This page aims to recount aspects of Francis Christie, aka the Australian bushranger Frank Gardiner, from the cradle to the grave. The information herein has been derived through many first and secondhand accounts, utilising the volumes of newspaper articles of the period, government documents, private sources, and eyewitness accounts. (All related articles incorporated into the narrative are coloured and transcribed as originally published.)
Colloquially known as Frank 'The Darkie' Gardiner, Francis Christie is widely claimed to be the modern Australian bushranger's father. However, for Ben Hall, Frank Gardiner became the one person who would wield the most influence as Hall descended deeper into criminal activity commencing at the close of 1861. Ben Hall's Sandy Creek Station co-owner John Maguire noted: "things got from bad to worse, till Frank Gardiner, the bushranger came. He capped the lot. Now under 'The King of the Road's influence, Ben started on his notorious career..." Gardiner was irrepressible and was often characterised in the mould of the famous 17th-century highwayman Claude Du Val. He was educated, articulate, handsome, roguish, daring, an excellent horseman, charming and quick-witted. Known more than once to put a twinkle in a ladies eye.
"Amongst the lawless marauders who, during the early eighteen sixties, established a reign of terror in the country districts of New South Wales, says the Melbourne 'Argus' of the 30th of September, Frank Gardiner achieved special distinction. He was the founder, and first leader, of the ruffian syndicate which included Ben Hall, Gilbert, Dunn, Vane, Burke, and John O'Meally as well as other miscreants. Within four years these truculent bandits perpetrated over six hundred crimes, which included daring robberies and cold-blooded murders. Frank Gardiner was Australia's premier bushranger, the most sophisticated of those criminals who plyed their trade in the late 1800s through the use of the revolver pointed at the heart of innocents. During his life, Gardiner would adopt the pseudonyms of both Frank Clarke and Frank Gardiner. The quintessential bushranger encompassed as well the use of theatrics in the form of disguises, chiefly as a man of the cloth.¹ (To date, there has been no documented evidence or record of a Birth or Christening certificate for Francis Christie for either Scotland or England.)
Documentation records the Christie families' arrival in Australia on the 17th November 1834 on board the migrant ship 'James' 568 tons. The master was Captain Paul, having sailed from London on 29th June, arriving at Simons' Bay the Cape of Good Hope on 29th September, then to Port Jackson. At some point during the passage, tragedy struck the Christie's.
Herald, Nov 1834.
The road to the colony of New South Wales for the Christie's had many twists and turns. Involving tragedy, illness, destitution and death. The 'James' manifest disclosed their accommodation in Steerage Class quartered with seventy-nine other passengers. As well as Francis' parents, there included older half-brother Charles b. 1824 and half-sister Robina b. 1827. Their mother was Charles's first wife, Jean (Mcleod). Then Francis aged five, Archina four years old and baby Charlotte just 12 months. All born to Jane Whittle, the widow of Charles Christie's older half-brother James, 1787-1822. However, 'The James' manifest recorded Jane Christie (1799-1842) as Charles Christie's (1791-1864) wife. Based on all the current evidence, that entry is incorrect, and Jane undoubtedly was Charles' Common-Law-Wife or Defacto.
|Complete Mercantile Guide|
to the Continent of Europe,
C. W. Rördansz
As a consequence, while investigating the fraud James Christie died (possibly murdered?) under mysterious circumstances in Venezuela;[ibid] Christie's brother, who had gone with this man in one of their vessels to investigate some irregularity, died under suspicious circumstances on the voyage, his body being brought back on the vessel with the flag at half-mast, but nothing could be proved..." Upon James' death, Charles returned to England with his widowed sister-in-law Jane Christie. Their shipping ties as well ran through the Portuguese territory of the Azores, namely Ponta Delgada. Ponta Delgada was the home of the Whittle family as Jane Christie was born there c. 1799. (Ref; Mary's birth) In the upheaval, they most probably returned via the Azores residing with Jane's family. There is speculation that departing the Azores, they then travelled to London and Scotland, possibly following Jean Christie's death in 1828. However, before residing in London in the 1830s, it was noted that they had come up to London from Devonshire. Possibly Exmouth a seaport;[ibid] "although originally from Devonshire, they had been in South America for some years, where Mr. Christie, together with a brother, had carried on a shipping trade between, South and North America..."
|Charles Junior Baptism 1824.|
Note Father occupation
Church of England
Births and Baptisms, 1813-1917.
Sadly, Jean (Mcleod) Christie passed away following an illness circa 1828/9, notably Cholera. Most probably dying in the Pandemic sweeping London in 1827 and was interned at Islington cemetery London on 2nd April 1830: (The UK, Burial and Cremation Index, 1576-2014 for Jean Christie.) However, Jean may have died earlier than the record indicates? With Jean Mcleod's death in London, Archina's birth certificate suggests that Charles and his brother's widow Jane now in a relationship, returned to Scotland for Francis' birth, followed by Archina. The Christie family relations were numerous and spread across Scottish towns from Glasgow to Inveravon, Elgin, Ballimore and Abernethy. It was a common practice for families to accommodate their relations for periods, especially in crisis times. By 1833 they returned to London where Charlotte Deacon Christie was born, possibly at the Deacon family's residence. (The Cholera outbreak in England at that time also claimed the lives of two sisters of John Gilbert. A future lieutenant of Christie's.)
During their return to London, the family appeared to have fallen into financial hardship living under trying or unfortunate circumstances. Finally, however, a change was in the wind. In London, they came under the friendship and charity of a family by the name of Deacon;[ibid] "these Christie's, as they could easily see, had evidently been formerly in a much better station in life, and they gradually learnt from them much of their sad and even tragic history."
The families new benefactor's was headed by Frederick Deacon. A high-level Civil Servant in London married Charlotte Deacon nee Maule on 5th November 1823 at St Mary, Leicestershire, England. (When Frederick passed away in 1895, he left an estate valued at £8000.) However, having fallen on hard times, the charitable Deacons saw fit to offer some assistance to both Charles and Jane. The help entailed Charles working odd jobs in line with his agricultural and carpentry skills and Jane needlework and maid service.[ibid] "employing Mr. Christie to work in the garden, and my grandmother, Charlotte Deacon, (note her name!), giving Mrs. Christie what daily work she could." The Deacon's were the driving force behind the family's immigration to New South Wales.
In 1932 Mr Harry Chambers Kent, a highly regarded Sydney architect who was twenty-one when Frank Gardiner was released from Darlinghurst in 1874, provided an account of his connection with the Christie family pre-Australia. He divulges that Frank's youngest sister Charlotte Deacon Christie was named after his paternal grandmother as a mark of respect. H.C. Kent was noted in Who's Who of Australia in 1922 as a senior partner in Kent and Massie Architects, Sydney. (Current research establishes the bona fides of the Deacon family. Their connection to the Christie's can not be undervalued and corroborates much of the known origins of the Christie's circumstances before and up to immigration to NSW.)
Kent reveals that during the families time in the care of his grandparents, it was proposed that the Christie family should seek new beginnings in the burgeoning colony of NSW where opportunity knocked for those of enterprise.[ibid] "eventually it was arranged that these Christie's should go out as emigrants to Australia, and my grandmother, Charlotte Deacon, and her daughters fitted them out, making and providing them with necessary clothing for themselves and their young children, and with other things necessary for the voyage, stitching hard for many weeks, as there were no sewing machines in those days." In due course, clothing and sundry items for the passage were supplied. The family boarded the 'James.' It was noted that the living conditions from the view of the upper-middle-class Deacon family were quite inferior.[ibid] "my aunt went to see the Christie family off to Australia on the emigrant ship, and of how terrible the accommodation, or lack of accommodation, seemed to her."
|Rev. John Dunmore|
b. 1799 - d. 1878.
Courtesy University of
However, as the 'James' sailed to NSW, onboard were several clergymen and teachers. The most prominent being The Rev. Dr Lang, a force in New South Wales politics, often referred to as the 'Stormy Petrel'. On numerous occasions, the Rev. Dr Lang returned to England, encouraging those who wished for a new life to emigrate and was active amongst the Scottish community in London, assisting with the passage fees. Lang advertised for men and women to take up the new world for the betterment of the colony. To effect his immigration goals, Lang accosted Lord Goderich (then Secretary of State for the Colonies) and obtained grants for £1500 towards the cost of the immigrants' passages to Australia. The Christie's became beneficiaries of his efforts. There can be no doubt that young Francis commenced his education under the embarked ministers and educators' tutelage during the three-month voyage. The influence of these men and the reverence they were held in certainly impressed the five-year-old. As in the years ahead and disguised, Francis would imitate those of the cloth as a means of impersonation when laying low. (See above manifest right.)
Henry Munro was the son of the esteemed Professor Munro of Edinburgh College. During the after events of the 1828 Burke and Hare serial murders in England, who killed their victims, on-selling the cadavers to an anatomy Doctor, Dr Robert Knox, were executed Munro's father, Professor Munro, was noted for famously dipping his quill into the blood of Burke during the autopsy and wrote;[sic] "This is written with the blood of Wm Burke, who was hanged at Edinburgh. This blood was taken from his head."
|The Sydney Gazette and|
New South Wales Advertiser
Saturday 25 July 1835.
|Munro & Christie.|
|Henry Munro's £160 purchase|
of 640 acres at
Boro Ck NSW,
|Charles Christie's letter|
referencing his sly-grog
Port Phillip Gazette
25th April 1840.
However, for Charles, the future of Frank Gardiner's father, there is little recorded of his life. In February 1864, in the Sydney Morning Herald Family Notices, Charles Christie was recorded as passing away on the 16th February at his daughter Archina's residence in Pitt Street Sydney following a long and painful illness. On the 16th instant, at the residence of his son-in-law, Mr. Henry Griffiths, fruiterer, Pitt-street, after a long and painful illness, Mr. Charles Christie, aged seventy-three years, native of Elgin, Scotland. The procession to move from his residence, Pitt street near Market-street, at 8 o'clock a.m. Charles was interned at Camperdown Cemetery, Newton. Charles was recorded on the burial record as a Gentleman Farmer. Frank Gardiner, a scrutineer of newspapers, may well have read of his father's death in the weeks before his capture in Queensland.
On one occasion, Henry Munro was speared by the aborigines while recovering his stock from an aboriginal raiding party. The attack on Munro was in the company of Charles Christie in 1839. The settlers soon retaliated attacking the aboriginals; 'Port Phillip Patriot and Melbourne Advertiser' Monday 22nd July 1839; "A short time back, some blacks robbed a hut of Mr. Munro's; himself and servant armed, rode after them, and the horse of one of them rushed furiously into the midst of these Aborigines, these sons of the soil, then, commenced throwing of spears, one of which struck the horse in the head, and stunned it, as a natural consequence the white men commenced firing, more spears were thrown, and Mr. Munro received a spear wound which disabled him. The spear-wound received by Mr. Munro was so little thought of at first, that it was allowed to heal up externally. The consequence was, that it was near proving fatal; but Dr Thomas being called to his assistance, has treated the case with such judgment and attention, that the imminent danger has been removed, and this gentleman's recovery ensured." A fight that would become known as the battle of 'Waterloo Plains'. Resulting in eight natives dying. Munro recovered from his spearing, although it was a close call. Charles Christie fired off a letter to the editor of the Port Philip Gazette on the matter. (See right.)
|Letter was written|
by Charles Christie
in April 1840, while
|Charles Christie Jnr, Baptism.|
1824. Note, Father Charles.
Note, Mother Jane.
This is no doubt,
Charles' Profession; Carpenter.
|The arrival of Christie Family,|
However, for Christie, upon discovery of the horse theft, 24 in number. The owner of the horse's Mr Morton, incensed at the brazen thievery unexpectedly saddled up to track down and recover his horses. For Morton, the only reliable men available to accompany him was his employee named William Mercer, the cook. An experienced bushman and an expert tracker like Morton. Preparing to depart, Morton was approached by Williams, who had reached his seventieth year and asked to join the search as a horse belonging to him was part of the stolen mob. Williams received his wish, and he saddled up, and although his day's of hard riding was behind him, Morton said he was allowed to follow as long as he kept up with the two men.
Leaving Morton's 'Plains of Thalia Station' and intercepting the tracks, Morton and his men ran them for some time, passing Mount Sturgeon station and resting at a Mount Sturgeon hotel. Morton later revealed; 'Geelong Advertiser' 23rd October 1850; "on 9th of June, the whole of his horses except two in the paddock were stolen. Twenty four were taken from the run, some of them were left on the road. Three of the horses were witness' property. Missed the horses on 9th, about 9 o'clock in the evening, made a circuit of the station and found the track on the 10th, and on the 12th started and tracked them to Kay and Caye's station, thence up the plains to the Avoca, they followed the tracks all the way to the Fitzroy River, where he found two of his horses, and one previously sold by Newton, and one was lost."
Upon arrival at the Mount Sturgeon Inn operated by Andrew Templeton, he told Morton during a discussion that at the local races held two days previously, the suspected robbers had raced some horses against those entered by the police and successfully won the purse without raising an eyebrow. During Morton's stay, the publican pointed out a letter to be posted, which one of the gang Christie had left in his charge. Morton seized the letter, 'Geelong Advertiser' 23rd October 1850; "three of them came to his place driving a mob of horses, in number about thirty. Christie asked for pen and paper, and brought a letter into the bar, and gave in charge of the barman, directed to Crouch, postmaster, Portland. Neglected to send it, and gave it to Mr Morton, who came by next day in pursuit." Suspicious, Morton, with the unopened letter in hand, headed at full gallop to the police stationed at Hamilton 18 miles distant. Arriving, the Bench Clerk was fetched and opened the letter addressed to a Mr Crouch, the postmaster at Portland who acted as auctioneer at Morton's direction. The letter stated below demonstrates that Christie had an excellent hand and education and another alias, Taylor.
Lake Mingo, Murray River, May 1850.
J.C., Esq., auctioneer, Portland.
"Sir,—I have no doubt you will feel surprised at being addressed by a stranger, but as it is on business, you will excuse the liberty taken. I have sent my superintendent, Mr William Troy, to Portland with 33 head of horses, which I consider a fair sample for any market. The same I wish you to dispose of by the hammer to the highest bidder. Should the price realised please me, I will send you over another draft in the course of a month. Mr William Troy is authorised to receive the proceeds, and his receipt will be a sufficient acknowledgement. Please to give him only such money as is current in Portland.
I remain sir,
your obedient servant,
'The Argus' 4th February
However, captured the prospect of a hard time in chains lay at Christie's feet. Whereby a plan was enacted to flee the Goal. An escape by Christie's accomplice Stewart succeeded, and he was never heard of again. Christie's attempt was unsuccessful; "The prisoners were in the gaol at South Geelong, and on Sunday afternoon previous to the trial, a warder went to a cell with a bucket of water. On opening the cell door to hand in the bucket, he was caught by the neck by one of the prisoners, and pulled in, when 11 prisoners, amongst whom was William Stewart, alias Mr William Troy, the assumed superintendent of the assumed Mr Taylor, having locked the warder in the cell, walked out. In one of the passages, they met another warder and put him in the cell with his mate when the whole 11 rushed out and armed themselves with sticks. Two of the town police immediately attacked them and succeeded in recapturing three of them after using their batons freely, fracturing the jaw of one of them, who was a murderer. The other eight, amongst whom was Mr. William Troy, made good their escape, and only one of them was afterwards secured."⁵
|The Stockade, Pentridge,|
Melbourne. c. 1849.
The First Established
Receptacle for Criminals.
|Dr W.C. Haines, Foreman|
of the Jury for Christie.
Later 1st Premier of
His Honor summed up -"The horses were found in possession of the prisoners if they could not account for possession, it amounted to almost a conclusive evidence of guilt. But there was a difference between possession and custody that must be judged of. There appeared there had been a difference between the positions occupied by the prisoners, but the evidence that they were acting as servants would be collusive. Newton pleaded that he was a servant to Stewart; if a servant, he would be guilty, if he were cognizant that the horses had been taken possession of illegally. The other prisoner seemed to have taken a similar share in the transaction. He should leave to the jury to reconcile the fact of possession, with the supposition of their innocence." Verdict against both prisoners-sentenced to five years hard labour on the roads. Of note is that William Mercer, who had assisted his employer in tracking Christie and helped effect his capture, was reported three years later to have drowned in the Saltwater River near Footscray under mysterious circumstances. However, as no injuries were noted, his death was marked 'Found Drowned'. There circulated a strong suspicion that Mercer was 'put out of the way' over his evidence that saw Newton and Christie convicted. (See link below for the full 1850 court proceedings.)
Wednesday 23rd October 1850
|Illustration of Christie's|
escape from Pentridge,
Coburg, Victoria, 1851.
by Percy Lindsay c.1935
Eleven prisoners had succeeded in escaping from Pentridge, amongst whom was Christie. Of the escapee's all but five were recaptured within a few days. The fugitive Christie set off north towards his former home in another escapee, Charles Herring company. Not long after fleeing Pentridge, he was sighted 'digging close' to the Government camp at a new prospective goldfield on Bandicoot Creek (Bendigo) by some settlers who may have remembered him. However, by the end of 1851, Christie fled north upon detection, crossing the Murray River into NSW with Charles Herring. Herring would often appear in company with Christie and, in due course, joined the NSW police under the alias of Zahn. The pair blended in with the many miners en-route to the new goldfields near Bathurst at Ophir, discovered by Hargraves, Lister and Tom's.
Country NSW in the mid-1850s consisted of remote and sparsely settled hamlets, often just a few huts or shanties and a trade store and for Christie limited police. A climate for easy pickings of quality horseflesh. Christie's mate in the Morton adventure, John Newton, split from Christie following their escape. However, he had not the same success as Christie and was recaptured and returned to Pentridge. Newton soon after again effected his escape from the stockade on the occasion of another outbreak of prisoners. His outcome is unknown.
Christie's arrived in NSW to an area he last saw in 1837, the Goulburn district. Christie, having crossed the Murray, put a great distance between himself and the Victorian authorities. After firing with intent to kill a prison guard, an aboriginal, Francis' escape may well have been seen as a capital crime and a hanging offence. Christie assumed a new alias of Clarke, where after an uneventful period of stock work in the Abercrombie/Goulburn surrounds, he once again resorted to his old trade, horse duffing. 'The Darkie' commented years later on his fall into horse stealing and how he commenced his criminal life;[sic]" from want of suitable, employment. Young men can find no employment in the country districts except herding sheep or stock-riding. The latter occupation leads to horse-stealing simply because you become wholly engrossed in horseflesh, and the crime is so easily committed that you do not think of the consequences. Horse-stealing and horse "sojering" are of everyday occurrence in certain parts of the country..."⁸ Christie's first foray in NSW did not go well when in the company of a youth named Prior he attempted to pull the same stunt as at Portland.
|Early woodcut of|
Prior, Goulburn 1853.
New South Wales,
Australia, Certificates for
Consequently, Chief Constable Robert McJannett armed with the evidence, arrested Francis Christie, who had dropped the Christie for Francis Clarke, and his accomplice Edward Prior; 'The Sydney Morning Herald', Tuesday 21st March 1854 reported; "Francis Clarke, and Edward Prior, late of the Fish River, in the colony of New South Wales, were indicted for stealing, at the Fish River aforesaid, on the 1st July last, five horses, five mares, and five geldings, of the goods and chattels of one John Reid." (Note the date of theft 1st July 1853. McIvor robbery often linked to Christie was on 20th July 1853.) McJannett sent for Reid, who identified the horses. John Reid, sworn in stated: op.cit. "is a settler residing at the Fish River; recollects seeing five horses at the Royal Hotel, at Yass, on the 28th of February last; these horses are my property; I never sold them to any person; I received information that these horses were in the possession of the police."
New South Wales,
of the Colony, 1854.
|Hart's Royal Hotel,|
Yass & District Historical Society.
Saturday 18th March 1854
In the first year of his time at Cockatoo, he was recorded twice for bad conduct. On the first offence, Clarke/Gardiner was placed for three days in the cells and the second an attempt at escape with another, loitered in the lumber yard secreted for a few days, 30th April, 1855 - Disobedience of orders; three days cells. 17th April 1856 - Absented himself on the afternoon of this day, in company with Joseph Roberts, a native, and remained secreted until the evening of Sunday, the 20th April, 1856, when he was apprehended in the lumber yard. His conduct since then has been generally good." Clarke's escape attempt appeared well organised, "on Cockatoo Island he attempted to make his escape by secreting himself. He was concealed for some five or six days, notwithstanding that every possible search was made to discover his whereabouts; and when found in his hiding place it appeared that he was plentifully supplied with provisions." Joseph Roberts had been convicted of robbery in March 1854 and was released on a Ticket of Leave in 1857.
