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Date of birth: 1829
Native Place: England
Trade: Whitesmith
Hight: 5ft 7in
Complexion: Fresh
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Brown
Geelong Gaol: 1888, 1889, 1894

The death of Frederick Clarke, better known as “Josh ” Clarke, took place in the Geelong gaol on the on the 4th August 1904, which brought to the end one of the most remarkable careers in the history of Victoria’s criminals. Clarke was a natural criminal, and although the list of offences for which he was at various periods cast into prison, included robbery with violence, burglary, house-breaking, garrotting, larceny from the person, horse stealing, simple larceny, gaol-breaking, and having house breaking implements in his possession, he concocted many crimes which were carried out by others. According to the gaol records he was born in Yorkshire in 1829. He entered upon his remarkable career of crime in his early youth, and while he was yet in his teens he was arrested with two others in Yorkshire for violence, one of his companions being after wards hung. For that crime Clarke was sentenced to 10 years penal servitude, but this punishment did not take a deterrent effect upon his criminal impulses, because in 1847 he was again in serious trouble, and transported to Van Diemen’s Land. While in Tasmania he gave the authorities consider able trouble. He tried to break away once. He promoted a conspiracy amongst the convicts to seize a schooner, and he was four times flogged, receiving on each occasion 100 lashes. In 1852 he had obtained his liberty, and emigrated to Victoria, and Geelong taking his fancy, he started business in Corio street as a barber, but he didn’t stay long there. He joined with others in the rush to the Ballarat gold fields, and there he established a barber’s saloon, which was the resort of the worst characters then at Ballarat. Such associations did not have a tendency to make him any better, and in due course he was arrested and found guilty of horse stealing. That was on November 15th, 1854, when he received his first sentence in Victoria, 10 years on the roads. From that date Clarke has hardly ever been out of gaol, and, as a matter of fact, he has only enjoyed two and a half years of freedom during his sojourn of 52 years in Victoria. The sentences passed upon him at various periods of his life aggregated no less than 72years. In 1898 in company with Christopher O’Farrell, he broke gaol and remained at large for some time. In connection with this it will be remembered that the arrest of O’Farrell was accomplished by Constable Mulderry. O’Farrell was run to death in the vicinity of Lake Wendouree, and when at bay made a vicious attack on the constable with a knife, but Mulderry escaped without serious injury. Clarke was captured about the same time in the Learmonth district, and the strangest part of the whole affair was that up to their arrest the prisoners wore their gaol clothes. In 1895 Clarke made a second attempt to escape, but he was found by a warder surrounded by a heap of bricks and mortar which he had loosened from the walls of his cell with a piece of iron which he had wrenched from bucket. On his discharge from gaol in 1902 lie did not remain long at large, as he was arrested early in 1903 in Melbourne, il here he received a sentence of four years shop-breaking. He was serving this sentence at the time of his death.

