Friday, 14 September 2018

The Fitzpatrick Conspiracy : Part V

Two farmers , a builder, a carpenter a contractor and a blacksmith : six of the two hundred citizens of Lancefield who signed up in support of Constable Fitzpatrick
and against the blackening of his name and reputation
by police hierarchy determined to blame him for the Outbreak

In the last few posts I’ve been discussing what we actually know about Constable Alex Fitzpatrick. We know that up to the time of the infamous ‘incident’ he had an unblemished record of service in the Victoria Police. We know that contrary to popular opinion, there is not one shred of evidence that he had a drinking problem or was an alcoholic. We also know, having seen Fitzpatrick’s death certificate that Justin Corfield’s Ned Kelly Encyclopaedia got it completely wrong, claiming he had alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver when he died. The death certificate recorded that he died from Liver sarcoma that was disseminated and had begun invading his stomach. Sarcoma of the liver is a completely different an unrelated disease to cirrhosis. Anyone who knows anything about the way malignancies spread in the abdomen will know that this dissemination is almost always accompanied by an accumulation of fluid called ascites, which was also recorded on the death certificate.

I’ve also written about the complaints that were made about Fitzpatrick’s conduct in 1879 and 1880 that led up to his dismissal from the police in late April 1880. As far as I have been able to discover, only two charges were proven against him – one for laughing in a hospital after ‘lights out’, and the other for missing the train in Sydney and arriving late for work. He was eventually dismissed from the force by Police Superintendent FC Standish on the advice of Senior Constable Mayes, who admitted to the Royal Commission that from the moment he began working with Fitzpatrick he was looking for an excuse to get rid of him.

This week I want to continue the discussion about Fitzpatrick’s dismissal and show that he was absolutely right to complain to the Royal Commission that he was harshly treated.  

After the “incident” at the Kelly house in April 1878, Fitzpatrick was transferred to Beechworth and soon after, was sent to Richmond, in Melbourne, apparently for his own safety. However, because he knew what the Kellys looked like he was then sent to Sydney to keep watch on the docks in case the gang tried to escape by sea. This turned out to be a good move because he discovered that Jim Wilson, a violent convicted horse thief sentenced to five years in Darlinghurst Gaol, in Sydney, was none other than Ned Kellys brother Jim Kelly. 

Last week I wrote that the charge of ‘neglect of duty’ that he pled guilty to, related to him ‘missing the train’. I thought this meant that he arrived late because he had not caught the train that brought him to work, but I’ve re-read those documents and realise I misinterpreted them. “Missing the train” referred to the fact that he was supposed to have been at the Station when the Southern Train arrived to he could scrutinise the passengers as they got off, and look for any members of the Kelly Gang who might have arrived on it. He arrived at 7.15 on the morning of April 30th1879, quarter of an hour late, missing the train that arrived at 7am and wrote, in explanation, that his own watch was at the Jewellers getting repaired and he was using a watch lent by the watchmaker which ran late. In the PROV file there’s a report from a detective who was sent to the Jeweller to check out Fitzpatrick’s story – and it did. Unsurprisingly the Jeweller said of the watch that he lent Fitzpatrick, that it was “considered a fair time keeper”. 

There was also a complicated story that arose out of a complaint by a hair dresser in Sydney about Fitzpatrick and a woman he knew called Edith Graham (elsewhere named as Edith Jones), an employee of  Kazimany(?) Thomas Pogonowski, a hair dresser.  Pogonowski maintained that on the very same day that Fitzpatrick had ‘missed the train’, April 30th1879, Fitzpatrick engaged him in conversation in his shop to distract him, while Edith stole jewellery , ‘wearing apparel’ and money to the value of seventy pounds (£70). However when Senior Constable Edward Reatingye(?) interviewed Pogonowski he was told the value of the stolen goods was £50.  Edith later claimed that the jewellery had been given to her by Pogonowski “under the pretence of marrying” – which sounds suspiciously like a payment or an inducement for ‘services rendered’ by the servant girl to her employer. The report of the incident tendered by Fitzpatrick says that Inspector Rush told Pogonowski that ‘it was not the second or third time he had been troubled with him and the woman he keeps”. Fitzpatrick directed police to the place where Edith lived, he recovered the supposedly stolen items and in the end no charges were laid against anyone. However, as a result of this incident the police hierarchy decided to recall Fitzpatrick to Victoria. Reports were sent from Sydney to Standish in Benalla, and after reading them he wrote, on May 12th1879 : 

