Traps

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

The website "Ben Hall: Traps" provides a detailed account of the New South Wales (NSW) police force's struggle against the bushranger epidemic and criminal activities in the gold fields of NSW and beyond during the 1860s. The police force, often referred to as 'Traps', faced numerous challenges, including inferior equipment, harsh elements, substandard horses, and a lack of public support. Despite these obstacles, they persevered in their mission to maintain law and order.

Key figures in this struggle included Sir Frederick William Pottinger, a baronet who served as an Inspector of Police in the Lachlan District, and officers like Sanderson and Lyons. Pottinger, born in India and educated at Eton, had a tumultuous journey from a life of privilege in England to becoming a dedicated law enforcement officer in Australia. Despite facing public controversies and personal setbacks, Pottinger's commitment to his duty was unwavering.

The website also highlights the crucial role of Aboriginal trackers like Billy Dargin in the police force. These trackers used their intimate knowledge of the land and exceptional tracking skills to assist the police in their pursuit of bushrangers and criminals.

The site provides a comprehensive overview of the challenges faced by the NSW police during this period, the strategies they employed, and the individuals who played significant roles in this historical context. It offers a unique perspective on the law enforcement efforts during the bushranger era and the gold rush in Australia. Yet, despite the many obstacles, including the cone of silence from the bushrangers sympathisers, these police troopers undertook the exhausting and dangerous task of pursuing those outlaws who thought nothing of putting a bullet between their eyes.


'Traps,' The term used for Colonial Australian Police, most probably has its origins from the early period of the Colony of NSW when drinking in a public house on the sabbath was deemed sinning. Whereby, to catch publicans who flouted the sabbath, the Police would send in persons or Police in disguise to "Trap" a publican into or was known to be trading on Sunday by selling the plant grog. In due course, the term became synonymous to all Police in executing their duty, employing deceitful means to make arrests, i.e. "To Trap them." In the goldfields of Victoria and NSW, the term 'Trap' became famous as the more impoverished miners avoided purchasing Gold licences and were often snared by the Police, similarly dressed as the miners who were often nabbed in the dead of night. Those measures of trapping were a part of the catalyst leading up to the Victorian Eureka Stockade debacle.

(If any reader should like a free PDF copy of 'a splendid type of the genuine English gentleman:' Sir Frederick William Pottinger, Bart., 1831-1865, please email me through the contact details on the home page.)

Sir Frederick William Pottinger (1831-1865)

Sir Frederick Pottinger born on April 27th, 1831, in India, was the second son of Sir Henry Pottinger and Susanna Maria Cooke.

His father, Sir Henry Pottinger, arrived in India in 1804 as a cadet officer of the East India Company. Climbing the ranks, he eventually reached the position of brevet rank Major-General and proved instrumental in ending the First Opium War in China with the Treaty of Nanking in 1842. Sir Henry's significant contributions led to his appointment as the first Governor of Hong Kong, serving from 1843 to 1844. Upon returning to England in 1844, he was appointed to Queen Victoria's Privy Council and, in 1847, returned to the diplomatic corps as Governor of Cape Colony in South Africa and later Governor of Madras, India, in 1851.

Following his father's footsteps, Sir Frederick Pottinger pursued a private education at Eton before joining the army. In 1850, he purchased a commission in the Grenadier Guards, rising to the rank of Lieutenant. However, maintaining a position in the Guards proved financially burdensome, and the accumulated debt forced Sir Frederick to sell his commission in 1854
:


Sir Frederick's
attire as a
Guards Officer
.
Frederick William Pottinger, at one time held a commission in the Grenadier Guards (in 1850 he was appointed), one of the most expensive regiments amongst the Household Troops, and one in which a poor man like the eldest son of Sir Henry Pottinger must, in time, go to the wall. In his time in the army, a commission had a high monetary value. The Army Agent, so-called, was the banker of the regiment, and not infrequently held the officer's commission as security for overdrafts. The regimental pay would not keep some officers in cigars and gloves. When the overdraft reached the value of the commission, the officer went under. Few regiments in the Army of sixty years ago, could tolerate an officer who was "mean." No matter what his means, he was expected to keep decently in line with, those who had plenty of cash and allowances. Fred Pottinger appears to have been somewhat wild, and to have got out of the army before his father's death.¹

Following his father's death in Valletta, Malta, in March 1855, aged 67 and the unfortunate death of his elder brother, Eldred, who passed away as an infant in Bombay in 1824. Frederick the second son succeeded his father as the 2nd Baronet at age 25, inheriting his father's title and the family's fortune as a benefactor of Primogeniture. The rules of Primogeniture had existed since 1066, which dictates the common law right for the first-born son or surviving son in a family to receive the entire estate. Therefore, Sir Frederick Pottinger inherited the family's estate. The inheritance is estimated at £70,000. (5.9 million dollars at today's value.)

Following his departure from the army, Sir Frederick Pottinger dove headfirst into the extravagant lifestyle of a wealthy 19th-century English gentleman. With the vibrant allure of London in the late 1850s, Pottinger relished in the leisure and affluence typical of England's idle rich. However, only a year after his father's death, Sir Frederick's high-speed life started to veer off track, drawing public scrutiny.

A lawsuit emerged as Pottinger was accused of neglecting to pay an outstanding bill of £84. 13s for services provided by a house agent and furniture dealer named Mr F. Clerk. This debt had accumulated through the procurement of goods for a residence leased by Pottinger, ostensibly for his mistress, Miss Kate Perry.

The house at 165 Cambridge St,
Pimlico, London,
rented by Sir Frederick
 as John Perry & Miss Perry,
as it appears today.
Despite the mounting evidence, Sir Frederick staunchly denied any financial responsibility. His denial, however, could not prevent the imminent scandal. As the court proceedings unfolded, the intimate details of his private life were thrust into the public eye. It was revealed that the disputed items had been procured to outfit a residence in Pimlico, London, a veritable love nest for Sir Frederick and his mistress, Miss Kate Perry. Moreover, it was brought to light that Miss Perry occasionally styled herself as 'Lady Pottinger', adding fuel to the public scandal.
 
As a result, the sensational court proceedings made headlines in several newspapers. It was apparent that Sir Frederick, concerned with maintaining decorum and preserving his family's reputation, had cunningly leased the property in another's name, specifically Perry, through an intermediary. This ruse, however, was unveiled during the court proceedings, which were meticulously documented in 'The Morning Chronicle' on August 11, 1857. The case, playfully titled 'The Knight and his Lady', took place before Lord Baron and a Special Jury. The legal battle of Clerk V. Pottinger unfolded, stirring a whirlwind of public fascination and controversy:

In the commencement of the present year a person named Russell, who, he was instructed, he should be able to prove acted as agent for the defendant, applied to him to have a house in Cambridge Street for the use of the defendant and a lady, but he, at the same time, stated that Sir Frederick did not wish to hire the house in his own name, but that of John Perry; after some negotiation, he let the house at No. 165 Cambridge Street, and an agreement was drawn up wherein the defendant was described as John Perry of Lansdowne Street, Bath, and a young lady, who subsequently was called Miss Perry and occasionally Lady Pottinger, took possession. Some of the furniture she brought with her was cleaned and polished, and a piano and other articles were supplied, and the bill of the plaintiff amounted altogether to £84. 13s. When he sent in his bill Miss Perry asked him not to claim the whole amount, and he accordingly made out a bill for £44 and the defendant called upon him and offered to pay £20 on account, but when he became aware that there was a larger sum he refused to pay anything, and the plaintiff was in consequence compelled to bring the present action.

Operating under the pseudonym of John Perry, Sir Frederick had enlisted his agent, Mr Russell, to communicate to Mr Clerk that he wished to conceal his real identity. His justification was to excuse himself from any potential jury duty and to remain absent from the rate books. This clever subterfuge allowed Sir Frederick to delight in the enchantments of Miss Perry without arousing suspicion. As witness testimonies about a 'Knight of the Realm's' romantic escapades were delivered, a wave of amusement rippled through the court gallery. The wronged party, Mr Clerk, presented his deposition, which was later documented in ‘Reynolds's newspaper’ on August 16, 1857:

Under her direction he did all the work for which the present claim is made. A short time afterwards he saw Sir F Pottinger in the drawing-room, and he complained of the bill that had been sent in, and said he would pay anything that was reasonable, but that he would not be ‘done’. Sir Frederick after this called at his shop and offered to give him £20 on account, but he then told him that his bill was £84, and not £44, and Sir Frederick then said he should not pay anything, and that he was going abroad, and he might get his money where he could.

Mr Clerk added: 

The goods were all sent in by direction of Sir Frederick’s lady. She was called sometimes Miss Perry, but he also believed she also went by the name of Lady Pottinger. The servants used to call her “My Lady."

However, a servant girl employed as a cook in the household shed light on Sir Frederick’s hanky-panky, stated. ‘The Morning Chronicle’, 11th August 1857:

Sir Frederick use to come there frequently, and stayed all night and breakfasted, but never dined. She remembered that when the bill was sent in, Sir Frederick was very angry, and she had repeatedly heard him say; "You must not be extravagant, darling. At the time she saw the plaintiff’s bill he gave Miss Perry £20, and he then gave her and her fellow servant 10s each and went out of the house. Sir Frederick would not allow anyone to come to visit Miss Perry but himself, and she heard him say that if he ever found anyone in the house he would kick them out. Miss Perry formerly lived in Stanley Street. She would rather not answer the question whether other gentlemen besides Sir Frederick use to visit her there.

Once the plaintiff's witnesses had finished their testimonies, it was time for Sir Frederick Pottinger to take the stand. Exhibiting his aristocratic flair, Sir Frederick masterfully executed a rhetorical dance, artfully disputing the implications of the prior testimonies. He framed his defence as a case of contradictory statements, downplaying the controversy to mere hearsay. His testimony was duly reported in the 'Reynolds Newspaper' on August 16th, 1857; (See article right.)

Once all the evidence had been presented, a special jury retired to consider their verdict. After deliberation, they returned, pronouncing a decision in favour of Sir Frederick Pottinger, and he was subsequently discharged. Unfazed by the court proceedings, Sir Frederick swiftly returned to the pleasures of London society, accompanied, or not, by Miss Perry.

Sir Frederick was not the only child of Sir Henry Pottinger. He had a brother, Eldred, who sadly died in infancy. Another sibling, Henry, who lived from 1834 to 1909, succeeded their father as the 3rd Baronet. He also had a sister, Henrietta-Maria, who lived from 1829 to 1905.

Great Western Hotel,
Paddington, London.
Sir Frederick's and

Miss Perry's Haunt.
Clasping the latest sports journal under his arm, Sir Frederick Pottinger continued to indulge in his extravagant lifestyle. Yet, his reckless spending and heavy losses at the race track and gambling houses rapidly diminished his fortune. This period of decline he brought considerable distress to his mother, who was reported to have sold much of her jewellery to ward off persistent debt collectors.

To escape imminent court appearances over his debts, Pottinger slipped away to Spain, specifically Cadiz, in the company of a friend from the Guards. After a brief period, he returned to England quietly, only to leave again shortly. This time, his destination was Australia.

In 1859, under the guise of F.W. Parker, Sir Frederick migrated from Liverpool, England, to Melbourne, Australia. Arriving inconspicuously at Melbourne's Port Phillip Bay on board the passenger ship 'British Trident', he left his past behind, starting a new chapter of his life in a foreign land.

Note: Why Parker? Admiral W. Parker was a close ally of his late father in Asia during the 'Treaty of Nanking' negotiation in 1842 and a mentor to Sir Frederick.

During the early days of colonial Australia, at the height of the gold rush fervor, the movement of people was unconstrained by bureaucratic procedures. Formal passports, as we know them today, did not exist. If one was driven by ambition or desperation to leave their old life behind and venture to the antipodes, all that was needed was the fare for passage aboard a ship heading to their desired location. Their journey would be documented only on the vessel's manifest, and upon reaching their destination, they could disembark without fanfare or scrutiny.

Australia, being situated at the 'bottom of the world', was a place where many could blend into the fabric of the growing colonies, often under assumed identities. Sir Frederick Pottinger was one such individual who seized this opportunity. Fleeing England and his relentless debt collectors, he booked passage to Victoria under the pseudonym of F. W. Parker. His ship, the British Trident, arrived on the shores of Melbourne City on 8th March 1859, marking the beginning of Pottinger's new life in the southern hemisphere.

City of Sydney
1853-62.
Oil painting by C. D. Gregory.
Courtesy Flotilla Australia
 


As with many who journeyed to Australia during that time, whether incognito or open migrants, the lure of the gold rush was irresistible. Upon disembarking in Melbourne, Sir Frederick, along with a fellow passenger from his voyage, was soon caught up in the gold fever. They joined the throngs of fortune seekers on the Victorian goldfields.

However, after eight months of arduous toil and no significant finds, Pottinger found himself disillusioned with the promise of easy riches. He decided to shift his focus north to New South Wales and the bustling city of Sydney, the fledgeling nation's metropolis. Sir Frederick secured passage on the ship 'City of Sydney', a 700-ton vessel under the command of Captain Moodie, and embarked on his journey.

It was during this voyage, on 4th March 1860, that he opted to reclaim his original name, registering his passage as Frederick Pottinger, while still withholding his baronet title. He left behind the pseudonym of F.W. Parker that had served him well on his initial journey from England. The 'City of Sydney' docked in the majestic Sydney Harbour, where Pottinger, keeping a low profile, disembarked without any fanfare or ceremony, ready to start a new chapter in the vibrant city.


After setting foot in the bustling town of Sydney, Pottinger opted for a degree of anonymity. He chose not to disclose his standing as a member of the British aristocracy or his military background and refrained from involving himself in Sydney's society. Taking an unexpected turn, Pottinger joined the ranks of the New South Wales mounted patrol.

This career move saw him assigned to the Southern Mounted Patrol in Gundagai. His responsibilities involved working with the NSW Gold Escort, an essential service operating in the South-Western Districts of NSW with its headquarters at Bathurst. This position allowed Pottinger to serve in a capacity that utilised his military skills and experience, all while maintaining a low profile.

Brevet Major General Sir Henry Pottinger, 1st Baronet, GCB, PC

Pottinger residence at Victoria, Hong Kong 1845.

Pottinger family residence at 67, Eaton Place, London, 1851.
Sir Frederick Pottinger's Fathers Will, published in the
Illustrated London News, 14th February 1857.
(In today's terms, £70,000 is more than $5.8 million, squandered in three years.)
t
Sir Frederick Pottinger's alias of F.W. Parker departed Liverpool on 8th March 1859.
Sir Frederick Pottinger's alias of F.W. Parker arrival in Victoria on 8th June 1859.
A Gold Escort, Bathurst,
c. 1870's.

Courtesy NLA.

However, gold at Kiandra and Ohir created a fever that stripped the police force of reliable men, whereby enlistment came with limited scrutiny. The impact of gold fever on the police force was noted:


Dozens of constables had deserted their posts during the decade of golden glory. The substitutes, hastily recruited to cope with the ever-expanding population and increase of crime, were seldom satisfactory. Many a constable was dismissed for drunkenness and other vices. A policeman's lot was "not a happy one" in New South Wales in the Furious Fifties and Sensational Sixties.

Assigned to the remote southwest district, Pottinger was tasked with guarding the gold escort from the newly unearthed goldfield at Kiandra, in the Snowy Mountains, to Gundagai, and onwards to Bathurst. His accommodation, a far cry from the luxuries he was accustomed to, was based in the modest township of Gundagai, a place he would later describe as "miserable".

While Pottinger was navigating this new existence amidst the rugged terrain of New South Wales, safeguarding gold, an intriguing letter arrived at the Bathurst Police Headquarters. Addressed to Sir Frederick Pottinger Bart., the mysterious letter signalled a turning point in his life. The abrupt reminder of his noble roots forced him to face his precipitous descent from the aristocracy, prompting a moment of self-reflection captured in his diary. Here he candidly discussed his current life as a trooper, an existence far removed from the vibrant provincial towns or metropolises he once roamed. His 1860 diary entry spoke volumes about the discontent he felt amidst the humble surroundings of Gundagai.

At the age of 29 I had fallen as far beneath the position and expectations I was born to... let me hopefully and cheerfully turn to the future and trusting providence... enable me to regain the position I have forfeited.

As the gold rushes took hold, the NSW government became responsible for safe delivery from the new fields springing up like mushrooms to the regional city Bathurst for further delivery to the metropolis and Mint. The NSW goldfields were placed under the command of Capt. Battye at Bathurst. Here Baytte established weekly gold escorts from all the principal gold diggings to the town. Gold was transported in a light but strong spring cart, guarded by armed constables and mounted troopers. However, Pottinger spent a relatively short period as a mounted trooper on the escorts. (On 1st of March 1862, the Police Regulation Act 1862 commenced, creating the present police force of New South Wales. Thus, after a period of 73 years, the police service of NSW became, and has so remained, consolidated. THE POLICE OF SYDNEY 1788-1862; Bruce Swanton, 1984.)
Sir Frederick Pottinger's arrival in NSW, 4th March 1860,
 no longer using the alias of Parker.
Bathurst Free Press and
Mining Journal Saturday
5th May 1860.

Pottinger kept the title of Baronet a secret until uncovered in May 1860. Whereby, the masquerade was exposed by Captain Battye (Officer-in-charge of the Bathurst Police), who had been handed a letter addressed for a Sir Frederick Pottinger Bart, Mounted Police Bathurst. There was a search and no luck in ascertaining who the gentleman was within his command, at a loss over this curious peer of the realm. Battye placed an advertisement in the newspapers seeking knowledge of the mystery Baronet's whereabouts. 


Subsequently, living the mundane life of a gold escort guard and a fall from grace. There could only be one possibility for the letters' appearance. Sir Frederick himself sent the letter knowing that a change would be in the air. Therefore, upon Pottinger's unearthing, Captain Battye informed the powers that be in Sydney.


Now exposed, propriety stepped in as a Baronet riding shotgun on a gold escort could not possibly be condoned. Consequently, like lightening striking, Government promotion came rapidly for the unveiled Sir Frederick Pottinger. The Baronet was described as:

A fine, straight, aristocratic-looking fellow, nearly 6ft. in height—and there was something very superior about his features. He was a gentleman if ever there was one.²

At Pottinger's unveiling, his first promotion from gold trooper was Clerk of Petty Sessions stationed at Dubbo. Effective November 1860. From his exposure in May 1860 to his first appointment at Dubbo in November, Pottinger's meteorological rise was astounding. During his time at Dubbo, he was known as diligent and well regarded. (See Article Below.)
NSW Government Gazette, 1860.
Clerk of Petty Sessions, Dubbo 30th Oct 1860.

Pottinger appointed Assistant-Inspector Burrangong, November 1861.
The table illustrated from the Police of Sydney 1788-1862. Showing the command organisation up to the consolidation of the current NSW Police Force. Swanton 1984.
Before long, Sir Frederick was again promoted to Assistant Superintendent of the Southern Patrol and Gold Escorts, his former trooper station, and a Magistrate of the Colony on the 1st October 1861, stationed at Lambing Flat. (See Article Below.)

Empire, 5th October 1861.
NSW Government Gazette, 1861.
Sir Frederick at work Dubbo June 1861.
 Bathurst Free Press and Mining
Journal Saturday Wednesday
15th January 1862.
 
Sir Frederick had achieved new and remarkable positions, all within 12 months of his identity revealed. The leap from a trooper in pay was astounding, whereby as a trooper, Sir Frederick earned 5s 6d a day. (20 Shillings = £1) The new roles had a pay jump to £300 a year.

In 1860/1, Lambing Flat was in turmoil over the question of Chinese gold diggers. These ill feelings came to ahead as disgruntled European miners rallied to rid the field of the celestials. Riots became a daily part of life as men continued to agitate the banning of the Chinese. The Europeans despised the Chinese, who were considered the closest thing to an alien. The Battle of Lambing Flat-Frank Clune:

They lived in a special Chinese quarter on the diggings, built temples and installed images of the Sacred Dragon - "joss-houses" with "idols" as the whites called them. They played fan-tan all through the night, smoked opium and practised strange vices. Their living habits were filthy: they fouled the earth and the water; they were heathens and aliens; they couldn't speak English; and - worst of all - they were getting plenty of gold and sending it all back to China.

The sentiment on the goldfield was expressed in the same terms as the incursion of the Eureka Stockade. Where miners affected change through force. The Battle of Lambing Flat-Frank Clune.

I tell you," says an elderly miner, "it's only by direct action that you'll make the government sit up and take notice. That's what we did at Eureka in '54. Well, I remember it, and hundreds of others on this field remember too. The diggers of Ballarat stood up and fought for their miners' rights. And we got them, too - a pound a year instead of thirty bob a month. But there had to be bloodshed before we got our rights.

The shedding of Chinese blood was not given a second thought.

As law and order were flouted, the police began rounding up those whose voices stirred the miners into action. Leaders of the attempted expulsions such as William Spicer, Charles Stewart and Dougal Cameron led the 'Roll-up' 'Roll-up' campaign to oust the Chinese from the Flat. Sir Frederick Pottinger as a new magistrate, sat on the Bench conducting trials and passing sentences. In this capacity, Pottinger sat for the arraignment of those leaders of the infamous Chinese riots. (See Article right.)

At the time of the unrest, Pottinger commanded a police force which in the interim had been considerably strengthened to subdue the anti-Chinese sentiment at Lambing Flat. The mounted patrol at Pottinger's disposal consisted of a sergeant-major, seven sergeants, twelve corporals and fifty-seven troopers, and a foot patrol under Senior-Sergeant Sanderson, consisting of a sergeant, a corporal and twenty-one constables. (extracted from The Birth of White Australia, The Battle of Lambing Flat by Frank Clune.)

The 1st March 1862, through the New South Wales parliament, saw legislated 'New Police Act'1862. The legislation brought about the complete re-organisation of the entire Police force, including commands, broken into regions. Sir Frederick was promoted to Inspector of Police, transferred, taking command of the Lachlan District based at Forbes, New South Wales. Forbes was developing into a major regional centre due to the newly discovered Goldfield, and an influx of men and women from all parts of the colony descend on the town. At its peak, some 30,000 flooded the town. Pottinger was known to enforce the law vigorously and without favour, earning the influential citizens' respect.

(1833-1913)
Private Source.
Pottinger was never far from controversy, in December 1861, while playing and betting on game's of billiards at the Great Eastern Hotel in Yass, there was an altercation with a Mr Thomas Watt, a butcher at Burrangong over perceived dishonesty conspired between Pottinger and Henry Cohen whom Watt referred to as swindlers resulting in Pottinger bashing Watt across the back of the head with a pool cue. The scuffle lasted some minutes. with Pottinger said:

He could not allow Mr Watt to call him a scoundrel in a public room without resenting it, he happened to get plaintiff's head near a window, and took the opportunity to knock his head through it. 

The court action came close to costing Pottinger his job; however, escaping dismissal, he was censured by the government while holding on to his position. (For a full description of the events, see the link below. For letter of censure, see further down.)


On the fateful day of June 15, 1862, a Sunday, a gold escort coach laden with 2700 ounces of gold and £3700 in cash began its journey from Forbes at midday. Destined for Bathurst via Eugowra and Orange, the precious cargo would eventually be transferred to the Sydney mint. Initially commanded by Sgt McClure, the escort was later handed over to Sgt Condell, who was on his way to Sydney for training to join the mounted police force.

The journey took them through the tiny village of Eugowra, where the road ran parallel to a vast array of granite boulders strewn across the local range. As they approached, Sgt Condell, seated next to the driver, found their way obstructed by three bullock teams. The driver, John Fagan, loudly demanding passage for the Royal Mail, called out, "Make way for the Royal Mail." they slowly maneuvered around the impediments.

However, as they neared the imposing granite boulders, a sudden cry of "FIRE" echoed through the air, followed by a flurry of gunfire that riddled the wooden frame of the coach. The attack resulted in injuries for two of the escort; a bullet found its way to Condell's ribs, while Constable Moran, seated inside the coach, sustained a wound to the groin.

Reputed Eugowra Escort
Coach. c. 1900s.

The photograph was taken by
Frank Walker, 1861-1948.
In the aftermath of the raid, the police hastily retreated, taking their wounded to the nearby farm of Hanbury Clements. Once there, after ensuring the injured troopers received necessary medical attention, Clements saddled up and rode full tilt to Forbes to relay news of the skirmish to Sir Frederick Pottinger.

Pottinger, acting promptly, gathered local support and made his way to Clements' farm. Upon reaching the scene, he assessed the situation, organized the righting of the upturned coach, and set trackers to work tracing the assailants' steps. Led by the notorious Frank Gardiner, the bushrangers had seemingly evaporated into the wilderness, fleeing to their concealed refuge at Wheogo Hill, some 60 miles to the south.

Pottinger split his forces, sending one contingent to pursue the fugitives south. He reasoned that the culprits were likely from Victoria and set off on a gruelling 200-mile journey to the village of Hay, hopeful of intercepting the bandits. However, the expedition yielded no results, and a weary Pottinger and his small party decided to return to Forbes.

They chanced upon three well-dressed riders mounted on fine steeds during their return journey. Striking up a conversation, Pottinger requested one of the strangers produce a receipt for his impressive horse. The stranger, playing along, steered his horse towards the nearby scrub under the pretence of searching for the receipt, only to suddenly spur his horse and make a swift escape into the thickets. Taken aback, the police quickly recovered, drew their revolvers, and managed to handcuff the remaining two riders.
 
Gunfight marker at
Sproules. Temora.

My Photo.
The elusive rider turned out to be none other than John Gilbert, one of the bushrangers. Gilbert, on escaping, swiftly made his way to the Weddin Mountains. Once there, he rounded up a band of men and crafted a daring plan to liberate his captured companions, Henry Manns, who was implicated in the Eugowra robbery, and Charles D'Arcy Gilbert, his elder brother.

Having expertly calculated the police's route and the ideal location for the ambush, Gilbert waited in the shadows, ready to strike. As Pottinger and his contingent were passing by the Sproules' homestead, a mere eight miles from Temora in New South Wales, Gilbert launched his assault. A heated firefight ensued, in the midst of which the prisoners were freed. Unfortunately, amidst the chaos, one of the police horses, carrying the cash recovered from Manns, was shot. Startled, the wounded horse bolted, disappearing into the surrounding wilderness.

However, not all was lost. Pottinger, still in possession of 230 ounces of the stolen gold, managed to retreat successfully. Rallying his scattered men, Pottinger set a course back to Forbes, resolved to regroup and reassess their pursuit of the audacious bushrangers.

Authors Note: To visit the approximate area of the gunfight at Sproules Timoola Station, take the Goldfields Hwy from Temora for 9.6 km's turn right at the Flying Spitfires Temora road sign. Travel roughly 2.5 km's on Treagers Lane (un-signposted). The road is very rough but with care can be taken by car. The Commemorative Marker is on the right of the track, fenced off alongside a creek, and easy to spot. (Sproules Lagoon) Sproule's old station (Sprowle's) homestead was opposite the Marker. Congratulations to those in Temora who erected the Marker and their help in directing me there.

Recognising that the culprits of the Eugowra robbery were likely locals, Sir Frederick Pottinger sprang into action. He launched a wide net, arresting individuals he identified as associates of the infamous Frank Gardiner in quick succession. Confident that the pressure would compel at least one of the arrested to spill the secrets, Pottinger's strategy proved successful. Indeed, one Daniel Charters capitulated under the pressure, providing crucial information that identified the culprits. However, he failed to expose the co-conspirators, Ben Hall and John O'Meally, which led to speculations about under-the-table deals.

With the invaluable information at their disposal, four members of the gang - John Maguire, Alexander Fordyce, John Bow, and the recaptured Henry Manns - were transported to Sydney to face trial. The proceedings commenced in early February 1863, but the jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision, leading to a mistrial. The second trial convened two weeks later, ultimately finding Bow, Fordyce, and Manns guilty. They were sentenced to death, although Bow and Fordyce's sentences were commuted to life imprisonment. Manns was not so fortunate - he was destined for the gallows.

Meanwhile, as the trial was unfolding, Sir Frederick was soaking in the delights of city life in Sydney. However, an unpleasant incident occurred during one of his late-night strolls down King Street. On his return to his residence at The Victoria Club in Castlereagh Street, it was reported that Sir Frederick was accosted and assaulted by a group of men.
:

On Saturday evening, about twelve o'clock, As Sir Frederick Pottinger was quietly strolling down King-street he saw three men following him. He, however, did not take any particular notice of them, and before he was aware of their proximity to him, he received a severe blow in the face from one of The party behind him which knocked him off the pavement in the mud. As soon as he recovered himself he perceived several men at some distance from him who, by their manner must have been the individuals who assaulted him, and who appeared to be regarding it as a good joke. There being no person by to render assistance, and not being able to identify the party who struck the blow, the miscreant escaped.

