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I went out to take some photographs the other day.  I’m studying photography at TAFE and am doing a few assignments for which I needed photographs. One of the photos has to be a memorial or monument that in some way shows the history of the locality.

I went to Hartley cemetery and found this particular gravestone.  I found it fascinating so after photographing it, I looked it up to see if I could find anything out about it.  The inscription on the gravestone reads as follows:

Sacred to the memory of Thomas Madden  Constable.  Who was accidentally shot 13th April 1967 while in the discharge of his duty at Pulpit Hill.  A native of County Mayo Ireland.  Aged 30 years.  May his soul rest in peace.  Erected by the members of the Police force in the Western District.

This grave caught my eye for a number of reasons.  Firstly, the beauty of it.  The ornate stone work was just gorgeous.  Yes, I know it’s a grave but it was also a thing of great beauty.  On either side of the grave are 2 faces carved into the stone.  I don’t know if they are religious icons (and I think they are) or if they are representative of the particular officer.

I think the age of the tomb also caught my eye.  It was in 1867 that Constable Madden passed away and here we are 146 years down the track and the story is still relevant.  Police, Firefighters, Soldiers, Sailors etc are all still being killed in the line of duty.  We still pay humble homage to the brave souls who have left us too soon and we are still left feeling sad and wondering how their family are getting on, just as I wondered with Constable Madden.

The thing that captured my attention the most though, was the story itself.  The following story was taken straight from the website The thin blue line and is a really interesting read.

Constable Thomas MADDEN

Accidentally Shot

Pulpit Hill

30 April, 1867

On the 29 April, 1867 a party of eight police led by Sergeant Walter Casey camped at Pulpit Hill (near present day Katoomba) with fifteen or sixteen heavily ironed prisoners they were escorting from Bathurst Court to Darlinghurst Gaol. At midnight Constable Madden took his turn to watch over the lockup in which the prisoners were housed. When he was relieved at 2am by Constable Hitchcox, Constable Madden went to check the prisoners. When he opened the door of the lockup, the prisoners, who had apparently been waiting for their chance to escape, rushed the constable. Sergeant Casey, who realised what was occurring, began firing at the prisoners. Unfortunately, of the five shots fired by the sergeant, three accidentally struck Constable Madden, inflicting fatal wounds. Two prisoners were also wounded.


The Sydney Morning Herald of 14 May, 1867 gave news of the inquest into the death of Constable Madden.



At the inquest held by the District Coroner, at Hartley, on view of the body of the unfortunate deceased Constable Thomas Madden, who was accidentally shot by Sergeant Casey while resisting the attempt of prisoners to escape from the lockup at Pulpit Hill depositions were taken. The jury returned the following verdict – “That on the 30th day of April last, at Pulpit Hill, the said Thomas Madden died from pistol shot wounds, fired by Sergeant Casey while in the execution of his duty, and not by any other violent means whatever to the knowledge of the said jurors, did die.” The jury also added that they consider no blame attached to Sergeant Casey.

At the time of his death the constable was a mounted trooper in the New South Wales Police Force and was stationed at Bathurst.

It made me wonder how his family coped.  Was he married? Did he have children? Did a little boy grow up fatherless as a result of the tragedy? Was he mourned by a mother and father who never recovered from such a great loss? He obviously mattered to someone and the dignity of the grave gives the impression he was a well respected and cared for person.

I hope he is resting peacefully in the beautiful and tranquil surrounds of the Hartley cemetery.  So well cared for and such incredible history.  The beauty of the graves and the condition they are in speaks volumes about the people who tend the cemetery.  I know some people are freaked out by the thought of wandering around a cemetery.  I’m not one of those people.  You can get a good understanding of a community by such a meandering.   I’m glad I got to wander around  Hartley.  Such a beautiful place to visit.  If you get a chance, call in.  I’m sure you’ll be intrigued by the history as I was.

Happy meandering… Livvy 🙂

Thomas Madden