The Definitive Kelly Book still hasn’t been written

The suggestion that the definitive Kelly book still hasn’t been written may seem ridiculous to those who are aware of the vast collection of Kelly writing that already exists, or to those who think that Ian Jones wrote the definitive Kelly book nearly 25 years ago. By now, 140 years after it all ended one might be forgiven for thinking that every possible aspect of the Outbreak had been analysed to death, that the minutiae of every newspaper article, editorial, police document and court record had been processed, that every nugget of detail that could be mined from the Minutes of the Royal Commission had been extracted, and the arguments and controversies about the Outbreak were just going over the same old ground and nothing new will ever come of them. Is the Kelly story book now more like a kids colouring-in book, where all the images and outlines are clearly drawn, and all that remains to be done is for the colours to filled in, like what’s happening with Joe Byrnes image on the Outlaws Journal?


Well, no!


The problem has been that until recently access to all those records was extremely limited, and readers were obliged to accept whatever authors claimed the sources said. Almost none of us could fact-check Kenneallys use of the Royal Commission reports in the 1920’s, the claims made by Clune and Max Brown in the 1950’s, by Molony and McQuilton and Jones in the 70’s and 80’s and later – but now thats all changed. Not only can all of us more readily access all the books these authors have written, and more readily discuss their contents with like-minded and not so like-minded enthusiasts the world over, we can also download the actual original documents and read the official reports and the minutes and the newspaper articles for ourselves and discover often enough, that the story we have been told is sometimes not the whole story, sometimes a misrepresentation or even a completely false story.

Here’s a perfect and very clear example : I looked at the Death Certificate of Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick. I was hundreds of miles away from Victoria at the time, and would probably have never seen it, or even known where to begin to look for it in Melbourne if I had taken a few days off and spent several hundred dollars to go there to look for it. And yet, in a few minutes on the Internet I found it and downloaded a copy of it. In so doing, I instantly exploded a 140-year-old myth about Fitzpatrick thats still in print in many places, not the least of which is the Ned Kelly Encyclopaedia which says he died of cirrhosis of the liver. That claim continues to be used by a legion of police-hating Kelly sympathisers to bolster their claim that Fitzpatrick was an alcoholic. In fact, the death certificate clearly and unequivocally shows that Fitzpatrick died of an abdominal malignancy that had nothing to do with alcoholism. Cirrhosis is mentioned nowhere, and there  is no evidence anywhere that supports the idea that Fitzpatrick was an alcoholic, but it’s in all the books that relied on that false claim about him, a claim that won’t be found in the definitive Kelly book waiting to be written.

The Kelly book waiting to be written will start at the beginning and tell the whole story of Red Kellys background in Ireland, not just make a brief mention of him stealing two pigs to make it sound like it was a petty crime. Those pigs were stolen from an equally poverty stricken neighbour, not from some rich Landlord, and Red Kellys role as a police informer and the death of a man he betrayed won’t be concealed either. Ellen Kellys origins will also be fully examined : she also belonged to a poor Irish family, and when she arrived in Victoria with her parents they were penniless. The Whittys were another family of Irish Catholics who arrived in Victoria penniless and destitute around the same time, but the Whittys, whose success Ned Kelly became intensely jealous of, and Ellens father’s stories are fine examples of what poor Irishmen can achieve by working hard. Those stories will be told to put the Kelly family failures into perspective.


The definitive Kelly story wont perpetuate the Kelly family’s complaint that their difficulties were someone else’s fault, but show how even Red Kelly, after serving his time, began his married life with considerable success. He made enough money on the goldfields to buy a very satisfactory little farm, but not much more than ten years later Ellen was penniless and a widow! The definitive Kelly story will show that her predicament wasn’t the result of squatter oppression or police persecution but Reds decline into alcoholism, the final blow after his death being the drunken arson attack in 1868 by Reds brother, Neds Uncle James Kelly that burned their house to the ground, destroyed all their possessions and left Ellen and all her children utterly destitute. And vey lucky to be alive!


The definitive Kelly story will also describe how Red Kelly valiantly fought against the demons of shame and guilt for what he had done in Ireland, demons that eventually brought him down through the medium of drink. Commendably, Ned Kellys father got him to school and shielded him from the worst of the documented background of Kelly, Quinn and Lloyd family immorality, criminality, disrespect for the law, horrendous sexual and domestic violence, animal cruelty and alcoholism that surrounded Ned Kelly as he grew up. Sadly, once Red Kelly died, Neds schooldays ended and his mother Ellen actively encouraged him to participate in a life of crime, sending him off at the age of 14 to be an apprentice to a wanted criminal, learning the power of a loaded gun and disrespect for the rights and freedoms of ordinary law abiding citizens. Later, Ellens volatile temper and her ignorance of the law resulted in an assault on Constable Fitzpatrick, and the triggering of the entire Outbreak. Fitzpatrick, as already mentioned has been the subject of a vast host of falsehoods, insane conspiracy theories and extreme hostility the basis for which evaporates under close examination of the facts, and the support of the scores of petitioners from Lancefied who protested loudly at his dismissal from the force. If there was ever a person denied justice in the Kelly story, it was Fitzpatrick who was made a scapegoat not only for the Kelly crimes but also for police failings. All this will be told in the definitive Kelly story waiting to be written.


The two central myths of the Kelly story, that Ned Kellys behaviour was a reaction to persecution and oppression by police and the courts, and that Ned Kelly planned to establish a republic of north east Victoria will have to get a mention in the definitive story, but only to point out their status as myth rather than historical truth.  Ned Kelly invented the persecution myth in an attempt to shift the responsibility for his behaviour from himself to the police, and Ian Jones invented the Republic myth, and the myth of a republican army to avoid having to accept his own conclusion that without inventing such an explanation for it, Ned Kellys plan for Glenrowan was nothing but a ‘criminal monstrosity’. Other myths that will need to be dissected free and dismissed from the definitive history will be the claim that Ned Kelly was Australia’s ‘Robin Hood’, that Ned Kelly was devoted to his mother, that he would have made a great General, that he was a crack shot with a rifle…the list is long!


The definitive Kelly story will also expose Ned Kelly as a notorious liar, one of his biggest lies being his claim to have killed Lonigan in self-defence. The forensic evidence shows that Kellys claim that Lonigan arose from behind a battery of logs and was about to fire at him was a lie. Kelly also lied about where he was at the time of the ‘Fitzpatrick Incident’ and he committed innumerable outlandish lies to paper in letters he wrote from prison in November 1880, letters we can now all read and wonder at. Ned Kelly was also a self-confessed stock thief, his chosen criminal career that involved many deceits, lies and forgery, and a boast in the Jerilderie letter that he was never caught!


The many myths about Kellys trial, such as that it was rushed, that is was a gross miscarriage of justice and that if conducted ‘according to Law’ the outcome would have been any different will all be catalogued, as will the minutes and the reports of the Royal Commission into the outbreak. The Commissions exposure of Police corruption, blundering, missteps, violence and stupidity, highlighted by Kelly promotors to the exclusion of every other finding made  by the Commission won’t be ignored, but neither will its principle conclusions, the foremost  of which was that the Kelly Outbreak arose out of the ‘unchecked aggregation of alarge class of criminals in the north east’


Lastly, after Ned Kelly was hanged, life returned to normal in the north east, but Ned Kellys brother Jims criminal career didnt come to an end for a few years. He went to goal for horse stealing in 1881 and was acquitted of a similar charge in 1912. Mrs Kelly is supposed to have brokered the peace, but given the kind of volatile woman she had been all her life, I am inclined to think that tale is another bit of Kelly mythology aimed at rehabilitating the Kelly family. Much more likely it was the absence of the dominating psychopath, her son Ned Kelly, that resulted in life returning to normal.


The story of the influence that the outbreak and Ned Kelly had on Australian culture and identity is something else, something for some other book, maybe many more books to discuss into the future.  But at least with the definitive story finally brought together, everyone will know what the true story actually was.

