Next week it will be 142 years since the Kelly gang murdered policemen Lonigan, Scanlan and Kennedy at Stringybark creek, an appalling criminal act that horrified and shocked the colony. Ned Kelly claimed to have killed Lonigan in self-defence but now we know that was a lie: Lonigan was shot while out in the open within a few seconds of the order to ‘Bail up”. No warning shot, just a murderous blast of a quartered bullet that struck Lonigan in four places at once, killing him almost immediately. Horrific!


This is how Kennedys murder was regarded 142 years ago:

“The cold-blooded murder of the brave but ill-fated Kennedy when, wounded and hopeless of surviving, he pleaded to be allowed to live to bid farewell to his wife and children, is one of the darkest stains upon the career of the outlaws. It was cruel wanton and inhuman and should of itself apart from other crimes brand the name if his murderer, the leader of the gang with infamy”

These days, in the sympathiser circles where Ned Kelly is admired, the shock and horror that normal people feel when they learn about these murders has almost completely gone, and instead Kelly sympathisers blame the victims.  These days, Kelly sympathiser Facebook page moderators almost never object let alone try to correct it if someone writes that the police got what they deserved, that the police died in a fair fight, that they were armed to the teeth and were planning to murder the Kellys if they found them, that the police were crooks as bad as the Kellys, that they were mercenaries on the books of wealthy squatters, that they were in disguise, that they bought ‘body bags’ or ‘body straps’. Such comments are more likely to receive enthusiastic “Likes” than be recognised and dismissed as the sickening untruths and vilifications that they are.All of those claims are false.


But such is the state of their denial that Kelly sympathisers fill not just Facebook pages but entire rooms with images of this killer. Declaring their respect and admiration, even their love for him – yes, their LOVE for Ned Kelly – they compare tattoos and collections of Kelly memorabilia, repost images of their pilgrim-like tours of Kelly country, defend Kelly at every opportunity and usually kick out of their forums anyone who dares challenge them. Now and again you will read on the anniversary of this horror pious expressions of sympathy for the murdered policemen and for their widows and the children who lost their fathers, but usually in the same breath it will be solemnly announced that the gang members and their families also suffered, as if there is some sort of moral equivalence between the two parties. In fact, at Stringybark Creek, and at Glenrowan there weren’t morally equivalent people on both sides – there were policeman on one side and a gang of violent thugs and murderers on the other.


I’ve been asking myself lately how it is that the normal human reactions of shock and horror, of outrage at such extreme acts of senseless violence that enveloped the communities of the 19th century have been so dulled over the years that in the 21st century otherwise sane and reasonable human beings end up being admirers of the killer. The same puzzlement is induced by meditating on what Kelly planned for Glenrowan: an even greater mass murder that if carried out would undoubtedly have resulted in its perpetrator being remembered only as one of the world’s greatest and maddest mass killers. The plan – whether enacted or not – revealed what was in Ned Kellys heart, the true character of the man. What the plan revealed was something horrible and frightfully violent, and Kellys condemnation shouldn’t  be lessened by his failure to enact it :  Ned Kelly strove as mightily as he could, and was even willing to sacrifice the lives of innocent men women and children to bring it to pass. This is an undeniable fact!


However for the past 50 years Kelly sympathisers and admirers, following the lead of Ian Jones who championed Kellys cause, have said that these murders and planned atrocities were justified because Kelly was a political activist for a higher cause, that he was making a stand against authoritarian oppression and harassment, that he was engaged in a fight to establish a republic of NE Victoria.


But times have changed. There is not ONE SINGLE SCRAP of evidence that prior to the SBC murders Kelly was engaged in anything other than a life of crime centred on what Kelly himself called “wholesale and retail cattle and horse dealing”. It was in attempting to evade an arrest for horse theft that a policeman was shot and wounded, and in attempting to avoid being arrested for that incident, three other policemen were shot and killed at SBC – not the slightest hint of anything to do with politics or a republic or anything other than escaping from the Law.

Following the SBC atrocity the Kelly gang was on the run and survival was their only motivation. Jones claim that Kelly was a political activist with republic on his mind has been discredited by more recent scholarship, a finding which sympathisers are already beginning to accept, as demonstrated by prominent Kelly sympathiser and author Aidan Phelan who  makes no mention of a republic in his recently self-published historical fiction, “Glenrowan”, universally praised by sympathisers who have read it.


According to Ian Jones without such a noble motivation as a republic, what was planned for Glenrowan was reduced to a “criminal atrocity of monstrous proportions ” – and he was right.


