History News Reports The Railway

Death of Jesse Dowsett

Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954), Thursday 4 June 1931, page 33


Mr Jesse Dowsett, who was a guard in the special train which took police to Glenrowan when Ned Kelly was captured in June, 1880, died at his home in Dandenong, early today, aged 88. Mr. Dowsett assisted in the capture of Ned Kelly, and was one of the very few participants in the affair commended by the Royal Commission which sat subsequently.

The train was on its way to Beechworth, where Aaron Sherritt had just been shot dead by Joe Bryne. The Kellys, anticipating the rush of police to Beechworth, went to Glenrowan, held up the town, and with the aid of their prisoners tore up the rails from a section of the line near the Glenrowan station. They then waited for the train to be wrecked, when they planned to shoot the police who escaped death in the disaster.

The train would have been wrecked had not Mr. Curnow, a schoolmaster, persuaded Ned Kelly to let him go home. Using a red shawl and a lantern he warned the pilot engine which preceded the train. Engine and train pulled up at Glenrowan station, and the police began their siege of the Glenrowan Hotel, in which the Kellys and their prisoners were located.


When Ned Kelly, a ghostly figure in his armor and long coat, appeared through the mist next morning and was shot down, Mr. Dowsett rushed with others to overpower him and was instrumental in preventing the outlaw’s maltreatment by some of the police.

Of the 8000 reward offered by the government for the capture of the Kellys, Mr. Dowsett received 175/15 as his share.

Mr Dowsett was an Englishman and came to Australia 75 years ago. He was engaged in dairying in the Ararat district before entering the railway service, from which he retired about 26 years ago.


A strong and healthy old man, he recently recalled clearly details of the eventful day in 1880. His death followed a short illness. The burial will take place in the Dandenong Cemetery tomorrow afternoon. The funeral arrangements are in the hands of Mr W. J. Garnar, of Dandenong.

Dandenong Journal (Vic. : 1927 – 1954), Thursday 11 June 1931, page 4


A name familiar to many, who are now growing into the autumn of their experience, is that of Guard Jesse Dowsett, who recently went to visit his daughter, Mrs. Foy, on the Berwick road, near Dandenong. His, name is closely associated with those early experiences of the Kelly Gang, and he it was who accompanied the train, as guard, and took a prominent part in that which afterwards was spoken of as the Siege of Glenrowan, when Ned Kelly was taken wounded, and other members of the gang were destroyed in that hotel fire which became started with the view of causing a surrender of those men who were sheltering there with men, women and children, who by compulsion had gathered there before the police arrived. We regret to record the fact that Mr. Dowsett died late in the night of Wednesday, 3rd inst. He was laid to rest in the Dandenong cemetery on Friday, when the spiritual service was offered by the Rev. Francis Morton, of St. James’ Church, who had been closely in attendance upon him for several days. The mortuary arrangements were carried out by Mr. Garnar. It was from the residence of his son-in-law the funeral had taken place, and there were many present who had known him well and had ever esteemed him highly. Of the pall bearers were: Messrs. W. Glaspole, W. Pengilly, W. Horwood, O. F. A. Todt, G. and K. Foy, E. B, McTaggart, J. Hehir, R. Cooper and A. Dowsett.

By AJFPhelan56

Father, writer, artist and bushranging historian residing in Melbourne, Australia. Author of 'Glenrowan' and the popular website A Guide to Australian Bushranging.

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