New South Wales Police Force

Cousin to Senior Constable William SUTHERLAND, NSWPF ‘Q’ ????

Uniform # A 356

Regd. # ‘Q‘ 5460

For the purposes of this website ‘Q‘ represents those Police joining between 1 March 1862 ( commencement of NSWPF ) – 23 February 1915 ( Commencement of NSWPF current numbering system )


Rank:  Constable


Stations:  Darlinghurst ( No. 3 Division ) – Death


ServiceFrom  11 October 1887  to 3 June 1889 = 1+ years Service




Born? ? 1863 @ Canterbury, New Zealand

Died on:  Monday  3 June 1889


Cause:  Shot – Murdered

Event location:  MaCleay St, Potts Point, NSW

Age:  25 – unmarried


Inquest date:  Thursday  6 June 1889


Funeral date:  Wednesday  5 June 1889

Funeral location?


Buried at:  Waverley Cemetery, cnr St Thomas St & Trafalgar St, NSW

Grave Location:  C of E, Sec 9, Grave 941


 Memorial at?


DAVID IS mentioned on the Police Wall of Remembrance

Touch plate at the National Police Wall of Remembrance, Canberra
Touch plate at the National Police Wall of Remembrance, Canberra


 Funeral location ?




About 3am on 3 June, 1889 the constable was patrolling MaCleay Street, Potts Point when he saw a man enter a yard and walk to the rear of a dwelling. He detained the man a short time later as he left the premises and spoke to him regarding his actions. When the man attempted to leave, the constable took hold of him and again asked what he was doing. The offender told the constable to let him go or he would shoot him. A struggle ensued and when both men lost their balance, the offender shot the constable in the abdomen.


While they were on the ground the offender again fired at the constable who drew his baton and struck his attacker. Constable Sutherland was then able to take the revolver from the offender, but as he was quickly losing his strength due to his wounds, the offender quickly retrieved the weapon and escaped. He was very soon arrested by Senior Sergeant Robertson and Sergeant Hogan.

Constable Sutherland died later that day, however not before providing his colleagues with a dying deposition and a positive identification of his attacker, John Morrison.


This death was a major factor which led to the general arming of Sydney Police in 1894. Previously, country and mounted police had always been armed, but the Sydney foot police for some reason had not.


The constable was born in 1863 and joined the New South Wales Police Force on 11 October, 1887.

At the time of his death he was stationed at Darlinghurst.


David SUTHERLAND was identified by his Cousin, Constable William SUTHERLAND after the murder.

William SUTHERLAND was later to be murdered in 1901 by a ‘kosh’ on the head.








Evening News ( Sydney )     Monday  3 June 1889   p5 of 8


Mr. G. F. Murnin, resident secretary of the Australian Widows’ Fund, 263, George-street, informs us that Constable David Sutherland, who was murdered this morning, was insured for £250, the policy having only been taken out in April last.




Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954),

Wednesday 5 June 1889, page 3

The Murdered Constable.

The Inquest.

SYDNEY, Wednesday.

The inquest on the body of Constable David Sutherland, who was shot by a burglar at Potts Point, was commenced yesterday afternoon.

The prisoner, James Morrison, was in custody, handcuffed.

There was a crowded court.

Morrison is a powerful fellow, 28 years of age, and the mark of a heavy blow over the left eye is still visible.

Constable William Sutherland identified the body as that of his cousin. He was a native of Canterbury, New Zealand. He was a single man. His mother, three sisters, and four brothers were living there.

Medical evidence showed that the bullet severed the main artery of the groin.

Benjamin Backhouse, architect, residing at Potts Point, deposed that he was awakened by the reports of a shot. On hearing the second shot, he also heard cries for help. He then saw a man running away. The man was of similar appearance as prisoner. A fence over which the man scrambled was examined afterwards and showed blood marks.

Further evidence similar to that reported already was also given.

The inquiry is still proceeding.

Melbourne, Wednesday.

The Melbourne police have identified the photograph of James Morrison, who is charged with the murder of Constable Sutherland, as that of a man known to them as Jackson, who has recently done two and a half-years in Victoria for an impudent forgery.

