Michael Brophy

Natives at Yeeda not in need of Govt relief

State Records Archive
Consignment: 255
Item: 1900/0006
Title: Yeeda Station – natives not in need of Govt relief

Keywords: Yeeda Station, Wallal Station, Arthur Clifton, rations

[Memo]
28.11.1899
To Officer in Charge, Police Dept, Derby
The Manager of the Yeeda Station informs me that he has been feeding 10 or 12 decrepit old natives for some years past and asks whether he can get any compensation for doing so in future.
The opinion expressed in Parliament is that employers of natives should in all charity support the natives who have worked for them or their immediate relatives when they come destitute and past work and if I am to comply with requests like these from all the stations in each district, the vote allowed me will be expended before half the year is over. I should be much obliged if you would from time to time collect information for me from your officers instructing them to enquire into the condition of the natives at each station they may visit and whether the destitute ones have been former labourers thereon. This would assist me very much in deciding how much relief I can fairly allot. Please reply as soon as possible.
Henry Prinsep

[Memo]
30.12.1899
Mr Prinsep,
For your information as game of all description is very plentiful on the Fitzroy, I think it would be an unwise precedent to give relief to any of the natives.
I also think that the stations who have had natives in their employ from their childhood should be made to provide for them in their old age.
M H Brophy
Sub Inspt Police

[Memo]
29.12.1899
To Corpl Buckland
Please report for the information of Mr Prinsep if you are aware of any old or decrepit natives at the Yeeda Station who require relief.
M H Brophy
Sub Inspt Police

[Memo]
29.12.1899
To Sub Inspr Brophy
For the information of Mr Prinsep I have to report that I do not know of any old or decrepit natives at the Yeeda Station. The Yeeda is a cattle station and they do not employ a great many natives, most of those employed are young boys without women.
About two years ago, the Yeeda employed a large number of natives as they had both sheep and cattle, but they have shifted all their sheep to Myroodah about 70 miles further up the Fitzroy and most of the natives are there. There are thousands of kangaroos and plenty of fish within 2 or 3 miles of the Yeeda, so I do not think that any natives who may be at the Yeeda should require any relief.
A M Buckland

[Memo]
15.01.1900
See report from P C Buckland and remarks thereon by Inspr Brophy
Acknowledge and say I’m glad to hear that the aborigines there can get plenty of game and do not need government relief.
HP

[Letter]
19.02.1900
To Secretary, Aborigines Protection Board, Perth
Sir,
I beg to remind you it is now three months since you promised to communicate further, with regard to decrepit natives I reported requiring assistance.
I must remind you, I have had no further reply. And would like to know why! At present there is an old native and his woman on the homestead I have been keeping in food and medicine for some weeks passed as the man cannot hunt for himself and it doesn’t seem fair that stations should be called on to provide for its aged natives when something like £10,000 a year is spent in providing for them in other places of the colony.
I believe the system has been abused in places and I think it likely to continue unless there is more strict supervision. It is not my intention to dictate to the Board what is right and what is wrong. But if one can believe all one hears that goes on at some of the distributing centres. There is room for improvement in places. I think perhaps a close inspection of matters at Wallal Statoin (below La Grange Bay) would reveal a state of things far from satisfactory. I would like it to be distinctly understood my opinions are entirely based upon hearsay from travellers. But as I am stationed on the Broome-[illegible] road junction, I see nearly all travellers and consequently have the statements of many on the matter. And if half of them are true things must be in a disgraceful state. I do not wish my name used as informant in this matter but felt it was my duty to repeat this.
Yours truly,
Arthur E Clifton
Manager
Yeeda Station

[Memo]
25.05.1900
See letter from Mr A Clifton of Feb 19th 1900
Acknowledge and say that I am now in receipt of further information regarding the conditions of the natives on the Fitzroy River – their ability to get food which is abundant. In a country where there is as much game and as many able young men in the tribes to catch it and feed their old relatives, I do not think the time has arrived for the government to pamper them with too readily afforded relief, which in some other parts of the colony has been said to have pauperised them needlessly – I regret to have delayed so long in my further communication to him but other matters supervened and prevented the subject from coming up for which I must apologise – I take note of the reports which have come to him verbally from travellers and will keep an eye on the places mentioned – as to Wallal as strict measures as possible in such a distant spot are now being taken.
HP

