Red Sash at SBC, Ned Kelly and the Green Sash at Glenrowan : does this mean anything?

As is often the case on this  Blog, the Discussions are where the interesting stuff happens, but this discussion is worth a Post of its own, because, for one thing we are hoping someone out there might have the answer to the question asked – how do we know that the green sash taken from Kelly when he was captured is the same one he was supposed to have been given by the Sheltons at Avenel in 1865?

The thread is reproduced below and began with this :


While we’re on the topic of myth making, isn’t it interesting that Kelly wore a red sash at Stringybark Creek – see the screenshot from the Australiasian Sketcher 23 November 1878, page 134.

The Benalla sash that was taken off Kelly at Glenrowan, the padding under his armour, is a cummerbund that measures 7’3” (2.2 metres) x 5.5” (14 cm) with a 2.5” fringe of gold bullion thread.

The Kelly legend claims it was a sash awarded to Kelly as an 11 year old boy when he rescued 7 year old Richard Shelton from a waterhole he had fallen into while playing in the creek, a thank-you from Richard’s parents, and which as we know from McMenomy came from the Shelton family’s drapery business.

But was it? What evidence is there that the sash presented to 11 year of Kelly was the same green sash he was wearing at Glenrowan? References someone?

Why would the grateful parents give an 11 year old boy a sash over 7 feet long as a reward? Wouldn’t they have given him a three or four foot long sash from the family drapery business?

What evidence is there that the sash young Ned back then was given in gratitude was green? References please someone?


  1. Very interesting point Stuart!

    Just had quick flick through JJ Kenneally (1980 edition) and can’t see anything about the green sash there! (I will double check again later).

    Clune’s book has Dick Shelton as being an adult farmer but also no reference to the sash (p. 13).

    In Australian Son (1984 Edition) Max Brown does refer to the ‘green and gold sash’ being given to Ned after saving Dick Shelton (p. 19).

    I’ve also found a small article from the Canberra Times on Trove from 1973 announcing the rediscovery of the ‘green and gold sash’ by Dr Nicholson’s daughter, Emma McNab. No reference to dick Shelton there either but admittedly its a ‘news in brief’ article.

    Will keep digging.

    1. I don’t think we can rule out the idea the Shelton wanted to give Ned something he would grow into or still wear in the future.

      Not much point forking out for a child sized silk sash for a boy about to hit puberty…

      1. Fair enough, can’t rule anything in or out yet, it’s just exploring a thought while washing the dishes last night. Let’s see if we can when the tale of the sash took off and what was said about it.
    2. This may all be a dead end or a wild goose chase, but here we go. Kenneally 1980 (ninth edn) does mention the green sash on p. 151, including a sub-heading about “saving a boy [unnamed] from drowning”. Kenneally 1945 (4th edn) had the same main heading (The Green Silk Sash) but without the subheading; and otherwise the same paragraph text as the 1980 one. The text says, “”While the Kellys were living at Wallan, Ned Kerlly saved the life of a boy who had fallen into a flooded creek. The boy’s father was so grateful for Ned’s heroic rescue of his son that he decided to make Ned a present of a very valuable ‘Green Silk Sash with a heavy bullion fringe’.” Note that the sash is a present; theer is nothing about any public presentation; the boy is unnamed; and the location is Wallan, which suggests that the story was not yet writ large in Avenel (or Kelly) folk history in 1945. It would be intersting to see what his 1934 third edition says if anyone has one.

      Working back, Kenneally’s 1929 second edition which is a free internet download, pp. 215-16 has a subheading, “The Secret of the Green Sash”. The text says, “Dr. Nicholson failed to mention anything in the foregoing affidavit about the “green silk sash”, with a heavy bullion fringe, which Ned Kelly wore inside his outer clothing when captured at Glenrowan. The doctor removed the sash when he was stripping Ned Kelly, and it was secreted by the officials who had seen it. Reference to this very valuable sash did not appear in the press for the simple reason that the looters, whoever they might have been, intended to retain it as a great trophy. It is believed to have been sent later to England, where it presumably now is.
      “Mr. Joseph Ryan, of Lake Rowan, a first cousin of Ned Kelly, remarked to his younger brother some years afterwards that he could never make out what had become of Ned‘s green silk sash with the heavy gold fringe. Although nearly fifty years have passed away since the looting of the sash, it may yet be discovered in an English museum.
      “Whoever is responsible for the annexing of this sash is undoubtedly guilty of theft. As the Kellys ceased to be outlaws on the 9th February, 1880, when the Outlawry Act lapsed, and as it was neither revived not its duration extended, no person was justified in stealing or looting any of their personal possessions. It is very evident that among those who functioned in the interests of Law and Order was a percentage of dishonest and untruthful officials.”

      That’s all. Apart from him getting the expiry of the outlawy Act wrong (it was 26 June 1880 when that Parliament was prorogued), there is no connection with Kelly saving a boy from drowning, and in the 1929 edition I can’t find anything about the rescue.

      So from a neighbour and close acquaintance of the Kelly family, and the earliest passionate defender of Kelly, there is no mention of the rescue.

      In Max Brown first edition 1948, he talks about the Kellys at Avenel on p.27, but there is no mention of the sash or of saving a boy from the creek. On page 213 he writes about Kelly’s wounds being dressed by Dr Nicholson, including a description of Kelly’s clothes and boots, but no mention of the sash.

      I don’t have Brown’s 1956 edition so can’t check re Avenel. In many respects a copy I flicked through in a bookshop a while back seemed fairly similar to the 1948 edition.

      In Brown’s revised 1981 Australian Classics edition he writes on p. 14 aout the Shelton children crossing the creek on a fallen tree every morning on their way to school, but nothing yet about the rescue. Then he writes about Avenel having a good life for children and a Avenel events, and not until p. 19 do we get, “After the Kellys had left Avenel, the local folk remembered Mrs Kelly as a [good] neighbour … , and Ned as something of a hero for rescuing the eight-year old Richard Shelton from the creek. Ned later wore a green and gold sash presented by the Shelton family under his armour at Glenrowan, as if to indicate, if the battle went against him, that it was not as a bushranger but as a friend and neighbour that he wished to be remembered”.

      On p. 183 of the 1981 edition Brown writes about the doctor dressing Kelly’s wounds, and describes his clothes at length, but there is nothing about the sash.

      Last is Brown’s 2013 second edition of his 2005 revision. On p. 21 he writes about Avenel, “Ned was able to rescue the seven year old Richard Shelton from drowning in the creek opposite the Kelly home. His courage must have been exemplary for the Shelton family saw fit to make a public occassion of it by presenting him with a gold-fringed sash”. Note that it has become a public presentation. On p. 213 he writes about the doctor dressing Kelly’s wounds and describes his clothes, but again nothing about the sash.

      Could it be somewhere between 1929 and 1945 that the rescue and sash story came to Kenneally, and somewher after 1948 that it came to Brown? Both were keen defenders of Kelly, but the story was not in either of their first editions. I would like to know if it was in Kenneally’s third, 1934 edition as that may help trace it further.

      Last for tonight, word-searching my PDF of Cookson’s 1910-11 Sydney Sun interviews published as ‘The Kelly Gang from within’, for the word ‘sash’ produced no results. It seems that the silk sash story was not worth mentioning in 1911, even by Mrs Kelly and Jim Kelly.

      Thanks for the 1973 article reference. I think there is enough in this initial round of enquiry to be worth persuing a bit further. I will check your Trove link and Clune, and will also check John Molony’s 1980 ‘I am Ned Kelly’ as he was another powerful defender of Ned

      Great work as always Stuart.

      Not sure how I missed the section in Kenneally (1981) on p. 151 ( it was a flick through on my lunch break – was looking at the part of the book covering childhood).

      Kenneally refers to it as a “Green Silk Sash with a heavy bullion fringe” – i.e. the description is in quotation marks. I wonder who he is directly quoting.

      And who made the application to Mrs Graham Pole for return of the sash to Jim in 1910 (as Kenneally alleges)? Jim? Ellen?

      Why didn’t this application for the sash come up when Jim and Ellen were talking to Cookson in 1911?

      There’s something odd here Stuart…

      Hi Thomas, I think where Kenneally 1929 refers to “the ‘green silk sash’, with a heavy bullion fringe”, he is just slightly rephrasing from Joseph Ryan whom he discusses in the next paragraph.

      Iit sounds from reading futher on in Kenneally’s 1945 and later editions that possibly Jim Kelly wrote to Pole to ask for the sash to be returned to him, or more likely from the wording, that someone wrote on his behalf, probably Kenneally.

      It doesn’t sound like the sash had become a thing before Kenneally 1929, and he didn’t link it to Ned rescuing a boy from the creek until some later edition. That’s why it would be nice to check the 1934 third edition for the link; otherwise it’s 1945 onwards..

      1. And also worth noting is that Joseph Ryan in Kenneally 1929 did not say anything to connect the Glenrowan sash with the Shelton sash. He only said that the Glenrowan sash was taken from Kelly at Glenrowan. There is nothing about a Shelton sash in Kenneally’s 1929 second edition.

      1. Just stumbled upon this amazing little video from 1973!–ned-kelly-cummerbund/

        Assume this is Emmie McNab (nee Nicholson) with the sash before donating it to Benalla Historical Society.
        Shot for GMV-6 Shepparton.


          Here’s the interview!
          Note: the woman is not Emmie

          Hi Thomas, that is a totally brilliant find. It is great to see the sash folded, unfolde and held up in so many angles.

          I have rescanned the photo from Meredith and Scott p. 133, which shows Mrs Street from the Benalla Historical Society sitting with the sash in 1973. Both the video and the photo show its 2.2 metre legth to good effect.


(Visited 2,209 times)

131 Replies to “Red Sash at SBC, Ned Kelly and the Green Sash at Glenrowan : does this mean anything?”

  1. Hi David, I have persued the tale of the sash through a large collection of Kelly books tonight. I have PDFs of all of the following list, and word-searched then for the words Avenel, sash, and cummerbund. There is not a single mention of the Shelton sash story in any of them.

    Bear in mind that the Kellys and the Kelly gang were the subject of intense interest during and after the Kelly outbreak, and writers and journalists searched high and low, including interviewing anyone they could find about the history of the gang and their families. Most of theses books have anecdotes about the members of teh gang, and especially about Ned Kelly.

    Early pro-Kelly authors looked for anything favourable to write about young Ned and explain why he went bad – the influence of criminals, the places he grew up in, the chances he had tpo turn out well, such as being offerd assistance by the police to lead an honest life in NSW away from the influence of his criminal clan after his brief spell in Kyeneton lock up where he gave the police information that helped capture his former mate Harry Power.

    And none of these ayuthors heard a word about Kelly rescuing Richard Shelton and/or being rewarded with a sash. I have listed them in publication date order so you can see how the total lack of mention of the Shelton sash – if such a thing existed – was never heard of throughout these years.

    G.W. Hall, The Kelly gang, or, Outlaws of the Wombat Ranges (1879);
    G.W. Hall, The Book of Keli, Or, The Chronicles of the Kelly Pursuers (1879);
    Borlase, Ned Kelly: the ironclad Australian bushranger (1881);
    John Singleton, A Narrative of Incidents in the Eventful Life of a Physician (1891), who treated and evangelised to Kelly in the Melbourne Gaol;
    F.A. Hare. – Last of the Bushrangers (4th edn, 1895);
    F. Hunter – Origin and Destruction of the Kelly Gang (3rd edn, 1899);
    C.H. Chomley, The true story of the Kelly gang of bushrangers (Melbourne, 1900);
    C. White, History of Australian Bushranging (1900);
    Brian Cookson, The Kelly gang from within (1911,) articles published in the Sydney Sun;
    John Sadleir, Recollections of a Victorian Police Officer (1913);
    Robitt Jon Clow, The cause of Kelly: a complete history of the primitive colonial war between the Kelly family and the police, in blank verse (1919), an early Kelly enthusiast who wrote the preface to Kenneally’s Inner History;
    Joseph Ashmead, “The Thorns & the Briars”: The True Story of the Kelly gang (Typescript, 1922);
    Boxall, History of Australian Bushrangers (3rd edn, 1906);
    Datas: The Memory Man: by himself (1932), chapter 10 recounting many yarns with Jim Kelly about his brothers.
    Henry Neary, The Kellys: Australia’s most famous bushrangers (1935)
    W.H. Fitchett, Ned Kelly and his gang (1938)
    Clive Turnbull, Ned Kelly: being his own story of his life and crimes (1942), with an introduction full of praise for Kelly.

    The next step will be to search the academic Kelly books that came out from 1968 onwards to see what references they have to support their association of the Glenrowan sash with the youthful Shelton sash. Now if Kelly hadn’t worn a bright red sash at Stringybark Creek, this enquiry probably wouldn’t have started.

    Anyone with evidence (with a source reference) from an early pre-1920 document, including Trove newspaper or magazine articles, stating that the Glenrown sash is the one given in thanks for rescuing Shelton can claim victory by posting it here, and I’ll put on a silly hat. But the list of books text-scanned here for any such evidence has produced nothing.

  2. Let’s trace the construction of one element of the green sash story in Kenneally – its value.

    We can trace Kenneally’s construction of the sash’s value in his 1929 second edition. He described is as “the ‘green silk sash’, with a heavy bullion fringe”. He says, “Reference to this very valuable sash did not appear in the press for the simple reason that the looters, whoever they might have been, intended to retain it as a great trophy.”

    To Kenneally this clearly meant meant that it had a considerable monetary value, bullion of course meaning a bullion gold fringe. What angered Kenneally is that something of monetary value was “looted” from the wounded Kelly. He is not talking about any possible sentimental value.

    Why did Kenneally think the sash had a bullion fringe? We have to remember that he hadn’t seen it. It had been nicked and taken to England, so Kenneally had to rely on what he’d heard – or misheard.

    He says, “Mr. Joseph Ryan, of Lake Rowan, a first cousin of Ned Kelly, remarked to his younger brother some years afterwards that he could never make out what had become of Ned‘s green silk sash with the heavy gold fringe.” Keneally has taken Ryan’s words to mean that the gold fringe was a gold bullion fringe. Not gold coloured, but real gold trim, a fringe of actual gold of considerable monetary value.

    But Kenneally made it up. When the Glenrowan sash was finally returned to Australia in the 1970s, it was seen to be trimmed with the sort of gold thread they use for school blazers – see the description below, from Meredith and Scott p. 132.

    What we see is that the “gold thread was not bullion gold; not gold at all, just school blazer type gold thread. Kenneally heard gold fringe and imagined gold bullion. Needless to say this was not corrected or footnoted in his posthumous 1980 ninth edition by the editors, or the word ‘bullion’ simply deleted.

    When subsequent writeres wax lyical about the “very valuable” green silk sash, we now know that (1) Kenneally was not lending it any sentimental value. He was complaining about the theft of what he thought was a valuable gold-trimmed item, and (2) it was obviously a handsome sash, but not remotely as valuable as it would have been if it had had a bullion fringe. And we have nothing to connect it, in Kenneally 1929, with saving a boy from drowning, or indeed of having any history before Glenrowan.

    Further, there is nothing in what Joseph Ryan said to connect the sash with saving a boy, or Kenneally would surely have mentioned it there. So two people who knew the Kellys well, knew nothing in 1929 about the story of the sash being awarded to Kelly for saving a boy from a creek. Interesting.

    1. To be clear, the Historical Society’s description in Meredith and Scott saying “gold bullion thread” does not mean the heavy real gold fringe that Kenneally’s description of a “bulllion fringe” suggests. We are seeing an elevation of a school blazer thread fringe to danging gold bullion in Kenneally’s paragraphs.

  3. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

    Here’s an interesting little article I’ve found on Trove.

    ‘INTERESTING PEOPLE In All Parts Of Australia

    It will come as a surprise to most people to learn that a society has been
    formed, entitled “The Ned Kelly Defence League,” the main object of
    which is to secure Kelly’s boots, armor, green silk sash, and other relics, and
    restore them to his descendants.

    Mr. J J. Kenneally, of Essendon, Victoria, is the organiser of the league, which
    has some 30 members. Mr. Kenneally contends that the Outlawry Act, by
    virtue of which Kelly’s belongings were seized, had expired on February 2,
    1880 — more than four months before Kelly was captured. Therefore he
    was not an outlaw when he was made prisoner. Mr. Kenneally has spent 18
    years investigating the history of the Kellys and has written a book on the
    subject, which he claims will reveal certain new aspects of Kelly’s life, and
    refute many unfounded rumors. He intends to deliver a series of lectures
    on the subject during the Melbourne Centenary.’

    Provides a little more context on the push to find and return the sash but still nothing tying (no pun intended) the Glenrowan sash / cummerbund to Shelton family.

    1. Hi Thomas, there are three interesting things about that article you found, the first being its date – 1934 – which was the year Kenneally produced his third edition of his Inner History. I will try and find a copy to inspect through one of the university or public libraries, as it is im[portant to the green sash interpretation timeline to see what he said between his 1929 and 1945 editions.

      Second, it says he had been researching the Kelly story for 18 years. So for at least 15 years (to the 1929 edition) he had heard nothing about any claim that the sash was conne cted with saving a boy from a creek; there is no mention of saving a boy at all. And when he did menion the rescue in his fourth 1945 edidion, he didn’t know the boy’s name and said it happened in Walllan.

