Another look at Kate Kelly: a response to Dr. Dawson’s review : Guest Post By David Dufty

This isn’t a review, but a response to one.

Dr Stuart Dawson wrote a scathing review of Kate Kelly by Rebecca Wilson, firing within me the primordial defence mechanism of one author seeing another author under attack. I wrote a long response to that review, which grew so long that I’ve asked the proprietor of this website to post it as a standalone article, which you’re now reading.


I’m not mounting a full-throated defence of Wilson. Our perspectives differ too much for that, and anyway much of what Dawson says is valid. It’s more of a call for balance. Dawson is right on many points, but overall his review of Kate Kelly is too harsh.



Many of his criticisms can be boiled down to one core problem: Wilson accepted the mainstream view of Ned Kelly as canonical. Ian Jones was neither the first, nor last, author to promote the Kelly myth, but as he was the most significant, we could call this Kelly-hero view of history the Jones Version. Wilson was clearly unaware of works by Dawson such as Ned Kelly and the Myth of a Republic of North-Eastern Victoria,  Redeeming Fitzpatrick, and others, which attack the Kelly mythology head-on. It must be frustrating to have painstakingly dismantled the Republic myth, only to see it pop up unscathed in yet another book.


Dawson is right on numerous points of issue in Kate Kelly when it comes to Ned and the gang. For example, I agree with him that Constable Fitzpatrick was not drunk when he visited the Kelly home on that fateful day in 1878, and that Kate had nothing to do with his reasons for visiting. I agree that Constable McIntyre’s testimony was not unreliable, and that Ned Kelly’s aspirations to found a Republic of North Eastern Victoria are a fiction. All of these ‘facts’ – Fitzpatrick being drunk, and so on – are part of the standard Jones Version, repeated and propagated by numerous writers, Wilson included.



I didn’t address it in my book, Nabbing Ned Kelly, but, like Dawson, I also consider the standard portrayal of Justice Redmond Barry to be wide of the mark. Contrary to popular opinion, Barry didn’t railroad Ned’s trial toward a guilty verdict, nor did he have a grudge against Ned or his family. What is almost never mentioned is that, for his time, Barry had progressive credentials. He was the judge who, a quarter of a century earlier, dismissed the treason charges against the Eureka rebels, and who worked pro bono for aboriginal defendants. His heart was not entirely of stone.



Yet Ian Jones put much effort into caricaturing Justice Barry as a pompous, sadistic villain. He had to, because a pillar of the mythology is that Ned Kelly shot Constable Lonigan in self- defence, so Jones needed to explain the ‘guilty’ verdict. If Ned hadn’t committed murder, why did the jury think he had? Because of the evil Kelly-hating judge, that’s why! It’s full of holes, but Jones’ take on Justice Barry has stuck. Here again, Wilson has gone with the Jones Version, and I agree with Dawson that it’s wrong.



On the other hand, she’s far from alone in this: almost all books on the topic present a jaundiced view of the judge, including Grantlee Kieza’s Mrs Kelly (which I don’t mean to single out; I mention it only because Dawson contrasts it favourably with Kate Kelly in his review). On page 370, Kieza cites the opinion of no less than Queens Counsel Julian Burnside that Ned “was inadequately represented, the only eye-witness was not adequately challenged [and] a viable case of self-defence was not properly developed”. The Barry-bashing view has some serious heft, but I’m with Dawson on this. The jury found Ned guilty because it was patently obvious that he was.



Wilson said in her preface that she had been researching Kate Kelly for ‘over a decade’ – and perhaps here’s the issue. That would explain much, because if so, she began researching in 2010 or before, when John Moloney and Ian Jones were both still alive, Peter Fitzsimons’ Ned Kelly was yet to be released, and the Kelly myth was ascendant. The ground has shifted since then.



But Wilson was primarily interested in reconstructing Kate’s story, not Ned’s. On this she did much better, piecing together a picture of someone who has not previously received much attention.



I don’t agree with Dawson’s criticism of the portrayal of Hugh McDougall, a fringe character in the Kelly drama about whom little is known. Wilson claims to have discovered original source material to back up her account, and I understand that she has connections in the Forbes area. She is therefore entitled to make these claims, which don’t impact the wider Kelly narrative or provide questionable support for Kelly myths.



Wilson’s description of the Kelly family home irritated Dawson but it seemed okay to me. After all, the building was most likely ‘ramshackle’ and we know that it was frequented by insalubrious types. Wilsons claim that local police were paid off is also reasonable. Ned himself tried to bribe Constable Fitzpatrick, suggesting that he had done it before.


The first generation of Victorian police was replete with incompetent, corrupt alcoholics, many of whom were either former convict guards or former convicts. There were efforts to reform the force from the early 1850s onwards, efforts which accelerated following public outrage about the Eureka Rebellion, and the appalling police actions there. By the time of the Kelly Gang, most of the rotten old guard had either retired or had been pushed out, and the force was in much better shape (though still with ongoing problems, as became evident). The Kellys and their associates understood the old guard, and for them, back in the early days, bribing a constable might have been standard practice.


But back to Kate Kelly.


Dawson lambasts Wilson’s writing style in various ways, but I can’t get on board with that at all. It’s not helpful to do a ‘reading level’ calculation for a passage unless you’re a school librarian. There is huge variation in complexity between books, and in different sections of a book. This comes down to stylistic decisions that might depend on pacing, target audience, and content.



Personally, I enjoyed her easy-flowing, whimsical style. For example, this passage was nice:

“When she was older, Kate would take off on her horse at a moment’s notice, flying into the surrounding dense green bushland, dodging wide trees, racing through the low-lying scrub, dispersing kangaroos and wallabies. Escaping into the wild mountains, riding up hillsides and investigating caves, travelling across creeks and plunging into clear-water rivers to cool her horse were a constant joy. She would climb to granite lookouts through precarious ranges and admire the landscape below her. Breathing in the fresh air, she worked with her horseas one to navigate and traverse the land.”



On the matter of whether Kate Kelly is fiction, apparently it is ‘fictionalised biography’, a category of nonfiction that includes fictional dialogue, plausible description, and filling in of minor gaps that don’t impact the factual underpinning.


There is one more issue that I want to address, and that is the parentage of the baby Alice. My views on this are complex and not fully formed, but in sum, everyone is wrong.


