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


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Montfort and Montiford: A Confusion of Names [Sharon Hollingsworth]

I wonder if anyone else is as confused as I am when it comes to the players in the Kelly saga by the names of Montfort and Montiford? It should be simple enough to differentiate between the two as one was in the force for 50 years and was a police Inspector at the time of the Kelly outbreak. Back in 1870 he had been in on the capture of Harry Power along with Hare and Nicolson. While he was not directly in the hunt for the Kellys, he was in charge of the Russell Street Barracks for a while and was on the scene and in charge when Ned Kelly was taken off the train in Melbourne after leaving Benalla just after the siege. He later was assigned Sadleir's position in the NE of Victoria. In that capacity he was along the day that the Royal Commissioners visited the Kelly homestead. All except Montfort (who was on horseback) rode in wagons causing Mrs. Kelly to quip: "I didn't know who you all could be; I thought it was a circus parade."

The other person in question was a mounted constable based in Wangaratta who arrived at the siege with Sgt. Steele's contingent and who received part of the reward money. In Constable Dwyer's piece for Life magazine in 1910 that Brian Stevenson had previously blogged about, Dwyer related that:

Ned walked a couple of hundred yards away from the hotel, and lay down under a large fallen log. Just then Mounted-Constables Montiford, Cawsey, Moore, and Dixon, of the Wangaratta contingent, were walking up to the back of the hotel from the railway line. Ned's armour, which he had on, rattled, which caused the police to stand, Moore asking, 'What noise was that?' 'Oh, it must be the noise of the horse's hobbles,' Montiford replied.
"Ned Kelly, in relating this incident to Superintendent Sadleir and myself, as he lay on the couch in Mr. Stanistreet's office, afterwards laughed, saying that he could have pinched Montiford's leg at the time.

Montiford was also the constable that told Maggie Skillion, upon her arrival on horseback at the siege, to "go cannot come in here."

I guess that it was when people heard the two names pronounced that is when the confusion set in. For example, in the Royal Commission's Minutes of Evidence in 1881, W.B. Montfort gave evidence. He was also referred to by other witnesses. In some of those instances his name was given as Montfort. In several other instances his name was given as Montford, including in the list of witnesses!

Things got really interesting when Constable John Montiford was referred to by witnesses. His name was given correctly in a few places but his name was given as Montford in a few other places and then given as Montfort more than half a dozen times! There was no confusing who they were talking about when they gave the name as Montfort, as it was clearly talking about the constable at Glenrowan and his actions. Inspector W.B. Montfort was not at the siege at all, so it wasn't him. When the names are given of constables later in the Royal Commission, Constable Montiford's name is given correctly there, along with his number (2697).

Then there was the confusion of names in other sources. Kenneally has Inspector Montfort listed and then later in the text has it as Mountford and Ian Jones has Constable Mountiford instead of Constable Montiford.

But if you really want confusion, in Corfield's Ned Kelly Encyclopaedia he states that John Montiford's family added O'Brien to the the family name in the 1890s, making him John Montiford-O'Brien!

If anyone was researching these men, they would do well to make sure which one did what and when before using the information!

And don't get me started on how Charles Hope Nicolson's last name is often misspelled Nicholson. Odd how Dr. John Nicholson's name is never given as Nicolson, though! And not forgetting how Sadleir is often misspelled Sadlier, and the Old Melbourne Gaol is often given online as the Old Melbourne Goal! Trust me, gaol is never an outlaw's goal!!!! One good thing about the internet is if one makes a spelling (or fact) booboo it can be easily fixed...try that with a printed book! Moral of the story: choose your editor wisely! I remember getting started out with reading Australian websites and being struck by their use of s instead of z in words like realize. They have rubbed off on me and now I use the bits like neighbour and colour instead of neighbor and color when writing for the blog, but when I do things in the real world I have to remember to revert back to the American usage!  Ok, mini-rant over, I will take off my "spelling police" hat now!

Oh, yeah, before I close, there is an oddly interesting aside regarding Inspector Montfort that I came across in an 1889 paper:

 "It is represented that in 1883, Inspector Montfort, with the approval of the higher authorities in the force, refused to sanction the marriage of certain constables in the North-eastern district for no other reason than that "too many" were applying for permission to marry."

Then just after seeing that I saw in the Royal Commission (from 1881) where he said that:

3321. What difference is made between the single and the married men in appointments?—I never knew any difference. If a man is thought suitable he is sent to a certain place; of course at some stations it would be necessary to station a married man; in some stations the man’s wife cooks for the station. In some there are quarters only for married men.
3322. Would that do in the North-Eastern district?—I have a great dislike to married men myself, but my opinion is not shared by every officer in the force.

