Support for Ned Kelly has always been grossly over-estimated.

The idea that Ned Kelly has ever had huge popular support is a myth
Matthew Holmes is probably wishing he had never met the two Kelly fanatics who were named as his co-screenwriters for the proposed Kelly movie, because they persuaded him to abandon his already publicly announced plan to make more movies about Bushrangers and instead make one about Ned Kelly.  They’ve persuaded him that they knew what they were talking about and that Australia was hanging out for a movie about Ned Kelly based on ‘facts’ and the ‘evidence at hand’, ignoring the fact that Kelly wasn’t really a Bush Ranger but a notorious outlaw, a very different character to the genuine bushranger Ben Hall, who though misguided was at least a man with a conscience.
Matthew Holmes easily got the money he needed to make his Ben Hall movie, and it was brilliant. However the fundraising for his Kelly movie has been a humiliating and unequivocal failure, the number of Australians prepared to support such a movie is vanishingly small – by the end of the campaign at current rates of sign up, they’ll be lucky to get 500!
Obviously, they grossly over-estimated public support for Ned Kelly, and I have to admit, so did I. At the beginning of the Campaign I imagined there might just be sufficient support nation-wide to make it happen, though I realised it was a massive challenge. The reality we all now face is a realisation that Ned Kelly is nowhere near as popular as we all thought a month ago – and I have to say I am heartened, and grateful to Matthew Holmes for conducting this kind of “Poll” of public support for Ned Kelly and providing us with information about something that we were just guessing at before.
I realise now that if I had thought about it all a bit more carefully, I should have been able to predict this outcome. Blog readers will recall that for a long time I have been pointing out  that public interest in Ned Kelly has been collapsing – the Ned Kelly Forum and various predecessors, once buzzing have all disappeared; the long-lasting once dominant Iron Outlaw website has fallen silent; the Iron Outlaw Facebook Page, and the Ned Kelly Central and Ned Kelly Center  Facebook pages are  dead, once prominent thoughtful contributors to Kelly history debates have been bullied into silence, the Beechworth Ned Kelly Weekend has been abandoned for lack of interest, the tourist attractions at Glenrowan are falling into disrepair, the Ned Kelly Tour website barely ever advertises a Tour, but books and articles challenging, debunking and ‘unmasking’ the Kelly story are proliferating as never before.
Thanks to the Kickstarter campaign we now know with certainty that people who support the unhistorical stories about Ned Kelly are a very tiny minority of Australians. Everyone else has acknowledged the results of the last half-century of research, debate and revision of Kelly history, and moved on from Kelly idolatry but a tiny minority remains who cling to the same tired and disproved arguments, the same misrepresentations and lies that the criminal Kelly family was telling in 1880. This tiny group, living in its Facebook Echo-chamber makes a lot of noise, but its time we just ignored them. Theyre fighting a battle that’s already been lost.
The interesting thing that occurred to me while thinking about what the Kickstarter campaign has revealed, is that its always been the case that Ned Kellys popularity and support in the wider community has never been anywhere near as great as the Kelly mythmakers claim. The most obvious example of this misrepresentation of the facts relates to what Kelly sympathisers write about the petition that circulated in Melbourne before Ned Kelly was hanged – there were over 30,000 signatures on it, and the Kelly mythmakers invariably claim these signatures were given in support of Ned. But the truth is that it was not a petition about the popularity or otherwise of Ned Kelly but about the increasingly contentious issue of capital punishment, a subject which eventually obtained sufficient community support to have it banned altogether. The Petitioners were not asking for Ned to be retried or to be pardoned or to be set free – they just were opposed to capital punishement and didn’t believed he, or anyone, should ever be hanged:
To his Excellency the Governor in Council-
your humble petitioners ( having carefully considered the circumstance of the case) respectfully pray that the life of the condemned man EDWARD KELLY may be spared
At around that same time, something else was happening that showed how almost nobody supported Ned Kelly or his family: Neds lawyer David Gaunson was working for free but was not a barrister. He recommended they hire Hickman Molesworth, a barrister with a fearsome reputation, but his fee was 50 guineas for two days work. Kelly sympathisers still whinge and complain that Ned Kelly ended up with a very inexperienced barrister, Henry BIndon instead of Molesworth, but the reason they had Bindon was because nobody wanted to donate to the Kellys. On October 18th Bindon successfully had the start date of the trial postponed 10 days to allow his team even more time to raise funds (they had already squandered nearly four months), but like the Kickstarter campaign, this fundraiser also failed and Molesworth dropped out of the picture. This episode confirms that it wasn’t support for Ned Kelly but opposition to Capital punishment that led people to sign the Petition – if their signatures were genuinely in support of Ned Kelly, raising Molesworths fee from the more than 30,000 signatories would have been no problem at all.   It also reveals the emptiness of the Kelly claim that Ned Kelly had a small army of sympathisers at Glenrowan, sympathisers who they say, even after he had been hanged were on the verge of starting a revolution. What kind of army would allow its captured leader to be defended by the city’s most inexperienced barrister if by chipping in a few quid they could have got him the best one available? In fact no such ‘army’ ever materialised anywhere, it never existed, it was a figment of the Kelly sympathisers tiny collective imagination. The reality is that the Kellys had almost no support anywhere.
There’s one more issue regarding Ned Kellys alleged popularity that needs discussing : the fact that nobody attempted to claim the huge rewards that were offered for information leading to his capture. Kelly sympathisers believe this proves that Kelly had so much support in the north-east that nobody wanted to dob him in. But where is their evidence for that support? The facts are that when Ned Kelly needed support, it never arrived, either at Glenrowan as a sympathiser army, or at Melbourne in the form of cash. Doug Morrissey has written about these claims of local support for the Kellys and has shown in his research that beyond the extended family and their circle of criminal associates, the Kellys and the Greta mob were largely unsupported, feared and disliked in Greta and the surrounding districts. 
“The Greta community was a typical pioneer community, with one major difference; it had more than its share of crooks. Ignored in the Kelly myth histories is the Greta community’s strong adherence to traditional values, religion, morality and respect for law and order. Greta had the largest concentration of Primitive Methodists in Victoria’s north-east. Around half of all selectors attended the Primitive Methodist church. These were highly principled, religious people who did not swear, drink, gamble or dance. They attended religious services several times a week and after ploughing the fields all day, some travelled to neighbouring communities as lay preachers. One such young preacher was reprimanded by church
elders and publicly made to repent for “ jumping fences and shouting at Glenrowan”, while travelling to a preaching engagement. These are hardly the sort of people who would engage in livestock theft, or rush to support a gang leader whose crimes led to bushranging and murder. Nor would they have joined Ned in establishing a Kelly republic based on mass murder, or acted in concert with the thieves, larrikins and local bullies who stole their property and terrorised their neighbourhood.” (‘Its time to bury the Ned Kelly Myth’ Quadrant Magazine, May 2017)
The reason the rewards were never claimed was nothing to do with Ned being popular, and everything to do with his reputation as a criminal bully with a record, a bank robber, hostage taker and triple murderer. Read what Ned Kellys thoughts were on the subject from the Jerilderie Letter :
“ the light that shines pegged on an ant-bed with their bellies opened their fat taken out rendered and poured down their throat boiling hot will be cool to what pleasure I will give some of them and any person aiding and abetting or harbouring or assisting the Police in any way whatever or employing any person whom they know to be a detective or a cad or those who would be so deprived as to take blood money will be outlawed and declared unfit to be allowed human burial their property either consumed or confiscated and them, thiers and all belonging to them exterminated off the face of the earth”
Such was the fear his reputation created in the district that nobody was willing to risk everything for a reward. An example of this widespread community intimidation by the Kelly gang and its supporters is given by Grantlee Kieza, in his book “Mrs Kelly”. He quotes a report in the Age newspaper about a young worker from Kilfera Station who refused an offer of  £50 from the Police to tell them where the Kelly gang was because “I have a mother and father keeping a little farm not far off and if I told anything they would be murdered and burnt Its also likely that very few people really knew where the Gang was, as they hid in the bush and were protected by their family and criminal networks but it was  mostly fear and uncertainty that prevented anyone claiming the rewards. The notion that he was so popular that nobody was tempted is preposterous grasping at straws.
This is the truth about Ned Kellys popular support : there has never been any. What support he has ever had has only ever been from a tiny minority of relations and misguided ill informed hangers on and misfits who hate the Police. 
(Visited 101 times)

