Such was life

Keening Kellys

The State Library has been given an extraordinary letter that gives an eyewitness account of the aftermath of the 1880 Glenrowan siege, where bushranger Ned Kelly was captured by police. Written by a local bank manager called Donald Sutherland, the letter contains little-known details of the dramatic day, including a touching account of Ned’s sisters crying over his injuries:

‘Poor Ned I was really sorry for him. To see him lying pierced by bullets and still showing no signs of pain. His 3 sisters were there also, Mrs Skillion [a.k.a Skilling], Kate Kelly and a younger one. Kate was sitting at his head with her arms round his neck while the others were crying in a mournful strain at the state of one who but the night before was the terror of the whole Colony.’

Wood engraving showing an injured Ned Kelly, lying on a cart beside the train and a tearful Miss Lloyd leaning over him, several men are standing around the cart and are obviously sympathic towards the outlaw and his cousin.

Parting of Ned Kelly and his cousin, Miss Lloyd, at Benalla railway station, APW10/07/80/33

Sepia photograph showing Ned Kelly's sister Maggie Skilling. Whole-length, to left, wearing full length dress with leg-o-mutton sleeves and lace collar, seated with left elbow resting on table, left hand to cheek.

Auntie Maggie [Ned Kelly's sister, Maggie Skilling], H2003.25/6

Black and white postcard showing full length photographic portrait of Kate Kelly

This old picture of the ‘eighties looks impressive. It portrays
Kate Kelly, sister of Ned and Dan …
, H23557

To discover more details, you can read the original letter and a transcript online. The letter will be on display in the State Library’s Changing Face of Victoria exhibition from Monday 14 October 2013, alongside Ned’s armour and his Jerilderie letter.

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