A Still from the 1906 Kelly Movie: Constable Fitzpatrick is shot in the wrist
In the first two parts of this investigation of the Kelly claims about Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick, I described the novel and cruel conspiracy theory proposed by Alan Crichton to explain how it was that Fitzpatrick could have ever become so important in the Kelly story when, according to Crichton he was ‘an arsehole from the moment he popped out of the womb’. Crichton’s view is that this policeman, Alexander Fitzpatrick, was simply an unwitting pawn in a masterplan devised by his seniors in the force to ensnare ‘the heart and soul of the clan’, Ned Kellys mother Ellen. Crichton’s conspiracy theory fails because, as I showed, there is no evidence to support his central claim about Fitzpatrick that he was an incompetent and morally bankrupt policeman, let alone an ‘arsehole from birth’. In fact the evidence, the facts that we actually know about Fitzpatricks life to that point, the facts which should be the basis of our history telling, are that at least up until the ‘incident’ itself, Fitzpatrick’s life and career was nothing out of the ordinary.
His private life was complicated, but there’s no evidence that it was by any means a tale of depravity and sexual licence as is so often implied by Kelly supporters. All we actually know is that an earlier relationship that produced a child failed, and by 1878 he was engaged to someone else – Anna Savage. He paid maintenance for the child and he married and remained married to Anna Savage for the rest of his life. However, even though Fitzpatricks private life was his own business and nothing to do with the Kelly story, Kelly supporters unrelentingly discuss it and misrepresent it as part of their campaign against him. In doing so they expose their own deep hypocrisy over the issue of moral failures because they always conveniently ignore the gross moral failures of multiple members of the Kelly clan, failures which include not just rumours but actual convictions for indecency, for sexual assault and domestic violence, as well as innumerable pre-marital and extra-marital infidelities and pregnancies.
So now let’s look at the claim that Fitzpatrick was a drunk.
The claim that he had a problem with alcohol was never mentioned anywhere by anyone before the incident. If any Kelly supporter has such evidence I would be most interested to see it. After the incident though, the Kellys and their apologists like Kenneally and everyone ever since right down to the most recent Kelly books all maintain that according to the Kellys, when Fitzpatrick arrived at the Kelly household he was to a greater or lesser degree, ‘under the influence’. Predictably, as part of their attempts to malign his character it will be claimed he drank to give him the courage to approach the Kellys. Ever since that allegation was made, Fitzpatrick is almost never referred to as anything other than a drunk.
But where is the evidence for this claim, other than the unreliable word of the Kellys? There is no record of him having problems with alcohol during the time that he was in the police force, so it would be entirely out of character if true. On the other hand, if the Kellys wanted to destroy his testimony about what happened at their house that evening what better way than to make up lies about him being drunk? We know for an absolute certainty that many of the Kellys DID tell lies about what happened : Ned Kelly lied, saying he wasn’t there; Ellen Kelly lied and said at first that Fitzpatrick hadn’t even been there, and so did her daughter Kate, but then she changed her mind and produced a second version that were lies about her being there alone with Fitzpatrick; and Jim Kelly who was in gaol in NSW at the time later told Cookson that he WAS there and that Fitzpatrick was drunk.
Against the word of this family of liars we have Fitzpatrick’s open admission that on the way to the Kellys he had a single drink of brandy and lemonade during a brief stopover for information, we have the testimony of the Publican, Lindsay, who said that on his return Fitzpatrick was sober, and we have the fact that until that day there was not one shred of evidence anywhere that he had a drinking problem. Stuart Dawson’s detailed and compelling analysis of the time-line covering Fitzpatrick’s journey from Benalla to the Kellys that day shows conclusively that there was barely enough time for Fitzpatrick to have stopped at Lindsays Hotel for one drink, let alone the ‘several’ others have claimed he had on the basis of ZERO evidence, or the ‘hours’ claimed by Peter Fitzsimons that he spent there fortifying his courage, again on ZERO evidence.
