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Royal Commission report day 41 page 13

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The Royal Commission evidence for 2/8/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 41)

Mr James Wallace giving evidence

14467 Did you ever hear of the history of the watch?— What do you mean by the history?

14468 Do you know whether the watch was a presentation watch?— Aaron said there was an inscription on the watch—stains on the watch—and wished to know from me what would remove those stains.

14469 Did he tell you what the inscription was?— No.

14470 Did you ever hear of what it was?— No.

14471 Did you hear what the inscription was that would lead you to remember if it was a presentation watch?— Subsequently I did. I think, in speaking to Mr. Nicolson , he said it was a presentation watch with an inscription on it.

14472 Sherritt asked you if you knew anything that would take off the inscription?— He used the word “stains.” I understood him to mean inscription by that. Sherritt was guarded and cunning.

14473 Did you give him any information about that?— None. I advised him to hand over the watch to the police for the sake of the widow.

14474 Did he give any other information then?— Since he frequently stayed for hours and talked for hours, he must have done so.

14475 I want you to confine yourself to that one interview?— I cannot do that.

14476 That must have been the most interesting you ever had?— Not by any means.

14477 I cannot help thinking during the public excitement you would attach greater interest to that one than any other. Does your memory lead you to narrate to the Commission any other subject-matter of interest which Sherritt talked of at that time?— He told me he was then in the employ of the police. I might simplify matters considerably by saying that when I was young I used to dabble in mesmerism. Aaron Sherritt, being, of course, a schoolfellow, was often with me in those experiments, and he was a “subject” of mine. Naturally he had a great deal of confidence in me, and I had an influence over him, and he would frequently come there, and if I wanted to get any information out of him I could do so.

14478 Did you mesmerize him then?— No; I did on former occasions. His confidence in me was the result of that in former years.

14479 He did not narrate anything of importance about the outlaws on that occasion beyond what you have said?— Only just that they proposed sticking up other banks; but really I had so many interviews I could not fix upon that particular interview.

14480 You are not mistaken when you say on that occasion he said the outlaws intended sticking up other banks?— Yes, that information was conveyed in my confidential letters to Mr. Nicolson .

14481 Having got that information, what action did you take?— At that time I believe I was in communication with Mr. Nicolson .

14482 You cannot fix the date of this interview?— I cannot possibly; it is two years ago.

14483 How many days after this interview did you interview the police and give the information that was of so interesting a character?— That would appear from my letters, which you have in your possession.

14484 The information you conveyed was in writing?— Most probably.

14485 Was it, or was it not?— I cannot say. I frequently had interviews with Mr. Nicolson , and frequently wrote letters to him.

14486 Did you, after this interview, have any personal communication with any officer of the police or any agent of police before you committed yourself to writing and gave the information which is contained in your letters?— The only officer I had any direct or indirect communication with was Mr. Nicolson.

14487 Was it before you committed yourself to paper about this interview of Sherritt's?— I believe I had an interview with him then. I had so many, I could not possibly specify without referring to the letters.

14488 You used to write under an alias?— Half-a-dozen; that was the arrangement with Mr. Nicolson , and he wrote to me under the alias.

14489 When you got information you generally wrote to Mr. Nicolson ?— Yes.

14490 These letters before us will explain everything?— Yes; and as to asking me about certain interviews with Aaron Sherritt , it is impossible for me to fix anything with distinctness.

14491 I want to know what action you immediately took on obtaining this valuable information?— It was communicated, no doubt, by letter, but I cannot say possibly because there was so much of a similar kind sent. I cannot fix the date; it is a tax on my memory it cannot stand. ....

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