I am not going to be making new Posts for a few weeks as I am heading overseas for a long break. I will not be able to moderate Comments as readily as I usually can so the Blog is going to slow down for a bit. Normal service will resume in November but there may be the occasional Post before then, perhaps from Guests if they ever get round to writing the things they promised me!
Meanwhile enjoy the humour and creativity of some wonderful Aussie kids in their retelling of the Kelly Legend.
(Visited 77 times)
42 Replies to “I am on Holiday”
Dee, you have done terminal damage to the Kelly Legend for several years. No wonder they are lambasting you from afar! Come back after your holiday and squish them again!
Happy Hols Dee!
The fellow with the FB book hate page will assume you have gone overseas to NZ because he has misidentified you as the author of that book. If the lazy genealogical "expert" had bothered to read the Weekly Times review of the book, he would know this is completely untrue.
He is a major embarrassment to the Kelly cause, plays Blind Man's Bluff with genealogy, his research is woeful.
Have a great holiday Dee. Are you coming to Australia?
On his FB hatesite page, Mick Fitzsimons is promoting a musical "Ned Kelly: My Love" which is based on the Neducator's daft claims about Ettie Hart, his GG Grandmother.
The blurb about the musical says:
Ned Kelly, My Love
November 9-November 13
A musical by Xavier Brouwer
The Untold Story of Ettie Hart. Recent historical research has uncovered strong evidence that Ned Kelly was secretly betrothed to the sister of his fellow gang member, Steve Hart. This is her story.
Wed- Sat | 8pm
Sunday | 2pm
$35 | $25 conc | $30 groups of four or more
There isn't a shred of "strong evidence" at all. Its just wishful thinking. C'mon Neducator provide some real facts!
Dee. 126,869 page hits. Pretty impressive. Beats everything else by miles. Well done.
A new book NED-Knight in Aussie Armour by Eugenie Navarre THE KELLY SECRETS sells for AUD 59.95 and claims Dan Kelly survived Glenrowan and that 'The Kelly Gang Unmasked" assertion that the Kelly Reublic is a modern myth is wrong. You'll have to review this when you get back, Dee!
Spudee I have read the outrageous nonsense written about you by Fitzy on his hateful FB page and the absurd suggestions you and I are the same person or else partners . I would suggest NOT RESPONDING on his Page because Fitzy is the Donald Trump of the Kelly world, a blundering ignoramus whose main tactic is to lie and to bully – and also like Trump has been thrashed time and again by a woman!
However he must be encouraged to continue as even Kelly enthusiasts have recognised the massive damage he is doing to their cause, have implored him to shut the f… Up but he continues on his foolish way with the support of a small group of like-minded idiots who provide him with 'likes' to get his attention but of course identify themselves as equally ill informed and gutless.
But it's your call Spudee!
Fantastic news about the Ned Kelly Forum – it's about to be shut down because the poor bugger trying to keep it going has run out of funds! The Loud mouth bully has offered condolences but not prepared to put his money where his mouth is. I wonder if any of the other morons who belong to it are going to cough up, pass the hat round or try to keep it going somehow ? I doubt it. My Blog is presiding over the terminal decline of the Kelly fairy stories, and we all should take a bow!
Bye bye NKF!
The poor fella considering I was the person who encouraged him to greate a NKForum after KC2000.
I did warn Trent it would be a rocky road and it all went pear shaped when he banned both Carla and myself from being members because he was told to dump us if he wanted a successful NK forum tied to the most powerful in the field. We surely must be the real cause why no one wants to post on NKF because we weren’t there! What horrible powerful people we must be to have closed down a whole NKForum ?
I have read Fitzy's erudite post post about me and right from the start his research capabilities are very clear. While I have said that I am a retired police officer, at no time have I said that I served in Vicpol because I didn't. So where he got that one from, heavens knows! I was with another police service as well as a crime commission but they shall remain nameless. While I am by no means an expert on SBC, I am satisfied that what Bill's research suggests is the correct site of the police camp and shooting is the most logical.
Just visited that FB hate page about the book. What a huge mess it is. Some commentators are even more absurd than the blogger. I assumed Spudee was Vicpol also, but now join Fitzy in the Dunce's corner. I'm not standing close, because he is a real clot, and I'm not.
I think NKF has run out of puff too, and won't be missed! They were planning to take over the Ned Kelly Weekend. But that's dead and cremated as Tony Abbot would say. The treatment of Bill and Carla, and others, was awful. The guy who ran the site was a bumbler who made a hash of everything – even copywrite!!!
