On this day, 5th May 1865, the Australian bushranger, Ben Hall was shot and killed by police near Forbes, New South Wales.
Ben Hall started his working life as a young and hard-working farmer in New South Wales. In 1862, he was arrested and kept in jail for a short time, suspected of being part of a gang that had robbed a stagecoach carrying gold. Ben Hall was proved innocent and set free but when he returned to his farm he found the farm was in ruins and his stock had been stolen or had strayed. His wife had run away with another man and taken their son with her.
Ben decided to become a bushranger. He stole a horse and joined a gang. Although some of the gang members were far more ruthless and violent, Ben Hall soon became their leader. They robbed farmhouses, stagecoaches carrying mail and gold, and country hotels. In one raid on a small country town, they locked the townspeople in the local hotel and held a party there that lasted for three days. All the people in the hotel joined in. Ben Hall’s gang was so successful that the police were embarrassed. In the newspapers articles were printed asking who controlled the roads, the police or Ben Hall.
By early 1865, there was 1000 pounds reward being offered for the capture of each member of the gang. One of their supporters was tempted by such a huge amount of money and betrayed them. At dawn on Friday 5th May, an unsuspecting Ben Hall walked out of the scrub to collect his horses. Eight police opened fire with shotguns and rifles; a few seconds later the bushranger lay dead with more than thirty bullet wounds.
Image from the State Library of New South Wales -