Rainhill man to solve the mystery of Ned Kelly’s skull

Frederick Deeming
Frederick Deeming

THE skull of a Rainhill man may have been mistakenly exhibited for decades as the remains of Australia’s most infamous outlaw Ned Kelly.

Frederick Deeming was executed in 1892 after he butchered his wife and four children in St Helens before fleeing to Melbourne where he went on to commit a second murder.

Infamous Australian bushranger Ned Kelly

Infamous Australian bushranger Ned Kelly

Deeming and Kelly’s remains - along with a number of other executed prisoners - were exhumed in 1929 from the burial grounds at Melbourne Old Gaol.

What was thought to be Kelly’s skull was put on display as part of an exhibition on the bushranger’s life at a Melbourne museum.

However, when a team of Australian scientists launched a forensic investigation into what happened to Kelly’s body after his death, they made the startling discovery.

Media reports in Australia say they have now applied to the Church of England for permission to exhume the grave of Deeming’s brother, Alfred.

The skull once believed to belong to Ned Kelly

The skull once believed to belong to Ned Kelly

If successful, they hope DNA samples from Alfred’s remains will prove the skull belonged to Deeming.

Australia’s Attorney-General Robert Clark has now said he will also write to the UK’s Ministry of Justice asking for help.

“While this issue is of significance to Victoria, it is up to the relevant UK authorities to decide whether an exhumation is appropriate,” he said.

It’s unclear whether the Church of England had yet receieved an application from the Australian team.

Deeming and Kelly were buried alongside each at Melbourne Old Goal and were exhumed together in 1929. The pair’s remains were then re-buried, minus what was mistakenly believed to be Kelly’s skull.

Deemings remains are believed to have been lost.

Ned Kelly remains a source of fascination in Australia where despite being convicted of murder he is regarded by many as a cult hero.

He was convicted and hanged in 1880.