The nut with the FB book hatepage is on borrowed time too.
Now their FB page has disappeared as war breaks out between the nasty wannabe film star and Trent who I think at least had his heart in the right place. Fitzy wrecked that joint.
How did Ned Kelly miss Fitzpatrick at a yard and a half during the Fitzpatrick Incident? Because he was drunk? Consider this: Ned charged up to the door of his mother's house with revolver drawn, presumably after being alerted at the nearby old hut (used as the men's hut) by Skillion, that a policeman had come to arrest Dan.
Ned asked Skillion just after the shooting why he didn't tell Ned who the policeman was. That would explain why Ned thought it might be Constable Flood (O&M, 10 October 1878, p. 4, “The arrest [of Dan] would have involved serious consequences to himself and others, and imagining the Constable was a man against whom he had a special hatred, he rushed in and fired, with a deliberate desire to commit murder”). See the full story and references in my 'Redeeming Fitzpatrick' article which can be downloaded free from 'Eras Journal' 2015.
My hypothesis is that he blundered in tanked, saw the uniform, and fired. That would also explain the part of Fitzpatrick's testimony when he said, 'are you trying to murder me?', after being shot in the wrist. Ned then realised it was Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick fainted. Hypothetically that is when Ned came to some of his senses, and the conversation about what to do with him took place, of which Fitzpatrick heard the tail end as he came to while still lying on the floor.
Ned had a history of being plastered. Of course if you ask Ned, the time he was arrested for public drunkenness in Benalla, it was because a policeman spiked his drink! His mother's shanty was a known illegal groggery (O&M 11/1/1879), and the only reason charges for illegally selling alcohol against her failed was because the officer for the prosecution couldn't identify the woman who sold him alcohol. Ned was operating a still up in the ranges later if not already; he was obsessed with repeatedly accusing Fitzpatrick of drunkenness, although as I have shown Fitzpatrick had one drink at Winton en route to the Kelly’s. Ned abused Lindsay’s licensed Winton hotel as a shanty in his Jerilderie letter, which rather reflects the carry-on at his own place.
A farmer remembered having a beer with Ned and two others of the gang after the Jerilderie robbery (Advertiser, 25 May 1954, p.1). Local folklore has Ned drinking at the Vine hotel in Wangaratta while on the run, and it is a feature of the hotel. I have seen a couple of other references to Ned’s drinking, and am keen to collect more. If anyone can help, please reply with clear reference details like the above.
I thought the premise of this site Death of a Legend was to provide fact based evidence to draw a conclusion. Not supposition. I do not believe that it can work when it suits one argument but not another.
Ned was also pretty smashed before the Glenrowan Siege I reckon due to train delay. The booze in him probably saved his life ironically in the cold and blood loss.
Thanks, Mark. Searching on that clue produced the Australian Dictionary of Biography http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/kelly-edward-ned-3933 that says, "Little sleep and much consumption of alcohol affected their judgement and, although the armour limited their movements and use of firearms, it gave them a false sense of invulnerability." Of course that's a bit on the opinion side rather than a historical source, but I'm sure there's some historical mention somewhere along those lines.
I know they got some brandy for him after capture, but that's medicinal and for the pain of gunshot wounds, so that doesn't count as boozing. But it may be that some earlier alcohol eased his pain and kept him going.
For anyone who hasn't raised a glass to Ned at the Vine hotel, it's a must-do. You go down into the cellar and there's the remains of a narrow bolt-hole that ran under the old road, where they say the boys used to crawl through to escape if the traps came. Exciting stuff indeed, just like that 'The Great Escape' movie feeling!
Further to that, another popular supposition is that Ned gave a defiant speech from the gallows (Frank Clune and subsequently), which I recently blew up with my Last Words article, much to the disgust of several people who apparently can't read footnotes or use Trove to confirm the evidence for themselves. It's not like I invented any of the historical sources I quoted.
Then there is the supposition of a NE Republic of Victoria, writ large by Ian Jones since the 1967 Wangaratta Kelly conference, for which no evidence has ever surfaced, as discussed by some other people somewhere else on this blog and in other places. I have only had a bit of a look at this yet, but what I have found so far only counts against it.
