|Side of Authority
This page contains content from police and those who supported authority.
Importance of Det Ward
I was the police detective based mainly at Beechworth. In that role I chased the KellyGang all over the place. I was responsible for breaking them with the services of Aaron Sherritt. No other watch party was more successful. In return I received little praise. The authorities chose to break me over trumped up failings. The Royal Commissioners joined in this terrible game. They came to the conclusion that I should even be reduced in rank and condemned for my good work.
Some critise me for the way I treated the Sherritt's and others of the community. I do not say that the means justifies the end, but the KellyGang' ' had to be brought to justice for the sake of us all.. Links to the KellyGang , Early Years , Fitzpatrick Incident , Murders at Stringy Bark Creek , Sebastopol Cavalcade , Euroa Robbery , Jerilderie Robbery , Aaron Sherritt and Mrs Byrne , Hare replaced by Nicolson , Spring 1879 Early 1880 , Cave party , Police at Aaron Sherritt's place , Death of Aaron Sherritt , Glenrowan Siege , Ned Kelly's Trial , Reward Board , Royal Commission , Early service , Later service , Family , Photograph
Links to the KellyGang
Early Years I joined the police in October 1869 and in November I was sent to the North-Eastern district in search of Harry Power and remained there until November 1875. I was for three years in Beechworth. During that time Ned and Dan Kelly, the Quinns, and all their relations were in the habit of being at the circuit courts; one of their friends was always before the circuit court at the general sessions. (RC3023)
In 1874 and 1875 I knew Ned Kelly very well. I was stationed then in Wangaratta, and had occasion to speak to him very often there. I was then appointed a detective in 1876.
Fitzpatrick Incident 15/04/1878 I was sent after Ned and Dan Kelly following the Fitzpatrick incident in about September. I was at work for about five or six weeks, and the result was reported Mr. Secretan direct who informed Sup Sadleir.(RC1724)
'When about two miles from Winton, on the Greta road, and about four miles from Mrs. Skillian's residence, we found a dray, and two bags of flour and other articles, without a horse, in the middle of the road. We searched round and found Mrs. Skillian and Kate Kelly sitting on a log. They were wet through, having very light clothes on. We went up and spoke to them. They said they were benighted, and could not find their way home-it was too dark. I had a flask with some whisky in it (RC3039)
We continued on to Mrs Kelly's place and watched for the KellyGang.
On the 29/8/1878, I received information in Melbourne. I furnished the report then to Beechworth, and this is a copy of it:- "I have the honor to report, for the information of the officer in charge, I have received information that the above-named offender, Edward Kelly, was seen about three weeks ago between the Woolshed and Sebastopol, in the Ovens district, by a Mr.-, a blacksmith at the Woolshed; he was riding and carried a gun under his arm, and had a revolver strapped on his saddle. Kelly is well known to -. If Kelly was seen there, he would be most likely making for Joe Byrne's mother's place, as she lives at the Sebastopol. I would respectfully suggest this report be forwarded to Mr. Inspector Smith for careful enquiries. Mr. - is a very respectable man, and will give every information to the police, providing it is kept secret. The person who makes the enquiry would do well to call on of the Woolshed before calling on -, as he may be able to give some information on the subject, has a good many cattle running on the common, between the Woolshed and Sebastopol, and if it was known by Byrne or Sherritt that he would give any information relative to Kelly's whereabouts, his cattle would not be safe." (RC3109)
I left Melbourne at 2.30 p.m.n 9/9/1878, I did not go as a detective officer to be known to the world; I went secretly-privately. I had a horse; I sometimes walked and sometimes rode, as I best could disguise myself. I only had a small pocket Webley revolver. I thought the KellyGang would fight, but I never had the remotest idea they would shoot. I knew Ned Kelly would fight. I had a fight with him once before. I would not leave Melbourne with a small revolver if I thought they would shoot. I knew Ned Kelly would fight.
