Bushranging Gazette #14

Friday, 1 April 2022

Moondyne Festival 2022

The annual Moondyne Festival in Toodyay, Western Australia, is all set to kick off on Sunday 1 May this year. The festival, named for local bushranger Joseph Bolitho “Moondyne Joe” Johns, features a range of activities and attractions, as well as reenactments of some of the infamous bushranger’s escapades.

Visitors are encouraged to dress in period costume when they attend, and scheduled attractions include music performances, a street parade, Morris dancing, a moustache competition, a photo room, sheep dog demonstrations, camel rides, and a “floozy” competition. The events and attractions will be spread around town, encouraging visitors to explore.

For more information about the festival, including a programme, you can visit the website: https://moondynefestival.com.au/

Douglas Stewart’s Ned Kelly

The Conversation has published an insightful article by Julian Meyrick about Douglas Stewart’s 1940s play Ned Kelly. The article gives a background to the play as well as Meyrick’s own observations regarding Australians’ attitude to their own history, and how the play embodies this through its use of language and theatrical techniques.

In 1997, I directed Ned Kelly in one of its few professional productions. Spruiking the show to audiences, I heard many times that people “already knew the story”. But when I asked what they knew, they were often at a loss to give even the basic facts. They felt they knew the Kelly story, but they did not. This combination of belief the past is known, and actual ignorance of it, fuels Australia’s “history wars”. Stewart’s play thus falls into a historical black hole as well as a theatrical one. A nation dismissive of its past dramatic forms is also dismissive of its past. Reclaiming Ned Kelly is therefore about more than its disinterment from the sarcophagus of neglected plays; it is an act of intellectual recovery whereby Australian history is made available as a dramatic resource, and drama is validated as a mode of historical inquiry.

Julian Meyrick

The article is an edited extract from the book Australia in 50 Plays, which was launched on 3 March.

You can read the full article here: https://theconversation.com/ambiguity-and-amorality-is-douglas-stewarts-ned-kelly-one-of-australias-great-forgotten-plays-179458

Mary Ann Bugg, the little known Australian bushranger

On ABC Radio program Night Life with Philip Clarke, the host interviewed historian Carol Baxter, author of Thunderbolt and his Lady, about Australia’s most famous female bushranger, Mary Ann Bugg.

Baxter’s work on the Thunderbolt story has been prominent over the years since her book was first released in 2011, in particular her championing of the story of Mary Ann Bugg. In the interview, Baxter discusses Bugg’s background and relationship with Frederick Ward and her work in researching the history.

You can listen to the podcast here: https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/nightlife/bugg/13818160

A policeman’s lot is not a happy one

Spectator Australia have published an opinion article by Ross Eastgate about the difficulties of police life, specifically in reference to the dangers and difficulties that officers are put in as a matter of course, and the need for officers to be able to defend themselves – with lethal force if necessary. Specific mention is made of the shootings at Stringybark Creek, amongst more modern examples, particularly the current issue of Constable Zachary Rolfe in the Northern Territory. Being an opinion piece, the views stated therein will not appeal to all.

On October 25, 1878, the criminal Ned Kelly and his gang ambushed four armed Victorian police at Stringybark Creek. Three, of Irish descent like Kelly, were murdered, resulting in the Kelly gang being declared outlaws to be hunted until death or capture. After nearly 150 years the murders still arouse strong emotions around nearby Mansfield among the surviving families and in the Victorian Police.

Ross Eastgate

You can read the full article here: https://www.spectator.com.au/2022/03/a-policemans-lot-is-not-a-happy-one/

Bushrangers of the Sydney Region

On ABC Radio’s Self Improvement Wednesday with Richard Glover from 9 March, Grace Karskens, Emeritus Professor of History in the School of Humanities and Languages at the University of New South Wales, discusses some of the New South Wales bushrangers that operated around the Sydney region in the early years of the settlement.

Karskens gives a good introduction to the early history of bushranging in New South Wales, and discusses the relationships between some early bushrangers and indigenous peoples, and the convict era. Bushrangers discussed include William Geary, the McNamara Gang, John Armstrong, and Jack Donahoe (The Wild Colonial Boy).

You can listen to the podcast here: https://www.abc.net.au/radio/sydney/programs/self-improvement-wednesday/siw-sydneys-bushrangers/13789430

Grantlee Kieza on the Queensland Native Police

The Daily Mail in the UK have interviewed author Grantlee Kieza about his new book The Kelly Hunters, and focused on the Queensland Native Police that were employed to capture the Kelly Gang. The article gives a good overview of the story of the trackers, who are a prominent feature of Kieza’s new release, which is about the police who pursued Ned Kelly.

They could distinguish even between the sort of boot heels the gang were wearing, […] There’s talk of them having found a sweat smudge from someone who had put their hand on a branch hours before. Uncanny kind of tracking abilities. […] They had the best weapons and they knew how to use them as well, Certainly Ned Kelly feared what they could do. It’s significant that as soon as they arrived he never did another bank robbery. He didn’t really show himself publicly anywhere until the siege of Glenrowan.

Grantlee Kieza

You can read the full article here: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10634145/Ned-Kelly-feared-six-Aboriginal-trackers-massacred-people.html

New websites focus on Tasmanian bushranging legends

Two new websites have been launched by Aidan Phelan and Georgina Stones to focus on the history around Matthew Brady and Cash and Company. These sites will host archival material as well as original work that distills the research into easily digested articles on key events, people and places.

Martin Cash and Company, co-authored by Phelan and Stones, also has a Facebook page and Instagram account to act as companions to the core website. The material mainly concentrates on the three outlaws, Cash, Jones and Kavanagh, but will also provide insights into the pursuers, victims, friends and lovers of the trio.

Matthew Brady: The Bushranger of Van Diemen’s Land is singly authored by Phelan and takes much the same approach to the material. While in its infancy still, it is hoped to be a one-stop shop for people who wish to learn more about Brady’s story, with plans for a book based on the research to come soon.

If you would like to check out these websites, you can follow the links below.

Martin Cash and Company —
Website: https://martincashandcompany.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/martincashandco/
Instagram: @martincash_and_company

Matthew Brady: The Bushranger of Van Diemen’s Land —
Website: https://matthewbradybushranger.wordpress.com/


The Deaf Bushranger

Bushrangers with disabilities were not very common, apart from missing fingers, crippled hands or habitual limping caused by poorly healed broken legs. Yet, it was not unheard of for more significant disabilities to be present, such as in the case of William Brown, one of Matthew Brady’s gang, who was deaf.

Details of his deafness are almost non-existent; it seems likely that it could have been acquired through some form of trauma prior to becoming a convict, but is just as likely to have been congenital. This significant setback doesn’t seem to have negatively impacted on his ability to perform crimes with the rest of the gang, yet it must have required a considerable level of adjustment for the others to be able to include him in their operations given how important active communication and detection of approaching threats were to their survival. It was certainly significant enough to warrant mention in several contemporary reports about the gang’s activities.

He was described in the runaways list as follows:Brown, William, 5 feet 6¼ inches, light brown hair, blue eyes, 25 years of age, deaf, a labourer, tried at Middlesex April 1819, sentence life, arrived by the Dromedary 1820, native place London, Britannia, Adam and Eve, sun and moon, right arm, sun and moon, and two hearts, on left, from Public Works at the Coal River October 31, 1825—£20 Reward.

229. Brown, William, 5 feet 6¼ inches, light brown hair, blue eyes, 25 years of age, deaf, a labourer, tried at Middlesex April 1819, sentence life, arrived by the Dromedary 1820, native place London, Britannia, Adam and Eve, sun and moon, right arm, sun and moon, and two hearts, on left, from Public Works at the Coal River October 31, 1825—£20 Reward.

Source: “RUNAWAY NOTICE.” The Hobart Town Gazette (Tas. : 1825 – 1833) 26 November 1825: 1
‘William Brown’, by Thomas Bock [Courtesy: State Library of New South Wales, FL1077005 – DL PX 5; IE1076928]

Spotlight: Cash and Co. near Richmond (14 March 1843)

Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 – 1857), Tuesday 14 March 1843, page 3

Domestic Intelligence.

BUSHRANGERS.— On Sunday last the township of Richmond was put into great excitement by a report that Cash, Kavenagh, and Jones were in the neighbourhood. “What is to be done?” was the general inquiry, there being only two or three constables at the place. These, with the Police Magistrate and Captain Forth, were soon in pursuit, and in the end two men with a woman were apprehended ; the latter being an assigned woman from a farm near the township. It appears that being in want of wine or spirits, they sent a pressed man for a supply, who very properly laid the necessary information. We have not heard full particulars, but a report that they were armed with one old musket, a pistol without a lock, and a mopstick. In consequence of such a formidable demonstration, so near the district town, it is expected that it will be forthwith garrisoned by one wing of a regiment, aided by two of the long guns laying at the New Wharf, and that the gun-boat is to be anchored off the town, so as to cover its approaches. Several instances of great bravery, we understand, were exemplified on the occasion, and that it was with the greatest difficulty some of the volunteers were prevented from shooting each other in their praiseworthy anxiety to secure the outlaws. The country is really in a dreadful state when runaways have the audacity to think of drinking wine on a Sunday, and that, too, directly under the nose of a Police Magistrate. We thought something extraordinary would soon occur when we first saw the comet, but never did suppose that Major Schaw would so soon be called upon to act personally so far from his own Court-house. The brigands were captured, after being surrounded in a most masterly manner, about one mile from Richmond bridge. They surrendered without firing a shot, and are now safely lodged in the large stone building appropriated by the Government for such purposes. We must also congratulate our readers on another gratifying piece of information. A double-barrelled gun, which positively did belong to the firm of Cash, Kavenagh, and Jones, has been found in the bush, and forwarded to the Hamilton Police office. We regret that the report does not state whether it was loaded or not, or whether it was with or without a ramrod. This is, however, something done at any rate, and no doubt so essential a service rendered will be properly appreciated!

POLICE.— Joseph Pratt, and Eliza Cash (wife of the bushranger Martin Cash), were brought up yesterday, charged with having stolon property in their possession. It appeared information had been received that a correspondence existed between the bushranger and his wife, in consequence of which her house was searched at an early hour yesterday morning, when a considerable part of the plunder taken from Mr. Shone and others was identified, Mrs. Cash being at the time occupied in secreting a pair of stays taken from Miss Shone. It is said that a boat has been captured near Green Point, the conductor of which, there is strong reason to believe, has been the medium of communication between the bushrangers and Mrs. Cash and Pratt.

BUSHRANGING AT BROWN’S RlVER.— Not having time or space to do any more than notice the attempted robbery at Brown’s River last week, we give the particulars now, which are as follow :– A short time since, three men from the Prisoner’s Barracks absconded – one of them said to be an old servant of the Rev. Mr. Gibbs, at that settlement, induced his two companions to try their luck where he was acquainted. Accordingly they started, a large axe being the only instrument of destruction they had then been able to procure. Their first attempt was made on Mr. Manley, another gentleman at the Brown’s River settlement, but his servants (three in number), one of them a young lad, would not yield to the system, and they found in their attempt there, would be, as they said “no go.” They then went off towards Mr. Gibbs’ farm. After examination of the premises and believing the servants had retired to rest, the old servant rapped at the door, and on Mr. Gibbs’ son asking who knocked, the answer was “it is me Henry, open the door.” The young man opened the door, the party entered, one of them bound the old gentleman and eased him of his gold watch, while the others went to the servants’ place, tied them, and commenced plundering a variety of valuable and useful articles. Soon after they had left Mr. Manley’s house, his three servants requested that gentleman to give them leave to follow the bushrangers, which being readily granted, they armed themselves, one with a long barrow tire, one with the handle of an old frying pan, and the third with some other iron weapon, and started in pursuit. Judging that their next attempt would be on Mr. Gibbs. They proceeded there, and arrived just as the robbers were preparing to start with their spoil. The first salutation one of Mr. Manley’s men received from Mr. Gibbs’ old servant, was a knock down blow. He did not lay long, but was up and to it again. A general engagement then took , place, soon after which Mr. Gibbs’ old servant took to his heels and was soon followed by his antagonist, but it being dark, and the villain well-acquainted with the locality, he escaped. The other four continued the battle, and although the barrow tire and frying pan handle were well-applied, victory was rather doubtful until their companion had returned from his vain pursuit. He soon settled the difference; the two were secured and brought to town next day, one of them is in the hospital, his head it may be supposed being too frequently visited by the barrow tire, he was not in a fit state for examination at the Police-office, and it may be desirable to find the third to complete the transaction. Let us now call attention to Mr. Manleys’ servants. If the servants of the settlers were to act in a similar way, there would be an end to bushranging, and we have no doubt his Excellency will at once appreciate such meritorious conduct, by granting each of them a free pardon, which will be the very best inducement for others to follow so laudable an example.

THE BUSHRANGERS.— Information has been received in town, that Cash, Cavenagh, and Jones, visited the residence of Mr. Thomas Triffett, at the Ouse, on Saturday night last, and robbed it of everything they could carry away. We have not heard the particulars, further than that they took Mr. Triffeft’s gun, as being a superior one to Mr. Cawthorne’s, which latter they left behind and requested Mr. Triffett to return it to Mr. C, telling him at the same time, that as soon as they met with a better one than his, they would return it also. How is it that the numerous parties out after these desperadoes have allowed them to slip through their fingers to a distance of, we believe, about forty miles from their former haunt on the Dromedary?