Last is the supposition your comment may refer to, that I appear to be making a supposition about Ned being drunk when he fired at Fitzpatrick and missed at a yard and a half. This is a hypothesis that would fit the facts, not a supposition. It occurred to me while reading Ian Jones’ ‘Short Life’ that he dismisses Fitzpatrick’s statement about that as impossible, as Ned was an expert marksman. But first, Ned’s claimed expertise is all based on reports of times after the target practice period at the reinforced log hut near Stringybark Creek. Second, suppose he missed because he was intoxicated? Not an unreasonable theory, and consistent with other statements as above.
To test the hypothesis, we have to consider Ned’s drinking habits. How likely is it that he was sitting around having a quiet one in the men’s hut that Monday afternoon? Ian Jones ‘Short Life’ (2003: 89) says regarding 1877, “The Monday in Benalla Ned became drunk, which was unusual. He did not ‘care about grog’ and was never seen drunk on any other occasion’. This comes from Patrick Quinn, who told the Royal Commission at Q17716 that he had said to Insp. Nicolson, “they [the gang] are good bushmen and good horsemen, and they do not care about grog, and it will be very hard to entrap them into any place.” The context is that the gang on the run are not likely to be captured in a hotel, not that Ned had become a Methodist. The statement is clearly false in respect of Dan and Joe Byrne. For example, we have Dan and the Lloyd brothers’ drunken robbery at Goodman’s store in Winton (Jones, p. 90). But what do we know of Ned? Constable Flood spoke to Ned at a pub in Greta, where Ned ‘pretended to be drunk’ and insulted Flood. (Royal Comm. Q12609). This does not imply Ned was sober, but that he pretended to be drunk so he could get away with giving cheek. There are other indications that Ned liked a drink. Maybe the hypothesis will fail, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth considering.
Hi Greg, yes, you're right, but searching for evidence also means putting up hypotheses and testing them against evidence. Supporters of Ned and the boys have made numerous suppositions over the years, which are gleefully clung to as fact; unfortunately the evidence has often been selective and one-sided. In particular, it has been cheerfully supposed and accepted that Fitzpatrick was drunk when he went to arrest Dan at Mrs Kelly's house in April 1878, that he made advances to Kate, that he had no legal authority as he did not take a paper warrant, that he shot himself in the wrist then perjured himself against Mrs Kelly, Ned and the rest, and that his sworn testimony was a tissue of lies.
This supposition has been almost universally accepted ever since Kenneally's twisted misrepresentation and highly selective presentation of evidence in the 1920s. But there are numerous contradictions between this theory and other historical documents of the day. That led someone to have the bright idea, suppose it was possible to reconstruct Fitzpatrick's testimony from its several partial sources, then rigorously test it against other statements and evidence, and see to what extent it stands up. Can it be proved Fitzpatrick was lying? Can it be proved he was telling the truth? Can it be proved he was part truthful or part lying, and if so, can we find out what parts, and add more detail to the Kelly story?
The result was my Fitzpatrick article, that went through every source that had ever been mentioned about the Fitzpatrick Incident, and a whole lot more that hadn't, especially documents favourable to Fitzpatrick that didn't suit the personal bias of some prominent so-called historians. That showed in rigorous and minute detail that Fitzpatrick's testimony could be reconstructed, tested, corroborated, and vindicated, while reviewing every source document in its original unskewed context. It also showed, with evidence, that the above suppositions were twaddle based mostly on the lies of Ned Kelly, his family and associates. The score: 1 to Fitzpatrick, 0 to Kenneally and most writers since.
Stuart, your question about Ned having missed Fitzpatrick at very close range is an interesting one. Much of the information relating to Ned's use of firearms suggests he was a 'crack shot' etc. which may in principle have been true. Along with the others in the gang he had clearly been practicing his marksmanship for some time at the Kelly Camp near SBC. However, when it came to his handling and loading of firearms, Ned was in my opinion,lacking.
The incident involving Fitzpatrick suggests that Ned fired the shot which hit the policeman from a .31 calibre 1849 model 'Pocket' Colt, cap and ball revolver. In his book The 'Kelly Gang Unmasked', Ian Macfarlane discusses this weapon in some detail (p.85 – 87). I own a cased pair of these lovely little pistols but have never fired them. The first impression you get when you see a Pocket Colt is how small they really are. In size, they are nothing like the '6 shooters' most of us associate with the American Wild West. The butt alone disappears into my own fist when holding it.
