After a time the engagement between Aaron and Miss Byrne was broken off without the latter assigning any reason. She had a very fine horse, a present from her lover, but on the engagement terminating she got rid of it and bought another. This horse had hardly been in the paddock when Aaron stole it and gave it to Kate Kelly.
Miss Byrne now took out a warrant for Aaron’s arrest for horse stealing, but the police would not put it into execution, as they felt Aaron’s services were too valuable to them. Sherritt now made a counter move against the Byrne family; he had a lady’s side-saddle, and he planted it, one dark night, on Mrs. Byrne’s property, and then got a warrant for her arrest, as well as that of a young son, for stealing it. Both were acquitted of the theft. This action was supposed to have precipitated the murder of Sherritt, for up to this point Byrne (the outlaw) had shown much thought for his old schoolmate. Byrne knew that Ned Kelly intended shooting him (Sherritt) some time prior to this, so he rode to Mrs. Sherritt (mother) and warned her against allowing Aaron to sleep indoors, as Ned Kelly fully intended to carry out his dire threat.
At the time of the Jerilderie bank robbery, the gang offered great inducements to Aaron to accompany them on the expedition, but he was adamant in his refusal. Though this crime was committed 600 miles from here, its influence had a considerable effect in
Singleton, by reason of the fact that this town was made a breaking-in depot for remounts for the troopers engaged in the pursuit of the outlaws. A lot of the handling was done in the old Pound Yard, at the back of the Caledonian Hotel, and all the mounting in the heavy sand opposite the “Loom Hole.” Constable Willis, of this town, and Constable Coglan, of Jerry’s Plains, were both despatched to the Murray River in pursuit of the gang.
On the return of the outlaws from Jerilderie to their mountain home in Victoria, Joe Byrne had a remarkable escape from capture. Sherritt informed the police that the whole gang would arrive at Mrs. Byrne’s house on a certain night, and that they would pass through the stockyard. Superintendent Hare surrounded the house and placed
a number of men in the stockyard, and he and Sherritt were with them. After a tedious wait, footsteps were heard; then a fair-sized man jumped over the fence and nearly fell on the Superintendent, who wanted to arrest him. Sherritt said: “It’s not Byrne, but Scotty”, however, that was only a ruse, as it was discovered, too late, to be Byrne.
On Boxing Day, l879, Sherritt decided upon marriage with a young girl 15 years of age, and the ceremony was duly celebrated. In anticipation of entering the holy bonds of wedlock he “jumped” a little deserted hut at the Woolshed. It was a one-roomed little
building, but with the aid of some calico, he converted it into a two-roomed domicile. One day the rightful owner came along to eject Aaron, but as there were a number of police hiding in the place, and to turn them out would disclose their plans, they subscribed the few pounds necessary to purchase the hut, and thus Aaron became a land owner. On June 26th, 1880, it was decided that the batches of police that were ‘guarding Mrs. Kelly’s, Mrs Byrne’s, and Mrs Hart’s houses should be withdrawn that night, as the chances of capturing the gang in that way appeared hopeless. The night previous the police surrounding Mrs. Byrne’s house were startled by something, and Aaron went to investigate, but did not return, nor did he appear again till next day; he refused to say what had happened, or where he had been, but he did remark to the police: “I’m a goner.” How prophetic his words were is ancient history, for at 6 o’clock that night Byrne and Dan Kelly visited his house, and the former shot him dead. His young wife – they were only six months married – her mother, and four constables were present at the time. The outlaws called upon the police to go outside, but they got under the bed, and made the women get on the outside of them. The two outlaws peppered the building, but
none of the shots took effect on the police or women. Whilst this was going on Ned Kelly and Hart were busy at Glenrowan pulling up the railway in their endeavor to wreck the train with the police, who, it was known, would travel by it on Sherritt’s murder becoming known. Three of the police who were in Sherritt’s hut at the time of the murder were dismissed the force, whilst the fourth tendered his resignation before a charge of cowardice could be entered against him. Two days after Sherritt’s death the