Ned Kelly Letter The Age Ned Kelly Letter The Age

National Library of Australia and The Age

Public Record Office Victoria (State Archives of Victoria, Australia)

Public Record Office Victoria (State Archives of Victoria, Australia)
North Melbourne, Australia


  • Title: Ned Kelly Letter The Age Ned Kelly Letter The Age
  • Creator: National Library of Australia, The Age, National Library of Australia, The Age
  • Date Created: 1879-02-18
  • Provenance: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article199362803, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article199362803
  • Transcript:
    NED KELLY'S LETTER. By our own reporter. After the exciting scene with Mr. Rankin in the Royal Mail Hotel, Kelly took Richards and Living with him to look for Mr. Gill, who had run away. Mr. Gill is the proprietor of the Jerilderie and Urana Gazette, and his office is about thirty yards from the hotel. Kelly said he only wanted Gill to publish a statement of his life, which he had prepared. He then took out  of his pocket a large roll of paper, fifty-seven sheets in all, closely written on. He was particularly anxious that it should be published, and Mr. Living, desirous of saving Mrs. Gill any further uneasiness, asked Kelly for the statement, and promised to give it to Gill for publication. Kelly then gave Mr. Living the statement, threatening that if he did not publish it he would have to suffer. Mr. Gill did not return from his hiding place until after Mr. Living had left for Melbourne, taking with him the statement, which he showed Mr. Hanlan at his hotel, near Deniliquin. When he resumed his journey he forgot the papers, and Mr. Hanlan made a copy of the statement, and posted the original to Melbourne; but Mr. Living has not yet received it back. On his return journey, however, Mr. Living obtained Mr. Hanlan's copy, but he has since received a communication from Superintendent Brown, who took it upon himself to instruct Mr. Living not to give the letter to the press or make known its contents until he receives the authority of the Attorney-General to do so. Living has, therefore, positively refused to give the copy which he now has in his possession, but on Mr. Hanlan being interviewed, his recollection of the contents of the letter appeared to be very good. He said Kelly commenced by stating that when about fourteen years of age he was accused with Gould (who is now awaiting his trial on the charge of being an accomplice of Kelly) of stealing a horse from a "cockey" named McCormack, at Benalla. He had not done so, and sent agrossly insulting message to Mrs. McCormack. The boy entrusted with the message gave it to Mr. McCormack, who, seeing Kelly on horseback, challenged him, or any of his breed, to fight. He got off his horse to accept the challenge, when Mrs. McCormack hit his horse with the shin bone of a beast, and made it jump, but not in time to prevent him striking McCormack on the nose, and knocking him on the broad of his back. Kelly then tied up his horse to fight the latter, but McCormack ran away for the police. Constables Fitzpatrick and O'Day came and asked what the row was about. He told him McCormack had wrongfully accused him of stealing his horse, had challenged him to fight him, and that he had accepted the challenge. They (the constables) said they would have to take him. They tried but could not, and had to get the assistance of other policemen. He was fined 2 pounds for hitting Fitzpatrick, sent to gaol for three months on the charge laid against him by McCormack, and was bound over to keep the peace for twelve months. Directly after he came out of gaol Wild Wright stopped at his mother's place. At that time he did not know Wild Wright. He had lost a mare, and was engaged all day hunting for it, but he couldnot find it. He (Kelly) lent Wild Wrighthis horse, and Wright told him if he found his mare to keep her until such time as he brought back the other horse. On going to Wangaratta he found the lost mare and rode her, stopping for several days at Peter Martin's hotel, where he met Detective Berrill. The detective had an opportunity of seeing Martin's daughters riding the mare up and down the street. Shortly afterwards he was arrested by Constable Hall, and charged with stealing the mare. Hall just said to him, "I  want you down at the barracks to sign the bonds you forgot to sign at Beechworth when you came out of gaol. "He did not say he wanted himfor stealing tho mare; but, when he was in the  act of getting off the mare at the barracks, Hall made a grab at him to throw him down. In doing so, however, he fell himself. In place of putting his foot on his neck and taking the revolver from him, he let Hall alone and tried to catch the mare, as he did not wish his bondsmen to lose their money, he having been bound overto