Edwin Erskine MAY

Edwin Erskine MAY


Late of Nambucca, NSW  


Commenced Police Training at Belmore Barracks, Sydney


New South Wales Police Force

Service 1:  Regd. #  Q 2872

Service 2:  Regd. #  Q 7594

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 )


Uniform # A 646 ( most probably from Service 2 )


Service 1:  From 8 January 1877  to   30 June 1889 ( H.O.D. – Contracted Blood poisoning )  =  13 years Service

Due to being ordered to exhume a buried leg, from the Coffs Harbour mutilation axe Murder of Mat Matteson  a young Russian Finn,  MAY contracted Blood Poisoning in his left arm which resulted in him nearly losing his life and having to undergo 11+ operations and remain in Grafton Hospital for about 4 months.

This eventually led to him being unfit for Duty.


Service 1 – RankProbationary Constable- appointed 4 August 1891 ( aged 21 )

Constable – appointed ? ? ?

Constable 1st Class – appointed ? ? 1881 ( Bullahdelah ) 

Detective – appointed ? ? ?

Senior Constable – appointed ? ? ? 


Final Rank =  Senior Constable


Service 1 – StationsDungog ( Cst )( 1877 ), Gloucester ( December 1877 – June 1880 )( December 1877 – it was the 1st Station there and the 1st Policeman there )( this was a hut on the site of the present Commercial Hotel *1877 ), Maitland ( June 1880 – 1881 ), Bullahdelah ( 1881 – ? ), Paterson ( ? – 1884 ), Boat Harbour ( Now Bellingen )( 1884 – 30 June 1889 )

Boat Harbour Station which was renamed Bellingen, Bellinger River – Discharged H.O.D. ( Service 1 )


Between being forced to leave ( Service 1 ) and rejoining ( Service 2 ), MAY was a member of the Transit Commission in Sydney and when their duties were taken over by the police, he  again joined the force as a traffic officer.

The Transit Commission gave way once the Traffic Act came into force.

There are numerous articles on Transit Officer MAY – one naming him as Special constable Edwin MAY and these date between 5 June 1891 21 June 1889.


Service 2:  From 4 August 1891   to   ? ? 1912  =  12 years Service


Service 2 – RankConstable 1st Class ( re-joinee )- appointed 4 August 1891

Senior Constable – appointed ? ? ? 

Sergeant – appointed ? ? ?

Final Rank?


Service 2 – Stations? ( Traffic Duty for about 5 years ), Newtown ( 5 Division )( Station Duties re failing health ) – Retirement ( 1912 )

Total Service = 25 years 


Retirement / Leaving age: = ? ? 1912

Time in Retirement from Police: ?


Awards:  No Find on Australian Honours system


 Born? ? 1853 – London, England  emigrated to Qld in 1866

Died on:  Saturday 5 January 1935 

Age:  82



Event location:  Bondi, NSW

Event date ?


Funeral date:  Monday  7 January 1935 @ 10.30am

Funeral location? 

Funeral Parlour: W. Carter, Undertaker.  262 Oxford St, Woollahra, NSW

Buried at: Waverley Cemetery,

Grave location:  Anglican – Section 19, Special B, Plot 10


Memorial / Plaque / Monument located at: ?

Dedication date of Memorial / Plaque / Monument: Nil – at this time ( June 2021 )

Edwin Erskine MAY, Edwin MAY, Ed MAY


 EDWIN is NOT mentioned on the Police Wall of Remembrance  *NEED MORE INFO





May they forever Rest In Peace




Australian Police YouTube Channel 


 NSW Fallen Police FB Group.  2 July 2021
Whilst at Waverley cemetery today, 2/7/2021, I paid my respects to –
Senior Constable Edwin Erskine May.
Born c1853, St Giles’s, Middlesex, England.
Died 5/1/1935 at Waverley, NSW.
Edwin married 3 times.
He married Sophie May (nee Margetts (1861-1927) in 1881 in Maitland and they had 12 children.
Sophie is on the headstone and she died at Waverley.
His first wife Annie, married in Queensland, died in Maitland in 1880 and they had 6 children.
He married his 3rd wife in 1932. She died in 1932.



