A. L. (Arthur Lincoln) Haydon.

The trooper police of Australia; a record of mounted police work in the commonwealth from the earliest days of settlement to the present time online

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Online LibraryA. L. (Arthur Lincoln) HaydonThe trooper police of Australia; a record of mounted police work in the commonwealth from the earliest days of settlement to the present time → online text (page 14 of 32)
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the Chinaman was overpowered and disarmed. He was
executed some months later, at Bathurst.

Thomas and John Clarke, of Manaro, near Braidwood,
found the path to crime an easy one. They came of a
criminal family, and were brought up in a criminal atmo-
sphere. Beginning with commonplace " cattle duffing," they
soon advanced to highway robbery. A third brother, James,
was early suspected of complicity with Ben Hall's gang, and
was eventually sentenced to a long term of penal servitude.
Thanks to this turn of fate he probably saved his neck, for



there is little reason to doubt that had he not been " lagged,"
he would have joined his brothers hi their career.

To retail the several exploits of Thomas and John Clarke
is beyond the compass of this chapter. Highway robbery
and the " sticking up " of stations followed each other in quick
succession, making a lengthy list of crimes. At times both
men were associated with a relative named Connell and
another man, Fletcher, but many of their deeds were per-
formed without the aid of these supporters. Owing to
their wide circle of friends, so many of whom were themselves
not above suspicion, the Clarkes were constantly kept in-
formed of the movements of the police, so that the latter were
for a long time baffled in their endeavours to come to close

In April of 1866 the murder of Constable Miles O'Grady,
of Nerrigundah, brought sentence of outlawry upon Thomas
Clarke and Connell. The four bushrangers had attempted
to raid the township, when O'Grady and another trooper
(the sole police in the place) sallied out to meet them. In
the affray Fletcher was shot by O'Grady, but the constable
paid dearly for his devotion to duty. As he and his mate
fell back down the open street to seek cover he received a
mortal wound from the elder Clarke's rifle. The bush-
rangers then jumped on then* horses and fled the town,
leaving one of their number dead behind them.

Recognising the great difficulties with which they had
to contend, especially the prevalence of " bush telegraphs "
and harbourers, the authorities at last determined on a bold
plan to checkmate the outlaws. They accordingly enrolled
as special constables four men who were peculiarly fitted for
the work in hand. Two of them at least knew the country
well, and one had had intimate dealings with the Clarke



family. These four men were John Carrol, a warder in
Darlinghurst Gaol, Sydney, and an ex-trooper ; Patrick
Kennagh and ^neas McDonnell, both ex-warders ; and
John Phegan. Under pretence of surveying the party com-
menced to spy out the land in the neighbourhood of the
Clarke homestead, but the disguise could not be long main-
tained. The bushrangers, suspicious of the new-comers,
attacked them one night, and thereafter Carrol and his
companions openly avowed their business.

For three months the special constables gave the gang no
rest, their knowledge of the bush and the ranges making them
formidable enemies. Then came the final tragedy. On a
night in January of 1867, the little party was surprised in the
scrub near the Jinden station,]in the Braidwood district, and
every man was shot down. Their bodies were found some
days after by a stockman, while rounding up cattle. The
dastardly murder two of the poor fellows had been shot
kneeling, having apparently surrendered aroused intense
indignation and the Government immediately offered a re-
ward of 5,000 for the capture of all concerned in the crime. 1
Furthermore, an extra body of police was drafted into the
district, so that the ground should be well covered. From
Goulburn and other centres came Sub-Inspectors Brennan
and Stephenson, old hands at bush work, and with them some
picked black trackers.

While at the end of 1866 the Clarke gang had increased in
numbers to five or six, early in 1867 it was known to be re-
duced to three men the two brothers and one William
Scott. Other members had been killed or captured. By

1 This was the highest amount offered by a State Government for the
apprehension of bushrangers. In the case of the Kelly gang, for whose
capture 8,000 was offered, both New South Wales and Victoria contributed
to the reward.



this time the bush was literally " alive with police " ;
the hunted men were continually being driven to change
their quarters. The day of the Clarkes and it had been
a long day was nearing its end. Towards the close of
April a party of mounted police consisting of Senior-Constable
Wright, and Troopers Walsh, Lenehan, Wright and Egan,
got upon the trail of the bushrangers. With them, also, was
a famous black tracker, named Sir Watkin Wynne, through
whose acuteness chiefly they had been so successful.

