The Lies about Police Persecuting the Innocent Kellys


My purpose in reviewing the criminal records of the Kellys is to find out how true was their claim to be ‘Police made criminals’ and to have been hounded and persecuted by Police and Authorities generally. Kelly writers invariably point to this statement by CH Nicolson, given to the Royal Commission in 1881 as proof that the Police did indeed have such a Policy:
But I submit that Constable Thom would hardly be able to cope with these men; at the same time some of these offenders may commit themselves foolishly some day, and may be apprehended and convicted in a very ordinary manner.” This was the cause of my instructions to the police generally; and I had expressed my opinion since that to the officer in charge of that district, that without oppressing the people, or worrying them in any way, that he should endeavor, whenever they commit any paltry crime, to bring them to justice, and send them to Pentridge even on a paltry sentence, the object being to take their prestige away from them, which has a good an effect as being sent into prison with very heavy sentences, because the prestige these men get up there from what is termed their flashness helped to keep them together, and that is a very good way of taking the flashness out of them. 
This is how Peter Fitzsimons interprets that passage :
“From now on – and notwithstanding that at the time no member of the Kelly family is facing charges – it is official Police policy to look for an excuse to put the family and their cohorts behind bars, to take the flashness out of them, to give them a public lesson, to ‘bring the Kellys in on any charge’ and ‘root the Kellys out of the district’. All the Police need is the right opportunity”
Fitzsimons then goes straight on to cite a case that he believes proves the point : the arrest a couple of months later of Jim Kelly ‘for stealing a couple of horses in Wagga Wagga and – in the traditional Kelly manner – fiercely resisting arrest afterwards.’
This is complete rubbish from Peter Fitzsimons and is a good demonstration of the way in which Kelly mythology is created and sustained by disgraceful journalism. Fitzsimons disingenuously states that at the time no Kellys were even facing charges knowing full well that at that very moment in 1877 Ned Kelly was a full time stock thief. Does he not think the Police had their suspicions, were receiving complaints and were under pressure to do something? And did Fitzsimons deliberately ignore, or was his research so superficial that he missed the implication of Jims arrest in NSW occurring whilst hiding behind the alias “James Wilson”? How can arresting someone believed to be James Wilson be seen as an act of Kelly oppression? His flippant remark about the brutality with which Jim resisted arrest is another disgrace – “During all this time Smythe and Wilson were fighting most determinedly, the latter having got hold of a Iong brass candlestick, with which the ruffian beat Smythe severely about the head, inflicting no less than seven ugly wounds. Blood was flowing from Smythe in streams, completely blinding him.”The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser : Saturday 23rd June 1877

But there are a couple of other points that need to made about Nicolsons statement, which even Ian Jones admits is ‘ambiguous.’ Firstly, it was made after a visit to the Kelly house in April 1877, a very long time after start of  the extensive series of court appearances by Kellys and their relatives in the North East. It was over ten years after Red Kelly had died, seven since  Neds apprenticeship with Harry Power had ended, and was in the midst of Ned Kellys self confessed criminal career as a ‘wholesale and retail’ stock thief. Jimmy Quinns sequence of Court appearances had started in 1860! Its stupid and  dishonest to  suggest that a policy formulated in 1877  had anything at all to do with events that took place up to 17 or more years before, and yet this is what the Kelly legend teaches. Get real!
The other  way in which that quote from Nicolson is mangled by the Kelly sympathisers is to completely ignore the very important qualifications that Nicolson applies to Police behavior : he states at the very beginning that the police are NOT to  ‘oppress’ or ‘worry’ them ‘IN ANY WAY’. His advice was the very opposite of  what the Kelly sympathisers make it out to be – he said LEAVE THE KELLYS ALONE.
HELLO KELLY SYMPATHISERS IS ANYONE LISTENING? Nicolson did NOT say harass and persecute the Kellys, he said LEAVE THEM ALONE!
He said leave them alone OK? – but if they commit a crime, then  endeavor to bring them to justice, even if the crime and the sentence are paltry. He did NOT say, as Peter Fitzsimons tries to make out that they should go looking for an ‘excuse’ to put them behind bars. He said ‘LEAVE THEM ALONE’ unless they commit a crime. The truth is the Kellys, their extended contacts and the Greta Mob were a disruptive law breaking and distinctly anti-social  and criminal section of the local community and its obvious the police were fed up to the back teeth with the whole lot of them. Nicolson had decided that they had put up with this rabble for long enough – from now on if they put a foot wrong, the gloves were off.

