|Jacob's Irish Brigade, also known as Jacob's Mob were
the first organised gang of bushrangers in the lower
Hunter. They were notable because horse patrols were
established to deal with bushrangers after this time.(4)
Their leader was Patrick Riley.
The gang consisted
of the following men:
Patrick Riley - Arrived on
Castle Forbes in 1824; sentenced to
transportation for Life in county Meath in 1823;
considered to be the leader of the gang
Clinch - Arrived on the
Isabella in 1823 and was assigned to
Vicars Jacob by March 1824; In 1825 a reward
was offered for his capture and he was described as - Age
28; native of Longford; 5'5"; hazel eyes; brown hair;
pale, little freckled complexion
Aaron Price -
Arrived on the
Guildford in 1824 the same vessel
that brought Chief Justice Sir Francis Forbes; Price
received a sentence of transportation for Life in 1823;
was assigned to
Vicars Jacob in 1824; occupation: blacksmith.
His description in 1825 - Age 21, native of Oxford; 5'6
1/2"; hazel eyes, brown hair, brown complexion;
Lawrence Cleary - Arrived on the
Mangles in 1824; sentenced to
transportation for Life at the Old Bailey in 1823.
Thomas Moss - Arrived on the
Minerva in 1824.
The map below
shows some of the area the gang operated in.....
On 1 July 1825
James Reid J.P., acting for
Vicars Jacob, charged Patrick
Riley with neglect of duty and losing four sheep.
Riley was sentenced to receive 50 lashes and
ordered to Newcastle for punishment. On the way to
Newcastle he escaped. That night he stole several
James Reid's Rosebrook estate
and the next day he was joined by three prisoners
from Vicar's Jacob estate - Clinch, Price and
Cleary in a raid on the farm.
were later joined by John McDonnel, a runaway from
A. B. Sparke's estate, and
Thomas Moss, a servant of
Francis Moran. On 5 July the
original four men robbed
Standish Harris' farm at
Phoenix Park taking from there a brace of brass
barrelled pistols; on the 8th,
David Maziere's and
James McClymont's farms (McClymens
on the map)
Lieutenant William Hicks' farm was
raided - Mr. Jacob's men and two others, all armed,
took him by surprise a little after seven o'clock in the
evening. Mr. Hicks had been in the habit of visiting his
barn after sunset, to ascertain if all was correct; when
returning, on turning the corner of his house four men
armed, appeared; to resist was impossible, as he found
during his absence they had secured his men, entered the
house, took his watch, blunderbuss and musket. Mrs. Hicks
was greatly frightened being en famille; one of the marauders
threatened to shoot her; they did not leave him a charge
of ammunition, carried all off, in addition to a quantity
of wearing apparel. Mr. Hicks described them as well armed
with bayonets, pistols, and muskets. (2)
August they were captured and taken to the Wallis Plains
lockup. Two days later they overpowered their guards,
seized weapons and ammunition and escaped. They also took
a musket from William O'Donnell and horses from various
settlers. Despite vigorous pursuits led by
Robert Scott of Glendon and
Alexander McLeod of Luskintyre who
pursued them as far as
Brown's Brush where they lost them, the
bushrangers continued on their rampage.
August they had two encounters with the police from
Luskintyre. On 18 August they went to James Reid's house
at Rosebrook, and burnt the house down in revenge for his
treatment of convicts. He lost his wheat and some valuable
property in the same manner, and was only able to save his
bedding and articles of furniture.
On 20 August
William Evans' farm....... Mr. Evans's
house was attacked Mr. E. opened the window in the
approach of the Bushrangers intending to fire upon them
but not seeing them at that moment, he hesitated. Mrs. E.
shewed a great deal of coolness and courage and urged her
husband to make every possible resistance. They afterwards
summoned him to open the door - this he refused; upon
which they obtained a light and threaten to burn the house
to the ground. At this time eight of Mr. E's own men made
their appearance, and he of course thought all was safe,
and that probably the Bushrangers would be secured.
Strange, however, to say, and yet not strange to say, for
the men were prisoners, they one and all very complacently
seated themselves, and allowed the Bushrangers to make a
thorough ransack of the house; while they only laughed at
the goings on, observing that they would not risk their
lives in fights which did not concern them.
Another account, however, states that these men were
fastened in an out house whether voluntarily or not does
The Bushrangers got possession of Mr.
