Monday 5 January 2015

Morrisseys Brilliant PhD Thesis : A Commentary

You might remember that I wrote in my most recent Post “Ned Kelly : Stock Thief” that you wouldn’t find references to Ian Jones books in Doug Morrisseys PhD thesis, because the Jones books weren't  written till 5 or more years after the PhD thesis was. But then I wondered, would I find references to Morrisseys PhD thesis in Ian Jones books?  Surely, I thought, such a  rare and rigorous piece of  scholarship, an impartial insight and perspective on the world of the Kelly Gang would have been an important resource for anyone attempting to document the entire Kelly story, as Jones was clearly setting out to do?

Now, Ive complained  before about the unhelpful way Jones has listed his sources, as footnotes to each chapter  of  “A short Life” but without an alphabetical Bibliography. This means that to find out if and where he may have consulted Morrissey one has to laboriously trawl through 25 pages of tiny closely spaced notes looking for any mention of his name – and to my surprise, the only thing I could find was a single reference to the article from the Victorian Historical Journal of 1995, but nothing about the PhD Thesis. 

In the Notes to Chapter One Jones appears to name the Morrissey article as the source of his statements about acquaintances of the Kellys from Wallan moving to the north east to settle near Benalla. Ominously, he doesn't follow this citation with a bracketed "hereafter.." to imply later uses of this citation - as for example he wrote for the next citation: "Minutes of Evidence taken before Royal Commission on the Police force  of Victoria 1881 (hereafter Commission)" so we are left to ponder why it is that from an authoritative article about Kelly criminality, the only information Jones finds worth referring to is an irrelevant piece of trivia. It reminds me of the scene in the Monty Python film "The Life of Brian" when several heavily armed and uniformed Romans enter a tiny house looking for Brian  - who along with several of his rebel supporters are "hiding" inside by crouching down and pretending to be furniture  among other hopeless attempts to conceal themselves - and the Centurions  emerge saying yes they found something, a spoon!

However I couldn’t find reference to the Thesis anywhere, in two such searches. Its possible I may have missed it – if I have, I expect Sharon will let me know pretty soon, and that would be fine -  but it would seem Jones either wasn’t aware of this Thesis when he wrote the book in the early 1990’s, or else he deliberately chose to ignore it. Lets give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he hadn’t heard of it. 

But what are we to make of the fact that in 2003, when he revised and republished “ A Short Life” it still isn’t mentioned ?  By then, Morrissey’s work had certainly been known about in the Kelly world – its mentioned for example by Alex McDermott in his commentary to The Jerilderie Letter published in 2001. But in the Preface to the second Edition, dated March 2003 Jones writes “its encouraging that, since 1995, nothing has emerged to demand any significant change to the portrait I then presented” Nothing! He lists and thanks innumerable people who assisted him with the second Edition, naming people I recognize from the Ned Kelly Forum, from the Iron Outlaw site, even people who contributed to my own Forums earlier in 2014, but yet again there is no mention of Morrisseys Thesis.  He did however have time for and list “Ned Kelly died for our sins” a work I admit to not having read yet, but which somehow I suspect hasn’t a great deal to contribute. Its hard to imagine these omissions, these glaring omissions are from ignorance, but when the book is revised a third time, in 2008, it becomes impossible.

I can only conclude that Ian Jones deliberately chose to ignore Doug Morrisseys landmark research into Kelly history and culture – and it can only be for one reason : it didn’t match the story Ian Jones wanted to tell. In fact it turned it on its head, but after decades of Kelly “sympathy” Jones wasn’t for turning. Neither was he about to let the cat out of the bag, to let it be known such a work existed, even just to criticize it. 

My next thought was "Well why has NOBODY criticised it, why has no Kelly sympathiser been willing to front up to Morrisseys work and challenge it - I am assuming they don't agree with it of course - even though they have known about it for at least 20 years? Could it be they simply don't have an answer to it and so have developed a conspiracy of silence around Morrisseys “Inconvenient truth”? Are the Kelly devotees hiding stuff from us?"

