Thursday 27 October 2016

Myth Busting Art Exhibition

Here, as promised is the other Contribution Ive recently received from a Blog Reader. It was sent as an Anonymous Comment but I decided to make it into a new Post. As yet I haven’t received any further details regarding the exact Venue or dates so I am hoping when this Contributor knows them he or she will let us all know.

Dear Death of the Kelly Legend blog, 

In response to a recent comment about George Metcalf on your blog, your readers might like to know that a Melbourne art gallery is planning an exhibition of 20 works by several artists critical of Ned Kelly and his gang, in early to mid-December. 

I have attached a promotional photograph of one of the works, “First Class Peanut – Ned Kelly shoots George Metcalf”, for your interest. 

Exhibition details will be announced once dates and opening hours are finalised, but it is not expected to run for more than six days, including a weekend.

The Public Records Office Victoria website, under 
“Whats’ On : 
    Ned Kelly
             /The Police Case”
gives the story of Ned Kelly’s accidental shooting of quarryman George Metcalf as follows:

Another Glenrowan Casualty Identified
Hidden among the documents in the Kelly collection are details of an unexplored incident at Glenrowan.
When considered in relation to the deadly, one-sided gunfight at Stringybark Creek (where three policemen were shot and killed), and the equally deadly and foolish plan at Glenrowan (where innocent hostages, including children, were killed), this incident magnifies the idea that the Kelly Gang was rather careless and accident-prone.

A detective’s report spells out the case: 

‘Ned Kelly before daylight on that Sunday morning [27 June 1880] called out a contractor named Adolphus Piuzzi from his tent near the railway line and that Piuzzi attempted to use his gun when Kelly fired at him and very nearly shot him. And afterwards, later in the day, when [George] Metcalf was bailed up outside the Station Master’s house, Kelly was fiddling with this gun of Piuzzi’s when it exploded striking Metcalf in the face. The blood came from his face and Mr. Stanistreet’s son got him water to wash it off.
‘And Kelly then said, “I did not mean to fire, it went off accidentally”‘, the detective report concluded.

But there is a remarkable twist in the account. It seems that Metcalf, before he died a few months later from the eye wound, made up a story that he had hidden in a chimney and that a shot fired by police had bounced off the bricks striking him. It looked as if he wanted to get compensation from the government.

Unfortunately for him, several witnesses saw him being shot by Ned Kelly. A manslaughter charge against the outlaw could, and probably should, have been drafted. Certainly, Metcalf can now be safely added to the outlaw’s death tally.
Sources: Louis Waller, “Regina v. Edward Kelly” in Colin Cave (ed) Ned Kelly: Man and Myth, (Melbourne: Cassell Australia, 1968).

Again, I hope your readers may find this little-known Kelly story of interest.


  1. I looked at that PROV page but the source of the Metcalf report is not Louis Waller, as I can’t find it in his ‘Man and Myth’ chapter. Waller is the source for the text on the top half of that page, but not for the second part about Metcalf, so it must have come from somewhere else. But I have found the actual documents it refers to.

    The evidence about Metcalf being shot by Ned while “fiddling” with Piazzi’s gun is in a report by Detective Eason (VPRS 4967 Unit 3 Item 60, pp. 241-2 of the very big PDF file). That report belongs with a memo by Supt. Sadlier of 26 July 1880, on pp. 173-5 of the file, from which it has become separated, where Sadlier says that Eason’s report as regards Metcalf’s injuries “can be supported by several witnesses and disposes of any claim that he may make for compensation” (p. 175).

    1. I have transcribed the bits about Metcalf from the two police reports.

      First, the Report of Det. Eason re Metcalf: “I see that a man named George Metcalf now an inmate of the Eye and Ear Hospital Melbourne from injuries received to his eye on this occasion has made a statement to the effect that when a prisoner of the Kellys in Jones’ hotel and sheltered in the chimney he was injured from a bullet fired from the outside striking the brickwork which struck him in the eye. Now I find that Ned Kelly before daylight on the Sunday morning called out a contractor named Adolphus Piazzi from his tent near the railway line and that Piazzi attempted to use his gun when Kelly fired at him and very nearly shot him and afterwards later in the day when Metcalf was bailed up outside the Station Master’s house Kelly was fiddling with this gun of Piazzi’s when it exploded striking Metcalf in the face, the blood came from his face and Mr. Stanistreet’s son got him water to wash it off, and Kelly then said, “I did not mean to fire, it went off accidentally”, and now whatever object Metcalf may have in asserting that he was wounded when inside Jones’ hotel by a shot fired from the outside this account of the cause is the correct one. A. Eason.”

