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On this day …….. 26th of June 1880

This day in 1880 was a Saturday, and would go down in Australian history as the last stand between the notorious Kelly Gang of North a East Victoria and the Victoria Police. Ned Kelly and Steve Hart rounded up the population of the small town of Glenrowan and locked them in Ann Jones Inn. Joe Byrne and Dan Kelly rode off towards Beechworth to find Aaron Sherritt once a friend now police informant. The Kelly would then force railway workers to derail a section of the Melbourne to Sydney train line. This was done after the last passenger train passed at 9pm, and there would be no more scheduled services until the following Monday.

On this day …….. 26th of June 1880

Ned Kelly, Australia’s most famous bushranger, was born in December 1854 in Beveridge, Victoria. As a teenager, he 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. Ned Kelly’s gang consisted of himself, his brother Dan, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart. One of Kelly’s more daring bank robberies was carried out in December 1878 when Kelly and his gang rode into the Victorian town of Euroa, where they robbed the National Bank of about 2,000 pounds. As a result of this robbery, the reward for their capture was increased to 1,000 pounds each. Aaron Sherritt was an associate of the Kellys, having grown up in the same area, and he was quite close to the Byrne family. He was engaged to Byrne’s sister for awhile. After the gang was outlawed following the murder of three policemen at Stringybark Creek in October 1878, Sherritt turned police informant for money. Sherritt advised the police to camp out in a cave near Byrne’s family home in the hopes of capturing Byrne as he visited his mother. Sherritt’s presence was noted, and Byrne’s sister broke off her engagement to him. Many months later, on the night of 26 June 1880, Sherritt was at home with his new wife, mother-in-law and four policemen. When Sherritt answered a knock at the door, he was shot dead by Byrne. The police officers hid, as they were unsure whether they were Byrne’s real target, and did not report the killing until late the following morning. Within a couple of days, Byrne was himself killed in a shootout at Glenrowan between the gang and the police. Ned Kelly was the only one to survive to stand trial, after which he was hanged.

ON THIS DAY ………. 26th of June 1880

Aaron Sherritt was born in 1855 and was an associate by Joe Byrne and Dan Kelly on the 26th of June 1880. On the night of the 26th June 1880 Sherritt was at home with his wife, mother-in-law and four policemen, Constables Armstrong, Alexander, Ducross, and Dowling. A neighbour, Antoine Weekes, who had been handcuffed and held hostage by Joe Byrne and Dan Kelly, called out “Aaron” at the front door of Sherritt’s hut. When Sherritt answered it, Joe Byrne shot him dead. The police officers hid under the bed and did not report the killing until late the following morning. Within a couple of days, Joe Byrne was himself killed in a shootout between the gang and the police at Glenrowan. Ned Kelly was the only one to survive to stand trial. He was found guilty and hanged on the 11th November 1880.

 

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.