Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Thursday 28 November 1867, page 6




I was very glad the capture of the Clarkes was all over. Here were two men who could not be arrested for months, although the district was fairly swarming with police and detectives, one party running away from the other, and both sometimes running away from the bushrangers. If it had not been for myself and another in running the young chaps in Jingera to inform on them, I believe there would have been a worse gang out this day than any that we have yet seen, and that more blood would have been shed than could be dreamt of. It seemed to me as if the police authorities wanted them out, to keep up excitement. Clarke at first did not care for shooting the police, but one crime brings on another, and he had got to that pitch that he would have shot any one who came in his road. I am confident he would have had some more mates, and it would have taken years to put them down, unless the “system” had been departed from by the formation of special bush parties. Bushrangers must be fought according to their own tactics, and a bush party must expect to undergo many privations and many hardships before they can expect to succeed. If the police had continued to work the same system as before Carroll’s party, Wright’s, and other scouting parties were formed, the Clarkes would never have been taken. I consider that system bad, so far as the suppression of bushranging is concerned. I consider it a robbery to the country as the force stands now, and worse than if fifty bushrangers were out, because they rob for a living and only rob a few individuals in one locality, whereas the police system robs the state wholesale. It takes one half of the revenue to keep up a body of men that are quite out of their place. The force is established on the same footing as the Irish constabulary. The chief part of the force consists of men from the Irish or London constabulary. Most of them taken on are men just landed in the colony, mainly from the Irish police, never having touched a horse perhaps, let alone know how to manage one; and they have no idea of the bush, nor the ways of the people in this country. But they are taken on and sent to the police depot, Sydney, where they are kept three or four months at great expense to the country in teaching them to ride. I only speak about the mounted men, and personally I say nothing against any of them, horse or foot; I know many of them to be excellent men, as men in any way you take them, but they are placed in false positions when sent after bushrangers in a bush country of which they have no knowledge. As strangers, and acquainted with police duty, they do very well in towns and villages; in fact they are better for this kind of duty than the natives of the colony by far. But when it comes to country work, catching bushrangers in the mountains, it is a different thing. There may be found an exception now and then.

Well, to return to the drill. They are learnt to ride in a sort of a way, in about three months, under pay all the while; and they are learnt the use of the sword, quite a useless article, after the fashion of dragoons. The sword is quite useless at the present time for any practical police work. It serves merely to occupy the time of the men in cleaning and keeping them from idleness. Then they are learnt the rifle drill the only useful part in it, but though they are showed how to use it they are never practised in firing enough to hit the target at 200 yards. In fact there is very few of them that ever fired a shot till they were sent up in the bush to shoot robbers, and then when they come on him they blaze away anyhow, sometimes to the sky, thinking the noise will frighten if not kill. This has been well stated in those words of poetry on the late Sir Frederick Pottinger and his eight men when firing at Frank Gardiner in close quarters. This is such a bit of truthful verse, that I will repeat it.

“His warriors then, like valiant men,

With carbines blazed away,

While the whistling lead on its mission sped

But whither none could say.

For the snow white steed at gentle speed

Bore Gardiner from their view;

While Sir Frederick Pot, and all his lot,

Tried to pierce the robber through!”

Now, I don’t suppose those men ever fired a shot before, and so it is now with most of the men. They may be better now some of them by this time, but two, three, or four year ago, they were awful. Well, the first four months they are paid for nothing. But it is not only these men who have just joined. There’s the senior-sergeant with his large cheque to drill them, and he has some one to attend and wait upon him, as he attends on those above him and so on, to say nothing about the expenses for horse-flesh, fodder, saddles, shoeing, &c., to keep it up. It surprises me that the depot has not been looked to, for there are police employed as grooms to senior-sergeants. I was brought up in the bush and can ride almost any horse that could be found, but when I joined I was kept six weeks in Sydney learning to ride on a military saddle and use a rifle, but I never fired a shot out of it till I was sent to Jingera after Clarke when he broke out of gaol; but I knew how to use it, having served some time after Ben Hall’s gang as a special constable at Goulburn. It was after this they sent me to Sydney to be taken on the force. I had no idea they were going to teach me to ride but they did, and kept me there bumping about with long stirrups and fooleries till I could hardly ride at all. My theory for bush work is this :— There is not a district in any part of the colony but there are scores of young men, the sons of respectable storekeepers, graziers, and other settlers. They are men of intelligence, natives of the colony, whose time is occupied in stock riding, or other pursuits, but who are merely so occupied for want of something else to do. As an illustration, suppose one of those men was appointed the chief trooper in the district where he had been bred and born, with power to select his own half-dozen men. Can anyone suppose that a bushranger would exist in that district for a month?

Now I was drilled and equipped in the regular way and was sent out to catch Clarke. I never had any one with me at first, though I bailed him up behind a tree on one occasion, but I had to give him up on account of my revolver at first missing. I had a tracker with me but he would not come near after the first shot. He left me to the mercy of the two of them; but though I did not take them I took all sorts of care they did not take me. When my revolvers missed I was close to Clarke, and the moment my last cap missed fire he rushed at me like a tiger and called on me to surrender. I could do nothing. I dared not attempt to take him as he had a revolver in each hand and I saw the caps on the nipples plain enough. When he found I would not stand for him he made a rush to get his horse, but I knew he would have me then, so I galloped between him and ran the horses away, and while my eye was off him for a minute he disappeared — whither I could not tell; but I will own the truth — I got very frightened then, as I expected to be knocked off from behind every tree. I had only one fresh cap on, so I pushed home with his horses. If I had had a mate with me that day there would have been an end of the Clarkes. I could always find them if allowed my own way, but my superiors would have their way, and it was only once in the first twelve months we came on them in the official way, and then we made a mess of it.

So you can see from the beginning of this tale, after I had estimated the capacities of my immediate superiors, I tried hard to deviate from the system and have my own way with one mate; but they would never let me. Sometimes I got out with the tracker but at first he was useless when it came to close quarters.

Well, it kept getting worse and worse up there. More men kept coming out and getting in one another’s way. Some smart fine-looking men, new arrivals in the colony came up in charge of a party, but they knew not what to do, where to go, or how to act. It was all chance work. Some-times they would run up against the boys, but they could always get away. One, now and then, would be taken, more by chance than anything else. There was no generalship except what was bad. Now, if two men were together who knew how to work, and were to go out their own way, two on one side of Jingera, and two on the other, taking it quiet, they would all have been taken at the commencement ; but no, that would not do. Many and many a time I could have played the boys into my hands, and with only one mate could have taken the lot of them, but that did not suit some. The fact is, I showed my cards before I was ready to play them, and so spoilt a chance for myself, for I never dreamt but it was intended to catch the bushrangers with as little delay as possible.

But I have run away from the point of expense I was bearing on. Well, too many men is one fault in the police, not only for expense, but they baffle one another when in the bush. If some smart young natives were taken in the force and found with good horses — men who could ride well — good bushmen, and men who could be depended on, as there are hundreds in every district who can be — then bushranging would cease. There is a fine lot of natives who are brought up respectably, and would go through fire and water to achieve anything they took in hand; for it must show itself to the reason of every man that a native — I don’t mean aboriginals — or a man who has been some time in the country, and had some experience in bush matters, will know how to go to work better than men just arrived in the country. The knowing of roads, the nature of the country, the haunts, and the people is very necessary. A clever bushman never wants you to show him the road. If he wants to make to a particular house suspected, he goes to it at once according to his own bush tactics. If a stranger he would beat about the bush, or he would call at some public-house or station and learn in the course of conversation that so-and-so’s hut is over at the Black Range, or some other place, on a certain creek or river. He will then ride away in some other direction and slew round and come out at this suspected place before any one knows anything about it and wait the time to strike a blow, and then strike the nail fair on the head. Then its done without any fuss or trouble. On the other hand put some of them policemen from Sydney on this duty and it takes them some time to find out who is the likeliest to harbour robbers or the person wanted. A bushman would tell in one night in a country house which way the wind blew. But your Sydney man newly arrived from Dublin or London must enquire the road, and if he finds it out he goes about his work in such a way that the people soon discover something’s up, and their bushranging friends soon hear that the police are coming, long before the police have found out which way to go. Then some of the friends keep an eye on the police to see when they start. All at once the imported policemen gets some one to show them the road — but while they are on the road to the house we will go inside and see what is doing. There is Tom Clarke — on supposition — courting the daughter and cutting a dash. The boy of the house, or some one, is up on the nearest ridge looking out. The signal is passed and some one runs inside saying, “Tommy, here’s the traps!” “All right,” says Tommy. “You watch them away, I’ll be at the little camp waiting for you.” So, just before the “traps” come in sight Tom comes out and mounts his nag and rides away. Up comes the imported police — a fine body of smart-made men — they are now full of importance, armed to the teeth, they search the house, turn it upside down — no one there — they grind their teeth, and then get some dinner and return to their station, watched all the while. And perhaps a startling telegraph is sent to Sydney full of nonsense. The “traps” then swear vengeance on Peter or Jack for running them on the wrong scent, by false information. By-and-bye Tommy hears, all from the “traps” swearing vengeance on the person by name — that Peter sent the traps out. Peter has to fly for his life, or Tommy will give him a touch up, and Tommy has friends who will give him a touch up too. Peter, or Jack, or Sam, after being thus suspected and, in danger say I’d like to crack a wood on Tommy and get him “nabbed” but them — new-chum traps let out everything you say. It gets to Braidwood and then over the country. I’ll never tell them anything again.”

But the bushman, if let alone, goes quietly out of the house, and soon sees the little game if any is going on, and comes down on them “on the quiet,” and so ends the affair; while on the other hand the play only begins, and begins with Tommy having a full knowledge of the sort of men pursuing him, and becomes gradually familiar with the stupid way in which they are commanded. A man must be stupid who persists in any line of tactics which invariably fail. Fifty men only, of the right sort, would stop all bushranging in this country, and save the expense of the hundreds of men in the force, and horses, who are now doing nothing. Some of them are right enough for large towns and for serving summonses, and general duty, on certain beats.

There is Thunderbolt in the northern districts, and he will reign until special scouring parties are formed, or until some good luck befalls the regular police. I have applied to go after him but was refused, because my system was not approved of; but the pursuit of Thunderbolt, as I have been after him once, may be the subject of future papers.

In the foregoing papers many things have been imperfectly sketched, and some mistakes have crept in, which I could have corrected if I had been able to remain in Sydney and revise; but my general object will be attained if what is written be the means of drawing the attention of those now in power to the present system of police which appears to my mind very unsuited for the bush work of Australia.

As this concludes nearly all I intended to say respecting the Southern district, the next letter or two will have reference to a little duty after Thunderbolt in the Northern districts.



Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Tuesday 26 November 1867, page 3




Mention was made of the arrival, as secret police, of Meare’s party, Turner’s party, and the two brothers, “the natives,” as I called them. The natives did not receive much information at our station, except from myself, and I told them all I dared without compromising my authors.

