Spotlight: Supreme Court (14/09/1830)

Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 – 1857), Friday 17 September 1830, page 3

SUPREME COURT, Tuesday, Sept. 14

Charles Routley was indicted for the wilful murder of John Buckly, in the month of July, 1825. The first count charged the prisoner with burning the said John Buckly, by which means he met his death; in the second he was charged with wrapping him in a hide, and suffocating him; and in the third with striking him in divers parts of the body, after which he was wrapped in a bullock hide, being still alive, and thrust into a fire and suffocated.

The Attorney-General opened the case on the part of the Crown, and detailed to the Jury the circumstances under which the prisoner was brought before them. The Learned Gentleman briefly stated the nature of the evidence he should bring forward in support of the prosecution, and proceeded to call the following witnesses :—

Hugh M’Ginnis, jun., examined by the Attorney-General.— I have resided at the Carlton about 12 or 13 years, am well acquainted with the country round about there. [The Attorney-General handed him a plan of that part of the country, which he thought to be a correct representation of the situation generally.] In July 1825, my brother John lived on an adjoining farm, my father also had one adjoining on the other side. Remembers some bullocks were lost about that time; I went in search for them — my brother went with me — I think it was on a Monday or Tuesday, about the 18th or 19th. Bartholomew Reardon lived at the Green Hills, about 4 to 5 miles from my house; I knew the prisoner, but do not know where he was living at that time. I went towards the Carlton; after travelling a mile and half or so, we found a place where there had been a very large fire, I should think as large as the table before me; the ashes appeared to have been scraped together; I raked the fire about, it was so hot that I could scarcely bear my hand in the ashes. The fire was on the top of a hill, near a deep scrub, so as a person might soon disappear from view. We found some bones in the fire — we did not take any particular notice at that time of what sort of bones, but concluded some cattle had been burnt. I saw marks of feet travelling round the fire, as though persons. had been picking up wood. We then endeavoured to find the bullocks, by tracing the steps along some sandy land; the tracks where we first found them were about 100 yards from the fire; we followed them to the lower settlement of Pitt-water, as also the footsteps of two men, who, it seemed by the marks, had been driving them. I thought the traces of the men’s steps were the same as I had seen at the fire. I traced the steps to a house close to Harry Aiton’s; I followed them further on till they became lost with those of other cattle, We went to Constable Kettle, and told him what we had seen. In going back to the fire, we traced the tracks of three men going towards the fire; we fell in with the tracks about a mile from Kettle’s — we did not follow them close up to the fire. I noticed the foot marks — one was of a very large and broad foot; I saw them at intervals all the way to the fire, and when I got there the ground was quite soft, there having been rain just before. The steps at the fire seemed to shew that they had been backwards and forwards for wood; saw the foot marks in several places about the fire. We then again raked the fire about, and examined the bones that were there; we found some short bits of bone, similar to those of a human being; a large bone appeared to be a hip-bone, and the upper jaw-bone with one or two teeth. We found also a button or two, and bits of a steel and knife, and likewise a flint; and upon the ground, under the ashes, there was something in a cake something like blood, and under that there, were the remains of something that had been wove, thought it was cloth, and when I touched it, it crumbled away. I am sure it was blood that was in a cake ; everything we found we took to Mr. Gordon’s, the Magistrate; he was at home — we gave them to Mr. Gordon. — Next day returned with Mr. Gordon — Kettle and my brother John were with us; I then saw several more buttons and bits of bones. we traced the footsteps to the ground where my father’s cattle fed generally, within half a mile of my father’s house. — The shoe marks I there saw, I am sure are marks of the same shoes that I saw about the fire. As I was going home, I traced the bullock tracks, they came directly from my father’s place; I did not particularly trace them, but saw them at different places. I also saw the traces of two men and followed them; I compared the footmarks that followed the bullocks with those at the fire, and they corresponded both in length and width — one of the shoes appeared to have been worn at the toe; I think the marks must have been made within two days. The bullock tracks were not nearer the fire than about 100 yards; the men’s steps were visible all the way from the fire to those of the bullocks. Knew a man of the name of “Pretty Jack;” when I knew him, he resided about Pitt-water; I had heard him say his name was John Buckly — he worked for me in January 1825; I remarked he had very large feet. The nearest road from my house to Reardon’s was over the Green Hills — it was the most secluded road that could have been taken; never knew any cattle drove that way before. Knew a man named William Griffiths in 1825; he is just become free — he is a labouring man. Cannot say whether the prisoner ever knew “Pretty Jack” — never saw them together. I went with my brother to a place where there was another fire. One of the bullocks lost was a coal black, the other was of a leopard colour, and had very rough long hair; I never saw any bullock like it either before or since. It was about a mile and a half from Reardon’s house where I lost the tracks of the bullocks; the other fire was about half a mile from Reardon’s house. We found there some skins of beasts and some entrails burnt. It did not appear to have been more than five or six days since the fire was alight — it was then quite cold out. My father, Smith, and my brother John were with me when I saw the fire; I there saw two large pieces of skin, one was black and the other a leopard colour — there was no brand mark on the black one: the other was scorched and shrivelled up. From the knowledge I have of my brother’s bullocks, I think this was part of the skin of one of them; I saw some bits of marrow, fat, and bones, about a bushel, lay down upon the ground, and a little blood was about the bushes; the pieces of marrow and fat were quite fresh. By the bones of the back and other bits, I think it was beef. The cart track went from here towards Reardon’s brewery; I followed the track till I came within about 30 yards of the brewery — the brewery was about 100 or 150 yards from Reardon’s house. I could see by the bullock traces, that the cart went from the fire to the Bluff; I do not think there were more than two bullocks. The second fire was on the side of a hill by a creek near the road; I saw some traces of other beasts about 5 or 600 yards from the fire. I did not see any marks of any struggling of the bullocks or lying down; I have no doubt that the piece of leopard colour hide belonged to my brother’s bullock. I did not like to go to Reardon’s, I thought it was useless.

By the Court.— I measured the tracks as I was going from the fire when they followed the bullocks. I thought the second fire had been alight about five days, by the state of the entrails and pieces of meat that were about, but not less than two or three. From the place where the first fire was to where my father’s bullock run is, is about half a mile. The place where the second fire was, to where the bullocks were turned out, was about five miles.

Cross-examined by the Prisoner.— Many strange bullocks came on the same ground my father’s fed on.

James Gordon. J.P., examined by the Attorney-General.— I am a Magistrate, and reside at Pitt-water, and did so in 1825, and many years previously. In the month of July — I think the 18th, 1825, in the evening about 7 o’clock, the last witness and Constable Kettle came to my house, about 7 o’clock in the evening, and produced to me a common clasp knife, a piece of skull, and a lower jaw-bone with one tooth in it, part of a back-bone, one or two bones of human fingers, and two or three other small pieces of bone. The jaw-bone was that of a full-grown person. It was by its size. So were the bones of the fingers. I measured them by my own hand, and they were nearly as long. They also produced to me some buttons, covered with cloth. It was blue cloth. Four buttons were produced. I laid them by in my bed-room. I gave them two years ago to a servant of mine to bury. The bones were very much scorched, and I could crumble them with my fingers. The other articles were burnt. The handle of the knife was burnt away, and the cloth on the buttons singed. I have no doubt but the finger bones and jaw-bone, were those of a human being. On the following morning, I accompanied Kettle and the two M’Ginnis’s, to the place where they said they found them. There had been a large fire, and the ashes had been strewed about, in a very secluded spot, half way from the lower settlement to the Carlton River. When we came there, it was on high land, but so situated that a fire could not have been seen any great way, through high land. It was in a valley. It was very barren ground, and scrubby all round. We raked amongst the ashes, and found more bones. I found two finger-bones. It was still hot. There was also part of a butcher’s steel found, and some buttons. I took then all home, and placed them with the others. They were buried with the others, after keeping them three years. The bones of the finger were similar to those brought the night before. The traces of bullocks and men were pointed out to me. They were in the direction of Pitt-water from the Carlton.

By the Judge.—I knew “Pretty Jack,” had often seen him. Had known him for three or four years. He wandered about wherever he could get employ. Few would employ him. He bore a bad character, I believe he had no settled place of residence. He had lived about a month on Mr. Lakeland’s farm, about a mile from my house. I had seen him about three months previous to July, 1825, at Aiton’s house. He was once on a charge of felony before me. He told me his name was John Buckly. He had a very disagreeable face, pockpitted, a very clumsy man. The prisoner had a house near the Lower Ferry, but chiefly resided at Reardon’s. There were warrants out against Buckly, but he could not be found. I have never seen him since July, 1825. It was generally reported that he was lost between the Carlton and Pitt-water. Smith, and some one else, brought some pieces of hide to me. M’Ginnis had a very peculiar coloured bullock, which I had often noticed. I understood from him that it was that bullock that he had lost. It was a bullock of a white colour, spotted about the size of my hand all over of a leopard colour. I do not think any of the spots were larger than my hand. The piece of hide brought to me, was spotted with no fewer than five spots. After lying about my house for three years, they were thrown away.

Cross-examined by the Prisoner.—It is customary to set the dogs at cattle which go through the feeding ground. They then get scattered about in the bush. I will not swear that “Pretty Jack” has not left the country. It strikes me I never did see all the bullocks in Van Diemen’s Land. I believe that it was M’Ginnis’s by no other reason than the peculiarity of the spots. Would not swear there is not another bullock in Van Diemen’s Land of the same description.

Hugh M’Ginnis, senior, examined by the Attorney-General. — In June, 1825, I resided at the Carlton. Remember my son John lending me a pair of bullocks for the seed time. The last time I saw them was at my own house on a Saturday, at 8 o’clock. I turned out eight bullocks at that time. The feeding ground was about 60 or 70 rods from my house, towards the Carlton. It was then uninclosed Government ground. It is now belonging to my son John. There were no cattle belonging to any body else there. I went to look for the bullocks on Sunday morning. I found all but three, namely, two of my sons, and one other. One was a leopard-coloured bullock with down hair. I never saw one like it in the country. The other was a black one. The other five I found all together. My cattle generally fed down by the banks of the river. I remember my sons, Hugh and John, going in search of them, on the Monday after the one bullock was brought back. I remember going with Smith and my sons to a place near Reardon’s brewery. I remember seeing a place where fire had been. I saw some pieces of skin. I have been a number of years in the Colony. I never saw one like the leopard-coloured bullock of my son’s. One piece of skin resembled that of the leopard coloured bullock. There was a piece of a black hide. It might have been a cow’s hide for all I know. The skins were singed with the fire. It was about half a mile from my house.

Cross-examined by the Prisoner.— I cannot say there were no other bullocks on the ground when I turned mine out, on the Saturday. But I saw none. From my house to the settlement, it is feeding ground all the way. The whole settlement turn their bullocks out on this ground. The bullock that was brought to me, said to have been found at the Bluff, had his eyes shot out. Will not swear that my bullocks were not stolen from the Bluff. It is a mile and a half to the Bluff from my house. The furthest place I have been up the country, is Prosser’s Plains. Smith was a Government man of mine. I did not have him apprehended for stealing. I did not suspect him of stealing, but only of giving them away. I do not call giving away my property stealing the property.

Re-examined by the Attorney General.— I fed the bullocks upon grass, and about the farm yard. Many bullocks were at that time fed in the farm-yards.

John M’Ginnis examined by the Attorney General.— Corroborated the evidence of the former witnesses.

Ralph Dodge examined by the Attorney-General.—I knew John Buckly or “Pretty Jack,” heard that he is missing. I heard it first about July, 1825. I have not heard that he was ever seen since.

By the Court.—The broadest of the three feet marks was not the longest. The shortest was the narrowest.

William Sale Smith examined by the Attorney-General.— In 1825 I lived at Pitt-water. I heard that John M’Ginnis had lost some bullocks. My son in-law, John M’Ginnis, came to me and asked me to assist in searching for them. A few days after I was splitting shingles at a place called Bullock-hill. I found where a fire had been — the ashes were very fresh, but the fire was out. I found two pieces of bullock hide sticking to a log which was not burnt through. I took the two pieces of hide, which I thought belonged to my son’s bullocks, and placed them under a tree, one piece was full of small spots, and the other black. I believed at the time they were part of my son-in-law’s bullock, and I believe so now. There was the paunches of two beasts in the middle of the fire, which I opened and found to contain several grains of wheat among the dung. I found some pieces of bone; they were very small, and I could not tell to what animal they might have belonged. The hide and paunches were fresh. I saw the track of a cart, about two or three rod off the fire, I traced it to the bridge against Reardon’s brewery, both backwards and forwards. The track was very fresh, and within a rod or two of the bridge. I saw some bits of meat and bones, as if a beast had been chopped up. I went with M’Ginnis the next morning to the spot where I had hid the pieces of hide, and shewed them to him, and placed then on the logs as when I first found them. I took them to Mr. Gordon’s. It was near two miles from Mr. Lakeland’s where I was splitting shingles. It was a quarter of mile from where I split the shingles to the fire.

By the Court.—It was a large fire. The fire was out. It had rained between my first finding the fire and going again — the ashes were damp.

Richard Green examined by the Attorney-General.—In July, 1825, I lived at B. Reardon’s, and had been there since May, 1823, when I first came into the country. I was employed in shoemaking and tanning. I knew a man named “Pretty Jack,” and had for some time before. I had seen him often at Reardon’s, in company with Charles Routley and James Hanaway. He was doing no work. The last time I saw him was a week before the robbery of Mr. Minett, in Pitt-water. The last time I saw him was at the Eastern Marshes, at Reardon’s run. I was living at Reardon’s house all July, 1825. Routley, Hanaway, and another were at the house one Saturday, about two or three o’clock. Hanaway went out first, Routley followed, and I saw no more of them that day. I saw Hanaway on Sunday afternoon, he came to Reardon’s place and yoked four bullocks, filled a keg of beer, took a cart, and said he was going to the lower ferry. I saw the cart and Hanaway about two or three o’clock on Monday. I got up, and saw a cart coming from the brewery by the road-way — the night was moon light. I heard the cart and Hanaway at the door. It was Reardon’s cart and Hanaway was driving it. The bullocks also were Reardon’s. It was the same cart I saw go on Sunday afternoon. It was loaded with meat above the sides. It appeared to be a large bullock. I cannot exactly say what sort of meat it was, but it was fresh killed meat. I got up next day at day-break — say six o’clock. I saw Charles Routley standing at the end of the house; as soon as he saw me he walked down the paddock. I went about my work until Routley was gone from sight. I went to the front yard and saw the cart covered in blood. I knew Routley was in the bush a run-away. There were several of my fellow servants saw him. He came armed with a gun. I was with him the night he took the bush, in Reardon’s brewery. I saw him contriving to get ammunition to go at that time. He was afraid of being taken upon a warrant. I saw him get the ammunition, and knew he went into the bush. I saw him at Reardon’s two or three months after this — it was on a Sunday night, in the parlour — there was a wedding there that night — Thomas Miller was married. I heard Routley talking in Reardon’s bed-room. Hanaway, Reardon, and his wife were in the room, I heard Routley say, that he had put “Pretty Jack” into the fire he turned his head round and grinned at me. I knew that Routley said it. They were all talking and joking in the room. I went away to my lodging, and have never seen “Pretty Jack’ since. I had been at the door about two minutes when I heard Routley say it. I went up to the door, and just as I got there I heard Routley say it. I went up to the door, and as I got there I heard Routley say those words. I will swear he mentioned “Pretty Jack’s” name. I did not hear him say I put him. I was in the passage only two minutes. I did not see Routley that night. I never swore that I saw him that night. I have have [sic] left Reardon’s four years. I do not recollect how long I lived at Reardon’s after Routley was in the bed-room. I was an assigned servant. I had heard that “Pretty Jack” was missing when I heard this, but did not go to the Magistrate at that time. I did not tell of it until I had got my liberty from Reardon two or three years afterwards. I first gave the information to Captain Glover. I went voluntarily.

