Free Settler or Felon

Early Hunter Valley Bushrangers 

1803 - 1820

Home  Pirates of the Speedwell | Pirates of the Eclipse 1825   Bushrangers


Garrett Armstrong,

Richard Bailey, Joshua Baither, William Bradley, Joseph Brooks, Joseph Burridge,

John Cobb, Samuel Cobb, Patrick Collins, James Condon, Calvert, John Cricks,  William Harrison Craig,

Thomas Desmond, Dennis Donovan, Druce,

John Fitzgerald,

Patrick Hogan,

William Johnson,  John Jones (Gibber Jack), Joel Josephs,

Thomas Keenan, Nicholas Knight, 

John Lee,

Thomas Madden, Morgan Maloney, James Martin,  John Maxwell,  McCabe, John Moore

George Napier, 

James O'Hearne,

Francis Parcello, Felix Patshaw, John Pierce, William Powers, Walter Preston, Samuel Pullen

Angelo le Rossi,

Francis Satchell, Scarr, Simpson, George Stone, Herbert Styles, Jeremiah Sullivan,

William Thomas, Daniel Thurston, Tierney

Walker, Samuel Walters, George Watts,  John Uran,




28 September 1811

GOVERNMENT PUBLIC NOTICE – Whereas the following Prisoners have absconded from His Majesty’s Settlement of Newcastle, and are supposed to be lurking about the lower part of the Hawkesbury; viz J. Fitzgerald, G. Armstrong and J. McCabe – three notorious characters; John Moore absconded from the Lieutenant Governor’s; Francis Satchell from the Lumber yard and William Bradley from the Boats’ crew; and also Samuel Pullen lately employed in the Lumber Yard at Sydney, and by trade a turner. All Persons are hereby strictly cautioned against harbouring encouraging, or maintaining all or either of the said Fugitives on pain pf prosecution and all constables and other persons are hereby required and directed to exert their utmost diligence in apprehending and lodging them in safe custody.

The Sydney Gazette 28 September 1811




25 July 1812

ABSCONDER John Fitzgerald , a notorious character, escaped from Lady Nelson bound for Port Dalrymple after plundering her of various articles of slop; and Henry Joyce absconded from Newcastle. Settlers and Constables are cautioned against harbouring.

The Sydney Gazette 25 July 1812

29 August 1812

SENT TO NEWCASTLE - John Jones (alias Gibber Jack) sentenced to three years to Newcastle for distillation of spirits at North Harbour, Sydney.

The Sydney Gazette 29 August 1812

31 October 1812

ESCAPE - Whereas John Jones better known as Gibber Jack, lately convicted and sentenced to Newcastle for distilling has made his escape from the settlement; This is to caution all settlers and others against harbouring, employing or otherwise encouraging the absentee on pain of prosecution. The Sydney Gazette 31 October 1812


16 January 1813

ABSCONDERS -The undermentioned prisoners having absented themselves from their respective employments, all constables and others are hereby strictly required to use utmost exertions in apprehending and lodging them in safe custody:

From Newcastle – John Jones alias Gibber Jack; James Martin; James O’Hearne; John Maxwell; Joshua Baither; Joel Josephs; James Conden; John Pierce; Angelo le Rosse; Richard Bailey; William Powers; Herbert Styles


13 February 1813 

TREATMENT OF ABSCONDING PRISONERS BY NATIVES  - On Sunday the 6th instant, four prisoners viz Joel Josephs, Samuel Waters, John Maxwell and Joseph Bathers were taken before a Bench of Magistrates assembled at Windsor, charged with desertion from Hunter’s River; from which place they were ordered to be returned. After admitting that they were fugitives from the above settlement, they related the particulars of their escape, which had been attended with circumstances peculiarly lamentable. Josephs left the settlement the 2nd of January and in two days after fell in with a party of natives, who stripped him, and left him without food to prosecute his perilous journey, which he nevertheless completed and gave himself up to a constable as soon as reached Hawkesbury – Waters, Maxwell and Bathers left the Settlement on Christmas Day, having in company Richard Bailey and William Powers – They lost their way, and getting into the mountains, wandered three weeks without the hope of ever reaching any of the Settlements. Chance directed them however, to the seacoast where they met with a large body of natives. Bailey was killed on the spot and the others were afterwards stripped and suffered to proceed towards Broken Bay, where they reached in an exhausted state which it was ascertained they could not have survived many hours had they not found relief from a man who ministered their immediate wants and conveyed them to Hawkesbury where they were given over to the Constables – The survivors appear to have a thorough sense of their obligations to Providence in having unexpectedly saved them from amidst their numerous perils, brought on by their own disobedience and rashness; and their sufferings will it is to be hoped be warning to others against engaging in such plans, which are pregnant with as many evils to themselves as subversive to the peace and good order of the Colony. Sydney Gazette 13 February 1813

17 April 1813

APPREHENDED John Jones (alias Gibber Jack) after several months at large was apprehended in Brickfields area for a repetition of his former offence. Sentenced to an extra three years hard labour at Newcastle  Sydney Gazette 17 April 1813


