It is 150 years since the death of the bushranger known as Dan Morgan, or Mad Dan Morgan. He was born John Fuller in N.S.W. in about 1830, although there has been uncertainty regarding his identity over the years, some believing that his real name was Moran or Owen. He was also known by various aliases including John Smith, Sydney Native and Down the River Jack.
His known criminal record began in 1854 when under the name of John Smith he was charged with highway robbery. He was sentenced to 12 years hard labour although he was released for good behaviour in 1860.
On his release he commenced his bushranging throughout N.S.W. and Victoria. His behaviour seems to have been quite erratic. On one occasion it is reported that whilst at a station near Albury, he began shooting at various people. When one of the station workers was injured Morgan then apologised for his mistake and sent one of the overseers, Mr. McLean, to get a doctor. However, he then seems to have regretted his decision, as once McLean started on his way Morgan shot him in the back.
Morgan’s gang sticking up the mail, H90.91/447
Shortly after this incident, on the 24th of June 1864 Morgan shot a police officer, Sergeant McGinnity. McGinnity and Constable Churchley were riding when they encountered Morgan. Not recognising him, McGinnity greeted Morgan casually and Morgan replied, ‘You are one of the – wretches looking for bushrangers’, and then shot him dead.
On the 8th of April 1865 Morgan took over Peechelba Station on the Ovens River. A housemaid at the property, Alice Macdonald, managed to slip out (although accounts of exactly how seem to vary) and went to Mr. Rutherford’s house about a quarter of a mile away to inform him of what was happening. When Morgan left the homestead the following morning the station was surround, and Morgan was shot in the back. He died later that afternoon.
Capture and death of Morgan, the bushranger, IAN19/04/65/9
Sketch of the life and career of Daniel Morgan the notorious bushranger; Ovens and Murray Advertiser, 13 April 1865, page 3
Morgan the murderer: a definitive history of the bushranger Dan Morgan by Edgar R. Penzig
Australian bushrangers: an illustrated history by George Boxall