Edwin Erskine MAY - Grave. INSCRIPTION:<br /> SOPHIE<br /> Beloved Wife of Edwin May<br /> Died ?6th July 1927<br /> Aged 66 years 9? Months<br /> At Rest<br /> Also<br /> Edwin MAY<br /> Died 5th Jan. 1935<br /> Aged 82 years<br />
Beloved Wife of Edwin May
Died ?6th July 1927
Aged 66 years 9? Months
At Rest
Edwin MAY
Died 5th Jan. 1935
Aged 82 years


Edwin Erskine MAY - Grave

Edwin Erskine MAY - Grave




Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954),

Saturday 30 March 1895, page 7


Charge against Constables.

In the Summons Division of the Central Police Court yesterday, before Mr. G.W. F. Addison, S.M., Andrew Travers and Thomas Scott, respectively, being constables of New South Wales Police Force, were proceeded against by Sub-Inspector Bell for misconduct, in having, on 16th March, used unnecessary violence to Patrick Maloney, a prisoner in their custody.

The cases were heard together.

Mr Carter Smith appeared for the defendants.

Sub-inspector Bell stated that he laid the informations against the respective defendants by instructions from the superintendent of Police.

He produced reports from defendants, a letter from Mr. Sleath, and one from Maloney.

The defendants were men of good character, efficient and good constables.

After the arrest Constable Travers applied to witness for a summons against Mr Sleath, M.L A.

If witness had acceded, the case would have been heard that day.

If witness had had his way, a summons would have issued, even though witness did receive a letter from Mr. Sleath.

Richard Sleath stated that on 16th March he was in Pitt street about 1 p.m., and saw the defendants opposite the Labour Bureau in a crowd.

They seemed to be engaged in a scuffle.

He saw Constable Travers next the wall with his right hand raised as if striking someone. There was a transit officer with the defendants.

Travers had the right and Scott the left arm of a man, and the transit officer pushed.

Just as witness got up the defendants seemed to stumble.

The prisoner, who was handcuffed, had blood on his face.

Witness saw Travers strike him about the face somewhere, and then catch him by the throat as if attempting to choke him.

Witness asked Travers to desist, but he threatened to tun witness in.

Witness walked to the police station with Travers.

When he threatened to run witness in Travers was so excited that froth came from his mouth. A few seconds later he said, ” Go away, or I’ll lock you up.”

Witness took Travers‘s number. He did not see the other defendant do anything, and had no complaint to make about him.

To Mr. Smith : He did not put his hand on Scott‘s shoulder, and did not remember the exact words used. Prisoner seemed to be resisting right through. Witness was not dragged out of the crowd by a man. He wrote a letter to the effect that Travers struck the man, but did not think he complained of both constables.

P. H. Stack, tram conductor, stated that he saw the defendants with a prisoner between them, and a transit officer behind.

Prisoner resisted all the time with all his force, using both legs and arms.

The man knocked one of the defendants down. Witness thought the constables exercised great patience.

He did not see either of them strike the prisoner. He saw Mr. Sleath rush into the crowd in a very excited manner, and put his face into the constable’s face. He also put his hand on the constable and followed him for some time. The man was not in any way ill-used.

To Mr. Smith : The man got twice as bad after Mr. Sleath came along, jumping and leaping more than ever. Mr. Sleath was most excited.

W. Connelly gave corroborative evidence.

Transit officer Edwin MAY stated that he saw prisoner struggling with Travers in Pitt-street. Scott came up afterwards. Prisoner who was handcuffed, made a blow at Travers, knocking his helmet off ; and witness jumped off the tram, and went to assist Travers.

Prisoner, resisted violently, and at one time they were all on the ground together.

Near the station a man came and said, ” Come, I won’t allow this.” Witness and a constable told him to go away or he’d get locked up.

Someone shouted, ” That’s Mr Sleath the member. ” Someone then took Mr. Sleath away.

There was no violence used to the prisoner, who next morning pleaded guilty to all the charges, and said that he was mad drunk at the time. Mr. Sleath appeared as if he had had drink, and was very excited.

