Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Hunter Valley Bushrangers

The Jew Boy Gang

Members of the Jewboy Gang included :

Edward Davis - Arrived on the Camden in 1833
Robert Chitty - Arrived on the Sophia in 1829
James Everett - Arrived on the Mangles in 1833
John Shea - Arrived on the Calcutta in 1837
John Marshall - Arrived on the Clyde in 1832
Richard Glanville - Arrived on the Lord Lyndoch in 1838

Other bushrangers of the era also sometimes associated with them including Francis Knight John Wilson, George Haines and Bartholomew McCann.

They began their robberies in November 1840 and were said to have roamed in areas including Maitland, Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Wollombi, Dungog, Muswellbrook and Scone. They stole horses when they needed them and had several brushes with the law before they were finally captured at Doughboy Hollow by a volunteer party led by Edward Denny Day. They were hanged on 16 March 1841.

Although they were executed, their daring and notoriety lived on down through the years and various versions of their activity have been published over the years........

1). Smith's Weekly published a series of romanticised articles which were re-printed in the Dungog Chronicle in the 1920's and described the hold-up of Ellar McKellar McKinley near Dungog in 1840.

2). The death of Edward Warland in 1897 encouraged reminiscences of the gang's deeds as Warland was the last remaining person who had taken part in the capture of the gang fifty years previously.

3). The death of Thomas French in 1919 sparked memories of the death of John Graham

4). Mary Ann Freeman's recollections about the gang's visit to Norah Head

Mounted Police

A version of their activities was printed in the Alexander and Yea Standard on 4 August 1905 from an Historical Sketch by Charles White -

'The members of the gang were well mounted and well-armed with double barrelled guns and pistols, and supplied with pack horses to carry 'swag'. Conscious of their strength and their ability to get away quickly from any pursuers with whom a fight was not desirable, they pursued their nefarious occupation with the utmost boldness and openness.
Mounted Police in the Hunter Valley

For a long time they eluded the vigilance of the local mounted police, who certainly were not wanting in energy when fairly 'on the hunt'. When advised that the troopers were out, they confined themselves to the deep bush ravines, where dense forests and beetling rocks afforded shelter and concealment. Here they would stay until the police grew weary, when they would again sally forth.

The gang committed so many depredations that the Government began to realise that some special effort was needed to capture them. Hence they despatched a strong body of mounted police, under the command of a subaltern from Sydney to the Brisbane Water district, with orders to take the Jew-boy and his companions either alive or dead........

Lake Macquarie

The Mounted Police were ineffective against the audacious bushrangers as the following correspondence to the Sydney Monitor in January 1841 explains -

To the Editor of the Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser. Sirs-
Considering it a duty due to the public I beg leave to request that you will permit me through the medium of your paper, to enquire how it was that the party of mounted police, headed by Sergeant Lee who were in pursuit of the notorious bushrangers ' Marshall', Ruggy, 'Shay', Davis and 'Chitty' on or about the 14th December last, allowed them to escape their notice when they were so close that they captured three of their horses. This occurred at Reid's Mistake Heads. The police party had a native guide- and they must have known that the bushrangers were not very far away when the horses loaded and saddled were found grazing. The bushrangers said that the police were so close upon them that they only evaded them by swimming across the Lake Macquarie. Had the police quietly laid in ambush they would in all probability have detected the marauders mounting horses-all throughout, I must confess that there appears to have been very little military skill or common forethought shown by the police party.
I remain
Sir your obedient servant.

Muswellbrook and Scone

Charles White continues -

The force from Sydney could not effect a capture although they pressed the gang closely and forced them to make back to the Hunter River district. On the day of their arrival they looted a store at Muswellbrook, and they went on to Scone putting up at Wilkie's Inn and ordering 'dinner for seven and be sharp about it'. After dinner they ransacked the one local store, adorning themselves with the gayest ribbons they could find before leaving the place. Up to this time they had not shed blood, as Davis insisted that his companions should preserve clean hands in this respect, and only resort to violence for the preservation of their own lives and liberty. But now they added murder to their other crimes, and closed the door against hope of escape from death themselves. As they were leaving the store, one of the employees, a recent arrival from England, with more courage than prudence seized a pistol and fired at one of them. The shot did not take effect, and the rash man threw his pistol down and rushed towards the police station to give the alarm. His race was a short one Ruggy leapt upon his horse and pursued him, shooting him through the back as he ran, and the young fellow fell dead in his tracks. This tragedy enacted, Davis and his six companions fled precipitately for they knew the murder would raise the country against them.

