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Original Documents on Aborigines and Law, 1797-1840

Document 33

Original Document 33

R Scott Esq. to Col. Sec on the ill-treatment of a native. Sketch provided. Brutal attack in revenge for Aborigines having tracked a bushranger.


Glendon Hunters River

30th Nov 1833


It is again my painful duty to report another act of brutal atrocity. Two Aboriginal Natives came to me this morning & complained that " Jimmey ", one of their party, had been exceedingly ill used by a white man during the night. I accompanied them to the bottom of one of my Paddocks, about 70 chains from Glendon , & there found the above named Black, with his face cut and broken in three places, as tho with the sharp part of an axe - the teeth both above and below knocked out of his head & both Jaw Bones broken & there is a cut over the left eye.

I made enquiry among the natives, & their account of it is this, that about sun set the evening previous a stout large man came to their camp, & stayed with them but a short time; the natives thinking [135] him to be a man of mine they went to sleep. - And "Joe Priest" (a Black) was awoken by a violent blow upon the back, when he jumped up & a man aimed a blow at his head with an axe, which grazed his temple and fell upon his arm. As "Joe Priest" escaped "Jimmy" awaked, & the man struck him as he rose with the sharp part of the axe & the Black fell - and the man struck him several times after he was down - The man then seized the musket which Mr . Wydham had lent to "Joe Priest" & made off.

"Joe Priest" & "Jimmy" were sleeping together - the former having the Gun under his head. At the time of the attack the Moon was shining & the time probably 11 o C.

From the description given of the man by the Blacks, I am confident it is Herbert Owen, Pr Ship Exmouth, a runaway from Mr Kelman - this man has repeatedly been in the Bush; and on one occasion with arms in his hands, took away a whole flock of sheep from a shepherd, threatening to blow his brains out and I am satisfied he is present at Mr George Sparke's robbery on the morning of there 12th Instant. [In margin "This man is an accomplice of Riley and the other man lately apprehended"]

The natives have complained to me that the Convicts at several of the farms had threatened to murder with a large axe, the Blacks who had tracked the Bushrangers on the late occasion - And I think Owen (Mistaking the Blacks) committed the deed last night quite as much to gratify revenge as to obtain fire arms - for had the man desired arms alone, he could easily have taken the Gun, without pushing the matter to the length he did.

If I may be allowed to offer a suggestion I would respectfully recommend a high reward being put upon Owen's capture. For altho ' he is a coward at heart, his personal strength & ferocity are great & have established for himself a character which few men would seek to encounter - and independent of this, his connexions [sic?] are so extensive in these Districts, & the terror of his name so great, that there will be much difficulty in inducing people to [137] give information against him or to attempt his capture.

And Owen is the last of the desperate Gang of ten men, who commenced their career with such marked atrocity."

I have the honor to be


Your Most Obedient Humble Servant

Rob Scott

30 Nov 1833

To the Colonial Secretary

reporting the ill-usage of Jimmy, the black fellow.

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