Ben Hall Pt 4

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

"Ben Hall! Stockman, Squatter, Bushranger, from these personas, his character has remained an enigma. From a man held in high regard by all who knew him to a man through his own actions became one of the most hunted in colonial history, and who would ultimately die a violent and bloody death at the hands of his pursuers."- Mark Matthews.

This website aims to provide a comprehensive, chronological account of Australian bushranger Ben Hall's calamitous life. Gathered through the accounts of eyewitnesses, former gang members, government documents, as well as the reproduction of historical newspaper and N.S.W. Police Gazette records of Ben Hall and his associates' bushranging activities. (All related articles incorporated into the narrative are coloured and transcribed as originally published.)

"Hall is the only one of  the three who cultivates any moustache or whiskers, and he is getting fat."

The 1863 Christmas period arrived, and Ben Hall's son Henry then five years old spent some weeks at William Hall's hut at the Pinnacle Range. The animosity between William, his wife Anne and Henry's mother Bridget was long-standing. However, whether by demand or an arrangement with Bridget, Henry would live with William during the festive time. Ben Hall left the field of conflict to enjoy his son's company. During the period up to the 22nd of January as Hall kept low at William's, however, many newspaper reports appeared regarding Hall's whereabouts at various towns and districts such as Braidwood, 320 km's from Forbes. All were sheer inventions. 'Braidwood Dispatch' January 2nd 1864:

BEN HALL, IN BRAIDWOOD:- On Thursday evening last a rumour gained currency, that the notorious knight of the road, Ben Hall, had been in Braidwood during the day. A person in the town who knew him in other, and no doubt, to him, happier days, is said to have recognised him at a public-house. There are, however, so many recognition of these outlaws taking place every day in various parts of the country that they are beginning not to "go down," and the cry of the wolf passes unheeded.

Note: In the years ahead, Henry would spend time residing with William at Parkes, NSW.

On the 2nd of January 1864, Mr and Mrs Campbell were lauded for their valiant defence and the shooting death of John O'Meally at their Goimbla  home in November 1863:

TESTIMONIAL TO MR. AND MRS. CAMPBELL, OF GOIMBLA.-The Lachlan correspondent of the Bathurst Times reports as follows:- A public meeting was held at the Court house on Friday, at three p.m., for the purpose of presenting to Mr. Campbell an address from the inhabitants of Forbes and the neighbourhood, expressive of admiration of his courage, and that of Mrs. Campbell, in successfully resisting the attack of the notorious bushrangers, Gilbert, Ben Hall, and O'Meally on the 20th November, when O'Meally was killed. About one hundred of the elite of the district were present.

1864 opened with a stream of newspaper reports about bushranging in general. Covering as far north as the New England tablelands. Where a new desperado, Fred Ward aka 'Captain Thunderbolt', was breaking out in the Glen Innes district continuing as far south as Albury, where the seasoned arch-fiend Daniel 'Mad Dog' Morgan loitered. Wagga Wagga Express headline January the 2nd 1864, covered a suspected attack upon a travelling female:

Reported Outrage by Morgan:- A painful rumour has reached us with reference to this miscreant to the following effect. Our informant states that a lady and gentleman (whose names we suppress for obvious reasons) travailing on horseback during the past week, left a station in the vicinity of Piney Range. They had not proceeded far when the gentleman discovered he had forgotten something, and returned to the station, requesting his companion to ride slowly on and he would overtake her. Having accomplished his errand, he proceeded on his way, but there was no trace of the lady, nor were any tidings obtained of her till the following morning when she reached her destination. She stated that a short time after her companion left her she was met by an armed man whom she described as Morgan, and he compelled her to go with him into the bush, and detained her at his camp all night, assaulting her in a brutal and revolting manner. He led her back to the road in the morning, and she then made her way home as quickly as possible. If this report be confirmed we shall surely hear no more of the chivalry of these scoundrels, and this arch ruffian Morgan wanted but this display of brutal lust to complete the execration in which he must be held. A further report has reached us that he has paid another visit to Dr Stitt's place, where it was stated they were prepared and armed to meet him, but he went there and met with no resistance, although we hear that a son of Dr Stitt's wished to take a gun and meet him, but was prevented from so doing. We have no further particulars.