Pages River

They made for the densely wooded Liverpool Range, stopping for a while on the way at Atkinson's Inn, on the Page River, where they bailed up all the inmates and indulged in a hearty meal of beef and beer. They declined the stronger drink that was offered them by the landlord, declaring that rum could only be taken with safety when they were in camp. Before resuming their flight they rounded up all the good horses and made an exchange, leaving their weary steeds in place of the fresher animals; then they headed for Doughboy Hollow, one of their old bush rendezvous, where they calculated on passing the night safely.

The Pursuit Party

But Nemesis was already following close upon their heels. A small party (Edward White, William Shinkwin, chief constable of Muswellbrook, constable Nolan, Walker, Peter Dawe, Evans and Kelly all ticket of leave holders; and an assigned servant named John Donohue (or*Doran). Afterwards Richard Dangar and one of his assigned servants; Dr. John Gill and Mr. Warren joined the pursuit party. (three or four civilians and a couple of Border Police) headed by Edward Denny Day, Police Magistrate, who had formerly served as lieutenant in the 17th Regiment, were soon in full chase.

Their first place of call was Scone; there the sight of the body of the murdered man inspired them with fresh resolution and they pushed on with our, easily following the freshly made tracks. Several residents joined in the chase, and when the pursuers reached Atkinson's Inn they formed quite a large party


The sun was just sinking when, never having lost the track of the bushrangers in a ride of over fifty miles, Mr. Day and his party came in sight of Doughboy Hollow.

The spot was a favourite campaign ground for teams, and a cursory glance was sufficient to show the pursuers that the men they wanted had joined some teamsters at their evening meal. The bushrangers were seated round a log fire, a couple of them being engaged in casting bullets for future use, while their horses were tethered some distance away. Quietly dismounting Mr. Day and several of his men made a rush to seize the men before they could recover from their surprise; but Day incautiously raised a cheer as he ran, and at once the bushrangers seized their guns and rushed to over behind the nearest trees. A brisk fusillade commenced.

The Jew fired twice at Day, and Ruggy at one of his companions, but fright had made their hands unsteady, and the bullets did not take effect. Day returned the fire and wounded Davis in the shoulder; then he rushed at him, wishing to take him alive, and after a short struggle succeeded in overpowering him. Ruggy was also seized when he had exhausted his fire, and four others of the gang threw down their arms and surrendered. The seventh man escaped, but was subsequently captured.

Altogether about 20 shots were fired, but no one on either side was killed. Shortly after their capture the Jew boy and his mates were removed in irons to Sydney, where they were tried, convicted and condemned. Up to the last moment Davis hugged the belief that his life would be spared, on account of his having prevented the shedding of blood whenever he was able to control his followers. Strong efforts were made by powerful friends of his own persuasion to save him but they were unavailing; and together the leader and his followers expiated their crimes on the gallows in Sydney in February 1841

Notes and Links

1. Monument to John Graham in Scone - Monument Australia

2. Pilcher's Cave - The Forgotten Jew Boy Gang - Where is Their Booty Hidden?....Every old resident of the Dungog district knows the local tradition that the treasure of the bushrangers still lies hidden somewhere about Pilcher's Mountain. Traditions do not create themselves spontaneously. Always they are based on a solid sub-stratum of fact, though time and circumstance may alter, distort or modify them. Nevertheless as a boy thirty years ago I listened to old pioneers tell the tale of the hidden hoard in the forbidding mountain gulf. And often, with boyhood companions we peered into the hidden places that are there......Read more about the lost treasure of the Jew boy Gang.....Windsor & Richmond Gazette 17 April 1925

