The Robbery of Stocker’s Cart at Bagdad

In November 1816, Michael and his gang robbed Mr. Stocker’s fully laden cart at Bagdad and according to the Hobart Town Gazette carried off “2 casks of rum, one containing 11 and the other 10 gallons, 2 gallons of gin, 30 pairs of shoes, fancy ribbons to the value of £50, 2 bags of sugar, containing about 125lbs each, 1 chest of green tea, pepper to the amount of £30” and other items, with “the whole estimated at upwards of £300.”

James Calder states that “having learned there was a valuable lot of merchandise in transit between Hobart Town and Launceston, and that it would pass through Bagdad on a particular day, Michael Howe took post amongst the woods near to Haye’s residence, resolved to intercept it. He listened anxiously for the sound of wheels all day on the 17th of November, but that day closed without it arriving, for through some mishap, the proprietor of the goods was delayed on the road for twenty-four hours. But towards nightfall on the 18th, the rumbling of cartwheels was heard and Howe summoned his men to haste to the road to Mr. Stocker’s cart, which drove up with their precious freight to Mr. Hayes’ house, where they were to remain for the night. Howe demanded explanations as to the delay, which not quite satisfying him, gave Mr. Stocker such a rating as the mercantile man never heard in his life before, for Howe could not stop long anywhere just now, and the loss of a day might be fatal to him. The bushrangers had plenty of conversation with the travellers, and surprised them by the accuracy of their information regarding the movements of the Government, particularly in matters relating to themselves, and generally also of what was going on in Hobart Town and then finished this pleasant parley by taking old Stocker’s watch from him. They are also charged on this occasion with wanton destruction of property, with one of them sending a bullet into a keg of rum. But it is more probable that Howe thought it best to remove it out of his companions way. For though Sorell says they were very temperate men, still most who were harassed as they were, and ever on the march, might possibly have liked to solace themselves with a nip or two of it, which it was on all accounts most prudent to prevent.”

From, ‘Early Troubles of the Colonists’, written by James Calder.

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