Feature Stories

Ned Kelly

Concerning the ancestors and descendants of the family of Edward (Ned) Kelly.

Born at Beveridge, Victoria in 1854 the third child of an impoverished family of Irish settlers, Ned Kelly spent most of his short life in North Eastern Victoria with the family moving to Avenel and finally Greta, between Benalla and Wangaratta.

It was from Greta that he embarked upon his notorious career.

Embracing brawling, horse stealing, bank robbery, and the murder of police - for which he was eventually hanged at the Melbourne Jail on 11 November 1880 - following his capture at 'the siege at Glenrowan'.

Admired for his courage, enormous stamina, boundless initiative, leadership qualities, loyalty, and republican ideals - but vilified for his lawlessness - Ned Kelly continues to this day as an Australian enigma. - Maybe we shall never decide!

Hector MacDonald Laws Waller

William Frederick Waller married Miss Helen Duncan at Melbourne in 1879. Their first child, Charles Gordon was born the same year. His birth was followed by that of Robert Duncan in 1881, William Alexander 1884, Arthur James 1886, Henry Boyd 1888, Ernest Frederick 1890, Jessie Margaret 1892, Alice Helen 1894, Donald Maine in 1896 and on Wednesday April 4th 1900, their last child, they named Hector Macdonald Laws Waller was born.

Growing up in Benalla, in the new Commonwealth of Australia, Hector was top receive his education at both Benalla East State School and then from 1912, at Benalla High School, that was initially operated in the St. Andrews Church. Hector was one of the first students to attend the High School. He was to go on to become one of the schools top students.

By 1914, Hec had joined the navy as a cadet, and in his final year in 1917, at Jervis Bay, he won the Prestigious Kings Medal. As a cadet Midshipman, his first appointment was in 1918 to the British Navy where he served aboard H.M.S. Agincourt and then H.M.S. Torch, before returning to Australia on H.M.A.S. Melbourne.

In 1920, as a sub-lieutenant, he left for England once more to further his studies in gunnery, torpedo work, seamanship and navigation. Upon qualifying in 1922, he was promoted to Lieutenant. [And] upon his return to Australia the following year, he took an appointment as signal officer at Flinders Naval Base and in 1923-1924 was the assistant Director of the Communications.

Two years on (once again in England, this time on exchange) he was given the position of Signal Officer on H.M.S. Broke. Still in England in 1929, he was promoted to Lieutenant-Commander. Returning to Australia in the following year to take up position of Squadron Signal Officer on H.M.A.S. Canberra, where he remained until 1932.

His next move was in 1934 when he took up an appointment at the Naval College as Commander. In 1936 saw him again in exchange in England. There he served on H.M.S. Brazen. and within that same year he was back in Australia on duty for a short time in the Navy Office.

In 1939, with Hector Waller in Command, the ship H.M.A.S. Sturt, led the 10th Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean. His ship was involved in the 1939-1941 Tobruk ferry run, the Layan campaign and the battle of Calabria and Matapan. During this time he was promoted to Captain and it was while serving in the Mediterranean that he won the Distinguished Serve Order and Bar. He left the ship H.M.A.S. Stuart in 1941 and on his return to Australia, was given command of H.M.A.S. Perth. Before taking up this position Hector and his wife (Nancy Bowes died 1977) visited his old school, Benalla High, where he gave the students a most inspiring talk.

On taking command of H.M.A.S. Perth he assisted with the evacuation of Singapore, operated in the Coral Sea in late 1941 and early 1942 and then took part in the battle for the defence of Java. During the Java Sea Battle while in the company of U.S.S. Houston, Wallers ship was sunk by a far superior Japanese force. Captain Waller lost his life during the battle. The survivors were taken prisoner. Only two hundred of the men returned at the end of the war, with one hundred and fifty of those who had survived the sinking of the Perth dying in prisoner of war camps or on the Burma - Thailand Railway.

Rather treasured by Benalla is one of Captain Waller's dress uniform and his medals which are held at the Benalla Pioneer Museum. He is also remembered locally by the naming of Waller St in Benalla West and Waller House at Benalla College, the former Benalla Technical School.

Hector MacDonald Laws Waller's name is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, Devon, United Kingdom, panel 72, column 2. The Benalla Cenotaph and the Australian War Memorial, Panel 6.

Sir Ernest Edward 'Weary' Dunlop

The second child born to James Henry Dunlop and Alice Emily Maude (nee Payne) Dunlop, came into the world on Friday 12 July 1907.

He was to be brother to Alan James Dunlop, born two years earlier on 1 November 1905 and would be named Ernest Edward. Both boys were born at Major Plains, in the North East of Victoria.

