Ned Kelly

Ned Kelly
Ned Kelly
Head of a young man with a long, untrimmed beard, and with hair cropped above the ears, but longer and slicked strikingly 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
Born June 1854/June 1855
Beveridge, Victoria, Australia
Died 11 November 1880 (aged 25)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Conviction(s) Murder
Penalty Death
Status Executed by hanging
Occupation Bushranger
Parents 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 Pentridge Prison had been confirmed as Kelly's. Kelly's skull, however, remains at large.[3]


Early life

John "Red" Kelly, the father of Ned Kelly, was born and raised in Ireland, where he was convicted of criminal acts sometime during his adulthood. His mother, Ellen Kelly (née Quinn), remarried after his father died. His brother and sister were named Dan and Kate. There is uncertainty surrounding the exact nature of his crime as most of Ireland's court records were destroyed during the Irish Civil War. Ian Jones alleges that John Kelly stole two pigs and testified against his co-conspirators. This claim is contested by J.J. Kenneally who alleges that 'Red' was an adherent of Irish nationalism.[4] Red Kelly was sentenced to seven years of penal servitude and transported to Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania), arriving in 1843.

After his release in 1848, Red Kelly moved to Victoria and found work at Beveridge at the farm of James Quinn. At the age of 30 he married Ellen Quinn, the 18 year old daughter of his employer. Their first child, Mary, died early (1851), but Ellen then gave birth to a daughter, Annie, in 1853. Seven of their children survived past infancy.

Their first son, Edward (Ned), was born in Beveridge, just north of Melbourne. His date of birth is not known, but it occurred between June 1854 and June 1855.

Ned was baptised by an Augustinian priest, Charles O'Hea. As a boy, he obtained some 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.[5]

The Kellys were suspected many times of cattle or horse stealing, though never convicted. 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. Without money to pay the fine Red served his sentence in Kilmore gaol, with the sentence having 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.

Red Kelly died at Avenel on 27 December 1866 when Ned was eleven and a half years old. 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".

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 is one of the reasons that has caused many to posit 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.[6] Antony O'Brien, however, argued that Victoria's colonial policing had nothing to do with winning a conviction, rather the determinant of one's criminality was the arrest.[7] 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.[8][clarification needed]

Rise to notoriety

Ned's first documented brush with the law was on October 15, 1869 at the age of 14 when he was charged with the assault and robbery of Ah Fook, a pig farmer from a Chinese camp near Bright. According to Ah Fook, as he was passing the Kelly house, Ned approached him with a long bamboo stick, announcing that he was a bushranger and would kill him if he did not hand over his money. Ned then took him into the bush, beat him with the stick and stole 10 shillings. According to Ned, his sister Annie and two witnesses, Bill Skilling and Bill Grey, Annie was sitting outside the house sewing when Ah Fook walked up and asked a for a drink of water. Given creek water, he abused Annie for not giving him rain water and Ned came outside and pushed him. Ah Fook then hit Ned three times with the bamboo stick causing him to run away. Ah Fook then walked away threatening to return and burn the house down. Ned did not return until sundown. Historians find neither account convincing and believe that Neds account is likely true up to being hit by Ah Fook but then Ned likely took the stick from him and beat him with it.[9]

Ned was arrested the following day for Highway Robbery and locked up overnight in Benalla. He appeared in court the following morning but Sergeant Whelan, despite using an interpreter to translate Ah Fook's account, requested a remand to allow time to find an interpreter. Ned was remanded in custody for four days. Appearing in court on 20 October he was again remanded in custody after the police failed to produce an interpreter. The charge was finally dismissed on 26 October and Ned was released. Sergeant Whelan disliked Ned. Three months earlier he had prosecuted Yeaman Gunn for possession of stolen mutton, Ned had testified that he had sold several sheep to Gunn that same day. In a controversial judgement, the magistrate found Gunn guilty and fined him £10. Furious that Ned was not convicted for the robbery, he now kept a careful watch on the Kelly family and, according to fellow officers, Whelan became "a perfect encyclopedia of knowledge about them" through his "diligence".[9]

Following his appearance in court, the Benalla Ensign reported, "The cunning of himself [Ned] and his mates got him off", the Beechworth Advertiser on the other hand reported, "... the charge of robbery has been trumped up by the Chinaman to be revenged on Kelly, who had obviously assaulted him." Interestingly, Ah Fook had described 14 year old Ned as being aged around 20 years. Some 12 months later a reporter wrote that Ned "gives his age as 15 but is probably between 18 and 20". Although 5' 8" in height, Ned was physically imposing. When arrested, a 224 pounds (102 kg) trooper was unable to subdue the then purportedly 15 year old Ned until several labourers ran to assist him and even then Ned had to be knocked unconscious.[9]

On 10 May the following year, he was arrested on three charges of Highway Robbery and accused of being an accomplice of bushranger Harry Power. On the first two charges the victims could not identify Ned and the charges were dismissed. Although the victims for the third charge were reported to have also failed to identify Ned they had in fact been refused a chance to identify him by Superintendents Nicolas and Hare. Instead, superintendent Nicolas told the magistrate that Ned fitted the description and asked for him to be remanded to the Kyneton court for trial. Instead of being sent to Kyneton, he was sent to Melbourne where he spent the weekend in the Richmond lockup before being transferred to Kyneton. 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. Another factor in the lack of identification may have been that the witnesses had described Power's accomplice as a "half-caste". However, superintendent Nicholas and Captain Standish believed this to be the result of Ned going unwashed.[9] Ned's grandfather, James Quinn, owned a huge piece of land at the headwaters of the King River known as Glenmore Station, where Power was ultimately arrested. Following Power's arrest it was rumoured that Ned had informed on him and Ned was treated with hostility within the community. Ned wrote a letter to police Sergeant Babington pleading for his help in the matter. The informant was in fact Ned's uncle, Jack Lloyd.

