Frank McCallums Daring Life

By padfoot
  • Birth

    Actually, Francis McNeiss McNiel McCallum was born in Inverness, Scotland, 1822, but no one knows the particular date of which he was birthed.
  • Early Life + First Crime

    His early life is not known much about, but Francis did go to school for a little while. He quit early, though, and at 12 became a thief. In the Perth Court of Justiciary he admitted to serving four sentences totalling twenty-two months before 3 October 1836 when at 13 he was sentenced to seven years' transportation for housebreaking.
  • Arrival in Australia/Tasmania (Van Dieman's Land)

    Frank arrived to Van Diemen's Land aboard the "Minerva" on 29 September 1838 and being only thirteen years of age he was sent to the juvenile establishment at Point Puer (Port Arthur). His record shows he was almost immediately in trouble receiving twenty lashes for absence and insolence and a further thirty-six lashes for repeated insolence
  • 1839-1850

    Between 1839 and 1848 he was brought before the police magistrates twenty-five times, and sentenced to everything from thirty-six lashes to long periods of hard labour, sometimes in chains. In 1841 his sentence was extended by two years for felony in February and to life for burglary in July; in September he was sent to Port Arthur for five years. Recommended in 1846 for a year's probation, he absconded and lived with the Aboriginals for a year. He was given nine months hard labour afterwards.
  • Appearance in mainland

    No one knows how Frank arrived in Victoria, 1851, but it is known that he posed as a gentleman, called himself Captain Francis Melville and arrived in Melbourne. By December, he had turned bushranger. He claimed leadership of the Mount Macedon gang that waylaid travellers in the Black Forest
  • 1852 bushranging

    In 1852 he held up Alfred Joyce at Norwood station and watched out for travellers along the track from the goldfields. The team later held up at Rokewood.In November he trailed a digger and robbed him, next capturing his manager. Early in December he moved, and ordered some girls to entertain him. The next day he held up sixteen men. The day after the group robbed two men, taking 37 punds, but giving them ten fro travelling expenses.
  • Christmas Eve

    In Geelong he and his friend visited a brothel for a drink on Christmas Eve. They got very drunk and Melville boasted of himself. A woman who was urged by the hundred pound award called the police, but Frank managed to flee. On the way, he bumped into Henry Guy on a fine horse.
    As Melville threw Guy off the horse, the horse fled. They grappled, until two policemen arrived to take Captain Melville away. Young Henry was rather surprised to find out whom he had just wrestled with.
  • Court Day and later

    Captain Foster Fyans committed them on 3 January 1853 for trial before Judge Redmond Barry on 3 February. On three charges of highway robbery Melville was sentenced to twelve years' hard labour. Imprisoned in the hulk President, Melville attempted on 4 June to bite off a sergeant's nose; he was beaten by the warders' 'neddies' and given twenty days' solitary. On 20 January 1854 he had another month solitary for 'inciting the prisoners to mutiny'.
  • The getaway

    They captured the tow boat, took Constable Owens as hostage and rowed down Hobson's Bay with Melville yelling 'Goodbye at last to Victoria'. As the water police and guard boats closed in Stevens smashed Owens's skull and leapt into the sea to his death. When captured Melville is credited with saying: 'I would sooner die than suffer what I have been subjected to in these hulks in the past four years'.
  • More on him

    In mid-year John Price had him transferred to the hulk Success and allowed him to work ashore in the Point Gellibrand quarry. Melville behaved and was allowed to spend three days a week allegedly translating the Bible into the Aboriginal language; in fact he was planning with a former ship's captain, Billy Stevens, to seize a cutter and sail to Gippsland; their eight accomplices included Harry Power.
  • Court Day - again

    A Citizens' Committee engaged Dr Mackay to plead the convicts' case but Melville conducted his own defence before Judge Robert Molesworth on 19 November 1855. He was charged as Thomas Smith, alias Frank McCallum, alias Captain Melville and in cross-examination upset police claims that he had murdered Owens but Molesworth ruled that all were guilty when a man died while attempting to escape custody. Melville argued that he had been charged as Thomas Smith (a name he had never used).
  • Mysterious Death

    Captain Melville's death is shrouded by mystery. He had been given the death sentence and yet, in the morning of the 12th, a warder found him strangled by a red-spotted blue scarf, whether he commited suicide or was murdered has never been decided.