Frank GardinerTo People
Frank Gardiner (born Francis Christie) was the son of Scottish free settlers who moved to Australia in 1834 taking up a property near Goulburn. Gardiner was first convicted in Geelong for horse theft and after escaping 6 months later would return to New South Wales. This would be the first of many arrests for Gardiner primarily for horse stealing and upon breaking his parole after his release from Cockatoo Island in 1859, he moved south. He would eventually set up a butchery in Lambing Flat reportedly trading in stolen meat.
Joining up with other notorious bushrangers Ben Hall and John Gilbert, it would be his highway robberies which would have him feared along the trade roads of New South Wales. In June of 1862 Gardiner would participate in his most profitable hold up at Coonbong Rock with the gang taking 14,000 pounds from a gold escort. This hold up had Gardiner become a prime target for New South Wales Police and despite escaping to Queensland in an attempt to lay low, he was eventually found and arrested in 1864.
Sentenced to thirty-two years hard labour, the decision to impart such a severe punishment was divisive in Sydney society. A successful petition led by his counsel William Dalley used this sympathy and support from the public in an appeal and in 1872 Gardiner was released on condition of exile. The furore that erupted in the wake of this decision by then Governor Sir Hercules Robinson would produce a flurry of petitions and counter petitions from the opposing side and would eventually lead to the demise of the Parkes Government.
Gardiner left Australia for Hong Kong and eventually settled in America, reportedly running a bar in San Francisco. He is a rare case amongst New South Wales bushrangers as his death at home in America in 1903 is in stark contrast to the brutal and bloodied deaths of his counterparts.