For more information on Sharon Hollingsworth and Brian Stevenson please see the sidebar for the About Your Humble Bloggers link.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

The J.J. Kenneally Playbook [Sharon Hollingsworth]

What is up with all of these folks in the Kelly world who want to sue everybody? I was under the impression that some (but not all) in the Kelly world do not like police or judges, or is that just the 19th century garden variety of police and judges? Seems they want their services if they feel slighted, though.

 Over at Dee's blog ( she recently (back In August 2016) has someone talking about taking legal action against her, and I wrote the draft of this blog post back then but only now in November getting around to using it. Others in the Kelly world have at times threatened to sue various people over sometimes very trivial things. I don't understand it. Then there are those who offer to meet face to face to discuss the matter as Dee has experienced. To that, me and Grumpy Cat both say "just say NO!" 

All of these lawsuit happy folks, are they taking a page out of the J.J. Kenneally playbook? J.J. Kenneally, as we all know, was the author of "The Complete Inner History of the Kelly Gang and Their Pursuers." In a recent comment  over at Dee's blog I told about how JJK wanted to sue Max Brown, the author of "Australian Son" in 1949.

Here is what I had put-

"Also, at trove there is an interesting article called "Who Owns Ned Kelly?" in which it states that Kenneally (who had sued others in the past due to copyright infringement) was going after Max Brown to sue him, too. Max was going to fight it on the basis that "nobody owns Ned Kelly" but it seems that fate took a hand with the death of Kenneally in 1949 that put an effective end to that. The article ends with " wondering who owns Ned Kelly now." (some of us are wondering that even NOW!)"
Ok, after I had done that posting I started looking in to Kenneally and his penchant for suing people.
In his book he tells about suing newspapers over copyright and winning. Looking under trove it seems that he had been taking folks to court or facing them for things like copyright infringement, libel and slander - on that last count one person in 1908 had called him, to his great displeasure, an "interstate columnier" (I can't find the exact meaning for columnier, but have seen it in centuries old texts in the context of "malicious columner and rude reflections" and "columnier, injuries, falsities", so we can get the basic gist of it). 
He had sued others for copyright infringement at least 9 times between 1905 and 1949. Might have been more that did not make headlines or that were settled out of court. Instead of letting court be the last resort, his first response seemed to be sue them and then collect money for "damages."

In a 1934 Age article about a then upcoming Kelly movie someone had mistakenly reported that "Until a few years ago the Kelly house was still standing, being used as barn." Kenneally took umbrage from that remark. Whether it was just that someone had said the house was no longer standing that set him off or the intimation that it had been turned into a lowly barn, I am not sure, but both were in error. He wound up saying the following at the end of a letter to the newspaper concerning this mistake-
"As the relatives and friends of the Kellys have at last lost patience with the multitude of cowardly libellers of both the living and the dead, it is understood that a move will be made in the near future to organize a meeting in the Kelly country, at which a small committee of censors will be elected, with power to take direct or indirect action against the enemies of truth and justice."

Not sure if that ever came to fruition. But what does he mean by direct or indirect action (other than taking them to court)? The use of the word "censors" is a worry, too. And worse than that, the term "small committee."  Censors and small committees are usually the tools used against those who love truth and justice and freedom. Just sayin'.

A while back I ran across something at the Australian Archives entitled "Alleged Libel of James Kelly, Brother of late Ned Kelly as Published in "Salt" about how Kenneally had taken great offense at an error in an article in a "Salt" magazine article in 1942. ("Salt" was the official journal of the Australian Army Education Service and was non-profit.) There are pages and pages (22) in a file about the behind the scenes dealings and memos as concerns this action. The article in question was entitled "Robbery Under Arms" (which I have not seen a copy of) and told about Ned and the gang. Seems that JJK only received a copy of the magazine a year and half later in December of 1943, probably from someone trying to be "helpful." 
He promptly wrote this to the editors on Dec 2 -
"Dear Sir,
In your issue of "Salt" of the 20 June 42, which I received by this morning mail, you have done violence to indisputable historical facts, on pages 2 to 6, both inclusive, in reference to Ned, Dan, and Jim Kelly, and their father John Kelly.
Jim Kelly is still living, and the libel which brings you within the law is contained in the following statement :
"Jim, only a year older, (than Dan) got 20 years penal servitude for robbery and violence."

Official records definitely prove the false and malicious nature of this statement. Jim Kelly, over 80 years old, is the most popular man today in the Kelly country. I confidently hope that on your attention being called to this libel you will offer through me ample reparation to Mr. Jim Kelly.
Through my book, "The Complete Inner History of the Kelly Gang and Their Pursuer," I have been recognised as the only living reliable authority on the Kelly gang. Up-to-date, no one has challenged a sentence in my book - now the recognised standard work on the subject."

Three weeks went past and he got no reply so he wrote again on Dec. 22. In that letter he kept on about how the libel  attacks the "veracity and prestige" of his book and how the libel had damaged the value of his copyright and so forth. He then said "My case must come first, that of Jim Kelly will naturally follow." (my question is was Jim even consulted about any of this?) Somewhere along the way, Kenneally even showed up at the Melbourne offices of Salt's publisher!

After a while "Salt" published an apology in their magazine and internal memos show that they said "it is recommended no further action is taken."
In one of the memos it shows where they went to the historical archives and found that Jim had been sentenced to five years gaol back in 1873 instead of the 20 as had been wrongly reported. In other words, they fact-checked a bit after the fact. (You will also remember that while Jim was sentenced to 5 years, he was out in late 1876, but he went back to gaol once again before another year was out.)

In a letter to Kenneally, "Salt" magazine said this -

"The book of which you are the author is not referred to in the article and your fear that  the veracity and prestige of your copyright has in some way been damaged by an erroneous statement published in Salt is considered to be without any real foundation. It is regretted that the error was made and it is hoped that the publication of the apology will be satisfactory and acceptable to you."
In other words, he fought the army and the army won!

Why could he not have politely written them pointing out the mistake and then ask for a retraction or apology rather than just come charging out of the chute with talk of lawsuits and wanting ample reparation and carrying on in such a way talking about his brand being hurt and being self-appointed Kelly family censor and avenger? He wasted all of that energy, everybody's time and tons of goodwill, all over a simple mistake and misunderstanding that a soft word could have turned aside. Good grief!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Find of the Century? - with photo scans courtesy of Capt. Jack [Sharon Hollingsworth]



The Find of the Century?
The Kelly world is all abuzz about the alleged new Ned Kelly photo that has emerged from the shadows. Matt Shore of Beechworth's Ned Kelly Vault has whipped everyone into a frenzy as he has been giving tantalizing teasers about it. A precious few people have been allowed sneak peeks at it, though (but, not me). There have been news articles  and radio interviews about this find. In one of those interviews it was said that the photo was taken in "an outside bush setting and has two men posed in period working attire." Captain Jack Hoyle said to me a while back that it sounded suspiciously like the alleged Ned and Dan cutting wood photo in the 2002 Christie's auction catalog (that had the Gentleman Ned photo on the cover, a photo that was proven to not be Ned after all).

Blurb from the catalog for the photo we are discussing -

"Ned and Dan Kelly Cutting Sleepers, mounted sepia print, 110x150 mm.

A spidery blue ink inscription on the back is partly decipherable. It appears to refer to 'Ned & Dan'. Certainly, some descendents believe that the two men in the photo are Dan Kelly, at left, and Ned. However, the photo itself and the men's clothing suggest a date in the 1890s, more than 10 years after the brothers' deaths. The moustached man at the left is too old to be Dan Kelly (he died at 19) though the second man, with a half-grown beard, strongly resembles Ned Kelly. It is true that while Ned Kelly was growing his beard after release from prison in February 1874, he worked at a sawmill. But these two axemen do not look like part of a commercial operation, and, as already noted, they wear bush clothing that belongs to the 1890s rather than the 1870s.
In 1995, Ned Kelly's niece, Elsie Pettifer, told Ian Jones that she believed the two men to be her father, Walter Knight, and his brother-in-law, Jack Kelly/King. Jones accepts this identification, though Kelly pictorial expert Keith McMenomy is still tempted to believe that the right hand figure is Ned Kelly. The photograph has never been published. The mount is badly stained and torn but the image is completely undamaged."

