Ned Kelly's home-made armour put on display as archaeologists find his grave

From 1786 to 1868, Australia was a British penal colony, where Britain sent many of its felons who were spared the death penalty(such as those accused of stealing a handkerchief or for wandering the streets at night with a blackened face).

Britain in the 18th Century and early 19th Century was a harsh, brutal and bloody place.

There were a massive 225, yes, 225, capital offences in Britain up until the 1850s (compare that to modern day Iran, which has a mere 95). This was known as the Bloody Code.

Even children were hanged.

18th and 19th century British society was very unjust and often cruel - poverty, social injustice, child labour, harsh and dirty living conditions and long working hours were prevalent. Dickens' novels perhaps best illustrate this; even some government officials were horrified by what they saw. Only in 1833 and 1844, the first general laws against child labour, the Factory Acts, were passed in England.

Thanks to the notorious Bloody Code, life in 18th Century (and early 19th Century) Britain was a hazardous place. By the 1770s, there were a massive 222 crimes in Britain which carried the death penalty, many of which even included petty offences such as the stealing of goods worth over 5 shillings, the cutting down of a tree, stealing an animal or stealing from a rabbit warren. For example, Michael Hammond and his sister, Ann, whose ages were given as 7 and 11, were reportedly hanged at King's Lynn, Norfolk on Wednesday, the 28th of September 1708 for theft. The local press did not, however, consider the executions of two children newsworthy

Some of the capital offences in Britain in the eighteenth century and early nineteenth century:

stealing horses or sheep
destroying turnpike roads
cutting down trees
pickpocketing goods worth more than one shilling
being out at night with a blackened face
unmarried mother concealing a stillborn child
stealing from a rabbit warren

But many people escaped the death penalty and instead were sentenced to one of Britain's penal colonies, such as Australia or one of the American colonies. Britain last sent felons to Australia in 1868.

One of the descendant those British felons sent to Australia was Ned Kelly, who later became the country's most famous outlaw...

Ned Kelly's home-made armour put on display as archaeologists find his grave in Australian prison

13th March 2008
Daily Mail

The home-made armour used by Australia's most notorious outlaw Ned Kelly has been put on display as archaeologists believe they have found his grave.

Unmarked coffins containing the remains of 32 executed prisoners have been unearthed at a former jail in Melbourne, Victoria, and old documents suggest Kelly - the son of an Irish convict (in those days, the whole of the island of Ireland was part of Britain) - is among them.

The home-made armour in which his made his last stand has now been put on display in the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne.

He was hanged in 1880 but mystery has surrounded his exact resting place. It was previously thought his remains had been accidentally dug up and discarded during pipe-laying work 50 years ago.

Kelly used home-made armour in a final shoot-out with police

Ned Kelly became a folk hero of Australia's colonial past with his gang's daring bank robberies and escapes

Forensic tests are to be carried out on the contents of the coffins, although it may not be possible to identify individuals.

Jeremy Smith, senior archaeologist at the agency Heritage Victoria, said Kelly's bones were probably mixed up with those of other prisoners.

"Identifying the remains of Ned Kelly may prove difficult, as his were not handled with a great degree of care," he said.

"We have not found a single body that we can identify as being Kelly. We may never be able to do that."

Kelly was hanged at the Melbourne Gaol in 1880 and Australian archaeologists believe they have found his grave of Kelly on the site of an abandoned prison

Kelly's head was removed immediately after his execution - various skulls were later touted around Australia as his - but one clue for investigators may be a distinguishing wrist injury he suffered at his last stand, the siege of Glenrowan.

He was originally buried in an unmarked grave at the old Melbourne Gaol, but bodies from that site were dug up and taken to the city's Pentridge Prison in 1929.

It is at Pentridge, which is now being turned into housing, that the coffins were found, partly thanks to an old map which is understood to bear the names of executed men, including Kelly.

Archaeologists, who have been investigating the Pentridge site for two years, found three deep, square pits with the coffins in them.

Victoria's planning minister, Justin Madden, said in a statement: "Although it may not be possible to conclusively match remains to individual prisoners, we hope the analysis will provide a better understanding of the history of the burials following the Old Melbourne Gaol closure in the 1920s."

Born Edward Kelly to Irish Catholic parents in Beveridge, Victoria, in 1854 or 1855, Kelly was a "bush-worker" in his teens, breaking in horses, mustering cattle and maintaining fences - but graduated from that to cattle-rustling and horse - stealing.

Arrested for assault, horse-stealing and bank robbery, a reward was eventually put out for him and his brother Dan for the attempted murder of a policeman.

Grave mystery: Ned was the son of an Irish convict and used home-made armour while on his crime spree in the late 1870s

Later, the reward was increased to 1,000 for each of the Kelly Gang for the murder of three policemen at the now-infamous Stringybark Creek.

Heath Ledger as Ned Kelly in the film of the same name

After more bank robberies, the gang made their last stand in the town of Glenrowan, Victoria, where they took 60 hostages in a hotel.

In a battle with police, Dan and two other gang members were killed, and Ned was wounded and arrested.

He was tried and convicted of the murder of one of the policemen at Stringybark Creek.

Numerous books and a number of feature films have since told his story and he remains an icon in Australia.

To many, he is a hero who resisted the brutality of the colonial regime and embodied the spirit of Australia. To others, he is a ruthless killer.

The image of his last stand in 1880, clad in a home-made suit of armour, including his famous cylindrical helmet with eye-slits, is still instantly recognisable.

Plans for the remains have not been finalised, but a publicly-accessible cemetery and rose garden is expected to be created at the Pentridge site.

It will feature historical story boards and information about Victoria's penal system and executed prisoners.
Thanx for posting this interesting article Didn't Mick Jagger play Kelly in a film from the '60's? Or was I just too stoned at the time & imagined it in a drug induced dream.
Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post

being out at night with a blackened face

Who would want to do that? The chimney-sweeps?