      Third, it says the main object of Kenneally’s group “is to secure Kelly’s boots, armor, green silk sash, and other relics” to his descndants. In other words, the stuff that was taken from Kelly after his capture. Kenneally based this on a peculiar claim that the outlawry Act had expired four months earlier than it did, although that date is irrelevant, as it had expired two days before Kelly’s capture anyway, so that doesn’t alter his claim in regards to the Act having expired when Kelly was captured. The key thing is that Kenneally used the word relics to describe Kelly’s stuff. That’s exactly what Benalla historical people have done; they have elevated the sash into a relic, displayed in a glass case just like the claimed saint’s bones I saw in a couple of churches in France and Spain ages ago.

      If there was any strong association between the green sash and Avenel, we would expect Kenneally to have heard of it. And we would expect people in Avenel to know about it as an interesting part of their town history. Yet in the 1954 book, ‘Memories of Avenel’, there is nothing about the sash. There is only a brief mention that old residents spoke well of the Kellys and that “at risk of his own life he saved Dick Shelton from drowning in Huges Creek.” No sash recollections in 1954 Avenel about a topic allegedly of historical interest to the town.

      There was a long discussion on this blog a couple of years back about whetrher Kelly risked anything at all when he pulled Richard of of the creek,

      What we found was that there is no evidence for the creek being in flood and a lot of evidence that it wasn’t, so no bold rescue from drwning and no reisk to Kelly’s life, not even close. The year of the rescue was hotly disputed but was established to have been aftre Red Kelly had died, so no draping sashes over Ned by his dad as portrayed in that Greenwood “Ned Kelly and the Green Sash” children’s book. The more we look, the more bits of the green silk sash story seem to have been written by Pinnoccio (or Mr Squiggle).


      1. I should have said that the scan from the Avenel Memories book is from Meredith and Scott’s Century of Acrimony book, spilt between pp 132 and 134, in their section on the green sash.

  4. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

    Also just found another account of the incident from Frank Clune from 1954.

    ‘At Avenel, Ned Kelly, matured beyond his age by the worries and responsibilities that fate had thrust upon, him, suddenly achieved local renown — for a deed of courage.

    A farmer, R. J. Shelton, fell into Hughes Creek, and was on the point of
    drowning, when Ned Kelly plunged into the water and pulled the man to the

    It was only an Incident in pioneering history, of no sensational import in the
    nation’s annals— but to be remembered and vouched for by Shelton and his
    descendants in later years, when Ned Kelly’s courage was being directed into
    more desperate courses.’

    Nothing about a sash…

  5. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

    Another thought.

    I was talking about this all with my dad, Stephen, tonight (another another Kelly-head) and he was under the impression the sash was already something the Shelton family already owned (he can’t remember where that comes from).

    This roughly fits with McMenomy who has it that the sash came from the Shelton’s family drapery business. Would they have sold child-sized sashes at the store? Maybe. I suspect they wouldn’t have (or wouldn’t have usually had them).

    I also think we need to consider whether it might have been a member of the Shelton family who have come forward with a story linking the Shelton rescue with the Glenrowan sash somewhere between the late 20s and mid 40s. Still very odd nothing from the Kelly camp linking the two stories until this time.

    1. Hi Thomas, I think we have an answer to the question whether the Shelton family linked the Shelton rescue to the Glenrowan sash. This is a gem – I have attached a scan of the 1973 letter from a descendant, Mrs Shelton whose first name is unclear, to the Benalla Historical Society giving the family history of the rescue. As you can see, nothing links the rescue to the Glenrowan sash. The family tradition is only about the rescue; nothing about any sash.

      The only thing she knows about claims relating to the sash is from Frank Clune’s books. She says that until the cummerbund unexpectedly returned from England that year (1973), she “hadn’t heard it mentioned at any time”.

      It is also from this letter that we know that we know there was no heroic rescue in the kind of raging torrents that Ian Jones imagined, and Peter FitzSimons ‘Ned Kelly’ elaborated on even more fully, and which feature at the start of that ridiculous 1993 Heath Ledger Ned Kelly movie. They all made it up. Mrs Shelton states that Richard was playing in a waterhole in the creek and that the creek was not in flood at the time.

      1. Thats fantastic Stuart !

        I remember some time back I questioned the claims about Shelton having been rescued from a ‘raging torrent’ when the year was supposed to have been a drought year, and you and I explored that a bit.

        Well this letter completely matches and verifies what we had been thinking, that there was no raging torrent , the Sheltons themselves saying Dick had got into trouble in a water hole! These are what are left when the creek is low, and possibly only a weak stream.

        Its quite extraordinary that the Sheltons knew nothing of the sash, but I wonder if its possible that aspect of the story was just forgotten about, because from the Sheltons point of view the big deal was that Dick was rescued, whereas from the Kelly point of view it was that Ned Kelly saved Dick and was rewarded….

        Maybe Ned flogged the sash from Mrs Scott???

        1. Hi David, LOL, but the question is reasonable – was the big deal to the Sheltons that Richard was rescued rather than remembering the sash? When Kelly was captured after two years of publicity throughout the Kelly outbreak, isn’t it curious that Richard and his family in the small town of Avenel wouldn’t have talked about that rescue and giving a fancy sash to young Ned as a promising young lad, regardless that they may have known nothing about a sash being taken from him at Glenrowan? Yet Mrs Shelton who knew about the sash being taken from Kelly at Glenrowan had never heard any family tradition about a sash or that sash being involved in the creek rescue story. Maybe the rescue wasn’t such an enormous deal, because that kind and friendly act towards one of his younger schoolmates wasn’t a wild surf rescue but a pulling from awaterhole in a not flooded creek? Was there ever a sash given by the Sheltons as a reward, or has someone put two (the rescue) and two (the Glenrowan sash) together and made five (the Glenrowan sash origins as a reward for saving Richard at Avenel)?

          The second question, was the big deal from the Kelly family’s viewpoint that Kelly was rewarded? It’s doubtful because nothing was said by the family about the sash at Glenrowan, where Kate and Grace spoke with him after capture, or by Kelly himself to any of the journalists then or later, or by any of his family afterwards through past the Cookson interviews in 1911, nor by Jim Kelly to Datas who he worked with for quite a time and heard lots of Kelly stories from. So nothing in any Kelly family history about the Glenrowan sash having any significance at all.

  6. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

    McMenomy’s ‘Ned Kelly : the authentic illustrated history’ has:

    ‘The only effects found on the outlaw apart from three revolvers, were a silver Geneva lady’s watch and chains, one gold and one silver, a lot of ammunition, and one threepence. Dr Nicholson, shown here, examined Kelly in the station master’s office and found him wearing a remarkable ‘green silk sash with a heavy bullion fringe’. He removed the sash without the outlaw or anyone else knowing. The same sash had been presented to Kelly as a young boy by Mr Esu Shelton of Avenel, after Kelly had rescued this son from drowning.

    The citation McMenomy gives is JJ Keneally’s, p. 235 (see Ch.2, illus. note 12).

    But which edition? If you go to the bibliography, McMenomy cites ‘Kenneally JJ, The Complete Inner History of the Kelly Gang and their Pursuers. 7th edn. Roberston & Mullens, Melbourne, 1935.

    Problem is though, Keneally’s 7th edition is April 1955.

    Could McMenomy be citing the 3rd edition (1934)? Or is he correctly citing the 7th edition with 1935 a typo for 1955?

    1. Hi Thomas, an excellent question but I suspect McMenomy’s reference will be the 1955 seventh edition with a date typo as you say. I don’t have that either but surely someone reading this blog should have the seventh edition. I’ll have to try and see both editions and check.

      It’s interesting that he has quoted Kenneally’s description of the heavy bullion fringe despite it being very well known that the green sash was back in Benalla since 1973. So why quote Kenneally? What it shows is Kenneally’s long running influence on Kelly enthusiasts despite his blatant bias and highly selective sourcing of facts. This is most obvious in his cutting Kelly’s section about the Fitzpatrick incident out of his reprinting of the Cameron letter, which does not show Kelly on a good light.

      The Authentic Illustrated History will be the second edition 2001 where he had made some corrections from his 1984 edition. It’s a beautiful book, a pity they didn’t ever reprint it.

  7. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

    Hi Stuart,

    I think you’ll be right that it’s just a typo.

    My mistake though, I am quoting from McMenomy’s ‘Ned Kelly: the Authentic Illustrated Story’ So the 1984 hardback edition not the 2001 edition.

    I don’t have the 2001 edition. Perhaps he corrected the citation?

    1. vH Thomas, in the 2001 Authentic Illustrated History p. 2175 the note says, “Ned Kelly saves Richard Shelton , detail from Ethel Middleton (nee Shelton), op. cit. [The op cit is from the first note there re history of Avenel, the “Information and photographs relating to the Shelton family were kindly supplied by Ethel Middleton through Mrs F. Archer. Also see Burgoyne, A.J, Memories of Avenel, 1954, and Matindale, H.G., New Crossing Place: Seymoure and its Shire, 1958. I haven’t seen Martindale , but the Benalla Museum Shelton letter said he quotes Clune. To return to McMenomy’s note:] ‘At the risk of his own life’, Burgoyne op. cit. Location given by Mr. W. Ewing and Mr. C. Lfoe, Avenel op.cit. Kenneally, Inner History 7th edn 1935 [so same as you frist 1984 book said, clearly a typo] gives details. [As we are seeing the details are questionable.] The sash is preserved by Benalla [etc.].

  8. The suggestion that Kelly wore the cummerbund under his armour, perhaps “to prevent chafing”, was as far as I know first advanced by Ian MacFarlane in ‘The Kelly gang unmasked (2012), p. 223.
    There is a video somewhere that has an armourer trying on a replica of Kelly’s armour and jumping around in it briefly. I will try and find my note, but it was just somettging I watched on YouTube once, probably by googling ned kelly’s armour.
    Padding was essential, not just the knitted skull cap, but underneath as well The seven foot long cummerbund was perfect.

  9. John Molony’s 1980 ‘I am Ned Kelly’ p. 26 says, “It was high summer and the children of the township [Avenel] and its nearby homesteads often swam in the creek which ran by the town. A summer storm had swollen the Hughes and young Richard Shelton, aged six, was swept away in the rising waters. Ned was not exceptionally gifted as a swimmer, but the struggle of the child to stay above the water and the inevitable outcome of his predicament without help urged him on and Richard was saved. It was an act for which the people of the little town, and particular the Sheltons, were especially grateful, and to Ned they gave an embossed sash as a memento of the event. At school the deed was talked about with pride…”. His endnote says, “This event is preserved both in Avenel folklore and in the personal traditions of the Shelton family. Ned is said to have worn the sash at Glenrowan”.

    As the 1973 Benalla letter from Mrs Shelton shows, there was no Shelton family tradition of the sash even existing, let alone being the sash that Kelly was wearing at Glenrowan.

    Further, the Avenel tradition related by Mrs Burgoyne who wrote the 1954 ‘Memories of Avenel’ that mentions only the rescue and nothing about the age of the rescued, and who informed Frank Clune of the Avenel tradition reported in his 1954 ‘The Kelly Hunters’, which
    had the boy Ned rescuing the grown adult farmer, Richard Shelton, from drowning by pulling him to the creek bank, and said nothing about a sash.

    Somewhere between 1973 and 1980 it seems a story has developed that not only has the young Ned presented with a sash for the Avenel rescue, but has it as the same sash that was later worn by Kelly at Glenrowan. Further investigation is needed.

    1. As above, Molony said, “to Ned they gave an embossed sash”. I’m not sure what he means by that, as the sash doesn’t look embossed to me. Can anyone help explain?


  10. As we are in the Weimar republic of Danistan and locked down on Saturday night under curfew I searched Trove newspapers from 1 January 1865 to 31 December 2010 in several batches for the words kelly, avenel and shelton.

    There were only three results for these that had articles about Avenel that also mentioned Kelly and Shelton. One was the article from 1954 that Thomas linked to and quoted from, where Clune wrote a long narrative peice promoting his Kelly Hunters book, with the extract quoted on this blog page. Another copy of the same piece was reprinted in another paper a few months later.

    The other two articles were more or less duplicate histories of Seymour and its surrounds in 1930, printed in two papers with minor variations. They are the Weekly Times, Saturday 24 May 1930 page 10, HISTORY OF SEYMOUR,
    and the Telegraph (Brisbane) Monday 25 August 1930 page 6, PICTURESQUE TOWN OF SEYMOUR — Romantic History of Early Days,

    They only mention the Kellys and the Euroa bank robbery, with some interesting (because so many years later) reminiscences by Gloster who was stuck up.

    So in all of Trove newspapers from 21865 to 2010 there is nothing I could find connecting Avenel with Kelly and Shelton except for Clune’s 1954 feature article about his book.

  11. I uploaded some of this last night, but here is a better, expanded write-up of it: Searching Trove newspapers from 1 January 1865 to 31 December 2010, with the words kelly, avenel and shelton in the search box, produced 477 results of which most were advertising (small ads for Shelton’s store or events at his Imperial Hotel), or articles that contained all three words but had nothing to do with the sash question, such as Avenel council notices that mentioned Shelton and were signed by a John Kelly, council officer.

    There were only four articles in Trove newspapers in the 145 years searched that included Kelly, Avenel and Shelton in relation to Ned Kelly. Two are the same or very similar 1954 article that Thomas provided the link to here, printed in different papers, in which Clunes provided a lengthy extract from his ‘Kelly Hunters’ book by way of promoting it. Both pieces contained in full the same short text about Kelly saving a farmer at Avenel from drowning that is in Clune’s book.

    The other two articles are about the history of Seymour. Both talk about the Kelly bank robbery at Euroa and interestingly contain recollections including from James Gloster. Both mention Avenel in passing and mention Shelton a s hotel owner or something, but neither has anything about Kelly rescuing Shelton at Avenel.

    The first published is in the Weekly Times, 24 May 1930, p. 10, HISTORY OF SEYMOUR,
    The second is in the Telegraph (Brisbane), 25 August 1930, p. 6, PICTURESQUE TOWN OF SEYMOUR — Romantic History of Early Days,

    It is true that a Trove newspaper search only finds what is in Trove at the time the search is made, and that is only what has been digitised, not everything published during the searched years. But it is indicative of coverage of topics of interest at various times. Trove has a fairly full coverage of nineteenth century newspapers, and the total lack of anything about Kelly and Shelton at Avenel does reasonably indicate that there was nothing about it in the papers regardless of considerable public interest in the doings and history of the Kelly gang.

  12. There are other indications that the story of the award of a sash to Kelly for saving the young Richard Shelton, and its being the same sash that Kelly wore at Glenrowan, may be a late twentieth century development. Remember dear readers that this is an investigation triggered by the fact of Kelly wearing a red sash at Stringybark Creek, not an announcement or conclusion about the origins of the Glenrowan sash. We are simply examining what has been written about the Glenrowan sash over time and how that has changed.

    Supporting 1980 as the year it was becoming generally accepted that Kelly saved Shelton and was rewarded with a sash that he later wore at Glenrowan, we have Graham Jones and Judy Bassett’s, ‘People, Places and Things: The Kelly Years’ (1980), p. 12, which says, “Possibly the best remembered single incident from those Avenel years is Ned’s rescue of a boy, Richard Shelton, from drowning. The parents of the boy were naturally grateful for Ned’s prompt action, and are said to have presented him with a handsome silk sash, which he wore under his armour fifteen years later at Glenrowan. After almost a century of being the best-known, unlocated Kelly relic, the blood-stained sash, now known as the Kelly Cummerbund, came to light in 1973 and is displayed at the Pioneer Museum, Benalla.”

    In fact the incident does not appear to have been well remembered by anyone from Avenel or anywhere else until some point after its return to Australia, when it was linked only with Glenrowan, and not with the rescue of the boy Shelton. Even Kenneally in 1929 made no such link. Until Kenneally’s book and subsequent efforts after 1930 with his ‘Ned Kelly Defence League’ it seems that no-one except Dr. Nicholson’s family in England, where he took it, knew of the sash at all. The complete ignorance of its existence ran some 50 years from 1880 to 1929 (or possibly 1927 when Kenneally’s book was serialised, or 1928 his first edition, neither of which I have pursued).

    Going back to 1976, in Brian Carroll’s ‘Ned Kelly: Bushranger’, pp. 23-4 he says, “Before he left Avenel young Ned won some local favour by saving the life of a farmer, R.J. Shelton, who had fallen into Hughes Creek. The grateful Shelton presented Ned with a valuable green sash with a heavy bullion fringe. Ned seems to have cherished that sash; we shall hear more of it later.” On p. 182 he says at Glenrowan the captured Ned “was taken to the station master’s office and his wounds dressed by Dr Nicholson.” There is nothing there about him souveniring the sash, but on p. 234 he says, “The Benalla Historical society has in its museum the green cummerbund given to the youthful Ned Kelly by a grateful Dick Shelton after the rescue from Avenel Creek.”

    So in 1976 we have Carroll retelling the incorrect story from Clune 1954, that young Kelly saved the life of the adult farmer Shelton, and that Shelton presented his rescuer with “a valuable green sash with a heavy bullion fringe”, words Kenneally used to describe it back in 1929 based on Joseph Ryan’s mention to him of a gold fringed sash.

    What is key here is the connecting link: the sash taken from Kelly Glenrowan is claimed by the Museum to have been a sash given to Kelly as a youngster at Avenel. That link was not made by Kenneally in 1929 who had researched the Kelly story for some 15 years, and it was not made by the Shelton descendant who wrote a letter about the Shelton family story of the Avenal rescue to the Benalla Museum in 1973. There was no mention of a sash at all in Clune 1954 or Memories of Avenel 1954. Where did the claim of an Avenel sash, and the claimed connection with the Glenrowan sash, come from?

