For more information on Sharon Hollingsworth and Brian Stevenson please see the sidebar for the About Your Humble Bloggers link.


Friday, September 30, 2011

Charles Nicolson, the Sophia and the Pirate Bushrangers [Brian Stevenson]

Most followers of the Kelly saga will know Charles Hope Nicolson, the doughty and humorless Scot who played a large role in the life of Ned Kelly. He had questioned the very young Ned in Ned’s capacity as assistant to that old reprobate, Harry Power, and seems to have formed a favourable early impression of the teenager, possibly even trying to find him work in New South Wales, away from the pernicious influence of his clan. Nicolson was on hand when Harry Power was captured, and in late 1878 was appointed Assistant Commissioner of Victoria Police, with the specific task of capturing the Kelly Gang. It was Nicolson who set up a network of police spies and informers, who, as is well known, provided him with information of varying quality about the past, present and future doings and whereabouts of the Gang. The 1881 Royal Commission considered him at least partly responsible for the length of time that the Kellys remained at large, and recommended that he not return to the force. He became a Police Magistrate in 1882 and died in Melbourne in 1898.

Nicolson joined the force as a cadet in December 1852, and it was in his first year of service that he had an adventure that seems to have been overlooked by Kelly scholars. Indeed, Cadet Nicolson nearly lost his life in an encounter with two extremely unlikeable miscreants, who in their brief criminal careers, were both pirates and bushrangers who committed crimes in two colonies, Van Diemen’s Land and Victoria.

The case of the pirate bushrangers had its commencement on 14 September 1853 when the two miscreants, Henry Bradley (about 22) and Patrick O’Connor (about 30) robbed the farm of Mr Jonathan House near Launceston. House escaped through a window, but O’Connor discharged both barrels of a shotgun at one Mr Phillips, killing him instantly. They then robbed several more homesteads, and the next day they materialized at Circular Head where they boarded the schooner Sophia and forced the nine member crew to sail across Bass Strait to Victoria, landing near Cape Schank on 19 September.

At Mr King’s farm at Brighton they ordered a ploughman to release his horses for their use. He thought they were joking and told them to ‘Come back at dinner time.’ One of them shot him dead. They appeared at Clarke’s station shortly afterwards, in the guise of shepherds asking for work. Mr Clarke refused, and one of them shot at him, putting a hole through his hat. The gardener tried to help Clarke, but was shot in the chest.

They went via Balcombe's station to Brighton, where they bailed up King's farm. During this robbery they ordered the ploughman to release his horses for their use. He treated their youthful demand as a joke, and told them to "Come back at dinner-time." One of them shot him dead on the spot. For this crime the Government offered a reward of £200. Bradley was described as "Harry, 23, 5' 5," fair complexion, brown hair, long and curly; no whiskers; thin face with particularly large nostrils, wearing a Petersham coat, and armed with a rifle and three pocket pistols."

They next appeared as shepherds asking for work at Clarke's station. When their services were refused, one of them fired at Mr. Clarke, the ball passing through his hat. When the gardener ran to Mr. Clarke's assistance he was shot through the chest, and the bushrangers fired six further shots at Clarke, without effect. They went to one of the station huts and kept seven men hostage while they cast more bullets from lead that they had procured, and then moved to Kane’s station, where they tied up eleven men and pillaged the premises.
It was here that the long arm of the law caught up with them in the person of five police under the command of Sergeant Nolan, with several volunteers. Cadet Charles Hope Nicolson, a little short of his 24th birthday, was with the party.

In the witness box in court in Melbourne, Nicolson told how Cadet Thompson, trooper Osler and himself arrived at Cain’s station and found it apparently deserted. But he heard a voice calling out and he went into the homestead and untied the bound men he found there. Nicolson saw O’Connor approaching the house on horseback ‘he seemed a much larger man on horseback’ – and someone said ‘That is the bushranger.’ Thompson and Osler came out and O’Connor said ‘Put down that pistol’ and almost immediately he began firing. Thompson was shot. O’Connor disappeared for ‘a minute or two’ and came back with Bradley, giving Nicolson a chance to reload, he having fired two pistols at O’Connor without effect. When O’Connor reappeared, he said to Bradley ‘Take the gun and shoot the ----‘, and Nicolson again fired his two pistols, again without effect, though he thought he had hit Bradley because he ducked his head. ‘I fired at Bradley, and as he ducked his head I thought I had shot him.’ The two miscreants disappeared. Thompson was badly wounded in the left breast, the ball having come out below his left shoulder.

