Ned Kelly wasn’t a bad kid

The green sash incident – ( love the dog!)
In contrast to the wealth of information that we have about the second half of Ned Kellys life, there is very little about the first half. Also in contrast to the second half, which was characterised by criminality and violence, what little we know of the first half suggests Ned Kelly was a fine boy.
Neds exact birthdate and place are unrecorded, but it was thought to have happened near Beveridge.  Ian Jones says it happened in a rental house that Neds father had built on land he bought on the south side of Mt Fraser, aka “the Big Hill”, in December 1854. Many years later, when being taken south to Melbourne by train after his capture, Ned himself was reported to have directed his guards attention to a ‘little hill’ to the left and said “That was where I drew my first breath”As Bill Denheld has noted, heading south the “Big Hill” would have been to the right, meaning either Ned had his wires crossed or else he was born near the ‘little hill’ not the Big Hill. More than 10 years ago the indefatigable Bill Denheld explored the area around the ‘little hill’ with Gary Dean and they found unmistakable evidence of a building site. Bill wrote A proper archaeological dig will prove the dwelling configuration.” As far as I know this hasn’t been done, possibly because almost nobody ever dared question Ian Jones’ assertion that the birthplace was on the southern slopes of Mt Fraser. Bills interesting discussions and photo collection of this site can be viewed on his webpages HERE. The exact truth remains unknown, but clearly Ned Kelly was born near Beveridge.
As Ive previously written, while he was growing up Neds father worked hard to provide for his growing  family. However he carried a heavy burden of guilt for the betrayal that he was involved in prior to his deportation from Ireland, and this fuelled both his determination to stay clear of the Law, but also his increasing dependence on alcohol. Never-the-less he was a law abiding citizen who I believe tried to protect his family from the negative influences of his own and his wife’s wider families and their associates, criminals who were frequently in trouble with the law for assaults, theft and other crimes. In 1863 Ellen attempted to defend her brother-in-law James against a charge of cattle stealing, and took Ned to the court to be a witness for the defence, both of them swearing on oath that James was at home with them when he was supposed to be stealing  13 cattle from a local blacksmith, Thomas Flynn. “Ellen has either told the truth or coached Ned to lie under oath” (Grantlee Kieza in “Mrs Kelly”) James is convicted and sentenced to three years hard labour. One can only wonder at what effect the sombre environment of a Court and his mothers encouragement to tell lies under oath would have had on 8 year old Ned. It would at the least have been confusing.
When a catholic school opened later that year, Ned started school. His teachers, a husband and wife were influenced by non-violent Quaker philosophy and so corporal punishment was rare. Ned learned to read and write to “second class standard” in six months. I am not sure what ‘second class standard’ is but by all accounts this was a worthy achievement.
Early the following year, 1864, when Ned Kelly was nine his family sold up and moved from Beveridge to Avenel, possibly in an ongoing attempt by Red to put distance between his family and the families of  his criminal brother, brothers-in-law and their asociates. They were debt free but had almost no money. They rented land and began to work it, and again proving Reds intent that his children prosper, he sent them back to school at Avenel for 4d each per week. At Beveridge Ned was remembered by a class mate as being ‘a tall and active lad and excelled all others at school games’. At Avenel he was remembered as ‘well behaved’ and ‘a very quiet boy’ However, at Avenel the teacher was much more ‘old school’ and inclined to box students around the ears and use a leather strap to maintain discipline. Later that year when they were all assessed by a Board of Education inspector, Ned passed Reading and Writing but failed Arithmetic, Grammar and Geography. He was second equal with three others in the class of 13 children,and his interest and talent for writing was already becoming apparent! When he was examined again in March the following year he also passed in Arithmetic. His age was noted to be 10 years and three months, the basis for the view that Ned was born in December 1854. Ian Jones (ASL) writes “So the first year at Avenel passed happily and peacefully enough and in November Ellen became pregnant” 1865 however was going to be very different.
Firstly, this was the year that Ned saved Richard Shelton, from drowning. Ned was 10 and big for his age – Richard was 6 – or 7, or 5 depending on which resource you believe. ( Corfield says he was born in 1860) The story is that he had slipped into Hughes Creek trying to retrieve his hat and Ned rescued him. I am not sure what the original sources are for this story, but it is one that lends itself to hyperbole, the stream being described as ‘swollen by recent rain’ and ‘a boiling hole of turbulent water’ by Jones, a ‘swirling torrent’ by Kieza, ‘raging waters’ by Fitzsimons, ‘rushing brown waters’ by Paul Terry –  yet 1865 was known as a year of drought! Forgive  my scepticism but Ned had apparently scammed the Sheltons before, collecting a reward for returning to them a ‘lost’ horse whose disappearance they suspected Ned may have been involved in. The horse was in good condition suggesting it had been looked after by someone who was fond of horses – Ned perhaps ? Nobody seems entirely sure exactly when Neds rescue of Richard happened, except that it was a school day morning, so I wonder how they can so easily remember it had been raining,  but  in any event its clear Richards parents believed the story and were most grateful to Ned for pulling their son out of the water and possibly saving his life. They presented him with the famous green sash, said to be one of Neds most prized possessions and as is well known, he was wearing it when captured at Glenrowan some 15 years later. Its now preserved in the Pioneer Museum in Benalla. I have a vague recollection of reading somewhere that Richard, when he grew up never denied the detail of this story but seemed reluctant to discuss it. I wonder if we really know the full story?
The second event of importance to the story that year was Red Kellys theft of a neighbours calf, his arrest and eventual imprisonment for ‘having illegally in his possession one cow hide’ This was Reds first transgression for more than a decade, and it resulted from the pressure to provide for his family, provision that was made almost impossible by his failing health and the drought- an absence of water and an excess of alcohol. He was treated leniently by the Courts and the Prison and released early, ( take note, believers in the myth of Kelly persecution)  but at the end of the year was again before the Court, this time for being drunk and disorderly. The Kellys were poverty stricken, and in 1866 there was no more money to send the children to school.
Instead, as Ian Jones wrote “Red fought a losing battle with the farm and with booze. His liver and heart suffered. As the year rotted away Ned helplessly watched his father destroy himself.”  He died in December. Ned was now 12 and approaching puberty, and he had just lost the restraining hand and cautionary advice from his father at the very time boys need it most. From here on, without Red, everything was about to change – he fell under the influences of his volatile mother and her family, the desperation of poverty and testosterone : tragically,  the ‘well behaved’ boy was going to be transformed into a killer.
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102 Replies to “Ned Kelly wasn’t a bad kid”

  1. Anonymous says: Reply

    In response to the Hughes Creek incident where Ned saved Richard Shelton, you stated that 1865 was a drought year and yet I have read numerous articles of the year stating that heavy rains and floods also occurred. Hughes Creek has a long fairly flat catchment which is elevated in the headwaters. So a local thunderstorm, typical of a drought year would be enough to turn this placid creek into a flooded creek. All the authors you mentioned are not wrong. Once again Dee, you have let your blind hatred of all things Ned cloud your judgement and common sense. Do your homework Sir.

  2. I was merely noting something of an inconsistency between the description of the creek on that morning, in a year said to be one of drought! Drought + Flooded creek = inconsistency worth noting. Now, I challenge YOU to provide references to just ONE of the "numerous articles" you've read that said that in 1865 there were 'heavy rains and floods" I accept there MAY have been thunderstorms and a swollen river that morning, but again I find it odd that nobody seems to be able to remember exactly when this event occurred. Is there just the tiniest possibility that the incident has been magnified in the telling ad retelling? This is why I am interested in finding out more about what Richard himself said about it in later life. Does anyone know?

    In the final analysis though, as I say in the Post, something happened and Ned was rewarded with the green sash which he apparently treasured for the rest off his life. Good on him!

  3. Brian Tate says: Reply

    I have always loved the delicious irony of this heroic event in light of Ned having apparently 'found' the Sheltons' 'lost' horse for a reward, a practice that seems to have been popular with members of the Kelly clan.

  4. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    What can we reasonably know about the Green Sash event?