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74 Replies to “The Definitive Kelly Book still hasn’t been written”

  1. The idea that Mrs Kelly is supposed to have “brokered the peace” in the period after Ned’s execution is another fabrication invented by Ian Jones. I covered this in detail in my free book about the republic myth, which can be downloaded via the link up the top right here on David’s blog page. Jones said, “there can be no doubt that on the personal representation of [Constable] Graham, Mrs Kelly and Jim moved among the sympathisers to dissuade them” from a second outbreak (” new view of Ned Kelly”, in “Man and Myth” 1968, p. 180). While Graham’s involvement and persuasion seems fairly certain, the idea that there were any large number of sympathisers around to be dissuaded is cobblers. There were the makings of another criminal gang that might take to the bush, i.e. turn bushranger bandits, but not any army of potential rebellion that Jones fantasised about. The cure resulted at least as much from Superintendent Sadleir’s determined policing in combination with his pushing his superiors to ensure that identified sympathisers (mostly relatives) would not be dispossessed of their selections. Inspector Montfort pursued a similar approach, holding that the Land Act blacklist was only to be used as a lever, not a weapon of force. Graham interceded on behalf of Tom Lloyd In arguing the he should be allowed to purchase his selection, not be pushed off. The blacklist still existed – see my book, pp. 47-49 for all this. The idea that Mrs Kelly ran around dissuading rebellion is ludicrous. Jones gave no credit to Sadleir and Montfort’s role in settling the disaffected outliers down despite the mountain of evidence he was thoroughly familiar with. He simply couldn’t see it because he was already convinced Mrs Kelly pulled the strings. If she hadn’t exercised what little influence she had, she would have lost Jim and a number of relatives and their associates to the bluestone college. Jim seems to have been te main one that needed settling in that regard. As one of the police said to them, a policeman here or there might die but the law goes on forever. (Someone can put the source of that up if they like, I’m doing it from memory.)

    I have attached a photo of my Last Outlaw mini-series cover slip. Created by Ian Jones and his wife Bronwyn Binns, you can see the blurb says “the script combines art with fanatical accuracy”. In fact, there are historical errors every few minutes, some of the massive, such as nearly everything it says about Fitzpatrick and absolutely everything it says about the republic myth, and Jones’ ridiculous belief in a sympathiser “army” that never existed. It is still a terrific 4-part movie to watch, especially the opening section with Gerard Kennedy as Harry Power – it will be interesting to see how Russell Crowe brings Power to life in the upcoming film of Carey’s Kelly fiction book – but it keeps one busy playing “spot the historical crap” all the way through. Great fun yes, fanatical accuracy ho, ho, ho.


    1. Bob McGarrigle says: Reply

      Stuart I believe you are leaving someone out from the peace talks that took place after the outbreak matter closed. .I believed it was my grt grt grandfather Thomas Lloyd and the Kelly’ siblings uncle that helped broker the peace efforts that Robert Graham helped implement .Please refer Ian Jones a short life page 292.I believe it was probably Toms original suggestion that helped get the ball moving.
      Tom and Jane eventually left the area (Lurg) after the murder of their daughter Ellen Grace Lloyd to the south of Benalla,where they are now buried.

      1. Hi Bob, anything is possible, although Ian Jones laid great store in Tom Patrick Lloyd’s leg-pulling tales of secret republic meetings, as did the learned Professor Molony, which TPL told Doug Morrissey, as well as Leo Kennedy’s dad with Leo present, that he had made up to make fools of the Kelly researchers. The references to what he told Doug Morrissey are in my Republic Myth book, p. 27-28, and are from Morrissey’s “Ned Kelly- A Lawless Life” book. Leo Kennedy’s book didn’t come out until after mine, so unfortunately I couldn’t quote him. But there we have the same ex-policeman TPL telling two people at different times that he deliberately set out to send the Kelly researchers up the garden path, and got them hook, line and sinker, LOL. Anything Ian Jones says based on oral history has to be taken with a large grain of salt. As I showed elsewhere in my book, in relation to some of his oral history claims in his “The Last Outlaw” book (1980, ed. Les Carlyon), in some parts he has relayed complete rubbish. Who knows for some of his claims what of his tales are true and what are false. I go with historical records against oral history every time. Many times, as I discovered, it’s a matter of looking wider in the records and sources that others have bothered to do. and that’s the fun of it, seeing what blunders others have made that could so easily have been avoided if they had bothered to look. That’s why I responded to this page on Dee’s blog here – the definitive Kelly book is a very long way from being written as there is so much garbage out there based on half baked research.

  2. Thanks Stuart. I had forgotten that you had challenged the idea that Mrs Kelly was the great peacemaker after Ned was hanged. As Alice Richardson said on my FB page the other day much about her was to be pitied. She did have a tough and tragic life but sadly much of it was her own doing.

    regarding the Last Outlaw I reviewed it on this Blog way back in 2015. My Posts can be found by using the Search function at the top of the page. Kelly supporters still rave about it, but by any objective measure, as Kelly history its rubbish. As soap opera its probably tolerable.

    Comparisons with the upcoming True Story the Kelly Gang won’t have any real meaning though, because TLO was presented as the actual true story whereas True Story the movie is deliberately and openly fictional. Historical accuracy is not critical.

  3. Hi David, I jut had a look at your 2015 posts – thanks for the search tip – and laughed at your mention that the mini-series was “produced to celebrate the centenary of Ned Kelly’s death” – I think that may have been an unintentional play on words… Anyway, you are much harder than me on the watchability of the movie, which I continue to like. But I do agree that “in addition to the sins of commission, there are even greater sins of omission in this episode, things the average viewer would not realize were missing, and as a result, anyone other than a Kellyphile would unknowingly derive a highly skewed and inaccurate understanding of Ned Kelly’s life story.” That is the heart of the matter. Ian Jones omits or massively distorts all historical evidence that shows Ned in a bad light. Anyone with any doubts about that can follow how he went miles out of his way to blame the police for Metcalf’s death at Glenrowan. That was the reason I wrote my article, “Ned Kelly’s shooting of George Metcalf, labourer”, which can be got free from Monash university on the internet. It wasn’t just to correct history – Jones had all the facts in front of him. It was to show in minute detail how he deliberately and knowingly twisted and perverted the historical evidence to try and vindicate Ned Kelly. He fooled a lot of people, but Ian MacFarlane spotted the hoax in his “Kelly Gang Unmasked” book. A bunch of Kelly enthusiasts with zero research ability then abused MacFarlane as wrong, so I set out to see what the correct story was. Jones’ omissions, distortions and perversions were even worse than I suspected, and the article was written to show what a load of crock had passed as historical research for a couple of decades.

    In your second part of your review of the Last Outlaw, you note that
    “nowhere on the internet can I find a single critical word about this series – it seems to have been universally acclaimed and yet where were the Kelly buffs and the actual historians who could have challenged this skewed version of history, added some notes of caution, pointed out how the unpalatable parts of the Kelly story were left untold, how “facts” were invented, or ignored or misrepresented? … The Last Outlaw is really best regarded as Ian Jones fantasy of how he wished Ned Kellys life would have been.” That pretty well sums it up. the movie’s claim to be based “entirely on fact” is complete and utter garbage. It is based on highly selective facts, distorted facts, and in many places, no facts at all but pure flights of fancy in accurate period costume.

    Two things for a laugh. First, the Irish accents of Ned and the Kelly children. This has been rebutted many times; like other young colonials, he had the “born here” Australian accent that became established from around 1840. His parents no; their kids, yes. Second, how many historical errors of fact can people see in the blurb on the right hand side of the inner DVD liner in the picture below? I’ll be back Tuesday night to see if anyone has responded. Nothing like a late start to a long weekend…


  4. The best thing is that since the Macfarlane and Morrissey books there has been no literary response to either. In the past Ian Jones, and others, could be counted on to berate anti-Kelly books., His horrific condemnation of Alex Castle’s ‘Ned Kelly’s Last Days’ after Alex had passed on and was no longer able to defend himself was nasty stuff. Ian Jones’s convoluted explanation for his misidentifying the ‘Gentleman Ned’ photo in the Christie’s catalogue was utterly creepy – and the fact he dragged in author Keith McMenony to share the blame – was poor form.

    Ian Jones himself has unfortunately passed away. So we will not say what we really think.

