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  • Title
    Letter from William M. Bannatyne to Other Windsor Berry Esq. relating to the Myall Creek Massacre, 17 December 1838
  • Creator
  • Call number
    MLMSS 9668
  • Level of description
  • Date

    17 December 1838
  • Type of material
  • Reference code
  • Physical Description
    0.01 metres of textual material (1 folder)

    The Myall Creek massacre occurred on 10 June 1838 when twelve European settlers, seeking revenge after conflicts with local Indigenous people, came across a group of approximately 30 Wirrayaraay people at Myall Creek who they captured and subsequently murdered. The men returned two days later to the scene of the massacre to burn the bodies.

    Eleven of the twelve men involved in the massacre were arrested shortly after the event but not found guilty. A second charge was issued to arrest seven of the men who were re-tried and found guilty resulting in a sentence of death. Despite several legal petitions from the convicted, the sentence was carried out and the men were hanged on Tuesday 18th December 1838.

    Department of the Environment, Australian Government. http://www.environment.gov.au/ (accessed 5 May 2015)
  • Scope and Content
    Letter written on 1 sheet (folded to 3 pages and envelope) in cross-hatched handwriting from W. Bannatyne in Sydney to Other Windsor Berry Esq. at his address at Doddington Place, Kennington, Surrey, England, 17 December 1838.

    After sharing news of his sister's new child and deploring Berry for not writing to him, Bannatyne proceeds to write:

    'By the bye, writing of sentiment, I must not forget to tell you of a circumstance which has agitated the public mind in the Colony lately. You may perhaps see something of it in the newspapers – A quantity of stockmen in the interior having had their masters’ cattle speared by the Native Aborigines were determined on revenging themselves the first opportunity – falling in with a tribe of strange Blacks 30 in number – men, women & children, a tribe they apparently never saw before, totally innocent of the charge, for which they were slaughtered without having given the slightest provocation and unsuspecting by confiding in the protection of one of these wretches were enticed to the huts of the Stockmen, where having bound their hands and having fastened them together, took them into a remote part of the Bush, and then in cold blood murdered every soul of them , after which, they piled them in a heap and burnt their bodies – the remains were however discovered by persons attracted to the spot by seeing birds of prey hovering about in great numbers over the scene of the massacre – information was forwarded to Government – the men were brought to justice tried twice by separate juries and the second time found guilty – Some escaped but the 7 who were tried are all to be hanged on Tuesday 18 inst. ; their trial created an extraordinary sensation in the Colony and will be the subject of gossip for many a long day yet. The Greenacre Murder was nothing to this – “quite a rush light to a mould candle."'

    In a postscript Bannatyne adds more to his account after having returned from witnessing the men being hanged:

    'I have just returned from seeing the seven men all launched into eternity at the same moment it was an awful sight and has made me feel quite sick – I shall never forget it.'
  • Copying Conditions
    Copyright status:: In copyright
    Research & study copies allowed: Author has been deceased for more than 50 years
    Approval for publication required:
    Please acknowledge:: Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
  • Finding Aids
  • General note

    Digital order no:Album ID : 1336593
  • Creator/Author/Artist
  • Subject
  • Place
  • Exhibited in

    - Amaze Gallery exhibition 15 June 2015
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