    “When he was around 11, Ned rescued Richard Shelton (aged 7) from Hughes Creek. The rescue took place about 150 metres downstream from the bridge, where Richard had been trying to cross on a fallen tree bridge. The boys headed back to Richard’s home at the Royal Mail Hotel to dry off by the fire.” –

    So far, Richard has decided to cross Hughes Creek by walking along a fallen tree instead of using the perfectly good stone bridge. Perhaps as the story often goes, his hat blew off and he fell into the creek trying to reach it. This is consistent with young Ned jumping in to help him get back out, especially if young Richard could not swim, but it does not lead one to expect a flooded creek. That comes in another version:

    “In what is now a quite well known tale of the young Ned Kelly, Esau and Margaret's son Richard was rescued by Ned from drowning in the rain swollen Hughes Creek in August of 1865. Upon the arrival of the drenched children at the Royal Mail the grateful Shelton parents presented ten-year old Ned with a green silk cummerbund” –

    Now we have a rough date or period for this event, of August 1865. But we also have a “rain swollen” creek.

    We know that 1865 was a drought year. “1864-66 (and 1868) – The little data available indicate that this drought period was rather severe in Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia”. –

    Monthly rainfall data for Avenel is only available back to 1900. It shows that July tends to be wetter than August. August rainfall varies widely, from as low as

    Avenel has a median August rainfall of 60ml per month, averaged over 117 years –

    In that graph, we can see that 27 of the recorded 117 years had less than 40ml of rain in August, and about 8 had less than 20ml for the month. It is reasonable to expect that in the second year of a drought, rainfall would most likely be under the historical median for August.

    The Supplement to the Bendigo Advertiser of 25 July 1865, p. 1 reported that “After a very trying period of drought, by which mining operations were stopped, and large numbers of miners were thrown out of employment, the winter rains have begun to fall gently, dams have been partially filled, machinery been set a-going, and the miners found work again.” It does not sound like the region was wet in the lead up to August 1865.

    Similarly, The Age, 24 August 1865, p. 6, reported that “In very few districts has rain fallen during the winter in large enough quantity to soak the ground much beyond the depth of good ploughing, and thus the moisture still available will not suffice to carry on the crops to maturity.”

    In other words the story that Hughes Creek, Avenel, was heavily swollen with winter rain in August 1865 is unlikely; and the idea that it was a raging torrent is further unlikely. It follows that the first quoted version of the story, that young Richard fell into the creek off the log, and was pulled out by Ned and walked home, is most likely correct, and that tales of swollen rivers, raging torrents, and so on, are fanciful elaborations.

  5. Not knowing the date means Met records will be of no help.

  6. Anonymous says: Reply

    Just thought that we'd post a couple of times on this blog, but we're still here??

    our explorations have found a different qualification, (which the Education Department of the time soon recognised when monitoring), for one of the "teachers" of the Beveridge Catholic School of this period. We, also, treat this couple with respect in our family history.

    Secondly, Dee could you please explain the statement above, in reference to Mr John Red) Kelly: the families of his criminal brothers?

    B. T. and T. Ryan

  7. Excellent research and conclusions Stuart. If the river had been raging, both boys would have been swept away. Even Ian Jones hasn't noted that Ned was a good swimmer. Therefore the rescue was probably pretty minor, but well worth the cummerbund.

    Ned never had a dress suit to go with it though.

    There was, I think, a Cummerbund connection to Mr Shelton or an Irish connection, but I can't remember what. Here is its Benalla Costume and Pioneer Museum description now:

    Sash of green silk lined with green cotton, buff linen interface, gold thread fringes. Owned by bushranger Ned Kelly and worn by him under his armour when captured at Glenrowan on the 28th of June 1880. It had been given to Ned in 1865 after he saved a child from drowning. The cummerbund was collected when Ned was captured at Glenrowan on June 28, 1880 by Dr John Nicholson of Benalla, who dressed Ned Kelly's wounds. It remained with the Nicholson family until 1973 when it was donated to the museum by Dr Nicholson's daughter, Mrs Emmie Mcnab.
    Item Id Number:

    Not much help.

    1. Les Hilet says: Reply

      Horrie, Ned Kelly was a strong swimmer, Young Richard on the other hand, could not swim.

  8. Its great that you keep coming back, I am sure we all enjoy reading your contributions so please come back as often as you can!

    The schoolteachers at Beveridge, Tom and Sarah Wall seem to have been quite gifted and committed teachers. I think its a shame they couldn't have been Ned Kellys teacher for whole lot longer – their quaker influences might have helped set him on a different path.

    As for my comment about Reds criminal brothers, your point is taken – there was only one that I know of – I was thinking of James who went to prison in 1863 for cattle theft, but also of Ellens criminal brothers and their associates – if you look back at the Post you will see I have amended it slightly! Thanks for the correction.

  9. I love this! In the end it doesn't really tell us what we would like to know with certainty but applying facts and some sound reasoning to a historical puzzle gets us very close to the truth I am sure. Nice little piece Stuart. Keep 'em coming!

  10. Brian Tate says: Reply

    Once again Stuart some very nice research but I guess we will never know with certainty how Hughes Creek was flowing on that fateful day. But as has been pointed out, Ned did the right and noble thing in rescuing young Shelton.

  11. Appreciated.

    Our explorations found that Sarah Wall worked in the infants area, and the Educational Inspector found that she was not qualified. We wish also, Mr E. Kelly had of had the opportunity to have had further education with the quality of such teacher and educator.
    Sorry, but the sentence you amended we're still not sure what you mean.

    B.T and T. Ryan

  12. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Dee, it is clear that young Ned did rescue young Richard from the creek and that his family was grateful and gave him the classy cummerbund as a thank-you gift. You raised a question about various descriptions of "swirling waters" and "raging torrents" etc., in a drought year. An hour or so's research suggests the idea that the creek was swollen with rain is unlikely. This does not detract from Ned's rescuing the boy from a creek (or waterhole, etc.), and the genuineness of his parent's gratitude, but it does suggest that the white-water rescue implied by some of the more creative enthusiasts is exaggerated. I hope that the first commenter does put up at least one reference specific to Avenel, Hughes Creek, or that catchment area in August 1865 re flooding rains, so we can see if there is anything in that suggestion or if it is more of a generalisation that that would be possible. If the latter, we are back to educated guesses based on the available historical weather data, which suggest the creek was not filled with swirling waters that August. In that case we would pour cold water on that part of story, and stick you young Ned jumping in to pull young Richard out and walk him home for them to both dry off. And yes, it is possible for country kids not to be good swimmers.

    Also, I don't know what book your illustration came from, but was Ned's father there then to tie the sash around his son?

  13. Stuart, it seems that the both of us were out on the same tiles as I had also run up on some of those stats. I extended my search by taking out the year and found some interesting things I had not thought of regarding Hughes Creek. Not having ever seen the bridge and creek except in photos and at certain angles, I was surprised to learn that the creek used to be much bigger. One site said that water used to flow through all six of the arches (guess they weren't just for show, huh?) but that in 1916 a flash flood had deposited so much sand (something called a "sand slug") that made it much narrower/shallower. In a 1924 letter to the editor, someone said of it that "The creek was running strong after eight months of drought." Also of interest was where someone was reminiscing about Avenel of old in a piece from May of 1918 in The Seymour Express –

    "The late downpour has infused a
    little life into that waste still called
    Hughe's Creek. The name is a misnomer.
    In summer it is full of sand
    dunes and depressions, but when
    winter comes a few pools may be
    seen to provide life for the tadpoles.
    When Lloyd Jone had his sheep
    station, which contained thousands
    of acres, between forty and fifty
    years ago, Hughes Creek was then
    a valuable tributary of the good old
    Goulburn river. Parliament enacted
    laws that land should be selected,
    and consequently his run was divided
    into selections. I remember when,
    nearly forty years ago, a fine lot
    of farms became studded in the
    neighbourhood of Hughes Creek, and
    rustic homesteads appeared above
    the horizon. The: creek was then a
    valuable asset; the banks a rendezvous
    for the people, and a pleasant
    picnic and fishing ground. Wild duck
    were to be seen, and the native pidgeon.
    There were some picturesque
    spots for the happy sweethearts to
    talk of unity, love and affection,
    whilst a sweet embrace was indulged
    in when old Sol was sinking amid
    the golden clouds afar in the west.
    Those happy youngsters of the old
    times are the. parents of today. On
    the bank the Wattle grew, and in
    company with other trees formed a
    shady bower over the crystal waters
    as they moved listily on to their
    destination, joining the roaring torrent
    of the greater stream…"

  14. Dee, where you say –

    "The schoolteachers at Beveridge, Tom and Sarah Wall seem to have been quite gifted and committed teachers. I think its a shame they couldn't have been Ned Kellys teacher for whole lot longer – their quaker influences might have helped set him on a different path."

