‘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.