Justice in Kelly Country

The Story of the cop who hunted Australias most notorious bushrangers

For a few minutes on October 28th 1878 at Stringybark Creek Ned Kelly wrongly believed he had just shot and killed Senior Constable Anthony Strahan, the subject of this biography. At least, that is what Kelly later claimed in the Jerilderie letter, repeating an allegation made by a notorious uncle of his, Patrick Quinn, that Strahan had told him that if he had the opportunity, he “would not ask me (Ned Kelly) to stand, he would shoot me first like a dog”.  Kellys claim was that he shot ‘Strahan’ because otherwise “he would have shot me”. In fact, the policeman he shot, the first of three police murdered that day, was Const Thomas Lonigan.

 

 

Ned Kellys version of everything that happened at Stringybark Creek contained many lies, and this claim, about why he shot Lonigan is probably another one, made up long after the murder, and written into the Jerilderie letter along with a host of other attempts to blame someone else for many instances of his own reprehensible behaviour. What he is trying to do is make out that because of what Strahan threatened to do if he ever came across Kelly, it is Strahan who is ultimately responsible for Lonigan’s death. However, because of previous encounters with him we know that Kelly was very familiar with who Lonigan was and what he looked like, and he took his time observing the policemen at Stringybark creek before confronting them, so his claim not to have recognised him is just not credible.

 

There are also many good reasons to be sceptical about Patrick Quinns claim, not the least of which being that when it was later drawn up as an Affidavit aimed at assisting Ned Kellys defence, Quinn didn’t sign it. When he appeared before the Royal Commission, Quinn mentioned Strahan six times but made no mention of his unsigned affidavit or its contents. Furthermore, prior to the Stringybark Creek murders, Kelly was a stock thief on the run for attempted murder – he wasn’t an actual murderer so it would make no sense for Strahan to threaten such an extreme act.

 

Never-the-less, despite the dubious quality of these claims, in some quarters Kellys excuse was believed, it was accepted that Strahan had indeed uttered those threats, and they were cited as a trigger for the police murders at Stringybark Creek and all the chaos that followed. The venomous hateful opinion of police in general that Kelly expressed in the Jerilderie letter, and which was the motivation for the orgy of police murdering that he later attempted to carry out at Glenrowan became a central theme of the entire Kelly legend, which has feasted on the reputation of just about every policeman involved in the Outbreak to this very day. SC Anthony Strahan was not spared, and his reputation suffered, he was never promoted beyond the rank of Senior Constable, he was criticised by Standish at the Royal Commission who labelled him ‘a blathering fellow’ and his long career in the police force was identified with nothing else that he did.

 

 

Lachlan Strahan, Anthony’s great-great grandson, and author of ‘Justice in Kelly Country’ explaining what motivated him to write this book, says “It’s hard to be related to a villain”. His own father, an avowed hard-core Kelly sympathiser had believed the negative image of Anthony, and believed he came from Scotland. Lachlan wanted to examine the entire life of Anthony Strahan, not just the three short years of his involvement in the Kelly outbreak, and discover the truth about the allegation that he was a villain.

 

There is so much to appreciate in this biography, but for me the thing that stands out is the toughness of the life Anthony Strahan chose, as a Victorian policeman, and how hard he worked to be a good one, for 32 years. Like 80% of police at the time, he was Irish, not Scottish as Lachlans father had taught him, and he emigrated to Victoria when he was twenty, joining two brothers and two sisters who had come before him. One brother was already a policeman, and Anthony followed.

His career was notable for several things, the first being the number of different country towns he worked in. Initially he was in larger towns under supervision but eventually he ended up in small isolated places where he was the sole policeman. Second was the great variety of police work that he did, ranging from the mundane to the extremely dangerous tracking down and arresting of violent criminals, two of whom were murderers that ended up being hanged in Beechworth gaol. On one occasion he followed the trail for almost 200km on horseback. He arrested a man charged with the rape of a 14-year-old girl, he tracked down a Chinese burglar, he arrested horse thieves and he had to identify the decomposing corpse of a father of eight who drowned himself in a river. He had to renovate the barely habitable Police station at Snowy Creek, and he was appointed slaughter house inspector at Beechworth. He saved a woman bitten by a snake, and had to break the terrible news to a family that a snake bite had killed their little boy.

 

Notable throughout his policing however, more especially in the earlier years was a temper with a short fuse, and a low tolerance for bullying but also for criticism, especially when he felt it was unjustified. He wasn’t afraid to take anyone on when he felt something needed to be challenged, and in these incidents he sometimes prevailed and he sometimes didn’t.

