Saturday, 18 February 2017

The Greatest Kelly Myth : Part 5.



Ten days before he was hanged Ned Kelly claimed that ill treatment and persecution of his family by Police were what drove him to behave as he did. He wrote :  “If my lips teach the public that men are made mad by bad treatment, and if the Police are taught that they may exasperate to madness men they persecute and ill treat, my life will not be entirely thrown away”. This is the central tenet of the Kelly story, the belief that ill-treatment and persecution ‘exasperated to madness’ and compelled Ned Kelly to take a stand because, as he claimed “There never was such a thing as justice in the English laws but any amount of injustice”

It is of course, quite common for accused or convicted criminals to claim to be innocent victims of a corrupt system, but examples of innocent people being wrongly convicted and even executed for crimes they didn’t commit are rare; they exist but they are rare - most such claims turn out to be wishful thinking. Ned Kellys audacious claim to be innocent is made even more outrageous by the fact that he openly admitted to stealing ‘innumerable’ horses and cattle, to robbing two Banks and to killing three Policemen, and attempting the railway massacre, hostage taking and siege at Glenrowan. Such extreme behavior couldn’t possibly be justified by petty or minor breaches of Protocol by local officials – extreme responses must surely require extreme provocation. To be in any way justified, such extreme behavior could only be a response to an equally audacious program of extreme persecution and corruption, which of course is what the Kelly legend claims was the case. But what is the evidence for such persecution?

In the previous four posts looking very carefully for the evidence of extreme persecution and corruption, what we have seen is that the actual historical evidence, the official records and the newspaper reports from the time thoroughly contradict this claim of Ned Kelly’s. Looking carefully at each one of the numerous interactions between the Kellys, the Police and the judiciary, up to  four years before Ned Kelly was hanged, its impossible to find evidence of any sort of systemic or routine persecution or ill treatment of the Kellys, let alone something extreme and harsh enough to justify the crimes of the Kelly Gang. Instead the pattern that emerges is of a system that frequently gave the Kellys the benefit of the doubt, dismissal or reduction of possible criminal charges, offers of sympathetic help, and surprisingly generous remissions of sentence. It was a system that when necessary the Kellys themselves had sufficient confidence in to make use of themselves in private actions. Moreover, when Ned Kelly was in Gaol, and later when he was allegedly ‘going straight’ for a couple of years, the record shows that the Police took no interest at all in the Kellys, leaving them completely alone. That, unequivocally is what the historical records show : zero evidence for  systemic corruption, Police persecution and ill treatment of the Kellys.

In this series of Posts I haven't yet discussed the last two recorded interactions between Ned and the Police before he took to the bush after Fitzpatrick was wounded at the Kelly household in April 1878. These incidents were the so-called Lydeker case from 1876, and Neds arrest in late 1877 for drunkenness. I wont discuss either of these cases here because I discussed the detail of both of these incidents a couple of years ago ( HERE and HERE ). Read them and see yet again, they provide absolutely no support for the poor persecuted Ned Kelly myth. The Lydeker case shows Ned once again being acquitted of something he almost certainly was guilty of because of the strict way the Law was followed by the Courts, making a mockery of his complaint that there was ‘never such a thing as justice  in the English laws but any amount of injustice’. Neds immature reaction to the arrest for being drunk resulted in the fine he had to pay being 60 times greater than it would have been if he had simply accepted the charge and the minor penalty. I cannot believe there are people who think that Neds violent behavior in this matter ( resisting handcuffs, and then claiming his drink was spiked ) is in any way consistent with a person capable of having high minded political vision about democracy and justice and a Republic. His behavior was typical of a drunken moron.

There remain a few other arguments that are advanced in support of the idea that the Kellys were persecuted, the first of which is the oft repeated claim that Supt Nicolson issued a directive that the Kellys were to be arrested, charged  and put in Prison for the slightest of misdemeanors “to take their prestige away from them”. Ian Jones wrote that “This opinion- which seems suspiciously like a directive – is often quoted as proof that there was an official policy of ‘persecuting’ the clan” Peter Fitzsimons wrote “From now on…it is official police policy to look for an excuse to put the family and their cohorts behind bars” Surely THAT statement is proof of Ned Kellys claim that there was a campaign of Police persecution?  Well, no it isn’t.! Its actually another of the myths perpetuated by Kelly supporters and repeated by followers who never bothered to read what Nicholson actually said. In any case, he said this in April 1877, much too late in the Kelly saga to give support to the idea that such a campaign was responsible for Neds anti-social behavior. By 1877 he had been in prison twice, and at that exact moment, though Nicholson may not yet have known it, Ned had already launched his criminal career of ‘wholesale and retail horse and cattle dealing’

What Nicolson actually said was that in his opinion  that without oppressing the people or worrying them in any way, that he should endeavor whenever they commit any paltry crime, to bring them to justice and send them to Pentridge even on a paltry sentence the object being to take their prestige from them, which has as good an effect as  being sent into prison with very heavy sentences …and that is a very good way of taking the flashness out of them’ . The very clear instruction was not to do what Peter Fitzsimons carelessly repeats from every other Kelly source, and to look for excuses to put the family behind bars but rather Nicholson makes it plain that the Kellys are NOT to be oppressed or worried ‘in any way’. Nicolsons instruction regarding the Kellys is ‘do NOT provoke them, do NOT attempt to entrap them, do NOT set them up or frame them, do NOT persecute or oppress or worry them IN ANY WAY!. This is the absolute OPPOSITE of a campaign of persecution . However, given the known lawlessness of the extended family of Kellys and Quinns, Nicolsons view was that if they put a foot wrong, the full force of the Law should be applied.  What Nicolson is affirming here is the absolute rule of law. And as we have seen, when the Kellys didn’t put a foot wrong, the Police left them alone.

This observation of the fact that when the Kellys were not breaking the Law they were left alone, is exactly the opposite of what would be predicted if Ned Kellys claim about unjust persecution was true.