In October 1870, Kelly 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 Kelly returned home. There he met Isaiah "Wild" Wright who had arrived in the area on a chestnut mare. While he was staying with the Kellys the mare had gone missing and Wright borrowed one of the Kelly horses to return to Mansfield. He asked Ned to look for the chestnut and keep it until his return. Kelly found the mare and used it to go to Wangaratta where he stayed for a few days but while riding through Greta on his way home, Ned was approached by police constable Hall who, from the description of the animal, knew the horse was stolen property. When his attempt to arrest Kelly 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.[10] Hall later struck Kelly several times with his revolver after he had been arrested. Ned always maintained that he had no idea that the mare actually belonged to the Mansfield postmaster and that Wright had stolen it. After just three weeks of freedom, 16-year-old Kelly, along with his brother-in-law Alex Gunn, was sentenced to three years imprisonment with hard labour for "feloniously receiving a horse". "Wild" Wright escaped arrest for the theft on 2 May following an "exchange of shots" with police, but was arrested the following day, Wright received only eighteen months for stealing the horse.[11] After his release from prison in 1874, Ned allegedly fought and won a bare-knuckled boxing match with 'Wild' Wright that lasted 20 rounds.

While Kelly 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 for cattle-rustling. He and his family claimed that he did not know that some of the cattle did not belong to his employer and cousin Tom Lloyd. Jim was given a five-year sentence, but as O'Brien pointed out the receiver of the 'stolen stock' James Dixon was not prosecuted as he was 'a gentleman'[12]

In September 1877 Ned was arrested for drunkenness. While being escorted by four policemen he broke free and ran into a shop. The police tried to subdue him but failed and Ned later gave himself up to a Justice of the Peace and was fined. During the incident Constable Lonigan, who Ned was to later shoot dead, "black-balled" him (grabbed and squeezed his testicles). Legend has it that Ned told Lonigan "If I ever shoot a man, Lonigan, it'll be you!".

In October 1877, Gustav and William Baumgarten were arrested for supplying stolen horses to Ned Kelly and were later sentenced in 1878. William served time in Pentridge Prison, Melbourne.

Following Red Kelly's death, Ned's mother, Ellen, had married a Californian named George King, by whom she had three children. He, Ned and Dan became involved in a cattle rustling operation.

Fitzpatrick Incident

On 15 April 1878, 21 year old Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick arrived at Benalla suffering from an alleged bullet wound to his left wrist. He claimed that he had been attacked by Ned, Dan, Ellen, their associate Bricky Williamson and Ned's brother-in-law, Bill Skillion. Fitzpatrick claimed that all except Ellen had been armed with revolvers. Williamson and Skillion were arrested for their part in the affair. 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 son by several decades and died on 27 March 1923.) The Kellys claimed that Fitzpatrick came into their house to question Dan over a cattle duffing incident. While there, he made a pass at Ellen's daughter Kate. Her mother hit his hand with a coal shovel and the men knocked Fitzpatrick to the floor. 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 had been away in New South Wales. Whether Ned was in New South Wales is still disputed, although Fitzpatrick's testimony of events is coloured by the fact that he was later dismissed from the force for drunkenness and perjury.[13]

Trial at Beechworth

Despite Fitzpatrick's treating doctor reporting a strong smell of alcohol on the constable and his inability to confirm the wrist wound was caused by a bullet, Fitzpatrick's evidence was accepted by the police and the Judge. Ellen Kelly, Skillion and Williamson appeared on 9 October 1878 before Judge Redmond Barry charged with attempted murder and were convicted on Fitzpatrick's unsupported evidence. Barry stated that if Ned were present he would 'give him 15 years'.[14]

Killings at Stringybark Creek

Monument erected in Mansfield, Victoria in honour of the three policemen murdered by Kelly's gang, Lonigan, Scanlon and Kennedy

Dan and Ned Kelly doubted they could convince the police of their story. Instead they went into hiding, where they were later joined by 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. A second police party had set off from Greta near the Wangaratta end, with the intention of closing in on Ned in a pincer movement.

The Mansfield team of police under Kennedy on arrival at Stringybark split into two groups: Kennedy and Scanlon went in search of the Kellys, while the others, Lonigan and McIntyre remained to guard their camp. Brown suggested in 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, which explored a possibility that Kennedy and Scanlon may have searched for the Kellys to gain a reward for themselves. Jones stated (p. 131) that Kennedy and Scanlon had once split a reward for the arrest of 'Wild Wright'. O'Brien's research focus on the practice of splitting rewards highlighted that it was known as 'going whacks'.

The Mansfield police team (Lonigan and McIntyre) remaining in the base camp fired at parrots, unaware they were only a mile away from the Kelly camp. Alerted by the shooting, the Kellys searched and discovered the well-armed police camped near the "shingle hut" at Stringybark Creek. Although the police were disguised as prospectors, they had pack horses with leather strap arrangements suitable for carrying out bodies.

Ned Kelly and his brother Dan considered their chances of survival against the well-armed party and decided to overpower the two officers, then wait for the two others to return. According to Jones (p. 132) the Kellys knew that a police member (Strahan), from Greta team boasted he would shoot Ned 'like a dog' and Kelly believed these police were that Greta party. He was unaware of the Mansfield group. Ned's plan was for the police to surrender, allowing the Kellys to take their arms and horses. Ned and Dan advanced to the police camp, ordering them to surrender. Constable McIntyre threw his arms up. Lonigan drew his revolver and Ned shot him. Lonigan staggered some distance, and collapsed dead.

When the other two police returned to camp, Constable McIntyre, at Ned's direction, called on them to surrender. Scanlon went for his pistol; Ned fired. Scanlon was killed. Kennedy ran, firing as he sought cover moving from tree to tree. In an exchange of gunfire, Ned fired a fatal shot into Kennedy. McIntyre, in the confusion, escaped on horseback uninjured.

The exact place at Germans Creek where this occurred has only recently been identified.[15] On leaving the scene Ned stole Sergeant Kennedy's handwritten 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 watch was returned to his kin many years later.

