The childhood home of bushranger Ned Kelly at 44 Kelly St, Beveridge, north of Melbourne was sold on the 20th of September 2014 for $640,000. The house is believed to have been built around 1859 or 1860, when the young Ned was about four years old.

According to Heritage Victoria, the original house had just three rooms but was extended over time to have 11 rooms. And given Ned was one of eight children, it’s no wonder. Ned’s father John built the house using local stone and his knowledge of cottages from his native Ireland. It was home to the bushranger for about four years, before the family moved north to the town of Avenel, where the young Ned went to school. Today this is the only one of Ned Kelly’s childhood homes that remains intact and it carries a heritage register overlay thanks to its architectural and historical significance. It’s also a popular stop on the Ned Kelly trail, that follows the story of the bushranger’s life.

 

EXECUTED ON THIS DAY……. 3rd August 1864

On Wednesday morning at nine o’clock the sentence of death was carried into effect upon Christopher Harrison, Samuel Woods and William Carver, convicted at the late criminal Sittings of the Supreme Court in Melbourne, —Harrison, of murder and the others, Woods and Carver, of robbery in company of wounding. Since their condemnation the three prisoners have been visited by ministers of various denominations, and it may be hoped that both Harrison and Carver profited by the consolations of religion; but in case of Woods both Protestant and Catholic clergymen failed to make an impression, and he refused to join in any devotional exercise, saying he could not give his mind to the subject. The Very Rev. the Deane of Melbourne, the Rev. R. N. Woolaston, the Rev. Geo. Mackie, and the chaplain of the gaol, the Rev C. Studdert, were all in attendance on the prisoners yesterday morning.  Prior to the prisoners being brought out, the sheriff mentioned to the persons assembled (about fifty in number) that on the last similar occasion (the execution of Barrett) there had been an indecent exhibition of crowding forward on the part of the spectators, and he begged that this might not be repeated saying at the same time, that if it were he should order the gate of the yard (where the gallows stands) to be closed against them. The hour having arrived, Harrison was the first to leave the cell, and prior to being pinioned, addressed the spectators for five or six minutes in a firm tone of voice, stating he did not complain of the judge, the jury or the law which had condemned him to die. He had no fear of death, but he could not believe he had committed any very great crime; he had only done what other men would have done in his place. He also made a rambling statement about the ad mixture of prisoners of various degrees of crime in the gaol. He said he had endeavoured all his life to do good to society. and would never willingly have done a man an injury. He wished that his body should be given to Professor Halford.

Woods was next brought out and pinioned. He expressed himself bitterly against Jeremiah Phillips alias James Naylor, of Tasminia, and said if he had had in his cell the previous night the two wretches, Phillips and Anderson, that had left him in this, he would have done something to be hanged for. He said he considered they had no right to hang him for he had not committed any murder; and he prayed a fearful imprecation on his head if he intentionally fired the pistol.  Carver, on being brought out, said that he forgave his enemies and hoped for forgiveness himself. He had before his trial objected to a cast of his head, or pictures of him in the newspapers, but now he hoped it would be done, that he might serve as an example. He hoped his punishment by death would make some atonement for the life he had lived.  Woods again spoke, and said he blessed his friends and cursed his enemies. He then in a loud voice, sang a verse of four lines, altered by himself to introduce his name. The behaviour of this man, was offensively unsuited to the solemnity of the occasion and altogether the scene in the corridor of the gaol was of an unusually painful description, two of the condemned showing rather submission than resignation to their fate. The criminals having arrived on the scaffold before the final preparations were concluded, both Harrison and Woods expressed themselves grateful for the kindness they had received from the Governor and the officers of the gaol, Harrison particularly mentioning that he knew they could have put irons on his legs, but Mr. Wintle had forborne to do so. At about quarter past nine o’clock the drop fell and the men died instantly. Harrison never moved at all.

 

 

 

On This Day ……. 3rd of August 1887

David Craweonr, pawnbroker, pleaded guilty on the charges of using false
pretences, on this day in 1887. He was sentenced to two years imprisonment in the Geelong gaol with hard labor. His Honour said that due to the prisoner’s age he would refrain from adding to the sentence terms of solitary confinement.

