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WILLIAM WESTWOOD (alias "Jackey Jackey")
William was born in Manuden, Essex, England on 7 th August 1820, the son of James Westwood and his wife Anne Hasler. He was reputed to have had some education.
At the age of fifteen William was convicted of highway robbery. It is understood that he and another boy jumped out and frightened an old lady carrying a bag of clothes. They served one year on the treadmill at Chelmsford gaol. Soon after his release William again fell into bad company.
Together with James Bird, age 21, he stole a great coat that John Rickett had left overnight in a stable. On the morning of 21 st December 1836, Westwood and Bird sold the coat for six shillings to John Warren at his clothing shop in Hare Street. John Rickett later went to the same shop to buy a replacement and was offered his own coat by Warren. Westwood and Bird were apprehended and appeared in Chelmsford Assizes. Bird was acquitted by the jury but William, although five years younger than his accomplice, was found guilty. Because of his previous conviction William was sentenced to transportation for a term of fourteen years, and sent to Australia. ( Information courtesy of Bruce Blair, New Zealand, who shares the same family tree with Westwood and Bird. )
In 1837 he was assigned to Mr Phillip Gidley King to work at his station in the Goulburn District of the Colony of New South Wales. There William worked for three years, and if it were not for the bad influence of a certain Paddy Curran, his future might have turned out differently. However, as the story has it, William - now nicknamed “Jackey Jackey”, teamed with this scoundrel Curran, and together they robbed Mr King’s house, then disappeared from the scene with intention to pursue the “lucrative” career in bushranging.
Their partnership, however, didn't last too long. "Jackey Jackey" was well liked by the old stationhands, who found him polite, kind and well behaved towards them even later, when he became a bushranger; on the contrary, Curran had a reputation of a vulgar rogue, who behaved brutally, especially towards women. When Curran assaulted and raped the wife of a farmer whose place they had stuck up, “Jackey Jackey” threatened to shoot him for this, then took his horse, rifle and ammunition, and abandoned him for good. (Historical records show that Curran was sentenced to death and hanged in Berrima Gaol in September 1841).
Numerous legends started circulating after the split of the two men, with people now referring to “Jackey Jackey” as “the gentleman bushranger”. Still, this “gentleman bushranger”, who was also an excellent and very fast rider, kept stealing horses, including the finest race horses in the district that belonged to Messrs. Murray and Julian, and the best of them - a splendid mare stolen from Mr Macarthur. “Jackey Jackey” continued sticking up travellers for money, watches and other valuables, stealing from stores, and relieving the tollmen of the money collected at tollgates.
He frequently appeared neatly dressed in a suit of elegant clothes, usually stolen from the store at Boro, and was always mounted on a fine horse, stolen from the principle breeders in the district. He moved swiftly in a triangle between Queanbeyan, Bungendore, Boro, Tarago, and Braidwood, where apart from the usual procedures he also robbed mail coaches.
Sometimes he undertook longer “business” trips up to 150 miles away, and very well mounted, he could manage such distances in a few hours. By the time he reached his twentieth birthday, “Jackey Jackey” was an inmate of Darlinghurst Gaol. There had been a reward of 30 pounds offered for his capture, and soon he was caught in Bungendore by some locals. He managed to escape, but was recaptured at the Black Horse Inn on the Berrima Road.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment, and from Darlinghurst Gaol transferred to Cockatoo Island. There were further attempts to escape, be it from Cockatoo Island, or later from Port Arthur, and from Glenorchy Probation Station, but finally the “gentleman bushranger” ended up back at Norfolk Island. Nothing else has been heard of him since.
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