Ned’s father John was transported from Ireland to Australia in 1841 for seven years for the crime of stealing two pigs.

Apparently he had also been involved in the theft of seven cows.

In John ‘Red’ Kelly’s defence we should note that this occurred in the years leading up to the Great Famine in which a million people died, so there were a lot of hungry and desperate people around at the time.



After serving his time in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), Red Kelly moved to Port Phillip Colony. He married Ellen Quinn in 1850.

Together they had eight children: Mary (born and died 1851), Anne (1853-1872), Ned (1855-1880), Maggie (1857-1896), James (1859-1946), Dan (1861-1880), Kate (1863-1898) and Grace (1865-1940).

Red worked in dairy farming, carpentry and gold mining and then joined his in-laws in the cow stealing business. They lived at Wallan, then Beveridge, where Ned was born, and then moved to rented property in Avenel.



Edward (Ned) Kelly was born in Beveridge (probably in June) to freed convict John ‘Red’ Kelly and Ellen (nee Quinn).  

Red Kelly built their home at Beveridge. Red and Mary had bought and sold several farms in the area.

Ned attended school here.


Red sold their Beveridge property for 80 pounds and the Kellys moved to rented property at Avenel.

At the age of five, Ned was listed as a suspected horse thief in the Police Gazette.


Ned and his siblings attended school at Avenel.

One day, Ned bravely leapt into the flooded Hughes Creek in Avenel to save younger schoolmate Richard Shelton from drowning in a swollen river. Parents Esau and Margaret Shelton (owners of the Royal Mail Hotel) publicly presented Ned with a green silk sash with gold fringes as a symbol of their gratitude for his bravery – the sash Ned was wearing at the Glenrowan siege.

In 1865 the family was very poor and Red was charged with stealing a calf. He served four months.

Ned’s youngest sister Grace was born in October. 


Shortly after his release, on 27 December Red Kelly died from alcohol-induced oedema (dropsy) in Avenel, aged 45.

Ned was now the man of the house and left school before turning 12 to help support his family.

He no doubt held a poor impression of the fairness of life and the judicial system.

Six months after her husband’s death, Ellen moved her family to a selection at Eleven Mile Creek, not far from two of her sisters.


Though Ned had been listed in the Police Gazette at the age of five as a suspected horse thief, Ned’s first arrest and spell in custody happened when he was 14.

A confrontation on 15 October between Chinese hawker Ah Fook and Ned resulted in Ned being arrested for highway robbery.

Each gave a different version of events and by the time the charges were dismissed for lack of evidence Ned had spent 10 days in custody in Benalla.

The arresting officer, Sergeant Whelan, vowed to keep an eye on Ned.



In May Ned was arrested as an accomplice of the bushranger Harry Power, the ‘Gentleman Bushranger’ – with whom Ned served a short bushranging apprenticeship. When you know the nature of the man you might wonder if he was one of the better influences on Ned.

Harry’s real name was Henry Johnston. From all accounts he was smart about what he did for a living. Calling himself a ‘road agent’ he dressed well and no records exist to confirm he ever hurt anyone, although when he held people up he was armed and the threat of violence was always there. For a bushranger he was pretty old, too, not becoming notorious until he was in his 50s. Maybe the wisdom of age helped him and he in turn tried to help Ned. 

The charges against Ned for this supposed infraction were dropped.



In October, Ned, now aged 16, was arrested for assaulting a travelling salesman, Jeremiah McCormack.

He was also involved in a vindictive prank played by his friend Ben Gould, who had had a run in with McCormack. Kelly passed on to his cousin a rude note written by Ben, to McCormack’s childless wife, which was accompanied by a pair of calf’s testicles, casting aspersions on her husband.

This prank got him sent to Beechworth Gaol in October, charged with assault and being rude to a lady.

He received a six-month sentence to hard labour -, three months for each offence. The gaolers recorded that on entry Ned was 5 foot 10 (178cm) and weighed 11 stone 4 (75kg).


Just three weeks after his release in May 1871, Ned was arrested yet again. For this next incident, Ned may actually have been innocent.

Ned rode a stolen horse past the police station in Greta and was arrested for horse theft. Ned had believed the horse belonged to a friend, Isiah ‘Wild’ Wright. Wild apparently forgot to tell Ned that he had pilfered the horse from outside Mansfield Post Office some weeks earlier.

Ned resisted being put in handcuffs and overpowered Senior Constable Hall and humiliated him by jumping on his back, riding him like a horse and digging his spurs into Hall’s legs.

After Ned was in custody, Hall beat him around the head with his gun, causing cuts requiring nine stitches.