During the American Civil War they were carried by men on both sides but were never seen as a primary combat weapon, rather a 'back-up' to be carried in a pocket for emergencies. They had originally been designed for the civilian market as a concealable self-defence weapon. The model was eventually dropped by Colt because of its lack of 'hitting' power; they were just too underpowered.
To achieve an accurate load of black powder to be placed in each cylinder, you really need to have the correct length spout on a powder flask. Without this it is just guesswork and trial and error. Perhaps this is what happened at the Kelly house when Fitzpatrick came calling.
But as far as Ned's use of firearms was concerned he was something of a troglodyte. During the Kelly outbreak the use of percussion firearms had just about faded into history with the more reliable cartridge weapons taking over. Admittedly, colonial police forces were slow to adapt but it seems this was due to budget constraints. In the case of the Victoria Police the Kelly gang's activities had at least forced them to bite the bullet (sorry!) and find the money to rearm its men, at least in the north east.
Following the shootings at SBC, Kelly and his mates then had the new, state-of-the-art Webley RIC No.1 model .45 calibre cartridge revolver, one of the best pistols in the world at that time. However, the gang only had a very limited supply of ammunition for these pistols and their attempts to adapt similar ammunition to fit the Webleys failed, so these pistols became largely irrelevant.
At SBC they had also managed to take the borrowed .50 calibre Spencer repeating carbine carried by the Mansfield Police party. While this weapon had been around since the mid 1860s, it was still a very good weapon. I also have one of these and to me they are a simple weapon to use. They hold 7 rounds in a magazine in the stock and are simply loaded by a lever handle (similar to a Winchester) which positions a bullet into the breech. The hammer is cocked by hand and the carbine is ready. Very simple.
But even this weapon seems to have been placed in the too-hard basket by Kelly, as apparently he could not come to grips with its 'complexity'. I think it was eventually given to one of the gang's supporters and Ned resorted to his old, crooked Snyder.
While I can't find a source, I also seem to recall that Ned accidentally shot and wounded a hostage (?) in the prelude to Glenrowan.
So while Ned may have been a crack-shot, his expertise seems to have revolved (sorry!) around outdated antiquated firearms, a victim of his times.
Hi Spudee, with those Kelly era weapons, I'll have to rename you Dangerous Dan… I know nothing about guns, but a book I read a while back, Gregory Blake, 'Eureka Stockade: A ferocious and bloody battle', Newport: Big Sky, 2012, goes into firearms, black powder and gunshot wounds of that slightly earlier period in detail. Blake discusses the small scale and unreliability of the .31 pocket Colt. Also, Bill Denheld's 'Two huts at Stringybark Creek' website looks at the sort of bullets used in that era, http://www.denheldid.com/twohuts/bullets.html and Ian Jones did a magazine article years ago, which I haven't seen yet, called ‘Six Kelly Guns From Glenrowan’, Caps and Flints, September 1980, Vol. 7, p. 170.
The Glenrowan captive shot in the face by Ned while 'fiddling' with a revolver was George Metcalf, who later died of his injury, http://prov.vic.gov.au/whats-on/exhibitions/ned-kelly/the-police-case Our folk hero strikes again.
Ned was even getting a skinful after his arrest at Glenrowan. Constable Dyson gave him the last 'nobbler' of a bottle of brandy, and Insp Sadleir sent Dyson to get a full bottle. After a ransomware attack, I'm gradually getting back to normal. I should be able to provide citations soon. The gang also liked gin. 'The Kelly Gang Unmasked' mentions Wallace taking grog to the gang.
Ned was possibly a great pisspot! Was he drunk at SBC?
The Vine Hotel was, I think, where William Baumgarten was arrested for receiving the Kelly stolen horses in 1877. The horses were re-stolen from the Wangaratta Police paddocks and started turning up along the banks of the Murray with their throats cut (or decapitated), brands removed and burned. Warrants for the arrest of Dan and Ned Kelly were issued, leading to the Fitzpatrick attempted murder, SBC and Glenrowan.
Thanks for that link to Metcalf's shooting Stuart. As the PROV notes, Ned should have been charged with Metcalf's death also. As far as my knowledge of guns is concerned, I am really no expert, particularly in the field of antique weapons but I read a lot! Have been to Bill's site many, many times but would love to read Ian Jones' article 'Six kelly Guns from Glenrowan'.
