Edward (Ned) Kelly First Hand Accounts Glenrowan History Sergeant Steele The Police The Railway

The Kelly Bushrangers (3 July 1880)

The following description of what took place at Glenrowan is taken from the Melbourne Age of June 29, and although going over the same ground as the telegrams already published, contains fuller information…

South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 – 1889), Saturday 3 July 1880, page 6


The following description of what took place at Glenrowan is taken from the Melbourne Age of June 29, and although going over the same ground as the telegrams already published, contains fuller information:—

Ned Kelly was quite composed when captured, and in answer to enquiries made the following statement:—

What I intended to do, and in fact was just about doing, was to go down with some of my mates and meet the special train and rake it with shot. The train, however, came before I expected, and I had to return to the hotel. I thought the train would go on, and on that account I had the rails pulled up, so that these —— black trackers might be settled. It does not much matter what brought me to Glenrowan. I do not know, or I do not say. It does not seem much any way. If I liked I could have got away last night. I got into the bush with my grey mare; and laid there all night. I had a good chance, but I wanted to see the thing end. When the police fired the first round I got wounded on the foot. It was the left one. Shortly afterwards I was shot through the left arm. It was in the front of the house where I received these injuries. I don’t care what people say about Sergeant Kennedy’s death. I have made my statement of it, and if they don’t believe me I can’t help it. At all events, I am satisfied Scanlon was not shot kneeling. That is not true. He never got off his horse. At the commencement of the affair this morning I fired three or four shots from the front of Jones’s Hotel, but I did not know who I was firing at. I only fired when I saw flashes. I then cleared for the bush, but remained there near the hotel all night. Two constables passed close by me talking, and I could have shot them before I had time to shout if I liked. I could have shot several constables at one time. I was a good distance away, but I came back again. I have got a charge of duck shot in my leg. Why don’t the police use bullets instead of duck shot? One of the policemen that was firing at me was a splendid shot. I don’t know his name. Perhaps I would have done better if I had cleared away on my grey mare. It was just like blows from a man’s fist receiving the bullets on my armor. I wanted to fire into the carriages, only the police started on us too quickly. I knew the police would come, and I expected them.”

Inspector Sadlier here remarked, “You wanted then to kill the people in the train?” Kelly replied, “Yes; of course I did. God help them, they would have got shot all the same. Would they not have tried to kill me?”

Every kindness was shown to Kelly by the police, and his two sisters were permitted to remain with him during the afternoon. He was also seen by Father Tierney, to whom it is understood he made a confession, but the rev. gentleman courteously declined to state the nature of it. At various times during the morning more police arrived, but the bushrangers could not be dislodged from Jones’s Hotel; and what was more perplexing still, the prisoners inside could not be persuaded to leave, although the police repeatedly called upon them to come out. At 12 o’clock, however, the people inside, consisting of about thirty men and youths, suddenly rushed out of the front door, carrying their hands aloft. The police told them to advance towards where they were located, but many of the unfortunate people were so terror-stricken that they came hither and thither screaming for mercy. They then approached the police and threw themselves upon their faces. One by one they were called on, and having been minutely searched were despatched to the station. When the turn of two youths named McAuliffe came, Superintendent Sadleir directed Constable Bracken to arrest them as Kelly sympathisers. They were accordingly hand-cuffed and taken with the others to the railway station. Young Reardon, who with his father had been confined in the hotel, was severely wounded in the shoulder by a bullet fired from a rifle in the hands of one of the police.

The police after this kept up a constant fire on the place, Dwyer and Armstrong in front of the house, Andrew Clarke, sen., and Constable Kelly getting very close in at various quarters of attack. It was noticed that the fire from the besieged bushrangers was not returned after 1 o’clock, but it was believed that Dan Kelly and Hart intended to lie quiet until night, and under cover of the darkness make their escape. The police for a time also ceased firing. A consultation was held amongst the officers as to what was best next to be done. The police had telegraphed for a cannon from Melbourne, but fearing it would not arrive in time to be of any use it was determined to adopt another mode of dislodging the remaining outlaws. Just as they were about to put this newly-conceived plan into operation Mrs. Skillion, sister of the Kellys, dressed in a dark riding habit trimmed with scarlet, and wearing a jaunty hat adorned with a conspicuous white feather, appeared on the scene. Father Tierney earnestly requested her to go to the hotel and ask her brother and Hart to surrender. She said she would like to see her brother before he died, but she would sooner see him burned in the house than ask him to surrender. This in fact was the procedure to which the police had decided upon in order to bring the outlaws from their cover. Some 200 people by this time had arrived on the platform.

