Spotlight: The Melbourne Mail Robbery (30/05/1851)

Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1847 – 1851), Friday 30 May 1851, page 2



Present — His Worship the Mayor, and Captain Fyans.

THE MELBOURNE MAIL ROBBERY — At 12 o’clock yesterday Owen Suffolk alias Mason and Christopher Farrel, committed for robbing the Portland Mail, were placed in the dock, to answer to the charge of robbing the Melbourne and Geelong mail. Both prisoners maintained the same firm composure they evinced on the former occasion.

John Ross, sworn. — I am the driver of the Melbourne mail. I know the tall prisoner, by the peculiarity of his walk, he is one of the parties who robbed the Melbourne mail on 15th May I do not recognise the short man sufficiently to swear to him, but believe him to be the same man that was with the tall prisoner when the robbery was committed. They took from me my watch, a money order, and my strap. The order produced was taken from me by the tall prisoner. I recognise the watch and strap. I cannot describe his dress exactly beyond a sou-wester” hat painted of an oil color. The hat produced I can swear to as the one worn on the occasion of the robbery by the tall prisoner. I know it by the hole in the brim. They presented pistols at me very like those now shown to me. I reported the robbery at the watchouse.

The prisoners declined to put any questions to the witness.

Sophia Henry, sworn — I reside in Geelong, and was a passenger in the mail, on the 15th May, when the mail was robbed; I can swear to the tall prisoner, he robbed me of fifteen shillings and a silk purse; the purse now shown to me is not the one stolen from me; I remember them taking a belt from the mailman, but I cannot swear that the one produced is the same; one of the robbers wore a sou-wester, like the one produced: they presented pistols at the mailman, but I cannot say what they were like.

The Chief Constable — Reiterated the details of his apprehension of the prisoners, and described the property found.

John Matheson, manager of the Union Bank — Recognised the draft for £14 11s 9d, as being drawn by their Branch on the Geelong Bank; he received the envelope in which the draft was transmitted from the Postmaster of Geelong, on the Monday after the robbery.

The prisoner Farrell then applied to the bench for £9 18s, which had been taken from him.

The Bench not seeming to comprehend the nature of the request; Owen Suffolk very coolly leant on the dock, and said, “he wishes to know, your Worships, if you will allow the money taken from his person to be employed to fee counsel with, for his defence.”

His Worship — That will be a question for the Judge to decide.

The prisoners stated that they had no remarks to make, and were then committed for robbing the Melbourne Mail.

Spotlight: Reports of Crime (January 1862)

New South Wales Police Gazette and Weekly Record of Crime (Sydney : 1860 – 1930), Monday 27 January 1862 (No.8), page 1



Attacking and wounding the Patrol with fire-arms.


Vide Report of Crime of 29th July, 1861, and ante.

On 16th July last, Sergeant Middleton and Trooper Hozi, of the Western Patrol, were attacked and severely wounded at the Fish River, by Francis Clarke, alias Jones, alias Gardener, a ticket-of-leave holder, illegally at large from his District; a native of Goulburn, New South Wales, 31 years of age, 5 feet 8 1/4 inches high, a laborer, dark sallow complexion, black hair, brown eyes, small raised scar in left eyebrow, small scar on right chin, scar on knuckle of right forefinger, round scar on left elbow joint, two slight scars on back of left thumb, short finger nails, round scar on cap of right knee, hairy legs; wounded in the above affray on temple by pistol ball or whip. He was captured and afterwards released by two armed men of the following description :– John Peisley, a ticket-of-leave holder, illegally at large from his district; a native of Bathurst, New South Wales, laborer, about 28 years of age, about 5 feet 10 inches high, stout and well made, fresh complexion, very small light whiskers, quite bald on top of head and forehead, several recent marks on face, and a mark from a blow of a spade on top of head; puffed and dissipated looking from hard drinking; invariably wears fashionable Napoleon boots, dark cloth breeches, dark vest buttoned up the front large Albert gold guard, cabbagetree hat, and dark coat. Sometimes wears a dark wig, and always carries a brace of revolvers. He was in Sydney some weeks ago, in company, it is supposed, with Zahn, alias Herring, of the Abercrombie. The other man is about 26 years of age, and about 5 feet 6 inches high, light hair and whiskers, and small light moustache, sallow complexion. A reward of £20 is offered for Gardner’s apprehension, and £50 for Peisley’s. A further sum of £100 will be paid by the Government to any person who may, within six months from the present date, give such information as shall lead to the apprehension and conviction of the said John Peisley and £50 will be paid for the apprehension and conviction of each of the other offenders.

John Peisley [Illustration by Aidan Phelan]




The Mail from Lambing Flat was stopped by three armed men, on the morning of the 6th instant, about 6 miles from Lambing Flat, and the passengers robbed. One of the robbers is about 5 feet 8 inches high, had a comforter round the lower part of his face, wore brown California hat, dark trousers, and blue serge shirt, has thin face, and bald head, supposed to have several cuts on the top of his head, from wounds inflicted by one of the passengers; 2nd, about 6 feet high, about 25 or 26 years of age, unshaven, wore brown California hat, dark coat and trousers; 3rd, about 6 feet high, about 30 years of age, thin black moustache and whiskers, long Roman nose, wore cabbagetree hat, dark coat and trousers, and cotton handkerchief tied round his neck. They can be identified. The above reward will be paid in terms of the Government Notice of the 24th November, 1853.