 

On This Day ……. 2nd of August 1887

An aged inmate of the Geelong gaol named John Lynch, died at about 7:30pm on this day in 1887, in the hospital attached to that institution. An enquiry will be held upon the remains at 9 o’clock in the morning, before Mr Pardey, J.P.

 

On This Day ……. 2nd of August 1875

A prisoner named George Buckley, undergoing a sentence of 12 months for vagrancy, and who was transferred from the Melbourne Gaol in April last died at the Geelong Gaol on this day in 1875 from phthisis. An inquest was held, and a verdict returned in accordance with the facts of the case.

 

Despite dubbing himself with a title more fitting for a comic book hero than an Australian bushranger, ‘Captain Thunderbolt’ Frederick Ward recruited children for armed holdups and shootouts with police. Originally a drover from Paterson River, New South Wales, Ward was charged with horse thievery and sent to Cockatoo Island, Sydney harbour in August 1856 to serve 10 years of hard labour. After escaping on 11 September 1863, he settled into a life of armed robbery. Among Ward’s juvenile accomplices was 16-year-old John Thomson, who was shot and captured by police during an armed robbery, 16-year-old orphan Thomas Mason, who was captured by police and convicted of highway robbery, and 13-year-old runaway William Monckton. On 25 May 1870, Ward was shot-dead by Constable Alexander Walker at Kentucky Creek, Uralla.

 

A gun belonging to the brother of notorious Australian outlaw Ned Kelly and used in the gang’s infamous last stand against police fetched to $125,000 when it was auctioned on the 21st of November 2012. The East India Company cavalry pistol, which belonged to Kelly’s younger brother Dan and has his name and the year 1876 engraved on the walnut stock, was sold by Melbourne’s Leski Auctions. Auctioneer Charles Leski expected the vintage muzzle-load single-shot percussion pistol, which uses powder and a lead ball instead of a cartridge, to fetch up to Aus$125,000 (£81,700). Dan Kelly had the pistol with him during the 1880 siege of the Glenrowan Inn, when his outlaw brother and their gang made one last stand against police. Everyone but Ned Kelly – wearing his iconic home-made plate metal armour and helmet – was killed in the showdown. Kelly was later hanged at Melbourne Gaol, famous for uttering the final phrase “such is life”. “The Kelly Gang – Ned, Dan, Steve Hart and Joe Byrne – has loomed large in Australia’s consciousness for more than 130 years,” Mr Leski said.

 

On This Day ……. 1st of August 1953

Donald Maxfield was reported missing from Colac on the 13th of May, 1953. He was a 22 year old labourer. On this day in 1953, the torso of a man was pulled from the Barwon River. Divers would eventually find the rest of Maxfield’s body, which had been dismembered and placed in kerosene tins and sunk in the Barwon River. It was believed the Maxfield was attacked and bashed in a garage in Colac by Andrew Kilpatrick and Russell Hill, aged 33 and 22 respectively, both from Colac. The men had placed the unconscious body of Maxfield in the boot of a car and had driven to Geelong. Maxfield regained consciousness and was again bashed to death on the banks of the Barwon. It was reported that this was a payback as it was believed that Maxfield had spoken to police about some of Kilpatrick’s dealings
Kilpatrick and Hill were arrested on the 1st August 1953 for the murder of Maxfield. Hill had confessed that with Kilpatrick, they had beaten Maxfield to death with an iron bar and then dismembered his body and thrown it in the Barwon. Information from Hill led to the divers recovering the torso after a 5 hour search of the river. The torso had been covered in an oat sack, wrapped in wire and weighed down with stone weights so that it was roughly 100lbs. The head and hands were later discovered in kerosene tins in the river. Both men were charged with murder and sent to trial in October 1953. Both Kilpatrick and Hill were sentenced to death. This was later commuted to life imprisonment with no remissions for Kilpatrick and 20 years with no remissions for Hill. Kilpatrick served his sentence in Pentridge, where he was a notorious figure because of his crime. He later became an ideal prisoner and was released on parole in 1976 after serving 23 years. Hill served his 20 years in the Geelong Gaol working in the prison library and other jobs.

 

On This Day….. 1st Aug 2014

On the 1st August 2014, 28-year-old Vikramjit Singh escaped from the Dhurringile prison in Victoria. Vikramjit who escaped at 6:40pm, was the seventh escapee in 11 months, concerned residents are urging authorities to reconsider prison security. Vikramjit was described as 177cm tall, medium build, dark hair, brown eyes, has a beard and will be wearing prison greens. Vikramjit is not of danger to the public and authorities urged anybody who knows of Vikramjit’s location.

