Saturday 24 June 2017

How should "Glenrowan" be remembered?


The 2008 Excavation at the site of the Ann Jones Inn at Glenrowan. No cellar was found. The lines of bricks are nothing to do with Ann Jones Inn but are from 20th century buildings long demolished. 

The site of Ned Kellys last stand, the place where the Ann Jones Inn once stood is for sale. It’s a small block of privately owned vacant land on Siege Street in Glenrowan and in various places on the internet and in the press people are discussing what should be done with it. Some believe it should be left as it is, out of respect for the lives that were lost there. Others think a replica of the Ann Jones Inn  should be built and the site turned into a tourist destination. The self-confessed Kelly tragic and Wangaratta lawyer who owns the Kelly-series Nolan painting on display at the Kelly Vault in Beechworth told the Border Mail that he would like to expose the remains of the Inns foundations and erect a building with a glass floor over the top of them :

You have to expose the foundation made of brick, the burnt stumps that are left and direct people to where the bodies are found with Father Gibney coming in to give the last rites for the lads,” Mr Suta said

“You would uncover it, build a structure, a glass floor, so you could walk over it and place information boards around it to explain the history.

“When you go overseas to Athens and Rome, those places, it’s like that, they have archaeological digs exposed and you walk over them.”

He doesn’t seem to realise that Adam Fords archaeological investigation of the site in 2008 found that almost nothing is left of the Ann Jones Inn other than a few post holes. The brick foundations Suta mentions (seen in the photo above) are nothing to do with the Kelly story - they are the foundations of a ‘wine shanty’ built in 1910 that later became a Café then a Hair Salon then two flats that were demolished in 1976. Hardly “Athens and Rome”! 


The problem with “Kelly tragics” in general, when it comes to places like this in the North east of Victoria, is that they want to turn them into shrines and memorials to a wildly polarising and completely unhistorical view of Ned Kelly. When they think of Glenrowan they think of Ned Kellys brave ‘last stand’, they see what happened there as a sort of tragic destruction of the dreams of a revolutionary hero, brought down by the great corrupt juggernaut of police and politicians who conspired against a tiny band of freedom fighters. They blame the Police for the loss of life there, they think the people held hostage in the Inn by Ned Kelly had a terrific time until the Police arrived, they think there was a ‘sympathiser army’ waiting nearby to join the revolution, they venerate the  famous symbols of the siege, suits of home-made armour that the gang wore when they confronted the Police on the veranda of the Inn and they think if Ned Kellys plan had succeeded it could have resulted in some sort of positive political and social change. They think it should be revered like the site of the Eureka rebellion is, but Eureka and Glenrowan have absolutely nothing in common, except in the minds of Kelly fanatics who don’t understand history and don’t want to face the facts about Glenrowan.
Not that long ago, those views of the Kelly outbreak were seen as reasonable, even if many didn’t agree with them. The narrative put out by the Kelly writers like Brown, Jones Moloney and McQuilton at the very least suggested such an interpretation of Kelly history had merits, and it became commonplace for the Kelly story to be presented as a kind of almost unfathomable conundrum: ‘Ned Kelly –  Hero or Villain?’ was the often posed challenge. I am guessing that in that atmosphere of ambiguity the siege site was listed by Heritage Victoria.

In the light of more recent research and thinking into the Kelly story, those romantic notions of a heroic Ned Kelly have been more or less completely discarded, and replaced by the historically verifiable view that Ned Kelly was primarily a psychopathic criminal gang leader. Whereas no evidence has emerged of his involvement in any sort of political movement or to support the notion that he was a kind of Australian Robin Hood, much has emerged to show he was a charismatic liar, a forger, a bully, a thief and of course a multiple Police murderer, whose own writings exposed his obsessional hatred of authority in general and the Police in particular. Glenrowan, rather than some sort of Greek tragedy, on examination is revealed as an abysmally planned and completely bungled plot to carry out terrorist mass murder on a scale similar to the killings that took place at Port Arthur, a horrifying massacre that disgusts everyone. It is absolutely certain that had Ned Kelly achieved what he wanted to at Glenrowan, his memory would be reviled in the same way as the Port Arthur killer Martin Bryants is, and listed alongside Craig Minogue, Carl Williams and Julian Knght, the Hoddle Street mass killer.  The conundrum is not really whether or not Kelly was a hero or villain but why there are still a few hundred people in Australia who noisily and ignorantly promote the memory of a man for whom murdering three police wasn’t enough. Ned Kelly picked Glenrowan  to be the place where he would murder dozens more, and for some unfathomable reason modern Kelly sympathisers and descendants want this to be remembered.