The assault on Sir Frederick Pottinger, who had been subjected to the harsh scrutiny of the press due to his stern approach to those he deemed unsavoury characters in the rural areas, stirred up a storm of speculation. Some suspected he might have been deliberately targeted for his infamy. In contrast, others pondered if he was merely an unfortunate victim of an opportunistic street crime, a stranger in the wrong place at the wrong time. Still, others questioned whether his own behaviour may have contributed to the incident.

This violent event prompted many among the city's elites to rally to his defence. Praise for Sir Frederick's dedicated work in the bush began to appear in the more conservative newspapers, such as The Sydney Morning Herald. However, opposing views were put forward by The Empire, a publication that scoffed at the notion that his assault was anything more than a random occurrence. They poured scepticism onto the narratives praising Pottinger, generating further controversy around the already contentious figure of Sir Frederick.

Inspector Sir FREDERICK POTTINGER was attacked in the streets, by some, "miscreants" who favoured the prisoners. Now, taking this assertion on its bare merits, let us ask what motive any criminal sympathiser could have in making an attack upon this very harmless policeman? We can imagine that the friends of Messrs. GARDINER, GILBERT, and Co. would desire no more "ancient and quiet watchman" than the prudent baronet to perambulate the regions of Wheogo and the Wedden Mountains. GARDINER and his men led Inspector POTTINGER on a wild goose chase all over the country, and were able to laugh at him after all. The arch robber, single-handed, rode up to the place where this gentle constable lay in ambush, with ten other armed men, and yet slipped through all their fingers. Why, then, should any thief's friend wish, to hurt Sir FREDERICK! We could rather imagine the fraternity presenting a memorial to the Chief Secretary, to retain him perpetually in his present command. Even if it were otherwise if Inspector POTTINGER were as formidable as he is really innocuous to the commanders of the roads in his district, experience has shown that he might pass through the streets unmolested at all hours, if he only behaved himself. 

Any fleeting indignation over Sir Frederick's assault was swiftly quelled when it emerged that his behaviour towards Sydney's ladies was deemed to be less than gentlemanly. Some interpreted his actions as unseemly, bordering on lewd, and this indiscretion kicked a proverbial hornet's nest. Protective brothers and outraged suitors did not take kindly to the English gentleman's actions. Sir Frederick had once again found himself at the epicentre of scandal, with his actions threatening his reputation and standing within Sydney society.

But rumour assigns another origin for this sensation statement about Inspector POTTINGER. It is said that the gallant, policeman, fatigued with the slow proceedings of the Criminal Court during the day, took occasion in the evening to lounge into the Hyde Park Bazaar, given for the benefit of St. Vincent's Hospital, and, being of a social and adventurous turn under some circumstances, distinguished himself by closely scrutinising the ladies under their bonnets-a piece of baronet-policeman impertinence, which was so resented by certain young fellows-brothers and sweethearts mayhap that they took the first opportunity of giving the beau a jostling outside, said to be considerably less than he deserved. This is the explanation of the matter that we have heard, and it certainly does not exhibit such a woeful state of society here as our contemporary, who clutches at any dirty straw to keep his argument afloat, would desire to make out.

However, the sharp contrast in social commentary from The Sydney Morning Herald and The Empire regarding governmental and police matters cast a shade of doubt on either version of Pottinger's assault. As a man of robust character, Sir Frederick likely took full advantage of his time in Sydney.

Unfortunately, controversy once again stalked the tenacious baronet. In late September 1862, during a night out in Bathurst, an altercation occurred with a local resident, William Campbell Mockett. Outraged by the incident, Mockett pressed charges against Sir Frederick, alleging that the inspector had held his revolver to his head, threatening to "put a bullet through him." The dispute had stemmed from a private party at McMinn's, the jeweller's shop when Mockett tried to persuade a friend to return to the gathering. For reasons unclear, Sir Frederick intervened in a manner that would lead to further scandal.
The court proceedings can be accessed through the link below.
Bell's Life in Sydney and Sporting Chronicle
Saturday 4th October 1862
BATHURST POLICE COURT.
Throughout the ensuing years, Sir Frederick found himself constantly embroiled in controversy and facing a barrage of criticism. He was publicly chastised for his zealous, sometimes harsh approach to the ongoing battle against bushranging and those accused of providing them shelter. Yet, Pottinger's past and his propensity for living on the edge often dictated his conduct, his reputation for indulging in life's fast lane seemingly unshakable.

Any criticism aimed at Pottinger only served to bolster his resolve, solidifying his determination to exert the full force of the law. He was not one to favour leniency or compassion, instead adhering to a rigid, unwavering stance. This became particularly evident when a subordinate, Constable Hassen, was charged with the killing of a man in police custody. In January 1863, Sir Frederick Pottinger found himself summoned to Orange, called upon to serve as a character witness for the accused constable. The jury, swayed perhaps by Pottinger's testimony, ruled the incident as 'Justifiable Homicide', by a slim majority of 7 to 5.
'Goulburn Herald', January 1863:

Boyd never the less put himself in an attitude as if about to strike; on which Hassen fired Boyd fell mortally wounded. He died about noon. The jury by a majority of 7 to 9, returned a verdict of justifiable homicide. Sir Frederick Pottinger gave Hassen a good character, and said that there had been only one charge against him since he had been in the police force, and that was for excessive leniency.

Sir Frederick Pottinger's tempestuous nature seemed to perpetually draw him into confrontations. On one occasion, he found himself at the receiving end of a young lady's wrath, a certain Miss Kyle, a local identity in Forbes renowned for her fiery Lola Montez-like temperament. Offended by a particularly impudent letter from Pottinger, Miss Kyle responded by attempting to horsewhip the Baronet in public, an event that undoubtedly stirred the local community.

Miss Kyle, a formidable entrepreneur in her own right, owned and managed a series of popular public houses on Rankin Street, alongside a certain Mr Huey. Among these establishments were the 'Horse and Jockey Hotel', 'Bull and Mouth', 'Diggers Return', and 'Tara Hall'. However, in June 1864, a massive fire ravaged the street, decimating her thriving businesses as reported by the 'Empire'. Pottinger's escapades with Miss Kyle added yet another layer of colour to his eventful life in colonial Australia.
 
The Bull and Mouth was burned in a moment, Mr. Huey saving next to nothing; at the same time the Diggers Return shared the same fate, but Miss Kyle was, fortunately, able to get most of her properly out.  Mr Wall, who was lodging at Miss Kyle's had the place on fire over him before he could get out of his bed-room, and indeed from the combustible nature of the buildings, it is almost inexplicable that no loss of life should have occurred. Gold, as well as money, was lost in the flames both by Miss Kyle and Mr Huey, and also some watches by the later. The places destroyed are-1, Thompson's building pulled down; 2. Ellet's iron store, burned; 3. Tara's Hall,  burned; 4. Bull and Mouth, burned; 5. Greig's old store, now the properly of Mr. Richards, burned; 6. Miss Kyle's burned. Inspector Saunderson was especially noticeable, and senior, sergeant Rush kept a sharp lookout over the property which was brought out into the street.

However, after the attempted belting, Miss Kyle was bound over to keep the peace for six months.

Frank Gardiner.
c. 1862.
Moreover, Pottinger's Achilles heel was his failure to capture the prolific bushranger Frank 'The Darkie' Gardiner. The failure would have Sir Frederick ridiculed in the presswhere his lack of success would be recounted in poetry and song. Such as 'The Bloody Field of Wheogo' below.
The Sydney Morning Herald
Saturday 23rd August 1862
THE BLOODY FIELD OF WHEOGO.
However, poetry and songs aside. Amid the uproar and scandal, Sir Frederick Pottinger found himself embroiled in a fresh controversy, as his character was publicly challenged in the Parliament. Joseph Harpur, a member of parliament and the son of Ben Hall's stepmother-in-law, took advantage of his parliamentary privilege to brazenly label Sir Frederick a "liar and a coward." Harpur was a long-standing critic of the new police act and was notoriously biased against the police and their vigorous enforcement of the law.

The roots of Harpur's antagonism can be traced back to the experiences of his own family. His mother, Sarah Walsh nee Harpur, had suffered the traumatic experience of her stepson Johnny Walsh's imprisonment and subsequent death in Forbes. Harpur's defiance seemed to stem from a personal vendetta, wherein he declared, "he would advocate the cause of robbers and murderers-no, not even where some of them his own blood relatives."

Never one to shy away from confrontation, Sir Frederick took umbrage at the insult and demanded an apology. He challenged Harpur directly, ready to defend his honour. However, Harpur stood firm, refusing to back down. Given the recent public controversies surrounding Sir Frederick and perhaps considering the tragic circumstances of Johnny Walsh's death and the counsel of Mr. D. Egan, Pottinger decided to let the issue fade away. Eventually, Harpur, through Mr Eagan, issued an apology to Sir Frederick.
:

Mr Harpur endeavours to support a statement he had previously made in the House respecting Sir F Pottinger, after "he had given to Sir F Pottinger a written apology (vide Mr Egan's speech, published in the same issue), for using the offensive expression.

Regardless, Pottinger maintained his passion for the fast life as previously enjoyed in the 'Old Dart' (England). Whatever, his shortcomings Sir Frederick had as well many admirers; 'Maitland Mercury and Hunter River Advertiser' on the 4th September 1862, the following:

While amongst us previous to his removal to the Lachlan, he was highly esteemed as a most efficient and praiseworthy officer, and without the slightest hesitation, notwithstanding all the fulminations against him of a portion of the press, and our own expression of opinion as to the late encounter with Gardiner, we state it is our belief that he is one of our best and most zealous officers.
 
Saturday, the 9th of August, 1862, marked an auspicious day for the Baronet, Sir Frederick Pottinger. Acting on a valuable tip-off, he learned that 'The Darkie' was likely to surface for a clandestine rendezvous with his lover, Mrs. Brown, at Wheogo. Sensing an opportunity to apprehend the elusive character, Pottinger decided to stake out Kitty's home, the Wheogo Station.

Never one to leave things to chance, Pottinger meticulously planned his strategy. He summoned eight of his officers, including Hollister, Sanderson, and Condell, to accompany him. Together, they hunkered down in their hideout, patiently waiting for 'The Darkie' to appear. As the day unfolded, the air was thick with anticipation as Pottinger and his men kept their eyes peeled for any signs of their target.


For the first time, Pottinger found himself acting on solid intelligence. In the eerie quiet of the night, he spotted Gardiner, who had casually returned to Mrs. Brown's home after an earlier visit, anticipating an intimate evening with her. Astride his white charger, Gardiner seemed to be oblivious to the imminent threat.

As Gardiner neared within a few yards, Pottinger sprang up suddenly, hollering 'Stand in the Queen's name', before aiming his carbine at the unsuspecting man and firing point-blank. However, a misfire allowed a thoroughly startled Gardiner to escape, even as two other troopers added to the chaos by discharging their weapons, their bullets whizzing past Gardiner as he disappeared into the obscurity of the night.

Despite the failure to apprehend Gardiner, Pottinger was undeterred. He proceeded to Mrs. Brown's home, questioning both Kitty and her younger brother Johnny Walsh, ultimately arresting the latter. The events of that night were laid out before the Forbes Bench during Walsh's subsequent arraignment, an incident that attracted much derision and criticism for Sir Frederick.

During this time, Johnny Walsh, along with Ben Hall, John McGuire, and John Brown—Kitty's brother-in-law—found themselves locked up in Forbes Jail in connection with the Eugowra Gold Robbery. Tragically, young Walsh would succumb to a fever while in Pottinger's custody, his demise marking a grim footnote to this tumultuous period.
(For full details of the encounter between the two adversaries, see link below.)
Bendigo Advertiser
Thursday 21st August 1862
MIDNIGHT ENCOUNTER WITH GARDINER.

Patsy Daley.
(1844-1914)
Sir Frederick Pottinger's one true success came when Pottinger affected Patsy Daley's capture on 11 March 1863. Pottinger and his troopers pursued the bushrangers' suspected path between the Weddin Mountains and Pinnacle Station area when his tracker Billy Dargin spotted fresh horse tracks crossing their path. Pottinger gives a first-hand account of the events at Daley's court appearance. See attached link below.
Sydney Morning Herald
17th March 1863
The capture of Patrick Daley

Gardiner having fled the Lachlan, Sir Frederick's focus turned to Ben Hall. The bushrangers whereabouts was well protected by his harbourers and old friends. Latest reports for Sir Frederick held that Hall was somewhere about Lambing Flat. As such, the Inspector made for that town to link up with a patrol. However, coinciding with Pottinger's arrival at Lambing Flat, the local horse-races were scheduled. Pottinger loved a good race meeting something which would be his undoing in the future, costing him dearly. "Sir Frederick was very fond of fun, and very fond of a horse-race." In June 1863, Pottinger rode into town as reported in the 'Empire', of the 13th June 1863:

The three days races passed off very quietly, although the sport was very fair, and the attendance pretty numerous, yet the scarcity of money threw a damper on that hilarious spirit so necessary to enjoy a race meeting. Sir Frederick Pottinger, as usual, created much amusement by appearing on the racecourse with blankets, strapped on before him on the saddle; a quart pot, a pair of hobbles; and a pair of handcuffs, being artistically arranged around other parts of his saddle. His man Friday, (Dargin) in the shape of a black tracker, followed him. The who o, to use a much-hackneyed phrase "forming a unique sight which must be seen to be fully appreciated.

Sir Frederick
Pottinger.
In July 1863, the New South Wales Parliament was engulfed in a storm of indignation over the police force's seeming incapability to contain the rampant bushranging scourge rampant in the Western Districts. This mounting pressure prompted Sir Frederick Pottinger, who commanded the police in the Lachlan District, to provide a clear and comprehensive account of the struggles and challenges they faced in performing their duty.

Pottinger penned a detailed memorandum, elucidating the Herculean tasks faced by the police under his charge. The memorandum was not only intended to shed light on the difficulties posed by the harsh environment and hardened criminals but also highlighted the problem of those aiding and abetting the bushrangers, which compounded the police's struggle. 'The Cone of Silence.'

This memorandum was addressed to the Colonial Secretary, Mr Cowper, who subsequently tabled it in the New South Wales Parliament. Pottinger's intent was to ensure that the honourable members of the Parliament would gain a comprehensive understanding of the gritty reality of the police's endeavours. Thus, from the Lachlan district, Sir Frederick Pottinger's memorandum made its way into the chambers of the Parliament: 

The Lachlan police district comprises an area of about 600 miles by 200, but does not include the Wedden. "Forbes is ninety-five miles from Young, the point of junction between the two districts (the Lachlan and Captain Zouch's), being just half-way.

2. The Lachlan police do duty in the bush invariably in plain clothes, saddles, &c., without swords, disguised in fact as far as possible like bushrangers. "Their 'orders' are to 'bush out', avoiding roads, public-houses, stations, &c., in short, to in every way conceal themselves and their movements, which orders are generally duly obeyed. I have myself 'bushed out' with parties for fifteen and twenty days consecutively, the men subsisting solely on the 'rations' with them, and the horses on grass feed. "The Lachlan district, from having been one of the most disorderly, has become one of the quietest in the colony. Since the 15th June, 1862, but five cases of robbery under arms have occurred within fifty miles of head-quarters, Forbes, and two out of the five were owing to police officers themselves running into the 'lion's mouth'. "Besides the recovery of the escort gold, the Lachlan police have captured Healy, Owens, Hilton, and other notorious bushrangers (hereinafter specified), also some hundred lesser criminals at Forbes and elsewhere.

At present, not a bushranger dares show in the district but he is accounted for, if not caught. "The last time Gilbert, O'Mealy, and Hall shewed they were tracked sixty miles in twenty-four hours, and after losing six horses (including Mr. Roberts' racehorse Chinaman), were hunted out of the district. "In short, nothing can be more satisfactory than the results of police operations, as evinced in the existing state of the Lachlan district.

Myself, I have during my tenure of office personally apprehended Manns, Bow, Fordyce, Charters, Ben Hall, John O'Mealy, John Youngman, Billy the Native, Patrick Daly, besides being personally instrumental to the capture of dozens of others of more or less criminal repute." "It was owing wholly and solely to me that the escort robbery was brought to light, and four of the offenders to justice. "When I took Manns, Darcy, and the 217 oz. of gold, I was accompanied only by Mr. Mitchell (a volunteer) and a detective —Lyons—and I only consented to their rescue by seven armed men when I found Lyons was hors de combat on the first volley, and that Mr. Mitchell had but one shot; I then, after standing fire some five to seven minutes, reluctantly resigned my prisoners, in the hope of, at any rate, saving the gold (£900),  which I did.

From the 15th of June to the 1st of December, 1862, I slept out in the bush ninety-three nights, and I am prepared to show that I have (by the universal admission of all my men), done more bush duty than any officer or constable in the colony. "But one ejectment has been enforced by Lachlan police. "Ben Hall's house was alone burnt down, and that at the request of the then (by mortgage) actual proprietor. The house was at the time occupied by Henry Gibson (notorious villain since committed), also illegally at large from Victoria, Mrs. McGuire, and Hall's mother, and was daily frequented by bushrangers.

A week's notice was given and nothing destroyed — no woman or child frightened or molested." "Welsh was only in the first instance fourteen days in custody when he was discharged on bail. "Some five months after his own surety gave him up as being 'out' (a bushranger), and a month after he was arrested on a supplementary and subsequent charge of horse stealing.

He was taken every care of, and was recovering under the care of Dr. Connel, when he was removed by his mother to a public-house, and there his jugular vein and two temporal arteries being opened by some 'quack,' under whose treatment he had been placed—he (of course) died. "His original complaint was simply Lachlan fever, at the time frightfully prevalent."

Frederick W. Pottinger,  
In charge Lachlan district.

"P.S.— But for the merest accident Gardiner would have been shot by me when Sanderson and myself alone met him in the bush at Wheogo, and it is chiefly owing to that fact, and my previous and subsequent untiring exertions, that Gardiner has finally left the colony.³

The above hotel was Frequented by Sir Frederick Pottinger and Ben Hall
during the 1860s.

Courtesy NLA
Sir Frederick Pottinger's published official sanction
for brawling and gambling.
Despite the cloud of controversy that often shadowed him, Sir Frederick Pottinger was acknowledged for his selfless acts, particularly concerning the distribution of rewards paid to the police for apprehending bushrangers. Recognising the tireless efforts of his men, Pottinger elected to share the rewards amongst his officers, never claiming a portion for himself. His integrity in this respect was widely noted and appreciated.

Sir Frederick's sometimes abrasive tactics stirred discontent among some quarters, but they also resonated with a significant faction of citizens who yearned for a resolute and forceful hand to curb the growing menace of the bushrangers. Thus, while his methods may have raised eyebrows in some circles, they earned him a wave of support from those desperate for effective action against the escalating bushranging onslaught. His unyielding stance and commitment to his duty were recognised and respected by many in the community, who saw in Sir Frederick Pottinger a beacon of hope in these tumultuous times. 'The Courier' Brisbane:

There is nothing in the fact that he wears a title which places his official acts beyond the pale of honest and impartial criticism, but we have yet to learn that it constitutes him a butt for every bilious, ill-natured scribbler, who loves to shine in print. Fiat justitia ruet coelum ("Let justice be done though the heavens fall."). Let Sir Frederick Pottinger, like every other public man, be dealt with upon his merits. Above all, let the truth be spoken of him, and when the occasion is one of sufficient gravity, by all means employ the language of censure and condemnation, as unreservedly in his as in any other case. Persecution we detest, and have small respect for that class of scribblers who hound a man down for fashion's sake.

A correspondent also noted Pottinger's censure from the Colonial Secretary:

Mr. Cowper has caused to be written and published a very severe letter of censure to Sir Frederick Pottinger, Inspector of Police on the Lachlan, for having lately been concerned in a quarrel at a hotel. The Premier sends him a stern lecture and warns him and others to be more careful for the future. No doubt Sir F. Pottinger had no business at the hotel, and ought to avoid billiard table squabbles while in the police; but on the other hand, it is very plain that he was directly insulted, and could not well avoid pitching into the fellow who did it.⁴ 

Even as Sir Frederick Pottinger weathered the storms of controversy, it was clear that he still retained a reservoir of goodwill in certain circles. Notably, several articles surfaced expressing profound support for the beleaguered Baronet. The sympathizers recognized the immense pressure under which Pottinger functioned and celebrated his relentless commitment to law enforcement.

Moreover, despite his father's official censure of Pottinger for his perceived indiscretions, Charles Cowper Junior emerged as a staunch defender of the Inspector. Cowper Junior argued that much of the unjust ridicule directed at Pottinger was largely due to his aristocratic title, claiming that if Pottinger bore a more common name—such as "Charley," "Billy," or "Paddy"—the public criticism would be considerably lessened. In his view, Pottinger's noble lineage only amplified the public scrutiny he faced, unfairly overshadowing his tireless efforts to combat the lawlessness of the times.
Bell's Life in Sydney and Sporting Chronicle
Saturday 1st November 1862 
SIR FREDERICK POTTINGER.
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/59792056?browse=ndp%3Abrowse%2Ftitle%2FB%2Ftitle%2F57%2F1862%2F11%2F01%2Fpage%2F6052175%2Farticle%2F59792056

Indeed, Sir Frederick Pottinger's ceaseless efforts and innovative strategies in his quest to apprehend outlaws like Gardiner, Gilbert, and Hall were widely respected. Regardless of the controversy surrounding him, Pottinger's dogged determination and creativity in law enforcement were evident.

Pottinger introduced groundbreaking practices in the police force that were pivotal in the fight against bushranging. In a move that was quite novel for the era, he championed the concept of police officers adopting civilian attire while on patrol in the bush. This gave his men an element of surprise, blurring the line between the law enforcers and the general populace, thereby making it harder for the outlaws to evade capture.

Moreover, Pottinger's extensive deployment of Indigenous trackers proved to be a game-changer in the law enforcement landscape. The trackers' keen understanding of the terrain and tracking abilities provided the police with invaluable insights and, more often than not, spelled the difference between the successful apprehension of outlaws and futile pursuits. This kept the bushrangers perpetually on their toes, significantly disrupting their operations. Through these initiatives, Sir Frederick Pottinger demonstrated his firm commitment to pushing the boundaries of conventional policing in his relentless pursuit of justice:

A gamer man than Pottinger never breathed — his whole heart and soul was set on trying to get the Gardiner gang of bushrangers. He lived in a very nice residence on a hill just out of town.

Despite the swirling controversies and criticisms that often surrounded him, there was no doubt about the commitment and dedication of Sir Frederick Pottinger in the pursuit of outlaws. Pottinger was known to spend extensive periods in the saddle, enduring the harsh and unforgiving conditions of the bush for days, even weeks, at a time.

Regrettably, despite his intense efforts, Pottinger's ultimate objective—the capture of notorious outlaws Gardiner, Gilbert, Hall and their associates—eluded him. He was known to have displayed an unwavering determination in his relentless pursuit of these lawbreakers, but success, it seemed, always stayed just out of his grasp.

This struggle was acknowledged in August 1863 in the NSW Parliament, where a more nuanced view of Pottinger's character was presented. It was noted that despite the missteps and controversies associated with his name, the dedication and tenacity of Sir Frederick Pottinger in fulfilling his duties as a law enforcement officer remained unquestionable. His commitment to the pursuit of justice, often in the face of daunting challenges and harsh conditions, was a testament to his character and dedication to his role.:

Whilst at Young to enquire of respectable diggers there into what was the general character of Sir Frederick Pottinger as an officer, and he had been told that he was a most efficient officer. He was not, as some had taken upon themselves to state, deficient in courage, but, on the contrary, was universally looked upon by the diggers up there as a brave and fearless man. He might perhaps be somewhat wanting in experience, but he was certainly not wanting in courage; those who had said so would not dare to say so out of doors, and were not worthy to clean the shoes of the officer they so misrepresented. He said it fearlessly, and thought it was beneath honourable members to shelter themselves behind the walls of this House whilst they assailed the character of officers whom they should rather protect.

Artist's impression of
Sir Frederick Pottinger
on return from the
hunt for bushrangers.
c. 1928.

Courtesy NLA.
However elusive Ben Hall and his gang might have been, Sir Frederick Pottinger did not lack successes in his illustrious career as a law enforcement officer. One such achievement was the capture of James Alpin MacPherson, also known as "The Wild Scotsman".

In the latter part of 1864, MacPherson had crossed into New South Wales from Queensland. His motive was allegedly to join forces with Ben Hall and his notorious gang, whose daring exploits were being voraciously consumed in newspapers across the colonies.

Operating under the assumed name of John Bruce, MacPherson initiated his nefarious journey with a horse theft at Wowingragong. However, he found himself unable to locate Ben Hall and his gang.

Pottinger, ever vigilant and proactive in his role, seized upon the opportunity presented by MacPherson's transgressions. In a display of skill and courage, Sir Frederick not only managed to wound the elusive "Wild Scotsman" but also effected his capture, adding another feather to his cap in his ongoing battle against bushranging in New South Wales
, as reported in 'The Sydney Morning Herald', Tuesday, 3rd January 1865:

The Weddin gang are likely to have an accession to their corps in the person of the Scotch bushranger who appeared upon the scene some time ago, was wounded, and suddenly disappeared. He was seen, a few days since, in the neighborhood of Goimbla, well mounted, carrying a brightly-polished rifle, and a brace of revolvers to boot. About three hours afterwards, Sir Frederick Pottinger appeared, and, having heard of the circumstance, started in pursuit; but the fellow must have taken the bush, as he was nowhere to be found. It appears that he is now, and has for some time, been, in search of Hall, with the intention of joining him; whilst Hall is equally anxious to secure his adhesion. Both have been looking for each other from the first; but have thus far been unsuccessful. The probability, however, is that they will soon be associated.

Before too long, MacPherson found himself crossing paths with the indomitable Sir Frederick Pottinger and the New South Wales police. In the ensuing confrontation, MacPherson found himself at a distinct disadvantage, having lost his horse and ammunition. Although he initially managed to elude Pottinger on foot, he was later encircled and apprehended by the police.

MacPherson was then slapped with charges of shooting at Sir Frederick. However, these charges were subsequently dropped in the wake of Sir Frederick's untimely demise. Despite the dropping of the charges, MacPherson was not destined for freedom. He was earmarked for transportation to Rockhampton, to stand trial for his suspected involvement in an earlier robbery of a publican.

However, displaying his habitual knack for eluding the law, MacPherson managed to abscond while the steamer carrying him was anchored at Mackay. In an audacious display that was nothing short of a mockery of the law enforcement authorities, MacPherson left behind his leg-irons nailed to a tree, with a note attached to them. The scene was later described in "The life and adventures of the Wild Scotchman" by P.W. McNally.
:

Presented to the Queensland Government with the Wild Scotchman’s best thanks, that gentleman having no further use for them, the articles being found to be rather cumbersome to transit in this age of enlightenment and progress – the 19th century – Many thanks ; adieu.

Furthermore, in early January 1865, hoping to lure Hall, Gilbert and Dunn into the open at a local Forbes horse race, Pottinger rode in the Wowingragong horse races in breach of police regulations:

At the same meeting, there was a race called the Ladies' Bag, for amateur riders, welter weight for age. Sir Frederick Pottinger rode his own horse in the race. Knowing the bushrangers were in the vicinity in the scrub, the police galloped on the inside of the track while the race was on. They were afraid the bushrangers would dart out and cut Sir Frederick off. Through riding in that race Sir Frederick Pottinger was recalled to Sydney, and was nearly dismissed. His chiefs considered that he would have been better employed following the bushrangers than riding in races.⁷ 

Sir Frederick Pottinger's oversight proved to be the opening his detractors in the government had been waiting for. Without missing a beat, he was promptly dismissed from the New South Wales police force on the 16th of February, 1865.

The abrupt termination of Sir Frederick's services, however, didn't go unnoticed by the local populace of Forbes. A wave of outrage swept through the community, leading to a significant show of support for the dismissed inspector. The residents rallied, organising protest meetings against his dismissal on the local diggings, while neighboring towns drafted and sent petitions calling for his immediate reappointment.

The overwhelming response was a true testament to the esteem and trust that Sir Frederick Pottinger had managed to earn from the people of the Central West during his tenure as a police officer. Despite his perceived flaws and the numerous controversies that seemed to follow him, it was clear that many regarded him as an indispensable bulwark against the prevailing lawlessness of the time
:

Great interest is felt here in the case of Sir Frederick Pottinger. An appeal has been signed by about three hundred inhabitants of this district to the Colonial Secretary, on behalf of Sir. F. Pottinger, expressing confidence in him, and praying for a full inquiry into the circumstances.

Despite the spirited insistence from Forbes and the surrounding communities, their efforts to lobby the colonial government fell on deaf ears. Feeling disregarded, Sir Frederick decided to take matters into his own hands, making his way to Sydney in an attempt to seek personal redress.