    Are you suggesting that the Walls were quakers or am I reading that wrong? I really highly doubt that a Roman Catholic school would hire teachers who were not of the RC faith. Heck, the RC chaplain at the Old Melbourne Gaol even objected to having anyone representing other religious denominations to even visit Ned when he was incarcerated.

    I know that Ian Jones said in "A Short Life" –

    "Thomas and Sarah Wall started to teach the Kelly children the superb syllabus of the Irish National Schools, with virtually no corporal punishment – the result of Quaker influence on Irish teaching methods."

    Maybe that is where the confusion arises?

  15. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Sharon, if a 1918 paper gives us remembered info from "40 to 50 years ago", the info covers roughly 1868 to 1878, which is still a little too late for what we want. The government data listed three years of drought, the first major drought for which there is a record, from 1864 to 1866 inclusive, and 1868 also being a drought year. The remembered period is unfortunately the decade following the major drought. In te remembered period, the creek banks formed a pleasant picnic and fishing ground where "the Wattle … formed a shady bower over the crystal waters [of Hughes Creek] … moved listily on to their destination", which was the raging torrent downstream to which it was a feeder creek. Listily is not in any online dictionary, but is close to listless, which is languid, lingering – not at all the raging torrent of the river that it joined downstream. Maybe some Kelly enthusiast only read the last sentence if they saw that article? Happy, too, too happy… What we really need is an article or report from 1865, preferably August, telling us what Hughes Creek was like then, if we want to picture Ned braving the rapids like a young Clark Kent. Surely some Kelly fan can drag up a proper reference about this, as so much has been made of it. (Especially by children's book writers, who forget that naughty Ned told lies in court. Ah Fook, that just slipped out.)

  16. I wonder if the Anonymous who claims to have 'read numerous articles of the year stating that heavy rains and floods also occurred" is EVER going to provide his proof that my judgement and common sense have all been clouded by my 'blind hatred of all things Ned? Or are we going to once again see a demonstration of how Kelly fanciers love to posture and pontificate but can never back up their claims?

  17. Yes Sharon I was referring that quote. from IJ. I took it mean they, the teachers , were influenced by the quaker ideas incorporated into the syllabus, and so for example they were reluctant to use corporal punishment.

    You know, thinking about Ned at this point in his young life, I feel really sad for him. He was an exuberant big strong boy who was quiet and eager to learn, loved horses….how tragic that everything conspired to turn him from someone who would rescue a class mate into the frightening criminal he became not so many years later.

  18. Nat Curtis says: Reply

    [Off Topic] Does anyone know what happened to the great Ned doco "Genepool Productions – Lawmakers and Lawbreakers" that seems to have disappeared up its own klacker? I think it was scheduled for Foxtel's History Channel earlier this year. Maybe we have been spared more rollicking Ned devotional rubbish, and not 'the truth' as was promised.

  19. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Clanger alert re. "He was the proudest boy the sun ever shone on when his father tied the sash around his waist", with gratuitous illustration as above. On 29 May 1865 his father was sentenced to 6 month's gaol (in lieu of a £25 fine, which he could not pay), see Royal Commission Minutes, Appendix X. He was in the can during August 1865, the alleged time of the Green Sash Incident, and according to Kelvyn Gill's Historical Record for that sentencing date, he was released "probably in October, after remissions". From this and the Heritage Council report dating the event to August 1865, it does not seem that our sunshine was presented with the sash in his dad's presence. Dee, what book is that from, please? I must write to the publisher asking for that page to be redrawn.

  20. Dee, yes, I was thinking that was what you meant, but the wording might have thrown off others not familiar with Jones' text for their minds to refer back to. I have found that one must spell everything out as there are new readers looking in all the time who have not yet delved as deeply as others.

    Regarding Ned, if his father would have lived long enough to guide him with a firm hand as he entered his teen years he might have had a better chance but given the circumstances and people he was surrounded with, he didn't stand much of a chance, did he. Yet, many other fatherless and poverty stricken youths of the era became solid, honest, hardworking citizens. I don't know what the answer is. And yet, here we are 137 years later his name is our lips whilst the names of the others referred to are long forgotten if ever known.

  21. The old adage that you learn something new every day is really true. I had never heard of the word listily before, either. First I thought the text on the sidebar in the article at trove might be wrong and the word was perhaps "lustily." But I enlarged the actual article and the word indeed was "listily." It seems to have been a popular word in 19th century newspapers as birds chirped listily and crowds cheered listily.

    Digging deeper on google books there is a book from 1922 called The Cloud of Unknowing by Evelyn Underhill in which there is this –

    "…this is the verb "to list," with its adjective and adverb "listy" and listily" and the substantive "list," derived from it. "List" is best understood by comparison with its opposite "listless." It implies a glad and eager activity, or sometimes an energetic desire or craving : the wish and the will to do something. The noun often stands for pleasure or delight, the adverb for the willing and joyous performance of an action : the "putting of one's heart into one's work."

    Also, I had mainly put the reminisces of Hughes Creek past up for all to read as I found it be interesting and evocative, even if it was not within year range or supportive of any scientific-like theory. I just got a good feeling reading about how the residents of Avenel in a long ago time found pleasure and leisure on the banks. I hoped others would, too.The narrative was a good one, the writer made the whole scene come completely alive and made me sorta wish I could go back in time and find a shady spot by that creek to while the hours with my sweetheart, too.

  22. Sharon that reminds me of the word 'ruthless' – we never talk about being plain 'ruth' or 'ruthful" do we? And another weird English language thing : we have complete and incomplete, articulate and inarticulate. but flammable and inflammable mean the same thing!

  23. The book is "Ned Kelly and the Green Sash" by Mark Greenwood, illustrations by Frame Lessac. On the illustrators website it says this :

    "A narrative non-fiction book about the life of Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang, backed by detailed research, the story focuses on Ned as a young man and the little known story of the green sash. The text also includes brief biographies and fact files on the Kelly Gang, the true story behind the green sash and a detailed list of sources.

    A fresh new take on a fascinating and historically significant Australian story
    Excellent teaching resource for schools"

    I do love the illustrations though!

    And two other things – I am not sure there is agreement about the date of the Rescue. IJ seems to think it might have been before Red went to prison, and speculates that his lenient sentence may have something to do with Neds rescue of Richard.

    The other thing is that Red went to prison because a calf from Morgans property got across a creek that was low because of the drought ! Fitzsimons put it this way " a poddy calf from Phillip Morgans run next door wanders across the drought stricken creek that normally would have acted as a watery fence"

    Its still possible a flash flood occurred that day Richard fell in, but he must have chosen the worst day of the entire year to do so!

  24. I haven't heard anything but I thought the plan was that it would be finished by July, so it is probably still in the pipeline. Its probably stupid of me to be optimistic about this documentary, given that the police hater and externe Kelly fancier Steve Jager claimed some time ago to be involved with it in some way. I guess I am hoping the documentary makers will have seen through his bullshit, and when the doco is finally released he will get a huge shock to discover he's been ignored. If he hasnt been ignored then it probably will be "Ned devotional rubbish"

  25. How about how we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway?

    And, yeah, now that you mention it about the word "ruth" I have never heard it used either.
    Online dictionary says it is an archaic word meaning –

    Compassion or pity for another.
    Sorrow or misery about one's own misdeeds or flaws.


    Checking Trove I see it was used in an 1865 article –

    "….had they no feeling of ruth for the sufferings…"

    So, we learned at least two new things yesterday!

  26. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Sharon, that's great with "lustily"; so do we have a babbling brook moving listily along, or a listy spot without a swollen swell… Struth…

    And to Dee, re Red's sentence, we would have to know whether £25 or six months was a lenient sentence for unlawful possession of a hide, or whether a month's remission on a 6 month sentence was typical (which it might have been); in which case there was no "lenient sentence" for rescuing young Richard; and what IJ's reasons for his different date to the Heritage database were. Remember that he got the date of Black Wednesday wrong; on his calendar it is Black Tuesday 1878! (He seems to have used the 1879 calendar by mistake, or followed someone else who got it wrong.) Bear in mind that IJ wants to see hero Ned wherever possible and may have inadvertently enlarged the rescue tale, which is not mentioned by Kenneally. It is certainly a good thing that Ned dragged Richard out and took him home; but can we solve the puzzle of what actually happened on the day?