The extent of Ned Kellys blundering, and the horror of what he planned for Glenrowan needs to be exposed.

Firstly, the day before the planned massacre of police, they murdered Aaron Sherrit in cold blood. They expected that once he had been murdered in the Woolshed Valley Police would race up on a train from Melbourne, speed through Glenrowan and then crash over an embankment where the Gang had ripped up the track. Many police would die, and any survivors would be killed by the gang wearing armour they had fashioned over the preceding months - an act of monstrous brutality and violence equal in its time to any act of jihadist terrorism today. They murdered Aaron in the mistaken belief that this friend and supporter of the gang had betrayed them but this idea we now know was a figment of the gangs collective paranoia – no evidence has ever emerged that Aaron ever betrayed the Gang – in fact the consensus nowadays is that he didn’t and wasn’t ever going to. So, Mistake Number 1 : the ‘champion of the poor’ killed an innocent man.

The plan relied on the Police quickly hearing about this murder, but the train didn’t reach Glenrowan until much later than the Gang had planned, and as a result it all fell apart. But why was it so late? The answer is mistake number 2 : Joe and Dan, the murderers, hung around Aarons hut for several hours daring the Police inside to come out, and then after those two left, sympathisers continued harassing and shouting at them until dawn, which was when it was finally safe for them to emerge and sound the alarm. 

At Glenrowan, in the dark Ned Kelly and Steve Hart attempted to stealthily rip up the rail tracks : Mistake number 3 – they hadn’t bought the right tools. Mistake 4 was that they then destroyed their plan to do this all secretly, by waking up railway workers sleeping in tents nearby to do it for them. Mistake 5 was that these guys didn’t know how to do it either so they woke the stationmaster and forced him at gunpoint to get two platelayers to get the job done. Now the only way to stop news getting out of what the gang was planning was to take everyone hostage, so they bailed them all up as the numbers grew in Ann Jones Inn.  The whole plan was spiralling into chaos, and the leader hailed since by some as a potential General had no idea what to do. There were a few ‘sympathisers’ posing as hostages but most were innocent passers-by, including women and children whom later the gang used as human shields. Letting Curnow go was obviously a mistake (#6) , as was the decision to engage in a battle with the Police when the Inn was surrounded and the Gang knew their plan had failed. (#7) And of course the Kelly Gang armour was a mistake (#8) as well – it was incredibly heavy and cumbersome, the wearer had little mobility and a greatly reduced field of vision, and as the Police eventually noticed, it didn’t protect the legs.

Glenrowan wasn’t a heroic last stand but, from the Kelly gangs perspective it was an absolute debacle that was entirely of Ned Kellys making. The gang had been surviving in the bush for many months and could have devised any number of escape plans but even Kelly sympathiser Ian Jones said the one Ned chose was “madness’. It was triggered by the murder of an innocent friend and resulted in the death of Neds own brother and two other gang members, the death of two or perhaps three innocent hostages, and the capture of its leader. The plan to kill police and perhaps to somehow free Ned Kellys mother ended with no police killed, Ellen Kelly still in Gaol and her son joining her, soon to be on death row, and in a matter of weeks hanged. Complete and utter humiliation.

There were also two other innocent lives lost at Glenrowan – Johnny Jones and  Martin Cherry, killed in the mayhem by Police bullets. Some criticisms of police behaviour at Glenrowan, as at the Lindt Café siege are justified – mistakes were made in both sieges  but everyone but a few extreme Kelly fanatics accepts that responsibility for those deaths lies with the individual who deliberately placed them in harms way : Ned Kelly in 1880, Man Haron Monis in 2014.

The land for sale in Glenrowan marks the place where the murderous Kelly gang was finally brought to its knees in a bloody showdown. It’s the site from which the true hero of Glenrowan, brave Thomas Curnow escaped, stopped the train and saved many innocent lives. In those respects therefore it is a place that carries a modicum of historical significance but its not a place that should be remembered for a heroic ‘last stand’ so much as the place where the Kelly Gang created a calamitous self-inflicted finale, and the Police bought the Kelly outbreak to an end.  It’s a place of death and terror and shame where the only hero was Thomas Curnow. Why on earth would anyone who knew what really happened there ever want to remember it?