However, on the 5th of March, 1865, a tragic accident befell him. Sir Frederick Pottinger was trying to board a moving coach at Wascoe's Inn, nestled in the Blue Mountains, when he inadvertently shot himself in the upper abdomen. News of the incident spread rapidly, and it was reported that
:

Sir Frederick Pottinger shot at Wascoe's inn, while travelling towards Sydney, by the accidental discharge of a pistol which he carried in his breast.

First report of Sir Frederick's Accident.
The actual c. 1860 English made Tipping and Lawden American Christain Sharpes patent four-barrel.30 calibre breech-loading pistol issued to Sir Frederick and with which he suffered his fatal wound.
(Photo reproduced from Edgar Penzig's book Definitive Illustrated History of Ben Hall©)
Photograph of the first Pilgrim Inn built by Barnett Levey at Blaxland in 1826. Destroyed by bushfire in 1968. Photograph dated 1927. Frank Walker 1861-1948
The main building of the first Pilgrim Inn at Blaxland. Dated 1927. Frank Walker 1861-1948
The Pilgrim Inn, Blaxland, built in 1826. In later years the house was occupied by Mr John Outrim Wascoe. The building was utilised as both a hotel and a boarding house.
Petitions calling for Pottinger's reinstatement 
Following the unfortunate accident, Sir Frederick showed remarkable resilience, recovering sufficiently to be transferred from the Blue Mountains to the Victoria Club in Sydney, where he was regarded as a valued member. For a brief period, it seemed as though Sir Frederick would pull through, his condition demonstrating signs of steady improvement.

However, in a cruel twist of fate, he abruptly suffered a relapse. On the 9th of April, 1865, Sir Frederick Pottinger passed away, leaving no will, a legal status referred to as "intestate". His passing coincided with a historic day - the same day saw Robert E. Lee surrender the last significant Confederate army to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia. It was also the day when the infamous 'Mad Dog' Morgan, a terror in southern NSW, was shot dead at Peechelba Station in Victoria.

News of Sir Frederick's death was conveyed in somber tones, echoing the loss of a dedicated officer and the end of a tumultuous era in the annals of law enforcement in New South Wales

Sir Frederick Pottinger died at the Victoria Club, from the effects of injuries received by the accidental discharge of a pistol, which he carried in his breast.¹⁰ 

The Victoria Club ceased to exist in 1872, Mr W. H. Cattell being the secretary at the time. The building was then occupied by the officers of the NSW Department of Audit.
The Victoria Club, 136 Castlereagh Street, Sydney c. 1870. The Victoria Club ceased to exist in 1872.
Authors Note: My Great, Great Grandfather on my Mother's side served and fought during the American Civil War with the Union Army; GROUNDS, ALGERNON. —Age, 24 years. Enlisted March 30, 1863, at New York; mustered in as private, Company B, March 30, 1863, to serve three years; wounded in action at Trevillian Station, Va., June 12, 1864; transferred, July or August 1864, to Company M; transferred, February 27, 1865, to Company B, Ninth N. Y. Cav. I am told he was at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, on April 9th, 1865, for the surrender of General Lee's forces and was a part of Gen Custer's regiment. He returned to Australia and was a Chemist in Victoria and NSW.

Sir Frederick Pottinger was buried at St Jude's Anglican Church, Randwick, where his close friends and agitators attended. (See Article Below.)
Sir Frederick's Obituary, Bells Life and Sporting Chronicle
15th April 1865.
Memorial Card in honour of Sir Frederick Pottinger, 10th April 1865. Discovered with Constable Hollister's effects.
St. Judes Church, Randwick with Parsonage at left. c. 1873. 



SACRED
To the memory of
SIR FREDERICK WILLIAM POTTINGER
-Baronet,
Formerly of the Grenadier Guards,
and for many years a zealous and active
Officer of Police in New South Wales.
Born 27th April, 1831-Died 9th April 1865. 
This monument is erected by his friends
in the Colony.
Sir Frederick Pottinger's grave St Judes Anglican Church, Randwick, Sydney, NSW.
The broken column indicates a life cut short. (My Photo.)
Sir Frederick Pottinger


William 'Billy' Dargin (Dargan) NSW Police Black Tracker.

NSW Police Tracker.
c. 1800s
Born circa 1841 at Windsor, New South Wales, William 'Billy' Dargin was of the Dharug people. The indigenous Aboriginal group residing in the fertile lands surrounding the Hawkesbury River. The area became a significant colonial settlement established around 1791. The English name 'Dargin' could potentially be linked to William Dargin, a colonially-born settler who lived in the same locale. Born in 1806, the elder Dargin was a well-known figure in the community, a landholder, and an Inn Keeper. His licenses included the 'Barrosa Tavern' and the 'Emu Hotel'. William Dargin passed away on March 19, 1875, and was buried at Rouse Hill in Parramatta.

An intriguing speculation involves the relationship between the younger and older Dargin. Despite the elder William's marriage to Eliza Byrne and having children of their own, it was noted that he spent considerable time away from his domestic life. He often lived among the indigenous people of the Hawkesbury area for extended periods, sometimes spanning several years. This prolonged and intimate interaction with the Dharug people raises the intriguing possibility that the elder Dargin could be the father of Billy Dargin.

William Dargin, who was last seen alive by both those witnesses on the 19th May, 1873, on which date he left the residence of Needham with a small bundle of clothing with the intention, as he said, of going up the Hunter by Wiseman's Ferry. Since that date no tidings have been received of the deceased, which however caused little or no anxiety to his relatives, as the deceased had been in the habit of staying away for years at a time without writing.¹

While the exact details of his early life remain uncertain, including whether Billy Dargin possessed a tribal name, some conjecture can be drawn from his locality, surname, and shared habitation with the elder Dargin. However, this possible familial relationship between Billy and the elder Dargin today remains unrecorded, thus serving as a speculative notion rather than a confirmed fact.

Despite this uncertainty, it's significant to highlight the prevalent practices of the early colonial period, which saw local settlers frequently providing care, education, and religious instruction to children of mixed Aboriginal and European descent. Therefore Billy from his recorded understanding of English and Christian influences point the probability of his mixed ancestry. In light of that, children, often the offspring of relationships between settlers and Indigenous women, were commonly taken under the wing of their European fathers or other local settlers. This period of Australian history is marked by such informal foster relationships, painting a possible picture of the circumstances that could have shaped Billy Dargin's upbringing

Children c. 1860.
Nevertheless, the colonial period was not free of significant conflicts and injustices in the coexistence of both peoples. The roots of which are far too intricate and multifaceted to fully explore in this context. 
 
A historical expose from 1863 sheds light on the perceptions of the Indigenous people living within European settlements during that period. A number of accounts reveals a fascinating perspective - many Sydney-based Aboriginal people saw the Europeans, convicts included, as self-enslaved individuals rather than invaders. Intriguingly, it was also noted that Indigenous people often regarded white Australians born (First Fleet born were know as Currency lads and lasses) on their native soil as kin or 'brothers'. This nuanced relationship between the Aboriginal people and the white born settlers, is chronicled in 'The Sydney Morning Herald' on 22nd September 1863. It offers an unconventional view of the colonial period, underlining the complex interplay between cultures during this pivotal period in Australian history. Except from A VOICE FROM THE COUNTRY:

The aborigines appear to pity the Europeans, as persons under self-imposed slavery to toil, holding themselves as quite their superiors. The difference of employer and employee they appreciate, and distinctions of Australian born, or otherwise "You brudder of mine, all same as me, native," is a high mark of esteem.

It's essential to acknowledge that Billy's upbringing appears to have been one of relative comfort and care. He received a robust education and his well-being was given due attention during his formative years. Impressively, he developed a strong command of the English language, speaking it with fluency. This aspect of his upbringing underscores the interweaving of cultures that defined his early life.

The arrival of Rev Styles and his wife in 1833.
 Note, that the Agent for the ship is
 Ben Hall's fathers Master, Mr A.B. Sparke.
Rev. Styles c. 1840
Much like many children of Aboriginal descent in that era, Billy was introduced into the Christian faith. It is documented that he was baptized around 1850 when he was approximately eight years old. His baptism was conducted by Reverend Henry Styles, the minister at St. Matthew's Church in Windsor. The church, was designed and built by Francis Greenway in 1817, held a significant spiritual presence in the Windsor community.

Reverend Styles, a compassionate and dedicated clergyman, arrived in the Colony of New South Wales in 1833 aboard the 'Warrior', accompanied by his wife. He first served as the assistant curate at St Matthew's Church of England in Windsor, later becoming the Master of the Parramatta Orphan School.

While there is speculation that Dargin may have originated from the Bogan District, evidence suggests otherwise. In March 1863, Dargin himself confirmed his roots in Windsor. He declared, "I was employed in the police force. I am twenty years of age, and was baptized twelve years ago at Windsor, by the Rev. Mr. Styles." This statement clearly places his origins and early life in Windsor, effectively ending the Bogan District claims.


Traditional Fishing
c. 1800's.
Sadly, records of Billy's early life prior to his service in the New South Wales police as a tracker are non-existent. However, it's important to note that regardless of whether he was of full-blooded Aboriginal descent or mixed heritage, it does not diminish the honour and significance of his police work. Billy was a dedicated police tracker, whose loyalty and reliability earned him widespread admiration.

As time went on, this loyalty became increasingly apparent. Despite facing harassment from other former trackers for reasons unknown, possibly his grasp of English and dedication Billy remained steadfast in his commitment to his role and duty. His dignified approach to the trials he faced underscores the respect and acclaim he earned throughout his short career.

"Billy Dargan and John Watkins were the only two trackers who proved themselves faithful, and they were marked as traitors. Watkins was severely wounded in the wrist from a bullet probably fired by John Clarke. He dropped his rifle, and the wound bled profusely. It had to be amputated."³

Before his tenure with the police. Billy likely spent his time immersed in the traditions and bush-craft teachings of the Dharug people, lessons which would later form the foundation of his livelihood.

The abundant surroundings of the Hawkesbury River served as the ideal environment for young Billy to become a proficient hunter and fisherman, essential skills in the Aboriginal culture. The trove of knowledge and experiences he gained during this time would become invaluable in his future police career.

A.L. Haydon, in his work 'The Trooper Police of Australia,' provides a glimpse into the specialized skills of police trackers, skills that Billy would have honed during these early years. The rich traditions and practical teachings of the Dharug people formed the foundation of Billy's skills, which he would later put to excellent use during his tenure with the police.

By constant practice from childhood upwards, and the aid of an eyesight that is the keenest of any savage people in the world, he learns to read the story of a bush track as none other can read it.
 
The schooling of an aboriginal in this respect begins very early. As a child he is set to play games in which animals and birds are the principal figures. Footprints of various creatures are drawn by him in the sand, seemingly for amusement, but actually as part of his education. Later on he is taken in hand by the man whom he accompanies into the bush, learning each day something that quickens his intelligence. Nor is it only the boys who thus develop this power. The native girls and women are often quite as good at the game. Where the ordinary observer's eye cannot see anything out of the common an aboriginal will read a whole page of facts.

They literally stare him in the face. A dislodged stone, a turned leaf, a broken twig, a few grains of sand left on a patch of rock all tell him something about what has passed that way. From a horse's hoofmarks he will tell you both the size of the animal and the time that has elapsed since the impressions were made. By the way a hole is dug of a tree notched he will probably tell you what tribe the man belongs to who did the act. A tracker has even been known to say that the man (a complete stranger to him) whose trail he was following was knock-kneed, and he proved to be right.

The Hawkesbury region, which had been home to the Dharug Aboriginals for many a millennia was a complex web of varying tribal entities. Often ready to confront to the death each other. Each tribe was led by their own leader and often numbered some twenty of thirty people. Within the district of their wanderings they were always on guard against others as women were often the target of stealing. The tribes women practiced infanticide due to the loss of interest from the elders and jealousy. The reach of the Dharug tribes extended to encompass the broader areas of Port Jackson, Broken Bay, and the Blue Mountains. Historical records show that despite living within the borders of major settlements, these tribes held steadfastly to their traditional ways.

Coexistence and occasional social gatherings, such as Corroborees, brought the local tribes from diverse regions, from Hawkesbury to Shoalhaven, together. Despite the influences of European settlers, the nomadic lifestyle remained deeply ingrained in all Australian tribes. The concept of land ownership was subjective, and territorial disputes often erupted into bloody conflicts.

This lifestyle, albeit harsh by today's standards, was documented in an excerpt from 'The Sydney Morning Herald' published on Tuesday 22nd September 1863, under the title "A Voice from the Country." The article provides a glimpse into the often brutal reality of Aboriginal life in Australia during this period. It was also noted that those of mixed decent were often outcast or shunned by the tribal peoples in some quarters. How this facet may have affected Billy is unknown but amongst the full blood trackers sentiment appears to be that Billy was ostrisied at Forbes.

Their personal appearance is very similar, although the dialects of different tribes vary considerably, they are usually short, particularly the woman, slender and active, with dark - but not African black skins. Black hair, frequently curling, never woolly, or straight, and large beautiful eyes; the nose is broad and spread at the nostrils, the point compressed towards the lip; the lips thick and prominent, mouth wide; the teeth a fine white.

The habits of these races were wandering; they lived by the chase, having no idea of cultivating the soil, and it is a noteworthy fact that the Allwise has implanted no indigenous cereal, excepting grasses, in this wide region, which commands so vast a difference of climate end soil. Nor have we roots to take the place of the taro, sweet potato, and yam of the South Sea Islands. Thus, while the American Indian tills his maize, the African his rice, and the inhabitants of the Pacific these esculent tubers, the Australian tribes seemed destined for a race of hunters - hence wanderers. To the European was reserved the developing these sources of wealth and plenty.

That a people, whose lives are bound by no tie to particular localities, should display the habits of this people, we might reasonably expect; yet these movements were circumscribed, as any infringement on neighbouring territories was fatal in its results.

Their dwellings were of a description most readily constructed, soon dilapidated, and forsaken without regret. Sometimes a sheet of bark supported on end in an inclined position by a small pole, at others, a few branches placed round a triangle, formed by partially severing a sapling so as to bend both ends to the ground, and supported in the middle by a sloping forked stick, were the materials almost always employed, but occasionally these were rendered more comfortable, and impervious to wind and rain, by being built over with grass.

As the tribe travelled together, or in parties of several families, a number of these gunyahs might sometimes be seen near each other, yet each was so arranged that its open side was turned from its neighbours. On one occasion, when the remnants of three different friendly tribes had assembled for a grand corroboree or dance.

Alexander Riley. Pictured
on the 
right C. 1970s

Courtesy Pathfinders.
Alex Riley, a highly respected police tracker of the turn of the century, led a career that stretched over four decades with the NSW police. He made his mark in June 1923 when he spearheaded the tracking effort that resulted in the capture of Jimmy Governor, the youngest brother of Roy Governor, at Mendooran, north of Dubbo, NSW.

Riley attributed his finely honed tracking skills to his early life on the mission stations. There, he learned and perfected his craft, an intricate art passed down through generations, which eventually became pivotal in his pursuit of law enforcement. He held immense pride in his ability to read and interpret the subtle signs of nature, a talent that would prove to be invaluable in his tracking endeavors. The way Riley spoke of these skills offered a glimpse into the depth of his knowledge and the mastery of tracking that would have been unchanged since the efforts of Billy Dragin
:

Credit for any skill I have as a tracker goes to a tribe of full-blooded blacks who roamed the bush near Condobolin 60 years ago. We lived at the Mission Station, but I liked to hunt with the full bloods. When I was eight years of age they started to teach me how to track. They first showed me how to recognise the hoofs of police horses—by the way they were shod. They always knew when a trooper was in the locality.

Undoubtedly, Billy Dargin, too, would have mastered the art of tracking during his formative years, learning to interpret the signs left behind by his quarry. His upbringing within the Dharug community, one deeply intertwined with nature would have provided him with the foundational skills needed to hunt not only prey but ultimately, man. Knowledge, acquired and honed over years of observation and practice, proved pivotal in his role as a police tracker.

Contemporary illustration
of a tracker's employment.
It's plausible that Billy Dargin's entry into the tracker force was facilitated by relationships he forged with other Aboriginal trackers already serving in the New South Wales police force, particularly in the Central West. The compensation offered to Aboriginal trackers during the 1860s, consisted of a daily wage of 2 shillings and 6 pence, along with potential rewards for capturing bushrangers. For prospective trackers it must have presented a compelling opportunity.

At the time of Billy's entry into police employment, four other trackers were stationed at Forbes under the newly appointed inspector, Sir Frederick Pottinger: Pilot, Jacky, Hastings, and Charlie Edwards, better known as Prince Charlie. Notably, Billy was an excellent horseman. Despite having been unfamiliar with horses until the arrival of Europeans, Aboriginal people demonstrated an extraordinary aptitude for riding. Their skills were invaluable in deciphering the signs left by those pursued.

In some instances, the trackers even had an uncanny ability to distinguish truth from deception in their police work. They were often presented with victims' stories and, with an uncanny knack, they could discern a falsehood when they encountered one.

Whether they could not or would not continue the track, I cannot say. I have known a black tracker to track a barefooted child through the bush in a dry season; but in this case, as is well known to all, we have had any quantity of rain for the last two months, which must have made the tracks plain to the tracker if he liked to persevere; but it appears this case was treated rather a cooly on account, I presume, of there being no money lost; and the tracker, it appears, was heard to remark that King was not stuck up — that it was only a made up yarn of his.

It's likely that Dargin, like many of his contemporaries, ventured from his native Windsor to work as a stockman in the Lachlan or even further afield in the Bogan region. The demand for stockmen had surged due to many workers rushing to newly discovered goldfields in 1860 at Lambing Flat and later, Forbes.

Sir Frederick Pottinger, the officer in charge of the Lachlan district, recognised Dargin's potential and recruited him into his command sometime in c. 1861. Pottinger was a strong advocate for the trackers, appreciating their unique skills in pursuing the rising tide of bushranging across the Western Plains. In the coming years, Pottinger, along with his officers and constables, would rely
heavily on their trackers' expertise.

Trackers at that time earned approximately £3 17s 6d per month (or around $336.00 per month in today's terms), whereas a NSW trooper earned 5s 6d a day. The workload of a tracker was varied, encompassing tasks from tending to police horses, maintaining saddles their weapons and general equipment, patrolling the bush and even engaging in gunfights with bushrangers.

The trackers living conditions also varied widely, from residing in police stables to rudimentary shacks close to the police camp, ensuring their availability in times of emergency. Trackers were often outfitted with a constable's uniform, or when on bush patrol, they dressed similarly to the police in bush clothing, a practice introduced by Sir Frederick Pottinger.

Interestingly, tracking was not exclusive to men. Young girls, possessing skills comparable to their male counterparts, were also employed by the police. Their tasks included locating individuals, whether they be criminals, individuals lost in the wilderness, or tracking down stray livestock. A particular instance of a young girl's exceptional skills is worthy of attention. This young girl, known as Mayella or "Kitty" to some, was highlighted by a former district officer:

Quite the smartest tracker I ever had," he said, "was a young gin, and she was deaf and dumb. These defects may have intensified her other faculties; I should think they did so, as she could follow up a trail with unerring certainty. Her father was a good tracker in his time, but he went blind and had to drop out. The girl worked with him at first and picked up a lot from the old man. I've known that gin to find a horse that had strayed after several others had tried and failed."

"Her best performance happened when I was a trooper up in the Brewarrina district. A child a boy of nine went out with some others into the bush for a picnic. Towards the end of the afternoon he wandered off by himself and got too far. They 'cooeeyed' for him, but didn't receive any answer. If he was within hearing distance he was probably too badly frightened to shout back. Any way, he just went on and on as any one will who gets bushed; and it's wonderful the distance even a child can travel in the circumstances."

"The bush in this part was particularly bad. It was thick, heavily timbered with gums and ironbark's. When we were called out to join in the search early the next morning, I took the gin, Mayella, with me. There were a lot of people out in various directions, but she soon picked up a trail and went off on her own. She was riding a small brown horse, sitting astride as native girls do, while I was on my mare. After the trail had taken us a few miles, I lost sight of it entirely. How Kitty (that was our own name for her) could follow it beat me. But she was a wonder! Then we came to a place where it stopped dead. Kitty got down and went on her hands and knees examining the bushes and grass minutely, and shaking her head with the little moaning noise she used to make when troubled."

"You're stumped, old girl,' I said to myself. It wasn't any good speaking to her, you see.

"But I was wrong. When she jumped on her horse again she turned him sharp off to the left, through some longish grass. And away off to that side, about forty yards from where we had stopped, she picked up a fresh track. Ten minutes later we found the little chap lying under a tree asleep. He had been travelling round about a good part of the night and was fairly tuckered out. (Source: The Trooper Police of Australia; A L Haydon. See Source page for full book.)

Much loved Tracker
"Tommy" of

Broken Hill
c. 1900.
Contrary to popular belief, not all trackers and Indigenous Australians lacked formal education. A case in point is Billy Dargin, whose grasp of right and wrong, as well as his personal convictions was noted by a newspaper correspondent covering the trial of Patsy Daley in March 1863. This understanding and moral grounding likely stems from his early education under Rev. Styles.

Sir Frederick would ask the Bench to hear his evidence.-The black tracker was then called, and being asked the nature of an oath, replied, that he believed in another world, and that he would be punished if he told a lie; In answer to another question, however, he could not exactly describe the meaning of an oath, although he had heard of the Testament and believed in telling the truth.

Billy Dargin's linguistic abilities were held in high regard, distinguishing him from his contemporaries. His fluency in English and his articulate delivery made him an exception among his peers, demonstrating a level of intelligence and educational attainment that stood out in his class.

To all of which questions Billy answered with an intelligence and straightforwardness quite surprising, and in excellent English.

Another observer wrote:

A good deal of cross-examination followed, and Billy answered all the questions put to him with an amount of intelligence quite surprising.

Extract from Hollister
Diary April 1863.

Courtesy RAHS.
Throughout history, the courage of some trackers, including Billy Dargin, has been scrutinised and questioned even ridiculed. Yet, it's crucial to acknowledge that young Billy stood shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the most respected leaders of the NSW police. On more than one occasion, he demonstrated bravery that was at least equal to, if not surpassing, many other NSW troopers. These same troopers occasionally hesitated when faced with the daunting task of confronting the bushrangers, whereas Billy showed no signs of wavering.
 
Historical records indicate that Billy Dargin earned significant respect for his work as a tracker from his colleagues and superior officers. One such individual was Inspector Davidson, who took over from Pottinger at Forbes. In particular, he commended Dargin for his remarkable efforts leading to the demise of Ben Hall.

The coolness, courage and determination of the tracker Billy Dargin is worthy of some substantial reward and the greatest praise is due to him.

Billy Dargin rode alongside respected Inspectors and constables of the NSW police service. His colleagues, many of whom ascended to the highest ranks, largely due to the successes brought about by the unique skills of police trackers like Dargin, included esteemed officers like Inspector Sir Frederick Pottinger, a pioneer in employing trackers specifically for tracking down bushrangers and uncovering their hideouts. Other noteworthy officers include Inspector Sanderson, Inspector Davidson, Captain Battye, Inspector Norton, Superintendent Morrissett, and Sergeant Condell. Dargin also worked closely with mounted constables like Trooper Hollister, and it was in their company that he earned a well-deserved reputation and respect for his tracking abilities.

Police Tracker Sam Hall in
mounted uniform
with, horse.
b. 1845 - d. 1909.

Courtesy State Library of. NSW.
As an Aboriginal police tracker, William Dargin proved his mettle not just through his unparalleled tracking skills but also through his character. While on duty in the unforgiving Australian bush in pursuit of bushrangers, Dargin, like his peers, withstood arduous treks through the thick scrub. This harsh environment served as a crucible, revealing much about a man's companionship, attitude, humor, commitment, and loyalty. Together, these men carried out their tasks, their focus on the mission cutting through any potential prejudice or animosity. Dargin, through his hard work and dedication, exemplified these qualities, earning the respect and camaraderie of his fellow mounted troopers.

Billy Dargin was not merely a part of the team; he was an integral element. As troopers, they had to endure all sorts of weather, traversing harsh, inhospitable terrains, and at times braving freezing conditions often without a fire. Their shared experiences extended to sleeping and eating together in impromptu camps during their relentless pursuit of bushrangers. These trials forged bonds among them, solidifying their collective spirit and camaraderie. Their shared adversity under the most challenging conditions underlined Billy's value as an essential member of the team.

I can safely assert that for some weeks past almost their whole time has been spent in the bush and saddle, and I'm sure I need not inform the contented and comparatively luxurious citizens of Sydney that eight or ten consecutive nights in the wilder and colder parts of the Weddin and Abercrombie Mountains, with nothing but a saddle for a pillow, and the stars and sky for a quilt or counterpane, is not so very pleasant after all.¹⁰

Sir Frederick
 Pottinger.
The police's tireless efforts, including Sir Frederick Pottinger, were earmarked in a letter to the Colonial Secretary in 1863. Demonstrating the demanding work being carried out by the police, including Pottinger himself supported by the trackers:

I have myself 'bushed out' with parties for fifteen and twenty days consecutively, the men subsisting solely on the 'rations' with them, and the horses on grass feed. "The Lachlan district, from having been one of the most disorderly, has become one of the quietest in the colony.

Pottinger continues: 

From the 15th of June to the 1st of December, 1862, I slept out in the bush ninety-three nights, and I am prepared to show that I have (by the universal admission of all my men), done more bush duty than any officer or constable in the colony.¹¹

Billy Dargin found himself squarely in the thick of things, as the audacious bushrangers—Frank Gardiner, Johnny Gilbert, Johnny O'Meally, Ben Hall and their cohorts—repeatedly terrorised the Western District settlements in the early 1860s. The heightened bushranging activities initiated an era where the employment of black trackers was on the rise, and by early 1863, they were being used extensively across New South Wales. However, the scope of their work extended beyond police services. Explorers like Burke and Will's, whose ill-fated expedition led to their tragic death from starvation, had employed trackers too, although tragically they abandoned their tracker before their unfortunate demise. Trackers were even sought out by desperate parents in search of their wayward daughters who had absconded for an ill fated love. In every sphere, the unique skills of trackers like Billy Dargin were being increasingly recognised and utilised.

On last Friday afternoon (says the Tenterfield paper) a man about 35 years of age and a girl about 17 (the latter riding on a man's saddle) arrived in town, and stayed for two or three hours at the Tenterfield Hotel the landlord judging that a female ought not to travel in the night, and at the same time imagining that she was either the wife or daughter of the man who accompanied her they mounted their heavily-swagged horses and soon disappeared in the twilight. Unconsciousness of the near approach of the paternal avenger, whose foaming steed meanwhile travelled with an impetuosity far behind that of the rider's will. The unhappy parent, accompanied by a black tracker, arrived in town at daylight the following morning, and having made some inquiries concerning the runaways, at the same time exhibiting a loaded pistol with which he vowed to shoot the man, he was informed that they had passed through the town on the previous night, whereupon he went off in hot pursuit and startled the guilty pair while breakfasting about four miles from town. The man was shot in the knee.¹²

At Work
In June 1862, a brazen act of thievery ignited the entire colony of New South Wales if not the country as a whole with astonishment and alarm. The Forbes Gold Escort was assaulted at Eugowra by the notorious Frank Gardiner and his accomplices, including Gilbert, O'Meally, and Ben Hall. This audacious robbery was executed with chilling precision, leaving the authorities scrambling to react.

Upon receiving news of the attack, Inspector Pottinger quickly mobilized all available troopers, enlisting the aid of his reliable trackers, Billy Dargin and Charlie. They reached the site of the robbery within hours, and Billy was promptly tasked with deciphering the robbers' trail.

The gang's retreat path was swiftly uncovered, setting the stage for the police to embark on a chase with the hope of apprehending the culprits. However, the weather proved uncooperative. Rain washed over the district, obscuring the tracks and forcing Pottinger to divide his team to cover more ground.

Frank Gardiner himself was acutely aware of the formidable tracking skills of Billy and Charlie. He held a healthy fear of the trackers, a sentiment he valued more than his fear of the police. During the gang's flight from Eugowra, he advised Daniel Charters, "Go as crooked as you can so as to bother the trackers."

In the aftermath of the gold escort attack, newspapers were eager to report on the latest developments. With each report that surged along the telegraph lines, the press awaited up-to-date information, anxious to share it with their readers. By 18th June 1862, articles began to surface, offering brief and somewhat distorted accounts of the robbery. Yet amid the confusion and speculation, one thing was clear – the trackers' dedicated pursuit of the criminals was garnering recognition and praise.