At first I thought, hmm, maybe what the Vault has is a variation on that photo? Or a completely different one? Could it be the same one? If the same one, why didn't any of the folks who got the early bird views tell them (that is if they even knew)? I know would have if I would have been part of that whole circle. If it is the same one, how could someone say like Matt Shore did in an interview that "Just a few months ago nobody knew about the image." He also said "It is quite incredible that such a photo could be held by the family for 130 years and the public not know about it." He called it the "find of the century" and elaborated on about how the Kelly family owner did not want it shown online and only wanted it in a museum setting, etc. Then John Suta was interviewed after seeing the elusive photo and said that Ned had a paunch in it, and there is a sort of paunch on the guy they think is Ned. He also spoke about woodlots setting and two men, etc. Matt even mentioned the billy can and coat on the stump in the background. I kept wondering, could it be the same photo even though they keep saying no one has seen it save for the family and those close to the Vault management?
While I was taking a couple of months to mull over (ok, not mull, more like agonize over!) Capt. Jack's suggestion that I do a blog post about this whole scenario, it seems that others had been on the hunt and turned up the same conclusion that this could be the alleged Find of the Century  photo. Over at Dee's blog Peter Newman had suggested that the photo was the same one. See for the blog posting. I had commented there saying that Capt Jack and I had been on the trail and arrived at the same conclusion but I had wrung my hands and worried about having egg on my face if this is not the same photo or having folks upset with me for spoiling their surprise if it was. (I told how I was glad that I was not the one to break the story first, though I usually love to get the scoop!)  I told about the scans that Capt Jack had sent me showing the side by side comparison of the figure and the boxing Ned photo, and a closer view of the alleged Ned figure and a close up of the face of the other man. So, I have added those scans here and will post a link at Dee's blog rather than publish there.

I guess time will tell if it is the same photo. If not, it is still interesting for others to see another disputed Ned photo that has not been widely circulated until now.

Note that I did not want to make these photos too big because they would pixelate way too much.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Link to new journal article: Ned Kelly's Last Words by Dr. Stuart Dawson

 Stuart Dawson has done it again! He has written a well-researched and in-depth article entitled "Ned Kelly's Last Words" for our edification and enjoyment.  As usual, he has done extensive footnoting for the article.

Here is a copy of the email he has sent out to interested parties -

Hi, as you had some past interest or concern with Ned Kelly issues, you may be interested in a new journal article that rediscovers and reveals Ned Kelly’s actual last words.

Abstract:  It has long been widely, even admiringly, held that Ned Kelly’s last words before execution were ‘Such is life’. This is a key part of a prevalent Kelly mythology that has been subject to little serious critique. Yet the attribution of the phrase ‘Such is life’ to Kelly is pure fiction. Analysis of the reportage of the day recovers Kelly’s actual last words, and explains how they were transmuted by one journalist into the catchy expression quoted as fact by many historians. It shows that the image of Kelly standing tall and defiant, saying ‘Such is life’ as the rope was placed around his neck, is nothing but a highly romanticised myth. In fact Kelly came to an ignominious, mumbling end on the scaffold, a far cry from popular legend.

The article can be downloaded by Googling “Eras Journal” to reach the latest issue (18.1, August 2016), or directly from this link:

Please pass this note on to others who may be interested in this topic.


Stuart Dawson

Monash University

You will remember that Stuart Dawson had previously written an article called "Redeeming Fitzpatrick: Ned Kelly and the Fitzpatrick Incident" for the Eras Journal last year that caused quite a stir in the Kelly world.  I had reported on that here -

And here is the direct link to the Fitzpatrick article -

Let's hope that in the future Stuart uses his skills and talent to tackle other highly contested Kelly subjects. Whether you agree with any of his findings or not, you have to admit that anything that keeps Ned Kelly in the spotlight is a good thing. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Flashback: Mr. Nolan Goes to Glenrowan [Sharon Hollingsworth]

Here is yet another blast from the past from the now defunct glenrowan1880 site which was run by Dave White. This was written by me and originally published back in May of 2004. I put it here because there have been discussions at that are relevant to this.

Nolan in Glenro

Nearly everyone worldwide is familiar with Sir Sidney
Nolan and his paintings of Ned Kelly featuring the iconic black square helmet. I had been under the impression he had only done the 27 paintings known as 'The Ned Kelly Series' which were first shown
publicly in 1948 and are still drawing crowds today as the exhibition travels around the country and the globe. Come to find out he had done dozens of major paintings of Ned Kelly starting in 1945 and right on up into his later decades of life, as well as an incalculable number of Ned Kelly drawings and sketches. Not all featured the familiar black helmet
either. A few showed us Ned's face, most notably "Death of a Poet" completed in 1954.

I recently acquired the book SIDNEY NOLAN by T. G. Rosenthal (Thames & Hudson, 2002). Mixed in among the hundreds of illustrations of Nolan's
major works is information on his life which gives insight into what shaped him and his art. It seems that Sidney Nolan's grandfather was in
the Victorian Police Force in the 1870s and took part in the Kelly hunt. Certainly he must have regaled his grandson with stories of his bushranger chasing days. Something surely lit Nolan's wick as regards
Ned Kelly. By 1945 when he was in his late 20s, Nolan had done his first Ned Kelly painting. Later that year, he and a mate, Max Harris, decided
to visit Kelly country and began planning a visit to Glenrowan. Certainly the Glenrowan then was a far cry from the Glenrowan of now. Tourists were not welcome at all. In preparation for the trip, Nolan
read J. J. Kenneally's "The Inner History of the Kelly Gang and Their Pursuers" (which had been newlsy revised in 1945) and the 1881 Royal Commission. Thus armed, the two young men took a "road trip." They arrived in Glenrowan and soon the game was in full swing. Strike one: Nolan and Harris go to the nearest pub and loudly declare free drinks for anyone who will talk to them about Ned Kelly. Dead silence. They drink alone. Strike two: The pair make their way next day to the police station in all anticipation to ask about any Kelly records/archives available to view. After a brief exchange of words, the last being " immediately", they have their third strike: they cross paths with Jim Kelly (well into advanced age, he would die the following year). When Nolan asked if he was Ned's brother,
Jim retorted with "Yes I am, but it is none of your business!" Thus somewhat chastened and practically chased (though not literally!) they headed back to Melbourne. Even with all the stonewalling and rejection, Nolan must have picked up something there in Glenrowan to inspire him and to keep the wick burning bright. Within less than two years he had painted 45 Ned Kelly paintings, parts of which formed the aforementioned 1948 gallery showing.

Ned Kelly inspired Sidney Nolan  and, through his paintings, Ned lives on recognised by many around the world who have no clue as to his story and
what he did, but thanks to Sidney Nolan they at least know that such a man lived! And what a man! And thus, thanks to Ned Kelly we all know who
Sidney Nolan was too. Legend begets legend!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

My review of Robert M. Utley's Wanted: The Outlaw Lives of Billy the Kid & Ned Kelly [Sharon Hollingsworth]

It seems that Robert M. Utley has published  his new book "Wanted: The Outlaw Lives of Billy the Kid & Ned Kelly" at a very opportune and auspicious time. Interest in Billy the Kid is at an all time high due to the recent discovery of a photo of Billy the Kid, along with some of his Regulator compatriots playing croquet.  The "Croquet Billy" photo is yet to go to auction, but it  has been said it may fetch $5 million!

This new book is part of the Lamar Series in Western History in which Mr. Utley has already contributed another title "Geronimo." Mr. Utley is well known and revered in Old West circles for his tireless and thorough research which has led to many prestigious book awards.  His best known work is 1989's "Billy the Kid: A Short and Violent Life."

 Utley's interest in Ned Kelly began on a trip he and his wife took to Australia. She pointed out a statue of Ned Kelly in Glenrowan and said that he was Australia's Billy the Kid (I have heard others say that he was Australia's Jesse James, too). It was not until a visit to the Old Melbourne Gaol that it all clicked for him and he decided to write a book comparing the two. He made subsequent trips down under to do further research.