It’s true that later, when Dr Nicholson was examining Fitzpatrick’s wrist wound he noticed the smell of Brandy on his breath. But this was brandy administered by Lindsay to Fitzpatrick on his late-night return in a distressed state with a wounded wrist. It was commonplace in those days for Brandy to be used in this circumstance for ‘medicinal purposes’. And in any case Nicholson said that Fitzpatrick most definitely was NOT drunk!
So, who should be believed? A man who to that point has a clean record as a policeman, the testimony of a publican who would know drunkenness if he saw it, and the word of his doctor – or the testimony of a family of known liars in a desperate search for an excuse and someone to blame? There is no credible evidence to support the claim that Fitzpatrick was a drunk in 1878. None at all.
However, it may be argued that an absence of evidence of him being a drunk isn’t proof that he WASN’T one – absence of evidence is not evidence of absence – and I expect that Kelly sympathisers will be untroubled by all this discussion because in the back of their minds they will be telling themselves that Fitzpatrick’s dismissal from the police in April 1880 proves that their suspicions about Fitzpatrick were correct. In fact, the complaints and the charges against Fitzpatrick that resulted in his dismissal – which I will review in Part Four – had nothing to do with him being drunk, or having some sort of a problem with alcohol. The subject of drunkenness is not mentioned anywhere in any of the charges and allegations that were raised against Fitzpatrick when he was in the force, and at the Royal Commission, during a long and detailed cross examination, the subject of intoxication and alcohol abuse was not mentioned once, by anyone.
There’s one other thing : some 15 years after the Outbreak, someone called Alexander Fitzpatrick was convicted of passing worthless cheques and was sent to gaol for a year. The cheques were for amounts between £1 and £2, and the newspaper articles mention that he had been drinking heavily at the time. If we put aside the possibility this could have been a different Alexander Fitzpatrick – the court documents give a different date of birth and describe him as single – this is the only known objective association of Fitzpatrick with drinking. But no fair-minded person could regard this one mention as in any way giving credence to the allegations of the Kellys 15 years earlier – the conviction wasn’t anything to do with drunkenness, and there is no way of knowing if this was a ‘one-off’ event precipitated by some other personal crisis, or evidence that he had a problem with alcohol. And even if he did have a problem with alcohol in 1894, this in no way can be interpreted as support for the otherwise completely unsupported claim by the Kellys, that he did in 1878. A lot can happen in 16 years – and certainly did, when it comes to the life of Constable Fitzpatrick.
It’s a bitterly ironic fact that the only people who made allegations about Fitzpatrick being a drunk were a family of known criminals and proven liars whose own members had convictions for drunkenness, for arson committed while drunk, for sexual assault committed while drunk and who apparently operated an illegal ‘sly grog’ outfit. Why on earth would anyone believe them – especially when there isn’t one single fact that backs them up?
In conclusion, review of the claim by the Kellys that Fitzpatrick was a drunk – and repeated ever since by people wanting to support the Kellys claim that it was all Fitzpatrick’s fault – provides absolutely no support for the claim. It was a slur aimed at discrediting the man whose evidence resulted in Mrs Kelly and two others going to gaol and would have put Ned and Dan Kelly away for several years as well.
Fitzpatrick may have been many things, but the idea that he was a drunk in 1878 is a lie.
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39 Replies to “The Fitzpatrick Conspiracy : Part Three”
One drink equates to being intoxicated, FACT. Therefore he was drunk to some extent.
I think you need to refresh your understanding of the word "intoxicated". I dont think anyone would agree with you that its a FACT that one drink – which was brandy diluted with lemonade – would render anyone 'drunk to some extent'. The Kelly myth is not even that he was a little bit tipsy but that he was what we might call "sloshed" One drink wouldn't do it.
Having grog within your system deems you intoxicated FACT. Smoking a joint and your under the influence. Drink half a glass of grog diluted or not deems you intoxicated. I would not see Alex as sloshed by no account. I also don't believe the diluted Brandy in any way hindered his duties in performing a legal arrest. Which brings me to another point what the heck was he thinking, drinking on the job? Answer is simple my dear Watson. Alex was showing his true colors as a rogue cop.
