John Sherritt Jnr
|Side of Authority
This page contains content from police and those who supported authority.
Importance of John Sherritt
John Sherritt was Aaron Sherritt's brother who helped him as a police agent Links to the KellyGang , Early Years , Fitzpatrick Incident , Mansfield Murders , Sebastopol Cavalcade , Euroa Robbery , Jerilderie Robbery , First Cave Party , Hare replaced by Nicolson ,Aaron Married , Second Cave Party , Nicolson replaced by Hare , Death of Aaron Sherritt , Glenrowan Siege , Inquest Aaron's death , Ned Kelly's Trial , Reward Board , Royal Commission , Early career , Later career , Family , John's family
Father John, Mother Anne , Brothers and Sisters Aaron 1855, Elizabeth (Bessie) 1856, William George 1860, Anne Jane 1862, Julia Frances 1864, Esther 1867, Mary 1869, Maria 1872, Martha 1875, Family ??
Links to the KellyGang
Early Years I was born in 1858 and grew up with the rest of my family at Woolshed.
James Wallace thought that I as a sympathizer, at least, according to my statement. I could communicate at any time with the KellyGang, perhaps not directly, but indirectly through their relatives. But he do not think that I was willingly a sympathizer. It was more through my friendship for Joe Byrne, not through countenancing crime. (RC14556)
Sebastopol Cavalcade 7/11/1878 This was when Aaron met the senior police Jerilderie Robbery 10/2/1879 After the robbery Aaron helped Sup Hare with a search party watching Mrs Byrne's place. After this Mrs Byrne suspected Aaron of being a police agent and she broke off the relationship between Aaron and her daughter Catherine. Aaron retaliated by taking Catherine's horse back and that made Mrs Byrne even more upset. One day when my friend James Dawson and I were around at Aaron's selection she paid him a visit and gave her a piece of her mind. She even threatened that she would get the KellyGang to shoot him. Later she charged Aaron with stealing the horse but he was finally acquitted (RC13165)(OMA29/7/79)
Some time after the robbery of the Jerilderie bank by that party the whole KellyGang came to Mrs Byrne's house. I then saw him personally on the matter in Beechworth, and asked him why he did not capture them.
In about fourteen days afterwards I received a letter Joe Byrne, requesting me to meet him at Sandy Creek, near Wangaratta. This letter I forwarded to Mr. Nicolson, who instructed me to keep the appointment with Byrne. I accordingly did so, and met Joe Byrne, and had a conversation with him. He wanted me to become a scout for the KellyGang.(RC15216)
They thought of arresting me for stealing a sheep. I had a skin (JJK)
I was at my parents home
Hare replaced by Nicolson 6/7/1879 late August
James Wallace came to dinner with my mother. He reported; "The old lady was not at all communicative, but appeared nervous and frightened. Had a walk out with Jack for his father's horse (K. K.'s lost chesnut). He was rather reticent and distrustful at first. I asked him how the outlaws were so foolish as to go into the house while the children were there" - might have happened. That might have been the night after the trial of Aaron Sherritt for the theft of Mrs Byrne's horse." (RC14626)
About Setember 1879
I was a selector on Sheepstation Creek, near Beechworth, and occupied 100 acres of land, being also at the time engaged in a contract for fencing for Mr Crawford, coach proprietor, which I had taken jointly with my brother, amounting to the sum of about £300. During the progress of the contract I received a message from Det Ward that Ass Com. Nicolson wished to see me. I had an interview with Mr Nicolson in Wangaratta on 12/9/1879. He asked me to undertake police duties to assist in the capture of the Kelly party of outlaws. I told him that the party of KellyGang constantly visited Mrs Byrne's house at Sebastopol, and that they might be easily captured. (RC15216) (RC15230).Was James Wallace with me? (RC15220)
Mr. Nicolson again sent for me, and I met him at Allen's store in Beechworth. He then persuaded me to continue on doing duty for the police, and he gave me £5 in £1 notes, saying that when the KellyGang were captured I would get the biggest portion of the reward. After this Ned Kelly visited my place and Dan Kelly visited my brother William and later my place. (RC15216)
The Royal Commission spent some time deciding whether I had been a faithfull police agent. They had the following to say about me and my meeting with Dan Kelly at Crawford's paddock:
" This policy of procrastination was more especially noticeable on the occasion of Sherritt's interview, when he informed Mr. Nicolson of Dan Kelly's visit to his place at Sebastopol on the 13/11/1879, leaving word that he would call again about eight o'clock. Both witnesses agree as to the facts, but there is a marked difference as to the precise hour at which the interview occurred, and upon this point the material value of Jack Sherritt's information hinges. According to his evidence, he left the Woolshed in time to interview Mr Nicolson about half-past seven o'clock, and as the outlaws called at his place at eight, it has been urged that there was ample time for a party of police to have proceeded there, if not to encounter the gang direct, to have at least obtained such a clue to their whereabouts as would probably lead in the end to their capture.
