Royal Commission report day 7 page 3

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The Royal Commission evidence for 1/4/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 7)

Francis Augustus Hare giving evidence

1387 With regard to the unfitness of the men to use firearms, I would like to ask if your idea is the same as Mr Nicolson's?— No; but I will come to that by-and-bye, if you will allow me. I have already said that my own men were well acquainted with arms.

1388 They principally were Bourke men? Yes.

1389 Would you not be able to express an opinion as to the others?— I can; but I will come to that hereafter. I now come to the eleven months that I was away from the district.

1390 Before that I want to ask one question about the district. We have heard many assertions that several of the people about the Benalla district were assisting the outlaws in one way and another. Do you know of any instance beyond the relatives?— Yes, we had reports daily of them. The people at Glenrowan, or do you mean in the town of Benalla ?

1391 Yes?— Yes. There was one instance I can mention, but I had better not give the name.

1392 Was he arrested under your instructions and put in gaol?— Yes.

1393 Then he is a near relation—a cousin of theirs?— Yes. The Kelly family are the most prolific family I ever met in my life. There was no part of the colony from which we did not receive reports of them; in every part of the colony the Kellys had a cousin, an aunt, or something. If they had not a relation, they had a sympathizer who was always talking in their favor and picking up the news; for instance, about Blackwood, Trentham, and Avenel, and over towards Gippsland, Omeo, and other places are full of their blood relations. There is no part of the colony you can mention free from them.

1394 When you left the first time, about what number of the force was there on the ground—when you left Mr. Sadleir?— I could not possibly say the number; there were large numbers of men all over the place, many parties; and I could not give an estimate within thirty.

1395 In order that the question may be quite intelligible, will you explain to the Commission exactly the position you were in in regard to that North-Eastern district. Though you were in charge of the North-Eastern district for the Kelly business, you did not do duty at Mansfield ?— I did not do duty, but I had supervision. The whole district was under Captain Standish, Mr. Sadleir, myself, and Mr. O'Connor joined.

1396 Did you go up to Mansfield to do duty there—at that time Mr. Pewtress was there?— I do not think I was there.

1397 Did you visit the Wombat, where the constables were shot?— No. I was within three miles of it one day.

1398 When you were with the search party at Daws's, was that the nearest you were ever to it?—

1399 You did duty from Broken River , Daws's, round Wangaratta, Benalla, and down to the Murray ?— Yes; and down the Murray towards Kialla.

1400 That is north-east from Benalla towards the Murray ?— Yes. When Mr. Nicolson relieved me I sat with him.

1401 On which occasion?— When he relieved me; when I gave up charge, and came down to town.

1402 Is that in December?— No; I relieved him in December.

1403 You relieved Mr. Nicolson twice?— I did.

1404 When was it you are speaking of?— When Mr. Nicolson relieved me on the first occasion, I sat with him for several hours, and gave him all the information I could remember that had occurred during my stay there. I gave him the names of the agents I had in my employ; told him how they could be trusted, and my experience of them. Amongst them I gave him the name of the writer of that letter that he put in evidence here; the one who wrote about “Diseased stock.” I had visited the writer on several occasions, and he was working for me for some two or three months before I left; and I will fix the date—from the date of the sympathizers being in gaol, and just about to be discharged.

1405 That was when he began?— That was when he began. That was my first interview with him. There was not a single thing I kept back from Mr. Nicolson that I remembered, and I gave him full information on —

1406 This man specially?— Yes, I did tell him of that. I said he was one of the most reliable men I knew.

1407 And had he been previously employed by Mr. Nicolson during his time?— I cannot tell you that. At any rate, he did not give me his name; I found him out myself.

1408 Why were you relieved?— Because I was so ill.....

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