Words have meaning, and its simply NOT a fact that 'having grog within your system deems you intoxicated'. Thats because of what 'intoxicated' actually means, which is, according to the Meriam-Webster OnLine Dictionary : "affected by alcohol or drugs especially to the point where physical and mental control is markedly diminished; especially : drunk". This is the meaning of 'intoxicated' that everyone accepts except you it would seem.
But its a long way from one brandy and lemonade to your assertion he was 'drinking on the job'. I am not familiar with what the rules were in the police force at the time – for all we know one brandy and lemonade may have been regarded as a perfectly reasonable refreshment. So, unless you have some specific knowledge of what the actual rules were around drinking at the time, I see no evidence that a single brandy and lemonade necessarily should be seen as indicting that Fitzpatrick was a 'rogue cop'. Nothing else he had done up to that point suggested he was a 'rogue cop'.
If anyone knows for sure what the police attitude was at the time to the use of alcohol please let us all know.
Al Crichton is very unusual among Kelly freaks as he has a sense of humour. But I bet he ain't laughin at your demolition of his conspiracy theory.
Conspiracies don't have archival records, but Insp. Brooke Smith wasn't Victoria's smartest cop either. He couldn't have organised a good chook raffle.
Opportunities to buy alcohol were certainly plentiful. In 1878, with a total population of just under 880,000 people, Victoria 'boasted 4,320 hotels, 334 licensed grocers, 113 wine saloons, 500 spirit merchants and 104 brewers'.
Gulp! I guess intoxication was in the eye of the beholder even back then. Weren't they lucky not to have booze buses and interlocks.
Being passed out, asleep, or staggering around were good drunkenness indicators. Seems like FitzPatrick was sober as a judge.
Failing to post my latest reply is PROVE enough that I made my point. Speak to a member of the Vic police they will concur that one drink in your system and you're intoxicated. I'm not saying Alex was a drunk as the myth makers would like us to believe. Just that he had grog in his system.
Failing to post my replies (not first time) I will not take part in further discussions on this blog in the future. Good luck with your struggle my dear Watson
Your definition of 'intoxicated' is not shared by any one else in the entire English speaking world. As for Vic Police – they have an alcohol blood level threshold below which you're deemed to be NOT 'intoxicated' so if they stop you at an RBT and you're below the level, you drive on. Do you seriously think if they thought you were intoxicated they would let you?
And who cares if another 'anonymous' has a tantrum and takes his bat and ball and goes home because he cant win an argument?
Common causes of cirrhosis are:
long-term alcohol abuse
hepatitis B and C infection
fatty liver disease
Frequent heavy drinking
Justine Corpfield has this to say
Died of cirrhosis of the liver and then cardic exhaustion
The only means of proving cause of death is to view the death certificate
Corfield has in his encyclopaedia about Constable Scanlon getting into trouble for drinking on duty more than once. Sure he was not the only one. Saw lots of articles under trove about constables being disciplined for it.
In 1856 the very first "Manual of Police Regulations for the Guidance of the Constabulary of Victoria" was published. I could not find later editions for Victoria online but found one from 1876 for Queensland police that was practically verbatim as concerns these statements from the Victorian one.
From the Victorian edition talking about the beat (or foot?) constable –
"He will pay particular attention to all public houses within his beat, reporting the hour at which each is closed, and whether they appear to be kept in good order. On no pretense shall he enter any public house, except in the immediate execution of his duty, such a breach of positive order will not be excused; the publican himself is subject to a severe fine for allowing him to remain in his house."
Regarding constables on patrols –
"When on patrol duty, constables are not to separate, talk loudly, smoke, or enter public houses, except in the performance of their duty."
The 1876 Queensland one went further (we can wonder if it was also in the later Victorian ones) –
"It is strictly forbidden that the police, on any occasion, when visiting a public house in execution of duty should ask for, buy, or take any drink."
I think all of this makes it clear that drinking on the job was prohibited.
Now, what is all this about a part four on Fitzpatrick?!?!?!? Was hoping this last one was it!