But what about the Royal Commission some will say? The Commission severely criticized Police for the way they behaved during the outbreak and some of them were censured and demoted or  recommended for early retirement and others were sacked. Isn’t that proof of what Ned Kelly claimed, that the Police were corrupt and waged a campaign of ill-treatment and persecution  against him and against his family? Such a question  demonstrates that the person asking it couldn’t possibly have read the Reports of the Royal Commsission and is simply repeating the myths about it created by a litany of Kelly writers  that goes at least as far back as Kenneally  and as recently as Ian Jones, Justin Corfield and Peter Fitzsimons. The answer to the question is an absolutely emphatic NO, because the Commission specifically addressed that question and answered it in their findings as follows :
“ It may also be mentioned that the charge of persecution of the family by the members of the police force has been frequently urged in extenuation of the crimes of the outlaws; but, after careful examination, your Commissioners have arrived at the conclusion that the police, in their dealings with the Kellys and their relations, were simply desirous of discharging their duty conscientiously; and that no evidence has been adduced to support the allegation that either the outlaws or their friends were subjected to persecution or unnecessary annoyance at the hands of the police.”

There is no ambiguity or wriggle room in this statement. The Royal Commission, which sat for more than six months and interrogated  64 witnesses, and even visited Mrs. Kelly in her home at Greta concluded there was no evidence to support what we now know is the greatest of the Kelly myths, that the Kellys and their friends “were subjected to persecution or unnecessary annoyance at the hands of the police”

There is perhaps one other response that sympathisers might have - they might say the absence of evidence is what you would expect from such corrupt and devious authorities, because  they completely covered their tracks and concealed all the evidence - in other words a conspiracy theory. If that WAS their argument, it would at least mean they had conceded that there was no actual empirical evidence for their ‘poor persecuted Ned’ theory. But, as I have written before, any theory advanced without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. 


The truth of the matter is that Ned Kellys claim that he was driven to crime by police persecution and ill-treatment is simply a lie. It simply didn’t happen. It’s a myth, and the biggest of Ned Kellys lies, yet another falsehood that he managed to trick many into believing was true, a lie which the Kelly descendants and their supporters perpetuate to this day. The idea that it was Police persecution that drove Kelly to crime is now utterly exposed as a myth, an excuse cooked up by Ned Kelly to direct blame away from himself, where it belonged, onto the scapegoat of the Victoria Police. Ned Kelly, the police made criminal is a myth whose time has ended, its a Kelly story that can safely be consigned to the dustbin of history.

65 comments:

  1. Dee, you have trashed the 'police persecution' excuse of Ned as an untenable myth and pathetic joke.

    But Ned supporters regard him as a religion and will worship his worthlessness till their dying day.

    The lack of responses to almost all your posts, shows the supporters are a spent force. No new books supportin Ned.

    As you say, Dee, a deathly silence from the fools!

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    1. You are right Charlie, the only thing missing is any sign of a white flag! Dee, I have been trolling through Kelvyn's book and another thing that pops up from time to time, is the persecution, terrorism and threats by Kelly supporters and sympathisers against those they perceive of helping the police in one way or another. For example, Ted Monk after he provided accommodation and meals to the police in the aftermath of SBC. Those threats were so bad that Mrs Monk had a complete breakdown and confined to bed for 3 weeks. Same thing with the Sherritt's. But once again, not a peep out of the mythologists about this behaviour.

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    2. Thats an excellent point Spudee, and I cant help wondering why the HELL all the descendants of those people who were abused intimidated bullied and hounded by the Kelly mob have been so silent for all these years. One of the reasons is that the bullying and intimidation has continued unabated - my treatment by Kelly followers is a small example, but even powerful people like Ian Jones have used their status and influence to openly and unashamedly ridicule and belittle people with a different perspective. The descendants of the murdered Police have been the only voices raised in objection, but I think even they have been somewhat hampered by a sense of guilt induced by the Kelly myth that their 19th century colleagues were corrupt and therefore in some way Ned Kelly had a point. However. all that is now changing as we realise the poor persecuted Ned story is a lie, and the entire truth is being exposed.

      What I am thinking about now, and will write about soon, relates exactly to your point about how the Kelly followers abused and mistreated so many people at the time, and have continued to do so ever since. I think lots of people will be astonished at what I have in mind....

      For the moment though I am planning to read and review Grantlee Keizas book on Ellen Kelly, to be published tomorrow!

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    3. In an early article in 'Historical Studies' vol 18 (Oct 1978): 288-296, Doug Morrissey says, "As well as sympathy, there was, although most writers are reluctant to discus it, fear and intimidation. Ned Kelly seems as a matter of course to have threatened to shoot anyone who revealed his whereabouts to the police. Jacob Wilson, a selector who did pass information about the Kellys to the police, was constantly harassed and menaced by active sympathisers, so much so that he sold his selection and left the district" (references in article).

      The article also works through the various police reports to assemble a list of active sympathisers. Morrissey does not accept all names given in police reports, but only names that have been cross-checked both against each other and with other sources including newspaper articles, court reports, and Royal Commission evidence. It is therefore a conservative list; within which 37 young men have been further identified as members of the 'Greta mob'. It is interesting that several from the active sympathisers list turn up to give support as scouts and 'prisoners' at Euroa, Jerilderie and Glenrowan.

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  2. Maybe "the fools" that some of you make mention of are just so sick of all the back patting that they don't even bother contributing here anymore. I don't think they're gone, just grown up a little. At times it sounds so much like a Trump speech here, I can only laugh at many of the statements. Nothing of late has really grabbed my interest here, sorry Dee.

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    1. Fair enough James but it's not easy to understand why someone supposedly interested in the Kelly story doesn't find anything worth commenting on in a groundbreaking demolition of a key Kelly narrative.

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    2. " Nothing of late has really grabbed my interest here, sorry Dee." have you had a look at NK Central lately James? Be honest, you just don't like what you are reading here.

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    3. Hey Spudee the last time you spoke to me here, your last comment was telling Dee "it's time to kick me out", for simply having an opinion. I make comments on all levels about the Kelly story, and genuinely haven't taken an interest in many topics of late. The self praise and back patting really does urk me, and I simply lost interest there for a while.

      As I alluded to before, not this site, nor only one individual here, hasn't killed off the Ned supporters, it's only made them more wiser about making comment, nothing more.

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    4. James you're not going to let self-praise and back patting stop you from defending the Kelly legend are you?

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    5. James, the word is "irk" not "urk".

