Monday, December 31, 2012

The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Tasmania, Monday 23 July 1900
Sydney, Sunday. — A painful sensation was created yesterday by the receipt of intelligence of a series of diabolical murders by aboriginals in the Coonamble district.
The exact location of the scene of the outrages is Breelong, a post town 10 miles from Gilgandra, which is in the North-Western Division of New SouthWales, and nearly 800 miles from Sydney.
Mr Mawbey, a pioneer of the district and a well-to-do man, owns a large area of land on the banks of tbe Castlereagh River, and lately built a new home there.
On Friday, however, he was staying at his old house, which is the Breelong post office. ...
The Inquirer & Commercial News, Perth, Friday 27 July 1900
... The aboriginals who are supposed to have committed the murders are Jimmy and Joe Governor, of Dunson [Denison]Town, Jack Porter, Jack Underwood, and a boy of 14 years of age known as 'Crooked.'
... Mrs. Mawbey regained consciousness on Saturday evening, and was able to make a short statement.
She said that Jimmy Governor hit her with a tomahawk.
She saw Jacky.
He had a tomahawk.
She saw only two, but she could hear more outside.
She could hear all of them
... The Mawbsys were among the pioneers of the Gilgandra district, owning a large area of land on the Castlereagh River.
The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday 23 July 1900
... In an interview with Mr. Mawbey he said -" The first I heard of the outrage was from my son Bertie, who ran down to me at the old house and told me that 'Jimmy Joe' Governor was killing everyone up at home.
I immediately woke up Reggie, my son we took our rifles and ran up to the house.
On crossing the creek I stumbled over one body, and I discovered that it was Hilda, one of my daughters.
On gaining the bank again,about 100 yards further, I struck the body of Miss Kerz, our school teacher.
On reaching the house I only just glanced in and saw what was the matter.
I left my two sons, Reggie and Bertie, armed with a rifle each in the kitchen, and made off to the camp.
When I got to the house there was no one in it.
I rushed back, and sent for Dr. Burton and the police.
You know all the rest."

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Warwick Examiner and Times, Queensland, Wednesday 1 August 1900
The Aboriginal Murders.
... The Premier of N.S.W. says if it costs £2000 to capture the blacks the Government is prepared to pay it.
... The aboriginal Jacky Underwood, who was recently arrested for the Breelong murders has now been fully identified.
At the Mudgee Police Court on Friday, the prisoner was brought up.
It was stated in evidence that while the prisoner was being escorted from Qulong [Gulgong] to Mudgee he made a statement to the effect that he was in camp at Breelong with Jimmy and Joe Governor.
Jimmy Governor wanted money from Mawbey, but the latter would not give any more until the contract upon which Governor was engaged was finished, and Jimmy said he would kill Mawbey.
... Jacky Porter and the black boy, Jimmy, and Joe Governor, left the camp together last Friday night, Jimmy carrying a rifle and three nulla nullas, and Joe a nulla nulla and tomahawk. After the Governors returned to camp all left together, and when they had proceeded half a mile in the scrub, the two Governors wanted to kill Mrs. Governor and the child, but Jacky Porter and Underwood would not allow them to take more lives.
... The two Governors said they were going to Wollar to kill all the blackfellows there, and then make for the wild nulla mountains and kill all the people there.
... Various reasons are given for the committal of the murder at Breelong.
It is said that Jimmy Governor's wife was slighted for the life she led at the black camp at Breelong and this caused a bad feeling to arise with the blacks.
... Mr. Richards, M.P. for Mudgee, points out that the persons killed by tbe blacks, or threatened by them, are chiefly those for whom they have worked before or had some grudge against.
...Mr. Mawbay, the father of the girls killed at Breelong, says:—I have never seen Jimmy Governor drunk, nor have I known him to be drunk.
I have never known a drop of grog to come into the camp. I am quite positive that he was sober that night of the murder.
He never showed violent temper, nor was he of a quarrelsome disposition.
The boys Percy and Reggie had heard Jimmy Governor say he would like to be a bushranger as no police would ever catch him.
He was making about 6s a day when he was working with me.
He spent a lot of time catching rats and 'possums to eat.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Examiner, Launceston, Tasmania, Thursday 26 July 1900
Mr. A. W. Miller, of Ashfield, who owns a deal of property in the Gilandra district, on Saturday furnished a Sydney "Daily Telegraph" reporter with some additional particulars regarding the locality of the murder and the victims.
"I have known Mr. John Mawbey for about 25 years," said Mr. Miller.
"He has a large run at Breelong, and has always been regarded as a quiet, industrious, and thrifty man.
The family was large, and the home circle a happy one.
One son came to Sydney to offer himself for service in the.
Transvaal with the bushmen's contingent, but I cannot say whether he joined that body.
As far as I can judge, Mr. Mawbey must have been absent on another part of the run when the terrible crime was committed.
"I know the district thoroughly, and was surprised to hear of the outrage, as the local tribe of blacks had died out long since.
It has always been the custom for aborigines, when on the move from other districts, say hundreds of miles away, to ascertain—how, I can not explain—the whereabouts of old camps, and this may account in some measure for the appearance of these ruffians at Breelong.
"The country about Breelong is of a very scrubby nature, and the fact that the criminals will be on foot will render the task of making a capture a difficult one, for a time at least.
There will be no occasion for the natives to leave the scrub for food, as opossum and game abound in the bush.
Horsemen will be hampered in their movements by the numbers of fences that will be encountered, as the land is for the greater part enclosed.
If, however, there is another aboriginals' camp in any of the adjacent districts, this will assist to bring the culprits to justice, for the fugitives will make for their countrymen, who rarely keep a secret...
"Mr. Mawbey will be remembered about Mudgee and Coonamble, where he followed the occupation of a dealer in a large way, before he took to farming.
In the last-named pursuit he has been very successful."


Tuesday, December 18, 2012


It has taken me just over a year to be able to write a review of the theatre performance and installation, Posts in the Paddock, that was staged for the first time in Sydney last November.
The production elements – sounds, sights, sets and symbols – were very sophisticated and stimulated all the senses, sometimes all at once.
But because there was so much going on production-wise, it was difficult to focus on the plot, the elements of the story.
The problem with this play as I see it is that it is not honest.
It claims to be about the family of one of the performers in the play, Clare Britton, who is an indirect descendant of the O’Brien family, two of whose members were murdered by the Governor brothers.
The heavily pregnant Elizabeth O’Brien and her 15-month-old toddler son, James, were slaughtered in their home while husband and father, Mick O’Brien, the real target of Jimmy’s revenge, was out collecting firewood.
But this story, the O’Brien story, was never the focus of the play.
Instead my ancestors, Sarah and John Mawbey, were depicted as the villains, and the posts meant to be fence posts on the O’Brien property, conveniently became those Jimmy and Joe were constructing on the Mawbey selection at Breelong.
This play twists the truth, distorts the real story, and implicates my family as exponents of an evil empire spawned by colonial invasion and missionary zeal.
The story lacked basic integrity in that it was not what it was supposed to be about.
Instead it victimised and vilified the Mawbey family, still traumatised by Jimmy Governor’s brutality towards them more than 100 years ago.
We have been used for political purposes, and I object to that.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