Although facing a long period of incarceration Christie apparently keep much to himself and was noted as polite and respected;[sic] "he had a nice, agreeable manner and could tell some interesting stories of his bush life. He was not of a boasting disposition but was very reserved with the other prisoners. In fact, I do not think there were six prisoners on the island to whom Gardiner would speak, and it was this that induced them to call him "Gentleman Frank." He was very fond of reading, but on no account would he work for any length of time; he would soon be back to his old quarters—the invalid bank—and amuse himself with carving and manufacturing figures in bone, and reading whatever book or newspaper he could obtain."
Furthermore, Christie's was gifted with artistic talent (see bottom of this page), demonstrated when he inscribed a Bible to his future lover Kitty Brown currently on display at Young, NSW. He was also noted as talented in other areas, namely Bone Carving. He was excellent at Arithmetic, "Clarke, alias Gardiner, is said to be an excellent arithmetician, and very ingenious in the art of carving on bone."
Escape! Escape from Cockatoo Island was fraught with unseen dangers, such as strong currents, rocky shoreline littered with cutting oyster shell, Sharks, and other hazardous obstacles. These, however, did not deter men hell-bent on taking the plunge for freedom. There were many attempts. There were many failures. Francis Christie would also have a go. Twice, in fact.
A former prisoner incarcerated with Christie provided an insight into his early prison life and recounted his eyewitness account of the Darkie's swim for freedom. Published after the notorious bushrangers 1874 release and deportation. Although the writer's name is lost forever. At the time, the pseudonym of 'Old Hand' was used and illustrates the Darkie's two attempts at freedom; 'Freeman's Journal' Saturday 26th May 1877; "One fine time Gardiner went to work, and in company with three other men were working at the quarry and removing stone from there to the water's edge for the purpose of enlarging the island. It happened to be a foggy morning. Usually, on such occasions, the prisoners were called in from the works, but this morning the fog came on suddenly, and the prisoners determined to take advantage of it. Having drawn the stone to the water's edge, they slipped into the water one after the other and made for the opposite shore. Gardiner being a good swimmer, soon placed a considerable distance between him and the inland. One or two of his companions had leg-irons on at the time. They were soon missed, and the alarm was given, and about twenty policemen and thirty soldiers were firing at them. The bullets could be seen splashing the water about the prisoners like hailstones, and a cap that Gardiner had on being puffed up with water, a bullet passed through it taking it off his head. They had reached within a few yards of the opposite shore when the police boat went in pursuit of them and captured them. They did not admit the prisoners into the boat but made them hold on to a rope, and in this manner, they were "towed" to shore, where they received dry clothes, and had six months extra added on to their sentence.
On another occasion, Gardiner tried to escape from the island by secreting himself during working hours. He supplied himself with a stock of provisions sufficient to last him for a week. Although a diligent search was made, he could not be found; every conceivable place where it was considered possible for him to hide was searched, but there was no trace of him for four days. It subsequently transpired that during the day-time, he hid down a deep well in the Superintendent's garden, and at night he used to come out of his hiding place. This well had not been used for some time and had a few feet of water in it. It was in the wintertime, and he used to have to pinch his flesh to make the blood circulate. He ran a great risk of being shot, for everyone who was out after dusk during such events as attempted escapes had to know the countersign, or else they would be arrested or shot at. On the night of Gardiner's capture, he had found his way into the "lumber yards" and was arming himself with some implements out of the blacksmith's shop to attack anyone who should dispute his passage to the water. Being disturbed by the approach of someone he quickly got underneath a blacksmith's bellows, and for a while defied the efforts of his pursuers, but was eventually captured." (The writer, a former inmate with Clarke, penned his story after Gardiner's release, and as his early life had been well publicised following his 1864 trial when his time at Cockatoo and Alias' were exposed. Therefore, to prevent confusion, the author highlights in his reminisce Gardiner instead of Clarke, a name the public instantly recognised.)
|Cockatoo Island Prison.|
However, after five years and two unsuccessful escapes at Cockatoo Island, Christie determined there must be a better way than working the chisel and faking illness. Subsequently, he set about applying for his freedom while still having some ten years to run on his original sentence of fourteen years. Fortunately for Christie, his confidence and self-assurance and a gift of the gab enabled him to sweet-talk his way to an early release.
Furthermore, whether or not his family connections influenced the powers that be anonymously is more than possible. Although under the name of Clarke there was no doubt correspondence between him and his sisters existed. When he was eventually thrown out of Australia many years later, his three sisters had been instrumental in pursuing that release following ten years imprisonment of a thirty-two-year sentence. (Frank's 1874 release was primarily achieved through his three devoted sisters.)
|Francis Clark (Christie)|
Ticket-of Leave, December
NSW Reports of Crime.
|Cancellation and warrant|
for Ticket of Leave.
Note: There is no mention
of the two tattoos present on
Gardiner's 1874 release.
NSW Police Gazette.
|Francis Clarke and Edward Prior entry Cockatoo Island 1854, note Gardiner as stout.|
|Arrested and escaped whilst|
at Burrangong diggings.
3rd May 1861.
NSW Police Gazette.
Ticket of Leave. 1859
Never before published.
Frank no doubt charmed those officials who granted his ticket-of-leave even after his bad conduct at Cockatoo Island. The authorities, without realising that his spokespersons were mere dupes, were hoodwinked into release where no doubt, the hand of Fogg lay across the subterfuge as he called in all his owed favours from his suspicious associates. The thoroughness of his champions petition had even the Inspector of Police J. McLerie approved his release, "Clarke, has been recommended for a ticket-of-leave this month, and the Classification Board have offered no objection to his receiving the indulgence for Carcoar, the nearest police district to the Lachlan River - Convict Department, December 13, 1859. - JNO. M'LERIE, Inspector General of Police."
Authors Note: Henry Munro sold his extensive Victorian holding's c. 1864 and sailed for Argentina, where he had land interests as well. However, after a short stay, Henry returned to England then to France, where sadly, he died in c. 1869 reputedly at Maison Chapitre, Saint Servan near St Malo, in France. His second wife, Catherine (Kate), passed away in 1889 in London. Other reports state Henry died n Malaga Spain and is buried at Cementerio Inglés de Málaga.
|Sir John Young|
12th Governor of
New South Wales
Having absented himself from the Carcoar district for Lambing Flat, Gardiner became suspected of organising a cattle stealing ring for the butchering enterprise. However, the butcher business caught the watchful eye of Captain Battye, the officer in charge of the Flat, who had his hands full with quelling the anti-Chinese sentiment infecting the new goldfield. Regardless, for Christie/Clarke/Jones/Gardiner (but a few of his alias'), his chicanery knew no bounds. Whereby before cancellation, the wily Francis had petitioned for a full pardon in 1860. One thing is for sure! Christie was smart. After all, deception, horse and cattle theft for Christie was in one's DNA; op. cit. "in December 1860, holding then a ticket-of-leave for Carcoar, Gardiner petitioned for a pardon. His application was strongly recommended by "Isaac Shepherd, J.P., Wheeo," and eight others of that neighbourhood, and was accompanied by various certificates, as to his having been "led astray by others," when a very young man, &c. &c. These papers were sent to the Chief Justice, who thereupon suggested further inquiry. Accordingly, the Police Magistrate of Carcoar; was referred to for a report, and he stated, that ever since March 1860 Gardiner had been generally suspected of being concerned in various robberies in the neighbourhood, and that, a warrant was actually then out against him for cattle stealing. On the 14th May, Gardiner absconded from his bail, and became a bushranger..."
|Isaac Shepard, Jun, J.P.|
Following Sheedy's discovery of gold, an article appeared in the newspaper outlaying the reward presented to Sheedy for his lucrative find which dwarfed Hargraves 1851 goldfield at Ophir NSW; 'Sydney Morning Herald'; "for deciding on claims for rewards for the discovery of goldfields in the south-western district, has recommended that the maximum amount, £300, be awarded to Michael Sheedy, for the discovery of the Burrangong goldfield..." (Michael Sheedy would go on to open a new type of gold mine and reap a new harvest through a general store and hardware. Sheedy became quite influential at Burrangong.)
Consequently, the ramshackle town of Lambing Flat was created, and Fogg and Gardiner were soon in business. Lambing Flat was described in an extract from the 'Goulburn Herald', 1860; "the "Lambing Flat" is situated about thirty-five miles north-west from Binalong, about the same distance westerly from Burrowa, and about twelve miles’ south-west from Maringo; it is a granite country, with open box-tree ranges, and forms a portion of Mr White's run, called "Burrangong." The diggers expressed a strong desire that the "Lambing Flat" should be proclaimed a gold-field, and that a commissioner should be sent there..."
Young Historical Society.
|Goldfield butchers shop.|
|Mrs Betsy Toms|
Consequently, obtaining cattle on the cross (theft) inevitably brought Fogg and Gardiner's activities under the purview of the police lead by Captain Battye. Scrutiny of their dubious stock raised all sorts of suspicions. Stoking the ire of the dogged police Captain who was adamant that cattle stealing would be checked and continuously raided the butchers operating their suspicious trade. As such, it was not long before police gained useful information supporting their suspicions on the nefarious activities of Fogg and Gardiner. Pouncing in April 1861 whereby Christie/Clarke/Jones/Gardiner was arrested by a trooper at Spring Creek and charged with of all things, horse stealing. "he was arrested at his shop at Spring Creek, brought into Lambing Flat, and charged at the Gold Commissioner's Court with horse-stealing."
However, identity confusion reigned and in May 1861, the police held Christie in custody at Burrangong, where he convinced them he was not the man they were looking for and was granted bail. For a Scotsman, Christie had the luck of the Irish. He quickly fled Lambing Flat for Fogg's Fish River farm 100 miles away. The "Burrangong Miner's" news columns contain the following: — Absconded from Bail: "Francis Jones, alias Gardiner, for horse-stealing, was recently admitted to bail, himself in £200, and two sureties of £100 each. When the case came on for hearing, yesterday, Jones, alias Gardiner, was non-est, and there cannot be a doubt that he has made himself scarce." His escape cost £400 forfeited. (Roughly a loss of $33,000) Indignant at the charge, Gardiner allegedly posted an advertisement in the "Burrangong Miner" refuting the assumption that he was a thief and that it all was a lie; ADVERTISEMENT: Sir,—Having seen a paragraph in the "Miner" and "General Advertiser," of 4th May, headed, Absconded from Bail, wherein I am charged with horse-stealing, I merely wish to inform the party, whoever he may be, that he is a willful and corrupt liar. FRANCIS GARDINER, The Accused. P.S.: I long for an interview once more with Samuel Westoocot. (I have been unable to ascertain who Samuel Westoocot (Westacott/Westcott is as yet. It is believed he was the trooper who arrested Gardiner at his business at Stoney Creek. However, there is a record of a trooper named John Westacott in the new NSW police 1862 attached to the M division covering the Braidwood district.)
|Sgt John Middleton wearing|
his Silver Bravery Medal
awarded for Gardiner's
was dismissed from the
police, but was
Coloured by me.
Having returned to Fogg's farm, information was relayed to Carcoar magistrate Mr Beardmore of Gardiner's presence in the Lachlan River area and intelligence linking Gardiner to a spate of armed robberies in the company of bushranger John Piesley. Beardmore instructed the local police to re-arrest Christie/Clarke as per the outstanding warrant.
On the 16th of July 1861, two officers were dispatched. Constables Hosie and Sgt Middleton set off. The two troopers were very active in the Carcoar police district, which went as far as Trunkey. Trunkey was also a gold-based settlement, and as such, it had its fair share of bushranging in which John Peisley was the main culprit operating a gang of misfits. Gardiner, having fled Lambing Flat, may well have been involved in the area. However, diligent in their efforts Middleton and Hosie was successful in apprehending bushrangers, earning the respect of the locals; 'Goulburn Herald' Wednesday 6th March 1861; "Mining matters have passed the rubicon of either good or bad, the exodus of the digger, and their families, to the Lambing Flat, having depopulated this locality, and left the golden treasures of Tuena to continue undisturbed.
The district around is, I am sorry to say, in a state of more insecurity, than at any previous period for some time past, bare-faced robberies and sticking up, seem to be the rule and not the exception. Our police force consists at present, of one serjeant, and one trooper, who have quite enough to do to keep matters right among the settlers, by protecting, or rather I should say, hunting after the villains, who have lately been levying black mail at Trunkey, or the Abercrombie, and the surrounding neighbourhood. The notorious Peisley has it appears, in concert with other villains been robbing right and left, and on Friday morning early, or rather, between Thursday night and Friday morning, our indefatigable serjeant Middleton, with trooper Hosie, brought in two men with whom they previously had some acquaintance; having some days since accidentally fallen in with them, and passed them by as honest men, but subsequently finding they were deceived, again tracked them, but only found their horses and swags, which they conveyed to Carcoar, and upon investigation the proceeds of a small robbery belonging to a travelling jeweller appeared among the contents.
Ever on the alert, Middleton has at last secured these two worthies, and has started with them for Carcoar. It would be premature to say more just now, but there can be no doubt but they are connected with recent robberies. Stapleton, a publican at Trunkey was robbed of a large sum of money; the like misfortune happened some Chinese on the Abercrombie; Gunning Flat has had the compliment paid and probably time will reveal a few more localities. When Middleton seized the men referred to, they were armed to the teeth, and too much credit cannot be given to him and Hosie for the zeal and promptness with which they do and are ever ready to discharge their duties. It is to be lamented that we have no unpaid J.P. anywhere near us, our P.M. lives 30 miles away, and visits us but once a month.
It is to be hoped that so extensive a district as that of the Abercrombie will not be left so unprotected as at present, but that the hands of sergeant Middleton will be strengthened to enable him to extend his protection to the settlers, and to spare some of his force to unkennel the villains who lurk about this district." - Tuena, March 1861.
As Middleton had entered the home, a panicked Mary Fogg following gathered up two of her children, fled the house while a man named James Barney living at Fogg's grabbed the third child retreating outside into the yard as the melee took place.
However, out of ammunition and uninjured, Gardiner rushed full steam at the wounded and dazed Middleton as Hosie lay unconscious. Middleton was, however, no slouch. Severely bleeding, Middleton took the charging Gardiner's weight upon himself and armed only with his silver-topped riding-whip, they struggled into the yard. Brutal hand to hand combat and a fight to death erupted whereby Middleton managed to bludgeoned Gardiner into submission with the solid whip handle. Hosie non-compos mentis arose and staggered to Middleton's aid. Gardiner, in a semi-conscious state, had the cuffs applied after Fogg begged with him to desist with the struggle. The two bleeding troopers had affected their man's capture. Middleton and Hosie's wounds were reported as Middleton shot through the lower lip, knocking out three of his front teeth, the bullets passing through the root of his tongue. It was adjudged that he swallowed the lead ball on seeing a doctor, as it could not be found. Middleton was as well shot through the wrist, besides having three more bullet wounds. Hosie was hit on the temple, but the ball glanced off without causing serious injury, but a severe delirium and concussion.
|Fogg's Hut. This is not the|
original home but built
over the old Hut
site c. 1867.
Photo c. 1920s
|Reward Notice 1861.|
NSW Police Gazette.
I had been there about two months before, and had a conversation with them; they knew me, and who I was; they knew me because I was in police uniform, and another trooper named Wilson, also in uniform, was with me; I saw both Fogg and Mrs. Fogg; I had never seen them before; Wilson is now, I believe, in Darlinghurst gaol; the house is in a paddock enclosed in a three-railed fence, and is between two and three hundred yards from the slips rails; Middleton and myself had our police uniform and leggings and ponchos on; the ponchos reached to about the knees, and were not part of the uniform. Mine was of a dark colour; we went to look for Gardiner. I dismounted and took down the slip rails, and Middleton rode on whilst I led my horse through the rails; Middleton reached the house first, and I was fifty or sixty yards behind; I saw Mrs. Fogg fall back like as if she was alarmed when she saw Middleton dismount and go to the house; she held up her hands as if in fright as Middelton was entering the house; I was about twenty yards behind, and almost immediately on Middelton entering I heard two shots fired, almost in succession, one after the other; immediately afterwards Middleton rushed back to the door and told me to go round to the back of the house; he was wounded and covered with blood.¹⁴ (Also see Link above.)
|Dramatisation of Gardiner|
and Hosie encounter at
Dan Russell, 1952.
However, Hosie's death as reported was premature, and in August 1861, the round that stuck Hosie was reported as extracted and his survival a miracle; "EVERY BULLET HAS ITS BILLET"- "This old saw (says the Bathurst Tímes) came to our mind yesterday upon being shown a piece of flattened lead about three-quarters of an inch in diameter and about the eighth of an inch thick, which had been extracted from between the scalp and the skull of trooper Hosie (one of the brave follows who was shot at and wounded by the bushranger Gardiner). A more miraculous escape from death it is not possible to contemplate; and how it could have happened that the bullet did not enter the troopers skull, is altogether incomprehensible. The piece of lead presents the appearance of having been fired at a plate of iron, so effectually is it flattened. It is evident that the old saying, in this case, did not apply. Sergeant Middleton and trooper Hosie have arrived in Bathurst, and it is a matter of thankfulness that both are nearly recovered from the serious injuries they received in the affray with the bushranger on the Abercrombie. No doubt they will soon be actively employed again in the endeavour to exterminate the gang of murderous vagabonds who are now such a terror to the inhabitants of the Western districts."-Empire.
Following the 'Battle of Foggs Farm', Fogg was arrested for harbouring and bailed on £100 to appear a month later. It was reported; "the man Fogg, who was apprehended on the charge of harbouring bushrangers, was yesterday admitted to bail, in £100, to appear in a month. We hear to-day that Gardiner, the bushranger, died on Sunday night last..."
Far from dying and the fracas at Fogg's over. Gardiner fled to the Weddin Mountains, where his association with another career criminal John Peisley came to light. However, while serving time at Cockatoo Island, Gardiner/Clarke befriended one John Peisley. John Peisley hailed from the O'Connell Plains near Bathurst, born in 1834. Peisley and his family were well known to the police and faced court at various stages but inevitably escaped conviction. However, his father was sent down over a bull theft from prominent landowner Mr Icely of Coombing Park. Sentenced to seven years at Cockatoo, Peisley's father died in prison before the sentence was completed. It was noted that the Peisley home was home to a 'den of thieves.' In February 1852, Peisley was arrested for horse theft, stealing two horses from Mr Patrick Kurley. However, two years would pass before Peisley fronted the court. After all the evidence, the jury retired and shortly after returned a verdict of guilty. Peisley was sentenced to five years at Cockatoo Island.
New South Wales,
Tickets of Leave,
Never before published.
Sir, —You will no doubt be surprised to receive a note from the (now by all account) noted Piesley; but, sir, through your valuable paper I must make it known that, if it be my lot to be taken, whether dead or alive, I will never be tried for the rescue of Gardiner, in the light in which it is represented; nor did I ever fire at Trooper Hosie. And such I wish to be known, that it is in my power to prove what I here assert, and that beyond a doubt. I am no doubt a desperado in the eyes of the law, but never, in no instance, did I ever use violence, nor did I ever use rudeness to any of the fair sex, and I must certainly be the Invisible Prince to commit one-tenth of what is laid to my charge. And, sir, I beg to state that it is through persons in high positions that I now make this assertion, and I trust I may never have to allude to it again. I love my native hills, I love freedom and detest cruelty to man or beast. Trusting you will publish this, my bold letter no doubt, but you can be assured it comes from the real John Piesley and not any of his many representatives.
I am, Mr. Editor,
|Note for Execution|
of John Peisley.
New South Wales,
Australia, Sheriff's Papers
Execution of the Condemned Criminals
|4th June 1862|
On Middleton's return and Hosie having been supposedly overpowered by rescuer's. William Fogg was immediately arrested for obstructing the police to execute their duty. Fogg was brought before the court on 31st August 1861 and faced magistrate Beardmore who had instructed the troopers to arrest Gardiner. Following the accounts of the two troopers in the witness box. The wily Fogg's luck was in again, and he avoided conviction. Fogg recovered his £100 surety. However, the presiding magistrates were undoubted that Fogg had a more significant role than believed and therefore failed to award costs in Fogg's favour. (See link below.)
|Middleton reduction in rank|
1st September 1863.
NSW Police Gazette.
|John Middleton, relaxing|
in his yard.
The reverse of this photo states.
John Middleton, who had a
hand to hand "fight"
Never before published.
