A O Neville’s Evidence Part 17

State Records Office of Western Australia
Acc 2922/1-2
Title: Transcript of evidence 1934
Item 1 & Item 2

Aborigines Royal Commission  005-3

Tuesday, 13th March, 1934

H. D. Moseley, Esq., Commissioner.

AUBUR [sic] OCTAVIUS NEVILLE, Chief Protector of Aborigines, further examined:

[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] [Part 5] [Part 6] [Part 7] [Part 8] [Part 9] [Part 10] [Part 11] [Part 12] [Part 13] [Part 14] [Part 15] [Part 16] Continued…

67. Yesterday I explained the position in regard to accidents, and said that it was proposed to insert in the new Bill a clause to be numbered 33a, as follows:—
“If an aboriginal or half-caste in the service of an employer sustains personal injury arising out of or in the course of his employment, not attributable to his serious or wilful misconduct, and such employment was not of a casual nature, then any expense incurred or defrayed by the department for medical or surgical attendance or for hospital charges in connection with the treatment and maintenance of, or in the case of death the cost of interment of, such aboriginal or half-caste shall be payable by the employer to the Chief Protector and shall be recoverable by action at the suit of the Chief Protector.”
That provision would take the place of any reference to the aboriginal under any other Act of that nature.

68. You are really importing some of the ideas of the Workers’ Compensation Act? — Yes, but there is no compensation.

69. I think it is wise to limit the amount recoverable? — We have tried many times to induce employers to pay ordinary expenses in cases that we say are perfectly clear, and the employers have sometimes refused, simply because there is no power to compel them to pay.

70. Have you ever tried to bring in, as against the employer, the provisions of the Workers’ Compensation Act as they stand? — Only once, and we succeeded.

71. Was it a case of death? It was a case of a lost eye.

72. You have never taken action in the case of death on behalf of dependants? — No, but very often the dependants are handed over to our care.

73. I suppose in many cases the dependants continue to carry on where they have been up to the time of the death? — Yes. The stations continue to look after them, but on the other hand we have to look after them sometimes. Section 34 of the principal Act is also a very important provision, we propose to amend it so as to make it possible for us to take action which is very necessary. The section deals with the liability of a father in the case of an illegitimate native child. In the last paragraph…

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you will see these words —
“Provided that no man shall he taken to be the father of any such child upon the oath of the mother only.”

74. That is the proviso to paragraph 2? — Yes. Again and again we can get a certain amount of corroborative evidence, and the girl swears that such and such a person is the father of her child; but unless we can get an admission from the person himself, nine times out of ten it is quite hopeless to proceed under that section, and we are sometimes compelled to have recourse to the Child Welfare, which in some respects is not suitable. We propose to delete the proviso in question and insert the following:—
“Provided that no man shall he taken to be the father of any such child upon the evidence of the mother unless her evidence is corroborated in some material particular.”
I think you will find that is the provision in similar Acts here and elsewhere. That will give us a better chance, because there are so many illegitimate children by European fathers that it is necessary to sheet home the responsibility to somebody. The State is maintaining numbers of children that it has no right whatever to be maintaining at the present time. In many cases we know who the fathers are, but we can take no action. Incidentally, some of the fathers are married men, and some of the girls or women have more than one child by the same man. The father simply ignores any action which the department might wish to take, because he knows that it is impossible for us to take any action under that section. We do succeed sometimes by, perhaps, more or less bluffing men into admissions; and of course the married man is in an awkward position and does not want his wife to hear about these things, and so he admits paternity and pays up. It is the single young waster, without any responsibility at all, who simply seduces these girls at his pleasure. I shall have to refer to that matter again under Section 43.

75. Section 36 of the principal Act deals with persons entering places where natives and half-castes are camped. A small amendment is suggested, to substitute the word “aborigine” for the word “aborigine” in the fifth line; but that is only to bring…

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about consistency. The important amendment is to add after the word “camp” in the fifth line the words “living, resorting or staying”. It sometimes happens that a man will take a half-caste girl to a boarding house or hotel.

