John Gilbert (bushranger)

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John Gilbert
Gilbert's grave near Binalong. It is not near a church.
DiedMay 13, 1865
Cause of deathGunshot wounds

John Gilbert (1842 – 1865) was a famous Australian bushranger.

He was born in Hamilton, Canada. He came to Australia in 1852 when he was 10 years old.[1] His family came to dig gold in Victoria, Australia. When he was 12 years old he got a job working with horses

When he was about 20 years old, Gilbert was living in New South Wales near Forbes. He became a member of a gang which was led by Frank Gardiner.[1] Another member of the gang was Ben Hall. With Gardiner and Hall, Gilbert was involved with the biggest gold robbery in Australia's history: in 1862 the gang robbed a coach carrying gold at Eugowra.[1] After the robbery, Gardiner went to Queensland to hide from the police. John Gilbert went to New Zealand.[2] When he came back in May 1863, he started a new gang with Ben Hall.

With Ben Hall[change | change source]

The Ben Hall gang robbed travelers on the roads, the mail coaches, the gold escorts, hotels, farm houses and even held up whole towns. The police seemed to be unable to stop the gang. At first people thought this was fun, the police being made to look like fools. Gilbert and John O'Meally did the first daylight bank robbery in Australia in July 1863.[3] They rode into the town of Carcoar and tried to take money from the bank. The man working at the bank grabbed his gun and fired it twice. Gilbert and O'Meally ran out of the bank, quickly got on to their horses and rode away.[2]

But as the number of robberies continued, people became scared and wanted the government to do something. In 1864, Gilbert killed a policeman, Sergeant Edmund Parry, during a robbery near Jugiong. The police search for Gilbert became urgent.

At Springfield, near Goulburn, Gilbert tried to rob four young brothers. The boys fired their guns and kept the bushrangers back. Gilbert tried to shoot one of the boys, but his stolen race horse (called "Young Waverly") got in the way. The horse died immediately and Gilbert was trapped under the dead horse. People thought that this was very funny; a dangerous bushranger being made to look like a fool by a group of boys.[4]

In 1865 another another policeman was killed by another member of the gang, John Dunn. Members of the gang were declared outlaws. This meant they could be killed by anyone at anytime. The police killed Ben Hall near Forbes on May 5, 1865. On May 13, 1865 Gilbert and Dunn went to hide at John Kelly's (Dunn's grandfather) house. Kelly told the police at Binalong where the two bushrangers were hiding so he could get the reward money.[5] The police went to the house, but Gilbert and Dunn climbed out a window and ran down to Billabong Creek to escape into the bush. Constable King and Dunn were both shot. Gilbert was shot and killed when he stopped to shoot back at Constable John Bright. After an inquest to record how he died, he was buried at Binalong in the field where the police kept their horses.[1] Gilbert was a bad criminal. He had been in 630 robberies.[6] Dunn escaped but was captured six months later. He was hanged in Sydney in March 1866.[5]

Gilbert in poetry and song[change | change source]

The story of John Gilbert was told in a poem, How Gilbert Died[1] Archived 2009-03-10 at the Wayback Machine, by Australian poet, Banjo Paterson. Paterson had lived in Binalong when he was a young boy.

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Penzig, Edgar (1972). "Gilbert, John (Johnny) (1842–1865)". Gilbert, John (1842 - 1865). Australian Dictionary of Biography Online Edition. Melbourne University Press. Retrieved 26 August 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Wannan, Bill (1963). Tell 'em I died game: The Stark Story of Australian Bushranging. Melbourne: Lansdowne Press.
  3. "Walkabout - Carcoar". Fairfax Digital. Retrieved 2008-12-22.
  4. Wilson, Craig (July 2000). "Ben Hall - Bushranger Part 6". Goldnet Australia. Retrieved December 17, 2008.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Wilson, Craig (August 2000). "Ben Hall - Bushranger Part 7". Goldnet Australia Online Magazine. Goldnet Australia. Retrieved December 19, 2008.
  6. "Johnny Gilbert". Aussie Traveller. Retrieved 2008-08-13.