Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Tamar Valley - Brady's Lookout

Matthew Brady - a likely lad! see article from http://www.eurekacouncil.com.au/

From Brady's Lookout (both pics)

An easy drive today brought us to Legana, a few kilometres out of Launceston. We took a short drive in the afternoon, and stopped at Brady's Lookout, which we thought was quite spectacular.

We could just imagine Matt Brady and his gang up here, where they had a good view of what the troopers were up to, and where it would be easy to hide. The transcription below is from information at the Lookout:

Matthew Brady (1799-1826)
In 1820 Mathew Brady, described as a labourer, was sentenced by the Lancashire Quarter Sessions to be transported for seven years for stealing food.
Brady was transported in the 'Juliana' and during four years under convict discipline, received a total of 350 lashes for attempts to abscond and for other misdemeanours. In 1823 Brady was sent to Sarah Island, Macquarie Harbour but escaped next year with a group of confederates. During the two years that Brady was at large he fought a number of running battles with government troops and private settlers.
Prior to Brady's capture in 1826 he and his gang camped quietly in the thick bush on the castellated rocky outcrops overlooking the Tamar River at Rosevears. In the back of Brady's mind was always the thought that when Tasmania became too hot to hold him he would pirate a ship on the Tamar River and escape by sea. Several attempts were made to take over ships 'Duke of York'and 'Glory', but lack of enthusiasm on the part of his non-seafaring gang saw these efforts come to naught.
Whilst raiding Mr Dry's Elphin Farm in Launceston looking for supplies, Brady was captured after a shootout.
In April 1826 Brady was brought to Hobart to stand trial and his firm deportment excited much attention. With others he was charged with stealing a musket and a bayonet, with setting fire to the premises of W E Lawrence at the Lake River, with stealing horses from him and with the murder of Thomas Kenton.
Brady was convicted as charged and was hanged on 4th May 1826.

And from Eureka Council website:

Matthew Brady (1799-1826) was a Manchester boy sentenced by the Salford Assizes in 1820 to seven years exile for stealing a basket with some bacon, butter and rice.
Wild with resentment, he tried again and again to escape and was pushed down from Assignment to a chain gang, and was finally condemned to the penal hell hole at Macquarie Harbour.
In the first four years of his transportation he took 350 lashes.
In June 1824, Brady and thirteen other convicts escaped from Macquarie Harbour in a whaleboat. Before the end of the month they reached the Derwent, came ashore, robbed a settler of his guns and provisions and then set up a permanent headquarters in the bush.
His gang robbed travellers and outlying settlers, gaining wealth and reputation in the process.
In fact they quickly became famous. Colonel George Arthur, the new lieutenant-governor of Van Dieman's Land, papered the gum trees with proclamations calling "in the most earnest manner" on all settlers to join in the hunt for the Brady gang and to order their Crown servants to pass on whatever information they heard.
It was futile, for the convicts would rather join Brady than rat on him. On many occasions convict servants hid Brady and his men in barns, fed them and showed them where the master's guns were kept.
Arthur next appealed to baser motives by posting rewards: first £10 per head for each member of the growing Brady gang, which by now was rumoured to be one hundred strong, then £25.
If a convict gave information that led to the arrest of one of these bandits, he would get his ticket-of-leave. If he caught the bushranger himself, he got a conditional pardon.
The only result was a notice pinned to the door of the Royal Oak Inn at Cross-Marsh a week later:
"It has caused Matthew Brady much concern that such a person known as Sir George Arthur is at large. Twenty gallons of rum will be given to any person that can deliver his person to me."
There was no question that the lad was flash. He was chivalrous, too. He was nicknamed the "gentleman bushranger", because he was so polite to women, thanked those he robbed, and would never kill a free men.
Brady would never harm a woman or let any of his gang do so. When his partner McCabe threatened to rape a settler's wife, Brady shot him through the hand, flogged him mercilessly and threw him out of the gang; Arthur's police caught McCabe ten, days later, and hanged him.
In another incident, a psychopathic convict named Mark Jeffries, a government executioner and flogger had absconded. He was known as "The Monster". He had captured a settler's wife while he was on the run but was irked by the crying of her new-born baby. He picked it up by the legs and smashed its head against a gum tree. Later he was caught and jailed for trial in Launceston. When Brady heard about this he had to be argued out of leading his gang in a frontal assault on the Launceston lockup, freeing all the prisoners, dragging Jeffries out and flogging him to death.
He waged systematic war against the Empire, its army, police and administration. For example he attacked the prison at Sorell, 14 miles east of Hobart, and released all the convicts and put the guards behind bars. (At that time such prisons were maned by military personal with a civilian in administrative charge. The were effectively military fortifications.)
The Brady gang fought like Tasmanian devils when cornered, with skill and coolness, shooting their way past many police ambushes.
They were fearless in attacking the Empire; and systematically targeted their civil oppressors, especially "flogging magistrates".
Through all this, Brady truly embodied the best of the English, Arthurian heritage that demands that strength be used to "Up-hold the Right and defend the weak." Thus he would always treat their captives fairly.
When they took John Barnes, colonial surgeon, a prisoner while ransacking a magistrate's house at Coal River, in Barnes' own words,
"One of the men who stopped me … had been punished a few days before by order of the magistrate, upon some trifling complaint of his master; the man was not in very good health ... and I took him down before the whole of the flagellation had been inflicted, and requested that the magistrate would pardon him the rest;he reflected the circumstance with a little gratitude, or probably I might have been more severely handled."
They took his watch but gave him back his lancet-case, telling him that it "might be of service to him by and by" and then they released him unharmed.
Brady also "defended the weak". He took care not to harm assigned servants in the homesteads he raided; but in case they "gave music" to the police later, he forced them to drink their masters' whiskey until they were too fuddled to remember what his men had said, or which way they had gone. At least one luckless teetotaller died from this; and others, due to the vile quality of colonial spirits, became very sick, but like Robin Hood, he was loved for this.
Not by Lieutenant-Governor Arthur though, who was a tirelessly methodical man, and he eventually wore Brady down.
He offered irresistible rewards-300 guineas, or 300 acres of land free of quit-rent to the man who brought Brady in; or, for convicts, a full unconditional pardon and free passage to England.
With a reorganised police force and re-enforcements from the 40th Regiment of Foot under his command, he waged a war of attrition, picking off the gang members one by one, in a series of running skirmishes.
He also successfully sent out police spies wearing convicts chains, who infiltrated Brady's force using the cover story that they had escaped from an Iron Gang and were on the run.
Thus betrayed from within he was quickly outflanked by Government forces. Brady was shot in the leg in the ensuing battle near Paterson's Plains, just outside of Launceston. He got away but was captured a few days later, limping and exhausted, by a settler named John Batman (the future founder of Melbourne).
They put Matthew Brady in Launceston jail and a few days later put him in chains and brought him down to Hobart, accompanied, to his disgust, by the man he most despised in the world, the infant-killer Mark Jeffries.
Before his trial and hanging, Brady was feted as a popular hero. If his fate had been decided by popular vote, he would have gone free.
Dozens of petitions for clemency arrived at Government House.
Women shed tears for the "likely lad," the "poor colonial boy," who had shown such consideration to their sex. His cell was filled every day with visitors bringing baskets of flowers, fan letters, fruit and fresh-baked cakes.
But the judge was determined to make a solemn and awful example of him. On May 4, 1826, Brady received his last Communion and mounted the scaffold above a sea of colonial faces, contorted in grief, and they cheered him over the drop; only his enemies were silent.
( The government could not expunge his name from popular memory: A 4,000 foot peak in the Western Tiers Mountains, which looks down onto the Lake named for Governor Arthur, is still known as Brady's Lookout, and there is also a Brady's Lake out past the Tungatinah power station on the Lyell Highway).

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