Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-kw98b Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-03-01T13:22:21.170Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

On the Utmost Verge: Race and Ethnic Relations at Moreton Bay, 1799–1842

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 February 2016

Get access

Extract

The native races know us chiefly by our crimes.

— Karl Marx

‘Moreton Bay’ was certainly a name to be conjured with among the early Australian penal stations. As well as being a forbidding secondary detention centre, it represented — both within and around itself — a microcosmic world of early colonial race and ethnic relations. For this custodial system was rudely imposed upon pre-existing and long-enduring social orders of a dramatically dissimilar kind. It intruded into human populations that greatly outnumbered its own, implanted itself and militarily usurped portions of territory in a variety of locations, occupied by and spiritually amalgamated with a substantial body of Aboriginal communities. To these people, for whom life was ‘a billowing of the consciousness of country’, it was a visitation utterly without precedent. The repercussions of its ongoing presence were largely uninvited and unrehearsed. The station's existence was at first a wonder and a puzzle, then an impediment and a curse. It greatly transformed immutable lifeways, invariably impoverishing them; it reduced social options rather than expanding them; it denuded the host culture of its efficacy; and it assailed the people's health and decimated their numbers. The familiar environment was reconstructed and the old place-names largely obliterated and changed. For the incomer, to name was to own. The many visible signs of Aboriginal material occupancy were ignored as palpable evidence of legal possession and, eventually, erased. Erased too was much of the evidence of these very acts of erasure, whether material, cultural or human. Detailed evidence of what happened — or was perceived to have happened — in the myriad interactions between Aborigines and non-Aborigines of the convict settlement between 1824 and 1842 is scanty and fragmented: staccato bursts of often-tantalising information against an otherwise frustrating backdrop of silence. Distance from Sydney as well as London was the essential buffer that nurtured this atmosphere of secrecy, feeding its potency and allowing the Moreton Bay regime to proceed virtually as a law unto itself insofar as northern frontier relations were concerned.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Notes

1 Marx, Karl, quoted in Parsons, G., Black Chattels: The Story of the Australian Aborigines (London: National Council for Civil Liberties, 1946), 11.Google Scholar

2 Swain, T., A Place for Strangers: Towards a History of Australian Aboriginal Being (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 44.Google Scholar

3 Harrison, J., ‘Governors, Gaolers and Guards: The Irish Soldiers in the British Army at Moreton Bay, 1824–42’, typescript, in possession of author; R. Evans, A History of Queensland (Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 29; J. Harrison, ‘The Very Worst Class: Irish Female Recidivists at Moreton Bay’, in ReeceB. (ed.), Irish Convict Lives (Sydney: Crossing Press, 1993).Google Scholar

4 Clunie, J. to Colonial Secretary Macleay, 31 January 1832 and G. Browning to Master Attendant Nicholson, 17 May 1832, in Steele, J., Brisbane Town in Convict Days 1824–1842 (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1975), 155–64; J. Green to F. Fyans, 17 October 1836 and Petition of Mary Green, 12 December 1836, 36/8911 and 10,430, CSL micro. 9.Google Scholar

5 Steele, Brisbane Town, 9, 52; Fyans, F., Record of Charles Smith, 28 June 1836. Smith, who was now 70 years of age and very infirm, wished ‘if he could, to go to his native country, Germany’, CSL micro. 9.Google Scholar

6 Clunie, J. to Commandant, Norfolk Island, 3 February 1835 and J. Clunie to Colonial Secretary, 2 December 1834, 35/264, CSL micro. 3 and 8.Google Scholar

7 Nominal List of Prisoners Remaining at Moreton Bay under Colonial Sentence … 30 November 1839, CSL micro. 10.Google Scholar

8 Fyans, F. to Colonial Secretary, 6 September 1836 and R. Morgan to F. Fyans, 7 September 1837, CSL, micro. 9.Google Scholar

9 Ryan, T. to Colonial Secretary, 10 April 1840 and J. Miller to Colonial Secretary, 7 April 1840, CSL, micro. 11.Google Scholar