ON THIS DAY……31st October 1889

Fredrick “Josh” Clark and Christopher “Christie” Farrell were both ex convicts transported from England to Van Demons Land. Once both men had received their tickets of leave they sailed to Victoria, arriving at the beginning of the Victorian gold rush. Both men found there way back to the lives thy once lived in England, preying upon those returning from the gold fields. By 1889 both Clark and Farrell were in there early to late 60’s and were serving 14 year sentences in Pentridge Gaol in Melbourne. Farrell was charged with the attempted murder of a police man during his arrest at Fitzroy in 1887 and Clark for being a systematic malingering. Due to the prisoners age and behaviour both prisoners were transferring Geelong Gaol. About midnight on Monday a warder named Cain commenced his shift at the Geelong gaol. At two minutes to 2am he hard a knocking, from cell 13 occupied by a prisoner named Frederick “Josh”Clarke. Cain unlocked the trap in the door and Clarke asked for a drink of water. The warder brought the water, and was handing it through the hole when he was seised from behind by Farrell. Clarke then came from his cell and seized Cain who saw that the other man was a prisoner named Christopher “Christie”Farrell who was holding a large stone in his hand. He threatened to beat out the warder’s brains if he uttered a single word. Clark had cleverly made a skeleton key, by melting coin into the shape of the key. Clark worked as a blacksmith in the confinements of the gaol. Once the warder opened the trapdoor and walked of to get a glass of water for the prisoner. Clark then simply reached his arm though the opening in the door and let him escape. Once free he quickly unlocked Farrell’s cell before returning to his own and waiting for Cain to return. The men gagged Cain and tied his hands and feet, and took off his boots and carried him to the cook’s house, and tied him to the table, and left him there. He was found just before 6am by the chief warder, who raised the alarm. The two prisoners had meanwhile scaled the gaol wall. Immediately the alarm was given the police who scoured the country in all directions without finding any trace of the escaped prisoners. Farrell was found first on the 16th of October and Clark four days later, both men were heading north to NSW. Warder Cain was confined to his bed, owing to the injuries he received. Four His throat was greatly Swollen, and he is only able to speak with difficulty. An inquiry into the escape was held on 31st October, 1889 which saw the governor of the gaol reprimanded and the warders on duty demoted – this despite Farrell’s saying that the warder Cain had fought like a lion and should not be punished for is failure to prevent their escape. In 1923 a large brass key which proved to be a master key from the era of Clark and Farrell’s escape was found when grounds west of the Geelong Supreme Court were being cleared. Its rough-cut appearance suggested that it was an illegal copy and it was widely believed that this was the key used by Clark and Farrell in their escape. A version of events described in the gaol display has an elderly Clark claiming that he threw the key into the grounds on his way to court however, it seems highly unlikely that having been found in possession of such a key, Clark would have been allowed to keep it. A report in the paper a few days after his arrest indicated that he was found with a skeleton key on his person which had been cut from a penny. At the time the authorities were quick to point out that the make of the key was not such as could have been made in the gaol. Clark died in Geelong Gaol on 4th August, 1904, at the age of 104. Clark had arrived in Tasmania in 1847 at the age of 18, he would go on to send a total of 85 years and 7 months in gaol, over half is life behind bars. Farrell also died in the gaol at the age of 70 on 1st September, 1895. Farrell was also transported to Tasmania, arriving in 1848 and by 1851 he was in Victoria” and joined up with the “Suffolk Gang” as the convict poet. The gang would held up several mail coaches and miners alike. Farrell spent 48 years in prisoned in Australia and 46 of those years were in iron changes.

 

ON THIS DAY…… 21st October 1893

On the 21st of October 1893, Josh Clark made his last attempt to escape from the Geelong Gaol. At the time Clark was sharing a cell with another male prisoner, both the men decided to escape by tunnelling through the thick walls. The men managed to remove 12 bricks from one of the gaol walls, but the outer blue stone wall stopped their progress. Clark had lifted the floor boards of the cell on the third floor to hide the bricks and mortar. They were discovered when Clarks cell mate dropped a brick. Both the prisoners received and extra six months imprisonment added to their sentenced for attempting to escape from the gaol.

 

Date of birth: 1829
Native Place: England
Trade: Whitesmith
Hight: 5ft 7in
Complexion: Fresh
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Brown
Geelong Gaol: 1888, 1889, 1894

