Frank Gardiner 1829 - ? date unknown
He began his career as a criminal in 1850 by stealing horses and was apprehended and tried at the Geelong Circuit Court and sentenced to five years imprisonment, with hard labour, as Francis Christie, in Pentridge, Melbourne. He escaped and was recaptured 4 years later when he was again arrested for horse-stealing and given seven years hard labour.
He conducted the largest robbery of gold in Australian history in 1862 with Ben Hall and Johnny Gilbert. Who were part of his notorious gang:
- John Bow
- Dan Charters
- Alex Fordyce
- John Gilbert
- Ben Hall
- Henry Manns
- John O'Meally
Gardiner fled to Queensland and was arrested there in 1864, tried and found guilty on two charges and given a sentence of 32 years hard labour. In 1874 Gardiner was released, due to public petitioning. A large petition signed by Members of Parliament, magistrates, doctors and many notables was given to the Governor, Sir Hercules Robinson. The Governor decided that Gardiner had been harshly sentenced and released him subject to his exile. This decision caused a public controversy which led to the fall of the Parkes government.
In 1874 Gardiner travelled to Hong Kong and then California where he later owned the Twilight Star Saloon in San Francisco. There are many rumours about his life in America, none of which have been proven.
It is not know for sure when he died and his death was reported many times between 1880 to 1904. The uncertainty is mainly due to the destruction of records in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
Unfortunately, as yet, I cannot find a better portrait of Frank Gardiner or Frank Christie (his real name).
Ancestry Family Tree.
Australian Dictionary of Biography Gardiner, Francis article by Edgar F. Penzig.
TROVE: The Capricornian Newspaper. Rockhampton, Qld. Saturday 14th October 1905.
Charles White, Australian Bushranging, Gardiner "King of the Road".
G. E. Boxall, The Story of the Australian Bushrangers.