Benjamin Thomas Bridge 1863-1950
Benjamin Bridge was born at Stockyard Creek in the Wollombi district of New South Wales
on the 31 May 1860.
One of seven children and second son of Hawkesbury born Joseph Bridge Jnr.1835-1923
Joseph Bridge Jnr was the son of Parramatta born Joseph Bridge 1814-1891 and
grandson of convict Joseph Bridge 1776-1829
Benjamin's mother was Sarah Jane Payne 1839-1899. Sarah Jane born at
Payne's Crossing New South Wales was the daughter
of Convict Edward Payne 1800-1880 and Ann Hanratty 1823-1913.
Benjamin married 1st cousin, Bertha Amelia Teresa Australia Medhurst 1865?1932,
at Inverell on the 25 June 1881. The daughter of George Medhurst 1838-1888
and Ann Matilda Bridge 1839-1927.
Ann Matilda Bridge and Benjamin's father Joseph Bridge Jnr. were brother
The couple managed to have seven children in Inverell between 1879 and 1909,
in spite of the fact the police never seemed to know where he was.
Francis Robert Medhurst/Bridge 1879?1927
Alice Maud Bridge 1884?1951
Annie May Bridge 1886?1945
Benjamin William Bridge 1889 1936
Hilton Victor Joseph Bridge 1891?1985
Clarice Evelyn Edith Bridge 1892?1985
Walter Edward Alexander Bridge 1904?1978
Cecil Meldorn Bridge 1909?1963
Benjamin died in Tamworth, New South Wales on the 25 August 1950.
The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser, Thursday 4 February 1892.
At Scone last week Benjamin Bridge, a well-known horse-trainer, arrested
at his residence by Senior-sergeant Coady, was brought up on a charge of
horse stealing from the properties of Thomas Cook and Bakewell Bros.
Upon the application of the police, the prisoner was remanded till Saturday
for the production of evidence. Two others, alleged to be implicated, are said
to have been arrested up the country, and the evidence is likely to be of
a sensational nature.
The Maitland Mercury, Thursday 3 March 1892.
Benjamin Bridge, found guilty of stealing a colt of Wm. Bakewell,
recovered at Mogil Mogil, was remanded for sentence, and on a second
charge of stealing a horse of Thos. English, the jury are still locked up.
Singleton Argus, Wednesday 9 March 1892
THE ESCAPE FROM THE MURRURUNDI GAOL
Benjamin Bridge in Trouble.
The Murrurundi Times of Saturday last says: ?"On Thursday evening,
about-half-past 5 o'clock some excitement was caused in Murrurundi
by a report that a prisoner had escaped from the local gaol and the
hurrying of the foot and mounted police in pursuit.
On enquiry we learned that Benjamin Bridge, who had on the previous
day been found guilty of horse stealing on two charges and sentenced
to 10 years penal servitude, had escaped from gaol by scaling the wall.
The gaol wall is about 15 feet high. Bridge was confined with three other
prisoners in the yard all day, and closely watched by gaoler Gall. About
1 o'clock the prisoners were given their tea, and about 5 o'clock were
provided with water, when they were alright, and the gaoler sat down to
wait till half-past 5, the time at which the prisoners are locked up for
the night. In the interval Bridge quietly effected his escape by scaling
the front wall at its junction with the main building. There is a small
cell window at this corner about 9 feet from the ground, the sill of which
projects several inches, the eaves of the roof being a couple of feet higher;
about 18 inches from the ground the base course projects a couple of inches.
It is surmised that Bridge, who is a pretty smart fellow, reached the window
sill by spring from the base course, and then with the aid of the other prisoners
and a broom got on the roof, and once there to climb over the remaining portion
of the wall and drop down on the other side was easy enough. The es cape seems
to have been well planned, as the other prisoners at once retired to their
cells to avert suspicion.
