INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF TROOPER AINSLIE. [As promised in last issue, Mr. Henry Selkirk, F.R.A.H.S., has contri- buted the following historical and most interesting article on the early pion- eer and veteran of the Battle of Waterloo. Again, we thank Mr. Sel- kirk for his research work, adding, as it does, to the early history of our Federal Territory, taken from official documents. Next month Mr. Selkirk will deal with some facts about Mr. J. J. Moore.—Ed. "Pioneer."] The Living Ainslie. One of the outstanding natural feat- tres of the Federal capital (Canberra) is Mount Ainslie, a mountain of 2762 feet elevation, under the shelter of which nestles Duntroon, now the Royal Military College, but originally the old homestead of the Hon. Robert Campbell, the site of which bore the aboriginal name of "Pialligo." Mr. Campbell made his original settlement at Pialligo not earlier than the latter part of 1823, soon after Captain Currie and Major Ovens, in May of that year, had explored in this direction and discovered Monaro Plains. No doubt Mr. Campbell's settlement at Pialligo was the direct result of Cap- tain Currie's report to the Governor of the excellent country he had passed through. We know that the explorers on their outward journey found the most southerly limit of settlement at that time in the vicinity of Lake Bathurst, some thirty to thirty-five miles from Queanbeyan, for their jour- nal, under date of May 26, 1823, reads thus:— "Passed up a valley by a chain of ponds for about five miles, leaving behind "the last and most distant stock station from Sydney in this direction, and then through gullies and stony ridges to Lake George." Mr. Robert Campbell is usually credited with being the first person to establish a stock station at Lime- stone Plains, but there is much to be said in favor of a slightly earlier oc- cupation by Lieutenant Joshua John Moore, the Registrar of the Governor's Court, who in a letter to the Colonial Secretary dated December 15. 1823, asks to be allowed to purchase certain land of which he had been in occupa- tion for upwards of three years. He writes:— "The land which I wish to pur- chase is situate at 'Canberry,' on the E. bank of the river which waters Limestone Plains, above its junction with the Murrumbeeja adjoining the grant of Mr. Robert Campbell, sen." From the preceding we have evi- dence that in May, 1823, there was no pastoral settlement further south than the vicinity of Lake Bathurst, and that Mr. Moore made his settlement at "Canberry" in the same year. At the present moment, however, it is not my purpose to discuss the rela- tive claims of Messrs. Moore and Campbell to priority of settlement, but rather to accept the facts that they were next-door neighbors, their respective properties of Canberry and Pialligo being at this time under the management of overseers, James Cowan for Mr. Moore and — Ainslie for Mr. Campbell. Hitherto Ainslie has been rather a mythical person; the romantic story of Waterloo savored somewhat of the nature of a fairy tale; not so much as a letter referring to him could be found, and even his Christian name seemed forgotten or unknown. Such at least was my experience. The only reference to him that I could trace was in the Post Office Directory for 1836, where one — Ainslie appears as resident at Limestone Plains. Re- cently, however, I have discovered the living Ainslie, and traced some of his doings, which brings his adventure at Waterloo quite within the pale of probability. Towards the end of 1826, Limestone Plains was much troubled by a gang of bushrangers, the principals being two escaped convicts, arch scoundrels, by name John Tennant and John Rix. Among their numerous depredations they visited and robbed the hut of Mr. Ainslie at "Pialligo," who subsequent- ly, giving evidence against them, signed his depositions as "James Ainslie, sup- erintendent to the Hon. Mr. Campbell at Limestone Plains." The following is the substance of his evidence:— On November 21 or 22, 1826, James Ainslie took the whole of Mr. Camp- bell's men, with one exception, to wash sheep, leaving as hutkeeper a man names Charles Bowman, an assigned servant of Mr. Campbell, who at this time was an invalid. About noon, a man (afterwards identified as Ten- nant) arrived at the hut armed with a pistol, which he presented at Bow- man, threatening to blow his brains out if he so much as looked about him. He then bound Bowman hand and foot and tied a blanket round his head. Presently another man arrived on the scene, and from the sounds that ensued, Bowman judged that they were breaking into the store. Ainslie, returning home about 3 p.m., found everything in confusion. The