For the defence Constable Andrew Travers stated that no unnecessary violence was used to the prisoner witness had in charge three-quarters of an hour before Constable Scott came up. After Mr. Sleath interfered the prisoner became more violent, and said, ” Old man, I’ll make them carry me. ”

Constable Thomas Scott gave similar evidence.

The case was dismissed.

13 Jul 1912 – Constable Edwin May. – Trove



North Coast Times (Bellingen and Coffs Harbour, NSW : 1888 – 1889),

Friday 28 June 1889, page 2



We regret to learn that Senior Constable Edwin MAY, of Nambucca, is about to be discharged from the police force on the 30th inst., he having just returned from Sydney, where he was subjected to an examination of three doctors, who have certified him as being unfit for further police duty.

It is to be hoped that after 13 years of faithful police duty, during which time he distinguished himself in the arrests of several murderers and other noted defenders, that the Government will certainly reward this worthy officer in accordance with his merit, as he now has to start afresh in the world with only the use of one arm, the loss of the use of the other arm, through an injury received whilst doing his duty, being now the cause of his discharge from the service.

We think that the public throughout the electorate should certainly make some move in the matter to show that they appreciate the services of this noted police officer, as we think he is deserving of some recognition at their hands, moreover as he now is compelled to leave the service where he has devoted the best part of his life to the interests of the public of this colony.

Senior Constable E. May has proved himself to be a most fearless officer.

When station on the Bellinger River, as it is still in the memory of many, the clever arrest of the New Zealand armed murderer John Caffrey, who, we may say, the moments this notorious murderer arrived on the Bellinger, was speedily deprived of his leaded revolver and quietly arrested by this clever officer, who, for that arrest, was accorded great credit and praise by the public press throughout the whole of the colonies.

We wish him prosperity in whatever sphere of life he may now have to follow.

He is also a member of the Masonic Order and we trust that he will not be forgotten by them now that their assistance is needed.

28 Jun 1889 – CONSTABLE MAY. – Trove


According to State Archives – Police Service Registers 1852 – 1913, Edwin first joined the NSWPF on 8 January 1877.

The above newspaper article, dated 28 June 1889 had him being forced out of ‘the job’ on 30 June 1889 after spending 13 years in ‘the job’.

He went out with a Pension.

Again, according to State Archives, the same person rejoined the NSWPF on 4 August 1891.


Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 – 1954),

Friday 19 July 1912, page 7



There are many of the older residents of both the Bellinger and Nambucca who will remember Constable Edwin MAY, who for several years was stationed at Bellingen, and subsequently at Macksville, about 20 years since. Senior-Constable May has just retired from the force, and referring to the fact the “Evening News” becomes reminiscent, and says :—

First-class Constable Edwin MAY, who is about to retire from the N.S. Wales police force on pension, had, during his career as a trooper in the country districts, rather exciting experiences, and it was through his instrumentality that many offenders against law and order were brought to justice.

During an interview with an “Evening News” reporter, MAY said he was a native of London, and arrived in Queensland in 1866, when he was but a youth. He gravitated from the northern metropolis to “out back.” when he became a stockman on Mooloolman Station, then owned by Mr. Augustus Barton, where he was employed for about 5 years. During his spare time, when not engaged in rounding up cattle, his occupation was breaking in horses, at which he became an expert. Tiring of this life, however, he severed his connection with the station, and proceeded to the Mount Perry Copper Mine in the Burnett district, where he followed for a time the occupation of a miner.

After some experience in the mining business, he started on his own account in carrying copper from the mine at Maryborough, which at that time was not connected with the railway system, and he continued up to 1876 to follow the same business.


He then came to Sydney and joined the Mounted Police.

After being trained at the old Belmore Barracks he was transferred to the Maitland district as a trooper under Mr. Morrison, the then superintendent.

Five years later he was made a first-class constable, and was sent to the Macleay district, and put in charge of Boat Harbour station ( now Bellingen ).

In July, 1885, came Constable MAY‘s opportunity of showing to his superior officers what his capabilities were.


The particulars of a most revolting murder at Coffs Harbour — at that time a small settlement on the coast — was reported to the authorities.