    Horrie and Alf

    1. Hi Horrie and Alf, two of the academic historians who wrote testimonials for the back cover blurb of my Republic myth book said to me that they had always doubted as a fiction the republic story Jones wrote; and that I had done a very thorough and convincing demolition job on it. When I started that research, the then rare books librarian at Monash said that I should have little trouble demolishing Kelly myths as they were mostly written by amateur historians, which proved correct. It is important to remember that John McQuilton’s academic book was actually his PhD thesis from back in the mid-1970s, published as a book with minor revisions in 1979. The content is over 40 years old. That was the only academic treatment of Kelly history until Keith McMenomy’s Illustrated History in 1984. Both were written under Jones’ influence. Molony’s “I am Ned Kelly” of 1980 was not a Kelly history and did not purport to be; it was a highly selective presentation of Kelly’s version of the Kelly story as Molony believed Ned would tell it. In other words, Molony took everything Ned said to be true, and dug for evidence that would support that to the disregard of everything else. It could be described as largely an idealised fairy story rather than anything academic, and Molony said himself that he wrote it to try and vindicate Kelly, who Molony saw as a rebel based on the same cock and bull oral history that Jones relied on.

      The funniest thing I found when reviewing these two writers (whom I would shudder to call balanced historians) was that they had located Kelly’s alleged meeting with a mythical “sympathiser army” at Glenrowan in opposite directions from the town – see the analysis in my Republic myth book – having been fed nonsense oral history stories from the same man; stories which they eagerly lapped up as he pulled their gullible legs. The ex-policeman and sympathiser descendant source told both Doug Morrissey and Leo Kennedy’s dad, with Leo present, that he had fed the Kelly researchers utter rubbish, to embarrass them. No wonder the mythmakers have gone quiet since MacFarlane’s, Morrissey’s and Kennedy’s books.

      But that is only one of the many stupid stories the amateur imaginative “researchers” dreamed up. The Fitzpatrick myth, the boxing champion myth, the Metcalf myth, the Ned’s last words myth, the body straps for the Stringybark Creek expedition myth… that barely scratches the surface of the crap that has been presented as Australian Kelly history since the late 1960s. At this rate the Carey movie will have less historical errors than the so-called historical experts! And what got me going here was mention of the venomous spleen Jones dumped all over legal historian Alex Castles, not just on the front page of the Age, but in his videotaped talk at the first Beechworth Kelly weekend, and no doubt other places. A pathetic effort from a self-styled expert who claimed a lifetime spent in so-called Kelly research as a basis for believing his version of the story where Ned’s antisocial actions are minimised, , distorted, excused, etc..

      Essentially Jones (and Molony) took Ned Kelly’s side of things in all possible places except where it was demonstrably impossible, and in those places they went out of their way to justify his every adverse action. They were highly selective, totally biased, and built an artificial, manufactured hero out of a semi-literate halfwit larrikin yob who had few sympathisers in his day outside of his relatives and criminal associates mostly in horse and cattle theft. The few thousand people who signed the petition to save Ned from hanging, a small number of the mostly forged and cobbled up 32,000 odd signatures on the petition, with whole pages written by the same hands, were primarily people opposed to capital punishment rather than Kelly sympathisers – but that is a study in itself. Kelly history is certainly interesting, but not in the way it has been heavily mis-presented since and including J.J. Kenneally.

  5. I much liked and respected the lady archivist who did Molony’s research. I cannot describe her opinion because I cannot reach her to get permission to publish it here. However, Stuart, you can contact me privately, and I can tell you what she said.

    Ian MacFarlane

    1. Hi Ian, will do, although the fact that the Canberra-based Professor had a Melbourne researcher says a lot in itself. The way that usually works is the academic gives instructions as to what is searched and what is being searched for. It means the Professor or other lofty being is not personally looking thorough the archives – none of which were online in those days at the end of the 1970s – and so gets a very skewed and selective view of a subject, heavily swayed by what they set out to find. . We can see that most obviously by putting an “ist” in front of their perspective – Marxist, feminist, socialist, liberalist, etc., which filters their research efforts and limits their potential findings. It happens everywhere; as the Marxists point out, it happens with conservative perspectives too. there are a few of us non-aligned researchers who just look for everything we can find about a topic and throw it all up in the air and see what falls out. We look at stuff put forward by a whole bunch of perspectives, and let the historical sources guide us. Unfortunately we are in a minority; most people have agendas.

      1. By not doing his own archival research, the Prof deprived himself of a broader view of Ned’s malefactions. Many government agencies became involved, not least being Treasury which funded The Hunt.

        As I pointed out in my book there is a later series of police records that has never been archivally described. If earlier police records were accessed and actioned back than, it is likely they now might be among the later records. Noted genealogist Helen Harris OAM has begun the task of describing those later police records – a mammoth, perhaps impossible task for her alone.

        Hundreds of boxes are involved…

        It is likely therefore that further, undiscovered Kelly records exist (as well as the missing records mentioned in my book) – but will they be found in our lifetimes?

        Ian MacFarlane

        1. Hi Ian, that is great news that there are more archival police records potentially available that bear on the Kelly story. I imagine the first step would be to find and identify them, and the second and probably costly step would be to index and digitise them. I remember the Police Museum said in an email back when I was doing the Fitzpatrick research that they only had a manager and a couple of part time employees, and their search priority was requests for information and documents from police and descendants, not external researchers, who had to wait in line. It took quite a while for me to get a scan of Fitzpatrick’s police Record of Service and Conduct, but it was worth the wait, as it proved that Ian Jones, who had seen and quoted the record, made a total mess of his Fitzpatrick story by never mentioning that Fitzpatrick was rated as “an efficient constable” several months after the Fitzpatrick incident. He was never a drunken lout, and there was no criticism of his performance until the time he was sent to Sydney in 1879. Jones entirely fabricated the nonsense story about Fitzpatrick’s drinking on the way to the Kelly house to arrest Dan Kelly in April 1878, that became the opening section of his Fitzpatrick chapter in his Short Life book. He took that story entirely from what the Kellys said, and disregarded a stack of compelling evidence against it that I presented in my Redeeming Fitzpatrick article. He then tried to “balance” his imaginative Kelly-derived fabrications against documentary evidence to the contrary, and ended in holding that we “will never know what happened that day in April”. This is total amateurish rubbish. We know very well most of what happened as most of it can be independently corroborated as I showed. Fitzpatrick’ testimony stacks up, but Jones never bothered to pursue that possibility because of his blind prejudice. The result was nonsense presented as balanced history, the second worst fabrication in his book, and one the became massively influential on practically every Kelly writer for the past 60 years. The number one fabrication was of course the lens of republicanism that he thought to see in Kelly, which tinted everything he wrote about NK from the late 1960s onwards. That is the biggest outright nonsense of his legacy, which he spread everywhere in writing, video, letters to institutions, and into other researcher’s work such as Cofield’s Kelly Encyclopaedia, which is more a labour of pro-Kelly love than anything else.

          Corfield repeats the factually incorrect rubbish that Fitzpatrick was dismissed from the force as a liar and larrikin, based on one negative police comment in a letter written in rejection of a petition by over 100 residents of Lancefield and surrounding district, to have Fitzpatrick reinstated in the force after his dismissal for insubordination to his superior, Constable Mayes at Lancefield. Again, wholly incorrect material presented as fact and recycled endlessly by people who don’t know any better, sometimes by citing Corfield as a reference.. The general state of Kelly research has been pathetically amateurish throughout my entire lifetime. It only started to lift when Ian MacFarlane brought objectivity to the process in his 2012 Kelly Gang Unmasked book, which is full of gems from the archives that Jones and others never bothered to acknowledge, or change their minds about, as a result. Or if they did, they kept remarkably silent, because it blew many longstanding Kelly myths out of the water. Possibly the first major challenges to the narrative were the meticulously researched 1980s articles on Kelly and horse and cattle stealing, and on the Greta larrikin mob, by Doug Morrissey, which were similarly ignored by most Kelly writers since, who were largely too stupid and shallow to track down and read them. Much of what has been written as Kelly history has long belonged and continues to belong in the fiction shelves.

  6. Stuart, we are big supporters of your views and thank you for your overview reply.

    We haven’t a copy of Leo Kennedy’s book yet but are trying to get it.