    1. Actually, the complete ignorance of its existence seems to have lasted some 63 years from the summer of 1866-67, the likely time of the Avenel rescue going by Mrs Shelton’s 1973 letter to the Benalla Historical Society in which no awarding of any sash to Kelly by the Sheltons back then was remembered, to 1929 (or possibly 1927 when Kenneally’s book was serialised, or 1928 his first edition, neither of which I have pursued).

  13. Anonymous says: Reply

    I was told that the sash that Ned had on was green with gold bullion ends and it had come from the sheltons who took down one of the curtain ends displayed in their house, Thats why it is so long.
    His red cummerbund is something that was not uncommon amongst larikins and others as part of their daily dress so the two – a green sash and a red cummerbund are entirely different.
    The green sash at Benalla has stains on it which presumably are neds so get someone to organise for it to be dna tested
    Gill’s Historical Record page 5 quotes a Bulletin article of 25 December 1880 where the sash is described ?

  14. Hi Anonymous, thanks for the reference to the Bulletin 25 December 1880. I had a look in Kelvyn Gill’s Historical Record and it is not clear what part of his entry is from the Bulletin and what part might be Kelvyn’s explanation. From the way it is written, it seems that only the last sentence is from the Bulletin. That says, “The sash is made from green silk grosgrain, backed with a green woollen fabric and interlaced with linen.” Is that right? He has not given a page reference to the Bulletin, but here is the link to it if anyone can see what page that quote is from, and if it says anything else there,

    Have you got a reference for cummerbunds not being uncommon amongst larrikins? The green sash is a cummerbund as the Benalla Museum state, and we are trying to find out where the association between the sash and the Sheltons came from, as it wasn’t even hinted at in Mrs Shelton’s 1973 letter to the Benalla Historical Society giving the history of the rescue.

    1. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

      Hi Stuart,

      The relevant page in the Bulletin is image / page 14.


      Dr Nicholson, at Benalla, has Ned Kelly’s scarf, which he took off him (Ned) at Glenrowan. It is made of green silk, trimmed with gold braid. and gold fringe at the edges.’

      So as of December 1880, Nicholson was not exactly keeping his possession of the item a secret and at this point in times it was considered a scarf and not a cummerbund or sash!

      Does seem a bit too long to be a scarf to me though – how long was the scarf Byrne was wearing? Does that offer any guidance?

  15. In Tom Prior, Bill Wannan, and Harry Nunn’s 1966 “A pictorial history of Australian bushrangers there is no mention of the Kellys at Avenel, nor of any creek rescue, nor of a sash, including nothing about a sash being taken from Kelly at Glenrowan.

    In Charles Obourne’s 1970 ‘Ned Kelly’, p. 17, he says that Kelly “was once given a green silk sash with a gold fringe in recognition for his bravery when he plunged into a creek to rescue a farmer from drowning.” It is still the adult farmer of Clune’s narrative in this mention, but with the insertion of a gift of “a green silk sash with a gold fringe” into that story, possibly derived from Kenneally, as Clune didn’t mention a sash. Where did this insertion come from?

    On p. 124 Osbourne says of the captured Kelly, “He was examined in the guard’s van by Dr. Nicolson and Dr. Hutchinson”, and there is no mention of a sash regardless that Osbourne lists Kenneally 1942 (but probably means the 1945 fourth edition as there was no edition between the third of 2934 and the fourth), who had written of the sash being taken from Kelly by Dr Nicholson.

    Osbourne notes The Age interviews printed on 30 June 1880 after the capture including Senior Constable Kelly’s which lists the possessions found on Ned when he was searched: “only threepence … a silver Geneva watch, and a lot of ammunition.” To the policeman the sash was not worth mentioning; it was just another piece of Kelly’s clothing.

    In Harry Nunn’s 1980 ‘Bushrangers: A pictorial history’, p. 146 says, “Before leaving Avenel, Ned had been presented with a green sash by farmer R.J. Shelton whose life Ned had saved when he rescued him from Hughes Creek into which he had fallen. Ned was to cherish that sash.” There is nothing more about the sash in Nunn, and the story is still essentially that related by Osborne of Kelly saving an adult farmer who himself presented a sash to his rescuer, but it clear that an association has now been claimed for a while before 1980 between a sash at Avenel and later events. There was no mention of anything to do with Avenel or sashes in the 1966 bushranger book he co-wrote.

  16. Hi Anonymous, the reply function on this blog is not working for me for the second time, so I am posting my reply separately here: Thanks for the reference to the Bulletin 25 December 1880. I had a look in Kelvyn Gill’s Historical Record and it is not clear what part of his entry is from the Bulletin and what part might be Kelvyn’s explanation. From the way it is written, it seems that only the last sentence is from the Bulletin. That says, “The sash is made from green silk grosgrain, backed with a green woollen fabric and interlaced with linen.” Is that right? He has not given a page reference to the Bulletin, but here is the link to it if anyone can see what page that quote is from, and if it says anything else there,

    Have you got a reference for cummerbunds not being uncommon amongst larrikins? The green sash is a cummerbund and we are trying to find out where the association between the sash and the Sheltons came from, as it wasn’t even hinted at in Mrs Shelton’s 1973 letter to the Benalla Historical Society giving the history of the rescue.

  17. Hi David, the blog has been colonised by some kid of wierd cartoon icons for contributors. Mine and Anonymous’s look like deranged dinosaurs with bull horns; Thomas’s looks like a cross betweeen a shocked butterfly and a bat, but yours looks like your normal icon. Can’t you give us different coloured Kelly helmets or something decent? I’ll have a top hat if you’ve got one like that!

    Does anyone have a copy of M. J. Jennings’ 1968 book “Ned Kelly, the legend and the man”, that was publishe before the green sash retuned from England to Australia, to see what she said about Richard Shelton at Avenel, and if she wrote of any connection between an Avenel sash (if there was one) and Glenrowan?

    I have just bougt a copy of Farwell’s 1970 Ned Kelly book which should be here in a week or so, and will check that when it comes. It is still not clear why Kelly historians were not making any comment about a sash being given to Kelly for rescuing Richard Shelton from the creek until the second half of the twentieth century from what we have found so far.

    Maybe someone has either a third, fifth, sixth, seventh, or eighth edition of Kenneally’s Inner History and could compare their edition with what we have found so far about the green sash. Richard Shelton and Glenrowan.. Exact quotations and page references are needed for it to be any use. I’ve done the second, fourth and ninth editions here.

  18. Stuart to Thomas says: Reply

    Hi Thomas, I too have believed since at least 2017 that the green sash came from the Shelton family’s drapery business based on McMenomy. But I can’t find that again in my 2001 revised edition of his Authentic Illustrated History. You said you have the 1984 first edition, the Authentic Illustrated Story, and you said it agreed that the sash came froma Shelton shop.

    Would you please be able to PDF scan or JPG photograph that page, and also the end of book reference note forthat, and post them on the blog? Maybe that is where I read it, before I bought my own copy of the 2001 edition.

    I have ordered a copy oif the 1984 edition from interlibrary loans, but it may take a week or two to get here. If you can help out wity this, that would be great.

    Also, apparently Edgar Penzig in his book “Bushrangers Heroes or Villains” said there was nothing to link the sash to the near drowning rescue. There are no copies of this available on interlibrary loan. Can anyone with a copy of the book please scan the page to PDF or photgraph it as a JPG and upload it here?

    P.S. Hi David, thanks for fixing the cartoon icons, now I am my happy snowflake self again!

  19. Stuart to Thomas says: Reply

    Hi again Thomas, the belief that the sash came from a Shelton family drapery business is from Ian Jones in Short Life (2008, notes on p. 428) where he says he interviewed a descendant in 1973 who thought that.

    I’d like to check if McMenomy also said that and what his reference is, or if it was Jones and I had mis-remembered it as from McMenomy. If you can have a look at McMenomy 1984 we could sort that one out.

    Now we have to ask, did the Shelton family have a drapery business in 1866 or thereabouts, or just a pub? Campion’s Store was the general store and post office in Avenel then. McMenomy who lists the buildings in Avenel at the time has nothing about a drapery business…

  20. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

    Hi Stuart,

    I’ll have a look this evening and get back to you.

    In terms of whether the Sheltons also operated a drapery business at the time, Trove not turning up any advertisements when I just now searched combinations of ‘shelton’, ‘avenel’, ‘drape’.

    1. Thanks Thomas, I found ads for his pub, and for chaff, and a couple of references to him supplying the police lock up (contact) but nothing about any drapery. Jones’s notes say he drew largely on an interview with Mrs Stan Shelton in October 1973, which is after the sash was returned to Australia that year. Mrs Harold Shelton, who wrote the letter about the rescue to the Benalla Historical Society about the rescue said nothing about it’s connection to the Glenrowan sash. They are two unconnected incidents to her. Also, no one in Avenrl in the early 1950s – not Clune, who interviewed several people including Mrs Burgoyne for his book, nor Mrs Burgoyne, whose mum went to school with Ned and who wrote the 1954 Memories of Avenel book, made any connection between the rescue and a sash. No sash was mentioned by anyone. Further, the story of those Avenel people was that Ned rescued a grown adult farmer, not a boy, from the creek. If you read what Burgoyne said, it doesn’t mention any age, just Dick Shelton. But she was one of Clune’s direct informants.

      My hypothesis at this point is that young Ned rescued young Richard who got into difficulties while playing in a waterhole on the not flooded creek. We have that from Mrs Harold Shelton’s letter. But there was no sash. No Shelton drapery business, just a hazy maybe or a ‘no idea’ from Mrs Stan Shelton when Jones pressed her to connect the Glenrowan sash with the rescue. Maybe they gave him a sash, who knows, she may have thought. And Jones thought he was onto something almost as important to him as the non-existent Kelly republic. But the other Mrs Harold Shelton knew of no such thing or she would have filled that gap in a couple of words. It is just as likely that Ned nicked the cummerbund from somewhere in 1880 when they were making and testing the armour. As someone pointed out here larrikins sometimes wore cummerbunds and there is a photo in McMenomy of Aaron Sherritt modeling one. Quite the flash lad. I’ll post tonight the structure of Clune and Burgoyne to show how we all just assumed from Burgoyne that she was talking about young Dick Shelton but Clune’s notes show that she wasn’t; he was a grown adult farmer in her understanding.

      1. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

        Hi Stuart,

        I’ve had a decent flick through McMenomy (1984) this evening but I can’t find anything about the Sheltons owing a drapery. I also think I’ve thought it was McMenomy because of your post on the blog from 2017!

        I’ll post a few relevant pages from McMenomy (I don’t have a scanner I’m afraid). Here’s the extent to which Shelton family are in the index.


        1. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

          Page 20.


          1. Anonymous says: Reply

            References for p 20.


          2. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

            References for p 20.


          3. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

            Page 24


          4. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

            page 25.


          5. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

            Page 27


          6. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

            Page 29.


          7. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

            Page 183.


          8. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

            References for p. 183.


        2. Hi Thomas, thanks heaps for those scans, and yes I was wrong in my 2017 referencing to McMenomy rather than Jones. I just looked at Short Life this morning and thought ‘clang’. I got the Clune/Burgoyne write up done tonight as you’ll see, but that’s taken over 2 hours and I’ll have to look at the new stuff tomorrow. Cheers!

  21. You two guys are doing a wonderful job and its quite exciting to see how a myth is being examined in such minute detail, and rewritten. Once again we are seeing the insidious influence of Mr Jones filling everyones minds with the results of his crap attempts at writing history…

    I am reminded of that saying about a Lie going halfway round the world while the truth is still tying up its bootlaces ….

    Catching up to the lie and correcting the record is a lot harder thing to do than spinning a fancy yarn….

    1. Hi David, I can’t jump to any conclusions yet as the evidence is still being collected to see what happens, and there’s quite a way to go. I’m just testing the mid-dishwashing hypothesis that the red sash at SBC throws a spanner in the normal run of interpretation, including that “The [green] colour was emblematic of Irish heritage. Sashes were worn around the waist and popular since the gold rush to identify national groups. By contrast, English immigrants favoured red”, McMenomy ‘Authentic Illustrated History’ revised 2001 edn, p. 17. A neat polarisation of post-goldrush fashion.

      So if Ned was Irish to his boot heels, as Ian Jones saw it, hating the Poms like crazy long before one day tests, why was he larping around Stringybark Creek in a bright red sash?

  22. Noeleen Lloyd says: Reply

    Hello again

    I have tried a number of times to post a photo of the article but to no avail ….. I keep getting ‘error’ message even when reducing size.


  23. Noeleen Lloyd says: Reply

    Hello David, Stuart, Thomas and all interested

    I have a third edition Kenneally- 1934 and it certainly references ‘The Green Silk Sash’. P229

    I can also advise that some members of the Shelton family most certainly did know of the sash and of Ned rescuing Dick.

    In 2001, ( 31 July) two surviving sons of Dick, Harold ( aged 91 )and Britt ( aged 87), gave an interview to the Melbourne Age.

    I quote…

    ‘Edward Kelly was 11 when at some risk to himself – he plucked seven year old Richard Shelton from Hughes Creek in Avenel, near Seymour…..Harold and Britt are the youngest and last survivors of Dick Shelton’s large brood. The Shelton brothers don’t recall their father ever expanding in the story although local folklore and the reminisces of their older siblings have ensured the sketchy details of that day are preserved in of Ned Kelly’s life. But the brothers do remember that all his life their father was asked about Ned Kelly and he always replied brusquely.. “He was alright’”

    ….‘Esau and Elizabeth Shelton proprietors if Avenel’s Royal Mail Hotel – presented Ned with a a special gold sash, fringed with bullion in recognition of his bravery in saving their son.

    Melbourne Age 31 July 2001

    Author- Ann Rennie

    The article then talks about the lives of the sons and the family. With a picture of the brothers. Botha still hail and hearty and self sufficient at a good age! With Harold at the time still holding his pilots license- and Dick having landed at Gallipoli o would suggest they were treasures themselves.

    Mrs Harold Shelton may indeed have had no idea as she was not one of Dick’s children – or she was not inclined to to speak out at the time.

    Noeleen Lloyd

    1. Hi Noeleen, thanks for those replies. If you are trying to post a photo of the third edition of Kenneally pages that discuss the sash and the rescue, which may or may not be on the same page, if you are using an iPhone the uploader won’t accept that image format.

      It would be great to see what Kenneally said in his third edition without having to traipse out to a uni rare book room if they’re even open in our lockdowns.

      If you were trying to upload a photo of the Age article, here is the same article from the SMH online attached.

      We can still learn interesting things about Clune and Burgoyne and Avenel regardless of what we end up finding out about the sash. I’m quite open to my hypothesis being wrong while learning other stuff on the way. I’m still keen for someone to post the page from Penzig’s Bushrangers where David was told that Penzig rejected some part of the claim, but until I see it it’s all wait and see. Now I have to type up the Clune bit.

    2. Thanks Noeleen. Ive seen that article before and I remember thinking at the time that saying Ned Kelly was “alright’ and nothing else was extremely faint praise – I wondered at the time why he may have been so reticent and considered the possibility the story might not be exactly what the Sheltons remembered but he went along with it any way. Just a random thought. Or maybe he was conflicted. by the fact he owed his life to a man who became a mass murderer?

      The other thing I would like to know from you : this “gold bullion” on the ends of the sash – is that what is still found on the sash in Benalla?

      1. Noeleen Lloyd says: Reply

        Hi David -the ‘fringe’ that is on the gold sash in Benalla is consistent with what is today, and would have been known in the 1860’s as ‘gold bullion.’

        The Benalla Gold Sash is now very darkened/stained and frayed and some what coming apart at the fringe/sash seam.

        It was probably never washed – so sweat, dirt grime, then possibly blood in the first instance- and then whatever it was subject to go the next almost 100 years- would make it lose the ‘gold’ colour’

        I am not a textile conservationist nor expert – so that is only my opinion based on working with textiles myself as an hobbyist- and understanding what wear and tear, exposure to elements and fluids, incorrect storage, neglect and age does to them.


        1. Hi Noelene, I was intending to email Benalla to ask if they have ever had an expert opinion on how much if any real gold would be in the gold coloured thread and what the weight of such gold would be, to get an idea of its gold value.

          This would sort out the difference between the monetary value of the fringes if any, and the term ‘bullion gold fringe’ which might be a description of a type of thread that didn’t actually contain gold metal. So when Kenneally says ‘a valuable bullion fringe’ does he mean worth a bit of money, which is how I read it, or valuable because precious looking. It is certainly a handsome piece.

        2. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

          Hi Noeleen,

          While the 2001 SMH article does tell the story of the by-then well accepted story of the Glenrowan sash drowning being linked to the Dick Shelton rescue, neither Harold nor Britt are quoted to that effect.

          Instead we have, ‘The brothers don’t recall their father ever expanding on the story, although local folklore and the reminiscences of their older siblings ensure that sketchy details of that day are preserved in stories of Ned Kelly’s life’.

          So we actually have the two sons confirming Dick din’t actually talk much about it or provide details to them – according to the journalist its ‘local folklore’ and a suggestion Dick had spoken to the older siblings about it in a little more detail.

          Then we have, ‘But the brothers do remember that all his life their father was asked about Ned Kelly and he always replied brusquely: “He was all right.” ‘

          So we just have Dick confirming the famous criminal who saved his life when both were kids was ‘was alright’. As David says, damning with faint praise.

          All in all the article, to my mind, the article does not suggest a rich family oral tradition linking the Glenrowan sash with the rescue (or any sash for that matter) or even of there being a particularly rich family oral tradition surviving to the early 2000s.

          Worth remembering Harold was born c 1910 and Britt c 1914, so Dick was already in his mid 50s when they were born and probably their memories or him would be when they were little and he was in his 60s.

