|Other names||Pimbloy, Pemulvoy, Pemulwoy|
|Known for||Resistance to British occupation of Sydney area|
Pemulwuy (aka Pimbloy, Pemulvoy, Pemulwoy, Pemulwye,) (c1750 - 1802) was an Aboriginal Australian man born around 1750 in the area of Botany Bay in New South Wales. He is noted for his resistance to the European settlement of Australia which began with the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788.1 He is believed to have been a member of the Bidjigal (Bediagal) clan of the Eora people.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Pemulwuy's War
- 3 Death
- 4 Skull controversy
- 5 Legacy
- 6 References
- 7 Sources
- 8 Further reading
Pemulwuy was born with a turned eye. According to historian Eric Willmot:
Normally, a child that showed an obvious deformity would've been, well, people would have expected that child to be sent back, to be reborn again. It was generally thought that humans, like everything, came from the land. And that a woman, the actual act of conception, was a woman being infected by a child's spirit from the land. And that child grows within her. And so he was different and he became more different. He became better than everybody else. Whatever anyone else could do, Pemulwuy did it better. He could run further, he was one of the best, he could use a spear like no-one else could. And so, around him, was created an aura of difference. So much so that he was said to be a clever man. In an Aboriginal society, clever man is often a man who deals with the spiritual nature of things and sorcery even.4
When Pemulwuy grew into manhood he became Bembul Wuyan, which represents "the earth and the crow". According to historian Richard Green "he wasn't very impressed with the mix of cultures. He preferred that we stayed within our own peoples."4 Another name for him was "Butu Wargun" which means "crow".4
Pemulwuy became a kadaicha man of his tribe. He grew up with Bennelong, and for the first two years of European settlement in Australian co-existed like Bennelong alongside the newcomers without too much trouble. Pemulwuy would hunt meat and provide it to the food-challenged new colony in exchange for goods.4
However in 1790 Pemulwuy began a twelve year guerilla war against the British which only ended on his death.
|Commanders and leaders|
On 9 December 1790, a shooting party left for Botany Bay, including a sergeant of marines and three convicts, including Governor Phillip's gamekeeper John McIntyre. According to Watkin Tench:
About one o’clock, the sergeant was awakened by a rustling noise in the bushes near him, and supposing it to proceed from a kangaroo, called to his comrades, who instantly jumped up. On looking about more narrowly, they saw two natives with spears in their hands, creeping towards them, and three others a little farther behind. As this naturally created alarm, McEntire said, “don’t be afraid, I know them,” and immediately laying down his gun, stepped forward, and spoke to them in their own language. The Indians, finding they were discovered, kept slowly retreating, and McEntire accompanied them about a hundred yards, talking familiarly all the while. One of them now jumped on a fallen tree and, without giving the least warning of his intention, launched his spear at McEntire and lodged it in his left side. The person who committed this wanton act was described as a young man with a speck or blemish on his left eye. That he had been lately among us was evident from his being newly shaved.5
The group was pursued by the settlers with muskets, but they escaped.
McIntyre was taken back to the settlement, gravely wounded. Tench suspected that McIntyre had previously killed Aboriginal people, and noted the fear and hatred that the Aboriginal people, including Bennelong (an Aboriginal man who Governor Phillip had captured, in hopes of interaction with the Aboriginals) showed towards him.6
"The poor wretch now began to utter the most dreadful exclamations, and to accuse himself of the commission of crimes of the deepest dye, accompanied with such expressions of his despair of God’s mercy, as are too terrible to repeat," wrote Tench of McIntyre.5 The gameskeeper died on 12 December. Before then, Colbee and several other aboriginals, came in to see the body. "Their behaviour indicated that they had already heard of the accident, as they repeated twice or thrice the name of the murderer Pimelwi, saying that he lived at Botany Bay," wrote Tench".5
Several historians believe it is likely Pemulwuy killed McInyre out of payback.4
Governor Phillip ordered two military expeditions against the Bidjigal led by Tench in retaliation for the attack on McIntyre. He regarded the Bidjigal as the most aggressive towards the British settlers and intended to make an example of them. He ordered that six of their people be captured or if they could not be captured that they be put to death. It was Phillip's intention to execute two of the captured people and to send the remainder to Norfolk Island.
He also ordered that he "strictly forbids, under penalty of the severest punishment, any soldier or other person, not expressly ordered out for that purpose, ever to fire on any native except in his own defence; or to molest him in any shape, or to bring away any spears, or other articles which they may find belonging to those people."
The Aboriginal people present in Sydney refused to assist in tracking, with Colbee feigning injury.
The first expedition failed, with the heavy loads carried by the British military making them no match for the speed of the Aboriginal people. According to Richard Green, "with simple spears, rocks, boomerangs, stones, he [Pemulwuy] defeated the British army that they sent here. Every single soldier except for Watkin Tench, that they sent in pursuit of Pemulwuy either walked back into the community with their saddle over their shoulders or they didn't make it back."4
During the second they took women prisoners and shot at two men. One of whom, Bangai, was wounded and later found dead.6
Pemulwuy persuaded the Eora, Dharug and Tharawal people to join his campaign against the newcomers. From 1792 Pemulwuy led raids on settlers from Parramatta, Georges River, Prospect, Toongabbie, Brickfield and Hawkesbury River.citation needed His most common tactic was to burn crops and kill livestock.4
Captain Paterson sent a search party to find him but was unsuccessful.
