The Argus (17)

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The Argus continued with its reports of the KellyGang and Glenrowan.

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 The following are further particulars from Constable Bracken, which during the excitement of Monday he had not time to supply:- ‘When we were held prisoners in the hotel Ned Kelly began talking about politics. ‘There was one – in Parliament,’ he said, ‘whom he would like to kill, Mr Graves.’ I asked why he had such a desire, and he replied, ‘Because he suggested in Parliament that the water in the Kelly country should be poisoned, and that the grass should be burnt. I will have him before long.’ He knew nothing about Mr Service, but he held that Mr Berry was no – good as he gave the police a lot of money to secure the capture of the gang; too much by far. He then asked me, ‘What was the policeman’s oath?’ I replied, ‘That policemen were sworn to do their duty without malice or favour, and to deal even handed justice all round.’ He rejoined, ‘Constable ---, of Greta once told me that the oath was that a policeman had to lag any person, no matter whether it was father, mother brother, or daughter, if they were but arrested,’ He also asked if there were not 19 or 20 men in the force who were as great rogues as himself. I of course concurred with him. He then said, ‘We are just after shooting one – traitor,’ alluding to Aaron Sherritt,’ and we now want that – Detective Ward, but he is not game to show up. The next I want are those six little demons,’ alluding to the black trackers. ‘Then O’Connor and Hare. If I had them killed I would feel easy and contented.’ He questioned the ability of the blacks to track in the Victorian bush, and said he himself could track an emu in Queensland . The prisoners were then all called together, and Ned said, ‘If any of you ever hear or see any of us crossing the railway, or at any other place, and if the police should come and ask if you had seen any such party, you must say, ‘No; we saw nobody,’ and if I ever hear of any of you giving the police any information about us I will shoot you down like dogs. I do not mind a policeman doing his duty so long as he does not overdo it.’ I remarked that the police were only earning an honest living, and asked how he, if he was an honest man, could get on without them? He turned upon me, and demanded, ‘And am not I an honest man.’ I replied, ‘I’m dammed if you are,’ and nearly all laughed. Kelly next called a man named Sullivan before him, and said, ‘I have seen you somewhere else. Have you not been in Wangaratta lately.’ Sullivan replied in the affirmative Kelly then asked if he had ever been in New Zealand , and received a similar answer. ‘How long ago,’ he next asked, and Sullivan replied, ‘Ten or twelve years ago.’ In answer to other questions Sullivan said that he was in New Zealand when the notorious murders were committed there by strangling, but denied with truth that he was the Sullivan who turned Queen’s evidence on his mates, and who is understood to living in this district at present. Kelly then said to me, ‘₤8,000 has been offered for our capture. I promise to give you a similar amount if you tell me where that Sullivan is to be found, and the same amount for information as to where I can find Quinlan, the man who shot Morgan.’ Between 12 and 1 o’clock on Sunday morning one of Mrs Jones’s sons sang the Kelly song for the amusement of the gang, and his mother occasionally asked him to sing out louder. Most of the prisoners were then cleared from the front parlour and the gang had a dance. They danced a set of quadrilles, and Mr David Mortimer, brother in law of the school master, furnished the music with a concertina. Ned Kelly had the girl Jones for a partner, Dan Kelly had Mrs Jones, and Byrne and Hart danced with male prisoners. Thinking they heard a noise outside the gang broke away from the dance abruptly, and Dan went outside. It was at this time that I secured the key of the door. Doubling up my trousers at the feet. I placed the key in the fold, and when I heard the special arrive I raised my leg, picked out the key stealthily, unlocked the door, and bounded away. When the train was heard stopping Kelly said, ‘You will see some play now, boys. We will shoot them all.’ When the constable’s escape was discovered Byrne, who noticed it first, exclaimed, ‘let me but catch him, and I will make bracken of him.’


The prisoners heard Byrne fall at the bar when he was shot. He dropped down dead without uttering a word and the bullet must have entered at the bar window. A difference of opinion exists, however, as to the hour of his death. Some say that he fell at daylight, others that it was about 9 o’clock in the morning. At 10 o’clock , when the prisoners made their escape in a body, they saw Dan Kelly and Hart standing in the passage fairly cowed. They looked gloomy and despairing, and said nothing to the prisoners as they left. The gang had all been drinking, and Ned has stated that he took too much liquor. His idea was that he and Byrne should clear away from the hotel after the first attack unobserved, that Dan and Hart should remain; that in the morning he and Byrne should return and charge the police, who, he argued would then leave the hotel and engage them, and that Dan and Hart should then sally forth and take the police in the rear. He accordingly called on Byrne to follow him into the bush, but Byrne’s courage failed and he declined.

