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Original Documents on Aborigines and Law, 1797-1840

Document 10

Original Document 10

Report to Governor on hostilities of the Blacks. Hunter River and murder. Background to decision R v Lowe 1827



In compliance with H. E. the Governor's request to draw up a brief account of the commencement and continuation of the hostilities at present existing between the Europeans & the Aborigines in the Upper Districts of Hunters River, we subjoin the following report for H. E. information -

And we request that this report come not be so satisfactorily as could be wished as many of the incidents related are from hearsay alone.

It is our opinion that the first cause of ill blood originated in a communication between the Mudgee Blacks & those on Hunters River - the Mudgee Natives it may be remembered were one of the Tribes concerned in the outrages in the Bathurst District.

During the time that the Mudgee Natives remained several acts of aggression were committed: such as food and cloths being forcibly obtained from some of the lone Flock Stations [43] for instance Mr. Onus's [?] Station on the Wallumbi Brook -

The next symptoms of hostility were at Mr. Littles & Mr. Mc Intyres where the natives stole the Maize & the Proprietors defended it - On one occasion the Natives were pursued by Mr. Mc Intyre from the maize field when they took up a strong position & rolled down rocks & stones, which forced Mr Mc Intyre & party to retreat.

Then followed several petty robberies on single individuals while travelling the long and lonely road from Dr Bowmans upwards; such as stripping people of their cloths & provisions - And Mr Mc Intyre's Dray was robbed by the natives altho [sic] one of the two men in charge had a blunderbuss.

Mr. Greig & his Shepperd , soon after this, were murdered, without any apparent cause; unless indeed, Mr. Greigs known aversion to having the natives about him might have excited their hatred   [44]

The same Tribe who committed this murder, fearful of our vengeance, removed together with the Wallombi Natives into the Mountains, and there again they were guilty of another atrocity by murdering one man & dreadfully lacerating another whose name is Robinson. This happened at Mr. Laycocks Station at Booty.

Robinson is at present somewhere in the neighbourhood of Windsor .

When the report of this murder reached Windsor a party of Military were sent from thence in pursuit of the Blacks, whom they fell in with & fired upon - but whether any deaths occurred we cannot state.

In consequence of all these acts of violence a party of Military (57th) were sent up from Newcastle to the disturbed Districts. Several of the Natives who were known & others who were suspected to have been concerned in the murders and robberies were apprehended - some of who got away imperceived [sic] & others were fired upon while running away, but no shots took effect.

[45] The Mounted Police now arrived, & were called into active operation, in consequence of an attack by the natives upon Mr George Forbes' Station when one of his men was speared in the shoulder - About this time "Billy" who was identified as one of those concerned in this outrage was apprehended by the Mounted Police & lodged in Newcastle Gaol where he still remains.

Shortly after this Dr Bowmans's Stockman was attacked & stripped quite naked in the Bush: & a day or two after, the same Gentleman's watchman was murdered in his hut about 3 o'clock on the day, while the other men were absent with their flocks.

And again a few days after that, the same natives went to James Chilcott's farm & attempted by force to plunder the house; one of the Natives named "Cato" had a struggle with Chilcott for a gun, when a general engagement took place [46] when the Natives were beaten off without the loss of any lives: the white people only firing at their legs -

Two of Dr Bowmans Fencers were attacked while at work in the Bush, by a body of Blacks & although they escaped with their lives, they were both severely wounded: one of them now at Newcastle Hospital , with seven spear wounds & dangerously ill.

After this the party of the Mounted Police were reinforced & succeeded in taking one of the Natives who murdered Dr Bowman's watchman. He was Shot - Shortly after several more natives were taken by the Mounted Police; three of whom were shot as stated in a report to H: E: by three Magistrates of Hunters River - And about the same time two more Blacks suspected of being concerned in the murders at Mr. Greigs & at Booty were apprehended by the Mounted Police & lodged in Newcastle Jail: - one of whom has [47] since been liberated,

The House of Mr. Ogilvie, during his absence, was attacked by a large body of Blacks, whose principal object it would appear was to get two men who had on a former occasion detained a Black by the name of Jerry (having mistaken him for another of the same name, who was one of the murderers at Dr. Bowmans) & who was liberated the next morning when the error was discovered. [(See #) following paragraph in margin]

# These 2 men however were not to be found- And in consequence of Mrs Ogilvie's most judicious & spirited conduct, the natives retired without doing further damage than stealing a quantity of Maize from the house where it was stored.

Then followed a daring and most shocking attack on M r Lethbridges farm, where the hut was suddenly surrounded & two Europeans were killed & one wounded before they had time to defend themselves - And the fourth man was severely wounded while defending the Hut after the others had fallen - his wife & children having been sheltered under the bed during the attack.   The natives succeeded in plundering [48] the adjacent huts, & retired in consequence of one of the Shepperds having ran towards Mr . Gunies for the Military - As per depositions taken on the spot & already forwarded to H: E: - on the alarm being given at Mr . Glennes ' The Mounted Police went in pursuit but did not find the natives.

Two days after this a party was formed consisting of a Magistrate, 5 military, 5 Europeans & 4 friendly native Blacks, who came up with the Murderers on the morning of the third day, when a skirmish took place, & one European was speared through the face: & it is supposed that two of the murderers were killed & some more wounded: as reported by a Black woman who was taken Prisoner.

Subsequently to this another attack was made upon 5 fencers in the employ of Dr Bowman: while at work they were alarmed by their dog barking when they [49] immediately seized their arms & fired upon the Blacks & it is supposed wounded one.

This is the last act of violence we have heard of.

It will be necessary to add that the disturbances are confined to the Upper Districts of Hunters River , principally occupied by 3 tribes; whose numbers we should suppose to exceed 500 -

These circumstances have all occurred within the last 10 months -


Report to the Govr: on the hostilities of the Black Natives

No 10



[1] For the trial of Lowe, see R. v. Lowe, 1827

Published by the Centre for Comparative Law History and Governance of Macquarie University, and State Records NSW