However, as cruel and vindictive as Morgan was, it was generally thought that Morgan was not known to perpetrate acts of misconduct as far as women went. The above article is more than likely exaggerated or the actual villain unknown or not disclosed to save a ladies honour. On the 10th January the New South Wales government offered £500 reward for Morgan.

However, rumours reigned supreme in the country newspapers hinting of an alliance formed between Morgan, Hall and Gilbert. However, this was purely fictitious as there is no evidence to suggest that the two Lachlan bushrangers ever came into contact with Morgan. Gilbert, who could read well, kept abreast of the newspaper coverage of not only their antics but also other bushrangers of equal notoriety: 'The Courier' Wednesday 20th January 1864:

Gilbert and Ben Hall are said to have taken into partnership the ruffian Morgan, together with two others, and thus to have once more formed a strong band. But the news is doubted in priggo-commercial circles, where it is said that Gilbert would scorn the notion to associate with Morgan. 

While lying low at his brother's, Hall and John Gilbert separated. Gilbert disappeared from the scene and was reputed to have returned to Victoria to be amongst his family for the Christmas period. Gilbert would not appear again until early 1864.

However, Gilbert's whereabouts for many remained a mystery. Had Gilbert gone south? Had he and Ben Hall had a falling out? Whatever the circumstances the pair were not noted as together with reputedly Gilbert seen alone in late February in the town of Burrowa at a store. 'The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser' Tuesday 9th February 1864:

The Bushranger Gilbert.- A private letter from Burrowa states that on the evening of the 18th ultimo Gilbert went to a store, within a short distance of the Burrowa police station, and purchased (and paid for) some tobacco, and Crimean shirts, and other articles.

Gilbert may well have been in Maringo his former home and was well liked by all, especially amongst the young ladies of the district.

Another report on the reason for the separation was that the pair reputedly quarrelled once more over a woman resulting in Hall shooting Gilbert dead. Another belief that captured the imagination was that Hall had not had an altercation, but that Gilbert's revolver exploded while skylarking in front of female admirers. However, all was not as it seemed. Gilbert had not yet made a reappearance in Hall's company, thereby solidifying the rumours. 'The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser' Thursday 11th February 1864: 

Ben Hall And Gilbert.- The Marengo correspondent of the Yass Courier, writing on the 1st, says:- For some weeks past various rumours have been current as to the whereabouts or fate of Gilbert; some say that he is gone north, to what is called the new country, others that he and Hall had quarrelled about a woman, the rupture culminating in Hall pistolling Gilbert dead on the spot. But yesterday a settler told me for a fact, that Gilbert was not only dead but buried, and that he and Hall never quarrelled, for no one was more "cut up" at Gilbert's fate than Hall himself, and that Gilbert's death was purely accidental; for a while, he was what is vulgarly termed skylarking with the daughters of a settler not a hundred miles off, one of his numerous revolvers exploded, the contents entering his abdomen, and he would not allow a doctor to be sent for, saying "it was no use, as he knew it was a case;" so after lingering for ten or twelve hours, he died, and was buried "on the quiet.

Though all this point to a canard or a ruse by those local friends possibly to throw the police off:

A wet blanket to the ardour of the police, yet it is the general belief around here that something of the kind has occurred. One thing is certain, that, as far as highway robbery is concerned, Hall and Gilbert are now-in thieves vernacular-"pals no longer." 

However, in light of Happy Jack's absence whatever the situation a story surfaced in 1913 through the reminiscence of an old Lachlan local who highlighted that Jack was neither dead or an enemy of Hall's but that Gilbert had fallen ill. The local claimed that Gilbert had not ventured to Victoria but had retired to a favoured retreat of the gang. The wild confines of Bogan Gate northwest of Forbes surrounded by large stretches of rough country and hills. Such as Monumea Gap, Nelungaloo Range and Jemalong Range, also known as Garland Range.

