Born near Airdrie, Scotland, 19th February, 1850. John Liddell Kelly left school at the age of eleven and was self-educated afterwards. He married in 1870 and emigrated to New Zeland in 1880.
He worked as a Sub-editor for the Auckland Star and as editor for the Auckland Observer. Mr Kelly also has served as assistant editor for the Lyttelton Times and editor of the New Zealand Times.