Royal Commission report day 22 page 1
The Royal Commission evidence for 18/5/1881
(see also introduction to day 22)
Daniel Barry giving evidence
The Hon. F. LONGMORE, M.L.A., in the Chair;
E. J. Dixon, Esq., J.P., G. R. Fincham, Esq., M.L.A., Esq.,
J. H. Graves, Esq., M.L.A.,
' By The Witness — I was questioned yesterday as to my doubts concerning the duty that was carried on in the cave party.
7963 By the Commission— That was in the early part of the day?— The second cave party. I have a letter in my possession to show in reply to one that I sent to Detective Ward.—[The witness produced and handed in the same.]—The letter will speak for itself whether I had doubts or not.
7964 Is that a copy?— That is the original from Detective Ward.—[ The letter was read by the Chairman, as follows]:—
Beechworth. December 29th, 1879 .
“Dear Barry,—I am really sorry to hear of your troubles, but I can assure you I cannot help it. I sent out provisions on Saturday, and they promised me to send them to you as quick as possIsle. Moses is married since Boxing Day, and you must be a little lenient to him; he complained to me you were very gross to him this evening. I have just heard Jack is left for Melbourne , so you must bear with a little hardship for a day or so. Be kind to Aaron, although it is against your wishes, until you hear from me again. Mr. Nicolson is in Benalla, Mr. Sadleir is here, so keep quiet. I will relieve you on Wednesday evening; you can come in after nightfall. I will see in future, if possIsle, that you are not without bread. You must understand that this watch has to be kept in future with six (6) men, so you will be no worse off than your other comrades. Aaron complains that you said to him that you and Cox should be relieved. What has he to do with the relieving of you? I would strongly advise all you boys to be kind to Moses for your own sake Mr. Nicolson is rather particular, and it would be unwise to quarrel on this duty. I will be able to give you more particulars in my next note. I do not understand what you mean when you say that there is something crooked; but if it is Aaron’s staying away, I can account for that. A man getting married likes to spend a few nights with the wife. I did not send the letter to Cox. Please tell Cox his dearly-beloved is in the enjoyment of good health, and is surprised where he is gone to. I remain, yours truly—M. E. WARD.”
7965 The Witness. —That is a reply to a letter I sent in expressing my doubts of the affair. I did not think it was all right.
7966 Doubts about the secrecy of it?— About the secrecy of it.
7967 You expressed a doubt in your letter that the thing was not secret?— Yes.
7968 That it was known, and that is the reply?— That is the reply to the letter, advising us to keep quiet, and to hold our tongues and not to say anything about it; that is the way I took the letter.
7969 Is there anything else?— Yes, I think it only right for me to state the instructions I received from Mr. Nicolson in going out with that party. I have not done so yet. The first object was secrecy.
7970 Were they in writing?— Verbally, in the presence of Mr. O’Connor and Detective Ward, in Beechworth. While we remained in the barracks it was not to be generally known or known at all that we were engaged on this secret duty. Then the duty itself, as to how it was to be done. First, should the four outlaws come, we were not to take them; we were to preserve the tracks and send for the black trackers.
7971 That is not to attempt to capture them?— Not to attempt to capture them.
7972 You understood that that duty would be considered too dangerous?— That was our orders— four men. The next was, should Byrne himself come alone we were to kidnap him—take him alive, if possible, and have him taken into Beechworth; but, should any row be made, and we thought the others were coming behind, we were to shoot him, and wait for the others, and shoot them as well, if we could. I have another thing to say also about the party in the Warby Ranges . I had only an opportunity of mentioning one reason why I thought we were on the outlaws, and that was seeing the prints of shed horses; and there were other things that we saw as well. The statement made by the two young men that we stopped and spoke to, that came on to us that night, contradicted their own statement. For instance, one of them, when questioned if any other men left Bryan 's on that evening, said he had been ploughing in the paddock that day, and, when it was put to him afterwards, he said he was away in the bush, and seemed very much confused about it. The next is, also, seeing a fire on the top of a very high hill. We went up and saw it—went right to that in a place where you could not form an idea what that was required for, if it was not a signal of some sort. Another reason was the removal of stones from the tops of three different high hills. Two stones removed on the side, I think—that was the side facing the north. They seemed to be all in the same manner and same way, and upon the same side; and we also came on some footprints.
7973 What about the stones?— Big boulders removed from the side.
7974 What did you think that indicated?— A mark of some sort. I could not understand it. If it had happened only in one place, I would have thought nothing of it, but in three different places, it seemed to mean something; and in another place were footprints. That is all I have to say.
The witness withdrew. ....
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