Victorian ( Melbourne ) Police Force
Regd. # ?
Rank: ( 1 ) Sergeant, ( 2 ) ex-Detective Constable
Service: From ? 1852 to ?
Died on: 15 August 1856
Cause: Suicide – slit own throat
Location: Galway Arms Hotel, Melbourne
Age: about 30 ?
Funeral date: ?
Funeral location: ?
Buried at: ?
The Argus ( Melbourne ) Saturday 16 August 1856 page 5 of 8
SUICIDE OF AN EX- DETECTIVE OFFICER
Early yesterday morning it was discovered that John Elsey, late of the detective force of this city, had committed suicide by cutting his throat. The deceased was lodging in the Galway Arms Hotel, in Flinders-lane, and on his not making his customary appearance at breakfast, some person went to his room, and found the unfortunate man lying on his face on the floor, with his throat cut, and quite dead.
The deceased was about thirty years of age, a married man, and a native of Kentucky. Some time ago he left his wife behind him at Castlemaine, and went home to America. On his return, it appeared that she had formed an acquaintance with another man, by whom, it is alleged, she had two children.
Elsey obtained a situation in the detective force but was soon after summoned to Castlemaine to provide his wife with a maintenance, and the Bench made an order of £1 per week. This award the deceased was dissatisfied with, and as Mr. Smith, the late superintendent of the detective force, wished, to keep back from his salary the amount awarded by the Bench to his wife, the deceased left the force. This happened about a month ago.
Since that time Elsey appears to have been harassed by applications on the part of the man who is living with his wife for the award of the Castlemaine Bench for her maintenance, and the deceased had since given way to dissipation, and formed acquaintances with disreputable women. His health appears to have broken down, and those circumstances together are supposed to have led to the committal of the rash act.
An inquest will be held over the body this morning.
Empire ( Sydney ) Friday 22 August 1856 page 6 of 8
The following extraordinary case of suicide by a detective officer is from the “Herald ” of the 10th instant : —
” Yesterday, Dr. Wilmot, City Coroner, held an inquest at the Galway Hotel, Flinders-lane east, on the body of John Elsey, who was found dead in his room with his throat cut that morning. The deceased had been a well-conducted member of the detective force, and the circumstances which led him to commit suicide were of a very painful nature, as will be seen from the following evidence given at the inquest :– Abraham Fenton, sergeant of police, said that he knew the deceased as belonging to the detective force, and hearing yesterday morning that he had committed suicide, he went immediately to the Galway Hotel, and found him lying on his face on the floor of the room, with a razor in his right hand, which was underneath the throat. On the dressing table there was a bottle labelled “laudanum,” and in his trunk, amongst other documents, he found the following paper, in the handwriting of deceased : —
” Galway Hotel. August 11, 1856.
This is a correct statement of John Elsey. My name is John Elsey. I was born in the county of Norfolk, England. My people emigrated to the United States when I was only one year old. My mother died about six months after landing.
The first of my experience was working with a farmer for my board and clothes. At twelve years of age I went to drive on the Erie canal ; from that coasted out of New York till I came to this colony, which was in 1852. I came out as ordinary seaman in the brig Augustas ; I ran and left the ship three days after she arrived. I went to Gisborne and worked on the roads for two months, after which I went to Castlemaine, and joined the police.
I was promoted to sergeant, and made plenty of money, and on the 11th of February, 1855, commenced my troubles. I married a girl about sixteen years of age. She turned out very bad, so much so that I concluded to go home till she forgot. I went home, and was gone twelve months. When I arrived in this country again I joined the detective police. I had not been in them more than (?) before my wife summoned me to Castlemaine, and the bench of magistrates ordered me to pay the sum of 25s per week. I could not afford to pay the same. I went and saw the Chief Commissioner of Police, and he told me he would suspend me for the period of which I was gone to Castlemaine to find proof against my wife, and when I come back from Castlemaine he should immediately take me on again. When I came back from Castlemaine I went to him, and he told me he would take me on. After detaining my time for two weeks, he would not do it.
And now for that reason I am about to commit this : and may the great God cast a punishment on him that will make him feel that he has got this most abominable sin to answer for. I cannot do hard work, and there is nothing else left for me to do ; and before having to knock about the country like some, I will commit suicide.
Given under my hand this 14th day of August, 1856.
14th August — I state that I owe nearly the sum of £3 for board which I wish to be awarded out of my effects.