Immediately on escaping Bridge crossed the garden in front of the gaol,
leapt lightly over the fence, decended the steep bank there, and proceeded
along the river, to Messrs Stuart and M'Fadyen's residences, and thence in
the direction of the Chinamen's gardens, but here all trace of him was lost.
He was seen crossing the garden in front of the gaol by Mrs Brennan, who,
believing something was wrong gave the alarm to the sergeant, who was returning
from the railway station but some minutes elapsed before the prisoner was missed,
and he got a good start. Although we shall be glad to hear of the prisoner's
speedy capture It is hardly likely he will be retaken in a hurry.
No blame attaches to the gaoler."
Singleton Argus, Wednesday 9 March 1892
BENJAMIN BRIDGE WANTED.
?50 Reward. [By Telegraph]. Sydney, Tuesday.
The Government have offered a reward of ?50
for the capture of the man Bridge, sentenced
to 10 years' for horse stealing, and who escaped
from the Murrurundi gaol on the 3rd instant.
Australian Town and Country Journal,Saturday 12 March 1892.
The Government has offered a reward of ?50 for information leading
to the recapture of Benjamin Bridges, alias Texas Jack, a prisoner
under sentence of 10 years for horse-stealing, who, on the 3rd instant,
effected his escape from the gaol at Murrurundi.
He is described as about 29 years of age, 5 feet 8 inches high,
fair complexion, small sandy beard and moustache, grey eyes, rather bow-legged
Australian Town and Country Journal, Saturday 20 August 1892
Recapture of a Prisoner.
Murrurundi, Tuesday.?The man Benjamin Bridge, who was sentenced to
10 years' penal servitude and two days later escaped from
Murrurundi Gaol, has been recaptured at Burketown, Queensland.
Northern Star, Wednesday 14 September 1892.
DARING ESCAPE FROM GAOL.
AT Burketown (Queensland) on Friday morning a most daring escape was made by a prisoner
named Benjamin Bridge from the police barracks.
It appears that about 12 months ago Bridge escaped from Murrurundi Gaol in
New South Wales when he was under sentence of 10 years' imprisonment for
The fugitive successfully evaded the police until some six weeks back,
when he was captured by the local police at Riversleigh Station.
A New South Wales police officer arrived on Thursday, and had identified
the prisoner, intending to take him to Sydney by the next boat, to avoid this,
the prisoner set fire to his cell and gave the alarm. Senior-constable M'Grath,
who was the only constable on the premises, opened the cell and removed
the prisoner, who after a desperate resistance was manacled and chained to the
In the mean time, in spite of willing assistance, the whole of the barracks were
in flames. M'Grath with others then went to the rescue of his wife and family,
and of the court records, books, &c. During the con fusion the prisoner escaped,
making for the man groves, where he disappeared, and has not yet been re-captured.
He is 30 years of age, and is said to have been 22 times before a jury, the present
being his fourth escape from custody. He informed the New South Wales officer that
he would never take him to Sydney.
Nothing now remains on the site of the courthouse and the barracks but a heap
of smouldering ruins.
Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA), Thursday 4 January 1900.
A NOTORIOUS CRIMINAL. ARRESTED AT DENHAM RIVER. PERTH, Dec. 31. 1899
On Saturday the Commissioner of Police received a telegram from Derby
stating that Constable Freeman had just arrived at Wyndham with the
notorious Benjamin Bridge whom he had arrested at Denham River.
Bridge is an escapee from Brisbane gaol, who regained his freedom in 1892.
He is a notorious horse and cattle thief, and during the last seven years
he is reported to have been carrying on cattle duffing on a large scale
in the Northern territory of the Kimberley district.
He has successfully evaded capture for seven years, and is regarded by
the police as an exceptionally dangerous criminal.
Western Mail, Perth, WA. Saturday 24 March 1900.
A NOTORIOUS GAOL-BREAKER
ADELAIDE, March 16. 1900
Among the passengers by the s.s. Marloo, from Western Australia,
on Friday, were two New South Wales sergeants of police with four
of the mother colony criminals in their charge.