The book is divided into three sections. The first is a condensing down of his "Billy the Kid: A Short and Violent Life" and another work he had previously done concerning Billy called "High Noon in Lincoln." I have yet to read "High Noon in Lincoln" but I completely devoured "Billy the Kid: A Short and Violent Life" in one evening the first time around. Utley takes the highlights of Billy's life and death from these two books with a smattering of bits from other authors and puts them into this new dual biography.  The same goes for Ned Kelly who is featured in the second part, we get the highlights based mostly on Ian Jones's "Ned Kelly: A Short Life", with some extra info from other authors to flesh it out. Utley speaks glowingly of Ian Jones's work and says he hopes to meet him one day.

 There are a few errors in the Kelly mix, such as Aaron Sherritt being killed on June 24 (it was the 26th) and that it was William (instead of Thomas) Lonigan who was killed at Stringybark Creek, plus a few other things, some of which I wondered where it came from. Then the third part is a chapter comparing and contrasting the two outlaws. Some very interesting points are brought out about each and I think everyone will learn something they didn't know before and will look at either or both of these young men in a different light.

Before my copy of "Wanted..." arrived I went back and read "Billy the Kid: A Short and Violent Life" again and took notes of what comparisons I saw to Ned and I found some he did not list in "Wanted.." He listed the main characteristics and comparisons about both being outlaws around the same time, about both dying young, losing fathers at young ages, being helped by sympathetic locals after becoming outlaws, both wrote letters to their respective governors, and so forth and so on, but I spotted a few (perhaps insignificant) things like how both men could ride a horse at full speed and pick a handkerchief off the ground, how a 12 pounder howitzer field gun was at the siege of McSween's house during the Lincoln County War (remember a 12 pounder was sent for but turned back as the siege of Glenrowan was over before it could arrive), how McSween's house was set fire to during the siege, as was the Glenrowan Inn, both had deaf mutes nicknamed "Dummy" in the story, both carried Navy Colts, and both Billy and Ned had referred to getting away on "my bay mare" among many other things. What also struck me was that for a while when Billy was a part of a loosely knit gang called the Regulators the ones who were the heart of the gang took an oath - called the iron clad - in which they swore if captured not to testify against the others or to let on to their activities. This inner circle became known as the "iron clads." Of course, Ned and his gang were literally iron clad.

 This book seems to be a good start for folks who might be interested or schooled in one of the outlaws but not the other and also for those interested in Utley's interesting takes on their comparisons and contrasts. In that respect this dual biography reminds of "Matthew Brady & Ned Kelly: Kindred Spirits, Kindred Lives" by Paul Williams, my review of which you read at

 If anyone wants the full on experience after reading "Wanted..." then they can pick up the aforementioned "Billy the Kid: A Short and Violent Life" (with around 75 pages of notes and sources) and  "Ned Kelly: A Short Life" (with around 50 pages of notes and sources) for further in depth study as "Wanted: The Outlaw Lives of Billy the Kid and Ned Kelly" does not contain any of these. Another small thing to note, if you are looking for this book in shops, take note that the front has the full title but the spine only has "Robert M. Utley WANTED" on it, with no mention of Billy or Ned. So if you see it on the shelf and not facing forward you will know to still reach for it. Heck, with Utley's name on it I would grab it in a second, no matter what the title was.

I am happy to have all three of these books in my collection, and if you are a completest like me, you will want to have them on your shelf, too. Now I am off to order a copy of "High Noon at Lincoln."

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Flashback: Kate Kelly's Gun?

Here is another blast from the past that was on both of the now-defunct glenrowan1880 and nedonthenet websites that were run by Dave White. I had sent this in as a comment but he put it on a full page for ease of reading. It concerned the weapon that was found at Kate Kelly's old home that was set to go to auction which was alleged to have originally belonged to Constable Fitzpatrick. This was on the site circa 2007. Why I chose to run this piece again is that someone at had inquired about the debunking of this revolver.
Here goes -

Hi, Dave, as promised here is the documentation that Brian Stevenson
and I have worked up as we attempted to disprove the legitimacy of Tom
Thompson's claims that the gun he has up for auction on November 5th
is the one that Constable Fitzpatrick "lost" during his visit to the
Kelly homestead on 15 April 1878. We sent all of this material to the
Sydney Morning Herald reporter who did the original story and he says
he will possibly use some of this in an article coming next week. [NOTE: this was never used]
I wanted to go on and give the info in full here for your readers'
consideration. I hope everyone can take a few minutes and bear with me
as I present the evidence that can maybe convince them that this gun
is not of the provenance which Mr. Thompson says it is.

After checking many sources, none of them indicates that Constable
Fitzpatrick's gun was permanently gone or lost during the events of
April 15, 1878. Sure, he "lost" it temporarily during a struggle at
the Kelly homestead but it was returned to him before he left. In one
account he says that Dan brought out his revolver and handcuffs (see #
1 below) and in another slightly differing account he says that Ned
gave him his gun back and Dan gave him his handcuffs. (see #2 below).
In the same account (#2) which was Alexander Fitzpatrick's deposition
in the case of Police v. Ellen Kelly, William Williamson and William
Skillion 17/05/1878, he also made the statement that Mr. Thompson is
referring to in the article; earlier on he spoke of how Dan had
snatched his revolver during the scuffle after two shots were fired
and then later on at the end of the deposition he reinterated a few
things during cross examination and stated "I lost my revolver after
two shots had been fired." Well, back further in the deposition as he
was telling about how his revolver was sitting on the table and what
all he claimed everyone there said, the court record showed that the
revolver in question was produced before the magistrate along with the
shovel-dented helmet he was wearing the same night. Note how it has
"(revolver produced)" and "(helmet produced)" in the transcription.
You can also go to the Nedonline website  [[NOTE: this site is now defunct, too] or to the PROV archives and search for Alexander
Fitzpatrick to see
the transcription and the digital image of the original documents that
shows the evidence produced in brackets as above. Another thing, the
same deposition states that they searched for weapons and for the
bullets in the bark (the other 2 shots fired at him, the 3rd allegedly
being in his wrist). That is referring to guns that might have
belonged to the other participants not meaning his gun which he was
given back and produced before the magistrate. To further prove this--

from Frank Clune's "The Kelly Hunters"

cut and paste

If Fitzpatrick's statement was correct, "Bricky" Williamson had a
revolver, and they would have to be careful when they went to arrest
him. After the evening meal, "Bricky" went alone to a hut on his own
selection, half a mile away. The two police pounced on him there in
the dark, at nine o'clock, handcuffed him, searched his hut for
weapons without finding any.....
Despite Fitzpatrick's statement that both Williamson and Skillion were
present and armed with revolvers when Ned Kelly shot him, no weapons
were found in the homes of either...

end of cut and paste

It then went on to say next phase was to go to Kelly homestead....did
not say anything about searching for a weapon there! then said about
what they were charged with (Attempted Murder) and the gun theft was
not part of it!!!!

then in McQuilton--

cut and paste

Despite a diligent police search on 17 April, the slabs that should
have contained the other two bullets could not be found. A second
search party a month later, however, claimed they had found the slabs,
a curious discovery suggesting that the Kellys removed the slabs,
replaced them with new ones and then a month later put the original
slabs back into place.
end of cut and paste

So all of that explains the police searches in light of the gun not
being lost afterall!
To top it all off, in Constable Thomas McIntyre's unpublished memoirs
by T.N. MCINTYRE (which is available at the State Library of Victoria
manuscript dept) it says this--


Mounted Constable Fitzpatrick arrested
Dan Kelly at his own residence on the evening of the 15th April. Dan
Kelly offered no resistance but requested to be allowed to get
something to eat as he had been out in the bush riding all day.
Fitzpatrick consented to this but he had no sooner entered the house
than Ned Kelly rushed in presenting a revolver at him fired 3 shots,
one of which struck him on the left wrist the bullet lodging there, at
the same time two other men who were in the house presented revolvers
at Fitzpatrick who was surprised and had no time to offer any
resistance. He was disarmed but Ned Kelly having extracted the
cartridges returned him his revolver...

end of quote

Hopefully all of the info above, coupled with the footnotes below,
will help convince everyone that in no way, shape, or form could the
pistol on auction be the one "lost" by Fitzpatrick!