      I was going to add something nasty but you are not worth the powder and shot of an answer.

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    6. Wow, so judgemental aren't you.

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    7. Mr Gray must be kidding! The pro-Ned Kelly sites have made suck-holing an art form. A nut from NKF started a Facebook hatepage against a critical recent book. IO made death threats against the author of that book. NKF spitefully deleted several members before it eventually went under...

      I prefer butt-patting anyday to death threats, hate pages and gutting members.

      Take Spudee's advice and make yourself scarce, Mr Gray.

      Talking about nuts, I found this on Trove:

      BEECHWORTH ASSIZES. [BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH.] (FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.) BEECHWORTH, WEDNESDAY.
      The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) Thursday 2 May 1878 p 6 Article
      ... interest was taken in the Baumgarten horsestealing cases. William Quin, for an unnatural offence at ... forgery at Euroa, was found not guilty, the judge directing an acquittal. Wm. Baumgarten ... 259 words
      Tagged as: kellygang sympathizers, Baumgarten, John Studders, Whitty

      Text last corrected on 17 June 2014 by mickfitz

      Mick has been trying to disprove the mutilation of stolen horses apparently by the Kelly Gang destroying evidence.

      I suppose he found this Trove site and then gave up:

      http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/rendition/nla.news-article199685236.3.pdf?followup=0a37a197175a1953d47f7902c4b81838

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    8. Really guys and gals (including you Dee). I have mentioned nothing in support about Mick, nor made reference to any death threats (nor would I ever go that direction), or said anything that I would consider as being offensive or of the bullying kind, yet some of you insist I leave, why? I'm merely having an opinion about sites, the running commentary, and individuals perhaps crossing the line. I'm not pro or anti Kelly, but I'm merely out for a fair go. Some of the comments posted on this site have been equally as bad as what has been posted on other sites, yet members here often cry fowl when they get questioned about their statements. I don't think questioning some negative individual comments is an offence. I don't protend to know all the facts, nor do I have the best of the English language, yet I get picked up on my grammar and spelling, now that irks me (or was that urk?). ....time for work, later all.

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    9. James you say "I'm not pro or anti Kelly..." so why would you think that "Nothing of late has really grabbed my interest here,..." in Dee's latest series of blogs dealing with the police persecution question? I would think that anyone studying the kelly story would be interested in anything which adds to the story.

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  3. Oops, in my comment above on the 'Historical studies' article, I forgot to give the article title, which is "Ned Kelly's Sympathisers".

    Mav Brown would like to say something in support of the persecution theory. In chapter 3 of his 'Australian Son', both 1948 and 1956 editions, he says "James Quinn , jun., was convicted for assaulting police and illegally using a horse, and received five months gaol and a fine of £10. Red Kelly's brother, James, shortly arrived from Tipperary, received three years for cattle stealing. authority must have been keen to convict, for it brought eight other unsupported charges against members of the clan". Is this true? Were the authorities bringing 'unsupported charges' against the Kelly/Quinn clan? Are the persecution theorists right? (Just wonderin)

    Then at the end of that chapter we read that "Red, who had kept free of trouble since his convict days, was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of a bullock's hide. The evidence was so slight, that a penalty of only six months was imposed". Brown can't get away with this one; Dee went and exposed it earlier, that the neighbour whose calf was stolen brought a policeman to the Kelly's house where the hide with the brand cut out was found. The evidence was clear, and conviction followed. But Brown's wording shows how he has sided with the persecution theory, most likely from his reading of Kenneally.

    Now, can anyone help with proving or disproving Brown's assertion that the authorities brought "eight other unsupported charges" against members of the Kelly/Quinn clan at this time?

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    1. Stuart, in Chapter One of A Short Life, IJ catalogues a long series of 10 or so charges against various Quinns and against Reds brother James, many of which were dismissed. I cant figure out in the references to that section where IJ got that information from, and in Kelvyns work there are no references to these charges till 1863 where two are recorded - both were dismissed but the following year he went to prison for 3 years after a third charge was proven of stock theft.

      Max Browns view - and that of Kelly fanciers generally - must have been that if there isn't sufficient evidence to convict, then the person is innocent and the charge must have been harassment. This misses the whole point of a trial and a Court system ; its a process to ensure people are punished for crimes we are sure they've commited, and dismissal where there is doubt - it doesn't necessarily equate to being innocent. But once you have the poor ned spectacles firmly on, everything looks like oppression.

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    2. Hi Dee, when you said 'catalogue' it rang a bell. Brown's "unsupported charges" will be from the table of Arrests and Convictions" in Appendix 10 of the Royal Commission Minutes of Evidence. If you look down the Kellys and Quinns list (and ignore the Lloyds) there are 8 'Discharged' instances prior to 1876. Brown is therefore implying that the cases were discharged from lack of evidence, and therefore fit-ups. This is wrong. For one example, Ned Kelly was discharged from the case of assaulting Ah Fook by members of his family swearing he was not involved, and by Ah Fook not having any witnesses. It is not that the assault never happened; it was that it couldn't be proved against him with relatives prepared to falsely swear on oath he didn't do it. I have no more time to waste on this just now; it is obvious that Brown is making sweeping generalisations based on no investigation of the case reports and a perverse, Kelly-inspired irrational hatred of the police. It is safe to say from this that Brown falls firmly in the irrational 'persecution theorist' camp along with Kenneally. But if it wasn't for this series of posts, I might never have thought about re-reading Brown with that in mind. Well done, Dee.

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    3. Frank Clune does exactly the same thing in his 1955 "Kelly Hunters" book.

      Frank thought the failed prosecutions exonerated the Kellys.

      Of course they didn't.

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  4. Dear everyone. Get off James Grays' back. He has made some valid points over the months and in his words, "neither pro or anti Kelly". AND he is decent with what he writes, can use punctuation and has interesting things to say. Why would you not want him here? Jamey? Joe? Bloody hell.

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    1. "neither pro or anti Kelly" is becoming the anthem of the closet Kelly fans like Mark Perry and James Gray, and the nut who tried to disrupt this blog a month ago.

      There aren't many Kelly bankers left, but they are fighting a desperate rearguard action.

      Ned is stuffed, and so are they!

