Mail Robberies by Bushrangers in Australia 1833-1908

Ken Sanford has written a review of a new philatelic book on Mail Robberies by Bushrangers in Australia.

This book should be of interest to anyone interested in Australian postal history.

According to the review by Ken Sanford, this is a study of how bushrangers, and their armed attacks on the Mails, impacted the social and economic health of Australia, and of the struggle by the authorities to deal with the issue over several decades. It demonstrates how all layers of society were affected by these attacks, and how trade and commerce with the interior were almost brought to a standstill in certain areas. Extracts from Proceedings in Parliament, Post Office Returns, editorials and letters to editors of newspapers indicate how parliamentarians, the judiciary, the police, successive Colonial Secretaries and Postmasters-General were apparently incapable of solving the problem.

Incensed settlers, tradesmen, merchants, bankers, coach operators and anyone who needed to travel, were constantly writing irate letters to newspapers demanding something be done. There was impassioned lobbying for guards on mail coaches, but Parliament repeatedly refused to sanction them due to the considerable, expense. A relatively small number of criminals, generically described as bushrangers, were, for a period, holding a country to ransom.

In the 75-year period from 1833 to 1908, 430 armed attacks on the Mail have been identified. There are no reliable official figures for the number of mail robberies during this period and so contemporary reports in newspapers and Police and Government Gazettes have been examined, with over 90,000 references checked. There are comprehensive lists of all attacks on the Mails with the names of the mail carriers and perpetrators, where known. The fate of the mails and references for every incident are included.

Containing 209 pages, soft cover, A4 size, with 82 illustrations, many in colour, this book gives a fascinating insight into the chaos which followed the regular disruption of mail services and the protracted battle between bushrangers and the authorities. Maps showing the locations of the attacks are included and the only recorded items of recovered mail are illustrated. There are eight appendices containing lots of additional information, such as dates & places of attacks on the mail by armed bushrangers, fate of the mail, names of bushrangers with aliases, place where attacks occurred, names of mailmen/drivers, etc.

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