The Brisbane Courier, Thursday 25 August 1900
SYDNEY, August 22.
At the Gilgandra Police Court to-day, the aboriginal Jacky Underwood was brought up on the charge of 'murdering t/he members of the Mawbey family at Breelong. 
When Mr. A. F. Garling, who had taken Mrs. Mawbey's dying depositions, had finished his evidence, which disclosed no new facts, Underwood was asked if he had any questions to put to the witness. 
He at once said, "Jimmy hit the boy. The woman was lying on top of the boy when I came. 
Jimmy told me to go outside and see if'anybody went outside through the windows. 
I saw two girls go through the window and come back, but did not tell him."
Later on the accused made a statement in which he said Jimmy Governor did most of the murdering. 
He (accused) hit one girl, and he put her back in one of the rooms in the house. 
He saw one of the boys lying under the bed, but when Jimmy Governor asked him if there were any more in the room he said they had ail gone away. 
Jacky Underwood also said he saw Jimmy Governor kill Miss Mawbey near the creek, and Miss Kerz. The night before the murder Jimmy Governor had a row with his wife, and he intended to kill her. 
They went to the hut where Mr. Mawbey was staying, intending to kill him, but they were too frightened when they got there. 
The prisoner Jacky Underwood was committed for trial.


(continued from previous post 'Breelong homestead ruins')

Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal, Wednesday 25 July 1900
... Mrs. Governor, wife of Jimmy, a white woman, then gave evidence. 
She said her name was Ethel Governor, and that she was the wife of James Governor, a half blood aboriginal. 
They resided three miles from Breelong, up the creek. 
She was willing to give all the evidence she knew about the crime. 
Last Friday night she was in the camp with her husband, also Joe Governor, Jack Underwood, Jacky Porter, and a little black boy, Peter Governor, who is Jim Governor's sister's son
At the time she had quarrelled with her husband, because he thought that she and Joe Governor were 'sweet' on each other, Jimmy said he would leave her and the others could do the fencing if Mawbey liked to give it to them. Jimmy then said good-bye to Joe and Jacky Porter, and left the camp, accompanied by Jack Underwood. Jimmy said they were going to Mr. Mawbey's, and would see him. 
They wont towards Mawbey's. 

(to be continued)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


A Mawbey family reunion was held over the last October long weekend at Wongarbon near Dubbo. 
It included a trip to the Breelong homestead site and a video was made by young family member and put on YouTube.
It can be viewed at Breelong homestead ruins.
Seeing the distance little Hilda had run before being brutally clubbed to death is very moving.
I have just found the most detailed account so far of what happened at Breelong on that fateful night when doing a newspaper search under the spelling 'Mawbery'.
It contains more first-hand information than the version given at the trial of Jimmy Governor, and highlights something that was subsequently hidden from public scrutiny.
This was that the fight Jimmy and Ethel had at the camp before the Mawbey murders was over his brother, Joe Govenor.
According to Ethel's testimony at the inquest, Jimmy thought she was 'sweet' on Joe and had told her he was leaving her as a result. 
I knew from what I had read in recent published accounts of the 'true' story of Jimmy Governor that Jimmy had been devastated by something.
There were hints that Ethel was keen on Joe, but it was never confirmed.
Until now I have thought Ethel had told Jimmy she was leaving him because he could not properly support her, and would not stand up to the Mawbey women for abusing  her. 
Jimmy would have been like a wounded bull that night, and appears to have taken his rage out on the Mawbey's instead of his brother. 
After the murders he did tell his brother he would kill him if he did not accompany him on a subsequent rampage of destructive behaviour.
He then concocted a story, possibly with the help of his lawyer, to make what he did sound like provocation, a crime of passion, which it was, but not triggered solely by the Mawbeys.

Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal, Wednesday 25 July 1900
The Breelong Murders.
The following additional evidence was taken at the inquest of the Breelong murders : John Thomas Mawbery, owner of the place where the tragedy was enacted, said he saw the bodies of Miss Kerz and Grace, Hilda, and Percival Mawbey.Miss Kerz lived at the place as a boarder, and the three others were his children.
He last saw them alive at midday last Friday.
Witness was sleeping at his old house on Friday night.
About 11p.m., Jimmy Governor and another man, whether white or black he did not know, came to within eight or nine feet of the back door, and sang out : 'Anyone there ?'
Witness said : ' Hello there, who's that ? '
Jimmy Governor said: 'It's me, will you bring me up a bag of flour in the morning?'
Witness, who had just gone to bed, replied: 'I will bring it up in the morning or some time to-morrow.'
Witness had opened the door and gone out 'to them, and he said : 'You had better come in and have a warm.'Jimmy said: ‘We won't come in, we'll go home.'
They went away, and witness went to bed.
About 20 minutes or half an hour afterwards his son, Bertie, came running and said, 'Jimmy Governor has shot Perc, and is killing him on the floor’.
Mawbey then gave similar evidence to that already reported.
After crossing the creek they heard someone crying out, and running up, [Robert] Clark, his son Fred, and himself found his daughter Grace and Miss Kerz close together, on either side of the track.
He carried Grace up to the house.
Going into the house by the back door he saw Mrs. Mawbey lying across Perc's body, just outside the sitting-room back door.

Witness shifted Mrs. Mawbey and placed her on pillows. He thought she was dead.
After Fred [Clarke] had gone for the doctor and the police, witness went with Reggie and little Jack [his nephew George Mawbey?] and brought Miss Kerz in.
Then he stationed Reggie in the fireplace and lit a lamp on the table.
He opened the back door and told him if he saw any black fellows to let them come in and then shoot them.
Witness then went in search of Hilda, and in about half an hour found her in the creek, dead. He could not carry her up, and came to the house and got Reggie, but heard a noise in the bushes, and would not let Reggie go out.
He carried Hilda into the house, and then went to the bed room off the kitchen, where his wife, himself, and the little ones usually slept, and found the children fast asleep.
He then went to old Johnnie Owen, who was camped over the creek, and got him to go for Julius Amberwho was camped a little higher up. They came, and witness then covered the bodies.
Elsie Clarke was lying in her bed groaning, badly wounded, and covered with blood.
Mrs. Mawbey was terribly wounded, and unconscious. Grace was wounded in the forehead, and groaning. As soon as witness saw the wounds he was sure they were not shot.
He was not aware of any money being in the house last Friday, and had not missed anything.
All the blacks in camp wore boots except Jacky Porter.
It was very dark when they came down to the old hut, and he could not see anything in their hands.
They slept in the old house that night because they were soaking wheat, and it was very late. His family know he would not be home. He often slept there when he was busy. Reggie or Percy always slept at the house. 
Percy always brought his rifle to the new house, but forgot it on Friday, and left it at the old place, but the blacks could not have [known] that.
Jimmy Governor had an old rifle and wanted to sell it to his boys. 
He also had a tomahawk, similar to the one shown in court.
It is a peculiar make, and rather uncommon in shape. Jimmy said he bought it. 
Witness could not swear positively that the tomahawk in the possession of Constable Berry was the same he saw in Jimmy Governor's hand, but thought so. 
He never saw a tomahawk like it before.
He thought it had not the same handle.
They heard no screams as they ran up.
He knew no other aboriginals about.
Jacky Porter came about a fortnight ago.
Jimmy was the leader and head man in the camp.
Witness had not seen the camp since Joe Governor and the others came, but was there when Jimmy was about.
He had not seen any aboriginal weapons. 
Edward John then gave evidence, but it was of no consequence.
Mrs. Governor, wife of Jimmy, a white woman, then gave evidence... 
(to be continued in a later post)


I have recently made the remarkable discovery that I was in the same class at school as a descendent of the Garlings who were at the Breelong homestead on the night of the murders.
Mr A F (Arthur Frederick) Garling and his wife attended the dying Sarah Mawbey and her three dead children, Grace, Percy and Hilda.
He was at the time the district coroner.
Mr Garling also took Mrs Mawbey's dying depositions.
There is a post of a recollection of this tragic night written by their daughter, Jean Garling, already on this blog under the heading, 'An Insider's Report'.
The recollection was published in the Melbourne Argus newspaper on Saturday 21 July 1934.
Jean has a room dedicated to her memory at the Mitchell Library for the support she gave it when she lived in Sydney.