05 Jun 1889 – The Murdered Constable. – Trove





Goulburn Herald ( NSW )   Thursday  6 June 1889  p2 of 4


We subjoin further particulars of the tragedy in Macleay-street, Potts Point, reported by telegraph in our last issue: It appears that at about 3 a.m. on Monday, as Senior-sergeant Robertson and Sergeant Hogan were standing at the corner of William and Victoria streets, they saw a man walking towards them. He was proceeding at a very quick pace, and noticing that he was very much excited and out of breath, they stopped him. His trousers, coat, and vest were all smeared with blood, and there was a severe wound over his left eye. While they were questioning him Mr. McElhone junior came up, and said that there was at constable lying on the footpath in Macleay street. The senior-sergeant and Mr. McElbone at once took a cab and went to where the constable was reported to be lying, and in the meanwhile the blood-smeared man was conveyed to the Darlinghurst lookup.

Sutherland ( the constable ) was found lying, as indicated by Mr. McElbone, dangerously wounded,  but conscious . He was taken to the hospital, where he was found to be wounded in the abdomen, no hope of his recovery being entertained. Sutherland unhesitatingly identified the man who had been arrested, and who gave the name of John Morrison, as the man who had shot him, and Morrison, who had been brought to the hospital for the purpose of identification, responded, ” Well, it’s wrong of you to say that. I did not shoot you.

Subsequently the deposition of the wounded man was taken, and he succumbed to his injuries shortly before seven o’clock on Monday morning.

The substance of Sutherland’s deposition was as follows: – At half-past 2 a.m., while the constable was standing near the residence of Mr. C. J. Roberts, Chatsworth, he saw a man enter the gates in front of the adjacent house and pass towards the rear of the premises. After the man had been inside the gates for a minute or two some dogs which were there began to bark, and they continued doing so until the man left and walked into the middle of the road. The constable and the man exchanged a “ good-night ” greeting, and the constable observed, ” you’re out early. ” The man then attempted to make off. The officer, however, caught hold of him, and asked what he was doing. The man replied, “ let me go. If you don’t I’ll shoot you, ” and he immediately thrust his right hand into his trousers pocket. A struggle ensued, and just as they were about to fall the man fired his revolver. Whilst on the ground he again fired. The constable, however, could not say whether the latter shot took effect. Before either of them regained his feet the constable drew his baton and gave the man a severe   blow on the head. Owing, however, to his weak state the blow was not as severe as he hoped it would be. The constable, though wounded, wrested the revolver from the man, but as he was very weak the other soon got the better of him, and raising himself, snatched back the revolver, and made off. Whilst the injured constable’s depositions were being taken, the prisoner, who had been brought to the bedside of the wounded man, inquired whether the revolver did not go off accidentally. Replying to this the dying man said, ” no, you pointed it direct at me. ”

The next piece of evidence as to the fatal affray is furnished by Mr. Benjamin Backhouse, a gentleman living close to the scene. He was awakened by a pistol-shot, which was followed shortly after by a second report. He then saw a man running at full speed along Rockwell-street, and at the same time heard loud cries for help. He got out of the house in time to see the man who ran down the street scale the fence at the end of the street, and he became lost to view. He then found the wounded constable and afforded him what assistance he could until the arrival of the police and others.

When the scene of the affray was examined later on, a large morticing chisel was found, and this instrument corresponds with a number of marks on premises in the locality. A six-chambered nickel plated revolver was found concealed in the grass in Mr. McElhone’s paddock, close to where Mr. Backhouse saw the man scale the fence. Four of the chambers were loaded, and the remaining two had been discharged. A third article was also discovered, namely, a cloth tweed hat of large size, which gives colour to the report of the captured man having had an associate.

Constable Sutherland was a young and energetic officer, only twenty-five years of age, and unmarried. He had been about twenty months in the force, and was highly spoken of by his superior officers and comrades. Morrison is also a young man of about twenty-five, stiflly built, and described as a cabinet maker by trade. He is said to be a native of England, and was previously unknown to the police.   He has a wound over the left eye, such as would be caused by a constable’s baton. When brought before the police court this morning he made no reply to the charge of murder, and has so far maintained silence as to the part he is supposed to have played.   He was remanded to the coroner’s court.

The coroner commenced an inquest on Tuesday, when William Sutherland, a police constable stationed at the Glebe, identified the body of the deceased as that of his cousin David Sutherland, who was twenty-five years of age, and a native of Canterbury, New Zealand. He was a single man. He had left £32 in the Savings’ Bank, Oxford-street, Sydney, and a life policy for £250. Deceased had left a mother and a number of brothers and sisters in New Zealand. Evidence was given in substantiation of the facts above detailed, and the inquiry was adjourned to Thursday.