In response to these killings the Victorian parliament passed the Felons' Apprehension Act which outlawed the gang and made it possible for anyone to shoot them. There was no need for the outlaws to be arrested or for there to be a trial upon apprehension. The Act was based on the 1865 Act passed in New South Wales which declared Ben Hall and his gang outlaws.[16][17]

Bank robberies

8000 pound reward notice for the capture of the Ned Kelly gang, 15 February 1879

Following the killings at Stringybark, the gang committed two major robberies, at Euroa, Victoria and Jerilderie, New South Wales. Their strategy involved the taking of hostages and robbing the bank safes.


On 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, along with 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 was carried out without injury and the gang netted £2,260, a large sum in those days and equivalent to around $100,000 today.

In January 1879 police arrested all known Kelly friends and sympathisers and held them without charge for three months. This action caused resentment of the government's abuse of power that led to condemnation in the media and a groundswell of support for the gang that was a factor in their evading capture for so long.[18]


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.

On Monday the gang rounded up various people and forced them into the back parlour of the Royal Mail Hotel. While Dan Kelly and Steve Hart kept the hostages busy with "drinks on the house",[19] Ned Kelly and Joe Byrne robbed the local bank of £2,414. Kelly also burned all the townspeople's mortgage deeds in the bank.

New South Wales issued rewards totaling £4,000. The Victorian Government increased its reward to match making the total reward for the Kelly gang £8,000 (A$400,000).

From early March 1879 to June 1880 nothing was heard of the gang's whereabouts with one possible exception. In late March 1879 Ned's sisters Kate and Margaret approached the captain of the Victoria Cross, then docked in Melbourne, and enquired as to how much he would charge to take four or five gentlemen friends to California if they boarded in Queenscliff. Nothing definite was arranged but on 31 March, a man he described as having a somewhat suspicious appearance called on the captain to confirm the passage discussed by the Kelly sisters. The captain arranged an appointment at the General Post Office that afternoon to give a definite answer for the cost then contacted police, who placed a large number of detectives and plain-clothes police throughout the building, but the man failed to appear. There is no evidence that Ned's sisters were enquiring on behalf of the gang, but it was reported in Melbourne media as probable with speculation that the number of police present at the Post Office had alerted them.[20]

In April 1880 a Notice of Withdrawal of Reward was posted by Government. It stated that after 20 July 1880 the Government would "absolutely cancel and withdraw the offer for the reward".

Jerilderie letter

Months prior to arriving in Jerilderie, and with help from Joe Byrne, Ned Kelly 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 7,391 words and has become a famous piece of Australian literature. Kelly had written a previous letter (14 December 1878) to a member of Parliament stating his grievances, but the correspondence had been suppressed from the public. The letter 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.

The handwritten document was donated anonymously to the State Library of Victoria in 2000. Historian Alex McDermott says of the Letter, "... 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..." Kelly's language is colourful, rough and full of metaphors; it is "one of the most extraordinary documents in Australian history".

The National Museum of Australia in Canberra holds publican John Hanlon's transcript of the Jerilderie Letter.

Capture, trial and execution

The trial of Ned Kelly
Kelly in the dock
Ned Kelly's death mask in the Old Melbourne Gaol

On 26 June 1880 the Felons' Apprehension Act 612 expired, with the result that not only was the gang's outlaw status no longer in effect but that their arrest warrants also expired. While Ned and Dan still had prior warrants outstanding for the attempted murder of Fitzpatrick, technically Hart and Byrne were free men although the police still retained the right to re-issue the murder warrants.[21]

The gang discovered that Aaron Sherritt, Joe Byrne's erstwhile best friend, was a police informer. On 26 June 1880, the same day their outlaw status expired, Dan Kelly and Joe Byrne went to Sherritt's house and killed him. (Superintendent Hare later testified that Sherritt was the "scout of the district" and regularly informed Kelly of police movements; however, he also testified that following the Jerilderie robbery he paid Sherritt for informing on Kelly's whereabouts. 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.

Glenrowan shootout

The Kelly Gang arrived in Glenrowan on 27 June forcibly taking about seventy hostages at the Glenrowan Inn. They knew that a passenger train carrying a police detachment was on its way and ordered the rail tracks pulled up in order to cause a derailment.

The gang members were equipped with armour that was tough enough to repel bullets (but left the legs unprotected). It is not known exactly who made the armour, although it was likely forged from stolen or donated plough mouldboards. Each man's armour weighed about 96 pounds (44 kg); all four had helmets, and Byrne's was said to be the most well done, with the brow reaching down to the nose piece, almost forming two eye slits. All wore grey cotton coats reaching past the knees over the armour.

While holed up in the Glenrowan Inn, the Kelly gang's attempt to derail the police train failed because of the actions of a released hostage, schoolmaster Thomas Curnow. Curnow convinced Ned to let him go and then as soon as he was released he alerted the authorities by standing on the railway line near sunrise and waving a lantern wrapped in his red scarf. The police then stopped the train before it would have been derailed and laid siege to the inn at dawn on Monday 28 June.

The accounts of who opened fire first are contradictory. According to Superintendent Hare he was close to the inn when he saw the flash of a rifle and felt his left hand go limp. Three more flashes followed from the veranda and then whoever had first fired at him stepped back and began to fire again after which the police opened fire. Kelly testified in court that he was dismounting from his horse when a bolt in his armour failed. While he was fixing the bolt the police fired two volleys into the inn. Kelly claimed that as he walked towards the inn the police fired a third volley with the result that one bullet hit him in the foot and another in the left arm. It was at that moment he claimed his gang began returning the fire. Kelly now walked in what police called a "lurching motion" towards them from 30 metres (98 ft) away. Because of the restrictions of his armour, and now only being able to hold his revolving rifle in one hand, he had to hold the rifle at arm’s length to fire, and claimed he fired randomly, two shots to the front and two shots to his left. Constable Arthur fired three times, hitting Kelly once in the helmet and twice in his body, but despite staggering from the impacts he continued to advance. Constables Phillips and Healy then fired with similar effect. Kelly's lower limbs, however, were unprotected, and when 15 metres (49 ft) from the police line he was shot repeatedly in the legs. As he fell he was hit by a shotgun blast that injured his hip and right hand.

