Isn't it funny how everyone just accepts what has been written in books without a second thought? Even when primary sources are given, how many actually follow up to be sure things are correct or that the proper reading comprehension was in play? That is one thing I learned from being friends with Stuart Dawson - turn over every rock and fully examine everything. I was looking for something else in the PROV archives online and stumbled over some things that made me search further.
NOTE: POSTS AT ELEVEN MILE CREEK ARE ARCHIVED MONTHLY. IF YOU ARRIVE HERE AND THE LANDSCAPE LOOKS BLEAK AND STARK GO TO THE BLOG ARCHIVES. THERE IS WHERE YOU WILL FIND THE VERDANCY.
Sunday, October 22, 2023
Ann Jones was not friends with Sgt Kennedy, nor was she invited to stay with his family! [Sharon Hollingsworth]
Sunday, July 16, 2023
Recently on ebay US I found this Ned Kelly Gang themed silk scarf. I had not searched ebay for Kelly stuff for a while and was surprised to see this item that was first listed in April still available in July. Total price with shipping and tax only came to $37.72. I figure that there were not as many buyers of Kelly stuff here in the United States versus down in Australia. I have taken photos of the scenes in the border part to better show off the details of the Kelly exploits.
Thursday, March 16, 2023
|Little JoJo checking out Justice in Kelly Country.|
Our verdict is two thumbs/paws up!
Ok, I have finally gotten a copy of "Justice in Kelly Country: The story of the cop who hunted Australia's most notorious bushrangers" by Lachlan Strahan. The cop being Constable Anthony Strahan, the great-great-grandfather of the author.
First off, I have to say that I really enjoyed it. But, those who know me, know that I am going to point out a few niggling things. I am still a bit baffled why the kindle price (today at $31.34 US) is nearly neck and neck with the print copy price (today at $32.99 US). I got a bargain at $30.99 it seems!
The intro with the alleged oral history of Strahan and the Kellys meeting up really sort of threw me (never mind that it was said Ellen was imprisoned in Pentridge!!) but it was along the lines of how in "Ned Kelly: a Short Life" Ian Jones had written the SBC event as Ned thinking he was seeing Flood and Strahan rather than it being Lonigan and McIntyre. Then we had a lengthy Old Testament type section of so-and-so beget so-and-so who beget so-and-so. I can't tell you how happy I was to get to page 17 when Anthony Strahan finally got on the ship to Australia.
Monday, February 20, 2023
Recently on a Ned Kelly facebook page we have been discussing what type of engine (coal or wood?) might have been used for the Police Special and for the engine that ultimately carried the carriage cars of the Police Special into Glenrowan as their engine had been damaged on the way. When the train from Melbourne arrived in Benalla with O'Connor and the others to meet up with Hare and his troopers for the expected journey to Beechworth it was decided that the engine of the Police Special should be used as the Pilot Engine to go ahead of the Police Special and that an engine at Benalla having been warming up for a while should carry the Police Special cars.
until she would be clear of all points and crossings. Knowing the
road perfectly, as I felt her going over the last pair, I had just
taken it off and was going over to the other side of the Engine when I
felt a crash and found myself knocked up into a corner. I found on
gathering myself together that I had gone through a heavy pair of iron
gates which had been left across the rails from the carelessness of
the person in charge. This accident carried away my tender hand brake,
also the gear of the automatic brake, leaving leaving me almost
helpless as too stopping power with the exception of reversing the
Engine and using the steam against her. However I accomplished the
journey to Benalla, a distance of 122 miles, in 2 hours and a 1/4. On
getting there they put [some men] on the train with horses for the
troopers. I then objected to go any further with the train as
considering the condition of my engine and being unable to stop in a
proper manner that it would be highly dangerous life. There was another
Engine ready on the Station for the purpose of going ahead it being
night if possible to prevent the police from falling into an ambush.
Considering the importance of the case, I got this Engine to take
charge of the train as she would have the brake power to stop it quick
if required and that I would go ahead about a mile with my Engine as
pilot and give the warning, if possible, of danger. I accordingly,
proceeding with the utmost care and caution..."
