Number of Lives Sacrificed

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser

18 June 1814

Government House, Sydney, Saturday, 18th June, 1814.

The Governor and Commander in Chief feels much regret in having to advert to the unhappy conflicts which have lately taken place between the settlers in the remoter Districts of Bringelly, Airds, and Appin, and the natives of the mountains adjoining those districts; and he sincerely laments that any cause should have been given on either side for the sanguinary and cruel acts which have been reciprocally perpetrated by each Party.

The number of lives sacrificed, as well by the settlers as the natives, in retaliation for real or supposed injuries, but without due regard either to previous aggression on the part of the unfortunate suffers, or to the dictates of humanity, have already given rise to a legal investigation before a bench of magistrates; and although it was not sufficiently clear and satisfactory to warrant the institution of criminal prosecution, it was enough so to convince any unprejudiced man that the first personal attacks were made on the part of the settlers, and of their servants.

It appears, however, that the natives have lately shewn a disposition to help themselves to a portion of the maize and other grain belonging to the settlers in these districts, in a manner very different from their former habits; and the latter have of course just ground of complaint for the depredations committed upon them.

But whilst it is to be regretted that the natives have thus violated the property of the settlers, it has not appeared in the examination of witnesses that they have carried their depredations to any alarming extent, or even to the serious prejudice of any one individual Settler.

From this review of the past occurrences, the Governor desires to admonish the settlers from taking the law into their own hands for the future, and to beware of wanton acts of oppression and cruelty against the natives, who are, in like manner with themselves under, and entitled to the protection of the British Laws, so long as they conduct themselves conformably to them.

And it is a duty which the Governor will be always prompt in the performance of, mutually to restrain the aggressions of the one and other party, and to punish in the most exemplary manner every person, whether settler or native, who shall premeditately violate those Laws.

When it is taken into consideration that several years have elapsed since anything like a principle of hostility has been acted upon, or even in the slightest degree exhibited in the conduct of the natives, it must be evident that no deep rooted prejudice exists in their minds against British Subjects or white men; indeed, the free and kindly intercourses that have subsisted between them from the foundation of the Colony (now upwards of 26 years ago) to the present time, with the exception of a few slight interruptions, prove beyond a doubt that the natives have no other principle of hostility to the settlers than what arises from such casual circumstances as the present may be attributed to.

In such circumstances it will be highly becoming and praiseworthy in the British settlers to exercise their patience and forbearance, and therein to shew the superiority they possess over those unenlightened natives by adopting a conciliatory line of conduct towards them, and returning to the performance of those friendly offices by which they have so long preserved a good understanding with them. In acting thus, they will reflect credit on themselves, and most effectually secure their own personal safety; but should outrages be then further committed by the natives, on information being given to the Magistrate of the District, the most active measures will be taken for the apprehension and punishment of the aggressors, in like manner as under similar circumstances would take place when British Subjects only were concerned.

The Governor has lately taken much personal pains to impress this circumstance on the minds of several of the Cowpasture and other natives of the Interior, and to point out to them the absolute necessity for their desisting from all acts of depredation or violence on the property or persons of the settlers; and be has had strong assurances from them, that should they be shot at, or wantonly attacked (as in the case which occurred lately in Appin, wherein a native woman and two children were in the dead hour of night, and whilst sleeping, inhumanly put to death), they will conduct themselves in the same peaceable manner as they had done previous to the present conflict; they have at the same time the fullest assurance from the Governor, that any complaint they may be disposed to make to him will be duly attended to; and any person who may be found to have treated them with inhumanity or cruelty, will he punished according to the measure of their offences therein.

Some few sacrifices may be required; and it is hoped they will be chearfully made by the settlers, towards the restoration of peace; but should the Governor be disappointed in his ardent wish for the reestablishment of good will between the settlers and the natives, minute enquiries will be made into the motives and conduct of each party, and the agrieved will receive the fullest protection, whilst the fomentors of those hostilities will meet the most exemplary punishment.

This Order requiring the earliest and greatest publicity, His Excellency the Governor desires that it shall be read on Sunday the 20th instant, and Sunday the 31 of July next, during the time of Divine Service, by the Chaplains, at their respective Churches or Places of Worship throughout the Colony; and the Magistrates are also directed to assemble the settlers with all convenient expedition in their respective Districts, and to impress fully on their minds the necessity for their prompt and implicent obedience to this order.