Ned had let out Constable Richards for a while to walk around the town with some of them as they did a reconnaissance. He did not let out Devine, though. In "The Complete Inner History of the Kelly Gang" J.J. Kenneally said of Devine: "He was a high spirited man, and was generally regarded as a man who would rather fight than run. It was because the Kellys recognised his courage that they did not take him out of the cell to patrol the town. On the other hand, Constable Richards was much more docile, and would 'go quietly' rather than take risks."
As an aside, I have read that Richards, who was engaged to a certain young lady at time of the raid, had to endure the indignity of her breaking off the engagement in the aftermath of events since he had "not done his duty"! My friend Greg Young (after I let him have a peek at the rough draft of this article) quipped: "Seems that Richards was given the white feather by his intended!"
In [I Am] Ned Kelly, John Molony says of Devine: "He never recovered from the dreadful indignity of incarceration in his own lock-up, and the taunts of cowardice and ineptitude unjustly levelled by many at him, as well as at the townsmen of Jerilderie, rankled deeply."
|George Devine around the time of the Kelly's visit. (courtesy of Trove)|
Devine eventually left Jerilderie and after being posted to other towns in NSW, wound up in Western Australia where he worked as a race course detective. But it seems that he could not run from notoriety as it was permanently attached to him thanks to Ned Kelly. Before that fateful life-changing day in February 1879 Devine had been attributed as boasting that "if he met the Kellys, they would remember it." Seems after that day he was to be the one to never forget, nor would anyone let him if he tried (much like McIntyre and the wombat hole!).
To illustrate, there was this interesting bit from the Sunday Times (Perth) from August 24, 1919:
There is one man who cordially hates the name of Ned Kelly, his associates, and all that was and is his. The said-hater is a racecourse official who, in the dear, dead days of long ago had an experience with Ned and his gang that rankles in his memory even after over 39 years. The usual ordinary public, especially the portion not old enough to know first hand, all fondly imagine that the said official was one of the constables who, when the police spy and traitor Aaron Sherritt was shot, promptly got under the bed. Not so, the now racecourse man having been on duty in another State. At the Perth courses, where the average gun hoodlum is barred from admittance to the course by the said official, they never fail to ask how he liked Ned Kelly, what it was Ned Kelly did to him, and how he liked being locked up in his own cell, and sundry other sarcasms too poignant for print. It's wonderful what a marvellously rotten memory pests have for half-truths and untruths, and what a blank is their mind when the real episodes are called in to question.
Even as early as 1909 there were reports of the public hounding him as being one of the four from Sherritt's hut! In the Sunday Times of October 24, 1920 there was a blurb saying "For the five-hundredth time, no, it was NOT Sergeant Devine (now of Perth) who was in Aaron Sherritt's hut..." But it seems that a few realised he was not one of those (thus the "how did he like being locked in his own cell" bits), but that still served them well as far as baiting him!
It was said that "At one time Devine used to resent and threaten libel and slander actions, contempt of constabulary, etc., but later on he accepted the gradually dwindling jibes philosophically and with an outwardly calm demeanor."
It seems that in his off time Devine attended Kelly Gang themed plays and films when they were in town. In the Sunday Times, August 24, 1924 it stated that:
"The most disgusted man after seeing the Kelly Gang picture was ex-Sergeant Devine, who was in charge of Jerilderie when the gang swooped down there. Devine's lively recollections of Ned and his three mates are not in accord with the film at present here, and he deeply resents the imputation therein."
That is odd that he attended such events as Kenneally said that
"The feelings of Senior-Constable Devine were so grievously wounded by the indignity of being locked up in his own prison cell at Jerilderie that he disliked to hear any reference to the Kelly Gang and their visit to Jerilderie."
I suppose it was inevitable that Devine heard the hue and cry of the hunters (or hound-ers?) up until his death in May of 1926 at age 79.
The Sunday Times of May 23, 1926 said:
Only two days before he was laid to rest in Karrakatta, he was walking Barrack-street and accosted a member of the staff of this journal cheerily enough. Though looking very shaky, he greeted the scribe, whom he well knew, and made a direct unsought reference to a long-made promise to give the said scribe a few stories of his early life, including unpublished details of the Jerilderie stick-up. Within half a dozen hours of that meeting in Barrack-street he had passed away and within 48 hours had been borne to his long resting place.
It is a shame that he did not live to tell those tales!
|Images of Devine's grave. (courtesy of Michael Ball)|
You will remember that Ned Kelly had made a souvenir of Constable Devine's revolver at Jerilderie and that he had it with him at the siege of Glenrowan. It is the gun that Jesse Dowsett later souvenired. Ned also took Devine's and Richards's police horses which were later found abandoned. There was something else he took, too. It was reported that Jim Kelly in later years found a police trooper's uniform at the old homestead (which was assumed to have come from Jerilderie) and when he asked a friend what he should do with it he was advised to burn it!
Ned took all those souvenirs, but did you know that Devine wound up with a souvenir of Ned's, too?
According to the Sunday Times Aug 24, 1924:
Until a few years ago the said Devine had a rare souvenir of Ned Kelly, he having been down at Spencer-street when the famous armor arrived. Said souvenir was a handkerchief that on being rubbed on the still-stained mouldboard plate irons, showed spots and streaks of rust and blood, the latter being that of the famous outlaw himself. In a fire that occurred a few years ago in Perth he lost not only that relic, but a clothes line with which the almost equally notorious Captain Moonlight was tied when captured at Wantabadgery.
The part that Devine's wife Mary played in the proceedings at Jerilderie will be covered in a future blog posting.