Sunday, June 27, 2021
Trainstopping: The Varied Outcomes in A. Bertram Chandler's Fictional Glenrowan [Sharon Hollingsworth]
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Here is the link to my review of it with comments from the author - http://elevenmilecreek.
Wednesday, June 26, 2019
Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Sunday, November 4, 2018
Note that this article was written for the now defunct glenrowan1880 website back in September of 2008. I used what resources I had to hand back then but there may be more out there now that Trove and other books and resources are so readily available.
DID THEY REALLY FIRE 15,000 ROUNDS AT THE SIEGE OF GLENROWAN?
BY SHARON HOLLINGSWORTH
Have you ever wondered about how many rounds were fired during the
Siege of Glenrowan?
I never did, until I read an article back in May of 2008 wherein the
project director of the Glenrowan Inn Dig said that the siege was a
"brutal gun battle" in which "15,000 rounds were fired." To be fair,
another article stated that "up to 15,000" rounds were fired (so that
gives a slight leeway).
I have no idea where he got that figure from, whether it was from a
book, the archives, or from an historian (and if so, where did
they get it?). I had an immediate kneejerk reaction and knew that the
figure had to have been grossly inflated. It has been on my mind ever
since then, so I decided to look at the facts and figures to see if it were even
possible to have that much firing going on.
First, we need to find out the number of "combatants" involved. There
were 4 members of the Kelly Gang, of course, but let's see how many
police arrived...Superintendent Hare arrived at 3 AM with 7 policemen, along with Sub-Inspector O'Connor and his 5 black trackers. Hare subsequently left the field of battle early on after getting wounded. There were also 4 members of the press and a civilian (Rawlins) who all were able to shoot if necessary, and if arms were available (newspaper reporter Joe Melvin came with his own revolver). Reinforcements did not arrive until after the 5 AM hour when Steele
arrived on horseback with his Wangaratta contingent (with 2 arriving
by train) and Bracken who had ridden there to alert them (this makes 8). Sadleir also arrived during the 5 AM hour with 11 policemen, 2 black trackers and
3 civilians (among those Jesse Dowsett), and around 9 AM Mullane
arrived with 10 more police. A handful more (about 4) showed up at
Noon and Standish and Ward were the latest arrivals, coming to
Glenrowan when it was all over. Given the number of police plus the
outlaws (and taking civilians and reporters out of the equation),
let's distill it down to a good round number we can work with for the sake of argument, maybe say 55 total combatants (your mileage may vary!).
We have established the timeframe for the earliest arrivals at around
3 AM. The end would have been sometime past 3 PM when the Inn was
fired (accounts vary as to the exact time of the firing of it), so it
was around a 12 hour event.
So, our parameters are set. If 15,000 rounds were fired in 12 hours
that would mean that each of the approximate 55 combatants would have
had to have fired on average 273 rounds for the 12 hours, or approximately 23
rounds each per hour. Of course, even allowing for reloading time, it
would be easy for an individual to fire 23 rounds an hour for a
sustained period of twelve hours, but in this case it is not possible
given the other variables present. As shown above, many arrived on the
scene late, and were present for less than 12 hours. No one fired for
anything like twelve hours continuously as there were long lulls in
the firing. Ned himself was hors de combat after five hours and Joe
Byrne was shot and killed even before then.
As for the police, O'Connor testified to the Royal Commission Board that the heaviest firing of the day was before any reinforcements at all had arrived. There was one man there who bragged that he had fired around a hundred rounds that day, BUT there were many who testified that they fired much less and there were many of the police who did not fire a single shot during the entire siege!
The reason why some did not fire at all was that the weapons they had were of no use against the building (such as the breech loading double barrelled shot guns, Spencer rifles and Webley or Colt revolvers), they would only be of
use if the gang were to come outside. Those that had the long
Martini-Henry rifles and the shorter Martini-Henry carbines, and
Snider rifles (O'Connor and his trackers had the latter) were able to
fire at the Inn with effectiveness.
