The Kelly Story for 2021 and beyond : PART TWO

There are some central facts about the Kelly story that nobody disputes such as these ones: In the short  space of twenty  months between  October 1878 and June 1880 Ned Kelly killed three policemen at Stringybark Creek and stole from their corpses, he robbed two banks of a lot of money, he sanctioned the murder of an old mate, Aaron Sherritt, and he attempted to murder a score or more police in a horrifying train wreck at Glenrowan. The difficult job people have who think Kelly was a hero is finding some way to explain why all these apparent brutal crimes are not brutal crimes at all but actions that in some way are consistent with their beliefs about Kelly that he was the embodiment of great Aussie values like looking after your mates and belief in a fair go for everyone. This dilemma is nowhere more comically illustrated than the  Facebook Page called “Ned Kelly Sympathisers” which bans anti-police posts as one of its rules of Membership! Have they forgotten that the whole point of their hero Ned Kellys entire campaign of violence and murder was ‘anti-police’? Its as absurd as would be a Facebook page dedicated to war that banned discussions about fighting. What’s even more absurd is that Ned Kelly himself wouldn’t be permitted to be a member of that group because he was entirely preoccupied with ‘anti-police’ rhetoric and actions.

In the first part of this discussion (HERE) I described two of the main claims that Kelly followers think excuses Kelly for his crimes: the first was Kellys own assertion that he was forced into this life of crime by police harassment and persecution, that he finally decided he had had enough and he took a brave stand against it, becoming a martyr in the process. The second was Ian Jones belief that Ned Kelly was politically motivated and was planning a kind of revolution in the North East, meaning his plans for Glenrowan were an act of war against a political enemy.

In Part One I showed how careful analysis of both of these ‘pillars’ of sympathiser belief are like the chimneys that once stood at the Eleven Mile – they’ve crumbled and are now rubble. 

In this Post I will analyse the other two ‘pillars’ of Sympathiser belief.



PILLAR THREE: Fitzpatrick was the cause of the Outbreak because he molested Kate Kelly and as a result of police corruption Mrs Kelly went to prison for trying to defend her, and the same corrupt police went after her sons who were forced to fight back.

The story of the Outbreak preferred by Kelly sympathisers relies considerably on the routine abuse and vilification of police but none is hated or has had his reputation more thoroughly trashed than Constable Alex Fitzpatrick. It’s taken 140 years but now it’s known for certain that almost everything said about him by the Kellys and their sympathisers from that day to this, and about what happened at the Kelly house when Fitzpatrick went there to arrest Dan Kelly are lies mixed in with conspiracy theories.  

We know for a fact that virtually every Kelly family member or friend who gave statements about what happened lied about it: Ned Kelly said he was hundreds of miles away at the time: everyone knows he was there – even Ian Jones accepted that Kelly was lying when he made that statement. Mrs Kelly and Kate Kelly when asked the day after the incident said at first that neither Ned Kelly nor Fitzpatrick had even been there the night before. Kate Kelly later claimed when Fitzpatrick arrived she was there on her own, but that’s another lie. We also know they lied about Fitzpatrick and every Kelly supporter ever since has repeated and embellished them, claiming he was drunk – he wasn’t – claiming he disobeyed orders  to go there – he didn’t; claiming he should have had an arrest warrant in his hand before he could arrest Dan Kelly – no, he didn’t; claiming he wasn’t shot by the Kellys – he was; claiming he was a known liar and should never have been in the police, claiming he was a womaniser who molested 14 year old Kate Kelly, claiming that he died of cirrhosis of the liver….on and on the litany of lies goes.

The claim that most triggers Kelly supporters is the one that he molested or even, as Kelly biographer John Molony claimed, raped Kate Kelly – and that’s one of the worst lies spoken about him, a claim which surprisingly enough Ned Kelly himself later on said wasn’t true. But such is the depth of their loathing, even Kellys own denial isn’t accepted by the police-hating Kelly admirers. But consider this: if it had been true, and it was the reason Fitzpatrick was assaulted, then, unless Mrs Kelly was a complete fool or was getting legal advice from an idiot, she would undoubtedly have pointed that out in her defence, when later charged and eventually sentenced for her role in the attempted murder of Fitzpatrick. If true, not only would that claim have likely resulted in her being set free, it would probably have ended the career of a man they evidently hated, Fitzpatrick. So why wasn’t it mentioned in Court as part of Mrs Kellys defence? The answer is simple: because, as Ned Kelly later said, it didn’t happen, and the false claim about molestation wasn’t invented till the following year by which time Mrs Kelly had been sent to prison and the Kelly Gang had murdered three police at Stringybark Creek.

