Allan Ramsey Hughan (see above in 1877) was born on Friday, March 3, 1837, in Colchester, Essex, the eighth child and fourth son born to Robert Alexander Hughan and his wife Hannah Oakley.
Aged only one year when his family moved to London, Allan would never have shared the idyllic country life experienced by his older siblings growing up in rural Suffolk and Essex. His father was a tea dealer, described in 1844 as “unfortunate in business but always honest”, and by the time of Allan’s birth in 1837 Robert Hughan had quite a series of failed business ventures behind him. The family had moved from Ipswich to Colchester, and then finally London in search of work in 1838.
Money must have been an issue, particularly with the Hughan family expanding to nine children, but Robert and Hannah did an exceptional job of raising a well-educated, articulate family. The family was Scots Presbyterian, and the Hughan family was long established in the Creetown district of Kirkcudbright in Scotland. Whilst other Hughans back in Scotland stuck to the traditional naming patterns of the Scots, Robert Hughan and his wife in England were more fanciful in the naming of their children- Malvina , Laura, Marion, Jessie and Bertha for their daughters, and Oscar, Robert, Fergus McIvor and Allan Ramsey Cunningham for their sons. Family was catered to by the use of several middle names...Marion ‘Agnes’ (her paternal grandmother was Agnes Herris Hughan), Jessie Hannah( after her mother and maternal grandmother, both of whom were Hannah Oakley) and Robert Alexander named fully after his father.
The names Oscar and Malvina for their eldest son and daughter were taken from a Scottish legend that must have been a favourite within the Hughan family...
“In Scotland, long, long ago, the famous Celtic poet, Ossian, had a daughter called Malvina. She was beautiful and sweet natured. She won the heart of Oscar, a handsome warrior. They agreed to marry and became betrothed, but Oscar left in search of fame and fortune. Malvina pined for him and sought solace by telling her father how much she loved her brave warrior, Oscar. On a beautiful autumn day, Ossian and his daughter, Malvina were sitting on a Highland hillside when a ragged messenger staggered towards them. He brought the terrible news that Oscar had been killed in a mighty battle. The messenger held out a spray of purple heather to Malvina - a last gift from Oscar - and told her that he had died whispering her name and pledging his love. In her grief, Malvina ran over the hillside, weeping bitterly. Where her tears fell, the purple heather turned pure white. When she saw this, she said "May this white heather, symbol of my sorrow, forever bring good fortune to all those who find it". And so, in Scotland, to this very day, white heather continues to be a token of good luck.”
The name ‘Fergus McIvor’ also came from the pages of literature- in this case a famous novel by Sir Walter Scott called ‘Waverley’in which Fergus McIvor was a dashing – but doomed- Jacobite chieftain.
Allan, it seems, was also named after a character in famous poem by Byron, entitled "Oscar of Alva-A Tale" which was written in 1807. It involves two Scottish brothers, the elder named Oscar and the younger Allan:
"Dark was the flow of Oscar's hair;
Wildly it streamed along the gale;
But Allan's locks were bright and fair,
And pensive seem'd his cheek, and pale.
But Oscar own'd a hero's soul,
His dark eye shone through beams of truth;
Allan had early learn'd controul
And smooth his words had been from youth.
Both, both were brave, the Saxon spear
Was shiver'd oft beneath their steel;
And Oscar's bosom scorn'd to fear,
But Oscar's bosom knew to feel.
While Allan's soul belied his form,
Unworthy with such charms to dwell-
Keen as the lightning of the storm,
On foes his deadly vengeance fell."
Things turn nasty when Allan, jealous of Oscar's love for a beautiful maiden, kills him on his wedding day. The body is not found, and their father is heartbroken over the mystery of his beloved Oscar's disappearance. After two years Allan becomes engaged to Oscar's proposed bride, and on their wedding day Allan's treachery is exposed by a mysterious stranger who attends the feast, and by Oscar's ghost who materializes.
The 1841 census saw Robert and most of his family living in Blacklands Street, Chelsea. Robert’s occupation was given as ‘traveller’, and his age as 40 (ages were rounded down to the nearest five years...he was definitely older than 40). His second eldest daughter Laura was misspelled as ‘Sarah’, aged 18, but the other children in the home were correct- Marion 16, Robert 12, Jessy (sic)8, Allan 4 and Bertha 2. Daughter Malvina was living in Bethnal Green and working as a teacher, Oscar was employed as a male servant for Mary Louisa Edwards in Circus Road, St.Marylebone and 11 year old Fergus was living at the Caledonian Asylum School in London.