3. Crawford Logan Brown's estate Cairnsmore was robbed by the Jew Boy Gang in 1839. Some of the stolen goods were found hidden under a rock in a cave when bushranger Thomas Buckingham, an associate of the gang was apprehended. Read more about the robbery and that of Ellar Mackellar Mackinley in Grim Reward of Treachery printed in the Dungog Chronicle 8 August 1924

4. Each man kills the thing he loves - Fate's frolic with a bushranger - Thomas Buckingham Dungog Chronicle 27 June 1924 -

5. Death of an old identity Edward Warland-

The other day there died in the Scone Hospital, at the ripe age of 85 years, a man with a history, as far as his past is concerned. The name Warland at once strikes one as being familiar, for who does not know Warland Range? The deceased, Edward Warland, first came to Turanville in 1838, fifty-eight years ago and was a brother of the late W. H. Warland, who came to the colony a few years earlier. The latter was the owner of Harben Vale. Blandford (now owned by Mr. F. R. White), in those early days, and the well-known Warland's Range was named after him Warland's Range, however, presented a very different spectacle then from what it does now, for scarcely had a tree been felled, and there were no roads - all in fact was a wilderness.

The deceased lived at Turanville in 1840, when the Jewboy gang of bushrangers, which had only just taken to the bush, only to be ran to earth almost immediately, stuck up Turanville. A young man named John Graham, a storekeeper to the late Mr. Thomas Dangar, was in the store, which was situated just at the turn to the Gundy-road, when the gang simultaneously stunk up the store and the old hotel (which still remains) opposite. Graham apparently was determined the rangers should not have things all their own way. With an old single barrel pistol he lot go at one of them and the bullet just grazed the fellow's lip. Graham then made off in the direction of the police quarters, and was followed by the gang and shot dead near Mr. Hopper's Hotel, on a spot until lately occupied by Mr. Henwood's blacksmith's shop.

This was on the 21st December, 1840. There are still living Mrs. Sutton, who, then a young woman, heard the shots fired; and Mr. Miller, who, while proceeding to work, picked up Graham's revolver a few minutes after he had been shot. At Turanville, the gang broke into the house at 3 o'clock in the morning, and smashed open drawers, boxes, and the rest with axes. Warland was among the captured, and a good gun which he had brought out from England they took on to the verandah and smashed. One of the men also had a decided preference for a nice new straw hat of Warland's, and left an old one. When subsequently Warland took part in the capture of the gang, he found the man wearing his hat, and remarked to him, ' I will take my good hat, and leave my old one.'

They made the cook prepare breakfast for them, which they had, and having then made a man run up their horses from the paddock, and have the gate unhung, they rode into Scone with their horses decorated with ribbons, when they stuck up the store and hotel, and shot Graham. Two or three of the gang had previously been assigned servants at Turanville, and therefore knew the country well.

One of them, named Chitty got up the bell-pole with an axe, with the intention of smashing the Bell, remarking, '' You have called me out of bed many a time, but I'll settle you now.' With that he made a desperate hit at the bell, when the axe came off the handle, and the man himself nearly came to the ground. He did not attempt it again. The old bell now calls the worshippers together at the Anglican Church, Aberdeen, having been presented to the church by the late Mr. William Danger of Turanville, prior to his departure for England in 1857.

Speedy retribution followed the gang for their misdoings. They were followed up by a party of volunteers, captained by the late Denny Day, then Police Magistrate at West Maitland, who had heard the gang were out, but was not aware that they had committed any depredations. There were about 20 in all in the party, among them being Edward Warland, Turanville; Robert Evans, blacksmith. Scone; R C. Danger, Muswellbrook; Dr. Gill, Bickham, Blandford; and Edward White, uncle to the late Mr. James White and brothers; John Sibley, Muswellbrook: and J. Feely, a groom, of Turanville. The rangers were followed to the Liverpool Range, four or five miles the other side of Murrurundi. They were preparing for a meal at the time they were come upon late in the evening, making doughboys, hence the name given to that place, "Doughboy Hollow." Several shots were exchanged. It is said that Captain Day, standing in the open, hit one of the men every time he bobbed from behind a tree to fire at him, but he never got hit himself in return.