10 J. Clunie to Colonial Secretary, 9 June 1834, CSL, micro. 8; B. Thorpe and R. Evans, ‘Frontier Transgressions: Writing a History of Race, Identity and Convictism in Early Colonial Queensland’, Continuum 13(3) (1999): 328–29; The Petition of Shake Browne (sic), 16 November 1833, CSL, micro. 8.Google Scholar

11 Moreton Bay Book of Trials, 19 May 1841, Oxley Library ms. (OML).Google Scholar

12 Markus, A., Australian Race Relations 1788–1993 (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1994), 55.Google Scholar

13 Swain, A Place for Strangers, 119.Google Scholar

14 Evans, R., Fighting Words: Writing About Race (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1999), 51.Google Scholar

15 Steele, J., The Explorers of the Moreton Bay District, 1770–1830 (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1972), 59–79.Google Scholar

16 Evans, R., ‘Early Racial Contact and Conflict on Stradbroke Island’, in Ganter, R. (ed.), Whose Island? The Past and Future of North Stradbroke (Brisbane: Griffith University, 1992), 25.Google Scholar

17 Steele, Explorers, 16–17, 41–46.Google Scholar

18 Moreton Bay Courier, 17 June 1848.Google Scholar

19 Steele, Explorers, 77–78, 239–58; Fraser, C., Journal of a Residence on the Banks of the Rivers Brisbane and Logan from 30 June to 6 September 1828, entry for 25 and 30 July 1828.Google Scholar

20 Gunson, N. (ed.), Australian Reminiscences and Papers of L.E. Threlkeld, Missionary to the Aborigines 1824–1859 (Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, 1974), 339.Google Scholar

21 Steele, Explorers, 201–2.Google Scholar

22 Cunningham, A., ‘Journey overland to the Darling Downs’, November 1827, CSL micro. 4.Google Scholar

23 Evans, ‘Early Racial Contact’, 26.Google Scholar

24 S. Cotton to Colonial Secretary, 14 November 1837, CSL micro. 10.Google Scholar

25 Handt, J., ‘Report of Transactions Relative to Condition of the Aborigines in the District of Moreton Bay for the Year 1841’, 27 November 1841, CSL micro. 12.Google Scholar

26 Evans, Fighting Words, 71.Google Scholar

27 Abstract of the Hospital Returns Received from Moreton Bay from September 1829 to December 1831’, 32/1365, CSL micro. 6. In September 1830, numbers again reached 1,288.Google Scholar

28 Gunson, Australian Reminiscences, 84.Google Scholar

29 Whalley, P., An Introduction to the Steele, Explorers, 77–78, 239–58; Aboriginal Social History of Moreton Bay, South East Queensland from 1799 to 1880, BA (Hons) thesis, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of Queensland, 1987, 18–19.Google Scholar

30 Steele, Explorers, 203, 131.Google Scholar

31 Ovens, J. to Lieutenant Miller, 29 August 1824, in Steele, Brisbane Town, 4.Google Scholar

32 S. Cotton to Colonial Secretary, 14 November 1827, CSL micro. 10.Google Scholar

33 Atkins, T., The Wanderings of a Clerical Eulysses (Greenwich: W.H. Crockford, 1859), 47–65.Google Scholar

34 Eipper, C., Statement on the Origin, Condition and Prospects of the German Mission to the Aborigines at Moreton Bay, 1841, 9–10.Google Scholar

35 Evans, History of Queensland, 34; Harrison, ‘Governors’, 4.Google Scholar

36 Steele, Explorers, 47, 98, 331.Google Scholar

37 Sydney Gazette, 20 October 1855.Google Scholar

38 Moreton Bay Courier, 17 June 1848.Google Scholar

39 Steele, Explorers, 47, 98.Google Scholar

40 Sydney Gazette, 9 December 1824; Steele, Explorers, 41–46, 194–95.Google Scholar

41 Petrie, C., Tom Petrie's Reminiscences of Early Queensland (Brisbane: Lloyd O'Neil, 1904), 274; Evans, History of Queensland, 32; Evans, Fighting Words, 56.Google Scholar