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    2. Dear Ken. Thank you for your remedial take on the situation. Very appreciated. Ned may well end up stuffed. Let the chips fall where they may. But i ain't going to be stopping my interest in the story of the Kelly Outbreak. All this childish bickering has just made the Ned story even more interesting and desirable.

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    3. Ken Verdon who were you referring to? It sounds like your post is a bit of a non event designed to disrupt this blog...Mark Perry and James Grey seem like level headed contributors to me.

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  5. I agree with Mark, can everyone get off everyone's back and actually talk about the topic? Without the personal digs? To continue my (unanswered) questions about Max Brown, in both his 1948 and revised 1956 editions of "Australian Son", in chapter 7 he raises the Nicholson comments about "without oppressing the people" that Dee made a key issue in the current topic above. At the beginning of chapter 8 Brown asks, "Was there any connection between the official determination to lag the Kellys and the next little act in this drama? Ned was now arrested in Benalla for drunkenness and riding across a footpath." So we see the persecution theory alive and well in Max Brown here.

    First, he has made the same blinkered misinterpretation of Nicholson that Dee dismantled above. Second, he is reading the arrest of Ned for drunken riding as part of a conspiracy to nail the Kellys at every opportunity. I would think that if someone was careering drunkenly around the street on horseback they probably deserve a night in the logs; begging for it in fact. What we have is typical Greta gang behaviour, with the larrikin blaming anyone but himself (hocussed drink) for his anti-social hooning, then cracking it because he got arrested. Basically he was being a d-head and got done. No conspiracy in this little drama that I can see.

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    1. Mark, I tend to agree with what Ken Verdon says above. I have had a look at posts made by both Mark Perry and James Grey, not just here but on some Kelly FB pages and you don't need to be a genius to work out where their allegiances lie. If they are pro Kelly then why not say so and join the debates. This little world of interpretation of the Kelly story is not one for wimps.

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    2. I'm with Stuart on this with one exception : the Kelly troll who continues to boast about wrecking my Forums, who stupidly thinks I am Warren Tuckey, who attacks and vilifies every person he has decided is not a rabidly pro-kelly fellow traveller and now is already rubbishing the new ellen book even though he hasn't - and probably never will - read it. Everyone else I try to be tolerant of and to deal with their arguments rather than their personality or my guess about their Kelly sympathies. What I have difficulty with is any post that makes a valid point but also makes an uncalled for personal comment. Sometimes I delete them sometimes I let them through...there still has to be room for stupid arguments to be called out.

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    3. Dear Spudee. Thank you for understanding me more than I understand myself. With you at the helm, the last pieces of the puzzle are in place...

      I will let you know if I am Pro Kelly at whatever point. Glad to see you are robust and not a wimp. What are your thoughts on Grantlee Kiezas new book? I am very much enjoying it, despite a few trifling errors. It's very well referenced and he can indeed present a good yarn. Interested to hear your thoughts. In my opinion, this book is needed. Same sort of length as Fitzsimons but vastly superior. Must read his take on Monash next..

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    4. My pleasure Mark. You see the difference between the 2 of us is that it didn't take me long to come to the conclusion, when I was a mere youth, that Kelly and his mates were nothing but hard-core, thugs and murderous thieves. You still seem to be trying to make up your mind on that.

      I have the book and will get around to it when I make my way through a bit of a backlog of reading material I have at present. But from what you and many others, it seems to be a good piece of work. I have read his biography on Monash and while I think he is a little harsh on the man, it is a good read about a very important Australian. Did you know for instance, that Monash was a partner in the establishment of Monier?

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  6. Wow - what a lot of trouble Ned is still causing, I did not know that the debate was raging so violently in a word sense, just imagine what it was like when Ned was still alive - the two sides out to get on another - no wonder it got actually really violent. I am glad there is still some fire in the belly for you all but may I suggest you also look to finding some agreement on something and moving on from there, it is almost a religious war you are fighting, Ned killed some police and was hung, he has a world wide profile and is a hero to many who are conscious of the class war that existed in Victoria at the time, Ned was renegade. It seems that the anti-Ned side do not want Ned to be promoted on the backs of the people he killed and that the pro-Ned, the sympathisers, want to believe in their hero - that is pretty simple - the fact that you can't get there seems to illustrate that the division between the sides will never be bridged - therefore please keep fighting as Ned did - the fight is not over and seemingly never will be - aidan.kelly@iinet.net.au

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    1. Hi Aidan, your point that "It seems that the anti-Ned side do not want Ned to be promoted on the backs of the people he killed and that the pro-Ned, the sympathisers, want to believe in their hero" seems like a pretty good summary to me. But we can layer it a bit more by considering how the various historical views are constructed; there are multiple interpretations of the Ned story, and one of the interesting things to me anyway is how factually incorrect representations of historical events come to be dominant or orthodox views in many areas, and not just conflicting versions of the Ned story. So we have different studies and interpretations of the intentions behind the First Fleet, as historian Alan Frost revealed a few years ago, that throws the old 'penal colony' view, that many of us were brought up with, right out the window, by careful revisiting and combing of the historical documents on which these older views had been based, to show how wrong that old orthodoxy was.

      Only speaking for myself, and I have quite a different view from many others who post comments here, I see it as trying to solve interesting historical puzzles where a lot of the 'orthodox' views don't add up. It's a sort of challenge - can I solve a puzzle that others have said will never be solved. For example, there are no shortage of people from G.W. Hall 1879 to Ian Jones' 'Short Life', who have said that we will never know what really happened in the Fitzpatrick Incident. That's because they were all happy to sit around and say on the one hand Fitzpatrick said this, and on the other Ned said that, so who knows really? And it seemed pretty clear that the various historians presented what Ned said about it in the Euroa/Jerilderie letters and other places in reasonable detail, but they were content with one or the other transcripts of Fitzpatrick's testimony and made up their minds that Fitzpatrick was a useless bum from that alone, or worse, from partial extracts.

