This page aims to provide an overview of the NSW police on duty out in New South Wales's back blocks in the 1860s. It will include appointments and promotions, as well as a brief review of prominent officers life stories. Combined with various articles from newspapers of individual police officers engaged in Ben Hall and his Associates' pursuit. Including controversy surrounding those courageous officers during their efforts to hunt, capture, and, where necessary, kill bushrangers. Time and time again, these valiant troopers were ridiculed in the press, often unjustly, when exhibiting their capacity for a protracted effort, regardless of their difficulties or frustrations. Their perseverance, in many instances, was at a considerable cost to their lives. Furthermore, they endured with inferior equipment, harsh elements and substandard horses. 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.
Sir Henry married Susanna Maria, née Cooke, of Dublin, Ireland and produced four children. Sir Frederick was educated privately at Eton and followed his father into the army, purchasing a commission in 'Grenadier Guards' 1850 as an Ensign and rose to Lieutenant's rank. Life in the Guards was expensive, whereby, the cost and position Pottinger held forced Sir Frederick through mounting debt to sell his commission in 1854, ending Pottinger’s Army career; “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
attire as a
Sir Frederick Pottinger upon discharge from the army threw himself into the life of an English gentleman and all that it entails. Whereby, as a bachelor, the bright lights of London’s late 1850’s beckoned, and having earlier departed the Grenadier Guards through the sale of his commission to clear his then regiment debts, Pottinger set about enjoying the privileges that befell the idle rich of 19th century England. However, Sir Frederick Pottinger in the fast lane found himself embroiled in public controversy within a year of his father’s death.
|The house at 165 Cambridge St,|
rented by Sir Frederick
and Miss Perry,
as it appears today.
|Great Western Hotel,|
Sir Frederick's and
Miss Perry's Haunt.
|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.)
|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,|
|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.
Now exposed, propriety stepped in as a Baronet riding shotgun on a gold escort could not possibly be condoned. Consequently, like lightning striking, Government promotion came rapidly for the unveiled Sir Frederick Pottinger. (See Article Right.) The Baronet was described as;[sic] "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
|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.|
| Bathurst Free Press and Mining|
Journal Saturday Wednesday
15th January 1862.
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; "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." (Source; The Battle of Lambing Flat-Frank Clune.) The sentiment on the goldfield was expressed in the same terms as the incursion of the Eureka Stockade. Where miners affected change through force, "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." Chinese bloodshed was not given a second thought. (Source; The Battle of Lambing Flat-Frank Clune.)
|Reputed Eugowra Escort|
Coach. c. 1900s.
The photograph was taken by
Frank Walker, 1861-1948.
|Gunfight marker at|
Having faced several assault charges, the Baronet was on one occasion on the end of an attempted horsewhipping from a young lady and local Forbes identity a Miss Kyle who had a Lola Montez reputation after receiving a letter from Pottinger of an impudent nature and which raised Miss Kyle's heckles. (See clipping right.) Miss Kyle owned and partnered several Rankin Street public-houses with a Mr Huey, such as the 'Horse and Jockey Hotel', 'Bull and Mouth', 'Diggers Return' and 'Tara Hall'. It was reported in the 'Empire' June 1864 that due to a large fire erupting in the street, Miss Kyle's establishments went under in flames; "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..."(See Article right.) However, after the attempted belting, Miss Kyle was bound over to keep the peace for six months.
On Saturday the 9th August 1862, became a red-letter day for the Baronet. Pottinger and with solid information got wind that 'The Darkie' would appear or be present for a romantic liaison with lover Mrs Brown at Wheogo. Subsequently, Pottinger staked out Kitty's home. Wheogo Station. The intrepid Inspector with eight officers in tow, including Hollister, Sanderson and Condell, awaited 'The Darkie's' appearance.
For the first time, Pottinger's information was tangible when in the dead of night Gardiner looking to an evening in the arms of Mrs Brown and mounted on his white charger casually returned to her home after an earlier visit. With complete surprise on his side and as Gardiner was within 5 yards, Pottinger rose abruptly calling 'Stand in the Queen's name', then fired point-blank at Gardiner, who was completely startled. However, due to a failure of Pottinger's carbine, it allowed Gardiner to escape from the eight carefully positioned troopers, two of which also discharged their weapons, missing Gardiner, who vanished into the night. Sir Frederick Pottinger then proceeded to Kitty's home and, after interrogating both Mrs 'Kitty,' Brown and her younger brother Johnny Walsh arrested the young lad. Sir Frederick stated his version of events before the Forbes Bench during Kitty's younger brothers arraignment. This incident was to bring Sir Frederick much ridicule. Young Walsh, Ben Hall, John McGuire and John Brown Kitty's husband's brother-in-law would die from a fever in gaol. At the time of the incident, Hall, Maguire and Brown were in the Forbes Lockup, arrested over the Eugowra Gold Robbery. (For full details of the encounter between the two adversaries, see link below.)