    Keep up your excellent commentary.

    Horrie and Alf

    1. Hi Horrie and Alf, it is now available in hardback for $12.99 plus $5 postage from QBD books. The only drawback is they keep emailing you book offers, and are difficult to unsubscribe from; I call them “spam university”. It is also available in paperback at Big W for $25, and about $20 from Booktopia, not sure what postage costs but not much I think. Try Googling for other options! The paperback version out very recently has some minor corrections from the first hardback print run. The silly publishers did not change the title of the Fitzpatrick chapter despite its idiocy or make half a dozen other corrections to it that they were advised of in time, sticking to the dominant narrative. Changing narratives is a slow business…

  7. The website about “The Kelly Gang Unmasked” book has published this bunkum with no citations or refs. Fitzy writes:


    CONSTABLE FLOOD – ‘I did a good number on them.’
    …certain police officers saw to it that the Kelly’s were blamed for all horses stolen in the district. One such officer, Constable Flood a suspected horse thief himself had more reason than most to accuse the Kelly’s of horse stealing. It is believed Flood either stole or planted horses and then blamed the Kelly’s or their relatives for the offence. As the police force is a brotherhood and secretive to the tactics used, Flood was never charged but at the insistence of Chief Commissioner Standish he was removed from the district.

    CONSTABLE ARTHUR – ‘It was the fault of the police treatment of the Kelly’s that made them what they were. As to whether they were guilty or not the police were continually lagging them and accusing them of offences.’
    Constable Arthur also claimed that other police officers had treated female members of the Kelly family very badly.

    Where is your evidence for this tripe?


    1. Bob McGarrigle says: Reply

      Falesly accused, spot on Roy. Falsely accused by you as it was not Fitzy or his site that made the comment .Try Jacks wonderful site “An Introduction to Ned Kelly” ,where it was actually correctly recorded.As far as the proof goes buy Kelvyn Gills Definitive Record and you will find it all there.
      .Horrie and Alf you can get Leo Kennedys book anywhere in Sydney or Melbourne but you wont find Ian MacFarlanes book anywhere because it simply doesn’t sell.Leo tells me that there is going to be a second edition of his book with new stuff in it.Leo is a very approachable man and is very helpful in anything anyone asks him.He is also a man of his word and good to converse with despite what some think.
      Regards Bob McGarrigle still a real person.

      1. Yes Bob, Ian MacFarlanes brilliant book, The Kelly Gang Unmasked is hard to find. Thats because it was so good and so popular that it has sold out. Fortunately copies are still available on such places as EBAY, where I see you can still get a brand new coy from the USA for about double the original price.

        On the other hand the pre-schoolers book full of trashy rubbish and lies packaged as The Iron Outlaw by Brad Webb is in the remainder bins at rock bottom prices – this junk can’t even be given away!

        But Bob great to see you’re still reading my Blog and facebook pages. Don’t you realise that by posting here youre giving me the oxygen that keeps me going? Fat Greg is going to be SO annoyed with you…..

      2. Bob, If Jack Peterson’s rubbish was republished on the retired truck driver’s hate site, it is still rubbish. Where are the refs and citations?


        1. Bob McGarrigle says: Reply

          Roy cant you read mate.The Article discussed is on Jack Petersons site NOT Mick Fitzsimons site.Mick had nothing to do with the article.Good to see you are still around from the forum jar days Roy but you havn’t improved your knowledge one bit.Why dont you criticise Doug Morrissey for his lack of references Roy and be a bit more even handed but then again you support the admin of this site don’t you Roy?I am not going to do your dirty work for you Roy go and buy Kelvyns book and you might just find it.Heres a little hint for you Arthur wasn’t the only policeman that actually blamed his own men for the outbreak.Now theres one for you to look up Roy or are you too lazy and rely on other people?.

    2. Hi Roy, the quote from Constable Arthur about the police making the Kellys what they were and continually lagging them is fairly well known. It is quoted in McQuilton’s Kelly Outbreak p. 145; the reference note is “Report on Constable Arthur to ACC, 28 March, 4 July 1882, Police Correspondence, VPRO.” The other comment attributed to Arthur rings a bell. I don’t know about the stuff attributed to Flood, but this is a good example of why Kelly research struggles to get anywhere, as people often refer to stuff without giving any references. That’s why I don’t bother looking at any commentary that doesn’t follow academic citation conventions; it’s a waste of time. There is more than enough stuff that does follow conventions to keep any accurate researcher busy for decades.

      And Kelly sources are often misquoted or partially quoted by people pushing agendas. Ian Jones part-quoted and thereby misrepresented many source documents; see the section in my Republic myth book on his theory of a sympathiser army at Glenrowan where his claim of 30 sympathisers is misquoted from an English newspaper in a classic piece of bungling; the piece actually refers to the prisoners who were released from the Inn at 10am and were lying on the ground outside while the police checked that the Kelly gang were not amongst them. Jones totally screwed that one up. He cobbled together two part sentences from two different pages! His “evidence” is pure fabrication, and he must surely have known that when he wrote it, as the paper he quotes from never said what he claimed it said. Either that, or he is one of the biggest bunglers ever to take up a history pen. Read my modestly titled “NK and the MYTH of a republik of NE Vic” to see that stuff up given its long overdue scrutiny. It is obvious that 99.9 percent of people claiming to do Kelly research never go back to check Jones’ source references, as this is not the only case of this type of thing in his magnum plonkus. Maybe he shouldn’t have called Alex Castles’ book “outrageous rubbish”, “unbalanced to the point of psychosis”, and “poisonously inaccurate” on the front page of the Age back in 2005, lol. Pot kettle, eh?

  8. Bob McGarrigle says: Reply

    No David Greg (who is not fat by the way) knows exactly where the real Kellyana is being discussed and it isn’t on here or NKS either and it must really annoy you because you’ or none of your cronies know where or what is being discussed.
    In regards to your namesakes book it is simply not being sold anywhere because of its content and its absolute failure to resonate the masses like other Kelly books do.In simple terms it is an absolute flop. Sorry Ian but that’s the absolute truth.

    1. Its public discussions about Ned Kelly that worry me Bob, not uninformed idiots like you and the non-fat Greg having a group hug in your secret mutual masturb…oops I mean mutual admiration club. Say whatever the hell you like in there – it has no effect on anything other than your own delusional state of mind. (ROFLMAO)

    2. Gibberish by a non-entity. What would you know, you clown?

      The book sold out long ago.

      Even if never reprinted, it completely sank the Kelly legend forever.

      You guys are just wasting your time and ours!


    3. Bob, you could always ring up Oxford Uni Press in South Melbourne and try to order a copy of Ian MacFarlane’s masterful book. Don’t hold your breath. It’s been out of print for several years.

      Good luck!

      Horrie and Alf

      1. Bob McGarrigle says: Reply

        Horrie and Alf have you been hiding under a rock?I was probably one of the first to purchase your masterpiece that two or three people on this site actually like.I happen not too because it is full of excuses that he couldn’t find material that other researchers could locate.Then he blames others for misappropriating them or worse still stealing them.There is not one other researcher of the Kelly history that would create such a lame excuse as that.You probably wont be able to read this post as David has a habit of deleting ones that don’t agree with him.

        1. Bob, you have already been asked this – but name just ONE document Macfarlane said was missing that other people could find. Just name one!

          Just one.


          Horrie and Alf

  9. Bob you fronted here saying Ian MacFarlane’s book could not be found and was unavailable due to lack of interest – when in fact it had sold out years ago. You are a bit of a Goon my friend, aren’t you!


    1. Bob McGarrigle says: Reply

      No Rebecca. I stand by my comment.The copy I purchased from Dymocks Paramatta years ago and had to wait days to get itThe book store actually had never heard of it.,The simple fact is Leos book is popular but Ians is NOT.I would say Leos book would have sold ten times or more than Ians book.Leos book is well worth the read but Ians is not.Sorry if that upsets people on here but too bad.It is an honeset appraisal.

      1. You went to a Dymock chain bookstore and asked for an Oxford University Press book. A bookstore that doesn’t sell any academic book titles. And you were surprised when they hadn’t heard of it. Why didn’t you go to Sydney University bookshop, Einstein? At least Paramatta was nice and ordered it in for you.