20 November 1813

PUBLIC NOTICE – The undermentioned prisoners having absented themselves from their respective employments, all constables and others are hereby strictly required to use utmost exertions in apprehending and lodging them in safe custody:

Daniel Thurston, John Uran, George Watts, Patrick Hogan, Angelo La Rosse, William Harrison Craig Sydney Gazette 20 November 1813


1814 - 1820


29 January 1814

HIGHWAY ROBBERY - Samuel Cobb, Angelo Le Rosse and Isaac Walker were charged with stopping Mr. Samuel Larkin on the highway and robbing him. The Sydney Gazette 29 January 1814

ABSCONDERS APPREHENDED -  Dennis Donovan and Thomas Madden both fugitives from Newcastle now in custody.  The Sydney Gazette 29 January 1814

26 March 1814

NEWCASTLE ABSCONDER -   Newcastle absconder Angelo la Rosse found guilty of robbing Samuel Larkin and sentenced to death. The Sydney Gazette 26 March 1814


16 April 1814

CONDEMNED TO DEATH - On Wednesday morning at 8 am, Richard Dowling, Francis Barry and Angelo le Rosse, three of the malefactors condemned to death before the late Court of Criminal Jurisdiction, were led to the place of execution and with their lives atoned for their offences. Dowling and Barry were very contrite but the other, a Roman Catholic and attended by a monitor of the same persuasion did not at the approach of death evince that resignation to his fate from which alone can emanate peace of mind which the true Christian wishes every fellow being to enjoy. The Sydney Gazette 16 April 1814


23 April 1814

'PIRATES' SEIZE THE SCHOONER SPEEDWELL  Information is received from Newcastle of the piratical capture of the Speedwell, a schooner of about 21 tons burthen, Patten master, on the night of the 7th instant, by four desperadoes, whose names are Burridge, Styles, Scarr and Pearce. The report states that the night was a continual heavy rain; and that about midnight the master was awakened by one of the ruffians, who requested in the name of the Commandant the loan of a grapnel, for the purpose of mooring a boat off; which the master went down the hold to procure, and was there secured after a struggle, in the course of which he received several blows on the head. The wife of the master being on board, and a seaman, who was asleep in the forecastle, they were both secured, and the wind favouring the audacious attack, the vessel was taken out of the harbour without the slightest alarm reaching the shore nor was she discerned till at the very mouth of the river; when the people on board the Governor Hunter, which had been that day launched from the beach she had sometime before grounded on, saw her beating about, and concluded she had got adrift, and was endeavouring to work in ; so that as it continued to rain very hard, no further notice was taken of her. The Governor Hunter’s boat had been missed the same night from along side, and it proved afterwards that she had been stolen by these depredators, and was employed in the capture, but given unto the three persons whom they made prisoners, to return with it to the settlement. On board the vessel was month’s provisions, and about sixty gallons of water; which may enable them for a short time to subsist, but they have no boat with them, and consequently can procure no supply of necessaries without the utmost risque to the vessel and their own lives; and thus as has been the case with every former attempt of the kind, may be counted on as the certain destruction of those who have been rash enough to engage in it. The Sydney Gazette 23 April 1814


May 1814


Public Notice -  Names of the Pirates who cut out the Speedwell Sloop on the night of 7th April 1814:

Joseph Burridge per General Hewitt 1814

Edward Scarr per Admiral Gambier 1811

Herbert Styles, Brig Eagle from India

John Pearce per Indian 1810

Any person or persons harbouring, concealing or maintaining any of the said absentees will be prosecuted for the offence The Sydney Gazette 7 May 1814


28 May 1814

BUSHRANGER Dennis Donovan - Public Notice – Whereas diverse Highway robberies and other offences have recently been committed in the vicinity of Sydney and its contiguous districts, some of which are vehemently suspected to be concerning Dennis Donovan a fugitive convict from Hunter River settlement. This is to give notice that any person or persons apprehending the said Dennis Donovan or giving information that may cause him to be apprehended will receive reward of £10. The Sydney Gazette 28 May 1814



11 June 1814

BUSHRANGER - Whereas Patrick Collins, a runaway from Newcastle and a notorious bushranger stands charged with having committed diverse robberies whoever will apprehend or cause to be apprehended the said Patrick Collins shall receive £20 reward.