The Caledonian Asylum was a school instigated from 1815 for the maintenance and education of two distinct groups :-the children of soldiers, sailors and marines, natives of Scotland, who had died or been disabled in the service of their country, and the children of indigent Scottish parents resident in London and not entitled to parochial relief. The Hughan family came under the latter banner, and two of their sons were admitted to the respectable school.
Children were admitted from the ages of seven till ten years, and were maintained as live-in students until they were 14. At this age they were placed into apprenticeships, and exchanged their distinctive Highland dress uniforms for a plain suit of clothes. It was a boys-only school until the mid-1840s, after which time girls were also admitted.
After finding Fergus McIver Hughan resident at the school in 1841, I contacted the Caledonian School archivist for his details, and she found that Robert Hughan had also applied for entry to the school in 1844 for his youngest son Allan. The documents concerning both enrolments were rich in genealogical details, and the information produced from Allan’s is as follows:
“ The humble petition of Robert Hughan of 26 Westbourne Street, Pimlico, London, in behalf of Allan Ramsey Hughan, the child of Robert and Hannah Hughan.
SHOWETH that the said Allan Ramsey Hughan is the lawful child of said Robert and Hannah Hughan as by the annexed certificates will appear:
That Robert Hughan was born at Burns Park, parish of Kirkmabreck, Kirkcudbrightshire, is about 48 years of age, has lived in London since 1838, has had no settled employment but has subsisted chiefly by the needlework of Mrs Hughan and daughters.
That Hannah Hughan was born in the parish of St. Boltoph, Borough of Colchester, Essex, is about 41 years of age, is the mother of nine children, as under:-
Malvina Hughan born February 2nd, 1822
Laura Hughan born July 27, 1823
Marion Hughan born November 5, 1824
Oscar Hughan born November 29, 1826
Robert Hughan born May 17, 1828
Fergus Hughan born March 13, 1829
Jessey Hughan born December 18, 1833
Allan Ramsey Hughan born March 3, 1837
Bertha Hughan born January 19, 1839.
Your Petitioner therefore humbly prays that the said Allan Ramsey Hughan may be admitted into the Caledonian Asylum, and that he may continue therein as long as the directors thereof shall think fit; and be disposed of, when of a proper age, as an Apprentice or Servant, according to the provisions of the Act of Parliament.
Signed: Robert Hughan
I do hereby recommend the said Allan Ramsey Hughan as a fit and proper Object to be admitted into the Caledonian Asylum.
(To be signed by a subscriber, who is requested to state, whether from his own personal knowledge of the case, or from his reliance on the certificates to be annexed)
Signed: James Kemp.
I have known the said Robert Hughan for upwards of twenty years. I had large dealings with him. Although unfortunate in business, I always found him honest.
I, Robert Hughan, do hereby solemnly declare that the circumstances stated in the foregoing Petition are true, and that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, the said Allan Ramsey Hughan is free from Scrophula, of a sound, good constitution, and in the enjoyment of perfect health of intellects. So help me God.
Declared at the Police Court Bow Street, on this 14th day of March, 1844, before me, D. Jardine. Robert Hughan.”
The front of Allan’s file is marked “Postponed for want of certificates.” It was not known until recently whether seven year old Allan started at the Caledonian School, as just six months later his father was dead. He passed way at the family home at Westbourne Street, Pimlico, of complications arising from meningitis on September 22, 1844.
A chance finding of an article published in the
London Morning Post on Saturday 06 December 1845 proved that Allan was in fact a student at the school:-
" CALEDONIAN ASYLUM. A quarterly General Court of the Corporation was held at the Scottish Hospital on Thursday last for the transaction of business, and election of eight boys and five girls into the Asylum, when the following were declared to be duly elected:-
Boys (with votes) Christopher Shanks 2,302
James Mearns 2,096
Allan Ramsay Hughan 1,484
James Grieve Douglas 1,466
William Smart Bruce 1,416
John C Alexander 1,144
Lockhart McLaren 569
George Macartney 487
Girls (with votes)
Annie Wattie 1,542
Elizabeth Miller 1,541
Eliza Robertson 687
Eliza Gellan 617
Henrietta Robertson 474
John Burnie, Secretary, December 5, 1845."
The change to the family’s financial status after the death of their husband and father would probably have been minimal, as Robert had not been a breadwinner for some years. Hannah Hughan and her daughters maintained the family with earnings from needlework, and this situation must have continued after Robert’s death as mother and younger children continued living at the Westbourne Street address for several years.
Eldest child Malvina was, by all accounts, an excellent scholar and brilliant linguist. She became involved with one of the popular Missionary Societies in the1840s, and travelled extensively overseas on their behalf. She married John Octavus Lord , a fellow missionary, in late 1845, but had died of typhoid fever by 1850.Their two children also died in their infancy.
