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Gentleman bushranger became a hat-maker

You would think the words 'gentleman' and 'bushranger' were complete opposites in their meaning, but apparently, when it came to Martin Cash, it became his nickname.

Another clue to his popularity, despite being a bushranger who stole from those who lived in the Derwent Valley area of Tasmania, is his headstone which was erected by well-meaning friends and states "that brave but unfortunate Irishman, Martin Cash".

Martin Cash in later years.

Martin was born in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland, in 1808 to George and Margaret Cash. He was working as a farm boy in until he was convicted for house breaking in 1827, when he saw a man embracing his own woman. According to Martin, he shot the interloper in the buttocks.

For his efforts, Martin was transported to Sydney for seven years on the Marquis of Huntley and assigned to George Bowman in the Hunter Valley where he stayed, even after receiving his ticket-of-leave. From here he became involved in cattle duffing and with his partner, Bessie Clifford, headed for Van Diemen's Land.

He was eventually charged with larceny and sentenced to another seven years. Over the following three years, he tried to escape three times; at one time being away for two years before recapture. Another four years was added to his sentence. He was taken to Port Arthur where he met two experienced bushmen from New South Wales who evaded the guards and thus began a bushranging career.

The men would rob inns and well-to-do settlers very easily and without unnecessary violence, earning them the title of gentlemen bushrangers. When Bessie deserted him, he chased her to Hobart Town where he was captured and tried for killing one of his pursuers. Despite being sentenced to death, he was pardoned at the proverbial eleventh hour.

He was then sent to Norfolk Island where he gave up his bushranging ways and even took up hat-making!

Martin Cash's grave at Cornelian Bay Cemetery and Crematorium. Courtesy Julie Henderson and Lacey Milier. Findagrave

In March 1854 he married Irish convict Mary Bennett and the moved back to Tasmania where he was gazetted a constable for the Cascades Agricultural settlement. After four years in New Zealand he returned to become a farmer at Glenorchy until his death 27th August, 1877. Sadly, his only child, also called Martin, predeceased him and they are both buried in Cornelian Bay Cemetery and Crematorium.

Before he died, Martin dictated his biography to James Lester Burke who wrote The Bushranger of Van Diemen's Land in 1843.


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