Turner’s party stopped at our station one night to spell, and as I knew them to be respectable men I asked them to sit down and have something to eat. It was all right till they left and then I got my knuckles rapped for asking them. “Who were they? They didn’t want them there.” I saw the old jealousy and swore to myself if my best friend called I would rather give him a shilling to go to the store and get some dry biscuits for his dinner. We had a mess, and all the police that came had to pay if they took better. Some of the parties who came frequently got the leavings. Wright’s party often called, but they generally missed the fat. In fact, it was most disheartening for me to be on the station, and I prayed for the time to come when I could get away. The Turners tried to get a man with them from our station, but it was no go. Then the two natives tried to get me, and that was no go.


One day the superintendent, Mr Orridge, was out, when word came that three of the boys, the two Clarkes and a third man, were seen near old Mrs. Clarke’s place. Mr. Orridge is a fair man generally, and acts promptly when he believes the information to be genuine; but he only believed this at times. Away we went in two parties on each side of the river.

Our party under Mr. Orridge was to come on them, while Ford went with Byrnes to watch the house at night. We got on their tracks in one place, but soon lost them, so we beat about till dark when we came down near Clarke’s house, and watched a short time. The superintendent asked me if I were to ride past the house, as if coming from some other direction, and take a good survey, whether they would be suspicious? I told him they would, most certainly, so we went home. As night came on, the other party got near the house when up came the boys, within thirty yards of them, so the party all fired at them from their ambush; but the boys turned their horses round and rode away before faces. That night old Mrs. Clarke came to the barracks and reported to me that her sons Thomas and John were at her house when the police came on them, but what police she did not know. This was a bit of policy on her part to save herself.


Soon after this a man was found dead near Manar, supposed to be Scott. He was found near a tree with his skull fractured. On the body was found some revolving rifle caps and this led people to believe he was a policeman or a bushranger, or someone that used such rifles. As Scott had not been seen since they stuck up Boro, on their way back from Goulburn, and his body being found on a track which the boys were known to have come by, it looked suspicious. It was afterwards proved that the body was that of Bill Scott, by the clothes he had on. It is supposed he wanted to leave the Clarkes, and they murdered him so that he should reveal nothing, or “sell them.”


As I could do no good myself I used to tell my natives — “the brothers” — all I could. They had been out in the Araluen mountains and found some of the bushrangers’ camps, and finally discovered their last camp, and followed their tracks over to the head of the gully. Then the brothers came back to our station to get some rations and letters, and to hear the news, for they had been out a fortnight scouring the mountains on foot. They told me all they had seen, and that the boys had shifted up the gully way. I knew this to be true, for my oldest and best bush friend — from the gully came to me the day before, and begged of me to come up that way and it would be right. This was the bush friend who put us on them when I was with — at Jingera, and made a mess of it. So he made it right with the boys again, and they had come back to him. He was a relative. He came to me according to his promise some time previous, when all was right. But I had to tell him it was no use depending on me, for it was all a chance, whether I could prevail on our party at Ballalaba to go out at all, or if they did, they would merely go up and back again, as a matter of form. I told him we should make a mess of it from the way our party was constituted, and that he would possibly be betrayed by their blundering, and murdered. He asked me to leave Ballalaba and join Wright’s party, and then he would put me on them. I told him I could not possibly get shifted. If the superintendent had been out there at the time I would then have told him all about it, and he would have acted, perhaps If the superintendent was out, we had to work out any information we received; but when he was away, and he only seldom came to our station, sergeant — would only work to suit himself. If I had left my station and gone up to the other party, I should have been dismissed for leaving my post. So I told my friend how matters stood, and that if I was not up on a certain day to give all the information he could to Egan, who was my old mate at Jingera and Foxlow, and was now in Wright’s party. He promised he would see Egan, but before leaving me begged and prayed of me to come out at the sacrifice almost of my situation. This chap did not like sergeant B. and would give him no information whatever, but I happened to make friends with him, and he came to me as he knew the capture of the Clarkes would give us both a good start. We had talked it over between ourselves often. He was afraid of betrayal by trusting others, for they were very incautious.

Well, I told B. that I wanted to go up the gully to work a little game. He wanted to know my author, but I refused to betray him, because I knew if I mentioned his name in the barracks, the Clarkes would have it soon afterwards, and my friend would share the fate of the big Taylor. I told him it was a man I could depend upon, and that I knew it was right. Although I spoke the truth I well knew it was the very thing to stop me from getting there – and so it did. B. said the horses were too tired to go out, and he would spell them till he got some good information. I could see it was decided against me, and I walked out of the barracks sick at heart. After all my labours – after waiting patiently for that one attack, for that best of all chances when it was known they were in —’s hut, sleeping out at nights, and to be out of it when the information came, was to me a most grievous disappointment. The only comfort I had was to learn that my friend had gone to Egan, and thus Wright’s party acted with promptitude while ours treated the matter with indifference. I told my native friends to make up the gully towards —’s and they would have a chance. They promised to start next day, but it came on to rain in torrents and they did not go, so they missed a chance. The dirtier the weather the better in these cases.


Our party were all at work next morning, not in the gully or anywhere else after bushrangers, but at home. I and another were paving the doorway with brick-bats, to be able to get in the mess-room, which was almost up to our knees in mud, when in came Walsh, one of Wright’s men, full tilt with news. Word was given to saddle up, to arm ourselves, and away we went full tear. We heard something about the tracker being wounded, and something about a hut and I could pretty well guess where it was. It was no time to ask questions the way we were racing. There were twenty-four miles before us, and the pace we were going convinced me the horses would not stand it, so I slackened and followed their trail, being jockey enough to know how to ride my horse. I soon pulled them up with their horses fairly bursted, and some of them were splendid horses or they would not have stood what they did. I was then going ahead but was called back to lead them the road, for B. had galloped along till he came to the scrubby ranges. I had then no occasion to push ahead to keep pace with them for I could not get them out of a walk, except Ford, who was mad to get up to the place. He told me Wright’s party had the two Clarkes bailed up and would try to keep them in the hut till we arrived. B. said it was no use pushing on too much as they would sure to be away before we got there, and I believe someone would have been very glad if they had got away. Walsh had gone on his own way. As soon as I found out how things were I pushed on as fast as I judged my horse could keep it up. Our men began to fall behind fast. Eleven of us started from the station. When we were within four miles of the hut, I and one of the trackers took our own road and lost sight of our chaps; so we pulled in and turned after them, and it is a lucky thing we did, as they were making right away from the place. We kept together then, that is all who could keep up, for it was a race for life, seeing that the least delay might be fatal to Wright’s party.

We came straight as a line to Guinea’s hut. We were in sight of the other hut, but could not see a soul moving about. We asked the Guineas if the Clarkes were in the hut and they told us they were. So we galloped across the flat and into the river head first. We all had to swim it. There was no time to look for crossing places. As we were galloping towards the hut, Wright’s party saw us and waved their hats madly. We placed our horses in the stock-yard and stripped off our boots which were full of water. I and Brown went close up to the hut to guard it, while Byrnes and Wright were forming some plan of storming it. I saw Tom Clarke at the window twice, looking at me, but as he did not fire, I did not, and Byrnes had told us not to begin firing until we had challenged them to surrender; and we were not to call upon them till he had spoken to Wright, and to look out for the other chaps that were coming and let them know, for when we were within two miles of the place there were only five of us left out of the eleven. Even Walsh, who had got a fresh horse on the road – we five were up a long time before him. It took us one hour and fifty minutes to get our horses, arm ourselves and ride these twenty-four miles over rough country, swim two rivers, taking the bush all the way, and coming out fair on the hut.

I passed the word behind as soon as saw the others coming up. I was waiting for our chaps to get in position before calling upon the Clarkes to surrender. As soon as Walsh got up, and planted behind the fence, he called out to them to surrender, when Tommy Clarke walked out of the hut followed by his brother John, both with their arms out, except the wounded arm of Johnny. I passed the word and I and Brown walked down towards the boy so that they should not make a bolt for it but they fairly gave in.


I could not bring myself to shake hands with Tom Clarke then, though all the rest of the troopers did. Tommy asked some of the chaps if I was there, and they pointed me out. He eyed me for a minute and said, “I did not think we should have met this way. I always fought you fair, so don’t keep anything in.” I replied it was better that way than if he had been shot. He said, “You were just in time or I should have been off and then there would have been a different tale to tell.” He owned to shooting the tracker, and when asked by Byrnes who carried Carroll’s revolving rifle, he replied that he did, and he said he took the other rifle from the police at Araluen, and the revolvers he took from a policeman at Collector. He said Bill Scott had left him and was gone on his own hook. Tommy seemed ready to answer any question put to him, but you couldn’t believe a word he said, for he tried to take all on himself to screen his brother.

We had started and got about a mile back on the road when we met Sub-inspector Stevenson’s party coming up from Major’s Creek, so they would have stood a poor chance fighting the lot of us in a place like that. We all came on together to the Crowarry police-station, when I and another pushed on to meet Mr. Orridge and the doctor. When seven miles off Ballalaba we met them, and turned back; went to Mick Connell’s public house, and waited there till the escort came up. What with the different parties of police all meeting we formed a fine squadron. We got a room ready at Mick’s to guard the prisoners in during the night, for it was too late and dark for us to reach our own station.


As soon as we got them in the room Dr. Patterson examined John Clarke, and found he had been wounded on the top of the arm near the shoulder, the ball passing just above the bone. Tom Clarke was wounded in the top part of the thigh with a slug, that had to be left in. John Clarke had no other wounds except the one recently done, although it was confidently reported that he had been hit several times before. Tom Clarke was riddled through the legs. I asked him where he got all the shot marks, but he refused, saying “It’s no odds.” I asked him if I ever touched him. He looked very hard at me, and said, “No”, though I believe I did. I asked him about the shot I fired at him when John Connell was with him, when I fired at him full gallop with the rifle? He said, the bullet just grazed the top of his head, and that he felt the heat of it. I asked him a great many questions; some he would answer with truth, and others he would turn off. Anything that would implicate any of his harbourers he would deny with a look you would believe to be sincere. I don’t think there was a better dissembler in the world than Tom Clarke. He would look at you as innocent as a child, and tell you all the lies imaginable. John Clarke would say very little, and put on the face of innocence. Tommy wouldn’t allow him to say much.

As soon as morning came, the sub-inspector took charge of the prisoners, the superintendent having gone to Braidwood overnight, to report the matter by telegram to Sydney. I and Ford, and some others, went back to Crowarry, there to stop till Wright’s party returned from Braidwood. As we all got ready to start, the sight was sickening to see two brothers in such a position. At first I could not shake off the revenge I felt for them, but it becomes every man to forgive as he hopes to be forgiven himself, and as we were going to part, I walked up and bid them good-bye. Tommy gave me a curious look. I don’t think I ever felt so sick of anything in my life as I did then, to see two fine-looking young men, with all hope of life gone, and all through their being led astray; for no one could believe for a moment that they would ever have led the life they did if they had not been schooled up to it. I believe old Mick Connell and his brothers ran them on a good deal.