I have a good mate who is a very good metal detectorist relic hunter and an avid student of bushranging history. About 20 years ago he went to Glenrowan to examine the scene of the siege. He is an ex military sniper/scout and is very good at 'reading' ground. He went to a number of sites where he thought the police might have been positioned during the siege and settled on one which I think might have been the location of a school house. He set to work with his detector and soon recovered quite a few cartridge cases of the type and calibres used by the police at the time. What a find!
But to compound my envy, he told me that around that same time he had researched the murder of Aaron Sherritt and the location of the Sherritt house. From this he was then able to determine where Anton Wicks' hut had been. You will recall that Wicks was used to get Sherritt to open the door of his house and to be subsequently murdered.
My mate again got to work with his detector and found traces of an old leather pouch containing, can you believe it, 3 gold Sovereigns! I am turning bright green as I write.
He and I have worked a number of bushranging sites associated with Ben Hall and the notorious Clarke brothers with some success.
Of course, I meant Constable Dwyer not Dyson (silly clot that I am).
RC 1857: – Joe Byrne gets a bottle of grog. RC 3149: – one of the gang purchases a bottle of brandy. RC 9482: – Wounded Ned gets a nobbler of brandy from Const Dwyer… Mr. Sadleir seeing from his sucking his beard that he would like more brandy, told me to fetch a bottle of brandy. Mr. Sadleir gave him the brandy, and I gave him the bread. RC 9486: Ned Kelly said, when he saw his best friend dead, he had no more faith in them; he left the house. RC 9487: Did you hear him say that?—I believe I did hear Ned Kelly say that at the time. He told Mr. Sadleir they were cowards, and would not surrender.
Hi Horrie, just checking the references with thanks – I get RC 1859 (in combination with 1858), that the gang went to Moon's Pioneer Hotel at Everton on the Monday after the Stringybark murders, "and one of them, or their friends, got a bottle of grog there. I believe it was Joe Byrne himself got it". RC 9482 starts off with Dwyer taking a bottle of brandy around and giving a nip and a slice of cake to the policemen around the Glenrowan inn, then Ned asking him for a nip at the station, then Dwyer getting some more brandy and bread for Ned, as you said.
At RCQ 3255, Inspector Montford told the Commission that when the Kellys were still boys, "Their mother kept a grog-shop on the Eleven-mile Creek".
From "The Kelly Gang Unmasked" book:
There were smashed bottles found outside the Kelly fortress at Germans Creek.
According to the Melbourne Age on 10 June 1882, a ‘remarkable discovery’ was made by the police about six months after to the events at Glenrowan: While scouring the country in the vicinity of Hurdle Creek a solitary hut was found in the bush. It presented the appearance of having some time previously been in permanent occupation. It was fitted up with four bunks, and the place was strewn with empty tins, such as those used for preserved fish and meat, an immense quantity of bottles, and similar indications of good living. [The Kelly Gang Unmasked. p 229]
On another occasion, Jack [Sherritt] approached Wallace, who was sitting in a buggy, and observed it was filled with a bag of bread, a case of brandy and a quantity of preserved meats and tinned fish. Wallace had headed off in the direction of Hurdle Creek. [The Kelly Gang Unmasked. p. 183]
By 1870 the Kelly hut at Greta began its reputation as a grog shanty. On 30 March 1870, a drink of brandy was served to undercover liquor licence inspector William Thomas. At the subsequent court case in early May, however, Thomas was unable to identify that it was Ellen Kelly who had served him or one of her family. [The Kelly Gang Unmasked. p.41]… a local newspaper later characterised the Kelly shanty as ‘a groggery and a gambling hell’. [The Kelly Gang Unmasked. p.41].
Great stuff, Horrie, guaranteed to rankle the faithful. I have just found the Report of Constable Falkiner in Royal Commission Appendix 15, which says that at one point during his search for the gang “they were at the Buckland Flat, and were getting provisions at a Chinese store at that place, that they came down off the ranges two at a time, and tied their horses outside, and got plenty of grog and provisions, and carried them away. This they did frequently.”
Very interestingly, he also says that “Superintendent Hare spoke to Constable Canny and I, and directed us to take a trip in the bush, and see if we could not get some information. Superintendent Hare -told us that we could go where we thought best, and when we found it convenient to send him a few lines, and giving me his private address. We came to the conclusion that it would be best to carry no firearms, and if anything urgent was to turn up, to come to the nearest telegraph office and speak to him”. So again, it is complete rubbish that the police were out to shoot the gang on sight rather than arrest them, but old myths die hard.