  10. Bob, you are a crashing bore. You are here to try to cause a stir. I was going to reply but, after a moment’s thought, said why bother?

    David, Bob is someone you should permanently ban. He has contributed nothing worthwhile here-ever-and is terribly disorganised in his facts and thinking. Proved wrong here about his absurd postulations about “‘The Kelly Gang Unmasked’ book. He never presents any evidence for his wacky claims.

    Show him the door…


    1. I always publish Kelly supporters comments because anyone reading them will learn something important about the quality of person who is a Kelly apologist! Actually, they realise it themselves, and so try hard to resist the urge to comment on anything I post here and on Facebook, because even they have learned that when they do post an attack on me they usually end up exposing their ignorance of the facts, or the nastiness of thier personalities.

      Bob will be cursing himself for giving in to temptation and making a fool off himself once again, so he will go silent or a while now.

    2. Bob McGarrigle says: Reply

      Maybe Rebecca if you were myself or a member of our family you might think of Ian MacFarlane a little differently like we do.Members of the Lloyd family (yes my family) were all labelled incorrectly in this book.He has on many occasions incorrectly got members of our family wrong and not identified correctly.He didn’t know one family member from another.Our members with the same name is confusing I admit but when you write a book like Ian has you should try and get it right..His researching of my branch of the family is and was really not good at all.I have many ancestors that are still in the land of the living and deserve better treatment than what we received from him.Not once on any site have I seen Ian correct or apologise for his errors.
      Initially I was on the side of the administrator of this site and a couple of others as well.After what has been going on in the past few years you probably would find that hard to believe Rebecca but is true.,Yes I was against Fitzy but then the forum jars which Roy participated in (I didn’t) started and then things changed and the members on those jars were disgusting and fortunately were closed down.The then admin did nothing to rectify what went onto those sites Thus .end of my relationship with this person.
      I have no regrets in changing sides you side with David Rebecca and I side with Fitzy and we have the rite to do that.I have never praised my cousins Ned and Dan for their behaviour never, especially with what happened at SBC was nasty.. As my cousin Noeleen has pointed out on many occasions some of our Lloyd members were a nasty lot and we admit that as well.In this conflict a lot of people on both sides get on very well as stated before I communicate with Leo Kennedy and have been very amiacable with him.Some of my members and friends don’t like what I have said about Leos book but that doesn’t worry me at all.It is only a personal opinion just an opinion.
      I have been banned many times Rebecca.I only come to this site to correct errors that are made just as I did this time.Jacks site is NOT Fitzys site as explained previously.,,,,,,Bob

      1. SO Bob you claim Ian MacFarlane confused one Lloyd with another Lloyd of the same name – Ive done the same thing. So can you please quote the pages and the places where that happened? And can you also please provide the details of any other errors? But it has to be said that if all you can find wrong with Ian MacFarlanes book is confusing one Tom Lloyd with another Tom Lloyd then your condemnation of the entire book is completely ridiculous. Your mate Fitzy hasn’t identified any yet – all he has done is abuse authors and make dumb assertions that he hasnt ever backed up.

        One other thing – if youre claiming the Forum Jar episode was something to do with me youre wrong, and you dont know your history. They were well underway long before I ever had anything to do with the Kelly story.

        1. Bob McGarrigle says: Reply

          David You might think I am rather dumb but am not as dumb as you might think. I gave only some of the errors that are in Ian’s book as they were all directly to do with the Lloyd family including some from my branch thus I reported on them. .
          Members of this blog we have been through all this before and first reported these errors on the Eleven Mile Creek blog several years ago. These errors were all ratified by Brian Stevenson and David’s good friend Sharon Hollingswoth can attest to what I have just said.Brian did a summary of the book in 3 parts and believe they would probably still be there. Like when I told you about the errors in Kelvin Gills first book I told you to work it out yourself David if you could. The same applies to you now so please do your own researching just as I did. All the pages were .shown on the Eleven Mile blog if it is still there. Go and find it yourself as you say you know the book back the front. I have already proved my case more than once and it is up to you to disprove me. As I said before your memory is rather slack David because you and I have done it all before and you know it.
          I can look up all the pages again but can’t be bothered just to help you out as you haven’t been too kind over the years to many people. Tit bits for you Davy are Thomas Peter Lloyd is not my grt grt grandfather’s Son and is not Tom Lloyd jnr either as his father was Jack Lloyd snr.The same bloke and my Grt Uncle Jack (John) Lloyd jnr are not brothers but cousins. If you think your namesake did a good job WRONG basic errors that no writer should make. .Just a few more George King and the Sherritts errors too. Can you figure those Out?
          If my records are correct your first forum jar commenced on the 28th December 2012 after you split the scene just as I did. I am sure Sharon Hollingswoth will remember that as well. I also remember one of the last conversations you had on NKF was a week earlier on the 21st December with Lisa. Do you remember that one David.?They were the days David when we actually got on quite well although we never met. Thank heavens for that.
          In a final summary I am not out to prove anything to either you or Ian as it is certainly not my job to do so. I haven’t written any book and not likely too.i just make comments on how I feel and I liked Leo’s but not Ian’s Sorry if that offends you guys but that’s life.
          I am just Bob McGarrigle looking after my family always. As Mr Ripley once said believe it or not that is the question.

          1. David Im afraid Bob has got you there. I recall those thrilling forum jar days when you mashed that daft fitzy and his incoherant blethering


      2. “I have never praised my cousins Ned and Dan for their behaviour”. But you have not condemned them for being total assholes either. “especially with what happened at SBC”. And with taking citizens prisoner and trying to destroy a police train. And with thieving other poor selectors horses.

        1. Bob McGarrigle says: Reply

          Sorry John I have done so on many occasions especially the looting of their bodies.that was totally uncalled for. I have plentyy of friends and enemies that can ratify that John.

  11. An honest appraisal by a nobody. Yeah. Yawn!


  12. Anonymous says: Reply

    Bob still hasn’t answered our simple question posed above [September 11, 2019 at 10:14 pm].

    It’s another of his furphies!

    Horrie and Alf

  13. Anonymous says: Reply

    I never expected everyone to like my book. Bob you don’t like it and have repeatedly said so.

    Can’t please everyone. But please keep your apologies to yourself.

    When you come here, it seems be your purpose to tie us up with silly statements, mistaken guesswork and general rudeness. You have done this several times under your own name, perhaps more.

    I cannot answer your criticisms of my handling of George King and the Sherrits, because you have not specified what they are.

    I am pleased there has been no literary response to my book or those of Dr Moloney ( just noisy yapping from the likes of you and Fitzy). I was very disappointed Ian Jones didn’t treat me like he did author Alex Castles. Would have been great publicity.

    Ian Jones rashly advised author Peter FitzSimons to ignore my book. This did far more damage to their reputations than it did to mine.

    People’s opinions I trust include eminent Australian historian Michael Cannon, Sir Clive Sinclair, inventor of the Sinclair computer and many other things (in his London Times Literary Review). Few authors get a Times Literary review. I am proud of mine. Industry Reviews:

    ‘A damning history… mesmerising in its detail.’ – Lesley McDowell, UK Independent, March 2014 ‘Ian MacFarlane’s assiduous research provides a valuable antidote to those who would unthinkingly sentimentalize violent men.’ – Sir Clive Sinclair, Times Literary Supplement, December 2013’… this work provides a fascinating insight into one of the great Australian sagas and sets many aspects of the story to rights. “I found it to be a compelling read and I highly recommend it.’ – Retired Chief Inspector Ralph Stavely, The Police Association Victoria Journal, November 2012. ‘The author – among other qualifications a long-experienced archivist – lays out for us all the known sources for the Kelly story, locates them for us, and offers his cool judgement on their value and veracity. Any Australian seriously interested in Ned Kelly needs MacFarlane at his elbow.’ – Peter Ryan, Quadrant, March 2013. ‘This is not a balanced book, nor is it meant to be; MacFarlane positions himself (several times) in the anti-Kelly camp, as if the title were not clue enough.’ – Clive Sinclair, Times Literary Supplement, December 2013 ‘Close examination of his developmental history and subsequent criminal behaviour reveals that Kelly was a violent and vindictive man who demonstrated prominent psychopathic features including pathological lying, callous lack of empathy for others and a parasitic lifestyle.’ – Dr Russ Scott & Ian MacFarlane, Ned Kelly – Stock Thief, Bank Robber,Murderer – Psychopath, Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, July 2014.