They caught up with the bushrangers the next morning. Both were on horseback, but Bradley dismounted and got behind a tree. Nicolson continued: ‘I rode at O’Connor: we each fired. O’Connor’s ball whizzed past my cheek, slightly grazing it, and I could not pull my horse around directly. He fired again and I returned his fire. This time his ball went though the neck of my horse. […] O’Connor galloped off and we exchanged shots again. My revolver pistol missed fire. I had now come up with him, and struck him on the head and knocked him off the horse. We had a struggle, and at last I threw him down. He then said he would surrender, and asked me not to shoot a fallen enemy.’

Osler captured the other prisoner, Bradley.

The two wretches were brought to Melbourne for trial. While the image of a pirate-bushranger sounds like it has potential for glamour, the journalist was little impressed with the pair, though he did make some allowances for O’Connor, who was described as ‘a rather stoutly built, fresh-coloured young man of fair complexion, about 25 years of age and about five feet eight inches in height … [his] appearance is rather that of a young man, brutalized by degrading associations, sensual, ignorant, obstinate, passionate and ferocious.’

Bradley, however, was portrayed in a way both devoid of sympathy and commendation: ‘Bradley is one of the most unwholesome, ill-looking ruffians that ever stood at the bar of a criminal court. […] [He] looks like an innate villain, without any redeeming quality; his very appearance denotes the debased, treacherous villain, which his life has realized. He appears to be scarcely five feet in height, and about the same age as his companion in guilt. His phrenological developments denote cunning as his only capacity, and his physiognomy is as unprepossessing as was ever displayed in human form.’
Bradley laughed when some aspect or another of his crimes was described, and was placed in the dock while eating something. He continued to do so – his ‘manner from the moment he entered the dock was disgusting in the extreme.’ The reporter believed he was feigning bravado.

After Nicolson gave his evidence, O’Connor cross-examined him, presumably as to exactly what had happened. O’Connor seems to have been trying to deflect some of the blame from Bradley. Nicolson said, in answer to his question (whatever it was) ‘I am sure you are the man who fired at Thompson. It was about a minute after you fired that Bradley came up.’
O’Connor: ‘I took you for a nice gentlemanly-looking man, but you know you have told what is not true. Perhaps the vengeance of God may fall upon you as well as on me. I won’t ask you anything more.’

Bradley: ‘No, it’s of no use to ask him anything.’

O’Connor kept on trying to defend Bradley. O’Connor ‘I do not deny I shot Thompson. But as regards this man Bradley, I mean to say he was not there when I fired…I do not see how you can bring him in guilty, he had nothing to do with it: the trooper has not told the truth: that is all I’ve got to say.’ Bradley, offered the chance to say something in his own defense, ‘replied impatiently, ‘No, I’ve nothing at all to say.’’

The judge summed up and said to the jury that ‘if Bradley were proved to have been in company with the other prisoner at the time either immediately before or immediately after, and were generally acting in concert with him, no matter whether he were present at the identical moment when the shot was fired, he was equally guilty. It was quite immaterial by whose hand, of the two accomplices, the deed was done.’

After death sentence was pronounced, Bradley ‘said with a grin – ‘Thank you, my lord, I’m very glad for your sentence; I’m very glad indeed.’ He then turned round and laughed again in the most impudent manner, evidently anxious to exhibit the utmost bravado.’

The badly wounded Cadet Thompson was invalided out of the force and died only three years later. His assailers had already paid the penalty. The precious pair went to the gallows on 24 October 1853 and faded into history, although Nicolson, almost totally by virtue of his association with Ned Kelly, did not. In 1908 one of the few surviving police cadets of the period was interviewed by the Argus newspaper, who remembered Charles Hope Nicolson as ‘without doubt, the pluckiest man I knew.’

