Application for marriage to Manilaman (Filipino) in Broome

State Records Archive
Consignment: 652
Item: 1909/0010
Title: W.A. Beaumont. Marriages – Application on behalf of Margarito Maghanoy (Manilaman) to marry a half-caste girl ‘Marcilla’

Keywords:
Marcilla Marsellino, Margarito Maghanoy, marriage, Beagle Bay Mission, Jose Marsellino, George Moss, Josephine Marshall, Drysdale River Mission, Nicholas Emo, Walter Beaumont, George Moss, Josef Bischofs, Broome

Key Phrases:

[Patriarchal attitudes to marriage]
I need only say that it must be evident to you that the girl’s lot as Margharito’s wife is much more desirable than that which would otherwise be her fate, the woman of some aboriginal man and we all know what that would result in. [George Moss, pearling master in Broome]
I would like to see her well settled before her departure from my care. She being free, it will be for her a great danger to become a prostitute. [Father Nicholas D’Emo, missionary]
These mixed marriages with Manilamen or Asiatics made principally by the Fathers at Beagle Bay, were found to be a mistake[I] strongly recommends that they should not be allowed. [Edmund Pechell, secretary, Aborigines Dept]

[Letter]
Broome
19th Dec 1908
To Chief Protector of Aborigines, Perth
Dear Sir,
I have to ask you to be kind enough to give the following matter your favorable consideration.
There is at Beagle Bay Mission, a half caste female, the offspring of a Manillaman and Aboriginal woman who were married at the mission previous to the birth of the said half caste. Now this half caste is now a girl of fifteen years of age and there is a man named Margharito, a Manillaman, who is at present sailing master of the mission schooner (such comes to Broome at times for supplies) and who wants to marry the said half caste girl; the girl herself wants to marry Margharito and the girl’s parents are willing to the marriage. The father of the girl is a man named Jose Marsellino and is a sailmaker who works for and is employed by the pearling fleet. The mission authorities know all the parties in question and they approve of the marriage taking place.
If this is a case where special permission is required from you to allow of the marriage taking place, I have to ask you to be good enough to grant the necessary permit. The Manillaman Margharito is well known to me for many years and he has always been a very quiet decent and respectable man.
I need only say that it must be evident to you that the girl’s lot as Margharito’s wife is much more desirable than that which would otherwise be her fate, the woman of some aboriginal man and we all know what that would result in.
Yours Faithfully
Gerry? Moss

[Memo]
Mr Pechell
Ask for report from Police, also Beagle Bay Mission
C F G
[Charles Gale]
11/1/09

[Letter]
To Officer in Charge, Police Dept, Broome
14/1/1909
A man named G Moss of Broome writes to me re a Manillaman Margharito who wishes to marry a half caste girl at Broome. I would feel obliged by your sending me a report re the matter and whether this marriage is advisable.

[Letter]
To Manager, Native Mission, Beagle Bay
14/1/1909
A man named G Moss has written to me re a Manillaman named Margharito who wishes to marry a half caste girl, the offspring of parents married at your mission – the father of the girl is named Jose Massellina. Please report.

[Letter]
From Drysdale River Mission
8th Dec 1908
To Chief Protector of Aborigines, Perth
Dear Sir,
I beg to inform you that I have at present under my care a half caste girl of about 19 years of age, named Josephine Marshall, which, when she was four years old, I found her abandoned in the bush, and I put her in my school at Broome and later on I sent her to the convent at Roebourne (now translated) where she was there for some years, she being taught in reading, writing and cooking etc by the good Sisters.
Leaving the Convent a few months ago, she is interested now to get married, and I think is the best thing for her, as I cannot keep her any more and would like to see her well settled before her departure from my care. She being free, it will be for her a great danger to become a prostitute. She would be better to be married with a Manila man. I proposed to her three to choose, which I can recommend them as a good, steady and sensible men who have been not imported, but they are residents in this country per many years. I most respectfully beg to ask your permission according to the Aborigines Act 1905 for this intended marriage, which I will carry out in every point according same. Considering the great difficulty in having here regular mail, and not knowing yet which of the three proposed me she will like, I beg of your kindness to have permission to marry her with any of them which she may choose, giving you in the earliest opportunity all the information with reference to same.
Thanking you in anticipation for this favour
I remain, dear Sir, your obedient servant,
Father Nicholas Maria D’Emo (Missionary)
PS Kindly address the answer and everything in the future to the Post Office of Derby. The Port Master have being instructed to send me here all my correspondence by the Purser of the Steamer
[Note at base of this letter]
These mixed marriages with Manilamen or Asiatics made principally by the Fathers at Beagle Bay, were found to be a mistake – Mr Pechell also strongly recommends that they should not be allowed.
E D P
[Edmund Pechell]

