The story of Ned Kelly and the art he inspires
Bendigo Art Gallery
28 March – 28 June 2015
The Queen vs Edward Kelly
I wish to acquaint you with some of the occurrences of the present past & future, In or about the spring of 1870 the ground was very soft a hawker named Mr Gould got his waggon bogged between Greta and my mother’s house on the eleven mile creek, the ground was that rotten it would bog a duck in place so Mr Gould had abandon his waggon for fear of loosing his horses in the spewy ground he was stopping at my mothers awaiting finer or dryer weather.
Mr McCormack & his hawkers also were camped in Greta. the mosquitoes were very bad which they generally are in a wet spring & to help them Mr. Johns had a horse called Ruita Cruta although a gelding was as clever as old Wombat or any other stallion at running horses away & taking them on his beat which was from Greta swamp to the seven mile creek. consequently he enticed McCormack’s horse away from Greta. Mr Gould was up early feeding his horses heard a bell & saw McCormack’s horse for he knew the horse well he sent his boy to take him back to Greta.
When McCormack’s got the horse they came straight out to Gould and accused him of working the horse, this was false and Gould was amazed at the idea I could not help laughing to hear Mrs Mr McCormack accusing him of using the horse after him being so kind as to send his boy to take him from the ruta cruta & take him back to them, I pleaded Goulds innocence and Mrs McCormack turned on me & accused me of bringing the horse from Greta to Gould’s waggon to pull him out of the bog I did not say much to the woman, as my mother was present but that same day me & my uncle was cutting calves Gould wrapped up a note & a pair of the calves testicles & gave them to me to give them to Mrs McCormack, I did not see her & I gave the parcel to a boy, to give to her when she would come instead of giving it to her he gave it to her husband consequently McCormack said he would summons me I told him neither me or Gould used their horse.
he said I was a liar & he could welt me or any of my breed I was about 14 years of age but accepted the challenge & dismounting when Mrs McCormack struck my horse in the flank with a bullocks skin it jumped forward & my fist came in collision with McCormack’s nose & caused him to loose his equilibrium & fall postrate I tied up my horse to finish the battle but McCormack got up and ran to the Police camp. Constable hall asked me what the row was about I told him they accused me & Gould of using their horse & I hit him and I would do the same to him if he challenged me McCormack pulled me & swore their lies against me I was sentenced to three months for hitting him and three months for the parcel and bound to keep the peace for 12 months. Mrs McCormack gave good substantial evidence as she is well acquainted with that place called Tasmania better known as the Dervon or Vandiemans land and McCormack being a Police man over the convicts & women being scarce released her from that land of bondage and tyranny, & they came to Victoria & are at present residents of Greta and on the 29th of March, I was released from prison & came home. Wild Wright came to the eleven mile to see Mr Gunn stopped all night and lost his mare both him & me looked all day for her & could not get her Wright who was a stranger to me was in a hurry to get back to Mansfield & I gave him another mare & he told me if I found his mare to keep her until he brought mine back I was going to Wangaratta & saw the mare I caught her & took her with me all the Police & Detective Berrill seen her as Martins girls used to ride her about the town during several days that I stopped at Petre Martains Star Hotel in Wangaratta, she was a chestnut mare white face docked tail very remarkable branded M as plain as the hands on a town clock, the property of a Telegraph Master in Mansfield he lost her on the 6th gazetted her on the 12th of March & I was a prisoner in Beechworth Gaol until the 29th March therefore I could not have stolen the mare. I was riding the mare through Greta. Constable Hall came to me & said he wanted me to sign some papers that I did not sign at Beechworth concerning my bail bonds I thought it was the truth he said the papers was at the Barracks and I had no idea he wanted to arrest me or I would have quietly rode away instead of going to the Barracks. …
EXCERPT from the 17-page statement also known as the Jerilderie Letter, apparently dictated by Ned Kelly to Joe Byrne in 1879. Ned Kelly handed the original letter to Edwin Living during the gang’s seizure of the town of Jerilderie. Living promised Kelly that he would pass the letter on to the town printer, but did not do so. The letter did not appear in print until 1930. Eventually Living made the original available to the Criminal Law Branch of the Office of the Victorian Government Solicitor during preparations for the Kelly Crown prosecution case, on condition that only one copy of it was made and the original returned to Living himself. The full transcript of the Jerilderie Letter can be found at the Public Record Office Victoria website – http://wiki.prov.vic.gov.au/index.php/Jerilderie_Letter
IMAGES: Imagining Ned: the story of Ned Kelly and the art he inspires, Bendigo Art Gallery, 42 View Street Bendigo (VIC), 28 March – 28 June 2015 – bendigoartgallery.com.au