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Incident, Wallis Plains, 1826

Tony Smith
Lingua: Inglese


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Incident, Wallis Plains, 1826
© Tony Smith 2017

John Eckford, brother of my 3 x great grandmother Jane, had an eventful life. Born in 1801, he was involved in the mistake which led to his father William being condemned to death for sheep stealing. He was appointed Constable at Wallis Plains (Maitland) in 1825.
Following violence between settlers and Aboriginal people, Governor Darling despatched Lt Lowe to the ‘frontier’. Colonial Secretary Bathurst issued orders that the raids of the locals should be repelled just as would raids by any other ‘state’. Aboriginal people were to be considered invaders in their own land.
Lowe was committed for trial following the summary execution of a prisoner ‘Jacky Jacky’. He was quickly found not guilty by the jury which consisted mainly of army officers. During the trial, the question arose of whether Aboriginal people were subjects of the crown and so thereby entitled to the crown’s protection. Otherwise, they seemed to have no rights recognisable in law.
Uncle John gave evidence to the inquiry. One secondary source suggests that in some way he ‘let the cat out of the bag’ but my examination of the evidence could not find anything significant in his testimony. It is possible of course that others might be able to be more subtle in their interpretations.
The trial of Lowe was important. An opportunity was lost to deter future massacres of Indigenous peoples.
Come hearken to my story, the saddest of tales
Ever in this country, the land of New South Wales
About a black prisoner, in his chains shot down
And the farce of a trial, held in Sydney town

In the mid eighteen twenties, deprived of their land
The poor Australians, had to make a stand
Against the invader, and his greedy ways
Once a welcome visitor, he now meant to stay

Gubbas stole the people’s land, their women disgraced
What else would they expect, but resistance displayed?
A corn farm near Singleton, saw a fatal fight
And settlers decided, Blacks to shoot on sight

Governor Darling sent a man, called Nathaniel Lowe
With his troop of mounted men, the English law to show
They fired off their muskets, at any man about
And women and children, were put to the rout

They held a man called Jacky, locked in his chains
Near the soldiers’ barracks, in sleepy Wallis Plains
Lowe bade his men shoot him, down him like a dog
They feared his wrath, more than that of god

The local magistrates around, their thanks to Lowe did write
They thought the Indigenes, would now give up the fight
But Darling heard other views that called the act a crime
And set up an inquiry, that would report in time

When Lowe was brought before the court, in distant Sydney town
The jury heard some arguments, to make a good man frown
‘Were Black men like Jacky, really subjects of the Crown?’
‘Are they men at all like us?’ asked one be-wigged clown

Such finer legal points, were of great import
If black folk lacked protection, they’d be hunted down for sport
But when the trial was over, the jury fast agreed
They found Lowe not guilty, and so he was freed

Lowe had some backers, they went wild and clapped
They shook his hand up and down, his back they loudly slapped
They acted just like they would if they had won a game
While those who loved English law, hung their heads in shame

No justice for the slaughtered, cruelty was unleashed
Not all settlers were unjust, but some of them were beasts
The frontier wars they worsened, Blacks like flies died
The locals decimated, in this time of genocide

inviata da Tony Smith - 20/9/2017 - 23:30



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