So sympathisers, now that the Republic has gone and there is no higher cause to justify Ned Kellys murderous behaviour, how can you continue to admire and idolise the criminal who murdered at Stringybark Creek and who planned this monstrosity at Glenrowan – you no longer have an excuse! What the hell is wrong with you that the cowardly criminal murders of  Lonigan Scanlan and Kennedy – and lets not overlook poor Aaron Sherritt – and the criminal monstrosity planned for Glenrowan aren’t sufficiently ghastly for you to reconsider your admiration for the Kelly Gang and Ned Kelly in particular?

(Visited 1,735 times)


  1. Hi David, I think this swing towards seeing Kelly as a victim stems back to Kenneally’s 1929 Inner History of the Kelly Gang with its persecution theory that you have been exposing at length in this blog. In the process the victims of the Kelly outrages have been mostly written out of history. I’ve been reading the newspaper accounts of the taking over of Faithfull’s Creek homestead by the gang as their base for the Euroa bank robbery. They put their captive civilians through hell, but what Kelly fantasists relate is only selective extracts that seem to suggest the gang treated the innocent victims fairly.

    For example Kelly shoving his revolver into Tennant’s mouth when he was reluctant to open the homestead gate is not in most accounts. They talk about Kelly distributing silver coins from the robbery before they finally left, to those they had imprisoned during the course of events, but not to them taking watches and money from most of those they held in the store room at the time they marched them in.

    Most people who read a Kelly book have no idea of what the victims other than the SBC police went through. Reviewing that is a useful reminder of how the gang were seen in their day, and that so much of what is written completely ignores their victims, who are treated as incidental to the “poor Kelly” persecution narrative. What is clear from the papers of the day is that the Kelly gang and their mates were the persecutors, not the persecuted.

    1. Anonymous says: Reply

      Well if you want to know what the hell sympathizers who say police too were criminals working for the wealthy maybe you should consider the case of Fred Hampton, murdered in his sleep by FBI and Chicago police, or Eric Gardner, killed on Staten Island for essentially being suspected of sell an untaxed cigarette, or George Floyd who was killed for passing a counterfeit $20 he may not have known was counterfeit. Or Dialo who was shot 44 times for reaching for a wallet. Or the 9the precinct police in NY City who were killed by a group calling itself Black Liberation Army for selling herion in the black community. I am a law abiding citizen who has never been arrested for a felony and never convicted of a crime who has often been harassed by police for doing nothing more than exercising my right to protest. I have witnessed police brutality first hand and learned that police refuse all efforts to take reports of it or investigate it. It seems to me the only recourse people have against corrupt or brutal cops is to respond in kind, for government does little to help you, until recent cell phone recording technology has begun to change that.

      1. What planet are you on? What the hell does allegations of police impropriety in the US have to do with the matter of the murderous Ned Kelly?

  2. Today the 3 November was a special day for Ned Kelly, as he sat in his cell at the Melbourne Gaol waiting to hear whether his death sentence might be commuted to a term of imprisonment. His alleged first letter to the Governor of Victoria, on 1 November according to numerous Kelly books (including Baron’s “Blood in the Dust”, didn’t make much of an impression, mainly because it never existed. It was actually a letter written by Gaunson his solicitor back in August 1880 while he was in Beechworth gaol. How 50 years of Kelly writers got that wrong and continue to do so is another Kelly mystery. That’s the “blameless life” letter, for those trying to recall it. Not a condemned cell letter from November 1880.

    Today, four months later, he would try again. With Warder Kelly – a curious coincidence – taking dictation due to Ned’s wounded hand, he bumbled his way through a fanciful concoction of mistruths in a plea for leniency. He got off to a bad start with this gem of a statement early on:

    “Constable Fitzpatrick swore that I had no intention of shooting him, that we were intimate friends. According to his sworn evidence I neither murdered him, nor had any intention. Therefore I think there must have been a mistake in granting a warrant on this charge, and when the charge was proffered against me it was greatly to prejudice the jury, and as I did not actually commit the deed, and as there was no murder committed and no intention of doing such, therefore my mother, William Skillion and William Williamson could not be guilty of aiding and abetting.” So there.

    This alleged intimacy between Ned and Fitzpatrick would be briefly explored in all its naked detail in Justin Kurzel’s film, True History of the Kelly Gang. But back in the day, what Ned was trying to claim was that Fitzpatrick would have stood up for him; that – and he said this elsewhere – if Fitzpatrick had been called as a witness in Kelly’s trial, he would have defended him. This can only be described as seriously delusional.

