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Monday, April 25, 2011

Did Fitzpatrick Try to Take Liberties with Kate Kelly? [Brian Stevenson]

(Special note: This thread is my work, but much of it, authored by me and under my name, was previously posted on the Kellycountry2000 Forum some time ago.)

We will never know for sure what happened at the Eleven Mile late in the afternoon of 15 April 1878. Ian Jones gives something like eight possible scenarios, with the helpful reminders that most of them are dodgy, and just about everyone that was there was known to have lied about some aspect or another. But did Fitzpatrick place himself at fault by attempting to take liberties with Kate?

We don't know that for sure, either, but a couple of years ago I came across something that did rock my socks. An article in a police journal contained the detail that after his capture at Glenrowan, Ned himself admitted that the story of Fitzpatrick annoying his sister was 'a silly story' or something of that nature. Ned added something to the effect that had Fitzpatrick really molested or otherwise annoyed Kate, there would not have been enough police in Victoria to protect him.

This little gem staggered me at the time, so I asked my good friend Sharon Hollingsworth to check it out, and there it was - the Age of 9 August 1880.

As it happens, Ned was not being interviewed by a journalist, but by a lawyer, none other than David Gaunson, who would later defend him. Fair enough, by now Ned had pretty well run out of excuses for his behaviour and nothing would have saved him from the gallows, but surely he would have used Fitzpatrick's annoying of Kate as some slight excuse for the precipitation of the trouble. Or even just mentioned it. No police verballing involved here, but still he says that Fitzpatrick's alleged annoying of Kate was 'a silly story.' So, by Ned's own account, Fitzpatrick didn't pester Kate.
The Kate-Fitzpatrick clash has been regarded as a given for almost as long as the Kellys have been more than locally notorious. As we all know - or think we know - it was the spark that led directly to a conflagration at Glenrowan two years, two months and two weeks later. Most commentators admit that they do not know what exactly occurred between Kate and Fitzpatrick, either on 15 April or beforehand, but they assume that something occurred.

So, if it occurred ... Why was Ned quoted in the Age of 9 August 1880 saying it was 'a silly story'?

Not even in the most cryptic terms, not even in a way that would have partly shielded his sister.

If it occurred, why did the defence at the trial of Ellen, Williamson and Skillion not call Kate to give her version of events, despite an invitation to do so by the Crown Prosecutor? (Ian Jones, Ned Kelly: A Short Life, 1995, p 112) Another free kick left unexploited. What jury would have convicted a woman whose only crime was to help defend her daughter? But the advantages inherent in this line of defence seem to have escaped Mr Bowman, the defence lawyer, whose only card was the testimony of two residents that Bill Skillion was with them when Fitzpatrick said he was at the Eleven Mile. (Ned Kelly: A Short Life, page 123 - it didn't help much.)

It is very curious indeed that Mr Bowman did not use the story, and that no one suggested to him that it be used. And while it is very risky indeed to suggest the course that history would have taken had something happened otherwise, it seems likely that had Ellen Kelly's story been accepted, and had she (and Bricky Williamson and William Skillion) would have received sentences that were nowhere near as draconian.

But the story was never used, not when it counted, not when it could have made a difference.

After the evening of 26 October 1878, when Ned, Dan and their two friends had committed three murders, it was all academic anyway, and nothing could have saved them. But Ned used two other opportunities to justify himself, the Cameron and the Jerilderie letters. Both documents contain copious references to Fitzpatrick, and Ned's loathing and contempt of and disgust for the man are palpable.

But nowhere is there a reference to Fitzpatrick's interaction, major or minor, wise or unwise, appropriate or inappropriate with Kate. The letters that Ned wanted to use to state his case, which he did, in thousands of words, are silent on what should have been a trump card for his cause. Yet the trump card went unused, and Ned would later describe the story attached to it as 'silly.'

So ... three pretty good opportunities for the story to be brought out (the trial of Ellen, et al, and the two letters) - all missed. And when it's all over, Ned denies the story anyway. Folks, can you excuse me for wondering about this one??