      Second, Supt. Sadlier’s Memo, 26 July 1880: “The information furnished by Det. Eason as regards the injuries suffered by George Metcalf can be supported by several witnesses and disposes of any claim that he may make for compensation on the grounds of being shot by the police.”

  2. These two reports demolish the old myth that Metcalf was injured by a police bullet ricocheting off the chimney in Jones’ Inn during the Glenrowan siege, which was based on the fact that Metcalf got his medical bills and accommodation in Melbourne paid for by the police. Max Brown in his book ‘Australian Son’, wrote that “George Metcalf lay in the parlour, a bullet through the eye” (1980: 174). Brown also ranted about “the wanton killing of Johnny Jones, Jane Jones, George Metcalf and Martin Cherry” by the police during the siege (p. 194). Brown, who died in 2003, could not overcome his bias despite the story being shown false by the evidence, and repeated it in his late life revision of ‘Australian Son’, posthumously published in 2005 (pp. 202 and 226). Ah, well….

  3. Be interesting to see if the exhibition is picketed by the Kelly faithful.

  4. Public Record Office Victoria is currently publishing one of the most error-filled accounts of the Kelly Legend I have ever read:

    It is associated with another of PROV's dumb exhibitions at the Old Treasury Building.

    I can't be bothered listing all the bizarre, absurd mistakes.

    However this one about the Felons Apprehension Act really caught my attention:

    "The new act was used to round up a number of people suspected of sympathising with the Kelly Gang. Many Irish Catholics felt the police treated them unfairly and sympathised with the Kelly Gang. The police suspected many of them were withholding information about the Kelly Gang's whereabouts.
    The act is generally regarded as a failure, largely aggravating and increasing the support of the Kelly Gang by sympathisers due to the heavy-handed tactics of police".

    What abject, misleading nonsense. PROV has been the subject of many government inquiries over the years.

    Its time for another!

    My message to PROV is stop publishing rubbish.

    1. Just had a quick look Chris and I can see what you mean. And once again this mythology will be lapped up by the masses and consumed as the real story! Think I'll send them an email directing them to some of the most recent research.

    2. Hi Spudee, re my reply to David of 31 October below, regarding the Wild Colonial Boys exhibition at the Old Treasury Buildings, the OTB replied today to the issues I raised with them. They said, "In regards to the Fitzpatrick story, rather than ‘modifying’ text, we have just deleted a paragraph. No change has been made to the Armour label however. ... We have decided it is perhaps not appropriate to include your [Redeeming Fitzpatrick] article on the Layar, as we do not have any other scholarly articles included in this section. As I am sure you will understand, we do not want to portray bias, but I am happy to talk to you about this. And, in regards to the video [ABC clip], thank you for your suggestion. Again, after consulting with my manager, we are happy with the 1906 film. We are, in this section of the display, discussing ‘myth making’ (film, literature, etc) so it would be a little out of place to discuss the armour here. We are currently developing our website so perhaps we could include the film online – or at least reference to it."

      With my usual diplomatic finesse I replied, "There is one big problem with aiming to not want to portray bias in the Wild Colonial Boys exhibition, in that the Fitzpatrick Incident as presented through Ian Jones and others is totally biased towards what Ned Kelly said of it in the Euroa/Jerilderie Letters and elsewhere, and is demonstrably false. My Fitzpatrick article is the only piece of work in existence that questions that myth. It is written to be comprehensible to the average educated reader, who can simply ignore the footnotes and enjoy the factual story. I am somewhat surprised that OTB/ PROV would have any issues with presenting current readable, accurate scholarship!
      "The 1906 film does a good job of mythmaking, perpetuating the slur that Fitzpatrick violently assaulted Kate Kelly, a myth reviewed and demolished in my article. A myth that gives great pain to Fitzpatrick's descendants, as I discovered on a genealogy site. A myth that wrongly slurs the management of the colonial police that would condone such behaviour. A myth that perpetuates the historical lie that the Kelly outbreak was Fitzpatrick's fault...
      "Discussing the armour and its intended purpose is very much what should be done in the interests of education in that section of the exhibition. The suits were designed to massacre survivors from the derailed train. The 2 minutes of ABC 'Outlaw' footage with John McQuilton and Judith Douthie on the Glenrowan rail line make that abundantly clear. You cannot fail to see that the armour is the main part of the exhibition's attraction. The display is pandering to the pro-Kelly camp, and the signage as it was when I visited is not remotely neutral. If I were the police museum I would be seriously thinking of withdrawing it."