62 Replies to “Support for Ned Kelly has always been grossly over-estimated.”

  1. Trev Mann says: Reply

    The N E Victoria newspapers like the Border Mail keep on publishing errant nonsense about Ned Kelly and his gang. They think and hope they are protecting local tourism and a handful of failing Kelly-based businesses up there. None of this excuses their propaganda.

    Dee, I daresay you haven't got through to these whackers yet.

  2. Sean Johnson says: Reply

    That was brilliant, Dee! The best blog yet!

    So when is the Prime Minister going to have the Ned Kelly rubbish on his website removed?

    Poms deride Australians for worshipping a murderous thug and stock thief. Your blog shows we no longer revere Ned and maybe never did.

    Ned and his small number of later, loud supporters were national time-wasters.

    You have done them in, Dee!

  3. The Beechworth BHRG weekend is on in August 2017 as a Goldfields theme weekend celebrating life and mining times between 1855 to 1858. Come dressed as miners and civilians in Eureka era costume. Watch out for bushrangers and pissed off Kelly sympathisers.
    The Beechworth tourist place still thinks it’s a Ned Kelly weekend.

  4. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    According to Ian Jones, “the Gang’s greatest strength lay in its core of support in the north-eastern district – a small army of allies, built on the eighty-odd members of the clan and their friends and relatives to form a network of operatives reaching every town and settlement”; a letter to the Herald said, “there are hundreds of confederates of the Gang between Mansfield and Benalla”, ‘Short Life’ (the chapter, “State of War”), 2003: 157. Then, “the Kellys and their supporters were in many ways like the South African farmer soldiers… Ned’s idea of a republic was naïve… (p. 191), and the secrecy around the armour-makers was that “there was much more to this than being a Kelly sympathiser. They had been involved in the bid to set up a republic, high treason against Her Sovereign Majesty and a hanging matter” (p. 198). (Morrissey showed in his 1978 Sympathisers article that less than 20% of the Greta, Lurg and Glenrowan selectors were Kelly sympathisers.) There were no farmer-soldiers in NE Victoria, and the Kellys would be lucky if they had 100 devoted sympathisers. In fact the same smallish cluster of names keeps surfacing over their two years on the run. Most of them seem to be relatives by marriage or old gaol buddies.

    Let us time-travel back to 1948, and Frank Clune’s introduction to his “A Noose for Ned”. Clune enthused, “Ned did not have the temperament of a criminal. He had the temperament of a soldier. Under discipline and training, what a wonderful soldier he would have been! But Australia, in the 1870’s, offered practically no encouragement to native-born lads of martial inclination. [He could have taken the Queen’s shilling or joined the police force? But then, he threated to shoot young Delaney who he heard was thinking of joining up…] Ned had no chance of getting into a war unless he made one himself. He declared and waged war against the Government and Police of the colony of Victoria. It was a fantastic, an utterly foolish idea: but the impulse was martial, not criminal, that led him into it” (page 5). Now where have we heard that theory more recently…?

  5. Sam Tradda says: Reply

    I went on a slum-crawl tonight of the FaceBook hatepage against the wondrous Kelly Gang Unmasked book – there to find vile new calumnies against Stuart and Dee and more laughable misidentifications of you Dee.

    These leperous fools really dislike being fed the truth, don't they?

    Shove it right up them, Dee!