Cross-examined by the Prisoner.—I did not say on a former trial that you was in Reardon’s bed-room. I said you would settle any person who said any thing about you. (Examination read as taken before Mr. Spode.) I did not say before in the Court that I first saw the cart from the window. I did see the cart as I passed the window, after it was gone into the yard.

In answer to a question as to how many days after M’Ginnis lost the bullocks, he saw the prisoner at Reardon’s?— It was not after, but before.

Re-examined by the Attorney-General,— I saw “Pretty Jack” in the Eastern Marshes about a week before Mr. Minett’s robbery, and about three weeks or a month before the bullocks were lost. I saw Routley at Reardon’s, in the parlour, on the day of the wedding, I said before. The moment I was out of bondage I thought it my duty to bring these things forward. I was never before the Magistrate till I made the statement.

Robert Cockburn, examined by the Attorney-General.—In April, 1829, I resided at Kangaroo Point. I lived at Bailey’s house, and Jones lived there at the same time. The second time, Dec. 1, 1828, it was about from 9 to 11 o’clock, a voice asked was Bailey at home? Bailey went out, and Routley followed him in. He was dressed in coarse cloth trowsers, a sort of blue jacket without sleeves, skin cap, and half-boots. He complained of having been chased through the Bagdad Tier by a party of men. Bailey told me to make him some tea, and I did. He then laid down alongside me in bed. After going to bed we talked of Macquarie Harbour. I said when I was there, I heard you burnt “Pretty Jack” alive, what did you do it for? He said, we had been in so many concerns together, that he was afraid when he was apprehended he would tell of all. I said it was a cruel death, I should sooner have shot him, or knocked his brains out. I told him it had been said he forced Jack to carry the wood. He said yes, you would have carried it had you been there. I then said, how did he take it, when you threw him upon the fire? he said the b——r turned his face and grinned at us as if he had been laughing. He said Perkins was with him when he did it. I asked him how it ended? He said, by rousing up the fire and breaking the bones, so that they should not be discovered from any other bones. I asked him no more questions. I had known him more than seven years. I got up soon after day-light and gave information the same morning in Hobart Town. I knew “Pretty Jack.” I asked him no more questions — I was afraid as he had a large knife like a butcher’s knife. It was in his jacket pocket. When I was a prisoner, in Mr. Simpson’s house drinking, I was introduced to Routley by a man named Edwards, as a fit person to be trusted to join in such a robbery, as Mr. Simpson’s. I said when all is ready let me know, but I was removed from Pitt-water to the Coal-River, and had no opportunity of seeing Routley afterwards. The first time he came to Bailey’s house, I heard a voice call Bailey, he said come in. Bailey went out and came in again, and opened the bed-room window, and let Charles Routley in that way, I saw Charles Carter and Chief District Constable Robertson leave the Police-office. A few minutes before they left, I saw Buckly go away. Buckly and me came over together, I did not tell him I was going to give information against Routley. We were warned to go by Mr. Lascelles.

Cross-examined by the Prisoner.—There were several persons in the same room with us. There was myself, you, and a child. Jones did not sleep with us, under the same blanket. Mr. John Lord, a Magistrate, did not live there. His house was some way by land.

Margaret Donovan examined by the Attorney-General.— I was not a servant to Reardon, but used to stop there now and then. I remember the time when Reardon came to town to be tried here. It was on a Monday. I remember in the morning, in the kitchen, hearing conversation about the cart. I went to the front of the house. I saw the cart near the front door. It was bloody and had straw in it. I heard of some bullocks of M’Ginnis’s being stolen. After this. But cannot say at what time. I believe it was within seven days after.

W. Webb, examined by the Attorney-General.—I live at the Carlton, and lived with M’Ginnis as a servant in 1825; I remember his bullocks beings stolen, I was minding bullocks at the same time; I knew the bullocks were missing on Sunday. I knew “Pretty Jack” for nine years; he had worked at the Carlton the harvest before. I am a shoe-maker; I made a pair of shoes for him, he had a middling sized foot, but very broad, it was wider across the instep than the length; I have not seen him since. The Thurday previous to the Sunday when the bullocks were missing, he came to me near the barn, asking me for one Shoe; I understood there was a warrant against him — he had been living for one or two harvests at the settlements of the Carlton and Pitt-water.

Cross-examined by the Prisoner.—I have made other shoes from the same last, but made them longer than “Pretty Jack’s.” It was on the Thursday or Friday before M’Ginnis’s bullocks were stolen, that I saw him.

James Shelby, examined by the Attorney-General.— I am a constable and have been for three or four years. I remember in December, 1828, going out in search of a prisoner; had a warrant for felony. We watched Dalton’s house, on Bagdad Tier; got there before sun rise, and planted ourselves in the bottom opposite to the house, but could not see it. Before the sun rose, some one from Dalton’s house went up the tier, and I went after him; he got away from us — a short time after we found him again. Sewell had him in custody; I asked him what he had done with his arms, and he said if he had arms he would have dropped one of us; he was in a miserable state as to clothing; said he had torn his clothes in getting away from Mr. Robertson and Carter. I took him to Mr. Armytage’s; he wanted Mr. Armytage to give him a character. He said he was more afraid of Charles Carter than any other man; he said that he thought Cockburn was the only enemy he had, and if he was out of the way he should get out of all his troubles.

Cross-examined by the prisoner.— I was a good distance from Sewell when he took me. I will not swear, I saw Sewell take you. There were three constables in the party; I was down in a gully below the house. I had not heard you were working at Dalton’s in ploughing and sowing; I did search you. I found nothing about you.

——— Tripp, examined by the Attorney-General.— I was a servant to Mr. Gordon, the Magistrate, for four years. Mr. Gordon gave me some things; I saw bones, a knife, and a steel. I buried them, and have since looked for them, but cannot find them

Charles Carter, examined by the Attorney-General.— I was a constable in December, 1828, attached to the Richmond Police. I was in Hobart Town, and went over the water to apprehend Routley; I went over to Kangaroo Point. As soon as we landed, we ran up the side of a hill; saw Routley jump out of a window from Bayley’s house, and run away. I chased him two or three miles; I came up within 50 yards of him, when he jumped into a scrub and disappeared. I searched the scrub, but could not find him; he had nothing on but his shirt, and a small parcel under his arm, like a pair of shoes. I know Robert Cockburn, saw him in Hobart Town; I did not learn that there was a Sheriff’s warrant after him for debt.

This was the case for the prosecution.

The prisoner then addressed the Court to the following effect:—

Your Honor and gentlemen of the Jury.

I need not trouble the Court with any observations, as I have a clear conscience, that I am innocent of this charge. I am charged with killing a man, whom it is not proved is dead, or has been murdered;— it is not proved that “Pretty Jack” has not left the country.

At 11 o’clock on Wednesday morning, the Chief Justice proceeded to sum up the evidence, and to deliver his charge to the Jury. His Honor pointed out in the most clear and distinct manner the law as applicable to the various counts in the indictment, and dwelt at very considerable length upon every to point that could be favourable to the prisoner, admitting the Jury, that if they did not believe the evidence of Green and Cockburn, there really was no count upon which to identify Routley with the murder charged against him; but if gave credit to the testimony of these witnesses, then that part of the case which, without such belief remained unimportant, would in consequence become collateral and important evidence for the Crown; so that in point fact, the decision as in the guilt or innocence of the prisoner must depend upon the fact of those persons being the witnesses of truth, or the inventors of that which they had sworn to have heard from the mouth of Routley.

After a most patient and luminous explanation of the evidence as it affected the prisoner, and giving to him the full benefit of every thing, that would bear a favourable complexion, the Jury retired, and in about a quarter of an hour returned a verdict of — Guilty.

The Judge proceeded to pass the dreadful sentence of the Law, pointing out to the prisoner the enormity, and more than inhuman barbarity that had been exemplified in his atrocious case, and at the same time shewing him how clearly the finger of Providence might be traced in putting an end to his long career of crime, and at the same time holding him up as an example, that the perpetrators of such horrible outrages become their own accusers, and furnish out of the very excess of their depravity, the clue that may be followed to their final condemnation. After exhorting him to avail himself of the few hours that remained to make an atonement to his God and his country, by making every confession that lay in his power, he sentenced him to be executed on Friday morning.

Through the whole of this extraordinary trial, which lasted from 10 o’clock on Tuesday to nearly 4 o’clock on Wednesday morning, the prisoner conducted himself with a propriety that could scarcely be expected from a person of his class in life, standing in such a situation.

September 16.

George Scott and George Parker, were found guilty of stealing in a dwelling-house. The following prisoners were discharged by Proclamation:— James Tansley and Joseph Carter, for absconding from Macquarie Harbour; Daniel Wilkinson, cattle stealing; John Donnelly and Arthur M’Lane, burglary.


Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Tuesday 19 November 1867, page 6




From the few circumstances just related you will form a good idea of Carroll’s position and danger, and no doubt conclude that, as so many persons were coming in dangerous contact with the gaol, it was no difficult matter for a few lawless men to decide upon waylaying those who were hunting them to justice. Carroll’s effigy had just been burnt in Braidwood, and among the mob looking on were a senior-constable and a constable.


The intelligence of the murders puzzled me. We heard Carroll had gone out to Jingera the afternoon previous. We knew that a certain squatter had been seen talking with him in a public-house in Braidwood for a long time, and one or two of us concluded that Carroll was enticed out; and at this period, when, the whole circumstances have been so fully placed before the public, nothing has altered the opinion previously formed that Carroll was enticed out by false representations. Carroll and his party went straight to the place at Jinden near which they were murdered. They were expected, for that vigilant telegraph, James Griffin, who had been on the look-out, saw them approaching, went to apprise those who were in the plot, and then vanished unseen. Griffin was a particular friend of this squatter and had borrowed his rifle.

It is unnecessary here to repeat in detail the particulars of the murders. Carroll was evidently told he would find the Clarkes at Guineas’, a few miles from Jinden, and advised to approach on foot the next day, as they would be seen from a long distance approaching if they went on horseback. There were two tracks, or bush roads, leading from Jinden house to Guineas’. At some distance on the right of the upper track, leading to Guineas’, and about midway between the two places, there is a ridge of land, and it is tolerably bushy. The land slopes slightly from this ridge to a considerable distance on the left of the track, the ground being tolerably clear, with a moderately-sized tree here and there. Close to the upper track, and about midway, there are three large trees, two being nearly together.

Carroll remained at Jinden house all night, and early next morning started for Guineas’. They had no sooner departed than James Griffin stepped in, and treated Smith to a drop of gin out of the bottle which he had obtained from Mick Connell. What passed between Griffin and Smith at this brief interview may never be known. When satisfied that Carroll and his party had started to Guineas’ there was some proof, so far, that no treachery existed among the conspirators. But the Clarkes wanted further security. They must know that Carroll and party actually went to Guineas’, where, being disappointed, they would return sullenly, and be to a certain extent off their guard. When the “telegraph” saw things working right, the murderers were ready at a moment’s warning. Carroll’s party went to Guineas’, and, of course, were disappointed; so they remained for an hour or two and had dinner. In the afternoon they left to return to Jinden. When half way, they were suddenly fired upon by the two Clarkes and Bill Scott, who had remained concealed behind the three trees just spoken of. Phegan and McDonald fell dead. Carroll and Kennagh fled down the sloping ground with a view to get shelter behind one of the big trees, but they were pursued by Bill Scott and Tom Clarke, the latter singing out for the horses which Griffin held under the ridge above alluded to. They were speedily overtaken and deliberately shot dead when on their knees making ineffectual appeals for mercy.

The accounts of these murders, both oral and printed, and the description of them as given in Smith’s evidence are so various, that it would be folly for me to pretend to give the correct version. Putting the odds and ends together I came to the conclusion that a certain squatter made the plan up, that James Griffin did the telegraphing, and the Clarkes and Bill Scott the shooting part.

What share Mick Connell had in it I cannot say. The above opinion was expressed by me at the time of the murders, but there were officials who could not see it. One of the parties implicated had an official friend in Sydney, and the police, somehow, still had high notions of Mick Connell. The worst of the matter was, that some of the local newspapers hinted pretty strongly that the police had a hand in it.


In eight days I resumed duty, very much weakened by mustard poultices and medicine. As there was an escort going to Queanbeyan I went with it and met my mates about half way out. As the escort passes within five miles of Foxlow we generally come out on the road, on escort days, to hear the news; so as my mates came for news as usual, we met before I got to the station. We soon heard of the boys again. They were on our side. They told a certain friend of ours the next move would be Foxlow, and they would give Mr. Vallance, the superintendent of Mr. Hoskins’ station, and myself a pill each. This information made our senior man stop at home, Although the gang was only nine miles from us. This went on for three weeks. We never left our station. The murder of Carroll and party had frightened many of our chaps. We knew positively that the Clarkes and Bill Scott were camped within a short distance from our station, and it was clearly our duty to go out and capture them if we could, or go through the usual ceremony of firing and being fired at, and making the usual official report of a conflict.

