The Clarke Brothers Bushrangers Trial And Sentencing

Events - Judgement In 1850's Australia


The  trial on 28 May 1867 only lasted one day. Chief Justice of NSW, Sir Alfred Stephen was known to be especially concerned about the crime of bush-ranging, in particular Frank Gardiner, and had most to do with the drafting of the "Felons' Apprehension Act".

List of Offences:

Thomas: exclusive of the 7 murders of which he was suspected, including that of Constable O'Grady, 9 robberies of mails, 36 robberies of individuals including Chinamen, labourers, publicans, storekeepers, tradesmen and settlers,

John's offences in one year numbered 26 and his possible implication in the unexplained murder of four specials. On March 13th 1865, the Araluen Gold Escort was attacked by the gang on the Majors Creek Mountain Road, and four troopers were shot dead. Two of the remaining troopers held off the attack and the gold was delivered to the Bank of New South Wales at Braidwood.

It was stated in evidence that "when Thomas Clarke fired, John Clarke fired immediately afterwards... with the intent to kill and wound the constables...".
The jury took 1 hour and 7 minutes to find both brothers guilty.


Before passing sentence, Sir Alfred Stephens pointed out that the Clarkes were to be hanged, not as retribution, but because their deaths were necessary for the peace, good order, safety and welfare of society. Their fate was to serve as a warning to others. He then pointed out the list of their offences over the 2 previous years.