On 8 August 1874, after his release from gaol and sporting the trademark full beard he wore until his death, Ned beat Wild Wright in a brutal 20-round bare-knuckle fight out the back of the Imperial Hotel in Beechworth.

Ned was hailed as the victor and Wright is said to have declared that he’d got the hiding of his life.

It was after this fight that Ned posed in boxing stance for a photo. Ned and Wild remained friends and Wild continued to be a staunch Kelly sympathiser.

For a time Ned held an honest job as a timber worker but was tempted back onto the other side of the law and worked with his new stepfather George King stealing horses and selling them in New South Wales.



In September, Ned was arrested in Benalla for ‘riding across a footpath and drunkenness’ and, of course, resisting arrest.

While being escorted to the courthouse next day he escaped, fighting off four policemen, one of whom, Lonigan, ‘blackballed’ him. He took refuge in a bootmaker’s shop. The judge came over to the shop and convinced him to come out.

In this scuffle Ned kicked Fitzpatrick into a wall and Ned is supposed to have said to Lonigan ‘Well Lonigan, I never shot a man yet but if I do so help me God you will be the first’. Sadly a year later this came to pass.



On 15 April 1878, Constable Fitzpatrick visited the Kelly home with the intention of arresting Dan for horse theft. Accounts of what happened vary – whether Fitzpatrick made a pass at the 16-year-old Kate and the boys rushed to defend her honour (though by accounts she was quite capable of taking care of herself!) or the Kellys and friends that were present assaulted Fitzpatrick unprovoked – the outcome was a minor wound on Fiztpatrick’s wrist that could have been caused by a shot from Ned’s gun.

It’s not even known for sure whether Ned was home at the time of the accusation.

The next day Sergeant Steele from Wangaratta arrested Ellen Kelly and charged her with aiding and abetting an attempted murder.


Oct 19

In October 1878, Bill Skillian and William Williamson were sentenced to six years hard labour and Ned’s mother Ellen (who had laid into Fitzpatrick with a fire tool) was sentenced to three years’ hard labour.

Kelly wrote to Magistrate Wyatt offering to surrender in exchange for his mother. A reward of £100 each was offered for the capture of Ned and Dan.

Meanwhile Ned, Dan and Joe Byrne had been in hiding in the Wombat Ranges. They had built a shelter and fenced off an area, had been brewing liquor and panning successfully for a little gold.
They had been joined by Steve Hart and Joe Byrne, Ned’s good mate and so-called ‘lieutenant’.


Oct 25

On 25 October 1878, Kelly and his gang murdered three policemen from a group sent to track him down in bushland near Mansfield.
The Kelly Gang had been warned that four policemen were intent on catching them and had made camp at Stringybark Creek. The boys decided to ambush the police camp. It was here that the point of no return was reached.
Two of the police, Constables Lonigan and McIntrye were sitting by the fire and Ned and the boys snuck up and drew their guns. Ned shot Lonigan but McIntyre surrendered and then they waited for the other two police to return.
When they did return they refused to surrender and in the exchange of shots Ned murdered Constable Scanlon and then Sergeant Kennedy. McIntyre escaped on Kennedy’s horse.



On 10 December 1878 Ned, Dan and Steve held up a bank in Euroa, coming away with £2260  worth of cash and gold.

This seems to have been a well-thought-out plan and Ned and the boys went to a lot of trouble to organise the robbery. Firstly they went to Faithfull’s Creek Station and locked up 22 people in the storeroom – including farm workers, hawkers and visitors.

They went into Euroa with a supposed message from the farm manager, which got them into the bank where they got 2000 pounds from the bank’s manager, Robert Scott. Apparently they had acted politely and ‘charmed’ the bank manager and his family. Once this was accomplished the boys made the manager, his wife and family, maids and the two tellers go back with them to Faithfull’s Creek.


Feb 8

On Saturday 8th February 1879 the Kelly Gang arrived in Jerilderie where they captured two local policemen and locked them up.

On Sunday, in order not to raise suspicions, Ned and his gang dressed themselves in police uniforms and masqueraded as reinforcements being sent to the NSW/Victorian forces to strengthen patrols on the border, preventing the Kelly gang from entering New South Wales!


Feb 10

Early on Monday 10 February, Dan Kelly and Joe Byrne, dressed in police uniforms (as were Ned Kelly and Steve Hart), had their horses re-shod at the blacksmith shop and charged the work to the NSW Police.

