Joseph Fleming, a
stockholder in the Liverpool Plains district
having heard that a party of bushrangers who
had been committing many outrages were in a
hut on the banks of the Big River, made up a
party consisting of himself, Mr. Freer, Mr.
Brown and three free men named Clark, Pearson,
and Istead. The bushrangers were in a hut
belonging to a Mr. Marshall; immediately opposite to it
was a hut belonging to Mr. Scott, to which Mr
Fleming and his party went.
The gang of
bushrangers consisted of
Richard Young (alias Gentleman Dick)
who arrived on the convict ship
Richard Young had been convicted of desertion in Co. Mayo.
He was a native of Hertfordshire and a
shoemaker by trade.
The indents reveal that he could read and
write and was 5' 7½" in height, with dark
brown hair and grey eyes. In 1837 he was
assigned to Major A. C. Innes at Port
was 32 years of age at the time of the
Young was later indicted for shooting at
with intent to murder him at the Big River on
the 26th May.
arrived on the
having been tried in Quebec.
His gaol description states he was a native of
New York, occupation labourer. He was 23 at the time of the robberies;
3. John Rose alias
arrived on the
John Barry in 1836. He was a native
of Liverpool and
convicted at the age of 13. He was 18 years of
age at the time of the robberies. The
Newcastle gaol entrance books record John Rose
as having been born in the colony at Illawarra
4. Thomas Spencer,
arrived on the
Marquis of Huntley in 1830.
had been tried in Preston. He gave his
occupation as sawyer in the gaol entrance
records. He was 26 years of
age at the time of the robberies;
Richard Young's lover
Mary Ann a native girl.
The gaol entrance books record only that she
was born in New South Wales.
The gang had
committed a number of robberies and other
outrages in the New England district - They
Benjamin Singleton's horses, robbed
Peter McIntyre's station and several others.
In June they
also held up newly arrived brothers
John and George Everett at Ollera station,
stealing their belongings and horses before
fleeing into the bush.
In pursuit of
the bushrangers near Scott's hut, Joseph Fleming and the
others of the party fell in with three
servants belonging to a Mr. Smith one of whom
Mr. Fleming sent to the nearest police
station, and another to Mr. Fitzgerald's
station for further assistance.
arrived at the hut, Allen was walking up and
down outside. Young came out of the hut with a
gun in his hand and asked Joseph Fleming if they
wanted them; Fleming replied that they
came for the purpose of taking them in. Young
said that they would never be taken, every man
of them would be shot before they would be
taken, to which Fleming replied that they
were determined to take them dead or alive.
Young called them cowardly dogs for standing
behind the hut, when Mr. Freer said that if
they would come half way across to meet them
they would see whether they were cowards.
Young and Allen then went into the hut and
Allen shortly afterwards came out with a great
coat on, and a belt with a gun on each side of
him, a sword and a gun in his hand. Allen kept
parading up and down in front of the hut and
Young kept going in and out of the hut
sometimes with one gun and sometimes with two.
John Rose and the native woman were out
looking for horses. There followed a seven
hour siege with Fleming and the other men
holding the bushrangers at bay while they awaited backup
from the Mounted Police, until finally the
Their names are recorded in the Newcastle gaol
entrance books dated 26 June 1839 and they
were forwarded to Sydney the following day.
reported: William Allen, John Rose, Thomas
Spencer and Richard Young, with Mary Ann, a
black girl associated with the gang were
committed to Her Majesty's Gaol in Sydney, on
Tuesday last, under the warrant of
John Allman Esq., Magistrate at
These were a party of bushrangers and have
been guilty of serious acts of plunder and
atrocity. The girl used to accompany them in
male attire, and stand guard over the prey,
when once secured, with her firelock over her
General in praying judgement, stated that the
men had been in the bush a long time and
committed many depredations, but he did not
think that any of them were capital offences.
There were several charges of robbery in a
dwelling house and putting in fear but no case
of extreme violence.
Justice said that there were no circumstances
of mitigation in the prisoners' cases;
fortunately for them the Imperial Parliament
had taken off the capital punishment for this
crime or else it would have been his duty to
pass sentence of death upon them and strongly
recommend the Executive to carry the sentence
into effect. Had it not been for the
meritorious conduct of the young gentleman who
gave evidence against them and the spirited
young men who assisted him, the prisoners
might still have been at large committing
their depredations. In the place to which they
were going they would have plenty of time to
repent and he hoped they would do so, and
perhaps after a series of years of good
conduct they might be allowed to return back
to a civilised part of the world.
The sentence of
the Court was that the prisoners be
transported to a penal settlement for the term
of their natural lives. (2)
transported to Norfolk Island, a notoriously
harsh prison settlement at the time, however
just a few months later prison reformer
Alexander Maconachie was appointed Commandant
at Norfolk Island, arriving there in
Other Hunter Valley
bushrangers sent to Norfolk Island at this
Atkinson and Holmes.
probably less difficult for the prisoners
under Maconachie's system, however these four
bushrangers were under sentence for life with
little or no chance of reprieve.
made his escape from the island in August
4). Soon after Young, Allen, Ellis and Spencer
were sent to Norfolk Island, the convict ship
Mangles arrived there with prisoners from