Now are you familiar with the point of drinking on the job? As I said, showing his true colors way before his dismissal from the force. Lets get this straight and don't jump to conclusions just accept that Alex twice in the one afternoon breached the code. This is where I see Alex wronged himself and the (partly Corrupted) force. Any person who cannot resist stopping for a drink at any given time of the day is in my books is a full blown alcoholic. Alex as person in the other hand, well I’ll leave that for you to fill in.
Thanks Sharon thats really interesting information about the Police attitude to drinking by constables on patrol in Victoria and Queensland. Its clear drinking on the job was regarded as a serious offence. Even the Publican would be fined if he allowed a policeman to drink on his premises !!
I think that information strengthens the idea that Fitzpatrick did NOT have an issue with drink because FIRSTLY, no drink related complaints were ever made about him while he was in the force. Fitzpatrick was criticised for all sorts of other things and if he had a drinking problem that surely would have been the first place anyone wanting to bring him down would have gone. SECONDLY, he openly admitted to the brandy and lemonade at Lindsays, which would not be expected if it could have landed him in serious trouble. If that brandy and lemonade at Lindsays was regarded as drinking on the job, and by all accounts a serious breech of regulations, why is it that it wasn't commented on anywhere at any time by anyone? The Royal Commission gave him a right going over but drinking at Lindsays wasn't mentioned once ( that I can remember – and Ive read it a few times lately) That suggests to me that having one brandy and lemonade as a refreshment was in some way not actually regarded as a breech of the regulations, and the lack of interest in his drinking habits and absence of any complaint ever about them makes me doubt he had a drinking problem.
What do you think?
Dee, note that the wording concerning a constable lingering in the pub after he has executed whatever duty it was therein – "the publican himself is subject to a severe fine for allowing him to remain in his house." That is not even giving him a drink! Just him trying to hang out a while!
Also, further reading in the guidebook shows that even if transporting prisoners and needing to stop at a pub at night to eat or stay that no drinking on the part of the police or prisoners was allowed. Also no stopping during the daytime either, they would have to eat what was procured at the last stop. They were serious about staying the heck out of pubs!
Maybe this small infraction by Fitzpatrick was sort of lost in the shuffle due to the immediate rather large business at hand?
Yes, they sure were determined that police weren't given a chance to get drunk on the job.
So do you see my point? This harsh attitude to drinking in the force makes the absence of any mention of Fitzpatrick having an issue with drink even more peculiar – in fact, as I said before I believe it greatly supports the idea that hd didn't have a drink problem, and the claims that he was drunk are just a Kelly smear.
Big egg on face for this admin is coming in a big way I assure you.
Oh really? I doubt it.
The retired truck driver with the Hate Site is grumpy that Dee and Hamish have left comments on Booktopia critical of what he calls the 'highly acclaimed' Jack Peterson piffle.
It has never been even slightly acclaimed. No reviews by professional book reviewers, newspapers. Zero, zilch, nada, nothing.
The Hate Site attempted to rubbish "The Kelly Gang Unmasked" book, but failed completely. This book got plenty of (real) highly acclaimed reviews, including one by Sir Clive Sinclair in the London Times Literary Supplement – the most prestigious of all book reviews in the world! No Kelly book previously or since got this level of top reviewer recognition.
It's time Facebook shut down the Hate Site.
Well I have now seen Fitzpatricks death certificate and once again we have uncovered another serious mistake in Corfields encyclopaedia. Cirrhosis is NOT MENTIONED. Rather it reports he died of liver sarcoma that had invaded the stomach. Its absolute conclusive – this was nothing to do with alcohol.
So I ask again, where is the evidence he had a problem with alcohol?
Corfield's "Ned Kelly Encyclopaedia" is responsible for large numbers of people wrongly believing Fitzpatrick "was discharged … for being a perjurer and a drunkard" (p. 165). Corfield's research was both wrong and amateurish. He jumped into the long line of people keen to have a go at Fitzpatrick without doing any primary research whatsoever, and stuffed it completely up like so many others have done before and after him.