[To be continued.]


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.


[Links to other chapters here]


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]


Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Friday 1 November 1867, page 6





After leaving Lucy Hurley at Mick Connell’s I went home to the barracks, thinking how I should nail the lot of them the next night, as Lucy had not the least suspicion that I was aware what was up. Who should I find at the station but senior-constable X. and constable W. with the news of the Gulf affair. I knew then that as the boys had been there they would be back the next night. I told X. this, but he shook his head and handed me a letter from the superintendent to the effect that I was to hold myself in readiness to start at a minute’s notice with X. who would receive further instructions before morning. This was a clincher. I could not disobey orders, but did not like giving up all my dreams of wealth. Here were all my castles knocked over as soon as I had built them. When you hear that a store has been robbed it is mere folly for a swarm of police to go to that store next day, in the hope of capturing the robbers; but this is frequently done. Well, senior-sergeant C. brought out these instructions and told us to push for our lives as soon as reinforcements arrived. They were not long in coming.

Sergeant H. had sent word that if a party of police went post haste to the Uram-beyan mountains, the boys could be all shot coming up the track from the Gulf affair. Well, X. was senior, so I asked him if he would push up the nearest road — that was, up the gully, and past the Jinden station, but old X. told me to leave it all to him, not to bother about grub, and to carry nothing on the saddle. So out we went to Wild Cattle Flat, had dinner, and then went to within four miles of Animbo, a cattle station, and camped by a log. We had nothing with us. We had made up a pretty good fire as it was raining heavily. We had a quart pot and sufficient tea and sugar to make a quart, and a bit of dry damper.


We had all been asleep when we were started up and thought we were attacked. The alarm was caused by the gong-gongs hitting old X.’s cape with a loud crack. These gong-gongs are a large sort of moth, almost the size a small bat, and on a dark, wet night swarm like bees. The fire dazzles while it fascinates them. They will come as far as they can see the fire and fly straight into it. If they happen to hit the ground before they get to the fire, they will crawl into it.

As soon as daylight came we were on the road again till we came to the station where we had breakfast on grub as black as your well-coloured pipe — unfit for a dog to eat. We jogged on again till we came to Big Badger station, belonging to Mr. Smith — not the Jinden-station Smith. Here we got splendid quarters. This was our second day’s travelling from Ballalaba and not at our destination yet. I thought much but said little. I could have started from Ballalaba and reached the place we wanted to go to in about half a day. At any rate in thirty-six miles. The third day came and we got a man to show us the road to the track leading down the mountain. He came with us till within half a mile, and even showed us part of the track, but we had to go down one spur and cross the creek, and then go up the next spur before coming on the track. We went down the spur, but instead of going up the next, went along under the range for twelve miles out of our way. Old X. said we were going right until he got frightened and owned he was lost. Here we were after “the boys” for shooting O’Grady! We had travelled right round Smith’s station at Jinden and were making down for Araluen; so I wheeled about and made for Smith’s place, X. saying it was too late then for us to do any good with “the boys” who had crossed long before now. This was the third night from our station. When within half a mile of Smith’s house I pulled up and asked X. if he knew where he was. He had no idea, and constable W. who was with us, said he could not tell as he had been put out. Yet this X. would tell the superintendent he knew every house, road, and track in the district. He could not believe his eyes when we came to Smith’s house at about dinner time.


Smith came out as big as two men and wanted to know our little game. We told him kangaroos—that we were hunting. He said he had sent for the post and if we waited half-an-hour we should get the news, so we let our horses out in the pad-dock. He said he had no grog, or he would offer some. We told him a good feed would do us better. He at once got us food, but never let on about the Gulf affair, or of Fletcher being one of his stockmen, though he knew all about it as well as he, and more. After dinner we started for home and camped about a mile from his house. We took with us some potatoes out of his paddock and roasted them for supper and breakfast. It was raining all night. We were wet through. My coat was under the saddle to save the horse’s back. We came to a farm at about dinner time.


The master asked us inside but the mistress being a little excited told us to go to Bath. She said she would poison that —– so-and-so, meaning myself, and commenced abusing my gallant mate W. To keep her tongue off myself, and her poison too, I told her so-and-so was no chop. “Oh, the rascal”, she said, “I know him by his curly hair”. Now W. had curly hair and this led her to believe he was me. W. was getting a little frightened, and that made her worse. She gave him tongue pie in earnest. The others asked me to take no notice as she was abusing me so much. For my life I could not then have taken in anger what she was saying to W. of me, for we had a stunning feed before us and were cold, wet, and hungry. After dinner, and as soon as W. got up she rushed at him and seized his rifle, and then you would have seen some tugging. She said old X. was quite welcome, but W., meaning me, should never have a meal in peace in her house. She was a sister to the Connell’s, and so had a down on me for shooting at them.


We then went to Mick Connell’s, and on the way were informed that “the boys” had got back, but X. knew better, and went to Mick’s for a nobbler, and it was hard to get him away. The tracker got screwy, and after we left Mick’s, about a couple of miles, fell off his horse. Old X. told me to leave him and come on home; but bad as I wanted home, and a change of dry clothes, I dared not leave him, as I knew he would go back to Connell’s, and as the “boys” were about they would soon have made a tracker of him, and taken his firearms and horse. To leave him there without firearms would have been as bad, as I knew we were being watched home, and he would certainly have been murdered. So I remained with him, and got him close home once, when he gave me the slip, and it took all I knew to follow him in the dark and catch him after a gallop of a mile among saplings. He swore he would shoot me but I did not believe him until I heard him cocking his carbine behind me. It was so dark that I could not see him. There was no road. We had to bush it for seven miles. As soon as I heard him cocking his carbine I turned round sharp and knocked him off his horse, and gave him one, two, for falling. I put him on the horse again and made him ride beside me. This sobered him, and he came on all right. When I got home X. had just got in. I think they had been lost. Sergeant B. was at home, so X. returned to his station. He told us not to let on about missing the track and no one would be the wiser. I believe he reported he was there but am not sure.

Now we had left Smith’s station that morning and stopped at three or four places on the road and then reached home early that night. Why should X. take three days to ride round the other road? It seemed as if he wished to avoid meeting them — though he was called the smartest man in the force at the time. The Superintendent believed he was the best man he had.


Sergeant C. was stationed at Ballalaba at this time, in charge, and another active constable named G. They asked me if I thought there was any chance of coming across “the boys”—and I replied that there was. My impression was they had a camp out the Molongo way. Sergeant B. also had been told of some horses having been seen down Molongo way, below the station, so off we all went. This was my fancy spot for a camp. B. was put on the scent to find the horses. We found twelve of them, mostly racers, amongst them being Fireball, Deception; and Astronomer — all first-class horses. While I was mustering them up, the others caught them and took off their hobbles. We scoured all round but could find no more. Tommy Clarke saw me ride close to him, and he lay down behind a log, with his brother Johnny, till I passed. They told me this afterwards, when they surrendered.

We took the horses to Ballalaba and reported the matter. The superintendent came out and ordered a search to be made for a camp, so we packed up three day’s grub.


We started out in the night this trip and went properly to work, and reached the place where we got the horses, pitched our camp there, and let our horses go. As soon as we got dinner we started on foot, having a better chance that way of picking up foot prints and running them to a camp. The superintendent, Mr. John Wallace, senior-sergeant C., I and the tracker went out, leaving sergeant B. and constable G. at the camp. We were all walking abreast of each other, about a mile from the camp, I being on the left and sergeant C. next to me. In this way we approached a fern swamp. These swamps are pretty dry to walk in, but very scrubby. The tall tree-fern grows from 8 to 12 feet high, and is intersected thickly with a sort of wild rose vine and covered with small thorns. When near one of these places I heard a footstep and signalled to C. whose place it was to signal to the next man and so warn the rest of the party. But the step being so near, sounded as if it was coming out of the swamp on towards us. We were so intent on listening that the remainder of the party had not been warned by C. and went on out of sight. The invisible owner of the foot step stood as if listening for about ten minutes, and then turned short back and went on. We concluded the invisible had either seen or heard us. C. and I consulted; he was for going after the party and cooeying them back, and as they could not be found without calling, we knew that by making the least noise it would scare away the boys if near. Our only way was to pick up the track and follow it to the camp. If we went after our party we should have been again unable to find the track. To pick up the track of a man in the bush is no easy matter. Even then we should have to return to where we heard the sound. We came to bare ground and there saw a small wellington boot track. This being followed, led us on to what appeared at a distance a deep creek, but on coming to it, we found it was a basin or deep swamp with a stream coming out at the side of the mountain. Here it was difficult to follow the track as the ground was covered with dead fern leaves. Suddenly the track made down to this den of ferns, but C. would not let me follow it down. We went up a little further and went down into the basin and crossed to the other side, making no more noise than a cat.


When we came out we heard some one walking ahead. We both (senior sergeant C. and myself) stood behind a tree. Tommy Clarke came out and stood listening about twenty yards from us. I was levelling my rifle at him, and wanted C. to call on him to surrender, but he would not, and told me if I dared to speak, or make any attempt to take him, he would suspend me from service. I could easily have put a bullet through his thigh, but was obliged to obey orders. Before coming out I had been told that Tommy and John Clarke were there, and Tommy’s wife, and that Tommy was sick. Tommy stood listening for about five minutes, and then went back again. Now, here we could have taken Tommy Clarke, or have shot him, and Johnny would have run for his life when left alone. We could have done a clean, clever trick that day, and even if John Clarke had stood to fight we were as good as they, and our camp was hardly a mile below us, and they would hear the shots. The scouring party would have come; at all events we could have taken up a good position where we were, so as to have kept off half-a-dozen men; but no sooner had Tom Clarke disappeared to his camp — for we saw the smoke — than C. wanted to run for his life to our camp. Well, Tommy had heard us as we came along steadily, and to have run over the stony ridge then in front of us would have merely invited his bullets among us: at any rate it would be bidding good-bye to our camp. I pointed this out and told him he would be shot, so this made C. remain behind the tree until I climbed the rocks and had a good view on both sides to see all was clear. I motioned for C. to come up. This was our only danger, for if they had heard us they would either have fired or waited till we had got out of sight when they would have shifted.

As soon as out of hearing we ran full split down the hill to our camp and got sergeant B. and G. We were exhausted with running, and stripped, planting our clothes in a log, and then returned, with few clothes on, the way we had come. But C. would have it we were going wrong and so we got wider than we ought. Finally we turned short and got near their camp when we ran over a track quite fresh — a horse track, shod. We began to think it was all up. We followed this track till we came across three or four more — all fresh — so we stuck to them till they led us round to the head of the basin to the other side.