About six o'clock yesterday morning Sir F. Pottinger, with eleven troopers, twenty settlers, and two trackers, got on the track of the bushrangers. About three miles from the coach they found, near a campfire, the gold boxes, which had been opened.¹³

In such demanding circumstances, it was the invaluable skills of Billy and his fellow tracker that truly shone. Their ability to navigate complex terrains and decipher cryptic trails was instrumental in the relentless pursuit of the bushrangers.

Tracker Jack Cave
in Mounted
Police uniform.
b. 1865 - d. 1950's

Courtesy Blayney Library.
News of the chase spread across the colony. The Colonial Secretary chimed in, emphasizing how crucial the Aboriginal trackers were to Sir F. Pottinger's party. Their relentless tracking skills brought the police within sight of the bushrangers' camp, located at the summit of Wheogo Hill, merely a stone's throw from Ben Hall's home, just days after the robbery.

Sgt. Sanderson, leading the troopers with the aid of another tracker named Hastings, spotted a rider fleeing from Hall's home. Seeing this, they immediately set off on the trail. Sgt. Sanderson later narrated the thrilling chase and the pivotal role of the trackers in their pursuit of the bushrangers.

I went to Hall's house; I wanted to see one of the Hall's; he was not in; I went on towards McGuire’s house; as I went I saw a horseman coming towards me from the Wheoga Mountains, in the direction of Hall's or McGuire’s house; when he caught sight of me he turned round and bolted into the mountains; I followed him with my party; by the aid of our black tracker we got on the tracks; we followed him by roundabout course up to the top of the Wheogo Mountain; the top of the mountain was about a mile and a half from McGuire’s place; at the top of the mountain I found the remnants of a camp.

Sanderson continued:

I found the top of the hill very stony, and consequently very difficult to keep the track; we lost it for a time; in about a quarter of an hour it was found by the black tracker, and we proceeded on it a distance of about twenty or twenty-six miles, through a dense scrub; the black tracker rode a white horse; as far as I could judge the man who evaded me at the foot of the Wheogo Mountain rode a bright bay horse; we found the track of several horses; I could not say how many; one of them was shod; we followed in these tracks about twenty-five miles; when we came upon a shod horse with a pack on his back; the pack contained a bag with 1239 ounces of gold.¹⁴

Inspector Sanderson
c. 1896
Despite the demanding chase, victory was soon within reach for the embattled NSW police. In a moment of panic, Gardiner abandoned a pack-horse carrying a portion of the stolen goods, which fell into the hands of the pursuing officers. This unexpected boon proved to be a significant breakthrough in the case, much to the elation of the police.

The news spread rapidly to Forbes, where the townsfolk had been anxiously following the developments. Their worry transformed into jubilation upon hearing of the retrieval of part of the stolen goods. This triumph provided a glimmer of hope in their ongoing struggle against the audacious bushrangers, a reason to celebrate amid the tension and apprehension.
 
June 22nd 1862: Senior Sergeant Sanderson returned to Forbes yesterday with half the gold taken from the escort on the 13th instant. It appears that when near Wheogo, Sanderson's party saw a man at a distance riding towards them, who, when he saw the police, at once turned and rode back full gallop. The police followed on his track and ran him to the top of a high mountain, from which four others had just decamped. Hastings, a black tracker, being with the police, they were enabled to follow on their tracks for twenty miles; and the bushrangers, finding themselves so hotly pursued, let their packhorse go, and on him was found about 1600 ounces of gold, the police cloak, and the two Terry's breech-loading carbines, which had been stolen from the escort coach. Sanderson's horses being quite knocked up, the party were compelled to return. Sir Frederick Pottinger's party have not yet returned since they first started in pursuit.¹⁵

"The black tracker"
George Rossi Ashton, 1881.

 number: A/S18/06/81/SUPP
Courtesy State Library of Victoria 
Sgt. Sanderson's triumphant return with the recovered gold sparked a wave of celebration, particularly noteworthy was the joy expressed by tracker Hastings. Despite a taxing and prolonged time in the saddle, the recovery of the stolen goods brought a new sense of purpose and satisfaction.

The sight of the diligent tracker, elated in the face of success, was a testament to the unyielding spirit and skill of those tasked with bringing the bushrangers to justice. The joy and pride radiating from Hastings served as a poignant reminder of the value and importance of their tireless efforts.

On the arrival of the little band with the treasure-viz., a pack horse carrying about 1600 z° of gold, two rifles and a trooper's coat, they were loudly cheered, and surrounded by some 3000 people, eager to learn the news and see how affairs stood. The horses and men appeared knocked-up, the blackfellow who had served as tracker appearing the least fatigued, to judge by his self satisfied and merry countenance.¹⁶

The recovery of the gold marked a significant milestone in the investigation of the Escort robbery. The success underscored the vital role of the trackers in the efforts of the NSW Police, particularly in the western districts. The use of trackers was no longer a mere strategy; it had become indispensable to the success or failure of the police operations.

For the bushrangers, this relentless pursuit was a thorn in their side. The constant pressure exerted by the trackers meant that they could no longer afford the luxury of relaxation at their makeshift camps. Their every move was scrutinized, every trail followed. The relentless shadow of the trackers forced them to remain vigilant at all times.

Even the fearless John Gilbert expressed his concern over the prowess of the trackers. He was forced to acknowledge the growing threat the trackers posed, their relentless pursuit, and their unwavering dedication to justice, which had struck fear into the heart of even the most daring bushranger.

I'm not afraid of the police" said Gilbert, "it's those bloody black hell-hounds of trackers that we have to fear-they pick up tracks and follow them so devilish quick.¹⁷

Indeed, Gilbert's apprehension towards the trackers was not unfounded. Both he and Ben Hall had experienced several close encounters that had heightened their respect and fear for these relentless pursuers.

One such incident occurred on 7th February 1863. The Pinnacle property, owned by the sister of escort robber and informer Daniel Charters, Margaret Feheeily, had recently seen the establishment of a new police station. Ben Hall and Patsy Daley, notorious bushrangers operating on the fringes, seized an opportunity to rob the station while it was unattended. The purpose of this daring raid was to procure weapons, following their earlier raid on Meyers Solomons store at Lambing Flat on 2nd February.

In charge of the station, Constable Knox managed to trail the bushrangers for three miles north to Allport's shanty, situated close to the Pinnacle Station. As Hall and Daley departed from Allport's, they were spotted by Billy Dargin. Accompanied by Trooper Hollister and another tracker, Prince Charlie, they set off in pursuit of the criminals.

In his diary, Hollister documented the details of the theft and their pursuit of Hall and Daley. His entry for Saturday, 7th February 1863, provided an insightful record of the events, showcasing the keen observation skills and tenacity of the trackers in their pursuit of justice.

On Saturday 7th instant the Pinnacle barracks were broken into and robbed of one rifle one carbine 10 rounds of rifle ammunition one pouch and bridle one pair of saddle bags belt one gunnysack one flask of powder two pair of handcuffs two Crimean shirts &c. Ben Hall was tracked from the barracks to Uar by constable Knox." Diary entry Sunday 8th February 1863;"With Dargin (Tracker) from this station to Uar from Uar to Pinnacle reefs from reefs to this station. Myself and Dargin from Forbes met constable Knox at Uar and took up the tracks and ran them for about 12 miles and came upon Ben Hall and Patsy Daly within about 3 miles of the Pinnacle reefs and chased them about one mile when my horse ran me against a tree Daly tried to shoot one of the Black Trackers. McFenns black fellow was with me through me getting the fall Hall and Daly escaped came to Pinnacle Police Station. When I met Knox, I sent him back to this station.¹⁸

Hollister was certain that the perpetrators were Ben Hall and Patsy Daley. His certainty and diligence, coupled with the evidence at hand, played a significant role in the subsequent investigation. However, the fallout from the Pinnacle robbery led to the unfortunate dismissal of Constable Knox from the NSW police force.

Later in the day, the police spotted Hall and Daley and initiated a pursuit. After galloping for several miles, Hollister found himself dislodged from his horse. In a surprising turn of events, Daley swung around and fired a shot, intending to hit the tracker, Prince Charlie (also known as Charley Edwards). Billy Dargin later recounted the daring encounter:
 
Followed them at that time with Prince Charlie and Trooper Hollester. Chased them for three miles and a half, and should have taken them but for Hollester getting thrown from his horse through running against a tree; saw Daley snap his revolver three times at Charlie.¹⁹

The robbery would cost Knox dearly as he was subsequently dismissed from the force on the 31st March 1863.

Artists impression
of Billy fleeing
after Norton capture.

c. 1933.
Following the confrontation with Hall in February 1863, Billy Dargin was tracking Inspector Norton on patrol in the vicinity of Ben Hall's former station Sandy Creek when the two officers were approached by two horsemen in the afternoon. A third then appears, shortly after a gunfight ensues and the Inspector discharges his revolver without effect, was taken prisoner by Ben Hall, John O'Meally and Patsy Daley. Inspector Norton retells the event in his own words as follows:

I was proceeding through the neighbourhood of Wheogo, accompanied by a black tracker, each of us leading a horse; about 9 o'clock I saw two men riding, about 500 yards before us, one of whom had a led horse, and the other a gun on his thigh; I beckoned to the tracker, who was on the hill opposite, and he came down; on nearing the men, they made off; we followed them for some distance into the scrub, and got off, and then fired on them; we then returned to our horses, to pick up our led horses, and, on preparing to start, saw them again watching us; we followed them again, and fired on them, when, finding our horses unable to overtake them, we returned to some huts, and remained there for twenty minutes or half an hour; seeing no more of them, I thought it advisable to go to the police station to get some men, who were to have met us in the neighbourhood, to follow them; about three or four miles from those huts, the black fellow called out that there were three men coming up behind us ; they were so near that I could hear them; I could hear them shouting, " Bail-up," evidently with the intention of stopping us; the black fellow passed me and left his led horse; I dropped mine also and turned round, and, on seeing me do so, the tracker stood at about fifty yards distance.

The three men were scattered at about 100 yards apart, one on each side of the road, and one near the road; the man on the left side advanced within eighty yards of me, and then commenced firing; the man on the left charged and fired a double-barrelled gun; I cannot swear to the man on the right firing his rifle, but he fired a revolver; the man I supposed to be O'Maley took up his position about eighty yards from me; Hall and the prisoner a little farther off; O'Meally cried out, "Throw up your arms, repeatedly; they then commenced firing with revolvers; we fired several return shots; they might have fired fifteen or eighteen shots; my ammunition was then expended, and O'Meally with Hall rode up to me; the latter presented a revolver at me, while O'Meally and Daley ran after the black-fellow, and fired after him; after a few minutes, Hall rode up to me, and said that they had nothing against, me, and that I might go; Hall spoke of a trooper named Hollister, who had threatened to shoot him, and that he would return the compliment when he got hold of him; Hall returned me a revolver which he said was no good to him; he spoke of Sir Frederick Pottinger; how Sir Frederick had brought him (Hall) several times into Forbes, and had him remanded from time to time, until really the magistrates were inclined to believe that there was some charge against him, and those, with him; that it was his opinion that Sir Frederick detained them till he could make up a case; Hall referred also to the case of young Walsh who was then suffering in the lock-up, as he (Hall) had suffered before; I asked for my horse, and he said that I could take them; but he inquired if there was anything particular in the swag on one of them; I told him there was nothing of any consequence; the three detained a Government revolver, a Government carbine which the black-fellow had dropped, a Government saddle and bridle, and the horse on which the black-fellow rode, remarking that they would shoot the horse, and so teach people not to lend horses to policemen; the man who I supposed to be O'Meally, said to me, "you had better not give our description when you return to town; "they then rode round, and picked up their discharged arms, and cleared off.

I cannot swear positively that the prisoner is one of the men; I never saw O'Meally but once before, and the prisoner never but on that occasion; I could not have been close to the prisoner more than three or four minutes; Hall was the one who was in conversation with me, and whom I would swear positively to; the names were given to me by the black-fellow as Hall, Daley, and O'Meally; O'Meally was dressed differently to the prisoner, the hat is exactly like what I have seen Daley wear; have seen the prisoner twice since he was apprehended, and I identify him so far as that to the best of my belief he is the man; I will not swear positively to him; while the others were away Hall fed his horse at a distance from me; I was unarmed, and he had a revolver in his belt and a gun in his hand; I did not care to go near him; he looked as if keeping guard.²⁰

At work.
Courtesy NLA.
However, following the capture of Inspector Norton and his release by Ben Hall, Sir Frederick Pottinger out on patrol near the scene of the encounter at Wheogo, had pointed out to him by tracker Billy Dargin the exact spot where Ben Hall had attempted to shoot and kill Norton. Dismounting, the Inspector examined the tree where the bullets fired by Hall had struck, and the mark showed how it narrowly missed Inspector Norton:

On Wednesday morning last, whilst Sir Frederick Pottinger with Billy, the black tracker, and some of the mounted police were out in the neighbourhood of the suspected bushrangers, near the Wedden Mountains, the tracker detected fresh footprints of a horse crossing the path Sir Frederick and his party were pursuing and directing the master's attention to the circumstances Sir Frederick turned his course in the direction of the tracks. Billy soon pointed out the identical spot which had afforded such friendly protection to J. O. Norton, the sub-inspector of police. Frederick Pottinger descended from his horse and minutely examined the tree, and found the imprint of two large bullets, one of which must have strayed just over the head of Mr. Norton, as he was described to have stood by the tree, and the other nearly at the level with his chest.²¹

John Oxley Norton
In the above-mentioned occasion, Billy Dargin continued to track the fresh hoof-prints he had detected and led Sir Frederick Pottinger and troopers to arrive near the Pinnacle station. While hiding in a mine shaft, they affected the capture of Patsy Daley on 11 March 1863. In court at Forbes, Pottinger recounts the events.
 'The Sydney Morning Herald', Tuesday 17th March 1863:

Sir Frederick turned his course in the direction of the tracks. Billy soon pointed out the identical tree which had afforded such friendly protection to Mr, J. O. Norton, the sub-inspector of police. Sir Frederick Pottinger was directing his course again, when he espied in the distance, through the foliage of the trees in the bush, a mounted horseman, and at once gave orders for pursuit. The party were now in the vicinity of the Pinnacle reef, and, first of all ordering two of his troopers to make round the hill, on which the reef is situated, in order to intercept the flight of the horseman, Sir Frederick, with the black tracker and the two remaining troopers, continued the chase. All this was done in less time than it takes to write, and very shortly afterwards, Sir Frederick pulled up before some deserted-looking huts and found a horse, with a saddle on it, tied up to one of the huts. He at once recognised the horse to be one he had seen the night before in Ben Hall's paddock, "all in a sweat." to use the baronet's own language. The black-fellow also recognised a pair of girths on the horse as being a portion of the property stolen from the Police Barracks, at the Pinnacle station, on the occasion of that place being stuck up and robbed during the temporary absence of the police, shortly before. Entering the huts, Sir Frederick saw two or three men inside, and finding them unwilling to answer his questions, he threatened them, where upon he was informed that the rider of the horse was down a shaft on the reef above named. Proceeding to the place indicated, Sir Frederick found that the shaft was about sixty feet deep, and that a permanent kind of ladder was fixed to the side, for ascent and descent.

Sir Frederick called to the man (presuming him to be there) to surrender, but received no answer. Again, after an interval, the same request was repeated, but met with no response. After several minutes, the supposed bushranger was again summoned to appear, without eliciting any reply. At length, finding mild exhortations insufficient, Sir Frederick threatened that he would at once proceed to burn and smoke him out like an opossum. The man not liking the latter alternative, surrendered at discretion, and was immediately taken into custody. It is obvious that if the notorious Gardiner selects such innocent looking striplings to execute the deeds generally left to men of sterner stuff, it must be for some new arrangement in bush tactics, such as the human telegram hinted at by a contemporary. Patrick Daley, who forms the subject of this sketch, is a mild, youthful whiskerless looking person, with light-blue eyes and fair complexion. There is nothing in his physiognomical expression outwardly, to denote the degraded villain. He certainly, during the examination, kept his head down, glancing furtively round. His eyes move quickly and, with a sinister expression, as if were in the habit of looking under his eyebrow and "taking stock" of those around him. Sir Frederick Pottinger undoubtedly deserves great credit for his prompt action and discernment in this matter; and doubtless, he is willing to accord is portion of the merit to the acute sight of his black tracker. Lachlan Observer. [prisoner was brought before the Forbes bench on the 12th instant, and remanded for a week."] 

William Dargin's evidence at Patrick Daley's trial.
The newspaper account (above) gives insight into Billy Dargin and his right and wrong concept. Although history portrays most black trackers as lacking education, Billy Dargin was an exception.  He had a good grasp of English, and he was intelligent in his delivery of it.
NSW Police Gazette.
In his role as a tracker, Dargin was instrumental in effecting the pursuit and capture of rogues during 1862-1865. Dargin was one of the trackers to interact with the scourge of the NSW police, Ben Hall and was often within yards of the bushranger as both pursuer and pursued. Dargin was also instrumental in hunting some of Hall's associates, such as the 'Old Man' James Mount, whom Dargin helped capture at 'Gallenbagh' on the Murrumbidgee in October 1864 after a chase of 200 miles:

Ben Hall's mate, "the old man," White, has been captured by constables Nicholas, Summers, and Billy (the black tracker), who dogged him from Wheogo to the  Murrumbidgee, where he went on the spree, and was caught sleeping in a public-house; he was taken to Forbes and committed for trial at the next Criminal Sessions.²²

For the capture of Mount, Billy received £5. Earlier in December 1863, Billy again received £12 5 shillings ($1050 today) to capture two culprits named John Fitzgibbons and Foster, who had robbed the Molong and Wellington mails were subsequently convicted. However, Billy's participation in the brutal killing of Ben Hall brought him not only praise but also a modicum of fame as one of the perpetrators in ridding the colony of its most fearsome bushranger on a cold and windy morning on the 5th May 1865. Billy's actions were recounted at the inquest into the police killing and where he received kudos from his superior Inspector Davidson, who recounted the events of the death in a letter to the Inspector-General of police Captain McLerie. Davidson wrote:

Sir, In reference to the recent capture and shooting of Benjamin Hall, I have the honor of forwarding the following particulars for your information. On the 23rd of April I received information that the offenders Hall, Gilbert and Dunn were about to leave the district for the Merro Creek, that they were then collecting saddle horses for the purpose of making a start, and that they would be at a certain place, distant about fifteen miles from Forbes over the Billabong Creek for two or three days before leaving for the purpose of shoeing the horses, and further, that they then went down the river. I immediately started Sergeant Condell with a party of pursuers with orders if he saw the bushrangers to show to them, but not attempt a chase on horseback and to return on Friday. He came up with the bushrangers on Wednesday 26th instant at Monwonga, pretended to give chase but doubled round and came into Forbes on the Friday evening. I then led the bushrangers Scouts to believe that all the Mounted Constables were absent from the town.

At 4 o’clock on the morning of the 29th inst. I started with a party consisting of Sergeant Condell, Constables Buckley, Caban, Bolan, Hipkiss and the trackers Billy Dargin and Charley. Having taken every precaution to destroy our horses’ tracks, we encamped in a dense oak scrub, remaining there until Tuesday, when information reached me – a watch had been kept on the edges of a large plain to look out for the informant – that Gilbert and Dunn had only come, and Hall would surely be there the following day. I determined to wait until the three got together and then attack them during the night in their camp, which was about seven miles distant in an almost impenetrable scrub. The informant said the only way we could take these men was to fire on them in their camp, for if they had one yard start, we would see no more of them. I determined upon doing this, thinking that the Felons Apprehension Act was about this time in force.

On Wednesday night according to arrangement, I met my informant and found that Gilbert and Dunn had started towards Monwonga and having been frightened by some stockmen who had been looking for horses, passed close to their camp and whom Gilbert mistook for police. They left two horses and some ponchos intending to come back for Hall next day, but did not, nor have I since had any authentic account of them. On Thursday evening I again saw my informant who told me that Hall had come but not the other two.  He being the ringleader I determined to endeavour the arrest without the others, and then if successful, wait for their coming. Having been shown near the place where Hall was encamped; this was in a scrub on the border of a large plain, I proceeded towards the place indicated. When about one quarter of a mile from the spot, I made everyone take off their boots and coats, so we should make no noise amongst the thick dead leaves, and would be better prepared for running. We then passed stealthily along through a narrow belt of thick pine scrub, and got up to where there were horses and a poncho. I knew at once these belonged to Hall and intended to watch until he came for them for we could not find out exactly where he was sleeping, and were unable to walk about without making some noise; at about ten o’clock the moon was shining, the night cloudy and wind blowing bitterly cold.

A man with a poncho on walked towards the horses, passing close to myself and Condell, which after catching and unhobbling, he led away. (At this time Constables Caban, Buckley, and Hipkiss could have touched the man with their guns) and rehobbled them, about ninety yards below us. He then sneaked very quietly down the belt of pine, nearly walking over Billy Dargin and camped at the point of the scrub, just off the edges of the plain. Dargin then crawled up and pointed out where the man was sleeping. It was now about half past eleven o’clock. I arranged to give him two hours to get well asleep, then rush the camp and arrest. At half past one, the four men were now posted in a circle from the camp to them. A little before seven o’clock we saw the man, whom we instantly recognized as Hall, moving out of the scrub with a bridle and a revolver in his hands and making for the horses. On his coming on the plain opposite us, we commenced to run and gained on him fifty yards before being seen. Seeing us, he immediately dropped the bridle and ran having the revolver in his right hand, and made towards the hidden men past the camp. I ran after him a considerable distance, calling on him to stand, several times, gradually gaining on him, and when within about forty yards, fired.

The shot taking effect in the left shoulder, he looked around. I thought with the intention of firing at me, I put up the gun again to fire but did not. Condell and Dargin then fired two shots each which seemed to have a slight effect. The four men and Charley now showed up. Hall, seeing them, turned to the right and made for a small clump of saplings on the plain. He still had the revolver in his hand. He caught a sapling with his left hand with the intention of trying to shoot round it. This he continued to hold until he fell. At this time I noticed Hipkiss firing with a revolving rifle, the bullet from which struck Hall on the belt and cut it, his revolver falling to the ground. Hall then seemed to be badly hit and appeared to me to be about to fall. At this time the whole of the remaining shots were fired; he fell back saying “I am wounded, I am dying, shoot me dead” and after a few convulsive shudders he moved no more. The body was then packed on one of his horses and taken to our camp and there remained until night when four of us started with it for Forbes, the others being left in case Gilbert and Dunn should come before we had time to get back again, which place we reached about 4 o’clock in the morning.

I endeavoured to keep the death of Hall a secret, hoping that the next night Gilbert and Dunn would be back, but before I could get to the Telegraph Office it was known to everyone. In the afternoon I started again, sent the horse back to barracks and remained out until the following Thursday, when we returned having to walk. Great difficulty was experienced in destroying the tracks of our shod horses. There were scouts out every day trying to find us but failed, owing to the precautions we had taken. Our arms consisted of  five double-barrelled guns, which I carefully loaded, and three revolving rifles, these being fired without cessation, it was impossible to keep the men from firing off all the shots, will account for the large number of shots fired at Hall. None reloaded and fired again.

During the weeks we had been out we subsisted on possum and water, having been short of provisions and could not get any. The night during which we watched the camp was most bitterly cold and frosty, and being without boots or coats we all suffered severely, and in the morning when running, were bent nearly double with cramps and cold. The coolness, courage and determination of the tracker Billy Dargin is worthy of some substantial reward and the greatest praise is due to him. Tracker Charley, from his behaviour, should not, I think, participate in the rewards beyond some slight recompense.

Herein enclosed is a list and description of the property found with Hall at the time of his death.

I have the honour to be Sir,
Your obedient servant,
J.H. Davidson.
²³

Ben Hall dead and the inquest held, the reward money was divided among the police with half of the amount of £1000 going to the informant, namely £500, with the police receiving the other £500($41,500), led by Davidson £150($12,500), Sergeant Condell £75 and the four constables and Billy Dargin, the black tracker, each received £50 ($4,200 ea.) The other tracker, Charlie, was said to have "no claim". Both Davidson and Condell were promoted, Davidson to the rank of Inspector; "in order to mark the high sense that the Government entertains of the zeal and determination which he has shown in the performance of his duty."

James Henry
Davidson.
In the months following Hall's death, Billy continued in the police service and worked closely with Davidson. On the 31st of August 1865, while out searching for a lost revolver from an encounter with bushrangers sometime previously, Billy came across a hidden plant of money no doubt placed by Ben Hall; 'The Sydney Morning Herald' Saturday 2nd September 1865:

The Lachlan Chronicle states that on Thursday, while out in the bush with Mr Inspector Davidson, Billy Dargin, the black tracker, came across a bundle which, upon being opened, was found to contain the sum of £800 in bank notes Mr Davidson had come out for the purpose of searching for a revolver which had been lost during the chase by his party after bushrangers some time ago in the direction of the Talibang Mountain When nearing the end of Boyd Creek, about four miles from Uah station, Billy saw what he at first thought was a bone wedged under a log. He dismounted, and found the object to consist of an oilskin wrapper, inside of which was a mail bag containing £800 half notes. From appearances, it was evident that the parcel had been put where it was found when the grass was high, and that cattle by feeding had disturbed it, and so exposed it to view. Inspector Davidson will forward the notes to the proper bank in Sydney, when, no doubt, Billy will be rewarded as he deserves.

However, soon after this stroke of good fortune, William Dargin died suddenly at noon on the 4th of September 1865 in great agony. Billy was reported very ill at 10 am and within two hours succumbed to his ailment. There was no inquest on the circumstances nor any of his esteemed police comrades at his funeral, and he was buried at Forbes;  "Dargin was buried in the Presbyterian portion of the cemetery, there being neither followers nor mourners." It was also reported that William Dargin hailed from the Bogan District and employed there by a Mr Dargan of Bathurst; however, evidence dictates otherwise.

Ben Hall had died in a hail of gunfire as day broke over the Rankin Plain 12 miles northwest of Forbes NSW by police and the two black trackers, Charlie Edwards and William Dargin. Although Charley never fired his weapon and was censured by Davidson, including dismissal from the service. The brutal nature of the killing even a century and a half later still raises considerable suspicion over the evidence provided at Hall's inquest by Inspector Davidson, Officer-in-charge, and his 2 IC, Sergeant Condell. In turn, following Ben Hall's death, within months, the two Aboriginal trackers Dargin and Charley associated with the killing were also dead. Moreover, both of their deaths came about under mysterious circumstances!

Subsequently, Hall's death and its ferocious manner never sat well with many of Hall's close friends and family. Whereby, speculation soon mounted as to what the actual events of that fateful morning engendered! Did Davidson and Condell tell the whole truth regarding the savagery of their actions at the inquestShortly after the police had returned to town with the gunshot-riddled body of Hall draped on a horse, William Dargin, widely known as 'Billy' the hard-working and right hand of numerous Inspectors, put forward to some people his own account of Hall's death.

Billy said that he had stealthily crept up and discovered Hall's camp and where the bushranger had prepared his night's rest. Subsequently, Billy revealed the position to Davidson, who sent him back allegedly to watch it. However, Billy divulged that he heard Hall making up a place to sleep amongst the ground cover and as the night was frigid with a strong wind blowing deadening most bush sounds. Billy stated that he crept up to a sleeping Hall under this cover, placed a revolver at his head, pulled the trigger, and shot him dead. This is contrary to the inquest testimony. Therefore, some speculated that the mass of wounds inflicted upon Hall came after he was dead. Some of the carnage was recorded by an observer as Hall's body lay at Barracks Hill:

The brain was penetrated at two points through the forehead, the left arm lacerated with slugs or large shot, and the body perforated in sundry places by bullets and rifle balls. In short, the body was literally riddled, and its appearance presented a tremendous commentary.²⁴

Nonetheless, the medical examiner Charles Ashenheim who conducted a seemingly scant autopsy, did not reveal in his findings the full extent of Hall's gunshot wounds, said:

I am a qualified medical man; I have examined the body of the deceased, and find it perforated by several bullets; the shot between the shoulders the two shots through the brain, and the one through the body were severally sufficient to cause death.²⁵

Even the evidence nullifies any idea that Hall stayed on his feet grasping a sapling long enough to defend himself as shot after shot was poured into him. The idea is fanciful! Consequently, the barrage of bullets had ripped into a no doubt already dead Ben Hall, fired after his demise in the early hours by a highly-strung if not hysterical police. Davidson even wrote on the matter to his father that he had lost control of his men unable to check their fire. Logic took a holiday on 5th May 1865!

"Death of Ben Hall" painted
by Patrick Maroney
in 1894.

Courtesy NLA. 
Nevertheless, rampant gossip overtook Forbes, however, Dargin's version of the morning failed to gain traction, possibly due to his aboriginality. Therefore, his comments were subsequently dismissed by the wider local community, who in a few cases referred to them as fanciful or an exaggeration of his part in the shooting for notoriety. Locals had difficulty believing could the police have been so cold-hearted? 