[Memo]
Mr Pechell
? more information re this application, where is this woman now living, if at Drysdale Mission, who gave the necessary authority to be taken away from her own country.
C F G
11/1/1909

[Letter]
14th Jan 1909
Father Nicholas Emo
Sir,
I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 8th December, re the half caste girl Josephine, and would feel obliged by your informing me whether she is now living at the Drysdale Mission; if not, where is she, also please ascertain who gave the necessary authority for her being removed from her own country.
I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant,
E D P

[Letter]
26th Jan 1909
Broome Presbytery
To Aborigines Dept, Perth
Sir,
Moss & Co Broome have written to your Department, re Margarito, a Manilaman who wishes to marry a halfcast girl at the Mission. The girl in question was born before Jose Marsalino married a native woman of Beagle Bay, named Domitilla. Jose Marsalino is not supposed to be the father of the girl.
I have know the Manilaman Margarito for four years, he is not a bad chap, as good as any other Manilaman and about 38 years of age.
The girl is about 16 and one of our best girls at the Mission. Jose Marsalino would like to see the two people in question married, he thinks to make a little bargain out of it. I could not give him a good character. He drinks too much.
I could not report anything else of importance.
So far, there would be nothing against this marriage, if the Department intends to give permission for same. As far as my own opinion is concerned, I am against all marriages between halfcasts and manilamen; for this I have given more than once my reasons to the Department. But if you think to grant permission pro casu, I am ready to marry the two people in question as soon as the papers from the South are presented to me. I would not take any responsibility before the Department. The Manilamen are of my own religion and if there would be a fair possibility I would like to see them provided for. For this reason it would not be fair for the Department to write back: we would like to see you married, but Father Bishofs is against it.
If you like to grant permission, please do so, but make ready to receive another half a dozen demands very soon.
I hope you do not misunderstand me. I have no intention to press the Department over to my opinions, not in the least. If you grant permission in present case I shall feel pleased for the Manilaman. If you should refuse permission, I would certainly be pleased for the girl, because the girls are simply pressed into these marriages with coloured people and they must say yes, although like in present case, the girl herself would prefer to marry a good halfcast boy.
Surely I understand well, that this marriage question is not a simple one; my experience for the past four years compels me to say, that it is better not to marry Manilamen with our Natives. But errars humanum est and at the end I might be wrong, therefore use your own judgement in present decision.
[hand written note at the bottom of this letter]
(Rest of letter refers to the Mission in another file.)

[Letter]
Officer in Charge
Police Dept
Broome
14th Jan 1909
A man named G Moss of Broome writes to me re a Manillaman (Margharito) who wishes to marry a halfcaste girl at Broome. I would feel obliged by your sending me a report re the matter on whether this marriage is advisable.
C F Gale
Chief Protector of Aborigines

[Letter]
Police Station, Broome
9th Feby 1909
To Chief Protector of Aborigines
Sir,
I reply to yours of the 14th ult, I beg to report this marriage would be very inadvisable. Margharito is a man of nearly 50 years of age and the halfcaste girl is not 16 years. From my two years experience of the marriage of halfcastes or Aborigines to Manilamen, I would not recommend a single marriage, they all turn out bad, it simply means selling these native girls. In this case, Margharito is to give £50 to the father of the girl and I am informed that the girl don’t want to marry him.
I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
Stewart?
Corpl of Police

[Letter]
Mar 16th, 1909
Relative to your application for my permission for a Manillaman by the name of Margharito to marry a halfcaste who has been brought up by the Beagle Bay Mission, I beg to inform you that after making due inquiries from those who are competent to speak on the subject, and from my own knowledge of the inadvisability of their mixed marriage, I cannot see my way clear to grant the necessary permission to enable this man to marry the half caste girl in question.
I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant,
Chief Protector of Aborigines

Broome
31st May 1909
To C F Gale Esq
Protector of Aborigines
Dear Sir,
Herewith I beg to make application on behalf of Margarito Maghanoy, a Manilaman residing at Beagle Bay, for permission to marry a half caste girl named Marcello, now under the care of the Beagle Bay Mission. This man has been in the country about 23 years and is now about 38 years of age. He has applied to Father Bischoff, the priest in charge of the mission, to marry him but was refused. This Father Bischoff I believe is rather averse to these marriages, and he referred him to your department and stated that if there was no objection from you he would marry him. Father Bischoff gives this man an excellent character. He is a teetotaller and is in charge of the Beagle Bay Mission vessel which makes periodical visits to Broome. He has some money and carries on the business of gardener and rears poultry, pigs, goats, etc. when he is not running the vessel. The girl whom he desires to marry is about 17 years of age, her father and mother residing in Broome. Her father is a Portuguese and her mother an aboriginal woman and are legally married. They are both members of the Roman Catholic Church. Trusting that you will grant me the favor of an early reply, whether favorable or otherwise, as the matter has been in abeyance for some time.
I remain, yours faithfully,
W A Beaumont