Tragically, on a personal note, Montfort's first wife died at age 29 in 1882 during childbirth. The child died 3 days later. He remarried within a couple of years and started a new family. I do wonder why did he not wish for other men to take wives?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Article Alert: Two New Ned Kelly Articles: One Pro/One Con

from google alerts..

The Weekly Times has an opinion piece from Christopher Bantick called "Why We Need Ned Kelly" in which he shreds Ned like he has done so many times before in the past.

Then in the Border Mail we have an article called "Ned Kelly was Not a Murderer" in which a lawyer defends Ned and says if he would have had a competent lawyer he might have gotten off on a self-defense charge.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ned Kelly Related Material at the University of Melbourne's Digital Repository [Sharon Hollingsworth]

During a recent google search I stumbled over a great resource for Ned Kelly related material. The University of Melbourne has a Digital Repository where you can find great stuff related to the Royal Commission on the Police Force of Victoria. I found the "Minutes of Evidence Taken Before Royal Commission on the Police Force of Victoria" (what we affectionately call "The RC") there. I have a hard copy so I did not try to download all 720 pages of it...mainly because I am on dial up and it guesstimated that it would take "1 day, 13 hours" to do so!!!  Even with the Public Records Office of Victoria archives I usually have to go to the library to get large files to load. If one has broadband and can load the RC from the Digital Repository it would be a good thing as it is a digital copy and not one typed in by someone that may contain errors (either accidental or intentional!).

However, other files there are not so large. I found the First and Second Progress Report of the Royal Commission of Enquiry into the Circumstances of the Kelly Outbreak. (The Second Progress Report is also reprinted in the book "Ned Kelly After A Century of Acrimony.")

Also there was the report called "Police Commission - Charges Against Members of the Police Force" that also included the "Additional Return."

There were others including an Ad Interim Report on the Kelly Outbreak, a General Report on the Police Department and a Special Report on the Detective Branch.

Also the Kelly Reward Board
Report is there.

If you have a copy of What They Said About Ned! by Brian McDonald you can read entries (located under "Kelly, Edward") of what each of these reports entails. Brian McDonald's website is if you would like to order it or other books he reprints.

Originals of many of the smaller reports (some 4 pages and some maybe 20 some pages) have been on ebay in the past and have sold for hundreds of dollars. I prefer to read them for free....hats off to the University of Melbourne's Digital Repository for making it possible for those of us who are short on coin but long on curiosity to be able to do so!

To find all this go to:

Then use these two search terms:

Kelly Reward Board

Victoria Royal Commission on the Police Force of Victoria

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Article Alert: Kelly Plot Thickens

From google alerts..

The Weekly Times Now has an article entitled "Kelly Plot Thickens" in which Greta Cemetery Trust Secretary Christine Magee said the following:

"...While their exact location remains hidden from the public, Christine admitted it took "three people and a lot of measuring" to pin-point the Kelly graves.
"There are 3000 plots down there and there's just short of 700 burials and (the Kellys) are not the only ones that aren't marked," she said...."

"...Christine admitted security, and the memory of others buried at Greta, were issues to be discussed. "The trouble is, if you've got a marker, especially with the Kellys, people will try to souvenir things like that. Even bolting it down probably wouldn't be enough to stop it.
"I don't think (Ned's grave) will ever be marked. There may be a plaque or something down near the gates, but that's up to the family."

To read in full:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bill Frost - Ellen Kelly's Forgotten Lover [Brian Stevenson]

 Despite her reputation as the 'notorious' Mrs Kelly, and despite the scrutiny applied to the documented actions of just about all members of her family over the last 130 years plus, Ned Kelly's mother Ellen had only three lovers whose names are known to history.

Everyone interested in the Kelly story has heard of John 'Red' Kelly, father of Ned, who once said of his ex-convict and hard-drinking dad 'a finer man never drew breath.' Most know of George King, the transplanted Californian who became Ned's stepfather and probably helped his stepson with the finer points of organised stock theft. But Bill Frost, an English stockrider whose association with Ellen Kelly occurred between that of her two husbands is pretty much forgotten.

According to his entry in Justin Corfield's Ned  Kelly  Encyclopedia William Frost was born in Suffolk in 1833 and probably arrived in Melbourne in 1857. He worked on a property near Greta owned by Hector Simson of Laceby. In June 1869 he had an affair with Ellen Kelly. When she became pregnant, Frost promised to marry her. However, when in March 1870 their baby daughter, Ellen, was born, Frost broke his promise. Ellen had to take him to court to compel him to support the child, and the story was reported in the Benalla Ensign and Farmer's and Squatter's journal for 21 October 1871.