“I concur with the inspector general’s opinion that it is no use in keeping Constable Fitzpatrick in Sydney any longer. He not only neglects his duty for which he was especially told off but he has evidently mixed himself up in a matter calculated to raise grave suspicions of his honesty. He is I fear a worthless and useless young man”

On May 25thStandish forwarded the reports he had received about Fitzpatrick to Superintendent C H Nicolson, along with a Memo which included an unwarranted mischaracterisation of everything that happened :

“It will be seen that Constable Fitzpatrick’s conduct has been most unsatisfactory while on special duty in Sydney.  He was on several occasions absent from duty at the Railway station where his services were urgently required and the attached file shows that he is in the habit of associating with persons from whom he should stand aloof. In short I fear he will never be a good constable.”

Standish goes on to write :
“The following entry will be made in his record that :
“Constable Fitzpatrick while on special duty in Sydney conducted himself in a most unsatisfactory manner; he was lazy, neglectful of his duty and associated with improper characters. In fact his whole conduct drew down the (indecipherable) of the inspector general of police and was calculated to bring discredit to the Victorian police”

But let’s be fair here: Fitzpatrick came to work late once – or possibly twice – and he was mixed up in a dispute between a dodgy employer and his employee, but neither he nor the alleged thief was ever charged let alone found to be guilty of anything. And that was it. On the positive side, the record shows he worked 12 to 14 hour days and he had very usefully identified Jim Kelly in disguise, but he received no credit for that. Standish claimed on the basis of the Edith Graham incident that he was ‘in the HABIT of associating with persons from whom he should stand aloof’ and for that, and perhaps twice being late for work his ‘ENTIRE conduct’ is branded as being ‘calculated to bring discredit to the Victorian police’. Where is the evidence that Fitzpatrick was in the HABIT of associating with the wrong sort of person, or that his ENTIRE conduct was unacceptable? These are gross misrepresentations.

It’s interesting to compare Fitzpatrick’s treatment by Standish with his treatment of another policeman the Kelly supporters love to hate: Constable Edward Hall. Hall was the one who tried to arrest Ned Kelly for horse stealing and when Ned was about to escape, drew his gun and pulled the trigger three times – but it misfired each time. Ned then attacked Hall but once he had been subdued, Hall bashed Ned’s head in with his revolver, and had to get a doctor to come from a nearby town to stitch up the mess he made. Later still, in Court, Hall lied about documentation that hadn’t actually been issued when he claimed to have seen it. So how did Standish respond to this obviously dishonest and violent policeman? He described him as ‘hasty and injudicious’and transferred him out of the district. Fitzpatrick, on the other hand for what, by comparison, were minor incidents was roundly condemned and kicked out. How can that be fair?

So, Fitzpatrick was recalled to Victoria in late April 1879. Not long after getting back to Victoria he sustained a leg injury which must have been quite severe because he was in the Police hospital for almost four months. That was where he broke the rules by laughing out loud after lights out and was fined 5 shillings! In September 1879, now recovered, he was transferred to Lancefield and the supervision of the already hostile SC Mayes. As I recounted last week, at the Royal Commission Mayes admitted his determination from the outset to get Fitzpatrick out of the force, and so he complained about an incident involving Fitzpatrick, saying he had neglected his duty. However as I also detailed in the previous post, when this incident was investigated, according to Fitzpatrick’s unchallenged testimony to the RC, he was “exonerated of all blame”.

