15 March 2013

Stephen Tobin- Ch:8- Bushrangers in the family

Bushrangers- The Clarke Brothers and the O'Connell Brothers.

As mentioned in the previous chapter, Timothy and Catherine Guinea's daughter Ellen married Thomas James Berry who lived in the Braidwood district of NSW. The Guinea's son John Cornelius Guinea would also marry into the Berry family, marrying Ellen Berry in 1872. Thomas Berry was an enormous young man, 6ft 5in tall. The Guinea family, who moved to the Braidwood district in 1861, would unfortunately get caught up in the illegal actions of Thomas Berry's cousins, the Clarkes and the O'Connells (als Connell), notorious in the area for bushranging. Daniel Guinea in particular would become a suspect in a gruesome murder of four constables, for which he was arrested and, after questioning, was  released without charge. The Braidwood area was infamous for cattle theft and highway robbery.

Thomas James Berry
(NSW State Records- Gaol Entry Photo)

Thomas Berry (Jnr)  was the first cousin of the notorious outlaws the Clarke brothers (Thomas and John) of Braidwood who were captured at Thomas and Ellen’s hut at Jinden on 27 April 1867- Thomas Berry and his new wife had moved there following their wedding, two months prior to the dramatic shootout and arrest. The hut belonged to Ellen's half-brother, Daniel Guinea. Whether he was also living at the hut at the same time is uncertain. Thomas and Ellen were looking after Ellen’s younger siblings, 5 yr old Mary Ann, 7 yr old Elizabeth and 11 yr old Denis, at the time of the capture. The farm of Timothy and Catherine Guinea was on the opposite bank of Jinden Creek near Jinden Station.

Plan of Daniel Guinea's hut as described in the Court  Case, measuring 20 x 28 feet (8.5m x 6m). Described as having 4 rooms, 2 fireplaces, stringy bark roof, sides of vertical hardwood slabs, small verandah at front, no rear door, front fence with slip rails separating from a large cultivation paddock, stockyards at rear, facing Jinden Creek in view of her parents' home on the opposite bank.

As previously mentioned, Thomas James Berry was the son of Thomas Berry and Bridget O’Connell. Thomas Berry, a Protestant English labourer, was sentenced to 14 years in Warwick, England, on 14 March 1837 for breaking into a shop, and transported on the 'Asia', arriving in December 1837. Assigned to Major Errington at Mount Errington, he married the Catholic Bridget Connell (aged about 22) on 25 August 1841 by an Anglican minister and they would have seven children including three sons, Thomas, John and James. By 1855, they were living at Jerrabattgulla, and in 1859 he bought 42 acres on Jerrabattgulla Creek. His neighbour Thomas Hart was not impressed by the Berrys and was continually accusing Thomas Berry of cattle theft and wife Bridget of illicit distilling. 
Bridget and Mary O’Connell were the sisters of Michael Nowlan O’Connell who owned a public house at Stoney Creek, and three other brothers all involved in bushranging, named Thomas, Patrick and John O’Connell als Connell. The Clarke brothers were the sons of John Clarke and Mary Connell.

photo and charge sheet of Michael N O'Connell, 1872

gaol photo of John Connell Oct 1873
description: 6'1", 185 lbs, eye disfigured

The O’Connell (als Connell) family, Michael O’Connell Snr and wife Margaret Nowlan and their ten children from Loughill, Co. Limerick, Ireland arrived in the colony on the ‘Aliquis’ in 1839 as free settlers, and settled in the Braidwood area.

The Illustrated Sydney News Tues 16 April 1867 p1:
The Herald gives the following particulars respecting the Clarkes and Connells, whose deeds of violence and robbery have made them the terror of the Southern districts, which will be read with interest: John Clarke, the father of the outlawed bushranger, a twice convicted felon, and was engaged in the respectable occupation of flogging convicts at Moreton Bay before he came to settle in the Jingera district. He married a woman named Connell, who had four brothers. One of them, Michael (Nowlan)  Connell, is now under committal for trial for harbouring bushrangers, and for being accessory to the murder of Carroll and party. (viz. the Jinden murders) Another, John Connell is now serving a sentence of ten years in Darlinghurst gaol for mail robbery, having previously served a sentence of five years for highway robbery. The wife of this man Is in Darlinghurst gaol under sentence for receiving stolen property. The third, Patrick Connell, a bushranger, was shot dead by the police; and the fourth Thomas Connell, has just had a sentence of death passed on him at the recent sitting of the Central Court, for taking part in a highway robbery and wounding, but commuted by the Executive Council into imprisonment for life without hope of remission. With regard to the three sons of John Clarke, Tommy is now an outlaw, and his brother John forms one of his gang, and will also, we hear, be shortly outlawed. The remaining male member of the family James Clarke, is now serving a sentence of ten years on the roads for highway robbery. Old John Clarke, the father, died, as everybody knows, in Goulburn Gaol while under committal for the murder of Billy Noonang, an aboriginal.”

One can only surmise that the Guineas became involved with these infamous families due to their common Irish heritage, particularly the Connells from Co. Limerick, and a  general distrust of authority and lack of respect for the police and the Law, and the close proximity of their farms.