      If you know anyone with any contacts in the Police Museum, maybe they would pass on the suggestion. The armour may be on conditional loan, such as fair signage, which clearly it does not have, and other text is wildly inaccurate, as another reader here has noted. The response I received suggests that accurate presentation is not a priority, but pandering to visitor numbers is. (I love that book, 'How to lose friends and infuriate people".)

    3. Well done Stuart and kudos to you for at least getting a reply and some concessions from the OTB. Correcting the Kelly mythology is a bit like extracting teeth and perhaps in the long-term it will be a generational thing, with the truth eventually being told long after we have departed this mortal coil.

      I love the part of the OTB's response to you regarding bias, "As I am sure you will understand, we do not want to portray bias,..." and then they immediately offer lame defences as to why they are doing just that, particularly with regards to the notorious Fitzpatrick Incident. I personally believe that your paper on the incident needs wider and more prominent exposure. Afterall as you have pointed out, it is this very incident which underpins the basis of the Kelly story - that Ned did what he did because Fitzpatrick did what he did. Your paper nullifies the long accepted kernel of the widely and erroneously accepted justification for Kelly's later activities.

      I gather that the armour on display is on loan from the Vic Police Museum, is that the case?

    4. Yes, it's on loan from VPM. It would make no difference to tourists if it went back there immediately, as they could go and see it there. They might learn something about community service while they were at it. The problem with PROV research is that practically every book on the Kellys is written by Ian Jones or his devoted mates - just check the acknowledgement pages. When he gets anything wrong, e.g. Fitzpatrick, others follow unquestioningly. Baaaa-humbug.

  5. Metcalf took months to die from Ned's negligent 'accident' at Glenrowan. He died alone in hospital, and was unceremoniously buried next day.

    Ned, thanks to the present State government, was not finally placed in unconsecrated ground as a police murderer. He was thus absolved and got his final wish of a proper catholic burial.

  6. Ian Jones repeated the Metcalf myth in his ‘Short Life’ (1995: 250), claiming Metcalf’s “eye was injured when a bullet ricocheted from a chimney he was sheltering in”, during the siege. Page 284 says Piazzi “came up with a story that George Metcalf had been shot accidentally by Ned Kelly, not, as Metcalf himself claimed, by police fire.” Jones cited Eason’s report of Metcalf’s claim that he was struck by a ricocheted bullet as proof of its truth, and dismissed the very next sentence where Eason reported that his investigation revealed the injury occurred earlier, from Ned’s gun fiddling.

    Worse, Jones’ reference for the wounding of Metcalf (p. 380) reads, “Detective Report, quoting Metcalf, Eason to Sadlier”. Jones’ note is not correct. Eason does not quote Metcalf anywhere, but says that he saw that Metcalf had made a statement. Jones has wilfully misrepresented the evidence in the police report in his defence of Saint Ned. This required him to simultaneously ignore or dismiss Sadlier’s memo of 26 July, itself an official report, that “several witnesses” supported Piazzi’s statement. The result is blatant historical fabrication, which may reflect a wish to please a Metcalf descendant whom he thanks in a note (1995: 380) for prompting his ‘investigation’.

    Jones damned Piazzi with an “undue eagerness to say what the police wanted to hear”, that he thought may have been motivated by Piazzi’s claim for compensation for horses shot by the police (p. 284), forgetting (or ignoring) that Metcalf was the one seeking compensation based on a false claim. Jones again mangled the evidence in his note to the end of chapter 20, when he says that “Piazzi claims that Ned shot Metcalf”, again citing Eason. In his report, Eason never said that Piazzi made such a claim. What he reported was his findings that this is what occurred, findings which also involve Mr Stanistreet’s son, and probably one or both of the parents, and others, as Sadlier had satisfied himself that there were "several witnesses".