    Ned’s next move is to say that according to Fitzpatrick’s sworn evidence he did not murder him. Obviously, as Fitzpatrick was still alive, ergo not dead, ergo there was no murder. Ned was so thick that he could not understand the charge was attempted murder. Murder was what he did at Stringybark Creek, not what he did on 15 April at the Kelly house. Then he claims that Fitzpatrick would say that Kelly did not even attempt to murder him. Kelly was firing at the roof, then? Well, not exactly; he was shooting at Fitzpatrick. That’s why the police went there the next day, to search for evidence, and found that some bark slats had been replaced with non-bullet-holed ones.

    Ned’s next manoeuvre, still in the same paragraph, is to say that as no murder was committed or intended, his mother and the others couldn’t have aided and abetted one. As we now know, however, Ned’s mother sent for him to assist in stopping the arrest of Dan Kelly. Once he arrived from the other hut and fired his revolver at Fitzpatrick, Mrs Kelly took a swing at him with a fire shovel. That’s aiding and abetting for sure.

    The next claim is patently idiotic. Ned says, “Nine respectable witnesses can prove William Skillion was not within miles of the place at the time.” OK Ned, but Skillion said he was present, dummy.

    Another genius statement is that “McIntyre says two men were in the open grass, one in the tent and one at the fire, these being in direct line in front of Kennedy and Scanlon. Therefore McIntyre told a falsehood by saying they were surrounded.” Poor Ned is not exactly a rocket scientist. OK Ned, two men pointing rifles at you is maybe not literally surrounding you, OK? We get it.

    The turgid piece drags on with several other ridiculous claims. One may concur with Redgum’s lyrics: “Poor Ned, you’re better off dead, at least you’ll get some peace of mind”.

    Ned finished up by dictating, “I have had to write this this morning to be in time for the Executive Council, but now as I have time, I will forward you a full statement of the facts from the beginning to the end.” Oh dear, there is more to come. And it will be dictated on the 5 November, just two days from now. The Executive Council can hardly wait.

  3. A petition was got up for Ned, with some 30,000 signatures, however many were written in the same hand.


  4. The bulky old hangman’s noose (as shown above) had been replaced by an efficient iron eyelet in time for Ned’s departure.

    Cam West

    1. The bulky old hangman’s noose was designed, so when properly aligned, it would snap the neck, killing the person instantly. The eyelet noose saw many a poor soul, being strangulated in agony for several minutes, or more weight added to the body to ensure the neck was broken, sometimes resulting in the removal of the head from the body. Hardly efficient or an improvement.

      Fair and Just.

      1. Britain’s Executioner recommended the iron eyelet to the colonials in 1880, based on his own experience with its deadly efficiency. The new noose still had to be placed behind the left ear (to break the neck) and the hangman still had to correctly calculate the prisoner’s weight for the length of the ‘drop’. You are right that calamities occurred. But they were far fewer than the centuries of constant mishaps with the rope noose. Melbourne’s first public execution in 1842 ended in horrific strangulation because the hangman messed up.

        Cam West

        1. Hi Cam, that 1880 recommendation in itself doesn’t indicate when it was adopted in Victoria. It’s not clear from the Australasian Sketcher’s scaffold scene whether a knot or slide was used, as the rope trails off on the floor to the right, out of the sketch. I can’t recall anything specific about whether a rope noose or slide noise was used. The hangman’s box at the OMG might or might not have signage that says when the slide noise was introduced there. Anyone know for sure which format was used for Ned?

          1. Anonymous says: Reply

            Quite so, Stuart. Victoria though was usually quick to adopt tech change. Dunno about the new noose… The 1880 detailed circular had drawings about its use. Historian Michael Cannon wrote a book about the early executioners. Perhaps the answer is there.

            Cam West

          2. Thanks Cam, I haven’t heard of Cannon’s book, I will try and find a library copy

          3. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

            Interesting discussion.

            My memory from visiting the OMG is that the metal eyelet was introduced in the 1890s (I remember thinking “oh about ten years after Ned’s hanging) but I can’t find any source for this.

            However, an online article I’ve found states this:

            “… If the rope was too short in relation to body weight, it would bruise and suffocate rather than breaking the neck. Too long, and the momentum of the drop was liable to pull the head clean off.

            A fine example of this theory in practice, comes from the execution of Colin Campbell Ross in 1922. Ross was a bar owner, convicted of the rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl. The hangman used a new four-strand rope, and the force of the drop did not prove sufficient to kill; instead, Ross was slowly strangled by the rope for more than forty minutes prior to death.

            Before long, the gaol switched from a conventional knotted noose to using leather tubing around the rope, which would slide effortlessly through a metal ring to tighten. The last execution held in the Old Melbourne Gaol was Angus Murray, who died here in 1924 on the same day that the gaol was finally closed.”


