|Side of Authority
This page contains content from police and those who supported authority.
Importance of John Sadleir
I was in charge of the north eastern police district throughout the hunt for the KellyGang. The Royal Commission found that I was guilty of several errors of judgment while assisting in the pursuit of the KellyGang and that my conduct of operations at Glenrowan was not judicious or calculated to raise the police force in the estimation of the public It is easy to find fault. I was on duty right throughout the KellyGang outrage. Links to the KellyGang below
Early Years , Fitzpatrick Incident , Murders at Stringy Bark Creek , Sebastopol Cavalcade , Euroa Robbery , Jerilderie Robbery , Autum 1879 , Hare replaced by Nicolson , Spring 1879 Early 1880 , Death of Aaron Sherritt, Glenrowan Siege , Ned Kelly's Trial , Reward Board , 1881, Royal Commission , Early service , Later service , Family , Book ,
Links to the KellyGang
Early Years I had rheumatic fever from the start of my time in North Eastern Victoria which meant that I could not take parties out in the bush.(RC222) Fitzpatrick Incident 15/04/1878 I was stationed at Mansfield at the time of the incident. For a short time I was the Superintendent at Beechworth.(RC228)
After the Fitzpatrick outrage had been committed, I took steps to apprehend the KellyGang and those efforts having proved fruitless for a good many months, it was ultimately determined, with Com Standish's approval, to start two search parties, well armed, in pursuit of the KellyGang. One started from Mansfield, under the charge of Sergeant Kennedy, and the other from Wangaratta, under the charge of Const Strachan.(RC3)
Det Ward says that this was based upon his recommendation
In about Setpember 1878 I had just recovered from rheumatic fever and I was unable to go out at that time. By then I had resumed my ordinary duties, but I was not fit for extraordinary duties-travelling from morning to night through that rough country, and camping out. (RC437)
Murders at Stringy Bark Creek in the Wombat Ranges 26/10/1878 I made the plan to send out Sgt Kennedy and issued my orders to him on 16 August 1878. I was not satisfied with starting three, especially as none of them knew the KellyGang to a certainty, and that is why I chose Constable Lonigan. The expedition was delayed through various causes. I think the mother's trial was coming on, Sergeant Kennedy was a witness in some case in Beechworth, and I was looking for more particular information before sending them out, and I delayed it till October.(RC1741)
I revived the matter on 18/10/1878 and wrote to the officer in charge of Mansfield, Sub-Inspector Pewtress. On 21/10/1878 I gave Sgt Kennedy his final orders (see Sgt Kennedy for the text of my orders)(RC1742)
I also gave Sgt Kennedy the following orders
"It seems to be certain that 'Ned Kelly' is in the neighborhood of Greta, or from thence to Connolly's and the bogs near the Wombat. I am very anxious to make some special efforts to have the matter set at rest, and his apprehension effected, if possible. I have consulted with the senior-constable in charge at Greta, and it appears that there is not much likelihood of him and the constable with him there doing much towards arresting Kelly, or even disturbing him from the neighborhood. It has been proposed to collect, for the purposes of a thorough search, what constables are in the district who know Kelly personally, sending say two of them to Mansfield to act with Sergeant Kennedy from that end, and the others to act with the Greta police, and to search simultaneously up and down the King River and neighboring places. I shall be glad to receive any suggestions that Sergeant Kennedy may have to offer on the subject, and whether he is of opinion that anything might be gained by his coming here for a day or so to consult with the sub-officer taking charge of the party starting from the Greta end-that is, supposing this expedition should be determined on." (RC14392) (JJK) I was away on duty in the north of the district towards Shepparton 28/10/1878 when AssCom Nicolson arrived at Benalla to take charge of the hunt for the KellyGang. Next afternoon I arrived back in Benalla on horseback, had a short rest and then rode on to Mansfield. I stayed there for a few days and dispatched the search party that found Sgt Kennedy's body.(RC1733) See also (RC332) (Argus30/10/78)
After the murders Ass Com Nicolson was sent up to take charge of the hunt for the KellyGang. I still looked after the police district. But if Nicolson was away from Benalla and I could not communicate with him by telegram, it was my duty to act upon any valuable information I might have received.(RC15933)
Citing at One mile Bridge at Wangaratta
Sebastopol Cavalcade 7/11/1878 On the 6/11/1878 I got news of a possibe citing of the KellyGang in Wangaratta. I gave Sgt Steele certain orders in relation to that matter. (Argus8/11/78) (RC14705) (CHC)
On that evening I sent a telegram to Nicolson in Benalla to tell him that the KellyGang had been at Sebastopol and that they were still there. Com Standish was at Benalla at the time seeing Nicolson. (RC11).