These various interconnected ranges were part of a pencil-thin mountain range stretching from Carawandool State Forest at Back Creek, meandering north to Bogan Gate. All these ranges were littered with caves and ridges that provided good respite for Hall and Gilbert. The proximity to the surrounding stations, such as Bundaburrah, Billabong and Carrawobbity, and the town of Forbes including the Dog and Duck hotel of Hall's close friend Tom Higgins, a provider of both food and police information, enabled the bushrangers to resupply as required. Stories were also rumored that when the heat was on the bushrangers retired to the area to muster cattle in a helping hand to some graziers. 

However, as Hall enjoyed the company of his five year old son at the Pinnacle, Gilbert as per the old-timer supposedly headed further north 40 miles, where he recovered from a bout of Typhoid Fever under the care of a drover named Botfield. 'The Forbes Advocate' Friday 28th February 1913:

A BOTFIELD EPISODE. There is a little siding out on the Parkes to Bogan Gate railway line called Botfield, and when I was out that way a couple of weeks ago I little dreamt that the peaceful little railway siding was once the spot on which a great act of "man's humanity to man" was enacted. A drover named Botfield was taking a mob of sheep across that part of the country and coming to a creek that contained good water, he decided to camp to rest his mob. He camped on there for such a long time that people began to speak of it as Botfield's Creek. One day Gilbert, one of Ben Hall's gang, rode up to the camp, suffering from typhoid fever, and Mr and Mrs Botfield made a bunk under their wagon and nursed him right through his illness. The police often rode up making inquiries about the bushrangers and even went so far as to look under the wagon round which the tarpaulin was hung, but Botfield put them off by telling them that it was only a sick drover under there.

On Gilbert's whereabouts a correspondent while canvassing the trail had it indicated to him that Gilbert had indeed gone north:

Sydney, MARENGO. [FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT.] MARCH 22 1864. — for some days past. I have been making minute enquiries respecting Gilbert, and that among parties who are, I know, au fait as to the whereabouts of the youthful desperado; and the result is that the ex-highwayman—for he intends crying "stand " no longer convalescent from his pistol-wound, again in the saddle, and proceed to———— here my informant made a vague sort of motion with one of his arms, describing about half the points of the compass, and said, "In that, direction.'' However, the indication, notwithstanding its great, latitude, had decidedly a northward tendency.

On the 22nd of January 1864, Hall's short time with his son came to an abrupt end as Bridget Hall applied to the Forbes Court for the return of young Henry Hall. Jim Taylor, accompanied by Bridget, took out a summons against William Hall for the illegal detention of Henry. The matter never made court as the issue was settled, and Henry was surrendered to his mother and Taylor:

FORBES. Friday, 5 pm.- Mrs Hall, wife of Ben Hall the bushranger, accompanied by the notorious Jim Taylor, recently took out a summons against Bill Hall, the brother, for the illegal detention of Ben Hall's child. The case was to have come off on Thursday, but the parties concerned made no appearance, the child having been surrendered to Taylor, who assumes its guardianship. 

However, there appeared a report in mid-January 1864, that Hall was in his old haunt of Burrowa suffering from a fever. This report coincides with Hall suffering badly from a centipede bite. However, the sighting near Burrowa may have been Hall visiting Susan Prior at Tangamaroo who in 1864 was again pregnant with her son later named Alfred of whom Ben Hall is conceivably the father. Hall's daughter Mary was a one year old. However, it added weight and mix up with the Gilbert illness claim. 'The Sydney Morning Herald' Friday 5th February 1864:  

Ben Hall was seen about a fortnight ago on his old beat. He was suffering from colonial fever.

Long before the nation commenced celebrating Australia Day in honour of the landing of the First Fleet. A grand historic moment that set forth the building out of an untouched wilderness the birth of a country forged on the backs of the convicts (My own Family 1822) sent on a life sentence, where even when freed were forbidden to return to the Old Dart began to turn the nation into its current greatness. Therefore in 1864, the 26th January saw these great achievements celebrated and was referred to as Anniversary Day.

