As is often the case on this Blog, the Discussions are where the interesting stuff happens, but this discussion is worth a Post of its own, because, for one thing we are hoping someone out there might have the answer to the question asked – how do we know that the green sash taken from Kelly when he was captured is the same one he was supposed to have been given by the Sheltons at Avenel in 1865?
The thread is reproduced below and began with this :
While we’re on the topic of myth making, isn’t it interesting that Kelly wore a red sash at Stringybark Creek – see the screenshot from the Australiasian Sketcher 23 November 1878, page 134.
The Benalla sash that was taken off Kelly at Glenrowan, the padding under his armour, is a cummerbund that measures 7’3” (2.2 metres) x 5.5” (14 cm) with a 2.5” fringe of gold bullion thread.
The Kelly legend claims it was a sash awarded to Kelly as an 11 year old boy when he rescued 7 year old Richard Shelton from a waterhole he had fallen into while playing in the creek, a thank-you from Richard’s parents, and which as we know from McMenomy came from the Shelton family’s drapery business.
But was it? What evidence is there that the sash presented to 11 year of Kelly was the same green sash he was wearing at Glenrowan? References someone?
Why would the grateful parents give an 11 year old boy a sash over 7 feet long as a reward? Wouldn’t they have given him a three or four foot long sash from the family drapery business?
What evidence is there that the sash young Ned back then was given in gratitude was green? References please someone?
Not much point forking out for a child sized silk sash for a boy about to hit puberty…
This may all be a dead end or a wild goose chase, but here we go. Kenneally 1980 (ninth edn) does mention the green sash on p. 151, including a sub-heading about “saving a boy [unnamed] from drowning”. Kenneally 1945 (4th edn) had the same main heading (The Green Silk Sash) but without the subheading; and otherwise the same paragraph text as the 1980 one. The text says, “”While the Kellys were living at Wallan, Ned Kerlly saved the life of a boy who had fallen into a flooded creek. The boy’s father was so grateful for Ned’s heroic rescue of his son that he decided to make Ned a present of a very valuable ‘Green Silk Sash with a heavy bullion fringe’.” Note that the sash is a present; theer is nothing about any public presentation; the boy is unnamed; and the location is Wallan, which suggests that the story was not yet writ large in Avenel (or Kelly) folk history in 1945. It would be intersting to see what his 1934 third edition says if anyone has one.
Working back, Kenneally’s 1929 second edition which is a free internet download, pp. 215-16 has a subheading, “The Secret of the Green Sash”. The text says, “Dr. Nicholson failed to mention anything in the foregoing affidavit about the “green silk sash”, with a heavy bullion fringe, which Ned Kelly wore inside his outer clothing when captured at Glenrowan. The doctor removed the sash when he was stripping Ned Kelly, and it was secreted by the officials who had seen it. Reference to this very valuable sash did not appear in the press for the simple reason that the looters, whoever they might have been, intended to retain it as a great trophy. It is believed to have been sent later to England, where it presumably now is.
“Mr. Joseph Ryan, of Lake Rowan, a first cousin of Ned Kelly, remarked to his younger brother some years afterwards that he could never make out what had become of Ned‘s green silk sash with the heavy gold fringe. Although nearly fifty years have passed away since the looting of the sash, it may yet be discovered in an English museum.
“Whoever is responsible for the annexing of this sash is undoubtedly guilty of theft. As the Kellys ceased to be outlaws on the 9th February, 1880, when the Outlawry Act lapsed, and as it was neither revived not its duration extended, no person was justified in stealing or looting any of their personal possessions. It is very evident that among those who functioned in the interests of Law and Order was a percentage of dishonest and untruthful officials.”
That’s all. Apart from him getting the expiry of the outlawy Act wrong (it was 26 June 1880 when that Parliament was prorogued), there is no connection with Kelly saving a boy from drowning, and in the 1929 edition I can’t find anything about the rescue.
So from a neighbour and close acquaintance of the Kelly family, and the earliest passionate defender of Kelly, there is no mention of the rescue.
In Max Brown first edition 1948, he talks about the Kellys at Avenel on p.27, but there is no mention of the sash or of saving a boy from the creek. On page 213 he writes about Kelly’s wounds being dressed by Dr Nicholson, including a description of Kelly’s clothes and boots, but no mention of the sash.
I don’t have Brown’s 1956 edition so can’t check re Avenel. In many respects a copy I flicked through in a bookshop a while back seemed fairly similar to the 1948 edition.