See text of my telegram to Nicolson (RC1768)
Nicolson accused me of being the officer responsible for the great cavalcade of police. (RC376)
When he and Com Standish arrived I was no longer the most senior officer present.
Nicolson seems to think that I was responsible for organising the police who arrived at Sebastopol (RC398)
Did I introduce Aaron Sherritt to Com Standish? (RC15870)
The Royal Commission was unkind enough to place the blame at my feet for this unfortunate event in the following rather colourful way:
"One of the earliest combined movements of the police in pursuit of the outlaws was not calculated to favorably impress the mind of the public as regards the capacity of the officers. The "Sebastopol charge" as it has been designated, and which took place on the 7/11/1878, proved an utter fiasco, calculated simply to excite ridicule, and for this Superintendent Sadleir must be held directly responsible." (RC2nd reportVI)
On 11/11/78 I met Ass Com Nicolson in Wangaratta (Argus12/11/78)
Euroa Robbery 10/12/1878 I recieved a letter that was posted Bungowannah in early December 1878 about the KellyGang crossing the Murray near Howlong. It came from a formerly very reliable source. See text of the letter. (CHC) (RC1972)
On the day of the robbery I was in my office in Benalla. We had got some very good information that the KellyGang were up on the Murray.
In the short time we had to think it appeared to us impossible that anything of mischief could have happened as early as two o'clock that day, and nothing more be known of it at eight o'clock, when we met Mr. Wyatt. During the day we despatched seven telegrams, and we had heard nothing about the break in the wire. (RC2003)
Ass Comm Nicolson and I caught a train to Wodonga on the night of the robbery. Of course we had been dragged off in exactly the wrong direction much to the amusement of most of the Colony's population. That day we sent 8 telegrams and had no indication that the lines were down. Let me get Ass Comm Nicolson to tell you how this all came about.(RC2454) See Nicolson's expaination (RC483)
Mr Wyatt closed the door on me when he gave his news to Ass Com Nicolson. I spoke to the other passengers but got no information about the wires being cut. As we traveled north I saw Mr McDonald acting suspiciously on the platform at Glenrowan. (RC16692) see Nicolson's account (RC489) See also (CHC)
In going to Wodonga I intended to inspect the police station there and perhaps go to the crossing place with Ass Com Nicolson. We returned back to Wangaratta next morning at about 2am when the engine driver could get the steam up. By arrangement with Mr. Nicolson, I took the Wangaratta police to Lake Rowan, via Glenrowan, keeping south along the foot of the Warby Ranges. While we came across some fresh tracks we lost them in thick bush. (RC2011) (RC16697)
The only other search parties I went out with were to Euroa and Muddy Creek, on some information by a water-police constable; which turned out to be mistaken; two trips with Mr. O'Connor and his trackers and some police, altogether lasting about three weeks, and one night watching at the Ovens crossing with Mr. Hare. I took some other trips, lasting only a day, to examine likely crossing-places on the railway line and elsewhere. Besides these trips, I made it my business in all my journeys in connection with my own ordinary duties to collect information wherever I went from the police and others. (RC16698)
I was a member of the Benalla Amateur Coursing Club. (OMA5/4/79)
On 29/9/1879 I met one of my agents,Foote, between Oxely and Wangaratta and he told me that he saw the KellyGang with Tom Lloyd the day before. With this great information I rode in as fast as I could to Wangaratta and telegraphed to Mr. Nicolson to get everything ready for an early start. I also said that I would be in the last train. Unfortunately nothing came of this. Com Standish explained why.(RC63 RC16698).
The Royal Commission reported on this incident in some detail. I was unable to find the spot which Foote referred to again. He can tell this story. (RC2nd reportXII) see text of my telegram and text of Nicolson's report to Com Standish. (RC742)
I was at the scene of the Lancefield robbery (Argus16/8/79)
Nicolson replaced by Hare 2/6/1880 When I heard that Sup Hare may replace Ass Com Nicolson I wrote to him privately as a friend, and tried to dissuade him from coming. (RC2474) (RC2916) (Argus30/12/81)
I was present with Insp O'Connor in Benalla when Ass Com Nicolson handed over command of the hunt for the KellyGang to Sup Hare.The Royal Commission made some conclusions about what actually happened at that meeting (RC2nd reportXIII) See (RC2513) (RC2522) (RC2745) (Argus31/8/81)
Death of Aaron Sherritt 26/6/1880 I was at Benalla at the time.
