Gentlemen Bushrangers

While some writers may wish to state otherwise, Michael and his gang were known to act gentlemanly and respectfully around the women and men whose company they found themselves in. As James Calder himself states, “none of these pillaging’s were attended with personal violence of any kind…Howe disliked unnecessary violence, and though he sometimes threatened it, using hard words and black looks, he never would permit it except in self-defence, or when, according to his style of thinking, he believed his victims deserved it.” One such example is seen at Governor Davey’s residence at Coal River, near Richmond, which Michael and his gang robbed on the evening of the 8th of September 1816. Not wishing to alarm the wife of Mr Peachey the overseer, Michael instructed the man to wake up his wife and allow her to dress before he entered. While also at the residence, Peter Septon became aware that a servant was unwell and mixed the man up a drink of wine and milk, which he personally took to him. Furthermore, on the 24th of April 1815 while at the house of Mr Triffitt, James Whitehead was asked by the man’s wife if he would give her back the dress material that had been taken. Tipping his hat apologetically, he gave the woman her fabric without delay. Another example of gentlemanly behaviour is seen on the 8th of February 1817, while Peter Septon, George Jones, John Brown and their two aboriginal guides, Mary Cockerill and the unnamed aboriginal woman, were travelling close to Launceston. During their journey, their paths crossed with a gentleman who was in the company of two women and fearful their whereabouts would reach the ears of soldiers, the gang took them to a farm house owned by James Cox. Once here, it was stated within The Hobart Town Gazette that the “outlaws behaved in the most becoming manner, having refused to take any refreshment till the ladies had done; and even led their horses the next day over the difficult part of the New River.”

From Historical Records of Australia, volume 2, series 3, and ‘The Hobart Town Gazette’, 22 February 1817.

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