Peter Clark Memorial
The Monument to Peter Clark who was held up and shot by a bushranger; a photograph of Peter Clark’s memorial on Warland’s Range
Note: Near the junction with White Street and Old North Road Blandford there is a signpost for Clarks Monument. The monument is approximately 2.5 kilometres down this road.
Old North Road, Warland Range, Blandford, 2338
GPS Coordinates: Lat: -31.793219 Long: 150.902508
Sadly the monument has been desecrated to some extent by vandals. I even recognise some of the names carved into the sandstone! However it is built to last and will surely endure for at least another 160 years!
To the memory of the late Mr Peter Clark who was shot by Wilson the Bushranger near this spot on 9th April 1863.
This monument erected by public subscription in honor of the brave deceased who lost his life while endeavouring to affect the capture of that notorious offender.
On Friday afternoon 29th June 2018 my good mate Bill Greer III took Bill Moses and me on an ‘educational excursion’ to his home village of ‘Blandford’. First stop was Kevin Taylor’s fabulous workshop on the ‘back road’. I first met Kevin in 1968 when he worked for Greg Lougher at ‘Cloverleaf Quarter Horse Stud’. Kevin is a multi-skilled bushman of the first order. He has a passion for restoring old horse drawn carriages. It’s a ferocious appetite he shares with Bill Greer. Kevin has exquisite skills and his renovated carriages are legendary. I have never ever seen a more orderly or scrupulously clean shed. It’s superbly appointed with all Kevin’s blacksmithing and leatherwork tools of trade.
Bill then took us along the ‘back road’ where we found the Monument to Peter Clark. This is actually the original ‘Great North Road’. Bill remembers his parents driving along this route heading for Scone and regularly passing the totem tribute to Peter Clarke. Bill’s story was that Peter Clark had ‘cleaned out’ bushranger Harry Wilson at a poker game in his grandfather’s pub in Blandford. Wilson decided to take retribution and recover his losses. Meanwhile troopers from Murrurundi had been alerted about Bushranger Wilson’s whereabouts. They arrive at the Greer pub too late to apprehend and arrest him but followed his trail. There are scenes redolent of Steve McQueen and the ‘Cincinnati Kid’; but this conflict took place 100 years before! Read on!
In 1863 Peter Clark, his brother, another man and a boy were riding towards Warland`s Range. The boy, who was first in the group, was shot at by a bushranger but proceeded unharmed. Clark was bailed up by the bushranger, who wore a piece of black crepe over his face and a false beard. Clark refused to give up his money without a struggle and was shot dead. Clark`s companions apprehended the robber and delivered him to a police constable. It later transpired that the bushranger intended to rob all in the locality. He gave his name as Henry Wilson and was later convicted of willful murder and executed in the gaol yard at East Maitland.
Before his death Wilson attempted to escape on a rope made of blanket strips, which broke, went on a hunger strike which he abandoned and also tried to cut his throat with a piece of crinoline steel but was discovered in time. The government`s reward of 50 pounds for the capture of a bushranger was paid to James Clark and to John Conroy. The people of Murrurundi started a subscription to erect a monument on the spot of Clark`s death and subscriptions came in from all parts of the colony.
Peter Clark Trove
Top of Form
HIGHWAY ROBBERY AT WARLAND’S RANGE: ONE MAN SHOT DEAD.
No small amount of excitement was caused in town on Thursday evening, when it became pretty generally known that a man named Peter Clark, well known in Maitland, had been shot dead by a bushranger at Warland’s Bange, about five or six miles from the township of Murrurundi and the Page Police Office. The telegrams which had come to hand were necessarily brief and fragmentary, and the public awaited with intense interest the arrival of fuller news of an authentic and reliable nature. Yesterday morning further intelligence was received, and from inquiries made it appears that the whole circumstances, so far as they are yet known, are as follows.
