The Argus at KellyGang 30/10/1878 (5)

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The Mansfield outrage has excited the greatest alarm and apprehension. The whole district is in a fever of excitement. Senior-constable Irvine started away from Alexandra this morning for Mansfield , having received orders to proceed to the scene of the outrage with all haste.



On the news being received in Benalla there was no hesitation in ascribing the murderous deed to the notorious Kellys, who for some months past have lived in a state of outlawry. At the last Beechworth assizes the mother of the criminals, together with Skillion (a brother-in-law) and Williamson, alias “Brickey,” a fellow who was living with the Kellys, and was about to marry the second daughter (sister to Ned and Dan Kelly), were tried for being accomplices in the crime of attempting to murder Constable Fitzpatrick. Mrs Kelly, a notoriously bad woman, got three years imprisonment, and the other two prisoners six years’ each, and they are now in Pentridge. If the crime which has so shocked the community be the act of the Kellys, it may, in part, be accepted as the revengeful answer of desperate men to the officers of the law for bringing their relations and friends to punishment for their misdeeds. The Kelly family are notorious in this district, and their names are familiar as household words. The father (a man of ill-repute) died some years ago, leaving the widow (now in Pentridge), the two sons Edward and Daniel, and four girls. The house of the family has been the rendezvous of thieves and criminals for years past, and indeed has been the centre of a system of crime that almost surpasses belief. They lived on the Eleven-mile-Creek between Winton and Greta, and there can be no doubt made a living by horse-stealing and theft generally. They were surrounded by neighbours of the same bad reputation, and it was notorious that to obtain evidence, or arrest the accused, owing to the network of confederates for miles around, was almost impossible.

The scoundrels were principally engaged in horse-stealing, a work that, owing to the poor police protection afforded in the district between their haunts and the Murray, could be carried on with impunity. It was the habit of the gang to steal horses wholesale for scores of miles around, and cross the Murray with them, and there, among the “old hands” and settlers, “swop” or sell them. This profitable trade was carried on for years, but the outrage upon Constable Fitzpatrick, the outlawry, of the brothers Kelly, and the consignment of a batch of the horse-stealers to Pentridge, appeared to have broken up the unlawful business, and the district began to breathe freely after being relieved of a terrible incubus, when word came of this daring crime, only a score or two of miles away.

Edward Kelly is notorious as having been arrested in the year 1870 as an accomplice of the notorious Harry Power. Power had the Kellys, Quinns, and others of the notorious “Greta Mob,” as it was termed, for accomplices, if not actually in his pay, and it was they whom he blames for “selling him.” In the Vagabound Papers we find him taking “The Vagabond” into his confidence and stating. “I always was stuck for want of a mate. There’s young Kelly was with me for a time, but he was no good, and helped to sell me at last. They say that he or one of the Quinns was dressed up as a black tracker to deceive me. God will judge them for taking blood-money.” And again, the notorious scoundrel Power describes how the Quinns sold him after he had paid the whole family well, and how he resisted the temptation to harm their daughter. In the centre of the country where Power carried on his nefarious crimes were the two Kellys, who, not satisfied with highway robbery, have now apparently added to their crimes a double or triple murder. Of course the Kellys had numerous friends who were capable of taking to the road. Daniel, the younger Kelly, not long since served three months in gaol for breaking into a house with the Lloyds, his cousins, and one of the latter was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment for indecently assaulting a woman in the house.  


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