However, Dargin's account may have ruffled a few feathers. Accordingly, in 1906, Ben Hall's former brother in law John Maguire in his biography 'The Biography of a Reliable Old Native' claimed that Billy recounted a first hand account to him of what actually happened that morning and its result:

The blacktracker, Billy Dargin, told me that they waited till Ben was asleep; then he (Billy) crept up in the darkness, put a revolver to Ben's head, and shot him dead. The wife of Ben's 'friend' (Mary Coneley) also told me that her husband was uneasily pacing up and down and that she suspected his treachery. Not only did this man have the use of Ben's ill-gotten gains, but he received £500 from the Government for acting the betrayer. Billy Dargin was never the same man after the affair.

Whether or not in the few months after Hall's death and with William holding fast to his version, revenge lay in wait. Possibly, those of a higher station worried about a future kerfuffle, where rumours and innuendo may take hold took the opportunity to put him out of the way?

Therefore, the question is, had Billy been murdered to deflect further investigation? His death was reported in the press in September 1865: 

The black tracker, who has been in the police force about three years, died very suddenly on Saturday last. At the morning he appeared in great agony, but became easier, and died about noon. His last and crowning exploit was the part he took in the compassing the death of Ben Hall. Inspector Davidson spoke of his conduct upon that occasion as being admirable. His remains were handed over to the undertaker, and on Sunday morning he was quietly buried in the Presbyterian portion of the cemetery, there being neither followers nor mourners. He gave his age as twenty-two.²⁶

Was Billy poisoned? 

It may be that while in his police camp at Forbes. Billy was administered one of the most common poisons available on a goldfield such as Forbes, Arsenic, where violent death can come in great agony and within hours of its ingestion, "he appeared in great agony and died very suddenly." The symptoms of Arsenic poisoning are described in the common journal of medicine as:

Diarrhoea, vomiting, vomiting blood, blood in the urine, cramping muscles, hair loss, stomach pain, and terrible convulsions. The organs of the body that are usually affected by arsenic poisoning are the lungs, skin, kidneys, and liver.

Upon William's death, there was no inquest, no questions and no men of honour at his graveside, not even those he so valiantly served. Shame! However, for others of a less reputable station, his death would not have even raised an eyebrow, and if skulduggery killed him, some Hall sympathisers' may have quietly smiled.

William's death may have also put the kibosh on others within the police party from speaking out. One such policeman was Const Bohan widely believed from his own statements not to have fired at Hall and raised issues surrounding the killing that ultimately had him dismissed from the police on trumped up charges.

For his part in the death of Hall, Billy had received £50 ($4,200 today), a hell of a lot of money for a blacktracker in the 1800s. Billy on many occasions received reward money of various amounts for his strident efforts in assisting his superiors.

However, every penny was well earned. Furthermore, on the day of Hall's death close to her home at Billabong Creek, a distressed Mary Coneley reputedly cut off a piece of Ben's hair as a keepsake. She reputedly would later separate the informant Michael Coneley. Coneley would in the 1870s do a stint in gaol for horse stealing.

James Condell.
Nonetheless, the evidence of Davidson and Condell has long been suspect as both gave almost word for word versions. Therefore their account points to collusion. Furthermore, out of the six officers involved, these two men were the only police to provide a statement at Hall's inquest. Subsequently, their version puts forward the impression that they were obfuscating facts with vague references, including a debatable knowledge of the Felons Apprehension Act and the overall legality of their actions.

Although Hall, Gilbert and Dunn had been ordered to report to Goulburn Gaol by the 29th April 1865, the Act of Outlaw would come into force on the 10th May 1865. Whereby, after that date, any citizen may lawfully kill them, and their harbourers would face confiscation of all property and suffer fifteen years gaol. In light of this, the two senior police Davidson and Condell, could not have been ignorant of the Acts pending enforcement.

Hall's death generated much sympathy and bewilderment for others in its viciousness. Therefore, the thought of reprisal and the ridicule of the police displayed by Hall over a long period may have been a factor in the polices' merciless actions. Then again the men who lay in wait may just have been scared witless. Therefore, if the real story had been revealed, Davidson and Co could have been charged with murder of an unarmed man as Felon's act was as yet not in force? However, for Davidson, as he stated in in own words he was never going to allow Hall a chance to flee.

The informant said the only way we could take these men was to fire on them in their camp, for if they had one yard start, we would see no more of them. I determined upon doing this, thinking that the Felons Apprehension Act was about this time in force.²⁷

The comments of Hall carrying a revolver appear spurious and cooked up. Therefore, it would seem that Hall's shooting was most probably completed after Dargin shot him in the dead of night other than at daybreak as attested to? 

Another view of Williams death could well have been acute Appendicitis, where a sharp pain in the lower right area of the abdomen if unattended would cause death, but this would be over several days, not immediately or within a few hours. Symptoms, fever (high temperature), stomach tender to touch low on the right, nausea (feeling like throwing up), loss of appetite (not feeling like eating), vomiting, although usually only once or twice, diarrhoea or constipation.

As for Charley, the other aboriginal at Hall's death and denied any reward  was found dead four months later where his decomposed body was found at Grudgery Station, Lachlan River in August 1865. A death also shrouded in mystery; 'Empire' Monday 14th August 1865:

Davidson brought into Forbes, on Thursday, the skeleton of a man, which he had found in the bush, about a mile below Grudgery Station, and three-quarters of a mile from the road. The skeleton is that of an aboriginal and is supposed to be the remains of Charley, a tracker employed by the Forbes police in their searches after the bushrangers. The hands were left perfect, and a quantity of hair was also found near the bones, but the feet were missing and had evidently been taken away by native dogs. Three shirts known to have belonged to Charley were also found near the body. From the fact of a particular tooth in the front of the mouth being gone, and its general formation, little doubt exists as to whom the skeleton belonged. Charley had been missing for some time.²⁸

Finally, William Dargin dependable and a confidant of the men whom he served died an horrific death in mysterious circumstances whose contribution should be lauded for assisting to end one of the most successful bushranging gangs ever to stain the sunburnt county lays in an unmarked grave at Forbes NSW. Thankfully a plaque now bears his name. 

Inspector James Henry Davidson


James Henry Davidson was born on 29th March 1840 in Sydney. He was the eldest son of Walker Rennie Davidson and his wife, Christiana. They were married at St James' Church, Sydney, on 19th July 1836. Walker Rennie Davidson hailed from Scotland, arriving in Australia early in 1829. Walker Davidson gained employment within Surveyor General's Department of NSW, working his way to becoming Surveyor-General of NSW in 1864, a post he held until 1868. With the foundation of the new Police Act of 1862, at the age of 23, James Henry Davidson held the position of Sub-Inspector of Police. At the 1865 dismissal of Sir Frederick Pottinger, Davidson assumed command of the police at Forbes NSW at the age of twenty-five.

Although Davidson was active in the pursuit of Ben Hall and his gang Forbes would be his first command. Previously, Sub-Inspector Davidson was deployed to the Bathurst region under Superintendent Morrissett. Davidson patrolled mainly in and around the Carcoar district, initially for Frank Gardiner, then as Ben Hall, Gilbert and O'Meally became more prominent, his task was their apprehension. Unfortunately, while preparing to venture out on patrol, Davidson shot himself accidentally in the foot in August 1863. 

[THROUGH GREVILLE AND BIRD.]
Friday Evening.- 
INSPECTOR DAVIDSON.-A report reached here yesterday that this gentleman, while fixing his gun, accidentally shot his toe off. This accident is very much to be regretted, as Mr Davidson's services can be ill spared at the present time, for since Gilbert and his gang made their appearance about here he has exerted himself to the utmost in trying to find out their haunts. Davidson was not at Coombing when his horse was stolen, but had left him there to rest for a few days. Mr. Icely's man that was shot in the mouth on Sunday last is gradually recovering; Dr Rowland was only able to extract the ball yesterday.


Sir Frederick Pottinger's dismissal on 16th February 1865, after riding in a race at a Forbes meeting and against police regulations, Davidson assumed command of the Forbes region. In April 1865, Davidson received information from an informer. (widely suspected to be Michael Coneley. Husband of Mary Strickland confidant of Ben Hall) Ben Hall, John Gilbert, and John Dunn would camp close to Coneley's home at the Billabong Creek 12 miles NW from Forbes.


Upon the intelligence, Inspector Davidson prepared his course of action. However, in the NSW parliament, a debate had concluded as to the stratagem the NSW Government would take in bringing about the cessation of bushranging conducted by Ben Hall and Co and Daniel 'Mad Dog' Morgan. Who crossed over to Victoria and was shot dead. The strategy approved by the NSW Government was the introduction of an ancient English Law, 'The Felons Apprehension Act'. Accordingly, Ben Hall, Gilbert, Dunn, and Morgan (separate from Hall &c) were to surrender themselves at Goulburn Gaol by the 29th of April 1865. Any failure to appear after that date the government would declare on 10th May 1865, the bushrangers to be 'OUTLAWS' and shot on sight.


The Act also legislated against harbourers of the bushrangers to prevent providing aid to the bushrangers. If convicted, it resulted in severe punishment and loss of property. Furthermore, the Act suspended the rights applied to lawbreakers under the customary law's of the land;

Normal rights under the law, including “assumption of innocence”, were revoked. The offenders were legally considered guilty without the usual pre-requisite of a trial, the lives of an “outlaw” were considered forfeited, and so once the Act was in force against an individual, killing that person became a “legal” action.

Whether Davidson was aware of the 'Outlaw' declaration and its ramifications, in his report on the death of Hall, he writes of his knowledge:

I determined upon doing this, thinking that the Felons Apprehension Act was about this time in force. 

However, at the time of the proclamation, Davidson was not in contact with police Inspector General McLerie, nor provided McLerie with his strategy or informant's tip. Regardless, Davidson was conscious of Felon's act but determined not to let Hall or the others slip through his fingers.

Nevertheless, in his later report on the course of action pursued by Davidson, it appeared that Davidson, regardless of the upcoming law, had predetermined the outcome. Hence, the standard of the current situation regarding the law of apprehension i.e. 'Stand in the Queen's Name' before opening fire, or at least to ensure the police were fired at first. However, as far as Davidson was concerned, Ben Hall, Gilbert, and Dunn were dead men:

The informant said the only way we could take these men was to fire on them in their camp, for if they had one yard start, we would see no more of them.

Therefore, it is evident that the police's mindset was to shoot dead all three bushrangers. On the 29th of April 1865, the bushrangers were to give themselves up at Goulburn Gaol. Davidson set off at 4 am from Forbes with a heavily armed police party to rendezvous with the informant near his home and at long last to hopefully end the bushrangers years of the police's humiliation. Relying on the informant's information, Davidson's party made camp not far from the bushrangers' reported campsite and waited for further word from the informant:

Having taken every precaution to destroy our horses’ tracks, we encamped in a dense oak scrub, remaining there until Tuesday, when information reached me. 

Mary Coneley
The informant, Coneley, was a long-time friend of Ben Hall through his wife Mary Strickland, the niece of Mary Strickland who had assisted Ben Hall in re-setting his broken leg and recovery under their care. During Ben Hall's recovery, Mary and Ben, as teenagers, formed a close bond, and romance with Mary blossomed. Ben Hall often called at their home from that intimate friendship when he required a respite from the relentless pursuit of the NSW police. Furthermore, Coneley lived with his in-laws' benevolence in a small cottage on the Strickland's Billabong property. Although the reward for capturing the three bushrangers (Hall, Gilbert and Dunn) was £3,000, Coneley would have been entitled to 50 percent of the prize. It was enough incentive for his course of action and finally provided him with the independence he sought from his in-laws and where Mary's family may have perceived that she may have married beneath her station.

Authors Note: Although at the time of Hall's death, it was widely suspected that Coneley was the man responsible for selling him out. Much credit should be directed towards Peter Bradley and his meticulous research on Coneley's role as the man responsible. The Judas Covenant is a first-class history reference on Coneley's participation and post Hall death circumstances.

Michael Coneley
However, on the afternoon of 2nd May 1865, Davidson nestled in the scrub some 7 miles from the suspected bushrangers camp. Coneley appeared to meet with the Inspector reporting Gilbert and Dunn had arrived but not Ben Hall, insisting that the Inspector attack these two in their camp that evening. As £1000 for Coneley was as good as £1500, and Coneley was worried that his payment might escape if Davidson waited longer. Unknown to Davidson, Gilbert and Dunn in the camp were disturbed by some stockmen searching for strayed cattle. Believing them to be troopers, bolted as the police were now often dressed as Bushmen or drovers. Davidson wrote later in his report:

I determined to wait until the three got together and then attack them in their camp, I determined on doing this.

In the afternoon of the 4th May, Coneley met with Davidson and informed him of the bad news that Gilbert and Dunn had fled, but Ben Hall had arrived at the campsite. This time Davidson would not wait and on that evening moved his men consisting of five troopers and two black trackers all heavily armed into position close to Hall's reported campsite.

At dawn on 5th May 1865, the Inspector struck. Davidson had caught his prey by complete surprise. Ben Hall was alone. What follows is Davidson's written account of the events of that fateful morning and the outcome as reported in the 'Clarence and Richmond Examiner' Tuesday, 16th May 1865. (See Article Below.)
Clarence and Richmond Examiner and New England Advertiser
Tuesday 16th May 1865
DEATH OF THE BUSHRANGER BEN HALL
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/61895310?browse=ndp%3Abrowse%2Ftitle%2FC%2Ftitle%2F65%2F1865%2F05%2F16%2Fpage%2F6143498%2Farticle%2F61895310

Upon concluding the intense pursuit, Sub-Inspector Davidson made his way back to Forbes, a journey marked by a grim symbol of closure: the lifeless body of Ben Hall. The notorious bushranger's corpse, stained with blood, was unceremoniously slung across a horse's back, partially obscured by a blanket. This stark image was more than just a physical return; it represented the end of a tumultuous and fearful four-year saga that had gripped the region.

Davidson's arrival in Forbes with Hall's body was a moment laden with significance. It signaled not only the end of Hall's reign of terror but also a turning point in the law enforcement history of the time. The mixture of relief and somber reflection among the townsfolk and the police party was palpable, marking the culmination of a relentless chase and a prolonged period of public anxiety and unrest. This moment, etched in the annals of Australian history, underscored the harsh realities of bushranging and the lengths to which the law would go to restore peace and order. Davidson was disapointed that his party faild to end the reign of Hall's fellow bushrangers Gilbert and Dunn. However within ten days Gilbert was dead as the Felon's apprehension Act kicked in on the tenth of May and Dunn wounded fled only to be hung in 1866. Hall's arrival was reported by the 'Western Examiner' titled, A Dead Bushranger:

The Forbes correspondent of the 'Western Examiner' writes: -On Saturday morning the 6th May, at about 4 o'clock in the morning, a body of Police under the direction of sub-Inspector James Henry Davidson arrived in Forbes with the corpse of Ben Hall, the bushranger. He had been killed the night before near the north Billibong, about twelve miles, from Forbes, and the body was pierced with eight or nine bullets. Either one of four of the wounds must have proved fatal. It is said that the spot where he was killed is not far from Mr Pierce Strickland's station. It is also said that Hall had been in and about the town of Forbes two or three days previous to being shot. Gilbert and Dunn were not with him, and it is rumoured that they were off after some horses, while Hall visited Forbes and neighbourhood, and that it was while Hall was on his way to join Gilbert and Dunn that he was killed.

From ten o clock in the morning of Friday, the room, where the body lay was filled with persons curious to have a look at the corpse of the man who has contributed so much to bring New South Wales into disrepute by his wanton outrages. I suppose that four or five hundred persons visited the barracks, and I saw several females among the crowd. After the enquiry several parties availed themselves of an opportunity to got a lock of the bushranger's hair. His body was lying upon a stretcher in the south-west corner room of the building appropriated to the foot police. There was nothing forbidding in the countenance of Ben Hall, as he lay there still in death. In fact, I heard the remark made several times, during the moment I was in the room, "What a handsome, face." He appeared to be a young man about twenty-eight, finely made, excellent features, lofty forehead, and fine brown hair. His whiskers and moustache were cut quite close and of a much lighter colour than the hair on his head. I heard many make the remark, "I have often seen that face somewhere, but cannot tell where." I have myself seen the face, but have no idea when and where. The most remarkable feature in the countenance was a peculiar curl in the right side of the upper lip, indicating ordinarily a feeling of contemptuous scorn, and produced by the action of the mind upon the muscles. In this case, I am told that it is n constitutional feature, and may, therefore, indicate nothing.

I am told that the grave has been dug and that Hall will be interred, under the superintendence; of Mr J. S. Toler, the well-known undertaker, to-morrow. Such are a few of the particulars attending the death of Ben Hall.
   

In the aftermath of Ben Hall's demise, Inspector Davidson, playing a pivotal role in the events leading to Hall's death, prepared his comprehensive report detailing the encounter. He then submitted this crucial document to the Inspector-General, Captain McLerie. The report not only served as an official account of the final moments of one of Australia's most notorious bushrangers but also marked the culmination of a significant chapter in both Davidson's career and Australian bushranging history. The submission of this report was a formal procedure, symbolising the closing of a high-profile case and the beginning of a period of reflection and analysis for the law enforcement community. As follows; Police Report, Forbes, Saturday, May 12th, 1865;


 Sir,

In reference to the recent capture and shooting of Benjamin Hall, I have the honor of forwarding the following particulars for your information.

On the 23rd of April, I received information that the offenders Hall, Gilbert and Dunn were about to leave the district for the Merro Creek, that they were then collecting saddle horses for the purpose of making a start, and that they would be at a certain place, distant about fifteen miles from Forbes over the Billabong Creek for two or three days before leaving for the purpose of shoeing the horses, and further, that they then went down the river. I immediately started Sergeant Condell with a party of pursuers with orders if he saw the bushrangers to show to them, but not attempt a chase on horseback and to return on Friday.

He came up with the bushrangers on Wednesday 26th instant at Monwonga, pretended to give chase but doubled round and came into Forbes on the Friday evening. I then led the bushrangers Scouts to believe that all the Mounted Constables were absent from the town.

At 4 o’clock on the morning of the 29th inst. I started with a party consisting of Sergeant Condell, Constables Buckley, Caban, Bolan, Hipkiss and the trackers Billy Dargin and Charley.

Having taken every precaution to destroy our horses’ tracks, we encamped in a dense oak scrub, remaining there until Tuesday, when information reached me – a watch had been kept on the edges of a large plain to look out for the informant – that Gilbert and Dunn had only come, and Hall would surely be there the following day. I determined to wait until the three got together and then attack them during the night in their camp, which was about seven miles distant in an almost impenetrable scrub.

The informant said the only way we could take these men was to fire on them in their camp, for if they had one yard start, we would see no more of them. I determined upon doing this, thinking that the Felons Apprehension Act was about this time in force.

On Wednesday night according to arrangement, I met my informant and found that Gilbert and Dunn had started towards Monwonga and having been frightened by some stockmen who had been looking for horses, passed close to their camp and whom Gilbert mistook for police. They left two horses and some ponchos intending to come back for Hall next day, but did not, nor have I since had any authentic account of them. On Thursday evening I again saw my informant who told me that Hall had come but not the other two.  He being the ringleader I determined to endeavour the arrest without the others, and then if successful, wait for their coming.

Having been shown near the place where Hall was encamped; this was in a scrub on the border of a large plain, I proceeded towards the place indicated. When about one quarter of a mile from the spot, I made everyone take off their boots and coats, so we should make no noise amongst the thick dead leaves, and would be better prepared for running. We then passed stealthily along through a narrow belt of thick pine scrub, and got up to where there were horses and a poncho. I knew at once these belonged to Hall and intended to watch until he came for them for we could not find out exactly where he was sleeping, and were unable to walk about without making some noise; at about ten o’clock the moon was shining, the night cloudy and wind blowing bitterly cold.

A man with a poncho on walked towards the horses, passing close to myself and Condell, which after catching and unhobbling, he led away. (At this time Constables Caban, Buckley, and Hipkiss could have touched the man with their guns) and rehobbled them, about ninety yards below us.

He then sneaked very quietly down the belt of pine, nearly walking over Billy Dargin and camped at the point of the scrub, just off the edges of the plain. Dargin then crawled up and pointed out where the man was sleeping. It was now about half past eleven o’clock. I arranged to give him two hours to get well asleep, then rush the camp and arrest.

At half past one, the four men were now posted in a circle from the camp to them. A little before seven o’clock we saw the man, whom we instantly recognized as Hall, moving out of the scrub with a bridle and a revolver in his hands and making for the horses. On his coming on the plain opposite us, we commenced to run and gained on him fifty yards before being seen. Seeing us, he immediately dropped the bridle and ran having the revolver in his right hand, and made towards the hidden men past the camp. I ran after him a considerable distance, calling on him to stand, several times, gradually gaining on him, and when within about forty yards, fired.

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

The body was then packed on one of his horses and taken to our camp and there remained until night when four of us started with it for Forbes, the others being left in case Gilbert and Dunn should come before we had time to get back again, which place we reached about 4 o’clock in the morning.

I endeavoured to keep the death of Hall a secret, hoping that the next night Gilbert and Dunn would be back, but before I could get to the Telegraph Office it was known to everyone. In the afternoon I started again, sent the horse back to barracks and remained out until the following Thursday, when we returned having to walk. Great difficulty was experienced in destroying the tracks of our shod horses. There were scouts out every day trying to find us but failed, owing to the precautions we had taken.

Our arms consisted of  five double-barrelled guns, which I carefully loaded, and three revolving rifles, these being fired without cessation, it was impossible to keep the men from firing off all the shots, will account for the large number of shots fired at Hall. None reloaded and fired again.  During the weeks we had been out we subsisted on possum and water, having been short of provisions and could not get any. The night during which we watched the camp was most bitterly cold and frosty, and being without boots or coats we all suffered severely, and in the morning when running, were bent nearly double with cramps and cold. The coolness, courage and determination of the tracker Billy Dargin is worthy of some substantial reward and the greatest praise is due to him. Tracker Charley, from his behaviour, should not, I think, participate in the rewards beyond some slight recompense.

Herein enclosed is a list and description of the property found with Hall at the time of his death.

I have the honour to be Sir,
Your obedient servant,

J.H. Davidson.

Reward distribution
1865.

NSW Police Gazette.

An inquest was convened on the shooting, shedding light on the narratives provided by Davidson and Condell, the only two of the eight to give an account. Their accounts, however, were marred by self-interest, especially under the shadow of the Felons Apprehension Act, which influenced them to mitigate their actions' severity and their troops' excessive force. Davidson, particularly conscious of public perception, claimed that Hall uttered last words—a dubious assertion considering the intensity of the gunfire, which likely resulted in Hall's instantaneous death. This embellishment of events by Davidson seemed to be an effort to cast their actions in a more favorable light amidst growing public outcry.

The reward for Hall's capture, amounting to £1000, was subsequently distributed. The informant received half of this sum, £500, while the police force shared the remaining amount. Davidson himself was awarded £150, and Sergeant Condell received £75. The four constables and Billy Dargin, the black tracker, each received £50. Notably, another tracker, Charlie, was deemed ineligible for any share of the reward.

In recognition of their roles in Hall's capture, both Davidson and Condell received promotions. Davidson ascended to the rank of Inspector, marking a significant advancement in his career. This period following Hall's death was marked by a complex interplay of self-preservation, public opinion, and the distribution of rewards, reflecting the intricate dynamics of law enforcement and public perception in that era. Following the death Davidson never publically spoke of the mornings killing.

In order to mark the high sense that the Government entertains of the zeal and determination which he has shown in the performance of his duty.

A newspaper article on the 23rd May 1865 demonstrates that Davidson was out to kill all three bushrangers but had to settle for Hall. The idea that Davidson needed to identify Hall before acting is ludicrous, as a Sub-Inspector of police and all its powers and having drawn himself close to Hall's position in the night. Davidson could have arrested him without a shot fired while Hall slept. Eight to one are pretty good odds. No Hall was a dead man sleeping. I have provided an excellent link to an article that comments that the police were close enough to seize him. Why didn't they?
Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser
Monday 29 May 1865
DEATH OF THE BUSHRANGER CHIEF BEN HALL.
In 1869, Davidson was Inspector of Police for the South-Western District at Deniliquin NSW and married Catherine Shanahan in the same year in Victoria. Earlier Davidson was to marry Miss Sarah Bayly:

As engaged to be married to Miss Sarah Bayly, daughter of the late N. P. Bayly, of Havilah; but the contract was broken off, and the young lady became the wife of Mr. George Thompson, son of E. Dean Thompson, of Sydney.

The Davidson family, newly formed under the union of Sub-Inspector Davidson, soon encountered the harsh realities of life's fragility. Their firstborn, James Henry, tragically passed away at the tender age of one, casting a shadow of sorrow over the family. Despite this early heartbreak, the following year, 1872, brought a glimmer of hope with the birth of Mary Christiana.

The family continued to grow in the ensuing years. In 1873, they welcomed another son, John Rannie Davidson, heralding a period of joyous expansion. Over the next decade, the Davidsons embraced the arrival of more children: Catherine Josephine in 1876 and Arthur Andrew in 1878. However, their happiness was once again tinged with sorrow when they moved to Darling Downs, Queensland, where Catherine, just three years old, passed away in July 1879 in Toowoomba.

Undeterred by the ebb and flow of fortune, the family welcomed Martin Shanahan in 1880 and Alfred Charles, their last son, in 1884, his birth registered in Sydney. However, tragedy struck again when their daughter Mary Christiana died in June 1882 at just ten years and three months old. The Davidson family narrative reached another milestone in 1888 with the birth of Eleanor Angelina, the last child to join their fold.

The Davidson family's journey through joy, expansion, loss, and resilience paints a vivid portrait of life in that era, marked by both the joys of new beginnings and the profound impact of personal loss.


Whilst in charge of the police at Deniliquin 'The Pastoral Times' published this comment:

Ever since Davidson was placed at Deniliquin as headquarters of an immense police district requiring very great and laborious attention, we have felt the effects of strong and determined direction in police affairs. Mr Davidson came to Deniliquin seven years ago flush with having, by extraordinary exertions, eased the country of one of the most daring and reckless bushrangers, viz. Ben Hall.

In 1870 James Davidson became a magistrate at Deniliquin as published:

The Government Gazette to-day announces the appointment of eighty-eight new magistrates, including the names of James Henry Davidson, John Bellew Graves, and Thomas Brown of Deniliquin.

In 1872 Davidson left the South Western police district to assume the command of the Northern police district based at Armidale, NSW and on leaving Deniliquin James Davidson was presented with a parting gift:

On Monday afternoon, 7th instant, a meeting was held at the Royal Hotel, Deniliquin, for the purpose of presenting Mr. Inspector Davidson, who is leaving the district for Armidale, with an address, as also a service in silver. The former was engrossed on parchment and numerously signed by the residents of the town and district, and on the chief piece of plate was inscribed, "Presented by the residents of die town and district of Deniliquin to James H. Davidson, Inspector of Police, on the occasion of his leaving the district.

He resigned from the NSW Police in January 1874 as reported via the Government Gazette:

Inspector Orridge, of the Braidwood district, will succeed Mr. James Davidson, of Armidale, resigned, as Inspector of Police for the Northern district.

Sir Patrick Jennings (1831–1897)
Premier of New South Wales
 26 Feb 1886-19 Jan 1887
The reason for his resignation was so that his brother-in-law, NSW parliamentarian, Mr P. A. Jennings could return to Sydney as reported in 'The Pastoral Times':

Mr P. A. Jennings intends to leave Warbreccan and to reside in Sydney. He will, we (Pastoral Times) hear, offer himself for some constituency. The electorate will, we think, be-fortunate that secures his services, and his return to the Sydney Legislative Assembly will be very acceptable to its foremost members; -Mr. James Davidson, who is brother-in-law to Mr. Jennings, has resigned office as Police Inspector, and takes Mr. Jennings' place at Warbreccan.

Davidson's brother-in-law would have an outstanding career in politics becoming, Colonial Secretary of NSW in 1885, as Sir Patrick Jennings, and Premier and Treasurer in 1886 before being succeeded by Sir Henry Parkes, for his fourth term, in 1887.


James Davidson after taking control of Warbreccan was voted in and became Sheep Director for that district:

The annual meeting of sheep-owners, holden yesterday, resulted in the election of Messrs. James Davidson, William Officer Tracey, Brown, and Patterson, as sheep directors.

Whilst manager of his brother-in-law's property "Warbreccan Station" his father passed away:

We notice that on the 20th of last month Mr. Walter Rennie Davidson, formerly surveyor-general of New South Wales, died at Warbreccan, Riverena, in the sixty ninth year of his age.