42 Swain, Place for Strangers, 19, 29, 46.Google Scholar

43 Petrie, Reminiscences, 58; Steele, Explorers, 93.Google Scholar

44 Swain, Place for Strangers, 122–23.Google Scholar

45 Narrative of John Graham’, 1837, CSL micro. 9.Google Scholar

46 Eipper, ‘Statement on the Origin’, 13–14.Google Scholar

47 Swain, Place for Strangers, 101.Google Scholar

48 Swain, Place for Strangers, 51–52.Google Scholar

49 Steele, Explorers, 134, 147–49.Google Scholar

50 Evans, ‘Early Racial Contact’, 23–24; see also Brown, P. (ed.), Memoirs Recorded at Geelong, Victoria, by Captain Foster Fyans (1790–1870) (Geelong: Geelong Advertiser, 1986), 185–87.Google Scholar

51 Edwardson, W., Report, July 1822, AO reel 751.Google Scholar

52 Brisbane, T. to Oxley, J., 20 and 30 August 1824, CSL micro. 6.Google Scholar

53 Sydney Gazette 19 December 1824; T. Brisbane to Lieut. Miller, 27 August 1824, AO reel 749 and reel 751; W. Johnston, Brisbane: The First Thirty Years (Brisbane: Boolarong, 1988), 27.Google Scholar

54 Petrie, Reminiscences, 188–89.Google Scholar

55 Evans, History of Queensland, 35.Google Scholar

56 Kirkhove, R., ‘Map of Aboriginal Brisbane’ (in possession of author).Google Scholar

57 Steele, Explorers, 186.Google Scholar

58 Logan, P. to Colonial Secretary, 27 October 1829, CSL micro. 4.Google Scholar

59 Bishop, P. to Colonial Secretary, 14 March 1826, AO reel 751; J. Clunie to Colonial Secretary, 12 January 1833, AO NSW 4/2204.1.Google Scholar

60 Fyans, F., 6 January 1836, CSL micro. 8.Google Scholar

61 O'Keefe, M., ‘The Runaway Convicts of Moreton Bay’, Royal Historical Society of Queensland Journal, 10(1) (1975–76): 54–55; F. Fyans to Colonial Secretary, 9 May 1837, Col. Sec. in-letters, Moreton Bay, 37/5416.Google Scholar

62 Logan, P. to Colonial Secretary, 27 October 1829, CSL micro. 4.Google Scholar

63 Smythe, H. to Colonial Secretary, 19 February 1830, CSL micro. 6.Google Scholar

64 Fyans, F. to Colonial Secretary, 20 February 1836, CSL micro. 9.Google Scholar

65 Petrie, Reminiscences, 232.Google Scholar

66 Fyans, R. to Colonial Secretary, 29 September 1836, AO 750; Governor Bourke, ‘Report of Backhouse and Walker — Moreton Bay and Lake MacQuarie 26 May 1836, Col. Sec. in-letters, Moreton Bay, 4/2325.4.Google Scholar

67 Book of Trials, 23 December 1836, OML.Google Scholar

68 Deposition of William Adams (Countess of Harcourt), Book of Trials, 23 December 1836, OML.Google Scholar

69 Ford, R., God's Harvest. A Social and Agricultural History of the German Mission to the Aboriginal People of Moreton Bay, Master of Arts thesis, University of the Sunshine Coast, 2006, 57–58, 70, 74, 75, 82, 90, 99.Google Scholar

70 Book of Trials, 2 February 1837 and 9 February 1838, OML.Google Scholar

71 J. Clunie report, 2 December 1834, CSL micro. 8; J. Parker to F. Fyans, 1 December 1835, CSL micro. 8; W. Miller to Colonial Secretary, 1 May and 22 November 1837, CSL micro. 9; Major Cotton report, 22 June 1838, CSL, micro. 10.Google Scholar

72 Steele, Explorers, 78–83.Google Scholar

73 Swain, Place for Strangers, 54.Google Scholar

74 Manifest of Cargo and Passengers shipped on the Colonial Schooner Isabella for Moreton Bay, 30 May 1838, 30/5381, CSL micro. 10.Google Scholar