The idea that the Kellys were persecuted is rubbish. Not one of the many charges and Court appearances of Ned Kelly, Dan Kelly and of Jim Kelly that I have examined in detail support the idea that they were based on Police prejudice or corruption. Instead what they mostly demonstrate is a colonial Justice system working with remarkable impartiality, such that quite often the Kellys received the benefit of some very considerable doubt. If you don’t believe me, go back and read my Posts.  The reality is that Ned Kelly lied when he claimed that ‘there was never such a thing as justice to be found in the English Laws but any amount of injustice  but he used his remarkable powers of persuasion to convince his supporters that it was true. Its pathetic but some of them still believe it today, though none of them seems willing to defend him here, and identify the unjust persecution they blindly  claim he suffered. 

Surely its time we STOPPED repeating Ned Kellys nasty self-serving lies about the Police? They did NOT persecute the Kellys but we know for a fact that the Police were lied to, harassed, vilified and murdered by the Kellys. And if it wasn’t for Thomas Curnow they would have murdered a whole lot more.  I’m over it!
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14 Replies to “The Lies about Police Persecuting the Innocent Kellys”

  1. You sound angry in this post Dee. Don't be angry. These events happened a long time ago. The Kellys can't hurt us now.. Studying the Kelly Outbreak is supposed to be interesting and fun. Deep breath..

  2. Mark, I think I am starting to realise what a great con the whole Kelly industry is, making out that the victims in this horror show were the Kellys. Yes, Ned Kelly was a unique and charismatic and larger than life character but the truth has been turned completely upside down with the real victims made into villains, and the real villains paraded as icons and heroes. I am beginning to see how great an injustice has been perpetrated by the Kellys on the Police, their families and their descendants Yes Mark I thinks it IS starting to make me feel angry, especially because people who should know better in this day and age go on perpetuating this injustice. Actually, after reading what Leigh Olver wrote on the NK Central FB Page recently about his speech at SBC, saying it wasn’t a time for people to be grinding axes, I am starting to think of calling for the Kelly descendants to say sorry. I don’t think he went anywhere near far enough – I think the Kellys need to say sorry and to stop perpetuating all these lies about what a great fellow Ned was and how terribly they were all persecuted by the police. Not a single person has attempted to refute my analysis of the actual criminal records of the Kellys and their associates – which is that they were not innocently persecuted and that there is very little evidence for Kelly persecution of the type and scale they allege.

  3. I have had a similar 'anger' about the Kelly story for decades. Initially it was because I was a cop myself when I started seriously reading about the 'outbreak'. But given that was some 40 years ago, what I was reading was almost always biased and painted a rosy picture of the Kellys, their extended family and supporters. My research suggested nothing which exonerated the Kelly gang of any of the numerous crimes they had committed, especially the Stringybark Creek and Sherritt murders. In more recent times published work on the subject has begun to take on a much more academic examination which has dismantled most of the long-held positive public mythology about the gang. To me this has been wonderful and as a corollary, the rose coloured glasses wearers have been not only backpedaling but in most cases seem to have actually vanished! As we have seen on this blog, they are now being challenged with well researched facts and their silence has been deafening. While I may not see it in my lifetime, I feel that one day, the whole fascinating Kelly saga will be honestly unfolded for all to see.

  4. Who were the real villains in colonial Australia?

    Dee wrote- referring to Ned Kelly and gang " the real villains parading as icons and heroes"?

    I understand the local authorities were granted military authority by the London Colonial Office. These militias were made up of paid civilians and dedicated military men, and although not compelled to serve overseas, many did in a number of British Empire fracas like Sudan, Crimea, South Africa and even in China. Not exactly a local law and order keeping exercise, but rather to help the Empire's financial interests.

    Spudee wrote – ". While I may not see it in my lifetime, I feel that one day, the whole fascinating Kelly saga will be honestly unfolded for all to see."

    So lets also look forward to getting a better understanding of our colonial masters.

    Lets also recognise that our famous Aussie colonial volunteers 'mercenaries' were sent to fight other peoples wars and murdered tens of thousands in the process, example, the Dutch farmers (boers), who just happened to have formed a republic because they had had enough of the British Empire's need for their rich commodities. Lets get it all into perspective.

    As much as I believe Ned Kelly was not all good, he was also not all that bad either if you take a look at the social and political developments of Australia and its militarization of our history. I am sure you will be shocked.

    The Australian authorities were given permission by the London Colonial Office to perform what can only be described as war crimes of un equalled horror both here in Australia and other places in the world.

