Aaron Sherritt Edward (Ned) Kelly Glenrowan History Joseph (Joe) Byrne News Reports The Sympathisers

The Kelly Gang — by Electric Telegraph (14 August 1880)

A summary of news reports pertaining to Ned Kelly’s upcoming hearing, the armour, the injured Reardon boy, the burning of the inn and more.

Darling Downs Gazette and General Advertiser (Toowoomba, Qld. : 1858 – 1880), Saturday 14 August 1880, page 3


[By Electric Telegraph.]

(From the Reporter of the Melbourne Argus.)


The preliminary examination of the charges against Edward Kelly will be commenced to-morrow, at the Beechworth Police Court. Two charges will be preferred against the prisoner — first, that he murdered Constable Lonigan; and second that he murdered Constable Scanlan; and it is the intention of the prosecution to adduce separate evidence in support of each charge. Mr. Foster, P.M., will preside, and Mr. C. A. Smyth, Crown prosecutor, and Mr. Gurner solicitor for the Crown, will act as prosecutors. Mr. Zincke, M.L.A., has up to the present been retained for the defence, but he states that he has thrown up the case. It appears that the friends of the prisoner fancied that it would be better to have two solicitors, one belonging to the constitutional party, the other belonging to the party at present in power. They therefore communicated with Mr. D. Gaunson, desiring him to act with Mr. Zincke. The latter on hearing this, at once retired from the case. The friends seem to think that if they employ a supporter of the existing Government for the defence, the prisoner will have a better chance, and they themselves will be afforded better facilities for visiting him in prison. Mrs. Skillion, Tom Lloyd, and a few sympathisers have already arrived in Beechworth, and more sympathisers are expected to assemble here to-morrow. It is generally understood that the enquiry will be held in the gaol, but the authorities state that they intend bringing the prisoner before the police court in the usual public manner; and judging from the arrangements which are being made, this is what will be done.

Mr. C. A. Smyth, Mr. Gurner, Captain Standish, Superintendent Sadleir, and Sub-Inspector Baber are also here, and it is expected that all the witnesses will be in attendance to-morrow morning.

The maker of the armour which the Kelly gang wore at Glenrowan has not yet been discovered, and, according to some reports received, the police believe it was manufactured by the gang themselves, whilst experts deny the truth of this statement, asserting that it is the handiwork of an experienced blacksmith. This much, however, is known, that the manufacture of the four suits occupied four or five months, that a good deal of time was wasted in experimenting with different material; that circular saws were first tried and found wanting in resistance to bullet; that iron tacks were also tried and found to be not bullet-proof, and that the moulds of ploughs were ultimately adopted. It has like-wise transpired that the first suit made was defective, and was therefore thrown aside. The armour was used for the first time at Glenrowan, and must have been carried to that place on pack-horses.

