Book Review Part Two : The Stringybark Creek Police Murders by Doug Morrissey

Part Two of Morrissey’s latest book focusses on the detail of the attack at Stringybark creek, and the immediate aftermath. The accounts of what happened provided by McIntyre and by Kelly himself are well known and are repeated along with interesting commentary about the facts which debunk the Kelly myths and conspiracy theories about the police being mercenaries on a mission to kill: not in disguise, no body straps, only one extra rifle, only six extra cartridges each, shooting at parrots, sending only half the party out to search on the first day – these facts undermine the myth that the Police knew where the Gang was holed up and were planning to kill them.

 

One of the enduring unresolved conundrums about the killings at SBC has been the fact that Kelly and McIntyre both reported that Lonigan was shot only once and yet at autopsy a few days later Dr Samuel Reynolds described four bullet wounds. How did they get there? Some said Lonigan must have accidentally shot himself in his haste to defend himself. Others suggested the Gang later fired into the corpse in some sort of bizarre bonding ritual. It was also suggested that a bullet had gone through his arm and then into his head.

 

Morrissey mentioned that he had been a consultant to ‘Genepool’, makers of the “Lawless” documentary which attempted to solve the puzzle by demonstrating that Lonigan’s wounds could have been caused by a quartered bullet, so I was expecting that Morrissey would explore this subject in detail, and hopefully describe the solution which has only recently been realised. The vital piece of the puzzle is an appreciation of the significance of Dr Reynolds finding at autopsy that all the wounds were inflicted while Lonigan was alive. Because we know he was only shot once while alive, all these wounds therefore had to have been created by that one shot, and the only way that could have happened was if Kellys gun was loaded not with an ordinary bullet but a quartered bullet or a load of some kind of shot, as was shown in the documentary. Several pieces of the quartered bullet – or shot, or swan-drops – hit Lonigan at once, creating the multiple wounds Reynolds found. Reynolds extracted one of these fragments from Lonigan’s left thigh and said it looked like a revolver bullet. But no revolver had been fired.

 

 

 

To my surprise, and disappointment Morrissey doesn’t mention this solution, instead nominating the one proposed by Ian Jones many years ago that the other wounds were caused during what Morrissey calls ‘the Kennedy/Scanlan fight’. The argument is that bullets fired back at the Gang missed their intended targets but somehow struck Lonigan’s corpse, lying on its back on the ground, not once but three times. Calling this the ‘Kennedy/Scanlan fight’ makes no sense because Scanlan didnt fire a single shot, but if Morrissey had calculated the odds of Kennedy missing who he was aiming at and accidentally hitting Lonigan three times he would have realised the virtual statistical impossibility of such an event. In any case we know this scenario is wrong because the type of wound Reynolds found was not the type seen when a corpse is hit by a bullet. The wounds were all of the kind found when the bullet hits a target that is alive.

 

 

Morrissey completely misses the vital significance of Dr Reynolds assessment that all four wounds were created before circulation had ceased, and dismisses it saying it was just an opinion and was ‘speculation’.  But Reynolds ‘opinion’ was not actually speculation at all – it was effectively an expert witness testimony that was based on the evidence of an autopsy finding that the wounds bore the characteristics of injuries caused by bullets fired into a living subject, and not of the distinctly different kind of injury found by shooting at a corpse. As Reynolds said, the difference between them is determined by the presence or absence of a circulation – which leads to bleeding and bruising in a live subject but not in a corpse. There can be no doubt: Lonigan was only shot once and all his wounds were inflicted simultaneously.

 

There are two critical insights that arise from this realisation about how Lonigan died. The first is that it conclusively establishes that what Kelly said about Lonigan’s death was a lie, and the second is that it conclusively establishes that what McIntyre said about Lonigan’s death was the truth. Four projectiles couldn’t have hit Lonigan at once in various parts of his body if as Kelly claimed, he shot Lonigan as he raised his head from behind the protection of a ‘battery of logs’. They could only have hit him at once in different parts of his body if they were all exposed at once, in other words when Lonigan was still out in the open, as McIntyre had said.

