The Last of the Bushrangers_ An Account of the Capture of the Kelly Gang
AN ACCOUNT OF THE CAPTURE OF
THE KELLY GANG
FRANCIS AUGUSTUS HARE, P.M.
LATE SUPERINTENDENT OF VICTORIAN POLICE
LONDON:HURST AND BLACKETT, LIMITED,
13, GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET.
All rights reserved.
Richard Clay & Sons, Limited,
London & Bungay.
Introductory Remarks—Birth—Early Days at the Diggings—UnlicensedDiggers—Attacked by Fever—Keeping aStore
Lieutenant in Victorian Police—Gold-Escort Duty—Catchinga Burglar—All that was left of him—Brooks the Murderer—Atthe Buckland River Station—"Billy the Puntman"—InCharge of new Rushes—Border Difficulties on theMurray
Power the Bushranger—His Escape—The Squatter's GoldWatch—£500 Blood-money—A Peacock as a Sentinel—Caughtby the Heels—Some of Power's Adventures—HisSentence—Gamekeeper to Sir William Clarke
A Sporting Party on the Murray—"Winkle"—How to takeAim—After the Ducks—A Night with the Snakes—Kangarooing—ARunaway Bed
The Kelly Gang—Ned and Dan Kelly—Steve Hart—JoeByrne—The Origin of the Bushranging Outbreak—SearchParty organized—Murder of Kennedy—M'Intyre's Escape—Armingthe Police—Tracking the Gang—Close onthem
Euroa Bank Robbery—Euroa—"Sticking up" Mr. Younghusband'sStation—Mr. Macauley "bailed up"—TheHawker Gloster—Cheap Outfits—The Raid on the Bank—TheManager and Family made Prisoners—The Returnto Mr. Younghusband's—The Retreat of the Gang andLiberation of the Prisoners—Explanatory Statement of theAuthor
The Police at Euroa—Aaron Sherritt—Jerilderie—Capture ofthe Police Station and Constables—Amateur Policemen—TheRoyal Hotel stuck up—Raid on the Bank of NewSouth Wales—£2000 taken—Kelly's Autobiography—HisAccount of the Fitzpatrick Affair—Departure of the Gang—Returnto their Haunts
Aaron Sherritt—A Disappointment—At Mrs. Byrne's—ATwenty-five-day Watch—Manufacturing Brands—Sherritt'sRevenge—A Letter from Joe Byrne—Whorouly Races—OnWatch at Mrs. Sherritt's—Mrs. Byrne's Discovery—Break-upof the Camp—Arrest of Kelly Sympathizers—ADynamite Scare—Aaron jilted
Mrs. Skillian's Hoax—A False Alarm—Searching the WarbyRanges—Among the Kelly Sympathizers—Ill and dispirited—TheTenant of the Haystack—Relieved afterEight Months' Camping Duty
Black Trackers—Again in Charge with carte blanche—AaronSherritt's Doom—The Beginning of the End—Glenrowan—Stickingup the Hotel—Bracken's Escape—The Policeon the Alert—A Dangerous Journey—Mr. Curnow'sAdventure
The Attack on the Hotel—Wounded
From The Age Newspaper, 29th June, 1880—The Start—TheJourney—A Timely Warning—The Gang surprised—Deathof Byrne—Capture of Ned Kelly—His Statement—ThePrisoners released—Renewal of the Fight
From The Age (continued). Mrs. Skillian comes on the Scene—TheHotel fired—Rescue of Sherry—Fate of Dan Kellyand Hart—Statement of Various Prisoners made by theGang—The Incident of the Cannon
The Outlaws' Plans—Execution of Ned Kelly—Habits andCustoms of the Gang—Katie Kelly's behaviour—Kelly'sdistrust of Hart—The Cost of the Destruction of theGang
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
THE LAST OF THE BUSHRANGERS.
Introductory Remarks—Birth—Early Days at the Diggings—UnlicensedDiggers—Attacked by Fever—Keeping a Store.
When narrating to friendly audiences my experiences in theearly days of the Colony of Victoria in what may be termed the "goldera," and some of the various incidents which occurred during myconnection with the Victorian police, I have often been asked to givethe records of them a more permanent form. After hesitating long, Ihave listened to those promptings, and, greatly daring, have venturedto address a wider range of hearers. I claim no more than to tell aplain, unvarnished tale, recalling from the reminiscences stored withinmy mind, events and incidents of by-gone days. Perhaps had I writtendown the facts while the events were still fresh, I might have beenable to put more spirit into my narrative, but my aim has been to keepwithin the record, to extenuate nothing, nor to set down aught inmalice. I have endeavoured to refrain from mentioning names of privatepersons as much as possible, but, where I have found myself compelledto do so, I trust my references will raise no unkindly feelings.
Unfortunately, after the destruction of the Kelly gang, unpleasantfeelings and jealousies sprang up between different officers engagedin the search, and interested persons kept adding fuel to the fire. Inwriting this account of the capture and destruction of the last of theVictorian Bushrangers, I have endeavoured to avoid locating the blamefor the various unsuccessful attempts. We had a difficult task beforeus, and I feel sure each of us spared no effort to do his duty, thoughin thus acting all of us, no doubt, committed errors of judgment. In amatter of this kind every one has a right to his own opinion, and nonebut those who underwent the hardships we did can have any idea of oursufferings during the months we were in pursuit of the outlaws.
