Bushrangers Moonlite and Nesbitt for heritage register


Moonlite Nesbitt Grave

The Heritage Council of NSW is considering listing the graves of bushrangers Captain Moonlite and James Nesbitt on the state heritage register.

James Nesbitt died in a shoot-out with police at Wantabadgery in 1879. When he saw James shot, Moonlite raced immediately to his dying friend, apparently oblivious to the danger to himself. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, “Moonlite wept over him like a child, laid his head upon the dying man’s breast, and kissed him passionately.”

Better known to the court as Andrew George Scott, Captain Moonlite would hang for his role as leader of the gang two months later.

The Moonlite gang had made its mark on colonial history.

…but about a century later, historian Garry Wotherspoon’s discovery of Moonlite’s death-cell letters made the story a whole lot more interesting.

It was always known that Moonlite and Nesbitt were close. They met in Melbourne’s Pentridge Prison and hooked up again on the outside. They formed a small gang of young outlaws and went on a crime spree across Victoria and NSW.

But the shoot-out at Wantabadgery spelled the end of the gang.

A lock of his young lover’s hair

Imprisoned in Darlinghurst Gaol, Moonlite wrote the letters declaring his love for James Nesbitt. He fashioned a ring from a lock of his young lover’s hair. He would wear it to the gallows. Moonlite also asked that the authorities bury him in the same grave as James Nesbitt.

“My dying wish is to be buried beside my beloved James Nesbitt, the man with whom I was united by every tie which could bind human friendship, we were one in hopes, in heart and soul and this unity lasted until he died in my arms.”

The colonial authorities ignored his request. Dead bushrangers did not rank high on the list of people they were inclined to grant favours.

However, in 1995, Andrew George Scott’s remains were relocated to a cemetery at Gundagai. He was reburied near the presumed location of the unmarked grave of James Nesbitt.

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Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at destinyr@qnews.com.au.

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