The Ned Kelly Republic is a Fairy Story

Iron Outlaws Australia Day message is a lie : “In 1880 Neds dream was a Republic of North East Victoria”
I call it a lie, but it could also be called a fairy story because a lie and a fairy story are both stories that aren’t true. The important difference though is that nobody pretends that fairy stories are actually true.

This great Myth about the Kelly Outbreak was analysed in depth last year. In that discussion last year people asserted they believed it was true and that there were convincing arguments, but not a single scrap of direct evidence was ever produced. Its a great read(here
In regard to Dans alleged survival I recently posted that as long as people keep claiming it, we  will just have to keep  pointing out their mistakes, and its no different with the Republic : as long as people keep asserting it, I will keep on showing it be a hopeful fantasy propped up by Kelly sympathisers who are in denial about the truth of the Kelly outbreak.
Now, exactly a year ago , at the end of the discussions that followed my Post about the Republic, I summarized the debate like this : 
It seems the Kelly Republic discussion has run out of steam! I had a vague hope that someone would come up with something substantial but now I realize that the most remarkable thing about the idea of the Kelly Republic is how very weak the so called “evidence” is that supports it :
*Speculation on a rumor from a journo that a notebook and letters were taken from Neds pocket in 1880(no mention of a Declaration mind you)
*A mention in an Irish Magazine from the 1920s that cant be found
*A mention in passing by Max Brown in 1948
*A recovered memory by another journo of having seen a Declaration in London in 1962, and a claim by some other unnamed person to also have seen it
*Contradictory claims by Mr Lloyd about minute books seen 40 or perhaps 80 years before
*Another unnamed person still alive who also claims to have seen them
*Elaboration of the above by Ian Jones, Molony and everyone since into a full blown exposition of Neds republican Ideology!
In contrast to the speculation that is the foundation of the Republic idea, these facts had to be ignored to do it:
*Ned Kelly never ever mentioned a Republic
*No other member of the Kelly Gang or any of its sympathisers/co-Republicans ever mentioned it
*Ned Kelly specifically stated what his motivations were but the republicans don’t accept them!
*No early author ever mentioned the Republic
*Extensive searches have not found the Document seen by the Journalist in 1962
One of the most interesting new facts that emerged from my own investigations last year was the unreliability of the main source of information about the Republic idea, Mr Thomas Lloyd. He told Ian Jones in 1964 that his father recounted that when he was ‘a boy’ he saw notebooks that contained the minutes of the meetings that Ned and others held to plan the Republic. The problem with that claim is that when those meetings were supposed to have been taking place, Thomas Lloyds father was not “a boy” but a 22 year old man. This means that what he saw as ‘a boy’  – lets say 10 years earlier when he was 12  and Ned was 14 – whatever those meetings were about they were nothing to do with Ned or a republic.  Alternatively, if you want to argue that he was simply mistaken about his age at the time that he saw those books, my reply is that if he cant remember something as fundamental as his age, whether or not he was a boy or a man when he saw something, why would we believe anything else about that memory, except perhaps with a large grain of salt?
There is another problem though. This informant later told a completely different story to John Molony in 1976, contradicting the one he gave to Jones by now saying that the “boy” who saw those books was not his father but he, himself. In a Court, this mans evidence would be dismissed as completely unreliable.
Gary Dean told me that Kelly sympathisers in Kelly Country resented Ian Jones probing and prying into their history back then, and so they told him ‘tall stories’, whatever they thought he wanted to hear, and kept their secrets to themselves. The trouble with ‘tall stories’ is you have to remember them so you don’t contradict yourself when telling it to someone else later, which seems to have happened when John Molony turned up asking the same things a few years later. I  have no idea if Deans view is true or not but its curious that Thomas Lloyd provided two different stories – they undermine his credibility and the believability of the already flimsy Republican myth.

The truth is this : there is very good evidence for what Ned Kelly had in mind for Glenrowan, both in his actions and in his actual words – it was about family, about retribution, and his hatred of authority and the Police. Nothing at all, in anything he said or did, or in anything the so-called Sympathisers ever said or did , or in anything that has come to light since, provides any support or even the slightest hint that a Republic of North East Victoria was ever in anyones mind. 