      In nearly 140 years not one single person had ever looked at the several parts of Fitzpatrick's testimony, done a reconstruction, and attempted a corroboration. Until I took it up as a historical challenge and published my "Redeeming Fitzpatrick" article, examining every piece of source evidence and article that had ever been written in, on or about it. And voila, his testimony was both externally corroborated on many points and consequently vindicated. Which not only shows history can be fun and puzzles can be solved, but that the resulting knowledge can require significant re-evaluations of what had previously been thought. sop it's not about joining a fan club for me, it's about looking at what seem to be some historical clangers and seeing what can be said about them with fresh eyes. Which is quite different from the idea of two sides pro and con having a kind of religious war about the 'hero-villain' debate which is a total waste of time. When I run out of interesting puzzles to solve I will happily go away and do something else. I practically never heard of the Kelly gang or other bushrangers growing up. We all looked at the gold rushes and convicts, but not bushrangers. C'est la vie.

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    2. You haven’t been getting too many responses lately Dee. I think Stuart’s comment about the Kelly story for him being an historical puzzle points to the reason why. It has been a puzzle for a lot of us, but one which has now been substantially solved. With that, we are perhaps not as interested in the Kelly story as we once were.

      I know for me the whole ‘was-he-a-hero or villain’ dichotomy was one of the many facets of the Kelly story that kept me interested for so long. But your own blogs going back years now, and the publications by the likes of McFarlane, Morrissey and Kieza and investigative work by Stuart Dawson, have revealed the truth. He was simply 'a very dangerous criminal' to use Grantlee Kieza’s words, and nothing more.

      This is confirmed to me by my reading of Kelvyn Gill’s two volumes from cover to cover (phew, that took some time!). It’s so interesting to read all those contemporary newspaper reports and the other material of the day that Kelvyn has assembled and see the story unfold from the early days when the Kellys settled in the Greta district. There is no doubt that the Kellys, Quinns and Lloyds were a terror to the Greta district and beyond. With only 50 police stationed in the entire North East District at the time of the Kelly Outbreak, you begin to see that claims that the Kellys were victims of police persecution are just nonsense. They were a criminal gang heavily involved in horse and cattle stealing, and that is what (quite rightly) resulted in police intervention. The Kellys hated the police with a passion (enough to commit murder) on account of this intervention.

      The throwing around of the word “sympathiser” was always something that had me thinking there might have been something more to the story. The very word conjures up the idea that there was some kind of political agenda or cause going on in the North East District. That in turn fits in very nicely with Ian Jones’ suggestion of the Republic of North East Victoria. The newspaper reports in The Definitive Record show however that the word was used from the time of the SBC killings to simply describe a kinship of criminal associates or confederates. There was no cause per se for the “sympathisers” to be sympathetic too, only loyalty to each other.

      Having established the true story does not change the fact that the Kelly Outbreak was a very significant event, and there are other elements of the story that still hold an interest to me. It is a very interesting part of Australia’s history – just one that perhaps won’t occupy as much of my time in the future as it has in the past.

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    3. Hi Peter, thanks for pointing out there were only 50 police in the NE District at the time of the outbreak, I hadn't thought about that. The police area known as the Ovens District was renamed to become the North East District in 1878 (Police Muster Rolls VPRS 55, Unit 8, July 1878-June 1879). Just imagine if the "Republic of NE Victoria" had been the "Republic of Ovens"! The "sympathisers" would have been really cooked!!! We can probably agree there is no sign of any "Republic of Ovens" movement at any point, so the republic theory is implausible from that alone. Even more betterer, if anyone would care to have a look at Cameron Forbes' recent book, "Australia on Horseback", in the chapter on the Kellys, page 414 from memory, they will see that Leonard Radic no longer believes he saw a Declaration of a Republic of NE Victoria" in the London Public Records Office in London in 1961-2. So the only alleged sighting of such a document is down the toilet, where it always belonged. I think I have worked out what he did see, but I am still putting that bit of the puzzle together, and there is a way to go yet. But I can say fairly confidently that the republic theory is total crap. All the evidence discovered so far is against it, and the fragmentary bits held up in its favour are melting away like snow under the heat of reinvestigation. Summer breeze, makes me feel fine... Now is the winter of our discontent... Etc.

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    4. Very good post Peter. I think that anyone interested in the Kelly story who would like to get a good, unbiased overview of the events involved, could do no better than reading Kelvyn's terrific volume/s. While they are pricey, they do give readers the opportunity to sift through the vast information recorded and make up their own minds. In the past, many of us have relied on various publications, most of which invariably project some sort of bias. Although I personally feel that in the recent years, Ned's deeds have become less sanitised in the telling as authors take a closer look at the outbreak, its beginnings and motives.

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    5. I feel a tiny bit of regret for being partly responsible for ruining something that was an interest of yours Peter - I was called the Grinch a while ago, now you're saying I am a party pooper, but I don't think the party is over for everyone yet. There are still plenty of interesting topics to unpick or expose before there is universal acceptance that the "Ned Kelly - hero or villain" riddle is a false dichotomy promoted as a trick to keep the Kelly Hero delusion alive. I am REALLY excited to hear Stuarts revelation that Radic changed his mind about the document he thought was the Declaration of a Republic of NE Victoria. This must be something the Kelly people have been terrified would become widely known and they've ignored it and hoped nobody would notice. We had already concluded the document didnt exist for a whole lot of other reasons, and we had already concluded the Republic idea was a complete fantasy, but now to have this claim recanted - well, what have they got left of the kelly legend?

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    6. Ay, caramba! "... Leonard Radic no longer believes he saw a Declaration of a Republic of NE Victoria" in the London Public Records Office in London in 1961-2." Stuart, this is truly mind-blowing and I wonder if Ian Jones has/had been aware of that revelation? The NE Victoria republic whimsy, along with the 'police persecution' and 'the police at SBC were killed in self defence' has long been held as gospel by the Kelly mythologists. The 3 claims have formed the rationale that Ned really was a battler for the downtrodden and only carried out crimes because he was forced to and killed to save his own life. I suspect much boiled blood when this revelation becomes known to the pro Kelly mob!

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    7. Hi Spudee, I came across this by accident when I was looking in Cameron Forbes' book for something else altogether. It would be a bit out of the way for Kelly reading. I have been sitting on this for a few months now, while my Republic investigation plods along slowly. But based on Dee's review of the new Kieza book, and on several other favourable comments about it both here and elsewhere, it sounds like Kieza may have provided us with a much desired new and coherent Kelly narrative that helps makes it possible to read much of the Kelly story with fresh eyes and without the vision-impairing iron mask. It seems a good time now to pull that "no such Declaration" rabbit out of the hat. I don't know if Kieza is aware of Forbes' revelation re Radic, but I am looking forward to my copy turning up, to see what else he has to say.

