What's New The Kelly Family The Fitzpatrick Incident The Kelly Outbreak Glenrowan
The Exhibitions Trial of Ned Kelly Travelling & Performing Central West NSW The Relics

Kate Kelly was the object of desire of Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick, whose unwanted advances at the Kelly homestead on 15th April 1878 triggered the celebrated Kelly Outbreak."I lost my revolver after two shots had been fired;" so states Constable Fitzpatrick, his testimony prompting the Victorian Government to outlaw Ned and brother Dan, and to incarcerate their mother Ellen. Daughters Maggie and fifteen year old Kate were left behind to care for the large, improvident family. Despite repeated harassment by the local police, the revolver was never found. Kate and Maggie provided supplies and ammunition for the outlaws while in hiding, her brother-in-law, Edward Foster, later noting that "she had two gun shot wounds in her right leg as souvenirs of her girlhood adventures"

Now we have a .32 calibre revolver, with a wooden stock, inscribed with the initials KK, uncovered some years ago in the demolition of a house in Central West NSW, occupied by Ned's younger sister, Kate. The revolver bears the insignia of the Royal Constabulary, associated with the police force who hunted the Kelly gang in the period 1878-1880. Such relics were on show as early as 1880 at a display known in the popular newspapers as the Kate Kelly Exhibition: 'The brother and sister of notorious bushranger Ned Kelly have paid a visit in Sydney for the purpose of exhibiting themselves and
some of the relics of the bushranging conflicts; but the police interfered, and the exhibition has been stopped.'

Kate's story, ending in her tragic early death in 1898, has lain in the long shadow cast by Ned. This revolver, be it the fated Fitzpatrick weapon or one of the many appropriated by the Kellys during the Outbreak, helps reclaim her story. It offers a more active vision of one of the most significant women in the Kelly saga, the young woman, who as Ada Hennessy and Kate Ambrose performed equestrienne displays at shows and circuses in Adelaide, Sydney and Central NSW. She would later work at the Promenade Hotel in Albury in 1884, at Glendore as a domestic, and at Cadow Station, in 1885. In Forbes, she worked as a domestic, where she met her husband, William 'Brickie' Foster, before working for a time at a hotel in Myrrhee. In 1888, aged 25, she married Foster. Ten years and six children later she was dead, reported missing on the 6th October 1898. Her body was found in a lagoon off the Condobolin Road. According to the death certificate, there was no evidence of foul play.

Artefacts from this country's history recall places and people who have become part of our folklore. Many of these artefacts assume the status of relics, offering evidence of times past and larger than life figures, who have inspired our communal imagination. Here is a relic that opens a doorway into Kate Kelly's story with that most resonant of Kelly Gang artifacts ...a gun.

Venue: Shapiro Gallery, 162 Queen Street, Woollahra NSW from January 27 to February 5 2007

Other Kelly items will include scrimshaw horns, Kelly gang photographs, and other Australian Icons. For more information contact Tom Thompson of Gumquest on 0422 967 432, by email on ettimprint@veritel.com.au

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