[Letter]
02.07.1900
To Chief Protector Aborigines, Perth
Dear Sir,
I am in receipt of yours of 26th May and carefully note what you say re natives.
I extremely regret you find it unnecessary to grant relief to any of the Fitzroy natives.
It is neither my business nor intention to dictate to you what should be done.
Your source of information is if I mistake not, from one whose sympathies are not with the squatter and one who shares the opinion of a few others that the squatter should keep all the decrepit natives in the district, which is as unfair as I would be to expect a landlord to maintain all aged tenants on his holding.
There is a lot to be said on the matter which I do not care to enter into.
And I feel sure if you were to send a capable and impartial man through the district, you would gain much valuable information which you cannot get from either the Resident Magistrate or the Police for reason I will not explain.
I thoroughly agree with you that it does not do to afford relief too readily to the natives. It does an erroneous amount of harm. And I am afraid those who distribute rations at times abuse the privelege.
I can honestly assure you the cases I have brought under your notice are thoroughly deserving of relief. But I cannot in fairness to my employer continue rationing them.
Yours Faithfully,
Arthur E Clifton

[Memo]
20.07.1900
Reply and say that if there are any really urgent cases of distress among the natives in the vicinity of Yeeda Station and on reference to the Govt Resident he approves of relief being given I will certainly confirm his approval and acknowledge the account for payment. These accounts should be sent in monthly on the form prescribed (3 copies enclosed) and duly certified by someone who knows of the service having been performed. A travelling inspector will before very long be visiting his district.
CPA

[Letter]
10.08.1900
To Chief Protector Aborigines, Perth
Dear Sir,
Yours to hand re natives
As there appears to be an Inspector travelling though our district shortly I shall wait his arrival before doing anything concerning relief of natives. One of the old natives I spoke of requiring relief has since died.
Yours Truly,
Arthur E Clifton

Katitjin notes:

Clifton, Arthur Ernest (1873-1952)
The Clifton family were a prominent settler family in the Bunbury-Australind area. Their family homestead, Rosamel, in Australind, was a large dairy and sheep farm that remained in the family for subsequent generations. The Rosamel property was next door to Parkfield, the family farm of George Canler Rose, who, with other Rose family members, were also pastoralists in the Kimberleys. Furthermore, Arthur’s uncle was Archibald Gervase Clifton, who was the Resident Magistrate and Warden for the Kimberleys Goldfields District between 1892 and 1901, although his wife and four children remained living another family farm, Upton, which was adjacent to Rosamel. Arthur married in 1901 and returned to the family property in Australind.

Brophy, Michael (1858-1923)
Inspector Michael Brophy, born in New Zealand, started his police career in the Kimberley region as a trooper in 1891, before being promoted to Inspector at Kalgoorlie in 1902. He went on to Bunbury and then to Fremantle, before retiring in 1922. While in the Kimberley, Brophy led a punitive expedition which resulted in the shooting of 30 Aboriginal people. Brophy reports that, “‘In all my experience with natives I have never known them to make such plucky and determined fight as those blacks.”

Buckland, Arthur (1880-1942)
Arthur Buckland was a police officer in the Kimberley region for over twenty years. He married Amy Walker in Derby in 1905. He was officer in charge of the Wyndham Police Station during the Forrest River Massacre incident and his evidence as a witness was used in the subsequent Royal Commission.

Prinsep, Henry Charles (1844-1922)

The ‘disposal’ of Trilby’s children

State Records Archive
Consignment: 652
Item: 1909/0007
Title: Trilbys three children. Disposal of re

Swan Native & Half-Caste Mission

Swan Native & Half-Caste Mission (Source: Find and Connect)

Key phrases:

[Trilby was sentenced to 6 months hard labour in Fremantle for theft]
“From inquiries made along the line and amongst the natives I am of the opinion that this woman did not steal any of the beer”

[Justification for taking away Trilby’s daughters, aged 8 and 5, and son, aged 9]
“Unless the children are promptly removed from their present surroundings, then the two females will be forced to a life of prostitution. It is the only means of livelihood open to the female native on the Eastern Goldfields.”
“The boy has not really committed any offence but has been living by begging from the white people of Woolgas. He is apparently a very smart child as a half caste but a thorough Aboriginal in his habits.”

[Evidence that the children were protected by the Aboriginal community]
“I have to inform you that the two girls referred to are said to have gone towards Edjudina with other natives. I am having inquiries made in that direction with a view to getting possession of the girls. Will advise you as soon as they are found.”