A brilliant and comprehensive dismantling of the entire Fitzpatrick myth has been published by Stuart Dawson. It can be found online by looking for “Redeeming Fitzpatrick”. It’s another of Dawson’s analyses that as far as I know only one Kelly sympathiser has ever attempted – but failed – to refute. That bizarre evidence-free conspiracy theory is debunked HERE.

The Kelly sympathiser claim that Fitzpatrick was the cause of the outbreak is now officially dead. It was only ever an attempt by the Kellys to try to lie their way out of a massive screw up on their behalf, possibly mostly the fault of the hot tempered and uninformed  Ellen Kelly who wrongly believed a policeman could only arrest someone if they had the warrant in their hand – thats never been true and still isn’t.



PILLAR FOUR: The corrupt police searching for the Kellys in the Wombat ranges planned to kill them if they found them. They were in disguise, they were heavily armed, and they took special straps designed to assist in carrying back corpses – but the Gang surprised them in a fair fight and the police got what they deserved. Kelly only killed in self defence.

Kelly claimed that he killed Lonigan at Stringybark Creek in an act of self-defence. Kelly said instead of obeying the order to bail up, Lonigan ran back and got behind a pile of logs, then lifted his head up and was about to shoot but Kelly fired first and killed him – it was either kill or be killed: self-defence.

One powerful reason for dismissing the self-defence claim is that Kellys own defence team didn’t raise it at his trial for the murder of Lonigan. This surely means Gaunson and Bindon didn’t believe such a case could be made, or that it was very weak – and it’s obvious why: there was no evidence to support it other than Ned Kellys claim – but he would say that wouldn’t he? – he was fighting for his life.

Fortunately for history, Lonigan underwent a careful post mortem examination by Dr Samuel Reynolds and he showed that Lonigan couldn’t possibly have been hiding behind a “battery of logs” as Kelly claimed, because he had a wound in his left leg that had entered from the side, another wound through his left arm and of course the one that went through his right eye that killed him almost immediately. Reynolds also noticed that the wounds were all inflicted at once, meaning that Kellys gun was loaded with multiple projectiles, or a quartered bullet, as McIntyre later reported. The pattern of wounds Reynolds described could only have been made if Lonigan was out in the open, and within seconds of the order to bail up, exactly as McIntyre had said. In Court, Reynolds report would have been used to discredit a ‘self-defence ‘claim, if the defence team had decided to use it – but they didn’t.

The claim about self defence has collapsed : forensics exposes Kelly version as lies, as bullshit. Forget self defence. It was never self defence – it was murder.

Those murders were also not the result of anything like a fair fight. Lonigan didn’t manage to even withdraw his gun from its buttoned-down holster, let alone fire it. As Kelly himself later admitted in the Jerilderie letter, “any policeman or other man who does not throw up their arms directly as I call them knows the consequence which is a speedy despatch to Kingdom Come”. This warning describes exactly what happened to Lonigan, but it was delivered months after the debacle, not before. He was shot and killed within seconds of the order to Bail Up. 

Scanlan’s death was equally merciless and absolutely not the result of a fair fight, as he died well before he could fire a shot from the rifle slung across his back after falling from his horse.  Kennedy was the only one who managed to shoot back, but no-one could seriously claim as a fair fight, four armed criminals chasing down a single fleeing, then wounded then mortally wounded policeman with a six shooter. The outcome was inevitable. It was an act of sickening and inhumane cruelty, unforgivable.

To bolster the Kelly claim – now disproved – that police were only killed in self-defence, a variety of other fictions have been created, such as that the Police carried special ‘body straps’ with them, that they were heavily armed, that they were in disguise and that police had declared they would shoot to kill on sight.