The Infamous Outlaws- the Clarke Brothers

Thomas and John Clarke, born 1840 and 1846 respectively at Braidwood NSW were the sons of convict John Clarke, a shoemaker who arrived in Sydney in the Morley for a 7 yr sentence, for pig stealing in Co Down, Ireland.  After his assignment to a pastoralist, he rented a block at Mt Elrington, became a free settler in the Braidwood area in the 1860’s and appears to have lived by stealing cattle and horses. In 1866 he died in Goulburn Gaol, aged 71, awaiting charges of killing an aboriginal, Billy Noonang. He was married in 1839 at Goulburn to Mary O’Connell an Irish immigrant and they had three sons, Tommy, Johnny and James, and eight daughters who grew up without schooling in this isolated area, where the sons were involved in cattle stealing. Johnny spent a year in gaol in 1864 for horse stealing and in Jan 1865 their brother James was sentenced to 7 years for receiving the proceeds of a mail robbery conducted by the infamous Ben Hall and Johnny Gilbert. In 1865 Tommy was in Braidwood Gaol while awaiting trial for assault and robbery when he escaped by jumping over the gaol wall and jumping on a horse that was waiting for him. During the following year Tommy was accused of horse stealing, eight robberies including two mails and post offices, the wounding of John Emmett and the murder of constable Miles O’Grady at Nerrigundah on 9 April 1866. He was proclaimed an outlaw in May under the Felons Apprehension Act.

In May Tommy was joined by his brother Johnny and “no more remarkable confederacy of robbery, violence and murder has ever been known to exist in any civilized community”. Special police were sent to the Braidwood district in April 1866 but were unsuccessful. In September the Colonial Sec. Henry Parkes appointed John Carroll a senior warder at Darlinghurst Gaol and three others to capture the Clarkes. Carroll resorted to bribery and arrested Clarke’s two sisters, other relations and friends on charges of harbouring. He was accused of “using the sisters somewhat roughly”. In January 1867 Carroll and his party were given information that the outlaws were at Daniel Guinea’s Hut. Having found the information false, they made their way back to Jinden but were found murdered not far from Daniel Guinea’s hut. The crime was credited to the Clarkes and a reward of £5000 for their capture or £1000 each, with lesser amounts for information. An uncle Michael O’Connell, cousin James Griffin, and Daniel Guinea were arrested and charged with aiding The Clarkes in the murder. 

Police Gazette NSW -16 January 1867

A special commission was sent to Braidwood to inquire into the murders and local police corruption. 
The following is the deposition made by Daniel Guinea on the 11 January 1867:
This deponent, Daniel Guinea, on oath, as follows:
I am a free settler and reside at Jinden Creek. I have seen the dead bodies of the four men in Jinden today; I have seen three of the four men alive in Braidwood about three weeks ago; I only knew one by name- Mr Carroll; these men were known about this neighbourhood as 'detectives'; I have never seen any of these men since the time I mentioned in Braidwood until I saw them dead at Jinden today. If these men were about my place the last two or three days I never saw them; I know the outlaw Thomas Clarke personally; I have not seen him during the last week, I saw him about Christmas last; I saw him on the road to Stony Creek and my hut; his brother John Clarke was with him when I saw him; a man named Bill Scott was working for me before Christmas time; I paid him his wages, and sent him away; I never saw Bill Scott with Tommy Clarke or John Clarke; I don't recall saying that if Carroll and his detective police came up this way they would be shot; I know the spot where Carroll and his party were killed; it is about two miles from my hut; I was at home all Wednesday evening last; Carroll and his party could not have been at my hut without my knowing it; I heard galloping near my place, on the flat, on Wednesday night, I saw no one.
Daniel Guinea
His X mark.

The Governor of Braidwood Gaol deposed on the 13th January that he had heard Edward Smith tell Carroll that Mick Connell had purchased a quantity of ammunition at a house in George Street Sydney and that it was then planted in a garden of a man named Daniel Guinea.

After about five hours of questioning at their committal, Daniel Guinea’s charges were dropped and the others were released on bail by local magistrates which led to an official inquiry. At their trial, O’Connell and Griffin were found not guilty, but in new charges laid in September, Griffin was found guilty of killing one of the party and sentenced to hang, although this was commuted to life imprisonment without remission. On 22 February 1867 Tommy Clarke held up a mail coach in which John Dunmore Lang was a passenger, but he was not molested.

Clarke Gang sticking up the Goulburn Mail- 
"Illustrated Australian News" 28 March 1867

In March 1867, Henry Parkes sent a force of experienced police to Braidwood led by an aboriginal tracker known as ‘Sir Watkin’. On the night of 27 April, the party tracked them to one of their known haunts, the Berry’s hut/Daniel Guinea's hut near Timothy Guinea’s hut, both of which were near Jinden about 32 km from Ballalaba or 50 miles from Braidwood. The newly wed Thomas Berry Jnr and his wife Ellen Guinea were living in the hut at the time. The party arriving at the hut at about midnight, having found the bushranger’s horses near the slip-rails, watched the hut until daylight when they saw the Clarke Brothers coming from the hut, each having a bridle in their hands whereupon the leader, Sub Inspector Wright, jumped from behind a stump and called upon them to stand. “They ran back about ten yards and made a halt and drew out their revolvers. The police then fired on them as they retreated in the direction of the hut. They were then both returning fire. They saw a man and a woman and two or three children come out of the hut when the firing first began as if they were frightened at it. They were Thomas Berry Junior and his wife. (The children were Ellen’s younger siblings.) 
'Capture of the Clarkes' by George Lacy
Courtesy of State Library NSW, V*/Bushr/3