Spotlight: A Bushranger’s Autobiography (part four)

Australasian (Melbourne), Saturday 22 February 1879, page 7


After this I again went up the country, and done several robberies on the other side of Goulburn, but the mounted police were soon in full chase of me, so I turned and went down until I got 100 miles, when I thought I would call and see Mr. Gray, who kept a large public house. I knew every room in this house, and where he kept his firearms.

One evening, just as it was getting dark, I tied my horse to a tree in the bush, and walked into the house. Mrs. Gray was behind the bar counter, and said, “Good evening, constable; have you heard any talk of Jacky Jacky, lately?”
“Yes, Mrs. Gray; I have heard of him up the country, and have been after him myself for the last month, but couldn’t meet with him. A glass of rum if you please, Mrs. Gray; if Mr. Gray is in I want to see him.”
“Go one of you,” said Mrs. Gray, “and tell Mr. Gray a constable wants him.”
When he came I wheeled round and gave the order “Bail up all; don’t move hand or foot or I’ll blow your brains out.”

When I had bailed them all up, I went straight to Mr. Gray’s bedroom and secured the arms, which made me master of the place. I also knew where the money was, and made Mrs. Gray pull out all the drawers in the chest. She pulled all out but one and it struck me she had her reasons for so doing, and I asked her why she didn’t open that drawer.

“There’s nothing in it, sir,” she said; but I requested her to open it, and about £70 in silver and £20 in notes explained why the drawer was left last.
“Now, Mrs. Gray, take that drawer down to the bar’, if you please, and empty what money there’s in the till into it.” This was done; and now I was master of all the cash as well as the arms in the house.

All the men I had bailed up stood in a passage a few yards in front of me. I now took up the drawer containing the money in my two hands, having first put the two guns I got in the bedroom under my arm; When I turned to go out of the front door, all the men rushed me, pinioned my arms behind my back. Then I saw what a mistake I had made in not making Mrs. Gray carry the drawer with the money outside; but it was too late. There were 12 or 14 men round me, as near as I can say, and although I had a tussle for it, I received a blow that knocked me down senseless, and when I came to myself, I found myself sectored in the taproom, with one end of a long chain round my neck, fastened with a padlock, and the other end made fast to a dray wheel laid in the middle of the room. There I remained all night like a monkey on a chain.

Next morning, I was placed in a cart with the chain made fast to the axletree, and in this conveyed to Berrima gaol. Shortly after I was removed, and conveyed to Sydney gaol in the year 1842. I was tried and convicted, and, with others, were transported for life to the penal settlement of Port Arthur, in Tasmania. Here I was associated with wretches of the foulest dye. It was their daily study to plunge one another into trouble.

I had not been long here when me and four others took the bush. After two days’ wandering our leader brought us back to the spot we started from. In three days more, we were all captured, tried before the commandant, and received 100 lashes apiece for absconding. I was also put in irons, and my daily work was to carry a log of wood l cwt. up and down the settlement road. This continued about nine weeks, when one day the commandant released me, and sent me to gang with the other men.

Shortly afterwards I absconded again, to obtain what I had long been deprived of — liberty. Along with three other men I took the bush, with the intention of making a canoe. After being out several days with nothing to eat, we became quite weak. One morning I smelt a great smell, like the smell of meat roasting. We were more like hounds put on a scent, and seeking the hare. At last, we got to the sea, and there on the beach we saw a huge whale, dead, I should say, several days. It had been harpooned at sea, and washed in by the tide. It was this dead whale we had smelled. We were now supplied with meat in plenty, and subsisted on the flesh of it for several days while making our canoe. When it was almost finished the constables came on us and called on us to submit; but this was out of the question, and we ran for it, hoping they would fire on us and we should be shot, as death was preferable to life at Port Arthur at that time. After a short pursuit my companions were taken, but managed to give the constables the slip for some days longer; but I was taken, and the whole party were tried before Captain Booth, and each received 100 lashes, with heavy irons, and to be chained to a ringbolt while we were stone-breaking, and in a small room by night.

I remained in this way for nearly 12 months, when Captain Booth released me, and once more sent me to ordinary hard labour with the other men. About four months afterwards I took the bush once more, with two men who knew it well.
We got to the place agreed on, and where I could see the main land at about two miles distance. We must get across to it, and had no boat. I was a very bad swimmer. and two miles was a long pull for a new beginner. But my two companions did not hesitate, but pulled off their trousers and plunged into the water, with me after them, with my trousers thrown over my neck, for I was determined to get over to the mainland or be drowned in the attempt. After swimming about a mile, one of my companions — and very soon after the other — was seized, and drawn down by the sharks. I was left alone to the mercy of the waves, expecting the same fate every minute. At last, after a desperate struggle, I got to the land, but had lost my trousers and shirt, and scrambled ashore quite naked. In this state I found myself alone in a bush that I did not know, and greatly grieved at the death of my two companions. I made a bed in the long grass and picked up some shellfish that kept me alive for three days. On the fourth day the constables saw me, and I was brought back to Port Arthur once more, where I was punished with 90 days’ solitary confinement and 12 months’ “E.H.L.C.” (extension with hard labour in chains).
After my 90 days’ solitary was done things took a change. Captain Booth left Port Arthur, and Mr. Champ came Commandant, who treated me with great kindness; he took off my leg irons and removed me from the chain gang and soon placed me as servant to Mr. Laidley, the commissariat officer at Port Arthur, and a better master I never had. I was with him three months when I was promoted into the commandant’s boat crew, and was going on well.

One day two gentlemen went out in their own boat to have a sail in the harbour, when they got capsized. The commandant’s crew launched his boat and rescued them. In reward for this I and others were removed from Port Arthur to Hobart Town, and sent to Glenorchy probation station, which was a great advance. I was here six months when I felt a longing desire to see Sydney again, and me and Thos. Grilling and Wm. Allom agreed to take the bush. Allom was to be leader, as he said he knew the country. We got away, and after a whole day and night, the next morning our leader brought us back close to the station. I then took the lead, and the first place we stuck up was Mr. T. Y. Lowe’s station to get arms. The next day was Sunday, and about dusk in the evening we stuck up Mr. White’s, in Kangaroo Bottom, where we got a double and single barrel gun and two brace of pistols, by which we could now stand fight with the constables. We also took three suits of clothes and other things we wanted.
The very next morning a party of constables came across us, and shots were exchanged, one of which tore the pouch off a constable’s belt, and it was a drawn battle. We now made for Brown’s River, hoping to seize a small craft there, but were disappointed. We then headed up for New Norfolk, and four miles above it we stuck up a farm-house, beginning with the huts and ending with the house, from which we took a supply of things needful. Allom now turned right round, and would soon have got us among the constables, when I took the lead, and made for the Dromedary, where Martin Cash once took up his refuge.
From the top of this hill, we could see for miles round the country. Among the rocks we made up a fire, and with melted snow made tea and had our supper, for we were hungry, and tired, and cold.

Next day Allom again took the lead. But I soon saw that he did not know the country, and I had some sharp words with him for deceiving us before we bolted by bragging of his acquaintance with it. We were very uncomfortable, a sign that misfortune was near. I took the lead through a thick scrub, but soon after I missed Gilling, for whom I had a sincere regard, and I called a halt for him to come up. After waiting a long time, I set to look for him, and cooeyed as loud as I dare; but I never saw him again. He sent me word afterwards, when he was lying under sentence in Launceston gaol, that he lost us by accident in taking a wrong turn, and was afraid to cooey.
Towards evening I and Allom made for the township or Green Ponds, and, after pitching on a place to camp in, Allom set out for the village to get some things we wanted. After waiting for him five or six hours I began to think he had fallen in with the constables, for he never came back. He was a resolute man, and had many good qualities; but he deceived me in saying he knew the bush of Tasmania. He told me afterwards, when I met him a prisoner in Norfolk Island, that he left me because he was afraid I would shoot him; but such a thing never entered my mind, and I always had a fear of shedding blood, though I often spoke rough to people I stuck up. When I found that Allom did not return, I was quite cast down. I was left to myself; ignorant of the country, hungry and tired, constables on the alert at all the townships, my comrades lost, and no hope of getting to the coast and escape.

I spent a very miserable night after Allom’s departure, and next day pushed on by myself to the Lovely Banks, where I was seen and challenged by a constable, who called on me to surrender. This roused me, and, levelling my gun at him, I ordered him to throw down his piece or I’d blow his head off. To my great astonishment he threw it down, at the first word. I bid him stand back, and then I took up his gun and fired it off, and rifled him of his ammunition. I was going to break his gun, but he begged hard of me to give it back to him, and did so and let him go. Yet this cowardly fellow afterwards swore in court that I fired five shots at him when I never fired at him at all.
I got some food at a house, and the second day after my encounter with the constable I reached Oatlands, but I was now too dejected to go any further. My lightness of heart, that never failed me before, now deserted me. At sundown I turned off the road some way and lighted a fire to have some refreshment, and then lay down to sleep very unhappy, and indifferent whether I ever woke again.
Next morning a stockman passing early through the bush saw me, and gave information to the constables at Oatlands police station, and I was soon surrounded by four of them well armed, captured, and sent down handcuffed to Hobart Town, where I was tried at the next assizes, and for the third time sentenced to transportation for life, and now with 10 years’ detention at Norfolk Island.



The foregoing was, in fact, written by Westwood, on my suggestion. To a sanguine and nervous temperament like his, a Norfolk Island cell was as irksome as stable and halter to a zebra of the Zulu deserts. He could read pretty well ; but he soon wearied of it, and sought relief for his restlessness in an attempt to break out of “prison thrall.” But the strong stone walls and solid flooring of freestone blocks of the new octagon gaol might defy the industry of Trenck himself. There was, however, a vulnerable point. The ceiling of the cells was only wooden planks, two inches thick, and 13ft. from the ground. Westwood resolved that the ceiling should be cut through, though the gaol authorities supplied neither step ladder or saw. A step ladder was dispensed with by his standing on the shoulders of a fellow prisoner confined in the same cell; a saw was smuggled into his hands by a confederate employed about the gaol. This “saw” was an instrument once well renown at Tasmanian penal stations and at Norfolk Island. It was of steel, about three or four inches long, easily carried and concealed. With one of these, and elevated on his cell mate’s neck, he cut away cautiously and painfully for a fortnight at the wooden ceiling. The gaol was only one story high. If a hole were made in the ceiling the shingles of the roof could be removed by the hand, and egress secured. But to get clear off, he must creep along the roof to the boundary wall at the risk of being shot by the military sentry within the gaol; and if he jumped down he was almost sure to drop into the grasp of the patrol constable outside; and if he could evade these difficulties and get into the lemon groves, their densest thicket and deepest gully could afford him a hiding-place and freedom only for a day. Yet, for this one day’s exemption from convict “chains and slavery,” he would gladly saw his anxious road through the ceilings of all the cells in the gaol. A prisoner in a next cell overheard the sawing, and hinted to the gaoler that there was “something up” in Westwood’s cell. The result was that turnkeys came and surprised him when he had well nigh completed his opening in the ceiling, removed him to another, and placed him in heavier fetters. For some days he was in great perturbation at being detected, and to turn his thoughts into a calmer channel, I recommended him to ask for paper and write his life. The idea seemed to please him. I knew it would be slow and tedious employment for him. But he got the paper, commenced writing, and there was no more trouble with him. The end of his story is told in my introductory remarks. P.

Spotlight: Exit Solomon Blay

Clipper (Hobart, Tas. : 1893 – 1909), Saturday 21 August 1897, page 4



One of the connecting links between Vandemonia and Tasmania was severed on Wednesday last, when old Solomon Blay, erstwhile hangman, shuffled. Old Sol. of late years has been a constant source of interest to a certain class of the rising football-cycling generation, and his tales of the olden times would have been of some moment had they been half as truthful as they were useless. An ancient identity, cognomened Gypsy Smith, who lives out somewhere in the wilds of New Town, on several occasions has held a warfare of words with old Sol., but the Brisbane Hotel audiences were never too appreciative of anything outside the rough-and-tumble side of humanity, and in consequence these little interviews, like some others, were not prolific of much useful information. Amongst the old gentleman’s (?) effects there is a box containing about two hundred pieces of knotted rope. These are the knots cut off the ropes of every man he has hanged. They are all labelled and ticketed, and form a most interesting collection of relics for those who are that way inclined. It is averred that old Sol. never saw a man hanged. He would officiate in all the wretched details to the letter, and when the sheriff’s signal warned him that the lever working the bolts was to be moved, he invariably turned his back upon the victim. In the Hobart gaol the old gallows, now happily falling into decay, was so situated that the executioner could, by using the left hand with his right, advance a step of the right foot and screen his face from the disappearing white-capped figure. It is said that when the notorious, but wrongfully idolised Martin Cash slipped through his fingers, old Blay lamented his, as he called it, loss in unmeasured terms. Why that fellow Cash should have ever been sent to Norfolk Island to have an easy billet under John Price, a man who admired him, Solomon Blay could never understand, and on Cash’s return to this island the pair have frequently, when meeting, taunted each other with each other’s discrepancies. In Cash’s memoirs, now out of print, he refers to the defunct hangman in tones of the supremest contempt. Blay was flagellator prior to his exaltation to the office of executioner, for his expertness in which position he obtained a full pardon and pension, and referring to him Martin Cash writes: ‘Of all the wretches attached to or in the employ of Her Majesty’s Government there are none so truly contemptible as the flagellator, and in all my experiences through life I never knew a man with one redeeming feature who ever filled that odious office. I generally found them to be treacherous, cruel, and cowardly . . . . I observed a man braced up in front of the door, the flagellator having cat in hand for readiness to perform his part of the drama. The constable gave the prisoner orders to strip, and having done so, the flagellator casually asked him the name of the highest mountain in his country. The prisoner replied that Ben Lomond was considered the loftiest, and by this time he was secured at the triangles. ‘Well,’ exclaimed the flagellator, ‘I’ll make you belive in less than five minutes that you had Ben Lomond on your back.”

