Ned Kelly
Updated May 10, 2004

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This section offers a quick guide to Kelly history for those interested in the basic facts only.


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Facts at a glance:

Time Line

1850

  • John Kelly (ex-convict) and Ellen Quinn (free immigrant) marry in St Francis Catholic Church, Melbourne, Australia.

 

~1855

  • Edward (Ned) Kelly born. It is believed he was born near the township of Beveridge, in Victoria, Australia.
    Note: the precise date of Ned's birth is actually unknown by historians, but evidence suggests it is likely to have been somewhere between the end of 1854 and mid 1855. (The official record of John Kelly's death included information supplied by Ned, who indicated he was born about June 1855).

1857

  • Joseph (Joe) Byrne born near Beechworth, in Victoria, Australia.

1859

  • Steven (Steve) Hart born near Wangaratta, in Victoria, Australia.

1861

  • Daniel (Dan) Kelly born near Beveridge, in Victoria, Australia.

1864

  • Kelly family moved to Avenel, Victoria. Ned attended school, where he learned to read and write.

1865

  • Outlaws Ben Hall and John Gilbert shot dead by police.

1865 - 1866

  • Ned Kelly (aged ~11) saved Richard (Dick) Shelton from drowning in Hughes Creek, Avenel, at considerable risk to his own life. (Ned was formally thanked by the Shelton family with a green silk sash with gold fringe, which he later wore under his armour at the Siege of Glenrowan.)

 

1866

  • John (Red) Kelly died in December. (A young Ned, aged only 11, reported his father's death and signed the official death registration.)

1867

  • The widowed Ellen moved with her 7 children to north-east Victoria, to be near her relatives. Before long she chose to become a 'selector', and contracted around 80 acres of uncultivated farmland from the government at Eleven Mile Creek, (near the small township of Greta).

1869

  • Ex-convict and bushranger Henry Johnstone, alias 'Harry Power', escaped from prison.
  • Ned was arrested for the alleged robbery and assault of a Chinese traveler, Ah Fook. He was held for 10 days, however after witness testimony the case was dismissed.

1869 - 70

  • Ned apprenticed to bushranger Harry Power, who probably taught him effective survival techniques for the bush.

1870

  • Ned arrested on suspicion of being Power's accomplice. Police detained Ned for nearly 2 months, but the case against him was dismissed for 'lack of evidence'.
  • Harry Power caught and imprisoned.
  • 'Babington letter'. It was incorrectly rumoured in the district that Ned had turned Harry Power in to the police and Ned was therefore treated with hostility. (Harry was well liked and police informants were generally ostracized.) However the informant was in fact Ned's uncle, Jack Lloyd. Ned wrote a letter to police Sergeant Babington pleading for assistance (this letter survives today).
  • Conviction. Ned (aged 15) was convicted of 'assault' and 'indecent behavior' and sentenced to 3 months gaol for each offence, as well as being bound to keep the peace for 12 months, (he was freed on remission, 5 weeks early, in March 1871).

1871

  • Conviction. Shortly after Ned was released from gaol he was arrested and charged with horse theft. However when it was shown Ned had been in gaol at the time the horse had disappeared, the charge was amended and he was instead convicted of 'receiving a stolen horse'. Ned claimed he did not know the horse was stolen when he rode it, and that he believed the horse belonged to acquaintance Isaiah 'Wild' Wright. Nevertheless he was convicted and sentenced to 3 years hard labour. In contrast Wild Wright was convicted of 'illegally using a horse' and thus received the lesser sentence of 18 months for the actual theft.
  • Dan (aged 10) and James (aged 12) Kelly arrested for illegal use of a horse. Charges dismissed.

1873

  • James Kelly (aged 14) was arrested for stock theft and sentenced to 5 years in gaol, serving 4, (released on remission).

1874

  • February - Ned (pictured right) was freed early from Pentridge Goal and returned to Eleven Mile Creek. The next 3 years were without criminal conviction and he spent them doing 'honest' labour, (e.g. working as a tree-feller in a sawmill).
  • February - Ellen Kelly married an American named George King.
  • Ned reputedly fought and won a 20 round bare-knuckled boxing match with 'Wild' Wright.

