Saturday 28 April 2018

Exposed : More Domestic Violence in the Kelly clan

What Ned Kelly's uncle did to his sister Margarets face was much WORSE  than this!

The image Kelly sympathisers want you to have in your minds of the extended family of Ned Kellys aunts and uncles as he was growing up, is that they were decent but poor country folk, struggling to make a living in the harsh frontier environment of north-east Victoria. They want you to believe that the authorities, corrupted by their associations with rich landowners and their own prejudices, harassed and persecuted the Kelly ‘clan’ for being Irish, for being Catholic, for having convict associations and for being poor selectors. The story is that having observed all this as he was growing up, once he was old enough Ned Kelly finally decided to do something about it.

As I showed last week, in contrast to that treacly sweet Kelly myth of family harmony against the dark forces lined up against them, the  plain truth is that it wasn’t the police or the squatters who caused Ellen Kelly to be poverty stricken and a solo mother of seven in 1868. She was a poverty-stricken widow because of her husband’s alcoholism - which killed him in 1866 -  and her brother-in-laws act of drunken revenge, setting fire to their home and nearly incinerating 13 children. She and her two sisters lost everything, because Ellen didn’t want to get into bed with Uncle Jim. That was his revenge.

This horrendous act of retaliation was the kind of thing that drew police attention to the Kellys, and so it most certainly should have.  They came across children sleeping outside in the grass, women whose husbands were all in prison, stories of drunken brawling, promiscuity and arson. The idea that police interest in the Kelly clan  was harassment that had something to do with their religion or their nationality or their convict associations is laughable – it arose from the ghastly criminal actions of the Kellys themselves which on that occasion very nearly resulted in tragic consequences for as many as 13 clan children. Ned Kelly could have been one of the children incinerated when that old pub went up in flames.

Its hardly likely that this was a one-off. Uncle Jim was said to be rarely sober so they had probably been putting up with this drunks intolerable and boorish behaviour  for a long time. They were all probably glad when the police took him off their hands and he went to prison for fifteen years. But he wasn’t the only criminal in the clan when Ned Kelly as growing up.

Ned had another Uncle Jim, Jimmy Quinn, his mothers brother, and in 1872 he was involved in yet another case that Judge Redmond Barry had to preside over at the Beechworth Circuit Court. This time James aka ‘Jimmy’ Quinn was tried for ‘wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.’  And who did he wound you might ask? A policeman? A squatter? A bully from the ruling class? Someone harassing and oppressing them as they tried to go about their lawful business? That’s what you might expect if the Kelly myths were true but no, he beat up his own younger sister, Margaret. She was one of the poor women who lost everything when their accommodation was burned to the ground four years earlier by the other of Neds Uncles Jim.

In fact this incident from January 1872 has horrible parallels with the 1868 one. They both were about drunken clan members trying to hit on women, and seeking revenge when they were rejected. This time, the perpetrator, James Quinn aged 32 entered Margaret Quinns bedroom early one morning, took all his clothes off and tried to get into bed with Jane Graham who was sleeping at the foot of Margaret’s bed. Margaret’s husband was Patrick Quinn (same surname but different family altogether) and wouldn’t you know it, he was in prison for violent assault.

In court the 21 year old Jane Graham was interrogated and its recorded that “It was with difficulty any evidence could be extracted from this witness”. At one point she is recorded as saying “I don’t remember what happened next” . This of course was long before the day when it was realised how court processes entrench the embarrassment and shame, and traumatise yet again the victims of sexual assault, but its clear in that remark, that this is what was happening in court to young Jane Graham. She has been identified as a local prostitute, but that didn’t give Uncle Jim the right to force himself on her, so Margaret  objected to his behaviour. In court Margaret said:

“About daybreak prisoner came into the room undressed and began to pull the clothes off the girl. She called out and I woke and told him he should be ashamed of himself. ….. I told the girl we would get  up and dress as it was daybreak.  We did so when the prisoner struck me a severe blow on the side of the head with his shut hand. It knocked me senseless and I knew no more for some time.  I do not recollect any other blow. I was struck on the mouth. When I came around I was lying on the floor bleeding from two wounds in the face.”