The particulars given were that a young man named Mat Matteson, a young Russian Finn, was missing, and on inquiries being instituted no trace of his whereabouts could be ascertained.

Constable MAY was deputed to investigate the matter.

On reaching a hut where the missing man and a countryman of his named Matthew Friske resided, the latter explained that his mate had left, and indicated to MAY the direction in which he thought the missing man had gone.

MAY, however, made an examination of the hut’s contents, and discovered an American axe which had, in his opinion, something like bloodstains on it.

Friske, in answer to a question, said that the stains were only rust.

At the same time MAY noticed a shirt hanging up, having on it apparently what were bloodstains.

When Friske was asked how the stains came to be on the shirt, which he claimed to be his own, he replied that the stains must have remained on it since he killed a pig a couple of months previously.


At the same time MAY noticed some trees burning a little distance away. He and others went to investigate.

On stirring up the ashes nearly a basketful of fragments of a skull, jaw, leg, ribs, and other portions of a human body were discovered. They were so much charred that they could scarcely bear touching, as they crumbled away at the least pressure.

Friske was arrested by MAY on suspicion of having committed the murder.


Later on, a boy on his way home from school discovered the leg of a man lying on an old road, with a sack covering it.

MAY, on being informed of that, picked the limb up and discovered that it had been chopped off at the knee.

When MAY had Friske in custody, he had a rather trying time, as there was no lockup near Coff’s Harbour, so he had to handcuff the prisoner to himself all night.

MAY was, however, rewarded for his trouble, for on the day following upon Friske‘s arrest he described to MAY how he had killed Matteson with an axe, and cut the body up and burned it with the exception of the right leg, which he threw away in the bush.

An inquest was held by Mr. T. C. McKell, P.M., the then coroner, and now a stipendiary magistrate at Newcastle, who ordered the limb to be buried.

The instruction was carried out, and after a lapse of three weeks the Attorney-General ( the late Mr. W. B. Dalley ) ordered that the leg should be exhumed and conveyed to Grafton in spirits for production at the trial of Friske.


In carrying out that portion of his duties MAY nearly lost his life, as he contracted blood poisoning in his left arm and had to go into Grafton Hospital for treatment.

He remained in the institution for about four months, and had no fewer than 11 operations performed on him, which resulted in him losing, for a time, the use of his arm, which gradually grew better.

Friske was executed in the Grafton gaol in December, 1885.


The next episode in Constable MAY‘s career was in connection with what was known as the New Zealand “Barrier Murder.”

In June, 1886, a man named Robert Taylor, a resident, of Tryphena Bay, N.Z., was found murdered.

Two men named John Caffery ( other article name him as McCaffery ) and Henry Albert Penn were supposed to be concerned in the affair.

It was said they stole a small vessel, the Sovereign of the Seas, in which they cleared out from N. Z., accompanied by a young woman and a dog.

After three months at sea it was found that they had scuttled the vessel near Trial Bay, ( NSW ) after they had landed provisions somewhere on the coast between the Hastings and Manning.

The fact was first brought to light through a board being washed ashore near Port Macquarie, having on it the letters “reign.”

This led the authorities to believe that it belonged to the missing ‘Sovereign,’ and the police were naturally put on their metal to get hold of the persons charged with the murder, as a good reward was offered for their arrest.

Naturally anxious to gain the reward, MAY disguised himself as a swagman, with “bluey” up, and started out to do the “Sherlock Holmes” trick.

When near Deep Creek he met a man carrying a swag, and from the description of the wanted man as furnished by the “Police Gazette,” MAY formed the opinion he had come across one of the men, viz., John Caffery.

From the information supplied, Caffery was supposed to be an individual of most dangerous tendencies. His age was about 36, and a powerfully built man. He could, it is said, swing a 200lb. bag of flour with ease, and was described as a man of unbridled passions.

To him Ned Kelly was the ideal of a hero, and it was known that he had expressed the intention of some day seizing a craft, and making for Australia to join or organise a band of bushrangers.

Having in view the characteristics of the wanted man, MAY was naturally careful in his procedure, more especially as it had been reported that Caffery was armed with a loaded revolver.