    I guess I can live with your lesser opinion rather easily, Bob.

    I hope you leave us soon.

    Ian MacFarlane

  14. This discussion is going nowhere. The last four comments that have been submitted – two from Bob – Ive sent to the trash. Sorry people but this was descending into nothing but personal abuse and repetition of the same arguments that have been going around for years.

    Move on, nothing left to see here folks!

  15. Nothing to see on Fitzy’s site either. He is petrified about getting banned on Facebook, and has removed a lot of his most defamatory material.

    But we doubt we have seen the last of Bob. He thinks that by distracting everyone here that you David won’t be able to write more blogs damaging their Ned Kelly brand. Sort of childish, but sort of expected.

    Horrie and Alf

  16. David, you have been a courageous supporter of my book since you spotted it at Sydney Airport on your way to humanitarian endeavours in Ethiopia. You wanted to support it on the Ned Kelly Forum where you were attacked often, but supported by the daring Denhelds. Fitzy attacked you way back then and is still attacking you and me today.

    We are not relations, nor born in the same country as Fitzy foolishly believes. But I have met you since and here openly admire your efforts in diminishing and dismissing the contorted Kelly Legend.

    You are admirable as a human being and as a determined Kelly critic.

    I’m glad we share the same surname of a great Scottish Clan.

    Ian MacFarlane

  17. Kelly expert Brian Stevenson contacted me yesterday to point out an error in my blurb about people who have supported my humble book.

    Brian wrote a three-part review of my book, by far the most detailed and comprehensive so far. This was a “literary” review (although I originally meant books rather than articles or reviews. But articles and reviews are also literary). My poor choice of words.

    Brian’s review was generous but questioned some

    Its all on the Eleven Mile Creek blog, folks.

    Ian MacFarlane

  18. I have re-read Brian’s third review (16 February 2013) and it is more critical than I remembered. I am an old-school author who generally avoids quarrelling with critics.

    However, my ‘obscene’ omission to include reference to the 1871 ‘brutal’ assault on Ned by Senior Constable Hall, who attempted to kill Ned but his pistol misfired thrice, and he beat Ned’s head with its butt deserves a small comment.

    If Hall was using a Webley police revolver (manufacturing began in 1867) it is highly unlikely it would have misfired at all, let alone three times as Ned described. It used manufactured ammunition to avoid this exact problem.

    Brian possibly relied on part of the Kelly myth about this episode. I’m relying on long ago memory, but I didn’t find much in the way of contemporary police records about this incident. Brian could prove me wrong of course.

    I disregarded it as just another one of Ned’s endless yarns.

    Overall, I found Brian’s three-part review invaluable back then.

    Ian MacFarlane

    1. Anonymous says: Reply

      Hi Ian,
      250 Colt Navy (1851) revolvers were purchased by the Victorian Police in 1864. Many of these were later converted by Melbourne gunsmith James Watson to accept cartridge ammunition during or around 1870. (Museum Victoria)
      Not all were converted however and remained in use particularly in some of the more remote police stations. The cost of the conversion was quite expensive at the time. The Webley revolvers were not purchased by the Victorian Police force until 1870/71 onwards. So it is more likely Senior Constable Hall was armed with a Colt and not a Webley revolver. It is not possible to say with any certainty that Hall was armed with a Webley and not a pre converted Colt Navy revolver. My opinion.
      Regards, Glenn

  19. Brian, the Kelly world research has bypassed and eclipsed Corfield and other failed “pundits” you quote to disparage MacFarlane. You need to rejig your three-part review don’t you?

    Cam West

  20. Ned identified Hall’s revolver as a Colt. But after being pistol-whipped what would he have known? Ned’s knowledge about Police was slight overall.

    He pasted Hall later, continuously tossing him onto the ground then grappling and digging his spurs into Halls thighs.

    It’s all a bit melodramatic…

    Ned was convicted for Wild Wright’s stolen horse. They were all horse thieves.

    As for the Ned/Hall brouhaha. Well, your guess is as good as mine.


  21. Anonymous says: Reply

    Glenn, many thanks for that.

    At Eureka Stockade, Victoria Police had obtained Sharps breech-loading carbine.

    This was in Greg Blake’s 2012 book ‘Eureka Stockade A ferocious and bloody battle’.

    Victoria Police was then a paramilitary force.


  22. Later, in 1860, Victoria Police loaned its more modern Calisher & Terry Breech Loading rifle to the crew of warship HMCSS Victoria who were heading for war in New Zealand (the First Taranaki War). These weapons were far in advance of guns issued to British military and naval forces. Some of the rifles were later loaned to the Burke and Wills expedition.

    So in the 1850s, 1860s and 1870s, Victoria Police were armed with the most modern firearms then available.

    Ian MacFarlane

  23. Ned wanted them.

    Cam West

  24. After the despicable redneck yobbo cop-killers had finished their murderous work, they nicked the Police weapons, equipment and remaining horses, and burnt their tent.

    Then they went through the pockets of the murdered Police and stole rings and a pocket watch.

    Will that be in the forthcoming SBC film that tells all I wonder?


    1. Hi Roy, if you mean the recently made Ben Head SBC film, yes that is all in it. If you are wondering if the film “tells all”, that depends on what your view of “all” is. It is heavily based on McIntyre’s narrative, downloadable from the Vic police museum website, plus substantial other historical research, and assistance from a consulting historian (not me, BTW!). I thought the film was very well done both story-wise and cinematographically. No doubt there will be nit-pickers, but my only issue was the Irish accents given to Ned and the boys – but that has been done in all past Kelly films, and has been done in the upcoming Carey film too, I gather. An error to be sure, but not one to get too upset about. More like following the common pattern of emphasising Irishness willy-nilly. Ian J made it a central pillar of his view of Ned Kelly, but totally failed to suggest why Jim-boy was not similarly affected.

  25. Great post Stuart! Thanks.

    SBC needs the personal thefts from police pockets, destruction, burning and police horse thefts!


    1. Hi Roy, as everyone knows, SBC triggered the introduction of the Victorian outlawry act; but it is interesting that almost everyone thinks the Act was essentially permission to shoot any of the outlaws on sight. I have just been reading Alex Castle’s “Last Days” chapter 4 on this. He seems to be saying that too, but then he ends the chapter by saying that whereas one paper suggested that after Glenrowan it was thought that NK would be hanged as soon as he was formally identified, “legally this could not have been further from the truth”. I am still trying to work out what exactly Castles’ position was; but it is clear that contrary to much of the commentary, and maybe also contrary to Castles, the Outlawry Act was not a blanket licence to kill on sight. It looks like the Victorian Act was similar to the earlier NSW Act; but both were quite different from the British outlawry laws from which they were both derived. Investigation continues…

      1. Stuart my understanding was that the Outlawry provisions expired when Parliament was dissolved and an election was called just before Glenrowan happened. It then became illegal to kill Kelly on sight, and he became subject to the usual laws and the right to a trial .

        1. Hi David, that is absolutely correct, and I think this is what Castles means when he wrote about what the paper said that “Legally this could not have been further from the truth”.. Castles is saying in his last paragraph in chapter 4, what he thinks “the majority of Melburnians” believed would happen if the Kellys were captured alive. This is based on what newspapers said; but we don’t know if the majority of people did think that, as he has not given any references to what newspaper. It could be what many Age readers were told, as opposed to what many Argus or Herald readers were told, for example. And we don’t know to what extent people believed what the papers told them. The biggest problem with his book is that he died before it was finished, and so there are no references, only a generic list of sources and a bibliography.

          The impression I get is that Castles is taking issue with what “many” people thought. After he said that, he went on to say that “one newspaper recorded” it was believed that some people thought Kelly could be hanged after capture “as soon as positive identification I court was out of the way”, and that this was far from legally correct. Again, because he has not given any references, it is not clear whether the un-named newspaper might have also contradicted that belief. In any case, my point is that Castles’ position is not clear, except in regards to one popular belief not being correct.