One day we were lying about in the barracks when a man from the farm came, and gave me the wink to follow him outside when he told me he had just seen the three boys in the paddock. It was a wet day and he said they had blankets over them. They rode close past our friend as if they had not seen him. When he came near the barracks, he said he turned to look behind and saw the boys rounding up some horses in the paddock. This paddock was only 900 yards from the police barracks. Our horses were close at hand so we put them in the yard at once and reported to our senior man the refreshing news. “All right,” said he, “let’s feed the horses.” We fed them. He then told the two men, one a senior constable, who had arrived, to stop for the night. After consultation they decided on stopping inside to guard the store. Their own sense might have told them that Tom Clarke would not venture until he knew the police were all out. But we guarded the store all night, as we had done for a long time, but no Clarke came to amuse us. The next morning we mustered our spare horses and found they had taken one of ours and also one belonging to the station (Mr. Hoskins’.) This little trick could have been prevented, if we had jumped on our horses at first and charged the boys when we were told that they were in the paddock 900 yards off, rounding up horses. If we had not captured them we could have done no harm in trying. If we missed them the two men at home had a deadly chance of shooting them. Because, if the boys were only trying to draw us out and to double back to the station the two police who had come for the night could have remained and been prepared, while we who belonged to the station could have mustered the men on the farm, and supplied them with firearms belonging to Mr. Hoskins and lain in wait for them. But instead of considering any plan we let them take our horses and ride away with them before our face. We stayed at home just the same, quite indifferent, courting the girls all day long, except at mealtimes. Laziness and feeding appeared to be the order of the day at our station. To say the truth, I was becoming very uneasy, for though we were at home guarding the Foxlow station, the Clarkes could have stuck us up at any time almost for we were scattered – one in a hut courting, another in the next hut playing cards, another in the barracks cooking, or getting wood and water, with no one specially to look out. And, moreover, many men kept walking about the farm, watching and listening, that one scarcely knew friend from foe. At last we had a civil growl among ourselves, and it would be hard to say what would have been the end of it if we had not been shifted. New arrivals came, so Egan and I were sent to Ballalaba, two fresh men remaining at Foxlow with H.


Although the employing private individuals as secret detectives in pursuit of bushrangers had terminated so disastrously, yet the scheme of sending men in scouring parties was worthy of approval, especially where those men belonged to the regular force. And in proportion as these parties separated themselves from the formal routine of duty to which they had been addicted under the present police system, so would be the measure of their success, the more so if such parties were under good leaders who were allowed the exercise of their own judgments. If the formation of Carroll’s party did no other good, it forced upon the country the necessity of giving up the regimental sham, and using the police in a manner more in accordance with the requirements of bush life. The present police system requires that every policeman shall do his duty. This notion of duty is something akin to the old soldier’s mechanical, without reflection, two hours on and four off — punctually at his post, punctually relieved, punctually in bed, and punctually at his meals. And when on parade it is “heads up,” and “eyes front” with him — buttons shining, boots and pouchbox well polished. Some police will part their hair straight in the centre, like many government clerks, oil and scent it, clean their finger nails and start off, in a gentlemanly sort of way after bushrangers but they’ll take care not to rough it much when out as a matter of form among safe ranges.

Well, there seemed now to be a chance. Egan and myself were sent to Ballalaba, and two fresh men were sent in our place to Foxlow. Two bush parties were formed one under Wright, the other under sub-inspector Brennan. It was my misfortune to be with Ford at Ballalaba, while my mate luckily got with Wright. Ford was acting under Byrnes’ instructions. Brennan’s party was at Crowarry, but unfortunately he was called as a witness to Yass and did not return, I told Brennan how things were going on. He said he could see, and when he came back he would put matters to the right about, and for me to say nothing. Captain Battye with his men, who bad been out all day, called one night and asked the man in charge to get them something to eat but he refused; so the captain reported him but got no satisfaction. I mentioned to Captain Battye that I could get the best of information about the boys, and that with two reliable mates I could do good. He reported and recommended this to the superintendent who came out and asked what information I had. I told him the boys had gone to Goulburn, but but he did not think so, and told me I would be placed in Ford’s party. We went out every day but saw nothing. In a few days we heard the mail had been stuck up near Goulburn.


One day, being in the gully, we called at a certain place. My bush friend told me the two Clarkes were back, but that Bill Scott was not with them. This was on a Saturday. The Clarkes would be at a certain place on Sunday or Monday night for certain. We decided to watch the place both nights. The first evening, about an hour before sundown, we saw smoke rising about three miles at the back of the house, in a dark scrubby mountain. We started, thinking to catch them in the camp. One sergeant refused to go. We found the embers of the fire, and followed tracks till dark, when we returned to the house where a supper was ready. We had supper, one standing guard. We were informed positively the boys would be there before morning, but we went to our barracks. Instead of going out the next night we remained at home and had the mortification of afterwards hearing that Tommy Clarke had called at the place as we were told; that he had his supper quietly; remained about the house all night, and that Wright’s party passed within two hundred yards of both Tommy Clarke and his brother. My information was from a safe source and I knew it if I had power to act, but I was under an incredulous leader, who was not over-fond of bush work, and who would act more from B’s instructions, rather than in a manner which was demanded by the necessities of the case. We once on a wet day, got safely on their tracks, knew where they were going, but instead of lying by, we actually pushed on to the house and had supper. F. asked if it was any use stopping all night? I told him no, flatly; because, the boys would soon be told by the inmates or the children, who were expert “telegraphs,” that we were about. We rode fifty miles that day and spoilt a good chance after all. This game continued day after day. A more unskilful and self-willed leader it was never before my misfortune to be under. Where a party of four or five join for a common purpose, it is obviously for each one’s interest that matters should be well considered. If one of the party had a private and reliable source of information the others should take counsel among themselves and test it. But from the “system” the man in charge is presumed to know, at least he always assumes to know more than those under him.

If I wanted to go one way F. would go another just as B. told him, and home again. This continued, and was repeated so many times that it would be wearisome to relate them. The day we followed the tracks of the boys for fifty miles in the Araluen mountain, it came on to rain hard and we rode home. In speaking to F. about his conduct before the sergeant and all hands at supper, he said the boys were not in that direction. I asked him what he meant after following their tracks all day. He said they were tracks of stockmen, looking for cattle, and persisted in this and swore they were not out in that direction, but he had only just come to the district and knew little of the Clarkes’ way of travelling. The half-caste tracker who was with us, a man who had been born in the Jingera country, and who knew the way of the people better than any of us, swore it was them. But when a senior-constable contradicts a man to his teeth, against the most palpable evidence, what can a trooper do? We had a row on the subject and I wrote out my resignation, with an explanation why I was leaving the police, in the hope of bringing about an inquiry. But the superintendent said it was a curious resignation and that he did not believe what I said in it, but he would forward it on. There were some who were very glad that I was resigning out of their road.


Now the boys were at Bell’s Creek that morning and made across the mountains to the very house we had dinner in, and they remained in the house that night. Tommy Clarke owned to this after he surrendered.

Soon after this information came to our station that the boys were seen camping out in the Araluen ranges. We went out with a special constable with us. We made a complete circle, and crossed our track when we discovered fresh tracks following our own. We concluded these to be the boys tracks and followed them to near the place where the Araluen police had agreed to meet our party from Ballalaba. The other party after getting their dinner on the hill parted and went home before we reached there the second time. We returned to the tracks and found them also going to the meeting place. Now it seems the Clarkes had followed our trail up to see who we were, and saw the other chaps getting their dinner, watched them away, and went over to their camp and had a smoke; so that when we came up to the fire the Clarkes had only just gone. We followed their tracks for a short distance when F. said it was not them and would go home. The special constable tried to persuade him, but it was useless. I said nothing, knowing it was useless to try to convince him, so we pushed for home. Was this doing duty fairly? Tommy Clarke told us afterwards that we passed close to him after we had got about a mile from the meeting place, so that if we had followed up the trail we should have come on them, as they believed they were safe after seeing the other party go homewards; and seeing us making for home they never dreamt we should have come back to our old tracks. So here was another chance lost, and F. ready to swear we were only humbugging him as he could not see fresh tracks. The man could hardly tell a horse track from a bullock’s.


About this time there was a call made on us to go over the range, as a woman out there had lost her child the evening before and could not find him. So out we went about twelve miles away, and beat about looking for the child till night, but could see nor hear anything of the lad. It was just dark when we got back to the house, and found a whole squad of horsemen who were looking for the boy. We noticed two or three of the Clarke’s “telegraphs,” and suspected there was something up. At first we thought it was a draw, to stick up our station, or some place about; but we went inside, and between tears and groans the woman asked me if I carried a revolving rifle, and who else did; and then she wanted us to put the horses in the paddock and stop till morning; then she wanted us to try a nobbler — a drop of real good stuff — but we saw through it all, though we pretended not. We told her we were going to have another turn round, and then we could come and stop for the night. As soon as a chance offered I told F. there was a plan concocting to shoot me and the only chance we had was to give them all the slip till daylight, and then come back and see if the child was at home. As soon as we started to go away, they wanted to know where we were going to camp, and they would go with us right or wrong; but we told them we were going down the side of the range, and would meet them down on the creek at the old hut.

They did not seem to believe it, but when we told them we should be sure to be there they appeared satisfied. There was a farmer there that put in a word for me, and so we parted. This farmer told me privately he knew there was something up, and to look out sharp, for the old woman was up to some mischief. The questions she put about the rifles made me think we were about to be stuck up in earnest. She would have poisoned me if I had drank anything. Those with me knew little of the bush dodges, and as to F. he foolishly believed all she had said and would have stopped in the house for the night with all the mob around us. But F. agreed to take my advice for once, and it was a lucky thing he did, or the world would not have troubled him long; but it was me the Clarkes specially wanted, and I knew I had only myself to depend upon, to keep my wits clear, and my arms always ready.

So we started away in the direction we told them we should go until out of hearing, and then turned silently over the range, and up the other way, and came round to the next house and had some supper. Then we made another double; and at last camped in the creek, about two miles from the aforesaid house of corruption. We tied our horses to trees in the creek, and laid down till morning, without a fire, and then made down to the old woman’s house again, when lo and behold, there was the child, said to have been found at daylight that morning about four miles away. The child it was said had been out two days and nights with-out anything to eat, but still was as fresh as a daisy. It was all a sham. When they found we had given them the slip they brought the child home. He was over at the next house all the while; so we got some breakfast and went home; but you may depend upon it if I could have got a chance at the coves about there I would have touched them up a bit. Some of them joined us going home; and one chap told me confidentially not to trust the woman, and to keep an eye about the place as the “boys” were there sometimes, and also at the back of his place where they kept some horses. He said he would get me one of the horses in the yard, along with some of his own, and he would let me know, so that I could take the horse on suspicion, without throwing any down on him and he would do more for me. So he sent word to the station, but the sergeant said he didn’t believe in any flash natives, nor would he work with them. The chap let the horse out again and shortly after Clarke came and took it.

I know this person meant working honestly. In fact he told me one of his brothers was very thick with the boys, and was afraid he would get into some trouble, so the sooner the Clarkes were taken the better. By working quietly with him he would put us on them. The two brothers came to the station one day to give us information, and I was positively ordered to send them away.

Now the country was crying out about us not doing our duty, and the people not giving information to the police. It was no use giving us any information for we took no notice of it if they did. If I had had two mates at this time, and my own way of working I could have taken the two Clarkes simply enough, but that would not suit others. It was no odds. Our pay was going on, and what matter to us if it cost the Government ten thousand pounds a month. Our wise senior men were hoping some more smart men would join the gang and keep the play up.

Such was the state of things when a lot of secret police came out — Meares’ party, and Turner’s party, and two brothers whom I will call the natives — two as smart men as any in the country for that sort of work.

P.S. I regret to trouble you with a slight correction in paper VII. Some part of my letter appears to have been omitted. It was John Carroll, who is now alive, and a warder in Darlinghurst gaol, who was with Flynn’s party. The deceased Carroll, at the time of which I was speaking, was also a warder belonging to Darlinghurst gaol, but detached to Parramatta gaol where he was employed for a while as acting gaoler. Again, it was not McDonald but Phegan who wrote the petition for the Clarkes, and who perpetrated the disguise. Phegan was a native of Tasmania. His father, I believe, was a soldier in H.M. 12th Regiment. Phegan served his apprenticeship as a compositor on the Hobartown Advertiser, was well informed, a good violinist, and was at one time connected with a Sydney newspaper called the People’s Advocate. He got into some scrape at Narrigah, otherwise he was a respectable man of reputable parents.

McDonald was also a man of excellent character. He had been in the army for many years and left with high testimonials. He had been a police trooper in the district in which he was murdered, and had been a warder in two different gaols where his ser-vices were muoh appreciated.


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Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Thursday 14 November 1867, page 6




We went back to our station after Alick’s conviction, and had a couple of days spell, for we had been out constantly night and day, wet, cold, or dry, and were getting knocked up. I had been out from the time Tommy Clarke began, and to be always wearing two revolvers, with a lot of ammunition round one’s waist, was making me weak; Most of the other chaps were new comers.


About this time the Ballalaba police came upon the Clarkes in the gully. The boys were off their horses, at a little distance but when they heard the police they ran to their horses and galloped away, whíle the Ballalaba police, being close on, blazed away, at them. So the boys turned round and fought for it. They were pretty close to each other. Tommy Clarke was shot in the leg, and was led away by his brother John, while Tom Connell covered their retreat, and kept the police back till they had got to the top of the hill, when Connell waved his hand triumphantly at the police and, with the two Clarkes, rode away. The police did not think it worth their while to follow, so mounted their horses and returned to their stations. The party to which I belonged were in the gully that day; about two miles from the scene of the encounter and rescue. We were told that Tommy was carried away on foot by his brother, while, Tom Connell alone kept the party pf police, under sergeant B. at bay, till they escaped. We hunted about, but seeing nothing, returned to head-quarters, where we only got a very imperfect and partial sketch of this affair.

A short time after the Ballalaba police came on them again, near Ballalaba. The boys were getting their dinners and had just time to mount their horses as the police rushed on them. The police being well mounted the boys could not get away until Tommy Clarke drew up and boldly faced them, firing right and left. Tom Connell, having a bad horse,, sneaked down towards the creek, when the whole of the police went after him and bailed him up. He surrendered, as he always would, quietly, when in the least danger. The police did not then pursue the Clarkes, who were near, but permitted them to go on, unmolested. Tom Connell was taken to the police station in triumph. For this B. was made sergeant, and he deserved his promotion, but there were men in his party who also merited consideration, but they were overlooked.