What Sub-Inspector Montfort had later said to the Royal Commission
about the the police in the NE District is very interesting: "They are
armed like a Turkish brigade, with all kinds of weapons." He had
suggested that all the men should be issued Martini-Henry carbines
(supposedly for ease of use and carrying and to make resupply of
ammunition easier too..more on the ammo in a bit..).
Let's look at some more of the information I have gleaned from the
Minutes of Evidence Taken Before Royal Commission On The Police Force
During the first volley fired, when there were not so
many on the battleground, it was estimated by one policemen that the
gang fired 40 or 50 shots and that the police fired twice as many.
Constable William Duross said he fired 24 or 25 cartridges from a
Spencer repeating rifle.
Constable Thomas Dowling says he fired about 100 rounds, but that "I
believe several of them did not fire so many."
Constable Arthur had a Martini-Henry Carbine and was served out with
20 rounds when he left Benalla and "kept nearly all of it." He claimed
to have fired 10 rounds at the verandah when the gang had come out and
then Constable Kelly later gave him another 5 rounds.
One man said he fired his Spencer rifle 3 or 4 times (that would be
around 21 cartridges).
Constable Kirkham was armed with a Martini-Henry rifle and testified
that he might have used 40 rounds and had 2 revolvers that he did not
fire at all.
Constable Barry said that he fired 25 shots from a Martini carbine.
Constable Reilly testified that he did not fire at all as he had a
In Hare's party, only he and Constable Canny had the double barrelled
shotguns, and in the Wangaratta contingent, Steele and some of his men
(including Dwyer, who also had a Colt revolver) had them also, but
others in the party had the long Martini-Henry and "old Enfield
Constable Phillips had the Martini-Henry rifle and Sr. Constable Kelly
had the Martini Carbine.
So, we have established that many of the police did not fire at all
and those that did seemed to have fired much less than 100 rounds
Also, they did not fire continuously, they were instructed to only
fire when the outlaws came to the doors or windows or when the gang
fired at them. They were also told to open fire in order to give
cover, such as when Constable Johnston set fire to the Inn, though
some did fire at other times. It was reported that the trackers did
indiscriminate and heavy firing and a few days after the siege one of
the constables who revisited the siege site found many shell casings
in the trench or what the Commission (and others) referred to as "the
Regarding the ammunition situation, the regulation number of rounds was:
20 balls Martini....24 for guns....18 for revolvers.
However, they got extra ammunition during the siege.
George Allen said that he and the other reporters on the platform "had
emptied the [train] van of all its contents, the luggage and
ammunition, and stuff to find ammunition for the men, a lot of the
saddles and stuff, and piled those up.."
A telegram was sent to Benalla to send up more ammunition, also.
According to Sgt. Whelan, there was a small cask with Martini-Henry
and Carbine Rifle ammunition (which held 500 rounds) and not all of
that was used and there was lots of loose ammunition besides that.
Reporter McWhirter testified that:
"Many of the men had taken wrong ammunition with them, and the
consequences was that they had to send back for ammunition, and Mr.
Melvin and myself sorted the carbine and Martini Henry ammunition and
gave it out to the men as the messengers came to the station for it."
Rawlins took the first lot out (and had taken the wrong kind and had
to go back for the correct kind...I am wondering if that is what
McWhirter might have been referring to? or was it a separate event?)
and then Sr. Constable Kelly took some around and Phillips came for
One of the Royal Commissioners made this statement about the Glenrowan
siege: "It has been stated there was a great deal of ammunition
uselessly expended there."
That statement may be true, but there is no way that 15,000 rounds
were expended given all the evidence!
Something that Max Brown said in "Australian Son" about the sending
for of a cannon to blow down the Inn to get Steve and Dan to surrender
sounds slightly more reasonable as to how much firepower and ordance
might have been used that day (at least on the police end):
"As if 2,000 bullets and fifty troopers were not enough!"
If that figure is close to being right (and I have no idea if it is or
not, even considering all the criteria from above), then I seriously
doubt that the 4 outlaws fired off the remaining 13,000 rounds!
