Castle Forbes gang | State Library of New South Wales

The Castle Forbes gang

In 1833 Robert was instrumental in the capture of escaped servants who had been assigned to Major James Mudie at his property, Castle Forbes at Patrick Plains. Anthony Hitchcock, John Poole, James Riley, David Jones, John Perry and the youngest, seventeen year old James Ryan, claimed they had absconded after brutal mistreatment by Mudie and his overseer, John Larnach. In November 1833, they took to the bush after stealing supplies, guns, ammunition and horses. Robert led a group of men in pursuit of the escaped convicts. They located the escapees camping in a steep ravine and successfully captured them. Despite the pleas of their Counsel, Roger Therry who argued they had suffered under appalling treatment from Larnach and Mudie, they were found guilty. Five were executed with David Jones exiled to Norfolk Island for life. This trial proved to be one of the most controversial cases in NSW convict history. Mudie and Lanarch's mistreatment resulted in public outcry at the execution of the men and a government inquiry into conditions for assigned servants at Castle Forbes.

Sydney Gazette, Tuesday 26 November, 1833, p. 2.

Sydney Gazette, Tuesday 26 November, 1833, p. 2.


Local settlers established a fund raising campaign to thank Robert for his initiative in capturing the convicts. An article in the Sydney Gazette celebrates Robert’s vigilance and describes the funds raised by donations from grateful Hunter settlers whose properties were now made safe by the capture of the Castle Forbes gang. It was reported that Robert received 'a piece of plate' from the funds raised.

In volume 4 of the Scott family papers is Robert’s correspondence relating to the Castle Forbes bushrangers, including a 4 page list of names of Hunter settlers who donated funds for Robert’s reward. There is also a letter from the Colonial Secretary, Alexander McLeay commending Robert’s involvement in the capture and promising a reward for his duties.

This pageturner requires a web browser with the Flash plugin and JavaScript enabled.

Get the latest Flash player

p.  1  
zoom in     previous pagenext pageview full screen

Correspondence of Robert Scott, Vol. 4, Manuscript A2263


Selections from Correspondence of Robert Scott, Vol. 4, A2263

[Page 1]

The undersigned Settlers and Inhabitants of the districts of the Hunter are desirous of recording their suite of the important services rendered to the community by the very active exertions of Robert Scott Esq., of Glendon, JP,  in so promptly following up & capturing a strong party of  [too faint to read] marauders lately had committed great atrocities in the neighbourhood; and of conveying to him in the substantial shape of a piece of Plate the thanks of the community for his serving on this as well as on former occasions of a similar nature.
Subscriptions will be received by Wakef-d Simpson Esq. Maitland, & applied hereafter under the direction of a Committee.
Hunter River, 16th November 1833

Mr Mudie          Castle Forbes               paid 5 . .
Mr Larnach       Do                              paid 2.10.
Mr Jones  MC                                      paid into Bank  5 . .
Mr Simpson      Maitland                       paid 1 . .
Mr Winder        Windermere                 paid into Bank  2 10 .
Mr Duguid        Lochinvar                     paid 2 10 .
Mr White          Greenwood                   paid 2 . .
Mr J McDougal  P Plains                        paid 1 . .
Mr A McDougal Do                               paid 1 . .

                                                    Carried over ₤22 10 .


[Page 2]

                                                    B/over 54 16 –
Mr Jno M Blaxland Jnr                                    1 - -
Mr E C Close MC                                 paid to WS 2 - -
Mr Bingle JP                                        paid 2 - -
Mr J Adair                                           paid 1 - -
Mr Matthew      Chapman Wms Rive      paid 1 - -
Mr Carlyle       Cressfield                     paid 1 . .
Mr Little           Riverview                     paid 1 . .
Dr Little           Ecclefechan                  paid 1 . .
Mr George Forbes                                paid 2
Sir Edward Parry JP                             paid 2 - -
Mr H C Sempill JP                                (paid) 2 - -
W P[?] Coleman                                  Paid 1 - -
H Dangar                                                   1 10 –
W Dangar                                                  1 10 –
J P Adair [deleted] Webber JP               paid bank 2 - -
A B Spark JP                                       paid  2 - -
Mr D Kilman                                               1 - -
Mr Bell                                                paid 1 - -
Mr Loder                                                          1 - -
G Wyndham JP                                   (paid) 2 10 –
Dr Radford per L Duguid                      (paid) 5 - -
Dr Bowman                                        paid into Bank 5 - -
Mr John Allman                                   (paid) 1 - -

                                                                   95 6 –

Mr G Townshend JP                              paid 2 - -
Mr Ogilvie JP Merton                             paid 1 - -
(₤3- to WS)
Mr J E Eyre                                          paid into Bank 1 - -
Mr Bettington                                       paid into Bank 1 - -
Mr Gardiner                                         paid into Bank 1 - -
Mr G B                                                paid into Bank [deleted]
                                        Carried forward 101 6 -


[Page 3]

Brought Forward ₤101 6 –
Capt Biddulph                                     paid 1 1 –


[Page 4]

No- 33/808 
Colonial Secretary’s Office
Sydney 13th December 1833

The Commandant of the Mounted Police having submitted to the Governor your letter to him of the 22nd ultimo, reporting the names of Five free persons and eighteen Convicts concerned in the capture of the Seven Patricks Plains Bushrangers.

I have the honor by direction of His Excellency to acquaint that the reward of Seventy Pounds offered on the Notice of the 12th ultimo for the apprehension of these men, and the ordinary reward of Five Pounds for the Conviction of six of them respectively, established by the 5th Section of the notice of 13th April 1832 Gazette No 7, is to be divided in equal proportions among the Twenty three Captors reported by you as above – and that the First Police Magistrate of Sydney has been instructed to pay to you the amount due under such arrangement to the five free persons
Robert Scott Esq JP
Glendon, Hunter River

[Page 5]

in order that it may be distributed by you amongst them. The remaining sum due to the Eighteen Convicts will be paid over to the Principal Superintendent, and by him lodged in the Savings Bank on account of each individual interested.
In making this communication to you I have the honor by the Governors Command to acquaint you that His Exellency appreciates the promptness and effect with which you discharged your duty as a Magistrate on preceeding with a party to search for the Bushrangers who were eventually captured, and that He has had pleasure in being informed that all the persons who accompanied you behaved well.
I have the honor to be, Sir,
Your most Obedient Servant,

Alex McLeay