Eldest son Oscar immigrated to Canada in the late 1840s (c. 1848), moving down to Boston where he remained for some eight years. He had poems and short stories published in various publications, and considered himself a good friend of well known literary personalities Nathaniel Hawthorne and Longfellow.
Allan's education at the Asylum school must have been excellent, and as an adult he possessed a fine, enquiring mind. He was musical, particularly on the flute, and was an eloquent writer, embracing his role as New Caledonian correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald in the 1870s.
In 1847, an event occurred which would shape the destiny of the Hughan family and their descendants for years to come. On Saturday, June 19, 1847, middle child Robert Alexander Hughan was convicted of stealing from his master, Noah Stanford, and was transported to Australia for his crime.
Transportation of convicts to Australia was thoroughly out of favour by this time, so England had come up with the ‘exiles’ scheme, by which sentenced men would be sent first to one of the new penitentiaries (Millbank, Pentonville or Parkhurst) for the initial part of their sentencing, and then off to Australia as an ‘exile’. This was the case with 18 year old Robert Hughan-although sentenced in June 1847, he did not set sail for Queensland until June of 1849.This time delay meant that the Hughan family could take stock of the situation and make decisions that were monumental in their effect.
In 1848 Hannah Hughan made the brave decision to take up the position of Matron in charge of a group of 38 women and girls who were being sent to Victoria as the first party of female emigrants dispatched by Sidney Herbert’s Female Emigration Fund. This group were responsible for gathering together needlewomen who were classified as being “the most helpless of their sex-the working women of this country.” The colonies were badly in need of respectable young women to balance their male dominant society, and England- London in particular-had an over-abundance of this class of female. Over four years from 1849, the Female Emigration Fund were responsible for assisting over one thousand women to emigrate to Australia, New Zealand, British North America and the Cape of Good Hope.
It was Hannah Hughan and her charges who were the very first contingent to set off for new lands, arriving on the ship ‘Culloden’ in July of 1849. With Hannah were three of her daughters-24 year old Marion, 18 year old Jessie and Bertha, who was only 11. Where sons Allan and Fergus remained has not yet been determined...Allan would have been twelve years old, and Fergus 20.
Daughter Laura obtained passage in 1849 on board the ship ‘Tasman’ to take her to Melbourne as a nursery maid. However on June 11, 1849, just seven days prior to her departure, she married Arthur Paton. Laura sailed on the ‘Tasman’ as planned, but her husband Arthur did not sail until the following year. He sailed to Melbourne on the ‘Culloden’ as a paying passenger with Hannah Hughan and Laura’s younger sisters.
It is amazing that the first Hughans to arrive on Australian soil did so within days of each other, although hundreds of miles apart. The ‘Tasman’ with Laura on board arrived in Geelong on October 28, 1849, and her brother Robert arrived as an exile on the ship ‘Mount Stewart Elphinstone’ in Moreton Bay on October 31.
Allan Hughan was ten years old when his brother Robert was convicted and sent to prison, and12 or 13 when his mother and sisters immigrated to Australia. The only thing that may have prevented him from sailing at the same time would have been his attendance at the Royal Caledonian School- if he had started his schooling there in 1844, he would not have been due to finish until about 1850-51. His parents placed such importance on their children’s education that Hannah may have convinced her youngest son to remain in London to finish his schooling and join his family in Victoria when he finished. Allan was not in England by the time the 1851 census was taken.
After many years of researching, the ship and date of arrival in Australia for Allan and his brothers Fergus and Oscar have not been found.
Allan’s sister Jessie Hannah Hughan married in 1851, and her new husband was the owner of a huge sheep station called ‘Youngera’ situated on the Lower Murray River near Swan Hill. Allan and his youngest sister Bertha spent a great deal of time at ‘Youngera’ with Jessie and her husband Alexander McCallum, and Allan later served as manager of the property when Alexander returned to England for health reasons and never came back.
Spending time with Jessie McCallum on ‘Youngera’ must have fostered a love of the land for young Allan, as when he was old enough to seek employment it was as a manager or superintendent of large rural holdings.
In 1858, the Victorian Government Gazette records Allan Hughan as superintendent of ‘Glenloth Station’, Avoca.
At the time of his marriage as a 22 year old, Allan Hughan stated that his occupation was “superintendent of a squatting station”, and his next occupation was also in the capacity of a station manager.