In fact Fitzpatrick was discharged by Standish on 27 April 1880 “for inefficiency and insubordination” (Standish, letter to Chief Secretary, with file note, 23 April 1880, VPRS 3991 Unit 1257 Item 81/5048). He was denied any opportunity to reply (Fitzpatrick, RC Q12893).
On learning of his dismissal, over 100 residents of the Lancefield district petitioned the Chief Commissioner that Fitzpatrick had given excellent service throughout his time there, and urged his reinstatement. Specifically, the petitioners said he was “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” (Lancefield petition, VPRS 4969 Unit 1 Item 30).
Google "Redeeming Fitzpatrick" to get the free full story on the Fitzpatrick Incident if you haven't read it yet – the story Kelly enthusiasts don't want anyone to read. The story the Ned Kelly Vault ignores too, for all its claims to acknowledging research into all sides of the Kelly story.
The retired truck driver with the Hate Site has no credentials whatever as a Kelly expert – and none as a medico or pathologist. The folks at the Hate Site and visitors are simply getting fed the opinions of a retired truck driver.
Stuart Dawson, an academic with fine credentials, could find no evidence FitzPatrick was alcohol driven. But the retired truck driver says "Fitzpatrick had a known drinking problem" and "Fitzpatrick was known to have a drinking problem" and continues "just like he could not stay away from young women, apparently admirable attributes according to MacFarlane and Dawson". Where is his evidence for these statements? He makes up stuff as he goes along and can hatch conspiracy plots in a blink of an eye. Him and his Hate Site are a total waste of space.
Hi Stuart, I think Corfield’s Encyclopedia is a fantastic resource. For sure there are errors, but it remains a very useful first port of call when researching all things related to the Kelly story. Justin and his father Robin put a lot of work into it, based to a large extent (according to Justin) on notes assembled by his father over the period 1958-59. The first edition (and as far as I know, the only edition) was published in 2003. Justin told me its assembly entailed checking through census records and hours of poring through microfilm. To a large extent they had to accept certain unverified “facts” as, well, facts. It simply wasn’t an option to do extensive primary research – hell, I’ve been doing some primary research on a couple of aspects of the Kelly story and it’s been taking years, as was the case with your Fitzpatrick research. So I’d be very reluctant to label their research as wrong and amateurish. I’m sure Justin would be the first to accept that there is a need for corrections to some of the entries.
Hi Peter, in my comment I was only referring to that one part of his write-up on Fitzpatrick that I quoted and talked about, where he said Fitzpatrick "was discharged … for being a perjurer and a drunkard". It is utter rubbish and if he had bothered to look at the PROV file while doing the Fitzpatrick entry he would have known that. But no, it's more fun to pour scorn and crap all over Fitzpatrick from the great heights of Kelly fandom. The way Fitzpatrick has been slagged off by decades of Kelly writers is sickening. Now Dee has proved another myth wrong, the myth that Fitzpatrick died of alcohol-related cirrhosis. Never, ever once do any Kelly nuts reconsider that Fitzpatrick's testimony was given honestly and truthfully as best he recalled, or acknowledge that it was consistent over time. No, they slag him off, call him a drunken perjurer, and take great delight in defaming him at every possible opportunity. This is not doing research, it is recycling old prejudices without making any effort to check anything. This is how myths arise and are perpetuated. It is historical lies and bunkum. Fitzpatrick has wrongly been portrayed as the villain of the Kelly outbreak for almost 140 years, no wonder he went to pieces. He stood by his Kelly testimony in the Cookson interview of 1911 – that is what motivated me to see why he would do that; and the investigation showed that he did so because he was telling the truth. His testimony holds up to scrutiny, but I was the first person in 140 years to take a few hours to reconstruct it. And when Fitzpatrick said that he had only the one brandy and lemonade on the way to Mrs Kellys (yes, against regulations to have one halfway through a 2 hour ride while calling at a pub form information, where the owner was said by Ned Kelly himself to be a police informer), and where he also had a brandy on his way back with a gunshot wound and shock, and was attested by the doctor at Benalla NOT to have been drunk on his return, wouldn't someone writing an article when creating a Kelly reference book and read at least the newspaper write-ups of his testimony check this basic information before wrongly stating for all the world to read as a citable scholarly reference that Fitzpatrick was dismissed as a "perjurer and drunkard"? Ever since 2003 every person who consults the encyclopaedia, every teacher writing classroom notes, every schoolkid doing research, every curious member of the public, is served up the same utterly wrong information by a specialist encyclopaedia reference work for which as far as I know no errata was ever released, because it just reflects the same old unthinking bile with which Fitzpatrick has always been treated by Kelly partisans. An errata note is long overdue, as is an apology to Fitzpatrick's descendants who have been subject to this misinformation by a raft of Kelly writers for decades. But no Kelly author ever apologises for errors where Fitzpatrick I concerned. I would love to see one of them do so…
Good Afternoon All.
