“Give me the child till he is seven,
and I will show you the man”
If this well known Jesuit aphorism was applied to the life of Ned Kelly, it would appear to explain almost everything., because its clear that from the very beginning of his life he was in an environment of hostility towards the law, to authority and the Police. This same hostility became the hallmark of his adult life, and reached its full expression at Glenrowan where in his home made armour he took the Police on almost singlehandedly. Peter Fitzsimons, writing about the young Ned puts it this way:
“Ned takes his hatred of the English with his mothers milk and his fathers every rant”
During his childhood there were many encounters between the Police and the extended Kelly family. Few if any would have been positive interactions and no doubt Ned would have witnessed some of them and overheard the many subsequent discussions and negative commentary about Police and the wealthy landowners and absorbed the sentiment and prejudice of his elders.
|The Kelly House still standing, but only just, in Beveridge
When Ned Kelly was about a year old his uncle Jim was charged with possession of stolen cattle; when he was five the same uncle was charged with assault and horse stealing, and another uncle, Jack, was charged with cattle stealing. Jack Lloyd, Ellen Kellys brother-in–law faced charges of assault, larceny and being drunk and disorderly. Ned himself, aged 8 is dragged into this mire of criminality, being made to appear with his mother as a witness to provide an alibi for uncle James who is accused of stealing 13 cattle. The alibi was not accepted and James was sentenced to three years hard labour.
At age 10 his own father, the alcoholic Red, is in prison for theft, and then on his release is re-arrested for public drunkenness. There was more, but the picture is clear – the wider Kelly family existed on the fringes of society and the law, and was frequently in trouble.
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