 

 

His personal life was also varied and challenging: he had to identify the body of his policeman brother who tragically drowned in an accident at a river crossing. He visited New Zealand in an ultimately unsuccessful pursuit of a woman who bore his first child. He fathered a second child out of wedlock with another woman, Marion Evans the daughter of convicts, whom he later married and they had six more children together. In later life, he owned a racehorse and a small farm.

 

 

And then of course there was his involvement in the Kelly outbreak. He was in charge of the station at Greta but was in NSW looking for Kelly when Fitzpatrick was sent to replace him. He went with Sgt Steele and Det Joseph Brown to arrest Mrs Kelly the day after the ‘incident’ and reported the lies she and her daughter Kate responded with to questions he asked about her sons and about Fitzpatrick’s visit the previous day. He was with the search party that went south from Greta looking for Kelly when the party of four that went north from Mansfield was attacked and three of them were murdered. He spent many a long day in the saddle following up leads which lead nowhere. Oddly enough when it was all over, even though he was mentioned by more than one person and was criticized at the Royal Commission, he wasn’t asked to testify.

 

 

So, at the end of it all the life and character of Anthony Strahan revealed in this book shows him to be like any other human being, but a man whose strengths greatly outweigh his weaknesses. He was deeply committed to justice and to serving his community and looking after his family. But did he utter those fateful words about shooting Ned Kelly? We will never know, but if he did, they were words uttered in the heat of the moment and were not expressing an attitude that was ever demonstrated by his actions, and they speak louder than words. He most certainly was not a villain.

 

I thoroughly recommend this book to all readers, but with one caution : its a book about Anthony Strahan, not the Kelly Outbreak. I say this because its clear Lachlan Strahan isnt entirely up to speed with some of the new thinking about the Outbreak, and he makes some quite notable errors, especially in his descriptions of the Fitzpatrick incident where he repeats several of claims about him that are now known to be false, such as a claim that Fitzpatrick  had given his account ‘in a semi inebriated state’. However,for those interested in the Kelly Outbreak this is still an important contribution  because it puts flesh and blood onto the name of another one of the policemen whose reputation and life of service has been so egregiously maligned by the now crumbling Kelly mythology. After reading this excellent work it will no longer be possible to see SC Anthony Strahan as just another evil policeman. He was a good man who lived a worthy life. Heres a link to where you can buy the book or get the Kindle version.   

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34 Replies to “Justice in Kelly Country”

  1. Hi David, I am still waiting for my copy of this book to arrive sometime this week, but there is an interesting point you have raised here, that Kelly’s Jerilderie letter claim that he was told Strahan had said that if he came across Kelly he would not ask him to stand (ie surrender) but would shoot him like a dog, might have contributed to Kelly’s aggression at Stringybark Creek.

    There is a problem here in that this idea does not appear in the Cameron letter of mid-December 1878; only in the Jerilderie letter of mid February 1879. Can we timeline this alleged threat? I will have to re-check McIntyre’s autobiographical memoir (anyone can download this from the Victoria Police Museum website) to see if Kelly said anything like that at SBC, but I don’t think so. What I recall is that Kelly said that if he ever came across Strahan, Flood, Steele, or Fitzpatrick, he would roast them on a fire.

    If Kelly didn’t say anything about Strahan making such a threat at SBC, yet it apparently upset him so much that he vented about it angrily in the Jerilderie letter, could that mean that the alleged threat was made after SBC, AND after the Kelly Gang were outlawed, i.e. between the time of the Euroa and Jerilderie raids.

    That could make sense, as the question of crying surrender or being shot was as you say not significant before the outlawry act. Before SBC Kelly was wanted for horse theft and shooting at Fitzpatrick, but not murder. That escalation was post-SBC.

    So two things to check: was that outrageous threat made before or after outlawry on the timeline; and can McIntyre’s memoir help solve it?

    1. HI Stuart thanks for noticing my suggestion that this claim was retrospectively inserted into the narrative by NED KELLY looking for an excuse to blame someone else for Lonigans murder. Kelly was always doing this : remember his childish claim that his fist collided with McCormacks nose because his horse jumped forward!