    The police paid Metcalf’s medical expenses and accommodation in Melbourne based on his claim, and Supt. Nicolson (Acting CCP) authorised payment of the last bill from his carer for retrospective accommodation costs after his death, despite having learned by then that the claim was fraudulent (VPRS 4967 Unit 2 Item 53). Jones bizarrely twisted that decent act backwards in his first note to chapter 21, to again imply that because the money was paid, the police must have caused the injury!

    Jones kept the Metcalf myth unchanged in his 2003 major revision (pp. 223 and 254). Reviewing the evidence above shows this is simply wrong. Students, please add labourer George Metcalf to Ned Kelly’s kill count when writing your ‘hero or villain’ essays next week.

  7. Witnesses to Ned Kelly shooting George Metcalf in the eye, in addition to Mr Stanistreet’s son who brought Metcalf water, included station master Stanistreet and railway worker James Reardon, both of whom are named on the second page of Detective Eason’s report. Jones’ ‘Short Life’ preface (2003: x) boasted that, “it is encouraging that, since 1995, nothing has emerged to demand any significant changes to the portrait I then presented”. [Shhh.… Don’t mention “Redeeming Fitzpatrick”, or the totally invisible republican movement.]

    It is his own work, rather than that of some of his critics, that is “marred by extreme selectivity, exaggeration, blatant omission, factual error and occasional fabrication” (2003: x). His extraordinary maltreatment of the police reports and witness evidence about Metcalf, so as to wrongly claim that Ned Kelly didn’t shoot Metcalf in the eye and to falsely blame the police instead, is a textbook model of the laughable and indeed poisonous historical inaccuracy to which many Kelly fans are prone.

  8. The Metcalf myth is uncritically repeated in Corfield’s ‘Ned Kelly Encyclopaedia’ (s.v. Metcalf) as fact, with no reference to the source documents. No wonder it has spread, fostered by so many hands, to insidiously poison the minds of countless casual students of Australian history – our history.

  9. Struth! There really are a lot of bad mistakes in that exhibition. I started making a list but soon ran out of patience too:

    Ellen Kelly was Ned's mother and served time in prison for horse stealing. [She did no such thing! An irritating invention].

    Most of the male members of the Quinn clan spent time in gaol for horse and cattle theft. [No, they didn't].

    [Ludicrous and misleading statements are made about Squatters and Selectors].

    A photo of Bushranger Harry Power is presented "standing in front of a brick wall at Pentridge prison. [ - The wall is obviously not bricks, and probably not Pentridge prison].

    There is no evidence whatever that George King stole horses with Ned or anyone else in Victoria.

    This terrible exhibition should be taken down and junked at once.

  10. All I can find about the disastrous "Wild Colonial Boys" exhibition at the Old Treasury Building is that a Rob Edmonds will give a talk about it on 15 November. Apparently the exhibition was the work of a Monash Uni student or students. Public Record Office Victoria foolishly advertised for an exhibition internship:

    "With the guidance/support of the Community Archives team the student will be expected to produce detailed research notes and draft exhibition text for use in an exhibition. They will undertake independent research within the collection on a selected topic; produce exhibition research notes and text utilising templates; recommend records for display and digitisation".

    A woman on Youtube talks about the benighted exhibition:

    About the earlier 1842 bushrangers, the writer[s] have relied on unattributed plagiarism of a book which details these events. Disgraceful!

    This exhibition is a monumental disaster.

    Heads should roll.

    Taxpayer dollars need to be much better spent than this.

    1. Hi David, I went to that in late September, and sent the below note to the Old Treasury Buildings about errors and issues in their signage. First I give the signage wording in quotes, then the issues:

      Dan’s armour [cabinet signage]
      “Suit of armour, worn by Dan Kelly. At Glenrowan all four members of the Kelly gang wore suits of armour. Each suit comprised a helmet, breastplate, back plate and lappet (a piece of metal to protect the groin). The suits were made from mould boards, the curved plough plates that turn the soil, and were made to measure for each man. It is believed they were made by the gang and sympathisers. The armour was not very effective. It was heavy, restricting movement, and did not cover the entire body. This left the gang vulnerable. Joe Byrne was shot in the groin (his suit may not have had a lappet) and Ned Kelly was brought down when police fired at his unprotected arms and legs.”