Kate’s mother Ellen Kelly was arrested in April 1878 for her role in the Fitzpatrick incident, specifically for assaulting the constable with a shovel, and was locked up in Beechworth gaol for a few months. Ellen had a baby named Alice in her cell with her. Wilson claims that Alice was really Kate’s baby, and that Constable Fitzpatrick was the father.
Dawson has countered with several reasons why that could not be the case. These are strong counterarguments, although not knockout blows: the baby could have been premature, for example. We could engage in freewheeling speculation about all kinds of possibilities, including whether prostitution was still occurring under Ellen Kelly’s roof; whether Kate’s older, deceased sister Annie had previously been used as a honeytrap for Constable Flood; or whether Fitzpatrick believed, as is often asserted, that he was ‘working’ the Kelly family, and what that might entail. But mentioning these things, even in passing, is guaranteed to gettempers flared up in all directions. So let’s not go there…


The Kate-and-the-constable theory is undermined by the overblown nature of the accounts themselves. The press promoted this anonymously-sourced claim in sensational stories, culminating with Fitzpatrick’s revolver discharging during the heat of passion. It was ridiculous, but the public believed it, and Fitzpatrick’s reputation was irretrievably tarnished.


But Wilson is at least half-right. Alice was probably Kate’s baby, not Ellen’s.
The strongest contender for the father is Brickey Williamson. While informing on the gang from his prison cell in Melbourne, Brickey told a detective that he was the baby’s father.   


There is also a news report claiming that Brickey was engaged to Kate. (It doesn’t seem to have ever been cited by anyone else, so I suppose I’m the first to stumble across this). Of course, that isn’t conclusive either, because in one sense, it’s just a news report that contradicts other news reports. But on the other hand, it appeared in the regional newspaper, the Ovens & Murray Advertiser (still in print a century and a half later, by the way), which had stronger local knowledge than the Melbourne city papers. It is also matter-of-fact, and more credible than the lurid confabulations about Fitzpatrick printed elsewhere.



I don’t know for sure if Alice’s parents were Kate Kelly and Brickey Williamson, but it seems to fit. But if so, why would Ellen keep another’s baby in her prison cell?


Two possibilities spring to mind:  First, the women’s section of Beechworth gaol had one cell that was better than the rest. It was larger, and it had access to a private garden. That was the cell for inmates with babies. Because she had Alice with her, Ellen was placed in that nice, large cell with a garden, instead of the squalid little airless cells with the other inmates. Second, according to news reports, the baby was a factor in Ellen making bail. You may retort that the Kellys surely wouldn’t put a baby in prison with Ellen just so she could get the nice cell then make bail. Maybe not, but I wouldn’t rule it out. This is all conjecture.


The claim about Baby Alice is Wilson’s biggest departure from Kelly orthodoxy. My complaint is that she didn’t go far enough. Clearly, questions about the child bothered her, and satisfactory answers were nowhere to be found, so she developed her own theory.


But what do we know, anyway? I would like someone to provide solid evidence that the baby was on the premises during the Fitzpatrick Incident, or  the subsequent arrests? Constable Fitzpatrick made no mention of a baby, and Sergeant Steele testified at the Royal Commission that Ellen had no baby with her when he arrested her. He was asked specifically about the baby, and he replied that there was no baby.


Another thing: Wilson – and literally everyone else in Kelly world – asserts that Alice was “three days old” on the day of Fitzpatrick’s visit. What’s the source for that claim? I’m genuinely curious. I have a copy of the birth registration for Alice May King (the only name that seems to match in the Victorian records), but it states that she was born in Melbourne on 16 September 1878, six months later, so it’s not the same person. I can’t find a matching birth record anywhere.



The facts surrounding baby Alice are murky and questionable, like so much in the world of Ned Kelly. I side-stepped the issue in Nabbing Ned Kelly, viewing it as a distraction (for my work at least; obviously, it was more central for Wilson). There were already more than enough inconsistencies and mysteries surrounding the Kelly Gang. It astounds me that, for one of the most chronicled events in Australian history, it is still so hard to find bedrock.


David Dufty

(Visited 713 times)

58 Replies to “Another look at Kate Kelly: a response to Dr. Dawson’s review : Guest Post By David Dufty”

  1. Hi David, thanks for your review of the review. I had been saving that O&M article about Alice being Kate and Williamson’s baby for a rainy day, but thanks for mentioning Brickey’s gaol statement as well. I’ll check that one tonight and get back to you here.

  2. Hi David D, I’m back. It took a while to find that memo of Brickey’s suggestions to catch the Kelly gang, of 11 January 1879; it is here, VPRS 4965 Con 2 Unit 1 Item 34. It says, “I believe that the secret of the power which Williamson has over Mrs Kelly is that he is the father of the child which she now has with her” [in in gaol]. Why can’t people just put VPRS numbers in posts? I don’t get paid for research, you know! There is one small slip in your review of my review, where you said that Wilson was clearly unaware of my ‘Redeeming Fitzpatrick’ article amongst other pieces; but that article is listed in her bibliography, which was the main cause of my frustration. As for the Republic myth, if anyone googles ‘republic of north eastern Victoria’ or ‘republic of north east Victoria’ they get 6 or 7 listings of my book on the first page of google results either way, so very basic research not done.

    It may be that Wilson was primarily interested in reconstructing Kate’s story, not Ned Kelly’s; but the context of that narrative is necessarily the Kelly outbreak; just as it is for Kieza’s ‘Mrs Kelly’. Wilson pushes Kate’s role in that, yet historically it is arguably Maggie who provided the overwhelming majority of female support for the gang on the run especially after she hooked up with TLJ; and not Kate, regardless of newspaper fictions and popular enthusiasms. Someone (maybe Hare?) says as much somewhere. You suggest the “the claim that local police were paid off is reasonable”. No; where is the evidence that Greta police Thom and Hayes were ever bribed? It is an outrageous slur on the majority of the police of those days who like Constable Strahan did a remarkable job in a sprawling colony, regardless of Thom and Hayes’ apparently sloppy approach to ironing their uniforms. Without any evidence, even newspaper suggestions of the day or letters to the editor alleging corruption by Thom, Hayes, or others in that district, it is nonsense. The claim that “Ned himself tried to bribe Constable Fitzpatrick, suggesting that he had done it before”, is also nonsense, especially with its implication that Fitzpatrick took bribes. Will Fitzpatrick’s perfidy never end in the mind of Kelly authors? Fitzpatrick testified that Ned tried to bribe him during the Fitzpatrick incident; he could have shut up about that bit. But he didn’t. All that was about was a desperate Kelly trying it on. Nothing anywhere suggests Fitzpatrick ever took bribes and the Lancefield testimonials stand strongly against it. Also, there is nothing in common between the old 1850s and earlier military-style policing and the London Met approach that was introduced and embedded by the Kelly days; Sadleir talks about this at length in his Recollections.

