"Mind you die like a Kelly, Ned."
- Ellen Kelly (1830-1923), mother of Edward "Ned" Kelly.
The last words of Ned Kelly as he was about to be executed by hanging on this day, 11 November, in 1880, are quite well known: "Ah well, so it has come to this then. Such is life."
Less well known is that on the evening before his execution, he was met in his cell by his mother, herself an inmate of Melbourne Gaol. In 1878 Mrs Kelly had been sentenced to 3 years hard labour by Mr Justice Redmond Barry for the attempted murder of Constable Fitzpatrick. In highly suspect circumstances and with questionable evidence, she was convicted, Judge Barry stating that if her son Ned had been present, he would have given him 15 years for his part in the matter. Ned claimed he wasn't even present. It was this incident which resulted in Ned and his brother being declared outlaws. Two years later Barry sentenced Ned to death. At the meeting between mother and son, her last words to him were "Mind you die like a Kelly, Ned", as recorded by another person present.
Mrs Kelly, aged 79 (1909), with two of her grandchildren, in front of the last house occupied by her.
"People blame my boys for all that has happened, they should blame the police. They were at the bottom of it all ... We were not getting too rich but were doing all right. It was a lonely life but we were all together and we all loved each other so dearly. The trouble began over a young constable named Fitzpatrick ... He tried to kiss my daughter, Kate, and the boys tried to stop him. They were only trying to protect their sister but his story was believed ... After that, nothing but misery. And it has been nothing but misery ever since."