On Thursday morning (time not known) Peter Clark, his brother, another young man, and a boy were riding on horseback near Warland’s range, on their way to the Culgoa. When they were approaching the Page and within a short distance of it, the boy who was leading a horse went ahead of the other three, some two or three hundred yards, and was met by a man, who afterwards proved to be a bushranger. When he passed the boy his face was blackened so as to make it impossible for any person to recognise him. He appears to have taken no notice of the boy at first, but upon going a little further, and meeting the other three, it seems to have occurred to him that the boy belonged to the party, and the ruffian immediately turned round and commanded him to stop. The boy not obeying, he fired a shot at him, and again ordered him to stand; the boy still refused to comply with his request, and the highwayman a second time discharged his revolver at him. The shots, fortunately in neither ínstance took effect, and the boy rode on uninjured. By this time Clark and his companions had come up to the robber, who instantly ordered Peter Clark to dismount, and give up his money, making preparation, at the same time, to search him. Clark’s brother and his companion were told to stand on one side the time this operation was performed. Clark having dismounted, the robber at once proceeded to search him, taking from him his watch. His money was next demanded, but Clark, who was a powerful man, and not liking, it is supposed, to give up his cash without a struggle, seized hold of the highwayman; a scuffle ensued, and Clark was shot by his antagonist through the neck. The wound not being a fatal one, a second encounter took place, and, either from exhaustion or from the robber being a stronger man, Clark, it is stated, fell flat on his back, and the cowardly wretch, who stood over him, quickly drew his revolver and shot him dead on the spot – the ball from the pistol passing right through the unfortunate, but brave, man’s heart.
Clark’s companions, however, secured the robber, and took him to the Page police-office, where he at first refused to give any name, but afterwards said it was Wilson. An inquest was held the same day, on the body of poor Clark, and a verdict of ” Wilful murder” was returned against Wilson, who was handed over in custody to the police. Since the inquest was held, we are given to understand that the excitement in Murrurundi has been tremendous, and that the public have with difficulty been kept from summarily dealing with the prisoner. Clark, it may not be uninteresting to our readers to know, is a native of the colony, and was born in the neighbourhood of the Cockfighter’s Creek. His family are said to be highly respectable, and Clark himself is spoken of, by all who know him, as a fine, well built, athletic, sober, industrious, and deserving young fellow, of about 27 years of age.
Since writing the above, we have received the following account from our Singleton correspondent, by electronic telegraph:
“Yesterday morning, at Warland’s Range, Young Peter Clarke, of the Bulga, two other Clarkes, and a boy, were stopped by one armed bushranger. A boy was riding in front, at whom be fired twice, but missed. He demanded Peter Clarke’s money, after getting his watch and chain. A scuffle ensued, and Peter was shot in the neck. He again rushed at the bushranger, and fell, and the robber then shot him in the breast, dead at once. The other two Clarkes then made a rush at the scoundrel, and secured him. Upon being apprehended, one barrel of the six was still loaded. The bushranger was shot in the hand during the scuffle.
When brought into Murrurundi to the lock up, he said it was a good job that they got him, as he would have served everyone the same that day, and then made off. He is entirely unknown. He had two other men tied up to a tree after having robbed them.”
Peter Clark 1837-1863 NSW
Journal by janilye
Peter CLARK one of 12 children and second son of William CLARK 1811-1879 and Catherine MCALPIN 1814-1893: In 1863 Peter, who was over 6′ tall & age 25 years was engaged to Susannah CLARK 1838-1910 daughter of James Swales Clark of Bulga. (Susanna later married William Thomas SQUIRE on 7 April 1875).
After attending a wedding feast of friends, which lasted 3 days, he set out for “Guie” and “Doondi” two of his Uncle Wellow’s (Wellow BALDWIN) stations. He was shot in the neck by the Bushranger WILSON on Warland’s Range, Blandford near Murrurundi. The news of his death was wired to Paddy CULLEN of the Fitzroy Hotel in Singleton, who rode out to tell Peter’s parents as well as his fiancée, who hurriedly got ready & went to Muswellbrook where Peter was subsequently buried.in Muswellbrook Cemetery where an elaborate sandstone monument stands over his tomb. Within days of Clark’s death, a public subscription raised enough money to create one of the Hunter’s most unusual memorials.