    What is this about ‘fictionalised biography’ as “a category of non-fiction that includes fictional dialogue, plausible description, and filling in of minor gaps that don’t impact the factual underpinning”. Is that what we have here? A filling in of minor gaps that don’t impact the factual underpinning? No; you could drive a semi through the renderings of the Fitzpatrick incident and SBC.

    Historical fiction is a genre in which it is made clear by an author from the start that the narrative to be read is fictional. An example is the Amelia Peabody murder-mystery books series by Elizabeth Peters, set in late nineteenth-century Egypt and based around the adventures of a family of archaeologists. Their exploration of ruins is continually stalked and disrupted by the archaeologist’s murderous half-brother who lusts after Amelia, with a wealth of convoluted sub-plots. The author is an Egyptologist and her historical fiction benefits greatly from that: “Dastardly deeds, whirlwind romances, curious mummies and all the fun and intrigue of Egyptian excavations, with a heroine who wields a parasol rather than a magnum”, enthused the Guardian. As I observed in my review, and in my comments and publisher’s page screenshot below it, that is not the case with ‘Kate Kelly’, which is listed and advertised by the publisher as historical biography. The publisher’s website states that “Rebecca Wilson is the first to uncover the full story of Kate Kelly’s tumultuous life”; it nowhere mentions fiction, not even historical fiction. Regardless that its text is not annotated, there is a lengthy categorised bibliography occupying many pages at the back, together with the statement that her book will comprise “creative writing combined with historical research”, on the basis of which the reader might reasonably expect a fact-based narrative, not a work of fiction. Certainly I did not expect blatant contradictions of well-documented historical events.

    I gather you said that Carey should not have titled his Kelly novel ‘True history of the Kelly gang’. I agree; but there are significant differences between that and what we are discussing here. Carey’s ‘True history’ came out in the year 2000, long before I had paid any attention to the Kelly story. It is significant that Ian Jones’ 1995 ‘Short Life’ was the dominant history of the Kelly gang at that time; and as Carey acknowledged was his primary source of information: “It was [Jones’] works I turned to, almost daily, when I was lost of bewildered or simply forgetful of the facts” (Vintage edn., 477). Carey’s book is catalogued by its publisher as fiction, won the 2001 Victorian Premier’s Award for Fiction, and several other fiction awards. It was never represented as biography. Not until Ian Macfarlane’s 2012 ‘The Kelly Gang Unmasked’ was there any significant (and indeed, fatal) critique of Jones’ view of Kelly. When I finally got around to reading Carey, or as much of it as I could stomach, around 2016, I was appalled that any English department at school or university would place what to me was long-winded claptrap replete with historical nonsense on the study list. For me it was a tedious, 470-odd page expansion of the semi-literate Jerilderie letter rant, whose 56 pages of drivel and lies was more than long enough by itself. Carey’s ‘True history’ also weaves history and fiction: its last section, ‘Death of Edward Kelly’, is a close rewrite of the 1880 Herald’s description of Kelly’ hanging. Dare we suggest plagiarism and demand the recall of his fiction prizes? And there is no doubt that it misinforms its readership about much of the true history of the Kelly gang; but as I said, it was long before my time and can be comfortably ignored, at least by me, given the backward (effectively non-existent) state of critical Kelly studies published at that time. But anything, fiction or non-fiction, written about the Kelly gang post-Macfarlane, who took 1980s and 1990s historical ignorance and whimsy to task – and there are now a number of such studies – should not get off so lightly. The entire field of Kelly studies, commentary and interpretation needed to change after Macfarlane 2012, but many backwaters subsist.

    What can we say about Kate Kelly’s life that might lend itself to historical fiction? We learn from the O&M, 31 October 1878, 3, that “At the assizes the mother of the criminals, together with Skillion (a brother-in-law), and Williamson alias ‘Brickey,’ a fellow who was living with the Kellys, and was about to marry the second daughter (sister to Ned and Dan Kelly), were tried for being accomplices in the crime of attempting to murder Constable Fitzpatrick”. Of Mrs Ellen Kelly’s daughters, Annie (who had married Alex Gunn) died in 1872. The oldest surviving daughter was Maggie, then married to Willian Skillion. Going by the family tree in Corfield’s Kelly Encyclopaedia, the second then-living daughter was Kate. Kate was then 15; and William ‘Brickey’ Williamson, lodging in what was then the second (old, original) hut on the Kelly selection, was 31. What’s this? Was Brickey grooming/ sexually involved with Kate? If the O&M is right, it looks like it. As I detailed in ‘Redeeming Fitzpatrick’, there was never any relationship or ‘romance’ between Kate and Fitzpatrick; it was a fiction that Ned Kelly himself refuted in August 1880 after capture. If Kate was holding baby Alice as the fruit of her union with anyone at the time of the Fitzpatrick incident – and that is a big ‘if’ – then going by the O&M it was most likely Brickey’s. It was certainly not Fitzpatrick’s. But I digress.

    What degree of fiction is permissible in a book marketed as historical biography? The answer is obvious: as little as possible, especially given that Wilson states that she tried to tell Kate’s story “as accurately and completely as the records available permit” (p. 337). It should be as close as possible to historical fact, and any invented scenes or dialogue should be plausibly developed from sources such as newspapers or other writings of the day, of which there are plenty. As I said, some people might enjoy the expansive novelistic approach taken in Kate Kelly and they are welcome to it; but historical biography or ‘true story’ it is not. In my opinion the publisher should clearly label any reprint as fiction on the cover, immediately re-catalogue it and change its online and promotional marketing to fiction; remove the 2022 Davitt Awards ‘longlisting, best non-fiction’ from its marketing materials and website promotion, and withdraw any existing submission entries for non-fiction awards. I further think that Wilson should delete her speculations about baby Alice as the child of Kate and Fitzpatrick from her website, not include them in any reprint of Kate Kelly, acknowledge that that was a purely fictional speculation in all future interviews if that topic comes up, and acknowledge that if anything baby Alice was more likely to have been the product of a liaison between Kate and Williamson based on an additional discovered newspaper article and memo of the day.

