Dreadful Outrages and Murder

Extract of a letter from Launceston, dated on Monday last: - "On Saturday evening last, Brady, with his whole party of fourteen, attacked Mr Dry's house and, after putting in the necessary sentinels and securing the servants in an inside room, proceeded to rifle the house of all its contents - very coolly emptying all the drawers and boxes of their contents of linen, clothes, and everything valuable, and deliberately tying them up in bundles to be conveyed away on horses' backs. One of the servants escaped into town, and brought a strong party out, who arrived at the house while they were all inside. Owing to some unfortunate circumstances, they however escaped through the back door. The had been two hours in the house when the party arrived, and from the house they rendezvoused in Mr Wedges' tent at the back of it. An order was given by Colonel Balfour to some men to rush it, and at the same moment, Dr. Priest rode in a direction which he thought the bush-rangers would take, but before he was an hundred yards from the tent, he was fired at by several men at the same moment. Two balls entered the joint of his knee, and went through it, eight balls entered the horse's body, and killed him. A great deal of firing took place between the soldiers and the bush-rangers, but without injury to either side.

The night was extremely dark, and consequently favourable to Brady's party, which enabled them to remain about the grounds from some house after the engagement, and finally to go away unobserved. Colonel Balfour came to town about 10o'clock and five shots were fired at him as he rode through the paddock. it therefore became extremely hazardous for any one to approach Dry's house during the night. We were all called out to defend the town, expecting an attack every hour, being ignorant of the numbers of the banditti. The accounts vary between fourteen to nineteen, the former is the least number that they could have had.

It is impossible now to give you all the particulars, interesting as they are, but nothing is more remarkable then the generalship observed by Brady. Dr Priest is not out of danger, he persists in declining to have his leg amputate, contrary to the opinions of the Medical men who attend him. Mr Dry's wound is not material. We have had accounts every hours almost since yesterday morning of the movements of the bush-rangers, but they are evidently intended to mislead us, for at the time they were thought to have crossed the North Esk, they were on the road side, two or three miles from Captain Barclay's. Yesterday morning, Brady deliberately shot Thomas Kenton, after giving him his reasons for doing so, viz. That he once asked him (Brady) to come to his hut, while some soldiers were there, who wounded him on the occasion. After Kenton's murder, his party wounded two other men. At 8 o'clock last night, some of the party set Abraham Walker's stacks on fire, and the whole of his new harvest was destroyed, together with a new barn. The quantity of wheat could not have less than 2000 bushels, and the loss cannot be estimated at less than 1000. We hear today, that Brady's party are near Mr Roses, at Cora Lyn."

Extract of another Letter :- "Watson, who was employed by Brady and his gang as a carrier, says that on their route to Guilders , they got into such a thick scrub, that they could not extricate their horses, although they took the saddles off, and of course there left them. The first night after their arrival, Brady went out at dusk to a high hill, to look for the Glory, and was all night, not returning till morning. On the third day, Guilders made his escape (to give information, which he did to colonel Balfour), while Goodwin was on sentry; for this he was brought to a Court Martial, shot dead, and flung out of their prize-boat into the Tamar. They then sailed three times round the Glory, Brady advising them to take her; we went to the stern of the boat and said decide among yourselves, let not my voice avail any thing;" then they said, as the wind was foul, they would not take her. They then landed, and sent Watson into Launceston to say. They would that night rob Mr Dry, and would go to the Gaol in Launceston, and take out Jeffries, torture him and then shoot him. It was treated with derision! A man who escaped from Mr Dry's came in Launceston at 10 o'clock PM to say the banditti were there. Colonel Balfour instantly started with 1 serjeant and 10 soldiers and some volunteers. They surrounded the house just as the had packed up their booty, when a brisk fire commenced; the bush rangers were forced out of the house into the backyard, and kept firing into the house; it was quite dark, and the banditti were thought t have gone when Colonel Balfour proceeded with half the soldiers to defend the town (rendered the more necessary, as a part of the banditti under Bird and Dunn had been previously dispatched by Brady to attack Launceston.) On his going away, the banditti went up to Mr Wedge's hut, (adjoining on of the out-buildings) and began to plunder; when the soldiers, with Dr Priest, proceeded to charge. The bush-rangers heard it, and fired a volley, by which Dr Priest's horse was shot dead, and himself shot in the knee. The soldiers, not above five in number, with some volunteers, fired and charged but owing to the darkness, the banditti escaped. On the night of the 5th, the bushrangers set fire and burnt down the stockyard, with all the wheat belonging to Mr Abraham Walker, opposite to Mr Thomas Archer's. The extent of the damage is not yet ascertained.

