GARDINER, Frank (1830-c.1890)


GARDINER, Frank (1830-c.1890)
bushranger
was born near Goulburn, New South Wales, in 1830. There appears to be some doubt about his real name. At his trial he was arraigned as Francis Gardiner, alias Clarke, alias Christie, but he signed a statement addressed to the judge "Francis Christie". His biographer states definitely that "Frank Christie" was his real name. In 1850 he began his criminal career by stealing horses, and in October was apprehended and sentenced to five years imprisonment at Pentridge, Melbourne. He, however, escaped about five weeks afterwards, and was not recaptured until 1854 when he was again arrested for horse-stealing and given seven years hard labour. He was released on ticket-of-leave after serving about four years and joined a band of bushrangers. In 1861 he was captured by the police after wounding two and being wounded himself. Handcuffed and left in charge of a policeman, he was rescued by other bushrangers. On 15 June 1862 the gold escort from Forbes was stopped, some members of the escort were wounded, and the boxes of gold were stolen. £1000 reward was offered for the apprehension and conviction of the bushrangers. The police succeeded in recovering much of the gold and Sir F. W. Pottinger, who was in charge of the police, on one occasion fired at Gardiner at close range, but his carbine missed fire. For a time Gardiner disappeared, but about the end of February 1864 he was arrested at Appis Creek, Queensland, where in partnership with another man he was conducting a public house and store. He was taken to Sydney, tried and found guilty on three charges, and given sentences amounting together to 32 years.
In gaol Gardiner was a model prisoner, and, when he had served eight years of his sentences, efforts were made by his friends and relations to secure his release. The fact that for about two years before his trial he had led an honest life was much in his favour, and in spite of some protests from members of the public he was released in July 1874 when he had served 10 years, on the understanding that he would leave Australia. He went to San Francisco, lived an honest life for many years, and died probably about 1890. He differed from many notorious bushrangers in that he came of respectable people, and was not actually guilty of murder; but he was fortunate in escaping the fate of some of his associates who were executed.
Charles White, Australian Bushranging, Gardiner "King of the Road"; G. E. Boxall, The Story of the Australian Bushrangers; Sir Henry Parkes, Fifty Years of Australian History, pp. 277-82.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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