I started reading my Kindle copy of this book at 0530 today. A full review of this just-released work about the Outbreak is in preparation, but in the meantime, here’s something from the book to start the discussion off.


Last week, well before publication date, an article in the Age newspaper about the book was headlined “No hero: New Ned Kelly book wins praise from police chief”. In my opinion that wasn’t a very helpful headline – it was designed to get a rise out of Kelly admirers by mentioning the police chief – and they didn’t disappoint. All the usual Kelly Facebook pages immediately exploded with angry denunciations of the book and its author, even though not one of them had yet had a chance to read it. They were just continuing the tradition made popular in Kelly circles by Mick Fitzsimons, of rubbishing books they’ve never read; knowing nothing about something hasn’t ever stopped Kelly fanatics so I shouldn’t have been surprised:


“Ned Kelly is the most iconic hero ever googled, Just ask Google nobody is gonna buy this book it’s a piece of trash”

How about this :

Junk like this will be in the $1 bin before you know it….where it belongs!”

Many other comments are unprintable.


In a list of many interesting claims about the Outbreak said to be discussed in the book, the article said this:

“It (the book) argues that James Wallace, a King Valley school teacher, post master and friend of Kelly Gang member Joe Byrne, probably wrote the famous Jerilderie Letter in which Kelly airs his grievances.”

On the FB page devoted to Joe Byrne, this then appeared:

“Just a little FYI to the author of this book and those who may decide to read it, James Wallace did not pen the Jerilderie letter. This is a claim that has never been put forward until now and is quite laughable. (Although in truth it just pisses me off.) The letter is clearly in Joe’s hand, as referenced by other material Joe wrote, including a ballad penned by Joe about the gang. (Which the author hasn’t seen.) There are also parts of his style and voice within the letter, and this too is referenced by other material. Even Superintendent Hare noted Joe’s cleverness with a pen and his ability to shape words, which given his education was a testament to his intellect. Not to mention, also, that Ned and Joe were seen writing the letter by Mrs Devine…

Honestly, why the extremes? It is not smart or groundbreaking to rewrite history. (On either side.) And if you’re going to deny Joe the hours he spent writing and polishing Ned’s words, because you either believe he wasn’t clever enough, or because he was so addled with drink and opium, we have an even bigger problem.”


Stones, like the people quoted above is ‘pissed off’ that someone might have a different opinion from hers, and calls it ‘laughable’ though like the people quoted above at that time she had no idea what the case might be for the alternative author. Her own case, expressed above is that

a) the JL handwriting ‘is clearly in Joes hand as referenced by other material’,

b) it contains Joes ‘style and voice’

c) Superintendent Hare noted Joe’s cleverness with a pen and his ability to shape words

d) Ned and Joe were seen writing the letter by Mrs Devine


Before looking at the argument now revealed in the book released today that Wallace may have written the JL, I point out in regards to a) that expert handwriting analysis of the JL and the Sherritt letter was undertaken and published in 2014 by Dr Tahnee Dewhurst, a Senior Forensic Document Examiner with Victoria Police. This highly qualified expert did NOT agree that the handwriting is ‘clearly’ Joes – in fact it was so unclear she was unable to offer an opinion. (Chapter 22 of NK Under the Microscope; Ed Craig Cormick). I am not aware of Stones credentials in the science of handwriting analysis.


In reference to b) alleging that the JL contains what is claimed to be the ‘style and voice’ of Joe surely begs the question, and is essentially a circular and invalid argument : the reason we know its Joes style and voice is because he wrote the Jerilderie letter, and we know Joe wrote the letter because it  contains his style and voice….hmmmm.


In regard to Hares opinion, first let’s see the reference, but second, so what? The issue is not Hares opinion of how clever Joe Byrne was but was Byrne the author who wrote the JL? In any case Joe was only supposed to have been recording Kellys words not his own. And Mrs Devine saw them writing the JL did she? My understanding is that the letter was completed and then taken to Jerilderie so it could be printed. I am happy to be corrected but again, let’s see the source for that claim.


So now we come to the assertion in Nabbing Ned that it may have been the schoolteacher James Wallace who wrote the JL. Importantly, as the Age headline says, Dufty argues for his view that Wallace ‘probably’ wrote the Jerilderie letter – and in the very last chapter of the book he produces a fascinating and compelling argument in support.


To start with, it’s a fact that nobody is sure who wrote it, but everyone seems to agree it wasn’t Ned Kelly, and everyone seems to agree that a few months after the JL was written Joe Byrne DID write a letter to Aaron Sherritt. Looking at the grammar and spelling, Dufty asks why, if both letters were written by Byrne did he misspell words in the Sherritt letter that a few months earlier he knew how to spell correctly? In the JL he wrote ‘traitor to his country’ but a few months later wrote ‘I was advised to turn treater’ a misspelling that Stones attributed to Byrne “pausing to sound out the words he’s trying to spell with his colonial twang” (Questions and Answers : An Outlaws But why would he do that if he had already spelled it correctly in the JL? Why ‘his life was insured’ in the JL but a few months later ‘ a short live but a merry one’?


Dufty believes these peculiar discrepancies, along with the graphological uncertainties rule out Byrne as the author of the Jerilderie letter. So why Wallace?


Dufty identifies schoolteacher Wallace as the only realistic candidate :  he was closely connected to the Gang, he was a close friend of Byrnes and visited his mother often, he was known to have provisioned the Gang on occasion and sheltered them and yet he was also a  police spy who submitted many long, detailed and carefully written reports. “Nobody else involved in the events of the Kelly outbreak produced as much written work as James Wallace” (p355)


 Moreover, Dufty located an admission by Wallace that he had written a death threat in Joes handwriting to a Beechworth resident who had co-operated with police.


