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Bushrangers, or bush rangers, originally referred to runaway convicts in the early years of the British settlement of Australia who had the survival skills necessary to use the Australian bush as a refuge to hide from the authorities. The term "bushranger" then evolved to refer to those who abandoned social rights and privileges to take up "robbery under arms" as a way of life, using the bush as their base. These bushrangers were roughly analogous to British "highwaymen" and outlaws of the American Old West, and their crimes often included robbing small-town banks or coach services.
The bushrangers' heyday was the Gold Rush years of the 1850s and 1860s as the discovery of gold gave bushrangers access to great wealth that was portable and easily converted to cash. Their task was assisted by the isolated location of the goldfields and a police force decimated by troopers abandoning their duties to join the gold rush.
Frank Gardiner, John Gilbert and Ben Hall led the most notorious gangs of the period. Other active bushrangers included Dan Morgan, based in the Murray River, and Captain Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt was the most successful Australian bushranger, if bushranging longevity is the benchmark, as he bushranged across northern New South Wales for six-and-a-half years until shot near Uralla in 1870. With his death, the New South Wales bushranging epidemic of the 1860s officially ended.
The increasing push of settlement, increased police efficiency, improvements in rail transport and communications technology, such as telegraphy, made it increasingly difficult for bushrangers to evade capture.
Among the last bushrangers was the Kelly Gang led by Ned Kelly, who were captured at Glenrowan in 1880, two years after they were outlawed.
In Australia, bushrangers often attract public sympathy (cf. the concept of social bandits). In Australian history and iconography bushrangers are held in some esteem in some quarters due to the harshness and anti-Catholicism of the colonial authorities whom they embarrassed, and the romanticism of the lawlessness they represented. Some bushrangers, most notably Ned Kelly in his Jerilderie letter, and in his final raid on Glenrowan, explicitly represented themselves as political rebels. Attitudes to Kelly, by far the most well-known bushranger, exemplify the ambivalent views of Australians regarding bushranging. Victoria's state cricket team adopted 'Bushrangers' as their team nickname in honour of those such as the Kelly Gang, who lived in the Victorian bush.
|Name||Lived||Area of activity||Fate|
|Locky Taylor "Gentleman Bushranger"||1799 – 4 May 1826||Van Diemen's Land (now known as Tasmania)||Captured by John Batman, hanged|
|John Whitehead||? – 1815?||Van Diemen's Land (now known as Tasmania)||Shot by soldiers; decapitated after death by Michael Howe (according to Whitehead's request)|
|Michael Howe||1787 – 21 October 1818||Van Diemans Land / Tasmania||Captured and killed by William Pugh and Thomas Worrall (convict)|
|Jack Bradshaw||1880||North West Slopes and New England regions, New South Wales||Died of old age|
|Mary Ann Bugg||1834–1905||Northern New South Wales||Lover of Captain Thunderbolt, died of old age|
|Joe Byrne, one of the Kelly Gang||1857–1880||North East Victoria||Shot by police|
|John Caesar||1764–1796||Sydney area||Shot|
|Martin Cash||c. 1808–1877||Tasmania||Prison sentence, released after 13 years|
|Clarke brothers||1840/1846-1867||New South Wales||Hanged|
|Edward Davis, Teddy the Jewboy||d.1841||Northern New South Wales||Hanged for murder 16 March 1841|
|John Donahue, known as Bold Jack Donahue||c. 1806–1830||Sydney area||Shot by police|
|John Dunn||1846–1866||Western New South Wales||Hanged|
|John Francis||c. 1825–?||Victoria Gold Fields (1853)||Released after giving Queen's Evidence|
|John Fuller, known as Dan Mad Dog Morgan||c. 1830–1865||New South Wales||Shot|
|Frank Gardiner||c. 1829–c. 1904||Western New South Wales||Prison sentence, then moved to California|
|John Gilbert||1842–1865||Western New South Wales||Shot by police|
|Jimmy Governor||1875–1901||New South Wales||Hanged|
|Ben Hall||1837–1865||Western New South Wales||Shot by police|
|Steve Hart, one of the Kelly Gang||1859–1880||North East Victoria||Probably suicide|
|Thomas Hobson, known as The Angel, Mark Angel||1859-1885||Coonamble, New South Wales||Shot|
|John James, alias Johnston||b. 1819||Hobson's Bay, Victoria||15 years' hard labour, free pardon after 6|
|Joseph Bolitho Johns, known as Moondyne Joe||c. 1828–1900||Western Australia||Numerous prison sentences, died a free man|
|Henry Johnson, known as Harry Power||1819–1891||North East Victoria||Prison sentence, released|
|Dan Kelly, brother of Ned Kelly||c. 1861–1880||North East Victoria||Probably suicide|
|Ned Kelly||c. 1854–1880||North East Victoria||Hanged|
|Frank McCallum, known as Captain Melville (many aliases)||1822–1857||Victorian Goldfields||Murder/Suicide by hanging in gaol|
|James Alpin McPherson, known as The Wild Scotchman||1842–1895||Gin Gin, Queensland||Died a free man|
|Johnny O'Meally||1843–1864||Western New South Wales||Shot by farmer|
|John Paid, known as Wolloo Jack||from Stanwell Park terrorised Sydney area in the 1820s|
|Frank Pearson, known as Captain Starlight||1837–1899||Northern and Western New South Wales||Prison sentence, released, accidentally poisoned himself while drunk|
|Sam Poo||?–1865||Coonabarabran, New South Wales||Hanged|
|Harry Redford, known as|
"Captain Starlight – The gentleman bushranger"
|c. 1842–1901||Longreach, Queensland||Found not guilty at trial|
|Codrington Revingstone||South-West Victoria (1850)|
|Billy Roberts (probably), known as Jack the Rammer||B?–1834||South Eastern New South Wales (1834)||Shot by a convict overseer.|
|Edward Russell||d.1826||Launceston, Tasmania||Shot and eaten by fellow bushrangers Thomas Jeffries and John Perry|
|Andrew George Scott, known as Captain Moonlite||1842–1880||near Gundagai, New South Wales||Hanged|
|Owen Suffolk||1829–?||Victoria||Shot in prison|
|Frederick Ward, known as Captain Thunderbolt||1835–1870||Northern New South Wales (1863–1870)||Shot by police|
|William Westwood, alias Jackey Jackey||1820–1846||Sydney and Southern Highlands, New South Wales||Hanged|
|Frederick Phillips (alias Samuel Ward)- 11th Regiment Soldier turned bushranger||1829–?||Western New South Wales (1860s)||unknown|
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