(Sources: Stefan Williams, Dictionary of Australian bushrangers: Argus 20 June 1908: Courier (Hobart) 4, 27 October 1853: Justin Corfield, The Ned Kelly encyclopedia.)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Great Colonial Baking Competition of 1878-1880 [Sharon Hollingsworth]

In modern day Beechworth you can go to the very popular Beechworth Bakery to sample some "Ned Kelly" pies and other assorted breads and pastries. Interestingly enough, back in Beechworth in the 1870s before the Kellys were out, Joe Byrne and Aaron Sherritt used to visit a pie shop that was at the same location of today's Beechworth Bakery.

Baking is a true art form that never goes out of style. Many strive to be awarded the coveted Blue Ribbon for their efforts in baking contests.

When the Kelly gang was on the run there was a great deal of baking going on in Victoria. It took a lot of loaves to fill the bellies of the gang and the police that were on their trail. I guess we can consider it as being the Great Colonial Baking Competition of 1878-1880.

Our first contender for the top prize is Constable Thomas McIntyre. On the Stringybark Creek expedition, just prior to the tragic events thereof, Mac did a bit of baking. In his manuscript he says:

"...we had plenty of flour to bake some bread; all the bread we had with us had proven to be sweet and was disagreeable when eaten with salt meat....and having cut a large sheet of bark off a white gum tree, out of which I improvised a table and a baking board I proceeded to bake some bread..."

Then after the gang had attacked the camp, some of the members sat down to eat..McIntyre said:

"Kelly then joined the others in feasting upon our cooked ham and the fresh bread that I had made....I feel pleased now, that they expressed so much approval of my bread that I believe I could have got a testimonial from them as a first class baker."

The next contender is Ned's sister, Maggie Skillion. She did a prodigious amount of baking. There was "bread baked in such quantities that it could not have been for the ordinary family." She would go out at night and make deliveries of this bread and other provisions.

Next, Mrs. Byrne, Joe Byrne's mother, also did a large amount of baking that was much more than for her immediate family's needs.

Next up for the title is Team Sherritt. Mrs. John Sherritt (Aaron Sherritt's mother) was in charge of doing all the baking for the cave parties of police. Mrs. Aaron Sherritt (Belle) did the baking for the police who were hiding in her and Aaron's hut (the four policemen went out each night with Aaron to watch Mrs. Byrne's place). She told the Royal Commission: "I was in danger myself, cooking bread for the police and staying in the house by myself at night till they came home in the morning."

We have to give honourable mention to Ned Kelly himself, who, was visiting the Sherritts (at Aaron's parents' home) while some bread was baking. He saw some dough left in the bowl and he then "took some of the dough up, and he flattened it on the table and pulled out the fire with his foot and cooked two or three pieces" all the while holding a baby in his arms!

I think our overall blue ribbon winner would be Maggie Skillion. To put it in baking terms, she is like the gluten that held the family together during the entire Kelly Outbreak. (According to the Prepared Pantry website "gluten is a substance made up of the proteins found in wheat flour that gives bread its structure, strength, and texture.") She went above and beyond to make sure that the gang were well provisioned and that everyone in her immediate circle was nurtured and cared for. She is truly the (literally) unsung heroine of the saga. (Any song cycles about her in the works?)

I think Constable McIntyre should get a special "Ingenuity in the Field" award for making quality bread in primitive conditions, sorta like a gastronomical McGyver! And he had the Kelly Gang seal of approval!

Of course, man does not live by bread alone. Sardines seemed to be a popular item for those going bush, the proverbial loaves and fishes if you will. Just after Stringybark Creek the gang stopped off at a store to purchase tins of sardines and a bottle of brandy. They also stopped by farmer Gideon Margery's place where he fed them bread, cheese and wine. There were other places that the gang would go to to liberate oranges from the groves (always good to have extra vitamin C to go along with all that vitamin B12 in sardines). Of course, friends and relatives would give aid and comfort by purchasing sardines, tinned fish, and hams, among other items which they would leave at pre-arranged places (sometimes inside a certain hollow log).  The gang must have used condiments such as mustard to season some of the German sausages that hawker Ben Gould was seen to purchase (along with corned beef). It was said Gould was never seen to eat or sell any of these purchases, so it was assumed it was for provisioning the gang. Ned Kelly even had a Keen's mustard tin that he used to hold extra ammunition in. That is the ultimate in recycling!

Once, in a very famous episode, Ned and the gang stopped by an inn on a rainy night where they were served hot stew by the owner's wife even though they did not have any money to pay for it. Weeks later Ned returned late one night to pay what was owed to the surprise of the Inn owner!

