Richard Burgess (murderer)

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Richard Burgess
Born Richard S. Hill
(1829-02-14)14 February 1829
West End, London, England England
Died Around 8.30am
5 October 1866(1866-10-05) (aged 37)
Nelson, New Zealand New Zealand
Cause of death Execution by hanging
Occupation Stonemason (briefly)
Career criminal
Criminal penalty Death
Date 12–13 June 1866
12 June: Unknown time
13 June: Around 1pm
Location(s) Maungatapu track, south-east of Nelson
Target(s) Travellers near the summit of the Maungatapu Track
Killed Four
(The accused originally boasted no fewer than nine murders)

Richard S. Burgess (14 February 1829 – 5 October 1866) was a notorious murderer known for the "Maungatapu murders" which occurred on the Maungatapu track, south-east of Nelson, New Zealand.

Born Richard Hill in west London in 1829, reputedly the illegitimate son of a guards officer and a lady's companion,[1] he became involved in petty street crime at age 14 and was soon jailed and flogged for pickpocketing. Two years later he was sentenced to 15 years transportation for burglary. After 20 months of solitary he was shipped to Melbourne, Australia, arriving in September 1847.[2]

In 1852, he was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment for armed highway robbery, and he was released in October 1861.[1] He was calling himself Burgess, the name of a New South Wales runholder he had attempted to steal from.[3] He left Australia in January 1862 for New Zealand and the Central Otago Gold Rush. On 12 June 1866, James Battle was murdered on the Maungatapu track by Burgess and four others, known as the 'Burgess gang'. The following day four other men were killed nearby. In court Burgess boasted of committing nine murders; he wrote his memoirs while awaiting trial. He was executed in Nelson Gaol on 5 October 1866.[4]


  1. ^ a b "Richard Burgress". 1966 Encyclopedia of New Zealand. 
  2. ^ "Richard Burgess". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Retrieved 27 July 2018. 
  3. ^ "The Burgess Gang". 
  4. ^ "The Maungatapu murders".