The bushrangers were seen between the Punt and Mr Gibson's stockyard, on the 6th. They sent word to Mr Massey, on the South Esk, Ben Lomond, that they would hang him and burn his wheat. A great fire was seen last night in the direction of his house, but it is to be hoped they have not executed their threat.

The bush-rangers have Mr Dry's two white carriage horses with them. The shot Thomas Kenton dead, at the Punt, on the south Esk; they called him out of the house and deliberately shot him,

Two runaways were last week sent into Launceston Gaol, from Presnell's, where they were taken; one of them broke out of gaol, and was met by the bush-rangers, who asked him to join them, and, on his refusal, they shot him dead.

Brady now wears Col Balfour's hat which was knocked off at Dry's.

When the bushrangers were going down the Tamar, they captured Captain White, of the Duke of York, in his boat Capt Smith, late of the Brutus, who was with him, being well dressed, was mistaken for Colonel Balfour. They knocked him down; but discovering this mistake they apologised. They then made Captain White go down upon his knees, and were going to shoot him, but Capt Smith interfered and saved his life, on representing to them the misery it would inflict upon his wife and children. During the night, Captains Smith and White were allowed to depart, and they made the best of their way to Launceston, where they gave the necessary information; but, unfortunately, it was too late, the bush-rangers having crossed the river, and proceeded to commit the dreadful enormities before stated."

Extract of another Letter :- "After the affair at Dry's, in which Brady showed so much adroitness, in extricating his party from such a superior force, he proceeded to the house of a Mr Field, a Settler, which they plundered of every thing useful; from there they proceeded to Mr Dugan's, which they also robbed. Brady now wears Colonel Balfour's cap, which was lost in the affair at Dry's.

It is impossible to describe the state of alarm in which these events have placed the whole of this side the Island."

Colonial Times 10 March 1826



We have the gratification to announce the apprehension of this daring offender. He is safely lodged in the gaol at Launceston. On Tuesday, in consequence of private information, Lieutenant Williams, 57th Regt, with 14 soldiers and 4 armed prisoners, fell in with the banditti, near Launceston. Both parties fired. The bush-rangers fled. Two were separated from the rest. Brady and four others passed Mr Roses's farm, and escaped at that time. Mr Rose, with two prisoners servants, went immediately after the other two, and succeeded in capturing Bryant - the other robber escaped. On Thursday, two of Mr Lawrence's prisoner servants, fell in with Goodwin, on horseback. It was not true, that his companions in crime had shot him. They had thrown him into the river, to sink or swim as he might be enabled. Mr Lawrence's mean captured him, and lodged him in Launceston gaol. On Saturday night, a party of armed prisoners, observed a fire near the Watery Plains, about 15 miles from Launceston. On their approach, the banditti fled; but Brady being wounded in the leg, was captured by John Bateman (other accounts say by a man named Regan) both prisoners, who with a party to which they belonged, brought him into town on horseback on Sunday and lodged him in gaol. As might be expected, the whole population of Launceston crowded to see him. He deported himself in a firm and determined manner, and rode well, although badly wounded in the leg. He had no hat - an handkerchief was bound around his head.

In addition to the capture of the above three wretched men, we also understand that Cody is taken. Although the particulars are not known, we have no doubt of the fact. We hope and trust next week, that the whole of the banditti remaining at large will be either apprehended or discharged.

Colonial Times 17 March 1826


It appears that immediately after the attack on the daring banditti by the party under the direction of Mr Whitfield, Chief District Constable, at the Cross March, a separation ensued and Bird, Brown, Dunne, Gregory and four others left Brady and those of the gang in whom he more immediately confided, and retreated to their own haunts near the lakes. In the course of the last week, they made their appearance near the junction of the Derwent and Ouse, where they were seen by some stock keepers. They have since robbed Mr Triffit, sen. from whose house they took away everything movable and the only horse there. They have since been seen in different directions in the neighbourhood, but no particulars are accurately known.

