THE DEMON BUSHRANGER
—♦— And How They Sought His Head PAGE FROM THE VIOLENT PAST.
Who was our worst bushranger? A recent writer gives the palm to Michael Howe. Michael Howe, known as the De- mon Bushranger, says an exchange arrived at Hobart Town in 1812, on a sentence of deportation for seven
years for highway robbery. Howe did not relish the prospects of a trip at the Government's expense, and tried to escape by leaping overboard before the vessel left England. On his arrival in Tasmania, Howe show- ed an intractable spirit, and soon made up his mind to join the bush- rangers infesting the country. An opportunity presented itself, and Howe made off with a band led by White head. HIDEOUS COMPACT. A compact was entered into be- tween Howe and Whitehead that if either one was killed, the survivor should cut off his head in order to prevent anyone claiming .the reward offered for it In one encounter be tween the soldiers and the bushrang- ers, Whitehead was shot, and called to Howe, who immediately hacked off the dying man's head with a knife. A reward for one hundred guineas was offered for Howe's head, and, not withstanding this, Howe used to visit Hobart in perfect safety. On one occasion his voice was re- cognised by an old convict named Worral, who had taken part in a pre- yious chase against him, and Worral immediately attacked him, with the hope of obtaining the reward. He might have succeeded, but after a desperate struggle, Howe, with the assistance of a storekeeper, who hit Worral on the head with a billet of wood, escaped, and the storekeeper informed Worral on his recovering consciousness that a strange man had hit him. More raids and murders caused the Government to institute a regular campaign against Howe and his band. They were hunted from hiding place to hiding place, gradually thinned out, until only a few remained. One desperado, named Hillier, murdered two of his companions, but was short- ly afterwards captured, and the sever- ed heads of his victims were tied round his neck as he was marched to the place of his execution. BECOMES DESPERATE. Howe became desperate at the loss of his companions, and offered to sur- render if granted a pardon. The Go- vernor foolishly assented, and Howe was granted his liberty on condition
that he joined in the hunt for the re- maining members of his band. About this time a few desperate convicts escaped and joined the bush- rangers, who set out for their old haunts. This news was too much for Howe's wanderlust and he escaped from Hobart to join them. An awful double murder by Howe caused a pro- clamation to be issued, and steps were at once taken to apprehend the rob- bers, who sent messages of defiance to the Government Armed bands searched for the criminals, and lay in ambush at every turn. The old con- vict Worral, with two companions, traced Howe's movements, and came on him in a wild fastness, wherein a fierce contest ensued which resulted in Howe's death. GRUESOME END. The exultant captors cut off his head, and brought the gruesome tro- phy post haste to Hobart to claim the reward. Worral received a third share of the reward, and was grant- ed a free pardon, together with a free passage to England. He received a substantial bounty from the relieved settlers and the thanks of the Gover- nor for his tenacity and pluck in run- ning the most picturesque cruel bush- ranger Tasmania ever knew to earth.