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New South Wales Government Report on The Aborigines Question, 1838

Note: some of following documents are not proof read, and the record is not complete.

Last updated 18/04/2006














12th October, 1838,






“The present state of the Aborigines”


No. 23

Tuesday, 14th August, 1838

Aborigines Question: Motion made, and Question put, That a Committee be appointed to inquire into the present state of the Aborigines, and to take Evidence, particularly as to the consequence of their intercourse with the Colonists, and the results of the efforts that have been made to introduce Civilization, Education, and Christianity amongst them; and to inquire into the state, progress, and effects of the several Missions now employed amongst the Aboriginal tribes.    Passed. ,    Moved, that the various documents relative to the subject of the intercourse with the Aborigines, laid by the Governor before the Council, on Friday last, be referred to the Committee."                                                                                                 .   '

.  .                 .              Committee APPOINTED:—






Appointed to inquire into the present state of the Aborigines, and to take Evidence, particularly at to the consequence of their intercourse with the Colonists, and the results of the efforts that have been made to introduce Civilization, Education, and Christianity amongst them; and to inquire into the state, progress, and effects of the several Missions now employed amongst the Aboriginal tribes.                                                                                      . .

YOUR Committee have proceeded, so far as their opportunities have enabled them, to examine evidence for the purpose of ascertaining the existing condition of the Aborigines of this colony; and have the honour to lay before the Council, the information which they have collected.   Within the time which it has been in the power of the Committee to allot to the discharge of the duty entrusted to them, it has not been possible to obtain the testimony, of so many witnesses as it might be desirable to interrogate, upon a subject so interesting to humanity, and so vitally connected with the welfare of the colony.   Neither have they been enabled to direct their own attention so closely to the different points requiring examination, or to be able conscientiously to pronounce an opinion, or to recommend the adoption of any particular course.   Upon one subject only, have they after full consultation arrived at any agreement; and that subject is, the proposition which has been made for the removal to this colony of those natives of Van Diemen's Land, who are now located on Flinders' Island.   It is not desirable, in the opinion of your Committee, that this suggestion should be complied with.   Not to enter into a detail of all the reasons which have impelled them to form this conclusion, your Committee deem it enough to state that the measure in question would entail an Expense upon the inhabitants of the colony … at the imminent risk of exposing them to acts of violence and rapacity on the part of the Aborigines, similar to those by which the colony of Van Diemen’s Land was formerly devastated, and rendered almost untenable by the white population. The natives now assembled on Flinders island, are the relics of the men by whom those ravages were perpetrated; and there is but little doubt, may themselves have been personally engaged in acts of violence, rapine and murder. It is impossible to say that the seeds of the same evil disposition may not be lurking within their minds … &c. &c. W.G.AUSTRALIA. Chairman.” [5]


“The spirit of acquisition, and consequent civilization.”


Letter from the Colonial Secretary of Van Diemen's Land, to the Colonial Secretary of New South Wales, stating that Mr. G. A. Robinson  is empowered to make arrangements for the removal to New Holland, of the Aboriginal Natives at Flinders Island, and that Sir John Franklin is prepared to meet in a liberal manner in question of the expense of their future support and to co-operate in every measure for their welfare.

Van Diemens Land, Colonial SECRETARY’S Office,

22nd August 1838.


I have the honor by direction of Sir John Franklin, to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 17lh ultimo, transmitting copy of a Despatch, dated 31st January last, from the Right Honorable the Secretary of Slate for the Colonies, addressed to his Excellency Sir George Gipps, relative to the adoption of some plan for the better protection and civilization of the native tribes within the limits of the Government of New South Wales.


I am to inform you that the Lieutenant Governor had been honored, on the 28th June last, by a copy of the Despatch above alluded to, in a communication addressed to him by Lord Glenelg, in which His Lordship intimated his desire that the situation of Chief Protector of Aborigines should be offered to Mr. G. A. Robinson, at present in charge of the Aborigines Establishment at Flinder's Island … enclosures … exhibit the wish of the Natives themselves to proceed to New Holland.  


Mr. Robinson is fully empowered by Sir John Franklin to make any arrangement which may meet the concurrence of Sir George Gipps, for the removal of the Aborigines from Flinders Island to New Holland ; His Excellency has after very mature consideration arrived at the opinion that such a measure will meet the calls of humanity towards the Van Diemen's Land Natives themselves, and of policy towards the British settlers, In the increased safety they may expect by the intermixture of the domesticated Blacks with the less civilized tribes, and the consequent decrease of hostility on the part of the latter towards the Whites. Under such an impression, the Lieutenant Governor is prepared to meet the question of expense attending the support of the Natives after their removal from Flinders Island, in the spirit of liberality and fairness with which he had no doubt Sir George Gipps will entertain it.

As a principle upon which to determine the amount to be paid by this Colony, the Lieutenant Governor would propose that a certain sum should be charged to Van Diemen's Land, for the keep of each one of the Aborigines ; but, to prevent unnecessary trouble in the accounts, the money to be received by the Sister Colony should be calculated for each ten, not for each individual, thus, their number is now 86, imagine it 90, and this Colony will have to pay nine times the amount agreed upon for supporting ten Natives, for so long as their numbers shall remain above 80, but in the event of their being reduced to 80, then eight times only the amount agreed upon for ten will have to be paid, and so on in proportion to their increase or reduction.


It is proposed that as soon as Mr. Robinson shall have definitively arranged with His Excellency Sir George Gipps, and returned to Hobart Town, this Government will take up a large vessel, and remove the natives  to  whatever part of New Holland it shall be determined to send them, accompanied of course by Mr. Robinson and family, and any thing now at Flinders Island the property of the Natives, including the flock of sheep they possess, and any moveables which Mr. Robinson may consider worth the removal, for their use will also be shipped … In the same manner the Lieutenant Governor would desire to leave to Sir George Gipps, the arrangements for the flock of sheep, the property of the Natives, now depasturing on Flinder's Island and the neighbouring Islands,


They amount to 1,300, and will as already observed, be removed with their owners, a proceeding from which other advantages might subsequently spring, as exhibiting to the Natives of New Holland the new comers in the light of possessors-of property, and perhaps not improbably leading to the excitement in the former, of the spirit of acquisition and consequent civilization.


I am to observe, that Sir John Franklin, reposing every confidence in Mr. Robinson's experience and judgment, will leave it to him to enter into such arrangements with Sir George Gipps, as His Excellency may consider advisable for carrying out the humane in­tentions of Her Majesty's Government in the creation of the Office of Chief Protector, as far as they may be Influenced by the introduction of the domesticated Natives from Flinders Island, amongst their less civilized brethren in New Holland … the Lieutenant Governor is not prepared to consider that the claims of the Van Diemen's Land Aborigines, upon this Colony, will cease with their removal from its Territories, but will at all times feel it his duty to adopt any suggestions for their welfare.

1 have the honor to be, &c..                   JOHN MONTAGU,

K. Deas Thomson, Esq., Colonial Secretary.” [4]



Monday, 10 September 1838.

MR. G. A. ROBINSON.................................... 

Thursday, 20 September, 1838. 

ROBERT SCOTT, Esq...................................... 15

Friday, 21 September, 1838.

REV. L. E. THRELKELD................................ 19

LIEUTENANT R. SADLIER, R.N.......................... 27

Tuesday, 25 September, 1838. 

MR. JOHN HARPER,.................................... 52

MRS. SHELLEY,......................................... 54



Monday, 10 September 1838.



Mr. G. A. Robinson, Chief Protector, called in and examined :—

I HAVE recently received the appointment of Chief Protector of the Aborigines in New Sooth Wales. The duties of that station are generally explained by its title or denomination; but I am not as yet fully aware of what they particularly consist in, otherwise than as I hare gleaned from the dispatch of the Secretary of State, notifying the appointment. I hare been at Port Phillip about eighteen months ago; that it the only part of New South Wales which I hare visited previously to the present occasion.

I hare been between twelve and thirteen years resident in Van Diemen's Land; and daring the last ten years have had frequent opportunities of association and intercourse with the Aborigines of that island.

My first connexion with those natives arose from a proposition which I submitted  in the beginning of 1829, to Colonel Arthur, at that time Lieutenant-Governor of the Island, proposing that I should undertake a conciliatory mission to communicate with the Aborigines; from an impression which I felt that conciliation would afford the only means of allaying the hostile spirit which then existed.

The spirit of hostility among the Aborigines was universal throughout the colony, so much so, that military parties, were stationed for the protection of the settlers in the various districts, and parties of the civil force perambulated the settled districts to prevent the incursions of the natives, or if possible, to apprehend them.

These measures proved abortive; and the great measure of arming the whole population of the island was equally unavailing. Before the military cordon was drawn across the south-east angle of the island, with the view of driving the Aborigines into Tasman's peninsula, I had been nine months engaged with uniform success in a conciliatory mission to the several tribes of the colony, with all of whom, excepting the Big River, Oyster Bay, and Stony Creek, I had communication. After the abandonment of military operations, or towards the close of them, I received instructions from the Lieutenant-Governor, to effect the removal from the main land of the tribes in the north, if it could be accomplished with their own consent. I succeeded in obtaining that consent, arid the whole of one tribe was removed, under my charge to Swan Island, near Cape Portland, in Bass' Strait. Subsequently I engaged, by direction of Government, in another similar expedition, the result of which was, the removal of the Stony Creek, Big River, and Oyster Bay tribes (three of the most sanguinary in the island), to Great Island, otherwise called Flinders' Island, where the depot was finally established; the tribe which had been placed in Swan Island, having been also removed to the same place with the other three. The whole of these four  tribes were removed, men, women, and children.

After this I entered upon a third expedition, by which I effected the removal to Flinders' Island, of one tribe on the North, and another on the West coast. I went out again on a fourth expedition, and succeeded in removing to the general depot the tribes on the whole of the West: finally the numbers assembled, on the island were from 200 to 250 brought in by myself, and a few more who were captured by different parties in Van Diemen's Land.

I am convinced that this comprised the entire native population of that island, except one family, which still remains in the interior, and have been communicated with twelve months since by my son. They are peaceable, and it is considered right to allow them to remain. This family consists of six: the father, mother, and four children.  I was examined in 1831, before the Executive Council in Van Diemen's Land, upon the subject of the Aborigines.

I recollect having then represented the disposition evinced by them towards the white population as extremely hostile.

They were exceedingly daring in their attacks both on persons and property. They were extremely insidious in their attacks on dwelling-houses and individuals. They both plundered and set 6re to dwelling-houses when the inmates were in them, whom they attacked with the intention of destroying them, as well as plundering the premises.

I cannot enumerate the murders which were committed by the natives on white persons, but I know they were very numerous. . I believe, speaking from recollection, that one Coroner sat on the bodies of twenty-eight.

It was dangerous to allow any natives near a habitation : it was not possible to guard against their ravages: military force was quite ineffective. I stated before the Executive Council, and now repeat my opinion, that an entire army could not have subjugated these few miserable people, unless the whole country had been cleared of the forest.

When the natives were all assembled on Flinders' Island, in 1635, I took charge of them, and have continued to do so ever since. I did not find them retaining that ferocious character which they had displayed in their own country. They showed no hostility, or even hostile recollection towards the whites.

Unquestionably those natives assembled on the island were the same who had been engaged in the outrages I have spoken of; many of them, before they were removed, pointed out to me the spots where murders and other acts of violence had been committed. They made no secret of acknowledging their participation in such acts: and only considered them as a just retaliation for wrongs done t« them or to their progenitors.

On removal to the island, they appeared to forget all these facts. They could not of course fail to remember them, but never recurred to them: and no mention was made of former transactions by myself, except for the purpose of eliciting information, and I did not permit them to be made the subject of conversation between the natives and the persons connected with the establishment under my charge.