They succeeded, in about two hours, in getting notes and a cheque, which, together with the money before in their possession, made up a total sum of fifty pounds ten shillings. This was all given to Hosie; for, having no silver, they could not deduct the surplus. It was insisted by Hosie, before agreeing to this arrangement, that, in order to save his character, the form of rescue should be gone through. With this view, the old man Barney was sent off with a gun to a part of the road where Hosie and Gardiner were to pass, and when they came up, he was to personate Peisley and rescue Gardiner. To carry out this plan, and to make Hosie keep to his bargain, Fogg accompanied them until Barney rushed out of the scrub and rescued Gardiner as agreed upon. That a rescue did take place is true, but it is also true that it was only a sham. These facts were communicated to the Government very shortly after they occurred, and the circumstance that the cheque which passed into Hosie's possession would afford, if traced, a strong confirmation of the truth of the statement was pointed out, it was, however, thought that the affair, if made public, would be so disgraceful to the police, that the Government decided in dismissing Hosie from the force without endeavouring to bring him to justice..."¹⁷
|Justice, Edward Wise|
NSW State Parliament.
'The Darky' was a true celebrity whose very name touched every citizen of NSW. Whose exploits were romanticised and full of adventure, daring and bravery regardless of the poor victims' who suffered under his revolver. Furthermore, the scenes generated in and outside the filled court and through the general public brought much displeasure and disgust to the presiding Judge, Mr Justice Wise; "the jury retired at a quarter to five o'clock. Immediately his Honour and the jurymen had left the court, the crowd, densely packed in every part of the room, made a great noise and much confusion. The loud jocularity, rude remarks about hats, and unchecked laughter which prevailed contrasted strangely enough with the quiet of a few minutes before. There was also an amazing amount of anxiety shown to get near the dock, and a number of persons within the railings, comprising professional gentlemen, senators, and young men holding respectable positions in society, crowded in front of the dock, some of whom entered into conversation with the prisoner in a familiar and even fraternising manner, and others appeared anxious to do the same, when his Honour came into Court and ordered the passage to be cleared, and further directed, with the evident view of putting a stop to this indecent proceeding, ordered the prisoner to be removed until the jury returned into Court, which was accordingly done.
The instant this announcement was made 'hurrahs' burst simultaneously from all parts of the throng. Notwithstanding the demands of his Honour for silence and the efforts of the police, this cheering, shouting, whistling, stomping of feet, and clapping of hands continued for some seconds. Order was not restored until his Honour summoned a boy before him whom he had seen clapping his hands. The boy was remanded to Darlinghurst Gaol, but afterwards, in consideration of his extreme youth and the intercession of counsel, he was discharged with a reprimand. Additional police having been placed at the entrances behind the crowd, his Honour requested the constables to bring before him any persons whom they had seen take part in the disturbance, but none were forthcoming, owing probably to the difficulty of singling out individuals from so large a number, all of whom appeared to join in the tumult.
His Honour with great warmth remarked that it was astonishing that there should be such an utter want of common decency among such a number of people in New South Wales; it was a disgrace, an utter disgrace to the colony. He also thought that the police were censurable. The prisoner, who it is understood will be arraigned on another indictment, was remanded to gaol."¹⁸
|Kitty married John Brown|
when aged 16 at the same
the church as Bridget and
Ben Hall at Bathurst in
September 1859. Catherine
signed her name.
Though the face presented to the road does not though steep, present any very particularly formidable barriers to the pursuit, then are other parts of the range that are exceedingly rocky and precipitous, being, moreover; covered by a dense undergrowth or scrub, rendering pursuit unless by tracking, an almost hopeless task. It was upon this account that Gardiner made it his head-quarters, and until the police made up their minds to stick, persistently to his tracks, he found it a very comfortable position to take up. His friends, if such men have friends, were all round him, and he could go from the house of one to that of the other, as circumstances might suit, or it compelled to lie concealed, could always draw his supplies from them. By rooting out the confederates of the bushrangers, this position is no longer a tenable one for them, as their supplies are cut off. This fact, coupled with the knowledge that the police have obtained of the locality, may account for the wide berths that Gilbert and Co. have given to the favourite haunt of their predecessor..."
The friendship between Maguire, Hall and Gardiner evolved through Gardiner's Lambing Flat butcher's shop. John Maguire and Ben Hall were then commencing a new venture. A cattle station called Sandy Creek sixty miles distant. The two men also drew cattle from the adjacent Wheogo Station. Through Hall and Maguire, Gardiner fell for the beautiful Catherine Brown. A vivacious blonde, 5ft 3in tall. Wheogo Station was owned by Sarah Walsh nee Hurpar nee Chidley the stepmother of the men's wives Elen Maguire and Bridget Hall, following the women's father's death in 1858. The new beef producers herded cattle to the lucrative Lambing Flat goldfield. Gardiner's business relationship with the men may have been facilitated through John O'Meally, whom Hall and Maguire knew well, including the happy go lucky John Gilbert, who ultimately joined Gardiner along with O'Meally and Hall bushranging. The relationship between Gilbert, O'Meally, William Hall and Ben Hall, including Daniel Charters, whom Hall had been close friends with since 1854, was founded c. 1859/60 according to a Lachlan squatter who knew them all well. Highlighting their relationship in a letter published in November 1863; "about four years since, whilst taking some cattle overland from my station on the Lachlan, I fell in with young Hall, who was then stock-keeping for his brother near Bundaburra. He, O'Meally, Gilbert, and some others had all just returned from their usual trip after cattle, and on my asking them what luck they had met with, they replied: "they had camped out for three nights at a place called Humbug Creek, but had met with little or no cattle, only in one mob there were a few duffers." The term "duffer" is too well known to need description here; it simply means clean-skinned animals, which are appropriated by whoever can get them into a yard..." (See full letter through link below.)
|NSW Police Gazette|
Reports of Crime
20th May 1861.
The Lachlan district's police came under the command of the indefatigable Sir Frederick Pottinger, newly appointed police inspector for the area stationed at Forbes. Pottinger was, however, one whose top priority was to apprehend the newly arrived and elusive bushranger. The inspector would spend many weeks in the saddle. Searching the bush in the Wheogo, Lachlan and Bland districts and its many rugged mountain ranges such as the Weddin and Pinnacle Ranges for the fugitive Gardiner who was being aided and abetted by many public houses and station owners, such as Mrs Feehiley, owner of the notorious 'Pinnacle Station' and the sister of Ben Hall's closest friend Daniel Charters. Not only was the Weddin Mountain range a safe haven for Gardiner and his band so was the Pinnacle Range adjacent to Mrs Feehiley's vast station.
Moreover, throughout the detailed map. The police furnished insight and opinion regarding the character of those considered criminal or just plain reprehensible who were known protectors of 'The Darky'. However, two names on the highly confidential map are surprisingly the young wife of Ben Hall and her sister Mrs Catherine Brown. Both noted as 'bad', and at one farm on the map states; "Harbourer, Yorkshire Jack, good man bad women, the retreat of Mrs Hall and Brown." (See map bottom of page) An 1861 newspaper article notes Yorkshire Jack as; "a person familiarly known in the neighbourhood by the appellation of 'Yorkshire Jack.' He is the proprietor of a small sheep and cattle station, and appears, from his many good qualities, to merit well the respect and esteem of those who know him..."¹⁹
Gardiner was known to attend Yorkshire Jack's as it doubled as a well-known sly-grog shop. The police map provides a clear insight into the close ties both married 'wild Weddin girls' Catherine and Bridget had with many of the shady characters earmarked by the police. However, one of Gardiner's mates would destroy Ben Hall's marriage and drive the mild-mannered squatter into a dissolute life that would end in a barrage of bullets four years later.
|Flamboyant Claude Du Val.|
William Powell Firth (1819-1909)
The police in constant search and on alert were always one step behind the Darky as he covered the districts with ease. Gardiner was irrepressible, the newspapers often characterised him in the mould of the famous and cavalier 17th-century French-born English highwayman Claude Du Val (b.1643-d.1670) or another 18th century famous English highwayman Dick Turpin (1706-1739);[sic] "a gallant and courteous rogue, probably the most dashing highwayman ever to haunt the roads of England. He was known as a “true gentleman of the road...” Gardiner embraced this beau ideal. Continually scanning the newspapers for positive reviews of his robberies. When misrepresented, he would take umbrage by writing to the editors, such as the Burrangong Star, refuting fake news and false assumptions.
|The Australian Dick Turpin.|
Courtesy, State Library of
Furthermore, when confronted with an infringement that would put a mark against him in the eyes of those settlers, Gardiner would quickly rectify the situation; “the bushranger, Gardiner, had gone to Mr Chisholm's station at Bland and demanded and obtained possession of a fine grey mare, which he supposed belonged to Mr Watt. The other day the bushranger met a man on the road, who told him it was a shame for him to take a lady's horse, mentioning the name of the lady to whom the animal belonged. Gardiner immediately borrowed the horse ridden by the man, giving him the mare to take to its lady proprietor, and promising to send in the borrowed horse by a messenger on the following day. Punctual to engagement the horse was left the next day at the stable of the owner...”²¹
Therefore, even those stripped of all their valuables and cash were never left without a silver shilling for the road, a coin Gardiner never accepted. All these actions enhanced Gardiner's image and prestige; "there have been few instances where violence has been used by these modern highwaymen, they will often leave a few shillings with their victims, so that they may not be on the road quite destitute...”²²
However, Gardiner did not discriminate with former friends either, with cases recorded of his robbing both those close and former acquaintances from Lambing Flat a common practice. Robberies conducted without any malice or vindictiveness, after all, it was just business; "as Gordon's coach on its down trip from the Lachlan was being tooled along a good road by Fred Newman, about twenty-five miles from the diggings, two horsemen suddenly appeared on the road with an imperative "stop" to the driver. Twigging a 14-inch Dean and Adams' in the hands of the speaker, Fred, received orders to drive into the bush. They stopped at about half a mile and demanded the money of the passengers — £2 from one, and £30 with a watch and ring from the other, being luckily their only booty. It is almost unnecessary to state that Gardiner and his mate were these very polite highwaymen. The man robbed of the £30, &c., now a mate of Tom Watson's, of "jeweller's shop" notoriety, was formerly a mate of this very Gardiner's in some other walk of life. The following is -the colloquy that ensued between them: — J. M’Auley. "I did not expect this from you, Frank." — Gardiner: "I expected to get £1000, or at least £400 or £500, from you, Jim." — J. M'Auley: "Well, give me back my watch and ring." — "Not now— I will return them another time." The gentlemen of the road then shook hands with them and departed..."²³
|Kitty reputedly in|
action with Gardiner.
|John 'Warrigal' Walsh in|
company with Frank
Gardiner December 1861.
NSW Police Gazette, 1862.
An old-timer who reputedly knew 'The Warrigal' in their youth recounted in a look back in the 'Freeman's Journal', 10th November 1906; “little Jack Walsh was such a mischievous, dare-devil young lad that he was known to all as 'The Warrigal’, and I can picture him now as clearly as in our school days. (Not often attended.) Rather short, with sharp features on a freckled face, and when he smiled, which was nearly always, he showed a large mouthful of good teeth when not stained by tobacco, and he simply did not know what fear was. He was generally with Gardiner, in fact, he was known as 'Gardiner's Boy.' While flying from the police with Gardiner on one occasion the pair separated, and little Jacky got caught in the pocket of a creek. To turn back meant capture, so 'The Warrigal' being mounted on a splendid bay pony called 'Little John,' dug in his spurs, sent the brave little horse flying over the creek, and got clear away, for none of the police would risk the jump. And no wonder, for when afterwards measured, it was found to be 20 feet wide. The police had to go round a quarter of a mile, and by that time 'The Warrigal' was 'over the hills and far away.' But poor little Jack was caught at last, and died of fever soon after...”
Sadly, the Warrigal's relationship with Gardiner would cost him his life at age 16 in March 1863 following his arrest at his sister Kitty's home in August 1862, incarceration covering many months at the primitive Forbes lock-up. John Walsh died from Gaol Fever. (Typhus fever.) (For full details, see Ben Hall Pt. 1.)
Gardiner's brazen escapades fully heightened his flourishing bushranging celebrity. Every newspaper scrambled for the latest exploit. From these deeds, the newspapers continued to hail the gallant bushranger an Australian Dick Turpin or Claude Du Val; ‘Empire' Wednesday 12th February 1862; - "My telegram of Sunday last will have informed you of the state this part of the country is in with respect to robberies, &c. Every day brings its tale of coaches, drays, and horsemen being stuck up on the road to the Lachlan, and every night someone is knocked down in or near the town and robbed At first people were much alarmed, and considerable sums of money were lost, but now no one carries money, except in very small sums, for the place and surrounding roads are so infested with bushrangers that people quite look to be stopped The robberies on the road are conducted quite in the Claude Duval style. A man of the name of Gardiner is the hero, he is described to me as a tall, fine-looking man, and conducts his business in a quiet and rather gentlemanly manner. A few days ago, the Lachlan coach was 'stuck up,' coming into Lambing Flat, by Gardiner and his band, and on the next morning returning to the Lachlan, it was stopped again. There have been few instances where violence has been used by these modern highwaymen, they will often leave a few shillings with their victims, so that they may not be on the road quite destitute. But your readers will say, how comes it that those frequent and open robberies are allowed to take place when there is so large a police force and military stationed here? And this is a question may well be asked."
The nexus of locals included the ever-present and willing bush telegraphs, who on horseback and foot scoured the towns and villages for news of prospective victims for a reward or a morsel of booty from the celebrated bushranger. Another bush telegraph was John Bow, a local stockman on John Nowlan's station near Bimbi, Weddin Mountains. The police, however, were of no concern to Gardiner. Gardiner always outpaced them or, at times with unnerving audacity, casually confronted and returned fire whenever cornered or manoeuvring to affect his escape being mounted on the best of the best thoroughbreds. Before long, the very name Gardiner sent shivers through the spine of storekeepers and police. Men, when confronted by the bushranger, appeared to become hypnotised and ineffective. Many locals in the district spoke bravely of how they would take on the celebrated bushranger given half a chance.
However, as they say, actions speak louder than words, as described in the article below. Some tough talk by two local businessmen unknowingly in Gardiner's presence at a local shanty saw two men quiver. One a Mr James Torpy was a prominent leader during the anti-Chinese sentiment at Lambing Flat 1861. The link below illustrates the events and meeting between Torpy, his mate and Gardiner.
COUNTRY NEWS BURRANGONG
JOTTINGS ABOUT MEN AND THINGS AT LAMBING FLAT
Nevertheless, recruits, such as John Gilbert, John Davis, Jack O’Meally and Pat M'Guinness and others, all gravitated to 'The Darky', reputedly nicknamed by his muscular, athletic build dark-complexioned handsome looks as well as a love of the dark arts ... 'Fortune Telling'. The band of marauders commenced waylaying travellers daily on the roads between the Burrangong and the Lachlan gold diggings at Forbes. However, one of the most successful and most rewarding robberies for the bushranger was the bailing-up of two storekeepers on the 10th March 1862. After months of small takings, Gardiner hit pay dirt.
Gardiner's victims were Alfred Horsington (Hossington) and his wife Sophia, and Henry Hewett. The businessmen were stopped near Big Wombat. Alfred Horsington knew Gardiner by sight, saying in 1864; "I had known prisoner for about two years. He was one of the four armed men. I also knew two of the others, but only one of them by name. Gardiner had been keeping a butcher's shop at Spring Creek, on Lambing Flat, in partnership with a man named Fogg. I knew Gardiner well, and recognised him fifty yards before he came up to us." There can be no doubt that Gardiner had received valuable intelligence of the men's movements and the windfall they carried. Subsequently, from Alfred Horsington, who had been incapacitated by a broken leg and riding in a spring cart, the bushrangers acquired 253 oz. of gold and £145 in notes; from the other, Henry Hewett, they acquired 189 oz. of gold and £172 in money. The events of the day were recalled in the 'Glen Innes Examiner and General Advertiser', Friday 10th October 1902 and provides an accurate account; "One of the most daring robberies in which Gardiner was personally engaged was on the road near Big Wombat, in the district of Young, when he stuck up Mr. Alfred Horsington and robbed him of 253 ounces of gold and £145 in money. Horsington was a digger and a storekeeper, at Lambing Flat, and was proceeding from Little Wombat to the Flat in a spring-cart on 10th March 1862, his wife and a boy named De Burgh being in the vehicle with him and a Mr. Hewitt, another Flat storekeeper, riding on horseback behind. The boy was driving, as Horsington was suffering from a broken leg.
However, while in the dock at the Sydney Criminal Court at Darlinghurst in 1864. Frank Gardiner pleaded Guilty to the charge of Highway Robbery against Horsington and Hewitt but took umbrage at the evidence put forward by his victims. In a letter to the judge, Chief Justice Alfred Stephen, Gardiner cast doubt over the victim's claims. Gardiner, in fact, stated that there were five in number, not four. The fifth man may have been Samuel Dinnir (Dinner), a well-known hoodlum of the district released from Bathurst Gaol in 1860. The Late Highway Robbery of £1800, near Wombat. — "We learn that Samuel Dinnir who is pretty well known to the police in this district is one of the parties who stuck up Messrs. Horsington and Hewitt, and robbed them of a large amount of gold-dust on the morning of the 10th instant." — Yass Courier.
Gardiner stated that only two of the bushrangers involved remained alive during the court proceedings since the events. At the time of the 1864 trial, Pat M'Guinness had been shot dead. John O'Meally also shot dead, and John Davis, unmentioned previously, was serving a fifteen-year sentence. Whether by design or mischievous intentions, Gardiner hints that Gilbert may not have been a participant. This lack of linking Gilbert to the robbery was quantified by Henry Hewitt himself at the inquest into Gilbert's death in May 1865 where if Gilbert's participation was evident, Hewitt would have stated so; 'The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser' Saturday 20th May 1865 Robert Henry Hewitt, being duly sworn, states "I reside in Burrowa, I was formerly a storekeeper at Wombat, and when there knew the deceased, John Gilbert, he was frequently in my store, and I saw him almost every day for about four months, I saw him last on the 10th of March, 1863, I have seen the body now shown to the jury, and identify it as the body of John Gilbert, I have no doubt whatever of the fact." Suspicion, therefore, falls towards Paddy Connolly, who had disappeared presumed dead. James Downey O'Meally's cousin was strongly implicated, but the charges against him fell short, and he was acquitted, believed through witness tampering. However, there is no doubt that Downey was the other person and not John Gilbert.
Furthermore, Gardiner stated that the robbery was conducted much later, being some six weeks later. However, contemporary accounts in March 1862 were not fabricated and explicitly stated the events were on the 10th March 1862. A statement the court appeared disinterested in verifying, no doubt as the Highwayman had pleaded guilty to the charges. Gardiner's letter to the judge was a shrewd move on his part. In so much as his recollection may have influenced the judge in his sentencing deliberations by casting some doubt. Thereby avoiding the hangman’s noose. This avoidance brought much indignation in the press. (See Gardiner's letter in full at the bottom of the page.)
Robberies mentioned above would have no doubt have included Ben Hall, Gardiner's newest compatriot. Ben Hall's link to crime with Gardiner dates back to 1861, evidenced when a mail contract rider was held up in 1863 by Hall and John Gilbert confirming the early link. 'Geelong Advertiser' December 1863; "Richard Henry, in the employ of Mr Jacob Marks, the contractor, was conveying the mails from Binalong to Yass, he was stuck up by Gilbert and Hall. As to the identity of the bushrangers there can be no doubt, as their faces were not disguised in any manner, and Richard (or Dick, as he is better known by, a half-caste aboriginal) had the opportunity of fully recognising them as those well-known bushrangers, who, in company with Gardiner, waited upon him professionally while he was conveying the mails in the neighbourhood of Murrumburrah, some two years past."
The robbery of the storekeepers generated outrage, highlighted in the 'Sydney Morning Herald' article of the 15th March 1862, where the bushrangers had escaped with over £1500 in cash and gold; "last night, from information, received, a party of men also started, in the hope of being enabled to capture some of the villains; but I am afraid their endeavours will be fruitless, for no man in the colony appears to have such a perfect knowledge of the country as Gardiner, and it is believed by many that he will make his way back to the Weddin Mountains, and defy the police. Without the Government increasing our police force considerably, and that without any delay, they must be prepared to hear of still further depredations, and the fault will rest on the Government, not the police, for at the present time, should any disturbance take place in the town, or any robbery is committed, the police are all away. This is holding out a premium for robbery and riot, for there is very little doubt there are parties both here and at the Lachlan who are implicated in these robberies and get information with respect to every movement that is made here-know the police force-where they are stationed-when they are absent and give the information to the parties who commit these robberies. If the Government do not show a determination to put down these robberies and apprehend these perpetrators of them, the police force of this place will be made the laughing-stock of the colonies. The police force of these fields must be considerably increased..."