Patrick Kelly, landlord of the Galway Hotel, said that the deceased had been a lodger at his house for about three months, with the exception of a few weeks’ absence.
On his return to the house on the 31st of July, after being away for a few weeks, he observed a change in his appearance, and deceased told him that he had been unwell ever since he left his house, and was getting worse. He only complained of a cold, and about a week ago said that he had again joined the detective force, but had leave of absence for a week in order to get rid of his cold. The last time he saw him alive was on Thursday at mid-day, when he appeared the same as usual. One of the lodgers saying that he had knocked at the door of deceased without receiving any answer, he sent up to ascertain the fact, and subsequently forced open the door, when he saw deceased in the state in which he then lay. To his knowledge deceased was not addicted to drinking.
Patrick Boyle, teacher, had known the deceased for the last fortnight, and had opportunities of seeing a great deal of him. For the last eight or nine days he appeared very dejected in mind, and said that he was very unwell. For the last three days he could hardly go up and down stairs, and seemed to have lost the power of his limbs, and to have been very absent in mind. He had never seen him under the influence of liquor.
Henry White of the detective force, had known the deceased since March last, when he was in the detective force, and was a steady well conducted man. He resigned in June, and proceeded to Castlemaine, where he had been summoned by his wife for maintenance, and he was ordered to pay her a weekly allowance.
He felt greatly aggrieved at his wife living with another man. He then resigned the force, and had since been leading a very irregular life. The last time he saw him alive was on Monday, the 12th instant, when he seemed very low in spirits, and said he thought he should rejoin the force. He traced all his troubles to the conduct of his wife, which preyed heavily upon his mind.
The jury, by their verdict, found that John Elvey(sic) had died from a wound inflicted by his own hand by a certain razor across the throat, whilst in a state of temporary derangement.”
Gippsland Guardian ( Victoria )
Friday 29 August 1856 page 1 of 4
John Elsey, a native of Kentucky, and an ex-detective officer of the Melbourne Police, committed suicide by cutting his throat, on the 15th inst., in the Galway Arms Hotel, Melbourne, where he had been lodging.
The Age ( Melbourne ) Thursday 17 April 1856 page 3 of 4
The Assault on the Detectives. — George Pickering, the oyster-dealer, who, on Tuesday, created a serious disturbance in Little Bourke street, and was secured with great difficulty, made his appearance on Wednesday, with his head and face severely mauled and blood-stained.
On Detective Elsey’s announcing his authority to arrest him, he said that he never went without a fight for it, and immediately struck the detective a violent blow in the chest.
In self-defence he drew and wielded his neddy vigorously, and, besides contending with the prisoner, had to withstand the attacks of a whole host of pick pockets and oyster men, the friends of the prisoner. At last, by the aid of Detectives White and Randall, he was hauled off to the lock-up.
His wife, at whose instance he had been arrested, appeared against him.
She supports herself by washing, and on the present occasion had a considerable quantity of clothes in the house. Pickering, just out of gaol, went into the house, and after brutally ill-treating his wife, threw all the clothes out of the window into the street.
She has two children by the prisoner, who broke the leg of one of them in a fit of drunkenness, some time previous. The prisoner was sentenced to three months’ hard labor, and at the conclusion of that term he was ordered to find two sureties of £25 each, to keep the peace towards his wife for twelve months.
The Argus ( Melbourne ) Monday 12 May 1856 page 4 of 8
THE ARGUS Publish Daily.
MORE STURT’S JUSTICE
Another sample of this very peculiar commodity has been exhibited at the Melbourne Police Office during the past week.
Four ” fast ” young men, named James Bruce, William Bruce, Henry Younger, and John Ford were charged on Tuesday with having the previous evening created a disturbance at the Theatre Royal, and assaulted Detective Elsey in the execution of his duty.
The evidence of the detective was to the effect that, hearing James Bruce making use of disgraceful language he (Elsey) desired him (Bruce) to desist.
Bruce hereupon first abused and then struck Elsey, who tried to arrest his assailant, but the latter was immediately reinforced by the other three prisoners.
Elsey was severely beaten among them, his clothes torn, and a ” gold nugget pin ” plucked from his breast and flung away.
Ultimately Elsey received succor, and the brawlers were arrested. On being brought before the Police Court the next day, James Bruce, William Bruce, and Henry Younger were sentenced to one month’s imprisonment, Ford being released on payment of a forty shilling fine, his participation in the disturbance having been small.