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On this day ………… 9th February 1914

One of the great heroes, or villains depending on ones point of view, of the Ned Kelly Gang Outbreak of the 1870s, died on this day. Sergeant Arthur Loftus Maule Steele from Wangaratta, Victoria, secure a place in history by firing the shot that brought Ned Kelly down at the siege of Glenrowan. Which saw the end of the Kelly outbreak.

 

 

On this day …….. 27th of January 1868

How easy history can be changed. On this day in 1868 a young Ned Kelly, his brothers and sisters, their mother and her sister were rescued from almost certain death in a house fire, which had been deliberately lit. The culprit was Ellen’s brother in law, James Kelly. Kelly was sentenced to death by Sir Redmond Barry. The sentence was commuted to ten years. James Kelly however would die in the Beechworth Lunatic Asylum.

 

John Kelly father of Ned Kelly.

Convict John Kelly was transport, to Australia on the 31st July 1841 when he was placed on board the convict ship ‘The Prince Regent’ in the port of Dublin, arriving in the Derwent River, Van Diemens Land, on 2nd January 1842. He was granted his ticket of leave on 11th July 1845 and headed to Melbourne and he headed inland along the old Sydney road and worked as a carpenter around Donnybrook and Kilmore, an area with many Irish settlers. In 1850 he met Ellen Quinn, who had come out from Ballymena, County Antrim, with her family as a young girl. They were married on 18th November 1850 in St. Francis’s Church, Melbourne by Fr. Gerald Ward. For the next fourteen years or so John Kelly made a living from horse dealing, dairy farming and even some gold mining. During this time seven children were born, including Edward, who subsequently became the famed ‘Ned Kelly’. John and Ellen Kelly bought and sold a number of farms around the township of Beveridge, but their fortunes seem to have been declining over time. In 1864 John Kelly sold his farm for £80 and headed further inland with his family, and they rented 40 acres near Avenel, Victoria. The Kelly family was very poor at this stage and the drought of 1865 made things even worse. In 1865 John Kelly was charged with stealing a calf from a Mr. Morgan and on 29th May 1865 he was in Court for this offence. The charge of cattle stealing was dismissed, but the charges of “unlawful possession of a hide” was upheld and he was fined £25 or 6 months in Gaol. He seems to have served 4 months in gaol because on 3rd October 1865 John Kelly himself registered his eight and last child, Grace, in Campions store in Avenel. In the birth register he lists his home area as “Moyglass, Co. Tipperary, Ireland” and his age as “45”. It is this entry, signed by John Kelly himself that confirms that he and the John Kelly baptised on 20th February 1820 in Moyglass are one and the same person. John Kelly’s health was breaking down and he got seriously ill in November 1866. A Doctor Healey, came from Seymour one week before Christmas of that year, but John Kelly was dying of Dropsy for which there was no cure. John Kelly died on 27th December 1866, aged 46 years. His death was reported and signed by his son Edward Kelly who was not yet 12 years of age at this time. John Kelly was buried in an unmarked grave in Avenel Cemetery, Victoria, on 29th December 1866.

 

 

ON THIS DAY…… 28th November 1934

Death of Dick Hart – Kelly gang

One of the most important players in the Kelly drama died on this day in 1934. Dick Hart was Steve Hart’s brother. It was he who took charge of the bodies of Steve Hart and Dan Kelly after fire at the Glenrown Inn, and deified the police to take them for an inquest. After the Siege at Glenrown, North East Victoria, Dick joined forces briefly with Wild Wright to keep the spirit of the Kelly Outbreak alive but eventually turned to more business like pursuits in hotels in Melbourne and Ballarat. Dick died at the Albion Hotel, Port Melbourne aged 78.

ON THIS DAY…… 11th November 1880

Ned Kelly execution

Ned Kelly, Australia’s most famous bushranger, was born in December 1854 in Victoria, Australia. Kelly was twelve when his father died, and he was subsequently required to leave school to take on the new position as head of the family. Shortly after this, the Kellys moved to Glenrowan. As a teenager, Ned became involved in petty crimes, regularly targetting the wealthy landowners. He gradually progressed to crimes of increasing seriousness and violence, including bank robbery and murder, soon becoming a hunted man. Many of Ned Kelly’s peers held him in high regard for his stand of usually only ambushing wealthy landowners, and helped to keep his whereabouts from the police, despite the high reward posted for his capture. However, he was betrayed to the police whilst holding dozens of people hostage in the Glenrowan Inn in June, 1880. Wearing their famous armour, the Kelly brothers held a shootout with police. Gang members Dan Kelly, Steve Hart and Joe Byrne were killed, and Ned was shot twenty-eight times in the legs, which were unprotected by the armour. He survived to stand trial, and was sentenced to death by hanging, by Judge Redmond Barry on 29 October 1880. Ned Kelly was hanged in Melbourne on 11 November 1880.