Solomon Blay had a mortal horror of being photographed. All kinds of inducements were offered him to attend and be seated before the camera, but the softest blandishments failed in this matter. This, it was alleged, was due to the eccentricities of a certain person whose taste for the gruesome apparently overcame his natural discretion, and who suggested that an enlargement of the old man with a frame formed of the gilded knots of the ropes which had hanged the wretches he had officiated upon would have formed an interesting exhibit for the Royal Society!

He had a distinct aversion to the figure 7. He would, on occasions when the game of hazard was being played, remark ‘seven’s the main, we’ll all throw it some day.’ His record runs in sevens. In 1837 he was forwarded to Van Diemen’s Land from London for housebreaking. In 1847 he was elevated (!) from the prison to the office of executioner. In 1857 he received a full pardon on account of his usefulness (oh save the mark!). In 1887 he turned off his last man, Tim Walker, and in the year 1897 he threw a seven himself, and handed in his record to his Maker.

Spotlight: Trial of Kavenagh.

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


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

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

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

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

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

The prisoner — As you think proper, your Honor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Witness. — I did come free into the Colony.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spotlight: The Trial of Martin Cash – Second Day

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



This morning the court, with the space in front was crowded, if possible, more densely than it was yesterday; a few minutes before 10 o’clock, the jury was marshalled from “The Macquarie” by three javelin men, and escorted by some policemen, who had some difficulty in clearing an entrance for them into the court-house; precisely at 10 o’clock, Mr. Justice Montagu resumed his seat on the bench, and the court was opened. The prisoner being placed at the bar, Mr. Justice Montagu said, that in looking over his notes of the evidence, he had resolved upon the manner in which be should put the case to the jury; the learned counsel for the prisoner had taken an objection to the authority of Winstanley as constable, and to the “hue and cry,” which was not constituted in this colony as it formerly was in England; he had also stated, that there was no evidence to show that Winstanley knew that the prisoner was Martin Cash.

Mr. Macdowell replied, that it was his intention to put it to the jury, that Cash ought to have had some notice that Winstanley was a person in authority.

His Honor said, that would have been impossible: the matter occurring in the night time, and in a manner so instantaneous, the deceased could not have given any notice of his authority. His Honor then intimated, that he should put the case to the jury, on the following questions, which he should wish to have answered seriatim, after they had delivered their verdict: his Honor also requested that the jurors would write down the questions as he propounded them :—

1st If guilty, whether they thought that Winstanley, at the time he ran out into the street, had reasonable cause to suspect that the prisoner had committed a felony or other offence?

2nd. Whether they thought that, at that time, Winstanley had reasonable cause to believe or suspect, that the person he attempted to secure was an absconded offender, or a convicted offender illegally at large?

3rd. Did they think, that constables Thomas and Agar had reasonable ground to suspect or believe, that the prisoner at the bar was an absconded offender, illegally at large?

4th. Did they think the prisoner had committed a felony, by discharging a pistol at the constables, in Murray-street?

Upon these questions, his Honor wished a decided answer, should they return a verdict of Guilty against the prisoner; and there was another question, which he would also put to them, namely,—

5th. Whether at the time Martin Cash fired at Winstanley, they thought he intended to murder him, or do him some grievous bodily harm?

Having put these questions, his Honor remarked that he did not think there was anything in the conduct of Winstanley to reduce the case of the prisoner to manslaughter, and nothing to justify the use of so deadly a weapon as a pistol by the prisoner. His Honor also declared, that every man who joined in a hue and cry after a person suspected of felony, or other offence, was justified in pursuing him. Whether the offence was a felony or a misdemeanor, it was the duty of every one to assist in the pursuit; and it mattered not whether an offence had been actually committed or not, for it would be impossible for persons at a distance to ascertain in what a hue and cry originated. On the other hand, those who raised an unjust hue and cry were liable to be indicted for creating a breach of the peace, or a public disturbance.

The Attorney-General, while he perfectly concurred with the learned Judge, would request that his Honor would add to the other questions, the following:— Whether it was necessary for the prisoner to fire in defence of his life? whether (before he did so) he retreated as far as he could? and, in short, whether anything was done by the deceased, by using unnecessary violence, or otherwise, to justify the prisoner in using fire-arms? The learned gentleman contended that Winstanley had used no violence, merely holding out his arms; and that in a sudden affray of chance medley if the party assailed kills another, without using some degree of retreating, or, as it was called, “without going to the wall,” it would be murder; and he never knew a case of that kind mitigated to manslaughter. The Attorney-General here referred to certain authorities contained in East’s Pleas of the Crown, sub vocehomicide se defend in chance medley,” where the law was laid down by one of the first of lawyers, and had never been controverted. The learned counsel also quoted Hawkins’s Pleas of the Crown, and other authorities, in support of his opinion.

Mr. Macdowell now proceeded to address the jury in behalf of the prisoner; and the points of law being decided in reference to the evidence, he contended that, although the crime of murder consisted “in taking away the life of one of the Queen’s subjects,” yet it was necessary that it should be so taken away deliberately, or in the language of the law, with malice aforethought. The jury, who had attended to the important trial throughout with the most deep and earnest anxiety, would fail, he humbly apprehended, to discover, in the conduct of the prisoner, any of that malice aforethought which was required by law to constitute the crime of murder. There was something in the term “murder,” most revolting and shocking to reflect upon — it was a most foul and unnatural proceeding; but how stood the present case? There was a man, to use the strong language of the Attorney-General, a PROSCRIBED MAN! whose only offence on the present occasion was an effort to effect his emancipation, so to speak, from that society by which he was proscribed, and to free himself from a crowd of persons who were in hot pursuit of him! There was nothing to show that the prisoner and the unfortunate deceased had ever seen each other before, and it did seem to him (the learned gentleman) as different a case from malice aforethought as any two cases could possibly be. In the one case, they had the assassin selecting his prey, and awaiting the moment to compass his vile purpose; in the other, they had a man who had committed no offence in the town that any one knew of, hunted and pursued through the streets for his very life, till he suddenly and accidentally came in contact with the deceased; there was nothing to show that, as respected the firing of the pistols in Murray-street, Thomas did not fire his pistol first; Thomas, indeed, stated, that the prisoner fired first; but Agar, who was more calm and collected than Thomas possibly could have been, declares that he could not say which fired first, the report was like one and the same report. The learned counsel again submitted, that between this case and that of deliberate murder,- there was a vast distinction; and after commenting upon the alleged pointing of the pistols by the prisoner while being pursued, and the improbability, or indeed rather the impossibility, of Mr. Ebenezer Smith seeing the size of a pistol by its flash, while standing in advance of the person firing, contended that the attempt to apprehend the prisoner was not justifiable, unless he was made acquainted with Winstanley’s authority; he referred also again to the hue and cry not being in force in the colony; the learned gentleman put it to the jury, of course under His Honor’s direction, that the prisoner could not be held responsible for Winstanley’s death, unless he had some notice of the authority by which he acted. (In support of this opinion, Mr. Macdowell quoted Forsters Crown Law, article “Homicide.”).

His Honor observed, that the case to which the learned counsel referred, was very different. That case had reference to frays or riots, and by common law, if a constable during such fray or riot held up his staff, or otherwise declared his authority, that was an indication for the rioters to keep the peace; here there was no riot or tumult.

Mr. Macdowell. — The deceased interfered to stop a man in the street, for which it was very certain he ought to have had some authority.

His Honor. — The law was this: — if a man apprehended another without just cause, he was liable to indictment; so also were the originators of an unjust hue and cry.

After some further observations relative to the evidence respecting the pistols, Mr. Macdowell said, that he had undertaken the defence of the prisoner with great unwillingness, on account of his indisposition; but, learning from the prisoner, that if he, Mr. Macdowell, would not defend him, he would not have anyone else, be deemed it his duty to do so — and he had so done to the best of his ability and as well as physical capacity would allow; he trusted that the jury would give such a verdict as would be satisfactory alike to the crown, to the public, and to the prisoner’s counsel.

His Honor addressed the Jury at some length and with much ability, clearly pointing out the law of the case as was laid down on the several points, during the progress of the trial. All that the jury had to do was to find whether the deceased came to his death by the gun-shot wound, and whether that wound was inflicted by the prisoner. If they found the prisoner Guilty, there was malignity about the case; every argument had been used, and every question raised by the prisoner’s counsel upon the points of law, with great ingenuity and ability; but in his Honor’s mind the case was perfectly simple. His Honor then referred again to the questions, which he intended to put seriatim to the jury, and read over the whole of the evidence, commenting upon it as he proceeded. He deprecated the negligence — as it would seem — of the police authorities, in not taking Winstanley’s statement of the transaction, and gave great praise to the conduct of Mr. Cunliffe, “to whose coolness, courage, and promptitude, the public were indebted for the capture of the prisoner.” Those persons who refused to aid in the pursuit when called upon by Cunliffe, his Honor imputed great blame, as not only a cowardly act but a “gross dereliction of duty as good citizens and subjects,” and he regretted that their names were not known to the police, that they might be prosecuted. He directed them to discard all previous impressions as far as they could — from their minds, and to consider their verdict upon the evidences upon which alone they were to decide; and concluded by saying, that in his opinion, the offence was murder — deliberate murder — a very bad case indeed.

The Jury retired, and after an absence of twenty minutes, returned a verdict of Guilty generally; and an answer in the affirmative to the questions of the learned Judge, with the exception of the second, which they answered in the negative — His Honor, with reference to the fourth question, desired them to say, whether they were of opinion the prisoner shot at Thomas or Agar?

The Foreman replied, that they were of opinion he shot at constable Thomas.

The learned Judge perfectly concurred in the finding of the Jury; he addressed the prisoner in a brief but a very feeling manner, and while he held out to him no hope of mercy in this world, he should, nevertheless, remand him, in order again to look over the evidence, and to re-consider the points of law which had been raised by his counsel, who had kindly undertaken his defence when suffering under severe indisposition; he conjured him to entertain no hope that his life would be spared, but to believe that the extreme sentence of the law would be speedily carried into effect, for his Honor had no doubt that everything had been done that could have been done in his unfortunate case.

The prisoner then said, I have always been against taking the life of any man; I would do anything rather than deliberately do so. I never acted in a cowardly manner, nor in any other way than became a man. I have saved lives in the bush, and prevented many murders; if I had been a man to do murder, there would have been many murders committed in the bush. When we were in the bush we acted like men to every one; when we went to a house we took what we wanted, but we did no violence to man or woman; I could not suffer this. I hope you will not consider I am a man that would do a cowardly and deliberate murder; if I was driven into close quarters with a man I would fire at him and try all I could to get away; but I would not kill him, I would cripple him.

His Honor. — I do not doubt but you have throughout endeavoured to avoid shedding blood or using violence; from all that we have read and heard of you this is true; but still, I cannot hold out any hope to you.

The Prisoner. — I beg your Honor’s pardon, I did not mean that; I did not beg for my life — I do not value it one straw.

Spotlight: The Trial of Martin Cash – First Day

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



It being known that Martin Cash would be tried to-day, for the wilful murder of constable Peter Winstanley, the court was crowded with respectable citizens for some time before His Honor Mr. Justice Montagu took his seat on the Bench, and the greatest anxiety prevailed to obtain a view of the prisoner. At ten o’clock His Honor took his seat, and Martin Cash was ordered to be placed at the bar. The prisoner walked into the dock in the most unconcerned manner, which he preserved during the trial, standing erect, with his arms folded; he was dressed on this occasion in a blue jacket and trowsers, a blue striped shirt, a black handkerchief round his neck, and a green one round his head to cover the numerous wounds he had received at the time of his capture; while the information was being read, he gazed scowlingly at the dense crowd of spectators which filled the area of the Courthouse. The prisoner was then charged in a very elaborate manner, with shooting Peter Winstanley on the 29th of August, with “a certain pistol, of the value of 5s., being then and there loaded with gunpowder,” which gunpowder exploded, and discharged a leaden bullet, which did “strike, penetrate, and wound” the left breast of the said Peter Winstanley; of which wound the said Peter Winstanley “did languish, and languishing did live,” until he died on the 31st of August. To this information the prisoner pleaded, in a firm voice. Not Guilty! The Attorney-General, assisted by the Solicitor-General, conducted the prosecution, and Mr. Macdowell defended the prisoner. The following Jurors were then sworn: Messrs. Corbett, (Foreman), Blackhall, White, Bramwell, Holmes, Season, Large, Curry, Somers, Sadler, Meredith, and Wellard. Upon the application of Mr. Macdowell, all the witnesses, except the medical gentlemen, were ordered out of court. The Attorney-General having stated that the prisoner, as the jury would have learnt by the information which had been read by the officer of the court, was charged with the wilful murder of Peter Winstanley, observed that it would be folly in him to suppose that when the name of Martin Cash was first mentioned, the jury heard it for the first time; it would be gratifying to him indeed to know that this was the first time they had heard of that unfortunate man, all that he could do in the onset was to implore them, as far as in them lay, to divest their minds of any reports they may have seen in the newspapers, or have heard in other quarters — to discard in fact from their minds every particle of information they might have heard elsewhere. It ill became him to adduce any facts relative to the previous life or former transactions of the prisoner unconnected with the present case: but, anticipating the defence which his learned friend intended to adopt, it would be necessary for him to state certain facts which he otherwise should not have referred to, for he felt quite confident that his learned friend would suffer no point of law to escape, nor omit any ingenuity and effort in behalf of the prisoner. In looking to the manner in which he the Attorney-General should conduct this case, and in anticipation of a portion of the defence contemplated by his learned friend, he should have to show that the unfortunate man now placed at the bar, was a proscribed man, having absconded from the Penal Settlement at Port Arthur: and that he was to be captured at all risks, at all hazards, and for a specified reward: he did not think this course would be objected to, but if it was, he conceived that his Honor would overrule the objection.