All of these folks who were helping out the gang risked their freedom. The Felons Apprehension Act stated that any person assisting the gang could receive up to fifteen years in gaol. This did not deter the sympathisers.

The gang were careful when eating and drinking at places where their identity was known. They always had the homeowner taste any food or drink before they would partake to avoid being poisoned or drugged. Constable McIntyre said that Ned asked if there was any poison around the police camp and he was made to sample the first sip of tea. They also had Mr. Scott taste the whiskey before they would take a drop during the Euroa holdup. 

The police in the Kelly chase bascially ate the same things that the gang did. Those in the cave party got their bread from Mrs. John Sherritt as mentioned above, and they had plenty of sardines. As it was reported to the Royal Commission the cave party lived on "bread and fish." Kelly author Ian Jones found some relics up at the police caves back in 1966 including two beef tins and a sardine tin. The Sherritts were supposed to have gone and cleaned the caves out once the cave parties ended but it seems they missed a few things. During the duration of the cave party an empty sardine tin that had rolled down hill and was reflecting sunlight, attracted the unwanted attention of Mrs. Byrne (whose place was being watched).

Superintendent Hare was part of the first cave party and he had this to say:

"We dared not make a fire for fear of the smoke being noticed, so we had to live on water, preserved beef, and bread. Our breakfast consisted of bread and sardines, and a drink of water, dinner and supper the same, varied with tinned beef."

On subsequent cave parties the police had jam, bread, tinned beef, sardines and "bottles of porter, ale and whiskey." There was one month's account that had 150 bottles of liquor on it, much to the consternation of the higher ups in the department (this was for a party of 5). Mrs. Sherritt had also mentioned sending up boiled bacon for them along with the bread.

Beechworth store owner Patrick Allen made a good living providing supplies for both sides in the Kelly hunt. He said of the police cave party that they "lived fat and cut it thick."

Later on after the cave parties ended, the police search parties lived on "potted beef, and biscuits and sardines." Guess there was no more bread being baked by Aaron's mother for them! Hare had said that when provisions ran out they went back to Benalla for more, but sometimes they would get meat and bread from local farmers. (I wonder if some of these same farmers had helped feed the Kellys, too?)

The Kellys were said to have played host to others while on the run. In the Otago Witness newspaper of May 3, 1879 a swagman gave an account of meeting the Kellys wherein "he said he was well treated, but he had no money, and was hungry, which may account for it. They produced cold corned beef, pickles, cheese, sardines, and a bottle of dark brandy."

There is an account by a European nobleman travelling in Australia in 1879 in which he tells of a  lunch in the bush he had (consisting of whiskey, cold meat, bread and butter and tea) with Ned and Dan.

In "The Kelly Gang From Within" series, B.W. Cookson had an installment by a man who was "Captured by the Bushrangers." Whether or not he really was bailed up by the Kellys or if it was merely someone with a flight of fancy his description of what he saw as concerns foodstuff at the outlaws' hut was not very appetizing:

"They now led me into the hut, and I was not impressed with the amount of comfort I might anticipate from the furnishings of the interior. In the centre stood what was used as a table. It was composed of a sheet of bark supported by four stakes driven into the ground. On it stood a billy and dirty pannikins, also an empty jam tin, evidently converted into a drinking vessel. Near the billy was what appeared to be the remains of a piece of meat - roast beef - burnt almost to a cinder on the outside, and nearly raw where it had been cut. There was also some kind of bread, which appeared like a cross between a damper and a johnny cake. A bottle about three-parts full of whiskey stood with the viands, and completing what appeared to be the remains of a not-distant meal."

If that is not mouth-watering enough for you, consider what he was later served to him by Joe Byrne...a tin of preserved sheep's tongue!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Article Alert: Nationwide Hunt for Kelly Gang to Decide Ned's Resting Place

from google alerts...

The Sunday Herald Sun of Sept. 18, 2011 has an article called Nationwide Hunt for Kelly Gang to Decide Ned's Resting Place.

The article begins with:

A nationwide search will be launched for long-lost descendants of Ned Kelly as his family and authorities prepare to fulfill the bushranger's dying wish.