After this affair you could not go near Ballalaba unless you took your own grub with you. They fancied they had everything right, and became jealous of the police of other stations. The party to which I belonged have gone there as they were sitting down to meals, either dinner or supper, but they would eat away without, offering you a mouthful. So the police of other stations never went to Ballalaba except they could not help it. You could never get any information from the Ballalaba police about the boys; they kept all to themselves to prevent others from succeeding. They cared not two pence how long the boys were out, so long as no other police, took them. They went so far as to request the superintendent to prevent me from crossing the range. It was surmised that our party had the right information. The superintendent most unwisely complied with the request and ordered us not to cross the range. It will be seen presently that our information was correct. The “bush informer” previously alluded to, was our friend. It may be here stated that this young person got a moiety of the reward for the apprehension of the Clarkes, but I would rather tell these things in my own way, though perhaps not exactly in regular order to your mind. Well, they even tried to prevent us from coming up the gully, but we went in spite of them. For where else could we work with any prospect of success? It was in this locality the Clarkes were stopping.

Now here was the country crying out about people being robbed and murdered, and Carroll accusing the whole lot of us to the Colonial Secretary, and before magistrates, for not doing our duty, when one portion of the police were positively trying to keep the other portion of the police in the district from coming on the bushrangers. No doubt the Ballalaba police would have liked to reap all the honours, but why complain to the superitendent and prevent other parties of police from using their exertions? Were robberies and murders, to be perpetrated until one particular party of police arrested the criminals? The whole affair was a grievous blunder. Each policeman, of whatever rank, fancied he had the best clue. An impartial mind, must admit that it was becoming high time for the Government to interfere in some way.


At about this time Tom Clarke got another mate, called the Big Tailor, whose proper name was James Doran. They commenced by sticking up some Chinamen’s stores at Major’s Creek, but Stafford and his party of police came on them and obliged them to shift, though they took their own time to retreat. Here was another party who wanted to do the thing quietly. They had received reliable information that the Clarkes were to stick up in Major’s Creek that night. In fact, when half a mile away only, this party were informed the bushrangers were at the Chinese stores. Now mark this. This party of police belonged to Araluen. There were police stationed at Major’s Creek, who had only just returned from patrol, and were sleeping soundly in the barracks. The Araluen party, after being told the boys were at the stores, had to pass the police station at Major’s Creek; but instead of the officer in charge calling them up, so that all could go down and surround them, as it was his duty to do, he went down with only two policemen. And they went down, not with circumspection, but openly rode along the road to the store. Of course they could be easily seen. The Big Tailor gave the alarm at once to the Clarkes who were inside the store. The Clarkes came to the door as the police came up. Constable Reilly, a plucky fellow, was in front and as he rode up Tom Clarke went to him and coolly asked him who he was. Reilly told him he was a policeman. “Well” said Tom Clarke, “take that!” – as he suddenly let fly at him with his rifle. The other two police, the sergeant and the constable then came up and fired in return; Reilly fired a shot or two, and then retreated after his mates, and tried to rally them, but they did not like the smell of it, and so kept at a civil distance, thus enabling the bushrangers to mount their horses and ride away with a spare horse loaded with booty. Not only this, the bushrangers actually took time to light their pipes before riding away! Here are your regimental policemen when in action.

Now, it will not be found that the Clarkes gave away such a chance as this during the whole time they were out. If S. had got the men from the Major’s Creek police station, went down on foot together, and surrounded the place, they could have taken alive or shot the lot of them. However, he received nearly as many thanks as if he had captured them.


We shifted our station at this time to Foxlow. After being there a short time we heard that the Big Tailor was crippled through a fall from his horse, and was harboured at a certain place some distance above Mick Connoll’s. So Egan and myself started one evening in the wet to the head of the gully, riding all night so as not to be seen. We arrived at a settler’s place at about 7 o’clock in the morning, and as we neared the place, saw two men coming in our direction on horseback. As they looked rather suspicious we kept behind some bushes till they were within shot, when we rode steadily towards them, prepared for contingencies. They would have pulled up only for shame’s sake; so after looking about, as if they could not help it, they came on. They were two of Carroll’s mates. As soon as we saw that, we bade, them good morning, and rode fast to the house, where we saw a man walking about, with a gun in his hand. On approaching nearer, we saw it was Carroll; and his third mate was near. We bade them good morning and walked into the house. We learnt Carroll’s mission was to take the son, our “bush informer” for sticking up the stores at Major’s Creek with the Clarkes. Of course. we knew this to be wrong, but said nothing, determined not to interfere with the detectives. In fact, we did not let on that we knew them to be Carroll and his party. Carroll was waiting for the son. We were told inside that he was over at Guineas’ helping them to get in their potatoes; and for us to go and take him if there was anything against him. But we had no charge against him. In fact we had reason to believe he was the most straight-forward young man in all Jingera. We saw at once that Carroll had been urged on by Lucy Hurley, who was anxious to get rid of him because the young man had refused to do certain jobs and to help her to take some horses to Tom Connell. In fact the “boys” determined shortly after this to shoot him, but he managed to escape.

Carroll had sent the two men we met to Guineas’ to arrest young —. When we came out, Carroll called Egan, and told him who he was, and who he was going to arrest. He sent Egan to me to say he was an officer of police and requested me to go to Guineas’s and keep young — in a string, till he and his men came up and arrested him. This I declined (1) because we had come expressly to arrest the Big Tailor; (2) because we did not like being interfered with by Carroll; (3) because we knew where young — was on the night of the robbery; and (4) because we had orders not to ride in the bush alone; and it was seven miles across to the range to Guineas’. After considering a few minutes, I told Egan to tell Carroll my objections. He asked my number as well as my mate’s, and reported us to the Colonial Secretary, or to some one high in authority.

Here was a pretty kettle of fish, four men well armed going to take an innocent young man, and charge him with robberies, while the police were to be brought into it for a reprimand. The whole affair was absurd. It was absurd to send a trooper seven miles off to take a man, and keep him in a string for an hour or two, till Carroll’s men came up. It would have been illegal for us to take him without a sufficient charge; and even then, to obey the order for arrest, the policeman must know that he who orders has power to enforce obedience. Carroll did not possess this power over the police. Well, Carroll and his party took this person and had him brought up at the Braidwood Police Court. He was remanded from time to time; the only particle of evidence, which Carroll could adduce being that of Lucy Hurley, and so, finally, he was discharged. But of this more presently.

Now, on the morning we met Carroll at the house in the gully, he had passed one place and enquired for the Big Tailor, who was soon told by friends that he was “wanted,” and, of course he was shifted at once. So that our night’s ride in the wet, and swimming rivers in the dark went for nothing, and this through the imprudence of a man who was charging the police with all sorts of crimes, with being too familiar with the Miss Clarkes, and for being in a public-house getting a nobbler after being out in the cold and wet bush two or three days. The Big Tailor was actually in the pig stye when Carroll was inquiring in the house for him, and telling the inmates he was a special detective, and that he wanted the Big Tailor for the robbery at Major’s Creek. But he was not in the pig stye when we called there about an hour after wards. As soon as Carroll and his party left, the Big Tailor was removed to a thick scrub half-a-mile off, on the hillside. We felt so disappointed when we went to the pig stye, and afterwards heard what Carroll had said inside the house, that we said to ourselves “This is a clear case of aiding and abetting a bushranger to escape.” Through this ocurrence the Big Tailor was never arrested.


The Big Tailor, in due time, rejoined the Clarkes at their camp near Michelago. We were told he was being harboured at a settler’s place named P—, and that he had a double-barrelled gun and revolvers with him. Our opinion of the Tailor, was that he would have shot as many men as came in his road sooner than be taken. We went after him, but it was a wild-goose chase. When, at one end of the gully we heard he was at the other, near Michelago. He got wind we were after him, and managed to slip off towards Gippsland. It is generally supposed that he got drunk on his way there, fell against a tree, and was killed. Now the Tailor sadly wanted to leave the Clarkes. When he went away he had with him a railway wrapper and a double-barrelled gun belonging to the Clarkes. When the Tailor’s body was found there was neither gun nor wrapper near it, and it was not ascertained that his death was otherwise than accidental. But the Clarkes were camped not far from where his body was found, and as the Clarkes never liked to trust a confederate who had left them, it is more probable that they killed him and took the gun and wrapper from him. The Clarkes then got another mate by the name of Bill Scott, a real rowdy, and a customer that would deliberately shoot any man in New South Wales for sixpence.


At about this time Carroll was nearly every day arresting some of the people in the Jingera country; some were guilty enough, but others he was “rigged” to take by his informant who had a down on them. We knew he was being misled, but, could say nothing. It was about this period he made the great mistake of seizing some wine and spirits which had just been transferred from one store to another. Carroll was “rigged” to this by another store-keeper. It is questionable whether Carroll ever knew the facts about this case, at all events, it did him much injury, for after keeping the wine for some time, the magistrates ordered him to return it. This turned many people against Carroll; for the store-keeper in question had a license all the while, and entered an action for damages, but Carroll’s death stayed proceedings.

As we are approaching the period of the “Jinden murders” it would be as well here to devote a few lines as to Carroll’s position preceding this occurrence.

When Carroll first came up to Braidwood he was in Flynn’s party. Flynn went out to Foxlow where he had friends who told him truly of the movements of the boys. A certain police-sergeant heard of Carroll being at Foxlow, and went over, stuck him up, and made him exhibit his authority before all the civilians. This was a cut which Carroll never forgave. Flynn had got on the right scent, and saw the boys come over to an old hut. They went to this hut after an encounter with us in the Molongo range, close to Foxlow, previously described. It was to this hut we wished to go when sergeant C. refused, and so we made a mess of it. Now, there can be no doubt that Flynn would have done some good then, but Carroll, most unwisely, fell out with him, and got the party broke up. Carroll then formed his own party and came to Braidwood again with Kennagh, Phegan, and McDonald. The last named had been in gaol for forgery, and Carroll made up a plan with him to entrap the Clarkes through the instrumentality of James Clarke who was in gaol. This plan was as follows: McDonald was to go to old Mrs. Clarkes’ house on a visit with a message from Jemmy, and he was to see the “boys” Tommy and Johnny, and concoct some plan for Jemmy’s escape from gaol. By this dodge, McDonald hoped to find out the haunts and movements of the Clarkes. He was supposed to be acting alone, but it was concerted how, where, and when he should report progress to Carroll and his other two who were to be pretended, surveyors, and they pitched their camp not far from old Mrs. Clarke’s hut, and went about their business for awhile in a very fair manner. The scheme was admirable if cautiously carried out; but Carroll was too eager. He went spying about the house too frequently, and in such a way that anybody could see he was no surveyor. The vigilant “bush telegraphs” were not long before they found out what he and his party were up to. McDonald would go from old Mrs. Clarkes straight to Carroll and talk to him. The rumour that secret detectives had been sent out began to be confirmed in the minds of the ” telegraphs,” who had not permitted these strange “surveyors” to pursue their innocent avocations without being well watched. The proclamation of outlawry had put Tommy Clarke on his mettle. The Felons’ Apprehension Act stimulated the ingenuity of relatives, and sympathising friends. Hence a higher class of bush telegraphs sprang up. Old Mrs. Clarke was not long in detecting the designs of McDonald. She was as deep as McDonald, and had more in her heart to sharpen her perceptions for the safety of her recreant sons. Hence, when she discovered that Carroll was a detective she hunted him from her house. The whole design oozed out, and appeared to be so treacherous on McDonald’s part that the Clarkes, or some one, fired into their camp at night. Carroll then shifted into Braidwood and took up his quarters at Vider’s public-house, whence he would make occasional trips to the gully and back. He reported that he never could see any of the police about Mrs. Clarke’s hut. Carroll was perfectly correct in making this report, for the police could not be induced to watch this most important locality. It was about the time we took Bruce that Carroll made his visits to the gully, and in one of these excursions he made a woeful mistake in arresting our best bush friend; This person put our party on Tom Connell, Bruce, and Lucy Hurley, after his “confidential inteview” at Mick Connell’s. We only got Bruce. I obtained a warrant against Lucy for the carving knife attempt at me, with a view to stop her gallop. She was examined and committed but let out on bail. She as certained from the police — mind this — who had betrayed her and her paramour. So she “rigged” Carroll to arrest young —. She swore she had often seen him sticking up with the boys, and that he helped to stick up Foxlow the first time, but we knew him to be at home at the time the robbery was committed. She told Carroll he helped to stick up Major’s Creek, but we knew he was camped on the road with a load of goods, going to market, accompanied by his mother. He satisfed us that the Big Tailor was at the Major’s Creek robbery. He told us also where the Big Tailor was stopping, namely, near his mother’s hut.


Well, Carroll commenced operations in earnest. He began with the harbourers. He took Mick Connell, or Michael Nowlan O’Connell, as he was called in the indictment; and, then he took James and Pat Griffin. Carroll was right here for they were all guilty of harbouring, aiding, abetting and all that, but he was wrong, when he arrested young —. This young man would have been Carroll’s safety, if he had exercised prudence but he took him at the instigation of Lucy Hurley who had a terrible spite against the young man’s mother, who had a great grudge against me until she saw my intimacy with her son was for a good purpose. So, when we met Carroll at the hut we refused to aid him by going to Guineas’ for reasons before stated. Young — was kept in gaol for some time, but Carroll could get no evidence against him, so he was liberated. This made — work harder — not for Carroll — but for the “regulars,” to get the boys captured. As soon as Mick Connell was let out on bail, the storm began to brew against Carroll. He sent word to the boys that he wanted to see them, and something was arranged. Carroll was boasting that he would arrest all the settlers in the gully, and that he would get up a case against Ned Smith of the Jinden station that would astound him. He arrested Tommy Clarke’s sisters, and used them somewhat roughly. He brought them to the police court where they were examined, but the evidence being insufficient they were liberated. Smith, of the Jinden station expected every day to be taken. Thus the boys and Mick Connell became exasperated and vowed a terrible vengeance. This was about the time I got the gun from old Mrs. Jermyn, near Foxlow. I borrowed it ostensibly to shoot ducks, as her husband was in gaol, and there were swarms of ducks on the river at night. We had not left Jermyn’s long before the boys called and asked for this very gun, saying they wanted it for a particular purpose. When they heard the police had it they swore they would stick up the one who had it, but never ventured to do so.

