The Actual True Story of Ned Kelly Part IV : 1877 and the Fitzpatrick Incident

Early in 1877 Superintendent Nicolson visited Ellen Kelly and her children in their shack on 11 Mile Creek, near Greta. This was the year that Ned Kelly claimed he was living the indulgent life of a ‘rambling gambler’ but Nicholson reported that his mother and siblings ‘appeared to be living in poverty and squalor’. It was also apparent to Nicolson that none of her sons was helping her to make the required improvements to the selection – when Mrs Kelly was asked where they were she told him they were out working but wouldn’t say where. However, towards the end of the year Kelly and Joe Byrne and a couple of other family friends built a new cottage for Mrs Kelly, a replacement for the shack that she and her children had moved into when she took up her selection. Building his mother a new cottage is the only recorded tangible support Ned Kelly ever gave his mother – certainly he didn’t help her with rent payments as she often fell behind and was at risk of losing the selection on several occasions

 

In the Jerilderie letter, Ned Kelly boasted that not only had he become a full-time stock thief in 1877, but also that he was never convicted of horse stealing. To Kelly and his supporters, committing crimes and getting away with it was obviously something to be proud of. As I recounted in Part 3, the only crimes he was convicted of that year were drunkenness, resisting arrest and assaulting police, but even that was a source of pride to the young thug, who later described in gleeful detail how violently he resisted arrest: “with one well directed blow I sent him (Fitzpatrick) sprawling against the wall, and the staggering blow I then gave him partly accounts to me for his subsequent conduct towards my family and myself”. The punishment was a fine that he probably had no difficulty paying, given the success of the stock thieving syndicate he ran using the alias Mr J Thompson.

 

As might be expected, given what Ned Kelly admitted he was doing that year, the police received a dramatic increase in reports of cattle and horses being stolen in 1877. In the course of their investigations into the disappearance of eleven horses, in November undercover policemen were offered two horses that had been reported missing by James Whitty, from Moyhu. The vendor, William Baumgarten lived on a property near the Murray, and said he had bought them from a Mr J Thompson. Following leads, police learned that Baumgartens cheque for £18.00 was cashed at a Bank in Benalla, they came to believe that Mr Thompson was an alias used by Ned Kelly, and as a result, on March 15th 1878 a warrant was sworn at Chiltern for Ned Kellys arrest for horse stealing. Another similar warrant was issued for Dan Kelly on April 5th, setting the scene for what has become the most intensely debated controversy in the entire Kelly story, the ‘Fitzpatrick affair’, so named because Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick was the policeman who went to the Kelly home at 11 Mile creek near Greta, to arrest Dan on April 15th.

 

In brief, according to Constable Fitzpatrick, when he arrived at the Kelly cottage, Dan Kelly agreed to go back to the station with him, and Fitzpatrick in turn agreed to wait in the house while Dan finished his meal. However, a brief but violent argument erupted when Mrs Kelly insisted – wrongly – that as Fitzpatrick couldn’t show the warrant, Dan didn’t need to go. Fitzpatrick was assaulted by Mrs Kelly with a shovel and shot at by Ned Kelly, but then, after removing the revolver bullet that had lodged under the skin of his left wrist, fearing for his life he agreed not to mention what had happened and fled the scene. By the time police visited the Kelly house the following evening, both Ned and Dan Kelly had disappeared.

 

The reason this event has become such a divisive and hotly contested part of the Kelly story is that the Kellys completely reject every detail of Fitzpatrick’s version of events, and they claim everything that followed, the entire Kelly “outbreak” –  the imprisonment of Mrs Kelly, the police murders at Stringybark Creek, the formation and then destruction of the Kelly gang, the bank robberies and the loss of innocent life at Glenrowan – all of this was caused not by Ned Kelly but by Fitzpatrick. The Kelly narrative around Fitzpatrick is that before he came to their house he was known to be an inferior and corrupt policeman and a womaniser, and when he arrived that evening he was drunk. They deny Fitzpatrick was shot by Ned Kelly, and many months later claimed that the reason Mrs Kelly attacked him was because he sexually molested her daughter, Ned Kellys 14-year-old sister Kate. Some say he attempted, others say he actually did rape Kate. The Kelly narrative is that Fitzpatrick’s subsequent dismissal from the police force proves their case.

The problem with the Kelly narrative is that it’s a story that the Kellys themselves constantly changed, and as their story grew and evolved over time, assertions made early in the piece were contradicted by claims they made later on, and details were added later that were never asserted at the beginning. The day after the incident Mrs Kelly denied to police that Fitzpatrick had even visited her house. Ned Kelly initially denied he had shot Fitzpatrick – on one occasion saying he was 40 miles away on another up to 400 miles away at the time – but when wounded and fearing he was dying after capture at Glenrowan he admitted he was there that night and that he did shoot Fitzpatrick. The claims of sexual molestation and rape which could have formed part of a defence to keep Mrs Kelly out of prison were never mentioned at her trial and were unheard of until the following year, but later, Ned said it hadn’t happened. The claim that Fitzpatrick was a drunk, was known as an inferior policeman, that he was a womaniser, that he disobeyed orders going to the Kelly house, that he needed to show the warrant before he could arrest Dan Kelly – these and many other assertions about Fitzpatrick simply don’t withstand careful scrutiny of the records of the time. In fact, many can be positively disproven by reference to police service records, news reports and public records. A particularly obvious example of a false claim that is repeated to support the idea that Fitzpatrick was a drunk, is the entry in the Ned Kelly Encyclopaedia  and repeated in print as recently as 2018 in ‘Black Snake the real story of Ned Kelly’ by Leo Kennedy that  says Fitzpatrick was suffering from cirrhosis of the liver when he died. In fact, his death certificate makes no mention of cirrhosis of the liver, but records that he died from sarcoma of the liver, an entirely different disease, and one that has no association with alcoholism. 

 

What is left is Fitzpatrick’s unwavering testimony, backed up by his police record of service and things like the wound in his wrist, the smashed helmet and a police jumper with a bullet hole in it. There is also the surprising fact that a Kelly sympathiser who went to jail for his part in the attack on Fitzpatrick later retracted his support for the Kellys version of events and endorsed Fitzpatrick’s account as true. Against all that is the changeable contradictory and unreliable narrative provided by the Kellys and their supporters, many of whom lied, many of whom spread rumour we know to be untrue, and many of whom had every reason to want to conceal the truth about what happened that night. There’s also the fact that the day after it happened, even though they were supposed to be innocent, Ned and Dan Kelly fled into the countryside, their mother lied about their whereabouts and for the rest of their short lives they were wanted men.

