xenith: (Bookshelf)
I'm interested in how the Australian bushranger "legend" draws on earlier influences. There's a few things going on here. First the, well I don't want to call it a code because that suggests something formal, but the idea that keeps coming up from the earliest years that there's a form of appropriate behaviour that includes avoiding unnecessary violence, treating woman appropriately and then dying game. And then the whole romanticisation thing. Easy to assume that happens after someone dies, because that's the way things work but if you did so, you'd be wrong.

Anyway, I read Dick Turpin: The Myth of the English Highwayman by James Sharpe. His argument is the highwayman as a romantic figure is primarily due to the book Rookwood by William Harrison Ainsworth, published in 1834, which features Dick Turpin as a gallant highwayman (who does the ride to York on his valiant black mare). This was followed by more books playing on that theme, by Ainsworth and others; toys by opportunistic toymakers and so on right through the century and beyond. He makes some good points, and it's easy enough to make up that influence coming through in the Australian scene, especially with the popularity of stories about bushrangers towards the end of the 19th century. But I think Sharpe's focus is too narrow, and he disregards influences prior to Ainsworth too easily. I shall read Graham Seal's book next, and then grumble about that being too broad :)

Anyway, it might be interesting to see the changing perceptions within the colonies, especially in the early decades. Give the above and tendency of people to embroider stories are they pass them on, it's important to pay attention to publication dates, and of course, there aren't a lot of sources from the period I'm interested.

Just to finish off, part of a letter by Donald McLeod, was published in the Colonial Times, 9 July 1830. Because of the length, I'll skip the middle paragraphs that detail the attack.


The strong degree of feeling that has been excited in favour of the five Bush-rangers, Morton, Cowden, Sainter, Laughton, and Stuart, who are erroneously stated to have absconded from my service, and the prejudice endeavoured to be excited against me and my family, on their account, induce me to offer to the Public the following statement of facts, as it cannot now be supposed lo have any influence either one way or other on their sentence, which must have been decided upon by His Excellency before this can be published.

(snippity snip)

I should like to know in what consists the great merit of these men as bush-rangers. Moles, Ashton, and their party, were much more humane when they robbed my house in June, 1828. Are they to be praised because the interference of a merciful Providence saved my family from their shot -for it is evident from the direction of the balls, that they intended to hurt us - or is the merit theirs, that the determined resistance we made prevented them getting into the house and committing robbery or murder as they chose?

Let those humane people who interest themselves so much about such characters place themselves in my situation, and(if they value their families) judge how they would feel disposed towards men acting as those men did to me.

- I am, Sir, your most obedient servant
5th July, 1830.


Mar. 29th, 2011 10:36 pm
xenith: (Moon behind trees)
What I'm doing

Let's see what I can do with Maggie. She married William Skilling/Skillion in 1873. They had two children. Then a few years her later, her husband is arrested and sent off to gaol for six years, and at the same time, her mother is also gaoled. So at 21, Maggie is left looking after her own children, her mother's young kids, and running the property; with the help of her teenage sisters. Of her adult brothers, one is in gaol and the other two get into trouble with the police. OK so the older one shoots some of them. So along with looking after the family, she takes on providing for her now-fugitive brothers, while avoiding the police and media.


And that is the last in my series, except for a summary post.

Footnotes )

Mary Ann

Mar. 22nd, 2011 02:28 pm
xenith: (Default)
What I'm doing

I am cheating here, but all I know of this lady is what I've read on other web pages and I don't see any point in regurgitating what other people have said better.

Of the many web pages about Mary Ann, the Wikipedia article does seem the most comprehensive. Althuogh the best thing to read would be The Captain’s Lady: Mary Ann Bugg written by Kali Bierens as an Honours thesis.

To add some content to my post, this is from Charles White's "History of Australian Bushranging, Volume 2"

One person knew all his secrets, sympathised in all his troubles, sheltered him, watched for him, and proved a faithful friend. That person was a woman, and it is questionable if ever bushranger had a 'mate' more serviceable or more devoted.

More )
And now, unless there is someone I have overlooked, I shall head south to see what I can do with someone is possibly the most interesting but has had relatively little attention. (And no, not Kate.)
xenith: (Moon behind trees)
I thought this would be easy. I could do a brief summary and then link to a web page. Of course that required finding a suitable web page. Ha ha.

So then I thought I'd just do a short post with the little that I already knew, and that would do. But first, it wouldn't hurt to have a quick run through the newspapers. And then I had to read through and "correct" each article, and then read through them again once I'd copied them to check for errors, weird formatting. So it's gone a bit long, but as I've had to read everything 2 or 3 times, I can assure you, it's interesting. With footnotes too.

