Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Hunter Valley Bushrangers

Thomas Farrow and William Rowley

Thomas Farrow arrived on the Mangles in 1833. He went by the name of 'Rolling Eye Tom' a reference to an unfortunate inward cast of his left eye. He was a broom maker by trade; and was 5' 4in with dark sallow pock-pitted complexion and dark brown hair. He was said to be a most ferocious, savage-looking fellow. He absconded from Edward Gostwyck Cory at Paterson on the 6th January 1838.

He was captured and re-assigned to William Burnett at Paterson and absconded from service there in February 1839.

He was apprehended at Muswellbrook however escaped from the Muswellbrook Lockup on the 10th April 1839 with several other men - Francis McCarthy, John Main, Robert Sheldon and William Atkinson.

William Rowley

William Rowley arrived on the Lady Harewood in 1831. He was described as having a dark sallow complexion, dark brown hair, grey eyes, tattoos, a scar left side of upper lip and a small scar across upper part of nose. He had been employed as a miner in his native Staffordshire. He was sentenced to 12 months in an iron gang in February 1835.

He absconded from the service of J.G. Betty at Paterson and in August 1839


In August 1839 William Rowley and Thomas Farrow joined with other bushrangers William Atkinson and Iram (Hirum) Holmes to rob the house of Matthew Chapman at Dungog. Following this robbery William Rowley and Thomas Farrow were captured by the Mounted Police in January 1840......

To Major Nunn, Commander of Mounted Police, Sydney.
JERRY PLAINS, Jan. 19, 1840.
SIR, -
I have the honor to report to you the capture of the armed bushrangers named underneath. The former is the notorious Blind Tom, who has been in the bush nearly four years. He broke out of the Lock-up at Muswell Brook, and has been engaged in at least thirty different robberies; amongst others, Mr. Chapman's, on the Williams River. They were taken by Sergeant Tasser and party on the 16th, at a sheep station of Mr. Flints, about 39 miles from our barracks.

I beg to recommend to your notice the activity and tact displayed by Sergeant Tasser and party, on this occasion, and trust you will be pleased to represent their conduct as deserving His Excellency's approbation. For since it has become customary to try such characters before the Court of Quarter Sessions, the soldier loses the conviction reward and gets no more for armed bushrangers than the common crawler.

I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient servant,
H. J. Sayers.
Lieut. Com. 3rd Division Mounted Police.

The following notice in the Australasian Chronicle listed property in their possession when taken -
Thomas Farrow, alias Blind Tom, alias Cory's Tom, Mangles, 14 years; William Rowley, Lady Harewood, life. In possession when taken, 2 horses, 2 saddles, 2 fowling pieces, 2 horse pistols, 1 powder flask, 2 boxes and caps, some balls, 1 silver watch, 1 black coat. [1]

Newcastle Gaol

They were admitted to Newcastle gaol in January 1840 however escaped while in custody awaiting trial at the Quarter Sessions in February 1840. They were apparently armed to the teeth and well mounted on stolen horses when William Rowley was captured by Percy Simpson on Christmas Day 1840

The Police Magistrate Percy Simpson Esq., has just returned from a week's ride after the Bushrangers amongst the broken hills of Mount Royal and the Paterson, from information he had received of their haunts.

At first he was accompanied by two gentlemen and a few assigned servants, also mounted and on the second day they got sight of three armed bushrangers on horseback, whom they followed till nightfall, when further pursuit became impracticable. On Thursday night he returned home; but again took horses and went out at day light next morning (Christmas day), with three assigned servants. They returned last night bringing in the notorious 'Rowley' his horse and arms, and he is now safely lodged in the lock up. Thus another in addition to the six already captured, has been secured. [2]

In May 1842 William Rowley was sentenced to transportation for life for bushranging. He was sent to Van Diemen's Land on the Marian Watson in September 1842. He received a Ticket of Leave in April 1850 and recommended for a Conditional Pardon in June 1852. His Ticket of Leave was revoked in January 1853 and re granted in January 1854.


[1] Australasian Chronicle 24 January 1840

[2] Sydney Herald 1 January 1841