South Australian Weekly Chronicle ( Adelaide, S.A. )   Saturday  8 June 1889  p21 of 24


( By Telegraph )

Sydney, June 6.

The coroner’s Inquest relative to the death of Constable David Sutherland, who was shot whilst arresting a burglar at Pott’s Point on Monday morning, was concluded to-day, a verdict of wilful murder being returned against James Morrison, the man who fired the shot.

Morrison will come up for trial at the Quarter Sessions, commencing July 15. Whilst Sergeant Hogan, one of the two officers who arrested Morrison, was giving evidence to-day the prisoner told him that he had better tell the truth. When asked if he had any questions to put to Hogan, Morrison said — ‘ No, your honor. He would only tell lies If I was to. ‘

The coroner, in summing up, said there was a great deal of circumstantial evidence to bear out the statement  made by the deceased constable that the fatal shot was wilfully fired. To their verdict the jury added a rider recommending that in future no constables should be allowed to go on night duty in the suburbs or on lonely beats singly, but in pairs, so that in case of emergency they might be in a better position to act. The foreman added that this course would entail an extra expense, but the money would be well spent in the protection thus afforded to life and property.





The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser ( NSW )

Sat. 8 June 1889

Funeral of Constable Sutherland.

The remains of the late Constable David Sutherland, who met his death early on Monday morning by being shot by a burglar, were conveyed to the Waverley Cemetery on Wednesday afternoon, followed by an imposing procession of the police, the military, and sympathetic citizens.

The funeral was timed (reports the Herald) to leave No. 3 Police Station at 2.30, and almost to the minute the coffin was borne to the hearse by the comrades of the deceased. The streets and roads in the vicinity of the station and Darlinghurst prison were blocked up by some thousands of people, and traffic was consequently suspended along Oxford street as far as the Victoria Barracks, and thence at intervals throughout the route of the cortege. The spectacle was one suggestive of the most marked tribute of respect that could have been paid to the deceased. Four mounted troopers headed the Permanent Artillery Band in the march to the cemetery, followed closely by the hearse and two mourning coaches, carrying the relatives of the deceased; then came upwards of 200 constables four deep, with their officers, Mr. Fosbery, the Inspector – General, Mr. Read, the superintendent, Inspectors Anderson, Larkins, McKay, and Camphin, Sub-inspectors Bremner, Potter, Atwill, Cotter, Long, Hyam, and Lawless. The Permanent Artillery under Major Airey and Lieutenant Kyngdon were next in order, with a body of the Permanent Mounted Infantry on foot, together with the Staff Sergeants and Captains Cuthell and Bayly representing the Permanent Staff. A carriage, containing Sir Henry Parkes and Mr. C. Roberts, M.L.A., was followed by the Mayor’s carriage and a large number of vehicles.

The cemetery was reached shortly after 4 o’clock, and some thousands of persons were in waiting to witness the lowering of the coffin into the grave. The   Rev. A. Gardiner was the officiating clergyman, and after reading the burial service he asked to be allowed to utter a few sentences touching the impressive and solemn occasion. It was always, he said, a solemn thing to stand about an open grave and reflect how suddenly the summons of death might come, but there were special circumstances surrounding the present bereavement which tended to make it more solemn and impressive. Probably not many who were gathered around the grave had known David Sutherland, but their hearts were touched with sympathy under the circumstances, and they felt it due to his memory to give him that ennobling mark of respect. There was always something sad about the death of a young man just beginning life, with prospects before him such as the deceased had, but there was something very bad in the terrible consequences which led to his death. He died at his post ; he was faithful even unto death, and perhaps the last words that fell from his lips, like Nelson at Trafalgar, were, ” I have done my duty.”

The fidelity and worth of the people of Sydney had been touched on this occasion by the disaster which overcame the deceased, and yet why should they mourn so much   for his departure ? Though young, and called away under such circumstances, it should be remembered that he had faith in God and knew that he was going to a better scene ; he had a knowledge of the divine truth, and hoped in Christ.   As for his own part, he would ten thousand times rather be David Sutherland that day lying in his grave than the man who was the cause of his death. Two lessons were taught in the death of the deceased, namely, to be faithful to duty, and to do from day to day what was felt to be right, at any cost. It was gratifying to see the people of Sydney so much moved, because it showed that their hearts were on the right side, and they sympathised with the deceased for his resolution and determination to   stand at his post at the cost of his life. It was that spirit that distinguished the British nation more than any other. The benediction was then pronounced by Rev. C. F. Garnsey. The coffin was covered with wreaths of flowers. One came from the ladies of Macleay-street, as a tribute of respect, another from the gardeners of Potts Point, and a third from his comrades.