While of course Ned did take a drink now and then (would be safer than some of the water available at times, especially if you worry that sources might be poisoned per unsubstantiated rumors, also no one wants to get "beaver fever"), I don't think he was quite the drinker that Dan and Joe were. While it is hearsay, in Cookson, a man who claims he was held hostage by the gang for a short while, noted how Dan and Joe both were heavy drinkers, but Ned was not. (Steve was on watch and not there for him to observe) He said that when they first brought him back to the hut, Dan and Joe both immediately took swigs from a whisky bottle. He said that "I noted with surprise the leader did not touch the liquor." Later after a meal, cards are brought out and a game of euchre was begun with the hostage and Dan, Joe, and Ned. He said that "the whisky bottle was produced, and between them Byrne and Dan soon emptied it, and from some hiding place outside the hut another was soon produced." The next morning "one by one the bushrangers arose. The leader of the gang went forth, no doubt to satisfy his anxious mind that no enemy might lurk within the vicinity of the stronghold. The first movement of the other two was to the whisky bottle, as Byrne remarked, "to have an eye-opener." When Dan and Ned left for a while Joe drank some (actually, much) more. Eventually the hostage was released as Ned had found out that he was who he said he was (a station hand) and not a policeman. He said "I had to promise not to betray them or their hiding place, and then, after a whisky round, they took me through the ranges to where I could find my way back and set me free."
Even though the account is anecdotal, still, it seems to concur with the popular notion that Ned did not partake of the grape or grain as much as the others. Maybe Ned had a round of the whisky at the last when the hostage was let go, but he seems to have wanted to keep his wits about himself so as to be able to respond to any threat to their safety. He had the weight of the world on his shoulders to protect the others, while they seemed to self-medicate, whether due to boredom, stress, anxiety, or fear.
Thanks Sharon; for the benefit of anyone trying to find this, it is from Mr Turner while captive in the log fortress hut at Bullock Creek (Cookson, 19 and 20 Sept.). After cards, as they go to bed down for the night, Ned goes out on watch while "the other two members of the gang, who were by this time considerably under the influence of the liquor they were imbibing, made their preparations for retiring." I'm not sure about Ned needing especially to respond to anything then, as they were in the isolated log hut, so I suspect only a habitual look-out watch, and probably done in turns, as Hart was on watch initially. The next morning, as you said, Joe and Dan start the day with a whisky.
Ned may have been taking it easy or, as you suggest, he may not have drunk as much or as frequently as the others; or maybe not on that occasion because as Turner says, he was on watch that night. I guess what I'm wondering is whether he was on the grog the night of the Fitzpatrick incident, as a possible explanation of how he could miss a man "at a yard and a half", as Ned said, (although actually 2 yards, as Ned fired from the doorway and Fitzpatrick was in the middle of a 12 foot wide room, as detailed in my downloadable "Redeeming Fitzpatrick" article. Ned has misrepresented Fitzpatrick's statement; the "yard and a half" is from Fitzpatrick's testimony about where he stood in relation to the bedroom door behind him).
I see Cookson also interviewed Mrs Jones from the Glenrowan Inn. She says, "At this [early] time all the gang were quite sober. Byrne had had a few drinks. He came up and snatched a bottle of brandy out of the bar. … I implored Ned Kelly not to let them take the liquor away. He said he wouldn't let them, but he did nothing to stop them. They were all eager to get drunk. And they got pretty drunk. They started preparing to go away, … But they got wandering all over the house, and some of them couldn't get their iron hats over their heads. It was the liquor that caught them – nothing else." Dutch courage? This was before Curnow got away.
Mrs Jones later says, "Dan Kelly and Hart … were the last in the place, except the old swagman, who was shot by the police as my poor children were. They were drinking all the time, and Byrne, too. When Byrne was killed by a police bullet he was just lifting a glass of brandy. After that the other two got desperate and drank all the more." So I'm still sceptical…
Who drank what, where and when, are moot points as pointed by Sharon. But the image of Ned sucking his beard for spilled brandy – even if only to dull the pain from his many wounds – lingers…
There was no scientific way of measuring inebriation back then, and few opportunities of seeing signs of drunkenness among the shadowy gang. However the broken bottles at Germans Creek and the " immense quantity of bottles" at the Hurdle Creek site are indicators of a systemic alcohol problem.
