In Search of Ngurabirding-Part 4(b)

This post is continued from Part 4 (a) previous:
John McKail and George Cheyne: Town, Sea or Land?

 

albany-to-cape-riche-von-summer-1848Above: John McKail arrived at Albany immediately prior to the 19th Century’s great off-shore whaling boom (1836-1842), a phenomena which should have resulted in much greater migration of moneyed settlers to the area despite world-wide economic recession. But King George’s Sound was already a hard-sell being neither farming country nor flush with Colonial resources and it’s chances were halved again as it was left to languish in the shadow of Sir James Stirling’s beloved but deeply troubled Swan River settlement, Perth. Image:  King Georges Sound to Cape Riche  Survey by F. Von-Summer, 1848.

 

At Albany, George Cheyne escaped the self-serving clutches of Richard Spencer’s local governance by removing himself eastwards up the coast in order to take advantage of the shipping traffic, but the ex-garrison’s tiny population still improved by way of labouring class and small-time investment level immigrants. After Cheyne, Spencer, Sherratt and Symers, only one other man was persuaded to take a big-time investment plunge at Albany. Captain John Hassell did so from 1839 with the most Machiavellian of land-based assaults, thereby commencing the highly competitive South Coast pastoralist era, subject of the In Search of Ngurabirding sub-series. In the meantime, McKail’s sea-based heritage, modest means and exploitative trader mentality, along with his sizable persona and penchant for social discourse (pub-going), kept him focused on the settlement’s immediate facilities and short to medium-term prospects, the result of which came to serve him well.

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In Search of Ngurabirding-Part 4 (a)

John McKail and George Cheyne: From the Swan River to The Ship Inn, Cape Riche and Eticup

 

Flinders chart -cut

 

In the continuing search for Ngurabirding we complete the background to John Maher’s 1854 arrival at Albany with a look at the activities, enterprises and connections of the disputatious pair John McKail and George Cheyne. These two figures headed-up influential family groups which ran maritime related businesses in the town while seeking to exploit land-based potential outside it and through their stories we gain a deeper understanding of how things were at Albany during this time.

I’ve covered much of George Cheyne’s background already so will only include what’s relevant here. Go to George Cheyne and the South Coast Fishery for information on the Cheyne family presence at Albany, including both George’s direct relatives as well as his wife Grizzel (Grace) Melville’s. For more on how the cash-starved Cheyne managed to claim Cape Riche from under the nose of the surveyor Henry Ommaney read George Cheyne and the Quest for Cape Riche.

In this post we also explore the working class elements of Albany society in the years leading up to the establishment of the Convict Hiring Depot in 1851. This element comprised sealers, whalers and town labourers, including a handful of well-known Menang men who interacted with the moneyed settlers by way of employment and by frequenting some of their more notorious drinking establishments. Continue reading

In Search of Ngurabirding – Part 1

 

Resolving the identity of a man known as John Jack Maher helps tell the story of early European/Aboriginal integration inland from Albany. By following the threads we learn how Albany’s pioneer pastoralists merged with those from York in and around what later became the railway town of Katanning; most notably at a place called Eticup. Many shepherds and labourers employed by the pastoralists fathered children to Aboriginal women, angering their men, causing incidences of cross-cultural recrimination and violence. But what of those European men who engaged in this; mostly the convicts and Ticket-of-Leave men of the 1850’s and 1860’s? The story of their lives reveals backgrounds of deprivation and misery. What hope did they bring to their new opportunity and what chance of a fulfilling life did they and the result of their Indigenous unions really have?

 

Jack Maher, Bordenan and NgalanganAbove: The controversial photograph of John Jack Maher. The man here is either Johnny Maher the cricketer with his Aboriginal-descent wife Emily Maggs and daughter Maria Louisa, or he is Ngurabirding,  also known as John Jack Maher, husband to Waiman and father to Rachel as shown in the Bates genealogies. If the former, the photograph will have been taken around 1910 (as Maria Louisa was born 1901) putting Maher in his mid-40s. If the latter, the photo was probably taken in the 1890s when Maher was about thirty. Continue reading

Extended Interlude

Originally Published 26 July 2014:

Woodburn Farm 1913 - PorongurupsAbove:  Woodburn Homestead and Farm in 1913. The original dwelling is front and centre of the picture. By 1913 Woodburn had been sold to the Moir family. Photograph donated to the Albany History Collection by Gordon Norman.

Following on from last week’s post I wanted to look into the circumstances of John Dunn’s killing, more particularly when it was reported and what happened once it was. I won’t go into great detail about the background because it will be dealt with in later posts, but because of the jump in time I’m making here (from 1850 to 1880) some summary is needed.

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Interlude

Originally Published 16 July 2014:

Down on His Luck - Frederick McCubbin

Down On His Luck by Frederick McCubbin; National Gallery of Victoria

 

I fell for Campbell Taylor’s history for a whole lot of reasons, not least because he was among a select group of sons to first Albany settlers.  These sons will come to occupy slabs of space in future history books relating to settlement along the South Coast, but only when their endeavors are properly researched. Taylor was a contemporary of the Belches, Symers, Gillam, Dunn, Moir, Wellstead and Dempster families, between them pioneer settlers from Albany to Cape Arid. The Dunn family being of primary interest for now.

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The Supporting Cast

Originally Published 27 June 2014:

Other people who are relevant to these pages during the 1840’s and onwards include the ex naval Lieutenant Peter Belches and the former East India Company men John Laurence Morley and Thomas Lyell Symers. We’re also interested in what Captain John Hassell and his wife Ellen got up to, what developments George Cheyne was able to forge and the arrival of John McKailHugh & John McKenzie and Thomas Meadows Gillam. Also, the ever shifting fortunes of the ship’s carpenter James Dunn.

Albany pencil and washAbove:  This pencil and wash sketch of Albany dated February 1854 shows the village status of the town at that time. The jetty in the foreground, commenced by McKail and Dunn in the Spring of 1837, was 75 yards long and located where the Marina and Boatshed Markets are today. McKail had blocks at the foot of the jetty and along Stirling Terrace just east of the London Hotel where (probably) he and James Dunn lived during that time. The sketch is unattributed.

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