Absolute Pardon

Michael Gorman, 1832

Convict constable Michael Gorman earned this Absolute Pardon in 1830/1832, for his service in the capture of the notorious bushranger John Donohoe. An Irish convict who became one of Australia’s most famous bushrangers, Donohoe is popularly known as ‘Bold Jack Donohoe’ or "The Wild Colonial Boy".

Absolute Pardons like this granted complete freedom to the convict recipient, and they were usually reserved for those who had shown exceptionally good behaviour. In 1830 Michael Gorman, the owner of this pardon, was on duty as a constable in the area of Bringelly (south-west Sydney), in a group of two other constables and six mounted police. They had been trawling the bush for a fortnight, searching for Donohoe and his gang and finally spotted the bushrangers at the bank of a creek. When Donohoe saw them, he took his hat off, waved it three times, and shouted abuse at the police. Not long after, he was shot and killed. His body was brought back to Sydney, and held in the dead house of the Rum Hospital next to Hyde Park Barracks.

Gorman arrived in the colony in 1820 on the Shipley (3) with a 14 year sentence. Between 1822 and 1825 he worked in Rose’s road party clearing land for Samuel Marsden’s estate, and later at Bringelly, where he lived after receiving his Ticket of Leave in 1829.

The bushrangers then got each behind a tree… one of the policemen fired… I now levelled my piece [gun], which went off at the same moment with those discharged by two of the robbers… one of the soldiers named Mucklestone, fired, and I instantly saw the man now stated to be Donohoe fall…

Michael Gorman, quoted in Sydney Gazette, 7 September 1830, 3.

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Convict Sydney, Level 1, Hyde Park Barracks Museum
Convict Sydney


These convict-era objects and archaeological artefacts found at Hyde Park Barracks and The Mint (Rum Hospital) are among the rarest and most personal artefacts to have survived from Australia’s early convict period

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Hyde Park Barracks

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