Was Richard Ashe the man Butler? Was Ashe the Bardoc Murderer?
BUTLER IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA.
Butler, according to an old sailor, now resident in Newcastle, New South Wales, was at one time known as Richard Ashe, in which name he shipped about the year, 1893, in the barque, Olive Bank, at Rio de Janeiro. The barque was bound for the port of Newcastle, New South Wales, and during the voyage Ashe is represented to have given a great deal of trouble. On arrival at Newcastle he feigned illness, and on the captain taking him the prescribed medicine, Ashe flew into a violent temper, and threatened to take the master's life. For this offence he was charged at the Newcastle police court, and was sentenced to one month's imprisonment.
THE NEXT APPEARANCE OF ASHE.
A Richard Ashe, presumably the same man, next appears on the scene at Newcastle, Western Australia, where he was sentenced on the 28th of August, 1893, to six months imprisonment for unlawful possession. On the 8th of February, 1894, he again faced Mr. Adam, the Newcastle magistrate, on a similar charge. On this occasion he is alleged to have stolen a horse, saddle and bridle at Newcastle, and started on a journey with them to Perth. He did not, however, get past Guildford, where he was arrested with the stolen property in his possession. For this offence he was sentenced to six months' imprisonment with hard labour.
A RECORD OF CRIME.
In a small way Ashe was evidently bent on distinguishing himself in the criminal records of Western Australia. Apparently his term of incarceration at Fremantle had only ended when he journeyed to Northam. There he again committed offences which brought him in trouble with the authorities. Several petty larcenies had occurred from the tents of men who were camping in Northam, en route to the goldfields. Ashe was held under suspicion, and, on a favourable chance offering, was chased by the police to his tent, where a search disclosed that he had concealed much of the stolen property reported. He was, there- fore, again brought before the Newcastle magistrate on the 1st of September, 1894, and tried on three separate charges of larceny. In each case he was sentenced to six months' imprisonment with hard labour.
HIS CAREER IN FREMANTLE GAOL.
From inquiries made it appears that Richard Ashe served all his terms of imprisonment at Fremantle gaol. Questioned as to the character of the prisoner while under his charge, the superintendent of that institution, Mr. Samuel Hope, informed a representative of this paper that Ashe had been well behaved. Good behaviour, it appears, is often the characteristic of an old gaol-bird, as previous experience may have shown him the inutility of fighting against the powers that be. It does not, therefore, follow that good behaviour on the part of a prisoner is an outward visible sign of an inward invisible goodness. The front of Mr. Hope's present home is protected by a cement and iron fence, in the erection of which Ashe assisted.
DOINGS IN COOLGARDIE.
Ashe was released from Fremantle Gaol in about January 1896. It would then appear as if he worked his way on to the Coolgardie goldfield. There is strong pre- sumptive evidence that he was at Coolgardie on or about August, 1896; and, further, on his arrival in New South Wales he is reported to have shown jewellery made from gold which he represented he had obtained in Western Australia. At any rate, on the 2nd of December, 1896, the Sydney police received a telegram from Mr. Frank Horwood, mining engineer and assayer, of Coolgardie, informing them that a black bag had been stolen from him about 4 months previously, in which were contained his assayer's certificate from the Ballarat School of Mines. The bag contained other documents, but this telegram had special reference to the assayer's certificate. It appears that the Sydney police in tracking up Captain Lee-Weller—one of Butler's alleged victims—found, at one of the camps, an assayer's certificate in the name of Frank Horwood.
Hence the connection of Butler with Coolgardie. In this respect, it must also be remembered that Lee-Weller first came in touch with Butler, owing to an advertisement in a Sydney newspaper, where a prospector enquired for a mate. On answering the advertisement Lee-Weller met Butler, who, it is alleged, introduced himself as Frank Horwood, showing the purloined assayer's certificate as a proof of his identity.
RE-APPEARANCE IN NEW SOUTH WALES.
The next appearance of Butler, after the disappearance of Mr. Horwood's bag at Coolgardie, is recorded at Grafton in New South Wales, on the 15th of September, 1896. Here he represented himself as a prospector, and expressed himself well satisfied with the diggings in the locality, to which he promised to return. He is reported, whilst in this neighbourhood, to have presented to a fellow-traveller a mining map of New South Wales, on which was written the name of Frank Horwood. On the 19th of October he left Emu Plains station with young Preston, whose fate and that of Lee-Weller at a later date are now matters of common knowledge.
The embarkation of Butler under the name of Lee-Weller, en route to San Francisco, as a sailor on the Swanhilda, and the termination of his trip, are also matters on which the public have been kept fully informed.
WAS RICHARD ASHE THE MAN BUTLER?