And  after a little more searching about, I have to tell you, the answer is yes. And this is my evidence:

Well firstly there is the Jones book. Ian Jones clearly knows the Kelly literature intimately, and has an obvious burning passion for the Kelly story. I am sure he keeps his eyes peeled for every mention and contribution, no matter how small to the Kelly literature. I simply cannot believe he just missed seeing the Morrissey paper, that it slipped in under the radar. Its absence from his bibliographies is a telling omission that needs an explanation. I would guess he knows all about it but doesn't like it. In the same way I am sure he knows all about Ian MacFarlanes book, doesnt like - indeed, hates it -  and advises anyone who will listen, such as Peter Fitzsimons to ignore it, as he himself did with Morrisseys. Not a good look.

Next, I looked at the other popular sources of Kelly information, namely books and the Web. I used the “Search” feature on the Ned Kelly Forum for “Morrissey”. They recently boasted a million hits, but Morrissey didn’t come up once. However, I did come across a post that provided links to two online articles from the Victorian Historical Journal. One of the links was to the Morrissey article I wrote about previously, “Ned Kelly and Horse and cattle Stealing” and the other, from 2004 was entitled “From Eureka to Ned Kelly: A Police force out of step with Society” The only indication that anyone read these articles came from a single response, an NKF member commenting on the negative article about the Police force: they love to read anything negative about the Police! – but regarding the Horse and Cattle stealing article : an embarrassing silence!

I used the “Search” feature on the worlds greatest Kelly website, one that’s been going for more than a decade, and boasts 8.5 million "hits" annualy: ONE hit – a mention, an aside really in a long article about the Jerilderie Letter; certainly no discussion about it. Remember months ago I reviewed the blurb for the Iron outlaw Brad Webbs i-Book "Ned Kelly"? If you read that blurb again now, the massive hole in the story left by taking out all reference to horse stealing and the Kelly criminality leaps out.Its a glaring omission.

I did a search on my Kindle copy of Peter Fitzsimons 2013 biography of Ned Kelly: not one mention – and, by the way not one mention of another landmark publication, The Kelly Gang Unmasked. We know that Ian Jones warned Peter Fitzsimons not to read or reference the Kelly Gang Unmasked , saying that he hated it– I wonder if he warned him off Morrisseys article too? Two very curious omissions indeed.

I checked the Bibliography of McMenomys Ned Kelly (1984): the PhD thesis isnt mentioned, but “Ned Kelly Sympathisers” by Doug Morrissey, 1978 is listed.

I checked the Bibliography of Ian Shaws “Glenrowan” : the PhD thesis isn’t mentioned but  “Ned Kellys World” 1984 by Doug Morrissey is listed.

Its listed in The Kelly Gang Unmasked – of course!

And finally, to my great delight,  and perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised but when I searched “11 Mile Creek” I discovered Brian Stevenson had written a wonderful 5 part review of the entire thesis! The first part was Posted in 2010 and the last in 2012.  It attracted a couple of Comments from Sharon, a couple from our dear friend Anonymous who wondered why the huge rewards posted for the Gang were never  claimed by the ordinary folk of Kelly Country, and there was a Comment from "Lisa" who rubbished Morrisseys work claiming it was based on reading a couple of newspaper articles from the time! Other than that, not a word of challenge or dispute.

I suggest everyone go to the site and enter “Morrissey” into the search box top left of the Eleven Mile Creek Home page, and you will be able to read his commentary for yourselves. What a pity the document itself hasn’t been published somewhere so we can all read the original document as well - its a document of rare quality and importance in the vast largely uncritical chaos of Kellyana, that nobody should ignore. For the time being though, we have Brian Stevenson to thank for making the effort to get a copy and post a really useful discussion about it. 

So what are we to make of the way in which this significant and insightful document has been responded to by the Kelly sympathizers?  The Morrissey Thesis rests like a massive unexploded bomb in the engine-room of the kelly sympathisers steamboat -  what they have done is pretend it doesn’t exist, ignore it, try not to draw anyones attention to it, and tiptoe about it hoping it won't go off and sink the ship.  Any of them who may have read it, or even the essays derived from it like the one I have been reviewing will have realized the devastating impact knowledge of this analysis inevitably will have on such a large part of the Kelly myths, particularly the one about the Kellys being more or less innocent victims of a corrupt Police force – it more or less destroys that fantasy completely!