The person who was wounded on the 29th of August, was sworn in as a constable, who for certain purposes was always considered to be on duty when his services were required; it was on this account that he, the Attorney-General intended to offer such evidence as he had described. Having done this he should lay before the jury such a body of evidence, as would enable them to come to a conclusion as to the guilt of the prisoner; it was for them to judge from the evidence, without fear or affection, and irrespective of the reports they might previously have heard. The learned counsel then entered into a brief and succinct account of the capture of Cash; and in reference to the circumstance of Winstanley hearing the cry of “stop him— it’s Cash, the bushranger,” as uttered by the witness, Cunliffe, observed, that if Winstanley had not been a constable, it was his duty, as a good subject, to capture the prisoner; and in doing so, Mrs. Smith would tell them that he did no more than his duty. He used no violence — he committed no assault; but did the least that could be done, by merely extending his arms towards the prisoner, who immediately shot him. Cash, it would be shown, struggled violently when on the ground and it was necessary, perhaps, to use some violence in taking him. He was a man of great prowess, of great strength, and resolute determination; and one of the constables beat him on the head with a pistol, while another constable kicked him on the head. The learned gentleman regretted that it was necessary to beat him thus severely; but the circumstances of the case seemed to require more than ordinary exertion, on the part of those engaged in his capture.

The Attorney-General concluded his address by directing the jury not to allow anything to operate against the return of a fair and a conscientious verdict, and again implored them to discard from their minds any preconceived impressions which they might have imbibed from hearsay reports. The learned gentleman then proceeded to call his witnesses, who delivered the same testimony as we have already reported in our account of the inquest, observing the following order of examination:— Mr. Price, Constables Thomas and Agar, Messrs. McDonald and Cunliffe, Mrs. Smith, Mr. Ebenezer Smith, Drs. Crowther and Officer. A considerable time was occupied in discussion upon technical points of evidence, chiefly with regard to the authority of Winstanley as a constable, and the identity of the prisoner with “Martin Cash, the bushranger,” his Honor rejecting the Gazette as prima facie evidence until its publication was proved, for which purpose Mr. Barnard, the Government printer, was called. There was some evidence given which, as bearing more especially upon the particular points of the case, we think it necessary to repeat; and, first, a portion of that deposed by constable Thomas, who was examined to the following effect by his Honor.

I swear I heard “Martin Cash” called out before we got to Argyle-street, as well as after — but I do not know by whom; I heard it called by several people before and after the pistol was fired off.

Cross-examined by Mr. Macdowell. – It was about twenty-six minutes before nine o’clock that I first saw the prisoner in Murray-street; I did not speak to him; it was not a very dark nor a very-light night; when the prisoner first spoke to me, it was, I should think, about 700 or 800 yards from Brisbane-street; I swear I heard two pistols fired in Murray-street—one by me, and one by the prisoner; I was following him, anxious to apprehend him, and he was running, anxious to get away; he never stopped to interfere with me; I found him on the ground.

By his Honor. — I knew the man that was running; I first knew it was Cash in Murray-street, from the description I had heard of him, and from Agar, who said, “Tom, this is the man we want;” I said, ” yes;” I picked him out from the description I had heard, and from his accent; I understood, by what Agar said, it was Martin Cash; I was looking for Martin Cash, or Jones; we were stationed at this spot for that purpose; I ran after Cash to take him prisoner, being an absentee, and having committed robberies; I had been instructed by my superior officer to take him on that charge if I could — by Mr. Symonds, the senior district constable; he told me to take him as a thief, a runaway, an absentee. At the close of Mrs. Smith’s examination, after she had mentioned the period of Winstanley’s de-cease, his Honor complained that no inquiry had been made by the magistrates, or the Coroner (as we understood), of Winstanley before his death, as to whether he had heard the hue and cry, and upon what grounds he had acted in attempting, the capture of the prisoner; also, as to whether he, Winstanley, knew the prisoner to have been Cash, or believed him to have committed come felony. The Attorney-General stated, that an inquiry was proposed, but forbidden by the medial attendant. His Honor observed that there had been great xxxx somewhere, and he should inquire into the matter. He never heard of a case where an inquiry was not made of the wounded man, as to the circumstances and cause of his death. His Honor should say nothing upon the subject at present.

Constable Thomas was recalled and questioned, as to whether he had seen the Proclamation or placard, offering a reward for the apprehension of Cash and describing his person; when he stated that he had, and that he had raised the hue and cry from no motives of reward; he would have raised it had he never seen the placard. (Cash, when the witness made this avowal, laughed contemptuously.) Upon this he was cross-examined by Mr. Macdowell, when he said, again, that Agar told him in Murray-street, that the man was Cash; his reply to Agar was “Yes; ” he did not remember saying to Agar, “do you think so?” he could not positively swear that he did not use those words, but he did not believe he did. Dr. Crowther, after describing the cause of Winstanley’s death, stated, that after he was first called to him, he returned, when he found him better and perfectly sensible, and able to relate how the accident occurred; when witness first saw the deceased, he, witness, thought the wound was mortal, and on his return he thought so, also; he had a conversation with the deceased, who said something to him relative to the nature of the wound and its probable result; this was between eleven at night and two o’clock in the morning; when Winstanley said this, he was in a perfectly sane state of mind; he said repeatedly that he was dying —that he was a dead man; it was hard, he said, to be killed by such a rascal, or words to that effect; witness suggested to him the propriety of preparing for an event that might take place in a short time; Winstanley made no reply but shut his eyes and groaned as if in pain; nothing fell from Winstanley expressive of the slightest hope of recovery; witness left him under the impression, that Winstanley himself thought he would die; at this visit Winstanley related the circumstanoes under which he came to his death ; he said, that when be heard the landlady (Mrs. Smith) call out “Peter, there is a thief,” he went into the road, and saw a man running down the street; he raised his arms attempting to stop him, and instantly received a shot; he exclaimed immediately, “the rascal has shot me,” or “I am shot;” witness did not recollect the exact expression; Winstanley said he then left the man who shot him, and was carried into the house; witness was not aware that he named any person’s name as having shot him; he made use of this expression, “who would have suspected that man to have been armed?” On his cross-examination. Dr. Crowther said, he extracted the ball after death; it was unnecessary to have done so before, as it would only have put the deceased to needless pain and would have accelerated his death, as he had already lost a great deal of blood. Dr. Officer concurred in the propriety of the treatment adopted by Dr. Crowther, and coincided in the cause of Winstanley’s death; it would have been highly improper to have extracted the ball during the life of the deceased, as it might have extinguished life; there were, doubtless, cases where it was proper and necessary to extract the ball, but this was not one of them. The case for the prosecution being closed, Mr. Macdowell rose and addressed the Court:—He submitted that upon that information, and upon the evidence adduced, there was no case to go to the jury, the charge against the prisoner being that of Wilful Murder. The learned counsel admitted that the evidence went to show that the deceased came by his death by an act of the prisoner, but there was nothing to show that the prisoner was actuated by malice aforethought; on the contrary, it was clear that the prisoner did not know the deceased, who, as the learned counsel should contend, without any legal authority, stopped the prisoner as he was proceeding along tbe street. The original attempt which the constables Thomas and Agar made to apprehend tbe prisoner, was a question altogether irrespective of the interference of Winstanley; if those men had reason to suspect that the prisoner at tbe bar was as absconded offender, there was nothing to show that the unfortunate deceased had any such knowledge. It had been said, that a “hue and cry” was raised; but that old formality of the law has been long since abrogated; the statutes which enacted and supported such a proceeding have been repealed, except in the instance of the simple offence of angling in a river in tbe day time on a Sunday. It was certainly in evidence that the constables Thomas and Agar, with a number of other persons, pursued the prisoner with loud cries, but that, legally speaking, was not a “hue and cry;” there was, in fact, now no such thing; and even when such was in existence, tbe constables raising the cry were obliged to be armed with a special warrant. Under those circumstances, if any person who joined in the hue and cry, for people were compelled to do so, met with his death, that was murder; in the present unfortunate case, there was no warrant to apprehend, neither was there a knowledge of any offence committed. The learned counsel quoted from Blackstone’s Commentaries, an explanation of tbe old “hue and cry,” as enacted by the 4th and 5th of William and Mary, and the repeal of the laws in reference to them, by the 7th and 8th Geo. IV. His Honor observed, that the “hue and cry” to which the learned counsel adverted, and which had been repealed, had reference only to certain particular offences; it was still applicable in cases like the present, and any person was justified in attempting to apprehend a suspected felon who was running from his pursuers. Mr. Macdowell would then admit that, but, supposing that the hue and cry was proper, was there anything to show that it had ever reached the de-ceased? all that they had heard on this point was, that Mrs. Smith had told Winstanley there was a thief running away, and that there upon he immediately ran out to apprehend him. Then there was the dying statement of the deceased to Dr. Crowther, in which be plainly infers that be did not know who tbe prisoner at the bar was; he Winstanley observed “who would have supposed that the fellow was armed?” The learned counsel submitted that the offence which the prisoner had committed could not be murder. No one could regret more deeply than himself the lamentable consequences that had ensued, but he must say that Winstanley having interposed in a manner for which he was not authorised, the consequences however deplorable rested upon his head and upon his bead alone. His Honor could not concur in the view of the case which had been taken by tbe learned counsel, neither could he allow if to go forth to the public, that a constable in the exercise of his functions, was not entitled to the protection of the law, because as had been averred, the statutes respecting hue and cry were repealed, they were in his Honor’s opinion still in force for all practical purposes in cases similar to the present. The Attorney-General briefly replied, he said that the statutes enforcing the hue and cry were only enacted in aid of the common law, by this law the deceased, even as a good subject and citizen, was called upon to act, and he was bound to interfere as a constable when he heard cries in the streets, if it were only to protect the pursued party from the violence of his pursuers. His Honor having conferred some time with Mr. Hone, the Master of the Court, who sat on the hench during the whole trial, observed that he was very happy to have his views of the case concurred in by the learned Master of tbe Supreme Court. His Honor then explained the law in reference to the justifiable interference of officers attempting to arrest suspected offenders; it was for the jury to say whether the unfortunate man Winstanley was justified in his conduct; if they were satisfied of that, be should call upon them for a verdict if not, he should reserve the point; at all events there was a clear case to go to the jury. Mr. Macdowell who was evidently labouring under severe indisposition, proceeded to address the jury, but his Honor perceiving his exhaustion, suggested an adjournment; to this the learned counsel acceded and the court was accordingly adjourned until the next morning at ten o’clock. The jury were then conducted under the charge of Mr. Under-sheriff Crouch, to “The Macquarie,” where they were allowed fire and refreshments, and where they remained excluded from communication from without until the next morning. There was a report in the Town that Mrs. Cash, the prisoner’s wife was present during a portion of the day, we did not recognize her amongst the few females who had the courage to brave the crowd and gain admittance into the court-house.


Spotlight: Apprehension and Committal of Martin Cash

Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 – 1857), Tuesday 5 September 1843, page 3




On Friday morning a highly respectable Jury was summoned to enquire into the death of Constable Peter Winstanley, who had been shot by Martin Cash, in Brisbane-street, on Tuesday night when in the act of capturing that daring and desperate man, and who expired on Thursday morning, at the Old Commodore. As Winstanley’s body lay at that house, and as he was shot opposite the door, the Jury was summoned to attend there, and accordingly, at ten o’clock on Friday morning the following Jury was impanelled :— Mr. Rout, senior, Foreman ; Messrs. J. Robertson, J. Johnston, J. Wilkinson, E. Howe, W. Lindsay, and S. A.Tegg. Having viewed the body of the deceased, and returned to the jury jury-room, the Coroner, Mr. Champ addressed them and observing that as there would be great impropriety, as must be obvious to them, in having Martin Cash dragged there through the streets, and as it was desirable that he should be present, at the enquiry, it was proposed that the inquest should be held at the gaol ; he also directed the jury to discard from their minds the various contradictory reports they must have heard, and judge the case solely by the evidence to be adduced.

Mr. Rout, the foreman, believed, that, according to a recent law, it was not necessary that the party accused should be present at the enquiry. The Coroner said, as we understood him, that perhaps it was not legally necessary, but in the present instance it was highly desirable. The jury accordingly repaired to the gaol, and about half-past ten the enquiry commenced. The jurors having taken their seats, Martin Cash, was brought into the room, very heavily ironed, so much so, indeed, that he was assisted up the stairs by three persons ; he looked embrowned and weather-beaten ; the upper part of his face was cut and bruised, but the cap which he wore concealed the injuries inflicted upon his head by the constable Thomas Thomas, who broke the butt of his horse pistol in beating him over the head [see his evidence] ; the prisoner was dressed or rather, scantily covered with a flannel jacket and trowsers, ragged at the knee, and exposing his thigh, without shoe or stocking ; he sank into his seat in sullen indifference and sat scowling, and apparently unconcerned, and with his arms folded during the examination of the several witnesses. Before the examination was commenced, Mr. Champ addressed the prisoner, and told him that he had sent for him, in order that he might be present at the enquiry ; so that he might have an opportunity to hear the evidence, and to put such questions, to the witnesses as he might think proper.