I was told something desperate was brewing and wrote to Carroll privately to put him on his guard. We watched a certain place two nights but saw nothing. From exposure in the gully I was attacked with inflammation of the chest, and had to go to Braidwood for medical treatment. When lying sick the first day, I was told Smith from Jinden had been in town two days previously and was seen talking to Lucy Hurley, and that they were both talking to Carroll in a public house for a long time. Mick Connell was plotting something with the boys. Smith returned to his station, and the day after or so Carroll and party went there. The two Griffins were out on bail. Knowing Smith, of Jinden; knowing Lucy, and Mick Connell, and the Griffins; knowing the rancour which the Clarkes entertained towards Carroll, for arresting so many of their relatives, especially their sisters, and suspecting treachery, I wrote from my sick bed privately to Carroll, warning him to be very cautious, to keep off tracks, and not to leave the public roads. A few days after this the startling news arrived in Braidwood that two of the special constables had been found shot dead on the track between the Jinden station and Guineas’, and the next day came the appalling announcement that Carroll and Kennagh were found shot dead about a quarter of a mile from the track, and that over Carroll’s breast was placed a £1 note symbolical of the blood money he was hunting for.

These are a few matters preceding the murders, but how those murders were planned, where, and by whom; and how and by whom the murders were perpetrated, will require more careful consideration, for it will not do to mention at least one name in whose behalf high official influence may have been used to save him from a felon’s doom.


[Links to other chapters here]

Spotlight: Inquest on William Drew and other news (18/10/1817)

Hobart Town Gazette and Southern Reporter (Tas. : 1816 – 1821), Saturday 18 October 1817, page 1


Sitting Magistrate – Reverend R. KNOPWOOD, A. M.

SHIP NEWS – On Tuesday arrived the ship Frederick, Capt. WILLIAMS, from Calcutta, via Bencoolen and Batavia, with a valuable cargo of merchandize, – Passengers, Mr. WINDER and Lieut. STEWART, who removed to the Pilot, and sailed the following day for Sydney. In this vessel arrives 7 male and 3 female prisoners, destined for Port Jackson.

On Wednesday sailed the ship Pilot, Captain PEXTON, for Port Jackson, having on board Colonel DAVEY, late Lieutenant Governor of the Colony, Mr. O’CONNOR, Lieut. STEWART, and Mr. WINDER. The following prisoners, lately committed to take their trial before the Criminal Court at Sydney, were sent up in this Vessel:- Collier, Hillier and Watts, the bushrangers; Clarke, Scott and two Crahans, for sheep stealing. A number of evidences on behalf of the Crown also went up in this vessel, amongst whom is Black Mary, a native of this Colony, who some time back was an active guide to the military parties in quest of the bush-rangers.

Remain in the harbour the ship Frederick, and the brigs Spring, Jupiter and Sophia.

On Tuesday Colonel DAVEY, our late Lieutenant Governor, embarked on board the ship Pilot, under a Salute of 13 guns from the Battery. He was accompanied to the Government Wharf by His Honor the Liuetenant Governor, and most of the Principal Officers and inhabitants of the Colony; and on leaving the shore, was greeted by the cheers of a numerous assemblage of spectators.

CORONER’S INQUEST.—An inquest was taken on Monday last at the County Gaol in this town, before A. W. H. HUMPHREY, Esq. Coroner, upon the body of William Drew, whose death we mentioned in our last.

The first evidence was Mr. Assistant Surgeon Hood, of the 46th regt., who deposed that the death of the deceased, William Drew, seemed to have been occasioned by a musket ball passing through the thorax, by entering the back a little below the right shoulder, and shattering the breast bone in its passage; he did not perceive any other injury about the body.

The next witness was Mr. W. Williams, who stated that the deceased was his servant, and employed in looking after his sheep in the vicinity of New Norfolk. It appeared by the testimony of this witness, that he left Hobart Town on the Wednesday prior to the death of the deceased on a visit to his flock; and that when he got to the First River, he found Drew in the hut there. The next morning, Mr. W. went to his grazing ground for some sheep, which he brought back and sheared himself; and on the following morning, soon after daylight, he sent Drew for some more to the same place. Drew being absent for upwards of 4 hours, witness became alarmed, and went to look for Drew; and when he arrived at the place where he had sent him, he walked about for nearly an hour before he found him, who was then running towards witness with a gun, and a dog; upon his coming up, Mr. W. asked him what was the matter, to which he replied, “George Watts was stopping with Howe, whilst he came to acquaint him of it,” and delivered his musket to Mr. W. saying “he did not want it as they had got Mich. Howe’s gun, and that Watts had one of his own.” During their conversation Drew shewed Mr. W. two knives, which he said he had taken from Howe; and upon Mr. W. asking him if he could be of any assistance, he replied “no, as Howe was secured;” he then ran away; Witness and the deceased had previously agreed to take Howe the first opportunity.

George Watts deposed, that after Mich. Howe had been to Drew, at William’s hut, with a letter for the Lieutenant Governor, about six weeks ago, he (Watts) went to Drew, and enquired of him whether he had seen Howe; he replied he had a or 3 times successively, and was again to see him on the Friday following at sunrise; he said should he come on Thursday or Friday, they could take him.

On the Thursday night Watts went to New Norfolk, took Triffit’s boat and proceeded across the river, and concealed himself along-side of a path, near the place Drew appointed to meet him, till daylight. About sunrise Drew came, and told him he was to meet Howe at a place called the Long Bottom, where William’s sheep were. Watts told Drew to leave his gun, as he thought Howe would not come up to them if he perceived it; Drew left it hidden; they then both proceeded to the place where they expected to meet Howe; upon arriving there, Drew called two or three times, which Howe answered, from the opposite side of the creek. When Watts came within ninety yards of Howe, he told him to knock the priming out of his gun, and he would do the same, which both parties did; they then went about 50 or 40 yards and began to light a fire. The first opportunity, Watts caught Howe by the collar and threw him down; Drew tied his hands, and took two knives from his pocket; Watts and Drew got breakfast, but Howe refused to eat; they then were about proceeding to town, when Drew proposed to take his master’s musket and dog back, which Watts agreed to, desiring him not to inform his master of any thing, which he promised. Upon Drew’s return, they all proceeded towards Hobart Town, Watts with his gun loaded walked before Howe and Drewe behind. When about about 8 miles on the road, Watts heard Drew scream and on turning round received a wound in his stomach from Howe; but how he got loose, he did not know, excepting by cutting the cord. Howe said, that “he would settle Drew’s business,” as he had by this time got possession of Watt’s musket; he immediately fired at Drew; Watts being amongst some wattles did not hear him speak or see him fall; he enquired if Drew was dead? Howe replied “yes,” and “he would shoot him as soon as he could load his piece.” Drew carried Howe’s musket previous to being shot, but it was not primed. Watts dreading being shot, ran about 200 yards, and lay down a few minutes from cold and loss of blood. Upon being able to walk, he made all haste to a hut belonging to James Burne, and on being put to bed he told Mrs. Burne that he was stabbed by Howe, and requested her husband to get Waddle the constable to take him to town; by the time Waddle arrived he was hardly able to speak; he only informed him of his name, and, when able to talk next morning, he told him Drew was shot. The testimony of the other witnesses merely relates to searching after, and finding the body of Drew, and conveying it to town.

The Jury, after a short deliberation, returned a verdict that the deceased, William Drew, was murdered by Michael Howe.

Spotlight: Trial of Sam Poo for Wilful Murder (13/10/1865)

Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), Friday 13 October 1865, page 5



Sam Poo was charged with the wilful murder of constable John Ward, on the 3rd February, 1865, at Talbragar, to which he pleaded not guilty.

Mr. Innes, at the request of his Honor, defended the prisoner.

The Government interpreter Sing Shigh translated the evidence to the prisoner.

Mr. Butler having opened the case.

John Clough was called, and deposed: I am in the employ of Mr. Plunkett, at Talbragar; I remember the day that constable Ward was shot; I saw the prisoner in that neighbourhood the day after Ward was shot; I was coming through the scrub, and I saw him covering me with a gun; he asked me where I was going, and on my telling him that I was going to Mr. Plunkett’s, he said, “Go on, or I will give you one too,” Pointing to the gun and a pistol that was lying near him on a log. The gun shown me (one that had been cut down in the barrel) is the gun he had; it had a piece of leather near the nipple like that now on the gun; I did not notice the pistol-could not swear it was a pistol; the prisoner was dressed in a serge shirt and corduroy trousers like those worn by the prisoner now; he had a hat like the prisoner’s.

By Mr. Innes: Never saw the prisoner before that; my brother was with me when he stopped me, but he stood some way off; I am positive the prisoner is the man; he did not offer to molest us; he had a swag with him, but we had nothing with us; I asked him where he was going and whether he was lost, and told him I would soon fetch somebody to shift him out of that; it was a piece of rag the prisoner had over the nipple of the gun; it did not occur to me that the prisoner might think we were going to stick him up; I could see his face plainly, and I did not think he was an old man; he was rather stouter than he is now.

Elizabeth Golding deposed: I live with my husband near Mr. Plunkett’s; on the 30th January, I saw the prisoner at my place; he came and spoke to my little girl; it was in the forenoon, and he went away; soon after he retuned; I asked him what he came back for, when he said, “If I cannot have my will of the girl, I will of you.”; he had a gun with him like that shown me; it had a precisely similar piece of leather round the barrel; I ran off to get assistance; the prisoner is the man.

By Mr. Innes: The prisoner was dressed then as he is now. I never saw him before. I am certain he is the man. My husband came back with me and the prisoner was gone.

James Francis Plunkett deposed: I live at Talbragar and remember constable Ward being shot. I found Ward lying in the bush wounded. I remember seeing the prisoner the night before Ward was shot. I remember seeing in one of the shepherds’ huts some things strewed about in confusion. There was a mess as if a flour bag had been emptied, and on the floor was a piece of a leather legging which had been cut. The leather round the gun is similar to that of the leggings. I found the things disturbed in the hut three or four days after Ward was shot. I found Ward wounded and took him to my house, where he died at four o’clock in the afternoon. He said he knew he was dying, and asked repeatedly “What is to become of my wife and children?” He knew he was dying and I took down a statement in writing. Afterwards he made other statements which I did not put down. This statement (produced) is the one I wrote.

By Mr. Innes: Constable Ward knew he was dying. He asked us to pray for him. The prayers we offered up were those of the Church of England for the sick and dying. I read the whole service. I sent for a doctor, who was forty-five miles away. I do not know whether he requested me to do so; probably he did so. The doctor came and remained till after Ward was dead. His family were, at his request, also sent for, but they did not arrive till he was buried. I read a portion of the service, and my wife read the rest.

Mr. Innes submitted to his Honor whether the declaration of the deceased could be admitted, as it had been ruled that where, after a declaration had been made, some hope of recovery had been expressed by a person who afterwards died, such a declaration could not be received. Mr. Plunkett had said that probably constable Ward expressed a wish for a doctor to be sent for, and this, he contended, was sufficient lo show that the deceased entertained hopes of recovery. The learned counsel concluded by quoting authorities in support of his argument.

His Honor said there was no positive evidence that Ward had made any request for a doctor. The witness could not remember, but he positively stated that Ward was firm in his conviction that he should die. The declaration, therefore, must be admitted.

Mr. Innis requested that the point might be reserved.

Mr. Butler then handed in the dying declaration of Ward, which was read as follows:— “I, John Ward, senior constable, stationed at Coonabarabran, do hereby solemnly declare, believing myself dangerously ill, and at the point of death, that on the 3rd day of February, 1865, I met two men on the Mudgee side of Barney’s Reef, who told me that a Chinaman was about sticking up people. When I got on the Talbragar side of Barney’s Reef, I sighted a Chinaman, and when he saw me he left the road and went into the bush. I chased and overtook him and told him that I was a policeman, and ordered him to put down his gun. He ran at me, and said, ‘You, policeman, me fire.’ When he presented his gun, I got off my horse, and took out my revolver. He followed me round the horse, fired at, and wounded me. I fired one shot at him, and then fell. I fired two more when I was on the ground. He ran away in the bush, loading his gun. To the best of my belief, the Chinaman was a short little cranky old man; he had a gun and a pistol.”

Examination resumed: After I had written the statement just rend, the deceased described the dress of the Chinaman who shot him. He said it would be of no use, for the Chinaman would change his clothes. He described the man’s dress, saying he wore a blue shirt and a strangely made cap. He said the man who shot him appeared to be a cranky, little, short old man.

Alfred Smith deposed: I was driving some sheep, on the evening of the 3rd February, at Talbragar, when I heard the report of firearms. A young man was with me, and on turning round I saw a man walking through the bush. He was dressed in a blue serge shirt and darkish trousers. His appearance corresponded with the prisoner’s. Afterwards I heard that constable Ward had been shot.

By Mr. Innes: I was near enough to see whether the man who was running away was an European or a Chinaman; I was 250 or 300 yards from him.

Thomas Matthew Morris deposed to being with the last witness, and seeing a man pass him in the bush riding, a few minutes before he heard shots fired; after the firing he saw a man coming from the same direction carrying something in his hand, which he thought was a gun ; in appearance and dress he resembled the prisoner.

Alfred Smith recalled: When I saw the man who passed after the shots were fired, he had something in his hand, which I believed was a gun.

Dr. William King deposed: I attended constable Ward, and found one wound in the pelvis, which was evidently caused by a bullet; there were other small wounds; I saw the deceased before his death; his case was a hopeless one.

Constable Burns deposed: I went out with two constables and a black tracker to scour the country, after it was ascertained that constable Ward was shot; we returned in a few days unsuccessful, and getting fresh information we started again; we met with the prisoner in the bush, our attention being drawn to him hy his firing off a gun; he ran into the scrub which was very thick, and we had to dismount to follow him; we fired after him and eventually brought him to bay and arrested him; the prisoner was dressed then as Chinamen usually dress; he had two jumpers on (produced) and the other clothes he now wears; he had the gun now shown me which has been cut down; it was loaded with a bullet and slugs which I produce; he also had the pistol now in court.

By Mr. Innes: The prisoner was shot and gave a scream, and was afterwards knocked senseless with a blow on the head; he was injured seriously, and was not expected to recover.

Dr. King recalled: The wounds I saw on Ward’s body might have been produced by a bullet and slugs similar to the charge shown me.

Mr. Innes asked his Honor whether there was anything to go to the jury on the charge of murder.

His Honor considered that there was ample evidence to sustain an indictment for murder.

Mr. Innes then made a telling speech in the prisoner’s behalf.

His Honor having gone through the evidence, pointed out its various features; the jury retired, and after a short interval, returned with a verdict of guilty. Sentence deferred.

