Ned Kelly: Australian Outlaw or Hero?

Ned Kelly: 

                   Ned Kelly


Basic Information is taken from Kids.Net.Au to make the blog suitable for children.

For non-Australian students, I have added maps and extra information.  

Introduction to Ned Kelly:

Edward “Ned” Kelly’s actual date of birth is unknown, but he was born between 1854-1855 in Australia.  He died on November 11, 1880.

Some people call him a criminal and that he deserved to be hung on November 11, 1880.


Other people saw him as a hero who fought against the injustices of his day. They state that the police were out to get the Kelly family and that a policeman named Fitzpatrick may have wrongly accused Ned of injuring him.

Australia At That Time in History 

At the time that Ned Kelly lived, Australia was a land (colony) ruled by Great Britain.  Ned’s father (like so many others) had been sent to Australia as convicts.  In Ireland there was a famine that started in 1847 and many people were hungry and starving to death.  Ned’s father was caught stealing pigs and was sent to Australia as a prison sentence.  It was natural for people like Ned’s father to hate the English.  They had allowed Irish people to starve to death.  Not only were Irish sent to Australia for petty (little) crimes, but so were the people of Scotland, Wales and England.  Many people think that Great Britain wanted to bring people to Australia and this was a good way to do it.

Ned’s Early Life

Ned was born in the state of Victoria.  See map.

As a boy he attended school and risked his life to save another boy who was drowning. As a reward he was given a sash, which he would wear under his armour during his final show down with police.

The Death of Ned’s Dad

Ned’s father died when Ned was only 12, and he was forced to leave school to help take care of his family. It was at this time that the Kelly family moved to the Glenrowan area of Victoria, which to this day is known as Kelly Country.

Ned grew up in poverty in some of the harshest conditions in Australia, and folk tales tell of his sleeping on the ground in the bush during the winter

Ned The Teenager

In 1869, when he was 14, Ned was arrested for assaulting a Chinese pig farmer named Ah Fook.  He was found not guilty.  He was also charged with being in the gang of a criminal named Harry Power, but again he was found not guilty.

Perhaps, at this time, young Ned was feeling angry against the police. He had been accused twice when he was innocent.  The next year in 1870 he was arrested again for assault (fighting) and was sentenced to six months of hard labour. (Hard labour would be working in the sun and it would be hard on the body of a person).  Was he guilty or innocent?  Did the two times he was not accused upset the authorities.?

Arrested Again.

Three weeks after his release, he was arrested again for being in possession of a stolen horse. This time he was sentenced to three years of hard labour.


Policeman Attacks Ned’s Sister

The Kelly family were being watched by the police.  Ned’s older brother was arrested for stealing cattle.

A constable (Police man) named Fitzpatrick, visited the Kelly farm.  He  accused Ned Kelly of injuring him.  There is no evidence that Ned was actually at the farm.  Fitzpatrick has been called a worthless and unreliable person. So did he lie about Ned?  The police authorities believed Fitzpatrick and issued a warrant to arrest Ned for attempted murder.  Then, the police accused his mother of supporting and helping Ned and she was sent to jail for two years.

Ned may have felt that the police were against him and his family.  His father was dead and his mother was in jail.  Life did not seem fair to Ned.  He had to run for his life.  If caught, Ned would serve a long prison sentence or might possibly be hung.  He had nothing to loose.

Ned on the Run

Ned and his outlaw friends were discovered by police.  Three of the policemen were killed.  Now, it became a matter of hanging Ned and the others.  However, they escaped.   Now, Ned was a wanted man throughout Australia.

The police would not stop until he was brought to justice.

Nothing to Lose

Ned Kelly and his gang had now killed police officers.  He knew that he and his men were going to hang. Sometime in his life, Ned had noticed armour worn by German soldiers and armour in a Chinese parade.  To protect himself against being shot by the police, Ned decided to make armour for themselves.  To make the armour, Ned needed money.  To get the money, Ned and his men robbed two banks.  He was only 20 years of age.