James McPherson – The Wild Scotchman

James Alpin McPherson, otherwise known as ‘The Wild Scotchman’, was one of Queensland’s most infamous bushrangers. Born in Inverness-shire, Scotland, in 1842, McPherson came to Australia aboard the William Miles, arriving in January 1855 with his family. As a boy, he was a diligent student, learning French and German, and was an engaging public speaker. […]

The Not-So-Great-Escape

Within our collection are a thousand different stories, heroic wartime efforts, political turmoil and pioneering outback existence. Today we wanted to share the tale of an attempted prison escape detailed in a letter from our collection dated 20 January 1932. Max Paul Rank Runkel and John Edward Phillips were prisoners serving time at the prison […]

Murder at St Helena Penal Establishment

“A picture is worth a thousand words…” is how the saying goes. In this case it’s not the picture held at Queensland State Archives but the public records that tell the stories. The tranquil ruins of the St Helena prison stores buildings conceal tales of mayhem and murder. In February 1898, warder Henry Harris Dodd […]

Moreton Bay Penal Settlement 1824 to 1842

Established in 1824 the penal settlement at Moreton Bay was a place of secondary punishment to house hardened criminals and recidivist prisoners. The first commandant of the new settlement was Lieutenant Henry Miller of the 40th Regiment (1824 to 1825). During the time of the settlement nearly 2400 men and 145 women lived at depots […]

The great escape

In researching Stewart’s Creek Prison (Townsville) a favourite story relates to the escape from the prison confines by Frank Lionel Holloway, alias Huxtable. He is thought to be the first escapee from within the prison walls, as others had legged it while working on outside gangs previous to this. Holloway had secreted himself in a […]