Spotlight: The Bushranger Morgan (23/09/1864)

McIvor Times and Rodney Advertiser (Heathcote, Vic. : 1863 – 1918), Friday 23 September 1864, page 3


The following more detailed accounts of the shooting of Sergeant Smyth by Morgan is from a Gundagai paper:— A party of police, consisting of Senior Sergeant Smyth, Senior Constable Baxter, Constables Connor, and Maguire, and a blackfellow named Jimmy Reed, were camped on Sunday night at Dougal’s Swamp, near Keighran’s station. They had just got tea, and were lying in the tent yarning, as is usually done by persons camped out. They had no sentry on guard – that duty being delayed until they “turned in” for the night. Suddenly their discourse was cut short by a volley being fired into the tent amongst them. Sergeant Smyth immediately jumped to his feet, calling on his men to follow him – he firing two shots in the direction he fancied the volley came from. The men who rushed out of the tent immediately after him, scoured the bush in every direction, as well as the darkness would allow them, but failed to find any traces of the ruffians; but, from the tracks discovered at daylight next morning, they must have overrun the bushrangers in the dark. They remained in the scrub about an hour, when they, after some consultation, deemed it better to return to the tent, which, considering that the night was dark, and the surrounding scrub would completely shelter the attacking party, was, to say the least, attended with some danger. Baxter and Connor crawled on their hands and knees to the tent, and found Smyth lying on his back dangerously wounded, and fast bleeding to death. They took everything out of the tent; and, having covered poor Smyth up in the few blankets they had, they managed to convey him to Keighran’s station, he still bleeding and suffering great pain, where they remained until day light. Constable Baxter and the black fellow then took up the track near the tent, and started to follow the ruffians up. The other two constables proceeded to the Ten Mile Creek, to give information and obtain medical aid for Smyth. Superintendent McLerie who was proceeding to Sydney on sick leave, happened to be at that place; and he immediately ordered his buggy to be taken off its springs, and the body to be used as a stretcher to convey Smyth to Ten Mile Creek. From the position of the bullet holes in the tent, there cannot have been less than five bushrangers. There are seven bullet holes in the tent; the bullets were picked up inside of it, some of them belonging to a large bore pistol. Constable Connor had a very narrow escape. He was lying down, leaning on his elbow, in the tent, when one of the balls went through the sleeve of his coat, inflicting a slight wound about two inches above the elbow joint. Superintendent McLerie has deemed it necessary to return to Albury for the present. Sub-inspector Morrow and a party of police have started from Albury in pursuit of the bushrangers; and Sub-inspector Zouch has left Wagga Wagga on similar duty. A strange incident occurred in connection with this cowardly attack. Shortly after the party were camped, two men came up and were admiring the site chosen for the camp, remarking that they could not have chosen better. They are well known as bush “telegraphs,” being the two men to whose house Sergeant Carroll traced Morgan some time back. Sergeant Smyth’s wound is a very dangerous one. The ball entered immediately above the nipple of the left breast, following the course of the ribs, and came out under the left shoulder-blade; so that, while the wound may not be considered mortal, yet fatal results may ensue from it. The people are greatly excited on this muderous attack, which in cold-blooded treachery far surpasses the Lachlan escort robbery. — Age.

Thomas Jeffries: an overview

Con-artist sailor turned cannibal convict murderer.

He was referred to as “the monster”, accused of a string of horrific crimes including murder, infanticide and cannibalism. His reputation was so repulsive that the gentleman bushranger Brady threatened to break him out of prison so he could have the privilege of hanging the villain himself. But was Thomas Jeffries (aka Jeffrey) as bad as he was claimed to be?

Jeffries (or “Jeffrey” as he would write it) was a native of Bristol, born in 1791. His father was a butcher, and as a young man Thomas pursued a career in the British Navy. After three years, the harsh discipline of the Navy pushed him to abscond, which was not altogether uncommon. He then did a stint in the army before absconding again, and after discovering that he no longer fit in with his old mates back in Bristol he attempted to give the Navy another shot. This ended with him robbing the ship.

After an elaborate scheme to rob his well-to-do uncle, Jeffries found himself burning through money. To combat this he joined a gang of highwaymen. After one of their victims was murdered they were captured but released due to lack of evidence.

Jeffries was eventually transported in 1817 for robbery. Sailing on the ship Marquis of Huntley, his experience as a sailor allegedly saw the captain order his irons be struck off so he could work as one of the crew.

The “H.C.S. Marquis of Huntley” coming out of Penang by William John Higgins [Source]

Some sources suggest that he had a wife and children that were left behind when he was transported, though this is unlikely and doesn’t seem to tally with the records of him as a convict. It must also be pointed out that some sources claim Jeffries was a hangman from Scotland, which is certainly not the case. Misinformation about Jeffries goes back to at least the mid-1800s when James Bonwick cobbled together a very inaccurate depiction of Jeffries (among other bushrangers) in a book about the bushrangers of Van Diemen’s Land.

Jeffries landed at Sydney and was quickly assigned, but his misbehaving saw him handballed back to the authorities. He was allocated to a work party at Coal River, where he absconded with a party of four others. They took to the bush, but after a time their supplies ran out and two of their number were, according to Jeffries, killed and cannibalised by the others.

Jeffries was recaptured and sent on a ship to Van Diemen’s Land. He arrived in George Town, where he was sent to the prisoners’ barracks. Soon he climbed up the food chain and become an overseer. He would later brag that in his time as constable the incidence of misbehaving steeply decreased, though there is no evidenceto back him. It was here that his troubles with alcohol began to become evident.

He was stripped of his position after drunkenly attempting to stab the chief constable who had busted him breaking through the wall of the barracks with a pickaxe. Attempts to put him in irons failed but he was subdued and locked up in the George Town Gaol. He was to be transported to Macquarie Harbour but instead was considered more useful in the work party at George Town. In February 1825 he absconded from his work gang and was at large for a time, but was soon recaptured, given 50 lashes and sentenced to hard labour.

In April that year Jeffries was transferred to Launceston, where he became the watch house keeper. In addition, Jeffries was made the flagellator. In the convict world the flagellator was the most despised man. This job was usually given to inmates whose cruel streak was considered useful to the governor for keeping others in check by inflicting as much severe pain and injury on others as they could muster. Many convicts viewed the flagellator as a traitor to the convict class, as they had essentially fallen in with the oppressors to break and brutalise their peers.

Old Launceston Gaol from Wellington Square [Courtesy: Tasmanian Archives, LPIC147/4/62]

Here, even by his own admission, his alcoholism spiralled out of control, leading to reprimands. He was also fined in August for allegedly falsely imprisoning and assaulting Elizabeth Jessop. Although the witness accounts differ greatly and tend to support the idea that Jessop was heavily drunk at the time of the alleged offences and lied about what happened, she was believed over Jeffries. Later writers have tried to construe this event as evidence of Jeffries’ sexual deviancy by claiming he raped the women in his custody, which is not supported by the evidence.

Joined by John Perry, William Russell and James Hopkins, Jeffries escaped from Launceston watch house. The prison authorities had suspected this and lay in wait as the gang headed out. When they were fired upon by a guard, Jeffries dumped his kit and the gang bolted into the bush.

Jeffries was now on the run, and he and his gang were about to seal their infamy with a string of horrendous crimes ranging from robbery to murder and cannibalism.

A description of Jeffries from 1 April 1825 describes him thus:

Thomas Jeffreys, 210, 5 ft. 9¼ in. brown hair, brown eyes, 35 years of age, painter, tried at Notts, July 1817, sentence life, arrived at Sydney per Prince Regent, and to this Colony per Haweis, native place Bristol, castle, hearts, and darts, flower pots, and several other marks on left arm, absconded from the Public Works at George Town, Feb. 1, 1825.—£2 Reward.

“RUNAWAY NOTICE.” Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen’s Land Advertiser (Tas. : 1821 – 1825) 1 April 1825: 1

The gang first robbed a hut at Springs, taking flour, a musket and ammunition. They continued towards the South Esk River, robbing huts as they went. They are said to have expressed at this time a desire to join Matthew Brady’s gang. Brady would later express that Jeffries had offered his services to him but refused. Whether or not this occurred at the same time is impossible to say.

In mid December 1825, the gang stayed for ten days at James Sutherland’s farm, Rothbury, near Campbell Town. On Christmas Day there was a shoot out and one of Sutherland’s men was killed. The gang raided a hut then continued into the bush.

Thomas Jeffrey (illustrated by Aidan Phelan)

On 31 December they raided John Tibbs’ farm near Launceston. Several people were bailed up including Mrs. Tibbs and her infant, as the bushrangers robbed the house. The bushrangers then took their prisoners into the bush, carrying the plunder. The group was split up with Perry and Russell taking one group, Jeffries with the remainder.

Tensions grew as the groups were matched through the bush, resulting in Russell shooting Beechy, a bullocky, and Perry shooting Tibbs in the neck. Despite being badly wounded, Tibbs managed to escape and raise an alarm in Launceston. Beechy would later die from his wound.

The two groups rejoined and continued to head north. During the trek, Jeffries and Russell took Mrs. Tibbs’ child from her and went into the bush where he was killed by one of the bushrangers who dashed his brains out on a tree. Jeffries told the distraught mother they had sent the child to a man named Barnard. After camping for the night the prisoners were released in the morning.

Soon after, a reward of $200 or a free pardon was issued for Jeffries and company.

Thomas Jeffries: on Trial for the Murder of Mr Tibbs’ Infant, by Thomas Bock (1826) [Courtesy: The collections of the State Library of New South Wales, DL PX 5; IE1076928; FL1077014]

The gang’s next robbery was committed near George Town, followed by several days of walking in the bush with captives. On 11 January 1826, the gang encountered Constable Magnus Bakie who was robbed and ordered to guide them through the bush. When Jeffries became convicted the Constable was trying to steer them into the path of a search party he executed Bakie by shooting him.

They set their captives free and continued into the bush, where they ran out of food and became lost. Perry murdered Russell in his sleep and he and Jeffries ate their comrade’s flesh to sustain themselves. Several days had passed between Bakie’s murder and when Jeffries and Perry re-emerged near Launceston at a farm where they found provisions and slaughtered two sheep for their meat. Nor wanting to waste anything, Jeffries and Perry ate the remaining “steaks” made from Edward Russell with fried mutton.

The bushrangers camped overnight but were separated where Perry supposedly became lost while looking for water in the bush while caring their only cooking pot. Around this time the gang’s departed fourth member, Hopkins, was captured.

On 22 January, search parties went out looking for Perry and Jeffries. While one party was at breakfast at a farm near Evandale, an Aboriginal boy who had been recruited as a tracker pointed out Jeffries approaching. The party overwhelmed Jeffries and he surrendered. The creek where “The Monster” was taken was later renamed Jeffries Creek and ran under what is now known as Logan Road. The creek has long since dried up.

The successful posse took Jeffries and back to Launceston where crowds tried to attack the wagon. He was then lodged in the old Launceston Gaol. Shortly afterwards Matthew Brady would write to the Lieutenant Governor, declaring his intention to break into the gaol and murder Jeffries. Perry remained on the run until the end of the month and was captured near Launceston.

When Brady was also captured in March, he and his associates were sent by ship to Hobart to stand trial with Jeffries and Perry. Brady vociferously refused to share a cell with Jeffries, threatening to decapitate him if he was not moved to a different cell.

Thomas Jeffries on Trial for the Robbery at Mr Railton’s and John Perry, by Thomas Bock (1826) [Courtesy: The collections of the State Library of New South Wales, DL PX 5; IE1076928; FL1077004]

Jeffries was tried and found guilty of murder, then sentenced to hang. He was executed alongside Matthew Brady, having confessed to his life of crimes in a self-penned memoir, but laid the blame for his criminal behaviour on his alcoholism. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Hobart Town.

Selected sources:

The following is an incomplete list of some of the sources and references used in the research for this biography. — AP


The Bushrangers, Illustrating the Early Days of Van Diemen’s Land by James Bonwick

Bushrangers Bold! by Bob Minchin

A Compulsion to Kill: The Surprising Story of Australia’s Earliest Serial Killers by Robert Cox

Newspapers and Gazettes:

Hobart Town Gazette (Tas. : 1825 – 1833), Saturday 17 December 1825, page 2

Colonial Times and Tasmanian Advertiser (Hobart, Tas. : 1825 – 1827), Friday 20 January 1826, page 3

Hobart Town Gazette (Tas. : 1825 – 1827; 1830), Saturday 29 April 1826, page 2

Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Wednesday 17 May 1826, page 3

Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), Wednesday 24 May 1826, page 2

Colonial Times and Tasmanian Advertiser (Hobart, Tas. : 1825 – 1827), Friday 5 January 1827, page 4

Forgotten Bushrangers: Thomas Menard

The American-born bushranger who roamed from Warrnambool to Beechworth.

Thomas Menard, also known as “Yankee Tom”, “Yorkey Tom” or James Barrett, was a native of Louisiana who travelled to Victoria in 1855 in search of gold. Born around 1837, he was a single man with no friends or relatives in the colony, and he soon found work as a labourer.

He was not a tall man, even by the standards of the time, only standing at around 5’6″ tall. He had brown hair and grey eyes, and was of medium build. There were few identifying marks, but those on record were a mole on the corner of the right eye, a small mole on each breast, scar on finger of right hand, and a deep scar on his left shin. This basic description would be elaborated on later as police ramped up their hunt.

Next to nothing is known about Menard’s early life or the time he spent in Australia between 1855 and 1865, though later speculation would suggest he spent at least part of the time engaged in crimes such as highway robbery and murder, but the claims are unsubstantiated. Nevertheless, a life of crime would explain why he had aliases.

Menard was employed by a Henry Evans to work a quarry in Warrnambool. It was hard work, but Menard seemingly took to it without complaint. One of his colleagues was an Irishman named James Sweeney. Sweeney was a mouthy, irritable fellow who was constantly spoiling for a fight. After a series of verbal stouches instigated by Sweeney, during which he made disparaging comments about the Americans and the civil war, Menard had had enough.

View of Warrnambool (Tower Hill) by Daniel Clarke, 1867 [NGV]

On 10 June, 1865, after the men had retired for the night, Menard appeared at the doorway to the hut shared by himself, Sweeney, John Hall (alternatively reported as Howe and Haw), while brandishing a pistol. A colleague named Wales was asleep in the skillion. Hall was roused by a gunshot and a candlelight from the slush tub. He spotted Menard with the firearm and begged, “Tom, don’t!” Menard replied, “I don’t want to hurt you; lie quiet.” At that moment Menard fired another shot at Sweeney. Both had hit, one in the abdomen, the other lodging in the left breast. Menard bolted and as Hall helped his wounded colleague to his feet, Menard fired again through the door, hitting Sweeney in the wrist. Hall tried to give chase, but Menard got away.

