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Condemned Cell Correspondence 03-11-1880

Ned Kelly

November 3, 1880

His Excellency the Governor,

I have taken the liberty to address you in reference to my case as it is now drawing to a close. The first thing I wish to draw your attention to is the warrants issued for me on suspicion of horse stealing., as they were produced as evidence against me in court and likely to prejudice the jury on behalf of my character. It was merely a warrant for my apprehension on suspicion of horse stealing. Had I been apprehended they could not possibly have procured a conviction.

The second thing is the warrant issued for the shooting with intent to murder Constable Fitzpatrick. Constable Fitzpatrick swore that I had no intention of shooting him, that we were intimate friends. According to his sworn evidence I neither murdered him, nor had any intention. Therefore I think there must have been a mistake in granting a warrant on this charge, and when the charge was proffered against me it was greatly to prejudice the jury, and as I did not actually commit the deed, and as there was no murder committed and no intention of doing such, therefore my mother, William Skillion and William Williamson could not be guilty of aiding and abetting.

Nine respectable witnesses can prove William Skillion was not within miles of the place at the time. I had witnesses at the court only the feeling was so strong with the police force that they were afraid of being taken as sympathisers. There was one hundred pounds offered for my apprehension for the shooting of Constable Fitzpatrick on the 15th April, 1878. I had witnesses to show that I was a great many miles away from the place at the time, but as I was not tried on that charge, I could not call my witnesses and show the illegality of the charges put against me and which led up to my present position, and on the conviction of my mother, who was arrested on the 16th of April four or six police – I could not say which – running into the house with revolvers in hand and threatened to blow her brains out if she moved. They handcuffed her and took her away to the lockup, and only the third day after her confinement, William Williamson and William Skillion was also taken into custody and convicted for aiding and abetting me with attempt to murder Constable Fitzpatrick, even according to his own statement, a most ridiculous charge.

From February to October I can prove I never was seen nor never was in the locality where the alleged offence took place, and after the conviction of my mother on the 9th of October the reward, I believe, was increased to two hundred pounds for the elleged shooting of Constable Fitzpatrick.

At Stringy Bark Creek: I believe John Martin, a wild dog poisoner and boundary rider in the employ of Mr Tomlins, station owner at the Wombat, gave information to the police of me and my brother’s presence in the Stringy Bark. I have been told since. Three parties of police, one under Sergeant Kennedy, one under Senior Constable Strachan and the other under Sergeant Steele – thirteen in number – were to meet at Stringy Bark to search for me.

Sergeant Kennedy’s party hobbled their horses in the police barrack yard, Mansfield. They would no do it in the day time for fear people would take notice and inform me of it. They sneaked out of town before daylight disguised as diggers on a prospecting tour and camped at Stringy Bark that night. Some of the party said they did not intend to bring me in alive, which I can prove. Fitzpatrick, I believe, will swear on oath that they came to shoot me, not to arrest me. Constable Lonigan in particular, bid his friends goodbye on leaving Violet Town, and he said that he might never come back again. Ned Kelly was to be shot, he was the man that would shoot him.

The above information, gathered since the first encounter with the police, I could have proved by members of the police force as well as civilians previous to the encounter wth the Police. I came back from where I was at the time previous to the encounter with Fitzpatrick. I would have called witnesses to have proved where I was, but as I was not tried for this charge, they would not allow me to call them. Fitzpatrick would have come himself if I had been allowed to call him.

I was with my brother and several others in Bullock Creek, one mile from Stringy Bark. We had a house, two miles of fencing, twenty acres of ground cleared for the purpose of growing mangle wursels and barley for the purpose of distilling whisky. We were also digging for gold. We had tools and sluice bowls and everything requisite for the work. We had a place excavated close to the house for the purpose of erecting a small distill, so as if anyone informed on us they would not get to the most valuable or main distill that was further down the creek with the sugar and other requisites.

This is unlawful, I know, but it goes to show that men spending all their time, labour and money in this way had no intention of murdering police. The things are there at the present time and I could direct any person to where they are to be found. As it has been represented to the jury at my trial for the purpose of robbing on the highway and shooting police for revenge, but over six months elapsed from the arrest of my mother to the time of the encounter with the police, no murder nor robbery was committed and no person interfered with nor molested by me nor any of my companions.

It was represented in the court that I was searching for the police for revenge, but the fact of the case showed that instead of me going to look for the police in any towns or anywhere, they came onto the place where I was working with the full intention of shooting me, not to arrest me. Although I have had plenty of grounds for revenge, I never looked for it. After the arrest of my mother there was none of our family left but five sisters.

The police would come to the house, Inspector Brooke-Smith in particular – he has since been discharged for his cowardly conduct towards my family. They used to search the place and destroy all the provisions by emptying them out onto the floor. He would say to my sisters, ‘ see all the police I have out today. I will have as many out tomorrow and will blow your brothers to pieces as small as the paper that is in our guns. ‘ Some told my sisters that they would not ask their brothers to stand as they knew they intended to fight. They would shoot them first and then tell them to stand afterwards. I will trouble you any further with their cowardly conduct as they are too numerous to mention. What I wish is Constable McIntyre’s first statement to be compared with his depositions of both courts and you will at once see the disparity between the two, also the photograph of the place and the position of the men at the time of Kennedy’s and Scanlon’s advance.

McIntyre says two men were in the open grass, one in the tent and one at the fire, these being in direct line in front of Kennedy and Scanlon. Therefore McIntyre told a falsehood by saying they were surrounded. As they were expecting to meet other parties of police, what McIntyre should have said was that he was covered by Ned Kelly and three other armed men, and not to move, or they would be shot as Lonigan had got shot, and have pointed to the fact, then his companions would have understood their position and could have pleased themselves whether they galloped away ro whether they fought.

McIntyre’s first statement was that four men called on them to throw up their arms and surrender – ‘ we don’t want to take your life, we want to take your fire-arms’ – that he looked around, saw four men armed with guns and one on the extreme right armed with two guns. And when he gives his evidence in court two years after, he says the man on the extreme right carried only gun and one revolver. He said the men had no revolvers in his first statement, also that Kennedy jumped off on the off side of his horse and got behind a tree and commenced firing.

When he saw Kennedy firing and broke his agreement, he got on his horse and galloped away, and that he heard Kennedy say, ‘stop it, lads.’ He swore in Beechworth that he could not swear but that Kennedy was dead when he took his horse, that he rolled off on the off side. You will see, if McIntyre’s statements are compared, the disparity without me making further mention. I have not had time to put all the facts as I would like to brought under your notice, because I have had to write this this morning to be in time for the Executive Council, but now as I have time, I will forward you a full statement of the facts from the beginning to the end.

Yours obediently,
Edward Kelly
His X Mark

Witness: J. Kelly, warder.