ⓘ Frank Gardiner–Ben Hall gang. The Frank Gardiner–Ben Hall Gang was an informal group of bushrangers who roamed the central west of New South Wales, Australia in ..


ⓘ Frank Gardiner–Ben Hall gang

The Frank Gardiner–Ben Hall Gang was an informal group of bushrangers who roamed the central west of New South Wales, Australia in the 1860s. The gang was responsible for the largest gold robbery in Australia’s history at Eugowra Rocks. The gang had its origins in 1861; its demise came with the execution of John Dunn in 1866.


1. Known members and fate

  • John McGuiness, one of the Three Jacks: Shot dead probably by Gardiner for leaving Davis alone to fight police
  • Larry Cummins: Sentenced to fifteen years in prison
  • Patrick Daley: Sentenced to fifteen years in prison
  • John Dunleavy: Sentenced to life in prison
  • John Davis, one of the Three Jacks: Sentenced to 15 years in prison
  • Dan Charters: Caught, testified against the gang
  • John Gilbert: Shot dead by police
  • Ben Hall: Shot dead by police
  • William Woodhart: ran with Lowry and Gardiner, after escaping with Lowry from Bathurst Gaol on 13 Feb 1863. Captured in Braidwood May 1863. Sentence: 3 Years, on top of previous 5 years sentence for horse stealing.
  • John Connors, one of the Three Jacks
  • Fred Lowry: Shot dead
  • John O’Meally: Shot dead
  • John Bow: Sentenced to death, later commuted to fifteen years in prison
  • John Dunn: Hanged
  • Henry Manns: Hanged
  • Jin Gordon, AKA Old Man James Mount: sentenced to twenty five years in prison
  • Francis Foley younger brother of notorious bushranger, John Foley: Sentenced to ten years in prison
  • John Youngman: Skipped bail and disappeared.
  • Frank Gardiner: Sentenced to 32 years in prison served 10 years and then exiled from Australia
  • John Peisley: Hanged
  • John Vane: Sentenced to fifteen years in prison, paroled after six years
  • Alexander Fordyce: Sentenced to death, later commuted to fifteen years in prison
  • Michael Burke: Shot himself dead after receiving a mortal stomach wound

2. Gang activities

John Peisley was born at Bathurst in 1835. While a teenager, he became a notorious horse thief in the area. He was convicted and sentenced to serve time on Cockatoo Island near Sydney, where he met Frank Gardiner. In December 1860, Peisley gained his ticket of leave, on the condition that he remain in the Hunter River Valley area. He absconded to the Abercrombie Ranges, where his parents once lived, and became a lone highway robber, "sticking up" travellers in the area south and west of Bathurst.

Gardiner was granted a ticket of leave in December 1859 on the condition of staying in the Carcoar district, and he soon joined up with Peisley. Johnny Gilbert joined them soon afterwards, and the gang started stealing cattle and horses. Gardiners ticket of leave was revoked when a warrant for his arrest for cattle stealing was issued.

Gardiner had a partnership with William Fogg in a butcher shop at Spring Creek. Gardiner supplied Fogg with stolen cattle, and Fogg would slaughter the cattle and sell the meat.


2.1. Gang activities 1861

  • 16 July: Sgt. John Middleton and Constable William Hosie went to Foggs house in search of Gardiner. He was briefly captured after a gunfight, but he was rescued by Peisley and John Gilbert, who ambushed the police on their return to town.
  • 25 December: Peisley shot William Benyon, who died seven days later.
  • May: Gardiner, Peisley and Gilbert robbed mail in Cowra.

2.2. Gang activities 1862

  • 10 April: Davis was wounded four times by police near Lambing Flat. His companions, the other two Jacks, escaped.
  • January: "The Three Jacks" – Davis, McGuinness, and Connors – committed their first robberies with Gardiner.
  • 14 April: Gardiner, Hall, Youngman, and Gilbert robbed dray near Forbes.
  • 29 January: Peisley was captured and committed for trial by the Carcoar bench for murdering an innkeeper at Bigga. Within two months he was convicted and hanged at Bathurst.
  • 13 April: McGuiness was found dead near where Davis was captured; he had been shot.

