Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Hunter Valley Bushranger

James Gibbons

James Gibbons was eighteen years old when he arrived in Australia on the Mermaid in 1830. He could read and write and had been employed as a weaver before being arrested for house breaking. He was tried at Salford Quarter Sessions on 29th July 1829 and sentenced to fourteen years transportation. He had two prior convictions. [1]

On arrival in the colony he was assigned to William Dangar in the Hunter Valley. He absconded from William Dangar's Turanville estate in July 1839 and was apprehended in September 1839. [2]

He escaped from the Escort to Muswellbrook in January 1840.


He was captured by Constable William Roach in November 1840.

The Australian published a letter from a correspondent with details of the capture -

'I am glad to inform you that on Thursday last, the notorious bushranger, Gibbons, was brought to the Scone Lock-up, along with two others, ticket-of-leave men, for harbouring him, by William Roach, holding a ticket-of-leave for this district, and stockman for many years to Mr. John Wiseman and his relations at Loader's (Loder) Station, Liverpool Plains, accompanied by a trooper of the Border Police.

Too much praise cannot be given to Roach and the Policeman, the former especially, as he endangers his life when he returns to his station through associates, as some more are still out, and Roach, being a stockman, is in the habit of falling in with those fellows, who are continually prowling about to see whom they can plunder and ill use. It is, therefore, to be hoped, that his Excellency will grant to Roach, and his companion in arms, a conditional pardon, if not, an absolute one for the former, and also, a reward for the risk they have run; which, I have no doubt, would induce other ticket-of-leave men, as well as assigned servants, to go out in pursuit of those lawless fellows.

Gibbons was brought up on Friday, before Mr. Robertson, P.M., and Mr. Mayne, Commissioner; and, I am happy to say, was fully identified, as he denied being the person on his way down, and committed on various charges: such as, the Murrurundi mail robbery, horse-stealing, having fire-arms in his possession, etc; his two associates, or harbourers, as a great deal of property was found in their huts, have been fully committed.

The horses found in their possession have been claimed by Mr. John Campbell, Jun., of Page's River, and Mr. John Eckford, of Maitland; also, a small quantity of the property, the residue lies at the Court House for identification, and two or three large bags full of articles; a cheque was found in Gibbons' possession which was in the mail at the time of the robbery.

Gibbons having escaped, on a former occasion, at Patrick's Plains, Constable Roach remained to see him safely lodged in Newcastle Gaol, and so accompanied some of Mayne's Border Police, under orders of Corporal Dowling, a very active Police Officer, to Newcastle, where, I trust, they will arrive in safety.'[3]

Newcastle Gaol

John Wilson per Clyde, Francis Knight per Lady Kennaway, George Wilson per Moffatt and James Gibbons per Mermaid were admitted to Newcastle gaol on 27 January 1841 from Scone district. They were to be sent for trial in Sydney for being illegally at large with fire-arms and horse stealing in November 1840


[1] State Archives NSW. Convict Indents. microfiche 675

[2] Government Gazette 24 July 1839

[3] The Australian 26 November 1840