The ‘Fitzpatrick incident’ is one of the sentinel events in the Kelly story, an event around which, beginning the very next day after it happened, an almost impenetrable web of confusing conflicting and distracting narratives have been woven. Ned Kellys narrative was always that he was a victim of police persecution, a complaint criminals have been making since time immemorial, and the aim of the Kellys lying and dissembling about the Fitzpatrick incident was to continue that narrative, and to deflect responsibility for the outbreak from the criminal behaviour of Ned Kelly and his associates onto the police.

 

 

However, Ned Kelly was undeniably a self-confessed and unashamed stock thief, the head of a criminal syndicate that operated on two sides of the border. It was almost inevitable that sooner or later police would take an interest in him, and if it wasn’t Fitzpatrick then some other policeman would have eventually come to make an arrest. And when the inevitable finally did happen it wasn’t persecution, it wasn’t harassment, it wasn’t about a trivial breach of the law or something technical or trumped up, but an entirely justified and appropriate response to a serious crime :  the theft of eleven horses belonging to three different people.

 

Certainly, the Kelly Outbreak followed soon after Fitzpatrick’s visit, but he wasn’t the cause of it – the true cause of the Outbreak was the impulsive and immature decision Ned Kelly boasted about in the Jerilderie Letter:

“I heard again I was blamed for stealing a mob of calves from Whitty and Farrell which I knew nothing about. I began to think they wanted me to give them something to talk about. Therefore, I started wholesale and retail horse and cattle dealing”

 

(The definitive account of the Fitzpatrick Affair is the exhaustively referenced and detailed examination of it by  Dr Stewart Dawson :  “Redeeming  Fitzpatrick” , a brilliant must read for any person wanting to know the truth about the Kelly Story : Linked Here)

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47 Replies to “The Actual True Story of Ned Kelly Part IV : 1877 and the Fitzpatrick Incident”

  1. Just noting that my “Redeeming Fitzpatrick” article was published in Eras Journal nearly 5 years ago and no-one has faulted it. (There was one typo in a footnote, which is corrected in the linked download copy.) The article blows a huge hole in Ian Jones’ “Short Life” chapter, ‘The Fitzpatrick Mystery’, which emerges badly scarred as little more than fanciful creative writing. And, as David points out above, that is a cornerstone of his book. Most of Jones’ ‘facts’ are wrong or grossly selective; he derides or avoids mentioning any source evidence that contradicts his rose-tinted view of Ned Kelly, and his narrative relies heavily on contradictory oral history that dates back to the 1940s to 1960s. His chapter conclusion is laughable: Ned’s “impulsive reaction in defence of another sister [Kate] had spawned the Kelly Outbreak”. This is utter tosh. The Kelly outbreak was the consequence of the police closing in on the Baumgarten horse stealing ring in which Ned Kelly under the alias Thompson was the lead figure. See John McQuilton’s “Kelly Outbreak” pp 84-85 for a short summary. See also Sgt Steele’s Royal Commission evidence naming that as the original cause of the trouble. It amazes me that with the ever-growing proof of Jones’ massive historical errors on nearly every Ned Kelly topic – his entire representation of the SBC murders, his evidence-bending claims of McIntyre’s alleged perjury, his broken Kelly republican fantasy, that his book is still on the non-fiction shelves. It’s a great narrative, as in a very well told story, but it is mostly oral-history-based fantasy-fiction. Grantlee Keiza’s “Mrs Kelly” book documents very well the endless list of Kelly clan criminality that Jones suppresses throughout his narrative. That is a good place to start for an alternative perspective on the Kelly saga to counteract Jones, but one really needs to read Ian MacFarlane’s “Kelly Gang Unmasked” to cut to the heart of the massive historical mythmaking that Jones perpetuated with his highly selective ‘research’ and historically misleading narrative. Nothing in the historical documents of Kelly’s day supports Jones’ narrative or perspective. It is a mid- to late-twentieth century fantasy about something that never was.

    1. Stuart youre very hard on Jones, but I agree that essentially what Jones did was write a really good story, using the historical sources as props for the tale he wanted to tell about Ned Kelly. However, at times he surprises me by actually following the logic, and so Ive always given him credit for stating it quite plainly, that Ned Kelly lied about his role in the Fitzpatrick incident.

      Ive also always thought it was a clever move on his part to call that Chapter The Fitzpatrick Mystery, as if there was something unfathomable and mysterious about what happened. In fact, its only mysterious if you start off by accepting the Kelly portrait of Fitzpatrick as a liar and not to be believed. Everything fits his story quite easily if you dont start off refusing to accept that what he said was true. The weird thing is that if you decide to accept what the Kellys said was the truth, it becomes impossible to work out what happened because they all contradicted one another.

      Having said all that, I think its a pity the Police reacted the way they did to the Kellys attack on Fitzpatrick. I think charges of assault and careless use of a weapon would have been a better description of the crimes committed. I dont think Mrs Kelly, or even Ned Kelly were really out to murder Fitzpatrick. The whole thing was an explosion of anger and rage, and certainly not, in my view at least, premeditated. Nevertheless it was more good luck than good management that meant Fitzpatrick wasn’t killed.

  2. Hi David, I have always maintained that Jones was a great narrator and laid the groundwork for much of what is now looked at as the Kelly story. What I am concerned about is the lack of scrutiny of his many omissions and evidence-fudging that should have been picked up back in the mid-1990s when “Short Life” and “Fatal Friendship” were published. There was some criticism, but overwhelmingly they were met with uncritical praise. There was no considered assessment of his two key arguments – Fitzpatrick and the republic – until 2012, over 15 years since his books were published. As such they shaped the narrative that has dominated the Kelly story ever since. As I have mentioned once before, practically every non-fiction book about the Kelly gang has had Jones’ direct personal input. The exceptions are Molony’s “I am Ned Kelly” (1980) and MacFarlane’s (Kelly Gang Unmasked” (2012). If you check the acknowledgements in every other book of any note you will see Jones thanked for direct help. Yes, he was obviously generous with his time, but within that much that should have been questioned was not. That’s what happens when you have a guru, and it happens in other areas of study as well. On top of that, most of what has been written is by enthusiastic amateurs, not critical academics. There’s nothing particularly wonderful about trained academics, by the way, but they typically have a much more critical attitude to source evidence and the boundaries of interpretation.

    There was never any mystery about what happened at the Kelly house on 15 April 1878 with the Fitzpatrick incident; just a whole lot of obfuscation, to which Jones contributed by not researching and exposing the multiple contradictions and nonsense in the Kelly versions of what happened, and most importantly, by never attempting to reconstruct Fitzpatrick’s evidence to see how it might hold up. In other words, he had already made up his mind that Fitzpatrick was a liar and a larrikin, so his “investigation” was a whitewash. That’s why he ignored the dates on Fitzpatrick’s record of service to claim that Fitzpatrick was always a bad apple – not true. That’s why he ignored the facts of the warrant and police gazetting in law – Fitzpatrick acted lawfully. And so on; it’s in my article as you know. And that’s why the “Fitzpatrick Mystery” chapter is shoddy history, even if he managed to get a few things right.

