About Edward "Ned" Kelly
A brief history of Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang
Edward 'Ned' Kelly was the first-born son of an Irish Catholic couple. His father was an ex-convict and mother a migrant. He was born in June 1855 and was executed in 1880 at 25 years of age.
In his teens he was a 'bush-worker' - ring-barking, breaking in horses, mustering cattle, and fencing. From this he graduated to cattle duffing and horse stealing.
During Ned's short life, he was arrested for assault, horse stealing, bank robbery, and finally a reward for £100 was put out for Ned and Dan Kelly for attempted murder of a policeman. Later the reward was increased to £1000 for each of the Kelly Gang for the murder of three policemen at Stringybark Creek.
After more bank robberies, the Kelly Gang's had their 'last stand' in the small town of Glenrowan, Victoria, where the gang took 60 hostages in a hotel. In the battle with police three gang members - Dan Kelly, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart - were killed and a wounded Ned was arrested and charged with the murder of a policeman. Ned Kelly was tried and convicted of the murder of Constable Lonigan at Stringybark Creek and hanged at the Melbourne Gaol.
An extensive history of Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang can be seen at Ned Kelly: Australian Ironoutlaw <http://www.ironoutlaw.com/html/history_01.html>. The Old Melbourne Gaol held a unique Kelly Exhibition in early 2002, and the Kelly gang featured in the National Museum of Australia's 2003/04 Outlawed! <http://www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions/travelling/outlawed/> exhibition. -------------------- Edward "Ned" Kelly (c. January 1855 – 11 November 1880) is Australia's most famous bushranger, and, to many, a folk hero for his defiance of the colonial authorities. Born near Melbourne to an Irish convict father, as a young man he clashed with the police. After an incident at his home, police parties went in search of him. After murdering three policemen, he and his gang were proclaimed outlaws. A final violent confrontation with police at Glenrowan, with Kelly dressed in home-made plate metal armour and helmet, led to his capture and trial. He was executed by hanging at Melbourne Gaol in 1880. His daring and notoriety made him an iconic figure in Australian history, folk lore, literature, art and film.
"Red" Kelly, the father of Ned Kelly, was convicted in Ireland and transported to Van Diemen's Land. There is uncertainty surrounding "Red's" conviction and as most of Ireland's court records were destroyed during the Irish Civil War it is unlikely to be resolved.
Jones claims that 'Red' stole two pigs belonging to Coloney. Brown suggested 'Red' attempted to shoot an Irish landlord. Another claims 'Red' stole two pigs, which were the property of a Mr Quainy. According to Jones, 'Red' was an informer, but again this claim is contested. Whatever his crime, 'Red' was sentenced to seven years of penal servitude and transported to Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania) and arrived in 1843.
After his release in 1848, Red moved to Victoria in 1849 and found work in Beveridge at the farm of James Quinn. Red Kelly, aged 30, married Quinn's daughter Ellen, then 18. Their first child died early, but Ellen then gave birth to a daughter, Annie, in 1853. In all they had eight children.
Their first son, Edward Kelly, was born in Beveridge, Victoria just north of Melbourne in 1855. The exact date is unknown; various dates have been proposed, but there is no general agreement.
Ned was baptized by Augustinian priest Charles O'Hea. As a boy, he attended school and risked his life to save another boy, Richard Shelton, who was drowning. As a reward he was given a green sash by the boy's family, which he wore under his armour during his final showdown with police in 1880.
The Kellys were always suspected of cattle or horse stealing, though they were never convicted. 'Red' Kelly was arrested when he killed and skinned a calf, which the police said belonged to a neighbour. He was found not guilty of theft, but guilty of having removed the brand from the skin and fined 25 pounds or six months with hard labour. Not having money to pay the fine Red went to Kilmore gaol. The saga surrounding Red, and his treatment by the police, remained with Ned.
Red Kelly died at Avenel Vic on 27 December 1866 when Ned was only eleven and a half (as recorded by Ned on death certificate), and according to custom, he was forced to leave school to become head of the family. It was at this time, that the Kelly family moved to the Glenrowan area of Victoria, which to this day is known as Kelly Country. Ned grew up in poverty in some of the harshest conditions in Australia, and folk tales tell of his sleeping on the ground in the bush during the Victorian winter.
In all, 18 charges were brought against members of Ned's immediate family before he was declared an outlaw, while only half that number resulted in guilty verdicts. This is a highly unusual ratio for the time, and is one of the reasons that has caused many to posit that Ned's family was unfairly targeted from the time they moved to North-East Victoria. Perhaps the move was necessary because of Ellen's squabbles with family members and her appearances in court over family disputes. O'Brien, (1999) however argued that Victoria's colonial policing in those days had nothing to do with winning a conviction, rather the determinant of one's criminality was the arrest. Further, O'Brien argued, using the 'Statistics of Victoria' crime figures that the region's or family's or national criminality was determined not by individual arrests, but rather by the total number of arrests.