The police opened up a heavy fire on the hotel from the front and rear. This was done in order to cover the operations of Senior-Constable Johnstone, who rapidly approached the house on the north side with a bundle of straw, which he placed against the weather-boards and set fire to. It was known that Martin Sherry, an old man, was still in the house, and when the last prisoners had escaped he was alive, though badly wounded. The thought that the unfortunate man should be sacrificed and perish in the flames with the determined bushrangers who had made so long a stand caused a feeling of horror to pervade the crowd. Kate Kelly at this juncture came upon the scene, but the only expression which escaped her lips was the one uttered in heart-broken accents, “My poor, poor brother.” Mrs. Skillion exclaimed, “I will see my brother before he dies,” and then sped towards the hotel, from the roof of which by this time tongues of flame were beginning to ascend. The police ordered her to go back, and she hesitated. Father Tierney emerged from the crowd, saying he would save Sherry. The brave clergyman was encouraged on his mission by a cheer from the spectators. He walked boldly to the front door, was lost to view amongst the smoke, and a moment afterwards a mass of flame burst from the walls and roof of the dwelling at the same instant. A shout of terror from the crowd announced the fear that was felt for the safety of the courageous priest. Constable Armstrong, with some other policemen, rushed into the building from the rear, and a few seconds afterwards their forms, with that of Father Tierney, were seen to emerge, carrying with them Sherry, who was in a dying state, and the dead body of the outlaw Byrne. On reaching a place of safety they stated that Dan Kelly and Hart were lying upon the floor apparently dead. Nothing, however, could be done to rescue their remains from the fire. Soon afterwards the building was completely demolished, and on a search being made amongst the ruins two charred skeletons were raked out from the smouldering debris. Wild Wright, Hart (the brother of Steve), and other well-known friends were witnesses of this terrible scene. All the bushrangers were clad in the same armor as that worn by Ned Kelly, which weighed as much as 97 lbs., and had evidently been constructed by some country blacksmith out of ploughshares. The marks on Kelly’s armor showed that he had been hit seventeen times with bullets. The unfortunate man Sherry died soon after being rescued from the burning building.