I should certainly have objected to their being restored to their own country, unless placed under proper protection: otherwise I would have thought it dangerous; because, from the nefarious character of the stockmen and herdsmen, with whom they must have come in collision, the natives must have suffered aggression, and so hostilities would have been revived. The experiment was partly tried by my taking as my companions, during a tour in Van Diemen's Land, some of the most ferocious of the chieftains, as well as their people, who were uniformly docile, and made not the slightest attempt to escape, but were faithful and of the greatest service.

Being always under my protection, they encountered no ill-treatment; but I would hare strongly objected to their being allowed to take their own course, to as to expose themselves to the ill-usage of evil-disposed persons among the whites.

There has been a great mortality among the natives since they were placed on the island, insomuch, that there remain at this time only eighty-one of all ages and sexes; among these are some of those who were engaged in the acts of violence in Van Diemen's Land from which the settlers suffered so severely.

I am aware that it has been proposed to remove the existing tribes from the island in which they have been confined, to the continent of New Sooth Wales.

I think it would be most desirable, and equally practicable, to keep them still under my protection and observation when thus removed; and this is what I would trust to for the prevention of ganger which might arise from the transplantation of the Flinders' Island tribes to this colony, if their former habits of animosity to the whites were to be revived; but of this I have not the slightest apprehension.

I ground this assurance upon the civilization which has been effected, and has now become habitual.

I think it so habitual, that they would not now be led to associate upon the footing , of their native customs with the Aborigines of this country.

In Flinders' Island they have taken to handicraft and sedentary employments, almost as a matter of necessity; but for their general employment, when circumstances , snail admit of it, I would deem a pastoral occupation better suited.

I am fully aware that there have been natives of this colony who hare been so far civilized, as to adopt for a time, the European style of dress and living, who yet, when opportunity offered, have gone back to their native and erratic kind of life, and have shown that they were not permanently or effectually weaned from the love of their original mode of life. Instances of the same kind, indeed numerous ones, hare come to my knowledge in Van Diemen's Land; but these results have not occasioned me any surprise.

The Flinders' Island people, if removed to this country, would exist at a community ; that is the chief check I should expect to operate against their return to the habits of a savage life; but in a foreign country that it not at all to be apprehended.

By a foreign country, I mean that this is not the land of their nativity, though it be in character very similar, and the pursuits of the Aborigines here are very similar to those they have been accustomed to. They themselves deny that they are of the same race.

I must admit it to be possible, though I think it by no means probable, that any bad results would accrue by the translation of the natives at Flinders' Island to New Holland.

If any symptoms of hostility were to be manifested by the Aboriginal natives of this colony in consequence of the introduction of the others, I would think that an attempt to subjugate them by force, in so widely extended and thickly wooded a country would fail under any circumstances. My plan would be to conciliate.

I do not apprehend more difficulty in carrying on a system of conciliation among the natives, in consequence of the wider extent of this country, compared with Van Diemen's Land, as I could follow them up more easily here in consequence of the country being more accessible.

Flinders' Island is about 200 miles in circumference, very sterile, and covered principally with scrub, but having some timber on it.

I accompanied the first tribe of Van Diemen's Land natives to that island, and formed the establishment there.

I had no military with me; I did not consider such necessary.

I regarded the natives as rational beings, and treated them as such. 

When I first effected a communication with the Big River and Oyster Bay tribes, they were informed that they were to be deported to a neighbouring island, where they would be protected, cared for, and taught civilised habits, the same as the whites, to which arrangement they consented, and placed themselves under my protection, never attempting to leave me, or even to hunt without my permission.

Prior to their removal, some of the tribes were hostile to each other, and I experienced great difficulty in preventing them from coming into collision.

The Government of Van Diemen's Land has hitherto borne the expense of the establishment, amounting to about £3000 per annum; but I think they would do better on this continent, than they would if sent back to their native land, although I feel assured, that the race cannot be preserved anywhere.

My reason for thinking that they would do better here, is, that they suffer from pulmonary complaints, and this climate is better suited to their constitutions; besides which, I consider that a return to Van Diemen's Land, would produce such excitement , of mind as would be prejudicial to their health.

I entertain no fear of their wandering away and joining the native tribes in the vicinity of Port Phillip. . 

I propose forming my establishment on the banks of some river, some short distance from Melbourne, where they can keep their sheep and live stock, and where I expect  the same system can be pursued as at Flinders Island.

I think that the comfort which will be witnessed by the surrounding tribes, who will, in all probability visit the establishment, may be the means of inducing them to adopt a similar mode of life, in which case additional establishments might be formed under the Assistant Protectors.

The removal of the blacks from Flinders Island is necessary on the score of humanity; but I think that it would prove of the greatest utility to the Aborigines of this continent, if they were set down amongst them.

The latter, indeed, is the primary object I have in view by recommending it; for I do not expect that the Flinders' Island people will increase, there being only six young women amongst them, and of twelve children born in the last three years, eight have died, and the death of two others may shortly be expected; their utter extinction may consequently be looked forward to, at no very distant period.

On the other hand, much good must be derived by the New Holland natives, from the example set them by the establishment, which would form a nucleus.

In fact, no mischief could, by possibility happen by their removal; and I feel perfectly free from all apprehension of danger to ourselves from the Aborigines in the neighbourhood, even if we were unarmed and unprotected, as I purpose we shall be; but should there be any doubt on this subject, one half of the people might be removed at first by way of experiment.

I would however, myself, recommend the removal of the entire party at once, and must confess., that it will be to me a most serious disappointment if the measure is not adopted, as it will destroy all the plans which I have formed, and the hopes which I entertain, of conferring essential benefits on the natives of this colony; and if, by intercourse with them I am able (as I hope I shall be), to produce a moral feeling  amongst them, to teach them to know right from wrong, and induce them to look upon the whites with s friendly instead of an hostile eye, whereby the colony at large will be benefited, from the security to life and property which will be given to the settler; sorely some return will have been made for the expense they may be called upon to bear..

The language of the natives is very difficult to acquire, from the extraordinary number of words which it contains; and and each of the Van Diemen's Land tribes speaks a distinct language, I was under the necessity of acquiring a knowledge of at least four, before I could communicate freely with those under my charge; and to show that they are distinct languages, and not separate dialects—the word fire, is, on the south, urie; on the west, lopa; on the north, pathrola, and on the east, wiata and wenda. Also with their canoes, four different words are used without any similarity.

In fact, when brought together, the tribes do not understand each other.

On the establishment being first set down at Port Phillip, it must be supported by the Government, but as soon as it can be done, it is intended they should support themselves, principally from the produce of their flocks, and from tillage and other labour.

I propose that the same system shall be pursued with those tribes to which an Assistant Protector may be attached; and I am of opinion, that there will be no greater difficulty in introducing civilization amongst these tribes, than was experienced in connexion with those of Van Diemen's Land.

I feel averse to giving any opinion as to the best method of proceeding to attain the great object I have in view, until I shall have made a general tour among the native tribes in the interior.

There are only thirty male adults of the Flinders' Island blacks; of these, nine were my constant attendants in travelling through Van Diemen's Land, and not one ever attempted to leave me. Some of them will accompany me in any tour I may make here, as I consider them infinitely more serviceable on a mission, than white men. 


Copies of Letters from Mr. G. A. Robinson, to John Montagu, Esq , Colonial Secretary of Van Diemen's Land, on the subject of the removal of the Natives at Flinder's Island, to the South Coast of New Holland.

No. I.


Hobart Town, October 27, 1836.

I have the honour to submit, for the information of the Lieutenant Governor, the following particulars relative to the Aborigines who are domiciled on Flinders' Island, and now confided to my charge : and being fully sensible that His Excellency is not only anxious, but desirous, to be made acquainted with every incident, plan, and proposition, that can in any way bear upon this subject, and which is the more necessary and urgent, since His Excellency is now upon the eve of taking his final departure from this colony.

I beg, therefore, previously to entering thereupon, to premise, that notwithstanding many of the points to be brought under consideration have been before adverted to in my previous communications, which I have had the honour from time to time to submit to the Government; yet, from a recent communication made to me, containing an extract of a dispatch from the Right Honourable the Secretary of State, wherein it would appear that this subject is not fully comprehended; I feel impelled, respectfully, to bring it again under notice.

The point to which I would advert, in the first instance, as being of the utmost consequence, is, the translation of the remnant tribes of the Van Diemen's Land Aborigines now domiciled at Flinders' Island, to a central station on the South Coast of Australia.

It is now about twelve months since I had (he honour to submit a statement to the Government, containing a brief outline of a plan for the amelioration of the Aborigines of New Holland; and in my subsequent communications which 1 have had the honour to transmit, I have also occasionally adverted thereto: yet, after the most intense reflection and reconsideration, I am still of opinion that the most judicious course to be adopted, is the one I have before had the honour to recommend, and that it is, moreover, the one in which the greatest possible good would be comprehended.

I am quite unacquainted with the ground of objection in reference to the removal of the Van Diemen's Land Aborigines to New Holland, but presume that the only reason that can be urged in disfavour of the measure, is the circumstance of their being foreigners, and the inimical feeling likely to accrue therefrom. Another ground of objection might also be considered, viz.: their decidedly hostile feelings towards the whites, which was so unequivocally marked whilst in their native districts.

The above being the principal objections, it will be quite unnecessary to advert to others of minor importance.

With reference to the above objections, I would observe, that the most hostile of the Aborigines are now defunct, and from the decidedly conciliatory feeling evinced by . the residue, together with the paucity of their numbers, not the slightest apprehension need be entertained as to their coming in collision. And, moreover, as the principal cause of unfriendly feeling and animosity has generally arisen from an improper interference with the women of the country, no fear need exist of such a result, as the Van Diemen's Land Aborigines have a preponderance of the female sex.

I would observe that in my frequent conferences with the natives, they have not only shown a willingness, but have expressed a most ardent desire, to be so employed, and assured me that they would be able to propagate the principles of civilization which they had acquired ; and from my long acquaintance with, and knowledge of these people, and their aptitude to acquire .language, the greatest possible good might be hoped for, and I feel persuaded that they would not only be willing, but efficient, auxiliaries, in this benevolent undertaking.

For the further elucidation of this subject it may be necessary to bring under review, the present Aboriginal population now domiciled at Flinders' Island, and proposed to be removed. The entire numbers, including men, women, and children, are about 120 of these there are about sixty males (forty-nine of whom are adults), several of them are aged, and the whole of them are now civilized. From fifteen to twenty of these individuals hare accompanied me at different periods on my Missionary duties on the main, and the fidelity and attachment they invariably evinced, is assuredly a sufficient guarantee for their future good conduct; for it must be apparent, that if they had been disposed to be unfaithful, and to abscond, they would have been more likely to do so in their own native country than in a foreign land, where the natives are not only superior in prowess, but overwhelming in numbers.

I am by no means surprised that objections should be raised to the translation of the Flinders Island Aborigines to the adjacent coast of New Holland. The hostile character evinced by the people at a former period, is sufficient to justify such a conclusion, but as it will be presumed that I would not recommend a measure of doubtful character, or one that I had not just grounds for pre-supposing could be carried into effect, since the proposition on my part, is perfectly gratuitous and unsought for, and one in which (in case of a failure) my reputation would be impugned, I do hope, that the measures I have now the honour to propose, or may hereafter submit, may be duly considered, and trust that it will be conceded that I have no other end in view than that of humanity.

There are other and numerous reasons that might be adduced in favour of the measure, both as regards the Van Diemen's Land Aborigines as well as those amongst whom they might domicile.

In reference to the Van Diemen's Land natives, it would be the best possible measure that could be adopted; it would enable them to pursue the pleasures of the chase whenever their inclinations led them to do so, and which at Flinders' Island they are now deprived of: and the continual visits of the Australian natives to the settlement, would tend to beguile the ennui with which they are liable to be afflicted. Moreover, being far removed from their native country, they would be less liable to mental irritation; as at their present abode the hills of Van Diemen's Land are distinctly visible, and are therefore apt to kindle and keep alive in their minds, recollections connected with their former habits and mode of life, which would be obviated by the adoption of the measures now under consideration.