storeroom burst open, and his poor hutkeeper in the condition just de- scribed. He immediately liberated Bowman, and with him proceeded to investigate the extent of the robbery, which consisted of 29lb. of Brazil to- bacco, four blue vests, two blue jackets, one striped vest, one black vest, one yellow vest, one light-colored vest with pearl buttons, one light colored vest with covered buttons, one black silk handkerchief, one plaid cot- ton handkerchief, three red shirts, pair jean trousers, pair fustian trousers, upwards of 150lb. of flour, a quantity of tea and sugar, two or three gallons of spirits, powder and shot, pair half boots, four holey dollars, three Span- ish dollars, two rupees, one Spitalfields silk handkerchief, one cotton night- cap, and one small horse-pistol, which had been hanging on a nail beside Mr. Ainslie's bed. Possibly this shial, horse-pistol may have been a relic of his old soldiering days, and even have been carried by him at Waterloo. Whatever other weaknesses Ainslie may have had, he certainly had a ten- der regard for waistcoats, judging by the choice assortment of which he has just been relieved by the bushrangers. Knowing that Tennant and his party were in the vicinity, Ainslie felt convinced that they were responsible for the robbery. Next morning Ains- lie, in company with Mr. Cowan, went out in search of the bushrangers and their loot, and found in a hollow tree a quantity of tea and sugar in a sack tied in the middle. Mr. Cowan men- tions that, after taking the tea and sugar home, he, in company with Mr. Duncan Macfarlane, superintendent to Mr. George Palmer, went out again and quite accidentally came upon Ten- nant hiding under a fallen tree, close to where the tea and sugar had been secreted. Tennant, who was armed with a fowling-piece, immediately started up and cried out to Cowan, "If you come any further, I'll blow your brains out." As Cowan and Mac- farlane were unarmed, they considered discretion the better part of valor and retired. On January 8, 1828, about 2 a.m., Mr. J. J. Moore's station was stuck up by Tennant and Rix, and all his men ranged up and placed under guard. Mr. Cowan, awakened by the noise, jumped out of bed and armed himself with a musket handing ano- ther to his hutkeeper, William Wat- erson. The bushrangers demanded that Cowan should open the door and come out, to which Cowan replied that "he would defend his hut to the last." Tennant, whom Mr. Cowan had been able to recognise (the night being moonlight), "making use of horrid oaths and violent threats," said to Cowan, "If you don't come out of the hut I will burn you out." Tennant's companion, who proved to be Rix called out, "Tennant, fire in, what signifies the life of one or two?" Ten- nant was as good as his word, and actually set the bark roof alight on two occasions, but probably from be- ing damp the bark would not burn. At this juncture, Thomas Leahy, an assigned servant of Mr. J. J. Moore, appealed to Tennant, saving,. "Don't do that, Tennant, Mr. Cowan never did you any harm." Tennant replied, Well, I will not burn the hut, but if anyone, Scotch, Irish, or English came after them, he would have their lives. The bushrangers then retired to the men's hut, where one of Mr. Ainslie's men was ordered to get them some food, having partaken of which the miscreants made off. At sunrise, Mr. Cowan went over to Mr. Campbell's station and reported to James Ainslie what had happened, saying, "It was time something was done." Ainslie's reply was short, sharp, and to the purpose, character- istic of the old trooper: "I will go out and take them, dead or alive," Cowan replying that he would go with him. Ainslie, hearing that two con- stables were at a neighboring station, sent for and requested them to ac- company him in pursuit of the gang, also obtaining the services of four natives as trackers. John Jones, dis- trict constable, accordingly joined Mr. Ainslie at "Pialligo," proceeding thence to "Canberry," where Constable Fen- ton, Mr. Cowan, Mr. Macfarlane, and others joined the party. Leaving "Canberry," the natives soon picked up the track of the bushrangers, which was followed round the north side of a hill into the forest land, the track becoming quite plain and leading to- wards the Marimbige River. After following the track for about five miles they came to a brush on rising ground, where one of the blacks, by name "Make-a-cake," called out, "Make a light," meaning that he saw the bush- rangers encampment. While the party halted to arrange their plans, Ainslie, unnoticed, rushed into the tent alone and surprised Teannant and Rix. Plac- ing his musquet to Tennant's breast, he said, "You rascal, Tennant! If you move I will put the contents of the piece through your heart." At this moment, in ignorance that Ainslie was in the tent, three shots were fired, which wounded Tennant in the neck, face, and hands, and Rix in the knee, but fortunately, our gallant trooper es- caped injury, promptly shouting, "Cease firing, the men are fast." Mr.
Macfarlane promptly rushed to Ains- lie's assistance, relieving him of Ten- nant, whom he gave in charge to Con- stable Jones. A large quantity of stolen property was recovered, and among other articles we are glad to know that Mr. Ainslie was able to swear positively to his light-colored vest with the pearl buttons, and to his nightcap marked with his initials, but with his innate Scottish caution refused to swear to the other items, as they had "no particular private marks, though verily believing them to belong to himself and some of his men." Tennant after trial, and one of his accomplices in other robberies, were found guilty of larceny and hanged, while Rix, for some reason was found not guilty. I have to express my indebtedness to the Mitchell Library for the op- portunity of perusing the documents from which most of my facts have been obtained. —HENRY SELKIRK, June 14, 1926.