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William Clark/e

The following history on William Clark/e was kindly provided by Roma Waldron, descendant of William's son Samuel Clark/e, who married Bridget Timmins.

William Clark b. c:1770, Lincolnshire, England, m. 1.Sep.1810, in Sydney, Ann Maria Singleton, b. 25.Oct.1793, Sydney, (daughter of William Singleton and Hannah Parkinson) d. 31.Dec.1862, buried Wollombi.   William died 12.Jun.1848, Windsor, buried: St. Matthews, Windsor.   

 


The William Clark/e Story

On a winter's night in February 1805 an upstairs room at a lodging in Rotton Row, Old Street, near Hatton Garden, London, sitting beside a fireplace there sat a sturdy native of Lincolnshire one William Clark (then Clarke) 35 years old  5' 9 1/2"  tall with dark or black hair & hazel eyes. Before William, a hawker of earthern ware, stood a constable & an aggrieved householder, fresh from an examination downstairs of certain pieces of earthernware & glassware. Escorted by a constable & aggrieved householder, William Clark left his fireplace & appeared at the office of a Hatton Garden magistrate, where he heard the charge: that he, William Clark, had knowingly received a quantity of earthernware & glassware, feloniously stolen from the aggrieved householder (valued at the trial at the Old Bailey) at 2 pounds 14 shillings & 6 pence.

William Clark arrived at Sydney on 12.7.1806 in the ship "Fortune (1)" . At Windsor in 1810, long before he had completed his servitude, William then 40 married Ann Maria aged 17 the daughter of William Singleton. On the Hawksbury they raised a family of 6, including sons who became founders of their own large branches of the Clark family, & daughters who became wives of founders of other large families in the Hunter Valley, North Western NSW & elseware.

While raising this family of 6, William worked as a labourer and farmed the 100 acre portion he acquired on the north bank of Freeman's Reach near Wilburforce. He also rented a piece of land from G.T Palmer, brother of the original occupier of Richmond Vale on Wallis Creek, & son of the former Commissary General of NSW, John (Little Jack) Palmer. To enable Governor Macquarie & party to undertake the journey across the Blue Mountains, the convict, William Clark, supplied maize & other stores.

In 1815 William received a conditional pardon: he received his certificate of freedom in 1823. In 1825 William found himself deserted by Ann Maria, who absconded with the children. Reunited in 1827, they moved to Patricks Plains where Ann Maria's brother Benjamin, had established himself at the site of the town which later bore his name Singleton.

In 1828 at Patricks Plains Rosanna ( who married John Radnidge of Maison Dieu) the 7th child was born. Between 1828 & 1844, members of the family lived at various places: Maison Deu, de Quirosville, Warkworth, & Bulga  Some of the men were wheelwrights.

From 1844 3 of William's married sons, each caught up in a movement of interrelated members of the Clark, McMullen, & Bellamy families, settled at Murray's Run on the south arm of Wollombi Brook. William Clark, the old hawker of earthernware, now enfeebled, went to a benovolent hospital in Sydney, where he died in 1848. From Murray's Run the 3rd of these sons, John Clark, moved with his wife Rebecca (formerly McMullen) to Millfield. Here he worked as a wheelwright & acquired several portions of land. On one of these portions, about 1/2 a mile west of the site of the legendary flaying by John mcDougall of a member of No 7 iron gang, he erected a vertical slab & shingle cottage, to which in later years a son added an annexe. Here, John Clark completed the raising of his own great branch of the Clark family.

Muscical & warmhearted as well as pious (like most Greater Cessnock families of convict origin) the Clarks made a social centre of the homstead near Cedar creek. On festive & informal occasions alike, the Clarks, the Lumbys, the Parrys, the Crafts & the Mortons, sawed away at their bush fiddles (later they bought & learned to play shop fiddles) & dancing went on until dawn. Members of the family made up their own songs & poems (including a piece about Peter Clark, their heroic cousin, grappling in 1863 on Warlands Range, even in his death throes, with the bushranger Wilson). They sang their songs & recited their poems at a more expansive & cheerful fireplace by far than that of their grandfather, William Clark, sitting in February 1805 in an upstairs room at his lodging in Rotton Row, Old Street, near Hatton Garden, London.

from the book Wines, Mines & People    

  

