Saturday, June 11, 2011


While wading through stacks of newspaper articles about the Jimmy Governor story, I've come across points that have not been examined by other authors writing about this subject.
One that struck me was a statement Ethel Governor made in her evidence at the inquest into the deaths of Ellen Kerz and the three Mawbey children held at Gilgandra.
Ethel said:
Jimmy never accused me of being familiar with any of the Mawbey boys.
At the time I read this, about six months ago, I thought: Why would she say that?
She was obviously sexually precocious, judging from her under age pregnancy with Jimmy, and her competitive behaviour towards other girls who were interested in him.
Then yesterday I found a book I had d heard of but had not yet read: The Life of Jimmy Governor - The true story behind The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith by Brian Davies.
This author provides some information I have not come across before, that in view of Ethel's comment at the inquest, appears very relevant.
Davies reports that on the day of the murders at Breelong, Ethel had gone to the Mawbey home to ask for rations.
She arrived at the back door around midday, just at the Mawbeys were sitting down to lunch. Politely or provocatively one of the Mawbey boys suggested, to Ethel's astonishment, that she should join them. Sarah Mawbey rounded on the boy fiercely, outraged. [Source: The Life of Jimmy Governor by Brian Davies, Ure Smith (div. Paul Hamlyn), Dee Why West (Sydney), 1979, p55.]
Mrs Mawbey and the schoolteacher, Ellen Kerz, then turned on Ethel and she left the house empty-handed, without the flour and sugar so desperately needed back at the Governor camp.
An armed Jimmy equipped for murder and on the warpath went back to demand these rations again later that night.

So who was the boy who invited Ethel to lunch in the presence of his mother?
The Mawbey's eldest son, John, 20, was in Sydney and he was smitten with the schoolteacher who had been at Breelong before Miss Kerz, Mary Edwards.
The second eldest boy, Reginald, 18, was the same age as Ethel.
Percy, 14, was the next in line and he was the only boy in the family who was brutally murdered.
The boy who made the lunch invitation to Ethel may have simply felt sorry for her because she had no food.
Ethel may have mistakenly read sexual connotations into the invitation.
She claimed that her husband Jimmy had never accused her of flirting with any of the Mawbey boys, but this does not mean that she was not doing so.
Unfortunately Mr Davies does not provide the source of his information about what happened at the Mawbey house at lunchtime on the day of the murders.
But this aspect of the story is supported by another author.
Knowledge of this incident makes what happened later in the day more understandable.
It confirms that the Breelong murders did not just happen out of the blue - that Jimmy simply lost his head in a fit of rage on that fateful night - but were part of a sequence of related events.