Said to be one of the most unpleasant bushrangers (bandit) of Australia’s past. Morgan terrorised settlers and travellers around Wagga Wagga and the Riverina district of New South Wales during 1862 – 65.
Born in Sydney “Campbelltown” in 1833 of poor Irish parents, he headed south to join the gold rush in 1853. However on the way he turned to a life of petty crime and robbery which eventually earned him a 12 year sentence of hard labour. Following his early release in 1860 now a tormented and hardened criminal, he was to become a legend of the worst kind.
After his release Morgan earned a reputation as a pilferer and horse stealer by the name of ‘Down The River Jack’. Later he shot a policeman, and then began shooting unarmed people during his robberies. He shot anyone that stood against him.
His knowledge of the bush was excellent, and this enabled him to evade police. His hideout 6 miles north of Walla Walla provided an 180 degree view of the surrounding district, and is now a lookout known as ‘Morgans lookout’ (below).
On the 8th April 1865 Morgan held up his last property, Peechelba Station, near Wangaratta. In one of his better moods he demanded that the occupants, the McPhersons, prepare a meal and provide him with entertainment. He kept the family in range of his gun. A maid was allowed to leave the room to tend to a crying baby, having calmed the baby down she climbed out a window, raced to the ajoining property, raised the alarm, came back and rejoined Morgan and the guests.
Having had no sleep, Morgan left the house the next morning to a welcoming party of some 40 policemen and volunteers. He was shot and later died that day 9th April 1865.