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*Robbers pass - Thomas Dennison Last Wife : Irene Mable Lewis *Burial : Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa Pneumonia *Immediate Family: Son of George Tuam Dennison Husband of Irene Mable Dennison and Cathy (Kitty) Dennison Boyd. Ex-husband of Jane Jeanetta Dennison *Occupation: Barber, Brick layer, Liftman, Highwayman *Dob : May 1874- Dod : April 1962 All links below The passage below appears in the book The Golden Escarpment (text edited by Peter Joyce). "A few years after the turn of the century, a curious case was heard in Lydenburg's courthouse. On trial was one Thomas Dennison, known to friends and creditors alike as Tommy. He was accused of holding up the Zeederberg mail-coach on the road between Lydenburg and Pilgrim's Rest, armed with a pair of carved wooden pistols of his own manufacture. The robbery took place on the evening of 7 June 1912. The coach, drawn by mules, was making its leisurely way through the pass at the crest of the long hill which runs down to the Blyde River and Pilgrim's Rest. It was at this point, thirteen years before, that there had been a notorious and successful highway robbery. Now, on this mild June evening, history appeared to be repeating itself. One of the passengers, Peter Williams, reported that a masked figure placed its foot on the back step of the carriage and levelled two pistols into it, one of them pointing directly at Williams' chest. Then a strange voice, with an American accent, barked out instructions. They were all told to put up their hands, and the driver to throw out 'that box of gold you loaded up in Lydenburg this morning!' A moment later, the passengers heard a thud as something hit the ground. The robber hopped off the coach, and in the same curious voice ordered the driver on. He was last seen standing beside his booty, watching the coach as it rattled away into the dusk. Two things had impressed the passengers: the highwayman's obviously faked accent, and the startling resemblance of its timbre to that of well-known local character, Tommy Dennison. A cockney by birth, Dennison had come out to South Africa as a private in the British Army during the Anglo-Boer War. For a while he had been a dispatch rider to the Earl of Athlone. After the war, reluctant to go home, he had gravitated to Pilgrim's Rest. There he had worked as the village barber before becoming a kind of general laundryman to the unmarried men of the village. His cheerfully feckless character and an addiction to the Royal Hotel, however, had led him into debt. Memory of the earlier hold-up had prompted him to try his own luck. In the event, it proved to be a small haul. Dennison got away briefly, with £129 in silver and florins and half-crowns, but his common sense seemed to match the extent of his ill-gotten gains, for the day after the robbery he was seen in Pilgrim's Rest, frantically paying off his debts in coins. It wasn't long before he was tracked down and apprehended in the Royal Hotel, where he was busy drinking down the last of the loot. The court took him more seriously than he professed to take himself. He was found guilty as charged, and sent off for five years as a guest of the State in Pretoria Central Prison. With a year remitted from his sentence, he emerged unrepentant, his American accent intact. Returning to Pilgrim's Rest, he opened 'The Highwayman Garage'. The wooden pistols used in the robbery were defiantly nailed over the door for all to see and admire. The hero of the last mail-coach robbery in South Africa, Dennison earned himself a small but secure place in the cast of local eccentrics. Even in his own day he was regarded as a human nugget; a character to be prized

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