What would be so surprising, knowing what Wallace was capable of, if the less well educated and less erudite gang members turned to someone they trusted and asked for help in crafting the message they wanted to get across? It’s entirely feasible.


Dufty compared known writing of Wallace with the JL which had been so carefully and neatly copied from drafts that it contains very few mistakes or corrections. The style was somewhat generic and not typically Wallace or Byrne or anyone’s in particular according to prior analysis. However, Duftys sharp eye noted that in the very few places where there were errors that required correction, indicating lapses in concentration, the corrections often included words written in a style that was uniquely Wallace’s. Its quite a startling revelation.


Dufty reconstructed a few lines from the JL using words extracted from a document known to be in Wallace’s handwriting: the resemblances were striking.


So, did Wallace write the JL? According to Dufty, who has written a fascinating exploration of the possibility, he probably did. Of the two arguments, I find his the most compelling, but if a better one can be made for Byrne, lets hear it.

(Visited 1,150 times)


  1. Sharon Hollingsworth says: Reply

    I also always assumed that the letter was finished before the gang arrived in Jerilderie, too. But during the time the Kellys were in Jerilderie Ned Kelly read some of the J Letter to Mrs. Devine (Sgt Devine’s wife) but she could remember none of it two days later.

    1. Always great to hear from you Sharon! You’ve got a Kindle copy like me?

      Poor Mrs Devine ! So traumatised. by it all she couldn’t remember anything, apart from Ned Kelly reading some of it of it to her. Can you remember where you read that? I am not expecting to hear from Georgina Stones, but who knows, if she finds her references it would be good to see them.

      Ive spotted a couple of mistakes – which are inevitable – and no doubt you will find a few more but I think Dufty has done an amazing job all by himself – as opposed to others who have a team of researchers to assist. I wonder if being on your own frees you up to explore ideas that a team might have to be persuaded to pursue?

      1. Sharon Hollingsworth says: Reply

        That tidbit about Mrs. Devine and Ned reading part of the letter to her was in Samuel Gill’s “Jerilderie Gazette” coverage of the event. Text of the article was reprinted in McMenomy’s book. I do recall that at Euroa Joe Byrne was seated at a desk and doing some writing most likely the Cameron Letter. Remember he asked Mrs. Fitzgerald for stamps so he could mail it. I was wondering did he put finishing touches on the J Letter while there? Or was that complete by then? (December 1878) No, I have not gotten the e-book yet. Waiting for the price to maybe drop a little.

    2. I think George Devine was a Senior Constable, Sharon. Nice of you to give him a promotion. 🙂

      1. Sharon Hollingsworth says: Reply

        Haha! Thanks for the gentle correction! 😉 Bet he could have used the pay raise! Yeah, I had done a piece on Devine’s life after Jerilderie and did correctly call him Sr Constable in that but others had been quoted in the papers as referring to him as Ex-sergeant Devine, even going as far as saying he was one of the traps under the bed at Sherritt’s hut! At least I am not that confused! teehee

  2. Anonymous says: Reply

    Fascinating possibility. Wallace certainly had the credentials. Still waiting for my copy of this book though so more thoughts will follow. Kiezas the kelly hunters is proving very fascinating in the meantime though.

  3. I haven’t got to the end section where Nabbing Ned discusses authorship of the JL yet, but I think we can dispose of handwriting analysis theories immediately. We know that the JL was a rant that covered the same ground as the Cameron/Euroa letter. We know that at least two copies of the Euroa letter were posted to Melbourne, to Standish and Sadleir. So the core content which may be called the master copy for convenience, was written long before the JL.

    We know a third 16 page version of the letter was sent to Melbourne in July 1879 with identical phrasing to the Euroa and Jerilderie letters (as per McMenomy and detailed in my free Republic Myth book, pp 21-22), further corroborating the existence of a master copy. The question then becomes who wrote the Euroa letter, not who wrote the JL.

    We know that Kelly gave several live rants to captives that followed the general line of these letters, at Euroa, Jerilderie and Glenrowan. It was something of a well rehearsed set of grievances and self-justifications post- his SBC murders, and rooted in the Fitzpatrick incident – entirely of his own making – that had resulted in his mother being gaoled.

    The key question for me in all this is who wrote the original Cameron letter master copy from which the JL was expanded. Handwriting analysis is wholly irrelevant as that can only be about who wrote the expanded copy – and that is most unlikely to have been Wallace, who was presumably hanging around Hurdle Creek while the gang was careering around the north east and NSW. It is a different question whether Wallace might have had any hand in the original Cameron/Euroa letter master copy, but the JL? No, seems not.

    1. Just to note, I have not yet got to the claim outlined above in the main topic post that in several places the JL reflects a style that is uniquely Wallace’s. I will check this out soon; but it is worth remembering that Jerilderie school teacher Elliott was completely dismissive of the JL as raving drivel.

    2. Stuart I don’t think anyone is suggesting that these letters were all entirely the work of Wallace and nothing to do with Kelly or Byrne. Rather I think the idea is that Wallace helped them organise their thinking and get their ideas and perhaps some of his into print, and yes the Cameron letter was an earlier version. But someone sat down, with earlier versions as a guide, with pen and paper and carefully and laboriously wrote out the JL that was eventually handed in at Jerilderie . Was it Joe? Or Ned? Or maybe Wallace?

      Dufty alludes to the earlier versions but says analysis of them is not going to be helpful; because they are copies, whereas the JL is the original document, and I think correctly makes the point that whoever wrote the JL was likely the author of the earlier versions. . I am not sure why you so easily dismiss the possibility that handwriting analysis might be able to tell us something.