    1. Hi Stuart, I need to start by clarifying something.
      I never intended to imply that Ned, or anyone else, had previously bribed Fitzpatrick. I simply meant, the fact that he tried raises the possibility that he had bribed another policeman at some time; or that others in his family had done so. I apologise for the misunderstanding. The chances that he had previously bribed Fitzpatrick are about zero.
      I’m sorry that I didn’t the VPRS record number for the Williamson interview. In my defence, I actually dumped everything I had about Baby Alice into a footnote in “Nabbing Ned Kelly” (Chapter 16, footnote 5, on page 370), which included that as well as the reported Brickey-Kate engagement.
      Also, I agree with you about Peter Carey’s “True History of the Kelly Gang.”
      It purports to be fiction, but in a nod-wink kind of way, because it’s clearly not completely fictional, and it strongly promotes a particular view of history. I read it twenty years ago when it was the trendy new thing to read, and I loved it back then, but I don’t think I would love it now.

      1. This comment was by me, by the way.

      2. Hi David, no worries, I took it as a suggestion that the local police in that area were susceptible to bribery because of the foregoing stuff about ex-convicts and riff-raff in the police in older times such that dodgy persons in the Kelly period might have read that susceptibility into their contemporary wallopers; but dodgys of all eras are no doubt inclined to try it on; nothing ventured, nothing gained; the old “corner of a $50 poking out the side of the wallet in a licence check” stuff.

        Don’t apologise for no VPRS number or source refs, no one normally puts that stuff in blog posts except me and Sharon! But I always wish they would…

  3. Of course, another way to read the memo about Brickey’s potentially being the father of baby Alice is that Alice was the product of him and Mrs Kelly, not Kate Kelly.

    Then again, that is speculation; what if Alice was the baby of Mrs Kelly and the vanished George King? Or was King Billy George? My brain hurts.

    Come, we have far to go; let us advance;
    So, entering, he made me enter, where
    The Pit’s first circle made circumference.
    (Dante, Hell, canto 4)

    1. Yeah, I have wondered about that angle, but I ruled it out.
      One reason is that, if there was a Brickey-Ellen relationship, it seems like there would be a big evidentiary trail already. We’d know about it. Ellen is, and always was, far more central to the story than Kate. It doesn’t seem like something that would have been overlooked; and if it was true, I reckon Ian Jones would have been all over it.
      Also, Brickey wasn’t even involved in the ‘Fitzpatrick Incident’. It was Joe Byrne, whom Fiztpatrick mistook for Brickey. The Kellys didn’t help Brickey dodge the charge. They hung him out to dry, and instead tried to save Bill Skillion. They knew that Fitzpatrick had gotten one of the identities wrong in his statement, but they lied about which one. (it’s no wonder that Brickey turned informer on them, after copping a prison sentence for something Joe Byrne had done). If Brickey was in a love affair with the matriarch, he would have had higher status within the clan and wouldn’t have been shafted.
      Third, relationships between younger men and older women were much rarer then, than they are today.
      Anything’s possible but I don’t think that Ellen and Brickey were a couple.

      1. Yes, good points about Brickey being shafted in favour of Joe; and if Brickey was the father with Ellen much more effort would logically have been made on his behalf, maybe even raising it for sympathy in his trial.
        And about Brickey being bitter and lagging.
        Back to the Brickey and Kate vs. Ellen and George theories.

        1. George King is another enigma. There are only two solid pieces of evidence that he existed: the registration of Ellen’s marriage to someone named “George King”, and Ned Kelly’s description of him in the Jerilderie Letter as a prolific horse thief. That’s it. We know nothing more.
          There’s a photograph in the Victorian national library that’s supposed to be him, but it has “Joe Byrne” scrawled on the back, so I think it’s more likely to be a picture of Joe.

          1. “Victorian national library” …. sheesh. Note to self, read what you wrote before posting.

            1. You meant SLV?

          2. So this Joe Byrne character mistaken for Brickey wasnt George was it? Nobody seems to know when he disappeared but could it have been after this?

            1. I don’t think so. I think it was Byrne. I’ve expressed skepticism about King and his purported role, and in the intro to “Nabbing Ned Kelly”, stated that there wasn’t enough known about him to even include him in the narrative, thereby dispensing with him from the rest of the book entirely.
              But on the other hand, Brickey was early thirties and King was supposedly in his thirties, so you could make the case that it would be easier to confuse them with each other than with the younger men. So I guess it’s possible. But if so, what then?
              The whole thing becomes so massively scrutinised after Fitzpatrick, and there are mountains of documents and various eyewitness accounts, with no sign of George anywhere. That’s why I think he was already long gone.

  4. Bravo!
    Some good points you make about baby Alice. However not so sure about the prostitution quote; although you clearly state speculation. What do you mean that prostitution was “still occurring under Ellen Kelly’s roof”?
    Would love to learn more on this if you care to elaborate further?

    1. Hi Amigo, although you were asking David D, I can contribute Kieza’s Mrs Kelly book, page 137 about Jane Graham, who stayed sometimes at the Kelly’s and rode astride rather than sidesaddle, he says, with a reference to the Greta Watch House log book. The context being sly grog shanties common association with gambling and prostitution. See also pages 139-140.

      1. Thanks Stuart. As I mentioned elsewhere, I’m in the process of moving, and most of my “Kelly” books are packed in boxes so can’t dive into these things as deeply as I’d like.
        I recall that in Ian McFarlane’s “Kelly Gang Unmasked”, McFarlane stated outright that Jane Graham was a prostitute, and also that there’s a record stating as much in the local magistrate’s log book.
        Eleven mile creek was a common rest point between Melbourne and Beechworth before the rail line went in, with gambling, grog, and somewhere to sleep all available to travellers. It isn’t much of a stretch to claim there were other services.
        I wouldn’t judge Ellen Kelly for it, if so. Ellen was a battler with a dud selection and lots of kids: she had to make a living somehow.

