History News Reports The Railway


Nepean Times (Penrith, NSW : 1882 – 1962), Saturday 22 February 1930, page 3

Ned Kelly’s Last Stand


During the last few moments of freedom enjoyed by Ned Kelly he waged a revolver duel at close quarters with Jesse Dowsett, the guard of the railway train that had taken the police to Glenrowan. Kelly was hanged, but Dowsett is still hale and hearty.

Rattled by the siege of Mrs Jones’ hotel during the night, and encumbered by his armour, Kelly was not true in his aim, and Dowsett went unscathed. Bullets from Dowsett’s revolver pierced Kelly’s ammunition tin, but were stopped by the armour. It was at the very moment that Kelly was about to fire point blank at Dowsett that Sergeant Steele brought the bushranger down with a shot. Dowsett rushed forward and seized the revolver from Kelly’s hand.

Dowsett was afterwards given £175 from the reward of £8000 given by the Victorian and New South Wales Governments. In addition, the Victorian Railway Department promoted him from the goods guard to a passenger guard, with an increase of wages of 1/-a day.

In his home at Glenhuntley he still treasures the relics of that memorable morning when the reign of terror of the Kelly gang came to an end. In a green baize he keeps the revolver which he took from Ned. It is the weapon that Kelly took from the police sergeant at Jerilderie when the gang held up the town and robbed the bank. A chip from the handle shows where one of the police bullets caught Ned. Kelly’s thumb at Glenrowan. Another interesting relic in Mr Dowsett’s possession is the long boot worn by Kelly in the final fight. It was used as evidence at the trial and shows the hole made by one of Sergeant Steele’s bullets. The mustard tin in which Kelly kept his ammunition shows two holes made by the bullets fired at him by Dowsett. One of the bullets was found inside the tin, and is shown by Mr Dowsett as evidence of his good aim.

Jesse Dowsett with his trophies

All through the Kelly episodes Mr. Dowsett was living at Benalla. He was guard on many trains that were rushed to various points to reach the gang, and was issued by the Railway Department with a revolver. On the night of the fight at Glenrowan he felt the train being pulled up and looked out in time to see Thomas Curnow, the Glenrowan schoolmaster, showing a light behind a red handkerchief.

Mr Dowsett recounts his experience at Glenrowan with a spice of humour. “I was walking along the line with Constable Kelly, when we saw some horses tethered. ‘Hullo,’ said Kelly, ‘there’s some of their horses,’ and promptly shot them. The horses belonged to some of the police!”

By AJFPhelan56

I am a 30-something father, writer and artist residing in Melbourne, Australia. Currently writing novels and screenplays on top of running the popular bushranger site A Guide to Australian Bushranging.

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