It seems hardly possible to imagine that ten years ago a field-gun wasbeing dragged up Collins Street, Melbourne, to blow down an hotel,which practically was little more than a wooden hut, within two hundredyards of one of the principal stations on the main line of railwaybetween Melbourne and Sydney, as the last resource for the captureof four men, who for the previous two years had set law, order, thegovernment, and police at absolute defiance.
Nor is it much more easy of credence that the capture of this gangshould have cost the state, from first to last, over £115,000. And yetthese are facts which cannot be controverted.
The first feeling that will arise in the minds of English peopleon reading this, will be one of wonder. How came it that four menshould have been able for two years to carry on their career of crimeunchecked? And what were the police doing? The police, and I speakfrom actual knowledge, were doing their "level best." A reward of£8,000 was offered for the capture of the men, dead or alive, andthere was kudos and promotion to be gained. But there were peculiardifficulties connected with this undertaking, difficulties which couldarise in no other country. Firstly, it must be remembered that thesemen were natives of, and were brought up in, the district in which theycarried on their depredations; they knew every inch of the ground,bushes, and mountains; they had hiding-places and retreats known tofew, if any, but themselves, and they were acquainted with every trackand by-path. Secondly, the sparseness of the population outside thetowns must be taken into consideration. These men might commit an actof violence in a town, and disappear into the bush, where they might,with the knowledge of the locality at their command, ride hundreds ofmiles without coming near a dwelling-house, or meeting a human being,and thus obliterate all traces of themselves for the time being; andlastly—what aided them more than anything else—they commanded anenormous amount of sympathy among the lower orders. It was a well-knownfact that they had friends and adherents, either open or semi-veiled,all over the colony. The families of the Kellys, Hart, and Byrne werelarge ones, and members of them were to be found scattered over all thedistrict ever ready to provide asylum, or furnish information as to themovements of the police. And outside their own families the sympathythey obtained was almost as great, though it was of a more meretriciousorder. The gang was lavish with its money. They subsidized largely,instituting a body of spies known by the name of "Bush telegraphs," whokept them fully informed of every movement of the authorities, andaided them on every possible occasion to elude capture.
And apart from this money consideration there was a further one, whichappealed quite as effectively to their humble admirers. The gang neverbehaved badly to, or assaulted, a woman, but always treated themwith consideration and respect, although frequently compelled by theexigencies of the situation to put them to considerable inconvenience.In like manner they seldom, if ever, made a victim of a poor man. Andthus they weaved a certain halo of romance and rough chivalry aroundthemselves, which was worth a good deal to them, much in the same wayas did the British highwayman during the last century.
And now, with these few necessary words of explanation andintroduction, let me get at once to my story, and the events which ledto my being connected with the capture of the last of the Bushrangers.
I was born at the Cape of Good Hope, at a small village called Wynberg,about eight miles from Cape Town, and near the celebrated vineyards ofConstantia. I was the youngest son of a family of seventeen! My fatherwas a captain in the 21st Dragoons. The whole of his regiment wasdisbanded at the Cape; all the officers settled down amongst the Dutchinhabitants, and nearly all of us were born at Wynberg. When I leftschool I joined a brother who had a sheep farm, with which he combinedhorse-breeding and agriculture. After I had been on the station fouror five years, I disliked the life so much that I was persuaded toemigrate to Australia. I arrived in Melbourne on 10th April, 1852,about six months after gold had been discovered. I did not know a soulout there then, and after a short time went on to Sydney, where I founda few people to whom I had letters of introduction.
After staying in Sydney a few months I returned to Melbourne with twomates whom I had picked up there, one a fellow-passenger I met goingto Sydney. The voyage lasted seventeen days. My other mate was arunaway convict from Norfolk Island. He had been employed as workmanand gardener in my other mate's family, and was a very hard-workingold scoundrel. Melbourne at this time was a place to be remembered;the scenes that occurred in the streets and in the hotels would hardlybe credited. The principal objects throughout the day to be seen inCollins and Bourke Streets were wedding-parties. Diggers used to comefrom the diggings with pounds' weight of gold, for the purpose, asthey called it, of "knocking it down," and they managed to do this ina marvellously short space of time. You would hear of a man callingfor two or three dozen of champagne (£1 per bottle), throwing it intoa tub, and having a bath in it. Again, men would call for two slicesof bread, put a ten-pound note between them, and eat the note andbread as a sandwich. Hardly a day passed without seeing six or sevenwedding-parties driving up and down Collins Street, dressed in mostgorgeous attire. It was said the same women were married to differentmen over and over again. When the man had spent all his money he wouldgo back to the diggings to make another "pile," and when he had madeit he would return to Melbourne. In those days there were no hotels,theatres, or places of amusement on the diggings, and any one whowanted any enjoyment had to run down to Melbourne. Gold was easilygot—a man had only to sink a hole from four to twenty feet deep, andif he was on the "lead," the probabilities were he would get somepounds' weight of gold. At this time it was most difficult to secureany accommodation in Melbourne. You might offer any sum of money youthought fit, and yet not procure a corner to sleep in. I happened toget a bed at Hockin's Hotel, at the corner of Lonsdale and Elizabethstreets. I was awakened in the night hearing some one who was beinggarroted calling out for help; but help there was none. The colony wasinfested with convicts from the other colonies, and the most daringrobberies in the streets of Melbourne were of nightly occurrence.
My two mates and I started with our swags on our backs from Melbourneto Bendigo, and camped out all the way up. The roads were very bad,and it was impossible to get a conveyance, so we humped our swags. Aswe went we joined in with large parties of men, all bound in the samedirection as we were, for the purpose of our mutual safety. All alongthe road we