On August 8, 1859, Allan Hughan married 30 year old Phoebe Berry Hall, a Professor of Music from Cambridge in England. Phoebe was the daughter of William Hall and Charlotte Prior. At the age of 5 months in 1829 she had been baptised at St. Giles, Cambridge. Other siblings included :
Catherine Prior Hall baptised 1822, Magdalen Street, Cambridge, aged 2 months , St. Giles
Thomas Prior hall baptised 1823, Magdalen Street, Cambridge, aged 1 month, St. Giles
Alfred Hall baptised 1826, Magdalen Street, Cambridge, aged 5 months, St. Giles
Edward Hall baptised 1828, Magdalen Street, Cambridge, aged 1 month, St. Giles
Frederick Hall baptised 1832, Magdalen Street, Cambridge, aged 1 month, St. Giles (died in 1832)
In November 1859, Allan started work as superintendent of another station owned by one of the Chirnside brothers. This proved to be an ill-fated choice of employment, as the Port Phillip Herald Newspaper from early 1860 provides coverage of a dispute between Allan Hughan and Mr. Chirnside regarding unpaid wages. The newspaper article told the following story:
" SUPREME COURT: OLD COURT. Tuesday 1st May( before Mr. Justice Pohlman) HUGHAN V CHIRNSIDE
For the plaintiff, Dr. Sewell and Mr. Brewer; and for the defendant, Mr Dawson and Mr Fellows.
This was an action brought to recover the sum of 200 pounds salary for service as overseer of a sheep station.
In November 1859, the plaintiff entered the service of the defendant, obtaining authority to draw in his own name on the bank of Victoria for expenses connected with the station, to the amount of 400 pounds.
A considerable amount of correspondence passed between the plaintiff and the defendant, in respect to business matters, and in December the defendant wrote to the plaintiff informing him of his intention to visit the station for the purpose of examining accounts etc.
On the 2nd of January last, the plaintiff left the station to visit his wife, who, as he was informed by a letter he received on the previous day, was dangerously ill.
He instructed a person named Smith to attend to the affairs of the station during his absence, and left him a cheque for fifty pounds to meet any necessary expenses. He also drew a cheque for thirty two pounds, six shillings and six pence, the amount of two months salary due to himself, on the previous day to meet his own travelling expenses.
Mr. Chirnside arrived at the station on the evening of the 2nd of January, and received a letter which had been left for him by the plaintiff stating the cause of his absence, and giving his address.
Next day he wrote to the plaintiff intimating that as he had left the station without anyone in charge, and as he had overdrawn his account at the bank by two hundred pounds he should be superseded, and that this overdraft would be placed to the account of the station, but the cheque for 32 pounds 6 shillings and 6 pence would not be met.
The defendant pleaded that the plaintiff had deserted his post, and that he had unnecessarily expended moneys.
The jury returned the verdict for the plaintiff for the amount claimed, two hundred pounds, with leave to the defendant to move for a new trial, or reduction of the verdict."
- Wednesday, May 2, 1860, Port Phillip Herald.
Immediately below this court report was another: Newbourne Vrs Chirnside. This case also concerned Allan Hughan...
" For the plaintiff Mr. Brewer, and for the defendant Mr. Dawson. This was an action brought to recover 60 pounds, wages for 12 months for the services of the plaintiff and his wife, who were engaged by Mr. Hughan, overseer for his station, but were dismissed by Mr Chirnside previous to the expiration of the term for which they were engaged.
It appeared that when Mr. Chirnside arrived at the station on the 2nd of January he asked the plaintiff for the key of Mr Hughan's room. Mrs Newbourne had the key, and the plaintiff, when asked for it by Mr Chirnside, denied having it; and also stated that there was nothing in the room but what was the private property of Mr Hughan. Mr Chirnside regarding the plaintiff as Mr Hughan's servant repudiated the contract with them.
The jury found for the plaintiff, damages 60 pounds."
The Chirnsides were a very wealthy pastoralist family, and it is cheering to think of the "little men" standing up to the bullying employer in court and winning.
In 1858 Allan's sisters, Jessie McCallum and Bertha Hughan, had sailed to England for a 2 1/2 year visit, with Jessie's husband and children also accompanying them. Allan had kept an eye on things during their absence, and the 1861 Victorian Gazette records him as being the superintendent of ‘Youngera Station’, Swan Hill.
In 1861( or perhaps 1860) Allan and Phoebe's first child, a daughter named Ruth Madeline Hughan, was born. There has not been found a birth certificate for her, so her birth date and place are unknown. Later documents referred to her birthplace as "Goulburn, Victoria".
Allan remained on 'Youngera' for several years, even after his sisters returned. His importance would have been compounded by the fact that Jessie's husband Alexander McCallum had not sailed back with his family... Jessie had not only the responsibility of raising her children alone, but also that of running a huge sheep station without the guidance of her husband. Allan filled the position of overseer for her, assisted at times by his brother Fergus Hughan.