Sincerely, Sharon Hollingsworth

Highlights from Fitzpatrick's statements in the 25 May 1878 edition of
The Chiltern Federal Standard (taken from Keith McMenomy's "Ned Kelly:
An Illustrated History" --

[after a 2nd shot was fired]...then turned to draw my revolver, but it
had been taken out of my belt, Dan Kelly had it in his hand..... ....I
saw my revolver on the table; it was taken asunder with the charges
drawn. I took it up, and Ned Kelly took it from my hand; he also took
all my ammunition...
I wanted to get away but Ned would not return my revolver... I went
and got a horse from behind the house, where Dan had tied him, not to
be seen. My hand was very painful. Dan brought my revolver and
handcuffs and I went away..."
end of quote

cut and paste from Nedonline site--

Alexander Fitzpatrick's deposition
VPRS 4966 Unit 1 Item 4 Document: Alexander Fitzpatrick's deposition
in the case of Police v. Ellen Kelly, William Williamson and William



This eight page deposition by Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick was
taken and sworn in on the on the 17th of May 1878. The deposition was
written as part of the trial of Regina v. Ellen Kelly, William
Williamson and William Skillion. Mrs. Kelly was sentenced to three
years hard labor, whilst Skillion and Williamson each received a six
year sentence. In a few years, Fitzpatrick would be dismissed from the
force due to his poor performance of duties.
Transcribed text


THE Examination of Alexander Fitzpatrick of Benalla in the Colony of
Victoria, Police Constable and others of - in the said Colony, taken
on oath, this 17th day of May, in the year of our Lord One thousand
eight hundred and seventy eight at Benalla, in the Colony aforesaid
before the undersigned, one of Her Majesty's Justices of the Peace for
The Northern Bailiwick, in the presence and hearing of Ellen Kelly -
William Williamson alias Bricky and William Skillion- who are charged
this day before us, for that they, the said Kelly Williamson &
Skillion, on the 13th day of April last at 11 Mile Creek Greta, in the
said Colony Did in company aid and abet - one Edward Kelly in an
attempt to murder Alexander Fitzpatrick This deponent Alexander
Fitzpatrick on his oath, said as follows:

Police v Ellen Kelly
Police v William Williamson
Police v William Skillion

Alexander Fitzpatrick sworn said
I am a Mounted Constable Stationed at Benalla - remember on 15 April
last was on duty in the direction of Greta had occasion to pass the
house of Mrs Kelly. arrived there between 4 & 5 pm. I dismounted and
went in saw Mrs Kelly & 3 children Stayed about an hour. left &
went up on the hill in the direction of a sound of chopping - Saw
Williamson spoke to him - went away - saw 2 horsemen coming in &
stopped in front of Kellys hut went down & Saw Skillion. he was
leading one horse by bridle & another by the mane. Saw a third horse
with a Saddle on. Asked Skillion who was riding he said he did not
know examined horse & said it was Dan Kellys I asked where he was
Skillion said up at the house. I went to the house saw Dan Kelly
told him I wanted to arrest him as there was a warrant issued for his
arrest on Charge of horse Stealing he said my hell - wait a little
while - I suppose you'll let me have something to eat I've been out riding
all day. I allowed him to eat allowed him to wait he went inside & I
followed him in this was just getting dusk. Mrs Kelly was present. She
said you wont take him out of this tonight. Dan said to Mrs Kelly Shut
up that's all right- I then saw Skillion passing the house leading a
horse. Ned Kelly then came to the doorway fired a shot at me I was
standing with my back to the partition Mrs Kelly was standing with her
back to the fire Dan was sitting at the table. the shot did not strike
me a second or two afterwards Mrs Kelly rushed at me with a Shovel She
struck me with the Shovel I was in uniform had my helmet. She struck
me on the helmet with the shovel (helmet produced) struck me on left
side of helmet - I use my arm to guard the shovel Ned Kelly fired
again at me & the ball lodged in my left wrist. I knocked the shovel
down with my right hand & turned round to draw my revolver & found it
was gone Dan Kelly had it he had snatched it out while my attention
was turned. Ned Kelly remained in the same position with his revolver
pointed at me. I slewed round & took hold of the muzzle of his pistol
& turned it off me & said you cowardly wretch do you want to murder
me- In the struggle his pistol went off a third time Skillion was
present all the time he was armed with a revolver - did not use it-
Williamson came in from the bedroom as the second shot was fired -
from his position he could see Mrs Kelly he was armed with a revolver
or pistol When I said do you want to murder me Ned Kelly said that'll
do boys- Ned Kelly said to Skillion you bugger why did you not tell me
who was here. he said if I had known it was Fitzpatrick I would not
have fired If it had been any of the other buggers they would not
leave here alive my wound was bleeding & I fainted when I came round I
heard Ned

Kelly say to Skillion Bill would have given that bugger who went bye a
pill the other day only for me Skillion said what the Benalla Cove he
said no Sergt Steele & Ive got a pill for him yet Skillion and
Williamson went away Mrs Kelly remained. I got up Ned Kelly said to me
I'm sorry that this happened it will get me into trouble I'll get it
pretty heavy -
When I got up my revolver was on the Table Taken to pieces and
unloaded I put it together & Ned Kelly took it out of my hand
(Revolver produced) he asked had I any more ammunition I said no he
took what ammunition was in the revolver. I went outside Ned followed
me. before I went outside Ned Kelly began to examine my wrist he said
heres the bullet here we must have it out of that. he got a rusty
razor & I wanted him to let me go home to a medical man he said you
cant go away with that in your hand. I said I would operate myself. I
cut the ball out it was a small pointed ball like the one produced. -
Ned & his sister were  present & Mrs Kelly bandaged my arm Ned took
the bullet. I then went outside Ned said I was very plucky to suffer
the pain - Ned followed me outside he said now I spared you, you spare
me how will we manage to say that you were shot. I said I would not
mention who shot me he said You had better say you went up to arrest
Dan he was in company with Williamson & I was putting the hand cuffs
on him & I had my revolver out & it went off & shot me & then Dan took
my ammunition from me he asked me did I know Whitlow, I said no. he
said say this. two men rushed from behind a tree as you were arresting
Dan describe them as two big men one of them like me & they'll think
its my brother Jim & the other Whitlow & then say I heard one of them
sing out Oh! Whitlow you've shot him- he gave as a reason for naming
these men that they were miles away.- he told me to say a lot of other
things that Whitlow was supposed to have said - he made me make an
entry in my book at the time of the Conversation (Book produced Marked
A) & entry read. I wanted to come away & Ned would not give me my
revolver he made the excuse that they were catching the horses he
said if you do say I shot you you'll get no credit for it The Govt
won't reward you I'll give you a few hundred after the Baumgarten Case
is over Mrs Kelly was present then & She said you had better tell him
that if he does mention it his life will be no good to him we have
plenty of friends then went & got my horse & untied him.
Previous to this Ned called Dan to get my horse & put him behind the house where
he would not be seen - he gave me my revolver & Dan brought my
handcuffs. Ned went part of the way with me Dan following us
- they both came as far as The pound & when I got about 2 miles from
Kelly I saw Williamson & Skillion coming after me on horseback I
spurred on to Winton to David Lindsay & got off but could not stand up
Richd. & David Lindsay helped me in & gave me some brandy & I told
what had happened - they bandaged me again  Cross exd & Dr Lindsay
accompanied me to Benalla Dr. Nicholson dressed my wrist - have been
to Mrs Kellys since & looked for a bullet mark but found 2 sheets of
bark removed from place where I had previously noticed the bullet
mark. Knew Ned Kelly before this have no doubt about Ned Dan &
Williamson & Skillion I was perfectly sober at the time left Benalla
about 2.30 pm Kellys is reckoned 11 miles. Stopped at Lindsays on the
road. Had lemonade & brandy did not stop any where else got to Kellys
between 4 & 5 pm. on first occasion stopped about an hour or over. was
talking to Mrs Kelly all that time. Her daughter was there
- no brandy drunk there. I stopped to see if Dan Kelly was about. I
returned again about of an hour - went up on the range behind the
place saw Williamson went down in front of Mrs Kellys old hut - saw
Skillion Dan did not refuse to be arrested - I had no warrant but saw
by police Gazette that one had been issued - I was about 1 1/2 yards
when first shot was fired they all had their revolvers levelled
Taken and sworn this 17th May 1878 at Benalla Before me Robt McBean JP
F McDonnell JP at me- no word spoken until shot was fired - hat has a dent in it - it
was not the edge of the shovel struck me I know Mrs Skillion did not
see me I got home about 2 in the morning I did not call & ask Mrs
skillion if her husband was at home - have been in the force about 12
months. I lost my revolver after 2 shots had been fired I had seen the
bullet mark in the bark before I went back to look found 2 sheets of
bark removed - Williamson muttered something which I did not hear.
Skillion did not say anything - Don't know if any pistols were found
at the hut - Saw a revolver there before. The shovel was like a
contractors shovel worn down had no instructions to arrest Kelly - was
going to relieve Sergt Strachan Miss Kelly was in the house while the
firing was going on she sat down & cried
Sergt Whelan had informed me there was a warrant out for Dan Kelly
Alexander Fitzpatrick
Const 2867

