HALL, Benjamin (1838-1865)


HALL, Benjamin (1838-1865)
bushranger
was born at Breeza station, New South Wales, on 8 March 1838. He bought a small property, married Bridget Walsh, and was doing well. His wife, however, eloped with another man, and shortly afterwards Hall was charged with highway robbery and arrested. There appears to have been no direct evidence against him, but he evidently fell under suspicion because he had known Frank Gardiner (q.v.), and was seen at the local races with a man of bad character. Bail was refused, but after having been confined for some weeks he was tried and acquitted. Returning to his homestead he sold it for a small sum, and shortly afterwards was arrested a second time on a charge of having taken part in the Engowra escort robbery, but was discharged. Meeting Gardiner again he fell under his influence, joined the gang, and after Gardiner disappeared worked with Dunn and Gilbert. There was bloodshed sometimes, but there appears to be no record of Hall having killed anyone. When the Gundagai to Yass mail was robbed Gilbert shot a policeman, and not long afterwards Hall left his associates and went into hiding. He was tracked and surrounded by police about 12 miles from Forbes, and was shot on 5 May 1865.
Before Hall went on the road he had a good character as a steady, industrious and good-hearted young man, and after he had been shot and brought in by the police people remarked on his handsome face, and the absence of anything forbidding about it. When his wife left him she took his young son with her and Hall appears to have become desperate. His name often occurs in the old bush ballads, and a kind of Robin Hood legend grew up among his sympathizers.
"He never robbed a needy man
His records sure will show
How staunch and loyal to his mates
How manly to the foe.
. . . . .
"They found his place of ambush then
And cautiously they crept
And savagely they murdered him
While still their victim slept.
...
"No more he'll mount his gallant steed
To range the mountains high:
Poor widows' friend in poverty
Our bold Ben Hall, goodbye."
George E. Boxall, The Story of the Australian Bushrangers; B. Cronin and Arthur Russell, Bushranging Silhouettes; Jack Bradshaw, The True History of the Australian Bushrangers; The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 May, 1865; A. B. Paterson, Old Bush Songs.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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