‘This difficult to be disposed of vessel the Ellenita, having foundered apparently at a most convenient moment, under circumstances not only quite inexplicable as yet, but singularly suspicious, with only the loss of one' life ' so far as is yet known, and serious injury for life to some dozen others, the bold Hayes, after a pleasant trip, stands now in a new field of action, and with the Californian jewels and dollars to back him and, for the none, relieved from the attentions of ruined tradesmen, deserted wives and obnoxious creditors. It might be of interest to know if a log-book was kept of the incidents of his boating cruise with the female passengers ; but of that we are not informed.
Whether this gentleman, who seems as with impunity to have committed more scoundrelism than the aggregate of crime which in former days has sent many a hundred men to the gallows, will renew his performances in Sydney by way of relieving us of a ship as a rover, or will kindly vary the entertainment with another wife; or; will-try his hand at an " escort" is a matter of conjecture for of course now he has a soul above horse-stealing, and such pettifogging transactions; but it is more than probable he will confine himself for a time to his favourite peculiarity an extended system of credit.
Should any further noteworthy action of Mr. Hayes come within our knowledge, and it cannot for a moment be supposed that a gentleman of his talents would allow them to lie idle; we promise our readers the earliest and latest intelligence’.
The Empire, Sydney 9th January 1860.
Much of the research for this story was completed with the help of newspaper articles. This was the result of important missing documents, for example I could not find official court records of the Escort Robbery. The article here is by Sir Henry Parkes and makes a connection between Bully Hayes and the Escort Robbery. A response to this article was made through the letters to the editor and it is attributed to Bully Hayes. naturally he claims to be an upstanding citizen.
The witness continued:—Francis admitted that he was one of the party that attacked the private escort. He also gave me the names of his companions on that occasion, and assisted in their apprehension. The names were John Francis, George Francis—
Mr. Read again interposed, and said that whether the Bench agreed with him or not, he was bound to object to the reception of such evidence. The witness was, however, desired to go on, and proceeded as follows:—Joe Gray, alias Nutty, to be found at Tommy Condon's, in Little Bourke street; one named Billy, boarding at the house of the brother of the proprietor of the Bush Inn; Bob Harding, at M'Evoy's tent, opposite the commissioner's at M'Ivor ; Neil M'Evoy opposite the Private Escort Company at M'Ivor; George Elston, a fighting man, with one tooth out, keeper of a grog shop at the M'Ivor; George Melville, Wilson, and two others, names unknown; one very much pock-marked, dark brown hair, 5 feet 7 or 8 inches, about 30 years of age; the other man light brown hair, 5 feet 6 inches, about 27 years of age, goes by the name of Little Billy, living with a woman called Kitty, down the road on the left hand side, near the Bald Hill, at M'Ivor. I then handed Francis over to the chief detective officer, and desired him to take him about with him to assist in the apprehension of the remainder. I also promised him that I would not use his evidence against his brother, but would exert myself to have them both included in the pardon.
Evidence by Captain McMahon at the pre-trial of the Escort Robbers. From: Trove. Online newspapers.
The article below is Captain McMahon's evidence on what George Francis is said to have told him. As you will see two men, one called Billy and one called Little Billy are mentioned by the approver Francis has having been involved in the Escort Robbery. These Billy's remain unidentified and in fact most of the men identified here are not prosecuted for any involvement. It is the Author's view that the man named Billy is William Hayes.
“I have very serious doubt about the syndication being on the right scent. I do not believe that the wreck discovered on the New Zealand coast can be that of the Madagascar, and I will tell you why. In 1853, the year the Madagascar disappeared, I was captain of the barque Amazon, of London, and I sold her at Melbourne, and was about to return to England. The Madagascar was lying there, and I had some business transactions with the captain, whom I knew very well. I went aboard of her, and before I left the captain offered to place one of the best cabins at the disposal of my wife and me if we would return to England with him.
"The Madagascar, as I have said, was a magnificent vessel. She was to sail next day, and I made up my mind to accept the captain's generous offer, and to get my baggage aboard early in the morning. I told my wife, of course, as soon as I got home that night. That night she had a dream or vision of some sort which left a presentiment in her mind that the Madagascar would never arrive safe at home. So fully did she believe this that she begged me to abandon sailing in her, and do all I could I could not persuade her that her fears were groundless. Finally I yielded, and on her account decided not to go.
We changed our minds still more, and instead of calling in another ship for home went to New Zealand and remained there several years, during all of which time we did not hear of the M3adagascar. It was about five years later when I sailed for England in the Great Britain, which was one of the first vessels that went from New Zealand to England by steam. On board this steamer there were a number of captains, merchants, and other gentlemen who were in some measure connected with the said ship, and we sat at a table on board discussing the loss of the Madagascar, `and the probabilities of her fate. One gentleman, who was returning from Australia, said he had heard something about pirates boarding the ship. He said an Irishwoman, who with her husband was on board of her, had made a confession to a Roman Catholic priest concerning the Madagascar.
It was to the effect that a number of men-about twenty-four, I believe-entered the ship as seamen and formed part of her crew. Her husband was one of these seamen. They conspired together to take possession of the ship, to kill all the passengers and take the bullion, and either bunt or sink the ship. When in mid-ocean they did as they had planned. They put the bullion in the ship's boats, and went ashore somewhere near the coast of Chili, I think near Valparaiso. They either burned or scuttled the ships-so the Irishwoman stated in her confession.
When they landed they destroyed the boats, divided the treasure, and then they broke up and went up the country. Some going one way, and some another. I believe some of the men were afterwards heard of at the diggings about Melbourne, but I can’t not sure of this. When in London I inquired of the owners of the Madagascar, and they in-formed me that they had never heard of the vessel since it left Melbourne. I do not think it probable that the ship could have got near the New Zealand coast. I believe that the Irishwoman's deathbed confession was true."
Many articles were printed about the mystery of the Madagascar. At one stage a group was formed to search for her. The search failed. This article printed in:
North Melbourne Advertiser (Vic. : 1873 - 1894), Friday 29 November 1889, page 2 . Supplied by the National Library.
Is consistent with the storyline in The Silent Moon.
It should be noted that there is a team presently claiming to have found the Madagascar and they will publish their story in 2013.