 

On This Day ……. 1st of August 1930

John Taylor had been found battered to death on the floor of his Fitzroy shop on the corner of Argyle and Fitzroy Streets at 6am on the 7th of June 1930. It was believed that Taylor had been killed shortly after closing time on Friday, when the thief entered the shop, killed Taylor and left with a large sum of money. A post mortem revealed that Taylor, and 80 year old man, suffered a broken jaw, 4 broken ribs, an injury to his throat as well as various bruises and lacerations. Arthur Skerritt was arrested on Friday the 13th of June, 1930. He was arrested as he had goods that had been brought at Taylor’s shop and it was also alleged that some of Taylor’s property was discovered in the house where Skerritt lived. Much was made in the newspapers of the fact that Skerritt was a coloured man. Evidence presented at the inquest stated that Skerritt was drunk and had left home with nothing but had returned with a sugar bag full of goods and a quantity of coppers and a sovereign. The accused lived a few doors down from Taylor’s shop. Skerritt was heard to remark that he must of done it as he was drinking. The trial for murder took place in July and on this day in 1930, Skerritt was found guilty of wilful murder and sentenced to death. An appeal was lodged but was dismissed. The Government of the day stepped in as the Labour party was opposed to capital punishment. Skerritt’s life sentence was commuted to life imprisonment for the term of his natural life without benefit of regulation. Skerritt was originally incarcerated at Pentridge prison but was transferred to Geelong Gaol at some stage. Pleas for his release because of his age began in 1946 and were still going in 1949. Authorities described him as crafty and unscrupulous and saw no reason to release him, fearing that he would continue to steal and would end up back in prison. Skerritt died of cardiac failure in 1953 still incarcerated in the Geelong Gaol.

 

On This Day ……. 31st of July 1890

An inquiry into the supposed murder of George Avery, at the Camperdown Hotel, the particulars of which appeared in The Argus, was commenced in the Camperdown Police Court on this day in 1890, Mr. Heron, P. M. , and a jury of five. A man who occupied the same room with Avery on the night the fatal blow was struck, and who disappeared the next morning, was present in custody, having been arrested yesterday in a hut on Mr. Thomas Shaw’s Wooriwyrite Station, about 17 miles from here. He is a man about 58 years of age, strongly built, has a very marked Scottish accent, and gives the name of William Tudehook. For two days and nights the police have been scouring the country in search of this man. They were accompanied by Mr. Henry, the landlord of the hotel, in order that he might identity the man, who had been at his hotel on the previous Saturday night. When the man was seen at the hotel he carried a bush walking stick, but,when arrested the stick could nowhere be found, and he stated to the police that he had thrown it away. At the inquest, Dr. Pettigrew described the nature of the wound on the top of the deceased’s head, which appeared to have beeninflicted by some sharp instrument, and could not from its position have been easily caused by a fall. Some men who were about the hotel gave formal evidence. Senior constable Quinn, who arrested the prisoner, gave the substance of a conversation he had with him. The prisoner stated that when he left the room on Sunday morning the deceased was in bed, and that he did not notice anything peculiar about him. During the night Avery and he had a conversation in which Avery told him that he had had some trouble with his family, but beyond this nothing more passed between the prisoner and the deceased. The prisoner is a stranger in this district, and unknown to the police. He was remanded to the Geelong Gaol, and the inquiry was adjourned until August 19, to allow the police to collect further evidence.

 

From one moral extreme to another, ‘Gentleman Bushranger’ Martin Cash was easily one of Australia’s most considerate criminals. Cash was originally sent to Sydney from Ireland in 1827 for shooting a rival suitor in the buttocks. After serving seven years, he left for Tasmania as a free man only to be charged shortly after with theft and sentenced to a further seven years at the Port Arthur Penal Settlement.

During one escape attempt, Cash joined forces with experienced bushrangers George Jones and Lawrence Kavanagh to form a gang called ‘Cash & Co.’. Together, they stole from wealthy settlers and inns without violence, earning them the title of ‘Gentlemen Bushrangers’. Cash died in his bed at age 69.