Personally, I think the Police murders at SBC can only be explained by the gang being drunk.
Interesting but more problematic, as the Cameron and Jerilderie letters (which are basically the same thing) have fairly systematic descriptions of what happened at SBC which to me read more like a planned, deliberate stalking ambush than a shooting spree. McIntyre's detailed description of his long conversation with Ned and others gives no indication of any of them being under the influence, or of any of them drinking while at the SBC camp in his presence.
So I have doubts there; whereas on the afternoon of the Fitzpatrick incident, Fitzpatrick's arrival would have been totally unexpected and only happened as the accidental result of his being sent to look after Greta station while Strahan was away. Ned ranted about Fitzpatrick "having spent the afternoon drinking in some hotel". I'm tipping that was Ned. Ned consistently blamed others for his own actions and their consequences, and created devious and totally implausible, self-excusing explanations for everything he did. The best evidence for this apart from what he said about the SBS killings is the contradictory explanations in his Governor letters at the Melbourne Gaol.
Peter Fitzsimons ('Ned Kelly', xiii) found that story of Ned sucking his beard for drops of brandy "pure gold – as, with it, I feel as if I am in the room, there, as it is happening;" telling the past "how it essentially was" (xii). Pity the book didn't go into how Mrs Kennedy felt and the tears she cried when her shotgunned husband's body was brought back from SBC, his watch stolen, his corpse left for the beasts to molest, with a half-baked effort to cloak it to hide it from discovery.
I haven't read Pete's "Ned Kelly" book, having been disappointed by his previous Eureka book where his army of advisers borrowed and botched the citations of others. Nasty stuff.
An unlikeable writer of fiction I fear.
But I could be wrong!
The Victorian government today (19 Oct 2016) announced it would buy and restore the early Beveridge Kelly home as a tourist attraction. A million bucks! Well done! This needed to be preserved for all time.
I just hope that Ian Jones, Fitzy, Matt and many other myth supporters aren't placed as administrators. They've done enough damage. Don't let National Trust administer it either. They let it become dilapidated and go to ruins.
Why don't you stick up your hand Dee?.
Can't agree, Horrie – it's essential reading for people interested in Kelly myths and how they're constructed, with this the most recent best-selling incarnation. Grab it from the library – it will do wonders for your blood pressure! When you see the unrelenting abuse showered on Fitzpatrick, and the police generally, and how twisted and biased the research has been to generate that, it also shows clearly how far modern commentary is from the general public commentary back in the outbreak period. Not just by the newspaper editors of the day, who are often accused of some kind of anti-Kelly bias, rather than simply reflecting a similar view of the Kelly outbreak as they would of any other menacing bushranger activity, but by numerous 'letters to the editor' both Victorian and interstate, hoping for a speedy end to the gang. It also helps to show how myths are reframed; the more balanced view and source analysis of Ian Jones "Short Life" has been thrown out the window. What we have is highly biased, selective, sensationalist history, even to the extent of BIG LETTERS in various parts pointing out what fools the police were, and so on. Grab it from your library today!
No, you're right Horrie. I gave up on Fitzsimmons' books some time ago. He tends to gloss over history, choosing bits that are attractive to the reader rather than the full story. And as we have discussed here before, he ignores source material that doesn't accord with his preconceived views on a subject. Pulp 'history' for the masses.
True, Spudee (at least for his Kelly book; I haven't read any others), but then you find Fitzsimons being cited as a source reference by e.g. literature professor Peter Knight (2015) "The Politics of Myth" chapter on Ned Kelly; and no doubt by tons of school kids who are fed the 'hero or terrorist' crap as part of the current curriculum; then you see how this appallingly biased "history" becomes accepted without any substantive historical analysis whatsoever. You can see it in online teacher's resources, online primary and secondary student essays, the several kid's books promoting cuddly Ned being wronged by Fitzpatrick and the oppressive police; etc. It's got to the point where I think the majority of history teachers and curriculum writers are just blinkered, historically ignorant, semi-literate lunkheads.
Stuart, I borrowed the book from my local library, when it was published, to discover whether Peter Fitzsimons had followed Ian Jones's dumb advice to ignore "The Kelly Gang Unmasked" 2012 book. Disgracefully, he had! The book is not mentioned in Fitzsimon's bibliography. How unscholarly was this?