“Stephen Byrne, a labourer deposed: I know Mrs Quinns house. I recollect going there on the morning of Saturday. I heard James Quinn say that he had beat his sister and I went to see what was the matter about sunrise. ….She was cut  in the face and bleeding freely….I fetched her to the doctor. She was not able to walk and my employer sent me in with a spring cart”

In Court,  Doctor W B Hutchinson said:

“She had one wound two inches long from the mouth up toward the eye, cut right through to the mouth, and two other wounds about the lip and one on the nose, separating the cartilage from the bones. …. She had lost a good deal of blood.” (Click this link to read the court report yourself.(O&M April 17 1872))

This was obviously an appalling and violent attack, the kind we refer to these days as a coward’s punch, a massive hit to the face that felled Margaret immediately. It could have killed her. Margaret would have looked much worse than the woman in the photo at the top of the post, with a two-inch laceration extending right into her mouth, her nose pulverised, blood streaming from the injuries, unable to stand. Her young face would have been disfigured for the rest of her life.

A couple of months earlier, that same Doctor had been in court describing the injuries this same Jimmy Quinn had inflicted on a John Page in another violent assault. Quinn was hiding under a bed when police came to arrest him. Page was ‘in a very bad state’ after the assault and remained in the Wangaratta hospital for two or three weeks. And was John Page a despised squatter, a tyrannical policeman, or oppressor from the ruling class? No, he was a ‘splitter’, in other words a poor hard working labourer.

Quinn received two years for this assault and then in April another eighteen months was added for the assault on his sister.

Kelly apologists do their best to hide this sickening episode in their history, and the many others like it, and instead promote the claim first invented by Ned Kelly that police interest in them was persecution and harassment, that they were targeted because they were Irish selectors and related to convicts, that they were innocent victims.  The facts show this to be an outright lie, a fiction, a cover-up. The facts, recorded in the newspapers and Court reports of the time prove that police interest in the Kelly clan came about because of the Kelly clans own unquestionably criminal behaviour – sexual assault, arson, infliction of grievous bodily harm – and shockingly, much of it on their own family members. We know that in every case the domestic violence that makes it to court is just the tip of a putrid ice-berg, and so no doubt it touched every corner of the Kelly world. The Kelly cover-up of their wretched drunken violent treatment of women, turns the stomach, especially when they repeat their claim thier troubles were all the fault of the police..

This was the environment that Ned Kelly grew up in – violence was the clan norm, and Ned Kelly was an enthusiast for it, boasting in the Jerilderie letter “I had a pair of arms and a bunch of fives on the end of them that never failed to peg out anything they came in contact with”. How utterly unsurprising that his first criminal charge, at the age of 15, was for assault. How utterly unsurprising that his last criminal act was an attempt at ultra-violence at Glenrowan, a police massacre. 

Sunday 22 April 2018

The rotten truth about the Kelly Clan

Everything widow Ellen Kelly and her family owned  was destroyed
in 1868 by Neds uncle James

One of the most popular Kelly ‘quotes’ is “Such is life” – which are supposed to be but are not Ned Kellys last words. Nobody is really sure if he ever said ‘such is life’ but experts agree they weren’t his last words.

Another favourite Ned Kelly quote is this one:

“If my lips teach the public that men are made mad by bad treatment, and if the police are taught that they may exasperate to madness men they persecute and ill-treat, my life will not have been thrown away. People who live in large towns have no idea of the tyrannical conduct of police far removed from court. They have no idea of the harsh over bearing manner in which they execute their duties, of how they neglect their duties and abuse their powers”

Hard to believe but Ned Kelly didn’t say these words either! They appeared in a pretend “Interview” written by Ned Kellys solicitor David Gaunson and published in the Age in August 1880. As soon as the interview was published it was spotted as fake, the language supposed to be the words of Ned Kelly being obviously very different from his usual vocab, and the mood much more reasonable than his usual tone of extreme hate and anger. It was really a kind of PR job by Gaunson, cleverly trying to manipulate public opinion and gain some much-needed sympathy for his murderous client. So even though the trick was seen through at the time you would have to say Gaunson succeeded because from that day till now, that quote for many people sums up the whole basis of the outbreak and justifies for many the outrages that Kelly had committed. Ian Jones wrote that they may not be Neds exact words but never-the-less he reckoned this ‘Interview’ was a ‘genuine expression of his views’. And I think he is right: Ned Kelly blamed the police for the outbreak. However, saying it was all the  fault of the police doesn’t make it so – all crims blame the police for their misfortune, and gaols are full of innocent people, if you believe what the inmates all claim. Ned Kelly was just another criminal and liar who blamed the police.

