The Clarke BrothersTo People
John and Thomas Clarke were born near Braidwood to their emancipated Irish convict father and Irish mother. Although his father was a trained cobbler, he instead made a living through stealing cattle and horses then claiming the reward for their return. His sons would follow a similar path and before long Thomas had been detained in Braidwood prison for stealing cattle. His brother John arranged his escape and joined by their friend Thomas Connell the men began their ruthless reign of terror on southern coast and highlands of New South Wales.
Declared outlaws under the Apprehended Felons Act in 1866, the Clarke brothers were known as the most violent and blood thirsty of all New South Wales bushrangers at the time. Their ability to evade capture was greatly aided by the culture of terror they had created, where fear of retribution stymied any farmer or squatter coming forward with information. A police taskforce with the specific intention of finding the Clarke Brothers and their gang was set up in 1866. Led by Darlinghurst Gaol senior warder John Carroll, they resorted to unsuccessful attempts at bribery and extortion to try and trap the outlaws and were eventually found murdered in 1867.
With public pressure to capture the Clarke Brothers Gang mounting, another specialist police unit was dispatched to Braidwood and in April 1868 Thomas and John Clarke and their accomplices were finally apprehended. Following their trial, the brothers were sentenced to hang and were buried in Rookwood Cemetery.