Placing Ned Kellys image anywhere near the modern debate about a Republic would be like using Jack the Ripper to promote Safe Houses for women fleeing domestic violence. Revolting.
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9 Replies to “The Ned Kelly Republic is a Fairy Story”

  1. Anonymous says: Reply

    A happy Australia day to all readers!

    I must make comment on the questioning of Sergeant Thomas Lloyd of the Victorian Police Force's credibility. The man was a 30 year Policeman who worked with the Victorian Police's Mounted Police horses – horses being part of his DNA. He was also closely involved with the aboriginal trackers who were still utilized into the 1950's ( I think ). Corfield states he was born in 1908, which means he was 19 when his father died and 38 when his father's cousin James Kelly died. That he was privy to family lore is understandable, and his generosity to authors is admirable. He also gave 4 hours of interviews with that champion of your cause, the esteemed Doug Morrisey for his thesis. Sergeant Lloyd did not profit from his helping of these writers, be they Ian Jones or University Professors such as John McQuilton and John Molony. Learned historians who are accused of copying Ian Jones!
    But the Kelly story is even more political today than it was in 1879.
    Please take no offence at these comments. The truth of Glenrowan will probably never be known, but a handy guide to the reasons for such a fanciful idea as a Republic is supplied on pages 194/195 of David Macfarlanes'
    book The Kelly Gang Unmasked:the names of 84 men and their families to be refused continued selection.
    That there is no proof of any plans is confounded by the reports of papers in Kelly's pockets and letters addressed to politicians. That Kelly would not have written a lengthy statement for the occasion, be it for a republic or a massacre is passing strange.
    Perhaps while the good doctor was stealing his sash and Jesse Dowsett stealing his boot and sock and his Keen's Mustard tin, and Sgt Steele appropriating his blood stained cartridge bag, someone else pilfered his political manifesto.

    The fact that we can still argue about something as quintessentially Australian as this on Australia Day is something we should celebrate.


    Capt Jack H ( Retired )

  2. Capt Jack I think you’ll find that David Macfarlane is the doctor living in Bowral that one of the Kelly sympathisers denounced saying he was going there to expose him as Dee! Haven’t heard back about what happened yet! The Author of The Kelly Gang Unmasked is Ian MacFarlane! But no offence is taken Capt Jack! And you raise a good point about that List.

    The List you mention is described in The Kelly Gang Unmasked as a secret Police list of ‘persons (belonging to the criminal classes) holding selections in secluded parts of the North eastern District’ – in other words they were already Selectors; a case in point is Aaron Sheritt, whose name is on the List but he had a selection. So I think the list is clearly NOT of people who had been refused selections but was a list of people who would PERHAPS be refused if they applied for further selections. Ian Jones makes a big deal of this saying that farmers were being denied the right to make a living in the country they knew, doing the only thing they knew, but if they already had Land then that is not entirely true. The other thing I would like to know is how many on that List were in fact refused further selections. Jones mentioned the way in which a couple of people got on the List, and discusses the case of a single individual whose application was refused because it was on that List but who knows how many others there were? The other point I would make is that if those named people represent the bulk of Sympathisers in the District, they are in a very small minority.

    Also I have a feeling that among those missing papers from Neds pocket were the first plans for the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

  3. Anonymous says: Reply

    My apologies Dee, I have a friend called David MacFarlane, but he is not a doctor in Bowral, being a distinguished jazz drummer! My mistake – I meant Ian of course. I think the trackers were in use by the Victorian Police until the late 60's too.

    It would be a revelation if that was the plan for the first Sydney Harbour Bridge.

