Royal Commission report day 45 page 9

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The Royal Commission evidence for 10/8/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 45)

[[../../people/peD_G/gravesMLA.html|The Honorable J. H. Graves, M.L.A.,]] further examined

15488 The Witness— I wish to remark first that it was not my intention to appear at all as a witness as being a member of the Commission, and my late brother Commissioners will recognize the fact that I did not express any opinion, and though no longer a member of the Commission, I should not have attended now except as being summoned to present the document already handed in. [Inserted above] On receipt of that letter I endeavored to get satisfactory information as to the statements made in it, and f did that simply in my representative capacity of member for the district, because at the time many of the statements were unknown to the public. I have been for a considerable time connected with that district. In 1864 I was a magistrate of New South Wales and a station owner on the Murray in New South Wales adjoining this very district, at the place called Terremia, adjoining a place then called Mulwalla, now called Yarrawonga. It is the junction of the Ovens River with the Murray . At that time that district was in a very great state of excitement in consequence of Morgan being then at large, and the adjoining stations to mine had been all stuck up. I was asked to take the Commission of the Peace for Victoria in 1865, and I accepted it as a territorial magistrate for Victoria , and from that time to the present I have been intimately connected as a magistrate with that district as I am now. My station was on the Murray opposite Peechelba where Morgan was afterwards captured and shot; and this position on the river was the one where the men connected with horse and cattle stealing generally crossed over, near Mulwalla, because it was the only fordable part of the Murray River, and in the summer months they could almost cross that part of the river dry-footed. I remained there for some years, and left about the year 1870 going away for two or three years, and about 1872 I returned and resided at Tatong station, being the manager of that station, comprising the Emu and Springs. The Emu station was the one of those under my charge. The boundary fence of that station adjoined the Kellys ' residence, and therefore I became thoroughly acquainted with the members of their family and the men connected with them by marriage—the Lloyds and others—they all adjoined me. At that time Ned Kelly was in gaol, and I think his uncle, one of the Quins, also about that time.

15489 Convicted for an offence?— I think Quin was in gaol; remember, I am not now professing to be accurate as to dates, but I think it was about 1870, one was in for assaulting a man with a bullock yoke, and I think for striking Constable Hall; at any rate they were weekly at the court at Beechworth, or the court I used to attend at Benalla. There was a brother-in-law of the Kellys also in gaol of the name of Eman Gunn , who lived near the Tatong Station where I resided. At that time Constable Flood was stationed at Greta ; Scanlan, the murdered constable, was stationed at Mansfield , and Kennedy was stationed at Doon . By reference to the map you will see that these positions I have indicated nearly control the passes of the Strathbogie Ranges . Constable Flood or Scanlan or Kennedy was almost daily there; certainly a week never passed by that they were not on the station and through the back country, and they had a thorough knowledge of it. The police almost had at that time the whole families of the Lloyds , Kellys , and Quins completely under observation. And without a thorough knowledge of those people and their personal appearance, and a thorough knowledge of the country, I do not care how efficient a constable may be, he is utterly useless in dealing with them. For one thing, the country is so rough, ie is impossible for any inexperienced man to find his way about.

15490 Those policemen must have had long knowledge of it?— Yes, they were perfectly accustomed to the country, were thoroughly capable, and had full knowledge of the men. Constable Flood was removed for some reason, I do not exactly know what. It was some complaints that were made; the magistrates of the district appealed to Captain Standish through me, not to remove him, on the grounds that as long as he was there, the Kellys and their companions were under complete control, and that he spared himself neither night nor day to keep them under that supervision. Captain Standish at the same time also was presented with a petition on behalf of the residents of the shire, I think, of Oxley (you can refer to this document, I am speaking now from memory) asking him not to remove Constable Flood. He was removed from that time; he went, I think, from Greta to Oxley.

15491 Pardon me, you said an appeal was made to Captain Standish—did that appeal bear any fruit at all?— No.

15492 Was any reason given for its not bearing fruit?— I saw Captain Standish on behalf of the magistrates of the district, but he removed Constable Flood, and from that time up to the present date, in my humble opinion, the Kellys and their friends and their connections got ahead.....

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