      But I hadnt thought to look at the Cameron letter to see if it was in there – I only bought of the Jerilderie letter which of course was written bait later. Also I hadnt thought check McIntyres manuscript to see if he remembered Kelly saying anything about Strahan at SBC – and I suppose by now youve also seen that he did NOT. What McINtyre recorded Kelly saying was “Who is that over there?” I said Lonigan . He said It is not Lonigan I know Lonigan well and I will put a hole in you if you don’t tell me the truth”

      So how VERY interesting : No mention of Strahan and an admission that he knew Lonigan well. But for some reason he does genuinely seem to have not recognised him….

      We will have to also check the statements McINtyre made at the time to see if theres anything in them about Strahan……

  2. Hi David, on p.24 of McIntyre’s memoir Kelly says to McIntyre, “At first I thought you were Flood and if you had been I would have roasted you upon that fire. There are four men in the Police and if ever lay hands upon them I will roast them alive; they are Flood , Steele , Strachan and Fitzpatrick”. That is the only mention of Strahan (spelled Strachan by McIntyre) in his memoir.

    Kelly’s only mentions Strahan three times in his two post-bank robbery letters.

    In the Cameron letter Kelly says “He {Fitzpatrick] told Dan to clear out that Sergeant Steel or Detective Brown would be there before morning as Straughan was over the Murray trying to get up a case against Dan and the Lloyds as the Germans over the Murray would swear to any one, and they will tag you guilty or not.”

    In the Jerilderie letter Kelly says “The trooper left and invented some scheme to say that he got shot which any man can see is false, he told Dan to clear out that Sergeant Steel & Detective Brown and Strachan would be there before morning Strachan had been over the Murray trying to get up a case against him and they would convict him if they caught him as the stock society offered an enticement for witnesses to swear anything and the germans over the Murray would swear to the wrong man as well as the right.”

    So Strahan gets a mention in those similar passages in both letters a few pages in, but nothing further in the Euroa letter about him.

    Further along in the Euroa letter Kelly says “Lonigan ran to a battery of logs and put his head up to take aim at me when I shot him or he would have shot me as I knew well.”

    In the similar section in Jerilderie letter Kelly says “Lonigan ran some six or seven yards to a battery of logs instead of dropping behind the one he was sitting on. he had just got to the logs and put his head up to take aim when I shot him that instant or he would have shot me as I took him to be Strachan the man who said he would not ask me to stand he would shoot me first like a dog.”

    It seem possible that the alleged threat by Strahan to shoot Kelly without calling surrender was made after SBC but before Euroa and Jerilderie, because the Euroa letter’s words “or he would have shot me as I knew well” convey the same idea of shooting without calling surrender, just without the elaboration of shooting him like a dog.

    Given that McIntyre recorded Kelly’s violent hostility to Flood, but in that same conversation when Kelly railed against the four police that he named, he did not focus any special attention on Strahan, it seems possible that the alleged threat should be located after SBC, not before it as Lachlan Strahan apparently suggests. I will look into this more when my copy of the book turns up.

  3. Sharon Hollingsworth says: Reply

    Here is a cut and paste of a comment I made on another blog post on this same site. This is from 2015. Hope it helps clear up things.—————-
    Great news! I have finally gotten a copy of the Frank James/John Sadleir letter of June 24, 1898. My friend Joe Dipisa happened to have a copy in his files and was kind enough to share with me. I have typed up the pertinent bits and I do hope I was able to decipher each word properly. There was a word or two that I had to just put ??? as I was not quite sure. Note that the words in parentheses were part of the letter. Here is the pertinent text –”…I also think that “Foote” (Pat Quinn) caused word to be sent to the Kellys that parties of police under Sgt. Kennedy and Sgt. Strahan, were to start from Mansfield and Greta in search of them. See evidence given by “Foote” before the Police Commission wherein he states that he told Strahan he (Quinn) would guide the police where the Kellys were concealed if former would assure him he would not shoot them – the Kellys. “Foote” then goes on to say that Strahan replied “If I run across them I’ll shoot them like wild dogs,” former adds “I declined to have any more to do with the matter.” From this I infer he caused the Kellys to be informed of the search and Strahan’s threat which latter would, in a measure, account for the murder of the police. Were this not the case the question arises, why did the Kellys not continue in hiding either til the search was again abandoned, or at least til found by the police? As a matter of fact they acted on the aggressive and attacked the police when the party was separated. I do not think Perkins had ought to do with searching ???? and that Strahan’s ill-judged speech caused the mischief.”

