Michael Howe and the Tallow Chandler’s Shop

In 1816, Michael Howe and his gang rounded up a number of horned cattle belonging to Stynes and Troy and took them to Murderer’s Plains, near Oatlands. The farmers had once been loyal to the gang and had shared in their plunder, but their loyalty had since wavered. Requiring more items to exchange for provisions and ammunition, and wishing to teach the two men a lesson in loyalty, Michael decided to set up a “Tallow Chandler’s Shop”, as he cheekily called it. Three men were forced to carry out the tallow making operation for the gang, including sympathiser William Williams, with it taking the men three days to render the beef fat.

In January 1817, the Sydney Gazette had the following to say about the activities at the “Tallow Chandler’s Shop”: ‘By the information of a person upon oath, it appears that they had about the same period forced away two government servants from their habitation to a distant place, on which the crimes of these wretches have stamped the appellation of Murderers’ Plains (by themselves facetiously called the tallow chandler’s shop), where they kept them to work three days in rendering down beef fat. How they could afterwards appropriate so great a quantity of rendered fat and suet is truly a question worthy to be demanded, for it is far more likely it should be taken off their hands by persons in or near the settlements, who are leagued with them in the way of bartering one commodity for another, than that the bushrangers should either keep it for their own use, or bestow so much trouble on the preparation of an article that would soon spoil upon their hands.’

Photo of tallow pan is from Kate’s Cottage in Glenrowan.

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