The first mention that I could find of the story came from Kate herself, shortly before Jerilderie, when, in the Melbourne Herald of 7 February 1879 she was quoted as saying that Fitzpatrick had, at the Eleven Mile, commenced 'in a violent manner to behave improperly.'

A few days later her brother would repeat the story at Jerilderie, but at Glenrowan the next year he would recant it.

Did the pair of them, with or without others, cook up a belated 'excuse' for Ned's later actions? Or has your blogger got it wrong, and is there a plausible explanation as to why such a circumstance, weighing strongly as it did in Ned Kelly's favour - and there were not many of those - was left unused and unuttered for so long?

We can speculate forever, but we will never know.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Article Alert: News on Pentridge Gaol's Redevelopment

From Google Alerts:

Snippets from an article in the Moreland Leader dated April 23, 2011 called "Pentridge Works: Jail Ripe for Grape Escape" talking about the redevelopment of Pentridge Gaol's D-Division:

...One hundred and eighty of the 208 cells are being redeveloped as state-of-the-art wine cellar storage units and marketed to vintage collectors and companies.....

Owners will gain access to the division’s wing for events and functions, and access to an exclusive warden’s lounge that will overlook a rose garden where Ned Kelly’s remains will be buried....

Ten cells, including cell 67 - used to house prisoners prior to hanging - will be retained as a public museum.....

For more see:

Friday, April 15, 2011

Robitt Jon Clow - The cause of Kelly [Brian Stevenson]

Among the oddest of literary manifestations of the Kelly story must surely be Robitt Jon Clow's play in blank verse, The cause of Kelly: a complete history of the primitive colonial war between the Kelly family and the police in blank verse. (It's got a long title too.) I looked at a copy in the Fryer Library at the University of Queensland in Brisbane: to own such an item is prohibitively expensive, but thanks to the existence of fine research libraries such as Fryer, literary treasures (and horrifying literary curiosities) can be perused by the general public for free.

Clow, a minister of religion who was born in 1876 and died in 1952 was a correspondent of J J Keneally. In a 1944 letter to the author of The complete inner history of the Kelly Gang and their pursuers, and published in one of the many editions of that work, Clow related how he had met 'a lady neighbor' who went to school with Steve Hart. Naturally, he was frequently named as the best behaved boy in the school for that week! The Reverend Clow also recalled his meeting with Mr Ingram, the bookseller at Beechworth, who remembered Ned as being 'of a quiet, unassuming disposition - a quiet and gentlemanly man' and Joe as 'a very nice little fellow' and 'well behaved.'

As for the play, it's a curious little volume. I have not turned up any evidence of it ever being performed, and it seems more than likely that Clow paid to have it printed in Ballarat in 1919. One wonders if many people attended the launch, but at least the volume was produced!

His sympathies are unsubtle, even if his praise of Ned is awkwardly phrased: 'No matter what his faults were, he is the father of our National Courage and the heart of our Literature.' Clow thought it was strange that Barry's statue 'should obtrude the entrance to our Public Library ... Why has his stature [sic] not been removed by direction of Parliament and used to macadamise the road?' (It seems that our playwright has forgotten, for the moment, that the community-spirited Barry practically invented the Public Library of Victoria.)

Clow says in the Introduction 'I have striven to make my narrative accord with history', but even allowing for dramatic licence, inaccuracies abound. Fitzpatrick (rendered here as Fitz-Patrick) flees the Eleven Mile instead of departing with a boot up his hindquarters: Joe shoots Lonigan: all shoot Scanlon and Dan finishes off Kennedy. For some reason that I cannot make out, Ned tries to incite Wild Wright, who appears to be terrified of the Gang, into murdering Constable Arthur. Wild, obviously, neglects to do so. Sadlier [sic] tries to bribe Wild to give information about the Kellys, but Wild refuses to cooperate, more out of fear than loyalty to Ned.

For some reason, Curnow is described in the dramatis personae as one of Ned's 'slippery friends' - Aaron Sherritt is the other. Gaunson is misnamed as Bill Gaunson, not David, and the courageous sister who dares so much and so often for the Gang is named as Nell, not Maggie. Ned later says of her 'All the Florence Nightingales in the world/Would not make another like our sister.' Ned gets to talk to J F Archibald, legendary founder of the Bulletin - what a conversation that would have been, had it occurred!