At about 3pm on 27/6/1880 Sup. Hare sent for me. I found him near the post office. He then informed me of the murder of Aaron Sherritt and of the police in his hut being bailed up by the gang on the previous night. After some consultation, I advised him to get the trackers with Mr O'Connor back again. (RC2747)
Glenrowan Siege 28/6/1880
A few days after the siege I handed in the following report to the Chief Commissioner
Superintendent Sadleir's Report. Police Department, Superintendent's Office, Benalla, 1st July 1880. SIR,-I have the honor to furnish the following report, for your information, of such of the proceedings of 28th ult., in relation to the capture of the Kelly gang, as occurred whilst I was in command of the party of police carrying on the attack.
I was first made aware of the encounter with the gang by Superintendent Hare's return, at about 4 a.m.; and after exchanging a few words with him as to the position of affairs, proceeded to Glenrowan by train, accompanied by the whole of the reserve on the Benalla station.
Immediately on reaching Glenrowan, (see RC10321) and on dispersing to take up the best positions we could find around the building, numerous shots were fired from the direction of the house, striking the ground and fences close to us. After finding Mr O'Connor and learning what I could from him of the positions of the men, I made myself assured that the buildings were surrounded by the police, and in this I was greatly assisted by Constable Dwyer, 2,507, who was always willing to run the gauntlet under fire from one post to another.
It was not, however, until the capture of Ned Kelly, and then only from his statements, that there was any assurance that some of the gang had not passed through our lines, as the prisoner himself had done. We had occasional firing from the outlaws within the house, and could hear them calling out and rapping on their armour, but after this arrest the remainder of the gang slackened their fire greatly, and only a shot at intervals was heard. See also (SMH2/7/80)
About 10 am I called on the persons kept prisoners by the gang to make their escape, and allowed ten minutes' grace before recommencing firing, and soon after the word was passed on by the posts nearest to the front of the building a general rush was made by those persons, and no further shot was fired by the police until they had all been examined and passed out of the lines.
We had ascertained from these prisoners that the two outlaws, Dan Kelly and Hart, were still alive, and that Byrne was dead. These two survivors were called on several times to surrender, and, on their failing to do so, several of the police repeatedly appealed to me to let them rush the building. This I would not permit for various reasons, chiefly that the party rushing in could not be supported by those outside; that a long narrow passage through the house had to be traversed before the outlaws-whose exact position in the buildings was not known-could be reached; that they could not be knocked over, on account of the armour, until the police actually had their hands on them; that I knew they still had large supplies of ammunition. That there were yet several hours' daylight; and that the final capture or destruction of the two outlaws was a matter of certainty. I therefore held to the determination, though under considerable difficulties, to sacrifice no life in this way if it could be avoided.
I think it was about 3 p.m. when SConst Johnston, volunteered to set fire to the building, and after a short consultation with Mr. O'Connor and some of the senior members of the force present, arrangements were made accordingly. A strong firing party was placed under cover in front of the building, and another at the end to be fired, and protected by their fire the senior-constable was able to carry out his work and return in safety. This precaution was considered necessary, as a few minutes before it was reported that the two outlaws were seen at one of the windows. (See also (RC7164))
It was known at this time that Martin Cherry was lying wounded in a detached building, shot by Ned Kelly early in the day, as it has since been ascertained, because he would not hold aside one of the window-blinds; and arrangements were made to rescue him before the flames could approach him. This was subsequently done.
When the fire had taken, the Rev. Mr.Gibney, a clergyman of the Church of Rome, with great bravery passed towards the building, in spite of all remonstrance, and the constables and myself, with a view of stopping him, rushed forward, and this movement immediately changed into a general rush for the building, when, as I have stated, Cherry was removed, as well as the body of Byrne, the latter from the burning building.
It was found impossible to reach where the other outlaws were, and it is clear, from the Rev Gibney's statement, that these were dead when the fire took place; and it is impossible to say whether they had been killed by our last volley, or had shortly before taken their own lives.
Before proceeding briefly to refer to the conduct of the police under my command, I wish to call attention to that of Mr Jesse Dowsett, an employee on the railway, who, armed with a revolver only, stood manfully to his ground in the capture of Ned Kelly. His conduct has been specially commended to me by the members of the force who witnessed it. Understand also that Mr Charles Rawlins, of Lake Winton, was also in Mr. Hare's company at the first encounter, but that officer will be in a better position than I for describing what his conduct was.