When the Clarkes got into the hut they commenced firing through the windows, through the holes in the slabs and through a square porthole at the side of the hut, and after a few minutes Constable Walsh was hit in the thigh and the black tracker got wounded in the wrist by a shot fired out of the hut, the bullet smashed his wrist and ran up through the arm. Thomas Clarke fired two shots from the verandah and retreated back into the hut. The firing was kept up for about five hours until six other police arrived. Constable Walsh galloped up and said “Tommy you’d better surrender, or we will storm the house over you”. Thomas Clarke said “I will give myself up, do not fire”. Thomas then came out of the door of the hut; he called his brother and held up his hands; the other brother, John, came out at the door and we took them. Thomas said “Yes Walsh, I give myself up to you- if you had been here I would have surrendered long before, I called your name several times”. Walsh had not heard him call his name before he was sent for reinforcements. We saw that John Clarke was wounded when he came out. When they held up their hands I ran towards then; they both asked me on giving themselves up, to shake hands with them; they said “Will you shake hands with us?” I did so; they said that they hoped we would forgive them- that they were doing their best to get away, whilst we were doing our best to take them.  They were arrested and on searching the hut, two revolving rifles, two revolvers and two double-barrelled guns, a single barrelled gun and a single barreled pistol were found. There was no back door to the hut, only two windows. The Sub Inspector admitted that the Clarkes may not have heard him say “We are the Police.”  Constable William Walsh, a mounted constable stationed near Jinden had known the Clarkes for about four years. According to his account, Walsh fired upon Thomas who was between the slip-rail and the hut. Thomas returned fire and the bullet rebounded off the ground and struck him on the thigh inflicting a flesh wound. (The Mercury [Hobart] Tues 21 May 1867 p3)

Clarkes' surrender- "Illustrated Sydney News, May 1867

The Argus (Thurs 23 May 1867 p3)- ‘THE CAPTURE OF THE CLARKES’ reported:
From an early hour on Sunday many were anxiously looking for the culprits to enter the town; some more anxious than others took to their horses, and galloped out to meet the escort in charge of the two men who had put the district in such dread for a length of time. The excitement was intense when the police were seen coming into town. Johnny Clarke appeared care-worn and extremely pale, possibly from the fact of losing a great deal of blood from the gunshot wound in his left shoulder. Tommy, on the contrary, appeared to consider the number who were waiting to get a glimpse of him was a mark of respect to him, and treated it as a hero would on a triumphal march into a city after some great exploit of valour. He recognized one or two of his former associates by an inclination of the head. When he had reached as far as the Joint-Stock Bank, a woman, who was standing opposite, threw up her hands and set up a most hideous yell, whether it was in exultation at the capture of these men or execration of the police for having so successfully captured the miscreants it was more than anyone could tell, nor possibly could the woman, for she had been imbibing of the rosy goddess; but the circumstance highly pleased Tommy Clarke who laughed at the eccentricities of the woman. On their being taken to the gaol they were securely ironed. A person of the name of Berry who was found in the hut after the Clarkes surrendered was taken into custody and brought into town with them. After the surrender Tommy was very communicative, and spoke of the many hair-breadth escapes he had had with particular gusto; and this man’s mind and feelings are so deadened that he looked upon the awful position he had been, and was then in, as a piece of by-play. Johnny on the contrary, was extremely morose, and it was with some difficulty that he would allow the doctor to dress his wound which is a very bad one, the shot having taken a piece of his shirt into the orifice. The ball had passed right through the top of his left arm. The aboriginal tracker is a brave fellow and bears the pain like a brave soldier. After Tommy Clarke was handcuffed, Sir Watkin went up to him and said “Tommy, you shot me cowardly”. “No,” said Clarke, “I merely shot you in defence; you wanted to take my life.” “Well,” said Watkin, “I forgive you; shake hands.” Tommy raised his manacled hands which Sir Watkin heartily clenched and shook cordially. Another report said after Sir Watkin had indignantly charged Tommy with shooting him, Tommy replied that the kindness had been reciprocated by his distinguished friend, who had made a target o that part of his person known as the seat of honour. The amputation of Watkins was performed very speedily, and did not lst more than a few seconds, and the patient, with that stoical indifference to bodily pain for which the aborigines, equally with the red Indians of America, are celebrated, walked from his ward upstairs down to the dissecting-room below, and after the operation unconcernedly walked back again, as if he had merely had a finger punctured. The old fellow, who has seen fifty-one summers, is not inclined to bear his honours meekly, and looks every inch a hero, now that he has been promoted to the rank of “sergeant-major” which he will have it the two stripes which the superintendent has placed upon his arm signify.

The Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser Mon 24 June 1867 p4 wrote:
Amongst those who, from the nature of their special duty or official position, were called upon to be present at the opening of the magisterial Court held in Darlinghurst Jail yesterday, great curiosity was felt as to the personal appearance of the two Jinden bushrangers Thomas and John Clarke (at their trial)- both so deeply stained in crime, the first of them being actually a proclaimed outlaw. When the two unhappy criminals were brought into the common room of the debtor’s prison (turned temporarily into a police court), notwithstanding all that had been heard by many as to the appearance of the Clarkes, the first feeling seemed to be one of intense surprise. No one, judging either from the comely, but rather stupid, face of Thomas Clarke, or from the less agreeable but far from ill-favoured features of his brother John, could ever suppose that they were, indeed, the persons whose many daring misdeeds have so long disgraced the colony- Thomas Clarke especially, who looks as if he were the younger of the two. Thomas Clarke is a rather short, broad shouldered, strongly-built young man with light brown hair and a curly beard. His face is broad; the nose being straight and well formed; the mouth full, but far from sensual or ferocious in its expression. The other features are more of less pleasing. His eyes however, (of a dull blue or grey) fail to convey any idea of intelligence or mental energy, and their vacuity (added, perhaps, to the light hair and full quiet face) gives the man that sheepish air which has already been truthfully noticed. He looked more like a well-to-do West of England peasant who had got into trouble poaching, than a bloodthirsty murderer, whose name had been filling a large district with disgust and terror. As regards costume, he was dressed something like a livery stable groom- wearing a twisted, light coloured neckerchief tightly fitting well made small clothes of a good fabric and a faded dark green velveteen ___ coat. The lower portion of the outlaw’s costume terminated in shabby half-boots with coarse grey socks, drawn-in an odd and slovenly style- over the lower ends of his small clothes above the boots. Heavy___ as the man seemed, there was yet, an intent physical power in him of which it was almost impossible to be wholly unconscious. The only sign of anxiety that he betrayed was the slightly convulsive grasp with which he held the forefinger of his rigid hand, as he sat facing the magistrate at the bottom of the room.
The man John Clarke is taller and darker that the outlaw; obviously pale from the effects of his recent wound; more intelligent and menacing in his looks than his notorious brother, but far less self-possessed. John Clarke at the court yesterday, was dressed in the same style as his brother- his clothes being perhaps of less expensive materials. It was remarked by the reporters of the Daily press that Thomas Clarke (or Tommy, as he is rather offensively called) nodded familiarly to Constable Walsh as he entered the Court to give his evidence- a salutation which the constable good-humouredly returned, unmindful of the leaden missives (?) which he had once received from his now humbled opponent.

 Those who have a kind of faith in dreams the following incident in this affair may possibly strengthen their belief. On Friday evening, when Tommy and Johnny Clarke made for Guinea’s hut, in which resided Thomas Berry Junior and his wife, they shortly after their arrival laid themselves down to sleep, and soon were wrapped in the arms of Morpheus. About daylight on Saturday morning, Tommy awoke first, calling Johnny, and saying “Johnny, I’ve had a dream that Byrnes (a senior-sergeant stationed at Ballalaba) had trapped us”. Johnny exclaimed, “All nonsense”. “Well,” said Tommy, “this day will tell something.” This was related by Tommy Clarke while Dr Pattison was dressing the wound of Johnny. Guinea’s hut, as it is called, where this affray took place, is about two miles distant from the spot where Carroll and his party were barbarously murdered, a circumstance which is now fresh in the recollection of every person. In the hut, the police found a quantity of ammunition and a breech-loading rifle, supposed to belong to Carroll

At their trial in Sydney on 28 May, the brothers were charged with wounding Constable William Walsh and an aboriginal tracker with intent to murder. They were found guilty and sentenced to be executed. During his address, Sir Alfred Stephen listed their record, exclusive of seven suspected murders including that of Constable O'Grady, as:
Thomas: 9 mail robberies, 36 robberies of individuals of all classes in two years.
John: 26 crimes in one year.

Tommy and Johnny Clarke at Braidwood Gaol, shortly before their execution in 1867
(SLNSW Dl Pd788)

Thomas Berry was arrested at the same time and charge with harbouring the outlaws. However, this appears to have been a tactic to allay suspicion that Berry had informed on them, for his own protection. There is no evidence of his trial for harbouring or a jail sentence, and the Berrys had children born in 1868 and 1869. In June 1869, Thomas was fined £50 which was paid, for having stolen beef in his possession.

However, Thomas Berry did spend five years in Berrima and Darlinghurst Gaols for cattle stealing. The State Records NSW Index to Deposition Registers has Thomas Berry committed for trial at Braidwood on 9 July 1874 for the offense of cattle stealing, for which he was sentenced in August 1874 to five years hard labour on the roads.[i] His sentence was remitted in September 1878.
The Berrima prison records are of interest- Berry’s papers are marked- ‘This prisoner is the first cousin of the Clarke brothers and was giving information on the Clarkes”.
Thomas also claimed the reward money for the capture of his cousins. After his release he and his wife left the district, fearing retribution. They settled in the Warren area about 100 kms NW of Dubbo. While he was in gaol, his wife Ellen gave birth to a child named Lily Catherine Guinea in 1878, which Thomas, to his credit, always treated as his own.

Thomas Berry's Gaol Entry Record
(State Records NSW )

A weekly series of articles on the police efforts to capture the Clarkes and Connells, written by one of the local constables, featured in the ‘Queanbeyan Age’, between 23 November 1867 and 11 January 1868. The articles were very revealing. Several times he alluded to a local informer who was supplying information to the police on the whereabouts of the outlaws.