Saturday, November 3, 2018
Other myth busting efforts Stuart has done (not including all of the varied comments he has made at the Kelly Legend Blog) are as follows -
Redeeming Fitzpatrick: Ned Kelly and the Fitzpatrick Incident
Ned Kelly and the Myth of a Republic of North-eastern Victoria
Ned Kelly's Last Words: "Ah, Well, I Suppose"
Ned Kelly's Shooting of George Metcalf, Labourer
Friday, September 21, 2018
With the recent passing of Professor John Molony (https://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/act/anu-historian-john-molony-dead-at-91-20180920-p5050a.html) I recalled this 2006 interview Dave White conducted with him via email correspondence that had been on Dave's glenrowan1880 website.
Professor Molony, I would like to take this opportunity to
thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit with us
here at Glenrowan1880. It is truly an honour.
For those who perhaps are not familiar with your academic career,
I will take a moment to give just a few of your impressive credentials
if I may.
John Neylon Molony has previously been Professor of History and Manning
Clark Professor of Australian History at the Australian National
University, Canberra, Keith Cameron Professor of Australian History at
University College, Dublin and Foundation Research Professor of the
Australian Catholic University. He is currently Visiting Fellow,
Australian Dictionary of Biography, at the Australian National
Now on to my questions.
DAVE WHITE: Professor Molony, your book, "I am Ned Kelly" (1980,
reissued as "Ned Kelly," 2001) is a seminal work, a true classic in its
field. It is very well researched, and in it you present many
interesting theories, some in variance to other modern Kelly authors. In
the preface you state: "In the end it all remained a matter of trying to
understand, to unravel the tangled skein of a life over which legend
cast its spell so that reality has become secondary." It does seem that
Ned Kelly took on the status of legend and myth even while he lived. You
have done much to give us all a greater understanding of Ned Kelly, the
man, especially as concerns the Irish Catholic aspect of his background.
Much of that information I found to be quite illuminating.
I would like to ask you when was it that you decided to do a biography
of Ned Kelly? Up until that point, did Ned Kelly have a hold on your
imagination or have a special significance to you (as an historian)?
Also, has your interest in (or love for) Ned's story diminished at all
since the publication of "I am Ned Kelly" 25 years ago?
JOHN MOLONY: I decided to write my Kelly book in 1978 as a reaction to
a decision taken by a Victorian anniversaries committee not to commemorate
the centenary of Ned's death in 1980. To the members of that committee Ned was
unworthy of any recognition, but to me any attempt to eliminate his
memory was both absurd and futile.
It was absurd because most Australians, irrespective of whether they
judge Ned harshly or favourably, accept that his memory is woven into the
psyche of the nation. It was futile because legends are created by the
people as a kind of spontaneous response to a phenomenon that strikes a
chord in their being. Ned is an Australian legend and the people will
not relinquish their legends at the whim of right-minded, but
unrepresentative, conservatives. "As brave as Ned Kelly" is not a phrase
Up to the time of my decision to write about Ned I had been uneasy about
him because he did not fit into the framework of my own Irish Catholic
background, which was essentially middle class and conformist. I was
only vaguely aware of the harshness pervading the economic and social
circumstances that had shaped Ned and entirely ignorant of the
persecution to which the Kelly clan had been subjected by the police and
other authorities. It had struck me as odd that no academic historian
had written a life of Kelly. Why were they silent on a national figure?
I can only say that my respect for Ned has in no sense diminished and I
hold him in higher esteem than I did in the 1980s. I do so because I
have become more fully aware of how anyone who departs from the norm,
much more anyone who rejects the norm, suffers when the organs of wealth
and so called respectability are fused in support of a government
determined to control society according to its own standards. For one
like Ned the situation becomes far worse when the authorities conclude
that they must protect society from anyone they judge to be a threat to
DAVE WHITE: How long did "I am Ned Kelly" take from the first bit of
research to the last touches on the manuscript when it was finally
pronounced finished? Of course, all that was being done between your
family and work obligations, too, wasn't it? Not an easy task, I am
sure, as I am finding out for myself as I work on a book.