We know these are all fictions because, for example, the historical record shows police took only one extra rifle (borrowed), a shot gun (borrowed) and some extra rounds of ammunition for their standard issue revolvers. By no definition is that ‘heavily armed’. The historical record also shows that police were not in disguise but as was common on bush patrols at the time were dressed in civilian clothes. The fiction about body straps was invented by Ian Jones who was merely passing on a dubious piece of oral history, but he later admitted that he had no idea if they were ever taken into the bush. However its recorded they took hand-cuffs, indicating they were hoping to catch Ned and Dan Kelly alive and bring them back to face the Courts.

What actually happened was this : the fugitive Kellys established a hideout in the Wombats and spent a lot of time practicing their marksmanship. All the trees nearby were later found to be riddled with bullet holes, with evidence of the bullets having been dug out and reused, indicating the Kellys were at the very least not planning to be taken easily. Once Ned Kelly knew police were in the region, many options were open to him, including lying low and hoping they wouldn’t be found, fleeing the area entirely, or handing themselves in to avoid a confrontation. Foolishly he chose the highest risk and stupidest option of all, an armed confrontation. He had seen how frightened unarmed travellers responded to Harry Powers armed confrontations, and watch him time and again relieve them of their possessions without a shot being fired. Kelly imagined he would do the same to the police patrol, failing to take into account the low chance that members of an armed trained police search party would react the same way as innocent travellers. Kelly was obviously highly anxious and on edge when he called on Lonigan and McIntyre to bail up, because the instant Lonigan appeared to not be bailing up, Kelly fired directly at him, and killed him. Not a warning shot but a lethal shot from a quartered bullet that hit Lonigan in four places at once. Absolutely disgraceful cold blooded murder.

Ive never believed Kelly went to SBC with a plan to kill the police. What he went there with was a stupidly unrealistic immature half baked and barely worked out plan for an ambush that had a very high likelihood of going terribly wrong and ending up with people, most likely police, being killed. And thats what happened – but they weren’t killings in ‘self defence’.

The self-defence argument is also now completely disproved, meaning nothing is left to explain Kellys life of crime other than the bleeding obvious: he was a notorious criminal

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29 Replies to “The Kelly Story for 2021 and beyond : PART TWO”

  1. I hold a different view of what happened at Stringybark Creek. As you state, Kelly chose confrontation, and his actions at SBC clearly show he was intending to do damage to the police rather than just take their guns, horses and other equipment. As soon as he called on McIntyre and Lonigan to bail up, and Lonigan moved a very short distance, he was shot dead. Kelly could have fired a warning shot, but he didn’t. His actions were murderous, and he achieved his aim, very effectively and very quickly, murdering Lonigan.
    A similar situation occurred with Scanlan, as when Kelly called out to bail up, he immediately opened fire on Scanlan and Kennedy. Neither officer had a chance to react before Kelly and his gang opened fire. Scanlan fell off his horse and landed on all fours on the ground and without a weapon in hand. As he tried to stand up, Kelly shot him in the chest. There was no warning shot, it was cold-blooded murder. As Scanlan had no weapon in hand, why was he shot dead, instead of being given the opportunity to surrender?
    Sgt Kennedy, having been chased through the bush for some 800 metres and being wounded again by Kelly, was murdered in cold blood by Kelly shooting him at point-blank range with a 12 gauge shotgun fired into the chest, killing him instantly. Even Kelly said that Kennedy pleaded for his life, telling Kelly that he had 5 young children and his wife was pregnant. Although Kelly said he was badly wounded, Dr. Reynolds stated at the RC that Kennedy received the fatal shot while he was standing up. That indicates clearly that he was not badly wounded, as Kelly claimed. Again, another cold-blooded murder. Kennedy, unarmed and wounded, could have been left alone. Kelly chose to execute him.
    What is often missed that adds to my view of intent to murder, was Wild Wright’s brother telling McIntyre not to go as he would be killed.
    Kelly had many options that would not have ended in murder, but he ignored those options and murdered all three officer in cold blood.
    Over the last couple of years, I have considered the mental state of Ned Kelly, and as Wild Wright himself said, “Ned Kelly is mad”, he may well have been correct, as clearly his behaviours and actions showed obvious signs of mental deterioration over a relatively long period, probably starting with the crazed actions of Kelly shooting at Fitzpatrick in the family home in 1878, that could only be described as strange to say the least, putting members of his family in serious danger.
    His actions at SBC, in my view, show a clear deterioration in rational behaviour, and at Glenrowan, when Kelly approached the police from his hiding place with possibly only 4 bullets in his revolver was, to say the least, very strange indeed.
    I have an open mind on the subject, but I am trending towards a degree of insanity, that could well explain his bizarre behaviours. Time will tell.

