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McLean, John (?–1864)

Morgan, the Bushranger. This miscreant, emboldened by the impunity with which he has for months past robbed travellers and levied blackmail from the squatters in the Albury district, occasionally diversifying his exploits by burning down a woolshed or destroying a settler's account books, has added two murders to his crimes. On the 19th ult., he encountered Sergeant Carroll, of Wagga Wagga, about twenty miles from Albury, and several shots were exchanged without effect. During the afternoon of the same day he visited the Roundhill station, belonging to Messrs. Henty, and, after dismounting, put his horse into the stable. There were a number of men about the huts, whom the ruffian, with a revolver in each hand, ordered to go into the carpenter's shop, and after asking Mr. Watson, the superintendent, if the men got enough rations, ordered him to go and bring four bottles of grog, which were drank; after carousing for hours, Morgan was about taking his departure, when Mr. Watson incautiously made some remark about stolen stirrup irons. Morgan immediately drew his revolver, and, aiming amongst the men, fired, wounding Mr. Watson in the hand; another shot hit Mr. John Heriot (son of Mr. Heriot, of the Caraboola station), and smashed his leg; he then fired twice at a man named Connor, who attempted to escape, and as the other men also ran away he fired at them several times. Mr. Heriot retreated about thirty yards, dragging his broken limb along the ground, and then fell, when Mr. McLean, one of the overseers, perceiving that he was badly hurt, lifted him up, carried him into the house, and laid him on one of the beds. Morgan came in soon afterwards, and on expressing himself sorry for having committed such an outrage, Mr. McLean asked if he had any objection to his going for a doctor; Morgan gave his permission, and Heriot requested McLean to take his horse and go quickly. The poor fellow at once started on his errand of mercy, and had got a few miles on the way, when Morgan overtook him, and said, " You--wretch, you are going to lay an information," and immediately fired, shooting McLean through the back, the ball entering the right side, below the tenth rib, passed through his stomach, and came out about three inches above the navel. McLean then fell from his horse and Morgan rode into the bush, leaving his victim lying on the ground writhing in agony. After a short time he returned, and putting McLean on his horse returned with him to the station, and calling one of the men assisted in removing him to his bed. Some person having asked how it occurred, Morgan said "one of his mates had shot him." In reply to Mr. Heriot, McLean stated, "I was riding along the road, and, when just past the sheep station, Morgan said, 'You---- wretch, you are going to lay an information," and fired at me." Dr. Hill, a neighbouring squatter, visited the unfortunate man on Monday, and, perceiving that no medical aid could prevent the wound proving fatal, advised him to send for any of his friends that he wished to see; and on his expressing a desire to see his uncle, he was sent for, and arrived the next day. To him, also McLean reiterated the statement as to how he came by the wound, and, after great suffering, expired at midnight.

Morgan stayed at the station, drinking, until about two o'clock on Monday morning, and about five minutes after he left Sub-inspector McLerie, with a party of police, arrived, and on obtaining particulars of the affair, and the route taken by Morgan, they immediately followed in pursuit. "Pursued by the police" has long since become a stereotyped phrase in connexion with their ineffectual efforts to stop the career of our western banditti, and the chase after Morgan was another of those futile efforts so characteristic of the new force, for it has since turned out that he camped for the night about a mile and a half from the scene of his outrages; from thence it appears he crossed the country towards Tumbarumba, and on the morning of Friday, the 24th, Sergeant McGinity and Trooper Churchill overtook him about five miles from the Copabella station, but having no idea who he was, the sergeant rode up alongside of him. Morgan said, "You are one of those wretches looking for bushrangers," and fired, shooting McGinity through the heart. His body was afterwards found close to the road, his hat having been placed in the centre of the path, apparently by Morgan, to attract attention. Churchill returned to Tumbarumba professedly ignorant of what had occurred. During the afternoon of the 24th, Morgan stuck up Mr. O'Hare, publican, of Tumbarumba, and took away his horse, but abandoned it after going about a quarter of a mile.

Morgan is reported to be a native of Appin, about thirty-three years of age, dark complexion, long hair and whiskers, and about 5ft. 9in., or 5ft. 1oin., in height. He commenced his criminal career at an early age, and has served a term of penal servitude at Pentridge Stockade, in Victoria. On obtaining a ticket of leave there he returned to the Ovens district, and commenced his depredations under thc cognomen of "Billy the Native," or "Sydney Bill." Sergeant McGinity was an old and respected member of the police force; he has left a widow and six children, bereft of their protector by the atrocity of this blood-thirsty ruffian, and it is to be hoped their case will receive the immediate attention of the Government.

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'McLean, John (?–1864)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/mclean-john-15370/text26579, accessed 18 October 2019.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2019

Life Summary [details]

Death

22 June 1864

Cause of Death

shot

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