Posts

A rare photo of Ned Kelly not seen by the public in 138 years has resurfaced

A RARE photo of outlaw bushranger Ned Kelly not seen by the public for 138 years went under the hammer at auction in February 2016. The photo has only previously been seen by a select few when Lawsons auction house sold it in 1988. The photo formerly belonged to descendants of William Turner, the 1878-9 Mayor of Launceston in Tasmania and since its 1988 sale it has been kept in a private Sydney collection. It has now resurfaced and will go under the hammer once again. The photo taken in December 1878 shows a relaxed Ned Kelly, centre, standing with his brother Dan Kelly on the left and gang member Steve Hart on the right. The photo was signed by all three men but the signatures were written by Joe Byrne, a Kelly Gang member, as none of the other men could read or write. Tom Tompson, a publisher and specialist for auction houses, told News Corp Australia the photo was taken in the town of Euroa on the day the Kelly Gang robbed the local bank. This was the Kelly’s first bank robbery and a means to support themselves while in hiding from authorities. Tompson said the photo was taken as an attempt for the men to gain support from sympathisers. “Ned was compiling letters, which Joe Byrne actually wrote for him, and these were put to newspapers who in the main would not publish them because the Victorian police were coming down hard on anything that looked like sympathetic treatment of outlaws,” Tompson said. Tompson said the photo shows the three men deliberately portraying a different image of themselves having gotten rid of their old clothing. “You can see a larrikin streak which is obviously there, they’ve got their new duds (clothes), they’re making their mark and it’s a very likeable shot of the Kellys instead of the dour, dark and troubling ones that exist,” he said. The photo has been pasted on a Tasmanian photographer’s card, then glued to 1920s Kodak paper. The photo has now been published in the new edition of George Wilson Hall’s book The Kelly Gang, Or, Outlaws of the Wombat Ranges. Tompson said there is huge historic value to the photo. “The Kellys are very much part of a mythical Australia,” he said. “At the time the Irish were being treated incredibly badly, they weren’t allowed to have schooling or own horses. “They bought out the Irish police to create the Victorian police force to keep a form of class distinction,” he said. The Kelly Gang became a Robin Hood-type myth for a lot of people who were struggling with their life in Australia, he added. Tompson said photos such as this one were traded between sympathisers and photographers for years. Lawsons auction house expects the photo to sell for between $10,000 and $15,000 but Thompson predicts it could go for much more. The photo was taken just over a year before the Kelly Gang’s last stand with police at the siege at Glenrowan where Ned and others wore their homemade metal armour. Ned Kelly was the only one of his gang to survive the siege and was hung at Melbourne Gaol in 1880 where he uttered “such is life” before he was hung.

 

This picture was taken in the graveyard of the old Melbourne Gaol, which was demolished in 1924, to make way for the Working Men’s College. The crudely engraved initials E.K., standing for Edward Kelly, the notorious bushranger of 50 years ago, are directly over the grave, on a heavy bluestone wall which is being pulled down. The grave, which is covered with rubbish and an old ladder, is a grim reminder of the Kelly gang. The bluestone blocks and grave markers were bought from the government by the shire of Brighton and used to stop erosion along the foreshore. Today 5 Grave markers can be found at Brighton Beach, but sad not Ned’s.

 

On this day …….. 1st of August 1896

One of the central figures involved on the police side during the Kelly Gang Outbreak of the 1870s retired on this day in 1896. Sgt. Arthur Loftus Maule Steele handed over control Wangaratta police to Sgt. Simcocks transferred from Chiltern.

 

No one knows when Ned Kelly was born:

True. What we do know is that Ned was the third of 12 children born to Ellen Kelly (from three different fathers). There is no clear evidence of his actual birth, but it was most likely 1854 or 1855, near Beveridge north of Melbourne, meaning he was just 25 or 26 when he died.

Ned Kelly was illiterate:
False. There are enough surviving examples of Ned’s handwriting to know that he could write. This myth most likely evolved from the belief that fellow Kelly Gang member, Joe Byrne, penned the famous Jerilderie letter. This letter has been described as Ned Kelly’s manifesto and is a direct account of the Kelly Gang and the events with which they were associated.

