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Sir Frederick Pottinger
April 27, 1831|
April 9, 1865|
|Cause of death||Accidentally shot himself|
|Title||2nd Baronet Pottinger|
Sir Frederick William Pottinger, 2nd Baronet (1831–1865), police inspector, was born on April 27, 1831, in India. He became famous for leading the New South Wales police in their hunt for the bushrangers Ben Hall, John Gilbert, Frank Gardiner and John Dunn.
He was the son of Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Pottinger of the British East India Company, and his wife Susanna Maria, née Cooke, of Dublin. Henry Pottinger was the first Governor of Hong Kong. Frederick went to Eton from 1844 to 1847. Between 1850 and 1854, Pottinger was an officer in the Grenadier Guards in England. He lost a lot of his mother's money gambling on horse races. In 1856 he took the place of his father as second baronet. He soon gambled away all his money. He owed people a lot of money.
He went to Australia to search for gold. He joined the New South Wales police force as a mounted trooper. He was an excellent horse rider and spent the next few years working on the gold escort between Gundagai and Goulburn.
Pottinger kept his title secret but in 1860 the inspector-general of police, John McLerie, found out. He was quickly given better jobs. In November he became clerk of petty sessions at Dubbo and on October 1, 1861, assistant superintendent of the Southern Mounted Police Patrol. He wanted to do a good job in the police, but he got into a drunken brawl at Young on 20–21 December 1861. He was a publicly warned about his bad behaviour. He was sent to the Lachlan River area. He showed he was a busy but unlucky hunter of bushrangers.
In 1862 Pottinger was made an inspector of police for the Western District of New South Wales. In April 1862 he arrested Ben Hall at Forbes on a charge of robbery. Hall he was released because there was not enough evidence to prove he was a robber. Soon afterward Hall joined Frank Gardiner's gang. On June 15, 1862, they robbed the Lachlan gold escort of some £14,000 at Eugowra. This was Australia's biggest gold robbery. Pottinger was able to capture two of the bushrangers quickly. They escaped several days later in a gun battle. Pottinger got back some of the stolen gold.
People thought Pottinger made a lot of mistakes. He was in trouble for not having enough police guards on the gold escort and letting his prisoners escape. On the night of August 9, Pottinger and a group of police surrounded the house of Gardiner's mistress, Kate Brown. The bushranger escaped when Pottinger's pistol fired accidentally. They arrested a young boy who they thought was a friend of the bushrangers. When he died from a fever in gaol in March 1863, this was seen to be caused by Pottinger's cruelty. In February 1862 Pottinger was in court at Yass for assault. During a game of billiards he had been called a cheat, a liar and a scoundrel. He hit the person with the billiard cue and smashed his head through a window.  On September 27, 1862, Pottinger had appeared before a Bathurst court on a charge of assault. In February 1863 Pottinger went to Sydney for the trial of the escort robbers. He was pushed in the street by people in the crowd. He also threatened a Member of Parliament, J. J. Harpur, with his whip. He didn't like things that Harpur had said about him.
In May 1863 the inspector-general told police to think of new ways to catch the bushrangers. Early in January 1865 Pottinger rode a horse in the Wowingragong races. This was against the rules of the police force. He was sacked (lost his job) on February 16, 1865. Pottinger said that he was just trying to get Ben Hall and John Dunn to come out of hiding. His plan worked and the bushrangers went to the races, only Pottinger didn't see them. Protest meetings against his sacking were held on the gold diggings and in the towns. People signed petitions for him to get his job back. He was regarded as a brave and tireless policeman. Pottinger went to Sydney to try and get back his job. On March 5, 1865, at Wascoe's Inn in the Blue Mountains Pottinger accidentally shot himself in the stomach while trying to get onto a moving coach. He was moved to the Victoria Club in Sydney where he died on April 9, 1865. His brother Henry became the 3rd Baronet. He was buried at St Jude's Anglican Church, Randwick.
- "Sir Frederick Pottinger's Fracas". History Pages of Australia. http://www.historypages.net/Fpottinger.html. Retrieved 2008-10-24.
- "Ben Hall and the outlawed bushrangers". Australia's Cultural Portal. http://www.cultureandrecreation.gov.au/articles/benhall/. Retrieved 2008-08-13.
- "The Thin Blue Line". Police deaths in New South Wales 1788 to 1966. http://www.policensw.com/info/policerem/text/index2.html. Retrieved 2008-10-25.
- "Blaxland, New South Wales". Sydney Morning Herald Travel. http://www.smh.com.au/news/New-South-Wales/Blaxland/2005/02/17/1108500192773.html. Retrieved 2008-10-25.
- Selth, P.A. (2006). "Pottinger, Sir Frederick William". Australian Dictionary of Biography Online Edition. Australian National University. http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A050500b.htm. Retrieved 25 October, 2008.