The death of Frederick Clarke, better known as “Josh ” Clarke, took place in the Geelong gaol on the on the 4th August 1904, which brought to the end one of the most remarkable careers in the history of Victoria’s criminals. Clarke was a natural criminal, and although the list of offences for which he was at various periods cast into prison, included robbery with violence, burglary, house-breaking, garrotting, larceny from the person, horse stealing, simple larceny, gaol-breaking, and having house breaking implements in his possession, he concocted many crimes which were carried out by others. According to the gaol records he was born in Yorkshire in 1829. He entered upon his remarkable career of crime in his early youth, and while he was yet in his teens he was arrested with two others in Yorkshire for violence, one of his companions being after wards hung. For that crime Clarke was sentenced to 10 years penal servitude, but this punishment did not take a deterrent effect upon his criminal impulses, because in 1847 he was again in serious trouble, and transported to Van Diemen’s Land. While in Tasmania he gave the authorities consider able trouble. He tried to break away once. He promoted a conspiracy amongst the convicts to seize a schooner, and he was four times flogged, receiving on each occasion 100 lashes. In 1852 he had obtained his liberty, and emigrated to Victoria, and Geelong taking his fancy, he started business in Corio street as a barber, but he didn’t stay long there. He joined with others in the rush to the Ballarat gold fields, and there he established a barber’s saloon, which was the resort of the worst characters then at Ballarat. Such associations did not have a tendency to make him any better, and in due course he was arrested and found guilty of horse stealing. That was on November 15th, 1854, when he received his first sentence in Victoria, 10 years on the roads. From that date Clarke has hardly ever been out of gaol, and, as a matter of fact, he has only enjoyed two and a half years of freedom during his sojourn of 52 years in Victoria. The sentences passed upon him at various periods of his life aggregated no less than 72years. In 1898 in company with Christopher O’Farrell, he broke gaol and remained at large for some time. In connection with this it will be remembered that the arrest of O’Farrell was accomplished by Constable Mulderry. O’Farrell was run to death in the vicinity of Lake Wendouree, and when at bay made a vicious attack on the constable with a knife, but Mulderry escaped without serious injury. Clarke was captured about the same time in the Learmonth district, and the strangest part of the whole affair was that up to their arrest the prisoners wore their gaol clothes. In 1895 Clarke made a second attempt to escape, but he was found by a warder surrounded by a heap of bricks and mortar which he had loosened from the walls of his cell with a piece of iron which he had wrenched from bucket. On his discharge from gaol in 1902 lie did not remain long at large, as he was arrested early in 1903 in Melbourne, il here he received a sentence of four years shop-breaking. He was serving this sentence at the time of his death.

ON THIS DAY……31st October 1889

Fredrick “Josh” Clark and Christopher “Christie” Farrell were both ex convicts transported from England to Van Demons Land. Once both men had received their tickets of leave they sailed to Victoria, arriving at the beginning of the Victorian gold rush. Both men found there way back to the lives thy once lived in England, preying upon those returning from the gold fields. By 1889 both Clark and Farrell were in there early to late 60’s and were serving 14 year sentences in Pentridge Gaol in Melbourne. Farrell was charged with the attempted murder of a police man during his arrest at Fitzroy in 1887 and Clark for being a systematic malingering. Due to the prisoners age and behaviour both prisoners were transferring Geelong Gaol. About midnight on Monday a warder named Cain commenced his shift at the Geelong gaol. At two minutes to 2am he hard a knocking, from cell 13 occupied by a prisoner named Frederick “Josh”Clarke. Cain unlocked the trap in the door and Clarke asked for a drink of water. The warder brought the water, and was handing it through the hole when he was seised from behind by Farrell. Clarke then came from his cell and seized Cain who saw that the other man was a prisoner named Christopher “Christie”Farrell who was holding a large stone in his hand. He threatened to beat out the warder’s brains if he uttered a single word. Clark had cleverly made a skeleton key, by melting coin into the shape of the key. Clark worked as a blacksmith in the confinements of the gaol. Once the warder opened the trapdoor and walked of to get a glass of water for the prisoner. Clark then simply reached his arm though the opening in the door and let him escape. Once free he quickly unlocked Farrell’s cell before returning to his own and waiting for Cain to return. The men gagged Cain and tied his hands and feet, and took off his boots and carried him to the cook’s house, and tied him to the table, and left him there. He was found just before 6am by the chief warder, who raised the alarm. The two prisoners had meanwhile scaled the gaol wall. Immediately the alarm was given the police who scoured the country in all directions without finding any trace of the escaped prisoners. Farrell was found first on the 16th of October and Clark four days later, both men were heading north to NSW. Warder Cain was confined to his bed, owing to the injuries he received. Four His throat was greatly Swollen, and he is only able to speak with difficulty. An inquiry into the escape was held on 31st October, 1889 which saw the governor of the gaol reprimanded and the warders on duty demoted – this despite Farrell’s saying that the warder Cain had fought like a lion and should not be punished for is failure to prevent their escape. In 1923 a large brass key which proved to be a master key from the era of Clark and Farrell’s escape was found when grounds west of the Geelong Supreme Court were being cleared. Its rough-cut appearance suggested that it was an illegal copy and it was widely believed that this was the key used by Clark and Farrell in their escape. A version of events described in the gaol display has an elderly Clark claiming that he threw the key into the grounds on his way to court however, it seems highly unlikely that having been found in possession of such a key, Clark would have been allowed to keep it. A report in the paper a few days after his arrest indicated that he was found with a skeleton key on his person which had been cut from a penny. At the time the authorities were quick to point out that the make of the key was not such as could have been made in the gaol. Clark died in Geelong Gaol on 4th August, 1904, at the age of 104. Clark had arrived in Tasmania in 1847 at the age of 18, he would go on to send a total of 85 years and 7 months in gaol, over half is life behind bars. Farrell also died in the gaol at the age of 70 on 1st September, 1895. Farrell was also transported to Tasmania, arriving in 1848 and by 1851 he was in Victoria” and joined up with the “Suffolk Gang” as the convict poet. The gang would held up several mail coaches and miners alike. Farrell spent 48 years in prisoned in Australia and 46 of those years were in iron changes.

