The Kellys have to stop lying about Fitzpatrick

Its time to demand justice for Fitzpatrick
The Fitzpatrick incident is one of the really key moments in the Kelly story. 

Essentially what happened was that on April 15th 1878 a policeman, Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick  went to Dan Kellys home to arrest him on a charge of horse stealing, but returned empty handed saying he had been attacked, and Ned Kelly had fired a gun at him and wounded him in the wrist.
According to the people who believe Ned Kelly was some sort of a hero and freedom fighter, this incident was part of an ongoing campaign of persecution, a ‘setup’ engineered by corrupt police who were determined by any means fair or foul to entrap the Kellys and put them in prison. They claim that Constable Fitzpatrick had no right to arrest Dan Kelly at his home that day because he hadn’t bought with him the warrant for his arrest. They claim that Fitzpatrick disobeyed orders by going there, because he had been told never to go there on his own. They claim that when he got there he was drunk. They claim that while there he attempted some sort of indecency on Kate Kelly aged 14 ( Professor Moloney claimed he raped her ) They claim he pulled a gun in the scuffle and accidentally shot himself – or else they say the wound he received was caused by a door latch. Ned Kelly said he wasn’t there. They say that everything Fitzpatrick  subsequently alleged on his return without Dan to the Station at Benalla was a lie. They blacken his character at every possible opportunity, alleging he was some sort of sleazy womaniser, a pedofile with an interest in ‘very young ladies’, they allege he ‘spiked’ Neds drink, they claim support from the findings of the Royal Commission, and they point to problems he had much later in life to further discredit him.
In short they regard him as a thoroughy disreputable sleaze, a terrible policeman and the author of all their ills.
But remarkable as it will seem, this entire image is almost completely baseless.
Ask any Kelly sympathiser for the facts that they base their hatred of Fitzpatrick on and they will NOT be able to provide any. Search for the facts supporting their claims about Fitzpatrick in their books, on their web pages and on their Facebook pages, ask them on-line for explanations, challenge them to front-up with their proofs, and they will ALWAYS be unable to provide them. The best they ever manage is to reference other people who have made the same allegations – which progresses their case nowhere – make reference to the Royal Commission and mischaracterise it, or refer to claims and allegations made about his conduct much later in life – which are nothing to do with 1878. For the actual substantive evidence of their claims about the sort of policeman  he was in April 1878 the only ‘evidence’ they can scrape up are allegations about his private life.
It is of course deeply hypocritical for Kellys to throw mud at Fitzpatrick for being the father of an illegitimate child –  Neds own married sister had an affair with a Policeman and gave birth to his child, and Ned Kellys mother Ellen Kelly the matricarch conceived three times to three separate men out of wedlock. A wink and a nod is for ever offered in the  direction of Greta mob members like Sherritt and Byrne, known to be favourites with ‘the ladies’ – everyone knows whats meant by that but for these “boys” its all perfectly fine. In fact Fitzpatricks behaviour, no matter how morally dubious was not so unusual for young men then or now, but in any case his private affairs were none of the Kellys business.  Moreover, given the moral standards of their own behaviour, casting aspersions on Fitzpatrick because of his is the height of hypocrisy, a disgusting double standard. But his private failings had no relevance to or impact on his interactions with the Kellys in his role as policeman, any more than Ellen Kellys loose morals had anything to do with the murders at Stringybark Creek.
As for his professional behaviour, I explained in the previous post that  despite sympathisers claims to the contrary, he had an entirely legitimate reason for going to the Kelly house – they were stock thieves –and he did NOT need to have the warrants related to Dans charges in his possession. So that’s two Kelly claims exposed as lies right there!
But what of the other claims?
The claim that he disobeyed orders to stay away from the Kelly house relates to an instruction made by Nicholson to Constable Hayes from Greta. Nicholson requested others be given the same instruction but this was not a formal written order and theres no evidence that Fitzpatrick ever received it – the most obvious reason being that he wasn’t stationed at Greta but at Benalla. In fact his visit was known of and sanctioned by  Sergeant Whelan in Benalla, to whom he reported on his return. If Fitzpatrick had indeed violated a direct instruction, this would have been an act of disobedience which would have resulted in  some sort of disciplinary action, or at least a  note in his service record but no such action or record exists.  When this visit was investigated by the Royal Commission several years later, though they expressed regret at what happened as a result of his visit, Fitzpatrick again was NOT criticised for going there in the first place:  ‘There can be little doubt that Constable Fitzpatrick’s conduct, however justified by the rules of the service, was unfortunate in its results.
The Kelly claim that Fitzpatrick shouldn’t have even gone to the Kellys, that he disobeyed orders going there is simply wrong, another of their lies. Not only is there no evidence that such an order was ever given to Fitzpatrick, his senior knew about his visit, never complained about it and the RC said he was ‘justified’ in going there.