        1. Thanks for the MacFarlane reference; in Kelly Gang Unmasked he says p. 41 with refs that Graham was a 21 yo prostitute who lived for a time at the Kellys, but it uncertain if she worked as such there and that local police never accused the Kelly women themselves of prostitution. But “groggery and gambling hell” seem better founded.

      2. Hello Stuart, good of you to reply.
        My initial query to David goes unanswered.
        I’ll say again
        ‘Prostitution was “still occurring under Ellen Kelly’s roof” Is there evidence of this? Was Elleen or Jane charged for prostitution?

        In regards to pp.137
        It refers to Jane as being a ‘Loose woman’ however it doesn’t exactly mean she was a prostitute nor do I believe she was charged for prostiution or was she?
        If I’m not mistaken ‘Loose woman’ is female with many casual sexual partners, a Slut to be more precise. At one stage Eleen Kelly was also referred too as a loose women. So does that make her a prostitute also? I don’t think there is enough evidence to tag Jane as a prostitute.


        1. Hi Amigo, your request to “elaborate further” was answered by both Stuart and myself.
          “I don’t think there is enough evidence to tag Jane as a prostitute.” I disagree.

          1. Anonymous says: Reply

            Hello David, thanks for getting back to me.
            I fail to see how both you and Stuart answered my query.
            David, enlighten me as to how and why you disagree for not tagging Jane as a hooker.
            By the way I’m not being obnoxious, I’m just simply trying to understand your thought process and the facts.


            1. You asked to “elaborate further”, and it has been elaborated further. Your questions may well be in good faith, but you’re asking us to put in work; producing reasons, sources, and so on. It’s very easy for others to sit back and demand more and more rigorous evidence, without doing anything themselves.
              In fact, there’s a certain category of troll that specializes in this. I’m not saying that you’re a troll, but the point is that I’ve been burned and I’m sure Stuart has too.
              I have learned not to dance to that tune.
              If you’re offended by a line in my article, so be it.

        2. Amigo, you need to get your horse out and do the homework we have pointed you to. I told you both authors gave references. This is not a research assistant help desk. But because I’m feeling magnanimous (that is to say, I feel like drinking a magnum), Macfarlane’s reference for stating Graham was a prostitute is the Greta Watch-house book: 1870-1882: Victoria Police Historical Colection (9); the same source that Keiza used which I gave above; except that Macfarlane gives you the page number as well. Now off you go. Please don’t waste any more of our time just because you can’t be bothered lifting a finger.

          1. So Stuart, how does one get hold of the Greta Watch House book? Please remember we arent all historians living in Melbourne, with access to the Police Museum or the SLV and the PROV. Try as we might, negotiating websites and on-line search engines isnt always straight forward.

            1. David, I can answer that. They’re in the Victorian archives, in Melbourne. I went there and browsed through them, because I wanted a few additional bits and pieces for some of the early episodes, particularly relating to Jeremiah McCormack, Constable Hall, and Constable Flood. The stuff that had been published in previous books didn’t leave me completely satisfied.
              Be warned, they are very thick books and there are many of them. They’re not indexed, although each one is labelled. It’s an ocean of cursive notes. Make sure you allow plenty of time.
              I allocated a full day there, but ran out of time, and didn’t find everything I wanted, but I got most of the stuff I was hoping for. I had a sore neck by the end of it, having spent hours hunched over those ancient tomes taking photos.

              1. Thanks David. You mean theyre in the PROV? Ive never been there but went once to the Mitchell library and they retrieved some old texts for me . It was really quite exciting to touch the original documents…

                In regard to Amigo, Ive encountered him before and he is not a troll but asked a genuine question I was asking myself to be honest…

                Labelling someone a prostitute is a heavy thing to do, so I think we ought to be sure of our facts , and not just jump to conclusions from some ambiguous information.

                Having said that I think its fair to describe Ellen Kelly as a ‘loose woman’ . For a supposed Catholic she had a very fluid kind of sexual morality …

                1. Yes, they’re in PROV, but not digitised. And yes, there’s a special thrill in finding original documents. The older and more obscure, the bigger the thrill.

                  Regarding Jane Graham, Ian McFarlane cited a police log book, stating that Jane Graham was a prostitute. I didn’t locate that entry myself, but I trust that he didn’t make it up.
                  If Amigo or anyone else wants to disprove the claim, they can visit PROV and look for counter-evidence, but otherwise, it’s “case closed” for Jane.

                  1. That was my point in giving Amigo the reference, twice in fact , to two books with the page numbers, and why I thought I was then being trolled; but I shouldn’t have been rude about it.

          2. Anonymous says: Reply

            Stuart, how dare you speak to me with such a tone. I have been respectful to say the least. In respect for the Good Doctor I’ll leave it at that.
            I clearly hear the echo of Fitzy uttering those words (your mate the toad) ring true.
            I know the research files/docs your refer me too and I guess I see things differently

            Tequila in hand and adiós from me

            1. Quite right, Amigo, I apologise unreservedly. That was quite rude of me.

  5. Anonymous says: Reply

    Hello all
    I do not have a lot to add to this conversation other than to clear up some references.
    David (Dufty), just to be clear it was the Fifteen Mile Creek settlement that was the resting point for travellers along the road from Melbourne, which was indeed once the road to Sydney. The Eleven Mile Creek ( which was once the Ten Mile Creek on early maps) was never a ‘settlement’ nor town, but rather between Winton and Greta on the main road

    There was a staging post there and an inn, earlier even than the Goldseekers Inn that the Lloyd brothers brought their wives (Quinn sisters) and families to in the mid 1860’s. This inn was built by Ambrose Holway (various spellings) and was later used as a wine shanty by the Lloyd wives when their husbands were sent to Pentridge for 5 years each in 1865.

    Interestingly, just over six months later in 1866, the properties were put up for sale by the Sherriff’s Office. What is interesting about that? Well the townspeople of Wangaratta and Greta took up a petition to have the sale withdrawn, saying that there were fourteen children who would be homeless. It is reported in the Ovens and Murray Advertiser that the petition was successful and that the property was placed in the hands of the ‘trustee’ – which to my mind was most likely the mortgage holder. We know that the Lloyd families remained in the property and time went on.

    In relation to Jane Graham – the Greta Watch House book states her occupation as ‘prostitute’ when the charges for stealing a saddle were taken on 5 November 1872. Jane’s age is given as 21, and Ellen Kelly is noted as ‘widow’ and aged 40. The women’s case was heard in Benalla as we know.