Prisoner (in a careless manner) — Oh! there is no occasion to say anything here.

The Coroner wished him to pay attention to the evidence. He had thought it better for the prisoner to be present, seeing that he stood charged with the murder of the deceased, whether rightly or not he, the Coroner could not say.

Mrs Mary Ann Smith.— I am the landlady of the Old Commodore public house in Brisbane-street ; I had known the deceased, Peter Winstanley, for several years ; he was at my house on Tuesday night, when he told me he was a prisoner of the crown, and had two or three months to serve before he got his emancipation ; about twenty minutes before nine on Tuesday night, the deceased was in my bar, having been in the house about half an hour ; I heard a cry of “stop that man!” I ran into the street, and saw a man running a-head of his pursuers, and going down Brisbane-street, towards the Government paddock ; there were a great many people after him, and as near him as the Man of War public-house ; I called to Winstanley, and said, “Peter, come out and stop this man, who has been thieving or murdering his wife ;” the man was running in the middle of the road ; Peter Winstanley came out instantly, and stood in the road, opposite the man who was running ; Winstanley held his arms in the middle of the road ; the other man ran against him with some force, and then drew back a little, and fired ; I did not see with what the man fired, but I saw a flash, and heard a report, I should say of a pistol ; Winstanley cried out, “Oh, Mrs. Smith, I am shot — I am a dead man ;” he came towards me, and leaned against me, and I and my son assisted him into the house ; when he entered the house, he fell on his back ; I cannot tell what became of the other man ; there was a great rush and noise in the street, and I locked the door instantly ; the deceased was standing about two yards from me when he was shot ; I sent immediately for Doctors Meyer and Crowther ; just before I heard the shot, the man who was running appeared to take some-thing from about his breast, and he held out his arm towards the deceased ; there was no one else standing by him ; the flash seemed to come from his hand ; I am quite positive that the man who was running was the man who fired the shot ; I did not see his face ; he was dressed in dark clothes ; there was no light, except from the fire-arms, by which I could distinguish that the man was tall, and that he was dressed in dark clothes ; I did not observe what was on his head, or what kind of trousers he had on ; Dr. Crowther came about five minutes after Winstanley was shot ; he was then lying on the ground, where he fell ; Dr. Meyer was very ill ; he went away, as he could not attend upon the deceased ; nobody had interfered with the deceased, or touched him, before Dr. Crowther came ; he had not spoken at all ; when Dr. Crowther came, the deceased’s clothes were taken off, and he was removed to bed ; I saw a hole in his side before he was put to bed, and while the doctors were examining him, the wound was bleeding ; Dr. Crook was also there, and he and Dr. Crowther attended the deceased till he died ; I saw no other marks of violence on his body ; the deceased died a little before eleven o’clock yesterday (Thursday) morning ; I knew the deceased to have been a constable, but did not call to him in that capacity ; I should have called to any one.

On being asked if he wished to put any questions to Mrs. Smith, Cash replied — “I have no wish to put any questions to the woman ; I don’t know her — what questions should I put to her ?”

In answer to a question by the Coroner, Mrs. Smith said, there were two lamps near — one over her door, and another at the corner of the street, by the church ; she could not at all distinguish the features of the man who fired.

John Price, Esq., Police Magistrate for Hobart Town, deposed as follows :— I know the deceased, as “Peter Winstanley,” he was a constable since the 10th April, 1842, and was attached to the Hobart Town Police Force ; he was not on duty on Tuesday last ; I had sent him up the country on special service, with two absconders in his charge ; constables are always considered to be on duty when their services are required ; I know the prisoner Martin Cash, I know him well ; I first saw him about eighteen months since ; he is a prisoner of the crown and an absconder from Port Arthur ; I tried him summarily and sentenced him eighteen months’ ago, to hard labour in chains for two years, at Port Arthur ; I sentenced him for absconding ; I think, also, he had two years extension of sentence, he being a seven years’ man ; I have seen his name in the Gazette, as having absconded from Port Arthur ; there is no other Martin Cash in the colony ; there is a Martin Cass, but not Cash ; I know of a Proclamation offering a reward for the apprehension of the prisoner, published by authority of the Government ; I have also issued warrants for his apprehension ; this was known generally to the police, but I cannot say whether the deceased knew it ; I issued a warrant for robbing the Coach — a highway robbery, likewise as being a prisoner at large with fire arms ; on being told that Winstanley was dead, Cash said he was glad ; I think it right to say, however, that he sent me a message this morning, saying, he was sorry for the expression he had used relative to Winstanley’s death ; Cash at first refused to have his wounds dressed, until I threatened to use force for the purpose.

The Police Record Book was now produced, by which it was found that Cash had been tried summarily on 2nd June 1842, by Mr. Price & Mr. Gunn, when he received two years’ extension of his sentence, and was recommended to be sent to Port Arthur, he being at large a long time and suspected of having committed several felonies.

Mr. Ebenezer Smith, son of Mrs. Smith, stated, that on hearing the cry of “stop thief,” or “stop that man,” he ran out, and he corroborated so much of his mother’s evidence as proved the shooting of the deceased ; he stated, also, that Winstanley grappled with the man before he drew back and fired ; Winstanley also held the man till some of his pursuers came up, when he let him go, and said, he was a dead man ; the pistol which the man fired was a foot long ; witness distinctly saw it by the flash; the man was running with his arms crossed when witness first saw him ; as soon as he shot Winstanley the people came up and grappled with him ; he struggled a great deal to get away, and kept the people away till he got to the curb, when he fell ; witness thought there were two or three hundred people following him ; when he was down a man beat him with the butt-end of a large pistol, while the people called out — “use him fair, don’t kill him!” The man that beat him was a tall man dressed in light clothes, but witness would not know him again ; witness never lost sight of the tall man from the time he fired at Winstanley till he fell down ; he got by some means to the foot of the sign post, where, in about five minutes afterwards another pistol went off ; witness did not know by whom that was fired ; after this there were cries of “murder him! kick him!” and the man with the pistol beat him again ; he must have been dragged to the sign-post by the movement of the people ; all the time he was on the ground he struggled very much ; witness heard that a man was shot in the face by the second pistol ; about ten minutes after the second pistol was fired, the man was got up and taken to the Penitentiary ; witness could not trace the man’s features, and did not know whether it was the same that shot Winstanley ; he was, however quite certain that the man that was beaten with the pistol was the same as was taken to the Peniten-tiary ; being requested to look at Cash, the witness did so, but said, that he did not see his features sufficiently distinct to enable him to recognize him, he had on a dark dress but no cap when witness saw him.

By the Foreman.—He appeared to have on a close-bodied coat, down to the knees ; his clothes were dark.

Prisoner. — Have you wrote down everything this young man knows about me ?

Coroner. — He has not mentioned you yet .

Prisoner. — Well, the man you think to have been me ; he says had on a frock coat.

Coroner. — He says it was so dark, he did not rightly know ; but I will write it down, if you wish it.

Prisoner. — Ah! well —

John M’Donald. — I live at No. 45, Brisbane-street ; at half-past eight o’clock on Tuesday evening I heard the report of a pistol, in the direction of Murray-street ; I ran out, and saw a man running, and some people crying ” Stop him ;” he turned round the corner into Brisbane-street ; I went up to him, when he said, “They want to rob me ;” I went closer to him, when he said, “If you dare to stop me, you are a dead man!” No one else was near, and I was in advance of the man. On hearing this, I let him pass, but hearing cries of “He is a murderer” I threw off my coat, and feeling an irresistible inclination to stop him, I ran after him ; when near Roxboro’ House, he turned deliberately round, and fired at me — fortunately, the pistol did not go off ; he was not then running very fast, but appeared exhausted ; a man named Cunliffe came up ; he was close to me when the man pointed the pistol ; I think I was rather the foremost of the two ; I could not swear it was a pistol the man pointed at me, as I did not see one, but I heard a snap ; I saw neither flash nor sparks ; we both continued to run, calling — “Stop him, stop him !” we passed several persons, ; some laughed, some stood still ; we came near the Old Commodore, when a man rushed out of the house ; I saw Cash shoot him ; I never lost sight of Cash since I first pursued him. [The witness here corroborated the shooting, as explained by the other witnesses.] Cunliffe and I then closed upon the man, and threw him on his back ; a constable came up, and took up a pistol that was lying on the ground, and beat Cash about the head ; we succeeded in holding him on the ground till other persons came up ; I should not know the constable again who beat Cash with the pistol ; thinking Cash was going to bite my leg, I let go my hold, when Cash took out another pistol, and fired it off at random ; I heard some one say he was shot in the face, and he ran off; I am not quite sure that the constable took the pistol off the ground.

The Coroner here desired the witness to be more particular in his answers, as it was a matter of great consequence to the prisoner, observing that he said just now the constable picked it up.

Prisoner. — He has sworn it.

The witnesses were here ordered to withdraw, and M’Donald’s examination was resumed — I am quite positive Cash is the man ; I never lost sight of him until he was taken to the Penitentiary ; I did not see the pistol fired, but I heard the report and could feel him rummaging about his breast, and I immediately heard the pistol go off ; the constables soon after handcuffed Cash, and lodged him in the Penitentiary ; I did not know the deceased ; neither can I say that the body I saw this morning was that of the person shot by Cash.

By the Foreman. — I could tell by his accent that he was an Irishman ; he spoke like Cash, whom I heard speak at the Penitentiary ; I was leaning over his face, and could recognise his features ; it was dark, but I could see sufficiently for that purpose.

By Mr. Lindsay. — I could not say what dress the prisoner had on ; I believe it was dark ; I will not swear positively, but I think he had a coat on ; I asked the constable his name who struck Cash with the pistol, but he would not tell me ; I took off his hairy cap, put it in Cash’s hat, and gave them to Mr. Gunn. On being pressed, as to his recognition of Cash’s face, the witness said, that when he was in the “Tench,” he saw his face distinctly by the lamps, and he had never lost sight of him ; he could say positively that Cash was the same man that was lodged in the Penitentiary.

By the Foreman — I was six or eight yards behind Cash when Winstanley first came out of the “Old Commodore,” and within two yards of him when he shot the deceased ; he just put out his hands, and touched Cash, when he was shot ; the deceased did not hold Cash after he was shot.

The prisoner declined to ask this witness any questions.

Charles Cunliffe. — I reside in Murray-street, and am a carpenter and joiner by trade ; on Tuesday evening, between eight and nine o’clock, I heard the report of a pistol ; I went out to my gate, and saw a man coming in a direction from Veteran’s Row, in a blue dress ; I ran to meet him, and asked him what was the matter ; he turned round and pointed something at me ; I will not swear it was a pistol, or, if it was, that he snapped it ; he made me no answer ; I then heard a voice behind the prisoner, saying, “stop him — it’s Cash — stop thief!” or words to that effect ; I then pursued him down Brisbane-street, and overtook him near the Independent chapel ; he then turned round, and pointed at me again ; I drew back, and cried out, “stop him — it’s Cash, the bushranger ;” I met three people, who crossed to the other side of the road ; no one was then with me, but some persons were behind me ; we ran till we came to Trinity Church, when I saw a man run across the street. (The witness here corroborated the manner in which the deceased was shot.) After Cash fired, I seized him by the shoulder and said, “you murdering rascal, do you know what you have done ;” I threw him on his back, and M’Donald and I fell upon him ; I did not see M’Donald till I put my hand on Cash’s shoulder ; I put my hand on his throat, and my knee on his chest, a constable came up, to whom I said, “keep off, for God’s sake — he has got fire-arms about him ;” other persons then came up, and as they were taking Cash’s fire-arms away, a pistol went off, and slightly wounding me in the hand, shot a person in the face ; Cash was then secured, and conveyed to the Penitentiary ; he was there searched, and one or two watches, and some notes, were taken from him, but no fire-arms ; I recognise him as the same person I had seen conducted to the Tench ; he was smothered with blood, so that Mr. Gunn could not recognise him ; the prisoner Cash is that man ; I did not call out to the prisoner to stop till I captured him ; the man who ran out of the Old Commodore must have heard me say, it was “Cash, the bushranger ;” he must have heard me a quarter of a mile off from the way I hallooed ; I did not know at the time who that man was, but I have since heard he belonged to the police ; I do not recollect whether I saw any pistol at the time Cash was taken ; there was one went off at the time, which I felt, but I did not see it ; my hand was on the muzzle of the pistol, when it went off.

By a Juryman (Mr. Howe) — I saw a constable beat the prisoner on the head with something that I heard was a pistol ; this I prevented ; this pistol could not be the one that went off.

Thomas Thomas. — I am a constable, and was on duty, with constable Agar, on Tuesday night, in Murray-street, near the Blue Bells of Scotland public-house, between eight and nine o’clock ; I saw two men coming down the street, a tall one and a short one ; they came from Brisbane-street towards the Blue Bells of Scotland ; they stopped, while Agar and myself kept out of sight ; we then stepped out to them, when the short man asked Agar “if he knew a man named Pratt about here?” Agar said he did not exactly, and asked me if I knew him? I said, I did not exactly, but there is a man of that name living hereabouts, on the other side of the creek, first house on the right, up a sort of alley ; the short man went up towards the house, about twenty yards ; the tall man stood with me, and Agar went after the short one ; the short man turned back, and said to the tall one, “here, I want you!” he was away about a minute, but did not go into the house ; the tall man took no notice, but went on towards Brisbane-street, and I kept behind him, Agar going with us ; the tall man must have heard the other ; he quickened his pace and began to walk very fast, and set to running, when I ran too, and said, “you must stop, my man ;” he stopped directly, and pointed his pistol at me and fired ; I was ready for him, and fired at the same time ; I saw his pistol most distinctly ; he then set off running very fast, and Agar and I ran after him down Murray-street, towards Brisbane-street ; before he reached Brisbane-street, he stopped, and pointed his pistol two or three times, but did not fire ; I pointed mine too, but I had nothing in it ; we stuck to him ; I could not see the pistol ; another man came up, and Cash fired again, but whether at me, or Agar, or the other man, I cannot tell ; he actually fired in Brisbane-street, about one hundred and fifty or two hundred yards from the corner; I do not know the other man who first came up ; I am quite positive Cash fired, I saw the flash ; Cunliffe had not joined us at that time ; this was in Brisbane-street, about one hundred and fifty or two hundred yards from the corner of Murray-street ; when Cunliffe joined us he asked what was the matter? I was now getting “winded,” and Cunliffe being fresh, I said to him, “my good man, take him if you can, it is Cash, follow him up ;” Cunliffe pursued him ; he joined us first-near Elizabeth-street.

