Decline And Capture Of The Clarke Gang

Historical - Nelligen's Prison Tree
Historical - Nelligen Prison Tree of 1862

The Decline In The Fortunes Of The Clarke Gang:

Their run of luck ended with the conviction at Darlinghurst on 15th February 1867 of Tom Connell for the robbery and assault of John Emmott, when he stole 25 ounces of gold dust, two one-pound notes, some silver coins and a gold watch . The many other exploits of the "Blacksmith", including the death of Constable Miles O'Grady were ignored, but his death sentence was on appeal remitted to life imprisonment. In February 1867 Long Jim "Jemmy the Warrigal" a second member of the gang fractured his skull in an accident and died.


In late March 1867 the drought broke with floods which swept away steam engines, huts and mountains of earth. The remains of Billy Scott believed to have been murdered by his own gang, was found on April 9th, thus reducing the gang to two men, Tom and John Clarke. During April a police patrol led by Sergeant Wright and a "black-tracker" nicknamed Sir Watkin Wayne, followed information to Jinden Creek, and reached Berry's hut on Friday 26th April. After a shoot out on the Saturday morning, Constable Walsh called for their surrender.

(The surrender scene became the centerpiece of the Sydney Waxworks, with Tom shown with hand outstretched to meet Wright).

The reward for Tom Clarke had by then been raised to 1,000 pound and that for John to 500 Pound.
The brothers were arraigned in Braidwood and then taken by coach to the port of Nelligen where they were shackled to the prison tree. From Nelligen, the steamship conveyed the Clarkes to Sydney. On May 13th they appeared in court for their committal hearing, on wounding the black-tracker Sir Watkin Wayne, prior to their capture by Wright, Walsh, Egan and Lenehan.