1876

  • Warrant issued for Ned's arrest on a charge of horse theft. The case was dismissed.
  • Joe Byrne and Aaron Sherritt were imprisoned for 6 months for killing a sheep they did not own.
  • Steve Hart convicted of illegal use of a horse, 4 months gaol.
  • Dan charged with stealing a saddle. (The case was heard and dismissed in February 1877.)

1877

  • Ned operated a stock theft racquet, along with his stepfather, George King, and others, including Joe Byrne and Aaron Sherritt, which ran successfully until early 1878.
  • Formation, by Greta district landowners, of the 'Stock Protection Society'. The Society offered rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of stock thieves.
  • (January) Aaron Sherritt fined for 'cruelly torturing a horse'.
  • (February) Joe Byrne and Aaron Sherritt charged with beating a Chinese market gardener who had objected to their swimming in his irrigation dam. Joe found not guilty, Aaron found guilty of 'assault committed in self-defense', both were released.
  • (June) James Kelly arrested and convicted of horse theft, and released in late 1879. (It was this gaol sentence that undoubtedly prevented him from becoming part of the Kelly gang.)
  • (July) Steve Hart arrested and sentenced to 12 months imprisonment for 'illegal use of a horse'.
  • (September) Ned arrested for drunkenness. Afterward he maintained he was not drunk but had been drugged. When four policemen were escorting him to the courthouse, Constable Fitzpatrick attempted to handcuff him and Ned broke free and ran into a boot-maker's shop. There was a scuffle against 5 men, but they were unable to overpower Ned. During the scuffle Constable Lonigan 'black-balled' Ned (grabbed him by his testes), and legend has it that Ned, in pain and anger, yelled out 'If I ever shoot a man, Lonigan, it'll be you!" (By coincidence, Lonigan was one of 3 policemen later shot by Ned at Stringybark Creek). Ned surrendered to a Justice of the Peace named McInnes. He was fined.
  • (October) Dan Kelly tried and imprisoned for 3 months for 'causing willful damage to property' at Winton.

1878 - The Kelly Outbreak

April

  • Fitzpatrick 'Affair'. Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick injured (on the 15th) at the Kelly homestead attempting to arrest Dan Kelly for horse theft without a warrant. (A warrant had been issued and notice published in the Police Gazette).
  • Ned and Dan retreated to bush land in the Wombat Ranges in Victoria and began panning for gold and illegally distilling liquor.
  • Warrants issued for the arrests of Ned, Dan and Ellen Kelly, as well as Bill Skillion and neighbour Brickey Williamson, for 'attempted murder' of police constable Fitzpatrick. Ellen, Skillion and Williamson arrested. £100 reward offered for Ned and Dan.

October

  • Ellen Kelly tried and sentenced by Sir Redmond Barry to 3 years gaol (hard labour) for the attempted murder of Constable Fitzpatrick. Williamson and Skillion were also convicted for aiding and abetting attempted murder and both received sentences of 6 years gaol (hard labour).
  • Stringybark Creek Gunfight. 26th - 'Birth' of the Kelly Gang after the shooting deaths of 3 police officers: Sgt Kennedy, Constables Lonigan and Scanlon. The police party of four was searching for Ned and Dan in the Wombat Ranges to arrest them for the attempted murder of Fitzpatrick. Police Constable McIntyre was the only member of the party to escape physically unharmed. Those involved were Ned and Dan Kelly and their friends, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart.
  • 29th - Government issued notification of a reward of £800 for the arrest and conviction of the 'Kelly gang', (at £200 each).

November

  • Outlawed. Kelly gang members were legally declared 'Outlaws' under the Felons' Apprehension Act of parliament. Reward was increased at this time to £2,000, (at £500 for each offender), and police or civilians could legally shoot the gang members on sight.

December

  • Bank Robbery. The 'Kelly Gang' took hostages at the Faithfull's Creek homestead then successfully robbed the nearby Euroa Bank in north-east Victoria. The gang managed to steal £2,260.
  • 'Cameron' letter posted.
  • Reward published in Government Gazette at £2,500 total.

1879

January

  • Kelly friends and 'sympathisers' arrested and held without charge for up to 3 months under mere 'suspicion' of assisting the gang evade police. This action caused a groundswell of support for the gang and resentment of the government's misuse of power.