Emerging as the unchallenged leader Frank Gardiner had surrounded himself with fierce and daring accomplices. One accomplice was Gardiner's closest ally John Davis, a native of Singleton and of the same age who was a carpenter by trade. Davis and Gardiner struck up a good friendship. However, Davis was as reckless as 'The Darkie'. When in company with McGuinness and Connolly, Davis' run was checked. On the 10th of April 1862, Davis and Gardiner's partnership came to an abrupt end. Lyons, Kennedy and Sanderson escorting prisoners alighted from a coach outside Brewers Shanty, 25 miles from Lambing Flat. Here they chanced upon Davis, M'Guiness and Connolly. Observing the three bushrangers suspiciously, the police challenged them to stand. Davis undeterred, withdrew his revolver and opened fire as his cohorts took flight. The battle royal between Davis and the police officers can be read through the link below and is well worth it. Davis would be shot several times and taken. Lyons had a finger shot off, and Mrs Brewer would be grazed on the cheek.
THE LATE DESPERATE ENCOUNTER WITH BUSHRANGERS
With Davis' capture, and Gardiner's newest chum Ben Hall recently arrested, this appeared in the 'Empire'; "things are assuming a quiet aspect since Davis was captured, and Benjamin Hall committed for trial for robbing Mr. Greig's team, on Friday last, by Sir F. Pottinger..."²⁶
|Gardiner, seated left.|
|Paddy Connolly, mate of|
|John Davis sentence|
Following Davis' capture, 'The Darkie', either to rescue or avenge his mate's capture, commenced searching passenger coaches along the Lachlan Road, seeking the troopers responsible for grabbing his mate. The following article is from the 'Sydney Morning Herald' 17th April 1862 refers to Gardiner in company with four bushrangers riding magnificent mounts, one of whom was the newly single Ben Hall; GARDINERISMS.- On Monday, as Greig's coach was passing between the Pinnacle and Green's on the road from the Lachlan to Burrangong, Gardiner, the bushranger, with four mounted associates, riding magnificent horses, dashed into the road and came in front of the leaders. After looking over the passengers, and without speaking, the party turned into the bush. It appeared the bushrangers were in search of someone, probably of one or other of the police who shot and captured Davis a Brewer's, Gardiner rode a brown horse and wore breeches and high boots, cabbage-tree hat with a black band, and black poncho spotted on the inside of like the skin of a leopard. Knowing the determined character of Gardiner, and the confidence he reposed in the man who was shot down and brought to the camp a few days ago, we cannot but believe that his coming to the coach on Monday was to look for and fight the police who captured Davis and regret that Sergeant Sanderson was permitted to go alone yesterday morning, on the box of Greig's coach, to the Lachlan. No officer should be exposed to unnecessary danger, but we feel assured that such is the case with Saunderson.
Moreover, not only was 'The Darkie' bold, daring and charming in his exploits, the thought or hint of any injustice or slur to his reputation was viewed seriously as an insult to his character. The infringement often necessitated a correction; therefore, Gardiner would pen letters to the Editors of the Burrangong and Lachlan newspapers highlighting his annoyance, rectifying any misleading accounts regarding his name, reputation, or rogue status.
One newspaper that repeatedly disparaged Gardiner's character was the 'Burrangong Courier'. The paper was editor-ed and owned by Mr G.D. Lang, son of the highly esteemed parliamentarian The Rev Dr Lang M.P. who had returned in 1834 from England on the same ship that brought out a five-year-old Francis Christie, 'The James'. Incensed at the unfavourable and derogatory reporting of the paper. Gardiner had been apprised that the influential father of the paper's owner was travelling through the Burrangong District gathering research for his highly anticipated article for the Sydney papers titled 'NOTES OF A TRIP TO THE WESTWARD AND SOUTHWARD'. Gardiner soon set his telegraphs to seek out the good Reverend for a parlay; "Dr Lang has just escaped being stuck up by Gardiner, the bushranger, on his way to Lambing Flat. Gardiner got information of the Doctor's change of route, but stumbled on a storekeeper by mistake, and passed him with the simple remark of —" You are not the person I expected." Gardiner does not approve of the way in which he is spoken of in the Doctor's son's paper, and says he wishes to have a talk with the Doctor on the subject. That is all." Whereby, on learning of Gardiner's desire to meet, Dr Lang altered his track; "I learned afterwards that Gardiner, who has recently been levying blackmail on the Lachlan and other roads of the Far West, had heard of my being at Burrangong, and intended to intercept me on the way, on hearing that I had had to leave the coach and travel by some other conveyance. But as we started within an hour after the coach that left with the troopers and prisoners, and by a different route, we were mutually deprived of the pleasure or benefit of an interview. I have been repeatedly congratulated since on my providential escape; but I confess I was rather sorry, when informed of the circumstance, that I had missed him, as I understood he had had some communication or complaint to make to me, to which I should have been quite willing to have listened attentively. From all I have heard of Gardiner, I could never have supposed that he had any intention either to rob or to maltreat me, regarding him, as I did, as a much more courteous person than Captain Macdonald." As a consequence and alerted, the reverend avoided coming into contact with Gardiner.
Accordingly, one such letter penned by Gardiner appeared in the Lachlan Miner and was reprinted in the unfavourable Burrangong Courier. According to Frank's anamnesis, the letter highlighted the misrepresentation of Gardiner's most recent activities, whereby 'The Darky' wished to put the editor straight; BURRANGONG. (From the Burrangong Courier, April 23, 1862)- The following extremely respectable note and a letter appeared in the Lachlan Miner of the 10th instant. The Miner published Gardner's letter as we give it below, with the annexed endorsement as to its authenticity: - "We have received the following letter, purporting to be from the hand of Frank Gardner, the notorious highwayman of Lachlan and Lambing Flat roads. The circumstances under which we became possessed of the documents can be known, and the original copies, with the envelopes and seals, seen by the curious, on application at this office, and they can then use what judgement they choose as to the genuineness of them. We give it to our readers as we received it."
To the Editor of the Burrangong Miner, Lambing Flat;
Sir. - Having seen a paragraph in one of the papers, wherein it is said that I took the boots off a man's foot and that I also took the last few shillings that another man had, I wish it to be made known that I did not do anything of the kind. The man who took the boots was in my company, and for so doing, I discharged him the following day. Silver I never took from a man yet, and the shot that was fired at the sticking-up of Messrs Horsington and Hewitt was by accident, and the man who did it I also discharged. As for a mean, low, or petty action, I never committed it in my life. The letter that I last sent to the press, there had not half of what I said put in it. In all that has been said there never was any mention made of my taking the sergeant's horse and trying him, and that when I found he was no good, I went back and got my own. As for Mr Torpy, he is a perfect coward. After I spared his life as he fell out of the window, he fired at me as I rode away; but I hope that Mr Torpy and I have not done just yet until we balance our accounts properly. Mr Greig has accused me of robbing his teams, but it is false, for I know nothing about the robbery whatever. In fact, I would not rob Mr Greig or anyone belonging him, on account of his taking things so easy at Bogolong. Mr. Torpy was to bounceable, or he would not have been robbed. A word to Sir F. P. Pottinger. He wanted to know how it was the man who led my horse up to me the Pinnacle did not cut my horse's reins as he gave the horse. I should like to know if Mr. Pottinger would do so? I shall answer for him by saying no. It has been said that it would be advisable to place a trap at each shanty on the road, to put a stop to the depredations done on the road I certainly think that it would be a great acquisition me, for I should then have an increase of revolvers and carbines. When seven or eight men could do nothing with me at the Pinnacle, one would look well at a shanty. Three of your troopers were at a house the other night and got drinking and gambling until all hours. I came there towards morning when all was silent. The first room that I went into I found revolvers and carbines to any amount but seeing none was good as my own, I left them. I then went out, and in the verandah found the troopers sound asleep. Satisfying myself that neither Battye nor Pottinger were there, I left them as I found them, in the arms of Morpheus. Fear nothing, I remain, Prince of Tobymen.'
FRANCIS GARDNER, the Highwayman.
"Insert the foregoing, and rest satisfy you shall be paid.'
|"Make way for the Royal Mail."|
Frank commenced organising a daring heist of Gold from a Royal Mail Escort, as such had been scrutinising the regular gold escort movements around the goldfields of Forbes and Lambing Flat for months. Recording their routes and departure times as well as the number of ounces of gold on-board each coach. What made it easier for the 'King of the Road' was that the details required were frequently advertised/published in the local newspapers' columns. Some papers even went so far as to highlight how to conduct the robbery as early as January 1862. Expressed in; The 'Western Examiner' 30th January 1862; "Lachlan escort has, for some time, past, formed a subject of comment here. It consists of four men only, and as if to facilitate their destruction by any gang of ruffians that may take it in their heads to "stick them up," they are cooped up, two in a row, in the vehicle containing the gold. It is pretty generally admitted that our whole escort system is faulty.
Frank Gardiner was cognizant of the very sentiment revealed in the paper and amazingly almost followed the analysis to the letter. Therefore, gratified by the knowledge that the small number of police guards could be overcome. Gardiner set about finalising the logistics for the robbery. John Maguire, a close acquaintance of Frank Gardiner, wrote of Frank's desire in 'The Biography of a Reliable Old Native' (written by P.H. Pinkstone, owner of the 'Hawkesbury Herald' and first published in the said newspaper after many in-depth interviews and fireside talks, c. 1906) "it was with Gardiner that the idea of taking the escort originated and took a fortnight to prepare for the attack. For some months before Gilbert and O'Meally were Gardiner's constant companions, and they had been talking about it together. They were getting full of the petty bailing-up business, and wanted to make a grand haul and then quit the country..."
McIvor. Moreover, another inspiration for success may well have sprung from Gardiner's recall of a bold and widely publicised robbery two years after his escape from Pentridge in Victoria on 20th July 1853, nine years earlier. Under strong guard by the Victorian police, a private gold wagon left from the McIvor diggings to Kyneton for the Melbourne escort. Subsequently, it came under attack and robbed by a gang of six men at Mia Mia. The men split into two groups, one section firing on the police while the other snatched the gold.
Sergeant Duins was riding at its head, and the fallen tree, as he suddenly came upon it, seemed to excite his suspicion. He held up his hand, and cried "Halt!" That was taken as the signal to fire. The bushrangers jumped from behind the trees and fired a volley having loaded their guns with a double charge—a bullet and heavy shot. Four of the escort Davis, Boeswater, Fookes, and Morton—instantly fell, seriously wounded. Davis was shot in the neck as he tried to unstrap his carbine, and another of the wounded men was pinned down by his dead horse. Sergeant Duins dashed his horse through the barricade, being repeatedly fired at, for the robbers carried horse pistols as well as guns, and one of them, George Melville, had a revolver. Two bullets lodged in the flanks of Duin's horse, and both he and Warner exchanged shots with the gang until their ammunition was exhausted, but at too long-range to be effective. Warner gave up when his horse was shot in the jaw, and the sergeant galloped to the nearest police station for assistance. It was all over in a few minutes. The wounded men were left on the ground just as they lay, and while two of the bushrangers galloped out to exchange shots with Duins and Warner, the others took the gold and cash, overlooking, however, one packet of £120, and rode away through the bush. They had disappeared while the smoke of their guns still floated over the box trees.
At the time, it was a sensation. The banditos cleared out with over 3,000 ounces of gold and £800 in cash. Their shot at freedom and riches was short-lived. However, Frank Gardiner played no part in the McIvor affair. As in 1854 Gardiner as Clarke was recorded as stealing horses from Tunea in July 1853; "stealing, at the Fish River aforesaid, on the 1st July last, five horses, five mares, and five geldings, of the goods and chattels of one John Reid." Two brothers named Francis, George and John were arrested with John turning Queen's evidence and ratted his partners out, six men were involved. The comparison to Daniel Charters and his turning Queens evidence is astounding. Those knicked included John Francis' brother George who committed suicide while in custody by slashing his throat in a water closet (Toilet). The other robbers were Joseph Grey, George Melville, George Wilson and William Atkins. George Melville, George Wilson and William Atkins were found guilty and hanged before, "an immense crowd of persons [sic] assembled to witness the spectacle." Joseph Grey escaped and vanished from Melbourne reputed to have made for Adelaide. Furthermore, the men involved in the robbery were all noted as married men except Grey. At no stage was Christie mentioned or alluded to in the evidence as one of the robbers. Apart from the road being blocked, the similarities between McIvor and Eugowra end there as Gardiner did not split his men. However, unlike at McIvor, Gardiner attacked as a concentrated group firing two volleys at the troopers penned in the coach.
As such, the subject of Christie/Gardiner's often linked historical involvement in the McIvor affair appears to have sprung from a Sydney newspaper that picked up a report from a Melbourne paper insinuating that Christie was a person of interest even leader in the affair. That, however, has proven to be inaccurate. Any use of that sentiment is untrustworthy in the extreme. Furthermore, the paper states that Christie is a native of Sydney. This is as well false. Gardiner had been in Victoria since 1838. Having left NSW with his family and Henry Munro coming from the Goulburn district and arriving as an eight-year-old at Campasne Victoria, only resurfacing in NSW after he escaped from Pentridge in 1851 along with fellow escapee Charles Herring who accompanied Gardiner and who as well linked up with William Fogg; 'Bell's Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer' Saturday 6th August 1853 Page 2 extracted from the 'Melbourne Herald' 'The Murderous Attack upon the Melbourne Private Escort.' CAPTURE OF THE LEADER OF THE GANG.—It will be some gratification to learn that the leader of the gang who attempted the wholesale and cold-blooded slaughter of the private escort yesterday week has been captured and recognised and that he admits himself to have been one of the party. The wretch was taken in bed on the following Saturday at M'Ivor Diggings, where he was lying, booted and spurred, with a female as abandoned as himself. He is an ill-looking fellow named Christie, about twenty-six years of age, and whose life has been one scene of the crime from first to last. He had not long escaped from Pentridge stockade, and it was the look-out for him as a runaway convict which led to his detection as one of the would-be murderers. Christie is said to be a native of Sydney, but this is not certain. A great many other parties have been taken upon suspicion and discharged for want of identification, but it is to be hoped and expected that the large rewards offered by the Government and the company for the apprehension of the gang will cause a "split" among the villains, and ultimately lead to the detection of all the culprits. As yet none of the gold or the money has been recovered.—Melbourne Herald. This alone was pure speculation. Long after Christie escaped from Pentridge in 1851, his escape details were continually published in the Victorian Police Gazette up to and including 1853 as well as local newspapers. This extract appeared after the McIvor robbery. [Extract B from Victoria Police Gazette, 30th December 1853, page 5] The undermentioned convicts escaped from Pentridge on the 26th March 1851: (4.)Francis Christie: brown hair, sallow complexion, hazel eyes; height, five feet eight and a quarter inches; age, twenty-one years. Reward, £10. Jon. M'Leire, I.G.P. And gives no indication of suspicion regarding the robbery.
Furthermore, Gardiner was in the habit of using many aliases'. An absconder would no doubt, if seized, have instantly provided one of the many false names in his repertoire. Apart from the one mention in the Sydney paper picked up from Victoria, there is no other link to Christie/Gardiner's alleged involvement. Finally, 'The Argus' 17th August 1853 names those arrested on suspicion of participation in the affair and half of whom were released. Note one, Christopher William Christy, as one detained then released in connection with the McIvor robbery. Therefore, Christopher William Christy/Christie may be the source of confusion and the person alluded to as; "he was lying, booted and spurred, with a female as abandoned as himself. He is an ill-looking fellow named Christie, about twenty-six years of age, and whose life has been one scene of crime from first to last"; The Escort Robbery.- "At the District Court yesterday the following prisoners, having been many times remanded, were, on the application of Captain McMahon, discharged from custody, there being no tangible evidence against them:-Patrick McQuin, William Bateman, John Murphy, John Wright, Christopher William Christy, and George Wilson. George Francis, John Francis, George Melville, William Atkins, and Agnes Atkins, were remanded for a week, Captain McMahon, saying that he expected by that time to be in possession of important evidence." Evidence suggests that Christy hailed from Tasmania and, as with the McIvor robbers, crossed to Victoria as a former convict, receiving a pardon in 1850. Christie appeared in a Tasmanian paper highlighting his arrest, 'The Tasmanian Colonist' Thursday 18th August 1853- The Late Attack upon the Private Escort. — "Two men, named Christopher Christie and John Wright, were brought into town on Saturday by the mounted police, on suspicion of having been concerned in the late diabolical attack upon the Private Escort. The only ground of suspicion at present is the fact of their having been seen under arms by a bullock-driver just before the time of the robbery, and at the place where it was perpetrated."
Consequently, all the evidence at the subsequent trials of the actual perpetrators, in which John Francis turned Queen's evidence, makes no mention of the involvement of Christie or a man fitting his description. However, in his evidence, the approver John Francis references Pentridge; "my brother and Grey and I took the right-hand road, the other three went through Pentridge. We three got in Melbourne about eleven on the same night."
Three of the men were convicted and hung for the crime. One committed suicide, and one turned approver. Another disappeared named Grey (Gray). Even on the Gallows, none about to face their maker or for possible salvation named names and took their leaps into eternity silent. Six in number participated. In another sweep of the robbery area, three other men were sent to trial as conspirators. They were Harding, Elson and McEvoy. They, too, were discharged soon after the examination as nothing could be proved against them as had been with Christopher Christy. Therefore, if Gardiner was reputedly in custody, how on earth did he wiggle out of the police grip. Bribery, doubtful. Simple, he was never in police custody and never at McIvor diggings post-1851 Pentridge escape.
Thus, January's 1862 'Western Examiners' assessment of how to rob a coach may well be the only grounds for Gardiner's strategy at Eugowra and McIvor purely a historical coincidence. Another plausible explanation may well have been a correspondent pursuing the police Victorian Hue and Cry in 1852, drew a link confusing Francis Christie's escape from Pentridge and the Francis brothers and Christopher Christie's apprehension's at the McIvor diggings.
Finally, the nail in the coffin of Gardiner's presence at McIvor came from Constable John Padget of the NSW police who in March 1854 stated under oath at Christie's trial for horse stealing in February 1854 where Gardiner as Clarke had stolen horses from the Fish River and Tunea district quite a time-consuming effort. Padget said under oath that he had known Christie for some time before 1853 under the alias' of both Clarke and Gardiner in Goulburn and was often in the company of Edward Prior and that Christie lived nearby Prior and frequented the Priors Hotel in Grafton Street Goulburn regularly.
|NSW Gold Escort.|
Accordingly, Gardiner found no trouble recruiting his accomplices once the sweet riches were revealed. Gardiner recruited seven men with himself in command: John Gilbert, John O’Meally, Daniel Charters, Alex Fordyce, John Bow, Ben Hall and the last one recruited Henry Manns. Final preparations for the bold attack now began in earnest, correspondence regarding the meeting and get together's between the gang members was facilitated by young Johnny 'The Warrigal' Walsh on Gardiner's orders; Maguire op,cit. "it was the Warrigal who took Gardiner's messages to the other members of the gang that worked that piece of brigandage— Charters. O'Meally, Hall, Gilbert, and the others..." The planning arose over many weeks, with the gang rendezvousing at both John Maguire and Ben Hall's homes at Sandy Creek station with some members camping in the home paddocks of the station;[sic] "evidence which went to show that Maguire's house was the rendezvous of Gardiner and his gang, where the attack on the escort was planned..."
Accordingly, with the knowledge in hand and the site decided 'The Darkie' set off on Saturday 14th June 1862 for Eugowra Rocks with his band-of-brothers. Bradshaw op. cit. "after receiving instructions on how to act, they rode away, and camped that night near Mrs. Feeley’s pub..." Upon an untroubled route to Eugowra Rocks, the men were sighted at South Waugan near Mr Brotherton's Inn late Saturday but drew no interest;[sic] "had been seen the night before, at the back of Mr Brotherton's Inn, at South Waugan," a short stopover at Daniel Charters sister Agnes Newell's hotel at Bandon near Eugowra the assailants arrived at their destination. On Sunday 15th June 1862, in preparation, Gardiner set about pacing the firing distance from the large rocks and seconding some passing bullock dray's for use as an obstacle for the expected coach and prepared his troops. Then sat patiently and waited.
View towards the track of the
To the whip John Fagan's surprise, the coach was impeded on its path by three bullock teams, their drivers not seen, drawn diagonally across the road hindering Fagan's passage. Fagan called loudly to the drays, "Make way for the Royal-mail", then commenced a circuit to pass around them. However, when the coach neared close to the clump of large rocks dominated by a huge boulder, men suddenly rose from their shelter. They were attired in red shirts, their faces blackened, and red comforters (scarfs) wrapped around their heads armed with rifles and revolvers. On Gardiner's command 'Fire', the men discharged their guns in a volley and riddled the coach, its timber frame splintering.
|Reputed image of the Escort|
Coach attacked at Eugowra
15th June 1862.
Photograph taken in 1917
by W.H. Burgess JP.
Held at the Mitchell Library.