I was one individual, having nobody with me. I travelled the whole district without any person to assist me. No matter where information was received from, I went myself. For instance, I was once in a false position near where the police were shot, in which I would not like to be again, and I alone could not arrest the four. (RC3064)
I had a secret service man with me, as well as myself (RC3113)
If I found any information my instructions were to immediately communicate with my officer, Mr. Secretan, in town. This was up to the time of the Mansfield Murders. But if I at any time found any information that I could immediately work upon with the aid of the nearest police station, I was to go and get the police, and make an arrest if possible.(RC3058) As I said I started off on the 9th from Benalla and went to Glenrowan-Glenrowan to Oxley, and made search then until about the 15th of October, when I received information that Dan Kelly was on the Fifteen-mile Creek, working with a man there. (RC3111)
On that day I wrote a letter to Mr. Secretan, the officer in charge of detectives, suggesting to him that two bodies of police should be sent out to search the Fifteen-mile Creek, the right-hand branch of the King, and thence on to Mansfield. I suggested that two bodies of police should both start at the same time, that I would go to Mansfield, and that the secret service man I had, would go to the head of the King; that if my information was correct the Kellys would be started from their haunts, and we were bound to get them. I specially wished this done, as the public were talking that the police were frightened to catch Ned Kelly.(RC3120) .
On the 21st-of October, I received a letter from Mr. Secretan, stating that the Chief Commissioner had sanctioned the suggestion, and that Mr. Sadleir was instructed, and that a body of police would start about a certain time. Instead of my going to Mansfield, as suggested to me by Mr. Secretan, I went to the head of the King myself. (RC3126)
My object in going to the head of the King was to be present at about Power's Look-out, as I was of opinion, if my information was correct, that these men, the Kellys, would make for that place. On the 26th October I went and got up on the top of Power's Look-out; from that I went along the Dividing Range in the direction of, and along the Fifteen mile Creek, about ten miles from Glenmore, and there was no person with me; I was expecting to meet the police, and I was undecided which side of the ranges I would take to return back, whether the right hand branch of the King or the back of the Fifteen-mile Creek. I turned to the right, into the Fifteenmile Creek, and went back near Glenmore. I met Senior-Constable Strahan, Constable Shoebridge, Constable Thom, and another, I do not remember his name now. I asked them had they any good news- did they see or hear anything of the KellyGang.(RC3133)
See also the Jerilderie Letter
Near Moylen (BWC)
I returned on the same evening, got on the top of Power's Look-out, expecting every moment to see Kennedy. On Tuesday the 29th, when I found he did not come to Glenmore, I left to go to Moyhu, to get my letters. Miss Lewis gave me a note from SConst Strahan that told me about the murders (RC3144)
When I got to Mr. Isard's, I met Consts Arthur and Thom. They gave me further particulars of the murders of the police. On the following morning, the 30th, I arrived in Wangaratta. I there saw Ass Com Nicolson, and made arrangements to return back to Mount Blowhard to interview some people. I remained there for two or three days. I was hemmed in by the floods; I got up, but could not return owing to the floods. (RC 3148)
On the morning of the 4th I arrived in Oxley and on 5/11/1878 I returned to Wangaratta from Wodonga. I found that four horsemen had crossed the Pioneer Bridge, on the Ovens River, going in the direction of the Warby Ranges. I proceeded on my journey to Oxley, Everton and the Upper King and met a possible agent. (RC13840)
After the murders the KellyGang came and lived closer to the home and were looked after by the Kelly girls. The police decided that the best strategy to use was to cut off the ability of the Kelly sister Maggie and Kate and other to feed the KellyGang. Of course the KellyGang could not understand what we were on about and they turned the story around in things like the Cameron Letter:
'they used to repeatedly rush into the house revolver in hand upset milk dishes, empty the flour out on the ground, break tins of eggs, and throw the meat out of the cask on to the floor, and dirty and destroy all the provisions, which can be proved and shove the girls in front of them into the rooms like dogs and abuse and insult them. Detective Ward and Constable Hayes took out their revolvers and threatened to shoot the girls and children, while Mrs Skillion was absent, the oldest being with her, the greatest murderers and ruffians would not be guilty of such an action.
