Fanny Bailey, Tama Hine, Weed

 Child labourers in the 1800s

Child labourers in the 1800s


Recently I talked to a senior social worker about the little girl who Lockyer had removed from the sealer Samuel Bailey in 1827. “I’ve often thought that it was the first child protection case in Western Australia,” he said, “and you know what? The same dilemmas that Lockyer faced still apply today – if she has no parents or carers, then where do I send this child to keep her safe?” (58)
As well as the abducted Menang woman whom he’d ‘drawn a straw for’; Samuel Bailey took a six or seven year old child to Eclipse Island. Fanny (59) was an Aboriginal girl whom d’Urville described as being “from the mainland opposite Middle Island.” (60) There is a paucity of records regarding her origins. Lockyer mentions vaguely that she hailed from “the mainland Eastward of this.” (61) D’Urville noted that although the other women had been with the sealers for several years, the child had only been with them for about seven months. (62) Given that the Governor Brisbane or Hunter crew had been left at Middle Island seven months previous to meeting d’Urville in King George Sound, it is most likely that they took Fanny from the Esperance area.

Whether Fanny was the daughter of an Aboriginal woman who had been taken by sealers, or abducted alone from the mainland is uncertain. There are no records of adult Noongar women living within the Breaksea Island community of 1826 other than the two Menang women who were kidnapped in King George Sound. I posit that Fanny was kidnapped alone and that her abduction was one of the earliest actions of the Governor Brisbane or Hunter crew when they were dropped at Middle Island.

Bass Strait sealers, or Straitsmen, kidnapped both male and female Pallawah children, as did the Vandemonian settlers. (63) The children were used as a labour source and as concubines for those of paedophilic tendencies. Nicholas Clements writes that female Pallawah children were especially vulnerable to abduction: “For one their inexperience and lack of strength made them more vulnerable in ambushes. Taken young, they were also more likely to grow submissive, and if prepubescent, they would not burden their masters with unwanted children. What is more, they would hold their value as labourers and concubines longer.” (64)
Straitsmen also often kept their own offspring after their Tyreelore mothers had died, been sold to a sealer on another island, or been taken by the ‘conciliator’ G.A. Robinson into exile at Gun Carriage Island and later Flinders Island.

Samuel Bailey, according to William Hook’s testimony, took Fanny and the Menang woman to Eclipse Island some time during October or November 1826. There is a (now abandoned) lighthouse settlement on the island these days but it is still a wild and isolated place. Bailey would have worked the rocks and nearby Seagull Island for seal, salted the skins and tried out the oil. He would have expected the two females to work for him. He may have taught them. It was dangerous working those rocks in rough seas. Eclipse Island, bearing the brunt of the Southern Ocean, its steep granite cliffs on the south side scarred by wind and sea, is a dangerous place to work at any time of the year.

While Bailey was at Eclipse, the Amity arrived. When William Hook informed Lockyer of the girl and woman being held captive on Eclipse Island, Lockyer sent a boat out to Eclipse Island to rescue them and arrest Samuel Bailey. On the morning of the 13th of January, Menang people began gathering at Lockyer’s makeshift garrison to await their return. Lockyer pointed at the sun and drew a line to the western horizon to explain that they would have to wait until early evening before the boat returned. In his report he expressed his apprehension as to whether the boat would even get back that night and whether the Menang woman would be in it. (65)

At sunset the boat came in through the heads and moored close to where the Residency Museum is now situated. The horror of what the Menang woman and Fanny had endured during the weeks on Eclipse Island was evident to everyone who saw them. The Menang woman was greeted with tears and consternation by her country men and women. But the people who greeted her also indicated that Fanny did not belong with them. “The natives looked upon the little Girl and shook their heads, meaning she did not belong to them and then pointed to Pigeon and then to the Girl meaning that he must take care of her.” (66)

At this point, Lockyer gave the child a name, Fanny. He possibly thought of his own daughter Fanny Oceana, who was roughly the same age as the child. (67) Lockyer later decided to send Fanny to New South Wales on the Amity’s return trip. The Governor would decide what to do with her. D.A.P. West theorises that this action indicated a lack of European female presence in the settlement to care for Fanny (68) however records show that three women and two children arrived on the Amity and were living in the settlement. (69) Perhaps Fanny was considered a burden, an extra mouth to feed in a fledgling colony already grappling with the spearing of their only blacksmith, feuding sealers and natives, and the death of three sheep. Perhaps it was protocol to send all Aboriginal foundlings to New South Wales. Perhaps Lockyer despaired of any other alternative. I wonder at how visibly abused she was and whether Lockyer suspected that she had been raped by Samuel Bailey and I think about what the social worker said to me.