In 1869, 14-year-old Ned was arrested for assaulting a Chinese pig farmer named Ah Fook. Ah Fook claimed that he had been robbed by Ned, whose story was that Ah Fook had a row with his sister Annie. Ned spent ten days in custody before the charges were dismissed. From then on the police regarded him as a "juvenile bushranger".
The following year, he was arrested and accused of being an accomplice of bushranger Harry Power. No evidence was produced in court and he was released after a month. Historians tend to disagree over this episode: some see it as evidence of police harassment; others believe that Kelly’s relatives intimidated the witnesses, making them reluctant to give evidence. Kelly would later admit to being an accomplice of Power , who was eventually arrested while hiding out on land belonging to Kelly's relatives. Ned's grandfather, James Quinn, owned a huge piece of land known as Glenmore Station at the head waters of the King River. It was at the top of this land where Power lived - on Quinn's land. Just over the range on the other side of King River is Stringybark Creek (see below).
In October 1870, Ned was arrested again for assaulting a hawker, Jeremiah McCormack, and for his part in sending McCormack's childless wife an indecent note that had calves' testicles enclosed. This was a result of a row earlier that day caused when McCormack accused a friend of the Kellys, Ben Gould, of using his horse without permission. Gould wrote the note, and Kelly passed it on to one of his cousins to give to the woman. He was sentenced to three months' hard labour on each charge.
Upon his release Ned returned home. There he met Isaiah "Wild" Wright who had arrived in the area on a beautiful chestnut mare. The mare had gone missing and since Wright needed to go back to Mansfield he asked Ned to find and keep it until his return. Ned found the mare and used it to go to town. He always maintained that he had no idea that the mare actually belonged to the Mansfield postmaster and that Wright had stolen it. While riding through Greta, Ned was approached by Constable Hall who, from the description of the animal, knew the horse was stolen property. When his attempt to arrest Ned turned into a fight, Hall drew his gun and tried to shoot him, but Kelly overpowered the policeman and humiliated him by riding him like a horse. Hall later struck Kelly several times with his revolver after he had been arrested. After just three weeks of freedom, 16-year-old Ned was sentenced to three years imprisonment along with his brother-in-law Alex Gunn. "Wild" Wright got only eighteen months.
While Ned was in prison, his brothers Jim (aged 12) and Dan (aged 10) were arrested by Constable Flood for riding a horse that did not belong to them. The horse had been lent to them by a farmer for whom they had been doing some work, but the boys spent a night in the cells before the matter was cleared.
Two years later, Jim Kelly was arrested as part of a cattle-rustling operation. He and his family claimed that he did not know that some of the cattle did not belong to his employer Tom Lloyd. Nevertheless he was given a five-year sentence.
Ned's mother, Ellen, was now married to a Californian, named George King, with whom she had three children. He, Ned and Dan became involved in a cattle rustling operation.
On the 15 April 1878, Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick arrived at Benalla suffering from 'wounds' to his left wrist. He claimed that he was attacked by Ned, Dan, Ellen, their associate, Bricky Williamson and Ned's brother-in-law, Bill Skillion. Fitzpatrick claimed that all except Ellen were armed with revolvers. Williamson and Skillion were arrested. Ned and Dan were nowhere to be found, but Ellen was taken into custody along with her baby, Alice. She was still in prison at the time of Ned's execution. (Ellen would outlive her most famous sons by decades and die on 27 March 1923).
The Kellys claimed that Fitzpatrick came into their house, to question Dan over a cattle duffing incident. While there, he propositioned Dan's young sister Kate. The men and their mother defended the girl by knocking Fitzpatrick to the ground. They then bandaged his injured wrist, and he had left saying that no real harm had been done. No guns, they claimed, were used during the incident, and Ned was not involved since he was away in New South Wales. However, the belief that Ned was in New South Wales is still disputed.
The fact that Fitzpatrick was later dismissed from the force for drunkenness and mixing with the wrong sort of people has led most historians to accept the Kellys' version of events.
Dan and Ned doubted they could convince the police of their story. Instead they went into hiding, where they were later joined by their friends Joe Byrne and Steve Hart.
On 25 October 1878, Sergeant Kennedy set off to search for the Kellys, accompanied by Constables McIntyre, Lonigan, and Scanlon. The wanted men were suspected of being in the Wombat Ranges North of Mansfield Victoria. The police set up a camp near two shepherd huts at Stringybark Creek in a heavily timbered area.