One, - Benjamin Bridge, has a black record. He escaped in 1893 from
Murrurundi gaol, while undergoing a sentence of ten years' imprisonment
for horse stealing. He was re-arrested at Burke, in Northern Queensland,
eighteen months later, but again escaped by burn- ing down the lock-up
in which he was incarcerated. For over four years he eluded capture; although,
the police were most vigilant through all Queensland and New South Wales.
Recently, however, he was brought to bay in the Kimberley district of
Western Australia by Constable Freeman, who, by the way, gained promotion by
his smartness in the matter.
The other prisoners in charge of the sergeants are charged with ordinary wife
desertion. On the arrival of the s.s. Marloo at Port Adelaide they were lodged
in the police cells for safe keeping. They will rejoin the vessel just
previous to the resumption of the voyage eastwards.
Singleton Argus, NSW. Tuesday 10 April 1900.
THE ESCAPEE BRIDGE.
Sentenced to Two Years.
Benjamin Bridge, who had pleaded guilty at the Darlinghurst Quarter Sessions
on Friday to escaping from Murrurundi Gaol in 1892 was brought
up for sentence in the afternoon Mr Levien asked Judge Heydon to
deal leniently with the prisoner. It was now eight years since he had
escaped, and the term of six years to which he was sentenced had expired.
Bridge had been living an honest life in W. Australia, and, indeed had
discovered a property which would in all probability have made him independent
for life had he been left undisturbed. His wife, as good a woman as ever
lived, and to whom Bridge had constantly remitted money, had travelled
to Sydney to see him and he trusted that his Honor would take these
matters into consideration in passing sentence.
His Honor Judge Haydon said that, while there was no moral indignation against
a man for escaping yet it, of course, was flouting the law and could not
be passed over. He would be as lenient a possible, the sentence to be imposed
would be two years.
He was not satisfied as to the evidence of Bridge's good character since he escaped,
and if Mr. Levien could produce evidence that he had been an upright man during
that time, he would recommend the Minister for Justice; to reduce the sentence.
the Northern Territory Times was not available in Sydney
Northern Territory Times and Gazette (Darwin, NT) Friday 12 January 1900.
Ben Bridge, the `Out-law.'
The recent capture of Benjamin Bridge by Mounted Constable Freeman in East Kimberley, W.A.,
brings a climax to the wrong-doings of a very notorious character.
Bridge hails from northern New South Wales, where he once raced horses.
A friend leased him some racers on one occasion for a meeting at a neighbouring town,
but fortune frowned, and to satisfy the demands of his landlord he sold him the
horses. Subsequently he stole the horses from the landlord and gave them back
to the rightful owner! Gaol followed, but he broke it and turned into Queensland,
where 'the feeling' came on him again, and he eventually got into Burketown gaol
for horse stealing.
Not long after he was celled here the gaol caught fire and was burnt down,
some say from the inside, some from the outside. To save Bridge he was
taken out and chained to a post. When the fire was subdued the police went to
remove Bridge, and found he had vanished.
It is generally agreed that the prisoner swam the river, with heavy irons and all on,
and then walked 60 miles to a camp where his chains were knocked off. At all events
the police never saw him again. Bridge moved down to Western Queensland, where he took
jobs at station work. From there he gravitated into the Territory, and spent some time
on the cattle runs at stockman's work. His identity was pretty well known, though his
name was mostly 'McDonald.' He was gradually moving west, and on the way called at all
the police camps for the latest papers! From Newcastle Waters he had a mate who was
drowned in Murrenji Waterhole. Bridge reported this to M.C. O'Keefe, at the Victoria,
who, investigated the matter but couldn't find the body. There was nothing to warrant
further enquiry, consequently O'Keefe had no scruples about letting Bridge camp
close to the police quarters, particularly as he seemed a decent sort of chap. He
even swapped horses with him, giving Bridge, amongst others, the one-time racer Bluegown,
with which, curiously enough, he lost a ?20 match to a western member of the force later on.