Mr. A. F. Garling, a prominent and well-known business man, was found dead at breakfast time this morning. He was 64 years of age, and was a native of Mudgee, where in his early days he was employed by James Loneragan, Ltd. Later he opened a storekeeping business on his own account at Tooraweenah, and about 20 years ago shifted to Gilgandra, where he established a very lucrative business, which grew to large proportions. Five years ago he sold out to the Western Stores, Ltd. For a number of years he was prominent in all progressive movements for the welfare of the district. The funeral will take place to-morrow.
The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday 5 May 1924
The estate of the late Mr. Arthur Frederick Garling, retired storekeeper, of Gilgandra, who died on February 22 last, has, for probate purposes, been valued at £42,797, the whole of which the testator left to his widow and children.
Mr Garling's father, A. C. Garling was born in Sydney and left the employ of the Bank of New South Wales to try his luck at the goldfields at Gulgong.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Boys from the Vernon (background)
possibly on Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour
Photo courtesy of John Jeremy
 In January 1867, an old hulk, the Vernon, was purchased by the Colonial Secretary for the purpose of being a reform school for deliquent boys, as well as orphans.
It was initially moored in Sydney Harbour near what is now the Botanic Gardens before being moved to up the harbour to Cockatoo Island.
On 20 May 1867, applications for admission to the nautical school-ship commenced.
It was intended that vagrant and destitute boys would receive moral, nautical and industrial training along with elementary schooling.
They were taught tailoring, sail-making, carpentry and nautical skills.

The Vernon was replaced by the Sobraon in November 1892.
The following year, the Vernon was completely destroyed by fire.
It had been sold for a mere trifle for breaking up, but was apparently destroyed by those harbouring a grudge against what had gone on in in when it had been a reform school.

In May 1890, a newspaper report declared that during the previous five years, 1,000 boys had been hired out from the training ship, the Vernon.
So far over 92 percent had turned out well.
At that same time, the Minister for Public Instruction had decided to erect a workshop on Cockatoo Island for the use of the Vernon boys.
In August 1890, The Vernon Inquiry was held following allegations that the reform ship was producing a large number of some of the colony's worst criminals.
These included convicted murderers, thieves, robbers and participants in unnatural crimes.
It was also claimed that Vernon boys were always known by the extreme filthiness of their language.
Some of the Vernon's critics had called for a Royal Commission.
The Minister, however, threw the complaints out and was said to have closed the inquiry 'rather hastily'.

Jimmy Governor, aged 15, was one of the inmates of the Vernon in 1890.
At the time of his admission, he had been found destitute, unable to care for himself after his father had been gaoled for a short time for stabbing another Aboriginal man.
The Vernon had been operating as a boys' reform school for eight years before Jimmy was born in 1875.

In May 1891, the Vernon boys, numbering over 200, were entertained by Sir Henry and Lady Parkes at Balmain.
The boys were given lots of encouragement, and were even presented to the Governor.

More photos of the Vernon can be seen on the Australian Government Cockatoo Island website.


In attempting to present Jimmy in the best light - for instance, his willingness to work and earn his own living rather than living on a reserve and relying on government welfare - many accounts of his life have ignored his brushes with the law before the Breelong murders.
When Jimmy was just 15, he was sent to Sydney to the only boys' reform school in the state, an industrial training ship called the Vernon moored near Cockatoo Island.
He was sent there after being convicted of 'horse sweating', 'borrowing' someone else's horse and riding it without permission until it was exhausted.
Similar to 'joy riding' in a car today.
It was not strictly 'horse stealing' and only became so if the offender attempted to sell the animal, as if it were his own.
Jimmy was apprehended not long after his father was put in Maitland gaol in September 1890 for stabbing another blackfellow at the camp where he and his son were staying after an argument.
The boy aged around 15 then became homeless and without any means of support.
Jimmy's youngest brother, Roy, was a 'career criminal', spending much of his adult life in gaol.
He was in Goulburn gaol in 1918 and Bathurst gaol in 1923.
Roy's main offences were stealing, breaking and entering and attempted burglary, but he also was out to get Mick O'Brien, whose pregnant wife and toddler son his older brothers, Joe and Jimmy had murdered.
Jimmy was in Darlinghurst gaol for around three months from the end of 1900 to early 1901 before he was hanged.
His brother Joe would have been there too if he had not been shot and killed.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


I have just published a remarkable speech about Jimmy Governor called "Chief of Sinners" by a remarkable 19th century Christian missionary to Aborigines, Miss Retta Dixon, later Mrs Retta Long.
It's the very moving story of Jimmy's conversion and reconciliation with God just weeks before he was executed, brought about through Retta's intercession with the Lord on his behalf.
For the five weeks before he was hanged, during December 1900 and January 1901, she visited him twice a day, every day except Sunday, in his condemned cell at Darlinghurst Gaol.
I have retyped the entire speech, originally prepared on an old typewriter, on six separate pages for ease of access.
Links to these pages are in the left-hand margin of this blog.
This is the first time, as far as I am aware, that this speech has been published.
Retta, a Baptist born in Sydney in 1878 of Irish baptist parents, decided to devote her life to spreading the Gospel to Aboriginal aboriginal people while in her teens.
She became involved with a Christian group evangelising on Sundays at the La Perouse Aborigines' Reserve and in 1897, at the age of 19, became the first resident missionary there.
Retta, was just three years older than Jimmy Governor and was 23 when she made her visitations to him at Darlinghurst Gaol.
She would have visited him 60 times, travelling from her parents' home in Sydney, and returning to La Perouse every Sunday.
In my view, her true Christian devotion and dedication to the Aboriginal people whom she loved deserves proper recognition today.
She is a perfect candidate for an Order of Australia, or its precursor, an Order of the British Empire.
The Australian government, however, does not award these posthumously.

