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George Whitfield, shot by former employee

Yes, an alarming headline! Thankfully this was way back in November 1864.

We get all sorts of guns in for repair and restoration, this gun is a Wm Tranter patented pistol but made and retailed by George Whitfield (1808-1864) in Sydney. In his career, he became the largest gun dealer in New South Wales, Australia.

Mr Whitfield , gunsmith, taxidermist, was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He arrived in Sydney aboard the Princess Victoria on 4 February 1834. From October that year, he started business in 3 King Street, Sydney. In 1839 he advertised ‘G. Whitfield’s Gun Manufactory and Repository of Stuffed Birds’, and hoped to attract the attention of new migrants to his ‘magnificent collection’. He had ‘Flint Double Barrelled Guns’ made to order for the brisk New Zealand trade.

It appears Mr Whitfield was not backwards in coming forwards, at a heated public meeting in February 1842 demanding representative government, Whitfield set up a stall outside advertising duelling pistols, being ‘fearful that the gentlemen may not be in possession of the above very requisite articles to settle all differences of opinion’. This blatant commercial method continued further when in April 1852 when Australia was seeing its very own gold rush, he advertised that he had various types of American revolvers for sale ‘without which neither their lives or gold can be called safe’.

By all accounts, it appears Mr Whitfield was also rather a canny shot. He won several awards over a 15 year spell in competition.

On 4 November 1864 Whitfield, aged 56, was shot dead at the door of his shop by a disgruntled former employee, Patrick McGlinn. Patrick McGlinn, despite pleading insanity, was sentenced to death although this was reduced to a life sentence.

It’s certainly a far cry from Ramsay St.

The below is an extract from the Sydney Morning Herald, Monday 21st November 1864. Feel free to visit our adventurers blog and have a read through some other interesting articles, including our latest lead free ammunition, Hortonium (taking a leaf out of Mr Whitfields book).



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