In 1862, John Gilbert was first named as an accomplice of Gardiner when they and two others held up a storekeeper. Just over a month later, John Gilbert was involved in another robbery, this time with Gardiner and Ben Hall. From then on John Gilbert was identified as being involved in several hold-ups between Lambing Flat and Lachlan.

  • 25 April: Peisley was hanged in Bathurst.
  • 23 August: Hall was released. Gardiner left the district and moved to Queensland.
  • 15 June: Frank Gardiner enlisted the assistance of John Gilbert, Ben Hall, John OMeally, Dan Charters, Henry Manns, Alexander Fordyce, and Johnny Bow to rob the Forbes gold escort, at a place called Eugowra Rocks, of banknotes and 2700 ounces of gold worth more than £14.000.
  • 27 July: Hall and several others were arrested. Charters turned Queens evidence but failed to name Hall or OMeally.


2.3. Gang activities 1863

  • 7 September: Francis Foley was sentenced to ten years "on the roads", with the first year in irons. Francis brother, John Foley, was sentenced on the same day to fifteen years hard labour, with the first three in irons.
  • 23 September 1863, Patrick Daley sentenced to fifteen years on the roads
  • 18 November: John Vane surrendered to police. Vane was sentenced to fifteen years; he was released in 1870.
  • 1 January: Fred Lowry shot a man whilst robbing the Brisbane Valley races near the head of Fish River Creek with John Foley. Lowry robbed settlers at Wambanamba. Lowry shot John Mcbride, who died from his leg wound.
  • 12 October: Hall and his gang bailed up Robinsons Hotel in Canowindra and held all the people of the town captive for three days. The hostages were allegedly not mistreated, and were provided with entertainment. The local policeman was subjected to humiliation by being locked in his own cell. When the hostages were set free, the gang insisted on paying the hotelier and giving the townspeople "expenses".
  • August: John OMeally shot dead John Barnes, a shopkeeper near Wallendbeen.
  • 3 November: Third raid on Canowindra.
  • 1 October: John Gilbert, Ben Hall, John O’Meally, and two Mount Macquarie lads, John Vane and Micky Burke, held up a jeweller’s shop and the Sportsman’s Arms Hotel in Bathurst in broad daylight. They exchanged shots with police as they made their escape down George Street. Three days later they returned to rob more stores, houses, and hotels on the outskirts of the town.
  • 13 July: Lowry, with Cummins and John Foley, robbed the Mudgee mailcoach.
  • December: Dunleavy and Mount joined the gang.
  • 13 July: Johnny Gilbert and John OMeally, led by Ben Hall, held up the Commercial Bank at Carcoar. A brave teller in the bank fired a shot into the ceiling of the bank, thwarting the robbery. The manager was shot outside the bank as he was returning to the bank, and the gang fled without seizing anything. This was Australias first bank robbery, and it took place in broad daylight.
  • 13 February: Fred Lowry had been captured and placed in Bathurst Jail. On Feb 13 he had a mattock secreted into the jail and smashed a hole in the jail wall. Five prisoners escaped. Three escapees were caught that day. Fred Lowry and William Woodhart escaped capture. Lowry and Woodhart joined up with Gardiner.
  • 12 May: William Woodhart caught at Fowlow by Senior Constable Reilly and brought into Braidwood.
  • 24 October: Twenty-year-old Michael Burke’s bushranging career ended at Rockley. Holding up Gold Commissioner Keightley, he was wounded in the stomach and, believing he was about to die, shot himself in the head. While he was still alive and in pain, one of his friends killed him the coroner named Hall as the person who fired the shot.
  • 30 August: Fred Lowry died from wounds after a shootout with police at Crookwell the night before. Cummins was arrested.
  • 19 November: John OMeally was shot dead during a raid on Goimbla station.
  • 27 September: First raid on Canowindra.