More than 130 years after Ned was captured and hanged, a new crusade to round up the Kelly gang will begin today in a bid to have all sides of the family decide the final resting place of his remains....

From further down in the article:

But Leigh Olver, the great grandson of Kelly's sister Ellen, said the family was desperate to locate two missing ancestors before any decision was made on where he was laid to rest.

The search is on for descendants of Alice King and Jack King - Ned's half-brother and sister from his mother's second marriage to George King.

King and his wife are believed to have dumped their children, born after Ned's execution, in an orphanage and toured the world as a circus act called Kelly and Kelly.

Mr Olver, whose DNA was used to identify Ned's remains, said the family was desperate to track down all the ancestors.

"It's an important step for all the descendants of Ned to gather together and decide where his final resting place should be," he said....

To read more:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Alexander Fitzpatrick - A Forgotten Conviction [Brian Stevenson]

Poor Alexander Fitzpatrick. It is hard to think of someone less liked by more Kelly cognoscenti, and even the police did not think much of him. Indeed, so enamoured were they that when he was convalescing with a severely injured leg, he was fined five shillings for laughing in the police hospital after lights out. (Royal Commission, 1881, Question 12897.) When Fitzpatrick was discharged, Commissioner Standish viewed his conduct as 'generally bad and discreditable to the force' and added 'I cannot hold out any hope of his ever being reinstated to the position of Constable in the Victorian Police.'

Fitzpatrick was one of the last major survivors in the Kelly drama. When he died in 1924, Jim Kelly was the only figure of comparative significance still around. (Ellen Kelly had died the year before.)The journalist B W Cookson interviewed Fitzpatrick in 1911. By then, Fitzpatrick had decided to put the best spin possible on the events of 15 April 1878, stating simply that although he was little more than a boy (he was 22) he did his duty, and revealing a surprising and significant awe for Ned Kelly.

Fitzpatrick's fondness for the bottle probably played a part that fateful day. He stopped for a few drinks at David Lindsay's Winton Hotel before going to Greta to arrest Dan Kelly. What happened afterwards, of course, is a matter of conjecture, but his fondness for drink got him into more trouble many years later. Only this time, it would be he who would suffer direct consequences.

Here is what I found on the wonderful National Library Trove site, from the Melbourne Argus of 18 July 1894.

'Alexander Fitzpatrick, who was found guilty of obtaining different small sums of money from Mrs Ryan of the Saracen's Head Hotel, Bourke Street, by means of valueless cheques, came up for sentence at the Crown Court yesterday, before the Chief Justice. Mr Tucker, who appeared for the defence, asked that a light sentence should be inflicted. The prisoner was a young, married man. It also appeared that he had been drinking heavily during his stay at the hotel. the prisoner himself also addressed the Court in mitigation of sentence, and stated that when he passed the cheques he thought that he would have enough funds at the bank to meet them. He was sentence to twelve months imprisonment.'

I have found little else about this article, and am amazed that the Fitzpatrick haters, having run the hapless Alexander up hill and down dale for over 130 years, have not made anything of this little gem. To the best of my knowledge, no other writer had mentioned it. Nothing in the article identifies Fitzpatrick as having anything to do with Ned Kelly, but a couple of brief items in the Barrier Miner, the Broken Hill newspaper, helpfully mentioned the connection. [Update: many new articles have been added to Trove about this conviction in the time since the publication of this blog and some mention the Kelly connection]

I could not find any other account of this story and neither Sharon Hollingsworth nor I could turn up any other corroboration. There are online lists of prison inmates for the period, but his name does not appear on any of them. [update: after this post was published Sharon found a record for an Alexander Fitzpatrick at the PROV with the accession # of  VPRS515/P0001/48/Page362 and we discussed it at length at a couple of other Kelly forums] Moreover, Fitzpatrick was hardly young - he was 38 at the time - though he was married, and had been so for sixteen years, and had two children. The existence of more than one Alexander Fitzpatrick in Victoria in 1894 is certainly a possibility.

On the other hand, the balance of evidence certainly points to it being him. We have the Broken Hill paper's statement. Further, the prisoner Fitzpatrick evidently had a drinking problem, and so did the notorious Alex. It would be with him all his life. When he died in 1924, aged 67, one of the causes of death was cirrhosis of the liver.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Article Alert: Family Yarn Helps Close Case on Ned

from google alerts..