Never-the-less in April 1880, without making any attempt to ascertain the particulars that supported the sweeping condemnations of his character supplied from Sydney, and by SC Mayes at Lancefield, and without giving Fitzpatrick an opportunity to defend himself, Standish dismissed Fitzpatrick from the police. 

In July 1881 Fitzpatrick told the Royal Commissioners what happened: 
“I was instructed by Senior-Constable Mayes to proceed to Melbourne from there. The late Sergeant Porter had my voucher made out to be stationed at Romsey, temporary duty for a few days. That night a telegram was sent to the police depot, stating I was to be discharged from the police force to-morrow. That was Tuesday. I asked Captain Standish to tell me the reason why, and he just explained that he had received this communication from Mayes ; and I understood from Captain Standish that was the sole reason I was discharged from the police force ; and I think, as against that, those 200 petitioners ought to go further than Constable Mayes. It is hard my character should be blackened. I might have erred in small things. There are many constables in the force who have done more serious things than I did, and have remained in the force and got promotion.”

In reference to his dismissal he was asked :“Had you any opportunity of reply ?
ANSWER : I never had the slightest opportunity at all. I applied for a board of enquiry, and the Chief Secretary (Mr. Ramsay) declined, as he had left all power with Captain Standish. Notwithstanding that, there were two petitions got up on my behalf by the residents of Lancefield and Romsey, asking that I might be reinstated.
12894. You think you were harshly treated ?
ANSWER : I did, indeed.

The petitions that Fitzpatrick mentions are a pair of remarkable documents that, to their shame, the Kelly story tellers have almost universally, and deliberately ignored. Ian Jones doesn’t mention them in the supposedly greatest Kelly biography ever written. Peter Fitzsimons doesn’t mention them either and neither do sundry other lesser Kelly story tellers like Paul Terry and Ian Shaw, all of whom condemn Fitzpatrick in the usual way, as a drunk and a liar without restraint. However, Ian MacFarlane discussed them in his landmark work from 2012, and so does Grantlee Kieza in his excellent 2017 biography of Ned Kellys mother. 

The reason the Kelly myth-makers like Jones and Fitzsimons have ignored these two petitions, and why nobody anywhere else wants to talk about them is because they represent an almost complete rebuttal of the Kelly myth about Fitzpatrick, that he was a disreputable drunk and an incompetent and useless policeman. What they show, in an extraordinary display of support for Fitzpatrick is that the ordinary people of Lancefield held him in high regard.  On one side you have a few senior police who appear to have made use of a series of minor infringements to smear the reputation and rid the force of a policeman they disliked, perhaps for personal petty reasons, – and on the other side, two HUNDRED respectful citizens of Lancefield who regarded Fitzpatrick as a perfectly good policeman. 

Here is part of what they said”

“We, the undersigned inhabitants of the Lancefield district of Victoria, venture to address you on the subject of the removal and discharge of Mounted Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick who was stationed for nine months in this district. We deprecate the slightest idea of any desire to interfere in the slightest manner with the discipline of the force nor do we desire to question the administration, but on hearing that Mounted Constable Fitzpatrick was discharged on a  report from a superior officer that he did  not do his duty, could not be trusted out of sight and associated with low persons we felt constrained to give our free testimony to the fact that during the time Mounted Constable Fitzpatrick was in the district he was as far as we could see, and we came in contact with him every day, zealous, diligent obliging and universally liked.”

