Account of Robberies at Hartley 1833

Robberies  were frequent especially while the road gangs were being used to construct the Western Road. Living in the region was fraught with danger, with manacled and chained desperados, intent on maintaining their thieving way of life. The women must have been very courageous to be parted from their husband while they were away travelling. 




To the Editors of the Sydney Herald.

Gentlemen -This being a resting day with me, I went to the public- house in this neighbourhood, where I had an opportunity of seeing the Sydney Monitor newspaper of the 9th instant, and the first article that came under my notice was headed "more desperate insubordination." This article he extracts from your journal, and then comments on it in rather a harsh manner, and demands data, times, places, and circumstances.

I think the Editor of the Monitor ought to be more temperate, and enquire into the matter before he makes such comments in the ears of iron gangs and road parties.

Now, Gentlemen, I shall endeavour to show Mr. Monitor how far you were wrong in laying such " falsehoods" before the public, and in so doing I shall go no farther back than three months with cattle killing.

I shall first refer Mr. Monitor to Acres the Veteran ; to James Podham, who found a slaughter-house on the mountain above his house, where there hung four quarters of beef, and 4 or 5 of Rigby's road party there busy at work ; those men were punished, and removed to another party ; the next is Corporal Cox's cow ; he detected a party from Rigby's gang, where they slaughtered the poor man's cow that gave his children milk ; those men were nut punished, although he found a quarter of beef where they killed it ; the next is Mr. Collit's two working bullocks; the next Mr. Grant's cow ; and the next poor Evans' two leaders of his team (I offered the owner of these two bullocks 12 for them, and he would not take it).

Gentlemen, the cattle that 1 have mentioned are not all that has been slaughtered at the yard where Acres and Podham found the carcase of beef; there was a fire, and a heap of ashes that would fill a cart from hides that were burnt. When Collit was informed that one of the road party was seen driving his bullocks away, his grandson and a black native went in search of them ; they did not find the cattle, but they found a yard where cattle were slaughtered, for there was five hides lay there with the brands cut out, since then the mounted police found another slaughter house or yard, where the hides lay with the brands cut out, and last week there was a party sent to Bathurst to be examined before that Bench for slaughtering cattle. So much for cattle killing ; now for dray robbing ; petty thefts are too numerous to mention, as they consist chiefly of a little provision:, &c. but for those of importance  refer Mr. Monitor to Mr. W. Bowman, of Richmond ; his dray was robbed lately at the foot of Mount Vittoria, of one chest of tea, two bags sugar, one cask spirits, one cask tobacco, twelve suits of slops, and seventeen pair boots, fire arms and ammunition. The next is Mr. Kemmis's dray at the same place, a woman was robbed there the same night.

Next is house robbing; I shall refer Mr. Monitor to Mr."Gardner, of Blackheath, near Mount Vittoria, whose house was lately robbed to a considerable amount. Poor Brunt, the Veteran's house, was entered, and nine gallons of spirits and a large chest were stolen, I suppose the whole of the poor people's property was in it, and removing which, being heavy, awoke the inmates, and the thieves made out with the rum. John Walters, a shoemaker, was robbed of all his leather and shoes. Mr. Collit's stores were entered, and property to a large amount stolen.

I shall next give an account of highway robberies that has come within my own knowledge for the last six weeks. James Podham, residing at Hassall's Walls, near to Rigby's gang, sold a bullock to the contractor, and on his return home, he was met by a party of the above gang, knocked down, and while down, received several blows of a tomahawk or shingling hammer, on the head,  his pockets emptied ff their contents, and then I they dragged him out of the road for dead. The next is George Ross, a shoemaker, from Sydney, and last night, not far from here, an Emigrant lately arrived, was robbed of his money and bundle. This I had from his own lips ; if such acts as these does not call for the aid of the press, I know not what does ; I think Podham's affair will come before the Criminal Court, as he tells me there is one of the men taken. The whole of what is here stated can be proved any day by a reference to the parties named.

I am, Gentlemen,

your obedient servant,

TRUTH, Hassall's Walls, near Mount Vittoria,

Oct. 13, 1833.