The Complete Inner History of the KellyGang and their Pursuers (12)
By the Commission.-"What was the charge on which they were arrested?" -"For aiding and abetting Ned Kelly with shooting with intent to murder Constable Fitzpatrick."
By the Commission.-"Had Mrs Kelly an infant with her when you arrested her?"
Sergeant Steele.-"I do not think so; I think not at the time. I think she had a child in gaol if I recollect rightly."
Mrs. Kelly was arrested by Steele at 1 o'clock in the morning of April 17, 1878 , although he could have arrested her early in the afternoon of April 16 and taken her with her very young baby in her arms to Benalla. He took her in a dray a journey of 15 miles before daylight on a bitterly cold morning. In his evidence, Sergeant Steele said:-"We took Williamson, Skillion and Mrs Kelly to Greta (four miles), and then brought them on to Benalla (15 miles) in a dray. They were remanded from time to time, and committed for the offence with which they were charged."
Mr. Frank Harty, a prosperous and well-known farmer, proffered bail for Mrs Kelly, but immediately bail was refused.
This occurred in the British Colony of Victoria, and not in a foreign country controlled by savages.
Mr Wm Williamson, on hearing that Mr. J J Kenneally had undertaken to see that, at last, justice should he done to him and others concerned, wrote the following letter, which speaks for itself:-
Mr J J Kenneally
Dear Sir,-I am sending you under separate cover a photo of myself. I would like it returned as soon as possible; it is the only photo of myself.
I would like to give you an account of my arrest. In the police evidence they said they arrested me at Kelly's (house). I was arrested at my own select after coming in from a hard day's splitting, fully half a mile from Kellys (house). They (the police) only came for information and I refused to give them any. When they could get nothing out of me, Sergeant Steele said, "Put a pair of handcuffs on him." One of them went inside and turned the hut over looking for firearms. The milking cow was lying down near the hut; they were listening to her chewing her cud. They (the police, Sergeant Steele and Constable Brown) thought it was one of the Kellys. One of them covered me with a revolver, although I was already handcuffed. He told me afterwards that he nearly shot me, as he intended to have one. They arrested us one at a time, although they could have taken us all together.
After we were sentenced, Fitzpatrick was escorting us to the gaol. He had a handkerchief to his eyes, and said, "Well, Billy, I never thought you would get anything like that." I was released after the Royal Commission; whether Fitzpatrick had anything to do with that, I don't know.
I had sent a written statement of facts to the Commission. Some time after I was told that I was granted a pardon; that was worse than the sentence. I was granted a pardon for a thing I did not do. You cannot be surprised at anything the police would do, as they were only the offsprings of old "lags." The judge never read the evidence; he got it all out of the papers before the trial. The papers had us already convicted. When he (Judge Barry) was summing up to the jury, he said, "Well, gentlemen, you all know what this man Kelly is." But they (the jury) were a long time before they came in with their verdict.
Ned (Kelly) sent word to us to hang something out of the window of the cells we were in, and he would come and stick up the gaol and rescue us. But I did not like the idea of it, and persuaded Skillion not to have anything to do with it. I felt sorry for poor Skillion, as he did not even know what he was arrested for. But I blame myself for Skillion being arrested, as he was mistaken for Burns. I pulled Burns back in the dark, when he was going into Fitzpatrick's presence at Kelly's Homestead after the brawl. Had I let Burns go forward, Skillion would not have been in trouble. When arrested, the police gave me a horse to ride which they could not ride themselves. They (the police) put me on it handcuffed. It gave a couple of bucks and then bolted. I was getting away from them (the police), and they threatened me with a revolver if I did not pull the horse up. It was pitch dark. I don't know if they fired or not; anyhow, they never hit me. They got me to Greta, and I believe they would have let me go then had I given them any evidence. The next one they brought in was Skillion, who said, "They cannot do anything to me, I am innocent." But they did, all the same. Then they brought two more in-Ned Kelly's mother and Alice King, the baby-the only one they didn't lay a charge against. It was then some time near the morning. You may use this as you like, and publish any part you like.-Yours faithfully,
(Signed ) WILLIAM WILLIAMSON.
On June 6, about seven weeks after her arrest, the following paragraph appeared in the Beechworth paper:-
"A day or two since Mr W H Foster (police magistrate) attended at the Beechworth Gaol and admitted to bail this woman who had been committed for trial for aiding and abetting in an attempt to murder Constable Fitzpatrick at Greta. It was an act of charity, as the poor woman, though not of the most reputable of characters, had a babe in her arms, and in the cold gaol, without a fire, it is a. wonder the poor little child lived so long during this bitter wintry weather."
This document gives you the text of this book about the KellyGang. The text has been retyped from a copy of the original. We have taken care to reproduce this document but areas of the original text may been damaged. We also apologise for any typographical errors. JJ Kenneally was one of the first authors to tell this story from the KellyGang's point of view
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