Monday, November 23, 2015

Link to new journal article: Redeeming Fitzpatrick: Ned Kelly and the Fitzpatrick Incident by Dr. Stuart Dawson

I have recently struck up a friendly rapport with historical researcher Dr. Stuart Dawson who has been working on a piece for Eras Journal (an online journal published by Monash University) about Alexander Fitzpatrick and the Kelly Outbreak. He has certainly done a great deal of thorough research and the article has been meticulously footnoted. I look forward to more such articles in the future from him.

Below is an email he has sent out to interested parties:

Hi, as you had some past interest or concern with Ned Kelly issues, you may be interested in a new journal article, ‘Redeeming Fitzpatrick: Ned Kelly and the Fitzpatrick Incident’.

Abstract: In April 1878 Constable Fitzpatrick was wounded by Ned Kelly while attempting to arrest his brother Dan for horse stealing. The incident triggered the ‘Kelly outbreak’ that elevated Kelly to the status of Australia’s most notorious historical figure. Ever since the event Fitzpatrick has been almost universally labelled a liar and perjurer, and the various records of his testimony in two trials and a Royal Commission have been assailed as fanciful and unlikely concoctions.

This article reconstructs and vindicates Fitzpatrick’s version of events after some 140 years of denigration. Ned and his associates’ various statements and denials about the event emerge as a series of self-serving fabrications that, together with other evidence, raise doubts about much other prevalent Kelly mythology.

The article can be downloaded by Googling “Eras Journal” to reach the latest issue (17.1, November 2015), or directly from this link:

Please pass this note on to others who may be interested in this topic.


Stuart Dawson

Monash University

Flashback: The convict Hulk "Success" and Her Kelly Gang Connections [Sharon Hollingsworth]

This is an old article (originally published March 24, 2005 - a decade ago!) that I wrote for the now defunct glenrowan1880 website. I noticed that a Kelly related facebook page linked to a wikipedia page about the Success and that the wiki page had linked (now a dead link as the 1880 page is under new ownership and has nothing to do with the Kellys anymore) to my article below. Hopefully those who seek more info will use google and find this again as it is truly a flashback or blast from the past.

The Convict Hulk "Success" and Her Kelly Gang Connections 
Written by Sharon Hollingsworth 
North American Correspondent 

Early post card of the ship.
If anyone ever thought that the history of the Kelly Gang was fraught with conflicting facts and reports, perhaps they should take a look at the history of the convict hulk "Success." The "Success" not only shares the Kelly Gang's predilection for controversy, but has several reputed ties to the gang, too. The "Success," which later became a floating "convict ship" museum, was built in 1840 in Burma. It had been widely, yet erroneously, reported by her promoters that she had been built in 1790 and that she had actually been used to transport convicts. While she had been a stationary convict hulk, she never was a "convict ship." A difference there! It seems these claims were made to perhaps fuel the imaginations and loosen the purse-strings of a public who were not far removed from, yet intrigued with the convict era.* But more on that aspect of the ship's history in a bit.

The Success Catalogue for when the vessel was in Melbourne.
(A very rare pamphlet, White collection) 
The "Success" was built for trade in the Orient and was later used as an emigrant ship between the UK and Australia. In 1843 she made a voyage to the Swan River Colony (what is now Perth) with emigrant families. As an interesting side note, Glenrowan1880's West Australian correspondent Dave Brown relates that some of his wife's ancestors arrived on the "Success" on that 1843 voyage, and that one of them, Thomas Reynolds, was born on board three days out from shore! 

Photo of print of the HMS Success taken at the Fremantle Maritime Museum. (D.White)
Speaking of the Swan River Colony, another famous ship named "HMS Success" is associated
with the area. As a matter of fact, there were several ships with the name "Success" that were
contemporaries of and antecedents to the "Success" of which we are concerned, thus making for some confusion!** The "Success" also made voyages to Australia in the late 1840s and early 1850s.
After the "Success's" crew deserted her for the goldfields of Victoria in 1852, the ship was obtained by the Victorian Government for use as a prison hulk. She was one of five such hulks and Ned Kelly himself served a term upon the hulk "Sacramento." The hulk "Success" had many notable criminals of the day on board at one time or another, including Daniel ('Mad Dan') Morgan, Frank McCallum (better known as Captain Melville), Owen Suffolk (the Prison-Poet of Australia) and Henry Johnstone (better known as Harry Power), who was a young Ned Kelly's bushranging tutor. More on Power to come.    
From 1860 to around 1868, the "Success" was used as a women's prison and in 1869 as
sleeping quarters for a boys' reformatory. Later it was used to store powder and ammunition.  After a series of events the "Success" was sold to a UK concern. While other prison hulks were sold around the same time with the condition they be broken up, the "Success" was not dismantled, owing to an error in paperwork. There is some dispute whether or not the old ship had been scuttled and laid submerged for five years (and later raised) in the interval years before becoming a museum. In any event, by 1891 the "Success" was refitted and filled with exhibits such as implements of torture and wax figures and turned into a floating "convict ship" museum. Paying customers around the ports of Australia, were treated to lectures on board by former inmate-turned-tour-guide, Harry Power. Unfortunately, Power was drowned the same year, but not as has been falsely reported as being from a fall from her decks. He was on a fishing trip at the Murray River when he had his mishap. 
The "Success" sank at her moorings in 1892. She was refloated in 1893 and under new owners (her ownership changed hands many times before he fateful end decades later) toured around Australia for a time. From 1895 to around 1911 the "Success" toured ports around Great Britain and was a rousing success! Again the ship was sold, this time to an American concern and she left Liverpool headed to the United States on April 10, 1912, the same day that another ship left Southampton headed the same way. Only one of the two arrived at their destination, the other ship was named the "Titanic." The "Success" was shown around US ports from 1912 up until around the early 1940s. It was 1946 when she was ultimately run aground and was then allegedly burnt by vandals. Tens of millions of visitors (one 1924 exhibition catalogue says over 20 million!) had thronged to see her in her heyday and purchased many of the exhibition catalogues and souvenir books about the history of the ship which were printed on board. (One of her later owners was a Mr. Jontzen who owned a publishing firm.) Countless postcards were also sold. Many of them turn up on ebay and in auction houses throughout the world today. 