For more information about Retta Dixon / Long see AUSTRALIAN DICTIONARY OF BIOGRAPHY

Saturday, September 15, 2012


A descendant of one of Ethel Governor's brothers believes that her son was given the name 'Golding' because one of her uncles worked at the Golden Gully goldmine.
This was the richest mine in the Gulgong / Hill End area.
The miner was William Page, Ethel's father's older brother, who had a farm near this mine.
One of his neighbours was Peter Lawson, the father of one of Australia's greatest poets, Henry Lawson.
A map of the area  is on the website of  Mudgee historian, the late Norman McVicker, Budgee Budgee.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


It's easy to fall into the trap of 'romanticising' Jimmy Governor.
The fact is he was a cold-blooded killer.
Like many psychopaths, he had a surface charm that disarmed many people.
Even his captors were thrown by it.
They had difficulty reconciling it with what he had done.
Murdered two mothers (one pregnant), four children (one a toddler), two old men and a young woman, raped a teenager plus terrorised and robbed many others and destroyed houses and other property.
Jimmy Governor also revelled in the celebrity his foul deeds brought him after his capture, even giving his autograph.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


The Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday 25 July 1900
MUDGEE, Tuesday.
The Coroner (Mr Wilkinson) held an inquest on the body of Mr. Alexander McKay, and a verdict of wilful murder was returned against Joe and Jimmy Governor.
The evidence showed that at 1 o'clock on Monday Mrs. McKay was in the house, when the girl came running in and said "Two blacks are coming here; one has a rifle."
She went to the door as they stepped on the verandah.
One of them said, "We are murderers; come outside and we will kill the lot of you."
Mrs McKay stepped forward.
One of them struck her with a tomahawk, but she turned round to get into the house, and only received a gash on the side of her head.
She then banged the door and bolted it.
They tried to smash to door with a tomahawk.
They smashed all the windows in with stones.
One hit the girl on the back.
One stone also hit Mrs McKay on the back of the head.
The blacks said, 'If you don't open the door we will kill the lot of you: if you do we won't."
Mrs. McKay said to the girl, "We might as well be killed outside as inside," and opened the door and walked outside with the child in her arms.
The blacks ordered them to stand on the verandah, searched the place all over, took a lot of eatables, and went away.
The girl went to the door and said "O God, listen to uncle groaning."
They went over to the fence and found Mr McKay lying on his back with his head split open with a tomahawk.
They carried him inside and laid him on the bed.
The girl looked out of the door and saw the blacks coming back.
The blacks told the women to come outside, and demanded what money Mrs McKay had.
Mrs McKay gave them a pound.
They asked her if she had any more.
When she told them she had not, they said, "You are a liar, we found 8 pounds in the old man's pocket."
They then told Mrs McKay to give them her husband's saddle, saying he would not want it any more.
They took the horse and left, going in the direction of Ulan.
Mr McKay's skull was smashed in and his brains protruded.
He died two hours afterwards.
GULGONG, Tuesday.
Information has just been received from Ulan stating that the Gilgandra murderers met an Indian hawker yesterday afternoon after the McKay murder and wanted ammunition and boots.
The hawkers had none.
The men were armed with a rifle and a tomahawk, and said they were going to murder Harry Neville at Wollar.
They boasted that they had killed the Mawbeys at Breelong.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


The Talbragar River where Jimmy Governor was born is on the northern outskirts of Dubbo, around 70km (one hour's drive on the Newell Highway) south of Gilgandra near where the Breelong murders took place.
It is Wiradjuri country.
British explorer, John Oxley, arrived in the Dubbo district in 1818 and a village was gazetted there on 23 November 1849.
During the reign of Queen Victoria (1838-1901) land was granted for an Aboriginal reserve at the junction of the Talbragar and Macquarie Rivers.
This appears to have occurred in 1898.
Jimmy Governor was born in 1875.

The location of Talbragar River in relation to Gilgandra and Dubbo: TALBRAGAR-GILGANDRA MAP

Sunday, August 12, 2012


The Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday 7 January 1937
Outrages Recalled by Woman's Death.
The murders committed by the Breelong blacks, Jimmy and Joe Governor, 33 years ago, are recalled by the death of Mrs. Percy J. Lee, of Irvine-street, Kingsford, whose funeral took place to the Waverley Cemetery yesterday.
On the night of July 19 [20], 1900, the Governors, accompanied by two other aborigines and a black boy, entered the Breelong homestead armed with tomahawks and waddies.
They killed Miss Kerz, Hilda and Percy Mawbey, and so seriously wounded Mrs. Mawbey and Grace Mawbey that they died.
Mrs. Lee, who was then Miss Elsie Clarke, was a niece of Mr. John Thomas Mawbey.
She was struck on the head with a nulla nulla by Jimmy Governor [or one of the other murderers with him], and was thrown under a bed [hidden under a bed before coming out and being struck].
She eventually recovered, but was deaf.
Between July and November, 1900, the Governors were responsible for the murder or wounding of nearly a score of people.
They also committed innumerable robberies.
The Supreme Court of New South Wales issued a writ declaring them outlaws, and calling upon citizens to shoot them on sight.
On October 29, Jimmy Governor was shot and captured.
He was hanged on June [January]18, 1901.
His brother Joe was shot dead by a grazier, about 20 miles north of Singleton, on October 31, 1900.
[Source: NLA17308067]

Saturday, August 11, 2012


The role John Mawbey played in what happened at Breelong is becoming clearer to me.
At the time of the murders, he presented as a 'good guy', an innocent victim of Jimmy Governor.
It was the women involved, the ones who had denigrated Jimmy and his wife Ethel, who copped all the blame.
Mrs Mawbey, her eldest daughter, Grace and the schoolteacher, Ellen Kerz.
It had nothing to do with him.
But it was John Mawbey who placed Jimmy in a 'no win' situation in the first place by giving him a job beyond his ability to do on his own.
In doing so, he shamed him, made him feel inferior, just as much as his wife Sarah Mawbey did Ethel.
This is one 'take' on the story.
But on the other side of the coin, Jimmy would have known he could not make any real money out of the fencing job unless it was done quickly.
For this to happen, he needed help.
He claimed that his brother Joe and Jacky Underwood just turned up at Breelong, and it was only then that he asked them for assistance.
But they knew where he was, indicating he had told them where he was going to be after accepting the job.
So it may already have been planned beforehand, with Jimmy being more cunning than he later let on.
The plan failed because trying to do the job too quickly resulted in shoddy workmanship.
Jimmy prided himself on being cunning.
The Singleton Argus, 8 November 1900, reports that after he was captured, he 'gloried in ... his powers of cunning in outwitting the police and and the others who were engaged in the pursuit'.
He may have thought he was one jump ahead of John Mawbey, even offering the housework services of his wife Ethel to cinch the deal, but this time his scheming failed.
I think Jimmy intended to kill John Mawbey when he went to the inn before going to the house.
Unlike some of his future victims, Mawbey did not come outside in response to Jimmy's call.
He did not take the bait.
He may have been aware that Jimmy was on the warpath and was trying to placate him by asking him inside to warm himself by the fire.
Jimmy lulled him into a false sense of security by asking to have rations delivered to his camp the next day.
He then went to the house and murdered Mawbey's wife, two daughters and a son.
John Mawbey would have felt like a fool for allowing himself to be tricked by Jimmy in this way.
And like an abject failure as a husband and father for not protecting his wife and children when he knew trouble was brewing.
He may have been fooled by Jimmy's surface charm, which fooled other people.

Friday, August 3, 2012


I have just discovered that these names can mean 'friend of gold' or 'son of gold'.
When Ethel gave the name 'Golding' to her son Sidney, she was living in the gold-mining town of Gulgong.
Thomas Goulding / Golden Brown, the father of her second husband, was baptised in the gold-mining town of Aruleun.
Maybe the name was simply a good luck charm, an indicator of good fortune, given in the hope that the bearers would find gold and become wealthy.
It may have also carried the meaning that the child was as precious as gold.
This could explain why 'Goulding' and 'Golden' were the English names adopted by an Aboriginal 'royal' family.
So the fact that two of Ethel's sons, one born when she was married to Jimmy Governor and the other to Frank Brown, and Brown's father bore these names seems to be just a coincidence.


