Was Richard Ashe the man Butler? Was Ashe the Bardoc Murderer? :: FamilyTreeCircles.com Genealogy
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Was Richard Ashe the man Butler? Was Ashe the Bardoc Murderer?

Journal by janilye


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.


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.


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.


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.


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-Wellerone of Butler's alleged victimsfound, 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.


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.


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 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. 10in., while that of the supposed Bardoc murderer was given at 6ft. 2in. These considerations seem effectually to dispose of the theorynatural under the circumstancesthat 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 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.
Stay tuned

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by janilye Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2011-08-07 04:02:04

janilye - 7th generation, Convict stock. Born in New South Wales now living in Victoria, carrying, with pride 'The Birthstain'.

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by janilye on 2011-08-07 04:24:00

So.. who was the Bardoc Murderer? The victim was I R Miell whose remains were re-buried at Grant's Patch -south of Ora Banda in Western Australia

by tonkin on 2011-08-07 05:19:54

I'm still checking the crime scene.

by ngairedith on 2011-08-07 05:28:32

the victim's name was ISAAC ROBERT MIELL

by janilye on 2011-08-07 06:03:46

Correct ng
Name: Isaac Roberts Miell
Birth: 29 May 1845 - Worcester, England
Death: 24 September 1894 - Coolgardie, Western Australia, Australia
Marriage: 29 Nov 1872 - Ivington, Herefordshire), England
Parents: George Miell, Mary Stephens
Spouse: Susan Watts

by tonkin on 2011-08-07 06:16:18

I knew that.

I thought you wanted to know the murderer.

by janilye on 2011-08-07 07:06:55

I do!! looking for a Swede or a German 6'2" and built like a brick--

by tonkin on 2011-08-07 07:14:46

I've worked it out ... it was the BUTLER.

by janilye on 2011-08-07 07:50:40


by ngairedith on 2011-08-07 10:17:47

The murder that was known as the Bardoc Murder was not committed in Bardoc at all but about 21km north from Bardoc and where, at that time, there was no gold being worked.

There were 3 prospectors in different localities around Katoomba in the Blue Mountains that were buried in the same manner as that at 'Bardoc' PRIOR to this murder and was why Butler was 'suspected' of having murdered in WA BUT these 3 men on the Blue Mountains had been shot !!!

Firstly, there appears to have been 2 murders near Bardoc about the same time/area that may have been confused:

1st account ... Tobin and a mate went up to Bardoc about 12 miles away and while working on a claim they noticed that two prospectors had apparently abandoned their claim and it had been filled in. Curiosity made Tobin uncover it and to his horror he found a body fully clothed. The head had been smashed in, presumably with a pick

2nd account ... While the party of prospectors were travelling in the neighbourhood of Bardoc towards Broad Arrow in August 1894, they saw a man working in a shallow hole on the side of a hill. The man seemed to be desirous of avoiding observation and the party at once came to the conclusion that he had struck something good and did not want it to be known. The party moved out of sight and then took up a position from which they could keep the man under observation. Their interest was considerably heightened when they saw him covering the hole in which he had been working with bushes. Towards evening the man disappeared and the party moved with all speed to investigate the hole before it got too dark. They started to remove the bushes but instead of finding another El Dorado they were horrified to see a man's legs, he had been foully murdered... the description given was that he seemed to be a foreigner about 6ft in height and built in proportion

Butler, who was known by many aliases (Ashe & Harwood amongst others) and who admitted to the murders in the Blue Mountains, was intercepted at San Francisco (after shipping out from Newcastle on board the 'Swanhilda' under the name of Lee Weller (Captain), the name of one of the men he had murdered!!) and was brought back to Sydney and hanged at Darlinghurst Gaol on 16 July 1897 (read janilye's description of Butler above).
At that time the police feebly suggested that he was the man who committed the myterious murders in the Bardoc district in Western Australia (note they said murders) because they never had a clue as to who did, yet, Butler was in gaol at the time of the Bardoc murder and in fact served 5, six month sentences in Fremantle prison to end 1895-early 1896
Whilst he was in the Darlinghurst Gaol in Sydney Butler received a letter from 'a German' who was a finisher at Midland Junction, West Australia. The letter was addressed to Butler, alias George English, Darlinghurst Gaol, Sydney, N.S.W. .... Well George Old Boy, I find that you got trapped at last ... more. It was signed E.F.C.R and accused Butler of having tried to poison him with strychnine. Butler and this German had worked together at the Prince Esmeralda mine at IOU until they had a falling out (IOU was a name given to what was later named Bulong)

NOTE Butler/Ashe/Harwood boasted of killing for a living. He lived in Brazil for 3 or 4 years and stated that he enticed persons with money and valuables to lonely spots and "popped them off". His choice of murder was always a bullet in the head (as opposed to a pick in the head)

by tonkin on 2011-08-08 01:26:05

Ok, it wasn't the BUTLER. That can only leave one person!

by janilye on 2011-08-08 10:20:50

I've since discovered that the date of death for Isaac MIELL
although registered in Coolgardie on the 24th actually occurred about the 19th or 20th. Since, we know Butler/Ashe didn't do it I'll add a couple of more suspects. I assume the registration was made by the police or coroner as it was in the name of Isaac Mill.
Which shows the police on the 24th had no idea who he really was.
Neither the victim's description or name was released to the public and there seemed to be no investigation held into his personal life. Of hundreds who viewed the body, only one person in the whole of Coolgardie recognised the man.

by Baams on 2015-08-11 09:04:16

Hi my name is Brian Bailey and I am the Great grandson Of Issac Roberts Miell. I would love to have more information on him if anyone has it. Our family book is very vague and over the last month or so I have found the details that is missing form the family book that was written in 1978 and 79. Issac's journal that he wrote on the journey from London to Adelaide is in the Adelaide liberty.

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