This week I am just going to point out a few more of the legion of facts that don’t fit with the Kelly apologists story.  This week I am focussing on the idea that the selectors were the innocent decent honest folk you saw in Ian Jones TV miniseries, and portrayed in all the children’s books about the Kelly story, that this great clan, the Kellys Lloyds and Quinns were poor but decent upstanding law abiding selectors. They weren’t. They were feral violent drunks who fought one another, took each other to court, associated with criminals and by their behaviour drew police attention to themselves.

So what follows is the report from the local newspaper, the Ovens and Murray Advertiser of the court case involving Ned Kellys uncle James. This man, James Kelly was Red Kellys brother. The report shows he was a vengeful drunk, said to be ‘seldom sober’ who didn’t take kindly to having his sexual advances on widow Ellen Kelly rejected.  They assaulted him by smashing a bottle of gin over his head. As you will read, in response he very nearly incinerated 13 children : “If it were not for the water they would never have got the children out alive.”

Its also interesting to read Ellen Kelly saying she and her sisters ( whose husbands were both in Gaol at this time for cattle stealing) “sometimes went and drank at O'Brien's house.”  This illustrates the sad drinking culture of these people – you might have thought after seeing what happened to her husband Red, so recently dead at a mere 46 years old from alcoholism she might have sworn off the drink….

Also, make note of Judge Redmond Barrys sentencing remarks. Kelly apologists always screw up when discussing James’ sentence of death, claiming it shows how the Judge had it in for the Kellys. It shows nothing of the sort, as the Judge himself points out in these remarks. ‘Death’ was a mandatory sentence – he had no choice in the matter, and well knew that on appeal it would be commuted to a lengthy gaol term. Which is what happened.

Reports like this are never discussed by the Kelly fanciers on their Facebook pages, or even in their books except perhaps in passing. Reports like this destroy the idea that the Clan was a fun family of upright but poor irish farmers who were harassed by police. What this shows with nauseating clarity is the clans drinking culture, their criminal lifestyles, their loose morals and their fondness for violence. There was no police harassment here. Its all just a great big pathetic and sad mess.

What this also shows is there’s no need to blame police persecution or squatter oppression for the Kellys poverty. It was all due to their alcohol fuelled lifestyle : it destroyed Red and his farms collapsed as a result, and not much more than a year after Reds death it resulted in Uncle James burning down the house and destroying everything the Kellys owned except the shirts on their back.

The Kelly fanciers who follow Ned Kellys lead and  blame everything on the police and the squatters are kidding themselves.

O&M 21st April 1868
James Kelly was charged with setting fire to a dwelling house at Greta, near Wangaratta. Mr F. Brown defended the prisoner.

Catherine Lloyd said she was the wife of William Lloyd. She lived at Greta ; knew prisoner. Their house was a wooden house, formerly an hotel. The plan produced was correct ; recollected 27th April. There were on that night in the house her sister, Mrs Kelly, and
thirteen children. The latter were in bed at the time of the fire. Saw prisoner that night ; he came to the house about 6 o'clock in the evening. He went away about 8, but again returned in a quarter of an hour with a bottle of gin, and went to her sister's room. He
was talking to her and asking her to take a glass ; she refused to take any. Ordered him out ; he did not say much. Shoved him out ; he said nothing. Her sister told witness that night something that prisoner said. They, all but the children, stayed up in consequence of that. They went out to look for prisoner about 12 o'clock, and found him lying asleep close by in the bush. They went back and remained up, as they were afraid of prisoner. Just after going to bed, between 1 and 2 o'clock, heard something like the crack of a paling pulled off a window ; went there and saw some person ; it was the prisoner. The window was on fire, and prisoner only a few yards from it ; could see him plainly by the light of the fire. Went back to save the children ; got a bucket of water but could not put out the fire. Succeeded in keeping the fire down among wheat in the room till they got all the children out. The whole place was burned down in an hour. Had lived there for years. Gave information to police about prisoner.

By Mr Brown : Lived there seven years. Mrs Kelly had seven children. Witness's husband was not living with her ; he was in jail. Knew prisoner two years, but he was not in the habit often of coming there. Did not see prisoner after the fire till with the police. Prisoner had no quarrel with any of them as far as she knew. She had been stopping at a public-house. but not with anyone. Her sister was in her own room, and Mrs Kelly with witness at the time of the fire. Called up Mr O' Brien, a neighbour, to help to save the children. If it were not for the water they would never have got the children out alive. Told O'Brien who set fire to the house. When Harrington brought prisoner next day, witness said " that is the man”.