“I feigned to be looking for work,” MAY told the reporter, “and I asked him where I could get a job. He said there was no work the way he came, so he and I agreed to go together to the Clarence district as mates, where we would probably, get a job of canecutting.”

After crossing the Bellinger punt, MAY had a good survey of his companion, to endeavour to find out where he carried his revolver, and having ascertained this, he revealed his identity as a N.S.W. constable, and quickly placed the handcuffs on the man, who denied being identical with Caffery.

In his swag was found a six-chambered loaded revolver, as well as eleven spare cartridges.

A few days after Caffery was lodged in the lockup, and when shown a photograph purporting to be his, he admitted he was Caffery, and gave information where his late companion Penn was to be found camped on the beach near Trial Bay.


Both Caffery and Penn were extradited to New Zealand, where they were placed upon trial, found guilty of the murder, and eventually hanged.

For his share in the matter MAY was promoted to the rank of senior-constable, and was given a substantial portion of the reward offered for the arrest of the murderers.


Another arrest was made by MAY under somewhat exciting circumstances of an aboriginal named Sandy, for murdering his gin.

Although a warrant had been in existence for some nine months, it was found difficult to locate the man.

MAY received information which led him to believe that he was at the blacks’ camp at the Bellinger River. On going there he found him among a mob of thirty aboriginals and took him into custody, but before he was able to get his prisoner from the camp MAY had to point his revolver to keep the others at bay, as they threatened to kill him with their tomahawks.

Sandy was subsequently brought to Sydney, where he was tried for the crime before the late Mr. Justice Windeyer, found guilty of manslaughter only, and sentenced to twelve months gaol.


In 1889, when MAY was stationed at Nambucca River, the arm which was previously injured while in the execution of his duty, became very weak, and he was compelled to come to Sydney for medical advice.

After being examined by the Government doctors, he was certified as being unfit for further service, and discharged from the force.

That was very unfortunately for him, as the Inspector-General, Mr. Fosbery, told him that he intended to promote him to sergeant.

In 1891 the arm was well again, when Mr. Fosbery found him employment under the old Transit Commission, with which body he was connected for about nine years, until the present Traffic Act came into force.


MAY was then allowed to re-enter the force as a first-class constable, and did traffic duty for about five years.

Through failing health he was transferred to the Newtown division, where he did station duty right up to the time he went on leave, the other day, prior to finally severing his connection with the force.


19 Jul 1912 – FAMOUS CRIMES RECALLED. – Trove




Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer (NSW : 1898 – 1954),

Friday 25 October 1929, page 9

Reminiscences from Bygone Days.

Gloucester’s first police OFFICER.

Mr. Edwin MAY revisits Gloucester after Fifty Years.

Mr. Edwin MAY, father of the City Coroner, Mr. E. A. MAY, and who established the first police station in the Gloucester district, arrived at Gloucester on Wednesday last on a short visit.

In 1877 Mr. MAY was a constable stationed at Dungog, and was sent, with Constable David Cowan, of Stroud, up to Copeland to investigate the case of a man who had been killed there in a brawl.

Copeland was then known as Back Creek, Barrington, and there were about 1000 miners on the field.


It continued to be called Back Creek until about two years after thee field was discovered, when Mr. Henry Copeland, member for the Northern Goldfields, visited the place. This was in 1878.

The miners gave him a wonderful reception and banquet, “filling him with champagne and even, his boots with Port wine.”

They then named the place Copeland in his honour, and Copeland it has remained to this day.

While here Mr. MAY received instructions to open a police station at Gloucester. This was in December 1877.

This first building was a hut on the site of the present Commercial Hotel.

He was appointed the Police Officer and acting Clerk of Petty Sessions. Mr. E. Sharpe was the first magistrate.

The following year 1878, a police station and court house were built at Copeland, the contractor being a man named Priddle.


At this time Gloucester had an hotel on the corner, where Phillips’ now stands, kept by a man named Harvey Robinson, who had married the widow of the previous licensee, Mr. Brown.

After Mr. MAY was here some months another hotel was established by George Gorton, who with a man, who was only known by the name of Long Jack, was drowned in the billabong opposite the town.

