Robbers Tree at Cunnamulla

On January 16th, 1880, an attempted robbery of the Queensland National Bank took place. The robber, later identified as Joseph Wells, entered the bank at 10am in the morning, and armed with a six chamber revolver, demanded money from the poor bank employees. Following a scuffle and the wounding of a Mr. Murphy who had come to help out, the robber ran off into the bush, and scampered up the so called “robbers tree” where he stayed until found and eventually lured to the ground. The trial of Joseph Wells was held in Toowoomba and the prisoner was charged with Robbery under Arms. He was the last person to be hung for this particular crime in Queensland, and was executed on 22 March 1880 at Brisbane Goal. He is buried at Toowong Cemetery.

The State Library holds a multi volume set of historical papers on Cunnamulla -  A collection of papers on the history and other subjects to relating to Cunnamulla and district / prepared by members the Warrego and South West Queensland Historical Society. In Volume 1, extracts from the Vincent Dowling Diaries (held at the Mitchell Library) relate the stories of the robbery, many referring to reports in the Queenslander newspaper, and from personal eye witness accounts.

Robber's Tree on the sandhill at Cunnamulla, ca. 1920. State Library of Queensland. Image number: 10134-0001-0028

Ruth Gardiner - Queensland Distributed Collections Coordinator, State Library of Queensland


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I am interested to know the age of Joseph Wells. I have read he was a convict. Did he have a wife and siblings. Any information would be appreciated.

Hi JanetIf you would like to fill in our online enquiry form with your details, one of our helpful librarians might be able to assist you with your question. Sinnamon – blog editor

I would also like to know the age of Joseph Wells please?I am currently studying a convict with the same name who was sent to Tasmania in 1844. This Joseph Wells was born n 1824. He is not a relation.I did have a great grandfather with the same name however he lived until 1919/kind regardsPamela Langton

Hi PamelaIf you would like to fill in our online enquiry form with your details, one of our helpful librarians will assist you with your question. Sinnamon – SLQ