Sweeney was taken to the hospital where he was attended by Dr. R. Henry Harrington. The abdominal wound was fatal, having destroyed the liver, and in a couple of days Sweeney died in hospital. The charge levelled against Menard was now murder.

Knowing what would befall him if he lingered, Yankee Tom went bush. For the next month police scoured the region to find him with no luck. On occasion, Yankee Tom would re-emerge to get supplies or food, before once again disappearing into the bush. On one such instance, on 24 June, he made an appearance at a halfway house kept by a Mrs. McLean. He simply entered and had refreshments, paid for by another man, then crossed the road back into the bush. The following day he emerged from the bush and entered a surveyors’ camp. He was dirty and unkempt, described as looking like a “lunatic”. He soon disappeared back into the bush once more.

On 28 June, Yankee Tom made an appearance at Maud Post Office. He purchased paper, envelopes, and stamps from Mrs. Meyers, the postmistress, before borrowing a pen and ink. He went to the back of the shop, wrote a letter, then posted it. The letter was addressed to Miss Chapman at Mrs. Taylor’s, Fyansford. He left without further interaction.

Such sightings of the dirty, raggedy bushranger were quite common in the weeks after the shooting of Sweeney. A party consisting of Detective Bailey, Constable McKay, and a civilian volunteer named Steady, began searching for Yankee Tom around Lethbridge and Stieglitz at the beginning of July, gathering as much information as they could from locals.

An amended description of Yankee Tom was published on 1 July:

Thomas Menard, aged twenty-seven or thirty, five feet six and a half inches high, about ten stone weight, thin face and build, pale and dirty complexion, large staring grey eyes, dark brown hair, light reddish beard, whiskers, and moustache of about six week’s growth, thin legs, swaggering gait, doubles his feet over when walking, and splashes his legs almost up to the knees, knock-kneed, mole on cheek near nose, wore short light-colored drab monkey jacket with large white buttons, moleskin trousers, blucher boots and small brown billycock hat. Yorkey Tom is only a recent alias, and not one by which he is generally known.

Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 – 1918, 1935) 1 July 1865: 14.

Menard was able to make it all the way to Beechworth on foot, where he broke into a house in Yackandandah, allegedly accompanied by Henry Evans, and robbed it before continuing on to Barnawartha. It was believed that they were ultimately heading to Belvoir, but their journey would be cut short when the pair were stopped by Mounted-Constable Ryan of Wodonga police.

With descriptions of the offenders, and a tip-off of where they were heading, the constable was able to track them down. Evans was arrested, but Menard dumped his swag and bolted. Evans was taken back to the lock-up where he was interrogated. Constable Ryan then inspected the swags of the pair. In Evans’s swag were provisions and sundry items stolen from the house in Yackandandah. In Menard’s swag was a double-barrelled pistol, ammunition and more provisions.

Menard encountered two men on horseback at 6:00pm the following day; he was on foot. Unbeknownst to Menard, the two men were plainclothes police – Sergeant Bambrick, officer in charge at Wodonga, and Constable Ryan. The police had received a tip-off that a man matching Menard’s description was in the vicinity of Barnawartha. When they caught up with the fugitive, Bambrick asked him his name. “Barrett,” was the reply, delivered in a surly tone. Menard then drew a revolver and fired at Bambrick’s head, but missed. Bambrick tried to dismount, but his foot caught in the stirrup iron and he fell to the ground. Menard bolted, putting ten yards between himself and the police before Bambrick recovered. The shot had spooked Ryan’s horse, causing it to bolt into the bush. Bambrick pursued on foot, calling on the bushranger to surrender before firing at him. Menard returned fire and continued running. Five shots were exchanged then Bambrick almost caught up to his target. At that moment Menard turned and shouted, “You bastard, now I have you covered!” Unfortunately for him the gun misfired and Bambrick was able to crash tackle him as he sought cover behind a tree. Bambrick disarmed Menard and pistol-whipped him into submission. At this moment Constable Ryan had managed to catch up and handcuffed Menard. The American was indignant and hollered at his captors declaring, “I’m sorry I did not take your life. I would be quite willing to die alongside of you, for I don’t care for my life. If only I had two men with me as good as myself I would kick the flanges out of you —— Victorians, and I would think no more of sticking up a police-station than any other common place.”

Ironically, Menard was only arrested on the house-breaking charge and an additional charge of escaping custody as the officers were unaware that James Barrett was in fact the fugitive murderer Thomas Menard. He was committed for trial at the Beechworth Circuit Court. Henry Evans was found not guilty of house-breaking, doubt being cast upon his involvement as the only evidence appeared to be that he was in company with Barrett when Constable Ryan arrested him on the road.

Beechworth courthouse (Photography: Aidan Phelan)

However, with Barrett being positively identified as Yankee Tom, it meant a change of venue for the American’s trial. As the warrant for his arrest relating to Sweeney’s murder was from another region it was necessary to transport him there to stand trial. He was taken to Geelong Gaol on 9 August, 1865.

Menard’s committal hearing for the murder charge was held in Warrnambool Police Court. He pleaded ‘Guilty’, openly admitting that he had shot Sweeney. Only two witnesses gave evidence, John Hall and Dr. Harrington. In the press, the description of him was decidedly unflattering:

The prisoner was a rather insignificant looking fellow, appearing to be about thirty years of age. He was attired on a suit of gaol clothing, having a light drab overcoat, with large pearl buttons, over his shoulders. He is of a fair complexion, with sandy hair, beard, moustache, and whiskers to match. He has savage-looking wandering bluish-grey eyes, and though not stout in person, has a wiry appearance. When addressing the Court, he appeared to have a peculiar stutter, or hesitation in his speech.

“THE LATE MURDER IN THE WESTERN DISTRICT.” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 12 August 1865: 7.

The trial concluded on 10 October swiftly. The witnesses gave their accounts, Menard pleaded his guilt, and he was sentenced to death. He was then taken back to Geelong Gaol to await the inevitable. The warrant for his execution was signed by Governor Darling on 24 October. All that was left to do was prepare Menard for the next world.

As is often the case with condemned men, Menard dedicated much of his time leading up to his hanging with reading the Bible and praying. He still maintained something of a callous indifference to his crime, however.

The night before his execution, Menard decided to give a statement about his crime, penning a short letter of confession wherein he openly admitted to slaughtering James Sweeney after being bullied. A second confession was written and forwarded to authorities via his attendant, but the details were kept secret. It was speculated in the press later, that the second confession was that Menard had committed six other murders previous to Sweeney, while he was living as a bushranger. He was also alleged to have admitted to robbing a coach near Castlemaine.

On 28 October, 1865, at 10:00am, Menard was hanged at Geelong Gaol. The night before he had spent quietly reading the Bible and praying. He refused breakfast, but ate an orange.

When he went to the gallows he was clutching a paper in his right hand, upon which was supposedly written his final statement, but he did not have the nerve to read it as intended. Some accounts state that it was actually a prayer written on the paper by the gaol governor. Menard was attended spiritually by reverends Strickland and Crisp. Forty civilians were assembled on the ground floor as witnesses. As Menard stood on the drop, Strickland read the burial service then the hangman shook Menard’s hand.

The gallows at Geelong Gaol: These permanent gallows had only just been installed when Menard was executed upon them. He was one of only four people executed at the gaol in its history.

When Menard was finally dropped, the hanging was botched. The fall did not break the neck at all and instead of a quick, clean death, Menard dangled, convulsing. His pulse was observable by the attending doctors, Reid and Syder, for fifteen minutes before he was finally strangled to death. Charles Travers Mackin M.D., coroner for Geelong Gaol, witnessed and oversaw the inquest. Dr. Shaw, assistant to the coroner, suggested that Menard’s strong neck muscles had simply prevented the rope from doing its job.

Extract from the coroner’s inquest: Deposition of Charles Travers Mackin. [PROV]

A death mask was made from plaster by Metcalfe and Heard of McKillop Street, and a copy was forwarded to the Melbourne museum. Menard was buried within the grounds of the gaol with a single red rose and a written prayer from Brodie, the gaol governor, interred with his remains.

Thomas Menard’s death mask [Source]

Spotlight: Morgan the Bushranger (16/07/1864)

Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 – 1872), Saturday 16 July 1864, page 7


THIS miscreant, emboldened by the impunity with which he has for months past robbed travellers and levied blackmail from the squatters in the Albury district, occasionally diversifying his exploits by burning down a woolshed or destroying a settler’s account books, has added two murders to his crimes. On the 19th ult., he encountered Sergeant Carroll, of Wagga Wagga, about twenty miles from Albury, and several shots were exchanged without effect. During the afternoon of the same day he visited the Roundhill station, belonging to Messrs. Henty, and, after dismounting, put his horse into the stable. There were a number of men about the huts, whom the ruffian, with a revolver in each hand, ordered to go into the carpenter’s shop, and after asking Mr. Watson, the superintendent, if the men got enough rations, ordered him to go and bring four bottles of grog, which were drank; after carousing for hours, Morgan was about taking his departure, when Mr. Watson incautiously made some remark about stolen stirrup irons. Morgan immediately drew his revolver, and, aiming amongst the men, fired, wounding Mr. Watson in the hand; another shot hit Mr. John Heriot (son of Mr. Heriot, of the Caraboola station), and smashed his leg; he then fired twice at a man named Connor, who attempted to escape, and as the other men also ran away he fired at them several times. Mr. Heriot retreated about thirty yards, dragging his broken limb along the ground, and then fell, when Mr. McLean, one of the overseers, perceiving that he was badly hurt, lifted him up, carried him into the house, and laid him on one of the beds. Morgan came in soon afterwards, and on expressing himself sorry for having committed such an outrage, Mr. McLean asked if he had any objection to his going for a doctor; Morgan gave his permission, and Heriot requested McLean to take his horse and go quickly. The poor fellow at once started on his errand of mercy, and had got a few miles on the way, when Morgan overtook him, and said, “You —— wretch, you are going to lay an information,” and immediately fired, shooting McLean through the back, the ball entering the right side, below the tenth rib, passed through his stomach, and came out about three inches above the navel. McLean then fell from his horse and Morgan rode into the bush, leaving his victim lying on the ground writhing in agony. After a short time he returned, and putting McLean on his horse returned with him to the station, and calling one of the men assisted in removing him to his bed. Some person having asked how it occurred, Morgan said “one of his mates had shot him.” In reply to Mr. Heriot, McLean stated, “I was riding along the road, and, when just past the sheep station, Morgan said, ‘You —— wretch, you are going to lay an information,’ and fired at me.” Dr. Hill, a neighbouring squatter, visited the unfortunate man on Monday, and, perceiving that no medical aid could prevent the wound proving fatal, advised him to send for any of his friends that he wished to see; and on his expressing a desire to see his uncle, he was sent for, and arrived the next day. To him, also McLean reiterated the statement as to how he came by the wound, and, after great suffering, expired at midnight.

Morgan stayed at the station, drinking, until about two o’clock on Monday morning, and about five minutes after he left Sub-inspector McLerie, with a party of police, arrived, and on obtaining particulars of the affair, and the route taken by Morgan, they immediately followed in pursuit. “Pursued by the police” has long since become a stereotyped phrase in connexion with their ineffectual efforts to stop the career of our western banditti, and the chase after Morgan was another of those futile efforts so characteristic of the new force, for it has since turned out that he camped for the night about a mile and a half from the scene of his outrages; from thence it appears he crossed the country towards Tumbarumba, and on the morning of Friday, the 24th, Sergeant McGinity and Trooper Churchill overtook him about five miles from the Copabella station, but having no idea who he was, the sergeant rode up alongside of him. Morgan said, “You are one of those wretches looking for bushrangers,” and fired, shooting McGinity through the heart. His body was afterwards found close to the road, his hat having been placed in the centre of the path, apparently by Morgan, to attract attention. Churchill returned to Tumbarumba professedly ignorant of what had occurred. During the afternoon of the 24th, Morgan stuck up Mr. O’Hare, publican, of Tumbarumba, and took away his horse, but abandoned it after going about a quarter of a mile.

Morgan is reported to be a native of Appin, about thirty-three years of age, dark complexion, long hair and whiskers, and about 5ft. 9in., or 5ft. 10in., in height. He commenced his criminal career at an early age, and has served a term of penal servitude at Pentridge Stockade, in Victoria. On obtaining a ticket of leave there he returned to the Ovens district, and commenced his depredations under the cognomen of “Billy the Native,” or “Sydney Bill.” Sergeant McGinity was an old and respected member of the police force; he has left a widow and six children, bereft of their protector by the atrocity of this blood-thirsty ruffian, and it is to be hoped their case will receive the immediate attention of the Government.

Spotlight: Smith and Brady on Trial (22 October 1872)

Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1855 – 1918), Tuesday 22 October 1872, page 3


Monday, 21st October.

(Before Messrs. G. R. Berry, J. Turner, G. Graham, and Dr. Fox, J.P.’s.)

Robbery under Arms and Attempted Murder. — James Smith, Thomas Brady and William Happenstein, three men in the garb of bushmen, were charged with robbery under arms, and attempted murder at Wooragee. Mr Superintendent Barclay said that the defendants had been to a certain extent identified by some of the persons who were present when the robberies took place; as, however, they had only been arrested on Saturday afternoon, he would ask for a remand, in order that proper enquiries might be made. Remanded till Monday next.

Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), Wednesday 27 November 1872, page 3


(Abridged from the Melbourne Age.)

At the Beechworth Police Court, on 31st October, James Smith, William Heppannstein, and Thomas Brady were charged with the murder of John Watt, of Wooragee. Thirteen witnesses were examined. The following is the evidence chiefly bearing on the case:—

Catherine Mitchell, wife of Peter Dominick Mitchell, living at Wooragee, deposed: I was at home on the 15th instant; was alone; about half-past 7 in the evening, heard a knock at the door; opened it and saw two men, one of them came into the house, the other remained outside; the one that came inside said, “Where is your money?” I said “I have none;” he said nothing further, but took a gun down; I only saw one of the men; I should take the man standing next the constable (Smith) to be the man who was in my house and took the gun; I saw the two men taking my husband away from the cowyard; about five minutes afterwards the men came back with my husband, and came into the house, one of them — the tall one — came into the front room, the other stayed out in the back room; they asked my husband for ammunition; he gave them some powder and shot; the men remained for about a quarter of an hour whilst we were looking for caps; did not find any caps; they then left; heard the report of a gun about 9 o’clock, about an hour after the men had left; had heard the report of my husband’s gun many times; it had a peculiar sound; when I heard the gun fired I did not recognise the report as being that of my husband’s gun; the gun was not loaded when they took it away.

