Royal Commission report day 11 page 6
The Royal Commission evidence for 12/4/1881
(see also introduction to day 11)
Superintendent Sadleir giving evidence
2053 Did you gather the reverse from the men—did any sergeants or competent officer of the force ever indicate that it would be desirable to keep the Kellys hunted, to keep them on the move?— No. I think, as far as I understood the temper of the police, they were altogether of my way of thinking; that is what I understood of the men. I was going on to say that, on the 11th July, information was received that the Kellys were seen—two of them—near Sebastopol . I know that Mr. Nicolson consulted with Detective Ward and Senior-Constable Mullane on the subject; and I believe it was not thought prudent to act upon it, but to guard the banks which were being threatened particularly by the outlaws —the banks at Beechworth. On the same date it was reported positively that Dan Kelly was seen near Doon , that is Mansfield , nearly 80 miles away from Beechworth; and it was not until the 13th that the police were able to find out that this was without foundation. During the whole of this time reports of various kinds were coming in. They were very puzzling, and gave a great deal of trouble, and nearly all of them were entirely without any foundation whatever; and I think it was in consequence of this unsatisfactory state of things that Mr. Nicolson kept almost exclusively to working by private agents. We both of us did what we could to get hold of suitable men, who knew the Kellys, and who knew the country, and were good bushmen, and who could go in and out among the sympathizers without being suspected. Of course this was a very difficult matter to get such men.
2054 Speaking about the sympathizers, before you pass away from that, had they not a very large connection in the country, near relations?— Very large indeed, near blood relations and intimate friends.
2056 And that an aunt of theirs lives on the same range, at the saw-mills?— Yes.
2057 And that from Mansfield all about they have first cousins, and uncles and aunts all round the country. Is not Miller their uncle by marriage; he was one of the sympathizers shut up?— Yes.
2058 I want to draw your attention to this fact, that the relations are all through that country; not one but hundreds?— I would fix them at a hundred.
2059 Near relations?— No, but as thick as relations; as loyal to them as relations.
2060 And a large number of relations?— A very large number.
2062 Is it not an immense connection?— Yes, it is an immense connection, they are all over the country, and also in new South Wales . They are at Dookie, at Lake Rowan , and some relations near Mount Look-out ; there is a man who claims to be an uncle there. I had forgotten Mrs. Quin.
2063 I wanted to draw your attention to that, because it was in the immediate neighborhood?— Yes; I think Mr. Nicolson had about eight or nine different men off and on working as agents for him, some for pay and some out of goodwill. Their wort extended as far as the Upper Murray right down to Benalla, Lake Rowan , Glenrowan, King River , and Beechworth; that is about all.
2064 Did you think it was a wise step to arrest the sympathizers; did you approve of that action?— No, I was always against it from the first.
2065 Did you remonstrate against it?— Yes, I spoke to Captain Standish and probably to Mr. Hare too; I thought it an unwise step. It would have been a very good step if it had been lawful, and if we could have kept them right enough, but it was both unlawful and we could not keep them; I knew that.
2066 Did you think it would put the outlaws doubly on their guard?— I was more afraid it would breed bad blood with those men.
2067 And you would have so many people against you; and you could not convict them?— Yes, I think it did cause the outlaws trouble, but that is a matter of conjecture; still I was against it from the very first. Those agents that I have referred to had great difficulty in getting information, but what they brought in seemed to be very sure. They satisfied us that the Kellys were still in the neighborhood within an area of say ten miles square.
2068 Is that the neighborhood of Greta?— Greta would be about the centre of it. And that they were shy beyond measure, that they were trusting only a very few. I know that some of the agents were watching sympathizers' houses for weeks together, but we had no luck in finding anything about them.
2069 Was your informant, then, a man who is mentioned as “Foot “ on this alias list?— It was.
2070 Had you confidence in that man previously?— Well, I knew he was a very slippery man......
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