  4. Hi Sharon, thanks very much for posting that. As you said once before in 2014 here, ‘in the notes to “I Am Ned Kelly” by John Molony there is this:’

    “See affidavit of Patrick Quinn of Greta in the Argus, 10 November 1880. Superintendent James in a letter to John Sadleir, 24 June 1898, confirms this story and remarks that Strahan’s threat ‘would, in a measure, account for the murder of the police…Strahan’s ill-judged speech caused the mischief.’ H 2902, L.C. S.L.V.” [That in turn refers to the Sadleir papers in the Latrobe Collection, State Library Victoria.]

    The link to the Quinn affidavit published in the Argus (p. 6) is here, https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/5983081/257484#

  5. Thanks very much Sharon, and for anyone keen to read the Quinn affidavit, it is here, https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/5983081/257484#

  6. So Stuart, I think this what we have :

    *McIntyres account is that at SBC Kelly did NOT specifically single out Strahan as his target;

    *In Kellys first account of SBC (Cameron letter) he ALSO did NOT single out Strahan

    * The only time Kelly did single out Strahan was in the LAST account he gave of SBC , the version in the Jerilderie letter, which was written many months after SBC

    *We then have this affidavit which wasnt produced until after Kelly had been sentenced to death, it wasnt ever signed by Quinn, suggesting perhaps he wasnt all that keen to perjure himself

    *And (under oath??)at the RC Quinn mentioned Strahan several times but said nothing about him threatening to shoot Kelly like a dog, and didnt mention the petition, again not willing to perjure himself

    *Then we have this Sadleir letter of 1898 which says that at the RC Quinn mentioned Strahan saying he would shoot down the police like wild dogs – but this is not true : Quinn did NOT mention anything about shooting police down like wild dogs – and here I am relying on Lachlan Strahans statement in the biography – I confess I havent checked it myself.

    So, to me this has EVERY hallmark of a deliberate rewrite and a fabrication of what happened, designed by Kelly, as I said originally, to drag Strahan into the picture and blame him for Lonigans death.

    As I also said before, its hard to imagine why Strahan would have needed to make such an extreme remark before there was a Kelly Gang and before anyone had actually been murdered. If he DID ever say something like that it would make much more sense for hims to have said it AFTER the Gang had emerged and AFTER the three police murdered had happened. I could believe THAT time line but not the one in the Jerilderie letter.

    1. Hi David, I did a word search of the RC and 2nd Progress Report for Quin to catch all spellings, and there is nowhere Quinn says the shoot like a dog threat. But in the James to Sadleir letter that Sharon transcribed, James says the threat was said to the RC.

      There was another volume of RC evidence, the one where Mayes spoke against Fitzpatrick. Maybe in there? I’ll have to look.

      1. Nothing in the RC 1883 Minutes and Evidence about it either.

        1. So can we say with justification that it vey much looks as if Anthony Strahan was verballed by Quinn and Kelly, and police hierarchy fell for it?

          Another person falls victim to Ned Kellys remarkable ability to have his lies believed….and its still happening today!

          You have to hand it to the guy, when it came to persuasion and manipulation of other people he had a prodigious talent. Shame he used to for evil and not good.

          1. Not sure about that yet; as I just posted below, there is a case for the alleged threat being made before SBC but not conveyed to the gang until after it. Kelly had it in for Strahan anyway, as Strahan had helped arrest his mother as well as being in the Kelly hunt. There was according to the Quinn affadavit a 100 pound reward for the Kelly brothers; so before SBC. If as Lachlan Strahan says Anthony had a hot temper and firey way with words, maybe he did make some kind of threat in the heat of the moment; but there is no indication that he ever acted outside of his legal authority or in an illegal manner when doing his duty. He never even verballed anyone to get a false conviction as far as can be seen. Quinn was part of the totally unreliable criminal class who would lag their mates for money, for revenge, or at some other crooks’s request, as the clan history shows many times. A degree of exaggeration is to be expected, even if te shooting threat was made. The elaboration seems too unlikely to be true.

  7. As Sharon noted in that old post (but I couldn’t re-find the post again now), Molony in his ‘I am Ned Kelly’ p. 120 says about Strahan, “Before his departure [with the second search party] he met Pat Quinn who offered to lead him and his party to the hideout of the Kelly brothers provided he was assured that Strahan would not shoot them. ‘If I come across them I’ll shoot them like dogs,’ replied Strahan and Ned’s confidence in immunity from being slaughtered by well-meaning policemen was not strengthened when he heard of those ominous words.”

