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Side of Authority
This page contains content from police and those who supported authority.

Importance of SConst Johnston (764)

Stationed at Benalla Links to the KellyGang below, Early Years , Fitzpatrick Incident , Murders at Stringy Bark Creek , Warby Ranges , Euroa Robbery , Jerrilderie Robbery , Autum 1879 , Hare replaced by Nicolson , Spring 1879 Early 1880 , Death of Aaron Sherritt , Glenrowan Siege , Ned Kelly's Trial , Reward Board , Royal Commission, Early service , Later service , Family ,

Links to the KellyGang

Murders at Stringy Bark Creek in the Wombat Rangers 26/10/1878 . On the 28/10/878 I received a telegram from SConst Maud, clerk in Mr. Sadleir's office, to proceed to Benalla at once, re the KellyGang. (RC7136)

Photograph Warby Ranges search party 6/11/1878 After the KellyGang fled to the Murray River they made their way back, and early on the morning of 3/11/1878 they passed under the railway bridge in Wangaratta.

In response we sent out 2 search parties on 6/11/1878 under Det Kennedy and Insp Brook Smith. I went out with Brook Smith towards Yarrawonga. We spent the night there and went to Lake Rowan and passed the Ryan home on 8/11/1881.(Argus7/11/78) (RC12361) (RC17283)

Const Fitzpatrick was with me. (RC12959)

There, in the stockyards I saw recent traces of a number of horses. Some of the horses were shod and some unshod. I told Mr. Brook Smith that there had been some horses in the yard. I do not remember what answer he made, but he had gone on in front with some of the other men. About a quarter of a mile from the stockyard I picked up the tracks again of five horses. I coo-ee-d on Mr. Smith and brought him back, and pointed out to him that I believed those were the outlaws; and he concurred with me that it was so.

There were three of them riding singly, and there was evidently a pack-horse beside one of the others. The ground was very soft, and on the flat country it was very easy tracking them. We traced the [[../../things/K_kellys/K_KellyGang.html|KellyGang]] on to the Warby Ranges, somewhere about, I should say, about 25 miles. Const Dixon and I did the tracking.(RC12360)

I do not believe they were more than 48 hours in advance, that is at the time and from the appearance of the tracks, and from certain hairs that were on the fence, showing that they had taken the brush fence-white hairs, where the horses had scratched themselves crossing the fence. We knew there was one of the police horses had white legs, and there were some white hairs on this brush fence. Insp Brook Smith ordered us back to Wangaratta because we had no provisions. We returned about 9pm to our base at Kitts Hotel.(RC12374)

The next morning. 9/11/1878, I got the policemen, including Const Cameron, and trackers ready at 4 am and went to wake Brook Smith. He finally got up at 7 am, but it took a long time to get him going. I remained at Bryan's Orangery until one o'clock waiting for Insp Brook Smith. Then I suggested to the men the advisability of going on and picking up the tracks and fighting the KellyGang . They all agreed with me. (RC12395) We searched about for about an hour, and different tracks were about where the horses had been grazing. We picked up the pack-horse that the had taken from the police at Stringy Bark Creek. My intention was to put him in the paddock, and leave him there until I sent one of the men in for provisions to Wangaratta, but just on dusk we met Insp Brook Smith. He ordered us back to Wangaratta with the pack horse. When we arrived there I was ordered by Ass Com Nicolson to hide the pack horse at the police station which we did. I then met him with Insp Brook Smith about 10pm. (RC12401) (RC17327)

I got up at 3.45am on 10/11/1878 and made sure that the horses were fed and the men ready and breakfasted. We had revolvers and a few repeating rifles. Const Cameron one. We did not leave Wangaratta until after 9am even though I tried to wake Brook Smith a number of times. AssCom Nicolson also got Const Broderick to wake him (RC12426)

We eventually got going but Brook Smith met up with us before we got to Brien's orangery. He then dragged us back to the place were he had tracked to which was about 10 miles further back. The men were not happy. Thanks to Brook Smith we tacked along the same 10 miles in the place where we found the pack horse four times. (RC12449 RC12456)

After that we followed the track for about 15 or 20 miles on Taminick station before dark. We stayed there overnight. The following day we picked up some tracks again, and ran the KellGang in the direction of Glenrowan. From the enquires we made madewe found that on the previous Friday (8/11/78) night that three men had been seen near the railway station when the train came in.(RC12461)

On 12/11/1878 Insp Brooke Smith, Ass Com Nicolson, Sgt Steele, Sup Sadleir and search parties including me met up and followed the tracks. We went then north-almost directly north-the tracks were going for some few miles, and the tracks led into some thick scrub. The trackers were very slow, and did not appear to like to go into the scrub at all, the two trackers we had. I wanted to go on but Insp Brook Smith wanted to return to Wangaratta. (RC12476) See also (RC14075)