TRIAL OF WILLIAM CLARK

24th April 1805  Old Bailey - The Gaol Delivery for the County of Middlesex 4th Session

Charles Sumpter & William Clarke were indicted, the former for feloniously stealing, on 28th of February, a set of glass cruets in a mahogany frame, value 8/-, a water pot value 1/-, a pair of salts value 3/-, 3 glass vinegar-cruets value 4/-,  2 glass mustard-pots value 2/3,  2 glass cruets value 2/3   a Japan bottle stand value 1/6,  a pot & top value 2/6,  a pan value 2/6,  38 earthern dishes value 8/-,  an earthern   jug  value 4d, 3 milk basons value 8d,  38 dishes value 10/-,  and 2 pint mugs value 4d, the property of John Few & the latter for receiving the same goods, knowing them to have been feloniously  stolen.

ROBERT CRIB sworn:   I live at No 228 Holborn, I am a carver & gilder.
On the 26th of February about 10 o'clock in the morning, I was at my door,  & saw the prisoner Clark at the corner of Hand-Court, directly opposite my door. In consequence of information, I suspected he was waiting for the prisoner, Sumpter. I then went out, and walked as far as the George & Blue Boar, which is opposite to Mr. Fews, I had not been there more than 2 minutes before I saw the prisoner, Sumpter come out of Mr. Few's with a basket full of earthernware. I followed him till he came to the corner of Hand-Court & saw him give it to the prisoner Clark. They set it down on the ground, & one said to the other, No one will meddle with it. I then went up close to it & they both went into the Gin Shop together., the corner house, they afterwards came out & went up Hand-Court together, they then separated, Sumpter went towards Red Lion Street, & Clarke went on towards Gray's Inn, with the basket on his arm. I followed him to Clerkenwell & not findindg a constable  at the Sessions house, I went back & saw no more of him nor the basket till I saw the basket at the office, which I believe to be the same. I acquainted Mr. Few when I came back & in consequence of that information  he taxed Sumpter with it in my presence & then he confessed to have given  this to Clarke.

JOHN FEW  Sworn:  In consequence of Mr. Cribb's information, and my believing Sumpter to be a very honest man indeed, I could hardly credit what he had informed me of. I charged him with it. I went down with Sumpter to the Hatton Garden office & the magistrate sent Hancock, the officer,  with me to the prisoner Clarke's lodgings, in company with Sumpter. I there saw an immense quantity of earthernware, & I was pretty certain they were my property. These are them (produces the property). Amongst them there were 2 baking dishes with the shape of an hour glass at the bottom. On the 28th we charged the prisoner with it & we searched the prisoner Clarke's lodgings on the same day. I only selected a few of the articles in the indictment. I believe them all to be mine.

Crossed examined by Mr. Watson: QUESTION: Can you swear, independent of any circumstance whatever, that this dish in my hand is yours. You know other people in the trade have dishes so marked ?. ANSWER: They may have. COURT  Question (to the prosecutor) What trade did Clarke carry on ?. ANSWER: He is a hawker in earthernware.

JAMES HANCOCK Sworn: I am an officer of Hatton Garden. On the 28th of February I went along with Mr. Few in the evening to the prisoner Clarke's lodgings, Rotton Row, Old Street. I went into the house & Mr. Few owned the property. I told Mr. few to identify as many as belonged to him & I would take them. I went upstairs & found Clarke sitting by the fireside. I told him he must go with me. I asked the prisoner Sumpter if that was the man who bought them off him. He said he was.  The prisoners did not say anything in their defence. Sumpter called 4 witnesses & Clarke 3, who gave them a good character. Sumpter   GUILTY  aged 35. confined 6 months in the house of Correction & fined 1/-. Clarke  GUILTY  aged  35 Transported for 7 years 2nd Middlesex Jury, before Mr. Recorder.  

