Ned Kelly: His story will never truly be known
By Ned Jessop
Ned Kelly's story will never truly be known. I, one hundred percent undoubtedly believe this statement to be true. Ned Kelly is one of the big parts of Australian history and almost everyone knows about him and yet the story of his life is shrouded by mystery. Let's find out why.
There are many stories of what happened in Ned Kelly's life and each one is usually quite different from the other. For example in the "Fitzpatrick Incident," Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick claimed Ned was there at the time and had attacked him. On the other hand, Ned told police in an interview before his execution that he was 200 miles from home at the time of the incident.
Another example of confusion of the events in Ned Kelly's life is that after the killings at Stringybark Creek, many people spread rumours that Ned was a cold blooded killer and had shot the policemen as soon as he saw them. Ned claimed that he gave the policemen a chance to surrender and drop their arms and that he would never shoot a man with his hands up. According to Ned, all of the three policemen tried to pull their guns or jump for cover behind trees or logs, so he was forced to shoot them.
Out of the many stories told, the police's stories were almost always believed whether they were true or not. This unfair system mixed with the police's hate of the Kelly's made life hard for them and usually they received much more severe punishments than other people when they did something wrong. The courts and media always changed and twisted around the stories told by the Kelly family so their stories were never truly heard. For example the "Jerilderie Letter," a long letter written by Ned describing his life, was given to a journalist to publish but only excerpts of the 7,391 word document were published. Kelly had previously sent a 20 page letter to a member of parliament, but again, only a synopsis of the letter was published.
As you can see, due to lies, mistakes and biased stories, the tale of Ned Kelly will probably never be known.
2. Killings at Stringybark Creek
After the "Fitzpatrick Incident" Ned and Dan went into hiding and they were later joined by the rest of the gang. Police heard where the gang was hiding and dispatched two parties to capture the gang. After making camp in the forest, two of the men from the second party left to explore the creek. The other two policemen were making tea when they were ambushed by the Kelly's. One surrendered but the other tried to escape and was shot dead. The gang then searched the camp. Once the other two men came back they were surrounded, one surrendered but the other tried to run and was shot. While the gang where dealing with the two policemen, the man who first surrendered snuck away before jumping on the nearest horse and riding off. He managed to make it all the way home. He reported his story to an inspector. The next day the inspector, the policeman and 8 townspeople set out for the camp. The tent had been burnt down and most of the items had been stolen or destroyed. They also found the bodies of two policemen but not the third. Three search parties later the body of the last policeman was found. As the result of these killings the reward for the capture of the Kelly gang was raised to 500 pounds and the gang was officially outlawed.
My brother and I had to seek refuge in the Wombat Ranges after the incident with Fitzpatrick. We've been out here for a few days now. We had recently sighted a group of four police camping a few kilometers away from our camp. Once the group had split, I decided we would move in. We ran in with our guns at the ready and forced them to surrender. The first one was smart enough to do so, but the second one tried to make a run for it. I shot him before he took two steps."What a fool," I thought to myself "I would have let him live." We then searched the camp and found some guns and food. The gang and I then split up around the camp waiting for the other two policemen to come back. When they reached the camp I shouted for them to drop their weapons and surrender. Again the one of them did and the other didn't. The second one managed to run and seek shelter behind a tree, but I managed to shoot him and he was dead in a matter of seconds. I heard a noise behind me and turned to see the first policeman jump on a horse and ride away. We fired shots at him but weren't able to hit him. We then went back to the camp and dealt with the last policeman before packing our things and leaving, for we knew the police would come back.
It was decided by the police that two search parties would be sent out to try find the gang. Scanlon, Lonigan, Kennedy, and I all hiked through forest for hours before reaching our campsite. We set up then went to sleep. The next day Kennedy and Scanlon went to explore the creek. Later on that day Lonigan and I had been sitting round the fire making tea when the Kelly gang charged in with guns at the ready and told us to surrender. I surrendered instantly, fearing for my life but Lonigan tried to run. Kelly fired, Lonigan fell. I looked away in horror when I looked back I could plainly see that poor Lonigan was dead. The gang then searched the camp and stole most of our guns and food. I then had a conversation with Ned about what he was planning to do. He told me that he would not kill me and that he wanted me to convince my comrades to surrender. When Scanlon and Kennedy arrived back at the camp I told them to surrender. At the same time, the gang jumped out of hiding with their guns pointed. Kennedy obliged and dropped his gun. Scanlon tried to shelter behind a nearby tree but Kelly shot him. While this was happening I realized this was my chance. I jumped on the nearest horse and rode away as fast as I could. The gang fired shots at me but they didn't hit. I rode for many miles before my horse got to tired. I then hid until dark, I then walked 20 miles home. I explained my story to an inspector and went and rested. The next morning the inspector, eight other town folk and I, set out to find the camp. Most of the items had been stolen and the tent had been burnt down. We then found the bodies of Scanlon and Lonigan. There were another two search parties before Kennedy's body was found.
A map of Glenrowan- The place where Ned Kelly was caught