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)