  27. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    From "Historic Avenel" – "Avenel’s natural ford was the original means of crossing Hughes Creek and the area was used as a camping place by drovers and travellers. Two wooden bridges were built but due to increased traffic the six arch stone bridge was  built in 1859 to service the Cobb & Co. Shortly after[wards] the Royal Mail Hotel was built near the bridge." (It was at 26 Henry Street.) "Avenel Primary School was Victoria’s eighth state school. In 2008 it celebrated it’s 150th anniversary."

    We can see on Google maps that little Richard should have walked from home over the Henry Street stone bridge and up Livingstone Street to school, a 12 minute walk. Apparently he decided to cross the river on a fallen tree somewhere along the creek, and fell in. Why did he try and cross on a tree? Did Ned dare him to do it? Why was Ned there if they were both going to school? The Kellys land was in Hovell Street, which is on the opposite side of Avenel, a 20 minute walk to school. What's going on here?

    There is a nice photo of the Avenel stone bridge in a low water year here

    We also need to be aware of confusion about the hotels. "By 1868, the coach change station had transferred from the Royal Mail to the Avenel Arms on the other side of the creek, but the opening of the railway line through Avenel in 1872 ensured the continued development of the town. The location of the Avenel railway station on a site about one and half kilometres north of the existing town on Hughes Creek however, drew business activity away from the old town to the area around the new station. Recognizing the significance of the shift in town focus, Shelton concentrated his commercial activity on his newly-erected Imperial Hotel near the station. Travellers now stayed at the Imperial and other hotels in the new area of town and the Royal Mail became a quieter community orientated hotel providing long-term accommodation."

    You can see that the current Avenel Pub (the old Imperial Hotel) seems to be trying to claim a link to Ned Kelly's boyhood; but the Kellys moved north after Ned's father died in 1866 –
    The Imperial Hotel has nothing at all to do with the Kelly story as it was built 2 years after the Kellys had moved out of the area! (Nice try, but!)

    1. Les Hilet says: Reply

      Stuart. The royal Mail Hotel was built in 1854 – 55, By James Hilet, it operated as a general store until 1857, when Hilet Obtained a District Publican’s Licence. So it was there for several years before the stonebridge was built.

      1. Hi Les, thanks for that. I could only go by the History of Avenel book. Does that mean thye building was built and operated as a general store for a couple of years before it became a pub? if so were there alterations to the building to turn it into a pub? I wonder if there is another source or record than the History of Avenel book that sheds more light on early Avenel?

  28. Stuart, Kenneally does have a brief section entitled "The Green Silk Sash – Ned Kelly saves boy from drowning in flooded creek" but he gives the town it happened in as Wallan and the Shelton family name is not mentioned. So, there is nothing of use there.

  29. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Sharon, my mistake – I word-searched the PDF for "shelton" and "avenel" and nothing came up. Thanks for pointing tat out, it puts Kenneally back as a contender for raising this. But as you have said it gives no new info, we will have to keep looking.

    1. Les Hilet says: Reply

      Essau Shelton Owned several businesses in Avenel, He was one of the original Patrons of the Avenel School from at least 1856, He purchased the Royal Mail Hotel in 1863. and operated it until his death in 1903. Shelton also operated the Imperial.

  30. Stuart I thought that charging Red of merely being in possession of a hide and dismissing the charge of cattle stealing was where the police were lenient with Red. Actually IJ says Reds remission was two months, and calls it generous – I am assuming he did his homework, as I haven't checked those claims foe myself.

    I also noted today that regarding exactly when the Red Sash event occurred , IJ wrote " It was probably in this dark year that Ned made his enduring mark on Avenel" – so its apparent theres much uncertainty about exactly when it occurred. I am still waiting to hear from someone who knows something about what DIck Shelton said about this in later life.

  31. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Dee, you posted that while I was writing this:

    What Jones says in “Short Life” 2003 p. 18 is that “In late May [1865] … made even harder by drought.… The creek was low and one of the Morgan’s heifer calves strayed across.” His dad Red was then gaoled for 6 months, held in the Avenel lock-up. Page 19, “It was probably in this dark year [that the Shelton rescue occurred]”. He does not provide any date or year for the event, so we are still running with August 1865 from the Heritage Council.

    In his reference note on p. 370 we find that there are Shelton traditions, plural, about the event, and that the “sash of honour … had come from the stock of a [Shelton] drapery business”. So while it was a high quality item, as we know from descriptions, it was not some rare family memento of mystical significance.

    Jones then says (p. 19), that “Ned’s rescue of Dick Shelton – before or after his father’s time in the lock-up – might have helped save Red from transfer to Kilmore Gaol”. Applying simple logic, it can’t have been afterwards if it was to have any impact on the transfer question. If it was during, it is a long wait from late May to sometime in August when the rescue of Richard took place; two whole months in between. So again, that doesn’t work. The fact is that Red wasn’t transferred to Kilmore and we don’t know why, but it doesn’t fit with any facts about Shelton. Possibly it was compassion due to his health? But that wouldn’t suit the police persecution theorists.

    Jones also says Red was “probably released in the first week of October with a generous remission of more than two months”. There is nothing in his note about the release date or details. Maybe they unloaded him because he was sick, in which case we might query the “generous” and substitute “humane”. Can anyone help with a VRPS number for Red Kelly’s prison record?

  32. Stuart, no worries, I figured that you had probably done a pdf word search just as you said rather than flip through the pages.

    Dee, there is an article from 2001 in which descendants of Richard Shelton say their dad did not really talk the incident –

    from the article –

    "Edward Kelly was 11 when – at some risk to himself – he plucked seven-year-old Richard Shelton from Hughes Creek in Victoria. The boy was to become the father of four daughters and eight sons. Harold, 91, and Britton, 87, who live in Melbourne, are the youngest and last survivors of Dick Shelton's large brood.

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

    But the brothers do remember that all his life their father was asked about Ned Kelly and he always replied brusquely: "He was all right."

  33. "He was all right" – and 'brusquely' WOW! Thats the best he could say about someone who was supposed to have saved his life.? It really does make one wonder about what exactly happened that day – maybe the story is true but Dick was repelled by what Ned later became so didn't really want to give him any kudos.

  34. This site gives further details – Ned was delivering milk:

    Here's what Richard's Great Gran-daughter thought years later:

  35. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Further information on the Shelton rescue is in Keith McMenomy's magnificently produced "Ned Kelly: The Authentic Illustrated History", with a double-page photo of a section of Hughes Creek “where Shelton’s rescue took place”, pp. 14-15. The creek here is flowing a little listily mid-stream, and tranquilly around that. We must hope that the photo was taken around 150 metres from the bridge, if it is to be indicative of the location. Sharon’s extract re the lovely scenery fits it nicely. Clearly, however, this photo does not show it in flood; much of the surface is calm, although it is unquestionably flowing. On p. 21, McMenomy informs us with sources cited, that “each day on their way to school, Richard and Sarah Shelton took a shortcut across Hughes Creek from their home at the Royal Mail hotel.” As I noted above, Google maps suggests this would not have been a shortcut of any note, and possibly not at all, but I would have to zip over to Avenel to have a look.

    McMenomy continues, “On one occasion, Richard … slipped into a deep waterhole. He was on the point of drowning when Ned dived in and ‘at the risk of his own life’, rescued the little boy from a watery grave.” But there are no raging torrents, nor surging, rushing, turbulent or even swollen streams in this second year of drought. Just a waterhole on the river. Again, I say well done, young Ned; and I had considered a waterhole as an option the other day without having seen this; so let us give the praise without the apparently fanciful hyperbole. I am still waiting for anyone to provide a newspaper or other source of the day indicating Hughes Creek was filled from heavy rain in August 1865; but with McMenomy and his quoted sources, at this point we must reject the rushing river story as an imaginary elaboration.

  36. This book purports to say the rescue got press coverage and that the rescue took place in the week before 6 Aug 1865:

    Sharon among others would recognise the modern author of the book.

  37. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Correction – Ned wasn't going to school, he had left school by then; he was doing something else. IJ says he was doing errands, Short Life, 2003:19. When Kenneally mentions the green sash (in Chapter 18), it only concerns it being of value and taken from Ned after Glenrowan ; there is nothing whatsoever about its origins or the Sheltons.