James Davidson, however, shortly after his father's death, stood for and was elected as the Mayor of Deniliquin in 1877, and the election was reported as dull:

The annual municipal election of two aldermen and two auditors for the town of Deniliquin took place on Friday last. The affair was conspicuous for the absence of that animation or life which are supposed to be indissolubly connected with politics, either local or parliamentary. There were three candidates for aldermanic honours-viz., Messrs. James H Davidson (mayor). James Burchfield, and George Hunter, The two former gentlemen were retiring by effluxion of time, and sought re-election ; but Mr. Hunter was of opinion that new blood was necessary in the council to make it work for the interests of the ratepayers. As an illustration of tho total absence of political life in the late contest, it need only be mentioned that not a single candidate thought it incumbent upon him ¡to hold a public meeting of the ratepayers, but .were content to advertise themselves In an address of about sixty lines in length, setting forth the usual number of promises, and apologising for promises unfulfilled. The result was that many ratepayers declined to waste their time in walking to the Town Hall to record their votes. The number of votes recorded for each candidate was as follows :-Davidson, 235; Birchfieid, 189; Hunter, 174. At the official declaration of the poll, Mr. Burchfield, who was the only candidate present, returned thanks, and stated that the re-election of the two old members was a proof that their past services were appreciated. The council had been blamed in the Press, and elsewhere, for an absence of debate at their meetings, but it was owing to the matters coming before the council being of so simple a nature as not to require discussion. He thought arguments were often brought forward from personal motives, and not from a desire to serve the ratepayers, and surely it were better to refrain from such scenes as had characterised many council meetings elsewhere, and which were a disgrace to the community. Again, it had been stated that Deniliquin was far behind in the matter of a water supply scheme, but he differed in that respect, as he thought previously the town was too small, and the houses too scattered to make waterworks remunerative. With regard to other improvements, he might say that the building of the Town Hall, which he considered a very necessary building, had, to a very great extent, crippled the finances of the municipality for some years to come; consequently, only those improvements which were absolutely necessary could be undertaken. The speaker's remarks were well received by the few ratepayers present. The election of two auditors resulted in the two old ones being returned, the numbers for each being-W.H. Hooper, 230 ; James Thies, 212; Alfred Sugden, 171.

James Davidson also campaigned for a seat in the NSW State Parliament but was defeated. (See above right.)

In 1879, Davidson moved with his family to the Darling Downs near Toowoomba and managed a sheep station named 'Westbrook':

Mr James Davidson, of Warbreccan, purposes leaving Riverina for the Darling Downs during this month. The Deniliquin Institution will suffer by this step. Our Town Council will lose its Mayor, and the School of Arts its President.

During Davidson's time at Deniliquin, he was held in high esteem by the community:
The Riverine Herald
Tuesday 14th January 1879
DEPARTURE OF MR. DAVIDSON FROM DENILIQUIN.
His wife Catherine passed away in 1904 aged 53 after his final move to Wellington Point, Brisbane where he became "Commissioner of the Peace".

Inspector James Henry Davidson passed away at the age of 74 in 1914 and was buried alongside his wife at the Toowong Cemetery. At his passing, the public didn't seem to know that he was the officer in charge of the notorious Ben Hall's shooting death. (See Article Below.)



 Inspector Davidson Grave at Toowong Cemetery, Brisbane, Queensland 10/07/2014. In need of some TLC. My photos.





James Glynn
Condell.
Senior Sergeant James Glynn Condell, a prominent figure in Irish and Australian law enforcement history, was born in 1837 in County Carlow, Ireland, to Thomas and Caroline Condell. His family, adherents of the Church of England, resided in Bagenalstown, a town situated nine miles south of Carlow City and bordered by the scenic Barrow River, 46 miles from Dublin and adjacent to County Wicklow.

In 1855, at the age of eighteen, James embarked on his law enforcement career by joining the Irish Constabulary in Kilkenny. The requirements for entry into the Constabulary were stringent: recruits had to be single, aged between 18 and 27, in good health, and at least 5' 9" tall. James, standing at 5' 11'', met these criteria with ease. Following the policy of the time, which prohibited newly recruited constables from serving in their home counties (or that of their wives), James was assigned to Mulroy Carricart, Donegal. This remote location, situated on the banks of Mulroy Bay in northwest Ireland, was known for its rugged landscape, shaped by the relentless Atlantic Ocean.

Life in County Donegal was challenging, with many families struggling to make ends meet on small plots of land controlled by the British aristocracy. This hardship, coupled with the lack of opportunities, propelled many residents, including James Condell, to seek a better life elsewhere. In the mid-1850s, the New South Wales government in Australia initiated an assisted immigration scheme that became a beacon of hope for the residents of Donegal, famously known as the "Donegals."

It was under this scheme that James Condell embarked on his journey to New South Wales, a move that not only marked a significant transition in his personal life but also set the stage for his notable contributions in the realm of law enforcement in a new land. His story is a testament to the era's socio-political dynamics and the individual pursuits that shaped the course of history.

James Condell NSW Police promotion and enlistment
 1860-1865 at enlistment James Condell was 25 yrs old.

In 1859, James Condell, a young man with a background in the Irish Police Force, set sail for new opportunities and arrived in Australia, landing in Melbourne, Victoria. His initial foray into the Victorian Goldfields, in search of fortune, was brief and, as records suggest, not particularly fruitful—a common experience for many during the gold rush era.

Undeterred, Condell soon made his way to New South Wales, where his law enforcement background paved the way for his entry into the NSW police force. In October 1860, he began as a supernumerary and quickly ascended the ranks, being promoted to Sergeant in 1861. This rapid progression was indicative of his competence and the high regard in which he was held.

One of Condell's significant early assignments in the NSW police force was his involvement in the Lambing Flat riots in June 1861. These riots were a violent manifestation of anti-Chinese sentiment among European miners, a reflection of the broader racial tensions of the time. Condell's role in quelling these riots was crucial, especially given the challenge of protecting the vulnerable Chinese miners.

His actions during this tumultuous period were brought into the limelight on September 21, 1861, when the Crown prosecutor, Mr. Butler, delivered an abbreviated address defending the response to the brutalities faced by the Chinese miners. This address highlighted the complexities and responsibilities of the constabulary in maintaining order and protecting all community members, regardless of their origin.

Would any reasonable man not be alarmed on such an occasion for himself, his wife, his daughter, and his property? This was the character of the assemblage, and its object and purpose were further disclosed by inscriptions on the flags to drive away the Chinese. As to the object, no doubt much would be said, an appeal be made to their feelings, on the score of enmity to the Chinese, but he must tell them they must simply be guided by the evidence adduced. It was, as far as this trial was concerned, a matter of indifference what their views were about the Chinese. The Chinese had come lawfully into the country, and were entitled to the protection of the law as well as every other person.

At the trial of the provocateurs, James Condell gave the following evidence against those who brought before the court:

Robert McBride, Patrick Day, William Tomalty; Charles Coyle, and James Rolleston were indicted for that they, at Lambing Flat, in the colony of New South Wales, together with about fifty others or more persons unknown, on the 30th June, assembled and gathered together, and did then and there, with arms, commit a riot and disturbance for one hour and more, to the terror of well disposed persons, and in contempt of the peace of the Crown.

"...I heard three or
 four shots fired..."
James Condell said:

I saw a great gathering on the 30th June, between ten and eleven o'clock, coming towards the Camp; they crossed the creek; there was a Chinese camp close to the creek at Sawpit Gully; at first there were about 200 to 300 persons; they had a band of music and flags, and were crying out, "Roll up to the Chinese" on the flags was "Roll up. No Chinese", I heard three or four shots fired from the middle of the crowd; I saw six or seven with arms; most of the people carried sticks when across the creek they went to the Chinese camp and fired it; at first camp I saw the multitude tear down the tents, and burn tents, rice, meat, &c., together they then went to another camp. I went also in sight; they went to burn the second camp; they then went to the third camp I did not go further; I saw McBride, Day, Tomalty, and Coyle at the second Camp-; at the first camp I saw McBride take a lighted bush from the fence and thrust it in the door of the tent and set fire to it; McBride then went to Back Creek; I knew McBride for six months; I was within three or four yards of him, I arrested no one that day, I had not sufficient force, and was afraid to undertake it; I am certain it was McBride, I saw Day at Sawpit Gully, he was carrying a stick and running with the mobs was about three or four yards off: I knew him four or five months; I am quite certain of him; I did not speak to him; I saw Tomalty, he had no stick he was running with the mob; he was four or five yards off; I had seen him several times before; I saw Coyle at Sawpit Gully, at the Chinese Camp; I saw him take a match and try with it to fire a tent, but it went out; he then lighted a bush and then a second time fired the tent; Coyle then went to the second camp; I knew Coyle five years; I knew him in Ireland; he came out with the Donegals; I knew Rollston; l cannot swear I saw him there that day; there was a deal of noise and shouting.
After Condell's evidence Mr Holroyd commenced his cross examination; James Condell continued:

I was in uniform on the 30th June - I only went as far as the second camp in Sawpit Gully; I first saw McBride at the first camp; he had a large stick in his hand, of some sort of greenwood; I was within three or four yards; he was dressed as he is now, only with a blue shirt; he had the same coloured trousers; he had no coat on; I will swear he had a blue flannel shirt on, and a Panama hat or a cabbage-tree hat I cannot be sure which; I swore at first it was a Panama hat; I first saw Day in the mob; I think he was dressed much as he is now; cannot say as to the comforter, he had on a coat similar to the one he has on now; there were Chinese at the same camp when Mr. Cowper was there, and they remained until driven away; I saw storekeepers riding on horseback with the mob; they were at some distance from the burning; no storekeeper has been arrested; some of the people had sticks, some had pick shafts; about six or seven had fire-arms, and some were carrying picks; I did not see Day with a bridle or halter; I saw Tomalty at Sawpit Gully, at the second camp; he had nothing in his hand; I did not go further than Sawpit Gully; I saw a stick in Coyle's hand; I think it was a pick-handle; it was lightish colour; I knew McBride at McGurren's store; I had been there; he did not continue there after the 14th July; I did not speak to him in the crowd; I apprehended McBride at rear of the Catholic Chapel, on 14th, and Coyle in the dancing-room at Vicq's public house I did not drag him out; I dragged him into the centre of the flour; it was about eight o'clock; this was the occasion when we fixed bayonets and charged; we were six or seven, and the people rushed us and hustled us; it was on Sunday, about half-past one, when I arrested McBride coming out after prayers. Re-examined by Mr. Butler: I identify the prisoners most by their faces; I did not pay much attention to dress. Sergeant Condell recalled and examined by Mr. Holroyd: I apprehended Coyle on 14 August in the ballroom at Yicq's public-house and McBride after coming out of chapel on the 14th July. To his honor: I first knew Coyle in Ireland five years ago; I was then in the Irish constabulary.

Following his involvement in the Lambing Flat riots, James Condell took a significant step in his personal life. He facilitated the journey of two sisters, Margaret and Elizabeth Davis, from Donegal, Ireland, to New South Wales. This act of sponsorship, a common practice for those seeking to bring family or loved ones to Australia, was particularly noteworthy as it marked the continuation of a relationship that had begun during his time in the Irish Police Force.

Condell had developed a connection with Elizabeth Davis while he was stationed in Donegal. Demonstrating his commitment to this relationship, he paid a deposit of £3 for each sister, a substantial sum at the time, to ensure their safe passage to NSW. The journey, which commenced on 21st December 1861, was made possible with the necessary reference provided by The Reverend Cox of Donegal, Ireland, a requirement for such migrations.

This move not only signifies Condell's personal investment but also reflects the broader patterns of immigration during the 19th century, where individuals and families often made significant sacrifices to start anew in distant lands. For Condell, the arrival of Margaret and Elizabeth Davis would have marked a significant and personal milestone in his life, intertwining his professional endeavors with a deepening personal narrative.

Sponsored
After the Lambing Flat events, James Condell was posted to Forbes. In March 1862 the NSW police were reorganised into a single force and, as such, James Condell retained the rank of Sergeant on the 1st of March 1862, under the New Police Act.

"Fire"
Before long Sgt Condell would become part of the most daring of robberies - the hold-up of the Gold Escort coach at Eugowra Rocks, NSW. This article appeared in the 'Goulburn Herald' after the attack. Titled: ROBBERY OF THE LACHLAN ESCORT. 

The following account of this event, from the Western Examiner, is the fullest and most connected yet to hand: The escort left Forbes on Sunday morning, under the immediate charge of Sergeant Condell, seated on the box, alongside the driver, Mr. Fagan; the remainder of the escort, three men, were seated in the body of the couch-their names were, Senior constable Moran. Constable Haviland, and another constable Raferty. The treasure consisted of 2719 ounces of gold and £3700 in cash; there were also the usual mails, which were heavy. The escort proceeded on its way without any unusual occurrence to warn them of impending danger. At about half-past four o'clock, on arriving at Coobong, a distance of twenty-seven miles from Forbes, and immediately in the vicinity of Mr. Clements's station, two teams were observed in the roadway-no uncommon. circumstance. As the coach drew near it became evident there was but one passage, and that between the obstructing teams and a mass of broken perpendicular rocks, overhanging the narrow passage; the peculiarity of the situation never for a moment excited suspicion, but the driver brought his horses in to a walk, in order to steer between the drays and the rocks. The coach at this time lay in such a position as that a party under cover of the rocks might pour a destructive fire upon the escort with impunity; in an instant, six men, dressed in red serge shirts and red nightcaps, with faces blacked, showed themselves from behind a breastwork of rock, and at the word "Fire," delivered their bullets with but too much precision. The sergeant was wounded in the side, the driver's hat was perforated with a number of bullets, Senior constable Moran was wounded in the groin; and as was quite natural, the escort were unnerved at the unexpectedness of the attack. No sooner had the six bushrangers delivered their fire, than they fell back with military precision and were replaced by five or six others, who delivered their fire and fell back in turn. The two volleys were the work of an instant. Never was more truly verified the saying that "every bullet has its billet," for the clothes of the escort were perforated in several places in the arm, in the legs, and in the side; but the men themselves escaped with comparatively trifling flesh wounds. Sergeant Condell states that he was knocked of the box at the first volley; Mr. Fagan jumped off and hold the reins, whilst the horses walked on slowly.

Corporal Moran and Constable Haviland discharged their carbines at the bushrangers; as for the third constable nothing appears to be known about him. Senior-constable Moran, after discharging his carbine called upon his comrades to "man their revolvers." when they again exchanged shots with the bushrangers. It would appear that at this point the bushrangers fired at the horses and wounded one of them in the leg, which caused them to bolt. Constable Moran was thrown out upon his back and much injured; and the horses ran in among a lot of broken rocks upsetting the coach. Meanwhile the bushrangers kept up their fire, when, seeing the coach capsized, they began to cheer and rushed down pell-mell to secure their booty. Mr. Fagan, who appears to have been much exposed, called out to the ruffians not to shoot him for God's sake; but they took no heed of his cries, and it is probable that but for the fortunate circumstance of the horses bolting, every man in the escort would have been ruthlessly murdered. The escort by this time became scattered, and the law of self-preservation came into operation, for every man sought cover from the fire; and just about dark the party re-assembled at Clements's station, Mr. Clements, who heard the firing, came out to meet the men, and taking them to his residence, had their wounds dressed and housed them for the night. His first care was either to go or send a messenger to Forbes at once (we are unable to say which.) The messenger accomplished the distance-twenty-seven miles-on a dark night in three and a-half hours; the camp authorities were called up, and Sir Frederick Pottinger with eleven troopers, a couple of black trackers, and a number of volunteers, arrived at the scene of the attack at two o'clock on Monday morning. Sir Frederick at once ran the tracks of the bushrangers down, and shortly after day-light succeeded in finding their camp, some three miles off the road, and at the other side of a lofty ridge. The fire was still, in and fag-ends of the red shirts worn by the bushrangers on the previous evening were found amongst the embers-thus indicating that they wished to destroy every trace of identity.

Wall Mural at Eugowra
The empty gold boxes were found, as also the mail bags with numbers of letters gutted or torn into fragments. Singular to relate the registered letters had not been touched. The luggage belonging to the escort had been broken open and searched. Gardiner and his "honorable" men are not given to literature during their leisure, for they did not interfere with the newspapers. The result of the robbery may be briefly summed up. All the gold, 2719 ounces was taken, and with it, the whole of the cash, £3700. The empty gold boxes, and the letters and newspapers after being gathered up in a general medley, were brought to Mr. Clements's station, and placed in the coach, which, with two of the horses, had been recovered.
A video I took at Eugowra Rocks, 2013.
Sgt Condell was in charge of the police escort and was seated beside the coach driver, John Fagan when Gardiner and his gang opened fire upon the coach and Sgt Condell was wounded, soon after the ambush, Sgt Condell wrote a letter of explanation to the Inspector General of Police, Captain McLerie, James Condell wrote; 

June 23rd, 1863.

Sir,- On Saturday, the 15th instant, I was ordered to Sydney for drill instruction as I was getting transferred from the foot to the mounted force. I was ordered to take charge of the gold escort from Forbes to Sydney. We started on Sunday the 15th instant, at 12 o'clock p.m. About 5 o'clock p.m., we were attacked by a party from twelve to fifteen armed men, dressed in red jumpers, red caps, and blackened faces. The road being blocked up with several drays, so that we had to pass close to a rock, where they were concealed, and as the coach was passing, six or seven men fired into the coach, and then drew back. Then six or seven others fired. We then returned the fire; two of the   horses got wounded and started off with the coach, capsizing it, and turning the escort out. I received four bullets through the coat, one entering my left side. Senior constable Moran received two balls, one which wounded him in the groin. The coachman receiving also two bullets, but was not hurt.


The men then rushed to the coach taking the gold boxes out, and also the mail bags, which they cut open, opening several of the letters. l and two of the escort got to Mr. Clement's station, I requested of him to proceed to Forbes, and give information, which he did. Sir F. Pottinger and a party of mounted men arrived about 4 o'clock a.m:, on the 16th instant, and with two black trackers, and a party of the settlers started on their track. About three miles from where the coach was attacked, they found the gold boxes cut open, and the contents gone. They also found the remains of a camp fire, and could track the foot marks of ten horses, I had the mail bags and letters picked up, and handed them over to the postmaster at Orange. I started for Orange with two of the escort next morning, and arrived about 7 o'clock p.m. the 16th instant, and as we entered the town, I heard the report of fire arms in the coach, and on inquiry was informed that constable Haviland was shot. I examined the arms, and found that the revolver he had in his charge had one chamber discharged. The bullet entered underneath his chin, killing him instantly. An inquest was held on Tuesday the 17th instant, and the jury returned a verdict came by his death as follows:- Died from a bullet wound under the chin, but how received there was not sufficient evidence to show. The bushrangers were commanded by one man, who gave them orders to fire and load. I believe it to have been the voice of Gardiner, as I know his voice well. The bushrangers took two of the men's rifles, and three cloaks which remained in the coach after it was capsized, and they also cut open my carpet bag, taking from it two shirts, three pairs of socks. I cannot identify any of them with the exception of the voice I heard.


JAMES CONDELL, Sargeant.

Following the infamous Eugowra escort robbery, another tragic event unfolded, further darkening the times. As the coach was departing from the Orange mail office, an unforeseen and calamitous incident occurred. Constable Haviland, a member of the police force, became an unwitting victim of misfortune.

Amidst the chaos at Eudowra, Constable Moran's revolver, a standard issue in law enforcement, somehow slipped from his grasp. The firearm, in a stroke of tragic happenstance, fell to the floor of the coach. Seated inside the revolver unnoticed discharged

This accidental discharge proved fatal for Constable Haviland. The bullet, never meant to harm a fellow officer, claimed his life. Sgt Condell stated at the inquest:

I am sergeant of police, stationed in the Western district; was in charge of the gold escort from Forbes to Sydney; I started on Sunday last, the 15th instant; the deceased William Haviland was with me; he was a constable in the Western Escort; about 5 o'clock on Sunday evening, the escort was fired upon at Coobong, off of Mr. Clement's station, by a party of armed men; I was wounded as also senior constable Moran; the gold was taken from us; the deceased escaped unhurt; he was troubled in mind the whole of yesterday; he said he had several narrow escapes, and would not stop on the escort any longer; he was quite sober yesterday; he did not take any drink to my knowledge; we arrived in Orange about seven o'clock last night, and delivered the mail bags to the postmaster, when deceased got out of the coach at the post-office; he got in again, and we started for Mr. Dalton's inn, where we usually put up; on turning the corner at the Commercial Bank, I heard the report of firearms; I inquired where it came from, and was told deceased was shot; I was sitting on the box seat; the body was brought down here (Dalton's Inn); I saw the body removed from the coach; I saw that deceased was shot somewhere about the head; I searched him, and found his own revolver on his side in the sheath; I produce deceased's revolver and pouch as I took it from his side; the revolver is loaded in every chamber; I then searched the coach, and found the revolver produced lying in the bottom of it; I examined it and found one chamber discharged; it was senior constable Moran's revolver, and he being wounded could not wear it-could not keep his belt on; deceased only "appeared" distressed in his mind, but did not say anything; he spoke of his wife and children in Sydney, and said this was a very unfit life for him; there had been no dispute; he was a very quiet and well behaved man; you would not hear a word out of him daring the day; the utmost good feeling existed amongst us; the deceased appeared to be a delicate man, but he never complained; the distance from where deceased was shot to Dalton's Inn is very short; Constable Moran told me, before we came to Dalton's that deceased was dead; I sent for Dr. Warren, who, on seeing the body, pronounced the man dead; I found no property upon deceased's person, except one shilling, and a watch, which constable Moran claims as his property.

In 1864, after waiting over two years, the ladies Margaret and Elizabeth Davis of whom Elizabeth was James Condell's betrothed arrived in NSW on the 28th January 1864, on-board the 'Sirocco', 1132 tons under the command of Captain Berriman, and shortly after it was reported that Elizabeth and James Condell married at Sydney in 1864. Elizabeth was twenty years old.
The arrival of Margaret and Elizabeth Davis 1864.

James Condell's career in law enforcement was marked by his pivotal role as a right-hand man to Inspector Sir Frederick Pottinger, particularly in the relentless pursuit of notorious bushrangers such as Frank Gardiner, John Gilbert, John O'Meally, and Ben Hall. This assignment often found Condell in the thick of the Australian bush, navigating the rugged terrain in relentless pursuit of these elusive outlaws.

In addition to his significant role in these high-profile pursuits, Condell was also responsible for the local day-to-day police work in Forbes and its surrounding districts. His duties encompassed a broad spectrum of law enforcement tasks, showcasing his versatility and commitment as an officer.

August 1864 brought a particularly dramatic episode in Condell's career. During one of his many encounters with the bushrangers, he faced a direct attack from Ben Hall himself. This confrontation was a testament to the dangers and unpredictability inherent in policing the Australian bush during this tumultuous period. The encounter with Hall not only underscored the personal risks Condell faced in his line of duty but also highlighted his courage and dedication to maintaining law and order in an era characterized by notorious outlaws and frequent lawlessness. As reported in the 'Bendigo Advertiser':

A party of police, under Sir F. Pottinger, encountered a bushranger, who fired at Sergeant Condell, near Wheogo, yesterday. A regular bush fight took place. A number of shots were exchanged. The police horses got bogged, and the bushranger escaped. The police are still on the track.

The law enforcement landscape in Forbes underwent a significant shift with the removal of Inspector Sir Frederick Pottinger from his post. His replacement was the young and dynamic James Henry Davidson, whose energy and leadership brought a new zeal to the pursuit of justice in the region. Under Davidson's command, Sergeant James Condell, a seasoned and respected member of the police force, continued his dedicated service.

A pivotal moment in both Davidson's and Condell's careers occurred on the morning of May 5, 1865. On this day, they joined forces in a critical operation that culminated in the killing of Ben Hall at Billabong Creek. This event was a decisive moment in the ongoing battle against bushranging in Australia.

The operation at Billabong Creek was not just a notable achievement in law enforcement; it also marked the end of one of the most infamous bushrangers of the time. For Davidson and Condell, their involvement in this operation was a testament to their commitment and effectiveness in their roles. It underscored their significant contributions to upholding law and order in an era riddled with notorious outlaws and public unrest. James Condell gave the following evidence:

I am sergeant of police stationed at Forbes. On Saturday night last, 29th April, I started from Forbes, in company with Sub-inspector Davidson, four constables, and two trackers, in pursuit of the bushrangers—Hall, Gilbert, and Dunn. On the Thursday night following, we observed two horses hobbled in the bush. We watched the horses for about an hour. We then saw a man approach the horses and take the hobbles off, and lead them through the bush for about one hundred and fifty yards. He then hobbled the horses, and let them go. He afterwards proceeded into the scrub, and immediately afterwards we were in formed by the black tracker, Billy Dargan, that he heard him scraping on the ground, as if to make a place for a bed. Sub-inspector Davidson and myself then posted the men in a half-circle on one side, and Sub-inspector Davidson and myself proceeded to the opposite side. Myself, Mr Davidson, and the tracker crept about through the bush in search of his camp. Finding that we could not succeed in discovering the camp we resolved to watch the horses all night, and about six o'clock next morning I saw a man emerge from the scrub into a piece of open country, and walk in the direction of the two horses. When about midway from the camp to the horses, we started in pursuit, and ran about fifty yards before he observed us. He then looked up and saw us: he turned and ran from us. Sub inspector Davidson then called on him to Stand; he looked round and still kept running. Sub-Inspector Davidson then fired at him. Immediately afterwards I saw Hall jump; he still kept running. I then levelled, my rifle at him, covered him fall in the back, and fired. I believe the shot took effect between the shoulders. After this he rolled about, and when running appeared very weak. The tracker then fired with a double barrelled gun, and I believe hit the deceased. We called out for the men stationed on the opposite side. When he saw them emerge from the scrub, he turned and ran in another direction. The men all fired, and I believe most of the bullets hit him. Deceased then ran to a cluster of timber, laid hold of a sapling, and said, "I am wounded; I am dying." The men then fired again, and he immediately rolled over. He threw out his feet convulsively once or twice, and said, "I am dying; I am dying." We all then approached him, and found he was dead.

Sub-Inspector Davidson searched the body, and found £74 in notes, a gold watch, three revolvers capped and loaded, a powder flask with powder, two boxes percussion caps, a bag of bullets, and a quantity of wearing apparel. At his camp we found a saddle and bridle and a pair of blankets. We then packed his body on a saddle, and removed it to our camp, and then to Forbes. I have known the deceased for four years. About three years ago I escorted him as a prisoner to Orange, and saw him frequently afterwards. I identify the body of deceased as that, of Ben Hall.


The death of Ben Hall saw Sergeant Condell promoted to Senior Sergeant.    

Ben Hall reward distribution 1865
At the death of Ben Hall, James Condell and the other troopers led by Insp Davidson were rewarded with £175 for Insp Davidson and £75 for James Condell. After Condell's promotion to Snr Sgt and the bush surrounding Forbes quieter after Hall's demise, Condell was posted to Gundagai where he remained for some time. In 1874, Mrs Condell almost lost her life as reported in the 'The Gundagai Times and Tumut, Adelong and Murrumbidgee District Advertiser' and highlighted the poor quality of the police housing:

Mrs James Condell, on Sunday last, very narrowly escaped receiving serious, if not fatal, injuries. During the heavy thunder shower which fell in the afternoon Mrs Condell went to a chest of drawers in her bed-room for some article, and had just turned away to quit the room when a large mass of the heavy plastering of the ceiling came crashing down on the spot where she had a moment before been standing, portion of it, indeed, touching the skirt of her dress. Her escape may be considered providential; but she, or others, may be less fortunate on a future occasion, and unless the necessary repairs are promptly effected similar casualties are almost certain to happen. It is quite too bad that the members of our police force should be obliged to live in a leaky, uncomfortable, dangerous place, and to run the risk of sustaining accident or injuring their health's, because of the neglect of the department above mentioned. We trust the occurrence we have narrated will cause steps to be taken to place the police barracks in a sound and safe condition. Surely the authorities do not intend to wait until some one is much hurt or killed before doing so.

In 1875, a personal scandal and a violent altercation dramatically altered the trajectory of Senior Sergeant James Condell's life. Despite being married for eleven years, Condell's indiscretions led him into a compromising situation. He found himself captivated by a married woman, Mrs. Paine, and made improper advances towards her, much to her dismay.

This indiscretion culminated in a deadly confrontation with Mrs. Paine's husband, William Paine, who operated a local butcher shop. Enraged by Condell's advances towards his wife, William Paine shot Condell in the head, shoulder, and arm. Amidst his attempt to flee the scene, Condell also severely injured his right ankle while jumping over a fence.

