History News Reports

Excitement at Glenrowan (3 July 1880)

A contemporary news report covering the immediate aftermath of the siege.

Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 – 1907), Saturday 3 July 1880, page 8



Great excitement prevails at Glenrowan. Numbers of people on horseback are constantly arriving, and are eagerly scanning the scene of the fight. Two coffins arrived here (Glenrowan) for the bodies of Hart and Dan Kelly, on the way to Greta. They are to be buried tomorrow. The coffins are neatly ornamented with brass-work, and have brass-plates on each. One is labelled, “Stephen Hart, died June 28, 1880, aged 20 years ; ” and on the other “Daniel Kelly, died June 28, 1880, aged 19 years.” The inquest on the bodies of Cherry and Byrne will be held at Benalla tomorrow. The man Cherry was shot when he was lying down in the back part of the house. The police had instructions to fire high at the front where the bushrangers were supposed to be, and aim low at the back. He was lying down when the bullet struck him. Dan and Hart evidently committed suicide, for they took off their armour some time before the last shot was fired.

McDonnell’s Railway Tavern with the undertaker’s cart carrying the coffins of Dan Kelly and Steve Hart visible in the background.

Ned openly stated that he was tired of such a life on Sunday. When the people were shut up he said that he did not care for his life, as he was tired of it. He wished to wreck the train and make a stew of the black trackers. After that he would make a fortress of the hotel to defy the whole force, relying on the armour plates. The corrugated iron roof of the hotel is all riddled with holes, and some of the bricks smashed out of the chimney.

MELBOURNE, Wednesday.

A telegram from Benalla yesterday says:— “During the forenoon the body of Byrne was brought out of the lockup where it lay, and slung up in an erect position on the outside of the door, the object being to have it photographed by Mr. Burman, of Melbourne. The features were composed in a natural way, and were easily recognised. The face was small, with retreating forehead, blue eyes, the upper lip covered with a downy moustache, and a bushy beard cover-ing his chin, whilst his hair had been recently cut. His figure is that of a tall, lithe young fellow. The spectacle, however, was very repulsive. The hands are clenched and covered with blood, whilst blood also covered his clothes. The police soon had the body removed from the public gaze. The officers, policemen, trackers, and gentlemen who were there at the barracks, and who were present at the encounter, were also photographed in a group.

Joe Byrne’s body hung from the Benalla lockup.

During the day Detective Ward proceeded to Glenrowan, and on making some inquiries, discovered five of the horses of the gang stabled at McDonnell’s Railway Hotel, which stands on the east side of the line, opposite the scene of the fight. They had evidently been fasting ever since they had been stabled there, which, of course, was on the arrival of the gang two days ago. Why Mr. McDonnell did not give voluntary information to the police concerning the horses has not been explained. They were all brought to Benalla, and two of them were identified as horses which were stolen within the last fortnight from Mr. Ryan’s farm on the Major Plains. One of the two was ridden by Joe Byrne when he committed the murder of Sherritt, at the Woolshed, near Beechworth, on Saturday last. A third was recognised as a packhorse belonging to Mr. Fitzsimmons, of Benalla, and was stolen from his farm, near Greta, about 12 days ago. The other two have not yet been identified. Ned Kelly’s grey mare has also been caught. On one of the horses was found one of the Government saddles taken from the police horses on the occasion of the Mansfield murders. Another of the saddles, the one on Byrne’s horse, is found to have been made by Mr. Bullivant, of Wangaratta. It may be here mentioned that the Kellys brought pack-horses with them for the purpose of carrying their armour.

Police with the horse stolen from Michael Ryan. Joe Byrne rode this horse to and from El Dorado.

There is some mystery as to what has become of sergeant Kennedy’s watch. It is known that Ned Kelly wore it for a time, but the only one found on him is a small lady’s lever watch, and it is supposed he has been exchanging with somebody. Two chains were attached to the latter, one gold and the other silver. All the members of the gang were comfortably clad, and they wore boots which were evidently made to order. Ned Kelly had riding boots, which showed well how he prided himself on having neat feet. When the doctor was dressing his wounds the boots had to be cut off, and it was found that Kelly wore no stockings. The gang all had the appearance of being well fed, and Byrne stated to one of their prisoners that they had always lived well, but that the want of sleep which they had often to endure was very trying.

By AJFPhelan56

Father, writer, artist and bushranging historian residing in Melbourne, Australia. Author of 'Glenrowan' and the popular website A Guide to Australian Bushranging.

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