Patrick Francis “Frank Pearson” Pelly

Patrick Francis “Frank Pearson” Pelly

Birth
London, City of London, Greater London, England
Death 23 Dec 1899 (aged 61–62)
Western Australia, Australia
Burial Karrakatta, Nedlands City, Western Australia, Australia
Plot Lance Howard Memorial Gardens, AREA: Roman Catholic, Section: BB, gravesite 0064
Memorial ID 89866764 · View Source
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Patrick Francis "Frank" Pelly, aka Captain Starlight, Major Pelly, Dr. Pearson, Frank Simpson, Dr. Gordon or Frank Pearson claimed he was born in London in 1837 and arrived in Australia in 1866. However, he may have been using the name “Arnold” when he came to Australia, possibly in a different year. It is known that he was involved in a criminal career, including robbery and the murder of a police constable in New South Wales. He was sentenced to death for this crime but his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He was released after 15 years.
Pearson went to Queensland and in 1891 was sentenced under the name of Walter Gordon to serve a year in prison for fraud. While in prison he met another prisoner, Patrick Pelly, and adopted that name. “Pelly” arrived in Perth in 1896. Having given up the criminal life, he found employment as a clerk-accountant with the WA Geological Survey and lodgings in a boarding house in Beaufort Street. He related elaborate and untruthful stories to his workmates about his supposed past exploits as a major in the British army and a member of the Russian Czar’s bodyguard.
Pelly was vain about his age, and kept his moustache dyed by removing the stains with potassium cyanide. On December 22, 1899, whilst in a drunken state, he died by swallowing the contents of the cyanide bottle.
Some historical accounts have linked Pelly to the notorious bushranger, Captain Starlight, the character in Rolf Boldrewood’s novel, Robbery Under Arms.

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Frank Pearson (1837- 22 December 1899) was an Australian bushranger. He called himself "Captain Starlight" and claimed he was the inspiration for the character Captain Starlight in Rolf Boldrewood's novel Robbery Under Arms, although the author denied this claim.
Pearson was one of two bushrangers known by the name of Captain Starlight. The other being cattle thief Henry Readford. Readford never referred to himself by the name and was not known as Starlight prior to the publication of the novel in 1889. Boldrewood himself claimed that the Captain Starlight character in his novel was a composite of several bushrangers that included Henry Readford and Captain Midnight.
Pearson claimed he was born in London and that he had arrived in Australia in 1866 however, he may have arrived in a different year under the surname Arnold.
In September 1868, as Doctor Frank Pearson, he teamed up with stockman Charles Rutherford and robbed the Narran Inn, the Yarrambah Post Office, and Angledool Station in Queensland before heading to Enngonia in New South Wales, some 100 km (62 mi) from Bourke. Two Queensland police constables, John McCabe and Hugh McManus set out from Walgett, New South Wales to catch the bushrangers but became lost. The Police patrol stopped for supplies in Enngonia and were making a purchase at the Shearer's Inn when Pearson and Rutherford entered the inn yelling Bail Up. Both constables opened fire hitting Pearson in the arm and wrist while Pearson returned fire hitting McCabe in the chest. The two bushrangers then fled to Belalie where they stole fresh horses before continuing down the Darling River to near Pooncarie where they split up and went their separate ways. Pearson travelled north, robbing several stations along the way before heading toward Mount Gunderbooka, 70 km (43 mi) south of Bourke. A police party tracked Pearson to Mount Gunderbooka but he eluded them in the thick scrub of the mountain. Based at the foot of the mountain and stationing men at the waterholes to prevent Pearson from access to water, the party chased him for three days before capturing him on Christmas Day, in a small cave, weakened from lack of water and badly bitten by bull ants. Contable McCabe had died from his injury in November and Pearson was charged with murder. Committed for trial on 4 January 1869 Pearson was found guilty at trial on 3 May 1869 and sentenced to death. The sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment and he was released in 1884 after fifteen years.
In 1884 bushrangers stopped at the local police station in Barmera, South Australia where they locked the police in their own cells. The leader of the gang then rode his horse into the bar of the Overland Corner Hotel and carved his name into the wall. No trace remains of the name and his identity is disputed with some claiming it was Captain Moonlite. However it is known that Pearson was active in the area at the time.
Pearson returned to Queensland and in 1891 was arrested for fraud, forgery and horse stealing and sentenced to a year in prison in Brisbane. He was admitted to Boggo Road Gaol and possibly also spent some time on St. Helena Island. It was while in prison here that Pearson boasted that he was the inspiration for Boldrewood's Captain Starlight. While in prison he met fellow prisoner Major Patrick Edward Pelly and, from his release, Pearson adopted that name. As Patrick "Frank" Pelly he lived in South Australia for around two years, working as a drover. He is not known to have committed any serious crimes during this time. In 1896 he moved to Perth where, as Major Patrick Frances Pelly he was employed on the recommendation of the WA Premier, Sir John Forrest, as a clerk-accountant with the Western Australia Geological Survey. In Perth he often related elaborate and false stories of his past as a major in the British army and a member of the Russian Czar's bodyguard.
On 22 December 1899, Pearson died after accidentally swallowing cyanide. He was drunk and mistook it for his medicine. He is buried in Karrakatta Cemetery Western Australia.

- wiki

Although wiki reports Frank Pearson was buried in Karrakatta Cemetery, a photo volunteer reports the cemetery office has no record of Frank Pearson being buried there. Since then we have discovered that Captain Starlight is buried under the name Patrick Francis Pelly.

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1900 Kalgoorlie Miner article


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  • Created by: graver
  • Added: 9 May 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 89866764
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Patrick Francis “Frank Pearson” Pelly (1837–23 Dec 1899), Find A Grave Memorial no. 89866764, citing Karrakatta Cemetery and Crematorium, Karrakatta, Nedlands City, Western Australia, Australia ; Maintained by graver (contributor 47037760) .