                                 

ISSUE OF WILLIAM CLARK

  I. Alice Clark b. 26.Oct.1810, Freemans Reach, m. (1) 20.Feb.1826, in Wilberforce, Edwin Baldwin, b. 29.Jun.1805, Windsor, (son of Henry Baldwin and Elizabeth Raynor) d. 18.Nov.1868, buried Gunnedah, m. (2) John Harborne, b. 1811, Birmingham England, (son of William Harborne and Sarah Taylor) d. 9.Apr.1882, Bulga.  Alice died 20.Apr.1863, Cockfighters Creek, buried Warkworth. 
Edwin: had been sent to Norfolk Island for 7 years around the time of his daughter Alice's birth, for cattle rustling. While he was away his wife  had 2 children George, whose father was George Dight and William father unknown. Edwin gave these children his name, but later disowned them and left Alice then remarried. Another child Elizabeth was born in 1848 after he came back from Norfolk Island. John: After Alice died, he married Elizabeth Sleath in 1865 & had 7 children.

II. William Clark b. 21.Aug.1811, Windsor, m. 16.Jan.1832, in Windsor, Catherine McAlpine, b. 09.May.1814, Richmond, (daughter of Peter McAlpin and Elizabeth Elton) d. 28.Jul.1893, Ben Bullen.  William died 21.Sep.1879, Ben Bullen.

  The Gallant Peter Clark by John Meredith

One of the stories as recalled by Elizabeth Collins in 1914 (it was her sister Susannah who was engaged to Peter & her 2 brothers James & Ashton who were with Peter that fateful day on Warlands Range).

 " In '61 & '62 there was another awful drought. Our stock died wholesale. Our boys had 3 very fine teams at that time. They lost a lot of stock. At break of drought in Jan '63 the boys sold the teams. They had started droving cattle for the Sydney Markets. They bought a lot of horses & use to go as far out as the Balonne. Bought 2 lots at a time, usually for William Baldwin of Gwee & Doondi, I think was the names of the stations. It was a very long trip over 400 miles into Queensland. Mack had many years work from George Loder of Abbey Green.

  On the 2nd of April '63, Mack was married to Susanna McAlpin by Rev. W.W. Dove of Jerrys Plains. There was a great wedding feast, a large gathering of friends came from far & near, many from Richmond. A large tent was erected & tables ran the full length. The wedding was kept up for about 2 or 3 days, danced all night. Plenty of young ladies who played the piano, so all went "merry as a wedding bell". Mack had rented Jesse's farm & went to live there.

  After the wedding our boys James & Ash in company with Peter Clark started up country for Queensland. At This time Susanna was engaged to Peter Clark. he was the 3rd son of William Clark & a nephew of Mr. Mack. he was an exceptionally fine man, gentle & affectionate in disposition, also a brave & fearless man in the defence of right & justice, and a true and sincere friend. He & Susanna were to be married on his return from Queensland.

  At that time the bushranging business was just well started & doing pretty active business. The gangs that were out then very frequently held up the mails & coaches & in fact no one travelling the roads out north & north west and in the south west also could feel at all safe from the highwaymen, and human life seemed of little value to them.

  The break up of long drought had brought us a glorious autumn. The skeletons of the dead stock were quite obliterated from our view by the long rank grasses & the remaining animals left alive looked like new creatures, so strong and fat they had grown. All nature just seemed to be full of joy & rejoicing once more.

  One band of travellers started off in high spirits a few days after the wedding for Baldwin's station on the Balonne. Peter Clark had his horses & Sam Partridge as his man. Sam was a lad then in his teens. Jimmy & Ash & outfit all started together, a good big muster of horses & packs when mustered up. They said goodbye to us at the old gate, under the big old acacia tree at home on that bright, sweet autumn morning & left us full of health & high spirits & high hopes of a good journey.

  They got on all right until they got to Walden's Range on the south eastern side of the Murrurundi  some miles. When just on top of the range a man with a mask on came out from behind a screen of boughs he had made from a fallen tree. Told them to bail up!. Sam who was in the lead a little with some loose horses, dashed past him & so got clear. Man had a gun & revolver in hand. had road blocked so they could not pass him. Told them to get off & deliver up. Peter was next to him, he got off & so did the others, another man had joined in with them. He told Peter to give him his watch & money. He took his watch off, one which had been given to him & he valued muched. Peter held the watch in his hand & was edging up to the man to try & get a hold on him. Man in mask made a grab at the watch & Peter made a spring at him. As he did so the man fired his revolver at him point blank. Bullet struck Peter in the side of the neck, but Peter had almost got hold of him when he fired a second shot & that went through Peter's  heart.