A former Wangaratta Mayor and Kelly descendant Anthony Griffiths  said “from a community perspective and certainly from a family perspective it needs to be treated with the respect it deserves” – which raises the question, what IS the respect that it deserves?  No doubt as a Kelly descendant he thinks it should be respected as the site of a brave ‘last stand’, but that would be a deceit. He has suggested Government should take control of the land, and John Suta has said he would be seeking Government funding if his proposal was accepted. If John Suta becomes the new owner and he wants to create a memorial there, rebuild the Inn, invite tourists in for drinks, and pedal the unhistorical rubbish that he clings to against all the evidence about Ned Kelly, it’s a free world and he is entitled to do it, if he is prepared to fund it. However, he and perhaps more importantly the Council when he asks them for money - should take note of how little interest there has been in the Kelly movie – less than 400 people in the whole of Australia- he should take note of how Glenrowan has become a ghost-town since the highway bypassed it, and ask himself why the existing ‘attractions’ are mostly failing and up for sale. The reality is that almost nobody believes the Kelly myths anymore, and local Councils and Government bodies should not be supporting them.

In the end, if its privately owned land, the owner should be able to do whatever he wants to with it. I am not familiar with how Heritage Listings work but I imagine if something can be placed on the register it could also be removed from it…and that’s what I think should probably happen - this is a not a site where anything other than a crime happened, and a far worse one was avoided. 

A simple plaque and the  famous Ann Jones Inn sign  should be enough to mark this infamous place, and if any heroes are mentioned, it should only be Thomas Curnow. There are no memorials to murderers Man Haron Monis, Julian Knight, Craig Minogue or Carl Williams and there shouldn’t be any to Ned Kelly either. 

Sunday 18 June 2017

Support for Ned Kelly has always been grossly over-estimated.

The idea that Ned Kelly has ever had huge popular support is a myth
Matthew Holmes is probably wishing he had never met the two Kelly fanatics who were named as his co-screenwriters for the proposed Kelly movie, because they persuaded him to abandon his already publicly announced plan to make more movies about Bushrangers and instead make one about Ned Kelly.  They’ve persuaded him that they knew what they were talking about and that Australia was hanging out for a movie about Ned Kelly based on ‘facts’ and the ‘evidence at hand’, ignoring the fact that Kelly wasn’t really a Bush Ranger but a notorious outlaw, a very different character to the genuine bushranger Ben Hall, who though misguided was at least a man with a conscience.

Matthew Holmes easily got the money he needed to make his Ben Hall movie, and it was brilliant. However the fundraising for his Kelly movie has been a humiliating and unequivocal failure, the number of Australians prepared to support such a movie is vanishingly small – by the end of the campaign at current rates of sign up, they’ll be lucky to get 500!

Obviously, they grossly over-estimated public support for Ned Kelly, and I have to admit, so did I. At the beginning of the Campaign I imagined there might just be sufficient support nation-wide to make it happen, though I realised it was a massive challenge. The reality we all now face is a realisation that Ned Kelly is nowhere near as popular as we all thought a month ago – and I have to say I am heartened, and grateful to Matthew Holmes for conducting this kind of “Poll” of public support for Ned Kelly and providing us with information about something that we were just guessing at before.

I realise now that if I had thought about it all a bit more carefully, I should have been able to predict this outcome. Blog readers will recall that for a long time I have been pointing out  that public interest in Ned Kelly has been collapsing – the Ned Kelly Forum and various predecessors, once buzzing have all disappeared; the long-lasting once dominant Iron Outlaw website has fallen silent; the Iron Outlaw Facebook Page, and the Ned Kelly Central and Ned Kelly Center  Facebook pages are  dead, once prominent thoughtful contributors to Kelly history debates have been bullied into silence, the Beechworth Ned Kelly Weekend has been abandoned for lack of interest, the tourist attractions at Glenrowan are falling into disrepair, the Ned Kelly Tour website barely ever advertises a Tour, but books and articles challenging, debunking and ‘unmasking’ the Kelly story are proliferating as never before.