    Ernest Flood was the Officer who logged the charges.

    The watchbook record is from the Victorian Police Historical Collection (1970-1882) and is from the Victoria Police Museum – I have some digitised copies as part of my research for Greta Policing. The Watchbook is by no means complete and I do not have the page that refers to Ellen Kelly being brought there after she was arrested in relation to the Fitzpatrick charges.


    1. Ok well I am pleased youve cleared up the issue of what Janes profession was . There are just so many labels which have been attached to people in the Kelly story that are false, which was why I wanted to know if ‘prostitute’ was another one. It does inevitably add to the perception that the Kelly shanty was a rather dodgy place…not the earnest virtuous image projected by Jones in the Last Outlaw…

  6. Noeleen Lloyd says: Reply

    Editing my previous post (I do wish that function was available).

    The Watch House records should of course read 1870– NOT 1970.


    1. Hi Noeleen, we all do typos. Thanks for the above. Do you plan to do a book at some point?

  7. I am trying to think what it is I have missed in all this : we seem to have accepted Wilsons view that the baby was not Ellens….but why?

    Is there actually a problem with believing that the traditional telling isn correct in this, that it was Ellens baby, George was the father and thats whey she took her to prison with her?

    Oh for some of those DNA tests to sort it all out…

    1. Hi David, I was just showing that Alice was no way the baby of Kate and Fitzpatrick; there was a possibility raised that she might have been the baby of Kate and Brickey Williamson based on the O&M and a guess – not any evidence – by a policeman. I also said the latter was “if anything” the latter as opposed to Alice being the baby of Ellen and George King, which given the actual consistent family history is most likely. I have no regard for Wilson’s claim that the baby was Kate’s; as far as I can see she only claimed that because of her Kate and Fitzpatrick tale. And I have said what I think about that: retract it.

      1. That came out badly: Alice was not the baby of Kate and Fitzpatrick. There was if anything a greater chance that if Alice was Kate’s baby it was by Williamson. But there is no reason to accept the latter because it seems that Alice was the baby of Ellen and George, consistent with very longstanding Kelly family history. I don’t see why this needs DNA tests, it is not CSI.

  8. Looking at the facts, I believe that the baby was Ellen’s. She would have been lactating, and prison authorities would have seen that. If the child was not hers, she would not have been lactating, and would have been quickly exposed. It is clear to me that the child was hers.
    Regarding Brickie Williamson, being mistaken for Joe Byrne, Williamson was interviewed in gaol by Chief Commissioner Standish, and stated that what Fitzpatrick said was true, and apparently gave information to Standish in support.
    I think that sometimes people, looking for facts, ignore the obvious.

    1. Sam, that’s a fair point on whether Brickey was involved, in that endorsing Fitzpatrick’s account effectively implicates himself.

      I’m not following your logic about whether Ellen would have been lactating, and whether “the prison authorities would have seen that.” Wilson claimed in her book that ‘wet nursing was common at the time’. We don’t know enough to explore that angle.

      I’m still curious about whether there is any evidence that Alice was “three days old”, or, for that matter, that her name was Alice. I’m not saying that either of these things aren’t true, but would like to see some documentation.

  9. Re baby Alice again, there have been a couple of comments about the oral history that Strahan’s wife looked after baby Alice at the Greta lockup the night following Ellen’s arrest. Steele conducted the arrest. Keiza ‘Mrs Kelly’ 546 note 15 says, “Steele told the RC that that Ellen did not take her baby with her that night despite reports many years later that she did” Q.8824.

    Steele’s answer to the question there, “Had Mrs Kelly an infant with her when you arrested her?”, is “I do not think so. I think not at the time. I think she had a child in gaol, if I remember rightly.” Given the going to and fro by Steele and Brown that night arresting Skilion, Brickey and Ellen, it seems most unlikely that baby Alice was taken to Greta that night as it would have stood out in Steele’s memory. Kieza holds that the baby remained at the Eleven Mile that night (p. 224). Nothing is rock solid here, but Steel’s response is pretty solid support for Keiza’s conclusion.

    On a different topic, in the conversation between McIntyre and Ned Kelly after the shooting of Lonigan at Stringybark Creek, there is a mention somewhere that Kelly told McIntyre that if Lonigan had not tried to get his revolver out, Kelly would not have shot him. Does anyone know if that is right, or recorded anywhere?

    1. On a different topic, in the conversation between McIntyre and Ned Kelly after the shooting of Lonigan at Stringybark Creek, there is a mention somewhere that Kelly told McIntyre that if Lonigan had not tried to get his revolver out, Kelly would not have shot him. Does anyone know if that is right, or recorded anywhere?
      That’s from McIntyre’s memoir, “A true narrative of the Kelly Gang”, page 97. The day after Glenrowan, McIntyre visited Ned in his cell at the Benalla lockup. They argued about whether Lonigan drew his revolver or not.

      1. Thanks David, but that is not quite the same as what I had a note of somewhere. The lockup one in the memoir is about McIntyre rejecting Kelly’s story about Lonigan pointing his revolver at Kelly from behind some logs as nonsense. That is different from Kelly saying that he would not have shot Lonigan if Lonigan had not tried to get his weapon out.

        The latter would lend support to an argument that Kelly admitted if only once that Lonigan had not actually got his revolver out when Kelly shot him; i.e., it would support McIntyre’s testimony.

        I may be wrong about what I scribbled down several years ago but am slowly working through McIntyre’s depositions in VPRS to try and find it if it exists. But my scribble might have been from a commentator from some other source. Still, interesting to pursue

        1. Maybe it’s the following: James Gloster’s testimony, VPRS 4966 P0, 6, Ned Kelly Prosecution brief, p 54.
          (as you know, Gloster was one of the hostages at Faithfull’s Creek Station, and had long conversations with Kelly overnight).
          “He said McIntyre surrendered but Lonigan ran to a log and was attempting to fire when he fired and hit Lonigan in the head killing him.”
          Frank Beecroft, also there, testified pretty much the same thing about the same conversation (p 59); although Beecroft said Kelly admitted saying the following to Constable McIntyre: “That man was a fool to be shot trying to get away” (“or words to that effect”).
          As for the Kelly-McIntyre conversation in the Benalla lockup, Senior Constable Kelly was there and witnessed the whole thing, and heard a slightly different wording. According to him, Ned said:
          “no Lonigan was behind a log and pointing a revolver at me when I shot him.” (VPRS 4966 P0 6, p 74.).
          I’m not sure if any of these are exactly what you’re after, but they all circle around the same idea.

