Ned Kelly
Updated April 12, 2004

Ned Kelly This section focuses on the most disputed events in the Kelly story. Much oral history is involved which may possibly be accurate - yet elements of the widely 'accepted history' cannot be substantiated. Here we sort fact from fable.

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There are two versions to every story. With the 'Kelly' story however, there are even more versions. But they cannot all be true - so which is right and which is wrong? Is there a point where fiction or half-truths become fact? If so, then which are the 'true' facts? This is History in Dispute. Almost the entire Kelly saga is in dispute one way or another. Now we work our way through the maze of conflicting stories in search of the truth...
The most disputed events in Kelly history. Following is an outline of sections this site has or will be presenting in detail, in the hope of sparking further academic debate:-

Armour | Outlaws | Ned Married? | Stringybark Creek
Did Dan and Steve escape? | Who was hanged? | Ned's grave

Ned's Birth date (& Baptism)

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While there is no disputing that Ned Kelly was born, there is no official record of when and where the event occurred. It was most likely somewhere between the end of 1854 and mid 1855 near Beveridge Victoria, Ned believed he was born mid 1855. Unlike his siblings, there is also no record of Ned's Catholic baptism. Subsequently how old Ned actually was when various events occurred, and even at the time of his death are currently unknown. Bailup claims no definite time of birth as none can be substantiated. However using the methods of the historian, Bailup will look at what can verified and have narrowed the event down to the most plausible time frame, date and place.

Ned & Harry Power

The significance and nature of the relationship between Ned and the infamous Bush Ranger Harry Power has been the subject of much speculation by various Kelly authors. Bailup will take a closer look at the significance of the events surrounding Ned's relationship with Harry. Information regarding Harry can be foundin TIME LINE


The Kelly convictions are a matter of public record. Bailup researchers concentrate on the legality of these convictions under the law of the time. Also looking at the sentences he received Bailup will examine the idea that Ned was a victim of discrimination. Convictions are listed in TIME LINE

The Fitzpatrick Incident

This is the pivotal event that, in the view of the authorities of 1878, turned Ned from a 'petty criminal' into a 'dangerous' one! In contrast Ned claimed it was this incident and the 'falsehood' told by Const. Alexander Fitzpatrick that resulted in the Kelly outbreak. Once a 'friend' to Ned, it was Fitzpatrick's version of an incident in the Kelly's house, which resulted in Dan and Ned Kelly being on the run from the law, and their mother Ellen and two other men being imprisoned. Ned Kelly swore that Fitzpatrick was a liar and was convinced that if he could publicly voice his version of events, then his mother would be shown to be innocent, and cleared of any wrong doing. Bailup looks at some of the varying stories about the incident, and examines whether Ned himself was lying about what occurred? Bailup will try to clarify the fact from the fiction and present a number of possible scenarios of what might have happened. (Including examining Fitzpatrick's character).

Stringybark Creek

The tragic events of October 1878 at Stringybark Creek have divided 'Kelly historians' for generations. Bailup will lay bare the evidence of the day, and compare it to various reports of the incident. Then examines most of the disputed facts of Stringybark and one or two possible alternatives.
For an examination of the police's role in the events at Stringybark by Marian Matta - Click Here

Outlaws >>More Detail>>

To be declared an outlaw is to be treated 'outside the law' and thus beyond its protection. An outlaw's life was forfeited, and they could be shot on sight without even a call for surrender. Any citizen who apprehended, or killed the outlaw was protected against being prosecuted for the manner of apprehension, and did not even need to be certain the outlaw was armed in order to gun them down.
With such extreme provisions was the Government justified in outlawing the Kelly gang when they did? How were the Kelly's declared outlaws? Is the Felons' Apprehension Act the same as the Outlawry Act? How did such an Act of Parliament operate? What effect did being made outlaws have on the gang? Were the gang outlaws at the time of the Glenrowan siege?


The Police have been widely criticised by a number of Kelly authors. Bailup will look at the resources they had at their disposal and how they utilised them. Were the police incompetent, or just out-classed by the gang? Why did Ned hate the "traps" so vehemently?

Police Harassment

One of the elements of the Kelly story to gain much momentum over the years has been the status of the Kelly's as unwarranted targets of police harassment. Bailup will examine the popular idea that Ned was given no choice by the police, but to live the life of a criminal.

Aaron Sherritt

Was Aaron Sherritt a spy for the gang or for the police? Was he both? If Aaron was a double agent then why did Supt.Hare trust Aaron so explicitly? Did Aaron deserve to die at the hands of the gang, and who gave the order to kill him? Was Ned really unaware of Joe Byrne's plan to murder Aaron? (For a review of the book about Aaron and Joe 'The Fatal Freindship' - click HERE)

What was Joe Byrne really like?

