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Bushranging Episode

Rosebrook Station was the scene of a hold-up by the Clark gang in March, 1865. Races were being held at Cooma. and at the conclusion of the meeting, John Cullen, Licensee of the Hotel at Bunyan, who had a booth on the course, gave his day's takings, about 80, to an employee, Mary Casey, to take home, having arranged for a man named Connington, also an employee, to accompany her. They both left together, but stopped at a sheep station for tea. Connington stayed so long that Mary went on by herself. A few miles along the road she was stopped and questioned by four men on horseback. Mary's explanation was so satisfactory that she was allowed to go along unmolested, carrying with her Cullen's money. Connington, who came along later, was bailed up and robbed of his cash and valuables.

In the evening the four men made their way to Cullen's Hotel, where a special dinner awaited the race-goers. This they appropriated.

At the conclusion of the races friends of Mr. Harnett, the owner of Rosebrook Station, who himself was in Sydney, had foregathered at the homestead, and about 11 p.m., men, with revolvers pointed, forced their way into the house and deprived the guests of their cash and valuables.

The bushrangers did not molest the womenfolk in any way, though they insisted on, and obtained, some songs, music and drink.

During the raid a guest, Mr. F. Keon, escaped unnoticed through a window, and started to run to Cooma, nine miles away. Having gone some distance he secured a horse, and. riding the rest of the way, reported to the Inspector of Police, Captain Battye, who, with Sergeant Carroll, accompanied him to Rosebrook. There, everything being quiet, they proceeded to Rose Valley where, next morning at daybreak, shots were fired at two men who, however, got away.

"BACK TO COOMA" Celebrations, Felix Mitchell 1926,  Page 112 - Transcribed by Pattrick Mould, June 2003

This information was obtained from scs.une.edu.au/Bushrangers/rammer.htm

The Rammer


Between 2 September 1834 and 14 December 1834, a trio of bushrangers terrorised the Monaro district of New South Wales. The leader was known as "Jack the Rammer" or "Billy the Rammer" and his confederates were Joseph Keys and Edward Boyd.

"The Rammer" was probably William Roberts who came from Dudley, Worcestershire, England. Roberts was a qualified tradesman, a cooper who made barrels. He married Elizabeth Husslebury at St Thomas', Dudley on 15 June 1826. They had three children. On 4 January 1832, Roberts was convicted of stealing a pail (bucket) and sentenced to transportation for seven years. He arrived in Sydney aboard the Heroine on 19 September 1833.

In 1834 he escaped from the "Ginninderry" property of George T Palmer that was located close to the present day Belconnen Town Centre in Canberra. He was recaptured but escaped, with Joseph Keys, from the Goulburn Jail on 2 September 1834. They travelled to the Monaro, where Edward Boyd, who had escaped from a grazing station of Sherwin's, probably "Yinibrothers", joined them.

One of the stations that the gang raided was the "Coolringdon" property of Stewart Ryrie, a senior government official. It has been said that it was the gang's practice to take a station by surprise in the night.

In the middle of a hot summer's night in mid December 1834, the gang attacked a property at Rock Flat, 15 km south of Cooma. A part owner, Joseph Catterall, and his wife, Georgiana, were there. Georgiana was about seven months pregnant. She was very frightened. The gang took everything of value and destroyed any weapons they did not want. They let the convict overseer, Charles Fisher Shepherd, keep his "fowling piece" (shotgun), in return for teaching the Rammer to use a compass, but took away all ammunition except birdshot.

The gang returned about dawn, probably intending to whip Shepherd, who had recently taken the law into his own hands and ordered one of his convicts stripped and given 50 lashes with a horsewhip. They may also have wished to punish Shepherd for boasts he had made that he was not afraid of them and would deal with them if they came.

Using his gun charged with birdshot, Shepherd shot the Rammer dead. However, Shepherd was shot several times, beaten unconscious, then shot at close range and left for dead. A neighbour, William Bowman who had a station at Curry Flat, took Shepherd by cart to Goulburn where he eventually recovered.

A party of mounted police was sent to find Keys and Boyd. It was led by Corporal Bugden and assisted by William Coleman, a convict. In mid January 1835, the party came up with Keys and Boyd where they were camped by the Snowy River. Trooper George Smith shot Boyd as he attempted to get away by swimming the river. Keys escaped. The police staked out the stations on the far side of the river. Two days later, Trooper Smith caught Keys at the "Jimenbuen" property of Amos Crisp.

On 4 May 1835, Keys pleaded Guilty in Sydney to a charge of attempted murder and was executed on 2 June. Also at the sittings of the Supreme Court on 4 May, Thomas Pearson, a convict from Catterall's station, was convicted of aiding and abetting Keys. Pearson was sentenced to death but the sentence was commuted to transportation for life to Norfolk Island. The evidence at Pearson's trial gives a graphic description the gang's last raid.

This article may be freely copied
Further information from: Jack Smith


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