No children were born to Phoebe and Allan Hughan during the period 1861-1864, which backs up the belief that Phoebe did not spend much time on the Swan Hill property. She was a teacher of music, and most likely resided in Melbourne with their young daughter Ruth, being visited by Allan Hughan when time and farm business permitted.
The ‘Pitman’s Journal of Commercial Education by Isaac Pitman, July 16, 1864’ reported on the 4th Annual meeting of the members and friends of the Victorian Phonetic Society, held at the Victorian Grammar School, Collins St East, Melbourne, on February 10, 1864. The report states “Special mention was made of a gentleman who carried off two of the prizes, Mr Allan Hughan, who by close attention to the study had, in the course of three months, attained a degree of excellence generally only the result of 12 or 15 month’s steady practice.”
These classes had been held at the Melbourne Mechanics Institution, and upwards of 30 pupils had attended.
Evidence points to Allan Hughan spending a period of time during 1865 in Queensland, engaged in the huge task of moving a mob of nine thousand sheep through Queensland.
Two letters written by Allan Hughan to the Rockhampton Bulletin newspaper in 1865 provided an amazing first person narration of his participation in the capture, and subsequent escape, of infamous Queensland horse-thief Edward Hartigan, better known as “The Snob”. Allan’s words tell the story better than my interpretation of the tale, so following are the two letters which were published on August 12 and September 21, 1865:
“ Rockhampton Bulletin, Saturday, August 12, 1865.
By yesterday’s mail, we received the following particulars of the capture of a notorious horse stealer from Mr Allan Hughan, who writes under date 4th August, 1865, Belcombe Creek, Gordon Downs Station.
“ Sir,- It is with pleasure that I am able to inform you- and through you, the residents in this part of Queensland- by whom the intelligence will, in many instances, be received with gratification- of the capture in my camp, with the aid of my men, of a notorious horse stealer, known as “The Snob”, lately escaped for the third time from the police.
My cook, Charles Trim, recognised him, and gave me information of my unbidden guest’s character. For this he deserves much commendation.
On expressing my determination to secure him, Trim stated that at Springsure he had told him that if he escaped he would never be re-taken to serve 14 or 20 years, but would blow any man’s brains out who made the attempt to secure him, “So you had better look out, sir”, he added.
Consulting with two of my friends and my men, I arranged to seize him. Walking up to the camp, and sitting down beside him, I entered into conversation with those around, and himself, respecting the road, water, etc, for I had observed, as I thought, a knife in his hand, which I knew would be far more dangerous in a close struggle than a pistol. For fear of exciting his suspicions, I could not make a close examination, but sat still, hoping to see him put it down or to be off his guard.
At a sign, my friend- Mr. Donald Laird- made a dash on his side; I on mine; Mr. North threw himself upon him, and Mr. Richard Jones held his feet. He struggled to reach his revolver, which, loaded and capped, was in his belt, with much desperation, but he had no chance, poor fellow, and in a few minutes I had him securely bound.
Too much praise cannot be bestowed upon the parts taken in his capture by Messrs, laird, Jones and North; for his desperate character was well known to the two first, as we had frequently heard settlers state that he would do an immense amount of mischief before being re-taken.
The case was urgent, so I at once wrote a letter to the police at Clermont- 50 miles distant- and this morning dispatched one of my shepherds with it, though at great inconvenience, for I am travelling in a strange country with 9,000 sheep.
I trust that the police will act with energy in coming to my relief. I have fully appraised them of my position, having to drive two carts and take charge of the prisoner myself, being so short of men.
Since his arrival in our camp, “The Snob”, alias Edward Kain or Cain- an ominous name- has confessed to stealing several horses, the manner of his escape from the police, and expressed his firm conviction that before three weeks he will again be at liberty, and may then do me a “good turn”.
His confidence in ultimate escape is well-grounded. I could not help being a little amused, last evening, by hearing one of my men say, when he was struggling during his capture, “Oh, it’s no use, my fine fellow, you are in the hands of Victorians now!”
A short time after being secured, he quite gloried in his past deeds, and said he would so if on his way to be hung.
Twas as I told him, a lamentable sight to see a human being so lost to all sense of right, however, I have been glad to observe several traits of better feeling in his character. Connected with his capture, I may relate a circumstance which seems to partake largely of the mysterious.
On coming to my waggonet, in which I was writing, he asked me, in a very civil tone, where the water was. I directed him. He turned out his horse to stay for the night. Twas about an hour later when I looked in his face for the first time. I at once went to my wagon, about 300 yards distant, and concealed my revolver in my waistband at the same time- though I had never seen him, and for weeks had not thought of him- “the Snob” came into my head. After supper the cook came up and informed me that this was the veritable man.
With these facts, communicated to you whilst watching my captive, the wind playing most perseveringly with my writing materials, I will close my already long letter, and remain, obediently Yours, Allan Hughan.”