  6. Martin Heale says: Reply

    Those t*rds (rhymes with Nerds) on Iron Outlaw who smeared anti-Kelly people, and issued death threats have, at last, fallen silent. Only the retired Irish truck driver's FB hatepage against a book remains with demonstrably fake 'likes' and grossly inflated readership remains.

    I go there for a laugh. The blogger is a complete dill!

  7. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    In the “Man and Myth” book, Ian Jones writes, “the plan was to destroy the train. This was a ruthless and brutal act, but it wasn’t a criminal act. This was an act of war” (p. 172). Fast forward to the 1993 Kelly Symposium and we find Jones in the Q&A after McQuilton’ paper saying, “A line I didn't write in the Mick Jagger film is, ‘You kill one policeman you're a murderer; you kill a hundred policemen, you're a hero.’ The dividing line between a criminal and a guerrilla, a hero of the resistance, is very slim”. There was no war between squatters and selectors in NE Vic in the mid to late 1870s, as Weston Bate made clear in his discussion at the end of Jones’ paper; and the majority of selectors in Greta, Lurg, and Glenrowan became independent landowners as Morrissey showed in his ‘Sympathisers’ paper, with economics playing an insignificant role in determining the nature and extent of Kelly support. After close study of those who supported the Kellys on the run records Morrissey could state that “historians have been misled into believing that sympathy for the outlaws was widespread.”

    Alex Castles’ book, “Ned Kelly’s Last Days” p. 116 says, “For several days after the siege newspapers reported a strong local presence rallying for Ned and his clan, but as Superintendent Sadleir confirmed, this was greatly exaggerated. By the end of the week Melbourne’s Herald was saying that even the tempers of the most loyal sympathisers had ‘cooled down’. Some, it seemed, had even gone to the trouble of communicating directly with the police in an anxious bid to ensure they would not be arrested for their previous association with the bushrangers. Maggie’s isolation was exacerbated by the fact that her brothers had alienated many old friends who might once have been willing to give her help and advice.” Then p. 117, “From a historical perspective, it appears there were often times when, with few exceptions, the Kelly family was universally reviled by the community.” The whole section from pages 114 to 120 is worth reading as an antidote to much nonsense that has been written about the extent of sympathiser support.

  8. Sam Tradda, can you tell me what leperous means ? Thank you in advance.

  9. Nevill Cartwright says: Reply

    The new Morrissey Quadrant article is now online

  10. Les Coleman says: Reply

    Agree with what you think, Stuart. Pity that Alex's book was citation-free though. Even so, I believe most of what he says.

    I didn't like the book myself. It was a bit soft around the edges.

  11. Sam Tradda says: Reply

    Hey Greg, you're welcome:

    Meaning of leperous: Leprous; infectious; corrupting; poisonous. 'The leperous distillment.' (Shakespeare)

  12. Brian Tate says: Reply

    For your edification Greg

  13. Thanks for your unsolicited response. But i was asking Sam for a specific reason.

  14. Anonymous says: Reply

    In context it looks like Sam means the Kelly Gang were 'leperous fools' = 'corrupting, poisonous'. That is fair comment.

  15. Brian Tate says: Reply

    Only too happy to help Greg, even if unsolicited. Can't see where you were asking Sam '…for a specific reason'. You simply asked what leperous meant. Perhaps you need to be more specific in future.

  16. Mr Dawson I am not new to the Kelly story as I have purchased 3 of Ian Jones books the last one being released a couple of years ago here in Beechworth.I have absolutely no idea why you continually are not very kind towards Mr Jones and rather antagonistic towards him.He is a very well known and respected citizen here in Beechworth and I do not think that you and this Dee person should treat this man as you do.It appears reading the comments on this site there are no females voicing their opinions .May I also ask why this may be the case.Regards Hazel.

  17. Hazel, Ian Jones has been a very prolific public spokesperson for the Kelly cause over the last 50 years, and as you say, he is certainly a well known and respected citizen of Beechworth as a result. He has developed a number of controversial theories and interpretations of the historical events known as the Kelly Outbreak, and featured them in his many public utterances and all his books. Other people have different theories and understandings of those events and are perfectly entitled to disagree with Ian Jones, to be critical of his views and to propose alternatives. The only thing that should be asked about criticism is whether or not its fair, and I believe all my criticisms have been fair. They are not criticisms of Ian Jones as a person but criticisms of his ideas and theories. Regarding women voicing their opinions?- there are many, but certainly most of the voices are men. However, cop Killers appeal seems mainly confined to men.

  18. Dee thank you for your comments and your opinion but I really would like to know from Mr Dawson himself.We will obviously just have to agree to disagree with your criticism of Ian as well as Mr Dawsons.I know his wife Bronnie contributed to the Ned story with her researching of the subject too. Those people that knew Mrs Jones would say that she was one of the most honest and diligent people you could ever meet just like Ian. I just think these comments are very unsavoury criticisms.I know that both these fine people would help anyone that needed help and I just find it very disappointing he is being so degraded.I will not take up any more of your time as a middle aged woman is rather lost in what appears to me to be a mens domain.Thank you again best wishes Hazel.

  19. Do be too condesending Brian, perhaps you should go back and read it properly it i believe it was very specific. I also have access to google.

  20. Greg Devlin I have a message for you : the troll who has told you that I can post on his Facebook page is lying. I CANNOT post on his Facebook page. Believe me, if I could, I would. But tell me, if you have access to wikipedia and can work out the meaning of leprous, what exactly do you want from Sam Tradda ?

  21. Brian Tate says: Reply

    This is what you wrote Greg "Sam Tradda, can you tell me what leperous means ? Thank you in advance." Pretty clear-cut on what you wanted I think. I just thought you might have been unaware of, or incapable of using Google.

  22. Why are the pair of you speaking on behalf of Sam Tradda. I am sure unless he has lost his fingers in an industrial accident and has not yet learnt to type with a spoon in his mouth would not require you two to speak on his behalf and besides he has already responded on the 19/6/17 @ 21.27. That is all i required.

