It so happened that the bright and brutal criminals with time (and even in life) waiting for the process of romanticization. In tales and legends, their true actions give way to a fictional, more “convenient” one. Win-win is to take care of the poor and oppressed. But if, for example, Rob Roy and Dick Turpin in legends and realities are completely different people, the situation with the Australian bushranger is not that simple.
“Australian Robin Hood,” as he is called in his homeland, truly took care of his compatriots in need. That's just the blood of the police officers who performed their work, he also shed is not figuratively.
The main misfortune of Australia at that time can be considered its own population. And this is not surprising, since the British used the continent exclusively as a place of exile for convicts. Accordingly, over time, the company there has chosen not particularly frightened by both the laws and representatives of law enforcement agencies. These people are accustomed to the fact that the goal can always be achieved, no matter how. The robbers (in Australia, they were called bushrangers) became a special stratum of society for the green continent. They hated power, but the poor adored. After all, the gangsters did their work, hiding behind the slogans of the struggle against the colonial regime. They robbed people (and not always, by the way, only the rich), raided banks, stole livestock for resale. In general, they behaved in approximately the same way as their “colleagues” from the Wild West. And since the police in Australia at that time did not differ in mighty force (and even that was concentrated mainly in large population centers), gangs of bushrangers took control of vast territories outside the cities.
The problem was complicated by the fact that the children and grandchildren of the first settlers began to consider Australia not penal servitude (which it was for their grandfathers or fathers), but their native land. Therefore, the punitive approach of the colonial authorities seemed unacceptable to them. In addition, there was a large group of Irish people on the green continent. And this only exacerbated the conflict with the British. Among the common people, leading an honest lifestyle, Bushrunners enjoyed great popularity. After all, fighters for justice.
In addition, in the middle of the 19-th century, Australia picked up the "gold rush". The population of the continent began to increase rapidly due to adventurers and adventurers. At the same time, the central government was weak. She could not do anything with the increasing number of criminals, who turned farmers from gold farmers into gold-minted robbers.
In such a difficult and stressful time came the Irishman Edward Kelly, who was nicknamed Ned. The exact date of his birth is unknown. According to the official version - at the beginning of June 1855. But there is a version that in December 1854. His family can be classified as disadvantaged. Ned's father, John, went to Australia just like most of his compatriots: the Irish were convicted for several years of hard labor for stealing pigs and were sent from Britain to Van Diemen Land (modern Tasmania).
Freed, John moved to the continent. He got married and tried to earn a living by honest labor: he took up farming. But to feed his wife and eight children was not easy. Therefore, every now and then John was thinking of returning to his usual occupation — the hijacking of livestock. And after some time, the Kelly family acquired a bad reputation. John and his sons periodically stole animals, interrupted the stigma and resold.
In 1866, the head of the family was accused of stealing a calf. And although there was no reliable evidence, reputation played a role. John was sentenced to pay a fine of 25 pounds. Kelly did not have that kind of money, so they put him in jail. There John died.
This event made a stunning impression on Ned. For the first time, he was confronted with the cruelty and injustice of the colonial authorities who deprived him of his father. So the further path Kelly was predetermined.
Ned was a difficult teenager. He constantly got involved in unpleasant stories. For example, at the age of fourteen, he landed in jail for ten days. The reason for the arrest was a fight with a pig breeder from China. Some time later, he was put back in prison. This time got the rogue merchant. In addition to this, Ned was suspected of complicity with the famous bush-gunner Harry Power. At sixteen, Kelly beat a policeman who tried to arrest him. The Irishman was given three years. In prison were the brothers Ned. They were arrested on suspicion of robbery. The Kelly family strongly disagreed with the verdict. Therefore, after liberation, all of them (together with their mother and stepfather) began to steal livestock with enviable regularity. At the same time, the Irish people considered the authorities responsible for their criminal life.
In mid-April 1878, the Kelly family had a serious conflict with rural constable Alexander Fitzpatrick. According to a law enforcement official, he came to the Irish house to arrest Dan, the youngest of the brothers. The family, of course, opposed. Ned himself, who was not in the house at that time (or was, it is not known for sure), claimed that Fitzpatrick was drunk, threatened his mother with a revolver, and also molested his sister. At the same time, Dan did not present any specific charges. Hot Irish blood manifested itself - and the constable had to leave Kelly's house, being injured. According to one version, there was a shootout between constable and farmers. According to another, Ellen (mother) hit him with a heavy object on the arm.