After the gun-smoke cleared, Sgt Condell had suffered wounds in three places, the most serious being;[sic] "in the left side. In this case, the bullet penetrated a little above the hip, passed under the skin, and out by the back, making a wound two or three inches long," and Trooper Snr Const Moran in two places, one in the groin. Trooper Const Haviland was uninjured, fleeing into the bush with Fagan and Trooper Const Rafferty unhurt. The robbers shrieking in their adrenaline-charged victory carried away the escort boxes filled with gold, taking as well two rifles and one of the coach horses to carry the 169lbs of gold. Haviland and Fagan made for Hanbury Clement’s Station nearby. Quick about their work, the bushrangers fled. Hanbury Clements’ brother John returned to the scene with a party of men, who found only the idle drays and scattered contents of the mail bags, these they gathered up.
|Hanbury Clements station Eugowra.|
Bailliere's New South Wales Gazetteer and Road Guide, 1866.
George Burgess again relates the events during the robbery; op. cit
|Eugowra Escort Robbery|
Illustration by Monty Wedd. ©
Newspaper Image, 1867.
The police survivors gathered at Clements. After some medical attention, Clements rushed to Forbes in the darkness reined his horse at the police camp relaying the sensational news of the happenings at Eugowra. Soon after, Rafferty appeared at the Forbes police camp, believing all the other police were killed. As word spread, great pandemonium broke out as the circumstances were blazed across the 1860's internet, the Electric Telegraph. Later on, the Sunday evening of the robbery and the Clements' news in hand. Sir Frederick Pottinger and mustered his black-trackers including Billy Dargin and en-route to Eugowra seconded settlers some twenty in number and made for the scene of action arriving early on Monday morning;[sic] "assisted by Mr Wm Dargin, whose bushman like qualities are well known upon the Lachlan and Bogan." Sir Frederick Pottinger arrived and commenced the chase for the culprits. Subsequently, after obtaining fresh horses, the bullet-riddled coach was righted and proceeded to Orange with the wounded police. However, along the way, it picked up some passengers. Clements had also discovered the missing bullock drivers.
|Orange Post Office.|
|James Dalton licence|
for The O'Connell Inn.
New South Wales, Australia,
Certificates for Publicans'
Licences, 1853-1899 for
James Dalton, 1860.
After running down the creek about six miles, the tracks passed through the fence, which had been cut with a cold chisel - across the Eugowra road, and in a straight direction for Forbes. The robbers had then gradually wheeled back, recrossed the road and made for the river, over which they passed into Newell's paddock at Waugan, where they tied up their horses under a bank, and partook of a meal of half-cooked meat, the remains of which and some torn envelopes were found scattered about. Judging by appearances, the pursuing party arrived at the conclusion that the robbers had divided at this spot. For some time considerable difficulty was experienced in taking up the tracks from this paddock, the traffic throughout having been so great! Eventually, they were found-sometimes on the ground, but generally, through the bush, the track pursued being across the Wowingragong plains to within five miles of Fenn's Hotel, where it became so dark that, after tracking a mile on foot, the spot was marked by rearing up a log of wood against a tree in a patch of dead myall.³⁴
|View from Gardiner's camp|
Wheogo Hill. Weddin
Mountains in the foreground.
Courtesy Peter C Smith.
Following carving up the proceeds into eight equal shares, Ben Hall, Jack O'Meally, Manns, and Bow departed. With his share of 22lbs of gold and £460 in notes safely in his saddlebag, John Gilbert remained at the camp. Gardiner, Fordyce, and Charters placed their gold back onto one of the bags hung on the coach pack-horse. However, Gardiner required more carrying capacity; therefore, Charters was sent to Hall's home for extra saddlebags. Maguire and Hall lived within 500yds of each other. On approaching his good friends home, Charters was reputedly surprised by Sgt Sanderson in Hall's yard, turned tail, riding hardback to the hill, crying out as he came, "Look out the traps are upon us." Gardiner, now joined by the panicked Charters, and Johnny Walsh snatched up the reins of the pack-horse and bolted, proceeding towards the dense Weddin Mountains. In a rush, Gilbert jumped his horse and left his mate and leader to fend for himself. An act that brought their friendship to an acrimonious end. Sanderson followed the trail of Charters to the summit, following the tracks through his blacktracker Hastings. A quick survey of the villains camp, Sanderson quickly resumed the bushrangers trail.
However, the role of young Johnny Walsh following the men's return to Wheogo Hill has been overlooked in the main. 'The Warrigal' was the link in fetching the victuals needed to sustain the men as the robbery proceeds were divvied up. Furthermore, the man Gardiner sent to Hall's for saddlebags may well have been Walsh and not as suspected Gilbert nor Charters, as evidence suggests that it was the 'The Warrigal' who was sent to collect the saddlebags from Hall's as he would have not raised suspicion and that Maguire named Charters to protect the young larikin who on seeing the troopers quickly turned and fled. On Sanderson reaching the camp, he noted Warrigal's supply chain; "at the top of the mountain I found the remnants of a camp; there were sixteen empty bottles; some contained remnants of port wine, some of gin, some of rum, some of ale; there were biscuits about and tea with milk in it; I did not see how the robbers could have got milk on the spot without going to the stations round about; there were remnants of beef, bits of bread! Pieces of green hide tied to bushes, and bits of red tape; For Johnny's help in the camp at Wheogo. Maguire comments that the young lad received £100; Maguire op. cit. "When Gardiner's gang was dividing the money-taken from the Eugowra escort robbery, Gardiner in referring to young Walsh, "Here's the boy, He's got to have something." The others agreed that my brother-in-law was entitled to something. So they-gave him £100; in notes, all fivers. The boy had never seen so much money in his life before, and he was the proudest in the whole company.
For the first time in his lawless career, Gardiner panicked and made a catastrophic mistake. Fearing that, the police were almost upon him and the pack-horse slowing their escape. Gardiner dropped its reins and galloped off, leaving his, Charters and Fordyce's share on its back, calling out, "Go your own roads, and look after yourselves" This command was promptly acted upon, the other three promptly, disappearing in various directions..." A move that saw all The Darky's efforts lost forever. However, in the escape of Johnny Walsh, Maguire recalled; Maguire op. cit. "The Warrigal went for the Weddin Mountains, principally because he knew the country thoroughly The police were after him, and by some error or other, he found himself trapped on a sort of promontory formed by a bend in a pretty wide creek. It was a tight place for a man who badly wanted to keep on travelling. In front and on both sides was the creek. Behind were the police. To return meant certain capture. "So the Warrigal made up his mind and made it up quickly. He was riding a splendid little pony, and was, as I have said, a magnificent horseman. He put his pony at the creek where it seemed, less wide than anywhere else, and rode straight for liberty. And it was as if the pony knew the danger and the necessity for something special. Because it took that almost impossible to jump on the fly, cleanly like a bird. It was a wonderful leap and deserves to be remembered in history. Measured afterwards, it was found to be a clear, 22ft. Rejoicing, in his escape, the Warrigal went straight ahead for the mountains. The police, who had been hotly pursuing him, stopped at the creek. They could see the Warrigal— so narrow had his escape been— cantering up the slope on the further side, but none of them were game to face that desperate jump that had saved him from their clutches. So, after watching him a while, they rode back along the creek till they found a crossing place— and it was a good way- along, too, "By the time they got to the other side the Warrigal was far enough away..."
|The famous photo of Francis Christie and another believed to be John Gilbert|
possibly taken at Forbes in 1861/2 at Mrs Ryan's Photographic Studio.
|Map of Gardiner's retreat from|
Eugowra sketched by
Police 1862. The map on the right
re-drawn by Mr. Edgar Penzig.
The reward offered is good, but should have been £200 each for the first four robbers taken. There is a feeling here that the Government is decidedly liable for the loss on account of want of proper precaution. If properly managed by Pottinger, who is still out, I firmly believe all the gold will be got. It is most amusing to us to see by the Sydney papers that an impression prevailed that Gardner was not concerned in the robbery."³⁷
CENTRAL CRIMINAL COURT WEDNESDAY
The huge escort robbery would be Gardiner's final known bushranging exploit. Within days of the momentous feat, that sentiment was commented on and proved accurate, "Speculation has been very rife as to the personnel of the delinquents, not a few having fixed upon Gardiner and his gang as the perpetrators of the robbery, alleging that the direction of the tracts point to his beat; that his quietude of late was simply a ruse to lull suspicion and that the present affair is his last grand feat prior to closing his accounts as a disciple of Turpin. On this score we leave the public to form their own conclusions, merely premising that as a mere speculation there appears to be some feasibility in it."— Lachlan Observer, June 1862.
Authors Note: 'The Kyneton Observer' Thursday 25th September 1862. The Fat Girl in Kyneton,—Miss Mary Jane Youngman, commonly known as the Fat Girl, of the extraordinary weight of 12st 11lbs, though only 14 years of age, measuring 35 inches in height, and 3 feet 6 inches round the shoulders; 4 feet 3 inches round the waist; and 1 foot round the arm, which is only 9 inches in length; and 2 feet round the leg, which in length is exactly in foot; will be exhibited in Kyneton, on Friday and succeeding days at the Kyneton Theatre, Piper-street, and there can be little doubt hundreds will be induced to pay a visit to this wonder of the world. This young lady who, from reports which have reached us, has never shed her milk teeth or infant's hair, and who combines the stature of a dwarf with the form and muscular development of a giant, was born on the Lachlan, and may with safety be pronounced the "greatest " female prodigy the world has ever seen.
|"Gardiner's horse then began|
to rear and plunge."
Sketch by Percy Lindsay. c. 1935.
Great tension and excitement prevailed as Pottinger's information proved correct, whereby in the dead of night, Gardiner was seen returning to the warmth of Mrs Brown's embrace. At the midnight hour, the bushranger, like a ghost in the night mounted on his white charger, rode leisurely toward her home, completely unaware of his nemesis' presence. When Kitty emerged from the hut, the tension mounted for Pottinger gathered some wood and returned inside. Pottinger waited wound up like a ten-day clock. With complete surprise on the inspector's side, Gardiner on his white charger drew near when Pottinger suddenly rose and within touching distance abruptly called 'Stand in the Queen's name', instantly lifting his carbine point-blank at Gardiner and fired. Frank let out a shriek, completely startled. However, due to Pottinger's carbine's failure in firing, it allowed a panicked Gardiner to escape from the inspector and his eight carefully positioned troopers, two of which also discharged their weapons, missing Gardiner as he vanished into the night.
Raging, Sir Frederick Pottinger strode to the home and after some heated interrogation of both Kitty and her younger brother 'Warrigal', Pottinger arrested the lad;[sic] "Walsh, a boy aged seventeen years, was brought up in custody and charged with being an accomplice of Gardiner." Sir Frederick provided his version of events before the Forbes Bench during Kitty's younger brother John Walsh's arraignment; "On Sunday morning at half-past 3," said he, "I apprehended a youth named Walsh at the residence of his sister, at Wheogo; being aware that Frank Gardiner, the bushranger, was enamoured of Mrs Brown, and believing that he would take advantage of her husband's absence to tender his addresses. I proceeded on Saturday with eight men to the premises; I arrived at 12 p.m., and leaving four of the men in charge I went with Senior-Sergeant Sanderson and Trooper Hollister to watch the place; I subsequently sent Sub-Inspector Norton and Trooper Hollister to guard the front while Senior Sergeant Sanderson and I hid ourselves in the bush; we discovered the house dark and silent as though everybody was asleep; after about half an hour we saw a light struck and in a few minutes a woman made her appearance and commenced to collect wood for the purpose of making a fire, but neither Sergeant Sanderson nor I could identify the woman, as we were concealed at a distance of 150 yards from where she was standing, in a thick pine-tree scrub; it might be 20 or 25 minutes after my seeing the woman that I observed a man mounted on a white horse approaching Brown's house at a quiet pace, upon which I called upon Sanderson to fall back, and we did so to our original position; suddenly the noise of horse's hoofs sounded nearer and nearer, when I saw Gardiner cantering leisurely along; I waited until he came within five yards of me, and levelling my carbine at him across his horse's shoulder (the weapon, I swear, being about three yards from his body) I called upon him to stand; I cannot be mistaken, and on my oath I declare that the man was Frank Gardiner; deeming it not advisable to lose a chance I prepared to shoot him, but the cap of my piece missed fire; Gardiner's horse then began to rear and plunge, and before I had time to adjust my gun, he had bolted into the bush; as Gardiner was riding away on the back of the frightened animal, Sergeant Sanderson fired at him, as also did Hollister; I called out to those who could hear me to "shoot the wretch;" Gardiner however, made his escape; we then proceeded to Mrs Brown's house, and having seen her she frankly admitted that Gardiner had been at her place; I saw a bed made upon the sofa, and a four-post bedstead with a bed upon it in which two persons had been reposing; the boy Walsh was in it asleep and he declared that he had heard no noise and did not know what had happened; he had lodgings at his mother's and was not obliged to sleep where he was found; I immediately arrested him; on the table in the kitchen I saw the debris of a supper, a bottle of gin, a flask of powder and a box of revolver caps; some few days ago I received information that Gardiner had been seen, accompanied by a lad answering the appearance of Walsh, near to Mrs Walsh's residence, and that while a man named Humphreys was stuck-up on the road a youth like Walsh held Gardiner's horse while he perpetrated the robbery; when I came across the bushranger's camp a short time since I picked up a small monkey jacket, only large enough for a boy to wear; Walsh says he is 17 years of age, but I don't think he is more than 15; I may add that the gun missing fire was purely an accident, as Sergeant Condell, when he loaded it, took every precaution to prevent the misadventure."
Startled by the voice in the darkness followed immediately by the snap of the carbine, Gardiner plunged his horse into the scrub, reining the animal some 500 yds off to regather his nerve; "it seems that the black trackers found in the morning that Gardiner had dismounted about five hundred yards away, and actually seated himself down at the foot of a tree..." Lachlan Miner 12th August 1862.
|Kitty's home Wheogo.|
However, following this narrow escape, Gardiner quickly returned to the hut as the first light was breaking, and with Mrs Brown in toe, the pair commenced preparations to depart for the long trek to Queensland. Furthermore, a long-time resident of the Lachlan District who went by the pseudonym of John A Hux, and who was responsible for a lot of favourable comment about Gardiner and Co in the newspapers, wrote the following from information reputedly said by the very lips of Frank Gardiner regarding the narrow escape from Sir Frederick Pottinger. Gardiner's provides his assessment and surprisingly his admiration of Sir Frederick; "I asked him the particulars of Sir F. Pottinger's meeting him at Mrs. Brown's; he gave almost word for word the same statement made by Sir F. Pottinger of their meeting, adding that he never had the slightest suspicion of any police being near him, that he was quietly ambling along when he heard someone shout out "Stand," and almost immediately level a rifle. So sudden was it that he felt as if he were electrified. Jumping up in his saddle, and spurring his horse, he galloped away into the bush, distinctly hearing the cap of the rifle snap, and adding "by God, I thought I was a dead man". He returned to the hut the same night and took Mrs. Brown away. I asked him what they thought of Sir F. Pottinger, to which he replied, the papers may say what they like about him; some call him a coward, I wish he was. There is nothing of the coward about him; he is the only man in the police I care for, and the only one that hunts and keeps me moving; in fact, the place is getting too hot for me. I shall try and clear out. Such is the statement made by Gardiner himself, and I leave the question of the cowardice or not of Sir F. Pottinger between the statements made by the hon. Members Messrs. Harpur and Driver and the notorious bushranger Gardiner. I merely state facts..."³⁹ Gardiner susceptible to feminine charms had for some time had been the lover of Mrs Brown who was, in turn, was devoted to Gardiner. Gardiner's personality was stated as somewhat attractive. He was about 5 ft. 8½in. In height, athletic build, brown hair, hazel eyes, the Corsair face, and a smooth voice. For Catherine, she was described as 5ft 3in Sandy Blonde hair and striking beauty. In fact, all three of the Walsh women were referred to as attractive.
To compound matters, rumours of their departure abounded, whereby, soon after the confrontation at Kitty's, Gardiner was said to have taken passage on a ship the 'All Serene.' This was generally thought to have occurred during Gardiner's reputed disappearance from the Lachlan, June 62-August 62. Note the date. The 'All Serene' was recorded as sailing from Sydney for California on July the 16th 1862; FORBES, 25th August. "It is now reported by some parties who profess to have known Gardiner well, that this noted bushranger sailed some time ago for California, and that the party now impersonating him has done so with a view to facilitating his escape. The vessel in which the real 'Simon Pure' took his departure, curiously enough, is called the "All Serene." The rumour was followed up with another tale of Gardiner actually arriving in California; 'Mount Alexander Mail' Monday 29th September 1862; "The report which some time ago appeared in a telegram published by Messrs Gordon and Gotch, to the effect that Gardiner had actually sailed sometime since for California, did not obtain much credence at the time, as the many reports of Gardiner having been seen rendered it rather improbable. The report, however, appears to have been correct in every particular, as the latest news from California states-Gardiner arrived there all right in the "All Serene" from Sydney. This is a strange sequel to the report of Sir F. Pottinger and his cowardly police, who were afraid of the man on a white horse because they thought it was Gardiner..." However, instead of California, just where were they, for as far as the news went on, the 'Darkie,' he and Kitty had seemingly dropped off the planet.
Note: The ship 'All Serene' reputed to have carried Gardiner off was lost at sea on March 2nd 1864, while carrying a cargo of lumber under the command of Captain M. Meyers, having departed Victoria, Vancouver's Island 29th of November, 1863, for Sydney. In a fierce storm lasting weeks, the ship sank, setting the crew and passengers adrift into the violent sea were; "on counting our number there were thirty-one left; the captain's wife and two children, the chief mate, cook, a boy, and two passengers were drowned."
Although Frank Gardiner was gone, it was treated in the press as if his disappearance had become a major corporation's CEO resignation. The 'Illawarra Mercury' reported the following tongue-in-cheek comment regarding the transfer of bushranging responsibilities from Frank Gardiner to the bands' new CEO John Gilbert, now responsible for the South Western districts promulgated in July 1863. Gilbert's wide notoriety as Gardiner's lieutenant naturally had the press promote the rogue as the group's heir apparent; DISSOLUTION OF PARTNERSHIP. "It appears that the famous bushranger, Gardiner, has somehow backed out of his bushranging business, and retired from public life, leaving his associate Gilbert at the head of the concern. "Bell's Life" in Sydney, not unhappily hits off this change in the following notice:- "The public is respectfully informed that the partnership hitherto existing between Frank Gardiner, John Gilbert, and John O’Meally, 'Road Contractors,' trading in the South-Western districts under the style of 'Gardiner, Gilbert, and Co' was this day dissolved by mutual consent; and that the business will in future be carried on by the said John Gilbert and John O’Meally, as 'Gilbert and Company,' who will pay all debts of gratitude due by the late firm, and collect all outstanding accounts. In retiring from business, Mr Frank Gardiner begs respectfully to tender his acknowledgements to the Government for the 'liberal' measure of support (the new Police Act) accorded to him since he has been in business. Mr Gardiner has also to express his sincere thanks to his friends, the 'gentlemen' of the police, for patronage they have ('unwittingly') bestowed upon him, and solicits a continuance of that support for his successors, in whom he has every confidence that the business will be conducted by them with the same promptitude and energy that distinguished the late firm. "In reference to the above, Messrs. Gilbert and Company beg to assure their friends and the public generally that no exertion shall be wanting on their parts to merit a continuance of the confidence placed in the late firm of Gardiner, Gilbert, and Co. Messrs. Gilbert and Company respectfully announce that whilst diligently attending to the Mails, it will be their constant study to treat the females with every courtesy and gentlemanly consideration.
|Gardiner, Wheeo, 1862.|
In the same month of October 1862, great excitement was again generated when a report appeared of Gardiner's capture by none other than the 'Hero of Wheogo' Sgt Sanderson; GARDINER AGAIN.— "A report reached town yesterday evening by Mr. Robert's coach that the celebrated bushranger Gardiner had been apprehended by Sergeant Saunderson at Bathurst. From enquiries, we have made we are inclined to think that the rumour is false. Had such an occurrence taken place, some notice of capture would have reached us by telegraph."— Yass Courier Oct 1862. Another report states that Sir Frederick Pottinger was patrolling Wheeo in search of his man; GARDINER.— "As confirmatory of the intelligence given in our last issue to the effect that Gardiner, together with some of his mates, had been seen in the vicinity of Wheeo within the last ten days, we may state that we have since learnt that Sir Frederick Pottinger and eight troopers were in that neighbourhood about the same period, on the lookout for the colonial Dick Turpin, but that the baronet, unfortunately, "missed in his usual way." — Goulburn Chronicle Oct 62.