I did follow up on an unrelated 'new' discovery about an Aboriginal scandal in Qld in Fitzsimon's book. It turned out to be damp rubbish. Of course, I did a quick flick through. But was as aghast as you were overall.
Pete needs to hang up his pen and historical aspirations.
A pal sent me a partial review of the Morrissey book, which is I think from the Royal Historical Society of Victoria journal or maybe The Age:
Doug Morrissey, Ned Kelly: A Lawless Life, Connor Court, Ballarat, 2015, pbk, ISBN
9781925138481, xv + 256 pp, $32.95.
'Mad, bad and dangerous to know' was Lady Caroline Lamb's pithy description of
Lord Byron but, as Doug Morrissey shows, the words might be even more
appropriately applied to Ned Kelly. With irrational delusions that merged into
paranoia Kelly was a career criminal, in an organised network of criminals, for
whom extreme violence was simply part of his stock in trade. He lived A Lawless
Life — as the subtitle indicates — but the scale and nature of his violent criminality
is all too often either ignored or excused by his biographers. Ned's modern
equivalent in organised crime might be the leader of an outlaw motor-cycle gang,
with fingers in many criminal pies (but especially in the re-birthing of stolen cars),
ready to use extreme violence including murder to advance his plans or evade
arrest, and generally indifferent to the mores of society at large. It is hard to
imagine that such a figure, whose behaviour would be condemned by all except
his fellow gang-members and, perhaps, their families, could ever have a
sympathetic and romantic mythology develop around his activities. But Ned Kelly,
with his bloodthirsty gang whose behaviour outraged the overwhelming majority
of his contemporaries, has generated a literature and framed a popular perception
that, most often, places him somewhere on the martyrdom spectrum. This
sentiment is at the heart of Peter FitzSimons' Ned Kelly: The Story of Australia's Most
Notorious Legend (2013) and is merely the latest reworking of the popular myths.
Morrissey's book is more than a simple account of A Lawless Life. It is an important
revisionary attack on the dominant historiography with its 'old cliches and
metaphors' and he highlights the limited research and repetition of multiple errors
that are characteristic of most Kelly biographies.
This myth-busting book, assisted by John Hirst's valuable editing, reflects
Morrissey's deep knowledge of Kelly Country and its people and provides an
important counterweight to the familiar, generally sympathetic and overly
romantic accounts of Kelly's life and exploits. In the popular imagination, fostered
it must be said by some fairly indifferently researched accounts, Ned Kelly's
criminal history and murderous activities are whitewashed and transformed into
several enduring and endearing myths that present him as a precursor of 'the little
Aussie battler'. Among other things, he was the victim of police persecution who
fought back; he was pushed into crime by circumstances beyond his control; he
was a latter-day Robin Hood who stood up for the peasant selectors in their land
war against the squatters; he was an Australian-born Irish patriot and a native
republican. Morrissey exposes the foolishness of these, and several other myths
associated with Australia's most notorious bushranger,
Soon after the Glenrowan siege, a Mr Hill wrote to the wounded Supt. Hare on 1 July, “How strange that you alone should be hit by the Ruffians who are said to be such expert marksmen”. See https://digitised-collections.unimelb.edu.au/handle/11343/21292
I wish I had a convict in my family tree,
A murderer or duffer would be just the thing for me.
A thieving silent cracksman or a jigger or a thug,
A swindler or a forger or a magsman to a mug.
But most of all I’d really like an outlaw man like Ned,
A legendary killer who was really famous dead.
A felon and armed robber who had tried to wreck a train,
Who stole selector’s horses and who caused a lot of pain.
Who never robbed a poor man, except for poor Ah Fook;
He fronted him near home and then he bashed him with a crook.
He stole from him ten shillings, but when it went to court,
Ah Fook he had no witness, so the case it came to naught.
I wish I’d been Ned Kelly or Joe Byrne or Stephen Hart,
Or even little Danny with his virile Heenan’s heart.
The traps would never catch me, I would lead them on a dance,
Shoot them down and burn their tents like in a true bushland romance.
He’d be a bloody hero, would an ancestor like that.
I’d proudly boast about him, how he laid the coppers flat.
I’d put his photo on my shirt and stick it on my car,
And charge the tourists twenty quid to talk to me, the star.
I’d teach a bunch of schoolkids to confuse their rights and wrongs,
And how to hate policemen, and to worship Ned in songs.
I’d put it in curriculum to teach in every state,
I’d make a national hero of him, built on violent hate.