The court heard that Frost was a constant weekend visitor at Eleven Mile Creek, generally going there on Saturday and leaving on Sunday night or Monday morning, and staying overnight in Ellen's room. Ellen testified to this effect, and remembered Frost sleeping with her on or about 25 June 1869 - a female child, also called Ellen, was born on 25 March 1870. According to Ellen, Frost had promised to provide for the child, and had bought little Ellen several presents, including a suit of clothes. Frost had never denied that the child was his, but when he made plans to marry another woman, the support had dried up. Ellen's solicitor had written to him and Frost had visited the Eleven Mile and told Ellen he would give her five or ten pounds and his horse to settle the matter. But Ellen, unsurprisingly, was not satisfied.

A couple of other men named William Gray and Jack Daniels (!) were boarding on and off at the Eleven Mile at the time, but Ellen denied intimacy with either of them. Her son-in-law, often referred to as William Skillion, but referred to here as William Skilling backed her up. Annie Gunn, Ellen's married daughter, stated that Frost was intimate with her mother and that he had admitted the paternity of little Ellen on several occasions. Moreover, Frost had given her a pound to buy clothes for the child. Annie Murdoch, a neighbour of Ellen Kelly, testified that she cooked a meal for Frost one evening and saw him go into Ellen's room for the night. Finally, a witness named Hanna Malyon swore that she had remonstrated with Frost over the matter: 'Why don't you pay Mrs Kelly; you know you are the father of the child!' Frost replied: 'I know that, but I won't pay her anything, but I do not deny the child and will not deny it in court.'

The Police Magistrate, Mr Butler heard the evidence and made his decision. As the Ensign expressed it: 'The Bench remarked that it men would be so foolish as to do such things they must expect a penalty for their actions.' For once, the law came down on the side of the Kelly family. On 17 October 1871, Frost was ordered to pay five shillings a week for two years for the support of little Ellen.

Sad to relate, Frost was not out of pocket for too long. In January 1872, little Ellen died. She was buried on 30 January and, presumably, Frost was off the hook for payments.

It would appear that the Kelly family was fond of the name Ellen. As well as little Ellen, who died at less than two years old, Ellen Kelly had another daughter called Ellen by George King, Ned's official stepfather. This Ellen lived a long life and died in 1963. Annie Gunn, the eldest Kelly girl, had a little girl, also named Ellen, by her husband Alex Gunn. The baby, born in 1871, lived only a few months. Newly married Maggie Skilling (or Skillion) had a baby that she named Ellen, also. This Ellen drowned herself as a young woman in 1897 after an argument over money with her defacto stepfather - none other than Tom Lloyd - possibly influencing Kate Kelly's possible suicide in the lagoon at Forbes, New South Wales the next year. All of which means that Ellen Kelly named two of her daughters after herself, and had two granddaughters named after her!

As for William Frost, by the time he was being taken court for maintenance, he was already married to another woman, Bridget Cotter. They married in June 1871, but nothing is known about the first ten years or so of their married life, during which, of course, Frost's defacto stepson Ned grew to manhood and became a legend even before being claimed by the gallows. Frost was presumably very aware of Ned's exploits, but there is no record of what he thought of them, or if he felt a twinge when Ellen was sentenced to three years gaol in 1878 in the wake of the Fitzpatrick affray, or when two of her sons died highly publicised deaths in 1880.

Bridget left Frost in April 1882 and went to Melbourne but in October he travelled to the city and brought her back. After she returned, the two of them got on better, and, in Bridget's words, 'he did not ill-treat me in any way.' But it seems that Bill Frost still had issues, and on 13 November they came to a head.

Bill woke up at 4 when he heard his dogs barking and grumpily went back to bed. Bridget arose about 4.30 and went to boil water for his tea. Before the water had time to boil, Frost (obviously a sensitive Victorian age guy) called out to her angrily 'Bring me that tea.' Peculiarly, in Bridget's words, she 'made tea and toast, and beat an egg up in the tea and gave it to him.' (This may have been a misprint in the newspaper.) She put it on a box near him and said to him 'Take that and you'll be able to get up.' Bill answered 'I'm not going to get up - I'm going to die.' Bridget said nothing and went out and had some tea - hopefully without an egg in it.

Bill then called out to her 'Send for your brother, for you'll want him, as you'll have more trouble on your mind than you are aware of.' Bridget retorted that she would have to make some arrangement before she sent for her brother, because he had a good job with good wages. She went on with her domestic chores, and was skimming milk when Bill 'called out in an angry tone for me to come.'