I’ve been reading a bit about fencing lately, and have realised that John Mawbey ought not to have employed Jimmy Governor and his young wife to do his fencing job in the first place.
Fencing is a job for two able-bodied men.
It involves heavy lifting and teamwork.
So it was not suitable for just one able-bodied adult male and his teenage female wife.
Ethel would have been exhausted as a result of helping Jimmy with the fencing, plus doing housekeeping for Mrs Mawbey three days a week, plus caring for her toddler son.
The child may have spent a lot of time unattended and alone which would not have been good for his future psychological wellbeing.
In giving the Governors the job, John Mawbey appears to have been looking for ‘value for money’, what the pair could provide, and ‘driving a hard bargain’, instead of taking their ability to get the job done into consideration.
Doing the job on his own without another male helper meant that money would be coming in very slowly for Jimmy, and that he would  have to be at Breelong for a long time in order to complete the job.
So it is not surprising that Jimmy was struggling and pleased when his younger brother Joe and their mate Jacky Underwood turned up and agreed to help him.
But under the terms of Jimmy’s contract with Mr Mawbey, Joe and Jacky were not allowed to help him.
In giving them the work, and paying them with part of his own rations and possibly his wages, Jimmy was effectively sub-contracting them, thereby breaking his contract with Mr Mawbey.
The failure of Mr Mawbey to step in here and nip the situation in the bud suggests he was willing to overlook this in favour of getting more cheap labour.
But he eventually paid the price for this.
As the owner of the property, he had the right to tell Joe and Jacky to leave on the grounds they were trespassing.
He had not authorised them to work for him, so they had no right to be there.
When many of the fence posts were found to be not up to scratch, probably because of poor workmanship by Joe and Jacky, Jimmy’s workmates would have been shamed and offended when their work was rejected.
Mr Mawbey ought to have been supervising the fencing work more closely, particularly once he knew that Joe and Jacky were involved, so he could have picked up on any shoddy workmanship much sooner than he did.
Jimmy may have felt he needed to take a job that was too much for him because he now had to provide for a wife and child.
He ended up fencing himself into a corner, and made his wife Ethel feel fenced in too, so much so that she wanted to leave him.
In a way, Jimmy was 'set up' by John Mawbey to fail.
Being placed in a 'no win' situation can make anybody feel very angry.
And to have this done in front of family and friends would have been even worse.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Both of Ethel Page's husbands, Jimmy Governor and Frank Brown, had Irish grandfathers.


The father of Thomas Goulding Golden Brown was Patrick Brown, an Irish convict, who arrived in Sydney on the Marquis of Huntley on 30 January 1828.
He was aged 20, single, could read and write and was from Tipperary.
On 20 March 1827 he had been convicted of abduction at Limerick and sentenced to transportation for life.
After arriving in Sydney, he was fortunate to be assigned to George Wyndham, a wealthy young pioneer vigneron in the Hunter Valley, north of Sydney.
George and his wife Margaret also arrived in Sydney in 1828 and bought a 2,000 acre property on the Hunter River.
Wyndham, who was only 27 himself at the time, later became renowned for being very kind to his assigned convict workers.
Patrick Brown was assigned to him as a servant.
[The Wyndham Estate is still in existence as a working wine-producing operation.]
On 23 September 1839, Patrick Brown, aged 31, was granted permission by Rev. John Fitzpatrick of Goulburn to marry "free emigrant", Catherine Rourke.
But just two weeks later, on 7 October 1839, this permission was withdrawn on the grounds that not enough information had been supplied about 'Cath'.
It would appear that the information withheld was that she, like Patrick, was a convict, not a 'free emigrant'.
Catherine Rourke arrived in Sydney on 23 April 1837 on the Sarah & Elizabeth after being sentenced to 14 years transportation at Lancaster, Liverpool Quarter Sessions.
That same year, Patrick had a son, Thomas, by an Aboriginal woman.
In 1844, Patrick Brown was granted a conditional pardon.
At that time he was assigned to Mr Campbell JP, the manager of a squatter's run on the south side of the Moruya River, near Broulee.
This was 'Gundary' owned by William Morris and located across the river from the farm of the first settler in the area, Francis Flanagan.
Patrick Brown was under the jurisdiction of three local magistrates and landholders: Francis Flanagan, John Hawdon and one other.
There is no marriage record for Patrick and Catherine, but in 1848 they appear to have had a son, John, and in 1859, another son James born at Broulee.
At this stage, it is simply speculation that Ethel knew Frank Brown before she met Jimmy Governor. And that Brown may have been the father of her first child.
More evidence is required to establish whether or not this was the case.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Ethel Page, a young white woman, was part of the Aboriginal community long before she met Jimmy Governor.
She spent her first eight years in the Kempsey district on the NSW North Coast where there was, and still is, a large Aboriginal population.
She may have met her future husband, Frank Brown, there.
The mother of Francis "Frank" Joseph Brown had died in 1883, aged 39, when he was 6.
His next eldest brother, John, was 9 and the one after him, Richard, 11.
Their father, Thomas Brown, was about 46.
They appear to have had relatives in the Kempsey area and Frank and his brothers may have been sent to stay with them.
When Ethel's family left the district in 1890, he would have been 13.
Ethel Page was born at Gladstone, a town in the area, on 4 February 1882.
At the time her parents were living at Summer Island on the west bank of the Macleay River.
When they married, on 30 April 1881, they were living on the other side of the river at Kinchela Creek.
Alternatively, Ethel and Frank may have met in Gulgong.
Frank Brown's father had grown up near Aruluen, another goldfield, so he may have gone to Gulgong in connection with gold.
Another possibility is that they met in the Wollongong district where Ethel and her parents appear to have moved seeking anonimity after Jimmy Governor was hanged.
Frank Joseph Brown renounced his Catholic faith when he married Ethel Governor in St Michael's Church of England at Wollongong on 23 November 1901.
As recently as 60 years ago, Catholics were not allowed to even attend weddings at churches other that Catholic.
Marrying outside the Catholic Church would have meant automatic excommunication.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


(Annie) Hannah Nicholson was born at 'Kiora' near Broulee in 1844.
'Kiora' was a farming property owned by John Hawdon who was granted the land on the north bank of the Moruya River in 1831.
He had arrived in the colony of New South Wales from England in 1828.
In 1839 he was one of two magistrates at the court established that year at Broulee.
The supply of convict labour to farmers stopped in 1840, and as a result, local white settlers began to employ more Aboriginal people, particularly as house servants.
When Hannah Nicholson married Thomas Golden/Goulding Brown in 1858 at the age of 14, her occupation was 'house servant' and her place of residence, Broulee.
Annie Brown died on 19 October 1883, aged 39, of inflammation of the lungs.
According to her husband, Thomas Brown, her father was Charles Nicholson, a sheep overseer.
Thomas did not know the name of Annie's mother.
At the time of Annie's death at Tomakin, north of Broulee, nine of her 11 children were living.
The youngest was Francis "Frank" Joseph Brown, aged 6.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


