Spotlight: Pat Connell Enquiry

Burrangong Argus (NSW : 1865 – 1913), Saturday 28 July 1866, page 3


The following is the evidence which was taken at the magisterial enquiry touching the death of Connell, at the Braidwood police-office by J. H. Griffin, Esq., on Wednesday afternoon.

Sergeant Creagh on oath states :— In consequence of instructions I received I started on Tuesday morning about 5 a.m. from Ballalaba after the robbers at Mudmelong. We made along the track leading from Mr. Connell’s public-house to Araluen about fifteen miles; about 10 o’clock we came to a mountain when the black tracker was placed at a pass which the robbers were likely to take, and the remainder of the party kept a little way off in the bush; about twenty minutes after the black tracker came and told us that two of the party we were in quest of had passed with a mob of horses; I at once got the men in readiness to start on the track; at eleven o’clock started and followed the tracks till 3 o’clock in the afternoon, proceeding in a walk and part of the time in a hard gallop; at this time came across signs of several horses having been feeding. Dismounted and followed these tracks cautiously along on foot; in about ten minutes the black tracker in advance put up his hands to ensure silence and pointed down to a thick scrub, in the midst of which we saw a camp and a man moving about. Left the horses in charge of the tracker and stole cautiously down to the camp when we saw three other men; our party consisted of myself, Senior-constable Byrne, and constables Kelly and Gracy; stole to within 60 yards of the camp and told the men to fire. We immediately all fired, and directly afterwards rushed on to the camp, each man drawing his revolver. Saw four men. When we rushed the camp three of them ran away making the direction of the creek which was very scrubby on the other side; Pat Connell getting a horse and making away, Constable Kelly and Gracy following him, while I and Byrne followed the three others on foot. As soon as they got into the scrub on the other side, the bushrangers commenced firing, one of them having first taken a deliberate aim with a revolving rifle at Byrne. The firing then ceased for some time till we called out to them then they commenced firing again, to which we replied, when they again ran away. After the ceasing of the fire for some time two other shots were fired by the retreating parties, and after waiting for some time we went down to the creek after Pat Connell’s body which was lying near the creek. As soon as we got his body up to the camp, we took possession of the following articles which the bushrangers had left; four saddles and bridles, three revolvers, one calico tent, one cloak, and a pair of saddle bags, besides a quantity of provisions, clothing, blacksmith’s tools, one bottle of old tom, and also some mail bags, the camp had not long been made. They were getting ready for supper when we came up to them; we sewed the body up in some blankets, and while we were doing this, I saw two of the bushrangers returning and we fired upon them, then they went back to the scrub, and as it was getting dark, we could see no more of them. The whole affair lasted about two hours. We then got two of their horses and brought the body to the police station at Ballalaba which we reached at about 12 o’clock at night. When we got to the police station found a silver watch (Flaville Brothers), two gold rings, (one horse shoe pattern and the other a Chinese ring), four one pound notes, and £1 11s., in silver in a leather clasp purse, and a meerschaum pipe. I brought the body this morning to Braidwood.

Thomas Kelly, a mounted constable stationed at Ballalaba, on oath, gave the same narrative as Sergeant Creagh of the events which took place up to meeting the bushrangers and starting in pursuit of them, when they tracked horses for about fifteen miles and then dismounted to go up a ridge. When they got on the top of the ridge deponent saw the bushrangers’ camp, which they stole up to within about fifty or sixty yards, Pat Connell jumped on his horse before the police fired. On the first exchange of shots the police separated, Sergeant Creagh and Senior-Constable Byrnes following the three men on foot, deponent and Constable Gracy rushed after the mounted man. He drew his revolver at about sixty yards distance, when Connell looked back, and said, ” Stand back you ———;” fired upon him, upon which he immediately threw up his hands, groaned, and fell backwards off his horse on his head. On going up to him he immediately recognised him as Pat Connell; he appeared to be in great agony and to live for some minutes after; seeing deceased was fatally wounded, went on to the remainder of the police to fire upon the other bushrangers, who were in a thick scrub; the firing continued for about an hour and a half; when about dusk the whole party went to the body and removed it with the things left by the bushrangers to Ballalaba as stated by Sergeant Creagh.

