26 August 2014

JCU Lecturer Story of Bushranger Ned Kelly Childhood Home; Now Going to Auction

The childhood home of legendary bushranger Edward ‘Ned’ Kelly, built in 1859 and still in original condition, will go to auction next month in Beveridge.

The property, on a 3.5 acre block of land and with heritage-listed bluestone cottage plus accompanying Federation-style home, was built when Ned Kelly was four years old by his father. Indeed, the Irish heritage of John ‘Red’ Kelly is part of the reason why the house was added to the Victorian Register of Historic Buildings in 1992, as it resulted in a design atypical to the region.
The two-room timber cottage is said to have a bluestone chimney, earthen floor and wood-grained braced doors, while the site also has elegant iron gates.
Ned Kelly lived in the home until 1863. Having moved to Avenal, Red Kelly was sent to gaol in 1865 and died a year later, from what were said to be the effects of his imprisonment.
A previous Townsville JCU lecturer, Brad Webb has been credited with creditable historic reporting on Ned Kelly and the Beveridge home was the feature of Ned Kelly's childhood in the early years.
In 1995, Brad Webb launched ‘Ned Kelly: Australian Ironoutlaw’ which today has grown to be one of the largest history related web sites in the world. With nearly 500 html pages, the site attracts over 350,000 visitors a year (that’s 8.5 million hits). It has become a valuable resource for both teacher and student, as well as a sounding board for many Kelly related themes and ideas. It can be found at www.ironoutlaw.com
Complementing his industry experience, Brad taught at James Cook University in Townsville for four years and offered his services at the RMIT School of Advertising in Melbourne from 2004-2009.
Thank you to Brad Webb for the following research:
The Early Years
"The Kelly cottage at Beveridge was constructed by Ned’s father ‘Red’ in 1859. The house has since under gone additional work including a corrugated iron roof. Today it’s state is close to condemnable.

In 1841, Ellen and her six brothers and sisters arrived in Australia from County Antrim, Ireland. Her father, James Quinn, was a free settler who rented land for dairying in Brunswick upon their arrival. In the early 1850s they settled in Wallan near the Merri Creek. While at Wallan, James Quinn hired a young labourer, John ‘Red’ Kelly, fresh from Van Diemen’s Land. Kelly had served a seven year sentence for stealing two pigs after being transported from Tipperary, Ireland. It was in Wallan that John met James’ daughter Ellen and they were to marry soon after at St. Francis’ Roman Catholic Church in Melbourne. Ellen and John lived with the Quinns after they were married and it was here that a young Ned Kelly carved his initials, an EK and two K’s, into the door of his grandfather’s forge. In 1854 the Kelly’s moved a short distance along the Hume Highway to Beveridge after ‘Red’ purchased twenty-one acres for seventy pounds – money he had managed to save from gold digging and horse-dealing.

In January 1859, when his son Ned was nearly four years old, John Kelly built the family a timber cottage. It was a typical Irish style of cottage with an earthen floor and drainage running between rooms. Internally, there were only two rooms and there was no ceiling, while the bluestone chimney dominated the house. By 1862, young Ned had started school in the little town’s new Roman Catholic Church. The two teachers, Thomas and Sarah Wall, also taught Ned’s sisters Annie, aged nine, and Maggie, aged six. A surviving description of Ned by schoolmate Frederick Hopkins states, “He was a tall active lad and excelled all others at school games.” In six months, Ned had learnt to read and write to second class standard, before ‘Red’ sold his farm in 1864 for eighty pounds.

Two of Ellen Kelly’s sisters married members of the Lloyd family and for many years the Kellys, the Quinns and the Lloyds made a formidable clan. John and Ellen Kelly had eight children: Mary, Annie, Ned, Maggie, Jim, Dan, Kate and Grace. After he sold Beveridge, ‘Red’ took the family eighty kilometres north to Avenel in a bid to avoid being caught up with his brother Jim, who was already up to his neck in the horse and cattle stealing and would soon be in trouble with the law. The Kellys thus shifted over the Great Dividing Range, a four day journey with stock, although a gskilled horseman could cover the distance overnight.

It was here in 1865, a young Richard ‘Dick’ Shelton was nearly swept away in the flooded waters of Hughes Creek as he attempted to cross a fallen-tree-footbridge on his way to school. He was rescued by a ten-year-old Ned Kelly, who, without hesitation, jumped into the water fully clothed and paddled young Dick safely to the creek’s bank. The shivering youngsters made their way to the nearby Royal Mail Hotel which was owned by Dick’s parents, Esau and Margaret Shelton. The boys dried themselves by the fireplace and Esau lent Ned some clothes, while Dick retold the near fatal story. The Sheltons rewarded Ned with an elaborate two hundred and twenty-one centimetre long, fourteen centimetre wide green silk sash complete with gold bullion fringes at each end. The colour chosen was symbolic of Irish heritage.
'Ned was able to rescue the seven year old Richard Shelton from drowning when he fell in the creek opposite the Kelly home. His courage must have been exemplary for the Shelton family saw fit to make a public occasion of it by presenting him with a gold-fringed sash.'
It is also probable the Sheltons paid Ned’s father Red’s court fine allowing him to return to his family with an early release from the Avenel lockup where John ‘Red’ Kelly had been charged with stealing a calf from a Mr. Morgan. While the charge of cattle stealing was dismissed, the charge of ‘unlawful possession of a hide’ was upheld and he was fined £25 or six months in gaol. Unable to pay the fine, Red was held at the Avenel lock-up instead of the far harsher Kilmore Gaol. This, more than likely, had something to do with the regard people held for his son Ned and his saving of the Shelton lad. Ned’s bravery may have won his father lenient treatment, a generous remission, and imprisonment in the local lock-up instead of a distant gaol, however, when ‘Red’ returned to the family in the first week of October 1865, he also returned to the bottle and, scarcely more than a year later, died of dropsy — an alcohol induced illness that bloats the body.

The sudden death of his father meant that Ned had to leave school at the age of twelve. John 'Red' Kelly was buried at the Avenel Cemetery in December 1866 and Ned Kelly, at the age of eleven-and-a-half, stepped into his father’s shoes and left his school life behind. The loss of the family breadwinner was a severe blow to the family but Mrs Kelly, a widow at age thirty-three with seven children. was a determined woman. She moved her family to a slab hut on Eleven Mile Creek, not far from Benalla and halfway between Greta and Glenrowan, an area which today is still referred to as ‘Kelly Country’.

The heroic deed, and the Sheltons, remained firmly in Ned’s memory throughout the remainder of his life. In 1880, Ned proudly wore the sash as a cummerbund under his famous suit of armour in the shootout with police at Glenrowan. While Ned was captured after receiving twenty-eight bullet wounds and executed less than five months later on November 11, 1880, the frayed, blood-stained sash still survives today, and is on display at the Costume and Pioneer Museum in Benella."

Reference:
The Iron Outlaw website, Brad Webb - www.ironoutlaw.com
Real Estate News - wwww.thehomepage.com.au