It only now remains to investigate the reasons which lead to the inference that Richard Ashe, whose career in this colony has been referred to, and Butler of the Glenbrook tragedies, are one and the same man. Firstly, there is the statement of the old sailor at Newcastle, New South Wales, to the effect that Butler was known to him in 1893 as Richard Ashe.
Further, it appears that this same old sailor met him again in Newcastle in November, 1896, after the Glenbrook murders had been committed, and when Butler had booked as a sailor in the Swanhilda. It was on this occasion that Butler told his old shipmate that he had done well in Australia. On being asked how he had done so well Butler is alleged to have drawn two cartridges from his pocket and said, " This is how I got my living," with the significant addendum, "If they had any stuff on them it was only a matter of pinking them." The old sailor is positive that his shipmate Richard Ashe on the Olive Bank in 1893 was the same person who booked on the Swanhilda in the name of Butler. Further, the photographs and description issued by the Sydney police to the police of this colony of Butler, the alleged perpetrator of the Glenbrook tragedies, agree with the appearance of the man Richard Ashe, who served some two years in the Fremantle gaol. Both the Northam police, who arrested him, and Mr. Hope, Superintendent of the Fremantle Gaol, who saw him daily for two years, are emphatic on this point. Piecing these various items together, it would appear as if there is reasonable proof of the two names being used by the same man.
THE BARDOC MYSTERY. WAS BUTLER THE MURDERER?
The WEST AUSTRALIAN of 16th September, 1894, contained a telegraphic account of a supposed cold-blooded murder committed near Coolgardie. It appears that a digger was discovered apparently working a reef by himself in the bush near Bardoc, ten miles from the Broad Arrow. The party who discovered him asked permission to inspect the workings, but were refused. Their attention, however, was diverted by him to another alleged find, which after careful search they could not discover. The party returned to the scene of the solitary miner's labour, and concluded from his absence and the fact of the workings being newly filled in, that they were on a rich find. On reopening the workings a gruesome discovery was made. A corpse was revealed from hip to shoulder on one side, which discovery being made the hole was again filled in and the matter reported to the police.
The supposed murderer was reported to be of extraordinary appearance, being a fair German or Swede, standing 6ft. 2in. in height, and proportionately built. The police on their return confirmed the murder, and stated that the deceased had been killed by a terrific blow from a pick, which had gone through the skull with great force. The body was buried without identification, as out of a crowd of visitors who viewed it, only one had previously seen the deceased, but did not know his name. Some arrests ware made, but none of them led to anything, and eventually the murder became one of those mysteries which ever and anon crop up. A reference to the dates mentioned will show that this murder could scarcely have been committed, as has been suggested, by the alleged author of the Glenbrook tragedies. The Bardoc murder was committed in September, 1894, at which period Butler, or Ashe, was in Fremantle Gaol; also, the alleged Bardoc murderer was described by those who had seen him as a person of Herculean proportions, which Butler is not, his height being 5ft. 10½in., while that of the supposed Bardoc murderer was given at 6ft. 2in. These considerations seem effectually to dispose of the theory—natural under the circumstances—that the author of the Bardoc murder and the perpetrator of the Glenbrook tragedies were one and the same person.
Printed when Charlie Walsh died-Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 - 1954) Sunday 28 July 1918 p 16 Article
Charlie Walsh was a genial and popular pioneer of Bayley-street, where he ran a big store in conjunction with his brothers. It was the rendezvous of many of the prospectors who were probing the unknown wilderness north and north-east of Coolgardie, and Walsh Brothers were kept busy in fitting out the parties that were daily striking out to look for new El Dorados, it was Charlie Walsh who first brought in news of the Bardoc murder, which caused a great sensation in 1894. The body of a man was found in à shallow trench, with only a little earth hurriedly thrown upon It. The murderer disappeared, and was never traced, though there was some slight evidence to the effect that he was a German. When Charlie reached Coolgardie, he told the news, to a Journalist connected with the "Golden Age," but it was too late for that day's issue, which was printed, so the journalist resorted to strategy in order to prevent the only man with the information from putting it into the hands of Vosper or Billy Clare, who were running the opposition "Miner." A bottle of whisky was produced, also a roll of copy-paper, and between questions and answers and taking notes, insidious invitations to partake of the potheen ended in a journalist and bis prey going to sleep. But the situation was saved, "for" the "Golden Age" next day came out with the first intimation of "The Bardoc Murder.'*
As ASHE/BUTLER was in Fremantle prison at the time of the Bardoc Murder here are a couple of more SUSPECTS
The photo below- taken in Bailey St., Coolgardie out side The Miner Newspaper office about 1894.