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Martin Cash was born at Enniscorthy, Wexford, Ireland in 1810. Both his parents had inherited considerable amounts of property and Martin grew up being partially educated and very much spoiled. In his autobiography Martin claimed that at the age of eighteen he became involved with a young woman named Mary who lived with her mother in an obscure part of town. Over a period of some twelve months he invested a considerable amount of money on them until one day he received word that his sweetheart was seeing another young man named Jessop. Full of jealousy and rage he grabbed his gun and on seeing them through the window, shot at his rival wounding him in the upper chest. He was shortly after arrested and sentenced to seven years transportation.
His convict record on the other hand shows that he was sentenced to seven years transportation for house-breaking. Regardless of the real story he left Cook Harbour aboard the "Marquis of Huntley" and arrived at Botany Bay on 10 February 1828.
He was assigned to Mr G Bowman, and worked as a stockman on a property on the banks of the Hunter River, about 150 miles from Sydney. After receiving a ticket-of-leave, he continued his job as stockman and about that time moved in with a Bessie Clifford.
Sometime later a man named Boodie enlisted his help to brand some cattle and whilst carrying out the job were visited by two men. After they left Boodie informed Martin that the animals weren't his and that those two men would know that. Martin was very concerned for his future and knowing that he would be under suspicion for cattle stealing, sold up everything and on 10 February 1837, he and Bessie boarded the barque 'Francis Freeling' and sailed for Tasmania. After staying in Hobart for three months they then moved to several locations as a working couple but Martin was soon in trouble again and sentenced to a further seven years. He shortly after escaped and on being captured received a further eighteen months to his sentence. He escaped once more and while trying to make his way to Melbourne with Bessie, was recaptured and a further two years were added to his sentence. Martin did not like being imprisoned and by his record had developed into a hard case and as a consequence was sent to Port Arthur. After his first attempt to escape almost succeeded, he met Lawrence Kavanagh and George Jones. On 26 December 1842, the trio managed to escape from Port Arthur and became notorious as 'Cash and Company'. Over the following twenty months, the bushrangers carried out numerous robberies.
Sometime in 1843, Martin learnt of Bessie Clifford's unfaithfulness and he was determined to kill her and Joe Pratt, her new lover. Disguising themselves as sailors Martin and Kavanagh went to Hobart to find Bessie, but were almost arrested. Kavanagh was injured in the affray and gave himself up. Cash returned to Hobart on the evening of 29 August, and once more was recognised by two constables. He may have escaped but ran into Melville Street which was blocked at one end by the Prisoners Barracks. A former ticket-of-leave holder, now Police Constable Peter Winstanley, heard the commotion and stepped outside of the bar of the Old Commodore. Seeing Cash with a pistol in his hand he went to grab him, but Cash fired and the bullet mortally wounded Winstanley through the left breast. The constables and several civilians now caught up with Cash and were forced to knock him out in order to subdue him.
Cash and Kavanagh were brought before Justice Montagu on 14 September whereupon both men were sentenced to death. But only an hour before their execution they were postponed and their sentence changed to transportation to Norfolk Island. Kavanagh continued to be rebellious and was hanged for being part of an abortive escape plan. Cash on the other hand became a changed man and kept out of trouble. In 1852 he was considered to be trustworthy and appointed a convict overseer. Now that he had more freedom he met Mary Bennet, a domestic servant to one of the government officials, and they were married on 24 March 1854.
As Norfolk Island was now to be closed down all remaining convicts were slowly being sent back to Tasmania. Martin Cash was promoted to a Constable on 31 July 1854, and he received a ticket-of-leave on 19 September and returned to Tasmania with his wife. He could have continued to be a constable in Hobart but chose an appointment to be overseer of the gardens in the Government Domain.
In 1855 a son Martin was born to the couple and on 24 June 1856, the ex-bushranger was granted a Conditional Pardon and a month later a Free Pardon. He and his wife left Hobart and went to New Zealand where they remained for four years. After returning to Tasmania with a little money, he purchased 60 acres on the banks of Montrose Creek, at Glenorchy, on which to retire. During this period he wrote his autobiography which was published under the title, "Martin Cash, the Bushranger of Van Diemen's Land, In 1843".
But Martin's comfortable life was to take a tragic turn when his son died of rheumatic fever on 6th July 1871, causing Martin to become an alcoholic. He finally died at the Lord Rodney Hotel on 27 August 1877 at the age of 69.
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