Royal Commission report day 9 page 4

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The Royal Commission evidence for 6/4/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 9)

Francis Augustus Hare giving evidence

1602 Did you accept that?— Yes. I will read the telegram from Mr. Fosbery, Inspector-General of the New South Wales police:


Telegram from E. Fosbery to F.C. Standish, 6th February 1863 .

I think Hare could now obtain appointment of superintendent at Maitland. I know you would not stand in his way, unless his Melbourne prospects are better. Would you confer further obligations on me by speaking to Hare on the subject, and reply by telegraph if Hare could and would come by first steamer on leave for a week.

(Signed) E. FOSBERY.

I was then holding the rank of an inspector of police in Melbourne , and I consulted with Captain Standish and told him that I felt inclined to accept the appointment as it was better than the one I held. He said to a me “I do not want to stand in your way, but I think you are foolish to leave this colony after the service you have rendered. The Government have a good opinion of you, and I feel sure that if anything happens to me you will get my appointment.” I consulted others on the subject and they advised me to remain as I was. About July of the year 1864, just at the time the Echuca railway was being opened (I was at the time an inspector of police in Melbourne), I was sent for by Colonel Mair, who was acting for Captain Standish as, chief commissioner, Captain Standish being in Sydney on leave. He directed me to proceed with a party of fifteen or twenty armed men to Echuca. I was to go to Sandhurst by train, and from thence get on by ballast waggon or any other way I could with my men. There was a dispute between the Victorian and New South Wales governments at the time about the Customs, arrangements, and the latter Government had issued a proclamation that they would seize all boats and goods on the river Murray , that they claimed the Murray as theirs. I received no instructions, but I was told to go up; and I was given a placard written by Sir James McCulloch, the then Chief Secretary, and if necessary, I was to post those notices on to the trees in opposition to the New South Wales Government's notices. When I got to Echuca I found the place in a state of great excitement, persons all expecting to have their boats seized on the following day, and I at once had those notices published that I have referred to, and considered the best plan to adopt to bring the matter to a termination at once. About three o'clock in the afternoon I told the Custom-house officer belonging to New South Wales that I intended putting dutiable articles on the river in a boat that afternoon, such as tobacco and sugar, and told him if he chose that he might come up with me in the cab I had employed for the purpose, and he agreed to do so. I put the articles in the boat, and immediately I did so, the Custom-house officer came down and said, “I seize those in the name of the New South Wales Government.” I said, “You will not put your foot in this boat. If you do you must take the consequences.” He said, “Do you mean that?” and I said “Yes,” and he left the bank. I sent those articles down the middle of the Murray , and landed them at Echuca, having put them on at Moama, that is, landed them on our side of the river. I sent a sergeant with them in the boat, and I returned to the telegraph office with the New South Wales Custom-house officer. I remained at Echuca for a fortnight longer. Nothing transpired, and then I was ordered down to town. Sir James McCulloch sent for me and expressed his approbation of the manner in which I had acted throughout the whole matter, and subsequently Mr. Tyler did the same for the Commissioner of Customs. I went back to Melbourne to my duties.

1603 What was the nature of your instructions?— I had hardly any. Colonel Mair said there was a dispute between the two colonies. I was to protect the boats, and see that the New South Wales people did not take away the boats of the Victorian people. I was to go and protect the boats against being seized by the New South Wales Government.

1604 If the Customs officer had come on your boat, what would you have done?— I would have pitched him into the river. Then came the Power affair, which I have already explained to you. Here is the letter I received at that time.

No. 1526 (Copy.)

SIR, Chief Secretary's Office, Melbourne , 22 June 1870 .

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letters, noted in the margin,*. reporting the capture of “Power,” the bushranger, in the ranges at the head of the King River , by a small party of police, consisting of Superintendents Nicolson and Hare and Sergt. Montford assisted by a tracker.

I need not say that this intelligence has been received by the Government with very great satisfaction.

It will afford me much pleasure to comply with your recommendation, that Sergt. Montford should be at once promoted to the rank of sub-inspector, and I shall take care, when an opportunity offers, that the services of the superintendants are suitably acknowledged.