February

  • Bank Robbery. 7th-10th - The 'Kelly Gang' held up the town of Jerilderie and robbed the Jerilderie Bank of New South Wales, stealing £2,414. Ned intended to have the 'Jerilderie letter' published at this time, but the local printer escaped. The letter was left in the town for publication but confiscated by police and consequently not published, however some excerpts were printed in Melbourne newspapers.
  • NSW issue reward totaling £4,000, (or £1,000 for each outlaw). The Victorian Government increased its reward to match. With the inclusion of the NSW reward the combined total increased to £8,000.00, (or £2,000.00 per outlaw), which was a large fortune in Victorian times. The gang nevertheless managed to evade capture for 16 more months.

March

  • Letter written by Ned posted to Sir Henry Parkes, Premier of N.S.W.
  • Nothing public was heard from the gang after this time until June the following year.

1880 - Destruction of the 'Kelly Gang'

April

  • 'Notice of Withdrawal of Reward' posted by Government. It stated that after 20th July 1880 the Government would "absolutely cancel and withdraw the offer for the reward".

June

  • 26th - Prorogation of winter parliamentary session resulting in the expiry of the Felons' Apprehension Act 612. Note: The gang's outlaw status is no longer in effect after the prorogation.
    • Double agent Aaron Sherritt shot and killed, near the town of Beechworth, by Joe Byrne, who was accompanied by Dan Kelly. (Aaron was Joe's boyhood friend and trusted by the gang during most of their outlawry, but the gang was eventually convinced he had turned traitor.)
  • Glenrowan Siege 26th - 28th
    26th - 27th Ned and Steve take hostages, hold up the Glenrowan Inn, and instruct that part of the railway line at Glenrowan be torn up, all as part of a plan to engage police in a direct battle, beginning with the intended derailment of the police special train. Joe and Dan arrive in Glenrowan from Beechworth.
  • 28th - Released hostage, Thomas Curnow, forewarned the train driver and the train was halted safely, with no one injured. Escaped hostage, Constable Bracken, directed the newly arrived police to the Glenrowan Inn. The police then stormed the Inn and a gunfight began. The gang wore 'home-made' armour made of farming plough shares for defense against police gunfire. Despite the protective abilities of the armour, Ned and Joe were injured by gunshot in the arms and legs.
    • Joe Byrne - shot and killed during the siege. His body was taken to Benalla and strung up (on the door of the police lock-up) as a curiosity for photographers and spectators. It was later autopsied. (Confirming the cause of death as blood loss from gunshot wound to the femoral artery.) His body was not claimed by his family, and so was buried by police in an unmarked grave in Benalla.
    • Ned captured - Ned was shot and badly injured but escaped the inn, collapsing nearby due to loss of blood. In the dawn light, weak and in pain, still wearing the armour, he returned to the inn and engaged a back line of police in a solitary gunfight. His attempt to rescue his brother Dan and Steve Hart later became known as his famous 'last stand'. Ned was shot in the legs and captured.
      Ned, in critical condition, was held in custody. He had confession with a priest and doctors treated his injuries. Doctor Nicholson took Ned's sash at this time. (The sash survived. It remained in the possession of the Nicholson family until 1973, and is now in the care of the Benalla District Historical Society.) Ned taken to Benalla.
    • The last of the hostages were released.
    • Dan Kelly and Steve Hart - both died inside the inn. Their cause of death undetermined, but presumed to be suicide.
      Unaware of the deaths of the remaining gang members, and wanting to avoid having to storm the inn and risk loss of life, police set fire to the building. Catholic priest, Dean Gibney, bravely entered the burning hotel in an attempt to get the gang to surrender. He reported three dead bodies fitting the descriptions of Joe, Dan and Steve. Unlike Joe's body, which was recovered before destroyed by flames, Steve and Dan's bodies were unable to be extracted and were burned beyond recognition. They were later given to the Kelly and Hart families and buried in Greta cemetery. No autopsies were performed.
  • Armour - All four of the gang's sets of armour were taken into the possession of various members of the police force.
  • 29th - Ned was transferred from the Benalla lock-up to Melbourne Gaol.

July

  • 31st - Ned's arraignment held in Melbourne Gaol kitchen. Constable McIntyre identified Ned as being one of the men involved in the Stringybark Creek shootings. Ned was remanded.

