A Rascally Letter

On the 27th of November 1816, while John Yorke was riding from Port Dalrymple to Hobart Town, he found himself bailed up by Michael Howe and his gang at York Plains.

Ross, looking towards York Plains.

Michael had a letter he wanted given to Lieutenant-Governor Davey, written in gang member Peter Septon’s hand, which in it saw Michael complaining of being left in the dark and asking the Governor whether he was for or against them. A letter which gang member George Jones would come to describe as a ‘rascally letter’, after partaking in too much rum on Christmas Day of that same year. Luckily for John Yorke, as he was headed in the direction of Hobart Town, he would be the one to deliver it for them. James Geary, second in command to Michael, made each of the gang members swear to fulfill the threats contained within the letter, should the need arise, with each man swearing an oath on a prayer book. Michael directed John Yorke to state all that he had witnessed and to tell Magistrate Humphrey and Chief Constable Wade “to take care of themselves, as we are resolved to take their lives, and to prevent them from keeping stock, or growing grain, unless there is something done for us. Tell Humphrey he may reap what grain he likes, but that we can thrash more in an hour, than he can reap in a year.” John Yorke was detained by the bushrangers for 45 minutes and after promising to relay exactly what Michael had stated, he was allowed to continue on his way to Hobart Town.

From The Hobart Town Gazette, December 14 1816.

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