The baptismal record for Thomas Golden/Goulding reveals he was born at Bourke, in the far west of New South Wales.
He was baptised as 'Thomas Brown' in the Roman Catholic rite at Araluen, a gold mining town near Braidwood, on 25 February 1855.
This took place three-and-a-half years before his marriage in the Roman Catholic Church at Braidwood, St Bede's, to Hannah (Annie) Nicholson.
Thomas's baptismal record says he was a labourer living at Braidwood at the time of his baptism, and that his father was Patrick Brown and his mother 'a native Black'.
His birthdate was given as 'about the year 1839'.
Other records suggest it was actually 1837.
The settlement of Bourke began in 1835 when the colonial surveyor, Thomas Mitchell, built a small stockade there called 'Fort Bourke' during his visit to the area.
The only way Thomas's father, Patrick Brown, a convict, could have been there was if he had been assigned to Mitchell's party, or to one of the earliest settlers in the area.
The word 'Bourke' may have been confused with the name of Patrick Brown's new partner, Catherine Rourke.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Yesterday I found a family tree on a Facebook page called 'Donovan Mob'.
This revealed that Ethel and Frank Brown are related by marriage to the current day well known Aboriginal Foley, Dixon and Donovan families.
One of Frank's older brothers, Patrick (named after his Irish grandfather), married Elizabeth Marshall, housemaid, on 3-8-1878 at Broulee on the NSW South Coast under Roman Catholic rites.
Elizabeth Marshall was a granddaughter of John Marshall and Aboriginal woman Bridget (Biddy) Donovan.
Patrick Brown was the first child of Thomas Goulding/Golden Brown and Hanna (Annie) Nicholson.
He was born at Reidsdale in the Braidwood district on 17-6-1859 and was 18 years older than his youngest brother, Francis (Frank) who married Ethel Governor.
After having three children at Broulee, Patrick and Elizabeth headed north, having two more children at Nambucca Heads, another at Macksville and three at Kempsey.
The first at Kempsey was in 1898.
Their last child, born 1904, was named 'Ethel', possibly after Patrick's brother's Frank's wife, Ethel (nee Governor nee Page).
The girl died two years later.
Most of the research for this Donovan family tree has been done by Cathy Dunn, a NSW South Coast professional genealogist.
Here is the link DONOVAN MOB

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


The Parson(s) family, associated with Ethel Governor, appears to be an old NSW South Coast Aboriginal family.
When Ethel married Frank Brown at the South Coast town of Wollongong in 1901, one of the witnesses was Henry Parsons.
Then Ethel's first daughter, Thelma Violet, married a George Parson in 1918 at the South Coast town of Moruya.
She married under the name 'Violet Governor', not Violet Brown.
The Parsons couple had four children, Cyril, Ethel, Robert and Ruth.
A report I found on the web about the significance of the Biamanga & Gulaga mountains of the NSW South Coast, published by the Aboriginal Cultural Association and others,claims that an Englishman, Samuel Parsons had a son Daniel with a Wandanian woman called Sally.
He may have been the forebear of the Parsons associated with Frank and Ethel Brown.
The report also contains a photo of a Cronjy Parsons ('Sonnoboy') as a member of The Leaf Band at Lake Wallaga in 1922.
In 1873, a Henry Parsons married Dorcas Stumbles at Wollongong.
In 1877, they had a child, Henry M Parsons.
Either may have been the witness of Frank Brown b.1878 at his wedding to Ethel Governor in 1901.
However, it seems it may have been the younger Henry who named his first child, a girl born in 1902, Ethel.


Another of Ethel's brothers, Thomas 'David' Givney Page, shared a close friendship with Aboriginal people.
David Page
A descendent of his who has given me permission to use his photo on my blog tells me Aboriginal people taught him how to divine water.
David Page used to spend a lot of time in the bush prospecting for gold so this was a very handy skill for him to have.

He married a lady of Irish descent from Milton on the NSW South Coast, moved to Sydney where he lived near Ethel and their mother on the northern beaches while working in a garage, then back to the South Coast near Nowra.


Ethel was not the only member of her family to have an Aboriginal marriage partner.
Her younger brother, William (Willy) Page, married an Aboriginal woman, Elizabeth Jane Cooley.
In 1922, Willy, a labourer, and Elizabeth, domestic duties, were living at Ulladulla while his sister, Ethel and her husband, Frank Brown, labourer, were living at Milton.
Both Milton and Ulladulla are on the NSW South Coast.
[Source: 1922 Electoral Roll Milton Ulladulla Districts]
In January 1918, a white woman carried out to sea by a rip at Seven Mile Beach (on NSW South Coast) was saved by a local Aboriginal man, [Thomas] Coolie.
The local newspaper, the Illawarra Mercury, reported that he had come from an Aboriginal camp, over half a mile away.
He went out beyond the surf with a rope to rescue the woman in waters known to be infested with sharks.
It was intended to strongly recommend him for the Royal Humane Society's medal.
The Parents' and Citizens' Association was also taking steps to have him generously rewarded.
Mrs Hinton, the woman whose life he saved, came from the inland town of Dubbo.
[Source: Study of South Coast Aboriginals by Michael Organ, University of Wollongong, 1993.]
The word 'coolie' was used as a label for indentured workers from India brought to New South Wales, and also for Chinese working on the goldfields.
People of the colony of New South Wales, just before it became one of a federation of states to form the country of Australia at the turn of the 20th century, were scandalised by the marriage of a white woman to a black man.
Jimmy Governor's three-month's rampage across the central and northern part of the state brought this perceived social abberation to the public's attention and approbation.
Yet as far as Ethel was concerned, marrying a part-Aboriginal man had been an acceptable thing for her to do.
He was good-looking, a hard worker, keen on her in preference to other girls and wanted to marry her.
What could be 'wrong' about that?


In an interview for the Coastal Custodians newsletter of February 2005, Aunty Vic Carriage, Ethel Governor's only living child, said that the Page family lived next door to the Governors [on the outskirts of Gulgong in 1898].
She said that Jimmy hung around a lot and so, to protect the family, 'Julia [Ethel's mother] made my mother [Ethel Brown nee Governor nee Page] marry Jimmy Governor'.
When Jimmy Governor arrived at the O'Brien home intent on murdering the man of the house, Mick O'Brien, he instead found his persecutor's pregnant wife with her 15-month-old son.
Coincidentally the child was the same age as Ethel's boy.
Was the rage he inflicted on this mother and child really subconsciously meant for Ethel and her son?


The other name Ethel chose for her first child, 'Louis', also presented me as a family historian with some food for thought.
I discovered that Ethel was very particular about the names she gave her children.
When her daughter Ruth Victoria Brown was born, her mother, Julia Page, wanted to call her granddaughter, 'Queen Victoria', after the former ruling British monarch, but the authorities would not allow it.
So she settled for Ruth Victoria Queen Brown instead.
[Source: Coastal Custodians, Feb 2005 see  via link in right margin of  this blog]
It appears to me that Ethel seemed to think she had royal heritage.
'Louis' is the name of a long list of French kings and some lived at the Palace of Versailles which is near the town of Giverny (also spelt 'Givney').
Ethel's mother's mother's maiden name was Givney.
Was there a family French royal connection?
Ethel named her first child with Frank Brown after their marriage 'Robert Joseph Golden' Brown.
Was it just a coincidence that she had given her first son the name 'Golding' which could be a misspelling of 'Goulding'?
Or was Frank Brown the father of her first child, and not Jimmy Governor?


