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Recollections of a Victorian Police Officer Chapter I page 1

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Recollections of a Victorian Police Officer by Sup John Sadleir

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In the later 'Forties' affairs in Ireland , the early home of the writer, set young men thinking seriously of their future prospects. The losses during the famine years, 1847 onwards, had greatly reduced many a comfortable income, and left but scanty provision for younger sons. It is no wonder then that the startling news of the rich gold discoveries in Australia attracted the interest of my younger brother (Nicholas, well known later in pastoral life in Victoria and New South Wales) and myself, both still in our ‘teens.’ We were of a bucolic turn, and it was not so much the gold discoveries that fixed our thoughts on Australia , as a letter from a relative who had settled there some years earlier, and had taken to a pastoral life. The writer reported that his flocks of sheep were so numerous - he estimated them at over one hundred thousand - that his difficulty was to find men to shear and tend them. In his old home this man had been regarded somewhat as a degenerate; and with a conceit natural to our years we considered that where he had done so well, we might hope to do still better.

Any break-up in a large and united family is always a serious matter, and we brothers decided to make our preparations quite secretly, and began to hide away our boots, clothing, bits of saddlery, guns, ammunition, &c. Our plans, of course, were soon discovered. Explanations followed, and to our great joy parental approval came instead of the rebuke that we feared. Then followed the further discovery that several other young friends were taken with the same impulse to swarm off from the old hives.

At the time of which I write, early in 1852, the worst and most distressing effects of famine had passed away. The poor were no longer dying from hunger; typhus fever and other diseases resulting from insufficient and unwholesome food no longer prevailed; public and private aid had helped largely - the latter more largely than has generally been acknowledged - towards the improved condition of the people. From my own home some score of people were daily supplied with food prepared for them; and similar provision was made by other families amongst our acquaintance. Some idea may be formed of the value and extent of such private help from the following example which came to my knowledge a few years later.

The rector of a parish in Connaught where there were many poor, the Rev William Crofton spent not only all his own available money in feeding the needy, but also some thousands of pounds collected from friends on every side. Neighbouring clergymen and others were also busy in the same good work. Of the part taken by Mr Crofton I can speak with some knowledge, for I found in one of his daughters the loved partner of my life.

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