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Decisions of the Nineteenth Century Tasmanian Superior Courts

Notice 13 [1831]

Source: Hobart Town Gazette, 24 September, 1831

GOVERNMENT NOTICE
No. 196
Colonial Secretary's Office
Sept. 22, 1831

HIS EXCELLENCY THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR though still most desirous, that every possible means should be pursued, and persevered in to conciliate the ABORIGINES, being fully aware of the disastrous consequences, which in many instances have ensued, from the apprehension which is usually manifested on the approach of the Natives, has directed the following Letter from Captain Moriarty, J. P. detailing the successful resistance of a SINGLE FEMALE to their attacks, to be published, in order to show how easily these wretched People may be intimidated and driven off when they are opposed with coolness, presence of mind and determined resolution.
Dunorlan, August 25th, 1831.
Sir,
I have the honor to acquaint you for His Excellency's information that an Aboriginal Tribe attacked the Stock Hut of Mr. Stocker, on Monday the 22nd Instant, and speared a female child give years of age; and on Tuesday the 23rd, speared James Cubitt as the run of Mr. Gibson, this is the ninth time this unfortunate man has been speared, and he would certainly have been murdered in this instance, but for the promptitude and good conduct of Peter McGuire, a convict for 14 years, who arrived by the ship Bengal Merchant.
The circumstances connected with the former outrage seem to merit more particular mention, evidencing as they do how much can be effected even by Female resolution. There was no person in the Hut when the Natives first appeared, but a woman named Dalrymple Briggs with her two female Children, who hearing some little noise outside, sent the elder child to see what was the matter, and hearing her shriek, went out herself with a musket, on reaching the door she found the poor child had been speared; the spear entered close up in the inner part of the thigh and had been riven so far through as to create a momentary difficulty in securing the child from its catching against either door post; - having effected this object, she barricaded the door and windows, and availed herself of every opportunity to fire at the assailants, but as they kept very close, either to the chimney, or the stumps around the hut, and she had nothing but duck shot, with little effect, though she imagines she did hit one of them. Their plan was evidently to pull down the chimney and thus effect an entrance, but they were intimidated by her resolution. Finding this fail, they went off and returned again in about an hour; this interval had been employed by them in procuring materials and forming faggots, which on their return, they kept lighting and throwing on the roof (to windward) with a view to burn her out; she however shook them off as fast as they threw them on, and maintained her position with admirable composure, till the return of Thomas Johnson, the Stock-keeper, pointed out to them the necessary of a retreat.
When His Excellency learns that they were altogether six hours engaged in this attack, and had got even to the chimney before they were discovered, he will be able to appreciate the intrepidity and presence of mind which this woman has displayed. She reports that there were eight men at the hut, and that she saw a small mob going across the plain besides; Cubitt states that he saw about twenty, their number does not probably exceed this amount. As their track directed towards the locations higher up, on the first intimation, I despatched the Detachment stationed here, for the purpose of putting the Settlers in that quarter on their guard, and, as I had not heard of any further mischief, I trust in sufficient time effectually to do so.
His Excellency will be pleased to learn that there is no apprehension for either of the sufferers, both of whom I have seen, and I have the
Honor to be, Sir,
Your most obedient,
Humble Servant,
(Signed) WILLIAM MORIARITY,
J. BURNETT, Esq.,
Colonial Secretary
By His Excellency's Command,
J BURNETT.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University and the School of History and Classics, University of Tasmania