Thomas G Brown was born in Bourke c.1839 and baptised a Roman Catholic at Araluen near Braidwood in 1855.
His father, Patrick Brown, appears to have been Irish, or born in the colony of Irish descent, and his mother was an Aboriginal mother.
In 1858, when he was 19, he married Hannah (Annie) Nicholson, under the Roman Catholic rite at Braidwood.
They had 11 children, six of whom were living at the time of their father's death: Patrick (b.1860), Charles (b. 1862), Thomas (b.1865), Richard (b.1873), John (b. 1875), and Frank (b.1878).
The two deceased girls were Myrtle and Margaret.
When the couple married, Thomas was living at Currawang on the Clyde River at Bateman's Bay and and Annie at Broulee.
He was a servant and she a house servant.  
The name Ethel Governor gave her first child, Sydney Golding Louis Governor, has always struck me as 'odd'.
In those days, first sons were usually named after their father, in this case, 'James'.
'Louis' appears to be a French family connection.
But where did his middle name 'Golding' come from?
In a post I made last February, I observed that this was the middle name of the father of Francis (Frank) Brown, Ethel's second Aboriginal husband.
According to transcripts of Thomas Brown's marriage and death certificates, his middle name was spelt 'Goulding' or 'Golden'.
These were the names of a South Coast Aboriginal leader, Budd Billy II (c.1815-1905), who was given a breastplate by the whites denoting him as 'King of Jervis Bay'.
He was also known as 'Jimmy Goulding' and 'King Golden' and his wife Mary (c.1822-1928) as 'Queen Golden', Mary Goulding, Mary Golden and Queen Mary.
[Source: Lady Denman Heritage Complex website]
If Thomas Golden/Goulding Brown was connected with this Aboriginal couple, then Ethel married into Aboriginal royalty when she married his youngest son, Frank in 1901.
Jimmy drowned his sorrows by killing people for a while, but by early September, six weeks after last seeing Ethel, he wrote her a letter.

To the police of NSW
My dear Ethel.
You did not now suppose you was free, dear, when you was with me; you never think that you was at home. I have been good to you, and often say the Lord take me away. I hope he got you. You know you are going fast, dear. I suppose you glad, but I am not. I feel sorry for you, dear Ethel...

He asked for her to come and spend some time with him before he gave himself up to the police, but she did not go.
Either she feared for her life, possibly knowing that under tribal law Jimmy could kill his deserting wife, or the police would not let her.
The police would want to protect their chief witness and would not want to do a deal with an outlaw with a price on his head.
These days when a wife tells her husband she is planning to leave him, the man sometimes becomes deranged with grief and anger, and wounded pride, and kills their children.
But Jimmy Governor killed his employers' wife and children instead.
He blamed them for the break-up of his brief marriage of only 19 months, just over a year and a half.
After the murders of four members of the Mawbey family, Jimmy wanted to kill his own wife and her child, but was prevented by one of  his older kinsmen who was with him.
The Aboriginal culture was based on 'honour and shame' Jimmy had been shamed and his honour shattered in the eyes of other people by his wife leaving him.
He was broken hearted.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

On a cold winter's evening in July 1900, a young white woman, Mrs James Governor, gave her part Aboriginal husband, Jimmy, some bad news.
She was leaving him.
It was dinner time and they had no food to eat.
All their rations freely given to them by their employer, farming husband and wife, John and Sarah Mawbey, had been exhausted.
This was because Jimmy had invited some male relatives and a friend to stay with him, and they had eaten some two-thirds of the rations meant for two adults and a small child.
Jimmy had not only used up all the rations, he was 15 shillings in debt for those he had been given generously in advance by the Mawbeys.
Ethel was fed up with living in a humpy by a creek, an isolated existence with no family or friends for support.
After she had married Jimmy in December 1898, she had moved into his father's house next door to that of her parents at Wyaldra Creek on the outskirts of Gulgong.
She had apparently not anticipated having to 'camp out' with her husband, even though she knew he was an itinerant farm worker.
Most of all she was fed up with Jimmy's refusal to stand up to the Mawbey women and the female school teacher about their salacious and malicious comments about her sexual relationship with a black man.
She wanted him to defend her honour, to teach them some respect.
There were several valid reasons Jimmy had found this hard to do.
Ethel had decided she wanted a better life.
She was starting to put on airs and graces, even using the same expressions as the school teacher with German parents, like 'pooh' to dismiss what he said to her.
And Mrs Mawbey had advised her that if she wanted a better life for herself and her 15-month-old son, she would have to leave Jimmy.
Jimmy later told of the heated discussion he had with Ethel at their camp that evening, before the two of them left to murder the Mawbeys.
My wife and I had a word or two about cooking and something or another about the camp.
With that I said, 'I suppose I am in this world alone with no one to care for me. I thought you was my wife.'
She said, 'Go to the devil.'
Everything I said to her she said, 'Pooh, that's nothing! Pooh, that's nothing!'
With that me and Underwood cleared out.
I thought I might as well die, so the Mawbey murders were committed.
A couple of days earlier, Jimmy had broken all the crockery in the camp because he was planning to leave.
This meant there would be nothing heavy to carry by people travelling on foot.
But it could also have symbolised the breakdown of Jimmy and Ethel's domestic arrangements, the end of their marriage.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


The hymn sung at the church funeral service of the three murdered Mawbey children at Gilgandra was 'When He Cometh'.
It was written by American pastor William O Cushing in 1856 for his Sunday School children.
The music is by George F. Root.

When He cometh, when He cometh
To make up His jewels,
All His jewels, precious jewels,
His loved and His own.

Like the stars of the morning,
His brightness adorning,
They shall shine in their beauty,
Bright gems for His crown.
He will gather, He will gather
The gems for His kingdom;
All the pure ones, all the bright ones,
His loved and His own.
Little children, little children,
Who love their Redeemer,
Are the jewels, precious jewels,
His loved and His own.

Listen to the tune and see and hear children singing this hymn by clicking on this link:
"When He Cometh"

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Singleton Argus, Thursday 6 September 1900
The scene of Saturday's robbery by the blacks is about 10 miles from Murrurundli.
They also visited two more places, the first Mr George Hamilton's house on Mr Henry Hall's selection.
The Hamiltons were away when the blacks arrived.
Coming home they heard voices inside, and peeped in, and saw the Governors.
Then they rode to Ardglen for assistance, and on returning surrounded the bouse, but the blacks had decamped.
They turned the houso up side down, took eggs, flour, tea, a new .32 Winchester, 87 cartridges, and a felt hat, leaving an old felt hat, burnt from lifting the pot off the fire.
Later on they stuck up Mr Michael Harper, a boundary rider, at Colly Creek.
They had previously robbed Mr Baker's three houses on Chilcott's Creek.
They pointed a rifle at Harper, and asked for tucker, and told him to tell Hamilton that his rifle was a good one, and better because they got it for nothing.
They had tried it at a tin.
Harper gave them provisions, and they left.
At Harper's Sub-Inspector Galbraith's party and about 25 civilians were met by a messenger who stated that the party sent north-east by Galbraith had met and exchanged 14 shots with the Governors. Smith, the messenger, was nearly shot.
He left two mates watching them.
On arrival they found that they had let the outlaws escape.
The blacks had stuck up the McCulloch's, and given letters to them, addressed to the police, "from the Breelong murderers."