"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.
|Sir Frederick Pottinger's published official sanction|
for brawling and gambling.
Saturday 1st November 1862
SIR FREDERICK POTTINGER.
|Artist's impression of|
Sir Frederick Pottinger
on return from the
hunt for bushrangers.
Before long, MacPherson encountered the NSW police, and after losing his horse and ammunition, MacPherson escaped from police inspector Sir Frederick Pottinger on foot but was later surrounded and arrested. He was charged with shooting at Sir Frederick, but the charges were later dropped after Sir Frederick's death. However, MacPherson was to be sent on to Rockhampton to stand trial for a publican's earlier hold-up but consequently escaped when the steamer anchored at Mackay. According to 'The life and adventures of the Wild Scotchman' by P.W. McNally, MacPherson's leg-irons were discovered nailed to a tree with a note attached that read: “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 Pottinger's mistake was the moment the government was waiting for; thus, he was dismissed from the NSW police force on 16th February 1865. (See article right.)
|First report of Sir Frederick's Accident.|
|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.|
|The Victoria Club, 136 Castlereagh Street, Sydney c1870. The Victoria Club ceased to exist in 1872.|
|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.|
|NSW Police Tracker.|
c. The 1800s
|Children c. 1860.|
|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|
|Alexander Riley. Pictured|
on the right C. 1970s
of a tracker's employment.
Nevertheless, Dargin undoubtedly travelled from his home territory of Windsor out to the Lachlan or even further out to the Bogan region, working as a stockman. Employment for stockman become in high demand due to the high loss of workers rushing to the new goldfields discovered in 1860 at Lambing Flat and later Forbes. Sir Frederick Pottinger, the Lachlan district officer, took on and placed Dargin under his command sometime in late 1861 or early 1862. Pottinger was the officer who saw the trackers' significance and their uncanny skills in the pursuit of the new wave of bushranging breaking out across the Western Plains. Pottinger and his fellow officers and constables in the years to come would rely heavily upon them. (A tracker earned approximately ₤3 17s 6d per month or today $336.00 per month, whereas an NSW trooper at the time earned 5s 6d a day). The trackers' workload varied immensely from rounding up and caring for the police horses, saddles, and general equipment to bush patrol to gunfights with the bushrangers. The tracker's accommodations also varied from living in the police stables to rough shacks close to the station where they would always be on hand in an emergency. The trackers were fitted out with a constables uniform or, when on bush patrol, often dressed the same as police in bush clothing instigated by Sir Frederick Pottinger.
|Much loved Tracker|
|Extract from Hollister|
Diary April 1863.
|Police Tracker Sam Hall in|
b.c. 1845 - d. 1909.
Courtesy State Library of. NSW.
Billy was part of the team. As troopers, they also had to survive in all types of weather, riding over rough inhospitable terrain and surviving at times in freezing conditions as well as sleeping and eating together in makeshift camps during their effort to apprehend bushrangers;[sic]"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."
The boldness displayed by bushrangers roaming the Lachlan, such as Frank Gardiner, Johnny Gilbert, Johnny O'Meally, Ben Hall and many others associated with the gang's non-stop prowling of the Western District settlements early in the 1860s saw Billy Dargin right in the thick of it. By early 1863 use of black trackers was in the throes of being employed throughout NSW. However, not only for police work but by explorers such as Burke and Will's who suffered a horrid death by starvation after forsaking their tracker, or by parents searching for their wayward daughters having run away; "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..."
The robbery was a complete success, and the retreat of the gang's path was quickly uncovered, allowing the police to set off for the purpose of apprehension. However, rain fell in the district, causing issues with the tracks. Therefore, Pottinger split his tracking party to cover more ground. Gardiner himself was very mindful of the black trackers' skill, and in fact, Gardiner feared the trackers more than the police and remarked to Daniel Charters during the gangs escape from Eugowra;[sic] "go as crooked as you can so as to bother the trackers..."
|Tracker Jack Cave|
b. 1865 - d. 1950's
Courtesy Blayney Library.
|"The black tracker"|
George Rossi Ashton, 1881.