 

This realisation also puts to rest the claim promoted by Ian Jones and others that McIntyre perjured himself in denying Kellys account of Lonigan’s death. Jones claims that initially McIntyre gave Sadleir an account of Lonigan’s death that agreed with Kellys but every subsequent account he gave was changed to assert falsely that Lonigan was out in the open when killed, and thereby deny Kelly the chance to claim he killed in self-defence. Morrissey points out that Sadleir didn’t arrive at Mansfield until two days after the incident, by which time McIntyre had already provided his account, but also that Sadleir’s account, written when he was eighty years old, 30 years after the events ‘is riddled with major and minor errors’ some of which he lists. Simply put, McIntyre’s version is supported by the evidence but Kellys and Sadleir’s are not.

 

All these important opportunities to correct the record were missed by Morrissey because he didn’t think long and hard about Reynolds findings, the Genepool experiment and the odds of his own solution being the right one.

 

 

 

The final comment I want to make about content in this book relates to Morrissey’s claims about the murder site itself. He discusses the famous 1878 Burman photographs of the site and dismisses them, writing ‘The placement of the actors is incorrect’ and later ‘The Kennedy actor in the photograph with his hand raised should have been on the other side of the east-west log…’. It’s a pity that once again Morrissey didn’t think long and hard about what he was proposing about these important photos, because they contain a wealth of useful information, but the analysis has to be rational. What Morrissey describes as the ‘incorrect’ placement of actors was a result of the constraints placed on picture taking in the 1880s, where a small number of heavy photographic plates which had been carted laboriously into the bush had to be exposed judiciously. By moving the actors closer together an accurate approximation of the scene could be captured on a single plate. Morrissey’s suggestion that ‘Kennedy’ should have been on the opposite side of a log reveals his belief that the camera was pointing to the north and northeast, which is what Dr Adam Ford also claimed in the Lawless documentary. These two believe that Burman got it all wrong even though Monk had shown him exactly where the bodies were. Morrissey believes that despite knowing where the bodies were, and after taking all the trouble of trekking up to SBC with all his equipment, Burman then went and created a completely confused re-enactment for his picture. To me this makes no sense at all. Someone who was prepared to go to all that trouble to capture an historical site on film would surely take great care to make his photo as accurate as possible. I reject Morrisseys claims about the Burman photos : if Burman hadn’t cared about making it as accurate as he could, it would have  beeen a whole lot easier for him to have recreated the scene in any  suitable collection of trees just outside Mansfield.

 

 

I also reject Morrisseys claim on page 22 that ‘It is safe to say that after 140 years the mystery of the shingle hut location and therefore the police campsite has been solved.’ Here he is again referring to the outcome of the ‘Genepool’ documentary makers investigations, which included an archaeological exploration by Dr Adam Ford who announced in the documentary that the police campsite was in the vicinity of the public picnic ground. In fact this finding is disputed by at least three groups with an interest in locating the site, Fords investigation was faulty – as Ive shown HERE – and the so-called ‘Two Huts’ site remains the site that best fits all the available evidence. Morrissey could have usefully discussed all these sites but he has ignored them. In what the Kennedy Tree group would find troubling, he asserts that Monk wasn’t in the search party that found Kennedys body, so his identification of a tree that he told Burman was where Kennedys body was found was guesswork. Never-the-less Burman recreated the discovery there of Kennedys body and that photograph is the basis of the Kennedy Tree groups dubious claim to have rediscovered it. Maybe all they have discovered is the tree that Monk guessed might have been where Kennedy was killed?. 

 

In summary, I would have to say this third and final book is the weakest one of the Trilogy, and could best be described as a missed opportunity. Instead of offering an updated analysis that incorporated the latest thinking about the various controversies about the murders at SBC, and pointing out what they imply for the popular  Kelly mythology, Morrissey has mostly just repeated ideas from last century, and not put much effort into doing more than the minimum, adding McIntyre’s memoir and an assembly of other bits and pieces to create quantity, rather than quality. For me this book was a disappointment, as it could have been a milestone in the ongoing replacement of Kelly myths and legends with historical truth-telling. Instead it contains few if any original insights, in some places Morrissey actually adds to Kelly mythology by presenting as historical his own unsupported interpretations of events and in other places he reinforces Kelly mythology rather than replaces it.