So what do we make of the claim that Fitzpatrick was a ‘liar and a larrikin’?
Well firstly, up until the time of this incident, he had been stationed at Benalla, and was known as ‘a decent young fellow’ by McIntyre. At the Royal Commission Standish was asked if he was aware if Fitzpatrick was ‘a man of bad character’ before he was sent to Greta. “I was not. He was strongly recommended to me by Mr C A  Smyth” was his reply. There are no disciplinary or other adverse comments in his record of service, to that point.
After the ‘incident’, at every opportunity the Kellys all told lies about what happened, including, among scores of lies, Ned Kellys famous lie about being 400 miles away, Mrs Kellys and her daughter Kates lie that neither Ned or even Fitzpatrick had been seen there for over a month, and Jim Kellys claim he had been there when the facts show he was in prison in NSW at the time. Subsequently, as Grantlee Kieza noted in his recent book, the Kelly’s accounts
“…will change every time they open their mouths”.  Their accounts inevitably began the vilification of Fitzpatrick, including the baseless allegation that he was drunk, but Fitzpatricks testimony remained unchanged over 35 years.
Never-the-less, in April 1880, two years later with three police murdered, and the Kelly gang still on the run, Fitzpatrick was dismissed from the Police force for ‘inefficiency and insubordination’, allegations made against him by the OIC  Constable Mayes at Lancefield where he had been working from September 1879.  Mayes, who was a zealous participant in the hunt for the Kelly gang  apparently regarded Fitzpatrick as personally responsible for the outbreak, and seems to have made it a personal objective of his to get rid of Fitzpatrick . At the Royal Commission he said “ I had a great deal to do to get rid of him and at last had him dismissed”
A variety of allegations had been levelled against Fitzpatrick by Mayes, such as that he “associated with the lowest class of persons, could not be trusted out of sight and never did his duty” but no specific facts were ever provided to  substantiate these claims  or charges ever laid, and the Royal Commission accepted them, as has every Kelly writer ever since, without ever asking for the facts which justified them.
The remarkable facts which DO exist in relation to Fitzpatricks behaviour at Lancefield, in stark contrast to the sweeping and unsubstantiated allegations made by a single  policeman, are two petitions signed by over one hundred citizens of that district, objecting to his dismissal and attesting to their experience of him as being
“zealous, diligent, obliging, and universally liked, while we never saw him in company of any but the best citizens. Had he been what [Mayes’] report was said to allege it could not have escaped our attention. He made several clever captures and appeared to us as one of the most efficient and obliging men in the force”.
This is an absolutely shattering document, signed by reputable community members such as farmers, publicans and business men, ten JP’s, an MP, a barrister and a journalist, a document that exposes Mayes assesments as deeply suspect, and more or less completely destroys the credibility of Mayes complaints. Just as remarkable, a year later a second petition from the citizens of Lancefield was presented by a man who in 1903 became Prime Minister of Australia, Alfred Deakin, MP. They requested that “a Board of enquiry to be held so that Alexander Fitzpatrick could answer the charges made against him”
The response this time came from Acting Chief Commissioner Chomley, who dismissed the petitioners request , relying only on the Police record that included the allegations made by Mayes, and because he had “always heard him described as a liar and a larrikin” – or in other words, hearsay. This is utterly unprofessional behaviour, and wouldn’t have been accepted as evidence in any Court or at any reasonable enquiry. Fitzpatrick requested an opportunity to defend himself against all these allegations, but was denied it by the authorities whose judgements he was challenging.  No reasonable person could regard that dismissal as anything like a fair go for Fitzpatrick. There is every reason to believe he was made a scapegoat not only by the Kelly’s, but also by the Police, who were being humiliated and publically embarrassed by their failure to capture the Kelly gang.
These two remarkable documents, which strike at the very heart of the conspiracy of vilification of Fitzpatrick, quite scandalously are completely ignored by Ian Jones in his writings, and perhaps even more scandalously by Peter Fitzsimons, because we know for certain that when he wrote his Kelly book in 2013, these petitions had been brought to the attention of the Kelly community by Ian MacFarlane in the Kelly Gang Unmasked, published in 2012. Fitzsimons deliberately ignored them because they destroy the argument that Fitzpatrick was the villain in the piece, the lies promoted by the Kellys and their supporters and somewhat paradoxically by the Police, ever since.
If Kelly supporters want to continue to vilify the memory of Fitzpatrick, they are going to have to do several  things : provide some facts to back up their claims , acknowledge the Kellys lied outrageously in their attempts to cover their tracks, cease supporting the hypocrisy of known liars moralising about Fitzpatrick, and explain why the unsubstantiated allegations of a Policeman who had it in for Fitzpatrick should be believed over a future prime minister and over a hundred ordinary citizens of Lancefield who said Fitzpatrick was ‘zealous, diligent and universally liked’.