No. 11

Hobart Town, October 28, 1836.


In reference to my communication of yesterday's date, relative to the translation of the Flinder's Island Aborigines to the South Coast of New Holland, and the adoption of a scheme for their mutual protection and general amelioration, I do myself the honour to submit the subjoined particulars, in continuation, and which 1 hope may tend to the elucidation of a subject, of all others the most important, and one in which the interests and welfare of a numerous and hitherto neglected portion of the human race is involved. 

Having in my previous communications not only shown that no danger need be apprehended from the translation of the Van Diemen's Land Aborigines to New Holland, but on the contrary, that a reciprocity of benefit would simultaneously accrue, I propose to adduce, in support of this subject, such considerations as may illustrate this fact, as well as the measures to be adopted for its attainment. I trust it will be conceded that the gathering in of the remnant tribes of the Van Diemen's Land Aborigines, their ultimate removal, the protection and provision afforded them, with the astonishing and marked results that have taken place, are, and must necessarily be quite providential, a fact which I think the most sceptical will readily admit, and which I feel assured will be to the mind of every Christian philanthropist, a source of the highest possible gratification, and a refutation to the unjust and cruel calumnies propagated against this portion of the human family, and establishes the fact, that these people, as well as others of a similar character, are capable of mental improvement, provided proper and judicious measures are afforded for its attainment; and I would here observe, that the result justifies the remark, that the measures of Government in removing the Van Diemen's Land Aborigines from the main territory, were wise, politic, and humane.

It now remains to be shown, that should the British Government still object to their removal, and continue them in their present, situation, the probability is, that in a very short period of time, they will become extinct. The following circumstances would justify such a conclusion:—I. Because the three principal tribes, designated the Big River, Oyster Bay, and Stony Creek, have no children, neither have they had any since they have been at the settlement, and had only one at the time they were removed; nor is it at all probable they ever will have any children. The cause of this unfruitfulness may be attributed to their intense anxiety, and harassed mode of life whilst perambulating the settled districts, and to other causes consequent thereupon. Those native women who have borne children are defunct, and others, who are old and infirm, must, in the course of nature, shortly die: and, although it may be argued, that the same event might happen, even were they removed; yet, supposing that such should be the case, I would submit (provided it be the will of Providence to permit the race to die off), whether it would not be better that it should take place under such circumstances, than that it should happen in their present isolated situation, where they will linger, and where a gradual diminution of their numbers will operate sensibly on their minds, producing a degree of mental excitement, and melancholy reflection, distressing to their feelings; and I must confess, that I should not wish to be a spectator of such an unhappy result; whereas, by the adoption of the measures proposed, they would be amalgamated with the natives of the country, and hence, should the same result transpire, the excitement would not be felt. I confess, I do not see what possible objection can now exist to the execution of this plan, fraught as it is, with such manifold advantages; but should any doubt still exist, the precautionary steps I have recommended, would be sufficient to guard against contingent circumstances, namely:—The removal of the people by divisions; &c., and the occasional distribution of the male adults to the European agents at remote stations, would, I think, be a sufficient preventive to any, the slightest irregularities that might be feared.

Again, if a reduction of expenditure were to be considered, I think it could be shown that a material saving might be effected by the alteration; but this, I am quite sure, is a proposition that would not be entertained for one moment, especially by a Government proverbial for its liberality, and towards a people who hare such powerful claims on the beneficence of the country. Moreover, parsimony is a subject which in matters of such a character, ought assuredly never to be had recourse to.

In conclusion, I beg to state, that I purpose doing myself the honour to submit a renewal of this subject at the earliest possible opportunity.


Hobart Town, October 29,1836.


In continuation of the subject contained in my last two letters of the 27th and 28th instant... to advert to the measures requisite to be adopted for the protection and general amelioration of the Aboriginal inhabitants of the Australian provinces, and, without adverting to the powerful claims of the original occupants of that country upon the British nation, it only remains to be shown that a prompt necessity exists, that some effort be made to carry into complete effect the aforementioned purposes, and in connexion therewith, the Flinders' Island establishment, if removed, would lay the foundation of an institution which, if properly directed, would effectuate the benevolent purposes now under consideration. For the attainment of the above object, it has been proposed, that the operations be on an extended scale, and that a principal station be formed on a central part of the South coast of New Holland, and that other stations of a similar character, bat of minor importance, be opened at every available spot that might be occupied by European colonists, and at which an agent with Aboriginal assistance, should be placed; and that a regular and constant communication be maintained with the central establishment, by which arrangement the most extensive operations could be controlled and brought under review. Spencer's Gulf, from its geographical situation, appears well adapted for a central station; there are many and numerous objections to Kangaroo Island, in fact to any island, for such a purpose, and I am sure it will be readily admitted, that the removal of a people from their native country ought never to be had recourse to, except through dire necessity, and then only by voluntary expatriation, as in the case of the Aborigines of this country; and that it is possible to conciliate the most savage tribes will not be questioned, since there never existed a nation of their character, possessing greater ferocity of feeling, and who had, from a system of persecution carried on against them, been goaded on to the most dreadful, and the highest possible pitch of excitement, and yet they, have been civilised. If, under each untoward circumstances, this has been accomplished, how much easier may it be effected with a people less incensed, and not under such particular excitement.

The measures that have been put in operation for the subjugation of the Aborigines of Van Diemen's Land, and which have proved so successful, are, I believe, quite unique. History does not furnish an instance where a whole nation has been removed by so humane and mild a policy. The amelioration of the Aboriginal inhabitants of New Holland, is a subject I hare long considered and one that has employed a very considerable share of my attention. They have ever appeared to me an abused and a sadly neglected race. To induce an erratic people, such as the Australian Aborigines, to a settled mode of life, is a work of no ordinary character. In the. Polynesian Islands in the South Seas, the natives have fixed residences, and hence, the work of Christian instruction and civilization has gone on and prospered. But with the New Hollanders it is first necessary that their erratic propensities be overcome, ere any good could be hoped for, to which end, the most intense application, and determined perseverance is requisite.

In conclusion I would observe, that no doubt exists on my mind, that the Flinders' Island Aborigines would remain and settle in one fixed abode, and hence the apparent comforts they would enjoy, arising from their knowledge of civilized habits and acquirements, would constitute a most pleasing example to the inhabitants of the country amongst whom they might settle; and as it is an axiom that  example teaches before precepts, it is more applicable to, and more easily understood by, an untutored race, than would be any other mode of instruction, and, therefore, it might be reasonably hoped that such strangers as might occasionally visit the settlement, would carry back the impression they had received, and communicate the same to other tribes, who would be ultimately induced to adopt a similar mode of life, and thus lead to the formation of settlements of a similar character.

Roberts Scott, Esquire, of Glendon, and The Aborigines Question

20 September, 1838

“Minutes of Evidence, ‘The Aborigines Question’

Robert Scott, Esquire, of Glendon, examined: -

I have been in constant communication with the Aborigines for sixteen years past; more particularly with those on the Hunter. I have observed, that whenever any collision took place between them and the whites, the natives were led on by someone among themselves, best acquainted the Europeans, and most civilized. Violence, however, ceases as they become better acquainted with our power to punish, and it is only in our first intercourse with the natives, that outrage is to be apprehended. If vigorous measures were adopted on the first occasions of offence, they would immediately be taught (what must sooner or later be taught them) that there is other law to which they are amenable, than their own will; that they are subject to our laws, and the earlier this is impressed on them, the less will be the suffering on either side, particularly theirs.


Among themselves they have no governing principle but force; superior strength alone commands obedience; each person is free to do anything within his own daring; personal fear is his only control. So perfectly free are these people, that they have divided and subdivided themselves into independent communities, until they have at length dwindled into mere families, where the child, from habit alone, obeys his parent. Each tribe is at full liberty to make war with its neighbour, and I never knew any two of them to remain long upon friendly terms with each other. My own tribe I have known alternately at war and in amity with every tribe in the district, over and over again; and whenever an opportunity presents itself, and they have the power, an excuse is never wanting to commit the most wanton and brutal outrages upon each other ... Men so constituted, cannot be kept in check, except by force, and the certainty of instant retaliation. It is useless to deceive ourselves – it is wicked to do so.


Long experience has taught us that the natives are not to be trusted; surely then it is folly to put ourselves in their power, without the means of defence if attacked, or of punishment if injured; and they are shrewd enough to know when they may commit aggression with impunity. And upon the principle, that it is better to prevent crime than punish it, the wise plan would be to assume so imposing an attitude as to prevent even the attempt at resistance. The possession of power does not necessarily imply that it shall be abused; and the assumption of it in our outposts, would, I sincerely believe, entirely prevent these dreadful collisions  which have so often stained the annals of our intercourse with the natives. They do not, and can not comprehend forbearance, they attribute it to fear, impunity urges them to renewed aggression, success gives them new courage,, until at length the patience of the Europeans is exhausted, they fly to arms, and then follow those scenes which must be expected when men are driven to take the law into their own hands, which by timely interference on the part of a properly constituted authority, might at once have been checked, or at all events quelled with far less passion, and at one-tenth the expense of human blood.


I do not believe any course of education capable of civilizing these natives, short of total separation from all intercourse with their race, from the earliest infancy. I have known many instances myself, of their return to savage life, after having for long periods enjoyed the comforts and security of civilization; and what is still more lamentable, these very persons have almost invariable been the instigators of, and leaders in, the aggressions committed upon Europeans; and it is my firm belief, to people from Flinders Island will do the same, the instant they are relieved from restraint, and will immediately return to their former habits, and join wit the natives among whom they happen to fall, if permitted; if not, a war of extermination will be the consequence, among themselves. In either case the British settler must suffer ...


With regard to  the Protectors themselves, I cannot conceive how any civilized being could submit to join and associate with the natives of the interior as one of themselves ... if the Protectors are to possess any property whatever, they must be supplied with the means of defence; and if to this were added the power to punish, as well the white as the black, the best results might be looked for, as far as peace and good order are concerned ....


Mr. McArthur built a hut and fenced in a small paddock for his tribe at Camden. They would not sow the seed – it was sown for them, they would not hoe the corn – it was hoed for them; and at length as the maize got ripe, they pulled what they wished to eat, but would not house the crop. Nor is this a solitary instance.


By all that has been said, I do not mean to imply that the natives are incapable of improvement. They possess both the generous and good feelings, and the evil passions in the highest degree; and by studying their peculiar character, plans may be devised for encouraging the one and correcting the other; and I am persuaded the whole colony would join heart and hand in aiding a well-devised scheme (having experience for its basis) for the amelioration of the Aboriginal natives of these colonies.  

FRIDAY,  21  SEPTEMBER   1838. 

The Reverend Lancelot Edward Threlkeld, examined : —  

I reside at Lake Macquarie, and have done so nearly fourteen rears, during which I have been engaged in acquiring a knowledge of the language of the Aboriginal natives, and instructing them ; for six years of that period, my undertaking was carried on under the auspices of the London Missionary Society; but owing to the heavy expense of the Mission, amounting to about £500 per annum for my own support, and that of such natives as I could persuade to remain with me, for the double purpose of obtaining from them a knowledge of their language, and to give me an opportunity of endeavouring to civilise and instruct them. The Society being disappointed in the amount of aid expected from other quarters, and regarding the expense as encroaching too much upon their funds, relinquished the Mission, and for nearly two rears 1 was left to my own resources, and the assistance of some friends, without other aid, when General Darling obtained the authority of the Secretary of State, for an allowance of £150 a-year", and £36 in lieu of rations for four convict servants, which has been granted to me during the last eight years.  

The Mission has thus occasioned an expense to the London Society, for the first six years, of about £3000; and for the eight following years, to the Colonial Government (at the rate of £186 per annum), of about £1488, or about £4488 for the fourteen years, exclusive of my own outlay.  