          1. Hi David, still not there. I may be totally wrong of course. The context I’m looking for is Ned saying that he wouldn’t have fired if Lonigan hadn’t reached for his weapon. It might have been in a McIntyre deposition after Dan said to Ned or one of the others that Lonigan was a plucky fellow, did you see how he grabbed for his revolver (or words to that effect); or it might have been during cross-examination; or it might be nowhere. By I will go through them all over the course of the week and post here if I have any luck

            1. I doubt you’re imagining it. Ned told his version of Stringybark Creek several times to various people, and there are numerous records of those retellings. For example, as noted earlier, the Benalla lockup conversation alone is recorded at least three times: in McIntyre’s testimony; in Senior-Constable Kelly’s testimony; and in McIntyre’s memoir. There are many places to look.

              1. But I may also have mis-remembered it from a commentator. All I have is some old scribble, no source! Useless. But I’ll see if anything turns up. It will take me a week or more to search for one sentence given other commitments 😅

                1. What exactly it that youre trying to establish here Stuart? Is it something to do with the self-defence argument?

                  I am just wondering if theres another way to get wherever it is your trying to go, other than by spending a week looking for one sentence.

                  I dont have the JL in front go me right now for the exact quote but dont forget in that context Kelly said it was foolishness to DISOBEY an outlaw , and it would result in a speedy dispatch to Kingdom Come…

                  “I am a widows son, outlawed, and my orders MUST be obeyed..”

                  So all that Kelly needed to justify opening fire, in his mind was for Lonigan not to immediately obey, as McIntyre did.

                  But even if you find a report of Kelly saying he wouldn’t have fired if Lonigan hadn’t reached for his gun, where does that get you? We already know Kellys claim that Lonigan was behind a battery of Logs when he raised his head up from behind them to take aim was a lie…

                  He also later tried to justify shooting Lonigan by pretending he thought it was Strahan who was supposed to have said he would shoot first….

                  All his lies can never be fitted into something rational …

                  1. I’m dealing with the argument from practically everyone, especially lawyers, that McIntyre’s evidence about the murder of Lonigan was inconsistent. It wasn’t. Jones screwed that up in 1967 with his Sadleir argument which threw everyone out ever since, but I have now demolished that. Additionally, it would be nice to have Ned Kelly corroborate what Dan said, that Ned shot him while he was reaching for his revolver, i.e., that Lonigan never got his revolver out of its holster. I can’t help thinking I found it once; but I could still be wrong.

              2. A halfway point is Senior-Constable Kelly’s statement before Foster P.M. on 10 August 1880, in VPRS 4966 unit 2 item 7, on p. 204 of the PDF, where he states that when McIntyre visited Ned Kelly’s cell in Beechworth in S-C Kelly’s presence, McIntyre said “I’ve suffered a great deal over the whole of this affair, was my statement correct?” , and Ned Kelly replied “Yes”.

                It is on target, but it is still too loose for what I would ideally like to find if it is there.

                It’s not in McIntyre’s memoir.

  10. The best way to think about McIntyre’s statements might be to imagine buying 5 of the same identical 100 piece jigsaw puzzles. Assemble them all then take 2 or 3 dozen random pieces from different places out of each one.

    You still have 5 identical pictures, but you can’t see all of any of them at the same time. The lawyers focus on the missing bits in one and jump up and down about contradictions with a different copy of the same puzzle. But there are no contradictions, just incomplete statements made at different times.

    1. Youre preaching to the converted Stuart. And the Unconverted are conspiracy theorists to whom logic reason evidence and facts mean nothing. For example this is their attitude to the quote you gave about what SC Kelly reported Ned Kelly said to McIntyres question : who would believe what a cop said?

      Normal sane people understand how accounts that are not identical can easily be in agreement with each other, and normal sane people can easily see the irrationality behind Jones preference for Sadleirs 30 year old recollection over signed handwritten records from the day after the SBC shooting….but the Kelly extremists never will acknowledge it.

  11. Hi David, I was trying to explain why so many lawyers and judges who have written about Kelly’s trial fail to understand why incomplete statements are not necessarily contradictory.

    Also, the argument as to why Jones was wrong about Sadleir is far more complex than just saying Sadleir’s memory was rusty. Jones went to enormous lengths to argue that Sadleir arrived at Mansfield a day earlier than Sadleir said in his book, based on extracts from the Mansfield Occurrences Book preserved in the VPRO files. But those records do not prove that at all. Jones read things into the records by retrospective guesswork; but it doesn’t stand up. The dating argument is the basis of his claim of perjury; but it falls apart under scrutiny that the legal experts who took up Jones’s incorrect conclusion never gave it.

    I don’t bother myself with trying to follow what numpties think. When my work on this section is complete it will be published as one unit, not put online in bits and pieces; but that is what I’ve been looking at.

    1. Great to hear youre working on something Stuart : it wont please the numpties to learn youre exposing yet another of Ian Jones deceptions…that man was SO blinded by his absolute certainty he had it all sorted … I am always staggered to remember the video where he dismisses a place as a site for something or other because he said he just didnt get anything there, no vibe, no sense inside himself that this was a place that had anything to do with the Kelly story, a sense he said he would get at other places…this is quite bizarre.

      These Lawyers and Judges you say have written about kellys trial and claim McIntyres accounts contradict and cant be reconciled : my guess is they were just parroting Jones claim, which is what virtually everyone else is doing who makes that claim – and hadnt really checked it out themselves :

      My recollection is that Sadleir visited Mansfield on Wednesday 30th – and McIntyres first statement had been written the previous Sunday.

