"Beginning of a legend" Murrurundi Favorite Tip by iandsmith

Murrurundi General: 2 reviews and 2 photos

  Somewhere in here there's a Hall
by iandsmith

Favorite thing: In August 1845 the following notice was posted in the Government Gazette:
'Whereas, it has been represented to the government that Benjamin Hall of Murrurundi, and Alexander Paterson, lately in charge of Mr. John Chilcott 's station; at Doughboy Hollow, against both of whom warrants have been issued for their apprehension on charges of horse stealing, have effected their escape; his Excellency the Governor directs it to be notified that, in addition to the pecuniary rewards offered for the apprehension of these persons by the Association recently formed in the upper Hunter District for the suppression of horses and cattle stealing, a ticket of leave will be granted to any prisoner of the crown who shall apprehend and lodge in gaol either of the above named parties, and if the person apprehending either of the above named already a ticket of leave holder, application will be made to her Majesty for the allowance to him a a conditional pardon'
It seems that townsfolk were reluctant to betray one another despite the inducement of rewards. James Gowan was lock up keeper in Murrurundi at this time. He was dismissed from his position after being accused of giving or permitting an intimation to Benjamin Hall to keep 'out of the way'. By March 1846 Gowan was the local school master. His school was eighty yards from the lockup and was said to be patronized by 'the most respectable people in Murrurundi.' One of his students was nine year old Mary Hall.

Fondest memory: Six months after the above notice was posted, a Court case was heard at Maitland Quarter Sessions. William Hall the 13 year old son of missing Benjamin Hall was cross examined in Court as was his nine year old sister Mary. Mary stated that her brother William had been told by a fellow prisoner that if he did not do as he was told he would be sent away in a ship and drowned or be put in Newcastle gaol and hung. William was in fact put in a dark room near the Murrurundi lockup, the windows of which had been boarded up. It was said he cried very much through fear; he was kept there some days and then put in with another prisoner who told him' Beware of men in wigs, only give them such answers as suits'. The cries of the boy, terrified in the darkened room, were said to be such that they had brought tears to the eyes of the lockup keeper's wife.

Although the prosecutor thought that William Hall, albeit young in years, was 'evidently old in crime and well versed in dissimulation', William must have impressed some in the Court that day as it was stated to the court that a gentleman was willing to take him as an apprentice, being strongly impressed with the belief that his obvious intelligence and energy of character could be turned to good account.
The Attorney General was of opinion that in the absence of the father who had absconded the court had authority to bind the boy. His mother Eliza (Somers) Hall, was in Court and consented to the arrangement. (4). (William's father Benjamin Hall was captured at Mr. Hamilton's station on the Lachlan (near Bathurst) two years later by Trooper Hoy of the Mounted Police.)
Perhaps William was more fortunate than his younger brother Ben who was destined for an early grave after becoming one of Australia's best known bushrangers, arguably the best known after Ned Kelly, but that's a whole other story.

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  • Written Sep 8, 2011
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