...Bushrangers waiting for the Mail Coach
John McTear arrived on the Captain Cook
in 1832 and John Rideout arrived on the General Stewart
The Maitland Mercury reported their daring robbery of the Singleton Mail -
On Monday afternoon, the Maitland and Singleton mail was stopped, about two miles on the Singleton side of Black Creek, by two armed bushrangers, who, coming up towards the mail at an easy pace, were not in the least suspected by the driver On reaching the mail, however, one came on one side and the other on the other, and each presenting a pistol, they made the driver and Mr. Griffin
, who was the only passenger, dismount.
Immediately after this, one of the robbers discovered a traveller riding along the road, and immediately dashed off to overtake him. The man who remained with the mail was a tall man, thin face, and apparently about twenty six or twenty seven years of age, on a dark bay or rather brown horse, and had a black handkerchief tied over his face. The other was mounted on a chestnut horse, with light coloured mane and tail, nearly silver, and had his face unconcealed; features very broad, dark eyebrows and beard, with dirty straw or cabbage tree hat. As soon as the one man had started, the other made the mailman take the bags out of the coach, and leave them on the ground. He then asked the man what money he had about him.
The poor driver produced one shilling and sixpence, which was refused by the robber. He then asked the same question of Mr. Griffin, who offered him two shillings, which was also politely declined, as not coming up to his ideas of gentlemanly robbery. He then ordered them to mount the mail and drive on with which order they very readily complied. In the meanwhile the other man had come up with Mr. Lumley, who, doubting the purity of their intentions had clapped spurs to his horse, but not being a particularly light weight, the pursuer soon pulled him up, made him dismount and rifled his pockets taking from him a booty of between seven and eight pounds in silver and notes and a gold watch. Information was speedily given of the robbery and an express despatched to Patrick's Plains for the purposed of stopping such orders and cheques as has been stolen with the mail bags it being reported that there was a considerable sum in notes and orders transmitted in the mail.
The same evening the whole country was up in arms scouring the road and bush in all directions. Amongst the first of those who went in pursuit was Captain Smith. But we have not yet heard that any have fallen upon the trail of these marauders. Three troopers of the mounted police left Maitland the same evening in search of the robbers; and as all seem willing to render their assistance, the career of these Australian Turpins, it is to be hoped will be but a short one. Both men wore the usual dress of stockmen.
On Tuesday evening, the 11 August 1846 between 4 and 5 o’clock two men came to the house of Mr. Perfrement, Golden Fleece, at Gammon Plains and remained there drinking until the following Friday evening. On that evening, whilst the men were absent in a neighbouring hut, Mr. Perfrement got a Mercury containing a description of the cheques, orders, etc stolen from the Singleton mail.
Finding that some of the descriptions tallied with certain of the cheques he had received from the men, he immediately went to the hut, where one of the men, who afterwards turned out to be Macintyre, happened to be, taking with him a constable named Barker, who had come up from Merton in the mail, on the look out for the robbers.
On entering the hut, they found about a dozen men assembled there. Mr. P. went up and laid his hand on Macintyre’s shoulder when he drew himself back and said ‘Come on’. Barker, immediately on his doing so, threw himself upon him, endeavouring to secure him; they both fell and struggled for some time desperately on the ground. At length Macintyre got up and taking a pistol from his pocket, presented it at the constable. Mr. P., in the struggle had got one of Macintyre’s pistols from him, and presenting it at him, called on him to surrender.
Of this summons Macintyre took no notice, but struggled hard to get the muzzle of his pistol down to Barkers breast. Mr. Perfrement, finding the matter growing serious, called several times on the men in the hut to assist him in the capture, but they still remained standing by without replying. Mr. P. now threw away his pistol, and took hold of the one Macintyre had. He however refused to let go, when Mr. P bit his fingers until he loosed his hold. Barker at the same time struck him in the face with his fist, and stunned him. On his coming to he said he would surrender. Before he was secured he endeavoured to throw away a Watch and guard, and some money he had on him; but Mr. P seized the watch and it afterwards turned out to be that lost by Mr. Lumley; some money was also found on him.