            If that’s true it means the MG only had 5 years where it used the metal ring, which in practice meant one single hanging.

            I’ve also had a look on youtube and can see the Old Melbourne Gaol has an exhibit / wooden plaque titled ‘The Hangman’s Box’ which states the leather tubing and metal ring set up was introduced in 1939.

            It in the below video at 3.47 minutes mark.


          4. Hi Thomas, thanks for that OMG video link, and yes it does look from the sign on the hangman’s box that the leather slide and ring noose was introduced in 1939, meaning that Ned would have swung 140 years ago today from a standard piece of rope tied with a hangman’s knot – of which there were a couple of variations, as seen in the display board in the Old Geelong Gaol.

            In that video at the 3:35 minute mark, there is a canvas prisoner hood from the “separate and silent system” of Kelly’s day, which prisoners had to wear when outside their cell to avoid facial recognition between prisoners. It is incorrectly subtitled by the video maker as a hangman’s mask. As we can see from the sketch of Ned on the scaffold, Upjohn was not masked. This was not a public execution regardless that there were witnesses, partly to ensure that justice was seen to be done.

        2. Thank you Thomas, that clears up some misconception be some here. The execution of Colin Campbell Ross, although horrific in itself, was a grave miscarriage of justice perpetrated by crooked cops. These police, who coerced witnesses and fabricated evidence when on to become some of the most senior and glorified in the Victorian police force. Not much different the Kelly’s day it would seem. Colin Campbell Ross was given a posthumous pardon by the Victorian government a couple of years ago, though not much of a consolation for the poor man.

          Fair and Just

    2. Anonymous says: Reply

      Thanks Thomas.
      Cam West

  5. Still a week to make sure Upjohn gets it right. If he can keep off the tours and away from the chickens it should be one of the most expeditious hangings seen at the Melbourne Gaol.

    1. That was keep off the turps, of course. Infernal iPhone autocorrect., doesn’t speak Australian like me, Ned Kelly and Alex Fitzpatrick.

      “one of the most expeditious executions ever performed in the Melbourne gaol”, Argus, 12 November 1880, p. 6.

  6. This day 5 November 1880, Ned dictated his second condemned cell letter to the Governor of Victoria, this time dressed as “a statement of facts of the Glenrowan affair.” He made unlikely start: he says he bailed up a lot of men in tents, Jones’ hotel, the stationmaster, some platelayers and an overseer, and ordered the rail workers to pull up the line so that he could capture the leaders of the police and write that if they sent any more Police he would shoot them, and that he intended to keep them prisoners till the release of his mother, Skillion and Williamson. Warder Evans must have tried hard to keep a straight face as he wrote down what was supposed to be another plea for clemency.

    Ned next said he varied his plans to bail up everyone that came along so as to rob a bank along the line. He claimed he never fired a shot when the police turned up at Jones’ hotel until after the third volley fired by the police. He admitted to owning the rifle and skull cap found by Constable Arthur. His statement makes one self-contradictory claim after another and is complete bollocks. He ends, “I should have made a statement of my whole career, but my time is so short on earth that I have to make the best of it and prepare myself for the other world.” There was not a word of regret or apology to his numerous victims.

    With all his professed concern for his mother who he continually claimed was wrongfully gaoled, it is remarkable that of the £2200 or so seized from Euroa in December 1878, not one penny was put towards a legal challenge to his mother’s gaol sentence, let alone the sentences of his mates Skillion and Williamson. He gave money to his sisters, who spent up on clothes, and to various sympathisers, mostly relatives, for protection on the run. He did nothing for his mother.

  7. Anonymous says: Reply

    The Meredith and Scott book Ned Kelly page 80 has the letter referred to by Stuart but does not infer it is a condemned Cell letter (these being of the 3rd 5th and 10th ) but identify the letter as of the 1st November dictated to David Gaunson 1 November and that the statement was allegedly taken down for David Gaunson, by an Age reporter.
    Where this statement was published is not given.
    Stuart you say the statement was made in August where did you find it?

  8. Hi Anonymous, please download my Republic Myth book from the top right of this web page, and read page 51, “The manufactured interview with Kelly in the Beechworth gaol”. It is explained very clearly with full referencing.

    To shortcut to the letter itself without reading the background and what was done with it later, you can read it in the Age, 9 August 1880, page 3, online in Trove.

    Meredith and Scott have the date wrong, and are also wrong about it being written down by an Age reporter for Gaunson. It was written by Gaunson himself. It’s all explained on one page in my free Kelly Republic Myth book.

