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How Did Ned Kelly Become Famous?

Updated on April 16, 2016

How Old Was Ned Kelly When He Died? 25yrs. Born 1855, Died 1880

Ned Kelly aged approximately 25 years.
Ned Kelly aged approximately 25 years. | Source

Ned Kelly


Ned Kelly was one of the most infamous Bush Rangers in Australian history. Some believed him to be a battler who stood up for his family and his rights and helped the downtrodden, whilst others believed him to be nothing but a horse thief, a liar, a murderer and a criminal.

Being from Irish stock, Ned Kelly and his family tended to regard the Police as an extension of British oppression which was common to them in their homeland. They naturally rebelled.

In the 1800's when the population included many ex convicts and their families, people were actually admired if they 'cocked a snook' at authority. See photo below for 'cock a snook' explanation. These days it is probably better known as 'thumbing your nose at authority'.

Ned Kelly at Euroa, Victoria

I used to visit my grandparents fairly regularly in Euroa, 90 miles North of Melbourne, Victoria (where Ned Kelly robbed the National Bank), and I remember asking my grandfather to tell me about the larger than life bushranger that everyone seemed to know about, but all my grandfather would ever say was that Mr Kelly was not a very nice man.

My grandfather would also tell me that if you don't have anything nice to say about someone, you shouldn't say anything at all. I guess my grandfather just wanted to protect me from the harsher side of life.

Whether you regard him as a folk hero or a criminal, over the years Ned Kelly has achieved folk hero status.

How Much Did Ned Kelly Armour Weigh

Ned Kelly's armour, including his helmet, weighs about 44kgs. It is located in the State Library of Victoria.

Cock A Snook = Thumbing Your Nose At Authority

This is what it looks like when you 'Cock a Snook' Better known these days as 'Thumbing your nose at authority'
This is what it looks like when you 'Cock a Snook' Better known these days as 'Thumbing your nose at authority'

Family History

About Ned Kelly's Family

Ned Kelly's father was John 'Red' Kelly (who was born Sean Ceallaigh) in Ireland in 1820 and transported to Australia (then known as Van Dieman's Land) as a convict for the crime of theft. His sentence was for 7 years jail and he was freed in January 1848 after serving his sentence.

His mother was Ellen Quinn who was born in 1832. She was the daughter of John Quinn who was a free Irish Immigrant farmer and she married John Kelly on 18 November 1850.

Ellen and John, Ned Kelly's parents, were married on 18 November 1850.

Ned was born in Beveridge, Victoria in June 1855. He had five sisters and two brothers. There were also two other children who passed away shortly after birth. The last brother to pass away was James who died in 1946.

Ned attended 3 schools as a child in Victoria.

  • Beveridge Catholic School 1860 - 1864
  • Avenel Common School 1864 -1866
  • Greta Common School 1867 - 1868

Ned Kelly's father passed away on 27 December 1866 aged 46. During his life he was a carpenter, farmer and woodranger.

How Ned Kelly Died

About Ned Kelly The Bushranger

Ned Kelly's criminal career began in 1869 and continued to his death in 1880.

1869 - remanded for assaulting a man (the charge was dismissed)

May of 1870 - he was arrested by Benalla Police and charged on two counts of highway robbery

November 1870 - found guilty of assault and indecent behaviour and sentenced to 6 mths hard labour

August 1871 - sentenced to 3 yrs jail for stealing horses

1877 - fined for drunken behaviour, resisting arrest, damaging Police uniforms

March 1878 - warrant issued for arrest on charges of stealing horses

October 1878 - three Policemen killed by Kelly Gang at Stringbark Creek

December 1878 - Kelly Gang hold up the National Bank at Euroa

February 1879 - Kelly Gang hold up Police at Jerilderie, steal uniforms and rob the bank

June 1880 - Kelly Gang assembles at Glenrowan and forces railway workers to tear up the rail line which is bringing Police reinforcements from Melbourne. Police kill 3 Gang members and shoot down and capture Ned Kelly in the gun battle.

October 1880 - Ned Kelly found guilty and sentenced to death for one of the Stringybark Creek murders.

How Ned Kelly Died

Ned Kelly was subsequently hanged on 11 November 1880, aged just 25.

His famous last words were: 'Such is life'

The photo below shows the most complete suit of armour out of the 4 suits that were made by the Kelly Gang. It is on show at the State Library of Victoria. The suit was reconstructed using parts identified from early photos.

It is believed that the suits of armour were made from metal originating from Mouldboard ploughs in a make shift bush forge using Stringybark logs as a heat source. This theory was first thought impossible, and was dismissed in favour of a mystery blacksmith accomplice.

However in recent years, research done in Sydney at the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor proves that the metal had been heated to only around 700 degrees Celcius which was consistent with heating over a bush forge. The Kelly Gang had indeed made their own armour at their bush camp.

Ned Kellys Armour from the battle at Glenrowan
Ned Kellys Armour from the battle at Glenrowan

The site of the battle of Glenrowan, Victoria.

Please leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you.

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    • aboutaustralia profile image

      aboutaustralia 6 years ago from Newcastle, New South Wales

      Thanks femme, glad you enjoyed the read.

      Australia has adopted some weird and wonderful expressions over the years. I'll do a bit of research and see what others I can come up with that might be of interest :)

      Thanks for your comment, great to hear from you :)

    • profile image

      femmeflashpoint 6 years ago

      So THAT'S where the thumbing-the-nose sign came from!

      I'm feeling all enlightened, lol! This was a wonderful read. I love historical accounts, and you did a great job on this one!


    • aboutaustralia profile image

      aboutaustralia 6 years ago from Newcastle, New South Wales

      HI Lisa! Great to catch up on hubpages! Thanks for sharing with the boys, I hope they like it! You will all have to call in at Glenrowan on your way through Victoria, I'm sure the boys would love seeing the history of Ned Kelly first hand. Safe travels, Sharon T

    • profile image

      Lisa Wood 6 years ago

      Oh we love following Ned Kelly story - I am bookmarking this one to read to my boys tomorrow!!



    • aboutaustralia profile image

      aboutaustralia 6 years ago from Newcastle, New South Wales

      Hi susan, thanks, you are very kind! Ned certainly was a wild one, I just wish my grandfather could have told me more about him as I love all kinds of history. Thanks for your comment and vote, it's very much appreciated. Hope you're having a great day, Sharon.

    • susan54 profile image

      susan54 6 years ago

      aboutaustralia,VOTE UP!I am learning so much from you. Ned was a wild one. You are such a talented writer,great may I say. Thanks