The lad Reardon, who was wounded at Glenrowan, has now been discharged from the Wangaratta Hospital. The circumstances under which he was shot have been considerably elucidated. It will be remembered that his mother escaped from the hotel before daylight. She ran out at the back-door and came round by the gable of the house to the railway station. About a minute after her son, a tall youth, endeavored to escape in the same way. Sergeant Steele, who had arrived by that time, and had taken up a position close up to the rear of the building, states that he saw the figure of a man, and he called upon him twice to surrender and throw up his hands. The person, however, simply stooped, and continued to run, and he (Sergeant Steele) then fired at him. The shot he fired was a charge of slugs, the most of which lodged in an intervening fence, but one pellet entered the lad’s shoulder — it afterwards proved to be young Reardon — and after striking the bone passed into his breast under his ribs. Reardon states that when struck he simply felt a kind of blow, and did not know that he had been wounded. Afterwards, however, he suffered great pain. He still continues to suffer a little owing to the surgeons at the hospital having been unable to extract the slug. Whilst the fight was going on bullets were flying in all directions striking the railway station, the train, and M’Donald’s Hotel, and as has been subsequently discovered piercing the goods shed in several places. It is now the unanimous opinion of the police authorities that the Kellys were never, as was popularly supposed in the Strathbogie ranges. Their principal haunts were between Glenrowan, Greta, and Sebastopol. Moreover, they never travelled on horseback except when on some exploit. Their general custom was to carry a small tent with provisions in fine weather, and camp in the middle of some large scrubby paddock. They would shift their tents for a short distance every night, but would not make a great change unless they had reason to suppose they had been seen. When their provisions became ehausted they would have resort to their friends and in wet and stormy weather they generally sought some friendly shelter. It is now known for a certainty that Byrne often slept on the premises of a man who lives within two miles of Beechworth. This man, on hearing of the destruction of the gang and the death of Byrne, absolutely shed tears. A singular story is told by one of the constables who was present in Sherritt’s hut on the night of Sherritt’s murder. He states that a conversation was being carried on between Sherritt, Mrs Sherritt, Mrs Barry, and himself, and that the subject of their remarks was Joe Byrne. Sherritt then proceeded to tell a yarn about Byrne and himself having once been arrested on a serious charge. He said they assaulted a Chinaman and nearly killed him. The Celestial, indeed, was so near death’s door that he had to be fed with a silver tube. He himself was arrested some time after, but Byrne succeeded in evading the police. Whilst he was lying in the Beechworth lockup one night he heard someone knocking outside, and on asking who it was, heard Joe Byrne reply, “It is me; I am going to help you to escape.” Sherritt said he replied, “The Chinaman is getting better, so you had better give yourself up, and do not be a fool.” Byrne took his advice, surrendered, and secured legal assistance, and was acquitted. Just when Sherritt had finished this story a knock came to the door, and as is now well known, it proved to be the intimation of the final visit Sherritt was to receive from Joe Byrne.

11.45 p.m.

By this night’s train Mr. D. Gaunson arrived to take up Ned Kelly’s defence, and Mr. Chomley to assist Mr. C. A. Smyth in the prosecution. Dick Hart came by the same train, but no other sympathisers. According to the surmises of a gentleman behind the scenes, and consequently a good authority, the reason why Mr. Gaunson has been engaged is, that he may be able to secure a private interview between the prisoner and his friends. It is asserted that the gang carried away a great deal more money from the banks they stuck up than was reported by the officials. There is no doubt the balance of the booty is planted, and that Ned Kelly is the only person alive who knows where the plant is concealed; hence the desire to have a private interview between him and his friends. Mr. Gaunson, on his arrival, proceeded at once to the gaol, and had a long interview with his client. It is probable that he will apply to-morrow for a remand once more. An incident has leaked out about the career of the gang. Kelly has stated that they had been amongst snow, and that in fact they had to clear several feet of snow off a hut they lived in, and the deduction is that they have lived for some time amongst the Bogong Ranges.

Mr. Gaunson had an interview with Kelly in the gaol for three-quarters of an hour. He found the prisoner in bed, but awoke and conversed with him freely. In reply to Mr. Gaunson, Kelly said he had informed Mr. Zincke that he had employed a new solicitor. Mr. Gaunson will apply for a remand for a week, but is very doubtful if his application will be granted.


With regard to the burning of Jones’ hotel, at Glenrowan, the following facts have transpired :— Senior-Constable Johnson, having been authorised by Superintendent Sadlier to fire the house, went and obtained a bundle of straw and a bottle of kerssene; he then pretended to the people about the railway station that he was going to feed the horses in the railway paddock; he accordingly went down in that direction, entered the bush, and made a detour round to the other side or end of the hotel. In his peregrination, and when passing round the other side of the rise beyond the hotel, he came across four men fully armed with guns and revolvers. He recognised none of them. Certainly they were not policemen, and the conclusion is that they were sympathisers wanting to assist the gang. Johnston saw at once that they were not friends, so he put the evasive question to them, “Did you see two horses — a grey and a brown — pass here recently?” They replied in a surly manner that they had not, and he passed on down to the hotel and fired it in the way already fully described. This incident confirms the suspicion or belief that, on the night of the fight at Glenrowan, sympathisers were ready to fight on the side of the gang.

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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