Most amusingly, a short article appeared in the Rockhampton Bulletin & Central Queensland Advertiser on Saturday, September 2, 1865:
“ Our readers may recollect that, a short time ago, a letter from Mr Allan Hughan of Belcombe Creek, Gordon Downs Station, announcing the capture by him of the notorious horse stealer “The Snob” alias Edward Kain or Cain. Mr Hughan, we since understand by the Peak Downs Telegram, was unable to hold the rascal in his custody until the arrival of the police, and he is still at large.”
On Thursday, 21 September, 1865, the Rockhampton Bulletin published a second letter written by a contrite Allan Hughan, explaining the circumstances by which the crafty horse thief had vanished into the night:
“ To the Editor of The Bulletin.
Dear Sir- By last mail I forwarded you intelligence of the capture of a horse stealer. Whatever merit was due to that capture let it be retained by my men, and on me be the disgrace attached to his escape- for escaped he has- and, unfortunately, but three hours before the arrival of the police, who had started to my assistance with most commendable alacrity. Having reported his capture, I am bound to relate his escape, though, in doing so, I feel most thoroughly ashamed; a feeling in no way lessened by the consolation offered by others when remarking “that even the police, with all their appliances, could not prevent his escape three times running.” I look upon the argument as an additional reason for not having watched him better.
On the 3rd instant we captured him; the following morning I sent one of my men to Clermont, distant fifty miles, for the police. Being obliged to travel on with stock, however, shorthanded. Unaided I drove both my vehicles, and took charge of the prisoner for one day’s stage: thanks to the change produced in the latter by a few acts of kindness, his appreciation of which, he provided by running with as much spirit as myself, at a time when, having left my waggonet and spring cart and gone a distance of 300 or 400 yards in search of water- taking the prisoner with me, the first was placed in great danger by the moving of the horses.
That evening a Chinaman rode up to the camp, and from all we could gather, preferred a capital charge against the prisoner, in consequence of which, I remarked to Cain, “I must now tie you even more securely, if possible, for the night”, and accordingly I did so, as I imagined.
Making my arrangements for the night, and giving directions to be called if the man wished to be moved at any time, I laid down for a little much-needed rest, keeping on my clothes and boots, so as to be ready at a moment’s call. Wearied with the previous night’s watchings, and the unwonted duties of the day, I slept deeply instead of waking every half hour as usual.
At half past 3 a.m., I was startled from my unfortunate sleep, by a voice shouting “The man has gone, Mr Hughan.” “When?” “This moment!” “All hands up and to the horses- take your dogs with you- five pounds to whoever sees or hears the man!” and as quickly as I can describe it, we were all away (but one who I left on guard), spreading in various directions. By ill-luck, our two bell horses were separated from the others, and it took half an hour to find the rest, which to our relief were right in number. Mounting two of them, we continued the search, but the night and thick scrub favoured the escaped, no trace of whom we could discover.
Fearing he would go to the adjoining station and assist himself to a horse, saddle and bridle, we rode there at once and put them on the alert. ‘Twas now near daybreak, by which time we started back to camp, accompanied by Mr Macalister, his son and a blackboy, - hoping, with the aid of the last, to pick up the fellow’s track. On our way back, as the sun was rising, we were met by Mr North and two of the police force- Mr North having ridden over 100 miles within the 24 hours on the one horse. All united in the search.
We followed the man’s tracks for half a mile, and then our darkie ( a poor tracker) was hopelessly at fault. All that day, till 3 p.m., we were scouring the country. At this time, we learnt from a passing horseman, that Kain had been seen by him, in company with several carriers and their teams, about ten miles back. I at once went in search of the Sub-Inspector of Police, and gave him the information, upon which he immediately acted, starting in pursuit- I, much regretting that my horse was too wearied to accompany him.
That evening, I was informed by the carriers alluded to, that Kain had arranged to join their camp that night. Similar information they had given to the policeman. I determined to watch their camp all night. So, returning to my own, I changed my clothes, got a fresh horse, tried to get a little sleep, of course unsuccessfully; and fully armed, returned to the vicinity of the carriers’ camp. Tying up my horse about half a mile away, I tried to reach a tree near the camp, but the difficulty was to do so, unobserved by the men, or detected by some of the numerous dogs. The moon was nearly at its full, and the camp was on open country, almost a plain.