Stating at the station, Fitzpatrick stated that it was Ned who had wounded him. Busranger himself argued the opposite. He even wrote a letter to the government: “You can blame me, but if you knew that I myself was falsely accused, then you would say that you cannot blame me. This April there was information (which probably reached you) that I shot Constable Fitzpatrick, which was a lie, and my mother and baby and my brother were accused of complicity in trying to kill him, although they are innocent, like an unborn child. ” .
Realizing that convincing the authorities that they were right would not succeed, Ned and Dan went into hiding. Over their head was immediately declared a reward in 100 pounds. The family mother was arrested, and soon she was given three years of forced labor. Where such severe punishment came from is unclear to the end.
And Ned and his brother had only one path left - the path of the real Bushrangers.
Soon Kelly was joined by two friends - Steve Hart and Joe Byrne. The gang settled on the King River. The police made several attempts to catch the robbers, but all was in vain: they managed to escape.
Soon, Ned and his accomplices paid a return visit to the police. Bushrangers attacked the camp in which there were four law enforcement officials. Only one managed to survive. Having settled with two constables and a sergeant, the gang took them weapon. The authorities' response followed immediately: a reward of 500 pounds was declared for Ned’s head, and the Victoria Colony Parliament outlawed all members of the gang. But Kelly was already all the same. He understood perfectly well that there was no way back. Therefore, in December 1878, the robbers under his leadership robbed a branch of the National Bank in the city of Eora. The gang was enriched for a couple of thousand pounds with banknotes, gold and silver. At the same time, as eyewitnesses assured, they were as correct as possible with the hostages and did not touch their personal belongings. But most importantly, Ned ordered his accomplices to burn the debt obligations found in the bank. After which they disappeared, and in the hearts of simple Australian farmers, Kelly forever remained a noble robber.
After the robbery of the bank, Ned and Byrne wrote a letter to the Prime Minister of the Colony of Victoria and the Superintendent of Police. In it, they told what exactly had prompted them to become bushrangers. And although the message was not published in the press, the people learned about it and became even more sympathetic to the criminals. The authorities in the colony Kelly's letter was ignored. And soon they began a “witch hunt”: the police arrested more than two dozen people on suspicion of ties to bushrains. And even though there was no evidence, people were released only after several months.
And Kelly wasted no time. While the police were actively searching for helpers of bandits, he planned a new robbery. And this time they did not encroach on the bank, but on ... a police station in the city of Jerilderi!
A couple of unhappy constables were locked up in the pantry by the Bushrangers, having previously taken away their weapons and uniforms. After that, we already reached the branch of the Bank of New South Wales. Destroying the debt, the gang took more than two thousand pounds. But criminals were in no hurry to leave the city. Instead, they walked the streets and drank alcohol with the locals.
After the "speech", Ned handed Edwin Leaing, the bank manager, a letter asking him to publish it in the newspaper. In it, Kelly again tried to explain the reason for which he ventured to violate the law. Though Living promised to fulfill Kelly's request, he handed the letter to the police.
Already much later, in the 1930 year, the letter was still published: “... We have no desire to put up with the cruel and insidious behavior of these large, ugly fat wombats, who are ruled by stunted short-legged narrow-bearded sons of Irish bailiffs and English landlords who are better known as judges and the officers of the Victorian police, whom some consider honest gentlemen, but I would like to know what an honest person will do in the police ... "
Despite the ban, "retelling" of the revelation Kelly still got to the newspaper men. And the image of Ned as a fighter against injustice became even stronger among the people.
After a bank robbery, the reward for Kelly's head grew to eight thousand pounds. But the population of Victoria was silent and in no hurry to surrender their hero. And Ned himself was not in a hurry to tempt fate - he hid for a while with the gang. For several months, bushrangers made themselves steel steel armor capable of protecting them from bullets.
And the police tried to find the trail of the bandits. And once they were lucky. Aaron Sherrit, a friend of Joe Byrne, agreed to surrender the robbers, having been flattered for a reward. There is a version that Kelly even wanted to take him to the gang. But in a double agent, Sherrit did not play long. Despite being guarded, the Bushrangers shot the traitor.
Having settled with Sherrit, Ned began to plan the main business. He wanted to capture several high-ranking law enforcement officials, then to exchange them for his mother. The place of action was chosen the town of Glenoco.
At the end of June 1880, the robbers appeared in the village. First of all they ordered the workers to destroy the railroad tracks leading to the city. Then, along with sixty hostages, the busters ran into the local hotel. All four criminals were dressed in armor and well armed.
Kelly's calculation was no different to some sophisticated cunning. He hoped that in the dark the driver would not notice damage to the railroad tracks, and as a result the train would leave the rails. At the time of the accident there will appear bushrangers and will try to take several officers hostage. Perhaps after that Kelly planned to rob a local bank in order to "earn some extra money."