Clow ungenerously puts Fitzpatrick in gaol for the course of the Outbreak. Ned is, however, generous to Fitzpatrick on the morning of his execution and says to his mother: 'We won't speak of him at present mother/ Poor fellow! He's kicked his heels in gaol since.' However, Ned is a lot less generous to Jim, who apparently has let him down in not turning up at Glenrowan: 'Our blasted Jim - on whom I depended/Did not turn up until I was captured/In every war there is a laggard wretch/With James in command he will not fetch.' Ned is strolling through the prison gardens with his mother, the prison governor and three warders and he picks some flowers and presents them to his mother: 'Ah mother! Let me present thee a bouquet/Make thy heart like a lassy's once again.' I would have loved to have seen the faces of Fitzpatrick, Jim, and the 'lassy' all very much alive in 1919, reading those words, though from what Fitzpatrick said in the Cookson interviews he seemed used to being bucketed on stage.

Some of the characters do seem to be speaking in ways that the real life ones never would have. McIntyre reassures a captured Ned: 'True Curnow played a most ignoble part/which contributed nothing to thy fall/the break in line the pilot would have found.' The dying Judge Barry sees a vision of the now deceased Ned bearing a placard with the words 'You and I will meet over yonder/and much sooner than you think.' So far so good, but the letters are of fire and Barry screams to his maid: 'My brain's blazing with flaming centipeds [sic]/Arranged in letters like words of him/who in gaol suffered for his crimes this day.'

An interesting sub-plot that is never developed comes when Steve and Joe discuss turning themselves in and giving Queen's evidence. Steve says, awkwardly: 'My brother suggested that evidence/of our female majesty I should turn.' Ned and Dan overhear them and decide that Dan should keep an eye on Joe and Ned should pair with Steve to monitor the situation. Did someone just say something about honour among thieves? Nothing comes of this sub-plot, however, perhaps because Clow realised that to go further might make his narrative accord less with history.

The play is not without some powerful bits, even if here the poetry is not particularly elegant. Steve and Dan are both rendered temporarily unconscious in the siege but when Steve revives he yells to Dan: 'Wake up quickly! Why we're in hell/All that's blazing is blazing well.' McIntyre describes Ned as 'A bushman in a warlike statue/With his face enclosed in iron plate/Colonial who with metal wrought/what strange foreboding state of thought.' Such a phrase could also be applied to the mind of Robitt Jon Clow, who produced this curious little item. It's easy to knock the historical inaccuracies, the awkward phraseology, the melodrama (remember, the unvarnished story of the Kellys was pretty damn melodramatic) and the odd behaviour of the characters, but it was a fun item to read, even if it does not add much to our understanding of the Kelly story.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ned Kelly and Poison Pen Letters? [Sharon Hollingsworth]

Back in 1880 when Ned Kelly was in the Old Melbourne Gaol awaiting execution the police and prison officials were taking all precautions necessary to prevent him from cheating the hangman. Even a concerned member of the public weighed in with his expertise.

In a letter forwarded to Capt. Standish (found at the PROV) from the Inspector's Office and then forwarded on to John Castieau (the governor of the Old Melbourne Gaol) there were warnings about the different ways that poison might be smuggled into the cell where Ned Kelly was imprisoned.

The letter starts out:

This afternoon a Gentleman whose name I could not ascertain but I believe belongs to the medical profession informed me that the greatest of care must be taken to protect "Kelly" charged with murder from obtaining poison.

He states during several years travelling on the Continent and other parts of the world he became thoroughly conversant with the use and disuse of poisons and that it can be delivered in a variety of ways without the least suspicion of discovery.

[He went on to discuss various ways that poison might be transferred to Ned..such as from a kiss, from food..and also]

"in having his linen impregnated"

"in soft paper saturated with poison and then dried"

"in the buttons of a coat or drawers where the outside cover can be taken off, the cavity filled up, and then recovered"

"the writing in a letter written with a solution of poison"

[there was more of the letter where he said he was sure every care was being taken by the authorities to prevent Ned getting poison... etc..]

