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3 Braidwood bushrangers When I started to write this monograph about my mother’s people, I never imagined that it would include a chapter on bushrangers. But things changed unexpectedly in August 2001 when I received an Internet message from a certain Peter Mayberry, asking me rhetorically: Ever thought of reading about the bushranging days around Braidwood from 1863 to 1867? Mayberry went on to imply that links existed between my Walker ancestors of Braidwood and the Clarke/Connell bushrangers. Initially, I was somewhat incredulous, because nobody in our family had ever evoked relationships between our Reidsdale ancestors and bushrangers. But I took up Peter’s challenge and started to investigate this domain.

Today, I know that, while we do not descend directly from bushrangers, our Walkers and Hickeys lived in close proximity to certain offenders, and even established marital relationships with them. Does this mean that the Walker family members with whom I grew up in South Grafton ignored that such links existed, or did they deliberately refrain from alluding to them? I have no serious answer to that question, but I suspect that simple ignorance of an understandable kind explains this silence, rather than devious intentions to hide our past. Besides, as my findings make clear, we do not really have a lot to hide! I have not written this chapter with the aim of simply repeating tales about Braidwood bushrangers, because those stories have been told already by at least two excellent authors (Martin Brennan and John O’Sullivan) and I have little to add to their accounts. My main purpose is to present various connections between my mother’s people and these delinquents.

The word “bushranger” has romantic connotations that are often make-believe. Although some of the Braidwood bandits were fine horsemen with a profound knowledge of the bush where they had been brought up, they did not spend their time roaming around the backwoods on horseback in the gentlemanly style of movie highwaymen, waiting for coaches to rob. They were uncouth delinquents, lacking many normal human qualities, who often operated instinctively in a brutish fashion. But, before judging them superficially (as I have just done), one might ask whether these delinquents were the inevitable byproducts of a system whose archaic purpose was the exploitation of Australia as a vast prison. In the case of the Clarke and Connell lads of Braidwood, we are nevertheless a good generation down the line from the standard model of ex-convicts who turned to bushranging in an expiatory spirit and a feral style, seeking revenge for their undeserved suffering. The Braidwood criminals had suffered nothing, and their acts did not seek to right wrongs. The greatest failing of these mindless fellows was no doubt their lack of a civilized upbringing and basic education. If we insisted upon determining the causes of senseless acts committed by Braidwood bushrangers, we might start out by blaming parents who did nothing to prevent their offspring from turning into louts.

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Structure of this chapter

This chapter is composed of three parts:

• An introductory section sketches three infamous bushrangers—Frank Gardiner, Ben Hall and John Gilbert—whose names appear fleetingly at the start of the Braidwood era. • The Clarke brothers and their Connell uncles interest us primarily in that their story unfolds in the same geographical territory as the home of Charles Walker (who had been dead for several years when the Clarke/Connell fellows arrived on the Braidwood scene). One of our ancestral relatives, Ann Hickey’s brother William, was an actor in this domain. Another, Ann Hickey’s sister Elizabeth, was married to one of the suspects in this domain. And yet another indirect relative, Ann Hickey’s second husband, was accused of playing a role in the escape from jail of Tommy Clarke. • The chapter ends with a short presentation of a few other Connell people. This enables me to evoke the marriage between Michael Joseph O’Connell [1858-1920] and Catherine Walker [1857-1939], daughter of Charles Walker and Ann Hickey. Many of the images that I have used to illustrate this chapter were made available by Peter Mayberry. Besides, I am most grateful for the constant help provided by Peter in guiding me towards a better understanding of the subject of the Braidwood bushrangers.

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part I — Patriarchs I am using the word “patriarchs” facetiously in the above title to designate three infamous bushrangers who may well have been role models for the Clarkes and Connells of Braidwood. In any case, the names of these earlier criminals reappear in accounts of the early exploits of the Clarke/Connell bushrangers. The three men in question— who were collaborators at times—are Frank Gardiner [1829-1904], Benjamin Hall [1837-1865] and John Gilbert [1842-1865]. Bushrangers can be divided roughly into two so-called generations:

• Those of the first generation were ex-convicts who had become feral.

