Royal Commission report day 51 page 1

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The Royal Commission evidence for 8/9/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 51)

[[../../people/peN_P/nicolsonPAC.html|Ass Com Charles Hope Nicolson]] giving evidence


The Hon. F. LONGMORE , M.L.A., in the Chair;

J. Gibb , Esq. , M.L.A., W. Anderson , Esq., M.L.A.,

G. R. Fincham , Esq. , M.L.A., E. J. Dixon , Esq. , J.P.

The Witness . –Before resuming cross-examination, may I be allowed to read a short record of my services, as was done in the case of others?

17128 By the Commission. –Is it in addition to what has been put in already. What is that- [referring to a paper]?— A list of my services and promotions.

17129 That information is already before us?— Then I will read only one part of it:- “After the Ballarat riots, the Government, considering it advisable to replace the officials there by strangers for the police force, the late Arthur Kirke was selected as inspector in charge of that district, and I as sub inspector. Great disorder then prevailed at Ballarat, the criminal and convict classes having been drawn there in great numbers. The Chief Commissioner of Police, Captain MacMahon, replaced, as quickly as possible, the most of the foot police there with a superior class of men, principally from the Irish Constabulary, and in a short time the police gained the confidence of the public at Ballarat by earnest and energetic efforts to protect life and property and to suppress crime.” This is a letter addressed to me by Mr Kirke- [reading the same]:—“Ballarat, 9th June 1855 . Sir,-As I am about to leave Ballarat to take charge of the police district of Castlemaine, I have much pleasure in acknowledging the valuable assistance I have received from you in the discharge of the police duties whilst I have been in charge of this district. Qualified as I consider you to be for the position which you occupy, I cannot speak too highly of the zeal and vigilance which you have always devoted to the performance of your duties, nor can I over look your successful capture of the bushranger at Bullarook and the numerous other instances of your having brought to justice criminals charged with offences of the most serious nature. In this I trust you will still continue to be successful, and that eventually you may gain those honors to which you will be so deservedly entitled by such a course. I again thank you for your assistance, and beg to assure you that I shall always be happy to hear of your welfare, and, so far as I am able, to promote it. I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient servant, ARTHUR KlRKE , Inspector of Police. To Charles H. Nicolson, Esq., Sub-inspector of Police, Ballarat.” There is an instance of the duty we had to perform there which I wish to relate. An order came up from the Government to carry out that obnoxious law, the license law, which still existed, and which we had to put in force. Mr. Templeton , who was then a Commissioner of the Goldfields, was selected to perform the disagreeable duty there, and you may know how they were carried out in other districts, and with what result; but in Ballarat Mr. Templeton was chosen as warden, and I was chosen as police officer. I selected fifteen or twenty men, and the men were paraded without arms-I think, without even batons. I dressed myself, avoiding any appearance of fighting, putting on clean gloves, and carrying a light switch. When we came to the Red Hills, where the diggers were in thousands, we turned in amongst them, and sat down in their midst. They were expecting a number of men with bayonets fixed. They came around us, and Mr. Templeton and myself sat down with the men crowding round us, and Mr. Templeton addressed them in a few words, saying we had this duty to carry out, and shore was no intention to annoy or oppress them in any way; if any man had not his license, he knew what the law was—it must be obeyed. He expressed himself so appropriately that they all agreed with him, though many, perhaps, had come to kick up a row. The police were then told to go about the duty. They found several men without licenses. Mr. Templeton or I told them merely to take one constable, go up with those men, and tell them to get their friends to bail them out. They went up, and their friends bailed them out, and there was no inconvenience. They were back at their work in a few minutes, and this process was carried on till we had 30 or 40 prisoners; and next day they were before the court in the usual way, and went through all the forms of the law, and the law was carried out; and that was the last collecting of license fees at Ballarat.

17130 At that time, is it not a fact that the officer in charge of the Ballarat district was requested, by the Government, to adopt milder means than before?— Probably he was; but I know it was a matter of anxiety at the time as to what should be done. There is one remark more I have to make-that is, with reference to my duties. A remark made by Mr. Graves, as to the duties of the Inspecting Superintendent, that I was responsible for the arming of men. I draw attention to the 38th clause in the Police Regulations, which says- “When inspecting a district or station, it will be more particularly his duty to see that the officers and men are properly dressed, and that their general appearance and demeanor are such as they should be, that their arms are kept in good and serviceable order, and that the men are supplied with a suitable supply of ammunition.” That is what I always did. It would be inferred, from what Mr. Graves said, that I had to do with the supply of arms to the men. I had nothing to do with that whatever. I have merely to see what they have are kept in good order.

17131 If they were insufficiently supplied, or inefficiently armed, was it not within your power to report?— Certainly.

17132 And to recommend a fresh supply?— I did so. I had a revolver the men were carrying when I went there first reported as inefficient—old Colt's revolvers converted into breech-loaders; and on that report they were changed to Webley revolvers.....

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