    Your last point – that assault and careless use of a weapon would have been more accurate – depend on whether the law was clear that any person firing a weapon at a police officer had to be charged with attempted murder, in a way that might not have applied to a weapon fired at a civilian. In other words, there may have been no room for discretion about the charge. There was a legal person looking into that last year, who understood that that was so; I haven’t heard back yet, but if anyone can provide a clear legal reference for that one way or the other, that would be good. Plus, the persons in the house acted in concert in the assault; they aided and abetted whatever took place. I think that is clear from the evidence, including Williamson’s evidence, so I suggest there is no wiggle room to wonder if a lesser charge than aiding and abetting whatever the charge was might apply.

  3. I don’t usually comment much, but in this instance I shall.
    Firstly I agree with Stuarts assessment of Jones. Reading his diatribe one can only come to the conclusion that what is written is a load of twaddle. He, on almost every occasion accepts the Kelly’s words, although he must have known they were all practised liars. He also degrades the police where ever he can, by making the unfounded allegation that they perjured themselves time and time again. In his flamboyant style of writing he often takes liberties and tells us how Kelly was thinking and where he went, when in fact it was all a guess with not a scrap of evidence to support his ramblings. I consider his book “A Short Life” to be a work of fiction through and through. His ramblings on a Republic is fiction and that has been exposed so well by Stuart. Stuart’s work is impeccable, and although he has taken a fair bit of flack, it is 100% accurate.

    I must disagree with you David regarding the offence of attempted murder levelled against Ned Kelly. It was sheer luck that one of the 3 times Kelly fired at Fitzpatrick that he escaped with only a flesh wound. It could have easily turned to murder.

    I however, do agree with you regarding the death of Fitzpatrick. You have clearly displayed his death certificate on your site for some time showing the cause was Sarcoma.
    I note that Bill Denheld on his Iron Outlaw site makes the claim that Fitzpatrick died of
    Cirrhosis of the liver. Bill must have seen your site, as he is a contributor, and he must also know that the information on his site is fiction. Why was it not been changed? If Bill seeks the truth then it should be changed to reflect the truth.
    I should also point out that Leo Kennedy is not the only one that claims that Fitzpatrick died of Cirrhosis, as Doug Morrissey also makes that claim in Selectors, Squatters and Stock thieves Page 273.
    Change is coming, but it will take time.

    1. HI Sam, good to have another voice joining the conversation.

      Regarding the shots that were fired at Fitzpatrick, I was questioning the idea that when they were fired, the intent was to kill Fitzpatrick. Its also possible wouldn’t you say that they could have been fired as a way to intimidate and frighten him – but in the heat of the moment its also possible no clear objective had been formulated.

      It may also be, as Stuart has suggested that whatever the intent was, to do such a thing automatically results in a charge of attempted murder. This would be analogous to the law of the day that mandated a charge of murder if a policeman is killed in the line of duty – this is something I learned in reading about the police murders at SBC and was discussed as far back as the Symposium in 1967! I am not aware of anyone ever discussing this idea in relation to SBC, but maybe someone can give us the definitive answer. One of the speakers at the “Ned and the Law” symposium at Greta in February might know – she sometimes commented on legal matters on my Facebook page but hasn’t done so lately.

    2. Hello Sam, firstly my site is Iron Icon not Iron Outlaw. I agree we don’t want fiction seen as truth, but I dont recall ever claiming Fitzpatrick died of cirrhosis but if you could provide the URL and ref for any such references on my http://www.ironicon.com.au webpages, I will certainly make corrections and highlight those changes.

      David, at the very beginning you wrote that Ned professed to say ‘he was a full time stock thief ‘. Later you quote the Jerilderie letter where in Ned wrote-

      “I began to think they wanted me to give them something to talk about. Therefore, I started wholesale and retail horse and cattle dealing”

      Shouldn’t your first reference to ‘Stock Thief be changed to ‘Stock trader’ as in horse and or cattle dealer.
      I also point out you have not mentioned that the squatters who had all the land sewn up resented the lesser members of the society, namely the lower classes ( ethnic Irish, Welsh or even Brits) were not able to take advantage of earlier land acquisition, and that too often cattle belonging to the lesser farmer that stayed onto roads and were quickly impounded by people like the Whitty, Farrells, McBean and hundreds of others – all who were VERY large lease holders, causing the smaller land holders much grief having to try and retrieve ‘Their’ stock from the pound. It was in this situation that the lesser farmer was greatly disadvantaged because lack of resources – money and labour, the pressure to fence, AND clear their land were the difficulties they all faced, but also the fact that the most rich had the power to also instruct the police what to do in their favour.

      I think it was the Governor of NSW at the time that said ‘the land grab by the squatters was in itself ‘illegal’ and against British law. He said the squatters were a law amongst themselves and when there became evidence of uprisings (Kelly sympathisers included) they had to invent ways to free up land especially for unsuccessful gold miners seeking a meagre existence from the land. But even though changes were made the squattocracy gave very little away, and what they did relinquish was usually useless land too small from which to make a living, – as in Mrs Kelly’s case – 100 acres while her direct neighbor James McBean had something like 50.000 acres with rivers running through it.

      1. HI Bill, yes I did write that Ned Kelly declared himself to be a fulltime stock thief and you’re right that’s not what he actually wrote. However I think everyone accepts that when he described what he was doing as ‘dealing’ , he was referring to stock theft. A little further along in the Jerilderie Letter he writes that he and George King did indeed steal horses belonging to the Whittys and he admitted that the horses he sold to Baumgarten were stolen.

        In regard to the disputes between Squatters and Selectors, its not as black and white as you want to make it, evil squatters and saintly selectors!. After all James Quinn, Ned Kellys grandfather was a squatter and he had the 25,000 acre Glenmore Run in the King Valley! And Whitty was a poor Irishman who arrived with nothing but by hard work and astute business practice ended up wealthy and a big landowner. But just because there were disputes between them, that is hardly an excuse for Ned Kellys behaviour which included theft from selectors, thefts which arguably were worse crimes than stealing from Squatters who had the resources to continue, whereas stealing a selectors only horse often left him and his family destitute.

        Ned Kelly really only cared about himself, but when he needed to gain sympathy he pretended to care about his family and the poor. How much of the money he stole did he spend on getting help for his mother : NOT ONE CENT!

