Ned Kelly – An Australian Legend

By | August 31, 2019

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Ned Kelly at Bay. Edward "Ned" Kelly (June 1854 to 11 November 1880) was an Australian bushranger of Irish descent. The Graphic, 1880. Source: (gettyimages-506282709-170667a)

His legacy is controversial; some consider him to be a murderous villain, while others view him as a folk hero and Australia's equivalent of Robin Hood.

Edward Kelly or “Ned” as he was called was a bushranger who was born in 1855 in Beveridge, Victoria, Australia. He was the third son of his father John “Red” Kelly who had been sent to prison for stealing pigs in Ireland back in 1842. There were two groups of people in Australia back then, the squatters and the selectors.

Ned’s family was a selector family which meant they had land given to them from the Crown, which is why they went to Australia. Unfortunately, by the time the Kellys got there, which was around 1850, the squatters had beaten them to it.

Ned’s father was a constant target by police because of his police record. In 1866, he was again arrested and had to do hard labor for having the hide of a bull, which was apparently illegal. Once he was released, he did not last very long after that because he drank himself to death.

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Mugshot of Ned Kelly at age 15. Source: (

After his father’s death, Ned became the one in charge of taking care of the family. Before long, just like other members of his family on both his mother’s side and his father's, he got into criminal activity. His uncles and his father were cattle rustlers and thieves. He got involved with Harry Power, a known outlaw who showed him the ropes until they both got arrested. Getting arrested, however, did not slow him down. As soon as he got out, he was back at it and his brother even joined him. They had to go on the run because the police were after them and his brother ended up shooting an officer who had come to their house looking for them. The two of them were able to elude the officers so they were unable to find them. In fact, Ned shot an officer as well after having ambushed three officers that were searching for them in the forest. As the pursuit continued, they took another officer hostage and killed two more. The one they had as a hostage managed to escape by taking one of the horses of his fellow officers.