Royal Commission report day 2 page 8

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The Royal Commission evidence for 24/3/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 2 )

Assistant Commissioner Nicholson giving evidence

418 Is that the same man that set fire to the hotel at Glenrowan?- That is the same man.

419 What was the nature of the dissatisfaction ?- The men were dissatisfied that they had not stayed there all night and followed up those traces in the morning; they were very sanguine about the gang. They had found what appeared to be a ramrod made from the branch of a tree, and whittled; they picked this up-a very good substitute for a ramrod; they had very great confidence that they could follow it up and find something.

420 Did the men under this officer's charge, by word or any expression they made use of, lead to believe that they had not faith in him-that he displayed indiscretion or cowardice?- Not cowardice; want of discretion, and a want of bush ability for work of that kind. No man said such a thing to me, but it was conveyed to me.

421 What opinion did you form of the case, from what you heard expressed by the men-Did you form any opinion yourself on that, as to whether it was a want of judgment, indiscretion, or from any other cause?- Want of judgment, and general unsuitability for that sort of duty.

422 Why did you consider him unsuitable-what was the cause?- Well, I consider he had made mistake in coming in that night. His convictions were not firm and decided enough; he had not decision of character enough.

423 You said you sent a message to a body of men to instruct them to remain there?- Yes.

424 Had those men then received your message?- I believe so.

425 Are you quite positive on that point?- Yes, I am quite positive on that point.

426 In coming in, he was guilty of insubordination and disobedience to superior officer's orders?- Yes, and I told him that; and he gave his explanation.

427 Was that in writing?- No, orally.

428 From your own knowledge of what happened, do you think he was near the Kellys at the time?- I have very much reason to doubt it, because my inspection of the horse showed it had been left a week.

429 You said they picked up a ramrod?- That may have been lying there three or four days.

430 You did not consider his excuse sufficiently satisfactory to warrant him in disobeying your orders?- No

431 And therefore sent him back to Beechworth, telling him to have nothing more to do with the Kellys?- I sent him back, not as a punishment, but because I did not feel confidence in him.

432 If you can, will you make matters as brief as possible?- I can give the name of the man at the farm, Margery was the name.

433 What was the name of the farm?- I do not know, simply Margery's farm.

434 Is it near to Barnawartha or Wodonga?- It is nearer to Barnawartha, within seven miles of Barnawartha. The strength of the North Eastern district in September 1878, that is just about two months before, was three officers, nine sub officers, forty three mounted constables; then of foot, nine sub officers and fifteen constables.

435 That is sergeants and senior constables?- First and second class sergeant and senior constables.

436 An officer to every two men?- Yes; the senior constables are merely men who get sixpence a day more than the constables, and they get charge of the stations. That was just a month before the Wombat murders. I have just shortly to say that during that time, and subsequently down to the Euroa robbery, I was engaged forming search parties, dividing the country off into sections, and going out myself with them in turn-not all, but some of them...

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