Later they wrote“He made several clever captures and appeared to us as one of the most efficient and obliging men in the force”

Unfortunately, as Fitzpatrick told the Royal Commission, the Chief Secretary had left decisions about Appeals and Enquiries in the hands of F C Standish, the Police Commissioner. Nowadays we would not allow a person with such a marked conflict of interest to adjudicate on Fitzpatrick’s request for a board of  Inquiry, but things were different in 1880. Standish exercised his power to deny the request for an enquiry that would have resulted in indepndant scrutiny of his decision to sack Fitzpatrick. Why would he want that? He might have been embarrassed at being found wanting ! – which was of course what the Royal Commission DID indeed find the following year. His conduct of the police operations was, according to the 1881 royal commission on the police, 'not characterized either by good judgment, or by that zeal for the interests of the public service which should have distinguished an officer in his position'. His response to the Lancefield petition was equally dismissive of the possibility that two hundred citizens of Lancefield may have seen something in Fitzpatrick that he had missed. His reply, on May 10th1880 was as equally self-serving : “In reply I beg to state that the ex-constables conduct during the time that he was a member of the force was generally bad and discreditable to the force. I cannot hold any hope of his ever being reinstated to the position of constable on the Victoria police”

The irony of this remark is that it shows how blind Standish was to the evidence  right in front of him that completely contradicted his belief that Fitzpatrick was "generally bad and discreditable to the force" - the petitioners are attesting to the fact that he was GOOD and in their eyes he was a CREDIT to the force! Standish and the others didnt want to know - thy just wanted him out!

Remarkably, a year later the citizens of Lancefield were still concerned about the treatment handed out to Fitzpatrick by the police hierarchy and a second petition was presented, this time to H M Chomley who had replaced Standish. Chomley also declined to offer Fitzpatrick an opportunity to argue his case, and instead relied on the unsupported opinions recorded on his file, but added “I have always heard him described as a liar and a larrikin”. In fact it was the Kellys who promoted the view that Fitzpatrick was a liar – it isn’t recorded anywhere in his Police file that he was a liar, or ever charged let alone found guilty of perjury. So not only did Chomley deny Fitzpatrick the opportunity to defend his reputation, he trashed it further by adding his own unsubstantiated claim that he was a liar. 

There would seem to be more to Fitzpatricks story than is made clear from the surviving documentation, and I suspect it was something about Fitzpatrick’s personality and style that got under the noses of police hierarchy. He seemed to be able to relate to ordinary working-class folk but not to the rigid disciplinarians of the police hierarchy. There’s no evidence that he was an alcoholic, but if there was, I think I could understand why he might have become one because whichever way you look at – and unfortunately for the Kelly story very few people have even tried to look at it, so blinded are they by their unfounded hate for the man – Fitzpatrick was treated disgracefully by all sides. The redemption of Fitzpatrick started by Stuart Dawson, continues.

13 comments:

  1. Dee, you wrote above that "Standish wrote to Sydney requesting [Fitzpatrick] be sent back to Victoria because 'he has evidently mixed himself up in a matter calculated to raise grave suspicions of his honesty. He is I fear a useless and worthless young man'." Having read that PROV file about Fitzpatrick's dismissal, the strong impression from the correspondence is that Fitzpatrick embroiling himself in some kind of unclear affair in Sydney was taken by Standish as "calculated" to bring the Victoria Police into disrepute. Fitzpatrick's recall to Victoria seems to have been an action to eliminate what Standish percieved to be an interstate embarrassment to his force, far in excess of a reasonable response to Fitzpatrick being late for duty a few times and whatever the mysterious affair was. Standish seems to have done what most organisations do at the first hint of embarrassment, and discipline the person involved rather than properly investigate any alleged matters by due process. This is what Fitzpatrick's main complaint to the Royal Commission about his dismissal seems to be, that he was not given any chance to give his side of the story. The fact that he stuck to his story much later in life (in Cookson 1911) further suggests that he was wrongly done by.

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  2. Hi Ian, the other day you raised three interesting points: first, that Fitzpatrick’s going to the Kelly home alone to arrest Dan Kelly for horse theft showed courage; second, the question of whether it was remiss, in that he knew warrants were out for Ned as well as Dan, and therefore might or should have suspected that he could potentially be outnumbered; and third, whether his visit was an “undisciplined miscalculation” in some way.