 

ON THIS DAY…… 21st October 1893

On the 21st of October 1893, Josh Clark made his last attempt to escape from the Geelong Gaol. At the time Clark was sharing a cell with another male prisoner, both the men decided to escape by tunnelling through the thick walls. The men managed to remove 12 bricks from one of the gaol walls, but the outer blue stone wall stopped their progress. Clark had lifted the floor boards of the cell on the third floor to hide the bricks and mortar. They were discovered when Clarks cell mate dropped a brick. Both the prisoners received and extra six months imprisonment added to their sentenced for attempting to escape from the gaol.

 

Date of birth: 1829
Native Place: England
Trade: Whitesmith
Hight: 5ft 7in
Complexion: Fresh
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Brown
Geelong Gaol: 1888, 1889, 1894

The death of Frederick Clarke, better known as “Josh ” Clarke, took place in the Geelong gaol on the on the 4th August 1904, which brought to the end one of the most remarkable careers in the history of Victoria’s criminals. Clarke was a natural criminal, and although the list of offences for which he was at various periods cast into prison, included robbery with violence, burglary, house-breaking, garrotting, larceny from the person, horse stealing, simple larceny, gaol-breaking, and having house breaking implements in his possession, he concocted many crimes which were carried out by others. According to the gaol records he was born in Yorkshire in 1829. He entered upon his remarkable career of crime in his early youth, and while he was yet in his teens he was arrested with two others in Yorkshire for violence, one of his companions being after wards hung. For that crime Clarke was sentenced to 10 years penal servitude, but this punishment did not take a deterrent effect upon his criminal impulses, because in 1847 he was again in serious trouble, and transported to Van Diemen’s Land. While in Tasmania he gave the authorities consider able trouble. He tried to break away once. He promoted a conspiracy amongst the convicts to seize a schooner, and he was four times flogged, receiving on each occasion 100 lashes. In 1852 he had obtained his liberty, and emigrated to Victoria, and Geelong taking his fancy, he started business in Corio street as a barber, but he didn’t stay long there. He joined with others in the rush to the Ballarat gold fields, and there he established a barber’s saloon, which was the resort of the worst characters then at Ballarat. Such associations did not have a tendency to make him any better, and in due course he was arrested and found guilty of horse stealing. That was on November 15th, 1854, when he received his first sentence in Victoria, 10 years on the roads. From that date Clarke has hardly ever been out of gaol, and, as a matter of fact, he has only enjoyed two and a half years of freedom during his sojourn of 52 years in Victoria. The sentences passed upon him at various periods of his life aggregated no less than 72years. In 1898 in company with Christopher O’Farrell, he broke gaol and remained at large for some time. In connection with this it will be remembered that the arrest of O’Farrell was accomplished by Constable Mulderry. O’Farrell was run to death in the vicinity of Lake Wendouree, and when at bay made a vicious attack on the constable with a knife, but Mulderry escaped without serious injury. Clarke was captured about the same time in the Learmonth district, and the strangest part of the whole affair was that up to their arrest the prisoners wore their gaol clothes. In 1895 Clarke made a second attempt to escape, but he was found by a warder surrounded by a heap of bricks and mortar which he had loosened from the walls of his cell with a piece of iron which he had wrenched from bucket. On his discharge from gaol in 1902 lie did not remain long at large, as he was arrested early in 1903 in Melbourne, il here he received a sentence of four years shop-breaking. He was serving this sentence at the time of his death.