It was Ned Kelly's sense of outrage at
the injustices meted upon his mother, Ellen, and his newborn sister, Alice, and
his indignation at the continued harassment members of the police force inflicted
on his younger, defenceless siblings, which fueled his provocative actions during
Ellen's incarceration. He deplored the harshness of her life and the difficulties
she had faced.
Jerilderie Letter, gives the impression of a man ready to explode, and
is fiercely angry.
It repeatedly mentions the plight of his
mother and his young sisters and brothers.
"My mother has seen better days; she
struggled up with a large family and I feel more keenly than I can express the
unjust treatment meted out to her, arrested babe at her breast and convicted of
a crime of which she was innocent""
Ellen remained in the
Old Melbourne Gaol during the entire Kelly uprising and the explosive siege of Glenrowan
on the 28th June 1880. She emerged in 1881 returning to children who
barely knew her, her sons, Daniel burned to death in the Glenrowan Inn and Edward
hung in the Old Melbourne Gaol on the 11th November 1880.
During Ellen's years in the Gaol, daughters
Maggie and Kate kept the family together, worked the farms, assisted the gang and
resisted the authorities.
It was the women left to mourn and suffer
the loss of their menfolk, and who were called on to calm the vengeful unrest which
settled over the northeast.
The women's roles in the Kelly saga have
been long overlooked.