  23. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Hazel, there is no personal criticism of Ian Jones anywhere in my comments above or anywhere else, and I have frequently expressed admiration for his very watchable "Last Outlaw" series despite several glaring historical errors. I have all his books, and have said before that he pioneered Kelly studies, and that everyone interested in the Kelly story is greatly indebted to him. I have seen him presenting on a Ned Kelly DVD and he is indeed a charming and engaging speaker. However, his enthusiasm for Kelly oral history led him to present some historically incorrect opinions as fact, and at times his historical research is simply wrong. His "Short Life" chapter about the Fitzpatrick incident is largely incorrect. His blaming of George Metcalf’s death on a ricochet from a police bullet is simply wrong – Kelly shot Metcalf, and Ian Jones spent several pages trying to show otherwise against direct witness statements to the contrary. Mr Jones’ assertions that Kelly aspired to establish a republic of north-east Victoria rest largely on disputed oral history, and on a claim by a journalist to have seen a Declaration in London in1962, which has since been retracted. While there is much of interest and value in Mr Jones’ books, each claim that makes up a historical narrative should be examined on its own merits. Where a claim needs correction based on a new examination of evidence, or the bringing in of previously unconsidered evidence, the correction must be made. I have tackled 5 puzzles that others have said cannot be solved: the Fitzpatrick incident, Ned Kelly’s last words, the Metcalf shooting, and in progress the claimed NE republican movement and the movements of the various Kelly gang members and sympathisers at Glenrowan. In these cases I differ to varying degrees with Mr Jones’ opinions. I simply put forward my evidence, and others can make up their own minds to agree, disagree, or partly agree. Neither Mr Jones or myself have any monopoly on “true” history”. There are plenty of other opinions too, that would disagree with both of us. I have also had several serious disagreements with Dee about Kelly issues, but she didn’t block me from posting them (thanks, Dee).

  24. Thank you Mr Dawson for answering my questions.I just cannot understand why you simply seem to always query documents that Ian has produced.Ian is generally not in the habit of making statements without proof.Your goodself Mr Dawson obviously are a well versed and educated man and am honestly not in your league.You say that you are not criticising Ian but to me a mere observer and reader you simply come across as doing precisely that.By criticising his work I believe is similar to criticising the man.As I said to Dee earlier in the day I guess we just have to agree to disagree.I am glad that you have mentioned George Metcalf who suffered greatly and was told he died in Melbourne well after the siege.If my memory serves me correct I believe in Judith Douthies book witnesses in the inn said the police did shoot George just as Martin Sherry and the little Jones boy as well.Could you please let me know what proof there is that Ned shot him?That would be greatly appreciated too.The Kelly gang certainly committed some terrible crimes but to be even handed so did the police.There are a lot of unknown instances in the Kelly story but I wish researchers and history buffs would try and tell the truth and not be influenced in what they personally feel and think.In my opinion this sordid tale could go back to the orange and the green situation back in Ireland and brought here including Catholic and Protestant feelings in the 19th century.This stretching of the truth leads to a lot of unnecessary hardships and to me a lot of heartache to those people involved.As I now have to go and prepare dinner thank you once again for replying to me….Best wishes Hazel

  25. Brian Tate says: Reply

    Sorry Greg, just trying to help but apparently I've upset you. But I must say that 'leperous' is a lovely word and one which describes Kelly disciples perfectly. Don't you agree?

  26. Anonymous says: Reply

    Stuart Dawson, you state one of the puzzles you have tackled is the Metcalf shooting. Can you direct us to where you have accomplished this? All I have found is police sources stating there are witnesses to say Ned shot him yet I have never seen these witness reports produced. That is hardly what I would call proof. As Hazel states, Judith Douthies witnesses state Metcalf was shot by police. Please explain.

    Ross Stevens

  27. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Hazel, there is perhaps more questioning about Ian Jones' writing on some of these topics because he has been by far the most influential Kelly researcher. But in some places he has made historical errors, and these have been followed by others who simply quote his books, especially "Short Life", as a source without going further and examining the material he lists in his references. For example, Justin Corfield’s “Ned Kelly Encyclopaedia” quotes Mr Jones as a source in many of its entries. In some cases however there are mistakes in his research, and these have resulted in incorrect conclusions. As a result, historically wrong information is widely reproduced by others as “fact”. Metcalf is a particular case in point. You are correct that Judith Douthie spotted that Metcalf falsely claimed that he had been injured by police shooting at Glenrowan in order to get specialist medical treatment for his wounded eye. Ian Jones spent a lot of effort rejecting this fact, and the fact that his eye injury resulted from Ned Kelly shooting him the afternoon before the siege while carelessly fiddling with a revolver. Mr Jones put forward a lengthy and totally wrong argument that the injury was caused by the police and not by Kelly. I demonstrated in great detail why and where Mr Jones’ argument went wrong, and put the references and evidence that show Ned Kelly shot Metcalf in comments on Dee’s blog last year here:

    I query a lot of other historical writers too, as I find that many historians make selective use of historical evidence that reflects their own biases and wishes, and often ignore or dismiss evidence that does not fit with their existing view of things. This is common all over the place, not just in Ned Kelly topics. Criticising arguments about history is very different from criticising the person who makes them. If I make mistakes in a historical argument, I have to expect someone will spot them at some point and pick them up. I then have a choice, to dig my toes in and keep insisting I am right, maybe finding more selective evidence to push my point; or much better, to re-examine the evidence or point in question, and maybe find that I was wrong. If I am wrong, I need to change my view. However, Kelly studies is a very polarised and emotional area. Most people writing about Kelly are very passionate about him, either for or against, and this biases their investigations. I couldn’t care less, which is why my research is different – I’m not pushing a barrow in advance. What interests me is solving historical puzzles, where accepted views don’t look right; don’t ring true. Metcalf is a good example of how a piece of incorrect history has become widely accepted, but the correct information is in the files for anyone who can put the time and effort into searching for it. Judith Douthie’s excellent “I was at the Kelly Gang Round-up” mentions the police report at the heart of this matter, which was signed by two eye witnesses.

