Aaron Sherritt

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Aaron Sherritt (Aug 1854 – 26 June 1880) was an associate of the gang of outlaws led by Ned Kelly.

Personal life[edit]

Aaron Sherritt was born in the Melbourne suburb of Prahran in August 1854, to Irish migrants John and Agnes Ann (née Nesbitt) Sherritt. He was the eldest of 13 children. He grew up in the Woolshed near Beechworth and was a childhood friend of gang member Joe Byrne. On 26 December 1879, Sherritt married the fifteen-year-old Ellen Barry.[1]

Kelly Gang[edit]

On 26 October 1878, Ned, his brother Dan, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart were outlawed by the colony of Victoria after ambushing a party of police and murdering three policemen at Stringybark Creek. By some accounts, Sherritt offered to join the gang but was talked out of it by Ned Kelly and Joe Byrne.

He was a friend of the outlaws, but gained the trust of Police Superintendent Francis Hare.[1] Traditional accounts of the Kelly Gang portray him as a traitor, but many of the police suspected he was a double agent working for the Kelly Gang.[1] Detective Mick Ward actively worked to increase tensions between Sherritt and the Kelly Gang.[1] Policemen were sent to guard Sherrit, but their presence convinced the gang he was a traitor.[1]

Death and aftermath[edit]

On the 26 June 1880 Sherritt was at home with his wife, mother-in-law and four policemen, Constables Armstrong, Alexander, Ducross, and Dowling. A neighbour, Antone Weekes, who had reportedly been handcuffed and held hostage by Joe Byrne and Dan Kelly, called out "Aaron" at the front door of Sherritt's hut.[2][3] When Sherritt answered it, Joe Byrne shot him at point-blank range in the chest. The gang then held four police officers assigned to protect Aaron captive in the house for 12 hours before they stole back into the bush.[4]

Aaron Sherritt's youngest brother was also named Aaron. The younger Aaron Nesbitt Sherritt was born in 1883, after the first Aaron had been shot dead.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Brendon Kelson; John McQuilton (2001). Kelly Country: A Photographic Journey. Univ. of Queensland Press. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-7022-3273-2. 
  2. ^ "ANOTHER KELLY OUTRAGE.". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956). Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia. 28 June 1880. p. 5. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  3. ^ "THE KELLY GANG.". Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907). NSW: National Library of Australia. 10 July 1880. p. 6. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  4. ^ Ingles, Matt On this day: The Kelly Gang's last stand, australiangeographic.com, 27 June 2014

Bibliography[edit]

  • Alec Brierley, An Illustrated History of the Kelly Gang (1979)
  • Ian Jones, "The Fatal Friendship: Ned Kelly, Aaron Sherrit & Joe Byrne" (2003)