My guess is they will keep their heads well and truly buried in the sand, and in the proposed movie, and in the soon to be published book by Mr Bradley Webb, the lies about Fitzpatrick will be perpetuated, because to do otherwise would mean there would be nobody for Ned Kelly to blame his troubles on but himself. The reality is that it was Fitzpatrick who was unfairly persecuted, not the Kellys. This myth can no longer be tolerated.

Post Script
I referred to all the usual sources for the information contained in this Post, but relied very considerably on Dr Stuart Dawsons brilliant expose of this event, “Redeeming Fitzpatrick” my review of which, and a link are provided HERE.
I suggest everyone should read his comprehensive and extensively referenced article and then decide for themselves if they agree with him or with the ignorant, academia-hating Kelly trolls who wrote this on their Facebook pages recently :

Oh poor Stuart Dawson is upset that no-one has mentioned his Redeeming Fitzpatrick article on that blog.I will give you the reason why free of charge. Stuart as I have stated before it is just your opinion and full of b/s and guesswork all created by you.Keith McMenomy and John Maloney are far more creditable than your absolute garbage. No wonder you linked yourself to David .(2 peas in a pod)No Grantlee Kieza did not come to the same conclusion as you and only referenced you in his book. His writings of the incident is nothing like yours. Your bid to change real history and insulting of respected men is really pathetic.The Royal Commission were spot on in their summary of the liar Fitzpatrick and he wasn’t sacked from the police force because he was a good one but obviously an incompetent one
‪ I had a laugh out of that too Bob, Stuart Dawson getting all sooky-la-la over nobody mentioning his twisted version of events. WHat a legend in his own mind he is!
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42 Replies to “The Kellys have to stop lying about Fitzpatrick”

  1. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Alan Crichton’s opinion piece about the Fitzpatrick “conspiracy” on the Iron Outlaw website is quite old, and I had read it there well before my Fitzpatrick article was written and published. It is a short presentation of the police conspiracy theory which appears to ultimately stem from J.J. Kenneally’s “loaded dice” view of the Kelly outbreak. The only references given are Ian Jones’ Short Life, Justin Corfield’s Ned Kelly Encyclopaedia; the Royal Commission’s Second Progress Report; John Sadlier’s Recollections of a Victorian Police Officer; and the Cookson interviews from the Sun Newspaper. In 2014 I began the first ever comprehensive review of all available primary source evidence about the Fitzpatrick incident, which resulted in my 2015 “Redeeming Fitzpatrick” article.

    I tackled a historical puzzle that Ian Jones and others said would never be solved, and produced a large amount of previously ignored evidence to solve it. If people don’t want to revise their older views about the matter, that’s up to them. But the case I put forward is fully documented, and no-one has yet refuted any part of it. More importantly, no-one has come up with a different reconstruction of events that addresses all the available evidence and coherently supports an alternative position. As I am now a proud Platinum Pledger for the upcoming Matt Holmes’ “Legend of Ned Kelly” film, I hope to see my extremely detailed and historically accurate reconstruction of the Fitzpatrick Incident on the big screen in a year or two! And I encourage others of whatever persuasion in the Kelly debate to kick in something if you can to support the Aussie film industry, and let the director take us wherever his creative abilities lead.

  2. Anonymous says: Reply

    Never-the-less, in April 1880, two years later with three police murdered, and the Kelly gang still on the run, Fitzpatrick was dismissed from the Police force for ‘inefficiency and insubordination’, allegations made against him by the OIC Constable Mayes at Lancefield where he had been working from September 1879. Mayes, who was a zealous participant in the hunt for the Kelly gang apparently regarded Fitzpatrick as personally responsible for the outbreak, and seems to have made it a personal objective of his to get rid of Fitzpatrick . At the Royal Commission he said “ I had a great deal to do to get rid of him and at last had him dismissed” This sums it up perfectly.