  9. Anonymouse says: Reply

    The Age on the 9 August 1880 has an INTERVIEW WITH NED KELLY in which Ned replies to a question – You have said you were harshly and unjustly treated by the police, and that you were hounded down by them. Can you explain what you mean?
    So it was not actually a letter nor written by Gaunson (as Stuart says).
    The interview was done on the 8 August at 9.30 p.m. Page 3 of the Age.

    1. We are talking about the text that was later represented by many as a condemned cell letter, but was not. It’s not that difficult to follow.

  10. Anonymous says: Reply

    Dawson page 51 of his work uses the words in referring to the text of the interview with Ned that it was in fact composed by his solicitor David Gaunson and to substantiate this claim makes reference to the Ovens and Murray Advertisers story on page 4 november 13 paper which does not refer to the Ages story of the 9 August but only refers to the Age.
    My questiuons to Stuart is whether the whole Interview is made up by Gaunson and what evidence is there to say so other than the oma words which may be refering to other Gaunson stuff,

    implies that says .
    not 7!)4r Thanks for the info but I am

  11. Ovens and Murray Advertiser, 13 November 1880, 7, ‘It was bad enough that he [Gaunson] should have used his privilege as an attorney to put into the mouth of the illiterate outlaw the rigmarole of sentimental absurdity which subsequently appeared in the “Age.”‘

    We have solved the first problem, that the text in question is from August 1880 and not a condemned cell letter from 1 November 1880 as many have claimed. That in itself is enough for the point being made against those who wish to claim it as a November 1880 creation.

    And as a bonus we have a source of the day (O&M) dissing it . How much better can life get?

    The second problem is that apparently I have only managed to find one source of the day that takes Gaunson to task for putting into the mouth of the illiterate outlaw the rigmarole of sentimental absurdity that we have been discussing here. That’s one more source than exists for the entire Kelly Republic myth, so I don’t feel too bad about having only one piece of iron-clad concrete evidence. (That’s sort of like reinforced concrete only inside out, a bit like Kelly myths.) Next you’ll be telling me Ned’s last words were “Such is life”.

    1. Anonymous says: Reply

      Actually, his last words were “Life Sucks”!


  12. In his prison record Ned was five feet ten, of medium build with a sallow complexion. A runt with a chip on his shoulder.

  13. Anonymous says: Reply

    Anonymous needs to prove whether or not he or she is not seven! Hmnn!


  14. Anonymous says: Reply

    Stuart you didnt answer the question asked by anonymous – is all the words in the august article by Gaunson ?
    and how can you be sure that is what the Advertiser was refering to and not something else?
    and why would a reputable newspaper (I assume it was) publish what they too must have known was fake news?
    Hello Rebecca i’m actually 8 going on 80

    1. You guys need to do your own research instead of asking me to do it for you. See Ian Jones’ “Short Life” 2008: 363-4, read the source documents, and make up your own mind. I’m not here to provide a homework service.

  15. Anonymous says: Reply

    You’re the researcher. I dont have jones book. so what are the source documents that you refer to.
    Seems that jones got something useful for you to use at least hes not being bagged this time

    1. If you don’t have the 2008 edition of Jones’s Short Life, the “blameless life” text is discussed in the 2003 edition pages 265-6. It’s near the end of the chapter ‘A last fight in Beechworth’. Jones has set the narrative since his first 1995 edition. If you haven’t read and don’t have a copy of Jones SL you are wasting everyone’s time here. Borrow one through your local library or get one secondhand from eBay or gumtree. It’s the starting point for any Kelly research whatsoever.

      Only after you read Jones on a topic are you in a position to look into and read his source references and see how selectively he uses them. Then you have to read wider into the sources used by other Kelly writers such as Kieza and you’ll find a lot of stuff that isn’t in Jones. Then look online in Trove for other newspapers of the day in the same week and later on the Kelly gang, and into the online Victorian Public Records Office Kelly files, and you’ll become an expert on that topic. Repeat for each and every topic that interests you. The reward is understanding what actually happened and how it was perceived in it’s day, which is often very different from Jones’s narrative.

      There is no easy road to understanding. That’s why it took me over two years to research and write the Redeeming Fitzpatrick article, and another 5 years to write the Republic Myth book. Once you have an accurate historical understanding based on fact you can easily spot the distortions and myth-making that infests 2Oth century Kelly writing, most of which has been written by enthusiastic amateurs including Jones. He just told a better and persuasive narrative. To see that you have to do the spadework. Sorry, no shortcuts possible. After that, you are in a position to write historically accurate history without the BS.