A stonemason erected the impressive Warland Range memorial which today still stands a few metres from where Clark fell, mortally wounded, 148 years ago. The isolated monument, restored in the 1920s, is no longer on the main road. It can be reached by crossing the railway line at Blandford and following a signposted if rough road
There are many, many accounts published of the death of Peter Clark. This one, told by the descendants of Ashton CLARK 1844-1925:
“On the 9th April 1863 a party of young men & a boy camped at Captains Lagoon near the foot of Warland’s Range. They were all residents of Bulga, & were now engaged on a droving trip, going from Bulga to the Gwee station owned by Mr. Baldwin on the Balonne River near the Queensland border, to take charge of 2 mob of cattle. The party consisted of 2 brothers James & Ashton CLARK, Peter CLARK & Samuel PARTRIDGE. James Clark was 23 years of age, Ashton was 19, Peter was nearly 26 & Samuel was 17 & was a drover’s boy for Peter Clark. Peter was no relation to James & Ashton, though at the time he was engaged to be married to a sister of the Clark brothers & was an intimate friend. All 4 were accustomed to the roads from childhood & bore unblemished characters. Until the 9th April the journey had passed without incident worth recording. The travelling had been pleasant & the party were full of good will to each other & the world in general. On the morning of the fatal day, the journey was resumed as usual, & a few miles on the party were joined by a man named John Conroy who was riding to Breeza & was travelling the same road. When near the site of the monument, up the long slope of the hill in the direction of Murrurundi, perhaps a quarter of a mile away, they saw 2 men galloping towards them. Both were mounted on good horses & to all appearances it seemed as though a race was in progress. One of the riders appeared to be a black. One of the number called out “Oh look at the race; look at the race”. All of them sat on their horses & enjoyed the sport. Another called out as the riders drew nearer “I’ll back the blackfellow”. In a few moments the situation was taken in at a glance. What to them appeared to be harmless sport was nothing else than a life & death ride between a bushranger with a revolver in his hand & a young man who preferred to ride for it rather than tamely obey the summons to “Bail up” & hand over to a bush blackguard even at the point of a pistol. The bushranger wore black crepe over his face, hence the mistaken identity, when the facts of the case were made known it transpired the pursued man was a young GORDON, the son of Doctor GORDON of Murrurundi, the bushranger gave his name as Wilson, but was believed on good authority to be MCMANUS. As they passed the party, the bushranger pulled up & young Gordon rode on. The bushranger rode slowly back toward them, Samuel PARTRIDGE imitated the example of Gordon & rode for it. Instead of keeping to the road he turned into the bush to escape & raise the alarm. The bushranger immediately gave chase & opened fire. Partridge said he heard the bullet whistle close past him. He galloped straight for a steep gully & the horse jumped it safely. Later it was measured & found to be 14 feet wide. After firing at Partridge & seeing he had small chance of overtaking him, he rode back to the remainder of the party. Seeing him fire & knowing he was a desperate man & riding towards them, they quietly dismounted, CONROY & James CLARK who was leading the packhorse, were a short distance in the rear. The bushranger jumped off his horse, threw the reins down & with the revolver in his hand walked up to Peter Clark & roughly ordered him to hand over. Peter delayed as long as possible as he saw James Clark quietly closing in on the bushranger from behind. He was wearing a big silver watch with a long chain around his neck, as was the fashion of the times. “Hand over that watch & be quick about it” Wilson said offensively. Peter slowly unwound the chain from his neck & held both the watch & chain in his left hand. “Hurry up there said Wilson” aggressive as before. Ashton Clark was standing a few yards away in full view of both men. he saw his brother about a rod behind the bushranger, & he saw the deadly gleam in Peter’s eye, and the grim set countenance seem to denote a man who had made up his mind & counted the cost, whatever it might be. he shuddered for instinctively he felt a tragedy impending & the chances were against Peter. If only his brother could get up first. However brave a man might be, the chances were in favour of the man who was armed. He looked at the big powerful revolver in the bushrangers hand & knew he would shoot without hesitation if the necessity arose, for