In September 1877 John Robert King helped to arrest Ned Kelly in his Old Bootmakers shop in Arundel St, and last week his descendants held a reunion to commemorate the 140-year anniversary.
September 19 was a sunny spring day in 1877 when Ned Kelly managed to escape police and attempt to hide in the bootmakers, which was across the road from the courthouse.
Kelly had been arrested in Benalla the day before on charges of being drunk and riding his horse across a footpath, although he claimed he was spiked and protested his arrest.
It was while being transported from the lock-up to court that he managed to escape police and sought refuge in King’s shop.
He was pursued by four police, who with the help of John Robert King tried to handcuff him.
A fight ensued and with the odds stacked against him Kelly was proving difficult to arrest.
The altercation only ended when local Magistrate William McInnes arrived and reprimanded police for their brutality.
Satisfied that he had managed to fight off four police and John Robert King he surrendered to McInnes and was returned to court. The old building that housed John King Bootmakers is still there and was the perfect spot for his descendants to gather and pay tribute to the man who helped catch Ned Kelly.
Russell King arranged the reunion and said it was a great day and the whole family enjoyed visiting the shop where it all happened.
‘‘He helped police arrest Ned Kelly, it makes us all proud,’’ Mr King said.
Family members came from all corners of Australia, including Adelaide, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Ballarat.
The reunion gave the younger generation of King’s descendants a chance to learn about the famous Bushranger and their own relative John Robert King.