Bathurst Rebellion

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The Bathurst Rebellion of 1830 was an outbreak of bushranging near Bathurst in the British colony of New South Wales, Australia, involving a group of escaped convicts who ransacked villages and engaged in shootouts between October and November of that year. Led by 25-year-old English convict Ralph Entwistle, the group, known as the Ribon Gang, numbered up to 140 men at its peak, making it the largest convict uprising in New South Wales history since the Castle Hill convict rebellion of 1804.

Background[edit]

Entwistle was a Bolton labourer convicted of stealing clothing and transported to New South Wales in 1827.[1] After arriving in Sydney, he and a few other convicts were assigned to squatter John Lipscombe and sent across the newly traversed Blue Mountains to work on his land, near Bathurst. In November 1829, Entwistle and another assigned servant drove one of their master's bullock drays to Sydney Markets to deliver wool, and on returning to Bathurst, in the heat of the day, stopped for a skinny dip in the Macquarie River. Governor Ralph Darling and his party, then touring Bathurst, happened to pass by the bathing convicts. They were subsequently hauled before the Police Magistrate of Bathurst, Thomas Evernden, and charged with "causing an affront to the Governor"—who had not seen the incident. Entwistle and his companion were each sentenced to a public flogging of 50 lashes. This experience, along with similar ones, left Entwistle embittered, and within a year, he had taken up bushranging and persuaded other convicts to join him.

The rebellion[edit]

William Henry Suttor commanded the volunteers.

In late September 1830, Entwistle and his men began raiding farms, seizing firearms and liberating convicts in the process. The gang had grown to 50 members by the time they arrived at the farm of Thomas Evernden, seeking revenge, but the magistrate was absent.[2] When the farm's overseer, James Greenwood, refused to allow Evernden's convict servants to join the gang, Entwistle and his men threatened to shoot him dead.[3] Greenwood still refused, saying they were "not game enough" to shoot him, at the same time bearing his chest. Entwistle and two other bushrangers, Gahan and Kearney, fired immediately, killing Greenwood.[4]

When news of the shooting reached Bathurst, the locals met at the courthouse to rally support for the town's six troopers. Twelve men volunteered, including pastoralist and politician William Henry Suttor, who was chosen as the volunteers' leader, with his brother Charles second in command.[2] The troopers called for military reinforcements; British Army soldiers from the 39th Regiment of Foot began the march from Sydney whilst members of the New South Wales Mounted Police were dispatched from Goulburn.[3]

The Ribbon Gang trekked to the Abercrombie River, and at Trunkey Creek, the hard core of the group, led by Entwistle, splintered off and headed for the Abercrombie Caves.[3] The volunteers set out, passing through stations the gang had ransacked, and the next day near sundown, with the assistance of two Aboriginal trackers, found and cornered the gang—now reduced to 20 men. Over 300 shots were fired in the ensuing gunfight, and several men on both sides were wounded, at least two bushrangers mortally.[5] The volunteers were soon joined by the mounted police and infantry regiment. Outnumbered, the bushrangers surrendered.

Aftermath[edit]

On 30 October 1830, the bushrangers were put on trial in the Bathurst Court House by the order of Governor Ralph Darling. They were tried by a Special Commission and a jury of military officers, with His Honor the Chief Justice of New South Wales Francis Forbes present.[5] Ralph Entwistle, William Gahan, Michael Kearney, Patrick Gleeson, Thomas Dunn and John Shepherd were convicted of the murder of John Greenwood and hanged. The remaining bushrangers—Robert Webster, James Driver, Dominic Daby and John Kenny—were hanged for plundering farmhouses.[5] The public execution took place on 3 November in Bathurst on the site of what is now known as Ribbon Gang Lane. After being kept on display for a day "as a warning", the bodies were buried in two mass graves, five in each.

Bibliography[edit]

Books

  • Connor, John; Stockings, Craig (2013). Before the Anzac Dawn: A military history of Australia before 1915. NewSouth. ISBN 9781742241616. 
  • Fry, Ken (1993). Beyond the Barrier: Class Formation in a Pastoral Society: Bathurst, 1818–1848. Crawford House Press. ISBN 9781863330978. 
  • Greaves, Bernard (1964). The Story of Bathurst. Angus and Robertson. 
  • Neil Stewart, Gordon (1983). "Convict Rebel: Ralph Entwistle". In Fry, Eric. Rebels and Radicals. Allen and Unwin. ISBN 978-0-9803466-6-4. 

Webpages

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Fry 1993, p. 145.
  2. ^ a b "Hayseed" (30 September 1903). "Annals of the Turf in N. S. Wales", Sydney Sportsman. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Jones 2003.
  4. ^ "Supreme Court", The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (11 November 1830). Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Batman, Oxley (26 August 1950). "Bathurst Convict Uprising", The World's News. Retrieved 8 March 2017.

References[edit]

External links[edit]