The other Kelly Gang members died in the hotel; Joe Byrne perished as a result of loss of blood from a gunshot wound that severed his femoral artery as he allegedly stood at the bar pouring himself a glass of whisky, Dan Kelly and Steve Hart committed suicide (according to witness Matthew Gibney). No autopsy was done to determine cause of death, as their bodies were burnt when the police set fire to the inn. 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.[22] Several hostages were also shot, two fatally.

The body of Joe Byrne was taken to Benalla and strung up as a curiosity for photographers and spectators. His body was not claimed by his family, and he was buried by police in an unmarked grave in Benalla Cemetery. Dan Kelly and Steve Hart were buried in unmarked graves by their families in Greta Cemetery 30 km (19 mi) east of Benalla.


Ned Kelly survived to stand trial and was convicted of the first degree murder of Constable Lonigan. He was then sentenced to death by hanging by Irish-born Lord Justice 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. When the judge uttered the customary words "May God have mercy on your soul", Kelly replied "I will go a little further than that, and say I will see you there when I go".[23] At Ned's request, his photographic portrait was taken and he was granted farewell interviews with family members. His mother's last words to Ned were reported to be "Mind you die like a Kelly".


He was hanged on 11 November 1880 at the Melbourne Gaol. Although two newspapers (The Age and The Herald) reported Kelly's last words as "Such is life", another source, Kelly's gaol warden, wrote in his diary that when Kelly was prompted to say his last words, the prisoner opened his mouth and mumbled something that he could not hear. Sir Redmond Barry died of the effects of a carbuncle on his neck on 23 November 1880, twelve days after Kelly.

Although the exact number is unknown, it is estimated that a petition to spare Kelly's life attracted over 30,000 signatures.[24]


There was considerable controversy over the division of the £8,000 (A$400,000 in 2008 dollars) reward before the enquiry into the siege was conducted although the money itself was not actually paid until it had concluded. Most commentators complained that Curnow should have received more while many of the police deserved less pointing out that some police who received large amounts were of little value at Glenrowan, whilst others receiving lesser amounts distinguished themselves. Public opposition was such that Superintendent Hare and Sub-inspector O’Connor, who was in charge of the Aboriginal trackers, declined to collect their shares of £800 (A$40,000 in 2008 dollars) and £237 (A$11,850 in 2008 dollars) respectively.

Despite being suspended for cowardice at Glenrowan, Superintendent Hare received the largest share, £800 while Thomas Curnow, who alerted police to the ambush thus saving many lives, received £550. Seven senior police officers received from £165 to £377 each, seven constables £137, Mr. C. C. Rawlins (civilian volunteer) £137, one constable £125, 15 constables £115, the three train engineers £104, one detective £100, one senior constable £97, the train driver, fireman and guard £84 each, assistant engine fireman £69, assistant engine driver £68, one senior constable £48, 14 constables £42 each and Messrs Cheshire and Osborne, £25 each. Nine civilians, 13 constables and two police agents applied for a share of the reward but were rejected. The board acknowledged that some who received nothing deserved a share but adherence to the terms of the proclamation precluded rewarding them. Four members of the media had accompanied the police and the board stated that, had they applied for a share, it would have been approved.

Seven native trackers also received £50 each although the board deemed it undesirable to place any sum of money in the hands of persons unable to use it and recommend that the sums set opposite the names of the black trackers be handed to the Queensland and Victorian Governments to be dealt with at their discretion.[25]

Kelly gang armour

Ned Kelly's armour, from an 1880 illustration
Ned Kelly's armour on display in the State Library of Victoria
The apron and one shoulderplate are not Ned's and comes from either Dan Kelly's or Steve Hart's armour.

All four suits consisted of a breast-plate, back-plate, and a helmet. Joe Byrne's suit was the only one without an apron to protect the groin and thighs, as a result he died from a shot to the groin. Ned's suit was the only one to also have an apron at the back. The suits' separate parts were strapped together on the body while the helmet was separate and sat on the shoulders allowing it to be removed easily when the need arose. Padding is only known from Ned's armour and it is not clear if the other suits were similarly padded. Ned wore a padded skull cap and his helmet also had internal strapping so his head could take some of the weight. All the men wore dustcoats over the armour.

The Victorian Police had been told three times by informants of the existence of the armour and that it was capable of deflecting bullets but Police Superintendents Hare and Sadlier both dismissed the information as "nonsense" and "an impossibility". Despite these warnings none of the police realised the gang were wearing armour until after the siege was over. Until Ned fell the police even questioned whether he was human. Constable Arthur, who was closest, thought he was a "huge blackfellow wrapped in a blanket", Constable Dowsett exclaimed it was "old Nick" and Senior Constable Kelly called out "Look out, boys, it’s the bunyip. He’s bullet-proof!" Constable Gascoigne, who recognised Ned's voice, told Superintendent Sadlier he had "fired at him point blank and hit him straight in the body. But there is no use firing at Ned Kelly; he can't be hurt". Although aware of the information supplied by the informant prior to the siege, Sadlier later wrote that even after Gascoigne's comment "no thought of armour" had occurred to him.

