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Original Documents on Aborigines and Law, 1797-1840

Document 60

Original Document 60 

Murder of Mr Faithful's men by the blacks.

[337] [1]

The duty of the Magistrate will be to inquire on the spot into all the circumstances of the case - particularly the circumstances that preceded the Murder.

Whether the Parties had been in presence of each other for any considerable time before the attack.

Whether any previous hostility had been shewn and in such case the supposed course of it.

Whether it appeared an act of rapine only, or an act of retaliation for any wrong or supposed wrongs in the part of the Blacks.

Whether the Party attacked had with them any Black women at the time [338] of the attack or at any time previously.

Whether there were any grounds for supposing that any other party that had traversed the same road, had ever carried with them black women, or had any intercourse with them on their passage.

The Police Magistrate is also to inquire whether any, and what resistance was offered by Mr Faithfull's men. As there were eighteen of them with fire-arms - it is presumed in their hands - it is strange to suppose that they allowed themselves to be slaughtered without resistance. In the event of their having used their fire-arms, or made resistance in any shape, the Magistrate will of [339] course endeavour to ascertain the number of Blacks that may have been killed. The most important duty that the Police Magistrate has to perform however, will be to give directions to the Officer of Mounted Police as to the pursuit and capture of the persons who may have committed the recent outrage.

In executing this very important duty, the Police Magistrate will bear in mind that the black natives of New South Wales are in every respect to be considered subjects of the Queen and not as aliens against whom the Queen's Troops may exercise belligerent rights.

[340] No act of indiscriminate reprisal is therefore to be sanctioned against the tribe or tribes which may have been concerned in the late murders - but proceedings are to be adopted similar to what the laws of England would authorise if any company of depredators or murderers had been guilty of similar atrocities. The endeavours of the Police are   first of all to be directed to secure the persons or as many individuals concerned in the murderers as can be identified, - and if any can be secured in this way, the object of the enterprise should be considered as accomplished. If none [341] can be identified or secured, other individuals not exceeding the number of the men murdered may be secured, and amongst them it would be desirable that the persons of some of their Chiefs should be included. The Party under the orders of the Police Magistrate or Officer of Mounted Police is not to make use of their fire-arms or other weapons except in self-defence - and then only to the extent that may be absolutely necessary for their own protection or for the capture of the prisoners whom they are to secure.

In the event of any [342] distant pursuit being deemed necessary, the Police Magistrate will not be required to join it - but he will be expected to give directions for the conduct of it - and as to the distance within which it is to be limited.

April 28th 1838

[343] April 28th 1838

Murder of Mr

Faithful's men

by the blacks.

No. 60


[1][Marginal note:] These instructions addressed to the Police Magistrate of Goulburn were inclosed in a letter from the Colonial Secretary by which he was instructed to proceed with an officer and 13 men of the Mounted Police to the spot where Mr Faithful's men were attacked.

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