          I’d love to know what was said in the full interview rather that getting the one line quote and the tiny bit of context. A shame we don’t even know the journo.

  24. Noeleen Lloyd says: Reply

    Thanks Stuart.

    iPhone is the issue then. I will have to wait until I log back into the laptop tomorrow to up load.


  25. Returning to continue the comments I posted at 3:05pm today about Clune and Burgoyne at Avenel:

    Clune wrote in his ‘Kelly Hunters’ 1954 p. 54, “At Avenel, Ned Kelly, matured beyond his age by the worries and responsibilities that fate had thrust upon, him, suddenly achieved local renown — for a deed of courage. A farmer, R. J. Shelton, fell into Hughes Creek, and was on the point of drowning, when Ned Kelly plunged into the water and pulled the man to the bank. It was only an Incident in pioneering history, of no sensational import in the nation’s annals— but to be remembered and vouched for by Shelton and his descendants in later years, when Ned Kelly’s courage was being directed into more desperate courses.” Note that Clune has Kelly rescuing a grown adult farmer. And there is no sash mentioned.

    Clune’s reference note for Avenel on p. 341 says, “For information of the Kellys at Avenel I am obliged to Mrs A.J. Burgoyne, whose mother, Mrs Price (nee Mutton) went to school with Ned Kelly; to Mr C.H. Lefoe, head teacher of Avenel State School; to Senior Constable Albert Thompson, of Kilmore and First-class Constable William Reid, of Avenel; and to Mr Pat Kelly, retired bank manager, the son of Michael Kelly, of Avenel. I have some information also from articles the Leader newspaper, 19th July and 8th November 1930, and Weekly Times (Melbourne), 17th and 24th May 1930”. So five people who knew the Avenel Kelly story very well, so they believed. And from his discussions the Avenel informants said Ned rescued a grown man who clearly couldn’t swim and was on the point of drowning by pulling him to the creek bank, one of whom – Mrs Burgoyne – had a mum that went to school with Ned.

    We know that Richard Shelton went to the same primary school as Ned and two siblings, and that Richard was younger, when the rescue happened back around 1866. We know that in early 1950s Avenel, people including Mrs Burgoyne remembered the tale almost 90 years after the event with little enough accuracy that Ned was thought to have rescued grown farmer Shelton, not young Richard. Mrs Burgoyne, who was one of Clune’s direct informants, published her on book, Memories of Avenel, in 1954, the same year as Clune’s book. The extract where she mentions Kelly in passing is on this blog page. What she said is, “The [Kelly] children were well behaved and Ned Kelly was a very brave lad. At risk of his own life he saved Dick Shelton from drowning in Hughes Creek.”

    Once again, Clune was informed by Burgoyne. She doesn’t say Dick was an adult rather than a boy; it was obvious to everyone in Avenel who shared that town history 90 years on. That’s why Clune accepted it. We know now Richard was then a boy, and the approximate ages of both boys from the 1973 Mrs Harold Shelton Benalla letter and possibly other sources. But in early 1950s Avenel they thought Kelly pulled a man to the creek bank, the story that Clunes related after his interviews. We have seen that understanding, that Kelly rescued grown farmer Shelton, in later Kelly authors. And again, there is nothing about any sash.

    We see Burgoyne’s phrase “at risk of his own life” quoted by McMenomy 2002 p. 21 in his write-up of the rescue and sourced to her book. I’m sure he wasn’t aware that she was actually “recalling” the rescue of a grown man, farmer Shelton, which we learn from Clune’s text and reference notes.

    Another interesting thing: Clune wrote about the youthful Kelly’s courage, that it was “to be remembered and vouched for by Shelton and his descendants in later years, when Ned Kelly’s courage was being directed into more desperate courses.” Compare that phrasing with Jones ‘Short Life’ 2008 p. 26-27, who makes the green sash, that did not exist in the Clune or Burgoyne accounts, the centrepiece of his tale: :”The sash would remain one of Ned’s most treasured possessions, to be worn only on very special occasions. [i.e. it was never again heard of.] It exists to this day … last worn by Ned on a day when all his courage was needed.” He’s based the courage phrasing on Clune. By 1980 he was sure enough of the Avenel sash story to write it into his 1980 essay ‘Ned Kelly: the man’, in ‘The Last Outlaw’ book, p. 5: in Avenel, “Ned went to the local school and was awarded a green silk sash (which he was wearing when shot down at Glenrowan) for saving a boy from drowning.”

    But before the sash was returned to Australia in 1973, an association of it with Avenel seems not to have existed, unless we can trace a clear link in Kenneally up to or including his eighth (1969) edition. In the introduction to ‘Man & Myth’, the 1968 publication of papers from the 1967 Wangaratta Kelly seminar initiated by Jones, editor Colin Cave wrote “Kelly had a reputation for gentleness and trust in his fellow-men. … He was supposed to have saved a child from drowning in his early youth.” No sash.

    I would have to read the entire book again to see if there is any mention of an Avenel sash, but I don’t recall one. There is no mention of it in his ‘New view if Ned Kelly’ chapter which lists everything positive he can think of about Kelly’s character. Did Jones insert a story of the sash into the Avenel rescue after its return to Australia in 1973, the same as he inserted a sympathiser army into his version of the text of the Second Progress Report’s description of Kelly’s Glenrowan plan? Is it another Kelly fiction? Surely that’s a question worth a bit more investigation.

  26. Stuart re Clune refs says: Reply

    Clune has references to two newspapers in his Avenel notes. The first is to the Leader newspaper, 19th July and 8th November 1930. It is not the NSW Leader, which I checked, and in the Melbourne one 1930 is not digitised. Someone may have a copy, otherwise it will mean a possible trip to the State Library microfilms one day, but I suspect it wll be just general interest stuff about Avenel because of the below.

    His other reference is to the Weekly Times (Melbourne), 17th and 24th May 1930. This is a two part long article on the history of Seymour. There is nothing in these about the Avenel rescue, but the photo of the old Mansfield police station during the Kelly hunt from the 17 May 1930 issue p 10 should interest people here.


  27. Noeleen Lloyd says: Reply

    Good morning Stuart

    1934 edition of JJ Kenneally p 229 under the heading of ‘The Green Silk Sash’.
    Kenneally writes …
    ‘Ned Kelly saved the life of a boy that has fallen into a flooded creek. The boy’s father was so grateful for Ned’s heroic rescue of his son that he decided to make Ned a present of a very valuable “Green silk sash with a heavy gold bullion fringe”.’

    P 230
    ‘ While Dr. John Nicholson of Benalla, was removing Ned’s clothing, he saw the beautiful Sash, and removing it, rolled it up and put it in his pocket.’

    Kenneally has placed quotation marks around the …green silk sash on page 229 …. suggestive that it is being quoted from another source.


    1. Stuart to Noeleen says: Reply

      Hi Noeleen, that sounds like it scuttles my theory! Is there any chance of a screenshot, together with one of the edition and date page for the record?

    2. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

      Thanks Noeleen!

      So (to date) 15 September 1934 seems to be the first time the Shelton sash and the Glenrowan sash are linked.

      The article from the Chronicle which refers to Kenneally founding ‘”The Ned Kelly Defence League,” the main object of which is to secure Kelly’s boots, armor, green silk sash, and other relics, and restore them to his descendants’ is from 31 May 1934.

      Perhaps someone approached Kenneally with information linking the sash and the Shelton rescue in June – August 1934, i.e. in the aftermath of the Defence League being founded?

      1. Interesting. We would need to know the publication date of the third edition and the date of the launch of the League. But that still might not be conclusive given that books have to be set up and printed even as rush jobs, although Hall’s Outlaws 1879 was done really fast

        1. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

          Hi Stuart,

          Ninth edition (February 1980) of TIHKG has the third edition being published on 15 September 1934 (photo below).

          In terms of founding date of NKDL, the sentence ‘It will come as a surprise to most people to learn that a society has been
          formed, entitled “The Ned Kelly Defence League”’ suggests to me that the League had only recently been formed, with the purpose of the article being to inform the public of said formation.

          Unless we can find anything earlier, I think May 1934 seems to be a fair guess re the founding date of the NKDL.


  28. Noeleen Lloyd says: Reply

    I neglected to add that Kenneally documents in the 1934 edition that Dr Nicholson’s son took the Sash to England in 1901 and that sadly he drowned in 1910.

    P 230…
    ‘The sash was handed to his sister, Mrs R Graham Pole – to whom application as been made for it’s return to Mr Jim Kelly.’

    1. Hi Noeleen, what I’ve done for photos (as I have a iPhone too) is put the picture in a Word document then save it as a PDF, which will upload.

      Here’s another article saved as a Word document that I re-saved as a PDF

      1. Noeleen Lloyd says: Reply

        I can easily do that on my lap top Stuart – but confess to not using my IPhone full capabilities- and not knowing how to do so.

        I will test drive it some more – but if all else fails I will upload manually via laptop.

        Some technology cones easy – other eludes me.


        1. Stuart to Noeleen says: Reply

          Hi Noeleen, that would be great. I will do a full draft write-up of what this investigation has shown, which still leads to some significant corrections to the generally held narrative, and put it on the blog.

          The Anonymous never got back with a page reference to the December 1880 Bulletin article mentioned in p. 5 of Kelvyn’s Historical Record, so I will have to read that to find what it said.

          I’ve ordered the 1968 history of Seymour book that Clune referenced, which shouldn’t take too long to get to the library, and I still want a copy of the page from Penzig’s Bushrangers book that mentions the sash according to some who told David that. Those things should pretty well tie it up.

          I’ll also type out the 1973 handwritten letter from Mrs Harold Shelton to the Benalla museum that I uploaded here, as it adds some important detail to the story.

          It will be interesting to see if Kenneally’s third edition 1934 includes his 1945 and later location of the rescue in Wallan too.

          1. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

            Hi Stuart,

            I thought I had posted this a day or so ago. The page reference to the December 1880 Bulletin article is page / image 14.

            ‘Dr. Nicholson, at Benalla has Ned Kelly’s scarf, which he took off him (Ned) at Glenrowan. It is made of green silk, trimmed with gold braid. and gold fringe at the edges.’

          2. Hi Thomas thanks for the Bulletin page reference. The Anonymous post just referred to Kelvyn’s Historical Record which doesn’t give a page number in the Bulletin. I might have missed if you also posted about it as there have been a lot of posts!

          3. Stuart to T and NL says: Reply

            Hi Thomas and Noeleen, here is the Bulletin text re Dr Nicholson taking Ned Kelly’s scarf. 25 December 1880, p. 14 as Thomas said.
            Here is a line for the larrikins!


  29. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

    I thought I had in bed last night. Funny that the Kelly Outbreak began with a red sash (SBC) and ended with with a red scarf and candle (Curnow).

    1. All started by Red Kelly???

  30. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

    What ever became of Curnow’s red scarf? There’s some articles in trove about it – or pieces of it – still being around in 1930 and 40s.

    ‘Relic of Kelly Gang – Echo of Gienrowan

    A relic of unusual Interest to Australians, recalling as it does the stirring days when Ned Kelly and his gang of bushrangers defied the police of New South Wales and Victoria, is a narrow strip of red. cloth which is in the possession of Mr. and Mrs. E.
    Dalzell, of Jane Street, Toowong, The relic, which Is about 12 Inches long and two Inches, wide, originally formed part of the scarf which Mr, Curnow, the schoolmaster at Glenrowan, used to bind around his lantern when, on Monday, Juno 28, 1880, he warned the police who were being rushed to Glenrowan by special train, that the Kelly gang had torn up part of the railway line a few miles from the township.
    Mrs. Dalzell said that the relic was given to her by Mrs. H. Thompson, of
    Marsdon Street, Albion, whose husband received it from his lifelong friend, Mr, Curnow, over 45 years ago.

    ‘W.A. Man’s Relic Of Kelly Gang’s Last Stand (10 Aug 1947)

    Tucked in the pocketbook of 77-year-old Bassendean builder, Mr. W. H. Bond is a relic of Australian history. lt is a piece of the red scarf with which schoolmaster Thomas Curnow foiled Ned Kelly’s plan to wreck a trainload of soldiers at
    Glenrowan on June 28, 1880. Mr. Bond remembers how Curnow was sent to Portland, Victoria, by the authorities to escape the wrath of Kelly’s friends.
    He gave a piece of the historic scarf to Mr. Bond’s parents. It has been in
    Mr. Bond’s possession for 50 years’.

    1. Hi Thomas, next time you’re down the op-shop, have a look for the kind of fabric in the photo and make yourself a Curnow souvenir. It’s like every good Aussie should have a piece of the Eureka flag. Take a photo of the space where one of the bits is missing next time you’re in Ballarat and look for the some blue fabric that size…

      The SLNSW page link to the Curnow shawl fragment is


  31. Noeleen Lloyd says: Reply

    Hi again

    I can attest (from Curnow/ Mortimer descendants) that the red scarf was cut up and given to various family members.

    I have seen and held a piece, interesting texture and colour in reality. Definitely woollen and definitely red – but not ‘fire engine red’.

    Judith Douthie née Mortimer displays the piece that she was loaned for the documentary ‘Outlawed’.

    As friends we have had many a discussion about this story.

    Those pieces are now back with the original, and private, family members.

    Sad that the scarf is not all in one piece, but I understand it was split up so that all family members had a piece.


  32. Stuart to Thomas says: Reply

    Hi Thomas, that column you found that mentioned the Ned Kelly Defence League has another interesting piece,

    Chronicle – Adelaide – 1934-05-31 Thursday 31 May 1934 page 50
    INTERESTING PEOPLE In All Parts Of Australia
    Mr. Edward Coulson, the Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Victoria, has just been installed as Grand Master for the 36th time in succession. Mr. Coulson, who is a native of Newcastle-on-Tyne, after some years at sea, went gold-digging in Australia. Then he started storekeeping at Everton in Victoria, and had the distinction of having his store robbed by the Kelly gang. He was also present when Ned Kelly was wounded and captured at Glenrowan.

    We keep hearing that the Kelly gang weren’t bushrangers, they didn’t do highway and store robbery, only robbed the banks. That always sounded sus. If Everton correctly indentified the gang who robbed his store (if it wasn’t some other gang), that rasises another question mark over Saint Ned to investigate one day.

  33. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

    Hi Stuart,

    Here’s another account of the Kelly Gang robbing the Everton store.

    ‘It was while in business at Everton that Mr Coulson store was stuck
    up by tho Kelly gang, and robbed of food and goods, which tho outlaws
    required on the way to Jerilderie, N.S.W., where they held up a bank.’

    1. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

      Hi Stuart,

      I’ve now found this contemporaneous account of the Kelly Gang at Everton from November 1878.


      ‘ Leaving Oxley and Milawa, I drove along the plains, a distance of eight miles north
      eastward, till I arrived at Moore’s Pioneer Hotel, near the crossing over the Ovens River. Here I ascertained that the statement that three or four armed men passed that place two nights after the murder was correct. They roused up the landlord between three and four o’clock in the morning, and he supplied them with, brandy. One man called at the door whilst three or four others waited a short distance down the road, near the Ovens- bridge. Their appearance did not excite suspicion at that time, and it was not until a few days afterwards that the circumstance was reported to the police. From there we proceeded across the Ovens River towards the Everton railway station, on the Beechworth line.

      … The appearance of these four armed men at the Pioneer Hotel that night tallies with the evidence of residents of Everton, the railway town, at which I arrived shortly afterwards. Mr Coulson, a storekeeper in that locality, informed me that on the morning of the same day that these men were seen at the Pioneer-bridge three or four men called at his store in Everton and asked for oats and sardines. That was between five and six o’clock. The description of one of the men coincides with that of the younger Kelly. ‘

      Maybe it wasn’t a robbery after all and Coulston later decided being robbed by the Kellys made for a great story.

      Or maybe Coulston was afraid to report it as such at the time?

      1. Hi Thomas, that’s very interesting. I wonder if the Police Gazette names any of the gang as being wanted for the Everton robbery, or names anyone else. It’s a pity the Gazette isn’t online.

  34. Here is the sash with colours typical of the way photos of it are most commonly reproduced, a brighter green than in real life. This pic is from Wikipedia and reproduced under the creative commons licence it says to mention.

    You can see a similar lustral greenness in the double page colour photo of the sash in McMenomy’s Authentic Illustrated Hisory (2001), pp 204-205.

    May be time for jokes about polarised Kelly pics…


    1. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

      Hi Stuart,

      Is your point that the photo is often reproduced in a way which makes it appear more green (and romantic) than it really is?

      The way its displayed seems a little back-to-front to me giving the less-green underside so much prominence but I guess that’s where all the blood is.

      1. Hi Thomas, yes that’s what struck me about most of the photos of it that I’ve seen, it’s more green and hence romanticised. Some cameras do not reproduce colour shades well and background light or artificial lights of course also influence the photographs, and so does the colour reproduction process in printing, do there could be layers of factors, yet practically all photos seem to be surprisingly greener than real life where the over 140 years old material is naturally faded. I haven’t yet been able to find the pics I took myself of it in Benalla, but I will keep looking when I have a moment. The best naturalistic photo on google was the real estate table photo; if I didn’t put that up yet I will tonight.

  35. Stuart 1973 Shelton letter says: Reply

    Hi all, I said that I would transcribe the 1973 letter from Mrs Harold Shelton to the Benalla Historical Society about the cummerbund. For convenience, I have reattached the letter scan below. Here we go:

    Dear Sir,

    As the disclosure of the Ned Kelly cummerbund has created so much interest I thought perhaps your society would be interested in having more accurate details of the “rescue incident” at Avenel. As you probably know in three of Frank Clune’s books he refers to Mr Shelton as a young man, and so does H. G. Martindale in his book New Crossing Place when quoting Clune, although he amends this in his Appendix.

