headed by Lieutenant Gilbert in person, who was mounted on the stolen Burrowa race-horse, Jacky Morgan. The only resistance they met with was from a person at Chard’s store, when Gilbert, without a moment’s hesitation, drew a revolver and fired point blank at him, the ball passing in such very close proximity to the party’s skull as to cause him to rush away, his retreat being still further increased by another shot from the same desperado. I regret to state that this affair, like nearly all others of the same class, appears to have been a complete success; for neither the robbers nor their plunder have since been seen or heard of. I think the public ought to solicit the authorities to publish a statistical account, of the amount of property lately taken from stores only by those ransacking rascals, Gilbert and Co. Within the last six mouths the gross value of the plunder could not amount to less than a thousand or eleven hundred pounds sterling. Now the major part of this did not consist of “handy availables,” but it was real cumbersome property, such as fifty pairs of bedford cord trousers, a score or so of pilot coats, dozens of vests, bolts of calico, hales of linen, &c., &c. What are our detectives about that none of this properly has ever been traced? Undoubtedly, the whole of it has been, and is now being, disposed of to the public, at low cash prices, through the medium of dishonest storekeepers in league with the robbers. The city of London contains more than six times as many inhabitants as the whole of New South Wales, in fact, more than the whole of the Australian colonies, and Tasmania included; yet there the non-tracing of property, after a large store or shop robbery, is the exception — here it is the rule. Either the home detective system must be very different to ours, or the right men cannot be in the right place; for, taking a retrospective view of the great amount of weighty plunder lately disposed of by Gilbert’s gang, and the minute amount of successful result in the tracing thereof, proves the term detective at the present time to be a great, misnomer; and, as far as this and the two adjoining districts are concerned, it can only continue to be used either in sarcasm or irony.

Describing the Hall Gang

Does the popular image of the Hall Gang marry up with eyewitness descriptions? Unlike with many earlier bushrangers, witness descriptions of bushrangers in the gold rush era were often quite detailed. Many in the modern day are familiar with the studio portraits of Ben Hall before he became an outlaw, as well as the illustrations of Gilbert and Dunn produced for newspapers, but these images only give us a controlled glimpse. No verified photographs of Gilbert and Dunn exist (the man photographed with Gardiner never having been officially named, and quite possibly a son of Gardiner’s close associate William Fogg), and the only verified photographs of Hall were taken at a very different stage in his life.

Frank Gardiner and [John Gilbert ?] bushranger, c. 1860, by Charles Percy Pickering [Courtesy: Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales; IE8852400, FL8852406]

The earliest verified description of Johnny Gilbert comes from his time with Frank Gardiner. In the wake of the escort robbery at Eugowra Rocks, the following description was published.

Source: Golden Age (Queanbeyan, NSW : 1860 – 1864): 19/02/1863, p.2

It must be remembered, of course, that the press often made errors. A prime example is the publishing of two descriptions of Patsy Daley in one article, albeit with one listed as “Maley”. Perhaps it speaks volumes about the harshness of frontier life that Ben Hall at 25 appeared to be close to 30 years old.

This description of Hall comes from early in his bushranging career. The description seems to match the traditional image of him.

While it is fascinating to look at the descriptions from different points in time to see how the men evolved, it is also intriguing to see if it is possible to recognise the men from description alone as the general population were expected to.

Sketch from description of Johnny Gilbert the bushranger, 1863, artist unknown [Courtesy: National Library of Australia; PIC Drawer 3651 #T2668 NK6892/B]

In mid-1864 Hall’s gang consisted of himself, Gilbert and James “Old Man” Gordon. The following descriptions only identify Hall by name, but the other two are easy enough to differentiate from one another.

Ben Hall [Courtesy: State Library of Queensland; 195452]

The following extract is from an 1864 article describing to the gang’s exploits at the Black Springs near Jugiong:

“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. […] 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 had not long returned from Queensland, and that when there he was three times chased by the police; and furthermore, 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.”

