Said Ahmad – Ahmed – Hamid Shah

Said Ahmad – Ahmed – Hamid Shah

High Priest Said Hamid Shah Died 2 April 1911 - Headstone. Photograph: Crystal Jordan 2010

High Priest Said Hamid Shah Died 2 April 1911 – Headstone.
Photograph: Crystal Jordan 2010

© Crystal Jordan and Len Kenna

Said Ahmad Shah also known as Ahmed and Hamid was a tall well built man, and a Moslem High Priest who was born in India about 1867.  He was also a Hawker in Australia and travelled throughout Victoria. He owned a large property at Benalla and was well known in the Benalla area.  On ocassions he walked up to 20 miles to obtain his Hawker’s License and on one occasion in 1909, he turned up one week early at the Benalla Court to renew his Hawkers License.  He left his License at the court hoping it would be renewed in his absence, but he was denied a license as under Victorian law at that time, Hawkers had to be in attendance at the time of making the application.[1] In January 1906 Ahmad left four axes, two mattocks, one 6 x 8 tent, white metal chains, a musical clock, and a quantity of tweed clothes and jewellery, valued at £14, in a shed on his property at Rothesay and when he returned home from his Hawking round in May 1906 he discovered that his property had been stolen.[2]  

Ahmad Shah, aged about 44 years,[3] was shot dead on the 2 April 1911 at East Warburton by John Cable Polley, a labourer during a dispute regarding a cottage that Ahmad Shah intended to purchase from Polley.[4]

At the time of his death his estate of 200 acres 1 rood 30 perches was in three lots in the Parish of Rothesay and adjoined the propery of Mr. Patrick Flynn.[5]  The three lots were offered for sale by Public Auction at the Benalla Hotel, Benalla, on the 2 August 1911 but apparently they were not all were sold as two lots were offered for sale on January 1912.[6]  The lots were as follows:

  1. Lot 1, Crown allot. 43b, parish of Rothsay, containing 124a 3r 3p freehold, on which is erected a tin hut. (this land was purchased from the executors of Hugh Moodie an Iron and Timber Merchant at Benalla in 1905)[7]
  2. Lot 2, Crown allot. 42, parish of Rothsay, containing 70a 2r 27p leasehold.
  3. Lot 3, Crown allot. 44A parish of Rothsay containing 5 acres, and was known as the School Reserve.

On the 23rd September 1911 Ahmad’s possession consisting of a Spring Dray, Bedsteads, Bedding, Linoleum, Tables, Axes, Boxes of Sundries, and a host of smaller articles were sold at Public Auction in Stewart’s Yard at rear of Benalla Hotel.[8] 

The remains of Said Ahmad Shah, were interred in the Moslem Section, Compartment: P, Grave No: 6, of the Coburg Cemetery on the 4th 1911.[9]  Said Jelanie Shah, who succeeded the deceased as the High Priest of the Moslems in Victoria, read prayers for purification over the body.  Jelanie Shah supervised the ceremony.  About 30 Moslems took part in the funeral procession and at the graveside.  Jelanie Shah, after the funeral service, spoke feelingly of the virtue of the deceased as man and priest. 

An inquest into the cause of death was held on the the body of the deceased by Dr. Cole, Coroner at the Warburton Court on the 11 April 1911, Detective Jenkins was engaged to collect evidence.[10]

It was found that Polley shot Said Ahmad Shah in the leg and he subsequently bled to death. Polley was charged with Shah’s murder. At the murder trial Polley pleaded not guilty due to self defence and he was aquitted.[11]

[1] Hawker’s licenses Benalla Standard, Vic., Friday 17 December 1909, p. 2.

[2] Larcenies Benalla Standard, Vic., Friday 25 May 1906, p. 2.

[3] Ahmed Shah – recorded as aged 38 years on death certificate and aged 44 years on Coburg Cemetery Record.

[4] Benalla Standard, Vic., Tuesday 4 April 1911, p. 2.

[5] Benalla Standard, Vic., Tuesday 8 August 1911, p. 2.

[6] Benalla Standard, Vic., Tuesday 9 January 1912, p. 2.

[7] Gazetted Notices. Benalla Standard, Vic., Friday 17 February 1905, p. 1.

[8] Clearing Sale, Sundries Etc., Benalla Standard, Vic., Tuesday 19 September 1911, p. 2.

[9] Coburg Cemetery Records and Photograph of grave by Crystal Jordan.

[10] The Warburton Tragedy, Funeral of the Victim. Barrier Miner, Broken Hill, Saturday 8 April 1911, p.6.

[11] Kenna, Len, Jordan, Crystal, Are Indians An Ethnic Minority? Volumes 4 and 5, 2014.

© Crystal Jordan and Len Kenna