I trust you are well.
Let me say again on the record that I enjoyed Jacks book. I wish he wasn't copping all this negativity. I also regret Ian McFarlanes "Ünmasked" book being vilified as I believe it's a very worthy addition to the Kellyana shelves. In fact, it's this book that brought me back from the wilderness in a way. It's thought provoking viewpoints rekindled my interest in the Kelly Outbreak.
Which brings me to Doug Morrissey. Last night, I received my copy of his second Ned book in the post. "Ned Kelly: Squatters, Selectors, Stock thieves." (Volume 2 of a projected trilogy.) It will be criticised. It will be maligned. Doug will be abused I am sure. But can I ask that we all refrain? (and that goes for all sites..) Thus far, it looks good. The contextual information on Kelly Country in the late 1870's will be invaluable. (albeit it possibly a dry read.)
Interestingly, Doug himself started out as pro Ned when he was young and spent a lot of his childhood in Moyhu, in the "heartland". It was only when he went to Uni that the research undertaken led to him changing his opinion on Kelly. He indeed had an interesting journey as a student of the Kelly story. And his mentor, John Hirst, seemed to be a towering, interesting presence throughout.
Lets give this book a go. As we should EVERYONES work. And Peter? I also think Corfields book is an excellent resource. The material alone that he collated is no mean feat. I think Mr. Dawson was a little bit uncharitable there. But then again, I guess we are all different. Remember though, good manners cost nothing. Am I right? Or am I right?
Love from Mark.
In Adelaide. Wink.
Thanks Mark. I am still waiting for my copy and look forward to reading it. Why don't you be the person who writes the Blog Post review of this book? Be as polite and as nice to Morrissey as you like and then we will all discuss what you have to say after we have also read it.
Regarding Corfields book, you will know I posted a review of it and was very complimentary. However, there are some very serious and important errors in that book and I think its absolutely vital that we encourage people using it to be careful.
Lastly, regarding your appeal for good manners, this is not the forum where that advice is most needed by a very long shot. Maybe you could go there and offer them the same advice – but dont expect a polite response!
Hi Mark, I may have got overheated but it is not about being charitable. The Kelly Republic myth is the main pillar of a dominant Kelly speculation. If you (or anyone reading) read the first two sentences of Corfield's entry for "Republic of North- Eastern Victoria" you will see the problem. Then see how it is elaborated and built up in the third paragraph. This is a potted version of now myths are constructed – "we have nothing, but it might be something".
Next, his entry on "Metcalf, George", the second and third sentences; then the skulduggery of the third sentence, and the references for this historical lie. I wrote this up in "Ned Kelly's shooting of George Metcalf".
Finally, his entry for Fitzpatrick, with which I had some difficulty. So, some colossal and extraordinarily influential factual historical errors about three central problems in the popular Kelly story. And still frequently quoted as an authoritative reference.