After spelling a bit, Bridge moved on into Western Australia, about four years ago.
One story says that he 'gammoned green' about horses while, employed on one station,
until he got a bet on about breaking in a lot of colts. He spent some time poisonings
dingoes, and is said to have collected, ?200 worth of tails in a very short time.
Not long after his arrival in the west he dropped on the police sergeant's camp
and turned out for a while, boldly faced the camp and sat down and engaged in
conversation with the sergeant. After he had been in camp some time the
sergeant, who must have had a keen scent, advanced to Bridge, put his
hand on his shoulder, and was proceeding to deal out the usual formula 'I
arrest you in the Queen's name ' and so forth, when Bridge wriggled free, and with a
parting 'Not yet' cleared for a creek close by, where his boy had just brought his
horses, picking up a revolver from his pack as he ran. The sergeant, in following the outlaw,
kicked his foot against a stiff grass tussock and got a spill, and when he
rose again Bridge was mounted and gone.
After that, but little was heard of Bridge, no one really seemed to
trouble about him. He had done no harm there, he could pitch a pitiful tale, he was
a great hand with horses, and in short the whole district stood to him rather than otherwise.
He came and went on the stations like a free man, camped where he pleased in apparent safety,
and if he wanted to attend the annual races at Wyndham, well, he simply stood a little back
from the crowd. Where everyone helped the fellow the police had what is some times
called 'Buckley's chance' of catching him. But by and bye the feeling began to change.
There were things happening which could not be accounted for. Valuable stock disappeared
mysteriously from their accustomed haunts, and kept on vanishing for a long time before
anyone would admit Bridge to have a hand in it. 'Billy,' as he was called in the West,
wouldn't do such a thing ; but faith in him soon turned to anger against him when
indisputable evidence of his treachery was produced from time to time.
There were even then a few of a sort who helped him whenever they could against the police.
Three months ago or a little better the Wild Dog police, Freeman and M'Ginley, made an excursion after 'Billy ' and came upon him near Argyle station.
'Well Freeman,' says he, 'are you going to take me this time!' To which Freeman said 'I'm going to have
a hard try,' and the chase began. Bridge was well mounted, while the troopers had scrags
that couldn't head a duck. The result was that after a long stern chase first Freeman's
horse and then McGinley's dropped down exhausted, just when the outlaw's mount could only
be kept going by plenty of flogging. A black tracker was sent on to keep Bridge in sight,
but darkness beat him, and by cutting a wire fence he gave his pursuers the slip.
I was at Rosewood when the police came that night, horses and men were tired out ;
'Billy' had gone towards Newry, on the N.T. border.
Next morning the police crossed over into the Territory to hunt for Bridge's main camp,
supposed to be somewhere near Auvergne. Though they lost 'Billy' the
day before they managed to secure his packs and a boy, and the boy was useful as a guide.
Their mission resulted in securing another of Bridge's black boys and some more of his
horses and packs. This boy, Larry by name, was afterwards used by Freeman to track down
the outlaw. At this stage Trooper McGinley fell sick and had to go into hospital at Wyndham.
Freeman, after the lapse of some days got on Bridge's tracks again and followed him to Turkey Creek,
the station owned by his brother, where the scent soon got red hot.
Bridge held out as long as he could, even after Freeman had secured his last horse:
but he was run down eventually and safely landed in Wyndham gaol (where his brother Joseph
is serving a sentence) last week in December. His 'pals' declared he would shoot rather than
be taken alive; he vowed the same thing himself, but so far as is known there was no firing before the capture.
The district is well rid of a most expert horse and cattle thief, and his capture is all the
more creditable because he could ride with any man in Australia, was always well horsed, and
had several staunch confederates who never hesitated to shelter him. It was the common talk
of the district that if Bridge had acted 'on the square ' no man's hand would have been turned
against him. It would complicate matters very much if he broke gaol at Wyndham, but his past
history ought to show the need for taking extra precautions against such an untoward