    2. I agree with you, Stuart. Ian Jones manufactured this notion that Constable McIntyre committed perjury based on discrepancies with Superintendent John Sadleir’s memoir.
      In his book, Sadleir described the events at Stringybark creek, and his description differed in some key respects from McIntyre’s account which he gave on the stand. Aha! McIntyre must have been lying, right? No.
      Jones suggested that, when writing it, Sadleir had a copy of McIntyre’s written statement – the one the constable made at the police station immediately after reaching Mansfield, which would obviously be the ‘true’ version. But this is nonsense. Thanks to the digitised PROV records, we can all read McIntyre’s report, and it’s pretty much the same as what he said later.
      Sadleir didn’t keep a copy of that document after he retired. He didn’t have it sitting next to him as he wrote out his memoirs.
      If you read Sadleir’s memoir (which is actually pretty good, and quite readable), you’ll see that he includes plenty of stories of events that didn’t involve him directly. Not just Ned Kelly stuff, but all kinds of stuff. This was a common feature of autobiographies of the time. I think (from memory) Frank Hare also did the same thing in “Last of the Bushrangers”.
      It had all happened a long time before, and Sadleir’s memory was not as good as it had once been. Therefore, Ian Jones was wrong. Sadleir’s version is not the primary source, and it was not based on primary source documents.
      I found a smattering of minor errors in both Sadleir’s and Hare’s memoirs. I have a list somewhere. Nothing major, but a couple were a bit surprising (because again, thanks to digitised records, we have information at our fingertips that they didn’t; as surprising as it may seem, some legitimate fact-checking is possible).

  12. Its fixed!

  13. or is it?


    Hi David, McIntyre’s first report was the 27 October, written for Pewtress to send to Sadleir (which Pewtress did); second report 28 October, than inquest testimony 29 October. Jones screwed up when arguing that Sadleir arrived on and spoke to McIntyre on 29 October but it was 28th. This was from Jones’ convoluted and incorrect argument based on his misinterpretation of the Mansfield Occurrence book entries, from which he disputed the clear statement of dates in Sadleir’s book. Clever Mr Jones at it again. Anyway the key point is that Sadleir’s conversation with McIntyre was not McIntyre’s first report to Sadleir; that was the 27 October report that went missing in the police files until it was relocated after the Beechworth committal hearing in August 1880.

    You can see how Jones twisted this into knots in the discussion between him and Waller following Waller’s paper in Man & Myth. That’s where Jones first laid his perjury accusations against McIntyre, that he repeated ever after. Jones late expanded his perjury accusation to include Sadleir.

    The legal eagles include Phillips, Castles,Fricke, Coldrey, and a whole bunch more,that were led by the nose to follow Jones in holding that McIntyre’s evidence was self-contradictory, and largely because of the Sadleir argument.This requires them to have accepted Jones’ intricate arguments about dating Sadleirs assertion, as recollected in Sadleir’s book (which they probably didn’t research themselves);
    but this is demonstrably wrong; and so the arguments that follow from it fold.

    What all this means is that McIntyres evidence was consistent throughout; and therefore any arguments about self-defence must be re-examined without any implications that McIntyre’s evidence is in doubt.

    I think I’ll just keep poking away at it slowly, and if I find that sentence I’m looking for I’ll post it; but having spent several evenings going through McIntyre’s depositions and starting on some of the newspaper coverage, I will draw a line under it for now and if it turns up, it does.

    If not, there is still a reasonable argument from silence that when Dan said to the others of Lonigan moments after his death, “he was a plucky fellow, did you see how he caught at his revolver like that … moving his right hand to the back of his waist as he spoke”, clearly none of them quibbled. It was something at least one of the gang must have seen, as Dan spoke of it to someone.

    1. An interesting point.
      Dan: “he was a plucky fellow, did you see how he caught at his revolver like that … moving his right hand to the back of his waist as he spoke”
      …and as you say, none of the other gang members quibbled with that. That doesn’t mean much, they’re hardly going to get into an argument about such things, moments after killing a policeman. They were probably all shaken. Maybe Dan saw what he wanted to see; maybe the others were used to Dan running his mouth with half-baked stuff. There are all sorts of plausible reasons why they didn’t respond; I wouldn’t read too much into their lack of response.

      On the other hand, to be fair, it is possible that Constable Lonigan grasped at his revolver without McIntyre seeing it.

      But even if Lonigan did that, Ned still didn’t shoot him in self-defence (or more specifically, Lonigan drawing a weapon isn’t a basis for self-defence). It’s the other way around. Constable Lonigan, not Ned Kelly, was the one acting in self-defence, first by turning to run, and second, maybe, by ‘catching’ at his revolver.

      1. Hi David D, that quote is from the statement in VPRS 4992 unit 2 item 8, page 24 of the PDF. I wouldn’t expect any dispute as it is simply an observation made by Dan to someone; and indisputable observation I think, not just because no one disputed it, but because it was so obvious to Dan and he felt for whatever reason it was worth a comment about Lonigan’s pluck. Maybe as distinct from immediately throwing his hands up in surrender as McIntyre did?

        Yes, McIntyre didn’t witness that as Lonigan was maybe 12 feet behind and left of him (from memory); but that is how McIntyre knew that Lonigan had reached for his pistol, from Dan’s words. That’s why he remembered them. He also knew from his own sight that Lonigan had not been able to draw his revolver, as he soon saw when ge looked around that Lonigan was dead on the ground. He was still wearing his holstered pistol, which naughty Ned jumped the log and retrieved from the body.

        I agree there was nothing in this about self defence; it was simple murder either way, and Lonigan’s attempt to get to his pistol doesn’t change that. What I’m examining is the first layer of what happened by trying to drill down into the learned scholars and lawyers ramblings that McIntyre’s statements are self-contradictory. As such, they are open to a defense counsel to argue that McIntyre is an unsteady witness and his testimony should not be taken seriously; and that Barry – scourge of the south – unfairly didn’t allow a proper self defence case to be put by Kelly’s barrister. (Of course, Bindon was a junior plonker; modern QC’s etc know much better about these things…) It’s complicated, but there are common themes in all this.

        Here is Phillips, The Trial of Ned Kelly, p. 81, “Had Bindon known the contents of this newspaper report” [ref], it’s likely there would have been a reference to Lonigan reaching for or drawing his revolver immediately before he was shot. Phillips is following Jones, that Bindon failed to challenge McIntyre in cross examination. What all these clowns forget is that Gaunson who knew the case backwards was Kelly’s instructing solicitor in his Melbourne trial.

        The modern QCs are happy to scoff at Bindon – Phillips, p. 101, after the verdict, “Like a litany, he [Bindon] kept repeating Kelly’s words from the dock: ‘Mr Bindon knew nothing about my case’. In the gardens in front of the Public Library he found a stone seat and slumped upon it. There, alone in the gathering darkness, he wept.” Oh, rack off.

Leave a Reply