In the meantime I have to request that you will convey to these two officers that the Government highly appreciates the perseverance they exhibited under very trying circumstances, their tact and personal courage, as well as the honorable feeling that has prompted them to decline receiving any portion of the reward offered for Power's arrest; and that I desire to thank them for having effected the capture of a desperate criminal, whose prolonged resistance to the law and successful evasion of justice, for a period extending over many months, has become a reproach to the colony.

I have the honor to be, Sir

The Chief Commissioner of Police, Your most obedient servant,

Melbourne . JAMES McCULLOCH.

Shortly after that letter was received, the matter was brought before Parliament, and Sir James McCulloch stated that he intended to promote the officers, when a suitable vacancy occurred. I am at this present moment the same rank as I was then. Then I received these letters in the Kelly business:—

80 / 617 Police Department, Chief Commissioner's Office,

SIR, Melbourne , 2nd July 1880 .

I have the honor to enclose, for your information, a copy of a letter I hare received from the private secretary

to His Excellency the Governor.

It gives me great pleasure to have this opportunity of conveying to you this expression of His Excellency's appreciation of the important services you recently rendered to the Police Department and the community generally in connection with the destruction of the Kelly band of outlaws.

I have the honor to be, Sir,

Your obedient servant,

Francis Hare, Esq., F.C. STANDISH

Superintendent of Police, Police Depot Chief Commissioner of Police.

Sir, Government House, Melbourne , 30th June 1880 .

Although the Governor has already communicated to you, by telegraph, his congratulations to the police on their successful overthrow of the Kelly gang, he was not, at the time, fully aware of all the circumstances of the ease, and I am now directed by His Excellency to request that you will convey to Mr. Superintendent Hare, Mr. Superintendent Sadleir Mr. O'Connor, and the members of the police force engaged on that occasion, his thanks and congratulations upon the Promptitude, courage and determination displayed by them; and also upon the very proper prudence and caution exercised, by which, no doubt, several valuable lives which might otherwise have been sacrificed were saved.

I have the honor to be, Sir

Your obedient servant,

Captain Standish(Sgd.) FREDK. LE PATOUREL

Chief Commissioner of Police, Melbourne Private Secretary.

Telegram, 5th and 20th June.

This is a private letter I received from a gentleman up at the Kelly capture—Mr. Carrington—whom I never saw before that day, and have never seen since. I wrote to him thanking him for his kindness to me on the morning when my arm was wounded, and expressed regret that the papers should have found fault with the way he did it. His answer was:—

Yorick Club, Melbourne , 19th July 1880 .

My dear sir, —Pardon me for not answering your letter before this, but I have been so very busy that I really hare not had time. Looking back on the past, I sincerely regret that you were wounded so early in the fray, as from that moment the police were virtually without a leader, Mr. Sadleir did not take any active part outside to my knowledge.

People seem to forget that you rushed the house at night with the four outlaws inside, and, had you not been wounded, I feel certain that the end would have come short, sharp, and decisive.

The house was never rushed but the once, and in the broad day1ight, with Byrne dead and Ned a prisoner. Why did not the police go for it again? Because they had no leader.

It was in that first rush that Ned was wounded, and I feel certain that, had he not been wounded, he would have escaped, and Sergeant Steele would not have shot him. The pool of blood on the ranges was where Ned had fainted in the night. He could not have got away then even if he had wished. With his weight of armour, and loss of blood, he could not have mounted his horse again.

I speak impartially, and I consider it is due chiefly to you, secondly to Curnow, and thirdly to Bracken, that the Kelly gang owes its demolition. If there is an enquiry, I shall be glad to give evidence to that effect Mr. Webb, I should think, ought to know that a man who had fainted from loss of blood was not in a very fit state to look after ladies. I never saw any one bleed as you did.

Yours truly,


The next paragraph is about the ladies. Some fault was found about my leaving the ladies at the time. I was wounded, but it is a matter of no importance, and I need not read it.

1605 Was he one of the reporters?— Yes; for the Sketcher.

1606 He went up with you and Mr. O'Connor in the train?— Yes. He was no friend of mine. I did not know any of them except Mr. Melvin. As to being in league with the reporters, I never spoke to them before the affair or since, except to the one who came in to me when I was wounded......

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