John James, James Duncan and James Morgan were the trio behind the infamous high-jacking of the cargo ship Nelson. Whilst the three men were visiting Melbourne they caught wind of the ship bound for London, and took great interest in its precious cargo -23 boxes containing 8000 ounces of gold valued around £25,000. On the night of April 2nd 1852 the raiders stole two boats and rowed out to the unguarded vessel. On board the ship were Mr Draper, the mate, three seamen, the cook, three passengers and a visiting second mate from the Royal George, all of whom were awoken by the gang as they took charge. After the gang secured everyone on board, Mr Draper was ordered to show them where the gold was. He was shot through his side and threatened within an inch of his life before he finally led them to the storeroom whereupon they broke down the door and helped themselves to the gold. Before the raiders left they herded the prisoners into the storeroom and nailed the broken door back on to hold them in while they escaped.
Apparently, John James, James Duncan and James Morgan couldn’t keep their raid secret because although none of the passengers could positively identify the raiders (whose faces were concealed behind black crepe), these three instigators of the robbery were arrested one month later with a £750 reward for their capture. They were tried in May 1852 and sentenced to fifteen years on the roads, the first three years in irons. On December 18th 1852 John James was housed on the prison hulk President and was still wearing irons until December 30th 1856. For some unknown reason, on June 2nd 1858 he was granted a free pardon by his Excellency the Governor and released two days later.
Image Size: 73 x 102cm
Medium: Oil on Canvas
This artwork is unframed
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