As such, in the outlying country towns peppering the nation, horse racing was seen as fitting the festive mood of the country were towns held lavish affairs and parities for the district citizens. Burrowa was no different.

NSW Police Gazette
Feb 1864.
Ben Hall with unidentified men was well aware that the folks of the surrounds would make a beeline for the Anniversary festivities canvassed the road in search of cash. His first customers were young ladies dressed in their finery riding in a buggy and some menfolk on foot, one named Dwyer making for the Burrowa races was stopped by Hall and an unknown accomplice. 'The Australian News for Home Readers' Wednesday 24 February 1864:

Ben Hall and his New Force.— Information reached Young, on Thursday, of some ten persons, including several of the fair sex, having been stuck up while on their way to the Anniversary races on Tuesday last, by (it is supposed), the notorious bushranger Ben Hall, who allowed, them to pass upon the ladies' assurance that their finances were not in flourishing state. On information reaching Burrowa, the police went next morning in pursuit, but without success.

In reference to Ben Hall's new force, the person may well have been James Mount alias the 'Old Man' alias Gordon. Mount was a career criminal, having received a 'Ticket-of-Leave' in September 1862 for the Mudgee district. Mount was 47 years of age and stood 5ft 11in with brown hair and grey eyes strong Irish accent. (See Gang Page.) The coming together of Hall and Mount is vague and may have occurred while Mount was a farm labourer in the Cowra area. However, Mount on the 24th January 1864 was linked to a robbery of two men named Bell and McMahon near Forbes making off with 110 oz. of gold. Furthermore, in another report, Hall's companion, was thought to be the terror of the Riverina 'Mad Dog' Morgan':

Hall's present confederate in-arms is a long-legged, slop-made, middle-aged, black whiskered truculent-looking vagabond, supposed by many to be Morgan. 

Morgan, it was not.

Remaining on the road the following day Hall with another unknown bailed Thomas Sheedy and some other men in search of cash and was after the racehorse Black Diamond. Under the gun one of the men held duped Hall into thinking he was broke. Hall relaxed and friendly conversed with the men and upon the strapper appearing and seeing their quest bolt gave chase. 'Sydney Mail' Saturday 6th February 1864:

On the following day, Ben Hall this ubiquitous ruffian, aided by two others, took advantage of the visitors to the Burrowa races returning to their homes to cause them to loose their cash. About two o'clock Mr Sheedy, of Back Creek, Mr Hutchinson, of Murrumburrah, and Mr Bass, poundkeeper, on their return from the races, when near Kellergen, were met by Ben Hall at different places on the Murrumburrah road, who issued an authoritative mandate to ' Stand and deliver,' which they did.

Mr Sheedy handed over £8, Mr Hutchinson £9, but Mr Bass, suspecting the intentions of Hall before he closed upon them, managed to secret his money beneath the saddle, and, feigning to be very thirsty, got Hall's leave, after, being searched, to go to a quarry hard by for some water, where some men were at work. He grumbled to some extent, at losing his money in a general gambling transaction. Fortunately, Mr Sheedy had the most of his cash converted into a cheque —a document not negotiable on the highway. Hall, in his usual cool way, conversed with them on various; topics, remarking that but for this trifling circumstance the race programme would have been a miserable failure, as nobody seemed to carry ready cash now. Mr Sheedy's boy was some little distance behind, leading the racehorse, Black Diamond, and suspecting what was, going on and observing that he was about to be intercepted, let go the horse and started him towards Burrowa. The bushrangers failed in over taking Diamond, whom they pursued to the confines of Burrowa. The horse knew the district thoroughly, and arrived in the township a long way in advance of his pursuers.

Many years after the bailing up of the race goers a young man from Binalong noted at the time  Hall's appearance and was surprised, expecting a wild man adorned with knives daggers and pistols, but the minds eye didn't fit the reality:

Ben Hall's demeanor and general appearance upset all my boyish calculations. I had pictured a wild-looking man in extravagant dress, with a belt around his waist, in which knives, daggers, and pistols were fastened like beads on a string. Here was a quiet, gentlemanly-looking man, dressed in a neat-fitting grey tweed suit, hazel-colored eyes, complexion fair, and a neat half-Yankee drab-colored felt hat, such as were generally worn by the station overseers. He only carried one pistol that I could see. 