• Second-generation bushrangers, on the other hand, appeared to be ordinary lads, sons of free settlers, who had chosen this lifestyle in much the same way that a normal law-abiding adolescent might decide upon such-and-such a trade or a profession. In this sense, Gardiner, Hall and Gilbert were all second-generation bushrangers.

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Frank Gardiner [1829-1904]

Figure 3-1: Francis Christie, alias Frank Gardiner.

Francis Christie was born in Scotland in 1829, and his family arrived in New South Wales in 1834. In 1850, he was convicted in Victoria of horse stealing and jailed, but he escaped from Pentridge in 1851 and headed to Goulburn in New South Wales. In March 1854, calling himelf Clarke, Christie was arrested again for stealing horses and jailed on Cockatoo Island. Released in 1859 with a ticket of leave, he moved to the Kiandra gold diggings, and became a butcher at Lambing Flat. He then became a highwayman and attempted to murder two police officers.

In June 1862, Frank Gardiner organized an attack of the gold escort at Eugowra Rock, which turned out to be the biggest robbery in Australian bushranging history. The booty of 2700 ounces of gold and cash amounted to 14 thousand pounds. Gardiner then disappeared with Kitty Walsh, sister-in-law of Ben Hall. In 1864, Frank Gardiner was captured in Rockhampton and jailed. He served only ten years before being exiled and passing into oblivion.

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Benjamin Hall [1837-1865]

Figure 3-2: Ben Hall.

Benjamin Hall was born on 9 May 1837 in Murrurundi. In 1856, he married Bridget Walsh, called Biddy. Like his father, Ben acquired a reputation as a horse and cattle thief. Biddy left him in 1862, and Ben moved into the bushranging circle of Frank Gardiner. Having played a role in the Eugowra Rocks gold escort robbery, Ben Hall was arrested as a suspect, then acquitted. Meanwhile, Gardiner had disappeared and his gang was taken over by Hall and Gilbert. Ben Hall had committed hundreds of holdups and other crimes by the time the police shot him dead on 5 May 1865. His grave at Forbes lies near that of Kate Foster, sister of Ned Kelly. Ben Hall’s death certificate is shown in the two figures on the next page.

 Murrurundi, 30 km north of Scone, lies midway between Muswellbrook (to the south) and Tamworth (to the north). This township happens to be the place where my paternal great-grandmother Elizabeth Constance Woods was born on 3 October 1860, a quarter of a century after Ben Hall.

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Figure 3-3: Death certificate of Ben Hall (part 1 of 2).

Figure 3-4: Death certificate of Ben Hall (part 2 of 2).

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John Gilbert [1842-1865]

Figure 3-5: John Gilbert.

John Gilbert was born in Canada in 1842, the youngest son of English-born parents. In 1852, learning that gold had been found in New South Wales, the family decided to emigrate.

In 1862, John Gilbert was a member of Frank Gardiner’s gang at the Eugowra Rock holdup. He escaped arrest and fled for a time to New Zealand. Back in New South Wales, Gilbert killed a mounted policeman and was proclaimed an outlaw. The most-wanted criminal in New South Wales, involved in hundreds of holdups, John Gilbert was finally shot dead by the police on 13 May 1865, a week after the death of his accomplice Ben Hall.

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part II — Clarke/Connell gang From 1864 until 1867, the Braidwood region was troubled by the bushranging activities of a gang composed primarily of two Australian-born brothers and their two Irish-born uncles. The brothers were Thomas and John Clarke, in their twenties, and their uncles were Thomas and Patrick Connell, in their early thirties. This is an undated photo of the chief of the gang, Tommy Clarke, on his horse Boomerang:

Figure 3-6: Thomas Clarke [1840-1867] on Boomerang.