Mr. Perfrement and Barker then went to the hut where Macintyre’s companion was. They found him asleep and secured him almost with out a struggle. He had previously given to Mr. P. a silver watch and guard together with some money. This last man is known by the name of ‘Rideout’ One of them had a bay horse with white hind feet, branded R1 on near shoulder; the other had a bay horse with a switch tail and standing about 15 hands
We need hardly point out the gallantry displayed by both the constable, Barker, and Mr. Perfrement in thus throwing themselves fearlessly amongst men, who, if the least inducement had been offered, would evidently have leant more towards the robbers than their captors...... Maitland Mercury 22 August 1846-2
The Singleton Mail Robbery
In the Government Gazette of Tuesday last there is a reward of 15 pounds offered, or a conditional pardon to a prisoner of the crown, for such information as shall lead to the apprehension and conviction of the two men who robbed the Singleton mail on Monday week. The notice was issued subsequent to the capture of the men by Constable Barker and Mr. Perfrement; but we hope this will not induce the government to withhold a reward which has been so well earned........ Maitland Mercury 26 August1846-2
The bushrangers who robbed the Singleton mail (McIntyre and Rideout) were forwarded to Singleton by the mail car on Thursday last, in the custody of Mr. Everness, the chief constable of Merton, and the constable who apprehended them. Rideout is well known in this part of the colony, as well as at Bathurst and at Parramatta as an itinerant farrier and jockey. He was once in the assigned service of Mr. Palmer of Parramatta and has been a free man for many years....... Maitland Mercury 29 August 1846-2.
The Mail Robbery – The two men for the robbery of the Singleton mail came down, under escort, on Thursday last, having been committed on two charges – robbing Mr. Lumley and robbing the mail. The first gives his name John Smith, denying stoutly any identity with Macintyre, and stating positively that no person In the Maitland district can possibly know him. He is a stout, dark complexioned man, apparently about thirty-five years of age, with black hair and whiskers and deeply marked with the small pox. A kind of impudent, or rather assured, smile is a peculiar characteristic of his face, which he changes into a disagreeable scowl on perceiving any person noticing him. He is about five feet six or seven inches in height, and has a remarkably swaggering off hand manner with him.
The other John Rideout, has a rather quiet, unassuming appearance and is certainly as far as a first glance goes, about the last man that we should suspect of assisting in so daring a deed. He is of a sallow complexion, with light hair, and, wearing a large Chesterfield cut coat, has much the appearance of a broken down groom. Mr. Griffin identified the latter man yesterday as one of the persons who stopped the mail; the other he was not so certain about, but still believes him to be the man....... Maitland Mercury 5 September 1846
In the possession of the police, Singleton, Patrick's Plains, the under mentioned horses and other property, taken from John Smith and John Rideout, who now stand committed on two charges of highway robbery’ One bay horse, black mane and tail hind feet with a little white on forefoot, star in the forehead and nose, sore back and saddle marks, aged, brand RL on near shoulder, defaced brands on neck. One brown horse, white spot on forehead black mane and tail l long, near hind fetlock white, six years old, branded IS or JS on near shoulder. One bay horse black mane and tail tall long, white saddle marks, four years old, branded like HIS on off shoulder Also 3 saddles’ 2 bridles 1 pair of saddle bags 1 pair of horse pistols with swivel ramrods, makers name ‘Manton’ London’ 1 silver watch, with silver ring chain and gold seal and ring. Description of watch – No 12816, Echappement a cylinder, Quatre trous en Pierre – Connoisier Freres Chanx de Fonds Any persons claiming the above property, are requested to apply to the chief constable Singleton If not claimed on or before Saturday the 26th September they will be sold...... Maitland Mercury 19 September 1846-4
Highway robbers John Smith and John Rideout were placed at the bar, and arraigned on a charge of putting one John Lumley in bodily fear on the 10th August, and of robbing him of one gold watch, one chain, eight shillings in silver, and two orders on for 6 pounds 2 shillings 3d. and the other for ten shillings. The prisoner Smith pleaded guilty to the charge and Rideout pleaded not guilty. The Solicitor General opened the case by going through the various circumstances and commenting on the different points as they arose at considerable length and called. John Lumley who deposed; I am an innkeeper at Singleton. About two miles from Black Creek, on the other side from here I was stopped on the road; I saw the mail standing still, the coachman was off his seat and a passenger getting off; I turned round, but before I did so, saw one of the men coming after me. I galloped off, but the man pursued me, and said he would shoot me if I did not stop; I pulled up, as he was within shot of me, and had a pistol in his hand. He then told me to get of the horse, and made me lead the horse back towards where the mail was stopping. I did so and the other man met us. Smith then told me to take out my watch and turn out my pockets; I did so, and gave them a one-pound note, eight shillings in silver a ten-shilling order of Mr. Eckford’s and a cheque on the Bank of Australasia for six pounds together with my watch and chain. The watch produced is mine, and the cheque and orders are those that were stolen from me. The second man had a red handkerchief with white spots on it over his face. He seemed on horseback to be a tall thin man. Prisoner Rideout resembles him in size and make. The man then went away, Smith having first wished to take my horse, but the other man wished him not to do so. They then said they would go and see if they could meet anybody else. It was about half past two when the robbery occurred.