The first post office was near Street & Parish‘s store, and was kept by a man named Herkes.

Afterwards it was near McLean‘s blacksmith shop, the postmasters being Brideskirt and Studdart.

Mr. MAY remained in Gloucester till June 1880, when he was transferred to Maitland, and from thence to Bullahdelah in 1881, where he was promoted to first-class constable.

From there he went to Paterson and in 1884 to Boat Harbour — now Bellingen.


It was while in the North Coast district that Mr. MAY made a name for himself in the force by capturing, on different occasions, three men wanted for murder.

The first he laid by the heels was Matthew Frith, who was Wanted for the murder of his mate, Matthew Matterson near Coff’s Harbour in 1885.

Frith was sentenced to death by Judge Fawcett and paid the full penalty for his crime at Grafton Gaol, being the first execution at that place.

Mr. MAY remembers that the accused was defended by Mr. Gibson who was afterwards Judge Gibson, and who was killed in a motor accident.

On another occasion he arrested an aborigine for the murder of his gin, and despite the menaces of the whole tribe, brought his prisoner safely to the lock-up.


But the most exciting episode of his career was the arrest of John McCaffrey, who with an accomplice, Henry Penn, murdered Robert Taylor at the Barrier Islands, New Zealand.

McCaffrey was the captain of the ketch, “Sovereign of the Seas,” which belonged to the Auckland firm of Henderson and Spraggin, and traded down along the New Zealand coast from Auckland, visiting the Barrier Islands.

McCaffrey had fallen in love with the daughter of a settler named Robert Taylor, but his attentions were unwelcome both to the daughter and the parents. He had said to the father and mother, “I will have Annie,” — which was the girl’s name.

Accompanied by Penn, who had with him a girl of 15 named Grace Graham, whom he had picked up in the streets of Auckland, McCaffrey visited the Barrier Island and went ashore in the dingy.

They went to Taylor‘s residence and the old man came to the door. Penn asked him for a pound of butter, when McCaffrey said, “We have come to get Annie,” — who was about 20 years of age.

The girl heard them and got away through a back window.

When McCaffrey found the girl was not there he gave Taylor five minutes to live if she was not found.

Penn then got hold of Taylor and forced him to his knees and McCaffrey blew his brains out with a revolver.

They afterwards got on board their boat and put out to sea and hoisted a black flag.

After three months at sea they came in sight of land, which they thought was America, but which proved to be the Queensland coast.

They travelled along south until they came off Sydney Heads, which McCaffrey recognised.

They then turned and went back north, and when between Trial Bay and Crescent Head — near the Macleay — they went ashore in the dingy and made a camp.

They then scuttled the vessel, which sank.

A fortnight after a gale came up and parts of the vessel were washed ashore at Port Macquarie, and recognised as parts of the “Sovereign of the Seas,” in which the New Zealand murderers had escaped.

All the police along the coast were instructed to keep a sharp look out for the fugitives.

Shortly after landing, the men quarrelled over the girl and decided to fight a duel on the beach with revolvers.

This was prevented by the girl who threatened McCaffrey with a loaded gun. McCaffrey then left them.

He made a swag out of a black rug and rolled it collar fashion. He came to the Macleay Heads and got across to the Nambucca side and walked on towards the Bellingen Heads.

At Deep Creek a contractor, George Moore, gave him a job for two or three days to paint the bridge. He then continued on his way towards Bellingen Heads.

Constable MAY decided that his best chance of coming in contact with the man, if he was in his district, was to disguise himself as a swagman.

Consequently the third day after he had received his instructions to keep a look-out for the wanted men, he packed his swag on an old pony and started away.

He went through Fernmount and crossed the punt at South Arm.

He met several people whom he knew, but in his disguise they did not recognise him.

He went on towards Deep Creek, and about five miles along the road he met a man carrying a swag collar fashion over his left shoulder.

Sergeant MAY said good day to him, and the man replied and said, “Are you looking for work? There is none the way I came, and I wouldn’t advise you to go that way.”

The man had a close cropped beard and was apparently about 35 years of age, and also had his ears pierced. In the description given of him, McCaffrey was wearing gold earrings, and was stated to carry a loaded revolver.