In May 1795, Pemulwuy or one of his followers speared a convict near present-day Chippendale.7
In December 1795, Pemulwuy and his warriors attacked a work party at Botany Bay which included Black Caesar. Caesar managed to crack Pemulwuy's skull and many thought he had killed him, but the warrior survived and escaped.8
|Battle of Parramatta|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
|50 killed (est.)|
In March 1797, Pemulwuy led a group of aboriginal warriors, estimated to be at least 100, in an attack on a government farm at Toongabbie.
At dawn the next day government troops and settlers followed them to Parramatta. Pemulwuy was shot seven times and taken to hospital. Five others were killed instantly.10 This incident has more recently become known as the Battle of Parramatta.111213
Pemulwuy recommenced his fighting against the British by November 1797. However his s injuries had affected his ability as a fighter and his resistance was on a smaller and more sporadic for the rest of his life.9
Convicts William Knight and Thomas Thrush escaped and joined the aboriginal resistance.7
Governor Philip Gidley King issued an order on 22 November 1801 for bringing Pemulwuy in dead or alive, with an associated reward. The order attributed the killing of two men, the dangerous wounding of several, and a number of robberies to Pemulwuy.15
On 2 June 1802 Pemulwuy was shot and killed by British sailor Henry Hacking. Hacking was the first mate of the English sloop Lady Nelson. He had been quartmaster of HMS Sirius, the First Fleet's flagship, and had Port Hacking named after him.7
"After being wounded, all the people believed that he was immune to British bullets," says Richard Green. "So he'd stand out in front and, you know, stand right out in front of them and take them on, you know? So after 12 years, his time ran out. He got his shot and he took it."9
Following the death of Pemulwuy Governor King wrote to Lord Hobart that on the death of Pemulwuy he was given his head by the Aboriginal people as Pemulwuy "had been the cause of all that had happened". The Governor issued orders with immediate effect to not "molest or ill-treat any native", and to re-admit them to the areas of Parramatta and Prospect from which they had been forcibly excluded.16
Pemulwuy's head was preserved in spirits. It was sent to England to Sir Joseph Banks accompanied by a letter from Governor King, who wrote: "Although a terrible pest to the colony, he was a brave and independent character."17
Pemulway's son Tedbury continued the struggle for a number of years before being killed in 1810.
Repatriation of the skull of Pemulwuy has been requested by Sydney Aboriginal people. It has not yet been located in order to be repatriated.
Australian composer Paul Jarman composed a choral work entitled Pemulwuy. It has become an Australian choral standard, and was performed by the Biralee Blokes in their victory in the ABC Choir of the Year 2006.
In 1987 Weldons published "Pemulwuy: The Rainbow Warrior" by Eric Willmot, a best-selling novel providing a fictionalised account using early colonial documents as source. Matilda Media re-released the book in 1994 22
- Wendy Lewis, Simon Balderstone and John Bowan (2006). Events That Shaped Australia. New Holland. ISBN 978-1-74110-492-9.
- Keith Vincent Smith (2010). "Pemulwuy". Dictionary of Sydney. Dictionary of Sydney Trust. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
- "Pemulwuy". Biography of Pemulwuy. Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
- "Summer Series - Pemulwuy: A War of Two Laws Pt ", Message Stick, Sunday 5 December 2010 accessed 3 March 2014
- Watkin Tench, The Settlement at Port Jackson, Chapter Eight accessed 3 March 2014
- Tench, Watkin, "Chapter viii", A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson
- Keith Vincent Smith, "Australia's oldest murder mystery", Sydney Morning Herald 1 November 2003 accessed 26 February 2014
- Shane Moloney, "Pemulwuy & Black Caesar", The Monthly March, 2013 accessed 26 February 2014
- "Pemulwuy: A War of Two Laws Part 2", Message Stick Sunday 16 May 2010, 1:30pm ABC1 accessed 3 March 2014
- Collins, David. An account of the English colony in New South Wales 2. p. 27.
- Dale, David (16 February 2008). "WHO WE ARE: The man who nearly changed everything". "The Sun Herald".
- J Henniker Heaton, Australian Dictionary of Dates and Men of the Time, Sydney, 1873
- Al Grassby and Marji Hill, Six Australian Battlefields, North Ryde: Angus &Robertson, 1988:99.
- "Pemulwuy". Dictionary of Sydney. www.dictionaryofsydney.org. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
- F. M. Bladen (ed.), "Government and General Order. 22 November 1801.", Historical Records of New South Wales, IV — HUNTER AND KING, p. 629
- F. M. Bladen (ed.), "Governor King to Lord Hobart. 30 October 1802", Historical Records of New South Wales, IV — HUNTER AND KING, p. 868
- F. M. Bladen (ed.), "Governor King to Sir Joseph Banks. 5 June 1802.", Historical Records of New South Wales, IV — HUNTER AND KING, p. 783
- "Prince William takes up search for lost Aboriginal skull". The Times]. 2010-02-04.
- "Pemulwuy". Geographical Names Register (GNR) of NSW. Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
- "Pemulwuy Park, Redfern". City of Sydney. Retrieved 26 October 2010.
- Youtube Redgum - Water and Stone
- "Pemulwuy: The Rainbow Warrior". Google Books. Google. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- "Redevelopment News". Aboriginal Housing Company. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
- Pemulwuy, Cambridge University Press (3 May 2000) ISBN 978-0-521-77625-7
Willmot, E., 1987, Pemulwuy – The Rainbow Warrior, Weldons. A fictionalised recount using early colonial documents as source.
Dark, Eleanor, 1947, The Timeless Land, also uses early colonial documents as source, including a recount of unsuccessful search for Pemulwuy by Arthur Phillip's officers.