      Maybe when youve read that last chapter you will have a different view!

      1. No worries, will do

  4. Anonymous says: Reply

    As you know David (and Sharon too), I have been researching James Wallace for many years and have been trying to bring the results of that research together in book form.
    I have been given the original research material compiled by an amateur historian by the name of Arthur Hall who put together a publication called “The Headmaster of Hurdle Creek”. Arthur had a lot of other material on Wallace which did not make it into that publication.
    I have also been in touch with numerous descendants of the Wallace family and have in my possession a number of Wallace manuscripts, including numerous drafts of his response to the adverse findings made against him by the Royal Commissioners. There is plenty more written material there for Dufty’s handwriting expert to analyse.
    I had already concluded from the work that I have done that Wallace had a significant part to play in the drafting of the Jerilderie Letter. Unfortunately David Dufty has beaten me to the scoop!
    I must pull my finger out and get this book of mine finished. A big reason why I haven’t finished it is that the research done by people like Ian McFarlane and Stuart Dawson and also the information that has come to light through your Ned Kelly “Death of the Legend” and “True Story” blogs needs to be taken on board in any analysis of the role played by Wallace. It is an interesting exercise.

    1. Sharon Hollingsworth says: Reply

      Peter, it isn’t a good feeling to have someone else beat you to the punch. I suppose you could put in that section that you saw what Dufty had but that you already had it and that great minds think alike! 🙂 The Nabbing Ned e-book went down in price so I got it and have started reading, am about half way through. Most facts seem solid and he certainly dives deep into many of the incidents and people. One question I have for anyone who has the print version of the book. Where Dufty has “Arthur Maude Loftus Steele” in the ebook I am wondering if it was a typo done for the ebook conversion? It should be “Arthur Loftus Maule Steele” as that is what is on his gravestone and how all other writers have it. Also, one other thing regarding Aaron Sherritt. I remember that Hare had said that even in the coldest weather that Aaron would be in shirt sleeves but I sure don’t recall ever reading that he would go “shoeless” like Dufty states. Anyone ever see that anywhere?

  5. Anonymous says: Reply

    I meant to use my own name in posting the above reply, rather than post as Anonymous. It has been so long since I have posted anything here, that I have forgotten how to do it.
    Regards, Peter Newman

    1. Yes Peter, pull the finger out and get the findings of your the research out there! I think Wallace is going to turn out to be one of THE most interesting characters in the story. His behaviour makes Aarons so called treachery look like a tea party for toddlers!

      I am sensing more than ever now, with this latest book that the tide really has turned : I am just sorry that Ian MacFarlane is not here to see what has resulted from his brave decision to publish all HIS research findings and get the ball rolling. If you look into his great book today, he touches on almost every single thing mentioned in Duftys book, not always in detail but pointing out all the issues that warrant further investigation, including for example noting that Wallace imitated Joe Byrnes writing.

      But now I really do think the momentum has swung away from the Jones mythology, as noticed by the journo who wrote that article in the Age last week, and we are really getting to the truth of the Outbreak in all its complexity.

      The die-hard Kelly fanatics will never change but they are an ever decreasing minority.

      1. Yes Peter, as James Wallace gr-grand daughter, I am waiting in great anticipation , for your book. I did research with Arthur Hall, it was his obsession, to get James recognised.

  6. Hi Peter, I have been ploughing through the new book which is very impressive and has a number of interesting things to say about Wallace, who you have mentioned before. As you have hitherto unknown info about Wallace it would be great to see it come to light one day. I’m not sure how much weight might be given to Wallace as distinct from some other as yet unknown person who might or might not have been involved in drafting or helping to write Kelly’s letters, but these are interesting speculations.

    The JL has always struck me as something of a deranged rant, and as I showed with a visual representation at the back of the Republic Myth book, there are large overlaps with the Cameron letter content. This makes the Cameron/Euroa letter the prime source for what Kelly wanted to say. I think Jones shifted the public focus from the Euroa to the JL because he was captured by its polemic, and also he had it for years and treated it as a revelation; but those added rants add nothing substantial to its claims and content.

    Brown, who published the JL in his 1948 Australian Son called it “by far Kelly’s best single written statement”, but that seems largely because of its length which he wrongly gave as 8,300 words, about a thousand too many, and the absence of much else from Kelly, not because of its sense or merit.

  7. Hi David, now that I have read the relevant chapter, ‘Who wrote the Jerilderie letter?’, I’m back. This section created controversy online just from the publisher’s blurb, before the book was even available, which is pretty good going! Dufty makes a number of remarks through the book about the authorship of Kelly’s letters. He asserts on pp. 228-29 that Kelly didn’t write the Cameron or Jerilderie letters and that someone “who had a flair for writing self-constructed, powerful prose and had a deep grudge against the English”, wrote it for him. Byrne’s old schoolmate and now teacher James Wallace is suggested as the most likely author; but Jerilderie school teacher William Elliott thought little of its much-discussed length (“it would not have occupied more than two columns space… in a newspaper”) and described it as “little better than emanations of wild fancies from a disordered brain”, hardly a testimony to a fellow school-teacher’s writing ability if that claim be valid.