The author of the articles wrote (Sat 28 Dec 1867):
“Carroll (the leader of the four constables) commenced operations in earnest. He began with the harbourers. He took Mick Connell, and then he took James and Pat Griffin. Carroll was right here, for they were all guilty of harbouring, aiding, abetting and all that, but he was wrong when he arrested young …….. This young man would have been Carroll’s safety, if he had exercised prudence; but he took him at the instigation of Lucy Hurley (mistress of Tom Connell), who had a terrible spite against the young man’s mother, who had a great grudge against me until she saw my intimacy with her son was for a good purpose. So when we met Carroll at the hut we refused to aid him by going to Guinea’s for reasons before stated. Young ……. was kept in gaol for some time, but Carroll could get no evidence against him, so he was liberated. This made …….  work harder- not for Carroll- but for the “regulars” to get the boys captured.”

It would appear that he was referring either to young Thomas Berry or Daniel Guinea (who was arrested for the Jinden murders then released without charge.
The author continued:
“There are a few matters preceding the murders, but how those murders were planned, where, and by whom; and how and by whom the murders were perpetrated, will require more careful consideration, for it will not do to mention at least one name in whose behalf high official influence may have been used to save him from a felon’s doom.”
To whom was he referring? Thomas Berry?

On January 11, 1868, the author wrote about the capture of the Clarke brothers:
“I told Sergeant B that I wanted to go up the gully to work a little game. He wanted to know my author, but I refused to betray him, because I knew if I mentioned his name in the barracks, the Clarkes would have it soon afterwards, and my friend would share the fate of the Big Tailor (a bushranging associate possibly killed by the Clarkes because of suspicion). I told him it was a man I could depend on, and that I knew it was right. Although I spoke the truth, I well knew it was the very thing to stop me from getting there, and so it did. B, said the horses were too tired to go out, and he would spell them till he got some good information. I could see it was decided against me, and I walked out of the barracks sick at heart. After all my labours, after waiting patiently for that ne attack for that beat all the chances, when it was known they were in ……….’s hut, sleeping out at night and to be out of it when the information came, was to ne a most grievous disappointment. The only comfort I had was to learn that my friend had gone to Egan and thus Wright’s party acted with promptitude , while ours treated the matter with indifference. I told my native friends top make up the gully toward …….’s and they would have a chance.”
The following day Constable Walsh rode in at the gallop to inform them that the Clarkes were holed up in Berry’s hut and that their help was needed. The author described their frantic ride through the bush for 24 miles to join Wright’s party:
“We came straight as a line to Guinea’s hut. We were in sight of the other hut, but could not see a soul moving about. We asked the Guineas if the Clarkes were in the hut and they told us they were. So we galloped across the flat and into the river head-first. As we were galloping towards the hut, Wright’s party saw us and waved their hats madly, etc”

Sentence of Death
“Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser” Sat 1 June 1867 p6:
The Chief Justice who passed sentence on Tommy and Johnny Clarke eloquently articulated thoughts on the life of crime led by these two young men that are relevant to criminals today:
“You are not to receive punishment as a retribution, but because the taking of your lives is believed to be necessary for the peace and good order, for the safety as well as the welfare of the community, because of the example and warning that a capital execution may hold out to others, by acting as a terror and restraint from the committal of similar crimes of which you are now convicted. This is the principle, the true principle, of all human punishment…..
(The Chief Justice then listed their crimes, apart from murders.)
This is the result of a long career of bushranging. You have had many abettors- both must have had many abettors in the district from which you come; and I have no doubt there are others, blind as they are, who have sympathised with your crimes generally. I shall not waste words in respect of such crimes imputed to you. The community is disgraced by the committal of such crimes. I would ask others- and this I recommend you to reflect upon before you die- what is the result, what the value of this course of wickedness, violence, and outrage which you have been pursuing for so long? In all the cases which have come before me it has been a question- Where is the money they have gained? What is the benefit of it? You have not now a shilling in the world after all your robberies. You have not, therefore, profited by your career of crime. I have not heard of anyone being a gainer by such a lawless course except one (Gardiner) who is now serving 32 years’ penal servitude. A criminal career must end sooner or later. How many lives are taken? How much misery inflicted?- and all this for no earthly good accruing to one of you. All is to end ignominiously! You, young men, might have pursued to different career. You might have been the fathers of respectable families, happy- for happiness is to be found in the circle of home, made home by honest industry. Instead of that, you are to die a dishonoured death in your young days, on the gallows. There is another consideration. You must have expected that, after you had taken to firearms and robbery, the result must have been death. It is shocking to think of; Infamous that you should continue such a career. Those who pursue this course must not only reflect that there is a public shame hanging over them, but that they gain nothing by their robberies. You must have been constantly in terror- always in a state of alarm lest the police tracked you out. And the hard life you must lead. I am not willing to embitter your feelings; but what I am now saying may not be heard by this crowded court but I have a hope that others ears may hear me and be prevented from entering on a career similar to yours. I say men like you must be in constant fear of the police entering your dwellings when you have one; and hence you wander about like wold beasts and undergo an amount of fatigue and privation more sever than that imposed on any labourer, and which, if directed to its proper channel, would bring you peace of mind, would more than furnish you with the comforts of this life. Take this into consideration, and you will admit that the balance must be against you. Tell me, where is the man you have ever heard of, who, by a course of bushranging has gained a shilling’s worth of property he can call his own. If liberated to-morrow, where are their gains? I will read you a lost of bushrangers who have appeared during the last four years and a half, all of whom have been either shot dead, or hanged, or imprisoned for life- a list almost of demons. There was Feisley- he was executed. Davis, sentenced to death, but commuted to fifteen years. Gardiner, sentenced to 32 years. Gilbert, shot dead. Ben Hall, shot dead. Bow and Fordyce, sentenced to death, commuted to imprisonment for life. Manns executed. Vane, ten years. O’Mearly shot dead. Burke shot dead. Gordon, Ben Hall’s mate sentenced to 15 years. Dunleavy, the same. Dunn, executed. Loury, shot dead. Foley, sentenced to 15 years. Morgan shot dead. Yourself, Thomas Clarke and you John Clarke about to be sentenced to be hanged. Fletcher shot dead. Pat Connell a mate and relation of yours Thomas Clarke, shot dead. Tom Carroll another relation, sentenced to death, but commuted to penal servitude for life. And Bill Scott, a mate of yours, believed ot have been murdered. How many widows, how many orphans, how much property is lost by the career of these men? I have a list here which shows that since June 1864, seven persons, mostly police, were killed and 16 policemen wounded- all within three years. Much as I have had to do with criminals, I do not know that there is anything in the world so abhorrent as the sympathy which has been expressed for this class if highway robbers- the scum of the earth, the lowest of the low- they have been held up as heroes worthy of example. But better days are coming. It was the old convict element that was still working that caused the sympathy I am alluding to. Yes, a brighter day is coming. You will not live to see it, for your days are numbered. A better and a healthier feeling is rising and pervading all classes. There will be no longer this vile sympathy which has hitherto so much disgraced us. It is shocking when I think of it. It pains me. It humiliates me when I reflect upon it. But two of three years ago one, a young man, the head and front of bushranging amongst us, was in the dock where you now stand, and was acquitted wrongfully- I say wrongfully acquitted. And there was rejoicing in this court, such an exhibition as would disgrace the vilest country on earth; but I am happy to say such days are gone. If there are any in this court now who participated in that unseemly exhibition they live now to see their shame. I am grieved that two young men like you are to receive the last sentence of the law- that you are to pass away from a country which, by honest industry, you might have assisted to raise in the estimation of the world, but from which you pass after disgracing it.
His Honour then, with much solemnity, pronounced the awful sentence of death upon the prisoners who were removed by the gaolers to the condemned cells.
The prisoners remained apparently unconcerned at their fate. An elderly woman, said to be Mrs Clarke, stood near the dock, and her feelings can be better imagined than described to see her two sons conducted to their last habitation in this world.