Castieau's reply to Standish re the forwarded letter was thus:

"Returned with thanks to Captain Standish. The ingenious means of conveying poison that are spoken of were not unknown to me. Every care is being taken to prevent any accident happening to Kelly. I feel however convinced that as far as the prisoner is concerned he has at present no intention of doing violence to himself."

What is in the above letter about poison being possibly hidden inside buttons or linen impregnated with poison solution might explain this disturbing bit of information from J.J. Kenneally's "The Complete Inner History of the Kelly Gang" :

"Ned Kelly was still suffering from the effect of his wounds, but to such an extent had official callousness developed that his sister, Mrs. Skillion, was not permitted to see him. She had been informed that Ned was in need of a change of underclothing; and promptly purchased what was required, but the Beechworth Gaol authorities would not allow the clothes to be given to Ned Kelly. Mrs. Skillion then offered to go with one of the gaol officials and make similar purchases again, and suggested that the officials should take the clothes from the shop, and that she would not do so much as touch the articles purchased. Even this offer was refused, and Ned Kelly, on trial for his life and suffering from the effects of his wounds, was denied a change of underclothing by the gaol authorities."

"Mr David Gaunson, who defended Ned Kelly at his trial, was permitted to have an interview with him in the Beechworth Gaol, in the presence of gaol officials. In the interview Ned Kelly said: “I can depend my life on my sister, Mrs. Skillion. I have been kept here like a wild beast. If they were afraid to let anyone come near me, they might have kept at a distance and watched; but it seems to me to be unjust, when I am on trial for my life, to refuse to allow those I put confidence in to come with in cooee of me. Why, they won’t so much as let me have a change of clothes brought in!"

And what about him borrowing Gaunson's coat for court?

The parts about the possibility of saturated paper and letters being written in "poison pen" makes me wonder if Ned Kelly was ever allowed to read or handle any mail addressed to him at the gaol? Maybe if he was not allowed to handle it then perhaps a warder was allowed to read some of it to him?

Photo courtesy of Joe Dipisa  (
 John Castieau allegedly souvenired some of the letters sent to Ned at the gaol and passed them down to his own son, Godfrey Cass (a stage name), who portrayed Ned Kelly in several of the Kelly Gang films.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dubious Kelly Relics: Thomas Curnow's Signal Lamp and Ned Kelly's Quill Pen [Sharon Hollingsworth]

(Updated April 8)

There have been many dubious Kelly Gang relics floating around through the years but I have just read about some I had not heard of before.

It seems that Western Australia was rife with relics of the siege as concerns Glenrowan schoolmaster Thomas Curnow and railway guard Frank Bell.

From the Sunday Times of Aug. 31, 1919

"A relic of the Kelly Gang is in Perth in the possession of Actor-Manager Ted Cole. It was given him by Guard Bell in charge of the train the Kellys planned to capsize. The said souvenir is a large red pocket handkerchief used by Schoolmaster Curnow over an ordinary candle lamp to stop the police special."

The article went on to relate how Curnow got a hold of a lamp and covered it with a red handkerchief to stop the train. (Don't worry, I am going to be debunking all this in a second!)

Then we read again in the paper (18 years later) where railway guard (Frank) Bell had passed down a relic to his son, also named Frank Bell who sent a photo of it to his son, also named Frank Bell (!?). What was it? Glad you asked! It was the actual "lamp" used by Curnow to stop the train!

From that same article in the Sunday Times of Oct. 3, 1937,  it spoke of train guard Bell:

"..whose quick eye it was that sighted the red handkerchief covered lamp waved by schoolmaster Curnow at Glenrowan and so stopped the train containing about 100 police troopers and their horses.....the historic lamp was souvenired by Bell during the subsequent Battle of Glenrowan."


Then, there was yet another article concerning Curnow...

From the Sunday Times of Aug. 10, 1947 in an article called "W.A. Man's Relic of Kelly Gang's Last Stand" it tells of a 77 yr old man whose family knew Curnow post-Glenrowan. Curnow gave the family a piece of the scarf he used to stop the train which this man still had in his possession. However, this gentleman relates what Curnow told him and his family and much of it was oh-so-wrong or maybe just mis-remembered? Stuff like how Curnow was riding to get a doctor when he saw Dan and Steve forcing railway workers to pull up the line and how he pleaded to be let go and they allowed him to proceed and he then went down the line where he heard the train coming and took off his own scarf and wrapped it around a signal lamp.