However, the book does still provide some of the missing detail about the lives of the police, arouses deep sympathy for the murder victims, and a sense of outrage at the Kelly gangs crimes. For those reasons at least, it remains a worthwhile read.

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7 Replies to “Book Review Part Two : The Stringybark Creek Police Murders by Doug Morrissey”

  1. I’m rather saddened by the review. I met Doug at PRO Laverton when he embarked on his ground-breaking research. Years later my Grand-daughter and I spent a day at Monash Uni Library photocopying his Doctorate thesis where all his refs are. This is an invaluable research tool.

    Ian MacFarlane

    1. HI Ian
      Do you mean you are saddened by what Ive written or by the quality of this latest effort by Morrissey?

  2. Both, I guess…

    Ian MacFarlane

    1. On Facebook someone said my review was harsh. Was it? In the end I realised I was very disappointed with this book. As I said, a lost opportunity.

      As usual almost no-one from the Kelly sympathiser world has responded, I suppose because they weren’t going to ever read it- keeping their heads in the sand.

  3. As a reviewer you were entitled to express your views forthrightly. It was sad you had to. The publisher does not come out of this well.

    Ian MacFarlane

  4. Broadly speaking I must concur with the reviews of David here, and Michael Piggott in the Honest History blog http://honesthistory.net.au/wp/piggott-michael-an-out-of-shape-homage-to-ned-kellys-murdered-victims-at-stringybark-creek/ Despite Doug Morrissey’s expertise on many Kelly topics, especially social relations in north-eastern Victoria in Kelly’s day, someone – presumably the publisher – has dropped the ball badly by not having an index, as one key aim is clearly to use McIntyre’s memoir to support that arguments in the book. One can hardly be expected to read 400 pages and remember where everything is. The same criticism, presumably also due to failings at the publisher’s end, applies to the very poor proofreading of punctuation. As David has pointed out, it’s a dog’s breakfast. Sentences are broken halfway through by a period and a new sentence started for no reason at all. The punctuation in his version of McIntyre’s memoir is appalling and frequently at odds with the original. At times it disrupts the meaning of the original and makes it harder to read.
    McIntyre was well educated and highly literate, unlike the majority of Victorian teachers now, and was at home with often long but grammatically correct and well-worded sentences. Trying to modify them with unnecessary punctuation, including breaking some text into separate sentences on the grounds that this makes it easier for some readers, infuriatingly backfires. I will give just one example.

    McIntyre writes on p. 2 of the Vic Police Museum transcript, in one stand-alone paragraph,
    “I joined the Victorian Police in ’69. Power, the Bushranger escaped from Pentridge, our principal penal establishment, in February of this year and when I was in the Depot at Richmond he had caused quite a flutter amongst the police authorities by some audacious robberies he had just committed with the aid of his double barrelled gun, a weapon which Power is reported to have that much confidence in, and indeed before the universal use of the breach loading rifle his choice of weapons as opposed to a revolver was a very natural one.”

    In Morrissey p. 176 this becomes,
    “I joined the Victorian Police in 1869. Harry Power the Bushranger escaped from Pentridge our principal penal establishment, in February of this year. When I was in the Police Depot at Richmond, he caused quite a flutter among the police authorities by the audacious robberies he committed with the aid of his double barrelled shotgun, a weapon which Power is reported to have that much confidence in. Indeed, before the universal use of the breach loading rifle, his choice of weapons as opposed to a revolver was a very natural one.”

    We are not hearing McIntyre’s voice. The clarifications if needed (e.g. Depot means Police Depot; gun means shotgun) should have been footnotes, not textual changes. An original and necessary comma is missing from the second sentence. McIntyre’s two sentences have become four in Morrissey without adding anything to clarity and in my opinion disrupting McIntyre’s flow. Next, that paragraph – the good old rule, one idea to a paragraph – is made to continue on so that what were three separate paragraphs in McIntyre’s typescript are joined into one long sprawling paragraph that does not help the reader. What McIntyre wrote above is Para 1 of three: that when he joined the police in 1869 Power was on the run. The next (para 2) is about what young Kelly was up to then. Para 3 is that McIntyre was stationed in the north-west and didn’t encounter Power. Why McIntyre’s well set out typescript text was merged here (and elsewhere) by Morrissey is a mystery.