    Selectors were at the mercy of the Lands Department and their inspections where specified improvements were checked and selections could be transferred if these conditions were not met. The list shows that these sympathizers were to be driven from their farms to take away any ability for them to aid the outlaws. Kelly could not leave for Queensland or cross the Pacific and settle in San Francisco as had Frank Gardiner. Not just his family and relatives but a substantial number of people would suffer without an ending to the sad and sorry story.It is rarely commented on but the late 1870s were ablaze with revolution and independence movements. The papers that Kelly read were full of stories of the zulus in South Africa fighting the British and the Empire's valiant fight in the Khyber Pass. And tales of Garibaldi, the President of a unified Italy who years earlier had led a band of armed men. McIntyre wrote in his recollections that Kelly could have led an armed band of brigands wreaking havoc and retiring to their mountain fastnesses and never being caught.

    Best wished,

    Capt Jack (Retired)

  4. Capt Jack your mention of Thomas Patrick Lloyd being interviewed by Doug Morrissey has prompted me to go back and see what Morrissey wrote about it. Morrissey says he visited Tom ‘many times’ and that he ‘possessed an impish roguish nature and a wry sense of humour’ He told Morrissey that ‘in the kelly books he was quoted out of context and he was not at all pleased about it’ (p150) He also wrote “On more than one occasion Tom indicated to me that he had told many of these writers and researchers what it was they wanted to hear, and he further hinted that he had sometimes embellished what he was saying to get a rise out of them. Toms stories changed over the years and their veracity increasingly depended on whether he liked or disliked his audience’(Morrissey p149-150) So it seems that what Gary Dean told me was exactly right.

    It would seem therefore that the ‘impish’ Thomas Patrick Lloyd played a game with the inquisitive Ian Jones who was desperate to uncover evidence of a Republic, and so Tom gave him some! Impish indeed!

    Morrissey scoured the Public records of the time and developed a very full understanding of social conditions prevailing during the Outbreak, and continues on in this chapter to demolish another substantial plank of Ian Jones Republic theory. Jones claims that the remands of Selectors in early 1879 was the final trigger to widespread disaffection and almost outright rebellion in the North East, and the stimulus to the push for a Kelly inspired Republic. Morrissey contradicts this view, saying the disquiet did NOT arise from support for the Kellys or for a Republic – but from perceptions that the Police were flouting the due process of the Law. Rather than wanting to overthrow the establishment, and support the Kellys and their supporters the large majority of Selectors were wanting to support the rule of Law, and for it NOT to be undermined by overzealous Policing. Most squatters and selectors did NOT want cattle thieves and criminals living next door and agreed with the policy of denying them further selections.

    Actually, I am reminded that In 1967, in Ned Kelly Man and Myth, Jones advanced this same idea of widespread social turmoil and hard times providing the substrate from which, given the Police provocations, Revolution would emerge. In the discussion after his talk at that convention, this view of Jones was challenged by another of the invited speakers, Mr Weston Bate, a lecturer in Australian History at Melbourne University. Jones terminated that discussion by saying “We are in happy disagreement” ( Jane that’s on p186)

    So, in 1967 Bates disagreed with Jones, and now so does Morrissey. There cant be any real doubt anymore ; the Kelly Republic is one of the great Kelly myths. Its main planks are the stories told by an impish rogue and a view of social conditions at the time that is only believed by Ian Jones the main promotor of the Myth. There’s no longer any rational basis for believing in it.

  5. You know I think its a terrible shame that for so many years nobody seriously bothered to challenge Ian Jones, because now that we ARE challenging him, it seems he is no longer involved in the debate himself for health reasons, and nobody appears to be willing to defend him or his Republic theory. Its quite curious that he did so much excellent work in piecing the story together so carefully, but he went completely off the rails in some vitally important places, the Republic idea being the main one.

  6. Anonymous says: Reply

    I'd hardly call your little blog or the MacFarlane book a "serious challenge" Dee but good on you for having a go. Don't mean to be rude. Just an observation from someone interested in BOTH sides of the story.

  7. Republican Causes,
    The following came from Tinte'an No 4 June 2008.
    Page 30, "There's a Fenian in the Cupboard" Author Robert JF Butler writes-

    "Family history research uncovers many surprises. One line of investigation – revealed a passion for Irish Republican causes in one of my wife's GG Grandfather- a man named James Fearon.