  28. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Ross, it is quite straightforward. The evidence about Metcalf being shot by Ned while “fiddling” with Piazzi’s gun is in a report by Detective Eason (VPRS 4967 Unit 3 Item 60, pp. 241-2 of the very big PDF file). That report belongs with a memo by Supt. Sadlier of 26 July 1880, on pp. 173-5 of the file, from which it has become separated, where Sadlier says that Eason’s report as regards Metcalf’s injuries “can be supported by several witnesses and disposes of any claim that he may make for compensation” (p. 175). Witnesses to Kelly shooting Metcalf in the eye, in addition to Mr Stanistreet’s son who brought Metcalf water, included station master Stanistreet and railway worker James Reardon, both of whom are named on the second page of Detective Eason’s report. These two reports demolish the old myth that Metcalf was injured by a police bullet ricocheting off the chimney in Jones’ Inn during the Glenrowan siege. The police paid Metcalf’s medical expenses and accommodation in Melbourne based on his claim. This is where the false tale of injury from ricochet from a police bullet tale came from; but note that Supt. Nicolson (Acting CCP) authorised payment of the last bill from his carer for retrospective accommodation costs after his death, despite having learned by then that the claim was fraudulent (VPRS 4967 Unit 2 Item 53).

    See also the sworn testimony of Supt. John Sadlier (Royal Commission Q16700 p. 616) – “There is another [incorrect] statement …: ‘A man named George Metcalfe has also been forwarded by your instructions to Melbourne, for treatment to an injury received in the eye while the firing was going on.’ That was the man’s own statement to Captain Standish, and myself, but, on further enquiries, I found that the injury was caused by Ned Kelly on the Sunday before the capture, the gun having accidentally gone off in his hands, and shot this man in the eye." What Hazel said was “If my memory serves me correct I believe in Judith Douthie’s book, witnesses in the inn said the police did shoot George”. This recollection, however, was not correct. Judith’s book acknowledges Eason’s report, and notes, "It is understandable that George would not have wanted to the police to know who injured him, as he then would not have received any compensation for his wounds from the police” (p, 106-7). There is nothing in her book (or anywhere else) about any witnesses seeing Metcalf’s injury occurring inside the inn during police fire.

  29. Hi Ross and Mr Dawson,That is correct in what Mr Dawson has said he has beaten me to the punch again.Ms Douthie is actually related to Thomas Curnow and a victim of the siege and her grt grandfather David Mortimer was also.I would like to mention what I believe is one of the most important aspects of Ms Douthie's book is the final chapter on page 215 (Epilogue).Ms Douthie actually says that all the hostages family's were scathing of the police and not the gang.In simple words she states some victims were not sympathisers of the gang before but definitely were afterwards.They were obviously very critical of the police I would think.David Mortimer is certainly very critical on this fact.This is a very important revelation in the siege yet is always overlooked Why?This is what I meant by Mr Dawson that researchers I believe deliberately overlook things that are important and unfortunately intentionally I think with their biased views.I also believe this epilogue is strange actually coming from a descendant of one of the victims as I would have thought she would be backing the police.Does anyone know of any other books written by women such as Noeleen Allan and Judith Douthie on this polarising subject as it is of great interest to me? Thanks again Hazel

  30. Stuart I have a question for you too! In The Kelly Gang Unmasked it says that when Metcalf died the post mortem reported he died from peritonitis, which is an abdominal infection like what happens with a burst appendix. I can't see any way that peritonitis can be linked to an eye injury, especially as Metcalf himself wrote to his sister to say the eye was getting better. MacFarlane writes that a month later he became seriously unwell, Nicolson arranged for him to be admitted to Melbourne Hospital but he died there four days later.

    I think its possible that everyone has completely missed the fact that however he received his eye injury, his death was the result of something else, and neither the Police nor Ned Kelly should be held accountable for it.

    My question is do you know anything more about the autopsy or about how an eye injury can cause peritonitis? Is the autopsy report available?

  31. Brian Tate says: Reply

    Hazel you say that "In simple words she states some victims were not sympathisers of the gang before but definitely were afterwards." Perhaps that had something to do with Ned's speech to them inside the hotel. He ordered the hostage into the dining room saying 'I have something to say, and want everybody to hear it.' After he had his audience he went on to say 'First, I wish to tell you all that if I should hear of any one of you present here to-night (sic) telling the police of any of our doings or sayings, or showing the way we left, or in fact telling anything whatever about us, I shall make it my duty to visit them some day and have a settling with them, and I can promise you that it will not be such a settling as i had this day with young Delaney there. I let him off, but, by God, I'll not let any off the same way; so you know what to expect from me if any of you should let out any of our plans that you have heard here.' (History of Australian Bushranging, Vol 2, cited at Page 322 Edward 'Ned' Kelly – The Historical Record 1820 -1893 Kelvyn Gill)

    Seems pretty clear to me that this was a straightout threat to the hostages. And while the siege ended in failure for the gang, there were still sympathisers in the district who may well have retaliated on Ned's behalf against anyone speaking out. In fact a handful of residents left the area after threats had been made by the gang's supporters. I think had I been a hostage in Jones' Hotel, I too would have held my tongue.