Lockyer wrote in his report, “As the Amity is set to sail on Tuesday, I have ordered that the little Girl Fanny who was taken off the mainland to the Eastward of this, and having no means of restoring her to the tribe to which she belongs, to be taken to Sydney for the disposal of His Excellency.” (70)

On the 24th of January, Fanny left King George Sound for Sydney in the company of Samuel Bailey and William Hook, who was to testify against Bailey on arrival. Samuel Bailey was aboard as a prisoner to be interviewed about his involvement in the Green Island murder. There were no women aboard the ship. Although Fanny had spent several months in small whaleboats, this was the first time that she had sailed on a brig. By the time she arrived in Sydney, authorities named her Fanny Bailey, after her abductor.

In February 1827, Fanny was taken to the Aboriginal School at Blacktown by the captain of the Amity Thomas Hansen. (71) Maori, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children learned reading and writing at the school in racially segregated classes. The boys worked at carpentry and the girls at sewing and knitting. Samuel Marsden established the school under the colonial ideology of ‘Civilise, Commercialise, Christianise.’ When the school ran short of its quota of Aboriginal children volunteered by their parents, Marsden was known to ‘obtain’ residential students in order to fulfil his ideology of assimilation and civilisation. (72)

“There are obvious discrepancies regarding Fanny Bailey’s origins,” wrote the biographers of the Parramatta Native Institution. “Whatever, she must have been awfully bewildered and confused by the time the changing events of her few years of life drew her under the guidance of William and Dinah Hall (73) at the Native Institution. Bemused, she received two ‘shifts’ of her own and was placed on rations at Black Town on March 10 1827, so becoming the fifteenth student.” (74) This quote below from The Parramatta Native Institution and Black Town, a history illustrates how Fanny’s life changed from one of violence, disorder and exile with the Breaksea Islanders to routine, confinement and exile at the Native Institution:

1. Children to be up and dressed by 6. And set to work.
2. To wash themselves at ½ past 7, go to prayers and breakfast at 8.
3. To work until 10 o’clock.
4. To wash and go to school from 10 until 12. Write one copy, read ½ an hour, cipher I hour.
5. To dine at ¼ after 12 and play till 1.
6. To school at 1. Read and cipher until 2.
7. To work from 2 till 6, the boys at carpenting, the girls sewing and knitting.
8. To play and wash and ready for supper at 7.
9. To prayers at ½ past 7 and to be in bed at 8.
10. On Sunday, morning to be devoted to instruction of church service.
Breakfast: 1 quart of Maize meal, sugar and milk. Dinner – Beef soup, meat with rice or meal, vegetables, and for supper, Bread and Tea. (75)

At seven years old, Fanny had been kidnapped by strangers and taken away from her family. She spent nine months sailing between islands of the south coast with a strange and desperate community of Aboriginal women, hunting dogs and men from all over the world. They would have smelt of seal oil and fish. She may have been used by the men for sex. The women would have taken Fanny hunting for seal with them, lurching into rocky shores lined with toothy barnacles, the thump of club on the seals’ skulls, eyes without skin around them. They sailed hundreds of nautical miles, island hopping from the Archipelago, to Doubtful Islands, to King George Sound in a twenty foot whaleboat. On the journey, Fanny would have slept on piles of skins and canvas in the boat, or camped on the north facing side of the islands. She would have seen the Astrolabe get blown past Breaksea Island and return in the morning, the rigging crawling with men in hats and white shirts. The captain, a florid, robust white man would have looked at her intently when she pulled alongside the ship with the sealers. He spoke to the Maori and nodded her way. Later Fanny must have seen the Menang women brought out to Breaksea Island, bruised, bleeding and tearful, their hands tied behind their backs.