      1. Further, I have already given you all the relevant references I found on this blameless life topic; on page 52 of my Republic Myth book. To this I have added the pages of Short Life where Jones discussed this. That’s all you need for this topic, I’ve given you everything except uploading photos of the texts. It’s up to you to see what you make of it all. You already know my opinion, and you know where to find Jones’s.

        The key difference between me and Jones is that Jones criticised the Advertiser by only giving a part quote re it’s ‘big language’ wording, while omitting the words most critical of Gaunson, that he “put into the mouth of the illiterate outlaw” etc. In other words, Jones leaves his readers ignorant of the main point of the Advertiser’s criticism of the Age. This sort of distortion appears all over his book. By not fairly presenting the evidence, because of his biased and selective quotes and representations, he has produced a powerful fiction instead of a factual history.

  16. Today 10 November Ned dictated the last of his 3 condemned cell letters, this time to Warder Buck, in which he takes the liberty of writing to the Governor of Victoria. According to Ned, the proof that he didn’t intend to kill any police in revenge of his mother being locked up is that he didn’t kill any police between April and October 1878 despite having the opportunity to do so. OK Ned.

    And when he did kill some – three in fact – it was all McIntyre’s fault: “Both for Kennedy’s and Scanlon’s deaths McIntyre is the man most accountable, because he told them a falsehood when he said they were surrounded”. If McIntyre hadn’t said that, but instead has just said that Ned had them covered, it would all have been OK, right? Kelly really was dumb as doggy doos.

    The next whopper is, “in the whole of our career we never ill-treated nor maltreated man, woman or child and always refrained from doing a cowardly act”. Come on, Ned, the papers of the day are a catalogue of scum-baggery to men, women and children, at Euroa, at Jerilderie, at Glenrowan, and at times on the roads, not to mention the constant threats against anyone aiding the police.

    Next we have “I can solemnly swear now before God and man that it never was my intention to take life”. What about having the tracks pulled up to derail a train? What about his statements that anyone on it, including crew, deserved to die? Kelly was a habitual liar, as his frequently contradictory stories show; and he is in full swing again in this letter.

    To end he claims, “I have been found guilty and condemned to death on a charge which, of all men in the world, I should be the last one to be guilty of”. That would be the murder of Lonigan, in which he shot Lonigan before Lonigan could draw his revolver. That’s why Punch magazine celebrated the death of Kelly the coward. C’est la vie.

  17. This day 140 years ago Ned Kelly was executed at the Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Constable Lonigan at Stringybark Creek on 26 October 1878. His last words were not ‘such is life’. He never said any coherent last words. That phrase was invented by a reporter. In fact, all Kelly managed to mumble was “Ah, well, I suppose”.

    For the analysis and explanation of how this came about, and of who witnessed his hanging, and what transpired, see my free journal article, “Ned Kelly’s Last Words”, available from Bill’s site and also from as below:


  18. ANONYMOUSE says: Reply

    Gaunson v the Age’s “Own Reporter”
    Was it Gaunson whose words are said to be those in the alleged interview with Ned Kelly reported in the Age 9 August or were they the Age’s reporter’s words?
    I would suggest the latter.
    The Age’s “Own Reporter” identifies himself in the Age of 5 August when reporting on the approaching trial of Ned Kelly where he says “I told her that I was in the special train” (when talking to Mrs Skillian).
    The Age’s reporter who covered the hearing and filed his transcript of it for publication has in an interview with Kelly (Age 7 August) used the words “Mr Gaunson had another interview with Ned Kelly to-night” clearly identifying himself as the writer of this story.
    Leading into the words of the interview being ascribed to Gaunson in the Age 9 August are the words “In my hurried telegram, despatched late on Friday night, by the substitution of one name for another”
    That is a correction by the Age’s reporter to his telegram.
    The words of the interview then follow immediately on from this correction.
    The Age’s John McWhirter was aboard the special train and would be the most likely creator of the interview words in the Age of 9 August and not as the OMA paper infers were the words of Gaunson.
    McWhirter was erudite and had done the first “Interview” appearing in the Age of the 7th; and the second “interview” of the 9th.
    Logically it was McWhirter and not Gaunson.

    1. Anonymous says: Reply


      The “blameless” speech was at Beechworth. The special train was at Glenrowan… Separate places, separate things.


