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Ned Kelly

Last updated 5 days ago

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For other uses, see Ned Kelly (disambiguation).

Ned Kelly

head of a young man with a long, untrimmed beard, and with hair cropped above the ears, but longer and slicked up and back on the top. his moustache and beard are so long that his mouth and shirt front can barely be seen. his eyes look over the viewer\'s right shoulder.
Ned Kelly the day before his execution


June 1854/June 1855
Beveridge, Victoria, Australia


11 November 1880 (aged 25)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia






Executed by hanging




John "Red" Kelly
Ellen Kelly (née Quinn)

Edward "Ned" Kelly (June 1854/June 1855 – 11 November 1880)[1] was an Irish Australian bushranger. He is considered by some to be merely a cold-blooded cop killer — others, however, consider him to be a folk hero and symbol of Irish Australian resistance against the Anglo-Australian ruling class.[2]

Kelly was born in Victoria to an Irish convict father, and as a young man he clashed with the Victoria Police. Following an incident at his home in 1878, police parties searched for him in the bush. After he killed three policemen, the colony proclaimed Kelly and his gang wanted outlaws.

A final violent confrontation with police took place at Glenrowan on 28 June 1880. Kelly, dressed in home-made plate metal armour and helmet, was captured and sent to jail. He was convicted of three counts of capital murder and hanged at Old Melbourne Gaol in November 1880. His daring and notoriety made him an iconic figure in Australian history, folklore, literature, art and film.

In August 2011, anthropologists announced that a skeleton found in a mass grave in KPentridge Prison had been confirmed as elly's. Kelly's skull, however, remains at large.[3]

Early life

Ned's father, John, was transported in 1841 from Tipperary to Tasmania for stealing two pigs, and not for shooting at a landlord as the Victorian Royal Commission indicated in "an unwarrantable piece of propaganda."[4]

After his release in 1848, Red Kelly moved to Victoria and found work at James Quinn's farm at Wallan Wallan, where he worked as a bush carpenter. He subsequently turned his attention to gold-digging, at which he was successful and which enabled him to purchase a small freehold at Beveridge.[5]

At the age of 30 he married Ellen Quinn, his employer's 18 year old daughter. Their first child, Mary Jane, died at 6 months in 1850, but Ellen then gave birth to a daughter, Annie, in 1853.

Their first son, Edward (Ned), was born in Beveridge, just north of Melbourne. His date of birth is not known, but at Beveridge, he said to an officer, "Look across there to the left. Do you see a little hill there?", "That is where I was born about 28 years ago. Now, I am passing through it, I suppose, to my doom."[6]

Ned was baptised by an Augustinian priest, Charles O'Hea. As a boy, he obtained basic schooling and once risked his life to save another boy, Richard Shelton, from 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.[7]

The Kelly's moved to Avenel, near Seymour, where Red became noted as an expert cattle-stealer. In 1865 he was convicted of cattle duffing, and imprisoned. Red Kelly died at Avenel on 27 December 1866 shortly after his release from Kilmore gaol. When John Kelly died he was survived by his wife and seven offspring, Ned and Dan, James, Mrs. Gunn, Mrs. Skillion, Kate and Grace.[8] Several months later the Kelly family acquired 80 acres (320,000 m2) of uncultivated farmland at Eleven Mile Creek near the Greta area of Victoria, which to this day is known as "Kelly Country".

The Kellys were suspected many times of cattle or horse stealing, but never convicted. Ned Kelly himself claimed that he had stolen over 280 horses as a boy.[9] Red Kelly was arrested when he killed and skinned a calf claimed to be the property of his neighbour. He was found innocent of theft, but guilty of removing the brand from the skin and given the option of a twenty-five pound fine or a sentence of six months with hard labour. Unable to pay the fine, Red served his sentence, which had an ultimately fatal effect on his health. The saga surrounding Red, and his treatment by the police, made a strong impression on his son Ned.

In all, eighteen 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 led to claims that Ned's family was unfairly targeted from the time they moved to northeast Victoria. Perhaps the move was necessary because of Ellen's squabbles with family members and her appearances in court over family disputes.[10] Antony O'Brien argued that Victoria's colonial police practices treated arrest as equivalent to proof of guilt.[11] 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.[12][clarification needed]

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