[Letter]
Mr W A Beaumont, Broome
June 15, 1909
Sir,
I have the honor to acknowledge yours of the 31st ultimo, making application fon behalf of Margarito Maghanoy, a Manilaman residing at Beagle Bay, for permission to marry a half caste girl named Marcille. In reply thereto I regret to have to inform you that I cannot give my consent.
I have the honor to be, Sir, your obedient servant
Chief Protector of Aborigines

[Telegram]
From Broome, to Chief Protector of Aborigines, Perth
22 June 1909
Am Broome for few days. Kindly answer re Josephine marriage.
Father Nicholas

[Telegram]
June 24, 1909
To Father Nicholas, Broome
Do not approve of these mixed marriages. Cannot give my permission. Marry her good half caste boy.
Chief Protector of Aborigines

Katitjin Notes:

Question: Who are you to believe? It needs to be noted, however, that all of those competing voices are male figures of authority, representing the overwhelming patriarchal White hegemony: the master pearler, the priest, the missionary, the Chief Protector. Where are the voices of the young women themselves? What was their opinion, their agency, their choices?

Question: Why were all Filipinos, or all Asians for that matter, treated without any differentiation?

There are many descendants of Filipino-Aboriginal marriages who are well-known and important members of Aboriginal communities, especially in Broome, who are very proud of their joint Filipino and Aboriginal cultural heritage. For example, the country/folk/rock band Pigram Brothers, comprising of the seven Pigram brothers, descended from Thomas Puertollano; and a well-known director of the Broome Aboriginal Media Association, Kevin Puertollano. For more information on marriages between Aboriginal women and Asian men, see Regina Ganter’s book Mixed relations: Asian-Aboriginal contact in north Australia, published by UWA Press.

Extract fm The Passing of the Aborigines (1938) by Daisy Bates
The association of the Australian native with the Asiatic is definitely evil. There were four Manilamen at Beagle Bay married to native women. By tribal custom the women had all been betrothed in infancy to their rightful tribal husbands. They were therefore merely on hire by their own men to the Asiatics, and, in spite of the church marriage, remained, not only their husband’s property, but that of all his brothers, and all of the Manila husband’s brothers who paid for the accommodation. It was hard to convince the Bishop and the little abbot of this fact and of the terrible cruelty to the women and girls of such a system, and I had to show the two priests a poignant example. I had visited the Manila quarters in Broome, and in one house found a poor aboriginal woman, the “wife” of a Manilaman, with five of his “brothers” waiting to have and pay for intercourse with her. The poor soul told me that this happened daily. A few days afterwards I took the two priests to this hovel, choosing the Manila rest hour of the day for our inspection. I knew the terrible shock this would be to the little abbot and the Bishop to realize what Manila-Aboriginal marriage meant for the native woman: but with these facts the Bishop gave his direct veto on the dreadful system and in future such marriages were prohibited.

George Moss was an influential, master pearler who employed many Asians – principally Japanese, Manillamen (Philippino), Koepangers (Timorese) and Malays – on his pearling fleet in Broome.

William Alexander Beaumont was a master pearler in Broome.

Father Josef Bischofs (1878-1958) was a German missionary, who arrived in WA in 1905 as part of the Pallotine Mission, who built up the Beagle Bay Mission after the Cistercians left in 1899, and stayed until 1920. He translated the bible into Nyul-nyul and wrote extensively on Aboriginal customs. He was very outspoken in his objection to marriages between Aboriginal women and Asian men.

Father Nicholas D’Emo was a Spanish missionary of the Cistercian Order, who was the first priest at Broome and helped to establish the Beagle Bay Missionary. He arrived in 1895 and remained after the Cisterian Mission left in 1899. He was President of the Broome Filipino Association and employed an Aboriginal woman, who was married a Filipino man, as teacher in the school he established in Broome. After leaving the Cistercian Order, he ran a schooner with other Filipinos and then went on to establish the Lombadina Mission, where he died in 1915.

Fr Nicholas D'Emo with teacher and students at Broome School

Fr Nicholas D’Emo with teacher and students at Broome School

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