Late on the evening of the 27th, a Saturday, they reached
a hut in a paddock near the Jingera range, not far distant
from where Carrol and the other special constables had been
murdered. It was soon discovered that the wanted men
were inside, further proof being afforded by the presence of
two fine horses tethered near by. These animals were now
secured by Walsh, while the rest of the police took cover
behind a haystack. At daybreak the Clarkes came out
from the hut, and missing the horses guessed some danger
was nigh. They immediately turned back to their shelter,
but the police were in time to send a volley after them, wound-
ing John Clarke. From the hut, the loose slabs of which pro-
vided loopholes for their rifles, the brothers kept up a hot
fire. Constable Walsh and Sir Watkin were now both hit,
the latter in the arm. 1 The bushrangers, however, realised
that the game was up, and when the troopers rushed the
hut they surrendered and submitted to be handcuffed. The
party then retraced their steps to Ballalaba, the nearest
township, whence the prisoners were in time transferred
to Braidwood Gaol.

1 The black tracker's wound proved to be so severe as to necessitate the
amputation of his arm. This operation he bore with the stoical indifference
to pain that is associated with savage races. He was promoted to the
rank of sergeant-major for his services in capturing the Clarkes, and in
after years rendered much valuable assistance to the force.



After being tried at the Central Criminal Court in
Sydney, in May, the Clarkes were sentenced to death, and
were executed on the 25th of the following month. Of
their associates two had been shot dead by the police, and
another, Tom Connell, sent to penal servitude for life.
The fate of Scott was never satisfactorily cleared up, but it
has always been assumed that he was murdered by the
brothers, who perhaps feared that he would turn informer.

The bushranger who masqueraded under the picturesque
cognomen of " Captain Thunderbolt " was a native of
Windsor, New South Wales, and an ex-convict who had
escaped from Cockatoo Island. At the time Ward took to
the road he was twenty-seven and, in addition to being a man
of exceptional strength and daring, was a splendid horseman.
With a mount of racehorse breed he was more than a match
for any policeman who came hi sight of him. What was
almost of equal importance, he possessed an intimate
knowledge of the hill country in which he made his re-

The northern district was Thunderbolt's field of opera-
tions. By " sticking up " the Warialda mail he soon gave no-
tice that a new highwayman had appeared, and ere many days
had elapsed several other robberies were put to his account.
At various times subsequently Thunderbolt was aided by
youths whom the excitement of bushranging drew from other
employment. One of these, a mere boy named Thompson,
was but sixteen when he was shot by the police in an en-
counter. Of the same age, too, was young Mason, another
of his companions. This lad was arrested early in his new
career, but it was too late to save him from a life of crime.
He was released from prison only to be sentenced again and

177 N


On several occasions during his raids Thunderbolt came
into close contact with the mounted police. By his fine
horsemanship, however, he was always able to show a clean
pair of heels, so that for six years he pursued his calling
without any serious check. The inevitable reckoning
arrived in 1870. In May of that year he was engaged in
" sticking up " a hostelry a few miles out of Uralla when
intelligence of his whereabouts was conveyed to the police.
The officer in charge at the township, Senior-Constable
Mulhall, rode out to try conclusions with the bushranger,
instructing Trooper Walker to follow as quickly as possible.
Mulhall found Thunderbolt, as his informant had stated,
at the inn, but on firing his revolver his horse took fright
and bolted with him back along the road to Uralla.

The rest of the story belongs to Trooper A. B. Walker.
On meeting his comrade and learning that Thunderbolt with
a mate were just ahead he pushed on and saw the two men
part company. Judging rightly that the one who turned
into the bush was the " Captain," Walker spurred after him,
being met with a revolver bullet on the way. Mulhall,
meanwhile, followed the other man, who took another direc-
tion. Thunderbolt now made an attempt to regain the
high road, but this move the trooper thwarted, driving his
quarry down a gully leading to the Rocky River. Reach-
ing a deep pool the bushranger left his horse and plunged
into the water, evidently expecting his pursuer to follow
him. But the trooper was no novice. He had no intention
of allowing the other to outwit him by doubling back to
his horse. He promptly shot the animal and then made a
dash along the bank to a spot where he could cut off his man.