keep the peace for twelve months. Hall then snapped his revolver at him three times, without asking him to stand or telling him what he wanted him for. Hall ran up to within a yard and a half of him. His finger was on the trigger, and he was trembling all over. He pointed the revolver at his head, and he (Kelly) "ducked" down and caught him by the collar with one hand, whilst he caught the revolver with the other. They struggled over the street to where Mrs. O'Brien's house now stands, he (Kelly) tripping him up every now and then, giving him a mouthful of dust. When he tripped him up he got stride legs across him, rolled his spurs into his thighs, and he roared like a calf attacked by a bulldog. He got Hall's hands behind his neck and tried to get the revolver from him, but he stuck to it like grim death to a dead volunteer. He called in several to assist him, and had it not been for his bondsmen he could have scattered them all about, as Hall was just as helpless as a dead horse or bullock. They handcuffed him and tied his foot. Hall then beat him over the head with his revolver, inflicting a wound which Dr. — had to sow up with nine stitches. It appeared the mare which Wild Wright had left him belonged to the telegraph master at Benalla. She was lost about the 8th of March, and he was in the Beechworth Gaol up to the 29th of March, therefore he could not have stolen it. When his mother and Wild Wright came to look for him they tracked him by the blood marks across the street, through the gateposts, into the barracks, the lustre of which was spoiled by the blood. He was tried and got three years for receiving, as it could not be proved he had stolen the mare. He had then about thirty horses as good as the world could produce, and when he came out of gaol there were only two or three left, Constable Flood having stolen the remainder and sold them to the navvies. Constable Flood was the biggest horse stealer that had ever been seen in Victoria, with the exception of himself and George King. Flood to his knowledge had stolen one bay cob and sold it four different times. He and King went extensively into horse-stealing, and Baumgarten had been innocently lagged on a charge of stealing a horse which they had stolen. Fitzpatrick had been watching for him for some time, but could not find him. He therefore determined to arrest his brother Dan. He told Dan at his mother's house that he had come to arrest him, and Dan replied, "All right, but I will have something to eat first." He sat down to eat something, and his mother asked Fitzpatrick if he had a warrant. He said "No, I have a telegram." His mother told him he had no business trespassing in her premises without a warrant, and told Dan he need not go without he was taken. Fitzpatrick then said, pulling out his revolver, "I will blow your brains out if you interfere with me in the execution of my duty." She said, "It is a good job Ned Kelly is not here, or he would ram the revolver down your throat." Dan was having his breakfast, and, looking out, said, "Here comes Ned now." Fitzpatrick, being taken off his guard, looked round. Dan dropped his knife and fork, showing he had no murderous intent, and clapped Heenan's hug on him. Dan took the revolver from him and sent him away. How he had got shot he did not know. When the affair took place he was 200 miles away in the Darling. He was 400 miles away when he heard that there was areward of 100 pounds for his capture. He came back to Victoria knowing it was no use giving himself up, as he would not get justice. He found his brother Dan working at Boggy Creek. The following extract is taken from the copy which Mr. Hanlan made of Kelly's letter :—  "We did not think that the police would follow myself and my brother, where we were digging, in Boggy Creek, near Tabletop. He (Dan) was making good wages, as the creek is very rich within half-a-mile from where I shot Kennedy. I was not there long, and on the 25th October I came on police tracks, between Tabletop and the bogs where I crossed them, and returning in the evening I came on a different lot of tracks, making for the shingle hut. I went to our hut, and told my mates. Me and my brother went and found their camp at the shingle hut, about a mile from my brother's house. Saw they carried long firearms, and we knew our doom was sealed if we could not beat those before the others would come, as I knew the other party of police would soon join them, and if they came on us at our camp they would shoot us down like dogs at our work. As we had only two guns, we thought it best to try and bail those up, take their firearms, ammunition and horses, and we could stand a chance with the rest. We approached the spring us close as we could get to the camp, as the intervening space being clear ground and no battery. We saw