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Clarke family

The following chart presents the genealogy of Tom Clarke and his brother John, who were executed by hanging at Darlinghurst Jail in Sydney on 25 June 1867: John CLARKE b ~1808 Newry, Co Down, Ireland arr. 1828 Morley d 7 Nov 1866 Goulburn Goal



Mary CONNELL b ~1822 Loghill d 1 Jun 1905 Ballalaba, Braidwood

m 7 Mar 1874 CE Braidwood

m 4 Oct 1839 RC Goulburn 1




James CLARKE b 13 Jun 1845 Farringdon Park d 26 Apr 1891 Ballalaba John CLARKE b 12 Jul 1844 Mt Elrington d 25 Jun 1867 Darlinghurst Jail Michael HART Thomas CLARKE b 12 Sep 1840 Braidwood d 25 Jun 1867 Darlinghurst Jail


m 5 Nov 1868 CE Queanbeyan

5 6 7 8


Charlotte HART b 15 Sep 1845 Ballalaba d 29 Dec 1912 Yetman, Inverell

m 31 Jan 1863 RC Braidwood

John CLARKE b 5 Jun 1864 Nithsdale d 19 Feb 1942 Sydney

Thomas COLES

9 10 11

Anne CLARKE [1842-1929] Margaret CLARKE [1849-1910] Elizabeth CLARKE [1852-1922] Mary CLARKE [1854-1913] Sarah CLARKE [1857-?] Letitia CLARKE [1859-1926] Jane CLARKE [1861-1925] Catherine CLARKE [1864-1929]

Mary CLARKE b 4 Sep 1867 Braidwood d 31 Dec 1948 Granville Figure 3-7: Clarke family.

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Connell family

The mother of the Clarke brothers was Mary Connell [1822-1905], whose genealogy is presented in the following chart: Mary (Ellen) SHEEHAN


Margaret KING


Margaret NOWLAN b ~1796 Loghill (Limerick) d 23 Nov 1874 Stony Creek, Braidwood

Michael CONNELL b ~1790 Loghill (Limerick) d 12 Oct 1862 Krawarree, Braidwood

m ~1812 Limerick arrived NSW 1839 Aliquis with offspring 1

James CONNELL [~1815-1839] 2


Thomas BERRY

Bridget CONNELL [~1819-1868] 3

Michael Nowlan O’CONNELL [~1821-1903] John CLARKE Thomas COLES Thomas FARRELL

1839 1874 1841

Mary CONNELL [~1822-1905]



Esther DEMPSEY [1830-1859] Margaret GRIFFIN [-1877]


Ellen CONNELL [~1824-1902] 6




John CONNELL [~1827-1882]

William KANE





Catherine CONNELL [~1829-1916] 8

Thomas CONNELL [~1832-1907]




Patrick CONNELL [~1835-1866] Figure 3-8: Connell family.

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Documentary sources

A unique source of information on the Clarke/Connell bushrangers is a typed manuscript in the Mitchell Library: • Brennan, Martin. Police History of the Notorious Bushrangers of New South Wales and Victoria, A2030. More recently, a monograph on this subject has been published:

• O’Sullivan, John. The Bloodiest Bushrangers, New English Library, London, 1975.

Besides these two detailed works, brief police notes have come into the hands of researchers. This document interests me greatly in that it mentions our Hickeys: • Braidwood Police, Notes on Five Suspects, 1867.

Throughout this chapter, I shall refer to these three basic documentary sources, respectively, as [Brennan], [O’Sullivan] and [Suspects].

An early Braidwood bushranger named William Hickey

Much has been written about Frank Gardiner, John Gilbert, Ben Hall, the Clarke brothers and their Connell uncles. But the [Brennan] and [Suspects] documents reveal that there was a lesser-known Braidwood bushranger, slightly older than the above-mentioned individuals, who had started his misdeeds in 1863, a year before the Clarke/Connell gang acquired notoriety. That senior Braidwood delinquent was none other than our ancestral relative William Hickey [1818-1901], brother of my great-great-grandmother Ann Hickey, presented in figure 2-59. The following excerpt from [Suspects] shows how the Braidwood police spoke of Hickey around early 1867, at the height of their pursuit of the Clarke/Connell gang:

William Hickey age about 45 years, farmer, residing at Reidsdale. Has been an associate of the bushrangers and is still suspected of harbouring and assisting them. Was arrested in 1863 for highway robbery, acquitted by the Bench. His father, an Imperial Convict, was tried for house robbery about the year 1852 and sentenced to 14 years roads, which sentence was afterwards mitigated on memorial. This alleged information merits several remarks:

• Upon reading these mysterious notes for the first time, I supposed that there must be some kind of misunderstanding, or possibly a case of homonymy, because nobody in my family had ever suggested for a moment that we might have had an ancestral relative in Braidwood who was “arrested in 1863 for highway robbery”, and I imagined therefore that the William Hickey targeted by the Braidwood police must have been an homonymous Reidsdale resident. It took me a while to decide nevertheless that the described suspect was almost certainly our William Hickey.

• If our birthdate of William Hickey is correct (see figure 2-59), he would have been closer to 50 than to 45 when the police composed the above description. • The suspect is described as a farmer residing at Reidsdale. True enough, as I said in the previous chapter when talking about the family of William Hickey and Catherine Brunton, birth records of their children state that the father was a Reidsdale farmer.

• Concerning the police allegation that William Hickey “has been an associate of the bushrangers and is still suspected of harbouring and assisting them”, I can add nothing. • The allegation that William Hickey “was arrested in 1863 for highway robbery, acquitted by the Bench” is more startling still, but I have no further data on this affair. Chapter 3

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• On the other hand, the police allegations concerning William Hickey’s father are reflected in my archives, where the following explanations come from Peter Mayberry.

— The expression “imperial convict” signifies that the individual in question was brought to trial in the Old World, which was indeed the case for Patrick Hickey (see figure 2-5). — The expression “sentenced to 14 years roads” means that the convict was required to serve his sentence in road gangs, repairing or constructing roads in various districts.

— Finally, the expression “mitigated on memorial” means that the convict’s sentence was reduced on appeal following a letter from a character witness, an upstanding citizen or a religious minister, maybe drawing attention to unusual circumstances. The letter to the authorities was called a memorial and the author was known as a memorialist. We can suppose that Patrick Hickey’s memorialist was Captain John Coghill (see page 17) who signed the application requesting that Hickey’s wife and children be brought out to New South Wales at government expense.

Assault of Chinamen at Major’s Creek

An assault upon three Chinamen at Major’s Creek by three vaguely-identified “bushmen” is described on page 28 of [O’Sullivan]: At 10 pm on 12 November 1864, Ah Fatt, Ah Sam and Ah Lin had been riding to Majors Creek when they were accosted by three armed men. Two of the Chinese galloped off to Majors Creek. The assailants fired two shots at Ah Fatt, dragged him off his horse and beat him up whenthey found that he had nothing of value on his person. No adequate description was given of the three men except that they were bushmen, and that one of them was about five feet eleven inches tall and of a sallow complexion, with black whiskers. This description tallied with that of William Berriman, a friend of Tom Clarke. Charged on the basis of what seemed rather inadequate proof, Tom, admitted to bail, showed no inclination to appear for trial when the appointed day arrived. [Brennan] identifies the assailants as Thomas Clarke, William Berriman and “an offender named Hickey”: In June 1864, warrants were issued by the Braidwood and Goulburn benches for Tommy Clarke’s arrest for highway robbery, shooting at three Chinamen and horse stealing, in the commission of which there were associated with him William Berriman and an offender named Hickey.

Clearly, [Brennan] has made a mistake in the date, which should no doubt read 1865. The [Suspects] document, too, identifies explicitly the three assailants:

William Hickey was present when the outlaw Clarke and William Berriman assaulted, with intent to rob, a number of Chinamen at Majors Creek in November 1864 and for which offence Clarke was under committal for trial when he effected his escape from Braidwood Gaol.

