There were only three known female Australian Bushrangers Mary Ann Bugg, who rode with Frederick Ward aka Captain Thunderbolt, Mary Cockerill aka Black Mary an Aboriginal woman who rode with Michael Howe and Elizabeth Jessie Hickman who was 6 feet tall ,dressed like a man and carried a gun she ran her own gang in the area of the *Wollemi National Park , there is not a lot written about Jessie Hickman which surprised me and the information I did find has conflicting information it is very hard to know what is fact and what is fiction
Elizabeth Jessie Hunt was born on 6th September, 1890 in Burraga, New South Wales, her parents were James Hunt and Susan Ann McIntyre. At 8 years old her parents gave her to a travelling circus, we can not know what Jessie's life in the circus was like but given the times you would think she was used and abused.
Jessie was taught many skills while involved in circus life, one of the many skills Jessie learn't was rough riding and is said to have been the Australian Female Rough riding Champion in 1906, this would of been a competition between rival travelling circuses, because the national competition did not take place until 1945.
Jessie became the mistress of Martin Breheny, known as James Martini when she was 14-15 years old he was the owner of Martini’s Buckjumping Show . Although it has been stated that she married James Martini there are no marriage records found, Jessie became ring mistress of the show and she managed and promoted the circus with the help of the other circus performers the circus was sold in 1910 after Jessie was injured when she had a fall from a bucking horse, the circus became Wild Australia . Jessie used the name of Mrs. Martini and there are references in Martini’s obituary notices to his widow. James was accidentally killed in a wagon accident in 1907 he was buried in the family vault Waverley Cemetery Sydney, it was Martini’s father who inherited the show not Jessie so another reason to think Jessie never married James Martini.
Jessie met Benjamin Walter Hickman and in 1913 they had a son. Their son was given to a friend of Jessie’s to raise as her own child and Jessie had very little to do with him from then on. Ben Hickman was WIA during World War I he was shot twice in the chest after he had enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces.
After the birth of her son, Jessie was living in Sydney and was using the name of Jessie McIntyre, she served two gaol terms in Long Bay Goal, one 1913-1914 and the other 1915-1916, she was charged with stealing a number of items ranging from cattle to clothing. In 1918 Jessie was charged with cattle stealing once again but she was acquitted.Benjamin Hickman returned to Australia after the war, he and Jessie were married in 1920 . Theirs was not a happy marriage and they separated in 1924,Jessie's brother lived in the Kandos/Rylstone area of New South Wales and after the break up of her marriage she moved there, this is where she really started her career as a Bushranger stealing cattle and horses.
There is a story thatJessie became house keeper to John Fitzgerald who was a alcoholic and he treated Jessie very badly, he forced Jessie to marry him and after a few years of domestic violence she  killed him in self defence with a wooden chair leg, to avoid goal Jessie escaped to the remote Nullo Mountain area where she lived alone in a cave in a mountain hideaway, Jessie survived by cattle duffing as she knew every inch of Nullo Mountain she had no trouble escaping from the police, it was south of Nullo Mountain with the police chasing her, that she jumped off a 10 m cliff into the water and swam away it was one of many escapes Jessie made from from the police.
One story told about Jessie is that there was a dingo in the area which was so destructive and elusive that it was called Mother Hickman
Another story is that one of her gang spread the story that someone was poisoning possums in the mountains. This was highly illegal and the police went to investigate. While they were gone from town, Jessie and a few of her gang rode in and stole the cattle from the police holding yard, the local people of that area gave her the title of The Lady Bushranger and she is still known by that name there today.
The Police finally caught up with Jessie in 1928 and at the Rylstone Court House she was charged with cattle stealing, the case hinged on one cow that was easy to identify just before the trial the cow disappeared, the cow was found dead and burned in the bush, it is thought some of Jessie's cattle duffing mates killed the cow, she was found not guilty. It was at this time Ben Hickman divorced her despite his war wounds, he lived to the age of 89 and died at The Entrance, New South Wales, in 1971.
After Jessie was acquitted for cattle theft she settled down in Widden Valley, although she did continue to steal horses and cattle . Jessie was in poor health and she was becoming more and more erratic, in 1936 she died aged 46 years after a horse-riding accident where she spent a night unprotected from the weather and got pneumonia, she also had a brain tumour thought to be from when she fell off the bucking horse in the circus, her body was not claimed and Jessie was buried in an unmarked paupers grave at Sandgate Cemetery, Newcastle New South Wales.
Jessie Hickman was a remarkable woman who turned to a life of crime through her circumstances, from a very early age she was used and abused she was given away at age 8 to the circus by her parents, she was married to men that abused her, it would be a matter of learning to survive maybe Jessie thought she had no other choice than a life of crime, you have to wonder what her life would of been like if none of these things took place, she will go down in Australian history as one of only three female Bushrangers.
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