Ok, let's break this all down. Even though there was an illustration for contemporary newspapers (as well as reports) of Curnow using a lantern to stop the train, he himself testified that:

"I quietly prepared everything, including the red llama scarf, candle and matches..."

[later after hearing the train coming]

"I immediately caught up the candle, scarf, and matches and ran down the line to meet the train. I ran on until I got to where I could see straight before me some distance along the line, and where those in the train would be able to see the danger signal. I then lit the candle and held it behind the red scarf."

BAM! There it is!!!

If you think about it, it made more sense from a security standpoint to have a candle possibly stuck down in his pocket or carried close to his body while in transit down the railway line rather than running the risk of being caught out carrying even an unlit lamp/lantern by a member of the gang or one of their sympathisers. That (to mix metaphors) would have rung an alarm bell, the gig would have been up, and the hammer would have dropped!

In "Last of the Bushrangers" Superintendent Francis Hare related that:

"It afterwards turned out the man was Mr. Curnow, the local schoolmaster, who, having no lamp by which to stop the train, got a red scarf and held a candle behind it when he heard the train approaching, but, having left his wife alone, he hurried back for fear some of the gang might see him. After the guard of the pilot had related this story to me...."

So we see that there was no lantern or lamp nor red handkerchief. Perhaps the chap with the bit of scarf does (or rather did) have a true relic despite his error filled narrative? Concerning the earlier narrative, there were not 100 police troopers on the special train, there were around a couple dozen people in total on the train including police, black trackers, newspapermen, O'Connor's wife and her sister, plus a civilian volunteer.

Ok, let's pick apart the earlier bit with the W.A. man with the relic. Steve Hart was with the railway workers for the lifting of the rails, Dan was not. Curnow was not on the way to get a doctor in the middle of the night when he met the Kellys. He met them later on in the day while out buggy riding with his family. The doctor part might have come from where Curnow testified about how he wanted to get his wife, baby and sister to safety at his mother-in-law's place after Ned let them leave the Inn but he was worried about the gang checking up on them at his home so he left a note saying his sister was ill and they went for medicine (however his wife was restless and upset so they went back to the house..this was before the stopping of the train). He did not use his own scarf, he used his sister's and we know it was not a signal lamp, it was a candle!

 How can they get so much so wrong in these reminiscences?

Talking about getting stuff wrong, read on to the second instance of somewhat dubious relics I am relating here. For that we go back to Victoria.

There was this in the Barrier Miner, July 29, 1924

"Workmen engaged in dismantling the interior of the Melbourne Gaol yesterday found enclosed in an envelope a quill pen used by Ned Kelly, the outlaw, before his execution in 1880. On the envelope were the words, "Ned Kelly's pen." The initials of Mr. J. B. Castieau, who was the governor of the gaol at the time, were also on the envelope."

Ok, this is a long shot but is a possibility. But as I note below, Ned was unable to write anything other than signing an X due to his damaged arm, so why would he have a pen?

Then a dozen years later there was another mention of Ned's quill pen in the papers.

 In the Sunday Times of May 2, 1937 there was an article entitled Ned Kelly's Quill Pen. In the article it related about publicans, Mr. and Mrs. Muldoon, of a Melbourne tavern who had been offered a relic for sale by Jerry the builder and his brother which was "the pen Ned Kelly wrote his last letter on earth with."

When asked whom Ned wrote to with it the reply was

 "Why, to his sainted mother, it was his last message to her who loved him. And everybody knows where he got the ink..."

He went on to say:

 "I got the story from an old ex-warden of the gaol. He had part charge of Ned and worked in the quill-pen to help him in sending out a message to his poor lonely widowed mother-away up in the country where Ned was captured."...."Well, then," he continued, handling the relic reverently as if it were a fragment from sacred Jerusalem, or a chip from Caesar's tomb, 'Ned tore a linen pocket from his prison jacket to act as note paper, opened a small vein in his arm and used the blood to write a short message to his mother. That's his own life-blood you see on the quill....."I got to know the son of a long ago prisoner who cleaned the cell out after Ned's execution. He told me how his dad had found the quill-pen in the cell where it had been laid down after the condemned man had written his message. He never thought it of any value till I accidentally heard of it and bought it from him for a mere trifle...."