When near the place where we first heard the footsteps, we found ourselves near the bushrangers’ camp and heard them laughing and talking quite loud. I crept on and listened to what they were saying. I saw the tent for the first time, and heard Pat Connell say, “Come, look sharp, and let’s get away or that — (myself) and mob will soon be on us, for they’re about somewhere. I tracked them to here.” As soon as I made out what they were up to I returned and told the rest, and we all crept up to a big log about thirty yards off, and fired into them without calling upon them; it would have been folly to do so considering the shelter they had. As soon as we fired one of the Clarkes fell. Constable G., a plucky fellow, wanted to rush them but was overruled. They at once fired back upon us from all points, cursing and swearing like savages, and we at them. We were behind a big log so they could not hit us. Their bullets went into the log, and some whizzed over our heads. I just popped my head up to get a good shot at the man who was cursing me so, but he was behind a tree twenty-five yards off. The lower part of the tree was hid from view by the ferns, but I could see the smoke rolling out from it. While thus looking two or three bullets swept past my head, so I squatted down. This sort of work lasted about an hour, when they began to surround us, at least they threatened to do so. Some began to whistle, others to sing, and swore they would shoot every d—l of us. This made C. order a retreat, for we were doing no good, beyond firing in the air. B. would put his revolver over the log and fire haphazard. Our only safety lay in parting out a little, and charging the camp resolutely. If they had escaped we should have taken their camp and horses, and cooking utensils, and been deemed the conquerors, but C. wanted to go to the camp for the rest of our party. B., however, said he would stick behind the log. Ultimately we all retreated about twenty yards behind a big tree, and had a “barney” over it, so I filled my pipe and had a smoke on the strength of it. When it came to my vote — whether we should run to our camp or stop — I said the minute we left our present position the affair was over, and therefore proposed to rush their camp, but B. would not agree, and ordered a retreat to our camp and consult the superintendent. So we ran away from “the boys” like men and left them masters of the field.

It seems that after we left the other chaps at first, the tracker came on some tracks from the same direction, and they ran them to the enemy’s camp also, and had gone down below the camp a couple of hundred yards, and sent the tracker to our camp for us, or whatever men there were there. When the tracker came to our camp no one was there, so he returned to his mates. When he got back we were attacking the enemy’s camp higher up. They could hear us swearing at one another but could not tell one lot from another and on that account did not like to approach; so they stopped for about an hour and then made for our camp, where they all were when we returned.


The superintendent inquired if any of us were shot and seemed quite surprised that we should have escaped. It was resolved to go back at once, so we caught our horses and pushed up, but it was dark before we got there, and raining gently. We went up on the side the boys were, and when near hung our horses up and crept along on foot. B. would have it that we were on the same side then as we had been firing from, and so put us out from finding the place for some time. At length we came to the spot and I had to be careful, for the boys were there. B and I went to where we thought the tent was and lay down till morning, with the superintendent and Mr. Wallace just above us, and the remainder of the party above them. Morning came and found us all frozen with cold. It cleared up in the night and commenced freezing, and we being half wet through, and lying still all night, we were frozen to that degree that “the boys” could have easily shot every one of us. The tracker could not stand at all. The superintendent and Mr. Wallace put a rifle between his arms and led him about till he got warm. We searched, but saw no trace of blood about the camp. We had hit the right place and lay down in the dark, but everything was gone, except half a bullock that was hanging over our heads, some milk, potatoes, bedding, clothes, and pumpkins. As soon as we found the tracks we ran them on some eight miles, still the superintendent decided that we were getting further behind, so we returned home and got a feed of which we were badly in need. There was another “fluke.”

We had then orders to take a packhorse with provisions for three days. We had information “the boys” were camped about six or seven miles further out, in an empty hut. I had the party within two miles of the place when sergeant C. galloped up to me and asked me if I knew where the hut was. I told him I could find it by my directions, as the country was just the same as I had been told, but he said, bullishly, he was not going to follow me where I liked, and he would go to the nearest house and inquire. I told him he would make a mess of the whole affair if he did. ” Mind your own business,” said he. “I’m in charge and wont be dictated to. Be civil or I’ll put you under suspension.” As he was so impertinent I let him go his own road. We camped close to “the boys” that night, and it took us till night the next day to find our road home again. Of course I was reported for incivility. These men, when promoted are very touchy. The superintendent told me I was only an ordinary trooper, and was not supposed to know if C. was right or wrong. This was doing our duty, if you like. He was frightened to tackle them again, so he kicked up a row with me to get out of it. As anticipated I led the life of a dog and tendered my resignation, but the superintendent told me I was too hasty and a fool to give up the regular force to join a parcel of volunteers, as I had threatened, as no volunteers should ever take them.

From what I saw around me, and from my knowledge of the bush and the people about Jingera, I had determined to go to Sydney, obtain an interview with Mr. Parkes, who I knew was going the right way to work, and join a party of volunteers. If I had my own way of working I could have found them in a week. I spoke to the superintendent about withdrawing my resignation, and he said if I wrote an application he would tear it up. I was stationed in Braidwood then for about a week.

Sergeant C. and B came in. Here was a barrack full of police and civilians from all sides, blowing a houseful about “the boys” being cowards, and that they would not come out and fight fairly. I got up and told them plainly they ought to be the last men to speak, as it was only the other day they ran away when “the boys” challenged to fight like men. Up some of them jumped and went to the superintendent and reported me again for speaking to civilians about police matters. This was the only point they could get a hold of — speaking the truth in the barracks. I was sent out to Wild Cattle Flat, then to Jingera. I and Egan, a plucky constable from Maitland, took it very easy here for about three weeks.


A man came from the gully and told us that Tom Connell was drunk there every day, so we went over and had a look at Mick Connell’s and came back again. About this time “the boys” mustered and went down again to Araluen. Information was sent to the Ballalaba police, that the boys would come up at some particular point of the range, so the police pushed out and saw them going along. The tracker watched them till they camped, and then the police crawled up, and fired a volley into them. It appears the boys did not expect anyone up there for they had stolen a lot of horses in Araluen, and Pat Connell was going round them when our chaps fired. The boys had hung up their firearms by the fire to dry. When the police fired the boys all jumped up in alarm and made for the first shelter. Pat Connell galloped back to get his firearms. The police had all taken up their positions behind trees, except Tom Kelly, a Goulburn constable. Pat Connell came close by Kelly and told him to stand back; but Kelly was not a man for nonsense, so he let fly at Pat Connell and shot him dead. The dead bushranger, the notorious Pat Connell, was then strapped on a horse, the police took what arms and things that were near the fire, and returned home. For this gallant action senior-sergeant C. was promoted sub inspector. B. was promoted sergeant, and Gracy was made a senior constable; but Tom Kelly the hero of the contest, was sent back to Goulburn, as his reward, and glad he was to get away safely.


[Links to other chapters here]


Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Tuesday 29 October 1867, page 6




I generally heard all about these things after they were done, for the “Boys” would tell all their little games to their friends and glory in out-witting the “traps”.


Next day there was the devil to pay in Araluen. The bushrangers had been there during the night and stuck-up two or three places. Berriman had been taken, and rescued. Four policemen were stuck-up and their arms taken from them. The Superintendent was off like lightning to see what was up and dismiss the four policemen who so shamefully allowed themselves to be disarmed. For myself, I would not consider long on their case, but have sent them all to the “right about”. After examination, however, only one was dismissed as an example. The particulars of this distardly affair appears to be as follows:— Constables Richards and Curran, two foot police, were informed that the boys were sticking up Morris’s store, so they went up and came across Tom Connell whom they captured. Tom would always stand when bailed up. They took him to Morris’s public house.

It seems Tom Connell had missed his mates who, after they had stuck up the store went to stick up another place. The police coming up, seized Tom who was loitering about, put a strap round his hands, and in this way took him to the public house. The police took about £20 from Connell who had himself taken it from Morris’s store — a brother of the Morris who kept this public house.

They had not been long here before the rest of “the boys” came to stick it up. The two constables were inside with Tom Connell secured. “The boys” commenced operations by bailing up the men about the place. They had bailed up several when Dacey, a constable of the town, came up. As he approached, Tommy Clarke and Pat Connell were still bailing up, so all that Dacey had to do was to come up quietly, see who they were, call upon them, and if they offered to run, shoot them. Instead of that he walked right up with a revolving rifle in his hands, and I believe a revolver, but am not sure. However, the rifle was enough. As he came up Tommy Clarke walked out and met him, and asked him who he was. Dacey told him he was a policeman, whereupon Tommy Clarke ordered him to hand over his rifle and fall in with the other men that were bailed up and standing in a row. Senior constable S. was informed of the bushrangers being at the public-house so off he went and rode in front of the place — seeing the men all the time the same as Dacey had. He dismounted and hung his horse up, and was walking over to them when Tommy Clarke asked who he was. S. told him his name, whereupon Tommy Clarke told him to hand over his rifle and fill in with the rest.

While this was going on outside the bar door Richardson and Curran were inside, behind the counter, with the door shut. Pat Connell went up and ordered them to open the door, but the two inside constables replied by firing at the slabs. Pat Connell fired a few shots, not at the slabs, but through the door, and then threatened to burn down the house if they did not open the door. Morris told the inside constables that he would not have his house burnt down. He said he would open the door, so that the inside constables could shoot “the boys” as they came in. The police inside had sworn in a special constable and stationed him with them behind the counter: he was armed with a revolver. Tom Connell was at this time a prisoner under their eyes. John Clarke, who now came on the scene, was standing guard over their prisoners outside; so there was only Tommy Clarke and Pat Connell to fight, if they came in. Morris opened the door and Tommy Clarke walked in and forthwith commanded the two policemen to drop their firearms — and so they did, instead of pulling the trigger at Clarke as soon as he came to the door. If the constables had not shot them dead, they would have beaten them back, and still stuck to the prisoner they had. But no, they surrendered themselves and their prisoner, and handed over their firearms to the bushrangers.

Here was a pretty lot of police — and one of them a native who ought to be shot for disgracing his country. Well, the boys made the police serve them out with grog, and they gave D. a kick or two in the behind for his courage. They took what they wanted, packed up, and bade them good night! The Superintendent went to the place and held an inquiry into the matter and dismissed R., I suppose because he was a native. He was not up to the mark of clearing himself. If any one they all ought to have been dismissed, and then put on their trial for aiding and abetting the bushrangers. It was a clear case. Here were policemen deliberately walking up to highway robbers and giving them their arms and ammunition. What more clear than this was aiding them.

Well, here was a pretty state of things. I was criticised all to pieces because I did not take them myself the evening before, when I was full gallop in the bush; but there was nothing much said to these men who had shelter to protect, and a good covered position to fire from with deliberate and dead certainty — because the boys approached to within an inch or two of their guns, and, instead of firing, they first surrendered their arms, and then took “nobblers” with the robbers afterwards. However, it is no use enlarging on this affair. We now knew that we had to face the boys with something more than a revolver. We had now to face breech-loading revolving rifles, and they had as many revolvers as they liked to carry. This made the police shake their heads somewhat dismally, and the civilians too, for the latter began to think it was all up with much of their property. Although I stated in court that it was Tom Connell who was with Clarke, everybody would have it that it was Berriman. John Connell was found guilty of having stolen tea in his possession and received ten years imprisonment with hard labour on the roads. Neither Lucy Hurley nor the old woman were tried, but bound over to appear when called upon.