  38. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    The Screen Australia contract for Genepool's "Lawmakers and Lawbreakers" is for the period 2/8/16 to 30/9/17, so relax, it'll happen –

  39. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Dee, your title "Ned Kelly wasn't a bad kid" is a good start to an argument. While young Kelly was remanded in the Kyneton lock-up (where he lagged Harry Power), his language was reported to be "hideous", O&M 13/5/1870, quoted in "The Bushranger Harry Power: Tutor of Ned Kelly", by Kevin Passey and Gary Dean, p. 64. By all accounts he was a young larrikin. In Grantlee Kieza’s “Mrs Kelly” we learn that Dan Kelly featured in the Police Gazette 2 October 1866 as a suspect for horse theft; “Dan is aged just 5 years and 4 months, but perhaps Ned has started using his brother’s name when dealing with police, as he will in later years” (p. 63). Ned used Dan’s name for contact in his letter to Sgt Babington, the notorious “black snake” letter found late in the piece that proved the Kelly fans wrong who had refused to believe that Ned lagged Power. (E.g. Passey and Dean p. 67, “Either the boy refused to help, or he knew nothing at all, for when Nicolson left him, Kelly was still in the Kyneton lock-up, he had received no help whatsoever.” And thanks to Grantlee for his detailed footnotes; a vast improvement on many other Kelly historians as you can easily locate his sources. Buy the book for that alone, the referencing is excellent .)

    Then the nicking of the Shelton’s horse, returned for reward (Ian Jones, “Short Life”, read it and weep), the McCormack incident, and bashing the Chinaman Ah Fook, not to mention the Kyneton arrest was for one of three highway robberies of which Ned was actively suspected of aiding and abetting Harry Power, etc. (Passey and Dean, p. 64). No Dee, this will not do. There is room for a new children’s book called “Bad Ned Kelly” that will set the record straight. It could have lots of bad puns like “there was rustling in the bushes” that adults would get, and some great illustrations that tell his victim’s side of the story, like the testicle parcel Ned took to McCormack’s wife, or his running the poor woman over with his horse (see court report). Never wronged a woman, hmmm? On the other hand, maybe I’ll stop wasting my time on all this.

  40. Highly doubtful we will get to the bottom of it all, Stuart, but the journey towards it can also be rewarding. The only prison/gaol record I have ever seen for John "Red" Kelly is his early convict record. Are there prison records at PROV for those who only spent time in local lockup versus in the major central prison system?

    McQuilton says that "John Kelly's name never appeared in the Prisoners Released Lists in The Police Gazette's which were concerned with those who had been directly committed to jail." So, that avenue for timeline is squashed.

    Recently someone here mentioned a book called "Ned Kelly the larrikin years" by Graham Jones. I ordered a copy for less than $5 shipped, and he has a different timeline for the Hughes Creek episode. In this one, it doesn't happen in 1865. He says that the drought was broken in January of 1866 and floods came. He says that in Dec of that same year Red died and it was after Red's death the rescue event took place. So that would be sometime in early 1867 before they left Avenel for good? And the Shelton boy was how old them? We don't have his year of birth.

    The link someone gave for the google book does not work for me.

    Also that bit about the Avenel hotel trying to cash in on a connection that is not there, I vaguely recall that being discussed years ago on a forum, sort of a name em and shame em thing.

  41. Stuart I wasn't aware of the claim Ned pretended to be Dan, but apart from that and the possible nicking of the Shelton horse, the examples you quote are from AFTER the loss of Red, and I would say, during Neds adolescence and young adulthood . The point I am trying to make is that as a "kid", shall we say a prepubescent male with a living father, Ned seems NOT to have been a serious troublemaker or a problem, though there were some worrying signs – ( such as the Sheltons horse incident). It was after Reds death, the onset of puberty and the move north to Greta that Ned really began to go off the rails. If Red had been alive do you think he would have allowed Ned to go off with Harry Power?

  42. The Great Granddaughter has received a version of events that appears to include a few mistakes – Dick wasn't seven if we accept Corfields claim that he was born in 1860, and nobody I know of has ever claimed the sash was presented at School.

  43. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Sharon, the search is the main thing of course, and the challenge is to solve the historical puzzle. According to Ian Jones "Short Life" 2003: 19, Ned stopped going to school after his father was locked up for 6 months at the end of May: "Ned took his father's place in the home and on the farm… The months passed and in August [Ellen gave birth to Grace]". Assuming Jones is right about Ned abandoning school, then contrary to the descendant's version in the news item Ned was not on his way to school when the Shelton event happened. I think we are making collective progress here, and are closer than when we started, but as you say it is still up for grabs.

  44. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Horrie, thanks for the reference to press coverage, from Sophie Masson's "My Australian Story – The Hunt for Ned Kelly", with apparently a press clipping reproduced from early August 1865. We can see that the headings on the press clippings pages have been added editorially, so we need to corroborate the sources as authentic, before we can confirm the date it is said to have taken place. But that would be great if it works. The Google book pages are selective extracts and don't include the pages of historical references, so I will try and grab it from the library today and see if there is an original source given for that.

    The PressReader article repeats the story of Ned delivering milk as fact, but Ian Jones who interviewed descendants said Ned was running errands, possibly delivering milk, so we should keep an open mind on that. We also need to regard McMemony who found some other descendant info. The second press article is another descendant's version of the story that says, “Richard was on his way to school and fell in the local creek, he couldn’t swim,” Mrs Fruend said. “But along came Ned who was on his way to school too and he saved Richard – pulled him out and saved him.” In this one Ned is still a pupil, so we need to confirm when Ned left school to clear that up; and also that young Richard couldn't swim, as makes sense for the parent's gratitude expressed visibly with the valuable sash.

  45. Strange how I can't get the link for Masson's book to open so I can have a look at what is being discussed. That said,I think that the book is a novel, so any newspaper article could be a mocked up one for better story effect perhaps. There was some other book that had mocked up narratives/diary entries from people in the Kelly story that I thought might be very confusing for those not in the know.

  46. Avenel Courts: Registers: 1855-1938: 17 volumes: open: VPRS 287

  47. PROV might have Avenel Police occurrence book or maybe Victoria Police Museum.

    Generally, there are a lot of versions of the rescue and ancillary "facts", but I think we're getting somewhere.

  48. I think you will get there, Sharon, by googling:

    "My Australian Story – The Hunt for Ned Kelly" shelton

    As you say this is confusing and perhaps bizarre.

  49. Frank Clune's Ned Kelly's Last Stand refers to the Occurrence book of Avenel Police Station, and that Red "was convicted and fined" over a cow hide.

    Timeline creator Sharon Bendle says that the river rescue took place on March 25 1865 on–24

    But no evidence is presented.

  50. Frank Fagg says: Reply

    Was Ellen Quin/Kelly always up the duff at her weddings?

    Everyone knows she was heavily pregnant (to someone else) when she married George King.

    But I found on a genealogical website yesterday that she was more than six months pregnant when she married John 'Red' Kelly in St Francis Church in Melbourne on 18 November 1850.

    That's in NONE of the pro-Kelly books like Jones, McQuilton, FitzSimmons, Webb, etc., etc.

    Before contraception slip-ups often happened. Let's leave it at that.

  51. I had already tried that under google books but it only had the citation for the book, no way to search text. I think what is going on is some copyright thing for different countries. One time I had gone to google books and found a certain book and tried to alert others. No one down under could go through the link nor could they find it on a search. I was the only one seeing it. I may be the only not seeing this one!

  52. Another two days have passed and nothing but silence – crickets chirping, tumbleweeds – from the Kelly fancier who claimed to have read ' numerous articles' from 1865 stating that heavy rains and floods occurred that year, and was challenged t provide just ONE of the references. This is exactly what I expected – all talk and no action. Such complete losers, Kelly fanciers. No credibility at all.

  53. Brian Tate says: Reply

    Thanks Horrie. Do you know if these records are accessible online? Have done a basic search but no result.

  54. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Horrie, I just spotted this, "He seems to have served 4 months in gaol because on 3rd October 1865 John Kelly himself registered his eight and last child, Grace, in Campions store in Avenel." There is no source reference given.