By mid-morning Ned Kelly and Joe Byrne, accompanied by Trooper Richards, arrived at the Royal Mail Hotel and commandeered the back parlour of the hotel. Ned explained to licensee Charles Cox that he required a room for a few hours to put people in as they came along “for I have come here to stick up the Bank today”.

The raid netted the gang £691 from the bank’s cash till and £1450 from the safe. Ned had hotel groomsman Herbert Tiffen burn various loan documents. Ned, in company with Trooper Richards and bank teller Living, then went in search of Samuel Gill, the Editor of the Jerilderie and Urana Gazette, to fulfil the true purpose of the gang’s visit to Jerilderie – to have printed Ned’s side of the story that led he and his gang along the path of outlawry – the now famous ‘Jerilderie Letter’.

Following this raid, Victoria raised the reward to £4000 and New South Wales also offered a reward of £4000 for the Kelly Gang. Punishment and victimisation for supposed friendship with the gang continued for the next 18 months.




In June 1880, the shootout between police and the Kelly gang occurred at Ann Jones’ Inn at Glenrowan. Kelly was arrested and the three members of his gang died in the shootout and subsequent fire.

The last stand was planned for Glenrowan, straight after Joe Byrne shot and killed Aaron Sherritt, his former best friend, who they believed was a police informant. He was working with the police but it’s possible he was giving them more bum steers than real information. Dan Kelly and Joe Byrne went to Aaron’s house in the Sebastopol in the Woolshed Valley and shot him on 26th June.

The boys knew that this event would bring even more police after them and so when they arrived in Glenrowan they took 70 people hostage. However, there was a delay in the murder, which wasn’t reported until the next morning.

This delay upset plans the gang had made. They expected a trainload of police to be on its way and had local railway workers pull up the train tracks to derail the train, after which the gang would capture as many of the occupants as possible.

With these hostages they would negotiate the release of Ellen Kelly, William Williamson and William Skillion.
But the train was a day late due to the delayed reporting by police of Aaron’s death. This meant the gang had a lot of hostages for 24 frustrating hours and had to entertain them and themselves with dancing, sporting events and drinking.

A local teacher convinced Ned to let him and his family go. Upon his release, this teacher, Thomas Curnow, ran to the broken train tracks and waited for the police train. When he saw it coming he was able to use a lantern to wave it down and stop it before it crashed.

Forty-six police disembarked and spread themselves around the hotel, trapping the Kelly Gang inside. For seven hours the police fired at the hotel and were hoping for a cannon to arrive from Melbourne so they could blow up the hotel. It didn’t arrive and so the decision was made to burn the place.

The Gang were probably still alive due to their homemade armour (made from plough parts and weighing very heavily on each of the boys).

Dawn came and Ned appeared from the hotel in his armour, walking toward the police all the time firing at them. Eventually they shot him in the legs.

Joe Byrne was found in the front room dead from a bullet wound to his femoral artery but the other two boys, Dan and Steve were found in a back room lying on blankets without their armour. It has been speculated that they took their own lives rather than being captured.



After his capture, Ned was taken to Melbourne Gaol where his wounds were treated and he was visited by his mother who was in the same jail for wounding Constable Fitzpatrick.

He was taken to Beechworth to be tried for the murders of Thomas Lonigan and Michael Scanlon back at Stringybark Creek.

Officials decided Ned may be too popular in Beechworth so the trial went back to Melbourne. Judge Sir Redmond Barry sentenced Ned to death saying ‘May God have mercy on your soul’ to which Ned replied ‘I will go a little further than that, and say I will see you there when I go’.

A petition signed by sixty thousand people was presented to the court asking for mercy – an incredible amount for that time. Ned had the compassion of the public but not the legal system.



Ned Kelly was hanged on 11 November, aged 25.

Two Melbourne newspapers reported his last words as “Such is life”.

He was buried in an unmarked grave along with other criminals who had been hung at the gaol.


The remains of prisoners, including Ned Kelly, are transferred from Old Melbourne Gaol to Pentridge Prison.


In November a skull believed to belong to Kelly is given to the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine for identification. Efforts to identify his remains among those exhumed from Pentridge Prison begin.


On 1 September the Victorian government confirmed that the remains they had been examining were Ned Kelly’s.

The skull is still missing, having been stolen from a display case at the Old Melbourne Gaol in 1978. It was subsequently handed in 30 years later but DNA testing revealed it didn’t belong to Ned.


A church service was held at St Patrick’s in Wangaratta and then, in a private ceremony, Ned Kelly’s remains were buried near to his mother’s at Greta and his youngest brother, Jim.

The location of Ned’s skull is still a mystery.

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