The Advertiser, Adelaide, Tuesday 31 July 1900
Sydney, July 30.
The black outlaws are still at large large, and the police and bushmen alike have been completely baffled.
There is the greatest difficulty in getting reliable information,owing to the absence of telegraphic communication.
A telephone is in course of erection at Wollar.
Were it completed, the movements of the search parties would be much more easily directed.
It as thought that the telegraph line should be tapped at Ulan and a temporary office erected there.  
To send a messenger 30 miles, and then to await a reply, is to arrive on any trail too late to be of much use.
Coming along the track taken by the fugitives, it is easy to understand how the police were outwitted. No effort is being spared to find the murderers.
The police are out late and early, and only take very brief rest.
Any talk of a systematic search is foolishness.
Ten times the number of men engaged could not, as has been suggested, sweep the country.
Going 10 yards apart they might easily miss their men among the rocks, holes, boulders, and timber that afford excellent cover.  
Trooper Morris, who was recently invalided from the Transvaal, where be was recommended for the Victoria Cross, led a search party from Singleton over the Wollar route, and is thoroughly eager in the pursuit.
He says that the country around Wollar is much rougher than South African country.
The hills here ran in ranges instead of being broken up, as they are in South Africa, and the timber around Wollar affords much better cover.
This party is only one of dozens that are scouring the country, eager to be in at the capture.
It is known that a reward has been offered, but very little thought is given to that.
Everyone is eager for the sake of relatives, who are huddled together in various centres, to rid the country of those who have paralysed everything.
To pass deserted homesteads with the stock feeding in growing crops is a common sight.  
Here and there a few sturdy specimens refuse to leave, and should tbe blacks happen to call at such places, they may have a warm reception.
The police wish if possible to take the Governors alive, but no unnecessary risks are expected to be taken in doing so.  
Further parties continue to leave Mudgee towards Wollar.
Many residents of Cooyal and Botobollar are applying for arms to defend themselves.
Three of the principal stores at those towns have sold during the last few days over £300 worth of arms and ammunition

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Charles Page, Ethel Governor's father, has remained a shadowy figure in all accounts of the Jimmy Governor story so far, with very little known about him.
His marriage registration reveals he was born in Lincolnshire, England, c.1839, the son of a farmer.
At the time of his marriage, in April 1881, he was 42 and working as a farmer at Kinchela Creek, north of Kempsey.
Kinchela Creek later became the site of an Aboriginal school and then an Aboriginal boys' home.
Charles' wife, Julia Moore, was 23, 19 years younger than him.
Her place of birth was Gloucester, England and the occupation of her deceased father, printer.
The couple were married in the Weslyan (Methodist) tradition at the home of the two witnesses, rather than at the local Weslyan church.
They then went on to have eight children, with Ethel the first  in 1882 and Henry the last in 1899 when Charles Page was 60.
For location, see KINCHELA - GOOGLE MAPS

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Yesterday I found performance reports ot three of the four female teachers who taught the Mawbey children at Breelong West.
All of them were there because they were struggling to make the grade as fully qualified teachers.
These teachers were Laura Squires, Mary Ann Edwards (my grandmother) and Ellen Kerz.
The first one was Mary Robinson whose details I will get the next time I am at NSW State Records.
In 1867, the NSW Department of Public Instruction had established a system of Provisional Schools in areas where there were between 15 and 25 children needing an elementary education.
During the 1880s, the minimum number was reduced to 12, and in 1898, to 10.
These schools, like the one at Breelong West, were generally staffed by untrained teachers, or by teachers of the lowest classification.
Ellen Kerz, the teacher who was murdered by Jimmy Governor, had been instructed by the Department of Public Instruction to 'act' as a teacher at Breelong after failing to pass the exam for admission to teacher Training School.
Mary Ann Edwards, who was the teacher at Breelong the year before Miss Kerz, stuggled with her teaching exams too, but unlike the other three, managed to pass her admission to Training School.
After graduating from that, she was posted to Stanmore Public Infants, and subsequently to Breelong West Provisional School.
She left Breelong in June 1899 to do another teaching exam in Sydney, but then failed to gain classification.
Miss Edwards was then transferred to act as a teacher at Woodfield Probationary Public and then as an assistant at Lithgow Public Girls School.
At Lithgow her annual salary was raised from 88 pounds to 90 pounds.
She then went to Wallsend Public Girls School and then Wickham Infants (built 1892), both in the Newcastle area, before retiring without gratuity on 25 September 1903.
Mary Ann Edwards subsequently married John Mawbey (2) whom she had met at Breelong.

                                                                     Wickham Infants
                                                                      (Source: Wikipedia)

Laura Squires, the teacher before Miss Edwards, had so much trouble failing to pass her teaching exams that the Minister decided she had to take the job at Breelong, a second class provisional school, or resign.
She was even given the date by which she had to resign if she refused to take up this offer, 30 June 1897.
It was Laura Squires who had difficulty getting on with Sarah Mawbey with whom she was boarding at Breelong.
Miss Squires ended up moving out and going to live with another family, causing ill will with Mrs Mawbey.
Her former landlady retaliated by withholding her children from the school, thereby adversely affecting the amount of money Miss Squires was paid.
Miss Squires was at Breelong when it was a home school and then when it was upgraded to a provisional school.
The other schools Miss Squires taught at were Darling Road Infants, Penrith Public Infants, Bexley Public, Erskinville Girls Public, Jenolan Caves Provisional and O'Grady's Home School.
She was then a teacher's assistant at North Broken Hill Public and Burke Ward Primary, a temporary assistant at Chatswood Girls Public, and finally, an assistant at Tempe and Darlinghurst Girls.
When she retired without gratuity from 14 August 1908 she was earning 90 pounds per annum.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


According to the New Zealand National Library website (, there were 1569 news stories published in New Zealand newspapers about the Jimmy Governor murders and his subsequent three-month rampage.
These papers included:
Ahsburton Guardian, Auckland Star, Bay of Plenty Times, Colonist, Daily Telegraph, Evening Post, Feilding Star, Grey River Argus, Hawera and Normanby Star, Hawkes Bay Herald, Inangahua Times, Manawatu Herald, Manawatu Standard, Marlborough Express,  Nelson Evening Mail, North Otago Times, Ohinemuri Gazette, Otago Daily Times, Otago Witness, Poverty Bay Herald, Southland Times, Thames Star, Waimate Daily Advertiser, Wanganui Herald, Wanganui Chronicle, West Coast Times.


US-based GenealogyBank, said to be the largest newspaper archive for family history research, has some online newspaper reports about the Breelong murders.
Idaho Statesman, Idaho, 6 July 1900 - Chasing Criminals
Evening News, California, 25 August 1900 - Two Blacks Leave Wide Blood Trail Butchery of Women and Children Arouses Whole District ...
Morning Herald, Kentucky, 7 September 1900 - Eleven Persons Paid Their Lives as Penalty of Negro's Terrible Vengeance
Daily Herald, Mississippi, 4 November 1900 - Reign of Terror Within 100 Miles of Sydney. Two Desperadoes Engaged in Bloody Work
Idaho Statesman, Idaho, 30 November 1900 - Blacks Finished. Squatters in Australia after Outlaws. One Killed, the other Wounded
Helena Independent, Montana, 30 November 1900 - Outlaws Captured. Notorious Australian Criminals Surrounded and Shot by Squatters