When she came into the room, Bill produced an uncorked bottle and told her to look at it. She took the bottle and put on her glasses and read the label: strychnine. 'You wicked man!' said Bridget. 'Are you going to poison yourself?'

Bill said: 'Look at that cup.'  Bridget looked and saw that the cup in which she had brought the tea was empty. She thought Frost was trying to frighten her, but still said 'I must send for the doctor.' She called a young lad called John Reisenauer, who was in their employ, and told him to catch a horse and go for the doctor. Frost called out to John: 'You can't catch any horse and I don't want the doctor.' Bridget went on with her housework, but John told her to come to Frost quickly. Frost was in pain and struggling and she said: 'Can I do anything for you?' Frost answered: 'It's no good now: I must die.' By 6.55 am William Frost, Ellen Kelly's forgotten lover was dead.

A full account of the inquest was published in the North Eastern Ensign (Benalla) the next day, 14 November 1882. Dr Nicholson, presumably the same individual who treated Ned Kelly after he was captured at Glenrowan (and, in an action presumably not in accordance with medical ethics, souvenired the famous green silk sash) testified that Bill's body was well nourished, had sound organs and showed no trace of disease. But to the doctor's mind the evidence was enough to show that Bill Frost had died from strychnine poisoning. The jury, no doubt mindful of the low regard that suicide was held in those days, probably alleviated Bridget's feelings a little by ruling that Bill had been of unsound mind at the time.

A little over two years before, Ned Kelly had said that he feared death as little as to drink a cup of tea. Ironically, one of the fringe players in the Kelly saga would demonstrate this in a way that could not have been more literal. 

Bridget Frost died in 1884.

[A Reminder: Though it says "posted by Sharon Hollingsworth" this blog was written by Brian Stevenson, I uploaded it for him as he was having technical difficulties doing so.]

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Fierce Campaign of Calumny [Sharon Hollingsworth]

Today it is November 10, 2011 here in the USA but it is already November 11 in Australia. So I figured I would put up my little Ned Kelly commemoration day bit now instead of waiting for tomorrow.

It has been an exciting week here in the Kelly world with the news of Ned's newly identified remains being returned to his family for proper burial. That surely is generating tons of press. Most of the articles are just variations on the same theme, so I don't give every link that comes out, but all of those articles are easily findable on the net. (Also note due to copyright concerns I try not to cut and paste full stories.) What else is easily findable is a lot of dissention, distortions, misrepresentations and misconceptions about Ned Kelly in these articles or in the feedback/comments for them. Heck, it's not like we already didn't have enough dissention and misconception going on in general amongst those who actually like Ned to start with!

It is amazing to think on the fact that one hundred and thirty one years on from the day of Ned's execution that he is still generating news, causing debates, aggravating policemen and tugging at our heartstrings. His remains may soon be placed in consecrated ground but his spirit will never be contained in that good earth!

As so aptly put decades ago by Max Brown in the foreward to "Australian Son":

"...Strange that four such young men, born of the soil, educated by few books, but by the deeds of men and the signs of the earth, should live so briefly and be remembered so long in spite of the fiercest campaign of calumny the young colony had witnessed. People are not remembered for nothing; and Kelly, nearly seventy years dead, his own defence till now denied a hearing, will not lie down..."

Despite once being called "the smartest woman I have ever met" by someone in the Kelly world, even I had to look up what "calumny" meant.

Here is the definition:


1.The making of false and defamatory statements in order to damage someone's reputation; slander.
2. A false and slanderous statement.

Yes, Max, it seems that a fierce campaign of calumny against Ned continues even now!

As far as events to commemorate the day, I read where there was to be a viewing of the Ned's Head documentary followed by a panel discussion at the State Library of Victoria but that was cancelled supposedly due to copyright concerns. Then the Old Melbourne Gaol commemoration dinner that was scheduled for the 10th was cancelled due to poor ticket sales. The poor sales were supposedly due to a very high ticket cost. It is almost like you would have to emulate the Kelly Gang and rob a bank to get into the gaol!!!! 

Actually, we don't need one certain spot (whether it is the gaol, a graveyard or a clearing in a forest) where we can go and commemorate Ned Kelly. We also don't need a certain day like June 28 or November 11 ("The Kelly High Holy Days"). We can keep Ned and his cause in our thoughts every day no matter how near or far we are to the North East of Victoria. We can only hope that a hundred and thirty one years from now (and beyond) others will continue to do the same.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

Event Alert: Ned Dinner at OMG has been called off

The Ned Kelly commemorative dinner that was scheduled at the Old Melbourne Gaol for Nov 10, 2011 has been cancelled according to their website.