So, to NSW in the 1860s.


I was undecided on whether to include Ellen. She married John McGuire, and lived "happily ever after". But it felt unbalanced to leave her out, and she does appear in various narratives as Maguire's wife or Mrs McGuire.

Ellen )


The second sister, Bridget, married one of her father's stockmen. It's her absence that matters, so isn't there much written about her as such, because she's not there to write about.

Bridget )


The youngest sister married John Brown. For all that's been written about Mrs Brown, not much has been said about her, in books.

I did find this, in a newspaper at the time everyone was talking about her:

Catherine Welsh, the wife of one Brown, a native of the colony, was born of humble but respectable parents, and is now nineteen years of age. Some years ago she came to Yass to be educated, and was a scholar at Mrs. Staniforth's school, remaining at one of the most respectable hotels in the town during that time. She left for home, and subsequently contracted marriage with Brown. Her late career is well known. We have been told that her father still lives, but that her mother died some eighteen months ago. 5

Kate )


Mar. 17th, 2011 08:53 pm
xenith: (Moon behind trees)
What I'm doing

A slight detour on the way to NSW. I found this account in the back of a book, of the capture of Captain Melville. So, Victoria 1852...

"Having had a good dinner at the Corio Street pub, Melville and hie mate, leaving their horses in the stable, strolled along past the police. station, down a cross street, and so to a cottage, at the door of which they knocked. Seemingly they had learned the open-sesame, three sharp raps and two slow ones, because the door opened at once, and a voice within bade them enter.

"In a small front parlour they were greeted by two ladies, to whom Captain Melville, ever courteous, bowed ceremoniously. These ladies were somewhat of a contrast. The fairer one was stout, and though not exactly plain, was certainly no Helen of Troy. She was about 30. The other was younger, slimmer, fairly dark, vivacious, and definitely attractive.

Read more... )
xenith: (Default)
If I put this here, I can link to it from the Sorell post :)

The township [of Sorell] then boasted of many houses, two hotels, a handsome church, the parsonage of the excellent Mr. Garrard, a "good gaol" and a schoolhouse. It was into such a populous and established neighbourhood that Brady, with Dunne, Bird, Murphy, and four others, dared to venture. Arriving at Mr. Bethune's house on the Friday evening, they took that gentleman, his overseer and servants, prisoners, and then made themselves comfortable for the night.

The next day was very wet, and the Bushrangers did not feel disposed to change their comfortable quarters. In the evening Mr. Walter Bethune and Captain Bunster rode up. Personating a servant, Brady came out and called for the groom to take Mr. Bethune's horse. When the gentlemen got inside they found themselves in the hands of the Philistines. But Brady at once allayed their fears, ordered dinner for them, and behaved with courtesy and respect. In the course of conversation at table, a remark was made about Brady offering to yield to Government. He indignantly denied that he had thought of such a thing. It was afterwards astertained that some other party represented himself to be Brady, when rifling a house at Bagdad, and there gave information of the intention of the gang to surrender. The brigand chief said that no occasion at present existed for such a course; for, when hard pressed by pursuit, they could easily retire to a farm they had among the mountains, where they had an abundance of sheep, horses, cattle, flour, and other necessaries. In that secure and pleasant retreat they could take a spell until the excitement had passed.

When it was about ten o'clock on the Saturday night, Brady announced to his friends his resolution to attack Sorell Gaol, and liberate some acquaintances. The two Bethunes were tied, as well as the other inmates, and the whole, eighteen in number, were marched in solemn and silent procession towards the town. Most opportunely for the eight Bushrangers, they arrived at a moment when least expected, and when, in fact, a party of soldiers within were cleaning out their guns. The military, under the command of Lieutenant Gunn, had been out all day looking for the very men who had thus civilly placed themselves in gaol--to make them prisoners. The arms were secured, and the warriors and civilians securely locked up in a cell from which the prisoners had just been released.

Mr. Long, the gaoler, was in his house adjoining the lock-up; and directly he saw how things stood, he made his escape over the wall, and ran off for Lieutenant Gunn, who was then staying with Dr. Garrett. Catching up their double-barrelled guns, they made for the town. The magistrate hurried too much, and fell into the hands of the Bushrangers, who broke his gun, and placed him with the others in the cell. Two of the robbers stood in the path of Mr. Gunn. He raised his fowling piece, but at that instant a shot shattered his arm above his elbow. When the rascals left the scene of their triumph, they placed against the door of the gaol a log ornamented with a coat and hat, to resemble a sentinel. The enterprizing and brave Gunn was brought to town, and suffered amputation of his arm. The Government rewarded his zeal with a pension of £70 a year, and the honourable post of Superintendent of the Hobart Town Prisoners' Barracks.