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The three extracts that I have just quoted all mention William Berriman, described as follows in the [Suspects] document: William Berriman was at that time living with Hickey and he lent Berriman a horse for the purpose of joining Clarke to rob the Cooma and Queanbeyan Mails which they did at Brooke’s Hill near Bungendore in December 1864 and after the robbery both offenders took refuge with the plunder at Hickey’s house and at which place Berriman gave Annie Clarke, sister of the outlaw, 100 pounds in notes, a portion of the proceeds of the robbery in question. In the latter end of December 1864 Berriman took his departure from Hickeys house for Queensland where he was arrested in the latter end of 1866. Hickey is still suspected of aiding the bushrangers. Here we learn of another criminal act, which took place towards the end of December 1864, a month after the assault of the Chinamen, involving William Hickey, William Berriman and Thomas Clarke: a holdup of the Cooma and Queanbeyan Mails at a place near Bungendore (where Hickey had been married to Catherine Brunton by a Catholic priest in 1847). It appears too that William Hickey’s abode in Reidsdale was being used as a clearing-house for sharing out the spoils of their bushranging operations.

The above description mentions the arrest of William Berriman “in the latter end of 1866”. On the other hand, the description refers to “the outlaw Thomas Clarke” in such a way that we can suppose that he has not yet been captured (an event that took place in April 1867). These two clues enable us to conclude that the [Suspects] document was probably written during the first few months of 1867. In the [O’Sullivan] extract at the top of this section, Berriman is described as “a friend of Tom Clarke”. The chart of figure 3-8 also reveals that Berriman was a relative of the Connells, for his sister Ellen had married John Connell in 1854.

William Hickey’s name reappears in the description of another individual in the [Suspects] document: Michael McCarthy age about 40 years, farmer, Reidsdale. Imperial Convict from Ireland. Suspected cattle stealer and harbourer of thieves, Clarke the outlaw and his gang. McCarthy is married to a sister of Billy Hickey. In the previous chapter, we saw that William Hickey’s sister Elizabeth was indeed married to a man named McCarthy (see figure 2-69), but his given name was James, not Michael. So, the Braidwood police probably made a trivial mistake when naming him. Besides, when the [Suspects] document was written, probably in early 1867, Elizabeth Hickey’s husband James McCarthy would have been closer to 47 than 40.

Another individual mentioned in the [Suspects] document was residing at William Hickey’s place in Reidsdale... which, in 1867, already housed Hickey’s wife Catherine Brunton and their eight children: Andrew McCann age 30 years, bullock driver, a native of Reidsdale, residing at Billy Hickeys, Reidsdale. Suspected of aiding and assisting the outlaw Thomas Clarke and gang. McCann was arrested at Braidwood 20th April 1865 for using obscene language. Fine 20 shillings or 3 weeks gaol. Clearly, the Braidwood bushranging scene was very much an affair of relatives and friends.

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William Hickey’s name disappears from the bushranger archives

After the affair of the assault upon the three Chinamen in November 1864, I am unaware of any further derogatory references whatsoever to William Hickey in the archives. As they say, no news is good news. So, I assume that my ancestral relative mended his ways at roughly the same time that the most notorious exploits of his Clarke/Connell friends were about to be enacted. In any case, there is no trace of William Hickey ever having been arrested or jailed. As I indicated in the previous chapter, William Hickey and his wife died in 1901, within a week of each other. This apparently minor member of the bushranging fraternity was finally buried alongside his mother and his wife in a grave (see figure 2-39) that lies, ironically, not far away from an obelisk (seen in the background of figure 2-60) erected in memory of representatives of the law murdered by the Clarke/Connell bushrangers.

John Hickey in jail

There is a record of a jailed Hickey in Braidwood who is possibly an ancestral relative: HICKEY, JOHN Alias: Complexion: DARK Gaol No: 14 Height: 5.5 3/4 Ship: CHARLES KERR Occupation: FARMER Arrived: 1838 Make: STOUT State: EMG Hair: BLACK Age: 24 Educ: NIL Birth Place: IRELAND Eyes: GREY Sex: M Creed: CATH Period: 1856-60 Figure 3-9: Details of an inmate named John Hickey at Braidwood Jail.