On this day …….. 31st of October 1878

Proclamation by Governor George Bowen declaring Ned and Dan Kelly outlaws
In response to the public outrage at the murder of police officers, the reward was raised to £500 and, on 31 October 1878, the Victorian Parliament passed the Felons’ Apprehension Act, coming into effect on 1 November 1878, which outlawed the gang and made it possible for anyone to shoot them: There was no need for the outlaws to be arrested or for there to be a trial upon apprehension (the act was based on the 1865 act passed in New South Wales which declared Ben Hall and his gang outlaws). The act also penalized anyone who harbored, gave “any aid, shelter or sustenance” to the outlaws or withheld or gave false information about them to the authorities. Punishment was “imprisonment with or without hard labour for such period not exceeding fifteen years.” With this new act in place, on 4 November 1878, warrants were issued against the four members of the Kelly gang. The deadline for their voluntary surrender was set at 12 November 1878.

 

On this day ….. 26th of October 1878

On the 26th October, 1878 Sergeant Michael Kennedy and Constables Lonigan, Michael Scanlan and Thomas McIntyre rode into the Wombat Ranges searching for Ned and Dan Kelly, who were wanted for the attempted murder of Constable Alex Fitzpatrick at Eleven Mile Creek, near Benalla, on 15th April, 1878. That evening the policemen established a camp near Stringbark Creek, and the following day Kennedy and Scanlan set off to patrol the area whilst McIntyre and Lonigan remained behind. Towards evening the camp site was attacked by the Kelly’s, together with their associates Steve Hart and Joe Byrne. Constable Lonigan was shot dead whilst Constable McIntyre was captured and held hostage. The outlaws then hid themselves around the camp, and left McIntyre on view as a decoy. When Kennedy and Scanlan returned Ned Kelly called on them to “bail up”, then almost immediately the outlaws began firing and the policemen were cut down. In the confusion McIntyre was able to escape and raise the alarm. Over the next two years the Kelly gang, as they became known, remained at large, only coming out of hiding to make two much publicised raids, one on the township of Euroa, and the other at Jerilderie. Finally, in June, 1880 they received information that an associate, Aaron Sherritt, had betrayed them, and a large contingent of police were travelling to Euroa by train to arrest them. The gang moved swiftly. They murdered Sherritt, took over the township of Glenrowan and imprisoned the residents, and wrecked the railway line in the near vicinity. They then settled down to wait, planning to set upon the police party after their train ran off the rails at the point of sabotage. A local resident managed to allow the gang to release him, and he warned the approaching police and averted a disaster. Soon after the gang were cornered in a local hotel. A siege developed and Dan Kelly, Steve Hart and Joe Byrne were killed. Ned Kelly managed to escape, and returned later in his famous “suit of armour”, and attempted to shoot it out with police. Soon overpowered, he faced trial at Melbourne for killing Lonigan, and was hanged at 10.00 a.m. on 11th November, 1880.

 

 

On this day …….. 6th of October 1898

Notorious bushranger Ned Kelly had five sisters, two half-sisters, two brothers and one half-brother. His sisters were Maggie, who was born in 1857, three years after Ned, and Catherine, variously nicknamed Kate or Kittie, who was born in 1863. In addition, there were Mary, who died as a baby, Anne and Grace. Ned Kelly’s two brothers were Daniel, who joined Ned in the Kelly gang, and James. Some time after Ned Kelly’s father died, his mother remarried, and bore another two daughters, Ellen and Alice and a son, John, also known as Jack. Kate Kelly was perhaps the best known of Ned Kelly’s siblings. Legend claims that she was the fiancee of Aaron Sherritt, notorious for betraying the Kelly gang to the police, and being shot for his trouble. Kate also had another admirer, Alexander Fitzpatrick, who attempted to ingratiate himself into the Kelly family. After making unwelcome advances towards young Kate, he was attacked by Ned’s mother, beaten by one brother and allegedly shot by Ned, although the doctor who attended Fitzpatrick did not confirm a gunshot wound. The event resulted in Ned’s mother being arrested, and the brothers being hunted further by police. Kate was a central catalyst to these circumstances. After helping hold the family together following the arrest of their mother, at the age of 25, Kate married William Henry Foster of Forbes, New South Wales. She was a skilled and respected horsewoman, and perpetuated the family line by bearng six children, three of whom survived to adulthood. Kate’s colourful life ended tragically when she was just 35 years old. Some two years after her sister Maggie died, Kate went missing, on 6 October 1898. Eight days passed before her body was located in a lagoon at Condobolin Road near Forbes. Initial indications were that she died of drowning, but the Magisterial inquiry that was held into her death on 15 October did not indicate how or why this could have occurred. Kate’s death certificate stated there was no evidence, but family and friends believed her depression following Maggie’s death contributed to her own death.

 

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.