      Issue: the purpose of the armour was shooting forward downhill at derailed train victims. “Bullet proof at 10 yards” was fine for the massacre that the gang had planned. To speak of ‘vulnerability’ from the back of these massacre suits is preposterous.

      ABC video - Outlawed: The Real Ned Kelly (2014), on YouTube: From 37:40 - 39:33 minutes on the video, John McQuilton shows Judith Douthie how the armour would work in the planned derailment massacre.

      The makings of a bushranger [wall signage]
      “Ned’s real troubles with the police began in 1878. On 15 April Constable Fitzpatrick arrived at the Kelly hut with a warrant to arrest Ned’s brother Dan for horse stealing. Ned’s mother, Ellen, struck Fitzpatrick with a fire shovel, a shot was fired, and Fitzpatrick was shot in the wrist. Ellen Kelly was arrested for the attempted murder of Fitzpatrick and was sentenced to three years in prison. Ned and Dan took off for the Wombat ranges where they were joined by their mates Joe Byrne and Steve Hart. The four soon became known as the Kelly Gang.”

      Issue: Ned’s real troubles began when he was apprenticed to Harry Power and began his life of crime as a youthful accomplice in bushranging. While still a teen he was gaoled for receiving a stolen horse. Upon release, he got involved with a horse-stealing ring and police were searching for him at the time warrants were also issued against Dan. Joe Byrne was outside the Kelly house at the time of the Fitzpatrick Incident, and went with Ned and Dan that evening. All were ex-gaolbirds.

      The true story? [wall signage]
      “Fitzpatrick’s story has since been questioned. At the time, Captain Standish, the Chief Commissioner of Police, queried Fitzpatrick’s account of the incident and, less than two years later, Fitzpatrick was sacked from the police force as a perjurer and drunkard. The cause of Fitzpatrick’s wound was never verified. Dr. Nicholson, who examined Fitzpatrick, refused to swear that his injury was the result of a bullet wound.”

      Issue: Fitzpatrick’s story has been relentlessly howled down for over 130 years, until I reconstructed, corroborated and vindicated it in Dec 2015. The Royal Commission heard Standish’s view and did not follow it (2nd Progress Report). Fitzpatrick was not sacked as a perjurer and drunkard; that comes from Corfield’s Kelly Encyclopaedia, and he based it on Ned Kelly’s accusations. Fitzpatrick was sacked for insubordination to his superior at Lancefield. The cause of the wound was verified as consistent with a bullet wound; Dr Nicholson could not swear to it in law as he had not witnessed the shot take place. This slander has been wrongly repeated by many pro-Kelly writers.

      They said they would look into modifying the signage as it was important for the presentation to be balanced. When I saw it, it was as balanced as a one-armed bandit.

  11. "The Kelly Gang Unmasked" has the Metcalf shooting on page one and details the subsequent events that Ian Jones and others omitted. Stuart has presented a very strong case against Ian Jones's storytelling.

  12. Peter Fitzsimons’ historical novel ‘Ned Kelly’ (2014), only mentions Metcalf once, on p. 522, where during the Glenrowan siege, “Metcalf is next to scream loudly in the dining room as a ricocheted bullet strikes him in the eye, giving him a grievous injury likely to be mortal”. (Sob.) Looking for help in the accompanying reference note, we find only that “”George Metcalf did in fact die of this wound, less than four months later”. (Gasp! Bad police, bad, bad, bad!) No source cited, not even Jones; just pure historical fantasy, totally ignorant of the relevant source documents.

    Peter Fitzsimons is a powerful and engaging writer, and it is a shame that people interested in Australian history are going to be led so far off course on many parts of the Kelly story by this extraordinarily unbalanced book, the one-sided research for which can only leave one shaking one’s head.

  13. Jones also failed to mention the sworn testimony of Supt. John Sadlier (Royal Commission Q16700 p. 616) - “There is another [incorrect] statement …: ‘A man named George Metcalfe has also been forwarded by your instructions to Melbourne, for treatment to an injury received in the eye while the firing was going on.’ That was the man’s own statement to Captain Standish, and myself, but, on further enquiries, I found that the injury was caused by Ned Kelly on the Sunday before the capture, the gun having accidentally gone off in his hands, and shot this man in the eye."

