Lower Murrumbidgee Report

The Sydney Morning Herald

9 November 1846

October 27.

In my last communication I alluded to the capture, by Messrs. Edwin and Alfred Tompson, of a notorious scoundrel, supposed to be the murderer of the old turnkey of Parramatta Gaol.

The apprehension of this man reflects the highest credit on the parties who took him into custody, and at great personal trouble and inconvenience, and without the aid of police, delivered him into safe keeping to the authorities of Yass.

The following is a detail of the occurrence:

The prisoner, who turns out to be Cashan alias Nowlan, (who escaped from the Weatherboard Hut on his way to Sydney from Bathurst, where he had been sentenced at the assizes to transportation for life, and robbed a station of Dr. Nicholson's, near Gundagai, taking property to a considerable amount belonging to the man in charge, and with the plunder secured before him on a horse, pushed down the Murrumbidgee.

The man who was robbed, and whose name is Andrews, having received information of the scoundrel's route, followed him, and reached Mr. Charles Simpson's cattle station, on which Messrs, Alfred and Edwin Tompson resided.

Here Andrews ascertained that Cashan had not passed, and whilst receiving directions for his route to Mr. Tompson's head station, the robber, with the property on his horse, hove in sight, Andrews having passed him somewhere upon the road, without being aware of it.

As he advanced Andrews identified the robber, and retreated into the hut to prevent Cashan observing him; on the latter riding up to obtain refreshment, (which he did boldly enough,) Messrs. Tompson took him prisoner.

They were not aware at this time, that there was any other charge against the fellow than that of robbing Dr. Nicholson's station, but Cashan's conduct convinced them he was a desperate character, and that some more serious crime than the one in question rested upon him.

On being told "he must consider himself a prisoner," he blustered and bullied, and being well dressed, attempted to personate the ill-used and insulted gentleman; but finding this "no go", he made a desperate effort to escape, by plunging into the Murrumbidgee, which was then in flood, and more than twice its ordinary width.

Nothing but the dread of fearful consequences from his apprehension could have induced any man to attempt so desperate a deed as this, clothed as this man was in a top coat over his other garments.

The stream flowed with great rapidity, and although Cashan uttered a laugh of exultation and derision when he plunged into the water, he was but a few yards from the brink ere the stream overpowered his most desperate efforts, and he sank.

He rose to the surface some yards down the stream, and being washed near a large oak-tree, whose boughs were pendulous, succeeded in catching hold of one, and with great difficulty reached a fork of the tree, where he sat and recovered himself.

He did not relish trusting himself in the river, but as it was necessary he should get back, Mr. Edwin Tompson expedited his movements by proposing to shoot him where he was, if he preferred that to the risk of drowning; and after some consideration, and rather unpleasant threats, aided by significant allusions to a couple of true barrels, which opened their iron mouths with a very persuasive knock down expression and gesture, he preferred water to lead, and swam back to his captors.

He was then handcuffed, and on the following day Mr. Alfred Tompson, accompanied by Andrews, started with him to Yass. Before reaching that place he made sundry efforts to escape, by attempting to break his handcuffs, &c.; but he was in good hands, and was safely handed over by Mr. Tompson to the Yass authorities.

At the Police Office he was identified as the man who burnt Dr. Bell's house at Braidwood; robbed the Braidwood and Bathurst mails, (in which last exploit he nearly perpetrated murder); and affected his escape from the Weatherboard Hut. There are large rewards for his apprehension.

He is suspected to have been concerned in the murder of the unfortunate man Davis, of Burrowa; and as Cashan has turned Queen's evidence, and has already implicated a great many persons as his accomplices in some dreadful deeds, it is expected this fearful cold-blooded murder will be at length brought to light.

This scoundrel has been carrying on horse-stealing throughout this district to a great extent, and appears to be inclined now to make restitution, for he is "peaching and no mistake," and the next census will show a deficiency among the "little settlers," I expect, in consequence of his information.


Shearing has commenced generally throughout this district. The price given is 3s. per score, and 5s. per day for washing.

At these rates the labourers find their own provisions.

The wool is for the most part well got up, but the grass seed, which is ripening rapidly, threatens to deteriorate the wool considerably before the business of the season is over.

The weather has been excessively sultry during the last fortnight, and rain is now much wanted.