For the probable result of the Mission, if pecuniary aid sufficient to carry out my plans had been continued, I beg leave to refer to the opinion of Messrs. Backhouse and Walker, who visited my station, as given in their letter to the Society, dated May 21,1836.                             


The native languages throughout New South Wales, are, I feel persuaded, based upon the same origin ; bat I have found the dialects of various tribes differ from that of those which occupy the country around Lake Macquarie; that is to say, of those tribes occupying the limits bounded by the North Head of Port Jackson, on the south, and s Hunter's River on the north, and extending inland about sixty miles, til of which speak the same dialect,  


The natives of Port Stephen use a dialect a little different, but not so much so as  to prevent our understanding each other; but at Patrick's Plains the difference is so great, that we cannot communicate with each other; there are blacks who speak both dialects.

The dialect of the Sydney and Botany Bay natives varies in a slight degree, and in that of those further distant, the difference is such that no communication can be held between them and the blacks inhabiting the district in which I reside.

From information obtained from Mr. Watson of Wellington Valley, I learn that the language of the tribes of that district, is also derived from the same general origin, but their various dialects also differ very roach, and the use of any one dialect is very limited.

During the period of my connexion with the London Missionary Society, I generally had about three or four tribes resident around me upon 10,000 acres of land, granted in trust for the use of the Aborigines ; and I have occasionally employed from ten to sixty blacks, in burning off timber and clearing the land, at which work they would continue for a fortnight together, being the employment they appeared to like best; since that period, I have not been able to employ more than half a dozen at 'a time, having no funds at my disposal for their support.

I have generally found, that they would continue at their work for eight or ten days at a time, when some other object called them away, and they remained' absent for as many weeks. Two lads whom I was teaching to read and write, in which they had  made some progress, remained with me for six months, when they went away, and after an absence of nearly a year returned, and they are now at work at my residence where they will probably stay until some native custom, or report of hostile intention from a neighbouring tribe will again call them away.

With respect to the advancement of the natives in civilization, I beg to state a fact which occurred in May last; when I was required to attend the Supreme Court as interpreter, on the trial of an Aboriginal; the dialect spoken by the prisoner, was different from that which I understood; and 1 could communicate with him only through an Aboriginal named M'Gill, who when questioned by Judge Burton, as to his knowledge of God—on the nature of an oath—of truth—and of future punishment; his replies were so intelligent, as to induce the Judge to enquire, if I had baptized him; to  which I replied, that I had not; for although his answers were such as he had heard, the general conduct of the witness, in regard to drunkenness, was perfectly inconsistent with the character of a Christian.

I doubt whether any moral or religious impression has been made upon him, although be is better informed, than any of the natives with whom I are acquainted.

About a fortnight ago, I was conversing with some blacks at Morpeth, respecting a future judgment, and the anger of God at criminal practices. On asking if they j. understood me, they replied, " Oh, yes, M'Gill had told them that before." In other instances, I have received similar replies. This shows that he had thought on the subject, and should his mind become impressed with a sincere belief in the truths of Christianity, I should expect much good from him as a native teacher; and there are other blacks of whom I might say the same.

If I had the means (as formerly), of inducing the natives to assemble around me, and giving them employment, such as they would engage in, I think that much good would be the result of affording me an opportunity of more constant communication with them.

I have at two periods put up huts for them, but they do not like to dwell in huts for two reasons :—one, the accumulation of vermin ; the other, the fear of other natives coming in the night, and spearing them without a possibility of escape.

Unless the Government afford such protection as will prevent their ferocious attacks upon each other, it is impossible to retain any party in one place for a length of time. On requesting M'Gill to plant corn on a piece of ground which I had prepared for him, his reply was, " It would be useless, as the tribes from the neighbouring Sugar Loaf Mountain, would come down and take it away when ripe, although on friendly terms; the whole system of the blacks, is that of continued aggressions against each other, which, whilst it is opposed to every effort, or exertion to civilize them, demonstrates the necessity of Christian instruction, which alone can change their habit of life.

In regard to the removal of the Flinders' Island blacks, to Port Phillip, I am of opinion, that there is no fear of their leaving the establishment, as they will be in terror of the neighbouring blacks; premising, that their dwelling together at Flinders Island it not by compulsion, and that their removal therefrom, to Port Phillip, is in accordance with their own wishes.

Having read the Report of the Commandant of the establishment, and anticipating similar results when removed, I have no hesitation in saying, that I think the establishment itself may be beneficial, as an example to the other blacks, who will, in al probability visit it

I do not feel equal to giving an answer as to the safety of the establishment from plunder by the neighbouring tribes at Port Phillip, as I know nothing of their character; but judging from the natives in our own vicinity, who once attacked and plundered our huts, and amongst whom were some who had been employed and well treated by myself, I should have my fears for its safety without police protection.

In respect to the office of Protectors, I think too much is expected, in the duties which are to devolve on them, as stated in the despatch from Lord Glenelg, at page 3, from No. 1 to 8. I consider a Protector as a legal advocate to watch over the rights and interests of the natives, and to protect them from aggression, as defined in No. 2 of the despatch, which I think would be sufficient occupation for any individual.

Tho object contemplated in Nos. 4 and 5, respecting the moral and religions improvement of the natives by instruction, would be more properly the duty of persons appointed specially for that purpose, and would fully occupy their time.

To illustrate the subject, and show the necessity of legal protectors, I state the following circumstance:—I was directed by the Government to send a man of mine to Patrick's Plains, to give evidence respecting the alleged murder of three black women by their own countrymen; I had to attend myself, and the distance I had to travel was 200 miles, which detained me a week. I was informed on the road, of a murder at Liverpool Plains, which took place a year before, when, after some depredations, committed by the blacks in spearing cattle, a party of stockmen went out, took a black prisoner, tied his arms behind him, and then fastened him to the stirrup of a stockman ; when the party arrived near their respective stations, they separated, stockman to conduct his prisoner to his hut. The black, when be found they were alone, was reluctant to proceed, and the stockman took hit knife from his pocket, stuck the black through the throat, and left him for dead; the black crawled to the station of a gentleman at the plains, told his tale, and expired. Another instance was mentioned to tae, of a stockman, who boasted to his master, of having killed six or eight black with his own hands, when in pursuit of them with his companions; for which his master discharged him. These cases alone, if I had authority to act, would have taken me some months from home, merely to investigate the matter at that distant place.

Since the above period, I am informed of another instance, in which some blacks were decoyed into a hut, and then permitted (one at a time) to come out, when they were butchered instantly, until all were destroyed. Another instance, the particulars of which I only learned last week, namely a party of blacks were catting bark at a station, on, or near the Gwyder River; the overseer told them to go away, as a party were out after the blacks and they might be killed ; they did not leave, and the party of stockmen came upon them, and killed the whole of them, men, , women, and children, reserving only two little girls, who, after being dreadfully injured, came to where my men were, who saw them in a shocking state, and so weak, that one fell into the fire and was severely burnt; if alive, they are probably still at the station on the Gwyder; but if a stir is made, I fear they would be put out of the way.

Thus, I am firmly of opinion, that a Protector of the Aborigines will be fully employed in investigating cases, which are so numerous and shocking to humanity, and in maintaining their civil rights, I am certain, that the duties attached to the office of Protector of the Aborigines, at stated from No. I to No. 8 in the despatch of Lord Glenelg, are more than any single individual can perform.

I have no doubt, individuals nay be found who would advances into the interior, and attach themselves to a black tribe or tribes; the fact of Mr. Robinson having brought  in the tribes as consequence of his having previously adopted that measure, proves the practicability of the plan proposed by Lord Glenelg.

It would take a considerable time to obtain the means of communication with them in their own language I am persuaded it would attended with much personal danger; but as this measure is strictly of a Missionary nature, such dangers are generally contemplated ; should the measure be adopted with suitable agents, I should naturally look for success.

I am of opinion, that it would be much more beneficial, if an establishment could be formed on the Moravian principle, far distant in the interior, whence the agents employed could emanate, and to which they could point as a refuge for the Aborigines, and wherein they could assume settled habits of life and obtain religious instruction in the Gospel of Christ, without which nothing permanent for their amelioration, will, I am persuaded, be effected. The expense of such an establishment, would be considerable ; but unless entered into with spirit, and full and efficient means be allowed for the employment and support of the natives, I am decidedly of opinion, that not only my own employment will become a waste of the put year of my life, as respects my own station, but similar experiments, however varied their titles, will end only in disappointment to the friends of humanity, of vexation to the agents employed, and be of comparatively small benefit to the Aborigines of New South Wales.

Lieutenant Richard Sadleir, R.N., Master of the Male Orphan School, Liverpool, and The Aborigines Question

Friday, 21 September, 1838

The Aborigines Question.

“When I first arrived here, in 1826 (‘Mr. Sadleir’s reports in 1826 and 1827, when he went to Wellington Valley to report upon a Report of Mr. Harper’s, wanting. These, with the other Reports, are, in all probability, amongst the papers of the Clerk and School Corporation in the Colonial Secretary’s Office’) I was employed on a tour of enquiry as to the state of the Aborigines, by order of the Home Government ... I proceeded first to Argyle, and examined into the numbers of the tribes, and as to their intercourse with the whites, and the causes of disputes with them.


From the Murrumbidgee, I struck off to Bathurst ... from thence, I went eighty miles below Wellington Valley, on the Macquarie River; afterwards to the head of Hunter’s River, which I traced down to Newcastle. I had with me only one man, two horses, and a cart.


I sometimes ventured from thirty to sixty miles beyond the stations of the whites, and on one occasion, reached a tribe consisting of  about one hundred persons, at the Cataract, on the Macquarie, who had never seen white people. I made them presents, and was received in a friendly manner, and remained with them for the night ...


I think it would be dangerous for a single individual to go amongst the native tribes beyond the white’s settlements. It would be a perilous undertaking, but one I have already ventured on myself, and it is a well known fact, that whites have lived amongst them for years, as in the case of Buckley, and some bushrangers. There would be a difficulty in communicating with any but the tribe whose language had been previously acquired ... It is, however, certain, that a small body of Europeans may travel amongst them when well armed and maintaining a conciliatory spirit, as in the case of Mr Eyre ... Captain Stuart ... and Mr Cunningham; indeed we see stock stations extended among them, when there have been very few white persons, and those persons having shown a spirit of conciliation, have not been molested; whereas, in other instances, where, in al probability a different spirit had been exhibited, aggression has followed. ...

Respecting the office of Protectors, if they are persons qualified to fill the office, and magistrates; I conceive that they may be of great benefit both to the whites and the Aborigines, as at present both parties have much reason to complain of the impossibility of obtaining justice; the natives have to endure a variety of wrongs, without any means of redrew, but by retaliation; and the whites are placed in much the same situation; the consequence is, that there ever has been, and must continue to be a system of reprisal, often leading to the most atrocious acts of violence on both sides; but more especially inexcusable on the part of the whites, who have in several instances practised, barbarities on these people, revolting to human nature, which have been overlooked, in consequence of there being no public officer to apprehend and prosecute the parties.  

1 have known cases of this kind, but not being in the commission of the peace, I

E. could not act, but could only content myself with making them known to the government, who could not adopt measures promptly enough to bring the parties to justice.

My opinion is, that a Protector (supposing him to be a man of influence and energy), residing on the outskirts of the white population, would prevent a number of the feuds and violences daily taking place between the white and Aboriginal population ;—would preserve order and law amongst the whites themselves;—would impress the Aborigines with a proper opinion of our character as a people (the very opposite of which is the case now; the Aborigines being brought first in contact with the mort unprincipled of oar countrymen), and would, from their opportunities of observation, be enabled to suggest to government, from time to time, such measures as would not only prevent that too general feeling of Lynch law, but serve to ameliorate the condition of the Aboriginal population, and afford security to the whites themselves.

