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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mr. Hare and Mrs. Kelly: Two Ends of a Very Wide Spectrum [Sharon Hollingsworth]

There seems to have been a really wide divide between the lifestyles of Superintendent Francis Hare and Ned Kelly's mother, Ellen Kelly.

I chose Superintendent Hare as a counterpoint to Mrs. Kelly as he was someone who really liked his creature comforts and the finer things in life. We can see that from his frequent sojourns at William Clarke's Rupertswood estate. (Hare's wife, Janet, was aunt to Clarke's second wife, also named Janet.)

Yet, we can contrast that opulence with the time Hare spent sleeping rough while on the Kelly hunt.

In his book "Last of the Bushrangers" he relates after coming in after spending weeks on the cave party:

 "On my arrival at Benalla I told Captain Standish that the hardships I had gone through had affected my constitution, and I was not fit to go out with the search party again, and I wished him to relieve me,  as I had been camping out for eight or nine months."

Of course, Mr. Hare only suffered deprivation by default for a short while due to his work duties. But having married a socially well-connected (and wealthy) widow and having a salary in 1885 of 650 pounds per year (plus allowances) and not forgetting his share ("the lion's share") of the Kelly reward money (800 pounds), he was pretty well set up in his twilight years.

During the Kelly hunt Hare lived at the Richmond barracks, but after his retirement, he moved up in the world.

In 1881, William Clarke commissioned a row of three terrace homes which he named "Janet Terrace" in honour of his wife.

An advertisement from the Argus of November 18, 1881 for Janet Terrace:

East Melbourne

TO LET, with immediate possession,  those newly erected and splendidly furnished residences known as Janet-terrace, Hotham-street, each containing dining and drawing room, 6 bedrooms, kitchen, servant's room, bathroom, pantries, and every convenience.

It did not give the rate, but in 1893, another advert for Janet Terrace stated that they rented for 130 pounds per year and in 1914 the going rate was 330 pounds.

Mr. and Mrs. Hare took up residence at #1 Janet Terrace at 96 Hotham Street some time after it had been initially let to Graham Berry. From what I have read, the Hares lived there a total of eight years. Do you think they got mate's rates? ;)

See this link for what Janet Terrace looks like today:

 #1 Janet Terrace, Hare's old residence, is the odd looking one on the left. It USED to look like the classy and beautifully elegant terrace houses in the middle and on the right. It is a shame that a later owner turned it into a boarding-house and in order to get more space to rent out they closed in the entire front, including those lovely ornate balconies. (In my mind's eye I can just imagine Hare standing on the balcony waving a handkerchief at Freddie Standish as he passed by!) Very sad that it had to be Hare's home that they basically ruined for greed! The inside was, thankfully, restored to its original splendour by a later owner.

Even though the advert said it was fully furnished I suppose the Hares moved in some of their own furnishings because the executors of the estate of "the late F.A. Hare, Esq., P.M." staged an auction on September 20, 1892. His wife did not wish to continue living there, choosing to go and set up household with another widow lady, Mrs. Charles MacMahon (MacMahon had been on the Kelly Reward Board).

The advertisement started off with:

"Sale of Elegant Household Furniture, Piano by Rosener, Superior Colonial Wine, Hooded Buggy."

Some of the stuff listed in the advertisement were an upright piano, walnut tables (chess/card/occasional), oriental settees, lace curtains, house and table linens, Brussels carpet, brass and nickel mounted bedsteads, cedar wardrobes, large Cheval glass, French clock in gilt, kitchen utensils, etc. and a "very handsome four-wheeled hooded buggy in capital order."

That is one auction catalogue I would love to get my hands on!

Let's contrast Superintendent Hare's well appointed residence of twelve rooms on three storeys  with how Assistant Commissioner C. H. Nicolson described the Kelly homestead for the Royal Commission in 1881. He spoke of the conditions he found Mrs. Kelly living in in April of 1877:

"...I visited the notorious Mrs. Kelly’s on the road from hence to Benalla. She lived on a piece of cleared and partly cultivated land on the road-side, in an old wooden hut, with a large bark roof. The dwelling was divided into five apartments by partition of blanketing, rags, &c. There were no men in the house, only children and two girls of about fourteen years of age, said to be her daughters. They all appeared to be existing in poverty and squalor."

Then there were these bits from B.W. Cookson's "Kelly Gang From Within" newspaper series:

August 27, 1911

"..she begs her visitors draw near the fire and enjoy the warmth of the blazing logs. It is the ordinary bush fireplace, occupying one end of the living-room. Some food is in process of preparation in a kerosene tin that swings over the blaze."

[Compare that with the marble surrounds of the fireplaces at Janet Terrace!]

Cookson, Aug. 28, 1911

“Look at me now,” continued the old woman sadly. “Look what I’ve come to. Old and weak, and feeble, and have to stay in this place, where there is no comfort or anything like it. The life is too hard - too hard and rough. I could have stood it once, but not now. I am not strong enough. Look at this miserable place. Could anything be more comfortless?"
Indeed there was no sign of comfort about the hovel save the fire. The rough planks of the floor were slimy with the mud that had been carried in from outside. The furniture was of the poorest and scantiest. There was a sleeping apartment just off the living-room, and a small section of a city doss-house would have looked luxurious alongside it. There was no food in sight save a lump of stale-looking bread. And as for lights - well, it was obvious that there would be not even dripping to spare for slush lamps in that household. The children were poorly clad, but their clothes were clean - as, indeed, was everything about the place that could be made clean. But the general pervading tone was one of extreme poverty, and discomfort, and desolation.
“Here, in this poor place, with these little children, is this a life for any woman?” continued the mother of the outlaws, sadly. “Is this a fit reward for being a mother? There’s no justice in the country - no such thing as justice. There’s nothing but cruelty and persecution. Think what the police have done to me and mine, and then tell me if you wonder that the boys turned and smote the ones that had so persecuted them.”

Mrs. Kelly was truly on the opposite end of a very wide spectrum!

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