SO much has been written about the Kelly Gang that few people know about four fellows that imitated them.
“The other Kelly gang” were caught and treated harshly, one of them, a teenager, jailed in Albury for part of his 10-year sentence.
The imitators of the famous bushrangers were all safely in jail in 1879 while Ned and Dan Kelly, Steve Hart and Joe Byrne were still running free and wild in North East Victoria.
The youngest of the wannabe bushrangers was Billy Kaye, the oldest a disabled man called Hoppy Bill.
Kaye was released from Albury Jail in 1887, eight years after he was sentenced to death as one of the Hatfield Bushrangers, when aged 17 or 18.
The Hatfield Bushrangers were four young larrikin horsemen whose bushranging lasted a mere few days in February 1879.
Kaye and two friends, Tom Gorman, 21, and Charlie Jones, 20, had been working at capturing brumbies on the lower Murrumbidgee when they decided to rob people.
They bailed up a few travellers on the road between Balranald and Ivanhoe, and were then joined by William Hobbs, aged about 30.
His nickname of Hoppy Bill came about because he had a crooked leg and arm.
Hobbs had been a cook at Hatfield sheep station, about 100 kilometres north of Balranald.
They stuck up Grainger’s store at Hatfield and stole £50 worth of clothing and other goods, two horses, with saddles and bridles.
Next day they stopped a hawker, saying “Bail up. We’re the Kellys,” and robbed him of £40 worth of goods and jewellery.
Two days later they arrived at Till Till station, and bailed up 25 people there.
They took six horses, some ammunition and other articles from the store.
In the meantime John Thomas Day, a storeman at Grainger’s, rode to Moulamein to report the sticking up of the store.
He was sworn in as a special constable and joined troopers Beresford and Powers and an Aboriginal tracker in pursuit.
In an amazing feat, they rode 290 kilometres between 9am on a Sunday and 7pm next day, changing horses at Clare, where they came on the tracks of the bushrangers.
On their arrival at Kilferra, a Mr Casey supplied them with remounts and joined in the chase.
The tracks led down to a dam where Billy, Hoppy and their mates were in camp preparing their supper.
As the posse went forward the bushrangers cried out “bail up”.
The police were in no mood to fool around and demanded: “Surrender in the Queen’s name.”
Both parties fired, and Constable Powers fell wounded in the shoulder.
The startled bushrangers then surrendered.
Police in NSW and Victoria were still hunting for the outlawed Kelly Gang when the four were tried at Deniliquin on April 19, 1879 for robbery under arms and shooting with intent to murder.
A jury found them guilty and Judge Sir William Manning donned his black cap and said that they’d hang.
You have no hope of mercy, he told them.
However, petitions were sent to the NSW government, one signed by the jury, another by a constable involved and by Grainger, the store keeper.
The government commuted the sentences, Kaye getting a 10-year sentence of hard labour on the roads, most of which he spent in Albury.
Gorman got 21 years’ hard labour, with the first three years in irons.
Meanwhile, Jones and Hobbs both got 14 years with three years in irons.
The real Kelly Gang came to an end at Glenrowan in June 1880.
Kaye’s subsequent life is not known but while in jail he was given permission to become a Presbyterian instead of an Anglican.