JOHN MOLONY: Throughout the two and a half years I spent in researching
and writing Ned I was mostly confined to my desk in Canberra as head of the History
Department here at the Australian National University. However I enjoyed
the inestimable assistance of Robin Carter who undertook a great deal of
useful research for me in Melbourne and especially in the State
Archives. The involvement of my family was a day-to-day affair and I
dedicated my Ned to my four children. I left the dedication of my book
on Eureka to my wife who was born in Ballarat.
It was never an easy task to write about Ned. We must remember that Ned
partly became a legend because others spoke on his behalf and they began
to do so in ballads even in his own lifetime. Except in the Jerilderie
letter and when he was in the dock, Ned had few chances to speak for
himself. Those who persecuted him, the police and the government,
created his records, as well as those of his mates and of his people.
This helps to explain why it is not easy to come close to Ned because
much of what we know of him is coloured by the way his enemies have told
their own crooked story of him.
Sidney Nolan told me that he was driven by a sense of guilt because his
grandfather was one of the police who hunted Ned. As a result he
repeatedly struggled valiantly in his endeavour to make Ned live a
little for us. Yet it happens often in his paintings that you look at
the helmet and Ned is not there - you see through the helmet and
there is only the land. Nolan wanted it that way and I am sure Ned, who
loved the land, would accept that Sid did it well. But to me the
important thing is that we all share a kind of empty legend. That makes
it possible for us to fill it out with the Ned who says something to us
and to the land from which he sprang.
DAVE WHITE: The Siege of Glenrowan has always been the most fascinating
aspect of the Kelly story to me. Could you give us a brief overview/synopsis of
the Siege and Ned Kelly's Last Stand from your point of view telling us
what it means to you and also why the event was so important from an
historical viewpoint? Also, Professor, the theory put forth about the
"rebellion" Ned had planned has always perplexed me. Could you shed some
light on this? Also do you think that documentation for this rebellion
JOHN MOLONY: In all that I wrote about Ned I took his own account of
his life as my starting point. In other words I believed what he said of himself and
continued to do so unless I found evidence to the contrary. I never
caught him out in a lie. As an example, I believed Ned when he wrote in
the Jerilderie letter that he was not in Victoria when Fitzpatrick
visited the Greta home on 15 April 1878. All the evidence proved that
Fitzpatrick was both a scoundrel and a liar and it was inconceivable to
me that Ned could have stood within a few feet of the constable, shot at
him several times in a room half full of women and children, missed his
target but hit him in the wrist. It sounded like a stupidly foolish
concoction to me, which Fitzpatrick had to make up to explain why he was
at the home in the first place as well as to cover his tracks in case he
was accused of attempting to rape Kate. In other words I believed Ned
and there is evidence for my belief. I find it incomprehensible why
anyone would accept the word of Fitzpatrick rather than that of Ned
about an incident bearing all the hallmarks of a lie.
We must put the Siege at Glenrowan in its proper context and see it also
in the light of what we know of Ned's personality. The context is one of
sheer desperation. Things had gone on and on without resolve. Meanwhile
Mrs Kelly languished in prison. The police were clearly incompetent and
the likelihood that they would ever catch the boys unless they gave
themselves up was increasingly remote. The matter had to be brought to a
head, but on Ned's terms and Glenrowan seemed the solution. We know that
it was unlikely to have succeeded, but to Ned something had to be tried.
The one discordant note is the intended murder of unsuspecting police
and completely innocent civilians. The scenario does not fit Ned's
personality in any sense. In cold blood he could have killed McIntyre;
he could have killed police and civilians at any time and especially in
Jerilderie. He killed when his own life was at stake and that only
happened at Stringybark Creek. The whole incident at Glenrowan with the
train and the rails is explicable and I have endeavoured to make it so
in my chapter - A Still, Cold Night. Again I cannot understand some
writers who put themselves forward as Ned's defenders, but make him out
as cold-blooded monster intent on murder. Had he been that, I for one
would have not written a single line about him. Is it possible that they
do so because they want to make Ned out to be what he was not a man
intent on overthrowing all the structures of society and thus using
bloody means to do so?
