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Photo of a young man taken from waist up. - click to view larger image
1873 prison portrait of Ned Kelly

‘I am a Widow’s Son, outlawed and my orders must be obeyed’. With these chilling words bushranger Ned Kelly ended the Jerilderie letter, a detailed written justification of his actions in the year before his death.

Kelly (1854–1880) is one of Australia’s best-known historical characters. The convicted murderer and self-confessed stock thief is also the only bushranger known to have left a detailed written justification of his actions.

Kelly attempted to have his ‘manifesto’ published when his gang held up the small New South Wales town of Jerilderie in 1879. His words are regarded by some as an early call for an Australian republic.

The National Museum holds publican John Hanlon’s transcription of this letter.

Transcript reading

Listen to a reading of Ned Kelly’s Jerilderie letter, a detailed written justification penned by the bushranger when he held up the small New South Wales town of Jerilderie in 1879.

Transcription

Read the full transcription of the Jerilderie letter

Explore more on bushrangers

Ned Kelly collection The Museum’s Kelly collection includes a plaster death mask, images and a police report.
Ned Kelly’s last stand Read about Ned Kelly’s last stand at Glenrowan in 1880 as a Defining Moment in Australian History.
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