37. Patrick Pelly (c1837-1899), reformed criminal
Patrick Pelly was the assumed name of a bushranger also known by several other names including Frank Pearson, Frank Gordon and Captain Starlight. He was involved in numerous criminal activities and was imprisoned for 15 years for the murder of a police officer in New South Wales.
Upon his release from Darlinghurst Gaol in 1884, he headed to Queensland where he was imprisoned for fraud. While in prison he met another prisoner, Patrick Pelly, and adopted that name.
Arriving in Perth in 1896 via New South Wales and South Australia, Pelly took up residence in a boarding house in Beaufort Street and found employment as a clerk-accountant with the WA Geological Survey. Some historical accounts have linked Pelly to the fictional hero of Rolf Boldrewood’s novel Robbery Under Arms, but the author denied this.
Pelly was vain about his age and kept his moustache dyed by removing the stains with potassium cyanide. On 22 December 1899, whilst in a drunken state, he swallowed the contents of the cyanide bottle and died.