Aaron Sherritt

Australian criminal

Aaron Sherritt (August 1854 - 26 June 1880) was a close friend of Joe Byrne and later Ned Kelly.[1] His murder in 1880 was the first of the actions that led to the Kelly Gang's final shoot out with the police at Glenrowan.

Aaron Sherritt
Aaron Sherritt 2.jpg
BornAugust 1854
Sebastopol, Woolshed Valley, near Beechworth Victoria Australia
Died26 June 1880
Sebastopol, Victoria
Cause of deathMurdered
OccupationFarmer, Criminal
Beechworth Gaol, where Sherrit was a prisoner in 1876

Sherritt lived about three miles from Byrne, in the Woolshed Valley, near Beechworth, Victoria.[2]:134 He went to school with Byrne, and in 1876 were sent to prison for stealing meat.[3]:101 Soon after being let out of prison, Sherritt and Byrne were sent back again. They had fought with Chinese man who had tried to stop them from swimming in his dam.[2]:81 In 1878 Byrne was said to be engaged to Sherritt's sister.[2] He had a reputation for being tough; at times he would sleep out in the open at night.[2]:134

After the Kelly Gang robbed the bank at Jerilderie, New South Wales, they disappeared for 18 months.[1] In January 1879, Sherritt went to the police station at Benalla and gave them information about where the Kelly Gang was hiding, and what they were going to do next.[2]:109 He was paid £2 for the information. Sherritt helped the police find a cave from where they could watch Byrne's mother's house.[2]:129 He was interested in Byrne's sister, Kate. The police told Sherritt that they would not kill Byrne.[2]:129 When the police in the cave were found out, Sherritt then tried to get close to Ned Kelly's younger sister, Kate Kelly.[2]:130 He showed the police a place from where they could watch the Kelly house, but this was soon discovered.[2]:130 Sherritt sold Kate Kelly a horse he had stolen from Kate Byrne.[2]:130 When Ned Kelly's older sister, Maggie Skillion, found out she reported it to the police. It went to court, but the case against Sherritt was dropped because the police said that the Byrnes and the Kellys were criminals and not to be trusted.[2]:130 Byrne's mother said she thought the whole thing was a trick by the police to get the Kelly Gang to come out of hiding.[2]:130

Late at night on 26 June 1880, Joe Byrne and Dan Kelly went to Sherritt's house at Sebastopol. Sherritt and his family were being guarded by four policemen who were living at the house. When Sherritt opened the door, he was shot dead by Joe Byrne.[1] The police did not come out of the house and remained there until the next day. Byrne and Kelly left Sebastopol and rode across country to Glenrowan. They knew the police would send a large group by train to Beechworth to try and capture them. Ned Kelly and Steve Hart had gone to Glenrowan earlier and had pulled up the train tracks. They had planned on the police sending the train to Beechworth during the night. The plan failed when the police at Sherritt's house did not report the murder until midday.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Obituary - Aaron Sherritt". Obituaries Australia. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. 2011. Retrieved 13 July 2011.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 McMenomy, Keith (1984). Ned Kelly - The authentic illustrated story. South Yarra, Victoria: Currey O'Neill Ross Pty Ltd. ISBN 085902122X.
  3. McQuilton, John (1979). The Kelly Outbreak 1878 - 1880. Melbourne, Australia: Melbourne University Press. ISBN 0-522-84180-5.