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Importance of Jesse Dowsett

I was a railway employee and police volunteer at the siege at Glenrowan

Links to the KellyGang below, Early Years , Glenrowan Siege , Reward Board , Royal Commission , Later service , Family ,

Links to the KellyGang

' I had been out with every police special before this, looking after the Kellys-in charge of every one; and it was on the Sunday that the station master sent and asked for me to come over and see him.

He told me I would have to run a special to Beechworth; and I said, "What time do we start"; and he said, "I cannot tell, but do not go far away." And then the arrangements were altered. (RC10985) Photograph Glenrowan Siege 28/6/1880 Special train leaves Benalla to go to Beechworth - follow up on death of Aaron Sherritt

I was to have taken the first special up- it was arranged on Sunday, but there was some alteration made waiting for the special from Melbourne, and I was told to go home, and they would call me. They did not come to call me, but, about close on five o'clock, a chap that works on the coal stage came and knocked at the place where I was living, and told me that the Kellys were fighting at Glenrowan, and Mr. Hare had come back wounded, so I jumped up and shoved on my clothes and ran over, and was just in time to go on the engine as it went away. (RC10902)

I travelled up on the engine with Driver Colman and his fireman. (RC10977)

Arrival of Sup Sadleir and the police from Benalla

I arrived at Glenrowan by train at about 5 am on the morning of the siege with Sup Sadlier. (RC10900). I had a Colt breech loading revolver. (RC10917)

Capture of Ned Kelly

I thought Ned Kelly was the devil when I saw him for the first time just before we captured him.

The following are highlights of the report which gave to the press:

'I left Benalla at five o'clock on Monday morning by the special train, which was sent for to convey more police to the fight. On arrival at Glenrowan I found that the fight was going on, and the police and gang were still firing. I was armed with a Colt's breech loading revolver, and I rushed up to within 30 yards of the house. I heard Mrs Reardon crying in front of the house, and I called to her softly to come to the police. ...

'When it was daylight I all at once saw a strange figure at our back, about 150 yards away. I said, 'My God, what is that!' ...

'When he was in that position I called to Senior constable Kelly, 'Can't you hit him now?' Senior constable Kelly fired, and I said, 'You have hit the tree beside him.' Senior constable Kelly then fired again. The only portion of Ned Kelly them exposed was his hand. ...

'When he was within 12 or 15 yards of me I fired five or six charges straight at him. I heard the bullets scud off him, and he still continued walking. I then cried out to the others, 'That man must be the devil' When I said so he struck his helmet with the butt of his revolver, causing it to ring, and at the same time he said, 'You __ dogs , you can't shoot me.' ....

'Steele seized him by the wrist, Kelly caught him by the head, and I laid hold of the revolver. The reporters then came up, and Senior constable Kelly removed the helmet. When he did so he remarked, 'By God, it is Ned Kelly.' Steele put his hand on his head and said, 'I have got you: I said I would be in at your death.' Kelly's armour was then taken off, and he was removed to the railway station.'(Age 1/7/80) (Argus29/6/1880)

See my account starting at (RC10909) See also (RC10043) (RC10346) (RC13994) (RC14018) (FH)

After Ned Kelly was captured I weighed his armour on the railway platform scales (RC10946)

I left Glenrowan about nine o'clock. In fact, I came away with Mrs. O'Connor and her sister, and brought the telegram. (RC10950) I needed to leave Glenrowan with my family (Age1/7/80)

I was mentioned favorably in Sadleir's report on the Siege. (Argus20/7/80)

But see my statement (Age1/7/80)(Argus1/7/80)

See also the Royal Commission's comment on my role (RC2nd reportXV.)

Kelly Reward Board

Following the meetings of the Reward Board in December 1880 I recommended to recieve a reward of about £175 and I was also recommened for a special reward

Royal Commission

I gave evidence to the Royal Commission on 8/6/1881 (RC10898)

What did the press have to say about my evidence (Argus9/6/81)

Earlier Career

Later Career

To protect me I was taken from Northeasten Victoria and given charge of the Queenscliff train (Herald5/7/1880)

I died in 1931 aged 86.



Jesse married Sarah Slack in 1869 and had 7 children. William, Francis, Nellie, Minnie, George, Jesse and Lucy. '

The Dowsetts were from Essex in the England. My father was a William Dowsett, a millwright from Essex who immigrated to Australia in 1853. William was already married in the England to Margaret Donovan and had 5 children.

I was the oldest born in 1845 then David, Mary, William and Joseph.

Margaret came out to Australia on a ship called the Sussex with the five children including me.

My sister Priscilla, the sixth child was the first born in Australia.

What happened to Jesse Dowsett's family