The Maroondah Weekly News
of September 13, 2011 has an article entitled Family Yarn Helps Close Case on Ned.

From the article:

An unearthed skull, two letters carved in a prison wall and a family tale passed down through generations.

These nuggets of information helped solve one of the nation's biggest mysteries - that of Ned Kelly's remains - and it's partly in thanks to a Ringwood man.

The legend of the bushranger has fascinated many Australians over the years, including Lee Franklin, whose own family history has been entwined in the legend of Ned Kelly.

Mr Franklin's grandfather Harry Lee was commissioned to dig up a section of the Old Melbourne Gaol in 1929 as part of a contract to build a new police garage on the site.

On the day digging began, speculation was rife that bodies, including that of Kelly, would be unearthed.....

To read more:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Article Alert: Police Map Discovery Takes Gloss Off Ned Kelly

from google alerts...

There is a story in The Age of Sept. 12, 2011 entitled Police Map Discovery Takes Gloss Off Ned Kelly.

From the article:

Researchers have uncovered evidence showing the Kelly gang more as ruthless police killers than misunderstood rebels.

Historians have discovered a map detailing how the gang murdered policemen sent to capture them in north-eastern Victoria in October 1878.

Elizabeth Marsden, the Victoria Police Museum collections manager, said a diagram outlining where the bushrangers gunned down three policemen at a camp site in the vicinity of Stringybark Creek had been discovered in old files as researchers began collating information about the Kelly gang....

To read more:

The article, somewhat abbreviated (and without a photo of the map like there was in The Age) was also in the SMH and entitled Map Reveals Kelly 'Ambushed' Police.

Article Alert: News about the Proposed Glenrowan Interpretive Centre

Here are the highlights of an article from the Wangaratta Chronicle at the NE News website (no permalink available)..

Kelly Centre Moves

Moves to establish a Ned Kelly related tourism attraction of national significance in Glenrowan are under way.

The Rural City of Wangaratta has invited tenders for a re-scoping study of the Ned Kelly Interpretive Centre.
The idea of creating an interpretive centre was last looked at in 2003, with the estimated price tag coming in at more than $10 million.
This time around council is looking to see if the price tag can be reduced and if it's possible to engage other stakeholders.
Council's economic development manager, Graham Nickless, said the re-scoping study would investigate whether the interpretive centre could incorporate other attractions in the region, including Winton Wetlands.
"The landscape has changed a lot since 2003 with the creation of Winton Wetlands and the Warby Ovens National Park," he said.
"We want to investigate whether other stakeholders have an interest in the facility.
"It needs to be something of national significance, but scaled to a size that is more achievable....."

Friday, September 9, 2011

Article Alert: Move to Bury Ned Kelly at Beechworth Jail

From google alerts..

In the September 9, 2011 edition of The Border Mail there is an article called Move to Bury Ned Kelly at Beechworth Jail.

From the article:

The owner of Beechworth's old jail has offered to have Ned Kelly's remains buried at the prison.

Sam Lawson made his offer public this morning at the official opening of the historic granite stone prison which has been turned into a tourist attraction...

To read more:

Monday, September 5, 2011

Ned Kelly's Mattress [Sharon Hollingsworth]

Recently I did a blog post about the Eldorado Museum that currently has Ellen Kelly's chair on display.
That got me to thinking about an amusing bit in the Ovens & Murray Advertiser I read a few years back about the "respectable looking woman" coming all the way from Melbourne just to sit on the same sofa that Ned Kelly sat on while he was visiting with Glenrowan Postmaster Hillmorton Reynolds. Imagine that!

So, let's see, as far as home furnishings are concerned, we have a chair, we have a sofa, and now we have a mattress associated with the Kellys.

Ned, who was injured during the siege, was afterwards transported by train to Benalla (where he spent the night in lockup) and then was taken on  to Melbourne. One of the newspapers of the day had an engraving on him being carried on a mattress from the train at the Melbourne station.

At the PROV I ran across a report from Constable Cornelius Ryan concerning a "Mattress for E. Kelly, Murderer" dated July 16, 1880. The report said it was "relative to Mrs. Powell's mattress."