          The real issue is that Castles in chapter 4 misrepresents the status of outlaws under the Outlawry Act. On p. 27 he wrote that “one member of the Legislative assembly … confirmed without dissent” that those outlawed were stripped of all rights”, and that Cuthbert in the Legislative Assembly “assumed that a declaration of outlawry under the act amounted to full and instant conviction… making them immediately liable to the imposition of the death penalty if they were captured alive”. However, in both cases the points made were rhetorical bluster at odds with the wording of the law. By writing that Duffy “confirmed”, Castles misread the Act, and the discussion that had introduced the Act, and settled for parliamentary bluster rather than legal fact. His end of chapter point about what was legally correct is thus a straw point. He joined many in presenting a misrepresentation of the Felons Apprehension Act, which did not permit the killing of an outlaw except in strictly prescribed legislated circumstances. He fell into the common misconception of believing that the FAA continued an ancient tradition of outlawry that classed the outlaw as guilty of the capital crime for which he was outlawed and liable to summary killing by anyone. This belief is widespread in the Kelly literature – almost universal. It is wrong. colonial outlawry in Australia was distinct from its British origins for precisely this reason, that it did not continue the ancient tradition of the outlaw as a wolf to be slayed on sight, but was structured uniquely in Australia as a law to bring the felon to trial except that if he was armed or reasonably thought to be armed he could be killed, so as to lessen the risk of the apprehender being shot by the outlaw.

          Ian Jones noticed this – the only writer to have done so – but then said that in practice it would have been ignored. This too is not correct, as we see at Glenrowan, where Constable Bracken blocked other police from summarily executing Ned Kelly after capture. Bracken stood for the law as written. This has been overlooked by every Kelly commentator including Jones. Anyway, enough from me on this topic for now. It is relatively complex and will be presented as a full article hopefully next year somewhere, not a piecemeal internet discussion. I just thought I’d mention it briefly.

  26. It meant that police or ordinary citizens could lawfully kill them in certain circumstances. (The Kelly Gang Unmasked, p. 81).

    Cam West

  27. There is another aspect to this that hasn’t been mentioned. At British common law a rule regarding fleeing felons applied, at least in Australia, up until the late 1970’s and perhaps even later. That rule permitted the use of force, including deadly force, against an individual who is suspected of a felony and is in clear flight. According to David Caplan “Immediate stopping of the fleeing felon, whether actually or presumably dangerous, was deemed absolutely necessary for the security of the people in a free state, and for maintaining the “public security.” … ” Indeed, it has been said that the social policy of the common law in this matter was not only to threaten dangerous felons and hence deter them, but was also to induce them to “surrender peaceably” if they dared commit inherently dangerous felonies, rather than allow them to “escape trial for their crimes.” Under this rule, the officer must believe in the necessity for the use of deadly force. Accordingly, an officer could use deadly force to prevent escape of any assumed felon, the rationale being that, under 18th century England, all felons were punishable by death in the first place. (

    To me, it seems that this rule would have applied during the Kelly years and was additional to the powers under the Outlawry Act. I have personal experience of the application of this rule as late as c.1969 when a detective fired on and wounded a prison escapee in a shopping centre. At that time escaping from prison was considered a felony. An investigation into the shooting found that under the common law fleeing felon rule, the detective was justified on firing on the fleeing prison escapee. Later legislation abolished this rule in the jurisdiction where the shooting took place. To me this rule would have applied to members of the Kelly gang even before them having been declared outlaws.

    1. Hi Anonymous, while that is certainly interesting, it is different to what is being examined as regards the provisions of the Felons Apprehension Act 1878 (Vic), which is the Act relevant to the Kelly outbreak here. The rationale that “under 18th century England, all felons were punishable by death in the first place” did not apply in colonial Australia, hence the introduction of the NSW Act and the subsequent 1878 Victorian Act which expressly saw that a person including a policeman killing an outlaw without the protection and circumstances as prescribed in the Outlawry Acts would be guilty of murder. Australian Colonial outlawry did not see the felon as already guilty of the crime for which he was outlawed. This was totally different from the British concept of outlaw from which our different laws were derived. But they were not the same thing at all as regards the status of an outlaw in law. Colonial law was to apprehend and bring an outlaw to trial, not to execute an outlaw held already to be guilty of the felony for which he was outlawed. Deadly force was only permitted here if the outlaw was armed or reasonably thought to be armed as set out in the NSW and Vic Acts, so as to enable his apprehension if possible without putting the arrester at risk by the normal requirement to demand his surrender. All terms importing a gender apply to persons of any gender, BTW.

  28. Anonymous says: Reply

    That’s your interpretation. However, as I have pointed out the fleeing felon common law rule still applied in most States and territories up until reasonably contemporary times. Necessary force could be used to apprehend (or stop) a fleeing felon. and was often used. Not sure why this would not have applied during the Kelly period if it was still being used in the 1970’s. However, if you can direct me to a source of your comments I would be grateful.

  29. I have a question, the answer to which could resolve the dispute : the Outlawry act meant ANYONE could kill the outlaw didn’t it?. Did this ‘Fleeing felon” act apply only to the actions of Law Enforcement and not everyone else?

  30. Hi Anonymous, I was responding to the reference you quoted above that said “Under this [fleeing felons] rule, the officer must believe in the necessity for the use of deadly force”, which I took to pertain only to police officer or as David put it, Law Enforcement persons (which might include magistrates?). Whereas the Outlawry Acts of NSW and Vic were quite specific about the circumstances in which a civilian – not just an officer of the law – could kill an outlaw. As to whether a fleeing felons applied during the Kelly period, as I said, that is certainly interesting, and this is the first time I have heard of it.. The best published discussion of the Outlawry Act I have come across so far is Michael Eburn, “Outlawry in Colonial Australia: The Felons Apprehension Acts 1865-1899”, in Australia and New Zealand Legal History e-journal 2005: 80-93.

  31. Anonymous’s “The fleeing felon common law rule still applied in most States and territories…blah…blah…blah…”.

    Anonymous is having a lend of us.

    What on earth is a common law r u l e ?

    And what on earth is “The fleeing felon common law rule”?

    Never heard of it!

    C’mon Stuart and David, this is just another pathetic scam from the Loons.

    Cam West

  32. David, the fleeing felon rule, like the Outlawry Act, seems to have applied to ‘anyone’ and not just police officers. Much has been written on this subject over the years and there is still some confusion as to when deadly force could have be used in the case of a fleeing felon. Some interpretations suggest that a verbal request must first be made on the felon to surrender before any force is used. In the example I mentioned, the detective called on the fleeing prison escapee (then a felony) to stop. The detective also knew that the direction in which the escapee was running, lead to a labyrinth of service corridors in a large shopping centre. With this in mind and taking into the consideration the common law fleeing felon rule, he fired one shot which wounded (in the butt incidentally) the bloke and allowed his apprehension. There is an interesting paper on aspects of Outlawry in Colonial Australia: The Felons Apprehension Acts 1865-1899 here (

    1. Hi Anonymous, you have linked to the same Outlawry article I referenced on Wednesday night. It doesn’t say anything about any fleeing felons rule. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t one, but it does not seem to have been previously mentioned in any discussions of the Kelly outbreak. I will put it on my list of things to look at for late November.

      As regards the question of interpretations, if you look at the 1860s material referenced in Eburn – not what Eburn says, but the actual material he referenced, which I read all of – both the intention and the actuality of the NSW and Vic outlawry acts are crystal clear, as was their rationale and argument for them, which were written before their presentation as Bills and subsequent enactment. There is also no doubt at all about when deadly force could be used under the provisions of the Felons Apprehension Acts of 1865 NSW and 1878 Vic.

  33. Stuart, you are quite correct in saying that the paper I mentioned ‘doesn’t say anything about any fleeing felons rule’. However, I didn’t say that it did, I merely mentioned it as a matter of interest. I haven’t read many of the various references to the Outlawry Acts my point being to raise the entirely separate issue of the common law fleeing felon rule which I believe was also available top not only police officers but anyone even before the Outlawry Acts came into force.

