Story of Gall’s life donated

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Brechin Town House Museum has received two copies of a book detailing the life of John Gall - the prisoner features at the museum.

The book, ‘Leatherwood Honey for Gall’, was written by the descendent of John Gall, transported to Australia for life in 1827 for cattle-stealing - despite pleading not guilty.

The book was written by Gall family descendant Mary Reddrop and features John’s arrest, transportation, assignment to William Young in Northern Tasmania, his marriage to Ann, move to the mainland when Victoria was still part of the greater New South Wales, and settlement in the Warrnambool area (about 300 km west of Melbourne), and, of course, their children.

The two copies of the book were donated to the museum by another of Gall’s descendent, Dennis Walsh.

John Ritchie, who has been in correspondence with the Australian branch of the family, kindly presented the museum with the books on his behalf.

Mr Ritchie said: “I was met at the Town House Museum by some of Angus Council’s present-day custodians who willingly accepted the generous gift of two books ‘Leatherwood Honey for Gall’ written by Mary Reddrop, John Gall’s great-great-great-grand-daughter and gifted to Brechin by Gall’s great-great-great-grandson Dennis Walsh.”

Discussing why she chose to write about Gall’s life, Mary said: “Looking back to the year 2000, when it was printed, I can only say that the urge to do something about the misuse and abuse of power has been part of me since I was a young woman. A strong identification with dis-empowered people has also long been a part of me.

“As I came to learn about John Gall, and later about Ann Radford, my identification with them grew. I wanted their current descendants to share that identification. Had I not been apprehensive about the offence their story might (and did) cause, to even a few, I would have written with more humour and a lighter touch. As it turned out, most descendants welcomed it with great interest and pleasure, and for some it was freeing.”

‘Leatherwood Honey for Gall’ can be read at Brechin’s Old Town House Museum or bought online.