Jack DonohueTo People
Born in Scotland in the early 1800s, Jack Donohue was sentenced to transportation to Australia in 1823 for the crime of 'intent to commit a felony'. Initially sent to work on a convict farm in Parramatta, he would eventually escape into the surrounding bushland with two men known as Kilroy and Smith and the trio began robbing coaches on the trade route between Sydney and Windsor. Upon capture in 1828 the three were sentenced to death by hanging, yet Donohue escaped whilst being transported between the court and gaol. His plucky escape had him become something of a folklore hero in New South Wales at the time.
Described by some as a 'Robin Hood' character, he was charming and attractive, and was considered one of the first 'wild colonial boys' of his era. Joined by William Webber and John Walmsley, his gang frequented the major trade routes between the Hunter Valley, Bathurst and the Illawarra regions. With only £20 on his head, Donohue evaded capture until 1830 when in desperation the government increased the bounty to £100 and the Superintendent of Police proposed that no further Tickets of Leave be issued until Donohue had been captured. In September of 1830, a group of policemen and armed civilians led by Sergeant Hodson descended upon the gang in Campbelltown Valley. Reportedly vocal in encouraging their fire, Donohue was eventually shot through the head and killed.
The legend of Wild Jack Donohue escalated following his death with one of the many ballads and songs about his life banned by the government for being seditious. It is widely assumed that these early songs formed the basis for the well-loved Australia folk song 'The Wild Colonial Boy'.