Police file – General – 12th January 1887


The Police File


Coburg Jan 12th 1887

Acting Colonial Secretary
Perth Western Australia

Dear Sir,

I duly received your telegram but thought it best after consulting a friend high in authority here to reply in writing as to my giving you the name of the vile scoundrel that killed my dear son. any person that you ask in Perth will inform you it is in everybody’s mouth. A Mr G. Pattinson who lived some months in Perth told all his friends of it but I have carefully avoided naming him as I have lost enough without having an action for damages. Further I am [?] in a positive opinion. The detective officer I sent to Roebourne last June has no doubt on the subject. That worthy man Colonel Angelo is cognicant of it also – if you will kindly instruct the police authorities at Roebourne to take the evidence of the man who was last seen in my son’s company and that of the woman who milked his cow and brought it to the bank every morning something may come out to warrant the swearing of an information that will warrant an arrest of the suspected persons. Had I sent Inspector Brown instead of the man I did all would have come out; I sent all the detective reports to Inspector of the Union Bank Melbourne. They gave the names plain enough. When my son was in Cossack on his way home with the bones of my boy the suspected individual suddenly dropped in a fit in meeting him unawares. Sufficient proof of his guilt I say as a Justice of the Peace of 28 years experience of criminals. In conclusion I thank you from my heart for your kind intentions.

I am your [?]

W. Anketell
[Note: William Anketell, brother of Thomas, travelled from Coburg Victoria to Roebourne to exhume his brother’s body and return it to Victoria to lie with other members of the family . It is probable that the coffin of Thomas Anketell was on the back of a cart accompanied by his brother as they passed along the Cossack streets to reach the port. Such a sight may well have unhinged the “suspected individual”. I also wonder if there was a strong resemblance between William Anketell and his brother Thomas as is often the case in families. If this was the case, the individual in question coming unawares upon the procession may have briefly thought he was seeing a live Thomas Anketell.

It is my belief that the “suspected individual” refered to is Roderick McRae. I base this opinon upon other reports of his behaviour that were similar and the fact that William Anketell Snr was concerned about being sued for defamation. It is unlikely William would have had this fear if the “suspected individual” had been from the “lower” or Asian classes. William was treading very carefully.

Unfortunately the detective reports seem to have “disappeared”. Peter Marinick, Archivist at the ANZ Group Archives did an extensive search up until 1889 but the reports could not be found.]

randum was intended. A guess would be the Commissioner for Police? The memorandum was signed with a large cross and the initials Y.Z. The author prefered to be anonymous. However, I believe it was written by Detective George Gurney as the handwriting matches his later signed reports.]