      1. Hi Rebecca, let’s not confuse the poor dear with logic. Further, if this strange “anonymouse” would consult any of the papers of the day, he/she will soon see that “our own reporter” just as often meant a wire service report which “our own reporter” edited to fit the space requirements of whatever paper they worked in. That’s why there are similarities between so many different articles in various papers. They were edited copy from a paid wire service report which was sent all over the place. That’s also why papers all over the state and interstate – for example Tasmania – could have punctual reports about the Kelly goings on from “our reporter” who never left their office…

  19. Anonymous says: Reply

    Oh dear Rebecca.
    You need to read what was written by Anonymouse.
    At least you have the fact right that the special train went to Glenrowan.
    Read the post carefully – the reporter on that train was the Age’s McWhirter who identifies himself as being on that train in June in his article in the Age of the 5 AUGUST !!
    Duh indeed you dummy

    1. No. Anonymouse suggested that the reporter McWhirter was “most likely” the reporter who did a Kelly interview in Beechworth gaol. Now this other Anonymous (no “e”) has announced that it was McWhirter, no question.

      Both are wrong. No reporters were admitted to the gaol to interview Kelly. None. Orders were strictly no visitors. Gaunson had enough trouble getting in.

    2. Anonymous says: Reply

      Unfortunately Anonymouse and you have both written very poorly-expressed and confusing posts. You both should have explained there were TWO trains, and that Ned Kelly was on one of them.

      And don’t be so rude.


      1. Actually, I am grateful to Anonymouse and his buddy for raising the trains. There I found several references to Ned’s bad language. They are not in the pro Kelly books. Here is one:

        On arriving at the Newmarket station, Kelly, alighted, and it was found that in order to reach the train it would be necessary for him to walk across the line. This he refused to, stating that the Government were rich enough to pay for a conveyance for him. The police attempted to persuade him to go quietly, but he declined to move and was most insolent in his demeanour, the language he used besides being disgusting.


  20. The well-known claim that remanding a group of sympathisers for three and a half months at the start of 1879 caused great hardship, taking them away from their farms in the harvest season, sounds pretty cruel. At first. Until we have a look at the tabulated list of those remanded, in McQuilton’s “The Kelly Outbreak”, page 114.

    There were 23 men arrested. Of these, 6 were detained for between two and three weeks, then released. Not fatal to their farming.

    Another 7 were held for periods of between 5 and 7 weeks, and one for 9 weeks – not so good, but were they all selectors kept from their farming?.

    Of the rest, only 9 of the 23 were remanded for 15 weeks. Of these nine, 6 were not selectors. R. Strickland, J. Lloyd, Wild Wright, and D. and J. Clancy, were all members of the Geeta Mob, although M. Harvey was not. They were labourers or profession unknown – NOT selectors. They were not held from their farms while theitr families starved etc, etc.

    Francis Hearty was a selector – the one the whole struggling persecuted selectors story is built around. J. and P. Quinn don’t strike one as the hard working selector type.

    Another Kelly myth of persecuted selectors held for months exploded? Or just dented a bit?

  21. Anothermouse says: Reply

    Stuart you are quick to dismiss the Anonymouses rather well considered case that it was McWhirter who wrote the interviews.
    It is patently obvious to anybody reading the Age 5 August page 3 report in which the Own Reporter to whom the story is attributed states that “I told her that I was in the special train” etc.
    There is no other newspaper that my mouse team can find in which this statement appears so it is an original comment and your comment- as often meant a wire service report which “our own reporter” edited to fit the space requirements of whatever paper they worked in. That’s why there are similarities between so many different articles in various papers.
    holds no water in this instance.
    How can you be so sure that McWhirter did not obtain access to the gaol (perhaps with Gaunson accompanying him). Gaunson certainly got into the gaol – Age 7 August “took his seat on the prisoner’s bed”. is one example.
    Perhaps the words came from Mr Zincke who had an interview with Ned – Age 5 August.
    The Ovens and Murray Advertiser 13 August uses the words when saying Gaunson “put into the mouth of the illiterate outlaw the rigmarole of sentimental absurdity” which is claimed to have been the words of Gaunson.
    A Claim with no presented proof it was Gaunson.
    It would seem you don’t apply logical thinking to reasoned argument when it doesn’t suit your view.
    As for trains – TWO and Ned was on one of them has absolutely nothing to do with the contention of McWhirter being the author of the interviews.

    1. Anonymous says: Reply

      What part of Stuart’s pronouncement don’t you get?

      He wrote: No reporters were admitted to the gaol to interview Kelly. None. Orders were strictly no visitors. Gaunson had enough trouble getting in.

      Cam West

    2. Now we have Anothermouse… OK, please re-read the newspapers you are claiming to have read before commenting on this topic. Gaunson arrived at Beechworth on the last train on 5 August, was met at the station by Gaol Governor Williams, and interviewed Kelly from 12:30 till 1:15 that night, in the presence of Williams. (The Age.)

