FURTHER PARTICULARS OF PRIEST.
Some time since, it appears, a free man, charged with burglary, absconded from Bothwell, took to the bush, and fell in with Priest, to whom he related his situation ; and he (Priest) having wounded his foot, as I before stated to you, by the accidental discharge of his double-barrelled piece, consented to this man's joining him. On Saturday week, the bolter, either tired of a bush life, or lured by the hope of gain, deserted his companion while he was lying asleep in a kangaroo hunter's hut, near York's Nightcap, at the back of the Cradle Mountain, taking with him a double-barrelled gun, some caps, and twenty rounds of ammunition. While he was sleeping, Priest had his gun by his side, one pair of pistols in his pocket, and a pair of horse pistols in his belt. The bolter made the best of his way to a constable's station at Kemp's Lakes, and accompanied by two of the police, returned to Archibald's hut, having been absent four hours ; but the wary Priest had awoken, and was "wide awake" also to the loss of his gun, as well as to his friend's treachery. The bird had flown—escaped again. In returning to the station, the Bothwell gentleman once more took to the bush. Near the hut there was a beast hanging up weighing about 250 lbs. Burbridge having gained this information, redoubled his exertions for the capture of his slippery antagonist ; he stationed ten parties of three men each in the vicinity of the tier, while he, himself, with three new hands, took up a position where the object of his search was most likely to be found.
On Saturday last, about five o'clock in the evening, the last-named party were in the house of a person named Bates, near Mr. Sutherland's, on the River Isis, for the purpose of obtaining rations, when Burbridge perceived through the window a man approaching the door, whom he, from his limping and his general description, immediately recognised as the very man he wanted. Burbridge opened the door ; Priest walked in, saying, " I am come ; do you know me?" "Yes," replied Burbridge, " Your name is Priest; we are constables ; sit down." He was searched, and a pair of pocket pistols, a large compass, and other articles were taken from him. " Oh," said Priest, "I have seen you ( Burbridge) many times ; you have given me the greatest drilling of any party that has been after me." Previously to entering the house he had concealed his piece and a pair of horse pistols.
Tuesday, September 23.
The bushranger, Daniel Priest, was this morning examined before the Police Magistrate of Longford, charged with the robbery, in conjunction with Smith, at Mr. George Lucas's, adjoining the above township, on the 23rd of June last. The prisoner, who sat during the proceedings, appeared occa- sionally to suffer pain from his foot ; his manner, however, though respectful, was cheerful and unconcerned. He said nothing during the time Mr. Lucas was giving his evidence, until he swore to the coat then worn by Priest as his pro- perty, and also thought the trousers on Priest had been taken from his house. The prisoner smiled and said very can- didly, "Yes, you're right, they're yours; you have told a very correct yarn ; all that you have said is very true." When, after this, the Police Magistrate told him that he should have to find other clothes for him, he answered, "Just as you please, Sir, it's not as I like now.
This robbery bears the same features as his many other ones. No threatening or bad language was used. On seeing superfine clothing in the drawers, they asked for something rougher, as being more suitable for the bush, and evinced much anxiety that the flour should not be wasted. Priest attempted no defence, and upon being informed that every facility should be afforded him if he wished to call any wit- nesses, merely said, "No, Sir, thank ye! I'll deny nothing that's true, but if I catch them false swearing I'll speak."
Wednesday Morning, Sept. 24.
The examination of Daniel Priest was proceeded with this day, relative to the robbery of Mr. Horace Rowcroft, of Woodstock. This gentleman's deposition was clear and comprehensive. Its accuracy was vouched for by the accused himself. The evidence showed that Smith was not so peace- fully inclined as his associate, who declared that there should be no violence ; that he did not wish to hurt any man ; and, moreover, told Mr. Rowcroft's men that bushranging was a bad life. A pair of pistols were identified as having been taken from Woodstock. Mr. Rowcroft thought it only due to Priest to state, that, after he had told him that there was a sick child in the house, he behaved very quietly. Priest, whose deportment was much the same as yesterday, was com- mitted to take his trial for this offence. He openly avows all the offences committed by him. After he was charged with robbing Mr. Howcroft, he exclaimed, "Yes, it's true; I did rob him." Had the police been even moderately active on this occasion, Priest and Smith must have been then appre- hended. Mr. Rowcroft, under various pretexts, detained the bushrangers in his house for an hour and half, knowing that information had been forwarded to Longford. A suffi- cient time also elapsed for the force to have arrived, who, it is said, instead of taking a straight cut by the bush, went by the carriage road, and thus missed the depredators. Had there been a "Burbridge " at hand, the subsequent outrages of these intrepid outlaws would have been prevented.
P.S. A great part, if not the whole, of the uneatable pro- perty taken by Priest will be restored to its respective owners, as he has given information as to where it is to be found. Among other articles there is a telescope of Mr. Williat's,
from which the bushranger admits having derived great advantage, in discovering the locality of the different parties, a valuable double-barrelled fowling-piece of Mr. Bryant's, small telescopes, pistols and caps, and other goods.—
In my last letter, for "caught a thief," read "caught a sheep."