A member of the Kelly clan told me that he had seen an old exercise book
some years later in which he saw minutes of the meetings at which a
rebellion and republic of the northeast had been planned. That Ned, and
others, with either memories or knowledge of Ireland and its miseries,
were capable of conceiving such a plan is clearly possible. That they
carried it beyond hope is a matter requiring further study and research.
DAVE WHITE: Professor Molony, do you ever get up to Glenrowan and the
environs these days? Do you attend any Kelly events? What about the 2003
Ned Kelly movie? Did you see it? Do you try to keep up with all the
latest doings in the Kelly world?
JOHN MOLONY: I passed through Glenrowan a year or so ago, but generally
I have little to do with anything pertaining to Ned although my interest in him
remains undiminished. I did not see the film, but I am sorry it was not
as successful as many hoped it would be. Perhaps that is an example of
what I mean when I say that it is not easy to come close to Ned who
remains his own man. However, I am vain enough to think that I did my
best for his memory and that best, humble as it is, has endured.
It is for others now to take the legend further, but it must be made to
live or it will die. Ned abhorred injustice and thirsted after justice
for himself and for others. He did not think of it that way, but at the
least he knew what it was to get less than a fair go and he reacted when
he saw others, especially his own people getting anything but a fair go.
Perhaps that is the key to why Ned's legend endures. The danger is that,
if we leave it as a hollow affirmation, the legend of Ned will itself
begin to ring as futile and the people will forget him in time. There
are some questions we could ask which are not far from Ned and his time.
Are we just to the poor, or are we allowing the gap between the poor and
the rich to get wider every year? Are we prepared to continue as a
nation bowed down in subservience to a seemingly greater power whose
bidding we do even when it results in injustice to others? Will we stand
up and struggle for a republic of the free, or will we acquiesce in
remaining tied to a distant and meaningless monarchy? Have we been just
to those who fled here as refugees? Will we treat those we accuse of
being terrorists with justice?
They are a few of the problems that face our society, but Ned would not
have stood idly by or remained mute before them. We cannot give flesh to
his legend by mere words, writing about him and speaking about him. He
wanted a changed and better society - what do we want?
DAVE WHITE: I know that you have written several books. Besides the one
on Ned, you are well known for authoring "Eureka" (1984, reissued in
2001). I am also aware that you have a very active interest in the
events surrounding the Eureka Stockade and that you have been involved
with the Eureka Stockade Memorial Trust. Surely last year, 2004, was a
most exciting and busy one for you as the Eureka 150th anniversary was
celebrated. Would you care to tell us a bit about your work with the
Trust? Also, if I am not mistaken, in 2006 Ballarat will be the host
city for the World Conference of Historical Cities. That should do much
to project the Eureka Stockade and its significance onto the
international stage. To your knowledge are there any "Eureka" themed
events planned to capitalise on that function?
JOHN MOLONY: I wrote my Eureka almost in the same context as I did my
Ned. To me both have become legends that are closely related to the development of
Australian nationality. Because Eureka is seen, rightly, as the
birthplace of our democracy, it is assuming a formative and educative
role in our society.
My grandfather was a young digger in the Stockade on the morning of 3
December 1854 when the military and police murdered at least thirty
diggers. Thus I am a member of Eureka's Children, which is a body that
welcomes anyone descended from those connected with Eureka in 1854. The
Trust, based in Ballarat, is now known as an Association. It is the
principal body devoted to Eureka. It has been chiefly responsible for
the development of the new Stockade and it was heavily involved in the
events at the end of last year when we celebrated the 150th anniversary
of Eureka. They were a resounding success.