Following the siege of Glenrowan the media reported the events and use of armour around the world. The gang were admired in military circles and Arthur Conan Doyle commented on the gang's imagination and recommended similar armour for use by British infantry. The police announcement to the Australian public that the armour was made from ploughshares was ridiculed, disputed, and deemed impossible even by blacksmiths.[26]

After Ned Kelly's capture there was considerable debate over having the armour destroyed, all four disassembled suits of armour were eventually stored by Police Superintendent Hare in Melbourne. Hare gave Ned Kelly's armour to Sir William Clarke, and it was later donated to the State Library of Victoria. Joe Byrne's suit of armour was kept by Hare and now belongs to his descendants. Dan Kelly and Steve Hart's armour are still owned by the Victorian Police force. As no effort was made to maintain the armour's integrity while stored, the suits were reassembled by guesswork. In 2002 several parts were identified from photographs taken shortly after the siege and reunited with their original suits. As a result the State Library of Victoria was able to exchange their backplate, which was found to be Steve Hart's breastplate, for Ned Kelly's own backplate, making their suit currently the most original.[27] In January 2002 all four suits were displayed together for an exhibition in the Old Melbourne Gaol.[28]

According to legend the armour was made on a Stringybark log by the gang themselves. Due to the quality of the workmanship and the difficulties involved in forging, historians and blacksmiths had long believed the armour could only have been made by a professional blacksmith in a forge. A professional blacksmith would have heated the steel to over 1,000 °C (1,830 °F), before shaping it. A bush forge would only be able to get the metal to 750 °C (1,380 °F), which would make shaping the metal very difficult. In 2003 Byrne's suit of armour was disassembled and tested by ANSTO at the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in Sydney to determine how the armour was made and what temperatures were involved. The results of testing indicated the heating of the metal was "patchy". Some parts had been bent cold while other parts had been subjected to extended periods in a heat source of not much more than 700 °C (1,292 °F), which is consistent with a bush forge. The quality of forging was also determined to be less than believed, and it is now considered unlikely to have been done by a blacksmith. The method now widely accepted is that mouldboards were heated in a makeshift bush forge and then beaten straight over a green log before being cut into shape and riveted together to form each individual piece.[29][30]

Ned Kelly's remains and grave

Following his execution it was reported in a newspaper that Kelly's body was dissected by medical students, with his head and organs removed for study. Dissection outside of a coronial enquiry was illegal, and as public outrage at the rumour raised real fears of public disorder, the commissioner of police wrote the Goals governor who denied such a dissection had taken place.[31] In line with the practice of the day, as no records are kept regarding the disposal of a condemned person's body or body parts, Kelly's remains were buried in Melbourne Gaol's unmarked graveyard. Kelly's head was allegedly given to phrenologists for study then returned to the police, who used it for a time as a paperweight.

In 1929, Melbourne gaol was closed, and the bodies in its graveyard were uncovered during demolition works. During the recovery of the bodies, spectators and workers stole skeletal parts from a grave marked with the initials EK in the belief they belonged to Kelly. The site foreman, Harry Franklin, retrieved the skull and gave it to the Australian Institute of Anatomy in Canberra. As no provision had been made for the disposal of the remains, Franklin had the bodies reburied in Pentridge prison at his own expense.[31] The skull in the possession of police was given, at some unknown date, to the Institute of Anatomy in Canberra who, in 1971, gave it to the National Trust. It was this skull that was thought to have been displayed at the Old Melbourne Gaol until it was stolen in December 1978. An investigation in 2010 proved that the displayed skull was in fact the one recovered in April 1929.[31] Tom Baxter, a farmer from West Australia, claimed he had the skull stolen in 1978 but refused to hand it over for identification or burial. Despite attempts, the police had been unable to locate the stolen skull. The skull did not match photographs of the stolen skull, and a facial reconstruction based on a cast made from the skull in Baxter's possession did not resemble Kelly, but does resemble the death mask of Ernest Knox, who was executed in 1894 for murder. If this was indeed the skull stolen in 1978, it meant that Kelly's skull was on display originally, but was taken off display at some time and thereafter replaced with Knox's skull.[32]

On 9 March 2008 it was announced that Australian archaeologists believed they had found Kelly's grave on the site of Pentridge prison.[33] The bones were uncovered at a mass grave, and Kelly's are among those of 32 felons who had been executed by hanging. Jeremy Smith, a senior archaeologist with Heritage Victoria said, "We believe we have conclusively found the burial site but that is very different from finding the remains." Mrs. Ellen Hollow, Kelly's 62-year-old grand-niece, offered to supply her own DNA to help identify Kelly's bones.[34]

Historical and forensic investigation of remains

On the anniversary of Kelly's hanging, 11 November 2009, Tom Baxter handed the skull in his possession to police and it was historically and forensically tested along with the Pentridge remains. The skull was compared to a cast of the skull that had been stolen from the Old Melbourne Gaol in 1978 and proved to be a perfect match. The skull was then compared to that in a newspaper photograph of worker Alex Talbot holding the skull recovered in 1929 which showed a close resemblance. Talbot was known to have taken a tooth from the skull as a souvenir and a media campaign to find the whereabouts of the tooth led to Talbot's grandson coming forward. The tooth was found to belong to the skull confirming it was indeed the skull recovered in 1929. The skull was next compared to the death masks of those executed at Old Melbourne Gaol which eliminated all but two. The two were those of Kelly and Frederick Deeming who had been executed in 1892 and buried alongside Kelly, both were a close match. The death masks and skull were then scanned to provide 3D images which showed that the skull was a match for Deeming. This proved to be a problem as Deeming's labeled skull cap was in storage. Both the skull and Deemings skull cap were DNA tested and compared to that of Leigh Olver, great-grandson of Kelly's mother Ellen by her second husband George King, with no match being found. It is now accepted that the skull recovered in 1929 and later displayed in the Old Melbourne Gaol was not Kelly's. It is likely the skull belongs to Deeming and that what was thought to be Deeming's skull cap was mislabeled and actually belongs to someone else.[31]