I was dissatisfied with what happened and the following day, 13/11/1878, applied and left for Benalla with three other men. (RC12498) See also (RC417)

Euroa Robbery 10/12/1878 I was at the police depot in Benalla on the night of the robbery when Nicolson and Sadlier went off to Albury (RC38)

I was a member of the search party from Benalla. (RC5964)

We searched from the road between Mansfield and Longwood towards Strathbogie. (RC533) (RC551)

Later I led a search party hunting the KellyGang with Barry. (RC7774.7295 )

I was appointed a SConst with a pay raise of sixpence a day. (RC1257)

I was sent out to arrest a sympathizer (Argus12/3/79)

Whorouhly Race meeting 3/1879 I attended the race meeting at Whoroughly with other police in an attempt to try and catch the KellyGang. I did not know that area. I was got up as a bookmaker. Mr Hare just rode around the place in a buggy(RC1362) See also (RC5312)(FH)

I had been stationed at Violet Town (Argus8/7/80)

Glenrowan Siege 28/6/1880

I had been up all night. (RC7214)

Arrival at Glenrowan

I arrived at Glenrowan at about 11.30 am (RC7133)

I saw Sup Sadleir at the platform when I arrived. He said to me , "Johnston, you will have to keep quiet and not irritate the men." I suppose I had a bit of a reputation. (RC7171)

Shortly after I got on the ground, I was taken in and shown Ned Kelly's armour. (RC7294)

I think there were about three shots fired from the Inn at about a quarter to twelve, and about one o'clock there were two fired. (RC7142)

I had proposed to Sup Sadleir to rush the Inn. I was told there were others. Consts Armstrong and Dwyer also requested it. (RC7142)

At about two o'clock I saw one of the KellyGang come to the back door of the Inn. Const Wilson and I were on the north end of the hotel. We had a view of the back door, and one of them came to the back door. (RC7150)

Setting Fire to Jones's Inn

I intended that by setting fire to the Inn we would drive the KellyGang out. I knew that there were only 2 of them in the Inn. I discussed the matter with Sup Sadleir and Insp O'Connor. I saw Sup Sadleir at the northern end, and he told me he would go and make arrangements to have a party to fire into the building while I would go up and set fire to it. I had straw and kerosene and set the fire on the Benalla side so that the wind would blow the fire towards the Inn. (RC7160) See also (Age29/6/80) (Argus29/6/80) (Argus8/7/80) (Argus10/8/80) (RC7224) (RC7235) (RC7271)

The police were all round the building, at some distance off, when I went up to set fire.

They were closing on the building as the priest went up. The priest went in at the front door and came out at the back, having gone right through the passage. The police at this time were closing on the building. (RC7180)

I knocked away part of the wall into the room where Steve Hart and Dan Kelly's bodies were after we rescued Martin Cherry. (RC7242)

I saw the positions of the bodies and took out the charred stumps of Dan Kelly and Steve Hart's bodies (RC7246)

I told the newspaper people; 'I set fire to the the Glenrowan Inn in an attempt to get Dan Kelly and Steve Hart to surrender. This was at about 3pm. We later learned that they were already dead. I put a bundle straw that I had soaked with kerosene up against the Inn. After it had all been consumed there was a time when we thought that building would not burn. But, not very many minutes elapsed before smoke was seen coming out of the roof, and flames were discerned through the front window on the western side. A light westerly wind was blowing at the time and this carried the flames from the straw underneath the wall and into the house, and as the building was lined with calico, the fire spread rapidly. When the house was seen to be fairly on fire, Father Gibney, who had previously started for it but had been stopped by the police, walked up to the front door and entered it...'(Argus 29/6/80) (RC2864)

Sadlier reported on my work at the siege in his report to the Commissioner (Argus20/7/80) (Argus7/1/82)

Kelly Reward Board

Following the meetings of the Reward Board in December 1880 I recieved a reward of about £97 and I was recommened for a special reward

Royal Commission I gave evidence to the Royal Commission on 13/5/1881 (RC7129) and 28/6/1881 (RC12354)

What did the press say about my evidence (Argus16/5/81) (Argus30/6/81)

The Royal Commission found that the treatment of me by Sup Sadleir, was harsh and unmerited. And that the entries made by Sup Sadleir in my record sheets should be cancelled. The Commission also recommend me for favorable consideration of the Government for promotion. (RC2ndReport) (JJK) See also (Argus3/3/82)

Early Service I joined the police in about 1863 (RC7131)

I had been stationed at Tatura, in the Goulburn Valley. (RC7137)

Later Service I remained at Violet Town until May 1881

Why was I not promoted as recommended by the Royal Commission (Argus11/10/83) (Argus23/7/84)


wife ?... children ?.... home ?..

What happened to SConst Johnston's family KellyGang