    I do not insist that Kelly or Byrne, or both of them, wrote the letters (or the master text which was then copied again for posting), nor that they did not have help to write it; but I also do not reject Kelly and Byrne as the authors. There is a discussion to be had here. In favour of their authorship are the words of Kelly to Mrs Gill, the printer’s wife, at Jerilderie: “This is a bit of my life. I hadn’t time to finish it. I’ll finish it another time. Will you print it?” Kelly spoke in the first person of its being his work. Possibly he narrated it to Byrne, the better writer. Possibly he narrated the master copy of the Euroa letter and Byrne expanded it into the rant of the Jerilderie letter which closely shadows it. It was a well-rehearsed narrative of lies delivered on multiple occasions including to his captives at Euroa, Jerilderie and Glenrowan. Inconsistency in what has been claimed to be Byrne’s spelling in different letters is discussed on pp. 255-56, but inconsistency is a characteristic of poor literacy, and there is nothing to suggest that the expansionist rants in Jerilderie letter were not written while chugging on some booze; quite to the contrary. Byrne’s letter to Sherritt ends with the writer signing himself “the enforced outlaw”, strikingly similar to the sign-off of the Euroa letter from “a forced outlaw”.

    Turning now to the chapter itself, while Wallace is known to have written letters intended to aid the gang on the run, and to have supplied and sheltered them for a time in a remote hut up behind his property, it remains a circumstantial argument that Wallace was the original author. While Dufty points out some similarities in some letter shapes between the Jerilderie and Sherritt letters, there are also discrepancies (he mentions the absence of lopsided figure 8s in the JL); but as all Victorians who experienced school were taught a similar writing style, any number of persons would write in letters that were broadly similar in shape to one another. In other words, it is not compelling that the writer of the Jerilderie letter was Wallace, regardless of some similar handwriting; and given also that we know that Wallace wrote some letters in a deliberately concealed handwriting style.

    Further, whatever handwriting evidence exists says nothing about who wrote the original master letter, which necessarily underpinned its two copied Euroa letters known to have been sent. At best it could only indicate the copyist. Dufty contends p. 358 that “if Wallace wrote the Jerilderie letter, then he also wrote the Cameron letter”, but that is a big “if” working backwards. If Wallace had written the Euroa letter, why would he have later expanded it into the deranged and disorganised rant of the Jerilderie letter? Would he not have tried to present Kelly’s case coherently, as Kelly’s lawyer Gaunson did when he penned the famous “I do not pretend that I have lived a blameless life” text on Kelly’s behalf in August 1880, which for decades many claimed were the words of Kelly himself?

    Another contentious suggestion is that Dan Kelly wrote the 1870 “black snake” letter that asked Babington to direct his correspondence to Daniel Kelly at Greta post office. I think it more likely that Dan’s writing ability was non-existent and that Ned Kelly simply used his younger brother’s name as his own was already notorious; and Ned was after all the one who had dealings with Babington. I am unpersuaded by Dufty’s final suggestion, that “it is possible that apart from classroom exercises, neither [Kelly or Byrne] wrote anything at all”, primarily due to Joe Byrne’s reputation as a balladeer (Meredith and Scott, “Ned Kelly after a century of acrimony”, p. 97), and to have written poison pen letters to the police, long vanished from the police archives. I am inclined to continue to accept Kelly as the main narrator and Byrne as the “improver”, and to suggest the Jerilderie letter was copied out from an original master version and expanded under the influence of liquor as it was written out over several days in stages and in different inks. Still, it is the first time that a serious challenge to the long-accepted authorship of the letters as of Kelly and/or Byrne has been mounted, and the argument is worth the read just for that reason, regardless that the question is likely unsolvable, but still worth asking for all that.

    Having now read it right through, I think this book is a masterful historical narrative that combines rigorous historical research with an engaging and highly readable writing style. The two speculative chapters at the end about the armour and the JL are a bonus. So much emerges in the book that has been selectively omitted by partisan Kelly authors, whose commentary on the Kelly hunt is now rendered effectively redundant and whose omissions can be seen as deliberate bias rather than simply poor research. (My article, “Ned Kelly’s shooting of George Metcalf, labourer”, was written solely to expose the blatantly dishonest manipulation of historical evidence by some widely read Kelly authors to push a false historical narrative.) A generous 24 pages of photographs in the centre of the book, often with three or four to a page, add further interest and include some taken especially for this book. For anyone with an interest in a well-told Kelly story and a concern for accurate and well-referenced history, ‘Nabbing Ned Kelly’ is a must-read.

  8. I have not yet received David Dufty’s book, so I cannot make a definitive comment. However, if one looks through documents written at the time by better educated members of society, their grammar is reasonably well constructed.
    The JL is a conglomeration of poorly constructed sentences, spelling errors, and incorrect grammar. An educated school teacher, e.g. Wallace, would not write a letter with so many obvious errors. I would be very surprised if Wallace had anything to do with that letter at all.