    Also, I found PROV have VA 3036 Avenel Court, 1855-1888 Court of Petty Sessions, Cause List Books VPRS 8632. I'm not sure what it might contain, however.

    I can try emailing the Police Museum to see if they have the Occurrence book from Avenel, but their response time is fairly slow as I discovered with my Fitzpatrick research, as they seem to have hardly any staff and do enquiries from police families first.

  55. You must not have looked close enough, because Jones, Molony and Fitzsimons all remark on Ellen becoming pregnant before her marriage to Red in their books.

  56. The October 3, 1865 date comes from Frank Clune's The Kelly Hunters in the notes at the back. Re the Occurrence book, Molony says this –

    "Clune states that his evidence comes from the Charge Book at Avenel courthouse. It is no longer available either there or at the P.R.O.V."

    Also, Jones says "Clune cites the Charge Book, Avenel Courthouse, and Occurrence Book, Avenel Police Station, neither of which is now available."

  57. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Now that I have got hold of the "Ned Kelly and the Green Sash" book, I can see that it is structurally built around the pack of lies frequently republished as Ned Kelly's first condemned Cell letter, but which was actually written by his solicitor Gaunson and published back in August 1880 as part of a much longer piece, of which the alleged "Condemned Cell letter" is the first four paragraphs (see my "Redeeming Fitzpatrick" article for the details). Further note that that alleged letter does not appear in the VPRO condemned cell correspondence, simply because it was never part of it. In the unpaginated "Green Sash" book, if we count the first page of book text as page 2, that letter is referenced on pp. 3, 24, (page 26 is based on an actual Condemned Cell letter, 10 Nov 1880), and 33. In other words it is referenced at the start, end, and middle. Other parts of the book draw on the Jerilderie letter, where the police are described as "snakes and toads" (31, words that Kelly did not use), "big bellied unicorns" (7), and "traps" (so parents can helpfully explain what traps are to their children). The police are presented as racists who call the Kellys "Irish riffraff" (7) regardless that over 80% of the force was Irish background. The forces of the law knowingly plot against the Kellys (18) and police ransack the Kelly home (19) for no apparent reason, as Kelly’s shooting of Fitzpatrick has not yet been mentioned, and when it is, it is not contextualised. The book gives the “fierce gunfight” (Kelly) version of the Stringybark Creek ambush murders (21) and speaks of Glenrowan as a “battle” in which the police shoot first (25, 28). A curious version of history to read or give to children, I think.

  58. The Shelton story continues to grow more complicated. Apparently Jones wrote he was crossing a bridge when his straw hat blew off…


    Masson, Sophie (2010). My Australian Story: The Hunt for Ned Kelly. Scholastic Australia. ISBN 9781921990724.

    The Hunt for Ned Kelly(2010) Winner, the Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children's Literature, NSW Premier's Literary Awards, 2011, also Notable Book, CBCA Awards 2011.

    It is peculiar to devise a fake news article for a children's book.

    Brian, I doubt that series in online – but I'll check.

  59. In "A Short Life" IJ says quite clearly that Richard DIDNT use the bridge but "a makeshift footbridge…formed by a huge red gum that had fallen across the creek"

    This news article is interesting – the Shelton descendant interviewed says that Ned Kelly "was a champion bloke, an absolute bloody champion" but as is rather typical of people who think Ned Kelly was a great bloke he then then exposes his complete ignorance of Ned Kellys actual story saying "He was a bit of a rogue" and "I think he did kill two policemen"

    You THINK he killed two policemen? Are you not exactly sure? Well actually, Ned killed THREE police and hatched a plan to kill a score more. So that makes him ' a bit of a rogue' does it?

    Maybe if he actually knew what he was talking about, he might not think Ned Kelly was such a great bloke!

  60. Anonymous says: Reply

    Frank Fagg – what evidence do you have that Ellen was pregnant to another man when she married George King?

  61. Anonymous says: Reply

    According to the article in the link Ned saved Dick Shelton in 1864.
    Although according to the following buffoons, Dee, Bwian, and Dawson it probably never happened at all.

  62. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    The two key books/records that are needed here for Red's locking up and release are the ones Sharon just mentioned from Ian Jones' reference to Clune, the Avenel Courthouse Charge Book and the Avenel Police Occurrence Book, that Jones says are now missing. In that case it makes sense to try and find what evidence might exist for the dates others have proposed; the March date, the August date, and the mystery 'after Red was out of the lock-up' date. At this point there is no hard evidence supporting any of these dates, and still no evidence of the time that Hughes Creek could have flash flooded, except for my 2 newspaper articles of July and August 1865 indicating the drought was still on, which makes flooding unlikely. It would be reasonable to think that some newspaper of the day would have reported a flash flood in the area, as it would have impacted agriculture. So the flash flood theory is not looking good at the moment.

  63. I probably should've sent this "Anonymous" comment straight to the trash.

    However I think I can speak for all the people named by this troll, and inform it that none of us have EVER suggested the 'Shelton' incident 'probably never happened at all' What we are discussing is the fact that every telling of that episode has claims which conflict with claims made in other tellings of it. All the gaps inconsistencies and uncertainties in these variations of the story are a challenge to us , and we are merely seeing if we can get any closer to the whole truth of the matter.

    This sort of activity is much too subtle for a Kelly troll. It just wants to believe a comforting fairy story.

  64. Actually Frank, Jones DOES mention that Ellen was pregnant well before the wedding : …Ellen became pregnant in May 1850 and for reasons which remain unclear another six months passed before the elopement"

    Fitzsimons says the same thing and typical of his approach wrote her " large baby bump marginally preceding her down the aisle"

    I hadn't heard Georges 'first' was not actually his so please enlighten us all

    But its true she conceived out of wedlock three times.(Reds, Frosts and Kings )

  65. Dave Lyell says: Reply

    It is certainly beginning to look as though the event was overly exaggerated in the pro-Kelly books and articles. Why so many versions of dates and what happened, nearly all of which have been disproved right here?

    It's likely something did happen – but what, and when, and where and how…

    I don't think you are going to be much help.

  66. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Anonymous, young Ned certainly did save young Richard from Hughes Creek, and a very good thing too. The questions we are exploring here are (1) when (date), and (2) the calmness or turbulence of the creek. Your Aussie Towns site says only that "In 1864 Ned Kelly saved a boy from drowning in the local creek." It is the only site or place that mentions 1864, so is probably a typo. We can't call that a source, as there is no source reference given, so you are on your own here mentioning that year in contradiction to Ian Jones, for example, who says is was probably 1865 (2003: 19), and indeed other Kelly historian who has written about this. My dictionary defines a buffoon as "one who amuses others", so I'm glad to see you are amused by this discussion. Now if you could perhaps contribute something intelligent to it rather than a date from a travel website?

  67. Frank Fagg says: Reply

    You would have to read 'The Kelly Gang Unmasked' to find the answer to that.

  68. Frank Fagg says: Reply

    Dee, you would have to read 'The Kelly Gang Unmasked' to find the answer to that.

    Page 167 !

    'The Kelly Gang Unmasked' also mentions Ellen was five months pregnant when married to John Kelly on 18 November 1850.

    I am not a pregnantophile. It's just that she was frequently in this condition and not always to husbands.

    Now, how am I going to vote in the forthcoming 'postal survey' on gay marriage? Hhmmn.

  69. Ben Hammond says: Reply

    So what did Ellen wear behind her ears to attract men?

    Watch this space.

  70. Sharon, Corfield (yeah, I know) says that Richard Shelton was born in 1860. That would tie in with Graham Jones book saying it happened in 1867 because just about everyone says Richard was 7 when he nearly drowned!

    Anyones head spinning yet?

  71. Quoted from the Jerilderie Letter "Fitzpatrick will be the cause of greater slaughter to the Union Jack than St Patrick was to the snakes and toads in Ireland" – so he DID use those words and they WERE applied to the Police in the form of Fitzpatrick. Just saying!

  72. Back in the early days of the colony men outnumbered women, so, anyone in a dress would probably have to fend off eager suitors with the proverbial boat oar no matter what they looked like, how old they were or how agreeable or disagreeable their temperament was. It was a seller's market, so to speak, but, as in all things, caveat emptor!

  73. Brian Tate says: Reply

    Typical comment by Fitzy and as usual nothing to contribute to this discussion. The article that he cites on the Aussie Towns site doesn't provide a source for the 1864 date, so not much use at all. And while I'm at it, Fitzy when are you going to publish your second part to your piece on the multiple bullet wounds at SBC?