    On the first one, Fitzpatrick was confident before he went that Dan would not resist arrest, and considered that he was quite capable of taking him away if he did resist. Dan consented as expected, including telling his mother to ‘shut up” when she objected (Fitzpatrick, Benalla deposition, VPRS 4966 Unit 1 Item 4; cf. RC Q12822). Ned also said later that Dan had consented to be arrested (Age, 9 August 1880, 3). Additionally, Fitzpatrick believed that Ned would not be home as the police were then searching for him on a warrant related to an ongoing horse-stealing investigation (RC Q12819-20). So I think we can say that Fitzpatrick did consider these possibilities, and did not go there naively. We know that on a previous occasion Dan had surrendered himself to Fitzpatrick and, considering that Fitzpatrick believed Ned would be away, he had no reason to think Dan would offer resistance. Further, the time when Dan had previously surrendered to Fitzpatrick it was at Ned’s instigation. Based on that fact, there is a further reason for him to think that even if Ned had been home, the arrest would not have been interfered with by Ned. On that basis it seems reasonable to suggest that his visit to arrest Dan was not remiss, but reasonably considered, and displayed a level of courage that could reasonably be expected of a constable conducting his duty. Many constables of that time made arrests single-handedly, and there were quite a number of one-man police stations when constables acted alone of necessity. There is no evidence that I know of to suggest that Fitzpatrick lacked courage in the performance of his duties, and there is nothing on his police record of service to suggest that ever occurred.

    On the third question, whether it is fair to suggest that Fitzpatrick’s visit was an “undisciplined miscalculation”, I want to separate the “undisciplined” from the “miscalculation”. It certainly turned out to be a miscalculation, but we know his superior, Sgt Whelan, agreed with Fitzpatrick’s intention to arrest Dan en route to Greta, despite some misgivings about his personal safety, and said nothing to oppose it. He advised Fitzpatrick only to be careful, as the Kellys were thought dangerous and likely to resist (Fitzpatrick, RC Q12817-8, Q12837-41, Q12847, Q12850; Whelan, RC Q5950). As I showed in my “Redeeming Fitzpatrick” article, the arrest attempt was clearly known and sanctioned, and no order or regulation was breached in the process. So nothing suggests that his visit was undisciplined, and indeed, the Royal Commission Second Progress Report p. x RC2, x, found no breach of duty, though it said that his visit was “unfortunate in its consequences”.

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  3. (Continued from last paragraph.)
    With this in mind, it is possible to see Fitzpatrick’s statement under cross-examination at Benalla, that he “had no instructions to go to Kellys [and] was acting perhaps as an amateur constable on the occasion”, not as some confession of irresponsible or unsanctioned behaviour, but straightforward testimony that he was not specifically ordered to go to the Kellys to arrest Dan, but did so on his own initiative. This is directly compatible with Whelan’s testimony that the visit was known and sanctioned, regardless that it was not directly ordered. It did not set Whelan against Fitzpatrick, and no black mark was made in his record of service. The reason his visit turned out to be a miscalculation is revealed in O&M, 10 October 1878, 4: “The arrest [of Dan] would have involved serious consequences to [Ned Kelly] and others”, specifically the break-up of the Kelly’s horse-stealing gang linked to the Baumgarten case. The police were closing on the gang, but had not yet certainly identified Ned under the alias of Thompson as a key figure. As more interest focuses on the Baumgarten business, I think attention will shift further towards that as the central background of the Kelly outbreak, as Morrissey’s first book (Ned Kelly: A Lawless Life) made clear.

    So as time goes on and the Fitzpatrick incident is re-examined from a new perspective that his testimony adds up, as I proposed, what is interesting is that revisiting the historical records finds more and more that corroborates the perspective I put forward and is directly compatible with it, and less that supports the long-held "bad Fitzpatrick" view beloved of old-generation Kelly buffs.