Later Gardiner was again reported at Wheeo in October when subscribers complained of late or missing newspapers-'Empire' 2nd November 1862; "From Wheeo we learn that subscribers there got sometimes five or six copies at a time, and it is suggested that as General Gardiner has been lately seen in that locality, it is possible that, as he takes an interest in the news of the day, he may probably have intercepted them, and only forwarded the papers when he has perused them at his leisure." There can be no doubt that Frank Gardiner was scrutinising as many newspapers as he could get his hands on to help facilitate his pending departure and be abreast of police activities.
As such, rumours persisted that Gardiner had fled the colony with Mrs Brown. Just where had the mythological bushranger evaporated too. Queensland, not California, the pair fled too. Evidence suggests their departure occurred in late October early November 1862. The trek north would take the couple several months whereby evidence indicates the pair travelled via Dubbo crossed the Barwon River near Walgett, then on to St George, Miles, Taroom, Theodore, Rannes passing through Rockhampton arriving at their final destination Apis Creek near Peak Downs sometime in March/April 1863, a trek of some 900 miles. Along the route, Catherine told of a man joining them as a servant; "no one but a servant man accompanied us; he did not start with us, but joined us on the road; He went with us to Apis Creek; he left Apis Creek sometime afterwards." Constable Wells, who was one of those instrumental in 1864 in the capture of Gardiner, recounted their movements; "About 7:30 p.m.-that evening Pye and I went to the store and there saw behind the counter Mrs. Brown who was Gardiner's paramour, and who had accompanied him from Weddin Mountains (N.S.W.), leaving her husband there, and going via the Barwon to Rockhampton, thence to Appis Creek, where she settled under the name of Mrs. Christie." (Kitty claimed they arrived in June. However, this may have been a ruse.)
However, before they arrived at Apis Creek, it was observed by a Mr J.E. Richter of the redoubtable pair's appearance at Rannes 80 miles short of Rockhampton. Frank had attempted to negotiate the purchase of a new hotel owned by a Mr Pendrigh built entirely of split timber providing eight rooms adjacent to the main road a mile from Rannes. Mr Pendrigh installed its inside fittings. The new hotel contained a bar and accommodation long before its full completion. Pendrigh's hotel became 'The Netherby Arms.' Richter had observed the pair's cut, which with the limited female company in the distant back-blocks, Catherine stood out with her attractive good looks and lush blonde hair and noted Gardiner's athletic appearance. They made for a stunning couple. While staying at Rannes for some two days, Ritcher noted Catherine's proficiency as a horsewoman; “whilst, these negotiations were in progress, the woman one morning was noticed in the act of catching one of the horses on the grass within a few chains of the hotel. The horse was restive, and would not allow itself to be caught as easily as usual. She, however, had got a hold of the mane above the wither and ran alongside the animal as it trotted, in the endeavour to stop it. Then the horse commenced to canter. As the pace was becoming too fast and still having hold of the mane, she gave a spring and landed on its back, after which the horse was as much under control as if it had a bridle on its head. It was the smartest bit of athletics I ever saw outside of a circus...”⁴² The gentleman later that day observed as well Gardiner's prowess with the horse; Loc. cit. "later in the day, the man was also observed catching the same horse. It acted in the same way. As he had hold of the mane above the wither, and trotting as before, the man, with the other hand, suddenly caught hold of the horse's foreleg, and, as quickly giving the knee a bend, brought the astonished animal to the ground. On the third morning, as all negotiations for the purchase of the place had failed, this interesting pair packed up and resumed their journey to Rockhampton, distant 80 miles. It was Gardiner, the bushranger, and the woman was Mrs. Brown." (Rannes was originally the pastoral run of James Leith-Hay taken up in 1852. The town of Rannes was surveyed by A.F. Wood surveyor, in July 1860.)
Never before published.
Following the extraction of the dray, the four commenced travelling together. Catherine revealed;[sic] "we overtook Craig as he was driving a dray and two horses along the road; It was very wet weather when we first met Craig at Yaamba, and he was stuck-up by the weather, and my husband lent him a horse. There was then a conversation between my husband and Craig, and we travelled in company together all the way on to Apis Creek. The conversation was regarding opening a store and a public house. The only reason why we travelled together was, we were all of us going the same road." During their conversation, Gardiner stated he was going to Connor's Range 40 miles south of Mackay; however, Craig disclosed that he had a hotel near completion and much closer in the distance at Apis Creek; "in the course of the conversation which ensued, it transpired that Mr. Christie was on his way up the country to start a store upon Connor's Range, and Mr. Craig on a similar errand to Apis Creek at which place a building was already in the course of erection. It ultimately was arranged that a partnership should be formed upon Christie paying down the sum of £61. It appears that Mr. Craig had no interest in the store which was afterwards added by Christie to the public-house..."⁴⁴ This was confirmed during Gardiner's court appearance at Rockhampton. Catherine stated;[sic] "I know that this receipt (produced) is in Craig's handwriting; it is signed by him, and it is a receipt for £61, for my husband's share of the house; the signature on it is "A. D. Craig", being requested to read it out the witness took the document in her hand, and did so partly when she said she could not make out the handwriting."
|Maria Louisa Craig.|
Never before published.
|Apis Creek site of Craig and|
The marker was erected by
the Rockhampton Historical
Society in 1970.
Courtesy Gary Hunn.
I gave him every encouragement and promised him he would get his license if the house was a good one. I made up my mind to stop there on my next trip down from Peak Downs (in Australia, especially Queensland, it is down to town, and not up), which I did, camping there sometime after with some fellow-travellers and many horses for two nights, when we were well taken care of by Christie and his partner, whom we found very decent fellows, the accommodation being superior to anything on that road, as the respective wives of Christie and his partner thoroughly understood how to make travellers comfortable. On another occasion when camping there, I remember giving into Christie's charge for the night a saddle-bag with a considerable sum in cheques and notes that I was about to pay into the Rockhampton Bank, which he kept quite safe for me."
The reserve demonstrated towards Oscar De Satge exhibited by the Christie's was understandable, for one slip of the tongue could mean exposure and arrest. Furthermore, it appeared in the press but was never fully verified. However, before the trek north, Gardiner and Catherine shortly after his August 62 confrontation with Pottinger. Gardiner may have visited family in Portland, Victoria. It was recorded in Rockhampton during evidence at Craig's hearing whereby Catherine stated that she had come from the Edward River claiming it was in the Lachlan District;[sic] "It is not quite twelve months now since I left New South Wales. I came from the Edward River. That she did not know where it was situate." Edward River was situated 200 miles south of Wheogo and 50 miles Northeast of Swan Hill across the Murray River. Therefore it is not beyond the realms of possibility that in the weeks following departure from Wheogo to Wheeo, the pair made for Gardiner's former home and on return knicked the horse called 'Racer' from Peter Beveridge near Swan Hill, Victoria. However, her testimony also had implications for Frank Gardiner. Therefore, her statements may have been more in tune with obfuscation.
Furthermore, in January of 1864, three months before Gardiner's arrest, a reporter for the 'Geelong Advertiser' trumped the police and made the sensational claim that Gardiner was indeed in Queensland. The reporter appeared to have a very credible source. Moreover, the article may also have been the catalyst for the police to act finally. Contrary to the various reports that Catherine's sister Bridget's lover James Taylor, the man Bridget Hall deserted Ben Hall for may have informed on their whereabouts via a note received from Kitty and sought the substantial reward is doubtful. The reputed letter sent that may have exposed their whereabouts is as follows;
6 December 1863.
No doubt you will be surprised to receive a letter from me, Kate Brown, that was, now Mrs Christie. A friend is writing this for me. Frank told me not to write, but I want to know how things are on the Lachlan. How is my dear sister Bridget? Give her my love and say I am quite well. I hope my sister Helen and my brother Johnny and Step-Mar are all well, also old friends. Please don’t tell anybody you heard from me, only write me a few lines to Mrs Frank Christie, Aphis Creek. Frank and I are quite well. Hoping you are the same.
However, it is most doubtful that the letter is authentic, as Johnny died in March 1863. His death was carried widely in the newspapers Australia wide, even debated in the NSW parliament. Catherine herself could read and write well and did not require others to pen a letter for her. (See marriage certificate this page.) Furthermore, Frank scrutinised every newspaper available. Keeping track of any news regarding their former member's current activities as they passed through Apis Creek. In 1863 Gardiner still filled the news columns regularly. Therefore, news of Catherine's brother's death would have been known. Consequently, with Kitty being so conscious of their predicament, the idea of revealing their whereabouts with a return address is suspicious. (Source of the letter is Mistress of the Rough Seas, Ellen, Bridget & Kate by Xenith)
In turn, another claim is that John Brown himself turned on the couple. Others claim a former digger from Lambing Flat recognised Gardiner or Catherine and went to Sydney seeking the reward. However, all hearsay as the reward for Gardiner's capture was paid to Detective McGlone, a paltry sum of £20 of the original £500. Saturday 7th January 1865; THE REWARD FOR GARDINER'S CAPTURE - "We understand that the entire sum paid by the Government to detective McGlone for the capture of Gardiner was £20 and that his position in the service is no higher now than it was previous to that event. When the performance of special and dangerous duties, such as the arrest of the most notorious bushranger that even New South Wales ever produced, is thus inadequately recognised, there is little inducement for what in the navy is termed "zeal for the service" in the police force" - Young Tribune.
The Christie's whereabouts had been full of mystery, rumour and innuendo for the past nineteen months, as attested to above. As such, the time had drifted by with no apparent hindrance as the happy couple adjusted to their new life of anonymity far from their previous home in NSW. However, the blissful hiatus would come to an abrupt end. Upon information accumulated by the NSW police, Detective Daniel McGlone, constables James Pye and Wells were dispatched to Queensland to substantiate the current intelligence regarding Gardiner's presence at Rockhampton or its surroundings. Constable Wells states on their secondment for the task; "Early in February! 1864, the late Capt. McLerie organised our party, consisting of Daniel McGlone, James Pye, and myself, McGlone being In Charge. We left Sydney by steamer for Rockhampton, which was then in a state of flood. Upon our arrival there, we found it impossible to proceed on foot as diggers."
|Dramatised Illustration of|
Gardiner's arrest at
Apis Creek QLD,
|BALCLUTHA; Iron passenger|
steamship built by Caird & Co.,
Greenock Scotland. Lost with
all hands in 1881.
Courtesy State Library of
However, all was not kosha between the men. An altercation bordering on mutiny arose between Pye, Wells and McGlone, the officer in charge who had refused to divulge their expedition's purpose. Indignant at not being taken into McGlone's confidence, Pye and Wells declined to proceed unless fully informed of their task. Unhappy, McGlone relented and presented a picture of their quarry Frank Gardiner who McGlone stated was about Peak Downs through certain information.
NSW Police Gazette 1865.
George Wells had joined the NSW police in October 1863, promoted to a constable on 1st February 1864. For Wells and Pye's efforts in securing Gardiner, they both received from the Police Reward Fund £15, noted as extra for Gardiner's arrest. Not a share of the reputed £500 on offer. The full £500 was reputedly awarded without publicity to an unknown recipient. There is also speculation that part of the reward was granted to the Qld Native Police for their apprehension assistance. Later in 1865, an additional bonus for the three officers was presented with McGlone £40 and Pye and Wells £30. Furthermore, most surprising is that McGlone, a 2nd Class Detective and leader of the expedition, was not, unlike Sanderson, the 'Hero of Wheogo' or Lowry's killer Stephenson promoted after taking the dashing Frank Gardiner. In 1868 McGlone left the NSW police under mysterious circumstances as a 2nd Class Detective. McGlone married Sarah Gibbons, a widow, in 1869 and went to Queensland, c. 1870s after selling his hotel in Sydney, where he lived at 135 Elizabeth Street. McGlone's wife Sarah passed away in Brisbane in 1909, and the couple had one son, b. 1870 named Daniel.
George Wells' Police number was 1349, and he retired in 1903 after a distinguished career on a pension of 8 shillings a day. At the time of writing resided at 'Ferndale,' Main Arm, Mullumbimby (N.S.W.), Wells held an Imperial medal.
"I shall now confine my report to the simple facts of the arrest at Appis Creek, where Gardiner, under the name of Frank Christie, was carrying on the business of storekeeping and was associated with a man named Craig; who attended to a public house, both store and pub, being under one roof of bark and slab, evidently erected hurriedly dining the 'rush' at the Peak diggings, to which place numbers of miners on that road travelled from Rockhampton. Early in February 1864, the late Capt. McLerie organised our party, consisting of Daniel McGlone, James Pye, and myself, McGlone being in charge. We left Sydney by steamer for Rockhampton, which was then in a state of flood. Upon our arrival there, we found it impossible to proceed on foot as diggers (the character we had assumed) for weeks: Meantime we obtained a pack-horse, tent, and necessary supplies, and when the Fitzroy River was crossable we started out; not, however without some unpleasantness for McGlone, who refused to divulge to us the object of our expedition, until Pye and I refused to cross the river unless he did so. Seeing our determination, he produced a photo of Gardiner, and said he had certain information that he was supposed to be in the direction, of the Peak Downs; and that we were to arrest him if possible, but not without his (McGlone's) instructions. We then proceeded with a pack-horse as diggers, via Yamba, and after a week's journey, we arrived at Appis Creek and pitched our tents about 6 p.m. at a spot from which we could see the store and public house before described, which was about 700 yards distant from our camp, on the opposite side.
We three then had a conversation as to what should be done, in the event of Gardiner being located there to secure his arrest. McGlone suggested that Pye and I should go to the store and purchase some goods, leaving some of them to be called for next morning, meantime to note particulars of the buildings and all persons there, if possible avoiding any suspicion. McGlone to remain at the tent and pretend to be suffering badly from dysentery. About 7:30 p.m.that evening Pye and I went to the store and there saw behind the counter Mrs. Brown who was Gardiner's paramour, and who had accompanied him from Weddin Mountains (N.S.W.), leaving her husband there, and going via the Barwon to Rockhampton, thence to Appis Creek, where she settled under the name of Mrs. Christie.
When we had purchased a few things, Pye asked for 1-cwt. of flour; this she could not supply herself, and she then called "Frank," who had not made his appearance up to then, but who doubtless had been listening to us and watching from his bedroom, from which a door opened to the back of the counter in the store. After a minute or more he made his appearance at the door where he stood for a short time speaking to us, inquiring where we came from etc. We told him that we were delayed on the road from Rockhampton owing to our mate being very bad with dysentery, that he was unable to travel, and was then lying in our tent. Gardiner then quite coolly supplied the flour, which we arranged to call for in the morning. Pye paid for the goods and asked if we could get some sago and burnt, brandy for our mate in the tent. Gardiner at once asked Mrs. Brown to make the sago, and invited us to come into the bar to have a drink, after which, Mrs. Brown brought in the sago warm.
While talking at the bar about different diggings we had been on Gardiner very kindly burnt some brandy and put it into the sago for our mate. All this time Gardiner stood under a lamp with a shade that was hanging over the bar, which threw the light on his face, upon which could be seen the distinct marks on his forehead that had been caused by the whip used by Sergeant Middleton, at Fogg's, when he and Constable Hosie arrested Gardiner after a great struggle, and when Peisley his confederate, rescued him from Hosie's custody. After chatting with Gardiner for some considerable time, and satisfying ourselves that he was the man we wanted, we thanked him and said we would call for our goods next morning, and then went back to the tent and reported progress to McGlone.
After explaining the situation of the place, etc. as above stated, and also that we had seen two rifles, which we afterwards found to be loaded, standing underneath the lower shelves of the store behind the counter, close to where Gardiner would approach from his bedroom to the store, McGlone immediately said that if Gardiner was behind the counter of the store when we called in the morning for our flour, etc., we were not to attempt to arrest him until some more favourable opportunity offered and to pass on as diggers to the Peak Downs. These instructions, of course, caused Pye and myself to rebel and made matters unpleasant. We two then retired to the side of the creek to decide what should be done in the morning. Pye said to me "What are you going to do?- I'm not going a foot further if we don't intend to arrest when we have the chance, as it may leak out that detectives from New South Wales are about here and our game will be a failure."
I quite agreed with Pye; adding that we would only return disgraced if after seeing Gardiner, we were afraid to arrest him. Pye then said: "Very well, you and I for it; if Gardiner is behind the counter when we go into the store to get our goods, one of us, the neatest to him, will seize him fast, and the other handcuff him and tie his legs; and, look out for sharpshooters." There were four other men on the premises.
We returned to the tent, but said nothing to McGlone as to our decision in the morning, only that we would strike camp early, and have the horse packed by sunrise to start. Meantime it was arranged that McGlone would secure the assistance of Lieut. Brown, with his native police, they being in the locality, to be at the hotel and store in the morning, in the event of an arrest being made to assist in escorting the prisoner to Rockhampton. This being arranged we left the camp next morning at sunrise for the store, Pye leading the pack horse and I close behind him, both of us being armed with repeater revolvers.
When we crossed Appis Creek and were approaching the store, we saw two men splitting shingles about fifty yards from the store, on the opposite side of the road and Gardiner standing talking to them. Pye, in a low tone of voice, said to me: "Look out; let us cut him off the store," for Gardiner was walking toward the store to meet us. Pye led the pack horse close to the store door, and I seeing a kangaroo dog lying on the ground on Gardiner's path to the store, said: "Good morning," and pointing to the dog added, "that is a fine dog," at the same time calling Pye's attention to it. That was the office for arrest. Gardiner was then about five yards from the store door, and Pye stepped back towards him: I instantly put my revolver to Gardiner's face, calling upon him to stand, upon which he was taken so much by surprise that he stepped back towards Pye, who quickly threw his arm around Gardiner's neck, and put his knee to his back, and in a moment the ex-bushranger was on his back. I then snapped the handcuffs on to him and tied his legs with a piece of rope that I had prepared in my loose shirt. Meantime the two men that were splitting ran across to Gardiner's assistance. Craig also rushed from his hotel door with Mrs, Brown, who was making towards the store screaming. But being covered with our revolvers, and being told that we were police, they all stood back.
McGlone, who had stayed back until then, rushed up in a most excited state and, falling down upon Gardiner, placed a second pair of handcuffs upon him. Lieut. Brown, with his black police, then appeared on the scene, and the latter were off their horses instantly and surrounded the place to prevent escape.
Lieut. Brown, seeing McGlone in such a state of excitement, walked over to where Gardiner was sitting on the ground and asked Pye if McGlone had been drinking; and when told that he did not drink, Lieut. Brown remarked: "If he don't drink, he must be mad, for I never saw any man so excited without some cause."
After Gardiner had sat up, he asked for a drink of water and begged to have the handcuffs taken off. This being refused, he commenced pleading his innocence to the charges he was arrested upon. However, it was arranged to remove him to Mr. McKeller's (McLennan's) station, about two miles distant, with four others— Craig, the two splitters and the man cook— who were arrested on suspicion. The whole of the prisoners were then marched to Mr. McKellar s station, where they were placed in room, under my charge, Gardiner being secured in a room separately.
I had four black police to assist in guarding them that night, until Lieut. Brown, McGlone and Pye returned from the store and hotel, after taking an inventory of all property, gold, money, etc., found on the premises.
Next day the prisoners were escorted to Yamba and thence to Rockhampton. Mrs. Brown accompanied the escort, and showed great courage in swimming her horse over the Yamba River, which was flooded at that time; and she followed us from Rockhampton to Brisbane, thence to Sydney, trying at every opportunity to bribe me and others with money to get Gardiner's liberty before reaching Sydney. She nearly succeeded in securing his escape at Brisbane owing to McGlone's blunder in not taking Gardiner direct to Sydney from Rockhampton from which town he was remanded."
|George Wells Record of Police Employment joined 29th October 1863.|
Australia, New South Wales, Registers of Police Employment, 1847-1885
All were marched to Mr M'Lennan's station in pounding rain. Gardiner was placed on the lead horse, handcuffed, his ankles tied under the horse. He rode along quietly and easily, as if free. The black boys rode alongside with their carbines ready. The NSW troopers in front, while McGlone and Mrs Brown brought up the rear. McGlone was mounted on a big powerful black horse, a grand horse up to 17 hands, well known locally by the name of 'Darky.' Departing at daylight, the police and their prized prisoner passed through Marlborough, Princhester, Canoona, and Yaamba. The Yaamba river was in flood, forcing the troupe to negotiate its confines. Kitty once more displayed her prowess as a horsewoman driving her charge into the raging waters crossing without incident, much to the accompanying men's admiration. When within eleven miles of Rockhampton, the police camped to have dinner and dry off. Gardiner's arrest had been a painful shock to all who knew him, especially the Peak Downs' diggers. Whilst camped, McGlone read over the charges to the prisoner to which Gardiner exclaimed;[sic] "in June '62 — is that what you say — '62?" The posse without fanfare arrived in Rockhampton at seven p.m. on Sunday, here Gardiner was placed in a room with a strong guard and the other men were set at liberty, having been detained solely to prevent the alarm from being raised. Craig, the publican, the partner of Christie, however, was charged with harbouring Gardiner and locked up.
|An axe grindstone|
of the type at
|Reputed to be the remains|
of Fogg's hut.
