Ned Kelly and his life.

Essay by gerbal_29 May 2003

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(1854 - 1880)

On a cold June morning, more than 100 years ago a bushranger called Ned Kelly fought his final battle.

He was an outlaw who rode a horse, put on a suit of armour and fought police. Today, Ned Kelly is an Australia legend.

Ned, the eldest of eight children, was born to Irish parents in Victoria in 1854.

He was just twelve years of age when his ex-convict father died and his family settled near relatives at Greta, two hundred and forty kilometres northeast of Melbourne.

In Ned's time it was wild, rugged country and life was hard.

The best land was held by a handful of wealthy so called squatters.

But Ned's family was poor and the only opportunity they had to own land was as 'selectors'.

Under the selection system families took up areas of land set aside by the government and paid them off bit by bit.

As part of the scheme they also had to improve the property by clearing it, building a house, putting up fences and growing a crop. If they didn't the land could be taken away.

For many it was an impossible situation with the plots of land too small, and the soil too poor for them to make a living.

Faced with poverty, selectors often stole horses and cattle from the wealthy squatters.

Ned was just aged sixteen, when he was convicted of receiving a stolen horse and served three years in gaol before being released in 1874.

Whether or not he was set for a life of crime is hard to say, but one event had a dramatic effect on determining his future.

In April 1878, a police officer called Fitzpatrick accused Ned's mother of attacking him and Ned of shooting him in the wrist.