    I have just got hold of a library copy of Trudy Toohill's 2015 book, "The Reporting of Ned Kelly & the Kelly Gang". It is a collection of newspaper articles about the gang in their day. The back cover makes the point that "Today, Australia's bushranging history is often 'romanticised' and Ned Kelly is considered one of Australia's greatest folk heroes. However at the time, the media painted him in a very different light." While the articles in it are all from Trove, it is very interesting flicking through them in a compact compilation to see how the gang were seen back then. Anyone short of a quid can at least check it out in a library.

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    1. Thanks a lot Stuart for examining my earlier comment. But FitzPatrick certainly underestimated his reception at the Kelly homestead. There were armed men there. Ellen Kelly bashed him over the head. Ned shot him. FitzPatrick was very lucky to get out alive.

      I will go back and re-read your excellent paper on this subject. I will be surprised if FitzPatrick accurately predicted what might happen to him to Sgt. Whelan. I stick meanwhile with my “undisciplined miscalculation” scenario.

      What we are all after is why FitzPatrick got stiffed by Police Command later despite petitions from most of Lancefield's most prominent residents.

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    2. Hi Ian, yes Fitzpatrick certainly vastly underestimated the situation at the Kelly home; as you say, there were armed men there (which I temporarily forgot about in my note above) - these included Joe Byrne who Fitzpatrick mistook for Skillion at the time of the attack. He walked into the thick of a horse stealing gang, not just a home visit as he expected. It seems like Mrs Kelly initiated and led the attack on Fitzpatrick, which he undoubtedly would not have expected. So yes, totally agree that Fitzpatrick was miles off in predicting what might happen when he went single handed to collect Dan on the way to Greta police station.

      Then we have the great time distance between that incident on 15 April 1878, then the fact that Fitzpatrick was marked on his record of service as "an efficient constable" a few months later, then the fact hat he was out with search parties for about 4 months before being sent to NSW to watch the trains for the Kelly gang (shown in the Muster Rolls). So he was actively doing his job properly right through to Feb 1879.

      For me, that's what kills of the conspiracy theories about his being set up as a fall guy back in April, and also kills off the idea that there were any thoughts of getting rid of him before his transfer to NSW on special duties. If there had been any such intentions he could have been gotten rid of after the Beechworth trial and convictions of Mrs Kelly and associates. Even if he was no longer in the force, he could have been summoned as a witness to give sworn testimony if any of the gang had been caught and sent to trial after his dismissal, if he potentially had relevant evidence to give.

      So again, I have doubts that higher command had anything against him, apart from Standish's moral objection to his early refusal to get married (which he did at Standish's assistance). But nothing suggests that Standish or anyone else in senior ranks had anything against him on police duty grounds before he was sent to NSW.

      Some police turned on him - Mayes being the classic example - who blamed him for what they saw as triggering the Kelly outbreak. Putting him under Mayes, who felt that way from ten start, and was further hostile to him re whatever happened in NSW that resulted in his transfer back to Victoria, was certain to end badly as Mayes was a notorious disciplinarian, and not just to Fitzpatrick as his comments that I collected in my article show.

      So I suspect that the decision to get rid of him is due to early personal dislike (for things nothing to do with his duty), combined with what was taken as bringing Victoria Police into disrepute over his NSW posting. He was a dead duck from the time his dismissal was decided, and that's why the Lancefield petitions were disregarded.

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    3. Hi Ian continued -
      What the petitions to reinstate him show us later enquirers is that he was shamefully treated by his superiors, who were too quick to believe gossip and rumours. Also, the force was undoubtedly embarrassed by the press coverage about him which the Kellys and their various lawyers had managed to manipulate by publicising factually incorrect pro-Kelly false tales about the April incident, accusations of drinking and perjury, etc.

