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Original Documents on Aborigines and Law, 1797-1840

Document 103

Original Document 103

Threlkeld's report on the aborigines and letter to Burton J.



Threlkeld 1st Feb


Report and

letter to

Burton J




  To His Honor                                                                            8th February 1839

Judge Burton                                                                             Lake Macquarie


My Dear Sir,

Respecting the slaughter of the 80 Blacks it was by the horse police in conjunction with the stockmen two of whom, Father and Son of the name of Evans, gave my son the information, he having hired them, after the transaction, of which he was not aware, they mentioned it as a mere matter of course.   Serjeant Temple, who commanded the police use since dead, and Evans and his son have left our service, but still reside at the [?], at least the father doth ; and if he could be got in the witness box and cross - examined would disclose reluctantly ; many things; he it is to whom I allude in the report of this year as something a black whose throat had been cut he told my son Joseph the circumstance, My son is now at the Gwyder {?}, and will not be home until March or April, so I cannot learn at present more particulars; and the men are now shy of speaking on the subject - I have no doubt of the truth of the statement, so many circumstances my son and Mr Arndell , Mrs T's brother, have witnessed in their travels in corroboration, although legal proof could not perhaps be obtained.   My son is 22 years of age and therefore capable of judging.  

            Respecting the ripping up the bellies & & page 161 My Son had the intelligence from Davey   the Black, when the Attorney General wishes to procure in evidence.   This Davey was with the party of stockmen, and had given to him and his brother, who also was with him and the two wretched little girls, who were so    inhumanely cut, both any men and son so all of them miserable plight, for they came with Davey and his brother and staid at the Station. [774] for a season. The Black had Davey informed Mr Arndell , and my son at the Gwyder of all the period transaction, and related that the last that was murdered, was an elderly woman whose throat was cut as she stood, and then let her run away, that the Blood spurted out when she fell.   They took her out, while yet alive and cast her into the triangular log fire, and her infant child they threw alive without any previous injury into the flames!   The Black Davey told it all with high glee, and mimicked the struggles of the dying victims in the fire, that there were hetwith 30 or [?] By Hughes account butchered as described.   When I related the massacre, (for this particular I only learned last week from Mr Arndell ) - to the Governor in lect last he referred me to Mr Day expressing a hope that it was the same transaction for which the men were in jail   and and saw Mr Day the Police magistrate, we compared the circumstances, and were both satisfied that it was a distinct massacre to the one in the indictment, but committed by the same men, of this result is compassion I informed the private secretary.   Mr Day also informed me of the number said to be slain 500 including Major Nunn's slaughter, and from various others I heard the same as a common report - The Rev Mr Wilton mentioned the number also to me, likewise Mr Cobb, where Major Nunn made his boast before a large party of "Popping off with his holster pistols the Blacks whenever one appeared from behind a tree." I have directed my Son to bring down Davey and his brother if possible, and he has blankets for distribution , which will induce him to appear if alive, for Mr Arndell , who was here last week , states that on his recent return from Gwyder he was informed by a Gentleman that Davey was put out of the way , but whether with his throat cut, or only hid, could not be ascertained. The Blacks communicate freely with Joseph because he speaks the language of these tribes fluently , and [775]   it amuses them to put him to rights by means of a Black who speaks both Dialects. It is dangerous to mention my authors, lest they should be shot in the interior, all their cattle be driven away purposely from the station.   The two persons in the last report mentioned as encamping at back Creek upon where the armed Blacks came were Joseph and Mr James Arndell , brother to Mr Thomas Arndell , whom you see in the jury list.   Mr A. also informs me that it is supposed that the two men belonging to the late Macdonald party disguised as Blacks, and are with every hostile Blacks teaching them the plaiting of whips, the slaying of cattle that taking out of the fat from the inside, which has been done to 500 of Mr Cobb's sheep, whilst not a carcass has been taken, this is not the straight forward work of hungry Blacks, but more the design of Europeans who can dispose of the fat without suspicion to the dray, which is now hawking rum up there at this very time!

