|Even on Death Row, Ned Kelly couldn’t stop telling lies
If anyone doesn’t believe me when I say that Ned Kelly was a notorious liar, here’s a few examples of lies taken from another of the Letters that Ned Kelly wrote. This letter was written from Gaol, 6 days before he was hanged, witnessed by the gaol warder G.W. Evans and signed by Ned Kelly with an ‘X’ because his hand was too damaged to write.
Kelly sympathisers almost never mention this letter, because of the huge number of lies Ned Kelly tells in it about what happened at Glenrowan. It’s another letter that should be read by everyone interested in understanding the mind of Ned Kelly because it shows that he must have been an almost compulsive liar, piling one lie on another and creating an entirely false and misleading account of what was planned for Glenrowan. We already know he was a shamelessly dishonest person who forged checks and tricked run-holders into signing forged documents involving the transfer of stolen horses, and we have already seen other lies of his, such as that he wasn’t home on the night of the Fitzpatrick incident, or that he killed Lonigan because was behind logs trying to shoot Kelly first.
I am not sure what being on death row does to a person’s mind but one has to wonder if he wasn’t losing his by this time, because the yarn he spins is so full of holes that it’s hard to imagine that Ned Kelly would have thought anyone would be fooled by it. Its as if his readiness to tell lies became such a regular habit that he could no longer distinguish between reality and his imagination. Or was he so convinced of his own ability to persuade that he imagined if he told a completely new story it would be believed? Either way, when I read this letter I get a very powerful sense of there being something seriously wrong inside Ned Kelly’s head.
His Excellency the Marquis of Normanby,
I take the liberty of bringing under your notice a statement of facts of the Glenrowan affair.
The first thing I waited for was the last passenger train to pass at nine o’clock. I then bailed up a lot of men in tents around the stationmaster’s house as I suspected there were detectives amongst them. I then bailed up Mrs Jones’ Hotel, then Mr Stanistreet the stationmaster, and asked him if he could stop a special train with police and black trackers on. He said he could stop a passenger train, but would not guarantee to stop a special train with police and blacktrackers exactly where I wanted it.
So then I bailed up the platelayers and overseer and ordered them to pull up the line a quarter of a mile past the station, so as the train could not go any further. My intention was to have the stationmaster to flash the danger light on the platform so as the stop the train, and he was to tell the police to leave their firearms and horses in the train and walk out with their hands over their heads, and their lives would be spared. Also to inform them that it was useless them fighting as me and my companions were in full armour and we could take the train and everyone in it; that the line was pulled up in front of them and I had a tin of powder behind them. So that if they attempted to return I would have blown the line up there as well.”
Here Ned Kelly is attempting to make out that he was forced into ripping up the rails because Stanistreet couldn’t guarantee that he would be able to stop the train. This is a lie. It’s also a lie that all he planned was to stop the train and disarm the Police. Remember his threat in the Jerilderie Letter?
“In every paper that is printed I am called the blackest and coldest blooded murderer ever on record. But if I hear any more of it I will not exactly show them what cold blooded murder is but wholesale and retail slaughter, something different to shooting three troopers in self-defence and robbing a bank”
Wholesale and retail slaughter was what Kelly had in mind for Glenrowan. Not one Kelly sympathiser or apologist has ever argued otherwise.
What we know is that the first thing Ned and Steve Hart had tried to do, on their arrival at Glenrowan in the dead of night was to secretly rip up the tracks with tools they brought with them. However, because they couldn’t, they had either to abandon the whole plan at the first hurdle or else wake people up at gunpoint and force them to lift the rails. Taking hostages and imprisoning them in the Glenrowan Inn wasn’t part of the original plan, but it was either that or give up. So they woke up the men in tents who turned out to be labourers who couldn’t help him, and then they woke up the Stationmaster who also couldn’t help them. However he told Kelly of a couple of platelayers who were then brought at gunpoint from their homes further along the line, and the tracks were ripped up. And then what did the Gang do? Wait at the Station with the Stationmaster and see if he could stop the train? No, he imprisoned everyone who got wind of what he was up to because the only way the plan would succeed is if the police never heard about it. The plan was that the train would speed through the station and plunge down the embankment a little further on, with much loss of life either immediately, or in the ‘mop-up’operation the armour-wearing Gang would then embark on to kill off any survivors. Ned Kellys promised ‘wholesale and retail slaughter’. This would have been a scene of such dreadful carnage that Ned Kellys image as hero and icon would have been destroyed and he would have been remembered forever as a deranged mass killer.