two menat the logs. They got up, and one took a double barrelled fowling-piece and fetched it down and hobbled his horse at the tent, and we thought there were more men in the tent asleep, those being on sentry. We could have shot those two men without speaking, but not wishing to take their lives we waited. McIntyre laid his gun against a stump and Lonigan sat on the log. I advised my brother Dan keeping McIntyre covered, which he took to be Constable Flood, and had he not obeyed my orders or attempted to reach the gun or draw his revolver, he would have been shot dead; but when I called on them to throw up their hands, McIntyre obeyed, and Lonigan ran some six or seven yards to a battery of logs, instead of dropping behind the one he was sitting on. He had just got to the logs, and put his hand up to take aim, when I shot him that instant, or he would have shot me, as I took him to be Strachan, the man who said he would not ask me to stand, he would shoot me just like a dog. But it happened to be Lonigan, the man who in company with Sergeant Whelan, Fitzpatrick and King (the bootmaker), and Constable O'Day, that tried to put a pair of handcuffs on me in Benalla, but could not, and had to allow McInnes, the miller, to put them on. Previous to Fitzpatrick swearing he was shot I was fined 2 pounds for not allowing five curs like Sergeant Whelan, O'Day, Fitzpatrick, King, and Lonigan would have sent me to kingdom come only I was not ready, and he is the man that blowed before he left Violet Town that if Ned Kelly was to be shot he was tho man that would shoot him, and no doubt he would shoot me even if I threw up my arms and laid down, as he knew four of them could not arrest one single-handed, not to talk of the rest of my mates, also either him or me would have to die. This he knew well, therefore he had a right to keep out of my road. Fitzpatrick is the only one I met out of the five in Benalla. This shows my feelings towards him, as he said we were good friends, and even swore it, but he was the biggest enemy I had in the country, with the exception of Lonigan, and he can he thankful I was not there when he took a revolver and threatened to shoot my mother in her own house. It is not true I fired three shots and missed him at a yard and a half. I don't think I would use a revolver to shoot a man like him when I was within a yard and a half of him, or attempt to fire into a house where my mother, brothers and sisters were, and, according to Fitzpatrick's statement, all around him. A man who is such a bad shot as to miss a man three times at a yard and a half would never attempt to fire into a house among a houseful of women and children while I had a pair of arms and a bunch of fives at the end of them that never failed me at anything they came in contact with; and Fitzpatrick knew the weight of one of them only too well, as it run against him once in Benalla, and cost me 2 pound odd, as he is very subject to fainting. As soon as I shot Lonigan, he jumped up aud staggered some distance from the logs with his hands raised and then fell. He surrendered, but too late. I asked McIntyre who was in the tent. He replied no one. I advanced and took possession of their two revolvers and fowling-piece, which I loaded with bullets instead of shot. I asked McIntyre where his mates were. He said they had gone down the creek, and he did not expect them that night. He asked me was I going to shoot him and his mates. I told him no, I would, shoot no man, if he gave up his arms and leave the force. He said the police all knew Fitzpatrick had wronged us, and he intended to leave the force as he had bad health, and his life was insured. He also stated he intended to go home, and that Kennedy and Scanlan were out looking for our camp; and he also told me about the other police. He said the New South Wales police had shot a man for shooting Sergeant Walling. I told him if they did they had shot the wrong man, and I expect your gang came to do the same with me. He said, No, they did not come to shoot me, they came to apprehend me. I asked him what they carried Spencer rifles and breech-loading fowling pieces and so much ammunition for, as the police were only supposed to carry one revolver, and six cartridges in the revolver, but they had eighteen rounds of revolver cartridges each, three dozen for the fowling piece, and twenty-one Spencer rifle cartridges, and God knows how many they had away with the rifle. This looked as if they meant not only to shoot me, but to riddle me, but I did not know either Kennedy, Scanlan or McIntyre, and had nothing against them. He said he would get them to give up their arms if I would not shoot them, as I could not blame them— they had to do their duty. I said I did not blame them for doing honest duty, but I could not suffer them blowing