How did he wear such a heavy helmet?
If you have ever seen or tried on a replica of one of the Kelly gang’s helmets, you’ll be struck by how heavy they are and how much they cut into the collar bone. The fact is that the weight of the helmet was not meant to be borne on the collar bones at all. The helmets have holes punched on front, back and sides of each helmet, through which leather straps were strung, meaning most of the weight was felt on top of the wearer’s head. Ned Kelly is reported to have worn a woollen cap to pad his head.

A film about Ned Kelly was the world’s first feature film:
True. It is often reported that Charles Tait’s 1906 film, The Story of the Kelly Gang, was the world’s first full-length feature film. Its first screening was at the Athenaeum Hall on December 26, 1906, and is alleged to have prompted five children in Ballarat to hold up a group of schoolchildren at gunpoint. This resulted in the Victorian Chief Secretary banning the film in towns with strong Kelly connections. And for many years the film was thought to be lost, but segments were found in various locations, including some found on a rubbish dump.

In 2007 the film was inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register for being the world’s first fill-length feature film.

Ned Kelly’s last words were “Such is life”.
Many believe that the last utterance by Ned Kelly just before his hanging were three simple word, “Such is life”. Whether uttered with weary resignation or an acceptance of misfortune, the notion that the quote is attributed to Ned Kelly survives today (even inspiring one or two tattoos).

But what Ned Kelly actually said as his last words is uncertain. Some newspapers at the time certainly reported the words “Such is life”, while a reporter standing on the jail floor wrote that Ned’s last words were, “Ah well! It’s come to this at last.” But one of the closest persons to Ned on the gallows, the gaol warden, wrote in his diary that Kelly opened his mouth and mumbled something that he couldn’t hear.

Ned Kelly courtroom curse killed the judge:
It is true that judge Sir Redmond Barry died 12 days after Ned Kelly was executed. The two men, Kelly and Barry, had been antagonists for some time, so after being sentenced to death at his trial, Ned Kelly famously replied to Sir Redmond Barry, “I will see you there where I go” or a version of that quote.

Ned Kelly was executed on the November 11, 1880, and Sir Redmond Barry died on the 23rd of the same month. However Barry’s certificate did not list the cause of death as “curse”, rather it is more likely that the judge died from a combination of pneumonia and septicaemia from an untreated carbuncle.

If you have a Ned Kelly tattoo you are more likely to die violently:
Depending on how you interpret the forensic data, wearing a Ned Kelly tattoo can be very dangerous. A study from the University of Adelaide found that corpses with Ned Kelly tattoos were much more likely to have died by murder and suicide. But it was a pretty small sample size.

 

After the bushranger Ned Kelly’s sister Kate drowned at Forbes NSW in 1898, historians grabbed her most treasured possession – her bed. Kate is said to have enjoyed sleeping and now visitors to a museum at Mount Victoria in NSW can stand at the foot of the bed and dream of those wild bushranger days……..

 

On this day …….. 27th of June 1880

Most of the law abiding element of Glenrowan’s population had been rounded up by Ned Kelly and his gang and held hostage in Ann Jones Inn. This was so the Kelly’s could de rail the train tacks and no warning of the trap towards the police and their special train coming from Melbourne. As the day wore n, and no police train appeared along the tracks, the tense atmosphere developed, and by late night, it appeared that there would be no train. The police train finally left Melbourne for Beechworth in North East Victoria, at 10pm, with police, horses and blacktrackers.

On this day …….. 27th of June 1880

Aaron Sherritt’s body still lay in a pool of blood on the floor of his hut in the Woolshed Valley near Beechworth, North East Victoria after being murdered by the Kelly Gang. Police in his hut affrayed that Ned Kelly and his gang were still outside waiting to ambush them. The idea behind killing Sherritt was for the police watch Aaron would ride into Beechworth raise alarm so a special train full of police would leave Melbourne for North East Victoria. However the police to scared to leave would wait over 12 hours before leaving Sherritt’s hut. The police train finally left Melbourne at 10pm.