Courtesy State Library of Victoria
With the success of the recovery of the gold from the Escort robbery, the trackers' use was now more important than ever for the success or failure of the NSW Police in the western districts. The bushrangers' vexed by the relentless pursuit of the trackers, put an end to the bushrangers having any time to relax at their often makeshift camps. John Gilbert stated this about his fear of the trackers; "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..." Gilbert's fear of the trackers was well-founded as on many occasions Gilbert himself was to have many close shaves as would Ben Hall.
On 7th February 1863, the newly established police station on the vast Pinnacle property owned by escort robber and informer Daniel Charters' sister Margaret Feheeily saw fringe bushranger Ben Hall in company with Patsy Daley rob the station whilst unattended. The raid was to procure weapons following their raid on Meyers Solomons store at Lambing Flat on the 2nd of February. In charge, Constable Knox managed to follow the pair 3 miles north to Allport's shanty close to the Pinnacle Station. As the pair departed, Allport's they were spotted by Billy Dargin accompanied by Trooper Hollister and another tracker, Prince Charlie. Hollister recorded in his diary the events on the theft; Hollister diary entry for Saturday 7th February 1863; "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." Hollister was in no doubt it was Ben Hall. Ultimately Constable Knox would be dismissed from the NSW police after the Pinnacle robbery.
Later that day, the police came in sight of Hall and Daley and gave chase. After a gallop of some miles, Hollister had become unseated from his horse when Ben Hall's accomplice Patsy Daley wheeled around and fired attempting to shoot tracker Prince Charlie. (Charley Edwards) Dargin stated; “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..." The robbery would cost Knox dearly as he was subsequently dismissed from the force on the 31st March 1863.
of Billy fleeing
after Norton capture.
Never before published.
|NSW Police Gazette.|
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
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 pounds, 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..."
However, soon after this stroke of good fortune, William Dargin died suddenly at noon on the 4th of September 1865 in pain and 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.
Furthermore, Ben Hall 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 actually 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 2IC, Sergeant Condell. In turn, following Ben Hall's death, within months, the two Aboriginal trackers Dargin and Charley associated with the deed were also dead. Moreover, both of their deaths came about under mysterious circumstances! Subsequently, Hall's killing and 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 inquest? Shortly after the police had returned to the town of Forbes with the gunshot-riddled body of Hall, 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;[sic] "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..." 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 and 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." Even the evidence nullifies any idea that Hall stayed on his feet grasping a sapling long enough to defend himself while shot after shot was poured into him. The idea is fanciful! The barrage of bullets had consequently ripped into a no doubt dead Ben Hall and fired after his demise in the early hours by a highly-strung if not hysterical police. Davidson even wrote to his father that he had lost control of his men in checking their fire. Logic took a holiday on 5th May 1865!
|"Death of Ben Hall" painted|
by Patrick Maroney
Was Billy poisoned? It may be that while in his 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 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.
When William died, 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 killed, 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. For his part, Billy had received £50 ($4,200 today), a hell of a lot of money for a tracker in the 1800s, and this was not the only reward Billy was awarded. However, it 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 divorce the informant Michael Coneley.
Hall's death generated much sympathy and bewilderment for others in its viciousness. Therefore, the thought of reprisal and the ridicule created by Hall over a long period may have been a factor in the polices' merciless actions. Thereby, if the real situation had been revealed, Davidson and Co could have been charged with murder as Felon's act was as yet not in force? However, for Davidson, he was never going to allow Hall 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." 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 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. 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, his death earlier in August 1865, was also shrouded in mystery after his decomposed body was found at Grudgery Station, Lachlan River; 'Empire' Monday 14th August 1865; Skeleton Found.- "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."-Lachlan reporter.
Inspector James Henry Davidson
|James Henry Davidson|
Coloured by me.
[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..."
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.
Tuesday 16th May 1865
DEATH OF THE BUSHRANGER BEN HALL
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.
As the dust settled after Hall's death, Inspector Davidson forwarded his final report of the events to the Inspector-General Captain McLerie as follows; Police Report, Forbes, Saturday, May 12th, 1865;
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
NSW Police Gazette.