When he said there was no work, Constable MAY said, “Well I’ll go back, I can get work cane cutting on the Clarence. McCaffrey answered, “That’s where I’m making for, we’ll go mates if you like.” They shook hands on it, and Constable MAY said, “Take your swag off, and I’ll tie it on the old pony’.’ He said, “No, I’ll carry it. It is not heavy.”

Constable MAY said, “Please yourself.”

They walked side by side, the Constable being careful not to mention New Zealand, for he knew the man carried a loaded revolver, and would use it on the slightest suspicion.

They came to the punt, a hand one worked by a boy named Box.

McCaffrey then, for the first time, took his swag off, laying it down at his feet.

When the punt was half way over Constable MAY said, “I am a Constable and I am looking for a man of your description. I want to search you.” He put his hands up, but no weapon could be found. The Constable then picked up the swag and a fully loaded revolver rolled out. It had been in the fold of the swag and McCaffrey had had his right hand on the trigger the whole time they had been together.

As soon as it rolled out Constable MAY grabbed it, and handcuffed him.

McCaffrey said to him, “Had I known you were a Constable I would have shot you like a dog. I had intended to shoot you coming along the road, but I did not think you had enough on you to make it worth while. I had intended to shoot the police down one after another rather than they would take me, and then shoot my self.”

Constable MAY said to him, “Where is your mate, Penn?” McCaffrey said, “Penn is dead and the girl too. They were drowned, but I swam ashore.”

This was the first the police knew of a girl being with them.

Shortly after Constable McLennan, at Trial Bay, was telling Dr. Casement of the capture of McCaffrey and that Penn, and a girl with him, had been drowned, when the Constable’s son said, “Oh, there’s a man and a girl living on the beach.”

McLennan went down. They admitted their identity, and he arrested them.

The trio were eventually remanded to Auckland, where the girl turned Queen’s evidence and was acquitted and McCaffrey and Penn found guilty and hanged.

No one in New Zealand could be found to hang the men, so the New South Wales hangman, Howard — known as “Nosey Bob” — went over and did the job.

The girl, Grace Graham, returned to Sydney where, known to the police as Zara White and many other aliases, she led a life of crime, dying about 8 years ago in Long Bay gaol.

After attaining the rank of Senior Constable, Mr. MAY retired from the force on account of an injury to the arm, and from 1880 to 1900 was a member of the Transit Commission in Sydney, and when their duties were taken over by the police, again joined the force as a traffic officer, being last attached to the No. 5 Newtown Station, finally retiring in 1912.

Mr. MAY has now reached the age of 79 years, yet is wonderfully active and retains the same keenness of memory that characterised him in the heyday of his life.



Constable May, with the Copeland Gold Escort at Gloucester, 1879.
Constable MAY, with the Copeland Gold Escort at Gloucester, 1879.


25 Oct 1929 – Reminiscences from Bygone Days. – Trove


Maitland Daily Mercury (NSW : 1894 – 1939),

Monday 7 January 1935, page 2

MR. E. E. MAY.

Ex-Sergeant’s Death

Mr. Edwin Erskine MAY, retired police sergeant and father of Mr. E. A. MAY, S.M., ex-City Coroner, died on Saturday, aged 82.

He joined the police force at 21, and served in Sydney and at Dungog, Gloucester, Bulahdelah, Bellingen, and Macksville.

In 1885, when stationed at Bellingen ( then called Boat Harbour ) he arrested in one year three men charged with murder.

He was out of the force for eight years with a hand injury, but returned to spend 22 years in the traffic, police.

07 Jan 1935 – MR. E. E. MAY – Trove


Sydney Morning Herald

Monday 7 January 1935, page 5

MAY.— The Relatives and Friends of the late Mr. EDWIN ERSKINE MAY (late of N.S.W. Police), are kindly invited to attend his Funeral; to leave our Parlour, 262 Oxford-street, Woollahra, THIS ( Monday ) MORNING at 10.30, for Waverley Cemetery.






Nothing further, than what is recorded above, is known about this person at the time of publication and further information and photos would be appreciated.


30 June 2021