It read:

"I respectfully report for the information of the Officer in Charge that on the night of 28th June I was instructed by Sgt Whelan to go and borrow a mattress to carry Ned Kelly down on."

Beneath his report there was this bit from Sr. Constable John Kelly:

"The mattress referred to was forwarded with the offender Kelly to Melbourne and has been returned here full of blood and dirt. Mrs. Powell charges 10/ for the mattress."

There were other scribbled in bits saying "Can a similar one be obtained for less money?" to which it was responded "No, a similar mattress could not be obtained for 10/ in Benalla." Finally there was a bit saying "I consider the charge reasonable."

Good to see that Mrs. Powell got proper reimbursement!

We can only hope that they burned the mattress when all was said and done!

Otherwise, ladies, respectable or not, might have traveled great distances to attempt to lay on it!

Note: Mr. & Mrs. George Powell ran Benalla's Victoria Hotel at the time of the Kellys. In 1914 Mrs. Powell, while living in Perth, reminisced about the old days of the Kelly Gang and how her husband went down to Glenrowan (as they lived 12 miles away) at the start of the siege after being awakened and alerted by others around 3 AM. Mr. Powell helped out when the doctors were tending to Ned's wounds and Dr. Hutchinson asked Ned "do you know who this is, Ned?" He said "yes, that's George Powell.." She also recalled about how Constable Scanlon (whom she described as being a fine looking fellow and jolly) was in the bar one day and she had a chat with him and then 3 days later she heard of his death at Stringybark Creek. She also mentions lending the mattress for Ned.

Also I read elsewhere where the magesterial enquiry into Martin Cherry's death was held at Powell's Victoria Hotel, too.

They seemed to be positioned to be in the thick of the action!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Article Alert: Ned 'Just a Nice Lad'

from google alerts..

It seems that folks are coming out of the woodwork with their Ned stories since the news broke of Ned's remains being identified. We should enjoy this flood of Ned news for now since many times there is quite a dearth and drought of Kelly news.

The article from the Sunshine Coast News is called Ned 'Just a Nice Lad' and in it a 90 year old lady relates her grandmother's experience when Ned showed up:

“My grandfather was away looking after cattle quite a lot and my grandma was at the home with a couple of young children,” she said.

“One day a young man came riding up and in the country, if a stranger comes, the first thing you did was invite them in for a cuppa.

“This nice young man came in and while he was sitting in the kitchen having some food, he said ‘what are you doing with that gun in the corner?'.

“‘I'm afraid of the Kelly gang', grandma replied.

“She said he replied, ‘I am Ned Kelly' and poor grandma must have nearly died with fright....

To read more:

Article Alert: Ned's Legend Still Bone of Contention

from google alerts..

In the Sept 5, 2011 edition of the Herald Sun there is an opinion piece about Ned with some really good photos of the bones.

Interesting how the writer says that if Ned was American like Jesse James there would be 1,000 books about him.

Looking in Brian McDonald's "What They Said About Ned!" (published in 2004) in which he lists "a comprehensive list of books, magazines, articles and journals on Ned for the use of librarians, researchers and collectors"  I see that there are nearly 800 entries.  With new books coming out all the time, maybe Ned can still play catch up with Jesse!

 To read the article go to

Friday, September 2, 2011

Article Alert: Jigsaw of Clues Finally Solves Ned Kelly Puzzle & I Owe Ned My Life

from google alerts...two more articles of interest.....

A Jigsaw of Clues Finally Solves the Ned Kelly Puzzle

I Owe Ned My Life (this is in reference to the Shelton family and how Ned saved their ancestor)

Article Alert: Ned Kelly's Relatives Disagree Over Remains Plan

from google alerts...a couple of more articles of interest out of the plethora available..I am just cherry-picking ones to share, but you can go to google and search the news and find all you desire. Also,  I have decided to delay my new original blog posting for a few days so that it won't get lost in the news shuffle. Keep checking back for that. On to the articles....

There is one called Ned Kelly's Relatives Disagree Over Remains Plan that has the following:

Anthony Griffiths, a descendant of Ned Kelly's sister Grace, has said any public exhibition of the bones would be 'macabre and disgusting' and 'something out of medieval times'.

However another of Grace's descendants, Joanne Griffiths, told Drive with Lindy Burns she likes the idea of displaying the remains at the State Library.