2.4. Gang activities 1864

  • 24 March: Frank Gardiner was living at Apis Creek near Rockhampton, Queensland, where he was running a general store. He was recognised and reported to the police in Sydney. Gardiner was arrested and taken back to Sydney, and sentenced to 32 years hard labour.
  • 25 September: The gang robbed a mail coach near Yass.
  • 16 June: William Fogg Sentenced to 7 years hard labor at Yass Quarter Sessions for maliciously killing cattle.
  • 26 December: Hall, Gilbert, and Dunn bail up the town of Binda. Hall burned down Morriss’s store as an act of revenge after Morriss escaped and alerted police.
  • October: Dunleavy and Mount were arrested by police; Dunn joined Ben Halls gang.
  • 15 November: The gang robbed the Gundagai Mail near Jugiong and Gilbert shot Sergeant Parry dead.


2.5. Gang activities 1865

  • 26 January: Hall, Gilbert, and Dunn were at Collector, near Lake George. Dunn twice shot and killed the local police officer, Constable Samuel Nelson, the sole policeman in the township and father of eight children, while Hall and Gilbert were holding up the hotel. Dunn also shot at one of Nelsons sons but missed.
  • May: Hall, Gilbert, and Dunn were proclaimed outlaws. The Felons Apprehension Act was passed, which allowed known bushrangers to be shot and killed rather than taken to trial. This put the members of the gang outside the law and liable to be killed by anyone.
  • 13 March: The gang attempted to rob the Araluen escort at Majors Creek.
  • 21 April: The gang robbed Yamma Station.
  • 5 May: Hall had separated from the other two and later was surrounded by police and shot dead in the bush near Forbes.
  • 18 March: The gang exchanged shots with police at Wallendbeen; Gilbert was wounded in the arm.
  • 9 April: Robbed Brazier’s Inn at Nubryan.
  • 12 May: Gilbert and Dunn, on hearing the news of Halls death, headed for Dunns grandfathers property at Murrumbarrah.
  • 4 March: Robbed the Gundaroo mail coach at Gearys Gap.
  • 10 April: Robbed Watts’s Inn, Austin’s inn, and Gallimore’s store at Black Rock.
  • 3 February: Robbed the Murrumbah Inn and the Ploughed Ground Inn at Paddys River.
  • 25 March: Robbed Jones’s store at Forbes.
  • 24 February: Shootout with police at Byrnes’ farm in Mutbilly.
  • 6 February: Robbed the Braidwood mail coach south of Goulburn.
  • 17 March: The gang robbed Chinese miners at Little Wombat.
  • 13 May: The Binalong Police Station Senior Constable Charles Hales thought they might visit John Kelly, Dunns grandfather. On the morning of the 13th of May, John Kelly informed Senior Constable Hales that Gilbert and Dunn were at his hut. Hales gathered Constables John Bright, Michael King, and Henry Hall and headed to Kellys place. Two parties were formed: Bright and Hall went to the back of the hut and were stationed in the creek, while Hales and King were stationed at the front of the hut.
As Hales and King approached the hut, the dogs started barking. Bushrangers ran out the back of the hut firing their guns, and kept up the fire as they got through a bush fence that led to the creek. They positioned themselves behind a large tree. Gilbert fired his revolving rifle at Hales and Bright, but it misfired. Meanwhile, King and Hall took up positions. Dunn and Gilbert started firing their revolvers at Hall and King and ran down to the creek. Hales and Bright immediately fired at the bushrangers; Gilbert was shot and died instantly. Hales ordered his men to follow and to chase Dunn. The three constables chased Dunn for about a mile and a half; they were exhausted and had to give up the pursuit. Dunn stole a horse from nearby Bogolong station and wasnt heard from again for seven months.
  • 18 December: Dunn was recognized by Police at McPhails Station near Walgett. A week later on the 26th of December, after a gunfight with police, he was wounded and captured near Coonamble. He was tried on 19 January 1866; the jury took ten minutes to find him guilty of murder, and he was sentenced to hang. He was hanged in Darlinghurst Gaol on 19 March 1866.

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