      So I think that regardless that he seems to have done his duty well at Lancefield - hence the petitions - he had become an embarrassment perhaps largely because of the false tales spread about him in Victoria, and some doubts about what he did in NSW, and was dismissed as the fall guy regardless of his competence and efficiency at Lancefield. Mayes said he was out to get Fitzpatrick from the start, so maybe that is the place to be looking for the move to get rid of him. But there is nothing to suggest that anyone high up had anything against him as regards his policing work from his first posting to the north east in 1877 to his transfer to NSW in February 1879. Throughout that entire time there is nothing against him that anyone has found except unhistorical Kelly myth.

      One of the biggest finds was Dee's recent publicity of his death certificate that showed that he did not die of cirrhosis from alcoholism. There was no cirrhosis, it is all a myth. Until a few weeks ago I too had accepted that he died of drink-related problems, and assumed that his life had gone downhill and turned to drink after his dismissal and erratic work as a travelling salesman. Nom that all goes up in smoke. He had a stable marriage with kids. He apparently held down long term work as a travelling salesman. Cookson interviewed him in his apparently comfortable home in Hawthorn, not at all giving then impression of a failing drunk. So the whole post-force life of Fitzpatrick is now up for review. How much of that too is simplistic Kelly myths? We don't know until someone looks at it.

      I noticed that right near the end of Doug Morrissey's new book he says there were 2 Fitzpatricks of the same name Alexander, and that the man imprisoned for fraud was a different man from the ex-constable. I know this has been discussed before, and I too have long accepted that it was the same man, but held that that had nothing to do with the Kelly outbreak 16 years previous to that gaoling (which is obviously correct). But what if Morrisey is right? What if there were in fact 2 different men? Then the Kelly myth has to change again, and Fitzpatrick be further vindicated...

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    4. Hello Stuart,

      How are you?

      Just following up from your post above, that you could be of the opinion from your research that William Skillion may/may not have been present at the time of the fracas with Mr A. FitzPatrick at the Kelly home in April 1878?

      Regards,

      B.T. and T. Ryan

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    5. Hi B.T. and T., yes, what I got from it was that Fitzpatrick spoke to Skillion at the Kelly's fence before the incident, and that this was later corroborated in Williamson's prison statement. Fitzpatrick saw Skillion again a bit later, riding past the house at dusk. During the fracas shortly after dusk, Byrne came to Ned's side at the door and was mistaken as Skillion by Fitzpatrick. This is set out with the evidence for the misidentification on pages 76 to 79 of my "Redeeming Fitzpatrick" article. The corroborative references from Williamson are also given there, and the discussion continues for another page or so after that. I hope that answers it as best I can, Regards, Stuart.

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    6. Hello Stuart,

      And thank-you for giving us, also, a good reason to re-read your ‘Redeeming Fitzpatrick’ paper.
      Having recently read another widely published author on the Ned Kelly events, where the verse progresses along the lines of not putting Skillion any where near the Kelly house at all on the early evening in question, and the wide variety of interesting posts on Mr Alexander Fitzpatrick of late, it has been good for us to get back to what we consider to be a notable reminder:
      The mis-identification, by Mr Alexander Fitzpatrick, please correct if we are astray here, of the Kelly associate at the doorway of the Kelly home on the early evening of 16.4.1878, standing next to Mr Edward Kelly, both fellows with weapons, is a reminder of why so many regard this fracas, (not saying Constable Alexander didn’t have a right to be there, Dee), with quite significance.
      A reminder that it had significant consequences across a number of sides of the ledger, soon after the event, a few years later, and in the longer term.
      Thanks Stuart. You break down the events in this paper very well. And you seem willing to update as new information arises.
      B. T and T, Ryan

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  4. ANNOUNCEMENT
    I have been receiving increasing numbers of Comments for posting which are from anonymous and other people with actual names in regard to discussions going on at a Facebook place nicknamed the Hate site and the Hate-book site. The comments are from people who support and from people who oppose the discussions and the people who post there. The people who regularly post to and inhabit that site are notoriously rude, disrespectful and abusive.