        1. Hi David, you have just reminded me that Ned was not only a direct descendant of the squattocracy, he could go play on the ranch with his mentor Harry Power – who he then lagged on from the comfort of Kilmore nick. And admire the peacock while living high on the hog (or someone else’s sheep as the case may be). LOL! He probably lay around dreaming of being a real bushranger, not a brown paper bag one like old Harry. And next thing you know, there he was in the pen; but his old mate Harry was not at all happy with young Kelly even though he got free board and lodging. Taking a liberty if you ask me. As for his ma, da. He never give her a farthing. And they never let him out to play for Williamstown, regardless of what old tonsils said. What jamaica that? Anyway Morrissey showed that a high percentage of selectors in that era did make a go of it. The squatters have had a bad name for decades, but the Whittys weren’t squatters but cluster farmers, as Morrissey showed. So it’s all a bit more nuanced than it first looks, as all of us regular visitors here know.

  4. Pace (peace) to Ian Jones…

    When my book was published I had hoped Ian Jones would launch a brutal, ballistic attack on it, like he did with with ‘Ned Kelly’s Last Days’ by deceased author Alex C Castles who could not respond! An ambush on my book would have been wonderful publicity.

    Not only did Ian Jones studiously ignore my book himself, but he advised Peter FitzSimons to ignore it altogether also. This was immensely stupid advice. It made FitzSimons, who accepted Jones’s advice, look like a historical nincompoop, and his ‘Ned Kelly: The Story of Australia’s Most Notorious Legend’ book flawed forever.

    Groan!

    Ian MacFarlane

  5. Despite my 2015 Redeeming Fitzpatrick article being abused online upon release by several people from Jones’s circle, and me also sending him a copy at the time of publication via his secretarial service, which all means he was well aware of it, he made no response to it ripping apart the central pillar of his Short Life book which sought to blame the whole Kelly outbreak on the Fitzpatrick incident. That was always a naively stupid claim and he must have realised that when it was demolished in meticulous detail. If Fitzpatrick had not gone that day to arrest Dan, another policeman would have done so sooner or later as Dan was wanted on warrant. Jones fell hook line and sinker for selective parts of the Kelly version that blamed Fitzpatrick but were obviously self contradictory, then wilfully suppressed and misquoted evidence that exposed his pseudo historical muddling for the hopeless mess that it was, which he had been propagating since the 1960s. He might have been a lovely bloke in the film and television industry, but he went over the hills and far away with his error riddled Kelly fictions. And so much of it still needs to be corrected as glaring wrong – the body straps myth just to name one of dozens.

  6. Chanel Nine is again flogging its horrid Heath Ledger ‘Ned Kelly’ movie which is on yet again tonight.

    Obviously Nine’s programming numbskulls don’t visit this website. The film is pro-Ned propaganda with all the usual mistakes and errors.

    Horrie and Alf

  7. We just watched the SBC part where Lonergan got his revolver out and SHOT AT NED, and was killed in return. Ned killed Kennedy with a revolver, but is shown stealing his watch.

    This film is shockingly inept and WRONG. Channel Nine should retire it to its “unwatchable ridiculous junk room”

    Horrie and Alf

  8. I’m watching too.
    This film is absolute, utter romantic rubbish!
    I’m going to try and find who the idiots were who produced so much misleading muck.

    Cam West

  9. That 2003 Jordan/Kelly film is terrible bilge which I watched only once ever, on a $2 op-shop DVD. Full of historical clangers from its deep-sea like opening where a young Ned Kelly swims for ages underwater in Hughes Creek, going down, down, down to rescue a pudgy young Richard Shelton (when in reality the creek was not in flood and Richard fell into a waterhole, not a large deep lake); to its tortuous ending where a train choofs away from a clearing while dozens of police mill about over the tracks in its wake.

    Fortunately I kept the DVD for this sort of moment where it has attracted some comments, so I can answer Cam West’s question about “who the idiots were who produced so much misleading muck.” In movie land the producers are those that put up the bucks, and key idiots here were the Melbourne Film Office, otherwise known as Film Victoria, listed in the end credits, wasting our hard earned taxes, charges and levies on this nauseating crap. I want a rego discount for the next 10 years! Defund the morons! Close Film Victoria! Their recent funding efforts are no better in quality. They are like the Canadian Film Board who produced decades of unwatchable and unsellable garbage for all sorts of reasons other than aesthetics. It should be a requirement that film proceeds go first to repay any government funding before the film company gets any profits after direct costs. But better, that Film Victoria ceases to exist as it has no commercial sense at all, never has and never will. It’s a sheltered workshop for overpaid arty fart bureaucrats who couldn’t hold down a real job if you gave them one.

    I have screen shotted most of the film’s cast list below. Notice that the fourth role in the cast list is that well-known Kelly gang associate, Julia Cook (LOL). Who?, you may well ask. There’s no such name in Ian Jones’ “Short Life” index, or in anything else about the Kelly gang, so we can be sure that this film is a pathetic farce that doesn’t even pretend to reflect history. In fact, it’s total unaesthetic garbage from start to finish IMHO. Orlando Bloom is the most miscast actor here, not remotely Aussie-like, but there are plenty of other visual and scripting stuff-ups that make this movie hard to endure even once.

    The other thing to note in the cast list is that none of the policemen central to the story are given first names in their role listing. They are just listed by surname – Fitzpatrick, Lonigan, Scanlon, etc. The turncoat Aaron Sherritt gets his full name, as do all the Kelly clan and associates, but the civilian heroes – Stanistreet, Reardon, and Curnow – are also surname only. Whoever was responsible for this cringeworthy bias is a complete moron, not a historian, nor even a competent scripter. And no, I didn’t watch this mindless garbage film again for these comments, just checked the start and end titles for the funding and production info.

    Attachment

  10. Thanks Stuart,

    Cam West

  11. Another thing about the 2003 Jordan Kelly movie – the role of Premier Berry was played by Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell. He just happens to be the narrator of the front half of Ian Jones’ 2008 DVD, “The story of Ned Kelly”, of which the publisher gushes: “Narrated by Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell and introduced by Ian Jones, an eminent Kelly historian and author, ‘The Story of Ned Kelly’ takes you on an exciting journey through the events of Ned Kelly’s life and the country that shaped it”. Needless to say Jones’ highly selective version of history is big on his bullshit Kelly republic theory, and the evil machinations of Fitzpatrick together with just about every other policeman connected with the Kelly story. So it seems we have a heavy Jones influence percolating through the 2003 Jordanian historical monstrosity. I say, I say, I say, wot’s all this then? Smells like fairy dust.

    The redoubtable Tingwell also narrated the utterly dreadful 1951 movie, “The Glenrowan Affair”, directed by Rupert Kathner. Wikipedia quotes the Sun-Herald review as saying, “This near-unendurable stretch of laboured, amateurish film-making is something that the developing Australian film industry will wish to forget-swiftly and finally… A film made on a shoe-string (as this obviously was) could still achieve a little crude vitality. This one isn’t even robust enough for the unconscious humour (and there is plenty of that) to be really enjoyable. The script is dreary, the photography more often out of-focus than in, the editing is unimaginative and the acting petrified. It would be misplaced kindness, in fact, to try and ferret out a redeeming feature.”

