The Gentleman Bushranger Matthew Brady

 Bushranger Matthew Brady
Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour, Western Tasmania, Australia,
where the penal settlement was.
Matthew Brady (1799 – 1826) was known as the "Gentleman Bushranger" due to his good manners when robbing his victims and because he never robbed a woman and did not kill unless threatened. He was born Matthew Bready in Manchester, England.

His parents were Irish and he served in the British army as a corporal before being sent to New South Wales for forgery in 1820. He was tried in Lancaster, Lancashire, England in April 1820 and transported to Australia on the Juliana to serve a 7 year sentence.  He was considered dangerous, due to his rebellious nature, and sent to the notorious Sarah Island penal settlement in Macquarie Harbour, Western Tasmania, Australia which was then called Van Diemen's Land. (see Van Diemen's Land map)

He and 13 other convicts escaped from Sarah Island in an open boat and landed at Frederick Henry Bay, Van Diemen's Land. They went on a crime spree throughout Tasmania with a bush ranger known as Crawford and his gang, spreading fear into the community. Crawford was captured and executed in Hobart Town and Brady became the leader of the gang.

Governor George Arthur arrived in 1824 and seeing the unsettled state of the colony he posted rewards for the capture of Brady and his gang.  In return, Brady posted a reward of twenty gallons of rum to any person who would deliver Governor Arthur to him.

The bush rangers lived deep in the bush near the Shannon river which had rugged escarpments where they could hide out. Trade was being paralyzed and Governor Arthur offered pardons to any outlaw that surrendered.  Many of the bush rangers took pardons but not Brady. He was captured by the famous bounty hunter John Batman who ” brought him into town on horseback on Sunday and lodged him in gaol. As might be expected, the whole population of Launceston crowded to see him. He deported himself in a firm and determined manner, and rode well, although badly wounded in the leg. He had no hat - an handkerchief was bound around his head.” Colonial Times Newspaper 17 March 1826.
Brady was tried for a highway robbery, stealing horses and murder, received sentence of death, and was executed on the 4th of May 1826 in Hobart, Tasmania. He is buried in the Old Roman Catholic Cemetery in Hobart
Tasmania, Australia.

Tasmania's Bushrangers

England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 for Matthew Bready
Australian Convict Transportation Registers – Other Fleets & Ships, 1791-1868 for Matthew Bready
The companion to TASMANIAN HISTORY Centre for Tasmanian Historical Studies.


Paul Herring said...

It's no surprise that so many convicts became desperadoes. The brutal English penal system is mainly to blame for that.

The system was so cruel that the bushrangers, once free, realised that capture meant either hanging or floggings. They didn't want to endure another day under that system. Can anyone really blame them?

Unknown said...

Can you imagine what todays prisoners would be sentenced to for the crimes they do today if the then system was still in place?

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