[Report]
WA Police Dept
East Coogardie district, Boulder Station
Dec 13th 1908
Report of P E Cusack PC, relative to Aboriginal woman arrested by me at Woolgas on Sunday last the 13th inst.
I most respectfully report for your information that Aboriginal woman “Trilby” which was arrested at Woolgas on Sunday last, has three children, 2 little girls and one boy, two of them are her own and one she reared since childhood, when its mother died, their ages are about one boy 8, girl about 8 years, and the youngest little girl I think between 4 & 5 years. Those three are all half cast children, and which are now at Woolgas. The natives there promised me that they would look after these for a while.
And from inquiries made along the line and amongst the natives I am of the opinion that this woman did not steal any of the beer but certainly drunk it and was under the influence of liquor when caught be the Railway officials.
15.12.08 P E Cusack
[note on bottom of report]
Inspector Brophy
Respectfully forwarded for your information
[signature illegible]

[Letter]
16.12.08
To Commissioner of Police, Perth
Submitted. Unless the children are promptly removed from their present surroundings, then the two females will be forced to a life of prostitution. It is the only means of livelihood open to the female native on the Eastern Goldfields.
Perhaps you will be pleased to bring this matter under the notice of the Chief Protector of Aborigines
M H Brophy
Inspector of Police

[Telegram]
19.12.08
To Inspector Police, Protector Aborigines, Kalgoorlie
Please arrange to send Trilby’s two girls from Coolgardie to Salvation Army, Ward Street, Kalgoorlie. Make arrangements for their reception. See Matron and say Army officials Perth communicating with her. Boy cannot be admitted. What do you recommend?
Chief Protector of Aborgines

[Report]
WA Police Dept, North Coolgardie district, Menzies Station
1st Jan 1909
Report of Sgt Gordidge?
Relative to Tommy (Half caste)
I beg to report that this lad is about 9 years old and has been wandering about with Abo Natives since the arrest of his Abo Native mother Trilby and his Abo Native foster father “Magging” alias Paddy who are now each serving sentence of 6 months hard labour for stealing from 21.12.08 in Fremantle Gaol.
The boy has not really committed any offence but has been living by begging from the white people of Woolgas. He is apparently a very smart child as a half caste but a thorough Aboriginal in his habits.
I respectfully ask to be instructed what I am to do with him.
P H Gordidge?
[Note at bottom of report]
To CPA, Perth
Will you please advise re this boy who is now in the care of the Police here
P Duncan, District Police Officer

[Telegram]
5/1/09
To Chief Protector of Aborigines
This boys’ two sisters are already at the Sal Army Home Kalgoorlie – the matron informed me that the boy could be taken in.
Inspector Price informed instructions would be sent in a day regards the boy.

[Telegram]
8/1/09
To Inspector Duncan, Protector Aborigines, Police Station Menzies
Your wire received this morning – too late to make arrangements half-caste boy – please look after him Police Station few days – will write when arrangements complete.
Chief Protector of Aborigines

[Note]
Called up Mr Burton – not in – message sent to know if he could take the boy with the Swan Mission – reply will be sent tomorrow – there will be the same difficulty at the Swan as at the Collie re mixing of the races as they have received instructions to keep them apart.
E D P
[Edward Pechell]

[Telegram]
From Menzies Station
7/1/09
To Chief Protector of Aborigines Perth
Escort leaving for Fremantls tomorrow. ? can I forward half-caste boy referred to in Police report of second inst.
Duncan

[Memo]
WA Police Dept, Inspector’s Office, Menzies
9th Jan 1909
To Chief Protector of Aborigines, Perth
In reply to your memo of the 7th inst, I have to inform you that the two girls referred to are said to have gone towards Edjudina with other natives. I am having inquiries made in that direction with a view to getting possession of the girls. Will advise you as soon as they are found.
Duncan, District Police Officer

[Letter]
11/1/09
To Rev A Burton
Swan Native & Half-Caste Mission
Middle Swan, Perth
Dear Sir,
There is a half-caste boy named Tommy, aged 9, son of a woman named “Trilby” who has been sent to Gaol for 6 months and consequently is destitute and temporarily under charge of the Police at Menzies. I would feel obliged by your informing me whether you can receive this boy as an inmate of you mission at the usual rate paid by the Government. An early answer would oblige.
I am, dear Sir,
Yours Obediently