    So yet another fail for wannabe Kelly films. The only early one of note is the 1906 feature film, notable mostly for being pretty much a world first length-wise (rather than for its content) of which only about 17 minutes remain. The only significant modern Kelly film is Ben Head’s recent and brilliantly filmed “Stringybark”, which provided the first ever accurate historical re-enactment of what went down at Stringybark Creek; and it’s not pretty. Hopefully it will get a run on TV if any of the major channels can get their heads out of their backsides for five minutes and support decent contemporary content instead of more idiotic myth recycling.

  12. Stuart – Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell is also in ‘The Castle’ which Channel 9 is flogging for the umpteenth time tonight! ‘The Castle’ is a bit of a classic. But haven’t spotted Bud yet!

    Ian MacFarlane

  13. In 1941, aged 18, Tingwell volunteered for war service overseas with the Royal Australian Air Force. Under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, personnel from Commonwealth air forces formed part of a joint training and assignment system. Consequently, Tingwell trained as a pilot in Canada during 1942. Despite damaging a Harvard training aircraft in August, he later qualified as a pilot and was commissioned as a pilot officer that December. He was posted to the Mediterranean Theatre and underwent operational training with No. 74 Operational Training Unit RAF, in British Palestine, and qualified to fly the Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire.

    Can’t have been an altogether bad bloke. Later became an actor. That was a bad move Bud, who is deceased and missed by many…

    Ian MacFarlane

  14. Bud turned out to be the star of the pic by being the fellow who as a lawyer won the High Court case.

    Wonderful stuff!

    Ian MacFarlane

  15. Sounds great! My favourite WW2 legend is Douglas Bader, but there were many more who did amazing things

  16. Four police have been killed in a multi-vehicle crash on Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway in the single largest loss of police life in one incident in the state’s history.

    The journo’s get the Ned Kelly angle but not the major revelations contained on this site.

    Cam West

  17. Stuart, Douglas Bader came as a visitor to my school in Scotland. Impressed to see him moving round easily on fake legs.

    Much later, here, I was in a room with four Australian VCs. An exceptional experience. They were overpowering presences. Hope later VC Ben Roberts-Smith is cleared soon. War is not pillow fights.

    Ian MacFarlane

  18. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

    In addition to Ned’s comments at Glenrowan where, in a what he thought were his last moments, he confessed to being present at 11 Mile creek and shooting at Fitzpatrick, why don’t people make more of McIntyre’s memoir on hits point?

    At Stringybark Creek McIntyre recounts that Ned said:

    “‘That fellow Fitzpatrick is the cause of all this, for those people lagged at Beechworth the other day [Williamson and Skillion] no more had revolvers in their hands than you have now, in fact they were not there at all these are the men who were there’, nodding towards his mates” [Dan Kelly, Joe Byrne, Steve Hart].

    Now obviously Williamson was there and Skillion maybe, but this statement does probably fit with Dan and Joe [‘Billy King’] being there (though not Hart).

    Far as I can see Ned, while protecting Bricky and Skillion and also trying to scare McIntyre, basically opened up to McIntyre on what went down.

    1. Ned Kelly told McIntyre a version of what happened during the Fitzpatrick incident while he had McIntyre captive at SBC, and McIntyre relayed that in his memoir. This doesn’t make that version any more reliable than any other of Kelly’s several versions. It all depends on what else can corroborate this version. Williamson’s statement helps.

  19. I’m hopelessly out of my league here but I have recently read the second progress report of the Royal Commission. In the report they the quote Acting Commissioner of Police labeling Fitzpatrick a liar and a larrikin. In a previous comment Stuart said that Ian Jones labeled him as such as well. Perhaps this is where Ian Jones got it from?

    Lots of other interesting things mentioned in the progress report (but I will stick with the topic of Fitzpatrick). Is anyone familiar with it? I assume it is basically a summary of the Royal Commission findings and a lot easier to read.

    David. Do you have any information on Whitty? I’ve always found him interesting and would love to read more information on him before and after NK.

    1. Hi Neal, the quote in the RC is from a memo by Chomley of 23 June 1881. I have attached a photo, as it is not online. I had to go in and photograph it. The VPRO catalogue reference is VPRS 3991, PO Unit 1257, Item 81. Chomley had it in for Fitzpatrick but went too far in this one. His comment was based on hearsay gathered after the Kelly saga when Fitzpatrick’s reputation had been trashed in the press, and Chomley’s nose was not the only nose put out by Fitzpatrick’s absence from some duty in NSW which was seen as bringing the Victorian police into disrepute. Poor upper brass – didn’t turn out too well for them in the RC, however.

      I examined this and the rest of the documents concerning Fitzpatrick in my article “Redeeming Fitzpatrick” which you can download from Bill’s ironicon website or from Academia.com along with my other articles. It used to be a download from Monash but they have completely fucked up their Arts website now for finding anything other than far left postmodern and cultural Marxist shit. About the only research getting done in Monash Arts nowadays is gender studies, LOL. A bunch of pussies if you ask me; most of them wouldn’t know evidence-based historical research if it got up and bit them. That’s all mostly dead now, and they’ve replaced academic navel gazing with gazing a bit lower. But I digress…

      There is also a very interesting article about Whitty on Bill’s site, “The case for Whitty”. The Whittys were selectors not squatters, another thing Jonesy misrepresented. Doug Morrissey also discusses this in his “Selectors, Squatters and Stock Thieves” book. Enjoy!

      Attachment

  20. Hi Stuart. Thanks for the reply and the reading recommendations. I will definitely be checking them out. Appreciate the trouble you went to with with the attachment also. Neal

    1. Thanks Neal, enjoy this one too (same VPRS file reference number), James Lockwood JP’s letter to the Premier asking him to reinstate Fitzpatrick. Jonsey didn’t bother to discuss this, the fact-twisting scoundrel…

      Jones built an elaborately fabricated lie in chapter 7 of his Short Life largely through lying by omission. It’s all the things he omitted that lend his fiction credibility. Once you hunt down the facts – hard work when he avoids referencing anything that contradicts his narrative so you have to do the sleuthing yourself – a whole different picture of Fitzpatrick and the Kelly story emerges. On top of that, he massively lied about Fitzpatrick’s Record of Conduct and Service, both by selective omission and by deliberately shuffling the date order of Record of Service entries to present a manipulated picture of Fitzpatrick. I discussed this in my article.