Colonial Times 24 March 1826


On Thursday last, Dr Priest who was lately shot by the bushrangers expired. He would not submit to amputation.

On Thursday morning, Brady, Bryant and Goodwin, the bushrangers, Jeffries, the murderer and Perry were conveyed on board the Prince Leopold for Hobart Town.

We were misinformed as to the person who apprehended Brady, It was Mr Bateman, a respectable settler on the South Esk.

Brady's escape from Lt. Williams party, wounded as he was, has created much surprise. He was shot in the lower part of the calf of leg and the ball he himself extracted from above his knee. His deportment is firm and composed. He is understood to have declared that success uniformly attended him until he embrued his hand in blood after which he became perfectly wretched and felt that his fate was sealed. He stated that if he had not been supported by friends he could not have remained many weeks at large in the woods.

Colonial Times 24 March 1826


On Monday, the Leopold arrived with Brady, Goodwin, Bryant, Jeffries and his companion Perry. In the evening they were brought on shore and safely conveyed to the gaol.

Colonial Times 31 March 1826



On Wednesday morning, about 9 o'clcock, as Mr Bisbee was writing in his bed room, which is separated from the cell in which Bryant, Brady, Jeffries & Goodwin are confined, he heard a scraping against the wall. He immediately suspected the prisoners in the cell were attempting to escape and on going round, he discovered Bryant in the fact working with a large knife in the wall, in which a hole had been made large enough for a man to pass through. The men were immediately removed from the cell and on searching them another knife was found, of the description used by pig butchers. They are now strongly secured and are chained together at night. They avowed their intention to endeavour to escape.

Colonial Times 7 April 1826


On Tuesday, Brady and the other bushrangers were tried for a highway robbery and setting fire to Mr Lawrence's stacks. Brady pleaded guilty and the rest were found so. We have given particulars as to the men in another place.

Colonial Times 28 April 1826

Brady, on Tuesday night, told Mr Dodding, one of the turnkeys at the gaol, that if Jeffries was not taken out of the cell, "he would be found in the morning without his head." Jeffries was consequently removed to another cell. He voluntarily gave up two knives, which he had concealed about his person, either to carry his former threats into execution, or to cut his irons, in attempting to escape. M`Kenny, whose leg was trodden on by a horse, and who goes with a crutch, and Bryant, are in the same cell with Brady, who we understand has received many little comforts in the gaol, from a very respectable Gentleman, who humanity is proverbial.

On Tuesday, when the seven bushrangers were tried, they were escorted from the gaol to the Court by the Military. They were all fettered and chained together.

Brady was dressed in a new suit of clothes of decent appearance. He was quite cheerful, and laughing the whole of the morning before the trial. He has recovered from his wounds, and is able to walk. The other bush-ranger, M`Kenny, who was so severely wounded, still uses a crutch. Brady is a good looking man, with a penetrating eye. M`Kenny and Brown also appeared cheerful, and are both good looking young men. The others, particularly Tilly, seemed very miserable.

Jeffries has at last taken to the Bible. He has sent for the Rev. Mr Bedford, and has been crying like a child.

Yesterday, Jeffries and Perry were found guilty of the murder of Constable Baker.

We understand that the whole of the prisoners who have been found guilty will be brought up for sentence to-morrow. Several are expected to the undergo the awful sentence of the Law on Monday.

Colonial Times 28 April 1826


On Tuesday morning, the bushrangers Brady, Bryant, Tilley, M`Kenney, Brown, Gregory, and Hodgetts, were put upon their trial for making an assault on William Andrews, a private of the 40th, at Bagdad, on the 26th December last, and stealing his gun. The jury returned a verdict of guilty against Brady, Bryant, Gregory, Tilley, and Brown, and acquitted M`Kenney and Hodgetts, their being no evidence to prove that they were present at the time.