    Herewith briefly are the facts as known by the surviving sons and daughters of Mr Shelton. Their father was born in March 1860, and according to Clune, Nee Kelly in 1855. The Kellys were last heard of in Avenel about May 1867, thus it is taken that the two were approximately almost 7 and twelve. Mr Shelton was playing in the creek near a waterhole and got out of his depth and was most decidedly helped out by Ned Kelly. However we do feel that perhaps the account as recalled by Mr Shelton’s sister Agnes is probably the clearest.

    She used to say that her brother was playing by the creek on a hot summer’s day wearing a large “Sailor hat”; which he left on the bank. Apparently Ned Kelly saw the hat, thought something was wrong, looked and found the boy in difficulties and got him out of the waterhole. Miss Shelton lived to be almost 90 and was always in complete command of her faculties, so we do feel that what she recalled was the complete picture of the incident.

    Naturally the cummerbund has aroused our curiosity, and to my knowledge I haven’t heard it mentioned at any time. However as my husband and I visit Benalla every 4th weekend, perhaps we could contact someone in your society who could give us (P.T.O) some details. Wishing your society even more success in the future,
    Very truly yours, V[illegible] Shelton.

  36. Stuart on Farwell again says: Reply

    I did a short review of Farwell 1970 “Ned Kelly” in the Thomas McIntyre Part 1 section (24 Oct 21). On this page I will add that there is no mention of Kelly’s sash either at Avenel or Glenrowan in Farwell, nor anything about him rescuing Dick Shelton from the creek. But he had read Kenneally, so it seems that and the sash were not worth a mention to him in 1970, regardless that he is consistently pro Kelly throughout.

  37. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

    A recent account from the Telegraph, 9 October 2013 based on an interview with Bluey Shelton (Richard’s great-grandson).

    In this version we have, ‘[Esau] married Irishwoman Margaret Johnson. She brought two green sashes from the Emerald Isle with her and it was one of these that was presented to Kelly when he saved their son Richard from drowning in Hughes creek’.

    1. Stuart to Thomas says: Reply

      Hi Thomas, that’s a fantastic find. I think that nails it. There is no reason to question that bit of family history, which is consistent with the 1973 Shelton letter and fillls the gap about where the sash came from. It also answers other theories, like the one that the sash was made by the original Mrs Shelton from some curtain material, which reeks of implausibility, and does away with the other theory that the pub-owning Sheltons also happened to own a drapery business when no such store existed in 1860s Avenel. Bare in mind that both those theories were also sourced from Shelton descendants, and that oral history is notoriously unreliable especially when it concerns people linking their ancestors to famous events or people. It would be great to have that history further corroborated by something from a few decades ago or earlier. Uncorroborated family history tales are often nonsense – Molony built a whole false tale about Kally’e hanging on one such “memory”, as I discussed in my “Ned Kelly’s last words” article.

      There are still several mysteries abouit the sash story that need to be set out clearly, ands I am working on that as time permits, but it will take a while to set it out. And I’m still hoping Noeleen will upload that two-page scan from 1934 Kenneally, or some of my write-up will have to wait until I can get to the rare books room.

  38. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

    Thanks Stuart,

    It does fill a few gaps quite well, though I agree it would be better to have found something from an earlier oral account. I also wonder what became of the second sash. Sadly, we can go back to Ian ‘Bluey’ Shelton as he died earlier this year aged 81 (24 February 1940 – 17 March 2021). Perhaps another family member might know.

    I also think I made a minor mistake above, Ian ‘Bluey’ Shelton was Richard’s grandson. Still trying to wrap my head around the family tree. Lots of footballers!

    1. There might be something in Eugenie Navarre’s Knight in Kelly Armour book which I will pick up from the library on the weekend. (I wouldn’t pay for it, having read it a few years ago; I don’t have time to critique all the nonsense people told her.) It might have some Shelton memories, I can’t recall off hand. If there is anything useful I’ll post it.

  39. OK, today I got Navarre’s “Ned: Night in Aussie Armour” from the library, and there is nothing about Avenel or the green sash in it, which is pretty amazing for a book published in 2016 when Shelton descendants were around and being interviewed with high visibilty, e.g. Bendigo Advertiser 28 March 2015, Kelly descendants share connection,

    I guess that’s what happens when your introduction says, “Initially this book began with no real purpose or direction.” Perhaps a bit more research would have helped when setting out to present “the memoirs of many families who have gone public for the firat time”. And boy did they tell some beauties – several of them are descended from people who claim to have met Dan Kelly after he escaped from Glenrowan when the Inn was burnt down. Quite a few of them seem to have been keen to be photographed to appear in a Real Australian History Book. How nice, to be a part of history by telling hand-me-down porkies and leg-pullers from the old generations. On page 77 we learn that Ned “had been apprenticed in stone masonry while at Pentridge [Prison] as a young lad, having helped build the Pentridge well and a bridge over the Yarra River.”

    Where do people get this crap from? Ned was gaoled as a teenager for 3 years, from roughly 16 to 19 years old. His prison record shows he was sentenced on 2 August 1871 and went to Beechworth Gaol. On 19 February 1873 he was sent to Pentridge. On the 26 June 1873 naughty Ned was sent to the prison hulk Sacamento, presumably because hge didn’t behave in Pentridge and the hulks were a refractory punishment. On 25 September 1873 Ned was sent to the Williamstown Battery where he broke road gravel at the Alfred Graving Dock. He was freed by remission on 2 February 1874, so had more or less behaved himself for five months after he got out of the hulk.

    Is anyone seriously going to claim that Ned learned enough stonemasonry in five months to be building wells and doing bridge work on the Yarra, let alone enough to build a stone house at Winton? The Geelong Gaol people told me it took one man one day to make one of the bluestone blocks in its walls. And that’s rough stonecutting; professional, government-employed stonemasons did the finishing work, not lunkheads like Kelly. On Tuesday 13 January 1874 Kelly was reported in the Williamstown Governor’s diary for “disobediance on the works this day”. The works were breaking stones into small pieces (breaking spalls), not learning stonemasonry. The stonemasonry tale is just ridiculous.

    Some of the interviewees were descendants of families who – surprise, surprise – were Kelly sympathisers: “These hard-done-by settlers turned activists had a dream, akin to Ned, of creating a safe place, the Republic of North East Victoria”. Fetch a barf bucket someone, quick.

    Perhaps the best example of useless padding is the full page photo on page 70 of a mansion near Rutherglen with the caption, “Ned Kelly worked for the Morris family before this house was built.” Right, so Ned worked in a … a field. A field that this full page photo of a big brick house had nothing to do with because it didn’t even exist then. So why is this photo in the book? You might as well take a photo of Coles Wangaratta and say Ned Kelly rode through this district frequently. OMG. I’ll give it back to the library tomorrow.

  40. One last page scan before taking the Navarre book back. On page 87, in a section on “Favourite pubs”, meaning pubs the Kelly gang, and of course especially Ned, were said to have drunk at, we have “The Murmungee”, with a photo of an old building. This is not the Murmungee pub. It is a photo of Orton House, Murmungee, “close to where the Murmungee Hotel once stood.” OK, so not a photo of the pub Ned once stopped at. Then we read the text, and it turns out that nothing remains of Murmingee at all except its old school, which may or may not date back to the Kelly gang period as the author doesn’t tell us. Nor did she photograph the only building still at Murmungee.

    What we have, all said, is a page on the claimed Kelly-associated and long gone Murmudgee Hotel with a quarter page photo of some other building that had no connection to the Kellys and which doesn’t now exist itself. I wish I could get royalties for doing this sort of thing. I’d have a photo of some houses across the road from Pentridge that were built in the early twentieth century and say, “Mrs Smith’s house is approximately opposite where the now demolished C division cell block at Pentridge was where Ned Kelly was once imprisoned”.

    Back to the Murmungee tale. We learn from “the late Mrs Dorothy Orton” several things that are then quoted on that page. Was a seance involved? Mrs Orton said, amongst other things, that “when the Kellys were around everyone locked their doors”. That doesn’t sound too much like the people around Murmugeee were sympathisers. Then we get a total classic: “Initially when I came here no-one would admit to being related to Ned, then it became more fashionable”, Mrs Orton said. Can anyone make sense of this? When the Kellys were about everyone locked their doors, but at the same time many of them were related to Ned. … Because it became fashionable… Barf.

    Next is a handed down tale that Ned had a feed and a drink at the long-vanished and not photographed Murmungee Hotel while on the run, then said, “When I leave here you just didn’t see me”. OK Ned. OK descendants.

    Everyone interested in Kelly tales should read the page in Joy and Prior 1963 referenced properly in my Republic Myth book, that practically everyone they met in Euroa in their early 1960s visit claimed to have had a great- uncle visiting the bank when the Kellys bailed it up, or an great-aunt who was helping make scones in the farmhouse kitchen, or some such nonsense. More barf. Book going back to library ASAP

  41. Here are a few pages from Martindale’s old history of Seymour, with all the mentions of the Sheltons. Ther is nothing about the sash anywhere althoughn he does mention the rescue of Richard Shelton by Kelly on 48, and he has some corrections of Clune’s 1954 Kelly Hunters on pp. 178-179.

  42. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

    ‘… Ned and a sister attended school in the village. At one time, probably later when Ned was passing through Avenel, Ned rescued Richard Shelton from drowning in Hughes Creek.’

    So is Martindale suggesting the rescue may have happened after Ned and the Kellys left Avenel (c 1867 ) and probably occurred at a time when Ned was ‘passing through’?

    Or does Martindale just mean the rescue probably occurred ‘sometime later’ from the time Ned and his sister (assume Margaret) were attending ‘school in the village’?

  43. Hi Thomas, I took it simply to mean the latter, some time after Kelly had left school and was passing through Avenel township which they lived a little out of, but before the Kellys moved north from Avenel in 1867. That also involves rejecting the idea someone had that Kelly was on his way to school when the rescue happened. That was always unlikely given the approximate age of the boys from Mrs. Harold Shelton’s letter and that Ned Kelly was only in the Avenel primary school for a couple of years. Plus, if it had been a school day, Richard wouldn’t have been playing in a waterhole with his sailors hat nearby. There was another theory that Kelly was delivering milk; but why would he be doing that on foot? That’s not logical. We’ll probably never know, and that’s fine!

  44. Hi all,
    I’ve always thought that the Kelly sash was most likely one belonging to a Wangarratta Hibernian. It seems less likely that a Shelton sash would have survived the years; the itinerant life, the gaolings, the burning of the Goldseeker Inn, etc.

    Each St Patrick’s Day the Hibernian Society marched assertively, even defiantly, down the main street of Wang wearing their long green sashes with gold trim – just like Kelly’s.

    The Hibernian Catholic Benefit Society, established in Wangaratta in 1871, provided medical insurance for Catholic, ie. Irish, working men. The Irish were refused membership of other Benefit Societies, and Protestants were refused membership of the Hibernians. For public consumption Society rules forbade political discussion, but reported speeches clearly demonstrate the degree of hate felt for English oppression in Ireland. At the founding meeting of the Society the toast was drunk not to “the Queen”, but to “the Government”, which led to loud accusations that the Society was a Fenian front committed to armed rebellion in Ireland.

    Wherever the green sash came from, similar as it was to the proudly Irish Hibernian sash, it obviously bore some important symbolism for Kelly, and perhaps others.

    1. Hi Perc, it is not obvious that the sash bore any important symbolism for Kelly if one discounts any alleged Hibernian associations. One should discount them first, as there is no Shelton tradition of them anywhere, and second, because such claimed Hibernation associations were explored at length on this blog a couple of years ago and found wanting. If you use the search box for ‘green sash’ you can probably find that discussion. It largely revolved around the fact that Hibernian sashes were embroidered with symbols and the Shelton sash isn’t. Third, we have the plausible descendants story of the origins of the sash being brought out from Ireland by the lass who subsequently married Richard’s father. All three points have to be rejected in order to make a claim of Hibernianism. And fourth, where is there any evidence that any of the Kellys were ever involved in any Hibernian meeting or activity? Or any of their close relatives? I’m afraid that theory has nothing to support it, but it is not the first time it has been raised. And fifth, how come he wore a red sash at SBC? Unless it was a symbolic redcoat rebellion against the Irish police that were searching for him, LOL!

      1. Hi Stuart, I thought I’d discounted the likelihood, in my view, of the sash being Shelton’s. I would similarly discount, along with you, the idea that Ned was an Hibernian. But there would have been Hibernians amongst the older members of the Irish community – the Wangaratta district had a solid membership of local working men. It makes sense to me that Kelly might have come by it through one of them, not everyone in Greta known to Kelly was a thug. The fact that Kelly’s sash lacked the embroidery of some doesn’t mean much – they came in a wide variety of embellishments. It seems to me that donning an Irish green sash before Glenrowan, wherever it came from, is likely to have been symbolic for the son of an Irish convict who was, in his apparent view, in part squaring the ledger for English atrocities in Ireland. He may have had, as Morrissey claimed, a bog-Irish view of Irish history, but it was a view not of his alone – see the many St Pat’s Day speeches deploring English behaviour overlooked by Morrissey. He probably wore a red sash at Stringybark because he liked the look of it – preparing for Glenrowan is likely, I’d suggest, to have been given more thought.
        But then again, maybe he just grabbed it for padding – in which case, why all this extraordinary discussion?

        1. Stuart to Perc and Thomas says: Reply

          Hi Perc, I saw that you discounted the sash being the Shelton’s but there seems to be a long tradition among the Sheltons that it was, the most convincing being as a I discussed above, that it was one of two brought out from Ireland way back then. I started this post by questioning the idea that the Glenrowan sash was the same one given to Ned Kelly at Avenel by the Sheltons, but after about a week or two of looking into it, I am pretty sure the Shelton tradition is on good grounds. At any rate, there is no point spending any more time questioning it after Thomas found that 2013 Sheltion article.

          I am very sceptical that it was a Hibernian sash. The question was discussed by various people on this blog back in 2017 and my comment about a source for dobting that is here,
 The surrounding posts are also relevant. So for me, I reject that for the reasons given. Hibernian sashes were embroidered accordingly. An unembroidered sash is the material base for an embroidered sash, and that is all.

          We can not know what the Kellys may have grabbed from the old hotel they were camped in with the Lloyds in 1868 when it was set on fire. I can’t pursue that.

          I can’t see any squaring of ledgers for events in old Ireland at Glenrowan, simpy because Kelly never said one political word about anything the whole two days he was there, and neither did any of the others. There were plenty of Irish background folk bailed up at the Inn, but not a word anywhere about Irish politics, including from Byrne.

          It’s back to padding for the armour, the only explanation that makes sense given the way i was wrapped around him. There is nothing symbolic about it or any such statement anywhere then or after capture. As I mentioned, he never even said he missed it.

          Why the discussion? Because of Jones’ romanticised association between the rescuing of young Shelton and what Jones repeatedly described as Kelly’s “Glenrowan campaign”, based on his republic myth nonsense.

          1. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

            Hi Stuart,

            I think you’re right and that the case for it being Hibernian is very unlikely (though can see the face value similarity – sans embodied emblem), especially given we now have a family folklore which squares the various questions. Having said that, I have two thoughts. First is that it does surprise me the sash survived the arson attack on the pub the Kelly family was living in in 1868. I guess the family was able to save some valuable items or perhaps had stuff stored elsewhere? Second is the theory it was merely worn as padding for the armour. What do we have to support this idea? As far as I’m aware it comes from Leo Kennedy’s Black Snake, does it have a source anywhere earlier? Why does the way the sash was worn suggest it had to be padding? Was there another way to wear it? Why couldn’t it just have either had sentimental (if not Irish nationalist) sentiment or else have just been a flash item of clothing?

          2. Stuart to Thomas says: Reply

            Hi Thomas, in support of the proposition that the sash was simply padding under Kelly’s armour, we have Kenneally 1929 quoted above but in particular the lines, “Dr. Nicholson failed to mention anything in the foregoing affidavit about the ‘green silk sash’ … which Ned Kelly wore inside his outer clothing when captured at Glenrowan. The doctor removed the sash when he was stripping Ned Kelly.” So insifde his outer clothes, not worn dramatically on the outside like he did with the red sash at SBC.

            There is also a video on YouTube about the armour where a guy puts on a replica and jumps around in the bush then talks about how heavy and uncomfortable it was to wear. I can’t find it off-hand. It is obvious that padding would make a difference to comfort. Kelly of course had a knotted skull cap to pad his head against the helmet.

            I’ve attached what I wrote about the sash in August 2018 below. I had drafted these thoughts about it a couple of years previously, when I saw the photo of the lady draped in the sash in Meredith and Scott’s book. Leo Kennedy’s Black Snake came out later in 2018. It is obviously possible for two or several people to have similar thoughts at the same time, as with the invention of the telephone in two different countries about the same time; the same for the first movie cameras. Not that I’m claiming any such technical expertise, but I think it’s obvious that it was padding from Kenneally’s descriptions, and from the fact that in all the months afterwards he never said a word about its being takien, suggesting it had no symbolic or sentimental significance then. That’s what led to me questioning whether they were the same sash in the first place.

            The onus rests on Jones and his followers to provide grounds for the significance they claim other than a mawkish sentimentality for anything to do with Kelly. Nowhere is there any grounds based on evidence for such a ludicrous claim as it entirely stems from Jones’ wish to believe that Kelly was leading a republican charge at Glenrowan rather than what it was, and what Kelly repeatedly said himself at the time that it was, revenge on the police for gaoling his mother. He would send them to hell, he said.