      You can get a scan of Fitzpatrick’s Record of Service by sending a nice email to the Victoria Police Museum and requesting it. Because most people don’t look beyond what the guru wrote, they have no idea how selectively he presented history. One quite different version is Grantlee Kieza’s “Mrs Kelly” book. It is probably the best referenced book for exposing the Kelly clan’s constant criminality in an easily readable narrative. IMO he gives too much sympathetic weight to Mrs Kelly as a victim of circumstance and not enough to her being actively in the thick of much of what happened. But as an alternative read with many references unmentioned by Jonesy it is a useful book for chasing down alternative source material.

      Pirate Pete’s Kelly book on the other hand regurgitated the republic nonsense Jonesy dished out, and disregarded Ian MacFarlane’s “Kelly Gang Unmasked” book on Jonesy’s advice (as Pete told David in person, as David said on this blog), doing himself (and Australian history) an immense disservice. The Kelly Gang Unmasked is a meticulously referenced critique of much of what has been written about the Kelly gang – a thematic rather than chronological investigation – and very wide ranging in exposing the nonsense mythmaking of Jonesy and others. And I would be remiss if I didn’t give my free Republic Myth book another plug – download from the link at the top of this web page, and feel free to email it on to anyone interested. Last, you should be able to find the whole RC Minutes of Evidence online as a free download. I can’t remember where I found it online, but it’s there.

      Attachment

  21. Awesome! Thanks again Stuart. I must admit my general opinion is that I view myself as somewhat of a Sympathiser. But ideally I’d like to know the truth as much as my enthusiasm and amateur sleuthing ability allows me. My opinions are heavily influenced by Ian Jones as they were the books I found first. I did attempt to read Ian MacFarlane’s book when it originally came out but it went so much against the grain with what I had read previously I couldn’t finish it. How was his conclusions so different from the other books I had read? Online I went and was shocked by the frequent disagreements between either side of the argument. At the end of the day Ned Kelly shot and killed 3 policeman. Self defense or otherwise. Hero or villain. Its a unique Australian story.

    1. Thats a very honest comment from you Neal, and one that shows you to be one of the very few ‘sympathisers’ who are at least willing to take a second look at the Jones version. You would have to agree I think that the Jones version is now past its use-by-date.

      What I think is very telling is the fact that in Jones time Kelly studies by a number of genuine academics were taken seriously but nowadays, apart from Stuart no serious academic wants to go anywhere near the story. There is simply NO serious intellectual argument being offered ANYWHERE in support of the Jones / sympathiser version any more.

      And Stuart can I ask if you can enlighten us on what exactly Chomley was referring to when he mentioned Rockwood and Meredith and other places? Are they just towns where Chomley heard anti-Fitzpatrick gossip? Its quite extraordinary that not a single document exists in support of his and Mayes assessments of Fitzpatrick that resulted in his dismissal. That might be one reason why no review was undertaken becasue if it was, the Police who dismissed him would have struggled to justify it, and may these;ves ended up in trouble – as many did in the end, thanks to the RC who by contrast, didnt offer any serious reprimand of Fitzptricks role in it all.

      1. Hi Neal and David, I have a good friend who is a Kelly sympathiser, no problem. I am not in any camp sympathiser or otherwise. I try to look at history objectively and understand what happened about problems that I find interesting. I had never paid any attention to Ned Kelly until about 8 years ago and only got interested because I read some stuff about Ned Kelly being allegedly a republican advocate and it just looked nonsensical. None of Ian Jones’ view made sense – I had spent a couple of years looking at nineteenth century mechanics’ institutes and colonial democracy, and Ned was not even a footnote in relation to politics. I started reading about it and it made less and less sense – just bad oral history, poor and wonky referencing, and a lot of fantasy. After about 6 months I realised that Jones’ views dated back to his 1967 Man and Myth paper (New View of NK) which was full of holes; and that he blamed the whole Kelly outbreak rather weirdly on Fitzpatrick’s attempt to arrest Dan Kelly in April 1878 for nicking horses. So some small time horse thief inspired a republic movement? Smelt like hum… And his Fitzpatrick story was totally illogical, just some rubbish Kelly wrote to excuse himself and deny he was there.

        That led to looking into the Fitzpatrick incident as first base; then after that, to the republic nonsense. The whole thing is a house of cards. Hence my Fitzpatrick article and eventual Republic debunking book. The exciting thing is historical myth busting. There is a possibility that if we go back into the source documents we might be able to piece together what happened -if there is enough evidence – and why and how it happened. It’s really just puzzle solving. Some can be solved, others can’t. And some people’s solutions or narratives are wildly wrong at least in places, and need sorting out. Otherwise we can’t understand our own history, when really we should be able to as much as reasonably possible.

        Anyway, what Chomley said in his memo on Fitzpatrick is “I have heard this man spoken about at Rokewood, Meredith and other places where he was known before he joined the service, and I have always heard him described as a liar and a larrikin and great astonishment was expressed that such a man was ever allowed to join the force”. Chomley wrote this in June 1881. Fitzpatrick’s name was mud with senior police after his time in Sydney in 1879, after which he was sent to Lancefield under the disciplinarian Constable Mayes, who had it in for him. He was however respected enough by the citizens of Lancefield for two petitions by respectable citizens to be got up in favour of his reinstatement in the force after his dismissal; one being presented by MP Alfred Deakin. He had no chance, of course – the top brass wanted him gone for bringing the Victoria Police reputation into “disrepute” while in NSW and that was that. The point is, by the time Chomley heard Fitzpatrick spoken about negatively, his reputation had been publicly tattered by negative rumours dating back to widespread publicity of Ned Kelly’s negative tales about him in newspapers for a couple of years, and again in 1880 once Ned was captured; especially the stuff written by his solicitor in August 1880 – the “blameless life” article especially, and the hokum about persecution. Rokewood and Meredith are both up north of Geelong as you head towards Ballarat. Possibly they were places Fitzpatrick worked as a travelling salesman or whatever after he left the force. He said in the interview with Cookson (1911) that he had a hard time as his reputation was greatly damaged by widespread falsehoods. So probably Chomley heard that from people who heard bad stuff about him. Who knows; but we can reliably reconstruct what happened in April 1878 – the Fitzpatrick Incident, and go from there.

  22. Hi David,

    I don’t agree that Ian Jones version is past its use-by date at all. Sorry if I gave you that impression. I was typing this at work today and probably didn’t express myself very well.

    My impression is that he received a lot of his information from descendants so that would be why his views are the way they are? Historical documents could be open to interpretation as well? Not being an experienced researcher I don’t actually know. Hence why I am here. Trying to form my own opinion.

    I met Ian Jones once in the main street of Beechworth. 2011 I think. Lovely fellow. I interrupted him having a coffee with a mate and asked if he would sign one of his books. He was very interested to know how I viewed the story and where my travels were taking me. When I told him I had been to the homestead at Greta he took me a bit more seriously and offered guidance on the Woolshed and where things were. I had my 3 year old with me and he was wonderful with him as well.