However, whether by mistake or misinterpretation, 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?
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, 7tn 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 succccd 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
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 tho 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 pro mises, 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.
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. (See Article right.) During Davidson's time at Deniliquin, he was held in high esteem by the community.
|Senior Sergeant James Glynn Condell|
Senior Sergeant James Glynn Condell was born in 1837, in County Carlow, Ireland. His parents were Thomas and Caroline Condell who resided at Bagenalstown nine miles south of Carlow City, Ireland. The family were of the Church Of England faith in predominately Catholic Ireland. The Barrow River flowed through Carlow City and was situated 46 miles from Dublin and boarded County Wicklow. At the age of eighteen James Condell joined the Irish Constabulary at Kilkenny in 1855, where recruits to the Constabulary were required to be single, between the age's of 18 and 27 years old, in good health and at least 5' 9" tall, James Condell stood 5' 11''. Newly recruited constables were not allowed to serve in the county where they (or their wife) resided, therefore James Condell was posted to Mulroy Carricart, Donegal, Ireland situated on the banks of Mulroy Bay in the north-west of the country. Single constables in the Irish Police could only marry after seven years of service, and then, only with their superiors' permission. County Donegal was a harsh, uncompromising part of the Irish coastline in the North West and battered by the Atlantic Ocean. Many of the families in Donegal struggled to get by on the small plots of farmland controlled by the British Aristocracy; therefore, immigration to a faraway land was the only avenue to a better life. This avenue led to New South Wales. In the mid-1850's the NSW government commenced an assisted immigration scheme utilised by the Donegal residents and became known as the Donegal's. Among this influx came police officer James Condell.
|James Condell NSW Police promotion and enlistment|
1860-1865 at enlistment James Condell was 25 yrs old.
|"...I heard three or|
four shots fired..."
Soon after the affray at Lambing Flat, James Condell sponsored two sisters' passage from Donegal, Ireland, they were Margaret and Elizabeth Davis, during James Condell's police employment at Donegal he had formed a relationship with Elizabeth Davis, paying the deposit of £3 each for their passage to NSW on the 21st December 1861, the two ladies were given the required reference by The Reverend Cox of Donegal, Ireland.
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|
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."
|The arrival of Margaret and Elizabeth Davis 1864.|
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|
However, in 1875, James Condell would be shot once more; this time by a woman's husband. It appears that although a married man of eleven years, Senior Sergeant Condell had a roving eye and was captivated by a married woman whereby improper advances were made to a Mrs Paine much against the ladies wishes. Resulting in a confrontation with the woman's husband, which was of a deadly nature. The aggrieved husband, William Paine operated a butcher shop, and became enraged over the advances to his wife and shot James Condell in the head, shoulder and arm. Moreover, in the act of fleeing the husband and whilst jumping a fence, Condell severely damaged his right ankle. A doctor was called and tended Condell's wounds, which would take five weeks to heal although not life-threatening. The affair was a sensation in the town of Gundagai as William Paine was arrested for attempted murder.
The accused stood trial for the attack, but while in custody Paine escaped. "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.
Senior Sergeant Condell retired from the police force and was granted the post of Inspector of Conditional Purchases within the Forestry Department at Narrandera. At the age of 69 passed away as reported:(see article below.)
|Arrival per the Exodus|
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|
|Kiandra Mail Coach c. 1860's|
|Celestials Lambing Flat c. 1860|
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|
|A Sly Grog shop.|
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; "and 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.
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.
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.
|Charles Sanderson and his wife, Susan, arrival.|
|Lambing Flat riots 1861|
|Promotion following recovery|
of the Gold from the Eugowra
NSW Police Gazette.
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;
|Supt. C. A. Sanderson|
Superintendent Charles Allen Sanderson, died at his home in Ashfield, on Saturday the 4th of January 1919. He was 96.
Edward Montagu Battye
Edward Montague Battye was born on 29th March 1817, at Rougham Hall in Suffolk, England.