Both the Association and Eureka's Children are trying to make a concrete
contribution to Australian democracy. Recently the Association has been
involved in procuring a scholarship for a young student from West Papua
to enroll at one of our universities. Clearly, both bodies will
contribute positively and significantly to the World Conference of
Historical Cities to be held in Ballarat in 2006. Without Eureka the
significance of Ballarat would scarcely warrant its recognition on a
world scale any more than other cities such as Bendigo or Ararat based
on their connection with gold. It is Eureka that makes Ballarat unique
DAVE WHITE: Other than Ned Kelly and the Eureka Stockade, you have many
varied interests, ranging from Australian Rules Football to promoting
Italian culture through the Dante Alighieri Society. You do lectures and
presentations, give speeches, and write articles, as well as write books
as alluded to above. You have had over a dozen different book titles in
print, haven't you? I have mentioned the Ned and Eureka ones, and am
working up to discussing your autobiography in a bit, but do you have
any other titles you would like to make mention of that the readers
might find of interest?
JOHN MOLONY: Despite my writing the semi-official history of Australia
for our bicentenary in 1988 [The Penguin Bicentennial History of Australia] I
think my book, The Native-Born : the first white Australians,
published by Melbourne University Press in 2000, will eventually be
judged as my most significant original contribution to the writing of
Australian history. I say this because the native-born had never been
given the serious consideration they deserve for their contribution to
the making of our nation. More than any other element, including the
convict element, they made us what we in large measure remain today.
Two other books were of some significance. My The Roman Mould of the
Australian Catholic Church [MUP 1969] helped to change the popular
judgement of the Catholic Church in Australia from seeing it as an
exclusively Irish phenomenon to understanding it as part of the
Romanization of the Church in the English speaking world in the 19th
century. An Architect of Freedom- John Hubert Plunkett in New South
Wales1832 to 1869 [ANU Press, 1973] explored the transition of early
Australia from a convict prison to a free society. As Attorney General,
Plunkett's task was to guide that transition under the rule of law. His
tragedy was that he never succeeded, despite repeated and courageous
attempts, to include the Aboriginal even though he sent seven white men
to the gallows for the murder of thirty Aboriginals at Myall Creek in
New South Wales in 1838. He repeatedly tried to have Aboriginal evidence
accepted in the courts, but was rebuffed both in Sydney and London.
I have always been intensely interested in struggles for freedom and
against tyranny. For that reason I wrote a history of a political party
in Italy that fought against Mussolini's fascist dictatorship, but was
eventually done to death in 1926. Despite its unfortunate and wordy
title The emergence of political Catholicism in Italy- Partito Popolare
1919-1926, [Croom Helm, London, 1977] the book is now recognized as the
principal contribution to our knowledge of that important political
party which, under Alcide De Gasperi, in the post war period, defended
Italy from a Communist takeover.
In somewhat the same vein I wrote a life of the noble Irish Protestant
patriot, A soul came into Ireland - Thomas Davis [Geography Press,
Dublin, 1995]. In 1995 on the 15th anniversary of Davis's death, the
book was launched at Trinity College Dublin where Davis was educated, by
the then Prime Minister of Ireland. Davis is chiefly remembered today by
his splendid and ringing ballad, 'A nation once again' which is still
sung in Ireland and in parts of the world to which the Irish migrated.
My interest in the workers' movements as expressed at a political level
and in the trade unions led me to study the making of an encyclical by
Pope Leo XIII which was the first treatment of the worker question by
the papacy. The book was entitled The Worker Question: a new historical
perspective on 'Rerum Novarum' [Collins Dove, 1991] I had to spend a
year researching the extensive material on the background to, and
writing of, the encyclical held in the Vatican Archives in Rome.
Published in 1891 the encyclical is the foundation stone of all papal
teaching on the social question and on social justice.
In the near future Australian Scholarly Publishing will bring out my
Australia our Heritage. It is a history of Australia with a long chapter
at the beginning dealing with the civilization of the Aboriginal people
before white settlement. I preferred to use Heritage rather than History
because too frequently we regard our past, though we may treasure it, as
of no consequence in the present. We inherit the past and we are made by
it. Our history is our most important heritage as a nation.
DAVE WHITE: I have read with interest where you have donated decades
worth of your papers, correspondence, lecture material, reports,
manuscript drafts, research materials and the like to the National
Library of Australia. What a wonderful gesture and a generous gift.