The above image is from a post card of the ship.
(White Collection)
Some depict "staged" torture scenes and others have the ship afloat and in dry dock and there were others that were pretty astonishing. In reference to those astonishing cards and as concerns a Kelly Gang connection, we will go to the passenger list for the "Success's" 1849 arrival in Australia. It was in that year that Patrick Byrne, aged 18, and his three brothers arrived as free emigrants aboard her. In a few short years Patrick would marry and the union would produce a son, a son he named after his own father, Joseph.***   Joe Byrne, as we all know would grow to young adulthood and become Ned Kelly's righthand man in the Kelly Gang. It is very ironic, that when the ship was made into a floating museum that in one of the cells there would be wax dummies, touted as having been "described by the world's experts as the most perfect ever made," and Joe Byrne's would be one of them!**** (Though one old lag/wag visited the museum in his declining years and upon seeing a wax figure of himself declared that he had been much better looking back then than he was depicted!) The "Success" had a featured exhibit called "The Notorious Kelly Gang" and had wax dummies of the four gang members along with Kate Kelly(!) all behind bars. The exhibition catalogue has the gang listed and gives a brief, albeit error filled synopsis of their career, and says "...The Kellys were never aboard. They are shown here as examples of modern Australian outlaws..." There is a postcard of the scene of the Kellys in the cell and I only wish I had a copy to show here. I have seen it before and it was an odd site to behold indeed! 

The copy of Ned's armour on board the Success.
There are postcards (see pic above) of Ned's armour which was reported as being on board, too. Oddly, the Ogden Cigarette Company which put out trade cards in the early 20th Century, used the image of the armour from the "Success" on one of them!  

Ned's replica armour (courtesy Brian McDonald)
Clearly it was a replica suit but was never mentioned as being such in all the literature. In the book "The History of the Convict Ship 'Success' and Dramatic Story of Some of the 'Success' Prisoners" it says the following about the armour: "...Among the numerous relics of lawless life in Australia now shown on board the "Success," none is more interesting than the ingenious suit of shot-resisting steel which formed the impenetrable armour of Ned Kelly, the leader of this notorious "Kelly Gang." This rusty relic of the hunted outlaw swings to and fro on the deck, suspended by a rope, a position which is strongly suggestive of the after-fate of the original wearer. The suit consists of breastplate, shoulder-guards, back-plate and vizour, complete. Indentions made by well-aimed bullets may be seen in clusters, showing that the bushranger was at one time subjected to a hot fire, and that if not for this protection he must have met with instant death..." 
This same book is one that Brian McDonald had made mention of in his excellent resource publication "What They Said About Ned!": "Another work, which ran into numerous editions, was Joseph C. Harvie's 'The Convict Hulk "Success." The Story of her life, and the lives of those who filled her cells,' Spectator Publishing Co. Ltd., Melbourne, 1891.....While the "Success" was touring America a revamped edition of Harvie's work appeared as 'The History of the Convict Ship "Success". And Dramatic Story of Some of the "Success" Prisoners, which was 'published on board the convict ship "Success."...These American editions carry additional, and in some cases outlandish, information particularly in the bushranging sections.  One example is the statement that "Red" Kelly, Ned's father, arrived in Van Diemen's Land on the "Success."...' [end of McDonald quote]   Yes, you read that right, the later editions of the book (the one I have has a 1929 copyright) states that "Red" Kelly arrived on the Success and that he was present when Inspector-General of Convict Establishments John Price (he was not Captain of the "Success" as the exhibition catalogue states) arrived to hear some of the prisoner's grievances. The book says (all a fabrication to be sure!) that: "..."Red" Kelly, the father of the bushrangers of later years, asked whether a sentence of three days' solitary, which he received a week before, would affect his ticket-of-leave. 
Mr. Price and Mr. Hallis [Superintendent of the ship] agreed that he would have to wait six months, whereupon Kelly shook his fist defiantly, and said, "You –––– tyrant, your race will soon be run." For this display of insolence he was taken back to the "Success" in charge of two overseers.." This is supposed to be a historical record! What happened very soon after was that  Mr. Price was set upon and murdered by some of the convicts! (in another book it says the convict was "James" Kelly, still assumedly not a James Kelly related to Ned, and that he helped in the murder!) 

​From the Success catalogue, White collection.
There is even a "cartoon-type" pull-out in the exhibition catalogue showing the assault on the "captain" in progress and other such equally lurid scenes as well as Ned's armour with a strangely hinged helmet faceplate and no shoulder caps.    Who do you think the book says presided at the trial of the convicts accused of Price's murder? It was Judge Redmond Barry, who also presided over the trials of Ellen and Ned Kelly. This was in 1857 that Price was murdered. Captain Melville whom Barry had sentenced to prison in 1853 had a prominent role in the Price affair. How preposterous to have "Red" Kelly even associated with all this! One wonders where the "facts" came from! We know that "Red" Kelly was not ever onboard the "Success"! He had arrived Down Under in 1841 on the "Prince Regent" and got his ticket-of-leave in 1845. By 1857 he was married to Ellen and had fathered several children by then, among them Ned.    
Strange to read of such contrived accounts as above about "Red" Kelly being on the ship and yet how many would believe them since they were in print! No telling how many of the tens of millions who saw the ship brought the book! Another murder involving the "Success" and a warder or constable or two (depending on what you read) was in the previous year to Price's murder, 1856. This time it involved a gaol break with Harry Power and Captain Melville (he seemed to always be the ringleader) and others. During the trial, Melville was found guilty but Power and others were acquited. The book also mentions about Captain Melville, previous to the attack on Price, having appeared to have converted to religion and the chaplain was happy to have a dedicated convert and supplied him with books and thus through his piety was able to escape harsh punishment and to go to work ashore in the quarry, and that is where the murder occurred. The book goes on to say that Dr. John Singleton was a one time chaplain aboard the "Success" and I have yet to confirm that. I have read that he had visited Melville before and after the attack. There is a Kelly connection with Dr. Singleton. He was a medical doctor and Christian philanthropist who first exposed the cruel treatment prisoners on the hulks received and started the "Citizen's Committee" to seek reform.   
When Ned Kelly was in Old Melbourne Gaol he allegedly asked to see Dr. Singleton. According to a review for a book about the doctor's life called "Pioneer Doctor" it states that he visited Kelly many times and witnessed to him about Jesus Christ. It goes on to say "His visits were stopped prior to Kelly's hanging in November 1880, by the Dean of St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Cathedral, who objected to Singleton's visits to Kelly and his efforts to "convert him to the Protestant faith"..." There was even one article I recall reading where it was said that Dr. Singleton was the one to have heard Ned's final immortal words! Doubtful in the extreme! So after all that meandering, let's review the Kelly Gang connections to the "Success": we have bushranger Harry Power and his myriad adventures onboard, we have Joe Byrne's free emigrant father arriving on her, we have an erroneous account of Ned's father having been sent out to Australia and serving time as a prisoner on her, we have the Gang as educational wax dummy exhibits along with Ned's armour hanging on deck swinging in the breeze, we have Judge Barry who sat on trials related to the ship's prisoners and we have Dr. Singleton who visited Ned in his last days at the Old Melbourne Gaol. 
There were sure enough connections to make me sit up and take notice and to delve deeper. I have learned a lot during the course of this research. I have tried to compare and verify facts as best as I could with my limited resources. Amazing to see what has been in print and possibly taken as gospel for many years, isn't it? I am still struck by the fact that the book "The History of the Convict Ship 'Success'.." has parts in it that sound so convincing, yet have been proven to be fabrications. It is hard to know just what the real story was. I guess like with all else, we should take anything we read with a grain of salt, or maybe where it concerns ships, it should be taken with a bit of saltwater? .............................................. 
*In Ferguson's Bibliography of Australia, he gives this quote confirming the evidence of the "convict ship" museum being a hoax: "Year after year the "Success" was hawked about the sea ports, rivers and lakes of America, and year after year her notoriety and the stories about her grew and spread until 1934, when the Commonwealth Government thought the joke had gone too far and instructed the Investigation Branch of the Attorney-General's Department to make a thorough research into the real history of the "Success". 
The Australian Government representatives in America-armed with the official history of the ship, made a public statement that the showman's history of the ship was untrue, and gravely resented in Australia.  "The official representatives of Australia in the U.S.A, asked the Commonwealth Government in 1925, and again in 1931, to explore the history of this vessel. A thorough investigation of official and other records has clearly established the fact that the ship now being exhibited in the United States was never used as a convict transport........." (it went on in some detail debunking much of what was in the "Success" book and exhibition catalog). 
**As far as there being other "Success" named ships, the best known one was the "HMS Success" commanded by Capt. James Stirling which was associated with the early exploration of the Swan River area in 1827. 
***In Corfield's 'Ned Kelly Encyclopaedia' it has under the Joe Byrne entry that his grandfather in Australia in 1848 had sent for his sons to come join him, thus seemingly confirming the 1849 arrival, it goes on to say about the 1855 wedding of Patrick and Margret, BUT a couple of pages later in the Margret Byrne entry it says about her 1855 wedding to Patrick and says Patrick was a digger who had arrived in Australia "eleven" years earlier! That would have been 1844! 
****Of course, this would not be Joe Byrne's first time becoming a "man of wax."    The Ovens Murray Advertiser of July 3, 1880 had this: "Byrne in Effigy–An addition has been made to the Chamber of Horrors at the Melbourne Waxworks. The figure of the outlaw Joe Byrne, a cast of whose head was taken by Mr. Kreitmeyer, the proprietor of the Waxworks, has been added to the collection of notorious outlaws."
Also on the "More" page here at Glenrowan1880 is this newspaper tidbit:
The Herald, Friday Evening July 2 1880.                      "Waxworks… The interest in the details of the encounter which led to the destruction of the Kelly gang and the subsequent doings in what is known as the Kelly country still continues. A life-like representation of the dead bushranger Byrne has been added to Kreitmeyer's excellent collection of waxworks, and will no doubt prove a great attraction." .............................................. 
Various webpages and internet databases 
Books/Publications: The History of the Convict Ship "Success" And Dramatic Story of Some of the "Success" Prisoners, 1929, 150 pp.