To read more:

Then there is one wherein the Chief Commissioner (Ken Lay) weighs in on Ned Kelly. And I cannot believe what was alleged by the great grandson of Sgt Kennedy! (Well, yes, I can, actually, as he drags out that tired old furphy every chance he gets.)

From the article:

And scientists have identified the remains of iconic Australian bush ranger Ned Kelly but not everybody is celebrating. Ken Lay told Jon Faine he’d been speaking to the great grandson of Sgt Michael Kennedy who was murdered by Kelly at Stringybark Creek and who told him that Ned Kelly was no hero to his family while describing how his great grandfather had been shot in the back of the head while retreating.
To read more:

Ok, I have to weigh in on this one. In Constable Thomas McIntyre's manuscript "A True Narrative of the Kelly Gang, by T.N. McIntyre, Sole Survivor of the Police Party Murderously Attacked by Those Bushrangers in the Wombat Forest, on the 26th October, 1878" he quotes a telegram from Sub-Inspector Pewtress in which it said of Kennedy:

"The body was face upwards and Kennedy's cloak thrown over it. It presented a frightening spectacle. He had been shot through the side of the head the bullet coming out in front carrying away part of the face.."

Note that McIntyre inserted the following statement in parentheses in the narrative just after that bit:

(This was a mistake as it was due to decomposition.)

Later in his narrative McIntyre had this quote from Dr. Reynolds regarding Kennedy's wounds:

There is a large wound in the centre of the sternum which I believe was caused by a charge of shot fired at a very short range and which passed completely through the body. He had also received other wounds one being in the right arm and one in the body under the arm."


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Article Alert: Bring Ned Kelly Home

from google alerts..

The Border Mail has an article entitled Bring Ned Kelly Home, dated Sept. 2, 2011.

It begins with:

The historic Greta cemetery, alongside his mother, would be the ideal resting place for Ned Kelly.
That’s the opinion of Michael Beattie, who has played Ned Kelly at Beechworth’s Kelly Festival for the past six years....

To read more:

Article Alert: Blaze Erupts at Mansion Once Owned by Ned Kelly's Judge Redmond Barry

from google alerts...

Sifting through the tremendous amount of Ned Kelly news that has been coming out today, this article from the Herald Sun called Blaze Erupts at Mansion Once Owned by Ned Kelly Judge Redmond Barry caught my eye.

The article begins with:

Police are investigating a suspicious fire in a historic East Melbourne mansion with links to Ned Kelly.

The blaze happened just days before forensic experts revealed they had identified the bushranger's remains.

Emergency services were called to Clarendon St about 9.40 pm on Saturday where flames were seen coming from the first floor of the heritage-listed building...

To read more:

Article Alert: Paul Tully wants to compare Ned's DNA with that of Ipswich's James Ryan

From google alerts..

There is an article in the Queensland Times called DNA test may solve mystery dated 2nd September 2011..

 The article begins with:

The truth about whether bushranger Dan Kelly, brother of Ned, is truly buried in the Ipswich Cemetery is now one step closer to being revealed.

Ipswich councillor and historian Paul Tully has raised the prospect of an exhumation of the remains of James Ryan, who claimed to be the bushranger Dan Kelly until his death in 1948.

Cr Tully’s call has come in the wake of news that remains exhumed from Pentridge Prison in Melbourne are those of Ned Kelly, who was hanged in 1880. Doctors and scientists at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine confirmed the find.

It continues on with:

“This now gives us the definite opportunity of comparing the DNA,” Cr Tully said.

“The state government needs to give approval.

"There was a claim that Steve Hart was buried in Toowoomba and there was an exhumation of a grave up there years ago – so it wouldn’t be the first time a supposed bushranger’s grave was reopened.”

To read more:

Article Alert: Now Ned Kelly's Found, What Do We Do With Him

From google alerts..

There are several new interesting articles out today about Ned Kelly's remains with people like Senior-Constable Mick Kennedy, Leigh Olver, Peter Norden, Anthony Griffiths and Ian Jones among others weighing in. I believe Jones has it right:

"As with everything else about Ned, it will be polarised."


Now That Ned Kelly's Found, What Do We Do With Him

Victim's Relative Fears New Take on History

Scientists Identify Ned Kelly's Remains