Ned Kelly was a notorious Australian bushranger who lived in the 19th century. Born to impoverished Irish parents, Kelly turned to a life of crime as a teenager, stealing horses and cattle. He eventually joined a gang of bushrangers and became famous for his daring escapes and Robin Hood-like reputation. The Kelly Gang carried out various heists on banks and police stations, culminating in a shootout where Kelly was captured, tried, and sentenced to death by hanging. His legacy remains controversial, with some viewing him as a folk hero and others as a ruthless criminal.
The Legend of the Bushranger: Australia’s Most Infamous Criminal
Australia’s history is rife with tales of criminals, but none perhaps are as famous as the bushrangers. These were men (and sometimes women) who roamed the countryside during the early to mid-19th century, mounting up in groups and terrorizing the local populace. One such bushranger stands out above all the others as Australia’s most infamous criminal. His name is Ned Kelly, and his legend lives on to this day.
Who Was Ned Kelly?
Edward Kelly was born in June of 1855 in Beveridge, Victoria. He was the third of eight children born to his Irish parents. His father, John, had been a convict sent from Ireland to Australia, while his mother, Ellen, had emigrated from the Emerald Isle on her own. Given the circumstances of his upbringing and his family’s poverty, it’s hardly surprising that Ned turned to crime at an early age.
Throughout his teenage years, Kelly was known to steal horses and cattle, and he joined a gang of bushrangers that roamed Victoria in the early 1870s. He became famous for his daring escapes and his Robin Hood-like reputation of only stealing from the wealthy. However, when a police officer was found shot in the leg after a confrontation with one of Kelly’s gang, he was declared an outlaw, and the police were ordered to capture him dead or alive.
The Kelly Gang
In October of 1878, Kelly and his gang donned homemade armor and robbed the National Bank in the town of Jerilderie. This heist, along with subsequent raids on banks and police stations, cemented Kelly’s status as a folk hero. He was eventually captured in June of 1880 after a shootout with police at Glenrowan. Kelly was shot in the legs and severely injured, but his armor saved him from further injury. He was later tried and convicted of murder and sentenced to death by hanging.
Q: What is the legacy of Ned Kelly?
A: Ned Kelly is considered a folk hero by some Australians, while others view him as a ruthless killer. He has been the subject of many songs, books, and movies, and his story continues to fascinate people around the world.
Q: Did Ned Kelly have any accomplices?
A: Yes, Kelly was part of a gang that included his brother Dan, Steve Hart, and Joe Byrne.
Q: Was Ned Kelly’s armor effective?
A: Yes, the armor that Kelly wore during the Glenrowan shootout was effective in preventing serious injury. However, it also slowed him down and made him an easier target for police.
Q: What happened to Ned Kelly’s gang?
A: Kelly’s brother Dan was killed at the shootout at Glenrowan, while Steve Hart and Joe Byrne were also killed or died shortly afterward. Kelly was the only member of the gang to be captured alive.
Ned Kelly is without a doubt one of Australia’s most famous historical figures. His life of crime and his daring escapes from the police made him a legendary figure in his own time, and his story has been the subject of countless books and movies in the years since his death. Whether one views him as a folk hero or a ruthless criminal, there’s no denying that Ned Kelly’s legacy will continue to be a fascinating and controversial topic for generations to come.