Dangar's double barrelled fowling piece and four muskets,
and Clothing and provisions. They destroyed the cocks of
the muskets. Mr. Evans describes them as apparently
suffering from want of food. They had no shoes. They
seemed also to be short of powder. They had all made off
before any alarm could be given to the nearest neighbours.
A regular night watch is kept by the Settlers, some of
whom have a good deal of confidence in the men about their
premises. It is very evident, from the manoeuvres of the
Bushrangers that they receive information from the
stockmen and others. (3)
On Wednesday the
24th (August), four bushrangers went to
Dr. Henry Radford's house near
Lochdon, the farm of
James McGillivray's, and met with a
reception little expected - the Doctor had notice of their
approach, and the moment he observed them, fired, and
wounded one man severely - as the waistcoat was found
yesterday morning, all covered with blood. One of Dr.
Radford's men acted with great courage, and wounded
another - this man deserves great credit for supporting
his Master, as it seems to be believed that not one
prisoner in fifty in this district would have followed his
example. The parties fired fourteen shots. (1)
Daniel Donovan who arrived on the
Mangles in 1824 (same ship as
Lawrence Cleary) was one of the assigned servants on Dr.
Radford's farm. He was afterwards sent to the coal mines
and then a penal settlement for mutinous conduct and
supporting the bushrangers during the attack.
respecting the bushrangers dated 29th August stated.....
that they are concealed in a brush at a place called
narrow gut at Wallis's Plains; if this be the case, you
may expect very shortly to hear a good account of them.
The wounded man is with them, they are lying by for his
perfect recovery; and for subsistence they have killed a
bullock belonging to Mr. Harris.
newspapers at the time recorded other prisoners who
absconded from nearby farms including Henry Sears, Bernard
Padden, John Chapman and Isaac Deane who all absconded
John Boughton at Paterson.
Captain Allman sent out troops from Newcastle
and the Gang were finally confronted in October when
Serjeant Wilcox and privates Wright and John Coffee
tracked them down to
Sparke's farm at Hexham.
approaching within 200 yards of a hut on the farm of Mr.
Spark the troopers observed a man exit from it. Their
suspicions were awakened, and on his giving the alarm to
persons inside, they were assured that they were correct,
and that he and his comrades were bushrangers. The
Sergeant fired into the hut.
Patrick Riley came
out, and before he could be captured, fired twice on the
soldiers; one of whom, Coffee, returned the fire and shot
him dead on the spot. Two others had also come from the
hut. These two stood looking on till Riley fell. They then
made off. Cleary was later taken and Price surrendered.
Clinch escaped although was soon captured.
Colonial Times & Tasmania Advertiser carried an extract
from a letter received from Sydney reporting on the gang's
'The whole of the Banditti (except
one, who is wounded in the shoulder and in the hand) of
bushrangers, which lately committed so many outrages in
the district of Newcastle, is captured. One, a man named
Riley, was shot dead by a soldier, and two others were
taken and are now in custody. There is little doubt but
they will be executed. A part of the Horse Patrol, lately
established here, under the command of Lieutenant Evernden,
of the Buffs, embarks this evening on board the Amity for
This new Corps is 30 strong; its
uniform is the same as that of the Governor's Body Guard.
The remainder of the Corps is going to Bathurst, to scour
that part of the country of the vagabonds there at large.'
A sentence of death was passed on the
remaining members of the gang, although they were
reprieved at the last moment. Aaron Price was about to
ascend scaffold when his reprieve came through and it was
reported in the Australian They were sent to Norfolk
Island which had been re-opened as a place of secondary
Lawrence Cleary, Patrick Clinch and
Thomas Moss were later involved in riots there. Patrick
Clinch endured two years there before attempting to escape
from the settlement.
In a strange twist of fate,
Aaron Price eventually became an overseer of public works
at Norfolk Island. In 1846 he was involved in a riot, but
on the side of the constables and military. He kept a
diary while at Norfolk Island which can be found in the
Peter Cunningham wrote of Jacob's
Irish Brigade in Two Years of New South Wales......
The following letter was sent by James Mudie of
Castle Forbes, Patrickís Plains to bring to the Governorís
attention the threat of bushrangers in the surrounding
area. He includes a first hand account of bushrangers
given by Martin Dealy, Overseer at Mr Leslie Duguidís
State Records NSW
Chief Justice Francis Forbes' evidence
regarding Norfolk Island.....
(1) Whiskers Hill (Pandora Archive)
The Australian 4 August 1825
(3) The Australian 1
(4) Sydney Gazette 9 September 1825