I was one of six children born to Charles Fitzpatirck. My mother's name hand been Jane Neilson. I was born in 1856 in Victoria.
I had been a boundary rider before I joined the police. I joined them after being recommended by Mr CA Smyth. (RC182). I was about 21 when I joined in April 1877 at the police depot at Richmond. In August I got posted to Benalla under Sgt Whelan . He rode me rather hard and got me to work on the Greta Mob. I became friends with Ned Kelly. Some said this was part of a plan to get in close to Ned so that Whelan could take him down a peg or two.
Anyway Ned came to Benalla on 17/9/1877 and he started drinking. Some say that I drugged Ned. After he had drinking for a while I saw that he was drunk on his feet. He then hopped on his horse and rode it over the foot path. I then arrested him for beinging drunk and disorderly and for riding on the foot path and took him down to the police station and we put him in the cells for the night.
In the morning Sgt Whelan joined by Constables Lonigan, and Day and escorted Ned Kelly to the court house from the police station cells. He suggested that he should not be handcuffed for this trip which he did not appreciate. He broke free and headed for King's boot makers shop. In the course of the attempted arrest in the shop I endeavoured to catch Ned Kelly by the foot, and in the struggle I tore the sole and heel off Ned Kelly's boot. Ned Kelly hit me and sent him sprawling against the wall. To stop Ned Kelly the other police had disable him. Eventually Constable Lonigan got the better of him.
The court fined Ned Kelly 1 shilling or 4 hours imprisonment for being drunk and 2 pounds or 1 month for assaulting police and an additional 2 pounds or 1 month for resisting arrest. He also had to pay me 5 shillings for damage to my clothing.
Ned Kelly mentioned this incident in his Cameron Letter, he said:
'...I could not be more sorry for them, with the exception of Lonigan I did not begrudge him what bit of lead he got as he was the beastliest meanest man that I had any account against for him. I could not be more sorry for them, with the exception of Lonigan I did not begrudge him what bit of lead he got as he was the beastliest meanest man that I had any account against for him. Fitzpatrick, Sergeant Whelan, Constable Day and King, the Bootmaker, once tried to hand-cuff me at Benalla and when they could not Fitzpatrick tried to choke me, Lonigan caught me by the privates and would have killed me but was not able. Mr McInnes came up and I allowed him to put the hand-cuffs on when the police were bested.'
See also the Jerilderie Letter
He gave another version to the press (Age9/8/1880)
I am mentioned by the KellyGang in the Cameron letter as being a member of a search party with Sgt Steele and Const Strahan to the Kelly home for Ned Kelly and a man called Newman who had escaped from the police at Wangaratta.
see also (Argus5/7/80)
Commissioner Standish gave a good description as to what happened to me in his opening remarks to the Royal Commission. He described this incident as a significant part of the reason for the KellyGang outbreak (RC 1) See also. (Argus17/4/78) (Argus22/4/78) (Argus10/8/80) (FH) (CHC) (BWC) (BWC) (BWC) (BWC) but see [JJK)
I had been at Cashel to look after a race meeting. I was late coming back to the Benalla police barracks. When I eventually returned Sgt Whelan sent him to Greta while Const Strahan was on leave for a few days. (RC5944) (RC5945)
Perhaps Whelan had authorised me to try and arrest Dan Kelly, perhaps it was a last attempt to get back in my superior officers good books.
I noticed in the police gazette that there was a warrant issued by the Chiltern bench for the arrest of Dan Kelly and John Lloyd. (RC12812)
I had a few drinks on the way including at Lindsay's shanty at Winton and I was quite happy by the time I got to Mrs Kellys home. I spent about an hour talking to Kate and Mrs Kelly before Dan finally arrived.
Dan said that he was agreeable to being arrested but he wanted some dinner first. About this time Ned Kelly came in and shot me in the wrist. I cut the bullet out with a penknife and Mrs Kelly bandaged my hand.
At about 10pm I arrived back at Lindsay's shanty and there I had my wrist rebandaged. Lindsay brought me back to Benalla. I arrived home about 2am. The KellyGang set out Ned Kelly's side of these events in the Cameron letter. (see RC12821) (RC12841)
I saw Sgt Whelan when I got back to Benalla. Dr Nicholson was good enough to come over and he bandaged my wrist properly. I told Whelan what happened (RC5948)
Later in the morning of 16 April 1878 warrants were issued for the arrest of Ned Kelly, Dan Kelly, Mrs Kelly, Skillion and Brickey Williamson for the attempted murder of me. The Kelly boys shot through and were not prepared to face court.
Mrs Kelly, Skillion and Williamson were committed in Benalla
(see my evidence at first remand hearing(Argus22/5/78))
Their trial was held in Beechworth before Judge Barry on October 1878. They were found guilty and sent to goal.
Soon after this I was moved to Melbourne for my own safety, that is what I was told
Ned Kelly is the man who in the Cameron letter accused me of selling my sister to a chinaman. People who make claims like that deserve to be shot like dogs. That is about the worst insult I have ever heard. Listen to what he had to say and make your own mind up:
'I have been told by Police that he is hardly ever sober, also between him and his father they sold his sister to a chinaman, but he seems a strapping and genteel looking young man and more fit to be a starcher to Laundry than a trooper, but to a keen observer, he has the wrong appearance to have anything like a clear conscience or a manly heart. The deceit is too plain to be seen in the White Cabbage hearted looking face,..'