While John Connell was being tried the rest of the boys were sticking-up near Micalago where they placed the head station under Levy. It seems they were having a party here when the bushrangers introduced themselves to the ladies and gentlemen, and joined in the festivities. And here they remained enjoying themselves until Captain Battye with a party of police hunted them out. Shortly after this the boys stuck-up Micalago again, Mr. B. telegraphing for them. As they came back they called at his house and got some of the flour baked and then camped about two miles off. There they sorted the stolen goods, Mr. B. being the inspector. They then made their appearance down about Goulburn, where they stuck the mail up occasionally, as a change in their ordinary programme. At this time their head quarters was out at the back of our station, about seven miles off, in a part of the Molonglo mountains, but it was not known for certain. I always believed that they had a camp in that direction somewhere, but never could make the rest of my mates believe it. One day we went out there, but Sergeant B. said he would never go again as the place was too scrubby.


The boys had about four main camps at this time — one was at Slapup towards Micalago but between Micalago and Jinden. The other was between Jinden and Araluen; and then they had one or two in the gully. They kept their horses at the top camp at this period, but sub-inspector Stevenson passing that way, they deemed it prudent to clear out. The boys did not particularly like Stevenson’s company. He was sagacious and could soon smell a rat, and the boys knew it.


When the boys wanted a spree, two of them would leave the camp on their best horses, taking nothing with them but revolvers. On one of these occasions senior constable S. and two others came upon them at Mick Connell’s public-house, Stoney Creek. The boys were about half drunk and amused themselves by galloping round and round the police who become so exasperated at the impudence of these scoundrels, that instead of taking deliberate aim they blazed away in quick time, right, left, and front. This continued till the boys got tired of the sport and then they made off for the gully where they intended to partake of dinner quietly, until they saw Mr. Watson and constable Walsh when they speedily decamped. Watson was in the creek about thirty yards from the house when they came up, and instead of letting them dismount and go into the house he made a rush at them and thus scared them down the flat and then pursued them. Tom Connell’s horse was so much knocked up in this chase that his brother Pat had to keep thrashing it with a sapling. They went about a mile down the road in this manner, towards the creek, until the boys wheeled into a pretty thick sapling scrub. They turned short off, but the police crossing so fast had not time, so they went on a half mile farther, and then pulled up to look. The two boys had thus slipped aside in the bush. When the police discovered they had lost sight of them they returned to the station much grieved and disappointed. They told me this as I passed their station. The next morning I and sergeant B. went up to where the chase had taken place. We picked up the mare Tom Connell was riding. This mare had been taken from Rosebrook on the night of the party. It appeared that young Battye had ridden her down from Cooma to the spree, and Tom Connell had taken her without asking permission. The mare belonged to Mr Lee of Bathurst, to whom it was forwarded via Goulburn.


After a lull, and a long silence comes a storm, so the boys next turned up at the Gulf, seventy-one miles down towards the coast. While sticking-up there, the police were informed of it. The boys had been sticking-up all that day out of the town of Nerrigundah. They shot one young man through the leg because he refused to stand when called upon. Things were in a sad plight. The inhabitants were panic-stricken. There were only two policemen in the town and one of them was sick in bed. It was known that there were at least five bushrangers, well armed, playing havoc, and carrying all before them with impunity. The boys had made it up with one of Smith’s stockmen on the Jinden station to lead them down to the Gulf, and he did it faithfully. Though O’Grady was very ill, and though he knew there were four or five of them, he got out of bed, dressed and armed himself, and went up with his mate to tackle them like men. They came up, not with show, but with a cool determination to do business with judgment. They came up in the shade of the street until within close quarters, when the boys spotted them. Fletcher, one of the boys, fired, and then O’Grady fired, not at random, and shot Fletcher dead. O’Grady, the next moment was himself shot dead, either by Pat Connell or Tom Clarke, but it was never positively known which. The boys then mounted instantly, and galloped right over the other constable, but did not hurt him much. So you see what two resolute men can do. It grieved me to hear of O’Grady’s death. His bravery was of that kind that I never expected to find in the police. Take all the surrounding circumstances, and a nobler act of heroic bravery and strict devotion to duty will not be found in the annals of New South Wales. Poor O’Grady! He was a brave man. He saw his danger, but he faced it nobly. It is hard to see a young man shot down in the prime of life, but I would sooner be shot down as O’Grady was than behave as the police did at Araluen. That Araluen affair is a dark spot in the annals of our Braidwood police; in fact the whole of the police have been injured in reputation by it. Where four men deliberately surrender, as they did at Morris’s public house, the people lose all confidence in police efficiency. However, this last affair was a victory, thanks to O’Grady and his plucky mate, and one of the boys had been shot dead. On their way back, the boys were encountered by sergeant Hitch and a party of volunteers, and it was supposed John Clarke was wounded. It got about that we were looking for Johnny, so he took to the bush with the rest. This gave us a better chance, for he was an active telegraph and scout for the boys. Moreover, Tom Clarke and Pat Connell had been both outlawed for the shooting of O’Grady.


I may as well here relate what I was doing at this time. Senior-constable B. was stationed at Araluen for a short time, and sergeant S., the officer of that station, was up at Major’s creek, on some particular scheme. I was left alone with the tracker, and was out day and night. One day I was planted at the back of old Mrs. Connell’s, watching the place. After a little while I saw Lucy Hurley come up and go into the house; and of all the rows I ever heard between two women, the best came off between the old woman and Lucy. Such scratching and tearing, such swearing and horrible execrations, screams, and defiant expressions, I never heard before. I heard Lucy say to the old women “I’ll tell Tom as soon as be comes back. He’ll be here to-morrow.” The old women denied that he would be back. Lucy said he had promised to meet her in the scrub at a certain spot at the back of the hut, and she would tell Tom all, and then woe to the old woman. It seemed curious to me that Lucy should threaten the old woman with a hauling over the coals by her own son, but this is bush life among a certain class.

Now, I knew the little spot in the scrub well, and so determined to go home, get some grub, turn out the horses, and get some men from Major’s Creek station, proceed to this little spot in the scrub, and wait there quietly in ambush till they came. While turning this over in my mind I saw Lucy leave the old woman and go towards her own place; so after a little interval, I proceeded down the range to Lucy’s hut.


Thinks I, as Lucy has fallen out with the old woman, and as she was much excited, she might let out something concerning the boys that would be of use to me. So I worked round and came up to the hut as if I had come straight up the gully, quite unconcernedly. When I got to the hut Lucy was as calm as a mouse. She asked me with a doubtful look in her eye, if I had come up the gully? I told her I had, and that on my way I fancied I heard some one cooeying. I said this, because when Lucy left the old woman she roared out what she had to say as loudly as she could — to give the poor old woman “fits”. But Lucy told me it was the old woman who was shouting at her, and bullying her, and refused to let her get her horse out of the paddock. Ahem! says I to myself. Lucy said she was glad I had come, and asked me to protect her while she went and got the horse out of the paddock. I agreed, and went up with her; but while she was getting the horse Mrs. Connell never came out to prevent her. I expect she had had quite enough of Lucy. I went down to the hut again with her, and was going inside when Lucy stopped me. Of course that made me suspicious, and I was about to force the door when she told me Mrs. John Connell was in her confinement. With this I let her go in alone, but I had a peep “on the quiet” to satisfy myself. There was no one in the hut but Mrs. John Connell, so Lucy told me the truth this time. She asked me which way I was going, and if I was going to Mick Connell’s way, because, if I was, she would go with me.


Lucy had never been so civil to me before. She generally called me all the b— dogs she could think of, and she called sergeant B. the same. In fact, we had to keep our hands on our revolvers when we searched her hut, as we did at all hours of the night. But this agreeableness on Lucy’s part promised better, so I went with her to Mick Connell’s. Here I tried to make her drunk, but she would only take port wine. With the boys she would drink either rum or brandy, but she was too “fly” with me. She had some gold rings, a gold watch, and gold guard which Tom Connell gave her — all stolen — but I never could find them on her, though she gave me an excellent chance; for while I was pretending to look and praise a brooch she wore, she took a gold-scarf pin out of my comforter, and planted it somewhere about her. I could not find it,and did not like parting with it, as it was a keepsake. But I let her keep it as it would probably give me a chance of finding something else about her. But it was no use. She was too “fly” for me. Mrs. Connell saw her with it and asked her how she came by it. Lucy said I gave it to her.


At this time Mrs. Connell was getting sick of Lucy and the boys, and began to wish they were captured. Her anguish of mind must have been great when she saw the headlong course her sons were pursuing. For all this, and no matter how bad they were, the poor old woman had still a mother’s love for them. I often pitied her, for at the bottom she was a good old woman, and it was but natural for her to do a great deal to save her sons. But now she was getting sick and heart broken, so she told one of our chaps something, but seeing this pin with Lucy she spoke about it, and I had to go and demand it from her. She wore the rings Tom had given her every day, but the police could never find them on her. Everyone else could see her wear them but the police.

After I got to Mick Connell’s with Lucy I had a long yarn about the boys. She was very shy at first, but answered me at last, and told me she would follow any man until she had taken his life that would shoot her Tom Connell. She said Pat Connell was also a “plum”, but she didn’t think much of the Clarkes. I promised to screen Tom Connell if she would put me on the Clarkes, and she said she would; so after a while we parted.


[Links to other chapters here]


Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Friday 25 October 1867, page 6





Shortly after this we took Pat Connell up the gully for horse stealing, and another man for cattle duffing. B., and the senior man with us when we took Connell, were one day in Braidwood attending court, and as I always believed “the boys” camped very often about old Clarke’s place, I determined, the first chance I had, to scour the place well. So this day, being left in charge, I took the tracker out with me and started up the gully, some five miles, and showed myself to some of the bush “telegraphs”, and made enquiries about the nearest tracks across the ranges to where some more of Clarke’s friends lived. Then I doubled about and gave them the slip, and made back to the station quietly, got my dinner, and left my rifle at home on account of its being very wet. I then made round by old Clarke’s place — that is, two miles from the station, towards Braidwood — and began scouring a thick bushy scrub that is close to the place, and which runs about a mile along the river, in some places half a mile through.

After beating about some time I came to an old camp, and found where “the boys” had slept that night, and where they had fed their horses. The place was full of tracks, and it was a long time before I found the last track out. This led towards a high scrubby range, about a mile off, so we ran them about half way up the range, to a sort of basin, and very grubby. We were going very steadily, as it was getting dusk, and as I expected they would be making back towards the house for supper.