Ernest and the rest of the family lived on a farm at Major Plains that his parents share-farmed, until shifting in 1910, to their own 580 acre property called 'Summerlea'. This farm was located four miles from Major Plains.

The boys attended Stewarton State School No. 2094, where Ernest completed his primary education and obtained his Merit Certificate at age of thirteen.

In 1921 Ernest started his Higher Education at the Benalla High School completing it in three years, instead of four, in 1923.

Both Ernest and Alan enjoyed childhood games on the farm including making and using bows and arrows, making and sailing toy boats on their large dam and fishing in the Broken River with home made bamboo rods.

Ernest rode his pony called 'Jock' to school, a distance of some two miles. As well, the two boys were expected to work on the farm before and after school as well as on Saturdays.

The Christmas holidays were the time when 'all hands' were required for the wheat harvest. There were always plenty of jobs to be done at this time of the year.

It included loading bags of wheat (they weighed 210 lbs!)onto the tray of the wagon, bag sewing, stooking sheaves, as well as milking the cows and separating the cream.

Whilst at High School, Ernest won the highest swimming award, thus becoming a qualified Lifesaver.

Upon leaving High School, he started at the Victorian College of Pharmacy, Ormond College, Melbourne University.

In 1926, he commenced his apprenticeship with Victor Say in Benalla in his Chemist Shop at 67 Nunn Street. In 1927, Ernest won the Intermediate Medal for Pharmacy, topping his class.

Material held by the Benalla Family Research Group Inc. includes Family Group Sheets.

George Eugene 'Joey' Palmer

George was born on 22 February 1860, at Mulwala, New South Wales, the eldest child of David Brainard Palmer (New York, United States of America) and Mary Barry, (Encastle West, Limerick, Ireland.)

John - born at Baddaginnie in 1863 and Ellen - born 1880, completed the family.

Shortly before George's birth, David Palmer had bought a hotel, known as the 'Hit and Miss' at Baddaginnie, Victoria. This hotel was also known as the 'Coach and Horses'. David Palmer was later to buy more land in the Baddaginnie and Warrenbayne areas and was involved in community activities.

George attended a private school conducted by a Miss Simpson in Nunn Street, Benalla - approximately at the current site of Cecily Court. George later attended McGregor's School in Emerald Hill, Melbourne.

George was 'discovered' by A. E. Wheatley, a well known player of the day, who reported back to his match committee at South Melbourne, 'that a boy playing on the rough wickets of Albert Park, showed a lot of ability as a bowler'.George joined the "Young Victoria" cricket club and through his bowling ability, was invited to play with the South Melbourne Cricket Club.

1878 George played for 'the 15 of Victoria' against Australia at the East Melbourne ground.

1879 played his first Test Match - against Lord Harris's English touring team - in Melbourne. His bowling figures for the match were:- 6 wickets for 64 runs and 3 wickets for 30 runs.

1880 George played in the Australian Test team that toured England. In 'eleven a side' matches, Palmer bowled 711.3 overs, 342 maidens for 890 runs and captured 80 wickets - clean bowling 54 of the 80.

1881 George captured 4 wickets for 53 runs and 7 wickets for 46 runs against England at the M.C.G.

1882 The English Tour, remembered as the tour when 'The Ashes' originated, George Palmer captured 138 wickets on the tour at 12.75 runs per wicket. In Australia, Palmer made 100 runs for the 10th wicket with W. H. Cooper against NSW. In 'Scores and Biographies Volume XV' it notes re Palmer that "In December of that year, the South Melbourne Club presented him with a handsome diamond locket in recognition of the good cricket he showed in England during the year"

1883 George scored the highest number of runs of his career - 204 against Williamstown.

1884 A match,The Smokers v The Nonsmokers,was played at Lords on September 15th and 16th. This match was played for the benefit of the Cricketer's Friendly Society Fund and contary to the anticipation of many, proved to be one of the most attractive contests of the season, though it only occupied two days. No less a sum than 561 pounds was handed in.

Included in the score was -
W.G. Grace, caught and bowled G. Palmer - 10 runs.
Match score - Smokers 111. Nonsmokers 250.
1887. In May, George was staying with his parents at Baddaginnie and whilst out shooting, slipped and suffered a traverse fracture of the knee-cap.

1888 On the 5th February, George married Lucinda Blackham, sister of the renowned 'Prince of Wicketkeepers', Jack - a Victorian and Australian captain. George moved to the East Melbourne Club and held the post of paid secretary of the club until the end of December of that year.

1890 Until this time, George played cricket with St Kilda, Brighton and again with South Melbourne. George gained a position as coach and caretaker at the Launceston ground.George represented Tasmania during this time. Unfortunately, Lucinda passed away in her sleep of heart disease. She was a gifted and accomplished vocalist, being trained by Madame Lucy Chambers. There were no children of this marriage. George stayed in Launceston for a time before returning to Baddaginnie in 1896.