  9. Sharon Hollingsworth says: Reply

    Ok, have read through the whole thing. There was not as much on the siege as I would have liked and was grateful that the trial and execution only covered a few pages. Glad of that as the court stuff is boring as heck to me.  At the beginning of the book many of the events were gone into very great detail but started to lose steam by the end of the book. I guess once Ned was nabbed that the book had done what it set out to do. Everyone should go over to Joe’s facebook page “John Red Kelly His Story” to see what he says about the Red Kelly part of the book. He has the expertise in all things Red and things that don’t jump readily out to the casual reader jump out to him. I know the siege of Glenrowan more than other parts of the story after helping Dave White with his former websites and things jump out at me. One thing I always harp on is how the woman in the tent was not with Piazzi but with his tent mate but technically she was in the tent with Piazzi but not “WITH” him. I did a whole blog post on “The Strange Woman from Benalla” that can be found if one searches. Also, maybe it is just the transcription in the ebook and not in the regular book but they did not do a “bop, step, and jump” rather a “hop, step, and jump.”  Also, I thought that Reynold’s son was the only boy with them when they went to get Bracken. Also, I think Bracken was bedridden at his own place and not at postmaster Reynold’s home. Regarding Curnow, Jones has him as getting ready to re-harness the horse to go alert police but Dufty seems to think he was going to walk the whole way. I also thought that Mrs. Reardon was named Margaret not Martha. Interesting theory Dufty has about what the fireworks/sky rockets that Arthur saw really was. Also, interesting how he calls out Jones for the sympathiser army and Republic of NE Victoria. I thought that photographer Burman was named Arthur not “J. Burman” and that rather than being “Walter Lindt” the photographer was named John William Lindt. Where he says of the field gun that due to line delays  it did not arrive in time to end the siege, we know that they got a telegraph telling them they were no longer needed so they turned back. Johnny Jones who was wounded early in the siege was not rushed to the hospital. He did not leave Glenrowan until around 11 AM and it was said he arrived at the hospital at half past twelve. So that was 8 or 9 hours later, hardly rushing. There are a couple of other things I am looking into but that is mostly what I have from the siege portion. I am still hung up on the bit about Aaron going shoeless! Looking forward to what others find and think!

    1. Hi Sharon, you are right about the hoppin’ and a boppin’. In my printed copy the hop, step and jump are in italics – I’m guessing it is also italics in your e-version – and it says bop instead of hop. I’m very sure that is a proofreading slip as the italic b and h are similar; I looked twice when I saw it reading through. They can easily fix it in any reprint.

      I think Dufty has successfully solved a 140 year puzzle by noticing that the “rockets” at Glenrowan that were claimed to have been seen only by two policemen (as Arthur said his mate had also seen them), despite many witnesses on the ground at the time Kelly escaped from the back of the Glenrowan Inn before full encirclement by the police line half an hour after the siege began, were in fact a burst of sparks from one of the locomotives that brought the police to Glenrowan. Indeed, the locomotives were shunted about that time, as one left to take the injured Inspector Hare to Benalla. There were no rockets; the whole theory of Chinese rockets and an army of sympathisers that Jones purveyed for decades is laughable nonsense, as Dufty outlines in his short chapter 52, ‘Reverie’. (See my “Ned Kelly and the myth of a republic of north-eastern Victoria” for a full demolition job; but I did not ever think of what is Dufty’s now obvious explanation of the “rockets”. Full marls on that one.

      Kelly’s armoured walk towards the Inn and his capture soon afterwards is well sequenced and related, and the narrative continues through the burning of the Inn, the destruction of the gang, and Kelly’s trial and subsequent execution. For me, it would have been be nice to have had more coverage of the Beechworth Committal hearing which is not well covered in any Kelly books, including those written by lawyers allegedly focussing on the law as regards Kelly’s trial such as those by Alex Castles, Grahame Fricke, and John Phillips. Without understanding what happened at the Committal it is hard to make sense of what are presented as deficiencies in Kelly’s defence at his Melbourne trial, with the young barrister Bindon frequently and wrongly castigated for offering a poor defence.

      This is nonsense; Gaunson was the instructing lawyer, and the basis for defence was poor largely because Constable McIntyre could not furnish his first statement about what happened Stringybark Creek for the Committal, and was consequently torn to shreds by Gaunson for refusing to swear to details that he could not be certain of due to his first statement going walkabout. When it was eventually located and included in the capital case prosecution file for Kelly’s Melbourne trial, any hope of a self-defence case collapsed. But that is worth a book in itself…

      The most interesting curiosity for me about the seige was where he shows from documented sources that it was Kelly who said to Byrne, “It’s your fault; I always said this armour would bring us to grief”, meaning that it was Byrne, not Kelly, who had come up with the idea of armour. This will shatter many a dreamer who has envisioned Kelly reading Blackwood’s long, demanding and often tedious “Lorna Doone”, a novel requiring a much higher level of literacy and perseverance than Kelly was ever capable of, for its one-page description of armoured brigands. Dufty footnoted that a suit of German armour was on display in Beechworth in 1873, the year before the Samurai suit exhibit that captured Jones’ imagination (and which Jones described as Chinese for decades, and looks nothing like the Kelly gang armour). I’ve always thought that the Samuari suit was a silly claim as an inspiration, since I first saw teh photo in the first edition of Short Life.

      I did have a laugh at the shoeless thing, it should be coatless, but some of the other slips may be from his source references. it would involve checking the references themselves for each question as maybe the slip was from a newspaper of the day. There were multiple errors and some contradictions in various papers covering events in the outbreak, such as the London paper Jones relied on for one of his references to a sympathiser army of 30 men surrendering, which turned out to be the captives released from the Inn and made to lie down for an identification check by the police before being let go, in case any of the gang were with them trying to sneak out. So whtever slips Dufty may have made, at least he didn’t invent body straps, McIntyre perjury and an entire Kelly republican movement!

  10. Shaz, Kind words indeed – Thx.
    Hey c’mon Shaz, you’re up there with the best shaz. You sniff out stuff most of us can’t. Give me a chance I would love to go thru your archive material – you always seem to have it ready at hand 🙂 keep it up Shaz.
    Oh, what’s this bout Aaron and no shoes?