The Execution of the Brothers Clarke

The Queenslander (Brisbane) Sat 6 July 1867 p9:
Thomas and John Clarke were executed together within the precincts of Darlinghurst Gaol on Tuesday June 25, a few minutes past 9 o’clock, in the presence of about one hundred and seventy spectators, and a large detachment of city police. The execution was conducted in a very prompt and brief manner. The procession was formed exactly at 9 o’clock. Thomas Clarke was accompanied by the Rev. Father John Dwyer (this was the grandson of the 1798 Irish rebel leader Michael Dwyer), and John Clarke by the Rev. Father O’Farrell.  The prayers said by the clergymen were in a low tone. Both prisoners walked with their heads bowed down, and with their eyes partially closed. They looked very careworn and much dejected. They paid no attention to the presence of so many spectators, upon whom they did not so much as cast one look. Their minds seemed to be fully absorbed in meditation and prayer. On arriving at the foot of the gallows they both knelt briefly in prayer. The Rev. Father Dwyer the proceeded up the ladder to the scaffold, followed by O’Farrell. The prisoners, especially John, manifested slight trepidation. John was placed left of his brother. When the rope was adjusted on John’s neck he looked momentarily at his brother, whose eyes remained closed. The rope was then adjusted round Thomas’ neck. A few more prayers- very brief, were said, when the Rev. Father Dwyer took Thomas’ left and John’s right hand, bid them farewell, and left them. The Rev. Father O’Farrell held the cross to each of their lips, and both kissed it- their eyes being closed. Both clergymen having departed, the hangman placed a white cap over each of the culprit’s faces, and drew the bolt. Both fell suddenly to a depth of nine feet- their necks were dislocated- and they died instantly without a struggle, and without any perceptible muscular spasm.
Drs Aaron and Evans and a surgeon from one of her Majesty’s vessels, after the bodies had been suspended for about 20 minutes, pronounced life to be extinct; they were taken down, placed in shells, and given over to their sisters for interment.
Since their conviction they had been attended upon unremittingly by the Sisters of Mercy, by the Rev. Father Dwyer and Father O’Farrell; very early yesterday morning by the Rev. Prior Sheridan; and their demeanor throughout was apparently most penitent.
On Monday afternoon they were visited for the last time by their two sisters. Tears on both sides flowed thick and fast. The parting scene was affectionate and distressing. The prisoners, however, soon regained their composure. The authorities also allowed them to be visited by their uncle, Michael Nowlan O’Connell, who is now awaiting trial for being accessory to the murder of Carroll and party at Jinden, and also for harboring the outlaw Thomas Clarke- now no more. The parting scene was here also of a very sad description.
There are some facts in connection with these two executed criminals deserving notice. It is well known that their solicitor, Mr Joseph Leary, spared no personal effort in defending them, and in endeavouring to procure a mitigation of their sentence. He procured two very eminent counsel at their trial; and when sentence was passed, moved the full Court in arrest of judgment. Failing in this he went personally on Thursday and had an interview with the Governor, in the presence of His Excellency’s private secretary, and pleaded ably for mercy, especially for John Clarke. Feeling that it would be necessary to submit his case in writing he drew up an elaborate statement, which His Excellency placed specially before the Executive Council on Monday. There was a full meeting of the Council- the further report of the Chief Justice and the opinion of the Attorney-General and the Solicitor General being considered with Mr Leary’s statement. The result of a most anxious deliberation, however, was that the two criminals should be left to their fate.
When this decision had been arrived at and communicated to the prisoners, on Monday evening, they were visited for the last time by Mr Leary. After some conversation, Thomas Clarke said, “We should like to make a statement to you.” Mr Leary replied, “It is useless now for you to make any statement to me; I have done all I can; you have but a few hours to live; direct your thoughts to One who is just, and before whom you have soon to appear; that is now my advice.” Thomas Clarke said “We have given up all hope, and are prepared to die; but, for myself, I wish to declare solemnly that I am innocent of murdering either Carroll or his party.” Mr Leary said, “Don’t tell me anything more about it.” John Clarke said, “ I can solemnly assure you that I am also innocent of murdering either one or the other of those detectives.” Thomas Clarke said, “You know, sir, we have written to the Colonial Secretary, and told him we were innocent of murdering Carroll’s party, and we told him we could prove that at the time they were murdered we were forty miles away from the place; we told him that Mrs St Germains, her daughter, her son-in-law (who had been a member of the police force for some time since), and another person whom we named, could prove that at the time the detectives were murdered we were at her place. Mrs St Germains said to me, a few days after the report of the murder, “Well, Tom, they accuse you of many crimes, but they cannot say you murdered the detectives.”  These four people are in a position to prove that they saw us during the day, and at the hour, forty miles from the scene of the murder.” 
Appeal letter dictated by Tommy and John Clarke proclaiming their innocence of the murder of the 4 Special Constables (Colonial Secretary's Papers, dated 17 June 1867)