The stout grey-eyed, black-haired and dark-complexioned Irish Catholic inmate in question, whose education is designated—rather uncharitably—as nil, was almost certainly Ann Hickey’s youngest brother John, born in 1827, described here as a farmer. The arrival date of 1838 corresponds approximatively to the time at which Elizabeth Brerton and her seven offspring would have reached New South Wales. NSW State Archives inform us, more precisely, that the Charles Kerr arrived in Sydney on 9 October 1837.

This record (which I found on the Internet) is particularly fuzzy as far as dates are concerned. On the one hand, there is no indication of the actual year in which this inmate named John Hickey was said to be 24 years old. On the other hand, I do not understand the meaning of the final line, mentioning a “period” of 1856-60. This can hardly refer to the years of John Hickey’s imprisonment, because Braidwood Jail was only built in 1861-62. Mystery...

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Clarke/Connell exploits

Let us leave the Hickey males and return to the mainstream story of the Clarke/Connell gang, for there are still a couple of minor concrete links between these notorious delinquents and my ancestral relatives. Besides, readers will understand shortly why I decided to start this chapter with brief portraits of the “patriarch” bushrangers Gardiner, Gilbert and Hall.

On 13 March 1865, four bushrangers attempted unsuccessfully to rob the Araluen gold escort near Major’s Creek, whose location is indicated in figure 2-15. Here is an engraving of the Araluen Valley at that time:

Figure 3-10: Araluen Valley.

Police identified three of the assailants as Ben Hall, John Gilbert and their young associate John Dunn, who had shot dead a policeman in January. As for the fourth assailant, masked, the police concluded that he must surely be a local lad, capable of describing the Braidwood region to Hall and Gilbert. Their suspicions fell naturally upon Thomas Clarke. And, if this 24-year-old delinquent had ambitions of attaining bushranging leadership, they were fulfilled two months later when Hall and Gilbert were cut down by police bullets. As for 19-year-old Dunn, he was hanged in March 1866. On 20 June 1865, two armed men—one wearing a mask, while the other had his face blackened—stole cash and stores from the home of a squatter named Simon Coady. Then they stole goods from the dray of a hawker named Turban. Thomas Clarke was suspected of being one of the two assailants, but there was insufficient evidence to convict him. Surprisingly, in July 1865, Thomas Clarke alighted from his horse at Braidwood police station and gave Chapter 3

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himself up, imagining that he would be merely charged with the theft of a horse. An attempt was made to accuse Clarke of the 1864 assault of the three Chinamen but, once again, there was insufficient evidence. A little later, the police finally noticed that Charlotte Hart, Tommy Clarke’s wife, was wearing an elegant feathered hat that corresponded to an item stolen from Turban’s dray. And this, at last, was the kind of evidence they needed to put Thomas Clarke behind bars, on three charges of armed highway robbery.

Thomas Clarke’s escape from jail

On 3 October 1865, while strolling around the yard of Braidwood Jail, Tommy Clarke suddenly crawled up onto the shoulders of a fellow-inmate named James Dornan, leapt over the wall and dashed away on a waiting horse. The following engraving reflects a romantic vision of the bushranger exploiting his horsemanship and his intimate knowledge of the countryside to escape from his dull pursuers:

Figure 3-11: Tommy Clarke escaping from jail.

A warder named Gleeson was subsequently accused of having played a role in helping Clarke to escape, and he was promptly dismissed. In the context of my ancestral relatives, this Thomas Gleeson is no stranger. He was the man, described as a carpenter, who married the widow Ann Hickey in 1862, two years after the death of Charles Walker (see page 56).

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Family affair

Thomas Clarke was soon accompanied by his brother John and their uncles Thomas and Patrick Connell. William Berriman and his brother Joseph were also members of the gang.

Their first major exploit, on 29 December 1865, consisted of plundering a station at Foxlow near Queanbeyan. Countless other escapades followed, often of a spectacular or whimsical nature, with the police first taking control of bushrangers, and then the bushrangers taking back control from the police. At times their crimes were committed in a jovial pub atmosphere of drinking, eating, singing and dancing. After all, folk were accustomed to living it up in the goldfields environment, as the following scene shows:

Figure 3-12: Living it up socially in the goldfields atmosphere.