Forensic pathologists also examined the bones from Pentridge, which were much decayed and jumbled with the remains of others, making identification difficult. The collar bone was found to be the only bone that had survived in all the skeletons and these were all DNA tested against that of Leigh Olver. A match to Kelly was found and the associated skeleton turned out to be one of the most complete. Kelly's remains were additionally identified by partially healed foot, wrist bone and left elbow injuries matching those caused by the bullet wounds at Glenrowan as recorded by the Goal surgeon in 1880 and by the fact that his head was missing, likely removed for phrenological study. A section from the back of a skull (the occipital) was recovered from the grave that bore saw cuts that matched those present on several neck vertebrae indicating that the skull section belonged to the skeleton and that an illegal dissection had been performed.[31]

In August 2011, scientists publically confirmed a skeleton exhumed from the old Pentridge Prison's mass graveyard was indeed Kelly's, after comparing the DNA to that of Leigh Olver.[3] The DNA matching was based on mitochonrial DNA (HV1, HV2). This is indicative of Mr Kelly's maternal line. The investigating forensic pathologist has indicated that no adequate quality somatic DNA was obtained that would enable a y-DNA profile to be determined. This may be attempted at a later date. A y-DNA profile would enable Mr Kelly's paternal genetic genealogy to be determined with reference to the data already existing in the Kelly y-DNA study (see[35] The skeleton was missing most of its skull, the whereabouts of which are unknown.[36]

Aftermath and lessons

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. The Commission took 18 months and its findings put many of the police involved in the Kelly hunt in a less than favourable light, yet neither did it excuse or sanction the actions of the Kelly Gang. As a result of the Commission a number of members of the Victorian police, including senior staff, were reprimanded, demoted, or dismissed.

Some dismiss the Kelly Outbreak as simply a spate of criminality. These included: Boxhall, The Story of Australian Bushrangers (1899), Henry Giles Turner, History of the Colony of Victoria (1904) and several police writers of the time like Hare and more modern writers like Penzig (1988) who wrote legitimising narratives about law and order and moral justification.

Others, commencing with Kenneally (1929), McQuilton (1979) and Jones (1995), perceived the Kelly Outbreak and the problems of Victoria's Land Selection Acts post-1860s as interlinked. McQuilton identified Kelly as the "social bandit" who was caught up in unresolved social contradictions – that is, the selector-squatter conflicts over land – and that Kelly gave the selectors the leadership they so lacked. O'Brien (1999) identified a leaderless rural malaise in Northeastern Victoria as early as 1872–73, around land, policing and the Impounding Act.

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 – namely, Superintendent John Sadleir (1833–1919),[6] author of Recollections of a Victorian Police Officer, and Inspector W.B. 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.

Kellys and the modern era

Ned's mother Ellen died in 1923 at the age of 92, by which time planes, cars and radio had been introduced to Australia. Photographs have recently been discovered showing her sitting in a motor car.[37]

November 2007 auctioning of claimed Kelly revolver

On 13 November 2007, a weapon claimed to be Constable Fitzpatrick's service revolver was auctioned for approximately $70,000 in Melbourne and is now located in Westbury, Tasmania.

The vendor's representative, Tom Thompson, claimed that the revolver was left by Constable Fitzpatrick at the Kelly house after the melee in 1878, given to Kate Kelly, and then (much later) found in a house or shed in Forbes, New South Wales.[38]

According to press reports[39] in the days following the auction, firearms experts assessed the revolver as being of a design (a copy of an English Webley .32 revolver) not manufactured until 1884, well after the claimed provenance had the weapon changing hands from Constable Fitzpatrick to the Kellys. In addition, a stamp on the gun which the auction catalogue interpreted as R*C, an indication that the revolver was of the Royal Constabulary, was instead read as a European manufacturer's proof mark.

Further, evidence by Constable Fitzpatrick said that when he left the Kelly homestead after the incident, he had his revolver and handcuffs; (cited in Keith McMenomy (1984), p. 69.)

Cultural effect

A homemade letterbox in the style of Ned Kelly's armour, Bullio, Southern Highlands

One of the gaols in which Kelly was incarcerated has become the Ned Kelly Museum in Glenrowan, Victoria, and many weapons and artifacts used by him and his gang are in exhibit there. Since his death, Kelly has become part of Australian folklore, the language and the subject of a large number of books and several films. The Australian term "as game as Ned Kelly" entered the language and is a common expression.[40]

Films included the first feature film, The Story of the Kelly Gang (Australia, 1906), another with Mick Jagger in the title role (1970), and more recently Ned Kelly (2003) starring Heath Ledger, Orlando Bloom and Geoffrey Rush. A TV mini series of six episodes The Last Outlaw (1980) highlighted the plight of the selector and the social conflicts and battles between selector and squatters. During the 1960s, Ned Kelly graduated from folk lore into the academic arena. His story and the social issues around land selection, squatters, national identity,[41] policing and his court case are studied at universities, seminars and lectures.

Ned Kelly as a political icon

In the time since his execution, Ned Kelly has been mythologised among some into a Robin Hood,[42] a political revolutionary and a figure of Irish Catholic and working-class resistance to the establishment and British colonial ties.[43] It is claimed that Kelly's bank robberies were to fund the push for a "Republic of the North-East of Victoria", and that the police found a declaration of the republic in his pocket when he was captured, which has led to his being seen as an icon by some in the Australian republicanism cause.

