Royal Commission second Report Part I (page 4)

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The Royal Commission Second Report -Part I


Amongst the many predisposing causes which operated to bring about the Kelly outbreak must be included the unchecked aggregation of a large class of criminals in the North-Eastern district of Victoria, all of whom, either by the ties of consanguinity or sympathy, were identified with the outlaws. The origin and settlement in the colony of the Kelly family deserves some passing notice at the hands of your Commissioners. James Quin, the grandfather of Edward and Dan Kelly the outlaws, was a native of the County of Antrum , Ireland . With his wife and family, consisting of six children, he arrived in Victoria in 1839. He, in the first instance, resided in Pascoe Vale, and earned a subsistence by the cartage and sale of firewood in Melbourne . In 1845, he settled in Wallan Wallan, in the Kilmore district, where he rented a small farm, and was enabled in the course of a few years to purchase the freehold of 700 acres of land in that locality. In 1863, by which time his family had increased to ten children, four sons and six daughters, he realized the landed property which he possessed, and with the proceeds, amounting to about £2,000, took up the Glenmore run, situate in a remote part of the North-Eastern district. The precise object of this migration has not been ascertained; but it is believed that Quin, having become notorious as a cattle stealer in the Kilmore district, was desirous of escaping from police surveillance; and, by removing back to the borders of settlement and civilization, to secure for himself and his associates a safer and more extended field of operations. The sons of old Quin were named respectively - Patrick, John, James and William; the daughters were - Mary Anne; Catherine, married to John Lloyd; Ellen, married to John Kelly, the father of the outlaws; Jane, married to Tom Lloyd; Margaret, married to Pat Quin; and Grace. Numerous progeny was the result of the marriages contracted by the children of the elder Quin, which accounts for the Kelly family being described as the most prolific in the district. James, the third son of old Quin, became an object of interest to the police so far back as 1856; and from that date down to 1879, when he was incarcerated under the Felons Apprehension Act as a Kelly sympathizer, there were recorded against him no less than 16 arrests, and ten convictions for various offences, many of them of a serious nature, involving terms of imprisonment amounting to about nine years. John Quin, though frequently before the courts, has escaped conviction, but when residing at Wallan Wallan he was regarded by the authorities as the organizer of many of the depredations in which the members of his family were concerned. John Kelly, who married Ellen, the third daughter of the elder Quin, and who was the father of the outlaws, was a convict, having been transported from Tipperary , Ireland , to Tasmania , in 1841, for an agrarian outrage, stated to have been shooting at a landlord with intent to murder. He worked as a bush carpenter for a time after arriving in Wallan Wallan, and subsequently turned his attention to gold digging, at which he was successful, and was enabled to purchase a small freehold at Beveridge. Here he became notorious as an expert cattle stealer, and his house was known as the rendezvous of thieves and suspected persons. In 1865, he was convicted of cattle stealing, and sentenced to six months' imprisonment in Kilmore gaol. He died shortly after his release. At his death he left seven children, namely, Edward and Dan (the outlaws), James, Mrs Gunn, Mrs Skillion, Kate and Grace. Mrs Kelly, upon the death of her husband, settled at Eleven-mile Creek, near Greta, where, with the younger portion of her family, she at present resides. Her place was regarded for years as the resort of lawless and desperate characters, including Power, who is said to have given Ned Kelly his first lesson in bushranging. Edward Kelly, the leader of the outlaws, was born in 1854, at Wallan Wallan, and from an early age was regarded by the police as an incorrigible thief. In company with Power the bushranger be, on the 16th of March 1870, robbed Mr. McBean; and on the 25th of April stuck up Mr. John Murray, of Lauriston. Kelly was arrested for the latter offence on the 4th of May following, but escaped conviction owing to want of identification. He was implicated in several outrages; and at Beechworth, in 1871, he received a sentence of three years for receiving a stolen horse. He led a wild and reckless life, and was always associated with the dangerous characters who infested the neighborhood of Greta until the shooting of Constable Fitzpatrick, on the 15 th of April 1878 , when he took to the bush. Daniel Kelly was born in 1861, and from the age of 16 years was, with his elder brother Ned, a noted criminal. Joseph Byrne, the third outlaw, was born in 1857, and lived with his parents, who were of Irish extraction and respectable antecedents, at the Woolshed, about seven miles from Beechworth. When 16 years of age he was in trouble, and from the first appears to have developed vicious and cruel propensities. In 1876, along with Aaron Sherritt, who figures so prominently throughout the Kelly campaign, so to speak, and with whom he was on terms of the closest intimacy, he was arrested and sentenced to six months' imprisonment for having stolen meat in his possession; and he was also believed to have been connected with numerous cases of horse stealing in the North-Eastern district, which ultimately led to his joining the Kelly gang. Steve Hart, the fourth member of the gang, was born in 1860, and was the second son of Richard Hart, of Three-mile Creek, near Wangaratta. Stephen, at an early age, became the associate of disreputable persons, and carried on a system of stealing horses and planting them until such time as rewards were offered by the owners for their recovery. He received a sentence of imprisonment in July 1877, and subsequently was sent to gaol for ten months for horse stealing. On his release he returned to Wangaratta, and for a time appeared disposed to lead a more honest and reputable life. One day, however, while at work cutting timber, he suddenly threw down his axe, exclaiming to his mate, "A short life and a merry one." He then rode off, stating that he was going to New South Wales . Nothing further was heard of him until the murders of the police at the Wombat, when it was reported that a man answering to his description was seen near Greta; but it was not until the Euroa bank robbery that his identity was established as one of the accomplices of the murderers, Ned and Dan Kelly. .....

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