They then, in bidding adieu to Mr Leary, warmly thanked him for the pains he had taken, and requested that he would be so good as to convey certain words to their mother,, and that he would strongly advise their sisters and other relatives in the Braidwood district to lead an honest and a good life.
It will be difficult for the public to disbelieve that the Clarkes murdered Carroll and his party; but as they both, almost at the last moment, when there was no chance of a reprieve, voluntarily and persistently protested their innocence of these foul murders, it is but right that it should be recorded. They made no public confession of other crimes.

Summary of Clarke and O'Connell families, and Thomas Berry

Michael Nowlan O'Connell (Mick) – b.1821 Loghill Co. Limerick, Ireland, d.1903 Braidwood, m. 1849 Esther Dempsey, m.2. 1851 Margaret E. Griffin. Kept a store, public-house, post office and blacksmith’s shop near Jinden station- well respected in the local community, but public house a known meeting place for bushrangers (his brothers and nephews); in April 1867 under committal for harbouring bushrangers and accessory to murder of John Carroll and party at Jinden in January 1867, along with James Griffin and Daniel Guinea. After 5 hours at the committal hearing, Daniel Guinea was released without charge, then both Griffin and O'Connell found not guilty of killing Carroll. However, in August 1867 Michael O’Connell was convicted of “aiding an outlaw” and given 7 yrs hard labour in Darlinghurst Gaol, while Griffin was charged with the murder of  another in the Carroll party, Patrick Kennagh and remanded until his trial.
John O'Connell- b.1827 Loghill Co. Limerick, d.1882 Braidwood, m. 1854 Ellen Berriman. Served 5 years for highway robbery, then 10 years at Darlinghurst for receiving proceeds of mail robbery. Wife Ellen Berriman served 5 years for passing stolen notes
Patrick O'Connell- b.1835 Loghill Co. Limerick, d.1866 Braidwood.  Bushranger with the Clarkes; shot dead by police on 16 July 1866 following store hold-up by Patrick and Thomas O'Connell.
Thomas O'Connell- b.1832 Loghill Co. Limerick, d.1907 Braidwood, m.1. 1856 Jane Bradley, m.2. Louisa Ann Hurley. Bushranger with the Clarkes, given death sentence for highway robbery and wounding, commuted to life imprisonment without remission
John Clarke (Snr)- b.1808 Newry Co. Down, Ire., d. 1866 Goulburn Gaol, m. 1839 Mary Connell.  Convict arrived on the Morley 1828 on 7 yr sentence; shoemaker by trade; assigned to a pastoralist; 1860’s became a free settler at Mt. Elrington near Braidwood; stole horses and cattle; died Goulburn Gaol 1866 while under committal for murder of aboriginal  Billy Noonang
Thomas Clarke- b.c.1840 Braidwood, d.1867 (executed), m. Charlotte Hart. Outlawed under the Felons Apprehension Act in 1866- bushranger, cattle and horse stealing, robberies including mails and post offices and a mail coach in which John Dunmore Lang was a passenger, wounding of John Emmett and murder of constable Miles O’Grady in 1866. Implicated in the murder of John Carroll and party at Jinden in 1867. Also implicated in the murders of two of their gang- the Big Taylor and Bill Scott.  Captured after a five hour gun battle at Berry’s Hut in May 1867. Sentenced to death by hanging at trail in June 1867 charged and found guilty of wounding Constable Walsh with intent to murder (on the day of their capture), and wounding aboriginal tracker ‘Sir Watkin’- hanged on June 25 with brother John. Notably the priest who attended Thomas at the hanging was Fr. John Dwyer, the grandson of famous 1798 Irish rebel leader, the ‘Wicklow Chief'  Michael Dwyer.
John Clarke (Jnr)- b.c.1846 Braidwood, d.1867 (executed). Part of brother Thomas Clarke’s gang. Involved in at least 24 crimes in 1866-67. Captured with his brother and hanged.
James Clarke- b.?, d.1891, m.1. Susan Kelly, m.2. Alice E. McCurley. Sentenced in Jan 1865 for 7 yrs at Cockatoo Island for receiving proceeds of mail robberies conducted by Ben Hall and Johnny Gilbert. It was not proved that he actually committed the robberies. Between 1863 and 1865, Ben Hall, John Gilbert and their gang committed over 100 robberies. In late 1864, during the robbery of a mail coach near Jugiong, New South Wales, John Gilbert shot and killed Sgt. Parry. Hall and Gilbert were outlawed under the Felons Apprehension Act which meant they could be shot without trial. On 5 May 1865, the whereabouts of Ben Hall was reported to the police and he was ambushed and shot by a party of eight well-armed policemen. A week later on the 13 May, Johnny Gilbert was shot by police.
Thomas Berry Jnr-  b.1847 Braidwood, m.1867 Ellen Guinea. Charged in May 1867 for harbouring bushrangers when Clarke Brothers captured at the Berry Hut in which they were residing- result of trial unknown. Charged in 1874 for cattle stealing- 5 year sentence at Berrima Gaol, then Darlinghurst Gaol, remitted in 1878.
James Griffin, a relative my marriage of the Clarke Bros and the O'Connells, convicted of one of the Jinden Murders, viz. Patrick Kennagh, at his trial in September 1867, sentence of death commuted to life imprisonment.  James, born in the colony in 1845, was brother to Michael Nowlan O’Connell’s second wife Margaret E. Griffin (b.1835 Co Limerick, m.c.1862, and considerably younger than her husband). He also had two brothers named Patrick and Michael who were also involved in the families’ illegal activities. James was released from gaol in 1880 suffering from consumption and died at Dubbo Hospital in 1881.