  74. The Green sash meaning-

    Horrie, you refer 13th to this discussion in Feb 2016
    Lying to Children: Is this Neducation

    Where in I wrote-
    "We all know the Kelly outbreak and Eureka grew out of inequitable laws enforced by autocratic governments, primarily Protestant religion of the [Orange Order] that in 1688, William of Orange seized the thrones of the Catholic King James that ruled England, Scotland and Ireland.

    Out of this defeat rose Fenian movements generally seen as the Green order.
    *Definition – Fenian Brotherhood and Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), "

    When Ned Kelly saved the Shelton boy from drowning, he was given that green sash. That sash meant a lot to Ned, I think not so much for saving the boy's life, but for what it stood for. According to Bob James, author 'They call each other Brother' , the sash was a symbol of Fenianism in Australia, – the eternal fight for equity.

    Bob James in his book wrote-

    " Neither Ned nor his mates could expect to be invited to join St John's Masonic Lodge in Beechworth. And yet, the iconic 'cummerbund' presented to Ned as a boy and apparently worn by him at Glenrowan is actually a sash denoting fraternal society membership, a fact apparently unrealised by anyone in the 'Kelly industry'. While one usually has to read the fine print to discover that Aaron Sherritt's family had Orange connections and while the neglect of records makes it very difficult to pin-point specific memberships, the sash, almost certainly of the HACBS, heightens the likelihood that local rivalries had crystallised into opposed lodges."

  75. 14 Aug 2017
    This post was submitted twice but got lost??

    Hello Horrie, you refer to this discussion in Feb 2016
    Lying to Children: Is this Neducation

    Where in I wrote-
    "We all know the Kelly outbreak and Eureka grew out of inequitable laws enforced by autocratic governments, primarily Protestant religion of the [Orange Order] that in 1688, William of Orange seized the thrones of the Catholic King James that ruled England, Scotland and Ireland.

    Out of this defeat rose Fenian movements generally seen as the Green order.
    *Definition – Fenian Brotherhood and Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), "

    When Ned Kelly saved the Shelton boy from drowning, he was given that green sash. That sash meant a lot to Ned, I think not so much for saving the boy's life, but for what it stood for. According to Bob James, author 'They call each other Brother' , the sash was a symbol of Fenianism in Australia, – the eternal fight for equity.

    Bob James in his book wrote-

    " Neither Ned nor his mates could expect to be invited to join St John's Masonic Lodge in Beechworth. And yet, the iconic 'cummerbund' presented to Ned as a boy and apparently worn by him at Glenrowan is actually a sash denoting fraternal society membership, a fact apparently unrealised by anyone in the 'Kelly industry'. While one usually has to read the fine print to discover that Aaron Sherritt's family had Orange connections and while the neglect of records makes it very difficult to pin-point specific memberships, the sash, almost certainly of the HACBS, heightens the likelihood that local rivalries had crystallised into opposed lodges."

  76. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Dee, not quite. In the Glenrowan book pages context Kelly could have called out, "Come on you bloody dogs", as he did in real life, but that was presumably too much for a sensitive kid's book so Kelly calls them "snakes and toads". The sentence you quoted contains an analogy to St Pat in Ireland, not Kelly's words applied to Fitzpatrick. Just clarifying!

    And also for interest, the song "Ned Kelly was a gentleman" was likely built on "St Patrick was a gentleman", as we can see from the second last verse: "No wonder that the saint himself should understand distilling, His mother had a shebeen shop in the town of Enniskillen."

  77. Oh I see now! I looked at that book last year and it was part of my post called "Lying to Children : Is this Neducation" Have you read it again? I just did and it made my blood boil!

  78. Anonymous says: Reply

    Mr Mc Menomy, in his Illustrated history, (possibly 2001 version) records a reference to Mr John Kelly registering his daughter Grace at Campions Store, and there is a reference (not checked by us at this stage), but may be of interest to some.
    Also, while on the topic of Mr Keith Mc Memony, we would like to say that one of our family members (who he acknowledged at the front of his book-2001) has some wonderful correspondence from this historian and author.

    His work was so detailed, and he amended research as more information came to light, and best of all he wrote in a descriptive and reflective manner, respective of various points of view. Top class pictures as well. (We're still not sure about the Peechelba Poem, but that's ok

    B. T and T. Ryan

  79. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Some Hibernian sashes are pictured on p. 173 of a thesis at this link –

    As you can see, they have gathered ends and are and embroidered with elaborate symbolic patterns, which the Kelly sash does not have. Perhaps Kelly's sash as received was a drapery shop item from which such sashes were then embroidered for some sort of presentation, but that is pure hypothesis. What is clear is that as given to Ned by the Sheltons, it was assuredly not a sash of the Hibernian Australian Catholic Benefit Society. Sashes similar to Kellys are elsewhere. One example of similar appearance is a Patrician Green Sash, but was not first worn until 1888 –

    So perhaps the green sash has Catholic connotations other than Hibernian. As the theses mentioned above tells, there were many Catholics who were not Hibernians.

  80. Is that 'Peechelba' by Glenrowan?

    When Kelly crossed the Murray to Peechelba and doom
    A sombre silent shadow rode with him through the gloom.
    The wild things of the forest slunk from the outlaw's track,
    The boobook croaked a warning, "Go back, go back, go back!"
    It woke no answering echo in Kelly’s blackened soul,
    As onward through the darkness he rode towards his goal.

    An evil man was Kelly, a price was on his head;
    The simple bush-folk whispered his very name with dread;
    Before the fierce Ned Kelly the bravest man might quake-
    A cold and callous killer, he killed for killing's sake. .
    Past swamp and creek and gully, and settler's lone abode,
    Towards the station homestead the grim Ned Kelly rode.
    All night with loaded pistols he dozed and muttered there,
    All night the evil shadow stood close behind his chair.
    The brave school teacher Curnow, a man who though in fear,
    Was let slip out by Kelly and he warned the train that neared.
    And in the hours of darkness, before the break of dawn,
    Around the fierce Ned Kelly the fatal net was drawn.

  81. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Bill, the greenness of the sash is all very well, but Esau Shelton, Richard's dad, was a pillar of the Avenel establishment. Apart from being the successful business owner of the ROYAL MAIL Hotel, (not the Hibernian or some such Irish name), being on local committees, and shouting a community lunch at a plowing contest, he held the contracts for supplying food for the Avenel lock-up in 1866 and 1867. I haven’t found who supplied it in the surrounding years, but it may have been Shelton also. It think it would be drawing a very long bow to try and link the spirit of Irish Fenianism with the Sheltons giving Ned a valuable sash from a family drapery business to show their appreciation for rescuing young Richard from falling in the creek.

    Age, Wed 3 Jan 1866, p. 6.
    The following notifications appear in last night's Government Gazette: —
    Contracts Accepted. — For the supply of provisions to prisoners confined in police gaols or lock-ups, as required, during the year 1866; according to scales: —Avenel, Esau Shelton.

    The Age, Sat 8 Dec 1866, p. 6.
    The following notifications appear, in last night's Government Gazette :
    Contract Accepted – Prisoners' rations, during 1887, at Avenel: Scale 9, per ration, l0d, do 10, do, Is 3d, Esau Shelton.

  82. Bill I think we can agree the Eureka rebellion grew out of inequitable laws enforced by autocratic governments, but I don't think thats what gave rise to the Kelly Outbreak. The origin of the Kelly Outbreak was Kelly criminality which was not in any way political, and the legitimate attempt to arrest Dan and Ned by Fitzpatrick who was attacked and wounded at the Kelly homestead. There is no evidence anywhere that before the Fitzpatrick incident Ned was engaged in anything other than operating his 'wholesale and retail' stock thieving operation.

  83. Note to Anonymous : Your latest Comment went straight to Trash, for reasons you will be able to figure out for yourself I am sure.

  84. Bill,

    Glad you have joined this debate. Thanks for reminding me of the earlier discussion. I don't know that Esau Shelton was a Fenian. If he was, he would have wisely kept it to himself (Feneanism was unpopular here, especially after the later Fenian assassination attempt on Prince Alfred in Sydney in 1868). Likewise I don't think Ned was worthy of indoctrination into Fenianism. It would all have been well above his head as an 11 year old kid. All that being said, I still think there was a broader significance to the gift of the sash. It could simply have been a prized possession of Esau Shelton.