The tavern owners, convinced it was the real deal, purchased it off him.

Then to everyone's consternation:

"A week later half a dozen elderly Hibernian ladies, excited and fuming, alighted from a Fitzroy tram at the corner nearest to what is left of the old Melbourne Gaol. Each had a Ned Kelly quill-pen, all old and crusted with the bushranger's blood."

These ladies along with a local parish priest traced the seller's lodgings and come to find out he had absconded. The landlady told them that:

"About a fortnight ago, Jerry and his brother had brought home from the Melbourne market a live goose..."

You can guess the rest of the story! The goose was cooked (as were the geese of the gullible buyers!) and the feathers were stripped, and the quills, well, you know what became of those!

Quite a silly tale that should never have been if they knew their Kelly story. Ned was unable to write at all while in gaol, only being able to sign an X due to his injured arm and his mother was in the same gaol with him at the time not up in the Kelly country where he was captured!

In closing, there was this bit re the pen from earlier in the newspaper article that I saved till last:

"It's a wonder the police let him have anything at all," said Mrs. Muldoon, whose opinion of the Law that hanged poor Ned was not of a very complimentary nature.

"They tried not to...They were afraid poison might be worked in so they had a special watch on him day and night. They couldn't even trust the regular warders."

That last bit there is a good segue to my next blog posting entitled "Ned Kelly and Poison Pen Letters?" Stay tuned for that!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Who escorted Mrs. Devine to the Jerilderie courthouse? [Sharon Hollingsworth]

Mary Devine in later life (courtesy of Trove)
In an earlier blog post called   "For Jerilderie's Constable Devine life after the Kelly Gang's visit was anything but divine! I detailed what happened to Sr. Constable George Devine during the Kelly Gang raid and what happened to him afterward when he had to endure taunts and jests from the public for those events. In this posting I detail about his wife, Mrs. (Mary) Devine, and her dealings with the gang.

Just prior to the Kelly Gang's visit Mrs. Devine had a prophetic dream.

According to the West Coast Times of February 27, 1879:

It was half past eleven o'clock, and a clear fine night. Mrs. Devine awoke out of a troubled sleep and told her husband, in a state of alarm, that she had dreamt she had seen the Kellys crawling along the police fence, that he (Devine) and Richards were on the other side and did not know that the Kellys were near them. She imagined that the Kellys were taking aim at her husband and his companion with their firearms, and she was unable to warn them of the danger

But how were any of them to know that the dream was about to become reality..the Kellys showed up soon after!

At the time of the Kelly Gang's visit Mrs. Devine had three children (according to Corfield) and was pregnant with a fourth.
 She was still in her night-gown when Ned Kelly roused her husband and Constable Richards up and then bailed them up. When Ned threatened to shoot Constable Devine (according to Peter Dunne, telegraph operator)  "Mrs. Devine, on her knees, begged for him not to do so, and he apparently acceded to her request, saying he would have done so but for her." She was assured that no harm would come to her husband or family if she would not raise the alarm to anyone for the duration of their stay.

She then had to show them around the place so they could confiscate all of the weapons and ammunition. She also prepared food for them at Ned's request.

Constable Devine was worried about Ned "interfering with his wife" and Ned was quite offended and said that he had never offered offense to any woman and that she would be safe.

In Ian Jones's "Ned Kelly: A Short Life" he relates instances of Mrs. Devine's dealings as concerns the Kellys as told in interviews with her granddaughter a century later. One instance was where Ned Kelly himself helped Mrs. Devine to empty a tub of water her children had been bathed in earlier that evening. He said she should not try to do it "in her condition." Jones goes on to relate that Mrs. Devine said of Ned that he was "the kindest man she ever met."

The gang settled in for the night, taking turns sleeping and standing guard.