    Just as Dee's effort to bring Ned Kelly under the microscope here, I am also impressed with historian and author Henry Reynolds, his book 'Unnecessary Wars, War and Australia's National Identity'

    I would recommend all readers to listen to this Pod cast on ABC Radio National –
    If time restricted, download this and at least listen from the 33 minute mark and onwards.
    Link- http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bigideas/war-and-australia's-national-identity/7357810

    I will stop defending Ned Kelly when the whole nation stops pretending our colonial masters and present day Governments did and can do no wrong.

  5. Bill, you wrote "As much as I believe Ned Kelly was not all good, he was also not all that bad either if you take a look at the social and political developments of Australia and its militarization of our history." How do you tie the 'good' Kelly into that statement?

  6. Hi Spudee,
    If a person is considered bad there has to be a gauge by which this can be measured. If, as it's proposed all the authorities, politicians, military, law keepers, were proven to be of such high morals, then Ned could be judged as not all that good, but seeing the controlling classes were prepared and kill hundreds of innocent Aboriginals, kill dozens of convicts at Castle Hill NSW and dozens of free miners at Eureka, and then have 20000 dead in the Crimea, all the work of our colonial masters, then I would say Ned was a lot less bad by comparison.

  7. Bill, I accept your argument that there was much 'bad' in our past. But those were different times and different standards, not acceptable today, were applied by authorities. However, back to Ned Kelly, which is really what this blog is all about. Apart from rescuing the drowning boy when he was young, try as I might, I can't see much good at all in Ned.

  8. Eminent historian Micheal Cannon, author of 'Who killed the Koories', says introduced disease rather than gunfire destroyed the Victorian Aborigines. Cannon had discovered the original records (in Historical Records of Victoria) and his own later research. This is another example of how history can be completely misread.

  9. Dee. Good Morning. I responded to these posts on Monday morning but you haven't posted my words of wisdom. Did you miss it or did you deem it not worthy?

  10. Sorry Mark they did not appear in the place where comments posted and waiting for moderation go, and they are not in Spam either – some do end up there from time to time – so I am sorry I am not sure where they went. This Posts widget that has stopped working after being fine for over a year is puzzling me and very annoying so I am wondering if the Site is being hacked? Please try and send your comments again – given that this one got through from you today maybe the glitch has sorted itself out? I ALWAYS put up every post that isn’t abusive or vulgar, or just a personal attack

  11. look harder spudee. it is there.

  12. Please elaborate Mark.

  13. Bill that is an absurd argument. Are you prepared to say the same thing about Martin Bryant and Ivan Milat? If you compare how bad they were with the political leaders who condoned genocide and the Generals who ordered wave after wave of infantrymen out of the trenches into enemy machine gun fire and virtually certain death, these two crims are also not so bad. But this is the logic of your argument, defending Ned, but I doubt you would accept it in regard to Milat and Bryant, though to be consistent you should. I am afraid you cant excuse Ned his crimes because there were other people who committed worse ones. Nor can you let him off the hook about the massacre he planned for Glenrowan just because he was stopped by Curnow. His heart was full of killing and violence. What you should be doing is condemning his appalling violent and murderous behaviour, and EVERYONE else’s as well, not drawing up a league table of violence and excusing Ned because his was lower down the scale. If you can excuse Ned you will quickly end up excusing the average, and much less violent wife beater, and worse by saying that Neds violence was OK by comparison, the wife beater will reassure himself that his violence is also excusable, because its a lot less than Neds was….Ned was a villain and the Kelly world have to stop kidding themselves. Like I said, I’m over it.

  14. Aussies love the iconic underdog. We seem to go their way the majority of the time. (most of us seem to anyway. And no, I don't have stats Dee..). Ned, John Gilbert, Captain Thunderbolt, Chopper Read, Squizzy Taylor, Breaker Morant… Even guys like Alphonse Gangitano and the underbelly crew that Channel 9 glorified.. We seem to find them glamourous.. Maybe Dee you should turn your high powered perceptions to why this is? Milat, Bryant, Von Einem, James Miller etcc do not fall into this category. They were/are just filthy garbage. Even the dumb aussie would not dare venerate them.

    And as I said on your FB page, Susy Scott of Euroa, respectable, articulate, had some good things to say about Ned. And many more offered effusive praise. Eric Lambert, constable Faulkner, Robert Jon Clow, Manning Clark; Alex Fitzpatrick, Frank Hare.. Ned was certainly a good salesman. I will give him that. But looming it over it all, the Armour and helmet have ensured he will never be forgotten. The helmet has made him a brand.

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