The Coroner here directed Cunliffe to be re-called, when Cash said, “Can’t you take one man’s statement at a time? You had better call them all up at once, and tell them what to say.” Thomas recognised Cunliffe, who said, that Thomas had told him that it was Cash the bushranger.

Examination continued — I followed the pursuit, raising a hue and cry with the others, till we came to the Old Commodore, when the man Cash was down ; I then set to, and being satisfied it was Cash, struck him on the head with my pistol ; this pistol I had from Mr. Symonds, Chief District Constable ; I broke it beating Cash, about the head ; I beat the man because I thought I stood a good chance of being shot if I did not secure him ; when the pistol broke I seized him by the throat, and called upon Agar, who had a thick pair of boots, to kick him about the head ; when he was nearly strangled and pretty quiet, I called to Agar to put the handcuffs on ; while putting on the handcuffs, Agar took a pistol from

him, which went off at the same moment ; Agar has that pistol ; (it was a small pistol, the barrel of which corresponded with the ball that was taken from Mr. Oldfield’s cheek 😉 the prisoner had the pistol in his hand when Agar took it from him ; when the pistol went off, I called out to Agar to give it him in the head ; it was the only chance we had ; he was then handcuffed and taken to the Penitentiary ; I should know the man again ; the prisoner Cash is the man ; I did not hear any one call out anything besides “stop thief, and stop him!”

Constable Agar corroborated the testimony of Thomas, and Drs. Officer and Crowther deposed to the cause of the deceased’s death, occasioned by the wound inflicted by the pistol shots, which had penetrated the anterior portion of the left lung, and lodged in the opposite side of the body, causing considerable hœmorrhage.

On being asked if he wished to say anything in his defence, Cash said, it was of no use saying anything there ; he begged the jury to notice the quantity of false swearing that had been adduced, and observed that, because there was a reward offered for him, the witnesses had sworn that he had arms about him sufficient to shoot all Hobart Town.

The Coroner addressed the jury, and, in a plain and lucid manner, placed before them the leading points of the case, and after a consultation of nearly half an hour, they brought in a verdict of “wilful murder against Martin Cash.”

The Surveyor-General was present during nearly the whole time, till half-past four o’clock, and a few respectable persons were admitted into the jury room. We beg to express our thanks to Mr. Champ for the urbanity and readiness with which, when the jury was adjourned, he acceded to our request for permission to attend the inquest in the jail.

A Guide to Tasmanian Bushranging (2021)

In late January through early February of 2021, followers of A Guide to Australian Bushranging on social media would have seen a series of posts about Tasmania as writer and historian Aidan Phelan travelled through many historic locations, accompanied by Georgina Stones of An Outlaw’s Journal. As well as highlighting some of Tasmania’s beautiful heritage sites, it also helped to keep track of some of the known and lesser known stories of bushranging from the island state. Most of the locations featured were from the Midlands, but even went as far south as Port Arthur. In this article we will explore some of these places together, but this is only a fraction of Tasmania’s bushranging history.

Brady’s Lookout

Located near Rosevears, and overlooking the Tamar River, Brady’s Lookout is a breathtaking view that is linked with the outlaw Brady Gang.It is believed that the bushrangers sheltered among the steep rocks and stayed close to the river so that in the event that they needed to escape they were able to steal a ship and set out to sea. It was a plan that had merit, as the Cyprus mutiny would demonstrate in 1829. However, most of Matthew Brady’s gang were not confident seamen, the majority of the group that had escaped with him from Sarah Island in a stolen whaleboat having gradually been captured or killed by the time Brady was likely to have brought his men here.

Overlooking the Tamar from Brady’s Lookout.

Notley Fern Gorge

This stunning forest is said to have been a hideout of the Brady Gang. Walking among the ferns and trees it becomes easy to see why a band of desperados would seek refuge there. A portion of the walking track leads to Brady’s Tree, an enormous hollow tree that shows signs of having been used as shelter. The interior is blackened, demonstrating that there was likely a fire inside at least once, and there appears to be a hole carved in the trunk at about head height that could be used as a window of sorts. Very probably the large opening was covered with bark or branches to conceal the occupants or simply block the wind. There is room for two adults to shelter inside, though it is unclear how many men (if any) accompanied Brady when he hid in the tree, assuming there’s substance to the claim.

Aidan Phelan stands inside Brady’s tree.


Tasmania’s second largest city is linked to about as many bushrangers as Hobart, the state’s capital. It is worth noting that at an early point in the state’s colonisation the island was to be divided into a northern and southern colony. Though this was not followed through in favour of the whole island being one colony known as Van Diemens Land (officially renamed Tasmania in the 1850s), there is still a distinct rivalry between the northern half and the southern half of the state, the occupants being viewed by their opposite faction as rubes and snobs respectively.

The site of the Launceston Gaol, where bushrangers like Matthew Brady and Thomas Jeffries were held, was demolished and replaced with the local secondary school in the 20th century. There are no visible remnants accessible to the public. This continues Australia’s time-honoured tradition of turning colonial prisons into schools.

A short walk uphill from the site of the former gaol is Penny Royal. First opened in the 1970s, in recent years it has seen a remodelling into a sort of Matthew Brady theme park. Apart from the eateries (including a restaurant called Brady’s), there are a series of rides and activities that range from a motorised brig that “sails” through a lagoon to a mock-up of Sarah Island, to a bridge walk across the top of the park. The most impressive attraction is the Matthew Brady dark ride, that takes patrons through a series of tableaux that tell the story of Brady’s bushranging adventures. Sure, it’s not historically accurate, but it is a lot of fun. Highlights include a short film clip projected on a waterfall and animatronic figures of John Batman and Matthew Brady.

Animatronic Matthew Brady at Penny Royal.


Perth is another location that features in many bushranging tales, but there is very little left to connect the town to such history.

According to some sources, Matthew Brady and his gang briefly visited this area when it was still known as South Esk.

The story goes that they had a down on Thomas Massey, the first free settler in the area. Massey would later be recognised for his role in establishing Perth and his role in the Launceston police. At any rate, at the height of his notoriety Brady sent written warning to Massey that he and his gang were coming after him. Two days later they struck, setting fire to Massey’s property. Sources conflict about whether it was Massey’s haystacks or house that were burnt down.

The story is a strange one in that the few sources that refer to it give almost no detail and are referencing other secondary sources that don’t have supporting evidence, suggesting it is merely folklore. This is a recurring problem one encounters when looking at the life and career of many of the Tasmanian bushrangers.

There is, however, one bushranging story that is indisputably linked to Perth. On 1 April, 1837, John McKay robbed and murdered a local man, Joseph Edward Wilson, just outside town. Wilson was attacked on the road three quarters of a mile out of town; he was shot and thrown from his horse, whereupon he was clubbed and his pockets rifled through. The victim survived long enough to give an account of the assault to police. Very quickly a reward of 250 sovereigns was offered for the capture of the assailant.

Police worked tirelessly to find the culprit, and eventually narrowed their search to a ticket-of-leave man, McKay, and a man named John Lamb who had a conditional pardon. Police arrested Lamb, McKay and Mrs. Ward, who had left her husband for McKay. It was Mrs. Ward who cracked first and dobbed her lover in, Lamb following suit. McKay was tried for murder and found guilty. He was hanged in Hobart on 3 May, 1837, and his dead body was brought to Perth where it was “hung in chains” on the outskirts of town the following day, at a place called Gibbet Hill. The body remained on display until that September, whereupon it was taken down and decapitated so the head could be subjected to phrenological analysis.

Gibbet Hill no longer exists, having been levelled to make way for the highway and housing. The only indicator of where it once was is a street named Gibbet Hill Rise.

The Baptist Tabernacle (the building with the dome) in Perth dates back to 1888 and was loosely based on the Hobart Tabernacle.


In May 1833, the bushranger Samuel Britton and his gang attempted a couple of robberies in Deloraine, but they were unsuccessful. In one local incident, the gang (Britton, George Jeffkins and Edward Brown) stuck up Wesley Dale, the premises of Lieutenant Vaughan. Prior to heading to the lieutenant’s house, they passed through Deloraine, where they bailed up Thomas Johnstone, a stockman for David Gibson at Dairy Plains, and compelled him to join them as a guide to Vaughan’s hut. At 8:00pm, one of Vaughan’s staff, Dan Picket, heard the guard dogs barking, and when he opened the door to find out why he had the muzzle of a gun thrust in his face and was ordered to stay quiet. Picket’s hand were tied and the other occupants of the hut were given the same treatment. The bushrangers then compelled the four prisoners to lead them to the house.

Johnstone was ordered to knock on the door and invite Vaughan to open up. This failed as Vaughan simply told Johnstone to leave him alone and come back in the morning. Britton then defaulted to ‘Plan B’, and instructed the others to smash in the windows as they ordered the occupants to surrender. Surrender was forthcoming and the bushrangers gained entry and began ransacking the house. They took provisions, as well as £3 from Vaughan’s housekeeper, and a very valuable gun made by Cavanagh of Dublin, which Britton stated that Vaughan could have back once he was cold and dead. The gun would indeed be restored to its rightful owner after the deaths of the bushrangers. They left at midnight, releasing the captives, except for Picket, who they took to Deloraine with them carrying their booty. From here, Picket was allowed to return to Wesley Dale, and the gang managed to make it to the supply mills on the West Tamar by 8:00pm that night.

Britton, George Jeffkins and Edward Brown roamed this area in the mid 1830s, though they were most often seen around George Town. The gang’s modus operandi was to either force entry to farmhouses and steal anything that looked valuable, or to attempt a ruse to encourage the occupants to open the door before they raided the interior. They often, though not always, tied up any occupants that posed a potential threat to their continued liberty. In 1835 their career was cut short. After a shoot-out at Kelso Bay, Britton was shot in the leg and abandoned; he was never heard of again. Three weeks later, Brown and Jeffkins fought police in a shoot-out at Port Sorell, during which Jeffkins was killed and Constable Thomas Smith was also killed. Brown was captured, mortally wounded from bullet wounds and died shortly after.

There were, however, a pair of bushrangers who were more directly linked with the town, named Daniel Priest and John Smith. The pair were escapees from Port Arthur, but although desperadoes were known to only take what they needed and Priest in particular was known to have a gentlemanly manner when undertaking his depredations. In May 1845, when a constable named Baldwin was robbed just outside of town as he was on his way to deliver dispatches. He was stripped of everything except his trousers and hat (which contained the messages), then ordered to move on. As he did so he was fired at to make him move faster. The dispatches arrived safe and sound and Baldwin was able to raise the alarm. In September of the same year, the pair struck again in Deloraine, bailing up two men in a hut, stripping them naked and stealing their clothes. Around this time Smith separated from Priest with all the money they had accumulated, the directive from Priest having been for his companion to find a way out of the colony. For all intents and purposes the move seems to have been successful. It was not long before Priest, who had been shot in the foot accidentally by his own shotgun when climbing rocks, was captured near Longford when attempting to enter a farmhouse. Priest had not supposed that there were constables inside and quietly entered and submitted to the officers of the law, even going so far as to compliment the party on their performance in pursuing him.

News report detailing the robbery of Constable Baldwin.


In its history, Evandale has gone by many names and is connected with many fascinating stories. It also has scores of bushranger tales associated with it. Not all are the most dramatic, but when visiting the town you certainly get a feeling that a lot of that history is seeped into the walls of the buildings and is at your fingertips.

In 1838 the body of Benjamin Ball was brought into Evandale (then called Morven) for an inquest. Ball had been part of a bushranging gang that were wanted for murdering Samuel Ely, but had evidently parted ways with the others (Fisher, Beard) and made his own way to Nile. His makeshift tent was spotted by an assigned convict named David Gow, and he fired upon the hapless man who immediately bolted to get backup. He returned at dusk with a ticket-of-leave man named Agnew, and they encountered Ball coming towards them. When they demanded Ball identify himself he instead fired a shot at the pair. Ball took cover, and as he stepped out again Agnew shot him dead.

Not far from the heart of town in Evandale, near the South Esk River, a party of bounty hunters consisting of John Batman, Anthony Cottrell, and William Ponsonby, finally managed to capture Thomas “The Monster” Jeffries. Jeffries was wanted for escaping prison with three other convicts and going bush. While on the run he and his gang committed a number of horrendous crimes including robbery and murder to rape, infanticide and cannibalism. When he was found only two of his accomplices remained as they had eaten the other one. The creek where “The Monster” was taken was later renamed Jeffries Creek and is now known as Logan Road.