And they know it – which is why they refuse to  discuss it, just like they dont discuss the fact they know Ned Kelly lied about his  participation in the Fitzpatrick incident, and just like they know his claim to have fired once and killed Lonigan is wrong. The dominant theme of criminality and the centrality of industrial scale stock theft in the Kelly story is just one more of the many truths Kelly fanatics  don’t want anyone else to know about, but which will no longer be dirty little sympathizer secrets. The truth is definitely coming out.


  1. And they know it – which is why they refuse to discuss it, just like they dont discuss the fact they know Ned Kelly lied about his participation in the Fitzpatrick incident, and
    just like they know his claim to have fired once and killed Lonigan is wrong. (Not true)

    Rufuse to discuss it? Perhaps Dee you would like to continue the discussion on the shooting of Lonigan? Re - The SBC Debate.

  2. You’ve highlighted one of the limitations of this format when it comes to discussions, because they tend to get left behind and forgotten about. I am still working on a solution. But I shall add a comment at the October post: “Inconvenient Truths about SBC” and see where it goes. Theres also been a recent discussion about Red Kellys origins way back in June, in my Post “Like Father Like Son” that readers might like to comment on as well.

  3. ...and one other thing - it would help if you gave yourself an actual name, ( a made up one is fine! ) and stuck to it so we can distinguish the comments of one “anonymous" from another.

  4. Authors can't be blamed for missing unpublished manuscripts and theses. No lists of these are published. In the case of Morrissey, once his articles were published, his research became publicly available. Authors worth their salt would have hurried to his PhD thesis, which Jones, Fitzsimons, and others, failed to do. Their works ultimately will be judged for what seem to be gross omissions.

  5. Another is The Case for James Whitty by author unknown.
    It was given to me about ten years ago and paints an interesting picture
    where you will have to agree Ned Kelly was not the only horse thief ! They were all as bad as each other.

    1. Hi Bill
      thanks for that Link to a very interesting article. I think its showing something I have been thinking myself recently, which is that its a mistake to assume that Neds version of things is necessarily the truth about it. What we are learning is that his version is the one that best paints the picture he wants us to believe in, but the word of a psychopath cannot be trusted.

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  7. Incredibly, not even a week has passed and my prediction about what the Kelly fanatics will be up to this year has been proven correct. Here we have a Post about ground breaking research, but the only response from some of these Kelly fanatics - “Caught out” and “Dan” - is to attack me, tell lies about me and my participation on Kelly websites, claim that i was “shot down in flames” and that I defamed people, that someone else writes my Posts for me and declare that “legal proceedings may now take place for all the defamation and threats here and on Forum Jar”

    I am not surprised at this latest outburst of yet more baseless and wildly inaccurate nonsense from them - its what I predicted and its because they can see the threat that the ever strengthening presence of this Blog is to the continuation of their pet fantasies. Kelly fanatics have had everything their way for long enough : now the tide is turning and they can see it! They’re desperate as todays now deleted Posts demonstrated.

    They are very welcome to pursue their “legal proceedings” - indeed I dare them to go ahead, but I make a further prediction : their threats are empty and they won’t. But, if I am wrong in that and they do make good on their stupid threat to begin Legal Proceedings for their claimed "defamation and threats here and on Forumjar” they will only succeed in embarrassing themselves, wasting their money and losing. Take my advice : go away and don’t drag the reputation of kelly sympathisers deeper into the sewer than it already is.

    And now, Ive wasted enough time already on these losers - on with the show! I have a book review to finish!

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  9. If it is just lies Dee, then leave it up for people to judge for themselves. Ah, but that's right, apart from Bill who you are now deriding, you only have about two loyal followers, the rest are all fake.