    Molony’s reference for this says “See affidavit of Patrick Quinn of Greta in the Argus, 10 November 1880. Superintendent James in a letter to John Sadleir, 24 June 1989, confirms this story and remarks that Strahan’s threat ‘would, in a measure, account for the murder of the police … Strahan’s ill-judged speech caused the mischief, H 2909, L.C.S.L.V.”

    What can we make of this? I think Molony is “doing a Molony” here. Molony takes some source material, then writes it up to smear the police in a sneering, condescending tone; and he does this throughout his book. He also specialises in selective presentation of evidence, again throughout his book. One must remember that he is not writing a biography of Kelly; he is deliberately writing what he claims is an attempt at an autobiography; what Kelly would have said about his own life if he had been able to do so. It is not a work of history; it is a biased biography intended to vindicate Kelly. Readers should read his introduction to learn this if they don’t know it.

    Molony’s first step is to reference the Argus affidavit. Here we find Quinn’s claim that Strahan came to see him “about two or three days prior to the shooting of the police”, when the alleged threat was made. He says that Strahan said there was a 100 pound reward; when Quinn said he didn’t want it, Strahan allegedly said that he “would like to keep some of it”, impugning Strahan’s character. It was then that Quinn said the shoot like a dog threat was made; further, that Strahan said he would then place a second revolver by Kelly’s side and swear that he had it on him when Strahan shot him”.

    How likely is this? There was nothing like this in Strahan’s character, ever, as the Justice in Kelly Country biography abundantly demonstrates. If any such words were ever uttered – and it seems unlikely, certainly in that elaborated form – Lachlan seems correct to say it would have been said in a fit of temper, never an intention. But the key issue here is the date, a few days before Stringybark Creek.
    Suppose the threat was said; and suppose it was promptly conveyed to the Kellys. Ned Kelly was aware of the police presence at least one day before the murders. If he knew that intention, and suspected the police were a hit squad, why did the gang not slip away? There is little logic to a plan to stick up police believed to be armed in an attempt to grab their weapons and horses.

    To return to Molony, he said Supt James’ letter to Sadleir “confirms” Quinn’s story. Does it? James writes that he is drawing on information given by Quinn to the Royal Commission; but it does not appear in the Minutes and Evidence or Progress Reports (unless anyone else can find it; I couldn’t). James then says he used that to “infer” that Quinn caused the Kellys to be informed of the search and that Strahan’s threat ‘would, in a measure, account for the murder of the police’. This is only an inference that James drew from a source we can’t find. Molony didn’t find it either; and it is at odds with McIntyre’s observation that he didn’t think the Kellys were out to kill the police from the first; and with Kelly saying nothing about Strahan’s threat even in the heat of the moment at SBC after he had killed Lonigan and Strahan was being discussed. But that doesn’t stop Molony from saying that James’ letter “confirms” Quinns’ affidavit.

    Molony next quotes the last line from James’ letter, that “Strahan’s ill-judged speech caused the mischief”. That is not evidence. That is an opinion, and one not consistent with the above facts. Suppose now that the threat was made by Strahan two or three days before SBC, but that it was not conveyed to the Kellys until after SBC. Quinn says in his affidavit that Strahan made the threat prior to SBC, and that Quinn then said he wouldn’t help Strahan to find them. Quinn continues, “The next thing I heard was the shooting of the police at the Wombat.”
    Quinn does not say anything about his conveying the threat to the Kellys before SBC. Ned Kelly did not mention any such threat at the time in his dialogue with McIntyre; not did any others of the Gang mentions any such outrageous threat. And yet Kelly railed about it in the Jerilderie letter a couple of months later.

    I suggest that Molony has drawn a false conclusion about then timeline by “doing a Molony” in his analysis. His prejudices have led him to smear the police from a selective presentation of the source evidence and leaping to an incorrect conclusion. Many have followed this same approach, but they have perhaps strayed from the bridle trail.

    My conclusion at this point is that even if the threat was uttered before SBC, it was not conveyed to the Kelly gang until after SBC. That appears to fit better with the source material.