The successful posse took Jeffries and company back to Evandale until a conveyance could be found. The bushrangers were soon transported from Evandale to Launceston Gaol. It was at this time that Matthew Brady wrote to the governor, declaring his intention to break into the gaol and murder Jeffries. Soon after, Brady was also captured. Jeffries was tried and found guilty of murder, then sentenced to hang. He was removed to Hobart Town where he was hanged on the old gallows on Campbell Street. He confessed to his crimes but blamed it all on alcohol.


After his capture near the Isis River, Daniel Priest, the “friendly bushranger”, was transferred to Longford Gaol. It was also at Longford that Priest had his committal hearing. In the dock, Priest was typically pleasant mannered and refused to defend himself in court simply stating, “No, Sir, thank ye! I’ll deny nothing that’s true, but if I catch them swearing false I’ll speak.” Priest was subsequently sent to Hobert to stand trial.

Longford was also on the beat of a bushranging gang consisting of Peter Haley, Daniel Stewart and William Ferns. The three bushrangers were better known by their nicknames: Black Peter, Wingy and Flowers, respectively. They were known to grace the establishment of George Walker of Ivoridge, near Longford.

In 1855, it was reported that a bushranger named James Padfield, alias Clarke, escaped from Longford Gaol where he was being remanded on robbery charges, and was suspected of having killed a man whose body was found in the Macquarie River just prior to his capture.
Padfield had managed to dig a hole through the wall of his cell and make a hole in an outer wall to give him access to the courtyard. He then took a “long form” (a wooden bench) and climbed the boundary wall, dropping down the other side to freedom.
He was later apprehended in the bedroom of a hut near the lakes in Bothwell, but his escape had emboldened other inmates who began to break their leg irons and fashion makeshift ropes from cloth with a brick on the end, in an effort to prepare their own bold escapes.


One of the first things you notice about Cressy is their obsession with trout fishing. Between the trout-shaped street signs and the massive trout statue in the middle of town, you can tell they take their trout seriously.

Cressy was only established in the 1840s, but despite its relatively recent history it does have anecdotal links to bushranging. It is said that Martin Cash was assigned to work at a farm here before absconding to return to his mistress in Campbell Town. When, later, he was at large with George Jones and Lawrence Kavanagh, he once again came through this way ‘on business’.

A story associated with the former Bell Post Hill church is that one Sunday during the service whispers started to filter through the congregation that William Priest was coming down the road, having been captured at last. All the churchgoers went out into the street to see the infamous gentleman bushranger, leaving Reverend Brumby to preach to empty pews.

Epping Forest

This stretch of bush was a favourite hideout for bushrangers in the Tasmanian midlands. Among the many incidents that occurred here, two are worth relaying.

In 1843, Cash and Company bailed up the Launceston coach here. They ransacked the coach and took various items, mostly clothing, before heading back into the forest.

In 1883, the forest was home to baby-faced bushrangers James Sutherland and James Ogden. Sutherland was a cantankerous teen who had spent his whole life either being palmed off on begrudging foster mothers, in prison for trifling offences, or on the tramp. He gained employment as a dogsbody for a pub at age twelve but left because he was subjected to abuse from his employer. He did other similar low-paid jobs, but struggled with being demeaned by his colleagues. These experiences had left him with a chip on his shoulder, and a larger than life personality. Ogden had also been the product of a dysfunctional home, and was very much under Sutherland’s spell. The pair camped in the forest for an unknown amount of time, believed to have been several weeks, allegedly only emerging to visit a local brothel, before they committed their crimes. Late at night they roused the Wilson family who lived on the edge of the forest by pelting their windows with rocks. The man of the house, William Wilson, ventured outside to see what it was and was shot dead. Sutherland and Ogden then set fire to the house. None of the Wilsons’ neighbours were willing to offer assistance to the family. The bushrangers also attempted to kidnap one of the Wilson daughters, but she escaped.

The pair’s next crime took place a couple of days later. They ambushed a delivery driver named Alfred Holman in the bush and shot him. They then dragged the body away from the road and clubbed him to make sure he was dead. They looted from the body then stole the horse and cart. When the pair were caught they were nearby feeding and grooming the stolen horse. Sutherland openly admitted to the crimes and stated Ogden had only prepared his gun for him, and had not engaged in any other aspect of the offences. The pair were both condemned to death for murder and hanged in Hobart Gaol. Ogden was twenty years old, Sutherland only eighteen.

A glimpse at Epping Forest from the road.
James Sutherland and James Ogden pose together in their prison uniforms.


The tiny town of Cleveland is the on the edge of Epping Forest; its most recognisable landmark is the St. Andrews Inn. Local folklore claims it to be one of Martin Cash’s haunts, and it can be found on the midlands highway between Epping Forest and Campbelltown. The inn dates back to 1845, though ten years before that it was a coach house.

However, it was next door to the St. Andrews Inn that a gang of bushrangers committed a murder most foul. Cleveland House was formerly the Bald-Faced Stag Inn and in 1838 it was the scene of a brutal holdup. A gang of bushrangers, led by James Atterall, barged in at night, bailed up the staff and restrained them. Two of the men hand their hands fettered and hats pushed over their eyes. One of these men incessantly complained about being restrained until he was shot dead with a single bullet through the brain by one of the bushrangers. The bandits soon withdrew, leaving the corpse on a sofa. Some months later, after a spree of robberies and several shoot-outs, the surviving members were captured, tried and sentenced to death. They were hanged in Hobart.

Campbell Town

Though there are many, many bushranger stories associated with this historic town, one of the most dramatic was when the Crawford Gang stuck up George Taylor’s family farm, Valleyfield, in July 1824. The story goes that George’s son, Robert, was sitting in a tree watching the sheep and reading his Bible (what a good, pious lad), when James Crawford, Matthew Brady, James McCabe and five other bushrangers bailed him up. They took him back to the farmhouse at gunpoint but when they arrived the boy gave them the slip. He raised the alarm and the family and servants, who were prepared for the bushrangers, went to their battle stations. A fierce gun battle ensued, the men barricaded in the house with the women keeping the weapons loaded and primed. The bushrangers were quickly outgunned and outclassed and they made a speedy retreat, although Crawford had been captured. Only one civilian was injured; a man named Lowe, who ironically had tried to hide after declaring that they were all as good as dead. In consequence, Crawford was executed and the Taylors were rewarded with 90 acres of land near Cleveland.

No discussion of Campbell Town and bushrangers would be complete without mentioning Martin Cash and Bessie Clifford. The couple lived in Campbell Town around 1839, Bessie by then assuming the name Eliza Cash. Martin worked for a Mr. Kane and a Mr. McLeod, the latter was a bank clerk and also a Justice of the Peace who eventually issued a warrant for Cash’s arrest (though Cash would state in his memoirs that the ink had scarcely dried on the warrant before one was issued against McLeod himself for bank robbery). It is claimed that Cash helped construct the Foxhunter’s Return hotel, which was completed in 1840. In one incident in this place, the police tried to take Bessie away to the watch house. In response, Martin Cash bashed one of the offending constables in the head and effected an escape for him and his beloved. Later, Cash was accused by William Bedford of stealing a half-dozen eggs, for which Cash was sentenced to seven years in prison, including time on a road gang. As he could not tolerate this, Cash escaped custody and headed back to Campbell Town, but was again arrested and taken to Oatlands. The area was subsequently frequented by Cash and Company during the early 1840s.

One of Campbell Town’s unique attractions is a path formed by bricks that are laid into the pavement, each one inscribed with the name and details of convicts from the area. A trio of sculpted trees also depicts many notable figures in the town’s history, including Martin Cash.


While there is not really any bushranging directly connected with the township of Ross, the immediate surroundings were a hotspot for bushrangers.

One of the bushrangers that operated around Ross was William Higham. Though he was hardly a prolific, or indeed particularly notable, bushranger compared to his peers, Higham created enough of a name for himself after absconding from the Hobart prisoner barracks in May 1832. He operated around Ross, and a reward of £10 and a ticket of leave was offered for him in August 1832.

Higham’s most notable crime was his raid on Captain Davidson’s farm at Cashmere. Being 39 at the time, he was rather old by most bushranger standards. In January 1833 he was hanged in Hobart.

Another story of bushranging took place on the road from Ross to Tunbridge. On 16 March 1858, Richard Propsting was bailed up while travelling in a dog cart containing his wife and another lady, seven-year-old daughter and an infant. “Black Peter” Haley presented a gun and when Propsting refused to stop, Haley fired a shot that struck the wagon wheel. Also with Haley was “Sydney Jim” Thornton, William “Flowers” Ferns, and Daniel “Wingy” Stewart. Propsting flogged his horse to make it go faster, narrowly missing a shotgun blast from Flowers. A second shot from an unknown source struck the horse in the neck, but it continued on. Propsting only slowed when he realised his hat had blown off. He turned around just in time to see Flowers take the hat. Luckily none of the people in the cart were injured or deprived of anything other than the driver’s hat. Propsting promptly continued into Tunbridge where he inspected his wounded horse and raised the alarm.

Source: The Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston, Tas. : 1835 – 1880) 28 November 1846: 920.


At the beginning of his career of crime, Martin Cash escaped from custody only to be apprehended by a party of soldiers and brought up to Oatlands. He was tried at the Oatlands courthouse and sentenced to an extra 9 months in chains on top of his original sentence of 7 years. Likely he would have been held in Oatlands Gaol until he was transferred back to Launceston.

These days, the Oatlands gaol sits in ruins. However, by the time construction on the gaol had finished it could house up to 270 prisoners, making it the largest regional prison in Van Diemens Land. The areas for male and female convicts, including the condemned cells and gallows yard, have since been knocked down and replaced with an outdoor swimming pool. Remnants of the perimeter wall remain, though they stand around a third the height they would have originally.

There were many minor bushrangers that would have been through Oatlands, including James Padfield, who was taken here after his arrest in 1855 and sentenced in the courthouse to ten years transportation.

In 1845, William Westwood, alias Jackey Jackey, made his way on foot to Oatlands after absconding from his assignment in Glenorchy. He had escaped with two others, but they had both parted ways with him along the way to Launceston, where they intended to steal a boat. Unfortunately for Westwood, on 21 August, 1845, he was captured in Oatlands by John Luttrell and Richard Pillinger, two settlers. Westwood was quickly escorted back to Hobart.

A couple of kilometres outside of Oatlands, on the Midlands Highway, the observant traveller will spot a sculpture on the roadside depicting the bushranger Michael Howe bailing up a horseman. Such sculptures, life sized silhouettes cut from steel, dot the highway to remind travellers of the heritage.

The remains of Oatlands Gaol.
Oatlands Courthouse.


Another of the big hotspots for bushrangers was the unassuming central highlands township of Bothwell. Here many different bushrangers, major and minor, took advantage of the area’s remoteness and small population to seek refuge. For example, William Ferns (nicknamed “Flowers”) who went to Bothwell after absconding from Launceston, working in the town for two years before he took to the bush after being spotted by someone that knew him.

One of the major gangs that utilised Bothwell area was that of Michael Howe. Throughout the region, then known as Fat Doe, the gang built huts and, after he had split from what remained of his gang, Howe returned to the area. In September 1818 he was found by a man named McGill, accompanied by an Aboriginal tracker named Musquito (who would later gain infant in his own right). There was a battle but Howe’s superior strength saw him escape from the would-be captors. Unfortunately for Howe, he left behind his belongings, which included his journal.

Bothwell was one of the various locations that Brady and his gang were reputed to have built a camp.
It was also where the gang had sympathisers in the Farquharson family. The Farquharsons were a respectable family of settlers and their involvement with the bushrangers was kept secret for a long time in order to protect their reputation.
Despite their sympathies, the Farquharson family were still stuck up in 1825 by James McCabe. Having feuded with Brady and the rest of the gang, McCabe had decided to go solo. After being busted sleeping under a tree, McCabe ran into the bush leaving his boots and supplies behind. He moved on to Bothwell and demanded entrance to the Farquharson property. He kept the old man covered with a pistol and ordered fresh clothes and boots. After much pleading, the Farquharsons complied and McCabe.

Bothwell also has links to Cash and Co, as Martin Cash and Bessie Clifford camped here for a time, before he was arrested in spectacular fashion. It was also at Bothwell that Lawrence Kavanagh surrendered to the police after badly injuring himself with a pistol, fearing he would otherwise bleed to death.

Of course, Bothwell has many accounts related to minor bushranger as well, including James Padfield. On 19 November, Padfield descended upon a shepherd’s hut near the lakes in Bothwell and ordered the hutkeeper to provide him with tea, damper and mutton, which he took into a back room and began eating. Meanwhile, two constables had set out from Bothwell, Constable Hastie and Constable Goddard, having been alerted to the bushranger’s possible appearance at the hut. The constables, upon reaching the destination, briefly exchanged words with the hutkeeper and were directed to the room where Padfield lay in wait, armed with a double-barrelled shotgun, and a revolver. He attempted to shoot the Goddard with the revolver as he entered the room, but the gun misfired and he was taken down in a struggle. He was taken before police magistrate Whiteford, who happened to be in Bothwell, then transferred to Oatlands.

In December 1840, Bothwell was the scene of a murder connected to the so-called “Bothwell Bushrangers”. Two shepherds who were in the employ of a Mr. Broadribb were found dead under a tree. It seemed that the men had been murdered and their bodies haphazardly concealed behind a log. Thanks to the ineptitude of the local police, by the time the bodies were retrieved they were so severely decomposed, owing to the summer heat, that an autopsy was unable to determine a cause of death. The crime was attributed to the bushrangers Beard, Birrell and Fisher, but there was no certainty as to the identities of the killers. The utter ineptitude of the Bothwell police was on show during the affair and the papers were scathing in their appraisal.