76. The word “camp” suggests camps only, and not other places? — Yes. “Camp” is not wide enough.

77. There will be a further consequential amendment in the second paragraph of that section. After the word “camp” in the third line of the paragraph to insert the words “or place”? — Yes. As regards Section 37, the word “aboriginal” should be substituted for “aborigine”. In Section 38 I propose the insertion of the words “or half-caste” after the word “aboriginal” whenever the same appears. That also is consequential. In Section 39 I propose another consequential amendment, “aboriginal” to take the place of “aborigine” whenever the latter word occurs. It is proposed to amend Section 40 by inserting the words “or female half-caste” after the word “aboriginal” in the first line. When this Act was framed it was thought only necessary to provide that an aboriginal woman should not be legally married to any other person without the consent of the Chief Protector. Again the framers of the Act forgot the half-caste altogether. Again and again we find unsuitable marriages proposed. We have had marriages with Asiatics suggested. We have had marriages between half-caste girls and unsuitable and low-classed unemployed whites. In fact, we have had all sorts of complications, some of which have been brought about by missionaries. For the last 25 years or so the missionaries have been seeking to marry their inmates to someone or other, and those marriages have not always been suitable or successful or desirable. It is contended that the Chief Protector should have power to prohiblt unsuitable marriages, particularly nowadays when such marriages are very much on the increase. In point of fact, I have induced a good many persons who are licensed to celebrate marriages to communicate with me before such proposed marriages take place. In some cases I have been able to prevent…

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alliances, while in others I have readily agreed, I consider it is absolutely necessary that the Chief Protector should have this power to prevent alliances which might lead to tragedy. As I said yesterday, the missionary does not always take cognisance of tribal laws, and breaches of these laws, or what seem breaches, to them do not appear to be breaches of any law. It is consequently necessary for someone with knowledge of the culture of the aborigines to safeguard these people in this way. It is a vital provision, and this matter has given us a vast deal sf trouble.

78. I do not know that you have yet mentioned the proposed amendment. I take it the amendment is to insert “female half-caste” after the word “aboriginal” in the first-line? — Yes, and presumably “any other person who may be covered by the Act in future”. In Section 42 I propose the insertion after the word “aboriginal” of the words” or half-caste”, and the omission of the words “other than an aboriginal” in the second line. I seek to control marriages between the natives themselves for the same reason, that the natives have broken down their own culture.

79. Any marriage of any native? — Yes, to anyone else. The natives are intermarrying at the present time in a way which is utterly undesirable. That is largely due, as I said previously, to missionary effort which tries to get people married under certain circumstances.

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I must go back to Section 40. I wish to insert the words “or female half-castes” after the word “aboriginal” in the first line. To be consistent this is necessary. The same thing
applies to section 41. It does not often occur, but it has occurred in recent years, that female half-castes are increasing in numbers accompany aborigines to the creeks in the pearling districts to meet Asiatics. Now we come to the bone of contention, Section 43. As you will see in the first line of that section there is no mention of half-castes at all; the whole section omits half-castes.

80. On the assumption, I suppose, by the draftsman that “half-castes” come within the definition of aborigines? — The section also contains the word “cohabit” in the third and eighth lines. In 1924 I found in the North-West a white man having intercourse with more than one female aboriginal on the station he was managing. On referring the matter to the Solicitor General, Mr. Sayer, he ruled that that man was not c0-habiting, he was merely having intercourse. Mr. Sayer referred me to Webster’s dictionary, which stated that “cohabit” meant “to live together as man and wife”. The effect of that ruling has been almost entirely to prevent me from taking action in numerous cases ever since. We know that men do have intercourse with native women. We are told again and again that such-and-such a man is doing so. we find that from evidence we may possess that that is so in certain cases and yet we can take no action under the section in question because the man is not living with the woman. She may visit him occasionally, or he may visit her, but according to Mr. Sayer’s ruling he is not cohabiting. Since that ruling was given we have had 26 cases of the kind in which we have taken action, but we have been able to get conviction in only five. People often wonder why the dept does not take action in certain cases. it is no use trying to explain to the public that we have no legal power to take action, but the fact remains that we have not that power to take action in certain cases. In the Far…

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North it is said to be more or less customary for men to live with the native women. It certainly is so in certain places but, as I have said, the dept cannot step in and take action beyond removing the woman, or perhaps prohibiting the man from employing natives. Such action is sometimes taken for the sake of the community generally, but I sometimes find that when I take away a man’s permit because, on very good grounds, I suspect him of doing wrong, there is a hullabulloo and his permit is soon restored to him. I shall hand in the file containing that ruling because I consider it of importance. The number of the file is
195/24. (Exhibit 21).