George John Pattison, a duly qualified medical practitioner, on oath, saith as follows : — I have identified the body lying in the lock-up as that of Pat Connell, and have held a post mortem examination. Head: Incised wound about half an inch in length over right angle of frontal bone ; face besmeared with blood and nasal cartilage bent slightly to left side; small part of tongue protruding between lips. Thorax: Over upper and anterior surface of thorax on right side found ecchymosed patch. On pressing with the fingers over 2nd rib of this side could feel a hard and moveable substance; made an incision through the skin and pectoral muscles, and found a revolver bullet in contact with the second rib; on removal of sternum and anterior parts of ribs found a large quantity of blood, partly coagulated in right plural cavity; wound in middle lobe of lung; right pulmonary vein and artery wounded and lower lateral surface of body of 6th dorsal vertebra grooved, communicating externally with a circular wound over spinous process of 6th dorsal vertebra. I am of opinion death was caused by a gunshot wound; the bullet entering by the wound in the back, passing through part of the right lung, wounding the bloodvessels already described perforating the cartilage of the 2nd rib on the right side close to the sternum, and lodging in tissues immediately above that rib. — B. Dispatch.

Spotlight: Finding Byrne’s Body.


This engraving of a black tracker finding the dead body of Joe Byrne is a rather dramatised image that ironically downplays the drama of the scene. Joe’s body was recovered from the Glenrowan Inn after it had been set on fire. Father Gibney was the first to discover Joe’s body and darted from room to room looking or survivors. The bushranger’s body was dragged out of the raging inferno by police and propped up against a fence while the inn was reduced to smoking rubble. Hardly the sort of situation that would allow a person to calmly crouch next to the corpse (which incidentally was still clad in armour at the time). Yet, the body is unquestionably Joe Byrne’s corpse for one very good reason – this engraving is from a sketch of the corpse as it lay in a lock-up cell.

The artist behind this image is the renowned Julian Ashton after whom the Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney is named (he established this art school in 1890). At the time Ashton was new to Australia, having arrived in Melbourne in 1878, and was working as an illustrator for the Illustrated Australian News and as there was no bigger story at the time than the Kelly gang’s defeat at Glenrowan he was sent to create imagery of these dramatic events. Ashton was ushered into a lock-up cell in Benalla at night and by candlelight was tasked with sketching the decaying body of Joe Byrne onto a block of wood to be converted into a woodcut engraving. It is for this reason that the image is reversed. The correct image should be thus:


Furthermore, Ashton was still at the lock-up the next morning when the body was strung up for photographers while a morbidly curious crowd gathered around. Ashton is even captured in one of the photographs turning his back on the horrid spectacle captured by his friend John William Lindt. He considered it “the most miserable assignment I have ever had”. David Syme, proprietor of the Illustrated Australian News did not look on the situation with the same grimness as the Glenrowan issues signalled the first time the paper had made a profit.

Julian Ashton stands at the left of the image with his sketchbook under his arm.

Ashton later produced the striking portrait of Ned in the dock of the Beechworth courthouse during his committal hearing that was splashed on the cover of the Illustrated Australian News. A year later Ashton began working for the Australasian Sketcher and moved to Sydney in 1883 and would spend years travelling Australia before taking up as an art teacher. Julian Ashton died in 1942 leaving a marvellous legacy for Australian arts and culture and some striking imagery to illustrate the histories of the bushrangers.

Selected Sources:

FINDING BYRNE’S BODY. – A STUDY. [picture] Melbourne : David Syme and Co. 1880

Joe Byrne’s body outside Benalla Police Station [picture] / J. W. Lindt.

“KELLY GANG.” The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) 25 January 1934: 13.

“CAPTURE OF THE KELLYS” The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate (NSW : 1894 – 1954) 17 February 1934: 6.