It was later stated that the person involved with Hall was James Mount who was well known to use and hold many differing alias':

On the 27th. day of January, 1864 two bushrangers held up, three punters who, were returning from the  Anniversary Races, and made them hand, over their winnings. The two robbers were the notorious Benjamin Hall and a well-known law-breaker named Long Tom Coffin, alias Tom White, alias James Mount.

Furthermore, Ben Hall's notoriety as bushranger supreme drew some to believe that the chance to join with Hall was an easy process. A few would avail themselves of the idea of becoming a part of the gang over the next few months. 

One incident of a rouge who talked of joining Hall was John M'Kail, an American who had given himself the nickname 'Flying Barber'. M'Kail had for some time been a driver for prominent coach provider Greig's transporting passengers between Forbes and Lambing Flat. Whereby the coachman had undoubtedly come into Hall and Gilbert's presence.

McKail will be well remembered as having for a length of time-driven Mr Greig's coach between Forbes and Lambing Flat, and since the earliest days of this gold-field he has been connected with it. 

However, M'Kail was a married man and was sent down for six months at Bathurst in March 1863 for beating his wife unmercifully. On his release from prison and to escape his clutches, Mrs M'Kail commenced work for Mrs Folkard of the Franklyn Hotel, Billabong outside Forbes. M'Kail's wife believed his conduct toward her had become so violent that she thought M'Kail to be insane. Undeterred, M'Kail sought his wife out, whereby an altercation ensued with her employer Octavius Folkard. Folkard refused to allow M'Kail's wife to leave for her own safety.

Threatening vengeance against her and those who harboured her and a few days after his threat, M'Kail appeared at Folkhard's hotel bar in an excited state and took up a position at the end of the counter, behind which Mr Folkhard was in the act of serving two customers with a glass of grog each when suddenly M'Kail called out, "Folkard, Folkard, look!" At the same time drawing a pistol from his trousers pocket, and in doing so, there immediately followed a loud explosion putting the bar into darkness. A candle was sought, and on lighting, M'Kail was found laying on the floor bleeding with a gunshot wound to his right side. Within ten minutes, the would-be assassin was dead. Before his confrontation, M'Kail had made it known that he intended to join Gilbert and Hall if he succeeded in shooting Folkard.

Remaining in the Burrowa area and off the police radar, Ben Hall had not been seen nor heard of for some days. Rumours abounded that Hall had returned to the Lachlan near his old station, possibly even at Wheogo station, home of his former in-laws or in the confines of Wheogo Hill. However, while alone and camped, Ben Hall had an altercation with a centipede that gave him a nasty bite that caused his foot to swell so much so as to not being able to wear a boot.

In discomfort Hall paid a visit to the doctor at Cowra where he sought treatment for the centipede bite. Following the consultation Hall but little relief Hall arrived at Oma station a place where he mustered cattle in his youth and stole a agisted police horse:

Ben Hall visited a doctor at Cowra a short time since to consult about his leg, which had been bitten by a centipede. He has since made a call at Oma station, of Messrs. West, Brothers', and took a police horse from the paddock. He is frequently seen about.

In discomfort and Hall returned to his former station Sandy Creek on the 13th February 1864. Once a happy home. Ben Hall rode into Maguire's old homestead seeking the man who purchased Sandy Creek from himself and Maguire, John Wilson in September 1862. 

The visit was cordial and friendly as Hall sought food and some replacement horseshoes for his ride. As Hall breakfasted, dogs barked, Hall, seeing some police led by Inspector Shadforth, calmly made for his horse and passed the police within a few yards, and with shots fired made his escape. Wilson was arrested for harbouring. After the kerfuffle and the police departed, Hall, uncaring, returned to Wilson's to finish his breakfast as witnessed by William Roebuck, station hand:

He came to the kitchen, and said to me, "Good morning, old man. I have been watching them take my cook; I suppose I must cook myself." He took and fried five eggs, drank two pints of coffee, and ate some bread and butter. He hung his mare on the garden fence, where it was before the troopers chased him. He told me to tell the troopers that he had been back, wished me good morning, and went.