Mr. John Stanistreet, stationmaster at Glenrowan, states — About 3 o’clock on Sunday morning a knock came to my door, at the gate house, within 100 yards of the station, on the Melbourne side. I jumped up, and thinking it was some one wanting to get through the gates in a hurry I commenced to dress as soon as possible. I half dressed, and went to the door. Just when I got to the door it was burst in, but previous to that there was some impatient talk, which caused me to dress quickly. When the door was burst in I asked, “What is that for,” or “Who are you?” The answer was, “I am Ned Kelly.” I then saw a man, clad in an overcoat, standing in the doorway. He pushed me into my bedroom, where my wife and some of the children were in bed. There were two girls and one infant besides my wife. Then he said to me, “You have to come with me and take up the rails.” “Wait,” said I, “until I dress.” He said, “Yes,” and I completed my dress and followed him out of the house. On the line there were seven or eight men standing at the gate which crosses the line to Mrs. Jones’s hotel, the Glenrowan Inn. He said, “You direct those men how to raise some of the rails, as we expect a special train very soon.” I objected, saying, “I know nothing about lifting rails off the line; the only persons who understand it are the repairers; they live outside and along the line.” Ned Kelly then went into Reardon, the platelayer’s house. Reardon lives outside the line on the Greta side, about a quarter of a mile away. Steve Hart was present, and Kelly left us in his charge. When Kelly went away Hart gave me a prod with his rifle in the side, saying, “You get the tools out that are necessary to raise those rails.” I said, “I have not the key of the chest;” and he said, “Break the lock.” He told one of the men to do so, and on arriving at the station he got one of the men to do it. This was in the little back shed used as a storeroom, between the station and the gatehouse. The tools were thrown out, and in the meantime Reardon and Sullivan, the line repairers, arrived with Ned Kelly. These two men and Ned proceeded down the line towards Wangaratta to lift the rails. We were still under Steve Hart, and we remained where we were over two hours, and then Ned Kelly and the repairers returned. Ned then enquired about the signalling of trains, as to how I stopped a train with the signal lights. I said. “White is right, red is wrong, and green is ‘gently, come along.'” He said, “There is a special train coming; you give no signals.” Speaking to Hart he said, “Watch his countenance, and if he gives any signal shoot him.” He then marched us into my residence, and left us there under Steve Hart. There were there then about seventeen altogether, other persons subsequently being placed in my house also. There were present Reardon’s family, the Ryan family, Cameron (son of the gate-keeper on the other line), Sullivan, line repairer, and others whom I do not remember. We were locked up all day on Sunday, and were only allowed out under surveillance. The women were permitted to go to Jones’s Hotel about 6 o’clock and shortly afterwards all the men but me and my family went away. Steve Hart stopped with us, and during the night Dan Kelly relieved Hart, and he was afterwards relieved by Byrne. Just before the special train arrived I was ordered to the hotel by Hart, who was on and off duty all the time, to follow him to Jones’s, and not signal the train. I went into the back kitchen, where Mrs. Jones and daughter, aged about 14, and two younger children were. There was also a man there named Neil McKew. By this time the train had arrived, and firing was going on furiously. I did not see Ned Kelly in the room. I with others stood in the chimney. I did not hear any remark passed by any of the gang, and they disappeared. A ball passed through the hat, and graced Miss Jane Jones, 14 years of age, on the forehead. The girl said “I’m shot,” and turned to me. I saw the blood and told her it was nothing. The mother commenced to cry, and soon afterwards I left the kitchen, and went into the backyard. I then saw three of the gang there standing behind the chimney. They had their rifles in their hands. One of than said, I don’t know which, ” If you go out you’ll be shot.” I walked straight down the path towards the house. The firing was then going on all round me, but I was uninjured. One of the police very nearly shot me, but I said “Stationmaster” when he challenged me. I forgot to mention that during Sunday afternoon Steve Hart demanded and received my revolver.

Robert Gibbons states — I am a farmer, and have recently been stopping at Glenrowan with Mr. Reynolds. I came to the railway station about 8 o’clock on Sunday night with Mr. Reynolds to ask about his little boy, who had not been home. When we knocked at the door Mrs. Stainstreet told us that Mr. Hart was inside, and that they had been stuck up ever since 3 o’clock on Saturday morning. We followed her in, and saw Steve Hart. She told him who we were, and he then put his fire-arms down, giving us to understand that we were not to go out. We remained then about two hours, when Ned Kelly came, and Hart ordered us to come out of the room. Ned Kelly then told us that we would all have to go down to the police barracks with him. He kept us waiting there for about two hours, he having gone for Bracken. He returned to us with Bracken. He kept us waiting there about an hour and a half. Byrne at that time was with us. There he told me and Mr. Reynolds we would have to go to Jones’s Hotel. We went to the hotel, and he told us to get into the bar parlor. It was then about 10 o’clock on Sunday night, and we remained there until the train came. During that time the Kellys were going about the place making themselves quite jolly. Byrne was in charge of the back door, the other door being locked. A little after 3 o’clock the train came. Prior to that the gang drank quite freely with others. When the train arrived Ned came and said, “You are not to whisper a word that has been said here about me. If I hear of any one doing so I will shoot you.”‘ He went to the door of the room and said “Here she comes,” and then the gang busied themselves in making preparations, but for what I did not know. They came back and said the first man who left the room in which we were would be shot. Two of them then mounted their horses and rode away, but I could not tell which two. They came back in about ten minutes’ time. When they came back I saw that Dan was one of the two who had gone away. Dan went into a back room. All four in turn went into the same room. Very soon afterwards a hurried move was made, and firing commenced. There must have been about forty men, women and children in the house then. The women and children commenced to shriek, and Mrs. Jones’s eldest daughter was wounded on the side of the head, and the eldest boy shot in the thigh. The bullets rattled through the side of the house, and we laid down. We were packed so close that we had to lay on our sides. It was those who laid next the door who prompted us to come out, and we did so because we feared that the bullets would come through faster than ever. We also feared a cannon would be used; and about 10 o’clock we ran out. I heard some of them say that Byrne, or one of the gang, was lying dead in the back. I know that Dan was alive when I left.

