| Home | Bushrangers Index |
HENRY JOHNSTONE (alias Harry Power)
Henry was born in Waterford, Ireland, in 1819. He was working as a labourer in a mill at Ashton (near Manchester in England), but at 21 years of age he was sentenced to seven years transportation for stealing a pair of shoes. He arrived on the ship "Isabella" to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) in 1842. After five years he was granted a ticket-of-leave and came over to the Colony of New South Wales, where he worked as a cattle drover. Eventually he made it to Geelong (then still part of NSW, today Victoria), where he settled as a horse dealer. In 1855, Henry was at Daisy Hill, in the Maryborough District, probably visiting one of his half-sister's when two troopers asked him for the receipt of the splendid horse he was riding. Although Harry later produced a receipt for the animal, he spurred his horse and after exchanging a shot with the police managed to loose them. He was arrested at Yarrawonga and on 26th September sentenced to thirteen years gaol. Some of his time was spent on the prison hulks, and on the 26th October 1856, he was involved in an incident which led to the death of Constable Owen Owens by a convict named "Melville", and the death of a sailor named Turner. Eight convicts were charged with the murders, including prisoner number 2643, Henry Johnstone. Lucky for Henry he was found not guilty.
Harry received his ticket-of-leave on 25 March 1862 and he headed for the Geelong District. Nothing more was heard of him until June 1863, when he turned up at Middle Creek (between Wooragee and Wodonga), and stayed with Mrs Joanna McKay of the Middle Creek Hotel. While there, he stole a horse belonging to the El Dorado Station. He was charged on December 17th, and sentenced to twelve months gaol. But the law had not finished with Harry, as a horse stolen from Wodonga station had turned up at Harrietville. The trail led to Harry, who was brought before the Beechworth Court on 19th February 1864, and he was once again found guilty. Harry's past had also caught up with him, and the court was told of the sentence at Maryborough and that he was a ticket-of-leave holder at large. Harry was sentenced to seven years on the roads.
On 16th February, 1869, Harry absconded from a bridge building gang near Pentridge Prison and after stealing a horse, escaped into the Dandenong Ranges.
While in Pentridge, he had met two brothers, Thomas and John "Jack" Lloyd from Greta in Victoria. They were the uncles of Ned Kelly and were serving a five year sentence each for cattle stealing. Shortly after his escape, Harry turned up in the north-east visiting his old inmates under the alias of "Harry Power". He was introduced to the Lloyds' brother-in-laws, John and James Quinn, who owned Glenmore Station on the Upper King River near Whitfield. Because of its remoteness, Harry set up a permanent camp on the steep hill at the back of Glenmore Homestead, now known as Power's Lookout, and richly rewarded the brothers for harbouring him.
From this point Harry became a full time bushranger, who was responsible for numerous hold-ups and robberies, for stealing horses, and bailing up mail coaches. He was not only an excellent bushman and horseman, but also a great showman who boasted about his exploits, and liked to sing:
"We might sing of young Gilbert, Dan Morgan, Ben Hall,
but the bold, reckless robber surpasses them all.
The pluck that's in Power is past all belief.
Daring highwayman! Professional thief!"
Although he never committed a murder, and he very seldom took money from the poor, he possessed an extremely violent temper. Ned Kelly (who was barely fifteen when Power introduced him to the life of crime), described how much he had been frightened of him. Ellen Kelly, who despised Power, called him a "brown-paper bushranger", but he was indeed the most notorious bushranger in Victoria's colonial history, who taught Ned Kelly how to survive and elude the police!
Harry Power eventually dropped Ned (so he said), calling him a coward, and pursued his "career" alone. Ned said that he left Power after he lost his temper, because he was frightened of him. Ned's
was probably the more accurate account but his actions did not save him from being arrested in May 1870 for assisting Power, and despite his feelings he didn't betray his "teacher" - someone else did....
Harry felt safe in his gunyah above the Quinns' homestead, because they had several dogs and a noisy peacock, who would notify them of any strangers in the area. Finally, the Quinns had had enough of Power and with a £500 reward on offer, it didn't take much persuasion of "Jack" Lloyd to lead the police to Power's hideout.....
Harry was arrested in June 1870, tried and sentenced to fifteen years, which he served on the prison hulk "Success" and in Pentridge. He was convinced that it was Ned Kelly who had "dobbed him in", but this was not the case. When he was released in 1885, he went to live with his half-sister in Brighton. At that time the Government decided to sell the hulk "Success", which was converted to a floating museum, with "Old Harry" being employed there as the main attraction.
One of the most surprising things about "Old Harry" was the fact that his mother was transported to Van Diemen's Land only six months after he was, and with her had been sent three daughters and a son, who were placed in an orphanage until her release. When Harry moved to Victoria, they all followed and the authorities never knew of their family connection until one of them, Margaret Slater, penned a letter on 14th March 1877, trying to get Harry released from gaol into her care.
Many of Harry's movements were as a direct consequence of keeping in touch with his family, which he continued right up until his death. On Saturday 10th October, 1891, Harry arrived at Swan Hill by train in order to visit his nephew and most likely his half-sister, living out towards Ultima. He stayed at the White Swan Hotel, but made no mention of why he was really there. He was last seen alive on Monday when he purchased a bottle of English Ale. The following Sunday the steamer "Rothbury" found his body floating about ten miles downstream from Swan Hill. Following an inquest he was buried in a paupers grave, identity unknown. But a report forwarded to the Chief Commissioner resulted in the authorities forming the consensus, that the once notorious bushranger, Harry Power, was now dead.
| Home | Bushrangers Index |
Glen Rowen Cobb & Co Pty Ltd
37 Gladstone Street, Glenrowan, Victoria, Australia, 3675
Phone 03 5766 2409 Fax 03 5766 2650
Copyright © 1999,
2000 WebEffects. All rights
Revised: 19 September, 1999