    Poor George Metcalf was a victim all right, but of Kelly’s careless gun handling. Kelly did not then let him go to seek treatment but rounded him up in the Inn as part of Kelly’s human shield, seeded with a few sympathisers; the same tactic he used at Euroa and Jerilderie to prevent interference with his plans. A national hero?

  14. Judith Mortimer's terrific investigation of many the Glenrowan hostages’ backgrounds, ‘I was at the Kelly Gang round-up’ (2007: 106-7) acknowledged the Eason’s report, and noted that "It is understandable that George would not have wanted to the police to know who injured him, as he then would not have received any compensation for his wounds from the police.” Given that he could not afford treatment, Metcalf took the only way he could see to get it, and claimed injury in the siege.

    Like many other decent people who suffered the impact of the Kelly gang – which is not remembered favourably in many parts of country Victoria - he was a victim of tragic circumstances beyond his control; and in this case, of the callous indifference to others that characterised much of Kelly’s existence. If people want to idealise certain historical figures that’s fine; but let’s be very clear about who is being idealised, why, and what the full story was, without partisan fabrication.

    1. My apologies, the author of ‘I was at the Kelly Gang round-up’ is Judith Douthie, descendant of David Mortimer who was one of the Glenrowan hostages, mostly remembered for having played the music for a dance in the Inn on Johnnie Jones' concertina (p. 115). He was Thomas Curnow's brother in law. The front cover and title page of the book both give the author's name as "Judith Douthie (Mortimer)", but I should have got it right in the post first time around.

  15. Stuart has done a great job of pulling together and laying out all of the known facts, but it still seems strange in the extreme that no one at the siege had ever bothered to say anything about this quite singular event (not everyday some guy is shot in the face right in front of you!) in letters home or in any testimony or interviews (beyond being probed and prodded by Eason some time later). People talked about the more mundane things that happened (like we played hop skip jump with the gang) but nothing about Metcalf and the alleged accident. Something just does not add up for me despite all the circumstantial evidence to the contrary. I would like to think that Metcalf was a nice ordinary guy caught up in extraordinary circumstances beyond his control and suffered greatly for it. He, at least, had a good sense of humor, given that last lines in his letter to his sister about the pink haired hair man staying at Wilson's. That is a play on words on a well-known jest of the era. Oh, and that exhibition sample, that ain't what I call art! But I guess that appreciation of art, just like beauty or anything else for that matter, is in the eye of the beholder (pun intended). I sometimes look through magazines about modern art and I am astonished at how some of it looks like Curious George (no, not Metcalf!) got into some finger paints after smoking banana peels! Oh, yeah, speaking of George Metcalf, there isn't a photo of him anywhere online that I know of, so who is that imposter getting his unjust desserts on canvas?

    1. Have to agree with you Sharon about the exhiition sample. But we uneducated plebeians just don't get it I suppose. I have always had the same thoughts about Sidney Nolan's Ned Kelly Series. Having seen 'works' from this series quite a few times in various locations I have always marvelled at the public and expert acclaim for this dross. I assumed that I just didn't get 'it'.

  16. There are many things we only know by accident, such that Ann Jones’ daughter counted up the women and children prisoners more than once with a revolver in her hand, which Mrs Reardon never mentioned to the police or at Mrs Jones’ trial as she was never asked about it (RC Q10542-5). Yet it’s not every day that a 15 year old girl counts up prisoners in her mum’s hotel by waving a revolver at them!

    Metcalf’s injury happened before he was taken up to the hotel. Mr Reardon said of himself that “We passed our time very miserably”, and he did not talk much (Q7749-50). Given the trauma of the event for the growing numbers inside the Inn and that they were all frightened for their lives, it likely got lost in the wash.

    The prisoners were freed around 10am on the Monday morning. Metcalf fronted at the Eye and Ear Hospital in Melbourne three days later, Thursday 1 July, stating he had been injured “during the attack by the police”, and was temporarily admitted while Dr Gray sought instructions from CCP Standish as the patient had no money.

    Standish replied on 2 July, “I consider that under the circumstances of the way he met his injuries, the patient referred to who is utterly without means is a fit case for the charity”. Gray then got to work, as he advised Standish on 3 July. The letters are in VPRS 4965 Unit 3 Item 146. The handwriting is hard to read, but most of it is transcribed in MacFarlane’s ‘Kelly Gang Unmasked’, p. 27. It appears the police simply took his claim on face value.

