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3 corrections, most recently by RonnieLand - Show corrections

ORIGIN OF THE KELLY GANG. The report of the Police Commission contains a sketch, divided into 15 chapters, "of the antecedents, pursuit, and destruction   of the Kelly gang of outlaws." Some interesting information is conveyed respecting the settlement and antecedents in the colony of the Kelly family, and the causes leading up to the outbreak. The founder of the Kelly family, with numerous offshoots which spread and had their ramifications throughout the North-eastern district, is said to have been one James Quin, a native of Ireland, who, with his wife and family, arrived in Victoria in 1839. They settled in the first instance in Pascoevale, and subsequently in Wallan Wallan, where Quin took up some land. He proved successful in his farming operations, acquired a freehold of some land in the locality, which he was enabled to dispose of in 1863 for the sum of £2,000, with which he took up the Glenmore station, situate in a remote portion of the North-eastern district between Mansfield and Beechworth. Quin's   family consisted of four sons and six daughters. Two of the sons, James and John, bore very bad characters while at Wallan   Wallan, and it has been more than hinted by the police that   the object of the elder Quin's migration to Glenmore was simply   in order to escape the surveillance of the police in the Kilmore district, where he had rendered himself notorious as a cattle- stealer, and by removing back to the limits of civilisation and settlement, to secure for himself and associates a more extended     field of operations. Ellen, the third daughter of James Quin,   was married to John Kelly, the father of the outlaws. Kelly was a convict, and was transported to Tasmania in 1841

for an agrarian outrage, stated to have been shooting at a landlord with intent to murder. Kelly contracted acquaintance with the Quins at Wallan Wallan, where he worked as a bush carpenter, and doubtless to his connexion is attributable the general contamination of the family. He subsequently turned his attention to gold-digging, at which he was successful, and was enabled in time to purchase a small freehold at Beveridge. He here became noted as an expert cattle-stealer, and his place as the resort of criminals of the very worst class. In 1865 he was convicted of cattle-duffing, and sentenced to a term of imprisonment. , He died shortly after his release from Kilmore gaol. At his death he left seven children, namely, Edward and Dan, the outlaws ; James (who has been for many years a noted criminal), Mrs.Gunn, Mrs. Skillian, Kate, and Grace. Mrs. Ellen Kelly, on the death of her husband, settled at Eleven-mile Creek, near Greta, where at present she resides with the younger portion of her family. From an early period her place was regarded as the rendezvous of cattle-stealers and disreputable characters, who had their ramifications throughout the district. Amongst those who were known to frequent her place was Power, the bushranger, who is said to have given Ned Kelly his first lesson in crime. Ned Kelly, the leader of the gang, from his very youth was known to the police as an incorrigible thief.   He was implicated with Power, the bushranger, in two daring outrages, but when arrested and tried, escaped conviction owing to want of sufficient identification. There seems to have been no period of his career, from a child up to the time of his death, that he was not either in trouble or under the surveillance of the police. Dan, the second outlaw, was born in 1861, and from the time he was 15 years of age was a noted criminal. Joe Byrne, the third outlaw, was born in 1857, and was of Irish extraction and respectable antecedents. He seems, however, from an early age to have developed cruel and vicious propensities, which fre- quently brought him into trouble. Steve Hart, the fourth member of the gang, was born in 1860, and was the second son of Richard Hart, of Three-mile Creek, near Wangaratta. Young Hart was of a wild and lawless disposition, and was known for many years prior to the outbreak to be associated with a daring gang of cattle-stealers in the North-eastern district. Some particulars are given in the report of that portion of the North-eastern district known as the Kelly country, which is described as lying within that triangular tract between the points formed by the townships of Mansfield, Benalla, and Beechworth, together with that area lying to the west of the railway line, embracing the vicinity of Lake Rowan, the Warby Ranges, and the Woolshed, extending in the direction of the Murray. This constitutes a large and diversified extent of territory, measuring about 16,000 square miles. Here the numerous branches of the families of the Quins, Lloyds, and Kellys took up selections, and for many years were a source of constant solicitude to the police authorities. Their stronghold appears to have been Glenmore, where the elder Quin had settled. His homestead lay directly in the track — the only one known in the early days — between Mans- field and the Murray. It was situated in a wild, inhospitable district, not far from the junction of the right and left branches of the King River. This track waa principally used by the cattle stealers, , who carried on an extensive traffic between Victoria and New South Wales. It was in the vicinity of Glenmore that Power the bushranger was arrested in 1870. About that time Superintendents Nicolson and Hare, who had accomplished Power's capture, recommended to the chief commissioner the erection of a police station in that locality. A station was accordingly established, close to old Quin's homestead, and two constables stationed there, with highly satisfactory results. The Quins and their associates made strenuous efforts to dislodge them. They burnt the stables attached to the station ; they kept them constantly on the qui vive, and harassed them in every manner possible. Finding it impossible to dislodge the police, however, old Quin sold his station and cleared out of the district. In 1872 an effort was made to abolish the Glenmore station, but owing to the strong representation made by influential residents in the neighbourhood, it was maintained. In 1872, however, it was abolished by Captain Standish, his reasons for doing so being the remote and sparsely populated character of. the neighbourhood, the absence of crime, and the necessity for police protection as was represented to him at the time in more populous localities. Much stress has been laid upon tbia act of the chief commissioner, and his abolition of the station has been pronounced by the commissioners as an error of judgment, and as in some degree instrumental in enabling the Kellys and their associates to defy the action of the police authorities. In addition to doing away with the Glenmore station, the commissioners complain of the strength of many police stations in the district being unnecessarily reduced, of capable and experienced subofficers being removed from important stations, and replaced by others wholly incom- petent to cope vith the general lawlessness which is said to have prevailed for years throughout the district. For many years previous to the outbreak scarcely a day passed without reports being received by the police of cattle having been stolen, and only in comparatively few instances were they recovered. The incident, however, which more immediately produced the outbreak was tha action of Constable Fitzpatrick, who on the 15th April, 1878, attempted to arrest Dan Kelly for horse-stealing. The circumstances connected with that incident are well-known, but mention is made n the report of the fact that the warrant against Dan Kelly on this occasion was issued merely on   suspicion of horestealing, he and his cousin, Jack Lloyd, appearing to answer the description given of two men seen driving the stolen horses through the township of Chiltern. Jack Lloyd was subsequently arrested, but the case broke down, and he wae discharged ; but owing to the resistance offered to Dan Kelly's arrest, and the assault made upon Fitzpatrick, the   Kellys took to the bush. In June, 1878, Superintendent Sadleir was appointed to the charge of the North-easter ndistrict. Urged by the police authorities in Melbourne, he took action in August of that year to arrest Ned and Dan Kelly, who were   said to have been seen in the Strathbogie Ranges. Two parties of police were organised, the one to start from Mansfield and work across the ranges in the direction of the flat country towards      

Holland's Creek, and the other from Greta, by which the locality in which the Kellys were said to be secreted would be thoroughly scoured. Of the facts connected with the despatch of those search parties and the murder of Kennedy and two of his companions by the Kellys, the public have been fully informed, and only a general reference is made to them in the report of the commission. The first intention of the murderers, after the Wombat tragedy, was to escape into New South Wales, as they were distinctly traced from the scene of the outrage on to Greta, and thence towards Wangaratta, in the direction of the Murray. The river was found at the time to be so swollen as to be impassable, and the gang were consequently compelled to retrace their steps, and to seek refuge in the Warby Ranges.

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