First Hand Accounts History The Police

Constable Bracken’s Statement (3 July 1880)

A short statement by Constable Bracken recounting his involvement in the bail up at Glenrowan.

Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic. : 1869 – 1954), Saturday 3 July 1880, page 19


Hugh Bracken, police-constable No. 2,228, stationed at Glenrowan, said : I have been long acquainted with this district, but I have only been on duty here for about a month or so. At 11 o’clock on Sunday night. Edward Reynolds, my next door neighbour, called out “Bracken, Bracken, you’re wanted,” but knowing his voice and thinking that it was nothing particular, I took no notice of him. Then another voice, which was strange to me, abruptly called to me to come out, and wondering what was the matter, I got up and opened the door. As I did so, a tall man, whose face was hidden behind what seemed to be a nail can turned upside down, stepped into the doorway, and, pointing a revolver at my head, said, “I’m Ned Kelly ; put up your hands.” I said, ” You be——, you are only someone from Benalla, sent here to try my pluck.” He said, “Throw up your hands ; ” and thinking he was only joking, I put up one hand. He appeared to lose his temper, and putting the pistol close to my face, said, “Throw up both hands ; we will have no nonsense.” I threw up both my hands, and he pushed me into the house, and followed me in. He took up my rifle and revolver, and asked for the cartridges, but I said that I had not the key of the chest. He then took me out into the stable, and asked me if I had a good horse. When I went outside with Ned Kelly I saw Joe Byrne and Reynolds standing outside, and on going into the stable they made me saddle and mount my troop horse. Byrne took the reins and led the animal, and Ned Kelly rode behind, with Reynolds walking at his side. Ned Kelly told me that if I tried to get away he would shoot me, and we went off to Jones’s Glenrowan Inn, where I found about twenty or twenty-five people hustled together in the bar and sitting room. They did not appear as if placed under constraint, but were at liberty to go into any of the rooms. Steve Hart was at Stanistreet’s, the stationmaster’s, but the other members of the gang loitered about, with their revolvers and rifles un-slung, as if ready for use. When I went in, I noticed them lock the front door, and place the key on the end of the bar counter, near the wall, and when they were not noticing, I quietly picked it up and waited my opportunity. When the train was coming the gang went into one of the back rooms, as if to hold a consultation, and I put the key in the door, unnoticed by the crowd, and ran away, jumping the railway fence, and arriving on the station platform just as Superintendent Hare and party were getting under arms. I told them briefly how matters stood, and they charged for the house, while I took one of the horses that had just been saddled, and rode as fast as I could to Wangaratta for reinforcements. I warned the party of the line having been broken up, and accompanied them back to the scene, and joined with them in the siege that had been made.

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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