            Remember that the suits of armour were designed to be worn only to travel from the Inn where they were put on, to the Glenrown rail bend where the gang were to stand on the culvert and shoot down into the derailed police train and kill any survivors, as explained and demonstrated on video by John McQuilton. Anything outside of that is simple-minded romanticism. There was never any “last stand” in the narrative as Kelly told it to the captives while waiting for the train to arrive. That is all fluff and hooey based on Kelly’s twisted later stories trying to justify or exonerate himself from responsibility for his bizzare psychopathy.


          3. Hi Stuart,

            I think most people can agree that Glenrowan wasn’t an attempt to establish a republic anywhere; that, as Kelly said, it was revenge on the police, and perhaps some attempt to bargain for the release of his mother. And I agree, you can make an argument that Kelly was suffering some serious mental instability in pursuing his course of action.

            But the assertion that the sash bore no symbolic or sentimental significance to him seems to me to be quite silly.

            If the sash worn at Glenrowan was the Shelton sash then it had had an extraordinary journey to get there, and must have been quite precious to Kelly and to the family. Shelton was English. For him to have presented an adult’s green sash with gold braid to the young son of an Irish convict, that act in itself, and in the context of the times, was an extraordinary acknowledgement of Kelly’s as a person and as the son of an Irish convict. The Irish in 1860s Victoria sat barely above Chinese and Aboriginal folk in the English establishment’s hierarchy. Irish Convicts and their kin were somewhere lower again. If Esau Shelton gave an Irish-green sash to a young Irish Australian he was making a rare and significant statement of respect to a poverty-stricken, disparaged, and shunned young family.

            If the sash made it to Glenrowan it then survived the wagon journey from Avenal to Greta, with young Ellen having to pack-up, organise and shepherd her kids through all that. It then survived the burning of the Inn – with someone having to rush about collecting any valuables before the fire took hold of a building housing seventeen kids. The stay in Wangaratta followed, then the move to Lurg, then to the second Kelly hut. It remained safe in the hut while Kelly was off with Power, while he was in gaol, while he was off working. Finally it was kept safe, in that tiny hut which Morrissey and yourself describe as a place of perpetual drunken debauchery frequented by prostitutes and thugs. And you’re now saying that having been carefully kept safe through all this that it held no value for Kelly and his family, either symbolically or sentimentally? I find that extraordinary.

            And if the sash worn at Glenrowan wasn’t Sheltons, and it wasn’t an actual Hibernian sash, it was the same colour as an Hibernian sash, it was the same length as an Hibernian sash, and it had the same gold braid as an Hibernian sash. You don’t think anyone looking at it would think of it as pretty much an Hibernian sash? You think the Greta Irish back then would shrug their shoulders in puzzlement if asked why one of their’s, the son of an Irish convict, preparing for a deadly gunfight with police, would want to don a long green sash, which looked exactly like an Hibernian sash? You don’t think Frank Harty, who said he would fight up to his knees in blood for Kelly, who subscribed to the Catholic Advocate which regularly reported on developments in Irish politics and the growing Hibernian/Fenian movement in the U.S., would think the green sash insignificant? Or even his brother-in-law, Diseased Stock Agent Dan Kennedy, presumably at the other end of the Irish political spectrum to Frank, you think he would have no idea what a green sash might represent?

            This is not to suggest that Glenrowan was anything but horrific and deeply disturbing in its conception and intent. But when a young man from the Greta Irish community dresses for an attack on the police after turning himself, quite extraordinarily, into a human tank, and the last thing he does before donning his armour is to wrap himself in a green sash, wherever it came from, I’d suggest that that action had some significance for him.

            What that significance might have been is worth thinking about.

  45. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

    Perc – you’re point re the burning of the old Goldseeker Inn in 1868 (by Red’s brother, James) is a really interesting point.
    In terms of the sash being Hibernian, I can see what you mean.


  46. Hi Perc, there are a couple of points there to consider. First, the claim that there was something significant about the English Shelton giving young Ned a green Irish sash. No, I have accepted that the sash was, as the previously uploaded 2103 article about the Sheltons says, one of a couple of sashes brought out from Ireland by the Irish lass that married Esau Shelton. So no symbolic stuff about English and Irish, but a present from a grateful Irish-born Mrs Shelton for her son’s rescue.

    Second, the sash folds up into a small lump of cloth. So yes, quite impressive that it survived several moves, but no great feat physically. And while Doug Morrissey may have laid emphasis on Mrs Kelly’s tiny hut as “a place of perpetual drunken debauchery frequented by prostitutes and thugs”, you can’t lay that on me. Maybe it was, I haven’t looked into it, but I haven’t written anything about it, so you’ll have to ague about that with Morrissey. Anyway, maybe it did hold sentimental value to the family – I never said it didn’t, and in the light of the article attached, am happy to accept that it did in its journey from Avenel to 11 Mile Creek – but nothing suggests symbolic value once we abandon the theory of any reflections on English and Irish relations in the previous paragraph.

    Next paragraph, you’re right, I don’t think anyone looking at it would think of it as pretty much an Hibernian sash, because it has no embroidery that would make it a Hibernian sash. It’s just a green cummerbund. All we can say is that Hibernian sashes were embroidered cummerbunds if that was the case. As Mrs Shelton said in her 1973 letter to the Benalla Historical Society, it’s a cummerbund. It doesnyt look anything like the Hibernian sashes worn by Hibernians which are immediately recognisable as Hibernian sashes, as the photo example uploaded by Thomas illustrates.

    kelly and his gang were not preparing for a deadly gunfight with police. They were preparing to derail a special train, stand on top of a culvert overlooking the derailment, and massacre any survivors of the wreck from the safety of their bulletproof-at-ten-paces armour at almost no personal risk.

    None of us have any idea what Frank Harty or Daniel Kennedy might have thought of Kelly’s green sash, te existence of which was unknown at the time. There was ni symbolic flaunting mentioned anywhere, and not a word or politics Irish or Vistorian the whole time the gang had captives bailed up for a couple of days in the Glenrowan Inn and talked at them more or less continuously.

    When the last thing Kelly does before donning his armour is to wrap himself in a green sash to pad himself against its roughness, I’d say he was sensible. The same as donning his knitted skull cap to protect his head from the roughness of the helmet. If he had anythhing to say about Irish politics he had plenty of time to say it to all the people he bailed up between SBC, the two bank robberies, and Glenrowan, and then to the journalists afterwards, and again at his committal trial, to any of the police who held him prisoner, and at his trial, or in comments afterwards. But nothing, just an Ian Jones fantasy about the “Irishness” of Ned from what I can see. And dated way back to that article I’ve uploaded previosuly, where Jones claims the proudly colonial-identifying Ned was “Iirish to his boot straps”. It’s all hooey as far as I can see. And the last fact is, if it was so significant to the adult Ned, why did he never mention its being taken? Kenneally made a big deal of it, but that’s because he thought it was a “gold bullion-fringed” sash. Not because of any sentimentality it may have had.

    People can believe what they like about the cummerbund, it’s up to them. The only thing is, there’s no evidence for symbolism and not much for sentimentality, and a lot of facts against either.

  47. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

    Hi Stuart and Perc, given the passage of time between the rescue and Glenrowan, I wonder if the sentimental value v practical use of the sash/cummerbund isn’t a false dichotomy. For example, I have a striped t-shirt my grandmother gave me for Christmas about 15 years ago. I really like it and in its prime I wore it everywhere. Now it’s old and falling to bits and I only were it to bed and when I’m doing things like painting. I agree with Perc that the fact the sash (assuming it’s the same sash) likely had some sentimental value to Ned having been kept as long as it was. But I also agree with Stuart that at Glenrowan it likely serve only a practical purpose as padding for the armour. Both ideas for together quietly easily.

    1. Hi Thomas, I think that pretty much sums up where I’m up to at the moment. It seems that the sash was given to him for the rescue in summer early 1867 then taken through a couple of moves until they got to Greta West (11 Mile Creek) with it. Ned grew bigger and more criminal. The “boy bushranger” (Ah Fook), Harry Power, the McCormack incident and gaol, Greta Mob larrikinism, unskilled labouring odd jobs, then the bigger money of wholesale and retail stock theft and the Baumgarten horse stealing ring, warrants, the Fitzpatrick incident, mother and two associates gaoled, the larrikin costumes of sashes (red for Ned) and Greta Mob chinstraps at SBC, outlawed, bank robbery, armour building and revenge plan. Maybe if it had any sentimental value at Glenrowan it was at a very long imaginative stretch possibly won in revenge for his mother’s gaoling; but the purpose seems clearly padding. It was not worn proudly in display draped around his body like a parade sash but wrapped around his body as a cummerbund was designed to be. a very practical padding. If it had any sentimental value after some ten years of relentless serious criminal activity separating boyhood and adulthood, he said nothing at any point after capture about it’s being taken from him.

  48. Hi Stuart and All,

    There’s an old story which has done the rounds of Greta down the years which closely supports the view that the green sash was an essential piece of padding to protect Kelly inside his armour.

    It goes something like this:

    After all the lengthy preparation put into the design and production of the armour; the stealing of the plough shares, the careful moulding in bush forges, the testing against bullets at different distances, etc., Delaney or someone says: “I think you’re going to need a bit of extra padding around your middle, Ned.”

    Kelly thinks: I’ve got an old woollen beanie for my head, and my normal clothes are OK for the shoulders which take most of the weight, but Delaney is right…I needs some extra bulk. My clothes stop the chafing, but in case I take a bullet a bit of extra padding around the hips would be a big help.

    Kelly reckons that he has just the thing; that old green sash that Mrs Shelton brought all the way out from Ireland and presented to him for his bravery in jumping in and saving her much loved son from drowning. The one that looks a lot like some of those flash Hibernian sashes but is really a cummerbund. Some say the gold tassels are real bullion. But it has no sentimental or symbolic value to him at all; that rescue was no big deal. Kelly can’t really think why he kept the old thing all those years.

    They have a bit of trouble finding it, though; it wraps up into quite a small package. Must have been very carefully tucked away somewhere. Anyway, Maggie eventually turns it up. It wraps around him twice if he pulls it tight, and that adds a whole three-eighths of an inch of extra cotton and silk protection around the belly button area. The gold tassels are a bit of a nuisance though, and Delaney suggests cutting them off – seeing the sash has no sentimental or symbolic value. He also reckons that it might have been better if Mrs Shelton had knitted him a scarf.

    But Kelly says, “ No, we go with the sash, as is. I know now why I kept it all these years. It has no significance to me at all, but it’s just perfect as padding. It will make all the difference.”

    And do you know? That pathetic, deceitful, lying, incompetent bastard Ian Jones heard this story, and in yet another display of historiographic vandalism he completely ignored it!

    1. Yeah right Perc – whoever you are.

      Now go take a bex and have a lie down. You’ll start feeling better soon.

    2. Hi Perc, I love it! Can I use that in my cartoon version?

      1. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

        Just a thought. This debate seems to turn on where / how Ned wore the sash / cummerbund at Glenrowan.

        We’re being guided by this from Kenneally, “Dr. Nicholson failed to mention anything in the foregoing affidavit about the ‘green silk sash’ … which Ned Kelly wore inside his outer clothing when captured at Glenrowan. The doctor removed the sash when he was stripping Ned Kelly.”

        So what does “wore inside his outer clothing” mean? It seems to me it could be interpreted in two different ways.

        The first is it could mean the sash was under / inside Ned’s ‘outer clothing’ being his polka dot shirt and vest (as depicted by Carrington). I think this is more consistent with the padding theory, because that’s not a normal or ornamental way to wear a sash.

        The second is it could mean the sash was worn under / inside Ned’s ‘outer clothing’ being his famous overcoat / oilskin. To my mind, an overcoat / oilskin is more consistent with the term ‘outer clothing’. This in turn leaves the idea that it was indeed worn in the typical ornamental way. Which in turn opens the door to the sash having sentimental value.

        1. Hi Thomas, inside his outer clothing can’t mean under under his overcoat where it would have stood out a mile visibly, and have to be removed before they removed his armour. In any case he appears to have worn the overcoat as a a drape over his shoulders, not with his arms in the sleeves, again because of the bulk of the armour and shoulder pieces. It would have still stood out a mile if it was draped around him over the armour but under the coat. The armour was stripped off him before he was walked over to the station. No mention of any sash to that point, so not worn in any ornamental way.

          The only way Kenneally makes sense is that the sash wasn’t visible because it was inside his outer clothing from where the doctor retrieved it when stripping Kelly. As you say, under his polka-dot shirt; and around his waist as padding. Meredith and Scott (NK After a century of Acrimony) p. 132 continue the description of the sash from a 1973 letter from Benalla to Meredith: silk fronted, “lined throughout with coarse linen interlining and the back was made of green cotton material.” So we have a 7 foot by 5.5 inch silk covered double thickness linen and cotton cummerbund wrapped twice around Ned’s waist against where the armour hung. We can get an idea of how it hung from the photo of a policement wearing Kelly’s armour after capture. A bit of padding wouldn’t hurt, if we can say that…


  49. Theres a scene in one of the Bond movies where he is trapped on a sand bank with crocodiles swimming all round. He does the impossible and escapes when by chance crocodiles swimming past line up to briefly make a series of stepping stones across which Bond skips to dry land and freedom. Percs list of all the hurdles the sash had to overcome to survive from Avenel to Glenrowan seems a bit like Bonds escape over the crocodiles to me – not that likely – unless of course, as Perc says, it was of very great importance to him.

    So is there any evidence that it was? Well none that I know of , and in particular theres no mention of it or, for that matter of the rescue in the Jerilderie letter which contains only passing reference to Irish causes. If it had been draped over the OUTSIDE of the armour then one could easily claim it was meant to be seen and its use was symbolic, but wearing it underneath implies it wasnt meant to be seen, and its use was pragmatic.

    The other comment I would make is that if Kelly HAD used it to express some sort of solidarity with Irish causes, this would have been a purely cynical and manipulative act on his behalf as he never expressed any sort of genuine solidarity with the many law abiding church going Irish in his community, and had no apparent qualms about stealing from them or shooting them if they were policeman getting in his way.

    Remember what Kelly spent the last two years of his life doing? : planning police mass murder, not a revolution for Irish independence motivated by republican ideals for a better society but a vengeful ‘criminal atrocity of monstrous scale’ inspired by his obsessional hatred of police and authority and a blinding out-of-control desire for revenge.

    1. Kelly’s threats to blow up a train date at least as far back as the 14 December 1880 Cameron letter sign-off. What he wanted was a way of doing more than just blowing up a special train. He could have done that anywhere. He wanted to ensure he killed everyone and anyone on board. And he wanted to do it at no personal risk to himself. Hence the armour and the Glenrowan rail bend. It was no secret what he wanted to do as he boasted and ranted about it at the Inn. It was pure savage revenge for an action (gaoling his mother) that he himself had instigated by his shooting at and wounding Fitzpatrick. If not for Curnow flagging down the pilot engine, it might have happened. Kelly never planned a hero’s last stand. That is all later fancy. The elaborately plotted line of human tanks had mass murder on the brain.

      How Kelly manged to induce the other three into his insane massacre-minded psycopathy is a mystery, but it may well have resulted from the SBC murders in which all four were actively complicit. Hung for a sheep as much as a lamb. “I have but once to die”, he said. What about his mates? What mates? He called Dan and Hart cowards after his capture, as they hadn’t come out to fight despite their armour. That might have been a last stand. But it wasn’t. They died not with a bang but a whimper, as a couple of the last captives allowed to leave reported when they got out. After they put all the captives’ lives at risk by not going out to fight in their armour at night when there were only 14 police on the ground. And as a result of their ineptitude and utter failure of anything resembling generalship or courage, Mrs Jones’ children and Martin Cherry died in the confrontation. Kelly had previously shot Metcalf in the head and refused to let him leave to find help but kept him captive so the wounded man couldn’t raise the alarm.

      The illustration that keeps being reproduced from the Sketcher, of Kelly in armour in the scrub at Glenrowan, is not called ‘Ned Kelly’s Last Stand’. It is called ‘Ned Kelly at bay’. An animal at bay. As it was in its day. Beyond the pale of humanity. So that’s another way of looking at the past. One strangely like some of the sources of the day.

  50. So have I got this right, David? You think it “not that likely” that the sash came from Avenal, but popped up from elsewhere and was of no great importance to Kelly. Stuart thinks that it did come from Avenal but “it had no symbolic or sentimental significance”, although “maybe it did hold sentimental value to the family”.
    And you both agree that the sole reason for the sash being at Glenrowan was for padding armour manufactured to take a bullet at ten yards. And that of all the things Kelly could have laid his hands on to provide that padding he chose a flimsy bit of cotton and silk with gold tassels.

    I agree with Stuart, people can believe what they like about the sash, and I suppose if you reckon that a skinny green sash would help you withstand the shock of a gunshot hitting that enormously heavy armour at ten yards then the padding argument might make sense to you. It doesn’t make any sense at all to me. It would provide almost no additional cushioning. Any abrasive protection it might provide would be limited to a narrow area around his midriff, where he already ha clothing.

    I reckon Ian Jones was on the right track – although not with his republican reach. An angry young bloke from an Irish community, supported in a variety of ways by local Irish folk, wrapping himself in a green sash before attempting a shocking assault on the establishment might well be making some quiet statement, if only to himself, about his heritage and the injustices he sees himself fighting. And the symbolism of the green sash may well be a justification to himself for the horrific deeds he is about to commit.

    In my view the green sash is symbolic. The padding argument, as Stuart would say, is hooey.

