Mudgee History | Bushranger Lowry and the Robbery of the Mudgee Mail Coach


The Bushranger

Frederick Lowry was born in 1836 to respectable stock at Liberty Plains, known as Homebush today. 

He became a capable horse rider at a young age, spending his youth in the Abercrombie River area where he assisted in cattle droving.  

He then sought further fields winning fame as a horse breaker and a buck jump rider. 

No horse could throw him and no other rider could match his skill.  Between the years 1855 and 1858, he was engaged by Charles Bland Lowe, of Mudgee, at the Baron and Yalcogreen stations on the Castlereagh River, north-west of Mendooran.

Frederick Lowry proved to be one of the most reckless, as well an expert rough rider of the time.  

He had few, if any equals, as an all round horse man.  His love of a good horse, tempted him to take what he wanted.  In 1861, he began to steal for himself and for others on a renumerate scale, until the troopers began to hunt him down.   

With an attractive paramour, called Sally, he cleared out to the Abercrombie Range where he joined up with horse thieves Johnny Vane and Micky Burke.

Later Lowry and Sally, set up a hide-away in a mountain cave and  successfully operated for themselves.

The Capture of his paramour Sally

On travelling from the cave one day Sally was sighted by a number of troopers. Then followed a madcap ride though the Ranges.   

Sally was captured but fought like a wild cat.

She was brought to the police station at Bathurst where she was charged with horse stealing and sentenced to gaol for five years. 

The troopers thought Sally would now be a decoy for Lowry and his fellow duffers to attempt to forcefully obtain her release.

Lowry did not “take the bait”. He was hostile at Sally’s sentence and declared war on all authority, particularly the troopers. 

He now saw himself as a professional bushranger and took to the roads in earnest.   

His fame spread through out the Central West. In October, 1862, Lowry sought easy money by attending a race meeting at Campbell River.

When he was thwarted there, he instigated a first class brawl. It took four troopers to throw and tie the outlaw.

He was sentenced to gaol but within days had knocked a hole in the stone wall with a crowbar that one of his companions had conveniently tossed over the wall.  

His robberies and ruthless approach to crime won him notoriety sufficient to attract two desperate bushrangers Larry Cummins and Jack Foley. 

Thus the three formed a gang to surpass all other bushrangers in the area.  They first planned to rob the Mudgee Mail Coach

The Robbery of the Mudgee Mail Coach

The Mudgee Mail Coach had been robbed by others previously but the loot taken was small.

Lowry considered the robbery should be properly planned and if possible ascertain the valuables the coach would be carrying from Mudgee to Bathurst. 

Lowry gleaned information that one of the passengers on the coach would be a Mr Kater, the accountant of the Mudgee Joint Stock Bank, carrying a consignment of worn bank notes, then with a face value of more that 6000 pounds.

His fellow passenger was Mrs Smith, wife of a local publican who had 100 pounds in the inside pocket of her voluminous dress. 

The coach was scheduled to be driven by “Shakespeare” a colourful character with a vast knowledge of English literature and poetry.

On Monday, July 13, 1861, the three bushrangers lay in wait on the Big Hill, about 30 kms from Bowenfels. 

When the coach began to ascend the hill, Lowry and Foley then rode down the road and in full view dressed like a couple of prosperous bushmen, whipped out their pistols and commanded “Shakespeare” to “bail up”.  

In the meantime Cummins kept out of sight acting as a “look-out”.  

Lowry immediately took possession of the case containing the 6000 pounds of banknotes.  Mrs Smith was not searched as Lowry said, “We never molest ladies”.

The bushrangers then headed off in the direction of the Campbell River. 

Capture of the Trio

On August 7, 1863, three troopers and a black tracker, converged on McLey’s  shanty on the Campbell River.

They approached the shanty warily, but there was no need for stealth.  

Foley was hopelessly drunk and was captured without a struggle and then taken to the Hartley gaol. 

Twenty two days after Foley was arrested and information received that Lowry and Cummins were making merry in a shanty at Cookvale Creek.  

Under Sergeant Stephenson, three troopers raided the shanty.  The Sergeant shot Lowry and Cummins surrendered.    

As Lowry was bleeding profusely a dray was commandeered and set off for Goulburn with the prisoners. 

At a stop on the way a doctor was sent for, but Lowry expired, on 30 August, 1863, his last breath uttering “tell them I died game”. 

Six months later, Lowry’s younger brother, James, a cattle duffer, after being shot by Constable Ward, died near Coonabarabran on 19 February, 1864. 

And what happened afterwards to Sally – there is no record.

Note: Henry Edward Kater, bank accountant mentioned above was a member  of the Legislature Council of New South Wales from February, 1889 until September, 1923. 

Larry Cummins died at Wodonga near Albury in October, 1909.