    1. Thanks Sam, very good points you raise, but what we are both trying to do is guess what was in Kellys mind when he went to SBC. Thats not an easy thing to do but I have given him the benefit of the doubt in saying that he didn’t go there with a plan to deliberately murder them. Instead I think what happened, as Ive already said was that he went there prepared to kill if there was any resistance, and he stupidly thought there wouldn’t be any. He didn’t have a plan B, he panicked, and once one policeman was dead then he immediately knew he too was a dead man walking and had nothing else to lose if others were killed ( another reason why the abolition of capital punishment makes sense – it saves more lives than just the life of the criminal…but thats another story!)

      The idiots who frequent Jack Petersons page think he couldnt possibly have been a cold blooded murderer because he didn’t murder every single policeman who came near him, and they point to McIntyres survival as proof, but there are several good reasons why Mcintyre was allowed to live at least initially, and we have a pretty good idea of what may have happened to him if he hadn’t managed to escape on Kennedys horse : execution!

      And actually Kelly himself wrote he was going to go one better than cold blooded murder and show us ‘wholesale and retail slaughter, something different to shooting three troopers in self defence’. He did indeed show us, with his plan for Glenrowan, but as usual his claim of shooting in self defence is a provable lie.

      1. Hi David, one thing tthat needs highlighting is your comment that “One powerful reason for dismissing the self-defence claim is that Kellys own defence team didn’t raise it at his trial for the murder of Lonigan.” The reason for that is in McIntyre’s manuscript, where he said that he was grilled by Gaunson at Kelly’s Beechworth committal hearing, and that he couldn’t swear to some of his evidence because he didn’t have a copy of the first statement he made when he returned from Stringybark Creek. After the committal he wrote to Melbourne where they found his statement after an extensive search in the files, and sent it to him to copy and return. That original statement proved that his Beechworth testimony was fully consistent with what he had stated in his report at the time. His statement then went into the Prosecution file for Kelly’s Melbourne trial. As McIntyre said in his memoir, the reason he wasn’t cross-examined any more about his statement is because it was fully consistent with what he had said verbally in court at Beechworth and showed there was nothing to support a claim self-defence.

        Enter stage left that incompetent amateur who nearly 80 years later argued that the recollection of McIntyre’s statement by Sadleir, in his Recollections of a Victorian Police Officer, was an exact rransription from McIntyre’s first statement, because it was in quote marks, and that it supported Kelly’s tale of Lonigan having got behind a log and being shot by Kelly in self defence as Lonigan raised his pistol to shoot. The naieve amateur sleuth didn’t notice that the quote marks simply marked off Sadleir’s recollection of the events that McIntyre had described to him some thirty years previously, from the rest of Sadleir’s text. Sadleir gave a voice to McIntyre as best he could when he recalled McIntyre’s words.

        Worse, the amateur “expert” who had poured over the Prosecution brief either didn’t see, or deliberately and maliciously lied about, the fact that McIntyre’s dated first statement was in the file. On the basis of his utter incompetence or lying, he then accused McIntyre of perjury by priviledging Sadleir’s recollection of what McIntyre told him decdes ago over several rounds of consistent sworn testimony under rigorous cross-examination. The false lying tale was repeated in many other Kelly books influenced by the “expert” from 1968 onwards.

        Enter stage right a clutch of elite legal eagles eager to test their powers against Judge Barry’s judgement and get Kelly off the hook (including through mock recreations of Kelly’s trial where they made fun of McIntyre). Starting with Louis Waller in 1968 Man & Myth, they all swallowed the expert’s idiotic blundering about Sadleir’s recollection being a direct transcription of McIntyre’s first statement, and from that false fuoundation joined in the rush to take McIntyre (and Barry) down. The law is an ass; but the “expert’s” repeated accusations of perjury against a very good man, McIntyre, for no reason except his own incompetence in the files shows him up as a hopeless and very nasty minded amateur.