Face to face across a narrow strip of water policeman and
bushranger met for the final struggle. The spot was a wild



and lonely one, the pool being surrounded by granite rocks,
beyond which the thick scrub ran up the hillside.

Thunderbolt was the first to speak. " Who the blazes
are you ? " he asked, allowing for some modification of terms.

"Nevermind who I am, "answered the trooper, who was
in rough bush dress. " Put your hands up and surrender."

" Are you a policeman ? " was the next question.

" Yes, I am," said Walker, again calling on the other to
yield himself prisoner.

" Are you married ? " asked Thunderbolt.

The trooper replied that he was, adding that he had
considered that before he came there.

" Then you had better .think of your family," said the
bushranger, grimly.

"I've thought of them," said Walker. "Now, will
you surrender ? "

" No, I won't," returned the other, " I'll die first ! "

"It's you or I for it, then," cried Walker, and he forced
his horse into the water.

Thunderbolt at this drew his revolver and fired point
blank at the trooper, but by good fortune his shots missed
their mark, Walker's horse having stumbled as it went down
the bank. The bushranger next rushed into the pool and
the two men engaged in a fierce hand to hand tussle. As
they swayed together in the water Walker got in a shot at
close quarters, wounding his opponent severely and making
him loosen his grip for the moment. Then, holding the
empty weapon by the barrel, he clubbed the other over the
head with it repeatedly, until Thunderbolt fell back and
sank. Walker dismounted, dragged him up, and laid the
bushranger on the bank, believing him to be already dead.
He then returned to the inn for assistance, a party setting



out some hours later to bring in the body. To every one's
astonishment it had disappeared, but the wounded bush-
ranger was found not far off in the bushes, whither he had
dragged himself. Too weak to stand, he was carried in a
cart to Uralla and there, almost immediately after arrival,
he expired.

For his gallantry in this encounter Trooper Walker
gained instant promotion, besides receiving the substantial
reward of 200 that had been offered by the authorities.
He later rose to be Superintendent, being placed in charge
of the Goulburn district, and is to-day the senior officer
holding that rank. It may be added that the man seen in
Thunderbolt's company proved to be a drover whom he
had bailed up and whose horse he was trying at the moment
that the police came upon the scene. His own steed,
a thoroughbred, he had left standing by the inn.

In the story of Frederic Ward's career, stained as it
was with many black crimes, it is pleasing to find one re-
deeming feature. For several years before his death he was
accompanied and assisted by a half-caste woman to whom
he was greatly attached. In all his vicissitudes he remained
faithful to her, and when at last she fell ill he found a resting
place for her at no little risk to himself. Such cases of grati-
tude are rare in the records of bushranging. One recalls by
way of contrast the fate of Howe's paramour, Black Mary,
treacherously fired upon by the man for whom she had given
up all. Ward's loyalty to his mistress may be placed un-
grudgingly to his credit account.

As has been seen New South Wales saw the birth of
bushranging and suffered severely through it, but it must not
be assumed that the other parts of Australia escaped being
afflicted with the same pest. Victoria, Queensland, and



South Australia, each had its own highwaymen of more or
less fame, and something may be said of these gentry in deal-
ing later with these colonies. In Victoria, particularly,
bushranging came to be practised on a grand scale that
eclipsed anything that had gone before ; the Kelly gang of
the seventies put Gardiner and his contemporaries in the
shade by the extent of their depredations. Before the
Kellys, however, Victoria had Captain Melville and Power,
to mention two of the best-known outlaws, and a few
notes about the former may be given here.

Frank McCallum, who posed to the world as " Captain
Melville," was a runaway convict from Van Diemen's Land.
In the " roaring fifties " he made a daring escape from the
penal settlement to Victoria, where he mingled with the
motley horde of miners at the Ballarat diggings. This was
early in 1852. Before the year was out he had abandoned
pick and shovel for " the road," taking a kindred spirit with
him to work in the Geelong district. One of the daring
escapades recorded of him at this time was the " sticking up "
of a station on which were eighteen men. By force of arms
Melville and his mate herded the whole of the company into
a wool shed, whence they were summoned one by one to
be tied to a fence.