See also


  1. ^ There is no record of Ned's birth, baptism or even where he was born. Ned believed he was born in mid 1855 while officials believed his birth was in 1854.
  2. ^ Johnston, Matt (20 June 2010). "Help sought to identify Ned Kelly's head". Herald Sun. Retrieved 10 August 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Curran, Enda (2 September 2011). "Scientists Nab an Australian Outlaw". Wall Street Journal: p. A6.  (Article on the web is slightly different from the print edition.)
  4. ^ J. J. Kenneally, The Inner History of the Kelly Gang, p. 17.
  5. ^ The boy's great-grandson became an Australian Rules footballer, Ian "Bluey" Shelton and played 91 first-grade games for Essendon from 1959 to 1965 – Bluey was "as game as Ned Kelly", and played his last season with Essendon with only one eye, following a tractor accident on his farm at Avenel.[1] [2] [3][4]
  6. ^ Jones, p. 25
  7. ^ O'Brien, pp. 12–16
  8. ^ O'Brien, pp. 13–15.
  9. ^ a b c d Jones, Ian (2010). Ned Kelly: A Short Life. Pg 37-48: Hachette. ISBN 0733625797. 
  10. ^ as described by Kelly himself in The Jerilderie Letter
  11. ^ Ned Kelly was still in Beechworth Goal when the horse was reported stolen and had been home only a few days when Wright arrived.—Mansfield Independent Newspaper 5 May 1871
    The horse belonging to the Mansfield Postmaster, Mr Newland, was agisted on the Maindample property of a Mr Highett. The son of the farmer who owned the property adjacent Mr Highett's on the Maindample-Benalla road (now part of the Midland Link Highway), 14 year old Archibald McPhail testified at Wright's trial that he witnessed Wright taking the horse.—Mansfield Independent Newspaper 25 August 1871
  12. ^ O'Brien, 'Awaiting Ned Kelly',p. 69.
  13. ^ Catherine Ada Kelly Fitzpatrick had been courting Kate and to further this, claimed to be Ned's friend. However, he was intensly disliked by the Kelly's as he was already paying maintenance for two children he fathered out of wedlock with two separate women.
  14. ^ Kenneally, p. 44.
  15. ^ Denheld, Bill (2003). "Germans Creek". Retrieved 30 December 2006. 
  16. ^ "Ben Hall and the outlawed bushrangers". Culture and Recreation Portal. Australian Government. 15 April 2008. Retrieved 19 September 2008. 
  17. ^ Cowie, N. (5 July 2002). "Felons' Apprehension Act (Act 612)". Retrieved 19 September 2008. 
  18. ^ "The police have been very busy for some time past, rounding up and running in persons supposed to be furnishing the outlaws with rations, information, etc. Men and lads to the tune of about a score, have from first to last, been placed in durance vile, under the above charges. The Government, I consider very properly, refused to suspend the Habius Corpus Act. But the authorities seem bound to have bodies somehow. Meanwhile the all seeing public, who must be allowed to have some little judgement, are dubious of the correctness, or otherwise, of the manner in which these people are being taken and kept in custody. The liberty of the British subject, &c. But, The habeas corpus, as I before said, is not suspended. But the following may be taken as an example of how things are done:—Constable Rusty, we will say, from information received, rides off to old Tom Lloyd’s farm, near Greta. Tom Lloyd has the misfortune to be an uncle of the Kellys. Tom is very busy getting in his crop, and upon Rusty, explaining his mission, protests his perfect innocence, and avows that if he is taken away from his farm at the present time, he is a ruined man. The only reply he receives is—Come along old man. He is accordingly marched off, and his oldest son with him, leaving his wife and a little child or two to get in the harvest as best they can. The Lloyds are taken to Benalla that night and lodged in the lock-up. On the next morning they are brought before a bench of magistrates, and on the application of the police, remanded to Beechworth for eight days to give them time to collect their evidence. On the expiration of that time, they are brought before the police magistrate at Beechworth. The police are no more prepared to go on with their case than they were at Benalla. Another remand is applied for, and another eight days is the result. This farce is repeated for six, or perhaps seven, weeks; and still not a tittle of evidence brought is forward to substantiate the charge. Human nature, I suppose could no longer sustain the very severe strain upon her. So that very elastic gentleman, conscience, came to the conclusion that he had wronged that man long enough for once; so old Tom Lloyd was discharged. A mistake was made, and he must put up with the consequence. I can almost imagine that I can hear old Positive Fact saying—The authorities have brought you here, fifty miles from your home, ???, gratis, for nothing; you will now have to pay your own return passage, or get back as best you can. Any inconvenience your family may have encountered in your absence, and any loss you may have sustained through their inability to gather the harvest in the absence of yourself and son; you, of course, will have to pocket. It has all occurred through a mistake in trying to maintain law and order. Of course, you know the old trueism—“Give a dog a bad name, &c.” Now, be a good boy; go about your business. Respect the law and its administrators, and think yourself very fortunate that you are not detained here to keep company with Isaiah Wright and those other boys. Our old friend Dunn has been seen in amongst others, and is now serving his time on the remand. I must say, however, that I thoroughly coincide with what seems to be the general opinion in Benalla, viz.:—That Jack is to big a “softy” to be put in possession of any of the Kellys’ secrets; that he is not game enough to run the risk of assisting the outlaws, even supposing that he was anxious, and had the opportunity of doing so; and that it is a doubtful policy to run in such as him, even if the police knew that he was a “bush telegraph.” Query—Would it not be better to release some of those who, I will even go so far as to say, are known to assist the outlaws, let them run loose, and keep an eye on them?"
    Extracts from the Benalla Standard Benalla Standard 4 July 1879.
  19. ^ An Illustrated History of the Kelly Gang by Alec Brierley, published in 1979
  20. ^ The Age 4 July 1879
  21. ^ Clause 10 of the Act held that the Act was to remain in force until the prorogation of the following sitting of parliament when it could be either continued by a further Act of Parliament, or allowed to expire. In December 1879 the Act was extended by Parliament until the next session of parliament dissolved which occurred on 26 June 1880. Superintendent Hare later testified before the enquiry that he knew the gang were no longer outlaws at the time of the siege so it is assumed that the majority of the police at Glenrowan were also aware of this. The behavior of the Kelly gang indicates that they did not know when, or even if, the Act had expired.[5]
  22. ^ J.J. Kenneally, pp. 190–191
  23. ^ "The sentencing of Edward Kelly". Retrieved 11 November 2006. 
  24. ^ "Reprieve". ned online. Retrieved 29 August 2008. 
  25. ^ The Age 22 April 1881
  26. ^ The Kelly Armour Ned Kelly Bushranger
  27. ^ Ned Kelly Fact Sheet State Library of Victoria
  28. ^ Piecing Together the Past: The Kelly Armour Exchange State Library of Victoria January 2003
  29. ^ Kelly Gang Armour Australian Broadcasting Corporation 21 August 2003
  30. ^ Testing Joe Byrne's Armour Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO)
  31. ^ a b c d e Ned's Head SBS One Documentary: The scientific investigation and DNA testing of Kelly's skeletal remains 4 September 2011
  32. ^ Ned's missing grave Ned Kelly Bushranger
  33. ^ Standing, Jonathan (9 March 2008). "Grave of Australian outlaw Ned Kelly said found=2011-09-02". Sydney: Reuters. 
  34. ^ The Times, 10 March 2008
  35. ^ Samuels, Jonathan (1 September 2011). "Australian Outlaw Ned Kelly's Remains Found". Sky News. Retrieved 2011-09-02. 
  36. ^ Kenneally, Christine (31 August 2011). "A Hero's Legend and a Stolen Skull Rustle Up a DNA Drama". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-09-08. 
  37. ^ "Found: Rare pictures of Kelly gang matriarch". "The Age" newspaper (Melbourne). 2 December 2006. Retrieved 2 December 2006. 
  38. ^ "Kelly Gang gun goes for $70,000, but is it the real thing?". The Age (Melbourne). 14 November 2007. Retrieved 8 March 2008. 
  39. ^ "Kelly gang gun is a fake, say firearms experts". The Age (Melbourne). 15 November 2007. Retrieved 8 March 2008. 
  40. ^ Barry, John V. (1974). "Kelly, Edward (Ned) (1855–1880)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. 5. Melbourne University Press. pp. 6–8. Retrieved 8 April 2007. 
  41. ^ Gibb (1982)
  42. ^ C. Turnbull (1942) and Hobsbawm (1972)
  43. ^ O'Brien (2006)


