The Capture Of MACPHERSON, The Bushranger
Maryborough Chronicle
Wednesday, April 4, 1866.


The capture of Alpin Macpherson, the bushranger, generally known as the “Wild Scotchman” was reported in Maryborough on Saturday morning last, from the telegraph station at Golden Fleece, by a telegam from Mr. A. H. Brown, Gingin, to the Police Magistrate, requesting him to send two constables to that station to take the prisoner to Maryborough.

The constables were immediately despatched, and reached Gingin late the same night, returning without delay to Maryborough with their prisoner, where they arrived on the evening of Monday last.

“A Correspondent” sends us the following account of the capture:--

“I suppose that the world will be wondering how the “Wild Scotchman” has been taken; -- the affair is simple enough in itself, and, of course, not by the police.

A man answering to his description had been seen on the morning of 30th ult., and had been inquiring for a road which he did not, it seems, intend to travel; he was again seen within a short distance of Munduran by two gentlemen living at Gingin, and they instantly proceeded to the Munduran head-station, and reported their suspicions as to who it was, to the Manager (W. Nott, Esq.), who, with praiseworthy promptitude, joined them, together with another person, making in all a party of four, and immediately started in pursuit.

They overtook him about five miles from the station, in the direction of Port Curtis. When he saw them in a full gallop, and nearly upon them, he instantly let go his pack-horse, and started at full speed down a very broken range; being well mounted, they followed, and were fast gaining on him, when he pulled up, and commenced to unstrap a double-barrelled gun, which he had with him; upon his commencing to do this, Mr. Nott covered with his rifle, and told him that if he did not there and then throw up his arms and surrender, he would fire at him. This threat, fortunately, was sufficient, as Macpherson at once said, “I give myself up.” He added, “I knew you were not the police by the pace at which you followed me down that ridge” and he described with some humour, the absurd attitudes which he had witnessed in police horsemanship -- some holding on by the front, and some by the back of the saddle. The prisoner was very communicative and appeared cheerful.

Those who were instrumental in his capture, were, Messrs. W. Nott, Curry, Gadsden, and J. Walsh.

The first night, he was lodged at Munduran, the second night at Gingin, at both places, he was watched day and night, and was taken by the police from the latter place on Sunday (1st April). I trust that the Scotch ranger will not make April fools of us, but we have strong doubts of his safe arrival in Maryborough.

There was found on him, about 9 pounds in notes and cash, pistols, gun, and sundry articles of clothing. His two horses were done up. He behaved in a very orderly manner since his apprehension, and gives an amusing account of his adventures.”

The prisoner was brought up before the bench of magistrates yesterday morning, when he was remanded until this day week for the purpose of giving an opportunity to summons the several witnesses necessary to complete the evidence in the case sufficient to commit him for trial.

The Court-house was crowded with spectators, amongst whom there seemed to be some disappointment at the appearance of the prisoner. Some because he was not so “flash”, and others because he was not so ferocious-looking as they expected.

The prisoner, however, answers to the ordinary description of a bushranger, such as of late, have been so frequently described in New South Wales journals - a bushman, hardy, strong, and supple; in Macpherson’s case, we should say of more than ordinary intelligence and courage. He evidently takes matters very coolly, and does not appear at all discomfited by his present position. He has been very communicative since his capture, relating, evidently with truthfulness, judged by the minutiae of the detail of his narrations, some very racy tales of his interviews with the police in and about Gayndah, whilst they have been in search of him.

Macpherson commenced his career as a bushranger, it appears, on the Houghton River in the Bowen police district, where, with others, he stuck-up Will’s public-house; after which he and his mates not agreeing, he left for New South Wales, where he carried on his infamous career, until he joined Gilbert’s gang, with whom he had several encounters with the police, two with Sir Frederick Pottinger by whom he was severely wounded, after which, in an encounter with Sargeant Condell, he was again wounded, and this time captured. However, although remanded from week to week, by the local bench, no evidence could be brought against him implicating him in any of the robberies, and he was then forwarded to Sydney charged with shooting at Sir Frederick Pottinger, but that gallant officer -- much belied -- died on his way down to Sydney, and the charge, in consequence, fell through.