"As against the evidence of Jack Sherritt, however, there must be taken, not only the denial of its accuracy, as given by Mr. Nicolson, but several other circumstances which deserve consideration in weighing the value of the testimony given pro and con. ....
"Supposing then that Dan Kelly called at Sherritt's at seven o'clock, these intervals bring up the hour to 8.35 p.m. before Mr. Nicolson was in a position to order out a search party to go in pursuit. It would occupy say ten minutes getting a search party together, saddling the horses, and preparing to start, and, by going by the main road, the ground might be covered in about twenty-five minutes. It would, therefore, be after nine o'clock before the men by any possibility could have reached the spot. But the probabilities are against the entire gang having called according to promise. It was well known and can be easily understood that they never kept an appointment punctually. Again, as comparing oath with oath, there is on the one side a young man not particular as to dates, who, at the time, according to his own admission, was greatly agitated, thinking that the outlaw had called to carry him off, and disposed to make the most of his case, when before the Commission, as against the Assistant Commissioner. On the other, there is a trained official, accustomed to accuracy in matters of detail, who wrote the circumstances of the interview at the time in his memorandum book, and who, some days afterwards, wrote a long letter to the Chief Commissioner, in which he elaborates the narrative, and distinctly declares that it was late when Sherritt called at the station. ...... " (RC2nd reportXII) See also (RC15255) (RC15622) (RC15751)
Early November 1879
The police used to sneer at me in the cave, and I was not going to do any more duty for Nicolson, and I went to fencing; and Det Ward sent you to me, and gave me £5, and it was on this occasion I was to sleep in the garden. I said perhaps the outlaws might carry me off, and I might be shot along with them if they went to the bank. (RC15231)
I was accused by Aaron of stealing a side-saddle he had bought for his wife and a gold watch. They were taken from his mother in laws place one night, when he was on duty with the police; taken from outside at the back.(RC13440) see also (RC15654)
My collar and tie was apparently found in the house. (RC15665)
Ward gave me some clothes (RC15736)
I decided to sleep in the garden instead of in your house because I was frightened of the KellyGang. (RC15224) (RC15231) This could have been much earlier- about April 1879.
My mother got up early on the morning of 26/5/1880 and went looking for my horses so I could do some ploughing. (RC13184)
Ward said that I did not work for him for several months (RC15731)
There was hardly a week that I did not see Ass Com. Nicolson and give him particulars of the movements of the KellyGang, and I believe he could have easily captured all or some of the party almost during the whole time he was up there. Subsequently Mr. Nicolson was withdrawn, and Mr. Hare took his place. I then wrote to Mr. Hare (RC15216)
Nicolson replaced by Hare 2/6/1880 After that I used to go and stay with Belle and Aaron for a couple of weeks at a time. I was splitting in the area and I used to sleep in the house while the police were out with Aaron. (RC13303)
I wrote this letter to Mr. Inspector Hare from my home at Sheepstation 20 June 1880, just a few days before my brother Aaron was shot dead by Joe Byrne.