The trees behind which Kelly stood when fighting in the morning are all pierced with bullets and slugs, and the place where he fell is saturated with blood. He had evidently passed the night under a fallen tree a little further up the rise, for there were found the marks of his feet and much blood.

The boy Jones has died at Wangaratta. He was shot when lying on the ground in one of the bedrooms. The bullet is said to have come through the wall entered at his thigh, and passed into his body. Cherry was shot early in the morning, and his wound was dressed by some of his prisoners. None of Ned Kelly’s wounds are of a deadly character. What were supposed to be shot marks in the groin are, Dr Nicholson states, only grazings. The charred remains of Dan Kelly and Hart were handed over to their friends, and taken to Mrs Skillion’s place at Greta, and are there now. John Grant, undertaker, of Wangaratta, was employed by their friends to provide coffins of a first class description, the cost being a matter of no consequences. He arrived with them in a buggy at Glenrowan yesterday afternoon, and they were seen to be high priced articles. The lid of the one has lettered “Daniel Kelly, died 28 th June 1880 , aged 19 years,” and the other “Stephen died 28 th June 1880 , aged 21.years.” How the remains are to be distinguished from each other is a problem that will not be easily solved. During the afternoon Inspector Sadlier telegraphed ……… so that the local police were on no account to be interfered with until the magisterial inquiries were held ……. Were at once taken to …… out these instructions. The inquest on the body of the unfortunate Sherritt will be held to morrow (Wednesday.) at Benalla



In the morning Captain Standish intimated his intention in holding a magisterial inquiry upon the bodies of Byrne and Cherry some time during the day but after wards it was decided to hold the inquiry upon the body of Byrne alone, and hold an inquest upon Cherry’s body. Mr Robert McBean JP, was called upon to officiate, and the inquiry took place in the court house. The proceedings were some what of a formal nature, but little evidence being required. So quietly was the whole affair disposed of, that no one was made aware of it, and the courthouse was almost empty, two or three of the police and some others who were at the courthouse at the time constituting the audience. Captain Standish sat upon the bench with Mr McBean, and assisted in conducting the inquiry.

Thos. M’Intyre, police constable stationed at Melbourne stated that he was one of the party who went out in search of the outlaws from Mansfield in October, 1878. On the 26 th of the same month they encountered the Kellys and Hart and Byrne. He identified the body as being that of the outlaw Joseph Byrne, who was one of the gang that shot Constables Kennedy, Scanlan, and Lonigan on that date.

Louis Pyatzer, a contractor, who was one of those present at the capture of the gang on Monday last, stated that he was compelled by them to enter and remain in Mrs Jones’s Hotel at Glenrowan. He identified the body as being that of Joseph Byrne, the outlaw, who was one of the gang, Byrne assisted the Kellys in resisting the police.

Edward Canny, police constable, stationed at Benalla, said that he had known Joseph Byrne at the Woolshed and other places for over eight years. The body now in the possession of the police was that of Byrne, the outlaw, who was one of the Kelly gang of bushrangers.

Inspector Sadleir produced the proclamation issued in the Government Gazette in October and December last, offering ₤4,000 for the capture of the gang of outlaws, consisting of Edward Kelly, Daniel Kelly, Joseph Byrne and Stephen Hart – the two latter, were at first stated to be men by the name of King and Brown, but were afterwards known to be Hart and Byrne. He also produced the proclamation issued in the New South Wales Government Gazette, offering a similar reward for the capture of the gang. He stated that the rewards were to be withdrawn at the end of the present month, but as the gang had been captured before that time the reward was still in force.

This concluded the evidence taken in the matter, and a verdict of justifiable homicide was returned by Mr McBean in the following terms:_ ‘The outlaw Joseph Byrne whose body was before the Court and in the possession of the police, was shot by them whilst in the execution of their duty.’ The body was subsequently handed over to the friends of the outlaw, who were waiting in Benalla to receive it; and they conveyed it to Greta. They intend to bury it with the bodies of Hart and Dan Kelly in the Wangaratta cemetery, after the magisterial inquiry upon the latter has been held.


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