From Rev Gribble's article in Leisure Time (1895)

During the night it was arranged that the whole company should occupy the parlour of the barracks. The night being excessively hot, the sergeant's wife begged for a breath of air, and, feeling faint, said she should scream if the door was not opened. Steve Hart, raising his revolver at her, threatened to shoot her if she did not keep quiet. She replied, "Little do mothers know what they are rearing their children for!" "I would shoot my own mother," was the savage retort, "if she didn't do as I told her!"

But. I had read elsewhere where she and the children were allowed to sleep in the bedroom apart from the others.

The next morning was Sunday and Mrs. Devine always went over to the courthouse across the road to prepare the place for Mass for the visiting priest (it was on rotation between two priests, Father Slattery and Father Kiely, that particular Sunday was Father Kiely's turn).
Ned decided that she best stick to her routine, as her missing doing her duty there would draw questions and visitors. Here is where it gets sticky. Those who were in Jerilderie and actually knew the parties involved (schoolteacher William Elliott and Rev. Gribble) both avow that it was Dan Kelly who escorted her over and helped her clean up and place flowers. I tend to believe it was Dan. However, there are other reports, red herrings if you will, that throw us off that scent!

Some of the early newspaper articles just say "Kelly" escorted her. I suppose it depends on who read what as to what is told in books. Constable Thomas McIntyre in his narrative has that it was Ned. Hare and Chomley (who most assuredly had read Hare's book) both say it was Joe Byrne who went with her, as did Frank Clune. Ian Jones has that it was Dan Kelly as did Max Brown and John Molony. Very telling that no one ever said it was Steve Hart!

It is astonishing to me what Joseph Ashmead in his account had to say. I can only shake my head in disbelief! He not only has Mrs. Devine being called Mrs. Ryan, but has Ned helping her at the courthouse and then has Ned and Joe attending Mass with her and the other trooper's wife from the police station (remember, Richards was unmarried)! Even more unbelievable, he also had about the time on a ship to London when he met Father O'Dwyer(!!!!) who claimed he was the one who held the service that Sunday in Jerilderie and that he noticed two strong men in the front with the wives of the police that he later realised were Ned Kelly and Joe Byrne! What codswallop and pig-swill! Yet, even a blind hog finds an acorn every now and then, so we should not always (but in this case we can) dismiss Ashmead totally out of hand!

And here is something else as concerns this episode from the Sunday Times (Perth) May 23, 1926 wherein George Devine was being taunted in later years:

"...he got a plentiful though untruthful reminder that Ned Kelly had taken his (Devine's) wife to a ball at Jerilderie and similar yarns more or less mangled, untrue and improbable."

How did a visit to the courthouse to set up for Mass turn into a visit to a gala ball?

That same day, just after lunch time, newspaper editor Samuel Gill (in search of news to print) went by the police station to chat with Constable Devine to see what was going on with the four new recruits seen around town. Mrs Devine cryptically told him "I cannot tell you anything. Run, for your life is in danger!"

That set in motion events that led to him alerting others and them entering the bank as the Kellys were there for the holdup with him narrowly escaping to the chagrin of Ned who wanted Gill to print copies of  the Jerilderie letter for him! Whew! As an aside, during the time the Kellys were there Ned Kelly read some of his Jerilderie letter to Mrs. Devine but she could remember none of it two days later.

After the robbery when the gang were ready to leave town they left constables Devine and Richards and two telegraph-men locked up. He gave the key to Mrs. Devine and  he told her to not let them out until half past 7 or that he would "burn the house down over her and her children's heads" if she or anyone else let them out before that time. After the Kellys left others rushed over to the police station to free the prisoners but Mrs. Devine steadfastly refused to open the door or give them the key. Her husband and the others had to wait about an hour and a half before the time Ned appointed for them to be released. Of course, she was just protecting her husband as she did not wish for him to pursue the Kellys and possibly get killed. Ned had taken the police horses and all their guns and ammo and even if they could have borrowed some of each by the time they were released the gang were well away.

The Devines stayed on in Jerilderie for a couple of more years, much later they wound up living in West Australia where Mrs. Devine outlived her husband by 6 years dying in September of 1932.