'Dear Sir,-I would very much like to have seen you yesterday, as the outlaw Byrne does be frequently and sleeps in-'s haystack on Sebastopol. I cannot see how it is that he is not caught before now. His brother Patrick does be out all night and sleeps all day.Mrs. Byrne has their winter flannel and socks all ready to go to them, and she has provisions for six families stored by in her house. Sir, I don't want to dictate to a gentleman of your ability, but the plan I would suggest is this-for Patrick Byrne to be watched minutely day and night, as this is a particular time. As long as Aaron has the men down there, they will never do any good, as to my knowledge he lets too many of his mother-in-law's children to his house, and his mother-in-law herself will go there night after night, and will stop sometimes until two o'clock in the morning, and this will be the means of discovering the police, as the Barry children and the Byrne children go to the same school, and are on friendly terms. Dear sir, the reason I send you these few lines is this- anything I say up here, they will not listen to it; therefore I would like to explain matters to yourself. I am certain before long they are going to make another raid; I have not heard yet what it is. I am very busy now, but if you don't succeed; sir, I have a grand plan made up that I think will carry through. I remain your. Most respectfully, JOHN SHERRITT, junr.'
(Why did I write this letter) (who prompted me to write) (Argus10/8/81)
Death of Aaron Sherritt 26/6/1880 I was not at Aaron's place the night he died Glenrowan Siege 28/6/1880
I was present at the Glenrowan siege with the police from Beechworth. I was a train driver and I was sent down by Det Ward. (RC13862) (RC15216) Inquest into death of Aaron Sherritt I gave evidence at the inquest. (DailyTelegraph29/6/80)
Although Hare had not met me or my brother William before Aaron's death, he thought that unless the authorities showed some consideration for the families of those who had assisted the police, on any future occasion they would have the greatest difficulty in getting men to work for the police.
After the siege Ramsay said to Hare "We intend giving them a selection of land and allowing them to settle on it." Hare said to him, "Those men have no money, and it will be a great difficulty regarding them; would it not be better to let them join the force, if they behaved themselves. They can remain in the force, and if they do behave themselves they will make excellent constables."
Hare said he knew nothing about them himself, except what Aaron Sherritt used to tell him. Aaron said that they were not like him; that they had never committed any offence, and he asked Hare to be careful not to be seen by us, as we did not wish to mix ourselves up with the Kelly business at all, because he looked upon us just the same as the public, that we could not assist Hare or the outlaws in any way.
Mr. Ramsay said to Hare, "I think it is a very good idea; will you speak to Captain Standish on the subject? " That was on a Saturday night. On the Monday Hare saw Captain Standish, and Standish told Hare Mr. Ramsay had been speaking to him about the Sherritts, and he (Captain Standish) thought it was a very good idea, taking us on in the force. Standish then wrote, and told those us to report ourselves at the depot. We were then living at Oakleigh with my mother's relative, Mr Baker.(RC1598) See also (RC15431)
Det Ward told the Royal Commission that I did not lie (RC15707)
I never got paid very much for all my good work (RC15728)
Sup Hare supported us in our police careers but after a few weeks (19/10/1880) Ass Com Nicolson recommended that our employment with the police be terminated. The Government gave us a gratuity, because we had purchased our uniforms of about £50 and then just left us to fend for ourselves (RC1601) (RC15216) (RC16608) (JJK)
Kelly Reward Board
Following the meetings of the Reward Board in December 1880 I recieved a reward of about £42
I also handed to the Royal Commission a letter that stated that I did not write the letter signed 'M. Connor.
During the time I was giving evidence Mrs. Nicolson, the wife of Sup Nicolson, was up in Beechworth, and asked magistates and others to sign paper and to give evidence unfavorable to my character. (RC16315)
The Royal Commission came to the following conclusion about me:
"Jack, the youngest brother, appears to have acted faithfully to the police while engaged by them; and there seems no doubt that from time to time he gave them important and reliable information respecting his frequent intercourse with Dan Kelly and Joe Byrne. " (RC2nd reportXII)
Later Years I married Emily Norman in 1893 and we lived in Ballarat. We had 12 children.
I died in 1946
family .... home .. What happened to John Sherritt's family KellyGang