Peter Dominick Mitchell, a gardener, residing at Wooragee, deposed: On Tuesday, 15th instant, about half past 7 o’clock in the evening, I was standing near a cow that was in the bail, when I saw two men come out of the house towards me; one of the men, whom I believe to be the prisoner Smith, said, “Come this way,” three times; they told me to go back and deliver the powder and shot I had; I walked in front of them back to the house; I gave the powder and shot to the tallest of the two; I took particular notice of the face of the tallest man; both men had something dark on their faces, with holes cut for their eyes; to the best of my belief I can recognise Smith, from his eyes, his build, full chest, and his voice; could not recognise the second man, who had a kind of dragging walk; when they left the house the tallest man said that if they catched me down the road they would shoot me; about an hour or an hour and a half afterwards I heard the report of firearms.

William Jarvis, a bullock-driver, residing at Wooragee, deposed: On Tuesday, 15th instant, I was in Gale’s store between 7 and 8 o’clock in the evening; Mrs. Gale was also in the store; there was no one else there; whilst there my attention was called by a knock at the door; when I opened the door there were two men with firearms, one at each side of the door; one had a single-barrelled gun, the other appeared to have a double-barrelled pistol; the man with the gun said, “Come outside here, you wretch, or I’ll blow your brains out;” I walked out on the verandah alongside of him; he asked me whether there was anybody else in the house; I told him there was only a woman there; he called out two or three times; he said that if he had to call her out again he would blow her brains out; I cried out, “Mrs. Gale, you had better come outside;” she came out, and stood alongside of me on the verandah; the man with the gun said to Mrs. Gale, “There’s £50 in that house; I want it, and I’ll have it; go in and get it, or I’ll shoot you;” she said there was no money in the house; after the man with the gun and Mrs. Gale had gone into the house, he called out to me to come in, and I went and stood inside the door, the man with the pistol taking up his place on the step of the door; I heard the man who carried the gun ask Mrs. Gale to go and get the fifty pounds; Mrs. Gale said she would give him anything she had in the shop, but that she had no money for him; he told her that if he had to ask for money again he would blow her brains out; I said to Mrs. Gale, “If you have got any money you had better give it to him;” she said she would, and took him to a little box behind the counter, she laid the box on a little bench behind the counter, and he took the money himself; the other man was outside the house all the time; the man with the gun then went towards the door, when he turned round and said to Mrs. Gale not to allow me to leave there that night, or he would blow her brains out; he said there were two more men down the road waiting; he told me not to go away from Gale’s that night, or also I might be shot; I told him that I would not go away; the men then went away; it would be from twenty minutes to half an hour from the time they came to the store until they went away; during most of the time I had a good opportunity of seeing the man who carried the gun; he had a kind of handkerchief over his face; it was very thin and very dirty; the color of the skin could be seen through it; there were two holes for the eyes, and a hole on the side of the cheek, through which skin appeared quite plain; Smith is the man; I am positive of it; the next time I saw him after that evening (15th instant) was in the police yard, Beechworth, on the following Monday; he was with a number of others; I picked him from amongst them, and had no hesitation in doing so; after I had picked him out I heard his voice; it was the same voice that I heard at Mr. Gale’s house; indentified the prisoner Smith in the yard by his whiskers and hair; I could see the whiskers and hair through the handkerchief when he was at Gale’s.

Margaret Gale corroborated the evidence of the previous witness, and further deposed: I recognise that man there; that is him standing in the corner (Smith); I am as positive about him as I am about my husband; I pointed him out as soon as I saw him from the expression of his face, his make, and his hand; also recognised his voice.

Henry Gale, storekeeper, Wooragee, deposed: On the evening of the 15th instant I was coming out of my bakehouse, about 250 yards from my store; on my way home I met two men, one of whom had a gun, and the other what I took to be a pistol or revolver; the men called out to me “Stop, hold on,” and presented their pieces at me, one in front and the other at the side; the place where I was stopped was about sixty yards from my store; I was about to pass on, when the man with the pistol said, “Stand or I’ll shoot you;” I stood and said, “Are you really in earnest; I thought you were only joking;” the man with the pistol said, “If I put a ball in your head that will not be a joke;” he then said, “Turn out that money;” I told him that I had no money; he insisted that I had, and I turned out my pockets to show that I had not; the man with the gun then stepped forward and searched me; having satisfied himself, he fell back again; The man with the pistol then said, “It’s no use, he has the money,” and then addressing himself to me, said, “Go in the bush; ” I said, “What is the use of taking me in the bush, are you not satisfied?” he said that they had been told I had £50; the man with the pistol then said, “Go to your store, and don’t come out to-night; there are men up the road and down the road; ” I do not think I could recognise the men again; I had an idea that I had heard the voice before; I have an idea that Thomas Brady was the man who stood in front of me with the pistol; Brady I have seen several times, and he has been at my store, and I firmly believe that the voice I heard when I was stuck up was that of Brady; not only the voice, but I think there is a resemblance in the stature of the man.

John Alexander Kennedy, poundkeeper, Albury, deposed: Was at the Wooragee Hotel on Tuesday, 15th instant, about 9 o’clock in the evening; I was in the kitchen; there were present Hugh Pierce, Thomas Fraser, and the late John Watt; Mrs. Watt was going in and out of the kitchen; when Mrs. Watt was outside heard her call out, “John, there’s a knock at the door, will you open it?” Mr. Watt got up and went to the door; between half a minute and a minute afterwards I heard the report of firearms; directly after the report I felt as if I had been burned on the arm, and a numb sensation followed; when Mr. Watt came into the kitchen he said, “I am shot”; there was blood running down the front and left side of his coat; he sat down on a form, and immediately afterwards got up, and fell over on the floor; I picked him up, and put him in a sitting position against the wall.

Ellen Watt, wife of the late John Watt, of the Wooragee Hotel, deposed: On the evening of Tuesday, 15th instant, saw two men passing the gate, along the main road; had them in sight from one to two minutes; about one minute after they had passed, I called out to my husband there was someone knocking; heard him leave the kitchen and go along the passage to the front; about a minute afterwards I heard the report of a gun; when I got into the kitchen I found that my husband had been wounded; my husband told me that he was mortally wounded; Dr. Walsh attended him shortly after; he lived till the 25th instant; my husband described the men to me whom he saw at the door; he told me that he was shot by two men; one was a fair tall man with high cheek bones; he said that he had very little hair round the chin, and that it was of a lightish color; the other he said was shorter, and had a sandy complexion; my husband said that one of them said to him, “Come out, you wretch, or I’ll blow your brains out;” I believe that Smith and Brady would answer the description of the men as described by my husband; Smith was about the same size as the man who passed the gate first, and Brady appeared like the second one.

Mr. Superintendent Barclay put in the declaration made by Mr. Watt, before Mr. J. Turner, J.P., believing himself to be dying, as follows:—

“Between 7 and 8 o’clock two men came to my place. They knocked at the front door. I went outside and opened the door. The man with the gun said, ‘Stand out here or I will blow out your brains.’ There was another man with him. I then ran through the passage to the kitchen, and received a shot in the left side. I got to the kitchen, when I dropped down. I don’t think they followed me. The one that fired was a medium sized man, ill-looking, and thin. He had a cap on. I don’t think he had very much whiskers, which were dark. I believe the smallest man fired. He spoke with a gruff voice. He was a youngish man, I think.”

The Rev. W. C. Howard, incumbent of Christ Church, Beechworth, deposed: On the 23rd ultimo saw the deceased, Mr. Watt, at the Wooragee Hotel; remember the prisoners Smith, Heppannstein, and Brady being taken to Wooragee; was in the room with Mr. Watt when they were brought in separately to see Mr. Watt; he was at that time in an extremely feeble condition, hardly able to speak; Brady was first placed before him; Mr. Watt said he thought that was not the man who fired the gun; Brady was then taken out; Heppannstein was placed before Mr. Watt, who said, “That is not the man at all; he is much taller than the man who fired the gun;” Heppannstein was then taken out; Smith was then brought in; Mr. Watt was then becoming more feeble, and I could not hear exactly at the time, whilst Smith was in the room, the exact words which he used; afterwards Mr. Watt kept speaking partially to himself; I stooped my head down to the pillow, and asked him what he was saying, when he replied in a sufficiently strong voice for me then to hear him, “That is very much like the man who fired the shot; ” when Smith was in the room Mr. Watt made a movement with his hand, which I could not interpret.

George Graham, merchant, residing at Wooragee, deposed: On the 23rd instant I was at the Wooragee Hotel; was standing alongside Mr. Watt’s bed when the prisoners Heppannstein and Smith were brought into the room; as soon as Heppannstein was brought in Mr. Watt, who was in a very low state, shook his head and said, “No.” When Smith was brought in I lifted up a portion of the curtain; Mr. Watt partially turned his head, looked at Smith, and pointed with his hand and said, “That’s the man;” there was a brief pause, and I heard something like “me” after. There might have been another word between, but did not hear it.

The prisoners were then charged with highway robbery under arms. Evidence at considerable length was taken, and the usual caution having been administered by the Bench, the prisoners, as in the former case, said they had nothing to say. All three — James Smith, William Heppannstein, and Thomas Brady — were then committed to take their trial at the next circuit court to be held in Beechworth for wilful murder; they were also committed to take their trial at the same court for robbery under arms.

Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1855 – 1918), Friday 18 April 1873, page 3


The following is the list of cases remaining for trial :—

James Smith and Thomas Brady, murder, Wooragee.

James Smith and Thomas Brady, robbery under arms, Wooragee.

David Stewart, breaking into and stealing from a dwelling, Beechworth.

John Mulhall, unmentionable crime, Benalla. James Quin, on remand from last Circuit Court, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.


Thomas Gidley, sheepstealing, Beechworth.

Ah Hen, wounding cattle, Beechworth (2 cases).

Cornelius Foote, perjury, Wangaratta.

Kilmore Free Press (Kilmore, Vic. : 1870 – 1954), Thursday 24 April 1873, page 4


(From the Ovens and Murray Advertiser, April 19th.

A crime that for a time seemed to be enshrouded in mystery has been sheeted home to the criminals. After a fair and impartial trial, James Smith and Thomas Brady have been found guilty of the murder of Mr. Watt, at Wooragee, and have been sentenced to expiate their crime on the scaffold. So far as we can judge, after hearing the evidence brought forward, the verdict returned by the jury is a righteous one. The testimony of Happenstein, an associate of the prisoners, and who was to some extent connected with them in the crime, supplied the one link that was wanting in the chain. Without the evidence of the approver, the case against Smith and Brady left no moral doubt. His testimony, corroborated as it was by the statements of other witnesses, cleared away whatever legal doubt there was as to the guilt of the prisoners. Mrs. Gale’s identification of Smith as one of the men who stuck up and robbed the postoffice and store at Wooragee was complete, that of the witness Jarvis was not less so. Both witnesses swore positively to his having been the man, who, armed with a gun, compelled Mrs. Gale to deliver up the money she had in the store, and who made use of threats as to blowing her brains out and that of the witness Jarvis, in the most approved bushranging fashion. The evidence of Mr. Mitchell and his wife, from whose house the gun was taken, was scarcely less conclusive. Both were positive in their own minds that Smith was the man, but they had that shadow of a doubt which prevented them swearing directly to his identity. So far as the outrages at Mitchell’s and Gale’s were concerned, the testimony of the independent witnesses sufficiently established the complicity of Smith, whilst Mr. Gale’s testimony proved the identity of Brady as one of the robbers. Morally, there was not the slightest doubt that the same men who visited Mitchell’s and Gale’s were those who called at the Wooragee Hotel, and finished a night of crime by shooting Mr. Watt; legally there might have been some difficulty in connecting them with the firing of the shot, had not Happenstein come forward and told what he knew of the matter. As a rule, we have a strong dislike to the evidence of approvers, but in Happenstein’s case there are several circumstances that lift the testimony out of the usual category. In the first place it was known from the outset that his share in the crime was no more than that of an accessary before the fact, and it was doubtful whether, if he had not turned approver, the crown could proceed against him on the capital charge. None of the witnesses — neither the Mitchells, the Gales, nor Jarvis — deposed to having seen him in conpany with Smith and Brady; in fact, it was evident, as he himself stated, that he had acted as waiting man to the party, taking charge of the horses and keeping guard while the others went on their marauding expedition. Under these circumstances, and considering that no promise was held out to Happenstein to furnish any statement, we consider that his evidence — more especially as it was corroborated in almost every important particular — was entitled to the credence it received. Looking back, we cannot help agreeing with the Crown Prosecutor in his statement that the manner in which the case was got up reflects the highest credit on the police; there is no doubt that both the officers and men engaged showed great sagacity and skill by the way in which they added link to link until they made the chain of evidence complete. It must be remembered that the crime which formed the subject of the trial at the Circuit Court yesterday was of no ordinary nature. Two men visit a lonely wayside public house, after dark knock at the door, and when they are answered they order the landlord to stand outside threatening in case of refusal to blow out his brains. He turns round to regain the shelter he has quitted, is fired at and mortally wounded; the murderers speed away in the darkness, and excepting a passing glance at their forms caught by the murdered man’s wife, they are not seen by anyone in the house. Unless for the traces the murderers left by their visit to Gale’s, in all human probability the Wooragee murder would have been added to the list of undiscovered crimes, of which there have been not a few in Victoria. Fortunately for the peace of mind and security of lonely dwellers in the bush, and perhaps also for those who may be inclined to enter on a criminal career, justice has been vindicated by the charge having been brought home to the guilty parties. Some complaints were made when those men were arrested as to the delay that must take place before they could be placed on their trial. But all things considered, we are of opinion that it is as well that the delay did take place. The excitement that was occasioned in the district by the shooting of an inoffensive and much respected resident in his own house, has had time to die out during the six months, that have elapsed since the murder took place. Whatever the character of those accused of the crime, they were entitled to a fair and impartial trial, and they have received it. Mr. C. A. Smyth, in conducting the case for the Crown, strained no point to secure a conviction, but, as is his wont, while doing justice to the side on which he was engaged, he treated the accused with every fairness. It is necessary that the law should be vindicated; at the same time it is lamentable to see two healthy strong young men sentenced to have their career cut short by an ignominious death. A little sin, says a high authority, is like the letting in of water. Smith commenced criminal career with the too common and much too-lightly esteemed offence of cattle stealing, and ended it as a murderer’s doom. His fate and that of his fellow convict ought to be a warning to others lest they trangress against the law. Once a criminal career is commenced it is hard to tell where it will end. In a country like this, where honest labour is well rewarded, crimes of every description are as unprofitable as they are wicked.