The full text of the examination of Frank Gardiner, Archibald Craig and Catherine can be accessed via the link attached;
As Gardiner was held in Gaol, Catherine would make every effort to hinder McGlone, even attempting to procure a horse and avenue for escape.
|Craig's death certificate.|
Sadly for Craig, he would die of a fever in 1868 whilst erecting a new hotel some eight miles from him and Gardiner's former establishment. Catherine Christie, formally Mrs Brown, was next charged with assisting and concealing the prisoner Francis Christie alias Gardiner. Constable Canning and detective M'Glone were the only two witnesses who gave evidence in this case. The latter produced a portrait of her, which had been given to him to identify her. (Sadly lost forever.)
of Catherine Brown
|East St, Rockhampton|
By the Bench: He knew of no charge against her in Sydney, nor of any warrant having been issued for her apprehension; he did not arrest her at Apis Creek, but she accompanied Gardiner and the other prisoner down to Rockhampton; he arrested her that morning. This case lasted a considerable time, and it was nearly six o'clock when the Bench, after a long deliberation in the magistrates' private room, decided to discharge the prisoner from custody. Mr. Bellas applied to the Bench for an order permitting him to visit his client (Gardiner) in the lock-up. Mr. Dick opposed the application, which the Bench refused. The Court rose at ten minutes past six, when the prisoner, Christie alias Gardiner, was removed under a strong guard to the lock-up, followed by a large crowd of persons.⁴⁹
|List of Gardiner's|
property at Apis
NSW Police Gazette.
From Rockhampton, Gardiner was transported to Brisbane by steamer, and Detective McGlone cabled a jubilant Captain M'Lerie; The following telegram was received by the Inspector-General of Police from detective McGlone: — "Brisbane, March 13th."— "I have arrived here with Francis Christie, alias Clarke, alias Gardiner. I have no doubt, but he is the man. I arrested him on the 3rd instant at Apis Creek. He corresponds erectly with his description in the Police Gazette and his portrait. Mrs. Brown is with him, and there is no doubt about her identity. She is coming with us, but not in custody. She will follow her paramour. She and Frank Gardiner's partner were arrested by me but were discharged by the Rockhampton bench. I shall arrive with Gardiner safe in Sydney about Saturday. I left Rockhampton on the 10th and arrived here today at noon. Gardiner is lodged safely in the gaol here. No steamer here for Sydney yet, but one is expected. Will let you know when I leave for Sydney, If Richards is required to identify Gardiner, he is making lemonade on the Wentworth diggings. The black horse 'Racer'—branded B in a circle with DS&R over, near the shoulder, star—is now in Rockhampton in charge of the Police, and will be forwarded per Belcutha (s.), which will leave on Monday, 14th. Please look out for him. This horse is supposed to be properly of Mr. Peter Beveridge, J.P, Swan Hill, Victoria."⁵⁰ The man Richards also known as 'Double Dummy', was present at Maguire's during the pre-planning of the Eugowra hold-up 1862 and a key witness together with Charters in February 1863 Escort trials. However, following the trial and convictions, Richards failed to gain a part of the Escort reward money.
|The Brisbane Courier,|
28th February 1865.
|Port Of Brisbane|
As a result, McGlone would not be caught out again as had been reported in ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’, Monday 21st September 1863; - "on Sunday morning the 6th instant, at about one o'clock, Mr. D M’Glone, a detective officer stationed at Forbes, but then in Bathurst attending the Assizes was most brutally assaulted whilst in the execution of his duty, and a prisoner, who had but just been arrested was rescued..." It is stated that a magnificent horse was in readiness for Gardiner in the event of his release by the operation of the writ of Habeas Corpus and may have affected an escape whilst present at court. It was a cunning plan, and doubtless, if the effort had succeeded, Gardiner may have this time been able to flee the country. Therefore, on that account, McGlone, frustrated by the writ, prevented any interference by the court removed his prisoner from the gaol to the awaiting vessel to convey him to Sydney. As Gardiner was held in custody and examined, a correspondent noted Gardiner's demeanour throughout the proceedings; "Christie, or Gardiner, has never spoken since his arrest, and has exhibited a coolness of demeanour indifferently attributable to conscious innocence, or the despair of a determined man. The man's face is by no means unpleasing; a masculine, well-formed enough set of features implanted in a bold front, with a keen eye a well-set and enduring form. Add to these a head of dark hair and a moustache, and you have a type that may be found in hundreds wherever the south counties man had been quickened by a spell at colonising! Perhaps, if you glanced at the face, you might, if you gave its expression a thought, deem it the property of one calculated to be a good backer in a row, and by no means untrustworthy as times go..."⁵² (Habeas corpus is a recourse in law through which a person can report an unlawful detention or imprisonment to a court and request that the court order the custodian of the person, usually a prison official, to bring the prisoner to court, to determine whether the detention is lawful.)
In the Darlinghurst courthouse, a correspondent of the Yass Courier, also observing the procedures, wrote this of Gardiner's deportment and appearance; The Yass Courier's Sydney correspondent says:-- "Gardiner is a man about 5 feet 8½ inches in height, well built, neither stout nor thin. He looks at least forty, though he is only thirty-two, and care and painful thought have set their mark upon him so that all men could read it. He looks troubled in mind, as no doubt he is, for I am informed by the officer who received him from the Queensland steamer that he has aged very much since he first saw him and is quite an altered man. He has dark, coarse hair, and his whiskers, somewhat shaggy, run under his chin, and he wears a moustache. He has a large, coarse mouth, the worse feature in his face, his eyes are dark, bright and piercing. Altogether he is an ordinary looking man, and you would take him for a labourer, or a gold-digger, or a small huckster. Passing him in a crowd, you would not look at him twice. As for the portraits published of him, they are vile caricatures, and no more like him than I am like the Emperor of China or Austria. His forehead is crossed with several large wrinkles, evidences, it seems to me, that a course of crime does not tend to give a man a contented mind or a jocund heart. You will best understand me when I say he looks in trouble. He was very well dressed in black, and during the whole of the examination behaved like a man who was sensible of the danger which environs him."
However, having faced court for the first of two trials, Frank Gardiner was acquitted, escaping societies retribution over his violation of the law and victims and verdict of not guilty over the Middleton and Hosie encounter by twelve of his peers. The packed courtroom erupted in jubilation at his acquittal, much to the judge's horror. So much so that Justice Wise furiously singled out a boy of fifteen, the son of a local magistrate, for expressing his gleefulness and threatened him with incarceration. The press were dumbfounded at the rejoicing of the court patrons;[sic] "his daring exploits appealed to the imagination of a people in whose blood the felon taint still runs. His crimes instead of awakening horror win admiration. So deep and all pervading was the enthusiasm excited by his acquittal that a respectable boy of fifteen, the son of a local Magistrate, was caught in the act of loudly applauding the verdict of the Jury, and narrowly escaped being committed to prison by the indignant Judge..."
|Sir Alfred Stephen|
Again, they state that Mr Hewett was thirty yards in the rear of the cart, whereas, on the contrary, he was thirty yards in advance of the cart. Again, it was I who told them to bail up, using no other words nor threats, and at the same time, Mr Hewett received a similar order from the four men. While I was directing Mr. Horsington where to turn off into the bush, a shot went off from one of the four men, caused through the restlessness of his horse. I at the time was within two or three yards of Mr. Horsington and his wife I immediately turned round and asked, who fired that shot? McGuiness made an answer and said "I did, but it was purely accidental," upon which I replied, that as soon as he had his share of the spoil that he should leave the party, which he did that night. The man McGuiness, who was thirty yards away from me, amongst the rest of the party, distinctly heard my question, as to who fired. I also heard his reply, and yet Mr Horsington, his wife, and boy, who are only a yard or so from me, positively swear that they heard nothing of this conversation.
Again, on a former occasion, Mr, Horsington, his wife, the boy, and Mr Hewett positively swear as to the identity of the man Downey, as to his being of the party, now, I sincerely and solemnly assert that this man was not of my party on this or any other occasion. While Downey was in custody for the alleged offence, I wrote to the Burrangong Miner, acknowledging that I was the man and that he was perfectly innocent.
Again, Mr Horsington and his party assert that the robbery took place on the 10th of March, while it really did not take place until some five or six weeks afterwards so that if I had been inclined to stand my trial, I might have been enabled to prove an alibi, this, as your Honour will see, is not written with a view to escape punishment, for, on the contrary, it incriminates myself, but as there are only two left of the party-myself and another man, who is at present undergoing a sentence of fifteen years (John Davis)-I feel that in writing this I am in injuring no one except myself, and my only desire has been to point out the inconsistency of the evidence on the part of the various witnesses, so that, had I not pleaded guilty to this charge, I might probably have escaped; so contradictory is their evidence, that a verdict in my favour might have been the result.
If I may be permitted in praying for a merciful consideration of my case, I beg to say that it is not alone on the above grounds that I do so, for during the last two years I have seen the errors of my way, and have endeavoured, with God's assistance, to lead an honest and upright life, for I have even during this time had temptations, and those great ones, for I was on one occasion entrusted for some time with the first Escort of gold that arrived from the Peak Downs, consisting of 700 ounces, again, Mr Manton, whom I beg to refer to, a gentleman connected with the copper mills, entrusted to my care 264 ounces of gold, and, lastly, Mr Veal did the same with 200 ounces;- yet the honest resolutions I had formed were sufficiently strong to prevent me doing a dishonest action on either of these opportunities. And I do trust your Honour will do me the justice to believe that these were not isolated cases, or that I would have ever again have fallen into those practices which I have felt for a long time past in my breast to be a stain against God and man.
And now, your Honour, as we must sit on the last and great day of judgement throw ourselves upon the mercy of the great Judge of all our actions, so do I now throw myself upon your mercy as my earthly judge and pray for a lenient and merciful consideration of my case.
I am, your Honour, your humble servant,
|Courtroom scene depicting|
Gardiner's 1864 trial.
Part of Frank Gardiner's
defence team, 1864.
The noose of the rope, instead of passing rightly round the neck, slipped completely away, the knot coming round in front of the face, while the whole weight of the criminal's body was sustained by the thick muscles of the poll. The rope, in short, went round the middle of the head, and the work of the hangman proved a most terrible bungle.
The sufferings and struggles of the wretched being were heartrending to behold. His body swayed about, and writhed, evidently in the most intense agony.
The arms repeatedly rose and fell, and finally, with one of his hands the unfortunate man gripped the rope as if to tear the pressure from his head —a loud guttural noise the meanwhile proceeding from his throat and lungs, while blood gushed from his nostrils, and stained the cap -with which his face was covered. This awful scene lasted for more than ten minutes when stillness ensued, and it was hoped the death had terminated the culprit's sufferings.
Shocking to relate, however, the vital spark was not yet extinguished, and to the horror of all present, the convulsive writhing's were renewed the tenacity to life being remarkable, and a repetition of the sickening scene was only at last terminated at the instance of Dr West, by the aid of four confines, who were made to hold the dying malefactor up in their arms while the executioner re-adjusted the rope, when the body was let fall with a jerk, and another minute sufficed to end the agonies of death."
However, outrage swept through Sydney as newspaper correspondents assessed the failure of the twelve strong and true jurors in finding him 'Not Guilty' at the first trial as with all of Gardiner's villainy he had escaped the gallows; 'South Australian Register' Tuesday 7th June 1864- "a Jury of twelve 'honest men,' sworn to do justice, have, in the face of the clearest evidence of the notorious bushranger’s guilt, bravely acquitted him. Gardiner is a lucky fellow. He succeeded for many months in evading the most active efforts of the New South Wales police to apprehend him. He has shown himself to be the most impudent and desperate of all the heroes of the Claude Duval style which have yet appeared in these colonies; and yet, though his exploits were chronicled in the newspapers week by week, he set at complete defiance all attempts to take him. Sometimes he was hard enough run, and for his safety had occasionally to fire upon his would-be captors, but he always managed to escape somehow, until at last he was run to earth and cleverly captured. Even when he was secured, the police were obliged to hurry him away to Sydney, so strongly was the tide of public opinion and feeling setting in his favour.
|Sir Hercules Robinson|
Following Frank's 1864 sentencing, Catherine devastated by the incarceration and length of her Frank's punishment. Nevertheless, Catherine held on to the belief that they would be re-joined somehow and reunited if she had her way. Therefore, she set about plans for their reunification in late 1864. Unfortunately, the power of greed is a wonderful thing, and as such, Catherine was able to corrupt a prison warden to help expedite their escape plans.
However, the ability to keep those plans confidential was an uphill battle where Frank Gardiner was concerned. Before long, rumours circulated of an attempt to escape. The authorities observed Frank. Nevertheless, Frank had resorted to his old habits of feigning illness that required hospitalisation. Once more, his old friend, a reported heart condition, enabled him to be admitted. Unfortunately, it was thwarted by a fellow inmate who had got wind of the attempt involving a corrupt warder's help. The canary sang and named the guard. A Quid Pro Quo; 'The Newcastle Chronicle and Hunter River District News', Saturday, 7th January 1865; Gardiner, the Bushranger. — It was recently stated that a discovery had been made of Gardiner's intended to escape from Darlinghurst Gaol, by bribing a warder to help him. The Sydney correspondent of the Goulburn Herald thus narrates the affair:—"Mr. Francis Gardiner, ex-bushranger-general, is neither dead nor dying. Since his conviction, many persons have said he would never die in prison if he could make his escape, but the clever scoundrel's apparent good conduct in Darlinghurst gaol appeared to be a complete refutation of all such insinuations. Had he not made important revelations to the Government respecting bushranging and bushrangers? Was he not suffering from a deep-seated disease of the heart? Even the gaol surgeon was so completely deceived and sympathisingly sent Gardiner to the hospital, ordering him to be supplied with the usual medical comforts. During the recent disturbances, Gardiner's conduct showed so marked a contrast to that of the mutinous scoundrels who kept the unfortunate warders constantly on the qui vive, that he humbugged the gaol officials as successfully as an English ticket-of-leave-man I read of some time ago, who, when giving advice to a notorious housebreaker as to the easiest means of getting a ticket-of-leave, said, “be sure to have the chaplain visit you as often as possible; on every occasion turn up the white of your eyes.” Gardiner adopted tactics something similar. A few days ago, when a fellow-prisoner informed the gaoler that Frank Gardiner was about to escape, the story found little credence; but the informer backed up his story by naming a warder with whom Gardiner was said to have made arrangements for escaping. The warder was watched, and on his attempting to leave the prison he was arrested and searched when fortunately for the public, but unfortunately for Gardiner and his friends, documents were discovered, one of which showed that the next night the former expected to be without the prison walls, and wished his friends to meet him at ten p.m., naming the rendezvous; and the other was a promissory note or order for £300 for serves rendered by the bearer. It is needless to say that the Warder's future services have been dispensed with and that Gardiner's future security will be more closely attended to. Meantime he has been initiated into the art and mystery of mat-making."
by Frank Gardiner
to Catherine, 1865.
|Ben Hall left - John Vane right.|
In 1868 Catherine took her own life. The death of Catherine and how Frank took the news is not known. However, while at Darlinghurst Gaol, Frank added two tattoos to his arms: a Cupid on the upper right arm and a Heart with a wreath of roses on the upper left arm. These were undoubtedly inked in memory of his love Catherine Brown possibly the only indication of his heartache at her loss. There was as well stories that he appeared to age soon after. However, the years passed, and his sister's endeavours for release were always at the forefront. Vane stated; "although he didn’t say much about it, I know that he was always looking forward to a shortening of his sentence, as he had influential friends at work for him outside."
|Francis Christie alias Frank Gardiner|
Darlinghurst Gaol entry record.
Note: Born in Colony is incorrect.
|Darlinghurst Gaol from Burton Street 1870.|
|Sir Henry Parkes.|
Speaker of the House.
However, in an attempt to deflect Gardiner's release, the Government released another 23 violent prisoners. Two of them were John Bow and Alexander Fordyce, both having been lead to Gaol by Gardiner through their participation in the Eugowra gold robbery 1862. For Speaker Arnold, who cast the deciding vote on Gardiner's freedom. He tragically drowned in floodwaters of the Paterson River, Woodville, near Orange, in late 1875.
|View from Brown St, Newcastle|
of Newcastle Harbour.
Courtesy Newcastle University.
The ship to remove the 'Darkie' from Australian shores was the 'Charlotte Andrews', a coal barque trading between China and Newcastle. A letter from a passenger on the vessel 'Lady Young' then owned by William Hill to convey Gardiner to Newcastle to join the 'Charlotte Andrews' witnessed Gardiner's embarkation at Sydney. Wrote of the occasion as the 'Lady Young' an Iron Paddle steamer lay at anchor off Pinchcut Island (Fort Denison); William Andrews, an alderman of the city, and a flourishing ship-owner in after life. He was the owner of the vessel Charlotte Andrews, which under contract with the Government, conveyed the notorious bushranger Frank Gardiner into exile. Freedom would be given on-condition that Gardiner lived outside the British dominions. The difficulty was how to obtain a ship, the master of which would take the responsibility of taking Gardiner from his native land. Mr. Andrews had the Charlotte Andrews at Newcastle loading coal for Shanghai, and he expressed his willingness and the willingness of the master to give the ex-bushranger a passage.
On July 20, 1874, I was a passenger to Newcastle by the steamer Lady Young, of which my old friend Royal was then chief officer. Off Pinchcut the steamer lay to, and Mr. Royal informed me that, they were waiting for a distinguished passenger, no less a personage than Frank Gardiner, alias Christie, the notorious bushranger and escort robber. He came on board at 11.30, accompanied by Detective Elliott. They immediately disappeared in the fore cabin and were seen no more that night. Gardiner remained in the Newcastle lockup for two or three days, until the Charlotte Andrews was ready for sea. He loudly protested against being kept in custody, as he considered himself free once beyond the walls of Darlinghurst. Crowds waited outside the lockup to catch a sight of the noted prisoner, and when, the hour for his departure arrived, the crowd, in Hunter-street opposite the lockup was so great that it was found impossible, to remove the exile. A ruse had to be employed.- A man the size of Gardiner, and similarly dressed, was taken between two police men, carefully handcuffed, down Bolton-street to the wharf, the immense crowd excitedly following. When the street was clear Inspector Thorpe, and Detective Elliott with Gardiner between them and a couple of water policemen bringing up the rear emerged from the lockup and went in the direction of Nobbys, near which a boat was awaiting to take Gardiner, onboard the ship which was ready to sail. ⁵⁷ Inspector Thorpe retired in 1886 on a pension of £325 per annum. Detective Elliott left the force in 1885 with a gratuity of £100.
A short time later, it was reported that; "The illustrious exile Frank Gardiner has quitted his native shores. A telegram to the 'S. M. Herald ' states that on Monday he was put on board the Charlotte Andrews, Capt. Place, for Hong Kong, by sub-inspector Thorpe. Directly after he went on board the barque was towed to sea. It does not, however, seem certain that the ex-bushranger will complete his voyage to the above place. The 'Empire' states that a gentleman who professes to be in the secret declares that the reformed bushranger will not go further from us than New Caledonia, where he is to take charge of an extensive sugar-mat and basket factory for a firm whose principal place of business is in Sydney."⁵⁸
|Vessels damaged at|
Yau Ma Tei opposite
Photo Lai Fong (1874)
Evening News Monday 15th February 1875; Frank Gardiner in California- We have been informed by an old Sydney resident, who was a passenger from San Francisco per SS Mikado, that the notorious bushranger, Frank Gardiner, or Christie, is keeping a public-house in that city. It appears that he arrived in San Francisco from Hongkong by the steamship Great Republic. On his arrival, it is reported that a number of persons called 'a ring' fitted up in first-class style, a public-house for him. Since the opening, the house has proved a great "draw," and it is filled nightly by a certain class. Gardiner is known as the New South Wales bushranger.
|Dramatised Illustration of|
Catherine, on hearing
of no visits to her Frank.
Never before published.
Two or three days after this decision had been given, I was informed at my office that a Mrs. Hyam wished to see me, and I told the messenger to show her in. Mrs. Hyam, who said she was Gardiner's sister, had a very respectable appearance, and so had her companion, a young woman whom accompanied her. Mrs. Hyam's said she had come to make a request to me that Mrs. Brown, who, she said, was a resident in her house, and had been living in her house since Gardiner's conviction, might be permitted to see that prisoner. As this person had all the appearance of being a respectable woman, and so I felt that commiseration for her which anyone, must feel who has a relative in the positions of Gardiner. I spoke calmly to her, and represented the impossibility of the Governor granting the petition. She at last appealed strongly that the person should be allowed to see Gardiner at least once. I came to no decision, and these persons, one of whom was said to be Mrs. Brown, but to whom I never spoke, my conversation being entirely with Gardiner's sister, went away.