    Detective Eason appears to have come across the Metcalf question by accident. He commences with a report about the McAuliff brother’s actions during the firing, then says that he had noticed Metcalf’s statement, which he presumably sought to corroborate. He then unearthed the truth. There is no indication that Eason went there looking to scuttle Metcalf’s claim. And as a victim of circumstance with his badly needed care paid by a false claim, poor Metcalf was not likely to blab about it.

    BTW no one has sent me a notice or invitation for the exhibition. Most shows have at least a sheet of information about the works, so maybe it will be in that. Maybe it's not even Metcalf, who knows.

  17. About that picture, it looks like a send up of Nolan's 'First Class Marksman', with a careless Kelly looking away left as he fires his pistol down and right. It is hard to say from the blog photo, but it looks almost like a collage, although the colours seem quite intense, almost photo-realistic. There is a famous Nolan send-up, 'Hurry, Edward, the Troops are coming' (1965), by renowned artist Donald Friend, which was sold in the same lot in 2014 -

    I would guess it is having a go at the claims for Kelly gang gun expertise, and maybe asking, why do people think any Kelly art should be pro-Kelly art. Is art about execution or concept? Does it have to be realistic or "conventional" (whatever that is) to say something? I agree with Sharon there's some pretty wacky things done in the name of art. Back in 1915 a guy called Malevich did a painting called "Black Square" which was, you know, a black square! I can't make up my mind about this one. On the one hand it looks like something someone knocked up in their lunch time. On the other hand, maybe there's a point to it.

  18. Sharon, I don't think the Metcalf shooting took place at the Jones' Inn, where everyone would have seen it. It looks as if the shooting took place outside the Stationmaster's house.

    1. If you read John Lowe's and Tom Cameron's letters about their Glenrowan experiences, they tell about rambling all around during the day on Sunday. Cameron said that there were 25 or 30 (with more being added along) in the group he was in. He said they hung around Stanistreet's gate most of the day only going down to the Inn for dancing after dark. Lowe talked about going all around and even back to their tents to eat dinner on Sunday. Eventually, only the women and children were held at Stanistreets before being brought down to the Inn, but enough folks were out and about during the day who would have been workmates or friends with Metcalf. Everyone was not automatically shut in the Inn at first "capture."

  19. Hi Jimmy and Sharon - Eason found that Metcalf was shot in the face by Ned on the Sunday, “later in the day when Metcalf was bailed up outside the Station Master’s house”. Witnesses who confirmed that included Stanistreet’s son who brought water; Stanistreet, and Reardon. The witnesses' names are in the margin of Eason's statement.

    We don't know where anyone else was at that exact moment, but these specific witnesses names were presumably recorded there as persons willing to swear to what they saw. Both were victims of the circumstances of that day, and had no motive to lie about what they saw or about Mr Stanistreet's son bringing water to Metcalf. So what we have is direct witness testimony from multiple witnesses attesting that Ned Kelly shot Metcalf in the eye while fiddling with a revolver.

    The issue being raised here seems to be that there we don't have even further corroboration from even more witnesses, who were somewhere in the vicinity (but cannot be assumed to have to have been present at the time the incident happened), to reconfirm what three existing witnesses who were there have already stated.

    To me the evidence is compelling. Otherwise we are talking about where various other people, who might not have been in a group, might variously have been at a specific time, and what they might have seen but didn't record; but that to me doesn't negate the fact that there were three people who witnessed the shooting and said so.

  20. Compelling stuff. Well done, Stuart.

  21. So far as I know, police generally didn't interview Glenrowan survivors, as they would today.

    My impression of this pivotal incident is that only the few witnesses detective Eason could find were questioned.

    Kelly said ‘I did not mean to fire. It went off accidentally.’ End of story. Ned shot Metcalf.

  22. If we find (as is becoming clearer) that the Kelly story has become nine-tenths creative writing, maybe it’s time to stop throwing public money at it with moronic justifications of cultural heritage. Ordinary farmers and townspeople being terrorised by a gang of murderous armed thugs is not cultural heritage when it glorifies the thugs and disrespects or forgets those who like Curnow at Glenrowan, and many of the often isolated bush police, put their lives on the line at critical moments to protect the lives and property of others.

