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Ned Kelly


Parkes Letter

Ned Kelly

[In the Parkes Letter, Ned Kelly states that he is in Bathurst. It is likely that this was written to "stir up" Sir Henry Parkes (Premier of New South Wales) in retaliation for him offering a reward for the capture of any of the Kelly Gang. Although the Gang had been in the NSW town of Jerilderie (approximately 60 kilometres north of the Victorian border) in February 1879, no evidence has been given that they moved on to the NSW city of Bathurst (approximately 200 km west of Sydney). Ned also gives his views on the high numbers of Asians present in Australia at that time:]

My dear Sir Henry Parkes,

I find by the newspapers that you have been very liberal in offering a reward for the Kelly Gang or any one of them. Now, Sir Henry the man that takes I, Captain E. Kelly, will have to be a plucky man for I do not intend to be taken alive. And as I would as soon die in NSW as Victoria I will give you or any other person who wishes to take me a fair chance to try your pluck.

I am at present not very far from Bathurst (in fact I have been in the town of Bathurst and have taken a peep at the banks). Now I tell you candidly that I intend to rob Bathurst and particularly the bank. So now you are warned. Of course I will not say what time I and the gentlemen that follows in my train will visit the City of the plains. But one thing you can count on, that I will pay it a visit.

Now Sir Henry I tell you that highway robbery is only in its infancy, for the white population is been [sic - being] driven out of the labour market by an inundation of Mongolians, and when the white man is driven to desperation there will be desperate times.

I present my respects to the Sydney Police.

Yours E. Kelly

The Camp March 10th 1879

The original letter is held at the Mitchell Library, Sydney, New South Wales

Note: Contrary to a widespread misconception, Ned Kelly was able to read and write; however, because of the wounds he suffered at Glenrowan, he was unable to even write his name after his capture (hence he had to sign documents with an "x"). A complete letter in his handwriting exists, written when he was 15. It is reproduced in the book Ned Kelly: A Short Life, and a copy of his signature is reproduced on the back cover.
The Association for the Advancement of Australian Culture