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Police Sergeant Michael KennedyPrint Page Print this page

Police Sergeant Michael Kennedy
Police Sergeant Michael Kennedy

Photographs supplied by Kent Watson

Marble headstone over the grave commemorates Police Sergeant Michael Kennedy, killed in the gun battle with the Kelly Gang at Stringybark Creek in 1878. An inscription was added to the memorial at a later date in memory of his wife Bridget Mary who died in 1924. 

On 26 October 1878, Constable Thomas McIntyre was the only police officer to survive an attack on a police camp at Stringybark Creek in the Wombat Ranges near Mansfield.

Ned and Dan Kelly, two horse and cattle thieves, aided by friends Steve Hart and Joe Byrne ambushed the police. McIntyre was captured by the Gang while Constables Michael Scanlan and Thomas Lonigan were shot dead. Sergeant Michael Kennedy then fought a lone gun battle against the four murderers until he was wounded and fell to the ground. Defenceless, he was then murdered by Ned Kelly. Several children – the youngest a mere baby – were made fatherless by these brutal killings and the bodies of the dead police were looted by the gang.

Thomas McIntyre escaped and, tormented for the rest of his life over the affair, later wrote this account of what happened. After the shoot-out at Glenrowan, Thomas McIntyre was the only living witness to what had occurred at Stringybark Creek. Unsurprisingly, his version of events differed markedly from that given by Ned Kelly at Kelly’s trial in Melbourne.

According to the Benalla Standard, "some hitch is likely to arise regarding the erection of a tombstone in the Mansfield cemetery over the graves of sergeant Kennedy and constables Lonegan and Scanlon, who were murdered by the Kelly gang."  A number of gentlemen, with the assistance of the Government grant, have secured about £200, with which it was intended to erect a suitable tombstone over the graves of the unfortunate policemen. On account of two of the deceased being Roman Catholics and the third a Protestant, it was decided that the bodies should first be laid together, and in order to effect this the consent was obtained from Mrs. Kennedy and the relatives of the other two for the necessary removal, so that the three bodies shall be placed side by side in the ground over which the tombstone is to be erected. To this step Father O'Reilly, the priest residing at Mansfield, has objected, and he refuses to sanction either the removal of the bodies from the Roman Catholic ground or the interment of the Protestant body in the Roman Catholic ground. We consider the Roman Catholic bishop should be appealed to in this ease for permission to sanction the request asked. It seems hard that these brave fellows, who lived, fought, and died together, should have their ashes separated under such circumstances by the mandate of one parson. If the request is not complied with, we would suggest that the three bodies be exhumed and placed under the large monument about to be erected in the cross streets of Mansfield by the Murdered Police Memorial Fund Committee. 
Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW),
7 January 1880.

Location

Address:Highett Street, Cemetery, Mansfield, 3722
State:VIC
Area:AUS
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -37.065556
Long: 146.086389
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Details

Monument Type:Grave
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Crime
Actual Event STart Date:26-October-1878
Actual Event End Date:26-October-1878

Dedication

Approx. Monument Dedication Date:1880
Front Inscription

         ERECTED
                by
the Parliament of Victoria
              to the
          Memory of 
 
Police - Sergeant
MICHAEL KENNEDY
Native Of Westmeath, Ireland
      Aged 36 years
         Who was
Cruelly Murdered By Armed Criminals
in the Wombat Ranges near Mansfield
 on the 26th October, 1878.
He died in the service of his country.
of which he was an ornament,
highly respected by all good citizens,
and a terror to evil doers.

Source: MA,VMR
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