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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Ned Kelly

In their own words

Ned Kelly
Audio: 2 minutes

Were they my own brothers, I could not have been more sorry for them.

This cannot be called wilful murder for I was compelled to shoot them or lie down and let them shoot me.

But I am reckoned a horrid brute because I had not been cowardly enough to lie down for them under such trying circumstances and insults to my people.

Certainly their wives and children are to be pitied. But they must remember those men came into the bush with the intention of scattering pieces of me and my brother all over the bush.

And yet they know and acknowledge I have been wronged. And is my brothers and sisters and my mother not to be pitied also, who has no alternative only to put up with the brutal and cowardly conduct of a parcel of big, ugly, fat-necked, wombat-headed, big-bellied, magpie-legged, narrow-hipped, splawfooted sons of Irish bailiffs or English landlords which is better known as Officers of Justice or Victoria police who some calls honest gentlemen?

A policeman is a disgrace to his country, a traitor to his country and ancestors and religion.

Any policeman or other man who does not throw up his hands directly as I call on them knows the consequences – a speedy despatch to Kingdom Come.

I give fair warning to all those who have reason to fear me, to sell up and give 10 pounds out of every 100 towards the widow and orphan fund and do not attempt to reside in Victoria.

Neglect this and the consequences shall be worse than the rust in the wheat in Victoria or a dry season to the grasshoppers in New South Wales.

I do not wish to give the order full force without giving timely warning.

But I am a widow’s son outlawed and my orders must be obeyed.

Acknowledgements

Kelly, Ned (1879) Jerilderie Letter. Kelly, N., Byrne, J., and Living, E. 1879. Letter written by Joe Byrne at the dictation of Ned Kelly, [1879 Feb]. [manuscript] State Library of Victoria

Attribution

Voiced by James Thomasson

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Ned Kelly

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency