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Margaret Mildred Skillion (Skillian) (Skilling) was one of Ned Kelly's sister
Links to the KellyGang , Early Years , Marriage ,Fitzpatrick Incident , Gold Mining , Deaths at Stringy Bark Creek , Escape North , Euroa Robbery , Jerilderie Robbery , Later in 1879 , Early in 1880 , Death of Aaron Sherritt , Glenrowan Siege , Ned Kelly's Committal Hearing , Loss of my home , Tom Lloyd, Royal Commission , Later Family ,
father Red Kelly mother Ellen Quinn brothers and sisters Mary Jane, Anne 11/53, Edward (Ned) 12/54, Margaret (Maggie) 57, James 59, Daniel (Dan) 61, Catherine (Kate) 63, Grace 8/65, half brother and sisters Ellen 74, John 75, Alice 78 husbands William Skillion, Tom Lloyd children William Skillion - Ellen, James (b1877 ' Tom Lloyd ' - Anne (b1881), Edward (Ned) (b1882), Catherine (b1883), John (b1885), Thomas (b1886), Mary (b1887), Maude (b1888), Lilian (b1890), Rose (b1891), Mildred (b1892), Albert 'Sonny' (b1894). Photograph
Links to the KellyGang
Early years Born at Beveridge on 15/6/1857
Were we sued by James Dixon for debt as pay back (Ensign7/3/1873)
I married Bill Skillion in 15/9/1873. Ellen was born in 1874.
Our son James was born on 8 Jun 1877.
I was not at home on the night of the incident with the rest of the family. Mother's arrest My mother was arrested within 2 days of Fitzpatrick's visit to her home. She and my dear husband William were charged with the attempted murder of Fitzpatrick even though William was not present.
People can make jokes about others in distress. On the night of 25/4/1878 Kate and I were coming home from our mothers court hearing in Benalla. Hear what those smug police told the Royal Commission
'When about two miles from Winton, on the Greta road, and about four miles from 's residence, we found a dray, and two bags of flour and other articles, without a horse, in the middle of the road. We searched round and found Mrs. Skillian and Kate Kelly sitting on a log. They were wet through, having very light clothes on. We went up and spoke to them. They said they were benighted, and could not find their way home-it was too dark. I had a flask with some whisky in it. I gave some to Kate Kelly. She drank it.'- Det Ward with Const Strahan (RC3039)
While I know all of the rest of my family suffered terribly, I lost William. I don't know what happened. He may have thought that we, the Kellys and the KellyGang let him down. Six years in goal for something that you did not do is a very long time. It was too much for us. See also (JJK)
Well what to do. I decided that the family had to stay together. I effectively became the head of the family with Kate and Grace. We had to look after Ellen John and eventually Alice. Then of course my boys, KellyGang, had to be fed and I must not forget the work of keeping the police guessing. That involved a lot of hard riding through the bush.
As time went by a few loyal friends dropped by to help. They knew that they could be arrested for being sympathizers. I am very grateful to people like Tom Lloyd and Wild Wright who supported us during that terrible time that lasted until well after Ned Kelly's death.
See also the Jerilderie Letter
Deaths at the Stringy Bark Creek in the Wombat Ranges After the murders the KellyGang came and lived closer to home and were looked after by my sister Kate and many of our friends. Instead of making a proper effort to catch the boys the police harassed we girls. This is part of what the KellyGang said about the police's treatment of us during this time in the Cameron Letter:
'they used to repeatedly rush into the house revolver in hand upset milk dishes, empty the flour out on the ground, break tins of eggs, and throw the meat out of the cask on to the floor, and dirty and destroy all the provisions, which can be proved and shove the girls in front of them into the rooms like dogs and abuse and insult them. Detective Ward and Constable Hayes took out their revolvers and threatened to shoot the girls and children, while Mrs Skillion was absent, the oldest being with her, the greatest murderers and ruffians would not be guilty of such an action.'
The police tried to follow me when I took food to the boys in the bush, but any person accustomed to bush will know you cannot follow them if they are on horseback, because you have to follow on horseback, and if you let them out of sight, unless you have trackers, you have to gallop up, and the chances are you come out right on before them, and they discover you before you are aware of them. Sup Hare described about me being discovered sitting on a log by the police. They never followed me to the KellyGang.(RC1892) see also (RC2926)
I had a horse called White Foot. (RC1915)
As time went by Kate and I took turns to buy extra food in Benalla. We baked bread and cooked for the boys. I vowed that the KellyGang would never starve while I was around and that I would never be caught by the police however hard they tried to follow me through the bush. Some say that I am a good rider. I am a Kelly. The police never managed to follow me to the boys. (RC 2nd reportVIII)
I also co ordinated the intelligence flow. Our friends gave us a great deal of information about the police movements, particularly when they had to turn up at the railway stations to catch trains. (FH) (FH) (FH)
The police were concerned that our dogs warned us when they were snooping around the place looking for the boys. The pigs even baited our dogs but we solved the problem by muzzelling our dear friends. (FH) (JJK)
I went down to Melbourne to bring dear Alice home (Alexandra7/6/!879)
Read my evidence (OMA29/7/79)
Early in 1880 I am sure that you all know of the harassment suffered by Mrs Byrne and the assistance the police received from Aaron Sherritt. From very early on the police kept up a watch of my place. In a real way I was number one suspect. But Const Arthur thought that Aaron was working for the KellyGang and passing messages to them through me (RC11108)
Glenrowan Siege 28/6/1880 Ned Kelly captured
I got to the hotel some time after Ned Kelly had been arrested. The police asked me to get my brother Dan and Steve Hart to give themselves up. Can you imagine it. Give up to the mercy of the law; NEVER.
