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Original Documents on Aborigines and Law, 1797-1840

Document 66

Original Document 66

Threlkeld's letter to Mr Justice Burton on the treatment of native women by the convicts.

[370] [1] Chief Constable Rouse of Newcastle informed me on Saturday last the 26 th inst that three Black women named Kitty, Yellow Mary Ann, and Pinkey, all belonging to Newcastle, had been taken up the country by the Australian Company's drays to their station at Liverpool Plains, and have been murdered by the Blacks at that place. This brought to my recollection a circumstance which occurred last year witnessed by two of my Servants connected with this very case. Robert Evans, free, and Thomas Chester my assigned servant were bringing down cattle for our family use, and on Sunday forenoon, about 11 Oclock, preceeding [sic] the races at Maitland. Thomas Chester states now to me that they stopped at a place about a mile beyond Patrick's Plains, where they found one or two of Mr. Cox's men with cattle, and a Company's dray loaded. One armed Bill and another man were in charge of it. There were also Kitty the Black-girl, and Yellow Mary Ann. The men asked my two men to assist raising the dray whilst they greased the wheels. Kitty in the meantime rode one of our horses. When the dray was greased, One armed Bill ordered her off the horse, she then dismounted crying, and saying she wished to go back to her friends. Chester said she could not go back with them, as they had cattle. One armed Bill then said to her, Kit you had better go with me to look for the lost bullocks. She replied, she would not go, for she did not intend to go any further with him. He then said, I will see whether you will not [371] Madam, taking at the same time the end of a rope about 6 inches round, and beat her on the back and across the neck several times. Chester then interfered saying don't beat the poor girl, may be she will go with you. Bill then ran at Chester exclaiming you B---- so you want to take the woman away, making a blow at him on the side of the head, with his fist, Chester in getting away fell over a log and the Bill kicked him in falling. Chester recovered himself ran to his horse and got out of the way. Both Kitty and Bill, Chester states, were intoxicated. The man with Bill did not interfere and Evans defended himself from assault by his whip. Chester intended to complain to the bench at Patrick's Plain, but Evans persuaded him not lest they should be molested on the road by way of retaliation. I have enquired frequently after the above Black young woman of the Black's at Newcastle , and believe that they never returned from that period. One armed Bill is an assigned servant to the Australian Agricultural Company, Thomas Chester is my assigned servant, but the Lad, Evans is not now in my employ.

May 29 th 1838                                                                                      L. E. Threlkeld


Lake Macquarie


[372] The Honorable                                                                             May 29 th   1838

Judge Burton                                                                             Ebenezer Lake Macquarie


Dear Sir

                        The enclosed information was communicated to me on Saturday last, and as the last trace of the unfortunate woman can perhaps be legally traced to the place and person mentioned therein, an enquiry might expose practices which occasion outrages if set on foot by legal Authority. I have taken the liberty therefore of handing you a copy of the statement now forwarded to the Governor for his consideration. There is a something mysterious in the business, as One armed Bill gave information of a murder to the Police at Newcastle which after much trouble proved only a hoax.

I remain

            Dear Sir

            Yours Respectfully

                                                                                                            L.E. Threlkeld


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

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