  8. Sharon Hollingsworth says: Reply

    Interesting observations and findings. It sounds like James when writing to Sadleir in 1898 got slightly confused and was thinking that the 1880 witness statement (signed or not, or true or not, but funny how statements that don’t fit an agenda are considered to be perjury!) with the shoot like dogs wording was from Quinn’s 1881 RC testimony. It just blended together in his mind. Still, it does not negate what he felt was the go. Who knows what conversations in the long interval between 1880/81 and 1898 he might have had with fellow officers and the general consensus was? If I were Quinn and heard that damning statement from Strahan I would nearly burst until I was able to run and spread the word to everyone else very quickly. Molony could have been right (or maybe not, we will never know on this side of the veil).  Also remember what Steele said about Strahan in the RC? Makes it sound like he would just about say anything to anybody—– 
    “9111. Do you know constables Flood and Strahan?—Yes.9112. Have you any reason to believe there is the slightest truth that the Kelly family have suffered insult from those men—the female branches of it?—I could not say, not of my own knowledge. Strahan is rather a gruff man; he says some queer things to people, that might annoy them, but I think it is more a jesting manner. He has made some remarks, I believe, but not with any bad motive.”
    Also, the blog post where the shoot like dogs was talked about and discussed in 2014/15 was the body straps one. If you do link it, be aware that there is lots of bashing of me, you, Bill D, and others as the Toad under another name showed up but it is definitely him. He is still singing the same tune 7 years later!

    1. What a pity Strahan wasn’t called to give testimony at the RC. As far as I can tell from the book, Strahan isnt recorded anywhere as having a provided a response to this allegation about what he was supposed to have said – but obviously he would have been asked about it if he had been at the RC .
      Is it too much of a stretch to say the whole thing was invented ? – I guess so. But the trouble is all we have is the Quinn/Kelly version of what happened.
      But Sharon I wasnt saying if the affidavit was unsigned it means it was perjury – I was really just asking why he didnt sign it…one possibility would be he didnt want to perjure himself. It just does seem very odd to me that at the RC he didnt mention this aspect of his relationship with Strahan ….maybe he thought if he mentioned it then they would call Strahan and the truth would then come out…so he kept quiet about it?? I dont know …the whole thing is very dodgy – which of course is what Patrick Quinn was, a very dodgy character…he went to gaol for four years earlier in the decade for bashing Cst Hall so had no love for police.
      Great discussion guys!

  9. Hi Sharon, thanks for highlighting that RC reference by Steele to Strahan as a gruff man who said some queer things to people; I haven’t come across that yet in Lachlan Strahan’s book but then I’m still going through it; but Lachlan does make a number of comments about his ancestors hot words to people including to some of his superior officers. Then again, Steele there concurs with Lachlan on thinking that Strahan had no bad motive in the things that he said.

    James might have heard the story about Strahan’s “shoot like a dog” words that were relayed by Quinn’s affidavit in the Argus in 1880, whether by reading it or by mention of it by others, and years later incorrectly recalled the source he remembered it from as being the RC?

    But either way Molony seems to have gone to far in claiming that the two statements cited in his footnote support the conclusion in his text that the alleged words were spoken before SBC and in any way confirm James’s opinion that these words contributed to the murders at SBC; because of the timeline reflecting other evidence that I have proposed here involving the statements of both McIntyre and Kelly himself. Additionally there is no recorded comment by any of his captives on many occasions who collectively listened to him for many many hours, of that allegation being repeated by Kelly; nor by any others of the Gang, let alone in a context of what transpired at SBC.

    Lots of claims by Kelly that the police set out to murder him; but only one rant (in the Jerilderie letter) where he mentioned the words alleged to have been said by Strahan.

    I’m leaning towards some words like that being said to Quinn in a temper by Strahan, and before SBC, but not being relayed by him to Kelly until some point after SBC, and potentially after the Euroa letter of mid-December where that threat doesn’t appear (although his claim that the police were out to murder him does) but before the Jerilderie letter where the allegation about Strahan’s words is explicit.

    Kelly being something of a bumkin seems to have thought that the police were out to kill him long before SBC because of his shooting at Fitzpatrick, as per his rant to McIntyre at SBC. He expected no justice because he was too thick to realise that he could have turned himself in, in company with a solicitor or indeed any witness, even a relative or journalist, at any point after the Fitzpatrick incident and get a trial for that over with rather than go on a hopeless bush escapade with its inevitable eventual bad end. Yes he would have got gaol, but he deserved it and wasn’t willing to face that.

  10. Hi David, I can’t guess why Gaunson would have brought Quinn along to the Premier with an unsigned affidavit unless it was done at the absolute last minute. I assume what Berry said then that it was too late and would need to have been presented at latest at the trial is correct. Having been told that, there would have been no point in Quinn going ahead and signing it. That doesn’t explain why Gaunson didn’t get Quinn to sign it before they headed for the Premier’s office. Wanting to make a show of a public signing? Gaunson self-aggrandising again? Who knows.

