When the Clarke brothers, Thomas and John, were sentenced in 1867, the Chief Justice described the bushrangers as 'the scum of the earth, the lowest of the low, the most wicked of the wicked [and yet] are occasionally held up for our admiration....It is the old leaven of convictism not yet worked out'.
The Clarkes' territory ranged from Yass to Goulburn and over to Braidwood, and their crimes included thieving horses, nine robberies in two months, and feloniously wounding a black tracker.
In 1866, under the Felon's Apprehension Act 1865 (NSW) the Clarke brothers were declared outlaws for reasons of 'robbery, violence and murder'. In 1867, four 'special' constables sent to capture the bushrangers were found shot dead near Jinden Station.
|THOMAS CLARKE AND JOHN CLARKE. |
From History of Australian Bushranging, Volume II by Charles White.
Braidwood had became a haunt for many bushrangers as well as the Clarke Brothers. The town was the subject of Australia's first Royal Commission in 1867, inquiring into the state of crime and the activities of police officers, following allegations that bushrangers were being allowed to operate freely within the district for years. The Commission identified several instances of misconduct and found the superintendent of police had failed to exercise 'strict and proper control over his men.' Report of the Commissioners, State of crime in the Braidwood District, 30 July 1867.
Australian Dictionary of Biography
New South Wales, Australia, Gaol Description and Entrance Books, 1818-1930
History of Australian Bushranging, Volume II by Charles White.