    I have decided that ANY post that refers to ANY of those people, or indeed the Hatesite itself in any way , or the discussions they might be having there, will NO LONGER be posted here. I dont care how good the point is you are making if it refers to that place or those people I will NOT post it. If you want to attack them or argue with them go there and do it. This Blog is not a proxy site for discussions about the rubbish and odious abusive postings that are almost all that ever appears at that site, and from now on I think the best way to deal with these ignorant morons is to ignore them entirely.

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  5. Great news about Fitzpatrick for those who don't like him much! I was just sent a Trove link to the Argus, 28 August 1883, p. 10, which has the following short article: "POLICE INTELLIGENCE. At the Flemington Court yesterday, before Messrs Davis Swan Wilson, Puckle, Parsons, and Bellair, ex constable Fitzpatrick, of "Kelly gang" notoriety, was charged with making use of obscene language and smashing a window in the Lincolnshire Arms, at Essendon on the 17th of June last. From the evidence it appears that the defendant and another entered the hotel and had drinks for which they refused to pay; they then made use of obscene language, and the defendant smashed a window. The Bench inflicted fines amounting to 27s 6d, with 3s 6d damages cost of window."

    So three years after his dismissal from the police force he had a very bad night out. I always thought he went through a bit of a rough patch, which I think makes it more likely that he was the same Fitzpatrick who was gaoled later for passing dud cheques. I suspect that a review of the case, that it was the same man, will find out that this is right. Still, it remains true that there is nothing about him being drunk while still in the police force, as far as I know. Even his negative reports from Sydney don't say drunkenness was an issue there. It would be good to find out if this is correct, so we would have a fuller picture (excuse the pun). But so far no evidence about him being drunk while still in the force, and that is the only issue relevant to the Kelly outbreak which started this discussion.

    We have the evidence of two separate petitions from the Lancefield area, the second led by Alfred Deakin, endorsing his character and efficiency from people who had seen him on duty for months there. All this adds weight to my previous suspicion that he went downhill after his dismissal. He appears to have put his life back together at some point after the gaol episode, assuming that that was the same Fitzpatrick as seems to be the case from what I found so far. So the mystery continues about his life after the police force, for what it's worth.

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    1. Theres more to this story Stuart. Heres a report from The Argus from a month before the one you quote thats interesting : ( From 1883 Argus July 24th page 5)

      "At the Flemington Court on Monday, before Messrs Filson (chairman), Parsons, Bellair, Puckle, and McLean JPs, William Burke was charged with using obscene language in a public place. Mr Cutts, licensee of the Lincolnshire Arms, Essendon stated the defendant came to his house on the 17th July, had drinks, and then became very violent, breaking a window and kicking a door in. Mrs Cutts gave corroborative evidence. The defendant stated that a man named Fitzpatrick had done all the mischief while he himself was perfectly innocent. The Bench inflicted a fine of 10s with 2s 6d costs"

      So it seems the publican and his wife both identified Burke as the culprit but he denied it and said it was all Fitzpatricks fault. And yet, Burke was fined, as was Fitzpatrick the following month. Its a shame the Court report doesn't say exactly what Fitzpatricks plea was, or what his explanation of what happened was. Why

      Interestingly, no charges related to being drunk in a public place or anything like that - so what does that mean?

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    2. Hi Dee, it sounds like the bench held Burke responsible for some of the misbehaviour, but not the bulk of it, as Fitzpatrick was hauled in and fined much more severely the following month, including for the damage to the window. Bad Fitzpatrick, very very bad!

      Delete

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.


2. Do you want to provide an active Link in your Comment? The simplest way that I can suggest is to click HEREand follow the simple instructions. This site creates the Tag that you then copy and insert into your Comment.