Jane Lloyd, sister of last witness : Lived with her in the house burned down. Knew prisoner about two years. On the 27th January last he came to their house. About a week before that prisoner said he had three minds to burn the place. That was because they had shut him out before. This witness' evidence was otherwise corroborative of last witness' testimony.

By Mr Brown : Prisoner had been drinking. He was seldom sober. Ellen Kelly, sister of last two witnesses, and sister-in-law of prisoner, gave similar evidence to last witness.

By Mr Brown : Knew prisoner ten years ; he had done witness acts of kindness. He had sometimes stopped a few days. The day of the fire prisoner had given her boy a pair of trousers. The sisters sometimes went and drank at O'Brien's house.

Laurence O'Brien, a publican at Greta : He lived near where the house was burned down. Saw prisoner the night of the fire, he took a bottle of gin in the direction of Mrs Lloyd's. Prisoner was tipsy and seemed excited when he came back. He said he had a quarrel with the women at Mrs Lloyd's, and that one of them struck him with the bottle of gin, breaking it on him, and then turned him out. Advised him to go up the creek. He said he would not go till he had revenge for them striking him with the bottle. Gave him some gin, on condition he would not go back to the Lloyds. Did not see any more of him. About half-past one heard the scream of women and children, and saw the fire. Went down as quick as he could, but the whole place was quickly burned down.

By Mr Brown : There sometimes was a noise in the Lloyd's house. Richard O'Meara described himself as a musician.
His Honor asked him what instrument he played.
Witness : The violin, your Honor.
His Honor : Then perhaps you will allow me to write you down a fiddler.
Witness : Saw prisoner on the night of the fire. Saw prisoner chased by Mrs Kelly with a stick. Heard prisoner say he had a row with the Lloyds, and would have revenge. Prisoner was not sober, and he was not drunk. Detective Harrington had received information about the fire on the 28th of January : arrested prisoner in a shoemaker's house, Greta, before witness spoke, prisoner said, "I suppose you have come after me ; this is a most unfortunate affair." Mrs Lloyd immediately said, " That is the man that burnt the house." On the road to Wangaratta, prisoner said. " Can you keep a secret ?" Asked him " why." Well, he said. I'll say nothing till I see what they'll do, and if they put me in for it, I'll not go in alone. Searched him, found a quantity of loose matches in one of his pockets, and a box of wax matches in another. Prisoner appeared to have been drinking, but was quite sober.The place was completely burned down ,and the children all lying out in the bush.

Brown then addressed the jury for the defence, and His Honor very shortly. The jury, after about quarter of an hour's consultation, found the prisoner Guilty.

James Kelly, for arson, was then brought up for sentence. His Honor addressed prisoner in a very impressive manner, pointing out the enormity of the crime which, had it not been for the vigilance of the women they and their thirteen helpless children would have been hurried into eternity by a most dreadful death. The law, His Honor said, had not in such cases been made to correspond with that of England, where arson was no longer a capital offence, the colonial Legislature thinking he supposed, and no doubt wisely, that the heaviest penalty, might still be directed against a crime which, in a climate like this and with buildings of such combustible materials, might be attended with such appalling consequences. Had a single human life been sacrificed the prisoner would have been sentenced to death without hope of mercy, and even as it was the enormity of the crime compelled His Honor to mark it by recording a sentence of death against the prisoner, which would brand the prisoner for life as a felon. It would remain for the Executive, afterwards to deal with him,. Sentence of death was then recorded.”

Saturday 14 April 2018

Sentencing remarks

The great Judge Sir Redmond Barry

I wrote last week that one of the things I dislike more than anything about Kelly idolatry is that it encourages and supports disrespect and contempt for the police, both then and now.  Another specific thing that I find contemptible in the pro-Kelly community is the disrespect and contempt it directs towards Sir Redmond Barry. The lies that they repeat about this great man, and the contempt with which they lace any mentions of his name is quite sickening. Brad Webb finds it amusing, and can’t help himself mentioning as frequently as he can the entirely trivial fact that the statue of Barry outside the SLV, in common with every other statue in the entire world has bird shit on the top of it.  Small things amuse small minds.

But as always, Kelly apologists pronouncements about Sir Redmond display their hopeless ignorance of the historical truths, not just about Barry but about their own sad story. For example, no serious Kelly scholar – say, for example Ian Jones – believes that Barry announced at Ellen Kellys trial that if Ned Kelly was there he would have got 15 – or was it 20, or 25? – years for his involvement. But does that stop Kelly ignoramuses from saying it?