    On the positive side, Morrissey does give a lot of useful explanatory footnotes in his McIntyre text, and it is definitely worth reading to get his footnoted information on many points, especially for anyone not previously familiar with McIntyre’s memoir. (That will be most readers, as Kelly authors have mostly ignored McIntyre’s memoir for 120 years.) Just bear in mind that you should also read the free Victoria Police Museum download of the McIntyre transcript to see exactly what McIntyre wrote, if you want to quote him.

    As David and Michael Piggott point out, Morrissey has a lot of valuable things to say about SBC and its impact on others and their descendants but, as David said, there are some important opportunities missed in his book. In particular the fact that four pieces of bullet were found in Lonigan when only one shot was fired, and that none of those wounds were inflicted after death, requires that Lonigan was not crouched behind a log but was fully in the open when shot. Bill provided an excellent sketch illustrating how the four wounds occurred elsewhere on this blog.

    The only thing I want to take issue with in this blog are Morrissey’s comments on Fitzpatrick. I know he read my “Redeeming Fitzpatrick” article as he indirectly referenced it in his second book (‘a recent viewpoint’, p. 272) without the courtesy of a direct acknowledgement or even a bibliographic reference. Instead he has stuck to the old view of Fitzpatrick as a womanising layabout without providing a shred of reference evidence to support it. He launches several observations that he hopes propel that view, but in my opinion they founder before clearing the boat ramp.

    First, he suggests on p. 3 regarding the surrender of Dan and two Lloyd brothers, wanted for an assault at Winton, that “It was Ned who arranged the arrest and said he would deliver the boys to Fitzpatrick and only Fitzpatrick, proving Ned and Fitzpatrick were on friendly terms for at least six months before the policeman’s April 1878 shanty visit.” This is unsupported speculation. That event was reported in O&M on 10 October 1877, less than 4 weeks after Ned had had his dignity wounded by his recapture in the Benalla bootmaker’s brawl on 18 September, in which Fitzpatrick grabbed him around the neck and Lonigan blackballed him, and for which he roundly abused both in the Jerilderie letter. The brawl was discussed at length in my comments on the first part of David’s review of Morrissey’s book in the preceding blog here. The most likely explanation for Ned arranging their surrender is that he knew that Fitzpatrick played fair. As I said then, that was the characteristic that led some 200 citizens of the Lancefield district to petition for his reinstatement to the force after his 1880 dismissal. Kelly would hardly arrange their surrender to Lonigan, Flood, or other policemen that he loathed. While any theory about the surrender is to some extent guesswork, mine is consistent with the remarks in Fitzpatrick’s Record of Service in 1877 and 1878, while Morrissey’s overlooks the bootmaker’s brawl and what Kelly himself said about it, and relies on a guesswork character assessment of Fitzpatrick shared by the large majority of Kelly nuts but totally at odds with his Record of Service and later documented evidence, including the two Lancefield petitions.

    On p. 6 Morrissey claims that at the time of the ‘Fitzpatrick incident’ in April 1978, “Fitzpatrick was a regular visitor [at the Kelly’s), drinking and carousing with the family while conducting a romance with young Kate, so he thought he could combine a visit to see his girlfriend with the arrest of her brother Dan.” There is no evidence anywhere for any interest in Kate by Fitzpatrick except for Ashmead’s fanciful 1920s drivel that I analysed and demolished in my “Redeeming Fitzpatrick” article. There is absolutely no evidence at all for Morrissey’s claim that Fitzpatrick was a “regular visitor, drinking and carousing with the family”. Not even the Kellys claimed that. Kenneally’s chapter 2 claimed that following the ‘Fitzpatrick episode’, “The whole party appears to have become quite friendly, and had tea together”. Molony (Ch. 7, n. 6) relied on a 1930s nonsense article by a Samuel Jamieson, who claimed to have known the Kelly family well, but appears to have been yet another clown getting himself in the paper for a creative tale of the Kelly days. Molony wrote, “Jamieson repeats the universal family tradition that Fitzpatrick forcibly attempted to make love to Kate, whereupon Ellen, discovering him so acting, struck him with the fire shovel”. In other words Jamieson knew nothing but got himself in the paper anyway, like all the people claiming to have been Dan Kelly and having survived the fire at Glenrowan. The gullibility meter is notching over 10. I analysed and demolished the various claims about any Fitzpatrick and Kate romance in my ‘Redeeming Fitzpatrick’ article, brought down by contradictions within what various Kellys themselves said. Kelly himself flatly rejected any such claim in his 9 August 1880 Age interview with Gaunson.