Thanks to the Kickstarter campaign we now know with certainty that people who support the unhistorical stories about Ned Kelly are a very tiny minority of Australians. Everyone else has acknowledged the results of the last half-century of research, debate and revision of Kelly history, and moved on from Kelly idolatry but a tiny minority remains who cling to the same tired and disproved arguments, the same misrepresentations and lies that the criminal Kelly family was telling in 1880. This tiny group, living in its Facebook Echo-chamber makes a lot of noise, but its time we just ignored them. Theyre fighting a battle that’s already been lost.

The interesting thing that occurred to me while thinking about what the Kickstarter campaign has revealed, is that its always been the case that Ned Kellys popularity and support in the wider community has never been anywhere near as great as the Kelly mythmakers claim. The most obvious example of this misrepresentation of the facts relates to what Kelly sympathisers write about the petition that circulated in Melbourne before Ned Kelly was hanged – there were over 30,000 signatures on it, and the Kelly mythmakers invariably claim these signatures were given in support of Ned. But the truth is that it was not a petition about the popularity or otherwise of Ned Kelly but about the increasingly contentious issue of capital punishment, a subject which eventually obtained sufficient community support to have it banned altogether. The Petitioners were not asking for Ned to be retried or to be pardoned or to be set free – they just were opposed to capital punishement and didn’t believed he, or anyone, should ever be hanged:

“PETITION FOR REPRIEVE”
To his Excellency the Governor in Council-
your humble petitioners ( having carefully considered the circumstance of the case) respectfully pray that the life of the condemned man EDWARD KELLY may be spared

At around that same time, something else was happening that showed how almost nobody supported Ned Kelly or his family: Neds lawyer David Gaunson was working for free but was not a barrister. He recommended they hire Hickman Molesworth, a barrister with a fearsome reputation, but his fee was 50 guineas for two days work. Kelly sympathisers still whinge and complain that Ned Kelly ended up with a very inexperienced barrister, Henry BIndon instead of Molesworth, but the reason they had Bindon was because nobody wanted to donate to the Kellys. On October 18th Bindon successfully had the start date of the trial postponed 10 days to allow his team even more time to raise funds (they had already squandered nearly four months), but like the Kickstarter campaign, this fundraiser also failed and Molesworth dropped out of the picture. This episode confirms that it wasn’t support for Ned Kelly but opposition to Capital punishment that led people to sign the Petition – if their signatures were genuinely in support of Ned Kelly, raising Molesworths fee from the more than 30,000 signatories would have been no problem at all.   It also reveals the emptiness of the Kelly claim that Ned Kelly had a small army of sympathisers at Glenrowan, sympathisers who they say, even after he had been hanged were on the verge of starting a revolution. What kind of army would allow its captured leader to be defended by the city’s most inexperienced barrister if by chipping in a few quid they could have got him the best one available? In fact no such ‘army’ ever materialised anywhere, it never existed, it was a figment of the Kelly sympathisers tiny collective imagination. The reality is that the Kellys had almost no support anywhere.

There’s one more issue regarding Ned Kellys alleged popularity that needs discussing : the fact that nobody attempted to claim the huge rewards that were offered for information leading to his capture. Kelly sympathisers believe this proves that Kelly had so much support in the north-east that nobody wanted to dob him in. But where is their evidence for that support? The facts are that when Ned Kelly needed support, it never arrived, either at Glenrowan as a sympathiser army, or at Melbourne in the form of cash. Doug Morrissey has written about these claims of local support for the Kellys and has shown in his research that beyond the extended family and their circle of criminal associates, the Kellys and the Greta mob were largely unsupported, feared and disliked in Greta and the surrounding districts. 
“The Greta community was a typical pioneer community, with one major difference; it had more than its share of crooks. Ignored in the Kelly myth histories is the Greta community’s strong adherence to traditional values, religion, morality and respect for law and order. Greta had the largest concentration of Primitive Methodists in Victoria’s north-east. Around half of all selectors attended the Primitive Methodist church. These were highly principled, religious people who did not swear, drink, gamble or dance. They attended religious services several times a week and after ploughing the fields all day, some travelled to neighbouring communities as lay preachers. One such young preacher was reprimanded by church
elders and publicly made to repent for “ jumping fences and shouting at Glenrowan”, while travelling to a preaching engagement. These are hardly the sort of people who would engage in livestock theft, or rush to support a gang leader whose crimes led to bushranging and murder. Nor would they have joined Ned in establishing a Kelly republic based on mass murder, or acted in concert with the thieves, larrikins and local bullies who stole their property and terrorised their neighbourhood.” (‘Its time to bury the Ned Kelly Myth’ Quadrant Magazine, May 2017)