He was then remanded to Queensland on the charge of sticking-up Wills’ public-house. On his way up, he passed through Gladstone, and the following appeared in a letter from our own correspondent at that place at the time:-- “We had rather an important arrival from Sydney by the ‘James Patterson’, in the shape of a person, delighting in the euphonious names of Kerr, alias Bruce, alias Scotia, but as to what part of Queens- land he is to adorn, I think it would be hard to say.

He is a young man, about twenty-four years of age, strong, and well-made. He is charged with sticking up a publican, named Wills, on the Houghton River, in January last, and attempted murder.”

He was placed in the Gladstone lock-up for safe keeping, but he soon showed them he knew as much, if not more, than the Davenport Brothers, for they profess to be assisted by spirits; but he relieves himself free from leg-irons and hand-cuffs without aid, and if it will oblige you, in your presence. He says the hand-cuffs are not yet made to hold him. He was remanded to Port Denison.

He reached there in due course, where, after magisterial investigation, he was committed to take his trial at the last October assizes.

On his downward trip to Rockhampton gaol, to await his trial, he justified our Gladstone correspondent’s remarks by a very clever escape, of which the following particulars are given in the Rockhampton papers of last June:-- “Macpherson was given into the custody of Constable Maher, to be conveyed to Rockhampton, and lodged in the gaol to await his trial. The prisoner and Maher went on board the steamer “Diamentina”, at Port Denison, and were provided with berths in the steerage.

The “Diamentina” left Port Denison on Thursday morning and reached Mackay, on the Pioneer, at eleven o’clock on the following morning. During the stay of the steamer there, Maher suffered his charge to wander about the vessel with merely leg-irons on, and paid no attention to the advice of the captain, who recommended him to secure the prisoner in the steerage, lest he should effect his escape.

About half-past five o’clock on Saturday morning, the prisoner was seen near the cook’s galley. He was missed about an hour afterwards, and on search being made, his presence was found to be wanting. The steamer left Mackay, and brought Maher to Rockhampton, minus his prisoner.”

After getting rid of his leg-irons, the next thing heard of him was that of taking a horse, saddled and bridled, which a squatter had just dismounted at one of his out-stations, while on his rounds looking after his sheep. It is supposed that after this, he employed himself in horse stealing, but he managed to keep himself incog. until November last, when he suddenly put in an appearance on the road between Maryborough and Gayndah, robbing the mail on 27th of that month, on the way down, and again on the upward mail on the day following, taking there from a large amount, chiefly in cheques and orders, which he sent, a few days afterwards, to his Excellency, the Governor, reserving the cash for immediate wants. From this time, he seemed almost constantly engaged in his villainous work, moving about from one district to another with such marvellous rapidity as to throw his pursuers completely off his scent. Some days riding upwards of one hundred miles, making it possible that all the robberies reported as being committed by the “Wild Scotchman” were done by the same person. Indeed, the remarkable celerity of movement, which was the cause of his so long successfully eluding the police was eventually the main occasion of his capture, as on the day of his capture, he states that he had ridden ninety miles through a broken country, and his horses were completely knocked up, and would not, at last, answer to the spur.

He states freely that he was on his way to Mr. Halt’s paddock, at Kolonga, to get fresh horses, intending, as soon as he got a remount, to stick-up the mails in the district again.

In his pack was a regular bushman’s outfit, added to which was all that might be necessary to s desperado -- a large American axe for breaking through fences or building yards to catch horses, a beautifully fitted case of surgical instruments, with lint, balsams, and other curative agents, a pocket compass, &c.

Of course, it is hardly necessary to say that Macpherson is a splendid bush rider. We believe that some of his exploits are marvellous. The few incidents of his past life, we have to relate, are, that he is a native of Scotland, and on his arrival with his father in this colony found employment with Mr. McConnell, of Cressbrook; after being there a few years, he was apprenticed to Mr. Petrie, of Brisbane, as a stonemason. He has been an extensive reader, and was an active member of a debating society in connection with the School of Arts.

On the occasion that Mr. Lilley, the present Attorney-General, brought in his Militia Bill, which excited the indignation of his constituency, Macpherson relates that, at the “Valley” meeting, where Mr. Lilley was mobbed, he was his prominent defender, and assisted him to make his escape. Soon after this, he ran away from his apprenticeship, and took to the road.



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