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The story appears in The Sydney Gazette in 1803. The original article is more colourful and true to its time than my re-telling and well worth looking up on the NATIONAL LIBRARY of AUSTRALIA site.

It seems that 15 Labouring Men took off from the Agricultural Settlement at Castle Hill on the 15th Feb 1803. Having done so they took to committing acts of atrocity and of violence.

They forcibly entered the house of M. Declame. The men ransacked the house, stripped it of plate and wearing apparel and some firearms. They took provisions and liquors. Spirituous and Vinous. They drank it and wasted it in the house.

Off they went to the farm houses of Bradley and Bean at Balkham Hills. They wantonly and inhumanely discharged a pistol at the serving man of Mr Bradley. This rendered his face a “ ghastly spectacle” .

In Mrs Bean’s house – they “ gave aloose to sensuality, equally brutal and unmanly”. In the words of the Gazette – “ resistance was of no avail for their rapacity was unbridled”.

The Gazette does not hesitate to call the men BANDITTI. However – the certain tread of justice was close behind them. Two of them were nabbed on the second day after their flight from the Agricultural Centre. They were taken on the Hawkesbury Road by Mr Jamieson Jnr, A. Thompson ( Chief Constable at Hawkesbury) and a party of the Military.

On the 23 Feb, 1803, 11 more “ desperadoes” were secured. They were between Hawkesbury and the Mountains. A body of natives had given information about the Haunt of the Fugitives. During their time on the loose, they had broken into a settler’s cottage and ground wheat after securing the family. They stripped the house and carried off provisions and arms.

All the captured men were taken before the Bench , fully committed and taken to Sydney for trial , “ under a sufficient guard. “

( Seems to me 11 plus 2 equals 13. I do not know what happened to the remaining two.)

At this point the Gazette calls it justice to the Prisoners at large in the Colony to observe that the banditti was entirely composed of IRISH prisoners brought by the HERCULES and the ATLAS.

Now – my own ancestor Ann Moran came out on that HERCULES arriving in 1801.