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Captain Thunderbolt at work

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Tuesday 22 December 1863, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser


No little degree of excitement was caused nn Maitland, yesterday morning, by rumours tortured into every shape relative to a number of highway robberies, which had early that morning been committed within a short distance of town. Residents of the Northern district who have read the accounts which so frequently of late have been given of the robberies committed in the less favoured West, could hardly credit them, or believe it possible that one individual could, with impunity, stick up from ten to twenty persons, in a day ; but they yesterday had a practical lesson in the way it is done. Of course, the stories relative to the affair varied considerably as they passed from one narrator to another, and lost nothing of their extravagance by that process. The particulars, so far as we could ascertain upon strict inquiry of the persons who had been submitted to the highwayman’s pleasure, and from others who had subsequently seen him escaping from the police, are as follows: About a quarter to five o’clock yesterday morning a man about five feet nine inches high, of light but strong build, dark complexion, slight beard and whiskers, presented himself at the doorway of the toll-keeper’s house, alongside the toll-bar between Maitland and Rutherford. The door had been opened a few minutes before, and William Delaney, who, with the lessee, Michael O’Brien, resides in the toll house, entered the room from the back. He saw the highwayman with a revolver In his hand pointed at him. Delaney was commanded to get into a corner near the dresser, and he obeyed. The highwayman then said “give me your money,” to which Delany answered that he had none. “Give me your money or l’ll blow your brains out.” Again the answer ” I have none” was made. The robber, who all this time was standing near the doorway, advanced a few steps, and with one hand opened cupboard that was near the door, whilst with the other he kept Delaney covered with the revolver. From the cupboard he took the cash box which, however, only contained about 4s. in copper. Without opening it he said good morning and crossed the road. Inside the fence he had a horse tied up to a tree ; he loosed the bridle, mounted, and rode on along the road in the direction of Anambah, giving tho toll-keeper the pleasing information that he was Captain Thunderbolt. Shortly after, a man named Moore was passing along the road, and he was told of the robbery, and desired to inform the police of the matter. Delany then went to the Spread Jingle Inn, opposite the Rutherford race-course, expecting to meet the robber, which he was fortunate enough to do. As they approached the house, the robber said ” Well, you are the chap I stuck-up this morning at the toll-bar. I suppose you have come after me ?” Delaney said he had not – that he was going to the public house. He then said, “I suppose your mate has gone for, the crushers.” Delaney said, “No, there’s no one to mind the toll bar.” The bushranger then put his hand in his pocket and gave back to Delaney the coppers he had taken from the box, remarking, “I am a bushranger, and you might meet a worse one than me; I was put on a lay to stick up your place ; I was told there were 200 sovereigns there. I thought it was Young, the flash fighting man, who kept the place ; if I met him, I’d take it out of him.” Delany then asked where was the box, and was told he would find it on the old road in (through) the bush. Delany says he then wished him “good bye.” The cash-box was searched for, and found where “Thunderbolt” said it would be.

It would appear that immediately after robbing the toll-bar the robber proceeded to the Spread Eagle Inn, as Mrs. Byrne found him at the door when she first opened it. He was, as she alleges, armed with a belt of revolvers, and had others in his pockets, He asked for something to eat, and bread and meat were given to him ; having eaten them he asked what he had to pay, and being told that there was no charge for a thing like that, said, “I came to rob you, but as you are so hospitable I won’t do so.” He then purchased a bottle of rum, drunk part of it, and fastened the rest, with some bread and cheese, to his saddle ; he remained nearly two hours at this place, and was going away when Delaney came up and met him.

From further enquiries it appears that after parting with the toll-bar-keeper the bushranger met a man named Godfrey Parsons about half a mile beyond the Spread Eagle Inn. Parsons was bringing his wife in a spring cart from Anvil Creek, where he resides, to Maitland for medical attendance, when the robber came riding across the green from the road which there leads off to Anambah. He pulled up when he came to the cart, bidding Parsons stop and give up his money, at the same time presenting his revolver to enforce the demand. Parsons (who had about £30 in his possession) answered that he had only two pounds, and was coming into Maitland for a doctor’s advice for his wife. Mrs. Parsons was much terrified, and began to cry. The robber then said, as the money was wanted for the doctor he wouldn’t take it ; he was an outlaw, and knew he would got fifteen years if he was caught. He then rode off along the road until he came to where some teamsters were camping; he entered into conversation with them, but did nothing more. He subsequently met Mrs. Friend, Mrs. Clarke, her two daughters, and a man named James Kavanagh,- the last named four together. He stopped them, but we have not heard whether he robbed them of anything. He then met a constable, who was on foot, and asked the constable if it was not he whom he was looking after, and challenged him to fight him. He then rode back to the Spread Eagle Inn, and again entered into conversation, patronised the publican, and talked contemptuously of constables; stating that they chased him near Armidale, and when they got to the Black Rock they got afraid and went back, saying their horses got bogged in the Green Swamp. He further said they took a saddle and bridle from him at Black Rock. When he the second time called at the Spread Eagle he did not dismount ; he drank some tea and ate some bread and meat which were supplied to him. He soon afterwards rode away, and four mounted policemen went out in pursuit. When the police enquired at the Spread Eagle Inn for the robber, they learnt that he had taken the road leading through Anambah ; one of them (mounted) overtook him speaking to a tenant of Mr. G. J. Cobb’s ; he rode up and asked if they had seen any bullocks about, to which the robber answered ” No.” The constable (who was in disguise) then drew out his revolver, pointed it at him, and said, ” You are my prisoner.” The fellow coolly turned round, looked at the constable, put spurs to his horse, and galloped away, the constable in pursuit. Several shots are alleged to have been fired by the trooper when within a few yards of his man, but without effect. Through Anambah the bushranger rode at the topmost speed of his horse. Near Mr. Cobb’s place the trooper was within fifty yards of him, but his horse was blown. He dismounted and took a horse belonging to Mr. Walter Sparkes which was saddled and bridled near a blacksmith’s forge. The bushranger in the mean time, had improved the distance between himself and his pursuer, the trooper kept him in view until the river was reached ; but crossing it he lost sight of him. Other troopers have been been despatched in search of the marauder and last evening were in pursuit. At eight o’clock last evening the four troopers had returned, without the slightest success.

In another column will be found a short notice of the robbery of the Merton mall. This, however, is not the only recent mail robbery in the Northern district. The mail that should have brought our Tamworth and Armidale letters and papers was stopped, as we are informed, on Sunday morning, at Doughboy Hollow, and the robbers after cutting open the bags, and extracting therefrom what they chose, made off. The scattered remains of the mail were gathered together by the mailman, and forwarded, yesterday, to the General Post Office, to be sorted afresh, and sent to their respective destinations. It is stated that Mr. P. Quinn was one of the parties robbed. These particulars, with the additional details contained in the Empire’s telegram which appears elsewhere constitute the whole of the information which has as yet reached us, nor have our inquiries at the Police Office elicited anything further.

Written by macalba

May 18, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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