    On p. 7 Morrissey claims that “The shanty atmosphere during Fitzpatrick’s first hour-long visit was hospitable and friendly as the policeman spoke with Ellen, flirted with her daughter Kate and in all likelihood played with the younger Kelly children”. This is similar to John Molony’s belief (p. 98) that when Fitzpatrick first turned up, Mrs Kelly invited him in for a pleasant chat over afternoon tea and fresh scones while Kate sat darning socks. Molony went far beyond his source (Samuel Jamieson, “Drunken Trooper Started Kelly Gang”, Dubbo Liberal, 11 November 1933, 2) in his fanciful depiction of Mrs Kelly’s hospitality. While Clune (Kelly Hunters, p. 132) held that “the story told by Fitzpatrick was entirely uncorroborated” and therefore that historians had to rely on guesswork, I showed with direct reconstructed testimony – a task never before attempted – that this is not true: Fitzpatrick’s testimony can be corroborated on most points and old views must be completely revised.

    Why would Morrissey and Molony assume any of the Kelly nonsense is valid when Fitzpatrick himself (from Cookson 1911) said that “they all showed me bitter dislike from the time that I rode up”? No source anywhere has anything to support claims of a hospitable and friendly hour at the Kellys. For Morrissey’s part, he shifts Fitzpatrick’s statement of dislike to refer to only his second visit that day, after his ride up the hill and back, but that is not what Fitzpatrick said; he spoke about his whole visit. In his courtroom testimony Fitzpatrick said of his first visit that “he dismounted and went in to see if Dan was about. Mrs Kelly and three children were in the house. He stayed about an hour or more talking with Mrs Kelly, to see if there was a chance of Dan coming in.” (Text in my Redeeming Fitzpatrick article.)

    The question is whether we accept that Fitzpatrick could hang around conversing with Mrs Kelly in a hostile or reluctant atmosphere for an hour. The answer is yes, unless there is reason not to believe it. What was she going to do about it? He said RC Q.12871 that “I was on friendly terms with the Kellys in one respect, that I had arrested Ned Kelly for being drunk and never pressed the charge against him; and he said that I was the only man up in that district that was any good.” Supporting this, Kelly was fined only 1 shilling for drunk and disorderly; the other fines after the Benalla bootmaker’s brawl were for offences against the police during the brawl. It is just as likely that Mrs Kelly tolerated his presence and made small talk without indulging in speculations about him flirting with Kate and playing with the little children.

    On p. 8 Morrissey notes that Fitzpatrick testified that “Miss [Kate] Kelly was in the house while the firing was going on; she sat down and cried”. Morrissey asks, “Why would Kate cry, unless she had some affection for Fitzpatrick?” The answer is simple: she was 14 and her older brother rushing into the house shooting at a copper probably gave her a shock.

