Captain Moonlite – Gentleman, Preacher, Bushranger

Captain Moonlite – Gentleman, Preacher, Bushranger

The story of Captain Moonlite – whose real name was Andrew George Scott – is one of the strangest chapters in the history of Australian bushrangers.

Scott was born in Ireland in 1842, received a good education, and as an adult presented as a gentleman with good manners who could mix freely in refined company. He travelled to Victoria to try his luck on the goldfields and in 1868 he created a good impression on Bishop Charles Perry who appointed him a lay preacher at Bacchus Marsh.

However despite his polished veneer Scott had a wild and restless side.  He was soon implicated in a bank robbery and obtaining money by false pretences and was sent to Melbourne’s Pentridge Gaol in 1872.

Soon after his release, Scott, who had named himself “Captain Moonlite”, assembled a gang of young men, all under the age of 22 and took to a life of bushranging, travelling through northern Victoria and southern NSW.

On 15 November 1879 his gang bailed up the occupants of Wantabadgery Station, near Gundagai in NSW and took the occupants prisoner. A wild shootout with a police party followed at a nearby farmhouse soon after, with two of the gang shot dead and a police officer also killed in the gunfire.

One of the dead gang members was James Nesbitt, a young man reputed to be in a romantic relationship with Scott, who openly wept over the body of Nesbitt as he lay dying. Scott was captured soon after, and along with another gang member, Tom Rogan, was sent to the gallows at Darlinghurst Gaol in January 1880.

Before his death Scott had asked that he be buried beside Nesbitt, in Gundagai Cemetery, but this request was denied and Scott’s body was interred at Rookwood in Sydney. But in a bizarre twist of fate, authorities allowed his body to be exhumed in 1995 and he was reinterred next to Nesbitt at Gundagai.


Image: Photographic portrait of Andrew George Scott taken on 1 January 1879, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.