Ned Kelly

25

Edward (Ned) Kelly was born in Victoria in 1854 to Irish parents and at the age of 12 the family of ten moved to Greta a small town North-East of Melbourne. Ned was just 16 when he was convicted of receiving a stolen horse and served three years in gaol before being released in 1874. Whether or not he was set for a life of crime is hard to say, but one event had a dramatic effect on determining his future and that was in April 1878 a police officer called Fitzpatrick accused Ned’s mother of attacking him and Ned of shooting him in the wrist. But whatever actually happened, the end result of Fitzpatrick’s claims was that Mrs. Kelly was sent to prison for three years and a 100 pound reward was offered for the capture of Ned. From that time on Ned and his brother Dan kept to the bush. On the 26th October 1878, together with friends, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart, they came across police camped at Stringy Bark Creek. Ned believed the police intended to kill him and Dan so he called on them to surrender. But three of the officers resisted, and in the fight which followed, Kelly shot them dead.

The reward for Kelly and his gang rose to two thousand pounds and would later rise to an amazing eight thousand pounds, the equivalent, today, of nearly two millions dollars. In June 1880 Ned made his last stand at the Glenrowan Hotel when they were surrounded by police. Prepared to fight, the four bushrangers wore suits of armour made from steel. During the battle, Ned escaped through the police lines. But rather than fleeing into the bush, he returned a number of times to fight police. He was trying to rescue his brother and friends. Eventually, he collapsed with more than 28 bullet wounds to his arms, legs, feet, groin and hands. After Ned recovered he was convicted of the murder of one of the police officers at Stringy Bark, and despite protests by thousands of supporters, was sentenced to death.

At the age of just 25 on the 11th November 1880 Ned Kelly was hanged in the Melbourne Gaol but he has grown to be an admired if infamous figure for the way he stood up to authority and his larrikin ways.