James Mason, James Martin, James Walker & Thomas Kievers
1840 Gammon Plains
|At the Supreme
Court in Sydney on Saturday 7th November
1840 several men were tried for bushranging.
Two of them would be dead within the month.
James Mason, assigned servants to Mr.
Blaxland; and James Walker,
James Howard and
Robert Rawson, assigned to Mr.
Bettington, were arraigned at the bar; James
Martin for the wilful murder of John Johnson
by shooting him in the head with a pistol,
on 24th March 1840 at Gammon Plains (Merriwa).
Mason and Walker were charged with
being present at the time, and aiding and
assisting; and Howard and Rawson for being
accessories after the fact. All the men
pleaded not guilty and a lengthy trial
followed. Two of the witnesses called,
John Green and
Thomas Kievers were approvers.
John Green had been engaged in the outrage
that had occurred at the house of
Henry Pelham Dutton when John Johnson
was shot. Henry Dutton who was a settler at
Gammon Plains, was the first witness called.
His residence was situated about a mile and
a half from Mr. Bettington's place and about
three miles from Mr. Blaxland's. Dutton
testified that the bushrangers came to his
house about half an hour after sundown; Mrs.
Dutton and three children were in the
bedroom at the time and Dutton was in the
hall of the house when he heard a loud crash
of glass in the front parlour. Upon opening
the door he was confronted with two masked
men who threatened him with a gun. He was
held in the room and shortly joined by his
family, three female servants and two of
their children and two male servants.
All four bushrangers were covered by
masks which covered their whole head and
reached to their shoulders with slits cut
with a knife to see through; and were
dressed in smock frocks and moleskin
trousers. After about 45 minutes there was
gunfire in the hall and John Johnson,
carpenter to Dutton, was found to have been
Thomas Kievers, an approver
was called on as a witness. He was 22 years
old and an Irishman from Co. Mayo who
arrived on the
Bengal Merchant in 1835. He was bred at
Newcastle-upon-Tyne and was a travelling
pedlar. He had been punished four times,
twice for losing sheep, once for going away
from his station without a pass, and once
for refusing to carry rations fifteen miles;
the first time he received fifty lashes, the
second time a hundred, the third time twenty
five, and the fourth time fifty lashes. He
was at the same station near Boggy Bryne
Creek, as John Walker and James Howard, two
of the prisoners at the bar.
first took to the bush with James Mason on
9th March after being ill-treated by the
superintendent who refused to give Kievers
tea, sugar and tobacco. Kievers had been
told by the superintendent after he had been
punished the last time for refusing to carry
the rations that he would be made to carry
them every day all the winter a distance of
fifteen miles. Kievers testified that he and
Mason together with Green and Dayley carried
out two or three robberies together. (Green
was an assigned servant to Mr. Blaxland and
Dayley to James Bettington).
prisoners Martin, Mason and Walker went with
Kievers to carry out the robbery on Dutton's
house. They armed themselves with a large
stick, a cut down musket and fowling piece.
Later when some of the loot was found by the
mounted police, articles included clothing,
Wellington boots, a cruet stand, several
gold rings, stockings, trinkets that had
belonged to Mrs. Dutton and toy horses and
men made of bone.
Green gave insight into the brutality and
callousness of the gang in his evidence. He
also testified that James Martin was a close
associate of the notorious
and that he believed that Martin murdered
Opposum Jack. Henry Beaverson (Bevison) was
another associate of this loosely knit gang
who attempted to murder Kievers, and was
himself later murdered by James Martin.
A verdict of guilty against Martin,
Mason and Walker was pronounced. The other
two, Howard and Rawson, were found not
James Martin and James Mason
were hanged on 8th December.
Walker was reprieved because Henry
Dutton recalled that Walker had prevented
any violence occurring towards Mrs. Dutton.
Notes & Links
Australasian Chronicle 10 November 1840
Sydney Herald 9 November 1840 - Trial
Sydney Herald 25 November 1840 - -
The Colonist 8 December 1840 - Day of
The Colonist 10 December 1840 - The