FELON’S APPREHENSION ACT 1878
In colonial Australia the families of ex-convicts and poor Irish immigrants were often on the receiving end of an unfair English justice system, which favoured the rich and powerful.
Against this background, Ned Kelly, his brother Dan and their friends Steve Hart and Joe Byrne formed a gang and became bushrangers (outlaws). They were hated by the authorities but revered and aided by many ordinary folk who thought Ned Kelly had been persecuted and forced into crime.
On the 26th October 1878 at Stringybark Creek, the Kelly gang shot and killed three police troopers and wounded a fourth, when the police set a trap for them. After this there was a price on Ned Kelly’s head.
Desperate to catch the bushrangers the government of the time revived a medieval law that had been obsolete in England for centuries. They called it the Felon’s Apprehension Act of 1878.
This Act enabled the Kelly gang to be proclaimed as outlaws. It was one of the most serious laws parliament could evoke. It authorized any person to shoot the proclaimed dead like wild beasts, without demand for surrender, or any process of arrest or trial.
On the ninth of December 1878, the Kelly gang came out of hiding in the ranges to hold up the bank in Euroa, their first public appearance since the Stringybark Creek murders. They made their way to a sheep station on the Faithful Creek to spend the night, having first locked up the manager and his men in the storeroom. The next day after a hearty meal they rode away.
On the day of the tenth, at the exact time the Licensing Court was in session and the town's only policeman otherwise occupied, the Kelly gang robbed the bank. They got away with more than nineteen hundred pounds as well as thirty or so ounces of gold. After a siege at the Glenrowan hotel, Ned was finally captured. Dan Kelly, Steve Hart and Joe Byrne were killed when the hotel was set alight.
Ned Kelly was subsequently put on trial, found guilty and hanged in what is now known as the Old Melbourne Jail.
The Old Melbourne Jail is now a tourist attraction and is open to the public and what a spooky place it is even in daylight. Ned Kelly’s death mask is out on display and the scaffold still stands with the rope swinging over the trapdoor.
My latest novel, Savage Possession is set against this background.
BLURB: Savage Possession:
A sweeping tale of love's triumph over tragedy and treachery in frontier Australia.
A mistaken identity opens the door for Martin Mulvaney to take his revenge on the granddaughter of his mortal enemy.
An old Scottish feud, a love that should never have happened, and a series of extraordinary coincidences traps two lovers in a family feud that threatens to destroy their love, if not their lives.