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Australian Colonial Intelligence

Gilbert: The Bushranger ~ 1865


 


Dear Grandpa Pencil looks at early Australian development through journals, official reports and newspaper excerpts of the day. Readers should remember that these accounts are based on personal observations at the time and some have, since, been shown to be flawed.

'Gilbert: The Bushranger' is drawn from an article in The Illustrated Sydney News: 16th June 1865
Note: This material is not suitable for smaller children

Since the recent announcement of John Gilbert's death we have been placed in possession of the following particulars from the narrative of a participator in the closing scene of the outlaws career:

On the morning of the 12th of May, 1865 a man named Furlonge was visited by John Gilbert and John Dunn who took away one of his best horses leaving in its place one stolen from Murrumburrah on the previous night.

During the day the bushrangers made their way towards Binalong.
The same night, information was received by the police that they were camped at Riley's Hill, about two miles from the village.

Senior Constable Hales, Constables King, Bright and Hall, started off in the direction indicated - believing that, as Dunn's grandfather, a man named Kelly, resided in that locality, the bushrangers would, if in that district, be certain to visit his house.

On reaching the vicinity, the police hid themselves, and watched the house all night, without perceiving any indication of the bushrangers.
They returned to Binalong about daylight on Saturday.

An hour later, as a result of fresh information received, the police retraced their steps to Kelly's where they arrived at nine o'clock.

After waiting and watching for nearly an hour, Kelly came out of the hut, and walked up and down in front of the door, but soon after joined his wife indoors.

Shortly afterwards Kelly's son appeared, and Constable Hales interrogated him as to the inmates of the house.

He was informed that there were no strangers there then, nor during the previous night. Not satisfied with the reply, Constable Hales determined to search the premises.

As he approached he heard Kelly exclaim: "The house is surrounded by troopers." Hales and King then rushed into the house, and perceived the door leading into the adjoining room shut very quickly.

A shot was immediately fired at the police. They returned the fire and ran outside.

Hales called out to the bushrangers to come out, or he would burn the place over their heads. Whether this had the desired effect it is impossible to say, but directly after Gilbert and Dunn were seen to emerge from a small window in the end of the house.

They were perceived by Trooper Bright who fired at them.
They returned fire and retreated through the fence and ran toward the creek followed by the police.

Hales called out to Gilbert: "Stand and I will spare your life!" But Gilbert took no notice, and got behind a tree and fired at King with a revolving rifle, Gilbert then aimed at Hales and Bright but the rifle missed fire.

The police were then within fifty yards of him. Gilbert went down the bank and was running along the bank of the creek when Hales and Bright fired simultaneously, and Gilbert fell.

The police pursued Dunn who was running towards an adjoining scrub which he reached in safety after shooting Constable King through the ankle.

On returning, Gilbert was found quite dead, the ball having entered the left side, fracturing one rib, passed through the heart, and came out the front.

On his body were found four 5 pound notes, a gold Albert and sundry trinkets, two gold rings, two boxes of caps, a great number of bullets of different sizes and a flask of powder.

In his belt were two Colt's revolvers, each loaded and capped (one stamped, "New South Wales Police, No. 425"), a revolving rifle, a Tranter.

The body was at once conveyed to Binalong lock-up where it was identified by a number of persons as that of Gardiner's lieutenant, whose long immunity from pernicious example and his evil advice, had led several young men to violent deaths and others to spend the best years of their existence immured in a convict's cell.


 


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