  3. Ray Walsh says: Reply

    Alan Crichton used to have a sense of humour and fun, but his Fitzpatrick piece was flat and just repeated the usual Kelly follies. Al, join one of those asian groups who join up to laugh uproariously! You will get your mojo back!

  4. Pat Nolan says: Reply

    Stuart, your Fitzpatrick research was pure gold.

    But I can't see the Kelly rabble digging deep in their wallets to help a film that might completely debunk all their craziness.

    Matt Holmes should appeal to Film Victoria or some other State film agency for funding.

    If I had a million bucks he would be getting it!

    Alas, I am just a poor pensioner who lost 50 bucks a fortnight thanks to the Turnbull menagerie of razor cutbacks.

  5. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Thanks, Anonymous, that is also detailed in my "Redeeming Fitzpatrick" article, and your summary is quite correct in describing Mayes' hostility. I also read all the primary evidence around this at VPRO which was end-noted but very selectively used by Molony (in his "I am Ned Kelly"). Molony chose to ignore the two petitions by over 100 residents of Lancefield and the surrounding district to have Fitzpatrick reinstated, which are in the same small file of papers, along with some other correspondence rejecting one of Mayes' complaints. Much of the Kelly myth is built on that sort of highly selective, biased and misleading approach to historical investigation. The Kelly tourism industry would be just as successful, and arguably more so, if it became the story of Australia's most notorious criminal, rather than trying to create Saint Ned out of him. We love a bad guy, so why not go with that?

  6. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Alex McDermott review of Grantlee Kieza's "Mrs Kelly" book. Sharon sent me this link the other day and I though others might like to read it,

  7. Anonymous says: Reply

    Thank-you Mr Dawson for your "Redeeming Fitzpatrick" academic paper. We learned a great deal.

    We are not at all wanting to be disrespectful of authorities, cause we are not.

    However, when viewing aspects of the day of 15th April, 1878, when Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick visited the property of The Kelly's as discussed, when components of current day "risk assessment" may be considered:

    Without undertaking a whole "risk assessment", Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick appeared to, for his own reasons, approach and attempt to implement his police business at the "Kelly property", in a solo capacity, with confidence and a strong sense of duty.

    Ellen and Edward Kelly, for their own reasons, regarded the visit on their property by this police constable at this period in time, whom as has been noted, may have initially been expected to have been another police officer, with a high level of stress and even threat. High risk situation. But hindsight is always a good thing.

    Some may know more about risk assessments than us.

    Just saying.

    B, T and T. Ryan

  8. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi B, T and T Ryan, an interesting risk assessment question. Many writers have accused Fitzpatrick of disobeying an “order” not to go alone to the Kelly’s house, but there is no evidence of such an order. The accusation is based on generalising about Supt. Nicolson’s reply to the Royal Commission questions 1035-1036. Nicolson may have thought he had covered his bases (or “managed the risk” in modern terms) when he told the Commission he had warned Const. Hayes from Greta “never to go near that house, and to tell the other police that came there [i.e. to Greta] never to go near that house alone [as they were absolutely dangerous all through]”. But there is no evidence that Nicolson ever made his instruction or warning known outside of these verbal warnings to the two police then at Greta in early 1877. That is quite different to a written order, which could not have been ignored. Had any formal instruction or order existed, Nicolson would have cited or produced it to the Commission during his response. Further, that was a full year before the Fitzpatrick incident; a different policeman (Strachan) was in charge at Greta, and Fitzpatrick was going to Greta, not from it. So we could say that in modern terms that was pretty poor risk treatment, to have been aware of a risk but failed to take sufficient steps to ensure the risk was widely communicated to all personnel in the district who could be impacted. I don’t think formal risk assessment processes became a thing until the 1950s or so, but if you fancy a look at the origins of risk assessment I found a long historical account here,

  9. Stuart the other interesting aspect which is worth factoring in to the calculation is the relationship between Ned and Fitzpatrick. Morrissey seemed to think they were almost friends for a time, and if it hadn't been for Mrs Kellys intervention, it seems Dan was quite willing to go with him quietly.

