Meet the people of the KellyGang story
I made several attempts to stow away on ships and was always caught and returned to shore. I was finally successful and not found until the ship was 3 months into its journey to Australia.
I was given the job of cabin boy and was to handed over to the authorities on arrival in Australia but jumped ship before the authorities could board the ship.
My name "Brickey" comes from the fact that when when I set foot on dry land, I sought jobs in brick yards around the outskirts of Melbourne for a few years before heading to the Benalla region of Victoria.
I had been a boarder with Mrs Kelly whilst working and buying a selection next to the Kelly property
I thought it was very bad for Ned to be mixing with the hard drinking older men at the timber mill when he was only 16.
I was involved in the incident with Wild Wright and Ned Kelly and a horse in 1871 and gave evidence against Wild Wright. I was sent to gaol for illegal use of a horse.
I was arrested on January 1872 by Const Flood with aiding and abetting James Quinn in an assault on a man called James Page. I got 18 months for it (Argus11/11/78) (RC12588)
In 1874 I was released from goal and went to live on Eleven Mile Creek on the selection between Mrs Kelly and the Skillions
I was copping wood and splitting fence rails at Mrs Kelly's home when Fitzpatrick arrived to arrest Dan Kelly
Later I was inside the Kelly home prior to the time when Fitzpatrick was injured and took 2 of the Kelly children outside when they started to scream. Fitzpatrick alleged that I had a revolver but there is no evidence to support this. Sgt Steele and Const Brown did not find anything when they arrested me. see (Argus22/4/78) (RC8821 RC12822)
Basically because I was there at the time I was arrested along with Mrs Kelly and Skillion and charged with attempted murder of Fitzpatrick. The KellyGang set out Ned Kelly's side of these events in the Cameron letter. Of course Dan and Ned Kelly had decided to go bush.
I get so angery when I tell this story. Perhaps it is best if you hear it from Ida, one of my daughters. I told a journalist about these matters at about the time of the First World War and she was there. She took notes at the time, and I feel we can rely on her excellent memory. She died aged 96 in October 1994.
"Father was cutting timber on the high ground above the Kelly house when he heard screaming coming from the house. He ran down to see a drunken constable Fitzpatrick being threatened by Dan Kelly. Mrs. Kelly had picked up a shovel and was also threatening the constable. Father took the screaming children outside and calmed them down.
"The incident started when Fitzpatrick made drunken advances towards Kate. Dan tried to throw the constable out the door and failed. Fitzpatrick discovered his wrist was bleeding (father does`t know how it happened). After Mrs. Kelly and Kate bandaged the wrist Fitzpatrick shook hands with everyone and declared that the whole thing would be forgotten."
I was described by the police as, " nationality, lrish, age, 25 years, thinn build, fair complexion, beard cut short." (SMH18/4/78)
I told my daughter that Ned was not there during the incident. A gun was not produced, had such a thing happened the children would have been hysterical. Jim Kelly said that I was not even there (BWC)
Hear Ned Kellys version of what happened (Age9/8/1880)
Dan was not very bright unlike Ned whom I judged to be very intelligent.
Sgt Steele and Consts Brown
and Strahan arrested me at 9pm on 16/4/1878
next door to the Kelly home. Steele went to Skillian's place, but could not
find him then, so he took into Greta. He returned again to get the others.
Later they arrested William Skillion and Mrs Kelly. They were taken to Benalla on the 17th. From there they were taken to Beechworth Goal then back to Benalla for their committal on 17 May. On 9 October 1878, with Sir Redmond Barry as the judge. Skillion, Mrs Kelly and I were found guilty and on 12/10/1878, Mrs Kelly was sentenced to 3 years and Skillion and I recieved 6 years hard labour. Even Com Standish thought my sentence was a very severe punishment. (RC6) (Argus14/10/78) (Argus30/10/78)
See also the Jerilderie Letter
Soon after the trial I was moved to Pentridge with Skillion
Later I wrote to Mr JJ Kenneally with a true version of my story [JJK)
I was very upset when I heard of the KellyGang and the Mansfield Murders that took place on 26/10/1878. Horse stealing is one thing, but murder, that is another thing. I do not hold with murder. On 15/11/1878 I made a statement to Inspector Green while I was in the Pentridge prison:-See my statement to the Royal Commission report Appendix 13 (see also RC1917)
I am not proud of telling on the KellyGang but please understand my position. I was sentenced to 6 years for trying to help my neighbour, Mrs Kelly, chop some wood. At my trial the only defence Ned Kelly could offer was that Bill Skillion was not there. What about me, I did not shoot at the policeman.
The Royal Commission acknowledged my assistance in identifying how the KellyGang was being supplied. (RC2nd reportVIII)
There was evidence at the Royal Commission that Brickey had supported Fitzpatricks evidence in statements that he made while in Pentridge Prison. The Greta community were not happy.
I was threatened by the sympathizers for supplying information to the police (RC16716)
In 1881 I was pardoned. Even the authorities accepted my story. For a while he travelled around this region of NSW shearing sheep. I got married and went to live at Coolamon in New South Wales.
I married Ellen Buckley at Mullengandra, near Albury in New South Wales.
I came to live at Coolamon in 1884 and settled on a selection on the outskirts of the town. Later I bought a further two properties in the area.
In 1901 I wrote a letter to JJ Keneally giving my account of what happened when Constable Fitzpatrick came to arrest Ned Kelly and the letter along with a photograph was published in the book "The Inner History of Kelly Gang".
I returned to England around 1912 to visit my brother and and then returned to my farm and my family.
I saw out the last of my days on the Millwood Road farm. I was known as a great horseman well into my sixties. I had become a respected of the community but I always held a healthy distrust of the police..
I died in Coolamon on the 3rd of October 1932.
My daughter was very proud of the fact that I did not like drink and did`nt swear. I did however keep a Demi-John of sherry at the farm for visitors.
My daughter remembered when Wild Wright came to visit us at the farm when she was about 3 or 4.( about 1901) She played under the table while Wright and I talked, bumped her head and cried. Wild Wright tried to sooth her and pretended to cry too.
And she also remembers Bill Skillion visiting the farm. She said, "He strode down the road towards the house, wearing a large brimmed hat, he was tall with reddish hair."
Of our children
Mary Jane (b25.10.1883 at Wagga), married Oscar St Clair Woodforth in Coolamon on 27.6.1910, 3 children
Charles Alecandra (b22.2.1885),
Margaret Anne (b28.10.1887),
Catherine Ellen (b2.4.1889),
Albert (b15.11.1890), married Susan Longmore
Alice Maude (b14.10.1895)
Ida May (b23.2.1897), married William McKenzie who worked on William Williamson's farm, children - Alex, Noel, Elizabeth (betty), Ena (married Ronald Murphy, 3 children-Rhonda, Steve and Llyod.), Beryl, Shirley and Claire.