On hands and knees I succeeded after an hour’s toil, on reaching a tree distant about 120 yards from the fires and in its shadow I sat until I thought I should be frozen, for I dare not stir. Ten, eleven, twelve o’clock passed; nothing stirred, save a man now and then to replenish the fires. When just passed midnight, I saw a man walk up to and join those at the fire. Now I began to warm. ‘Twas impossible to distinguish at the distance I was, so I had recourse once more to the hand and knee method of progress, and reached a tree thirty yards distant from the men, who, by this time, were sitting round the fire, it and the tree by which it was made being between us. Not a tree or shrub was between; there was nothing for it but to try and reach the very tree itself. So on I went once more, with a revolver in each hand, very watchful for fear of being seen, in which case I felt I should be mistaken for a black-fellow trying to steal upon the camp, and an abrupt end be put to my voyage of discovery.
Now an inequality in the ground helped. Again I was able to use the smoke of their fire as a screen, slowly but surely nearing the tree. An old newspaper in my way puzzled me for a time how to pass it without noise. I managed, and at last got to the root of the tree, behind which within two yards of me were the three men, one of whom I felt pretty sure was my missing bird.
Rising to my feet, and getting ready, I stepped aside, to the great astonishment of the men, and equally intense disappointment of myself. The man I had seen join the camp was one of the carriers, who had been watching his horses. Till after daylight I continued the watch, but no Kain put in an appearance, and as the sub-inspector had not returned, I was in hopes he was upon his trail.
On taxing the carriers with cowardice, for not joining the traveller who gave us the information of seeing Kain, on his proposing to recapture the man, who was in sight, on foot and unarmed, they excused themselves by saying that they were not going to incur the revenge of the man and his clique.
If these men, through fear or more culpable motives- for one of them claimed the horse, saddle, bridle and revolver I had taken from the man(yet he returns boldly to them, obtains food, and arranges to return to their shelter that night)- if these men, taking them as a fair sample of their numerous class, thus cowardly submit to such men, or tacitly shield them, possessing as they do, in an eminent degree, the means of bringing them to justice, and thus protecting themselves, or of aiding them to set justice at defiance, no wonder that crime should stalk through a large portion of this colony boldly, triumphant, defiant, as by too many it is known to be the case.
There is one and but one consolation left against the prisoner’s escape. It is in the fact that he got away in a crippled condition, minus firearms, minus horse, saddle, bridle or food, with the police on his track, instead of being ignorant of whether he was in this or a neighbouring colony.
The manner of his escape will ever be involved in doubt in my mind. My friend, who had aided in his capture in a chief degree, was on the watch at the time; the sheep were most troublesome on the young grass and herbage; he left the man tied as he had been all night, to walk around the sheep just as the moon set, and on his return, in a few minutes, the unbuckled straps only were there. Had I but the one more man I could have set a separate watch over the prisoner, I should have tried to do it myself, but I was so very particular in tying him in consequence of the fresh charge being brought against him, taking additional precautions to those of the previous night, that I felt convinced he was secure to all intents and purposes, but the captain slept and the ship ran aground. None can blame him more than does
Allan Hughan, Gordon Downs, August 17, 1865.”
I am glad to report that “The Snob” did not end up at the end of a hangman’s noose, but he did spend the majority of the rest of his days languishing for periods in gaol, mainly as the result of successful convictions for forgery.
Edward Hartigan had been born in Ireland in c. 1835 and came to Australia in 1856 by the ship, Peter Maxwell. He ended up in Rockhampton employed by Patrick O’Reilly as a shoemaker, but before long was operating for himself on the wrong side of the law.
Hartigan was described as being “slippery and cunning, walking with a “flash” strut, was under middle height, possessed a muscular frame, and had a face like a bird of prey. He was remarkable for the smallness of his hands and feet and could easily free himself from ordinary handcuffs or leg-irons.”
He was an excellent bushman and his forgery skills were recognised, and by the time he made the acquaintance of Allan Hughan he had been captured by the police and escaped them three times. The Chinaman referred to in Allan’s second letter may very well have been the Chinese man from Rockhampton whose wife had been convinced to run off with Hartigan to the Peak Downs just before his Hughan encounter.
The police did finally track “The Snob” down after he escaped from Allan Hughan, and took him back to Clermont. He had apparently read Allan Hughan’s letters as published in The Bulletin, and had found them most amusing. Not so amusing was the result of his trial in Rockhampton, where he was sentenced to ten years imprisonment. For good behaviour he was released from St. Helena, Moreton Bay, in 1875, but was in and out of prison for the rest of his life. He was considered very lucky to have escaped a charge of murder in 1898, but was periodically gaoled for forgery, larceny and horse stealing.
Shipping records show that Allan Hughan had arrived in Sydney in March of 1865, but after his Queensland stint he was back in Melbourne by late November to register the birth of his second daughter. Named Marion after Allan's sister, the baby was born in the Hughan's High Street, St. Kilda, home on October 30, 1865. When her father registered her birth some four weeks later, he recorded his occupation as 'Gentleman'.