Joe Byrne was considered by Ned as a trustworthy, reliable and loved best friend. Ned referred to Joe as "as cool and firm as steel". So why then do some modern researchers not agree with Ned when he knew Joe intimately? Ned trusted Joe utterly and there is no evidence that Ned was mistaken about his friend, yet the slander against Joe persists. Bailup will examine why…
(Detailed information about Joe Byrne can be found at )

Ned Married >>More Detail>>

Rumours that Ned Kelly had a wife, or at least a fiancé, began to surface during his lifetime, and have continued on and off to the present day. Unfortunately no defining evidence has yet been produced to prove either claim. The names of many women have been linked with Ned's over the years, some more likely than others, yet there is no evidence that historians can treat as fact. Despite this - is it nonetheless possible that Ned may indeed have married? If not, was Ned ever in love with one or more of the women his name was linked to? How serious was his relationship with Ettie Hart? Is there any evidence that Ned was inlove with his young cousin Kate Lloyd as claimed by one historian? Was he married in gaol? Alternatively, could it be possible that Ned was homosexual?

Armour >>More Detail>>

Who made the armour? Where, when and how? Who thought it up and who designed it? Was the armour a success? What makes the Kelly armour such a lasting Australian Icon? We follow the history of the amour from its conceptualisation to the present day. Including recent scientific tests on the metal used to make Joe Byrne's armour.

Sympathisers and 'The Republic'

Was there really a plan for such thing as 'The Republic of the North-East of Victoria'? Is there any evidence of a secret document? If so, who was involved and why was there no further uprisings after Glenrowan?

Cameron & Jerilderie Letters

What was the intention of the Cameron and Jerilderie letters? They were penned by Joe Byrne, but the voice of Ned Kelly. Were they simply dictation from Ned, or a composite effort from Ned, Joe and possibly others? (A copy and transcript of the Jerilderie letter can be found at the Victorian State Library website )

Glenrowan & Ned's 'Last Stand'

What happened at Glenrowan? What were the gang's real plans? Were they aborted or did they simply fail? Why is this incident the one that made Ned famous and still to this day fascinates Australians? (Detailed information on the Siege of Glenrowan can be found at )

Ned's Trial

The events at Stringybark Creek were the subject of the trial that led to Ned Kelly being sentenced to death. Ned was accused and convicted of the willful murder of Const. Lonigan. Ned claimed he shot him in self-defense - but did not get the chance to present his version at trial. Many within the current legal fraternity believe that, even by the standards of the day, Ned did not receive a fair trial. But was he guilty nonetheless?

Dan & Steve's Escape

This is the mother of all 'disputed history' in the Kelly story. Most Kelly experts do not even think this question worth asking. Yet the claims that Dan and Steve survived Glenrowan and escaped keep resurfacing, why? (For more on the debate click HERE)

Did Dan take Ned's place in the noose? >>More Detail>>

The answer to this theory is a simple one - no he did not. Ned died by hanging in November 1880. Yet this theory remains part of the Kelly mythology. Some people suspect it is the reason behind Mrs Kelly's apparently odd words to her son before he was hanged, 'Mind you die like a Kelly'. If it were not, then what did she mean?

Ned's grave?>>More Detail>>

What has happened to Ned's skull and where is his body currently buried? An individual claims to have the skull in his possession. He says he is "quietly confident" that it is genuine - but so far won't give it up for DNA testing for verification. Bailup examines what the probability is that the skull Mr. Baxter has is actually Ned's. If it is not - then where is Ned's skull?

1881 Royal Commission

Was the Royal Commission the year after Ned's death an objective investigation of the events of the Kelly Outbreak, or was it merely a witch-hunt to make scapegoats of the police? What were the results of the findings? Were the commission's findings accurate and conclusive?

Distinguishing Fact from Theory >>More Detail>>

The work of the historian involves sorting through all available information about an event or specific period of history, and determining what is provable truth and what is conjecture. This section includes a detailed glossary of frequently used terms essential to any historical study, (such as; Evidence, Fact, Primary Sources, and Conclusions etc.)

Understanding Memory and Oral History >>More Detail>>

The prevalent Kelly story relies to a large degree on oral history. Oral history should not be discounted simply due to its being unable to be substantiated. It has value, but should be presented in context, rather than as 'fact'. Oral history can be influenced by any number of factors, the most significant of which would be personal perception, and errors in memory process.

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