Kellys words and Deeds don’t match the Myth

Last week I talked about how movie makers Matthew Holmes and Aidan Phelan have chosen to ignore what Ned Kelly actually said were his reasons for planning to kill police and take hostages at Glenrowan, and instead propose that his real motive was something ‘much bigger’. This got me thinking about the way in which Kelly apologists use the words of Ned Kelly and I’ve realised that what the movie makers have done is what all Kelly apologists do – they take from his recorded words whatever bits and pieces suit the argument they want to make about Ned Kelly – what Aidan Phelan called ‘bits of rhetoric’ – and ignore everything else. If Ned hasn’t said exactly what they wish he had said, or if he said something that completely contradicts their story, they just ignore it. But its not just his words that they use in this way – it’s his behaviour as well. The behaviour that doesnt fit their fairy story of Ned Kelly is also just ignored.


So this week I am going to illustrate the Kelly apologists cherry-picking of Kellys words and behaviour, a deliberate deception they employ to shore up the fantasy they believe and want to trick you into believing as well, that a notorious criminal murderer was a hero.

I will also show you examples of the words and behaviours of Ned Kelly that they would rather you never read, or heard about, words and actions that demonstrate with startling clarity what a deluded, dark and disturbed individual he was.


So let’s start with something you’ll read time and again in pro-Kelly writings and commentary everywhere you look: ‘Ned Kelly never mistreated hostages’. Let’s ignore the fact for a moment – as the Kelly apologists have always done – that depriving innocent people of their liberty and holding them at gunpoint is a gross violation, is most certainly mistreatment, and of itself disproves that stupid claim. Let’s instead look at what Ned Kelly said and did to a seventeen-year-old hostage at Glenrowan by the name of John Delaney. This is what Judith Douthie wrote in her book “I was at the Kelly Gang Round up”:

“Ned turned on him immediately threatening to shoot him for helping out a mounted trooper who had a lame horse and offering him a ride in his spring cart. Kelly was furious; he gave Delaney a revolver and ordered him to stand against a gate-post saying that he had never done a cowardly thing in his life and that Delaney could have the first shot. Delaney was white with fear and crying, he truly believed he was going to lose his life. Everyone was pleading for his, life, especially the women, everyone believed that Delaney was about to be shot by Ned. Mrs Stanistreet ran inside her house and begged Joe to stop Ned from shooting Delaney. Joe came out and asked Ned not to shoot the poor devil….Ned finally gave in took back his revolver and said Delaney was never to do anything for a policeman again”


This disgraceful act of bullying and intimidation of a young lad graphically disproves the lie put about that Kelly never mistreated hostages. It also reveals the driving obsessional hatred of police that by June 1880 had completely filled Ned Kellys mind. He flew into an insane rage on learning that this young man had offered to help a policeman whose horse was lame, and waving his gun around, so aggressively threatened and frightened John Delaney that he was reduced to a tearful quivering wreck. Remember I wrote that Kelly apologists pick and choose just the bits that fit their narrative? How surprised would you be to learn that Aidan Phelan and Matthew Holmes have decided this incident will not be shown in their movie ? Obviously, it shatters the myth of Kelly being a benign friendly hostage taker and it exposes his unhinged personality too radically!  I think any normal person observing this incident would have wondered what the hell was wrong with Ned Kelly?


But it wasn’t just at Glenrowan where Ned Kelly mistreated and abused hostages. Read how Kelly treated two older gentleman members of a hunting party that returned to Younghusbands station in the midst of the Kelly Gang hold up :


‘In a sudden flash of fury Ned grabs Dudley  by the collar puts his revolver to the old mans temple and says he will blow his brains out if he does not keep quiet.

“Its hard enough being an outlaw without taking cheek from a thing like you’ Ned adds morosely.

 Similar treatment is needed for another of the party by the name of Tennant, a proud Scot who refuses to co-operate with these ruffians no matter whom they might threaten.

Oh, really?

Roughly grabbing him Ned forces him to open his mouth and then jams the muzzle of his revolver between his teeth. How about co-operation now?’


These descriptions, taken from Peter Fitzsimons book, were not made up by him – they are based on statements given at  Ned Kellys trial, and from a newspaper report of 1878 and you can read it on page 247 of Kelvyn Gills ‘Definitive Record.’ Threatening an old man with a loaded gun to the side of his head, and forcing a loaded gun into someone else’s mouth are the terrifying acts of a seriously violent bully. Again, any normal person observing this incident would have wondered what the hell was wrong with Ned Kelly? The mans rage was almost completely out of control!