I agree that it would have been a massive effort putting it together, but what should be done when looking for facts about the Kelly story? I bought a second-hand copy to have as a quick handy reference, to look up things in what is widely regarded as a generally reliable reference book. Imagine my surprise when I found that for most of the small range of topics I am interested in, I couldn't rely on it, and had to check most things myself, and trace them back to actual source evidence. But I also saw how widely it is quoted by others. That creates a huge problem for anyone who wants reliable facts. So my solution is unfortunately for anything significant, I have to double check everything. And because it is so widely used as a reference book, and held in many libraries, I have to point out any errors that affect things I am researching, to counter the problem that people will say I'm wrong about something "because they looked it up in the NKE". Most people don't do primary research. It takes a long time and there are limited hours available. Plus, there is a lot of good, interesting stuff written by amateur historians. But the Kelly problems I have looked at are significant historical problems, not little things, and so it seems compulsory to highlight errors in such things as reference books where they exist, otherwise the errors go unchallenged. For much of the "who-was-who in the Kelly days" material, it is an excellent easy reference with little to worry about. The problem is when it gets into historical interpretation. Some is right, some is wrong, but you never know without checking up.
Oh God Dee. If I was to do a review of Morrisseys new book, I would have more shit hung on me than a Bottersnikes Christmas tree. Even I have limits. Appreciating both sides of the argument does me no favours with anyone I have discovered. I am kind of a lone wolf in this regard. In fact, I have been referred to as the Aaron Sherritt of the Kelly internet. Not fair and not true.
Hi Stuart. Yes, I get your points about Corfields work and I am glad you note that most don't have the chance or time to engage in primary work. So that leaves us with what is already on the record. My point really was, we can criticise others work but not in the pragmatic, unempathetic, sledgehammer way that you and Dee seem to? Yes, Justin got some fairly salient points incorrect but I temper that with the fact that putting together this huge tome at all was no mean feat.
The revisionist wave will work it's way down. But please be patient and understanding. I cannot stress this enough. The people I know and love in the Kelly world have been a student of Ned since children in the main. As have I. Its a slow, intricate process. Lets be patient and decent. The sledgehammer approach does not work for most. (I love it but I am unusual… wink..)
Mark you're right, you're unusual.
But you shouldn't be afraid of having shit hung on you for expressing an opinion. If people attack YOU for exercising your right to free speech then the problem is THEM, not you, and why would you worry about what such disrespectful people have to say about anything? Apart from pointing out that their ad hominem attacks render them irrelevant to the debate, they should be ignored.
As for these people you know and love in the Kelly world, given what I have been reading on facebook pages, it seems the love isn't being reciprocated. The shit they would hang on you is bullying. I am afraid given their performances this week about Fitzpatricks death certificate, and their performances about everything else over the last six years, I cant share your optimism that over time what you call the 'revisionist wave' – what I call corrections to the history books – will trickle down to these people. They have absolutely zero interest in anything other than defending their Kelly myths by whatever tactic they can put their hands on. They are a lost cause and I am not interested in having anything to do with them or trying to enlighten or educate or even engage with them.
I write for the interested observer and anyone actually looking to finding out the truth about the Kelly outbreak. Such people are worth engaging. They have opinions they might share and perspectives we might not have seen, and vice versa. Sharing knowledge and ideas is what interests me, not trying to persuade bigots and bullies.
Hi Mark, fair enough, I will try to avoid sledgehammering in future comments. But I still feel it is necessary to point out gross historical errors where they appear. So I will try and do it in a more reasonable way… There are still a couple of interesting historical puzzles to investigate, however. One of these is the "quiet years", when Ned was possibly earning an honest living for about 3 years. There is an old Ian Jones article about it in "Walkabout" magazine from the early 1960s. Obviously the period claimed will have start and end dates. It could be interesting to see what happened in between. Up in Beechworth I was told that there is some evidence somewhere of him working in the timber industry, but as what I don't know – cutting, logging, sawing, who knows. (Not that debateable photo in the Vault, other info altogether.) It would be interesting to put some dates into what is known. There is a possibility he might have been involved in gold mining at some point too. And from memory there was a horse theft incident as well. So maybe that would all be an interesting investigation…
The gang were mining for gold in Germans Creek, not far from Stringybark Creek – and in the King River.
Hi Cam, would you possibly be able to point me to any books or references that mention that? It is not something I have ever looked at!
Dee, has there been anything in the past about the "quiet years" on this blog?