I consulted with another member of the Government, made inquiries of the police as to the character of Mrs. Hyam, and was assured by Captain M'Lerie, the Inspector-General, that she was a respectable married woman. I made further inquiries, which satisfied me that this person, Mrs. Brown, appeared to be permanently separated from her husbands, and that she had lived since the conviction of Gardiner, in the house of this person who was represented to me as a respectable married woman. After making these queries, I gave this special order to the principal gaoler at Darlinghurst: --"You will allow the bearer, Catherine Brown, to see Francis Gardiner, alias Clarke, now under sentence in Darlinghurst prison. This order, however, is available for this day only, and must not be allowed to alter or modify, in any respect further the instructions from this office on the 2nd instant. (Signed) H. Parkes."⁶⁰ (Charlotte's surname Hyam is mistaken and should read Ion? Charlotte married William Ion in 1854. In 1870 Charlotte remarried one, Joseph Cale.)
|Letter sent from|
Sheriffs Office 1864 to
Col Sec on prohibiting
New South Wales,
In company with Taylor, Catherine departed the Lachlan for New Zealand, arriving at the Tappue Gold Diggings near Auckland on the Thames River. After some months of listless living and difficulties with Taylor. On the 14th January 1868, Catherine shot herself in the head in a frenzy of mental anguish.
Whereby, after lingering for a short period in extreme agony, she died. The death of Catherine and its effect on Frank is not known to date. However, as alluded to earlier, Kitty's death was undoubtedly the catalyst for Gardiner's new tattoos as per his release papers.
A prolonged death, a witness to the dreadful scene at Tappue was a miner and his brother named Turner who in 1902 gave his own first-hand account of the circumstances surrounding Kitty's tragic death; 'Sydney Sportsman' Wednesday 9th April 1902; "Mr. Turner describes Mrs. Brown as being a dainty, natty little thing, tidy in her dress, and very nice looking. She was the Mrs Brown who attached herself to Gardiner's fortunes and romantically followed him through good and evil repute.
Brown of Wheogo—lived in a square tent, about 14ft by 12ft, very nicely arranged, and differing much from the ordinary run of tents to be found on a goldfield. The pair did not agree well, Taylor apparently always quarrelling with his wife; About 5 o'clock one morning the little camp on Tapu Creek was startled from its sweet repose by the report of a pistol shot from Brown's tent. Mr Turner and his brother rushed to see the cause.
Outside the little reed fence surrounding the tent-Taylor was grovelling on the ground, tearing up the grass with his hands, at the same time crying out, "I have shot my wife! I've murdered her! hang me; lynch me!" and many other such expressions. In the door of the tent Mrs Brown was lying (on the ground) face downwards, apparently dead, a large quantity of blood was running from her mouth, and a small revolver was on the ground alongside of her.
New Zealand Herald
1st February 1868.
On that particular morning, Taylor had been more than usually brutal, so she got hold of the revolver—a gift from Frank Gardiner—and fired it into her mouth. All the time the wretched woman was explaining the circumstances Taylor was outside, raving and behaving like a maniac, and as soon as Mrs Brown's confession was made known, Taylor received a gentle hint to clear out, and he lost no time in doing so. What became of him Mr Turner knows not, as he never saw him afterwards. Mrs Brown was taken to the Coromandel Hospital, where she lingered 16 days, mortification having set in. At the inquest the verdict was suicide, but many believed that Taylor had fired the shot and that she made the statement to save him from the gallows. The bullet had cut through the tongue and lodged in one of the bones of the neck. The revolver was a very small one, silver-mounted, and had the name 'Frank Gardiner' scratched on the stock. Mr Turner afterwards saw the weapon with Mr Bailey, in Fiji. It seems strange that Gardiner should have started business at Apis Creek in his real name (Francis Christie) as he did, and that he should keep about his house a revolver with his 'bush-cognomen,' Frank Gardiner, on it. (See note below of her exonerating Richard Taylor in her suicide attempt and ultimate death. Turner mistakenly referred to Taylor as Brown. However, his account is quite useful for detail. Catherine is also noted as spelling her name with a K.)
27th January 1868.
Courtesy Papers Past,
Open a New Tab
Perhaps of all bushrangers, Gardiner was the most successful and the most popular. A magnificent horseman, a brave man, it seems wonderful how he could have selected such a mode of existence, and voluntarily relinquished it when his chances were the best. No crime of murder could be imputed to him, and it was proved at his trial that his personal influence over his associates-prevented bloodshed. Very influential men, who were witnesses to his exemplary conduct during his long ten years' confinement in Darlinghurst Gaol, Sydney, used their influence to effect his release, which was accomplished by the intervention of the Governor, Sir H. Robinson. The latter has been severely censured for his clemency by the Legislature, and, according to the news by last mail, the discussion still rages. The Chronicle reporter put a few questions to Gardiner in reference to HIS FUTURE INTENTIONS.
He said, "I mean to do all I can toward earning an honest livelihood. Although I am debarred from returning to Australia, I had the good wishes of three-fourths of the people there."
Reporter: Why was that?
Gardiner: Because I never committed any murder: because I have given away more than half my day's earnings on the road to poor travellers, and because I never robbed a poor man in my life.
Reporter: Why did you commence such career?
Gardiner: From want of suitable, employment. Young men can find no employment in the country districts except herding sheep or stock-riding. The latter occupation leads to horse-stealing simply because you become wholly engrossed in horseflesh, and the crime is so easily committed that you do not think of the consequences. Horse-stealing and horse "sojering" are of everyday occurrence in certain parts of the country.
Rep.: But what made you rob the mails?
Gardiner: I do not know; I was young at the time and spent my money as quickly as I got it. I thought it an easy life for a while, but I afterwards changed my mind and resolved at all hazards to lead a good life, and when I relinquished bushranging and went to Apis Creek, where I was apprehended, I never dreamt but what I might die there of a good, honourable old age. I was known there as Frank Christie, and many thousands of pounds have been entrusted to my custody. I had a good reputation far and wide, and no one knew I was the celebrated Gardiner until my apprehension.
Rep.: Have you a cheerful prospect before you?
Gardiner: Yes; after ten years' confinement I am glad to be free again. I think my Australian reputation was so good; in spite of my crimes, that my record may have reached this country. I am determined to lead an honest life, and I am quite able to fill my part in it creditably. Our reporter wished Mr Gardiner good night and trusted that he would adhere to his good resolution.
|San Francisco wharves of |
the Barbary Coast,
a short distance
from Kearny St where
Gardiner would saunter
down to await the latest
news from Australia.
Of course, the self-assessment by the Darkie in his newspaper interview needs to be put into context when one considers that; "The boast that he is said to have made—that he had not taken life or robbed or insulted a woman —amounts to very little, in view of the fact that he did his utmost to take life on at least two occasions—once when resisting arrest at Fogg's house by Middleton and Hosie, and again when leading the attack upon the gold escort at Eugowra. Nothing at all need be said concerning his chivalry, the sublimity of which was displayed where he stole Mrs Brown from her husband and ran away with her to Queensland."⁶¹
Settling into life at San Francisco, Gardiner gravitated to work he knew best, that being, entwining himself with the crud and shysters of the San Francisco docks and disreputable saloons of the famed Barbary Coast. With suspect cash flow and a dimming reputation as the 'King of the Highwaymen', the 'Darkie' struggle during his early days while finding his feet and place on the wild Barbary Coast of San Francisco. But, as his earlier sentence at Cockatoo Island demonstrated, Gardiner was still just another mug in a world of other mugs.
Dribs and drabs of news filtered into Australia regarding Gardiner's circumstances as mail steamers plyed their way from the west coast of America to Port Jackson's shores carrying the latest communications, speculations and innuendo. Australian passengers visiting San Francisco went about walking the streets seeking out the once-famous Australian celebrity. Those visitors called on local police to point them in the right direction and at times are even escorted to his reputed seedy hotel. One Australian visitor commented to a journalist friend on return after meeting the 'Darkie' escorted by a policeman, 'The Western Independent' 18th August 1877; "When in San Francisco I asked about Gardiner. Accompanied by a policeman, I went one day, about eleven o'clock, to his whisky mill in Kearney Street. It was a low vile street in the worst part, of 'Frisco, called 'The Barbary Coast.'"
Communications continued to surface on various subjects regarding Gardiner. One visitor stated that the former bushranger sent letters of appreciation to both Sir Henry Parkes and Governor Sir Hercules Robinson for his freedom; What Gardiner has Promised Parkes.—'Glen Innes Examiner and General Advertiser' Wednesday 5th May 1875 "If the Sydney correspondent of the Forbes Times is to be credited, Frank Gardiner, the expatriated Bushranger, is not unmindful of his former friend and benefactor, as the following extract demonstrates:—A gentleman, just arrived in Sydney from San Francisco informs us that the slayer of Governments and robber of escorts, Frank Gardiner, is safely and comfortably established in that city in a flourishing bar or restaurant, having been started in that line of business by a friendly circle of beings entitled a " ring," whatever that may be. Frank, it is said, sent a number of grateful messages to the late Premier and to Sir Hercules Robinson, and expressed much regret at having brought so much sorrow and trouble upon their heads. He especially condoles with Mr. Parkes, and declares that if that gentleman will only cut this ungrateful colony and start to 'Frisco, that he will run him for the Presidency of the States and carry him in at the tip-top of the poll."
Another piece of Gardiner news came to light through a letter from a former resident of the Lachlan now living in Sacramento California; 'Burrangong Argus' of 30th June 1875; "that the released bushranger Frank Gardiner is at present getting an honest livelihood, and does not appear to contemplate visiting the scene of his former exploits. A gentleman, Mr. R. Jewell, known to many of our readers as a sometime resident in Young, but now domiciled in Sacramento, California, writes to a friend here to say that he lately paid a visit and had a glass of beer at the saloon in San Francisco kept by Gardiner. The quondam bushranger is described as "doing well, and keeping on the square," and is said to have inquired after the welfare of several persons in this district, amongst them one who was a fellow-confinee of his in Darlinghurst gaol. He is also said to have stated that a young man named Paine, at one time residing at Forbes, and who many years since was convicted and sentenced for being in possession of some stolen notes, was an innocent sufferer, as he did not know that the notes were stolen."
In turn, many yarns of engagement with Gardiner were recounted by passengers on return to Australian shores, more notably for the individual's notoriety than fact. Creating an air of mystery and gossip often unverified or far from credible. Gardiner was still news and never far away from a newspaper article in his longed-for home country regarding his situation or lifestyle. However, all these tales maintained a line that Frank was persevering. Gardiner had captivated NSW and Australia's as a whole by a reputation built around the two years of holding the country to ransom (1860-1862), including international interest highlighted by his command of the great Gold Heist at Eugowra June 1862. His eventual release and deportation in 1874. After all the 'Darkie' had held and befallen governments, seen parliamentary ministers dismissed, police officers humiliated and often became idolised by children playing bushrangers.
|Kearney St looking North|
near Broadway St.
Gardiner's saloon was
in this vicinity.
Libaries Digital Collection
Another contrary review stated this about the 'Twilight' saloon; "In company with a friend, a brother scribbler, I had the honor to inspect Mr. Frank's place of business. It is what is termed, in Californian parlance, a "saloon;" that is, a bar room, only stripped of every other appendage that goes to make up an hotel. Gardiner's saloon is located in Kerney-street, near Broadway, and is named the "Twilight," a name suggestive enough." Contradictions of Gardiner's existence were always close to the surface concerning his life at Kearney Street.
Regardless Frank was making fair trade; "Frank Gardiner, the notorious [sic] New South Wales bushranger, is keeping the Twilight Hotel, San Francisco, and doing a roaring trade. He has grown stout." And had the luxury of employing staff; "On entering, we [sic] were waited upon by an athletic son of Adam with brickish coloured hair. We asked if he was the celebrated individual that Harry Parkes had fought and fallen in defence of. He asked- "Who the hell was Harry Parkes? He never recollected him round these diggings." "Well," we said, "we wanted to see Frank Gardiner." "Oh," he said, "he is inside there," pointing to a small room off the bar. "He is very unwell He has not been up-to-day. If you call to-morrow perhaps you-may see him. He is really too ill at present to be disturbed, but if you leave your names, I will tell him you called."
Gardiner was forty-six when he had stepped ashore from the steamer 'Great Republic' in December 1874. However, he was still a young man were once again his old friends from Cockatoo, aches and pains, found their way into the forefront of his conversation. Gardiner was enlightening those around him by concocting some ailment or misery that had befallen him. The new pitch on his health was that he was crippled with rheumatism and that heavy drinking had also percolated into his life. However, there is no evidence that Frank was a heavy drinker even when at Apis Creek or riding the Lachlan Ranges. No doubt contrived assumptions. Gardiner was shrewd and educated, therefore, through his great penchant for deception no doubt set about planting false narratives on his wayward life in America, which may well have been part of a grander plan as once commented on by Gardiner himself; 'The Western Independent' 18th August 1877; "he said to my friend that he thought of sending a petition to the Government of New South Wales to be allowed to return if it was only to serve out his time..."
Meanwhile, as the 'Darkie' was settling into his long 32yr sentence at Darlinghurst in 1864, on the far side of the world in Ireland in March 1867, another Irish uprising occurred against British Rule. One more of the many failed attempts to dislodge the English from Dublin. The insurrectionists were known as Fenian's a forerunner to the IRA. In that month, many thousands armed in various ways marched on different towns, including Tallagat, Dundrum, Stepaside and Glencullen and south at Cork, where 4000 gathered at Fair Hill. There commencing a rampage of destruction. The constabulary, having been appraised of the armed bodies taking the many roads, rushed to intercept. However, the following day, the rebellion was quashed, and the instigators hunted down by both the Irish Police and British Army. One of those men hunted was Thomas Baines, a native of County Mayo, Ireland. Baines was a hardcore Irish patriot, noted as capable of the most daring, difficult and dangerous tasks by the revolt leaders. Captured, faced court and was found guilty of treason Baines plus his conspirators were sentenced. The judge stating; "You, John Devoy, were appointed center for the military and were engaged in the seduction of soldiers from their allegiance, You, Sinclair, and you, Baines, appear to have been active to an extraordinary extent. The sentence of the court is that you Sinclair, Baines, Slack, Stanley, and Brown be kept in penal servitude for 10 years; The prisoners exhibited great surprise and emotion on hearing their sentences. Baines burst into tears, and Power appeared to be almost paralysed."
|Western Australia, Convict|
for Thomas Baines.
|San Francisco Call,|
12th April 1899.
On the 20th July 1875, Baines was the proprietor of the Celtic Club Saloon on the corner of McAllister, Jones and Market streets San Francisco, a stone's throw from Kearney St Brannan St future saloons of Frank Gardiner. At the Celtic Saloon, Baines was shot in the back under uncertain circumstances by an employee. In due course, he recovered. Captain Thomas Baines and Frank Gardiner, apart from being saloon keepers, were friends. Good friends. "The only [sic] person who befriended him was the Fenian." A friendship that gave rise to a return to Australia.
|Los Angeles Daily Herald|
21st July 1875.
A well-known example was Frank Gardiner's nemesis Sir Frederick Pottinger who had fled England and debt collectors taking passage to Victoria under the assumed name of F. W. Parker.
Following five years in San Francisco, Frank Gardiner, according to many differing accounts, had had enough. Frank longed for the country of his youth. The former bushranger was regularly seen at the Barbary Coast wharves whenever a packet steamer from Australia secured alongside. Frank would canvass passengers for newspapers of the time, and no doubt sought mail from his sisters. Devouring the latest happenings on the old home front. Gardiner spent hours examining the news on the political state of affairs and skimming the pages of the many changed social attitudes and country district transformations. Inquiring regularly from passengers for the latest doings in his old haunts.[sic] "Frank casts longing eyes to the westward, and invariably comes down to the wharf whenever an Australian mailboat arrives, and anxiously inquiries for New South Wales newspapers."
|The Pioche Weekly|
In 1910 Frank Gardiner was remembered in the 'San Francisco Call' newspaper as; "Frank Gardiner, a famous Australian bushranger, who served several years in gaol and who, having been pardoned, came to San Francisco and conducted a thriving liquor business..."
|Frank Gardiner was 45 years old at the time of his release in 1874. This photo above is a prison portrait and was coloured by me through Photoshop.|
|New South Wales, Australia, Criminal Court Records, 1830-1945 for Francis Clarke, Supreme Court Registers of Criminal Indictments, 1863-1898|
|At Darlinghurst Gaol 1866.|
|Francis Christie alias Gardiner recorded here with Patsy Daley|
1867 at Darlinghurst Gaol.
|Letter by Frank Gardiner's father Charles referring to the operation of a Sly-Grog shop.|
'Port Phillip Gazette' 25th April 1840.
|Francis Christie alias Clarke at Darlinghurst Gaol|
awaiting trial 1854
|Edward Prior and Francis Clarke at|
Goulburn Gaol and sentenced 1854.
N.S.W. Police Gazette report (above) on Francis Christie about the time he operated the butcher's shop with William Fogg at the Burrangong Goldfield.
|This appeared in the newspaper in October 1862, the Wheeo area|
is near today's Canberra.
|Gardiner's new home Darlinghurst Gaol. A sketch from the Illustrated Sydney News Friday 16th November 1866. 1.-The entrance. 2.-The muster on arrival. 3.- The inquiry office. 4:-Selecting boots 5.-The bookbinding shop. 6.-Interior of a cell. 7. - in church 8.-On night watch-"All's well!" 9.-Prisoners' yard. The bookbinding Shop was where Gardiner lovingly produced the small bible for Catherine as seen below.|
|1864 NSW Police Gazette's reference to Gardiner|
and his escape from Pentridge 1851.
The Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser
Thursday 8th March 1866
|Mrs Brown's request through Gardiner's sister|
Charlotte Hyam's or Ion's to visit him at Darlinghurst.
|The above comment is from the satirical publication 'Melbourne Punch', Thursday 11th June 1874. The question is, why was he not returned to Melbourne?|
Saturday 18th August 1877
|There is some merit in the last lines as to Frank's return to Australia. He was a master of anonymity when required.|
|Reputed Business card.|
The Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners Advocate
Tuesday, 6th August 1878.
|Report of Gardiner marrying from|
the Evening News, Monday 1st December 1879.
|Sunday Times Sun 15 Jan 1905.|
This is the marriage that many have believed to be linked to the 'Darkie'. This has been misused in almost every publication to date.
|1911 film on Gardiner. Frank Gardiner Outlaw.|
The McIvor Times and Rodney Advertiser Thursday 14th August 1879 Page 3.
FRANK GARDINER IN AMERICA. This article refers to Frank robbing some
Mormons where one of the Elders and leader positively identifies Gardiner
as the head of the gang. Of course, it is complete fiction.
Saturday 17th November 1888
|I have always believed that Gardiner returned to Australia protected by his devoted sisters, and never died in the USA.|
|The statement above is made by Catherine Brown in New Zealand soon after shooting herself by her own hand in 1868, thus exonerating who the papers referred to as Charles Taylor but should have read Richard of any blame. New research on Catherine has|
discovered that she was described as an attractive woman, small and petite in
stature 5 ft 3 in tall with sandy blonde hair.
(For better view open letter in new tab to enlarge.)
Friday, 22nd April 1870
The report above was the first speculation as to the death of Mrs Brown in
The Sydney Morning Herald
Monday, 8th June 1874
|Report of Frank's death in the Evening News 28th August Sydney 1882.|
However, this appears to be incorrect and subterfuge for Frank's return to Australia with an American Mr Baines.
|Letter preventing Catherine from visiting Frank Gardiner at Darlinghurst Gaol.|
|Letter pertaining to whereabouts of Gardiner's original Ticket of Leave under Clarke.|
Police Convict Branch: Letters to Officials, 1862-1892
The above link is a 1906 hand-coloured film of Market street San Francisco travelling east on a cable car. Although filmed years after Frank Gardiner left Frisco for Australia, this film is taken in the Barbary Coast heart. Gardiner's saloons were in this vicinity and Kearney St to the left of the screen at about 3.08 sec. The finish is where Gardiner would have ventured to meet the mail packets from Australia.
#-Reference notes and source material can be accessed on the EndNote page except where book, author or newspaper title are named. Publications referred to can be found on the Links Page. For any research assistance no charge, contact is on the Home Page under Contact details or Email to email@example.com. For an enhanced view of photographs, click right mouse button and select 'open in new tab'.