  11. Sharon Hollingsworth says: Reply

    Some interesting points all around. If there is a rock, one of us is gonna flip it over to see what is under it, that is for sure. At least we are not throwing rocks at each other! 🙂  Like with so many Kelly things, we may never know the complete story or the correct timing or the true motivations of the players involved. But it is fun to speculate, regardless. Anyway, was just thinking about the RC quote about Strahan and Flood and possible insults to the Kelly women. I would not put it past Strahan to have tossed some blustery remarks their way. Also, Perhaps the police did not want Strahan to be interviewed by the Royal Commission as it seems the case with him is – ‘what comes up, comes out’. Being that Standish said of him that he was a “blathering fellow” there might be some truth to it. 

    1. Hi Sharon, agree we can’t time travel and learn everything (but it would be fun to be a fly on the wall for lots of this stuff), but if we can avoid inventing anything that isn’t backed by direct evidence we’ll get as close as anyone can to what happened. The RC line you quoted from Steele does seem to lend support to this, when he says about insults to the Kelly women that he had nothing from his own knowledge, but Strahan was a gruff man, and then “He has made some remarks I believe, but not with any bad motive.” That suggests he had heard that Strahan did make some insults – the subject of the question. Steele’s words seem to be saying that speaking roughly was just part of Strahan’s typical manner. Have you got a copy of the Justice book? I’m still reading mine. Do you or anyone know if Lachlan Strahan addresses that specifically?

  12. Sharon Hollingsworth says: Reply

    Stuart, no, I don’t have the book yet. Am waiting for the price to go down a bit. Here on Amazon it is $30.99 with free shipping or $29.44 Kindle. I find the kindle price shocking. Even the used print ones are just over $27 shipped. That is a lot of cans of cat food. That is how I judge a purchase. lol It is on my wish list so I check it daily for any price fluctuations. Have already checked other sites like abe and they are along the same lines.

    1. Hi Sharon, that’s outrageous for a uni publishing house. It’s AUD $32 retail paperback here with our dollar worth only about 70 US cents. Kindle should be maybe $10 at most. So much for publishing for the masses from a taxpayer funded university. Maybe a public library near you could order it in.

      I am making lots of notes as I go and will organise it into a review over the next couple of weeks. Will be sure to look out for this controversy!

  13. From Ned Kelly’s Jerilderie letter pp. 26-28, “heard how the Police used to be blowing that they would not ask me to stand they would shoot me first and then cry surrender and how they used to rush into the house upset all the milk dishes break tins of eggs empty the flour out of the bags on to the ground and even the meat out of the cask and destroy all the provisions and shove the girls in front of them into the rooms like dogs so as if anyone was there they would shoot the girls first … Superintendent Smith used to say to my sisters, see all the men I have out today I will have as many more tomorrow and we will blow him into pieces as small as paper that is in our guns Detective Ward and Constable Hayes took out their revolvers and threatened to shoot the girls and children in Mrs Skillions absence…..”

    There is no mention of Strahan in this rant. But Kelly has a serious complaint here, whether exaggerated or not. I have skimmed Lachlan Strahan’s middle chapters ‘Over the Edge’ and ‘A few words’, as well as using the index to seek any likely mentions of this complaint about teh treatment of Kelly’s sisters with no success so far. David, did you notice if Lachlan has dealt with this anywhere? If Lachlan has not addressed it, that would seem an unfortunate oversight given Kelly’s statement on p. 33 about SBC that he took Lonigan “to be Strachan the man who said he would not ask me to stand he would shoot me first like a dog”.

    The first statement about shooting without crying surrender in the context of a general rant about harsh treatment of his sisters by the police suggests that if Strahan made the “shoot like a dog” comment, that is was not made at the Kelly house, or Kelly would have lumped Strahan’s name in with the other named police (Smith, Ward, and Hayes) he accused of aggressively raiding the Kelly house. Even if Strahan was not one of the police accused by Ned of aggressive conduct at the Kelly house, this complaint needs to be addressed – even potentially justified – when reviewing the Kelly hunt.