Just as we pulled up I saw a grey horse standing about eighty yards off. I was turning my horse round to get off when he trod on a stick and the sound started “the boys”, who were sitting down about twenty yards off their horses. I did not see them then, but heard them, so I rammed the spurs in and galloped to their horses. They both sprang up equally alert and made an effort to get on their horses. Tommy Clarke had hold of the reins of his, but my coming so quick upon him startled his horse which jumped round and threw Clarke to the other side of him. Tom Connell drew his revolver at me but I told him to stand! I could not see Tommy at this moment; but I stood over Tom Connell, covering him with my revolver, till the tracker came up. When he arrived I told him to stand over Tom Connell while I took Clarke. I thought I could depend on this tracker, for he said he would stick to me, happen what would. Just as the tracker came up I saw Clarke about forty yards off, running up the range. I pursued and called upon him to stand, but he replied that he would b— soon make me stand, and he stood as if he meant mischief. He had a Colt’s revolver in each hand. As soon as he went to raise them I let go mine at him. As soon as I fired my horse began plunging mad; but every time I got a chance I fired. At the fourth shot Clarke fell, and I thought he was shot; so I stood looking at the place for a few moments, thinking about it. I could not see him on account of a low scrub which grows about four or five feet high. At length I made up to the place and was in the act of getting off my horse when I heard a stick crack up the range where I saw Clarke running for his life. I made right this time, and as soon as he saw me closeing on him he made for a tree. I could have shot him then, but the other two chambers of my revolver missed. I think I must have knocked the caps off by holding it in my hand galloping about so much. Tom Clarke turned round at me then and was coming towards me, when I put that revolver in my boot and drew the other which, as the sequel will show, was a duffer which I got from sergeant T. in the clerk’s office, Braidwood, who told me to load it there, as it was quite clean, and I loaded it, without looking at the nipples. This nearly cost me my life, for on taking it out of my boot as Clarke was approaching I presented it at him, thinking I was quite safe. Tommy sprang behind the tree again, swearing vengeance at me, if I attempted to come and take him — he seemed like a savage. I had not time to look behind to see how the tracker was getting on. I thought he was still guarding Tom Connell until I heard him behind me call out to Clarke to stand. Tommy roared out to the tracker that he’d d— soon make him stand. The tracker fired his carbine at him, but though he had a good shot he missed him. In fact the bullet came very close to me. I called on Tommy then to surrender like a man, and kept talking to him, trying to coax him, but he told me he defied me and all the traps in the district to take him alive. I could see by his manner he would never surrender, but I was trying to gain time for the tracker to come up and help me; but instead of his coming up, to my astonishment I never saw him afterwards. Whether he ran back to Tom Connell, or whether he ran away, I cannot tell. All I know is he took my cape home with him which I had thrown off at the place where we first saw Connell and Clarke.

When I found the tracker was not coming, I attempted to dismount when Tommy advanced and presented both his revolvers at me. I tried to make a shot at him but my revolver missed. I tried five barrels one after the other, but they all missed. I called on him again to surrender, but he told me he would make me surrender before many minutes, and snapped his revolver at me pretty close, and I tried the other at him, but it missed. He then sprang at me like a tiger and was close upon me before I could wheel my horse away. As I turned round there was the limb of a tree and I threw myself down the horse’s neck just as Tommy tried another barrel. The horse jumped about four feet and from my position at that moment I was as much on as off. At any other time I should have fallen off headlong in doing the same thing, but death stared at me closely. And I suppose it made me exert my utmost agility.

When Clarke missed me he made a run to get on his horse. The horses were tied round the legs with a saddle strap notched so that if you sprang on them and rammed the spurs into them, the strap would slip. I rushed at the horses and started them, but they kept jumping for about thirty yards; and so desperate was Clarke that I expected he would shoot me from behind. I heard him, but had not time to look round, for if he once caught up to me it was a case. The horses broke lose at last, and I ran them about 200 yards. While I was running them I was trying to reach my revolver but I lost all the caps but one, and that I managed to put on. So I turned and galloped back to have another shot at him, but could not see him. I did not like riding about through the scrub for I now expected he would jump up out of every bush. I saw Tom Connell on the top of the hill making round to where the horses were, so I made a charge up towards him, but there were no signs of him when I reached the place. It was getting dark, and I could scarcely see for the heavy rain. My boots were running over the tops with water; so I made back to the place where I started the horses; they heard me coming and started at full speed for Clarke’s house, and it took all I knew to head them, and keep them out of sight.


My object then, was, to make for the barracks, much disappointed, but not disheartened, and if Sergeant B. was not at home to get some stockmen. I could not keep the horses straight for home. When I turned them they made for the river and jumped in, off a bank four feet high, into very deep water before I could stop them. They went right under the water at first, and then commenced plunging; Tommy Clarke’s horse had on a new pair of saddle bags. These turned round, so that if there was anything valuable in them it is now in the Shoalhaven River. I expected both horses would have been drowned, but they swam down the river about 100 yards to an old crossing place.

As soon as I returned to the station I mounted Clarke’s horse, Mr. John Wallace mounted Tom Connell’s and one of the stockmen mine, B. on his own. There were seven or eight of us altogether. So back we went full speed, searched Clarke’s house, but as they were not there, we went to where the encounter took place. When in the heart of this scrub we heard some one whistle in a peculiar way, like some of the bush birds, tried to imitate it, but they did not answer.


We were all riding abreast, at some little distance from each other when suddenly some of my mates galloped towards me saying, “There they are!” as two horsemen started away close to our lowest man on the range, who happened to be a half-cast. Those below could have shot one of them instead of turning towards me. I heard the direction the horses were gallopping, so rammed in the spurs, but I did not do this a second time, for I went like a flash of lightning over trees, logs, limbs, and every thing that came in the way. I could not hold my horse and went on for about a mile; was close up to them once, but could not see to fire. It was as dark as pitch. I could not see the horse’s head at times. All at once I lost the sound of them and pulled up, but could hear no sound, either of my mates or any one else. I waited for ten minutes, and then signalled for my mates, but the beating of my own heart was the only sound I heard. After beating about for some time I came across my mates, and we then went home and reported this affair officially to head-quarters.

When we got home George, the tracker, was there. He said when I fired the first shot at Clarke, his horse began to buck, and Tom Connell got away. He then got off, tied his horse to a tree, and was coming to my assistance, but when he fired his carbine at Clarke his horse broke loose again and he ran to stop him. When he came back to the place I had gone. He was riding a colt and a buck-jumper. I found the horse next day, saddle and all.

This state of things began to nettle the other chaps who were out night and day but could never come across “the boys.”


Tommy Clarke and his mate then went up to Michalago and stuck-up the post-office and store, and took two racehorses, saddles and bridles. If a stranger had come across Tommy Clarke and Tom Connell at this period the first thing that would have struck him in their appearance would be, that they were two squatters, sitting down to have a smoke and a nobbler. Tommy was dressed in a suit of grey tweed, well made. He looked anything but a bushranger.

Tom Connell was also dressed well that day, but he always had the cut of a bushman about him. Clarke’s turn out was complete. He had a beautiful brown horse of the Barebone breed, and the prettiest saddle I ever saw. In fact his turnout was as graceful and complete as that of any gentleman in Sydney.

Connell’s was not so good. He had a horse the property of Mr. Smith of Jinden. After some time Smith came down in a great fuss and claimed this horse of Connell’s, and took out a warrant for him. Now it seems Pat Connell borrowed this horse and gave him to Clarke to ride; but as he did not return it, and as things were beginning to look queer, Smith took out the warrant to save himself. I met Smith coming from Braidwood and he told me he had taken out a warrant for Pat for horse-stealing, but to let no one know till he was taken, as the police could take him easily before he knew he was “wanted”. This was agreed upon. Smith passed the barracks on his way home, and on the way met Pat Connell, about six miles beyond. So they rode together to Mick Connell’s, fed their horses, and got their dinner — Smith telling him to look out as there was a warrant out for him. They then went together somewhere, but Smith afterwards went home, while Pat took the bush and joined his brother Tom and Tommy Clarke.


From this period onward robberies were committed almost daily, and the people were becoming exasperated. Our party were out every day, and every other night, but we could see nothing of them. We would start and ride away, sometimes on tracks close on them, but it was all useless, we could never see them. Instead of picking our ground so as to make no noise we would blunder over everything that came in our road, but the “boys” would not do business in that way. They would ride to some grassy flat where the horses would not make a noise, and in such a manner as to enable them to hear any one approaching before they came too close; and thus they managed to elude our vigilance. As the country up there is all mountains and sudden ranges, generally covered with short, thick, forest oak scrub, and narrow boggy creeks, more of the nature of swamps, the utmost caution in riding ought to have been observed. Now, men brought up in the bush, like the Jingera people, could tell the meaning of the least noise. They could tell without seeing what it was. Many times these three bushrangers have been near a party of police and stood to let the police pass unmolested. Then they would turn sometimes and follow the police all day, and watch their “little game.” They had thus an opportunity of seeing where the police went to, and how they worked, and so managed their own movements accordingly. If I had had with me another native trooper that had any bush experience, I could have taken them before any serious harm was done. But it was not to be so. I was merely a trooper, and it was my duty to obey. If I could do ever so much, or knew ever so much, my superior officer, though a new inexperienced hand, was paid to know more. I could never reason with him. Tell him what I know, he knew better, and so things went on, and so crime went on, getting worse and worse every day. The bushrangers were getting more daring, the police more impotent, the people disgusted.


Shortly after this Sergeant B. went into Braidwood for something, and I was at home getting ready to go* up the gully, when young Connell came galloping up to the station reporting that his father’s store at Stoney Creek was stuck up, and a lot of goods taken away. I and Mr. John Wallace and the tracker started, post haste, to Stoney Creek, and observed where the store had been broken into. It rather puzzled me to understand this move. To think it possible that Pat Connell should stick up his brother, or that Clarke would stick up his uncle, was a little bit too strong for me. Mick Connell was in Braidwood, and his wife could only describe but not swear to any of the stolen property. Of course she did describe it all. Well, the property was all found! Before I got there it bad been taken about a quarter of a mile down to the bend of the river the junction of Stoney Creek and the Shoalhaven. The goods were all there except some socks and a comforter. I took a description of this property, and gave it up, Mr. Wallace being witness. I had a suspicion these goods were not right, but I was laughed at when I expressed my suspicions at the police barracks. I said I believed the goods were part of the stolen property from the Foxlow station, taken to Mick Connell’s to be sold again. I was asked if I was mad to think that a man so highly respectable and well off as Mick Connell was going to throw a chance away? I believe then, as I do now, that I was right in my conjectures.

Well, we picked up the tracks and ran some of them for seven or eight miles up the range between the river and the gully; then the tracks turned and went down the range the other way, till within a mile of old John Connell’s where they scattered, one going towards the house, the others going up the range again. All at once I heard a low whistle from John Wallace who was motioning me to look towards the creek, where I saw John Connell cantering up a little gully, with a tin ”billy” on his arm, and a “swag” in front of him. He had been to the hut for grub. The tracker was on the colt still, and he was done up. I made a start to cross the creek, but could not go very fast as I ran foul of a number of rooks, and my horse went all roads at once, but once over the creek my efforts were made to overtake John Wallace who had met with a more favourable crossing place higher up. When I had got up to him two more men came out from behind a spur of the ridge and joined John Connell, and handed him a gun. They then raced for the scrub which was about 400 yards up the range.