A doctor was promptly summoned to attend to Condell's wounds. While his injuries were severe, taking five weeks to heal, they were not life-threatening. The incident caused a sensation in the town of Gundagai, drawing attention not only to Condell's unbecoming conduct but also to the violent response it provoked.

William Paine, in the aftermath of the shooting, was arrested and charged with attempted murder. The case, already a subject of public intrigue, took another twist when Paine managed to escape custody while awaiting trial. This dramatic escape added yet another layer to the unfolding drama, further entrenching the incident in the local lore of Gundagai:

The sergeant attributes that this savage assault is owing to an old grudge Paine was arrested, but he escaped from the lockup, and after a somewhat smart chase was recaptured. Dr McKillop is of opinion that the wounds are not fatal others surmise that, the green-eyed monster had something to do with it.

Following all the evidence presented, a summary of the events appeared in the press:

The Gundagai Shooting Case. — It will be in the recollection of our readers that a man named William Paine, residing at Gundagai, was committed for trial at the recent Circuit Court held at Wagga Wagga on two counts. First for having on the night of the 1st of July last discharged firearms at Senior Sergeant James Condell of the Gundagai police force, with intent to murder him. Second with having unlawfully wounded the same person. The case has been tried and the prisoner was acquitted of both charges. Mr Butler defended the accused, and submitted the Senior Sergeant to a rigid cross examination, touching some letters alleged to have been sent by him to prisoner's wife for improper purposes. The evidence of this officer of police in the witness-box was so highly unsatisfactory as to elicit a rebuke from the learned judge who presided at the Court.

For the defence it was pleaded that the prisoner was justified in defending his wife from the attack of Condell, a view which the jury accepted. It is thought that Mr Condell is not a desirable person to retain in the police force, and readers should not be surprised if Mr Superintendent Singleton recommended his dismissal. Husbands can stand a great deal of annoyance, but the most exemplary of the class cannot be expected to behave quiescent, whilst his better bait was being subjected to brutal insults. It is to be hoped that this example will not be lost upon those gentlemen of licentious propensities, particularly married men, like Mr Senior Sergeant Condell of Gundagai. — Border Post.

The repercussions of James Condell's personal indiscretions led to a significant turning point in his career. His obsession with a married woman and the subsequent scandalous events compelled him to resign from the NSW Police service. This resignation marked the end of over 15 years of dedicated, honest, and brave service, during which Condell had played a crucial role in law enforcement.

Condell's tenure with the police force was marked by his active involvement in perilous pursuits, notably the manhunt for Ben Hall and his gang. He had survived numerous attacks and gunfights with the notorious Lachlan bushrangers in the early 1860s, showcasing his courage and commitment to maintaining law and order. His contributions during this tumultuous period had been significant, reflecting his resilience and bravery in the face of danger.

However, the personal scandal overshadowed his commendable professional track record, leading to an unfortunate and premature end to his law enforcement career. This chapter in Condell's life serves as a stark reminder of how personal actions can have profound professional consequences, especially in positions of public trust and responsibility.


Following his resignation from the NSW Police service, Senior Sergeant James Condell transitioned into a new phase of his professional life. He was appointed as the Inspector of Conditional Purchases within the Forestry Department at Narrandera, a role that marked a significant shift from his previous law enforcement duties.

In this capacity, Condell continued to serve the community in a different realm, contributing his skills and experience to the management and oversight of land purchases within the forestry sector. This position allowed him to remain engaged in public service, albeit in a less conspicuous and tumultuous field compared to his days in the police force.

Condell's journey through life's ups and downs came to a close at the age of 69. His passing marked the end of a life that had been rich in both achievement and controversy. Throughout his career, whether as a law enforcer in pursuit of bushrangers or as an inspector in the Forestry Department, Condell left a lasting impact on the communities he served. His life story, encompassing both his professional accomplishments and personal challenges, remains a compelling narrative in the history of Australian public service. As reported:(see article below.)


Although this eulogy states that James Condell was 63 evidence
points to this being incorrect.
Detective Constable Patrick Lyons

The definition of Bravery: the quality that allows someone to do things that are dangerous or frightening: Detective Patrick Lyons had bravery in spades, his commitment to his work as a detective in the NSW police as well as the formative years of the newly reorganised New South Wales police force was outstanding, during a period of Australian history where the juggernaut of bushranging festered in the NSW Western Districts and Goldfields. Patrick Lyons was one of the many policemen at the forefront of justice.
Arrival
Patrick Lyons was born in County Mayo, Ireland in 1832, moving to Clonbervie, Kincardine, Scotland where he joined the constabulary and was initially stationed at Brailsford, Derbyshire, England. Whilst stationed at Brailsford, Lyons answered an advertisement calling for Police for the colony of NSW. Lyons duly applied and was accepted, arriving from England on-board the migrant ship 'Exodus', 1237 tons, under the command of Capt. Owen Evens with Osborne Johnson, the superintending surgeon. The 'Exodus' sailed from Liverpool on 21st April 1855 to the Colony of NSW, arriving at Port Jackson on 26th July 1855.
Arrival per the Exodus
However, Lyons' arrival in Sydney was an inauspicious introduction to the colony, a result of which, the new constable became embroiled in a sensational court case brought by the government when out of the 100 new police recruited, 42 of them refused to be sworn in as they were dissatisfied with their conditions of employment regarding their living arrangements for both married and single recruits, as before they departed from England they had been informed that suitable living conditions would be supplied. Therefore, the men held firm in their refusal to, "be sworn in until the terms on which they were to serve were reduced to writing." (See article right.) Furthermore, one of those men who had arrived on board the Exodus, Mr Swyny, who was not a part of the group, including Lyons, dissatisfied with the conditions had been sworn in and was made a Sergeant. At the police court, Swyny gave evidence in support of the disgruntled immigrant police, stated:

He distinctly swore that Mr. Hampden (Govenment agent in England) had promised him and others, that the single men would be provided with lodgings at 2s., and the married men with rooms at a corresponding rate. 

However, Captain McLerie, then in charge of the recruitment took a hard line towards the reluctant signers and responded in an attempt to portray the men who had been holding out for the promised conditions as petulant by stating;

That the last lot of police who came out were under a similar impression to these men, but upon his (Captain McLerie's) pointing out the Government were erecting barracks for them, and those men had stuck to their work and had done their duty honestly and honourably like men, and were the most efficient they ever had in Sydney. 
Following protracted court appearances the recruited officers stubbornness soon broke down into farce with threats of prosecution by John McLerie, against the men if they continued objecting to taking their oath of office as per the contracts they had entered into. The prospective police realised that once the oath was taken, recourse to their conditions of employment could be lost. Under this threat, Patrick Lyons was one who stuck to his guns. This came to a head when on the 14th August the policemen from the Exodus had another hearing so;

That they might reconsider their conduct, and in the event of their persistence in refusing to take the oath of office, they will be committed.

As the tussle between the recruits and government played out and to prevent any of the recalcitrant recruits from obtaining interim work the 42 prospective officers were blacklisted by the Government with an advertisement placed in the newspapers of the day; "cautioning anyone in the community of employing them." including Patrick Lyons. (See article left.)     

To counter the Inspector-General's efforts to prevent the employment of the 42 officers, they themselves place an advertisement seeking work.(see article right.) By the end of August 1855, four weeks after arrival a suitable arrangement was finally achieved that suited most of the 42 who then signed the oath and joined the NSW constabulary including Patrick Lyons. 

Patrick Lyons commenced his police duties and was stationed in Sydney and in 1859 was promoted to detective. Det. Lyons was soon involved in one of his first court cases when called a witness in insolvency against a Mr Camillo Valenti, an Italian. It was reported in the 'Sydney Morning Herald', 6th October 1859, where Bathurst magistrate, Dr Palmer, in evidence deposed that;

In consequence ot information received, he went to the last witness' house, and saw the bag opened in his presence; it contained the amount of money already stated £565; witness locked the bag, put his seal to it, and forwarded it to Sydney". Patrick Lyons, a detective officer in the Sydney police, deposed to having arrested the prisoner on the 20th May. When witness arrested him he said he did so on a charge of fraudulent insolvency. Prisoner replied he did not know what he (witness) arrested him for. The end of the trial his Honor summed up, and the jury, after a few minutes' consultation, found the prisoner guilty. In reply to the usual question the prisoner made a long statement, in which he endeavoured to show that he was innocent of the offence for which he had been convicted; but the greater part of it was unintelligible, owing to its being spoken in broken English. Valenti was then sentenced to be imprisoned in Parramatta gaol for the space of three years.

Kiandra late 1800's
In a short space of time Lyons was transferred to the new hot spot of unrest in the colony, the newly discovered goldfield at Lambing Flat, 80 miles from Bathurst and were with the flood of Chinese miners the goldfield was simmering with unrest, from Lambing Flat, Lyons was sent to another lawless frontier, Kiandra in the Snowy Mountains. Lyons arrived in Kiandra at the end of October 1860 and went straight into action bringing law and order to the wilds of the Snowy region and the many goldfields springing up such as the ''Nine-Mile,'' ''The American Gully,'' "Rocky Plains,'' the ''River Bend,'' and other rushes. Lyons' was tough on any who crossed the line to lawlessness instigating a form of justice that was seen to be that predicated on not to taking a backward step, and on the 29th November 1860 made his presence felt at Kiandra when he was charged for 'Malicious Assault' against one James Dawes; 'Sydney Morning Herald':

JAMES DAWES v P. LYONS -Plaintiff endeavoured to prove a ease of malicious assault committed by defendant, a detective in the police force, at Bond's Hotel, Kiandra. He called Bond as a witness, who materially disproved his assertions, saying that if Lyons had struck him with a 'Whip' he must have seen it. Case dismissed.

Kiandra Mail Coach c. 1860's
Kiandra's crime was no different from the other parts of the western and southern NSW districts, and Lyons was in the thick of it, arresting sheep stealers, petty thieves, highway robbers and resolving mining claim fights and even investigating a murder. At Lambing Flat tensions between European gold miners and the Celestial's as the Chinese were referred to were coming ahead. Mining committees were formed to eradicate the Celestial's and as such Detective Lyons was returned to the Flat arriving on the 13th February 1861. Lyons' arrival was reported in the press, as stated;

Detective Lyons arrived from Kiandra last evening. The foot police have not yet arrived, although much wanted. The state of society is anything but safe. The rain has done much good.

Celestials Lambing Flat c. 1860
The Celestial question was causing great consternation amongst the miners, and in the short term, some of the attacks by European miners upon the Chinese diggers were beyond the police's control. This appeared in the press on the 16th February 1861;

At present quietude reigns in reference to that particularly vexed question-ie. the quiet endurance, or the utter ejection of the pig tailed fraternity, alias John Chinamen. Yet is there ground for apprehension of far more serious disturbances than any which have yet been here witnessed, in the reports that are circulating, to the effect that these diggings are to be infested with these (to the European diggers) intolerable nuisances, to the number of five thousand, under trooper protection. Should such an over-riding of the wishes and interests of the whole of the digging community occur, then I fear that the consequences will be such as to cause universal regret and leave the Government much to answer for. Doubtless, the Executive is in a dilemma, owing to the culpable apathy with which it and the preceding cabinets have sleepily tolerated the introduction into the colony, and the settlement upon the diggings of hordes of Tartars-aliens in every sense. But, assuredly, they will not find their way out of it by compulsorily imposing upon "white men" a further endurance of the pest. I would fain believe that so wilful a disregard of the peace and well-being of this populous community will not be manifested by either the Government or its subordinates.

The police were being overwhelmed with crime and as such crimes committed on the goldfield were at times dealt with by the miners themselves without police intervention as reported in the 'Empire' February 1861 as follows;

The cry of "Help-murder," has resounded through the stillness of the night; then arose the cry of ''Roll up, roll up," " Hold him," and last, not least, of "Vigilance Committee, to the rescue;" then men were heard in the darkness of the night, running from all quarters; a pursuit was led off in the direction of which the stickers up, who had attempted to rob and to steal a horse from a young man, passing homeward,- had decamped. A neighbouring shanty was visited, where, by the lights, it was to be seen that some of the diggers had armed themselves with sticks, one or two carried firearms. The youth who had been attacked was bleeding from the mouth.

A Goldfield c. 1860's
One tent where there were a married man and his wife, was visited on account of some desperate and extensive robberies that, it was well known, had been committed by a ruffian who was harboured there. When the mob arrived a few of the number, who had picks and shovels with them, commenced digging a hole, which, from its shape and dimensions, gave indications that it was intended for a grave. The dismay of the guilty parties may well be imagined. One of the diggers who acted as spokesman appealed to the others whether the male offender did not deserve the punishment he was about to meet with. A cordial assent was given, and the work of sinking the grave was proceeded with. When it was ready to receive its victim, an appeal was made to save the husband on account of his wife, and after some consultation, a few spades full of earth were thrown into the grave as a token that the "burying alive" was then abandoned, but the hole was left unfilled in, as a warning that unless the parties got rid of the man they had been harbouring, the ground still remained prepared to receive the husband.

These particulars have been furnished by a person on whose veracity we have every reason to rely. We do not for a moment suppose that the diggers ever intended to carry their threats to an extremity, but were desirous to instill into the minds of those who were harbouring thieves and vagabonds that their conduct was watched, and would not be tolerated...", "the news was soon spread amongst the diggers, and, as is known already, it was not long before that as well as other harbours for thieves was soon levelled with the ground. The fact of one of these species of shanties having given shelter to vagabonds of this class, led to the demolition of all kindred buildings, and the work of destruction was carried on with good order, and even good humour.

A Sly Grog shop.
With tensions rising the government sent an additional 50 troopers to the Flat, but the real scourge of the goldfield was the shanties and the desperate characters who haunted them providing non-stop work for the detective force, this was reported in the Empire February 1861:

Our police arrangements are somewhat on a scale with the amount of population. We have nearly fifty of the mounted patrol (but most of these are only temporarily located here); three active detectives in Messrs Carnes, Scarlett, and Lyons; and I bear that Mr. Inspector Singleton, with a foot force of twelve men, is to arrive shortly. It has been semi-officially noticed that after Monday next (the 11th), the police will pounce on all persons selling liquor without a license. Of course, there will be a few conviction, but I think it will be utterly impossible to suppress the illegal disposal of grog. As on all other diggings, there are certain shanties that should be put down-not because drink is sold there, but because they are harbours for desperate characters, and the owners "put up" half the robberies and share the booty. All these excesses and vices die out in time; they thrive only so long as the diggings are novel and the population only partially set into work. As soon as the feverish excitement is over, everything becomes as orderly as is a town.

The workload for the detectives was enormous and at times to achieve a court outcome evidence provided by the detectives including Lyons might be embellished slightly as in the case of three women charged by Lyons for stealing £15, the presiding magistrate was not convinced of the testimony of Lyons and stated on the 29th May 1861:

On dismissing the witness (Lyons), the Chairman told him that he had grossly misconducted himself while giving his evidence, that he did not believe a word of what he had said, and that the manner in which he had given his testimony was discreditable to himself, and calculated to bring disgrace on the force of which he is a member.

Detective Lyons next appears in court in Sydney at the Central Criminal Court Darlinghurst to give evidence against two men, Heron and Collins, charged with Assault with Intent to Murder, at Lambing Flat. it was reported in the 'Sydney Morning Herald' on the 6th June 1861;

The case was thus stated: Two persons named Andrews and Quinn were, on the night of the 20th February, proceeding from the township of Lambing Flat to a place in the locality-Blackguard Gully. Whilst on their way and at some short distance from Lambing Flat, they were overtaken by three men whom they had passed and spoken to. Some short time afterwards the same three men overtook Andrews and Quinn and commenced upon them a murderous attack. They were beaten with sticks, knocked to the ground senseless, and lying in a pool of blood, and Quinn's scalp nearly torn off by the violence to which he had been subjected. Before the victims were quite senseless they perceived that the men by whom they were assaulted were looking round for a waterhole into which to throw them. Apparently, they were lifeless and must have been left by prisoners as dead men, as they could scarcely expect other results from such violence. The head of Quinn was so beaten that the scalp slipped off, and he was lying in a pool of blood. It was said that Quinn had been to some extent instrumental in suppressing sly grog selling, and hence might arise some enmity. The identity of prisoners would be proved in evidence.

After the charges were read and the bulk of evidence provided, Detective Lyons was called and stated:

I am a detective constable and was stationed at Lambing Flat in February last, I was in company with inspector Carnes when Quinn and Andrews were found; we went that morning to Blackguard Gully; I apprehended Heron and Collins; they were laying bed in a tent; on Heron's bed after taking them into custody, I found two pair of trousers, the legs of one pair covered with blood. On Collins's bed, I found a poncho coat spotted with blood on the sleeves; there was also pair of boots also spotted with blood; I marked these things, and should know them again; where Quinn and Andrews were found I picked up several heavy sticks covered with blood; I think the blood marks were recent from their fresh appearance.

The result was Guilty, and the judge summed up the case and passed sentence, as follows:

His Honor said it was fortunate for prisoners that they had not been indicted for robbing and wounding, or with such a verdict they would have been liable to the penalty of death. But if ever there was a crime of abominable barbarity, short of taking away life, and which called for heavy punishment, this was one. He felt ashamed that there should be such monsters in human shape. Scalping by New Zealanders or torturing by American savages had the excuse of their want of civilised humanity, but even their victims suffered only in the heat of war or in the order of savage custom. But here was a man knocked down with a bludgeon, his scalp by unnumbered blows cut into strips, fingers smashed, and body bruised, probably for the sake of a few pounds. The punishment which would he inflicted upon prisoners, he trusted, would be a terrible example to others. Prisoners were severally sentenced to fifteen years hard labour on the roads or other public works of the colony.

Thursday 6th September 1861, a coach with government officials on board including the Inspector-General of Police, Captain M'Lerie came to grief whilst crossing a rapidly flooding creek near the Yass township, the event was reported in the 'Illawarra Mercury', and the plight of the coach displays an episode of selfless bravery that nearly cost Detective Patrick Lyons his life, as stated;

Misadventure of the Burrangong Coach.— On Friday evening last, while Messrs. Crane and Hubert's coach was on its way into Yass, and in crossing Barber's Creek, which was very much swollen by the previous night's rain, the vehicle stuck fast in the centre, and the horses were carried off their feet. All the exertion of the coachman, who is a first-rate whip, assisted by the passengers, were unavailing to extricate the coach from its position, at that time so perilous to the passengers, among whom were Colonel Kempt, Captain McLerie, Inspector-General of the Police, and the adjutant of the 12th Regiment. These three gentlemen managed to get over the Creek, but the vehicle still remained in its difficulty. The Colonel and party tramped it into Yass, crossing Junes Creek above their middle in water, On arriving in town, detective Scarlett and Lyons were apprised of the position in which the coach had been left and immediately started with Devoy, of the other line of the Lambing Flat coaches, with four horses, for the purpose of extricating the vehicle if possible. On arriving at the Creek, detective Lyons attempted to cross it, but the horse on which he was mounted was carried many yards down by the flood and turned over three times before it got out of the stream. Lyons had a narrow escape of drowning and was struck on the side by one of the animal's hoofs. Ultimately a rope was passed to the vehicle, and it was pulled out backwards by the united exertions of six horses. Of course, the position of the coachman before the unexpected aid arrived can be more easily imagined than described. The two police officers are deserving of much praise for their voluntary exertion in this affair. — Yass Courier.

In November 1861, Detective Lyons' life as a Bachelor came to an end when he married a Miss Sarah J Marshall at St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney. The start of the year 1862 saw the commencement of the reorganisation of the NSW Police Force with the introduction of the New Police Bill put before parliament at the end of 1861, with the following comment in the 'Queanbeyan Age and General Advertiser' 5th December 1861;

The principal features of the new bill are, the centralisation of the whole force, under the direction of one head; the division of the colony into new and fewer districts; the organisation of mounted constabulary, in addition to the maintenance of an adequate foot force; and the officering of the whole by an inspector, sub-inspectors, and sergeants for each district. The cost of maintaining this force, and the number of men employed; will be about the same as at present. It would be impossible, within the limits just, now, at our command, to show the full advantages to be derived from the contemplated change;- but while we know that the proposed system of centralisation has worked well in other countries, we have every reason to believe in its adaptability to the requirements of our own. By its operations, old abuses will be effectually checked, while it is scarcely possible that new ones at least of an equally objectionable character can be introduced. A glance will enable us to perceive the objects to be achieved by the formation of a strong body: of 'mounted' constabulary which properly equipped, will be something like a match for the villains who now with impunity molest the peaceable traveller, rob the mails, and drive off the unprotected stock of the industrious settler. The bill presenting these advantages has passed its second reading in the Assembly.

Promotion of Lyons.
Note; Edmund Parry who was killed
by Gilbert 1864.
The Police Regulation Act passed the NSW Parliament. From the 1st March 1862, all existing police force branches combined to create the NSW Police Force with former Army Captain, John McLerie as Inspector General of Police. A new rank structure was established, and as a result, Detective Lyons was promoted to First Class Detective. The following extract is from the 'Goulburn Herald' 12th March 1862;

LOCAL AND PROVINCIAL POLICE ARRANGEMENTS. - The old government Hue and Cry is now abolished, and instead, we have a Police Gazette, similar to that published in the colony of Victoria, It is issued every Wednesday and forwarded to all the police stations in New South Wales, and to the principal police stations in the adjacent colonies, and is compiled by the inspector of the detective force and published at the office of the inspector-general. The first number was published on Wednesday. By it, will be found that the colony is divided into nine police districts. The metropolitan district is sub-divided into four divisions, A, B, C, and D, and consists of the metropolis and neighbourhood; this is under the control of the inspector-general, with sub-inspectors Read and Black. The south-eastern district or F division include Goulburn, Yass, Gundagai. Tumit, Binalong, and portions of Albury and Wagga Wagga superintendent, H. Zouch; inspector, E. M. Battye sub-inspector, W. Blenon. The western district, or H division, comprises Bathurst, Orange, Molong, Wellington, Dubbo, Carcoar, Mudgee, and Rylstone: superintendent, E. Morrisset; inspector, Sir F. W. Pottinger; sub-inspectors; J. I. Bruyeres and T. Hogg. The detective force is divided into first and second class detectives. Mr. C. I. Harrison is sub-inspector of detectives; Carnes., Camphin, Scott, Lyons, Scarlett, and Downham belong to the first class; and Elliott, Clarke, Roiston, Swainston, Mc Martin, and Sanderson to the second class.

Frank Gardiner, was at this time making his presence felt around the Lambing Flat area and was not short of recruits for the enterprise of bushranging and on the 10th March 1862 in company with John Gilbert, John O'Meally and Tom MaGuinness robbed two shopkeepers of over £1700 and brought the goldfield into a state of panic over their monetary safety. Within days of the attack on the shopkeepers three of Gardiner's neophytes were encountered at a shanty known as Brewers and Detective Lyons and two other police officers were escorting prisoners by a coach when they were confronted by three known bushrangers one of which was Gardiner's close mate and lieutenant, John Davis, a brief account of the police action follows as well as the bravery of Lyons, as Lyons stared down the barrel of Davis' revolver as the gunfight erupted, taken from the 'Sydney Morning Herald' 12th April 1862; 

LAMBING FLAT. Friday, 11th April 1862,

Sergeant Saunderson with detectives Lyons and Kennedy, left the Lachlan in charge of three prisoners by the coach for Lambing Flat yesterday. On reaching Brewer's Shanty three horsemen with two led horses were observed. The horsemen on seeing the coach bolted, and were followed by the detectives on foot. Suddenly they faced about, went round the coach, and drawing their revolvers, opened fire on the police. Two of the horsemen bolted, but the third, Davis, stood his ground and received four shots from detective Lyons, all of which took effect-one in his thigh, one in his wrist, and the other two in his hand. Davis fell and was immediately pounced upon by detective Lyons, who had already had his right fore-finger cut in two by a shot from Davis' revolver. On the fall of Davis, the prisoners assisted in securing him, and he was brought to Brewer's shanty. Mrs. Brewer received a random shot in the cheek but is not seriously injured.

The horse of the captured bushranger was taken, together with the two led horses, and brought to the camp at Lambing Flat, Davis and his two companions, who galloped away when the firing commenced, are supposed to be three of the men who accompanied Gardiner on Tuesday when they stuck up Mr Pring at the Crowther Station, and afterwards Croaker's Station. At the former place Gardiner, with seven accomplices, stuck up Mr Pring's servants. One of the bushrangers played the piano while the rest danced and drank brandy and water at Mr Pring's expense. At Mr. Croaker's station, one of the bushrangers played the concertina and sang " Ever of thee"  to the host. Sergeant Smith and five troopers are out in chase of the robbers, with a fair chance of capturing them. It is to be regretted that Captain Battye's black trackers have not yet arrived, otherwise, the bushrangers might have been followed to their den.
 

Superintendent Charles Allen Sanderson

Charles Sanderson was born in 1822, in the City of London, close to Temple Bar. In June 1848, he joined the London police under Sir Richard Mayne, a plain-clothes officer during the Chartist Riots, a time of civil unrest, culminating in a massive rally in Kensington Park London. Superintendent Sanderson was on duty during the occasion of the Duke of Wellington's funeral in 1852 when the Duke of Wellington was carried through the streets of London on the same funeral car used for Lord Nelson years before and Churchill over a century later. Charles Sanderson and his wife Susan arrived on board the 'Bangalore' and on arrival Sanderson was employed as a sergeant.

Charles Sanderson and his wife, Susan, arrival.

Sanderson's first position was sergeant was posted to Kiandra. When the riots broke out at Lambing Flat (now Young), he was ordered there with other police including Detective Lyons.

Shortly afterwards, riots occurred at Forbes, and he helped to quell them. Sanderson was described as:

There was need of men like Sanderson to steady the police force at a time when constables were hard to recruit and harder to keep, the scourge of criminals, as brave as a bulldog, and completely lacking in imagination, as a good policeman should be. There was need of men like Sanderson to steady the police force at a time when constables were hard to recruit and harder to keep - for who would be a policeman at 5s. 6d. a day when fortunes were being made by diggers from the golden gravel? Dozens of constables had deserted their posts during the decade of golden glory. The substitutes, hastily recruited to cope with the ever-expanding population and increase of crime, were seldom satisfactory. Many a constable was dismissed for drunkenness and other vices. A policeman's lot was "not a happy one" in New South Wales.

Lambing Flat riots 1861
On the 15th August 1862, Sanderson was promoted from Sergeant to Sub Inspector after his success during Frank Gardiner and his comrades, and other bushrangers demise. Sub Inspector Sanderson played a prominent part, his police work helping in no small degree to rid the country of these desperadoes. In the Eugowra gold escort robbery on June 15, 1862, Gardiner and Gilbert and six others including Ben Hall were concerned, Sergeant Sanderson recovered the 1289 oz of gold stolen from the coach and was involved in the capture of four of the bushrangers. It was noted in the 'Sydney Mail' June 1862 of the great efforts and duty to the Colony of Sanderson:

Senior Sergeant Sanderson. — This officer, who has distinguished himself in recovering one-half of the gold taken from the Lachlan Escort, arrived in this colony as a volunteer from the Loudon police, by the "Bangalore", and shortly after commencing duty in Sydney as & police constable, was promoted by Captain M'Lerie for his general intelligence and efficiency to the rank of acting-sergeant, subsequently to sergeant, and then inspector of the Sydney police, under the former system. On the rush to Kianda, he was detached by the Inspector-General to that place, in charge of the police force sent there, and from Kiandra to the Lambing Flat gold-fields, on the rush taking place there. On the discovery of gold at the Lachlan, he was removed from Lambing Flat to that place, and his whole career, as an officer of police in this colony, has been such as to gain for him the confidence of his superiors and the public, and this last act of duty will no doubt entitle him to a recommendation to the Government for further promotion in the service.
February 1863 Sub Inspector Sanderson gave evidence at the Special Criminal Commission and recounted his efforts in tracking the villains, this is that account:

On the Thursday morning following he robbery I was near the Wheogo Mountains, on my search; I was near to the house of a man named Hall; McGuire’s house was about 300 or 400 yards from Hall's house; I went to Hall's house ; I wanted to see one of the Hall's; he was not in; I went on towards McGuire’s house; as I went I saw a horseman coming towards me from the Wheoga Mountains, in the direction of Hall's or McGuire’s house; when be caught sight of me he turned round and bolted into the mountains; I followed him with my party; by the aid of our black tracker we got on the tracks; we followed him by roundabout course up to the top of the Wheogo Mountain; the top of the mountain was about a mile and a half from McGuire’s place; 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; I found the lop of the hill very stony, end consequently very difficult to keep the track; we lost it for a time; in about a quarter of an hour it was found by the black tracker, and we proceeded on it a distance of about twenty or twenty-six miles, through a dense scrub; the black tracker rode a white horse; as far as I could judge the man who evaded me at the foot of the Wheogo Mountain rode a bright bay horse; we found the track of several horses; I could not say how many; one of them was shod; we followed in these tracks about twenty-five miles; when we came upon a shod horse with a pack on his back; the pack contained a bag with 1239 ounces of gold, a bag similar to that which I saw put into the escort which started on Sunday, 15th June, from Forbes.
   