For some months after the colony had little to talk about
save the bushranger's exploits. But his daring and bravado
led to Melville's undoing before he could quite realise his
ambition to become another Claude Duval. While in
Geelong for a few days' recreation he was indiscreet enough
to boast of his identity, and some one overhearing him
gave information to the police. A party of troopers at
once proceeded to the house where he was located. On the
alarm being given Melville jumped from a window and ran for



his life, eluding the police for the time. He was arrested
soon after while endeavouring to steal a horse from a young
man whom he'met in the street, was promptly gaoled, and
subsequently sentenced to thirty-two years' imprisonment.
| While in the hulks at Williamstown, Melville headed a
desperate attempt to escape, two warders being killed by the
convicts. All the latter were recaptured and the leaders
sentenced to death. For some technical reason the extreme
penalty was not exacted, but Melville was determined not
to endure longer the rigours of the chain gang. In No-
vember 1856 he put an end to his life by strangling himself
in his cell. In a brief memoir of this Victorian character
it is recorded that during one prison term he whiled away the
time by translating the Bible into an aboriginal dialect
with which he was familiar.. In earlier days he had lived
for a considerable period with a tribe in the interior. Of
that portion of his life nothing is known, but what interest-
ing story lay behind one may conjecture.

With the capture of the " Moonlight " gang of bush-
rangers we may bring this chapter of colonial history to a
close. Captain Moonlight, the leader, was an Irishman
curiously named Scott, who emigrated to Victoria via New
Zealand. After some minor robberies he openly took to the
highway with five associates, among whom were two youths,
Rogan and Nesbit. The first operations of the gang were in
Victoria, but in time they crossed the border into New
South Wales. Their rashness, as was conversely the case
with Morgan, cost them dearly.

One November evening they proceeded to " stick up " the
Macdonald station at Wantabadgery, on the Murrumbidgee
River. Some twenty or more people were here kept prisoners
while the bushrangers raided the place, and in the course



of a few hours the number was increased to thirty-five as
fresh victims were brought in. By a lucky chance one
station hand, named Alexander Macdonald, got away on a
horse and notified the Wagga Wagga police of what was
happening. Four mounted men thereupon set off for
Wantabadgery, where they found the gang still in posses-
sion. The troopers now waited for a reinforcement of
five men from Gundagai station and then advanced to the

When the affray commenced, it is said, quite three hun-
dred people from the surrounding district had assembled to
witness the fighting. The first honours fell to the police, but
soon afterwards Trooper Bowen was shot, almost at the
moment that he wounded a second bushranger. A third
man was hit by Trooper Carroll, and some little time later
Moonlight and his companions surrendered. It was found
that Nesbit had been shot dead, while another man was
so badly hurt that he subsequently died. On the police
side the one casualty was Trooper Bowen, whose wound
proved mortal within a few days.

Moonlight and Rogan were condemned to death and
hung at Sydney, their surviving comrades being sent into
penal servitude for life. Constable Carroll and the other
troopers engaged in this notable capture were generously
awarded sums ranging from 50 to 100, while poor Bowen
was commemorated by a public monument. And so ended
as sensational an encounter between police and bush-
rangers as Australians had heard for many a long day,
an encounter, indeed, that was not forgotten until the sud-
den rise of the Kellys provided a new and all-absorbing
topic of conversation.




The Kelly Gang Constable Fitzpatrick attacked The tragedy at Stringy
Bark Creek Troopers Kennedy, Scanlan and Lonergan shot Escape
of Mclntyre The police hunt begins Hart and Byrne Proclamation
of outlawry At Euroa Robbery of the bank The raid on Jerilderie
" 8,000 Reward " Police officers in the field A chance missed
Sub-Inspector O'Connor The black trackers Hoaxing the police
Aaron Sherritt Superintendent Hare A trooper's pluck Murder
of Sherritt The Kellys at Glenrowan Superintendent Sadleir
Death of Byrne Ned Kelly captured Dan Kelly and Hart A Royal

PERHAPS no more dramatic figures are to be found in
the whole gallery of Australian bushrangers than
Ned and Dan Kelly, with their associates, Steve Hart and
Joe Byrne. Certainly none others have excited such wide-
spread interest or inspired so many writers. Quite a litera-
ture exists on the subject of their history, while to the present
day the Kelly drama, with some meretricious ornamenta-
tion, is enacted in all its terrible verisimilitude on stage and
bioscope for the edification of a younger generation. The
reason is not far to seek. For over two years the gang set
at defiance the government and police of two states, bringing
off several daring and successful coups, and they went
out at the last with something of a blaze of fireworks. In
some quarters, unfortunately, there has been a tendency
to glorify their exploits, to invest these common thieves and
cut-throats with a false glamour of romance. Such a ten-
dency is to be deplored. One does not willingly linger on



the sordid details of their crimes, but from a police point of
view it is important that the story of the Kellys should be
told at some length.

