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Hunter Valley Bushrangers

James Wilson, Daniel Delaney & Francis Sutcliffe

New England 1840's


In November 1843 Mr. Perfrement, owner of the Golden Fleece Inn at Gammon Plains, was stopped by an armed bushranger, near a place called Brown's Springs, about fifteen miles beyond the Peel River. His horse, boots, and everything else were taken from him. The robber, Wilson, was well known to the authorities.

Twelve months later in November 1844 James Wilson (also known as "The Little Scotchman"), was still continuing to plague travellers in the district and it was to be two years before the troopers caught up with him. 

Sergeant Giles, Corporal Worsley and four privates had been in pursuit of Wilson's gang for a long period when Sergeant Giles resolved to divide his party and send Corporal Worsley and troopers Joyce and Maher to the ranges at the head of the Clarence River, while he, with the other two troopers, proceeded to the Darling Downs where a robbery had been just committed.

Charles Gardiner recalled the day clearly when the four armed men approached Mr. Bloxsome's station. Sutcliffe stood sentry over the door armed with a blunderbuss while the others raided the station. They escaped with horses belonging to Charles Gardiner and John Baker who was superintendent at the station.

In May 1846 the following account was sent by Corporal Worsley to the commandant of the Mounted Police Lieutenant Mair.

"Yulgillar"

'SIR - I beg to state for your information that on the 7th May we were informed that the bushrangers Wilson and his party, of whom we were in pursuit, had robbed the station of Mr. Bloxome of Rostion. The next morning we went after them , and took the aboriginal black with us to track. We got on it on the morning of the 9th, and followed them over mountains and through scrubs so thick that we were obliged to cut our way through them with our knives.

We fell in with them on the morning of the 12th, at half past eight o'clock; (* Delaney was cooking at the time) we saw their fire from the ridge where we were on. I dismounted the men, as I would have been heard with the horses, from the bank of the creek upon which they were, being very hard and scrubby.

As we came up the bank they were prepared. I ordered them to lay down their arms, but they refused to do so. The bushranger (Daniel) Delaney, whom we captured, being behind a tree, five yards from the bank, with double barrelled piece, he fired at me, but missed me; when seeing Wilson with a blunderbuss and spring bayonet attached, presented, and double barrelled gun at his knee, I fired at him, but missed, when Delaney rushed on me, and caught me in his arms around the body. I then ordered trooper Joyce, as he was close by, to do his duty, which he did, and shot him through the shoulder blade. I then, seeing trooper Maher in front of Wilson, without any covering, ran immediately to his assistance, when Wilson fired his blunderbuss at Maher, and shot him in the fleshy part of the thigh, and lodged thirteen buckshot in him, as he was making for cover. Maher then fired at him, and put a ball in his left elbow. he then ran with the double barrelled piece still in his hand; Maher followed and knocked him down with the butt of his carbine, which broke; he got up again and made an effort to cross the creek; I drew my pistol and shot him through the left side. Trooper Maher not being able to move, I went to see after the other two bushrangers, that we had not seen, as they had got into the scrub when we first challenged. At this time the affray was over, having lasted one hour.

Wilson was severely wounded, but lived until half past three, being six hours and a half.

I then mustered all I could find in the camp, consisting of eighteen stand of arms, six horses, four saddles(*belonging to the border police), two pack horses, with a quantity of ammunition and other baggage.

Having one dead and two wounded men, and not knowing where we might find a station, I thought it best to remain all night, as we should have to go all over mountains.

On the morning of the 13th, we started, and made an out station of Mr. Ogilvie's, on the Clarence River, about twelve miles distance, where I left the wounded in charge of trooper Joyce, and proceeded to the head station for assistance. Next morning I returned with a dray, when Joyce reported that one of the bushrangers, who had escaped, was lurking in the vicinity, where a shepherd brought him some meat to detain him until I should come back. I then rode off, and apprehended him in a gully, about three quarters of a mile from the station, with a double barrelled gun in his possession. (This was Francis Sutcliffe)

We brought the dead and wounded on the dray to the head station, where J. Melton, Esq. J.P., had arrived, in the absence of the Commissioner of Crown Lands, who had been sent for, but was out in pursuit of the party we had taken.

We could get no medical aid up to the present, but I proceed tomorrow to New England for Dr. Traill, who is the nearest medical gentleman to this place.

Trooper Maher is not mortally wounded, neither is the prisoner Delaney, but they are not in a fit state to be removed.

Mr. Melton took down the depositions today when we interred Wilson.

I am sir, your most obedient servant,

Corporal Worsley, Mounted Police

 

Francis Sutcliffe and Daniel Delaney were later sentenced to transportation for Life for the robbery of Connor

 

 

 

 

 

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