75 S. Cotton to Colonial Secretary, 7 September 1837, CSL micro. 9.Google Scholar

76 Archibald Campbell to William Shaw, 24 May 1837 National Army Museum, London (with thanks to John Mackenzie-Smith).Google Scholar

77 Petrie, Reminiscences, 3.Google Scholar

78 Steele, Explorers, 73–74, 28; A. Campbell, 24 May 1837 (with thanks to John Mackenzie-Smith).Google Scholar

79 O'Keefe, , ‘Runaways’, 55; Steele, Brisbane Town, 96.Google Scholar

80 Evans, ‘Early Racial Contact’, 27; Steele, Brisbane Town, 48–49.Google Scholar

81 Whalley, ‘Introduction’, 70–71.Google Scholar

82 Harris, J., One Blood. 200 Years of Aboriginal Encounter with Christianity (Sydney: Albatross Books, 1990), 110; J. Clunie to Colonial Secretary, 27 February 1833, CSL micro. 8.Google Scholar

83 Sydney Monitor, 3 April 1830.Google Scholar

84 Watkins, G., ‘Notes on the Aboriginals of Stradbroke and Moreton Islands’, Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland 8(43) (1892): 43.Google Scholar

85 Porter, J., Porter Papers, c. 1909, 7-8 OM 66-18, Oxley Memorial Library (with thanks to John Mackenzie-Smith).Google Scholar

86 Steele, Brisbane Town, 154; J. Wood to Dr Moran, 10 August 1829, CSL micro. 4; J. Clunie to Colonial Secretary, 10 July 1831, CSL micro. 5.Google Scholar

87 Evans, Fighting Words, 64–65; Evans, ‘Early Racial Contact’, 29–31.Google Scholar

88 Cotton, S. to Colonial Secretary, 7 September 1837, CSL micro. 9; Watkins, ‘Notes’, 43–44.Google Scholar

89 Welsby, T., The Collected Works of Thomas Welsby (Brisbane: Jacaranda, 1962), vol. 2, 287–88.Google Scholar

90 Evans, R., ‘Captain Logan's Ghost’, in Evans, R. Ferrier, C. (eds), Radical Brisbane. An Unruly History (Melbourne: Vulgar Press, 2004), 19–23; Australasian Chronicle, 15 May and 27 July 1841; Sydney Herald, 5 and 27 May 1841.Google Scholar

91 Brown, Memoirs, 165; Petition of Alexander McPherson, 17 July 1837, CSL, micro. 9; List of Convicts … in Search of the Shipwrecked Crew of the Brig, Sterling Castle, 8 November 1836, CSL micro. 9; Memorandum of John Graham, 4 January 1837, CSL micro. 9; C. Otter to Commandant, 27 August 1836, CSL micro. 9; J. Campbell, correspondence, January 1836.Google Scholar

92 Evans, R. Thorpe, W., ‘In Search of “Jack Bushman”’, in Frost, L. Maxwell-Stewart, H. (eds), Chain Letters: Narrating Convict Lives (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2001), 36; J. Bushman, ‘Passages from the Life of a Lifer’, Moreton Bay Courier, 30 April 1859.Google Scholar

93 Eipper, C., Account of a Journey to the Bunya Mountains, 21 March 1843, Revd. J.D. Lang Papers, 1837067, A2240, vol. 20, Mitchell Library (with thanks to Anna Haebich). Banks, at 26 years of age, was sentenced at Stafford, England on 12 January 1820. He was transported on the Shipley and described as having a dark, sallow complexion, black hair and ‘hazle’ eyes.Google Scholar

94 Logan, P. to Colonial Secretary, 20 June 1830, CSL micro. 5.Google Scholar

95 Simpson, S., The Simpson Letterbook, 1842–52, edited by Langevad, G. (Brisbane: Anthropology Museum, University of Queensland, 1979), 2.Google Scholar

96 Hallowell, A., ‘American Indians, White and Black: The Phenomenon of Transculturation’, Current Anthropology, 4(5) (1963): 519–31 (with thanks to Bruce Rigsby).Google Scholar