me to pieces on my own native land. And they knew Fitzpatrick wronged us, and why not make it public, and convict him; but, no— but they rather riddle poor unfortunate Creole's hut; they would rue the day ever Fitzpatrick got among them. Our two mates came over when they heard the shots fired, but went back again for fear the police might come to our camp while we were all away, and manure Bullock Flat with us on our arrival. I stopped at the logs and Dan went back to the spring, for the troopers would come in that way, but I soon heard them coming up the creek. I told McIntyre to tell them to give up their arms. He spoke to Kennedy, who was some distance in front of Scanlan. He reached for his revolver and jumped off on the off-side of the horse and got behind a tree, when I called on them to throw up their arms, and Scanlan, who carried the rifle, slewed his horse around to gallop away, but the horse would not go, and as quick as thought he fired at me with the rifle without unslinging it, and was in the act of firing again when I had to shoot him, and he fell from his horse. I could have shot them without speaking, but their lives were no good to me. McIntyre jumped on Kennedy's horse and I allowed him to go, as I did not like to shoot him after he had surrendered, or I would have shot him as he was between me and Kennedy, therefore I could not shoot Kennedy without shooting him. First Kennedy kept firing from behind a tree. My brother Dan advanced and Kennedy ran. I followed him. He stopped behind another and fired again. I shot him in the armpit, and he dropped his revolver and ran. I fired again with the gun ashe slewed around to surrender. I did not know he had dropped his revolver. The bullet passed through the right side of his chest, and he could not live, or I would have let him go. Had they been my own brothers I could not help shooting them, or else let them shoot me, which they would have done, had their bullets been directed as they intended them. But as for handcuffing Kennedy to a tree, or cutting his ear off, or brutally treating any of them is a falsehood. If Kennedy's ear was cut off it was not done by me, and none of my mates were near him after he was shot. I put his cloak over him, and left him as well as I could, and had they been my own brothers I could not have been more sorry for them. This cannot be called wilful murder, for I was compelled to shoot them, or lie down and let them shoot me. Would it not be wilful murder if they packed my remains, shattered into a mass of animated gore, into Mansfield?"After this Mr. Hanlan stated that Kelly went on to ask, Why did they not send Standish and others receiving high pay to the front. The public would then see if they were deserving of higher pay than the other policemen; they would soon see they were obtaining their money by false pretences. It took three or four police to guard Standish when he slept in Benalla and other places. Was it because he was frightened of body-snatchers, or what? He would like all those receiving a high salary to be given a chance to show that they were not receiving their money under false pretences. That could be done by sending them after him in one body. With regard to the constables in Victoria, he had seen eight or ten who could not take one half-starved larrikin without the aid of a civilian. The Queen should be proud of her force, but be intended to astonish them and the navy, as he would show them what a little stratagem could do. He would advise all those who belonged to the Cattle-stealing Prevention Society to withdraw their money at once and give it tothe poor of Greta, where he had spent many happy days, and would again, fearless, free and bold. The society was only a temptation to policemen to procure false witnesses and lag innocent men. It did not pay the police to lag a guilty man, for if it had not been for cattle duffing and bushranging these police would have to go about begging. What would they have done had it not been for men getting them double pay? Why, Berry would have sacked them all, and got the soldiers at half-pay to do their work in town, and make a few specials for the cockies in the outside districts. Still the ungrateful beings said they would shoot him (Kelly) first, and ask him to stand afterwards. All those in the colony who had reason to fear him had better sell out at once and give 10 pounds out of every 100 to the Widow and Orphans' Society, and toreside as short a time in Victoria as possible. He did not wish to enforce that notice until after it had been published, so as to give them all timely warning. Any of them not obeying must put up with the consequences, as he was a widow's son outlawed, and his orders must bo obeyed. The document was signed "Ned Kelly."
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