BUSHRANGER; - those who abandoned social rights and privileges to take up "robbery under arms" as a way of life, using the bush as their base.

"The reminiscences of the bushranging days have a sort of a fascination that seems to stir the blood in people, and, as a rule, brings about a lot of controversy." - CLARENCE PAGET BAYLY.

From the 1850s to the 1880s, bushranging was at its height in Australia akin to America's wild-west. Easy money was the go on the end of a gun. Desperadoes such as Jesse James, Butch Cassidy, Billy the Kid etc., unknowingly followed in the footsteps of Australia's Ben Hall, Frank Gardiner, Johnny Gilbert, John O'Meally, Daniel Morgan, Captain Thunderbolt etc. and later Jesse James contemporary, Ned Kelly. Ben Hall had his own Robert (Bob) Ford - betrayed for blood money by Mick Coneley.

The diligence and persistence of the lawmen, such as America's Pat Garrett, Wyatt Earp etc. Australia's Sir Frederick Pottinger, Inspector Davidson, Superintendent Morrisset, Sergeant Condell and Trooper William 'Billy' Dargin, and American-born Constable William Hollister. Should be commended for their tireless efforts in hunting them down...

Australian Bushrangers - A "Shot" Above The Rest
From left to right: Henry Manns (hanged), Alex Fordyce (Sentenced to death commuted to life), John Gilbert (shot dead), Frank Gardiner (exiled to the USA), Daniel Charters (informer), John Bow (Sentenced to death commuted to life), Ben Hall (shot dead); Sitting: John O'Meally (shot dead)
"we came upon two horses hobbled in the scrub, about twelve miles from Forbes, near Billibong Creek. We watched the horses for about half-an hour, when we saw a man approach who caught the horses. He passed close by where we were standing. He caught the horses and led them away about 100 yards. This was about 10 o'clock in the evening. We did not recognise the man. He took the horses about 100 yards, and hobbled them again. Shortly after, a tracker, Billy Dargan, informed me that he heard the man he saw lead away the horses making a noise among the dead leaves, as though he was preparing a bed for himself. I then placed five of the men in my charge where we were standing, and went with sergeant Condell and Billy Dargan on the other side of the man, with the intention of attacking him in his camp should we discover, that he was Ben Hall. We could not get within 100 yards of the man, in consequence of his horse snorting at our approach. I then determined to wait until daybreak..."
Inspector James Henry Davidson, 
Police Report, Forbes, Saturday, May 12th 1865

"I ran after him a considerable distance, calling on him to stand, several times, gradually gaining on him, and when within about forty yards, fired. The shot taking effect in the left shoulder, he looked around. I thought with the intention of firing at me, I put up the gun again to fire but did not. Condell and Dargin then fired two shots each which seemed to have a slight effect. The four men and Charley now showed up. Hall, seeing them, turned to the right and made for a small clump of saplings on the plain. He still had the revolver in his hand. He caught a sapling with his left hand with the intention of trying to shoot round it. This he continued to hold until he fell. At this time I noticed Hipkiss firing with a revolving rifle, the bullet from which struck Hall on the belt and cut it, his revolver falling to the ground. Hall then seemed to be badly hit and appeared to me to be about to fall. At this time the whole of the remaining shots were fired; he fell back saying “I am wounded, I am dying, shoot me dead” and after a few convulsive shudders he moved no more..."
Inspector James Henry Davidson, 
Police Report, Forbes, Saturday, May 12th 1865

"not yet 25 years of age, the iron entered the soul of Ben Hall, he sought forgetfulness in reckless excitement, and joined Gilbert and O'Meally in a series of highway robberies unparalleled in the annals of New South Wales history..." 

"on examining the body, it was seen that he had received about thirty bullets, two of which passed through the brain. On his person they found three loaded revolvers, £70 in cash, three gold chains, and the miniature of a female..."

Illustrated Sydney News
Tuesday, 16 May 1865

"At 10 a.m. I was met in the street by Mr ---, and asked in an under tone if I had heard the news. I answered no, and inquired what it was. He replied-Ben Hall is shot, and his body is now in the Police Barracks. I said, why tell me by way of a secret, if the thing is so notorious. Oh, said my friend, it is true, but the police don't like to speak of it. I desired to satisfy myself, and at once started for the barracks. As I entered, I saw the clothes of the ill-fated man in the outward room. The hat, which was a low crown felt, was perforated on all sides, more particularly the part that covered the forehead: the coat riddled, more especially the left side and shoulder: there were numerous wounds on the body and one leg, as I ascertained immediately after, when I removed the cover from off the body. Hall, when I saw him in death, appeared to be thirty-seven years of age, fleshy, yet very much bronzed, with long neglected beard; the countenance languid, and free from anything repulsive, such as we expect to find in one who openly violates the law, and defies the officers of justice. I heard several versions of the encounter and death, as well as discussions on the whole affair, which I wish to give you as plainly as possible. From what I then gathered, it was made to appear that Hall had been sold by one in whom he trusted..."
The Sydney Morning Herald
Saturday 13th May 1865 

"I suppose that four or five hundred persons visited the barracks, and I saw several females among the crowd. After the enquiry several parties availed themselves of an opportunity to get a lock of the bushranger's hair. His body was lying upon a stretcher in the south-west corner room of the building appropriated to the foot police. There was nothing forbidding in the countenance of Ben Hall, as he lay there still in death. In fact I heard the remark made several times, during the moment I was in the room, "What a handsome, face." He appeared to be a young man about twenty-eight, finely made, excellent features, lofty forehead, and fine brown hair. His whiskers and moustache were cut quite close and of a much lighter colour than the hair on his head. I heard many make the remark, "I have often seen that face somewhere, but cannot tell where." I have myself seen the face, but have no idea when and where..."

The Western Examiner 
18th May 1865

A BUSHRANGERS FUNERAL. A recording of the burial of Ben Hall as written by an eyewitness.

Recorded from The Newcastle Chronicle and Hunter River District News
Wednesday, 17th May 1865

"Bad as his life was, there was much that was good in him, which, with reasonable good fortune, would have led him to affluence and good repute."
-William Freame

This website is designed, researched and written by Mark Matthews. It may alter with updated information and research as it comes to hand.


  1. Great site maybe something that I can get into in my retirement

  2. Very interesting website. Loved reading about our historic rangers. Thanks for putting time and effort into researching this great character of Australian history.

  3. This is such a great website. I was able to discover the nephew of the wife of the uncle of the wife of the 3rd great grand uncle of my son (Patrick Daley), and the first cousin of the wife of his 3rd great grand uncle (John O'Meally). I only went looking for his first cousin 4 times removed (Edward Prior). I had no idea!
    Thank you!

  4. very good info

  5. Great work. A fabulous resource. Thank you for your passion and love of bushrangers.