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From the Illustrated Melbourne Post
Ben Hall Ben Hall i(A3003 works by)
Born: Established: 9 May 1837 Maitland, Maitland area, Hunter Valley, Newcastle - Hunter Valley area, New South Wales, ; Died: Ceased: 5 May 1865 Central West NSW, New South Wales,
Gender: Male
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Australian bushranger.

Ben Hall was the fourth child and third son of former convicts Benjamin Hall and Eliza Somers (both transported for petty crimes), who met as convicts: they married in 1834, after Eliza was granted freedom and two years after Benjamin had received his ticket-of-leave. Benjamin worked first as a station overseer and, after the cattle were moved following a severe drought, as a butcher and grocer in Murrurundi, then a newly created town in the Upper Hunter.

Hall moved with his father and some siblings down to the Lachlan River area when he was about thirteen: he worked with cattle and horses, and became an expert stockman. He married young, in 1856, to Bridget ('Biddy') Walsh, and later had one son.

The marriage disintegrated in the early 1860s, and Biddy left in early 1862 to live with another stockman, James Taylor. By April 1862, Ben was arrested for armed robbery, in association with Frank [Christie] Gardiner. The charge was dismissed, but in June of the same year, Hall, Gardiner, and others robbed a gold escort. He was arrested again, and again released, but the mounting legal costs forced a lease of his grazing property, which in turn increased financial pressures and reinforced Hall's inclination for bushranging.

In late 1864 and early 1865, two policemen were shot and killed by Hall's associates during robberies. This, combined with the prolific nature of the gang's activities since 1863, prompted New South Wales parliament to push through the Felons Apprehension Act, declaring Hall and his associates 'outlaws', and allowing then to be killed without arrest and trial.

In May 1865, Ben Hall, separated from his companions, was ambushed and fatally shot by a group of eight policemen.

Hall's career as a bushranger and his death remain the subject of intense interest, in part because he is perceived as a romantic figure driven into crime by the breakdown of his marriage, and in part because while his associates committed murders, Hall himself did not. These factors help make Hall one of the most popular figures (after Ned Kelly) in Australian bushranging narratives: as well as a number of very early Australian films, he was also the focus of the BBC / ABC/ 20th Century Fox co-production Ben Hall (1975), starring Jon Finch, and the 2016 Australian film The Legend of Ben Hall.

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Last amended 11 Nov 2016 11:33:21
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