August

  • 7th - 11th - Ned's preliminary hearing held in Beechworth Courthouse. Ned was committed to stand trial for Willful Murder.
  • 12th - Ned transferred again to Melbourne Gaol.

October

  • 28th & 29th - Ned's Trial - Although being charged with a capital crime, Ned's trial (held in the Melbourne Supreme Court) was rushed, taking a mere 2 days. He was convicted of the willful murder of Constable Thomas Lonigan and sentenced to execution by hanging. Ned did not deny the killing, but maintained he shot Lonigan in self-defense. The judge presiding was Sir Redmond Barry. Ned and Judge Barry had their famous verbal clash, ending with Barry declaring the sentence of death on Ned, and Ned responding to the challenge characteristically, saying "I will go a little further than that, and say I will see you there where I go."

November - Ned Kelly hanged

  • Public meeting held at the Hippodrome in Melbourne, seeking that the life of Ned Kelly be spared. Petition for reprieve organised and presented to the Governor. Over 30,000 signatures were collected on the petition.
  • Ned dictated a number of letters addressed to the Governor as a last attempt to tell his own version of events, and also to appeal for the release of his mother and ask that his body be buried in consecrated ground. (Neither request was granted).
  • 10th - At Ned's request, his photographic portrait was taken. He was granted farewell interviews with family members, including Ellen, Jim, Kate and Grace Kelly, and cousins Kate and Tom Lloyd. Ellen's parting words to Ned were reported to be "Mind you die like a Kelly".

 

  • 11th - Ned executed (by hanging) at the Melbourne Gaol, aged 25 years. His death was witnessed by numerous press agents, and his last words were reported variously as "Ah well, I suppose" and "Such is Life". He was said to have died bravely.

 

  • 11th - Evening stage show at the Apollo Theatre involving Kate and Jim Kelly and Ned's ex-girlfriend, Ettie Hart.
  • 23rd - 12 days after Ned's execution, the judge who had sentenced Ned to death himself died of natural causes.

1881

  • Ellen (Kelly) King released from the Melbourne Gaol in February.
  • Royal Commission into the Kelly Outbreak - A large number of witnesses were interviewed and required to testify under oath throughout the extensive enquiry into the reasons for the Kelly outbreak, the actions of the gang, and the police conduct in the period leading up to and during the gang's outlawry. The Commission took 18 months and its findings (released and published in 1881) put many of the police involved in the Kelly hunt in a less than positive 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.

1905

  • First full-length feature film ever produced in the world released. It was about the Kelly gang, entitled 'The Story Of The Kelly Gang'. (No copy is known to have survived intact.)

For more Kelly 'Quick' Facts:

General historical overview and Glossary - CLICK HERE
Personal details and descriptions of the Kelly gang members - CLICK HERE

 

Sources consulted include:
Carroll, Brian 'Ned Kelly Bushranger' Landsdowne Press 1980
Dean, Gary & Balcarek, Dagmar 'Ned and the others' Glen Rowan Cobb & Co.Pty.Ltd. 1995
Jones, G. 'Ned Kelly the larrikin years' Charquin Hill Publishing 1990
Jones, I 'Fatal Friendship' Lothian 2003
Jones, I. 'A Short Life' Lothian 1995, 2003
Kelson, B. & McQuilton, J. University of Queensland Press 2001
Malony, John 'I am Ned Kelly' Penguin Books 1980
McMenomy, Keith 'Ned Kelly The Authentic Illustrated Story' Currey O'Neil Ross Pty Ltd 1984, 2001
McQuilton, John 'The Kelly Outbreak 1878-1880' Melbourne University Press 1987
Meredith, John & Scott, Bill 'Ned Kelly After a Century of Acrimony' Landsdowne Press 1980
Nunn, Wannan & Prior 'A Pictorial History of Bushrangers' Landsdowne Press 1966
Seal, Graham 'Tell em I died game, Legend of Ned Kelly' Hyland House Publishing 2002
Archived Newspapers
The Royal Commission into the Kelly Outbreak 1881
http:// nedonline.imagineering.net.au/main.htm
http://www.prov.vic.gov.au/archivesvictoria/
http://scs.une.edu.au/Bushrangers/nsw.htm
http://www.stfrancismelbourne.org/default.htm

Researched, compiled and written by N. Cowie

 

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