  As Peter fell, Jimmy sprang upon the murderer. He fired again at Jimmy but Jimmy knocked his hand up & it struck his own thumb. Jimmy had a very stiff tussle with the man who was far bigger & stronger than Jimmy was. Ash was some distance behind. When Jimmy got him thrown down he told Conroy to take the revolver out of his hand, which he did.  So he got Jimmy the stirrup leathers & Jimmy strapped his hands & legs. Ash was by Peter trying to find any life in him but there was none. He was shot dead.

  Sam, when he heard the shots galloped on 8 or 10 miles into Murrurundi for the police. They sent on in then to M. for a conveyance to carry Peter in.  The police came & brought a dray. They took the man in the dray with Peter. Ash & Jimmy in with them. Jimmy said the wretch was whining & complaining all the way about his thumb. Jimmy said he sat over him with his revolver in his hand & felt he wanted to shoot him with it over & over, but restrained his hand & gave him up to the law to deal with.

  Oh dear, it was awful news that wire from M brought to Mr Clark. Paddy Cullen of the Fitzroy Hotel in Singleton got the wire & rode out with it himself that evening. Poor people !. Wahat an awful blow it was & ah me, poor Susanna, she was like someone half petrified, just white & rigid looking, could not shed a tear, her grief was far too deep for tears. She went on to the coach up to Muswellbrook with Mr. & Mrs. Clark that evening. They held an enquirey at Murrurundi & then the body was sent down to Muswellbrook for burial.

  The man was recognised as a most dangerous outlaw and had 50 pounds on his head. He gave the name of Wilson, but it was well known that was not his real name. He was tried at Maitland & condemned. Was hung at Maitland. Died a hardened sinner to the end it is said. There was a terrible stir up among the people from Murrurundi down to Singleton. The whole countryside was exasperated at so terrible a murder of so popular & a fine man. Peter was very well known, full length of the road & was very generally esteemed & respected.

  They started a collection list & the people just poured in money to erect a monument to his memory, where he fell on the range. When all was collected they built the monument & had enough left for a fine vault at Muswellbrook in which the body was placed later. It was a broken & sad return after the bright & cheery start of a few days before. Our boys are to go down to Maitland for the trial of that terrible man.  It was a real thorough breakdown again to Susanna, for there is no doubt that her love for Peter Clark was very true & sincere. No doubt the affection was mutual. The next and very detailed account was written down by Alexander Eather about 1925. Alex was the son of Elizabeth Collin's elder sister Harriet Clark, who married John Eather of Bulga in 1872 & most likely would have had his information from his 2 uncles James & Ashton Clark.

 

THE SHOOTING OF PETER CLARK BY WILSON THE BUSHRANGER ON THE 9TH APRIL 1863

  On the side of the road at Warlands Range stands a simple monument recording a great tragedy enacted there many years ago. At this spot a young man in the prime of manhood was shot dead by a bushranger wilst resisting a robbery. There also, the robber was taken red handed and handed over to justice by the murdered man's mates.

  On the 9th April 1863 a party of young men & a boy camped at Captains Lagoon near the foot of Warlands Range. They were all residents of Bulga, & were now engaged on a droving trip, going from Bulga to the Gwee station owned by Mr. Baldwin on the Balonne River near the Queensland border, to take charge of 2 mobs of cattle.

  The party consisted of 2 brothers James & Ashton Clark, Peter Clark & Samuel Partridge. James Clark was 23 years of age, Ashton was 19, Peter was nearly 26 & Samuel was 17 & was a drovers boy for Peter Clark.Peter was no relation to James & Ashton, though at the time he was engaged to be married to a sister of the Clark brothers & was an intimate friend. All 4 were accustomed to the roads from childhood & bore unblemished characters.

  Until the 9th April the journey had passed without incident worth recording. The travelling had been pleasant & the party were full of good will to each other& the party were full of good will to each other & the world in general. On the morning of the fatal day, the journey was resumed as usual, & a few miles on the party were joined by a man named John Conroy.

  When near the site of the monument, up the long slope of the hill in the direction of Murrurundi, perhaps a quarter of a mile away, they saw 2 men galloping towards them. Both were mounted on good horses & to all appearances it seemed as though a race was in progress. one of the riders appeared to be a black.