[Note]
Mr Burton consented verbally to take this child

[Memo]
To Inspector Duncan, Protector Aborigines, Police Station, Menzies
17/1/09
The Manager of the Swan Native and Half-caste Mission consents to take the boy Tommy. Please send him down when opportunity occurs to Midland Junction. Please let me know date and time of departure so that I can make necessary arrangements to have him met.
C F Gale
Chief Protector of Aborigines
For E D Pechell

[Memo]
From Duncan at Police Station, Menzies
To Chief Protector of Aborigines, Perth
22 Jan 1909
Re native boy Tommy. It may be some considerable time before an opportunity occurs to send the boy down. Can I send him by special escort? He is very uneasy here and cannot be trusted out of sight, spends most of his time in the lockup. I have got no further trace of the two girls yet.

[Memo]
23/1/09
To Inspector Duncan, Protector Aborigines, Menzies
In reply to your memo of 22nd inst re Tommy, please inform me what the special escort would cost and also what are the expenses incurred by his stay at Menzies per day.

[Memo]
To Chief Protector of Aborigines
26/1/09
The cost of an escort from Menzies to Midland Junction 2nd class return is £3.9.1. The expense incurred for the keep of the boy at Menzies is 1/6 per day. I expect to have an escort to Fremantle this week.
Duncan

[Note]
The two girls were received in the Girls Home at Kalgoorlie on 22/1/09

[Memo]
To Inspector Duncan, Protector Aborigines, Police Dept, Menzies
28/1/09
In reply to your memo of 26th inst re boy Tommy, please send him down by the escort expected to leave next week and give me sufficient notice to make arrangements to have him met at the Midland Junction by the mission authorities.
E D P

[Telegram]
To Chief Protector of Aborigines, Perth
From Menzies
Forwarding native boy Tommy tomorrow’s train. Please arrange to have him met at Midland Saturday morning.
Duncan

Katitjin Notes:

Question: Suggestive as it is of “garbage disposal,” is the word “disposal” appropriate for breaking up Trilby’s family through the removal of her children?

Question: Why was Tommy sent to Swan Native & Half-Caste Mission in Midland, even though the Salvation Army Home in Kalgoorlie had agreed to take him, along with his two sisters, and thus creating a further rupture in the family?

Question: If the police considered that Trilby was innocent, why was she still imprisoned?

Question: If Trilby was imprisoned (clearly unjustly) for 6 months from 21st Dec 1908 until June 1909, why weren’t the children allowed to return to her on her release? Was she informed?

Edmund Donald Pechell was Henry Prinsep and Charles Gale’s Clerk and seemingly also, sometimes, Acting Chief Protector of Aborigines between 1905 and 1908.
From the Find and Connect website:
The role of Donald Edmund Pechell in the Department in the early part of the twentieth century gives an insight into its work and structure. In 1905, giving testimony to the Roth Royal Commission, Pechell was reported (Western Mail, 18 February 1905, p.12) as being a ‘Clerk, Accountant, Etc.,’ in the Aborigines Department. Pechell was asked about his duties and said: ‘I attend to correspondence, all the accounts of the office, distribution of blankets, and all other work, with the exception of the administration, when Mr. Prinsep [the Chief Protector of Aborigines] is in Perth. When he is absent I have to attend to everything.’ Tilbrook, in Nyungar Tradition, p.37) refers to Pechell as ‘Acting Chief Protector’ in 1908 so it is possible that Pechell’s tenure extended across both Prinsep and Gale’s administration.

Inspector Michael Brophy (1858-1923), born in New Zealand, started his police career in the Kimberley region as a trooper in 1891, before being promoted to Inspector at Kalgoorlie in 1902. He went on to Bunbury and then to Fremantle, before retiring in 1922. While in the Kimberley, Brophy led a punitive expedition which resulted in the shooting of 30 Aboriginal people. Brophy reports that, “‘In all my experience with natives I have never known them to make such plucky and determined fight as those blacks.”
Source: Chris Owen

Rev Alfred Burton was the superintendent of the Swan Native and Half-Caste Mission. He was criticised heavily in the media, as this 1907 article from the Sunday Times attests with headlines “Another Burton Bomb – The Orphanage Autocrat Reaches the Limit – The Acme of Arrogance and Heartlessness.”

Salvation Army Home, Kalgoorlie
For details on this home, visit the Find and Connect website

Swan Native and Half-Caste Mission
For details on this mission, visit the Find and Connect website