I was dressed for this great day. I had on a black riding habit, with a red underskirt, and white Gainsborough hat. I had hoped for victory. If that was not the case, I was determined that the Kellys would go down with pride. After Ned was captured the police gave me an opportunity to have a few words with him. Of course they were not in private, even the press was there to report our conversation. Can you imagine it; he had was dying. (Argus29/6/80)
Meeting with Ned Kelly
The police let me see my brother Ned, but the meeting was more like a press conference than an opportunity to say good bye to a dying man. (Argus29/6/80)
SConst Kelly asked me if I would not go to the hotel and advise my brother to surrender. I said I would sooner see them burned first, but she would like to have an interview with her brother before he died. (RC10405)
Rev Gibney had an interview with me. He asked me to do the police's business and get my brother to surrender. SConst Kelly said, "You had better come round with me to see Mr. Sadleir." We walked round the Benalla side, close to the railway, and I then walked towards the hotel, and was ordered by the police to stop, or they would fire at me. I stopped, and a few minutes after Const Johnson take a bundle of straw to the Benalla side of the hotel, and set fire to it. (RC10406) see also (RC12302) (FH)
Setting fire to my Brother
Const Johnson was going to set fire to the hotel I strode up to the building. My object in trying to reach the hotel was to see if our brave boys were still alive. The police, however, ordered me to stop. I obeyed the order, but very reluctantly and, standing still called out that some of the police were ordering me to go on and others to stop. (Argus29/6/80) See also (Age29/6/80) (JJK)
Eventually, when I realized that the police were not prepared to let me help or even to given an opportunity to say good bye with dignity, I went over to where some of friends were standing on the west side of the house and waited for the fire to go out. We could see the boys roasting. Some of those -- were even taking joy in what was happening.
The great plan was at an end. Dan was dead, Ned was in the tender clutches of the authorities. Our friends Joe Byrne and Steve Hart were also dead. Many of our friends who had heard Ned's dream felt let down and there was nothing that I could do to help. (DailyTelegraph29/6/80) (Herald29/6/80) (Herald29/6/80) (Argus8/7/80)
The only thing left was in the short term to express my rage, bury the boys and then get ready to defend Ned, even though everybody knew that the authorities were going to use him to further destroy my family.
' 'Ned Kelly's Committal Hearing' ' After we buried my dear brother Dan and his good friend Steve Hart it was time to get ready to defend Ned. Most people just knew that the authorities were going to make sure of his fate, but I could not give up hope. The trouble was time and money. As soon as they were sure that Ned was going to live the police wasted no time in getting ready for his committal hearing. There was nothing like legal aid at that time and it was even hard to get to see Ned. He was in the Melbourne Gaol were our mother was being held and even when we could get down there the authorities gave us little time alone with him to work out a plan for his defense.
On Friday 30 Tom Lloyd and I came down to Melbourne and we briefed David Gaunson to defend Ned Kelly. While were down in Melbourne the authorities moved Ned's committal from Melbourne up to Beechworth. I think they were just making difficult for us. (Argus2/8/80)
I attended the start of Ned Kelly's committal with Tom Loyd but after lunch Tom and I went home to relieve Kate who was looking after the children (Herald8/8/80) (Age9/8/1880) (Argus9/8/80) (Argus9/8/80) (Herald11/8/1880)
All of the events got to us. My husband Bill, who had been imprisoned over the Fitzpatrick incident when he was not even there, was very bitter. At the same time I had fallen in love with Tom Lloyd. We had been through a lot together and I had come to rely on him
' ' 'Loss of my home' ' After all that had happened the authorities kicked me once more and took my home. The place where I had fought to keep the boys alive from the time when Fitzpatrick came into our lives and the place where we had said a final good bye to my brother Dan and his mate Steve. I had wanted to mortgage it to assist with Ned's defence at his trial but the bastards had stolen it from me. (Age16/10/80)
' ' 'Tom Lloyd' ' But all was not lost Tom Lloyd was a good friend and we decided to make a go of it together. I think we did a pretty good job of it.
Those bastards had taken my William off to Melbourne and put him in Pentridge.
' ' ' ' ' ' ' 'What happend to my family' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' Let the KellyGang ride free'
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