Captain Battye passed away on the 12th of July 1898, his life was one of position and adventure, below is Captain Battye's obituary published in the 'Sydney Mail' on the 23rd of July 1893; One of the few remaining links binding us with the past history of the colony was severed on Tuesday the 12th instant, with the passing away of Captain Edward Montagu Battye, who had closely identified himself with the early period of this colony's doing. The venerable gentleman died at his late residence, Cliff Villa, Arthur-street, North Sydney at the ripe old age of 82 years, after a long illness. Captain Battye was the son of Mr George Battye, of Campden Hill, Kensington, London, and was born in March 1817. He was educated at Wandsworth and Brighton, and while at the latter place studied under the same tutor as Prince George of Cambridge, with whom a friendship existed into later life. At the early age of 15 he entered the Royal Household as a page to Queen Adelaide, with whom he was a great favourite. He obtained his first commission in which service he remained until manifesting a desire for military life. He had many pleasant memories and tokens of his association with Queen Adelaide and William IV., amongst the latter being a silver tablet book with which the Queen presented him to refresh a short memory. Another was a pension of £100 a year, which he enjoyed up to his death. His first commission was in the 18th Lancers, where he remained until 1835 when he joined the 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers, in which regiment he rose to the rank of captain. In 1837 he sailed for Canada under Colonel Harrison. On arrival in that country, he was selected to fill the post of staff drill adjutant of all local corps, including five battalions, the post being no sinecure. Subsequently, he took part in the Canadian rebellion as aide-de-camp to Sir William Williams. In 1840 he married the daughter of Captain Walford, of the 64th Regiment at Halifax, where he got his company. Finally, he came to New South Wales as aide-de-camp to his uncle, General Wynyard. Almost on arrival, owing to Colonel Munday's absence, he was appointed Adjutant-General, which position he held until the return of the colonel.
|Arrival with family,|
In 1851 the gold diggings broke out, for the time being disorganising the entire social life of the country, and in June of that year Captain Battye, with Mr J. R. Hardy, was sent for by the then Governor, with a view to the entire reorganisation of the police force. Mr Hardy was appointed Chief Commissioner, and Captain Battye was entrusted with forming a corps of mounted men to act on gold escort duty and patrol service, with headquarters at Parramatta, in which service he had many thrilling adventures. In 1855 we next found him at Bathurst, and as about that time the entire control became too great for one officer, Captain Zouch was placed in command of the southern patrol. At Bathurst, Captain Battye was appointed a superintendent of the western patrol. The outbreak of gold mining on the famous Turon fields found him in turbulent times, and both then and later conflicts with the bushrangers who infested the country rendered his life one of great activity. In 1862, when the new police system was introduced, Captain Battye was appointed Inspector of Police at Young, better known as Lambing Flat, where he was stationed during the worst of the bushranging times, his presence ensuring the enjoyment of immunity from their depredations. He was instrumental in the capture of the robbers of the Hartley and Mudgee mail. He was made the recipient of a testimonial, of a practical nature, from the Bank of New Wales's management, as a token of the bank's appreciation of his serves in securing the robbers and the recovery of upwards of £500 in notes, besides other valuable property. Subsequently, he was appointed Superintendent of the Cooma and Monaro district, from which he was promoted to the superintendence of the Murray district, with headquarters at Albury. At that post, he remained until the year 1893 when he was superannuated on a pension.
|Formal Jacket and Pill-Box Cap|
as worn by Capt. Battye.
Courtesy Justice and Police Museum.
|Appointment, October 1834.|
Once when Captain Zouch was at home in the early hours of the morning a messenger named Richards, a coach driver for Cobb & Co appeared at his door with a most important letter, 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."
|Police Trooper c 1862|
(representation only of
The first Policeman killed on duty under the New Police Act 1862.
|Haviland Arrival 1858. Note James Moyes.|
On Sunday 14th June 1862, Constable Haviland was at Forbes preparing the latest shipment of Gold to be transported to Bathurst under Sergeant Condell's supervision. Completion of the loading, the coach departed Forbes at midday for the trip to Bathurst via Eugowra and Orange, onboard was Senior Constable Moran who had brought the coach from Sydney to Forbes and was returning with the Gold and Constable Haviland, both were seated inside the coach with Sergeant Condell seated on the box next to the 'Whip' John Fagan. As the Escort coach approached a large set of boulders some three miles out from the Eugowra township, the 'Whip' Fagan slowed the four in hand down to negotiate two drays which had been placed as an obstacle across the track when suddenly the call of 'Fire' reverberated through the air followed by a volley of lead shattering the coach and wounding Condell and Moran, the following is a summary of the attack on the troopers from the 'Empire' dated the 24th June 1862;
|A Gold Escort.|
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...".
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