  32. Hi Mr Tate No that is not the case.Judith Douthie is quoting family members hostages descendants her book reads "Of everyone of the hostages families that I spoke with I was always assured that the person involved was a sympathiser of the Kelly's. I soon learned that if that person was not a sympathiser before the siege they were certainly one afterwards.The police did not make heroes of themselves for the treatment of those inside Ann Jones Inn in the June of 1880.As my great grandfather David Mortimer said "we were not afraid of the bushrangers but we were afraid of the police " end of quote.There are stories in the book of 32 hostages that were involved in the siege,which would make it about halve of the complete hostages held.Inside the book there are some quotes from them told similar stories as did Mr Mortimer and there is varied information of their time during the siege.Besides the siege there are individual stories of each of them e.g. births,marriage,family members etc.As you can see from previous comments from Mr Dawson and Dee they will confirm what I have just typed.I hope this helps you Mr Tate? Regards Hazel

  33. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hazel, you are correct in saying that “Ms. Douthie actually says that all the hostages’ families were scathing of the police and not the gang. In simple words she states some victims were not sympathisers of the gang before but definitely were afterwards. They were obviously very critical of the police”. This seems to be predominantly true, but there are at least two qualifications. First, it is not correct in every case. James Reardon, whose son was shot by Steele as they were trying to flee the inn, told the Royal Commission, “I am quite sure I am not a sympathiser”, Q.7683. Second, we should expect members of families who were caught up in the inn siege to be critical of the police. It wouldn’t be fun being in ten middle of a shoot-out. We then need to consider the police instructions to “fire high” once they realised there were more people in the inn. I have not timelined this yet and am hoping someone else does it first, as it will shed light on all this. I will not get to it before next year, and it will probably be my last Kelly investigation. Until then, there is no basis for me to comment on it, and I haven’t.

    Dee, I have no idea what Metcalf died of when he went back into hospital. I was only looking at the facts of his shooting and who did it.

  34. Hazel unfortunately I don't have a copy of that book by Judith Douthie, so I would like you or anyone else who has it, to clarify something for me : in so far as her claims go in relation to the experiences of hostages, is the book based on Judith Douthies interviews of descendants of people who were held hostage or is it from other sources? I ask this because if it is based on the oral traditions handed down for several generations to whoever it was that informed Judith, such evidence would have to be deeply suspect as to its accuracy. Given the fact that it became terribly trendy to be a Kelly descendant or in any way related somehow to the Kelly outbreak one could never be confident that what was being handed on as a families oral tradition was reliable.

    A case in point : Judith Douthie says her great grandfather claimed to be more afraid of the Police than the Kellys. Up to the time of the siege, the Police had not shot any of the Kellys or their supporters, but Ned Kelly had murdered three policeman, robbed many local people, conducted armed robbery of two banks, and killed Aaron Sherritt…and the siege was engineered by Ned Kelly who put all those people in harms way and kept them there even when his murderous plan to kill a score more Police had failed. I can't see how any sane person on that basis would have grounds for being more scared of the Police than Ned Kelly, can you? To me that comment attributed to her great grandfather suggests either he was already a sympathiser or else he has been misquoted.

  35. Stuart – The corrugated roof of the Inn was peppered with bullet and slug holes (Argus 30 June 1880, p. 6; quoted in The Kelly Gang Unmasked, p. 25).

  36. I thought I made it quite clear what Ms Douthie said in her book.It is the descendents of the hostages that were interviewed by Judith Douthie herself.People that are still alive today as is the case of the murdered police officers and descendents of the Kellys and others that have been interviewed on other topics like the SBC killings.I don't believe Ms Douthie in any way is trying to distort anything as she would actually be on the police side due to her family connections with Mortimer and Curnow.I believe she is being perfectly honest and frank. There is absolutely no reason to say anything other than what she has stated with what her interviews have revealed.I have no idea why a lot of people seem to be getting away from this topic.I believe as I have said previously interviewing 32 out of about 60 hostage families involved would undoubtedly give absolutely an honest appraisal of what the author has disclosed.Dee inside the cover it says copyright@2007 Judith M Douthie and an email address If she still has the same email address you may be able to get information from her where you can purchase it. On the back cover it still has the price on it and says non-fiction $29.95 rrp.That was a few years back now and don't even know if they still produce it. Hopes that helps you Hazel.

  37. Brian Tate says: Reply

    'Hazel', what is it that I have said which is not the case? I have simply quoted a written source whereas you seem to rely solely on a book which quotes 'family members' of hostages. Have you read anything else on the siege apart from Ms Douthie's book? I ask this because as Dee has pointed out oral histories often get distorted over time.

  38. Anonymous says: Reply

    Did the police pepper the roof with shot to avoid the captives or because they thought thought the outlaws may have been in the rafters?

  39. I found this on pages 218-9 of The Kelly Gang Unmasked "Another modern author, Judith Douthie, has written, 'There also seems to be many documents associated with the [Glenrowan] siege missing from the Public Record Office Victoria'. But references in Douthie's book are very sparse, and the author did not specify which records about the siege might be missing".

    MacFarlane author of KGU lists many missing Ned records and wonders if the those records have been "systematically plundered", p. 218.

  40. We don't know at this stage the quality of the autopsy preformed on George Metcalf. From the net 'Most often, peritonitis is caused by an infection that spreads to the peritoneum from another part of the body. This is known as secondary peritonitis'.

    I don't think I agree with the proposition that if someone is shot and dies (even from another supposed condition), while under treatment for the gunshot wound, that no-one is guilty.

    Given that back then a stay in hospital was often a death sentence, and that the causes of infection were unknown, who can say what afflicted him.

    Metcalf, had he not been shot by Ned, would have been perfectly healthy long after Glenrowan.

  41. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Family histories are fraught with interpretive difficulties. Ms Douthie relates that her relative David Mortimer (who played the concertina for those dancing in the inn while the Kelly gang was in charge) and his family “continued to live in Greta, and that she never heard any stories from any member of the family that the sympathisers harassed or worried the falily in any way” (p. 119). David "loved to tell his grandchildren the story of his time inside the Glenrowan Inn, in fact it was a story the children knew very well as David repeated it almost on every visit" (p. 121). David's brother-in-law was Thomas Curnow, who stopped the police train. Ms. Douthie relates some of Tom's interview in the O&M 23/4/1881: "I am aware that the outlaws’ relatives and friends swear to revenge themselves on me. We live in a state of constant watchfulness. [They had moved to Ballarat:] My life has been threatened in Ballarat even and I have been insulted and annoyed there” (p. 29). I met Ms. Douthie at a function a few years ago and asked her if she knew whether David Mortimer and Thomas Curnow had remained friends or been divided by the events of the siege, and she advised me that they had remained good friends. This is a reminder that people should be cautious about making generalisations and assumptions about complex relationships. Anyone wanting to get the book can order it post-free from Iron Outlaw/NCS. I think it is a great investigation of as much as she could trace of the histories of those held hostage during the siege.