    Can it be justified? Before SBC the Kelly brothers were wanted for involvement on a charge of attempted murder. After SBC they and others were wanted for murder. Emptying flour bags and tipping meat from a cask would be reasonable search actions when looking for revolvers or ammunition. Destroying provisions would be reasonable given that the police knew Maggie and possibly Kate were running supplies into the bush for the fugitives. Such actions were also likely to draw the Kelly brothers home while the police were watching the place. Pushing one of the family in front or a searcher while entering rooms during a search is harsh but understandable given armed fugitives from that family, especially after outlawry; which suggests that ths actions complained of date after SBC. The claim that the police threatened the Kelly “girls and children” with shooting them makes no sense in any context including to frighten them and lacks any credibility. Neither Maggie or Kate (or Grace), or in later life Ellen Kelly, made any such claim.

  14. Sharon Hollingsworth says: Reply

    Here is an interesting article from 1879 where Kate Kelly allegedly tells some visitors who stopped by about the police and their attentions to the family. Strahan is not mentioned by name but it sure seems they were under constant surveillance and were routinely bothered. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/246225030

    1. Hi Sharon, a very interesting article from shortly before the Jerilderie raid. Although it gives the Fitzpatrick outrage claim in rather vague terms, and which was later denied, there is nothing about the police trashing the Kelly hut food supplies or pushing the girls in front of them when searching the place, even though the interviewer says that Kate said she more than once goaded police into searching the house. Some dubious claims about sympathisers given that one of the travellers said he had a prior slight acquaintance with Kate; how would this be? And despite resenting being watched, she also described this vaguely as protection. Some puzzles in there I think.

  15. Sharon Hollingsworth says: Reply

    Here is my review of Justice in Kelly Country. I put it at the facebook page but figured some like Stuart Dawson don’t do facebook. Am looking forward to his review of the book also. Sure it will be more scholarly than mine! 🙂 http://elevenmilecreek.blogspot.com/2023/03/book-review-my-thoughts-on-lachlan.html

    1. As I expected, your review is very fair and a good read. Those coppers had a tough life . We seem to be in agreement abut the Book and the Man.

    2. Hi Sharon, a nice review you did there and yes, I don’t have Facebook because of the data scandal(s) which means I don’t trust them and never will. It’s taking me longer than I expected to write up a review as I have had a country trip for work thrown in the middle (and yes, I did go through Glenrowan), plus I ran into some serious issues with LS’s treatment of Fitzpatrick stuff and some other points. But I am soldiering on. I agree with all you said about great readability and about it taking a while to get to the Kelly part, and as you and David both said, it is best described as a biography of Anthony Strahan, not a Kelly book. Still, the discussion of whether or not Strahan uttered those words to Quinn, that he’d shoot Kelly like a dog and put a revolver next to the body, is valuable just in putting the spotlight on that allegation and being the first to really get into it. To be continued…

      And my review will only be more “scholarly” in the limited sense of giving page numbers for anything I take issue with. It may go on a bit as I have several points already to source check and write up.

  16. Reader survey: Lachlan’s book spends about two and a half pages = 7 long paragraphs of his book on the Fitzpatrick incident (pp. 186-188) and makes a dreadful mess of it.

    How many paragraphs should I spend critiquing this in a review?

    A) as many as I like

    B) about the same length

    C) the school test answer when you don’t know

    D) not much, it’s only a small part of the book

  17. Sharon Hollingsworth says: Reply

    Stuart, take all the space you need to critique the book and that section of it. One wonders if he had access to your Redeeming Patrick e-book while doing research?

    1. Hi Sharon, thanks, will do! And yes, Redeeming Fitz is in the bibliography. BTW my paperback copy does have the certificate of appreciation given to Anthony Strahan in the inside back cover. Would you like me to scan and upload it?

  18. Sharon Hollingsworth says: Reply

    Yes, please, would like to see it. Must not be in the American copies? lol

  19. Hi Sharon, experimenting with the upload; a 3MB file

  20. Sharon Hollingsworth says: Reply

    Thanks, Stuart, that came through. Wow, that is really nice. (Still wondering why I don’t see it in my book?)

  21. Sharon Hollingsworth says: Reply

    Ok, have figured it out. On the copyright page it says “Printed in Australia” BUT on the very last of the end pages at the back of the book it says “Printed in the USA.” So, then, down under you get the image and up here we don’t. Wonder if it is some kind of print on demand thing here?

  22. Hi Sharon, I think that’s terrible considering the US$ price when our dollar is worth under .70 US cents. How cheapskate-ish! They should send you a full colour print of the certificate if you demand it nicely!!

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