| Home | Bushrangers Index |
John Vane was born near Fell Timber Creek (NSW) in 1842 to William Vane, a carpenter, and Ann née Miller. From childhood his best friend had been Michael "Micky" Burke, the son of a nearby farmer. John was one year older than "Micky", and although both lads never went to school, they were brought up in the bush, where they became superb horsemen. They began stealing cattle and horses when only in their teens, and they were so smart, that in a short period of time they managed to steal over 100 head and to sell them for an average of five pounds each - and that represented more than one year's pay of a skilled stockman! They celebrated in the pub, where Vane got drunk and stole a revolver from the publican. On the way home he robbed a Chinaman.
It was only a matter of time before his behaviour would be reported to the police and a warrant was out for his apprehension. At this stage both Vane and Burke met the bushrangers Johnny Gilbert and John O'Meally, and without much persuasion joined the new gang of Gilbert and Ben Hall.
In August 1863, Vane was with his mate Burke, who stole the famous racehorse Comus II and a gelding from the stables of Mr Thomas Icely at Coombing Park Station. In the same month he was in the company of O'Meally and Gilbert, when they robbed the mail coach on the way from Cowra to Bathurst.
In October the gang attacked the house of Mr Keightley, the Assistant Gold Commissioner, at Dunn's Plains. During the raid, Vane's best mate Micky Burke was shot and wounded, according to unsupported evidence it was done by Mr Keightley, but it still remains doubtful. Vane got into a fury: "You bloody wretch!" he yelled, "you have shot my mate!", and attacked a guest, Dr Peachy, knocking him down with the butt of a revolver.
A reward of £4000 was offered for the apprehension of the offenders. After the death of his friend Micky, Vane was not the same. He went bush and stayed there alone for several weeks, then decided to give himself up. In November he surrendered to Rev. Father McCarthy, who led him to Bathurst Court House, where he surrendered to Dr Palmer, the Police Magistrate. He was sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment and served his time at Darlinghurst, and later at Cockatoo Island. He was released in 1870 for good behaviour, and then lived in Sydney and worked at the buildings.
Later, when he returned to his old haunts, obviously his good intentions where gone, because in 1875 he was sentenced to three months at Carcoar for stealing. After another five years, he was sentenced again in 1880 to five years at Bathurst on a charge of sheep stealing. On his release he lived and worked on Brown's Crosshills Station. Shortly before his death he wrote his memoirs. He died at Cowra hospital in January 1906, aged 64, and was buried in an unmarked grave at Woodstock cemetery. In 1989, a headstone was erected over the site by two authors - historians Barry Ledger and Vern Reid of Woodstock.
| 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