On arrival, the police split into two groups: two officers went in search of the Kellys, while the other two, Lonigan and McIntyre remained to guard their camp. Brown suggested in his book, Australian Son (1948) that Sgt. Kennedy was tipped off as to the whereabouts of the Kellys. O'Brien (1999) drew attention to the 1881 Royal Commission's questioning of McIntyre, (Questions 14319-14414) which explored a possibility that Kennedy and Scanlon may have searched for the Kellys to gain a reward for themselves. The inference to gain a reward for Scanlon and Kennedy, at the expense of the other two police, was clear from the tone of Questions 14376 & 79.
The police at camp fired at some parrots unaware they were only a mile away from the Kelly camp. Alerted by the shooting, the Kellys nearby discovered the well armed police camped near the 'Shingle hut' at Stringybark Creek. They were in disguise and dressed as prospectors - yet their pack horses hobbled nearby had leather strap arrangements suitable for carrying out bodies.
Ned Kelly and his brother Dan considered their chances of survival against such a well-armed, determined party, and they decided to overpower the two officers while they could, then wait for the two others to return. The plan was for them to surrender, take their arms and horses and clear out. At least this way they could be some match against another police party that had set out at the same time from Benalla but heading south (Ned was tipped off to this other party's existence). As Ned and Dan had some friends with them this day, they decided to advance into the police camp, ordering them to surrender. Constable McIntyre was not harmed as he threw his arms up. Lonigan drew his revolver and aimed, and the first volley of fire from Ned hit and killed him instantly.
When the other two police returned to camp, in fear for his life, Constable McIntyre suggested for them to surrender as they had been held up. Sergeant Kennedy, thinking this was a joke, went for his gun; Ned stepped forward and the shootout started, and Scanlon was killed. With Lonigan and Scanlon now dead, Kennedy ran for it shooting from tree to tree with Ned in pursuit, and he was eventually caught and shot. Ned and his mates went out of their way to help Sergeant Kennedy after the shooting, making him as comfortable as possible, but, realizing his wound was fatal and he would not live, Ned decided to fire again to end Kennedy's misery. 
McIntyre took advantage of the confusion to escape on horseback.
The exact place at Germans Creek where this occurred has only recently been identified, after 129 years. On leaving the scene Ned stole Sergeant Kennedy's hand written note for his wife - and his gold fob watch. Asked later why he stole the watch, Ned replied, "What's the use of a watch to a dead man?" Kennedy's gold fob watch was returned to his kin many years later.
The gang committed two major robberies, at Euroa and Jerilderie. Their strategy involved the taking of hostages and robbing the bank safes.
On the 10 December 1878, the gang raided the National Bank at Euroa. They had already taken a number of hostages at Faithful Creek station and went to the bank claiming to be delivering a message from McCauley, the station manager. They got into the bank and held up the manager, Scott, and his two tellers. After obtaining all the money available, the outlaws ordered Scott, his wife, family, maids and tellers to accompany them to Faithful Creek where they were locked up with the other hostages, who included the station's staff and some passing hawkers and sportsmen (It is claimed that Ned, posing as a policeman, took one of the men prisoner on the grounds of being the "notorious Ned Kelly". The man was locked up in the storeroom saying that he would report the "officer" to his superiors. It was only then that he was told who his captor was).
The outlaws gave an exhibition of horsemanship which entertained and surprised their hostages. After having supper, and telling the hostages not to raise the alarm for another three hours, they left.
The entire crime had been carried out without injury and the gang had netted £2000, a large sum in those days.
The raid on Jerilderie is particularly noteworthy for its boldness and cunning. The gang arrived in the town on Saturday 8 February 1879. They broke into the local police station and imprisoned police officers Richards and Devine in their own cell. The outlaws then changed into the police uniforms and mixed with the locals, claiming to be reinforcements from Sydney. Ned Kelly was a modern day Jezalenko, u beauty!!!!
On Monday the gang rounded up various people and forced them into the back parlour of the Royal Mail Hotel. While Dan and Steve Hart kept the hostages busy, Ned and Joe Byrne raided the local bank of about two thousand pounds. Kelly also burned all the townspeople's mortgage deeds in the bank.
Some months prior to arriving in Jerilderie, and almost certainly with considerable help from Joe Byrne, Ned dictated a lengthy letter for publication describing his view of his activities and the treatment of his family and, more generally, the treatment of Irish Catholics by the police and the English and Irish Protestant squatters. The Jerilderie Letter, as it is called, is a document of some 8,300 words and has become a famous piece of Australian literature. Kelly had written a letter (14 December 1878) to a politician Cameron stating his grievances, but that correspondence was suppressed from the public. Hence, Kelly's determination to have the 'Jerilderie Letter' published. From the first lines of the letter Kelly states his case, understanding that in his fight against his 'oppressors' that the printed word was more important than guns, or money. It also highlights the various incidents that led to him becoming an outlaw (see Rise to notoriety).
