Ned Kelly: Legendary Criminal Down Under

 

The bushranger Ned Kelly is one of Australia's greatest folk heroes. He has been memorialised by painters, writers, musicians and filmmakers alike. More books, songs and websites have been written about Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang than any other group of Australian historical figures.

Bushranging was said to have ended with the shooting of the Kelly Gang in 1880 at Glenrowan, Victoria, made possible by the introduction of the Felons Apprehension Act 1865 (NSW) which allowed outlawed bushrangers to be shot, rather than arrested and sent to trial.

Before the end of transportation in 1840, more than 50,000 Irish 'rebels' were exiled to Australia. Their mistrust of British authority came with them, along with their vehement independence as Catholics, specifically excluded from holding public office or government positions until after 1900. It has been argued that this independence of the Irish contributed to the showdown with Ned Kelly and the police at Glenrowan in 1880.

Many of the transported convicts were also agitators, machine breakers, political activists and union organisers. These included the Scottish lawyer Thomas Muir, transported in 1794 for handing out copies of Tom Paine's The Rights of Man.

 

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