Prelude and Postscript to a Wedding

Originally Published 4 June 2014:

sidetracked river

 

I thought I’d deviate for a moment and try and pull Patrick’s epic year of 1837 a little more together. That way it’s done properly and I won’t need to come back to it. It’ll be worth it, because this was no ordinary time.

Specifically, I want to try and find out who William was, the King George’s Sound native mentioned in the previous post and described in the Bussell family diaries, and whether or not it was him who lost his life at Garden Island. Also, I want to look more closely at the Albany/Perth expedition hosted by Dr Joseph Harris and Alfred Hillman in February of that year and Patrick’s role in joining it. I want to see if he had attached himself to any particular Aboriginal help by that time and if so, who it might have been. There is also the very interesting case of the Albany Aborigines going to Perth as a group subsequent to the death of the Albany man in Patrick’s company  on Garden Island that year. As a back drop to this is the September wedding and the violence which broke out at the Bussell homestead, ‘Cattle Chosen’, ahead of it, and I want to try and see how exposed Patrick and Mary were to what happened. All of this took place within a colony beset by wider settler/native aggressions and an almost desperate sense of economic ill health.

Epic, just about describes it.


So, to begin. We know two things  happened before the end of April 1837. One,  that Patrick was at the Vasse River and two, that he was part of an important and historic expedition between Albany and the Swan River.

But which happened first?

Shann, says, “Early in 1837 Taylor visited ‘Cattle Chosen’  Their  (Patrick’s and Mary’s) engagement was announced shortly after Vernon, Mary and Fanny reached the Swan River in April of that year.”

Was Patrick at the Vasse River over the  1836/37 Christmas/New Year period?

There’s no record of him as a passenger on any of the advertised or reported sailings between Fremantle, Vasse River, Augusta or Albany any time between mid 1836 and April 1837. It doesn’t mean he wasn’t on one though, it just means he wasn’t a reported passenger.

Patrick Taylor Imports per Addingham July 1836

The only report I could find which quoted his name came in the Perth Gazette in 1836 after the ship Addingham landed goods at Fremantle on June 26th. Amongst other articles under Patrick’s name were twelve barrels of pork and three firkins of butter (a firkin was a quarter sized barrel – about 35 litres). If nothing else, it reflects the lack of productivity in the colony. After seven years they were still relying on imported staples such as pork, flour and butter.

Opposite: Excerpt from  The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, Saturday 2nd July 1836.

If Patrick did go to the Vasse in January 1837 he was back in Albany by February 21st. We know this because he’s recorded as playing a role in the overland expedition led by Dr Joseph Harris to establish a military post at a place Harris called Warriup (somewhere between Kojonup and Williams; possibly what became the barracks at Kojonup); the plan being to locate and establish the post and be the first to blaze a cart track all the way from the Sound to the Swan River in the process. The expedition essentially created the Perth Albany road.

In the three years before he got married, Patrick felt the responsibility new moneyed settlers had placed upon them to open up the country (read; discovering agricultural land good enough to attract new buyers/settlers and then making it productive), and the Sound, having attracted criticism from the Capital on account of its perceived listlessness, needed to act. The settlers at Albany were not doing enough, quick enough, to get their local economy up and running and this was looked down-upon from above. Every time colonists imported something they should be producing locally it represented an outflow of wealth and this looks to have been Perth’s primary frustration with Albany, over time becoming the source of  a long-held adverse rivalry between the two locations.

Patrick’s sense of responsibility, no doubt impressed upon him by Stirling, led him to the upper reaches of the Hay River (Mnt Barker) in July 1835, apparently heading an expedition to see what the country was like there.  The ex-naval Lieutenant Peter Belches went too, but there’s no record I can find of the Aboriginal guides that went with them.

The newspaper report of that expedition  (opposite: Perth Gazette and West Australian Journal, Saturday 27 June 1835)  reflects the disgruntlement already evident between the go-getters in the Capital and the lackadaisical King George Sounders.

