Spotlight: Ned Kelly’s Niece

[The following article appeared in February 1897 and illustrates the continuing struggles of the Kelly family even after the end of the bushranging outbreak. Maggie Skillion had become Tom Lloyd’s wife in the wake of the outbreak. Alas, Maggie died in January of 1896 leaving Tom to look after the family but this put incredible strain on the children leading to the tragedy that took place the following year.]
NED KELLY’S NIECE.
An inquest was held on Friday at Greta to ascertain the cause of the death of Ellen Skillion, a niece of Ned Kelly, 22 years old. The evidence of the girl’s stepfather, Tom Lloyd, was to the effect that he went to Melbourne for the benefit of his health, leaving the deceased in charge of domestic affairs. He gave her a cheque for £22 13s 4d before going away to cover household expenses during his absence. When he returned last Saturday he inquired of the girl as to how she had spent the missing money.
She accounted for the whole amount with the exception of some £5 or £6 Lloyd told her he would find out where she had spent the missing money, and exchanged a few angry words with her on the subject.

Next day, Sunday, she seemed in her usual health and spirits, and in fact brighter than usual. She retired to bed at about 10 p.m. When Lloyd arose next morning his niece was nowhere to be found. He then made a search in the neighborhood and found no trace of her, and reported the matter to Constable Purcell, of Greta, who at once instituted inquiries. A black tracker from Benalla was sent out on Wednesday, and during the afternoon of that day tracks of the girl were picked up, and followed along the Fifteen Mile Creek to a deep lagoon two miles from her residence, where the tracks ended.

The tracker pointed to the waterhole and said, “She in there.” Next day the body was recovered. The girl left a letter behind addressed to her brother, Jas. Skillion, in which she bade him good-bye, stating that she was going on a long journey. She told him that he

could have certain property of hers, and advised him to avoid bad company. No marks of violence were found on the body, nor were there any traces of a struggle near the lagoon. A verdict that deceased committed suicide by drowning was returned.

Deceased was a daughter of the late Mrs Skillion, whose husband is said to have started the first trouble which led to Ned Kelly and his confederates beginning the lawlessness which culminated in their downfall as bushrangers at Glenrowan.

Source:
“NED KELLY’S NIECE.” Bairnsdale Advertiser and Tambo and Omeo Chronicle (Vic. : 1882 – 1918) 16 February 1897: 4 (morning.).

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