    1. Just saw this comment, Dee. Descendants of Fitzpatrick hold that his father, Charles, was sentenced to death at the Old Bailey for robbery with violence in Essex in 1835. The sentenced was commuted to transportation for life to VDL. He was pardoned in 1849, the year he later married Fltzpatrick’s mother in Geelong. This adds an intriguing complexity to the Fitzpatrick- Kelly relationship: the shared stigma of convict and Irish parentage. It may also explain Fitzpatrick’s over-confidence in seeing himself as a confidant to the likes of Kelly and his ability to use that in his role as a policeman. That duplicity, ineptly handled, may well have been what riled Mrs Kelly’s to stove in his helmet – mirroring the humiliation laughingly inflicted upon police by Melbourne toughs of the time. It may also explain senior police frustration with Fitzpatrick who clearly liked to ingratiate himself with the foxes while hunting with the hounds. As such in his immaturity he was a real nuisance to the force and needed to be got rid of. And if they knew of his father’s background then the convict stain wouldn’t have helped him either.

      1. I dont have access to my usual resources ATM but I thought Fitzpatricks ancestry was English and Scottish? In any event, what would be good to see is the documentation supporting that claim about his parentage and his fathers record and transportation. We should see that before we start speculating at length about what it all might mean.

        Kelly acolytes like Fitzsimons and Peterson wouldn’t require anything more, of course. Speculation is good enough for them if its in any way capable of being twisted into an argument that further smears Fitzpatrick.

        I would also like to know more about Fitzpatricks relatives, the source of this claim,

        1. “Fitzpatrick” pretty-much makes him Irish in most people’s eyes of the time. Charles the father, born in England maybe – of Irish parents. Lived in Little Scotland in Geelong. The Old Bailey records are there. The dates seem to match – of his convict pardon and marriage. Its an obvious possibility, and more importantly it provides an interesting explanation of his son’s unusual behaviour – feeling himself at home with dubious characters, confident that he can walk both sides of the police-criminal divide. It seems to me remiss of anyone making suppositions about Alexander’s motivations, and the views of Police Command, to overlook the real possibility of relevant information. In all that’s been written about Fitzpatrick has no one had a serious look at his family background? Kelly’s background is scoured thoroughly. I reckon if you’re aiming at the truth that you follow up all leads.

          1. Jolly good, put the info up otherwise this is entirely hearsay, speculation and guesswork.

          2. I would have thought it was Stuart’s responsibility, as the student of Fitzpatrick matters, to look and see whether it’s hearsay, speculation and guesswork. The matter isn’t hard to pursue. Perhaps it isn’t true, but it’s surprising he’s never bothered to look.

            1. So YOU make an allegation/claim and then demand someone ELSE has to verify it? Youre kidding surely? If as you say ‘the matter isnt hard to pursue ‘ then why the hell haven’t you done it Perc? Personally I am not at all familiar with the Records and the way sources can be discovered, so if you think it wouldn’t be hard for you to do, then do us all a favour please and do it. And get back to us with your references and the evidence that verifies your original claims.

          3. Hi Perc, I see…. You have set me a task that you think is important (based so far entirely on hearsay and speculation) and am chiding me for not getting on with it 😂😂. As you say, perhaps it isn’t true. My guess is that it’s nonsense, but happy to be corrected if you put up evidence to the contrary. So far you have put up nothing. I shall wait and see what you come up with to support these theories. In the meantime I have to feed the cat.

            Note: There are several claims you are making here:
            First, that Fitzpatrick was the son of an Irish ex-convict. Both Irish and convict need to be documented.
            Second, that this meant he was raised in an ex-convict milieu, i.e. that his father did not break away from his convict past ( unlike so many others who built new lives after their sentences finished) but that his father retained at least some of his ex-convict circle such that the young Fitzpatrick could have some familiarity with it; something that no one has ever suggested that I’m aware of. Also, what about his mother’s background and influence in their family?
            Third, that this convict stain was known and disregarded by those who recommended him to joining the police and to his superiors in the force, even though nothing was ever mentioned about it even by those senior police who slammed him and decried his appointment in the first place.
            Fourth, that this alleged family background gave him some unique ability to relate to the Kellys, something that was never hinted at in the RC or anywhere else. It depends on reading an awful lot into Ned Kelly’s comments about him, but there is nothing more in them than Kelly’s hatred towards anyone who didn’t do what fancied.
            There’s nothing to support any of these speculations at this point.

  10. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Yes, Ned said that Fitzpatrick "said we were good friends & even swore it" (Jerilderie Letter VSL, p. 34). BTW everyone should grab the free transcript from – don't pay for a book copy by any rip-off artist. The problem is how much or what people read into that. The sequence of events on 15 April is that Mrs Kelly said something to the two younger girls who ran out, to the back hut as Fitzpatrick later realised, and alerted Ned. It was then that Mrs Kelly said that he wouldn't be taking Dan. Dan said, "Shut up, mother, that's all right". Skillion went past the house, and then Ned came to the doorway and without a word fired at him. So yes, Mrs Kelly summoned Ned and caused the fracas. It seems that Ned may have thought it was a different policeman in the house, one with whom he had a particular hatred, as discussed in the article based on a newspaper report of the day.