  42. Horrie, we have no basis on which to doubt that Metcalf died from peritonitis, unless we think that the doctors of the time had no idea about anything. If we are going to dismiss the description 'peritonitis' because it doesn't fit with an idea we have about how Metcalf died, how could we argue against someone who decided to dismiss the reports of the autopsies on Lonigan, Scanlan and Kennedy because those findings didn't fit with their views about how THEY died? I am simply arguing for consistency, and don't believe we should be second guessing the findings of the doctors who said Metcalf died from peritonitis.

    I know quite a few doctors and they all say if there was an infection around the eye that would have been very obvious, it would be most unusual for such an infection to spread to the abdomen – and none had ever heard of it doing that – and that if it was bad it would much more likely have spread to the brain and killed him that way. Blood poisoning can also kill someone from an infection anywhere, but thats a different thing altogether from peritonitis.

    The evidence we DO have is that according to Metcalf in September the eye was 'getting on very well', and that the following month he died from peritonitis . I find it harder to believe that Metcalfs death was caused by a bizarre and possibly unheard of complication of an eye injury that a month before he died was getting on very well, than to believe he died of peritonitis which is something that can follow something as ordinary and as common as appendicitis, or various other not so rare bowel problems.

    I suppose one could speculate that the trauma and stress of his experiences over the preceding few months might have weakened him to the point of susceptibility to getting peritonitis, but to my mind the simplest explanation is that he died of an unrelated condition, aged 54 which in those days was relatively old, ( life expectancy for a boy born in 1880 was 47 )

  43. So from that I think its pretty clear that Mortimer was a sympathiser from the start. Like the rusted on Trump supporters, nothing their idol ever does, no matter how disgusting will ever shake their fond delusional belief that the guy is a hero!

    But the idea of Judith Douthies to find the descendants of hostages and find out what was handed down was a brilliant one.

  44. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Sorry Dee, I must disagree. Mortimer was out for a drive in a buggy with his wife and child, accompanied by Curnow on horseback. I am quite confident that he would never knowingly have exposed his wife and child to the situation where they were bailed up by the outlaws and as it turned out held captive in the inn. It seems that it was being caught up in the shootout that altered his view of events. It seems pretty safe to say he was a victim of circumstances.

  45. No, it's not clear. Firstly, the reference that Stuart Dawson is quoting is incorrect…"The Curnow family left the Glenrowan after the siege but the Mortimer family continued to live in GLENROWAN" (p120). The Mortimer family did not live in, nor were they from Greta. They were not related to any of the Sympathiser families, nor any others at Greta.

    It is dangerous to draw conclusions from incorrect references, just as it is dangerous to incorrectly reference on a website such as this for others to then cite.

    I will also clarify that not only did Judith interview descendants of hostages, she was meticulous in her research and use of primary sources, which are well documented.

    I will also state from personal knowledge that the Mortimer family never considered themselves to be Sympathisers. The quotes that Judith has used about David have come from David himself and his sons.

    On a side note, Judiths's father and Uncle are both published Authors, and taught her well to use primary sources and verify them – she did not rely on oral history alone. They were also very clear in their conversations to me directly that the Mortimer family were not classed as Sympathisers. Neither they nor Judith have ever spoken of Ned as a hero nor an idol. We have had many, many discussions. I find it somewhat appalling that you make the above statement.

    I believe that I can write this with absolute clarity – Stuart you will note that I wrote the fore word in Judith's book and was able to see and read the work and research as she completed it. I also gave the address when she launched the book at the Glenrowan Primary School, where descendants of police, hostages and family and sympathisers all came together.

    Stuart I would be interested to know which function you spoke to Judith at.

    Noeleen Lloyd

  46. Brian Tate says: Reply

    I agree with your comment on family (oral) histories Stuart. I am a former member of the Oral History Association of Australia and have carried out many interviews generally related to military history. In the mid 1980s, on behalf of the Australian War Memorial, I carried out a series of interviews with a dozen First World War veterans. To put that into context for what we have been discussing here, these men had participated in events I was interviewing them about. While much of what they said was generally accurate, there were instances where their accounts differed with historical records. It seemed to me that this was due to a number of factors. Firstly,I think that in some cases time and mental deterioration had tainted their accounts. In other cases I think they had exaggerated or altered their stories, for whatever reasons, and these were the stories they were sticking to. However, I should say that by and large, the old Diggers' accounts matched the historical record.

    My point is that even in the case of accounts by first-hand participants, oral history is fraught with difficulty and needs to be balanced with proved historical sources and records.

  47. Noeleen Lloyd thank you for your contribution. I am more than happy to be corrected about anything at any time – this is the whole point of the blog and the disussions, to get at the truth about the Kelly stories. I accept what youre saying, and Stuart as well, that David Mortimer WASNT a sympathiser, and I was wrong to guess that he was one.

    I take it then that when he said he was more afraid of the Police than the Gang, he was specifically referring to the situation obtaining while he was a hostage at the Inn. It would have been terrifying. Is that what he was referring to?

  48. Your doctor friends are probably right, Dee.

  49. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Noelene, I repeat my praise of Judith's extensive research and resulting book, and apologise for typing Greta there instead of Glenrowan, which was done from my scribbled notes. My point was to reject Dee's comment that David Mortimer could be classified as a sympathiser and any speculations based on that. I will send you a personal email re the function when I get home tonight.

  50. Dee. Today is your lucky day. I have Judith Douthies book and will ensure I email the information to you. It's a very good piece of work.

  51. Much appreciated Mark.( )

  52. Ken Brown says: Reply

    I'm having trouble with Dee's Metcalf conclusions. Ned shot him in the eye, and there was blood. We don't know how serious this wound was since Dr Gray apparently did not keep notes. A shot to the eye is close to the brain obviously and perhaps there was lead poisoning. With all the many gaps who can say for sure what happened to Metcalf?