  11. Sharon Hollingsworth says: Reply

    Anyone who has seen my computer room can tell you it is all a jumbled mess with books and papers piled literally everywhere but lots of stuff is just inside my head and I sorta know where to go to chase things up if I need a direct quote. Usually when working on something I write notes on scrap paper at different angles and then toss them away afterwards! An imprecise method but works for me. Regarding the shoeless bit, Dufty had this “The weather turned suddenly cold, but Aaron Sherritt would go around shoeless, and slept in the open with no cover while the police rugged up and huddled under blankets.” I mentioned in a comment above about how I had read in Hare about Aaron being in shirt sleeves in cold weather, but cannot recall ever reading he shunned shoes. If someone has that reference I would love to see it. I am open to learning new things. Glad you replied here, I don’t want this turning into just The Shazza Show. starring SH! 😉

  12. Interesting Shaz – thx.
    Yes your spot on bout Aaron sleeping with just a shirt on his back. But no shoes …. never knew that one. Aaron would have to have skin like leather to walk the likes of police/Kelly caves. Very en-even and rocky ground thru-out them hills.
    Hehehe the Shazza show 😉 you’ve given me an idea

  13. Sharon Hollingsworth says: Reply

    Stuart, maybe you can do an article on the Beechworth Committal Hearing? You have done so well with other subjects in the past. I will help if you like. That is if you have the time, that seems to be something in short supply these days. Re the bad reporting and contradictions in papers, we have all learned to compare and study and never take anything at face value that is reported in the news. The rockets thing being sparks, that makes sense. I was wondering if there was the accompanying sound I hate of whizzing and booming but with possible gunfire all around it would have been masked. I need to go back and look regarding the suits of armour being on show for the gang to see. Also, a gentle correction, it is Blackmore who wrote Lorna Doone. You might be confusing it with Blackwood’s Magazine from the same era. Yeah, Joe, I was thinking the very same thing about tough soles (or souls!) to climb around those rocky areas. Are you gonna start up the Joey Shogun Show? lol

  14. Hi Sharon, thanks but unfortunately I haven’t got time to do anything for the next couple of monthst at least. The way things are now I won’t even get to read the upcoming Kieza Kelly Hunters book till mid year, but I will get it when it comes out just in case I get a spare moment just for reading it!

    About the the accompanying sound I hate of whizzing and booming we have it on good authority (!) from Jonesy Short Life that young Jack Lloyd “sent the two rockets steaking up into the sky, scattering falling stars with dull, delayed thumps”. Sorry, no whizzing, only thumping!! The thumps didn’t exist in 1968, when Jones wrote in his “New view” p. 172 that “a sympathiser, whose name we know, was waiting … to fire the two signal rockets (a big one and a small one) which would signal the sympathisers to gallop to Glenrowan”. (Jones liked to tell big ones.) “From as far away as Stanley, [60 klms on Google Maps] the sympathisers started gathering. Lookouts had been waiting for the firing of the rockets and the word spread. They started galloping towards Glenrowan”. Barf.

    My oopsie about Blackmore vs Blackwood; it was a bleak black book in any case! The dirty Doones had just murdered a child and were coming back to base on horseback wearing their amour, an obvious role model for Kelly as anyone can see.

    I did enjoy Dufty’s vignette of how Ellen Kelly and friends were dismissed from a charge of furious riding following an 1877 spree in Benalla, when her lawyer demanded documents of the town’s gazettal in court. This is yet another illustration of the Kellys’ and their associates’ intimidation of ordinary townfolk for no reason. It contributes to a picture over time of why the Kellys and their associates were widely loathed. At no point after the family went north from Avenel did almost anyone outside their circle of relations and criminal associates have anything good to say about them…

    Maybe there could be a new movie, Shoeless in Seattle, starring the Chaz brothers and their market garden, LOL.

  15. Hi All, I wanted to learn more about David DUFTY author of Nabbing Ned – I run a quick search and found a radio interview with John Stanley – I’m yet to listen to it.

    The story of Ned Kelly has been told hundreds of time, the Australian story of the Kelly Gang has turned into common knowledge, but how accurate are those folktales.
    Author, historian, and researcher David Dufty has worked his way through documents to bring you the tale of the Kelly Gang from the perspective of the police who hunted him.
    David joins John to share his journey through one of the most notorious figures in Australian history.


    1. Hi Joey, if you google “David Dufty author” you can see reviews of two books he’s done about WW 2 military history stuff. Pretty solid research background, I thought.

  16. Sharon Hollingsworth says: Reply

    Stuart, no worries, I do know what a busy guy you are. Just something to put on the backburner perhaps? I know that no one turns over more rocks than you do in seeking out truth and information. Dull, delayed thumps? More like dull duds! Dufty did bring out some tidbits I had not read before as I had not done deep dives into certain parts of the story. Too funny about the Chaz Bros! When I hear shoeless I think of the legendary American baseball player Shoeless Joe Jackson. The movie “Field of Dreams” was based on a book about him and I read that they wanted to call the film “Shoeless Joe” but test audiences didn’t like the name as they said it made it sound like it was about a homeless guy! Joe, thanks for the link, will listen soon to see what he says.

  17. Hiya Stuart – yes, have done. Impressed with his credentials and long list of published books. No worries Shaz. Arrr no shaz not a Joey special hehehehe

  18. Sharon Hollingsworth says: Reply

    This is very odd. When I had first linked the webpage of the then upcoming Nabbing Ned book at a couple of the Ned fb pages back at the end of December everyone reacted to the blurb on the site about Ned and the burning inn. I just checked the publisher webpage again and that bit has disappeared. One can only wonder did someone alert them to the error? Was it to also be in the book and was taken out before publication? We may never know but Dave White had done a screen shot of the original quote in question. Otherwise we would be wondering if our eyes or memories had deceived us. Here is the text of the original blurb – “He lurched through the gun smoke, his armour glinting in the moonlight, and started shooting. To the weary men and women at the burning Glenrowan hotel, he appeared like a crusader from medieval times.” That has now been changed to “He lurched through the gun smoke, his head encased in an iron helmet, and started shooting. To the weary police in the cordon around the Glenrowan hotel, he appeared like a monster, or a creature from hell.”