The Last of England's Felon Fleet: The Convict Ship "Success," 1924, 16 pp. (Exhibition Catalogue/Pamphlet)

What They Said About Ned!–Looking at the Legend of Ned Kelly through Books (including An Annotated Bibliography of The Kelly Gang), Brian McDonald, 2004, 102 pp.

The Ned Kelly Encyclopaedia, Justin Corfield, 2003, 525 pp.

Australian Bushrangers, George Boxall, 1975, 208 pp.

Bibliography of Australia, John Ferguson.

Ovens Murray Advertiser The Herald .............................................. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Kelly Reward Board Rejectees - The Denied Two Dozen [Sharon Hollingsworth]

In late 1880 the Kelly Reward Board placed advertisements in several Australian newspapers asking anyone who thought that they should receive part of the reward for the capture of Ned Kelly to reply in writing. They received 92 applications, of which 24 were rejected. We have always heard about the lucky few who received money from it but what about those whose claims were rejected? Why did they think they should receive part of these funds and why were they turned down? I have not found full on research into this in any books or websites, so I had to go to primary resources, the papers related to the Kelly Reward Board in the Public Records Office of Victoria.

 I was able to find most of the 24 claims filed by the ones who were rejected. There are also what I call rebuttals to them which are in the forms of letters and notes from people like Hare, Sadleir, Nicolson, etc. stating why they think this individual or group should not receive a reward. As usual, I had a slight bit of trouble reading some of the writing, but I got the gist of most of it. The ones rejected for the reward form Schedule A. Schedule B was the list of the "winners." Schedule C was the list of "Claimants recommended by the Board as worthy of Special Recognition for Services rendered during the period of the search for the outlaws." Some on Schedule A were also on Schedule C.

I will list the names as they were listed on Schedule A in the official Kelly Reward Board Report, then do the corrections of who they really were. I am not sure how some of the mistakes were made in these names to start with.

Antonie Wicks

The Reward Board lists him as Antonie Wicks, but we know him as Anton Wick. His claim states that "...through my having been made use of by the outlaws Dan Kelly and Joe Byrne to call out Aaron Sherritt on the night he was shot I was instrumental in their death and the capture of the outlaw Ned Kelly."

In the rebuttal notes to the claim is this "This applicant's claim appears to be of so outrageous a character that the Sect [Secretary] did not send it forward..."

Richard Rule

In his Kelly Reward claim he says that he had been asked to join the police as a private detective and that after Sherritt was shot he was "called upon on the 27th of June without a minutes notice to take the most dangerous post between the Woolshed and Greta when it was expected they [the outlaws] would go to my post.." He only had one other constable with him. Then he spoke of how his brother was in the police force and had spent ten days and nights searching for the Kellys and had gotten "a violent cold" and had died at age 28 as a result. He spoke of how the heavy expense of doctors and so forth fell to his aged and infirm parents and that his family had all been "under the ban of the Kelly sympathisers." He asked that the board members take all that in to consideration for granting him part of the reward.
There was some discussion at the Ned Kelly forum I was involved in into whether or not this Richard Rule is the same one that was the saw-miller who had employed Ned for a short time prior to the Kelly outbreak. We could not find solid evidence as the one identified as the saw-miller was supposedly listed as the only child of his parents. Perhaps full records were not always kept or perhaps records might have been lost or destroyed somewhere along the line.

The final result of Rule's plea to board met with rejection as he was said not to be at the capture.

George Stephens

In his claim for the reward money he told of how he had been employed at Younghusband's Faithfull Creek Station at the time that the Kellys took over the homestead immediately before the Euroa robbery. He tells of how he gave evidence against Ned at his trial. After the Euroa robbery, Stephens, who was a former policeman, was asked to help search for the gang and he related how he had been sent to Glenrowan to work at the railway goods shed ("for no extra pay") so as to keep an eye on the sympathisers. He also helped Bracken a few nights a week to watch Maggie's house. He says "this work was dangerous."
The rebuttal notes to this recommend for him to be taken back in the force.

Interestingly, Stephens was quoted in the Bendigo Advertiser of August 12, 1880 as saying "I left Younghusband's station to go in search of the Kellys. I did not go for the blood money. I went both to catch the Kellys and to get a portion of the reward."

I am wondering what fine line of distinction he draws between it being reward money and blood money?

Anne Sherritt

I could not find a claim form for Anne Sherritt. I take that this is Aaron's sister who was alleged to be quite an active Kelly sympathiser who would help supply the gang with needed supplies and not Aaron's mother who was also called Anne.

Needless to say, the claim was rejected.

Ellen Sherritt

She, of course, was Aaron Sherritt's widow. She states that she submits her claim for the capture of the Kellys "Inasmuch as my late husband was the imminent cause thereof. He was in the service of the government as a police constable at the time he met with his death. As his widow therefore I claim to be dealt with in the same manner as the widows of Sgt Kennedy and Constable Lonigan, through Mr. Zincke my attorney I submitted a general claims for compensation which I trust has come under your notice..."
In the Ovens and Murray Advertiser of April 26, 1881 she stated "'I do not desire any portion of the Kelly Capture Reward, although, as Aaron's widow, I consider myself as much entitled to it as some of those recommended to participate in it; but would rather receive a respectable annuity.'

She did not get the Reward but she did get government compensation as Aaron's widow even though he was not an officer or serving in any official capacity.

Constable Thomas McIntyre

 McIntyre, in his claim says that he was instrumental in the destruction of the gang as he had provided vital information about them early in the hunt. He had arrived at Glenrowan with Standish and his contingent (those listed in the next entry) about 4 PM after the capture had taken place, so he was not able to claim the reward, though he was singled out by the Board for consideration under Schedule C (more on that later).

Sr.-Constable Patrick Walsh/Constable John Coghlan/Constable Robert Griffin/Constable Robert Bunker/Constable Thomas Waldron/Ex-Constable Perkin

Thomas Waldron was actually Thomas Walsh and Ex-Constable Perkin was William Perkins. It said that they arrived at Glenrowan about 4 PM on the 28th of June along with Captain Standish. "They found the Inn in flames and the outlaws destroyed or taken." They also say that they helped keep order and guarded Ned Kelly and were among the escorts when he left by train. All six were listed as being under the same claim (No. 7).

They were all rejected for the reward as not arriving in time to assist in the capture.