    1. Hi Anonymous, I saw that you didn’t say that it did (!). My point was that in the most recent thorough academic paper on the FAA, there is no mention of any “fleeing felons rule”. Nor have I seen any mention of it in any material by Kelly authors, who have written quite a bit about outlawry. That means that as far as I know you are the first person in any Kelly discussion to have mentioned something called a “fleeing felons rule”. As I wrote on 29 Sept above, “while that is certainly interesting, it is different to what is being examined as regards the provisions of the Felons Apprehension Act 1878 (Vic), which is the Act relevant to the Kelly outbreak here.”

      To recap the above assorted comments: I said the provisions of the outlawry act were clear as regards killing felons. You introduced mention of a “fleeing felons rule” that no-one in any Kelly discussion has ever mentioned before. I then explained what the outlawry provisions were. You said that what I wrote was an interpretation. I said it is not, and that the FAAs of NSW and Vic are crystal clear about the circumstances under which an outlaw could be killed. You wished to continue to pursue the question of a “fleeing felons rule” mentioned in Wikipedia as a separate issue. I have just had a look at the Wikipedia. article you linked to, and it relates entirely to America, not Australia. There is nothing of any substance in it. There is also no evidence of any such rule in Australia in Kelly’s day. I am no longer interested in that idea.

    2. Gibberish.

      Cam West

  34. In an effort to explain my point the following might help. Common Law is generally defined as “… a body of unwritten laws based on legal precedents established by the courts. Common law influences the decision-making process in unusual cases where the outcome cannot be determined based on existing statutes or written rules of law.” In other words common laws are UNWRITTEN. The definition of ‘felony’ is not as clear-cut and has changed over the years. “A felony is traditionally considered a crime of high seriousness, whereas a misdemeanor is regarded as less serious. A felon is a person who has committed a felony. Following conviction of a felony in a court of law, a person may be described as a convicted felon.” (Faulker, Sarah (Summer 2000). “Invasion of the Information Snatchers: Creating Liability for Corporations with Vulnerable Computer Networks”. The John Marshall Journal of Information Technology &Privacy Law. 18 (4): 1025. Retrieved 9 June 2019.) At the time of the Kelly outbreak a felony may have been generalised as an offence punishable by death, penal servitude or life in prison. To seek some clarity over the fleeing felon rule in respect to law enforcement, I placed a query on a closed NSW Police history forum. There were subsequently 117 responses, the bulk of which supported my interpretation. In fact a number of examples of instances where police officers had fired on fleeing felons were cited. One contributor downloaded pages of a 1968 NSW Police Cadet training manual dealing with the subject. I shall attempt to insert these to this post. I also came across a 1996 report by Assoc. Prof Rick Sarre. For some reason I am unable to copy the relevant section(probably some sort of copyright embargo) but it can be found on p.16 of the report here. ( It will be seen that this section Prof Sarre’s report indicates that the ‘fleeing felon’ rule could be resorted to by police, under certain circumstances, at least in 1975. However, many of the police (retired or still serving) on the NSW Police forum suggested that the ‘fleeing felon’ rule was still being taught to trainee officers into the 1990’s. At the time of Sarre’s report, Queensland Police had modified the ‘fleeing felon’ rule but were still able to fire on a person who has committed an offence punishable by life imprisonment (Sarre’s report at P.22). For all I know they may still be able to. The bottom line to all this is that as recently as the 1970’s and perhaps later, police were able to fire upon a fleeing felon and they certainly were during the Kelly outbreak. I hope you don’t see this as ‘gibberish’ Cam. Very uncharitable.

  35. Hi Anonymous, that PDF is password protected if you view the PDF security options. What it says as regards Australia on p 16-7 refers only to police powers to shoot, so it is a totally different kettle of fish to the Outlawry Acts. One might ask, if the FAAs were framed to give greater powers to the police as well as civilians to shoot an armed outlaw, or one reasonably believed to be armed, why police powers would be even thought of in relation to the FAAs if police already had such a fleeing felon power. No such power was mentioned anywhere in the debate leading up tom the passage of the FAAs of NSW and Vic.

    Where we are now seems to be that the only mentions of a fleeing felon rule in Australia are in relation to something that apparently applied in some jurisdictions – in NSW from Police Instruction 1962 (according to Sarre’s article p. 15), and his conclusion says that “the fleeing felon rule has been abolished or modified in some jurisdictions while remaining untouched in others”, p. 35. There is nothing to say when such a rule may have been introduced, and we would need to know that for NSW and Victoria where the FAAs preceded and responded to the Kelly outbreak. At the moment there is no evidence at all on that, and nothing to suggest that such a rule predated the twentieth century, or indeed the 1960s.

    If evidence of such a rule can be found for Victoria in the Kelly years, say 1870-1880, why is it that we have not heard of any police accounting for their shooting of a fleeing felon throughout that decade, including any mention in the Royal Commission minutes.. A search of Trove digitised newspapers just now produced no result for the term “fleeing felon” in any of the 368 Victorian newspapers so far digitised from that decade. By all means carry on, but it is looking doubtful to me that there is anything to find as regards a fleeing felons rule in the Kelly period. And, IF there was one, whether it had any relevance at all to the Kelly pursuit.

  36. Stuart I do understand that the FAA was introduced in both colonial Victoria and NSW to deal with the threat bushrangers posed. But the point I am trying to make is that British common law, which at that time was applicable to Australia, had already in-place a rule which could have been used by anyone but especially police before and after the implementation of the FAAs. One reason for the enactment of the FAA was outlined in 1865 by Chief Justice Stephen. “He argued that the Act was necessary to remove a defect in the common law. According to the Chief Justice, the law required a person to call upon an offender to surrender before force could be used to make an arrest.” ( While not specifically mentioned, I think it is fair to assume that he was talking about the fleeing felon rule. If so, then the rule was known about at that time and did not mysteriously appear in NSW and other jurisdictions in the 1960’s. In fact the rule was being discussed as far back as the 16th Century. (

    I suspect that the reason you can find no mention of it during the bushranger period is that it was an unwritten common law guidance rule. I have no doubt that many ‘fleeing felons’ had been shot by police and others prior to the enactment of FAAs. The fact that you can find no Trove references to this is probably because the rule having been implemented in shootings did not warrant specific mention of it.

  37. Hi Anonymous, this is building on Eburn but still speculating – “Chief Justice Stephen … argued that the Act was necessary to remove a defect in the common law. According to the Chief Justice, the law required a person to call upon an offender to surrender before force could be used to make an arrest” [Eburn}; and then, the speculation, “While not specifically mentioned, I think it is fair to assume that he was talking about the fleeing felon rule. ”

    I have doubts, because the defect in the common law that Stephens was referring to was the ability of a civilian as much as a policeman to use force to make an arrest. Stephen goes on to discuss that the pre-FAA requirement to call surrender put the would-be arrester in great peril when trying to apprehend a felon who was likely armed, thus giving him a second chance of escape with peril for the would be arrester. Hence, the FAA 1865 NSW (on which the Vic FAA 1878 was modelled) was written to enable the apprehension of a felon to bring him to trial using deadly force if necessary, the circumstances of which might mean the use of force if the felon was known to be armed or reasonably believed to be so. Had a fleeing felon rule applied, it is hard to see why an FAA would be necessary, as far as police powers go.

    All the 16th century stuff is irrelevant except for historical interest, as the colonial outlawry acts were radically different from outlawry as understood in 19th century British common law, but I am not going to spend time on that on the internet. It will have to wait until I finish a full paper on this FAA topic. In any case, I am happy to wait until someone puts up a finished case for a fleeing felon rule somewhere before I spend any more time on it. I am glad you are looking into it, as I’m sure others here will also be interested, but I have a completely different focus at this time.

  38. This site crippled yet again with irrelevant observations about irrelevant “rules” no-one knows about or gives a fig about!

    Horrie and Alf

  39. This Anonymous was heaps smarter than recent deliberate timewasters who want to divert our attention away from demolishing Kelly rubbish. Who can resist discussion about ‘rules’ no matter how ludicrous they later turn out to be?

    Cam West

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