What’s interesting about the report is the urgency behind its claim that Patrick (and others) are about to take up land on the Hay River. There is no evidence he or Belches did. The one who established there was Sir Richard Spencer (at Narrikup), who may have got a rush of confidence from the recent reconnaissance, but he bought his 1940 acres, that year, from Sir James Stirling who had given himself a 100, 000 acre grant of the best identified land after the Wilson/Mokare Hay River expedition of 1829.  After Spencer established, but not for another seven years, George Egerton-Warburton became just the second to settle in the area.

Economic movement in the Albany hinterland at that time was indeed slow.

Interesting also, according to this report, is that Patrick had already returned from Van Diemen’s Land. This is useful to know. When the James Pattison  arrived at the Swan River colony in 1834, it anchored first at King George’s Sound in June, where it stayed until August. During that time, along with Belches, Sherratt, Dunn, and the Cheynes (remember Capt. Alexander and his nephew’s John and George McCartney?) Patrick decided to make Albany his home. Patrick did go to Fremantle however, when the James Pattison finally set sail with the Stirlings and remaining passengers aboard, in August.

At the Swan River he had a good look around. In November he was reported as attending a quarterly meeting of the Agricultural Society at Guildford  in the company of James Stirling and Captain Blackwood of the Hyacinth(Irwin; Page 81) Soon after, Taylor was on Blackwood’s ship bound for King George’s Sound but (according to Alexander Cheyne’s Diary 27.3.35) was ‘carried on‘ and so arrived into Hobart instead. Patrick went up to Launceston and stayed a while with the Henty’s at their Cormiston property there before sailing with Henry Camfield and Stephen Henty back to King George’s Sound (probably in the Sally Ann) on one of the Henty trade sailings between the two colonies. According to a letter written by Thomas Henty, from Cormiston, to his son Edward, in April 1835, (Bassett; The Henty’s; Pg 334) they had recently departed. This means Patrick was active in and around Albany only from about April/May 1835. He bought the S44/45 lots (now Patrick Taylor Cottage) in June 1835 and the following month went with Belches on the above Hay River excursion.

Patrick Taylor on Harrison Expdn 1837All of which which begs the question; apart from pick up his goods off the Addingham that winter, what exactly did he do in the year 1836?

Opposite:  From the report of Dr Joseph Harris, Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, Saturday 17th July 1837.

In any case, Patrick set off as a member of the Harris/Hillman expedition on February 21st, 1837, the year of his engagement and marriage. The expedition was a big deal. Apart from Harris, who was a doctor and keen explorer, and Alfred Hillman who led using his surveyors skills (the two of them with a driver in command of a government cart), there was an eight man contingent from the 21st Regiment led by Lieut. Armstrong, followed by another cart sent by Thomas Brooker Sherratt with a driver and a boy. Patrick went, presumably on horseback, as did the eccentric medical man of Albany during that period, Dr Harrison – though Harrison turned around near Mt Barker and went back. There is mention of Kartrull, aka Jack Handsome, as being the lead Aboriginal guide but, apart from a single suggestion of there being other Noongars in the party, no other Aboriginal names are recorded.

I tried to find published accounts of both the Harris and Hillman journal’s but neither are in the public domain. Hillman’s digitised  Fieldbook No.5 does not carry details.  So, for the time being, we have to rely solely on what can be trawled from the old newspapers. Specifically, the Perth Gazette report of 18 March, 1837.

Cartool (Kartrull) Chauncy c1852

Kartrull is mentioned in Dr Harris’ report a couple of times which indicates his status amongst the settlers. It’s clear they’re familiar with him and that they trust him. That confidence is a fair indication Kartrull could communicate well and that he expressed his desire to want to visit the place the settlers called Swan River. He certainly had presence anyway and will almost certainly have known about Manyat and Gyallipert’s visit to the Swan four years earlier. The suggestion is that he was one of the ambitious, roaming, economically minded Noongars which contrasted with the territorial types whose role it was to manage and protect their inherited country.

Opposite: Phillip Chauncy’s sketch of  Cartool (Kartrull/Jack Handsome) made c. 1852.

To the question whether Kartrull (aka Jack Handsome) was the same person as William, the King George’s Sound native recorded as being with the Bussells at ‘Cattle Chosen’ in April 1837 – and also the same ‘King George’s Sound native who was murdered on Garden Island just a few months later – the answer is no. Jack Handsome was active as a whaler for many years after 1837 and was also sketched by Phillip Chauncy around 1852.

Therefore, ‘The King George’s Sound native, who met his ‘accident’ on Garden Island, was not Katrull.

It’s still not clear who William was though. This man was first described by Fanny Bussell as ‘a King George’s Sound native staying with us’ at Augusta in January 1834. He was also at the Vasse in April 1837. This is more than useful information because January 1834 pre-dates the arrival of Patrick Taylor  and Mary Bussell on the James Pattison. William, therefore, was not Patrick Taylor’s indentured help.

However William got to Augusta, and however he allied himself to the Bussells, he must have made his way there by different means. Perhaps he was related to Gyallipert, who we know, along with his father Maragnan, and uncle Metyalpin, were closely connected with Augusta? (Shellam; Shaking Hands On The Fringe; Pg 141.)

It’s important to try and establish this because indigenous travellers in those days did need to have their contacts in foreign country. If they were unknown and unprotected then they were probably thought to be either an outcast or a predator, either of which made them extremely vulnerable.

To my mind, there isn’t much chance William went to Augusta on his own, especially to take up a position in the Bussell household. He was either brought to Augusta by the settlers (as an orphan or mixed-race son of someone who took some responsibility for him) or he was part Menang and part Wardandi. That is, connected to both the South and West Coasts by marriage.

It’s worth looking at the context of Fanny Bussell’s  remarks on this because it gives an insight to relations between the isolated Bussells (who were at Adelphi, about 10 or 12 miles up the Blackwood River from Augusta) and the local Aborigines. The section below is lifted  verbatim from Page 70 of Shann’s Cattle Chosen;

‘Fannie Bussell records such a visit to the house at Augusta in January 1834, when the boys were all absent getting in the last harvest at ‘The Adelphi‘. ‘We had a visit or rather an invasion from a number of natives. As we were quite alone we felt frightened, and they seemed well aware of our unprotected situation, demanding bread in a tone of great authority, and even pointing a spear, evidently with the intention of alarming us. One little boy shook his fist at Bessie on her repeating the word “Benoah! Benoah!“ generally the signal of dismissal. Mrs. Molloy‘s servant, Dawson, at length succeeded in getting them off the Grant, and very glad we were to see the last of our troublesome guests. About half an hour after their departure we were shocked by the discovery that they had carried off three of our beautiful salt-cellars, from the sideboard. Glass is to them very valuable, as they use it for pointing their spears. “Dillilah“ they call it. You may imagine the dismay with which we looked at each other. Poor Mrs. Gillion‘s handsome present, the pride of our household! I flew round to Mrs. Molloy, who immediately despatched her servant Dawson. We awaited his return in great anxiety, though without a hope of recovering them. We sate down to dinner with Mr. Green as our guest, having substituted the little blue cups you sent in the table chest for our lost favourites. The cloth was scarcely removed, when Dawson returned, producing them all safe from his pocket. He had overtaken them near the barracks, had caused all the soldiers to be turned out, and then threatened to fire upon them if they were not returned. William, a King George‘s Sound native who is staying with us, acted as interpreter, and they were at length traced to be in the possession of one of the women. They were found in the bag in which they carry their children, and at her detection she clung to her husband in terror. The soldiers pretended they would shoot, but after thoroughly frightening her she was released. A great many of the men came up to assure us they were not in fault, and in the true spirit of the sex, all the blame was attached to the gentler species. So much for our adventure with our sable friends.’

 

William is clearly bi-lingual (if you consider language differences between the Menang and Wardandi, then tri-lingual). There’s no indication of his age or direct ancestry, but that he is still with the Bussell’s over three years later (after they have moved from the Blackwood River to the estuary of the Vasse) very much suggests he is not so much a King George’s Sound native as he is an associate of the settlers. By that, I mean treated as a native but not really one of them. William’s case is intriguing. It would be very interesting to know more of his origins.

We’ll return to him a little later. For now we need to go back to the Harris/Hillman expedition which successfully met the Williams River via the Kalgan and Gordon Rivers, Kojonup and Arthur  River on March 4th, 1837.  The party then proceeded to the Swan River  (there was a track already cut from Kelmscott to Williams but they went via York) where they arrived on March 11th to announce their success. The expeditioners had made the journey from Albany to Perth in twelve days, exclusive of two multi-night lay-overs. The journey was an unmitigated success.

Patrick Taylor on Harrison Expdn 1837Opposite:  Excerpt from Harrison’s report in The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, Saturday 17th July 1837

Between 1835 and 1837, Alfred Hillman made a number of journeys between Perth and Albany. In this expedition he was able to mark a route linking the main centres – Albany,Williams, York, Guildford and Perth.  When they got to Perth on March 11, Hillman persuaded Governor Stirling to return with him the following month. Anxious to verify the glowing reports, Stirling agreed.

 

Kartrull had Kartrull PG 3played an important role during the time the northward bound expedition was in the Kojonup area and Kojonup, from the government’s perspective,  though a little far away, looked to be a significant discovery. The below extract from Harris’ report tells how good that grazing country appeared but that there was (as usual) the problem of locally dwelling natives.

Opposite: Report of the Harrison Expedition, The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, Saturday 17th July 1837.

Kartrull and the other Albany Aborigines made their way back to the Sound by their own means while Stirling, Hillman and others explored further around the Hotham and Williams Rivers in April. Stirling, favourably impressed with the region, spoke at great length of the country’s potential on his return. Harris, Hillman and Stirling can, I think,  all be seen here using the expedition as a P.R. exercise, determined to generate promotion for the struggling colony. The Perth Gazette adds it’s own dose of angst, as the cutting alongside shows.

 

Moving on.

Disgruntled with Albany SettlersSo, Patrick is in Perth and or Fremantle from March 11th.  What does he do then? A look at subsequent known events helps pose questions. The Champion arrived at Fremantle from King George’s Sound, via the Vasse, on April 8th, little less than a month later. Onboard were Mr (Vernon) and two Miss (Fanny and Mary) Bussells (Perth Gazzette, Shipping Intelligence, 22/4/37). Patrick was not reported as an arriving passenger.

Opposite:  Excerpt from The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, Saturday 6th of May, 1837

Had he prearranged to meet Mary in Perth in April, thinking the expedition would take longer than it did? Did he set off for the Vasse River himself with his own King George’s Sound native as guide/support with a view to asking Mary to marry him, as soon as the Harris/Hillman expedition decamped at the Swan? Or did he turn around and go back to Albany?

I’d like to take the middle option, that Patrick journeyed overland to the Vasse and was there within ten days. That he proposed and that the Bussell sisters, dizzy with excitement, made their way to Perth via the Champion- Vernon accompanying them – at the very next opportunity so that they could make arrangements for the wedding which was decided for September. Patrick, in the mean time staying behind to spell at his leisure between ‘Cattle Chosen’ and Augusta and ‘Cattle Chosen’ and Leschenault.

SW regional mapIt was at this time, when John Bussell  had gone back to England, when Vernon was in Perth with Mary and Fanny and when Charles and Lennox Bussell were at Leschenault (‘on the Collie River feasting on turkey, swans and ducks’) with Lieutenant Bunbury  -and maybe Patrick Taylor too- when Gaywal decided to ratchet up the pressure on those left at the homestead (Alfred, Bessie and their mother) by harassing them. This was the time when Bessie was beside herself with anxiety and when William (the King George’s Sound native) fired on Gaywal after Gaywal threw a spear at him. ‘Cattle Chosen’, undermanned and isolated, was fraught with fear. Charles and Lennox eventually arrived back, with Bunbury, and the tension, apparently, subsided.

The diaries go quiet on the subject of conflict until June when, on the 27th, violence erupts and Bessie writes, 

‘. . .  but 9 were killed and two wounded. No one in the house looks or speaks like themselves..’

 

Sometime during that quiet period Patrick Taylor and his King George’s Sound hired hand (if they were at the Vasse) must have returned to Perth/Fremantle where, after joining up with the Bussell contingent, they boarded the colonial schooner Champion bound for the Vasse once more.

But no, that just doesn’t  add up.

Patrick must have returned to Albany earlier, either slipped back down by boat or went overland, probably with Kartrull and the other Menang, then caught the Champion to arrive with his hired hand as planned by some other means of communication, to coincide with the presence of his bride to be, in Perth.

That arrival, after much searching, finally showed up in a clipping from the Shipping Intelligence section of the Perth Gazette and West Australian Journal late in May of that year.

Patrick Taylor on Champion from KGS 22.5.1837

Opposite: Shipping Intelligence, Perth Gazette,  Saturday 27th May 1837.

So Patrick has travelled overland from Albany to Perth in February/March, from Perth to Albany in March/April and returned again to Perth in May knowing Mary would be there. Good going, but we still don’t know when, according to Shann,  he actually presented himself at ‘Cattle Chosen’ in order to propose.

I wonder, how much did he know of what was brewing down at the Vasse during this time? The Gazette was full of the troubles at York where colonial action against violent Aborigines was held at a discomforting minimum, so much so the Gazette itself advocated ‘decisive action.’ (22nd July 1837), but there was no mention of any disturbance down at Geographe Bay.

Mary and Fanny had left ‘Cattle Chosen’ before the trouble began in April and were in Perth until they met Patrick around the 22nd of May.  A month later, all were booked aboard the Champion, which was to sail them to the Vasse.  Patrick had a native from King George’s Sound engaged as his servant, ‘to whom he. . . (the native) was. . . much attached’. On the same sailing are reported Lieut. Bunbury, a Vasse River native (Wardandi) and a Murray River native (Bindjareb), but it isn’t clear if these two were under the charge of the Bussells or the Lieutenant (who was well known to the Bussells).

The Gazette tells of what happened next.

KGS native Garden IslandAbove: Report from the Perth Gazette and West Australian Journal, Monday, 17th July, 1837

KGS native murder confessed 1837Above: Report from the  Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal Saturday, 22nd July, 1837

 

So, the Champion sails for the Vasse with the Bussell/Taylor party aboard,  possibly ignorant or possibly highly anticipating adverse events at ‘Cattle Chosen’, we don’t know. The ship weighs anchor and sails directly into an immense dark cloud that batters them over six days, stripping the vessell of its sails and forcing it back into the shelter of Garden Island where three sea-sick natives go ashore to regain their legs and where-upon the King George’s Sound native disappears, later to be declared murdered. Patrick spends two days searching for him, but to no avail.  In the meantime, all hell breaks loose down at ‘Cattle Chosen’ and there are natives lying dead here there and everywhere across the Vasse River estuary.

Some prelude to a wedding.

The Champion was so battered it could not make the planned sailing south, so limped back to Fremantle. The two suspected Aborigines made themselves scarce and drew further suspicion, leaving Patrick and the Bussells to make up their minds what to do next. The Government contracted the privately owned Lady Stirling to make the Champion’s missed voyage but there is no record of either Patrick or the Bussells going aboard. It sailed on July 21st.

charles bussell reports killing three blacks 1837Above: Perth Gazette and West Australian Journal Saturday, 29th July, 1837

Charles Bussell was reported as arriving in Perth on Wednesday July 26, having travelled overland ‘at this unfavourable season‘ because they needed supplies expected on the failed Champion sailing of  June 22nd. Charles reported three natives necessarily shot after driving off cattle, contrasting with Bessie’s diary report of nine.

Charles is therefore not at ‘Cattle Chosen’ during the July 30th skirmish.

Vernon Bussell is next cited in the house diary on August 2nd burying the native dead after July 30th (‘3 women, 1 man and 1 boy dead, but more supposed to be dying’), so he at least found alternate means of returning to the family homestead.

Mary and Fanny may have gone with him but will have left again within a few weeks because Frances Bussell, their mother, sent her letter of approbation to Patrick by Aboriginal courier on August 20th.

I thought Mary and Fanny must have gone home in July because Mary was to go straight to Candyup with Patrick after the wedding. Fanny was booked to go too. Mary will have wanted to say goodbye to her mother and to make preparations for all her belongings to be transferred to Albany. But maybe it was considered too dangerous?  Perhaps they got word not to come and that Charles was on his way up for the supplies? Maybe it was because Mary wasn’t able to speak to her mother directly that both and she and Patrick wouldn’t marry without the letter of permission?