Brady, Bryant, Tilley, and Goodwin were then tried for having committed the crimes of felony and arson at Mr Lawrence's, on the Lake River, on the 26th February, when Brady and Bryant pleaded guilty to the charge, the former declaring that he should plead guilty to every other information that might be filed against him.

On Thursday, Brady and Bryant pleaded guilty to the murder of Thomas Kenton, with malice aforethought, and at the instigation of the devil, on the 5th ultimo.

The same two also pleaded guilty of stealing four horses from Mr Lawrence, in which charge Tilley and Goodwin were included, and, upon trial, found guilty.

It is with great pain we state, that most of the men convicted of robbery and murder, in gaol, whose days of probation must now of necessity be now very short, continue with hardened and untouched consciences, apparently insensible to their fate. Jeffries is said to have been brought at least to a sense of his unhappy state, but Brady, Bryant, M`Kenney, and Perry, excite both disgust and compassion at their insensibility. The whirl of their late lawless and dissipated life seems scarcely to have subsided.

We understand the various criminals now convicted in Gaol, will be brought up to receive the sentence of the law from His Honor the Chief Justice this day.

Hobart Town Gazette 29 April 1826



On Saturday last, the twelve following criminals received sentence of death :- Matthew Brady, Patrick Bryant, James Goodwin, James M`Kenny, John Gregory, William Tilly, William Brown, and Samuel Hodgetts, (the above eight composed the residue of the gang of bush-rangers, of which Dunne only remains at large.) Thomas Jeffries, John Perry, and James Hopkins, whose horrid crimes are fresh in the recollection of the Public, and John Thompson, for the murder of Margaret Smith in the watch-house. His Honor Chief Justice Peddar addressed the unhappy men in the most feeling manner. He stated to them, that the Law had awarded the punishment of death to the crimes of the least magnitude amongst them. Those of the greatest were attended with circumstances of such atrocity, that h should only shock the feelings of the auditory by repeating them. His Honor addressed this to Jeffries and Perry. He then made some impressive observations upon the offences of Brady and the rest, and finally passed the awful sentence of death upon the whole, in a manner which powerfully excited the feelings of all present; and in the course of which he himself was most seriously affected. Brady behaved with the utmost fortitude and firmness; Jeffries appeared much agitated, as did several of the rest. On the return of these unfortunate men to the gaol, Tilley offered to shake hands with Brady, who refused with much contempt. M`Kenny also refused to speak to him - this was on account of their supposing that he had given information. Brady, M`Kenny, and Bryant being Roman Catholics, were then conveyed to the cell adjoining the debtor's side, which they had hitherto occupied. The two former seemed serious, though cheerful. The remainder (except Perry, who was alone) were confined in one cell. Jeffries who was amongst the rest of the Protestants, became penitent, and fully sensible of his approaching fate. During the whole of the week, the Rev. Messrs. Bedford, Conolly, and Carvasso, have been unremittingly attentive in their endeavouring to bring these criminals to a due sense of their awful situation.

The death warrant arrived on Tuesday, by which fatal instrument they were ordered for execution as follows :- Jeffries, Perry, Thompson, Brady, and Bryant, yesterday, and this morning the whole of the remainder. The Reverend Ministers of Religion were with the unhappy men at an early hour of the morning, and rendered them every consolation which in their wretched condition could be afforded. At a few minutes after 8 o'clock the Sheriff, D. Freday, Esq., attended by the usual cortege arrived. The criminals were then brought out into the lodge, to undergo the usual awful preparations. Mr Bedford (of whose attentions to these unhappy men, and indeed upon all similar occasions it is impossible to speak in terms of sufficient praise), first lead out Jeffries; he appeared firm and composed; while the executioner was pinioning his arms, Mr Bedford exhorted him in the most feeling manner to let his repentance be sincere, and from his heart, in which care he might trust safely in the Divine Mercy for forgiveness.