  One of the number called out "Oh look at the race look at the race". All of them sat on their horses & enjoyed the sport. Another called out as the riders drew nearer "I'll back the blackfellow". In a few moments the situation was taken in at a glance. What to them appeared to be harmless sport was nothing else than a life & death ride between a bushranger with a revolver in his hand & a young man who preffered to ride for it rather than tamely obey the summons to "Bail up" & hand over to a bush blackguard even at the point of a pistol.

  The bushranger wore black crepe over his face, hence the mistaken identity, when the facts of the case were made known it transpired the pursued man was a young Gordon, the son of Doctor Gordon of Murrurundi, the bushranger gave his name as Wilson, but was believed on good authority to be MacManus.

  As they passed the party, the bushranger pulled up & young Gordon rode on. The bushranger rode slowly back toward them, Samuel Partridge imitated the example of Gordon & rode for it. Instead of keeping to the road he turned into the bush to escape & raise the alarm. The bushranger immediately gave chase & opened fire. Partridge said he heard the bullet whistle close past him. He galloped straight for a steep gully & the horse jumped it safely. Later it was measured & found to be 14 feet wide. After firing as Partridge & seeing he had small chance of overtaking him, he rode back to the remainder of the party.

  Seeing him fire & knowing he was a desperate man & riding towards them, they quietly dismounted, Conroy & James Clark who was leading the packhorse, were a short distance in the rear. The bushranger jumped off his horse, threw the reins down & with the revolver in his hand walked up to Peter clark & roughly ordered him to hand over. Peter delayed as long as possible as he saw James Clark quitely closing in on the bushranger from behind. He was wearing a big silver watch with a long chain around his neck, as was the fashion of the times. "Hand over that watch & be quick about it" Wilson said offensively. Peter slowly unwound the chain from his neck & held both  the watch & chain in his left hand. "Hurry up there said Wilson" aggressive as before.

  Ashton Clark was standing a few yards away in full view of both men. he saw his brother about a rod behind the bushranger, & he saw the deadly gleam in Peter's eye, and the grim set countenance seem to denote a man who had made up his mind & counted the cost, whatever it might be. he shuddered for instinctively he felt a tragedy impending & the chances were against Peter. If only his brother could get up first. However brave a man might be, the chances were in favour of the man who was armed.

  He looked at the big powerful revolver in the bushrangers hand & knew he would shoot without hesitation if the necessity arose, for no one knew better than the robber what capture meant to him. Ashton Clark looked at his friend & in his heart said "God help him".

  The Bushranger also seemed to feel the strength of the man he was up against. With very bad grace, Peter held the watch & chain out to him with his left hand. For several the robber hesitated to take it. Then he held out his hand to take it & Peter sprang at him.  Just as quickley Wilson sprang straight back & fired point blank. The bullet passed through Peter's throat and out his neck to one side. Instantly he fired again, the bullet  this time  passed through the heart.

  No sooner was the second shot fired that James Clark was on the bushranger from behind & seized him by the left arm. Instantly the bushranger turned the revolver over his left shoulder & fired at james. With wonderful presence of mind, James had thrown the bushrangers own arm before the muzzle & the bullet passed through the fleshy part of the thumb & out near the wrist. Then began a life & death struggle as Clark closed on him.

  James Clark was a trained wrestler & his skill stood him in good stead. The bushranger was thrown & in falling, his head struck the hard road. This in all probability, dazed him for a moment. Conroy rushed forward & secured the revolver, throwing it away. James Clark then quickly overpowered him & called on his brother to bring the saddle straps. Between the 3 of them they bound him securely & left him lying on the side of the road in the water table.

  From the time the 2nd shot was fired, Peter sank quietly to the ground & died without speaking a word & without a struggle. He died like a very tired man sinking into heavy sleep.

  Ashton ran to him & placed his head on his knee. He called out "Oh Jimmy, he's dying! he's dying!" But his brother at that moment was at death grips with the murderer. In perhaps a minute from the time the shots were fired, the murderer was lying on the road securely bound with his victim lying in his blood a few paces away, quite dead.

  It was only now that the actors in the grim tragedy began to realise in full horror of the situation. It was a beautiful autumn day between 9 & 10 o'clock in the morning. What bitter irony, the bright sunshine, the soft air of the morning, & the unbroken calm of the hills seemed to those horror stricken men. Even though the murderer was bound, their friend was dead, and to them the whole world was desolate.