We rammed in the spurs and flew after them in pursuit. As Tommy Clarke was turning in his saddle to fire, I fired at him. He was just galloping under an oak tree; the bullet cut the bush and left it sticking on his hat. His friend told me afterwards that my bullet took the button off his hat; the button was half off previously, and sticking up. I threw the rifle strap across my shoulder and drew my revolver. I had my fire arms clean and in order this time, and made a dash in the scrub after them. You could hear the limbs and sticks cracking like pistol shots. Before proceeding far I heard a shout. My mate’s horse had stood with him, and he called, thinking I should be murdered by proceeding alone, which was very likely. The tracker, George, could not face his horse up the range at all; he was completely done up. I went on for about half a mile further but could not hear or see anything of them, and it occurred to me that I was doing wrong by leaving my mate alone, with only one revolver, for at this time they had sworn to shoot John Wallace. I therefore returned and we went to where Clarke and Tom Connell had come out. We there got two horses they had been riding, for the saddle marks were quite wet; in fact these horses were pretty well done up. If we had been half an hour sooner we should have caught them on these animals, which were racing ponies, belonging to Mr. Hyland near Araluen. I put the tracker on one of these horses and we started for the barracks, for it was no use then following “the boys” with the horses we had, or rather the horses they now had, for I had, myself, as good an old screw as could be desired; but one was of no use against three, and they were all well armed with guns and revolvers.

We had not left our horse behind for more than ten minutes when “the boys” came down, from the hill and cut his throat. They must have caught him first and blind-folded him then hit him on the head with a riverstone, then when he fell,they cut his throat. At any rate, I found him the next day dead, with his skull smashed in, and his throat cut.


[Links to other chapters here]

Spotlight: Conviction of the Bushrangers, Thomas & John Clarke (1 June 1867)

Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Chronicle (NSW : 1860 – 1870), Saturday 1 June 1867, page 5

Conviction of the Bushrangers, Thomas & John Clarke.



(Before His Honor tho Chief Justice.)


Thomas Clarke and John Clarke were indicted for that they did, on the 27th Apr last, near Jinden, in the colony of New South Wales, wound one William Walsh, with intent to murder the said William Walsh.

The prisoners pleaded not guilty, and were defended by Messrs. Dalley and Blake, instructed by Mr Joseph Leary. Mr Isaacs, Solicitor-General, prosecuted on behalf of the Crown.

The history of the capture of the outlaw Thomas Clarke and his brother John, when the prisoners fired upon and wounded Walsh is familiar to our readers. We therefore deem it only necessary to give the opening of the case by the Solicitor-General, the summing up of the Judge, the verdict and the sentence.

The Solicitor-General, in opening the case said the jury had a duty of a most difficult nature to perform. They were called upon to try the prisoners at the bar on a capital charge and it devolved upon them to weigh the evidence carefully as it applied to one or both prisoners Thomas Clarke was outlawed by an Act of the Legislature for several felonies. It therefore became the duty of the police to pursue him and secure his apprehension. In the discharge of this duty, it is alleged by the Crown that a constable was shot at and wounded by Thomas Clarke. With regard to the prisoner John Clarke, it was alleged that he also, in company with his brother, fired upon the police sent to arrest them, and that by Thomas Clarke constable William Walsh was wounded. He was not anxious to anticipate any portion of the evidence; but he believed it would be such as to bring the charge, from the lips of three or four witnesses, conclusively home to the prisoners. The principal facts were these: On the evening of the 20th April last, a party of police, under the command of senior-constable Wright, consisting of constables Walsh, Lenehan, J. Wright, Egan, and an aboriginal tracker named Sir Watkin Wynne, arrived close to a hut neat Jinden. They saw, at about 1 o’clock in the morning of 27th April, in a paddock in front of the hut, two horses, which they led towards a haystack. At about 6 o’clock the same morning they saw the two prisoners, Thomas and John Clarke, coming out of the hut towards the horses. The party under sub-inspector Wright attacked the prisoners, who retreated to the hut, and fired upon their pursuers. Constable Walsh and the aboriginal tracker Sir Watkin had approached nearer to the hut than the others. Thomas Clarke, who knew constable Walsh, deliberately fired at him, and wounded him in the thigh. After both had seen Walsh, whom the prisoners knew, it would be proved that John Clarke fired, and wounded Sir Watkin. This shot was fired by John Clarke, through a square hole at the end of the hut. It would also be proved that when the prisoners surrendered to Walsh that there was no one in the hut when the firing took place but Thomas and John Clarke. The nature of the wound indicted upon constable Walsh, the subject under immediate inquiry, would be described to them, and other circumstances that would point to the guilt of the prisoners. The crime, in law, was one which would deprive the prisoners of life. It was, therefore, a case of life or death with which the jury had to deal. The jury had thus a solemn responsibility cast upon them. They had sworn to give a verdict according to the evidence. If any juror, from conscientious principles, had an objection to find a person guilty, when he knew that the effect of his verdict would deprive a fellow-creature of life, he was equally guilty of a serious crime if he continued to sit in the jury-box, and refused to give his verdict according to the evidence because the extreme penalty of the law was involved. He felt sure, however, that the jury would discharge their duty fearlessly and conscientiously, without any feeling as to the effect of their verdict. The evidence of the witnesses would be given in a straightforward manner; and if they detailed the circumstances to which he had alluded, they had only one duty to discharge, solemn as it was to return a verdict of guilty. It was fortunate for the prisoners that they were in a country where the laws allowed them a fair and open trial. They were fortunate also in having secured two gentlemen of great learning, of great ability, and great eloquence to defend them; and they were tried before a magistrate, impartial, of great wisdom and experience in criminal practice. No doubt the two learned counsel, Mr Dalley and Mr Blake, would separately address the jury. After which they would have the lucid summary of the evidence by the Chief Justice. It would then rest with them to pronounce their verdict. If that verdict should be guilty, then the further duty of disposing of the prisoners devolved upon another power with which the jury had nothing to do. If the evidence was clear, they must not flinch from pronouncing their verdict. If there was any fair and reasonable doubt, they would be bound to give the prisoners the benefit of it. He would now call the witnesses to establish the charge.

[The witnesses for the Crown were then called and examined, after which, Mr Blake addressed the jury for Thomas Clarke, and Mr Dalley for John Clarke.]

His HONOR then summed up. He said that considering the great importance of this trial, he must express his regret at the great length to which the trial had extended; because it was impossible but that the attention of the jury must have been fatigued. Many extraneous matters had been introduced, but the facts lay in an extremely narrow compass. The prisoners stood charged with wounding a constable, in discharge of his duty, with intent to kill him. The first question was, did the prisoner Thomas Clarke fire the shot, and wound Walsh? Secondly, what was his intention in firing the shot? Walsh’s evidence, supported by that of more than one other witness, proved that the shot proceeded from the revolver of Clarke. Whether the shot fired from that pistol reached the body of the constable directly, or whether it touched the ground first, was a matter, of no moment.

The simple questions were, first, was the wound inflicted by the prisoner at all? If not, it would be absurd to suppose that it was inflicted by persons standing behind Walsh. Whether the prisoners turned round and shot him or not, no one behind Walsh inflicted the wound; since the wound was inflicted in the man’s front.

He (the Chief Justice) would not follow the learned counsel into any question as to the propriety of the punishment of death. He would suppose that the jury would discharge their [maths?] and find simply a matter of fact and of inferences arising from fact according to their conscientious views, and not for one moment be induced to swerve from the truth by any consideration of what the result of their verdict would be. Neither did he think it necessary to make any remarks on the Felons’ Apprehension Act. He understood Mr Dalley to say that the necessity for that Act was a disgrace to our civilisation. ln that he (the Chief Justice) agreed with him. The existence of the outrages which gave birth to that law was discreditable to us. The law had been recommended from this bench years before it was passed, and was simply a re-enactment of laws as old as the time of Alfred the Great, and adopted by Sovereigns the most enlightened that England ever had known. It was adopted here in consequence of a series of outrages that unless checked would paralyse industry, and render all property and life insecure. It was a system of outrage not directed against large property or for the re-dress of grievances; but against all classes of the community, rich and poor, high and low. Where have those robbers been known to pass by the hoards of the poor man, or of the widow or the orphan when it suited their purposes to rob them? They had been the common robbers of all classes; and they had been murderers of the worst kind. The slightest resistance had been met by attempts to take life. The law was directed only against persons having arms in their hands and likely to use arms in taking life. And not until a criminal had committed a crime punishable with death was he outlawed. Notice was given in every quarter of the country, and then only could the outlaw be shot down. That is the law as it stands in our statute book. (But for the purpose of this trial it was of no importance whether this man was an outlaw or not. It would be quite sufficient if the jury found that the constables were acting with a common design to take Clarke, believing that he was outlawed, or that he had committed a felony. A constable has power to arrest any man whom he suspects to be guilty of felony; and if he cannot otherwise take him, he has power to shoot him down. The law has always been so. The constables are ministers of justice. And are they to expose their own lives to thieves and murderers without the protection of the law? Will any Judge uphold it as law that a constable is to wait until he is shot at, if he sees that revolvers are worn by the men he is seeking to arrest? Do they meet as soldiers in single combat, in honourable warfare? Although he made every allowance for gallant feeling in a man who having shot at another, and finding himself shot, asked and granted forgiveness, he (the Chief Justice) could not but feel it to be a humiliation that this constable (Walsh) on the impulse of the moment did not remember that these men were charged with felony and murder; that he descended, as a minister of justice to shake hands with a man whom he believed to be a robber and a murderer, was a degradation to his character. He (the Chief Justice) had no notion of such tampering with crime. To treat such men cruelly would be barbarous and un-English; but the constable might have said when the man held out his hand, “No, sir, you have shot me, and I have shot at you. I forgive the personal injury; but you are my prisoner. We are not on the same platform. My hand meets not that of a man whom I believe to be a felon.” He (the Chief Justico) sat there to see principles of honour and honesty carried out, and to teach men right notions, and how to act up to them, and not to let the land of his adoption, the land of his children be disgraced by such deeds as these. But these remarks had nothing to do with the trial. A man must be supposed innocent of all crimes laid to his charge until found guilty. It is nothing to a constable whether the man he seeks to arrest is guilty or not. If he is charged with felony, it is his duty to surrender, and it is the duty of the constable to arrest him. The question was did the prisoner Thomas Clarke shoot. If they had any reasonable doubt that he did so, they must acquit both prisoners. They were not nicely to weigh the probabilities of opposing evidence. The next question was this — Was Walsh, when he was shot, in the execution of his duty as a constable endeavouring to arrest the Clarkes for felony, and one of them because he believed him to be an outlaw? The evidence was that a party had been formed to arrest two persons, whom they believed to be guilty of several robberies, and of more than one murder. Then if so, were the Clarkes, or was Thomas Clarke conscious of that fact? On this subject his Honor read a short extract from Archbold to the effect that when an officer of justice is killed in the discharge of his duty, in quelling an affray or arresting a person charged with felony — if the slayer know: the officer’s business, the slaying is murder. The question was, did Thomas Clarke, when he fired at Walsh, know that he was a constable; According to the evidence Clarke, when within twenty yards of Walsh, turned round and fired at him. Walsh said he was known personally to both prisoners. It was said that when Walsh came back with his new party, Thomas Clarke said to him “If I had known you were here, I would have surrendered long ago.” But he also said “I called for you several times.” How could he call on the man unless he knew him? The next question was, did Walsh do more than was reasonably necessary to protect himself and to apprehend the prisoners? A constable is not bound to wait until he is shot at. He has a right to use his own firearms. (His Honor then read part of the evidence of Walsh, as to at Thomas Clarke, and that Thomas Clarke turned round, took aim at him (Walsh) and fired.) A person who aims at a vital part, whether the person shot at dies or not, is responsible for his intention. Something was said about discrepancies. The jury would judge how far they were material. If they met with two or three persons who saw an event, they would agree in their account of the event, but differ as to circumstances. The more witnesses, the more variations there would be. One man may have been so excited that he forgot the nature of the ground over which he passed. (His Honor then read the evidence of William Wright as to his calling on the prisoners to stand and surrender.) The question remained whether, from all circumstances, the prisoners were likely to have known that they were officers of justice. Then came this great question, did or did not the prisoner Thomas Clarke, at the moment he fired intend to take life, for nothing he did afterwards could make him guilty of this charge. Mistakes might be made as to a man’s intention. But looking at the matter as men of common sense, did they believe in their hearts that this man did intend to take life? As to his having no bad feeling, because he did not take life afterwards when he was safe in the house, it might be that he felt that it was better to abstain when there were at least two to one against him. He might have thought that to take life would be useless. When he shot he may have thought that to take the life of two or three would diminish the numbers of their enemies, whereas by merely wounding they would not accomplish this, for a wounded man might still fire on them. By law a man is presumed to intend what circumstances show to be the natural and inevitable consequence of this act. What was the probable consequence of the man’s turning round and firing a revolver at a pursuer within twenty yards of him? This was a maxim of law from the earliest times; and it was not merely a rule of reason and propriety. When a man does an act, is it not natural that that which that particular act is likely to effect the man intended to effect? A man fires a pistol at another’s head. Does it not seem that he intended to take his life? That was the whole of the case as respected the prisoner Thomas Clarke. Now came the question as to John Clarke. He did not fire the shot. The rule is if two or more persons are engaged in an unlawful act, every one is responsible for the act of the others. If men go out for a lawful purpose, and one does something quite apart from the common purpose, there is no reason to invite the others. But if men go out for a common purpose of robbing, and one commits a murder in so doing, all are responsible as murderers. That is a rule that pervades the whole of the criminal law. And it is founded on common sense. It tends to deter men from banding together for unlawful purposes. There is a difficulty in this case. What illegal design were John and Thomas Clarke concerned in at the time the shot was fired? If they had been inside the house, doing all they could to kill or wound the constables, they would both have been engaged in felony. Then whatever one did the other was responsible for. That is the general principle. It is founded on good sense. But at the time when Thomas Clarke fired, John was committing no crime. He was endeavouring to run away. There was no crime in that.