            However, the combined office of Protector and Commissioner of lands will   [ ?] And Mr Main be a means of putting a stop to much evil, he has had an interview with the Blacks and informed them of his duties, which is well.

To shew there is a system in the warfare, even on the part of the Blacks - there was a lad, bringing a Bullock from one stock station to another in the hostile district, when as he was riding up the hill at the top and there stood the Blacks well armed, who had been to Mr Cobb's, the lad was alarmed and was about to flee, for Blacks called out to him not to be afraid, that they were not angry with him, or those at his station, but with those at another station; the lad mustered courage, rode up to [776] them conversed with them and pushed on without injury.   - Mr Arndell also informed me of a murder of a black at   Sir John Jamieson's station which with Mr Bell's station have the   Cagnomen [?] of "Murdering Station to which I allude in the 1830's report - At one or other if these stations , I am not yet certain which   - A man was sent to the Hawksbury , the time corresponds nearly with the murder of the white at Sir John's station , the man lost his way, expanded his rations, and was exhausted. A black found him, roasted unhappy [?] feel him and guided him him [sic] to the station. The Black went down to the creek or river where a party of Blacks were. The stockmen from the hut came down upon and fired amongst them, the Black, the guide, came up to the hut shortly afterwards to know why they fired at the Blacks who were peaceable; One of the stockmen took down his piece and shot him dead !   Mr G had this from a stockman   less cruel than his comrades   - Recently a person informed him that going down a gully in search of cattle, to his horror, he found a heap of human bones which by the skulls he supposed amounted to upwards of 30 who no doubt had been butchered there, nothing but the bones remained !

I was obliged to leave off to send my free servant with a bushranger to Newcastle, who appeared this   morning and having only three men here, prisoners, and no police, assistance nearer than Newcastle , although the Governor directed a Constable to be placed at the lake a [?] since, the intelligence that those armed bushrangers were out, was not most pleasing to me with a family if a daughter in this Bush , in the evening two of our men went to fish and the only man left at the hut , came running up stating [777] there were two strange men at the hut - they were gone   however when I went down with a brace of pistols, but the consequence was that I was obliged to watch but part of the night my free servant not returning from Newcastle from some unknown earner.

The men belong to the Lustra ' Cigr ' Company and not liking to be sent down to the coal mines absconded and they generally march to this lake where no policeman visits for months together, and to day, Saturday, we must be on the look out for runaways must be hungry, and no doubt will sneak about the place, and we have not strength to go and look after them. Happy for this land when the convict system shall cease, although the rich must then pay the labourer before he is hire. At present the poorer [?] of settlers are obliged to pay, this assignment is so very equal, although the regulations look pretty on paper, but working of it is a more farce.   However, this is a [?] to return to murderous subjects -

The destruction of the [?] Blacks by Sergeant Temple is perfectly distinct to the number mentioned as destroyed by Major Nunn although I thought they were the same until the Rev Mr Wilton and many others, informed me to the contrary, the massacre mentioned is also distinct from the one for which the men suffered although no doubt exists that though you were the parties who did it and many others, had one turned King's evidence the most horrid transaction would have been elicited.   As an officer it was the duty of Major Nunn to pressure his detachment whatever might be the result to his opponents, as a man and a Christian he should have abstained from the vain boasting, which may have exaggerated the numbers slain, but when the tribe was driven[778] into a swamp surrounded and fired at until destroyed and when it is said that the stench is intolerable from the carcasses of the slain, the number must be considerable and but known to those engaged in the slaughter.

