Convict Bolters

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Surnames/tags: Bushrangers Convict_Bolters Australia
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Convict Bolters

Australia's first bushrangers were escaped convicts called 'bolters' they mainly operated in Van Deimans Land, but also other states of Australia. They fled into the bush and survived by stealing from settlers and travellers some of the bolters worked alone others formed gangs. Little is known about these men such as John Ceasar, Mathew Beady and Jacky Jacky. They were usually only known in the area were they operated.

Convict bushrangers were particularly prevalent in the penal colony of Van Diemen's Land. One of the most notorious bushranger was the "Lieutenant Governor of the Woods", Michael Howe, He led a gang of up to one hundred members against the colonial government.His control over large areas of land caused the squatters from Hobart and Launceston to work with him. By 1818 most of the gang had either been captured or killed the same year soldiers shot Howe dead. In the 1820s hundreds of bolters were at large, among the most notorious being Matthew Brady's gang, and cannibal serial killers Alexander Pearce and Thomas Jeffries. Originally a New South Wales bushranger, Jackey Jackey an alias of William Westwood was sent to Van Diemen's Land in 1842 after attempting to escape Cockatoo Island. In 1843, he escaped Port Arthur, and took up bushranging in Tasmania's mountains, but was recaptured and sent to Norfolk Island, where, as leader of the 1846 Cooking Pot Uprising, he murdered three constables, and was hanged along with sixteen of his men.

By the 1840's the era of convict bushrangers faded with the decline in penal transportations to Australia.Western Australia, was the only state to accepted convicts between 1850 and 1868. The best known convict bushranger from Western Austraia was Moondyne Joe.

The Cooking Pot uprising
The cooking pot uprising

The Cooking Pot Uprising, also known as the Cooking Pot Riot, was an uprising of convicts led by William Westwood, Convict and Bushranger on the penal colony of Norfolk Island, Australia. It occurred on 1 July 1846 in response to the confiscation of convicts' cooking utensils under the orders of Major Joseph Childs, who was in command of the colony.

In February 1844, [1]Major Joseph Childs took over the command of the convict prison settlement at Norfolk Island.The previous commander [2]Capt Maconochie, had been much kinder, he had thought of the prisoners as human beings. He had allowed the prisoners to have small farm plots to grow sweet potatoes and other vegetables. The prisoners who showed good behaviour also received shortened hours of labor and holidays from work. Every prisoner was allowed to cook his own meals in saucepans and kettles specially provided.

Major Childs decided to chamge all this.[3] Gradually, over a two year period he removed all the privileges, these privileges had made the men content enough that there was no trouble. He stopped the private farm plots. He made daily hours of work longer and he withdrew holidays for good behavior. He also cut down the prisoners' rations. And then on July, 1846, he announced that food was to be served in bulk, that no personal cooking was to be allowed and that kettles and saucepans held by prisoners were to be handed in.

The prisoners were furious [4]William Westwood aka Jacky Jacky,[5] and a group of prisoners stormed the store, and seized every utensil they could find. Convict William Westwood said Now, men", he said, "I've made up my mind to bear this oppression no longer. But, remember, I'm going to the gallows. If any man funks, let him stand out. Those who want to follow me – come on. Westwood, attacked a constable who was watching the convicts. The convicts attacked him with knives, sticks, pitchforks with any weapons they could find.Next they went to the cook house. They found Stephen Smith, the mess overseer. For God's sake don't hurt me, Jackey he cried out. Remember my wife and children! Damn your wife and children said William Westwood and knocked him senseless. By the time the convicts had finished with him he was a mutilated corpse. There was now about 1,600 convicts, they went to the Barrack Yard gate, They wanted to get to Government House, to reach Samuel Barrow, the Police Magistrate. Westwood, now had a an axe, he ran over to a hut, forced open the door, and killed convict constables John Dinon and Thomas Saxton. Dinon was asleep in his bed.

As they neared Government House, there was a line of soldiers, muskets at the ready. The convicts stopped, their weapons were taken from them, and they were returned to their cells. [6] John Giles Price was sent to command the convict settlement as a replacement for Major Childs. One of Price's first duties was to arrange for the trial of 26 convicts alleged to have been involved in the [7] murders during the uprising. William Westwood with 11 of leaders of the mutiny were all found guilty of the deaths of police runner Stephen Smith, and convict constables John Morris, John Dinon and Thomas Saxton. [8]On 13 October 1846, the twelve convicts were hanged in two groups of six and their bodies were buried in a pit near the pier.

Convicts that were hung
William Westwood (Jackey Jackey)
John Davis
Samuel Kenyon
Dennis Pendergast
Owen Commuskey
Henry Whiting 22
William Pearson
James Cairnes
William Pickthorne
Lawrence Kavenagh
William Scrimshaw
Edward McGuinness


  1. Wikipedia - Major Joseph Child's
  2. Wikipedia - Capt Alexander Maconchie prison reformer
  3. The Melbourne Argus (Vic. : 1846 - 1848) p.2; 14th August 1846 Article Norfolk Island
  4. Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal (NSW : 1851 - 1904) p.4; 20th October 1891 Article Jacky Jacky
  5. The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) p.14; 10th January, 1957 Article Norfolk Island rebellion led by Gentlman Bushranger
  6. Wikipedia - Jonh Giles Price Governor of the convict settlement at Norfolk Island
  7. . Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas. : 1828 - 1857) P.3; 25th August 1846 Article Murder at Norfolk Island
  8. The Australian (Sydney, NSW : 1824 - 1848) p.3; 28th November, 1846 Article Excution of Convicts

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