|Side of Authority
This page contains content from police and those who supported authority.
The role of police agents
Renwick, Lawrence Kirwan,
Sherritt, Mrs Ann
Diseased Stock Agent
The Royal Commission reported on this incident in some detail:
Foot reported that the KellyGang, "were on foot, and of their identity there could not be any doubt. Mr. Nicolson, on being informed of this, at once telegraphed to Mr. Sadleir, from Benalla, instructing him to bring the man down. This order was not complied with, Mr. Sadleir explaining that he had left his informant drinking at a public house, and that he would himself be able to find the precise spot where the outlaws had been seen. Upon being questioned upon this point, Mr. Sadleir's knowledge was found to be vague; and Mr. Nicolson, under the circumstances, took no action.
This was the occasion upon which the search party had assembled in the barrack yard at Benalla, with their horses saddled and ready to start, when at the last moment they were ordered back to quarters. In the following memo., 30th September 1879, Mr. Nicolson thus explains to the Chief Commissioner his reasons for adopting this course:-
The informant was ..; he stated he saw five men. From conversation with Superintendent Sadleir, upon his return from Wangaratta, it did not appear that "the spot was indicated so that it could be found without difficulty," nor that "it could be taken up by the trackers at daybreak before the people were moving" and had become conscious of the presence of the police among them. The subsequent examination of Mounted-Constable Ryan as to the locality and its approaches did not tend to remove the above impression. It appeared that the neighborbood was settled, and that our party could hardly expect to pass Lloyd's house, even at midnight, without being discovered, and that the trackers might have to search over at least a quarter of a mile before finding the footprints., and considering the precaution said to have been taken by the men seen by in sending a man to dog him home, it seemed likely that they had taken the other pre caution of moving off, and, with the fifth man and other friends, each had taken separate directions, so that the trackers pursuing might find themselves running down one wrong man. Sub-Inspector O'Connor was of opinion that the chance of success was a bad one.
Considering my other improving sources of information, I determined, upon this occasion, not to disturb the false sense of security into which the outlaws have been lulled. Although I decided upon the above course upon the merits of the report made to me, yet I may remind the Chief Commissioner that .., the informant, was the man who tried to induce me to proceed with the Benalla police and meet him at the head of the King River on the day before the Euroa bank robbery. " (RC2ndreportXII)(Pat Quinn)
Early in December or January 1879 Sup Sadleir had a couple of private agents. He sent one of the scouts or agents into the upper end of the Strathbogie country. The agent travelled in amongst the most likely places there. The other took in about the Wombat. They also took in the heads of the King River and the Devil's River. Sadleir paid them 10s. a day, and they provided their own horses and their own provisions. (RC2025)
Soon after the Euroa robbery an agent named on that list, "Sherrington," offered himself to Com Standish, and was employed (RC2029)
Who was Tommy? (RC2729)
On 29/5/1880, on Ass Com Nicolson's last Saturday he forwarded a man from Benalla to Det Ward- "Renwick," giving Ward instructions what he was to do with him. Ward accompanied "Renwick" to very near Sebastopol on Sunday morning. Renwick informed Ward that he saw one of the outlaws on the side of the range, on the right-hand side of Mrs. Byrne's, going up the gully; that he saw a greyhound with him. Ward did not believe Renwick. (RC13860)
Renwick lived near Beechworth but he would not work for Sup Hare. (RC2680)
Did the police use women agents. (RC740)
Only Stevens at Glenrowan and Aaron Sherritt were to be paid after Ass Com Nicolson left duty in June 1880 (RC16643)