    At the end of the fracas Ned seemed to think Fitzpatrick's word not to report the incident could be trusted. (There is nothing wrong with reporting someone shooting at you to the police, I would have thought, policeman or otherwise.) Also, Ned had previously got Dan and two Lloyd brothers to hand themselves in over another incident. So there seems to be something in it, acquaintance-wise, but one might also think that the notorious Kellys would be known to a range of police who might chat to them now and again. Fitzpatrick spent a long time chatting with Mrs Kelly while waiting to see if Dan returned home that afternoon. That does not mean Mrs Kelly was at all pleased to see him. Some have speculated that Ned and Fitzpatrick were drinking buddies, but I have seen nothing to support it. I'm not dismissing it, by the way, just exercising scepticism pending some concrete backing or refutation.

  11. Stuart one of the Kelly sympathisers is going ballistic because you wrote 'two Lloyd brothers' instead of 'two Lloyd cousins'. I made the same mistake a couple of years ago, and Sharon pointed it out to me – there are so many Jacks and Toms its hard sometimes to remember who is who.

  12. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    And while we're getting our facts right, my Kelly movie Platinum Pledge is $200 more than the average pledge there tonight, so maybe some of these so-called sympathisers could put their money where their mouths are like I have and back the thing properly. I want to see it succeed, what about them?

  13. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Sorry Dee and whoever, Ian Jones says it was "Dan and his cousins, Tom and Jack Lloyd" (Short Life 2003: 90). My bad in calling the Lloyds brothers. Ian Jones says "the three cousins arrived at the [Goodman's] house … punched in a door panel, threw some furniture around and broke windows." Does that sort it out?

  14. Brian Tate says: Reply

    Have to agree that it is hard to see who's who in both the Lloyd and Quinn clans. So many involved in criminal activities, that is when some of them weren't being paid informers for the police.

  15. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Adam, the article link is article says among other things, "Yet his memory and legacy are invoked almost daily in courts, schools, pubs and parliament. His words are part of our vernacular, he is used in advertising and countless thousands of tattoos show his armoured image. Kelly may not have been a monument builder … yet his mark on Melbourne and Victoria is astounding. Old Melbourne Gaol, Pentridge, the Supreme Court, the statue of his sentencing judge, Redmond Barry, at the State Library, the memorial to fallen police on St Kilda Road — few, if any, of these can get a sentence or two into their history without mention of Kelly."These are wild exaggerations. Outside of a bunch of enthusiasts and some idiotic school books, Kelly is rarely mentioned in daily life. None of his words "are part of our vernacular". No-one says 'such is life', although it appears on some people's bumper stickers. No-one says "as game as Ned Kelly"; that figure of speech flourished back in the 1920s to 1940s, died back in the 1950s, and effectively disappeared from the 1960s onwards, except in Kelly books which continue to claim it is a common Australian expression. I never heard it anywhere until I looked at Kelly history. To most of the many thousands of people I have met, Kelly is a non-issue. Back in the 1970s Kelly barely rated a mention in the Old Melbourne Gaol. His skull and death mask were there, but so were another 30 or so death masks, and there was no special feature signage. The “Kelly at OMG” is a last decade or so event, probably since the 2002 feature exhibition. Kelly is a non-event at Melbourne Uni where the Redmond Barry building was totally without reference to him when I was there (which is as it should be). Kelly in advertising is pretty rare. “Countless thousands of tattoos” is a wild over-exaggeration, as is the general claim for Kelly’s influence. Probably Nolan’s armour is the most common image that could be mentioned, but wasn’t. Even that is often mentioned without much glorification of Kelly. Apparently the Glenrowan siege site has heritage overlays, but there is no reason for that now as the archaeological site dig was done a few years ago. It's just a vacant lot like any other.The article ends with the claim that Kelly "continues to be a significant part of who we are." Again, this is simply not true. If I wasn't looking at 5 specific issues in this bit of history, three of which are already done, I'd never or only extremely rarely hear of Kelly in any part of normal daily life, and most of that would be negative, not idiotic hero-worshipping from weak and simple-minded historical beliefs.