  How the passing of one soul can often change the course of many lives. Both men took grave risks in attempting to capture a man so desperate, whom they saw only a few minutes before attempt to shoot down an unarmed boy. Both were equally brave & in the strength of their manhood, and now one was taken & the other left. With the report of the revolver, the strong arm had fallen, the strength of manhood departed, and between then now rolled the great ocean of eternity.

  Soon they were brought back to the grim reality of the situation by the foul curses of the wounded wretch lying on the side of the road. James Clark, calm & collected, picked up the revolver & turned to the murderer "Now" he said sternly "You have shot one man & tried to shoot 2 others. There is still one shot left & that is for you if I hear another word out of you". The threat had the desired effect. reverently they laid their dead friend on their blankets, covered his face, and left him lying almost where he fell.

  Soon the bushranger began to lament his fate & begged his captors to loosen the straps that secured him. "No" said James firmly, "I am going to take no risks with you. When the police come they can please themselves what they do with you".

  "I didn't think this was going to happen when I rode out this morning" said Wilson. "If you didn't think it was going to happen why did you bring this thing along with you?" said James quietly holding out the revolver. There was no answer.

  After safely jumping the gully, & feeling pursuit was at an end, Partridge turned onto the main road a short distance on & fell in with some men with a horse & dray repairing the road. He told them what had happened & they in turn informed him that a trooper had ridden past them only a short while before towards Murrurundi. Partridge galloped on & overtook the trooper about a couple of miles further on. Quickly he told his tale. "Boy" said the trooper as he looked to his revolver. "Ride for your life to the police station at Murrurundi & I will go back". He was a brave resolute man, worthy of the highest traditions of the force he honoured. Without a moments hesitation he galloped back to the scene of the encounter.

  Dismounting & putting back the revolver in the holster, he grimly surveyed the scene. "Well done boys" he said. Those simple words of recognition conveyed all that was necessary from a brave man to brave men & spoke volumes.  Unbuckling the handcuffs from his belt, he remarked to the murderer as the steel snapped on his wrists, " A bloody morning's work you have made of it." He then commissioned one of the men who had been working on the road to bring the horse & dray.

  Meanwhile Partridge galloped to the Murrurundi police station, only a few miles away & delivered his message. 3 troopers with their horses saddled were just ready to ride off on patrol Instantly they were on the road with partridge & in less than an hour were also on the scene.

  One can better imagine than describe the feelings of Samuel Partridge as he rode up to his mates. Ages seem to have rolled by since he left them not more than 2 hours before. There was all that was mortal of the man who had been as loving, gentle & considerate as a father to him, lying in the stillnes of death. Henceforth his name was to be only a softened & tender memory. Truly the boy could say "Every remembrance of thee I cherish". With a breaking heart he turned away. Almost 80 years have passed over his head & still the memories of that dead friend is soft & tender.

  Gently the police laid the corpse in the dray & seated the murderer beside it & set off for Murrurundi. Almost all the way, the bushranger lamented his fate & the pain of his wound. Small pity was bestowed on him by the enraged public as the news spread. Deep & bitter was the sorrow for the death of Clark & bitter was the hatred for the murderer, who was taken to the police station & confined in the cells.

  The corpse was taken to Whiteman's Hotel at Murrurundi & laid on a table. An Inquest was held the same day & a verdict of wilful murder returned against Wilson. As the Doctor was removing the clothes from the body of Clark, the bullet that had inflicted the fatal wound was found among them. It had pierced the heart, passed clean through the body, & was spent.

  The weapon used was a big powerful muzzle loading 5 chambered trauter revolver, & was one of the best of it's day. Under any circumstances, it was a truly formidable weapon. It was so constructed that the hammer was raised by drawing back a spur that projected through the trigger guard by the 2nd finger of the hand that grasped it. By simultaneously drawing back the spur with the 2nd finger & pressing the trigger with the index finger, the weapon could be discharged with the speed of a modern double action revolver. Hence the speed whith which the 2 shots were fired. In all probability, had the bushranger been armed with a single action revolver & have been forced to cock it with his thumb, Peter Clark could have closed with him before the 2nd shot was fired.