The reason the rewards were never claimed was nothing to do with Ned being popular, and everything to do with his reputation as a criminal bully with a record, a bank robber, hostage taker and triple murderer. Read what Ned Kellys thoughts were on the subject from the Jerilderie Letter :
“..by the light that shines pegged on an ant-bed with their bellies opened their fat taken out rendered and poured down their throat boiling hot will be cool to what pleasure I will give some of them and any person aiding and abetting or harbouring or assisting the Police in any way whatever or employing any person whom they know to be a detective or a cad or those who would be so deprived as to take blood money will be outlawed and declared unfit to be allowed human burial their property either consumed or confiscated and them, thiers and all belonging to them exterminated off the face of the earth”

Such was the fear his reputation created in the district that nobody was willing to risk everything for a reward. An example of this widespread community intimidation by the Kelly gang and its supporters is given by Grantlee Kieza, in his book “Mrs Kelly”. He quotes a report in the Age newspaper about a young worker from Kilfera Station who refused an offer of  £50 from the Police to tell them where the Kelly gang was because “I have a mother and father keeping a little farm not far off and if I told anything they would be murdered and burnt Its also likely that very few people really knew where the Gang was, as they hid in the bush and were protected by their family and criminal networks but it was  mostly fear and uncertainty that prevented anyone claiming the rewards. The notion that he was so popular that nobody was tempted is preposterous grasping at straws.

This is the truth about Ned Kellys popular support : there has never been any. What support he has ever had has only ever been from a tiny minority of relations and misguided ill informed hangers on and misfits who hate the Police. 

Sunday 11 June 2017

The Kellys have to stop lying about Fitzpatrick

Its time to demand justice for Fitzpatrick
The Fitzpatrick incident is one of the really key moments in the Kelly story. 

Essentially what happened was that on April 15th 1878 a policeman, Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick  went to Dan Kellys home to arrest him on a charge of horse stealing, but returned empty handed saying he had been attacked, and Ned Kelly had fired a gun at him and wounded him in the wrist.

According to the people who believe Ned Kelly was some sort of a hero and freedom fighter, this incident was part of an ongoing campaign of persecution, a ‘setup’ engineered by corrupt police who were determined by any means fair or foul to entrap the Kellys and put them in prison. They claim that Constable Fitzpatrick had no right to arrest Dan Kelly at his home that day because he hadn’t bought with him the warrant for his arrest. They claim that Fitzpatrick disobeyed orders by going there, because he had been told never to go there on his own. They claim that when he got there he was drunk. They claim that while there he attempted some sort of indecency on Kate Kelly aged 14 ( Professor Moloney claimed he raped her ) They claim he pulled a gun in the scuffle and accidentally shot himself – or else they say the wound he received was caused by a door latch. Ned Kelly said he wasn’t there. They say that everything Fitzpatrick  subsequently alleged on his return without Dan to the Station at Benalla was a lie. They blacken his character at every possible opportunity, alleging he was some sort of sleazy womaniser, a pedofile with an interest in ‘very young ladies’, they allege he ‘spiked’ Neds drink, they claim support from the findings of the Royal Commission, and they point to problems he had much later in life to further discredit him.

In short they regard him as a thoroughy disreputable sleaze, a terrible policeman and the author of all their ills.

But remarkable as it will seem, this entire image is almost completely baseless.

Ask any Kelly sympathiser for the facts that they base their hatred of Fitzpatrick on and they will NOT be able to provide any. Search for the facts supporting their claims about Fitzpatrick in their books, on their web pages and on their Facebook pages, ask them on-line for explanations, challenge them to front-up with their proofs, and they will ALWAYS be unable to provide them. The best they ever manage is to reference other people who have made the same allegations – which progresses their case nowhere - make reference to the Royal Commission and mischaracterise it, or refer to claims and allegations made about his conduct much later in life – which are nothing to do with 1878. For the actual substantive evidence of their claims about the sort of policeman  he was in April 1878 the only ‘evidence’ they can scrape up are allegations about his private life.