      On Friday 6 August Gaunson telegraphed the Chief Secretary’s office to ask that Kelly be allowed visitors, who he could not have at that time. The request was refused by telegram reply also on 6 August. Not to be put off, Gaunson telegraphed a second request the same day. His request that Kelly be allowed visitors was again refused by telegram on 7 August.

      This is in the Argus Monday 9 August 1880 page 6, which says, “On Saturday Mr. Gaunson telegraphed to the Chief Secretary, asking that the order forbidding anyone to see Kelly in prison should be cancelled. He received the following reply from Mr. W. H. Odgers, the under-secretary:—” The Chief Secretary declines to vary the order of his predecessor at the present time.”

      The telegrams are in VPRO, VPRS 4967 Unit 2 Item 50, online. No visitors.

      Then the Argus Tuesday 10 August 1880 page 7, “The report of an alleged interview between a reporter and Ned Kelly appears in to-day’s Age. Mr. Williams, the governor of the gaol, and Mr. Brett, the sheriff, state emphatically that no such interview took place. The only persons who have been allowed to see the prisoner in gaol are Mr. David Gaunson, his attorney, and a clergyman. The only reasonable deduction that can be drawn is that the report has been supplied by Mr. D. Gaunson, as it contains no fresh information, but consists of a repetition of the statements formerly made by Kelly.”

      The Blameless Life text was not written by an Age journalist sneaked in past the Governor and warders against the express orders of the Chief Secretary’s office. It never happened. Gaunson made it up. Get with the Argus where the real news is. (Mice jittering.)

  22. Anonymous says: Reply

    The Ovens and Murray Advertiser identified and criticised Gaunson as The Age’s reporter: ‘It was very clumsily managed, that interview business. They put too many big words into Ned’s mouth. There was too much of the big language used in Parliament in the supposed interview.’

    [KGU, p. 111

    Cam West

  23. Ian Jones’s work from 1967-8 onwards was an exercise in confirmation bias.

  24. Congratulations to everyone who has contributed to this really interesting thread. Several useful things have been explored and resolved :

    – the noose was a knot and not an eyelet,
    -the sympathisers that were locked up were not all selectors , most of them weren’t locked up for long and the effect on local farming was negligible ( as opposed to the Kelly myth that it was a devastation and everyone was locked up for months on end…) Something not mentioned that I think is also important in regard to this incident is that it was local people who raised concerns, not because they were Kelly sympathisers but because they believed in the rule of Law.
    – the ‘blameless life’ letter/Interview was NOT a Condemned cell letter written by Ned in November , it was NOT written by a Reporter but by Gaunson in August (trying to remake the image of Ned Kelly prior to his Court appearances)
    – lots of great analysis of Neds actual condemned cell letters ( they were mad rants )

    This is why this Blog is so useful : we are exploring the actual true story not the fictions and fairy tales the devotees in their echo-chambers still cling to.


    1. Hi David, that’s the first time I have seen that point, that the text by Gaunson in August was trying to remake the image of Ned Kelly prior to his Court appearances. That makes a lot of sense. It’s the persecution myth plus everything was someone else’s fault. Kelly Pygmalion….. Mutton dressed as lamb…..

      1. That “Blameless life” report wasn’t all made up by Gaunson – he certainly made up the fancy bits that the Kelly devotees love to quote – but it did also contain some actual thoughts and perhaps even words of Ned Kelly himself. One of the most revealing examples, and NOT something the Kelly devotees ever mention comes just after he had finished complaining of the tyrannical conduct of police that makes men ‘mad’. Straight away Gaunson asked Ned Kelly to give an example of this tyrannical conduct and and what did Kelly mention ? You might have expected a sweeping condemnation of various actions and policies and procedures employed by the police to keep selectors down but no, like a true narcissist he tells the story about how when he tried to escape from the police as they walked him, unhandcuffed across the road to the Court, he made a run for it and when caught Lonigan squeezed his balls. This was only necessary because like the idiot he was, though trapped in the bookmakers shop with no hope of escape he continued to thrash about and fight and kick – in other words what he described was a mess entirely of his own making! What a goose ! And what about the geese who think he was a political agitator trying to get a Republic up? As late as August 1880 all he was concerned about was himself and his own reputation as a smart arse who thinks its clever to kick the police around!

        1. Agree with that, as does Ian Jones (referenced above). Gaunson dressing up Kelly’s tale in fancy words, as was said in its day. Too much of the big language of parliament etc., as O&M put it. No-one is saying Kelly didn’t say the sort of nonsense in the blame life text, just that holding it up as Kelly’s own words is absurd.

Leave a Reply