Thomas (1840?-1867) and John Clarke (1846?-1867) were Australian bushrangers from the Braidwood district of New South Wales responsible for a series of high-profile robberies and killings in the late 19th century so notorious that they led to the embedding of the Felons' Apprehension Act (1866), a law that introduced the concept of outlawry and authorised citizens to kill criminals on sight. Active on the southern goldfields from 1865, Thomas, John, their brother James and a host of relations were responsible for a reported 36 hold-ups and the deaths of five policemen - four of them "special constables" bounty hunters - looking to bring them in. Bushranging The "Bushrangers Tree" in Nelligen, which is believed to be the tree the Clarke brothers were chained to after their capture The Clarkes' father Jack, a shoemaker transported for seven years aboard the Royal Charlotte, arrived in the Braidwood district as one of the assigned convicts brought in by Major Elrington in 1827.
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Australian Bushrangers - The Clarke Brothers | Australian Gold, History & Culture Info - Historic Gold Rush Village Mogo South Coast NSW AustraliaThe murderous Clarke brothers were worse than any of the other Australian bushrangers, outdoing the notorious Ned Kelly, Ben Hall, Captain Lightning, Frank Gardiner and Thunderbolt. The Clarke and Connell gang became known as "The Bloodiest Bushrangers". Jack Clarke, an Irish shoemaker had been transported for seven years in the "Morley". They constantly raided crops and livestock, aided by their uncles Pat and Tom Connell. As bushrangers they plundered publicans, storekeepers, farmers and travellers. Till November 1866 the gang marauded virtually unchecked in a triangle through the Jingeras from Braidwood to Bega, and up the coast to Moruya and Nelligen. Most of the information on the Clarkes has been sourced thanks to Judith Lawson (nee Connell) and to her gift of O'Sullivan's book.
Thomas ClarkeClarke Family: Thomas (1840?-1867) and John (1846?-1867), bushrangers, were born near Braidwood, New South Wales, sons of John Clarke. Their father had arrived in 1828 at Sydney in the Morley with a seven-year sentence; he was assigned to a pastoralist. A shoemaker by trade, he later tanned and dressed hides and made boots for convict servants at Mount Elrington near Braidwood where he rented a small block and in the 1860s became a free settler. He did not farm his land but appears to have lived by stealing cattle. Thomas and John junior began work as stockmen on unfenced stations and connived with their employers in the widespread cattle-stealing which continued until curtailed by the Registration of Brands Act in 1866. In March Parkes sent a strong force of experienced police to Braidwood. At their trial in Sydney on 28 May special precautions were taken to prevent any display of public sympathy. Citation details This article has been amended since its original publication.
Bushrangers: The Clarke brothersThomas Clarke was born 1840 in Braidwood, NSW and his brother John Clarke was born 1844 Mount Erlington, NSW. When the Clarke brothers, Thomas and John, were sentenced in 1867, the Chief Justice described the bushrangers as 'the scum of the earth, the lowest of the low, the most wicked of the wicked [and yet] are occasionally held up for our admiration....It is the old leaven of convictism not yet worked out'. The Clarkes' territory ranged from Yass to Goulburn and over to Braidwood, and their crimes included thieving horses, nine robberies in two months, and feloniously wounding a black tracker. In 1866, under the Felon's Apprehension Act 1865 (NSW) the Clarke brothers were declared outlaws for reasons of 'robbery, violence and murder'. Although charges were never laid for the shootings, shortly afterwards, the reward for the Clarke brothers' capture stood at £5000, second only to the Kelly brothers. Braidwood had became a haunt for many bushrangers as well as the Clarke Brothers.