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Monday, June 4, 2012

The Insurance Claim for the Glenrowan Inn [Sharon Hollingsworth]

 There was a recent google alert for an article called "Insurance Records Reveal Ned Kelly History" that was in the Herald Sun on May 16, 2012. At the time it first came out I did not put it here at the Eleven Mile Creek blog. After thinking about it a while I have decided to add it and to address something in it that does not seem to fit in with known facts (the known facts being that Ann Jones did not have an insurance policy on the Glenrowan Inn and that the policy was held by someone else who collected on it). I am sure that many Kelly researchers are aware of these facts, but the average reader who has not delved deeply into the Kelly saga would believe that Mrs. Jones was compensated by the insurance company after reading the newspaper article, when she actually wasn't.

Here is an excerpt from the Herald Sun article:

"The insurance claim for a fire that destroyed the Glenrowan Inn as the bushranger Ned Kelly sheltered inside is one of 3000 historical records donated to the Victorian State Library.

The documents have history buffs salivating and provide a window into Australia's past, says state library spokesman Matthew van Hasselt.

"On the surface they look like dry corporate records," he told AAP on Wednesday.

But the records, donated this week, can help historians piece together the small but crucial details that allow us to unlock past events, Mr van Hasselt said.

"Historians like to get into the nitty gritty details and the peculiarities of the time."

The records, provided by Suncorp Insurance, chronicle the Australian insurance industry from 1833 to 1970.

The documents show the police destruction of the Glenrowan Inn in the famous 1880 confrontation with the Kelly gang resulted in a 100 pound insurance claim being paid to inn operator Mrs Ann Jones.

The Colonial Mutual Fire insurance company paid the sum but later successfully claimed the money back from Victoria Police....."

To read more:

There are quite a few other news articles that echoes the same information that is in the Herald Sun, but the State Library of Victoria blog - -does not directly say that the insurance claim was paid to Ann Jones.

The SLV blog has this bit of information on interesting items in the papers donated to them:

 Minute Book: Colonial Mutual Fire Insurance Co Limited: Board Minute Book 1878-1880 re Ned Kelly Pub fire

Contains a report on the Ned Kelly siege at Glenrowan and destruction of the Glenrowan Inn operated by Mrs Ann Jones. The claim shows £100 was paid with a request for reimbursement forwarded to Victorian colonial Chief Secretary.

Ok, I can see from the proceeding where the press might have gotten the wrong idea that Mrs. Ann Jones was paid by the insurance company. But the following shows that it was not the case.

The Public Records Office of Victoria has the Minutes of the Board appointed to enquire into claims made by Mrs. Jones for compensation of the Glenrowan Hotel.

In testimony before the Board from November of 1881 William Robert Jarvis, a storekeeper, said that he helped Mrs. Jones build the inn by "finding the means to build it." He also helped supply some of the materials, though the actual construction was done by another party.

In the testimony there was this exchange regarding the Glenrowan Inn between Jarvis and Mr. Chomley (on behalf of the Crown):

Chomley: Was the house insured?

Jarvis: Yes.

Chomley: In what office?

Jarvis: The Colonial Mutual, I think.

Chomley: For what amount?

Jarvis: 100 pounds.

Chomley: To what, the entire building and stock?

Jarvis: The building only.

Chomley: Did Mrs. Jones herself effect the insurance?

Jarvis: No, I did.

Chomley: How did you come to?

Jarvis: Directly after it was built because we had a lien on it and knew if it got burnt down and Mrs. Jones not able to pay we should lose, so we insured it for the amount of our lien.

Chomley: Was that the only insurance on it?

Jarvis: Yes.

Chomley: Was there any on the stock?

Jarvis: Not that I am aware of.

Chomley: Was that insurance [could not make out word] up to the time of the fire?

Jarvis: Yes.

Chomley: Has it been paid?

Jarvis: Yes

[Asked] By the Board:  To whom?

Jarvis: To us.

Then later in the same PROV papers there is a letter from the Colonial Mutual Insurance Company, complete with company seal, that has this bit in it:

Referring to the destruction of Jones' Hotel Glenrowan by the police, which Hotel was insured with this company and the claim on property of such insurance amount 100 pounds paid 20 July, was refunded by the Goverment on 21st July....

So, it seems that the insurance company paid Mr. Jarvis for his loss, and then the insurance company got paid by the Government for their loss due to the Victorian Police's action. Seems that the only one not getting money out of the deal was Mrs. Jones, and she had lost more than anyone.

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