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    8. Has anybody considered asking Ian Jones where he first saw the NE republic document? I believe he sighted it once but it has long since disappeared.

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    9. Anonymous, Ian Jones has NVER seen the NE Republic document. Jones reports in A Short Life that Leonard Radic claimed to have seen it, though he only realised later that what he had seen in a London museum must have been the Declaration. This sounds very like a false memory to me. Barry Jones - possibly with Ian Jones, I cant remember just now - went to London to search for it but nobody remembered ever seeing such a document and certainly they never found it. That was in the 1960's I think.

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    10. Hi Anonymous, please read Ian jones' "Short Life", chapter 16, any edition, and the end notes; also his "Fatal Friendship" and end notes, where he has inconveniently put the other half of his views on the subject, which are mostly in those two places. You will see that he never saw the alleged document and never claimed to do so. He interviewed the theatre critic Leonard Radic in the late 1960s about something Radic had seen on display in London in the winter of 1961-2, that Radic recalled (under intensive questioning) as being a Declaration of a Republic of NE Victoria with mention of the Kellys. Intensive later searches failed to find any mention of such a document listed in that exhibition. Radic and Jones agreed that it might have belonged to a private collector who wished it to remain anonymous. That doesn't explain why there was no exhibition record of a display item; only that a theoretical lender wished to remain anonymous.

      You will see by putting the bits of description from the two books together, what the item is that is being described. Clue: it is not a "Declaration of a Republic of NE Victoria"! Radic would have been pushed hard by Jones, who was inspired to believe in such a document by the preface of Max Brown's "Australian Son", and possibly personal discussion as well. Now we know that Radic has realised that what he saw was not such a document. Read the Cameron Forbes chapter to see what he later thought he saw.

      Then wait another 6 months until I am ready to post here, in this very blog of Dee's, for the very fist time, (drum roll), what the damn thing actually was!

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    11. The whole Leonard Radic thing was poorly handled by him and others. It just unleashed another fake rabbit for the Kelly fans to chase after. 46 years later we're still waiting for the document to be produced.

      Laughable nonsense!

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    12. Hi Ray, if you read Ian Jones' write-ups, you will see it is not Leonard Radic's fault. He was not the one pushing a Declaration claim. All he did was mention something that he vaguely recalled and had no particular interest in, to his wife, who came from the Greta area. Somehow Jones heard of this, and went on the hunt to vindicate the comment by Max Brown about a legend that a Declaration had been taken from Ned by the police on his capture at Glenrowan.

      Radic would have been pushed hard on this by Jones, as you can see from Jones' two write-ups and fragmentary descriptions of what Radic vaguely recalled seeing a few years earlier and which he told Jones he had not paid much attention to, as he had no interest in it. Justice Phillips made much of this in his talk about the "Declaration", casting Radic in the role of an "impartial witness", unbiased and therefore reliable as to what he saw. It may or may not be that Radic had what Dee above called a "false memory". I have no doubt that Radic saw something; the question is, what.

      By putting together the Ian Jones descriptions, and by examining what Max Brown said about a document taken from Ned's pocket upon capture, we can see why Jones got excited - the long-lost vindication of the planned Glenrowan train massacre that turned Ned from psychopath to political revolutionary. But it is all a straw man. I have been able to trace where Brown's "legend" of a Declaration comes from. I have been able to trace that story's re-emergence in the 1940s. I can offer a coherent explanation from these various bits of information how Brown thought he had found a Declaration legend and how he constructed it, how it grew and flourished through to the 1940s, how that is related to what Radic saw in London, and how Jones turned those things together, under the sway of Brown's republican nationalism, into his "political" Ned Kelly dream.

      Once you see the construction, it is so simple it's laughable. But assembling the evidence has taken over a year so far, and there is a few months more work to do before it can be presented in a clear, full and coherent way. It is still a complex investigation and I feel no pressure to rush it out. Hopefully it will be ready around August/September. Then the republic myth can be finally put to bed. What I can say is that Ian MacFarlane and Doug Morrissey have put plenty of holes in it. I am just working on the final piece of the puzzle, how Brown constructed the myth in the first place.

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    13. You don't need a declaration document for NE republic to act on Irish Home Rule sentiments. Typical of Trove academics they require the physical evidence in manuscript form but will fail to acknowledge the zeitgeist.

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    14. Right on there, Anonymous! Bloody academics always wanting proof for stuff! There are no cases anywhere in the entire world historical literature of people ever making things up or getting it wrong or not knowing what the hell they're talking about so why don't these ivory tower academic types get real for once! Physical evidence for stuff is for dummies who don't know how to get with the zeitgeist, right?

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    15. Ahhh... the sacred NE republic document that Kelly 'unsypathisers' feel so precious about, its absence can only prove the Irish had no Home Rule sentiments. How preposterous Dee! Your sarcasm does nothing for your argument.

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    16. Hi Anonymous, the zeitgeist is having a rest. It has a serious hangover after Morrissey's demolition of the frequently alleged but historically invisible claimed struggle between nationalist Irish background colonials and the status quo both in NE Vic and elsewhere; and research by Ben Jones' article, "Colonial Republicanism: Re-examining the Impact of Civic Republican Ideology in Pre-Constitution New South Wales", which I mentioned previously on this blog, demonstrating that colonial republican sentiments were overwhelmingly not anti-British and anti-monarchist. Zeitgeists are a bit like poltergeists, they are hard to photograph; but not necessarily any more real for that. But I will remember to have a look for any stray zeitgeists that Morrissey and others may have missed while I'm poking around at this. So far, though, the horizon is bare. Is there any sign of a republican zeitgeist in any of the huge collection of documents that Kelvyn recently assembled?