97 Simpson, Letterbook, 2; Truth, 23 May 1915.Google Scholar

98 Clunie, J. to Colonial Secretary, 12 January 1833, CSL micro. 8.Google Scholar

99 Statement of Jose Kooridiana (alias Sheik Brown), Newcastle, 2 July 1833, CSL micro. 8.Google Scholar

100 Cotton, S. to Colonial Secretary, 3 July 1839, CSL micro. 10.Google Scholar

101 Gorman, O. to Colonial Secretary, 29 July 1839, CSL micro. 10.Google Scholar

102 Brown, A. to Colonial Secretary, 26 March 1835, CSL micro. 8; Gunson, Australian Reminiscences, 124; J. Backhouse, A Narrative of a Visit to the Australian Colonies (London: Hamilton Adams, 1843), 376; Steele, Brisbane Town, 288.Google Scholar

103 Balfour, J. to Gorman, O., 6 October 1841, CSL micro. 12.Google Scholar

104 Swain, Place for Strangers, 42, 57.Google Scholar

105 Sketland, Henry, or Thompson, William, was sentenced to life for forgery at Louth on 28 July 1828 and transported on the Sophia: Memo on Thompson, 7 May 1841, CSL micro. 12; W. Whyte to Colonial Secretary, 13 June 1841, CSL micro. 12; Australasian Chronicle 7 July 1841; R. Dixon to Colonial Secretary, 2 October 1840, NSW Colonial Secretary Correspondence, Moreton Bay special bundle, no. 7, NSW State Archives; Depositions re Death of Granville Stapylton and William Tuck, 22 June 1840, Moreton Bay Book of Trials, Oxley Memorial Library.Google Scholar

106 O. Gorman to Colonial Secretary, 27 November 1840 and 3 June 1841, CSL micro. 12.Google Scholar

107 McDonald, G. to Colonial Secretary, 28 January 1841, CSL micro. 12.Google Scholar

108 Gorman, O. to Colonial Secretary, 1 November 1840, CSL micro. 12; G. Leslie to parents, 24 June 1841, Leslie Letters 1834–1860, Box 2, OM 71-43, Oxley Memorial Library.Google Scholar

109 Petition of George Brown, 20 June 1838; O. Gorman to Colonial Secretary, 29 July 1839; S. Cotton to Colonial Secretary, 15 March and 3 July 1839; CSL micro. 10.Google Scholar

110 Gorman, O. to Colonial Secretary, 13 August 1840, CSL micro. 12.Google Scholar

111 Brown, G., Deposition, 13 and 19 January 1842, Moreton Bay Book of Trials, Oxley Memorial Library.Google Scholar

112 Hodgson, A., Report on Aboriginal Outrage, 27 October 1841, NSW Col. Sec., 41/9744, CSL micro. 12; Brown, G., Deposition, 12–19 January 1842; J. Campbell, The Early Settlement of Queensland and Other Articles (Ipswich: Ipswich Observer, 1875), 9.Google Scholar

113 French, M., Conflict on the Condamine: Aborigines and the European Invasion (Toowoomba: Darling Downs Institute Press, 1989), 102; Steele, Brisbane Town, 300–01; Campbell, Early Settlement, 9.Google Scholar

114 Brown, G., Trial, 30 October 1841; G. Brown, Deposition, 12–19 January 1842, Book of Trials. Google Scholar

115 Rogers, J. to Colonial Secretary, 8 February 1842; O. Gorman to Colonial Secretary, 14 April 1842; Affidavits of H. Marriott and S. Wade, 14 May 1842, CSL micro. 12.Google Scholar

116 Colonial Gazette 3 March 1841, reprinted in Australian 7 August 1841.Google Scholar

117 Dowse, T., Recollections and Reminiscences, 1828–1878, 27, Oxley Memorial Library; Sydney Morning Herald, 6 and 25 July, 22 August, 2 September 1843.Google Scholar

118 Flanagan, R.J., quoted in Gunson, Australian Reminiscences, 26, 36; Mackenzie-Smith, J., Mackenzie, Evan, Pioneer Merchant Pastoralist of Moreton Bay, Masters thesis, Department of History, University of Queensland, 89–91.Google Scholar