Ellen Kelly (c.1832–1923), matriarch and mother of Ned Kelly, was born in County Antrim, Ireland, fourth of eleven children of James Quinn, farmer, and his wife Mary.
The Quinn family migrated to Australia in 1841.
After a period of menial work in Melbourne, James took the family north to rented farmland at Brunswick, then in 1849 a further 30 miles to Wallan.
Ellen who was a feisty girl and brilliant horsewoman met, fell pregnant to and married “Red” Kelly.
Their first-born, a girl, survived only briefly. Ellen had a daughter Anne and in December 1854 a son, who was named Edward after Red’s brother.
In 1865, “Red” stole a calf and served four months in gaol. The following year he died, an alcoholic, of oedema, leaving Ellen with seven children aged from 18 months to 13 years.
The bushranger Harry Power became a family friend, introducing the 14-year-old Ned to the life of a bandit.
Late in 1872, with the 18 year old Ned in prison, she met George King, a 23-year-old Californian horse-thief, and once more fell pregnant.
Alice, the last daughter, was born in April 1878, six months after King abruptly deserted them, and only days before Constable Fitzpatrick arrived at the Kelly home to arrest Ellen’s son Dan for horse-theft.
Set upon by an angry Ellen (wielding a spade) and probably her son Ned, Constable Fitzpatrick brought charges of attempted murder against her and she was sentenced to three years in prison.
A model prisoner, Ellen Kelly was allowed, after Dan’s death and Ned’s capture, to visit Ned in the prison hospital and later in the cells, seeing him for the last time on the eve of his execution.
According to legend, she said ‘Mind you die like a Kelly, son’.
After Ned’s death she settled down to become, for the first time in her life, a respectable community identity—although she was never able to rise to even modest prosperity.
Her daughters Maggie and Kate died in the late 1890s, leaving Ellen to raise three of her grandchildren (see picture above), helped by her son James.
She died on 27 March 1923 at Greta West and was buried in Greta cemetery with Catholic rites.
Of her twelve children, only a son and a daughter from her first marriage and a son and two daughters from her time with George King survived her death.
via Australian Dictionary of Biography.