The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser

Sat. 15 June 1889 

The Late Constable Sutherland.

The inquest relative to the death of Police-constable David Sutherland was concluded on June 6th.   The jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against the prisoner, James Morrison, who was accordingly committed for trial at the next sittings of the Central Criminal Court.

A rider recommending that in the suburbs and on lonely beats, two constables should patrol together was added. The prisoner appeared to feel his position keenly, and towards the conclusion of the inquiry his agitation became apparent. He never asked a question and only spoke twice, on each occasion denying the veracity of a witness.

Sir Henry Parkes has sent the following letter to the Inspector-General of Police with reference to the late Constable David Sutherland: — ” Sir, — You will be good enough to convey to the members of the police force the expression of my deep regret for the loss which the Government has sustained by the murder of Constable David Sutherland. The highest conduct of man in any station of life consists of the fulfilment of trust and the performance of duty. David Sutherland did his duty to the very death. His steady sense of obligation, and his heroic effort to perform his part when his life-blood was ebbing away, furnish an example which could hardly be excelled in front of the enemy on the battle field. His conduct in life and death reflects highest credit upon the force of which he was a member, and will make his memory respected by all good men.

In accordance with the request of the Premier the letter has, under the direction of the Inspector General of Police, been recorded in the Orders, and read on parade at the various stations to all of the metropolitan police force, and was published yesterday in the Police Gazette for the Information of the police generally.





The South Australian Register of

6 February, 1894 printed the following.



The Inspector-General of Police [Fosberry] says that one objection to arming the police with revolvers is that the use of firearms may become too common, and if the public get familiar with the snap of the revolver a similar state of things to that prevailing in the United States may be brought into existence. Concerning the two men injured the constables are improving in health.


The same newspaper on 27 February, 1894:



Two police had an exciting contest last night at Redfern, when they were arresting four men on a charge of thieving. Directly the constables sought to detain them a rough-and-tumble fight occurred, a number of roughs seeking to enable the suspects to escape. Eventually two of the four men broke away, and the others were on the point of being rescued when the police drew their revolvers and threatened to fire on the larrikins. The presentation of firearms completely cowed them, and the constables succeeded in conveying two of the men arrested to the station. This is the first occasion on which the police have found it necessary to use revolvers since their issue, and had they not been available the constables would have been severely maltreated.








Please follow and like us:
Notify of
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Margaret, I have been researching Constable David Sutherland for some years , through a direct distant cousin of mine who was a prison guard John Sutherland Brown who was killed in Cootamundra jail in 1908. News paper report in 1908 is that John had a policeman cousin die in 1888 in Potts Point Sydney , through research I found David as well as his cousin William and researched both. From the newspaper information i still have not put the connections with my John Sutherland. If by chanch you can help me connect David and John together it would be of… Read more »

[…] The death of Senior-constable William Sutherland, of the Glebe Police Station, on Monday, recalls the tragic death of his brother, also a constable, in June, 1889. […]

Hi, I am researching David Sutherland in my family tree, through his cousin William Sutherland also a police constable and the one who brought him here to Sydney… and who also died due to being attacked by a felon. I would like to give you this picture of David, so that he is still remembered.

David Sutherland  Picture (2).jpg

Hi, I have been researching this David Sutherland through his Cousin, William Sutherland, I can tell you that David’s parents were John and Janet Sutherland and they arrived in Lylleton New Zealand on board the “Roman Emporer” on 28th January 1860. David was born in NZ in 1863, David’s cousin William who emigrated to Lyllelton NZ on the Isle of the South arriving Lyllelton 02 February 1875 as a tailor, was already a police constable in Canterbury NZ then he emigrated to Sydney and talked David into joining him. David set sail from NZ on board the Rotomahana and arrived… Read more »

[…] the more important of recent cases are those of the late Constable David Sutherland shot by a burglar named James Morrison, in Rockwall Street, Potts Point, early on June 3, […]

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x