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Daniel (Dan) Kelly (1861–1880)

Dan Kelly, by James E. Bray, c1877

Dan Kelly, by James E. Bray, c1877

State Library of Victoria, H2001.161/1

I have already mentioned that Ned Kelly had two brothers and four sisters—Daniel (Dan), Jim, Mrs. Gunn, Mrs. Skillian, Kate, and Grace. Dan Kelly was seven years younger than Ned, having been born in 1861, but from the time he was able to sit upon a horse he was more or less associated with his elder brother in criminal pursuits. The boy "lifters" were the terror of carriers and drovers who had to pass through the district in which they resided, and it is said that persons in charge of stock not infrequently went many miles out of the direct course in order to avoid Greta, fearing that some of their cattle would miss their proper destination if they attempted to pass through the "Kelly Country." Night and day young Dan would prowl about looking for "game," and, knowing the bush intimately, he could at any time get away with that "game" when he found it, to some spot where it would be beyond reach of the proper owners. It will thus be seen that he was well qualified to act as his brother's lieutenant, and, indeed, it was through him that the outbreak occurred.....

In March, 1878, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Dan Kelly on a charge of cattle-stealing; and as it became known that he was at this mother's house at Greta, a constable named Fitzpatrick stationed at Benalla, proceeded thither to arrest him. Fitzpatrick's version of what took place was that when he got to the house he found Dan. Kelly there, and arrested him in the presence of his mother and sisters. He was proceeding to take his prisoner to Benalla, when he was asked to permit him first to take a meal, with which request he complied. While the meal was in progress, Ned Kelly, with Skillian, his brother-in-law, and a man named Williamson, came in, and Ned at once demanded if Fitzpatrick had a warrant for the arrest of Dan. The constable replied in the negative, and then Ned drew a revolver and declared that his brother should not be taken without one. Fitzpatrick pulled out his revolver to protect himself, and ensure the safe custody of the prisoner, when Ned Kelly fired and wounded him in the wrist, the result being that the revolver fell out of his hand and was secured by the Kellys. Fitzpatrick was then, according to his account, secured, and it was proposed to shoot him; but upon his solemnly promising to say nothing of the affair he was allowed to go. The wound in his wrist was very trivial, and the bullet had been picked out with a knife before he reached Benalla. His promise of silence was not kept, and warrants were immediately issued against Ned Kelly for shooting with intent to murder, and against Dan Kelly, Skillian, Williamson, and Mrs. Kelly for aiding and abetting. When it was attempted to enforce these warrants, it was found that the brothers Kelly had disappeared; but the others named were arrested, tried, and sentenced to lengthy terms of imnprisonment, Fitzpatrick's version of what took place at the house being acceped as correct.

But the Kellys and their friends gave altogether different versions of the story; they emphatically denied the truth of Fitzpatrick's statements, and complained very bitterly that their relations were cast into prisn on his unsupported evidence. One version was that no shooting at all took place, but that Fitzpatrick had concocted the whole affair in a spirit of revenge, because certain improper advances which he had made to one of the female members of the family had been rejected with considerable warmth, another was that Fitzpatrick never had Dan Kelly in charge, and that the arrest was resisted because of the absence of a warrant, and in a scuffle Fitzpatrick slightly wounded himself with his own revolver; and a third was that Mrs. Kelly took no part whatever in the affair, not being in the house at the time—that Skillian and Williamson were miles away at the time, and that Dan and Ned Kelly were alone concerned in what took place.

After the disappearance of Ned and Dan from the home at Greta, nothing more was heard of them for some months, although the Government offered £100 reward for their apprehension, and every effort was made by the police to capture them. It was then known that they had "taken to the bush," and there was a general impression that they were concerned in several cases of road robbery that took place about that time in remote portions of the district; but, reckless and daring though they were known to be, it was never for a moment thought that they were capable of the fearful crimes by which they were shortly to make themselves notorious.

Original publication

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Kelly, Daniel (Dan) (1861–1880)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 27 May 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Dan Kelly, by James E. Bray, c1877

Dan Kelly, by James E. Bray, c1877

State Library of Victoria, H2001.161/1

Life Summary [details]


1 June, 1861


28 June, 1880 (aged 19)
Glenrowan, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death

police shooting

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

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