no one knew better than the robber what capture meant to him. Ashton Clark looked at his friend & in his heart said “God help him”. The Bushranger also seemed to feel the strength of the man he was up against. With very bad grace, Peter held the watch & chain out to him with his left hand. For several seconds the robber hesitated to take it. Then he held out his hand to take it & Peter sprang at him. Just as quickly Wilson sprang straight back & fired point blank. The bullet passed through Peter’s throat and out his neck to one side. Instantly he fired again, the bullet this time passed through the heart. No Sooner was the second shot fired that James Clark was on the bushranger from behind & seized him by the left arm. Instantly the bushranger turned the revolver over his left shoulder & fired at James. With wonderful presence of mind, James had thrown the bushrangers own arm before the muzzle & the bullet passed through the fleshy part of the thumb & out near the wrist. Then began a life & death struggle as Clark closed on him. James Clark was a trained wrestler & his skill stood him in good stead. The bushranger was thrown & in falling, his head struck the hard road. This in all probability, dazed him for a moment. Conroy rushed forward & secured the revolver, throwing it away. James Clark then quickly overpowered him & called on his brother to bring the saddle straps. Between the 3 of them they bound him securely & left him lying on the side of the road in the water table. From the time the 2nd shot was fired, Peter sank quietly to the ground & died without speaking a word & without a struggle. He died like a very tired man sinking into heavy sleep. Ashton ran to him & placed his head on his knee. He called out “Oh Jimmy he’s dying! he’s dying!” But his brother at that moment was at death grips with the murderer. In perhaps a minute from the time the shots were fired, the murderer was lying on the road securely bound with his victim lying in his blood a few paces away, quite dead. It was only now that the actors in the grim tragedy began to realise the full horror of the situation. It was a beautiful autumn day between 9 & 10 o’clock in the morning. What bitter irony, the bright sunshine, the soft air of the morning, & the unbroken calm of the hills seemed to those horror stricken men. Even though the murderer was bound, their friend was dead, and to them the whole world was desolate. How the passing of one soul can often change the course of many lives. Both men took grave risks in attempting to capture a man so desperate, whom they saw only a few minutes before attempt to shoot down an unarmed boy. Both were equally brave & in the strength of their manhood , and now one was taken & the other left. With the report of the revolver, the strong arm had fallen, the strength of manhood departed, and between then now rolled the great ocean of eternity. Soon they were brought back to the grim reality of the situation by the foul curses of the wounded wretch lying on the side of the road. James Clark, calm & collected, picked up the revolver & turned to the murderer “Now” he said sternly “You have shot one man & tried to shoot 2 others. There is still one shot left & that is for you if I hear another word out of you” . The threat had the desired effect. Reverently they laid their dead friend on their blankets, covered his face, and left him lying almost where he fell. Soon the bushranger began to lament his fate & begged his captors to loosen the straps that secured him. “No” said James firmly, “I am going to take no risks with you. When the police come they can please themselves what they do with you”. “I didn’t think this was going to happen when I rode out this morning” said WILSON. “If you didn’t think it was going to happen why did you bring this thing along with you?” said James quietly holding out the revolver. There was no answer. After safely jumping the gully, & feeling pursuit was at an end, Partridge turned onto the main road a short distance on & fell in with some men with a horse & dray repairing the road. He told them what had happened & they in turn informed him that a trooper had ridden past them only a short while before towards Murrurundi. Partridge galloped on & overtook the trooper about a couple of miles further on. Quickly he told his tale. “Boy” said the trooper as he looked to his revolver. “Ride for your life to the police station at Murrurundi & I will go back”. He was a brave resolute man, worthy of the highest traditions of the force he honoured. Without a moment’s hesitation he galloped back to the scene of the encounter. Dismounting & putting back the revolver in the holster, he grimly surveyed the scene. “Well done boys” he said. Those simple words of recognition conveyed all that was necessary from a brave man to brave men & spoke volumes. Unbuckling the handcuffs from his belt, he remarked to the murderer as the steel snapped on his wrists, ” A bloody morning’s work you have made of it.” He then commissioned one of the men who had been working on the road to bring the horse & dray. Meanwhile Partridge galloped to the Murrurundi police station, only a few miles away & delivered his message. 