Excerpt from “The Jerilderie Letter” by Ned Kelly

picture-NedKellyAfter leaving this man, he went to the house and asked was Dan in. Dan came out. I hear previous to this Fitzpatrick had some conversation with Williamson on the hill. He asked Dan to come to Greta with him, as he had a warrant for him for stealing Whitty’s horses. Dan said “Allwright”, and they both went inside. Dan was having something to eat. His mother asked Fitzpatrick what he wanted Dan for. The trooper said he had a warrant for him. Dan then asked him to produce it. He said it was only a telegram sent from Chiltern, but Sergeant Whelan ordered him to relieve Steele at Greta, and call and arrest Dan and take him in to Wangaratta next morning and get him remanded. Dan’s mother said Dan need not go without a warrant unless he liked, and that the trooper had no business on her premises without some authority besides his own word.
The trooper pulled out his revolver and said he would blow her brains out if she interfered in the arrest. She told him it was a good job for him Ned was not there, or he would ram his revolver down his throat. Dan looked out and said, “Ned is coming now.” The trooper being off his guard, looked out and when Dan got his attention drawn, he dropped the knife and fork, which showed he had no murderous intent, and slapped Heenan’s Hug on him, took his revolver and kept him there until Skillion and Ryan came with horses which Dan sold that night.
The trooper left and invented some scheme to say that he got shot, which any man can see is false. He told Dan to clear out, that Sergeant Steele and Detective Brown and Strachan would be there before morning. Strachan had been over the Murray trying to get up a case against him, and they would convict him if they caught him as the Stock Society offered an enticement for witnesses to swear anything and the Germans over the Murray would swear to the wrong man as well as the right.
Next day Williamson and my mother was arrested, and Skillion the day after, who was not there at all at the time of the row, which can be proved by 8 or 9 witnesses. The police got great credit and praise in the papers for arresting the mother of 12 children, one an infant on her breast, and those two quiet, hard working innocent men who would not know the difference between a revolver and a saucepan handle, kept them six months awaiting trial and then convicted them on the evidence of the meanest article that ever the sun shone on. It seems that the jury was well chosen by the Police as there was a discharged Sergeant amongst them, which is contrary to law. They thought it impossible for a Policeman to swear a lie, but I can assure them that it was by that means and hiring cads they got promoted. I have heard from a trooper that he never knew Fitzpatrick to be one night sober, and that he sold his sister to a chinaman, but he looks a young, strapping rather genteel man, more fit to be a starcher to a laundress than a policeman for to the keen observer he has the wrong appearance for a manly heart. The deceit and cowardice is too plain to be seen in the puny cabbage-hearted looking face.
I heard nothing of this transaction until very close on the trial, I being then over 400 miles from Greta. I heard I was outlawed and a hundred pound reward for me for shooting a trooper in Victoria and a hundred pound for any man that could prove a conviction of horse-stealing against me, so I came back to Victoria. I knew I would get no justice if I gave myself up. I enquired after my brother Dan and found him digging on Bullock Creek. I heard how the Police used to be blowing that they would not ask me to stand; they would shoot me first and then cry surrender. And how they used to rush into the house and upset all the milk dishes, break tins of eggs, empty the flour out of the bags onto the ground, and even the meat out of the cask and destroy all the provisions and shove the girls in front of them into the rooms like dogs, so as if anyone was there they would shoot the girls first. But they knew well I was not there, or I would have scattered their blood and brains like rain. I would manure the Eleven Mile with their bloated carcases, and yet remember there is not one drop of murderous blood in my veins.
Superintendent Smith used to say to my sisters, “See all the men I have out today? I will have as many more tomorrow and we will blow him into pieces as small as the paper that is in our guns.” Detective Ward and Constable Hayes took out their revolvers and threatened to shoot the girls and children in Mrs. Skillion’s absence. The greatest ruffians and murderers, no matter how depraved would not be guilt of such a cowardly action. This sort of cruelty and disgraceful and cowardly conduct to my brothers and sisters who had no protection, coupled with the conviction of my mother and those men certainly made my blood boil. I don’t think there is a man born could have the patience to suffer it as long as I did, or ever allow his blood to get cold while such insults as these were unavenged. Yet in every paper that is printed I am called the blackest and coldest-blooded murderer ever on record. But if I hear any more of it I will not exactly show them what cold blooded murder is, but wholesale and retail slaughter – something different to shooting three troopers in self defence and robbing a bank.

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1 Comment

Filed under Literature, Non-Fiction

One response to “Excerpt from “The Jerilderie Letter” by Ned Kelly

  1. Ned Kelly was born in Beveridge, Victoria in June 1855, and was hanged at Melbourne Gaol on 11 November 1880, aged 25 years. The ‘Jerilderie Letter’ was dictated by Ned Kelly to fellow Kelly Gang member Joe Byrne sometime before the Gang’s raid on the town of Jerilderie in southern New South Wales from 8 to 10 February 1879.

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