And they love to wring their hands at how the terrible Sir Redmond sentenced one of the many criminals that were Uncles of Ned Kelly, the drunken arsonist James Kelly, to death, ignorantly insisting this proves what a nasty hanging judge he was and how he had it in for the Kellys. The refutation of that claim has been in print for nearly 40 years but it hasn’t filtered through to any of them yet so they continue to repeat the lie. So dumb. (Hint : Read Graham Jones book The Larrikin Years – or if that’s too big an ask, read my Review of the book, posted on this blog in January, and bring yourself up to date )

Now you might be asking what’s prompted this outburst? Well, I just happened to come across a reference to a report from the Age, 20th November 1854, page 6 which records Barrys sentencing remarks in a murder trial, and they are reprinted here in full. (But you can use the link and read  the article itself if you like) Barrys remarks reveal him to be an amazingly humane and wise man, not just for his time. The reporters observation at the very end blew me away.

Saturday 18th November, 1854.
(Before His Honor the Acting Chief Justice, Redmond Barry, sitting in the New Court.)

The Attorney-General prosecuted for the Crown.

The Court was very densely crowded, it being understood the case of the Bentleys would be taken on this morning, charged, with others, with the murder of James Scobie, at Ballarat.

Luke Lucas, who was convicted on Friday of the capital offence of the murder of his wife, was brought up for sentence. The crier proclaimed strict silence, under pain of imprisonment.

The learned Judge then addressed the prisoner nearly as follows:

Luke Lucas you have been convicted by a jury of your countrymen of the wilful murder of your wife, Mary Lucas, and the short, consistent, and uncontradictory testimony upon which that verdict was founded leaves no doubt whatever of your guilt.

You yielded to an outburst of passion and cruelty, and in the very midst of this populous city, at nearly midday, with a bar of iron, you murdered your wife. Had but your hand been raised against your equal in strength it might have shown, at any rate, some degree of courage,—an act like that would have thrilled us with less horror; but you have raised it to slay your partner in life, and her whom you were bound by all ties to love and cherish and protect.

What can be said in extenuation of your crime? A crime committed by a man upon a woman, a husband upon a wife, a father on the mother of his children?

The learned counsel (Mr. Dawson) who volunteered your defence, has ably advocated you. He has tried all in his power to see if the witnesses for the Crown were speaking the language of truth, but the few and simple details showed there was no contradiction. He tried to reduce the crime to manslaughter, but failed.

That little child of yours, eight years of age, brought forward by your counsel to give evidence in your favour, might have benefited you much, but, by your own culpable negli-
gence, he has been deprived of giving that evidence that might possibly have saved his father. Let this hold up in strong light to all, especially to men in your class of life, the necessity of religious instruction; if not from the high and holy motives of religion, let it be for the welfare of the children themselves, lest when their own life and welfare and liberty should be at stake, instead of their young children being the artless advocates of truth, possibly to save them in that hour, they find them the speedy avengers of evil.

Let this case be set before and terrify all that are given to the habits in intemperance. The last crime of murder has sprung from the first crime of intemperance. To this vice a wife now owes her murder, a husband a speedy and retributive death, and these young children, left in ignorance and vice, possibly to want and suffering. If no other mode of reasoning will avail with the intemperate, let this terrify the drunkard: that the fate of Luke Lucas may one day be his; that the thirst for drink is the demon that urges them to inevitable ruin.

The recommendation of the Jury for mercy shall be duly forwarded to the Executive Council, but I can hold out to you no hope. I cannot interfere in your case, neither do I feel called on to do so. I would not pass upon you the sentence of death hastily, therefore I have submitted the whole of your case to a most painful retrospect. I feel and respect the opinion of the jury, because it yields to mercy. My opinion also is entitled to respect, and I believe yours is a case that demands a public example. How dare you arrogate to yourself the office of an avenger, to deal out such unproportionate retribution to a wife; prepare then for a death, not so sudden—not so severe—not so terrible as you have inflicted—prepare, I say, to stand at that bar where all of us shall meet our doom.

The sentence of the Court is; that you, Luke Lucas, be taken from the place from whence you came, and from thence to the place of execution, at such time as His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor may appoint, and there be hanged by the neck until you be dead, and may the Lord God in his infinite compassion have mercy on your guilty soul.

The learned Judge was deeply affected towards the conclusion of his address, so much so as to become inaudible, and large tears were coursing down his cheeks. The prisoner, who looked very pale, was then removed to the gaol.”