I thank you kindly for your friendly offer to bear dispatch to my relatives in England , but I am alone in the Earth, all my relatives are deceased.   And to my friends I have just sent large communications by a friend in the Roslyn Cattle [?] , not Daebtor Long - My cart which took in the annual one posts [?] brought back your letter, it takes two days here for communications to go and return to post office Newcastle -

For some months past, sickness has prevented my leaving home both in myself, Mrs T., and family, Mrs T., is still very weak at present from the influenza and hooping cough, which has run through the family - Then my mission does not prosper             as I will it should, but it is [?] of him that willith   and I must submit without a murmur, but often at my almost dispirited, cast down, but not destroyed, like Wellington at Waterloo, I am compelled from a sense of duty to stand the steady fire of adversaries who say I am thoroughly beaten, but will not acknowledge it, and why?   Because I trust that at even tide there will be light, and though no Prussians [?] will appear on my behalf, whatever the German Legion may do, when God arises and touches the hearts of the remnant, I will "up and at them".

Indeed, I have a sort of suspicion that God allows the stage of the Blacks to be the most wretched, the most hopeless in order to shew that the work is his alone; Or infidels would say no wonder the Aborigines were converted, were they not in the midst of a civilised people and what   is wanting beside ?

God has placed me here, fed as it were by Ravens, who croak, at the bread and flesh bestowed morning and evening, and hardly that, and my duty is [779] to wait.   his Providence , although my encumbrances, increase year after year.   Through further paucity of my allowance from government, But hitherto as God help me and I trust that now entering into old age and grey headed in his service he will not forsake me.

In my annual reports, I carefully state the unvarnished truth, disregarding consequences, believing and trusting in God's providence, knowing that he whom I hope to serve until death, needs not my varnish to beautify, or affect his own work, and though government, he introduced to withdraw the present aid afforded me, which I expect will be the case, some other door will I trust be opened by him who doeth all things well.

I wish the Bishop could have made it convenient to visit the society Islands, where I am sure, the Missionaries would have received him with Christian friendship, although they called not recognize him in the character of an ecclesiastical superior, as missionaries, we know no man after the flesh, that receive any man that brings the Doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ.   I think he would have been gratified with the simplicity and godly sincerity of the events in those Islands .   But I regret exceedingly.   The advantage given to the Papists in introducing those rites, not commanded in the New Testament, amongst the Gentiles, and which have only a foundation in the Church of Rome, I allude to the conservation of the burial ground at New Zealand [?].   The Roman Catholic priests will take a very fair advantage of it to introduce other of their rites and then establish themselves amongst the natives; already the priests say we   the Catholics are the root,   the Church of England now the [?] corrupt Branches from our trunks! We kept out for the [?] Priests upon this principle laid down amongst the natives, namely that of the Lord Jesus Christ is the [780] only head of the church, that the church is complete in [?] And in the commandments, which he has given to the church as our law rule and guide its affairs, that no church has power to make its own laws, but only to submit to the laws already given in the New Testament, from which no one must take away, no one must add that they were informed that there was a church, an [?]   one, the church, the Rome, who made her own laws, and did not submit to the law of Christ, the consequence was the priests were not received according to the law of Christ, until the rival robber, the most Christ in Majesty the King of the French fulfilled in part for prophesies that he is one of the Kings of the earth making war against the followers of the lamb. and the Royal Rogue has pocketed the many, a mark, most certainly, of a liberal king!

But England in her conduct as a Protestant nation stands, self condemned to protect against the hope as the man of sin, and we pay the Pope's minions true promulgate, what we call, as a Protestant nation, "Dam Noble doctrines".   We not only receive him into our natural home, but we wish him God's speed, and support and encourage him in his evil deeds!   I fear God will kindle a fire in the Isles, and England in surely one, that will be severely felt when he [?], his enemies in the last battle of the gospel mentioned figuratively under Gog and Magoy [?] there is a broad distinction betwixt allowing civil and religious liberty, and supporting and encouraging Apostacy [?]. Are the three sisters of Charity to be salaried by a Protestant nation to convert our lasses into nuns in a country where the complaint is, there are too few females already? What limits are to be put, that we may not have another swarm of Jesuits to be supported , or of any denomination's that accept of the Government bounty. Should Jamieson Southcott rise from the dead in their banks or up from the [?] ,are her votaries to be supplied ? The present made cannot long exist. Wishing you a pleasant and safe passage believe me yours sincerely

L Threlkeld

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