McCoskers’ Brush with a Bushranger’s Brother

1883 was not  a good year for Cornelius A McCosker and his brother in law James Galvin.  In October 1883 they found themselves sensationally accused of Robbery Under Arms by Charles O’Malley – robbery at Scotts Hotel at Mountain Creek near Armidale, NSW. They were held in custody with fellow accused Patrick Paddy McManus until they were acquitted in the Armidale Courthouse in January 1884.

They were actually the second lot of accused to be acquitted of this robbery in the courts. Back in July 1883, two navvies aka railway men working on the railway line (extension of the Great Northern Railway to Armidale ?), William Gillott and James Carr, had been first accused and arrested. Coincidentally, Cornelius McCosker had been on the Jury that heard their case and was a bondsman for them when they were freed on bail, before their acquittal – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, .

The accuser of Cornelius, James and Paddy had been one Charles O’Malley – who claimed that he had acted in concert with Cornelius, James and Paddy.  Ultimately Charles was found guilty and got 10 years of hard labour on the roads – however the Judge directed the Jury to acquit Cornelius, James and Paddy. It was Charles’ second offence – and in the July 1883 robbery he had discharged a weapon and wounded Scott at the hotel.

At the time, the newspapers claimed that Charles O’Malley was the brother of the notorious bushranger John O’Malley/O’Mealley who had been killed years earlier in a shoot-out in 1863. Researching Charles O’Malley is complicated by the sheer volume of articles on Trove about a race horse of the same name in the mid 19th Century. And then there was an author Charles Lever who had a book series about a character named Charles O’Malley back then.

Who were these O’Malley’s ? Sons of Ireland ?

Firstly the spelling varies from Mally to O’Meally to O’Malley, and probably a couple more?

There has been a degree of romanticism about Australian bushrangers, and up in northern NSW there is even a stretch of road called Thunderbolt’s Way – we’ve travelled it on several occasions during our fossicking travels to and from Inverell.

But what is the reality of our Australian bushrangers ? The recent History Channel series on Foxtel “Lawless – the Real Bushrangers” did not really paint a rosy picture.

The AussieGenes blog and Mark Matthews’ Ben Hall Bushranger blog both paint an unflattering picture of Charles O’Malley’s brother, John O’Malley/O’Mealley and his exploits. Apparently brother John was associated with both the Ben Hall and Frank Gardiner’s Bushranger Gangs – click here 1, 2, .

The articles in both of these blogs  see off any romantic notions about bushrangers such as John O’Malley/O’Mealley, Ben Hall and Frank Gardiner.

On the other hand, you have to wonder about the police’s burning down of their father Patrick O’Malley/O’Mealley’s Public House in September 1863, even though no bushrangers had been found there during an earlier search – 1, 2,  . Was the 9 year old Charles present during this wanton destruction ?

Father Patrick and his brother Peter, both of County Mayo were convicted at Mayo in March 1831, and transported on the Norfolk (3) in 1831, arriving in the Colony in 1832 – 1, 2, 3, . Some suggested Patrick for sheep stealing and others suggest that it was for an unlawful oaths – the records are contradictory. Patrick was sentenced to be transported to the NSW Colony for life, and others have him transported for seven years, like his brother Peter.

In 1839 Patrick’s convict application to marry was granted, and he married Julia Downey, an Irish free emigrant, in Yass. In 1848, Patrick was finally granted a Conditional Pardon. Sons John and Charles were born in 1839/1840 and 1854 respectively. John was shot and killed in 1863, while Charles was believed to have passed away in 1939, after fathering ten children. Nine of Charles’ children are believed to have survived to adulthood.

Around 1988, Lorna H Gilmore wrote a book “The O’Malley Heritage  : a history of the family of Patrick O’Malley and Julia Downie” – it might make interesting reading and answer some intriguing questions ? For example …

What is perplexing is that Charles had been sentenced to 10 Years Hard Labour on the Roads in January 1884 – and yet at least four of his children were believed to have been born in that period of his punishment – ie 1886, 1888, 1890 and 1892 – Charles Jnr, Herbert, May and Elvy ?.

Of course – another intriguing question : how did Cornelius, James and Paddy come to be in contact with a family member of such a notorious criminal ? Through the Pubs was the obvious answer  – but what other information is out there ?




About Kerrie Anne Christian

Interests - Travel, Photography, Developing Websites, Social Media, Writing, Local History, Researcher, Genealogy
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s