    On p. 9 Morrissey claims that “When the policeman regained consciousness, the shanty mood had changed to one of appeasement and reconciliation.” This is not the sequence of events. Per Fitzpatrick’s testimony, it was as he was starting to come around that he heard the men talking about his fate. Once he came around, he cut the bullet from his own wrist and Kelly kept it. Morrissey next relates that “Ellen tightly bandaged the wound and drinks were served all round. Fitzpatrick was held captive with alcohol freely flowing from dusk to around 11 pm, when as one eye witness said ‘Fitzpatrick shook hands with everyone and declared the whole thing would be forgotten’”. There are several problems here. What source invented a piss-up? Not even Kenneally has that. 11pm is wrong; it was about 10pm (Fitzpatrick to Crown Solicitor, 20 September 1878, VPRS 4966 Unit 1 Item 4; he erroneously said 11pm in RC Q12859.) Are we supposed to believe that Fitzpatrick grogged on till 10pm and miraculously arrived half an hour later at the Winton hotel sober (as per David Lindsay’s sworn testimony)? The quote from an unnamed “eye witness” that “Fitzpatrick shook hands with everyone and declared the whole thing would be forgotten” is very poor scholarship. Who was this? Morrissey doesn’t say, and has never replied to my query sent last December. (Should he respond, I will give an update.) When I googled his quoted line, the only thing that came up is on the Wikipedia KellyGang page here, http://kellygang.asn.au/index.php?title=William_Williamson,_Brickey&mobileaction=toggle_view_mobile

    This is not an eye witness account. It is a story told somewhere unsourced by Bricky Williamson’s daughter Ida, born in 1897, 20 years after the event, who allegedly took notes on her father telling the story to a journalist “around the time of the first world war”. The quoted sentence appears in a passage allegedly in Williamson’s voice but written by an anonymous KellyGang author that says:

    “I get so angry when I tell this story. Perhaps it is best if you hear it from Ida, one of my daughters. I told a journalist about these matters at about the time of the First World War and she was there. She took notes at the time, and I feel we can rely on her excellent memory. She died aged 96 in October 1994.
    “Father was cutting timber on the high ground above the Kelly house when he heard screaming coming from the house. He ran down to see a drunken constable Fitzpatrick being threatened by Dan Kelly. Mrs. Kelly had picked up a shovel and was also threatening the constable. Father took the screaming children outside and calmed them down.
    “The incident started when Fitzpatrick made drunken advances towards Kate. Dan tried to throw the constable out the door and failed. Fitzpatrick discovered his wrist was bleeding (father doesn`t know how it happened). After Mrs. Kelly and Kate bandaged the wrist Fitzpatrick shook hands with everyone and declared that the whole thing would be forgotten.”

    The passage is quite inconsistent with anything Williamson said at the time about his encounter with Fitzpatrick, who was not described as drunk in Williamson’s two prison statements, nor was there anything about advances towards Kate. Neither was there anything about that in Wiliamson’s 1928 letter in Kenneally’s book, in which he wrote that he was at Kelly’s house after the brawl. Previous to it he had been up the hill where Fitzpatrick talked to him. He was not an eye witness to anything that happened before Kelly shot Fitzpatrick. He was never there to see a drunken Fitzpatrick being threatened by Fitzpatrick; this is all nonsense, as is Ida’s suggestion that one the one hand, Williamson reliably knew what happened throughout, and on the other, that he doesn’t know how Fitzpatrick’s hand injury happened. It is clear that Wiliamson (and his daughter) has just recycled Kelly lies about Fitzpatrick arriving drunk and making advances to Kate. Not even Mrs Kelly claimed he arrived drunk when she gave her tale of many other fabrications to Cookson in 1911.

    As to the quoted line itself, that after his wrist was bandaged he shook hands with everyone and declared the whole thing would be forgotten, that is the only thing in that tale by Williamson in Wikiperdia, and in this passage of Morrissey about the aftermath of the shooting, that is right, but it still needs qualification as that presentation makes it all sound like a jolly lark, especially after Morrissey has invented a tale of alcohol flowing freely among all parties immediately preceding it. What Fitzpatrick testified is as follows (text in my Redeeming Fitzpatrick article, with notes):