I was not stationed in the North-Eastern district at the time. I had been just transferred from there to Melbourne, to the Richmond Depot for my own safety after a time at Benalla and Beechworth. (RC12805)
I asked Sup Hare to be good enough to allow me to proceed to the North-Eastern district as I knew the Kellys. After a few days he agreed. (RC12945)
I went out on search parties with Sgt Steele and Insp Brook Smith. I think there must have been about twenty-five. (RC12955)
On 29/10/1878 Sgt Steele took a search party of police out after the KellyGang including Const Faulkiner and me out from Wangaratta up to the head of the King River to the head of Glenmore run and down to Mansfield on 3/11/1878. There were eight or ten of us. We camped out on two different nights at Dedongadale, near the Broken River the continuation of the Buffalo River-a branch off that river.
It was a day and a half journey for the men and horses, and necessitated pack horses, and the men had their rifles and revolvers and ammunition. The horses would never have been able to follow the KellyGang if they had come across them after riding the long journeys. If there could have been a temporary station at Glenmore, where the police could have camped, and kept provision there for the men, they could have scoured that country far better than went they did. (RC12966)
I was stationed at Schnapper Point on the upper Murray (RC183)
In April 1880 I was dishonourably discharged from the police force. SConst Mayes produced a report stating that I was not fit to be in the police force, as I had associated with the lowest persons in Lancefield, and could not be trusted out of sight, and never did my duty. He was stationed at Lancefield at the time.
I never had the slightest opportunity at all to set out my side of the story. I applied for a board of enquiry, and the Chief Secretary (Mr. Ramsay) declined, as he had left all power with Captain Standish. Notwithstanding that, there were two petitions got up on my behalf by the residents of Lancefield and Romsey, asking that I might be reinstated.
I had pleaded guilty to charges of misconduct during my three years in the police. Once I was charged with laughing.(RC12891)
I had not the slightest opportunity of defending myself when the Chief Commissioner sent a communication, and I was instructed by SConst Mayes to proceed to Melbourne from there. The late Sergeant Porter had my voucher made out to be stationed at Romsey, temporary duty for a ten days. That night a telegram was sent to the police depot, stating I was to be discharged from the police force the next day. I asked Captain Standish to tell me the reason why, and he just explained that he had received this communication from Mayes; and I understood from Captain Standish that was the sole reason I was discharged from the police force.
I think, as against that, those 200 petitioners ought to go further than Mayes. It is hard my character should be blackened. I might have erred in small things.
There are many constables in the force who have done more serious things than I did, and have remained in the force and got promotion.(RC12924)
I was six months thrown out of employment after I was thrown out of the police force, and I had my mother, and wife and child to support, besides myself. It was very hard. I had not a chance to defend myself against any charge. (RC12914)
I had a job as a timekeeper and clerk for Mr. Robb. (RC12801)
In 1881 I was working with Mr. Falconer, a railway contractor. (RC12914)
I gave evidence before the Royal Commission on 6/7/1881, (RC12801)
See what the press had to say about my evidence (Argus7/7/81)
The Royal Commission made the following comment about my action in its report:
" This constable appears to have borne a very indifferent character in the force, from which he was ultimately discharged. Mr. Fosberry, the Inspector-General of Police, New South Wales, and Captain Standish express in strong terms their adverse opinions of Fitzpatrick, while the present Acting Commissioner of Police, Mr. Chomley, writes a valedictory memo. on his papers, describing him as a liar and larrikin.
To this man was entrusted, in April 1878, the temporary charge of Greta, the very focus of crime in the district. He had been stationed at Benalla, and prior to starting for Greta he appears to have had an interview with Sergeant Whelan, the sub-officer in charge, relative to his duties. Whelan, in his evidence, is somewhat contradictory upon the point as to whether Fitzpatrick was justified in attempting to arrest Dan Kelly under the circumstances. In almost the one breath he states that the constable was wrong in going to the Kellys' but, and then urges that it was his duty to act as he did.
The arrest was attempted to he made in consequence of a Gazette notice to the effect that a warrant had been issued at Chiltern against Dan Kelly and Jack Lloyd, on a charge of suspected cattle stealing. ... Fitzpatrick's efforts to fulfil what he may have considered his duty proved disastrous. He was entrapped by accepting the invitation to accompany Dan Kelly into the hut, where he was attacked by several members of the family, and shot in the wrist by Ned Kelly.
Warrants were in due course issued against Fitzpatrick's assailants; and those arrested, including Mrs. Kelly and a relative named Williamson, were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment for the offence of assault with intent to kill. The alleged severity of the punishment inflicted upon the mother of the outlaws has been the subject of comment in the course of the inquiry, and Captain Standish considers that it formed one of the many causes which assisted to bring about the Kelly outrages. One point in this matter should not be overlooked. Jack Lloyd, who was implicated in the alleged case of horse stealing for which Fitzpatrick sought to arrest Dan Kelly, was subsequently taken into custody, and, the charge having been investigated, he was discharged. There can be little doubt that Constable Fitzpatrick's conduct, however justified by the rules of the service, was unfortunate in its results." (RC2nd reportIII)
I was charged (Argus28/8/83)
I gave some thoughts to Mr Cookson (BWC)