Royal Commission report day 48 page 2

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The Royal Commission evidence for 1/9/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 48)

Sup Francis Augustus Hare further examined

16317 By the Commission— The Commission is now ready to hear anything you have to say in reply?— I wish to commence my statement with drawing the attention of the Commission to the report that I sent in on the 2nd July 1880 to Captain Standish. In that I have made two statements which I wish to comment upon, and wish to draw the attention of the Commission to. Upon my report, Mr. Nicolson urges in his report of the 24th July that a Board should be appointed in consequence of, "the recent publication of a report from Superintendent Hare, dated the 2nd instant, containing serious charges against me, compels me to bring the said application again under notice.” Now, in his evidence that he gave before the Commission here, he made no mention of those charges; and when asked by the Commission whether he had any explanation to make, his reply was, “ I would rather wait until Mr. Hare gives his evidence.” That is at questions 995-6 The statement in my report, that he gave me no verbal information, I still contend is correct, when I took charge from him on the 2nd of June. My evidence on page 79, with the entry that I made on that day, bears me out in this. Also Mr. Sadleir's evidence (question 2526), where he says a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes was devoted by Mr. Nicolson to giving me information. I must leave it for the Commission to say whether I could take over the accounts of several agents, and receive information, and all that has been said here in a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes. Regarding what took place during the eleven months I was absent from the district. He most distinctly said nothing to me about the armour, and Mr. Sadleir told you in his evidence that he was the only one that believed that armour was made; nor yet about the mould-boards being stolen of which the armour was made; nor yet about Jack Sherritt giving the important information that has been discussed here; and many other things that have been stated to the Commission, which I need not enumerate. He said nothing to me about taking Aaron Sherritt from Everton to lead the way to Sebastopol , and that he had been seen by Chandler , who is a great sympathiser of the Kellys and the chief agent of Joe Byrne , nor did he say to me that the Kellys were completely under his control, as he states in his evidence. Mr. Nicolson in his evidence (question 767) says he used to meet his agents and enter information in his note book. How was I or Mr. Sadleir to know that information, and the contents of that book? I merely had all the papers which have been laid before the Commission to wade through, and hundreds of telegrams, besides information I never heard of until I came before this Commission. With regard to the second paragraph in my report, in reference to Mr. Nicolson handing over charge to me—[reading the same, printed above]—I wish to say that had I not sent for Ward the next morning, the Sherritt family would have been discharged, because they were all in our pay—that is to say, with the exception of Jack—the old people and Aaron Sherritt were. The strength of the Beechworth district was still further reduced by Armstrong being sent away, and the cave party was to be withdrawn with the men who were in Aaron Sherritt 's hut. Senior-Constable Mullane in his evidence (page 495) says he was ordered “To withdraw the watch party that was in the house”. I may state that the watch party had been withdrawn from the house the morning, or the morning before, I got this telegram. It was withdrawn by order, I was informed, of Mr. Nicolson ; that he told Sherritt to go back to the hut and tell the men to come back.” Now, I would point out to the Commission that in the case of the commander of an army being relieved by another officer, if he, after having handed over everything to his successor, was to give orders six hours afterwards to remove some of the outposts, and make several important changes, what would be said of him? I put myself in that position. There is another thing I wish to draw the attention of the Commission to. It is that it has been all along said here that I was only at Glenrowan five, ten, fifteen, or twenty minutes on the morning of the 28th June. But the facts are these:—That I left Benalla at two o'clock on the morning of the 28th, and I returned within five minutes of five o'clock —I will say ten minutes. I allow thirty minutes for going to Glenrowan and ten for returning—I must have been two hours at Glenrowan. There can be no gainsaying that fact. My telegram to Captain Standish is dated ten minutes past five. I walked straight to the Telegraph office, and that could not have taken more than fifteen minutes going there. Where could I have been the rest of the time unless at Glenrowan? The witnesses all give different versions of the affair. Some go as far as to say I was only five minutes on the ground, and you must remember I had no opportunity of cross-examining the majority of the witnesses that gave evidence on that subject before the Commission. My report that I have referred to of the 2nd July, on the capture of the Kellys , was dictated by myself, without the slightest assistance of any one, and was entirely from my recollection of the affair. I was very ill at the time it was written, and it was only four days after I was shot. Mr. O'Connor implied that some one assisted me in it, and no doubt he meant Captain Standish ; and I state most positively that Captain Standish never saw it or had anything to do with it till I sent it to him officially. My reason for sending that so soon was because I saw no end of false reports daily appearing in the papers from different persons, and I was anxious that the Government should be furnished with the official report. I must leave the Commission to say whether my report was not a fair and faithful account of what took place on that morning. I do not think there is a line in that that has not been