    On the other hand, Bill, the way this commentariat has developed, you could well be right!

  85. Dee, perhaps the best course of action is to just delete that type of anonymous/trolling comment without any online acknowledgement of it or explanation? Complete blackout and radio silence will go a long ways toward deterring the intrusions. Maybe they will get frustrated and go away completely if they see they are having no impact? We can at least dream of that wondrous day, can't we?

  86. Anonymous says: Reply


    B. T. and T. Ryan

  87. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Agree with Sharon 200%. We don't come online to post and then find we get abused by nameless idiots for no reason. We and others have both said this before. The policy of letting anyone comment needs to come second the the policy of no abuse. It just puts normal people off posting here, which is what these types want – to shut you down. It needs to be that no comment gets up if it contains abuse or insults. The person can get the message and repost politely, or not at all. If you want normal open minded people to come here, it can't keep turning back into an old battleground of "who abused who first in what forums several years ago". Move on and up; we are here now. I wasn't around then, and don't care, but I don't expect to be subject to troll comments if I give up my time to contribute to some otherwise interesting discussions.

  88. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi B, T and T, McMenomy's 2001 edition of his "Authentic Illustrated History" is where I found the stuff about the sash having been from the family drapery business, in other words, shop stock. Still valuable etc., as discussed, and given as an obvious mark of gratitude, but not imbued with any mystical significance beyond that. what I think has happened is that because Kelly wore the sash at Glenrowan, it has been given significance from hindsight. After all, rescuing Richard from the creek is the only good thing he is ever known to have done. You will find the bad stuff in the end-notes of Kelly books, but what goes in the main text is only the "hero" stuff. that's why Grantlee Kieza's book on Mrs Kelly is so good – it gives a warts and all chronological write-up of the Kellys and is the only such broad overview to date, that doesn't go out of its way to hide the negative bits, even though they are mot its major theme. In fact Morrissey attacked it as pro-Kelly, but I think that is too harsh. It is simply more objective that most, and much better referenced for locating its historical sources. Going further, it is not unreasonable to speculate that Ned did not wear the sash at Glenrowan because of any link to his childhood, but simply to stop the armour scraping around his waist. See the ABC video “Outlawed: The Real Ned Kelly” (2014) on YouTube, where an armourer gets a stunt man to wear replica armour and jump around in the bush.

  89. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    I just can't see it, Horrie. When Shelton had his new, second hotel built in 1868 he named it the Imperial. Like many other Catholics he was loyal to Australia and the empire; look at the many Catholic Irish police, for example. That makes him no less a Catholic, and no less able to retail Catholic sashes if such it be. You wild also need to show any link however remote with adult members of his family and Fenians, which there isn't. It is fairly safe to say the Kellys were not committed to any Catholic social or political group. His mum was remarried; and in a Primitive Methodist church. From memory one of his sisters also married in a Primitive Methodist church. McMonomy mentions a source that said the sash came from their family drapery shop, so there is no basis for speculating about prized possessions. What we have is a valuable silk sash as per the description you posted from the Benalla Costume Museum, and no more.

  90. Anonymous says: Reply

    When we posted the Wow! this morning your item was not there Mr. Dawson, so we were responding to the strength of the poem of Henry's.
    Our relative who corresponded with Mr. Mc Menomy undertook more research of the Mr Edward Kelly story than us, and we really appreciate the work that she, Mr Mc Menomy did,quite a while ago now, along with a researcher, in exploring more of the Ryan/Kelly connection, that we did not know about.
    We have appreciated being able to learn more about this period from writers historians such as Mc Menomy, Morrissey, Mc Farlane, Dawson, Hollingsworth,
    others, and the available resources themselves.
    We have appreciated being able to look back this weekend on the discussion Ms Hollingsworth has had on this site over the past week regarding her involvement with the Fitzsimmons 'Kelly' book, as the author has described his own version of editorial and content input.
    We have only been given permission for family history research from Public and Historical record organisations, so we are required to be careful what we say and post on sites likes this.
    We have been proud of our own document reference practices, and such has aided us in our confidence when we read older and more current items about past relatives and associates that we have researched.
    On the inner sleeve of Mr Mc Menomy's 2001 book. "Authentic Illustrated History of Ned Kelly" someone has written:
    "The Kelly story is rich with other extrodinary characters, real people leading a hard frontier life in the pioneering districts of Victoria".

    B. T and T. Ryan

  91. Should have gone to Specsavers, Stuart… Only kidding!

    If the sash was just for sale in his shop, and did not belong to him, you are absolutely right. That's a big step forward. Jones and FitzSimmons et al did not make this clear – if they knew – and misled us all.

  92. Brian, the Avenel Courts Registers aren't online.

  93. Brian Tate says: Reply

    Bill, you quote an earlier piece by yourself where you say "We all know the Kelly outbreak and Eureka grew out of inequitable laws enforced by autocratic governments, primarily Protestant religion of the [Orange Order] that in 1688, William of Orange seized the thrones of the Catholic King James that ruled England, Scotland and Ireland." If you interpret "…inequitable laws enforced by autocratic governments…" as being police persecution you know in the case of the Kelly outbreak that this is just simply wrong. The Royal Commission rejected that allegation in its reports, so why do you persist with the claim?

    You also quote from Bob James that " Neither Ned nor his mates could expect to be invited to join St John's Masonic Lodge in Beechworth. And yet, the iconic 'cummerbund' presented to Ned as a boy and apparently worn by him at Glenrowan is actually a sash denoting fraternal society membership, a fact apparently unrealised by anyone in the 'Kelly industry'. While one usually has to read the fine print to discover that Aaron Sherritt's family had Orange connections and while the neglect of records makes it very difficult to pin-point specific memberships, the sash, almost certainly of the HACBS, heightens the likelihood that local rivalries had crystallised into opposed lodges." That is simply James' opinion and not, to my knowledge, backed by any evidence. I certainly can't recall Ned himself or his family ever saying anything like this.

    As Stuart points out, the sash seems simply to have been part of Shelton's drapery stock and not apparently, especially ordered or manufactured specifically for young Ned. Personally, I think that Esau Shelton had it to hand and decided that it was an appropriate present to recognise what Ned had done. Nothing mythical or symbolic in it at all.

  94. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Just a general reminder that there is still no precise historical source evidence for a date of the Richard Shelton rescue, so I am still running with the Heritage Council's August 1865 as approximate, and have sent a query as regards where that came from. Proof from a written source of the day would be good, and also some source corroboration about the state of the creek for any of the other proposed dates, given that I have established drought conditions around Hughes Creek in July-August 1865. Can anyone else help here?

  95. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Just qualifying that I acknowledge the sash was a valuable high quality item, silk with cloth backing and gold bullion fringes as per the Benalla Costume Museum description. What I am asking is whether it had any value to Kelly at Glenrowan other than padding for his armour. Ned never mentioned the sash being taken from him, like he couldn’t care less. Just like he had a padded silk cap to stop the helmet banging against his head. If the sash had been some great memento he had plenty of chances to complain about it to journos, especially with his bitterness to the police. He seems to have missed it as little as the shot-up boots they took off him, that Jesse Dowsett souvenired along with one of his revolvers.

  96. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Absolutely, B, T and T, there is a lot of fascinating colonial history and remarkable endeavours by ordinary people. I got into this general area looking at mechanics' institutes and the self-help movement, not bushrangers. People went beyond their lives of daily toil to build communities and help each other prosper in often very rugged circumstances. Predatory thieves and bushrangers did nothing for these rural communities. Kilmore Examiner, December 6, 1864 – "Petty robberies are very common in Avenel. You cannot leave an axe at a wood heap, but it is bound to vanish. Some of these nocturnal visitors have a taste for sweets, as a hive of bees (full of honey) was stolen a short time ago from a garden fronting the main, street, and close to the police camp. It is high time a stop was put to this sort of work." The romance often attached to thieves and bushrangers now is quite at odds with the typical feelings of the day. Chapter 22 of Grantlee Kieza's "Mrs Kelly" gives a lot of newspaper sources I had not seen before, about how loathed the Kelly gang were in their own time.

  97. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    People only ask questions if they don't think they know it all already.

  98. Brian Tate says: Reply

    Thanks Horrie.

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