    I couldn’t see him deliberately misleading people through a personal agenda. Personal opinion, maybe. But I believe the conclusions he came to where what he genuinely believed from his research.

    Happy to be proven wrong.

    1. So Neal you don’t accept the Jones version of say the SBC murders, of Fitzpatrick, of Glenrowan and the Republic have been weakened to the point of no longer being sustainable, by the modern scholarship of MacFarlane Dawson Kieza and Morissey?

      Reading all these authors myself leaves me in no doubt.

      But your personal story about meeting Jones is so interesting because it seems what happened to you happened to almost everyone who met him – they ended up a sworn convert such was the personal charisma of the man. Our mate Mark is exactly the same. People seem to end up with a sense of such intense loyalty and commitment to Jones they feel unable to let go of his theories without feeling they’re somehow betraying him.

      I never met him so that’s never been an issue for me.

  23. By the way Neal I’ve never doubted that Jones believed that what he was promoting was true. He was most sincere and genuine in his beliefs, of that I have no doubt but sincerity and honest conviction don’t render claims true – what makes them true are the full facts and reason.

    The authors I mentioned above have revealed many facts Jones ignored or was unaware of , and that’s why his explanation needed to be re-examined.

    The result of such re-examination was that many of Jones claims about the outbreak were found to be mistaken. His view of the outbreak and of Ned Kelly as hero is no longer sustainable as history.

    That doesn’t mean that some people won’t still believe the old myths of course but in my opinion they do so in ways that have parallels with believers in a flat earth: they cling to an unscientific view of the universe that was once reasonable but no longer is. This presupposes an acceptance of the value of facts reason and logic.

  24. Ned may well have been the only one to fire at Lonigan, but the whole gang fired at Scanlon and Kennedy thereafter.

    According to McIntyre: “Dan Kelly carried a single-barrelled fowling-piece, an old cheap gun of common bore. I don’t know what it was loaded with. I can’t say if there was anything in it except powder. I did not see him fire, but I heard him discharge it, and then saw the smoke curling up from his barrel. I saw smoke issuing from the guns held by each of the four men. I could not say what object Dan Kelly fired at. I can’t swear that he fired more than once. I bellieve it was a double-barrelled gun that Hart carried. It appeared to be an ordinary sporting gun. I did not see him fire, but heard a report from where he stood. When they advanced and fired on Kennedy they were about 20 yards distant. I don’t know how Hart’s gun was loaded. Byrne had an old-fashioned gun, with a larger bore than any of the others. I saw the prisoner Edward Kelly discharge that gun at Kennedy. That was when he missed Kennedy. The gun that was loaded with bullets by the prisoner in my presence was the one used latterly by Byrne. I won’t swear that the prisoner fired at Scanlan, but I saw him point his gun at Scanlan and heard his gun go off. Kennedy’s dismounting from his horse and the shooting of Scanlan were almost simultaneous. I heard three shots together, and one immediately afterwards. Scanlan at the same time fell. I now saw that we were all to be shot. I immediately seized the opportunity to escape. I have never seen any of the guns used at the murders since”. [KGU, p. 113]

    The later murder of Aaron Sherritt in June 1880 also involved a shotgun loaded with bullets.

    “Aaron’s mother-in-law said Joe Byrne had used a double-barrelled shotgun. It was loaded with bullets rather than pellets, which caused catastrophic wounds. Dan Kelly had only contributed a low-key but eerie presence at the crime scene but, under the law, was just as guilty of murder as Joe”.[KGU, p.102]

    Ian MacFarlane

  25. I was frequently in the same room as Ian Jones at auctions of Kelly memorabilia. Pity I didn’t have a chat. But he was certainly a genial person…

    Ian MacFarlane

    1. So what did you buy at the Auctions Ian?

      Youre not hiding the Declaration from us all are you?

  26. Hi Neal, Ian MacFarlane’s book is a thematic study fully referenced from extensive historical and archival research conducted over a couple of decades. Ian Jones’ books are selectively referenced narratives built around and attempting to substantiate the socialist egalitarian views of Ned Kelly propounded by Kenneally 1939 and Brown 1948 with a helping of lifelong communist academic historian Russell Ward. I have no idea how much Jones was aware of their political perspectives and how it shaped their writing, but it comes out fairly clearly in their introductions. Molony was also an academic lefty like so many others on their own well paid perches. I am very middle of the road and critical of ideologically slanted history, preferring broadly based research that tries to find and consider every locatable source of information on a given topic before forming an opinion, and being happy to do u-turns when I find evidence that contradicts my earlier view rather than – like Jones especially – trying to explain it away.

    I wrote the Metcalf article specifically to demonstrate how Jones wilfully manipulated and selectively distorted historical evidence to push his line that Metcalf’s death was the fault of the police – the same line taken by Brown – against clear and direct historical evidence to the contrary. Plus it was fun busting another myth. You can see how Jones wrote his work if you look at the bit of the Short Life manuscript in the display case in the Kelly Museum Beechworth. The narrative is typed out first then the references that support it are written in pen to later be typed into the reference section at the back. Obviously he would have done a lot of reading first before starting writing, but there is throughout his work a curious absence of references that contradict his narrative, or they are explained away in the reference notes, often by referring to his other book. But when you go there the same problem arises in reverse. You can see this most obviously in his discussion of the republic, built on air and oral “history” which turned out in turn to be built on a 1900 magazine joke.

    Molony like Jones relied heavily on oral history for his republic nonsense, and it is so funny that the main source for both of them – to whom he fed contradictory tales – told at least two others that he had deliberately told them nonsense to make fools of them, but unfortunately it backfired and they believed it. Hook line and sinker… And because they are seen as authorities the fiction continued (and continues) to this day. Also, Molony never claimed to be writing an objective history. His claim In the intro is that he wrote a history as Kelly would have written it, hence it’s original title “I am Ned Kelly”. (Chortles quietly.)

    The Ned nuts have been in charge of the asylum since 1929. It is long overdue for an overhaul. David’s blog here has a lot of discussion over several years in which much questioning of myths has gone on, and to which it’s been fun to occasionally contribute. But as you have seen, everyone who posts here is abused online by a circle of a couple of dozen Kelly nuts elsewhere on the internet. I don’t waste my time looking at any of them. The factual knowledge is in the old newspapers, records and archives often online – Trove and VPRO in particular, but also Police Museum, SLV, some Melb Uni online archives like the Hare papers. People’s bibliographies are a great way to track sources down, but then you need to look at the sources to see whether the person you’re reading has selectively quoted from them, which is unfortunately common. All my quotes are quoted in context from their source documents as are Ian’s and Morrissey’s and some others. That’s why our stuff reads so differently from Jones’s still dominant narrative. But the tide is slowly turning as we have seen. I expect it will eventually look more like the way Ned and the gang were seen in their day, not heroes at all. Now wouldn’t that be a surprise…

  27. Hello Gentlemen.

    Lots of information being thrown at me! I’ll try and keep up!