From James Bonwicks's The bushrangers: illustrating the early days of Van Diemen's Land , the original edition of which is actually available on Google Books
xenith: (Default)
No idea what I originally got this from, but in the spirit of avoiding the work I should actually be doing, I shall share it

The Ballad of Ben Hall's Gang

Come all ye wild colonials
And listen to my tale;
A story of bushrangers' deeds I will to you unveil.
Tis of those gallant heroes,
Game fighters one and all;
And we'll sit and sing,
Long Live the King,
Dunn,Gilbert, and Ben Hall.

Ben Hall he was a squatter bloke
Who owned a thousand head;
A peaceful man he was until
Arrested by Sir Fred.
His home burned down, his wife cleared out,
His cattle perished all;
"They'll not take me a second time,'
Says valiant Ben Hall.

John Gilbert was a flash cove,
And John O'Meally too;
With Ben and Bourke and Johnny Vane
They all were comrades true.
They rode into Canowindra
And gave a public ball.
'Roll up, roll up, and have a spree,'
Says Gilbert and Ben Hall.

They took possession of the town,
Including the public-houses,
And treated all the cockatoos
And shouted for their spouses.
They danced with all the pretty girls
And held a carnival.
'We don't hurt them who don't hurt us,'
Says Gilbert and Ben Hall.

They made a raid on Bathurst,
The pace was getting hot;
But Johnny Vane surrendered
After Micky Burke was shot,
O'Meally at Goimbla
like a hero fall;
'The game is getting lively,'
Says John Gilbert and Ben Hall.

Then Gilbert took a holiday,
Ben Hall got new recruits;
The Old Man and Dunleavy
Shared in the plunder's fruits.
Dunleavy he surrendered
And they jagged the Old Man tall -
So Johnny Gilbert came again
To help his mate Ben Hall.

John Dunn he was a jockey bloke,
A-riding all the winners,
Until he joined Hall's gang to rob
The publicans and sinners;
And many a time the Royal Mail
Bailed up at John Dunn's call.
A thousand pounds is on their heads -
Dunn, Gilbert, and Ben Hall.

'Next week we'll visit Goulburn
And clean the banks out there;
So if you see the troopers,
Just tell them to beware;
Some day to Sydney city
We mean to pay a call,
And we'll take the whole damn country,'
Says Dunn, Gilbert, and Ben Hall.


Dec. 6th, 2009 06:36 pm
xenith: (Steps)
Last Tuesday we visited Somercotes, an old farming property near Ross.

Now what makes this place worth posting about: it's not a house museum, it's a working farm with an assortment of outbuildings and an old homestead they're trying to maintain. So it has some rather interesting features.


I did completely forget to get a photo of the whole house but there is one here or an older one. If you've ever been down to Hobart, you've probably seen it in the middle of a paddock just after the second turn off to Ross. Unless you are looking at the other side of the road.

The estate was established by Captain Horton back in 1823, which is of course, a Long Time Ago. The focus then was on establishing the farm buildings and the house was constructed later, sometime before 1842.

Interestings bits to do with house )

Interesting bits to do with other buildings )
xenith: (Railway)
Last day, and plane leaves at 12.25 pm. Plan to get there half an hour beforehand. Allow half an hour for the Sky Bus. So I have to leave the city somewhere between 11 and 11.30.

That leaves time for one last quick visit.

Before I left, I made a point of checking online for any little museums and things in Melbourne. That is how I found the Chinese one. There were a couple of places I either didn't feel inclined to visit or they were too far out of the city centre. This is one that didn't come up though.


The Lots of Glass and Reflections Museum The Victoria Police Museum. I came across a mention of it in one of my brochures. That was all. It did appear on the map I pulled out of the Melbourne in Winter booklet on Saturday and lost on Sunday, as being in the World Trade Centre. I did a Google search during one of those internet cafes visit and found out it was open Monday - Friday, at 10 am. Hmm. It is just around the corner from Spencer St Southern Cross station, where the bus to airport leaves from.

Oh, why not. )
xenith: (Railway)
By my reckoning, if I leave at 7.30 and it takes half an hour to walk over to the cemetery and half an hour back, then I'll still have plenty of time for breakfast and I can leave for the bus at 9.

Spot the flaw in this plan.

Burning Towers

No, it's not that it's still dark this early. (The photos are showing dark on this monitor. They show fine on my home computer so I forget that they are actually dark. I hope that hasn't been a problem.)