It is of course deeply hypocritical for Kellys to throw mud at Fitzpatrick for being the father of an illegitimate child -  Neds own married sister had an affair with a Policeman and gave birth to his child, and Ned Kellys mother Ellen Kelly the matricarch conceived three times to three separate men out of wedlock. A wink and a nod is for ever offered in the  direction of Greta mob members like Sherritt and Byrne, known to be favourites with ‘the ladies’ – everyone knows whats meant by that but for these “boys” its all perfectly fine. In fact Fitzpatricks behaviour, no matter how morally dubious was not so unusual for young men then or now, but in any case his private affairs were none of the Kellys business.  Moreover, given the moral standards of their own behaviour, casting aspersions on Fitzpatrick because of his is the height of hypocrisy, a disgusting double standard. But his private failings had no relevance to or impact on his interactions with the Kellys in his role as policeman, any more than Ellen Kellys loose morals had anything to do with the murders at Stringybark Creek.

As for his professional behaviour, I explained in the previous post that  despite sympathisers claims to the contrary, he had an entirely legitimate reason for going to the Kelly house – they were stock thieves –and he did NOT need to have the warrants related to Dans charges in his possession. So that’s two Kelly claims exposed as lies right there!

But what of the other claims?

The claim that he disobeyed orders to stay away from the Kelly house relates to an instruction made by Nicholson to Constable Hayes from Greta. Nicholson requested others be given the same instruction but this was not a formal written order and theres no evidence that Fitzpatrick ever received it – the most obvious reason being that he wasn’t stationed at Greta but at Benalla. In fact his visit was known of and sanctioned by  Sergeant Whelan in Benalla, to whom he reported on his return. If Fitzpatrick had indeed violated a direct instruction, this would have been an act of disobedience which would have resulted in  some sort of disciplinary action, or at least a  note in his service record but no such action or record exists.  When this visit was investigated by the Royal Commission several years later, though they expressed regret at what happened as a result of his visit, Fitzpatrick again was NOT criticised for going there in the first place:  ‘There can be little doubt that Constable Fitzpatrick's conduct, however justified by the rules of the service, was unfortunate in its results.

The Kelly claim that Fitzpatrick shouldn’t have even gone to the Kellys, that he disobeyed orders going there is simply wrong, another of their lies. Not only is there no evidence that such an order was ever given to Fitzpatrick, his senior knew about his visit, never complained about it and the RC said he was ‘justified’ in going there.

So what do we make of the claim that Fitzpatrick was a ‘liar and a larrikin’?
Well firstly, up until the time of this incident, he had been stationed at Benalla, and was known as ‘a decent young fellow’ by McIntyre. At the Royal Commission Standish was asked if he was aware if Fitzpatrick was ‘a man of bad character’ before he was sent to Greta. “I was not. He was strongly recommended to me by Mr C A  Smyth” was his reply. There are no disciplinary or other adverse comments in his record of service, to that point.

After the ‘incident’, at every opportunity the Kellys all told lies about what happened, including, among scores of lies, Ned Kellys famous lie about being 400 miles away, Mrs Kellys and her daughter Kates lie that neither Ned or even Fitzpatrick had been seen there for over a month, and Jim Kellys claim he had been there when the facts show he was in prison in NSW at the time. Subsequently, as Grantlee Kieza noted in his recent book, the Kelly’s accounts
“...will change every time they open their mouths”.  Their accounts inevitably began the vilification of Fitzpatrick, including the baseless allegation that he was drunk, but Fitzpatricks testimony remained unchanged over 35 years.

Never-the-less, in April 1880, two years later with three police murdered, and the Kelly gang still on the run, Fitzpatrick was dismissed from the Police force for ‘inefficiency and insubordination’, allegations made against him by the OIC  Constable Mayes at Lancefield where he had been working from September 1879.  Mayes, who was a zealous participant in the hunt for the Kelly gang  apparently regarded Fitzpatrick as personally responsible for the outbreak, and seems to have made it a personal objective of his to get rid of Fitzpatrick . At the Royal Commission he said “ I had a great deal to do to get rid of him and at last had him dismissed”

A variety of allegations had been levelled against Fitzpatrick by Mayes, such as that he “associated with the lowest class of persons, could not be trusted out of sight and never did his duty” but no specific facts were ever provided to  substantiate these claims  or charges ever laid, and the Royal Commission accepted them, as has every Kelly writer ever since, without ever asking for the facts which justified them.