    1. Hi Perc, I line up with historian Richard Evans, who said “Objective history is history that is researched and written within the limits placed on the historical imagination by the facts of history and the sources which reveal them, and bound by the historian’s desire to produce a true, fair, and adequate account of the subject under consideration.” My view of the sash issue at this point fits those requirements – it is fact based, omits no known facts or historical sources, and is consistent with all the historical sources of evidence uncovered so far.

      Jones’ view of the sash and its alledged importance, by contrast, is largely speculative, unevidenced, and reflects the heavily romanticised Kelly worship and error-ridden views of colonial history that he had developed by and maintained since 1968 (Wangaratta seminar) and that permeate ‘Short Life’ every other page. Kelly complained of injustices only when he was caught and sought for things he did. He never worried about the endless injustices he committed on others as a career criminal and larrikin stock thief. He blamed everyone but himself for his misfortunes. When offered the chance, encouragement and referral to lead an honest life in his teens – by Nicolson after the Kyneton lockup episode where he shopped Harry Power – he turned it down. If it hadn’t been for the triple police murders and in particular the armour at Glenrowan, hardly anyone would have remembered him past 1890.

  51. Hi Stuart,
    Evans would also acknowledge that different historians, following his exact criteria, can reach quite different interpretations of an historical incident or period – the historical imagination being critical in its perception of “facts”. Your historical imagination interprets the fact of the sash as being an adequate means of padding a piece of armour. My imagination interprets it as inadequate, and so considers other explanations for it being worn. I’m not denying that you follow Evans’ directive

    But you speak of facts in a very narrow sense. I’d suggest there are many known “facts or historical sources” which are relevant beyond those you consider here. You mightn’t agree, but that’s where our historical imaginations differ, and what makes historical discussion interesting – except when it become abusive.

    You dismiss as irrelevant, I presume, the complexity of the Irish experience here and in Ireland, its impact on the Irish in Greta and its role in the support police claim the Irish gave Kelly. The historical imagination, bearing in mind Evans’ strictures, can reasonably include those broader “facts” in an interpretation of the Kelly Outbreak, and the significance the sash might play within that.

    Interpretation of what makes a good historical practitioner can differ widely too. You apparently respect Morrissey, who” blows McQuilton out of the water”. I think he is sloppy, undisciplined, and deliberately selective in his evidence. Perhaps Evans’ definition doesn’t tell it all.

    We can agree that Ian Jones got a lot of things not quite right. But he did an enormous amount of ground-breaking work in the early days on which is easy now to build a career picking holes in. I guess he can sometimes be accused of interpreting particular events to suit his theme. I guess we all do. You don’t think you might do that from time to time?

    1. Hi Perc, the problem with all this is the narrative structures within which a lot of “history” is written. We probably agree that people understand history through stories. Historians look back on the past and have certain views of what things looked like to those who lived then, which can be true to greater or lesser extents. They look back from some kind of mental framework into which they sift, extract and place facts. For example, someone might look back at the Kelly outbreak from a perspective steeped in Irish history and the experience of colonial Australia for Irish convicts and free settlers, including Hibernian societies and other things that some have thought to link to Kelly, and by a process of association go Kelly – Irish descent – convict father – hostile authorities – rebel – republic.

      Someone else who knew the Irish background like Bridget Kennedy, wife of policeman Michael Kennedy murdered at Stringybark Creek might say, – “Many a family came out from Ireland, ours included. Plenty of families did it tough. But that did not mean they turned to stealing and robbing from their neighbours. Only a few families were bad or went bad, but none so bad as the Kellys.”

      There were not “the Irish” in Australia. There were tons of different people of different backgrounds and political views, and a couple of main religions, who came out from Ireland to the colonies. There is nothing in these complexities that provides any basis to look for (or to manufacture) some symbolic Irish context in Kelly’s wearing a cummerbund from years ago as padding, especially when it wasn’t exposed to view.

      The narrative being built there is entirely imaginary, not factual, and it has been built on a series of pillars such as the sash that when questioned often fail to support the narrative. This happens a lot in historical writing. For example, we are often told that 5th century BC Athens was the world’s first true and remarkably successful democracy in which the people (albeit the males) voted in assemblies on matters great and small. Because it was a successful direct democracy, it proves that direct democracy works. Therefore we can recreate a working direct democracy and that would be a good thing, so the argument goes. If you have read any books on Athenian democracy or introductory political theory you will know that Athenian democracy is often held up as a viable political model for modern societies. There is a ton of stuff written about it. But how do we know what Athenian democracy looked like? We know, because a nineteenth century English historian, George Grote, wrote a 12 volume History if Greece that transformed the eighteenth century narrative that ancient democracy didn’t work, to a roseate picture of a viable working Athenian direct democracy pieced together with laboriously detailed historical scholarship and extraordinary narrative skill.

      But it is a house of cards. What 5th century BC Athens looked like was not a direct democracy at all. As Pericles said in the Thucydidean Funeral Oration, though the call us a demokratia, it is in practice the rule of the first citizen. Athens was ruled by a Council of 500 men, 50 from each of the ten tribes of Athenians formed in the early 6th century BC which has been claimed to reflect an original political equality. But in fact these were not any 50 men, as an 1890 book, Election by Lot at Athens, would have us believe, and which the narrative has followed ever since. In reality the council was composed of the sons of dynastic wealthy Athenian families. The assembly met only a few times a year or less in the fifth century BC. It was in practice the tribal citizen army, and it met to vote on war. There never was a functioning direct democracy in Periclean Athens. Anyone interested in how this narrative was put together (and why it is wrong) can read it here,

      The point I am getting to here is that a narrative (which persists today) was constructed by huge numbers of scholars over some 200 years of misguided enthusiasm for Athenian democracy. For just one example, as there were ten Athenian tribes, a list of prominent classical scholars invested much ink debating whether a particular type of ancient coinage, the Wappenmunzen, with symbols on it, was minted at the time of and to reflect or celebrate the implementation of the 10 Athenian tribes by Cleisthenes near the end of the 6th century BC. Cleisthenes thus became for many historians more or less the founder of democracy. Scholars, by which I mean world’s best elite scholars in classics, built up the Wappenmunzen to be one of the pillars on which the narrative of Athenian democracy rests.

      Were one to heretically question this pillar – 10 symbolic Wappenmunzen reflecting the original reorganised tribal equality of citizens – one might find that there were not 10 Wappanmunzen types. There were at least 14, and the theory that the Wappenmunzen were a symbolic representation of early Athenian democracy falls over. That pillar no longer exists. I have attached the paper establishing that below. So when we talk about historical imagination, we need to allow for how powerful the narratives are that shape it into what it is today in a huge number of different topics. What we have to do as historians is be on the alert for artificially constructed narratives and test them against known facts. The tale of the green sash is one such narrative. It doesn’t hold water as a pillar of Kelly’s symbolic rebellion against anything. One could try to fit the simple fact of the sash as padding into a grander narrative of Irish symbolism. Or one could say that is a leap of imagination based in a heavily romanticised view of Kelly the vengeful numb-nut.

      What was Kelly? This is what he said about anyone assisting the police in their search for him: “by the light that shines pegged on an ant-bed with their bellies opened their fat taken out rendered and poured down their throat boiling hot will be cool to what pleasure I will give some of them” (Jerilderie letter, p. 50). Colonial born of Irish parentage, a disgrace to the Irish heritage that helped make Australia great. As Bridget Kennedy noticed.

    2. Hi again Perc, can you please point me to some places where the police claim that the Irish supported Kelly as I’m a bit stumped there. I can’t recall anything in Hare, Sadleir or Chomley’s books, or in McIntyre’s memoir, about that. I haven’t systematically read the RC and the VPRO files from cover to cover and haven’t done a word search of the RC, but a police claim that the Irish per se were Kelly supporters is not ringing bells. Again, I can’t recall a newspaper article that claimed that and would have guessed that if it were so , that it wouldn’t have been a one-off but would have been something of a regular lament in the sources.

      I agree that Jones brought huge enthusiasm to early Kelly studies and used to regard his Short Life as fundamental for anyone interested in the Kelly story, and recommended it here on David’s blog for a few years because of its breadth of cover. But as I read more of both his work and the source material I started have reservations about it. It always seemed ridiculous that anyone would claim Kelly as the leader or instigator of a colonial republican movement that no one else had ever heard of. The claim in 1969 that a journalist had thought he’d seen a printed copy of a declaration of a republic in a London display in 1962 when no one else had any evidence of such a thing in Australia set alarm bells off. It seemed likely that that was fuddled memory oral history, and so it proved to be with the eventual retraction of the claim in Australia on Horseback.

      It is not simply that Jones got a lot of things not quite right. He got a lot of things grossly wrong and built a whole fantasy narrative around them. His view of a squatters vs selectors land war was critiqued by deeply read proper historian Bates in the 1968 Wangaratta seminar, but Jones stuck to his impression of some newspaper references and didn’t correct his “new view” of Kelly to take account of new facts and evidence. The same with Fitzpatrick. He was so sure he was right about bad Fitzpatrick that he didn’t bother to research Fitzpatrick’s testimony and check the facts that contradicted his Kenneally based narrative. He did much worse with Metcalf, literally mangling and twisting and altering the quoted source evidence to maintain the fiction the Kelly didn’t shoot Metcalf, against direct witness statements that he did.

      Short Life is a narrative built on many shonky pillars. When you take away the republic myth, the bad Fitzpatrick tale, the nonsense maintained since 1968 about Kelly walking three times through the police line at Glenrowan, the drivel about him being a skilled stone mason, and a hundred other fictions, you have a house of cards narrative that really is on its last legs and long overdue for replacement. No?

      1. Yes Stuart, I can agree, Ian Jones has many short-comings, and aimed to put together a good yarn which on a number of occasions led to interpretations of events which are challengeable. I admire your careful unpicking of some of those – that’s what History is, and always has been; a challenging of ideas and an evolving understanding.

        What I find offensive is the childish, Trumpian need to sneer and put-down, which you and David in particular go on with. It doesn’t seem to me to be the sort of behaviour anyone who values their own work needs to rely on.

        I do take away, as you say, the Republic myth, I also take away the North East on the brink of a selector revolt. I think overall, though, I’d go with Jones on Fitzpatrick; the time scale you outline well, but I reckon re. his later career that you are un-necessarily generous. The idea that he changed dramatically when police command picked on him seems pretty airy-fairy. And I think you should have a look at Charles Fitzpatrick, Tasmanian Convict, the link isn’t certain, but its a most interesting possibility which might alter perceptions. It doesn’t mean much to me either way whether Kelly walked three times through the lines or not, or whether he did or din’t build a stone house. They don’t seem to me germane to the broader and more important issue of what was going on, who was involved, and why. But I can see why those things get up your nose.

        You’re right, of course, the Irish per se aren’t mentioned by police command as being significant to the support of Kelly for a couple of reasons Firstly, the “Irish per se” didn’t support Kelly, which of course doesn’t mean that none did, nor that many were quite conflicted by their fellow feeling for a young bloke from the Irish community in trouble over his head, and the horror at what had transpired. There was an obvious fear among some Irish of a backlash against the broader Irish community, and renewed undermining on the slow gains the Irish had made towards acceptance in this English colony. The need to secure and maintain State Aid for Catholic schools was also an issue in some Irish minds. Irish businessmen were keen not to be seen as anti-establishment. Any reading of the Catholic Advocate gives an idea of the complexity of the Irish response to Kelly, and the careful line Irish Catholics had to walk. Underpinning this is the extreme racist abuse levelled at the Irish, not in relation to Kelly, just because the Irish were there and because they were Irish.

        A second reason for the Irish not being singled out might be that most of the police hunting the Kellys were Irish or of Irish descent, and some even expressed qualified sympathy for Kelly. Sadlier, of course, was from Tipperary. Any highlighting of the Irish among Kelly supporters, I’d suggest, would have likely alienated more that it clarified.

        Why the Royal Commission didn’t follow up the Irish link to the Kellys I have no idea. When three sons of Irish convicts and the grandson of an Irish convict cut loose you would think that the Commisison ought to have considered the possible Irish connection and indeed the influence of convictism. Its not as if both those elements were not clearly present, nor unknown to the police.

        Police Command couldn’t have helped but know that a large percentage of those they saw as sympathetic to Kelly around Greta were Irish, of Irish descent, and/or Irish convicts or off-spring of Irish convicts. If you go through the local Greta folk who are referred to at different times by the police as sympathisers, or are known to have sympathetic dealings with the family, and you then look at the patterns of their interfamily marriages it’s clear that an extensive web of Irish folk were drawn into the events of the Outbreak by their proximity and their association with the Kelly family going back a number of years. They certainly didn’t react as a block, they sometimes had local disputes between each other, but they share the accusation of police that they were sympathisers. These people were a part of Kelly’s growing up – they were not all thugs, not all members of Morrissey’s shanty culture, some attended church regularly, they did not all see eye to eye with each other, but they shared that apartness from the English protestant ascendancy. And they were often small struggling selectors – not, in my view, on the brink of revolt as John McQuilton suggests, but nevertheless sharing that enormous struggle of getting farms up and viable and, in spite of Morrissey’s claims, still wary of the squatters’ power and influence over them. It was these people, I suggest, who were Kelly’s constituents, who he was addressing in his Letters, and who offered him, according to the police, different degrees of support.
        To run through just a few:
        The Kearneys and O’Connells from Tipperary
        The Hennessys from Limerick
        The Cox brother and sister from Tipperary
        The Delaneys from Tipperary
        William Tanner, from England, but with a Delaney wife from Offaly
        Jane Grahams family from Tyrone
        The Dinnings from Londonderry
        Thomas Ellis from Donegal
        Tom Lloyd from Tipperary
        The three Conway girls from Limerick married respectively to Frank Harty from Limerick, Laurence O’Brien from Cork and Daniel Kennedy from Kings.
        The Nolans from Westmeath
        The O’Keefes from Limerick
        The Barnetts came from England but two brothers married sisters from Sligo, and one brother married a lady from Leitrim
        The McAuliffes were from Limerick
        The Egans from Cork
        In many cases we know the towns these people came from and hence something of the history and experiences they lived through in Ireland. We know the cultural baggage they brought with them to the North East, and can consider the links which might exist between that baggage and their apparent sympathy for an outlaw.

        Take Owen Egan for an example. He grew up in a clachan of Egan and Spillane families north of Lisgoold in Cork. His father had endured the worst of the English oppressions under the Penal Laws – I presume I don’t have to go over them. Whiteboys were active in the district. Owen survived the Famine with many of the extended Egan clan dying – his Uncle had a family of eleven – only two survived to adulthood. He knew the food riots , heard of (or was a part of- who know) the starving mob who attacked the soup kitchen in nearby Carrigtwohill. He lived through the Tithe Wars where in one year officials attributed 203 riots, 723 attacks and more than two hundred killings to the agitation against tithes across southern Ireland. In 1834 at Barthlemy, just north of the Egans, soldiers fired on a crowd of protesters opposing the seizure of property for tithes. Sixteen were killed and forty wounded. Disputes over land were endemic, with killings, attacks and threats carried out by clandestine groups. Men were transported for “swearing allegiance’ to such organisations. He knew the 1848 Rebellion of Young Irelanders, and the English repercussions. By the 1860s he knew the rise of Fenianism as it spread across Ireland. Fenians drilled with pikes and guns to the south of Lisgoold. In 1867 Fenians from across the Lisgoold/Midleton district joined in an attack on the Midleton police barracks. And the list goes on. The Irish immigrants to Victoria came from a violent dysfunctional society where the rule of English law was routinely challenged, where young men swore allegiance to rebellious groups, attacked police and land bailiffs, and were in turn hunted down and killed, or transported.

        Egan arrived in Victoria in 1871 and later, by chance, took up land between McBean’s Kilfeera and Tom Lloyd Snr’s selections which landed him in the middle of the emerging conflict between Kelly and the police. Const Faulkiner testified before the Commission: “On the second occasion, when searching without information (216/5235) about June or July 1879 we came across a hut near Lloyd’s, in the small bush paddock, and no person at home. We searched the place, two or three of us I could not say which of us I think Constable Canny and I, and I think Constable Lawless, and found three or four saddles hanging up that had been recently used, noticing that they had surcingles on made by a saddler at Wangaratta. The person who occupied the place was a man with one hand, a bachelor, which clearly showed that he had not a use for four saddles. (216/5237) Did you speak to him? I think Superintendent Hare spoke to him (216/5238) Did you hear him say anything?- No, I could not hear him say anything; and, as he was looked upon as a sympathizer, this made us still more confident that the gang were still about. When the Kellys were captured , and the horses and saddles brought to Benalla , I identified those saddles as the ones I had seen hanging up in the house near Lloyd’s, and sent in a report to that effect, but did not hear anything more about it further than, I believe, some of the Kelly friends claimed them. I would not be certain of that, but I have heard it.(216/5239) Egan had lost a hand in a farming accident.

        The web of Irish families around Greta shared similar experiences of Ireland that Egan did. If they were, as the police suggest, sympathetic to Kelly, I’d suggest it is not difficult to see why. It was the attitudes of these folk, and those passed on to their children and grandchildren which defined the line taken by Kenneally in the early days, and perhaps Jones later on. It did not emerge from a romanticised view of Ireland, but from a brutal lived experience which defined their response to the tragedies of those years.

        All this suggests to me that the Kelly story is extremely complex, and that we still have a long way to go in getting even close to understanding it.

