Royal Commission report day 42 page 11
The Royal Commission evidence for 3/8/1881
(see also introduction to day 42)
Mr James Wallace giving evidence
14762 Did Mr. Nicolson always express himself satisfied with your efforts?— He did not.
14763 When did he first begin to show dissatisfaction?— I could not tell you exactly.
14764 I have a letter here before me, January 26th 1880 , from you?— It would be about that time.
14765 In which evidently, from the tone of it, Mr. Nicolson has been declining to pay the sums you demanded; was that so?— He did not decline; but he said he would have to consult his superiors; he thought I had gone to too much expense.
14766 As a matter of fact, did he pay you at that time the amount you asked?— I do not exactly remember.
14767 “The information I referred to I gave you at Benalla on the 12th. My expenses, which I positively understated at £25, you said you were not in a position to pay in full until you had consulted with your chief. You stated that you would write to him on the next day (13th), that you would probably receive his reply by return post, and that you would communicate with me at once. You did not do so. Beyond remitting the £6, you said nothing as to the balance of my expenses, nor do you in the letter I have just received.” That would be the 12th of January that he objected to pay any more apparently?— Yes, about that time.
14768 And you stopped supplying any intelligence from that period?— No, I met him after at Wangaratta, and he paid me the balance; and on another occasion I met him in Benalla.
14769 You say— “As to your hints re my intelligence being ‘manufactured to raise money upon,’ I do not believe that you think so. For this reason, that you know that I do not receive a penny for my information, and therefore have no inducement to stoop to such an infamous imposture.” Did Mr. Nicolson hint to you that he was not satisfied with the way your information was coming?— He did on that occasion. He said it raised unpleasant suspicions when I was so slow in coming down, after returning from the bush after my Christmas holidays.
14770 There is one question I think you ought to answer candidly—have you supplied to the police one particle of information that you think upon mature consideration helped to catch the outlaws?— I think so
14771 At what date did you supply it after receiving it?— All through.
14772 I have read your correspondence over, and I confess I cannot find any information. I have read until I am weary. It is a perfect deluge of writing, with not a particle of information in it. I may tell you that the members of the Commission are strongly of opinion that the information in no way contributed to the success of the capture, and was from the first unreliable?— ( No answer.)
14773 Here is a report from Detective Ward 26th August 1879 :— “North-Eastern District, Beechworth Police Station, August 26th 1879.—Memo. —I have the honor to report, for the information of the Assistant Commissioner, James Wallace, schoolmaster, Hurdle Creek, came into Beechworth on Saturday, 23rd instant. He had a horse and buggy with him. He purchased a bag-of bread and a case of brandy, half a dozen of pocket-handkerchiefs, one bottle of scent, and a package of arsenical soap. Tommy met him by appointment from the Saturday previous. When he was in Beechworth also he told Tommy he came to see him to go to Melbourne with him, to try and get Graham Berry and the Marquis of Normanby to sign a reprieve for Joe Byrne by giving information to the police where the other three could be caught. He said he would arrange everything if Tommy would go with the police, but he should get £2,000 out of the reward, and cautioned Aaron if it could be arranged that he should take good care not to go as a target to the front. He said Constable Slater was the best friend the Kellys had; he told his friends the movements of the police, and the Kellys heard it shortly after. He also said that Sergeant Harkins , of Wodonga, heard something about a shanty four miles from Wodonga; that the Kellys heard it and changed their quarters. He said Byrne is treasurer and confidential for the gang; that their money is running short; they have only £500 and the gold. He wanted Aaron to go to Chiltern or Wodonga to sell the gold for him, and he would be well paid for it. Aaron refused, and said he was too well known to Sergeant Lynch , of Chiltern. He said he had 50 or 80 ozs.; that it would be melted down into 20-oz. pieces. He suggested to get a man with Aaron to go digging in the Stony Creek, near Beechworth, for a week or so, and then they could sell the gold. He made arrangements for Aaron to go to Hurdle Creek to his place on Friday evening (but not to cross the river before dark), when some arrangement would be made for the sale of the gold and the trip to Melbourne . He said Joe Byrne came to his place on Thursday night the 21st instant; that he wanted him to see Aaron and find out if he ( Aaron ) was after them yet; if so, to tell him he would know the consequences. He said Joe is frightened that Ned will sell himself and Hart through some of his friends. He said unless Byrne could be got free they would shortly stick up a bank, and the first thing they would stick up is Oxley, as there is whip of money there. He said he wanted to have a conversation with Detective Ward, to try and find out what was the opinion of the police as to whether the Kellys were in the country or not. He wanted Aaron to shoot Ward , and it would be left on the Byrnes . Tommy states that he had about nineteen or twenty National Bank notes on him; that he spent about seven or eight pounds on Saturday night. On Saturday the 16th instant I met Mr. Wallace on the Beechworth road, near the Golden Ball. He was going to Beechworth. He said he would see me in Beechworth on that night, but failed to do so. I found on Sunday the 17th he spent a good part of the day at Sherritt's. On Saturday the 23rd I met him in Beechworth. We went into a public-house, and had several drinks. In course of conversation he asked me if I thought the Kellys were in the country. I said I thought they were. He said, ‘Why do you not catch them?’ In conversation it came down to this—the pardon of one to catch the other three. He said, ‘that is worked out; it can't be done.’ In payment for a round of drinks he pulled out a National Bank note, and passed it to me and remarked, ‘It is a pity you have not got the numbers now,’ and ‘You could do good.’ I replied and said, ‘Not at all, you are a friend of mine, I would take no action.’ He left me and spent money very freely during the night. Tommy slept with him at the Imperial Hotel, High street, that night. They left at about seven a m. for Mrs. Sherritt 's, where he remained until about twelve o'clock noon , when he left for home. Tommy accompanied him as far as the Golden Ball. There is no doubt of him being a warm supporter of the gang. Strict watch will be kept on him in Beechworth when he comes in.—M. E. WARD , Dect. 2358. I have been to Sheepstation Creek on yesterday. After coming back, saw Mrs. Sherritt , who is of the opinion that they will shortly give a call at her place. If they do, she will immediately let me know.—M. E. WARD, Det. 2358.” Had you any conversation of that sort with Aaron Sherritt ?— None whatever. It is a concocted report all through. It is a fact I bought things, though not all the things mentioned there I got bread.
14774 Is it the fact that you stopped there for the night?— Yes.....
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