Frank Gardiner’s prayer book
In the Lambing Flat Museum is a prayer book which is said to have been made by Frank Gardiner, the Bushranger, while he was in gaol on Cockatoo Island, for his lover, Catherine Brown (nee’ Walsh).
She was employed at Wollongough, now Ungarie, and on leaving left it in her room. Living nearby at the Youngara Homestead was her sister ,Bridget, who was Ben Hall’s widow and now married to James Taylor. Ben Hall’s son, Henry, was also living on Youngara.
The book came into the possession of David Hawkins and after his death was donated to the Lambing Flat Museum at Young.
David Hawkins was born at Dundas, Victoria in 1859. Arriving at Young in 1876 he was employed by his brother-in-law William John Watson in Watson Brothers store. Hawkins moved to Wollongough and opened a general store. He married Sara Keizah, the third daughter of William Regan of Cooraboorama, Bland on 15th March, 1882, at Young.
David eventually selected land on Curraburrama and named it “The Forrest” and resided there for many years. At a later time he established a Stock and Station Agency business at Barmedman, which he operated for 20 years.
David died at his daughters residence at Bexley in 1922 and was buried in the Church of England portion of the Young Cemetery.
In February 1911 in an article in the Temora Independent David Hawkins was quoted as saying that Dick Taylor, Catherine Walsh’s brother-in-law, had shown him the spot near Spy Hill, which was a local landmark, where Blue Cap, the bushranger, was captured.
It will be remembered that Catherine Walsh was Frank Gardiner’s ex-lover, and it was for her that he had made the prayer book.
Blue Cap, as he was known, suffered from Ophthalmitis and wore a dark shade over his eyes for protection. He was the son of Jane Regan and Robert Cottrell and was employed on Curraburrama as a stockman.
Blue Cap collected a group of bushrangers about him and embarked on an extensive career in an area covering Young, Griffith, Narrandera and Tumut.
He started his career by robbing stores at Stony Creek, Watson’s Jerrabang Station, Job Fowler’s house at Bullock Creek and the Chinese camps at Stoney Creek and Spring Creek. They attempted to rob the “Sydney Hotel” at Spring Creek but were driven off.
Robert Cottrell’s career came to an end at Mrs. Woodhouse’s station at Humbug Creek near Young on November 4, 1867.
He was captured by three plain clothed police officers who he had attempted to rob of their horses. He was bought before the court at Young, from where the case was transferred to Wagga.
Cottrell and his cohorts, who were all captured over time, were sentenced to sizeable prison terms.
In 1874, after much petitioning, the Executive Council granted remissions to twenty three prisoners, among these were Blue cap and some members of his gang.
At the same time a prisoner of great notoriety, Frank Gardiner , was given a remission of his sentence providing he went into exile.
Young Historical Society – Brian James.