The remarkable facts which DO exist in relation to Fitzpatricks behaviour at Lancefield, in stark contrast to the sweeping and unsubstantiated allegations made by a single  policeman, are two petitions signed by over one hundred citizens of that district, objecting to his dismissal and attesting to their experience of him as being
“zealous, diligent, obliging, and universally liked, while we never saw him in company of any but the best citizens. Had he been what [Mayes’] report was said to allege it could not have escaped our attention. He made several clever captures and appeared to us as one of the most efficient and obliging men in the force”.
This is an absolutely shattering document, signed by reputable community members such as farmers, publicans and business men, ten JP’s, an MP, a barrister and a journalist, a document that exposes Mayes assesments as deeply suspect, and more or less completely destroys the credibility of Mayes complaints. Just as remarkable, a year later a second petition from the citizens of Lancefield was presented by a man who in 1903 became Prime Minister of Australia, Alfred Deakin, MP. They requested that “a Board of enquiry to be held so that Alexander Fitzpatrick could answer the charges made against him”

The response this time came from Acting Chief Commissioner Chomley, who dismissed the petitioners request , relying only on the Police record that included the allegations made by Mayes, and because he had “always heard him described as a liar and a larrikin” – or in other words, hearsay. This is utterly unprofessional behaviour, and wouldn't have been accepted as evidence in any Court or at any reasonable enquiry. Fitzpatrick requested an opportunity to defend himself against all these allegations, but was denied it by the authorities whose judgements he was challenging.  No reasonable person could regard that dismissal as anything like a fair go for Fitzpatrick. There is every reason to believe he was made a scapegoat not only by the Kelly’s, but also by the Police, who were being humiliated and publically embarrassed by their failure to capture the Kelly gang.

These two remarkable documents, which strike at the very heart of the conspiracy of vilification of Fitzpatrick, quite scandalously are completely ignored by Ian Jones in his writings, and perhaps even more scandalously by Peter Fitzsimons, because we know for certain that when he wrote his Kelly book in 2013, these petitions had been brought to the attention of the Kelly community by Ian MacFarlane in the Kelly Gang Unmasked, published in 2012. Fitzsimons deliberately ignored them because they destroy the argument that Fitzpatrick was the villain in the piece, the lies promoted by the Kellys and their supporters and somewhat paradoxically by the Police, ever since.

If Kelly supporters want to continue to vilify the memory of Fitzpatrick, they are going to have to do several  things : provide some facts to back up their claims , acknowledge the Kellys lied outrageously in their attempts to cover their tracks, cease supporting the hypocrisy of known liars moralising about Fitzpatrick, and explain why the unsubstantiated allegations of a Policeman who had it in for Fitzpatrick should be believed over a future prime minister and over a hundred ordinary citizens of Lancefield who said Fitzpatrick was ‘zealous, diligent and universally liked’.


My guess is they will keep their heads well and truly buried in the sand, and in the proposed movie, and in the soon to be published book by Mr Bradley Webb, the lies about Fitzpatrick will be perpetuated, because to do otherwise would mean there would be nobody for Ned Kelly to blame his troubles on but himself. The reality is that it was Fitzpatrick who was unfairly persecuted, not the Kellys. This myth can no longer be tolerated.



Post Script
I referred to all the usual sources for the information contained in this Post, but relied very considerably on Dr Stuart Dawsons brilliant expose of this event, “Redeeming Fitzpatrick” my review of which, and a link are provided HERE.

I suggest everyone should read his comprehensive and extensively referenced article and then decide for themselves if they agree with him or with the ignorant, academia-hating Kelly trolls who wrote this on their Facebook pages recently :

Oh poor Stuart Dawson is upset that no-one has mentioned his Redeeming Fitzpatrick article on that blog.I will give you the reason why free of charge. Stuart as I have stated before it is just your opinion and full of b/s and guesswork all created by you.Keith McMenomy and John Maloney are far more creditable than your absolute garbage. No wonder you linked yourself to David .(2 peas in a pod)No Grantlee Kieza did not come to the same conclusion as you and only referenced you in his book. His writings of the incident is nothing like yours. Your bid to change real history and insulting of respected men is really pathetic.The Royal Commission were spot on in their summary of the liar Fitzpatrick and he wasn't sacked from the police force because he was a good one but obviously an incompetent one

‪ I had a laugh out of that too Bob, Stuart Dawson getting all sooky-la-la over nobody mentioning his twisted version of events. WHat a legend in his own mind he is!