I have also to acknowledge the readiness with which Dr Nicholson, of Benalla, accompanied my party, to afford any professional assistance that might be necessary, and his services were at once offered to Ned Kelly when captured.
The conduct of every member of the police force engaged was completely satisfactory.
From Insp O'Connor I had throughout the day continual assistance and advice, and with regard to the members of the Victorian force, my only difficulty was in restraining a few too eager spirits.
I have already alluded to the conduct of SConst Johnston. He did the special work sought by him in the face of special danger, as all then supposed
I am assured-for I was not present an the spot-that the men who captured Ned Kelly had a difficult and dangerous business for the short time it lasted.
I find that Srgt Steele (1,179), Sconst Kelly (I,925), Consts Bracken (2,228), Dwyer (2,507), and Montiford (2,697) were the men concerned. I find, also, that Consts Arthur (2,971), Phillips (2,746), and Healey (2,886) were all more or less directly assisting in the arrest of Ned Kelly.
Ned Kelly from his appearance in the imperfect light, looked like some unearthly being, on whom bullets had no effect. Mr. Dowsett, who was also on the spot, says he thought he was the devil.
The conduct of the trackers was excellent, and shows, certainly, that in good company at least they may be thoroughly relied on.
The circumstances of the day did not call for many acts of conspicuous daring, and excepting the severe wound to Sup Hare, none of the attacking party received any injury.
Cherry died in a few minutes after his removal from the building, and a boy named Jones has since died from his injuries in the Wangaratta Hospital. I also understand that a youth named Rearden is in a critical condition in the same institution. A man named George Metcalf has also been forwarded by your instructions to Melbourne for treatment to an injury received in the eye while the firing was going on.
Their fiends applied to me next day for the necessary order for burial, which I had procured for them, and expressed their acknowledgments for the consideration shown to them.
Subsequent reports as to the conduct of these people have, as I have good reason to believe, been greatly exaggerated.
The body of Martin Cherry was handed to his sister.
Looking at it from my point of view, I had to manage the district, was it unreasonable that I should put a man like SConst Kelly for a short time in a dangerous position, he being the only efficient man I had. (RC15955)
Kelly Reward Board Following the meetings of the Reward Board in December 1880 I recieved a reward of £240
Reasons for Leaving North Eastern Victoria in April 1881- future outbreaks I had an incident with SConst Kelly.
I will come now to the circumstances under which I applied to be removed from the North-Eastern district. Immediately after the Glenrowan business, I set about arranging for the prevention in the future of any further outbreak. I took a great deal of trouble in making provision for quarters and so on, and when the question was submitted again, the Government would not allow the expense. I almost foresaw this, and turned my attention to utilising the agents formerly employed by Mr. Nicolson. In a short time I felt satisfied that, with their help, I need not put the Government to the expense of more than one or two new stations in the Kelly country, and all that was really necessary beside was to keep the banks for a time safe from attack, and to have the nucleus of a party at Benalla ready to turn out in case of outbreak. The Government would not allow the trifling expense of paying an agent for his work and information, nor would they allow the guards necessary to keep the banks even moderately secure. I still tried to work, through relying on the agents; and I arranged with the Stock Protection Societies, and with private persons, to guarantee rewards up to the first sitting of the Commission.
I am not intending any slight on this Commission; but it was inevitable that the agents should take fright at the disclosures by some of the witnesses. At the last there were two agents left. One of these came to me, rushing away from his farm. He had not a penny of money. There was £20 due to him for a reward, and the money was actually coming by post for him, yet he would not wait for it. The other came to me the following night in very much the same state.
Further, the Government, or the Acting Chief Commissioner of Police-I do not know who was responsible-Had actually ordered the camping-out equipments, pack-saddles, tents, compasses, &c., to be collected, with the view of being sent to the depot. I did then what I think every officer of independent mind should do in the same position-that is, when I was denied the means of carrying on the work, with safety to the public and credit to myself, I threw on the head of the department the responsibility of carrying it on with insufficient means. What was the immediate result? The officer who took my place was given a dozen additional constables, and Mr. O'Connor was appointed also to the district, and to take the management of the black trackers. Now I know it has been asserted out of doors, and in this room, that it was through personal fear I left the district. The statement is absolutely untrue.
All this time Const Graham others were reporting the possibilities of further outreaks. The area had by no means been pacified.