  23. There is a siege map of Glenrowan at
    Key points are (1), site of Jones’ Inn; (3), site of railway worker’s tents; (6) site of original railway station; and (13), place where railway line was torn up. Points (4) and (5) are where Kelly hid and was captured. Point (17) where Kelly is alleged to have walked to and from unnoticed, in armour, to meet with sympathisers, is nearly a kilometre from Jones’ Inn, and on the opposite side of the line. Must have been superman.

    1. Do you know the original source of this map Stuart, or was it constructed in recent times?

    2. Hi Spudee, the top left corner of the map has in small print, "Map commissioned by the 'Glenrowan Improvers' and produced by 'Mapping and Data Services'". Another site says it is available from Kate's Cottage,
      Kate's Cottage (which has the great replica of the Kelly house in which the Fitzpatrick Incident occurred), is the site I gave the URL for. So it sounds like a relatively modern map produced for tourist purposes. All the typeface is modern sans serif except for the map title which looks like Times NR. You could try emailing or calling Kate's Cottage if it is important. It seems pretty accurate spatially to me when walking around the town.

    3. My old eyes just couldn't read it so thanks Stuart. If it is reasonably accurate you can see that the crucial sites, particularly those used by the police, were very close to the inn itself.

  24. Stuart, in McMenomy's book he has the bird's eye view of Glenrowan drawn by Thomas Carrington. Looking at it makes things seem to be closer than they probably were, I guess. It is like it is a quick hop, skip and jump from Stanistreet's to the Inn!

    Also, remember that Hare said in the Royal Commission (Q.1282) that Aaron said -" I look upon Ned Kelly as an extraordinary man; there is no man in the world like him, he is superhuman.”

    And in Hare's book he had this bit-

    "Sherritt had a most exalted opinion of Ned Kelly, and said that he did not believe there was another man like him in the colony. He said, "He is about the only man I ever was afraid of in my life, and I certainly give him best in everything."

    So, if anyone besides Superman could do it I think it would be Ned! Or he had everyone thinking so!

  25. Hi Sharon, I suspect Aaron Sherritt's praise of Ned was always duplicitous as he was playing the double agent. His boasting about Ned's prowess is also providing excuses for Sherritt's own apparent failure to lead Hare or other police to catch Ned or any of the gang. Sherritt seems to have led Hare on a bit of a dance, particularly when he pointed Hare to the wrong likely border crossing and target in NSW before the Jerilderie robbery. If we start taking everything Sherritt said at face value, we're probably not going to get a picture that matches his actions. I think Sherritt may have had motivations of self-preservation as much as getting apparent Judas money.

    On the other bit, why would Ned have to walk a round trip of over 1.5 kilometres, wearing armour, in the middle of the night, to talk to sympathisers, when he had about 20 of them with him in the Inn? He could have just ‘released’ a few so one of them could take a message. They were probably sick of being shot at anyway. Big man, but. Stockholm syndrome anyone?

    1. That's a clever reveal, Stuart. Ned always had stooges in hostage situations. He couldn't have staggered around for 1.5 kilometres in a 97 kilo suit of armour. He would have been completely bugg*red!

      Superman... I think not. SuperCopKiller more like.

  26. “The bushranger Ned Kelly is one of Australia's greatest folk heroes.”

    1. I just had a look at this link and naturally it is riddled with mistakes! But the really enoying thing is that it is on an official Australian Government site.

  27. In The Glenrowan Masterplan Final Report of April 12, 2002 there is this-

    "The Stationmaster’s Residence at Glenrowan was erected in 1873. It was originally located on the north side of the line, to the immediate west of the level crossing (later replaced by the Beaconsfield Parade overpass). At the time of the Siege in June 1880, stationmaster John Stanistreet occupied the house. A bird’s eye perspective in the illustrated Australian News depicts the house as a small single storey, double fronted, weatherboard cottage with a hipped roof penetrated by a brick chimney at the east end. The south elevation, facing the railway line, had a central doorway, flanked by windows. This drawing however uses considerable artistic license and makes several errors so should not be relied upon.

    A more accurate photograph plate, showing the Siege Site from the north east of Jones’ Inn, indicates that the house was actually L-shaped in plan, with the street facade facing east onto what is now Beaconsfield Parade. In this view the chimney was at the south end and there were pairs of windows to the east and north elevations. It is presumed that this building was removed when the railway line was widened."


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.