In Brown’s revised 1981 Australian Classics edition he writes on p. 14 aout the Shelton children crossing the creek on a fallen tree every morning on their way to school, but nothing yet about the rescue. Then he writes about Avenel having a good life for children and a Avenel events, and not until p. 19 do we get, “After the Kellys had left Avenel, the local folk remembered Mrs Kelly as a [good] neighbour … , and Ned as something of a hero for rescuing the eight-year old Richard Shelton from the creek. Ned later wore a green and gold sash presented by the Shelton family under his armour at Glenrowan, as if to indicate, if the battle went against him, that it was not as a bushranger but as a friend and neighbour that he wished to be remembered”.
On p. 183 of the 1981 edition Brown writes about the doctor dressing Kelly’s wounds, and describes his clothes at length, but there is nothing about the sash.
Last is Brown’s 2013 second edition of his 2005 revision. On p. 21 he writes about Avenel, “Ned was able to rescue the seven year old Richard Shelton from drowning in the creek opposite the Kelly home. His courage must have been exemplary for the Shelton family saw fit to make a public occassion of it by presenting him with a gold-fringed sash”. Note that it has become a public presentation. On p. 213 he writes about the doctor dressing Kelly’s wounds and describes his clothes, but again nothing about the sash.
Could it be somewhere between 1929 and 1945 that the rescue and sash story came to Kenneally, and somewher after 1948 that it came to Brown? Both were keen defenders of Kelly, but the story was not in either of their first editions. I would like to know if it was in Kenneally’s third, 1934 edition as that may help trace it further.
Last for tonight, word-searching my PDF of Cookson’s 1910-11 Sydney Sun interviews published as ‘The Kelly Gang from within’, for the word ‘sash’ produced no results. It seems that the silk sash story was not worth mentioning in 1911, even by Mrs Kelly and Jim Kelly.
Thanks for the 1973 article reference. I think there is enough in this initial round of enquiry to be worth persuing a bit further. I will check your Trove link and Clune, and will also check John Molony’s 1980 ‘I am Ned Kelly’ as he was another powerful defender of Ned
Great work as always Stuart.
Not sure how I missed the section in Kenneally (1981) on p. 151 ( it was a flick through on my lunch break – was looking at the part of the book covering childhood).
Kenneally refers to it as a “Green Silk Sash with a heavy bullion fringe” – i.e. the description is in quotation marks. I wonder who he is directly quoting.
And who made the application to Mrs Graham Pole for return of the sash to Jim in 1910 (as Kenneally alleges)? Jim? Ellen?
Why didn’t this application for the sash come up when Jim and Ellen were talking to Cookson in 1911?
There’s something odd here Stuart…
Hi Thomas, I think where Kenneally 1929 refers to “the ‘green silk sash’, with a heavy bullion fringe”, he is just slightly rephrasing from Joseph Ryan whom he discusses in the next paragraph.
Iit sounds from reading futher on in Kenneally’s 1945 and later editions that possibly Jim Kelly wrote to Pole to ask for the sash to be returned to him, or more likely from the wording, that someone wrote on his behalf, probably Kenneally.
It doesn’t sound like the sash had become a thing before Kenneally 1929, and he didn’t link it to Ned rescuing a boy from the creek until some later edition. That’s why it would be nice to check the 1934 third edition for the link; otherwise it’s 1945 onwards..
And also worth noting is that Joseph Ryan in Kenneally 1929 did not say anything to connect the Glenrowan sash with the Shelton sash. He only said that the Glenrowan sash was taken from Kelly at Glenrowan. There is nothing about a Shelton sash in Kenneally’s 1929 second edition.
Just stumbled upon this amazing little video from 1973!
Assume this is Emmie McNab (nee Nicholson) with the sash before donating it to Benalla Historical Society.
Shot for GMV-6 Shepparton.
Here’s the interview!
Note: the woman is not Emmie
Hi Thomas, that is a totally brilliant find. It is great to see the sash folded, unfolde and held up in so many angles.
I have rescanned the photo from Meredith and Scott p. 133, which shows Mrs Street from the Benalla Historical Society sitting with the sash in 1973. Both the video and the photo show its 2.2 metre legth to good effect.
Very interesting point Stuart!
Just had quick flick through JJ Kenneally (1980 edition) and can’t see anything about the green sash there! (I will double check again later).
Clune’s book has Dick Shelton as being an adult farmer but also no reference to the sash (p. 13).
In Australian Son (1984 Edition) Max Brown does refer to the ‘green and gold sash’ being given to Ned after saving Dick Shelton (p. 19).
I’ve also found a small article from the Canberra Times on Trove from 1973 announcing the rediscovery of the ‘green and gold sash’ by Dr Nicholson’s daughter, Emma McNab. No reference to dick Shelton there either but admittedly its a ‘news in brief’ article.
Will keep digging.