Promotion following recovery
of the Gold from the Eugowra
robbery.
NSW Police Gazette.
A year later, when the mailman (Crotty by name) who carried the mails between Marengo and Lambing Flat was shot by a Frenchman named Robardy, he tracked the latter for 300 miles and arrested him at Forbes where Charles Robardy and Auguste Rivet were placed in the dock, charged with the wilful murder of Daniel Crotty, the Marengo mailman, on or about the 16th of August 1862. Charles Sanderson, being duly sworn, stated;

I am sub inspector of police stationed in Forbes; I arrested the prisoner Robardy at the Harp of Erin Hotel, Rankin street, Forbes, on suspicion of being implicated in the murder of Daniel Crotty, on the 16th August last; he gave his name as Henry Charles Robardy, and denied ever having been on Lambing Flat; the following morning he admitted he had been on the Flat; I arrested prisoner on the 11th of last month.

After the apprehension, Crotty's body had to be exhumed for a post-mortem to be carried out as reported in the 'Sydney Mail';

The Murder of Crotty, the Mailman. — On Saturday morning, Dr. Wilkinson, of this township, went to Burrowa, pursuant to instructions from headquarters, to exhume the body of Daniel Crotty, Marengo mailman, who is supposed to have been murdered by two men on the Burrowa road, about five weeks ago. The doctor had a most disgusting duty to perform. He appears, nevertheless, to have performed it with skill, and most successfully, for he discovered that the man had been shot, and that the ball had entered one of the temporal bones drilling it without fracturing or smashing it, and afterwards passed through the occiput, which it had splintered in a dreadful manner. The man must have been on his knees when the muzzle of the pistol was held to his temple and discharged, for the ball passed downwards, and is doubtless lodged in the earth. That the poor man was brutally murdered there can be no doubt, and the evidence of the doctor will be conclusive. Yet we should recommend a search in the earth for the ball, as it must lie near where the body was found. It cannot be far below the surface, as from the fracture of the occipital bone, it is evident that the bullet had nearly split itself before passing through the head. It is a matter of wonder to us that the coroner of the district of Burrowa did not hold an inquest, as he was in July bound to do, at the proper time. By his neglect, the ends of justice might have been completely defeated, and the murderers allowed to escape. To say the least of it, it appears inconsistent to bury a man as if he had been accidentally killed, and treat his body accordingly, and then apprehend two men on the charge of murdering him.-Burrangong Courier, October 1, 1862. 

Robardy was hanged for the murder on 16th May, 1863:

THE MURDER OF THE MARENGO MAILMAN. - The Government have fixed the 13th of May for the execution of Charles Robardy, who was sentenced to death at the late assizes at Goulburn, for the murder of the Marengo mailman. It is a singular coincidence that the prisoner's birthday should have been fixed for his execution; Charles Robardy, the murderer of Daniel Crotty, was hung in Goulburn gaol on Wednesday morning last. The unhappy man displayed much firmness and resignation. 

Ben Hall's hunt was extremely frustrating for the police as the populace continued in many quarters to maintain their Cone of Silence. Sanderson also felt the police's frustration and the lack of willing help from the locals in forwarding information that may help curb the bushrangers. In June his frustration came to a head when drunkenly he attacked an accommodation house of a Margaret Allport in Forbes. Sanderson was subsequently charged, to front court over the matter. The court case is as follows;
Bell's Life in Sydney and Sporting Chronicle
Saturday 11th July 1863
THE MODEL POLICE FORCE AGAIN.

Supt. C. A. Sanderson
c. 1896.
The 'Lachlan Miner' of June 24 summarised the rather amusing account of inspector Sanderson dealing with those stonewalling him. It appears the gallant inspector arrived at Margaret Allport's boarding house drunk threatening to burn it down. At first, he said, he was Ben Hall, then O'Mealley; he broke in the door, smashed some crockery and then made a tour of inspection through the sleeping rooms, whereby dragging one man out of bed by the hair, &c. The bench, however, did not believe that Mr Sanderson intended to burn the house, and decided that the action was stale from effluxion of time, as three weeks had elapsed, and concluded by this remarkable observation:

The police had a very onerous duty to perform, and, in carrying out their instructions, did no doubt at times bring about some in convenience. The defendant paid for the crockery..." If the onerous duty of the police consists in following Sanderson's example we think the sooner they are relieved of it the better. The bench made an order for 13s, the amount of the damage; and 8s 6d, the costs of court. 

Despite his court infraction, Charles Sanderson rapidly rose through the ranks to the first-class superintendent, an office he held for 20 years. In 1878 he was ordered to Narrabri to form a new district out of portions of the Tamworth and Bourke districts, and after remaining there four and a half years, he relieved Superintendent Garland at Tamworth. Fourteen months later he succeeded Superintendent Morrissett at Maitland, and in 1884 he came to Bathurst, where he succeeded Superintendent Lydiard. He had been out of Sydney for 40 years and received “marching orders” 15 times. He had served under three officers, Captains Mayne and M'lerie, and Inspector-General Fosbery. His district takes in from Penrith to as far west as Coonamble and Quambone, and he had five inspectors working the different portions of the district, namely, at Dubbo, Orange, Forbes, Mudgee, and Bathurst. Superintendent Sanderson, retired from the police force of New South Wales in 1902, after serving as one of the oldest officers in the service, his career extending over a period of 54 years.

Superintendent Charles Allen Sanderson, died at his home in Ashfield, on Saturday the 4th of January 1919. He was 96.


Captain
 Edward Montague Battye
Captain Edward Montague Battye

Captain Edward Montague Battye, a figure of notable distinction and adventure, passed away on July 12, 1898, at the age of 82, leaving behind a legacy intertwined with the early history of the colony. Born on March 29, 1817, at Rougham Hall in Suffolk, England, to Mr. George Battye of Campden Hill, Kensington, London, Captain Battye's life was marked by a series of prestigious positions and remarkable experiences.

Educated at Wandsworth and Brighton, he shared a tutor with Prince George of Cambridge, with whom he maintained a lifelong friendship. At just 15, he joined the Royal Household as a page to Queen Adelaide, where he quickly became a favorite. His association with the royal family left him with fond memories and significant tokens, including a silver tablet book gifted by Queen Adelaide and a £100 annual pension enjoyed until his passing.

Captain Battye's military career commenced with a commission in the 18th Lancers, followed by a transfer to the 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers, where he attained the rank of captain. His military journey took him to Canada in 1837 under Colonel Harrison. In Canada, he was appointed staff drill adjutant for local corps, including five battalions, a demanding role he executed with distinction. His participation in the Canadian rebellion as aide-de-camp to Sir William Williams further highlighted his military prowess.

In 1840, he married the daughter of Captain Walford of the 64th Regiment in Halifax, where he received his company. His journey then led him to New South Wales as aide-de-camp to his uncle, General Wynyard. Upon arrival, he temporarily assumed the role of Adjutant-General during Colonel Munday's absence.

Arrival with family,
 note spelling
Batty

The outbreak of the gold rush in 1851 saw Captain Battye, along with Mr. J. R. Hardy, called upon to reorganise the police force. He formed a corps of mounted men for gold escort and patrol service, with headquarters at Parramatta, leading to many thrilling adventures. By 1855, he was in Bathurst, where he was appointed superintendent of the western patrol amid the turbulent Turon fields gold mining. His active role in this period involved numerous conflicts with bushrangers, a testament to his dedication and bravery.

In 1862, with the introduction of the new police system, Captain Battye became the Inspector of Police at Young, also known as Lambing Flat. His effective leadership there was instrumental in capturing the Hartley and Mudgee mail robbers. His service in this role earned him a testimonial from the Bank of New South Wales. Battye at one point held Frank Gardiner in custody for horse theft. However due to confusion as to his identity Gardiner was freed. Battye's efforts in the gold district were commended by the local miners.

Later, he was appointed Superintendent of the Cooma and Monaro district and then the Murray district, with headquarters at Albury. He remained in this position until his superannuation in 1893, with a pension. In 1890, he celebrated his golden wedding anniversary, receiving tributes from the community for his and Mrs. Battye's contributions.

Formal Jacket and Pill-Box Cap
as worn by Capt. Battye.

Courtesy Justice and Police Museum.

In his final years, Captain Battye resided in North Sydney in peaceful retirement with his family. His death marked the end of a generation known for military achievement. He was survived by his widow, children, grandchildren, and a wide circle of friends.

His funeral, held at St. Thomas' Church of England cemetery in North Sydney, was a well-attended event, with the NSW Police band playing solemn tributes. The presence of the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. E. Fosbery, and many long-standing police officers, some of whom were his comrades, was a testament to the high regard and affection in which Captain Battye was held. His life and career remain a remarkable story of dedication, service, and achievement in the annals of colonial history.

Superintendent Henry Zouch (1811-1883)

Henry Zouch, a distinguished figure in early Australian history, was born on August 18, 1811, in Quebec, Canada. He was the eldest son of Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Zouch of the 10th Royal Veteran Battalion and his second wife, Ann Ritchie. Zouch's early education took place at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, between 1826 and 1828. His military career began with his commission as an ensign in the 4th (King's Own) Regiment on November 10, 1826. In February 1827, he arrived in Sydney aboard the ship Midas. Onboard was  the father a convict of a future adversary Ben Hall.
Appointment, October 1834.

Zouch's military career saw steady advancement; he was promoted to lieutenant on July 1, 1833. From October 1 of the following year, he commanded the first division of the Mounted Police at Bathurst. In 1835, Zouch led a party of troopers to establish the murder of botanist Richard Cunningham by Aboriginals. Recognized for his service, he was appointed a magistrate on October 7, 1835. Zouch married Maria Brooks, the youngest daughter of Captain Richard Brooks, on December 29, 1836, at Holy Trinity Church, Kelso near Bathurst.

Zouch's career took a turn in 1851 when he became an assistant commissioner of crown lands for the gold districts, based on the Lower Turon. His administration during this time, especially his handling of the Goldfields Management Act, was pivotal in maintaining public peace. In 1853, he returned to Goulburn to assume the role of superintendent of police for the Mounted Patrol in the southern districts, including the Gundagai and Braidwood gold escorts.

Zouch's bravery and leadership were particularly evident during the anti-Chinese riots at Lambing Flat in 1860 and 1861. On June 30, 1861, he commanded a charge against miners attempting to storm the police quarters, a decision that led to a withdrawal to Yass to prevent further violence.

In March 1862, Zouch was appointed superintendent of police for the south-eastern district under the new Police Regulation Act. His tenure was marked by his effective management of bushranger activities, especially Ben Hall's gang. His discreet, courageous approach earned him high praise in parliament and established him as one of the most efficient officers in the public service.


Zouch's career took a turn in 1851 when he became an assistant commissioner of crown lands for the gold districts, based on the Lower Turon. His administration during this time, especially his handling of the Goldfields Management Act, was pivotal in maintaining public peace. In 1853, he returned to Goulburn to assume the role of superintendent of police for the Mounted Patrol in the southern districts, including the Gundagai and Braidwood gold escorts.

Zouch's bravery and leadership were particularly evident during the anti-Chinese riots at Lambing Flat in 1860 and 1861. On June 30, 1861, he commanded a charge against miners attempting to storm the police quarters, a decision that led to a withdrawal to Yass to prevent further violence.

In March 1862, Zouch was appointed superintendent of police for the south-eastern district under the new Police Regulation Act. His tenure was marked by his effective management of bushranger activities, especially Ben Hall's gang. His discreet, courageous approach earned him high praise in parliament and established him as one of the most efficient officers in the public service.

Zouch was also an active community member, serving as the founding president of the Goulburn Rifle Club in 1865, a member of the Australian Club, and a local Public School Board member. Notably, he once received an urgent late-night message from a Cobb & Co coach driver, leading to a significant intervention to save a man from the gallows.Mr Richards stated;

SAVED FROM THE GALLOWS.

Mr. Richards told how he saved a woman from the gallows at Goulburn. He had an official letter to deliver to Captain Zouch, who was head of the police at Goulburn. Captain Zouch, who lived two miles from the gaol, told him to wait while he read the contents of the letter.

He was in his pyjamas, said Mr. Richards, "for it was early in the morning. On that day a woman was to be hanged for the murder of her husband. When he read the letter, Captain Zouch shouted to me to drive as fast as I could to the gaol, for the letter I had delivered was a reprieve for the condemned woman.

Not welting to dress, he jumped into the cart. When we reached the gaol, we had only three minutes to spare. The cap was already on the woman's head. "I never saw anyone look so pleased as she when she was told of the reprieve.


Captain Henry Zouch passed away from sunstroke on October 28, 1883, in Goulburn, where he was laid to rest with Anglican rites. He left behind his wife, four sons, three daughters, and a legacy marked by service, courage, and dedication. His personal estate was valued at £4,057 for probate purposes. His life story remains a testament to the challenges and triumphs of early Australian colonial history.

Police Trooper c 1862
(representation only of 
Haviland)
Constable William Haviland. (1827 - 1862)
The first Policeman to die on duty under the New Police Act 1862.

William Haviland, whose life was marked by service and a tragic end, was born in September 1827 in St Nicholas, Gloucestershire, England. His journey into military life began with his enlistment in the Royal Artillery at the age of 20 in 1847, but his service was short-lived, lasting only twelve months due to a reduction in the Army.

In February 1858, Haviland married Sarah Heale at St Nicholas Anglican Church in Winsley, Wiltshire, England. Together, they embarked on a new life, arriving in NSW aboard the 'Oliver Jordan' on July 1, 1858, after setting sail from London on April 30. The 'Oliver Jordan' was a merchant ship of American origin, captained by James Frost with Dr. Mackeller as the ship's surgeon. Haviland's military background soon led him to a position in the NSW Police as a street patrol constable based in Parramatta. The Havilands became parents to two girls, Ellen and Laura. With the introduction of the new police act in March 1862, Haviland joined the Gold Escort, a role that offered higher pay, crucial for a family man like him.

Haviland Arrival 1858. Note James Moyes.

On June 15, 1862, while preparing for a gold shipment from Forbes to Bathurst under Sergeant Condell's supervision, Haviland experienced a life-changing event. As the escort coach approached Eugowra, it was ambushed, leading to injuries among the officers, including Condell and Moran. However, Haviland escaped unscathed.

Following the robbery, Hanbury Clement penned a letter detailing the event and praising Sergeant Condell's composure. Clement noted that Frank Gardiner was the only unmasked member of the gang. The coach, after a tumultuous journey, arrived in Orange, where Haviland assisted with the mailbags. Tthe following is a summary of the attack on the troopers from the 'Empire' dated the 24th June 1862;

A Gold Escort.
Artist unknown.
The escort left Forbes on Sunday morning, under the immediate charge of sergeant Condell, seated on the box alongside the driver, Mr Fagan; the remainder of the escort, three men, were seated in the body of the coach; their names, were senior constable Moran, constable Haviland. The treasure consisted of 2719 ounces of gold, and £3700 in cash; there were also the usual mails, which were heavy. The escort proceeded on its way without any unusual occurrence to warn them of impending danger; at about half-past 4 o'clock, on arriving at Coobong, a distance of 27 miles from Forbes, and immediately in the vicinity of Mr Clement's station, two teams were observed in the roadway no uncommon circumstance. As the coach drew near, it became evident there was but one passage, and that between the obstructing teams, and a mass of broken, perpendicular rocks, overhanging the narrow passage; the peculiarity of the situation never for a moment excited suspicion, but the driver brought his horses into a walk, in order to steer between the drays and the rocks. The coach at this time lay in such a position as that a party under cover of the rocks might pour a destructive fire upon the escort, with impunity; in an instant, six men dressed in red serge shirts, and red nightcaps, with faces blacked, showed themselves from behind a breast-work of rock, and at the word "fire," delivered their bullets with but too much precision. The sergeant was wounded in the side, the driver's hat was perforated with a bullet, senior constable Moran was wounded in the groin; and, as was quite natural, the escort were unnerved at the unexpectedness of the attack. No sooner had the six bushrangers delivered their fire, than they fell back with military precision, and were replaced by five or six others, who delivered their fire, and fell back in turn. The two volleys were the work of an instant. Never was more truly verified the saying that "Every bullet has its billet" for the clothes of the escort were perforated in several places -in the arm, in the legs, and in the side, but the men themselves escaped with comparatively trifling flesh wounds. Sergeant Condell states that he was knocked off the box at the first volley; Mr Fagan jumped off and held the reins, whilst the horses walked on slowly. Corporal Moran and Constable Haviland discharged their carbines at the bushrangers; as for the third constable, nothing appears to be known about him. Senior Sergeant Moran, after discharging his carbine, called upon his comrades to "man their revolvers," when they again exchanged shots with the bushrangers. It would appear that at this point the bushrangers fired at the horses and wounded one of them in the leg, which caused them to bolt. Constable Moran was thrown out upon his back and much injured; and the horses ran in among a lot of broken rocks upsetting the coach. Meanwhile the bushrangers kept up their fire, when, seeing the coach capsized, they began to cheer and rushed down pell-mell to secure their booty. Mr Fagan, who appears to have been much exposed, called out to the ruffians not to shoot him for God's sake; but they took no heed of his cries, and it is probable that but for the fortunate circumstance of the horses bolting every man in the escort would have been ruthlessly murdered. The escort by this time became scattered, and the law of self-preservation came into operation, for every man sought cover from the fire; and just about dark the party re-assembled at Clement's station..."

Mr Clements provided first aid to the wounded troopers then commenced the ride to Forbes to raise the alarm. The Empire newspaper continues; "Mr Clements accomplished the distance-27 miles-on a dark night in three and a half hours; the camp authorities were called up, and Sir Frederick Pottinger with eleven troopers, a couple of black trackers, and a number of volunteers, arrived at the scene of the attack at 3 o'clock on Monday morning Sir Frederick at once ran the traces of the bushrangers down, and shortly after day-light succeeded in finding their camp, some three miles off the road, and at the other side of a lofty ridge. The fire was still in and rag ends of the red shirts worn by the bushrangers on the previous evening were found amongst the embers-thus indicating that they wished to destroy every trace of identity. The empty, gold boxes were found, as also the mail bags with numbers of letters gutted or torn into fragments. Singular to relate, the registered letters had not been touched. The luggage belonging to the escort had been broken open and searched. Gardiner and his "honourable" men are not given to literature during their leisure, for they did not interfere with the newspapers. The result of the robbery may be briefly summed up. All the gold, 2719 ounces, was taken, and, with it, the whole of the cash, £3700. The empty gold boxes, and the letters and newspapers, after being gathered up in a general medley, were brought to Mr Clement's station and placed in the coach, which, with two of the horses, had been recovered.

The troopers fell across the owners of the bullock teams, who had been stuck up by the bushrangers. The unfortunate men state that they had been made to lie upon the ground, face downwards, for several hours; and that whilst the firing was going on between the bushrangers and escort, they were exposed to the bullets. After urgent entreaty, they were removed from this perilous position by the bushrangers.

Sgt Condell
Spending the night at Clements station and with the recovery of the coach the troopers set off on the continuation of their journey minus the gold and cash, whilst preparing to depart Clements, Halivand had told Sergeant Condell that "he had several narrow escapes, and would not stop on the escort any longer", Condell had noticed that Haviland had become troubled over the attack. However, as the coach continued Haviland in a conversation with constable Moran stated, "he would not come on the escort any more unless there was a mounted party along with us", another passenger, Mr Henry Boynton, who had joined the coach at Clements station stated that in conversation with Haviland, he appeared very chatty and said to Boynton, "he would probably live 100 years or so as he had so many narrow escapes".

The police in pursuit and the gang dispersing Hanbury Clement's penned a letter to an acquaintance in Bathurst providing a good account of the robbery and its after-effects praising Sgt Condell for his cool-headedness during the onslaught. Clement's highlights that three bullock teams were blocking the road, and the only member not in disguise was Frank Gardiner. Amazingly one of the guards Rafferty covered the twenty-five miles back to Forbes through the bush; The following extract from a letter received by a gentleman in Bathurst is published in the Free Press 24th June 1862:

You will have heard before this reaches you that the Escort was stopped, and of course robbed. It occurred at the head of the blind gully, on the right of the double gate. The Escort goes by Eugowra at about four p.m. I do not know whether you recollect a big rock in the gully, about twenty yards to the right of the road; from behind this a number of men (the troopers say fifteen) jumped up, all dressed in red, apparently red shirts, with red comforter on, night-cap fashion; They let drive at the guard at once. I was in the paddock on horseback, and, on bearing the firing, galloped over at once. I met Fagan, the driver, at the big stockyard, and asked him what was the matter. He said the troopers were all shot, and the coach and horses gone, but where he did not know. I went on and met one of the troopers, who told me that he thought the others were killed. He was wounded in the side. Whilst talking to him, I saw two men at the top of the paddock; I went towards them, found they were two troopers, and brought them down, one of them was wounded in the region of the groin.

The sergeant, or corporal, who was the only cool man of the lot, was wounded in the side, the ball having entered between the short ribs and passed through the flesh out again; another ball went through the arm of his jacket. Another out the rim of the driver's hat and a piece out of the crown. Another stuck in the wood of the seat. The coachman was fearfully frightened and jumped off the coach; the horses then ran away taking three of the guard with them until they dashed up the rocks when the men were thrown out and took to their heels. The road was blocked up by putting three bullock teams across. The fellows had blackened faces, excepting one who appeared to be the leader.

"I started at once to Forbes, and sometime after my arrival the missing trooper made his appearance there, but knew nothing of his comrades, whom he supposed were all killed.

Hanbury Clements.
c. 1880.
The escorted coach arrived without trouble at Orange and stopped at about seven o'clock that evening, delivering the recovered mailbags to the postmaster and where Haviland had got out of the coach at the post-office and carried in the mail bags then returned to the coach which started on for Mr. Dalton's
'The Daniel O'Connell Inn', Byne St, Orange where the police usually stayed the night. 'The Empire' newspaper reported the subsequent events that saw Constable Haviland become the first Police Officer killed on duty under the new police act of 1862 and relates in transcripts from Haviland's Inquest, the tragic events; 

Constable Moran - I and a lady and the other male passenger were sitting with our backs towards the driver; the female passenger was sitting in the middle; we heard the report of a revolver after leaving the Orange Post-office; the female passenger exclaimed, “My God the man is shot!” Haviland was sitting at the back of the coach opposite me; I said “No! It can’t be!” I saw the flash from the revolver in a line with deceased’s chest; the female put her hand over first; I then put out my hand and felt the blood pouring down quite warm; I said, “he is shot in the stomach”; the coach was going on all the time; I said it might be from the sergeant’s rifle; he said “no it could not be”’ in reply to a question from the sergeant I said deceased was shot; in the coach there was my revolver, and a revolver case empty.

Ellen Chandler, passenger, stated; When we arrived in Orange, I saw the flash an heard a shot; I imagined I saw blood flow from deceased; he was sitting on the opposite seat to me; saw him falling forward; I put my hand out to prevent it; I kept him up with the assistance of another passenger until we arrived here; never saw any other arm with deceased except the revolver he wore at his side. 

Henry Boynton stated; On coming round the last corner before we arrived here I heard the report of a pistol; my first impression was that the report came from the outside of the coach-very close the coach; I then saw Haviland's head incline forward, and I thought he was looking out see where the report came from; soon after I saw his body incline forward; I caught him by the coat-collar and called out to the driver that Haviland was shot; I was sitting in the near hind corner and he was sitting on the off hind corner of the coach; I held Haviland up until I arrived here; Haviland was dead. On arriving here we lifted from the coach; the coach had previously pulled up at the Orange post-office.

James Dalton
Senior Constable Moran was recalled to clarify the revolver's position and stated;

I saw the deceased put my revolver and belt and case into the coach under his seat. The button on the revolver case was a very bad one.

William Haviland's body was taken into the Inn and placed on a couch in the verandah room where Dr Warren was sent for and stated;

Last night, about seven o'clock, I was sent for to see the deceased. Arriving at Dalton's Inn, I found him lying on the bed in the verandah room, with blood running out of his mouth and out of a wound in his neck; he was quite dead; this morning I traced the course of the bullet—it entered the throat below the chin—just above pomum Admni: its course was backward and slightly upward—passing through the larynx and through the pharynx back into the spine at the junction of the skull; I believe the immediate cause of death was effusion of blood into the windpipe; the wound would cause almost, instant death.

At the inquest the circumstances of William Haviland's death revealed that as the coach rounded the corner of the Commercial Bank, Senior Constable Morans revolver on the coach's floor discharged, firing upwards and into the head of Haviland killing him instantly. The Coroner returned an open verdict:

That deceased came by his death through a wound indicted by a shot from a revolver; but how the revolver was discharged there was no evidence to show.

Mrs Haviland received a gratuity from the police force of £100, and in later life would remarry.


Memorial plaque commemorates the 150th anniversary of the death of Constable William Haviland. The plaque coincides with the 150th anniversary of NSW Police. Photo by Stephen Woods

CAPTAIN M'LERIE. (1809-1874)

Captain John McLerie, a respected figure in the history of Australian law enforcement, and first inspector general of the new South Wales police, passed away on October 6, 1874, at the age of 65. Born in Ayrshire, Scotland, in 1809, McLerie began his military career at the young age of sixteen with the Scots Fusilier Guards. His distinguished service saw him rise to the highest rank attainable in the corps, a testament to his skill and dedication.

In the course of his military career, McLerie was notably involved in thwarting the assassin Oxford's attempt on Queen Victoria's life, an act of bravery that earned him the rank of an officer. He later transferred to Hobart Town with the 58th Regiment, overseeing the transport of Crown prisoners. After a brief stay in Sydney, the headquarters of the Imperial forces at the time, he proceeded to New Zealand. There, during the "Johnny Heki" war against the Maoris, his exemplary conduct in several engagements put him in contention for the Victoria Cross, although he did not receive the decoration due to the time elapsed for seeking the award following the war.

Returning to Sydney after the Maori rebellion, McLerie served as the adjutant of the mounted military patrol and subsequently as the Governor of Darlinghurst Gaol. His career in law enforcement continued as he became the Police Magistrate of Sydney and the Metropolitan Superintendent of Police. With the enactment of the new police Act, McLerie was appointed the Inspector-General of Police in 1857, a position he held with distinction until his passing. Although noted to be abrasive and uncompromising in the bushranger districts, McLerie at times took to his saddle in the pursuit of Gardiner Ben Hall and Gilbert. Upon receiving intelligence that Gardiner was near Rockhampton, he dispatched troopers to find and arrest the bushranger. A successful outcome. In due course police in rapid succession killed both Hall and Gilbert later capturing John Dunn who was hanged at Darlinghurst in 1866.

McLerie's death came somewhat suddenly, though he had been in precarious health for twelve years. On the day before his demise, he had made a visit to the Police Department and walked through the town, an exertion that likely contributed to his fatal attack early the next morning, despite Dr. Kenwick's medical efforts.

The funeral of Captain McLerie was a grand affair, reflective of the high esteem in which he was held. It was attended by numerous dignitaries, police officers, and private citizens, forming one of Sydney's largest processions. The Bishop of Sydney delivered an impressive sermon at Christ Church, and the Rev. Canon Vidal conducted the burial service at Camperdown Cemetery, where McLerie was interred.

In honor of his service and leadership, a monument was erected at Camperdown Cemetery in Newtown, NSW, by the officers and men who served under him. The inscription on the monument reads: "John McLerie, Inspector-General of Police, died in Sydney on the 6th of October, 1874, aged 65. This memorial was erected as a tribute of esteem by the officers and men serving under his command." Captain McLerie's legacy is remembered as one of dedication, leadership, and unwavering commitment to public service in the early years of Australian law enforcement.

NSW Police list of Bushrangers killed or wounded as of March 1862-June 1870. (See Below.)


NSW Police list of Officers killed or wounded as of April 1862-October 1868. (See Below.)

#-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 benhallbushranger@gmail.com. For an enhanced view of photographs, click right mouse button and select 'open in new tab'.

5 comments:

  1. Very good website, good to see factual information, and glad to see that Hall is not being portrayed as some sort of folk hero.

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  2. Best website ever & very informative

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  3. Best website ever & very informative as well!

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  4. Fantastic website! Where did you find the images of the 1862 police trooper and Captain McLerie 1860?

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    1. Thank you Nic, The images are from the National Library and Edgar Penzig. This is my hobby so I source as much as I can from those who have gone before including my own pics from my travels. There are many references on both the Source Page and Endnotes. Once again I appreciate your interest. You can Follow the site if you wish. Cheers, Mark Matthews.

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