The constables were entitled to shoot him for it. But it was no crime to try to escape. If he turned round and endeavoured to shoot the constable then he was guilty of murder. The difficulty is this: At the time the shot was fired they were both running away. The common design did not seem at that time to be illegal.

John must have known that the constables were endeavouring to arrest his brother. Whether he thought the constables sought to arrest both, or only his brother, was he acting in concert with his brother in resisting Walsh? They were both running away. Thomas turned and fired; John fired a second afterwards. Was his meaning, at that time, to kill or wound the apprehending constable? or was it merely to prevent his own or his brother’s apprehension? If the jury found that John was endeavouring to prevent the arrest, and intended to help his brother to the uttermost, not intending to kill but to wound, so as to prevent the apprehension, he would be equally responsible with his brother, because then there was a common design to help each other against the constables at all hazards. If the common design of wounding any one of the constables were proved, then, though John might not have intended to have killed Walsh at the moment, he is responsible for the capital felony. This is a point of law entirely new, and matter of reasoning from general principles alone. With these remarks he left the case in the hands of the jury.

His Honor concluded his address at ten minutes past 10.

The jury returned into court at 11 o’clock with a verdict of guilty against both prisoners.

The prisoners, in reply to the Clerk of Arraigns, had nothing to say why sentence of death should not be passed upon them.

The CHIEF JUSTICE, amidst the breathless silence of a very crowded court, then proceeded to pass sentence in a most impressive manner, as follows :— Thomas Clarke and John Clarke, if, in the opinion of most of those who hear me, or if it should be thought by a large portion of the community, that you are now about to receive a just retribution for your crimes, it is proper for me to say that no such feelings influence this Court. Such a principle does not belong to our law. You are not to receive punishment as a retribution, but because the taking of your lives is believed to be necessary for the peace and good order, for the safety as well as the welfare of the community: because of the example and warning that a capital execution may hold out to others, by acting as a terror and a restraint from the committal of similar crimes of which you stand convicted. This is the principle, the true principle, of all human punishment. I told the jury they were to conclude that you were innocent of those various crimes in respect of which efforts were made to apprehend you, and by which you were apprehended, and the jury took for granted that you were innocent. But now that I have to pass sentence upon you, I am not restricted by any such feeling. It is proper, however, in what I may say, that I should not hurt your feelings, nor add anything to your degradation, but for the good of the community show what really is the extent of the crime either committed or reasonably supposed to have been committed by you, and upon which the Executive will be asked whether mercy can be extended to you. Thomas Clarke, I hold in my hand a list of offences of which you stand charged within the last two years, and the amount of the whole, exclusive of murders of which you are supposed to be guilty, there are nine robberies of mails and thirty-six robberies of individuals; and among the individuals whom you have robbed there are all classes — Chinamen, labourers, publicans, storekeepers, draymen, and settlers. With respect to you, John Clarke, I find that the offences charged against you within the last year, most of which were committed in company with your brother, amount to twenty-six robberies. Consider your position. This is the result of a long career of bushranging. You have had many abettors — you both must have had many abettors in the district from which you come; and I have no doubt there are others, blind as they are, who have sympathised with your crimes generally. I shall not waste words in respect of such crimes imputed to you. The community is disgraced by the committal of such crimes. I would ask others — and this I recommend you to reflect upon before you die — what is the result, what the value of this course of wickedness, violence, and outrage which you have been pursuing for so long? In all the cases which have come before me it has been a question — Where is the money they have gained? What is the benefit of it? You have not now a shilling in the world after all your robberies. You have not, therefore profited by your career of crime. I have not heard of anyone being a gainer by such a lawless course except one (Gardiner) who is now serving thirty-two years’ penal servitude. A criminal career must end sooner or later. How many lives are taken, how much misery inflicted — and all this for no earthly good accruing to one of you. All is to end ignominiously! You, young men, might have pursued a very different career. You might have been the fathers of respectable families, happy — for happiness is to be found in the circle of home, made home, by honest industry. Instead of that you are to die a dishonoured death, in your young days, on the gallows. There is another consideration. You must have expected that, after you had taken to firearms and robbery the result must have been death. It is shocking to think of — infamous that you, should continue such a career. Those who pursue this course must not only reflect that there is a public shame hanging over them, but that they gain nothing by their robberies. You must have been constantly in terror — always in a state of alarm lest the police tracked you out. And the hard life you must lead. I am not willing to embitter your feelings; but what I am now saying may not be heard by this crowded Court, but I have a hope that other ears may hear me and be prevented from entering on a career similar to yours. I say men like you must be in constant fear of the police entering your dwellings when you have one, and hence you wander about like wild beasts, and undergo an amount of fatigue and privation more severe than that imposed on any labourer, and which, if directed to its proper channel, would bring you peace of mind, would more than furnish you with the comforts of this life. Take this into consideration, and you will admit that the balance must be against you. Tell me, where is the man you have ever heard of, who, by a course of bushranging, has gained a shilling’s worth of property he can call his own. If liberated tomorrow where are their gains? I will read you a list of bushrangers who have appeared during the last four years and a half, all of whom have been either shot dead, or hanged, or imprisoned for life — a list almost of demons. There was Peisley, he was executed. Davis, sentenced to death, but commuted to fifteen years. Gardiner, sentenced to thirty two years. Gilbert, shot dead. Ben Hall, shot dead. Bow and Fordyce, sentenced to death, commuted to imprisonment for life. Manns, executed. Vane, ten years. O’Mealley, shot dead. Burke, shot dead. Gordon, Ben Hall’s mate, sentenced to fifteen years. Dunleavy, the same. Dunn, executed. Lowry, shot dead. Foley, sentenced to fifteen years. Morgan, shot dead. Yourself, Thomas Clarke, and you John Clarke, about to be sentenced to be hanged. Fletcher, shot dead, Pat Connell, a mate and relation of yours Thomas Clarke, shot dead. Tom Connell, another relation, sentenced to death, but commuted to penal servitude for life; and Bill Scott, a mate of yours, believed to have been murdered. How many widows, how many orphans, how much property is lost by the career of these men? I have a list here which shows that since June, 1864, seven persons, mostly police, were killed, and sixteen policemen wounded — all within three years. Much as I have had to do with criminals, I do not know that there is anything in the world so abhorrent as the sympathy which has been expressed for this class of highway robbers — the scum of the earth, the lowest of the low — they have been held up as heroes worthy of example. But better days are coming. It was the convict element that was still working, that caused the sympathy I am alluding to. Yes, a brighter day is coming. You will not live to see it, for your days are numbered. A better and a healthier feeling is rising and pervading all classes. There will be no longer this vile sympathy which has hitherto so much disgraced us. It is shocking when I think of it. It pains me. It humiliates me when I reflect upon it. But two or three years ago one, a young man, the head and front of bushranging amongst us, was in the dock where you now stand, and was acquitted wrongfully — I say wrongfully acquitted. And there was rejoicing in this court, such an exhibition as would disgrace the vilest country on earth; but I am happy to say such days are gone. If there are any in this court now who participated in that unseemly exhibition, they live now to see their shame. I am grieved that two young men like you are to receive the last sentence of the law — that you are to pass away from a country which, by honest industry, you might have assisted to raise in the estimation of the world, but from which you pass after disgracing it.

His HONOR then, with much solemnity, pronounced the awful sentence of death upon the prisoners, who were then received by the gaolers to the condemned cells.

The prisoners remained apparently unconcerned at their fate. An elderly woman, said to be Mrs Clarke, stood near the dock, and her feelings can be better imagined than described to see her two sons conducted to their last habitation in this world.

The Court which had been orderly throughout the day, adjourned at 11:30 p.m.