In 1878, when they first leapt into the public eye, the
Kellys were well-known to the police as habitual thieves.
It was a criminal family. The father had been a transported
felon ; the three sons, Ned, James and Dan, were all expert
cattle-duffers and horse " planters," and Ned was strongly
suspected of association with the bushranger Power, who
had been captured a few years back ; some of their relatives
were also interested hi the same lucrative industry. The
" Kelly country," by which was meant the north-eastern
part of Victoria in the vicinity of the Warby and Strathbogie
ranges, was notoriously unsafe to travel through with stock.
Cautious drovers went out of their way to avoid it. Many
hundreds of horses were stolen at various times by the gang,
and disposed of in the markets of Melbourne, Ballarat and
Geelong, or at some town across the border.

The second son ; James, disappeared from the family in
1876, when he fell into the clutches of the New South Wales
police for highway robbery. He had previously been con-
victed and was now sentenced to a term of ten years' im-
prisonment. The youngest of the trio, Dan, was wanted two
years later on no fewer than six charges of horse-stealing.
According to instructions, Constable Fitzpatrick of Benalla
proceeded to the Kellys' home at Greta to arrest the youth-
ful criminal, who was then but seventeen. Ned Kelly, it
may be said, was twenty-four.

The policeman found the object of his quest without
difficulty. Dan was at home and received the news of his
arrest calmly. He pleaded, however, that he had been out
all day without food, so Fitzpatrick consented to wait

-185 -


while he had a meal. In the meantime Mrs. Kelly asked to
see the warrant. " I haven't one," said the constable, " but
I've got a telegram which is just as good." Being invited
to sit down at the table, Fitzpatrick went inside the house,
or hut, for it was little better, and so played into their hands.

" If my son Ned was here you wouldn't take Dan,"
said the mother. " He'd throw you out of the window."

Dan suddenly got up. " Why, here is Ned," he ex-
claimed. Then, as Fitzpatrick turned around to look, he
flung himself on the constable, while Mrs. Kelly struck
the latter on the helmet with a spade that was being used
as a fire shovel. At the sound of the scuffle in rushed Ned
Kelly and two other men, one of them his brother-in-law,
William Skillian, and the other a man named Williams.
Both the latter joined in the fray. Ned had a revolver
in his hand, and with this he suddenly fired at Fitzpatrick
wounding him in the wrist. Affecting to be sorry for this,
because he had not recognised the policeman, whom he knew,
Ned helped to extract the bullet and to bind up the wound.
He then warned the other not to tell how the injury came
about and eventually allowed him to ride back to Benalla.

Fitzpatrick gave his version of the affair to his superior
and on the next day Mrs. Kelly, Skillian and Williams were
arrested. All three were sent to gaol for varying terms.
Ned and Dan Kelly, however, were nowhere to be seen, and
the troopers searched the neighbouring bush without avail.
As a precautionary measure the police made several other
arrests of persons suspected of complicity with the wanted
men, in the hope of putting a check upon " bush telegraphs."
But the Kellys' friends were too numerous ; the police net
was not thrown far enough.

The Fitzpatrick incident occurred in April 1878. For


six months, although a reward of 100 was offered for their
capture, the two Kellys remained at large in the bush,
during which period they were believed to have taken part
in some highway robberies that were committed. Then, in
October, the colony was startled by the news of a terrible
tragedy in the Wombat Ranges, where the brothers, with
two confederates, had pitched their camp. A police party
of four men had been surprised by the gang and three of
the troopers shot dead.

It was from Trooper T. Mclntyre, the survivor, that the
story of the affair was gleaned. With Sergeant Kennedy and
Constables Scanlan and Lonergan, he had been sent out
from Mansfield to search the ranges at the head of the King

Online LibraryA. L. (Arthur Lincoln) HaydonThe trooper police of Australia; a record of mounted police work in the commonwealth from the earliest days of settlement to the present time → online text (page 14 of 32)