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Daniel (Dan) Morgan (1830–1865)

Daniel Morgan, by Henry Pohl, 1865

Daniel Morgan, by Henry Pohl, 1865

State Library of Victoria, H13188

The most bloodthirsty monster whose crimes have darkened the annals of New South Wales has gone to his final reckoning, shot down like a wild animal as he deserved to be while in the commission of crime. On the 23rd ult. Morgan stuck up the Deniliquin mail between Wagga Wagga and Urana. He ransacked the bags, and a great number of the letters were torn. For about a fortnight after this occurrence nothing was heard of the robber, and when, on Friday, the 7th, intelligence was received by the Beechworth police, and by them communicated to Melbourne that Morgan had crossed the Murray, and commenced a raid in Victoria, it was considered a mere rumour, but the news proved correct. The Herald's telegram thus describes the closing scene of this murderer's career. During his short stay over the border, mounted on Mr. Bowler's racer, Victoria, he stuck up McKinnon's station, Little River; Evan's, King's River, (where he fired the granaries, through a four years' revenge for his finger being shot off by Evans while thieving); several carriers on the Melbourne road, between Benalla and Wangaratta, about thirty-five miles from Beechworth; Wurbys' station, and Whitfield's, on his way back to the Murray. The police in Beechworth had received intelligence on Friday morning of his doings at McKinnon's and Evan's station, and Superintendent Winch lined the Murray on both sides in every direction which, from the King River, he was likely to take. On Saturday evening he arrived at McPherson and Rutherford's, Peechelba station, on the Oven's River; there he bailed up, as he thought, all connected with the station in one room, to prevent information reaching Wangaratta. Several men, however, were still at large, one of whom, on being informed by the nursemaid that Morgan was in the house, started to the township with the intelligence. Morgan proceeded in the meantime to enjoy himself, and, tea being ready, he made all the company sit down together, including Mr. McPherson, owner of the station, his wife, and other ladies. During the night the bushranger was very chatty and confidential, speaking of the hardships he had to endure, and of his father and mother, whom he said are still alive. He made one of the ladies play the piano, and allowed them to retire at bed time. He said he was blamed in the Round Hill affair for more than he had done, and that Heriot's messenger would not have been shot only that he took the wrong road, which made him think that he was going to give information to the police, and that he (Morgan) consequently shot the messenger.

Morgan was very sleepy, and nodded occasionally, but always kept a revolver in hand; he said he had not slept for five days or nights, but told the people to be cautious, as he always slept with one eye open. While all this was going on inside the house, Mr. Rutherford, McPherson's partner, had collected all the station hands he could, numbering about twelve, and, with some firearms, they surrounded the house. Assistance arrived from Wangaratta in due course, consisting of three or four policemen and twelve volunteers. The Wangaratta force joined Mr. Rutherford without making the least disturbance, and all resolved to lay in ambush till Morgan would come out in the morning. At one time the men got impatient, fearing that Morgan might escape, and wanted to rush the house and secure the robber, as they thought there might be a repetition of the Round Hill massacre, and there were Mrs. McPherson and servant women in the house. He treated Mr. McPherson civilly all through the night, declaring he only wanted a good horse in the morning, and spoke familiarly of all his deeds, palliating them in a shrewd manner. While the two civilian parties were lying in ambush at the various outlets, a portion of Superintendent Winch's party had followed up his supposed line, and a consultation was held in whispers between the guard in sight of the house, when it was unanimously resolved to wait till daybreak around the house, in fear of endangering the inmates and giving Morgan a chance of escape in the darkness. Each man was placed in cover close up, and the same servant girl had the temerity not merely to inform her master, through her mistress, in Morgan's presence, of what was going on, but took the volunteers out coffee in a can. At daylight, he came to the door, and looked cautiously out; and, about eight, he, after drinking one half-glass of whisky, which was all he partook of during the night, ordered Mr. McPherson and the three men out before him, a revolver in each hand, to get him the promised horse. When he was well out, and while he was watching his men, those behind closed cautiously on him, and an Irishman, named Quinlan stepped in front to a stump. McPherson glanced round as if talking to Morgan, and seeing the men advancing, stepped a little on one side. Morgan was in the act of starting round when Quinlan fired, bringing him at once heavily to the ground on his face. He was immediately rushed by the police and disarmed. He merely said, "Why not challenge me, and give me a chance." The ball had entered at the back of the shoulder, and came out upwards through the neck. He was brought in, put on a stretcher, and a doctor sent for. He was asked if he wished a clergyman to be sent for, or a prayer read. He answered "No."

On being searched, Morgan was found to have on him £86 in notes, and a bank draft on Albury for £7; also two revolvers— one of which was Sergeant McGinnerty's, whom he shot some months ago. The doctor arrived about half-past one, but saw at once that the case was hopeless. Morgan pointed to his throat, and said that he was choking, and died about 2 p.m., sensible to the last moment.

On the body being stripped for investigation, marks of shot were seen in various places, as in the police description. The finger joint was gone, there was a large tumour on the back of the head, and in every particular he answered the description published in the New South Wales Government Gazette. The body was brought into Wangaratta on Monday evening, a judicial enquiry held, and a verdict of justifiable homicide returned.

Original publication

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Citation details

'Morgan, Daniel (Dan) (1830–1865)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 May 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Daniel Morgan, by Henry Pohl, 1865

Daniel Morgan, by Henry Pohl, 1865

State Library of Victoria, H13188

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Fuller, Jack
  • Smith, John
  • Down-the-River Jack
  • Billy the Native
  • Mad Dog Morgan

Appin, New South Wales, Australia


9 April, 1865 (aged ~ 35)
Peechelba, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death


Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Key Places