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    17. Anonymous - a complete non-sequiter! Absence of the Document means nothing about 'Home Rule" sentiment. It just means the claim that it existed and was evidence in support of it, is wrong. So please go on and make your case for Ned being some sort of revolutionary, some sort of leader of a political movement of some sort, or whatever it is you're alleging he was part of and we'll have a look at it. Ian Jones case has fallen apart, so lets see if you can do ant better.

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    18. As we know, Stuart has 'form' for justifying what he claims by good, strong and backed-up research. So I personally feel confident that what he uncovers and writes up will have convincing arguments that the republic for NE Victoria was a load on bunkum. So I suppose that if we accept that any declaration or manifesto for a republican idea was and is non-existent, what other evidence is there to support the theory of a republican movement in that area at that time. There have been suggestions that during the Glenrowan siege, groups of men, possibly sympathisers, had been spotted in the area. There were also reports of signal rockets having been fired. There have been suggestions that some sympathisers had been armed to support the gang and perhaps as a corollary, the NE Victoria republican movement. If all of this was in-place, what happened? From what I have read it seems that anything remotely connected to a rising of some sort simply evaporated. Why was this so? Was it a lack of organisation, lack of courage, or just cold feet at the last minute? Will we ever know?

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    19. Hi Spudee, yes all those things and more have to be analysed and accounted for. Also the separation movement question; as they could have had a public and totally legal separation movement (as the Riverina and elsewhere did), why bother with some secret republican society? Suffice to say there's a fair bit of work in it to go yet. My unbridled confidence only comes from not yet finding anything that can't be explained quite easily without republican sentiments. Of course, I could be totally wrong, or find some insurmountable stumbling block. But that's the challenge, have a look, test it out, and see where it goes. Who cares anyway, it was 140 years ago. But it is an intrinsically interesting puzzle, so why not have a look at it?

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    20. I must say I strongly support Anonymous’s contributions here, assuming it is the same Anonymous on 5 and 6 March. The zeitgeist theory is around; it is just not what I am looking at. But someone else might like to look into it. The main problem is that zeitgeists are typically retrospective. We see that something social or political happened, and we look for a “spirit of the times” that caused it. I could say there was a republican zeitgeist in the 1990s with a high-profile republican movement promoting itself everywhere. Or I could say that there was a stronger non-republic zeitgeist because it didn’t happen. So are you going to say there was a republican zeitgeist, or just some noisy people in favour? I don’t recall any overwhelming republican “spirit of the times” then; but various commentators claimed one.

      Now we have a theory that there was a dynamically powerful and popular “spirit of the times”, at least in NE Victoria, or maybe that part of it that was of Irish background, or just that bit of that which was anti-British, or perhaps just some members of the large Kelly and relatives clan, with maybe a few larrikin mates, who took time out of drinking, brawling, thieving, and being guests at one of Her Majesty’s bluestone facilities, to raise their collective political consciousness into the forging of a organised clandestine movement for the planning and declaration of a Republic of NE Victoria under the wise and almost universally loved leadership of General Edward Kelly, brainiac extraordinaire, who somehow managed to write two very long, whining letters and give many a tipsy speech to his hostages about how hard done by he was without even the teeniest mention of any political ambition or agenda. Well, maybe. But the zeitgeist I see with plenty of evidence from the day is a general Victorian spirit of hang the bugger. (Except for the zeitgeist of the abolitionists.)

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    21. I think another factor to be considered in any supposed NE Victoria republic suggestion, is the makeup of the community in that region at that time i.e. late 1870s. While there was still a very strong Irish nucleus among the community, this was rapidly being replaced by native born members with less of a connection back to the Old Country. If there had been conversations around dinner tables about such a movement, I suspect that the younger, Australian-born members would have seen this as a load of blarney! And I certainly don't support the view that Ned Kelly, an uneducated habitual criminal, had the political nouse for such a venture.

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  7. More on Max Brown. In 'Australian Son' 1948: 136 (and similarly in 1981: 116) Brown continues the story after the Jerilderie robbery and writes excitedly, "The outlaws had the golden touch. They had no newspapers or pulpits to press their point of view; but their deeds spoke with magic. They were the heroes of the children from one end of the land to the other. 'Police and the Kellys' became the game of the day, and the Kellys emerged alive and well from ten thousand breathless encounters. Their deed became bush ballads, sung and recited wherever poor men met".

    Gosh, riveting stuff. Except that the outlaws did not have the golden touch. They hoped to seize ten thousand pounds from Jerilderie and got barely two thousand. A big haul, yes, but far short of their felonious little plans, and they were bitterly disappointed with the haul. Brown is way off in lamenting that the gang had no pulpits to press their view. They were hardly saints, after all; Brown documented in the previous two chapters how Ned Kelly repeatedly threatened to shoot both the citizen Rankin, the disarmed policeman Richards, then bank staff Tarleton and Living, then anyone who left the town before 7pm. Real heroes, shoving guns in ordinary people's faces and forcing them to their knees for threatened public execution. Brown's idealisation of these performances is pathetic.

    The gang were not the heroes of children from one end of the land to the other by a long shot; this was just a sometime variant of cops and robbers. The Kelly ballads were not sung by poor men everywhere but were largely confined to larrikin elements ragging the police, as Graham Jones' 'Larrikin Years' observes. There is little favourable mention about anything to do with the Kellys in the now extensive Trove digitised newspaper collection before the 1920s. So many mistakes and exaggerations in one small paragraph...

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  8. The Kelly Gang were 'Dead Men Walking' after SBC.

    'The Kelly Gang Unmasked' at page 12 says there is no evidence at all for the Kelly republic. It's a time wasting figment of Ian Jones's wild imagination.

    Ian Jones is kinda quiet these days. Hope he is OK.

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  9. Stuart Dawson your research findings are an absolutely massive BOMBSHELL that goes to the very heart of the Mythology. It cannot survive this one. I cannot wait to read the paper you're writing. Brilliant!

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  10. Stuart, how do you weave around the Australian and International Irish uprisings as possible precursors and influences towards the NE republican sentiments during the time of the Kelly's? What about Eureka, Rouse Hill, Castle Hill do you think these earlier uprisings are related to how the Irish felt during the time Ned and the Gang banded together to cause mayhem. I know it's not an easy question to answer but a NE document doesn't really have to exist if there is significant ill feeling amongst families who are familiar with Irish uprisings locally and in the Irish homeland.
    A republican document is evidence of intent but so are patriotic feelings shared orally.
    Such an interesting topic to unpack but very difficult to gauge the 'swell' without known statistics, public polling of sentiments and information about known Irish Australian Nationalists.