For the full article see the text/link below.

THE LATE BUSHRANGING ESCAPADE (From the Lachlan Miner, February 27th.) IN our last we promised to give full particulars today of the escape of Ben Hall from Wheogo; and we now proceed, as far as lies in our power, to redeem that promise. The statements of John Wilson and William Roebuck will throw considerable light upon the affair; and (until the other side of the case, if there be one, is officially made public), they must, we take it, be relied upon, the more especially as they can be verified on oath, although not as yet strengthened by affidavits: 

The Sydney Morning Herald
Tuesday 1st March 1864
THE LATE BUSHRANGING ESCAPADE

However, for Sub-inspector Frederick Shadforth in letting Ben Hall slip through his fingers, was suspended by government minister Mr Forster pending an enquiry:

He (Mr Forster) had felt it to be his duty to suspend Mr Shadforth, and order an enquiry to be made into the circumstances.

Inspector Shadforth has been suspended for not capturing Ben Hall, the bushranger.

Suspended and against the advice of his peers Frederick Shadforth tendered his resignation which was accepted by the government.

Inspector Shadforth. — This police officer has sent in his resignation. He has taken this step contrary to the wishes of his friends, who were desirous that he should submit to the enquiry into his conduct with respect to the escape of Ben Hall from Wilson's station.

However, the circumstances of Hall's escape was the end of his career in the New South Wales police.

Shadforth through influential friends was able to gain employment in various government services but in later years struggle to hold those positions. By 1873 and struggling Shadforth served 3 years at Beechworth Gaol for forgery. Previously in 1865 Shadforth spent one month in prison for obtaining money under false pretenses at Gundagai. 

APPREHENSION OF AN EX-SUB-INSPECTOR OF POLICE— On Thursday night Frederick C. Shadforth, late a sub-inspector of police, was apprehended at Hardwicke,- by mounted constables Mara and Buckley, on a warrant in which he is charged with having obtained money by a false pretence from Mr. Norton, innkeeper, of Gundagai.

Shadforth eventually settled in Queensland where in 1891 he took his own life. Whereby he cut his wrists and bled to death.

A SUICIDE. His Identity Discovered. [BY TELEGRAPH FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT.) BRISBANE, Sunday: - INQUIRY into the death of Frederick Shadforth, who cut his arms and bled to death a fortnight ago, has disclosed the information that the deceased was the son of Captain Henry Tudor Shadforth, for many years Usher of the Black Rod in the Legislative Council of New South Wales. Shadforth had been working in Queensland for four years as clerk. At one time he attempted to start a matrimonial agency under the name of Summerleas.

Ben Hall roamed the the old haunts of his time as a well off squatter and minus Gilbert sought some locals to join him in robbery. Police pressure widened Hall's scope of operations and in late March appeared south of Cootamundra near Berthunga to await some possibly cashed up officials. However, when reported of his presence the police pursued but as often was reported  their search produce a nil result. Yass Courier, March 20th 1864: 

Ben Hall Again.- The notable Ben Hall has taken the field again with a select few. On Sunday morning, soon after eight o'clock, they stopped the mail from Binalong to Wagga Wagga near Bethungra, but did not meddle with the bags. Ben stated they were waiting for Mr Clarke, the gold commissioner, and M'Carthy, of the Oriental Bank, on their return from the races. Of course the police went at once in pursuit, and it is easy to imagine with what success.

Still no Gilbert. Hall working with Mount ... 1 april 64 - ROBBERY BY BEN HALL.—Intelligence is to hand that on Friday last Ben Hall went to Mr. F. Chisholm's station, Grogan in the Binalong district, and finding the owner alone proceeded to tie him up. He threatened him with further punishment for riding about the country with bad characters—meaning the police. He then went outside, and, securing two of the servants, took the race-horse Troubadour, two other horses, and some trifling articles, and went away.










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