3 troopers with their horses saddled were just ready to ride off on patrol Instantly they were on the road with partridge & in less than an hour were also on the scene. One can better imagine than describe the feelings of Samuel Partridge as he rode up to his mates. Ages seem to have rolled by since he left them not more than 2 hours before. There was all that was mortal of the man who had been as loving, gentle & considerate as a father to him, lying in the stillness of death. Henceforth his name was to be only a softened & tender memory. Truly the boy could say “Every remembrance of thee I cherish”. With a breaking heart he turned away. Almost 80 years have passed over his head & still the memory of that dead friend is soft & tender. Gently the police laid the corpse in the dray & seated the murderer beside it & set off for Murrurundi. Almost all the way, the bushranger lamented his fate & the pain of his wound. Small pity was bestowed on him by the enraged public as the news spread. Deep & bitter was the sorrow for the death of CLARK & bitter was the hatred for the murderer, who was taken to the police station & confined in the cells. The corpse was taken to Whiteman’s Hotel at Murrurundi & laid on a table. An Inquest was held the same day & a verdict of wilful murder returned against Wilson. As the Doctor was removing the clothes from the body of CLARK, the bullet that had inflicted the fatal wound was found among them. It had pierced the heart, passed clean through the body, & was spent. The weapon used was a big powerful muzzle loading 5 chambered trauter revolver, & was one of the best of its day. Under any circumstances, it was a truly formidable weapon. It was so constructed that the hammer was raised by drawing back a spur that projected through the trigger guard by the 2nd finger of the hand that grasped it. By simultaneously drawing back the spur with the 2nd finger & pressing the trigger with the index finger, the weapon could be discharged with the speed of a modern double action revolver. Hence the speed with which the 2 shots were fired. In all probability, had the bushranger been armed with a single action revolver & have been forced to cock it with his thumb, Peter Clark could have closed with him before the 2nd shot was fired. After the inquest at Murrurundi, the corpse was removed to Eaton’s Hotel at Muswellbrook to a wait burial; Mrs Eaton being some connection of Peter Clark’s family. While there it was visited by a great number of Friends & sympathisers, some coming long distances to pay their respects to his memory”.
* Patrick(Paddy)CULLEN 1822-1893 son of Patrick CULLEN 1770-1822 and Elizabeth MCNAMARA 1783-1860 both from Ireland, they married in Sydney on 20 September 1811. Paddy was one of eight children, he was born at Windsor, NSW he married Caroline Hopkins HORNE 1827-1824 at Singleton 10 July 1847 the daughter of Samuel Horne 1798-1868 the chief constable of Patricks Plain and Elizabeth Evans 1804-1841
** Samuel Partridge 1850-1928 married Jane Charlotte EATHER 1851-1907 the daughter of Thomas EATHER 1824-1909 and Eliza nee CROWLEY 1822-1897
Ashton CLARK married Sarah Elizabeth EATHER 1861-1923
James Clark 1840-1911 married Mary DAWES 1848-1936
*** The fate of Harry WILSON:- From Murrurundi he was brought to the gaol at East Maitland to await trial. A few months later he was brought to trial, a miserable, wretched broken looking man. He was found guilty of murder by a jury within ten minutes, condemned to death & was executed at the East Maitland goal on October 4th 1863.When searched he also had in his possession a gold watch which was taken from a man during the hold-up of a coach a few weeks before he was captured. It was believed that Harry Wilson was an alias and he looked to be much older than 25, however, no matter his name or his age he hanged for his crime.
Wilson’s second claim to fame? According to author Greg Powell, secretary of Hunter Bushrangers, Australia’s longest running re-enactment group, Wilson holds the dubious honour of being among the first to be hanged on the new private gallows inside old East Maitland Gaol.
****In recognition of their bravery in capturing the bushranger, James Clark & Conroy were each awarded 50 pounds by the NSW Government.