Greta Kelly Biography & Facts
Ned Kelly (December 1854 – 11 November 1880) was an Australian bushranger, outlaw, gang leader and convicted police-murderer. One of the last bushrangers, he is known for wearing a suit of bulletproof armour during his final shootout with the police.
Kelly was born in the then-British colony of Victoria as the third of eight children to Irish parents. His father, a transported convict, died shortly after serving a six-month prison sentence, leaving Kelly, then aged 12, as the eldest male of the household. The Kellys were a poor selector family who saw themselves as downtrodden by the Squattocracy and as victims of persecution by the Victoria Police. While a teenager, Kelly was arrested for associating with bushranger Harry Power, and served two prison terms for a variety of offences, the longest stretch being from 1871 to 1874 on a conviction of receiving a stolen horse. He later joined the "Greta mob", a group of bush larrikins known for stock theft. A violent confrontation with a policeman occurred at the Kelly family's home in 1878, and Kelly was indicted for his attempted murder. Fleeing to the bush, Kelly vowed to avenge his mother, who was imprisoned for her role in the incident. After he, his younger brother Dan, and two associates—Joe Byrne and Steve Hart—shot dead three policemen, the Government of Victoria proclaimed them outlaws.
Kelly and his gang eluded the police for two years, thanks in part to the support of an extensive network of sympathisers. The gang's crime spree included raids on Euroa and Jerilderie, and the killing of Aaron Sherritt, a sympathiser turned police informer. In a manifesto letter, Kelly—denouncing the police, the Victorian government and the British Empire—set down his own account of the events leading up to his outlawry. Demanding justice for his family and the rural poor, he threatened dire consequences against those who defied him. In 1880, when Kelly's attempt to derail and ambush a police train failed, he and his gang, dressed in armour fashioned from stolen plough mouldboards, engaged in a final gun battle with the police at Glenrowan. Kelly, the only survivor, was severely wounded by police fire and captured. Despite thousands of supporters attending rallies and signing a petition for his reprieve, Kelly was tried, convicted and sentenced to death by hanging, which was carried out at the Old Melbourne Gaol. His last words were famously reported to have been, "Such is life".
Historian Geoffrey Serle called Kelly and his gang "the last expression of the lawless frontier in what was becoming a highly organised and educated society, the last protest of the mighty bush now tethered with iron rails to Melbourne and the world". In the century after his death, Kelly became a cultural icon, inspiring numerous works in the arts and popular culture, and is the subject of more biographies than any other Australian. Kelly continues to cause division in his homeland: some celebrate him as Australia's equivalent of Robin Hood, while others regard him as a murderous villain undeserving of his folk hero status. Journalist Martin Flanagan wrote: "What makes Ned a legend is not that everyone sees him the same—it's that everyone sees him. Like a bushfire on the horizon casting its red glow into the night."
Family background and early life
Kelly's father, John Kelly (known as "Red"), was born in 1820 at Clonbrogan, near Moyglas, County Tipperary, Ireland. At the age of 21, he was found guilty of stealing two pigs and was transported on the Prince Regent, arriving at Hobart Town, Van Diemen's Land (now the state of Tasmania, Australia) on 2 January 1842. After finishing his sentence in January 1848, Red Kelly moved to Victoria and found work at James Quinn's farm at Wallan Wallan as a bush carpenter.On 18 November 1850, Red Kelly married Ellen Quinn, his employer's 18-year-old daughter, at St Francis Church, Father Gerard Ward officiating. The couple subsequently turned their attention to gold-digging, and earned enough to buy a small freehold in Beveridge, just north of Melbourne.Edward ("Ned") Kelly was his parents' third child. The exact date of his birth is not known, but was probably in December 1854. Ned Kelly was possibly baptised by an Augustinian priest, Charles O'Hea, who also administered last rites to Kelly before his execution. Red and Ellen had seven other children: Mary Jane (born 1851, died as an infant aged 6 months), Annie (later Annie Gunn) (1853-1872), Margaret (later Margaret Skillion) (1857-1896), James ("Jim", 1859-1946), Daniel ("Dan", 1861-1880), Catherine ("Kate", later Kate Foster) (1863-1898) and Grace (later Grace Griffiths) (1865-1940).Ned made his first court appearance at Beveridge, giving evidence, age eight, in favour of his uncle, Jim Kelly, who was convicted of stealing cattle. The family did not prosper at Beveridge and Red began drinking heavily.In 1864, the family moved to Avenel, near Seymour, where they soon attracted the attention of local police. As a boy Kelly obtained basic schooling and became familiar with the bush. In Avenel he risked his life to save another boy from drowning in Hughes Creek; the boy's family gave him a green sash, which he wore under his armour during his final showdown with police in 1880.In 1865, Red was convicted in relation to the theft of a calf and sentenced to a fine of ₤25 or six months' hard labour. Although the family could not afford to pay the fine, there is no record of him being transferred to Kilmore Gaol. In December 1866 Red was fined for being drunk and disorderly. Badly affected by alcoholism, he died at Avenel on 27 December 1866.The following year, the Kellys moved to Greta in north-eastern Victoria, near the Quinns and their relatives by marriage the Lloyds. In 1868 Ned's uncle Jim Kelly was convicted of arson after setting fire to the rented premises where the Kellys and some of the Lloyds were staying. Jim Kelly was sentenced to death, but this was later commuted to 15 years of hard labour.The family soon took up a small farm of 88 acres (360,000 m2) at Eleven Mile Creek near Greta. (The farm was leased from the government under the Land Act, giving the family an option to buy once the land was successfully cleared and cultivated and other conditions met. This type of farm was known as a "selection" and those leasing it "selectors".) The Kelly selection was probably unsuitable for successful farming, and Ellen supplemented her income by offering accommodation to travellers and illegally selling alcohol.
Rise to notoriety
Bushranging with Harry Power
In 1869, aged fourteen, Kelly met Irish-born Harry Power (alias of Henry Johnson), a transported convict who turned to bushranging in north-eastern Victoria after escaping Melbourne's Pentridge Prison. The Kellys formed part of his network of sympathisers, and by May 1869 Ned had become his bushranging protégé. At the end of the month, they attempted to steal horses from the Mansfield p.... Discover the Greta Kelly popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Greta Kelly books.