The reason for the delay in registering Marion's birth was most likely the very sad death of Allan's sister, Jessie McCallum. On the day of Marion's birth, Jessie was on her death bed at 'Youngera', suffering from pneumonia. She passed away the following day, on October 31st, and if Allan wasn’t already at ‘Youngera’, he would have had to make his way to Swan Hill immediately to assist in whatever way he could.
Youngest Hughan sibling Bertha had married Henry Bishop only seven months before Jessie's death, and at the age of 26 she was made responsible for her McCallum nephew and nieces; Gilbert aged 11, Margaret aged 13 and Ivy aged 7.
In 1866 Allan was mentioned in a report on Victoria’s Aboriginal populations as still being at ‘Youngera’. On March 26 1866, Allan penned a letter to Ferdinand Von Mueller regarding a poisonous plant he had found at ‘Youngera’, and gave his address as ‘Youngera’, Swan Hill.
The Queensland Government Gazette in their Unclaimed Letters list mentions three unclaimed letters for Allan Hughan- on January 6, 1866, two letters addressed to him at Dalby had not been claimed, and on September 8, 1866, an unclaimed letter had been sent to him at Lilly Vale. These unclaimed letters may very well have been sent to Allan in 1865 when he was droving sheep in Queensland.
Allan’s movements for 1866 are difficult to track, perhaps because he did not stray far from home. (“home” being either ‘Youngera’ or the Melbourne residence where his wife and daughter were settled) His daughter Minnie was conceived in May of 1866, (requiring his presence in Melbourne!)
In 1867, Allan Hughan is named in the NSW Official Post Office Directory as being a settler at ‘Yoiragra’, Euston, NSW. Euston is on the Murray River between Swan Hill and Mildura, on the NSW side of the river. I have no idea if he owned or leased this land- it doesn’t seem as though he would have been present to manage the property as for most of 1867 he was travelling and his family was based in Melbourne. He most likely was present at Euston from the later part of 1866, and made his travels into Queensland from ‘Yoiragra’.
He continued to have a hand in the running of the McCallum property 'Youngera' until his interests took a totally different turn in 1867.
Early in 1867, tragedy and joy struck the Hughan home on the same day. On February 11, at Inkerman Street, St. Kilda, Phoebe gave birth to daughter Marion Ellen ( known as ‘Minnie’), named in honour of her sister who died the very same day aged only 16 months, of ‘dentition and congestion of the brain’. On Marion’s death certificate Allan is described as ‘settler’, and on Minnie’s birth certificate he is again ‘gentleman’.
One can hardly imagine the agony of a labouring mother, struggling to give birth to her third daughter while at the same time elsewhere in the house the family physician Dr Arnold is fighting to save the life of her second child.
The grief of Allan as Marion's father also cannot be underestimated, and perhaps it was a means of dealing with his emotions that caused him to chose to leave his wife and two daughters just two week's after Marion's death to sail to Western Australia.
On February 27 1867, Allan Hughan departed Melbourne for Western Australia per ship ‘Bombay’. On March 20 , Allan left Perth after writing to the Col. Secretary applying for an appointment as “Inspector of Sheep”. His application letter read in part:-“ My qualifications for filling such office consists of a thoroughly practical acquaintance with sheep, during a course of 14 years in Victoria and NSW”. His Address was given as c/of Messrs William Sloane and Co, Collins Street, Melbourne.
On March 29, 1867, Allan Hughan wrote a letter to Ferdinand Von Mueller in Melbourne. Allan’s address was given as ‘Staunton Springs, near Beverly, Western Australia”. Beverley is 132 km east of Perth. Staunton Springs is a property Lat 32 degrees 34’ south, Long 116 degrees 55 ‘ East. I have no idea what Allan Hughan was doing this far inland...perhaps he was on one of his plant collecting expeditions for Dr. Mueller.
On April 19, 1867, Allan Hughan arrived back in Melbourne from W.A per ‘Alexandra’. The Alexandra was a South Australian mail steamer, captained by J.W Brown. It had arrived at King George Sound, Western Australia, on April 2, and sailed again for Adelaide on April 8, with Allan Hughan as one of the passengers on board for the 109 hour trip to Adelaide.
Upon returning to his Melbourne home, Allan made the decision to try his hand at taking top quality sheep to Western Australia by sea. This venture proved to be fraught with trouble, both on the journey there and in the months following the landing of his stock.
On December 11 1867, Allan Hughan arrived in Perth from Melbourne per the schooner ‘Stanley’ with a consignment of 135 sheep, amongst other cargo. Allan had commissioned the schooner for his use alone, and it was not too long before bad blood surfaced between him and the ship's master, Gibson.