Yep. )
xenith: (Railway)
Part I

Town Hall

The morning tour was the Ned Kelly Tour, which I would have preferred in the afternoon, having had enough of the that the day before and at the courthouse. But such is life I'm tough, I can handle it. There's a whole three people in the group, not counting the guide, and for our first stop he takes us down behind the town hall.

You know the drill )
xenith: (Railway)
Somewhere in the early hours of the morning, a train woke me up. Although I tried to go back to the sleep, I didn't seem to be about to sleep for more than 10 or 20 minutes at a time, or the clock was broken. At 5.30 am I gave up and went for a walk.


Not that there was much to see at that time of the morning :)

More, but you knew that )


Jan. 27th, 2009 12:36 am
xenith: (Frigate)
Not having written anything on the topic all last year! and at the request of [livejournal.com profile] gillpolack, I'm doing a post on Matthew Brady, VDL bushranger.

Once I work out where to start.

Read more... )
xenith: (Default)
For [livejournal.com profile] buffysquirrel. The actual story is at the bottom. The rest is, well, how it would have appeared to readers of the newspaper.

Hobart Town Gazette, 18 January 1823

Wm. Davis and Ralph Churton, who made their escape in April last from a military guard, while being conveyed to town on a charge of sheep-stealing, were apprehended on Saturday last, in company with an absentee named Pearce, by a party of soldiers near Jericho, and were on Monday night, brought into town, and lodged in gaol. Davis was severely wounded.

Trial )

Hobart Town Gazette, July 23, 1824

EXECUTIONS - On Monday, Alexander Pearce for murder! and yesterday, John Butler, for sheep stealing, John Thompson, Patrick Connolly, James Tierney, and George Lacey, for burglary and highway robbery, were executed in this town pursuant to their sentence. Pearce's body was, after it had been suspended for the usual time, delivered at the Hospital for dissection.

We trust these awful and ignominious results of disobedience to law and humanity will act as a powerful caution; for blood must expiate blood! and the welfare of society imperatively requires, that all whose crimes are so confirmed, and systematic, as not to be redeemed by lenity, shall be pursued in vengeance and extirpated with death!

We have reason to expect that by next week, we shall, through the kindness of an esteemed Clergyman, be empowered to communicate some extensive information, of a very interesting kind, respecting the murdered Pearce.

Story )
xenith: (Eucalypt)
I'll provide these are a basis for any further discussion on the topic :)

From Graham Seal’s The Outlaw Legend: a cultural tradition in Britain, America and Australia. He looked at the outlaw hero tradition in Britain, America and Australia and identified ten common characteristics.

1. Robs from the rich to help the poor

There's a broad definition to rich & poor though. "Rich" could be some form of oppressor, "poor" a group suffering from some form of oppression/injustice. Sometimes it's just "robbing the rich" or getting revenge on authority.

2. Oppressed

Comes from the "poor", the oppressed group. Frequently, Seal says, from such groups who are also "deprived of political representation".

3. Driven to outlawry through no fault of his own

Usually starting off as a law-abiding citizen until an act of justifiable violence/vengeance, often to assist someone else, forces him outside the law.

For the next four, Seal says "in order to maintain the respect, sympathy and the active support of his own social group, the outlaw much adhere to, or at least be seen to adhere to, a relatively rigid set of guidelines. Some actions are appropriate, even laudable, while others are reprehensible and may not be countenanced if the outlaw is to become a hero".

4. Brave
5. Generous
6. Courteous
7. Does not indulge in unjustified violence

Brave can be boldness or daring, and includes "dying game". Courteous particularly applies to the treatment of women. Justified acts of vengeance and self defence can be permitted under the seventh. Put them all together though, and you get a particular moral code. The stereotypical "gentleman robber" even. The interesting bit about this is the bit of the quote "at least be seen to adhere to". There are obvious attempts on the part of some outlaws to make their public image match this code, even if their actions didn't. They obviously understood its importance.

8. Trickster

Daring & clever. This includes outwitting his pursuers or escaping once captured.

9. Betrayed

If captured, it's because a friend or someone they've turned to for aid has turned traitor.

10. Lives on after death

This can be either stories of still living after being killed, or living on in legends & ballads.
xenith: (Black Scales)
The outlaw hero is an interesting concept. Outlaw, operating (and of the 464 songs on the playlist on Winamp, 'Blaze of Glory' just came up) outside the law, a criminal, a thief, or even murderer. Isn't a hero the opposite?

It got a bit long )


xenith: (Default)

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