The Judas Covenant

Peter Bradley’s examination of the story of Ben Hall, especially his betrayal and death. Peter is a descendant of Ben Hall’s younger brother, Henry.



An Introduction to Ben Hall

Few other Australian bushrangers have attracted such widespread sympathy and interest as has Ben Hall, yet many aspects of his life remain enigmatic.  How was it that a man who was so active in committing a multitude of armed robberies could have the reputation of being non-violent and so apparently averse to killing?

How could he have fallen so far, so rapidly, from being a moderately successful squatter at Sandy Creek with a pretty wife and baby son to becoming one of the most notorious bushrangers of the colony?

His violent death under the guns of the police beside the Billabong Creek at dawn on 5th May 1865 has long been surrounded by controversy and doubt.  Who was it that betrayed him to the police?   A trusted friend?  …. Or was it a woman?   Was the betrayal for revenge or simply for the reward money?

And were the actions of the police on that fateful morning entirely legal?  The feelings of many people in the district were summed up by a journalist who wrote afterwards that ….

It was through no act of gallantry on the part [of the police] that the career of this man was at last brought to a close.

The firing was kept up until the body was riddled with no less than thirty two holes, after which, being considered no longer dangerous, it was taken possession of by its gallant captors.

 Certainly there was disquiet amongst many local people who felt that here was another unnecessary death of a young man at the hands of the police.  When the police confronted Ben Hall they outnumbered him by 8 to 1, they were not wearing police uniforms and were armed with more guns and ammunition than was proscribed in the police Regulations.

The inquest into the death of Ben Hall was conducted by the Police Magistrate at Forbes, William Farrand.   However, his judgment of “justifiable homicide” is open to doubt and appears legally unsustainable once all the available evidence is considered.  It would be logical to assume that Farrand was biased in favour of the police as indeed were many local citizens (but certainly not all) as he owed his position and salary to the favour of the NSW Police.

About Peter Bradley

Peter Bradley has a degree in Modern History from Macquarie University and is a descendant of Ben Hall’s younger brother, Henry.

By coincidence, he grew up on a farm near Forbes not far from the place where Ben Hall was killed.

Following the surprise discovery that he was related to Ben Hall, Peter has undertaken a detailed study of the bushrangers from the gold rush era and of Ben Hall in particular.  The hallmark of his work is the depth and accuracy of his research while retaining an easy-reading and entertaining style of writing.  He is the author of several works including The Judas Covenant and Stories from the Hard Road.

During the course of his bushranging research many critical new details of events surrounding the death of Ben Hall were uncovered as well as numerous never before published photographs and artworks

Peter recently collaborated with director Matthew Holmes on a 3-hour feature screenplay ‘Ben Hall’ that chronicles the rise and fall of the infamous bushranger joining ‘The Legend of Ben Hall’ as Executive Producer and Historical Advisor.


Stories from the hard road

Stories from the Hard Road is a detailed and beautifully illustrated account of the life of Ben Hall, a life that held so much promise yet ended in tragedy and despair.