Neds lies about what happened continue :
This was my first intention, so as to capture the leaders of the police and take them into the bush and allow the superintendent to write to the head department and inform them if they sent any more Police after me or try to rescue him, I would shoot him, and that I intended to keep them prisoners till the release of my mother, Skillion and Williamson. But subsequently I varied my plans.
What I did do is bail up every person that came that way and place them in Jones’ hotel, and on Sunday night I stuck up the police barracks a mile further away, there being only one policeman there, Constable Bracken, who came to the door with a double-barreled gun in his hand, loaded and full cock, but dropped it when I told him to do so. I took him, his wife and child in bed, and told her if any police came there not to let them know. Then I let a man go to stop the train about a mile below the railway station and opposite the police barracks and to tell them that they were in the barracks.’
Firstly, note that Ned Kelly doesn’t say anything about a Republic. Instead, he says the purpose of this huge undertaking at Glenrowan was to capture ‘the leaders of the Police’ and use them as hostages to negotiate freedom for his mother – an absurd notion given she had only a few months left to serve. And why was Bracken not captured till the following night, if capturing the police was central to the plan? Clearly Ned Kelly is just making stuff up. But the most despicable lie here is his claim that he ‘let a man go to stop the train about a mile below the railway station’ obviously referring here to Thomas Curnow, the schoolmaster who outwitted Kelly by appealing to his pride and taking advantage of Kellys susceptibility to flattery. As every Kelly sympathiser knows, Curnow tricked Kelly into releasing him from the Inn, and fearing for his life, and against the pleas of his wife he headed down the railway line and stopped the train, saving countless lives with a candle and silk scarf. Neds claim here is a contemptible lie, trying to discredit Curnows bravery and claim that the idea to stop the train was his, and to cover up his own embarrassment at having been outfoxed with a few words of flattery by Curnow. Further on he wrote “The reason I differed from the first plan is I wanted the man that stopped the train to have the reward, as I heard it was to be done away with in three days.” This is complete and utter nonsense. Outrageous lies!
Heres another of the outrageous lies written by Ned Kelly in this letter:
“It was reported that they did not know who were in the hotel and that there was four shots fired from verandah of the hotel first. This is false. “
And later : “Neither me nor my companions fired a single shot until after I was wounded, which was the third volley from the police, which can be proved by 40 witnesses in the hotel.”
The record, derived from the testimony of numerous witnesses, shows that the Inn was surrounded, the Police called on the Gang to surrender and they replied with a volley of shots, immediately wounding Superintendent Hare in the wrist. The order was then given to return fire. This is how Ian Jones reported it :
“Hare barged through (it), shotgun held high, swerving sharply to his right as Ned fired. The bullet smashed through Hares wrist and fanned past his body. A following trooper heard him say “Good gracious I am hit the very first shot” The other three members of the Gang opened fire and the flashed lit the verandah revealing the four unearthly figures…
The Police unleashed a ragged volley of shots. A voice echoed strangely from a steel helmet “Fire away you bloody dogs you can’t hurt us’ Constable Gascoigne called ‘That is Ned Kellys voice’
There are no Kelly sympathisers in the country who could defend all these lies of Ned Kellys, unless they want to claim that he was in some way psychiatrically disturbed, but if they did make that claim what will they then say of the letter he dictated a few days earlier they all love to quote that starts “I do not pretend that I have lived a blameless life…”? Was that also the product of a deranged mind? None of them will ever want to quote the bullshit Ned wrote in this letter about sending Curnow down to stop the train so he could collect a reward, or only ever wanting to disarm the police, or only firing back at the police after they had fired three volleys at the gang.
This letter is actually not an aberration induced by the stress of his injuries or his occupation of a cell on death Row – this letter is entirely consistent with Neds behaviour and thoughts through all his adult life, when he was always looking to blame someone else for his misfortunes and always telling lies.
One of the promos for the upcoming bushranger series says of Ned Kelly ; “Legend or Liar?” The answer is pretty obvious I think.
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