Being an historian, you are well aware of the importance and
significance of documenting a well-lived life for posterity. To that
end, you have also written and recently published "Luther's Pine: An
Autobiography" (Pandanus Books, 2004). It tells of your childhood on a
farm in Victoria and how you and your family managed to survive the
Great Depression and all about your life up until the day you were
ordained as a Catholic priest in 1950. It sounds like a very moving and
inspiring story. Would you like to tell our readers something more about
the book? Also would you tell the readers what the title "Luther's Pine"
is in reference to? And, lastly, Professor, might we expect a follow up
autobiography detailing your life in the Church, your leaving of the
priesthood, your illustrious career in academics and all other aspects
up to the present day?
I am sure it would make for a fascinating read!
JOHN MOLONY: Luther's Pine has been well reviewed and Phillip Adams
interviewed me about it on Australia Day. I am now researching my correspondence with a
view to a further volume. When Martin Luther visited Rome as a young
monk in 1519 he is said to have stood under a pine looking over at St
Peters and the Vatican and praying that he would not be corrupted by the
morals of the Roman clergy. In 1947, when I was a young student for the
priesthood in Rome, I often stood under the same pine, by then ancient
and leaning so badly that scaffolding held it up. I also prayed. The
pine is long since gone. It was removed to prevent its falling on those
who stood under it!
DAVE WHITE: Professor Molony, I wish to again thank you for your time
and for your willingness to answer the questions I have presented, you
are truly a scholar and a gentleman.
I hope to speak with you again soon.
I would also like to thank Sharon Hollingsworth for her assistance in the
formulating of these questions for Professor Molony.
Wednesday, August 1, 2018
|The Railway Station at Glenrowan featuring the telegraph pole William Osborne climbed. Photographer: J. Bray. First published July 5, 1880. Courtesy of State Library Victoria.|
In two separate, but similar, written narratives, Cheshire details his role in the Glenrowan affair.
"In connection with the Kelly tragedy very little mention is made of Mr. Osborne, the line repairer, who pluckily climbed the telegraph pole at Glenrowan, and affixed a wire to the railway line, from whence it was carried into the station-master's room, where a pocket instrument was unflaggingly worked by Mr. H. Cheshire, of Beechworth. Mr. Osborne, during the time he was climbing the pole, became a target for the outlaws' guns; and more credit is due to him in consequence of his being obliged to repeat the same performance some hours after, when the fixings got out of repair."
But back to the siege, I am surprised that members of the public were allowed use of the telegraphic services during that time. I would think that it would be reserved solely for police, government, railway and press use only (hello, Mr. Melvin!).
Also of interest was where Joe Byrne's body laid at Cheshire's feet while he worked. Cheshire sent out word of the Gang's capture and demise with one of them literally dead at his feet. Quite the image.
Also, odd is the letting in of any Tom, Dick or Harry who wanted to see the body and pester Ned. Amazing, as these days the traps would have a perimeter set up a mile away you would not be able to cross!
The cover memo on Mr. Cheshire's Reward Board claim reads -
One letter in Cheshire's Kelly Reward Board file says "I am also informed that his [Cheshire's] line repairer, Osborne, displayed much zeal and energy and rendered valuable help."
In Keith McMenomy's Ned Kelly: The Authentic Illustrated Story he says that when the Beechworth contingent arrived "as soon as they found positions they all opened heavy fire at the almost silent building. Then Superintendent Sadleir passed an order to 'fire high' and so spare the innocent people still lying trapped inside. In many cases his order was misinterpreted. Some thought it meant the outlaws were hiding in the rafters and commenced riddling the iron roof; many thought it an order to fire harder. This and the enthusiasm of the Beechworth men started a tremendous burst all round the cordon. One Beechworth constable testified he fired 100 rounds at the hotel within an hour."
At the end of it all, despite everything, both Cheshire and Osborne received 25 pounds each from the Kelly Reward Board. On the list of the 66 successful applicants they got the least amount coming in right under the black trackers, who each were suppose to receive 50 pounds, but that is a whole other kettle of fish for someone else to fry.