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Murder of a trooper

In April 1866, the gang carried out a raid on Nerrigundah, including a robbery of Pollock’s store. This affair culminated in the shooting of a 21-year-old bushranger named William Fletcher and a trooper named Miles O’Grady.

Figure 3-13: Raid on Nerrigundah.

Death of a bushranger

On 17 July 1866, the police succeeded in ambushing the bushrangers, and Pat Connell was shot dead. In its obituary, the Braidwood Dispatch declared that the dead bushranger presented as fine a form as ever nature endowed mortal man with. When living he stood about five feet ten inches and was a most compact and firmly-knit athletic fellow and one of the best riders in the colony. It is interesting to take a step back in time and observe the adulatory and flippant style in which this same local newspaper had talked about the deceased some seventeen years earlier on, when he was a mere cattle thief: The journalist’s use of the slang term “trap” for policeman is amusing.

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Figure 3-14: Press article of 1859 concerning Pat Connell.

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Bloody fiasco

In January 1867, a terrible fiasco marred the way in which the Colonial Secretary, Henry Parkes, was trying to cope with the Braidwood bushrangers. Four so-called “special constables” (mercenaries employed secretly by the government to assist the regular police)—John Carroll, Eneas McDonnell, Patrick Kennagh and John Phegan—were murdered stealthily in the bush at Jinden while attempting to round up the Clarke/Connell gang. This callous crime—attributed immediately to Tom and John Clarke, aided by William Scott and an unidentified fourth man— created an uproar throughout the colony, and a huge reward was offered for the capture of the culprits. The following engraving illustrates the discovery of Carroll’s body:

Figure 3-15: Discovery of the body of Special Constable Carroll at Jinden.

On his chest, a piece of wood weighed down a one-pound note posed upon a red silk handkerchief. This was a macabre symbol of what might be termed blood money: the wages of mercenaries paid to hunt down bush bandits such as the members of the Clarke/Connell gang.

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The following engraving depicts the funeral procession that brought the bodies of the four mercenaries back to Braidwood:

Figure 3-16: Funeral of the four special constables assassinated at Jinden.

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The following commemorative engraving depicts the dead mercenaries:

Figure 3-17: Memorial engraving of the victims of Jinden.

As an immediate consequence of this mass assassination, the Connell brother who called himself Michael Nowlan O’Connell, proprietor of the Travellers’ Rest Inn at Stoney Creek, was committed on a charge of murder, along with a relative named James Griffin. But the real bandits were still at large. Besides, the drunken behavior of certain policemen and the apparent collusion of certain magistrates meant that bringing justice into the bushranger-ridden Braidwood region was not likely to be a straightforward affair.

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Final stance

The body of the accomplice William Scott—possibly assassinated by the Clarke brothers to prevent him from ever testifying against them—was discovered on 9 April 1867.

Finally, on the afternoon of 26 April 1867, a six-man police party—comprising Sergeant Wright, troopers James Wright, Edmond Egan, William Walsh, Lenehan and a blacktracker named Sir Watkin Wyne—reached the hut at Jinden Creek of Thomas Berry, who happened to be married (see figure 3-8) to Bridget Connell.

Figure 3-18: Troopers attack the Clarke brothers, bailed up in Thomas Berry’s hut at Jinden Creek.

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The next morning, after a short exchange of fire, Thomas and John Clarke were captured.

Figure 3-19: Arrest of the Clarke brothers.

Sergeant Wright, dressed in civilian clothes, is shown shaking hands with Thomas Clarke: a gesture that shocked many people who discovered this engraving in the press. During the gunfight, John Clarke had received a serious wound in his right shoulder. The blacktracker had received a bullet in his right wrist, and his lower arm would soon have to be amputated.

Trial and execution

The two bushrangers were brought back to Braidwood, where they were photographed in shackles, as shown in two images on the following pages. John, the younger but taller brother, is recognizable because the righthand sleeve of his light-colored coat is draped over his wounded shoulder. Apparently there were separate sittings for these photos, since the brothers have changed places between the two images.

