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Original Documents on Aborigines and Law, 1797-1840

Document 55a

Original Document 55a 

James Glennie to R Scott re Aboriginals at Gwydir: murders by the blacks.

                                                                                    [308] Dulwich 21st November 1837 [1]

My Dear Scott,

            If something is not done with the Blacks of the Gwydir and beyond, we shall be driven from our stations. When I was up there shearing two men of Mr George Bowman's were murdered and this morning Mr Cobb's overseer arrived with the intelligence of two of Mr Cobbs man being killed by the Blacks and a quantity of his sheep. And in about ten days now I shall not be surprised to hear of some of Mr Robert Crawford's men being killed. At these three stations the men have endeavoured to make friends with the Blacks, and have got them to cut back for them - and of course the men have taken their gins, and the first time they have refused the Blacks anything they wanted [309] the Blacks have killed them. When I formed my stations I gave my overseer strict orders never to allow a Black to stop at any of my stations and the Blacks soon know them and in 18 months that I had been stationed there, a Black has not been seen except killing the cattle. Before Egan took charge of our cattle the stockman used to be armed at the different stations but as soon as they found that Egan was going about from station to station endeavouring to find out whether my Blacks had been killed by any of the white people, the stockman want to carry arms and from that time the Blacks have been particularly troublesome, before they were afraid to meet a stockman now they are found killing the cattle and dare the stockman to come near them. While I was up eight head of yours were killed by the Blacks. Brown meet 17 of them carrying the beef of one they had just killed to the mountains, and they [310]stopped, and told him if he did not go away they would spear him. They are keeping to your cattle now because they know that Egan would let the stockman prevent them. Now that you are in Sydney I think it would be as well to try and get something done. Some time ago it was said that a party of mounted police should be sent up if they could be rationed. That will not prevent these being sent up now for I have a good supply of flour sugar and tobacco up and I will ration them at contract price rather than be obliged to quit my station. I consider Egan's conduct during the time he was up there is the cause of a great deal of the trouble with the Blacks. He said he could not get your cattle into the yard. The reason was that he did not consider himself answerable for them till they had been in and he had counted them out - he stood at the slip pannel with a stick in his hand to count them in and of course the cattle would not face the yard. He told me there were about 400 head on the run. Two days before I left I sent my stockman to tell Mr Bean. I should muster his cattle in my own yard. The next day, and I must have [311] them in by eleven o'clock , Brown had gone after some stray cattle to Mr Little's and Donahue had gone to Mr Bell's station with a cow of Mr Little that he had taken up by mistake the first time the cattle went up - the next morning, I sent my stockmen to assist Mr Bean with the cattle, and by eleven o'clock the two men had got them into my yard without any other help. I counted them out and found there were 800 head besides a great number of calves. Mr Bean knew of 20 more being on the run that were not in. The cattle are looking very small considering they have been so much disturbed by the Blacks I told the men to keep what they had got together till they heard from you and to endeavour to collect the stray cattle. Of course you would consider Egan discharged when he marched off in the manner he did. As soon as you return to Glendon I will ride down and  talk over this business with you.

                                                                        Yours very truly

                                                                        Jas Glennie

Note

[1]We would like to thank volunteer Ron Hulme for his meticulous transcription and presentation of the above document.

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