Senior Constable John R HERBERT
13 April, 1865
In April 1865 Senior Constable Herbert, along with Constables Cook and Ambrose and Tracker Peter, were searching for the Hall Gang of bushrangers in the bush between Forbes and Canowindra. The bushrangers had earlier robbed a store at Forbes and information had been obtained indicating that they were headed for Canowindra. The police party made camp in the bush near Molong, and Senior Constable Herbert announced that he and Constable Ambrose would be leaving the camp to keep watch on a hut where they suspected the gang might be hiding. It was arranged that should either he or Ambrose return during the night they would whistle to alert the camp of their approach.
Unfortunately, Herbert and Ambrose did return during the night but, after losing their way in the darkness, they approached the police camp from a different direction than expected. Being closer than they believed to the camp, they also did not whistle to signal their arrival. Believing the approaching riders to be the bushrangers Constable Cook issued a challenge on two occasions without receiving a reply, so on the second occasion both he and Peter fired into the darkness, unfortunately hitting Constable Herbert in the groin, neck and shoulder. He died about a week later.
The Sydney Morning Herald dated 29 May, 1865 indicates that Constable Cook was charged with a criminal offence following the shooting, reporting that ” Constable Cook was placed on his trial to-day, at the Quarter Sessions, for shooting Constable Herbert, and was acquitted… The Court has concluded its sittings. ”
The senior constable was born in 1837 and joined the police force on 1 September, 1859. In 1862 he became a member of the newly-formed New South Wales Police Force. At the time of his death he was probably stationed at Canowindra.