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Figure 3-20: Thomas Clarke (left) and wounded John Clarke (right) at Braidwood police station.

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Figure 3-21: John Clarke (left) and Thomas Clarke (right).

At the conclusion of their trial at Darlinghurst Criminal Court in Sydney, which started on 28 May 1867, the Clarke brothers were sentenced to death, and they were hanged in Darlinghurst Jail on 25 June 1867.

 This former jail still exists, and serves today as an art college. Located near Kings Cross, the old buildings can be visited. Hangings were carried out behind one of the blocks on an external first-floor balcony that looked out over the external wall of the compound. The balcony itself no longer exists, but the obtuse angle of the building where it was located can be easily recognized. Chapter 3

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part III — Other Connell individuals I conclude this chapter with sketches of a few other Connell people.

Thomas Farrell and Ellen Connell

In July 1866, after Constable Thomas Kelly had shot dead Pat Connell in the wild bush country of the Krawarree Range, the police sewed the corpse in blankets and carried it back to Braidwood. At that point, conveniently, the deceased had a brother-in-law named Thomas Farrell who happened to be an undertaker. So, in death as in life, the affairs of the Braidwood bushrangers could be handled in a family fashion.

Figure 3-22: Thomas Farrell and his wife Ellen Connell [1824-1902].

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In those days, craftsmen such as Farrell had the habit of advertising their services:

Figure 3-23: Advertisement in the local newspaper.

No advertising was necessary to make Farrell known to the Braidwood police, who sketched his biography in their [Suspects] document: Thomas Farrell age about 60 years, 5ft. 9 inches high, medium build, an Irishman, trade carpenter. An imperial convict served his time with Major Nicholson of Mount Elrington near Braidwood. Is married to a sister of the late outlaw, Pat Connell and the aunt of the outlaw Thomas Clarke [Ellen Connell]. Farrell has resided several years in Braidwood. Has four adult sons, teamsters and are suspected telegraphs for Clarke and his gang and are otherwise questionable characters. Farrell was convicted of picking pockets in Dublin.

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Braidwood bushrangers


Michael Nowlan O’Connell

The third child of Michael Connell and Margaret Nowlan had got into the habit of referring to himself as Michael Nowlan O’Connell. Here is a portrait of this man:

Figure 3-24: . Michael Nowlan O’Connell [1821-1903].

The name of this apparently law-abiding gentleman (a registered innkeeper, like Charles Walker, handling postal services) is cited constantly in the documentation concerning the Clarke/Connell gang, and he even found himself charged with murder. We shall probably never learn the exact role played by this well-known Braidwood citizen in the context of the Clarke/Connell gang.

Chapter 3

Braidwood bushrangers


Michael Nowlan O’Connell’s family is outlined in the following chart: Cornelius DEMPSEY


Esther DEMPSEY b 1830 d 1859 Braidwood


Michael Nowlan O’CONNELL b ~1821 Loghill d 11 Feb 1903 Krawarree

m 23 Aug 1849 Norongo, Manaroo

b d m

Margaret GRIFFIN d 1877 Waterloo

m 1861 Braidwood

Mary O’CONNELL b 1862 Braidwood

David O’CONNELL b 1857 Braidwood d 1923 Nowra

NSW BDM record exists


Michael Joseph O’CONNELL b 10 May 1858 Stony Creek, Krawarree d 14 Nov 1920 Redfern, Sydney

Margaret O’CONNELL b 1865 Braidwood

Patrick O’CONNELL b 1863 Braidwood

Alice O’CONNELL b 1876 Braidwood

Figure 3-25: O’Connell family.

In the previous chapter, in figure 2-82, we saw that our ancestral relative Catherine Walker [1857-1939] married Michael Joseph O’Connell [1858-1920], who worked as a blacksmith.

Chapter 3

Braidwood bushrangers


Braidwood bushrangers  
Braidwood bushrangers  

My ancestor William Hickey appears to have "ridden with" (euphemism) the Clarke gang...