Constable J.W. Brown

He submitted a claim due to being on "special duty" in the NE of Victoria and guarding banks and other things that amounted to what he called "long arduous service."

In the rebuttal, Hare said what was usually his stock phrase " I know nothing of this man, he appears to have had nothing to do with the capture of the Kellys."

Constable W. Parker

While the Reward Board has the listing as W. Parker the claim is signed by Anthony Parker. He states that he was on special duty in the NE guarding banks during the day and watching bridges at night.
He says that "I was not at the capture of the outlaws at Glenrowan through no fault of mine..." That seemed to be a regular refrain with a few of them. I wonder if they colluded with one another or were they coached? I have also seen where Sadleir in some of his notations says some were not at the capture "through no fault of their own" before, too.

Constable J. Burton

Constable John Burton stated that he had helped to guard banks during the Kelly outbreak. He also said that "I am of [the] opinion that I am entitled to a portion of the reward although not present at Glenrowan it was my intention to have assisted at the destruction of the gang of outlaws if circumstances had permitted."

The rebuttal from Hare was that "he had nothing whatever to do with the capture of the gang nor did he undergo any hardship." Sadleir said this man's duties were confined to a part of the country where the outlaws were never known to appear.

Sr.-Constable Shahan

This is an interesting one. The Reward Board gives the name as Shahan, but the claim is signed by Sr. Constable Anthony Strahan (remember he is the one who allegedly made the threat about how he would shoot Ned down like a dog just after SBC). What is even weirder, is the fact that In The Ned Kelly Encyclopaedia there is an entry which states:

SHANAHAN, - He was a senior constable in the Victoria Police who was involved in the hunt for the Kelly  Gang in 1879-80. His application for a reward in 1881 was rejected by the Kelly Reward Board in 1881.

But, in that book the listing of the ones rejected for the reward he does not have Shanahan, he has Shahan. Corfield also has claimants who were stationmasters and postmasters being listed as "magistrates" probably because PM and SM had been used in some online reward listings.

Anyway, Strahan made a claim due to being on duty in Kelly country and enduring great hardships and becoming ill and have the expense of doctors, etc. He says he was "not offered an opportunity being present at Glenrowan" due to that illness. He made a point of saying that "some of those present at the capture never endured any hardship..."

He was rejected for not being at the capture.

Constable Hugh Stewart

He made a claim for part of the reward due to being on special duty in the North East from 1878  to 1880 on "long arduous duties" which included guarding banks.

Again, he was rejected for not being in on the capture.

Constable Skeham

The Reward Board lists his name as Skeham but the paperwork is signed Skehan. He makes his claim on the basis that in 1878 he was on special duty in the NE  in which he took "utmost care and vigilance." He said that during the last nine months of his time in the NE that he was selected to sleep at the Bank of Cashel. He says that "Though not present at the attack on Glenrowan through no fault of mine, but I attribute the cause as there being no telegraphic communications to my station although only 3 or 4 hours ride to Glenrowan."

He was another who was rejected for not being in on the capture.

Lawrence Kirwin

While the board spelled his name as Kirwin, it is actually Kirwan (or Kirwans). He was the police spy known as Renwick.
He claims that he was a guide and scout for the police and that he found the saddle taken by the gang from the police at SBC. He also said that he reported other information on the movements of the gang to the police.

He was denied a portion of the reward for not being at Glenrowan.

B.C. Williams

This was the code name used by Daniel Kennedy in correspondence with Nicolson. He was also known as Denny which was his police spy name. He says that he provided information to the police on the mould boards and gave other info.

He was denied a share in the reward for not being at Glenrowan for the capture.

Constable Falkiner

Alfred John Falkiner stated that he was always out on duty when anything of importance happened. That he traveled both night and day on search parties and was always selected for special or secret duty and that he usually got "the heaviest part of the duty." He mentioned about the cave parties and the deprivation and how he (and the others) "suffered other extreme hardships too numerous to mention." He said that he was out for 17 days and had covered 500 miles in his assignment to get intel and that due to his absence in this duty he did not reach Glenrowan until about 4 PM on the day Ned was captured.

Hare, in his extensive notation for this plays up what a great constable Falkiner was and said that "this applicant did as much work in the search for the Kellys as any man in the district and I shall be glad to hear that he has participated in the reward." Sadleir, on the other hand, said that "there was nothing in the work performed by this applicant that led in any way that I can recognise to the capture of the outlaws.."

His claim was rejected but he was listed under Schedule C for special consideration.

Mr. Lang, stationmaster

Henry  Laing was the stationmaster at Wangaratta. He put forward his claim on the ground of service rendered to the police during the whole Kelly hunt and especially on the dates of the siege.

Sadleir said that "the services had nothing to do with the capture as regards Mr Laing's proceedings on the 27th June" but added that his help was an advantage to the police and that "his conduct on the 27th seems to give him some claim on the reward."

He was rejected for the reward but was put on Schedule C for special consideration. 

Mr. Saxe, postmaster

Walter Henry Saxe was postmaster(and telegraph operator) at Benalla. In part of his claim he stated that "I would point out from the commencement to the finish of the Kelly outbreak I was personally in attendance on the police officers both Sundays and weekdays. I frequently had to remain in the office the greater portion of the night and on several occasions had to remain on duty all night and be generally on the alert. These in addition to my ordinary duties kept me completely tied to the office night and day."

At the top of the claim paper the Board Secretary had written "This applicant failed to forward his claim until nearly one month after the time appointing for receiving claims. Under any circumstances the Board could not entertain the claim of Mr Saxe."

However, his name appeared under Schedule C. 

Mr. Stephens, stationmaster

Clement Stephens was stationmaster at Benalla. He said that he is putting in for the reward because he was the means of conveying the news of Aaron's death to the police on Sunday, June 27, sooner by many hours that it might have reached them otherwise. He called attention to the fact of all the services he rendered during the hunt and that on the 27th he served purely voluntarily as he was not on regular duty that day.

Sadleir's reply: "As regards the claim I generally desire to say that nothing could exceed the courtesy and zeal of Mr Stephens at all times in affording such assistance from his department as the police required. Mr Stephens acted with promptness and judgement on Sunday the 27th of June in forwarding the information of Sherritt's murder to Mr Hare sooner by several hours that in might otherwise reach him thus enabling the police to gain several hours for preparation. His conduct on this day seems to give him some claim on the reward."

As listed above, five of the claimants - Mr. Laing - Mr. Stephens - Mr. Saxe - Constable McIntyre - and Constable Falkiner were listed under Schedule C which was for "Claimants recommended by the Board as worthy of Special Recognition for Services rendered during the period of the search for the outlaws."

In the preface to the Kelly Reward Board there is this:

"The Board regret that adherence to the terms of the Proclamation has compelled them to exclude from any share of the reward some meritorious claimants in the service of the Government, whose names will be found in Schedule C, and whom they desire strongly to recommend to the respective heads of the their departments as worthy of special recognition for the zeal displayed by them, at all times, in their several positions during the long period of the search for the outlaws."

I have read where McIntyre wished for his portion of the reward be added towards his pension. I saw a listing in a Victorian Legislative report that alluded to a 49 pound annual allowance for Constable McIntyre in addition to his pension due to being rendered unfit for duty due to the Kelly incident. I am not sure if that is down to Schedule C or not.
As for the others, in The Argus in 1883, two years after the Reward Board findings, there was a listing for "Additional Estimates submitted to the Assembly by the Treasurer" which included a 25 pound payment to Constable A. J. Falkiner, a 25 pound payment to Henry Laing, and a 50 pound payment to Clement Stevens, stationmaster. No mention was made of Mr. Saxe and I could not find subsequent info on if he ever received a portion of the special reward. I did find that in 1882 he was promoted to the head office in Melbourne, though.

Just imagine if  every policeman who had been assigned to the NE of Victoria and suffered discomfort in the Kelly hunt were to have submitted claims! There were other compensation type claims made after Glenrowan by both police and civilians, but they were not considered as being for the reward money. Those are not covered here, and may one day constitute a whole other blog post.