I have given an honest and perfectly just explanation of the reason of my desire for the change, and I must say it was the last thing that decided me, that in spite of the full knowledge of the district, the very equipment for camping out were ordered into the depot. I am aware (I believe Mr. Chomley told me) that he did not intend that by the order, but the order reads to me that we were to collect all those equipment and send a catalogue, with a view to their being sent to the depot. (RC16716) See also (Argus7/1/82)
Royal Commission I gave evidence to the Royal Commission. It started on 7/4/1881 (RC1717) and continued on 12/4/1881 (RC1980), 13/4/1881 (RC2452), 14/4/1881 (RC2745), 3/5/1881 (RC3005), 10/5/1881 (RC4691), 16/6/1881 (RC11866), 29/6/1881 (RC12559), 20/9/1881(RC17688)
The Royal Commission made the following finding in relation to me
"6. That the evidence discloses that Superintendent Sadleir was guilty of several errors of judgment while assisting in the pursuit of the KellyGang; that his conduct of operations against the outlaws at Glenrowan was not judicious or calculated to raise the police force in the estimation of the public. That the Commission are further of opinion that the treatment of Senior-Constables Kelly and Johnson, by Superintendent Sadleir, was harsh and unmerited. Your Commissioners therefore recommend that Superintendent Sadleir be placed at the bottom of the list of superintendents." (RC2ndReport) (JJK)
My initial response to the report (Argus22/2/82)
The press reviewed my performance at the Royal Commission (Argus9/11/81)
See summary of my views. (Argus17/12/81)
I commented on the second part of the Royal Commission report (Argus24/1/83)
Early Service My family was an Irish branch of a well established English family. I migrated from Ireland on the SS Great Britain’s maiden voyage
See the details of my career. (RCApp6)
Later I retired in 1896
In 1911 I was living in the Melbourne suburb of Elsternwick (BWC)
It covers his career from his early days as a young officer at the time of the gold rush in the 1850s
I died on 21 September 1919 at Orwell - 235 Kooyong Road, Elsternwick at the age of 86.
wife Isabella Maria née Crofton (27 Oct 1836 – 2 Jul 1903)(Daughter of Rev William Crofton, rector of a Church of Ireland parish in Connaught)
'children Harman James(d1865) , Ernest William Crofton (14 May 1860 – 23 Feb 1937), Frederick Crofton (d1865), Ralph Crofton (d1943), John Cyril Crofton, Melesina Crofton (d1934), Isabella Crofton (d1939), Mary Louisa (d1934), Grace Crofton, Dora Webber (d1952), George Nicholas (d1949) and Henry Woodward (d1954) '
home Orwell - 235 Kooyong Road, Elsternwick ; Children baptised at Holy Trinity East Melbourne
A relative has been kind enough to supply the following information.
The origins of the Sadlier family are almost certainly originally from France and the name was possibly spelt something like 'Saddlyer'. It is reported that they left around the time of William the Conqueror (1066) and were latterly found in the Stratford upon Avon area.
One of the most prominant members of the Sadleir family was Sir Ralph (Rafe) Sadleir’s (1507-1587). He was given the title of Knight Banneret in 1547 after the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, and retired during the reign of Queen Mary I, but after Elizabeth’s accession (1558) he became an agent of William Cecil (later Lord Burghley).
In 1568 he was a member of the tribunal appointed to adjudicate between Mary and her subjects. He was frequently employed to carry message to the captive queen and in 1584 he reluctantly undertook the guardianship of Mary
Sir Ralph. Ralph signed his name as Sadleyr during Henry VIII’s reign according to the custom then of writing ‘y’ instead of ‘i’ when it followed ‘e’. But as printing came into vogue Sir Ralph wrote Sadleir and it is spelt thus on this tomb, and has been so spelt ever since by the only branch still surviving, the Sadleirs of Sopwell County Tipperary.
Sutton House in London, was one of his homes and is now a National Trust property. Ralph was the most powerful man in England after the sovereign, I believe (see "Our Man in Scotland", by Humphrey Drummond, London 1969).
Just about every generation of Sadleir has a John as the eldest son, and it a John Sadleir who was associated with the ballet company Sadleirswells. Oral Sadleir history states that there was one lot of Sadleir's that went to Ireland in the 1700's and then some moved to America in the tobacco push.
There were two related notorious Sadleir brothers - James managed the Tipperary Bank in Ireland and allowed his brother John to embezzle about 400,000 pounds in around 1850’s to purchase encumbered land in Ireland which included forgery. James O'Shea wrote a book about this 'Prince of Swindlers" (1999)
John Sadleir, M.P. 1813-1856. M.P. for Carlow committed suicide at Hampstead-heath on “Essential Oil of bitter almonds” after his embezzlement from the bank was found.
The family also had a link to William Shakespeare and Hamlet