    He came out to Melbourne in 1856, Fearon was an accountant and senior servant in the Victorian Pensioner Treasury –

    " It is interesting to reflect on the net working for Irish Republican causes that must have existed in Melbourne in the ninetieth century, hidden for the most part in a climate of suspicion of those of Irish background. Fearon's occupation and outward 'respectability' was no doubt responsible for much of his pro – Fenian activities being unrecorded.

    Given the secretarian , anti- Irish sentiments of the Melbourne establishment and his need to preserve his career, it is unlikely that Fearon would have demonstrated any public sympathies.

    Fearon was buried in 1912 in the Fenian graves at the Melbourne General Cemetery.
    Thomas Kenneally in his book " The Great Shame", and Liam Barry's " Voices from the Tomb make mention of Fearon."

    Dee, just because no written words of 'republican cause' can be directly linked to the Kelly outbreak, this does not mean none existed at the time. With Captain Jack, many others and I can see Ned Kelly was in the thick of it (republican causes), albeit it was beyond his grasp as things turned against him.

    With some written proof, this Fenian evidence put forward by Robert Butler and Patrick Naughtin of the John Walshe Irish Land League Here (in Australia), I am sure there will be many more researchers out there that could offer much more written support to show republican sentiments, a real concern for the authorities manifesting in the Kelly outbreak. The uprising was serious enough for them to hold a Royal Commission into the Kelly outbreak.
    (Fenian was an umbrella term for 'Irish Republican Brotherhood' (IRB), a fraternal organization dedicated to establishing a Republic ( in Australia IRA.)

  8. Anonymous says: Reply

    I would like to ask the question … what was the motivation behind the siege of Glenrowan? People will no doubt answer "the smash the train and kill the police" … but what purpose did that serve?

    Others will mention the intended robbery of the bank at Benalla, but Kelly had successfully robbed two banks without the need to undertake such such drastic measures.

    So, why did Kelly resort to this diabolical plan?

  9. Good question! And you’re right it was a diabolical plan! Even Ian Jones has called it ‘crazy’ and ‘mad'

    Ned Kelly wrote in one of his letters from Melbourne Gaol a week before he was hanged that his first ‘intention’ was ‘to capture the leaders of the Police and take them into the bush …and if they sent any more Police after me or try to reduce him I would shoot him and that I intended to keep them prisoners until the release of my mother and Skillion and Williamson”

    In the same letter he then said that ‘subsequently I varied my plan’ and wrote ‘It was my intention then to take possession of the Train horses and everything and return along the line leaving the Police surrounding the Barracks and Glenrowan while I had the train and robbed the Bank along the line…’

    The trouble was he also told quite obvious lies in this letter, trying to cover his tracks for example by saying 'it was not my intention of upsetting the train for the purpose of killing the Police” He also lied saying that he SENT Curnow to stop the train, and he chose Curnow because he wanted him to get the reward. He also claimed that the purpose of the Armour was to enable him to rob banks and not need to kill anyone, because no-one would be a threat to him if their bullets couldnt kill him.

    In answer to your question ‘..what purpose did that serve?’ referring to smashing the train and killing the police, its purpose may well have been pure revenge, borne out of a seething raging hatred of Police and authority. There is plenty of evidence in Neds writings that this was at least one of his motivations. The idea of trying to get his mothers freedom by taking Police hostage sounds possible also. As for Bank Robbery, following the first two, security at Banks was greatly increased and the earlier modi operandi wouldn’t have worked. So robbery could also have been part of the motivation.

    There is of course nothing at all in anything Kelly said or wrote to support the idea that Glenrowan was supposed to become the launching place for a Kelly republic. He never mentioned it or anything like it. This is a fantasy designed to distract from the fact that whatever his motivations were, Kelly planned mass murder at Glenrowan.

    Lastly, I wrote three posts on Glenrwoan in Jly last year and there are interesting discussions following them so I suggest you go back to read them as well as my original writing on the Republic theory, Ned Kelly Dreaming.

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