Benjamin Pitt Griffin
was on the mail on the day of the robbery. Two men, dressed like stockmen came jogging up to the mail and when they reached the mail they drew out pistols and ordered the mailman to stop. Whilst they were rifling us Mr. Lumley
came along the road and Smith galloped off after him; the other man made the mailman pull out the bags throw them on the ground and drive on. I could not recognize the man; he had a black silk handkerchief over his face, which seemed to be like a neckerchief suddenly pulled up to conceal himself. He seemed to be about the size of Rideout, and was evidently a thin-faced man, with eyes similar, and of the same colour, as those of the prisoner. I took Particular notice of him, as I thought I might at some future time identify him.
: I am an innkeeper at Gammon Plains, about eight three miles from Black Creek; Rideout came to my house on Wednesday 13 August between four and five o’clock put his horse in the stable and called for some refreshment; Smith came in about half an hour afterwards; they each had a horse, and two bags; they remained till Friday, when they went away about sundown; I never saw them in company; Smith I thought had gone, but Rideout's horse was still in the stable; he passed several orders; he was treating a number of people, and gave me the cheque produced for £6 ; I gave him no change for he said that he wished them to go to his account; he passed several other orders to me (now produced ) ; I took between £70 and £80 of them; on Friday I received some information and the constable Barker having come up on the look out, I went with him into a hut, where Smith and about a dozen men were assembled; we succeeded in apprehending him, and we then took Rideout, who was in bed two huts off; he made no resistance; I never knew Rideout myself, though everybody about the place was acquainted with him. By his Honor; Rideout bought a horse, saddle and bridle of me; he spent a good deal of money in liquor for he was treating every body in the township.
; I reside at Singleton and recollect posting a letter on the 10th August, containing about £50 addressed to the manager of the Bank of Australasia Maitland; the cheques were endorsed by me,. And those produced are the cheques I sent, with the exception of one that is missing The prisoner declined addressing the jury. His Honor in summing up said that the case was entirely circumstantial; for although one of the witnesses spoke to the similitude of eyes and make of the prisoner, yet he was not perfectly identified. This, of itself, he should say, would be insufficient to convict the prisoner. But then came the other facts - that of changing the horse and the passing of the orders stolen from Mr. Lumley, and from the mail and the acknowledged robber being found eighty three miles from the place where the robbery was committed, in company or at all events arriving shortly after the prisoner Rideout. The jury having retired for about ten minutes returned a verdict of guilty. His honor in passing sentence said that he was sorry for Rideout, as from his previous good character he had no doubt that he had been led into the commission of the offence by the example of the other man, who had doubtless by pleading guilty, endeavoured to screen his comrade. The suspicions against him were so strong, that he had not the least hesitation in acting on their verdict. Rideout had been a prisoner, and had already had one warning, and was not therefore excusable. Smith had come free to the colony and he felt convinced that nothing but a vicious and depraved appetite could have drawn him into the commission of crime, when it was well known that any man who wished it might obtain employment. He was also determined to protect as far as he could persons traveling on the road, for it was the duty of a judge to terrify by punishment all those who should make traveling unsafe. His honor then sentenced each of the prisoners to fifteen years transportation....... Maitland Mercury 26 September 1846-4
In the Matter of John Rideout His Honor stated that he had received an application on behalf of this prisoner, convicted of mail robbery, stating that he had two motherless female children in the country but he was sorry to say that his duty would not allow him to attend to it........ Maitland Mercury 3 October 1846-2
The Late Mail Robbery – The man Smith, who was convicted of the mail robbery at the last assizes, was identified on Wednesday last at Hyde Park Barracks as John McTear, per Captain Cook 1832 a prisoner for life. He held a ticket of leave for the district of Bathurst, for the last four or five years and has been reported as having absconded with firearms about a year since. He was last known as the notorious McIntyre, of the Bathurst and Mudgee country.
The Sydney Morning Herald 13 June 1855 - A man who gave his name as John O'Brien, alias McIntire, was arraigned as a prisoner of the Crown illegally at large. The charge was preferred by Mr. Singleton, inspector of the detective force, Mr. Horsey deposed, that prisoner was identified as John Smith alias McTear, tried at the Circuit Court of Maitland on 16th September 1846, in the name of John Smith alias McIntire, and convicted of robbery, being armed, for which he was sentenced to fifteen years transportation to Van Diemen's land; he ran from the service of Mr. Rooke of Deloraine, on the 7th April 1851; was again convicted of horse stealing, in the Supreme Court of Sydney on the 9th February 1853 in the name of John O'Brien, an immigrant and sentenced to 5 years service on the roads or public works of the colony. He held a ticket of leave which was cancelled for absconding from his district; he was tried at Antrim in 1831 for burglary, in the first instance for life, and transported in the name of McTear; he was sent out in the Captain Cook, the first. To be imprisoned in Darlinghurst until opportunity offers of forwarding him to Van Diemen's Land
John Rideout was transported to Tasmania on the colonial vessel Louisa.