Lake Macquarie History

Bushrangers of the Lake

photo: edward denny day

Bushrangers have been part of life in Australia from the beginning of European settlement. One such gang, who roamed the Lake Macquarie, Central Coast and Hunter areas, was the Jewboy Bushranger Gang. The gang comprised of either escaped or assigned convicts and numbers fluctuated between two and seven members. On August 12 1840 five convicts decamped from Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney and took to the bush, commencing their exploits soon afterwards. They operated in close proximity to heavily populated settlements, raiding medium sized establishments, such as inns, and occasionally bailing up to twenty or more people for up to six hours at a time.The following list comprises the six captured members of the Jewboy Bushranger Gang.

Jack Marshall

John Marshall was a shepherd and farmhand, from Nottingham, England. He was aged 27, convicted of stealing a lamb and transported for life in 1832. He arrived in the colony aboard the Clyde, The last person he was assigned to was John Elliott of the Hunter River district, from whom he absconded in early 1840. Records show him back in gaol soon after, charged with rape alongside James Everett.

He was twenty seven, of sallow complexion, with brown hair, hazel eyes and a scar on his chin. Most distinguishable were his tattoos: " Rejoice evermore pray without ceasing", "God be merciful to me a sinner" and the figure of a woman. He was also known as "Wye Harbour Jack".

He absconded from Hyde Park Barracks on August 12, 1840, alongside James Everett, Francis Knight, John Wilson and William Brown. They headed toward the Hunter River district, where four of them had lived as assigned convicts. These were the founding members of the gang. The gang split after a raid in the Wollombi district, when Marshall and Everett returned to the Sugarloaf area.

James Everett

photo: edward denny day

James Everett was fifteen when he was convicted of stealing a chicken, two rabbits and eight eggs and was transported for seven years. He had been employed as a paper stainer's boy in London, and arrived in New South Wales aboard the Mangles in 1833. Short in stature, he had dark brown hair and brown eyes and was tattooed and pockmarked on his hands and face. Everett was assigned to Mrs Elizabeth Muir, who was the licensee of a hotel in East Maitland, before absconding. He spent time in Newcastle Gaol before being sent to Sydney Gaol on charges of rape in April 1840. Later he escaped alongside his fellow rapist, Jack Marshall.

John Shea

In October 1840, John Shea was the next to join the gang. The twenty two year old Irish Catholic from County Kerry was convicted and transported for life in 1837. The sentence was commuted to seven years and after arriving in the colony on board the Calcutta, he was assigned to Henry Picher at his properties around the Dungog and Maitland areas. Escapes were noted several times, the last being October 2, 1840.

Shea was five feet five inches tall with a ruddy and freckled complexion. He sported an inoculation scar on his upper right arm.

Edward Davis

November 10, 1840 saw a new recruit, Edward Davis, a Jew, join them. Edward was the second son of Michael John Davies, a formers solicitors clerk in England, who had been transported in 1830 for obtaining goods under false pretences. He was now a free settler, having served his sentence and was living and working as a journalist in the Newcastle area. There is speculation of his and another dubious emancipated convict, Henry Dennys' connection to the Jewboy Gang prior to Edward joining them. It was after Edward Davis, sometimes referred to as 'Jew Davis' or 'Teddy the Jewboy' that the gang became known.

In 1833, under the name of George Wilkinson, Edward was transported for attempted theft, for seven years. He was sixteen, of dark and very freckled complexion, tattooed, with black hair, hazel eyes and a large nose. Arriving on the Camden, Davis absconded many times from Hyde Park Barracks and assigned settlers. As a result a year was added to his sentence, and at one time he served on an iron gang. His last service was to Phillip Wright of Aberdeen in the Upper Hunter district. After escaping from a party moving sheep to Wrights' property in Aberdeen, he then joined forces with Jack Marshall, James Everett and John Shea, who were said to be expecting him.

He is the only known Jewish bushranger.

Robert Chitty

Robert Chitty was the next to join the gang. Born in Windsor, England in 1804, he had been a soldier in the British Army serving in Dublin. He was tried for desertion, and subsequently transported to the colony for fourteen years aboard the Sophia in 1823.

He stood five feet four and a half inches tall, with a pale complexion. He had several tattoos and a scar, with light brown hair and hazel eyes. Chitty would have been a free man by 1837 had he not gone astray. He held a number of offices as a convict, but was charged with negligence in one instance and in another ran away with a female convict he was escorting to Newcastle Gaol. At the time he met with the Jewboy Gang he was an assigned convict to Matthew Chapman at The Grange near Dungog.

Richard Glanville

Richard Glanville joined the gang some time mid December, after robbing Dr Alick Osborne at his residence in present day Eraring. Glanville had been a soldier, transported in 1838 aboard Lord Lyndoch to New South Wales to serve fourteen years for desertion. He stood five feet nine inches tall, with a sallow complexion. His hair was dark brown and eyes were hazel.

Capture

photo: edward denny day

Several myths have diverted from the truth about the gang. They did not terrorise the area for two years as some have noted, but in actual fact their escapades lasted for only around five months.

During this time of freedom they:

  • terrorised eight police districts
  • raided at least thirty seven properties
  • beat any constable or settler they believed had wronged the community
  • vandalised properties
  • stole : horses; weapons; clothing; jewellery; food; alcohol; money

Convicts and ex-convicts provided information and sanctuary to the gang, which gave them a reputation similar to Robin Hood. Preservation of their own lives and liberty was the only reason for taking a life, and this was to happen on December 21 1840, when John Shea killed John Graham in an attempt to rob Thomas Dangar's store in Scone. There is a small plaque in the park at the corner of the highway and Gundy Road in Scone marking the location of the store and the killing. Davis, Everett and Glanville had bailed up the inhabitants of the St Aubin Arms while Marshall, Shea, Chitty and the unknown seventh man went to the store. Under the direction of Davis the men fled to one of their hiding places near Murrurundi. Six were finally captured after a brutal gun battle, and were committed for trial on February 24 1841 at the Supreme Court in Sydney. Shea was indicted for murder, the others for aiding and abetting him. All were sentenced to death by Chief Justice Sir James Dowling and were hanged on March 16 1841. Witness accounts report that Davis was the only one who had been repentant.