        And then, of course, you’ve got the convict subculture, and the Irish convict subculture, a further element supportive of Kelly and far more extensive than previously realised according to Janet McCalman’s latest book. Due to the damage done them by Arthur and his crazed regime in Tasmania they were unlikely to bear authority any practical allegiance. But there’s much more work that needs to be done on them. The notable convict expiree families around Greta, apart from the Kellys, are the Harts, the Kershaws, the Barnetts, the McAuliffes and presumably many more that we don’t yet know about. If up to 40,000 expirees crossed from Tasmania in the years up to the 1870s then there are likely to have been many thousands hidden across the North East. Until some work is done we can wonder about their attitudes to police and the authority which so mistreated them and whether that carried over to reservations about supporting the police in their hunt for Kelly.

        But anyway, Stuart, this leads us far away, although not irrelevantly, from the question of the sash. I say that it makes no sense to claim that a sash maybe 100mm wide, of thin material, decorated with gold tassels and able to be wrapped around a clothed body maybe twice, would provide even the remotest degree of padding in the circumstances it was chosen to be used. I wonder why, of all the the things which might better have been used for padding, Kelly chose a decorative fashion item with no sentimental or significant value. I suggest, in light of the above, that the green sash did speak to his Irish heritage and in whose name he saw himself as acting. (And he wasn’t trying to set up a republic – just to be clear.) I think you need to explain the physics of how that flimsy sash could be seen as padding.

        1. Hi Perc, on the question of the sash as padding, you previously disagreed that “a skinny green sash would help withstand the shock of a gunshot hitting that enormously heavy armour at ten yards”, but that was never my point or what I said. What I said was, the four layers of cloth which the sash wrapped around twice would provide was just for comfort against rubbing, not to add any kind of shock protection. You misread me entirely there, I thought my point was obvious..

          I don’t know how Trump got into your commentary, but David has been vocally critical of Trump for several years and I am no great Trump fan either, so can we please stick to Kelly. Jones has been venemously sarcastic to people who ddin’t accept his view of Kelly for years, including in print about eminent legal historian Alex Castles, and to the Border Mail in a published interview about me, so don’t complain if I occasionally reflect it back.

          You agree that against your previous claim, there is in fact nothing anywhere to support the idea that the police claimed that the Irish supported Kelly. The “Royal Commission didn’t follow up the Irish link to the Kellys” because there wasn’t one. The statement that a reading of the Catholic Advocate gives an idea of the complexity of the Irish response to Kelly needs references, or a reference to a study. The long list of Irish background families adduced there indicates generally what Boxall 1899 said, that ex-convicts or the offsrping of convicts Irish or not, were more likely to harbour men on the run and act as bush telegraphs for a share of their ill-gotten gains. The fact that a significant number of Kelly clan families were inter-related is not surprising that many were Irish background, criminal or not. Many of course wanted to make good; including Jim Kelly himself after the outbreak was over and after his early post-outbreak threats to take to the bush himself. But teh inner circle that sheltered Kelly and the gang and actively sheltered and supported them on the run appear to have been few. Remember thet Ben Hall was sold by one of his good mates. Red Kelly had shopped his thieving accomplice in Ireland to the police. Jack Llloyd and Ned Kelly and some other guy all shopped Harry Power to the police. Etc.

          I don’t at all agree that the Kelly story is complex or hard to understand. It is a story of career criminality by a bunch of opportunist larrikin riff-raff that went pear shaped when the Baumgarten horse stealing ring was discovered and broken up, resulting in the warrants for Ned and Dan Kelly, the idiotic resisting arrest and shooting of Fitzpatrick, then the time on the run. Kelly the twice ex-gaolbird vowed never to be taken back, and it was downhill faster from there. Nothing remarkable and nothing complex, just another case in the sad annals of colonial crime that only became massively newsworthy after the triple Stringybark Creek murders, the attention drawn by the long period on the run with two major armed bank robberies, and the attempted police massacre in iron suits at Glenrowan.

        2. Perc, speaking of sneering and put-down : Jones never hesitated to sneer at and put down anyone who opposed him and his fantasies about Ned Kelly. Didn’t you ever read that revolting story he seemed to relish repeating about publicly humiliating a School headmistress? I cant help wanting to give back to him some of his own medicine but you’re probably right – I should curb my rude desire to respond in kind.

          In regard to the Irish context you’re trying so hard to put Kelly into : I dont see it. Your argument seems to be based on just one fact – he had Irish parents. This leads you to speculate that he must have had the Irish problem on his mind and as part of his motivation. But what other facts – as opposed to speculation – oh and the sash – do you have that points to Kelly having anything other than the slightest interest in the Irish struggle? Passing references is all there are in 7500 words in the Jerilderie letter and nothing anywhere else, not even in his long lecturing at the various hostage crises he devised. His speeches weren’t about Irish but about police and about himself.

          Now, if people seeing what he was doing and noting he had Irish parents decided to give him support , thats not evidence that their agenda and Kellys were the same thing. I am sure it wouldn’t have bothered him why they supported him as long as they helped him to avoid arrest. As I said before I think any use Kelly made of Irish and Convict grievance would have been cynical and manipulative in its intent. He was that kind of man.

          The overwhelming and dominating fact about Ned Kelly was his criminality, his violence and his burgeoning hatred of police and authority. Most if not all the Irish in the NE – and the non Irish as well of course – would probably have been appalled at what he planned to do dont you think? Do you seriously think they would have supported him ?

    3. Saying Jones got a lot of things “not quite right” would have to be the understatement of the year!

      The central theme of Jones entire Kelly narrative was the Republic of NE Victoria, and that proposal wasn’t just “not quite right” Perc – it was 100% completely wrong. It was a whole series of satires and lampoons cemented together by Tom Lloyds hoaxing of Jones in the early 1960’s.And getting that wrong means that Jones got completely wrong – not merely “not quite” right – his entire understanding of who Ned Kelly actually was.Thats because Jones believed the republican notion elevated Kelly from the ranks of pure criminality to the level of some sort of revolutionary leader – so without the republic thats where Kelly falls back to. People will no doubt be sick of me repeating it but its the most devastating of all Ian Jones quotes and I repeat it as often as I can to get the message across – but he wrote that without the republic, Glenrowan would have been ‘ a criminal atrocity of monstrous scale’.

      Jones also got completely wrong – and not merely ‘not quite right’ – the significance – or really the complete insignificance – of Sadleirs account of what he thought McIntyre told him decades earlier. Because Jones got this completely wrong he falsely accused McIntyre of lying and thereby trashed the mans reputation and gave unjustified support to the narrative that WAS a lie, Ned Kellys version of Lonigans death, thereby also trashing Lonigan.This in turn gave false support to the claims that Kellys trial was a mistrial.

      These three things that Jones got completely wrong – the republic, Kellys character and McIntyres eye-witness account – are not peripheral to the story but critical elements of its core. And I’m not so sure that he DID do ‘ an enormous amount of ground breaking work ‘ – what more did he add to the story already told by Max Brown and Molony, apart from the things I’ve already mentioned which were completely wrong? The person making a career out of the Kelly Story was undoubtedly Ian Jones, and yes Stuart its now overdue replacement. ( My next Blog post will be on that exact topic!)

  52. No one ever looked for social or political motivations to try to explain Dan Morgan or Harry Power. Why did they start looking for such motivations for Kelly? There was nothing in anything Kelly or the gang or their relatives said to explain that. There is nothing in the Royal Commission or the Second Progress Report to suggest any such thing. There is nothing in Kenneally about it either; he just complained that the police had it in for the Kellys because they regarded them as incorrigible and so unfairly hounded them.

    Was it Brown with his mistaken theory that Kelly had a declaration of a republic taken from his pocket upon capture, based on the 1940s recycling of a 1900 Bulletin Magazine spoof item? But Brown doesn’t formulate any theory of colonial rebellion in his 1948 vindication of Kelly.

    There’s nothing about social or political motivations in Nolan; just hostility to an “unjust” justice system the Nolan identified with as he was on the run from the draft in WW2.

    Where did these notions come from?

    1. I have just re-read the chapters on Kelly by George Boxall in his 1899 Story of the Australian Bushrangers. There is not the slightest hint of anything political about the Kelly gang by an author who was well aware that some of the early convicts had been transported for political offences and so well alert to any such nuances had they existed.

      He writes on p. 1, “Under the harsh laws of the Georgian era the greater criminals were hung, and not transported, and the convicts sent to ” Botany Bay,” in the eighteenth and the earlier years of the nineteenth centnrles, were generally men to whom the trammels of the civilisation of their day were irksome. Many of them were political agitators, industrial rioters, and machine-breakers. The others were poachers and similarly comparatively mild offenders against the laws, who, under the present laws of Great Britain, would be sufficiently punished with a few months’ imprisonment. Many of these men, when they were removed to a new land where the social conditions did not press so heavily on them, became honest and reputable citizens, and, perhaps, but for the harsh treatment they were subjected to, numbers of others who were driven to continue their fight against authority, might also have lived quiet and useful lives.”

      Similarly, in the well-known “Letter by a Lady” circulated as a defence of Kelly before his trial, there is nothing remotely political in it. Where did this idea of the Kelly gang as some kind of Irish background rebels come from? It wasn’t there in his day…

  53. I have been at last able to see a copy of the 1934 3rd edition of Kenneally’s Inner History, the one I was keen to check to see if its tale of the Green Sash was the same as or different to his other versions discussed in this post. Bingo! It’s different, and in a very interesting way.

    In this version Kelly was not presented with the sash at the time of the Dick Shelton rescue as a boy, but many years later, as a grown man on the run. The incorrect town of Wallan is given, as in all of Kenneally’s versions, rather than Avenel. Shelton’s father would not have got that wrong in the story, so Kenneally likely added that incorrect detail used in his first two editions.

    n this 1934 version, Kenneally gives his repeatedly used description of a “beautiful ‘Green Silk Sash with a heavy bullion fringe’” that is described in a different edition as something he learned from someone who told him the story (see discussion above on this page). This 1934 version is the only one that has the presentation of the sash, barely mentioned in the first two editions, taking place about a decade after the rescue. The fourth and further editions have no such elaboration about the extraordinary lateness this gift, which is omitted from the 4th and later editions. This s version must be a major disappointment for the legion of Kelly enthusiasts who have fantasied that Kelly was given the sash as a boy and kept it with him for many years as the family moved north from Avenel.

    Photos of the relevant pages of this extremely rare version are below. (I didn’t buy it, BTW.; I’m not a collector.)

    1. On Jones’s Short Life 2008 paperback p. 26 he talks about the sash being presented when Ned was 10, so straight after the rescue. I wonder if Jones had reD the 1934 of Kenneally, the only edition to talk about the actual gift of the sash and place it a decade or so later when Kelly was on the run? Quite possibly not, as if he had he would likely had mentioned it then accepted or rejected it with some comment.

      But now that we have 1934 evidence from Kenneally (a near neighbour of the Kellys) added to the Green Sash tale, we must accept it, don’t you think? It shows that my assumption that Kelly was given the sash as a boy and took it with him when the family moved north was, like everyone else who had accepted that narrative, wrong. It shows how easily historical assumptions can be wrong (not to mention the republic myth again…).

      All who value historical accuracy must use their best endeavours to make sure this great discovery is included in the narratives at the Benalla Museum, the Ned Kelly Touring Route website update, all the tourism information and pamphlets, all the tour guide scripts for the Beechworth Kelly walking and other tours… And all those infernally dim children’s books. This could be fun…

  54. News flash – Kenneally 1934 says Green Sash not given to Ned Kelly by Mr Shelton until Ned was on the run about a decade after the Hughes Creek rescue of young Richard!!!

    Crickets… … …. ….

    1. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

      That’s amazing new (or old) information Stuart! Fits with my earlier comment that it seemed odd to give a child an adult sized sash. Also explains how it survived the pub burning down.

    2. According to this version (Kenneally 1934) the first time a sash was ever mentioned by anyone anywhere was in England, and it was found after its owner drowned!!. The story that it was removed from Ned Kelly at Glenrowan isnt independently corroborated so maybe the whole thing is just a story that was made up by family and attached to this sash when it turned up in England amongst Nicolsons stuff?

      It sure is a very flimsy myth.

    3. Hi Thomas, I’d forgotten about the sash size discussion, thanks for reminding me. That ticks another box for the 1934 version.

      And David, I think the sash story is more solid now. We have the Benalla costume museum letter giving the circumstances of the Dick Shelton rescue, but it says nothing about when the sash was awarded. Then we have the Shelton oral history about it being brought from Ireland by the woman who became Mrs Shelton after her marriage. Now we have Kenneally 1934 giving a timeframe for the award, when Kelly was already a young adult on the run. These are three pieces of evidence that are fully compatible with each other.

      I think together that is a fairly good provenance for something so obscure. Remember that I started this topic by challenging the claim that the rescue sash was the same as the Glenrowan sash, and then did a u-turn to accepting the claim after much discussion and reviewing everything that anyone could put forward about it. Plus, it potentially answers the question (had anyone asked it) about why he didn’t wear this famous green sash at Stringybark Creek: because he hadn’t been given it yet.

      In the 1945 fourth edition pp. 234-235 Kenneally jumps straight from the introductory paragraph, “While the Kellys were living at Wallan, Ned Kelly saved the life of a boy who had fallen into a flooded creek. The boy’s father was so grateful for Ned’s heroic rescue of his son that he decided to make Ned a present of a very valuable ‘Green Silk Sash with a heavy bullion fringe’,” to the paragraph in the 1934 extract you can download above, “At the siege of Glenrowan….”.

      So the story of the gift of the sash that occupies about a full page worth of text in the 1934 third edition has been dropped from the 1945 fourth and subsequent editions. Is this significant?

      I don’t think so. It seems like a ‘ nice to know’ that Kenneally felt he could drop from his 1945 revision, a decade later. His key points are that the sash was awarded for the rescue, that it was “a very valuable ‘Green Silk Sash with a heavy bullion fringe’,” which he harps on in every edition, and that it was wrongly stolen from Kelly at Glenrowan and should be returned to Jim Kelly, who lived until 1946. The details of the gift are irrelevant to this claim for its return, but its valuable nature with the “gold bullion fringe” is not and I suspect that’s why the gifting story was dropped. Kenneally was on a mission for what he called justice, the return of the sash to the family. Pity the fringe turned out to be only the sort of gold ribbon used in school blazers, as we learn from Meredith and Scott’s “NK after a century of acrimony”. Such is life…

      And to stir the pot more, the sash does not belong to any Kelly descendants then or now. In the first place, Kelly had no descendants, and, according to Jim Kelly’s letter in Kenneally, he never had a girl. (Maybe that explains his psychotic rage, LOL.) Second, if the sash belongs anywhere, it is in the Victoria Police collection of evidence from Kelly’s armed offences at Glenrowan from where the sash was retrieved. In exactly the same way that one of the constables was required to hand over the revolver he had found on the ground there and souvenired at the time

      1. 25/2/22 – Further to the timeframe, Kenneally 1934 says the sash was gifted “while the Kelly Gang were on the run”. Before the Stringybark Creek murders it was just Ned and Dan on the run after the Fitzpatrick incident; the Kelly Gang emerged only with SBC. Kenneally says that the boy’s father said when giving it, “At that time, Ned refused to accept any money as an expression of my gratitude, and I decided to find something that he would accept. And I thought that the present time would be a suitable occasion on which to express my gratitude, admiration and confidence in him.”

        In other words, Shelton’s father seems to have accepted the SBC gunfight myth and the self-defence myth that Kenneally would propagate. Funny how that works.

        1. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

          As much as the idea of Ned being gifted the sash c November – December 1878 fits with the adult size of sash and the burning of the old pub, I still find it very odd Esau would be come bearing gifts for the newly outlawed Police-murdering Kelly Gang.

          Esau is described as ‘one of Avenel’s most respected citizens’, was a Justice of the Peace, and the first Avenel resident to be elected as Seymour Shire President (not sure what dates). Source:

          The worst thing I can turn up on his is a failure to declare scabby sheep in 1873. Source:

          Also, the fact he knew the gang was home and then was so easily able to walk his horse up to the house seems a bit too convenient.

          Perhaps he just fell for the Kelly self-defence story hook, line and sinker?

          Or maybe running a pub for about15 years, as Esau had by this point, makes one more comfortable with ‘shanty-dwellers’ like the Kellys?

  55. Hi Thomas, many strange things happen that defy obvious explanation! I don’t have any ideas why it might been that way, but Kenneally said it was so in 1934 and never said otherwise or gave an alternative story in 1945 or after. So I think it must be accepted just as we are apparently willing to accept that young Ned rescued a boy from a waterhole…

    1. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

      Yes, I agree. It is the earliest account of Esau gifting the sash so we have to go by it.

      Trying to work out what years Esau was the President of Seymour Shire. He seems to have been President from at least April 1871

      In August 1871 he is described as ‘liberal minded and intelligent member’ in the context of a contested election.

      Esau seems to have survived the challenge because he’s still president in September 1871 .

      Esau is again returned as President in November 1873 (unanimously).

      And he was elected to the council again in August 1880.

      Not quite clear to me when Esau lost the Presidency though.

      1. Well, if he was re-elected to the Council in 1880 then either no one had a problem with him giving the sash to Ned while Ned was on the run (!) or most likely no one knew about it.

        Maybe he had second thoughts about it when he learned the gang had tried to derail and massacre a trainload of police and railway crew at Glenrowan!

  56. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

    Or maybe he fell for the ‘take the police hostage as bargaining chips to free my mother’ story too?

    Strange that the family tradition, especially Ian “Bluey” Shelton, doesn’t make more of the detail of Esau meeting the Kelly Gang while they were on the run. That’s a pretty good yarn.

Leave a Reply