Was Ned Kelly’s 15-year-old mugshot taken by John Paul Carolin?

I’ve built up a network of like-minded amateur family historians on individual quests of discovery. As such, I’m getting regular updates, questions, salutations and conundrums placed before me. It was recently that in amongst an email with multi-part questions was a rather interesting assertion from Denise Hammond. She had found a newspaper article about the first “Mug Shot of Ned Kelly being taken at the Kyneton lock-up”.

In 1870, Ned Kelly at the age of 15 years was locked-up in Kyneton for 3 weeks on charges of associating with a known bushranger Harry Power. He was subsequently released with no charge being laid.

The timeline for Ned Kelly during this period was:

4 May 1870 Ned arrested at the family home.

5 May 1870 Benalla Court charged with Highway Robbery Under Arms. Remanded for 7 days for police to gather witnesses.

12 May 1870 Charge of Robbery in Company at Kilfera. Witness McBean, could not identify Ned and he was discharged. A second charge of Highway Robbery Under Arms at Seymour, was discharged. Ned was charged with Robbery Under Arms at Lauriston and remanded to Kyneton to await trial. He was sent to Richmond, before being transported to Kyneton.

20 May 1870 Appears at Kyneton Court and remanded in custody.

27 May 1870 Appears in Kyneton Court. Remand for further 7 days granted.

3 June 1870 Appears in Kyneton Court. Police ask for discharge of prisoner.

The mugshot then was taken between the 20 May and the 3 June 1870.

John Paul Carolin, two time Mayor of Bendigo (1889-1990 and 1907-1908) ran, amongst other things, the photographic studio from Piper Street, Kyneton from 1866. It has been suggested that the most likely photographer was JP Carolin.

The following article from the McIvor Times and Rodney Advertiser (Heathcote) on Thursday 21 November 1878, page 2 appears to describe in some detail who JP Carolin took the first photo of Ned Kelly, Australia’s most notorious bushranger.

Edward Kelly's photograph taken by JP Carolin - McIvor Times and Rodney Advertiser (Heathcote) Thursday 21 November 1878, page 2.jpg

EDWARD KELLY.—We take the following from the Bendigo Independent,— A gentleman who was recently at Kyneton states that whilst being about the town by a friend, he was taken to the photographic studio of Mr. Perry, Carolin’s Buildings. It was in this place that the carte of the now notorious Edward Kelly, was taken. It was photographed by Mr. J. P. Carolin, who then had the business. The photograph was taken under instructions from the police, in whose custody Kelly then was. He evinced a determination not to allow of his likeness being taken, and was very restless, taking good care to be particularly so when the apparatus was being adjusted. Mr. Carolin, however, was up to the occasion, and resorted to a little bit of artifice, in order to take his “subject.” He pretended to give the matter up as a bad job, and entered into conversation with the police officer who was present. He commenced to explain the apparatus and its working. At the same time he was adjusting it, and likewise watching Kelly. Seizing a favorable moment He suddenly removed the cap, and immediately Kelly found that he had been “taken” unawares. Whether the police will “take” him unawares remains yet to he seen.

There are three points to be made here:

  1. The gentleman giving the account isn’t mentioned
  2. The description of the account is quite detailed
  3. It is made some eight years after the event took place, but in 1878 Ned Kelly was quite well known after killing three policemen. So he would have been quite topical.

There is some hope that there might be something on the back of the photo. Did JP Carolin’s photo studio have a business name?

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 11.36.53.png
The Carolin family c 1889 Back row: John Jack Carolin Jnr, Agnes Elizabeth Connolly nee Carolin, Winifred M Higgins nee Carolin holding baby Pauline Teresa Higgins, Maria Elizabeth Parer nee Carolin, Michael (Miguel) Joaquin Ramon Parer. Second Row: William Henry Higgins, Elizabeth Corcoran nee Spillane, Mary Carolin nee Corcoran, John Paul Carolin. Third Row: Teresa Mary Imelda Parer nee Carolin, William Carolin, Catherine Elizabeth Veronica “Vera” Luttrell nee Carolin.

Dufty & Carolin

In June 1866, in partnership with Carolin, who had a photographic studio in Kyneton, where they produced twenty-one views of Kyneton to be forwarded to the 1866 Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition, held at the Public Library in Melbourne, 1866-67. Further photographs were soon added, including views of the homes of prominent residents and landscapes at Black Hill. The Kyneton Guardian considered a photograph of Mr Dutton’s property “one of the sweetest Australian scenes we have ever seen photographed”. Three views of Victorian scenery by Dufty and Carolin were selected to be sent on from Melbourne to the 1867 Paris Universal Exhibition.

Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition - Public Library in Melbourne, 1866-67.jpg
Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition – Public Library in Melbourne, 1866-67.


Francis Herbert Dufty

Francis Herbert Dufty arrived in Melbourne from England in 1865. He was a professional photographer, with his brother Edward he travelled the Victorian goldfields with a horse-drawn portable studio. In 1867, F.H. Dufty then went into partnership with his brother, Edward J. Dufty; an undated carte-de-visite by Dufty Brothers of Mollison Street, Kyneton, is recorded by Davis and Stanbury. As travelling photographers, the firm visited Landsborough and Colac in 1868. F.H. Dufty alone was listed in the Melbourne Directory for 1869, at 108 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, while Edward presumably remained in the country. In 1871 Dufty Brothers were at Fryerstown; in January 1872 they visited McIvor for a few days, calling themselves ‘The No. 3 Branch of the Expedition Portrait Company’ when advertising their presence in the McIvor News. They were also at Heathcote that year and, continuing under this trading name, at Market Square, Sandhurst (Bendigo).

That would mean that at the time of the Ned Kelly photograph there were two photo studios in Kyneton : JP Carolin’s on Piper Street and Edward Dufty. Either of which could have taken the Ned Kelly mugshot.

A little investigating shows the Ned Kelly lock-up photo is at PROV amongst an extensive Ned Kelly collection and it may be possible to have someone check the back of the photograph to confirm in some way who took the photograph.


In amongst my own little desktop research I discovered the book : Ned Kelly, the Authentic Illustrated Story by Keith McMenomy.

Some of the background information within in relation to Ned’s father Red Kelly who came from Tipperary and was commuted to Van Diemen’s Land for 7 years for stealing 2 pigs in 1841 at the age of 21. This might give us some insight to the landscape of Tipperary and how and why so many ended up in Australia in “Kelly Country”.

This may lead to some clues about how to discover some more information about John Corcoran, the Tipperary farmer and how he might have died. John Corcoran married Elizabeth Spillane and had eight children, including Mary Corcoran who married JP Carolin. Ireland during the time of John Corcoran’s death was not pleasant with the potato famine through 1845–1852 causing about one million deaths from starvation and disease and forced another million to migrate to America, Canada and Australia. The potato being the staple food product for about 85 per cent of the Irish population.

When slavery was abolished in England in 1807 Irish convictions for petty offences arose and were subsequently transported to Australia for a minimum of seven years. A quarter of the 162,000 convicts sent to Australia between 1788 and 1868, were Irish.

So who took the photo? I think there is a strong likihood that it was indeed John Paul Carolin did take the first photo of Ned Kelly.


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