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Charles Grimes and the Natives of  Port Stephens

1795


Extract from An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, from its First Settlement, in January 1788, to August 1801: with Remarks on the Dispositions, Customs, Manners, Etc of the Native Inhabitants of that Country by David Collins.......

1795 March.

On the 1st of March the Francis returned from Port Stephens.

Mr. Grimes reported that he went into two fresh water branches, up which he rowed until, at no very great distance from the entrance he found them terminate in a swamp. He described the land on each side to be low and sandy, and had seen nothing while in this harbour which in his opinion could render a second visit necessary. The natives were so very unfriendly that he made but few observations on them. He thought they were a taller and stouter race of people than those about this settlement and their language was entirely different. Their huts and canoes were something larger than those which we had seen here; their weapons were the same.

They welcomed him on shore with a dance, joined hand in hand, round a tree, to express perhaps their unanimity; but one of them afterwards, drawing Mr. Grimes into the wood, poised a spear, and was on the point of throwing it, when he was prevented by young Wilson, who, having followed Mr. Grimes with a double barrelled gun, levelled at the native and fired it. He was supposed to be wounded, for he fell; but rising again he attempted a second time to throw the spear, and was again prevented by Wilson. The effect of this second shot was supposed to be conclusive, as he was not seen to rise any more. Mr. Grimes got back to his boat without any other interruption
. [1]

Lurking in the vicinity of Port Stephens at this time were several convicts who had absconded in the government vessel Cumberland in 1790 and in the intervening years had resided with the local native tribe. Select here to find out more about these absconders.

Four of the absconders were brought in to Port Jackson by Captain Broughton on the Providence in August 1795 and revealed that they had often seen the above mentioned native that Grimes believed had been killed by John Wilson.


NOTES AND LINKS

According to George Barrington in The History of New South Wales John Wilson, a convict who had lived for some time with the natives, was the first person ever in the colony to shoot a 'bird of paradise'. John Wilson was later speared and killed by natives.


REFERENCES

[1] D. Collins, An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, from its First Settlement, in January 1788, to August 1801: with Remarks on the Dispositions, Customs, Manners, Etc of the Native Inhabitants of that Country, London, 1802.