The wedding eventually took place at Fremantle on 19th September (PG 23.9.37) , after almost a month spent waiting at Perth for the letter to arrive. On Wednesday, September 27th, the fully repaired Champion set sail for King George’s Sound with Mr and Mrs Taylor and Miss (Fanny) Bussell aboard.  (Interesting to note the September 23rd newspaper announcement of the wedding quotes Mary Yates Bussell being of ‘Cattle Chosen’, Busselton.  I didn’t think use of the name Busselton was adopted until the 1840’s..)

The Champion arrived at Princess Royal Harbour after five days. John McKail and James Dunn were building the new deepwater jetty at the time. On sight of the ship they set off the canon, by some accounts to announce the arrival of the newlyweds (by others to simply announce the arrival of the ship), and in so doing Dunn blew apart his hand.

Mr and Mrs Taylor, with Fanny Bussell in tow, took up residence at Glen Candy on the Lower Kalgan River (a long and safe distance from the Vasse). Fanny, after a period, returned to ‘Cattle Chosen’ where she soon encountered (and dismissed) the lovelorn Henry Camfield and from where she later returned to England for an extended spell.

To all intents and purposes the episode was over, except for one unattended matter.

As a postscript to 1837, the tumultuous year of Patrick Taylor’s wedding, it was reported seven months afterwards, on May 5th, 1838, that. .  .

KGS natives in Perth 5 May 1838Above: Perth Gazette and West Australian Journal, Saturday, 29th July, 1837

Whoever Patrick’s ‘engaged native servant was, his death on Garden Island was not taken lightly by his friends and family. The Albany Aborigines, the Menang, then took a step no other indigenous group had yet decided on by becoming the first to employ a group strategy of gain by utilising the settler economy for the purposes of carrying out traditional customs over previously unmanageable distances. Colonial travel, inevitably, had influenced independent indigenous group travel.

Colonial Headquarters, from the sound of the Gazette, was quite taken aback; quite surprised by the action.

I wonder was Kartrull leader of this group? It’s hard to think he wasn’t involved.

The following Saturday, the Gazette continued its narrative, on the one hand anxious about what it might cost the economy if the colony’s outlying native groups began to visit and engage with the Capital, while on the other, stridently endorsing the stated Menang vengence.

KGS Natives at Perth 12 May 1838Above:  The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, Saturday, 12th May, 1838

 

I’m flummoxed by the Gazette’s opinion. It’s quite clear the newspaper thinks it admirable the Menang enact their wider system of tribal justice on the killers of one of their family, but yet the paper had previously advocated ‘decisive action’ (read that in the context of Stirling’s ‘decisive action’ at Pinjarrah) against the Aborigines of York for payback killings of Chidlow, William Knott and other settlers, which had occurred the year before.

The inference is that the rule of  tribal law was acceptable so long as it applied within the indigenous community. English law prevailed absolute, meaning tribal law could not apply to the settlers and that if it did then the Indigenous were in contravention of the new and absolute English law. There’s nothing new in that, I know, its just a reminder of the prevailing attitudes of the day. The paper’s view of the Menang quest is a good example of its application in play, however.

In the end, the editors at the Gazette appear content in the belief the Albany Aborigines would make their way home and that the story had run its course.

KGS natives in Perth 26 May 1838Above: The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, Saturday, 26th May, 1838

 

POSTSCRIPT: 04/10/2014
An Aboriginal man known as William is mentioned in Lois Tilbrook’s invaluable, Nyungaar Tradition: Glimpses of Aborigines of South Western Australia  (the link takes you to the on-line pdf version which is available for free). In Chapter 3, where she discusses Aborigines And Work, she outlines the passage by which mail was overlanded from the Vasse  River to  Perth. Delivery looks to have been affected by a group of men who linked The Vasse with Leschenault, Leschenault with Pinjarra and Pinjarra with Perth. Amongst the Vasse men named was William. This work, carried on throughout the period of armed conflict, would seem to be have been very dangerous. There is a clear thread of loyalty shown towards the newcomers by economically minded Aborigines throughout the period of early settlement.

 

ciaran@theviewfrommountclarence.com

Writer and researcher interested in early settlement along Western Australia’s South Coast with emphasis on racial integration and inclusive histories.

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