Bushrangers at large, 1825

This letter was sent by James Mudie of Castle Forbes, Patrick’s Plains to bring to the Governor’s attention the threat of bushrangers in the surrounding area. He includes a first hand account of bushrangers given by Martin Dealy, Overseer at Mr Leslie Duguid’s property.

Both in James Mudie’s letter and the account of Martin Dealy, the bushrangers appear to treat assigned convicts and working men well in that they share a meal with them, threats rather than violence appears to control the situation and there appears to be an underlying current of complicity. Mr Duguid’s possessions and provisions are stolen but his men do not offer any resistance.
Leslie Duguid arrived free in the Colony in 1822 and was granted 2,000 acres of land. Other grants were to follow. In Newcastle he took up a town allotment being one of the first land holders to do so. He returned briefly to England and in 1825 came back to New South Wales where he was employed by the Bank of Australia. While he did not live permanently on his property, he was a regular visitor and it would seem likely that the bushrangers knew of his position and wealth.
In 1834 he became the Managing Director of the Commercial Banking Company. In 1847, when the half yearly profits were lost, Duguid was suspended and insolvency proceedings undertaken. His Cooks River Estate included Bay View House at Tempe which would later be used as a hospital.

Source: NRS 897 Colonial Secretary: Main series of letters received, 1788-1826 [4/1787 pp.142-3], Reel 6064


Castle Forbes Sept 21st 25
I beg you will be pleased to make
known to His Excellency the Governor, that
the farm of my friend Mr Duguid was
plundered last night by the Bushrangers
who have been at large for some time in this
part of the country and I have no hesitation
in stating (from the information I have
received) they have now formed such a chain
of connexions, that we may expect this
part of the Colony in a state of rebellion
Independent of the lives of myself & family
I have now a considerable stake in the
Colony His Excellency will therefore I am
sure excuse the liberty I have taken in
thus addressing him – one plan I am
informed they intend to take (with all those
obnoxious to them) is to set fire to the wheat
as soon as it becomes ripe, and I have not
a doubt in my own mind but they will
do so – The whole of the Prisoners in this
quarter are in one way, or other, in communication
with them, I have therefore inclosed the
statement of Mr Duguids overseer, that
His Excellency may see the manner of
their proceeding & the information they
obtain and altho there were eight men on
Mr Duguids farm they made no attempt
to take them. I have been now settled
on this farm three years, and as I have
an opportunity of knowing something
of the characters in this neighbourhood
I beg leave to point out for His Excellency’s
consideration that the whole of the small
settlers about Wallis and Pattersons plains
were emancipated from Newcastle and
of them known to be the worst characters in
New South Wales. Nothing therefore but
a strong police can possibly keep this part
of the Colony in order. At present we
have only one Magistrate and one Constable
within twenty five miles of this, so that
since the present alarm has existed I
have been under arms for the night, and
this being known to the Bushrangers I
have, as yet, escaped being plundered, but
if we remain unprotected I cannot expect
this will long be the case. I have
again to apologize for addressing His
Excellency on this subject – and I
have the Honor to remain
Your very obedt sernt
J Mudie
Major Goulburn
Colonial Secty
etc etc
Declaration of Martin Dealy a Free Man Acting Overseer
for Lesley Dogood [sic] Esqr and states as follows Viz
On Wednesday evening 21st of the present month
September about an hour before sundown when
working outside of his Masters Hutt with another
man (Free) three armed men came up and
inquired if they heard anything of the Bushrangers
he answered No. Immediately after this they rushed
into the House ceasing [seizing] hold of what Firearms
as there Viz. Blunderbuss and musquet, then ordered
him and the man Frost that was at work with
him into the Hutt and ordered him to open a
chest which on being done they Plundered of
different articles of clothing belonging to his
Master and regrated [regretted] that he was absent or they
would have stripped him by exchanging clothes with him
and would pay him another visit when Mr Dogood [sic]
returned they enquired for a pair of Pocket Pistols
belonging to his Master and searching a small Box
of his own out of which they took a watch belonging
to his Master they also enquired for a small Land
compass at the same time taking one out of their
Pocket which they said they would sell if it was
wanted they also enquired after a Silver thumble [thimble]
which has Master has, they made the men cook
Provisions for them and eat with them regrated [regretted]
there was no Spirits to give them a good treat
they then asked the men what sort of an Overseer
they had that they were told he had put one
man on short allowance of Flour if that was
the case they would Punish him on their return
at the same time remarking that they knew
every thing that transpired in the Neighbourhood
and enquired after Men belonging to Different Farms
in the Neighhood who they said had told the
Magistrates of their Movements and if they came
across those men they would severly Punish them
They particularly mentioned Mr Thorps Farm
at the Black Creek and Mr Mudies at Patricks
Plains, two which they intended to Visite
They left the Farm about Twelve O’clock at
night taking with them about Two hundred
weight of Flour and a hundred weight of Pork
Twelve Pounds of Tea Forty Pounds of Sugar
Eleven Pounds of Tobacco a Blunderbuss Powder horn
and a quantity of powder and shot a watch
a quantity of wearing apparel belonging
to his Master, they said there was more men
at a short distance from the Hutt which would
assist them in Carrying away the Provisions
Martin Dealy

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