Fifty Christmas's in Goal

“Fifty Christmas’s in goal"
(well there abouts)

How would you like that on your CV these days?

Well this was the case of New Zealand’s first Bushranger Henry Beresford Garrett, birth name Henry Rouse (some say gentleman bushranger)

Released from a Victorian jail as a ticket-to-leave man (meaning he could not leave Victoria) Garrett arrived in Dunedin in August 1861 aged 43. During the voyage he was sought by three others of criminal background being Anderson, Duncan and McLoughlin and later that month they robbed a Dunedin gunsmith of revolvers, rifles a hunting knife and a Chinese double sword.

On the 18 October 1861 they committed what the Otago Daily Times call of Garrett “the most notorious highwayman since Dick Turpin and Claude Duval”

Halfway Between Dunedin and Gabriel’s Gully at a place called Mount Maungatua they held up no less fifteen men over the course of the day, tied them first the robbed them. In total they had a haul of around 400 pounds plus jewellery etc. Ironically during the day Garrett cut tobacco, made hot tea and handed out several nobblers of gin to his prisoners.

Whilst the bushrangers had masks and scarfs to hide their identity these were displaced from time to time during the course of the day. Garratt was just under six foot one inch in height and ramrod straight. This was in an age where the average male height was only five foot five inches. This may have been an achilles heel in his criminal career.

The next day three of the gang rode to Dunedin and boarded the “City of Hobart” bound for Sydney. The one that stayed behind was John Anderson who was observed drinking at McKay’s Hotel at Taieri a few days later by one of the victims. He was arrested and sentenced to three years in prison.

Meanwhile Garrett and co arrived in Sydney and shortly after Duncan and McLoughlin were arrested for robbing a Sydney Bank.

Garrett left the Royal Hotel owing money and was socializing with a young woman when he was arrested for failing to pay this bill on 12 December. In his procession was a watch stolen at Maungatua. This information had been pasted on to the Australian authorities.

Inspector Healey brought the prisoner before the Magistrate the following day and testified that he knew Garrett as he had escorted him back from London to Australia some years before to face trial for robbery. Garrett was charged with being a ticket-to-leave man illegally at large from the Colony of Victoria.

On December 31 the Magistrate decided that Garrett was to be shipped back to Otago to stand trial for the Maungatua Robbery as Victoria did not want him.

Garrett appeared before the Dunedin Magistrate Court on the 17 January 1862 and was committed to the Supreme Court on 15 May and was subsequently found guilty of what the Judge said “was unprecedented in the history of the colony”. He was sentenced to eight years in Dunedin gaol.

So how did Garrett spend “Fifty Christmas’s in Goal”
To be continued:


Actually, I think Lammerlaw knew Garrett and I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t have that Chinese double sword. : :laughing:

Born Henry Rouse in Bottesford, Leicestershire UK on 8/3/1818 he had little schooling, and then learnt coopering.

In 1842 he received 3 months goal for assaulting a gamekeeper

In 1845 he was sentenced to 10 years transportation with 2 others for stealing £50 of cloth.
He was sent to the then hell hole of Norfolk Island to join about 1000 other prisoners there.

Commander Childs and Magistrate Barrow ran the Island at this stage dealing out on average 1000 lashes per week.

After a prisoner uprising in 1846, both Childs and Barrow resigned.
They were replaced by none other than the Demon, John Price who promptly hung 13 for the above crime. It is estimated that Price increased the lashing to 4000 per day but Garrett managed to keep his head down and avoid them – just.

Meanwhile, word had got out of Prices Rule of Terror and in 1847 300 “New Chums” was transferred to Van Dieman’s Land including Garrett.

Towards the end of 1851, he smuggled himself aboard a Trader to Victoria and in 1852 is found to be in Geelong back at his old trade of coopering. This is where he first met five foot four blowhard Richard Burgess of the Burgess gang and the Maungatapu Murder at the top of the South Island in 1866. Garrett described him as a rank old duffer, a bigger loafer and blower never roamed the colonies. Obviously they didn’t get on.

He carried on with his trade and spent two years in Ballarat moving amongst former fellow convicts and became known as “Long Harry” and planning his next move.

On Monday 16th October 1854 Garrett and three accomplices’s robbed the Bank of Victoria in Ballarat of 233 ounces of gold and a considerable amount of 10-pound notes. All in all, about 14000 pounds worth of gold and notes. The newspapers declared it ‘the most daring robbery that has ever contributed to give more notoriety than fame to Ballarat’

“Long Harry “ supplied the four unloaded pistols and disguises and they robbed the Bank towards closing time, leaving a sign outside saying the Bank was closed for an hour, tied up the two staff and gagged them. On leaving they politely locked up after them.

Back at Garrett’s tent, they divvied up the loot and when separate ways. Three of them were arrested over the next month or so trying to leave Australia but Garrett managed to elude the police but was dobbed in by a woman who was arrested for drunkenness and when searched was found to have a bag of 10-pound notes she said Garrett had given her. This led the police to Garretts ‘wife’ who informed them he was bound for England.

Garrett meanwhile was aboard the “Dawstone” bound for England which the police in Melbourne were aware of. When the ship docked in London Garrett was not seen. He had disembarked in Deal and then made his way to London. On the 13th March 1855, he deposited 3 bags of sovereigns and half sovereigns to the value of 2301 pounds. By this time he had another ‘wife” and attended the theatre and other places of entertainment.