Empire (Sydney): 20/12/1864, p.3

The term “whiskers” in this period seems to have had a slightly vague meaning, but usually described what we would now refer to as sideburns. Based on the description given, it seems that while Gilbert and Dunn were clean-shaven, Hall had grown out his whiskers and moustache. This alone gives us quite a different view of Hall than what we’re familiar with.

Gilbert was known to remain clean-shaven with long hair so that he could disguise himself as a woman, which he supposedly did with some success on the New Zealand goldfields just after the Eugowra heist. With this knowledge in mind, it seems that John Dunn must have been the one with short, curly hair.

It is worth noting how the descriptions above informed the way the official descriptions were then given. The following description of Gilbert came three months after the incident at Jugiong. Oddly, it still describes him as about 22 years old as in the original descriptions published several years earlier.

Description of Gilbert from reward notice. Source: New South Wales Government Gazette (Sydney, NSW : 1832 – 1900): 21/03/1865, p.676

Perhaps the most detailed physical descriptions of Hall and Gilbert are those made post mortem. After Hall’s shooting by police in May 1865, the body was displayed in Forbes. Surprisingly, at the inquest into Hall’s death the body was not described, even in relation to the medical examination to determine cause of death. Thus, the only description we have of Hall in death comes from a report describing the scenes at the viewing of his body. Some have suggested the lack of description at the inquest to be evidence that there was an effort to obscure police culpability in what was, essentially, an illegal execution.

His body was lying upon a stretcher in the south-east corner room of the building appropriated to the foot police. There was nothing forbidding in the countenance of Ben Hall, as he lay there still in death. In fact, I heard the remark made several times, during the moment I was in the room, “What a handsome face.” He appeared to be a young man about twenty-eight, finely made, excellent features, lofty forehead, and fine brown hair. His whiskers and moustache were cut quite close and of a much lighter colour than the hair on his head. I heard many make the remark, “I have often seen that face somewhere, but cannot tell where.” I have myself seen the face, but have no idea when or where. The most remarkable feature in the countenance was a peculiar curl in the right side of the upper lip, indicating ordinarily a feeling of contemptuous scorn, produced by the action of the mind upon the muscles. In this case I am told that it is a constitutional feature, and may therefore indicate nothing.

“THE DEATH OF BEN HALL.” The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) 13 May 1865: 7.

Not long after Hall’s death the law finally caught up with Gilbert and Dunn. Gilbert was shot while the pair attempted to flee from police, but only Dunn succeeded. Unlike Hall, Gilbert’s inquest included a detailed description of the body to verify the identity.

Post mortem description of Johnny Gilbert

Of the three, Dunn was the only member of the gang to stand trial. He had been badly wounded in his capture; a bullet becoming lodged in his spine. The description of him from his trial is far more evocative than previously seen.

Dunn, the bushranger, by Arthur Levett Jackson, 23/02/1866 [Courtesy: State Library Victoria; 1650721]

It is reasonable to suggest that part of the reason the gang were able to move freely for so long was due to the difficulty in recognising them from published descriptions.

These are mere snippets of the myriad descriptions published at the time, but go some way to explaining how the perception of bushrangers rarely matches the reality. Imagine how different our understanding of Hall, Gilbert and Dunn would be if there were more images to refer to apart from imagined ones used for newspaper etchings, or outdated photos of Hall from before his outlaw days.

Spotlight: Johnny Gilbert at Young (6 June 1863)

Yass Courier (NSW : 1857 – 1929), Saturday 6 June 1863, page 2


(From our Marengo correspondent.)

June 3. — I have just received information to the effect that Messrs. Gilbert and Co , yesterday, at Young, took advantage of all the police being engaged at the races, to pay a professional visit at the Redshirt Store, Petticoat Flat (Mr. Herbert’s), and ransacked its contents, carrying off much booty. As Mr. Gilbert seems to possess all the ubiquitous and invisible power of his arch-prototype Gardiner, I suppose it is almost unnecessary to remark that neither he nor the booty has since been seen or heard of. [We have heard that the same party stuck-up Mr. Chard’s store, on the same day. — Ed. Y. C.]