My own experience convinces me, that much of the evil which at present exists may be prevented by the residence of officers on the frontiers, whose peculiar province it would be to ascertain the sources of these evils, and then suggest the means of preventing them.

But I must further add, that I conceive the duties laid down in Lord Glenelg's despatch, are in many instances unsuitable to the office of Protectors (which should be, strictly speaking, a civil office) being of a missionary character, and that they are likewise too onerous for any one individual to perform. I likewise think the salary for Assistant Protectors too small to ensure men of the proper qualifications, the office being one not only requiring moral character, but likewise men of address and standing in society.  

I conceive that the duties which should be allotted to the Protectors, are those which are detailed in paragraphs, Nos. 1, 2, 6, 7, and 8, and that the duties defined in the other paragraphs more properly belong to teachers of religion.

Other expenses besides mere salary, will be requisite for the Protectors. They must have either an European or Aboriginal police; also have funds for presents, &c. so that the expense cannot be estimated at less than £500 per annum for each Protector.

I further conceive that a summary of our laws should be translated into the dialects of the Aborigines, and frequently promulgated amongst them—for as they are subject  to our laws, without any choice in framing them, it is but justice that they should be made made acquainted with them.

Respecting the removal of the Flinders' Island Blacks, this appears to be a matter of necessity, as they are dying away rapidly, and must shortly become extinct, therefore justice and humanity require their removal, if the cause or causes of the prevailing fatality cannot be overruled. Wearing English clothing, want of their usual allowance of animal food, situation, nostalgia, or mal du pays, may all contribute to this end ; some of these causes, therefore, can be removed, but others are beyond the power of control.

If the necessity for their removal be, however, admitted, the question whether they ought to be located in Van Diemen's Land, or removed here, becomes the next subject of consideration. It appears from the enquiries I have been able to make, that locating them in Van Diemen's Land would revive the old feelings of hostility, and awaken recollections of past violences, and that therefore it would be an impolitic act. The bringing them to this colony, consequently appears to be the only resource left. What their influence would be upon the uncivilized tribes, appears to me to be very problematical ; and how far it would he possible to preserve them when introduced within the pale of our white population, from the destroying influence of that population, as well as with what feelings of jealousy a foreign tribe may be viewed by the Aboriginal Natives here, are questions which our present experience would lead us to hesitate coming to any conclusion on.

I conceive, in both these instances, we most depend upon the ability and experience of Mr. Robinson, whose extraordinary success should certainly establish confidence in his plans, and who appears to consider the assistance of some of these natives essential to his success in the wider field of action which this colony throws open

.The expense of the maintenance of these natives, should most certainly be borne entirely by the Van. Diemen's Land Government, for the benefit of their removal is theirs, and not ours.

In viewing the question of the Aborigines, I conceive that justice, mercy, self  interest, and religion, all demand of us, that expense and exertion should not be spared in attempting something for their amelioration.  

In the first place, we claim them as our subjects, and bring them under the administration of our laws; therefore, as our subjects, they ought to have protection. While, secondly, as we deprive them of their lands and means of subsistence, in justice we ought to remunerate then. While, thirdly, as a question of humanity, nothing can be more dreadful to contemplate, or more disgraceful to a Christian and civilized nation, than the wholesale destruction which has been going on for the last fifty years, and must continue, unless some plan be devised to prevent it for the next hundred years. While, fourthly, as a matter of self-interest, it is a strange contradiction of things to be destroying, on the one hand, thousands of our fellow-creatures, who may be made useful members of society; and on the other hand, in such great want of population as to be pressed to introduce, at considerable expense, races of Pagans but little superior to them, in either their moral or physical powers. Besides which, policy should lead us to adopt measures calculated to encourage the peaceable extension of our territory.

On the score of religion, it is not necessary to enlarge, for the command is, " Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature."

A knowledge of their language is essential to preaching the Gospel, and we know. that our Divine Master bestowed the gift of tongues on his apostles. This, therefore, is one of the first things which should occupy the teacher's attention.

In following these views of the question, two things present themselves to our notice.  

I. The measures to be pursued to those Aborigines within the pale of white population.

II. The measures to be pursued to those without the pale of white population.

Those within the pale of white population most, within a very few years, be utterly destroyed, if the most prompt measures be not taken—so much so, that I conceive that there is scarce an alternative between coercion and destruction. I would therefore beg to recommend a clause to be introduced into the Vagrant Act, empowering their transportation, under peculiar circumstances, to distant parts of the colony—say Moreton Bay, Port Phillip, &c., it being a well known fact, that when sent to a distance, they can be made to work; and from their great apprehension of strange tribes, their erratic habits can be restrained.

I hare no hesitation in saying, that they would thus be made useful servants; their children would be brought under the full and favorable influence of education ; that they may be taught trades, to tend cattle, sheep, &c.. The measure should be entered upon cautiously at first, removing the tribes in the vicinity of towns, and then extending its operation in a manner so as not to provoke open hostility on their parts. The numbers of each tribe, should be ascertained, and if possible the whole tribe should be removed at once. 

The children unprovided for, may be placed in the Orphan Schools, where there have been already several brought up; some of the boys having made good sailors, and some bullock drivers

Much may likewise probably be done in removing them by conciliation, insomuch that I am inclined to think the enforcement of the Vagrant Act may be limited to the most vicious characters, and those in the neighbourhood of towns; but I look upon it that the removal of those living within the precincts of white population, can alone rescue them from destruction ; as vice, disease, and want of food, are making fearful inroads upon them.

Of those without the pale of white population, measures should be. taken to prepare and preserve them from the encroachments of the whites, and I know of none so well calculated to effect this as Missionary colonization alluded to before.

These Missionary colonies should be placed at one hundred miles in advance of the while population, in suitable situations; and large blocks of country should be reserved a natives, forming territories of refuge for them; the white population pressing upon than would help to force the natives into these reserves, and those portions of land would also prove places for those within the pale of civilization to be either translated or transported to.

These Missionary Establishments, like those of the Moravians, should embrace within themselves all the means of protection, as well as the means of colonisation, and  would no doubt be supported to a  great extent by the religious community at home. They may have sheep, cattle, husbandry, trades, &c.

In America and in Canada such a principle has been acknowledged as that of reserving portions of land. The Indians have their own places of worship, schools, saw mills, farms, &c.. Also in Upper Canada the Indians on the Grand River are settled on a block of land, and in a state of civilization; and in South America, we are aware that the Jesuits pursued a somewhat similar system of colonization, with marked success. .

That much can be done by moral and religious influence alone on savages, we have the evidence of William Penn, of the Missionary Societies, amongst the Esquimaux, Hottentots, &c., and though, hitherto, the progress of civilization has proved the destruction of savage nations, yet this is no proof that such is the decree of Providence, but rather, that the system of colonisation has hitherto been unjust, selfish, and unchristian.

The expense of all this machinery is a matter of importance, though in comparison with the destruction of life, the demoralizing influence of the present state of things, it scarcely deserves attention ; yet to provide for this, I would venture to propose what I conceive would not be felt as a very heavy tax; that the rent of lands be doubled, from one pound per section to two—that the minimum price of land sold, be advanced sixpence or one shilling per acre—that town allotments in the interior, be raised a pound each—that the penalty on drunkards be increased, from five shillings, to ten, or a pound, according to the circumstances of the individuals. 

The natives ought to be compensated out of the land fund, the land being their property until usurped by us; likewise those crimes most destructive to them, such as drunkenness, &c, should be heavily taxed, with the hope to check them. Persons selling them spirits may be likewise fined.

The whole amount required; would not, in all probability, exceed £10,000, with aid from home, and if we deduct from thence, the destruction and insecurity of life and property, the expense which from time to time has been incurred by the hostility of the natives, the necessity of a police force on the outskirts, which has been computed at the increased expense of £15,000 this year, the actual increase of expense would be but very small.

As many prejudices prevail to the injury of this people, and many arguments hare been advanced against their moral and intellectual qualifications, it may be well briefly to remark, that the trials to civilise and Christianize them have hitherto been made without exception, under either mistaken principles, or great disadvantages; the idea entertained is establishing the Black Town School, that the females being civilised, would be the means of civilizing the male population, still savage, went upon a principle directly opposed to what our knowledge of the savage character teaches; namely, that the female has scarcely any influence over man in his uncivilized state; and the result proved the absurdity of the theory; for after all the pains, and the proof, that the natives are susceptible of at least intellectual, if not moral improvement (many having been taught to read, work, draw, and sing, &c.), the act of uniting or marrying them to the unreclaimed natives, defeated the objects of the institution, as they were carried into the bush, and there speedily relapsed back again into their savage habits. While on the other hand, all the establishments (even that recently formed at Port Phillip) have been, by some strange fatality, placed either close to towns, or in the very heart of a dense white population, an oversight most fatal to their success.

That little good has resulted from such attempts, is therefore not to be wondered at; but that these several attempts have not been without their benefit, is a fact too often overlooked : they have proved beyond the. possibility of contradiction, that the natives, however despicable they may be in the estimation of phrenologists and others, yet. that they are capable of intellectual improvement, Sir George McKenzie, a celebrated phrenologist, having received a skull from Patrick Hill, Esq., speaks of their  intellectual abilities as by no means despicable ; the insurmountable difficulty hitherto has been—not that of teaching them, but that of locating them—their propensity to wander breaking through all restraint: wherefore the necessity of removing them to a distance from their native place. 

The charge of laziness likewise so often preferred, is no more peculiarly applicable to them than to other savages, all of whom are given to extreme indolence, bat whose energies an more or less drawn out by climate,  physical peculiarity of country, and other circumstances calculated to develop character, which do not exist in this colony; while the opinion too generally remind, that they posses no religions notions or belief, and therefore are not susceptible of moral impressions, is also, I conceive, most unfounded. Their ceremonies, superstitions, and belief of a future state, exclusion of women from many of their rites, and belief in evil spirits, all tend to show the unreasonableness of such a conclusion.

That the question under consideration involves the destiny of, perhaps, a hundred thousand, or two hundred thousand, of our fellow-beings, is a serious consideration, and one which should cause us to pause before we venture to abandon them to what must inevitably take place—destruction.

The numbers now within the influence of the white population, embracing Port Phillip and Moreton Bay, cannot be less, I conceive, than from eight to ten thousand souls: for I found within a given space near Wellington Valley, in 1826, nine tribes, consisting of sixteen hundred and fifty-eight souls.

That a dreadful destruction of life has taken place since, there is no doubt; but that still in the interior, within the reach of the white population, a considerable body of natives is to be found, I feel myself borne out by the various enquiries I have made.

1 beg to lay before the Committee a few documents, illustrative of the statements made by me ; one explaining why I did not persevere in the undertaking to which I was appointed, and others showing the nature of those collisions which are daily taking  place between the Aboriginal and white population, and which, as the colony extends, must continue, until the whole Aboriginal population ceases to exist. (Appendix K, L, M, G)



Instructions to Lieutenant Richard Sadleir, R.N.


July 29, 1826.


I. In consequence of the testimonials to your character and ability, I have submitted your name to the Governor, as a person qualified to undertake the civilization of the black Datives of this Colony; with a view to further the benevolent intention of His Majesty, as commanded by the regal instructions, and His Excellency has been pleased to approve of your appointment, at a salary of ten shillings per day, and such other expenses as I may deem necessary.

II. As soon as you can prepare the necessary matters for your equipment, yon will proceed on your expedition, and, in the first instance, towards that part of the country called Argyle; here you will present your several letters of introduction, and I doubt not, the gentlemen to whom they are addressed, will give yon every assistance in their power.

III. The objects you should keep in view, are, to make yourself acquainted with the habits and wants of these black people, and endeavour to impress them with the desire of the Government, to make their situation more happy, by being acquainted with the customs of the civilised world, that there is a great wish to bring them and their children up to the views we entertain of religion, and all its consequences and happy results. And that by these acquirements they will know the necessity of becoming obedient to our laws, which will insure to them protection from oppression.