Source: The True Colonist Van Diemen’s Land Political Despatch, and Agricultural and Commercial… (Hobart Town, Tas. : 1834 – 1844) 7 December 1838: 6.


Kempton is a small town that used to be a stop on the old coach road. Like most places in regional Tasmania it is full of heritage buildings and plenty of history. In its early days the area was known as Green Ponds.

In 1845, William Westwood travelled through here after escaping from his assignment at Glenorchy. He was accompanied by two other convicts, George Allum and Thomas Gillam, and they had intended to go to Launceston and steal a boat so they could sail to Sydney, but could not find one. As it turned out, none of the men knew enough about the Tasmanian wilderness to know where they were going. While camping at Green Ponds, Westwood was abandoned by the first of his dispirited comrades. The second left him at New Norfolk and he continued on his way alone.

Kempton’s connection to Matthew Brady is one of particular note. At the height of his bushranging career, Brady and his gang rode into Kempton, where they had sympathisers, and targeted the farm of one Francis Flexmore. Allegedly, this Flexmore was not exactly popular with his servants and they had reportedly informed the bushrangers of where their employer kept a secret stash of money under his mattress.

Brady bailed Flexmore up and robbed him of his money, his best horses and even his Panama hat, which he exchanged for his own. It took considerable coaxing for Flexmore to give up his hidden treasure, but when one is at the business end of a pistol, one is not in a position to argue. Afterwards, it is said, Flexmore would boast of his resistance to the demands of the notorious Brady.


Formerly known as Jerusalem, a name still acknowledged by the Jerusalem Creek, this area was part of the Howe Gang’s beat as well as being visited by other major gang’s in later years. The town was built mostly from convict labour, and currently is a small farming community. In its early days soldiers would go on expeditions around the town to hunt kangaroo and emu to supplement the town’s dwindling food supplies.

It was also here that Martin Cash was assigned to work before doing a runner to try and reunite with his girlfriend Bessie Clifford. Rumour has it he spent the night hiding in a pear tree near the police lock-up. It wasn’t the last time he would be in Jerusalem.

After their escape from Port Arthur, Cash, George Jones and Lawrence Kavanagh passed through Jerusalem and robbed a farm of a firearm and provisions.

The area around Colebrook is mostly vast, undulating plains and gullies. Most convict-era buildings are now long gone.


It was this area that James McCabe fled to after leaving Matthew Brady’s gang at Grindstone Bay in 1825. McCabe, operating solo, had several near-misses over a number of days as he robbed locals, before finally being captured at Clyde Vale (which was more than likely one of the various unofficial names given to Hamilton prior to its official naming the following year). McCabe was eventually hanged in Hobart.

Looking towards Hamilton from Glen Clyde House, aka Old Hamilton Inn.


Yet another site associated with a number of bushrangers, but most notably Michael Howe who was known to have operated here at various times.

In one such incident, Howe’s gang visited the farm of a Mr. Hayes, having walked 100 miles over eleven days from their previous outing. Lucky for them, but not so much for a hawker named W. T. Stocker, they arrived just when Stocker was staying at the farm for the night. The bushrangers plundered the hawker’s cart and escaped with a valuable haul of various goods. It’s believed they had been tipped off.

Bagdad also has a Martin Cash story to its name. When Cash, Jones and Kavanagh escaped from Port Arthur they had to cross Eaglehawk Neck. In so doing they lost all of their clothes. As they continued to move, they stuck up the Bagdad pub and acquired clothes for themselves to replace the ones lost to the sea.


Broadmarsh is a place that is off the beaten track. There are no real markers or signs to denote anything of historical significance, yet this was territory that fell in the beat of Michael Howe, Matthew Brady, and Martin Cash.

One of the more notable locations in Broadmarsh is Invercarron; an estate built on land that belonged to Lieutenant William “Wingy” Gunn. Gunn had gained the nickname”Wingy” in consequence of having lost his right arm due to injuries sustained during the Brady Gang’s infamous raid on Sorell. In 1842, a probation station was built at Invercarron, as it had previously housed convict road gangs throughout the 1830s. In 1847 it was shut down due to the deplorable conditions the convicts were kept in.

During the time the probation station was in operation, Cash & co paid a visit to Broadmarsh. Having recently escaped from Port Arthur, the gang had crossed Eaglehawk Neck and were making their way inland, collecting what they needed on the way. They came to a farm owned by a man named Kimberley and bailed the place up. They found the place locked up as everyone was in bed, and when they could not gain entrance Kavanagh shot off the lock. Upon entering the building they saw someone attempting to escape through the window. Cash tried to pull him in but only succeeded in apprehending the man’s belt, which was full of ammunition. The gang proceeded to round up the occupants of the house and then ransacked it, taking whatever they deemed necessary or desirable. After they left, they took supper in a convict’s hut where they were intercepted by law enforcement. Cash fired two warning shots from the doorway, then waited for a response but the soldiers and constables had fled in terror.

Broadmarsh is not a tourist trap by any means. Most of the land around here is farming or bush, not too different to what it was like in the days when bushrangers would haunt the area.


The oldest surviving intact prison in Australia, the Richmond Gaol, was in operation from 1825 until the 1920s when it became abandoned.
It began as a place to accommodate convicts who were working in the area, but in later years, the gaol was mostly used as a sort of half-way house for prisoners en route to the city for trial or to bigger, purpose-built prisons such as the female factory in Cascades. Disorderly prisoners were often flogged or kept in solitary confinement in one of the many tiny wooden cells. Both male and female prisoners were kept here, though males greatly outnumbered the females.

It was here in 1838 that James Atterall’s gang were briefly imprisoned en route to Hobart to stand trial for murder. James Regan, Thomas Palmer and James Atterall since they had bailed up the Bald-Faced Stag Inn at Cleveland and shot one of the staff dead, they had gone on to continue raiding and robbing, adding Anthony Banks and George Davis to the gang, until they were finally apprehended by soldiers at their hideout on Brown Mountain. Regan, Atterall and Banks were subsequently hanged in Hobart.

Richmond was also the stomping ground of James “Rocky” Whelan, thus nicknamed for his craggy, pockmarked face. Whelan and an accomplice named Connolly were camped on the outskirts of Richmond and would rob people leaving the town. The pair soon had creative differences and split up. Whelan took up residence in a cave on Mount Wellington, near Hobart, where he would conduct his business. Whelan was not one for the “catch and release” style of robbery favoured by other bushrangers, and would later admit to five murders, and hinted at having committed even more. He even went so far as to say he would murder someone for fourpence. He was eventually captured and hanged in 1855.

New Norfolk

This is the heart of Michael Howe Country. It is no stretch of the imagination to imagine him and his gang roaming the hills and mountains around here picking off farms.

It was at New Norfolk that Howe’s gang raided the farm of a Mr. Carlisle. The terrified Carlisle immediately warned another local farmer, a shady fellow named Dennis McCarthy.

The bushrangers arrived at McCarthy’s farm but were surprised when McCarthy and his staff attacked them, including a servant who set upon the banditti with a broadsword. During the exchange, some of McCarthy’s men were wounded, but Howe prevented his men from taking life. They bolted into the bush, vowing to get even.

The gang returned a short time later when they knew McCarthy was absent, intending to burglarise his house. They did not realise that McCarthy had stationed redcoat soldiers inside the homestead, and as one of the gang members, Whitehead, was scouting for a way inside he was shot dead. A brief battle ensued with the gang retreating, but not before they severed the head of their fallen comrade to prevent the soldiers claiming the reward on it.

New Norfolk is also one of the places Cash and co. ventured through after escaping Port Arthur. They stuck up the Woolpack Inn and got fresh supplies.


The Penitentiary Chapel and a portion of the perimeter wall are all that remains of Hobart Gaol. It was here that a great number of felons were held between 1817 and 1961, including some of Tasmania’s most infamous bushrangers. The chapel was created to allow the convicts to attend mass without having to walk to the cathedral with the civilians. Soon civilians that couldn’t be bothered walking to the other church demanded to attend mass at the penitentiary. Under the pews were a series of inhumane undersized solitary cells, that were considered cruel even for the standards of the convict era.

Until the late 1850s, hangings in Hobart were performed on a wooden gallows on Campbell Street. This gallows could hang six men at a time, though there was never really a need for such capability. It was here that bushrangers were put to death including, but not limited to, Matthew Brady, Thomas Jeffries, Musquito, Rocky Whelan, and Alexander Pearce. If the bodies were not gibbetted, they were generally buried in unmarked graves behind the gallows, or in the old Barracks Street cemetery. The site where the gallows once stood is now the site of Campbell Street Primary School, and the unmarked convict graves are located underneath the playground. By the 1860s, the old gallows had been decommissioned, replaced with a permanent gallows within the gaol, that still remains intact.

When Martin Cash heard that his lover, Bessie Clifford, had begun co-habiting with another man in Hobart, he ventured into the town intending to shoot the man for taking his girl, and also intended to shoot Bessie for her infidelity. Cash was immediately recognised and a chase ensued down various streets around the gaol, until Cash was cornered. In the chaos, Cash shot and killed off-duty Constable Winstanley, and disfigured another man by shooting off his nose. Cash was beaten into submission by the angry mob that had caught him, and he was taken into custody.

In earlier times, Hunter Island was once one of the most feared locations in Hobart Town. A small landmass just offshore, it was the perfect place to send a message to miscreants in the old English way – gibbetting. Convicts that were executed on the original wooden gallows that stood on the island would have their corpses “hung in chains” from a gibbet post on the shoreline. The bodies would remain in place until they were deemed to have had a suitable deterrent effect (usually when the body was so rotten it was no longer properly held in place), whereupon they were typically buried on the island. This is what happened to the headless body of bushranger John Whitehead.

During an attempted raid on Dennis McCarthy’s farm by Michael Howe’s gang, Whitehead was shot and killed by soldiers. His gang members then hacked off the head to prevent the soldiers or McCarthy from claiming the reward on it, (in those days to have a “price on your head” was a literal term; bounty hunters took the severed head in to verify the identity and claim their payout). Only a couple of years later, Michael Howe was ambushed and killed near the Shannon River, and his head was cut off. This time the reward was claimed and Howe’s head was displayed on a spike on Hunter Island. Much regret was displayed by the Governor that the rest of the body had not also been supplied for gibbetting.

The island was later joined to the rest of the waterfront by filling in the gap with dirt to create a causeway, whereupon it ceased it’s function as a place of execution and displaying corpses, and became an industrial area. It is believed that Michael Howe’s head was buried approximately where the Drunken Admiral restaurant now stands.

The clock tower of the “Tench”.
The former Hunter Island as it appears now. There are no traces of any of the grisly convict era uses for the island.

Cornelian Bay Cemetery

Hobart’s oldest, and most popular cemetery is home to the grave of Martin Cash, who died in 1878. Prior to this he had lived his final days in Glenorchy; his son’s untimely death having pushed him to alcoholism. Cash was 70 when he died, resulting in many crediting him as one of the only bushrangers to die of old age although it was complications from his drinking that did it.

There are many people buried in unmarked graves in the cemetery as well, mostly executed criminals, some of whom were bushrangers, and paupers, but one notable unmarked resident is Solomon Blay, the infamous hangman who rose from being a flagellator to executioner, and held the occupation for more than two decades. Many of the executed bushrangers were dangled at the end of a rope by Solomon Blay. Blay took pride in his work, but he had a reputation, and when drivers started refusing to take him where he was headed he simply walked everywhere.

Eaglehawk Neck

This isthmus was the only stretch of land that connected Port Arthur to the rest of Van Diemens Land. Across the narrowest portion there was a line of half-starved dogs, chained to kennels, acting as a deterrent to escaped convicts.Despite the dog line, numerous convicts did escape and became bushrangers. The outlaws Dalton and Kelly escaped with two others and attempted to swim around the dog line. Only Dalton and Kelly survived, the others presumably taken by sharks.Most famously, though, it was here that Martin Cash escaped Port Arthur, then after he was recaptured he escaped through here again with Lawrence Kavanagh and George Jones.

Port Arthur

A number of notable bushrangers (and minor ones) did time here. Among the alumni are Martin Cash, Lawrence Kavanagh, George Jones, Captain Melville and William Westwood. Port Arthur penal settlement was referred to as “Hell on Earth” by the convicts stationed here. The regime was brutal and dehumanising, and many tried to escape – few had any degree of success.

Although Port Arthur was promoted as inescapable, the reality was a far cry from the marketing. Escapes were frequent, though if the escapees made it past the dogline they usually got lost in the bush and were recaptured within a few days. William Westwood escaped from the prison several times, on one occasion only lasting three days before surrendering. He was nude and starving, his companions having been eaten by sharks as they attempted to swim across Eaglehawk Neck. For his escapology, Westwood was rewarded with several months of solitary confinement.

The Point Puer boys prison was the first facility for juvenile offenders in the entire British Empire, and its aim was to reform the youngest criminals away from the corrupting influence of the “old hands” in the main part of the prison system.
Here the boys would learn literacy and numeracy, as well as developing trade skills such as carpentry, shoemaking and stonemasonry.
This facility ran from 1834 to 1848, and in that time it improved the lot for a considerable number of boys, but a number continued to break the law into adulthood.
One of the inmates at Point Puer was a fifteen-year-old Francis McCallum. He refused to buckle under and repeatedly escaped from the peninsula. On at least one occasion it was claimed he lived with local Aborigines after escaping. This rebellious streak could not be quelled and as an adult McCallum journeyed to the mainland where he menaced Victoria as the bushranger Captain Melville.

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

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

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

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

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