Tommy Horan, who figured prominently at that time, as both a great player and a writer of cricket, indicated Palmer had a good- natured , humerous side. He was a well built man of about twelve stone weight, when he was in his cricket prime. He was a genial fellow, with admirable nerve and, winning or losing, he never varied, being apparently just as cheery in defeat as in victory.

George Palmer's death occured on Monday, August 22nd, 1910 at Nurse Warren's Private Hospital, Benalla, having been brought in from his home at Baddaginnie the previous Saturday, when he had developed pneumonia.

On Sunday, February 14th, 1999 the restored and rehallowed grave of George Eugene Palmer was unveiled by Keith Sherwill who has beeen involved in Victorian cricket for over 60 years.

The Benalla Family Research Group Inc., along with a number of Sporting, Service, Community organisations and interested individuals, was actively involved in the restoration of the Palmer Family Grave and the site is now included in the Benalla Cemetery Walk.

Further information about George Palmer, including copies of the magazine 'CRICKET' No 18, Vol. 1, September 7th 1882 and No 852, Vol XX1X, August 25th 1910 can be viewed at the Group's clubrooms in Benalla.

Sergeant James Hume Kidd

James Hume Kidd was born at Guilford on the 31 March 1854 according to his Police Service Record (or in Northern Ireland if some records are to be believed). He was the son of John and Jane (nee Kidd.)

In the 1870s, entry into the Victoria Police was restricted to those who had served for a time in the Permanent Artillery. After coming to Victoria, James Kidd served his time and then entered the Victoria Police on the 17 December 1877.

He married Mary Ann Whitfield in 1880 and the couple had three children born at Sandhurst between 1883 and 1888. The first child, Lucy, died when one day old. The other children, both married and lived in Melbourne until in their 70s.

In the book, 'Benalla Past and Present', there is a picture showing James Hume Kidd in a 1990 photograph of the Benalla Police. At that time he was a Sergeant. His sister Maud was also with the family in Benalla and she passed away in 1894.

James Hume Kidd was a victim of cancer which eventually caused his death while still serving in the Superintendent's Office.

He died on the 28 February 1898 at the age of 46 years.

James Kidd's wife, Mary Ann, lived for many years after his death and died at Prahran on the 30 August 1943

Reverend John Ride

Methodism was brought to Benalla in 1853 by the Rev. John Ride, a veteran evangelist of the Primitive Church Connexion. John Ride was born in Derbyshire in 1789 - during the lifetime of John Wesley. He was accepted as a candidate for the ministry shortly after his twenty first birthday.

He was ordained and began his life as an itinerant preacher, preaching outdoors and holding cottage prayer meetings. In common with other outdoor preachers, he was stoned, harassed and persecuted. He was shown no sympathy by the magistrate and with others was taken to court on trumped charges of holding unlawful meetings.

The magistrate imposed a goal sentence on him and he spent three weeks in the Liverpool Prison. Later he was goaled again in the Winchester on similar charges. He was eventually cleared of these charges.

In 1849 the call came from the infant colony of Victoria as a Preacher of the Primitive Methodists. John Ride sailed from Southampton in August 1849 arriving in Melbourne on the 17 January 1850. His fame as a preacher had preceded him and he carried out his itinerant ministry - often travelling long distances on horseback to preach. For two years he was the only Primitive Methodist minister in the Colony.

In 1853 John Ride's health failed and he was superannuated from the active ministry and with his wife Martha, moved to Benalla, where their son had a business in Arundel Street north near the Black Swan flats. Shortly afterwards, they moved across the river to the east side and lived in 'Ivy Cottage.' With the growing population, John Ride found the need from the proclamation of the Christian message there being no resident minister of any denomination. So again he began preaching, holding outdoor services under a gum tree at the corner of Mitchell and Benalla streets, as well as conducting cottage prayer meetings.

Requests were sent to Melbourne for a full time minister in the late 1850s. The Rev. William Walton, newly arrived from Yorkshire, arrived in Benalla in November 1860. The Rev. Walton set about organising meetings to appoint officials and hold the first Quarterly meeting. A Chapel was built in 1863 on land near the intersection of Barkly and Salisbury Streets. At the same time a Mission House was built opposite.

The Chapel was opened on the 3 January 1862. The Rev. John Ride, greatly wishing to be present at this historic occasion, was taken by horse and gig, but was too ill to be taken into the Chapel - but his wish was granted - he witnessed the service through an open window. John Ride passed away just two weeks later, on the 19 January. John Ride was buried in the Benalla Cemetery. Ride Avenue Benalla commemorates the name in Benalla. From "Methodism in Benalla and District 1853-1975" by Keith George.