A Visit to Thomas Seals

On Thursday the 5th of July 1816, Michael Howe, Peter Septon, James Geary, Richard Collyer and George Jones visit the hut of Thomas Seals at Broadmarsh. Finding Seals outside, Michael covers the man with his musket and demands to know who else is inside. Seals raises his arms, telling Michael there is no one inside and that he is the only one residing at the place. Beckoning his hungry gang to follow, Michael enters the hut and asks Seals what provisions the man has and eyes a piece of bread on the shelf. Placing it in his knapsack, he asks Seals if there is any more and is told there isn’t, but that there has plenty of flour in the box. Taking some flour from the box, Michael mixes it with water to make damper, which he shapes into cakes and cooks in the ashes of the fire. After filling their empty bellies with the damper, they turn their attention to the meat casks, taking from them all they can. With their knapsacks filled with provisions, Michael instructs Seals to yard his cattle, as they desire a fill of fresh beef for them and their dogs. At first Seals refuses, but is told it is of little use protesting as they will kill the beast with or without his say so. Once Seals has the cattle yarded, Peter Septon picks out a young bullock and takes aim, but misses. No doubt appalled at Septon’s blunder, especially considering he had been a rifleman in the British army, Michael orders Seals to put a rope around the bullock and tie it to the fence post. Placing the barrel of his musket at the beast’s head, Michael pulls the trigger, killing the bullock instantly. The beast skinned and butchered, the gang place the choice cuts over the fire to roast and give the remainder to their dogs. After this hearty dinner, the gang stay several days with Seals, spending their time, eating and drinking, telling him that if he is a friend to them, they will reward him well, for they are fully determined to be like Turpin to rob from the rich and give to the poor.

Later, on Saturday morning as the gang make preparations to leave, Michael sits down beside Seals and tears out a page of his stock book and writes the following letter to Lieutenant-Governor Davey:

“I have called at Mr Stanfield’s stockyard and have been under the necessity of killing a bullock about three hundred weight, which I hope you will pay for, as we have been off the store a long while, but not in the same manner as you had defrayed the blood hunter’s expenses, for if the blood hunters comes into my territory, I will feed them with force meat balls*.”

Michael tells Seals he is to deliver the letter on pain of death, but after a while changes his mind and requests the letter back, which he then throws into the fire.

* Forcemeat balls are made of a seasoned minced meat, fat and bread mixture and then rolled into balls and cooked.

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