[Editor: This letter, or statement, made by Ned Kelly, just prior to his hanging, was published in The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA), 12 November 1880.]
Kelly’s last statement.
The following is the latest statement left by Kelly, addressed to the Governor:—
I wish to place before you the facts of my case, which have never been placed in their true light. As represented I took up arms in 1878 for the purpose of shooting the police, but six months elapsed between the shooting of Constable Fitzpatrick on the 18th of April and the Stringybark tragedy on the 26th of October, 1878, and there neither was robbery nor any other offence reported as done by me or my companions.
It was also stated that I was at the shooting of Fitzpatrick, but, as the police knew, I had witnesses to prove my whereabouts at the time. They did not put in evidence against me, therefore I could not call any witnesses; but even Fitzpatrick’s evidence clears me of the first charge, as he swore I did not attempt to murder him. After my mother was convicted of aiding and abetting in shooting with intent at Fitzpatrick I came back with the full intention of working a still to manufacture whisky, as the quickest means to obtain money for the defence of my mother.
I tried every legal means to obtain justice, therefore never crossed my mind for revenge. If I had gone looking for the police there might be an excuse for saying I shot them for revenge. Where the tragedy occurred shows that I never went out to seek the police, but they came where I was at work, and as there were many members of the police force they came with the full intention of shooting and not arresting me.
McIntyre’s evidence is sufficient to show I did not intend to murder, because he swears I could have shot them often without saying a word. It stands to reason four men wish the intention of shooting two men could have done so on the first favorable opportunity, and would not have called on them to bail up. McIntyre’s evidence shows I had him covered when I told him to bail up and surrender, so if I intended to take his life I would have shot him. When I had him first covered, according to his evidence, I took my rifle off him and covered Lonigan as he was in the act of running to a tree drawing his revolver. It was stated that I shot Lonigan for revenge, but McIntyre’s evidence shows that neither I nor my companions knew who it was at the time. If I had intended to shoot him I should have shot him at once, and not called upon him to surrender. Any man who calls upon the police or others to bail up does not intend to take life.
Both for Kennedy’s and Scanlon’s death McIntyre is the most accountable, because he told them a falsehood when he said they were surrounded, placing them in a false position, and also in not telling them whom they were surrounded by. What he should have said was, “Sergeant, don’t move, you are covered by Ned Kelly and three other men, and if you attempt to fight you will be shot, but if you surrender your arms you won’t be shot.” Then the men would have known their exact position.
It is, as Judge Barry said, unlawful to disarm the police, but I wished to show the difference between disarming and murdering them. Take the police evidence of the career of myself and companions, and it will show that we were anything but bloodthirsty. Likewise in the whole of our career we never ill-used or maltreated man, woman, or child; we always refrained from doing a cowardly act.
The next thing I wish to mention is the crown prosecution trying to point out my bloodthirstiness in wearing steel armour; but, on the contrary, without armor I could never have robbed a guarded bank and disarmed the police without taking life, but with armour I had no occasion to take life.
I can solemnly swear now before God and man it never was my intention to take life, even at Glenrowan. I was determined to capture Superintendent Hare, O’Connor, and blacks for an exchange of prisoners. While I had them as hostages no police would follow me. In lieu of taking them I thought it might be as well to leave them surrounding the barracks at Glenrowan and yet get possession of their train and horses without an encounter, and get a civilian to claim the reward.
I know it is useless to trespass upon your valuable time, because of the expense the Government has been put to they will only be satisfied with my life, although found guilty of a charge I of all men in the world would be the last to be guilty of. There is one wish in conclusion I should like you to grant me, that is, the release of my mother before my execution, as detaining her in prison could not make any difference to the Government now, for the day will come when all men will be judged by their deeds and their mercy, also if you would give my friends my body to bury in consecrated ground.
— EDWARD KELLY (his X mark).
Witness — WILLIAM BURK, warder.
The other statement recapitulated the circumstances connected with Kelly’s career.
The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA), 12 November 1880, p. 5
Also published in:
The Express & Telegraph (Adelaide, SA), 12 November 1880, p. 2 (Second Edition)
The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA), 12 November 1880, p. 2 of the supplement “The South Australian Advertiser Summary for Europe”
The South Australian Weekly Chronicle and Mail (Adelaide, SA), 13 November 1880, p. 26 (Late Edition)
The Narracoorte Herald (Narracoorte, SA), 16 November 1880, p. 4
Launceston Examiner (Launceston, Tas.), 19 November 1880, p. 3
bail up = to hold up a person (or persons), for the purpose of robbery; to accost, detain, or waylay a person (or persons), for the purpose of talking or having a conversation
crown prosecution = a legal prosecuting service operating in the name of “the Crown” (the governing power of a land operating under a constitutional monarchy, which is said to govern on behalf of the Crown, i.e. on behalf of the ruling monarch; the lawyers (crown prosecutors) in a trial, who act on behalf of the Crown to prosecute those who are accused of crimes
[Editor: Changed “life even at Glenrowan” to “life, even at Glenrowan” (inserted a comma); “Superintendent Hare O’Connor” to “Superintendent Hare, O’Connor” (inserted a comma); “their mercy” to “their mercy,” (inserted a comma) (the latter two changes are in line with the text printed in The Narracoorte Herald, 16 November 1880).]
[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]
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