corroborated by those men who went with me. Some went further than I did, in stating the orders I gave them on that morning. There is one fact I wish to impress strongly on the Commission: that after I was shot I did not move one foot from the position I had taken up, but kept firing as fast as I could in the direction of those firing at me, and until I saw the outlaws retreat into the hotel. Then I called upon my men to disperse. I remember distinctly standing in front of the hotel by myself, and then returning to the station to try and stop the bleeding. When my hand was tied up I hastened back to my men, notwithstanding that I was pressed by those on the platform not to return, as I felt my place was with my men. I accordingly left; and after remaining behind the tree which I have described to the Commission, I was compelled to leave the field or bleed to death. Had I been able to return from Benalla after my wound was dressed I should have done so, but the Commission heard the state I was in then. I would point out that Ned Kelly was seriously wounded in the first engagement by a bullet in the foot and through the upper arm and lower arm—and with 95lbs. weight of iron, it was impossible for him to escape, besides being shot in the thumb. I put in now a declaration made by the attendant of Ned Kelly in the Melbourne gaol. I have not seen this man, but it was sent the day before yesterday by the Government medical officer at my request:—“I, Henry George Weston, of Melbourne, in the colony of Victoria, now a confinee in Her Majesty's Gaol, Melbourne, do solemnly and sincerely declare that Edward Kelly was received into the gaol hospital on the afternoon of the 29th June 1880. I was present when he was admitted, and attended on him subsequently, acting under instructions of Dr. Shields , the medical officer of the gaol, until his ( Kelly 's) removal to Beechworth on the 31st July 1880 . I had several conversations with Kelly during this period, while dressing his wounds and attending on him as aforesaid, in the course of some of which he told me (inter alia) that he was one of the first wounded in the fight with the police at Glenrowan, while he was on the verandah of the hotel. That, as soon as he heard the train stop, he knew there had been foul play, meaning (as he explained) that the police had received information that the gang were at Glenrowan, and he and his mates then prepared for resistance. He distinctly told me that he recognized Superintendent Hare, and took deliberate aim at him, and when Kelly was told that Superintendent Hare was severely wounded in the wrist he seemed much pleased, and described to me the position the Superintendent was in (according to Kelly's idea) when he received his wound, viz., a ‘firing’ position, and made use of words similar to the following:— ‘The meant to have shot me or my mates; I wish the bullet had struck him two inches lower.’ On my asking him why he deserted his mates, he replied (in words similar to the following):—‘I had plenty of mates in the neighborhood ready to join us, but I couldn't mount my horse, the flap of my armour broke, and my arm was useless.’ The wound in his arm, he said, was received in the first volley of the police while he was on the verandah at Jones's hotel, and the wound in the thumb, received early in the fight, prevented him from using his gun, as he could not ‘cock’ it. In reply to a question as to why Byrne and his other mates did not come out of the hotel and join him, he said (in words similar to the following):— ‘Ah, if they could have, there would have been a different tale to tell,’ meaning that Byrne and the others, or one, or some of them, were wounded. Kelly told me when he returned to the hotel and signalled to his mates, by rapping on his armour, that Byrne crawled on his hands and knees as far as the kitchen at the back of the hotel, with the object of joining him, but that he (Byrne) must have fainted from loss of blood or the weight of his armour. When I told Kelly that his mates had died a horrible death by burning, he replied (in words similar to the following)— ‘No fear; if they were alive I am sure they ‘finished’ one another when they found the game was up, as we had all sworn to shoot each other, if surrounded at any time, shurrer than surrender to the police.’ And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true, and by virtue of the provisions of an Act of Parliament of Victoria rendering persons making a false declaration punishable for wilful and corrupt perjury. HENRY GEORGE WESTON.—Declared before me at Melbourne Gaol, in the colony aforesaid, this twenty-ninth day of August, in the Year of Our Lord One thousand eight hundred and eighty-one.—A. Shields, J.P.” The Commission will see by that that Byrne, or some of them, were wounded in the first engagement, which prevented them from leaving the house; also, all my party that have been examined before the Commission have said that they received no orders after I left the ground, and throughout the day they were carrying out the instructions that I gave before I left. I now put in a declaration made by Mr. Ramsay . I asked some time ago that he might be called as a witness before the Commission, but he has not been called. He is the only witness I have asked for since the proceedings commenced. He has not been called, consequently I am obliged to put this in.—[The same was handed in and read, a, follows:—] “1, Robert Ramsay, of Melbourne, in the colony of Victoria, gentleman, do solemnly and sincerely declare that the printed minutes of evidence annexed, and marked with the letter A, contains a true report of the evidence given by me on the 8th day March 1881 before the ‘Kelly Reward Board.’ And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true, and by virtue of the provisions of an Act of the Parliament of Victoria, rendering persons making a false declaration punishable for wilful and corrupt perjury.—Robert Ramsay. Declared before me, at Melbourne , in the colony aforesaid, this 31st day of August, in the year of Our Lord One thousand eight hundred and eighty-one.—Charles Ryan, J.P.”....

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