Ned Kelly was a notorious Australian bushranger known for his criminal activities, including bank robberies and the murder of a police officer. Born to Irish convict parents, Kelly became involved in crime as a young man and formed a gang with his brothers and friends. The gang became infamous, and their last stand came at Glenrowan, where Kelly was severely injured and captured. He was famously sentenced to death by hanging and remains a controversial figure, with some viewing him as a folk hero fighting against an oppressive system and others seeing him as a violent criminal. Despite this, Kelly remains celebrated in Australian folklore as a symbol of defiance and resistance.
The Infamous Bushranger, Ned Kelly: A Tale of Heroism or Villainy?
When it comes to Australian folk heroes, few are as contested as Ned Kelly. The bushranger, born in Victoria, has been celebrated as a symbol of resistance against oppression and tyranny, but also condemned as a violent criminal responsible for many deaths. In this article, we will explore the life of Ned Kelly, his criminal activities, and his legacy, to answer the question: was he a hero or a villain?
Who was Ned Kelly?
Ned Kelly was born in 1855 in Beveridge, a small town north of Melbourne. He had Irish parents, both of whom had been transported to Australia as convicts. Growing up in poverty, he became involved in a number of crimes as a young man, including horse stealing and bank robbery. He was arrested and imprisoned several times, with his longest stint being three years in Pentridge Prison.
The Kelly Gang
After his release from prison, Kelly formed a gang with his brothers and some friends, and embarked on a series of armed robberies across Victoria, targeting banks and police stations. Kelly and his gang became infamous, with the Victorian government offering a £8,000 reward for their capture.
The Siege of Glenrowan
The Kelly Gang’s last stand came at Glenrowan in 1880. Kelly had devised a plan to derail a police train and ambush the officers who would come to investigate. The plot failed, and the police surrounded the railway station where the gang was holed up. After a 12-hour siege, the police set fire to the building in which the gang was hiding. Kelly, dressed in his famous homemade armor, was the only one to survive the blaze, but he was severely injured and captured.
The Trial and Execution
Ned Kelly was brought to trial in October 1880 and was found guilty of murder in the death of a police officer during a shootout with the gang. He was sentenced to death by hanging, which was carried out on 11 November that year.
Hero or Villain?
The legacy of Ned Kelly has been fiercely debated since his death. Some argue that he was a folk hero fighting against an oppressive government and police force, and that his actions represent a long tradition of resistance against colonialism and injustice. Others view him as a violent criminal responsible for many deaths, whose legacy has been romanticized and distorted over time.
The truth, as is often the case, lies somewhere in between. Kelly did come from a background of poverty and oppression, and his criminal activities were often motivated by a desire to fight back against a system that he saw as unjust. However, his methods were often violent and indiscriminate, and his actions resulted in the deaths of several people. He was not a saint, but neither was he a monster.
The Legacy of Ned Kelly
Despite the controversy surrounding his legacy, Ned Kelly remains a celebrated figure in Australian folklore. His image has become a symbol of defiance and resistance, and his story has been retold in countless books, films, and songs. The Kelly Gang’s armor is on display at the Victoria Police Museum, and there are several statues and memorials dedicated to him across Australia.
What was Ned Kelly famous for?
Ned Kelly was a notorious Australian bushranger, famous for his criminal activities, including bank robberies and the murder of a police officer.
Why is Ned Kelly a controversial figure?
Ned Kelly is controversial because his criminal activities are often seen as acts of resistance against an oppressive government and police force, but also resulted in the deaths of several people. His legacy has been romanticized and distorted over time, making it difficult to say whether he was a hero or a villain.
What happened to Ned Kelly?
Ned Kelly was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death by hanging for the murder of a police officer. He was executed on 11 November 1880.
What is Ned Kelly’s legacy?
Ned Kelly is celebrated as a folk hero and a symbol of resistance against oppression and tyranny. His image has become iconic in Australian popular culture, and his story has been retold in books, films, and songs.