  • Sadleir, J., Recollections of a Victorian Police Officer, George Robertson & Co., (Melbourne), 1913. (Facsimile reprint, Penguin Books, 1973, ISBN 0-140-70037-4)
  • O'Brien, Antony (2006). Bye-Bye Dolly Gray. Hartwell: Artillery Publishing. (historical fiction with lots of Kelly oral and histories in a twisting & turning plot)
  • Brown, Max (1948). Australian Son. Melbourne: Georgian House.  (plus reprints)(a sound pro-Kelly history of the events)
  • 'Cameron Letter', 14 December 1878, in Meredith, J. & Scott, B. Ned Kelly After a Century of Acrimony, Lansdowne, Sydney, 1980, pp. 63–66. (Ned Kelly's own words)
  • Gibb, D. M. (1982). National Identity and Counsciousness: Commentary and Documents. Melbourne: Nelson.  (Chapter 1. Ned Kelly's view of his world and others)
  • Hare, F.A. (1892). The Last of the Bushrangers. London.  (a police perspective of the 'criminal class')
  • Hobsbawm, E.J. (1972). Bandits. Ringwood: Pelican.  (wide ranging world wide history on social bandits in which he argues that Ned Kelly can be better understood)
  • Jones, Ian (1995). Ned Kelly : A Short Life. Port Melbourne: Lothian.  (a comprehensive and well researched piece of history and events)
  • Kenneally, J.J. (1929). Inner History of the Kelly Gang.  (plus many reprints) (the first pro-Kelly piece of literature)
  • McDermott, Alex, ed (2001). The Jerilderie Letter. Melbourne: Text Publishing.  (an insight into the famous Jerilderie Letter)
  • McMenomy, Keith (1984). Ned Kelly: The Authentic Illustrated Story. South Yarra: Curry O'Neill Ross.  (lots of photos from the era, photos of records etc. a sound research piece)
  • McQuilton, John, The Kelly Outbreak 1788–1880; The geographical dimension of social banditry, 1979. (among the most important academic works, which expands on Hobsbawm; links the unresolved land problems to the Kelly Outbreak)
  • Penzig, Edgar, F. (1988). Bushrangers – Heroes or Villains. Katoomba: Tranter.  ( a pro-police/establishment piece)
  • Deakin University (1995). The Kelly Outbreak Reader. Geelong: Deakin University.  (is now hard to locate but it contains a wide selection of research documents and commentary for university level history students)
  • Turnbull, C (1942). Ned Kelly: Being his own story of his life and crimes. Melbourne: Hawthorn Press.  ( very hard to locate, but Ned Kelly become a national figure)
  • Wilcox, Craig (2005). Australia's Boer War: The War in South Africa 1899–1902. South Melbourne: Oxford.  (has a cartoon of 1900 depicting Ned Kelly and the gang capturing The Boer President Paul Kruger)
  • O'Brien, Phil (2002) "101 Adventures that got me Absolutely Nowhere" Vol 2 (p. 92 A resemblance to Ned Kelly's makeshift body armour of a child with a pot overturned on his head)
  • Keith Dunstan, Saint Ned, (1980), chronicles lesser known aspects of Ned Kelly's life, whilst discussing the rise of the 'Kellyana' industry.

Further reading


  • Carey, Peter (2000). Ned Kelly, True History of the Kelly Gang. 
  • O'Brien, Antony (2006) Bye-Bye Dolly Gray, Artillery Publishing, Hartwell. (Though this work is set 20 years after the Ned's death it contains insights into the Kelly story)
  • Upfield, Arthur. (1960) Bony and the Kelly Gang,Pan Books, London. (Upfield's famous fictional character, Inspector Boney, clashes with a new Kelly Gang)

Unpublished Kelly theses

  • Morrissey, Douglas. "Selectors, Squatters and Stock Thieves: A Social History of the Kelly Country", PhD, La Trobe (in Borchardt Library, La Trobe University, Victoria)
  • O'Brien, Antony. "Awaiting Ned Kelly: Rural Malaise in Northestern Victoria 1872–73", B.A. (Hons), Deakin University, 1999 (sighted in Burke Museum, Beechworth) (See. p. 45, re Royal Commission questions)

External links

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