I also saw that the only way to get close to the KellyGang was to buy information from agents. I wrote to Com Standish about this. See text of my letter (CHC)
. Sebastopol Cavalcade 7/11/1878 I was not there (RC7999)
On 15/11/1878 a report came in from Mr Turnbull's, of the Springs, that on 12-13/11/1878 four horsemen were seen, believed to be the Kellys. I proceeded there and made enquiries, and found it to be false. (RC13840)
I was in Benalla on 17/11/78 (Argus18/11/78)
On 10/12/1878 I left Beechworth in the morning by train for Wangaratta, from there to Benalla, and at ten o'clock on that night I received information that the Euroa bank was stuck up. (Argus12/12/78) (Argus12/12/78) (RC13843)
In January or February 1879 I was in the hospital, suffering from an injury I received at the telegraph office. Aaron Sherritt came to me and told me that he was speaking to two of the outlaws, and that they wanted him to go to New South Wales with them. He said if I came with him that we would be able to get them before they crossed the river. I said I was ill, my ribs were fractured and my knee bad, and could not ride, but I would send two good men with him-Detectives Brown and Eason. (RC13847)
Jerilderie Robbery 10/2/1879 I found out that Kelly came to Mrs Byrne's place to see what had happened to the other members of the KellyGang On Wednesday 12/2/1879. It seems that they had split up after Jerilderie and some of them had missed a meeting. I arranged for Aaron Sherritt to meet Hare in Beechworth at about 7pm on the night of 15/2/1879 to tell him what had happened. Mr Hare was keen to follow up. A search party was to go out under Const Strahan but they never arrived. Sup Hare was very concerned at the time. We saw a fire lit by the KellyGang on a far ridge. Arron Sherritt was with us. Sup Hare gives a rather colorful account of creeping around Mrs Byrne's home during the night of 16/2/1879 in his book.(RC1276) (RC13848)
Autum 1879 Party with Aaron Sherritt at Mrs Byrne's
Mrs Byrne spotted some fish tins and other signs of the police search party and for some reason she got the idea that Aaron Sherritt may have been involved with the police. She then terminated the relationship between Aaron and her daughter Catherine. This then led to Aaron stealing a horses back from the Byrne's and that resulted in Mrs Byrne laying an information against Aaron. Aaron eventually got off the charge. He was grateful to me for my help.
In about June 1879 I received information that the [[../../things/K_kellys/K_KellyGang.html|KellyGang]] were at Bullocky Gully, or at the head of Ryan's Creek. About five or six miles from Stringy Bark Creek where the the police were murdered. Constables Mooney, Hayes, Whitty, SConst Strahan and I proceeded to there, and made search for three days. we did not find anything.(RC3042)
I returned to Melbourne, and on the 9th of September, from information I had received, I was instructed to return to the Kelly country by Mr Secretan, the head of the detective service.(RC3046)
Wallace did not like me (RC14570)
James Wallace told the Royal Commission that Aaron Sherritt a National bank note from the Euroa robbery. Wallace changed one of them for Aaron in my presence at Wertheim's in Beechworth. Apparently Wallace did all he could to indicate that it came from the KellyGang so that I would react. In his evidence he said "No doubt if Ward did his duty he would report that at once to Mr. Nicolson, being the officer in charge, and that would corroborate my statement that I had seen the notes in Aaron Sherritt's possession."- It was a rather petty attempt to implicate me. (RC14630)
Apparently Jack Barry told James Wallace that, 'if he was Joe Byrne, he would ride into Beechworth and shoot me at the first opportunity.' The story was that I had seduced Byrne's sister Kate. Wallace made his report without any positive proof. This is the type of slander thay I had to cope with from these people. (RC14669)
On about 7/11/1879 Jack Sherritt came and inormed me that he had an appointment to meet Joe Byrne at Sandy Creek. I had not sufficient knowledge myself as an individual to follow up on this report, as I would not dare to dictate to an officer of standing like Mr. Nicolson. I merely reported this matter. (RC15598) (RC15613)
On 13/11/1879 Ass Com Nicolson refused Baumgarten's applications for more land on advice from Insp Brooke Smith and myself.
