The Australian outlaw Ned Kelly was arrested following a violent shoot-out with police at Glenrowan in Victoria.

Edward ‘Ned’ Kelly’s father, John ‘Red’ Kelly had arrived in Australia after serving a sentence in Van Diemen’s land for stealing two pigs in his hometown in Ireland. He later married and started a family but was sentenced to hard labour for cattle theft, after which he unexpectedly died. His eldest son, Ned, soon found himself in trouble with the law for assisting the bushranger Harry Power in a number of robberies. He was later sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for stealing horses.

In April 1878, Kelly allegedly shot police constable Alexander Fitzpatrick. Ned and his brother Dan fled into the bush and a reward of £100 was offered for their capture. In October three policemen who had located the brothers and their associates, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart, were shot and killed. The government soon declared the gang outlaws, but they evaded capture and turned to robbing banks.

On the night of 26 June 1880 the Kelly Gang killed a police informant, and then rode to the town of Glenrowan where they held dozens of hostages in the town’s hotel. A police train was alerted to the situation, and the hotel was soon surrounded. The gang engaged in a raging gunfight, wearing homemade metal armour. The hostages were later freed and, with only the gang members left inside the hotel, it was set on fire.

Steve Hart, Joseph Byrne and Dan Kelly were killed, but Ned survived the night and emerged from the bush to make one final stand the next morning. He was soon shot in his unprotected legs and arrested. Found guilty of two of the police murders, he was sentenced to death and executed by hanging on 11 November 1880.

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© Scott Allsop