        1. Hi Stuart, you are such a brilliant sleuth! The way in which youve unpicked that issue about McIntyres statements about SBC is superb.

          McIntyre is yet another good man whose reputation has been trashed by a small group of Kelly conspiracy theorists and jones acolytes, and its happening right now on a Facebook page Ive been banned from commenting on. A desperate police hating conspiracy theorist who writes essays called Keep ya Powder dry on the abandoned Iron Outlaw website just this week on a FB page scoffed at McIntyre and as he has done many time before, called him a liar,. He wouldn’t dare take you on Stuart.

          Outright lies and abuse and vilification of police was the stock-in-trade for Ned Kelly and most of his modern day admirers engage in that same behaviour with great enthusiasm. A few within their ranks who know better wont dare raise objections to it because to do so would be to expose their own hypocrisy – objecting to police abuse while expressing admiration for the greatest police abuser of all, their hero Ned Kelly. Cognitive dissonance is what its called.

          1. Hi David, No need for compliments about brilliant sleuthing; all that’s happened is that Sadleir wrote from memory and inadvertently incorporated the Kelly version of Lonigan and the log that had received intense publicity over the years. The first McIntyre statement was in the Prosecution file and McIntyre also transcribed it from his own copy into his memoir so faithfully that he acknowledged he got the name of the creek wrong in that first statement and pointed out his own error there for whoever read his memoir. Dingbat read both and still stuck to his wacky theory of a Sadleir transcription against the concrete evidence in front of his face. Fraud, fraud, the mopoke called.

            I don’t waste any time on the Kelly cultist websites; they have been redundant since Ian MacFarlane’s ‘Kelly Gang Unmasked’ came out in 2012. It’s heading for 4 years I think since I looked at any of them. That’s Jurassic park over there.

            I do remember that YaPowder Puff had an excellent argument for Kelly’s birth date being June 1855 that I copied and pasted for reference years ago and am happy to recommend even though he abused me online about my Redeeming Fitzpatrick article.

          2. And another thing, when Sadleir wrote in p. 187 of his Recollections, that “His [McIntyre’s] story, as he then told it to me [the second day following the police murders], was this”, he did NOT say here is the report McIntyre gave me. It is a recollection, not a transcript. Just another howling blunder from the Kelly “expert” that no one ever challenged on facts because he was such a great guy.

            Where was his response to Ian MacFarlane’s 2012 book? Where was his response to my 2015 “Redeeming Fitzpatrick” article? Where was his response to my Republic myth busting book? *crickets*. All he did after the Republic myth book was question my motivation in the Border Mail without having read it, although I had emailed it to his secretary, the Kelly Vault and the Burke Museum the week before. Expert?

            1. In fairness Stuart I think Jones health was deteriorating over those last few years, and I understand at some point he had a stroke so probably wasnt up to formulating a proper response to your challenges to his narrative. Having said that, when he WAS up to making responses to challenges he tended to dismiss them and make disparaging remarks about their authors.

              Do you have the quote from the Border Mail where you say he questioned your motivation? What was the article about ?

  2. It is very sad that Ian Jones health, or anyone’s health, went downhill and I never expected a full response to any of my articles from him, given his past performances of dismissing Alex Castles’ ‘NK’s Last Days’ with viscous sarcasm in the Age, and writing off anyone who disagreed with him as “marred by extreme selectivity, exaggeration, blatant omission, factual error and occasional fabrication” as he does in writing in the preface to Short Life, which describes his own approach to Kelly exactly as a lot of research is increasingly demonstrating. Not to mention his free ranging put-downs of others on video from the Beechworth Ned Kelly Weekend around 2013.

    If you google my name and his and Monash historian, each in inverted commas, and maybe border mail as well, you’ll find it. If you can’t I’ll find a scan for you. He was dissing the Republic debunking book without having bothered to look at it. Typical, the same way he told FitzSimons not to read Ian MacFarlane’s book.

