The Kelly family came from Ireland and settled in Victoria . At the end of the year 1839 the Quinns first emigrated from Belfast , Ireland . After settling at Melbourne the elder Quinn speculated in a small farm at Brunswick , which he carried on for some time. He afterwards shifted over to Broadmeadows, where he rented 1280 hectares of land, which he devoted to grazing and cultivation. He afterwards removed to Wallan Wallan. He subsequently purchased 700 acres of land at that place, the railway station afterwards occupying a portion of it. He had now nine children, and the family was much respected in that part of the colony both for honesty and integrity. In the year 1865 he removed to a squatting station at the head of the King River, and four years after this he died. It was on this station that Power, the notorious bushranger, was captured by Mr Nicholson's party whilst asleep in his gunyah.
John Kelly, who was better known as ‘Red Kelly,’ the father of the outlaws, was transported originally to Tasmania , for killing a man at a fair squabble at Tipperary . After the expiration of his sentence he recovered to Donnybrook, and it was at this place he first met James Quinn.
There are a number of crimes laid at this man’s door, which however seems to be wholly at variance with his character, but it was said to be a very quiet and timid man, always acting as a peacemaker in quarrels, and exceedingly averse to violence. In this he seems to resemble many of the friends of the outlaws, especially Wild Wright, who is stranger would suppose to be a very quiet and inoffensive man, civil of tongue, and easy of deportment. But as to what character he could assume when alone and with the chance laid before him of reaping any advantage by another’s loss, is hard to say.
John Kelly first met James Quinn in an hotel in Donnybrook, and over a glass of whisky they made an acquaintance. They soon afterwards became intimate, and Kelly persuaded Quinn to join him in an illicit whisky still speculation, which was going to turn them in a fortune each. After some persuasion Quinn consented to join him in the speculation, but afterwards refused to have anything to do with it, and told Kelly that his distant acquaintanceship would be preferred to his close friendship.
However, Kelly persisted in calling at Quinn's house, and as he began to pay his addresses to Ellen Quinn, the father told him at once to leave. He returned, however, by stealth, and persuaded the girl to elope with him to Melbourne , where they were married.
On their return to the Merri Creek, the parents forgave them, and Quinn set up his new son-in-law in business as a bush carpenter, at which he did very well. At this place the young couple lived until the diggings broke out, and Kelly removed to Bendigo , at which place he prospered. Afterwards he purchased a farm at Avenal where he died. He left issue three sons, Edward, Daniel and James, and three daughters one of whom married Alexander Gunn, who has since died, another was united to William Skillion now in gaol for assaulting a constable, and Kate, the youngest, is still single. About 13 years ago they gave up the farm at Avenal, and removed to the Eleven Mile Creek, three miles from Greta township. There they built a small shanty, which was used as a sort of accommodation house. The ages of the sons were then as follows:- Edward, 12; James, 9; and Daniel, 7. The two elder boys at once took to horse-dealing and horse-breaking, whilst Dan, who was more timid in his disposition, stayed at home and assisted his mother at the housework.
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