    Firstly David. Re: Ian Jones view being weakened. Respectfully, and I’ve said this before, I really think you are pushing shit uphill. Which is not to say that your views are incorrect (I’m not saying they are correct either). I just think that Ned Kelly, rightly or wrongly, is revered by many more Australians than you realise. I also think that a majority of those have no more of an idea of the story than him putting a bucket on his head and “sticking it” to the authorities. Plain and simple. A couple of years ago I went to the State Library of Victoria to view the armour. First time I have ever been there. There just so happened to be a tour of the Library focusing on Ned Kelly. The tour guide, a volunteer, told the story of Ned to the group with ALL of your favourite stories. Fitzpatrick’s clumsy arrest without warrant, heroic Ned saving young Shelton from a tidal wave……..ok I made up the tidal bit. Local police being worse than some of the criminals they were arresting, Ned Kelly humanely shooting Kennedy, the Republic, all of your favourites! All of that being presented as fact in the government funded State Library with a statue of some old bloke out the front with bird poo all over him. What was his name again?!?!? Barry someone. You would have enjoyed it! It brought a smirk to my face! I’m possibly being facetious there. But surely that story astounds you. If those 20 people didn’t know the story before hand(no one challenged him) they have a very high opinion of him now.

    As I said, I’m hopelessly out of my league. I’ve read a few books. Some of them twice. Perhaps I should read the ones Stuart recommended again. David, you mentioned my “honest comment”. I took that as a compliment. I assume it was meant that way. I’m not aggressive. I’m curious. I respect others until they disrespect me. But even then, I’m not very aggressive. I’ll just remove myself from the situation. Specifically with the online tit for tat. There’s bigger things in the world to be passionate about than arguing a Bushranger or Policeman’s intentions from 140+ years ago. I enjoy your posts, when they stick to the point. Play the ball and not the man(I am in cliche heaven right now). It sucks that cyber bullying is alive and well in these discussions. I’ve never experienced it really. One little issue with a passionate Ian MacFarlane fan and a book review. But I haven’t had it from the Pro-Kelly side either. I’m my own man. I’ll make my own mind up. I’ll talk to anyone, so long as they are polite and respectful and informative. Am I pissing in anyone’s pocket? Definitely not. Again. Just being polite and respectful. I remind myself that I may well be talking to a Kelly descendant, or a Kennedy descendant. If I was in their position would I be protective of my ancestor? Absolutely!! Even to a fault.

    Stuart, I appreciate the information posted. Just confirms in my mind that I’ll never write an historical biography! Crikey! But I do enjoy the discovery. I used trove once to find out my Grandfather injured himself cutting cane in FNQ once upon a time. My elderly mother could not believe it when I showed her the newspaper article.

    Did Ian quote his own book in his post? Does Peter Fitzsimons do the same thing?!? I suppose its no different to Stuart mentioning his articles. It just found humour in it for some reason.

    Anyway. Waffling on. I appreciate everyone’s polite(and informative) responses.

    Neal.

  28. Hi Neal, I think you’re right about much of the focus nowadays being on bucket head sticking it to the authorities at Glenrowan. Our Aussie larrikin streak as it were. But did he? How long was his last stand, for instance? Not the half hour of glory in Jones’ narrative, taken from one excited journalist, but a bit less than 10 minutes, taken from timing points in the Royal Commission minutes. Did he pass through the police line 3 times undetected as Jones held from 1967 onwards? No, he never passed through it at all. He got out of the Inn shortly before it was surrounded if sparsely by police half an hour or so into the siege, and came back around dawn to try and get his mates out for a last stand, not realising that Joe was dead. Was it gutsy? Yes. Was it heroic, or just desperate? Desperate – no other option. Was it suicide by cop? No. Work in progress, partly covered in my republic myth book. Anyway all my stuff is free, so it’s not like I’m shilling for a shilling …

    1. Hi Stuart. I’ve been trying to locate Judith Douthie’s book about the siege. I have it somewhere. Would it be safe to say he stuck it to the authorities for the time he was outlawed? That he embarrassed both the NSW and Victorian Police? I would say that was fair.

      As far as the last stand. I can’t see how he could possibly have lasted that long either. Even 10 minutes seems optimistic with the cumbersome armour and blood loss. I’d say he was returning out of loyalty to his brother but he was disgusted that they didn’t come out of the hotel when given the opportunity and quickly changed his tune. Was he desperate? Would he not have encouraged Jim Kelly, Tom Lloyd, Wild Wright etc to join the skirmish if he was? It would have been selfish, in my opinion, if he had done so. Gutsy?! Bold?! Foolhardy?!As game as……..and into Australian Folklore.

      Neal

      1. Hi Neal, it’s work in progress. My 1 pager, “How long was Ned Kelly’s last stand” is a PDF download on Academia.com
        Re any alleged band of armed sympathisers, all tosh, addressed in the republic myth book.
        I’m working on something else for publication at present and will get back to this around the end of the year if all goes well.
        I don’t claim to have answers before I’ve had a good look at things, so it’s more questions than anything for now.

        Searching Trove Newspapers for the phrase “As game as Ned Kelly” a year or two ago produced nothing in the nineteenth century, the bulk of mentions were both relatively sparse and clustered between the 1920s and the late 1950s as I recall. Then they rapidly decline and pretty much disappear from around 1990. So the claim that “As game as NK” is a great Australian saying – as a number of Kelly books echo – is another but of fancy, simply not true.

  29. David, you say “Building his mother a new cottage is the only recorded tangible support Ned Kelly ever gave his mother” – but it also benefited Ned and Dan as better accommodation than they had before when home.

    Cam West

  30. Ned’s empty boast “that he was never convicted of horse stealing” is partly correct. He was convicted at Beechworth of receiving a stolen horse and sentenced to three years with hard labour in Melbourne. Instead of serving the whole time at Pentridge Gaol, he was worked as a labourer in 1873 at Williamstown at a well-known, prominent place that still exists today.

    Horrie and Alf

    1. Ned wasn’t much of a Success at Williamstown however. Hulk hogan would have had him for dinner. It is doubtful that he learned any stonemasonry there. More likely breaking stones for road gravel, a common prisoner labour task along with picking oakum. Perhaps at Williamstown the latter? Just asking…

  31. Kelly devotees, like that prominent ambulance chaser at Williamstown, came to believe Ned was an AFL champ there on Saturday arvos. What a lot of rot! He was probably scrubbing something in his convict barracks.

    Even Kelly fans will be mighty surprised when they find out where he laboured in Williamstown…

    Horrie and Alf

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