MacFarlane (2012: 67) for Germans Creek, can't remember the King River ref. As for the "quiet years" I think you'll find it is another IJ concoction. MacFarlane (2012: 52) shows Ned was charged with horse theft at Oxley during that period, but was discharged.
Re George Metcalf – does anyone have a scan of Metcalf's death certificate they would like to share?
Thanks Cam, I'll see what else anyone might add down the line. I don't know if there will turn out to be a puzzle to solve or not, but it is interesting to wonder about.
From Trip Advisor user about the Beechworth Ned Kelly Walking Tour
Immerse yourself in the history and folklore of the Kellys
"A wet day but it didn't deter our guide from an informative and entertaining tour of the life and times of the Kelly family. He related the early history of the Kellys and took us through the sequence of events leading to Ned Kelly and his gang and their escapades and clashes with the police and his eventual capture. He was very much a victim of the times and the harassment and persecution of his family that turned Ned to a life of crime at an early age but a folk hero to many people. Tour took in visits to Burke museum and other buildings featuring in the life of the Kellys. Most poignant was seeing the cell where Mrs Kelly and her 3 month old baby were locked up for a time. Tour highly recommended. Tour has a nominal charge payable at information centre." https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/ShowUserReviews-g552137-d1954121-r587792473-Ned_Kelly_Guided_Walking_Tour-Beechworth_Victoria.html#
Let's repeat that middle bit: "He was very much a victim of the times and the harassment and persecution of his family that turned Ned to a life of crime at an early age but a folk hero to many people". It sounds like the Beechworth guides are telling lies of Ned Kelly proportions.
It's highly unlikely there is any record of which cell was occupied by Ellen Kelly and her 3-month baby. There have been years of complaints about disinformation at Beechworth sites and presentations, especially court recreations. This was especially true during the Kelly Weekends.
Now the Daniels Govt is funding more of this guff.
Everything at Beechworth that is Kelly related should be properly peer reviewed. That way, those people put their names and reputations on the line.
They couldn't care less about it being right. Its just a rates funded fan club for Kelly fans. It sounds like it runs at a loss. Daniels is a Wangaratta boy so that would explain it. Those people wouldn't know facts if they fell over them. They sit in offices flushing taxpayer money down the toilet. The only jobs they ever create are more government jobs shuffling paper and talking bullsh*t, and more regulations and paperwork to stop real businesses getting on with making a fair living. How long do they think tourists are going to keep coming when they realise they are being fed bullsh*t?
Well, it seems like Dee is not the only bloody Grinch around here. You 2 sad sacks don't want the new projects to get up? Gee.. What a surprise.
What bugs me about it all is that even more moneys going to be wasted in perpetuating an almost completely false memory of a man who was nothing much more than a thief, violent killer and thwarted mass murderer.
Having said that I don't think the Daniels Government has had any input into the NK Alive project so far- I think its local government that have paid the 150 odd thousand to the private consultancy that has made all these suggestions, and they've certainly done alright out of it.
Its now up to the local Governments to decide which of the flashy projects they are willing to spend money on, and my guess is they will fund a couple of the cheapest and that will be it. There was proposal for a Tower at Glenrowan years ago that went nowhere after thousands had been spent commissioning yet another report and I will eat my hat if it ever gets built.
Mark I know you have a soft spot for Ned Kelly but the days of Kelly idolatry are numbered. He has earned himself a tiny place as a villain in the pages of the Australian history books, and perhaps his worshippers should get a mention under "Deluded" but thats about it.
The Walking Tour does not go to the Gaol but to the cell under the Town Hall where Harry Power had been kept. The tour guide says that Ellen was also kept their for a short time. Ive done the tour twice now and both guides cited an image of the Kellys being poor persecuted farmers and the police have handed and corrupt. The second time I went, not that long ago, I was hoping the Guide would be Michael, the Guide who claims he doesnt tell any porkies but on that day he was assigned to duties in the Court House. Apparently the Kelly fanciers who play IdentiDee have circuited among themselves pictures they say ar of me and as a result he had declared he would recognise me if I went there – so I had a chat to him in the Court house and he didn't !