Jeffries prayed fervently, and seemed really penitent. Then followed Perry and Thompson, to whom Mr Bedford showed similar attention. When the executioner had adjusted the ropes, these unhappy men retired to a bench, where they knelt down in prayer, while the same awful ceremony was undergone by Brady and Bryant, who were attended by the Rev. Mr. Conolly, with whom they had performed the devotional duties of their Church, and by whose zealous exertions they appeared to have become truly and sincerely penitent. When this ceremony had been gone through, and all was ready, the melancholy procession was set in motion. Mr. Bedford, with the deepest solemnity, commencing with reading aloud that portion of Scripture, "whosoever sheddeth man's blood, by man also shall his blood be shed." This passage was so peculiarly applicable to the crimes of the wretched sufferers, and the tone in which Mt. Bedford uttered it was so solemn and emphatic, that the whole five seemed to feel deeply their dreadful situation. Jeffries first ascended the fatal scaffold - he was firm and composed. Mr. Bedford occupied his attention with devotional consolation, while the executioner affixed the rope. During the interval Messrs. Conolly and Carvasso administered all possible consolation to the unhappy men who were at the foot of the ladder. When they had all ascended, and the necessary preparations for their entering upon the awful change before them had been concluded, Mr. Bedford addressed the people who had collected in great numbers outside the gaol, nearly as follows :- "The unhappy man, Jeffries, now before you, on the verge of eternity, desires me to state, that he attributes all the crimes he has committed, and which have brought him to his present awful state, to the abhorrent vice of drunkenness. He acknowledges the whole of the crimes with which he has been charged, and he implores of you all to take warning by him, and to avoid the commission of the sin of drunkenness, which infallibly leads on to all other crimes." During this, Brady and the rest preserved the composed deportment which they had exhibited from the first, wholly resigned without levity, but firm and resigned.

Nothing now remaining, Mr. Bedford commenced reading certain portions of the funeral service; and when he came to a particular passage, the drop fell, and this world closed upon the wretched men for ever.

This morning the following criminals underwent the awful sentence which had been passed upon them :- James Goodwin, James M`Kenney, John Gregory, William Tilley, William Brown, and Samuel Hodgetts.

The whole of the Rev. Clergymen were unremitting in their assiduities, by which the unhappy mean had been brought to a state of the most sincere penitence, trusting to the Divine Mercy for the forgiveness hereafter, which he magnitude of their offences prevented them from receiving here.

Colonial Times 5 May 1926


On Saturday, Brady, Bryant, M`Kenney, Brown, Gregory, Tilley, Goodwin, and Hodgetts, the bushrangers, and Jeffries, and Perry the murders, and their companion Hopkins, and Thompson, the miserable man who committed the later murder, in the Liverpool-street watch-house, were brought up to receive judgement. Silence being proclaimed, His Honor the Chief Justice Peddar remarked that the greatest of their crimes were of a complexion so dreadful, and committed in so barbarous a manner, that he hurt the feelings of those present, were he to repeat the evidence. His Honor alluded to the two cases in which Jeffries and Perry were concerned. It would have been a satisfaction to him, if he could have considered that Brady and Bryant pleaded guilty through contrition, but he feared it was done from a bad feeling, and rather dictated from a motive to cast a sneer on the proceedings of justice.

On Thursday morning, the awful execution took place of five of these unfortunate men, namely, Brady, Bryant, Jeffries, Perry, and Thomson, and yesterday morning, all the others suffered, with the exception of Hopkins, who stands respited till the 12th inst. A most blessed change appeared to have been worked on all these misguided and guilty men. Brady and Bryant were closeted with the Reverend Mr. Conolly, till the house approached when the Sheriff was to make his dread visit. The soul of Jeffries, which had been for some time touched with a sense of his dreadful state, was wholly lost to the tings around him, and Perry, who had but a few days before incurred the animal version of His Honor the Chief Justice, for his levity in court, was so overpowered by his internal feelings, as nearly to swoon away. The effort to silence conscience was evidently at last ineffectual and never was it more fully shown how most deeply they feel their own pain, who most disregard that of others. Having mounted the scaffold with trembling step, Jeffries requested Mr. Bedford to state to the spectators that he died justly, and that strong drink had been the primary cause of crimes. At the conclusion of the final prayer, which closed with the word "death," the Sheriff and Clergymen hastened down the steps - the executioner withdrew the bolt - the platform fell, and the miserable men dropped into eternity.

Hobart Town Gazette 6 May 1826

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