Bushranger John Macdonald and “Barraba blacks”

1834c Bushranger John Macdonald and “Barraba blacks”. Ticket-of-leave man, John MacDonald is sent to Newcastle penal settlement. He escapes and by 1834 is a “bushranger” living with Aboriginal people up at Barraba in the Watagan Mountains. He is considered the best “bushman” in the country. He is shot dead that year in a raid on a farm in the Upper Hunter. Only months before, Jonathan Warner, then visiting Magistrate to Brisbane Water highlights to the governor that Macdonald has a very close relationship with the Barraba blacks: Warner’s “Bushranger Report” from Lake Macquarie of 30 August 1834 writes:

“I have the honor to state for the…Governor that when at Kurumbung on the 29th Inst, Moses Carroll, who resides there, brought before me Kitty, a black woman whom he found could give much information relating to MacDonald and his gang…[she] states that about fourteen days back she was at MacDonald’s farm and went into a small hut…There were four men there besides himself, she observed four horses…pistols, bayonets, ammunition... Pots & each man had a watch. There was also two [sacks] full of sugar and eight bags of flour, which they planted in the bush…they scarcely have any fire by day to provide smoak, and every night after sun down they all go to Cranky Jacks…[called by the Whites, Port Macquarie Jack, he lives on a farm…at Barraba…] MacDonald and his gang remain in a brush in which the hut is built, about…two or three [miles] from Cranky Jacks, at the time the black woman was at MacDonalds, a strange black not belonging to the Barraba tribe came towards the hut. McDonald prevented him, got a gun and said he would shoot him if he did not go away, but the Barraba black[s] he allows to be about him, some times the robbers take one of the horses at night and leave it [at] the blacks camp during the times they go for plunder… [Kitty] says they generally bring a load and then put it on the horses and carry it to their hut…one of the bushrangers asked her if she saw any white men and desired her not to tell Carroll, when she went to Kurumbung, as he would tell where they were, this woman also told me that the two men that got away from Constable Chitty (two escaped convicts had run away from him…while he was taking them back to Patricks Plains…) were with MacDonald (she knows them well as she was at Carroll’s hut when Chitty called there with them…) she also says that she was close to Mr Scott’s when MacDonald robbed there and gave me a very clear statement of the proceedings of the bushrangers…the Barraba blacks desired her not to tell the whites where MacDonald was, knowing that she generally resides at Kurumbung…[Macdonald] is an excellent bushman and so well acquainted with the bush and passes over the mountains about Barraba…he is very likely to remain there as long as he can supply himself with provisions and as he is so well acquainted with the Barraba blacks, they will do anything for him, as long as he feeds them, and even assist him to his attacks by an armed force…” (Source: Convict Trail Project – Great North Road: John Macdonald)