  53. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Buggy ride take 2: Curnow was out for a drive in a buggy with his wife and child, accompanied by Mortimer on horseback. None of them would knowingly have exposed themselves to the situation where they were bailed up by the outlaws and as it turned out held captive in the inn. It seems pretty safe to say they were all victims of circumstances. (Thanks, Sharon)

  54. Bob McGarrigle says: Reply

    Hi Mr Dawson and yes Dee also. I would like to come clean as to infiltrating your website and have been rather immature in doing so.I apologise for being underhanded just like your supporter Brian Tait did to both sides of the Kelly debate.I would like to inform you that I did tell you of this previously.I am very surprised that you didn't pick up my comments as I am sure you would have.You should have picked up my name vintage47{Bob McGarrigle)when we locked horns on NKF.I went one worse than Tate impersonating a woman Hazel.(made sure she was quite polite too) The comments I made about Ian Jones and Judith Douthies book are correct and factual.Noeleen Lloyd has virtually confirmed in her posting that what I said about Judiths book were correct.Cousin Noeleen did not know of what I did and actually sent her an email last night telling her what I have done. The comments about Bronwyn Jones were not mine at all. These words came from someone elses description made previously about Ians wife.I certainly will never apologise to Brian Tate and the miserable accusations he made to me about my son Peter.This is probably the main reason I have continued on with the bickering with your mob as I do.He had no right what soever involving my family at all.My sons stabbing is only 1 of 3 incidents that has affected my life 2 with the state police and 1 with the Feds.If you knew the full details you would fully understand why I feel about our boys in blue.My Dad was born with the Lloyd name and I will always stand up for my family .He knew nothing of his biological family and was brought up by 2 sisters named Louise & Hannah McGarrigle thus my name.If you want to re-produce what I have said here is fine and if you don't that is also fine too.If you would apologise to Mr Dawson I would like that also.I will finish by saying there are faults on both sides pro and against ..Bob McGarrigle (Bob McG)

  55. Hi Bob
    Thanks for that explanation, that was pretty brave of you. I received but didn't post a number of comments suggesting Hazel was not the person she was supposed to be and I resisted the urge myself to address her as Bob – but I don't mind at all if you post as Hazel or any one else if you're contributing to the discussion in a positive way. I keep saying identity is not important to me and its entirely your call if you want to post under your own name or a pseudonym. Plenty off others do, including me of course. As you will have seen everyone took your points at face value and I think there has been a really interesting discussion as a result.

    Some time ago you posted on the hate page site a plea for peace between us all and I was quite keen to do that but decided to wait for a while to see if you stuck to your guns and I was glad I didn't because not too long afterwards you got stuck into me again! Maybe we can try again? Its just a discussion about history, not life or death Bob!

    But Bob, I don't know Brian Tate except through posts here and on Facebook, but I don't think he really has it in for you or your sons – sometimes we all write things we shouldn't have but once its posted its hard to get it back! I read what you wrote about your sons trouble and its obvious it affected you greatly – there are definitely some bad apples in the police force, as there are bad apples in the Church, in the Army, in Parliament, in Shops and schools – but for me, I don't allow that fact to translate into a general hatred and contempt for police, the great majority of whom I believe do a great job and that was true even in 1880. I am not a cop and never have been and am not related to police in any way. And Bob, I ONLY ever post as Dee.

    Take it easy Bob, and enjoy the Post Ive just about got ready to put up tomorrow morning! Keep posting! You're entitled to an opinion.


  56. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Bob/Hazel (you may have some explaining to do at the pub, now!), there is no reason to apologise to me about anything. You raised some points under whatever name, and we discussed them – that's the only reason I bother posting anything here. Most of the time people engage politely, and I have no idea who most of the people are, as a lot of them are anonymous or use crazy pseudonyms. The only two Kelly enthusiasts I know from outside of this blog who sometimes post, haven't posted for a couple of months. I could stick to writing occasional articles in obscure academic journals that almost no-one reads, or I can have some fun throwing ideas out there in a blog like this and see what happens. Some of it's bits of research, but sometimes it's just testing ideas. I'm bound to make some mistakes along the way, but so does anyone who does anything.

  57. Charlie Chase says: Reply

    Bob you showed heaps of grit with your post. It got me thinking about lots of things. Thanks. Sorry to hear about your son.

  58. Paul Baird says: Reply

    Although a bit long-winded and discursive, I always enjoy Doug's brilliance. A superior mind. My large Kelly book collection is based around my favorites MacFarlane and Morrissey!

  59. Ian MacFarlane says: Reply

    That was a gutsy post, Bob. It astonished me,though. But I have praised you before as the most reclaimable of the Kelly lags. You are right in supporting your heritage. My Dad was a Changi / Burma-Siam death railway survivor. I didn't acknowledge him enough when he was alive, or my Mum who got away from Singapore in the last ship. Thanks for reminding me of my own debt to history.

  60. Lennie Wong says: Reply

    The last the police saw of the outlaws was them firing at police from the verandah of the Inn, severely wounding Supt Hare. There is no evidence they then climbed into the roof. Byrne was killed in the bar. Dan and Steve Hart were found as badly burned corpses on the ground floor after the fire. If the roof had been peppered by the police firing high, and the outlaws were there, their corpses would have been found in the collapsed building. But that's not what happened.

  61. Jimmy Nelson says: Reply

    I think most people here and even on that hatesite will have learned some humility from Bob's strong, courageous post. He mentioned private, personal details that I found confronting. Sometimes we have to stop and closely examine ourselves. I will try to become a more honest poster here in future. I take my hat off to you, Sir!

  62. Mal Morgan says: Reply

    Dee, Dr Fitzy on his site has proved conclusively that Metcalf's peritonitis resulted from his eye wound and infection. So there!

    Dr Fitzy will see you now.

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