IV. Should you be enabled, either by acquiring their own language, or through an interpreter, it should be made known to them, that no force will be employed, and that nothing will be done contrary to their will.

V. It would be very desirable to ascertain their numbers, male and female; as well as children, and if possible, their ages—what would be most agreeable to them as presents—whether proper persons amongst them can be selected as chiefs or leaders -who can be relied on, to influence the tribes with favourable impressions of our views of civilization, and to induce them to send their children at an early age to the school at Black Town, where they will be taught such trades as will enable them to live by the produce of their own labour.

I t

VI. It would be very desirable for you (if it be possible), to acquire a knowledge of the reasons they may have for their ceremonies and usages, motives for wars, as well as for declining to become civilized, or parting with their children, and whether they are susceptible to being made aware of the advantages being held out to them. Under this head enquiries as to the capacities, and the usual subjects of disputes with each other.

VII. You will be pleased to make communication, to me from time to time as opportunities may offer, not exceeding an intervening space of one month, if possible, and I will thank you to arrange your subjects in separate paragraphs, each being numbered.

VIII. There may be some points I haw not adverted to, but as you are well aware that the object of His Majesty is to civilize and convert to Christianity, these unhappy beings, every thing which your own good sense can suggest to you on this bead, I feel perfectly confident will not be omitted, and in such confidence, I hare only to recommend to you much caution, accuracy, and perseverance. And to assure you of my sincere wishes for your success, through the aid of the Almighty, which they have who do his commands.

I remain. Sir,

Your obedient Servant,


A List of the various Tribes of the Aboriginal Natives:—1826 and 1827.

Botany Bay Tribe .

Five Island ditto 

Shoalhaven ditto 

(Tribes not visited along the coast). 

Bridgong ditto, Shoalhaven River..............        68

Kangaroo ditto, Kangaroo Ground..............     71

Metigan ditto................................                        10

Bong Bong ditto..............................                      67

Natai ditto..................................                             62 

Paramarrago ditto........-....................                     90 

Burra Burra ditto (very numerous)..............             -


Gundaroo ditto.........'.....................                         80

Namuch ditto, Marrumbidgee.................             130

Alleluea ditto..........................-..-....                         110

Munkata ditto....................                                         90 

Wallis Plain ditto, 43 men, 36 women, 31 children 100

Mulwhery ditto.............................                         — •;


1. Wellington Valley andd vicinity .. ....... 158

2...... ...............................                          280 ' .

3. .................................                             250 

4.......................................                         70

5......................................                          200

6.......                                                         200 

7......................................                          200

8. .........,..........................                          100

9...................................                             100

Bathurst tribe, nearly destroyed               30

Mudgee ditto ..................                        144. .


There an several tribes, the returns of which hare been lost, or maybe found in the Colonial Secretary's Office, attached to the reports made to Mr. Archdeacon Scott.



Most horrible accounts have reached Sydney of atrocities perpetrated on the Aborigines at Liverpool Plains, in retaliation far some outrages committed on the properties the settlers there; during which several whites fell victims to the ferocity of the savages. Ten individuals, principally the convict servants of settlers at Liverpool Plains, are now, we are told, under committal  for murder, charged with being participants in an indiscriminate massacre not fewer that twenty-eight blacks, whose mangled remains have been discovered on the banks of the river Gwydir.

It is not for us to express any opinions on the matter, which may have the effect of prejudicing one way or another the trials of the unfortunate men now under committal, but we cannot refrain from joining in the prayer of the subjoined memorial, that immediate steps may be taken by the Government, to guard against the recurrence of such horrifying catastrophes.

The memorial was presented to His Excellency on Tuesday, by a deputation of the subscribers £200, it is said, hare been subscribed for the defence of the unfortunate men on their trial. (If it is true that £200 has been subscribed for the defence of these men, it shows how strong the feeling is against these natives)



May it please your Excellency,

We, the undersigned, owners of live stock in the north-western districts, and others interested therein, beg respectfully to approach your Excellency with the warmest expressions of attachment and respect to your person and Government. And in the firm assurance of your Excellency's anxiety for the well-being of the colony, humbly apply to you in time of difficulty and danger.

Your Memorialists deeply lament the extent to which, the hostility between the Aboriginal natives and the Europeans has arrived in the north-western district. And, with the utmost earnestness, but most respectfully, press upon your Excellency the imperative necessity of immediately putting a stop to the exasperating feeling now existing, equally checking the attacks and depredations of the natives, and the retaliation of the Europeans. Your memorialists deplore the absolute necessity which has driven them to defend themselves, arising from the absence of any other power, to -which they could apply for protection. Men who feel their own strength will not easily submit to rapine and murder, and by denying them legal protection, they are driven to their own resources, and your Excellency cannot but be aware of the fearful consequences likely to result from men acting under exasperated feelings, and subject to no control, but their hatred heightened by their fear, leading (even ourselves) to habits that must make every lover of good government shudder. Who is it can more keenly feel these evils than ourselves, and who, therefore, more capable of appreciating peace and good order ? Most humbly, most earnestly, we pray your Excellency to cheek this dreadful state of things'. Let each party be kept in awe by a superior and responsible force. Let bloodshed cease. "

We humbly submit to your Excellency, now is  not the time to enquire which of the two parties is the aggressor; let the strong arm of power interfere between these impassioned parties, and quell at once this indiscriminate and lawless warfare, and then let the evil doer suffer.

The blacks have now collected in large numbers, daily committing havoc among our stock, and, actuated by the most revengeful feelings, await only, as we believe, the removal of Mr. Day's party of mounted police, to renew their aggressions with increased fury. And while we have no fear of the ultimate result (even if left to our own unaided exertions), still we look with horror to the individual suffering, through which our deliverance must be accomplished, unless your Excellency will humanely interpose, and with your wisdom and aid, avert the necessity of our again having recourse to our own strength and courage.

We cordially agree in your Excellency's desire to enquire into, and suppress, this violence ; and we pledge ourselves, not only to further so just a measure, but would most willingly furnish the means whereby their recurrence for the future might be guarded against, by the establishment of an interior police, to be paid from a revenue to be derived from rent on lands held under license.

And your memorialists, as in duty bound, will ever pray.


Letter to the Venerable the Archdeacon, notifying an affray between some white stockmen) and a party of natives at Liverpool Plains.

Cumneroy District, Head of Hunter's River, 

January 14, 1828. .;  


As it was impossible for me, previous to the present time, to collect correct information as to the real nature of the affray between the natives and the whites settled on Liverpool Plains, I have hitherto refrained from communicating with you on the . ' subject; but as that part of the interior has been visited by some, respectable individuals who have seen the bodies of the natives, and have collected from the whites stationed there, several particulars of this melancholy occurrence, I now feel it necessary to lay the information collected before you.

On the confession of the whites—the blacks, though in a large body, yet brought their wives and children (in general a sure indication of peace); the whites, either alarmed at their numbers, or at the circumstance of a pack bullock having strayed to their station the evening before (on which the blacks remarked that the white man who drove the bullock had been murdered at some distance in the plains), drove the blacks away from the station, and in so doing used their whips. One man who was struck over the legs; resented the insult with a blow of his waddy, which led to a more general scuffle, and the whites, as usual, resorting to the use of fire-arms, poured in several destructive volleys, firing on the blacks as they climbed the trees for security; and in one instance, as related, ripping open with a knife the bowels of an unfortunate being who had fallen wounded from a tree.

Several bodies (as many as six or eight) remain unburied on an eminence near the house, while other bodies lie scattered on the banks of the rivulet, or else concealed in ,the water.

The gentlemen from whom I received this information, may be easily had access to, and in the most unqualified terms condemn the wanton and brutal conduct of the whites in the affair.

The occurrence is of three or four months back, the rumour of which must, I suppose, have reached Sydney.

I remain, Sir,

Your most obedient Servant,


Letter addressed to the Rev Samuel Marsden, apprising him of the murder recently committed by four black natives, of a man in the service of Mr. Horton James, as a hut-keeper, at a cattle station on the Goulburn River.

Commeray District, Head of Hunter's River, June 13, 1828. 

'Since my last letter to yon, stating the hostile disposition of the blacks on the river Goulburn, I regret I have now to inform you of the melancholy murder of a free man, Thomas Ireland, in charge of Mr. James' establishment, and the narrow escape of a prisoner, a hut-keeper, Cram the same fate. .

The murder was perpetrated on Sunday last, without any cause of ill-treatment, but evidently for the sake of plunder. - ' .

Four of the natives had been employed by the men of the station, cutting down bark, foe some days previous, receiving from the men provisions, as remuneration for their labour. On Sunday evening, the natives watched their opportunity (the two men in charge of the hut being separate from each other some little distance), and struck , them both down at nearly the same instant of time. 

Ireland, the unfortunate man murdered,- received his death by the blow of a stone on the back of the head which appears not to hare fractured the skull, but to have ruptured some of the larger blood vessels of the head: the other man was struck down with a clumsy stick, the second blow of which he providentially warded off, by baring involuntarily thrown his hands up to cover the back part of his bead, otherwise he would hare shared the fate of poor Ireland. This man lay for some time nearly insensible, while the natives plundered the hut of all they considered valuable, when he recovered in some degree his recollection, he crept through the reeds along the river side, until he reached the neighbouring station. The natives can be recognised by this man .... Other robberies hare been committed, either by the same blacks or others' combined with them, on the neighbouring stations, so that the services of a few of the mounted police are immediately required, in order to the protection of the whites ... 


Memorandum submitted to Sir Richard Bourke, January, 1837, for a proposed Aboriginal Institution, connected with the Male Orphan School; with remarks respecting tie present locality, and other particulars of that Institution.

The Aboriginal children to be taken in young, and placed under the separate superintendence of either a free woman, or a free man and his wife, until their habits ef cleanliness and order should be found such as to permit their being admitted into the Boys' School. They should be' brought up to trades and work like other boys.

An intelligent black, such as Gilbert, should be employed to procure children, receiving a compensation for each child, to (be amount of—, either in clothing, victuals, or a gun.

The children to be purchased from the parents, and to be paid for in three different instalments, so as to secure the children to the Institution

The necessary buildings could be made of slabs, consisting of a small cottage for schoolmaster and wife, a school-room, and sleeping-room for the children, the expense of materials for which, would, with the assistance of two rough carpenters from government, be about................."............... £60 0 0

The expense of feeding and clothing ten children ................£130 0 0 

Schoolmaster and wife's salary arid rations, together with school apparatus, ......... £100 

Total £290 0 0 -

The children would have the advantages of medical aid, and general superintendance, they would also be brought up under the influence of the habits and example of the white children of the Institution, the trial has been already made with some degree of success, there having been no less than ten or twelve Aboriginal children m the school some years back.

The late Mrs. Cartwright educated six girls, one of whom was brought a perfect savage from Port Raffles; I had frequent opportunities of hearing these girls read, ... and can certify that the; read fluently, and much better than most whites of the lower class of society

The girl from Port Raffles was lately in the service of the Rev. Thomas Reddall; another resided in Sydney ; of the others, I can give no correct account, but fear that there being no male natives to marry them to, one or two of them may be living with white men. One or two of the girls were half caste.

There is at Liverpool, a native married to a white man, to whom a grant of land was given, secured on his wife. If these girls had been allowed smail grants of land, they might probably have also been married to whites, and been now mothers of families. . . .

1832. Mr. Surveyor Finch had two men killed at the Big River, while on duty with Major Mitchell. , ' '

1835. About the, end of this year, a servant of Sir John Jamison's was murdered on the Namoi River.

1836. In April, two men of Mr. Hall's were attacked (on the Big River) while splitting timber; one man was killed, and the other escaped with a spear in his leg. The natives then attacked the hut, and Mr. Thomas Hall received a spear in the leg.