  3. Hi David, here is it – Ian Jones’s response to my 2018 Ned Kelly and the Myth of a Republic of North-Eastern Victoria was to avoid reading it (despite my emailing it to his secretary, the Burke Museum and the Kelly Vault), and then to publicly question my motivation,

    1. Thanks Stuart unfortunately that Link displays the Headline and a photo of Jones but you have to sign up to read the article. Can you supply the text of the article?

  4. Hi David, here you go, with Jones treating me to the customary sarcasm he used on anyone who questioned his theories:

    “Mr Jones said critics of the declaration ‘have to say it doesn’t exist because obviously they are so bright, if it did exist, they would know about it’.”

    He’s so fing bright he made up an entire colonial history with no evidence at all. Sheesh.

    1. FULL TEXT
      NED Kelly author Ian Jones has been accused of driving the greatest hoax in 20th century Australian history by declaring republicanism motivated the Glenrowan siege. Monash University historian Stuart Dawson has written that Kelly’s republicanism is a “romantic fantasy with no documentary evidence to support it”.
      His work “Ned Kelly and the Myth of a Republic of North-Eastern Victoria” takes particular aim at Mr Jones, who has promoted the bushranger’s supposed political agenda since 1967. “The tale of the Kelly republic is a complex narrative most fully indebted to master scriptwriter Ian Jones, built on a wrongly claimed uncertainty about Kelly’s movements in the few minutes immediately after the second police volley at Glenrowan, highly selective evidence, and Lloyd’s creative oral history,” Dr Dawson wrote.
      The latter point refers to Kelly relative Thomas Lloyd who told Mr Jones in 1964 of the preservation of a copy of the declaration of a republic the bushranger was reported to have made. Dr Dawson rates the Kelly republic as “Australia’s greatest 20th century history hoax” after it was recorded in a spoof in The Bulletin periodical in 1900.
      Mr Jones said he had not read Dr Dawson’s piece. Asked what he thought of the hoax description, Mr Jones replied by querying Dr Dawson’s rationale. “I wish I knew a little bit more about Stuart Dawson,” Mr Jones said. I’d love to know what his motivations are for this; I think it’s something rather more than a dedicated search for historical truth.”
      Dr Dawson declined to speak to The Border Mail, writing in an email “because the Kelly world is so polarised, (the book) needs to be looked at on the evidence presented”.
      Mr Jones said critics of the declaration “have to say it doesn’t exist because obviously, they are so bright, if it did exist, they would know about it”.
      He cited the Jerilderie Letter and the work of late Victorian Chief Justice John Harber Phillips in support of his view.
      “John said there was hard evidence and John was a man who was a lawyer and as chief justice was highly experienced in weighing fact,” Mr Jones said. “He was a meticulous scholar and I met him over the phone many years ago when he was researching Ned Kelly’s trial and I was tremendously impressed by the depth of his research.”
      Dr Dawson wrote if there was validity to the republic claim Kelly would have mentioned it after his capture and his family would have spoken of it.
      But Mr Jones said Kelly would have feared his family and associates would be prosecuted for treason.
      Ned Kelly Vault founder Matt Shore says there is “something in” the idea the 19th century bushranger had desires for a republic in the North East. “I’m not convinced either way, but there’s too much oral history to discount some sort of concept,” the Beechworth tourism operator said. “Personally I don’t think it was a fully-fledged concept. “It was an ‘up yours’ gesture from Ned, but I think there was something in it. “The descendants say they grew up with the idea, but the hard part is there is no proof.”
      Mr Shore said he had spoken recently to a man who reported that he had seen the declaration made by Kelly of a republic. However, he said the man would not go public with his pronouncement because, in the world of Kelly aficionados, he would be treated akin to somebody that believes in UFOs after spotting an extraterrestrial spacecraft.
      CREDIT: Anthony Bunn


  5. 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 nuts claim 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?

    Have Kelly nuts been making it all up all along?


    1. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

      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. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

        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. Hi Thomas, 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 Neddy.

        1. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

          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…

          1. 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..

          2. 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.

        2. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

          Just stumbled upon this amazing little video from 1973!


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

          1. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply


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

          2. 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.

            Attachment  Benalla-sash.pdf

    2. Attempts were made by the VIFM to extract DNA from that sash when they were trying to work out which of the bones dug up at Pentridge belonged to Ned Kelly. They were unsuccessful but that was more than ten years ago and the science has developed considerably since then so maybe someone should try again. Wouldnt it be funny if the blood on it belonged to someone else?