The Royal Commission spent a significant part of its report examining Nicolson and my meeting with Jack Sherritt after his encounter with Dan Kelly on 13/11/1879. I wrote the circumstances of the interview at the time in my memorandum book and some days afterwards wrote a long letter to the Chief Commissioner (RC 2nd Report XII)
Second Cave Party 12/1879-4/1880
In December 1879 Nicolson decided to arrange a party of police to hide in a cave near Mrs Byrnes home to watch for the arrival of the KellyGang. At the end of the cave party I got the Sherritts to tidy up things (RC13206) See also (RC5240)
I arranged the supplies for the police in the cave with Mr Allen. He would take them out in his cart in the evening and deliver them to Mrs Sherritt's. I would get the police to write to me for the provisions when they required them. (RC5584)
On 2/4/1880 I said to Ass Com Nicolson, The men that have been engaged on that cave party have had very severe duty to perform. When you were up the other day you said that when it would be over you would make a favorable entry. (RC13857)(RC14116)
The men never said this until the party was broken up. What was the use of my having men there if they knew this, and did not come and tell me until the row commences between the non-commissioned officer and two men? Those constables themselves will tell you that it was SConst Mullane that did all, and not me; the crossness, and the animus he always displayed towards them.(RC14138) (RC14153)
All my good work on this project was not accepted by authorities. The Royal Commission was particularly harsh. They said, "There is reason to believe that, during the existence of the cave, the outlaws frequently visited the Woolshed, and that being so it must be inferred either that the gang were in possession of the secret and carefully avoided Mrs. Byrne's house, or they visited the place, as has been asserted, unseen by the police, who were supposed to be on the watch. The testimony of the constables bears out the supposition that the men's presence in the cave was known for a considerable time before they were removed, and the conduct of Detective Ward favors the conclusion that he deliberately deceived Mr. Nicolson upon that point, by the manipulation of the reports sent in by several of the constables."(RC 2nd Report XII) See also (RC1618)
On 25/5/1880 Joe Byrne came and saw Mrs Sherritt and threatened to shoot Aaron and me. She was very frightened and she came into Beechworth to see me. I arranged for her to see Ass Com Nicolson (RC67 RC13184)
. Nicolson replaced by Hare 2/6/1880 Sup Hare telegraphed me at Beechworth on the night of the 2/6/1880 and directed me to proceed to Benalla on the following morning. I did so. I met Mr. Hare, and we walked along the road in the direction of Violet Town. We had some conversation there, and it is there he said, "It will take me two or three days to read the papers over."'He said, "I intend having a party of police in Benalla, and to give you two black trackers, that you will be able to act with at any time, immediately you receive information. I will have two in Benalla, and two in Wangaratta. You could go at any time you pleased when you get information, but telegraph to me what direction you are going"(RC3076) (RC13860) (RC15723)
I had certain men at Beechworth, but they were employed in a certain position, and their instructions were very clear as to what they were to do if the Kellys came in their way: they were to wait for no officer; they had written instructions to shoot or capture in the best way they could, but not to lose a chance. It was my duty to communicate with the officer, as being head of the working of the Kelly business in that part of the district.(RC3089) (RC3056)
Police at Aaron Sherritt's place
I returned to Beechworth after speeking to Sup Hare in Benalla on 3/6/1880, and on that afternoon three men were sent down to Aaron Sherritt's hut to watch. Mr. Hare asked me where could they stay. I said, "In Aaron's hut," where we could get a place to put them in the day-time. I said they could stay in Aaron's place in the day-time, that I would see it secure, and leave at night, go down to Mrs. Byrne's and watch all night. He said, "That is all right for the present, but I will be up myself." (RC13860) (RC12127)
My instructions to Const Armstrong were to go to this hut, to secrete themselves there in the room during the day, and between eight and nine o'clock at night to go down to Mrs. Byrne's house, and there watch till a little before daylight in the morning; to be back in the hut before daylight, and to keep themselves quiet during the day. I bought calico for the door and blinds for the window, in order to have them not seen. (RC14160)
. Death of Aaron Sherritt 26/6/1880 I gave Aaron the suit of clothes he was shot in, coat, and pants, and everything else was mine. (RC15740)
Of course I was the whole night in the office and until one the next day, and Sup Hare sent a telegram; he said, "Ward, all is right - we have them safe; muster all hands and take them to Glenrowan." (RC13862)
I got some things from Ned Kelly (OMA24/7/1880)
Ned Kelly's Trial I had a conversation with Ned Kelly during his committal (Argus7/8/80)
Kelly Reward Board
The Royal Commission made the following finding about me
"8. That, in the opinion of the Commission, Detective Ward, while he rendered active and efficient service during the pursuit of the gang, was guilty of misleading his superior officers upon several occasions, more especially in connection with Mr. Nicolson's cave party, Mr. Hare's hut party, and the telegram forwarded to Senior-Constable Mullane by Mr. Nicolson when the latter was superseded on the 2nd of June 1880. The Commission therefore recommend that Detective Ward be censured and reduced one grade."(RC2nd Report) (JJK)
Early Service During the period of the KellyGang I worked on lots of other cases Later By 1911 I was a partner in a prosperous private detective agency in Melbourne. (BWC)
wife ... children .... home ..
What happened to Det Ward's family KellyGang