Royal Commission report day 37 page 9

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The Royal Commission evidence for 20/7/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 37)

Mrs. Sherritt, senior, sworn and examined

13154 By the Commission— Where do you live?— On the Sheep Station Creek.

13155 That is near the same place where your son lived?— Yes, about a mile from my son’s selection.

13156 Do you remember anything connected with the Kellys about the time they came to your son's hut?— After they were out?

13157 Yes?— Well, the first thing I heard of them was, I think it was on a Monday, they fired off eight shots on the top of the hill close to my son's selection.

13158 How long was that before they shot him?— That was at the beginning of the outlaws. I did not keep any exact date.

13159 Did you hear why they fired those shots?— I did not till some time after, and then I heard that it was that if my son was about it would draw his attention, thinking he would go to see who was firing, but he did not go at that time.

13160 Can you form any idea how long that was before he was shot–six or twelve months?— It was when they first turned out.

13161 They had nothing against him at that time?— Oh no, they were friendly with him then, I believe.

13162 Did you ever hear what caused them to be unfriendly with him?— Well, what I heard was that Mrs. Byrne, the outlaw's mother, discovered that he was assisting the police, by some means or other.

13163 Did you hear what time it was she discovered it?— I believe it was some time–I could not exactly say, but not very long before she suspected him, after he began assisting the police.

13164 Do you know when he first began to assist the police?— I do not know myself when he did.

13165 Do you remember them threatening they would shoot him or anything of that sort?— Yes, they threatened to shoot him after he quarrelled with Mrs. Byrne, but not after he made a present of a horse to Miss Byrne, and then she exchanged this horse for another, and the one she got in exchange for that one my son took it and sold it, and then Mrs. Byrne took out a warrant for him and the police were striving to arrest him on this warrant, and they did so, and he stood his trial in Beechworth and was acquitted.

13166 How long was that before he was shot?— Eight or nine months perhaps, because when the warrant was out for him Ned Kelly came to my place, and I was not in the house the same afternoon as he came, and there was only two children in, and he said that he had a mob of cattle at the back of the hill, and that he wanted to get Aaron, as Aaron was a good bushman, to show him the way by the head of the King. So on that occasion when he came that afternoon he took the baby, a child of four or five months, in his arms, and he said he was hungry. And there was some bread in the oven baking, and there was some dough in the dish, and he took some of the dough up, and he flattened it on the table and pulled out the fire with his foot and cooked two or three pieces. He was alone, I think it must have been Dan.

13167 This is what the children told you?— Yes.

13168 How old were the children?— Fifteen. And then he made some tea, and he said he was sending this tea up to his men that he had on the hill; and he had a flask of brandy in his pocket, and all the time he was inside he kept the baby in his arms, and he filled out a tumbler of brandy and put it on the cupboard, and told the children to give that to Aaron, and that a gentleman was there who wanted him to assist him with some cattle, and he would be back in a fortnight or three weeks. Aaron had not been taken up at that time. He said he believed there was a warrant out for Aaron , and the best thing he could do was to come along with them; that he was accustomed to cattle and had been in the bush a long time, and would be of use to them.

13169 That was a friendly act you think at that time?— I do.

13170 Why did he keep the child in his arms?— I do not know. He nursed the baby, and made one of the little girls put the kettle on and make the tea.

13171 Did you see or hear anything of them shortly before the time Aaron was shot?— Yes.

13172 How long before?— Well, it might be a month or not quite so long.

13173 Before I come to that question, I want to ask you was there any intimacy between him and Miss Byrne at the time he made her the present of a horse?— Yes, he was an admirer of hers, I understood.

13174 Did you ever hear whether he had proposed marriage to her?— I believe Mrs. Byrne fully expected he would marry her daughter, but I do not know whether my son had made that offer.

13175 Do you think the quarrel with him originated in his having left off addressing Miss Byrne ?— I could not tell you that, I think it was on account of him assisting Detective Ward. She had a great dislike to Ward , and how she found out that was with a schoolmate of my son's named Wallace ; the State school teacher Wallace told her....

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