The first bushranger
John Black Casare
A hungry man
Born in the West Indies, John Caesar fled to England to escape plantation slavery. Ironically, he soon found himself transported to Australia on the first fleet.
A huge man, the small rations of the colony compelled him to steal in order to sustain himself. David Collins, the colony's Judge-Advocate, wrote in July 1789:
" This man was always reputed the hardest working convict in the colony; his frame was muscular and well calculated for hard labour; but in his intellects he did not very widely differ from a brute; his appetite was ravenous, for he would in any one day devour the full rations for two days. To gratify this appetite he was compelled to steal from others, and all his thefts were directed to that purpose." (Collins)
Caesar escapes for the first time
On 29 April 1789, Caesar were tried for theft .
A fortnight later Caesar, described as "an incorrigibly stubborn black," bolted with some provisions, an iron pot, and a soldier's musket. Garden robberies became frequent.
Caesar stole a musket ... from Abraham Hand, a marine, and took to the bush. However, any intention he had of living off the land was soon abandoned because of the scarcity of game. Instead, he began prowling around the outskirts of the settlement with a loaded musket, stealing what food he could find. On May 26 he narrowly escaped capture after he had helped himself to the rations of a gang who were making bricks at Brickfield Hill, and on the night of June 6 he was caught by a convict named Wm. Saltmarsh while attempting to steal some food from the house of the colony's assistant commissary for stores, Zachariah Clark.
Caesar's capture presented Governor Phillip with something...