Spotlight: Johnny Gilbert at Burrowa (27 May 1863)

Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Wednesday 27 May 1863, page 3


(From the Yass Courier‘s Marengo correspondent.)

MAY 19.—This morning, about ten o’clock, our little town, our rather village, was thrown into a state of excitement by a horseman galloping into it and reining up his panting steed at the police station. He handed a letter to the officer in command (Swan), the perusal of which caused all to be bustle; for instant boot and saddle was the order, and in a very short time horses were equipped, men armed and mounted, and they and the messenger all rode briskly away in the direction of Burrowa. Upon making the necessary inquiries, and proceeding to the scene of operations, I ascertained that a sticking-up case had occurred, which for coolness and effrontery eclipses all the late affairs of that class. It is well known that Mr. Allen Hancock, of Burrowa, has had for some time in training for the races a horse called “Jacky Morgan,” a provincial celebrity, and a great favourite in the betting circle. About seven o’clock this morning, as jockey in trainer Harry Wilson, was giving the horse his customary diurnal exercise near the Burrowa police barracks, a ponchoed horseman rode up to him, whom Wilson immediately recognised to be no other than the notorious Johnny Gilbert, whom Wilson has known for years. Gilbert instantly told the jockey to dismount, as he wanted the racer, but Wilson refused to do so, when Gilbert drew a revolver, and placing it close to Harry’s skull said, “Off at once, or take the consequences;” Wilson replied, “For God’s sake, Johnny, don’t ruin a poor fellow,” but all to no purpose, for Gilbert took the horse, and along with it a new jockey’s saddle and bridle, Wilson’s private property, which he had purchased only the day before. After Gilbert had cantered away, the unfortunate and almost broken-hearted jock, who by the way was to have raced the horse that very day, made all haste to his employer with the dismal intelligence. I am informed that Mr. Hancock lost no time in vain regrets, but instantly ordered one of his best horses to be saddled, and he in the interim loaded a double-barrelled gun, kissed his wife and family, and rode off, declaring most solemnly that he would never return alive without the stolen horse, and from what I know of his temperament, I’m pretty certain, if he drops across Gilbert, that he’ll keep his word.

Undoubtedly the “bush telegraph” must have been again at work, otherwise how would Gilbert have known the exact time and spot to have seized this racer, and that within rifle shot of the town, and within a stone’s throw of the police barrack itself. The daring sangfroid shown in this affair fully proves the great extent of harborage given to this scoundrel and his myrmidons, for him to dare almost to enter the town of Burrowa itself, where, as at Marengo, two out every three knew him by sight. I almost forgot to mention that this morning, about two hours after the previous robbery, the said Gilbert rode up to two drays, about three miles from Marengo (which were on the turn off road, near the Calabash) and told one of the carriers to stop and lower down a gin case, break it open, and hand him three or four bottles; the carrier hesitated, when Gilbert laughed derisively, threw open his poncho, and showed his belt bristling with revolvers, and also pointing significantly into the bush, thereby intimating that he bad plenty of assistance near at hand, which no doubt, he had, for it is my fixed impression that Gilbert is now at the head of the Wedden and Abercrombie band, and that Gardiner is leading another detachment in the Jingerra Ranges, whose tracks sergeant Brennan was on the other day. At all events, they are now possessed of some splendid horseflesh, three stolen racers, viz., Mr. Skillicorn’s, of Bathurst, Mr. Roberts’, of Currawang, and Mr. A. Hancock’s, of Burrowa.

I regret to state that the murderer, John Kellie, is still at large. Really what with our daily petty larcenies, weekly highway robberies, and bi-annual murders, we constitute a community which, however consistent, is unquestionably the reverse of Utopian.

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

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

Local & General Intelligence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Sydney Morning Herald’s correspondent says :–

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

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

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


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


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