Arthur Loftus Maule Steele states — I am a sergeant of police at Wangaratta. I arrived here with five men about 5 a.m. We were at once challenged by police, and answered “Wangaratta police.” My men were then distributed around the hut, and I got to the tree near the back door of the hut. There was no firing then. A woman and child came to the back door screaming, and I told the woman if she ran in quick she would not be molested. A man then came to the back door, and I asked him to throw up his arms or I would fire on him. He was only about twenty five yards distant. The man stooped and ran towards the stables, and I fired. He then turned and ran back to the house, and I fired again. I am certain I hit him with the second shot, as he screamed and fell against the door. There was then some hot firing, and the bullets whistled all around me. The firing was kept up for some time, and some of the men behind me called out. It was then breaking day. I looked round, and saw a man stalking down. I thought he was a black fellow, and called on the others to be careful. I then saw him present a revolver and fire at the police. I could see the bullets hitting him, and staggering him for a moment, with no further effect. I therefore thought he had armor on, and determined to have a close shot at him. I ran towards him, and when within ten yards of him he saw me, and turned round to fire at me. I then aimed at his legs, and he staggered, but he still tried to aim at me. I then fired the second barrel on the legs. We were then in the open. He fell and cried, “I’m done, I’m done.” I ran up to him then, and he again tried to shoot me, but I caught the revolver and pushed it down. I was behind him. and he could not turn on me quick enough to shoot me. While I held the revolver away from me he fired it. Senior-Constable Kelly then came up and assisted me to secure him. So did O’Dwyer, and a host of others at once followed. We only found one revolver on him, and a bag of ammunition. We divested him of his armor. I was strained with the scuffle which ensued.

Senior-Constable Kelly said — When we started from the platform we ran down towards the railway gates, hearing that the gang were in Jones’s public-house. The men at that time had not sufficient time to scatter, and all made towards the hotel. As we approached some one came out on the verandah and fired on us. Mr. Superintendent Hare, with Mr. Rawlings, a volunteer from Benalla, was close to me. Mr. Hare said, “I am shot in the wrist,” but he continued to fire. We sought cover, and Hare said to me, ‘”For God’s sake surround the house, and don’t let them escape.” He then fired again, and gave the gun to Rawlings. He then left, saying, “Kelly, place the men under cover,” and I placed the men around the house. Mr. O’Connor and his backers got up a position in front of the hotel. I then went round towards the back of the premises. Constable Arthur was with me, and we crawled about 400 yards. In this way we got to within about 50 yards from the house, at the back of a tree. In the scrub I found a revolving rifle covered with blood and a padded skullcap. We kept in watch and fired upon any one who attempted to leave the hut. There were four horses saddled and tied up to the back door. These we shot in order to prevent the sudden escape of the gang. When we left the station we met Constable Bracken, who told us that the gang were at Jones’s. He, I believe, jumped on one of our horses and rode off to Benalla to get further assistance, and at half-past 6 o’clock he returned with the Wangaratta police, Sergeant Steele being at their head. We continued to fire, and at about 8 o’clock, so far as I can remember, Ned Kelly made his appearance under the brow of the hill, 300 yards from the hut. He deliberately fired at me. I returned the fire, and my men closed around him. Sergeant Steele being on one side of him, myself on the other, and Dowsett, the railway guard, on the other. About ten rifles were brought to bear on him, and we hit him several times. His heavy armor, however, protected him, and he walked boldly to and fro. Near a fallen tree he fell, and we rushed forward. I caught him by the head as Steele grasped his hand, in which he still held his revolver. He fired it, but did no damage. His armor was taken off, and he was carried to the railway station, when he was searched, but only 3d. was found on him, a silver Geneva watch, and a lot of ammunition. I asked him to tell me where Sergeant Kennedy’s watch was, and he said,”I cannot tell you; I would not like to tell you about it,” He also said, “I had to shoot Sergeant Kennedy and Scanlan for my own safety. I cannot tell you any more.” We then gave him over to the medical gentleman and Mr. Sadleir.

By AJFPhelan56

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s