While waiting for the train, the robbers behaved correctly towards the hostages. Moreover, they entertained them with various tricks and drank alcohol with them. Here is how one of the eyewitnesses told about those events: “The sons of Mrs. Jones (the hostess of the hotel) sang a song about Kelly for the entertainment of the gang, and their mother asked them to sing louder. Then most of the captives cleared the front hall, and the gang arranged dances. They danced the quadrille, and Mr. David Mortimer, the son-in-law of the school principal, played concertina. Ned Kelly danced with the maiden Jones, and Dan with Mrs. Jones. ” This story a few days after the capture of the hotel was published in the Sydney newspaper Australian Town and Country Journal.
But this time, excessive self-confidence has played a cruel joke on the bushrangers. They made a fatal mistake for them, releasing one of the hostages - the teacher Thomas Karnow. He swore he would not betray them, and deceived. Once free, he lit a lantern and stood at a disassembled section of the railway. The driver saw the light from afar and managed to stop the train in time. Therefore, none of the policemen was injured. By the way, subsequently, Thomas and his family had to leave the city because of threats from Kelly's supporters. Karnou was considered a traitor and promised cruel revenge.
Soon the robbers learned that their plan had failed. And they began to prepare for battle. Curiously, they had time to escape, but they did not do that. When the police (about those dozens) approached the hotel, they did not even begin negotiations, but opened fire.
The shootout was delayed. The superintendent and Ned himself were injured. Of the hostages from stray bullets killed two people, several were injured. At about five in the morning Joe Byrne died. Three Bushrangers are left ...
Realizing that the siege could not stand for a long time, Ned decided to move all in. He managed to quietly leave the hotel and attack the police from the rear. Sergeant Arthur Steele, Constable Kelly (namesake) and Dowsett railroad worker, resisted the bushranger. And though the bullets bounced off Ned's steel armor, Still Still managed to hurt him: the hands and legs of the robber were not protected.
Steele later talked about the shootout: “I saw a figure about 200 yards (183 meters) behind me, heading for the hotel, he fired at the police and shouted,“ I’m bulletproof, you won’t get me! ”He made five or six shots , then crouched behind the trees and began reloading the revolver. I ran to him, he got up and shot at me, then went out into the open space ... I immediately shot him in the right leg, he tripped, dropped his hand, then he tried to raise the revolver, but I shot him again from 10 yards (9 meters ), hitting the arm and thigh, after which he immediately fell. ”
The wounded and unarmed Ned were carried to the train, where he was received by a doctor. At about ten in the morning, the remaining bandits released the hostages. Dan Kelly and Steve Hart refused to give up. The shootout lasted a few more hours. After that, the police managed to set fire to the hotel ...
According to one version, Dan and Steve shoot yourself. On the other - they ran out of ammunition, and they were burned. One way or another, burnt bones were found in the metal armor on the ashes. Neda a day later, the train was taken to Melbourne and placed in a local prison.
By the way, in the siege among the police there were no dead. And there were only three wounded.
"We will meet where you send me"
Ned Kelly appeared in court in October 1880. The trial was conducted by one of the most eminent lawyers of the time - the chief judge of the colony Victoria Sir Redmond Barry. The one who sent Ned's mother to jail a few years ago. Kelly was sentenced to death by hanging. According to legend, after the announcement of the sentence, Barry said: "May God forgive your soul." To which the bushranger replied: "We will meet where you send me."
When people found out about the verdict, a campaign began to collect signatures of pardon for the robber. In a short time, several tens of thousands of votes were collected, but the authorities did not pay attention to the petition, which caused a wave of discontent.
A few days before the execution, Ned was allowed to meet with his mother. And on November 11, 1880, he was hanged in the territory of Melbourne prison. According to legend, before his death, Kelly said: "This is life." At that time he was only twenty-five years old ... Until 2013, Ned Kelly’s body rested on the prison cemetery. And then he was reburied next to his mother in the village of Greta.
By the way, a couple of weeks after Ned’s death, Judge Barry was gone. He was ruined by diabetes. The reward for the arrest of a bushrainder went to the police officers who participated in the siege of the hotel.
This case led to a public outcry. It got to the point that a special government commission undertook to check the police of the colony of Victoria. As a result, a great purge of the management team and personnel reshuffle. Superintendent Hare was hit by a hot hand, despite his injury during the exchange of fire.
Whoever Kelly really is, in Australian culture he is a folk hero, a desperate fighter against injustice and corrupt cops. And the first film about the bushrunner appeared already in 1906. And there he is, too, as you understand, a good guy.