1837. September. Mr. George Bowman's hut (situated between the Namoi and Big  River) was attacked while the storekeepers were out, and two hut-keepers were killed. 

1837. November, two shepherds in the employ of Mr. Cobb, on the Big River, were murdered while attending their sheep in the bush.

1838. January. Two men belonging to Messrs. John and Francis Allman, were murdered at New England, and their sheep taken away.

1838. March. Mr. Surveyor Finch bad two men murdered, while in charge of a tent and some stores, at New England. Mr. Cobham apprehended these blacks with Mr. Finch's property in their possession.

1838. ------. Mr. Cruikshank, at New England, had a shepherd murdered in thebush; and when the flock was found, sixty or seventy sheep were missing.

1838. April. Mr. Fitzgerald's hut-keeper, on the Big River, was killed, the hut  stripped, and on the arrival home of the other men, they also were attacked, but escaped, one having been speared through the leg, and another through the sleeve of his jacket.

The sacrifice of property has been immense, and the attacks upon the persons of Europeans innumerable, but none are mentioned except where loss of life occurred. And it is to be remarked, that not one of the perpetrators of any one of these fifteen murders "has been broughrto justice; although they have been going on since 1832.

Proposed Heads of a Plan by which to pay an Interior Police. That the present laws regarding licenses for the occupation of Crown lands remain.

That, in addition to the ten pounds per annum for the licenses, each individual pay a given sum per annum for every section occupied. Such lands to remain in undisturbed possession until put up for sale and purchase, and to be protected from the intrusion of each other. 'The revenue thus derived, it is supposed, will be amply sufficient to maintain an efficient police, and also the Commissioners of Crown Lands, which duties might be most advantageously combined.

To the Archdeacon Scott, Sydney.

Sydney, 1827.


In compliance with jour desire that I should state my views respecting the formation of an establishment on the head of Hunter's River, I have to remark that the most economical plan' I can at present point out, would be that which I suggested of allowing me-to commence upon my own grant, lying in that district, where I could perform the duties of catechist to the European population, now exceeding 400 souls, and at the same time acquire the language, and collect in the Aboriginal children for instruction, as well as try to conciliate and soften down the hostile feelings prevalent between these people and the settlers.

Should such a plan meet, your support, I consider that the Corporation would be -relieved from the expense of building, as well as clearing and enclosing land, as this must be accomplished on my grant whether I reside there or not; while a limited sum, not to be exceeded, may be allowed for the annual expenses of the establishment, such 'as provisions, clothing for the children; and a few presents to the parents; this sum may be restricted to £100 a-year, and as far as such a sum can be employed, should be exclusively applied to the maintenance of the institution : so that the whole expense would not exceed that of a catechist with his allowances, £100 a-year, while two duties would be discharged at the same time. 

Wheat, maize, and meat can be purchased at the Sydney market price, within a of twenty miles, and would be supplied to the establishment, at a small increased charge for carriage; or beef may possibly be supplied from the Corporation herds, now at Hunter's River, while the clothing for the children may be of such a description as to preserve decency without much expense.

If such  simple attempt as this were given a fair trial to in that quarter for a year or two, it might have the happy effect of rescuing many of their unfortunate children from a premature death, and from the infamy of prostitution and disease, while it might ultimately lead to greater consequences in preparing the way for an establishment further in advance, and I can only add, in conclusion, that I am perfectly willing to give any pledge on my part required, as well as to absolve the corporation from every charge of expense upon this head; while they have it in their power, should they deem the Institution useless, to withdraw their aid.

I am. Sir, yours, &c.


Letter from the Venerable Archdeacon W. G. Broughton, to Mr. Richard Sadleir.

Sydney, December 11,1829. SIR,

The Governor having intimated to me that be had received from the Secretary of State, a despatch, conveying notice of His Majesty's intention to revoke the charter which he had granted to the Church Corporation, and at the same time desiring that do undertaking should be proceeded with, excepting such as could not admit of delay. I have been under the necessity of suspending all proceedings upon the various applications which have been received from you. I take this opportunity of Informing yon, that I have read with much interest and pleasure the various journals and reports which you drew up and transmitted to Archdeacon Scott, respecting your expedition among the native tribes of this country. The practicability of affording instruction to these destitute people, engages at present a great share of my attention and anxiety. I shall be happy to have the aid of your local information, that I may be better able to decide on the most eligible system to be adopted. ' '

With that view, I would beg leave to ask you whether, in your opinion, a small establishment, somewhat similar in its plan to that of Mr. Threlkeld's at Lake Macquarie, could with security be placed in the district beyond Wellington Valley, in the country between the Rivers Macquarie and Castlereagh. Whether you can point out any particular spot on either of those rivers, which has peculiar recommendations for such a station, including in the number, the practicability of receiving from Wellington Valley such supplies as would be necessary for the support and comfort of the parties engaged. Supposing the establishment to be fixed on the banks of the Macquarie, in the neighbourhood of the cataract of Mount Harris, for example, would the river in ordinary seasons afford any facilities for water communication with the point from which the supplies mutt be fetched.

Any information with which you may be able to furnish me for the furtherance of an object which I am persuaded you hare much at heart, will meet with every attention from, 

Sir, your very faithful humble servant, 


Mr. Richard Sadteir's Reply to the foregoing. 

December 19, 1829.


In reply to your communication respecting the formation of a Missionary Establishment for the Aborigines on the banks of the Macquarie, I beg to state, that I hare been always of opinion, that a settlement on some of the interior rivers would be more eligible than on the sea coast. since

1. From the natives being more numerous, the tribes much larger.

2. From their dispositions being milder and more friendly.....the country being more level, and the intercourse between the natives themselves, more frequent, and their language and habits ...........................therefore more assimilated. But were I to suggest the plan for forming such an establishment, I conceive the most prudent measure to be adopted, would be for the Missionary to establish himself in a temporary manner, near to one of the outside stock stations on the Macquarie or Lachlan, the proprietor of which was known to be friendly to the natives; there to build a temporary hut, acquire as much of the language as be (?), form a friendship with the various tribes, ascertain the peculiar localities of the neighbouring country, so as to select the most isolated and suitable situation for a permanent establishment, and to arrange all the necessary preparatory steps for such an undertaking; in this way he would have the protection and assistance of the station, in obtaining supplies of stores, and would need but a small establishment for his own immediate purposes. His settling on the Macquarie would decidedly give him a greater protection, and a facility and certainty of obtaining supplies which he could not elsewhere secure, as arrangements could be made with the establishment at Wellington Valley, from whence he could draw every thing he might require in the way of provisions, stores, &c, without sending to Sydney ; but I conceive it would be necessary to supply him with a team, as the navigation of the Macquarie can never be depended on, and would be liable in the best of times to serious accidents, from the quantity of sunken wood, rapids, &c., in the river; indeed the practicability of navigating the river at all, would certainly depend on the rains, on which no correct calculation could be made.

Acquiring their language, will, I believe, be considered the most important desideratum, and as this cannot well be done without communication with natives who have already learned something of our language, it would hardly answer, I conceive, to push the Missionary too prematurely without the limits of white population; he might, therefore, select a situation on one of the edges of the large plains below the cataract on the Macquarie, where it is probable, stock stations have now been, advanced, so that if he thought it advisable to cultivate maize, &c., he would be spared the expense of clearing, and having his own team, he would hare plenty of vacant time to prepare and sow his land, without much expense, and he need but throw up a temporary enclosure around it; and as for a house, a log-hut is all that should be built, until a permanent situation could be selected, and the prospects of the Mission ascertained, the materials of which could be prepared and erected by his own men, handy government men being selected for the purpose. 

The situation of Mount Harris would certainly be very isolated and suitable, so far as it would be a situation not likely to be out-flanked by the whites, but from Mr. Oxley's description of the whole surrounding country being inundated while he remained there, I should suppose it would not answer; he describes it, I think, as a mere rock on which, when the flood arose, he scarce found room for his people; no doubt, some situation could be found to the westward of Wellington Valley, that would answer the purpose, and as an eligible situation is of all other things most important, too much pains cannot be taken to insure success in this particular; it should be isolated so as to be kept distinct from white settlements, and have such natural barriers as would prevent their encroachment upon it; it should be a favourite and usual place of resort for the Aborigines, affording game, and fish, &c. The land should be of the very best quality, and as free of timber as possible, so as not to impose too heavy labour on a description of people naturally averse to work ; and many other particulars which I have already stated in my reports, ought, I conceive, to be attended to in the selection of a situation for a permanent establishment. After an experience of four or five  months in the neighbourhood, the Missionary, if he knows any thing of agricultural affairs, would be the most competent to decide on these questions.

The expenses of such Missionary establishments, have been already estimated, but  now that a deterioration of value has taken place in every thing, these calculations would far exceed the present real amount. 

I should feel much obliged, if it he not contrary to usage, if I were allowed to look over those reports, and possibly my memory would be refreshed, and my subsequent experience would help me in drawing more correct exclusions on certain questions; indeed I am inclined to think an itinerating plan would be the best to be pursued, until the language could be acquired, and an influence gained over their minds; this I think, would be found best to accord with their own habits, and would give the Missionary an . opportunity of acquiring most important information as to their peculiar prejudices,  religious notions, numbers, intercourse, ceremonies, which might ultimately be all made subservient to the grand purpose in view; he could travel, as I did, with his horses, camp, and cart, skirting along the outside stations, and occasionally making incursions of sixty or seventy miles interiorwise as opportunities offered, and stockmen would he found willing to accompany him, for which- service he could always find plenty of volunteers from that class of person!.

It ought, I think, to be a married man; otherwise it would be impossible for him (?) the females, or command such an influence over them, as would secure their children to the objects of the mission.

 I was employed for about two years at Wellington Valley, as a Missionary; and from what I have seen of the blacks, I know that they are very tenacious about any other tribe coming upon their land, and nothing will cause bloodshed or war sooner than such a proceeding.

I think it would be a pity to remove those blacks from Flinders' Island until some measure shall have been taken to civilise the blacks in the interior of this colony.

Without such a step it would be unsafe for the strange blacks to land upon this territory. .

I have myself known a great battle to take place on that account, in which I believe there were fifty-one blacks killed. I was not present at the affray, bat the Wellington tribe led me to the burying grand, and told me the reason of the war.'

I think that the Aborigines on Flinders' Island would only lose those advantages which they have already acquired, and that would only be exposing them to the cruelty of the blacks of this colony, to remove them from where they are. 

In the circumstance of there being more women .... with the Flinders' Island people, would immediately lead to quarrels by the blacks in the neighbourhood of the station they are intended to be placed at, endeavouring to seduce them away.

In regard to the practicability of the Protector first holding intercourse with the blacks in the interior, I will state, what occurred to myself. When at Wellington I proceeded about 180 miles further into the interior,  and there fell in with a tribe which, had never seen a white man before, treated me with kindness, and procured me some opossums and fish. At first and party (consisting of three native blacks), they ascended the trees; ... called to a party which was assembled at a Iittle distance. These immediately came towards me and sat down, denoting peace. Having travelled the bush much before, I was aware of the object of their sitting down, and I had acquired a sufficient knowledge of the language of those parts, to make myself understood. I desired them to fetch me some water, which they did, and brought me some eggs.

I put them in a tin pot and boiled them, which created such fear that they fled, but soon returned, when I entered into conversation with them, explaining to them the nature of houses, cultivation, and the advantage of clothing, and enquired as to their belief in a future state: they said, that they believed they should live again after death—that their souls would be carried with great rapidity upwards, and towards the east, from whence they would be set down in a place abounding with every thing that was good, with which they were acquainted.

I asked what would become of the man who killed his fellow; they answered, he would become a poor man.