  10. “Caught out” reposted his lies and thinks I should leave them up and is hoping that someone might get taken in by them: I suggest he posts them on his own Blog if he wants but thats not what this Blog is here for, to provide an outlet for his garbage. As for how many "followers" I might have, I don’t really care - what I am interested in is exposing the rubbish that passes for Kelly history, the morons and the tactics of people like “caught out" who promote and defend it, and a place for people with an open mind to discuss it all. And thats all happening very nicely.

    As for “deriding" Bill, that has never happened ; I like Bill - he has his own opinions and viewpoints and he promotes and defends them with openness and integrity.

    As I said, go away “caught out” Go see your Lawyer and get on with your planned “legal proceeding”. I am warning you though, if you do you will lose your money and be exposed as a fool and a loser, but if you don’t go ahead - which is what I expect - you’ll have proven to everyone you’re a gutless windbag, which is what everyone already suspects. Good Luck!

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  12. For the third time I have deleted the same post. The Kelly devotee posting this mad rant now calls me a witch. Its hard to understand why he doesn’t realise that attacking me won’t alter any of the facts about Ned Kellys lies, his life as a stock thief, the illumination brought by Morrisseys thesis, the nonsensical claims that Kelly was Australias Robin Hood, the cover-up over the Fitzpatrick affair, or any other single fact that is contained on this Blog, yet on and on he goes. When will oner Kelly sympathisers wake up to the damage he is doing to their cause and tell him to shut the frock up. Still waiting to hear from your Lawyer, windbag.

  13. I agree with Caught Out. This is not the place for an open discussion.

  14. On the contrary, this IS a place for open discussion - about the Kelly mythology. But attacking, abusing and lying about ME, or anyone else is NOT what this Blog is about and if thats what you want to do, go start your own Blog or sneak off to your secret NKF back room and do all your gossiping and character assassinations there.

  15. I have not abused nor attacked you in any way. Nor intend too. In this instance it is you who is attacking me.
    I have no association with the NKF.
    However it is obvious that currently this is not the place to discuss things. More a place to promote certain set opinions.

  16. With respect, you wrote “I agree with Caught Out” so presumably you read and agree with what he wrote, but there was nothing in it about wanting to discuss issues other than my identity. Did you agree with his attacks on me, his obsession with identifying me, his labelling me a witch, as a dumb pest,as someone who “kept publically defaming people" I have already made it abundantly clear on numerous occasions that my identity is none of anyones business, and has no implication for any argument about the kelly mythology that anyone wants to make. Its not up for discussion, anymore than yours is. Our identities are unimportant - our arguments and our methods are.

    But yes, you are right, this IS a place to promote set opinions and they are all mine, unashamedly, but I put them up for anyone to challenge, criticise, support or disagree with, however they feel. I tried to do this with forums that people like “Caught out” deliberately destroyed - and yet many interesting and open discussions occurred there with contributions from all sides.

    I am up for open debate - its the Kelly fanatics who are not, and instead resort to the tactics of Caught Out. such as attacking people personally as above with his latest post attacking me, by banning people from their forums - as they did with me, - contrary to caught outs lying claim in his Post that I”sulked off” and of course by getting the entire Forum deleted.

    So you support his gossiping and character assassinations do you?

  17. I do not support character assassinations. However. You yourself do more than a fair share of openly assassinating opposing NK Forum sites and so called Kelly fanatics. I do not agree with this no matter what reasons are behind it.
    I did not have the opportunity to read all the deleted posts. But yes. Apart from Bill who you are now deriding, it would appear that you only have about two loyal followers, many of the rest are mostly all fake. If I am mistaken then I apologise,

    If you are up for an open debate, then let it be so. With an open mind.

  18. Can you explain what you mean by "deriding” Bill ? I don’t think I have ever done that.

    As far as “loyal followers” is concerned I am not trying to cultivate a “following” I am simply putting my ideas up for anyone who is interested, and the numbers are growing . I have no idea who anyone is, other than Bill, I think most names are “made up” but that doesn’t mean the people are not real or their opinions “fake” but as I keep saying, Identity is unimportant. If anyone choses to identify themselves thats their call not mine.