The letter was never published and was concealed until re-discovered in 1930. It was then published by the Melbourne Herald. Max Brown published the letter in his book, Australian Son (1948). The hand written document was donated anonymously to the Victorian State Library in 2000. Several historians have researched the letter and published articles and books. The historian McDermott says, 'even now it's hard to defy his voice. With this letter Kelly inserts himself into history, on his own terms, with his own voice...We hear the living speaker in a way that no other document in our history achieves...' The language is colourful, rough and full of metaphors; it is 'one of the most extraordinary documents in Australian history'.
The gang discovered that one of their sympathisers, Aaron Sherritt, Joe Byrne's erstwhile best friend, was a police informer. On the 26 June 1880 Dan and Joe Byrne went to Sherritt's house and murdered him. (Ian Jones, authority on the Kelly Gang, has made a compelling case in his book, The Fatal Friendship that the police manipulated events so that Sherritt appeared a traitor and to provoke the gang into emerging from hiding to dispose of him.) The four policemen who were living openly with him at the time hid under the bed and did not report the murder until late the following morning. This delay was to prove crucial since it upset Ned's timing for another ambush.
The Kelly Gang arrived in Glenrowan on 27 June taking about 70 hostages at the Glenrowan Inn, owned by Ann Jones. They knew that a train loaded with police was on its way and ordered the rail tracks pulled up in order to cause a derailment.
The gang members donned their now famous armour. The armour was made with stolen and donated plough parts. It is not known exactly who made the armour. Some suggest they made it themselves, others suggest it was made by sympathetic blacksmiths. Each man's armour weighed about 96 pounds (44 kg); all four had helmets, and Joe Byrne's was said to be the most well done, with the brow reaching down to the nose piece, almost forming two eye slits.
While holed up in the Glenrowan Inn, their attempt to derail the police train failed when a released hostage, schoolmaster Thomas Curnow, gave the alert, at great risk to his own life, by standing on the railway line near sunrise, waving a red scarf illuminated by a candle. The police then laid siege to the inn.
At about dawn on Monday 28 June, Ned Kelly emerged from the inn in his suit of armour. He marched on to the police firing his gun at them, while their bullets bounced off his armour. His lower limbs however were unprotected and he was shot up to twenty-eight times in the legs (sources vary, some saying six times). The other Kelly Gang members died in the hotel, Joe Byrne allegedly by loss of blood due to a gunshot wound that severed his femoral artery, and Dan Kelly and Steve Hart, which the witness Father Gibney said was by suicide. The police suffered only one minor injury: Superintendent Francis Hare the senior officer on the scene, received a slight wound to his wrist, then fled the battle. For his cowardice the Royal Commission later suspended Hare from the Victorian Police Force. Also, several hostages were shot, at least two fatally.
Ned Kelly survived to stand trial, and was sentenced to death by the Irish-born judge Sir Redmond Barry. This case was extraordinary in that there were exchanges between the prisoner Kelly and the judge, and the case has been the subject of attention by historians and lawyers (see Philips). When the judge uttered the customary words "May God have mercy on your soul", Ned is reported to have replied "I will go a little further than that, and say I will see you there when I go". He was hanged on 11 November at the Melbourne Gaol. Although two newspapers (The Age and Herald Sun) reported Kelly's last words as "Such is life" and two other newspapers as "Ah well, I suppose it has come to this. Such is life", another source, Ned Kelly's gaol warden, writes in his diary that when Kelly was prompted to say his last words, he (Kelly) opened his mouth and mumbled something that he couldn't hear—and since the warden's office is closer to the scene of the hanging than the witnesses' allotted space, Ned Kelly's last words actually remain uncertain. Sir Redmond Barry died of the effects of a carbuncle on his neck on 23 November 1880, twelve days after Kelly.
Stories abounded of Ned's altruistic and gentlemanly behaviour, casting him as a modern-day Robin Hood. About 32,000 Victorians signed a petition against Kelly's sentencing.
After Ned Kelly's death, the Victorian Royal Commission (1881-83) into the Victorian Police Force led to many changes to the nature of policing in the colony. Though the Kelly Gang was destroyed in 1880, for almost seven years a serious threat of a Second Outbreak existed because of major problems around land settlement and selection (McQuilton, Ch. 10). McQuilton suggested two police officers involved in the pursuit of the Kelly Gang, Sadleir and Montford, averted the Second Outbreak by coming to understand that the unresolved social contradiction in Northeastern Victoria was around land, not crime, and by their good work in aiding small selectors.