In the evening they left me; my own blacks appeared much alarmed, lest they should return in the night and kill them ; being armed with a musket and pistols, I had no such fear myself: however, in the course of the night, my people pointed out a body of natives advancing with lights—I challenged them, and told them to come forward. They desired me not to be concerned, as they were coming to see me once more, expecting it would be a long time before they would see me again, and they wished to have a song and a dance before they left me. They had brought with them fish and roots out of the ground to make a supper.

During the time we were eating two of their people were sent for their implements of war, which were brought accordingly, and laid before myself. At the same time, an old man rose up, and put a battle-axe in each of my blacks' hands, telling them to take care of the white man. After some further conversation, they laid down around me, and remained all night. . .'

In the morning we rose up, and went to the water, where they immediately launched their bark canoes, to go fishing. They presented me with a large portion of the fish which they cooked, to enable me to live well on my journey. I then bid them good bye, and promised to see them again, after the good people of Sydney knew what state they

were in, and their desires. I think if a person can show the natives he is their friend he may place himself in their hands with the utmost safety.

I was once proceeding from Wellington to Mudgee quite alone, and fell in with a party of about seventy natives, who immediately poised tbeir spean to throw at me, but on my calling out to them in their own language, they seemed to know who t was, and u instantaneously dropped them, advancing towards me. I don't think they knew me, but that they had heard of me.

Daring the period I was employed at Wellington Valley, my time was principally occupied in learning the native languages, and in making journeys into the interior. I therefore had not sufficient opportunity of instructing the natives .in their religious duties.

I did not despair of succeeding in effecting much good amongst them—as I had several of their children whom I taught, and who could repeat Watt's Hymns, if the Mission had been properly supported from Home, but it was thought that the expense was too great.

...(?) of Parramatta, examined:—

I kept the Asylum for Aboriginal Children, established at Parramatta; by Governor Macquarie, in 1814, for upwards of eight years—during which time the greatest number of children in the Asylum, at any one period, was, to the best of my recollection, twenty-. three; and the Report now produced shows the number to bars been eleven boys, and twelve girls, from the ages of three years to fifteen, I found their dispositions and their capacity for learning to vary very much. Some of them read and wrote well, and understood arithmetic to a certain extent; but I always found the half-caste children quicker and more tractable than, the blacks. All who were old enough were taught their Catechism, which they repeated very accurately,—and they were taken regularly to church. The School was visited, monthly by a Committee of gentlemen appointed for that purpose and the progress of the children was considered very satisfactory up to the time of giving up the charge in 1823, when they were sent to Black Town, and put under J the care of Mr. Clarke, a Church Missionary, now at New Zealand;

The books were kept by the Rev. Mr. Hill, but whether retained in his possession, or lodged in the office of the Colonial Secretary, I cannot say. 

The expense of the establishment was about £365 per annum,

I visited the settlement two or three times during Mr. Walker's charge, and found a great many of the old blacks amongst them, and that they were in consequence in a very imperilled state.

Several of the girls had married black men, but instead of bearing the effect intended, of reclaiming them, they eventually followed their husbands into the bush, after having given away and destroyed all the supplies with which they had been furnished by the government.

Since that period, some of them hare occasionally visited me, and I found they had relapsed into all the bad habits of the untaught natives. A few of the boys went to sea, but I have not beard what has become of them. Most of the girls hare turned out very bad, but there is one exception in a half-caste girl, who was married to a white man, and was very industrious, taking in needlework, be. I have not, however heard of her for two years.

I Jure frequently conversed with them since, on religious subjects, but they turned them into laughter, and said they had forgotten all about it.


A Monthly Report of the State and Progress of the Aborigines Children in the Native Asylum, Parramatta, from the 1st to the 3I»r of May, 1820.









8 December, 1814 £

Spells four syllables and reads the Bible.




£8 December, 1814

Reads and writes well.




10 January, 1815

reads and writes well.




28 December, 1814

reads and writes well.


Betty Cox


12 August, 1816

reads and writes well.




8 December, 1816 '

reads and writes well.


Betty Fulton


2 August, 1816 t

reads and writes well.

•. 8



12 August, 1816

Improves in reading and spelling.




12 August, 1816

Reads and writes well.



28 December, 1814

Beginning to read and spell.




23 August, 1816

Beginning to read and spell.



s 7

23 August, 1816

Repeats double letters.

• 13

Dicky. •


28 December, 1816

Reads and spells well.


John ,


9 September, 1816

Reads and spells.


Jenny Mulgauway


1 January, 1818

Reads and spells.


Neddy '


17 July, 1818

Repeats the alphabet.




25 September, 1818

Repeats the alphabet.




15 January, 1819

Repeats the alphabet.


Henry ,


1 March, 1819

Repeats the alphabet.




28 December, 1819

Repeats the alphabet




28 December, 1819

Repeals the alphabet.




28 December, 1819

Repeats the alphabet.


Joseph- .

1 3

30 Miy, 1820


Remarks.—The children remain in good health, except Judith, who remains in the same state as in our last. One boy admitted into the school, three yean old, on the 30th of May. 

Letter from the Reverend W. M. Cowper, to the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Australia. 

Port Stephens, 

Sept. 28, 1838. 


A longer period than I had intended has elapsed, since you honoured me with the request that I would state, for the use of the Committee, of which your Lordship is Chairman, any facts which had come to my knowledge, tending to elucidate the habits, capacities, wants, and dispositions of the Aborigines. I beg to apologise for this delay; which has arisen partly from my having been so fully occupied in other duties connected with my sacred office, and partly from a wish to satisfy my own mind by inquiry respecting two or three facts relating to the subject. But I trust I shall not be thought to have been indifferent to it, believing it, as I do, to be one which cannot fail to interest every friend of humanity,, virtue, and religion.

I must remark, in the first place, however, that my opportunities for observation among the Aborigines have been more limited than might be supposed, considering the number who may be said to be in intercourse with Europeans in the Port Stephens' district. That number I should estimate at 300, about that number having been present in the years 1837, and 1838, at the annual feast provided for them by the Australian Agricultural Company. Only a small proportion of these however are to be found in the neighbourhood of Carrington, where 1 have resided ; and I cannot help fearing that my remarks will very feebly, if at all, aid the objects of the Committee.

By inquiries which I have made from time to time of those who have lived here, I have learnt that here as in other parts of the colony, the decrease in the Aboriginal population has been, within ten years, lamentably great; out of the large tribe or tribes who were then the occupants of the soil scarcely any now remaining. And among those who do visit us, you rarely observe any increase. The deaths at the same time have been, within my own knowledge, comparatively numerous. For this decrease there are doubtless several causes; but those which strike my own mind, and which seem to me the chief, are the immoral practices of the Europeans, by which disease has been increased, if not originally propagated, the circumstance of half-caste children being destroyed as soon as opportunity offers after they are born, and the rejection of the women by their   husbands, when they hare proved unfaithful, of which I have known several instances. I ought to add to these that many died of the measles about three yean ago.

With regard to their habits, in general, I do not know that I can communicate any thing beyond what mint be too well known already to require any comment from me. In their natural state they are exceedingly indolent, and so long as they can contrive to eke out a subsistence upon fish, roots, grubs, kangaroos, &c, seem satisfied. They frequently remove from place to place, induced, I believe, either by the desire for food, or of seeing their friends, or to hold their " Corrobaries, fight their enemies, or carry on some superstitious practices. But when they have been accustomed for some time to the superior food of Europeans, they become disposed to labour for it to a certain degree, and seem to consider it in some measure necessary. There are several instances here at the present time of individuals having quite forsaken the Aboriginal diet, and mode of life, induced by the superior comforts they enjoy. And almost every family upon the estate is benefited by the labour (more or less) of others who are in a less degree industrious. 

Their dispositions, I am persuaded, are not so hostile or aggressive as many persons think it their interest to represent them. They have a sense of wrong done to them as well as we, and when they hate been treated with cruelty, or injustice by us, need it create surprise if they attempt revenge! About five years ago, a man was murdered by them at the Gloucester station, about sixty miles in the interior, but it was for these reasons: he had taken an Aboriginal woman and lived with her in a state of concubinage.' This continued some time, and I believe he was unmolested. Bat the woman had a younger sister, and when she had grown up, he, rejecting the elder, took the younger in her place, and treated the elder with harshness. She then returned to her ' own people; and upon his going to bring her back by force, he was put to death. I have certainly found that they are not insensible to kindness, nor incapable of gratitude and affection. As an illustration of this, I will mention a fact which struck me forcibly when I heard it. Some years ago, the man called Bugg, employed as an overseer by the Australian Agricultural Company in Gloucester district, had taken a black woman and lived with her, as the other individual already mentioned. For some reason which I have not heard, an attack was made upon him by the Aborigines when sitting at his hut the woman being inside. The shepherds' hut was at some distance on the opposite side and too far for the voice to be well heard. The blacks rushed upon Bugg and were beating him severely, intending shortly to make an end of him. The woman however saved him. She instantly seized the musket or gun from the corner of the hut, ran to the door, and fired at them. The blacks immediately left, and the report being heard by the men in the shepherds' hut, they came and prevented any further aggression. 

Another instance of affection I know is this. A boy, who has been employed for four yean by a person in Carrington, and well rewarded for his labour, always, I am assured, contributes something to the wants of his father, from the food or money which he receives. Not only, however, have I found them conscious of wrong done to themselves, but also of the wrongs done by them to others. And in consequence of this feeling, I have known them absent themselves from us for a considerable time, until they thought that anger against them had worn away, and they might again make their appearance without fear of our displeasure. In short they possess in common with us the dispositions peculiar to humanity, though deeply degraded and perverted from their original purposes.

In speaking of their capacities, I would remark, that I have seen enough to convince me that they are equal to learning any of the common arts and employments of civilised society. There is a woman now living in a family at this place, who is really an excellent house-servant of all work. I do not know by what term I can better describe her. She cleans the house and that well, she cooks, makes bread, makes and mends her own clothes, washes and irons, nurses the baby of her mistress, makes herself generally useful. There is a young man, who some months ago took her for his wife, who is become equally clean, useful, and industrious, as a servant in Mrs. Dumaresq's family. I once had no male servant for three months except a native black; and I found him remarkably active, and ready to learn what was required of him.

Two of the best workers (?) employed by the Australian Agricultural Company are Aborigines: who are clothed and rationed, and constantly engaged by them. As shepherds they are often temporarily engaged at the stations, in the absence of any of the Europeans, and I have never heard of any loss by any one of them. On the contrary they always bring the sheep home in perfect safety. ... several have gone out in whaling vessels, and are sought by the Captains, to go a second time. In addition to which capacity for such arts and employments, they are capable, which above all distinguishes man from the inferior animals, of religion. It is difficult in a plan like this when they have been long associated with as, to learn what knowledge of a God they have naturally, and among themselves. But tome of the more intelligent of them, have an idea of a higher power than human, of which they seem to be afraid. What lamentable reflection it .... too commonly instead of seeking to deliver them from that spirit of bondage, by imputing to them the true knowledge of the only God, and of his Son Jesus Christ, the sinners hope and refuge, they, who are Christians in name, have helped to degrade and demoralize them. 

There can be no doubt I think, of the great evils that have arisen in this respect from the intercourse with convict population, spread throughout the territory; and those evils will, I fear, continue to exist while such is the condition of this colony. it should anticipate beneficial results to the Aborigines from the introduction of British families of good repute and morals, to supply the place of the convicts, or at least to be diffused more generally throughout the community, and exert a more wholesome influence than can at present exist. It is certainly the duty of the British Government and of the colony to do all in their power to preserve this unhappy race from extirpation, and not : to leave them in a worse condition than that in which they previously existed. But more than this, they ought not to be satisfied with any thing less than making them Christians, and elevating them to that scale in human society, for which they may be fitted by instruction and civilization, and to which Christianity will eventually lead them. 

I have now trespassed long enough upon your Lordship's attention, and though more rnay be said upon so interesting a subject, I will conclude, by subscribing myself,

Your Lordship's most obedient, and humble Servant, 

William Cowper