    But thank you for your input, I am not offended that you don’t agree with some of the things I write. I expect that. Feel free to state your case any time..

  19. I think it would be in the best interests for all concerned to move on. I also am not offended that you do not agree with all that I write.
    My concern is that enough myths and mistruths have already been created. By both well meaning people and those with their own agendas. No offence intended.

  20. You keep calling people who sympathise with Ned Kelly ' Kelly fanatics ' ,but aren't you (Dee) a Kelly fanatic yourself? What else would you call someone who has spent all this time posting on and creating blogs about Ned Kelly just to try and push your views about the man.
    I find it strange too that you accuse symapthisers of - not facing the 'truth' about Ned,deliberately avoiding articles and books that aren't ' pro Kelly' and so on,when YOU yourself do the exact same thing with regards to any information which is NOT negative about Ned Kelly,and you just straight out believe the word of anyone who has a negative opinion of him.

    This all seems very personal,and whether or not you are the author of the Macfarlane book or a relative of his,I have never before seen such a vendetta from any Kelly author (or his relatives and friends) either pro or anti Kelly caring THIS much about what people think about their book and views.You are not exposing anything except your dislike for Ned Kelly and anyone who supports him.

    People who symapthise with Ned Kelly and his gang always will,no matter what you or anyone has to say,that will not change.We have all read what you have read and more,you views will not convert anyone.

  21. OMG: We have had the immense misforune to meet up with 'Brendan' ('Brendon', 'Sarah', 'Alex' and others) before, in your SBC special debate, since removed by censors. He's always on about misidentifying the MacFarlanes. Never any pertinent contributions to discussion of your blogs, just errant nonsence and defamations about you and the MacFarlanes. Just get rid of the whacker. He hasn't made a single sensible, sober post about anything, anywhere. He is a tireless internet serial pest. He has form in the removal and deletion of other hundreds of other people's opinions (35 Forumjar and Proboards forums so far).

    Dee, you don't owe 'Brendan' ANYTHING. He wants to shut down Kelly criticism and discussion at any cost..His pretended concern for justice is just a pretence. Get rid of him. He has contributed nothing except rants against you and the MacFarlanes. A tireless, obsessional internet serial pest.

  22. Wayne, I must admit when I saw that name I also was reminded of events that had gone before. However, I didn’t censor him then and I don’t intend to do now, if for no other reason than I don’t really know who this Brendon is or who the previous ones were either. But there are other reasons : basically I believe in the right of anyone to have an opinion and be free to express it. But there are limits and yesterday they were crossed , and I deleted a few posts by Caught Out and Dan.

    I agree that Brendans comment contributes very little, but actually there are a couple of points in there that I am going to comment on in my next Post.

  23. Perhaps Dee you would like to continue the discussion on the shooting of Lonigan?

  24. Of course I would ! Ive been busy thats all, and have to do some reading before I can answer your question- if it was yours - about Lonigans body being moved. Perhaps you could explain how that question relates to an understanding of how he received the left thigh wound, which is the most problematic one in the “one shot” hypothesis.

  25. This above webpage now has access to all 19 pages by the unknown author.

    As before said, the document was given to me about ten years ago and paints an interesting picture where we can read Ned Kelly was not the only horse thief ! The whole lot, Quinn, Kelly, King, Lloyd, Whitty, the Byrnes' and Farrells' were all as bad as each other when it came to dealing in stray or stolen livestock. They were all beneficiaries of their own antics.

    I'm sure Doug Morrisseys PhD thesis being discussed was well researched, but there remains the old thorny question, what were 'his' religious affiliation and on which side of the fence was he born.


    " that Whitty, along with the Byrne family, had taken all the best land in the King Valley and, not content with that were greedily impounding stock that happened to stray from the paddocks of "poor" owners."
    and that
    " Constable Thomas Farrell, brother to James Whitty's son-in-law, John Farrell, stole a horse from Ned's father-in-law, George King, and kept it in one of Whitty's or Farrell's paddocks until he left the police force."


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.