The Complete Inner History of the KellyGang and their Pursuers (73)

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Very Rev Dean Gibney gave evidence on oath before the Royal Commission on June 28, 1881, as follows: -

Question by the Commission. - What are you?—I am the Vicar General of the Roman Catholic Church in Western Australia. (RC12290)

Question — We just want the few things you know yourself at Glenrowan. — Yes.

Question — Do you remember the taking of the Kellys at Glenrowan? — I came there by train.  I do not know the exact hour the train arrived, but I believe it was the first ordinary train from Melbourne. I was staying at Kilmore the previous night and started then with the train.

Question — It would be about twelve o’clock? — Coming on twelve, I think.

Question — Did you take any particular notice of what was going on at the time? — I had not heard previous to my getting into the train of the Kelly capture or that the police had found them, but when I came to Benalla I was told there that Kelly was taken, that he was wounded, that the others were stuck up at a place which I could not remember the name then—that was Glenrowan.  I inquired myself if there was a Catholic clergyman there, and I was told no; and then I made up my mind if there was not I would stop to attend first to Kelly, and then to any others I might be called on to.

Question — You were a witness of what occurred after twelve o’clock? — I was a good deal of the time.

Question — Where were you principally stopping? — I made my way into where Ned Kelly was lying.  I understood he was in a dying state at the time.

Question — That was in the station? — Yes.

Question — Did you notice anything that occurred at Mrs Jones’ hotel? — I observed that the police stationed round were firing into the hotel just as the train came up; in fact, the firing seemed to be then vigorously carried on.

Question — All round? — All round.  It took me some considerable time to get into where Ned Kelly was lying.  There seemed to be a great press of people about the windows and door, curiously trying to see him; but I think one there was Dr Nicholson, to whom I am very thankful for the manner in which he assisted me to get to Kelly, and attended to any call now and then when, as I thought, Kelly was in a dying condition - he was fainting.  He was always ready to attend to any call to give me any assistance he could.

Question — Did you hear anything during the afternoon about the proceedings of the police with reference to the Kellys? — Well, just some few incidents came under my notice that I do not think were stated, as far as I could see, correctly.  That is, I was told that Kelly’s sister was coming on the scene.  It would be some considerable time after I had attended to Ned Kelly.

Question — Some time in the afternoon? — Yes, and I was then glad to find that, because I thought she could proceed to Mrs Jones’ house safely to speak to the men.  I stepped forward and asked her would she go to her brother and tell him there was a Catholic priest here who was anxious to come and see him, and to ask him would he let me in.  She said, “Of course, I will go up and see my brother.” She was very excited.  She started then for the house, but was stopped.

Question — By whom? — I could not say.  I did not know any person on the scene.  By some police authority, I suppose, so I was told.  The officer in charge of the police was off in one direction on the semi-circle which the police formed, standing in different groups here and there behind trees.  I was told he was off in that direction, so I went on from one group of police to another to find the officer in charge, and when I had gone to the extreme end there I was told he was not there, so I was directed then on to the other end, and when I came to the last body I was told that was he—I think Mr Sadleir—and then I sent the girl to ask (I did not go myself) for permission for her to go up to the house, mentioning that I advised her to go; and she went and she was told she would not be allowed to go.  I was strongly inclined to go myself prior to that, but when I had been with Ned Kelly, after I had attended to him, I asked him did he think it would be safe for me to go up to the house and get this man, his brother, I think, to surrender.  “I would not advise you to go; they will certainly shoot you!” I said, “They would not shoot me if they knew I was a priest or a clergyman”; and he said, “They will not know who you are, and they will not take the time to think!” I saw that I could not justify myself in going up as long as I did not see the probability of doing any service. 

That alone was what kept me back during the course of the day.  I was surprised a good deal that there seemed to be no sign of truce at any time offered; there was no signal given that the men might see, that they might have the idea their lives would be spared if they came out.  I was rather surprised at that, and remarked it repeatedly, but still I did not know whether it was to anyone in authority or not, because there seemed to be an incessant feeling of anxiety in the minds of those men that were around.

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