Skip to Content

Original Documents on Aborigines and Law, 1797-1840

Document 50

Original Document 50

Proposed letter by Colonial Sec to Mr Townsend on the shooting of a native. June 1836 



Sir, I have recd & laid before His Excellency the Govr your letter dated the 11 th instant addressed to me & enclosing copies of the affidavits of James Smith, George Thomas & James Keey sworn before you on that day; and I am commanded to express His Excellency's satisfaction that the report referred to in you letter respecting the murder of two of you shepherds by the Black Natives, and also that of M r . John Wilbus Cattle station having been attacked by them proves to be incorrect.   At the same time His Excellency regrets to perceive that if the statement of Thomas be an attack was made upon his life by a native Black without any provocation being given or objectn attained by it and also if the statement of Smith be true that some cattle belonging to Mr Boydell [?] have been cruelly killed.

With reference to the affidavit of Kelly as to the mode in which a black man in the question of himself & Sweeny was shot by the latter   I am commanded to express to you His Excellency regret at that occurrence, since taking Kelly's statement to be true there would not appear from it to have existed & necessity for the act as would alone justify in law its commission whilst the previous [275] instances between those two men & two of the native females would give rise to the apprehension that some dispute relative to them might have ended in the Black's death.   His Excellency would desire therefore that the correctness of Kelly's statement should be ascertained by such means as may still remain and especially if it be now practicable inspection of the remains whether the mode in which The Black appears to have been actually killed corresponds with the statement of Kelly as to his having been shot in the act of running away.

Such occurrences as these will His Excellency trusts, deeply impress upon the minds of all persons whose situations bring them   into personal intercourse with the Aboriginal; natives of this Colony the necessity of the utmost caution being to prevent both their aggressions upon the property of the colonists and any act of aggression by the latter or their servants upon them.   Since it must be borne in mind that they are equally amenable to punishment for any offence committed by them & their persons equally under the protection of the law [276] [crossed out section begins here] Subjects & any offence duly proved to have been committed upon any of them must subject the Offender to the same consequences that any offence duly proved to have been committed by any of them must [sic?] subject the [ Conv ?] to similar circumstances. [ crossed out section ends here]

[277] Private

23 rd June 1836

enclosed letter by Colonial Secretary to M r . Townsend on the shooting of a Native Black by one of his servants

No 50


[1] The extracts that have been crossed out in this short piece have not been transcribed because of the difficulty of the handwriting. Please refer to original.

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