81. Has the draftsman put up a proposed amendment ? — Before I give you the amendment I wish to point out that “half-castes” are omitted from that section. That might have been all right when the Act was framed, but it is not all right today, as you know, there are hundreds of half-caste females now and a great many of them are not living with aborigines, while others are sent out by the dept to work. It is no offence for anyone to cohabit or have intercourse with these half-castes. The half-caste girl — very often a young girl — is utterly unsophisticated. She does not know right from wrong, very often; neither does she know the consequences of her action and she becomes a ready victim to the low-class — and not always the low-class — white man. We know that these men are constantly chasing the half-castes and yet we cannot protect the girls. A man will mark down one of these girls as his prey and hang on to her until he achieves his purpose. Yet we cannot interfere. We must allow these girls a certain amount of liberty, and these things take place in all sorts of ways. The offspring of the Europeans and half-caste girls or women are increasing in numbers and the State has to support them because there are no means by which we can make the father pay maintenance. Very often the girls themselves do not know who the fathers are. Perhaps a man is introduced or meets a girl in the evening and the…

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girl goes off with him then and there. A few examples in the court would soon put a stop to that sort of thing, but we have not any power to take action. Therefore, it is proposed to amend Section 43 in the following way:-
By deleting Subsection (1) and inserting in lieu thereof a new subsection as follows:-
“Any person except an aboriginal or half-caste who habitually lives with an aborigines or half-castes or with any aboriginal or half-caste not his wife or husband or who cohabits with or has sexual intercourse with any aboriginal or half-caste who is not his wife or her husband shall be guilty of an offence again at this Act.”
You will find a similar provision in the Northern Territory Ordinance, although in the older States of Australia this state of affairs has been more or less ignored with disastrous results.
“Every male person who is an aboriginal or half-caste and who without permission in writing from a Protector lives or resides with or travels accompanied by a female aboriginal or half-caste, or vice versa, shall be presumed in the absence of proof to the contrary to be cohabiting with her or him and it shall be presumed in the absence of proof to the contrary that she is not his wife or that he is not her husband.”
I am having a comprehensive statement of cases prepared for you extending over a number of years, showing incidents that have taken place and the action of the dept and the impossibility of doing anything to remedy matters. I take it that that statement will be regarded as confidential as it necessarily contains names and addresses.

82. The liquor section of the Act, as we call it, Section 45, has always caused confusion because it does not coincide with the liquor sections of the Licensing Act, or rather the sections in that Act which refer to aborigines and half-castes.

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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’

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]

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

Mr Pechell
Ask for report from Police, also Beagle Bay Mission
[Charles Gale]

To Officer in Charge, Police Dept, Broome
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.

To Manager, Native Mission, Beagle Bay
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.

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.
[Edmund Pechell]

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.

14th Jan 1909
Father Nicholas Emo
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,

26th Jan 1909
Broome Presbytery
To Aborigines Dept, Perth
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.)

Officer in Charge
Police Dept
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

Police Station, Broome
9th Feby 1909
To Chief Protector of Aborigines
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,
Corpl of Police

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

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

Mr W A Beaumont, Broome
June 15, 1909
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

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

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

William Eardley desires marry half caste girl

State Records Archive
Consignment: 652
Item: 1909/0002
Title: Derby. William Eardley desires marry half caste girl

To: The Chief Protector of Aborigines, Perth
Re your wire of 4th January instant William Eardeley’s application for permission to marry a halfcaste girl.
Eardeley is a young man who is hardly able to keep himself, at present he is doing odd jobs about an hotel in Derby. He never does any hard work. He appears to me to be slightly demented. He was an inpatient of the Derby Hospital some time ago, a few days ago, he was asked to pay the Hospital fee but refused to pay. He said he had no money.
I do not consider him a fit and proper person to marry the halfcaste and strongly recommend that his application be refused.
He has no home or settled place of abode.
J McCarthy
Acting Sub Inspector
[Police Station, Derby]

To: Mr William Eardeley, Derby
February 10th 1909
In reply to your application to marry a half-caste aboriginal, I beg to inform you that this cannot be granted.
I have the honor to be, Sir, Your obedient servant,
Chief Protector of Aborigines

Katitjin Notes:

William Eardley was a Scottish immigrant, born in Glasgow in 1875, who came out to South Australia with his family when he was a child. When he enlisted during the First World War at Broome in 1915, he gave his occupation as “bushman.” He was discharged 1916 on medical grounds, having contracted malaria, but re-inlisted 6 months later. After the war, he married Winifred Maud Robinson in Perth and returned to live in South Australia, where he worked as an overhead linesman and supported a family of 8 children, living in the same house for most of that time. He died in Adelaide at the age of 77, in 1952.

Given that most men simply cohabited with Aboriginal women without formally marrying, partly, no doubt, in order to avoid the difficulties involved in the process, as well as the interference of the Chief Protector of Aborigines and the Police, it would appear that Eardley was at least sincere and willing to make a formal commitment – was he really not “a fit and proper person”?

Sub-Inspector John McCarthy had been in the Police Force since 1888. He had gone to Derby in 1905, as a promotion his role in Perth as the police prosecutor at the Perth Police Court. He was well liked by the press for his courteousness, and considered a “zealous and capable” officer. He had served in the North-West, in Marble Bar and Roebourne, between about 1895 and 1900, before returning to Perth.