    1. Hi Sharon et al

      Ive been travelling the last two days and very little opportunity to catch up with the convo.

      I think the bopping and the shoeless claims are either typos or auto-corrections that weren’t picked up. Both are very close to what everyone knows to be the conventional explanations and I cant imagine why Dufty would be checking to see if Joe really was shirtless or bopping rather than hopping and then discover he was shoeless/ bopping, change the narrative and not draw it to our attention. I don’t know how these things are done but I would imagine other people read the manuscripts looking for mistakes, but they would need to be kelly nuts like we are to realise shirtless/bopping should have been shoeless/hopping . Thats the simplest explanation.

      That change in the Blurb you noticed Sharon : I recall Dave White denouncing the entire book because of the original wording, but the change was certainly an improvement. However I didn’t think White would have altered his determination to rubbish the book though – he’s mocking it for other reasons elsewhere.

      I am going to put up a new post soon on the Joe/Ned didnt like the armour thing in a day or two. Quite a surprising revelation!

  19. There is quite a bit more that can be said about Kelly’s letters. Dufty highlights many lies and fictions in the Cameron/Euroa letter curiously ignored, glossed over or romanticised by Jones and others. Doug Morrissey annotated many of its overlapping falsehoods in the later Jerilderie letter, in an appendix to his ‘Ned Kelly: A Lawless Life’. Importantly Dufty notes that the Cameron letter not only said nothing about Fitzpatrick molesting Kate Kelly, a popular theme of Kelly enthusiasts, it directly contradicted that theory; yet despite this at least two newspapers of the day inserted that fiction into their remarks on the letter, unable to abandon that discredited narrative, just as many Kelly enthusiasts still cling to it now.

    Kelly at Jerilderie claimed that he had been persecuted by the police since he was 14. Perhaps becoming a boy bushranger was not a good career move; and by “persecuted” he presumably meant watched or investigated for the numerous thefts, assaults and armed robberies he had been involved in since boyhood. Jones’ ‘Ned Kelly’s Jerilderie Letter’ (La Trobe Journal No. 66, Spring 2000) is a romanticised apology for Kelly’s criminality that no longer washes. I have approached the State Library a few times to suggest a counter-narrative is long overdue in their Journal, but they have never replied. Jones’ version of Kelly has been very much a sacred cow to the SLV as can be seen in their exhibition of his armour and the text accompanying it, at least prior to the current redesign which I have not yet been able to inspect. The text on the pillar of Kelly’s death mask there is inane; the smile it purports to discern is nothing but its writer’s fancy. Similar nonsense was written for decades about some archaic Greek Korai until sense at last prevailed in the halls of classical studies.

    The Jerilderie letter contains the extraordinary claim that Dan Kelly was never charged with assaulting a woman, and Dufty commented that this was curious thing to say as none of the gang had ever been charged with assaulting a woman. But maybe they should have been: Dan Kelly rammed his revolver into Mrs Devine’s shoulder as he marched her to the Jerilderie court house to set it up for a morning church service; he made many lewd comments to women in his power, including at Euroa where Ned had to call him to heel; he participated in an 1877 group shop-breaking and assault on Mrs Goodman at her Winton store, for which he and the others got three month’s gaol for wilfully damaging property and a fine for damages. One of his Lloyd brother companions also got four months gaol for common assault on her, with a charge of intention to commit a rape (from when the two other boys pushed Tom Lloyd toward the terrified Mrs Goodman with his penis out), dropped. Dan Kelly was a maggot.

  20. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

    Read Nabbing Ned over the long weekend and really enjoyed it. Good terse writing, not too bogged own in small details. returns to primary sources, includes work of Dawson and MacFarlane, has some interesting open-minded theories.

    Anyway, here’s some other thoughts.

    Loved the theory about Hall possibly firing blanks at Ned.

    I appreciate George King just vanishes from history after 1877, only being mentioned again by Ned in his letters (though some suggest he moved to Kyneton and lived a quiet life – I think that’s right – while others have suggested he was possibly ‘disappeared’ (Pinochet style) by the Kellys likely for mistreating / bashing Ellen – in line with oral history which has Ned beating him up for this reason) by as anyone else beyond Dufty tried to trace the lives of ‘young hawker’ Morison Solomon or Benalla Pound Keeper Alexander Whitla aka ‘Whitlow’?

    On p. 219 Dufty has Steve being nicknamed Revenge specifically for the Jerilderie raid to ‘settle a score’ against ‘Curtain, the auctioneer’, but doesn’t elaborate who and why. What’s the full story? I had understood ‘Revenge’ to be a longer standing nickname.

    DSA wrote in May 1880, “a break-out may be anticipated, as feed is getting very scarce. Five are now bad… Other animals are, I fear, diseased” (Dufty, p. 280). So DSA is really suggesting 5+ have joined the gang (surely “diseased” meant something more than assisting or sympathizing – that wouldn’t have exactly been intel). Was the so-called fifth member the person in the bushes outside Sherritt’s Hut on the night of the murder? And who are the main candidates these days? Tom Lloyd? Wild Wright? Aaron and Jack Sherritt? James Wallace? the McAuliffe Brothers? Macauley?

    When Joe said to Belle and Mrs Barry, “that bastard will never put me away again”, what specific event was Joe referring to? When did Joe feel Aaron had “put him away?” Surely it meant something more than simply informing (the informing had not, so far, “put Joe away”).