    1. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

      Hi Stuart, basically concur with what you’ve said above, but can think of a couple more examples of Ned in daily life. There’s a popular Ned Kelly whisky sold these days, Bridge Road Brewers make a very popular Beechworth Pale Ale which has Joe Byrne’s helmet in the logo, and the posters for OMG at the moment have a little kid wearing Steve Hart’s fiberglass armour.

      1. Hi Thomas, I haven’t tried the Ned whisky yet as pre-mixes are a rip off, but I’ve seen a few empty cans in the street here and there, indicating the sort of thoughtless, careless lout inclined to buy such things….
        Bridge Road Brewers have a Ned helmet pale ale, but they’re on Beechworth so just cashing in with the Kelly nuts. It’s actually not a bad drop.
        The OMG are a fairly clueless bunch. I sent them a detailed critique of their Kelly display signage a few years ago and a copy of the Republic Myth book, and they said they’d look into it when they redid the signage. Then Covid lockdowns happened with attractions closed by Deadhead Dan and his paranoic Dept Health loons, and I haven’t got back there since to see what they have done. But the kid in the fibreglass armour thing has been around for a few years now: Your youngster can dress up as a cute little murderer!!! It is all based on the Jones republic nonsense that infested their signage. Anyone’s guess what lunacy prevails now, but I would like to see it dragged into the 21st century post-MacFarlane’s Unmasked critique.

  16. Adam Yates says: Reply

    OMG – a befuddling article in yesterday's Herald Sun by the editor of the Weekly Times. He gave Linton Briggs (the CSi@SBC time waster) a gong for helping preserve the Glenrowan siege site.

    The headline was attractive "Kelly the cop killer is still able to fuel fierce debate". But there was NO evidence of any kind of debate in the article…

  17. I must admit until the Kickstarter Campaign for the Ned Kelly movie got started I was probably of a similar opinion to this writer, that the Kelly stories and legends were well known and popular among a small but significant minority of Australians. I thought a few thousand would contribute but the Kickstarter campaign has been a massive failure and an embarrassing revelation for the Kelly fanatics, as its demonstrated that 'true believers' are an exceedingly small, completely insignificant minority of Australians.

    Kelly fanatics are a doomed species on the brink of extinction.

  18. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    I still think it's sad that so few people have kicked in to Kickstarter for the Kelly film as there was so much talent and cinematic skill in the Ban Hall movie which is a welcome contrast to the endless shower of crappy movies we get from overseas. I keep hoping that some millionaire will jump in to support it. Outside of the very simple-minded "hero or villain" stuff in a large range of school books and junior fiction there is very little done on Kelly, and almost no diligent historical research goes into any of them. All we get is endless rehashed and mostly wildly inaccurate oral history from people who want to claim a link to the "famous" Kelly gang (and preferable to Ned himself) in the same way it was fashionable to have a convict ancestor in the 1990s. I noticed that Doug Morrissey has an article in the May issue of Quadrant, "It's Time to Bury the Ned Kelly Myth", which I haven't had a chance to go through yet, but it mentions at the end that he has another book coming out next year. Still, Dee, as long as there are numbskulls in charge of the history curriculum, there will be requirements to teach the young generation to adore bushrangers and disrespect the police with which numerous numskull teachers and textbook writers will cheerfully comply.

  19. "The Argus", Monday, 5th July 1880, Page 6. THE kELLYS AND CONSTABLE FITZPATRICK. Rumour has been busy lately with the name of Constable Fitzpatrick in connexion with the Kelly outbreak. A prisoner now confined in Pentridge, who ws present when Fitzpatrick was shot by Ned Kelly, has made a statutory declaration which, if true, goes far to exonerate the constable from the charges made against him. At present the authorities deem it advisable to withhold the particulars set out in the affidavit.

  20. Brian Tate says: Reply

    If this report is correct and not just a 'rumour', then I suppose the 'prisoner' mentioned would have to have been Bricky Williamson or Bill Skillion. I seem to recall that Williamson offered his 'services' to the police during the hunt for the gang following the murders at SBC. So if the Argus report and the rumour was correct, then it was more than likely that Williamson would have been the one who made the stat dec. However, I presume that no one has actually seen this during research. Stuart, any comment?