On this day …….. 10th May 1902

Patrick McDonnell landlord of the Railway Hotel in Glenrowan, North East Victoria, who became known as part of the folklore of the Kelly Gang years, died on this day. It was from this hotel that the rockets were fired as part of the plan built around the Siege of Glenrowan. Patrick had come to Australia in 1850 at the age of eighteen. He tryed his luck on the Ovens Goldfields, by fore opening a brewery with his uncle.

On this day ………… 12th March 1893

Another fragment of the living Kelly Gang history died on this day in 1893. Anton Wick, who achieved lasting fame when Joe Byrne and Dan Kelly used him as a decoy to shoot Aaron Sherritt. Wick was a long time resident of the Woolshed area near Beechworth, who literally stumbled into the Kelly story by accident by wandering past Sherritts cottage at Devil’s Elbow at precisely the wrong moment. Local legend has it that Wick, a widower, was returning home from visiting his married daughter on June 26, 1880 when Joe Byrne and Dan Kelly grabbed him and used him to bring Aaron Sherritt to his door. At the time, Sherritt was being protected by the police and was reluctant to open his door. Byrne and Kelly forced Wick to knock on the door and when asked by Sherritt who was there, was able to say, “It’s your poor neighbour who has lost his way in the dark.” When Sherritt opened the door, he was shot where he stood. He was 66 years of age when he died.

 

 

On this day ………… 13th February 1868

The Greta Arson case came before the Wangaratta Police Court, North East Victoria, on this day, in 1868. James Kelly uncle of Ned Kelly was charged with setting fire to a house in a Greta, in which three women and thirteen children were living at time. He was committed to take his trail in Beechworth. James Kelly was sentenced to Beechworth Gaol then transferred to Ararat Lunatic Asylum and back to Beechworth Lunatic Asylum where he died.

 

 

On this day ………… 11th February 1897

An inquest was held at Greta, near Benalla, to ascertain the cause of the death of Ellen Skillion, 22 years of age, a niece of the notorious bushranger, Ned Kelly. A verdict that the deceased committed suicide by drowning was returned. The deceased was a daughter of the late Mrs. Skillion, whose husband is said to have started the first trouble which led to Ned Kelly and his confederates beginning the career of lawlessness which culminated in their down- fall as bushrangers at Glenrowan.

 

On this day ………… 10th February 1879

Early in February 1879, Ned Kelly and his gang rode into the small town of Jerilderie, located in the Riverina area of southern New South Wales. After robbing the bank of some two thousand pounds, Ned Kelly then dictated a letter to gang member Joe Byrne, which became the infamous “Jerilderie letter”, one of just two surviving original documents from Ned Kelly. Kelly sought to have the letter published as a pamphlet by the local newspaper editor, so that others could see how he had apparently been mistreated. The Jerilderie letter outlined a number of Ned Kelly’s concerns and grievances about the way he had been treated by police, and what he believed were injustices in how his actions had been perceived. In the letter, Kelly tried to justify his criminal activity, and outlined his own version of events leading to the murder of three policemen at Stringybark Creek the previous October. He also alleged police corruption, outlining evidence for his argument, and called for justice for families struggling with financial difficulties – as his own had done. The letter began: “I have been wronged and my mother and four or five men lagged innocent and is my brothers and sisters and my mother not to be pitied also who has no alternative only to put up with the brutal and cowardly conduct of a parcel of big ugly fat-necked wombat headed big bellied magpie legged narrow hipped splaw-footed sons of Irish Bailiffs or english landlords which is better known as Officers of Justice or Victorian Police…” In essence, the missive was an expansion of a letter Ned Kelly had written previously to Victorian parliamentarian Donald Cameron and Victorian police in December 1878, also outlining his version of the events at Stringybark Creek. Kelly’s pleas for understanding were dismissed: thus, Kelly sought to elicit sympathisers among a new audience. The Jerilderie letter contained some 8000 words, and went on for 56 pages. A copy was made by publican John Hanlon, and another by a government clerk: the original and both handwritten copies have survived. It was first referred to as the ‘Jerilderie Letter’ by author Max Brown in his biography of Kelly, “Australian Son”, written in 1948.