Brief to the Crown (no. 2) by Robert Little, Crown Solicitor, regarding the case Regina vs. James McPherson, otherwise called the Wild Scotchman.

Generally known as ‘The Wild Scotchman’, James McPherson was Queensland’s best-known bushranger. Born in Scotland in 1842, McPherson arrived in Queensland with his parents in 1853 and after completing his formal schooling was apprenticed to the Brisbane building firm John Petrie & Son. In 1863 he suddenly abandoned his employment and spent the next two years travelling throughout Queensland gaining experience in stock work. He first came to the attention of authorities in 1865 when he held up a public house near Bowen at gunpoint. McPherson escaped to the Lachlan River district of New South Wales where he was slightly wounded in a gunfight with police. Captured soon afterwards and remanded in custody in Sydney, the charges against McPherson were dropped after the arresting Police Officer, Sir Frederick Pottinger, died after accidentally shooting himself while on his way to give evidence. Extradited to Queensland to face charges relating to the Bowen incident, McPherson escaped at Mackay and began holding up the mails on the roads around Maryborough, Gladstone and Gayndah. Captured in March 1866 near Gin Gin, he was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment on St Helena Island. Following a petition from influential Brisbane citizens, McPherson was released from custody in December 1874 and returned to stock work. The remainder of his life was exemplary and he died at Burketown in August 1895 leaving a wife and six children.


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