  21. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Brian, it took me a while to remember that. "Rumour" will be the general negative rumours about Fitzpatrick propagated by the Kellys and associates, which got a lot of press. The affidavit cannot be Williamson's remission statement of 6 August 1881, VPRS 4969, Unit 1, Item 1, where he attests that he witnessed Ned Kelly shoot at Fitzpatrick, as that is a year too late for the newspaper report there. I do not recall seeing another Stat Dec or affidavit about this issue predating July 1880. Also, the little news item does not give any clues about in what way the affidavit it mentions might help exonerate Fitzpatrick. Other prisoners made statements to the police about the Kellys too, so the field is not limited to Williamson and Skillion. A new Fitzpatrick mystery! But as it sounds like it would, if found, only add further corroboration, I'm not going to put any time into following it up. Maybe one of the other Kelly enthusiasts who read this blog has come across it and could enlighten us?

  22. Henry Golding says: Reply

    The genealogy of the extended Kelly mob was not the nicest. The Kelly Gang Unmasked book showed that Bricky Williamson was probably the father of one of Ellen's children. DNA tests perhaps for the lot of them.

  23. Paul Baird says: Reply

    Ned was a creep as a youngster and followed an ever deepening criminal career as a teen and into his 20s. Killing cops showed he wasn't risk savvy, and he was deservedly topped..

  24. Dan wasn't very nice to his Mum.Today, he would be doing a family violence crash course provided by Dan Andrews. So much for the warm loving Kelly family.

  25. Brian Tate says: Reply

    The only reason I mentioned Williamson and Skillion is that the Argus report of 5 July 1880 says that the prisoner"…was present when Fitzpatrick was shot by Ned Kelly…". The only others present, apart from the Kelly women, were Dan and Ned.

  26. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    You're right, that is logical. It should then be possible to search the online VPRS Kelly files for the two names Williamson and Skillion and a date range maybe 1 January to 5 July 1880 and see if anything turns up. The problem is that it depends on the VPRO having labelled the record (if it exists) with the specific name in the file title. A lot of files are collections of correspondence of varying sizes. It could (if it still exists) also potentially be in not-yet-digitised Kelly files, of which there are some unknown number, or as a long shot the prison records which are typically not digitised and often not accessible due to "fragility". I don't recall searching for it, but that doesn't mean I didn't have a try if I had noticed that article at the time, which I can't remember. There would still be an enormously better chance of finding that than a declaration of a republic of north-eastern Victoria, of course!

  27. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Brian, Alex Castles "Ned Kelly's Last Days" p. 123 says, "The sworn statement taken from either Bill Skillion or Bricky Williamson had raised new hopes that the government could proceed against Ned for the claimed 'attack' on the disgraced police officer." So it looks like the affidavit has been seen, but Castles does not give a VPRO reference.

  28. Brian Tate says: Reply

    Ah, the plot thickens! Some more digging at the VPRO by someone (hint, hint).

  29. Brian Tate says: Reply

    Stuart I have a quick squiz at the VPRO's kelly collection to see if I could find any trace of the supposed stat dec made by the 'Pentridge prisoner' and reported in the Argus of 5 July 1880. So far the only thing I have found of relevance and it is a document you are familiar with and ave previously cited. It is at and is part of the deposition made by William 'Brickey' Williamson in August 1881. It mirrors pretty much Fitzpatrick's account of what happened at the Kelly hut, particularly with regard to Ned's presence and his having shot Fitzpatrick.

    While obviously not the stat dec, I think it is a document which has been given the weight it should have in the 'Fitzpatrick incident' debate.

  30. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    That's the same 1881 affidavit I mentioned in the above post on 17 June at 18.05. It is possible Castles might not have seen the document itself, and just applied the same logic as you, that as it was a witness to the shooting it must have been either Williamson or Skillion. But it is also possible that he did locate the affidavit, as I recognise a lot of the sources he bases various things on, even tough he doesn't always give them. I am not able to go to VPRO to chase this manually at this point, and am not convinced it is worth the trouble as it seems that it would only be further confirmation of what can already be solidly established. Maybe it will turn up one day through someone else's searching (if it exists).

  31. Brian Tate says: Reply

    My last sentence should read 'I think it is a document which has NOT been given the weight it should have in the 'Fitzpatrick incident' debate.'

  32. Unless you are a relative of the Kelly family-as I am- then not one of you has any right to make judgements on the veracity of those involved at the time. They were different times and unless you lived in 19th century Australia your perspective on life back then is irrelevant.

  33. Anonymous all you can have is one of the many different versions that the Kellys told. Mr Jones wrote the main book on Ned Kelly and got it all second or third hand or from the papers and he is not all right at all. The Kellys told all sorts of contradictory storys. What you said about 'unless you lived in 19th century Australia your perspective on life back then is irrelevant' goes for you too. You weren't there and you don't know any more than Leo Kennedy who knows a lot more reliable than you will ever be.

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