1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kelly, Edward

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

KELLY, EDWARD (1854–1880), Australian bushranger, was born at Wallan Wallan, Victoria. His father was a transported Belfast convict, and his mother’s family included several thieves. As boys he and his brothers were constantly in trouble for horse-stealing, and “Ned” served three years’ imprisonment for this offence. In April 1878, an attempt was made to arrest his brother Daniel on a similar charge. The whole Kelly family resisted this and Ned wounded one of the constables. Mrs Kelly and some of the others were captured, but Ned and Daniel escaped to the hills, where they were joined by two other desperadoes, Byrne and Hart. For two years, despite a reward of £8000 offered jointly by the governments of Victoria and New South Wales for their arrest, the gang under the leadership of Kelly terrorized the country on the borderland of Victoria and New South Wales, “holding up” towns and plundering banks. Their intimate knowledge of the district, full of convenient hiding-places, and their elaborate system of well-paid spies, ensured the direct pecuniary interest of many persons and contributed to their long immunity from capture. They never ill-treated a woman, nor preyed upon the poor, thus surrounding themselves with an attractive atmosphere of romance. In June 1880, however, they were at last tracked to a wooden shanty at Glenrowan, near Benalla, which the police surrounded, riddled with bullets, and finally set on fire. Kelly himself, who was outside, could, he claimed, easily have escaped had he not refused to desert his companions, all of whom were killed. He was severely wounded, captured and taken to Beechworth, where he was tried, convicted and hanged in October 1880. The total cost of the capture of the Kelly gang was reckoned at £115,000.

See F. A. Hare, The Last of the Bushrangers (London, 1892).