Born at Beveridge in 1854 into an Irish family typical of migrants of that time, Ned was to become known for his athletic ability and bravery.
The politics of the time, the introduction of government legislation designed for the poor, but badly drawn up, interpreted and administered, together with the growing resentment of an authority believed among the community to be corrupt, all combined to influence Ned's personal attitudes.
Also, as a consequence of the unscrupulous action of some squatters in attempting to force the small selectors off their land, many, including members of the Kelly family, were forced to resort to stock stealing and other unlawful activities just to survive.
At the age of 15, Ned was first brought before the Police Court on a charge of assault on a fowl and pig dealer named Ah Fook, and secondly with aiding the bushranger Harry Power in some of his robberies. Fortunately for Ned he was found not guilty in both cases. But before the end of that year, he was sentenced to six months hard labour for assault and indecent behavior, the result of a prank of a family friend.
Within three weeks of his release, Ned was arrested again, this time for receiving a stolen horse. He had no idea the horse was stolen but was given three years hard labor.
On his release from prison, Ned returned home a hardened but much more mature man than the average nineteen year old. In his absence he discovered that all but one of his thirty two horses had been stolen by the local constabulary, and for a while his determination to stay out of prison kept him on the right side of the authorities. However, it wasn't long before Ned's feelings changed and in partnership with his stepfather, George King, and numerous relatives and associates, they carried out large scale reprisals against those persons whom they believed were persecuting them.
As the police net closed in on the rustling operation, a whole new course of events was set in motion that would have catastrophic consequences for some of its participants.
In April 1878, Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick paid a visit to the Kelly home supposedly to arrest Dan, but as it turned out his motive for the visit lay in his interest in young Kate Kelly. Following an incident in which he…