29-09-1855: The ‘Sticking up’ – James Ferguson is held up at gunpoint.

On Thursday evening, 27th September 1855, James Ferguson was held up at gun point in the vicinity of the Exhibition Building in Melbourne. The thieves threatened to shoot him if he resisted and stole  £50 pounds from him, a letter addressed to his business partner James Urie and some contracts for work. This event could have changed the course of history in many ways. If he had been shot I might not be here writing this history at all! The other thing that begs an answer is ‘what was he doing with five ten pound notes’? That was close to carrying around about $10,000 AU in your wallet [amount updated based on some great comments to this post].


The Argus, Melbourne, Saturday 29th September 1855, page 6.

STICKING UP – On Thursday evening, between ten and eleven o’clock, Mr. James Ferguson was attacked by two men, -one of whom was armed with a pistol, and threatened to shoot him if he made resistance, -between Queen and King streets, near the Exhibition Building, and robbed of a pocket-book, containing five £10 notes and several memorandums of contracts for work. The men also took from him a letter addressed to James Urie.”

No further information is known subsequent to this regarding the offence or perpetrators.

1855 The Sticking up 001a

Melbourne Exhibition Building in 1855

Melbourne Exhibition Building in 1855










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2 comments on “29-09-1855: The ‘Sticking up’ – James Ferguson is held up at gunpoint.

  1. Would have been much more than $1500 equivalent – RBA calculator puts value of 50 pounds in 1901 (no earlier data available) as $6717 today. Would be even more if you could take it back the extra 45 years.

    • Thanks for the comment Blair,

      That certainly means he had a lot on cash on him the night he was held up in 1855.

      If 50 pounds in 1901 equated to $6717 over 110 years (to 2011) then it’s probably reasonable to expect that another 46 years at roughly the same rate would mean that he probably had close to the equivalent of having $10,000 or more cash on him!

      That’s an extraordinary amount, and must have been the result of some payment for completed work. It also seems a bit suspicious in that the thieves probably knew he had the cash or was about to receive it and were waiting for him. Maybe the person who paid him set him up to get the money back!


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