The Guinea family, including Timothy's son  Daniel Guinea and his wife, left the Braidwood district a couple of years after the hanging of the Clarkes, and moved to Queensland. Thomas Berry and Ellen moved to the Dubbo district on his release from jail, and got a job working on a station near Warren (about 100 km NW of Dubbo) in which district the family remained. The Berrys had many children and are remembered as well known pioneers, land owners and teamsters in the Warren area.

© B. A. Butler

Email contact: butler1802 @  hotmail. com (no spaces)

Ref “Illustrated Sydney News” Tues 16 April 1867 p7, ‘Queanbeyan Age’, weekly fr 23 Nov 1867 to 11 Jan 1868, page 4- Bushrangers and Our Police System by a Native Trooper, plus general newspapers in the year 1867, Australian Dictionary of Biography- Thomas Clarke; http://www.nedkellysworld.com.au/bushrangers/clarke_bros.htm  Australian Bushrangers- The Clarke Brothers, Thomas and John.

Several newspapers, including ‘The Mercury’ (Tas) Tues 21 May 1867 p3- THE BUSHRANGERS THOMAS AND JOHN CLARKE, recounted the story of the Clarke brothers dramatic arrest, and the rather poignant description of their execution (The Mercury Tues 2 July 1867 page 3 ). Other articles worth reading are:

Australian Dictionary of Biography on the Clarke Brothers, including their photo:  http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/clarke-thomas-3226)

 ‘Empire’ (Sydney) Fri 31 May 1867 p5- the Jinden Murders

The Queenslander Sat 6 July 1867 p3- Execution of the Brothers Clarke

Author, Peter C Smith has spent decades researching the Clarkes and the Connells and their bushranging exploits and has published his findings in a fantastic book, “The Clarke Gang- Outlawed, Outcast and Forgotten”, Rosenberg Publishing NSW 2015.

Dawn C. Hassett, The Guinea Saga: The History of a Pioneering Family, self published 2001 and 2nd ed 2014, copy in National Library of Australia.

Link back to Introduction:

Links to all other chapters in this blog:

Tobin and Driscoll family in Tipperary Ireland

Tobin family settle in Gerringong, NSW, Australia in 1857

Tobin family settle in Tallebudgera Queensland in 1870

Life at Tallebudgera for the Tobin Family until 1892

Tobin family move back to NSW and Western Australia- deaths of Stephen and Mary

Stephen Tobin's sister Catherine Tobin- marriage to Timothy Guinea

Bushrangers in the family

Stephen Tobin's sister Ellen Tobin- an Irish female orphan immigrant in 1850

Stephen Tobin's daughter Katherine Tobin- marriage to Adolph Poulsen

Sons of Stephen Tobin and Mary Driscoll

Daughters of Stephen Tobin and Mary Driscoll

Irish Roots of Tobins, Driscolls, O'Briens, and Whites

[i] SRNSW; [NRS 849} page 30, item 5, Reel No.2760