  After the inquest at Murrurundi, the corpse was removed to Eaton's Hotel at Muswellbrook to await burial. Mrs Eaton being some connection of Peter Clark's family. While there it was visited by a great number of friends & sympathisers, some coming long distances to pay their respects to his memory.

  At the time of his death, the parents of Peter resided at "Hillside" Bulga, the present residence of Mr. Samuel Partridge. Most of their family were grown up. Some were married with children of their own. The parents were still hale & hearty though of advanced years.

  About 3 o'clock in the afternoon of the 9th of April, Mr. Paddy Cullin of Singleton arrived with a telegram that had been forwarded to him to advise the Clark family of Peter's death. The telegram briefly stated that "Peter was shot dead by a bushranger at Warland's Range that day".

  As natural with the pioneers of those times, the terrible blow was met quietly, with wonderful courage & fortitude. 2 sisters of James & Ashton Clark are still living, and can clearly recall a visit of condolence paid by them as children with their mother, to the bereaved family the evening the messenger arrived with the news of Peter's death.

  There was bitter sorrow for every member of the family, for the man was deeply & tenderly loved & was worthy of it all. He was loved & respected above the lot of average men. From his childhood he had followed the occupation of a drover & grazier. Many were the long trips he & Samuel Partridge had on the roads together, Partridge being his drover's boy from the age of 12.

  He was a powerfully built man, tall, straight, square shouldered, well proportioned, with an open honest face, soft deep blue eyes, fair hair, a high broad forehead & gently mannered. A man richly endowed by nature, both mentally & physically. His was a charming personality, accompanied by an open generous lovable disposition. Such is the description given of the man by those who knew him best. One thing was imperative, the parents would go to their boy. At hat date the railway extended north only as far as Singleton. So they would ride, calm & collected, the mother prepared for the journey to Muswellbrook. While the horses were being saddled, she calmly superintended the domestic arrangements for her absence. Mr & Mrs Clark were joined by Miss Clark, the fiancee of Peter, & as the sun was setting behind the Bulga Mountains, The sad party rode off on their 30 miles ride to Eaton's Hotel at Muswellbrook. They passed through Wambo & Jerrys Plains & through the long night they rode with aching hearts.

  Perhaps, had the veil of the future been lifted in time for the murderer, for pitys sake alone he would have stayed his hand & turned from his life of crime, had he forseen that nights sorrow through his own madness.

  Peter Clark was buried in the Church of England portion of the Muswellbrook cemetery. The funeral was very largely attended, not only by personal friends & relatives who came from near & far, but by all sections of  the community, who mourned the loss of one so young & brave, cut off in the very flower of manhood. As a fitting tribute to the memory of the man, & testifying to the honour & respect with which his name was held, subscription lists were opened almost immediately after his funeral. At the public expense monuments suitably inscribed, were erected over his grave & also over the spot where he fell.

  The bushranger was a strong, athletic looking man of medium height, about 30 years of age. He was an evil-looking man with a round bullet-head, dark complexion & with a prominent nose very low between the eyes. As far as can be ascertained his bushranging career was of short duration. When captured & searched by the police, a gold watch was found on him. This was owned by a gentleman who was robbed while travelling on a coach a few week before by an unknown bushranger. The robber, very probably, was Wilson.

  Beside his revolver ammunition, bullets of a different calibre to his revolver were also found in his possession. This led the police to believe he was in possession of other firearms. Sometime later in the vicinity of where Clark was shot, a revolving rifle was found in a leather case hanging from a tree. This was believed to be the bushrangers.

  Just off the side of the road from where he rode out to bail up Gordon, a screen of dead bushes was erected against a log, sufficient to hide a horseman from the view of passers by. The mail coach was expected to pass this spot the morning of the tragedy. It was generally believed it was the bushranger's intention to rob it.

  When asked by the police at Murrurundi to write his name, in a hesitating manner he wrote "Harry Wilson" and gave his age as 25 years. This was believed to be an alias and also, he appeared considerably older than the age stated. From Murrurundi he was brought to the goal at East Maitland to await trial. A few months later he was brought to trial, a miserable, wretched broken looking man. He was found guilty of murder, condemned to death  & was executed at the East Maitland goal on October 4th 1863.

  In recognition of their bravery in capturing the bushranger, James Clark & Conroy were each awarded 50 pounds by the NSW Government. Both have since passed away.

 

Email to: Roma Waldron
 

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