Later, Ned Kelly would be seen charming and smiling and flirting with Mrs Scott, exhibiting a completely different persona and illustrating the frightening way in which his moods and demeanour could change in an instant. His unpredictability and the rapidity with which heart-warming charm could be replaced with bullying and frightening violence mark Ned Kelly as an unpredictable unstable person  to be extremely wary of.


No amount of free food or beer, or trick horse riding dancing or hop-scotch would ever mitigate the terror and fear most of the hostages at these round-ups would have experienced, let alone the three mentioned above, singled out for special attention. But no account of the Glenrowan seige forgets to mention it, and no doubt much will be made of it in the proposed Glenrowan movie, making out that being forced at gun point to dance and play Ned Kellys games somehow showed that Kelly was a decent bloke.  What it shows is how Kelly enjoyed being in complete control, demonstrating to himself and his mates that he could make people do whatever he wanted them to.

The facts show that the idea that the Ned Kelly didn’t mistreat hostages is baloney! But Kelly apologists will ignore the facts, ignore the abuses Dudley Tennant and Delaney suffered and go on believing that being taken hostage by a gang of known murderers was a picnic! How blind!


But Kelly apologists don’t just ignore the actions of Ned Kelly that contradict their sickening sycophancy of Ned Kelly – they ignore the vast majority of his words as well, the reams of words, the entire pages of speech making, and his letters because almost everything he said was either an obvious self-serving lie, an expression of an obsessional hatred of police and authority or else delusional boasting about his self assesed stupendous abilities as a fighter, as a thief and all round talent.


As an example of how all the implications of Kellys words are ignored when they betray his delusional state of mind, I mentioned on Facebook the other day his claim that he would have been able to convince the Jury of his innocence:

Judge Barry: “No circumstances that I can conceive could have altered the result of your trial”

Kelly: “Perhaps if you heard ME examine the witnesses you might understand. I could do it”


“I could do it” says Ned Kelly, barely educated criminal, to Redmond Barry, brilliant legal mind, vastly experienced in the law. Yeah , right!


As we know, after more than a Century of scrutiny by many brilliant legal minds, the only criticisms they’ve been able to made of Barrys Judgement and of the trial have been minor technical issues, and all have agreed if those imperfections were taken out, the outcome may well have been the same : Conviction!


So could Ned Kelly have ‘done it’? No bloody way! The man was delusional!  


And how about this for delusional : in the Cameron letter he wrote “I was outlawed without any cause” . Who believes that? He was outlawed because he and his gang killed three police!

Outlawed without any cause? You would think he had to be joking! But no he wasn’t – he believed it – and that proves the man was seriously delusional. Kelly was a fruit loop.

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4 Replies to “Kellys words and Deeds don’t match the Myth”

  1. It looks like people who love Ned Kelly and people who hate Ned Kelly will never agree on much.

  2. John, that’s because David and most of us here are more open-minded to what the evidence actually shows. The pro-Kelly people seem set in their ways, even when the evidence clearly shows they are wrong – or there is no evidence for what they claim.

    What do you suggest might be a way around this impasse (a situation in which no progress is possible, especially because of disagreement; a deadlock)?

    At the end of the day, everyone is entitled to their opinions. David, Stuart and others are offering views based on historical evidence. So far, no alternative evidence has been presented (for example, on the Kelly Republic, Fitzpatrick shooting, Metcalf shooting, etc., etc.).

    But all they seem able to do is rudely denounce us.

    Horrie and Alf

    1. Thank you, but I don’t have any ideas about how to change people’s minds. I don’t think most people want to change their opinions, just fly their flags. I’m not taking any sides here. It’s just interesting to see what different people say now and then.

  3. Thanks John!

    Innumerable times, David has encouraged debate on the issues raised here. There was some ‘debate” on the Republic and on the character of Constable Fitzpatrick and his alleged alcoholism. On the republic one twit offered up his old file which contained disproven myths, The Argument on Fitzpatrick’s death from cirrhosis of the liver was easily disproved – because that is not what his death certificate said.

    Are you beginning to understand yet?

    Horrie and Alf

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