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    1. Hi Anonymous, I haven't got a clue as that's not what I'm looking at. I'm only looking at whether there was, as some have claimed, a clear, recognisable Kelly republican sentiment or not. I'm not doing social history here. I'm doing the specific claims by Brown, Jones, Phillips, and friends, who state that there was an identifiable, recognisable and definable Kelly republican movement based on facts, documents and evidence.

      True, that is tied in to some extent by Ian Jones with groundswells of Irish republican leanings. But that involves looking at Morrissey's work on the mixed allegiances and social intermingling of the Irish and other colonials in the NE in particular, and that there was now clear Irish = republican spilt of opinion. Just think of all those strapping Irish lads who took the Queen's shilling and settled for a lazy, loafing billet etc.; or all the non-republican Irish background selectors; and the fact explored by Morrissey (in 'Lawless Life' and in his far more meticulously detailed and documented PhD thesis) that the bulk of NE selectors were making a go of their farms in those years, contra Ian Jones.

      And the wholly inadequate responses by Ian Jones to Weston Bate in 'Man and Myth', where Bates shoots down a large chunk of Jones' speculations and Jones replies to the effect of that's not what the newspapers he read say. Bates of course was one of the leading social historians looking at this stuff. Also, paint me pink and call me Percy, but having read Gregory Blake's "Eureka Stockade: a ferocious and bloody battle", I see no link whatsoever between the Kelly banditti of around 1876-80 and the Eureka diggers' battle of 1854.

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    2. Stuart I feel this should be your Blog now as you are making all the great revelations now! A real academic! I remember in the discussions after Bates talk - or was it Jones' - when he was challenged Ian lamely ended up saying "well we are in happy disagreement". He wouldn't accept the Professors view...not that one is obliged to, and professors don't always get it right - look at Moloney - but it was an interesting insight into Jones mind set.

      As I understand from my reading about Eureka it wasn't fundamentally an irish vs English conflict but a reaction to the harsh penalties and taxes being imposed on the diggers by authorities. The taxes weren't being imposed because they were Irish and they weren't resisted because it was the British colonial authorities imposing them but they were harsh unjust and brutally enforced. The battle was not for Irish republicanism or separatism but a protest against harsh laws and taxes.

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    3. Hi Dee, you are right in your quote of what Jones said, but I'd hate to be thought of as a "real academic" - look at all the stuff so many of them pontificate about and get wrong. I'm more of an academically trained ratbag. I could never run a blog, I wouldn't have the patience. I'm going to completely beg out of the social history argument. What started me off on the republic was the claims by Phillips in his Kerford oration, which seem far fetched, to put it politely.

      Largely reliant on the alleged Radic sighting of a Declaration of a Kelly re3public (as filtered through Ian Jones), Phillips claims to have himself seen a reference to it in a 1920s edition of the Irish Times. Last year I spent a day both computer searching and then physically checking the Irish Times and the Irish Weekly Times from about 1915 to 1935 and guess what? Not one item of any kind about a Kelly republic. As Phillips said at the end of his Kerford oration, "Well, ladies and gentlemen, there – as we say at the law courts – is the evidence. I simply put it before you for your consideration." And after a day of careful checking, I have found that his own evidence does not exist. Court dismissed. I am now retiring from this particular debate until my wider research is completed in a few months, but that gives you a one more instance of some alleged evidence for a Kelly republic that is actually non-existent. I think that's enough give-aways for work in progress for now.

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    4. This is discussion is really terrific and once again, we have Stuart to thank for the interest it is generating. However, it is pretty much over my head so I simply sit back with both my mind and mouth open trying to take it all in!

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  11. 'Anonymous' is the third person to try and disrupt this blog with dud posts in three months. Or maybe, it is one person returning for a third try. This stuff is exceedingly boring and time-wasting, which is the intention of course.

    Rid us of this dopey numbskull, Dee!

    Keep those bombs coming Stuart and Dee. The pro-Kelly drongos are on the run!

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    1. We are indeed.. And its invigorating.

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  12. Dee, the demographics for Ballarat in late 1854 are only guessed at by historians. Victoria by then had censuses, but the population of diggers was in a state of ever-changing upheaval.

    I'm prepared to concede an Irish preponderance but only because the Irish love getting something for nothing.

    Only kidding, I think.

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  13. Ray Gooch (what an interesting name) how is anonymous disrupting the blog? I would suggest that 'Ray Gooch' is doing this quite successfully by him/herself.
    Please Dee get rid of your dubious contributors that post as if they are real people. It's very boring and time wasting.

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    1. Thanks - "anonymous".

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  14. One thing to keep in mind is that many of us sympathisers never really bought into the whole Republic thing to start with, so no one should go around thinking that all of the pro-Kelly folks are on the run as concerns this particular issue. I am grateful that someone as tenacious and meticulous as Stuart Dawson is on the case. I look forward to all of his findings. It seems that perhaps he has come to the kingdom for such a time as this (as well as for a few other things). What is odd is that back in January of 2015 at this very blog someone did a post wherein they mentioned Cameron Forbes' "Australia on Horseback." They had seen something in it saying that Doug Morrissey had an upcoming book and they reported it to us. I wonder if this individual had read the entire Forbes book and had come across the Len Radic information but did not feel a need to mention it? If they had, all of this could be in the rear view mirror by now. I guess some things are not meant to come to light until they are supposed to. ;)

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    1. That was me, Sharon. I only browsed that book while in a shop one day. I don't recall anything of particular significance relating to Leonard Radic. I have never read the full book and do not own a copy, so am not sure what is being alluded to here.

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    2. No worries, at times I start reading books and don't finish them right then or just skim through. Like I said, some things aren't meant to come to light until they are supposed to. ;)

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1. Moderation is back on. I haven’t got time to be constantly monitoring what comments are made and deleting the mindless rubbish that Kelly sympathisers have been posting lately. Please post polite sensible comments, avoid personal abuse and please use the same name whenever you Post, even if its a made-up name.


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