Daniel ‘Mad Dan’ Morgan 1833-1865
Below is a photograph of the dead Daniel MORGAN. He's propped up against a wool bail holding a pistol, the same pistol he took from sergeant MAGINNITY after he shot him at Tumberumba on the 24 June 1864.
This photograph was taken in the woolshed at Peechelba Station situated at the junction of the Ovens and Murray Rivers about 20 miles north of Wangaratta in Victoria.
Little is known about Daniel Morgan’s early years but it is thought he was the son of ex-convicts* and that he was born in 1833. He grew up in the Campbelltown area of New South Wales. He was first in trouble in 1854 when he held up a hawker at Castlemaine in Victoria. He was sentenced to 12 years with hard labour under the name of John SMITH, a Jockey. He spent this time on the prison hulk ‘Success’ where he lost the top joint of the third finger of his right hand. He was released after serving six years.
Morgan used several nicknames including ‘Sydney Jack’, ‘Down The River Jack’ and ‘Bill The Native’. But his final nickname ‘Mad Dan’ was given to him because of his violent mood changes. He could be kind and sentimental one minute and the next shoot a complete stranger in cold blood, as he did when he shot sergeant MAGINNITY, a stranger on the road who wished him “good morning”.
Mad Dan was 5’10” tall with a spare build and long dark brown hair and beard. On the back of his head he had a tumorous growth the size of a pigeon egg. His nose was a prominent hook and crooked and apart from his cold grey/blue eyes, was the first thing you noticed.
After his release from prison he began stealing horses and then holding up travellers on the road. In 1863 he was involved in a shootout with magistrate Henry BAYLISS, and the following year on the 19 June 1864 he held up a mail coach at Round Hill Station and shot John M’CLEAN a price of £500 was placed on his head.
Morgan once turned up at the homestead of an overseer whom he thought was collaborating with the police, his intention was to shoot him. However, the man was away on a cattle drive and his wife was there alone so Morgan demanded money from her, forcing her back against a blazing fire. When her clothes caught alight, Morgan watched and waited before throwing water on her. She survived but had severe burns to her back and legs.
Another time, Morgan held up a group of chinese workers and, forced them to sing and dance for him. He casually shot one of the men in the arm and he later died of blood poisoning.
By 1865 the bushranger was promising to “take the flashness out of the Victorian police” and crossed the Murray at Corowa and after several robberies in the area headed for Peechelba Station and the home of the MCPHERSON family. It was here that MORGAN met his end, as Alice KEENAN a housemaid of MCPHERSON was able to slip out of the house unobserved and run over to George RUTHERFORD , a squatter and part owner of Peechelba who lived close by. RUTHERFORD sent James FRAZER a carpenter with a note to Sergeant MONTFORD at Wangaratta, requesting police assistance. MONTFORD dispatched three policemen and twelve volunteers to Peechelba. They, along with Peechelba workers, staked out the MCPHERSON house waiting for Dan to come out.
Around 09:00am on the morning of the 9 April 1865,after Mrs. MCPHERSON cooked Dan a hearty breakfast, Morgan told MCPHERSON he wanted a horse to take him on his way. MCPHERSON offered to send his son Gideon to get one but Morgan said he preferred to choose his own.
The front door opened and two men who were cohorts of Morgan walked outside followed by MCPHERSON then MORGAN with Gideon at the rear in single file. They walked across the paddocks towards the stables, Morgan was walking between MCPHERSON and his son when MCPHERSON noticed the men under cover in the bushes. MCPHERSON stepped to the left away from Morgan and a shot rang out. Morgan was shot in the back by John WINDLAN ** The other men raced forward and disarmed MORGAN and carried him into the woolshed.
MORGAN was still alive and Doctor DOBBYN the coroner was sent for. Just after he arrived Morgan died.His last words when asked how he was feeling by Dr. DOBBYN were, "I'm choking".
The body was sewn in hessian and removed to Wangaratta where it was on display. About 100 people turned up to have a look at Mad Dan many taking locks of his hair as mementos. Then his head was cut off and sent to be cast.
• *Some historians think Morgan’s true name was Jack Fuller the illegitimate son of George Fuller and Mary Owen. There was no family to claim him when he died
• **there was a lot of uncertainty about the name of the sharpshooter some said his name was Quinlan and some say Windlaw but the reward of £500, paid by the government went to John Windlan. The housemaid who sounded the alarm also received £500
• The old rivalry between NSW and Victoria came to the fore with Victorians jubilant that they managed to catch Morgan after only 3 days in the state and New South Wales had been chasing him for years.
• This is a short bio to write the life of Mad Dan Morgan would fill a book, which of course has been done