The Complete Inner History of the KellyGang and their Pursuers (45)
Supt Nicolson loudly proclaimed his great faith in the spies he employed, and, on the other hand, the spies proclaimed their great faith in Mr Nicolson’s ability to capture the outlaws.
From the spies’ stories of the starving bushrangers it would appear a wise policy that Mr Nicolson should remain at the Benalla police barracks, so as to be on hand when the outlaws would come in to give themselves up. They were a happy family—Mr Nicolson and his spies.
Pat Quinn joined in the crowd of spies. He was not on friendly terms with the Kellys, and would willingly give them away if he could. He was not related to the Kellys, but his wife was Mrs Kelly’s sister.
The friends and sympathisers of the Kellys kept Mr Pat Quinn well supplied with mythical movements of the outlaws, and Quinn lost no time in communicating these mythical movements to the police officials. On one occasion he was told in the deepest and most intense confidence that the Kellys were at the head of the King River, where they were to rest for a few days. Quinn rushed to the Benalla police barracks, where he met Supt Nicolson, who had just returned after a long wildgoose chase. Mr Nicolson did not have any confidence in Quinn, and made a legitimate excuse that his men and horses were worn out, and were unable to undertake a 70-mile ride without a rest. Paddy was somewhat annoyed at his failure to arouse Mr Nicolson’s enthusiasm. Actually at the time that his news was given to Mr Nicolson the Kellys were introducing themselves to the foreman and his wife at Younghusband’s Faithful Creek station, near Euroa. This was the end of Quinn as a police spy.
On still another occasion Quinn was anxious to “discover” reliable traces of the outlaws. While his wife was away of home he took some of the contents out of a bag of flour he had recently brought home, and putting it into a sugar bag took it over to a spot near his front slip rails. He dumped the sugar bag of flour on the ground and let his horses around the bag several times. Some of the flour sifted out of the sugar bag, and left a clear evidence that a quantity of flour had been placed there. The tracks of horses about this spot indicated that the outlaws had been there and received provisions from Mrs Quinn during her husband’s absence. He then planted the sugar bag of flour in a shed. When Mrs Quinn came home he was angry. He accused his wife of giving flour and other provisions to the Kellys. She denied the charge, whereupon her husband took her over the spot where the flour had sifted out of the bag, and called her attention to the tracks made by the horses. After hearing her denials, Paddy ordered her to go to the house and see if any flour was gone. She went, and to her astonishment a quantity of flour was missing.
“They must have been here while we were away!” she said. Quinn rode with all speed to report this positive evidence of the outlaws’ visit, and when the police party arrived and saw the evidence they too were convinced that the outlaws had been there. This incident somewhat revived official confidence in Quinn as a genuine friend of “law and order.”
A schoolmaster named Wallace offered his spying services to the police. He was, he said, in close touch with the outlaws and held their complete confidence. His services were readily accepted. He undertook to get hold of Joe Byrne’s diary, under the pretence of licking it into printable shape. He was in reality not in close touch with the Kellys at all, but he was in financial difficulties, and drew large, and regular sums from the police department. He wrote very voluminous reports, which contained no news of any value. He drew £180 in about seven months.
Eventually the police officials woke up, and came to the conclusion that this pedagogue was either a financial expert or a faithful worker for the outlaws.
In his reports he disclosed his disapproval of the character of some of the police officials stationed at Beechworth. On November 26, 1879, he wrote to Supt Nicolson as follows:—“Met .… Junior and P .… I had a long and interesting conversation with the worthies, who manifested much pleasure in meeting me. I wondered at the marked change in Jack’s manners towards me, as, on two or three previous occasions, he carefully avoided me. I soon ascertained the reason. It appears by their account that the virtuous detective who is standing the season at Beechworth had stated a day or two previously that my name had been added to the black list at the office; that he believed that ‘bloody’ W. . . . was in constant communication with the outlaws.” (RC14673)
In giving evidence before the Royal Commission, the following statements were made by the schoolmaster on oath:—
Question (by Commission)—What did you mean by “The virtuous detective” who is “standing the season” at Beechworth?—That is exactly what I meant. He had the reputation of acting immorally, “putting it in a mild form.”(RC14676)
Question (by Detective Ward)—Do you know anything personally about it?—I know no one in the North-Eastern district who bore a more unenviable character for immorality, than you yourself.
Question (by Ward)—Can you give any instances?—Tampering with the pupil teachers (the girls) in the State School. (RC14798)
Question (by Commission)—Was there any stir made about that at the time?—I believe so. I believe Captain Standish made an inquiry into the matter, but it was hushed up.
Question (by Commission)—Did you hear anything of the result of that inquiry?—I did not.
Question (by Ward)—Any other person?—I have heard you are the father of several illegitimate children.
Question (by Ward)—Will you give me just one if you can?—It is currently reported in the North-Eastern district that you were the father of the illegitimate child of Miss ——, of ——.
The character of some of the police and police spies had a good deal to do with deciding a very large section of the community to become Kelly sympathisers. The moral character of the four outlaws was admired by the respectable section of the community. Even the police had so much confidence in their chivalry that when two or three of the police were under the bed after the shooting of Aaron Sherritt they pulled Mrs Sherritt under the bed with them, saying, “The Kellys won’t fire when they know that there are women here.”
What a striking contrast to the action of the police at Glenrowan, where the police shot down innocent men, women and children!
This document gives you the text of this book about the KellyGang. The text has been retyped from a copy of the original. We have taken care to reproduce this document but areas of the original text may been damaged. We also apologise for any typographical errors. JJ Kenneally was one of the first authors to tell this story from the KellyGang's point of view
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