The volunteers then rushed on and closed with the gang, who thereupon surrendered. There were eight men in the gang, and one a lame man, who had joined them only a couple of day previously escaped but was captured some time afterwards. They were taken to Maitland, tried, and found guilty, and seven were executed on the 16th March, 1841 56 years ago. The late Mr. Warland was the only surviving member of the party who took part in that memorable chase and capture more than half a century ago, the rest, for the most part, having long since passed away. He was for some time overseer at Turanville, and has since worked on and off for Mr. Cook and the Danger family. Latterly, as he became old and feeble, he has been cared for by the warm-hearted squire of Turanville. The remains were interred in the upper portion of the cemetery. Newcastle Morning Herald 22 March 1897

6. Death of an old identity. - Mary Ann Freeman....

I have, to record (writes our correspondent at Swansea, Lake Macquarie) the death of the oldest resident in this district, viz., Mrs. Mary Ann Freeman, at the ripe age of 86. The old lady retained all her faculties to the last. She was one of those busy, wiry little women, who could never remain a moment in idleness, but be continually employed in making and mending for her grand and great-grandchildren.

Mrs. Freeman came to the colony sixty-five years ago. Soon after arrival she married James Freeman, had many ups and downs in those early days, and at last herself and husband settled down at a place then known as 'Cabbage Tree'(now the residence of Mr. E. J. Hargraves, son of E. H. Hargraves, the first gold discoverer in Australia).

Mr. and Mrs. Freeman remained at Norahville,' where they kept a dairy farm for over twenty years, rearing a family of six daughters and one son. The late Mr. John Taaffe, of Swansea (who died six years this month), better known all over the district as 'Jack the Native,' married the eldest; and Mr. Thomas Boyd, at present pilot at Lake Macquarie Heads, the second. There are alive forty-two grandchildren and forty great - grandchildren.

During the old people's residence at Cabbage Tree they had several visits from bushrangers. On one occasion the Marshall gang, including the notorious 'Jew Boy,' paid them a visit. Mr. Freeman was from home when they arrived. Marshall was leader of this gang, and finding only Mrs. Freeman at home, the following conversation occurred :-

' Have you any corn for my horses ?'
Mrs. Freeman: ' No, sir.'
Marshall: 'This is the first time I have known Cabbage Tree to be without corn.'
Mrs. Freeman : 'We have a good paddock, sir.'
Marshall: 'That will do. Do you know who I am?'
Mrs. Freeman:'No, sir.'
Marshall: 'Well, I am Marshall, the bushranger. Do not be alarmed ; we only want tea and shelter for the night. But, beware of betraying us.'

It was customary for one of the gang to keep watch whilst the others slept, and this night it happened to be the 'Jew Boy's' watch, who, when he thought all hands were asleep, made insulting overtures to Mrs. Freeman (who was sitting up, waiting her husband's return). These she strenuously resisted. Marshall, who happened to be awake in the next room, heard all, rushed out, covered the Jew Boy with his revolver, and would have shot him dead, only for the timely intervention of Mr. Freeman, who arrived on the scene in the nick of time for the Jew Boy.

Marshall was depicted by the old lady as a gentlemanly fellow, never on any occasion allowing any of his gang to molest females or use violence unnecessarily. For the last ten years the old lady has resided with her eldest daughter, Mrs. E. Taafe, at Swansea, where she has had every care and attention which loving hands could bestow in her declining years. The remains were buried to-day, in the Church of England burying. ground, Belmont Cemetery, the last rites of the Church of England (of which the old lady was a member) having been performed by the Rev. G..M. Brown, incumbent of Belmont parish. There was a large attendance of relatives and friends, including grand and great. grand. children. And thus another connecting link of has gone. - Newcastle Morning Herald 29 July 1891

7. Relics of Bushranging Days - discovery of bullets in Wallarobba cave - Dungog Chronicle 25 January 1895