He was sighted with his “wife’ both well dressed, by Detective Webb who hesitated to arrest him on The Strand” shout “Cooee” and Garrett made a run for it but was caught by Webb. He was convicted and sent back to Melbourne with a police escort.

On the 21st November 1855, he was tried before the Supreme Court and found guilty. Sentenced to another 10 years in the Prison Hulks in Hobson Bay. It just turns out that John Price who had been transferred back from Norfolk Island was now in charge of these Prison Hulks and after two years apprenticeship on the hulks, Garrett was allowed to work ashore at a quarry. Here again, he ran into Richard Burgess doing time.

Now Price was up to his old tricks of feeding rotten food and subjected them to all kinds of cruelty and in 1857 Garrett was witness to the killing of Price by a mob of mutineers who found life unbearable at the work quarry and stoned him amongst other things to death.

Garrett was released from prison in Melbourne in 1861 as a ticket-to-leave but with slack checking was able to board the “Port Kembla” for Two-a-Pecker, Otago and of course the Maungatua Robbery.

To be continued.


I am a good boy I am - I dont know any thieves, swindlers, vagabonds, mountbanks, charlatans, rogues, fraudsters, itinerants, transients, disreputables or otherwise undesirables!
The closest I have ever had to a Chinese double sword is the Chinamans daughter and the only sword she liked was the pork sword - but she was a dish!


Dunedin Prison was the most modern in the Colony in 1862. In September that year he attempted to escape with four others including Richard Burgess (who had also decamped to Otago and was now doing time after a goldfield robbery and shootout with police) but only Garrett and one other were convicted trying to escape.

The shackled prisoners were made to work outside the prison and Garrett worked on the quarries at Bell Hill, Port Chambers, wharf reclamation and Botanical Gardens and others.

He was still a non- believer but attended Sunday Chapel to break the boredom and it was through this that he started reading the Bible to the extent that his knowledge of it rivalled that of most preachers. And it was those preachers that would help when he was finally freed on 9th February 1868.

Dunedin didn’t want him so he sent packing back to Melbourne. Now Melbourne wanted him ever less and paid his fare back to Dunedin.

During this time he wrote several interesting letters to the papers but you can look them up yourselves if interested.

Back in Dunedin and destitute he was totally dependent on religious charity and still a non- believer attended regularly Brethren meetings but found a job as a cooper at Wellpark Brewery and then Joel’s Brewery, worked hard and managed to save £50 in six months. He also did some work for the surveyor Connell.

But his hobby during this time was handling keys, filing them or cutting them down.

On the 9 November that year it was the Prince of Wales Birthday and a public holiday. Holiday makers emptied out of town mostly for the Vauxhall gardens across the harbour.

Garrett using his keys unlocked a Seed Merchant shop in Princes Street. Unfortunately the owner of the shop while passing on his way to Vauxhall noticed the door ajar and Garrett was sprung. It turned out that he had also entered Mr Bagley’s Chemist in Great King Street.

He was in trouble again on two charges and the local Newspapers had a field day.

Garrett pleaded guilty to the two charges and was, wait for it: ‘sentenced to ten years penal servitude, and that the sentences be cumulative’ meaning twenty years.

From 1868 to 1881 Garrett worked with pick and shovel, joined the prison debating club and wrote about religion but still a non- believer. He was also fortunate the prison library had 250 volumes of literature books.

The prison debating club of course had lawyers, bankers, merchants, teachers etc. A lot of these debates where recorded and he made quite a name for himself. Subjects include Napoleon, Cremation, and Evolution (where he argues ‘If evolution is true, what need of God’.

Also they had some very interesting mock court cases where one side had to argue their case against the other, including a jury.

In 1881 his health declined and he was moved to Lyttelton Goal but by this time was not required to swing a pick and shovel. He was encouraged to write for the Christchurch magazine ‘Society’ and some of his writing has survived.

On the 29th April 1882 he was released with still six years to run on his sentence.

Penniless as the authorities had confiscated his savings of £50, he applied to the Benevolent Society and got a job firstly digging potatoes and then coopering in Victoria Square, Christchurch.

Unable to resist the urge to steel and with a new set of keys he entered Longmans Wine & Spirit store but was apprehended.

On 16 November 1882 he was charged with breaking into a dwelling and carrying away one bottle of wine. Found guilty he was sentenced to another seven years penal servitude.

His health declined and it was decided to transfer him to the Mount Cook Goal in Wellington. He became severely ill here and after 18 months was transferred to the Terrace Goal.

He died on 2 September 1885 insisting to the end not to harass by religion.

He was buried that same day in what now is called the Bolton Street Cemetery in the Church of England section E.

Bugger – undone by woman and a bottle of wine.

As a footnote:

I have tried to find the site of this grave, but found from the ‘Friends of Bolton Street Cemetery’ that the Garrett Henry ID No 102626 has a Plot Unknown Status.

This was often the case in those days as I had the same problem locating Burgess, Kelly’s and Levy grave site in Nelson. They were buried in the Goal yard after being hanged. The Goal was closed in 1898 and the Central Girls School was built on the site in1908. Rumour has it the bodies were dug up and reburied close by in the hard to find Hallowell Cemetery in unconsecrated ground.


This is gold should be talked about in history in school but we no that will never happen unfortunately!