    “Ned also compelled him to make an entry in his notebook at the time of the conversation, so that he would not forget it. (Book produced and entry read to somewhat similar tale as above.) Fitzpatrick wanted to leave, but Ned would not return his revolver, making the excuse that they were catching the horses. He said, “If you go home and say I shot you, you’ll get no credit for it. The Government won’t reward you, but I’ll make it worth your while. I’ll give you a few hundred which I will have after the Baumgarten case is over. They only want me to keep out of the way until the case is over”. Fitzpatrick said he wouldn’t mention it. Mrs Kelly was there then, and she told Ned to say that if Fitzpatrick told of it he’d not be alive long, as they had plenty of friends about. Ned said it would be no use the police attempting to hunt him down, as he was too well acquainted with the country and could watch the police without himself being seen, and that he would never again be taken alive. Fitzpatrick then went and got his horse from behind the house, where Dan had tied it at Ned’s instruction so as not to be seen. His hand was very painful.180 Ned gave him his revolver and Dan brought his handcuffs. They bade him good night and shook hands with him.”

    While Morrissey concedes that “Fitzpatrick had little choice” but to say that he would forget the incident as Mrs Kelly had threatened violence “from their many friends” if he did not, he has not changed his long-rooted negative view of Fitzpatrick or he would not have written in unsourced claims of collective drinking in the aftermath. When he mentions Lindsay’s testimony that Fitzpatrick was sober when he arrived at Winton, Morrissey suggests (p. 9) only that “this supports the view that [he] was not drinking heavily as previously supposed or he had sobered up in the brisk night air as he rode towards Winton.” This will not do. No-one who has studied this incident from the source documents (or read my article which reviews all of them) could ever give any weight to the now well-demolished Jones and Molony view that Fitzpatrick was a habitual drunkard and womaniser, or that he had been drinking at all at the Kellys. It is nonsense. Further, cold night air does not sober anyone up. Time alone reduces blood alcohol content. The fact is that Fitzpatrick was completely sober when he arrived at Winton and any suggestion to the contrary is delusional.

    Also on p. 9 Morrissey claims that “accompanied by Ned, Dan and Williamson, Fitzpatrick was escorted to within a short distance of the Winton pub”. Again, no excuse for this egregious error. Rather, “Ned accompanied him as far as the pound, with Dan following them. It was a fine, starry, moonlight night. When he was about 2½ miles from Kelly’s, about 10.15pm, he saw Williamson and Skillion about 100 yards behind, coming after him on horseback. He spurred on [for the remaining 1½ miles] to Lindsay’s at Winton.” Again, the text and evidence is in my Redeeming Fitzpatrick article which Morrissey has read. If he wants to argue a different case with evidence and references that would be fine; but on the Fitzpatrick incident all he has is his old views from years ago, which he has not changed despite published argument to the contrary. That is very poor job from an academic author. If he responds to my repeated request for actual source evidence regarding the quote, or any other comment on this critique, I will happily blog an update. In the meantime, I cannot let this collection of mistakes about the Fitzpatrick incident go unchallenged. It is a shame, as I met Doug at the launch of his second book, found him a very engaging speaker, and have great respect for him and his academically published work and prior theses. But on Fitzpatrick, he is wrong by the evidence I have put forward, and he needs to get with the program or put up an evidenced case for a different view. No one has countered my Redeeming Fitzpatrick argument and reconstruction yet, and we are over 5 years on.

    1. Another problem in this as regards the Wikipewdia stuff allegedly from Williamson’s daughter. That text says, ““Father was cutting timber on the high ground above the Kelly house when he heard screaming coming from the house. He ran down to see a drunken constable Fitzpatrick being threatened by Dan Kelly. Mrs. Kelly had picked up a shovel and was also threatening the constable. Father took the screaming children outside and calmed them down.”

      This is more nonsense. Fitzpatrick first visted the house for about an hour before hearing wood chopping up the hill. He rode up to find Williamson there, whom he talked with for some minutes. In other words, Ida’s story is rubbish. If Fitzpatrick had been drunk, Williamson would have described that in regard to Fitzpatrick talking to him on the hill; but he said no such thing. There is no way Fitzpatrick was drunk at that time, and Ida’s story is garbage. Williamson would have had to run down thne hill following the mounted drunken Fitzpatrick when he rode back to the house for the second time for that to be plausible, but it is total tosh.

      And I am still waiting for somone to provide a source for this alledged tale of Ida’s, which the KelyGang Wikipedia page does not give…

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