Dennis Donovan apprehended in a house in York Street. William Farrell an alleged accomplice in his most recent crimes was also apprehended. The Sydney Gazette 11 June 1814


 1 July 1814

BUSHRANGER In the trial of Dennis Donovan for the murder of William Alder at Hawkesbury River – Donovan said a compass had ‘guided him from the Coal River’. (Here it may be proper to remark that the prisoner Donovan and Patrick Collins had escaped from Hunter River at about the same time; and that Croppy Beach which was near the place where the murders took place is named Croppy Beach by the natives as a place which fugitives from Hunter river cannot avoid in their escape from that settlement. The Sydney Gazette 1 July 1814



24 September 1814

BUSHRANGER Patrick Collins was apprehended by John Warby and several natives at the Devil’s Back. He was speared in the leg and arm by natives before he gave himself up The Sydney Gazette 24 September 1814

10 December 1814

PUBLIC NOTICE  The Persons undernamed being Convicts who absconded from Newcastle all persons are hereby cautioned against harbouring, employing encouraging or in anywise maintaining any or either of the said Persons on Pain of Prosecution:

John Cobb, who arrived by the 2nd Ann; absent since the 31st October last

Francis Parcello and Walter Preston , by the Guildford; John Cricks by the Archduke Charles; Isaac Walker by the 1st Gambier; John Lee by the 2nd Gambier; and  Thomas Desmond  by the Atlas; all of whom absented themselves from the Lime Burning Gang on the 25th of November ultimo.

All constables and others are hereby required to do their utmost Endeavour in apprehending or causing to be apprehended all or any of the said Fugitives. The Sydney Gazette 10 December 1814


19 August 1815

PUBLIC NOTICE – The Persons undernamed being Convicts who absconded from Newcastle all persons are hereby cautioned against harbouring, employing encouraging, maintaining any or either of the said Persons on Pain of Prosecution:

Jeremiah Sullivan, George Stone, Thomas Keenan, William Thomas, Joseph Brooks, Nicholas Knight The Sydney Gazette 19 August 1815



2nd March 1816

HIGHWAY ROBBERY - Nicholas Knight, formerly stockman to J. Connell of Pitt Street, Sydney charged with highway robbery and diverse misdemeanours. 5’10”; stout; red hair; long visage; freckled, white mark on bridge of nose which is peaked. Native of Dublin. Absconded from Newcastle. The Sydney Gazette 2nd March 1816

15 June 1816

COURT OF CRIMINAL JURISDICTION - On Monday the Court assembled; and after giving gone through the usual formulae adjourned to Tuesday; when Nicholas Knight stood indicted for feloniously robbing Mrs. Pearce, on the Liverpool Road, in February last, of two gallons of spirits and a quantity of barley – Guilty The Sydney Gazette 15 June 1816

6 July 1816

COURT OF CRIMINAL JURISDICTION - On Tuesday the court re opened at one o’clock; when the several prisoners that had been convicted were placed at the bar to receive sentence.

Nicholas Knight, for a highway robbery, attended with some unfavourable circumstances, received Sentence of Death; previous to passing which the Judge Advocate earnestly exhorted the prisoner to prepare himself for that awful change for which he was consigned by the laws of his Country, as the offence of which he had been found guilty unfortunately precluded him the hope of mercy in this world. The Sydney Gazette 6 July 1816


20 July 1816

EXECUTED -Yesterday morning were executed, (Sydney) pursuant to their sentence, Elizabeth Anderson, James Stock and Nicholas Knight – The criminals walked to their place of execution by their own choice and died with every appearance of penitence.  The Sydney Gazette 20 July 1816

31 August 1816

ABSCONDING PRISONERS - By the last advices from the Settlement of Newcastle it appears that two runaways who had escaped from thence during Captain Thompson’s command and whose names are Jeremiah Sullivan and Thomas Keenan, returned to that Settlement on the 23rd instant, both severely speared, the former so badly as not to be expected to live – And also, that 3 men who had deserted so lately as on the 20th instant, named Thomas Norton, John Lee and Isaac Walker, returned on the 24th all severely speared, who report, that Thomas McCarthy who accompanied them at the same time they deserted, had been killed by the natives. These melancholy instances of the fate of those deluded people who thus venture to desert from their duty, we should hope would operate as a warning against any future attempts of this nature, by showing them what they have to expect from rashly exposing themselves to the hostility of the natives, rather than endeavouring by habits of industry and attention to their duty, to open a path to their future comfort and prosperity.  The Sydney Gazette 31 August 1816


11 April 1818

Gypsey Smith -

Gypsey Smith  - By the Lady Nelson, which came in last Saturday morning from Hunter’s River, a prisoner of the name of William Smith, commonly known by the name of Gypsey Smith, is returned to this Colony from whence it appears he was missing about the period of the Cossar’s piratical seizure and taking off. He was delivered over to the Lady Nelson at Newcastle by order of the Commandant and acknowledged to having been in the bush nine months at the time of his sudden absence. His wife was missing also it is stated he was taken in the settlement of Newcastle by the natives, who at the same time declared that a white woman was still among them supposed to have been the wife of this man. The Sydney Gazette 11 April 1818

George Napier

George Napier, assigned to Wilson’s Gang, absconded from the Prisoner’s Barracks, Hyde Park; he had been recently returned from Newcastle, from which settlement he had formerly absented himself for a length of time. This old bushranger is well known in the districts of Liverpool and Castlereagh, is about thirty years of age, stout made, of dark complexion; slightly pock pitted, and arrived per ship Fortune. The Sydney Gazette 11 April 1818




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