When Samuel Bailey took Fanny to Eclipse Island, the weather was foul with wild spring gales and huge seas. (76) The Menang woman wouldn’t swim and did not know how to handle a boat. Once again, the two girls were trapped on an island by a man. Sometimes they would have seen the hunting fires from Mokare’s family domain at Torndirrup on the mainland. (77) They would have eaten the greasy muttonbirds and fish and wild celery and any of the yams and tubers that they recognised, and slept, curled together for warmth. Bailey had plenty of brandy that he had gained trading the women’s hunting efforts with the Frenchmen. When he was drinking, Fanny and the Menang woman must have roamed the island, keeping out of his way. Then the Menang woman’s arm was broken.

After being rescued by Lockyer’s lieutenant, Fanny’s fate was again directed the decisions and actions of strangers. Although I have not found records relating to Fanny Bailey after she was enrolled at the Native School, it is likely that if she survived the Native Institution, this control over her agency as an individual would have continued for the rest of her life.

A teacher from the school, Elizabeth Shelley giving evidence before the Committee on the Aborigines Question in 1838 said that she found many ex pupils had “relapsed into all the bad habits of the untaught natives. A few of the boys went to sea.” As for the girls, most of them “turned out very bad” with the exception of one who had married a white man. Frequently the ex-teacher had conversed with the girls on religious subjects but they only laughed and said they had “forgotten all about it”. (78)

57 Plomley, Ed. 2006, p. 335.
58 Travers, C., pers. comm. 11/06/2014.
59 For the purposes of identification I use the name ‘Fanny’ for the girl, as Lockyer named her in Lockyer, H.R.A. III, Vol. 1, p. 472.
60 Rosenman, H., Trans. Ed. 1987, p. 32.
61 Lockyer, H.R.A. III, Vol. 1, p. 473.
62 Rosenman, H., Trans. Ed. 1987, p.76
63 “1816 – 1818: Kidnapping of Aboriginal children becomes widespread. Government notices continue to outlaw the practice, to no avail.” Ryan, L., ‘List of multiple killings of Aborigines in Tasmania: 1804 – 1835’, Online Encyclopaedia of Mass Violence, http://www.massviolence.org/List -of-multiple-killings-of-Aborigines-in-Tasmania-1804 (accessed 10/10/2011).
64 Clements, N., The Black War: fear, sex and resistance in Tasmania, University of Queensland Press, Queensland, 2014, p. 194.
65 Lockyer, H.R.A. III, Vol. 1, p. 470.

66 Lockyer, H.R.A. III, Vol. 1, p. 470.
67 “Amongst the Major's other children was daughter Fanny Oceana Lockyer, born at sea in the Bay of Bengal on October 17th, 1817. She was nine at the time of the command.”Lynch, C., A View from Mt Clarence, http://theviewfrommountclarence.blogspot.com.au/2014/04/the-majors-butterflies-finally-beat-him.html, (accessed 15/06/2014).
68 West, D.A.P., The Settlement on the Sound, West Australian Museum, 2004 (1976), p..58.
69 Sweetman, J., The Military Establishment and Penal Settlement at King George Sound, Hesperian Press, Victoria Park, 1989, p.1.
70 Lockyer, H.R.A. III, Vol. 1, p. 472.
71 Hansen, K., 2007, pp. 23-24.
72 “The process of removal of children from their parents, in order to fill the Native Institution, was a major contributing factor to the lack of support for the Institution by the local Aborigines.” Brook, J., and Kohen. J. L., The Parramatta Native Institution and the Black Town. A History. New South Wales University Press, New South Wales, 1991, p. 263.

73 William Hall in Marsden’s words was “one of the wore out missionaries from New Zealand.” Hall’s appointment to the school was apparently Marsden’s strategy to rest Hall from New Zealand but avoid paying Hall his retirement fund from the Christian Missionary Society. Brook. J., and Kohen, J.L., 1991, p.179.
74 Brook. J., and Kohen, J.L., 1991, p. 212.
75 Brook. J., and Kohen, J.L., 1991, p. 206.
76 As communicated by sealers to Lockyer. H.R.A. III, Vol. 1, p. 484.