    While the KG was obviously running out of options by June 1880, was it Wallace’s transfer to Yea in May 1880 which directly led to the timing of Glenrowan?

    I understood the bed-ridden Bracken had been detained by Ned at the police barracks, with Ned wearing his freaky armour (meaning the armour technically was used twice if we’re really splitting hairs). Duffty doesn’t include that detail in his account on p. 303 and instead has Bracken being detained at Reynold’s house. What’s the story?

    1. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

      Trove has an Alexander Whitla dying at Mt Alexandra aged 77 in Sept 1917, meaning he was born c 1840. Which means he was about 38 at time of Fitzpatrick incident.

      Seems to me there’s a good chance its the same Whitla.

      1. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

        Trove also has a labourer in South Australia named Moses Solomon being fined 10 s in February 1878. Feels like a common name, so may be a different person. But could equally be that Moses was threatened and decided to move to South Australia (or moved to SA for other non-Kelly reasons).

    2. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

      Ok, seek and ye shall find. Steve Hart wanted to murder Curtain because of a dispute over 1 pound.

      “On at least two occasions during 1878 Mr Curtin had sold horses through the Jerilderie
      sales on behalf of the ‘owner’ Mr Steve Hart. On the last transaction a dispute arose
      whereby Hart accused Mr Curtin of overcharging him £1 in commission, which was indignantly denied by Mr Curtin, and remarking “for all I know they [the receipts] might be
      bogus ones”.

      While guarding the captives in the Royal Mail Hotel on 10 February 1879 Steve Hart
      enquired as to the whereabouts of “Auctioneer Curtin – I’ve got some unfinished
      business with him”. When being told that Mr Curtin was at the Land Board Office in
      Urana on business Hart expressed the regret that he was unable “to catch up with him”.
      On his return from Urana the following day Michael Curtin heard of Steve Hart’s implied
      threat against him and thinking that two could play the same game armed himself and
      joined the party that was defending the Post and Telegraph Office on the Tuesday and
      Wednesday nights, against the threatened return of the Kelly gang to hold up the Urana

      By Thursday Michael Curtin had expressed his disgust at the lack of Police
      reinforcements being sent to the town and indeed Trooper Richards being seconded
      onto patrol down on the Murray River that he decided to ride to Deniliquin and express
      those views, particularly as rumour was rife that the Kelly gang was intending to return to
      Jerilderie. On the way to Deniliquin he met the Coach transporting the Bank’s
      replacement cash and the two Bank officials that were returning to Jerilderie, escorted
      by one policeman.”

      1. Hi Thomas, that Jerilderie Cemetery Guide download is a gem, with that great gossip about Steve ‘Revenge’ Hart. What a loser.

        Also, the Murrumbige Council website has a downloadable PDF transcript of the Jerilderie letter from the SLV original here,

        Why pay bucks to some shonkmeister for profiteering from a royalty-free text when you can get this for nix? I keep hoping school teachers will tell their kids about this (if they have to refer to it at all) instead of putting published book versions of it on the reading list that cost families money for no reason. But, schoolteachers…

        You may have seen the article in the news last week which noted that over 20% of new teachers can’t spell a lot of ordinary English words and can’t do maths above primary level. No wonder our education system is stuffed, it’s increasingly staffed by morons.

        1. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

          I was talking to a friend who works in education policy about this over the weekend. He was saying part of it is it’s becoming harder and harder to attract people who actual specialist or knowledge meaning there’s a real human capital problem. Once upon a time you go do a masters in history (or you name it) then go and do a 6 month dip Ed. Now you need to do a 2 year masters and even then there’s every likelihood you’ll be allocated to teach something else and be lorded over by some burnt out old tenured teacher who has no specialisation. It’s a disaster zone.

          1. Yes, and a lot of teachers who do Masters are not doing them in their subject areas but doing Masters of Administration which are useless for teaching but focussed on climbing the ladder to seniority and vice-Principalship. It was like that 20 years ago when I did a year in secondary teaching (4 schools in one year doing extended replacement teaching) and from a couple of friends still in the system I gather it’s still like that. Where Victoria went wrong is putting all the emphasis on testing and reporting which is mostly time wasting, and making reports totally meaningless tp parents against parents wishes. By the time my kid did secondary the reports were very long, filled with jargon and totally meaningless. I couldn’t understand most of them and I’d been in teaching. What they need is one paragraph per subject in plain English that says what little Johnny did this term, and an indicative grade where D means borderline and E means unequivocally fail. Not the Every Child Will Experience Success crap. They’re lying to parents about what their child can and can’t do by coating it in impenetrable verbiage.
            Plus the curriculum is rubbish. My kid did WW1 for a term each year in secondary, taught by morons who specialised in trying to terrify the kids with vivid real war graphics, ridiculous “war is horror” fiction books and anti war poetry.
            The head of the Australian history curriculum is a lifelong Marxist. So was Russell Ward. So are the authors or go-authors of most of the books and resources used and promoted in secondary.
            Teacher training colleges have been dominated by the anti-business left for the last couple of decades. Check out Robinson and Diaz, “Diversity and Difference in Early Childhood Education” for a teacher’s college cultural Marxist indoctrination manual. Those clowns are faculty at the far left University of Western Sydney. Uni of Technology Sydney is another festering home of academic communists. These toads poison student’s lives.

  21. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

    Hawkers travel a lot too…

    1. Thomas Whiteside says: Reply

      There’s also a :

      A furniture dealer named Morris Solomon living in Collingwood in March 1878

      Morris Solomon, now in Fitzroy, is involved in divorce proceedings in Melbourne in May 1896:

      Could also be ‘our guy’…

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