Royal Commission report day 51 page 9

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The Royal Commission evidence for 8/9/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 51)

[[../../people/peN_P/nicolsonPAC.html|Ass Com Charles Hope Nicolson]] giving evidence

17248 Since then we have received these letters from John Sherritt, senior:— “ September 3 rd 1881 ; Sheep Station Creek. Mr. Longmore , Chairman and gentleman of the Royal Commission of the Police Enquiry Board. Sir,-After reading, in one of the Melbourne papers, Mr. Nicolson's statement that it was not true that his wife (Mrs. Nicolson) came to Beechworth to blast my son, loss Sherritt’s character. When my son was before the Commission, giving evidence, I went to Beechworth to get a few gentlemen to sign a petition in favor of my son, which I forwarded to Melbourne . On the day that I went to Beechworth there was an election of shire councillors. Some of the gentlemen that I wanted to see were at the elections. The first gentleman that I went to was a J.P. I asked him to sign for my son John . He replied by saying, ‘Why, I am just after refusing to sign a paper for Mrs. Nicolson ; I told her that I kind nothing to say against any of the Sherritt family, and I won't interfere on either side.’ He told me this in confidence. I promised not to mention his name; at the same time, if Mr. Nicolson insists in the lie, I shall tell the gentleman's name. He told me that he and her son came up from Melbourne to him, and he would have nothing to do in the matter. On the same day I went to Mr. Dodd , of Beechworth, another J.P. He brought me into his office, and told me that there was a man came to him and wanted him to sign that my son was a rogue; he said he would not sign. I asked Mr. Dodd the person's name; he did not tell me. He said he lived outside of Beechworth. I believe if the gentlemen of the Commission took the trouble to write to Mr. Dodd , I think that he would tell them his name, as I think, to the best of my belief, he was acting for Mr. Nicolson . – John Sherritt , senr. I solemnly swear, before any magistrate or J.P., that the contents of this is true. – John Sherritt , senr. In my presence John Sherritt has sworn to the truth of the statements made in this document, that the above is his signature. – Henry T. Fox, J.P. Beechworth , Sept. 23rd 1881.’ —There is also the following letter from John Sherritt, junior:— “ Melbourne , Sep 6th 1881 . To the Honorable Francis Longmore , M.P., Chairman Police Royal Commission. Honorable sir,—I see in the paper at your last sittings that Mr. Nicolson denied that his wife had anything to do with regard to my character in Beechworth. I am prepared to bring evidence forward that she did her best to damage my character. I was told in Melbourne , by one of the gentlemen that she went to to enquire what kind of a character I was. He says he told her that he knew nothing against me, and also that he would have nothing to do on either side. His name is Mr. Crawford , J.P. Your most obedient servant, John Sherritt.”—Do you still adhere to that statement?— Yes, decidedly. Mrs. Nicolson, after that statement of Sherritt's, insisted upon going up to a lady friend of hers up there, the wife of the person named in that letter, to see if there was any truth in it-if there were any grounds for such a thing; and she stayed there until she returned the following day; and her enquiry was on that point, to ascertain if Sherritt's statement, about my not taking action on his giving information, and any other information, was true.

17249 What could Mrs. Crawford tell on that subject?— She did not expect her to tell anything about that, but others could. Mrs. Nicolson is not far off, and can come in and explain the whole without reserve.

17050 That is the declaration from old Sherritt?— I do not care for twenty declarations from him. There is no truth in the statement about the petition.

17251 Do you know the Mr. Dodd, J.P., mentioned here?— No, not personally.

The Chairman stated that the Commission would require a declaration from Mrs. Nicolson and from the gentleman mentioned in the Sherritts' letters.

17252 By Mr. Hare (to Mr. Nicolson ) . —My going out coursing was referred to. Was I not on leave for three or four days?— Yes.

17253 I was on leave at the time?— Yes.

17254 And I had been up there seven months doing work, and was entitled to leave?— Yes.

17255 Do you think there was any harm my going to the coursing meeting?— No.

17256 Was there any regulation in the force about keeping dogs?— I am not aware if there was but I thought it was high time there was. I know a constable in your district, stationed in Melbourne , was secretary to a coursing club.

17257 Not when he was under me?— You yourself related it to me.

17258 He was not under me. But do you think there is any harm in a constable or an officer keeping a dog any more than keeping a cat?— No.

17259 By the Commission (to Mr. Hare ) . —There have been enquiries about the police force several times, and the great charges brought against them were that they were cock-fighters and rat-pitters and all such like, and that the force was demoralized through the superintendents being engaged in those pursuits?— But there is nothing to show I had been. Surely attending a coursing meeting and keeping a hound does not make me a courser.

17260 By Mr. Hare (to Mr. Nicolson ) . –You have referred to a report on the inspection of my district, and you complained about the tone in which I replied to it?— Yes.....

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