      If it was found to be Ned Kellys I suppose that wouldn’t in itself verify the claims made about the sash, that it was given to him as a reward for rescuing Dick. But it IS interesting that the Dick Rescue story didnt appear till decades after almost everyone was dead.

      1. Hi David, I think there is no doubt about the blood being Kelly’s and the sash being the one that was removed from the wounded Kelly at Glenrowan. The provenance is clear.

        My question is whether that is the same sash as the one claimed to have been given to Kelly as a boy when he pulled Little Richard out of the waterhole, given that we know that on the occasion of the Stringybark Creek murders, that Kelly was wearing a bright red sash.

        My point about the length of the 7 foot (2.2 metre) Glenrowan sash being ridiculous as a reward for a boy, even a solid one as young Kelly was said to have been, is seen in the photo of the woman from the Benalla Historical Society with it draped around her. The photo is on page 133 of Meredith and Scott’s “Ned Kelly after a century of acrimony”. Unfortunately my scan wouldn’t upload for some reason.

        What links he Glenrowan sash to the Shelton sash apart from folklore 60 to 70 years after the events, given another sash in the middle? And when did that folklore start? So far nothing before 1945, but the search continues.

  6. “This lesson plan has been designed to teach students about rivers and creeks
    through the story ‘Ned Kelly’s Green Sash’.”

    Ned Kelly relics have much to teach us about Georgraphy. In fact, if the Kelly gang hadn’t gone around dressed up as fancy larrikins in tin suits shooting at policemen, we wouldn’t know much at all about rivers and creeks.

    Ned Kelly is an important part of the Victorian curriculum. We can do learn more about Ned Kelly every week. Bushrangers make learning things exciting and relevant. You’ll be painting armour at Art time, and you can put your pictures up here for when we learn where Glenrowan was and what is is famous for.

    Next week’s lesson is about how respectful bushwalking helps preserve the bush for everyone to enjoy. We’ll talk about how Ned Kelly’s famous boots, that were taken from him at Glenrowan, carried him carefully around the bush so that native birds and animals always had somewhere safe to live.

    At the end of the term we’ll have an old gentleman bushranger called Harry come to school and tell us about his life on the road and how to survive in the bush if you get lost.

    Get lost.


  7. […]  REPLY 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. […]

  8. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

    Flicking through McMenomy (1984) I noticed this little detail in the interview with Ned set out on p. 164.


    ‘…I was going down to meet the special train with some of my mates, and intended to rake it with shot’ but it arrived before I expected, and I then returned to the hotel. I expected the train would go, and I had the rails pulled up so that these — black trackers might be settled. I do not know what brought me to Glenrowan, but it seems much.’

    [Ned then explains how he could have got away but instead ‘lay there all night’ because he wanted ‘to see the thing end’ and was wounded in left foot and left arm]

    … One policeman who was firing at me was a splendid shot, but I do not know his name. I daresay I would have done well to ride away on my grey mare. The bullets that struck my armour felt like blows from a man’s fist. I wanted to fire into the carriages, but the police started on us too quickly. I expected the police to come’.

    So is Ned saying his plan was to fire on the train moments before it was wrecked?

    And then, in Ned’s own words, when the train was not wrecked, he says the gang left the Inn with the intention of going down and opening fire into the train carriages but couldn’t because the police surrounded the Inn too quickly.

    Maybe this point about firing into carriages has always been obvious to others but having a plan to fire into train carriages in the dark feels very different to going out to face your enemy in a siege / stand up battle.

    1. Hi Thomas, when he says, “I was going down to meet the special train with some of my mates, and intended to rake it with shot but it arrived before I expected”, they were going to meet it when it had been derailed where they he pulled up the tracks and tipped into the culvert, and rake it from on top of the culvert clad in the armour. The plan is explained on video by John McQuyilton and Judith Douthie standing on the rail bend at the culvert. But the arrived before he expected, and indeed stopped before where the treacks were pulled up so the plan went awry. For the video link and video time location search my Republic Myth book for Douthie and you’ll find it in the footnotes.

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